Heartwarming / Warhammer 40,000


Yes, it's true. Even in a game that's so dark and edgy it makes The Exorcist look like a Disney movie, there are still heartwarming moments.

Dan Abnett, in his introduction to the Imperial Guard Omnibus (Vol 1), fittingly sums it up best with this quote:
In the grim darkness of the far future there is more than war. There are real people there too.

  • The opening of most books in 40k begins with a description of the Emperor in his current state, while this is certainly top nightmare fuel it also puts in evidence this: The Emperor has endured ten physical millenia (and the atemporality of the warp) in his nightmarish state to protect Mankind, yes, the Emperor was callous, cruel, distant and manipulative, but he knew what he was getting into when he ordered to be installed in the Golden Throne and didn't back off, for the sake of the entire species, to buy mankind more time,and perhaps a distant hope of a better future, he has been enduring Hell, with no hope of his own, no backup plans, no deities to pray to, no nothing, just a love for His people so great and deep it has pushed back the Apocalypse tens of centuries and hold a million worlds together.
  • The general concept of Flight of the Eisenstein, in which Captain Garro remains loyal to the Emperor even as the rest of the Death Guard falls to Chaos and risks almost certain death to Bring News Back and give the loyalists time to rally in the face of Horus' betrayal.
  • In James Swallow's Red Fury: the moment in the fight when Dante saves Seth from falling into the pit, shouting "Brother!" to get his attention — not the "cousin" they had been using — inspiring a (brief!) discussion of whether they should call each other brother, after all the hostilities of the novel. And afterward, when Seth, who had most opposed Dante's request, is the one who declares that they will do it, and declares that these events had been meant to tell that they were not cousins but brothers.
  • The end of Ben Counter's Horus Heresy novel Galaxy In Flames. They survived the virus-bombing, they had inflicted serious damage in ground fighting, and now they are being bombed to death. Tarvitz had desperately gotten to the betrayed Emperor's Children so that he could die with his brothers, in defiance of the breaking of brotherhood that Horus had imposed on them, but at the end, he looks about the survivors — Emperor's Children, Luna Wolves, World-Eaters — and realizes that he knows all their names, and that men who had been only faces to him had become his brothers. One asked them if they had harmed Horus, and Tarvitz assured him they had.
  • Captain Uriel Ventris from the Ultramarines managing to save himself and the rest of a warband of space marines expelled from their respective chapters from commiting suicide due the desperative influence of Chaos by reminding them that even in their disgraced state they were still Space Marines, the greatest heroes of the galaxy, warriors of the Emperor, and then accounting all the victories of the Imperium, showing them that they were still men of honour and proud.
    • In Dead Sky, Black Sun, when Uriel notices the Unfleshed's crude statue of the Emperor, proof that they never lost their faith in Him.
  • In Malleus, a space marine during the attack at the Triumph attempts to save a small child. He cradles it until he gets it out of the line of fire. Sadly, its subverted in that the child was a Alpha Plus psyker, and then it forces Eisenhorn to kill the marine. Its the idea that a marine would risk his own life to save one person out of millions is so unlike the tone of the story, which is thoroughly grimdark.
  • The Space Marine Battles Novel Rynn's World has an especially heartwrenching scene that doubles as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. Captain Cortez saves a mother and her children (one of whom is just a baby) from being murdered by Orks. Chapter Master Pedro Kantor is less than pleased with this development, as there are (to his knowledge) only a dozen or so Crimson Fists left after the destruction of their monestery, and they cannot afford to bring refugees along. But Kantor says that the family can tag along as long as they can keep pace with the Space Marines, which anyone will tell you is no small feat. After a while, the mother becomes tired and unable to keep up. Kantor moves to the back of the column, to (as the reader is led to believe) "grant her the final mercy." As he kneels next to the mother with his wrist-mounted storm bolter pointed disturbingly close to her head, we believe he's going to kill her. Then, after the mother pants that she tried, but her children were just so heavy, Kantor (who, I feel the need to stress, did not want her there in the first place) replies with the following:
    Kantor: You did well to bring them this far....It is time that someone carried you now.
    • And he picks her up in his arms and carries her the rest of the journey to rejoin their remaining battle brothers. If that doesn't encapsulate what it truly means to be a Space Marine in Warhammer 40k, I don't know what does.
