Elizabeth's briefly successful attempt to heal a dying horse in an early gameplay trailer. Her reaction to her failure is heartbreaking.
When the Songbird first searches for Elizabeth, Elizabeth tearfully asks Booker to promise something for her. Booker promises he'll deal with the Songbird, but that's not what Elizabeth wants. In a heartbreaking moment, she puts Booker's hand around her throat and begs him to promise to kill her before the Songbird can have her. Booker flatly states that it'll never come to that. If you've played the game before and know Elizabeth's real relationship with Booker, it becomes even more horrifying.
The gameplay actually makes the scene even more freaky - Songbird looks MUCH BIGGER!
Booker doesn't immediately tell Elizabeth that she's actually a package he was sent to retrieve, and he even tells her that he'll take her to Paris when they escape Columbia. When Elizabeth finally realizes the truth after all of her excitement, she doesn't respond. She just breaks down in tears for the longest time, utterly crushed. And then it turns out she was faking it so she could whack Booker in the face a wrench.
The entire ending crosses with this and a Wham Episode. It turns out Booker is Comstock, and thanks to manipulation in The Multiverse, ended up convincing himself to give over his daughter, Anna, who grew up into Elizabeth. Booker would become Comstock after using his baptism to forget his past, which went horribly right, in one universe, while a different version of himself refused. And the only way to stop all of it is to drown Booker before the baptism so none of it ever happens.
The sound of Booker's voice when he realizes that Elizabeth is his daughter is especially heartbreaking.
And after that realization dawns, three words are enough. "I sold you... I. Sold you...".
There's also his desperate voice during that scene: ''Anna!" "ANNA!"
The Songbird's death should count. Being drowned at the bottom of the sea, whilst Elizabeth looks on, sadly telling it to let go, while it screams in agony and tries to reach her. Sure, it was built to be an abusive partner, but it obviously loved her in its own twisted way, and she cared for it too.
The Songbird's eyes finally switch to green just before dying, indicating it's in a peaceful mood, having decided to Face Death with Dignity.
Oh, and did you notice the Little Sister crying over a dead Big Daddy in the background, just after Songbird's death? That's how Elizabeth could've been.
Arguably made just a litle bit sadder, once you've played the Burial DLC, and see just what Songbird went through, and how it pair bonded with Elizabeth in the first place.
Elizabeth turns out to be right that she'll be killing Comstock. And it's a Heroic Sacrifice, since killing her father wipes herself from existence, as each version of her vanishes.
The entire sorry state of affairs, the building of Columbia and all its ills, Elizabeth's dimensional kidnapping, lifelong imprisonment, and later emotional and physical torture ALL of it traces back to the fact that Rosalind Lutece managed to contact her male alternate dimensional counterpart, fell in love with him, and made a deal with the devil (Comstock) to fund building a gate to reach him. Without her Comstock would just be another crazy small time cult leader.
Hindsight example. At the beginning of the game, you see a Handyman on display before a large crowd; far from being proud of his new body, he's hunched, cowering, trying to cover his face and jerking in alarm at every camera flash. Learning a little more about the Handymen makes this scene really depressing: before being made into a cyborg, this guy had a life of his own, likely a family; then, after suffering debilitating injuries or terminal illness, he was given a chance to survive and possibly even live forever... only to end up getting permanently grafted to a huge, awkward and decidedly ugly body. And then, as if losing any chance at a normal life wasn't bad enough, the Founders demanded services in return: he was put to work killing people (even worse if the Handyman was a civilian beforehand), making him even more feared by his fellow citizens. And on fair-day, this poor bastard was pushed out onto a stage and told to sit there while everyone in Colombia gawked at him. Let's face it, the Handymen have it just as bad as the Big Daddies, if not worse: Mr Bubbles and co were brainwashed and effectively mindless by the time of Jack's arrival, so they didn't have to cope with seeing their entire lives slip through their fingers; and at least the Big Daddies had friends and companions in the form of the Little Sisters. The Handymen have lost everything.
There's a part where you find an audio diary of a woman whose husband suffered injuries and was turned into a handy man. Later in the game, you find two Vox soldiers posing in front of a dead Handyman, getting their picture taken and giving thumbs up like hunters with a kill. The Handyman is holding an audio diary from the same woman, a recording of herself telling him to listen to her voice when his rages come, because she will always stand by him, and promises to meet him again where they'll both be whole - at the gates of Heaven. She ends by saying, "I love you. I love you. I love you."
Buried in the Handyman's various combat quotes is a phrase that makes their suffering all the more worse— "Comstock took my body away...wasn't even sick!" That's right, there may be Handymen who were simply abducted from their families, gutted like fish, and bolted into a walking iron lung just because Comstock and Fink wanted more workers.
She never got to see Paris after all.
