At the start of the book, after Bran has "fallen" from the tower and is left crippled, Catelyn treats Jon exceedingly poorly even as he tries to say goodbye to his brother for what may well be the last time in his life. Just as he turns to leave, she calls him back, and...
The arrival at Winterfell of the raven bearing the news of Lord Eddard's death. The whole scene is a tearjerker, from Bran hugging his baby brother, to Osha trying to comfort Bran to Maester Luwin's reaction....
“My lords,” he said to the sons, in a voice gone hoarse and shrunken, “we … we shall need to find a stonecarver who knew his likeness well …”
After Arya's friend Mycah is butchered by the Hound, Arya just can't forgive herself,and keeps on reminding herself that it's all her fault that the poor butcher's boy is dead.
Sadder still, since she's the only character to mourn for him. While everyone else focuses on how Ned had to kill his daughter's pet wolf, no one, not even Ned Stark pays a thought that a innocent boy was killed which shows how common people rank in Westerosi society.
Ned does briefly reflect on Mycah. He's clearly horrified that the Hound ran him down and cut him in half. His remembering Lady more may simply be because he killed her.
"He doesn't mean Lady, does he? No. No, not Lady, Lady didn't bite anyone, she's good...Stop them, don't let them do it, please, please, it wasn't Lady, it was Nymeria, Arya did it, you can't, it wasn't Lady, don't let them hurt Lady, I'll make her be good, I promise, I promise..."
When Lady's bones are brought back to Winterfell, her brothers began to howl before the carrier had even entered the castle,and for days afterwards they roamed around her grave "like restless shadows". Also in a gesture both tearjerking and heartwarming, Lady was buried not in some dingy corner of the great castle but in the graveyard where the Kings of Winter laid their most faithful servants to rest.
Ned's scenes near the end. This troper was blubbering like a child when he was thinking about Jon Snow: "The thought of Jon filled Ned with a sense of shame, and a sorrow too deep for words. If only he could see the boy again, sit and talk with him". Sigh. At the end, Ned can never tell Jon about his mother, whoever she was. Terrible, right?
Each of Ned's nightmares about Lyanna's death. This troper is always in the verge of tears at "Promise me!", everytime he thinks of keeping his promise is very sad, and knowing what Ned may have promised... pretty much he promised to raise his nephew Jon Snow as his own son. Wild Mass Guessing for you. Even worse if you think that Ned was the only one who could reveal to Jon his royal lineage ... and he has not been able to do it. A war was started for rescue this girl..and she dies in a bed of blood!
Ned and Robert's last speech: "The girl. Daenerys. Only a child, you were right". This man has spent his life hating the Targaryens because of his fight with Rhaegar and only at the time of death can get rid of his hatred and perhaps forgive.
"I will give Lyanna your love, Ned. Take care of my children for me." He's thinking of his lost love even in death. That's a very sad thing.
There's a moment where Robb takes crippled Bran to his room, tucks him in and lets out a small cry as they hold hands in the dark.
Robb telling Bran that when he's up and about again, the two of them will take a trip up to the wall to visit Jon. Harsher in Hindsight.
Eddard Stark's death. He was the only man who cared about the good of the realm, and one of the few unmistakably good characters.
To make things worse, his two young daughters saw it happen. Sansa had pleaded for his life before the Iron Throne and was promised that he would be shown mercy. Arya had been forced to flee into slums before seeing his execution.
When Daenerys smothers Khal Drogo.
Pretty much any mention of the house with the red door. As a young girl, Daenerys and Viserys were both taken care of by a Targaryen loyalist, Willem Darry, who was possibly the closest thing Dany had to a father and one of the only places she could truly call home. Eventually Darry died of old age and his servants kicked the two out, leaving the house with the red door behind forever.
When Varys recalls Princess Rhaenys's death, he mentions that she'd been hiding under her father's bed during the Sack of King's Landing, as if she believed her father's spirit would protect her. He didn't.
The death of King Robert is no less a tear jerker. Thought to be the harbinger of a new age after the Targaryen kings were vanquished, Robert was indeed a very charismatic figure, but a terrible king nonetheless. An example of Crippling Overspecialization, Robert was a good friend and a remarkable leader during the revolutionary war; the matters of the crown however, went well above his head and he left them aside, unwittingly setting up his own downfall and the eventual set up of the War of the Five Kings in his absence. A very good man and friend for the entirely wrong task.
Not only that, but the very descriptions of what he used to be before he became king show how his power was slowly swept away by the weasels that picked up on his slack; effectively a mighty wall-of-a-man reduced to an amorphous blob of fat.
The prologue with Maester Cressen. As a long-time maester of House Baratheon, Cressen helped to raise Robert, Stannis, and Renly after their parents died. When he sees that Melisandre is giving Stannis the notion of murdering Renly, he tries to kill her to stop her from pursuing that goal. He dies trying to stop Melisandre, and Stannis later goes through with assassinating Renly. Cressen tried to stop the assassination because he loved all three of the Baratheons like sons, and was heartbroken at the prospect of them killing each other. The fact that he ultimately fails makes this prologue even more tragic in hindsight.
