Tear Jerker: RWBY

It's your blood that's red like roses.

Blake was right. The real world in RWBY isn't the same as a fairytale. Although the series does seem lighthearted and optimistic on top of being portrayed in a laid-back animation style, RWBY is much heavier when a troper looks deep into it.

    open/close all folders 

    Volume 1 
Players And Pieces
  • When Ruby ends up rushing headlong into danger against the Deathstalker and the Nevermore, she's snagged by one of the Nevermore's feathers. Yang rushes to help her, but she can only watch as Ruby struggles to free herself, while the Deathstalker prepares to deliver the killing blow to Ruby. Had Weiss not intervened, Yang could have seen the death of her sister, while she couldn't do ANYTHING to save her.
    • This one goes further if you take into account their implied relationship. How many older sisters do you know who read their younger sister bedtime stories? Every single night? Neither of them ever mention their mother, though their dad gets a mention. Given the meanings of Red as Roses II and Gold, Yang could easily be as much her mother as her sister. Which brings the potential Adult Fear up a notch.
    • Becomes even worse after "Burning the Candle" because of Harsher in Hindsight, considering this is the second time that Ruby is danger and Yang can do nothing to help her.

The Badge and the Burden Part II
  • A fridge moment, but the likely explanation for why Weiss never had a bunk bed is because she had no one to share it with.
    • And then in Volume 2, we learn that she does have a sister. No one to share a bunk bed with, including one's own sister. One's own family.
  • "I've made more mistakes than any man, woman and child on this planet..." Ozpin said this in a slightly-depressed tone... Just let that sink in for a minute. What in the world could he have done...? Or maybe, didn't do?

Jaunedice Part II
  • The episode might as well be titled Harsher in Hindsight. Remember when it was sorta okay to laugh at Jaune being pathetic? Well, with Jaune's confession about how he found some forged transcripts and snuck his way into Beacon, those days are freaking OVER.
    Jaune: ...I wasn't really accepted into Beacon.
    Pyrrha: What do you mean...?
    Jaune: I mean I didn't go to combat school, I didn't pass any tests, I didn't earn my spot in this academy! I lied. I got my hands on some fake transcripts, and I lied.
    Pyrrha: What...? But, why...?
    Jaune: 'Cause this is what I've always wanted to be! My father, my grandfather, and his father before him were all warriors! They were all heroes. I wanted to be one too. I was just never good enough...
    Pyrrha: Then let me help you!
    Jaune: I don't want help! I don't want to be the Damsel in Distress—I want to be The Hero!
    Pyrrha: Jaune, I—
    Jaune: I'm tired of being the lovable idiot stuck in the tree, while his friends fight for their lives! Don't you understand? If I can't do this on my own... then what good am I?
    [Pyrrha reaches out to Jaune, but he flinches away]
    Jaune: Just—leave me alone... Okay...?
    Pyrrha: ... If...that's what you think is best... [leaves]

Forever Fall Part I
  • Pyrrha being on non-speaking terms with Jaune, on account of the above conversation.

