A soundtrack can be very useful for setting the scene. The style of music tells you what the mood's going to be, and awesome moments need booming soundtracks with lots of instruments making up the sound to be even more awesome.

But with depressing moments, it's the other way around: you only need a slow and soft melody with very few instruments to know that what's happening or has just happened is supposed to be a TearJerker - if not for the audience, then for the characters at least.

{{Subtrope}}s include NostalgicMusicbox, LonelyPianoPiece, PlayingTheHeartStrings and OneWomanWail.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' has lots of these, including the [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin appropriately titled]] 'Sadness and Sorrow' from the original series, and 'Despair', 'Tragic' and 'Loneliness' from Naruto Shippuden.
* ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'' has the theme of Sayaka, [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcgEHrwdSO4 ''Decretum'']], which plays during the scenes where [[spoiler:her despair overtakes her.]]
** ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagicaTheMovieRebellion'' has the theme "[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsQ5Eoc4lMM This Is My Despair]]" which plays when [[spoiler:Homura transforms into a Witch]].
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BG1Xbd1-DOo This]] unnamed song from ''Manga/YuYuHakusho''.
* ''Anime/QueensBlade'' has one at the end of Episode 7 of the 2nd season, where Tomoe kills Shizuka.
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' has [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5uS0Um9YzA Will of the Heart]] and [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fRaWZji_Co Never Meant to Belong]].
* ''VisualNovel/{{Clannad}}'' tends to use either version of Shionari for this purpose as well as drama.

[[folder:Film - Animated]]
* "Sally's Song" from ''WesternAnimation/TheNightmareBeforeChristmas'' is noticeably softer and simpler than the rest of the movie's soundtrack. In the song, Sally talks about how she's afraid Jack will never notice how she feels about him.
* ''Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'': The scene where the dwarfs mourn Snow White is underscored with a quiet theme played on an organ.

[[folder:Film - Live Action]]
* Used in ''Film/ReturnOfTheJedi'', when [[strike:[[ItWasHisSled Darth Vader]]]] [[ItWasHisSled Anakin Skywalker dies in front of his son Luke]].
* The movie of ''Film/HarryPotter and the Sorcerer's Stone'' uses this when [[spoiler:[[BigBad Voldemort]] makes one last attack on Harry, trying to kill him]].
* This was used quite ham-handedly in ''Film/GirlInGoldBoots'', where Critter would break into overly sad ballads every time it was necessary to tug the audience's heartstrings. This is parodied in one of the ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'' host segments, where Mike [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IsBlP9YVms strums a guitar]] in the same style.
* Most of the songs in the Heisei ''Franchise/{{Godzilla}}'' films are upbeat or sound like they're best suited for action/suspense scenes. And, then you have the [[TearJerker far more somber]] "Requiem" which plays at the end of ''Film/GodzillaVsDestoroyah'' while [[spoiler:Godzilla dies]].
* Any of the versions of the Rohan theme in the film of ''[[Film/TheLordOfTheRings The Two Towers]]'' that are stated on solo hardanger fiddle.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* In a show that wasn't afraid to break out the electric guitar for fight scenes, it's worth noting that [[Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer Buffy]] and Angel's love theme pretty much ''always'' sounds like this. [[spoiler:Especially when Buffy has to send Angel to hell in order to save Earth.]]
* ''Series/TheIncredibleHulk'''s "The Lonely Man" closing theme - piano solo.