Bones, Catelyn thought. This is not Ned, this is not the man I loved, the father of my children. His hands were clasped together over his chest, skeletal fingers curled about the hilt of some longsword, but they were not Ned's hands, so strong and full of life. They had dressed the bones in Ned's surcoat, the fine with velvet with the direwolf badge over the heart, but nothing remained of the warm flesh that had pillowed her head so many nights, the arms that had held her. The head had been rejoined to the body with fine silver wire, but one skull looks much like another, and in those empty hollows she found no trace of her lord's dark grey eyes, eyes that could be soft as fog or hard as stone. They gave his eyes to the crows, she remembered.
For all of Stannis' talk of how he never loved either of his brothers, he has an epiphany too late, after having Renly assassinated.
Stannis: I did love him, Davos. I know that now. I swear, I will go to my grave thinking of my brother's peach.
The way Theon is goaded into betraying Robb. He is received at Pyke by his uncle Aeron in the most unceremonious way possible; he is humiliated by both Balon and Asha, all while Theon has to debate within himself on whether he'll choose robb or whether he will stand for his family.
Theon's backstory as a hostage to House Stark, and the realization that he's been a prisoner to the Starks for half his life. Not only did Theon not fit in with the Starks, but when he returns to the Iron Islans, he's treated like an outsider there as well.
"As if ten years in Winterfell could make a Stark. Lord Eddard had raised him among his own children, but Theon had never been one of them. The whole castle, from Lady Stark to the lowliest kitchen scullion, knew he was hostage to his father’s good behavior, and treated him accordingly. Even the bastard Jon Snow had been accorded more honor than he had. Lord Eddard had tried to play the father from time to time, but to Theon he had always remained the man who’d brought blood and fire to Pyke and taken him from his home. As a boy, he had lived in fear of Stark’s stern face and great dark sword."
When Mandon Moore tries to kill Tyrion and he is saved by Pod. Tyrion immediately thinks that it must have been Jaime, because, in his whole life, only Jaime has ever spared him from anything. Really hits hard how downtrodden the poor man is when the only person in his immediate family he associates with unconditional kindness is an amoral Blood Knight.
Tyrion doing an excellent job of Hand of the King: making allies out of two powerful enemy Houses, saving the capital from Stannis and showing uncommon valor in combat, dreaming that his family will finally recognise his talents — only to find that his father has always viewed Tyrion as a deformed, lecherous, ungrateful, scheming monster responsible for the death of his own mother in childbirth.
One of Davos's last thoughts before most of Stannis's men burn to death on the BlackwaterMy sons...And he loses all of them that were in the fighting!
The desperate measures Theon resorts to when trying to hold Winterfell against Rodrik Cassel and his army. When he uses Beth Cassel as leverage against them, they treat him as a lowly traitor, despite how this is essentially the same thing the Starks had used him for against his father.
“This is craven," Ser Rodrick said. "To use a child so… this is despicable."
“Oh, I know,” said Theon. “It’s a dish I tasted myself, or have you forgotten? I was ten when I was taken from my father’s house, to make certain he would raise no more rebellions.”
“It is not the same!”
Theon’s face was impassive. “The noose I wore was not made of hempen rope, that’s true enough, but I felt it all the same. And it chafed, Ser Rodrick. It chafed me raw.” He had never quite realized that until now, but as the words came spilling out he saw the truth of them.
The Red Wedding. George RR Martin just loves to kill off the nice characters, doesn't he?
Catelyn's final thoughts and watching Robb die through her eyes had this troper sobbing with a hand clapped over her mouth.
"No, don't, don't cut my hair, Ned loves my hair... Then the steel was at her throat, and its bite was red and cold."
Even George RR Matin apparently hated writing that scene, calling it the hardest thing he ever wrote.
When Jon and Ygritte go down into the cave to make love. "Let's never go back up." Especially when you're rereading, and know what's in store for them.
Speaking of which, Ygritte's death in Jon's arms, his only consolation that he wasn't the one who shot the arrow that killed her.
"You know nothing, Jon Snow," she said, dying.
The wedding of Tyrion and Sansa. Setting the very painful ceremony and worse wedding night aside for a second, let's just look at the marriage:
The bride is someone who has dreamed of nothing but her wedding for her whole life and sees it as the only thing she was really born for. Now, it's happening, and she's marrying a man she doesn't love and who clearly doesn't love her. Her father isn't there to give her away, so the man who killed him does so instead. Her big brother isn't there to tell the groom that he'll kick his ass if he hurts her. Her mother isn't there. Her siblings aren't there — because they've all been murdered (she believes), mostly by the people she's marrying. All she wants is to go home, but once she marries her husband, she'll never be allowed to get away from his family. That's not even getting into the sexual issues.
The groom is someone whose biggest fear — the fear that's driven him his whole life — is that nobody will ever love him for anything but his money and family power (which, among other things, is the only reason his first wife agreed to marry him or so he thinks.). Now, he's marrying this beautiful, brave girl that he thinks the world of, and despite having done everything he can to help her in the past, she is clearly repulsed by him and will never, ever love him — but who is being forced by his money and family power to pretend that she does. It would be impossible to tailor a marriage better designed to be his worst nightmare.
