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Tear Jerker: Daring Do
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The last scene of the last chapter of Trials of Unity, just…oh merciful Celestia, it took me three tries before I could finish it all the way through. The Do siblings and Dad are gathered around a picture of Mom and lit candles, having a much, much over-due cathartic memorial moment where they can all say good-bye as a family. The fact that the kids never got to say good-bye to their mother had been an Arc Theme throughout the books where all three of the siblings were involved, and this was their chance to finally get some closure as a family. And then Darrin started singing The Parting Glass, and soon everypony else joined in. Considering the last chapter had the siblings make up, it was a bit jarring.
Herpy's depression in "Disappearance" in The Wooden Mask. By the time the chapter ends, he's drinking Apple Cider, drowning his sorrows due to not being able to find any lead to finding Daring, who disappeared.
Lightning Kicker's funeral in Staff of Star Swirl.
Herpy in particular took it really hard. Lightning Kicker was one of his best friends. The moment where he tried to read his eulogy, only to break down into tears, and having Daring Do read it for him while he cries into her shoulder was very hard to read.
That's not the worst part. That would be when he first got the news. Dear Celestia, that's probably the most heartbreaking moment in the series. Poor Herpy.
In Griffon's Goblet, Professor Storm Talon, who has been an enormous hardcase throughout his first appearance, has a very rare vulnerable moment with Daring, in which Storm reveals the circumstances of his argument with Daren Do, Daring's Disappeared Dad and Storm's best friend, prior to his disappearance (this scene obviously taking place before Daren is revealed to be alive in ''Curse of the Yeti). Storm very clearly blames himself for Daren's disappearance, and is struggling to keep his composure during the scene, with Daring's attention drawn to Storm's good claw digging tightly into the side of the table. This scene has become so famous that the remake of The Karate Colt had a Shout Out to the dialogue.
Storm: You know the real kicker of it all, though? I don't even remember what the buck we were arguing about in the first place... I hope to Celestia it was somethin' important...
This makes the scene in Curse of the Yeti where Storm and Daren meet again and reconcile, in their own awkward way, all the more Heartwarming.
Sweeney Trot's backstory is pretty sad. At first, he was an ordinary barber named Benjamin Gaiter. Then, he was driven mad by grief at the death of his beloved wife, and eventually had his baby daughter Linnet Bird be taken away from him. The kicker? Hoovett knew where Linnet was the entire time. Linnet was right next door to her dad and he doesn't know until it's too late. Even Daring was horrified when she found out what Hoovett did.
Daring finding out that Linnet-the-innocent-townsfilly and Linnet-Sweeney's-long-lost-daughter are the same pony is pretty heartbreaking.
And all of a sudden, something clicked.
"What was her biological last name, if I may?" Daring asked, trying her best to sound casual.
Sweeney realizing that the filly living next door is actually his daughter. Especially since he was snippy with her in an earlier scene.
Following his murder of Ms. Hoovett, Sweeney sits quietly in the bakery kitchen next to the stove in which Hoovett's rapidly-cooling ashes are stored. Sweeney contemplates the fact that his daughter is alive, and if this is a sign from the heavens.
"What if this is a second chance? I could stop. Right now. Close the bakery, the police would never know if I hid the evidence. I could tell Linnet who I am. I could start again. Do I really want this life? Do I want my old life? Do I want to be Benjamin Gaiter again? A barber, living on dreams and haircuts?…Of course not. What a silly question.
Swinn and Dell's argument in Cove of Candles. Despite how morally questionable they can be, it's heartwrenching to see these two sisters, who have been nigh-inseparable throughout their various appearances, get into such a fight. The two start off blaming each other for the failures of their various schemes, and ends with the two personally insulting each other before outright disowning each other... before storming off to two different areas of the hotel and crying, both clearly regretting what they had said. Of course, their reconciliation later on is positively adorable.
In Alicorn's Shadow: Sebastius Mareton is held at knifepoint by Derring, Daring's older sister…and Mareton simply begins talking to her. By bringing up and mocking her Daddy Issues and hidden inferiority complex, Mareton reduces Derring from cocky, headstrong adventurer, to a sobbing heap.
Mareton: So go ahead, turn me in. Perhaps they'll even get your name right this time.
Mareton: Oh, no need to pretend around me, Miss Do. I've read the papers. Some over-eager young newspony hears the latest story about one Derring Do finding the latest long-lost artifact. And after all, you and your sister's name sound so similar, it's a wonder anypony can tell you two apart.
Derring:(all traces of smile gone) That's enough. Get moving.
Mareton: And I can only imagine how awkward it must get when some foal asks for your autograph, then gets all sad and dejected when he realizes it's not the right Daring Do.
Derring: I said stop it.
