Tear Jerker / Magic: The Gathering
Her vision was hazy, but she could see Ajani kneeling beside her. His face was a mask of pain; his body seemed rigid with shock.
- Dominaria as of Time Spiral. The entire plane has been ravaged by war and destruction, from the fall of the Thran to the Brothers' War to the Golgothian Sylex activation and subsequent Ice Age to the Phyrexian Invasion to the Mirari/Karona incidents. All of its most powerful heroes such as Urza, Freyalise, Lord Windgrace, Bo Levar, etc., have been dead for centuries or died trying to close the time rifts. Once flourishing societies like Benalia, Amrou and Zhalfir have been ravaged by the ensuing wars or abandoned/lost to time chaos. Slivers have been running rampant throughout the plane for decades and Phyrexian remnants still wander the land trying to win a war long over. On top of all of that, with the time rifts in full swing, random people and creatures are being ripped from their current place in time and dropped into Dominaria, where they either wreak havoc, have no clue where they are, or DO know where they are and just wonder what the hell happened to home. Just imagine what it must be like for people still surviving there, especially the people that have been alive for multiple wars.
- Elspeth's entire life is one Tear Jerker after another. She grew up on a plane ruled by Phyrexians, which is the height of Nightmare Fuel in of itself. She awakened her spark and escaped when she was thirteen, and for several years travelled the multiverse ( including finding her sword on Theros.). Then she came to Bant, and made it her home, becoming a knight and finding the comradeship and friends she dearly missed. But then the Conflux happened and her world fell apart around her, leaving her practically broken as Grixis invaded.
- After that, she wandered again, and when Ajani found her in the arenas of Urborg, she refused to return to Bant because she felt she was unworthy of being a knight.
- On Mirrodin, she is forced to watch the resistance fail and New Phyrexia rise despite her best efforts.
- On Theros, she manages to become a hero by slaying the hydra Polukranos and then breaking the siege of Akros. It seems as though her misery is finally over when she and Daxos fall in love and she is a hero, but then Xenagos brings it all crashing down. First, he uses mind control to trick Elspeth into murdering Daxos, and then she becomes a scapegoat after he ascends into godhood. Blamed by all of Theros, Elspeth struggles on with Ajani's help and finally confronts Xenagos, slaying him with the Godsend.
- To even reach Xenagos, she undertook the Ordeal of Erebos, which consisted of a Lotus-Eater Machine where she was married and had children on Bant. And she had to reject this illusion to advance. As a reward for this, she gained access to Nyx but also one request of Erebos. After slaying Xenagos, she asks to trade her life for Daxos'. But then Heliod enters, disarming her with ease, taunting her and then killing her with the Godsend out of sheer spite and jealousy.
- Daxos' ultimate fate is just heartbreaking. Erebos does as Elspeth requests, but he revives Daxos as a Returned who wanders endlessly in search of Elspeth, who by this point is condemned to the underworld.
- The flavor text for the Planeshift version of Slay. "The elves had the edge in guile, skill, and valor. But in the end, only sheer numbers mattered." To make things worse, the art shows the elves of Llanowar being overrun by Phyrexians.
- Sorin finding the long-dead corpse of his friend Ugin on Tarkir. He loses all hope of combating the Eldrazi when he confirms that not a trace of his old comrade remains in spirit, echo, or whatever remaining form but a miles-long-carcass.
- Sorin and Nahiri, The Lithomancer, witnessing the extinguishing of an unnamed plane and it's last remnant of inhabitants in 'The Lithomancer'. And the knowledge that this is exactly what has happened numerous times before, and will continue for as long as the Eldrazi roam free.
- The Lunarch's Journal and the defeated reaction of Comitant Dovid about the nature of the nature of Avacyn.
- "We are livestock. We are unwitting participants in our own cultivation. The church to which I have dedicated my life, the being that I have loved since birth, the boundaries of my world, all of it is a sinister lie. How strange this world is, and how cruel."
- Tarkir's storyline is pretty much one hell of a sad ride. Throughout the Khans of Tarkir uncharted realms, we're offered a distinctive, rich world with several complex characters (aside from the Sultai), albeit dying slowly. Sarkhan goes back in time, and we're given a glimmer of hope for Tarkir's problems to be amended... only to end up with a far worse present, where dragons tyrannise the plane and destroyed everything the clans held dear, like a particularly twisted Ironic Hell:
- The Abzan are in the new timeline ruled by draconic fascists who, while nicer than other dragons, still impose their morality with an iron fist and kill anyone who dares to worship their ancestors. They literally take babies away from their parents, and while relatively merciful, still operate on a social darwinist level, with Dromoka herself eating the "weak links".
- The Jeskai were converted into Ojutai's personal cult, have their own history edited, and are run by an elitistic platform in which dragons can do whatever they want without consequence. Fanaticism has also increased to the point that dissenters are considered heretics worthy of death.
- While the most warmongering clan, the Mardu were still reasonably honourable and valued altruism. In the new timeline, they have been degraded into murderous, cannibalistic savages that are pretty much Kolaghan's punching bags.
