The Story Behind The Saddest “Fresh Prince” Scene Is Not What You Think

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was one of our favorite shows while growing up in the 90s.

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For six seasons, Will Smith and the rest of the hilarious cast made us laugh week after week with their shenanigans, but they also got our lives flipped-turned upside down whenever they addressed serious topics.

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The show wasn’t afraid to tackle issues like drugs, sex, drunk driving, sexism, racism, and violence to teach us an important lesson or two about life.

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Some of the episodes even made us cry. Let’s refresh our memories:

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There was the time Uncle Phil told Will about the adversities he faced while growing up

That moment when Will got shot during an ATM robbery

And when he drove drunk then woke up in a cemetery

The Story Behind The Saddest

Oh, and the moment when Ashley and Hilary had a heart-to-heart

That time when Carlton had a near death experience after mistaking speed for vitamins

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And of course the finale, when Will turns of the lights in the Banks’ mansion for the last time

But nothing broke our hearts more than Will’s dad leaving him for the second time.

The Story Behind The Saddest
Reddit

“Papa’s Got A Brand New Excuse,” the 24th episode of the fourth season, is arguably the saddest moment of the entire series.

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During the episode, Will reunites with his father, Lou, who was absent from his life for 14 years. The pair attempt to rebuild their relationship and even plan activities together, but when the time came for them to embark on their trip,  Lou bailed.

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An emotional Will lets his frustration out in a conversation with Uncle Phil, but things got really sad when he finally breaks down in tears.

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Recently, a rumor started to circulate that this scene wasn’t scripted, and that Will Smith really lost it because his actual father was an absentee. Well, I hate to break it to you, but that’s just not true.

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So what’s the real story behind the tear-jerking scene, you ask?

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Here’s the Tumblr version of events that we’ve come to believe as the truth:

“That awful moment when you learn that this wasn’t scripted. That Will Smith’s character was actually supposed to brush off the whole thing, but Will’s father actually had left him when he was younger and he just fell apart on the set and the hug at the end was from one actor to another, not one character to another.”

Now, let’s get to the bottom of this rumor.

The Story Behind The Saddest
People.com

Firstly, Will Smith’s father was very much present during his childhood. Although he was a “tough” man, Will told Essence Magazine that he was not “tryannical.”

“He kept me in line. He’d get this look that said, ‘One more step, Will, and it’ll get ugly.’ He was an independent businessman-he set up refrigeration in supermarkets-and he always provided for us. He’s a steady and positive figure in my life.”

In another interview with Reader’s Digest, he explained that his father actually supported his dreams of pursuing a career in music.

“We agreed that I would take a year making music, and if it did not work out, I would go to college. That year we won the first Grammy given to a rap artist.”

The Story Behind The Saddest
Hip Hop Push

So the only thing true about this rumor is the emotion conveyed by Will in the scene. The actor was so convincing in his delivery that the entire audience started crying.

“Before this scene, Will Smith disappeared. He showed up, did this scene in one take, then disappeared again,” wrote Reddit user RajanKian, who was at the taping of the show. Adding, “You might notice his hat coming off. Usually, the director would retake the scene, but really, nothing could replace this moment. People were crying for a long time when it was over, doing their best not to make noise before the director said “cut.”

So there you have it everyone! Will and his dad, Willard Carroll Smith, Sr., remained on good terms until he passed away in November 2016.

Did you fall for the rumors? Let us know in the comments!

Emma C
Freelance Writer