What makes this better? Tyrion still thinks of her from the other side of the world, as she is arguably one of the few people in the whole planet that he still cares about. To him she is still his wife, for better or for worse. What makes this worse? As they are married and he is still royalty, he can spoil Littlefinger's plans to arrange a marriage between Sansa and Harrold Hardyng (the heir to the Eyre).
On the other hand, unaware that Sansa was used by Littlefinger and Olenna Tyrell, he believes that she was a willing conspirator in the plot to kill Joffrey and frame him for it. He thinks she murdered Joffrey then ran away and abandoned him to his death- the same way every other woman has ever used him and cast him off. And even then, when he's on trial, he stands by his oaths to her to protect her and refuses to attempt to blame her for Joffrey's death, because he's her husband. His internal paradox is heart-wrenching.
While fleeing from the capital, Sansa bursts into tears; she does not know if she's crying out of relief from the death of Joffrey, out of utter terror from the brutal manner of his demise, or out of guilt for abandoning Tyrion after unwittingly taking part into both the assassination of the former and letting her husband take the blame, when Tyrion did nothing but try to help her to the best of his efforts.
Sansa and her snow castle in the last chapter. It really drives home that Sansa is just a thirteen year old girl, who has only ever tried to be what is expected of her and been all but tortured for it. Add to that the fact that she thinks that everyone from her fond childhood memories is dead (and is right in most cases) and you have an extremely touching scene.
Directly after this scene, although possibly funny in a dark way (Littlefinger thought so, anyways), it's also a bit sad to see Sansa stick the head of Sweetrobin's doll on a stick (like a head on a pike) down in front of her snow castle. Considering she undoubtedly had her father and brother Robb's endings in mind. A pretty dark action to do considering she's only thirteen years old, and goes to show that she's seen some pretty messed up crap in her life.
Given that she believed that her younger brother's heads were on spikes above the gates of Winterfell, it makes her version of Winterfell particularly accurate. And horrifying.
This scene really does drive home that Sansa is a Woobie. She pretty much goes on a happy nostalgia trip and creates a bunch of perfect snowballs, remembering her childhood where she would get into snowball fights with her siblings. After making them, she realizes that she has no one to throw them at and play with. Soon after, Littlefinger comes along, and in a moment where she lowers her guard and tries to play with him by throwing a snowball at him, he instead takes the opportunity to molest and forcefully kiss her, resulting in her almost getting killed by her aunt and being traumatized once again. The poor girl can't get a break and live out her childhood at all.
Oberyn's death. Arrogant and cocky as he was, he really was only out to avenge the sister that he loved, and he almost won.Made worse by the fact that his paramour who was basically his wife had to watch the whole grisly ordeal.
Pretty much everything Jaime goes through after losing his hand is pretty gutting, but something that really stands out are all of those moments when he's tied to a saddle with Brienne afterwards, feverish, in pain and half-conscious, and finds himself just leaning on her shoulder and taking a little bit of comfort in the fact that she's so warm.
Jaime's nightmare after leaving Harrenhal where he hallucinates the dead Rhaegar calling him out on the horrific fates of his wife and children:
Rhaegar: I left my wife and children in your hands.
Jaime: I never thought he'd [Tywin] hurt them.
Jaime thinking about himself and what he's become, when you realize that Jaime really did want to be one of the great knights that stories were told about, but couldn't because of the choices he made and the way the world made choices for him.
That boy had wanted to be Ser Arthur Dayne, but someplace along the way he had become the Smiling Knight instead.
Aerys, it always comes down to Aerys.
The epilogue, in which it is revealed that Catelyn was resurrected by Beric Dondarrion, but it had been so long since her death that she bears very little resemblance to the woman that she was in life - and she cannot even rest in peace.
Jaime's recollection of the Kingsguard's former glory, and his dread at what it has become.
He wondered what Ser Arthur Dayne would have to say of this lot. "How is it that the Kingsguard has fallen so low," most like. "It was my doing," I would have to answer. "I opened the door, and did nothing when the vermin began to crawl inside."
Podrick Payne, at the end of the chapter when he meets Brienne. "I was his squire...". The Woobie, more than any other character.
Jaime's (implied true) dream of his mother, where she tells him that Tywin hated to be laughed at, and wished for his son to be "a great knight", and his daughter to be a queen, and for them to be "so strong and brave and beautiful that no one would ever laugh at them." Jaime responds:
''"I am a knight," he told her, "and Cersei is a queen."
A tear rolled down her cheek. The woman raised her hood again and turned her back on him. Jaime called after her, but already she was moving away, her skirt whispering lullabies as it brushed across the floor. Don't leave me, he wanted to call, but of course she'd left them long ago.
The Elder Brother's description of Sandor Clegane.
