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.
Just as Diane tries to outrun her unhappiness when going to Cordovia, BoJack escapes from LA to reconnect with old flame, Charlotte. As it turns out, not everyone is stuck in the past. She now has a family, so BoJack ends up staying with them for a few months. His life in New Mexico seems picture perfect, but this happiness isn’t sustainable.
This Season 2 episode shows BoJack at his best – trying to make the most of the situation by truly connecting with Charlotte’s family – and at his worst – giving into his negative impulses and devastating the people he cares most about. As a fan, you can’t help but root for BoJack the entire episode, but aren’t at all surprised when he screws up.
And boy, does he screw up. There’s no moral grey area here – BoJack is clearly in the wrong. Despite his best intentions, his destructive behavior makes it really hard for viewers to sympathize. And yet, you still feel for him and hope he will get better. That’s a testament to how compelling BoJack really is.
Episode 8 of Season 1 explores BoJack’s relationship with his old friend, Herb, who is dying of cancer. Viewers travel back to the '80s and witness the moment BoJack betrayed his friend when he needed him the most. In the present, the visit goes fairly well – Herb fires out a few insults, but the two seem to still have some stuff in common.
And yet, when BoJack apologizes for his betrayal, Herb refuses to accept it. He doesn’t give BoJack the closure he so longingly craves. It wasn’t the show Herb was upset about losing; it was his friendship with Bojack. “You have to live with the sh*tty thing you did for the rest of your life,” Herb tells him.
In life, people don’t always get closure. Closure only happens in 30-minute sitcoms.
In the beginning of the show, Todd is more of a comic relief character, a soundboard for BoJack’s frustrations. As the series progresses, however, he becomes a stronger and more well-rounded person, until the point where he’s finally able to confront BoJack and lay some harsh truths on him.
After he finds out BoJack had sex with his friend Emily, Todd can’t take it anymore.
"You are all the things that are wrong with you. It's not the alcohol, or the drugs, or any of the shitty things that happened to you in your career, or when you were a kid — it's you. Alright? It's you. F*ck, man. What else is there to say?”
Their falling out has significant consequences. While the two buddies are back on speaking terms, their friendship was severely damaged.
Episode 9 of Season 1 is called "Downer Ending," which turns out to be a very fitting title. BoJack goes on a bender in order to write his memoir, which results in some tough realizations. He then reaches out to Diane and begs her to tell him he’s a good person.
“Do you think it’s too late for me?” Diane doesn’t reply.