Please don't list this on a work's page as a trope. Examples can go on the work's YMMV tab.
Tear Jerker: Game of Thrones
"The Wolf is of the North. She deserves better than a butcher."
"Hush now, child. I'm off to see your father."
—Ser Rodrik Cassel
"You may be right...but I've gone too far to pretend to be anything else."
"Tell me, if your precious Renly commanded you to kill your own father and stand by while thousands of men, women and children burned alive, would you have done it? Would you have kept your oath then?"
—Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer
open/close all folders
2 - The Kingsroad
Ned, who deeply cares for his children and their well-being, nonetheless has to kill Lady after Cersei demands it from Robert. Lady is completely innocent (Nymeria is the one who attacks Joffrey when he goes Ax-Crazy) and the order itself is hard enough to stomach, but the fact that he chooses to do it personally makes it even sadder. "She is of the North. She deserves better than a butcher."
Ned's farewell to Jon Snow:
Ned: There's great honor in serving the Night's Watch. The Starks have manned the Wall for thousands of years, and you are a Stark. You may not have my name, but you have my blood. Jon: Is my mother alive? Does she know about me, where I am, where I'm going? Does she care? Ned: The next time we see each other, we'll talk about your mother. Hmmm? I promise.
Too bad they will never see each other again, so they will never get to talk about her and who she was. Jon will be lucky to learn about her at all at this rate.
3 - Lord Snow
Ned and Catelyn's loving farewell becomes this in hindsight because it's the last time Ned will ever see his wife, or Catelyn her husband alive.
Bran's conversation with Robb, where Robb has to confirm that, yes, Bran is no longer going to be able to use his legs. The ensuing lines leave Robb speechless.
Bran: I'd rather be dead.
Robb: Don't ever say that.
Bran:I'd rather be dead.
5 - The Wolf and the Lion
Robert and Cersei's conversation. At first they both share a harsh laugh at how their utter sham of a marriage is the only thing holding the Seven Kingdoms together. Then things take a turn for the depressing as they both discuss the problems that have hung over their entire marriage. Cersei and Robert both have issues the viewers can dislike them for, but the sheer lack of love or even basic respect in their marriage is sad to see, especially when contrasted with Perfectly Arranged Marriages like Ned and Cat's or Dany and Drogo's. No wonder they were both screwing around with other people. One moment especially is when Cersei finally asks Robert about Lyanna Stark. Robert just sounds so completely broken when he talks about her.
Cersei's final question to Robert. She almost sounds desperate to hear him say “Yes.”
Cersei: I felt something for you once you know.
Robert: I know.
Cersei: Even after we lost our first boy- for quite a while actually...was it ever possible for us? Was there ever a time, ever a moment?
Robert: (after a very long pause) ...No. Does that make you feel better or worse?
Cersei: ...It doesn't make me feel anything.
7 - You Win or You Die
Robert, as he is dying, begs Ned to help Joffrey to be a better man than him.
Even Joffrey, one of the least sympathetic characters in the entire series, looks heartbreakingly devastated as the man he believes is his father says his last words to him.
Robert: I should've spent more time with you...shown you how to be a man. I was never meant to be a father. (Beat) Go on. You don't want to see this.
8 - The Pointy End
The First Sword of Braavos does not run.
What do we say to the God of Death?
The look on Septa Mordane's face as, having done all she can to protect Sansa, she walks towards what she knows will be her death; clearly frightened, but determined to Face Death with Dignity. And then we see the bloody swords...
9 - Baelor
Aemon's reveal to Jon of the time when he was tempted to forsake his oath to the Night's Watch at the slaughter of his family, the Targaryens, despite already being old and blind.
Tyrion's story of his first love.
Ned Stark was forced to forsake his principles in order to save his and his daughter's life. Little did he know that Joffrey chose this moment to cross the Moral Event Horizon. The fact that the credits music was unutterably solemn didn't help.
Yoren protecting Arya from seeing Ned's execution.
Sansa's hysterical cries and screams when Ned is executed, struggling against those trying to restrain her, were wrenching. You can just see all her dreams of a fairytale life with Joffrey come tumbling down. Even worse is that Sansa had begged Joffrey, in front of his court, to be merciful to her father, and he promised her he'd spare Ned. She believed him, because she truly thought he was a decent person. And then she sees that happen. Right before Joffrey's line, you can see her give this little relieved and proud smile, as she's completely convinced that she saved her father, that everything's going to be okay. And then...even Cersei is shocked and horrified. Cersei.
10 - Fire and Blood
Joffrey forcing Sansa to look at her father's impaled head to make a statement to her.
and by the end of season 3 has become so very much sadder.
Catelyn Stark stoically walks through a gauntlet of Stark bannermen, nodding to acknowledge their sympathies if she reacts at all, before she collapses against a tree, having learned of her beloved husband's execution. Similarly, Robb laying into a tree with his arming blade, lost to his grief and rage. (Sobbing) "I'll kill them all! Every one of them." And just the delivery of Catelyn's "You've ruined your sword." is heart-wrenching. Not to mention Lady Stark's emotional fortitude; she must remain strong for her son when she'd like nothing more than to break down herself. 'Family, Duty, Honor' indeed.
and of course.... the fact that they utterly fail in their quest for revenge and are both brutally murdered by their own bannermen after watching everything they love die at the end of Season 3 makes this moment so very much more bitter.
1 - The North Remembers
That poor woman, screaming as her infant daughter is murdered on Joffrey's command.
Dany's mare, Drogo's wedding gift to her, dying of thirst.
2 - The Night Lands
Dany comforting Irri after Rakharo's death. Sad on a couple of levels; firstly because he was a genuinely likeable character and it was gutting to have him die so horribly, but also because Irri's reaction confirms what many viewers suspected but was never shown on screen - they were in love.
After Tyrion makes a crack about the rumors of her affair with Jamie, Cersei responds that he's always been funny, starting with when their mother died giving birth to him. Tyrion's face after that is heartbreaking. Also the audience realizes she's hated him for that ever since.
Tyrion: She was my mother too.
Cersei: Mother gone. All for the sake of you. There's no bigger joke in the world than that.
