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Tear Jerker / Young Sheldon

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Season 1

    Episode 1: Pilot 
  • Mary cries as she is dropping her son off at his homeroom.
  • Mary and George are fighting over money again. When Sheldon asks his mother if they have financial problems. Mary gives one of those answers that assures kids the money is fine, but adults know otherwise.
  • A football player called Georgie the "dumb brother", pressing his Berserk Button. This moment prompts Georgie, who is very close to tears, into wanting to quit, and it is strongly implied that he is very insecure about his intelligence, especially since his nine-year-old brother is attending high school with him. George Sr. does nothing to assuage his son's insecurities and essentially tells him to deal with it and get back on the field.
  • George Sr.'s backstory. He reported some coaches (may or may not be his coworkers), recruiting kids from other high schools which is against football rules. In return, he was fired, and his reputation was ruined. It was so bad that the entire family had to move to a new town. It's implied that this event drove George to excessive drinking, and he confesses to Sheldon that he feels mostly angry about it but also a little sad.
    • A meta example, along with a little Fridge Horror: George will be dead in five years.
  • The sensory overload that Sheldon gets when he goes outside is heartrending to people who have that experience.
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    Episode 2: Rockets, Communists, and the Dewey Decimal System 
  • Mary is deeply saddened at seeing Sheldon sit alone at lunch to the point of crying. Fortunately, Sheldon likes sitting alone.
  • sniff The poor squirrel family that was burnt to death by Sheldon's rocket. May their souls rest in peace.
  • Tam's Dark and Troubled Past: After the Vietnam War (or what he calls it, the American War), his father was sent to a reeducation camp because he fought with the Americans. Meanwhile, his mother, his sister, and he lived in poverty and sometimes starved. After his father was released, they reunited and fled to Thailand (dodging Cambodian pirates along the way) and were forced to live in a refugee camp. Eventually, they left for the United States and settled in Galvestone. His father bought a shrimp boat and started a business until the KKK burnt his boat and chased away his family. They moved to Medford in which his parents opened up a convenience store where they work 16 hours a day for seven days a week for very little money.
    • While funny, the insensitive but innocent comments made by the Cooper family in response to Tam's story do hurt him.

    Episode 3: Poker, Faith, and Eggs 
  • The family's reaction to George Sr.'s heart attack
    • Mary is trying to hold herself together for George, but she is crying and borderline close to full out sobbing.
    • Missy can't sleep and is scared whenever she hears the phone ring (Mary has been calling Constance, who is babysitting, and updating her on George).
    • Sheldon can't sleep either and is scared whenever the phone rings. When he sees his father in the hospital, he becomes terrified. He becomes so scared that he actually tries to pray (albeit to Blaise Pascal) and couldn't believe that Pascal may be wrong about God existing for the sake of his sanity.
    • Georgie is fraught with worry even going so far to steal Constance's car and drive to the hospital despite not yet taking driver's ed.
  • When Constance assures the kids that their dad will be fine, Sheldon looks at her doubtfully and calmly says, "I hope you're not bluffing."
  • The next time this happens, George Sr. won't be so lucky.

    Episode 4: A Therapist, a Comic Book, and a Breakfast Sausage 
  • Mary is panicking when she sees Sheldon nearly choke to death and is guilt ridden for weeks. Then Sheldon goes missing and she is panicking and even more guilt ridden.
  • The way Sheldon identifies with the X-Men is heartbreaking.
    Adult!Sheldon: As fate would have it, the comic I picked up was called X-Men, young mutants with incredible powers who were feared and misunderstood by the entire world.
    Young!Sheldon: Hey it's about me.
  • Georgie and Missy feel like they are The Unfavorites because Sheldon gets all the attention, and they don't.

    Episode 8: Cape Canaveral, Schrodinger's Cat, and Cyndi Lauper Hair 
  • Despite never getting to see a space shuttle launch, Adult Sheldon recalls that trip to Florida as the best he ever took... and wishes he'd told George that when he was alive.

    Episode 15: Dolomite, Apple Slices, and a Mystery Woman 
  • Sheldon retreating to his room to cry when he learns his new friend Libby thinks of him as just a little kid instead of a peer. It's this moment of heartbreak that convinces Sheldon to give up on having friends for years to come. It's also what gave him his irrational hatred of geology.
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    Episode 19: Gluons, Guacamole, And The Color Purple 
  • Missy reveals she worries that she's stupid, and not that she just seems that way compared to Sheldon.

    Episode 20: A Dog, a Squirrel, and a Fish Named Fish 
  • Sheldon spends the whole episode deathly afraid of the Sparks' dog, then finally overcomes his fear of animals enough to grow fond of a pet fish. And then? George accidentally kills the fish.
  • The aforementioned dog misses his owner so much that he's drawn to Sheldon because they use the same hair product.