- The Temur were pretty much forced to become Atarka's personal waiters, always serving her at all times lest they become her next meal (and she pretty much revels in this, starving them and forcing them to hold her praises to remind them of their situation). As if that wasn't enough, she ate away all that they held dear, from their shamanic culture to their notion of family. Now, they're probably the biggest threat to Tarkir as a whole, hunting species to the brink of extinction and conquering new lands to sate their brood master's hunger.
- Individual characters suffered immensely as well. In the original timeline, Gvar Barzeel and Anfenza were adopted siblings, but now the former was never adopted because Dromoka doesn't allow it anymore, forcing him to stay with the Kolaghan and become a horrible, hateful shadow of his original self, while the latter was murdered for daring to worship her ancestors. Neither of them knew each other, which makes it especially tragic given how well developed their relationship was on the original timeline.
- Unsurprisingly given how sparks most often ignite, the five Magic: Origins stories will punch you right in the feels.
- Chandra had to watch as her mother, her father, and an entire village of innocents were slaughtered, and the one who did the slaughtering blamed her for it.
- Kytheon is sent by the sun god to slay a titan of Erebos that is on a rampage. He and his Irregulars set out to meet the titan and conquer it... just in time for Erebos himself to show up. Filled with arrogance, Kytheon throws his sun-blessed spear at the God, and Erebos casually redirects it back at him. Kytheon calls upon his magic to protect him, but the clash of powers instead releases a shockwave that strikes down all his friends.
- First Jace discovers that his mentor, the person who took him in when others condemned him as a freak, has been Mind Raping him over and over and using him as a pawn to keep the perpetual war going. In the ensuing mental duel, he wins... but only at the cost of losing all his memories. When the ensuing shock causes him to planeswalk to Ravnica, he can't even remember where he came from, let alone his family or childhood or anything.
- Lilliana may be the biggest bitch in Dominaria, but watching her desperate attempt to save her brother's life go horribly wrong and raise him as some kind of twisted zombie-thing will still bring tears to your eyes.
- Nissa's emotions as she watches the elves of Lorwyn slaughtering the boggarts and her connection to the plane's spirit lets her feel each death diminish it ever so slightly.
- Goblins have always been a source of Black Comedy, with all the various horrible things happening to them across time, space, and all the planes of Dominiq being a Running Gag for much of the game's history. Then you read about one of them crying her eyes out over the corpse of her friend and blaming herself for not being fast enough when one of her legs is half crippled, and it doesn't seem all that funny anymore.
- In Home Waters, we learn the story about how Kiora ignited her spark. After accidentally attracting a giant mer-eating serpent with her younger sister, Turi, Kiora desperately led the monster away from Turi, who turned around just in time to see her idolized older sister eaten alive. The trauma of that event ignited Kiora's spark, and she wandered the Multiverse for months before finding her way back. In all that time, both sisters deeply believed to have completely failed the other, and by the time of Kiora's return, Turi had sunk deep into depression, wasting away almost completely.
- The Believers' Pilgrimage is just one long string of tear jerkers, one after the other. It opens with Jace doing a mind-dive on his companion, Jori En, and reliving her memories of watching her friend — the only person who understood the way the Hedrons worked firmly enough to save Zendikar — die. Jace realises he's got to go to the Eye of Ugin to find the answers he needs, but Gideon refuses to help, insisting that the people of Sea Gate are more important. Jori En and Jace set out alone, only to be waylaid by a group of Kor who've given up hope and started worshiping Ulamog. They escape, only to discover Ulamog is working its way towards Sea Gate. Jace insists Jori En return to Sea Gate to warn them, but Jori En refuses — whereupon Jace breaks out his powers. She finds herself alone, having spent an unknown amount of time travelling back towards Sea Gate, thinking she was the one who convinced Jace to go on to the Eye of Ugin alone.
- From Shadows of Innistrad, Avacyn, the Angel created to protect mankind and preserve the status quo of the plane, has gone mad, and the card Anguished Unmaking shows that Sorin has no choice but to put her down like a rabid dog... and it hurts.
"Sorin had created Avacyn, so it was a cruelty beyond imagining, a pain beyond description, that it fell upon him to end her forever."
It is a grim duty to save the world from those created to protect it.
- On another note, Sorin and Nahiri. Think of what a punch in the gut the current situation is to Sorin. After Nissa messed up the maintenance of the seal of the Eldrazi, Sorin goes out of his way to, in spite of his words of washing his hands of Zendikar, locate Nahiri and Ugin so they can re-seal them. In Tarkir's original timeline, until Sarkhan, Ugin was dead, but he's found alive again in the new timeline. That only left Nahiri, nowhere to be found... and then he returns to his home plane and finds her wrecking the place in spite. Both parties are unaware, in turn, that four other Planeswalkers saved Zendikar from destruction. Nahiri is throwing a tantrum of spite over a problem that has now been solved, and Sorin's home he sought to protect is currently in shambles, with Eldritch Moon on the way to show things can seemingly only get worse.