3 - What is Dead May Never Die
Poor Brienne; having just earned her place on Renly's Kingsguard, she's dismissed by him almost immediately—to take Catelyn to her tent. The worst bit is, she seems almost resigned to this sort of treatment and is quite willing to die for Renly anyway; it speaks whole volumes about what her life must have been like before now. And the flatness in her voice when she tells Catelyn "Brienne's enough—I'm no lady" is heart-wrenching.
Theon's outburst at Balon, calling him out for treating him as soft and corrupted by the Starks (for bringing up the more strategically sound Stark-Greyjoy alliance of all things), pointing out that it was Balon who gave him up in the first place. Countering Balon's demand that the Ironborn "are not subjects or slaves" and that they "take what is theirs" Theon brings up his father's submission to King Robert Baratheon and that he didn't "take what is his" then, which earns him a smack across the face so hard it sends him across the room. Theon (tears in his eyes) recovers enough to remind his father that it was Balon who gave the last of the Greyjoy sons away like "some dog that he didn't want anymore" and yet he has the nerve to curse him when he returns home. This noticeably stuns even Balon momentarily before he marches out of the room, face frozen with what could be described as regret from someone who has never shown regret in his life.
Sansa telling Shae to stay and brush her hair becomes one when you realize her reasons for it. Even though Shae clearly has no idea how to be a handmaiden, Sansa asks her to stay with her because she literally has no one else to talk to who isn't trying to harm or manipulate her in some way. Poor Sansa is completely alone and surrounded by people who would have no qualms about killing her to achieve their own ends. And she's just a kid.
Also before she left Winterfell it was her mother that usually brushed Sansa's hair.
Arya's cry when Needle , Jon's last present, is taken from her.
4 - Garden of Bones
After their summit where the Baratheon brothers bicker and snark at each other over who should be king and threaten each other with their armies, as Stannis' party rides away, Renly says bitterly "Would you believe, I loved him once?"
Made even worse in the next episode, where Stannis remarks to Davos that he feels the same way, loving the boy his brother was. But not grieving over the man he became and had to kill.
Catelyn crying over Ned's bones.
Arya, alone and afraid and lying in mud while the rain pours down and the prisoners around her are depleted, can only whisper the names of the people she wants dead.
The woman who's been reduced to talking in a Creepy Monotone about how her family has been tortured to death one by one at Harrenhal.
Ser Jorah coming very close to admitting to Dany that he loves her, and they now both know how he feels about her for sure.
Jorah: [seemingly describing Dany as a queen] There are times when I look at you, and I still can't believe you're real.
5 - The Ghost of Harrenhal
Ser Loras Tyrell driven to grief and bitterness by Renly's death, stroking his lover's face while saying, "He would have been a true king, a good king." It gets worse when you realize that a lot of what Loras is feeling is not just grief but also guilt. After all, he was the one who talked Renly into making a bid for the Iron Throne.
This is made painfully explicit here. In the deleted scene, Loras is wearing black, the colour of mourning, but it's also one of the colours of House Baratheon, and Renly wore only black clothing throughout Season 1 (with the exception of the tourney).
This scene is even more heart-wrenching when you realize that Renly's corpse was dressed in the exact same outfit that he wore when he watched Loras joust, including the green brocade cloak which symbolized his commitment to Loras as his "bride." Loras must have commanded the Silent Sisters to clothe the body in this manner so that he can later lay Renly to rest as his beloved "wife."
Brienne, who's been The Stoic for the previous two episodes, screaming in grief at Renly's death.
The sight of Irri dead on the floor after Dany's dragons are stolen.
The sound Dany's dragons make as they're being carried off in a sealed box to the House of the Undying. They really do sound like infants crying for their mother to save them.
Not to mention Dany's reaction to finding them gone. Her frantic searching and crying really gives the impression of a desperate mother, especially considering that the dragons essentially are her children.
Rodrik Cassel's death, which is very painful as the stroke to his neck is repeatedly botched, and Bran and Rickon look on, weeping. Bran has just yielded Winterfell to Theon to keep his people safe, and is then forced to watch as one of his family's most loyal knights is brutally killed. The whole time, Bran's leaning forward and generally giving off an air of wanting to charge over there and stop it from happening, but because he's paralyzed he can't even try.
Rodrick: Hush now, child. I'm off to see your father.
These final words to Theon:
Rodrick: Gods help you, Theon Greyjoy. Now you are truly lost.
The parallels to 'Baelor' and Ned's death. The older Stark child, screaming and begging someone they'd once trusted and loved not to murder a father figure, while the younger Stark is being shielded from watching.
The look on Theon's face as he builds up to executing Ser Rodrick. He's obviously torn between his loyalty to his family and these people he really does care about, and he's struggling to bring himself to do it...and then after he takes Ser Rodrick's head, he just stares.
Myrcella, a completely innocent pawn stuck in the middle of the power plays around her, crying as she's shipped off to Dorne as a glorified hostage.
Cersei saying she hopes Tyrion deeply loves someone one day, so she can take that person away from him. Tyrion looks like he's going to give a nasty zinger back, but then just walks away.
Tywin asks Arya (who he believes to be a peasant girl) what killed her father, and she answers simply, "loyalty".
Tywin opening up to the disguised Arya about how his own father was a good, loving man whose weakness nearly destroyed their family. He doesn't explicitly say that he made a decision not to make the same mistake, though that's clearly what he's thinking. It makes you wonder what sort of person Tywin might have been in a world where it wasn't necessary to scheme and fight simply for the survival of the people you care about. Tywin finishes his speech with the statement "I'm cold". Even though it's an instruction to light a fire, the way he says it makes it clear what he really means, and that he's saddened by it.
Tywin's description of how he taught Jaime his letters (by the sound of it Jaime's dyslexic, though of course Tywin doesn't use the term). Even though he ignored the maester's advice to accept it and made Jaime's life miserable trying to cure it, it is clear that Tywin put in a great deal of personal effort to help his son, which says a lot about him. It's a perfect demonstration of both Tywin's good and bad aspects with regards to his children. On the one hand, he loves them enough to put in a lot of time to help them, and is willing to incur their hatred for it, which would be painful for a father who actually did love his children. On the other hand, he rejects the maester's advice to "just accept it", and makes Jaime's life miserable to make sure he lives up to his perfectionist standards, and consequently he detests Tyrion for being unable to be cured of his own imperfections.
