Follow TV Tropes

This is based on opinion. Please don't list it on a work's trope example list.


Tear Jerker / PBS Kids

Go To

Shows with their own pages:

If a PBS Kids show has its own Tear Jerker page, add it here.

Other examples:

  • PBS Kids had its "You Are the New Day" spot in the 1990s. For a promo shown on children's television, the tone of the a cappella tune accompanying the footage sounds rather melancholy.
  • The “You Gotta Be” spot, which aired on MLK Day that features a bunch of PBS Kids characters having fun and comforting children. It’s bound to make you cry. This was also the last time we ever saw Mister Rogers before his passing.
  • The “True Colors” promo features a montage of families and PBS Kids characters showing what else? Their true colors.

Shows without their own pages:

  • The Berenstain Bears: In "Too Much Pressure", Mama becomes so overwhelmed with driving Brother and Sister to their activities that when the car stalls on their way to one, she breaks down and cries. Since Mama is generally the most level-headed of the family, this is very upsetting to see. To push it further, the 2003 TV series adaptation of said story has the cubs end up crying along with her.
  • Between the Lions:
    • The entirety of "A King and His Hawk", both in-universe and out-of-universe. About half of the episode consists of crying.
      • The story itself is not bowdlerized: the whole tragedy is shown, including the hawk's death, and we see the body next to the king. All the king can do is sit beside his friend and cry Tears of Remorse until he realizes where his castle is. "Slowly he walked down the hill to his home, his feet as heavy as his heart. The End.}
      • A good portion of the library patrons have found sad books and they are crying together.
      • Leona angrily asks Lionel why he decided to read a sad story to her. He apologetically says he should have read it ahead of time, though to be fair she just asked him to read to him so he obliged.
      • When Leona goes Break the Cutie and decides she should hide the book. She argues with her brother about it, and nearly hits him...only to remember how the king struck his hawk in a fit of fury. In a Jerkass Realization mode, she agrees to put the book back on the shelf.
    • Advertisement:
    • "The Emperor's Seed", which tells the story of how a young Chinese boy named Ping, who's entire passion was flowers is unable to grow a single seed provided to him by the emperor in his search for an heir to the throne. Ping is forced to present an empty pot in the presence of hundreds of other young children who had grown impressive flowers, and admits that his best simply was not enough. Becomes a heartwarming moment as the emperor praises Ping for his honesty, revealing that the seeds he had given everyone were cooked and thus unable to grow. For his noble act, Ping is crowned the new emperor of China.
    • Leona receiving "The Gingerbread Man" as a birthday gift, only to be heartbroken when the story ends with him being eaten. Part of the party ends up playing out like a funeral in the gingerbread man's memory, with the lions even singing a song to say goodbye to him. Silly as the whole thing is, it evokes the very real pain that is characteristic of such a moment.
    • The episode But, Mama, But... What really drives it home is when Leona sings her song "But Mama is Going Away."
    • Busterfield’s song, “Must I Just Be a Bust” is about how Busterfield wishes to be free from his dome, which he has been stuck in since 1892.
  • Caillou:
    • Caillou getting increasingly worried about death in "Caillou Is Getting Older". The scene where he tearfully admits to his parents that he does not want to die is sad too.
    • The fact that Caillou's second voice actress was killed in a car crash, and she was only seventeen.
    • Rexy feels left out because he doesn’t have any family members like Gilbert and Teddy.
    • If you aren't put off by her constant crying, whenever Rosie cries can be rather distressing.
  • Clifford the Big Red Dog:
    • In an episode, Clifford missing Emily Elizabeth and howling is really tear-jerking.
    • "Friends Forever", where a young T-Bone has to deal with the fact that his friend, Hamburger, is moving away. Their goodbye is sad enough as is, even if you didn't grow up watching their voice actors.
    • Some of the songs in "Clifford's Really Big Movie" are pretty sad.
    • In real life, the death of Norman Bridwell, the creator of Clifford.
    • Especially sad was the sudden death of Clifford's voice actor, John Ritter, which is believed to be part of the reason for the series' cancellation.
  • Ghostwriter:
    • Calvin was a Jerkass but his devastation at losing his beloved parrot is pretty sad, especially for people who have also experienced the death of a pet.
    • Alex's friend Kevin selling his deceased grandfather's basketball trophy (his prized possession) to pay for his drug habit.
