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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- Lilium, from Elfen Lied.
- Memories: Kotowari from the Rurouni Kenshin OVA Trust And Betrayal.
- In Dragon Ball Z episode 25, Krillin and Gohan fight Nappa to a sad fighting theme. Averted in the Western dub, where it is replaced with a more action-y theme.
- Code Geass has this during the Black Knight's betrayal of Lelouch.
- In Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, a sad theme plays in Tokyo Revelations when Syaoran fights Syaoran.
- Broken Sword of Justice, a dark reprisal of Kurogane's theme, plays right as his mother is murdered and the village is attacked by monsters.
- 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 BSOD 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 gives us "Anakin's Betrayal", which plays during the march on the Jedi Temple, courtesy of Order 66.
- 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.
- Several battles in We Were Soldiers are set to a slow Scottish dirge, Sgt. Mackenzie.
- 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: Final Fantasy VII, "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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 uses this trope judiciously 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 posessed. But it's not fury that's motivating him. It's simple, blind desperation.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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 death. For bonus points, said chapter is also a Battle in the Rain.
- 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 one of the best tunes in the game: a dark, moody, atmospheric piano rearrangement of the game's main theme. It's hard to hear it over the sound of exploding Bullet Bills and Mario's shouts, plus even a decent player can probably finish the fight in a little over a minute, but if you go there and pause the game just to listen, prepare to be moved.
- Seiken Densetsu 3
- Innocent Water: 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.
- Stage 3 of Home World makes beautiful use of Samuel Barber's "Adagio For Strings".
- 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.
- A number of tracks from Risk of Rain, most notably Coalescence, which plays in the last level while the player fends of hordes of enemies.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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".