7 - A Man Without Honor
Maester Luwin's cry of despair when he sees the burnt bodies of the boys.
Cersei lamenting how Joffrey turned out, and Tyrion trying to comfort her by telling her that Myrcella and Tommen still turned out all right. Cersei actually starts to cry, letting her guard drop around Tyrion, and he just stands there without saying anything, at a loss for words. For extra tear-jerker-ness, this episode aired on Mother's Day.
Tyrion's palpable uncertainty about whether he's meant to put a hand on her shoulder or hug her or something makes this worse, as it makes you realise that he has probably never been in a situation like this before; Cersei hates him too much to let him see her cry, and while he and Jaime are close, it's hard to imagine Jaime ever breaking down crying, so it's unlikely Tyrion has ever had to console a crying sibling in his life. She notices Tyrion approaching and a quick half-confused, half-disgusted look from her provides a final discouragement. It really drives home how cold and screwed up the Lannisters are.
Sansa's pure desperation when she realises her period's started and Joffrey has license to start raping her, trying to hide the evidence and moaning in horror.
Later, when Cersei is giving her some genuinely heartfelt advice (see the Crowning Moment of Heartwarming page), Cersei says that the only people Sansa should allow herself to love are her children, to avoid being hurt. This would be sad enough on its own, but Cersei then says that women have "no choice" about loving their children; she's fully realised what a monster Joffrey is, but still can't stop loving him as a mother.
The look on Jorah's face when Quaithe plainly states he loves Dany, and the emotion in his voice when he answers the question of whether he'll betray her again with one word: "Never."
8 - The Prince of Winterfell
"Don't die so far from the sea."
For context, after viciously and furiously calling out Theon in front of all her men for his idiotic and immoral(even in the eyes of a brutal raider like her) actions in taking Winterfell, Yara dismisses her soldiers to speak alone with Theon. At which point her hardass demeanour fades and she begs him to come home with her, revealing that she still sees him as her beloved baby brother but is terrified that he will die pointlessly far away from his home. Given their conflict beforehand (and the unspeakable torture and suffering Theon will go through because of his refusal to come home with her) this is an extremely humanising moment for the Greyjoys.
Luwin and Osha's conversation about the orphan boys being killed, which Bran unbeknownst to them overheard.
9 - Blackwater
Cersei telling Tommen a fairy tale as she prepares to Mercy Kill him and herself.
Loras leading the cavalry charge disguised as the "ghost" of his recently deceased lover. In doing so, he keeps his promise to Renly ("I've never fought in a war before, but I'd fight for you"). While House Tyrell agreed to ally with the Lannisters out of a desire to gain more political power, Loras himself only wanted to avenge his beloved's murder. The Knight of Flowers knows that Stannis is responsible for Renly's assassination, and Loras partially achieves his goal by helping to defeat Stannis' forces.
10 - Valar Morghulis
Dany's vision of Drogo and a living, healthy baby Rhaego in the House of the Undying. Its not made clear if this is just a vision or actually happening, but the emotion in that scene was intense, especially the sight of infant Rhaego and her face when she realizes (or decides) it's not real and she has to walk away from the husband and son she's still deeply grieving and missing. What's worse is Drogo's face. Once she decides she's not going to stay it just... goes blank. That same dead expression Drogo had after he was "saved" by Mirri.
Tyrion's whole exchange with Shae, in particular Tyrion breaking down and sobbing when Shae makes it clear that she isn't going to leave his side.
Stannis's agonised admission of his guilt: "I murdered my brother!" All he did and he thinks it was all for nothing.
Theon and Luwin's scene. Theon furiously swearing, voice hoarse and cracking, to "the Drowned God, the old gods, the new gods, to every fucking god in every fucking heaven" that he will kill the hornblower really drives home how desperate and scared he is. Theon's voice when he talks about how everyone telling him how lucky he was of how well the Starks have treated him as he was their captive. It really shows how broken Theon has gotten and how he has been of two minds for a very long time.
The hanged women Brienne and Jaime come across. Their only crime was trying to survive in a war torn Westeros, and the Northern army butchered them for cooperating with the Lannisters. Even worse, one of the men who did it heavily implies that they did worse to at least one of the women before they were hanged...
To make things even more disturbing, either intentionally or not, the man is played by an actor with a slight resemblance to Ned. Jaime is quick to remind Brienne that he was a Stark man...
Luwin's death. After all he's done to help the Starks and even Theon, he is unceremoniously stabbed by Dagmer, and left to die. The look on his face as he lies dying at the base of the weirwood shows that he is just so happy, despite all, to see the Stark boys alive and safe.
Hodor's very quiet "Hodor" to Rickon when they leave the dying Maester Luwin. It's clear that despite him being a simpleton who can only say that one word, he knows what's going on and is emotionally affected by it.
When Loras has to bend the knee to Joffrey (whom he described as a monster in Season 1), his body language is practically screaming that he finds the act abhorrent. Loras' desire to crown Renly as king was partially motivated by his hatred of that little shithead, and the Knight of Flowers is now paying a heavy price for gaining some form of revenge on Stannis.
Moreover, the way Loras' voice breaks after he let out a Freudian Slip that pretty much reveals that he viewed Renly as his "husband" rather than his brother-in-law.
1 - Valar Dohaeris
The entirety of Tyrion's meeting with his father. The guy spent the entire last season making a better place out of King's Landing and nearly lost his life for the capital...and his jerk ass of a father denies him even the slightest bit of gratitude. And then goes off on a completely uncalled for rant about how Tyrion is not deserving of his rightful claim to Casterly Rock. For the second time, a family member heartlessly and childishly blames Tyrion for the death of his mother...you know, because your mother dying from giving birth to you is your fault.
He doesn't just tell Tyrion that he's undeserving of Casterly Rock. He outright tells him that the only reason he wears Lannister colours is because he cannot prove that he's not his son. And all Tyrion can do is sit there and take the abuse until he's cruelly dismissed.
Listen closely to Tyrion's words. Gratitude for keeping Stannis' army away is just his secondary wish. What he truly wanted was for his father to come and see him while he was wounded, to acknowledge him just once. The poor man looked like he wanted to cry when he left his father' office.
