With the possible exception of the Cheers gang’s debilitating liquor dependency or maybe the Tanner family’s unspoken suspicion that Danny murdered his wife, most characters on mainstream sitcoms don’t appear to be mired in tragedy. Still, on occasion, certain shows have offered up fleeting references to characters’ origin stories that can be extremely upsetting, such as how…

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4 ‘Community’: Annie Nearly Died Because of a Drug Addiction

Community’s Annie Edison is smart, bubbly, funny and has a backstory that sounds like an after-school special penned by Tom Waits. While the show didn’t dwell on it for long, fans learned that Annie struggled with severe drug addiction in high school. Things got so bad that she once exited a house party by running head-first through a plate-glass window in an amphetamine-fueled rage that required “six different reconstructive surgeries” as a result.

Annie was forced to go to rehab, with her mother eventually disowning her daughter because she refused to acknowledge the problem. This is why, before Annie moved in with Troy and Abed, she was forced to live in a sketchy apartment above a “marital aid” store. 

3 ‘The Office’: Erin Had a Traumatic Childhood, To Say the Least

Throughout The Office, Erin Hannon dropped several seriously troubling nuggets about her upbringing. First, Erin was given up for adoption by her puppeteer birth parents due to the “nightmares” they suffered from after working on The Dark Crystal. Next, young Erin would be tragically hospitalized from the ages of three to six with some mysterious illness.

While growing up in an orphanage, Erin claimed she had to “fight other kids. For everything: snacks, pillows, parents.” She then seemingly ended up in a foster home with no privacy whatsoever, which is why she pretended that her hair, when pulled in front of her face, was her room as a means of escaping the traumatic surroundings. Charles Dickens himself couldn’t conceive of an orphan story as tragically bleak as Erin’s.

2 ‘King of the Hill’: Luanne’s Parents Are Abusive Criminals

After 13 seasons of King of the Hill, it’s easy to forget why Luanne was living with her Uncle Hank and Aunt Peggy in the first place. At the end of the very first episode, it’s revealed that Luanne’s mother is a severe alcoholic who ended up in prison for stabbing her husband with a fork purely because he cut off her beer supply one night. (Incidentally, her father also ended up in prison due to a separate incident.) 

When Luanne’s mom, Leanne, eventually rejoined society, she was still a drunken mess and even attempted another utensil-based stabbing until Peggy wrestled her into submission.

1 ‘Friends’: It Turns Out That Joey Was Molested as a Child

Friends’ Joey Tribbiani certainly said a lot of dumb stuff — some of which, to be fair, was secretly brilliant — but one joke concerning Joey’s life skills was shockingly dark. After Joey sends Chandler to his tailor, Frankie, for a pants-fitting, Chandler angrily reports that he was groped. Joey vehemently defends the tailor, who he’s been seeing since he was a teenager, claiming that “that’s how they do pants.”

For some reason, the revelation that Joey was molested as a child elicited a whole lot of laughter from the studio audience. Frustratingly, this episode wasn’t followed up with “The One With Reporting Joey’s Tailor to the Authorities Immediately.”

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2023-09-26T07:13:55Z dg43tfdfdgfd