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Old 12-08-2019, 08:57 PM
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Most depressing sitcom episode


The recent sad death of Rene Auberjonois reminded me of a very disturbing episode of "Benson" he was involved in called "Scenario". As this summary notes, it was an episode about a nuclear war drill and it's one of the most depressing things I've ever seen. It also featured internet predecessor ARPANET, so it was arguably the first appearance of the internet on TV. What sitcom episodes were memorably depressing and sad than most dramas?
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:12 PM
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I believe that The Ranch is still supposed to be a comedy, but the episodes about Rooster being missing and then presumed dead were awfully bleak.
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:12 PM
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I know M*A*S*H is not pure sitcom and more of a drama-comedy mix, but I'd nominate the "Dreams" episode for that.
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:18 PM
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When Edith almost got raped on All in the Family was pretty grim.
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:25 PM
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I know M*A*S*H is not pure sitcom and more of a drama-comedy mix, but I'd nominate the "Dreams" episode for that.
Father Mulcahey's dream has stayed with me for years.
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:33 PM
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If Futurama counts, Jurassic Bark.
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:34 PM
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When Edith almost got raped on All in the Family was pretty grim.
Yeah. That's the first one I thought of.
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:35 PM
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Final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth. Sad, moving, but also utterly brilliant.
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:49 PM
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The series finale of Dinosaurs ended with an ice age setting in and killing everyone.
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:59 PM
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If Futurama counts, Jurassic Bark.
This is the first one that I thought of. Although the other ones mentioned are right there as well. Hawkeye's dream has stuck with me since it aired.

Last edited by Personal; 12-08-2019 at 10:00 PM.
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Old 12-08-2019, 10:09 PM
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Nowhere as shocking as some of the others, but the episode of Cheers where Dianne goes off to write her novel, and Sam realizes that she will never come back.
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Old 12-08-2019, 10:15 PM
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Another vote for "Dreams" from MASH. For me, it was Winchester's dream (followed by the most heartfelt "damn" ever uttered on TV). Another one was the Korean-American baby they tried to get sent to the US.

For another one, The fresh Prince of BelAir was light comedy most of the time, but the episode where Will's father (played by Ben Vereen) came back into Will's life and then almost immediately left it, left one depressed (IMHO).
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Old 12-08-2019, 10:22 PM
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There is an episode of Fraggle Rock called "Marooned" that is really quite amazing for a children's puppet show.
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Old 12-08-2019, 10:34 PM
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Was that Dreams episode an hour long? There were, what, six dreams?
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Old 12-08-2019, 10:37 PM
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Arnold and Dudley in the bike shop comes close.

Or any "very special" episode
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Old 12-08-2019, 11:42 PM
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Was that Dreams episode an hour long? There were, what, six dreams?
No, only a half-hour and each dream sequence was about 2.5-3 minutes, IIRC. Superbly timed and sequenced.
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Old 12-09-2019, 12:00 AM
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There was a Family Ties episode called " ‘A’ My Name Is Alex " which was "very special" and actually pretty bizarre as I recall. A friend of Alex Keaton (previously never seen or even mentioned, as far as I know) has died and Alex, in his mourning and introspection and existential angst, monologues as he moves from set to set on a darkened minimalist stage, making the whole thing look like a watered-down and somewhat mopey version of a Beckett play.

I only saw it the night it first aired back in 1987 and I didn't know what the fuck was going on.
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Old 12-09-2019, 12:01 AM
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Marshall's dad dying in How I Met Your Mother.

Typically I delete that episode if I my DVR picks it up, but a few weeks back, I wasn't paying attention and watched it by accident. For those that haven't watched it (or those that have), it's a surprise at the end of an otherwise good/normal episode, so I really wasn't expecting it, like, at all.
Then to make it worse, just a day or two ago, I watched the funeral episode. Again, wasn't really paying attention or I would have deleted it.