Worse yet, study Tyrion's actions before he leaves the room. When his father says "One more thing", Tyrion turns around and the very second that Tywin utters the word "whore", Tyrion nods quickly and storms out of the room just as his father says the next one he finds he will hang. Poor Tyrion clearly has had enough of his father using that word to the point he has to excuse himself from losing his shit.
Davos's despair about the death of his son. Even Salladhor Saan is subdued.
Salladhor Saan: But, Davos, you were a good father.
Davos: If I were a good father he'd still be here.
The aftermath of Harrenhal. Rickard Karstark's solemn and heavy "200 Northernmen....slaughtered like sheep" really rams it in.
A very very very very very minor one but when Joffrey sees Margaery's talking and hugging and kissing all the orphans, all he does is stare in utter bewilderment. Like the concept of being nice and generous is a completely alien concept. And then you realise, no one was there to teach him human kindness and he believes people like those orphans are his to do as he pleases and fear is the best way to rule. So concepts like charity and generosity really are foreign concepts to him.
In the opening credits, Winterfell is now a smoking ruin similar to Harrenhal.
Somehow even more so when you see the clockwork godswood bloom.
2 - Dark Wings, Dark Woods
Sansa finally getting to spill her guts about the hell she's been suffering through, while still terrified that this may reach Joffrey's ears.
Just watch how much she has to struggle to say anything! She blurts out how Joffrey killed her father in front of her and made her stare at the dismembered head. Then, she quickly starts backpedaling in the only way she can think of - denouncing her father, her brothers, and herself as traitorous and thus that she shouldn't be listened to. It takes Margeary and her grandmother several minutes of coaxing and promising that it's safe to talk freely before Sansa can open up, and finally all she can get out is "He's a monster!" Then she begs them not to call the wedding off, no doubt picturing what Joffrey would do to her if he found out she drove his fiance away.
Bran reliving his first scene in the series in his dream, complete with Ned's voice.
Robb finally finds out what happened in Winterfell: the burning of the city...and that his two little brothers weren't found. He and Catelyn's reactions are just heartbreaking: he tries to hold onto hope, that maybe they got away or that Theon took them as hostages to the Iron Islands. Catelyn just looks...broken, and asks in a haunted voice why Theon hasn't sent word if he truly has her two youngest sons.
Keep in mind that Robb had to deliver this devastating news to her on the heels of her finding out that her father died.
Catelyn Stark saying she thinks everything is her fault because she once swore to the gods she would love Jon Snow like her own son, and quickly broke this oath.
Oh, it's much worse than that. The reason that Catelyn made such a vow was because she'd prayed to the gods that Jon - her husband's bastard child that she's hated just for that fact - would die and leave her in peace. Then he got the pox. She stayed with him all through the night and prayed for forgiveness. For Jon to live, to even have his father's name and be made one of them officially...and to love him in the way his own mother couldn't. So she thinks that everything that has happened to their family - Bran's fall, Ned's death, her daughters being held hostages and her two little boys possibly dead in Winterfell - is all her fault.
If you go back and watch the second episode of season one, in the scene where Catelyn is sitting with a comatose Bran and Jon goes to say his goodbyes...The look on Catelyn's face as she is watching Jon speak to her son...You see her anger and resentment in a new light: She's sitting there remembering how she once sat next to Jon watching over him the same way she is now doing for Bran, but the anger and resentment is at herself. She's remembering the promise she broke, and she can't bear to look at Jon anymore and roughly tells him to leave.
And remember: she died believing that Jon Snow was the last Stark son left alive — and that The Gods have an utterly awful sense of Humor.
Sam lying down to die, convinced no one cares about him and the current situation is all his fault.
Theon desperately crying out his reasons for sacking Winterfell. What he did was terrible, but the torture looks so painful you can't help feel sorry for him.
Hot Pie deciding to stay at the Inn that Thoros and the Brotherhood stopped after taking him, Arya, and Gendry over for some food after the cook was impressed with some bread he baked and he felt he has no place in the war alongside two brave souls like Arya and Gendry. Both Arya and Gendry look quite saddened he won't be joining them and the sentimental music kicks in as Arya and Gendry both say their farewells to him as he walks back in the inn.
In the same scene, Hot Pie bakes Arya a bread in the shape of a wolf. The form is pretty poor, but neiter Arya or Gendry have the soul to say otherwise and nod in agreement. As she leaves, Arya calls back to Hot Pie saying "it tastes really good". Farewell hopefully for now, Hot Pie.
Listen to Arya's voice as she calls back to Hot Pie about the bread. It sounds like she's on the brink of tears.
Catelyn recalling how she would wait for her father by a certain window, and wonders if Bran and Rickon had been doing the same. Then she breaks down, and it's clear that unlike Robb, she has no hope that they're still alive.
Brienne screaming as she's dragged off to be raped by Bolton men. Luckily Jaime intervenes.
When going down the Walk of Punishment, Dany stops and offers a drink of water to a dying slave on a cross. He refuses and asks her to let him die. When she asks Missandei about this later, the other girl sadly replies "There are no masters in the grave."
Jaime losing his hand. He just stares at it for a few seconds, before he starts screaming...
Poor Gilly's terrified and heartbroken face when she realizes that her newborn baby is a boy. Bad enough that she's married to her own father. Now she has to lose her baby to those...things that Craster sacrifices his sons to.
It could arguably be worse if she'd given birth to a girl. What's worse: having a boy and knowing that he'll be sacrificed to unholy monsters before he's a week old? Or having a girl and raising her, knowing that once she's reached a certain age, your husband and father will do to her what he did to you?
4 - And Now His Watch Is Ended
Though no tears will be shed for Craster, Commander Mormont's death at the hands of Rast and the other yellow bellied traitors had me near to tears. Mormont fought, literally attempting to strangle Rast whilst dying of a stab in the back, to the very last moment. Now, his watch has ended.
Theon admitting that he truly does consider Ned Stark his true father, even after he's destroyed any chance of being considered family by the other Starks.
Theon: My real father lost his head at King's Landing.