      • It further exemplifies why the Space Marines are held up as legends and saviors as well. The stories are born of deeds such as this. By the people they save. Which means there is still hope if there are survivors in this horrible galaxy.
  • In the Salamanders Novel, the titular chapter find a lost world and under the surface resides a colony of humans. Despite the difficulties faced by the company, they take the time and munitions to defend this colony, and discover a Salamander who has remained there since the heresy. Their reactions to finding this ancient, and knowing they can't save them harkens back to the original ideas of Space Marines, not as Knight Templars they are now, but as defenders of humanity.
    • Another moment in the book is when the colony is attacked by the local chitin-beasts en masse, and losing. The Salamander squad at the scene immediately throws themselves into the defense of the colony, saving as many colonists as they can. One, Ba'ken, who comes from a warrior tribe making him extra warlike even compared to the other Salamanders and has been described as "hulking" by other Space Marines, grapples with a predator that was attacking Val'in, the young boy who lead the Salamanders to the colony in the first place. When another chitin shows up, Ba'ken resigns himself to his fate, but Val'in puts himself before it and him, swinging at it with a shovel to try to fight it off even with Ba'ken screaming at him to run to safety, allowing both of them to be saved by another Salamander coming to their aid. Later, after the chitin beasts are driven off, Val'in goes up to Ba'ken and touches his greave, calling him a "Fire Angel", the local folklore name for Salamanders. Ba'ken is so overwhelmed with emotion from this simple act and the boy's bravery in the fight that he can't even answer. And best of all, Val'in returns two books later as an aspiring Salamander, under the eye of Ba'ken, who is being promoted to Master of Recruits.
  • Another Salamanders moment is the entire short story Vulkan's Shield. The story starts with Captain Ko'tan Kadai and his elite guard on a Thunderhawk, heading towards a final objective in a city besieged by heretics. All throughout the story Kadai keeps repeating that the mission is not over, that there is something in the city the Salamanders need to bring with them before they can leave. Finally they arrive at a Scholam, the 40k version of a school, annihilate a small force of heretics and then blow open the roof, revealing a handful of kids and their teacher. The Salamanders came to rescue them, risking the lives of their Captain, his guards, and a venerable Thunderhawk gunship, just for a few kids. Defenders of humanity indeed.
  • Salamander Marines do not live in sequestered Monasteries as other Space Marine chapters, but with their former families and clans, and are expected to perform community service during what little free time they have. This is decreed so that they will never forget what they're fighting for; the citizens of the Imperium.
  • Kayvaan Shrike, a Raven Guard captain is a great example. Having survived 2 years behind Ork lines and winning the battle back gained control of his own company. And then, a WAAAAGGH!! is waged by the Ork Skullrak, and Shrike goes to the system being attacked. But does he attack the Ork mob head-on? Does he help enforce the world under siege? No, he goes to the worlds left behind by the imperial guard and saves the remaining humans there. He's considered a savior and hero, a legend among the citizens. And let me remind you, he's a Space Marine, a heartless killing machine.
    • This deserves clarification, the Nightbringer, the GRIM FUCKING REAPER couldn't put the fear into the Orks. Kayvaan could, and thats why the Imperium sees him as a saviour.
      • The Orks had not yet been created when the Nightbringer went around and ensured that younger races had a fear of death.
  • In the Space Marines Battles novel The Siege of Castellax the slave Yuxiang, who has started a rebellion against the Iron Warriors and watched it fail as one Iron Warrior kills all his friends and comrades and starts hunting him, is caught in an avalance and emerges unharmed. And then sees that the Iron Warrior, Skintaker Algol the most brutal Iron Warrior overlord on the planet, has been trapped and cannot get to him. He then executes Algol, telling him that sometimes even a man can kill a god, and avenges his comrades by making Algol die like a slave and not a warrior. Doubles as a Moment of Awesome and Heartwarming Moments.