At least, as a reward for watching those two, I go to watch Oh Honey, which is right after those. That's one of my favorite episodes.
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Old 12-09-2019, 12:18 AM
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Doogie Howser M.D., "To Live and Die in Brentwood." His girlfriend Wanda's mother is killed unexpectedly in a car accident.
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Old 12-09-2019, 12:30 AM
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I remember the very solemn 'All in the Family' episode when Edith found out about Archie's stepping out with the barmaid of his bar. Her reaction, and when Gloria called him asking where her mother was, Archie, humiliated and crushed, telling Gloria she ran away from home.

Crazy as it was ( in hindsight ) a younger woman with the hots for Archie, I remember as an early teen watching it with my family and the stunned reaction of everybody to that final scene.
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Old 12-09-2019, 12:36 AM
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Final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth. Sad, moving, but also utterly brilliant.
There was another British comedy called One Foot in the Grave. In the last episode, the main character, Victor, has been killed by a hit-and-run driver. The episode focuses on his widow, Margaret, trying to cope with his death. At one point she confesses to her minister that the one thought that keeps her going is the chance to get revenge on the killer, although she does seem to find some solace with a friend she met in a support group, and who is also recently widowed.

At the end, Margaret discovers that her new friend is the killer. She was rushing to the hospital to see her husband one last time before he died, and she hit Victor by accident. The episode ends with Margaret driving away and we don't know whether she has gotten her revenge or not.

It was brilliant.
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Old 12-09-2019, 02:19 AM
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I'll go with All In The Family too. But the one where Gloria got assaulted.

The chilling part for me was, by the end of the episode, everyone had moved on as if the problem had been resolved. But the very last scene was a close up of Gloria who was still obviously shaken.
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Old 12-09-2019, 05:00 AM
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The Fresh Prince of Bel Air had the classic episode where Will's father reappears.
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Old 12-09-2019, 05:14 AM
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the episode of barney miller where barn's wife tells him she's getting a divorce

And the episode where fish (abe Vigoda)who retired comes back to the precinct for a visit and finds out life there went on without him especially at the end when they all go out for a homicide call and hes just left standing there .......
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Old 12-09-2019, 08:57 AM
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Not a sitcom specifically, but a meta movie inside a sitcom.

"Helene: It was sad for a Three Stooges picture, what with the dead baby and the Stooges being executed and all.
Kramer: Yeah, well that was an unusual choice for the Stooges."
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Old 12-09-2019, 09:25 AM
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The Fresh Prince of Bel Air had the classic episode where Will's father reappears.
Great performance by Ben Vereen. Fresh-Prince also had an episode where Will gets some uppers from a friend, tells Carlton they are vitamins. So Carlton pops a few before the prom, does a wild and crazy dance, and ends up in the hospital. Will tells Uncle Phil they were his pills, and Phil makes him apologize to the whole family. First scene where Smith really showed his acting ability, but too damn depressing.

In retrospect, nothing can match the Mork & Mindy episode where Mork is mistaken for Robin Williams and discovers the price of fame and how it killed certain people, including John Belushi & (dramatic pause) John Lennon.

And Robin Williams name is now on the list.
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Old 12-09-2019, 09:25 AM
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Most depressing, and most moving: the episode of Benson where his mother dies.

"She saw you into this world, Benson. Don't you think you ought to see her out?"

