Sad Battle Music

Scenes of the carnage of war, an intense battle sequence, often accompanied by the deaths of some characters, or even war in general, often are accompanied by melancholy music. When feelings of hopelessness begin to take over, you can expect the music and mood to reflect that.

Compare: Playing the Heart Strings, where sound effects are muted for music; One-Woman Wail, where you hear a wailing singing voice; Lonely Piano Piece, where one character or very few characters realize that they're on their own; Ethereal Choir, where a distant choir harmonizes with the scene. All of these can overlap with this trope when they accompany the right kind of scene.


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  • In Braveheart, during the Battle of Falkirk, sad music begins to play as the Scottish nobles William Wallace trusted to help them flee the field instead, and the King of England, Edward Longshanks, orders his archers to fire on the infantry fighting in the front. The music becomes more tragic and dramatic as Wallace attempts to chase after Longshanks, and finds out that yet another Scottish noble he trusted betrayed him, causing him to suffer a Heroic B.S.O.D. after witnessing this Despair Event Horizon.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 has the track "Courtyard Apocalypse", accompanied by watching the Death Eaters and the Order of the Phoenix fight to the bitter end. It even becomes more sad when you see Fenrir Greyback, a werewolf who has developed a taste for human flesh when not in his wolf form, feeding on the body of Lavender Brown.
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith:
    • "Anakin's Betrayal" plays during the march on the Jedi Temple, courtesy of Order 66.
    • Word of God says that "Battle of the Heroes," which plays during the climactic fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan, is meant to be this when compared to "Duel of the Fates" from the rest of the prequel trilogy.
  • In the movie of Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Pippin sings a song for Denethor. It's a sad melody. At the same time, Faramir and his battalion charge Osgiliath, and it doesn't go well. Also appears in The Two Towers during part of the battle of Helm's Deep, when Haldir dies.
  • The slow woodwind solo during the combat at Agincourt in Kenneth Branagh's film of Henry V. Some of the combat sequences are also done in slow motion.
  • The final battle of The Last Samurai starts off with a powerful, pounding score, but it turns into this as everything slows down and the awesome sword-fighting becomes pure butchery, in addition to several notable characters being killed. It doesn't quite recover.
  • Several battles in We Were Soldiers are set to a slow Scottish dirge, Sgt. Mackenzie.
  • The Stampede from The Lion King. You know what we're talking about.
  • Barber's Adagio for Strings famously plays over the final scene to Platoon.

    Live Action TV 
  • The uptempo version of The Lonely Man that plays in the opening of The Incredible Hulk. Though not used in a battle per se, it did display quite a bit of the destruction that David Banner caused in his Incredible Hulk state.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode The Siege of AR-558 plays a sad piece during a climactic battle between Starfleet and the Jem-Hadar. Given the episode's theme, it's very fitting.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy VII, in the battle against JENOVA Life. The music that plays is Aeris' Theme, because Aeris was killed by Sephiroth moments earlier.
  • In Crisis Core, "The Price of Freedom" could be considered this, due to the nature of the event you're fighting to it.
  • Final Fantasy IX: Beatrix's fight theme.
  • Final Fantasy X: When the player is approaching Zanarkand. the music that plays is "Someday the Dream Will End". This even carries over into the Fight Woosh and the actual battle.
    • Lulu's Theme plays when you fight Yojimbo. He was summoned by Lulu's first summoner, who was killed in the cave.
    • Final Fantasy X-2: Yuna's Ballad plays over the battle against Bahamut at the end of Chapter 2.
  • Final Fantasy XI: Wail of the Void plays during the final fight in Rhapsodies of Vana'diel, against the Cloud of Darkness - it is, after all the last major story fight in the game, so circumstances are dire regardless of the outcome.
  • Likewise, Final Fantasy XIII has the sad background theme replacing the default battle music in all encounters (except the boss) in the desolate and monster-overrun Oerba.
  • Final Fantasy XIV plays Dragonsong, one of the main themes of the Heavensward expansion, during the trial against Nidhogg, the main antagonist of the expansion.
  • Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon: It's not an exaggeration to say the final boss music would not sound out of place on The Fountain's soundtrack.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+, during Sora's battle with Roxas. The song that plays is a melancholy remix of Roxas' theme (which was sad to begin with), and it is called "The Other Promise".