Mareton: How nice of your beloved sister to repay you like that. Years of looking after your two brats of younger siblings after your father skipped out on you, and what do you have to show for it? A sister who steals your thunder by finding more hidden treasures than you ever could and getting credit for the ones you find.
Mareton: But I honestly can't blame your father for that. What father would want to waste his time with an eldest child who can't even take the reins of her own life, no matter how much she talks about it? Little Derring Do, always wanting to be the best, to leave everypony else in the dust. Never letting on that, deep down, she's nothing but a scared little child who doesn't want to be left all alone. What a disappointment you must have been to him. And do you know why, you whining brat?
Derring:(crying) Please…stop it…
Mareton:It's because you aren't main character material. In the great big stage play that is your sister's life, you're nothing but a supporting character. You're a cog in the machine. A footnote in history. You're not your own pony, you're a sheep that thinks it's a wolf. And you can never change that, no matter how hard you try. No matter how many lost civilizations you find, bad guys you stop, or lives you save, you will never be anything more than "Daring Do's Sister."
Darrin's account of how Derring abandoned him and Daring after Daring was old enough to care for herself and her brother.
"She didn't even say goodbye. She didn't even leave a note. She just…left. Daring and I woke up one morning, and she was gone. We…we'd thought something had happened. We thought she might be dead, for Celestia's sake! And then we see her name in the news…She wasn't dead. No, it was far worse than that. She wasn't dead, she just left us. She just wanted to get away from us. She even never called or wrote us letters. Derring didn't care what happened to us back then, and if she gives a buck what happens to us now, I'll eat my hat."
Daring muttering to herself in the third book that she hates going on adventures that endanger her family. Especially saddening is that this is right before her father has a battle with the yeti and gets thrown into a wall.
In Amber Of The Smooze, Charity breaks down and starts crying about how only Smooze can smother the still-burning dragon flames that killed her platoon, so she can release their souls from their fiery torment, as well as confessing how guilty she felt over abandoning her watch which nearly led to her sister's death (it did lead to her sister's death, but she had Sweetie Golem built to avoid that reality). Juxtaposing how how much she wants peace for her comrades and how much she misses her sister to how utterly deluded she is.
Desert Rose gets arrested at one point, and Daring goes to bail her out. Not only does Desert Rose try to refuse bail, she bursts into tears, as she feels that she deserves to be in jail for lying to Daring and making Gypsy Bard's life even more complicated.
Sweetie Bottle not only learns about her sister's death, but that she's a golem, a supposedly unliving being.
Sweetie Bottle:If I am just an automaton, why do I miss her? Why do I feel an empty void within myself at her passing? Does this unit have a soul?
At the end of Return of the Fire of Friendship, the funeral of Princess Blue Blood.
The latter half of Star Shimmer's flashback in The Obsidian Sentinel, starting with her reaction to Earth Song's death and subsequent downward spiral into sorrow.
A brief moment happens when the Sentinel mocks her about Earth Song's death. At one point, it claims that it was her fault that Earth Song died in the first place...which she agrees with.
Daring's reaction when she learns the secret of the Basin of Plenty.
We knew from Curse of the Yeti that Daring blamed herself for Zapapple Tock's death. But the part in Ballad of Chickerufus when we see Daring come back to the campsite to find what's left of her foalhood friend...
Rex's final death scene in Vaults of Celestia. For all of Rex's horrible characteristics, he demonstrated a loyalty to his mistress that would make the Elements proud.
The death of Whitefrock and his subsequent funeral in The Skull of Ages.
Fuergott's backstory in Burning Heart: She was the fabled Princess who was slipped Love Poison and whose kingdom was destroyed by dragon fire as a result, thus forming the foundation for Hearts and Hooves Day. Forced into adoration of unsavory suitor she did not love, neither were able to perform their royal duties and defend the kingdom when a dragon attacked and burned it to the ground. With her poisoner dead in the fire, she vowed revenge upon his bloodline, and was condemned to Tartarus for the murder of his sister. A thousand years of voluntarily standing in the boiling pitch of Tartarus's moat later, Fuergott has mastered the power of fire, and plans to destroy Equestria in flames. Upon learning that the destruction of the kingdom she ruled and loved has become the inspiration for a holiday based on love, the very thing that caused it's destruction, Fuergott loses any hope she may have had for ponykind, calling it "A holiday founded on lies and greed." In particular, attention is called to the infamous Love Poison rhyme, known to many potion-crafters, with the lines altered to reflect Fuergott's backstory.
When Herpy gets shot with the Hoof-Held Cannon, and seemingly dies in Tinker's Seal. Daring's reaction- multiple small, tearful No's- will draw tears out of anypony.
When Desert Rose verbally smacks down The Assembler for its actions, she mentions how she's had to put down animals that were too far gone to save. She becomes visibly distressed of having to talk about not only having to do a Mercy Kill toward the creatures that she loves, but also because it sickens her about how such behavior reminds her of the Colt Leader.
