The Cheesiest “Very Special” Episodes of ’80s and ’90s Sitcoms

Bust out your Kleenex and learn some life lessons.

Back in the day, we didn’t know about helicopter parenting or the importance of unplugging from our handheld devices (our giant box TVs could totally have been handheld if you were very strong and could bench 300), so we relied on television to raise us and teach us how to live. Enter the very special episode. And here are some of the very best (or at least the very best YouTube has to offer).

  • Growing Pains, the one where Matthew Perry dies.

    Embedded from

    Carol had to learn a very valuable lesson about drinking and driving and the cost of that lesson was Matthew Perry’s life.

  • Home Improvement, the one where Randy might have thyroid cancer.

    Embedded from

    It wasn’t often that Home Improvement stopped grunting and started getting real, but when it did, our youthful, JTT-obsessed brains couldn’t cope with its realness.

  • Boy Meets World, the one where Shawn joins a cult.

    Embedded from

    Shawn Hunter’s entire existence was essentially one big very special episode. He had to deal with class struggles, parental abandonment, alcoholism, help a friend hide from her abusive father and then of course there was the time he joined a cult, at the very same time as his mentor Mr. Turner got into a motorcycle accident, never to be seen again (he didn’t die, he was just “over there” and will return on Girl Meets World).

  • Boy Meets World, the one where Shawn’s dad dies.

    Embedded from

    Shawn’s tragic existence culminated with the death of his dad. God this show dealt with some real sh-t for a program that once featured Eric Matthews pretending to be a couch.

  • Punky Brewster, the one where Cherie got stuck in the fridge.

    Embedded from

    Like the ozone layer, we don’t really talk about the phenomenon of children getting stuck in refrigerators anymore, but apparently this was a serious problem. Enough so that Punky and co. had to deal with poor Cherie getting trapped on one. Luckily, they’d just learned CPR and could rescue her.

  • Full House, the one where Papouli dies.

    Embedded from

    When the Tanner family’s Greek side comes to visit, with them comes great-grandpa Papouli and his dancing skills and connection with a tiny Michelle. But this is an ’80s/’90s sitcom and never-before-seen grandparents have only one purpose on ’80s/’90s sitcoms: death.

  • Family Matters, the one where Urkel gets drunk and falls off a building.

    Embedded from

    He ends up fine. But lessons were learned along the way.

  • Family Matters, the one where Urkel raps about guns.

    Embedded from

    And inspires at least one guy to give up his gun.

  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the one where Will’s dad leaves.

    Embedded from

    Honestly, this is still Will Smith’s best performance. Ever.

  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the one where Will gets shot and Carlton thinks he needs a gun.

    Embedded from

    If Vince Vaughn watched this episode, he might not be so free and easy with his thoughts on gun control.

  • Saved by the Bell, the one with Johnny Dakota.

    Embedded from

    Zack and the gang almost get taken in by a famous actor and his serious drug problem. By serious drug, by the way, I mean weed. You know those Hollywood types and their parties, doing line after line of marijuana cigarettes (lest we forget Saved by the Bell was a kids’ TV show and cocaine does not exist in that world).

  • Saved by the Bell, the one with Jessie’s short-lived pill addiction.

    Embedded from

    This is the ultimate very special episode as far as I’m concerned. Still to this day, I can’t watch a Hydroxycut commercial without thinking of Jessie Spano and the diet pill damage done.

Dennis Haskins does his best Jessie Spano impression and reveals what it was like to shoot the legendary episode.