Please don't list this on a work's page as a trope. Examples can go on the work's YMMV tab.
Tear Jerker: Berserk
The Eclipse. A rare example that manages to seamlessly weave Tear Jerker with horror.
Before the Eclipse:
On the plains near the Midland border, Corkus has a pretty heartaching breakdown in front of the Hawks. It's hard to imagine that the resident Smug Snake has this kind of side to him.
After a very disturbing occurrence that happened between Casca and Griffith in his wagon, Casca realizes how weak and frail Griffith is and can't bear to leave him like this, thinking that he is her responsibility. A little while later, Guts finds Casca sitting near the wagons. He asks her what's wrong, to which she replies that nothing is wrong, but Guts sees that she is crying and demands to know what's wrong. She yells at him to stop but she ends up breaking down even more and begins crying into his chest as he holds her. Casca then tells Guts that she can't go with him and that she has to stay with Griffith to take care of him. Guts, not wanting to leave Casca, proclaims that if she's staying, that he will stay as well, but Casca begs Guts to leave on his own, telling him that if he was truly Griffith's friend, he would leave to follow his own dream. Unfortunately, Griffith overhears all of this going on from his wagon, and thus begins...
... Griffith's Despair Event Horizon. After hearing Guts and Casca, the two people whom he perhaps held the only amount of affection for, talk about leaving him and pretty much pitying him just sends Griffith over the edge with grief, and he works up the strength to ride the wagon into a shallow lake. There, he tries to commit suicide by impaling himself on a sharp log, but fails. Then, Griffith suddenly has a hallucination of sorts, where he is living a peaceful and simple life with Casca and their child, and Guts is just a memory from their past (save that their child bears his namesake). Perhaps this fantasy shows us that if Griffith were to think of himself as "normal" and on the same level as his comrades, this was all that he wanted out of life, and yet even that's impossible at this point not only because he's horribly mutilated, but also because the only woman whom he could ever possibly grow to love is in love with another man and is only staying with him out of pity. Double the sadness because, for half of the fanbase at least, this is the last time you'll feel truly sorry for this man, because lookwhat'sback.Oh jeez, here we go...
A good one is at the very moment Griffith accepts the sacrifice. And you see Guts desperately trying to free him from the cocoon where he's turning into Femto, crying as he keept saying "I'll free you! I'll free you!" while the rest of the God Hand taunts him about how he had already made his choice. Guts finally gives up, goes mad with rage and then jumps to a group of apostles that came to kill him.
Pippin's Heroic Sacrifice, made all the sadder because it only bought Casca a few minutes at most. Even worse, it's also the first and last time he ever speaks or opens his eyes in the series. Casca can only watch helplessly as Pippin is slowly but surely overwhelmed by Apostles. To add insult to injury, the Count plays with Pippin's hollowed out corpse just to torment Guts. Guts' cruelty towards the Count when they meet again becomes a lot more understandable.
Judeau's death, while declaring his love for Casca.
... Because at this point, Casca's assault and rape basically begins. Now it's time for the real waterworks to begin. Get your tissue as well as your palate cleanser or Security Blanket ready (this troper has to hold her cat whenever she watches this scene).
It makes your eyes water even more when you truly start to feel what Guts is feeling during those horrific moments: Having to watch a woman that he finally gave his heart to just days earlier being horrifically raped by a man that he considered a friend. You can just see it written all over Guts' eyes as he's crying tears and blood that he's asking Griffith, "why are you doing this? Why?" and all Griffith does is answer with a smug smile while he's very thoroughly enjoying Guts' suffering as he's forcing him to watch as he treats Casca like a toy. Given the circumstances of his first traumatic experience (in essence, being betrayed by a man that he trusted and then being left utterly defenseless because of that betrayal) you could dare to say that it's as if Guts is getting raped for a SECOND TIME, though on a more psychological level.
Also, the events on the hill where Casca miscarries her and Guts' child. Guts at first is not sure if the fetus is just a hellspawn that Femto implanted in Casca when he raped her, but finds out that it was indeed his child that was corrupted by evil. Even though he still detested the childand tried to kill him, Casca, through her madness, still showed that maternal instinct to protect it, and when the Child disappears by the morning light and Casca screams in pain, Guts can't help but to cry as well, mainly due to her pain.
Lastly, during Guts' last night in the elf mine with Casca. The two have been physically recovering for weeks, but there has been no psychological change in Casca's behavior, in which she is showing very extreme signs of rape trauma syndrome. While they're eating, Casca spills some hot soup on herself, and Guts tries to get her shift off of her but she struggles. Guts ends up accidentally ripping her shift open, exposing her breasts. In a moment of emotional vulnerability, Guts leans in and tries to kiss Casca and then... However, Casca freaks out, pushing Guts off of her and runs to the mine's gate screaming and crying. Guts is so ashamed at what he has done that he hangs his head in shame, but the saddest part of it all was that it was pretty much a final slap in Guts' face that things between he and Casca would never be the same, not as they were during their first night together or ever.