In Tinker's Seal, Tabula Rasa's reaction when she finds out that not only did Rayback go against her wishes and snuck off with Storm and Ghoul, but the excursion went right to Tartarus.
During the subplot in Steam Whistle's abandoned workshop, Desert Rose and Starlight find an ancient audio recording of the tinker himself. While he expresses happiness and hope that what he's doing will save Equestria from the soul-stealing demon, there's a real sense of loss to his speech, as he wonders how things came to be that he's spent so much of his life on this crusade.
Steam Whistle:*sighs bitterly* Look at my hooves. There aren't the good and steady hooves they used to be. These are an old stallion's hooves. How did that happen?
Steam Whistle's diary entry on the Wandering Whistle details his reasons for making it: just to see his beloved sister's face one last time, even if it was just as a ghost. The sad part? He states that it wasn't worth it.
"Having had that one, wonderful moment of her, that moment I've dreamed of for years…makes the fact that she's gone now all the worse. She asked me to move on, and not to resurrect her soul again. I certainly think I can do the latter."
Later on, during one of the interludes, Daring is seen examining the Whistle in her office at the university. She goes over exactly what it can do, and then digs around in her drawer. She comes up with a old photograph of herself and Zapapple Tock. She stares at the picture wistfully for several seconds, and then the whistle…she then slams the drawer shut and and storms out, leaving the whistle on the desk. No dialogue, no inner thoughts. Just pure emotion on Daring's part.
Later on, we get this:
Storm Talon: ^&*#ing thing doesn't work.
Sweetie Bottle's subplot, as she struggles with whether she can consider herself to be "real" or not. Especially this line to Claddie and the Marksmare, who both have emotions despite being Golems.
Sweetie Bottle:Please…teach me how to feel alive again…
The Colt Leader manages to steal the Wandering Whistle, and confronts the ghost of her abuser.
Colt Leader: Why? Why did you take me away and strand me in that world and do all those things to me? Gas Whole: I wanted you to be strong Desert Rose. Colt Leader: I didn't want to be strong! I wanted to go home! And I wanted a father who cared!
Herpsworth, the Mirror Universe Herpy, to an extent. Mirror!Herpy is the cold, aloof, and bitterly sarcastic Dragon to Evil!Daring. Very little background is given on him, leading fans to wonder what happened to make the goofy, happy-go-lucky Herpy we know and love into this emotionless shell.
The Smooze Universe, the Assembler Universe, and any of the other universes where our Heroes failed.
Almost as bad, are the worlds where they actually did better, like Daren not getting lost when looking for the Platinum Crown, or Lightning Kicker was saved in time, leading to survivor's guilt because they have conclusive proof that yes, they could have done better.
Normal!Herpy: You could have saved [Lightning Kicker]…
The Do Siblings: Mom?
The Marksmare gets to see alt997!Claddie get torn to pieces by the Colt Leader. She immediately runs off to find the normal Claddie and hugs him, trying to convince herself he's still with them. While confused at first, he returns it when he's told what she saw.
In Fires of Family, the Fire forces the Dos to share their negative feelings toward each other over the years they spent separated. Examples include:
Daring showing her father her nightmares of ending up a nopony, forever lost in his shadow.
Darrin using his feelings on Derring's leaving to motivate him in sports, often picturing his opponents as her so he'd be able to tackle/box/wrestle more effectively.
Derring's anger at the fact that Daring got to have a head-start on her, allowing her to enter in archaeology when she was old enough while Derring lost over a decade waiting for the others to reach the age of maturity so she could finally pursue her own dream.
Daren's feelings of utter helplessness and sorrow that he couldn't contact his kids in the years he spent trapped while looking for the Platinum Crown.
In Ruby of the Blank Village, Ruby's desperate pleas to Mitta after Mitta sold her out to Starlet and Greyhoof.
Even if he was an evil bastard for such a long time, you can't help but feel sorry for Greyhoof at the end of Mirror Pool.
Kimmy's arc in the Blood Diamonds series. First she's tortured into insanity, then when Saberplume learns that she's recovering her mind he kills her. She relapses into her delusion world before she dies.
In Witch's Circus: even though he got a lot of work done while in a trance, Okpono was still enchanted, and only hours away from dying of old age. Daring's reaction to seeing him rapidly aged is heartbreaking.
Some of the townsponies died, including Herpy's oldest surviving foalhood friend.