Really, Theon's sheer horror and guilt over all he had done, starting off trying to justify what he did, but breaking down when he realises just how thoroughly he has both betrayed those he truly loves and crossed the Moral Event Horizon in murdering the two orphans to try and keep hold of Winterfell and make his father proud, despite the fact he really loved the Starks more than his "real" family more than anything. Despite all he has done, its impossible not to feel for him as he bares his soul to "the boy".
And then his one source of solace and comfort left in the world is nightmarishly shattered as he seemingly arrives at his sister's fort and calls desperately for his sister, only for "the boy" to light up a torch and reveal he is right back at the Bolton torture rack in the Dreadfort, and that the boy is really one of his tormentors and has simply been playing a sick and sadistic game with Theon.
The worst is that "the boy" is heavily implied to actually be Ramsay Snow, who's actually their leader. In other words, he planned the escape attempt, killed his own men and then betrayed Theon, simply to fuck with his head. And now, after Theon has bared his soul and his deepest insecurities, he has even more ammunition with which to torture him.
Brienne looking on helplessly as the Bolton men mercilessly beat the crap out of Jaime.
Just how broken and hopeless Jaime now is contrasted to his usual arrogant and snarky persona.
There's a brief minute when Jaime is knocked to the ground and he reaches for his sword. He immediately and instinctively tries with his right arm.
When Margaery suggests that Sansa marry her brother Loras in order to move to Highgarden, the look her face is heartbreaking — poor, much-abused Sansa is about to cry at the prospect of getting away from her captors, and at Margaery's seemingly genuine affection. Sadder, of course, because the viewers know that, however Margaery may feel about Sansa, it's an act done out of political calculation.
It works both ways. It's clear that Sansa wants to trust Margaery and be friends with her but months living in the Capital has jaded her against well-meaning strangers.
More depressing is the fact that while Sansa sees a fantastic life in Highgarden with Loras, the truth of it is that he's not only gay, but in mourning and will never love the girl, which is what she desperately wants from a marriage.
5 - Kissed by Fire
Jaime revealing how he became the Kingslayer. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau gives the performance of his life as he reveals how noble the act really was, and yet he knew Ned Stark would never believe him even if he'd revealed that.
Also when he nearly faints and Brienne calls for aid, saying the "Kingslayer" needs help, he mutters, desperate and near delirious, "Jaime... My name's... Jaime..." Damn right, performance of a lifetime!
He somehow manages to sound like a lion, even while sounding like he's about to be torn apart as each word comes out. "Stark. You think the Honorable Ned Stark wanted to hear my side? He judged me...guilty,... the moment he set eyes on me. By what right does the Wolf judge the Lion?"
Tyrion once again on the end of abuse from his father and his cruel bitch of sister as they force him to wed Sansa. He is utterly disgusted and there is a noticable amount of strain when he shouts to his father's face she is a child.
And again at the end of this meaningless abuse, Tyrion is left with a look of a combination of uncontainable fury and heart brokeness. He may be a Lannister but even he doesn't wish any further misery on Sansa whom he truly seems to care about her well being.
When Tywin tells Tyrion that it's past time he was wed, Tyrion furiously snarls "I was wed. Or don't you remember?"
Even Cersei can get some viewer sympathy in this scene when Tywin basically orders her to marry Loras Tyrell. She sounds like she's about to cry as she begs him not to force her into another loveless arranged marriage. Harsher even because it's another marriage that will be entirely loveless and haunted by a dead significant other from the past. Poor Cersei.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Shireen Baratheon, possibly the saddest and loneliest little girl in all of Westeros.
Not only does the poor kid have a disease that has left half her face disfigured, but it's implied she's basically shut up in her room by her mother and that Davos is her only friend. Her father does seem to love her, but only rarely comes to see her. To top it all off, when Stannis does want to see her, her own mother tries to dissuade him and calls her a 'distraction'.
Her conversation with Stannis is rather sad. At first she's happy to hear Davos has come back safely from the battle, only to be bluntly told by her father that her only friend is rotting in the dungeon. The crestfallen look on her face is heartbreaking.
Really the entire scene was a massive one for Stannis, and a good hint as to why he has become so embittered and unhappy. He has a wife who is utterly insane and with whom he is barely able to even speak to despite clearly wanting to do right by her, and a daughter he clearly loves (even if he is a bit awkward around her) yet whom he is forced to keep confined to her dark little cell for her own protection because of her affliction (and thus the utter hatred, fear, and contempt shown to those like her by most people in Westeros). These are among the very few people he has genuine affection for and they both suffer horrifying illnesses, mental in the case of his wife, and physical in the case of his daughter.
In a way, the Hound surviving his trial by combat against Beric Dondarrion, especially what he says to Arya afterwards: "Looks like the god likes me more than your butcher's boy." It just drives the point even further home to the poor girl that there really is no justice in the world, and even the Lord of Light doesn't give two shits about the death of a butcher's boy. The manner of the duel makes it worse; had it been an ordinary trial by combat, the Hound might have won simply because he's a superb fighter, but the fact that there are clear and undeniable supernatural powers at work confirms that it really is a divine judgement that her friend goes unavenged.
Making it worse is Arya grabbing a knife and trying to kill the Hound and having to be dragged back kicking and screaming by Gendry. Her anguish is clear.
Arya: BURN IN HELL!
The murders of Martyn and Willem Lannister. Poor kids never stood a chance.
Especially Robb and Talisa looking at them for a moment before they bring in the men who killed them. As if they're trying desperately to compose themselves.
Gendry saying he intends to stay on with the Brotherhood instead of going to Riverrun with Arya, saying the Brotherhood could be like a family he never had. The look on Arya's face is just heartwrenching; it doesn't looks like she lost some friend, it looks like she just lost someone she truly loves.
Arya:I could be your family.
Gendry: You wouldn't be my family. You'd be mi'lady.
Maisie Williams' performance in this scene is so good, it just really sells the sadness Arya's feeling.
Maisie said in an interview that they did several takes of this scene, and used the one that sounds most like Arya is making a declaration of love.
The look on Gendry's face after. As one Youtube commenter pointed out: "It's how he swallows after she leaves. It's how he looks away when she goes. It seems to hurt him, this decision, losing her."