Towards the end of the game, all Booker wants to do is to forget about the deal and take her to Paris. The strain in his voice makes everything sadder.
The song "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" becomes a massive Tear Jerker after you finish the game, by the virtue of both reflecting the intrinsically tragic plot of the game and in its standalone right, being a song about accepting the mortality of your loved ones and family members. And if that's not enough to make you bawl, listen to the OST version of the song — you don't need to listen very closely to hear that Courtnee Draper is basically fighting back tears herself by the end.
And in that same vein, the first song that plays over the end credits, after witnessing the end and knowing what you know now - the already-sombre barbershop quartet version of "God Only Knows."
Burial At Sea, Episode 2. Events come full circle for the Franchise, to the first titles Good Ending with Jack and the little sisters. At great cost to Elizabeth. What she did will never be known.
Right before Booker and Elizabeth enter the universe where Booker becomes Comstock after his baptism, she asks him if this is really what he wants, but you can tell how heartbroken she is in her voice. Even though she knows that this is the only way to stop Comstock, she's still heartbroken by what she has to do.
All the songs become tearjerkers themselves after one playthrough.
"Goodnight, Irene", the song that the crowd sings as the player approaches the raffle, seems to be from Booker's perspective and implies that he really misses his departed wife and looks forward to his dreams at night just so that he can spend time with her again.
It's a bit of a small one, but there's a hidden area in Comstock House after the Vox take Columbia, in which the music stops and you hear the radio announcer ask for help. The tone of fear in his voice is just unnerving. Also, doubles as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming in that he's still broadcasting music even in the midst of all-out warfare.
Hearing Elizabeth be tortured through the tears in the Asylum, begging for mercy and desperately saying she'll be "Comstock's Daughter" is just gutwrenching. Worse is the obvious panic in Booker's voice every time he says anything during that portion of the game.
The announcement you hear in the projection room in Comstock house. Coupled with the music that plays, it is rather tragic if you think about it.
When you get to Emporia for the first time, the residents are attempting to flee the area in fear of the Vox Populi. You pass a barge attempting to escort people away and a hear a husband trying to convince his wife to jump so she doesn't get left behind. The wife is crying hysterically that she's too terrified to jump. The voice acting of the distraught woman will rip your heart out. The moment loses some of its gravitas when you look back to see the barge leaving and no one is left on the ledge (implying that she and the others there made it after all) but it's still heart wrenching to see.
There is a brief segment between Port Prosperity and Emporia, where during a lull in the action, Elizabeth somberly regards the dozens of dead civilians left lying around in the wake of the Vox uprising, kneeling near a dead man and saying, "Look at this one...do you think he wanted any of this?". She then folds his arms in a dignified pose and places a rose in his hands before hurrying along with Booker to their next destination.
Even Booker's office is a bit sad when you look around it enough. There's bottles and decks of cards strewn about, showing his addiction to gambling and drink. But there's a bed in the corner, and the other only room is Anna's room. This makes you stop and think: That possibly Booker had enough debt to the point that he had to sell his house!
If he even had a house in the first place... That apartment may have been all he ever had, even before the debts.
The Stinger is a happy Tear Jerker because it implies Anna is in the crib and Booker will finally get to live a normal life with his daughter.
Something that overlaps with Fridge Horror can be found in this post: which suggests that your Elizabeth is never saved from indoctrination.
Lady Comstock's audio recordings are increasingly difficult to listen to, as the woman becomes more and more disillusioned by her husband's actions, but feels she can't call him out on them because she once considered herself beyond redemption too, but Comstock offered it anyway. And when she does finally break and decides to confront her husband... he kills her in cold blood, using her as a martyr to further his own goals. And that's not even talking about that time when he forcibly resurrects her and treats her to a Fate Worse Than Death, so he could use her to kill Booker, and get Elizabeth.
Out of all the tragedies in this list, absolutely none compare to the flying city itself. Columbia, the ultimate embodiment of mankind's hopes and dreams, the epitome of ingenuity, the bastion of progress and the potential epoch of a glorious future, is utterly twisted and deformed into an absolute nightmare filled with racism, unethical experimentation, false salvation, slavery, unstable timelines, mechanical monstrosities and broken dreams. Seeing something so beautiful become twisted by the same forces that helped build is absolutely depressing for any player. When Booker and Elizabeth change the timeline so that the city never existed, it's like Travis forcing himself to shoot his beloved Old Yeller who has become rabid to put it out of its misery.
In Infinite, this Voxophone, recorded by the Booker who became a martyr for the Vox.
