The Simpsons: 10 Utterly Heart-Breaking Moments You'll Never Forget
The recent death of voice actress Marcia Wallace is not the first to affect the show, with comedian Phil Hartmann's characters being retired on his death, and it certainly isn't the only heart-wrenching moment to affect the show.
For a comedy show, The Simpsons is a surprisingly weighty affair: among the clownish caricatures and everyday moronic behaviour of Springfield's band of personified stereotypes, the show's writers cleverly explore important issues (though crucially without manipulation) and over the course of the show's marathon run, there have been some moments that have reached out and grabbed our tear-ducts to squeeze them dry.
In the wake of The Simpsons releasing the hugely touching image of Bart mourning his teacher and beloved foe above, we're looking back at the most profoundly emotional moments in the show's history. And first up, an actual broken heart...
Ralph's Broken Heart
Ralph Wiggum is largely a figure of fun on The Simpsons, thanks in part to the generous writing afforded by his charming idiocy, and also by the beautifully executed comedy of Nancy Cartwright's vocal performance.
But Ralph's enduring appeal comes also from the brief and fleeting punctuations to his stupidity, when he stops putting his tongue in plug sockets and cramming things into his bodily orifices and has uncharacteristically lucid moments.
Occasionally, that will mean profound philosophy spills out between bouts of silliness, and other times we'll see flashes of genuine humanity, which offer depth to the character. This moment might not have been very heart-breaking for the viewers - instead it made Lisa look more than a little mean - but it did give us a fully formed story for Ralph, and the touching pay-0ff when Lisa spectacularly spurns his advances.