While talking with Arya, Beric and Thoros of Myr talk about Beric's many deaths and how often he has been brought back to life. All throughout Arya is silent. And then...
Arya: Could you bring back a man without a head? Not six times. Just once.
Thoros: I don't think it works that way, child.
Beric: Your father was a good man... I wouldn't wish my life on him.
Arya: I would.
Thoros: It's not getting any easier.
Beric: I know.
Shireen offers to teach Davos, who is locked up, to read. This is a Tear Jerker/Heartwarming moment all on its own, as she's been told he's a traitor—by her own father, whom she loves dearly, no less—and yet still decides to visit him, simply because he is one of the few people that has been consistently kind to her. What makes it an out-and-out heartbreaker, though, is her response to Davos telling her that she can't because they'll both get into serious trouble. She points out that they are both already beyond practically all punishment.
Shireen: What are they going to do, lock us up?
6 - The Climb
Sansa breaking down after Tyrion informs her they are going to be married, after she'd turned down Littlefinger's offer to get her out of King's Landing in the hopes of being able to marry Loras. Her first true attempt to play the game, and she lost hard.
Also, the look in Tyrion's eye when he realizes he will be forced to tell Sansa this in front of Shae, who he truly does love and whom he knows will be hurt by this.
Thoros of Myr no longer believed in the Lord of Light, but the first time Beric was killed he said a prayer over his body. "Because he was my friend, and he was dead. And they were the only words I had."
The Brotherhood selling Gendry to Melisandre while Arya berates and shames them for it, half-hysterical. None of them seem pleased with the turn of events.
Worse still is that it shows just how poor Gendry can never catch a break. He spent his whole life wanting a real family, and just when he thought he had found one, and one where he can make a difference and stop being a disposable pawn of higher powers (i.e. his old master, the night's watch, and the Lannisters), they sell him out for a quick buck to someone (who is ironically enough taking him to his actual blood family) with a fairly blatant desire to hurt/imprison him. All while his one real friend left screams impotently for them to stop.
And Arya says "you're going to hurt him." She doesn't ask, she just knows. Her bitterness is incredibly heartbreaking.
Ros becoming live target practice for Joffrey. Sure she wasn't well liked, but did they really have to give her such a brutal death?
Tyrion and Cersei's moment in "The Climb". Despite still clearly hating each other, they are each-other's sole confidantes in the subject of their forced marriages and even try in their own way to make each other feel better (i.e. Tyrion reminding Cersei that Jaime is coming back and will not let it happen, and Cersei trying to assuage his fear over being assassinated while telling him point blank he saved the city while Hand and thus saved her and the family, something he had been wishing to hear since episode 1 of the season) and share clear empathy over their shared ordeal while discussing what they will do next. Just brings home just how fucked up they and their lives have been because of Tywin, and how the two might have been as close as Jaime and Tyrion are had Cersei not been imbued with her father's hatred for her little brother.
Loras agreeing with Sansa that King's Landing is "the most terrible place there is."
Loras' description of imagining his bride in a "gown of gold and green brocade" initially sounds like it's meant to be humorous; a stereotypical gay man gushing over pretty clothes rather than the bride. It becomes much sadder when you realize that the cloak Renly wore while watching Loras joust was made of green brocade. Green is one of the colours of House Tyrell, and Renly (who was dressed only in House Baratheon black throughout Season 1) obviously brought the cape to the tourney to show his love and support for Loras.
7 - The Bear and the Maiden Fair
Osha revealing what led her to join the Wildlings going "as far south as south goes." The man she loved was turned into a Wight, and she had to burn her house down to kill him again.
Tyrion losing Shae's favor because of his arranged marriage to Sansa. He tries to explain that he loves her and only her, but she remains convinced that he only sees her as a whore.
Shae's furious response to Tyrion telling her that he would always provide for her and any children they'd have:
Shae: Children? You think I want children who can never see their father? Who would be killed in their sleep if their grandfather found out about them?
Tyrion: Listen to me, my lady...
Shae: I'm not your lady.
Tyrion: You are. You will always be my lady.
Shae: I'm your whore. And when you are tired of fucking me I will be nothing.
Jon explaining to Ygritte that there is no way the Wildlings can defeat the Night's Watch, because they have never succeeded before. Ygritte eventually accepts that they may as well be on a suicide mission.
Particularly as you can see her slow realisation that Jon's completely right. The Northmen know the lay of the land and are ridiculously well versed on every single Wildling invasion they've ever crushed, while she can't seem to name any. Ygritte looks like she's suddenly just realised that despite their claim that this is "their land", she knows nothing about how things work South of the Wall...
Brienne accepting her fate and telling Jaime to go, using her last words to him to remember his oath to return the Stark girls, and for once calling him "Ser Jaime".
Hell, Brienne's situation in general. She's imprisoned, forced to wear a dress and knows she's going to be left at the mercy of Locke.
Arya sitting away from the Brotherhood and sounding like a little girl for the first time in almost two seasons, tearfully saying "I don't talk to traitors."
Theon getting castrated. Especially when he starts screaming hysterically for mercy as The Boy's men reach out for a dagger. If there was anyone else who was still cheering for Theon getting tortured, they would have definitely stopped by this point. ... then again.
During the actual service Joffrey casually takes away Tyrion's step, forcing him to make Sansa kneel so that Tyrion can place the bridal cloak around her, causing nearly the entire congregation to quietly laugh at him.
Then there's his exchange with Sansa, which is both this and heartwarming. He refuses to bed her just because of his father's command, and will only share a bed with her when she wishes to. When she asks what if she never wants him to, Tyrion's expression shows some disappointment, obviously aware that she doesn't look forward to losing her virginity to a dwarf. He then gives a broken smile, toasts her with his cup and declares as a final joke.
There's also the bit during the exchange where Tyrion stops Sansa from taking off her clothes, saying he can't do this to her...and then immediately corrects himself to assure her that he can - that is, he's capable, very capable really - he just doesn't want to.
Consider Sansa's dream wedding (or, really, anybody's normal conception of their wedding) versus her actual wedding: being married to somebody she doesn't want, into the family that killed her father and is waging war on her family, with the guy who ordered her father's death grotesquely acting in his place (and then threatening to rape her afterward), with at most one friendly face in the crowd (Margaery).
