Do you like nostalgia and crying? Then you’ve come to the right place. We don’t normally think of kids cartoons as being particularly heavy, but sometimes, they can be piercingly sad. Grab some tissues and take a stroll down memory lane with us.
Kipper the Dog – Kipper says goodbye to the gosling
In “The Visitor,” Kipper befriends a baby goose who was out in a storm. He takes care of it, giving it a bath, offering it a box to sleep in, and feeding it cornflakes. The two become friends. Kipper + gosling = BFFs! In the end, though, Kipper realizes he has to set it free, and he says a heartfelt goodbye to his little goose friend. The part where we tear up is when his feathered buddy flies back for one last hug.
Powerpuff Girls – Powerpuff Bunny
The Powerpuff girls decide to try and create their own sister in the Professor’s lab and the result is Bunny, who, because the girls are not great at following the recipe, is nothing like they expect. Bunny tries, but the girls end up getting mad at her, causing Bunny to fly off alone. Later in the episode, however, when the girls are in danger, Bunny returns to save the day, exploding and dying in the process. Bunny, you were the hero Townsville needed.
Hey Arnold – Mr. Hyunh gives up his daughter
This one comes from the Hey Arnold Christmas special, and nothing says Christmas like a story about a father and daughter being tragically separated during the Vietnam War. In this episode, Arnold is supposed to get Mr. Hyunh a Secret Santa present. He learns the sad story of how Mr. Hyunh was forced to give up his daughter to protect her, and he vows to reunite them. Don’t worry, they reunite at the end. Which is happy, but ugh! That separation story kills us!
Avatar – Iroh sings to his deceased son
In “Tales of Ba Sing Se,” an episode featuring mostly light-hearted, short stories about each of the main characters, Iroh’s story stands in stark contrast to the others. While Aang is parading zoo animals through the streets and Sokka is getting kicked out of an all-female haiku club, Iroh is having a little picnic…for his dead son. On said son’s birthday. Oh. His son died fighting in the war. Iroh sits alone on a hilltop, lighting sticks of incense before a picture of his son, singing “Brave soldier boy comes marching home…” Except our hearts are broken because we know his son is never coming home. To make things even sadder, this part of the episode is dedicated to Iroh’s late voice actor, Mako Iwamatsu, who passed away on July 21, 2006.
Rugrats – Poem to Chuckie from his mother
In this special Mother’s Day episode, Chuckie feels sad that he doesn’t remember anything about his mom. Chuckie’s father finally tells him about his mother, and he reads him the saddest poem ever that she wrote while she was in the dying in the hospital.
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.”
Do you need a moment to collect yourself? We’ll wait.
There, there. It’s just cartoons, right?
Do YOU have a sad cartoon episode you’d add to this list? Tell us in the comments!