Netflix’s animated series BoJack Horseman combines comedy and tragedy in a masterful way that has made it one of the greatest shows on TV right now. It’s the story of a talking horse who is more human than most other characters on the small screen.
The show can hop between moments of absurdity and moments of soul-crushing emotional anguish that we still haven’t recovered from like no other series on the air. The series’ upcoming sixth season will likely bring even more heartbreaking moments than we’ve already seen in the past five seasons. So, here are BoJack Horseman’s 10 Saddest Moments, Ranked.
10 “I need you to tell me that I’m a good person.”
This season 1 moment was the first to warn us that BoJack Horseman could give us serious emotional agony. In the aptly titled episode “Downer Ending,” BoJack rushes down to the Q&A for ghostwriters to ask Diane to tell him he’s a good person:
“I need you to tell me that I’m a good person. I know that I can be selfish and narcissistic and self-destructive, but underneath all that, deep down, I’m a good person, and I need you to tell me that I’m good. Diane? Tell me, please, Diane. Tell me that I’m good.” But Diane just sits in silence, causing every viewer’s jaw to drop.
9 BoJack watches the horses run
Towards the end of BoJack Horseman’s third season, we find the title character in a really tough place in his life. He’s just lost out in a role in an indie movie that would’ve given him some artistic merit and he’s been relegated to a role in a Fuller House-style sequel series to Horsin’ Around called Ethan Around.
To clear his head, he leaves the set and drives out to the desert, where he sees some horses running together. He’s clearly emotionally affected by this and feels a kindred spirit with his fellow horses, having just played Secretariat in a biopic.
8 “I’m tired of squinting.”
The breakdown of Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter’s marriage was unavoidable, because although they loved each other, they were simply too different to build a life together. But that’s not for lack of trying, and it doesn’t mean it wasn’t sad when Diane delivered the death blow as she compared their marriage to a magic eye poster:
“It’s messy, and at first glance it doesn’t seem to make sense, and it’s hard to figure out. But sometimes, if you squint at it just right, everything lines up and it’s the most perfect, beautiful, amazing thing.” But then she adds, “I’m tired of squinting,” summing up every failed marriage.
7 Todd confronts BoJack
Although he gave Todd a place to stay before the series began, BoJack has generally been quite terrible to him. In their friendship, Todd gives way more to BoJack than BoJack gives to him, even though the latter lets the former sleep in his house without paying rent.
Todd usually lets it slide, but after BoJack screwed him over a second time by sleeping with his girlfriend Emily, Todd finally confronted him about it: “You can’t keep doing s****y things and then feel bad about yourself like that makes it okay. You need to be better...You are all the things that are wrong with you.”
6 Princess Carolyn hugs a baby seat
In her taxi on the way back from the hospital where the woman whose baby she was due to adopt changed her mind and decided to keep it, Princess Carolyn was obviously feeling pretty down. She didn’t have the baby she wanted, but she did have the still-in-its-box baby seat she was going to take it home in, so she just cuddled that instead.
We spent the whole season leading up to Princess Carolyn becoming a mother, which she’d dreamed about forever to give her life meaning, and so when she didn’t get the baby, we were just as crushed as her.
5 Gina decides not to tell the press about BoJack choking her
On the set of Philbert, the new detective series he’s starring in with an up-and-coming actress named Gina Cazador, BoJack succumbs to his painkiller addiction and forcibly chokes Gina during a scene. News of the incident gets out and, tragically, Gina decides to keep its true nature a secret from the press.
While BoJack realizes that what he did was wrong and wants to come clean about it and do the right thing, Gina has been relegated to bit parts in her previous projects and doesn’t want to jeopardize her chances at mainstream Hollywood success by becoming known only as the actress who got choked by BoJack Horseman. The scene highlights the discrimination towards women and ethnic minorities in the media in a startling and heartbreaking way.
4 BoJack’s eulogy
Animated shows hardly ever do episodes like “Free Churro” from the fifth season of BoJack Horseman. Live-action shows need bottle episodes set in one location to cut back on costs, but animated shows don’t have those limitations. When BoJack did a bottle episode, it was a creative decision, and it paid off in gut-wrenching ways.
Aside from the two-minute prologue, the whole episode is a half-hour eulogy delivered by BoJack at his mother’s funeral. It has a stream-of-consciousness feel as BoJack processes his emotions about his mother’s death out loud, while Will Arnett’s incredible voice acting sells the whole thing.
3 Hollyhock asks about the “voice” in her head
Back when BoJack thought that Hollyhock was his estranged daughter and not his estranged half-sister, she asked him for some parenting advice as they sat by the pool together. She told him about the “tiny voice” in her head that tells her she’s “worthless and stupid and ugly,” and asked if that voice ever goes away.
BoJack is painfully aware that it doesn’t, but he also knows what Hollyhock needs to hear, so he lies and tells her it does. What makes the scene even more painful is that we’ve glimpsed inside BoJack’s mind and seen that the voice in his head is louder than ever.
2 The death of Sarah Lynn
This one was inevitable, but it still crushed BoJack fans when it happened. The death of Sarah Lynn has affected BoJack in many ways in the years since it happened. Part of him feels responsible because it happened when the two were on a drug-induced bender together.
Part of him wishes it had been him instead of Sarah Lynn, who was young and misunderstood instead of irreparably broken like him. As a child star who grew up in the spotlight, Sarah Lynn’s drug addiction is understandable and agonizingly believable. There are few TV deaths as heartbreaking as this one was.
1 BoJack’s mom recognizes him
To be fair, the entire season 4 episode “Time’s Arrow” could be included on this list. It’s a timely and poignant examination of the heartbreaking effects of dementia. The whole episode takes a nonlinear structure as it takes place in the confused mind of BoJack’s mother.
The episode has some tragic revelations about where Hollyhock came from, as well as some melancholic recreations of childhood memories, animated not as they happened, but how she would remember them. But arguably, the saddest moment in the whole episode – and the whole show – also has an element of hopefulness. BoJack is about to leave his mother in a dank, disgusting nursing home, and as he’s leaving, she recognizes him, inspiring a change of heart.