Songbird in general. While it's a monster, the Songbird can't actually help what it is. It used to be a human being, but it's been altered in a way that makes the handymen look like they've received a mild cosmetic surgery. It genuinely loves Elizabeth like a daughter, but it has no idea how to express that in an appropriate way because it's literally incapable of considering that its behavior might be to her detriment. While it's incredibly dangerous and needs to be stopped before it can harm either Elizabeth or Booker (or pretty much everyone in Columbia, frankly), it's a tragic villain completely at the mercy of modifications made to it by a religious zealot and his hyper-capitalist lackeys.
Burial at Sea
Listen to Sally's screams of pain as you turn up the heat on the vents in an effort to flush her out of the heating ducts.
After the ending of the first episode, you might actually feel sorry for this version of Comstock.
For extra tearjerker points, compare the scene to how it played out in the main game, and how that Booker reacted when he remembered. Constants and variables, indeed...
This version of Comstock seemed regretful and it seems strange that Elizabeth and the Luteces were holding him in such contempt when it seemed like he'd at least partially redeemed himself, until you remember that instead of living with his guilt like Booker did, Comstock ran away from it and became someone else. Again.
Made even worse if you assume this entire ordeal was a Secret Test of Character on Elizabeth's part to see if he had truly redeemed. This would certainly explains her Flat "What." when Comstock agrees with her suggestion to turn on the thermostat to lure Sally out, implying she didn't think he'd actually go through with it. Her anger is likely because this proved he'd not changed at all, putting his own desire for his "daughter" ahead of her safety.
The scene when Elizabeth and the Luteces are desperately persuading Comstock to not take Booker's beloved daughter, who is the only thing that makes him happy, away. It makes it even worse when you realize that Booker might have gone mad with grief.
Think about that scene even longer, if you can stomach it. The portal closes on Anna with her head on Comstock's side. Which means Booker was left holding the headless corpse of his child, who wouldn't have been in that situation if not for his own lapse of judgement.
Also from Burial At Sea, the sad fate of Moses Lydecker. After going through all the hard work of converting Fontaine's department store into a prison in just ten days, he's shot by sentry turrets, crippled in both legs, and left trapped inside the store just as Ryan sinks it to the bottom of the ocean. In desperation, he starts sending out audio logs begging for help through the pneumatic tubes, and every single one of them comes back unread. And just to make matters worse, the player comes across his beaten and bloody corpse right after seeing a Splicer step out of his hiding spot, implying that if Booker and Elizabeth had arrived just a little earlier, they could have saved him.
The haunting realization, as you travel around during Burial At Sea, that everyone you meet, every person you run into, is going to end up either dead or an insane splicer. And that, somewhere in all this mess, a tiny Jack Ryan is growing somewhere.
The fact that, given that Irrational is downsizing and being restructured into a smaller company, this may be the last BioShock game that the studio may make.
Elizabeth's increasingly Death Seeker attitude throughout Episode 2, particularly evident during her near-lobotomy at Atlas' hands, as well as when she knowingly walks to her own death, but not before jeering at Atlas simply to get on with it.
The ending of Episode 2. So terrible, so bittersweet and so very, very fitting.
Sally singing to Elizabeth as she dies.
It's heartbreaking to see Daisy realize that she's never going to see the revolution succeed if Elizabeth has to kill her. However, she agrees, knowing that Booker and Elizabeth will kill Comstock at the price of her dying for her cause.
Remember, or go watch a video, of Daisy as she died. She twists about and reaches out for Elizabeth in a desperate manner. This is not becoming of a ruthless maddened killer, but of someone who will never see her efforts come to fruition hoping upon hope that this person before them will see it through. It was the only time she actually SAW Elizabeth, the person she was sacrificing herself towards upon the Luteces advice
Elizabeth is absolutely terrified when Atlas is about to perform a trans-orbital lobotomy on her, but what's heartbreaking is her voice when Booker leaves her there.
Elizabeth: *Hysterical* Booker? P-Please! PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME HERE!
Booker's appearance in Episode 2 as a whole counts. When you realize who he is, his somber tone and calm voice even with Elizabeth's tougher moments hammer home how much Elizabeth really misses her father. And the almost apologetic tone he uses every time he has to remind her "I'm not Booker" takes the cake.
One thing people tend to miss is when Elizabeth asks the projection of Booker to "just humor her", it did not. It just keeps reminding her regretfully that is not booker.
The fact that Elizabeth never got a chance to have any kind of proper life, instead dying in a city as corrupt and horrific as the one she grew up in at the bottom of the ocean where no one even knew her name.
Elizabeth's rendition of "You Belong To Me", as heard over the radio in Rapture. Particularly if one interprets it as her unspoken feelings towards Booker, the father she never really got the chance to know.
The Fact from Myth trailer takes on a more painful tone after finishing the DLC. Especially since the woman in upstate New York who violently refuses to be interviewed after seeing a certain painting may very well be Sally, suggesting that she's still haunted by Elizabeth's death well into The Eighties.