     Episode 22: Vanilla Ice Cream, Gentleman Callers, and a Dinette Set 
  • Meemaw talking about how hurt she was (and still is) at her husband's unexpected death is bad enough, but the same thing is destined to happen to her daughter less than five years later.
    Meemaw: Imagine you're getting on in years, you and your husband about to retire, get a little timeshare in Sarasota, and... suddenly... he's gone, and you're all alone. You mourn, you cry, but eventually you move on. You start dating a little, and it's all good fun. But always in the back of your mind, there's that question... "Will I be alone in the end?"

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Season 2

    Episode 1: A High-Pitched Buzz and Training Wheels 
  • Sheldon takes apart the refrigerator to find out what is making a sound that only he can hear and breaks it. His father is furious when it costs him $200 to fix it and says Sheldon will pay him back every cent, no matter how long it takes. Before he leaves the room he says he is very disappointed in Sheldon. Sheldon soon begins crying, and Missy, who can't take pleasure in Sheldon's suffering while he is crying hugs him.
  • Sheldon takes a paperboy job to pay back his father but isn't very good at it. He gets up early, wastes time trying to fold the papers perfectly, sometimes needs to brave the elements while delivering, and is always late. By the end of the week he finally gets paid, but it is only a small amount and he needs to keep working for 6 months. He quickly becomes angry and takes it out on his family when he is annoyed by their conversation over dinner after a long day.
  • After Sheldon takes his frustration out on the others, George has a talk with him, explaining how difficult his own job is and how he restrains himself from lashing out at the others because of it.

    Episode 3 A Crisis of Faith and Octopus Aliens 
  • Mary's reaction to a neighbor girl's death is nothing short of heartbreaking. She first copes with it by diving deeper into her faith, and when that doesn't work, she goes out drinking with Connie and reveals that she's having doubts about her faith as she cannot see why a loving God would end a life so tragically and prematurely. She comes home drunk, skips church services and doesn't say grace before dinner. Sheldon of all people is the one who restores her faith by telling her that while he doesn't believe in the Bible's interpretation of God, he does believe that the Universe has a creator, how else would Mary be the perfect mom for Sheldon?
    Episode 9 Family Dynamics and a Red Fiero 
  • Sheldon being very affected by his parents' fight is bad enough, but to anyone who knows of the older Sheldon's stories in The Big Bang Theory it looks like this was the turning point where the cracks began to show in their marriage. And we know how that ultimately ends.
  • At the end, George turns down the job opportunity because he knows it would make the family unhappy. He tries to pretend he didn't want to move to Oklahoma anyway, but it's clear he feels crushed about losing the opportunity for a higher-paying, more prestigious position and frustrated because no one seems to care about the situation from his perspective. Adult Sheldon's monologue caps it off, saying that he didn't treat George with the appropriate respect as a child because he was unaware how much he sacrificed for the family.
     Episode 12 A Tummy Ache and a Whale of a Metaphor 
  • George brushes off Sheldon's first complaints about his stomach pains as just regular paranoia, only for Sheldon to be seriously ill. George feels horribly guilty that he didn't listen and allowed his son to get worse to the point he could have died if Missy hadn't told her parents something was wrong.
    Episode 20 A Proposal and a Popsicle Stick Cross 
  • Dr. Sturgis proposes to Connie during their one year anniversary dinner and Connie turns him down, implying that she doesn't want to deal with another husband dying. John is so crushed that he not only cries afterward, but leaves after she brings him back to her place for tea, and doesn't return her calls. They eventually make up when Connie takes out in the paper announcing that they're an Official Couple, but it's very heartbreaking to see John this sad.
  • Veronica's home-life is not pleasant. Her father abandoned her when she was a child and her mother's current boyfriend is an abusive drunk who's behavior is so bad that Mary invited her to stay at the Cooper house for a few days. At least we know from Sheldon's previous narrations that she eventually escapes all that and goes on to live a fulfilling life.
    Episode 22 A Swedish Science Thing and the Equation for Toast 
  • Dr. Sturgis's breakdown, which is heavily implied to be caused by progressing senility. And it's not the first time it's happened.
  • No one coming to Sheldon's Nobel party, despite having set up for it and everything, and then his mother sadly telling him that not even Dr. Sturgis is coming. When he learns that the work on neutrinos, which he was rooting for, lost his face crumples and he desperately fights not to cry.
  • Sheldon narrating that he always thought he'd be alone, but that he was glad he was wrong. (Accompanied by shots of his future friends from The Big Bang Theory and a cameo of Debbie Wolowitz's voice courtesy of archive audio of the late Carol Ann Susi combined with new lines by Pamela Adlon).