He was Prince Joffrey's sworn shield for many a year, and even here [on the Quiet Isle] we would hear tell of his deeds, both good and ill. If even half of what we heard was true, this was a bitter, tormented soul, a sinner who mocked both gods and men. He served, but found no pride in service. He fought, but took no joy in victory. He drank, to drown his pain in a sea of wine. He did not love, nor was he loved himself. It was hate that drove him. Though he committed many sins, he never sought forgiveness. Where other men dream of love, or wealth or glory, this man Sandor Clegane dreamed of slaying his own brother, a sin so terrible it makes me shudder just to speak of it. Yet it was the bread that nourished him, the fuel that kept his fires burning. Ignoble as it was, the hope of seeing his brother's blood upon his blade was all this sad and angry creature lived for, and even that was taken from him, when Prince Oberyn of Dorne stabbed Ser Gregor with a poisoned spear.
Cersei's POV chapters don't do much to show her in a sympathetic light, with one exception: during Tommen's wedding to Margaery, when he drinks his wine too quickly and starts choking on it. Cersei, who's already had one son choke to death on his wedding day right in front of her, becomes so overwhelmed with terror and panic that she ends up knocking a server down in her haste to reach him. Of course, it's a false alarm, but even so, she can't keep herself from bursting into tears, and has to rush out of the room to keep people from seeing. It really hammers home the fact that, bitch though she may be, she's still a mother who's already lost one child, and now lives in constant fear (not entirely without reason) that the other two may be next. In that one moment, it's pretty hard not to feel sorry for her.
Doran's realization of Oberyn's death.
“I was the oldest,” the Prince said, “and yet I am the last. After Mors and Olyvar died in their cradles, I gave up hope of brothers. I was nine when Elia came, a squire in service at Salt Shore. When the raven arrived with word that my mother had been brought to bed a month too soon, I was old enough to understand that meant the child would not live. Even when Lord Gargalen told me that I had a sister, I assured him that she must shortly die. Yet she lived, by the Mother’s mercy. And a year later Oberyn arrived, squalling and kicking. I was a man grown when they were playing in these pools. Yet here I sit, and they are gone.”
From a preview chapter of A Dance With Dragons. Even Daenerys has trouble keeping her eyes dry:
"What could a eunuch hope to find in a brothel?" she asked. "Even those who lack a man's parts may still have a man's heart, Your Grace," said Grey Worm. "This one has been told that your servant Stalwart Shield sometimes gave coin to the women of the brothels, to lay with him and hold him."
When Jon Snow learns that his little sister has seemingly been forcibly married to Ramsay Bolton, the most sadistic and despicable monster in the setting its impossible not to feel for the guy
Doran Martell grieving and misgiving, seeking comfort in gruff Aero Hotah, at loss for words.
"Until the Mountain crushed my brother's skull, no Dornishmen had died in this War of the Five Kings," the prince murmured softly, as Hotah pulled a blanket over him. "Tell me, Captain, is that my shame or my glory?"
"That is not for me to say, my prince." Serve. Protect. Obey. Simple vows for simple men. That was all he knew.
Brienne's response to the Elder Brother's "I am sure he'd rather have a living daughter than a shattered shield" comment:
"I am the only child the gods let him keep. The freakish one, the one not fit to be son or daughter".
Jon Connington's chapters have him narrate about how he hopes he can see his home castle before he dies. When he does, he goes to the tower with the best view and takes it all in. Even worse when you remember he's dying of grayscale from saving Tyrion, so he could have easily died without ever getting this moment.
Young Griff is treated as none other than Aegon VI Targaryen, the last son of Prince Rhaeghar and Elia Martell; all is going according to plan until Jon Connington and Tyrion Lannister notice streaks of the Targaryen madness in him. This coupled by the fact that he is referred to by Quaithe as "The Mummer's Dragon" implies that he might be, at the worst possible result, a Blackfyre pretender, which does not bode well for ANYONE.
Although he could be exactly as promised, a proper prince with the finest claim and nothing but pure blood and the finest teaching a prince could have. "The Mummer's Dragon" may simply refer to Varys' past as a mummer... And yet, for all the effort that was put in to raising him, there is still the old saying about the Targaryens: Every time one is born, the gods flip a coin to decide if he will be great or mad. Even more heartbreaking if it's all absolutely true, and yet could be ruined by the same thing that destroyed Aerys II.
Kevan Lannister's loving recollections of his wife, right before Varys offs him. What makes this worse? Just before he died, he seemed to be stabilising the realm, helping raise Tommen the way he should have been from day one, and was starting to doubt whether he'd done the right thing under Tywin. Say what you will about his actions under the Lannisters, but he did not deserve to go out like that.
Wyman Manderly's "The North Remembers" speech is both a tearjerker and a CMOA
"Foes and false friends are all around me, Lord Davos. They infest my city like roaches, and at night I feel them crawling over me." The fat man's fingers coiled into a fist, and all his chins trembled. "My son Wendel came to the Twins a guest. He ate Lord Walder’s bread and salt, and hung his sword upon the wall to feast with his friends. And they murdered him. Murdered, I say, and may the Freys choke upon their fables. I drink with Jared, jape with Symond, promise Rhaegar the hand of my own beloved granddaughter...but never think that means I have forgotten. The north remembers, Lord Davos. The north remembers, and the mummer’s farce is almost done. My son is home."
