Tear Jerker: El Goonish Shive

  • Lampshaded in the comic title here, but is an example nonetheless.
  • After Grace's birthday, we get to see Susan in an actual cheerful mood as she admires her new hair color. Which is then promptly ruined when said look brings up some very painful memories. Within seconds she's back to the Broken Bird we're all familiar with.
  • This may also count.
    • Best. Cookies. Ever.
  • And this. You can see the exact moment where Susan goes from being a literal Wide-Eyed Idealist into her current personality.
    Dan Shive (in commentary): I have frequently seen Susan described as having a "bored" look on her face. For a long time now, I have seen it as something else.
  • And this could count as well.
  • A very subtle one sandwiched in a joke strip, but one of the things Tedd imagines the "ideal" men that Grace rejects in favor for him is "Our mothers love us!" Ouch.
  • Ellen became a Death Seeker after she was convinced she had a [[cloneDegeneration month to live]] then she throws away that precious month to fight a monster attacking innocents. She wanted to be a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • This strip. What's worse is that is how Tedd acted in the main universe too, until he was given the TF Gun. Congratulations Shive, you've just made a seriously depressed five year old.
  • Justin's story about being outed and putting his life back together after meeting Elliot never fails to make this troper cry.
  • This strip, full stop. Nanase trying desperately to save her best friend and lover's life with the only spell that can possibly do anything to help, essentially eating away at her own life force every time she casts it, and having it fail time and again is nothing short of heart breaking for This Troper, regardless of how often he rereads it.
    • And let's not forget that she feels EVERYTHING the doll does. So, everytime the doll is killed, she feels it. And her doll is being cut in half with a battle axe. Most people wouldn't be able to withstand the pain of that once. She did it twelve times in a row, in quick succession. To the point where she collapses, but keeps going in the hopes of reinforcements that may or may not come.
      "God...help me..." She fully expected to die in the attempt to save Ellen. She kept going anyway.
      • In fact, the only reason she stops? She gains a spell that allows her to take the form of a Guardian Angel. And remember, spell casters in the series get spells that relate to who they are. Taken into account her actions, it's no surprise.
  • The resolution of Justin and Melissa. Knowing what they had beforehand, it just makes things worse.
  • This strip from the sketchbook really shows how complex the relationship between an author and his characters can be. Also, it made me cry.
  • in Sympathy for the Devil way Damien he was made by extremists who wanted him to usher Armageddon, he destroys everything he touches and he is desperate to find other labs. He isn't looking for an army, he's looking for a family. He was raised with fear and intimidation used to keep him in line and he used those tactics because he thought that's how authority figures are supposed to act. He's grace's Spear Counterpart. She had kindness. He had hate. They were led down different paths.
  • After Grace tells Tedd the truth about her "going for a walk":
    Tedd: You should have told me where you were going.
    Grace: I didn't want you to worry.
    Tedd: But you lied to me.
    Grace: It's okay to lie to people if you think it's for their own good!
    Tedd: Who gave you that idea?
    Grace [unhappily]: Everyone I have ever known ever.
  • "You look in the mirror, but someone else looks back. You remember a life you never had, one that cannot be yours. You are the piece that does not fit; you don't belong in this game. The board has been knocked over, you shall be swept away..."
  • A more subtle one with Susan trying to rationalize her attraction towards Elliot. Not only is she frustrated because she can't understand it, but there's a lot of guilt and self-esteem issues in the subtext. Despite all the Character Development she's had - especially with regards to Elliot - she's still a Broken Bird.
  • This right here. Diane realizes for the first time that she has biological family. It puts her previous denials into context and makes you realize that they're not her being dense, but actually her being in denial. Thinking about it, she hasn't had that all her life, and now at long last she does.
  • Here, we see a much more human side of the previously monstrous Vlad(ia). It is small, but poignant.
  • This strip depicts Tedd, who several strips prior was ecstatic about realizing that his gender fluidity was not unique and that there was a name for it, being afraid to tell his father about his magic mark, that grants him a "make your body the gender you feel-permanently" spell obviously related to that realization, for fear of disapproval.