    • How badly Jamal and Rob take the possibility of the Ghostwriter Team breaking up in the "Get the Message" arc. Particularly Rob since it's heavily implied that the Team are his first friends in a while. Then Rob gets hit again when his dad transfers the family to Australia.
    • Examples from the books
      • In the book "Steer Clear of Haunted Hill", Alex and Leni's reactions to their loved ones (Gabby and Max respectively) having disappeared is positively heartbreaking. The disappearance of Rob isn't any better and might be worse from a Meta standpoint since this wasn't his Leeroy Jenkins getting him in trouble; it was him being Too Clever by Half by refusing to buy that the crooks he ran into were actually ghosts (they weren't but that's not the point).
      • In the book where Alex gets kidnapped in the middle of a magic show, Gabby tearfully blames herself, in part because she and Alex had been bickering incessantly before the incident and also because she got the attention of the 2 stars who Alex witnessed arguing (they were among the main suspects and hadn't noticed Alex until Gabby yelled at him).
    • A meta one: Rob is great with the English language so if he hadn't left, he could have been a second Big Brother Mentor to Hector, helping him master speaking English. Instead Rob leaves and some members of the fanbase hate on Hector for replacing him.
    • Ghostwriter's ultimate identity- he was an escaped slave (possibly even Jamal's ancestor Ezra) who had taught himself to read and was teaching other slaves to read, up until slave catchers learned of what he was doing, and they and their dogs killed him. Somehow, his ghost ended up inside a book for 125 years until Jamal freed him in the pilot. Yikes.
      • And what are some of the first words he writes? Asking if "the children" are all right; said children were likely killed by the dogs as well.
  • It's a Big Big World:
    • The song that closes every episode, "Try To Touch The Sky".
    • The creator of the show, Mitchell Kriegman, created the show in response to September 11. "I was in New York when 9/11 happened, and having three kids, you discover pretty quickly that it changed their sense of the world." He wanted to show kids through this show that there was still beauty in the world, despite all the terrible events occurring around them.
    • In "The More Things Change": Ick, Bob, and Smooch & Winslow crying over things changing in the episode (Ick cries about being too big to fit into his hiding spot during a game of hide-and-seek to avoid getting tagged by Bob, Bob crying because Ick is crying, and Smooch & Winslow crying over their favorite branch breaking off the tree).
    • In "King of the Tree": Bob becomes upset that all the rain they've been getting during a downpour ends up getting his entire house waterlogged, then worrying that the rain will wash away all the ants.
    • In "So Long Planty": Smooch mourning the loss of her house plant Planty.
  • Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks:
    • There is something tearjerky about Don Toro being a widower. In the episode, Waking Thor, Ferny's pet goldfish dies which causes him to become depressed. To cheer him up, Don Toro ends up explaining that it isn't healthy to forget those we have loved and lost. The subtle drop in volume as he says "Some things we should never forget" (paraphrased) while looking at a portrait of Ferny's Mom while resting a hand on her face tenderly gives one THE FEELS!
      • The topic of Don Toro and Ferny discussing death is even more depressing because the voice actors for both Don Toro (Fernando Escandon) and Ferny (Russi Taylor) both have passed away in 2017 and 2019 respectively.
  • Katie and Orbie:
    • Anytime the usually cheerful Katie becomes sad and cries, but especially two episodes: Am I Invisible? (where she thinks her family doesn't love her anymore as they are busy with other things) and Everybody Gets the Blues (where she has a sad and grumpy day and thinks she'll never be happy again). Thankfully, both episodes have heartwarming endings (in the first one, Orbie and her parents give her a surprise, and in the latter, neighbor Mrs. Parette cheers her up by making her remember 10 things that make her feel happy).
    • Great Uncle David is also a bit of a tear jerker from an adult perspective, if not a kid's, as the elderly title character is shown feeling sad at not being able to live independently anymore, having to leave his house and garden behind to move into a retirement home, and still mourning his wife's death (the only time in the whole series that this is mentioned); it ends on a happy note, though, with Katie and Orbie helping him make friends and find happiness in his new home.
  • Kidsongs:
