Tear Jerker / RWBY

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ruby.png
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 

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 her confession.
    • 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.
    • This gets worse when you find out her time came...(see volume 3 for more details)

    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.

Extracurricular
  • 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.
    • Becomes even harsher when you remember that a certain someone will never see his efforts come into fruition either...

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 B.S.O.D.. 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

Breach
  • 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 
    • The same sequence becomes even sadder when we know the fates of the characters to come. Pyrrha tumbles out of shot completly, and at the end of season 3 she's been killed by Cinder. Yang loses her grasp on the group, which seems to foreshadow her losing her arm and subsequent apathetic depression
    • 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.
    • This scene was the last scene Monty worked on before his death.
    • 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.
    • Given the events of Fall, some of Ruby's dialogue becomes quite saddening in hindsight.
    Ruby: I think it helps that Yang is on the same team as me. I keep her in line.
  • 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.

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 friendlier 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.
    • In the opening titles for this volume, closer examination of the picture of Qrow's team shows that he was clean shaven, while in the present he has Perma-Stubble, which, given the above, may be a reflection of his emotional state.
    • Somewhat alleviated in that Qrow mentions Raven 'does try to keep in touch when it suits her' in a later episode.
  • 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.

Lessons Learned
  • Velvet's reaction to Coco and Yatsuhashi losing their match by knockout. Poor girl can only whisper Coco's name in shock. Thankfully Fox is there so they can support each other.
  • While Qrow speaks of it with pride, the sorry state of his team's photo implies he's been through a lot of pain with the disappearance of half his team. Harsher when you take into consideration that he called them the "coolest team that ever has ever graduated Beacon."
    • There's a glass stain surrounding Summer's image, and what appears to be tear drops over his and Raven's image.
    • Yang's reaction as well. She becomes fixated on her mother's image until Qrow puts it away and changes the subject. Perhaps she's remembering when she tried to find Raven as a child and nearly got killed in the process? Or perhaps recognizing her as the person who chased off Neo on the train.
  • Weiss and Winter's interactions in this episode make it clear that, not only does Winter very much so care for her younger sibling, but shares her rather low opinion of their father. Makes you wonder if Winter would've liked bunk beds as a kid, too.

Never Miss A Beat
  • Flynt Coal's father used to own a Dust shop, before the SDC ran him out of business. Weiss's reaction on hearing this is one of shame and regret, compounded by him not believing her genuinely sincere apology.
  • More of a Fridge Tear Jerker. Penny seems happy enough, but she (apparently) has no friends other than Ruby, and the only other people she's been seen with have been General Ironwood and a girl who appears to be her handler.

Fall
  • Seeing Pyrrha grow increasingly scared, uncertain, and generally nervous around the headmasters she once wholeheartedly trusted and respected is hard to watch given how she normally is. She sounds on the verge of tears as she speaks with Ozpin, Goodwitch, Ironwood, and Qrow, a far cry for her normally composed demeanor. She might be an ace in the world of RWBY, a pro at fighting, a world renowned champion, but she's still an innocent 17-year-old girl who was happily enjoying her everyday life with her friends - the weight of the next choice, whether or not to become the next Fall Maiden, is clearly something she wasn't prepared to face and can potentially change or even ruin the life she's been enjoying so lovingly until now.
  • Yang getting goaded into breaking Mercury's leg. Of course, what the audience sees is Yang attacking him for no reason, just to rub in her victory, and they subsequently start booing her. That includes everyone who watched the tournament which is broadcasted worldwide. Her angrily telling Mercury he deserved it doesn't help in the viewers's eyes, despite Yang only acting in self-defense. And on top of that, Yang winds up under arrest. Her confused, terrified expressions as it dawns upon her what just happened, and the shocked expressions of her teammates sell it. All while a somber piano version of "I Burn" plays in the background. Easily one the saddest endings in the series thus far. And the worst thing is, this happened in front of the whole world, this is something that will haunt Yang forever, and she just looks so vulnerable and small.
    • Think about it this way, "I Burn" usually plays when Yang's winning her fights, but having the slow piano version playing is almost like saying "Yeah, you won... but everyone you know won't look at you the same way again." It doesn't help that we see Ruby, Weiss and Blake's reactions to what Yang did.