When Sam and Gilly discuss a name for her baby, and she suggests, what else, Craster, Sam is disturbed but only half-heartedly objects. When she suggests his father's name, he pleads against it. That's right, his own father bears worse connotations for him than a vile, debased brute of a wildling. That's just sad.
When Gilly asks Sam if Randyll Tarly was cruel like Craster, Sam is clearly terrified just talking about his brute of a father and can only weakly chuckle that Randyll is a "Different kind of cruel."
Tyrion raising his glass in pity to Loras; his facial expression reads, "You're next to get married." Loras, who is already quite irritated, sighs and turns his head away.
9 - The Rains of Castamere
The Rains of Castamere. Sweet R'hllor The Rains of Castamere... When The Red Wedding finally came on screen, it became without a doubt one of the single biggest, most heartrending and horrifying tearjerkers in the entire series. Take a long look at the entries listed above (and most likely all of those listed below in the next few seasons), and you will find few entries that can even hold a candle to this scene. In the space of about ten minutes there are no less than four moments near guaranteed to draw inelegant sobbing from the viewers.
Catelyn's increasing terror as she realizes the Freys and the Boltons are planning to murder her son and the bannermen, and her distraught face as she watches first her daughter-in-law (and unborn grandchild) brutally stabbed to death by the Freys, her friends and bannermen butchered like dogs around her, and her son shot with multiple crossbow bolts before he can even react, while Catelyn herself is hit with crossbow bolts and slowly bleeding to death. Worse than this however is her insanely desperate begging of Walder Frey to let her son go, and her cry of anguish after she sees Robb get stabbed in the heart by Roose followed by utter blank shock, even as her own throat is slit.
Robb watches his wife and unborn child horrifyingly murdered right next to him, right after his wife tells him she wants the child to be named after Ned so Robb can "teach Ned Stark how to ride a horse", and even after he is shot with crossbow bolts he still tries to painfully crawl to his wife, only for her to die in his arms. At which point, and for the first time in the series, we see Robb Stark, one of the proudest, most passionate, and heroic characters in the series, break down like a child in stunned shock unable to react to anything, and the last thing he says is a quiet and resigned "mother..."' as he looks at Catelyn, before Roose Bolton finishes him off with a dagger.
Talisa watches one of the Freys viciously stab her in her pregnant stomach again....and again...and again...and again...and again...dying a horrible and painful death and watching her unborn child die before her eyes, all after happily talking with Robb about their future as a family.
Arya witnesses the Frey's treachery and attack on the Stark men and Grey Wind's death and realizes at once she has lost her mother and brother after everything she had been through. For the first time in the series since her Father's death she goes into utter shock as she wanders around the carnage outside the keep, and is saved only by Sandor Clegane knocking her out and carrying her to safety. Just moments before, when she snuck into the castle and realized she was just a few steps from reuniting with her family, she had the sweetest smile and was looking happy for the first time since Ned died. We won't be seeing that smile for a very, very long time.
"It's too late".
—Sandor Clegane [as he knocks out Arya.]
Moreover, there is a far wider tearjerker in this scene. The bad guys have won. The one faction in Westeros who had a good(ish) claim to being "the Heroes", the characters pretty much everyone was rooting for in the War of the Five Kings for three seasons, have utterly failed and were butchered by their own allies; all they have fought and sacrificed for over three seasons was in vain, all they fought to protect was lost, and despite their best efforts Ned Stark remains completely unavenged, and scumbags like Joffrey, Walder Frey, Roose Bolton, and Tywin Lannister have effectively won the War and now control everything the Tullys and the Starks once held.
While the Red Wedding was easily the biggest block of tearjerkers of the episode (and the entire season, as well as possibly the whole series), there were other tearjerker moments scattered through the episode.
Bran and Rickon parting ways, with Rickon tearfully telling his brother he wants to protect him, and Osha telling the Reeds that Bran means everything to her.
The look on Jorah's face when Dany asks about Daario. He's just lost all hope his queen will return his feelings for her.
Ygritte when Jon is forced to abandon her after his cover is blown.
Tormund and Ygritte both urge Jon to kill the horse breeder, while Orell just gloats that he's a crow. They WANT him to be on their side, which makes his betrayal even worse for them and the audience.
Rains of Castamere is just a Downer Ending to Catelyn Stark's character as a whole. Pretty much all three seasons so far were piling up one disaster after another for her to cope with. First, she lost her beloved husband, believed both her daughters were taken hostage by the enemy. She witnessed how her eldest son's alliances slowly crumble. Then she is told her two youngest boys were brutally murdered when her home was sacked by someone who grew up with them. And then comes the Red Wedding, where she has to watch her daughter-in-law stabbed to death in the worst possible way (for a mother, anyway), her bannermen slaughtered like sheep, her only remaining child (in her knowledge) having first his heart broken and then pierced with a dagger, as she is powerless to help. No wonder she just stood there in the end.
Let's face it: once Robb died, Cat was already dead. The dagger to the throat just made it official.
Another one comes if one recalls her conversation from the beginning of Series 3. In a moment of bitterness and anger, she prayed for Jon's death, an action she thinks the Gods have been punishing her for ever since. And she dies believing that he's the only son of Winterfell to survive.
Though it's overshadowed by all the other tearjerkers taking place Cat's murder of Walder Frey's young wife could count. Walder clearly doesn't give a shit about her when Cat has a knife to her throat, dismissively saying he'll find another wife. The poor girl was likely an innocent pawn who had nothing to do with the massacre and was clearly terrified up until her death. Not to mention that she couldn't have been more than sixteen years old when she died.
Even worse, who says she wasn't pregnant as well? And who says, Lord Frey wasn't perfectly aware of that possibility?
The last exchange between Robb and Catelyn deserves it's own bullet point. Robb has just watched his wife and unborn child murdered in front of him, and his cause is literally collapsing around him. Catelyn is begging him to get up and save his own life, but it's obvious that at this point he doesn't want to. His last word to his mother is delivered in a tone of desolate acceptance - the King in the North has simply given up. He knows there is no way out of this and almost seems to be asking his mother to stop since there is nothing more that can be done. And, once he is killed, Cat gives up too.
