Comedy shows are generally made for one purpose and one purpose alone: to make us laugh and forget what our normal lives may be. But when these shows mix emotion into the blend, we get some truly powerful stuff.
Today we are looking at the ten most emotionally packed episodes of a comedy TV series. There is one ground rule. Firstly, the episode in questions CANNOT be a Series Finale. That is a list of it’s own so that means at the moment you won’t be seeing One Last Ride (Parks and Recreation) or Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television (Community) on here.
10. “Mother Simpson” – The Simpsons
Kicking off this list is a fantastic episode from later on in the golden years of The Simpsons. Introducing Mona Simpsons (Glenn Close) we finally get to see a part of Homer that was quite absent throughout the show. When his mother returns to Springfield, we get to see both the highs of Homer finally having his mother back plus the lows of having her leave him again. While the later Mona episodes are mostly played for laughs, they do have a few tender moments in them, but I am going for this one purely because of the powerful end scene and that iconic final shot.
9. “Episode Six” – Derek
There is a lot that can be said about Ricky Gervais and the show Derek. A pretty average show, it was a big surprise when this show kicked it up several notches in this emotional season finale. When Derek finally meets his father, this episode really hits its stride, with both fantastic acting on the part of Gervais and the excellent, almost cliched pick of Coldplay’s Fix You playing over it, the final moments will make you well up, no matter your thoughts of the show. Plus the less said about the Second Season, the better.
8. “Escape From L.A.” – BoJack Horseman
BoJack Horseman is a fucking depressing show. With it’s impressive depiction of Depression (especially for a comedy) the show makes the most of its absurd setting to get the most out of the characters. This episode is a crowning example. With BoJack running away from his problems, he goes and sees Charlotte in New Mexico. What happens there is basically yet another reminder that BoJack is swimming upstream and failing hard, and the episode slowly ramps up to an emotional ending that shocked many a viewer. Plus, as an aside, the guest cast for this episode is amazing. Olivia Wilde, Ed Helms and Adam Pally? What a dream.
7. “Geothermal Escapism” – Community
Doing emotional episode only the way Community can do it, this episode says goodbye to fan favorite Troy as he leaves to go sail around the world. Making it a heavy concept episode, Greendale becomes the birthplace of a wide spread Floor is Lava game, and much like all concept episode, hijinks ensue. But what makes this episode stand out is the final ten minutes, where it all comes to a head as Abed cannot let his best friend leave. Its powerful stuff, and probably the most perfect way they could have handled such a thing. Now if only I can find that copy of Come Sail Away…
6. “Jurassic Bark” – Futurama
Now this one will cause some controversy being this low. I love this episode, but I feel it does not have the same emotional punch as some of the show’s other episodes (This is purely subjective, please don’t hate me). This episode is very emotionally charged as Fry attempts to get his dog Seymour back, leaving Bender hung out and alone. But the ending is what makes this episode worth watching. As Fry decides the dog has lived a full life after him, we cut back to see the dog waiting by the Pizzeria for the rest of it’s life, alone and waiting for it’s master. It’s not exactly something everyone wants to see late on Sunday nights after Family Guy.
5. “My Screwup” – Scrubs
There are few moments in TV history that are as brutally emotional as the ending of this episode. With Joshua Radin’s Winter floating into your head during the final moments, where we find out the shock twist is one you will never forget easily. This episode does very well at keeping everyone guessing throughout the episode, as well as fantastic acting from Brendan Fraser and John C.McGinley that carry the emotions in the ending scenes, plus one of the more memorable quotes in the entire series in “Where do you think we are?” One of the standout episodes of Scrubs as a whole, and a painful experience to watch.
4. “Last Words” – How I Met Your Mother
I know it’s cool to hate on HIMYM for it’s shitty ending but I still maintain that the show was very good and very funny throughout it’s nine seasons, and the only real gripe I have with it was its fucking dreadful ending, which sullied the entire show. But episodes like Last Words make it all worth it. Picking up from the previous episode where we find out that Marshall’s father dies, this episode is based around the funeral in Minnesota. What this episode evolves into is a look into what our last words are to the people we care about, which takes on so much more of a punch when Marshall breaks down after finding his father’s last voicemail. This is the show at it’s best and a great reminder of why this show is fantastic.
3. “Goodbye Michael” – The Office
Saying goodbye to favorite characters is always rough. Saying goodbye to the star of the show who has produced arguably the best and most quotable lines is a whole other thing. When Steve Carell left The Office towards the end of Season 7, we got this reminder of what The Office was all about, with both heavy laughs and emotions abound. Michael is leaving to Colorado, and with the show wrapping up all the loose ends with Mr. Scott, we get a fantastic episode and probably the best episode of the show until the end of Season 9.
2. “Luck Of The Fryish” – Futurama
The original emotional episode of Futurama, this one melds laughs with Pop Culture references and emotions as Fry goes about the recovery of his lucky 8 leaf clover. Cutting back and forth between the future and the late 20th century, we get to see Fry and his relationship with his brother Yancy as they get older. Culminating with a final scene set to the tune of Don’t You (Forget About Me) this episode is one that just messes with you out of nowhere, and an episode that sticks with you each time you watch it.
1. “My Lunch” – Scrubs
If there’s one thing I noticed writing this article in a rush, it is how often music plays a key part in making shows emotional. This episode is no different, with the cliche emotional song of How To Save A Life kicking the episode into overdrive towards the end, as Dr. Cox attempts to show why he deserved an Emmy. When Rabies gets into Sacred Heart, three patients become affected by it and the staff try to save them. What makes this episode a kick in the emotional balls is John C. McGinley, who brings his A-Grade acting to the table in the final five minutes, really making this episode a standout and once again proving that Scrubs can make you laugh and then make you emotionally unstable in the space of twenty seconds.
What did I miss? Any episodes that made you cry? Sound off in the comments!