The top 5 saddest Bojack Horseman episodes

With the January 31st came the ending of an amazing show.

Bittersweet and brilliant to the very end. BoJack Horseman‘s final season manages to keep surprising viewers with its empathy and depth, solidifying its place as one of TV's greatest offerings.

How did we not see this?
How did we not see this?

Our team at LearnWorthy did the research and listed the top 5 saddest Bojack Horseman episodes:

5. “Escape from L.A” (Season 2, Episode 11)

4. “That's too much, man!” (Season 3, Episode 11)

3. “The View from Halfway Down” (Season 6, Episode 16)

2. “Time's Arrow” (Season 4, Episode 11)

1. “Free Churro” (Season 5, Episode 6)


Escape from L.A

Escape from L.A Episode
“Escape from L.A” episode

Summary: Bojack travels out of Hollywoo in an attempt to reconnect with his old friend, Charlotte in New Mexico. Even though he was hoping she would still be single, it turns out she's happily married. And also has two kids. After overstaying his welcome by two months, Bojack accompanies Charlotte's daughter Penny to prom. And this is where things get bad.

First introduced in the season one episode “The Telescope,” Bojack’s friend Charlotte was often the subject of Bojack’s fantasy of escaping the more suffocating aspects of Los Angeles. It speaks to his self-absorption that Bojack placed Charlotte on a pedestal to make himself feel better. For so long, he held an image of Charlotte in his head. He expected her life to stay static while he lived his own.

When he lands in New Mexico and joins Charlotte’s family, Bojack is thrown. But leaving L.A. was as much about Bojack living out a fantasy sequence as it was about him escaping himself. It speaks to how hopelessly Bojack wants to be a different person that he would rather insert himself into a new family than return home with his tail between his legs.

That's too much, man!

"That's too much, man!"
“That's too much, man!” episode

Summary: Just as Sarah Lynn wakes up to mark off her ninth month being sober, Bojack calls and asks if she’s ready to party. Sarah Lynn drops her sobriety with a handle of vodka and the two embark on a drug and alcohol-fueled bender. After smashing an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, Sarah Lynn and Bojack go on a confused apology tour making amends for past mistakes.

Pushed out of an Oscars race Bojack longed for all season, Bojack predictably deals with the career blow by turning to his old friends: drugs, booze, and former teen idol Sarah Lynn. As they knock back bottles and snort increasingly questionable things (like drywall) the two also binge watch old episodes of Horsin’ Around.

Bojack gets sucked into the past, growing poetic about old days on set. He talks about how easy things were, even as Sarah Lynn reminds him of the daily strain of network television. Sarah Lynn remembers that fellow child actress Joelle got an eating disorder and missed five days of filming. A nostalgic Bojack ignores her to say, “We didn’t know how good we had it.” 

Though its one of the best-written and hardest-hitting episodes of the series, “That’s Too Much, Man!” is a tough pill to swallow. The show returns Bojack’s cringe-worthy relationship with Sarah Lynn. He sees that he doubles as her sexual partner and party friend as well as a pseudo-father figure. They see themselves mirrored in each other. Their lack of judgment keeps their bender spiraling out of control until it grinds to a heart-wrenching halt.

The view from halfway down

"The view from halfway down" episode
“The view from halfway down” episode

Summary: In the penultimate episode of the series, Bojack falls down the rabbit hole of his subconsciousness when he overdoses and lies floating in a pool. On the brink of death, Bojack’s mind fires off a feverish tribute to all the people he’s lost throughout his life.

Invited into a dinner party that’s a different “who’s who” of dead friends and family, Bojack quickly admits that he’s dreaming. But as the dinner guests wrap up dinner and exit to a grand hall, Bojack goes more mysterious than he ever has before. The dream mutates into a nightmare. And this time, Bojack doesn’t know if he’ll wake up.

The dead dinner guests include Horsin’ Around showrunner Herb Kazazz, co-star Corduroy Jackson Jackson, Zach Braff, Bojack’s unforgiving mother, his war-hero uncle, a Freudian mix of Secretariat and his father, and of course, Sarah Lynn. The guests perform for Bojack, filling out the line-up for an absurd talent show in his head. And as each of the end of their segment, they drop down through a door to nowhere, disappearing into the inky blackness.

When his friends and family (and Zach Braff) disappear from the stage one by one, Bojack tries to make sense of everything. He not only challenges the reality of his dream but the reality of death itself. As his real self drifts helplessly in a pool, Bojack defies the idea that there may not be anything waiting for him after he drowns. He stands before the door to nowhere and asks if he’ll see his old friend Herb on the other side. “Oh Bojack, there is no other side,” Herb says, dissolving before his eyes. “This is it.”

Time's Arrow

"Time's Arrow" episode
“Time's Arrow” episode

My absolutely favorite!

Summary: “Time’s Arrow” acts as a flash into the past through Beatrice Horseman’s decaying mind as she battles dementia. Told in bursts, the episode explains the story of Bojack’s parents, as they fell in love at a young age and moved to San Francisco after an unplanned pregnancy. Their troubled marriage ends in an affair between Butterscotch Horseman and their maid, Henrietta, exposing that Hollyhock is Bojack’s half-sister.

By fleshing out Bojack’s parents and giving penetration into Beatrice’s unhappiness as a mother and wife, the episode proves that Bojack was undesired from the second he was born. He could never live up to his mother’s impossible expectations. “Time’s Arrow” also reveals why Beatrice tormented Bojack, fueled by her own childhood trauma and the unreachable standards her own father set for her. At a certain point, Beatrice determined she was broken. She pushed him away, the same way Bojack pushes away people in his own life as well.

The non-linear structure mimics Beatrice’s dementia in a haunting way, infusing the chapter with dread and confusion.

Free Churro

"Free Churro" episode
“Free Churro” episode

Summary: In “Free Churro” Bojack stops at Jack in the Box on the way to his mother’s funeral. And the story goes on that he receives a free churro from the cashier out of sympathy. He goes on to deliver a eulogy to a crowd of mourners as he reflects on his complicated relationship with his mother. He also tries to parse out the meaning of his mother’s last words, which were simply, “I see you.” After an episode-long monologue, Bojack opens the casket and realizes that he attended the wrong funeral.

Free Churro deservedly tops the “The top 5 saddest Bojack Horseman episodes” list.

Show creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg wrote “Free Churro,” and it’s a testament to his abilities as a writer. It proves that he was able to conjure up an episode that relies on a single character’s voice. Credit is due to Will Arnett as well, who delivers Bojack’s twenty-minute eulogy without interruption. But also voices Bojack’s father Butterscotch Horseman before the hard cut to the opening credits. Although it’s animated, Bojack Horseman may be the most emotionally rich project that Arnett has acted in and “Free Churro” is further evidence of that.

By letting Bojack speak freely, untethered by the confines of a serialized TV episode, “Free Churro” almost acts as a therapy session. He goes on and on, dissecting his mother’s final words and describes one tiny moment of shared love between his parents. He cracks knock-knock jokes on his mother’s casketThe monologue delivers a nuanced look at the complicated pain of losing someone who was more abusive than loving. It also demystifies the idea of closure. “You never get a happy ending,” Bojack says. “Because there’s always more show. Until there isn’t.”

Did we miss something to add to “The top 5 saddest Bojack Horseman episodes” list? Contact us and let us know!