Catelyn spends much of seasons two and three missing her other children, and dies without ever getting closure on them. Bad enough she watched Robb get murdered right in front of her, but she died without ever knowing Arya, Bran, or Rickon's true whereabouts, and knowing that Sansa is a hostage of her sworn enemies.
The utterly broken look on Arya's face as she sees Grey Wind's head sewn onto Robb's body. Worse is that it recalls the scene in Season One where Yoren specifically hid the sight of her father being killed from her. Here she gets no such thing.
Indeed, the only consolation for Ned as he died was that Arya didn't have to see it happen. Two seasons on, and she sees something much worse front and centre.
Similarly, consider this for a moment. Ned's head was placed on a pike for a time, before being returned along with the rest of his bones to Cat in Series 2. Even the Lannisters, who've made it their mission to crush the Starks, still chose to afford their enemy the right to be buried with dignity. But the Frey's chose to profane Robb's corpse in the most despicable manner possible!
Arya clinging desperately to the Hound and burying her head in his chest while he takes her away. It says a lot about howbroken the little girl is when the only remaining person she can find some comfort in is the man she hates for killing her friend.
And then, a few scenes later, she ends up stabbing one of the Freys to death in revenge. Listen to her voice as she does this: it sounds as though she's crying. This is the first time Arya gets to vent her grief at everything that's happened, and it's accomplished through knifing a man in the throat; and afterwards, she just stands there, deathly still and barely even reacting when the Hound starts asking questions. She just... stares.
Even worse when you think that Arya had no idea of how she'd get out of that fight alive. There were several Freys sitting around that campfire, and if the Hound hadn't interfered she'd be dead.
News of the Red Wedding has reached King's Landing, and Tyrion enters Sansa's chambers to tell her that her brother and mother are dead. When he calls out her name, the pain on her face tells him that she already heard the news. No other words are spoken. Just silence as Tyrion turns around and walks out to leave Sansa to her mourning. This is made all the more bitter by the fact that a few scenes earlier showed they were forming a genuine friendship and bond which has now been utterly dashed.
There's also some Fridge Horror there; Tyrion was obviously going to break the news to her as gently as possible, but since Sansa already knew, and it seemed that the Small Council were the only ones privy to the information at that point, who told her? Given how much Joffrey enjoys tormenting Sansa, it might well have been him.
Jon Snow tearfully telling Ygritte he loves her and she loves him, right before she fires three arrows into him and he's forced to escape.
Jon: I have to go home now. I know you won't hurt me.
Jon: I know you love me. *tearfully* I have to go home now.
Tyrion confronts his father about the ease with which he makes decisions to commit dreadful acts for the sake of the family. He asks if Tywin ever did something against his will and solely for the family's benefit. The answer? Not drowning Tyrion in the sea the day he was born. The scene is obviously painful for father and son both.
Theon's new name. After his unspeakably horrific torture, mutilation and finally castration at the hands of Ramsay Bolton, Theon has been reduced to a weeping, sobbing wreck who can only beg Ramsay to kill him. Ramsay, being the nice guy that he is instead decides to give Theon a new name, as "Theon Greyjoy" is far too noble. He chooses the name "Reek" since he sees Theon as nothing but a reeking slab of meat. Theon desperately tries to cling to what little dignity he has by refusing to call himself this despite Ramsay beating him when he calls himself Theon, but after Ramsay savagely beats him again and again, he finally relents and starts to call himself Reek.
Cersei's reaction to Jaime's return. First her face lights up with Joy at seeing him again... but then she notices his lack of swordhand and realizes he will not be able to save her from her marriage the way Tyrion said he would.
A bit earlier, Jaime is rudely talked down to by a peasant. Brienne shares a look with him of "Yes, this is what people who aren't you deal with all the time."
"I'm going to find my little brother and I'm going to bring him home."
Tyrion and Cersei voice a question and a sad answer that surely many fans have asked themselves.
Tyrion: How long does it go on? Cersei: Until we've dealt with all our enemies. Tyrion: Every time we deal with an enemy, we create two more. Cersei: Then I suppose it will go on for quite a long time.
Immediately before this is Cersei's sad recollections to Tyrion of a baby Joffrey and how much happiness he brought her, and how these memories are almost all she has to keep herself from suicide.
Davos relates to Gendry he didn't want to be a lord and only accepted it because it meant a better life for his son. Sadly, serving Stannis eventually lead to his son's death.
In several of the trailers we see and hear the reactions of Jon and Sansa to The Red Wedding and the death of Robb and Catelyn. Sansa at least has Tyrion to confide in but Jon, who was out of contact with events in the south since Season 1 is seemingly numb from shock at how his entire world (outside the Nights Watch) has been taken from him.
This is made even worse when one remembers Aemon's speech to him in Season 1 in which Aemon revealed how this exact same thing happened to him and how he has been forced to live with the choice not to forsake his vows and save his family ever since, of which the only comfort was the fact he was already blind and frail with age and thus he did not really have a choice. Jon however has no such comfort.
In the DVD Commentary for the first season, Maisie Williams talks about how devastated she was when Margaret John died, before Maisie even got to meet her.
The 2013 ComicCon video "In Memoriam" starts out pretty funny, making light of the constant deaths in the series by flashing them very quickly with humorous subtitles and Soundtrack Dissonance. However, we eventually turn to characters like Maester Luwin and Septa Mordane, and then the music becomes somber, each dead character gets a proper tribute, and we end with Ned, Robb, and Catelyn. The final shot is just "The North Remembers" in the title font.
In the DVD Commentary for the third season on episode 9 The Rains Of Castamere, poor Michelle Fairley is very audibly (and understandably) sad by what awaits her in watching the episode (Richard Madden asks if this is the first time Michelle is watching episode after filming, which it was). The commentary goes on as normal with the two and the director all reminiscing of wonderful times during shooting, and then by the time the episode is over, Michelle is audibly stressed and crying from The Red Wedding. Considering what a wonderful job she did as Catelyn Stark (and the fact she didn't even get nominated for an Emmy; something many fans were quite upset about), you honestly wanna give the woman such a hug and make her feel better.
Michelle and Richard congratulated each other on their performances and then said "I love you". Real life Stark bonding.