Animation and TV tend to bend the extensions of reality for our amusement. However, they also manage to resonate with us by providing emotionally profound and captivating scenes that tug at our heart strings. Watching them in particular when it's an intimate and personal moment we've experienced gives us a sort of catharsis that's breathtaking and invigorating to witness. Below are just eight of these amazing sequences.
8. Jeff Attests His Love for Haley from American Dad
Jeff's a wussy stoner whose idiotic antics and phrases garnered him laughs on the show. Yet, when he's abducted by aliens and imprisoned at one of their space stations he's given a chance to win his freedom by proving that his love for Haley is genuine. In a ceremony that's spectated by thousands, the summoner brings forth the "majestic" whilst belting out a cynical romance melody. The creature plugs some of its tentacles into Jeff's ears and others into a huge TV screen where seemingly every moment Jeff and Haley shared is shadowed by his indifference and selfishness. Realizing this, he falls to his knees and weeps. The song that plays during this sequence is fittingly titled "Majestic" by Wax Thang and it sets the tone perfectly.
7. Soos Moves on from Gravity Falls
On Gravity Falls, Soos is a twenty-something handyman who's generally upbeat and on the dim side of the intellect spectrum. However, when his birthday rolls around he's in no mood to celebrate and nobody knows why. While playing laser tag, Dipper and Mabel enter a time portal that takes them to the future. They're proposed a fight in which the reward is a time wish. They're sent back ten years before the present, and after finding a younger Soos they decide to check out his birthday party.
At the shindig, Soos is anticipating the arrival of the guest of honor - his Dad. For years he's promised to visit Soos on his birthday, but at the last second he backs out and sends a postcard, again promising to be there next year. To his disappointment this scenario recurs again and Soos reluctantly accepts his father won't ever come back. Later on, the twins win and they offer Soos the wish, so he can see his father again. Yet, Soos instead wishes for them to be cleaned up, and for an eternal slice of pizza. He remarks that his dad was never there for him unlike Dipper and Mabel, and because of that they're his family.
6. Santa's Letter from Pinky and the Brain
In 'A Pinky and the Brain Christmas Special,' Brain's plan for world domination finally seems to be coming into fruition. All goes well until Pinky discovers that Brain didn't send in his letter to Santa. Devastated, Pinky uncontrollably sobs, but Brain is too preoccupied with fixing his transmitter to console him. Before switching the device on, Brain decides to see what the fuss was about Pinky's letter, and reads it. Suddenly, he himself is choked up with emotion when he learns that all Pinky wanted from Santa was for his pal to be happy.
When his hypnotic device is up and running, Brain tells everyone to have a Merry Christmas and temporarily forgoes his plans. Afterwards, the two mice happily indulge in holiday festivities. The episode was quite an emotional roller coaster as even the Pinky (Rob Paulsen) and the Brain (Maurice LaMarche) actors got teary eyed during the recording of this scene. Almost a year after its broadcast it won the Primetime Emmy Award for "Outstanding Animated Program" (for a program less than one hour.)
5. Pearl Misses Rose from Steven Universe
If you've seen Steven Universe you know the show has a mirage of sentimental moments. However, for me, this one takes the cake. In 'Rose's Scabbard' Pearl recovers Rose's scabbard and takes Steven to a place (to recover the sword) where only she and Rose know, but he says that Lion already took him and Connie there before. Pearl refuses to believe this until he operates the location's console. Earlier in the episode, Pearl reminisces about being Rose Quartz's second in command and knowing all of her secrets. However, as it becomes apparent that Rose hid things from her, she becomes emotionally disheveled and runs away.
Steven follows her to the Strawberry battlefield where the gems were fought over thousands of years ago. She asks if he remembers being Rose Quartz, particularly being in that spot ions ago. Suddenly, her gem projects a hologram of Rose and fills in her speech as the hologram mouths and gestures a conversation they had before the battle. She tells Pearl that if they lose, they die, and if they win they can never go back, and Pearl asks why would she be there when Rose is on Earth? Rose smirks and they intimately lace each other's hands. Pearl suddenly becomes sullen and wonders what she'd think of her now. Steven hesitates before embracing her and saying, "well, I think you're pretty great."
