- Hearing Rucks' narration as The Kid makes his way through some ruins of the city, and finds tons of people, turned to statues of ash. Each one of those people has a name. Each and every one had their own life and their own dreams, and you find them all turned to ash, and Rucks remembers them all...
Rucks: "The Jawson Boys? They didn't make it. Never got to see what it was like beyond the walls. Nordy the bird boy? Didn't make it. Grady Senior, Grady Junior... didn't make it."
- Cinderbrick Fort certainly hits hard if you stop to think about it. The Windbags are decent folks according to Rucks just wanting a place to sleep, something to eat, and safety like everyone else. But they lived underground and now that entire part of the world simply doesn't exist anymore. Cinderbrick Fort gives them a place to stay and metal to eat because that's their diet, but they need the Core to keep it from crumbling while the Bastion needs it to fix the world. Only one side can have it and a Win for the Bastion is a win for everyone, at least according to Rucks, but when it really comes down to it you're killing refugees desperately defending what little they have left after the world they knew disappeared because someone else screwed up.
- Zulf's Theme. If the lyrics and minor key weren't enough, consider the context it's played in. If you choose to take him with you, the tone of the whole situation suddenly becomes much more optimistic and reinforces the Moment of Awesome everyone's having. Against all odds, despite everything up to this point, he's still getting saved. He probably doesn't know about it yet, or believe it, but he's gonna make it.
- When the Ura attack the Bastion, if you're not quick enough, any pets you collected can die, with a heartbreaking voiceover to accompany the moment.
Rucks: Our baby Pecker, he don't make it.Rucks: Our li'l Squirt, he don't make it.
- After returning from the Tazl Terminals, you get a bit of this mixed with a dash of awesome at the end. The Kid lands back at the Bastion, flat on his face as usual, and...
Rucks: Hey, Kid.[The Kid pushes up a foot, then falls back to the ground.]Rucks: Get up, Kid.[Kid manages to make it to his knees, then collapses again.]Rucks, worried: C'mon, now, that ain't funny. I said get up.[Kid struggles, and finally gets to his feet.]Rucks, relieved: Now that's more like it.
- Some of Rucks's narration when you leave a place after taking the Core or Shard, really drives home the fact that the place is dead and gone. There's a real feeling of loss and sorrow when you leave, and can never return.
Rucks: And now, ain't nothing left for nobody, down at Cinderbrick Fort.
Rucks: With a good spyglass, you can still see the Cauldron from the city. But all the fires died out; there's nothin' left of it.
- The journey to Mount Zand. You find that the beasts of the Wild have banded together to make a "Bastion" of their own. Young and old all fight ferociously to keep their own safe haven alive. In the end, they're all survivors, trying to make their way in the ruined world, same as the Kid and Rucks and Zia. Rucks knows this. The Kid knows this. "But we really need their Shard." Even with Rucks's narration assuring you that the Bastion will save them as well, will make everything better, it's really sad to see just how alike they are, knowing that you can't reason with them or convince them; only kill them.
Rucks: There's only one kind of mercy left these days.
- The point that really makes the exit from Mount Zand sad is that, after you take the Shard, you're beset by a final pack of Wild beasts, including two of the giant flower creature seen in Jawson Bog. You can try to fight them, but Rucks's narration will say that the Kid doesn't need to deal with them anymore. The proper answer is to just run to the Skyway and leave. The beasts of the Wild don't even get to have their last stand.
- Finally, as you approach the Skyway, a single log falls from above to block your path, only to be smashed by a single hammer blow. To those poor simple beasts, that was probably their last line of defense.
- Leaving Zulf at the Terminals. Bonus - the song that plays when you fight your way to the skyway is him singing his funerary song.
- Saving Zulf at the Terminals. The Kid casts aside his weapons and mobility and staggers his way through a corridor of enemies, all in a seemingly futile attempt to save the man who betrayed him. The Ura he's been fighting start firing on him, but once they realise what he's doing, their attacks falter out and they move aside to let him through, watching him silently with respect. One poison archer ignores the cease fire and is immediately cut down by his superior.
- All of the Who Knows Where sequences, which each detail the downright heartbreaking backstories of The Kid, Zulf, and Zia.
- The Kid grows up with no father and a sickly mother, while being picked on and ostracized by his peers for his snow white hair. To support his mother, the Kid takes a tour on the Rippling Walls - a job that's so harsh that nobody has ever signed up for a second tour. Once he finishes, the Kid comes home to find his mother dead, and the money he had sent home gone. With nothing else to turn to, he simply goes back to the walls, and becomes the first person ever to sign up for a second tour.
- Zulf is saved from his life as a homeless orphan by a Caelondian missionary living in the Terminals, and becomes convinced that he can bridge the gap between the Ura and Caelondians. The kicker is that he actually succeeds: he befriends many Caelondians, and even falls in love with and becomes engaged to a Caelondian woman. However the night after she accepts his proposal, the Calamity hits, and Zulf's life work is undone before his eyes. Everybody he came to know and love is dead, and when there seems to be a small spot of hope when he sees his fiancée asleep in her bed, it turns she is also dead, as she turns to ash when he reaches out to her. With absolutely nothing left to live for, Zulf goes to the Hanging Gardens where he and his fiancée used to take walks, and stands poised to jump to his death until the Kid intervenes. And that's all before he learns it was undone as the result of a Caelondian weapon.
- Zia grew up without a mother and, since her father was busy working as a mancer, practically without him either. She's picked on by her Caelondian peers, but ends up falling in love with the one boy who sticks up for her. It turns out though that the boy is just trying to frame her and her father as traitors, and he tricks Zia into joining him in a false escape attempt by playing on her ignorance of Ura customs. They're caught and Zia's actions are used as leverage to force her father back into the mancers after he had left, which turns out to be the final push that convinces him to set off the Calamity.