  • YMMV here, but, there's the story of Tuska the Daemon-Killa. Tuska was a Warboss who one day ended up fighting against a Warp-Beast. He ended up defeating it in single combat. He decided he really liked killing Daemons, so he launched a WAAAGH! into the Eye of Terror. He ended up taking over several Daemon Worlds, until he landed on a planet ruled by a Daemon Prince called the Blood Prince. Long story short, Tuska was mortally wounded, but he ended up killing the Daemon Prince with a Groin Attack with a Power Klaw before dying. So far, a Crowning Moment of Awesome. Then Khorne is so pleased with this that he ends up bringing Tuska and his WAAAGH! back from the dead to do it all over again. The Ork's resolve and bloodlust impresses Khorne so much that he transported Tuska and his WAAAGH! to his personal realm, to fight his Bloodletter generals in an eternal conflict. While it might sound like an endless hell, Orks love fighting. Tuska's still fighting at the foot of the Brass Citadel with the personal approval of Khorne, where he fights his most favored enemy for eternity in what amounts to the closest thing an Ork can get to Valhalla.
    Great Boss Tuska: Told yer I knew where da best fightin' woz.
  • The Ghost Halls is about the Grey Knights saving the soulstones of a dead Craftworld from a Daemon Prince and waiting until Eldar show up to collect their dead. At first the Eldar are quick to be their usual arrogant selves, but once they learn what happened, they're not only shocked by, but thankful that the Grey Knights would save their fallen from Slaanesh. The Farseer apologizes for their rudeness and vows the Eldar will always remember the Grey Knights who died saving their fallen kin.
  • A bit of a meta one, but many fans and writers like to write stories with characters that are decent people, honorable in a sense, they do want to see the state of living improve.
  • The entire plot of the novella Blood and Fire. It just goes to show that despite the Black Templars being notorious for their ferocity and Knight Templar habits, they're still sons of Rogal Dorn, and they look out for their own:
    • The plot is set after the infamous Hive Helsreach battle and features Chaplain Grimaldus coming to the aid of the Celestial Lions Chapter. Bit of backstory here; the Celestial Lions are a Chapter that once took part in a battle against Chaos that the Inquisition ended early by Exterminatus. The Lions were horrified as this killed millions of innocents and they felt they could have saved them, so they call out the Inquisition for it. Even when the High Lords ignore them they don't stop, demanding the Inquisition be held accountable for a massacre. Things gradually turn against them as accidents in battle and disappearances of Chapter command whittle them down, until Armageddon where faulty intel and unusually accurate sniper attacks leave less than 100 of them alive. The last Apothecary in the Chapter is killed just as they reach safety, by someone shooting him in the temple with a drill-las. The Chapter is convinced they are doomed and resolve to die with their fallen brothers. Until Grimaldus says "screw that!" and leads the entire army of Hive Helsreach to support the Lions in avenging their honour against Ork Warboss Thogfang, which the Lions Pride-Leader Dubaku manages to kill. After this he orders the Lions to return to their home and start rebuilding, which is made easier when High Marshall Helbrecht arrives and gives Dubaku, the new Chapter Master, an ancient suit of Power Armour from the Heresy, a Strike Cruiser and an elite detachment of Black Templars to help rebuild this Chapter that put honour and what is right over their own existence. For once in 40k a story where honour and justice prevailed and the guys who did the right thing were rewarded for it, but sweet Emperor did they have to earn it. Additionally, there's the implication that due to the Templar's support the Celestial Lions will be able to rebuild properly, as the Inquisition learned the last time what happens when they mess with a First/Second Founding chapter with the First Battle for Armageddon. Especially when they're a chapter that is extremely close to each other, like the Black Templars and the Space Wolves.
  • Pretty much everything the Lamenters Chapter does is one, but this story makes the Salamaders look self-centred in comparison. During the Corinth Crusade, the Lamenters volunteer to liberate Slaughterhouse III, a mining world enslaved by the Orks, both to deprive the Orks of the vast resources the world would give them as well as to save the 3 million plus human slaves still left alive. Thanks to a daring surprise attack, they overwhelm the orks across the entire planet in hours and plant the seismic charges that would obliterate the planet's resources and kill everything left alive on its surface. But where most other chapters would detonate the charges, killing the world's entire human population, the Lamenters work tirelessly to evacuate everyone, even as they are attacked by wave after wave of orks. Eventually, after the Lamenters suffer more than sixty percent casualties, the people of Slaughterhouse III thank the Lamenters for all they have done and ask for a merciful death, as they don't want the Lamenters to die to the man for them. Reluctantly, the Lamenters reluctantly activate the seismic charges, destroying the planet, and escape with the few prisoners they had managed to free. The chapter's battle-cry says it all: "For those we cherish, we die in Glory."