The Stray
  • Blake after her fight with Weiss...
    • Hell, the fight itself. Many will want to label Weiss as a racist, but it turns out that her position isn't as cut and dry as that. It turns out that the White Fang, a organization that Blake herself was once part of, is responsible for the kidnapping and possible murders of both associates of her grandfather's company as well as family members. Weiss then implies that she may have suffered abuse, the extent of which has not been revealed, at the hands of her father due to his anger. Anger that was caused by these actions. On the other hand, the Schnee Dust Company is heavily implied to be incredibly cruel to its Faunus workers, bordering on if not slavery. You can hardly blame them for wanting to rise up, but is going so far really justified? Blake may have left them because of exactly that reason, if her trailer is any indication. It's a war that's caused innocents on both sides to suffer. It's so tragic to see the effects it's had on both Weiss and Blake and we haven't even seen what actually happened to either of them, but if what's implied is true then it's hard to fault either of them for their opinions on the White Fang. And now the team may have been torn asunder...
      • To further elaborate on Blake's perspective above: back in episode one, it was mentioned that the White Fang was once a peaceful group. Drawing conjecture from the Black trailer and what's been revealed in the plot Blake probably had to watch as the White Fang transformed from a peaceful protest group into the apparent terrorists that they are now. Blake wasn't just trying to justify the White Fang to Weiss but also to herself. Imagine, watching the group that once stood for peace and equality turn into the human hating organization it is today. Having to watch friends and comrades grow more bitter and hateful, resorting to worse and worse methods to accomplish their goals until they don't even remember what they were fighting for to begin with.
      • Blink and you'll miss it, but you can see a second of recognition from Blake when Weiss mentions the train car. Considering that was the mission that seems to have tipped Blake over the edge and leave White Fang, having to deal with that dual emotions of the things she dislikes about White Fang while trying to maintain her frustration with Weiss's apparent indifference to the Fauna perspective shot her - and might've been part of what forced the Wham Line.
    • Worse, when Blake runs away from the team after blurting out her secret in the heat of the moment. She runs out into the grounds, where she sees the statue seen in the opening of the Hunters. She looks up at them, with their raised weapons, looking heroic and triumphant... Then she focuses on the Creature of Grimm they're fighting: just a mindless beast to be put down. The comparison she's drawing is obvious, and heartbreaking.
    • Long story short, the entire situation is a massive mess of Gray and Grey Morality.
    • The sheer length of the argument counts. There's a Smash Cut between "near the docks of Vale" to the girls' dorm room and a shift from day to night before the two girls finally get to the meat of what's being argued over... and Ruby and Yang watching somberly as the argument drags on and on.
    • Ruby's absolute devastation as Blake speeds out of the room. She's watching her team fall apart, and she doesn't know what she should do.

Black and White
  • Ruby explaining to Penny why they're looking for Blake.
    Penny: I don't have a lot of friends... But if I did, I would want them to talk to me about things!
    Ruby: [looks down] Me too.
  • After the battle, Ruby looks up to find Penny gone. Cut to Penny being driven away, as her guardian scolds her for going out without his permission.
    Driver: You should know better than to go running around in a strange city.
    Penny: I know, sir.
    Driver: [drives off] Penny, your time will come.

    Volume 2 
Best Day Ever
  • Poor Tukson's fate. From what little screen time he had, we learn that, like Blake, he was a member of the White Fang and tried to leave, presumably since he thought they were going too far. Unlike Blake, he gets killed for it.
    • This can be potential Fridge Horror for a good reason why Blake doesn't want anyone knowing she's a Faunus - someone who may recognize her would want her dead.
      • Additional Fridge Horror: Was Tukson related to Blake? Not just because he's a feline Faunus, but because he owns a bookstore and Blake loves to read? We don't hear anything about him after this scene, but couldn't she at least have known him? Most of the upcoming drama looks like it's going to come from Adam coming back into the picture.

Welcome To Beacon
  • Blake's worry over the White Fang's plans. And worse, she knows that they won't wait for the world or the school to be ready before they move, and that they may never be ready even if they did.
    • Even after Blake had previously agreed to let the team know if anything was worrying her, she had to be pushed by Weiss into voicing her deep concerns about the White Fang. This implies that Blake still doesn't completely trust her teammates, which says a lot about how she grew up.
  • Ozpin's final words to a departing Ironwood. You can tell by his tone that he wishes for nothing more then to spare his students from the burdens that they will inevitably have to face.
    Ironwood: But ask yourself this. Do you honestly believe your children can win a war?
    Ozpin: [quietly] ...I hope they never have to.
  • When Ozpin is debriefing Blake in-flashback, near the end of the conversation, he says with the most heartbreaking look on his face, "If you ever feel the need to talk, don't hesitate to ask," implying that something may have happened to a student who did not take the offer.
    • The talk itself is also rather sad. Ozpin spends the first part behaving rather sternly, but at some point his expression changes to one of genuine concern. He's worried.

