Good television is good television. The medium is not important. There are moments that choke you up just thinking about them and animation is not an exception to this. As you may come to realize, televised animation may well be the rule. Read and enjoy the top 10 tearjerkers in televised animation. Just have a box of Kleenex handy….
10. The Little Mermaid: Metal Fish
In season two of The Little Mermaid animated series, episode 22 ‘Metal Fish,’ showed everyone how The Little Mermaid story really began. The ‘Metal Fish’ was a primitive submarine that got caught at the bottom of the ocean. Ariel and friends work feverishly to help the human in the submarine get back to the surface. When the submarine spirals towards the surface, Ariel says ‘Goodbye Metal Fish…’ Once on the surface, the human tells his pet cat ‘I guess we’ll live to tell the tale.’ The human is Hans Christian Andersen. The final scene shows Ariel striking the pose of The Little Mermaid statue made by Edvard Eriksen as Andersen writes on the surface. It is one of the most poignant, touching, and surprisingly mature cartoons that the Toon Disney brand has ever put out.
9. Futurama: Luck of the Fryrish
The 36th episode of the original run of Futurama is called “Luck of the Fryrish.” The main character in Futurama Philip J. Fry was in suspended animation from the eve of the year 2000 until the year 3000. This episode flashes back to his youth, as well as Fry’s seven-leaf clover. The lucky clover was a bone of contention between Fry and his brother Yancy. Fry eventually hid the clover in a record soundtrack of The Breakfast Club. In the future, Fry watches a historical video about a Philip J. Fry who was a rock star as well as the first man on Mars. He sees the clover and assumes that Yancy has stolen his identity. Fry then vows to go to the grave of the fake ‘Phillip J. Fry” and take back his seven leaf clover.
At the grave, Fry reads the inscription “Here Lies Philip J. Fry Named For His Uncle To Carry On His Spirit.” A flashback scene then shows Yancy naming his newborn son after his brother. Writer Rob Weiner won an Annie Award for outstanding individual achievement for writing in an animation television production in 2001. It was a very fitting testament.
8. Hey Arnold!: Married
Episode 92 of the Nickelodeon series Hey Arnold! Is called ‘Married.’ One of the main plot lines of the series is the character Helga being unable to confess her crush on the main character Arnold. They have a friend Rhonda who makes an ‘Origami Marriage Predictor.’ The Marriage Predictor pairs Arnold and Helga in matrimonial bliss. That night, both Arnold and Helga dream about what it would be like to be married. The next day Rhonda announces that the Marriage Predictor was flawed and all results are ‘null and void.’ Rhonda asks another friend Phoebe if she can imagine Arnold and Helga married. Phoebe imagines her adult friends standing over a lighthouse looking into a sunset holding hands (21:45 in video).
7. Thundercats: Return to Thundera
The 20th episode of the original run of Thundercats was entitled Return To Thundera. The episode starts with a siege on the Thundercats by a seemingly invincible War-Bot. The Thundercat Leader Lion-O is knocked through space and time back to the day that the Thundercats escaped a dying Thundera. Lion-O encounters his own father, Claudus, and saves him. Lion-O also understands why Claudus made his sacrifice. Claudus has the plans to the War-Bot, which allows Lion-O to defeat the War-Bot in his own time. A touching episode for any one who wishes desperately to see a loved one a last time.
6. Family Guy: Brian Wallows And Peter’s Swallows
The 45th episode of the original run of Family Guy is entitled Brian Wallows And Peter’s Swallows. There are actually two parallel storylines in this episode. In the first storyline, Peter decides to grow a beard after watching an episode of Grizzly Adams and a rare swallow gets in the beard and lays eggs. Peter cares for the young birds, but in the end has to let them go. The second storyline involves Brian’s dissatisfaction with his love life. The women Brian dates are not up to his standards. This depression leads to a drunk driving charge for which Brian must do community service. Brian is sentenced to help an old woman Pearl Burton (whom he initially hates.) After telling Pearl to ‘drop dead,’ Brian discovers that she was once a singer. Arriving back at Pearl’s just before she hangs herself, Brian and Pearl reconcile. They eventually fall in love. Brian convinces Pearl to go outside for the first time in decades. Pearl is immediately hit by oncoming traffic. Before Pearl dies, she tells Brian it was the best day of her life. Using virtual reality, Brian and Pearl share what a life together would have been like.
5. The Simpsons: And Maggie Makes Three
Episode 116 of The Simpsons starts off with the family looking through a picture album. The children notice there are no pictures of Maggie. Homer reminisces about a time when he quite the Nuclear Plant to work at a bowling alley. When Marge gets pregnant, Homer has to beg for his Nuclear Power Plant back to support his growing family. Mr. Burns puts up a sign in front of Homer that says “Don’t Forget, You’re Here Forever.” When asked where the pictures of Maggie are, Homer responds they are where they are needed most. In the end, you see the pictures over the sign that now reads “Do It For Her.”
You can see a small clip here: http://www.imdb.com/video/hulu/vi3452305433/
4. G. I. Joe: There’s No Place Like Springfield Part One and Two
While with Scarlett, Shipwreck helps try to rescue a crazed elderly Professor Mulaney. Mulaney has developed a formula to turn water into lava. Shipwreck is given the formula but can only remember the formula if the code words are said. In the ensuing battle, Shipwreck appears to drown. Waking up years later in the town of Springfield, Shipwreck discovers that he has gotten married and has a child. It all starts to fall apart as Shipwreck realizes that he has not aged. COBRA plotted to make him comfortable to find the code words. Worse, everyone around Shipwreck is a synthoid (a synthetic creature.) Shipwreck defeats COBRA, but has to watch his new family dissolve…. Literally (video at 20:00).
3. Gargoyles: The Mirror
Episode 18 of The Gargoyles cartoon is The Mirror. One of the ongoing stories of Disney’s Gargoyles cartoon was the romantic tension between the Gargoyle Goliath and the human police officer Elisa. In The Mirror, Elisa becomes a gargoyle and Goliath becomes human. Instinctively, Elisa saves a human Goliath while she is flying. After defeating the bad guys and returning back to ‘normal,’ Goliath returns to his stone form trying to profess his love for the human Elisa. Elisa doesn’t let him and says “I know, but that’s the way it has to be.”
2. Speed Racer: The Trick Race
Episode 50 of the original run of Speed Racer featured one of the best moments in television history (not just animation) . After defeating the bad guys, Speed Racer asks Racer X if Racer X is his brother. Racer X is Speed’s long lost brother Rex Racer. Racer X responds by punching Speed in the gut. Speed falls and Racer X throws down his mask. Racer X gives up racing. When Speed comes to, he holds Racer X’s mask and realizes that Racer X was his brother Rex Racer all along.
1. A Charlie Brown Christmas
Linus reciting the Biblical Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke may or may not be the most defining animated moment of all time. There is a certainty that the scene was no slam dunk at the time- it made network executives very nervous. They thought their phones would explode the next day. An Executive Producer said, “You can’t read the bible on television.” Schultz said in the meeting leading up to the event, “If we don’t do it, no one will”. When it first aired in 1965, nearly half of the people watching television were watching and an ad man the next day would say, “all Heaven broke loose.”
Did we miss one that makes you all misty-eyed? Is there an episode of Scooby that makes you sob uncontrollably? Let us know in the comments.
And since so many commenters mentioned it, we included the ending to Jurassic Bark episode from Futurama. Enjoy.