Roose Bolton's proud and almost sad recollection of his true son Domeric is one of VERY few times in the series Roose has shown any semblance of affection, and his bitterness that he cannot kill Domeric's killer because Ramsay is both his son and heir is made evident.
Also the fact that Domeric was pretty much the only good member of House Bolton who sought out Ramsey entirely because he was desperate for a brother is rather sad, especially how desperate Roose was to keep him away from what he already knew to be a monster.
Domeric was said to be Lady Barbrey Dustin's favorite nephew and as a dame without sons, the kid was very much the closest thing to a son to her. Roose's inaction to Domeric's assassination is what drives Lady Dustin to start conspiring against her brother-in-law.
Ellaria Sand hears that her relatives are plotting vengeance and demands they don't because she's been through enough heartache already.
Is that how it goes, round and round forever? I ask again, where does it end? I saw your father die. Here is his killer. Can I take a skull to bed with me, to give me comfort in the night? Will it make me laugh, write me songs, care for me when I am old and sick?
Tyrion's regret in believing his first wife Tysha was a whore.
The scene where Meera is crying by the campfire. Bran wants to go to her and comfort her, the way his mother used to for him. But he physically can't. His utter feeling of worthlessness at that point is heartrending.
Every single one of Theon's chapters; if not for the bleak situation, then for his profound identity crisis. He thinks about how much better it would be if he just died, but is also desperate to redeem himself. Then there's fact that Winterfell has been cleared of Starks and was taken over by the Boltons, all the terrible things that happen to Jeyne Poole, and the overall tense and somber mood. It's just a very difficult story arc to read in general.
There are ghosts in Winterfell, he thought, and I am one of them.
The Winds of Winter (at time of writing, preview chapters)
The opening chapter starts with Theon in chains yet again, possibly about to be executed by Stannis in spite of the fact that he saved Fake!Arya, as it's necessary for Stannis to pacify the North. Asha desperately seems to try and ransom him, but Stannis seemingly remains unmoved. The most she can hope for him now is supposedly a quick death, which is why she pleads that he be executed near a heart tree. She's already deeply saddened after having seen what Ramsay has done to him, and shortly after they are reunited she may be separated from him again, this time permanently.
One particularly sad scene which exemplifies this is during one of her conversations with the Kindly Man, wherein he tells her that she's still too much of an individual to be a Faceless Man and he offers her other paths in life. Arya thinks to herself that she has a hole where her heart used to be, and she turns down his other offers because she feels like she's totally lost everything and it's too late.
Especially sad since Arya so obviously enjoys being a Street Urchin in Bravoos, and would apparently be quite happy leaving her past behind if only she'd allow herself to. Then she goes and murders a Nights Watch deserter, and is punished for it by blindness, which is only cured once she destroys her individuality even further.
The death of Renly Baratheon made an impact. Not at first— it is handled very quickly and matter of factly— but then you realize that his knights and other followers loved him so very much.
Special mention goes to Loras, who can't even be entirely open, as their relationship was secret.
Sansa: That was when Lord Renly died, wasn't it? How terrible for your poor sister.
Loras: For Margery? [His voice was tight] To be sure.
Sansa's low opinion of Jon in AGOT; she refers to him as "our bastard brother" when talking with Arya, which incenses the latter. Later, when Sansa is a glorified hostage of the Lannisters, she realizes that Jon is all the family she has left in the world, and in AFFC she outright thinks that she would very much like to see him again when hearing that he leads the Nights Watch now.
There is little to take from Jon on the subject of Sansa; consider that in the whole five books, Sansa and Jon do not speak to one another even once and in spite of all that, Jon's regard for his sister is shown to be greater than hers for him, as he would not become the Lord of Winterfell for the sake of Sansa's claim on it.
Sansa's reaction to the news of each of her family members dying...
Aemon's blind white eyes came open. "Egg?" he said, as the rain streamed down his cheeks. "Egg, I dreamed that I was old."
To say nothing of Sam's eulogy for the wise old man when he passes away of old age:
"He was a good man... No. He was a great man. A maester of the Citadel, chained and sworn, and Sworn Brother of the Night's Watch, ever faithful. When he was born they named him for a hero who had died too young, but though he lived a long long time, his own life was no less heroic. No man was wiser, or gentler, or kinder. At the Wall, a dozen lords commander came and went during his years of service, but he was always there to counsel them. He counseled kings as well. He could have been a king himself, but when they offered him the crown he told them they should give it to his younger brother. How many men would do that? He was the blood of the dragon, but now his fire has gone out. He was Aemon Targaryen. And now his watch is ended."
Aemon cursing and lamenting the fact that he will never meet his grandniece and counsel her. He learned about her existence only shortly before dying.
Earlier in A Game Of Thrones, when we learn of the old Maester's Targaryen lineage by trying to counsel Jon Snow about going through the exact same situation. Eventually all if no most of Jon's family is dead or thought to be dead, just as Aemon's was, and Jon can do exactly zilch about it all. This troper quotes: "Seven Hells"
All of Reek's chapters. What he's been through makes him a mine of Tear Jerkers, but particularly heart-wrenching is when he breaks down in the godswood, wishing only that he could die as Theon.