A Minor Hiccup
  • Penny just seems pretty terrified throughout the episode, and like she genuinely wants to tell Ruby but doesn't know if she can trust her, or anyone.
    • And after an incident involving a truck and the old man that runs the "From Dust Till Dawn" shop, it turns out that she's a robot.
    • When Penny begins to explain, her exact words are that she's "not a real girl." Not "normal," but "real." What does this mean for how she views herself?
    • The sheer desperation in her voice as she begs Ruby to promise that they're friends. You can tell just how terrified she is that Ruby will abandon her once she knows.
  • Weiss trying to fake a smile at the thought of talking to her father. As of this episode, the extent of his treatment of her isn't clear, but it's obvious that he's someone that she desperately doesn't want to talk to.
    • Weiss' line about wanting bunk beds as kids gets a whole lot sadder when we learn that she does indeed have a sister.
    • We see her trying to smile directly, we see her failing in the reflection of the monitor. "Mirror, mirror" indeed.
    • There's something very sad about the way she politely insists to the confused Schnee Company operator that she doesn't want to talk to her family. The operator assumes that like normal family, Weiss would want to talk to her sister or father, and Weiss knows that normal people would be happy to do so. The operator's innocent questions just emphasize how screwed up things are.
  • Ruby seems almost distraught over not knowing what happened to Penny. Her tone gets more and more stressed and she seems desperate to keep her friend close.

Painting The Town...
  • Torchwick quickly wins over the crowd of Faunus by acknowledging that he's not a good person and pointing out their common enemy: "the ones in control". While Torchwick is likely lying to win them over, it really says a lot about their lot in life that all he has to do is just remind them of that and they're willing to work with a known criminal who doesn't even try to hide his own (worse-than-average) Fantastic Racism against them.
  • Blake's explanation of why the White Fang wear Grimm masks as a symbol of becoming the very monsters humanity tries to portray them as. In many ways, its a sad reflection of how far the White Fang has fallen from its once-noble goals.

  • Poor Blake is not faring well after the last episode. She's dozed off during sparring trials, seems too tired to even keep up with the girls walking, got baggy eyes from a lack of sleep, doesn't want to eat, coldly turns down Sun's invite to the dance citing they both have better things to do, and ignores her team's suggestion that she go to the dance to let off some steam. Volume 2 is shaping Blake up to be one of the biggest Woobies in the show.
  • Poor Pyrrha cannot get out of the friendzone. Jaune even obliviously talks to her about his failed attempts to woo Weiss. It almost hurts how hard she tries to drop hints to him only to have them fly over his head.
    Jaune: It's...Weiss.
    Pyrrha: *Frowns* ...Oh... *Forces herself to perk up* What about her?
    Jaune: I asked her to the dance and she shot me down. Ha...big surprise, right? Heheh...
    Pyrrha: Well...I believe the saying goes 'There's...plenty of fish in the sea...' *Averts her eyes for a second*
    Jaune: That's easy for you to say. You've probably got guys clambering over each other just to ask you out.
    Pyrrha: Heheh... You'd be surprised...
    Jaune: Oh please. *Walking away* If you don't get a date to the dance, I'll wear a dress. Ha! *Pyrrha is visibly saddened as he leaves*
  • Jaune's attempt at asking Weiss out with a song. Her rejection of him is expected but what makes it extra sad is her comment that boys have always been more interested in the perks of her last name. It didn't even occur to her that, like with Pyrrha, Jaune probably has no idea who the Schnees are and is interested in Weiss because of her and not her rich family.
  • An understated moment is the reveal that Team CFVY was originally organizing the dance, but since they are running late with a mission, RWBY is finishing the preparations in their stead. Nothing is addressed on-screen now or by the time CFVY returns (several episodes later), but it's kinda sad to think that CFVY completely missed the dance / didn't get to see their initial efforts come to fruition.