In conclusion, the prelude, climax, and aftermath of the eclipse are hell to read on every emotional level. Need more tissue?
When Schierke's teacher Flora dies.
Oh God! That bit affected me worse than any other death in the series! Even though Flora dies reminding Schierke that death is nothing to fear for witches like them, I completely cracked up when Schierke answered "But...I'll be...lonely" with tears streaming down her face. It may not be particularly eloquent or heroic, but it's without a doubt one of the most honest reactions to the death of a loved one I've ever read. And Schierke being such a MoeShrinking Violet with No Social Skills at the best of times only made it worse, as she has just lost the only person she is truly comfortable with, and (at the time) sees little hope of having that sort of companionship ever again.
Not to mention the fact that her next thoughts are of how the beautiful, tranquil house in the woods where she spent so many happy days has burnt up.
Also when Guts meets Griffith again, and Griffith said that he met Guts to see if he'd feel anything, but realized that nothing would sway his heart, and Guts yells "Nothing?! All that you did?! Everyone you betrayed?! And you don't feel one thing?!" What makes this even worse is the whole scene takes place at the graveyard of the Band of the Hawk, the people that Griffith betrayed and killed. OUCH.
Not to mention poor Rickert would have brought Griffith up there having no clue what he had done and was overjoyed to tears at his return only to have to watch as Guts appears and tries to kill Griffith in confusion and try to stop the fight only to be told of the Hawks fate by Guts afterwords.
Additionally, that's not actually the first time they met after the Eclipse. It's pretty easy to forget, since for just about everyone the story only really starts with the several-volumes-long flashback to Guts' youth, but if you go back to the very beginning of the story, you'll remember that Guts met the entire God Hand again after he nearly killed the Count. It's not as jarring as it could be at first, since at that point you're not entirely aware of who exactly they are and what the relationship between Femto and Guts is, but if you go ahead and re-read the series, seeing the way Femto speaks to and of Guts is quite sad; This is, chronologically speaking, the first time we hear Griffith speaking as Femto; you didn't really need to hear him open his mouth to know he was a monster, since his actions during the Eclipse cement that beyond reasonable doubt; hearing him talk so haughty, arrogant, callous, and dismissively of someone he malignantly betrayed and tortured (partly for his own amusement) is just the nail in the coffin)
Worst of all for me was the grimly inevitable death of Rosine, Dark Magical Girl and Big Bad of the Lost Children arc — an imaginative little girl runs away from her abusive father, seeking the fairies she's always dreamed of, eventually selling her soul in an attempt to find happiness, only to be cut and shot to pieces in the bloodiest, most brutal fashion possible. And the real kicker? It's Guts that kills her, not to stop her from hurting anyone else in her madness, but because his hatred for all Apostles and demons in general has overridden any level of sympathy he may have had for her.
No...I'd say the real kicker is thinking back to the first few volumes and remembering that selling your soul to the Godhand is a guaranteed ticket to Hell.
That's less of a kicker than a cheerful guarantee that Griffith himself might eventually get what's coming to him.
The cheerful part vanishes when you realize Guts and Casca will definitely follow him.
It's also mentioned, of course, that anyone sacrificed in the creation of an Apostle also goes to Hell. Griffith didn't just betray the Band of the Hawk to some of the most nightmarish deaths imaginable, he also condemned their souls to Hell forever.
The especially heartbreaking part about Rosine's death was her thoughts during her final flight, particularly "I'd better get home quick... My parents... They'll be worried about me..." And then you remember how horrible her home life was before she became an Apostle...
Poor Griffith after his year of torture. When Guts finally rescued him and they saw each other for the first time in a year, Griffith raised his hand to Guts' neck. Guts was too stricken with grief to notice that Griffith hated him now, and he just cried over his disfigured body. At this point, stuff like this happened regularly, such as Griffith learning of Guts and Casca's relationship, and his pathetic attempts at suicide. Despite all the stuff he's done after, sometimes one can still feel sympathy for the poor sucker.
After what he went through, what hebecame is completely understandable. Which only makes it EVEN WORSE.
Serpico's backstory, to elaborate he spends his childhood in poverty with a terribly sick mother whose mental health is growing worse. He is repeatedly beaten by the other street urchins. Eventually he is found by Farnese and is taken in as her personal servant, where he is put through all kinds of abuse that terrified her previous servants. Years later his mother's mental health has worsened to the point that she no longer recognizes Serpico as her son, due to her mental state she is accused of being a witch. When Serpico sees his mother on a stake he is noticeably broken, but to prove that he is not a heretic as well Farnese forces him to burn his own mother.