"Sister. See. This time I knew you." Had this troper sweating through his eyes for about five minutes straight. Also doubles as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
"Theon. Yes. I'm Theon. You have to know your *name*!"
The fact that we learn that there's still love in the world for him in the form of Jeyne Poole after all that... and that there's the possibility that he has lost his manhood. Seven Hells indeed.
Any time you see Sandor Clegane cry. Especially the first time. And especially the last time. No, wait, especially every time.
Oberyn's recollections of his sister Elia hit hard, especially one where he recalls her mothering/Cuteness Proximity toward baby Tyrion, given her horrific death and the equally horrible death of her children.
More quiet than other cases, but Septon Meribald's description of 'broken men' and all the horrors of warfare for the common folk - even those serving in the armies - hits hard, reminding the reader yet again that this is now the reality for so many peasants in Westeros because of the arrogance, pride and ruthlessness of the Five Kings and the lords they commanded. And what makes it worse is that Meribald is still affected by his own experiences and loss of friends and kin, after nearly forty years.
Tyrion's final chapter in book 3, when the two brothers, who had been closer than almost any other characters in the books, have their falling out when Jaime tells him the truth about Tysha. It's hard to know who to feel more sorry for, but the line "Jaime turned without a word, and walked away," is heart-wrenching. For that matter, the entire story about Tysha.
Made worse by the fact that he is putting Jaime in the same level as his hated sister Cersei (as of ADWD).
Not to mention Tyrion's nightmare in "A Dance With Dragons" where he hallucinates a two-faced version of himself killing Jaime with an axe. While the first face is laughing madly, the second face is crying. It becomes Harsher in Hindsight when you have the fact that a part of him still loves his brother after all.
Likewise, Jaime has taken to calling Tyrion by his derisive title of The Imp.
Made even worse by the brothers' feelings of each other in their respective POV chapters: Tyrion recounts how Jaime was the only one who treated him kindly, thinks that he's the one who's saved him from Mandon Moore, and, hell, even Oberyn recounts how Jaime had to protect Tyrion from Cersei. And when Jaime feels helpless about trying to convince Steelshanks about going back to save Brienne, he tries to think of what his little brother would do: "Tyrion would find a way." Tragic brothers indeed.
Kind of a tearjerker in retrospect, but Jon's continual rejection of Stannis Baratheon's offer to make him the Lord of Winterfell because of his vows and because he doesn't want to disinherit Sansa is tough to take in light of Robb's plan to legitimize him as a Stark and make him the heir to the North - which Jon knows nothing about. First you have Jon, still thinking that he's not really a Stark and never knowing that his brother and closest childhood friend was going to recognize him as such. Then you have the fact that Robb was completely right - Jon would, in fact, not doing anything to hurt the 'legitimate' Stark heir.
Tywin's sister telling Jaime about their relationship. It's sad, and it's twisted, and we see a human side to Tywin that's almost always buried.
The overall picture of Jaime that develops as the books progress. The little boy who wanted to become the best knight, who later wonders how he became the Smiling Knight instead of his childhood hero; who tells Brienne and Tommen to "go away inside" when faced with horrors; who loses the sword hand he felt defined him, and discovers that Cersei, the woman he loves more than anyone, does not love him as much as he loves her: loving him only as an extension of herself. His dream also hints that he knows that his mother would not like what has become of her children.
The North remembers. Thousands of northmen heading for war change direction and march through blizzards worse than most people could conceive of not for glory, not to destroy an enemy, but to save the daughter of a friend who died several years ago. Why? Because said friend was Ned freaking Stark, that's why, and they loved him as much as we, the readers, did.
It's not his daughter, but an impostor, but still they march on unbeknownst. And we will never blame them.
This exchange when one of Stannis' knights starts to complain:
Lord Peasebury: More dying everyday, and for what? Some girl?
Morgan Liddle: Ned's girl.
Also the fact that some factions of Roose Bolton's allies (such as Lady Dustin) still think that what was done to the Starks was really fucked up and are trying to plot against the Boltons and the Freys (this considering that Lady Dustin hated both Ned Stark's guts for leaving her husband's mortal remains at the Tower of Joy and Lord Rickard Stark for taking Brandon away from her by promising him to Catelyn Tully).
Between the factions there's also the Manderlys; just see young Wylla Manderly's protest to her grandfather regarding the Freys' presence in White Harbor, and you see just how moving her plea is to all the nonsense that is apparently happening.
After the two of them make love on the Cinnamon WindSam having to tell Gilly that they can't be together even though he loves her because of the vow he swore to the Night's Watch:
Sam: What we did...if I could take a wife, I would sooner have you than any princess or highborn maiden...but I can't. I am still a crow. I said the words, Gilly.
When Hoster Tully is dying he feverishly begs to see his youngest daughter Lysa, clearly wanting her forgiveness for something. Letters are repeatedly sent to the Eyrie, but Lysa never shows up - understandable, considering there's a civil war on, but worse than that, she never even replies.