and

"Whatchu gonna do? You gotta keep the faith!"
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Old 12-09-2019, 09:27 AM
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The Office: Dinner Party.
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Old 12-09-2019, 09:54 AM
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In How I met Your Mother, Marshall's dad dies, and in the funeral he realizes he left him a last voicemail on his phone.
Warning, it's a tear jerker.
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Old 12-09-2019, 09:58 AM
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While not an overall depressing and sad episode, the end of S02E03 of Rick and Morty: Auto Erotic Assimilation, with Rick and Unity's breakup. The end never fails to make me sad, especially Rick being too drunk to competently kill himself.
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Old 12-09-2019, 10:43 AM
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Some other contenders https://www.cracked.com/article_1940...-comedies.html
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Old 12-09-2019, 12:14 PM
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All in the Family also gave us Edith's Crisis of Faith where transvestite Beverly LaSalle was killed by a group of transvestite haters.
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Old 12-09-2019, 12:35 PM
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Scrubs was well known for blurring the line between comedy and drama, but for the most part it was a quirky sitcom. But this scene from "My Lunch" has got to be one of the saddest sitcom moments in recent memory.
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Old 12-09-2019, 12:46 PM
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Quote:
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Marshall's dad dying in How I Met Your Mother.

Typically I delete that episode if I my DVR picks it up, but a few weeks back, I wasn't paying attention and watched it by accident. For those that haven't watched it (or those that have), it's a surprise at the end of an otherwise good/normal episode, so I really wasn't expecting it, like, at all.
If you watch semi-carefully, there's a countdown to the big news during the whole episode. Numbers are subtly (or not-so) worked into the show until Marshal gets the news.
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Old 12-09-2019, 01:41 PM
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the episode of barney miller where barn's wife tells him she's getting a divorce

And the episode where fish (abe Vigoda)who retired comes back to the precinct for a visit and finds out life there went on without him especially at the end when they all go out for a homicide call and hes just left standing there .......
There's a two-part episode of Barney Miller (called, obviously enough, "Homicide"), in which the squad becomes strictly homicide investigations. At the end of the second episode, they get a call about that a local liquor store owner has been murdered. This was a character who had appeared several times, one of the neighborhood regulars, so the audience knew and liked him too.

The gut punch was that he had come to them earlier in the episode, reporting that he was being shaken down by gangsters wanting protection money. Because of the homicide-only policy, they couldn't help him then. Wojo has a devastatingly bitter line when they get the call about his murder: "I guess we can handle it now."
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Old 12-09-2019, 01:53 PM
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If you watch semi-carefully, there's a countdown to the big news during the whole episode. Numbers are subtly (or not-so) worked into the show until Marshal gets the news.
And there's a red herring of potentially bad news throughout the episode - Marshall and Lily wondering if they are capable of having children - so the shock of the actual bad news comes as a bigger surprise than it might otherwise (also Alyson Hannigan's sad face is very effective).
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Old 12-09-2019, 02:13 PM
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Stan’s existential crisis in the South Park episode “You're Getting Old”. Everything turns to crap.
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Old 12-09-2019, 02:57 PM
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I know M*A*S*H is not pure sitcom and more of a drama-comedy mix, but I'd nominate the "Dreams" episode for that.
For me, it's the episode where they try to keep a soldier from dying on Christmas, only to have him snuff it about 5 minutes before mid-night. Hawkeye moves the clock forward.
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Old 12-09-2019, 03:44 PM
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If you watch semi-carefully, there's a countdown to the big news during the whole episode. Numbers are subtly (or not-so) worked into the show until Marshal gets the news.
IIRC, that episode is called 'the countdown'. I saw the numbers, many of them really aren't hidden at all and I remember being curious as to what they were counting down to. I guess I've just ignored that episode for so long I didn't remember.

And for some extra trivia, all the scripts they rehearsed with had a different ending (Lily being pregnant maybe?). Right before shot it, they gave Lily the new script and told Marshall they changed it and he just needed to react to what she said.
Ugh, that episode gets to me every time, it's even hard to type it out.

What's odd is that for someone that was only on the show a handful of times (12 times in 200+ episodes), how hard it hits the viewers. I suppose it's how likeable he was and how well him and Marshall got along. We certainly wouldn't have felt the same way if it had been Robin's dad or Ted's dad or Barney's Bob Barker.
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Old 12-09-2019, 03:55 PM
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It's been ages since I've seen it, but an episode of, "The Wonder Years," had Kevin getting close to a teacher that was helping him with math, then the teacher dies, unexpectedly. More of a gut-punch than depressing, but Fred Savage really sold it.
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Old 12-09-2019, 04:04 PM
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IIRC, that episode is called 'the countdown'. I saw the numbers, many of them really aren't hidden at all and I remember being curious as to what they were counting down to. I guess I've just ignored that episode for so long I didn't remember.