Beginning of the End

  • It was sad enough just learning about Amber's situation in the last episode, being a young woman in coma on life support who is almost guaranteed to die soon. This episode shows that the reason she is in that state was because she stopped to help what she thought was an injured and crying little girl that resembled Emerald.
  • The circumstances by which Mercury meets Cinder and Emerald - his father dead by his own hands. According to Merc, Qrow smells like "my dad after a long day," implying that his dad was an abusive drunk. While his anger is understandable, to think that he was willing to kill his own father, just to escape the abuse, explains why Merc is so willing to kill.
  • Adam and the White Fang being forced to work for Cinder for their own safety not because they are evil, but because before then they had some standards and morals to not join and die for a cause that would only truly benefit humans.
    • Even before Cinder had gotten her power, Adam is unwilling to sacrifice any of his men under him for her "human cause", but afterwards he is stuck in a situation where he has no choice but to sacrifice the few for the rest during the breach, just to save themselves from Cinder's newfound power.
  • The fact that Beacon's reputation is being questioned by the citizens after what happened with Yang.

Destiny
  • It's clear that Ironwood really doesn't want to kick Team RWBY out of the tournament. He believes Yang went through something that made her react the way she did, but the public's opinion has essentially taken it out of his hands.
  • You wouldn't think it would be possible for the tough-as-nails, extremely cheerful and plucky Boisterous Bruiser of Team RWBY to actually be driven to cry, but you'd be wrong. It isn't "RWBY is disqualified" or "the entire world hates you" that drives Yang to tears, it's these words from her own team-mate:
    Blake: I want to believe you...
    • "... Blake!?" And the face she makes when she hears it. For Yang fans, it's a real stab in the heart.
    • Blake is initially reluctant to trust Yang because of her experience with Adam, and explains how he used to be righteous warrior like Yang before gradually becoming a ruthless killer. You can't blame her for not trusting Yang at the beginning.
    Blake: (To her team) This is all just... very familiar.
  • Ren doesn't really understand what is bothering Pyrrha, simply chalking it up to worry over Yang, and unknowingly rubs salt in the wound, telling her she carries the honour of Beacon Academy on her shoulders.
  • During Qrow's conversation with Yang after Ruby, Weiss, and Blake leave, Qrow tells Yang that Raven only talks to others when she deems it necessary. Also, she told Qrow to tell Yang that she considers saving Yang to be a one-time thing, and should Yang find herself in danger again, she's on her own. Granted, this could be taken to mean that Yang shouldn't just expect her mother to swoop in and save her every time she's in life-threatening danger, but the gloomy way Qrow says it seems to suggest that either Raven values her mission more than her own daughter's safety, or she's being an overly harsh Sink-or-Swim Mentor to Yang. Either way, it's exceedingly cruel, as being a Huntress, it's technically Raven's job to save someone whose life is in danger, not a "kindness" as it was put. After 17 years of absence, this being the first thing Raven sends Yang's way is more than upsetting.
    • Furthermore, there's Qrow's dismissal of Yang's side of the story; "Either you're a liar...or you're crazy." And when Yang asserts that she's not lying about seeing Mercury attack her, Qrow just shrugs. "Crazy, got it."
  • It's hard enough that everyone thinks you're a failure. Now imagine if not even your own parents believed in you. That's how Jaune's life was before meeting Pyrrha. No wonder the boy has such low self-esteem issues.
  • Jaune encouraging Pyrrha and trying to tell her exactly what, under normal circumstances, would be what she needed to hear. She breaks down at his words, loses control and forcefully slams him into the wall with her Semblance. Pyrrha completely breaks down in tears at her actions and flees, leading Jaune to ask himself just what he did wrong.
    Pyrrha (tearfully) I'm... I'm sorry.
    • Given that "I'm sorry!" is usually Pyrrha's good-natured Catchphrase, it's somehow wrenching to hear it in such a direly serious context.
    • What causes Pyrrha to break is when Jaune tells her to not let anything stand in her way, not knowing the implications behind his words, as he practically told Pyrrha that even if it's necessary for her to sacrifice her own happiness and identity to fulfill her destiny, so be it. She chokes back a sob and begs him to stop before he unintentionally pushes enough for her to lose control.
    • Despite all the times that Jaune has been clueless, it is really heartbreaking to hear him ask "What did I say?" after Pyrrha flees. For once, it's not his fault, but he assumes it is anyway because he's always been the failure.
  • Ruby discovering Mercury upright, healthy and whole. There's an awful sense of betrayal in Ruby's voice when the only question she asks is "What are you doing?", and she doesn't even look angry. She just looks sad.
    • And a moment later the look of utter horror on her face when she hears that Penny and Pyrrha have been paired up for the next match. She looked terrified at the realization that Penny could be seriously hurt or killed fighting Pyrrha.

PvP
  • Basically the entire season from this point on.
  • As Penny cheerfully greets Pyrrha before their match begins, the normally polite and friendly Pyrrha cannot even bring herself to respond. This is the same girl who tried to put on a brave face for Ruby, Nora, and Ren while hurting more than she ever has in her life. Instead, she looks down at her hands, probably thinking of how she lost control of herself and threw Jaune into a pillar.
  • The ending: Penny is torn apart by Pyrrha, sending the already-emotionally compromised girl even further into despair.
    • Ruby's reaction makes it worse. She collapses to her knees, actually shedding tears, and just pitifully calls out "Penny...". After everything that happened involving her sister, her discovery of Mercury and Emerald's betrayal, and the death of a close friend at the hands of another close friend, she has finally broken down.
      • Keep in mind that Ruby had never really been hurt or betrayed before. Everyone was pretty up front and honest with their intentions with her. Emerald, Mercury, and Cinder pretended to be her friends, won her trust, and, from her point of view, betrayed her sister out of nowhere. Then she sees Penny's broken, bisected body on the ground. Ruby has never genuinely known what it's like to lose a loved one; Summer went missing and was labeled killed in action when she was still very young. Now one of her closest friends is laying there in pieces in front of her eyes. Cinder managed to do to Ruby and Yang what even a Grimm invasion couldn't: stole their innocence.
      • Also, when Ruby finally reaches the arena just in time to see Penny torn apart, Mercury reaches her shortly after, and all he does is grin evilly and then turn back. Ruby is on her knees, crying, and he doesn't even feel slightly troubled or sorry. No, he looks like he's downright enjoying Ruby's pain. It's not exactly unexpected, after all this is the guy that killed an innocent man and then joked about it, but it really goes to show how little he cares for other people's suffering.
    • Pyrrha's reaction can only be described as a hollow look of horror after realizing what she has done. As Cinder begins her speech, the poor girl can be seen tearing up as well.
    • We also get to see a reaction from someone we can only assume to be Penny's father. We don't see his face, but his body language visibly tightens up and he grips the arm of his chair.
    • Jaune's reaction: He's too shocked for words.
    • Everyone's forgetting someone: Penny. Forget Pyrrha, Penny's dead.
  • The defeated way Ironwood tries to justify all he's done to Ozpin, made worse by Ozpin seeming to not give a damn and coldly order him "You brought your army to my kingdom James. Use it!". What's significant isn't that he's guilty enough to actually need to explain himself, but he's worried that Cinder's words will actually steer Ozpin towards blaming him, or otherwise locking him out even more.

Battle of Beacon
  • Emerald's expression as she looks down on the city while the distressed voices of hundreds of innocents at the mercy of the Grimm can be heard right below her. It stands in stark relief to Cinder's triumphant smirk and Mercury's cocky amusement.
  • In order to preserve the lives of their students, Oobleck and Port choose to stay inside the colosseum and fight the horde of Griffons on their own. Port's final words are challenging "Barty" to one final match. When Ruby returns to the stadium, the Grimm are all gone, and so are Port and Oobleck.
  • One of Ozpin's monitors shows several civilians trying to take shelter on a rooftop during the invasion. One is frantically waving for help, another appears wounded, and a Grimm is climbing toward them...
  • One scene shows students and civilians evacuating to the ships. One student is seen crying while her friend is trying to comfort her.
  • Just like Port and Oobleck, Ironwood is dedicated to protecting the people of Vale. He takes down two Beowolves single-handedly before he takes to the skies, intent on getting his airship back from Torchwick. Unfortunately, the Atlesian knights on his transport are hacked by the Black Queen virus. All James can manage is a terrified "no!" before they open fire, resulting in an explosion inside the cockpit, the ship itself spiraling down to an inevitable crash. It wasn't until the following episode that we found out he'd survived the crash, as his fate was left ambiguous.