And then later on we learn why she refused to visit and comfort her father on his death bed; when they were teenagers, she slept with/raped Littlefinger and conceived his child. Lord Tully, outraged, sent Petyr away and tricked (or possibly forced) Lysa into drinking a concoction to abort the baby, then arranged a marriage for her with Jon Arryn since she was proved to be fertile, though also considered soiled goods. Not only was the marriage loveless, but the abortion quite likely damaged Lysa's reproductive organs - or else Jon Arryn's seed was weak, oh the irony - meaning she constantly miscarried and has only had one sickly son. Hardly the 'sweet babes and trueborn' Lord Tully swore she'd have. No wonder Lysa despised him, and no wonder he pleaded for the forgiveness she denied him in his final days.
Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey's relationship... even after House Frey basically slaughters the Northmen's hosts and kills everyone save a handful of survivors, and even when they basically become glorified hostages, the right thing should be for Edmure to hate her; still, they love each other after all that.
Poor Roslin really has a rough time. It's implied that she would have been perfectly happy to be married off to Edmure, yet she still sobbed throughout the wedding feast. She knew what was about to happen to her new husband's family and was forced to go along with it. Then the poor girl had to go have her wedding night while knowing about the massacre that was taking place downstairs. Ouch.
It gets worse for Roslin. The wedding night left Roslin pregnant with Edmure's child, meaning that if she gives birth to a son, the Freys will no longer need to keep Edmure alive to maintain their hold on the Riverlands. It's mentioned that Roslin is frantically praying for a daughter so that her family won't have a excuse to murder her husband.
It's pointed out to Edmure that while he was consummating his marriage, his older sister was having her throat slit.
A minor one: but in AFOC, when Jaime offers to let the Blackfish take the black in exchange for surrendering, the Blackfish refuses, not only because it's The Kingslayer offering it, but because he doesnt trust the new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, Jon Snow since his sister Cat didnt and Theon's betrayal and seizure of Winterfell made her more distrustful of Jon. It's sad when you consider that Jon is one of the most heroic characters in the series and not at all deserving to be labeled as a Bastard Bastard as he did love his family, especially made apparent when he refuses a lordship of Winterfell given to him by Stannis even though being a lord was something thought to be beyond his reach, because doing so would rob his sister of her claim and the only thing she had left.
Viserys Targaryen lost everything and everyone he loved, when he was only eight. He and his sister were on the run for years, fearing for their lives, and were forced to sell everything they had to survive. He's crushed that everyone that he thought were their allies either betrayed them or were willing to take advantage of them. He took to drinking and grew to resent his sister because he couldn't have her either. When he rants about his crown, think for a moment that he's not talking about the crown of Westeros, but his mother's crown which was all he had left to sell.
Even worse are the facts that considering the Targaryen custom, Daenerys was meant to be his bride, and that he (and not Daenerys) was the subject of endless japes, mockery and being treated as a mere curiosity for most of his life.
Daenerys later reminisces that there was once kindness to her brother; she also finds out in the worst possible fashion that Viserys was very right to be paranoid concerning Robert Baratheon's assassins, that he must have indeed defended her from such aggressors and thanks to him she is still in one piece and in mint condition for Khal Drogo.
He held out against the... uh... family quirks he inherited under some truly stupendous stresses starting from that age of eight: yes, he turned into a Smug Snake of epic proportions. But, he wasn't in his father's league by a long chalk, with arguably far more stress than The Mad King ever got in his whole life (including Duskendale). And, Viserys didn't even hit 30. He must have had something worthwhile to him, before it got horribly twisted with bitterness. Of course, had he ever managed to get any power, he might well have managed to beat his dad, but, well... Heck, Joffrey turned into a far worse version of Royal Brat with a lot fewer in the way of excuses.
Davos right before he thinks he's about to be executed. One of the most honorable yet humble characters in the book this side of Ned Stark, he has striven to do right for the good of Stannis and the realm, something which has earned him nothing but the death of four of his sons and the continued scorn of other nobles who disparage his humble origins. In his final moments he uses his new literacy skills to write letters to his two youngest sons and wife, telling them to go across the Narrow Sea, while writing Devan (who is back at the Wall with Stannis as his squire) to tell him how proud he is of him. This last thought pretty much sums him up
I did not do so ill...I rose up from Flea Bottom to become a King's Hand, and I learned to read and write.
Late in AGOT, Catelyn falls into a depression, because of her husband and youngest sons' death, her eldest son going to war, and her daughters being hostages, that lasts all the way until her death.
I am a creature of grief and dust and bitter longings. There is an empty place within me where my heart was once.
The descriptions throughout the books of Ramsay Bolton's "pastimes" are among the most cringe-worthy passages in the books; the slow torture of Lady Donella Hornwood, the maiming and possible castration of Theon Greyjoy and the abuse made to Jeyne Poole are just a few of his misdeeds.
Lore of the Seven Kingdoms - Dunk & Egg
It's hard not to feel sorry for Princess Rhaenyra. Her step mother, step mother's father and half-brothers conspire and steal the crown that should have been her's. Her daughter is stillborn. Her 3 eldest sons die tragic deaths in the span of a few months. Two of the men she had raised from the dirt to the level of knights and dragon riders betray her cause.Her growing fear and paranoia from all these tragedies cause her to turn against those who do stay loyal to her. Her dragon is killed. And finally she is eaten alive by her step brother's dragon.
