The part where you play as Phoenix in his last trial, and the game forces you to present evidence that you know will get him disbarred because he doesn't know it's a forgery. It makes a person feel like quite the villain. In fact, anything concerning Phoenix losing his badge is saddening, but special mention has to go to one of the best tragicomic lines in the game, which you get when you examine a doll doing the classic objecting pose and Phoenix bellows his old Catch Phrase one more time, before saying 'it's been seven years! I need to stop torturing myself with these things! I know, I'll just pretend it's saying something else. 'Why yes sir, the post office is right over that way.'' It's difficult to know whether that should be met with laughter or tears.
Dual Destinies does show that Maya, Pearl, and Edgeworth kept in touch with Phoenix throughout that time. Which is a very happy Tear Jerker, since we find out his friends stuck with him the whole time.
The bad ending of Apollo Justice. It's extremely easy to avoid, given how you get it, but it's also extremely easy just to see.
"The verdict was postponed...for eternity."
The last scene of Apollo Justice, where Klavier, having realized what his brother's done and the part he himself played, looks up towards the ceiling, clearly on the verge of tears, and takes that final step to convict Kristoph of murder once and for all. When you consider that just a few months ago, Klavier also helped sentence his friend and band member to death, the entire game really was just a Kick the Dog experience for the poor guy, especially since he's certainly the friendliest and least corrupt prosecutor in the series.
It's clear that while he had no doubt that the evidence was forged, he never understood why his brother knew, and once he puts the pieces together, he understands something else: not only did Kristoph frame Phoenix, but, had Kristoph remained the original defense attorney, he had absolutely no interest in taking his brother on in court, even after promising Klavier that he'd face him in court for a fair fight to the truth. It becomes a Heads I Win, Tails You Lose situation for Klavier, as if it had been his brother he'd faced that day, his brother would have won with a forgery. Ow.
Speaking of the end of Apollo Justice, the final reveal that Trucy is an even greater master of the poker face than Phoenix himself, as Phoenix explains that he's the only one who knows how she truly feels at the same time as the player gets a shot of her crying. Realizing how hard the return and death of her real father must have hit her.
Earlier, there's the moment where Apollo realizes that Shadi Smith, the murder victim of the first case, was Trucy's father. While Apollo wonders how to break the news to her at this time, Trucy tells him it's fine and to say what he has to. He wonders if she knew the entire time.
Turnabout Serenade could also have a moment of this, when you first see Machi in the Detention Center. Just think how far away he was from home... and possibly unable to tell what was going on, due to being blind and couldn't speak English. Of course, it turns out he wasn't blind and could speak basic English, but the thought of that loneliness if he was...
Think of it this way: the kid can't go home. Because the government there will execute him. Not to mention he'd been framed for murder by his smuggling accomplice. It's a lot to take in for a fourteen-year-old boy.
At the end, when Phoenix is talking to Lamiroir about Apollo and Trucy, he promises her to take care of them, because they're important to him. That's one thing about him that has never changed. He goes on to add that he must especially look after Trucy, because he's the only one who knows what she feels inside — and then it cuts to an image of Trucy with tears on her cheeks. Poor Trucy!
Pretty much all of the investigation in the past during 4-4 was pretty depressing but the one moment that really hit hard was when Phoenix was about to leave the Mishams, young Vera comments on the deeply sad look in his eyes. Phoenix doesn't even deny it.
Equally heartbreaking is Phoenix attempting to find a way to draw Vera out of her shell and the fact that Psyche-Locks guarded her good-luck charm. It's clear how easy she was to manipulate and how much she needed a friend, which makes the game's ending a case of floodgates opening. What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic? kicks in if you compare Phoenix and Vera's situations: both are trapped inside themselves and unable to leave the past, and both possess extraordinary skillsets that are being wasted (Vera's on forging, Phoenix's disbarment). It's not until the end of the game that both are truly set free and able to believe in the goodness of others again.
It's sort of a Fridge Sadness one, but Apollo's life before becoming an attorney was probably this — his father died when he was very young, and his mother apparently abandoned him when she returned to Troupe Gramarye, meaning he had no family at all for all but the first few months of his life. His half-sister Trucy went through a lot herself, but at least she had parents for a while and ended up with Nick in the end; we have no idea who raised Apollo!
Not helped by the events as of the beginning of 4-2. After a long time practicing his legal skills and Chords of Steel, Apollo is finally given the chance to defend his first case, accompanied by his boss and teacher. The trial ends with him accusing his boss of murder and being tricked into using illegal evidence by his client and role model, and now he's jobless. For the first part of 4-2, we see him basically doing odd jobs to pay the bills, and when someone finally hires him to be a defense attorney again, it's because she thinks he'll screw it up. There's a line between being the Butt Monkey and your life falling apart in front of you.
In the original trilogy, Phoenix's attorney's badge was his most prized possession. Presenting it to people (which was almost always an option) normally resulted in a humorous dialogue, typically about how much Nick loves his badge and shows it off. Present Apollo's attorney's badge to Phoenix. He doesn't fucking recognise it.