Every time there is a flashback involving Lisanna, you can prepare yourself to wipe some tears from your eyes, because it is either this or a slightly less depressing Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. The anime expands her role and only makes it worse.
Then her return and her explanation. Especially the reunion between her and her real siblings.
Natsu and Happy's emotional reactions to seeing her in Edolas...especially in the anime with all the interspersed flashbacks.
In particular, both versions of Elfman drive this home. The way Edolas!Elfman just holds Lisanna's neck and rests his head on hers with a little smile when she's about to leave combined with how Earthland!Elfman can do absolutely nothing but sob uncontrollably and stare in awe as his little sister returns is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.
Lucy's father hires a guild to forcibly drag her back home after she runs away, just so that he can force her into an arranged marriage. Once that's over, Lucy returns home to pretty much tell him, without any hesitation, that she'll fight against him, along with the rest of the guild if he tries that stunt again, and that she no longer considers him family. The idea that a father and daughter can do and say those kinds of things to one another is just horrifying, in a non Nightmare Fuel way. Made even worse when its revealed that Lucy's father always loved her.
Erza's funeral. It's All Just a Dream, but that doesn't make it any better. Just seeing everyone's reactions, especially Natsu being mad with rage, with Lucy and Gray trying to hold him back, really drives the point home.
Poor Happy crying made this troper feel sad with grief.
Even worse, that scene most likely serves as a Deconstruction of how the people left behind would really feel after someone's Heroic Sacrifice. There's no true "honor celebration" or "his/her heart will live on"; just endless grief and sadness over the loss of a friend. Erza's quote near the end of the arc definitely rams the point home
Erza: You don't die for your friends; you live for them!
Hell, the moments just before that when after fighting the Fairy Tail guild for the position of leader, Laxus visits Makarov in the infirmary, and has his first heartfelt talk with his grandfather in years. Makarov expels him from Fairy Tail, and yet the old man turns his back while Laxus leaves after calling him "Grandfather". Makarov is in tears.
During the very end of Episode 89 (Edolas arc), where the Dragon Chain is launched into the island with Magnolia's lacrima, we have a shot at Happy's reaction: trembling, bursting into tears, and his voice breaking. His Seiyuu conveys his distress really well.
Chapter 251. When Cana finally tells Gildarts that she's his daughter. Gildarts has a flashback of all the times he saw Cana while she was growing up (coincidentally, she always looked sad), and he has an absolutely heartbroken expression on his face when he realizes that this whole time, she was suffering because of him. What happens next also moves this moment into the Heartwarming section.
Chapter 252 has Makarov fighting off Acnologia and giving the others his final orders as their master to run to the ship for safety. The tearful looks on everyone's faces tells it all.
The fact that Laxus is the first one to understand his grandfather's action and take action to save the others really hits home. He really is a changed man. Even more heartbreaking is when Natsu looks at Laxus and he can see the older man's grief clear as day.
The next chapter shows us what happened to the Fairy Tail guild after the seven year timeskip.
You know how after Lucy saw the reunion between father and daughter at Tenrou Island she began to think that she'd like to go see her own dad? Well, she's finally able to in Chapter 256, only to find out he died one month earlier.
To hammer it in, Sabertooth is portrayed as a guild of Smug Supers and Jerkasses. When this event occurred just about every single one looked pretty unhappy. Even Sting seemed displeased and described Jiemma as "extreme".
Made worse given they did it within the rules and maximized the cruelty potential in those five minutes compared to the cheating Raven Tail did. It makes a lot of sense Makarov doesn't consider his son a enemy given they were being covert and petty in their callousness in comparison to Minerva who was disarming Lucy and pounding her mercilessly right in front of the crowd. This is a rare case of a Tear Jerker involving tears of sadness and rage.
Chapter 292 also had some tearjerking moments. Lucy wakes up after having passed out; the first thing she does is attempt to apologize to everyone for losing. They are all quick to assure her that she did great and actually got second place. With tears in her eyes she asks for her Spirit Keys, which were taken from her during the fight against Minerva. Happy gives them to her and she smiles and thanks him before falling asleep, still smiling and cuddling her keys to her chest. Poor girl.