Burning The Candle
  • The story of Ruby and Yang's parents:
    • Their dad had been on a team with Summer Rose, Qrow, and Yang's mom - then one day Summer never came back from a mission, it tore both children up, and their dad just kinda shut down. The reason for this being that Summer wasn't his first love lost; it was Yang's mom, who had left them before this. This drove Yang to find out what she could, to the same extremes that Blake is currently going through - so one night, when dad was out of the house, she took the sleeping toddler Ruby in a wagon and walked for hours, when they finally arrived at an abandoned house...only to find it's now inhabited by grimm. They wouldn't have lasted a second if not for their uncle Qrow.
  • And right after that we have the exhausted, feeble Blake insisting she can fight against evils like Torchwick, while Yang, fighting back tears and desperate for her teammate to stop self-destructing, shouting that Blake can't even budge a 17-year-old girl. Really shows how much these Huntresses-to-be just want each other's support in the middle of an uncertain moment.
  • Pyrrha once again tries to help Jaune with his love troubles and once again it obviously tears her up inside to do it, what's worse is that both Nora and Ren witness it this time with sad faces.
    Nora: [sad-eyed] Practice what you preach, Pyrrha.
  • Jaune's reaction to Weiss asking Neptune to the dance. It's subtle, but you can almost feel the pain he felt. It can definitely strike a chord with people who know what it's like to be rejected, no matter what you do.

Dance Dance Infiltration
  • Weiss on her own, trying and failing to neaten the single drooping flower in the vase, clearly she's using her natural perfectionist tendencies as an attempt to hide how upset she must be at being turned down by Neptune.
  • Pyrrha's story about her life before JNPR. She received all the love and support she needed from her former friendships and, naturally, she gave her best to live up to their expectations thus becoming the champion she is now. It's really heartbreaking that everyone's intentions were good, yet because of her feats, those friendships...vanished.
  • Jaune helping Neptune to get together with Weiss. He's giving up on ever being able to get together with her and even after learning how much he means to Pyrrha, he never really reciprocates her feelings. He is a guy who have lost his first love and thinks there is no girl for him to love out there.

Search and Destroy
  • Blake's reason for becoming a Huntress is that she realizes the world is a terrible place and that not many people were willing to fight to change that, so she'd taken it upon herself.
    • Worsened when Oobleck asks her, "How?" and she can't come up with an answer.
  • Oobleck sadly talking about the lives that could have been saved and the conflicts that could have been prevented if the people would just understand each other better.
  • Oobleck asks Weiss, Yang and Blake just why they had chosen to lead the life of Hunters. When none of the three can give a solid answer, he looks genuinely disappointed.

Mountain Glen
  • Blake's reasoning as to her weaknesses. Whenever she came across a situation she didn't like, or know how to respond to, she just ran. When Adam became more extreme in his methods, she ran. When her friends found out she was a Faunus, she ran. Even her Semblance isn't spared of this: she creates a copy to take the hit, while she runs. It's hard not to feel bad for her.
  • The story behind Mountain Glen. After the Grimm overran the aboveground, the people tried to make an underground village as one last attempt at survival. It worked for a short period of time, but subterranean Grimm eventually broke in, prompting the kingdom to seal off the tunnels. Their last attempt at survival ended in creating the world's largest tomb.
    • Notable about this is the way Oobleck actually slows down as he describes these events. Before, in every scene he'd been appeared in, he's always kept up a very quick pace in all speech; even when he's calm, he'll maintain his rapid speech. Here? There are many long pauses within his sentences. The impact this leaves is...rather jarring, in a way.

No Brakes
  • After winning almost every battle for the entire series, with little injury or consequence, the girls are finally defeated. And it is not pretty. Torchwick's plan to fill the town with Grimm goes off without a hitch, while Team RWBY are lucky to be alive. At the end of the episode, Ruby quietly takes in her surroundings as people begin to panic and seems to be on the verge of a Heroic BSOD. Of course, this being Ruby, that lasts barely a minute before she narrows her eyes in determination.
  • Ruby's futile attempt at escaping Roman Torchwick after she fell into Mountain Glen. From the moment she fell, she lost her weapon, leaving her defenseless, when up until that point, it had only been spoken of once or twice that Ruby couldn't do much of anything without Crescent Rose, here we see how true this is from her trying to punch someone to her quick apprehension, Ruby is helpless in that moment, and we see just how bad that must have felt by the look on her face when team RWBY comes crashing in to find her

  • It's brief, but Ironwood isn't happy that he had to go behind Ozpin's back to the council to ensure the peoples' safety in the wake of the breach incident.