4. Do it for Her from The Simpsons
In 'Maggie Makes Three' the Simpsons are passing time by looking through photo albums. They gush over the children's baby pictures, but surprisingly there's none of Maggie. Homer retells the origin of Maggie's conception (graphically, I might add) and the events leading up to her birth. Before Marge got pregnant Homer quit his job so he could work at a bowling alley (his dream), and after finding out Marge was expecting he was forced to quit and return to the nuclear power plant to support the newest addition. Mr. Burns agrees to rehire him under the condition that he works there forever and he's given a visual friendly reminder of that promise.
Up until her birth, Homer's unenthusiastic about the idea of another child until Maggie caresses his thumb for the first time, and she suddenly became his entire world (with the exception of Duff beer and donuts, ;)) He then explains where her photos went and, as you can see above, he formed a picture collage to change "Don't Forget. You're Here Forever" to "Do It For Her."
3. Mrs. Finster's Final Message from Rugrats
On the Rugrats' Mother's Day special, the babies retell their most memorable moments with their mothers. However, Chucky has little to no memories of his mother, but he occasionally has dreams of a mysterious woman who cradles his younger self. When he and the babies rummage inside a closet he finds pictures of her (Melinda) and a book filled with pressed flowers. Chas discovers this and tries to remove Melinda's belongings until Didi convinces him to share them with Chucky. He worries that he will miss her, but Didi remarks, "then you can miss her together."
Chas takes Chucky aside and shows him Melinda's possessions and the journal he found that she kept while in the hospital. The last passage is a poem for Chucky which says,
"My sweet, little Chuckie, though I must leave you behind me
This poem will tell you where you always can find me.
When a gentle wind blows, that's my hand on your face.
And when the tree gives you shade, that's my sheltering embrace.
When the sun gives you freckles, that's me tickling my boy.
When the rain wets your hair, those are my tears of joy.
When the long grass enfolds you, that's me holding you tight.
When the Whippoorwill sings, that's me whispering, "Night, night."
2. Soldier Boy Tribute from Avatar: the Last Airbender
On Avatar: The Last Airbender, Iroh is Prince Zuko's mentor and an accomplished firebender and former Fire Nation general in his own right. In 'The Tale of Iroh', while on his way to celebrate a "special occasion" he comes across a few helpless pedestrians. He happily resolves their problems with a song, sage advice and or a cup of tea. Towards sunset he climbs up a hill where a giant tree stands and assembles a mini memorial site in honor of his deceased son's birthday.
Overcome with emotion Iroh reflects, "Happy birthday, my son. If only I could have helped you." He proceeds to tearfully sing a melody. The short pays tribute to Iroh's voice actor Mako who died two months before the episode aired.
1. Philip J. Fry Jr. and Seymour from Futurama
During the climax of 'Luck of the Fryish' Fry, Leela and Bender unearth his older brother Clancy's grave to retrieve his lucky six leaf clover. Fry is under the impression that he stole it and manipulated the clover's fortune to achieve his younger brother's goals. That is until he notices the grave marker, and we're suddenly transported 1,000 years into the past. Clancy is coddling his new born son and he presents the clover to him while reminiscing about Fry. His wife then gives him the okay and Clancy decides to name his son Phillip J. Fry in honor of his brother, "who I miss everyday."
In 'Jurassic Bark' Fry finds his pet dog Seymour fossilized in a museum. He enlists the professor's help to clone him until he finds out Seymour died at the age of 15. Fry summarizes that he lived a full life and most likely forgot about him. Well, flash back centuries ago and we see Seymour waiting outside of Panucci's Pizza for Fry to return for years before dying. Connie Francis' 'I Will Wait For You' plays in the background and it's hard to sit through without sobbing like a baby (at least for me it is).
Why are scenes like these particularly important, and satisfying to watch? Well, seeing these characters go through these troubling situations humanizes and makes them appealing to us. Especially to those who've experienced these situations, it can provide some sort of comfort knowing how these individuals coped and suffered. It might even inspire them to push on, and keep going.