Chapter 300: If Yukino being thrown out of the Sabertooth guild for losing a match wasn't bad enough, Sting and Rogue had it worse, especially Sting when Lector, after the latter tried to stand up for Sting, got blasted into oblivion by Jiemma right in front of Sting. Sting responds in kind with a full blast of a White Dragon's Punch right through Jiemma.
It's pretty much implied that the both of them died.
Episode 150: Cobra finally is reunited with Cuberos/Kinana only to for Doranbolt and Lahar to come and arrest him.
Cobra actually let himself to be caught because Doranbolt and Lahar was going to arrest Cuberos/Kinana as they thought she was associated with Cobra. Cobra let himself to be arrested so that his best friend can roam freely, shows that he really cared for his friend.
Chapter 304: The cover page of this chapter shows Frosch holding two ice cream cones with a sad expression on his face as he feels lonely for the very first time since Lector's death.
Chapter 305: When Sting gets the drop on Bacchus and drops him out of the fight in a single attack, there is a single image showing his facial expression: He isn't sporting a Slasher Smile or any enjoyment of the fight at all, and he enjoys a fight. It's safe to say he was mentally focused on the loss of Lector more than the event taking place, which makes the depressed feeling Sting is displaying much more saddening.
Chapter 312: Future!Lucy's crying as she meets with her old Guild for the first time in God knows how long. We're already aware the future she comes from is quite possibly a Crapsack World, or the End of the World as We Know It, given Levy's Apocalyptic Log, it is really difficult not to feel saddened by the tears she's shedding, knowing the shit she has most likely been through.
Guard Captain Arcadias, the supposed "Big Bad" controlling the Grand Magic Games, is betrayed by the princess he was deeply loyal to when he realizes what's really going on. In attempting to escape the underground dungeon and a special Execution Squad that seeks to take their heads, Arcadias, Future!Lucy, and Yukino cross a huge moat of boiling lava. As Yukino is about to fall from the weak ledge she grabbed, Arcadias JUMPS into the lava to push her higher onto the ledge (with Future!Lucy trying to pull her up) so that she can climb up. After Yukino is saved, Arcadias "supposed" last words before he's consumed by the lava...talk about a BADASS!!!
It was particularly jarring because this was the first time we've seen Lucy completely lose it. She didn't just cry, she screamed at Future!Rogue and even used profanity (at least in Mangastream's translation) for the first time ever.
Natsu bursting into Berserker Tears after the group realizes that Future!Lucy lost her right arm, which was not helped with his flashback of Lucy showing off her new Fairy Tail mark to him.
Chapter 333: In a flashback (after Lucy & Co. have left the scene), we see Natsu crying over Future!Lucy's body. When asked if Future!Rogue is an enemy, Natsu simply replies:
Natsu: "Lucy was... He's my enemy."
To make it worse, Ultear may or may not kill Present!Rogue in order to remove the future one. It's heart-wrenching to see someone like Rogue get killed all because his of his future self's actions.
And speaking of heart-wrenching, it was pretty sad to see Present Rogue's reaction and breakdown to the news about his future self and what he has done.
Which only makes the fact that someone is about to come after him for it that much worse.
Chapter 334: Assuming that it's not a fake out like other teased main character deaths shown so far, it looks like Gray will be our first main character to die.
Juvia's reaction, whether or not the above scene was a fake out, is still heartbreaking to look at.
Chapter 335: Ultear, thinking she is beyond redemption, casts "Last Ages". It only turns back time by one minute at the cost of her life, making her believe that her Heroic Sacrifice was a Senseless Sacrifice while dying. In reality, Ultear has no idea she saved the lives of countless people doing it and will never know.
However, this has been subverted as of Chapter 339.
