BoJack Horseman is the most depressing show on television. Surprising statement given that we're talking about an animated sitcom following a washed–up actor in a world where humans and anthropomorphic animals live side by side. At first, this underrated Netflix original looks like a silly, absurd comedy. Animal puns are the norm, the Hollywood satire is sharp, and celebrities play ridiculous versions of themselves. But if you pay close attention, it becomes obvious that the series is much deeper than that. At its core, it’s about a depressed man’s search for meaning. It explores BoJack’s fragile psyche, his attempts to make sense of his life, and his repeated failures to act like a “normal” and productive member of society.
Ever since the early episodes of Season 1, sad BoJack Horseman quotes were part of almost every installment. However, back then viewers often glossed over them due to the lighter tone of the series. These quotes and small moments foreshadowed the character’s inner battle without giving much context or painting us the whole picture. Four seasons later, the show’s creators had enough time to flesh out not just BoJack, but also secondary characters like Princess Carolyn, Todd, Diane, and Mr. Peanutbutter. They’re all fighting their own demons. BoJack Horseman didn’t want to be the voice of depression; and yet, it’s become one of the most accurate portrayals of mental illness on television.
Here are some of the most depressing moments from BoJack Horseman. Be forewarned, there are spoilers ahead. But if you've already finished the show, there are also other dark shows like Bojack Horseman you might like.
Sarah Lynn was not a particularly likeable character. She was a loud, entitled, and self-destructive actress with a dangerous drug habit. And yet, her death turned out to be as heartbreaking as it was inevitable. In Season 3, she and BoJack went on the ultimate bender... until she could bend no more.
BoJack had just hit rock bottom and needed someone to drown his sorrows with. He picked Sarah Lynn because, as dysfunctional as their relationship was, she never judged him. They could do drugs and drink and watch old episodes of Horsin’ Around together. and none of them would ever think they were taking things too far. But as it turns out, for Sarah Lynn, That’s Too Much… Man. It’s a terrifying episode, as BoJack and Sarah Lynn’s desperate attempts to make amends became sadder and their drug-taking escalated to dangerous highs.
For all its bright colors and ridiculous puns, BoJack is a dark show about broken characters. Sarah Lynn might have been the most broken of them all. For a sitcom, this show really hurts at times.
BoJack’s relationship with his mom has never been rainbows and butterflies. From early on, we witness the emotional abuse BoJack suffered in his childhood via well-crafted and mostly miserable flashbacks.
But the show took it to the next level early in Season 4, when the creators shared the extended backstory of BoJack’s grandparents. We see exactly how his mother was damaged and what made her act so horribly towards BoJack all those years. It’s a heartbreaking reveal, to say the least.
Furthermore, BoJack then serves us the penultimate episode of Season 4, “Time’s Arrow,” which takes us into BoJack mom’s dementia-rattled mind. It’s a devastating and tough installment to watch – one that gives us even more insight into Bojack’s destructive family life. At least we get a touching ending, with BoJack acting like a caring son, for once.
Episode 6 of Season 4, titled, “Stupid Piece of Sh*t,” is one of the best episodes of the series, as well as one of the most honest portrayals of depression ever to air on TV. The episode makes us privy to BoJack’s inner monologue, which is far from flattering.
From calling himself a stupid piece of sh*t over and over again to overthinking the smallest action to weighing the upside to swerving into oncoming traffic, BoJack has a hyperactive and gloomy inner life. His self-destructive thoughts stand in the way of his happiness and prevent him from being kind to himself and those around him.
Even more heartbreaking, Hollyhock asks about the mean, tiny voice in her own head, wondering if it will ever go away. BoJack lies and tells her it does, making for a disheartening episode ending.
Hollyhock: Like, sometimes I have this tiny voice in the back of my head that goes, like Hey, everyone hates you! And they’re not wrong to feel that way!"
BoJack: I know what you mean.
Hollyhock: That voice, the one that tells you you’re worthless and stupid and ugly?
Hollyhock: It goes away, right? It’s just, like, a dumb teenage-girl thing, but then it goes away?
In Season 4, Princess Carolyn seems to have finally found happiness. Her job is going great, and she has a happy relationship. But since this is Bojack Horseman, things weren’t going to last.
In the episode "Ruthie," we see a cat in the far future tell the story about her distant relative, Princess Carolyn, who was extremely successful and came out on top even after the worst day in her life. Meanwhile, in the present, we see Princess Carolyn’s day going from bad to worse, until the point where we start wondering how a happy ending could even even possible.
Turns out: it’s not. Ruthie was only a fantasy Princess Carolyn came up with to make herself feel better.