    • In Kingdom Hearts coded, the same thing happens with the battle against Data-Roxas. Similarly, the battles with Data-Riku are accompanied by his rather somber leitmotif.
    • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days: Xion's fight theme, "Vector to the Heavens".
    • Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance has dark battle theme exclusive for the TRON: Legacy world, and for a good reason: "Rinzler Recompiled".
  • In mission 17 of Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, after Chopper crashes, the previous aggressive music abruptly stops and for a minute or so, there is no music at all. Then, just as new waves of enemies arrive, a Simple Score of Sadness picks up and plays until the end of the mission. It's made even worse by your remaining wingmen sobbing quietly on the radio.
  • During the final level of Ace Combat 6 a very somber song plays midst the chaos of battle.
  • Tales of Vesperia: A slow melancholic rendition of the game's theme song, Ring a Bell, plays during Yuri's battle with Estelle; during which she pleads with him to kill her to save himself and the others.
  • The third installment of the Xenosaga trilogy has the battle between KOS-MOS and T-ELOS. While their previous battles were accompanied by intense music, their final confrontation has the melancholic "Hepatica" playing.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has different musical themes from previous games played during your last fight with Revolver Ocelot. The last music score is the sombre sad theme of 4 and it reflects how Ocelot and Snake are both on their last legs with the fight mechanics even changing to show they can barely stand and even if Snake wins, he's doomed anyways.
  • The route to the C ending of Pandora's Tower replaces Zeron with Possessed Elena, the bright final battle location to a dark dungeon, and the powerful, intense final boss theme with an oppressing chanting. The fact that it is the only ending where Aeron and Elena worsen the war they were trying to run from makes it even more fitting.
  • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has sad but intense music during the battle against Rundas.
  • MOTHER 3 does this during the final battle against Claus.
  • In Mitsumete Knight, there's "Sorrowful Blade", the battle theme played when fighting the enemy Eight General Salishuan the Spy, alias Raizze Haimer (one of the winnable main heroines), when she's torn between her duty and her love for the protagonist. You actually need to hear this theme to get her ending: if not, she's Lost Forever.
  • "People Imprisoned by Destiny" in Chrono Cross plays during the climax of the game's Wham Episode, when it's revealed that things did not end well for the protagonists of Chrono Trigger, and that their actions are directly responsible for the events of the game. It culminates in the fight against the infamous Miguel, who was bound to the Dead Sea by fate.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, this type of music plays during the Final Boss battle.
  • Shadow of the Colossus has Demise of the Ritual. Words cannot describe how fitting it is, as it makes you reflect on your actions, and if they were worth the price.
  • All over the place in Mass Effect 3, but especially during the fall of Earth and the asari homeworld of Thessia.
  • Sad But True from Resident Evil 5, for the battle against mind-controlled Jill Valentine.
  • Dark Souls:
    • The first game uses this trope in a couple places to communicate something critical about the boss being fought, as the game eschews more traditional exposition. The thing communicated is often why you should be feeling guilty right now.
    • The theme of the Final Battle in Dark Souls against Gwyn, Lord of Cinder is one of the saddest tracks in the game.Sure, he's mutely charging headlong at you with unparalleled viciousness, swinging a blazing greatsword like a man possessed. But it's not fury that's motivating him. It's simple, blind desperation.
    • Dark Souls 2 also does this in the Scholar of the First Sin expansion. The somewhat-hidden boss fight against Aldia uses a song that is rather melancholy, as the player is meant to have learned that fighting against him doesn't amount to much in the endless cycle.
    • Dark Souls 3 has its final boss start out with a bombastic orchestral track... which, over the course of the battle slowly fades into a melancholic piano theme (the very same theme that played for Gwyn in the first game), underpinning exactly what it is the player is fighting against. The song is aptly named "Soul of Cinder".
  • Bloodborne:
    • The game has its own in the final battle against Gehrman, the First Hunter. There he is, trying to free you from this horrific nightmare and send you back to the world of the living, and you refused his help. The entire time, he's trying to save you. The fight is fittingly accompanied by a slow, melodic track by the name of The First Hunter.
