7 Worthless Lessons We Learned From TV's "Very Special Episodes"

“Very special episodes” are a staple of the classic sitcom. If you grew up in the 80s and 90s, then chances are you’ve taken away more than a few lessons from your favorite TV shows. Sadly, some of these lessons are far more worthless than others…

Don’t Hide in Refrigerators – Punky Brewster

If you remember just one episode from Punky Brewster, it’s probably the one where Cherie gets trapped in the refrigerator and almost suffocates. This very serious episode with the very adorable title (“Cherie Lifesaver”) was supposed to teach all us 80s kiddoes about the importance of CPR (Punky saves her pal with said acronym). However, the big lesson I took away from it was “when playing hide and seek, don’t hide in refrigerators.”

While kids of yesteryear may have had to learn this lesson, refrigerators in this day and age are made so that – in the frequent event you find yourself inside one – you can easily push your way out.

Oil Spills Kill Pet Ducks – Saved by the Bell

When Bayside just so happened to strike oil under the football field, Zach and the gang are super psyched about how rich the school is going to be. That is, until the oil leaks into a nearby pond and kills Becky, Zach’s all-of-a-sudden pet duck. Filled with remorse, the Zach Attack leads a rebellion and drilling of the oil is halted for good (year, right). If only we all had pet ducks, then maybe this whole BP disaster would have never happened.

You’re Not Stupid, You’re Just Dyslexic – The Cosby Show

Do you have trouble getting good grades in school? If so, then you may be relieved to learn that you’re not stupid, you just have dyslexia. Such was the lesson that Theo and Cliff learned on one very special episode of The Cosby Show. Upon learning that Theo may have the learning disorder, it leads Cosby to quip the following statement as his son heads out the door to be tested: “I hope you fail with flying colors.”

Let Runaway Teens Sleep in Your House – Growing Pains

When Mike Seaver finds a troubled runaway teen sleeping at his school, he does the smart thing and invites him to sleep over at his house. Naturally, his parents are worried that this strange homeless kid might be a thief or worse. So when bottles and bottles of wine suddenly start to go missing, they naturally assume that young Luke is an alcoholic. Well, don’t go judging a book by its cover just yet. As it turns out, Luke’s dad was an alcoholic and he’s been secretly pouring all the Seaver’s alcohol down the drain. The morale of the story? Street kids are way more angelic than the media makes them out to be

Don’t Forget Where You Hid Your Stash – Roseanne

A similar “troubled youth” story as Growing Pains plays out in an episode of Roseanne that finds David moving into the Connor house. When Roseanne finds pot in the house, she confronts David, who falsely confesses that it is his (thinking the weed is Darlene’s). Later, Dan informs Roseanne that the pot is, in fact, her own – stashed long ago back when they used to smoke themselves. How then, to get rid of the evidence? Smoke it, of course.

Tell Your Kid He Has Cancer – Home Improvement

In one particularly gut-wrenching episode of Home Improvement, the Taylor family struggles with the prospect that young Randy has cancer. Rather then worry their kid unnecessarily, Tim and Jill decide not to tell him until they get the results back. As it turns out, this proves to be the wrong course of action, as Randy finds out anyway and gets rightfully angry at his parents for their deception. Anyway, since it is later revealed that Randy doesn’t actually have cancer (turns out to be hypothyroidism), the clear message here is that you should always be truthful with your kids by telling them they have cancer.

Don’t Take Caffeine Pills – Saved by the Bell

Saved by the Bell makes the list a 2nd time with this mother of all very special episodes. Clearly wanting to talk about drug abuse without subjecting the kids at Bayside to actual illegal narcotics, the writers instead decide to give Jessie an addiction to caffeine pills. If ever there was a way to knock the wind out of a drug abuse message, this was it. Despite Elizabeth Berkeley’s Emmy-worthy “I’m so scared” scene, the intended message falls a bit flat.


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