Every good sitcom needs a dumb, doofy character to help deliver the laughs. Some of these characters never grow up or show any emotional depth, but every once in a while, goofy sitcom characters surprise us with serious moments.
These scenes can round out and balance a sitcom's lighter side, showing, for example, that the Friends group truly, deeply are there for each other in their darkest moments. Or that even a malicious baby like Stewie Griffin isn't a total sociopath. Here are some of the most emotional moments sitcom characters have experienced over the years.
- Photo: NBC
Hilary Banks is not known for her critical thinking skills, but when it comes to giving her little sister Ashley relationship advice in the Season 6 episode "Not With My Cousin You Don't," she ends up being the wise big sibling.
Ashley comes to Hilary for advice about her boo Derek, whom she's thinking about sleeping with. After Will and Carlton eavesdrop on her, then give her a speech straight out of a Sexism & Double Standards 101 handbook, Ashley turns to Hil. Although Hilary does compare Ashley's budding long-distance relationship to The Little Mermaid ("she was stuck in the sea and he was stuck on land"), she opens up about the first time she had sex. Hilary tells her little sis, "For as long as I can remember you have been independent, responsible, and smart. I know you're aware of all the issues and whatever decision you do make I'm always here for you." It's the most sincere, mature advice anyone gives her.
The scene suggests there's more to Hilary than just shopping and boys.Emotional moment?
- Photo: Fox
On Family Guy, when little Stewie Griffin learns why he and the family's white Lab, Brian, are stuck overnight in a bank vault, the pair have an oddly mature moment. Brian is there to take care of his financial affairs because he wants to take his own life.
After Stewie realizes Brian has a gun, along with some Scotch intended for a "last drink," the usually evil baby tells his dog buddy that their friendship gives him purpose in life and he would miss him if he were gone. Although life really might be "too much" for Brian sometimes, the episode ends with him carrying little Stewie out of the vault, ready to live another day.
It's one of the most tender moments on the show, even though the writers had to mix in a couple of poop jokes to make the whole conversation land.Emotional moment?
- Photo: NBC
Phoebe Buffay - the always quirky, sometimes spacey friend on Friends - shows her serious side in Season 2's "The One with Phoebe's Dad," where she learns the photos she has of her father are actually just the stock model seen in purchased picture frames. Phoebe then confronts her grandmother, who doesn't know much about her dad other than his address in upstate New York. So Phoebe enlists Joey and Chandler to go with her to visit him.
Because she's Phoebe, she starts the trip as if it were just any other errand: She'll pop in to meet her biological father for the first time, then take the guys to finish their Christmas shopping - in the old taxi that serves as her car.
But Phoebe can't even get out of the cab to knock on her dad's door. As they sit in the car for hours, ruining their chance at hitting the stores, Joey and Chandler don't force her. Instead, they tell her she can present herself to her dad whenever she's ready, sweetly supporting her no matter what.
She returns to look for him with Joey and Rachel, only to learn that her father has also abandoned his other family. Phoebe doesn't actually meet her dad, however, until Season 5, at her grandmother's funeral. In another moving moment, she learns he used to sing a song to her with the same melody as "Smelly Cat."Emotional moment?
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After seasons and seasons of jokes about Mac's sexuality on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, in Season 13, the bartender finally decides to do something about it. The group isn't exactly known for emotional intelligence, but Mac decides to do an interpretive dance, in front of his father no less, to help him "find his pride." He tells his dad, "I don’t know where I fit in as a gay man and it’s starting to get to me. I’m not feeling very proud.”
The episode ends with a five-minute dance number performed by actor Rob McElhenney and professional ballerina Kylie Shea. It's earnest and beautiful - a rarity for the crude sitcom.Emotional moment?