Father’s Day is this weekend, and for whatever reason, I was inspired to go back and take a look at the Ten Most Heartbreaking Television Episodes of the Last 20 Years. It turned out to be a strangely cathartic experience, if by cathartic you mean: Weeping holes in my soul. Warning: Tho use — some aris might be a good piece to wait until the weekend to read (and watch) in privacy. Note: Due to copyright issues and the Interweb’s hatred of me, I was unable to find some of the clips I would’ve liked — some are of bad quality and some are of fan made, but I trust the savvy television watchers will know to what scenes I’m referring.
10. Lost — “Through the Looking Glass”
Episode Description: Ben confronts Jack, claiming that Naomi is not who she seems. Meanwhile, Sawyer and Juliet try to come up with a plan to rescue the hostages at the beach. Inside the Looking Glass, Charlie and Desmond struggle to find a way to shut off the blocking signal.
9. Quantum Leap — “M.I.A. April 1, 1969”
Episode Description: As an undercover police officer, Sam is caught in a familiar scenario to Al when he must prevent a M.I.A. Naval officer’s wife (who is actually Al’s wife) from marrying another man until he returns from captivity. But the other man keeps showing up and Sam thinks it may just be fate that the two come together.
8. BBC’s “The Office” — “Christmas Special”
Episode Description: Tim’s world is rocked when Dawn turns up at the office to say hello. Despite a stern warning from Gareth and wise words from Keith in Accounts, Tim can’t help but get his hopes up again. Meanwhile, David Brent has secured the services of a dating agency and, in between making celebrity appearances in nightclubs for £500 a go, he meets up for drinks with a rather disappointing selection of single women. The office Christmas party kicks off like any other but there are a few surprises in store.
7. Wonder Years — “Independence Day”
Episode Description: In the end, the narrator tells us that Paul went on to study law at Harvard, that Karen has her baby and that he looks like Kevin, that Norma goes on to become a board chairman and that Wayne takes over the family furniture business after Jack passes away two years later. Kevin and Winnie write to each other every week for the eight years after she leaves for France to study art history. When she returns, Kevin is married and has a son. Kevin realizes that nothing turns out how you plan, but that his memories of childhood will be with him forever.
6. “West Wing” — “Two Cathedrals”
Episode Description: On the day of Mrs. Landingham’s funeral, the staff deals with a Haitian presidential crisis and the law suit against the big tobacco companies, and Bartlet must decide about running for reelection.
5. “Friday Night Lights” — “Pilot”
Episode Description: A newcomer coach Eric Taylor finds himself helming a promising high school football team, the Dillon Panthers, that has a real chance to make it to the top.
4. Futurama — “Jurassic Bark”
Episode Description: Fry reads in the newspaper that archaeologists have recreated an old Pizzeria from the 20th Century. He and Bender go to see it and discover that it is in fact Panucci’s Pizza, the pizzeria Fry used to work at in 1999. Fry also discovers that the fossilized remains of his old dog Seymour are on display. Fry campaigns to get Seymour back and eventually does, and Farnsworth says he can use the cloning machine to bring Seymour back to life.
3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer — “The Body”
Episode Description: Buffy is devastated when she arrives home and finds her mother dead. The rest of the gang try their best to pull themselves out of their own grief so that they can help Buffy and Dawn to deal with the worst day of their lives.
2. Scrubs — “My Screw Up”
Episode Description: Jordan’s brother and sister return, but Dr. Cox learns that his brother-in-law Ben hasn’t visited a doctor about his cancer in the two years he has been gone traveling the world.
1. “Six Feet Under — “Everyone’s Waiting”
Episode Description: The drama about a Los Angeles funeral home meets its maker after five compelling seasons. Three weeks ago, Nate Fisher Jr.’s death ended speculation about which of the show’s major characters would die. But in the hands of creator Alan Ball, who wrote and directed this episode, you can bet the finale will be anything but anticlimactic. One issue certain to be resolved involves the health of Nate’s unborn child, since tonight, Brenda goes into labor. While the last two seasons have been downbeat, the writing has remained original, the acting terrific. Like Nate, the series will be missed.