  • How about the fact that even after all the terror and the horror the universe contains the factions keep fighting. It shows that no matter how bad things can get people still have the hope to not only carry on living but fighting as well. Also counts as a Momentof Awesome.
  • Another moment can be found at the end of the First War of Armageddon. After the Administratum decided that killing off an entire world would be preferable to risking that any of the survivors might fall to Chaos - which was unlikely, considering that they'd just won a major war against Chaos - Logan Grimnar, the Chapter Master of the Space Wolves, stood up and called them out on their shit. To put this in perspective, anyone else even questioning the Imperium's methods is almost always killed messily. Logan stood up for what was right, told them that they were wrong and that he'd never forgive them. The fact that he managed to get away with it is a CMOA itself, but the fact that someone in the galaxy isn't a horrible bloodthirsty monster is downright heartwarming, considering the setting.
    • Even better- the Space Wolves are a bunch of bloodthirsty Super Soldiers from a Death World, who'll destroy whole cities if they have to, and Logan would be a paragon of everything they stand for- and he's standing up for innocent human lives. The Space Marines were made to unite and defend humanity- the Space Wolves may be among the few who remember that.
      • This may partially be because of Bjorn the Fell-Handed, who is probably the oldest Space Marine Dreadnaught still in service, and indeed, the oldest known warrior still in service to the Empire. He is so old, he even fought alongside Leman Russ and the Emperor themselves during the Horus heresy, and also became the Space Wolves' first chapter master after Leman Russ dissapeared. It is highly likely that he has passed on knowledge from back then.
    • One thing that should be noted is that a lot of the Heart Warming moments in 40k come from the Black Library books (which are all of arguable canon). The Space Wolves one is straight fluff, from an article about their Chapter Master.
  • The Soul Drinkers series. Emperor's bowels, the Soul Drinkers series. Despite the main characters' name and their mutations. One Marine realises he regrets the death of a Guardsman now that he's forced by circumstances into killing them himself rather than simply sending them to their deaths. An aging Imperial Guard general who's spent most of the time sitting in a Baneblade realises the planet is lost and decides to die with his men, and takes up a rifle and a spot on the line rather than escape or stay within the safer confines of the tank. Sarpedon refuses to attack major Imperial military centres even though everyone is busy at the Eye of Terror, because he knows that for all its ruthless crushing tyranny it's still the only thing protecting people from Chaos. And the author states that even if Sarpedon's ideals lead to his Chapter's annihilation (it's come pretty close at least four times in five books), at least they will die free.
    • The Soul Drinkers left the Imperium, subjected themselves to being attacked by almost everyone, and waged a personal war ON said imperium, because they believe that they are going the wrong way about things. Which, almost certainly, they are. This is a group of rapidly dwindling, mutation ravaged survivors, fighting for what they believe in.
  • Arguably, Lord Castellan Usarker E. Creed is one. He values a soldier's life far more than an ordinary commander, even doing so much as suspending summary executions within his regiment. The Codex even says he is intensely disliked by the Commissars.
  • Salamanders Chapter + Planet Armageddon = Instant CMOH. Whether it's stalwartly defending the retreating refugees or moving in to protect hives that have been left to be wiped out by the Orks. Best of all, it's rumoured that Chapter Master Tu'shan beat up a Captain in the Marines Malevolent for bombarding a refugee camp because Orks had breached the perimeter. Were it not for the Orks being involved, one could forget that it was Warhammer 40000 at all. The rumour became fact in the short story Emperor's Deliverance, which elaborates that Tu'Shan confronted Captain Vinyar of the Marines Malevolent over their devastation of the refugee camp, and beat the holy living daylights out of Vinyar. For all the Light Is Not Good Knight Templar imagery the Space Marines are described as, sometimes they can't help but be the heroes they claim to be.