* The third act of ''Theatre/TristanUndIsolde'' has Tristan waking to the sound of a shepherd's pipe playing a long, unaccompanied and very mournful old melody.
* Some versions of ''Theatre/LesMiserables'' - most notably the 10th Anniversary Concert - have "The Sewers", a simple instrumental version of "Bring Him Home" that plays as the dust settles from the final battle [[spoiler:onto the bodies of the revolutionaries]], or as Valjean carries [[spoiler:Marius's unconscious body]] through the sewers. The 2012 film uses the same music as Javert [[spoiler:inspects the wreckage of the barricade and the bodies of the revolutionaries, and pins one of his medals onto Gavroche's body]].
** Then there's "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables", which starts simple and sad as Marius suffers his HeroicBSOD - and in the movie, begins completely a capella to emphasize how truly alone Marius is. Same goes for "Turning", which is about peasant women (in some versions, it's implied to be the Revolutionaries' girlfriends/lovers, as it's the same actresses playing both) singing about the outcome of the revolution and sometimes [[spoiler:''cleaning up the bodies and blood from the very men they're singing about'']].
* In ''Theatre/{{Hamilton}}'', "It's Quiet Uptown" is one of the simplest, saddest songs in the show. It consists of Angelica observing the Hamiltons' tandem HeroicBSOD [[spoiler:following the death of their son Philip]], and Eliza is so distraught that she only utters one line in the ''entire song''.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/RuneScape'' has a lot of these: "[[LonelyPianoPiece All]] for [[MonsterSobStory the]] [[TragicMonster Pest]]", "[[WretchedHive Sad Meadow]]", "[[DrivenToMadness Citharede]] [[DownerEnding Requiem]]", "[[LoveHurts Love Lost]]", etc.
* "Moon" and "Fortitude" from ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry''.
* Likewise, a simple piano solo from "Rush" in ''VideoGame/DreamfallTheLongestJourney'' when [[spoiler:Faith dies]].
* "At The Bottom Of Night" from ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'' is a rather simple piece for the amount of emotion it evokes.
* "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58gHcb5oVUU Theme of Sadness]]" from the first ''VideoGame/{{Suikoden|I}}'' game.
** Also there is an [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4ZxNJ7FOGo ensemble version]] of this song.
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqP2he4Wn0U "Requiem"]] from ''VideoGame/{{Alundra}}'' is also a good example.
** The exact same song was also used in VideoGame/LegendOfLegaia, as Cara's Theme.
* "Midna's Desperate Hour" from ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess''.
* The music for "Abandoned Ebon Keep" in ''VideoGame/SecretOfEvermore''.
* ''VideoGame/DisgaeaHourOfDarkness'' - an entire game full of peppy, upbeat songs... and then there's [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cucJtLSE7Pc "Sorrowful Angel"]].
* "Painful Memories" from ''VideoGame/HeavyRain''.
* "Heartbeats" by Broove in the Website/{{Newgrounds}} game "Colour your World" and other works by Silverstitch.
* [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWZuLtCTZPU "15 years ago"]] that plays during the nuclear explosion flashback and the [[ActionFilmQuietDramaScene quiet drama scene]] in the last mission of ''VideoGame/AceCombat5TheUnsungWar''.
** From the unnamed tracks of ''VideoGame/AceCombatJointAssault'', we have the final music against [[spoiler: Sulejmani]] when he reveals his past, a stark difference from the music right beforehand. Whether it actually evoked sadness on the other hand...
* "Homesickness" from ''VisualNovel/{{Tsukihime}}''.
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJHlQjdBYVo Fond Memories]] from ''VideoGame/SecretOfMana''. The description for the video says it all.
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0i6YFrSs6c Ezio's Family]] from ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedII'' probably counts.
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4UspBs3DGQ Enclosure]] and [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6miaTf1gF4g The Best Is Yet To come]] from ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid''.
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85XM_Nl7_oo The Eight Melodies]], [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwHZwvTdnPI Smile and Tears]] and ESPECIALLY the [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsUZT4nGNrQ Theme of Love]] from the ''VideoGame/{{MOTHER}}'' series.
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zrn5TXjl_dM Emotion]] and [[spoiler: [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzKRuwKyJmY&feature=related N's farewell]]]] from ''VideoGame/PokemonBlackAndWhite''.
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' brings us ''[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQeFvUuPNHc&feature=relmfu I Was Lost Without You]]'' (at least for the first part of the song, which is also the game's love theme, it builds up towards the climax).
** As well as ''[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGHA9oO1Ybg&feature=relmfu Leaving Earth]]'', which has a sad piano tune backed by a bass section doing a convincing imitation of the [[HellIsThatNoise Reaper Horn]]. The song is played in the beginning of the game [[spoiler: when our heroes are forced to flee Earth in the face of the Reaper invasion.]]
** And of course, ''[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5JvbD2Zc9I&feature=endscreen An End Once And For All]]'', which is a reprise of both ''Leaving Earth'' and the ''Normandy'' theme.
* The ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' series count several:
** ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CK2hx377iU Aerith's Theme]]'' from ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII''. A crushing theme for [[spoiler:[[LateArrivalSpoiler Aerith's death]]]], which even plays during the boss battle, and which doesn't stop until the following morning, after Cloud let [[spoiler:Aerith's body rest in peace in the lake]].
** ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-0G_FI61a8 To Zanarkand]]'' from ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX''. Also a LonelyPianoPiece and the game's main theme.
*** [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA5PpkNdKbM Via Purifico/Path of Repentance]] from the same game. As haunting as it is sad, it plays over [[AndNowForSomeoneCompletelyDifferent Yuna's section]] of the eponymous dungeon, just after she learns [[spoiler:her religion's leaders are all [[MagnificentBastard hypocritical bastards]]]], and reunites with her guardians.
* ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIxfzM8wGD8 A Return, Indeed (Piano Version)]]'' from ''VideoGame/LostOdyssey'' is another excellent example by Creator/NobuoUematsu.
* ''Videogame/TheWalkingDead'' has a score of simple yet sombre songs, setting up the mood for the apocalypse and human drama quite well.
* "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PGAWhKCbSk Prayer]]" from ''VideoGame/BreathOfFireIV''.
* "[[http://tindeck.com/listen/neuf Too Late]]" from ''VideoGame/IMissTheSunrise''.
* "[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlFlzhrYShU Lost, Broken Shards]]" from ''VideoGame/{{Xenogears}}''.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'':
** The song that plays when [[spoiler:Yue sacrifices herself to revive the Moon Spirit]].
** Iroh's song [[spoiler: as he burns incense for his son]] in 'Tales of Ba Sing Se'.
** Also, the music playing during the final Agni Kai between [[spoiler:Zuko and Azula]]. There is just something so '''final''' about the score, probably because it's only slowly beating drums and string instruments playing a series of chords. It's oddly fitting for this action scene in Sozin's Comet. Definitely a TearJerker, especially since it follows this exchange:
-->[[spoiler:'''Azula''': I'm sorry it has to end this way, brother.]]
-->[[spoiler:'''Zuko''': [[CainAndAbel No, you're not.]]]]
* In the SequelSeries, ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'', this is used when Amon [[spoiler:takes away Lin's bending.]]