- Promises New and Old gives some insight on why Nahiri's friendship with Sorin fell apart. The first time the Eldrazi escaped, Nahiri was forced to reseal the Eldrazi on her own since Ugin and Sorin didn't respond to her call for help. When she finds Sorin, she is overjoyed and almost speechless when she sees that he's alive, believing him to be dead since he didn't come to her aid on Zendikar. Sorin, however, brushes her off and makes the truth painfully clear to her — he didn't bother to help her or Zendikar since he had more concern for his own home plane, Innistrad. To twist the knife yet further, Sorin tells Nahiri to go bother Ugin instead and implies that he could easily have killed her when her spark ignited. This understandably breaks Nahiri's heart and sets her on the road that leads to her lashing out on her old mentor in Shadows Over Innistrad.
- Nahiri hates Sorin so much that she crosses the Moral Event Horizon. All those cults, the cryptoliths, the Drownyard? It was all to lure Emrakul to Innistrad, and let Her do the rest of the wrecking. Nahiri has become what she hated being viewed as, and just doesn't care.
- I Am Avacyn gives us the death of Avacyn shown on Anguished Unmaking... but in first person. Before Avacyn could kill Jace and Tamiyo, Sorin comes to intervene, whom she finds that she cannot harm, until he explains to her that it is because he was the one to create her and made her to be loyal to him. Acacyn's madness starts to subside, and she has a horrible Heel Realization before starting to blame Sorin for allowing her to be corrupted. Sorin finds that Avacyn is able to harm him because she had lost all faith in him. After a long and drawn out battle, Sorin is forced to erase her from existence bitterly, Innistrad losing its only protector.
- A Real Life example: Mark Rosewater's emotional Drive To Work Podcast #306 in which he paid tribute to Christopher Rush, the influential Magic artist and dear friend of Mark's who had died the previous day. Maro mostly holds it together for 30 minutes, but starts breaking down from the point where he tries to talk about his wife's fondest memory of Chris. The worst part is the very end, when Mark attempts his standard up-beat outro while he's clearly in floods of tears. It's heartbreaking.
- As of spoilers of Eldritch Moon and Uncharted Realms, Emrakul is on Innistrad, and everything is being warped by Her mere presence. Bruna and Gisela, whom had joined Avacyn's bloodthirsty crusade, have been warped into something that looks akin to the Thing!
- Uncharted Realms gives us the brief tale of the child Maeli in Shadows Over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon. The boy ran from home and was soon sought and brought back personally by Avacyn herself, before the angel descends into madness. Weeks pass, and soon insane angels are set upon his home, his fearful mother ushering him to run into the forest as blood-stained wings descend. He, in his running, soon comes upon a kindly old woman. She gives him a stuffed bunny, invites him to live with her for as long as he likes. This being Innistrad, the warning signs are there, and sure enough, disaster happens, just not how it would occur without Nahiri's and Emrakul's influence on the realm. One night, he sets to dinner with her, and with his first slurp of soup... the old woman's chest suddenly bursts open into a mass of writhing limbs and the now monstrous woman gives chase to the terrified child in a mad frenzy. He runs and runs until he somehow, still carrying that bunny, makes it to a squad of Cathars, all the while praying for Avacyn to protect him... and then, to crush the boy, a mad angel descends, not to protect him, but to declare to his face that Innistrad's protector is dead, and now there is only Emrakul. Then, the blade comes down, all the while he begs and prays in his mind.
- Kessig Prowler's flavor text gives a sad view on the state of the local lycanthropes, and reads thus:
In the wake of Emrakul, some werewolves' human forms were lost forever. A different kind of transformation has taken place.
- The card Peace of Mind in Eldritch Moon, especially to anyone who has lost a loved one to dementia.
Not all minds touched by the Eldrazi turn to raging psychosis. Some simply withdraw from this world into memories of a better one.
- In Release, we catch up with Ajani for the first time since Theros, and his actions on Kaladesh are interspersed with a flashback of him visiting Tamiyo on Kamigawa. From that, it turns out that part of his reason for throwing himself into his Rage Against the Heavens was so he didn't have to think about Elspeth's death.
Ajani: "I went among the people. I told them her story, as I'd witnessed it. They had to know. They had to remember. It had to matter. I walked and spoke, and did not rest until the words had taken root, and were growing on their own. It was important. And it meant... I didn't have to think."
"In the stories my people tell—the
old ones, the ones that
matter—the hero loses her mentor. She lives, grieves, and moves on to save the world."
The clouds rumbled. Poofy-headed rain charms spun and danced on their strings. Nashi didn't know what Tamiyo would say, so he said nothing. Sometimes Tamiyo said nothing, and that was the right thing.
At last, Ajani whispered, "It should have been me. Not her."
His big hands were shaking. The sharp hidden claws, the long tooths, the arms like tree trunks.
"My hero is dead," he said, hoarsely. "And all she wanted, all she fought so hard for... was just a
home. The simplest thing. The