Just the thought of what might happen to this girl is heartbreaking enough. Even though her father was a monster (Morality Pet notwithstanding), he was the only person that she had in this shitty world, and in reality, was the only one protecting her. It just goes to show that it takes a monster to protect the ones you love against other monsters. It also just makes you want to turn around and say to Guts, "what the HELL hero?!?"
If we were to interject with the non-canonical 2000 Dreamcast game Sword of the Berserk: Guts' Rage toward the end, after Guts defeats a huge mandragora monster that was possessing Casca, she regains her memory for a brief moment, since the mandragora makes sane people insane and vice versa in Casca's state. The two can only share a fragment of a moment with each before the possession wears off and Casca reverts back to her insane state, leaving Guts in utter despair once again.
In the PS2 video game, there is a scene where the Band of the Hawk is re-animated by the Big Bad of the game (I can't be really precise since there's a lack of translations circulating). Guts has to fight all of them, including Casca as she was before she went insane, and once each of them is defeated, they fade away while making their own, what I think would be, emotional departure. Casca's scene is especially emotional from what I can tell, as she is dying/disappearing in Guts' arms. They share some words, and as she tenderly strokes Guts' cheek, she disappears. After seeing both scenes from both video games, I sense a lot of Died in Your Arms Tonight motifs with Guts and Casca. Doesn't make it any less sad.
Guts' breakdown in volume 9, when memories of his tragic childhood reduces him to a babbling and crying wreck for a few pages. And this was before the Eclipse.
Guts: "Why...? Why'd he sell me out to that pig bastard...?"
Breaks me up each time I read that line.
Fortunately he then finds out women just can't resist a good, honest woobie and his life briefly becomes a lot better.
Guts: "When was the last time she smiled?"
As if the Lost Love Montages that Guts had before he set out to rescue Casca were heartbreaking enough, the ones that come after the crappy events in volume 23 just twists a rusty knife into your heart. In fact, the entire love between Guts and Casca is one big Tear Jerker. The two of them finally found love with each, healing emotional wounds that the both of them had, only for them to be cruelly torn apart from one another mere days after admitting their feelings. Though he failed Casca once and she can't love him back now, Guts tries to make the most of their situation, but it seems that he can't even do the simple task of making her smile anymore, a small thing that would do so much for Guts' current emotional state. And now, all Guts has to keep his grip on things are the few memories of the happier times that he and Casca spent together. Oh, Guts!
Made all the worse by the fact that Guts' desperation to protect Casca, combined with his own frustrations and inner conflicts means that his Black Dog will keep trying to kill Casca because she is literally the only thing that is stopping Guts from becoming a monster. If Guts abandons her, the Black Dog wins, if he stays with her he puts her (and anyone in a ten mile radius) in danger from himself and the huge number of ghosts that are attracted to two branded people... Guts situation isn't just depressingly bleak, it's heart breakingly hopeless
She's hardly ever talked about, being the Disposable Woman of Berserk, but Sys' brief story is sad with a little bittersweetness added to the mix. A woman who lost her child and almost goes insane with grief is spared that fate by finding baby Guts and raising him as her own child (even going back that far is a little heartbreaking, since Guts started his life as an innocent baby just like everyone else). We don't actually see how Sys raised him during those three years, but during her death scene you can't help but get a feeling of sadness and happiness, since she died holding Guts' hand when he went to her side fearlessly despite that she was dying of the plague. Sys might have died horribly, but she died happily. This moment made me realize that even though Guts didn't really talk about Sys, he did love her as mother and he knew that she loved him back, so maybe he didn't feel the need to talk about her for that reason (unlike his relationship with his adoptive father).
The end of episode 330 of the manga. Chich, the little elf that Guts encountered in prison as a boy before meeting the Band of the Hawk, used up all of her power to selflessly help him. Healing his wounds, giving him water, and providing warmth caused her flower to wilt and die. And after all that, the flower provides a distraction that manages to save Guts from getting shot with a crossbow. Guts, who offered to plant her in a meadow where he saw other flowers like her, can only hold a little funeral of sorts for her there afterward. His face alone speaks volumes.
This scene is even more tragic because of the contrast with one of the earliest scenes in the manga; the bit where Puck rescues Guts from a prison cell. Just look at how gentle and kind the younger Guts was when he met an elf that was even more of a Motor MouthSmall Annoying Creature than Puck, and compare that with the way Guts treats Puck at the start. It also provides a possible reason for Guts being so cold towards Puck, if he didn't want a repeat of what happened to Chich.