People can go into sitcoms wanting very different things. The very fact that something has been labelled a situation-comedy means that it strikes a balance between two very different worlds; that of drama (where we seek interesting stories and characters) and that of comedy (where we often prioritise our emotional response over any continuous emotional attachment, hence the sketch show format).

To me, the best sitcoms have always been the ones that make you hurt with laughter but also cry with joy. You attach yourself to certain characters not just because we find them funnier than others on screen, but because we want to see them happy themselves. As bad as Blackadder was, and he was extremely terrible to the majority of people he came across, we wanted him to succeed in his endeavours.

Unfortunately this list is going to look at the other end of the spectrum. For as the sitcom has potential to make you care more than you expected going in, it can also hurt you by delivering a sudden, canned-laughter haltingly serious smack of drama while you’re trying to lighten your mood. And let’s face it, we love it. There isn’t anything quite like your favourite show coming out of left field with an emotional body blow and these ten entries did it best. (My apologies for some entries not having videos attached, the internet does not always easily oblige, but those that do have clips attached are at the bottom of their entries)

Let’s begin with…

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This article was first posted on August 11, 2013