     Volume 3 
  • The opening for the third volume manages to outdo the previous two in somberness, and considering the lyrical and video content of them, that's really saying something. First, we start off with a rose petal falling from the sky and landing on a lone rose while the text "Created by Monty Oum" appears, backed by slow piano music right before said rose is crushed by an army of Grimm. Later, we see Blake walking through what appears to be the Forever Fall forest (presumably the same one as seen in the Black trailer). She sees Adam, with the White Fang behind him, and he seems to look away from Blake, almost in shame of what he'd become. Later, we see Weiss and her sister, Winter, facing each other for a moment, only for Winter to turn away from Weiss with an angry expression on her face, with Weiss's face falling as Winter leaves. Same thing goes with Qrow and Ruby, with Qrow and Winter confronting each other as a photo of Qrow's old, disbanded team floats past. We see Team RWBY and Team JNPR falling from the sky holding hands, only to be blown apart. Team JNPR fall away, leaving only RWBY together, while Ruby looks on in fear. Around the end of the video, we see the titular team sitting back-to-back under a Dramatic Spotlight, with sad looks on each of their faces. Ruby's the only one with her eyes opened, like everyone else is just too drained to even respond to whatever it was they just went through.
    • Another one, in the same video. In the scene where they're all falling, pay attention to where Ruby's looking when the camera zooms in on her face, showing a forlorn expression. Where is she looking? To her left and downwards. Now back the video up and look who was on her left when they were all falling together.note 
    • Lyrics to the new opening, When It Falls, only make it worse. Previous OPs were a bit dark, but also uplifting, while this one sounds like it's sung by someone on the edge of Despair Event Horizon.
    There'll be no rest, there'll be no love,
    There'll be no hero in the end who'll rise above,
    And when it ends, the good will crawl,
    The shining light will sink in darkness,
    Victory for hate incarnate,
    Misery and pain for all,
    When it falls...

Round One
  • Ruby talking to her mother's grave, getting her up to speed on how her life has been.
    • The entire scene also feels like a tribute to Monty Oum's memory. The imagery, the dialogue...it's almost as if it's not just Ruby speaking to her mother...it's all of RT speaking to Monty.
    • You wanna know how sad it really gets? There's a shot of a bunch of birds flying the setting sun. Now, it may seem like some artsy thing, but if you know the person well enough, you'd know his signature is pretty much that.
    • When we first see Ruby in front of the grave (as seen in the page image), she seems far smaller and vulnerable than she does normally.
  • While Oobleck is going over the tournament rules, we see shots of people in various states of urban splendor. Then we see some faunus living in a camper out in the desert. Though, judging by Sun and Team NDGO's reaction to the desert terrain in their match, and the general informality of Vacuo's students, these could just be average people who live in Vacuo.
  • Weiss's response to her father calling her on her cellphone is to scowl, roll her eyes, and put her phone away without bothering to answer. Further proof of how hostile her relationship with her family is.
  • Nora's nervous breakdown is a bit over the top, but at one point she mentions that she and Ren don't have any parents and have nowhere else to go if Beacon doesn't work out for them.
  • A meta example being Ren's new voice. While it isn't bad by any means, it's a sad reminder that his voice actor is no longer with us.
    • As is the fact that the distinctly different feel of the fight scenes (the pacing of several attack exchanges isn't the same fast pace that Monty was known for) makes for another unpleasant reminder that Monty isn't doing the fight scenes anymore.
    • However, knowing that Ren is now voiced by Monty's brother alleviates some of the sadness.

New Challengers
  • Neptune flirting with Team NDGO even though Weiss is watching from the audience. It doesn't help that his attitude toward NDGO is exactly the same one he used back when he introduced himself to Weiss. It makes clear that while he has interacted with Weiss the most, she's still not different than any other girl he has flirted with.
    • Not to mention that Jaune gave up on his own feelings for Weiss and encouraged Neptune to have something with her instead.