    • "Mary Had A Little Lamb" shows Mary's classmates laughing while her teacher scolds her for bringing a noisy lamb into class. She does a Face Palm and the teacher leaves the lamb outside until Mary reunites with it at lunch.
    • "Santa Please Don't Forget Me" as the singer admits that he hasn't been that good a kid, but he apologizes for the wrong things that he did, including watching TV while doing homework and staying up late reading. Santa in the meantime has a neutral expression about it. On a brighter note, however, after the song ends, Santa asks if surely the singer did something nice, and the singer replies that he found a lost puppy and took care of it until its owner could reclaim it.
  • Kratts' Creatures:
    • The folktale of the rhino who, when he got horns, was laughed at for having them on his face, and the bird that gave him the horns faced exile for doing it wrong.
    • The fact that many baby elephants are orphans because poachers killed their parents.
    • The "footage" of the last Tasmanian tiger, which died in a zoo and made the species extinct.
  • Lamb Chop's Play-Along:
    • In one episode, Hush Puppy enters a sweepstakes to win a bike but winds up not winning in the end and learning that losing is a part of life. Maybe not that sad to an adult, but for any kids who had to learn that same thing, it may bring back painful memories of going through that experience.
    • In the episode "Peer Pressure," Lamb Chop gets kicked out of the "in-crowd" of girls at school because her new denim jacket is (literally) yesterday's fashion. Like the above example, it's sad for any kid who's gone through a similar experience, especially because it's one of the rare times that feisty little Lamb Chop is ever shown crying.
    • Shari Lewis' death counts as a real life example.
      • Speaking of which, she recorded this song titled "Hello, Goodbye" (not to be confused with the Beatles song of the same name) for the spinoff Charlie Horse Music Pizza, just a few hours after being diagnosed with uterine cancer. Have tissues beside you while listening to it.
  • Maya & Miguel: When Maggie gets braces, she is incredibly insecure about her looks, since she is presumably the only one who wears them in the school, and all the boys bully her when she gets pieces of food stuck in them, which causes her to run off in tears.
  • The Noddy Shop:
    • "Thank You For Being You" is a bittersweet song about how the puppets love Noah. After the actor who played him, Sean McCann, died of heart disease, it really tugs at the heartstrings, especially the last few lines of the song.
    • "Anything Can Happen At Christmas", because of its message that love is important around the holidays.
  • Peep and the Big Wide World: Anytime a character cries.
  • The Puzzle Place:
    • "The Ballad of Davy Cricket" which talks about death in light of the passing of Jody's cricket. Pretty depressing for a children's edutainment series.
    • "Party of One" deals with racism in which Leon is banned from attending a friend's birthday due to the former being African-American.
  • Reading Rainbow:
    • The season 5 episode "My Little Island", which involves LeVar exploring the culture and natural beauty of Montserrat. The episode itself is fun and light-hearted, but watching it after the 1995 eruption of the Soufriere Hills volcano, which destroyed the capital city and rendered more than half the island uninhabitable, is heartbreaking.
    • The cancellation of the show.
    • WNED’s lawsuit with LeVar. LeVar very honestly wants to take the brand onto a new, more interactive and now more widespread medium, and continue encouraging kids to read. WNED instead went back on their word (that they’ve sold LeVar the entire copyrights and trademark to the show, claiming that the franchise was never sold to LeVar and that he was mistaken) and won. Even worse, this victory has caused the new shorts LeVar filmed to vanish off the internet.
  • Shining Time Station:
    • A lot of "Is This the End?".
    • In universe, Schemer finds the song Danny Boy to have this effect.
  • Wild Kratts
    • Maxilla's death in "Voyage of the Butterflier XT."
    • Aviva crying when her family heirloom - a badminton birdie - was stolen in "Caracal-Mitton".
    • Martin being unable to save the Dodos from extinction in "Back in Creature Time, Part 1."
    • In "Part 2," Martin tries to take a baby Tasmanian Tiger to the present, but realizes he'll be taking him away from his parents.
  • Zoom:
    • The death of Jared Nathan via a car accident in 2006.
    • When Caroline finally left the show after four seasons. It doesn't help that the show underwent some major retooling right after she did.
    • The first 9/11 episode, where the kids talk about their feelings regarding the tragedy. They then end the show with a sobering but energetic song as the credits play, which takes the place of the usual cheery theme song.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: