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Tear Jerker / Sesame Street

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Sure, Sesame Street teaches you the basics like letters and numbers, but it's never afraid to tug at your heartstrings.

We of course start off with the BIGGEST tear jerker in Sesame Street history: the death of Mr. Hooper.
  • On December 7, 1982, Will Lee, known for his 13 years as kindly shopkeeper Mr. Hooper, died of a heart attack at the age of 74. There were initially plans to recast him and act like nothing happened. But the producers soon decided that the best thing to do would be to tackle Lee's passing head on by killing off the character too, and teach children that death is a part of life, with Big Bird acting as the children's surrogate. Here's the clip.
    • At first, Big Bird doesn't understand when Maria tells him Mr. Hooper died. He says he'll give his drawing when Mr. Hooper comes back. Susan looks around, aghast and guilty, before delivering the Wham Line: "Big Bird, Mr. Hooper's not coming back." Cue the waterworks as Big Bird starts to break down on learning when people die, they can't return. Mr. Hooper is gone forever.
    • When Big Bird says that it'll never be the same, prompting the famous line from Bob (in which you can hear the very real wavering in his voice) as the adults start sniffling: "You're right, Big Bird. It'll never be the same around here without him. But you know something? We can all be very happy that we had the chance to be with him, and to know him... and to love him a lot when he was here."
    • When Big Bird asks why it had to happen and he says, "Give me one good reason!" and you know that no one can, because there is no good reason. Gordon gives him the only possible answer, which is both realistic and so very sad: "It has to be this way... because." This is also a nod to an earlier scene where Big Bird was walking backward with his head between his legs, telling Gordon he was doing it "just because."
    • Even though she's crying, Maria can't help but smile when Big Bird gets Mr. Hooper's name wrong, for one last time. She corrects him, and the adults envelop him in a Group Hug.
    • What made this scene so realistic, touching and emotional was indeed the genuine emotion shown by the adults as they comfort Big Bird in his realization that, indeed, his beloved Mr. Hooper was never coming back. The scene – done in one take and kept intact – showed that even adults (who fully understand the concept of death) cry and feel very sad when someone close to them dies, and that it is OK to cry, sometimes together, when something sad happens.
  • The scene where Big Bird tells Snuffy that he has to go away, as he has been convinced by his friends that Snuffy doesn't exist... until he starts wiping away Snuffy's tears, and realizes that Snuffy must be real, as he's crying real tears.
    • This scene gets an emotional Call-Back later in Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird where two children sneak into the tent where Big Bird is being held prisoner and wonder if he's real. Then they see a tear and remark that he must be real. Muppet magic.
  • Some of the songs:
    • While "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon" wasn't really meant to be sad, it has a bittersweet vibe due to the slow pace and the emotional message about not wanting want to reside in certain places for fear of missing your family, favorite places, and friends.
      • This song is especially poignant in regards to Ernie's duet with Aaron Neville in 1993. First, Ernie lip-synchs to the original track by Jim Henson (creating the illusion that Henson was still posthumously performing on Sesame Street), and second, the segment turned out to be the last featuring Henson's voice to be re-run on a new episode of the show, around season 39.
    • "It's Not Easy Bein' Green." There's a reason this one was preserved in the National Recording Registry. It's a slow song about how Kermit doesn't always like being green, since he sometimes thinks green is a boring colour.
    • "What Do I Do When I'm Alone?" has Grover talk about the things that he does while he's by himself. It heads into Tear Jerker territory when he mentions that sometimes when he's alone, he gets lonely because he has nobody to show what he's doing. Thankfully, it ends on a light note.
      Grover: "And you are here. So I'm not alone. And I'm happy."
    • "Has Anybody Seen My Dog?" In this song, a boy (played by Jerry Nelson) is crying over the loss of his beloved dog and asking if anyone has seen him. Grover, being the trying helper he is, attempts to help look for the boy's pet, but brings back other animals instead. It is only when Grover and the boy cry over the dog potentially being lost forever that the animal (played by a live canine) returns. For anyone who has ever lost a pet and worried about their whereabouts, this song is especially heartbreaking.
    • Darling, our marriage is doomed. Here stands your heartbroken groom... "Don't Walk" is a lesser example, but it still counts because it's a man singing about how he wants to get married, but can't because of the "don't walk" sign, and he sings lyrics like the quoted one.
      • "One Way" as well, due to the scene where the biker doesn't know how to get to his girlfriend's house past the 'One Way' sign and worries that it won't work out between them, though it ends on a heartwarming note with the girlfriend riding on the back of his bike.
      • From the same album as "One Way" (1977's Signs to be exact), "Please Keep Off The Grass". Marilyn Sokol soars on vocals. It's a blade of grass who sings about not wanting to be stepped upon, which may sound silly on paper, but the slow croony singing makes it seem like a Soulful Plant Story.
    • A more obscure example: "I Think That It Is Wonderful". While it has no sad vocals, it is another slow-paced, emotional song, emotional because they're singing slowly about things they find wonderful before going to bed.
    • The film insert/song It's alright to cry (and it certainly is) is another example, due to its powerful message and the fact that it's very natural to be faced with sad situations (hurting your knee, "when your stomach aches, and your heart aches, too", being cranky and tired, being sad for so many reasons that they're overwhelming and you can't put them into words, etc).
    • Little Jerry and the Monotones' song "Sad" (lead vocals by Jerry Nelson) is also all about being unashamed to cry. As a neat Parental Bonus (at least by 1974 standards; it might count as a Grandparental Bonus in the 21st century), Big Jeffie's narration at the end of the song is a Shout-Out to Little Anthony and the Imperials' "Tears on My Pillow," Dee Clark's "Raindrops," and Lesley Gore's "It's My Party," all classic oldies themed around crying or tears.
      Jerry: "I'm sad."
      Monotones: "So sad, so sad."
      Jerry: "Oh boy, am I feeling bad!"
      Monotones: "So bad, so bad."
      Jerry: "I wipe the tears from my eye-y-y-y-y-y-y. Want to sit down and cry-y-y!"
    • I'm An Earthworm is an example of the good kind of tearjerker. It speaks to the degree of triumph a worm has been able to accomplish and the beauty of elements of space, particularly as seen from the sky, but it also makes note of the things Slimey and, indeed, people can only experience on Earth, and, except in highly favorable circumstances, as part of a life lived on Earth, things such as love and music. The song ends with Slimey singing that he's committed to life on Earth, in no small part because there are no experiences such as kissing to be had in space.
    • "Feeling Good, Feeling Bad" is a whole rollercoaster of emotions that sometimes goes into this territory. It starts with Ernie singing about how happy he is and Bert interjecting about his various negative emotions: first sadness ("Do I feel bad!"), then anger ("Grr! I feel like getting mad!" and "Me, I'm feeling crosser than a bear."), then apathy ("And I don't care!"). Eventually, Bert cheers up...but Ernie now has Bert's negative emotions. Luckily, after they go through the song again, they're both happy.
    • There's this one song called "All I Can Do Is Cry". About the three little kittens crying because one of them lost her mitten. Enough to make a lot of cat lovers tear up.
      Ginger Cat: "Whatever happened to that mitten? I'm so sad my heart is splitting. Never got a chance to say goodbye."
    • "Willie Wimple" tells a story about a young boy who chops down trees and litters and the disastrous consequences of what would happen if all children cut down trees and littered. They talk about how there'd be no room due to litter everywhere, no rivers (and therefore nowhere for fish to live and nowhere to sail), no submarines or swimming, no plants or bees and nowhere for birds to live.
      Singer: "If every kid did it, can't you see what an empty, ugly, messy, dirty, icky, messy, no-fun world it would be? Yuck!"
    • The song "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe" (released on the CD Elmo's Lowdown Hoedown) is an in-universe example, as it describes a cafe where cowboys and cowgirls let out their sadness. After the song ends, They cheer up and....
      Cowboy: Hey, You know that I had a good cry. I feel better!
      Cowgirl: Me too! I am not sad anymore! I feel happy!
      A Horse: Hey, What do you all want to do?
      A Cow: Let's to the Happy Cow-Lounge!
      Cowgirl: Oh, I love that place!
      Cowboy: Yee-haw! Let's go there! (As they leave the Sad Cafe).
    • Just Take a Look at 15" is a doo-wop type song about a number 15 who feels unnoticed. Apparently, the boy knows all the other teens except her and she thinks "life is mean". She even cries at one point on the hopscotch. You'd think there'd be a happier way to teach numbers.
    • One song, sang by Olivia, is about how she is awfully sad for no good reason.
      Olivia: "I'm sad and it's not much fun to be. And though I know this feeling soon will go, right now, it's bothering me."
    • "Island of Emotion" is about an island with sections for different emotions. The sadness section, Weeping River, has everyone crying.
    • "Brothers And Sisters" has the lyric "good dogs can go astray, best friends can move away". Especially the dogs part for anyone who owns a dog, is friends with a friend's dog, or is thinking of getting a dog. After all, you can always write to, text, telephone or email a friend who's moved away but if a dog goes astray, you have to resort to searching.
    • "I'm So Blue", sung by Big Bird in Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird. Buckets of tears and a definite need for a hug (or, if the viewer is not a hugger, something equivalent), even when watched as an adult. Poor Big Bird! For context, Big Bird was painted blue and put in a cage and the song talks about how lonely and homesick he feels.
    • "I Wish I Had a Friend to Play With" has Bert singing about how lonely he is after Ernie rejects his suggestions. Luckily, Ernie makes it better.
    • The song "If Moon was Cookie," especially towards the end when Cookie Monster realizes that if he ate the moon, there would be no moonlight, and he couldn't look out his window at the moon ever again. Coupled with the simple, yet effective, instrumentation of the song and it becomes a thing of beauty. Just give it a listen.
  • The Gift of the Magi Plot with Ernie, Bert and Mr. Hooper in Christmas Eve on Sesame Street. Particularly Bert and Ernie voluntarily bartering away their most prized possessions. The Muppeteers are geniuses at conveying emotion without words. Fortunately, Mr. Hooper realizes what's going on and steps in to help.
  • The Here is Your Life segments sometimes have some dramatic moments with a contestant's neighbor/friend. It happened with the Oak Tree (when Marty and Sarah became chairs), Red House (which moved away from the yellow house), Left sneaker becomes a modern sculpture, and the loaf of breads' friend became peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and French toasts.
    Right Sneaker: It was like twin-brother (voice breaksdown) but lost each other.
    Guy Smiley: Well, Get ready, Because we found him.
    Right Sneaker: Oh no! You couldn't have.
    Guy Smiley: Yes, we did. Here he is at the Museum of Contemporary Arts, Formerly a left sneaker and now, THE MODERN SCULPTURE.
  • The small cartoon with An Aesop about telling the truth. It begins with a small girl named Cookie with purple skin and crazy red hair and her yellow cat Lucy playing baseball. On the third strike, the window breaks and Cookie mopes that it's the "end of her baseball career". This is tear-jerking enough, but then she has an Imagine Spot about what would happen if she lied that Lucy broke the window: "They" (probably her parents and possibly other relations like siblings) would lock Lucy out and she would have to live in the doghouse with Bruno the dog, but wouldn't like it as he doesn't like to share and would bark at her, so she would run away never to be seen by Cookie again. This leads Cookie to tell the truth to her mother in a very emotional way.
    Cookie: "Mommy! A terrible thing happened!"
    Cookie's mom: "What, Cookie? WHAT?!"
    Cookie: "Oh, you're going to be so mad at me. I was playing baseball with Lucy (starts doing cartoony crying) and I threw the ball (covers her eyes while still crying) and the ball went up, and the ball, it went through the window (puts her hands back down) and it broke! (puts her face up against her mother's dress, gently tugs on it with her arm, still crying) And I didn't mean to do it!" (makes high-pitched sobbing noises)
    • But luckily, her mom forgives her and tells her that everyone makes mistakes, and that it's okay to tell the truth.
  • An in-universe example occurs on one of the game show sketches, ''The Crying Game''. In this sketch, host Sonny Friendly tells a contestant a sad story; the contestant that cries the hardest wins the game. Ultimately, the grand prize is Sonny Friendly's own teddy bear. This causing Friendly to cry the hardest, thus winning the game. The contestants all cry en masse after the announcer says that they have nothing left over for them.
    Announcer: Today's best crier will win Sonny Friendly's very own teddy bear!
    Sonny Friendly: MY TEDDY BEAR?! THAT'S THE GRAND PRIZE?! BUT... BUT I LOVE MY TEDDY BEAR!!! YOU CAN'T DO THAT!!! (crying loudly)
    Announcer: Sonny Friendly, you are the best crier on The Crying Game. You win
    Sonny Friendly: WHAT?! I WIN? YOU MEAN I GET TO KEEP MY TEDDY BEAR?! (gasps) WOW!!! This is the happiest day of my life! Yeah, thank you! Yeah, thank you! But what do we have for our contestants here?
    Announcer: NOTHING!
    Luke Warm: Nothing?! That's awful!
    Ida Nomer: THAT'S NOT FAIR!
    Pierre Blue: IT MAKES ME SO SAD!
    (All the contestants start crying)
    Sonny Friendly: Well, I guess we all can't be winners, huh? (laughs) Yeah, well, thank you and see you you next time on The Crying Game. (to his teddy bear) Oh, Teddy! It's good to have you back. (kisses his teddy bear)
  • A Two-Headed Monster skit (the first in episode #2228) provides another in-universe example, where they're presented with the letters "S" and "AD". As the letters get put together into the word "SAD", they get all emotional. Like any time Muppet characters on this show cries, it straddles the line between funny and touching.
  • The trope name is mentioned verbatim by Alistair Cookie when the Monsterpiece Theatre parody of 12 Angry Men starts with a Fake-Out Opening sketch-within-a-sketch called Three Sad Cows, which is about, well, three sad cows.
    Alistair Cookie: CUT!!! Me very sorry. That wasn't Twelve Angry Men, That was Three Sad Cows. Story of three cows who are very sad. What a barnyard tearjerker.
  • The moment when Luis and Maria failed to fix Slimey's busted tuba made Slimey very sad and Telly sadly blurted that Slimey will not be able to play at The Worm World Music Festival. It was so heartbroken until Telly's struck his head and gets an idea.
    Telly Monster: Why didn't I think of this before?!? I have a tuba! Slimey can use my tuba! Slimey, I will meet you at the Music Festival.
  • Much of part 2 of the 2001 hurricane arc is this, especially Big Bird's reaction to his nest being blown away from the Hurricane from the previous episode (quoted below). Anyone that lost something cherished in a similar incident - especially their own homes - can definitely relate. There's a reason why all the street scenes from the hurricane week were compiled to help children cope with hurricanes and other disasters (not to mention several reairings after subsequent high-profile hurricanes).
    Gordon: Oh my...
    Big Bird: (shocked) Oh, Gordon!
    Gordon: Oh no...!
    Big Bird: (panicking) My home! My nest! My—my everything!
    Gordon: Big Bird, it's alright, it's alright.
    Big Bird: No, it's not!
    Gordon: You're right. You're right, Big Bird. It's not alright. But it— it will be all right.
    Big Bird: But... but my nest! What happened to my nest?!
    Gordon: Well, the wind was so strong that it just blew it all apart.
    Big Bird: Oh... ohh... (cries)
    Gordon: (comforting Big Bird) It's all right, Big Bird, I'm here with you.
  • The episode (made in the wake of the September 11th attacks) where Elmo becomes traumatized after a fire breaks out at Hooper's Store. It starts out as a nice day with Elmo and Maria going out to lunch. Fried chicken is the special of the day, and the grease happens to start a fire. Once they escape, Elmo is shaking in fear, hugging Maria's leg very tight. Once they are told everything is alright and they can go back in, Elmo lets go of Maria's leg as she and Alan start to head back. Elmo starts to cry as he says he doesn't want to go to the store anymore. Don't you just want to give the little guy a hug to comfort him?
    Alan: It's okay. There's nothing to be afraid of. The chief said that the fire is out.
    Elmo: Elmo doesn't care, Alan! Elmo doesn't want to go back into Hooper's Store ever again! (breaks down in tears as Alan and Maria try to comfort him)
  • The children's book Ernie's Big Mess. Bert, increasingly frustrated at Ernie making messes, finally loses his temper, screams that he wishes he lived alone, and storms away. Stunned and hurt, Ernie, thinking this means Bert hates him now, decides to move out. After being unsuccessful in finding a place to sleep - the straw in Big Bird's nest is uncomfortable, Grover's bed is too small to hold him and Ernie, and Oscar laughs off Ernie's desire for a soft, comfortable sleeping place - Ernie ends up sleeping on the sidewalk. He and a repentant Bert eventually do reconcile, but seeing Ernie convinced he's lost his best friend forever is heartrending. Jim Henson's performance as Ernie on the book-and-record set does a good job of selling Ernie's misery.
  • Though somewhat played for laughs, episode #3626 (consisting of a play called "The Princesses and the Stick") has two princesses (played by Gabi and Rosita), two baseball players (Lexine and Luis), a guy who juggles hats (Carlos), and a fisherman (Telly) all cry (eventually all together) because they can't find the single stick that was used to solve their problem before.
    • And if that wasn't enough, the narrator (Celina) starts to get emotional when she goes further into the sad parts of the story.
  • Taking a nod from Mr. Hooper's death, there is a special that dealt with Elmo dealing with the death of his Uncle Jack. When Elmo’s family meets up with Rosita and Jack’s surviving family at the park, Elmo’s older cousin Jessie (Jack’s daughter) is having an especially hard time dealing with the loss of her dad. She doesn’t want anyone touching her “special bag” (which contains items that remind her of her dad) and even refuses to talk about him. Fortunately, her uncle Louie (Elmo’s dad) gets her to open up and says it’s okay to be upset, but they can remember all the good times they had with Uncle Jack. The special, entitled When Families Grieve, part of the Talk, Listen, Connect series for military families — meaning Jack was likely killed in action overseas — was nominated for an Emmy in 2010, but lost to the only other nominee, a Nick News special about cancer.
  • Also from the "Talk, Listen, Connect" series, Rosita’s father Ricardo returns home from the military, except now he’s paralyzed and in a wheelchair. Rosita is upset because he can no longer dance or play soccer with her.
  • The show has a resource kit for families with incarcerated parents. There's a little cartoon film about a girl and her family going to visit her father in prison. It might be the saddest thing in Sesame Street history.
    It's hard not to be able to touch or hug each other, but Daddy blows me a kiss. I tell him I'll save it for later. Before we know it, it's time to go already. I wish my father can come with us. But this place is where he has to be. Because he violated the law.
  • This animated skit features Noodles the animated Funny Animal cat breaking his owner Nedd's toy plane (specifically, one of the wings fell off). At one point, he has this thought bubble where he's carrying the wing in a bag while wearing a cap and looking dejected. This could be interpreted as either him considering running away from home and taking the wing with him or him considering the possibility of having to take the wing with him to school and feeling guilty about having broken it. Either way, it's tearjerking. Doesn't help that that skit was written by John R. Dilworth (whom you may recognize as the creator of Courage the Cowardly Dog), who reportedly was a bit morbid and made his skits slightly Darker and Edgier than standard Sesame Street.
  • On the street scene for episode 2402, the Two-Headed Monster's sobbing in failure at being unable to stop Irvine the grouch's tantrum (which had disrupted the former's lullaby on violin). Maria had said that a grouch baby isn't like a regular baby - Irvine always has a tendency to scream and cry a lot. The whole thing positions itself headlong into Narm Charm. Especially when coupled with Maria's comment on this situation:
    Maria: (To Irvine, who gets more upset), No! Stop it, Irvine. (To the Two-Headed Monster, who ends up sobbing in failure) Oh no! Not you too! (To the viewers) Oh no! And now I have got three people crying... or is it two?
  • One of the Ernie and Bert skits (Episode 1520) features Bert feeling sad out-of-the-blue and to Ernie's confusion. He then proceeds to list the things that make him sad. Bert feels better, but Ernie doesn't by the end of it. The last thing Ernie lists is losing your best friend, about which he goes into excruciating detail. To add extra emotional punch, this scene was rerun in an episode in Season 21, just a few months before Jim Henson's own passing.
  • The episode where Big Bird's Transatlantic Equivalent Abelardo comes to visit and they both end up losing each other. They then both sing a song, without realizing they're together.
  • Two of the last tracks on the Greatest Hits Album Platinum All Time Favorites fit this trope (even if they're rarely sung nowadaysnote ): "Little Things" sung by Prairie Dawn (a song by the show's MVP composer Joe Raposonote ), and "We Are All Earthlings", an affirmation that we all share this beautiful planet. They're a bit syrupy, sure, but that's what makes them so enjoyable.
    • The remake of "We Are All Earthlings" sung by Jill Scott on the show in 2002 also qualifies, not only because of the slower, more soulful rendition of the song, but also because the sketch itself made its first appearance in the premiere episode of season 33 (the one where Hooper's Store caught fire and Elmo visited a firehouse), which was produced in response to al-Qaeda's attacks on, and destruction of, the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Hearing a song about the wonders of Earth and everything that lives on it in an episode of a kids' show made after a terrorist attack that left close to 3,000 people dead is heartwarming, heartbreaking and even a little chilling.
    • With the above in mind, one particular verse from the song, "All of us can have a happy/Healthy place to be/If we can float and swim and climb/In earthling harmony" can be taken much differently. While the original version sings this verse as an optimistic hope that the world can be a better place if everyone on it can get along, the remake can be taken by some to be a plea for an end to post-9/11 war, especially after such tragedy and uncertainty that had hit the U.S. months before the segment aired.
  • The 2003 compilation Songs From The Street 35 Years Of Music ends with a remix of the main theme that interpolates samples of some of the show's older albums, showing how far the show has come since then.
  • The moment with a new Muppet character named Alex. Talking about many fathers made him very upset since his father violated the law and has to go to jail for life. They explained that incarceration. He was not the only person who had his father sent to jail. Sofia had to go through her life when her father was sent to jail. This was part of the Little Kids, Big Challenge moment on Sesame Street.
  • A cartoon insert about a little girl figuring out why is the puppy so sad. The first two thoughts were incorrect, but her last thought was that a big bulldog had stolen the little puppy's bone. And she went, "OH MY!" and gave that puppy a bone. Luckily, it made the puppy feel better.
  • The song, "Sticks and Stones" from Episode 4518, where Chris and Leela teach Zoe that words are powerful and if you’re not careful with them, you could make a mistake you can’t take back. Zoe got frustrated with Elmo when he couldn’t dance and called him, "the worst", which hurts Elmo deeply and he ends their friendship. Zoe does apologize and Elmo does end up forgiving her, but imagine if Zoe didn’t learn...
  • The book "It's Not Fair!" has a particularly sad part near the end — upon seeing Ernie get all the credit for their lemonade stand, Bert snaps and angrily starts ranting about how he did all the work and nobody even thanks him for it...before running off in tears, making everyone feel guilty, especially Ernie. Happily, there's a Heartwarming Moment when Ernie uses the money earned from the lemonade to buy Bert a present to cheer him up.
  • Elmo rarely cries, but when he does, it's almost heartbreaking and you can't help but feel sorry for him.
    • In episode #3430, when Elmo is pretending to be sad in a game he calls the "Crying Game". This is actually funny, but it turns sad when Elmo actually does become sad.
    • The entirety of episode #3587 is this, with Elmo being sad for the majority of the episode, especially when he doesn't respond to tickling. Even worse is that the reason he's sad is because his fish (not Dorothy, another one called Bubbles) died.
    • The song, "Elmo Didn’t Mean To" from Episode 4302 when Elmo feels guilty for how badly he treated Abby and Telly during a game.
    • One episode has Elmo sad when the adults are too busy to tell him a story, but thankfully it only lasts a few moments. There's also his story ending on the Royal Elmo being tired and too busy to play, but that's just something he made up.
    • In Kermit's happy/sad lecture, he becomes sad because Kermit doesn't want to play with him and starts to cry. Thankfully, it gets better, but not until after several dramatic mood swings from Elmo.
  • When Curly Bear is born, Baby Bear vents his sorrows over the changes in his life to Telly. As you can imagine with Baby Bear being a bit of a Large Ham when he's sad, this was pretty tearjerking. He cries, leans on Telly, calls himself a "wreck", and even suspects that his parents don't love him as much as Curly.
  • "Sesame Street Home Video Visits the Hospital" has Big Bird get sick and have to spend several days in the hospital. His I-wish-I-wasn't-sick moments can be very tearjerking, especially the scene where he cries after getting a shot and asks "What did I do wrong to get sick?"
    • Similarly, the regular show had a two-part story where Maria gets sick and needs to go to the hospital. It's not just disheartening to see her sick, but also that it starts with Maria playing when she is interrupted by pain. Big Bird also repeats the sentiment from the video that it was his fault Maria got sick because he asked her to do something unusual right as she fell ill.
  • The one where Gabi gets sick on her birthday. The summary should go without saying, but to explain further, it doesn't even start out like a Sick Episode— just like a normal Birthday Episode, but then when Maria kisses Gabi’s forehead, she suddenly gets a doubtful look and notes that Gabi is "warm" and they should take her to the doctor. Seeing as this is TV and the only reason they'd put that in is if she actually was sick, she turns out to have a mild flu, and despite eventually being happy, she still can't have the party.
    Nearly everybody: "It's okay to be sad if you're sick on your birthday."
  • Big Bird getting bullied about being too big, too yellow, and sounding too funny to be in the "Good" Birds Club. The saddest part is that each reprise of his originally happy song is sadder.
  • In one of the episodes, everyone: (Oscar, his pets, Elmo, Telly, the kids, Maria...) misses Slimey the worm who's on the moon. They're so sad that it's hard not to feel sorry for them.
  • One episode has Telly chasing a penguin that stole his Triangle Guy costume. He gets so angry that he wants to hit the penguin and Gina asks him to think on what might happen if he tries that idea. What follows is an Imagine Spot where the penguin gets hurt and Telly goes to jail for hitting it. By the end Telly is horrified by what his temper could have made him do.
  • One animated skit featured a mouse singing a song about four cats having different emotions, two of them being sad (which makes the mouse sad too) and angry.
  • In "Elmo Saves Christmas", Elmo wishes it was Christmas every day. When they travel in time to the next "real Christmas", they find out that nobody likes Christmas anymore and it's all dystopian. Some highlights (lowlights?) include the Count being bored of counting the days (and seeming apathetic in general), Big Bird is crying because he hasn't seen Snuffy (who was staying with his grandmother in Cincinnati) all year and the carol singers have lost their voices. Fortunately, thanks to time-travel, it gets resolved.
    • Also sad (and scary) is the scene where Elmo innocently asks Maria why she's upset because "Christmas is fun". She, in a voice that clearly hints at a breakdown, snaps that she's sick of having fun and wants to actually do her job, only to mix up what kind of appliance she's picked up and bemoan that catching up will be impossible.
  • In episode that shows Maria and Luis's wedding, the song "Wedding Pictures" expresses everyone's private thoughts during the ceremony. It's mostly a blend of heartwarming and funny, but there are two tearjerking moments. One is Maria's mother singing "I wish her father could have lived to see this day." The other is David, Maria's ex-boyfriend, singing about how strange it feels to think of her as someone else's wife.
  • The reprise of "Ni Hao" in Big Bird in China when Big Bird almost loses hope on his search of the Phoenix. If that wasn't sad enough, the song ends with him shedding a Single Tear (which later gets a callback in Follow That Bird).
    Xiao Foo: (thinking) Even if we didn't find the Phoenix, I'm glad we came. At least Big Bird got to see some of my beautiful land. Oh China, could there be a valley like this anywhere else in the world...?
  • Big Bird in Japan has its fair share of moments as well:
    • Big Bird and Barkley getting lost from the bus tour they were supposed to be in. Big Bird sings about how homesick he feels, and it's absolutely heartbreaking. Barkley's howling doesn't help either.
    • Kaguya-Hime's growing sadness over having to leave Earth and return to the moon. During the group's night in Hakone, she goes out into the garden to sings her sorrows ("Moon, Moon"). Big Bird, who secretly follows her outside, feels sorry for her but is unable to figure out why she's sad.
      Big Bird: Please let me help you if I can... I hate to see you so unhappy.
      Kaguya-Hime: (gently) Everything happens tomorrow, dear friend. Tomorrow we reach Kyoto. Tomorrow we must say goodbye.
    • The entire ending scene is very bittersweet. First, he ends up losing Barkley and mopes that he won't be able to leave without him even if he does reunite with the tour group. Thankfully, Kaguya-Hime brings back Barkley, but reveals that she also found the tour group at the airport, so now they all have to say goodbye. What makes it especially sad is that Big Bird voices how sad he feels and how he doesn't want to leave because there's so much he wants to see. It's exactly how Kaguya-Hime also feels, and while she tries to be strong for her new friends, it's very likely that, unlike Big Bird and Barkley who can visit Japan anytime, she'll probably never be able to return to Earth. Big Bird even sings a reprise of "Homesick" as he leaves with Barkley for the airport.
      Big Bird: Are you coming to the airport?
      Kaguya-Hime: No.
      Big Bird: Will you ever come to America?
      Kaguya-Hime: I don't think so.
      Big Bird: Won't we ever see you again?
      Kaguya-Hime: Perhaps.
      Big Bird: I feel terrible... I'm homesick for Japan and I haven't even left yet.
  • The Big Sad Wolf skit. Little Red Riding Hood does the "Granny, what big ears you have" lines to a wolf except she's got the wrong address and has accidentally visited a nice wolf named Lester with a fragile ego. When she calls him granny and says he has big extremities, he bursts into tears because he thinks she's being mean. The misunderstanding gets cleared up, but Lester cries again when Prairie Dawn mistakes him for the real Big Bad Wolf.
  • In episode #3512, Zoe really wanted to slide down the Finders Keepers pole, but Ruthie refuses because it's dangerous for a little monster like her, even after getting monkey lessons from Joey and Davey, Zoe still gets a no and eventually tells the truth about what's she's been doing.
    Zoe: (upset) But Ruthie, I've worked so hard to be a monkey. I tried and tried and finally I got it and-and, the whole reason I wanted to be a monkey was so I could slide down the pole! (cries in guilt into Ruthie's arms) I'm so sad!
    • Similarly, in a later episode, Zoe cried out loud because she forgot her teddy bear and she can't go to sleep without it, that is, until Sloppy saves the day by letting her share her tiny teddy bear.
  • In The Magical Wand Chase, Onyi tells Elmo, Abby, and Rosita that Sesame Street is only a few blocks away and they're able to get home. But Abby's wand is still missing. Abby feels bad, since she thinks that the events of the special were her fault because of her wand.
  • In this video, the Count falls over after getting dizzy watching the spokes on Olivia's bike spin around. He's fine and just needs a bandage from the fall, but then Big Bird accidentally bites his finger. He decides to stand still and not count (because both accidents happened while he was counting) but then a bee lands on him and stings him for no reason. He is then very sad.
    Count: "Oh, dear! I will not count the one exquisitely painful bee sting on my fingertip. But perhaps, before I go home to bed, I will count this one... this one... one excruciating scream of pain! (most pitiful scream that you can imagine) (sighs in relief) Yes, I feel better already."
    • A similar episode has the Count suffer an illness that causes him to faint every time he counts. Dr. Edwin tells him “no counting whatsoever” until he feels better. The others try to prevent him from counting by blindfolding him and covering his ears so he won’t see or hear anything to count. Unfortunately, he imagines himself counting, causing him to faint again. The others sadly cannot do anything about this, since they can’t stop his brain. Everyone is understandably upset.
    • Yet another episode has the Count counting items at a store. Unfortunately, he gets distracted and forgets to count one. When Elmo points out the mistake, the Count feels so ashamed that he never wants to count again. It’s up to Elmo and the others to encourage the Count to keep counting, and that everyone makes mistakes.
  • An episode featuring Rosita has two other muppets laugh at her when her Mexican accent causes her to pronounce “pigeons” as “peejens”. She’s so upset that she refuses to talk, until the muppets reveal that they think her accent is cool.
    • Rosita’s performer, Carmen Osbahr, had another Hispanic character named Kiki Flores on a TV show called The Puzzle Place. Kiki was also insecure about her accent.
  • Karli, a recent Muppet introduced to educate about foster care (it's all but said later on her mother is struggling with addiction), invites Elmo over for pizza, and they make placemats together with her "for-now" parents. When she can't find her placemat (later revealed to be hidden under the pizza box), Karli starts crying, saying she doesn't "have a place". Poor girl...
  • The Licensed Game "Sunny, Cloudy, Stormy Days" which compares Rosita's feelings to the weather. On the "cloudy" and "stormy" levels, which represent the negative emotions, Rosita sits on the floor looking downcast while slow music plays. Even worse is that the stormy level is last, which makes the game end on a low note unless you go back to play the sunny level.
  • Elmo's father explaining to Elmo what protesting and racism is in light of the George Floyd riots. When Elmo expresses shock that people would treat others unfairly based on the color of their skin, his dad replies, "I know, Elmo. But not all streets are like Sesame Street."
  • The fact that Sesame St. got hit by Covid-19, too. On videos on the official website, you see things like:
    • Abby worrying that she'll never get to play with her friends again and imagining she's locked in a castle due to her stir-craziness.
    • Even when Elmo and Abby can go to the park, they have to social distance and wear masks. Also, Rosita can't come since she has to take extra precautions and stay at home due to her parents being essential workers and her dad being a paraplegic.
    • A minor character named Buddy had to deal with being apart from his father, who apparently had Covid-19. Then, on top of that, when the dad gets better and can be with Buddy again, their neighbour Mr. M, who apparently was on good terms with them, dies of (what's heavily implied to be) Covid-19.
    • When Louie returns to work, Elmo has grown used to having him around more and doesn't want him to leave.
    • Regardless of how you feel about Julia, the video where she and her family can't go to the park due to it being too crowded is still sad. Especially since it's established that Julia doesn't like wearing her mask because it "bothers her ears", so she had to put it on for nothing. Then again, they do make ear-free head straps for masks, so why couldn’t she just get one of those?
  • One Season 25 episode deals with the harsh reality of racism without pulling punches, and it's heartbreaking. Gina (who is white) and Savion (who is Black) have some fun together playing on Sesame Street after seeing a movie, and then head into Hooper's Store for a soda. Once they get there, Gina receives an anonymous phone call from a bigot who has some very nasty things to say about people of different races "mixing." Though we don't hear what the person says, Gina and Savion's hurt, furious facial expressions and reactions prove that it's affected them deeply. A confused Telly asks why they're so upset, and they're left to explain that there are "some really stupid people in the world, who can't stand to see it when people of different races are friends." Though Gina and Savion put on a brave face for Telly by showing what they'd do if the racist called again, it's clear that they're still badly shaken by the fact that Sesame Street—a place where differences are celebrated—is affected by bigotry.
    • The end of the episode also drops a necessary anvil which, while a Hard Truth Aesop, is still sad to hear. Gina and Savion prepare to walk home together, and realize that the anonymous caller could still be watching them at that very moment. They defiantly sing a song about being best friends, but also acknowledge that the racist hasn't changed their ways and probably never will. Most episodes of the show end on a positive note, but this one is more bittersweet: while it's good that Gina and Savion refuse to let peer pressure affect their friendship, it's also a stark reminder that racism is a long-lasting problem that can't be solved easily.
  • From "Elmo Visits the Doctor", we have a rendition of "You've Got to Be Patient to Be a Patient" involving a little girl recovering from the flu. Something about the Lyrical Dissonance (the singer sounds cheerful but is singing about waiting around and staying in bed because you're sick), and the girl is seen wanting to go out and play but being continually sent back to bed. At one point, she goes to her window and gloomily looks out at her family playing.
  • Sesame Street in Communities is an outreach created to address issues faced by children and their parents early in child development. Many of these situations discussed can be downright gut-wrenching. Examples include:
    • A video in which a sad and scared Elmo confesses to his dad that during quiet time, his friend Zozo had a meltdown after a book that had fallen off a shelf made a loud noise that scared him. A sympathetic Louie explains to Elmo that when people hurt others on purpose, it's called "violence", that Zozo probably did what he did because he witnessed that, and that Zozo has parents, friends, and neighbors who make sure he's safe.
    • Basically, any video that features a Muppet (usually Elmo or Rosita) disturbed by a tragedy or scary incident. It tells you right there and then that no one, nowhere, not even Sesame Street, is safe from street violence, social disturbance, and discrimination.
    • One video involves a girl named Sophia posing as a tree to cope with "bad things" happening in her neighbourhood. The exact nature of the "bad things" is left unsaid, which makes it all the more ominous.
  • In this video, Ernie is about to eat a cookie, when Cookie Monster appears, crying because he hasn't had a cookie all day. They keep giving it to each other, but that only makes the other sad, and when they try to share it, it falls on the floor, causing both to cry.
  • In a Season 7 episode, Luis accidentally spills grape juice all over his shirt and takes his anger out on Herry Monster, who tries to cheer him up by giving him a slap on the back. Herry is shaken after Luis yells at him, but, thinking that monsters don't cry, tries to hold back his tears when Bob and Maria ask what happened. They assure him that it's OK for anyone to cry, so Herry tells them what happened and lets it all out. David, having witnessed the entire incident, also feels sorry for Herry and gives him an ice cream cone to cheer him up. Even though Luis comes back to apologize, it can be very easy to get upset or driven to tears whenever someone yells at you for no reason.