  • A... Naturally twisted and arguable one comes from the depths of Chaos itself, the faction of Chaotic Evil, the chief enemy of all sentient life. Those who know of Nurgle, the god of disease and decay, know that despite the intense pain he causes, he and his followers are known to be on a slightly disturbing level of Affably Evil. One instance stands out though. During the Fall of the Eldar, as gods were being snapped up left and right by Slaanesh, Nurgle happened to take notice of Isha, the goddess of life. With speed uncharacteristic of the God of Decay, he launched a war to save her in time. No other Chaos god has shown the capacity to actually rescue someone. Of course, the twisted part of having rescued and sequestered her in his gardens is that his way of showing affection is decidedly... unpleasant. It goes back into fuzz, however, in that he lets her develop and give out cures for his diseases. That's right, he lets her thwart him. With no real motive beyond trying to be nice. Like I said, twisted
    • Nurgle is outright stated to be a very fatherly and loving fellow. The only reason he's even considered evil is because he thinks illness and disease are literally what everyone wants, and that your suffering at said diseases are thank yous. If he knew that wasn't the case, he'd probably be quite the nice guy.
  • Allow me to explain the Heartwarming Moments involving Space Marines for the uninitiated. Space Marines are 9 foot tall walking tanks who can spit acid, breath in almost any toxin known and punch holes through a man's chest. They are taken when they are early teens (or earlier!) from, usually, the worst civilizations in the galaxy, places where most men die before they hit puberty. They are brainwashed into remorseless killing machines, monsters taught that the lives of a million ordinary men aren't worth theirs, that they must survive and kill any and all aliens, mutants and heretics (even though by the standards the Imperium holds they basically are all 3 of these)... and yet 99% of them will still stand up, flip off any and all Imperial organisations that threaten the Imperial Guard.
  • The ending to the Ahriman trilogy is a truly heartwarming moment, after enacting the Rubric of Ahriman for the second time in an effort to save his Legion it is revealed that Ahriman has failed. The Rubric does not restore the lost Thousand Sons to their flesh-selves, and Ahriman is forced to flee Sortiarus. But the epilogue shows all of Ahriman's officers gathering, stunned, at a truly unexpected development. Ahriman himself arrives shortly after and is brought before a Rubric Marine, who has been saved. Helio Isidorus, the Rubric Marine that has been with Ahriman since the beginning of the series, was saved. It may have only been one man among thousands, but everything that Ahriman did across the series was not in vain. And there is more, for the new Rubric to work Ahriman sincerely believed he had to sacrifice his own life to bring his brothers back, he went on anyway.
    • It gets better for him during The Wrath of Magnus. After millenia of hatred towards him for his failures, Magnus finally forgives Ahriman, making sure that they can get their revenge against Fenris together.
  • In the Dark Angels novel Angels of Darkness, which revolves around Interrogator-Chaplain Boreas' vidication of a Fallen Angel Merir Astelan, the chaplain is repeatedly mocked by the latter about how the Dark Angels have forgotten their duty to guard mankind against the Imperiums enemies (Chaos, Xenos etc). Astelan goes so far as to accuse his interrogator of being consumed by their search for redemption at any and all costs (which is basically what the DA have been doing post-heresy).
    • In the finale of the novel, Boreas and his team find themselves tricked and outsmarted by their traitorious kin, having released a fail-safe life-eater virus that could wipe out the entire planet's population if released from their Chapter keep. Boreas, who is furious at the situation, vows to punish the the Fallen for this trickery but just before he marches to the exit, seems to recall Astelans words about his duty to mankind. In a bid of ultimate selflessness, the chaplain decides to remain in the keep to contain the virus, sacrificing himself and his team to save untold billions on Piscina V. Boreas' resolve is further tested when he executes his own Apothecary who placed the needs of the Chapter over the planet's population, and attempted to escape the keep.
    • What is most significant is that Boreas as an interrogator chaplain, whose expected to be the most fanatical in the pursuit and prosecution of the fallen, boldly reminds himself and his brothers that they are space marines, guardians of mankind. Readers of Angels of Darkness will know that is a dramatic change from Boreas' usual character, and goes to show that even the Dark Angels are not beyond reason and sound judgement.
  • Roboute Guilliman has one during the Gathering Storm series, after debriefing for days about the state of the Imperium he finally gets a moment of privacy, he then expresses his utter anger and sorrow for what the realm of His father has become despite all his efforts and sacrifices, Guilliman wishes it all has collapsed during the Horus Heresy, but then he recants his words, because he has seen that, despite the utter ruin befalling mankind, the harsh penuries and ever growing external and internal treats, mankind have kept fighting valiantly to preserve the Imperium, he makes his will to give them hope and turn the tide of the losing war.