Season 3

    Episode 4 - Hobbitses, Physicses and a Ball with Zip 
  • George finds Missy in tears after the boy she liked wasn't interested in her, unable to really do anything to cheer her up. Missy's actress is one hell of a convincing crier.

    Episode 5 - "A Pineapple and the Bosom of Male Companionship" 
  • Dr. Sturgis returns from the mental institution and breaks up with Connie. Connie is absolutely devastated and it clearly wasn't easy on John either, as he obviously still has feelings for Connie, but doesn't want her to suffer if/when he has another episode. And since elderly people with dementia can become violent, he has a good reason to be worried.

    Episode 12 - "Body Glitter and a Mall Safety Kit" 
  • Paige has returned, but has drastically changed her look and has become a bad girl, culminating with her stealing the titular body glitter from Hot Topic and placing it in Sheldon's backpack. Sheldon confronts Paige upon finding out, telling her she's too smart to be acting like this. Paige replies that she doesn't want to be smart anymore. Taking the advice of Dr. Sturgis, Sheldon willingly listens to Paige's problems and Paige confirms what's blatantly obvious to the audience: she's acting out because she can't handle her parents' divorcing and she blames herself for it. Her mother is dating someone new, her father is acting like a manchild, her sister cries a lot, she has to go to two different homes to see them both and her mother and grandmother say horrible things about her father. And she knows that her grades in school are slipping, but she's too sad to care. This is one of the few times Sheldon shows genuine compassion for anyone, and he doesn't even like Paige. He seals the deal by making her a hot beverage, something that Sheldon always does in The Big Bang Theory when someone is distressed.

    Episode 13 - "Contracts, Rules and a Little Bit of Pig Brains" 
  • Missy crying during the baseball game, worried that she's going to cost her team the game if the opposing batter hits the ball. With a Motivational Lie from Coach Ballard, she pitches and the boy strikes out, ensuring a victory.
  • Connie visits the grave of her ex-husband Charlie (Sheldon's Pop-Pop) and engages in Talking to the Dead. It's clear that she deeply misses Charlie, but she knows that he would want her to move on, she's just torn between Coach Ballard and Dr. Sturgis.
  • The main plot of the episode revolves around the two Georges going fishing with Coach Ballard. Conflict arises when Dr. Sturgis calls George Sr. reminding him that they'd previously made plans to hang out the same weekend he was to go fishing. George feels so guilty that he wants to bring John along. Dale agrees, but it's clear that Dale just wants John there to make fun of him, which he does. Half of Dale's insults fly over Jonn's head until George points them out, and the few that do land, John can only deliver a Lame Comeback. He eventually gets so fed up that he leaves.

    Episode 16 - "Pasadena" 
  • When Sheldon is upset about not getting to go see Profesor Hawking's lecture, Missy tells him that this is perhaps the one time that he doesn't get his own way. She then angrily explains that she wasn't allowed to buy a book from the book fair at school, while Sheldon gets an incredibly expensive computer. Sheldon is so perplexed at the notion of not getting his own way that Missy has to explain what she does in the situation; accept it and move on.
    • Missy feeling neglected never really gets resolved either; Sheldon does indeed, once again, get his own way and no-one seems to understand how awful she's feeling about it. Connie tries but ultimately can only try and downplay the experience Sheldon is having without much success.

    Episode 20 - "A Baby Tooth and The Egyptian God of Knowledge" 
  • Georgie is charged with looking after Coach Ballard's store while he and Meemaw go out of town. Georgie is doing a fine job on his own, until he forgets to lock the cash register, resulting in the register being emptied. Georgie tries reporting the robbery to the police, but hangs up because he doesn't want Dale to find out. He instead decides to just use his own personal savings to cover the stolen money so Dale won't find out. Unfortunately, Dale makes it to the store the next morning before Georgie and Georgie confesses what happened. Dale accepts the money, so all is good right? Wrong. Dale fires Georgie and orders him out of the store. Georgie is clearly crushed because he really liked that job and went to great lengths to make it right. What makes it worse is that it's clear that Dale fired Georgie because he was mad at Connie for turning down his proposal the previous night, not because of the robbery.

    Episode 21 - "A Secret Letter and a Lowly Disc of Processed Meat" 
  • Sheldon is upset that Mary hid the letter from Caltech and didn't tell him about it. Worse yet, the reveal begins a fight between her and George for not letting him know either.
  • Sheldon gets up in the middle of the night and goes to his parent's bedroom in tears. You can just about hear Mary's heart breaking when he asks for George instead of her.
  • Missy telling Sheldon that it's his fault that Mary and George are fighting "because [he's] a freak" which is what causes Sheldon to start crying in the first place. This is easily the cruelest thing Missy has done to Sheldon so far and she never apologizes for it.
  • Mary is out in the backyard sulking because of the fight and Brenda peeks over the fence and starts teasing her. When she makes a joke about there not being enough room on the fridge for Sheldon's tests, Mary breaks down and cries. Brenda immediately apologizes and invites her inside her home to cheer her up.