Before that, Juvia's Heroic BSOD as she blankly stared at Gray's body with tears in her eyes...who knows what would have happened if Ultear hadn't hit the magic Reset Button.
Also Lyon's frantic screaming for Chelia to come and heal Gray, trailing off when he talks about the last blow to hit, which he knows has to be fatal. You can see practically hear the desperation in the calls only to see the devastation in Lyon's face as he says Gray is...They hit his head.
Chapter 337: Before leaving due to the destruction of the Eclipse Gate, Future!Rogue gives Natsu some parting words and a warning for his present self: Protect Frosch because she will be killed in a year's time. Not died, but killed. Worse is that Rogue never was able to specify the culprit.
Have you forgotten what's shown after that: Future!Lucy reuniting with her other friends in heaven.
Chapter 339: As it turns out, Ultear didn't die from the spell, but instead aged rapidly, leaving her with literally only a short time to live. Meaning that while her actions saved countless lives and she knows it, she can't go back to her friends since her magic is useless now. With this in mind, she bids Jellal and Meredy a final farewell.
Gray recognizes the elderly Ultear and realizes the sacrifice that she made for him.
Chapter 341: Directly following the Grand Magic Games, when Lucy and the girls are in full furo scene at the newly-restored Fairy Tail hall, a repentant Flare Corona appears and tells Lucy how sorry she was for what she did to her during their match. Flare mentions that she left Raven Tail and has nowhere to go, but wanted to make amends before she leaves town. Cue a heartwarming scene of Lucy, Wendy, Lisanna, Mirajane, and Levy (who are all naked, btw) all hugging Flare and telling her that she's forgiven and is welcome at Fairy Tail.
The Sun Village Arc expands on Flare's background, showing how she grew up in the village of giants who treated her as one of their own. When Flare returns to the village to find it and all the giants completely frozen, she tearfully begs Lucy for her help because everything and everyone she knew is encased in near-unmeltable ice. During the arc's resolution, the giants explain that although the orphaned Flare was human and tiny compared to them, they accepted her and when she came of age, wanted her to travel the world and meet other people like her. Unfortunately, she met with Ivan and Raven Tail and was taught that only strength matters, which drove her to be twisted and sadistic. Cue another big heartwarming hug from Lucy and Wendy at the end!
Chapter 356: Tartaros attacks the council and massacres everybody except Doranbolt. The tearjerker comes when you remember that Doranbolt's dream was to see Lahar make it to the top of the council someday. All of the hope he had for that dream goes down crashing in one fell swoop when Lahar makes it into the list of casualties.
Chapter 358: Even after Laxus performs an awesome act that nearly kills him to save everyone over a hundred people are still killed by Tempesta's poisonous mist and the village was rendered completely uninhabitable. When Fried feebly asks Makarov if everyone was saved, Makarov says yes.
And at the end of the chapter, Natsu declares war. Everyone else in the guild is emotionally drained/broken by the attack, and Natsu is the only one currently willing to do anything. It's oddly heartbreaking to see characters like Gajeel so utterly apathetic.
Chapter 362: A minor one occurs when Natsu, Lucy, Wendy and Carla believe Happy performed a Heroic Sacrifice to stop Jackal's Taking You with Me. Carla in particular is starting to cry. Though Mood Whiplash sets in when Happy is shown to have survived with only his fur messed up into an afro.
Chapter 363: Elfman is Forced to Watch as his body is manipulated into strangling Lisanna. The poor man already had to shoulder the guilt of thinking that he killed Lisanna for years and now he may have to do so for real this time.
It's worse than that. Elfman is being forced to implant a lacrima bomb 500 times more powerful than Jupiter Cannon to instantly vaporize Fairy Tail. The kicker? He's kept fully aware of what he is doing, but because of Seliah's magic he is unable to stop it.
Chapter 368-369: Though it turned out to be an illusion, Meredy's reaction to Zero killing Jellal. She'd already lost her other guildmate/foster mother with no word of her actual fate; seeing her remaining comrade blown to bits visibly traumatized her.