And for some extra trivia, all the scripts they rehearsed with had a different ending (Lily being pregnant maybe?). Right before shot it, they gave Lily the new script and told Marshall they changed it and he just needed to react to what she said.
Ugh, that episode gets to me every time, it's even hard to type it out.

What's odd is that for someone that was only on the show a handful of times (12 times in 200+ episodes), how hard it hits the viewers. I suppose it's how likeable he was and how well him and Marshall got along. We certainly wouldn't have felt the same way if it had been Robin's dad or Ted's dad or Barney's Bob Barker.
I did like the joke that Marshall was the runt of the family.
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Old 12-09-2019, 04:33 PM
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For me, it's the episode where they try to keep a soldier from dying on Christmas, only to have him snuff it about 5 minutes before mid-night. Hawkeye moves the clock forward.
Shit. I was ready to pile on with "Jurassic Bark," but the memory of this episode actually has me tearing up, so I'm with you.
  #43  
Old 12-09-2019, 04:45 PM
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I'm thinking the Good Times episode where the family found out James had been killed.
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Old 12-09-2019, 05:32 PM
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Another vote for "Jurassic Bark".
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Old 12-09-2019, 05:43 PM
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It's been ages since I've seen it, but an episode of, "The Wonder Years," had Kevin getting close to a teacher that was helping him with math, then the teacher dies, unexpectedly. More of a gut-punch than depressing, but Fred Savage really sold it.
The Wonder Years started off pretty grim, which is why I don't think of it was an ordinary sitcom. In the pilot episode, we learn Winnie's brother has just been killed in Vietnam.
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Old 12-09-2019, 05:54 PM
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The Fresh Prince of Bel Air had the classic episode where Will's father reappears.
This is what I came to post. This stays in my head, a lot. Cried my eyes out when it was on TV, and every time since then.
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Old 12-09-2019, 06:05 PM
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I did like the joke that Marshall was the runt of the family.
I liked it when they did a similar thing on Brooklyn 99 with Terry not liking his brother-in-law, Zeke because he made him feel small and called him "Tiny Terry". Didn't seem believable until you met Zeke, who's big enough to toss Terry Crews around like a rag doll.
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Old 12-09-2019, 06:09 PM
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The Taxi episode where Alex’s little dog Buddy dies. Makes me tear up every time I remember it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzhT9p8O4sQ
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Old 12-09-2019, 06:26 PM
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There was a Family Ties episode called " A My Name Is Alex " which was "very special" and actually pretty bizarre as I recall. A friend of Alex Keaton (previously never seen or even mentioned, as far as I know) has died and Alex, in his mourning and introspection and existential angst, monologues as he moves from set to set on a darkened minimalist stage, making the whole thing look like a watered-down and somewhat mopey version of a Beckett play.

I only saw it the night it first aired back in 1987 and I didn't know what the fuck was going on.
Another one was Tom Hanks as Alex's alcoholic uncle.
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Old 12-09-2019, 06:50 PM
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I take it you folks are not acquainted with Opie the Birdman?

In this episode of the Andy Griffith Show, young Opie accidentally kills a mother bird with his slingshot. Once Opie admits to his Pa 'twas him, Andy makes sure he is aware that there is a nest of baby birds without a mother to raise them.

Opie, feeling appropriately responsible, then cares for the birds himself.

Once they are of age to fly the coop, Opie has great difficulty saying goodbye and releasing them into the wild.

Opie: "That cage sure looks empty, Pa".

Andy: "Yes, son, it sure does. But don't the trees seem nice and full?"
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