Also her son Aegon, who was forced to watch his mother die by the aforementioned dragon. Even though he was later crowned king and Rhaenyra achieved dynastic vindication, he was never the same again after that incident. Much like when Tywin lost his wife, Aegon would never again smile, developed a great distaste for dragons and always wore black to mourn his mother.
The death of Daemon Blackfyre and his twin sons. After a glorious one-on-one battle with Ser Gwayne Corbray of the Kingsguard during the Battle of Redgrass Field, he is caught in the open by his half brother Brynden Rivers "Bloodraven", who rains a volley of arrows on him and his sons. It was widely seen as an undeserving death devoid of glory and rather dishonorable move from Bloodraven, who would carry infamy throughout his life for this act.
The story of Aegor Rivers "Bittersteel" is no less unfortunate: described as a relentlessly angry man, Bittersteel was the bastard son of King Aegon IV and Barba Bracken. His king father abandoned all romantic interest towards Barba and turned to Melissa Blackwood, a union that would produce Brynden Rivers "Bloodraven". Bittersteel always loathed Bloodraven for a number of reasons, including the ancestral rivalry between the Blackwoods and the Brackens, the fact that Bloodraven's mother replaced his own as the King's favorite and the fact that their beautiful bastard sister Shiera Seastar preferred Bloodraven over him. When Daemon Blackfyre defied the crown, Bittersteel sided with him soundly through the revolution and his eventual defeat to Bloodraven; in ire, Bittersteel was able to maim Bloodraven in battle by cutting his left eye off. Bittersteel fled with the surviving sons of Blackfyre to Essos, where he created the mercenary army known as the Golden Company with the main purpose to crown Blackfyre's sons as kings of Westeros, but every attempt that he made was promptly crushed by Bloodraven. Bittersteel would die an angry old man licking his wounds, leaving behind the Golden Company as his sole remnant in the world of the living.
The Trial Of Seven against Ser Duncan The Tall during the Tourney at Ashford Meadow. Though Dunk emerged victorious, his innocence proved fatal to his ally, Prince Baelor Targaryen "Breakspear", heir to the Iron Throne who was unwittingly slain by his brother Prince Maekar. As Maekar was considered comparatively a lesser warrior and person against his brothers during their battles against the Blackfyre Pretenders, this act was unjustly perceived as an act of envy which brought him infamy as a kinslayer as well.
The impact of this event haunted Dunk for a considerable period, as soon after tragedy befell the Targaryens when the Great Spring Sickness also killed King Daeron II and many of his issue. As the Trial of Seven killed Prince Baelor Breakspear, Dunk felt personally responsible for the tragedies that the Targaryens went through.
Before his battle with Lucas Longinch on The Sworn Sword, Dunk pleads to Lady Rohanne Webber to forgive Eustace Osgrey for his misgivings a last time; he proceeds to cut through own his cheek to assert just how serious he is about the whole ordeal. Lady Webber refuses, but laments that given the opportunity, she would not hesitate to marry Dunk right then and there for his greatness as a man of honor, but as the highest authority in the Coldmoat, she must see justice served against Osgrey.
To add salt to the wound, Dunk wins the duel at a great expense since his wounds bring him close to death; when he finally wakes up, he learns that Lady Webber has married Osgrey to broker peace between their houses, leaving Dunk empty-handed. Still, Lady Webber declares her love for Dunk and her wish for him to stay and serve as captain of her guard. He refuses, but they kiss passionately; Dunk keeps her cut braid as a memento of their time together.
The story between Lady Webber and Eustace Osgrey is not less a tear jerker. Osgrey had three sons and a daughter before the Blackfyre Rebellion; Addam (his third son) and the young Rohanne Webber were in love by the moment the Rebellion started. Eustace sided with Daemon Blackfyre and sent his sons to wage combat against the Targaryens; Lord Wyman Webber (Rohanne's father) sided with the Targaryens, who emerged victorious. Osgrey ended up losing his three sons in battle and was punished by having his daughter taken prisoner by the crown; her daughter died in captivity and this resulted in his wife taking her own life in grief.
Lord Wyman mandated that his daughter Rohanne be married by the time 20 years had passed from his death so that she would inherit his lands. As such, Rohanne was married in a rush to her father's squire during the Blackfyre Rebellion in the eventuality of her father's death; it became impossible for her to marry Addam, who was sent by his father to fight for the enemy. This first husband was slain during the rebellion. Soon after, she was married to an old man that died of a chill. After another husband choked while eating chicken and yet another died during an epidemic, she gained an undeserved infamy as "The Red Widow". Rohanne never forgave Eustace Osgrey for siding with the enemy and causing Addam's death and began a slow campaign to erode him into insignificance. It took Dunk's honorable example to make them reconcile for the sake of peace.
The desperation that overcomes Dunk every time he loses sight of Egg is considerably cringe-inducing because of his appreciation and care for the boy and also because of Egg's actual identity as Aegon Targaryen.