Season 4

     Episode 1: Graduation 
  • In the middle of being interviewed for being the valedictorian, Sheldon suddenly starts crying as it finally dawns on him that he's not ready to go to college because, despite his genius intellect, emotionally he's still just a little kid.
    • Earlier, Sheldon panicked when he couldn't find his personal safety goggles before science class, and was worried that his classes meant he couldn't watch Professor Proton. Both were Played for Laughs, but in the midst of the interview, they suddenly become serious issues for Sheldon as proof he can't make it on his own at college.
(Recap)

     Episode 15: A Virus, Heartbreak and A World of Possibilities 
  • Heartbreak is a recurring theme across the episode, as adult Sheldon explains in his final voice-over. Brenda is being comforted by Mary and Constance after her divorce from Herschel, Georgie and Jana fight over his failing to say "I love you" back, and Sheldon loses all the files on his computer (including his parent's tax records) due to a virus he got from a bootleg game.
  • Billy Sparks, who has been cheerfully oblivious up to this point, finally registers that his parents are getting divorced, prompted by Sheldon announcing that he lost all his computer files and can't get them back. Adult Sheldon expresses regret that he never apologized to Billy.
(Recap)

     Episode 17: A Black Hole 
  • George imagines what would happen if a black hole did form at the Waxahachie Super Collider. As the outside world is engulfed by the black hole, the Coopers huddle together and await the inevitable, with Missy and Sheldon on the verge of tears.
  • Dr. Sturgis tells Connie that he wishes he was in an alternate universe where he hadn't broken up with her, and she feels the same... unfortunately, like much of the episode this is also an Imagine Spot.
  • Again, Adult Sheldon expresses regret that he rarely got a chance to tell George how he felt when he was still alive, but looks back fondly on the times that he did, including that night. This also further enforces the sad fact that George Sr.'s time in-series is gradually running out.
    Sheldon: We often regret the things we don’t say. There’s a lot of things I wish I had said to my dad while he was around... that I appreciated him, that I loved him... which is why I am grateful for the times I did tell him how I felt, and this was one of those times.
(Recap)

    Episode 18: The Wild and Woolly World of Nonlinear Dynamics 
This is without a doubt the saddest episode so far, as it's clear that George and Mary's marriage—and quite possibly the series as a whole—is starting to take a turn for the worst, leading to George's infidelity and impending death.
  • Missy's heartbreak over her break up with Marcus is what kicks everything off. The poor girl just wants to be left alone to grieve, but people keep bothering her. Connie respects her wishes and warns George to leave her be, but George tries to comfort her, only making things worse.
    George: If this is about a boy, I know it feels like the end of the world, but I promise you're gonna have other boyfriends.
    Missy: I don't want other boyfriends. I want Marcus.
    George: Well, you feel that way now, but you're only 11.
    Missy: So my feelings don't matter?
    George: Uh...
  • When Sheldon sees a "Do Not Enter" sign on his bedroom, he asks George what happened and George fills him in. Sheldon, of course, doesn't give a damn about Missy's trouble and just wants access to his room. As expected, Sheldon only angers Missy further, to the point where she rips up Sheldon's autographed photo of Professor Proton. Even though he had it coming, it's tough not to feel bad for Sheldon and he outright says he hates Missy for doing so.
  • When Mary returns from work, she takes Sheldon's side and grounds Missy without offering any sympathy to her plight. Then she and George get into a fight as George feels Mary always steps over him.
  • Missy overhears the fight and runs away to a shack in the woods (with a reluctant Sheldon accompanying her). The worst part is that Missy impliez that her running away is a regular occurrence.
  • George's argument with Mary resumes when Georgie comes home. This bit sticks out the most:
    Mary: You really want to start this up again?
    George: Wait, are you asking me what I want? Well, that's a first.
    Mary: Oh, please, your whole life is doing whatever you want.
    George: Oh, really? Did I want to get stuck coaching high school football? Did I want to live across the street from your mother? Did I want to spend my evening getting yelled at by my daughter and my son and my wife?
    Mary: I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were so unhappy.
    George: Because you never bother to ask.
  • The ending. George is in a bar playing pool and is approached by the recently divorced Brenda Sparks, who's looking for company, strongly implying that Brenda is the "other woman" that George end up sleeping with.
(Recap)
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