An excerpt from Alicorn Amulet gives us a flashback of Princess Sparkler trying to claim her birthright. The one who helped her find the evidence in the first place betrayed her because he realized she wasn't trying to blackmail her mother, so he switched out the evidence with obviously forged documents and then framed her. Trying to extort from a member of royalty (especially with manufactured evidence) is a form of lesser treason, so Princess Sparkler was banished to a rock farm while her partner reaped the reward money for exposing a conspiracy against the royal house. The clincher is Princess Sparkler's unheeded pleas to her mother, who ignored her because this wasn't the first time somepony tried to profit off her secret shame, and this was more pathetic an attempt than usual. What's worse is that because he does have the right documents, he is in a position to blackmail her mother.
In Cloudfall Conspiracy, Serpentine's death. It's made abundantly clear that she's terrified of Sterling Silver, and when she tries to get out of her relationship with him... Of course, the manner in which she dies is pure, concentrated Nightmare Fuel.
Masra's death. Placed as the scapegoat by the School Board for the bombing of the University Offices, eventually being informed that she's being replaced, learning that this entire fiasco has been organized by someone with clear reason to hate her, and eventually bleeding to death after being wounded during Silver's siege on the university.
In, Daring Do and the Breathing Weapons, seeing Eichelhäher finally succumbing to the degeneration of her own mind as a result of the experimentation that gave her her phantom-esque powers and becoming nothing more than a snarling beast is rather heartbreaking.
At first, you're ready to hate Eichelhäher for willingly being an experiment of Krahe's, and then you go right back into pitying her when it's learned that she only did so because to try and fix the horrible mess that her life was, always being pushed around and exploited by others more powerful than her, and even after practically being turned into a zombie, Krahe and the others still push her around and mistreat her. The only thing she's actually guilty of in the story is helping them steal the gems from the University. Poor girl.
Spottdrossel and Falke are pretty tragic too. They were both discharged from the military with severe cases of PTSD that would cause them to snap and become extremely violent and hostile. Krahe managed to get them before they could receive care and molded them into the cold, killing machines they are in the story. They are killed when they accidentally cross each other's line of fire and are shot to bits. Even Daring comments on how sad it is.
The same goes for Eule and Henne. It's considered worse than Spottdrossel and Falke's history. Despite the brainwashing Krahe has subjected them to, they still have an innate desire to help others, such as Eule healing Daring after being poisoned by Papagei and Henne taking care of a battered Arzt. Thankfully, they have a bit of a happier ending, as it's revealed in subsequent material that they are currently receiving care at a mental health facility to reverse the damage done by Krahe.
Even Rabe isn't free from this. It's heavily implied that he's Krahe's brother, and was openly against his ideas of experimentation and Anarchy, only to have Krahe mold his mind to turn him into his right hand griffon.
The reveal that Daring and Arzt's old friend, Taube, who up until that point had merely been presumed missing, has been subjected to horrible experiments for the past ten years that turned her into the so-called, "perfect weapon", at the cost of her mind and any memory she had of the pair. It really solidifies Krähe's unforgivable monster status, as if his treatment of Papagei weren't enough to do so already.
The fact that they're forced to fight her while she's under Krahe's influence is even more so. They're trying their best to not hurt her, and begging her to remember them. The worst part? The book implies that there is still a piece of Taube that realizes what she's doing, and she's crying on the inside due to being powerless to stop it.
The music included on the soundtrack for the final showdown with Taube and Krahe doesn't help
In Crimson, Black, and Blue, the hatchlings' song seems like a childish lullaby at first. After multiple readings, you realize it's about three dragons who have spent their entire lives lost in the very forest Daring is trying to find them in. The repeated line, "we are lost, we are lost" gets more and more depressing the more you go over the song.
We are lost, we are lost
Which way is home? We fear we'll never know.
We are lost, we are lost
Out here, it may be cold, but maybe grow old.
We are lost, we are lost
The stars show no way, we'll be here the rest of our days
We are lost, we are lost
At least we're still as one, though our time will never come...
It hits even harder when the song's real meaning learned, when it's discovered that the trio have all been cursed to be children forever, and will most likely never remember where their homeland is.
Black Bloom's reason for turning the dragon-trio into children in the first place. All his life, they treated him like a helpless child, even going so far as to sabotage his chance at becoming a knight for Celestia because he was "too young".
In the recent (and controversial) TV broadcast of the Gardens of Equestria movie begins with a pointless Framing Story edited in featuring the cast of Equicide Life on the Streets investigating the murder of an elderly Daring, whose will tells the main story. It's a bit of a shock to see Daring both decrepit and, you know, dead with cuts all over her body. The worst part? We never find out what happened to Future!Daring.
The as yet unsolved death of EU author Gusty Lulamoon, not helped by the fact that it occured in the same forest in which she'd set Ruby of the Blank Village. Her longtime friends J. Thunderlane Hurricane Jr. and Ember Roundup wrote an In Memoriam for her in Tinker's Seal, and it was clear the two hadn't been holding up well even a year later.