    • The Old Hunters DLC is no slouch when it comes to sad battle music either, as the battle theme of the Orphan of Kos consists primarily of an Ethereal Choir backed up by slow, mournful violin melodies. A fitting theme for a Battle in the Rain against a newborn alien god weeping over the corpse of its mother. It stops being an example of this trope in the second phase, though.
  • This piece from Ehrgeiz's quest mode, which is rather jarring, considering the game.
  • The final level music of Immortal Defense, "A Winter's Journey".
  • "Heartful Cry" in Persona 3 FES, a powerful yet melancholy piece that plays when you fight the other members of SEES.
  • The Shin Megami Tensei series tend to use this on various occasions, and considering the nature of the series it is not hard to see why. Some examples include Kuroe's theme from Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE and Isabeau's theme from Shin Megami Tensei IV.
  • Half the music in Asura's Wrath is like this, and this game is 90% fighting. It is that sad of a story. Most of those music incorporates the melody of In your belief.
  • Kirbys Return To Dreamland:
    • The game has Landia's theme. It gives the vibe of a battle that shouldn't be happening, which is exactly what Kirby and co. discover after beating them.
    • The second Magolor battle music is pretty sad too- Justified though, as at this point it's implied that Magolor has no control over what he's doing and wishes to stop.
  • Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards has Zero Two's theme. The theme heard is rousing, but it's also very melancholic.
  • Xenoblade has "Tragic Decision". It only plays thrice in the course of the main story, two of those times being during particularly dramatic Hopeless Boss Fights towards the final stretches of the story. It does play a fourth time during a Bonus Boss fight at the end of a long sidequest chain, but that time is used for a deliberately jarring effect.
  • Fire Emblem Awakening has Don't Speak Her Name!, which plays throughout an entire chapter, including battles and even when fighting the boss, after a major NPC's (apparent) death. For bonus points, said chapter is also a Battle in the Rain. The enemy leader on the other hand was forced to fight against you in order to protect his family from his king, he even insisted he could've spared you if you surrendered. You are forced to kill the one and only Plegian leader who genuinely cared the others.
  • Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3: Bond of snow Tears.
  • OFF has a few, like the Queen's theme, The Meaning of His Tears, and to a lesser extent Japhet's theme, Minuit A Fond La Caisse.
  • In Super Mario Sunshine, the final boss fight against Bowser is accompanied by a dark, moody, atmospheric piano rearrangement of the game's main theme.
  • The first half of the final battle against Bowser in Mario Party 9 has a more melancholic tone than that of the other bosses. The second phase has a more desperate tone.
  • The final battle theme for Yoshis New Island contains some pretty sad parts.
  • Seiken Densetsu 3:
    • Innocent Water:. It plays when fighting Heath the fallen cleric and Carlie's adoptive big brother. After he was kidnapped by Deathjester, the Masked Mage brainwashed him and forced him to fight Carlie and co. After he's defeated, he reveals the Masked Mage is his father who was once famous mage whose study of dark arts in an ill-fated attempt to cure a young girl twisted his mind and body and transformed him into the Dark Mage.
    • Fable: Only plays when fighting the Darkshine Knight with Duran in your party. He reveals that he's in fact Duran's long lost father thought to have died while fighting the Dragon Emperor. In reality, he was Left for Dead and then subsequently revived by the Dragon Emperor to serve as his loyal servant.
  • Parasite Eve has Someone Calls Me... Someone Looks for Me, a very sad, somber music that plays when fighting the True Final Boss: the original Eve, possessing the body of Aya's late sister.
  • The Last Story has a sad theme heard right after one of the final bosses kills Lowell, during Chapter 40. The quiet, yet melancholic tone of the theme contrasts by all means all other battle themes in the game.
  • The music for the Final Boss fight against Levanthan in Odin Sphere is usually the mellow, but somewhat uplifting world map theme, but if the player is on the track to the bad ending, A Fate Accepted (which is normally reserved for sad/somber scenes) is used instead.
  • Rise of Nations has a soundtrack that changes depending on recent events, whether it be peaceful economic building or engaging the enemy in battle. After the end of a losing battle, music is likely to turn melancholic, as with the touching Battle At Witch Creek.
  • In Homeworld, a choral version of Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings plays during the Burning of Kharak as well as the final mission to reclaim Hiigara.
