I don't know if The Waltons ever made me cry. It might have. Grandma's stroke (and smiles a long time later when she was recovered enough to return to the mountain family. All the more touching because Ellen Corby who played the role had a stroke in real time life.
Little House on the Prairie was another to rip open the tearducts. Mary going blind, her baby dying in the home for the blind fire (along strangely with the only regularly cast actress/character of color...Hester-Sue).
These days, This Is Us is meant to get tears, and to force folks to think. It becomes irritating to me with all the moving back and forth in time, between present and one of the past times.
Few things have tugged at my frayed heart-strings as much as when those wicked people in Born Free (the movie), forced Elsa out into the wild after having kept her all those years and taking away her natural instincts. What chance would she have for survival?
I don't watch too many medical shows because they constantly get viewers attached to characters and then have them die.
(although I somehow managed to see all episodes of Marcus Welby, MD).
Good television is reliant on tapping into emotion both up and down.