- Zarana in "Computer Complications," who chose Cobra and her screwed-up family over Mainframe, the nice and decent man she fell in love with when she infiltrated GI Joe, because blood is thicker than water. And then ended the episode with Zartan and his pack jeering and laughing at her for ever thinking she could have a normal life with him.
Mainframe: I wanted to make a pass at you. But you're too decent a lady to treat like that.Zarana-as-Carol: Well... That's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me...
- It's even worse once you apply some logic to her brief and tragic love affair. Basically, all Mainframe (a Nice Guy, but hardly any sort of alpha male) did was to act with some basic courtesy and decency toward her, and not try to take advantage of her when she was assigned to his shift—And this was enough to make her fall for him. Do we need to spell out the obvious? This girl has spent her entire childhood and youth with brutal outlaw bikers and militia nuts, and she's been so traumatized by this that she responds desperately to any sort of kindness. Puts quite another spin on what seems like rather flat writing, no?
- The ghosts Cobra Commander summons to haunt GI Joe. While this may sound lame, it's played totally serious in the show: the ghosts are bound by his magic, and must do his bidding, remaining forever in living death doing nothing but killing his enemies. How sad is it? One of them, a "young" American World War I pilot, is so tormented that he has literally gone mad and thinks he is still alive: Cobra Commander is his CO, the GI Joe ground forces he strafes are the Kaiser's men, and the war will be over any day now so he can go home to see his fiancée again... Also possibly qualifies as Nightmare Fuel.
- At least that guy gets a happy ending after the Joes exorcize him, implying that there was an afterlife where she was waiting for him. Still, he has spent a lifetime as an increasingly mad ghost before that, if he died in 1918. And the other ghosts were hundreds, one literally thousands of years older...
- Shipwreck's situation in "There's No Place Like Springfield" is very sad. The Faked Rip Van Winkle Cobra puts him through to make him reveal the secret ingredient for Professor Mulaney's formula shows him married to Mara from "Memories of Mara", who has somehow been cured of her inability to survive out of water, and with a young daughter named Alfia. The heartbreak starts with Shipwreck being told that Lady Jaye is dead (which is obviously false) and continues with his family and his surviving friends turning out to be synthoids and threatening him into revealing the secret ingredient to Mulaney's formula. After the real Joes rescue Shipwreck, he walks away from the burning house where he saw his synthoid wife and daughter melt and insists to his teammates that there was nothing important in there.
- All the more tragic in that COBRA's entire scheme was in vain. Shipwreck doesn't know the information that they need, because Mulaney hypnotized him to be incapable of recalling it without a trigger phrase. They inflicted all that confusion and grief on the poor guy for nothing.
- "I Found You... Evy" is in itself a very tragic episode. We learn in this episode that in his youth, Ambush was close friends with a girl named Evy, who he said was the only one who could find him whenever he went hiding. Ambush is heartbroken to learn that after he left to join the military, Evy took it personally and ended up joining Cobra. Even after they meet again, things between the two remain sour.
- "The Greatest Evil", for all its faults, shows a rather realistic look at the damages that drug addiction can cause. Duke is so ashamed of his half-brother Falcon doing drugs that he all but disowns him, while a member of Cobra seeks vengeance against the Headman because his sister is in a coma from overdosing on his drugs.
- The ending of "Sink the Montana!". Admiral Lattimer has betrayed his oath and turned traitor to save his beloved ship from the scrap heap, only to have the Navy blast her out from under him. He's so distraught he would rather die alongside her than leave. Hawk has to literally drag him off the Montana before she goes down. Later, Shipwreck asks what'll happen to Lattimer. Hawk says he doesn't know but, as a shattered Lattimer watches the Montana slip beneath the waves, says "he's already received the worst punishment imaginable".
Tearjerker / G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero