- The fact that Caleb is willing to completely throw his former identity as an Abnegation, when he writes them off as selfish, right in front of his sister. It foreshadows that he's so easily swayed by Jeanine, he's willing to betray his only living family and leads her to her death. It's even worse in the movie, with Tris visibly crying when Caleb forces her to go.
Tris: (crying softly) Faction before blood, huh? Got it.
- Al's suicide.
- Will's death. For bonus points, it keeps coming back over and over again.
- Tris's parents. Both sacrifice themselves for her. Oh, it comes back over and over again, too, in case you're wondering.
- Uriah Pedrad, just Uriah Pedrad. A Perpetual Smiler Pretty Boy with plenty of friends, a loving Idiot Hero brother, and a caring mother, What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Oh, being forced to kill a bunch of innocent submissive civilians while in mind control, having his girlfriend killed and his best friend who's in love with said girlfriend die right in front of his eyes, being forced from his home, and then have a bomb blasted just to his head's side which causes a severe brain damage that ultimately leads to his death will do. And all the time, he's trying to cheer up everyone else who's as depressed and not as tolerating as he is (read: Tris and Tobias).
- The revelation that most of the faction members are genetically damaged, and the few Divergents are the ones who are normal. Tobias and Christina probably have the most reaction. Cara, too. Exemplified best with Tris' disgust after her final meeting with the Bureau Council, who yet again prove themselves to be epic Fantastic Racists.
Tris: Besides, they're already damaged.
- Tris's sacrifice. Christina screams her lungs out, with Cara only managing to give a hug while visibly crying herself. While Tobias just stands dazedly.
- "Can I be forgiven for all I've done to get here? I want to be. I can. I believe it."
- Chapter 52-54 of Allegiant. They consist of Tobias reminiscing about all the things he had done with Tris, who's now dead. Not a single one of them lasts half a page.
- Tobias's somber reflection after he comes to terms with Tris's death: "I suppose a fire that burns that bright is not meant to last."
- Even worse regarding Tris's death is that there was a moment where Christina and Tris have a conversation in which they both agree that they'll always have each other, no matter what. And then, pages later, Tris dies.
- Tris killing Will and the aftermath depicted, with Tris' mother comforting her.
- The death of Tris' mother, full stop. Probably Shailene Woodley's best acting to date - try to hold in the waterworks as this heartbreaking scene unfolds.
- What makes it even worse is that while Tris is cradling her mother's body, gunfire is going off around her. She screams at them to stop, but is forced to just leave the body there, unable to properly say goodbye to her mother.
- During the trial in Candor, Tris is forced to confess to killing Will under the truth serum. She desperately tries to fight revealing this. There are plenty of shots of Christina's reaction, which is even worse than in the books. In there she at least knew Will was dead. She still believes he's alive and just off somewhere else until the trial.
- There's also the death of Marlene. Forced to fall to her death because Tris and Tori couldn't get to her in time. The following scene is subtle but effective.
Evelyn: We took this from the body of the suicide.Lynn: Marlene! Her name was Marlene.
- The sudden and shocking death of Tori just as the others are getting over the wall. Tris tries to check on her and help her, but she has to be dragged away because Evelyn's troops are still firing.
- Even worse, when Tris's group reaches the wall, Tris tells Tori that they have made it, all while Tori smiles at this realisation. Cue the sudden gunshot.
- In the scene where Four participates in a 'rescue' of the Fringe, during a scuffle, a young boy's father is killed by a soldier when he is locked in an altercation. The boy later appears with his memories wiped from having a memory gas administered in him, meaning he will never remember his father and how he died at all.
- Although possibly the father would consider that amnesia less Tear Jerker and more a mercy.