  • The final Rebuttal Showdown of Chapter 5 of Super Dangan Ronpa 2 against Sonia, who's desperately trying to prove that Nanami isn't The Mole, which would get her convicted and executed for a murder she was tricked into committing, forgoes the more beat-driven theme that typically accompanies it for a more somber, despairing theme.
  • SaGa 2 plays one of the sad songs during a boss fight (instead of one of the battle themes) which occurs immediately after an important NPC dies.
  • In Risk of Rain, A number of tracks carry this tune, but the one that stands out the most is Coalescence, which plays in the last level while the player fends off hordes of enemies and Degraded Bosses amongst the Scenery Gorn of the UES Contact Light's crash. This sets up an atmosphere of finality and triumph, but also mourning and loss.
  • Medal of Honor: Frontline has this during the levels "Rough Landing" and "Arnhem Knights", the latter of which is set during the failed Operation Market Garden.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV has several sad battle tracks. "Battle B3" was used during the battle of Yamato Reactor in the White ending, where the player is trying to bring about the end of all existence and "Battle B4" which was used when fighting Isabeau on Law or Chaos route.
  • NieR has its final boss theme, "Shadowlord". While it does pick up a faster and bombastic tempo after the opening, it also utilizes Variable Mix in a highly-effective way - as the battle goes on and the boss' health bar depletes, elements of the music fade out, so eventually the instruments are gone and there's just mournful vocals. In the Shadowlord's last phase even that is replaced by a Nostalgic Music Box carrying the melody, as by that point, he just wants to die.
  • Unsurprisingly, the Total War series has this in abundance. For example, in Medieval II: Total War, a battle the game thinks you won't win may be fought to "This is It," and the European defeat music is "Did They Have to Die Today?"
  • Max Payne 3 has "Tears" during the final battle.
  • Undertale:
    • Asgore's battle theme. It's not as sad-sounding as most examples on this list, but is a lot more serious than the silly and whimsical boss themes the player has gotten used to, with a subtle air of melancholy about it, and fits the far more solemn nature of the fight.
    • Toriel's battle theme that plays at the end of the first dungeon and is notably called "Heartache" on the OST. Rather appropriate, given that Toriel is trying to stop the player, who she grew to admire upon their meeting, from leaving the ruins and risk getting killed by Asgore. But the player needs to leave to progress the story, and they may even end up accidentally killing their friend instead of sparing Toriel several times until she gives in and lets you go.
    • Undyne's battle theme is normally bombastic, but if she is killed in a Neutral run the theme is replaced with the much more somber Lonely Piano Piece "An Ending". Even her normal battle theme is, like Asgore's, considerably more serious than most other boss themes, to go with Undyne being the first monster you meet in the game who legitimately wants you dead.
  • The Halloween Hack, when you fight one-sidedly against a monstrous form that Dr. Andonuts has taken while he does nothing but beg you to leave.
  • Dark Cloud 2 plays Sad Fate during the second half of your second battle against Emperor Griffon. Only natural, considering everything that led him to villainy in the first place.
  • Lisa: The Painful RPG has The End is Nigh, Rando's battle theme, which goes from sorrowful to brooding to terrifying.
    • Go Home Johnny also counts, as while it's climactic when you battle the Dojo Buster/Tiger Man, it becomes downright tragic when you battle Sticky, if you've spared him before.
  • The Gears of War series has a habit of using sad music in its trailers, which usually feature at least some fighting. Gary Jules's cover of "Mad World", used in the first game's trailer, has even become somewhat of an iconic song for the series.

    Web Comics 
  • In Homestuck, John and Rose's duel with Bec Noir over the corpses of their dead parents is set to At The Price Of Oblivion, which is a track about as bleak as it sounds. Not that it lasts for very long, though - the music abruptly cuts out when John is killed.
    • Gets even better if you listen to the full version of the song in the album... where it ends in the flash, the full version goes into what is possibly one of the most epic action songs in history.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The music that plays during the Agni Kai between Zuko and Azula during Sozin's Comet. Fittingly, the music is called "The Last Agni Kai".
  • Steven Universe: "Defective" plays during the fight between Pearl and Amethyst.
  • The theme to Gargoyles seems to scream this...or roar this, whatever.