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Tearjerker / Only Fools and Horses

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Despite being a sitcom, the series did have its fair share of sad moments:

  • Grandad's bitter and angry "War Is Hell" speech in "The Russians Are Coming" about the war, after he gets fed up of how much Del Boy glorifies it and doesn't take it seriously whilst they're inside the fallout shelter they've just built — which is conducted entirely with no cut-aways, the camera slowly panning towards his face. It's made even more effective by it all really being the general "Over by Christmas" attitude to war at the time. Can be seen here.
    Grandad: I remember when I was a little nipper, and I saw all the soldiers marching off to battle. (bitterly) Ohh, yes! It was a glorious sight, alright.
    Del Boy: Yeah, I bet all them spears and chariots must've stirred the blood, mustn't they?
    Rodney: Just hear him out, will ya?
    Del Boy: Alright, alright!
    Grandad: My brother George was at Passchendaele. Half a million allied troops died there, all for five miles of mud! I was at Kings Cross Station when his regiment come home after the Armistice. Most of them was carried off the train. I saw men with limbs missing, blind men, men who couldn't breathe properly because their lungs had been shot to bits by mustard gas. While the nation celebrated, they was hidden away in big, grey buildings — far from the public gaze! (chokes back tears) I mean, courage like that could put you right off your victory tea, couldn't it? (silence) They promised us homes fit for heroes. They give us heroes fit for homes.
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  • In "The Long Legs of the Law"; after a vicious argument about Rodney's decision to date a police officer, Del Boy angrily snaps that he and Rodney are no longer brothers and he no longer cares what happens to him. Seconds after, as Rodney is slinking miserably to the door, Del Boy gruffly takes his words back in telling Rodney that "It's been raining. Those roads will be treacherous. Drive carefully."
  • Rodney describing his feeling "cheated" every time he and Del remember their mother in "The Yellow Peril".
  • "Diamonds Are For Heather", the first depiction of Del's pining for a family. After taking to a young mother (whose husband had abandoned her) and growing attached to her son, he proposes to her, only to be turned down, her husband having returned asking for a second chance. It would be a long while before Del finally got to be a family man.
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  • "May the Force Be with You" is an extremely vulnerable time for the Trotters. Del, Rodney and Grandad have been arrested by DI Roy Slater, Del's school enemy, on possession of a stolen microwave. Slater threatens Del with the prospect of going to prison as well as Rodney. Slater also implies that with Grandad being left alone on the estate, he may arrange for Grandad to be assaulted/killed. In order to protect his family, Del agrees to become a police informant which goes against his principles. Slater gloats about Del’s predicament, and further threatens Del with the repercussions of violence should Del’s status be revealed to the criminal underworld. It goes to show how much Del is willing to sacrifice his reputation and safety in order to protect his own family. Luckily, Del has the last laugh as he confesses to stealing the microwave, but has immunity from prosecution, so Slater cannot charge him.
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  • The funeral for Grandad in "Strained Relations", and the part afterwards where Del puts his hand on Grandad's chair, now empty. The sadness is diffused somewhat when Del and Rodney toss what they think is their grandfather's hat into the grave, but it ends up being the vicar's, and Del Boy jollying it up afterwards, but Rodney's anger at Del's seemingly not mourning Grandad's death and Del's explanation soon fixes that.
    Del: That's me, that's Del Boy innit? Nothing ever upsets Del Boy. I've always played the tough guy! I didn't want to, but I had to and I've played it for so long now, I don't know how to be anything else! I don't even know how to... Oh it don't matter! Bloody family! I've finished with them! What do they do to you, eh? They hold you back, drag you down... and then they break your bloody heart! (slouches and clutches Grandad's chair sadly)
    Rodney: (very quietly) ...I'm sorry.
  • In "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire", Del gets offered a very lucrative opportunity to move to Australia for a new business life, but decides to stay because Rodney is unable to go, and Albert does not wish to move. Rodney earlier accuses Del of being more interested in making money than he is in his roots, before Del launching into a passionate tirade about all the previous opportunities he's missed out on because he was busy raising his younger brother. Rodney thanks him, and Del telephones his partner-to-be to say the deal's off. It was the first episode to not end with a closing gag.
  • In "A Royal Flush", after Del has acted like a huge Jerkass and severely embarrassed Rodney at the dinner, Rodney and Lady Victoria regretfully agree that they should no longer see each other. It's clear on the looks on both Rodney and Victoria's faces that they are trying hard not to cry. The viewers could not be blamed for hating Del in this episode. The scene back at the flat where Rodney is angrily berating Del for his asshole behaviour and that the relationship between the two brothers looks like it can never be resurrected. No wonder John Sullivan and the cast hate this episode so much.
  • There is a bit in "The Frog's Legacy", where Del meets up with Trigger's Aunt Reeny Turpin. Although Reeny is a somewhat comical character, she tells Del that the reason she moved from Peckham was when Del's mother Joan died. Reeny comments that she lost the best friend she had.
  • A small moment in "Sickness and Wealth": after spending most of the episode in the hospital, Del finds out he only has Irritable Bowel Syndrome. He initially puts on a macho posture, claiming that he knew he was really alright, but after his GP leaves, Del breaks down in relief.
  • The episode "Dates" where Del misses seeing off Raquel (and proving that he still had feelings for her) after he is arrested. This is softened in later seasons when Del and Raquel get together again, starting with "The Jolly Boys' Outing".
  • "Little Problems" where Rodney gets married to Cassandra. First Del takes a solid beating from gangsters the Driscoll Brothers instead of paying out the money they want so that he can still give the money to Rodney, left nursing his wounds in the bathroom. Then in the second-last scene, the party after the wedding with "Holding Back the Years" by Simply Red playing in the background, Del thinking about the fact Rodney has grown up. He takes the groom figurine off the remains of the wedding cake before the camera pans up, showing him all alone in the room.
  • Cassandra having a miscarriage in "Modern Man". Del and Rodney arrive at the hospital to comfort her. The tear-stained look on Cassandra's face says it all plus Del also breaking down crying.
  • The scene in "Time On Our Hands", the original finale (until the three other Christmas specials made five years later) where Del confronts Rodney in a broken down lift about talking about his feelings following Cassandra's miscarriage, prompting Rodney to break down and admit that he'd been spending too much time feeling sorry for himself without taking the time to see the effect it was having on everyone else, and Del points out that it's just a dropped stitch in life's tapestry. Things turn out right in the end where the Trotters eventually realise their dreams of becoming millionaires, but there is further tear jerking when all three of the main cast return to the flat and reminisce.
  • "Sleepless in Peckham". Cassandra finally gives birth to hers and Rodney's child, and Rodney takes his newborn daughter to his mother's grave. Rodney looks up into the sky and talks to his mum, telling her to say thanks to Albert. Del then comes along and askes him what he decided to call his baby, and he points at the grave stone and says he named her Joan, after their mum. Then Rodney asks if he was anything like his dad Freddie the Frog, where Del then rounds off everything Freddie was and why Rodney is better than him—
    Del Boy: Freddie the Frog was a professional burglar. He was disloyal to his friends. He was a womaniser, a homebreaker, a conman, a thief, a liar and a cheat. So no, Rodney. You are nothing like him.
    • Then the last you see of them is them driving back home in the three-wheeled van. A truly touching and tear jerker moment (and it also doubles as a Heartwarming Moment) to finish a classic comedy series.

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