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  • Break the Cutie: Punky after the Space Shuttle tragedy ("Accidents Happen"), after Allen moves away ("Divorce Anderson Style") and when she is stricken with appendicitis ("Ouch"--her tearful lament: "I have an -itis! I'm worm food!"); Cherie when she visits her parents' graves ("The Visit").
  • Crowning Moment of Awesome: Both the live action show and animated series were nominated for Emmys. The primetime show got nominated for the CPR episode; the animated show was nominated for an episode about a deaf boy (whose voice was supplied by an actual deaf child).
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Punky getting her first bra would be this when Soleil famously got a breast reduction at 16 because of gigantomastia.
    • I think she got it down to a C, which is still big enough to warrant an underwire.
    • Lampshaded in an episode of Robot Chicken: Punky discovers boys and gets Glomer to give her bigger breasts. Soleil even voices the stop-action Punky.
    • On the Jenny Jones Show, a couple years after she got her breast reduction, Soleil Moon Frye burst into tears, recounting how her classmates had given her the nickname "Chunky Boobster".
  • Nightmare Fuel: The notorious "Perils of Punky" two-parter. No child in their right mind tunes into the afternoon reruns of Punky Brewster and expects to see this. Blam.
    • A bit more subtle, but there were a few angsty episodes that worked a number on younger viewers, such as the aforementioned Challenger episode.
      • The abruptness of the cut in the middle of the Challenger episode is pretty scary- they're in class with Mike (their teacher) saying "A lady teacher's going up on the shuttle! I'm going to bring my TV so we can watch!" and all of the kids are cheering. Then, the very next thing we see is Punky rushing into her home crying. Wham.
    • "Urban Fear," an episode about a serial killer making his way through Chicago, causing Punky to fear for Henry's life. The entire episode is much darker than the show's usual output, and they never show the killer getting caught.
  • Tear Jerker: Punky pleading for Brandon to pull through in "I Love You Brandon" (and her subsequent empathy for the passing of the dog of a fellow pet owner); Punky's emotional pain following the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger ("Accidents Happen"); her goodbye to Allen in "Divorce, Anderson Style"; Cherie's catharsis upon visiting her parents' graves in "The Anniversary."
    • In the cartoon episode "Punky To The Rescue," tears stream down Punky's face as she feels that "I guess I wasn't meant to have a family" upon feeling that she and the kids will never find Henry who is lost in the swamp.
  • Ugly Cute: When Glomer turns Margaux's face into a glomley face in "Pretty Ugly" (animated series).
  • The Woobie: Julie (played by a pre-Full House Candace Cameron), from the episode "Milk Does A Body Good."
    • In "The Search," you just want to cradle Punky in your arms when she tearfully confides to Henry "I want my mother!"