It's Brawl in the Family
  • The interactions between the Schnee sisters just show how broken their childhood is. While they do genuinely care for each other, that care and concern is awkwardly squashed into an exceedingly formal conversation, and Winter resorting to hitting Weiss upside the head just to shut her up shows how far removed the structure of their relationship is from normal siblings.
    • Becomes even worse when compared to Ruby and Qrow's interactions at the end of Winter and Qrow's brawl, when Ruby latches on to Qrow's arm, and he affectionately musses her hair, and in general acts like a cool older brother to Ruby. The contrast between the two families, Schnee and Rose-Branwen, couldn't be starker.
    • World of Remnant: Huntsmen shows that Winter is a member of Atlas' academy, which is looked down on by others because of its heavy militaristic slant. If Winter had a better personality before, it's buried within Atlas' prim and proper training.
  • The fact Qrow is normally drunk qualifies. His sister disappeared nearly 2 decades ago, Summer is presumed dead, and Taiyang simply shutdown in grief for a long time. Qrow's response is to numb everything with alcohol.
  • It's brief and in the background, but during Penny's minor appearence she's exposed to something she clearly finds upsetting.
    • Certainly puts her actions from A Minor Hiccup into perspective.

  • The lyrics to Red Like Roses Part 2 appear to be sung from the point of view of Ruby, despairing at the loss of a loved one. Then the full version of the song was released, and two more verses were added. The second verse appears to be sung from the point of view of whoever it was that died, full of regret that she had to leave Ruby all alone, and saying she had every intention of coming home again. Then the third verse is a duet, which sounds like an angry argument between the two. The fact that the second voice is sung by primary singer Casey Lee Williams' mother leans even more towards the idea that the song is about Ruby and her own mother.
    Every nightmare just discloses
    • According to Casey Lee the song is indeed an argument between Ruby and her mother, Summer. Ruby is a young child angry that her mother left her alone to fight (and eventually die) and Summer is desperately trying to tell her why she had to go and apologize for it.
  • Although Gold is a happy song known to be about Yang always looking after Ruby, there's one line in the song that becomes this when you think about it. The second half of the chorus:
    Like the smell of a rose, on a summer's day/I will be there to take all your fears away
    • It's reinforcing Yang looking after Ruby, almost like a mother would. Now, what was the name of Ruby's mother?
    • In addition, this line:
      I'm so happy/Just to have you here
      • With the revelation that Yang almost got Ruby killed when searching for her own missing mother, these and some of the other lyrics sound like Yang is reassuring herself just as much as Ruby.
  • The lyrics to "Mirror Mirror" certainly qualify, especially when you take a closer look at some of Weiss's behavior throughout the series.
    Fear of what's inside me
    Tell me, can a heart be turned to stone?
    • It gets even worse during the trailer, where she sings the song while recalling a battle against an Armored Knight. A certain Youtube user, Fatlord27, put it best.
    Fatlord27: She looks disoriented, almost as if she forgot where she was. She just bared her soul to the audience, she sang this song about her own terrible loneliness and it was like she was calling out for help. Then she realizes where she is, and curtseys like the perfect lady she's meant to be. 
    • Even worse is that, while she's singing about her loneliness, Volume 2 reveals she has a sister. The nature of their relationship is never addressed, but it's clear that the two are not at all close.
    • After The Reveal in The Stray that implies her father was abusive in some way and it had an effect on her personality as she grew up, try these lyrics:
    Mirror, mirror, what's behind you?
    Save me from the things I see!
    I can keep it from the world,
    Why won't you let me hide from me?
  • The leitmotifs of the four main characters in the series seem to be at least half of the reason that the fridge horror and tear jerker is so noticable to fans.

  • The untimely passing of series creator Monty Oum on February 1, 2015. He had a severe allergic reaction to some medicine in an ordinary medical prodecure and fell into a coma for 3 days before passing. Our hearts go out to everyone who was affected by this tragedy. He will be dearly missed.
    • This tribute artwork originally posted on Twitter. All four members of Team RWBY crying and hugging Monty as he ascends to Heaven (a silhouette of angel wings can be seen behind him).
    • Even the most brilliant lights must cease to burn... Just think on that.
    • Pyrrha's mantra as she unlocks Jaune's Aura takes on an especially poignant tone in light of Monty's passing.
    For it is in passing that we achieve immortality. Through this we become a paragon of virtue and glory, to rise above all, infinite in distance and unbound by death. I release your soul, and by my shoulder protect thee.