Heroes and Monsters
  • The exchange between Blake and Adam during their fight doesn't excuse Adam's behaviour but does indicate his life experiences have utterly destroyed his belief in any kind of peaceful resolution between humans and faunus. Blake wanted equality and thought Adam wanted the same thing, but he believes peace is impossible.
    Blake: I never wanted this! I wanted equality! I wanted peace!
  • Hearing Blake sob when Adam backhands her to the ground. This girl has faced down and taken brutal blows from Paladins and massive Grimm, without uttering a sound. But this breaks her. She barely even tries to fight back.
  • When Blake attempts to shield Yang from Adam, his comment makes it clear he blames Blake for his own behaviour and that his actions are just the result of Blake being unreasonable. It's the well-known behaviour of a domestic abuser to the person they abuse.
  • The fight between Adam, Blake and Yang is appalling from start to finish (YouTube reaction compilation, 08:51-08:54). He claims his behaviour is Blake's own fault, and tells her he will destroy everything she loves before stabbing her through the stomach. Yang's response is to explode with fire and rage and charge to Blake's defence. Blake once compared Yang and Adam, worrying that she couldn't trust Yang given how Adam gradually transformed into a monster. She tragically receives her answer in this fight. With a single strike, Adam severs Yang's leading (right) arm and she crashes to the ground unconscious from the shock of the injury. The moment occurs in slow motion and a silhouette of black and blood-red imagery.
    YouTuber comment: Stunned silence...tells you how powerful that scene is...''
  • Watching Pyrrha first shriek in agony, then scream and cry because the transfer failed, is horrible.
  • Amber's death. Especially since after the arrow hits her, Amber actually seems to briefly wake up. The poor girl can only look around in bewildered agony before she succumbs. And the last thing she sees is the very woman who attacked her in the first place.
  • Roman's death. He had a number of fans and he gets taken out by being Eaten Alive.
    • His speech. He makes it very clear that all idealism is gone for him, and that he no longer believes in heroes. Despite Ruby standing steadfast, with the events of the season, and especially the finale, it's very clear that, at least for now, he's right.
    Roman: It's not what I have to gain, it's that I can't afford to lose!

End of the Beginning
  • Ruby's reaction to seeing what happened to her older sister.
  • Blake reaching to hold the unconscious Yang's remaining hand, while tearfully apologizing.
  • Pyrrha's Last Kiss to Jaune before shoving him in a locker and launching him to safety with her last words to him being her Catchphrase of "I'm sorry" said in the most heartbreaking tone imaginable.
  • Jaune calling Weiss and begging her and Ruby to save Pyrrha, before throwing his scroll away in frustration.
    • The entire delivery of Jaune's dialogue in that scene is very emotionally draining and it speaks volumes of Miles Luna's ability as a voice actor. You can perfectly feel the anguish and desperation in Jaune's voice.
  • Pyrrha's death. Despite putting up the most impressive fight anyone could have imagined, ultimately, the invincible girl falls. Between this, Yang losing an Arm and Penny's death, it seems there truly is no victory in strength.
    • Just the way that Pyrrha dies. She's been painfully crippled, and then shot through the heart, just like Amber. She doesn't go out with a boom, and can only whimper tearfully before Cinder disintegrates her entirely.
    • Don't forget that Pyrrha has a mother back in Mistral. And without the CCT, communications are off. Does she even know what happened to her daughter?
    • On a meta level: this episode was released on Valentine's Day for those who do not have early access. Rooster Teeth sank one of the show's most popular ships on the day that love is celebrated the most.
  • The look on poor Ruby's face when Pyrrha is disintegrated right in front of her. She already had one friend torn to bits earlier that very day, and she wasn't even present for the act itself the first time. This time, she has front row seats to the loss of one of her closest companions, and her eyes couldn't look more broken.
  • It's subtle, but evident. When Ruby recounts what happened on top of the Tower, there's a very evident note of pure hatred in her voice when she says Cinder's name. Before this, the only person she had ever held personal animosity for was Roman Torchwick, and even that was more on principal of him being a dirtbag, not any personal vendetta.
    Ruby: (With tears starting to stream down her face) I...I.. I got to the top, and then I saw Pyrrha.... and Cinder! And then everything went white-!
  • The revelation that Weiss has been taken back to Atlas, Blake has run away, and that Yang is too emotionally drained to even care, much less do anything about it. For the time being, at least, Team RWBY is effectively no more.
    • This happened while Ruby was still comatose after Cinder's attack. Over the course of only a few days, Ruby has lost her school, two of her friends, and now she's lost her entire team.
    • Weiss can't be held at fault for her father forcing her to return, and it's hard to blame her father for forcing her to.
    • Blake isn't just running away from the pain this time. She's doing it for the sake of the people she loves. Yang's arm was just the beginning of Adam's revenge against Blake. Poor girl is filled with regret and guilt thinking Yang's fate was all her fault. Not helping is that Blake fired two shots at Adam, who absorbed them with his sword. From Blake's POV, those shots might've provided enough extra power to dismember Yang.
    • The way this has affected poor Yang is also soul wrenching. When Ruby asks where Blake went and why, Yang says she doesn't know with an utterly crushed expression (it's hard to see but her bottom lip is quivering in this moment). She follows by averting her eyes and angrily saying that she doesn't care, but it's obvious that she's lying. Yang has always been the girl that gets left behind, and by the end of the episode, even Ruby is gone.
  • When Ruby leaves to let Yang have some time alone, she tells her she loves her. Yang doesn't answer back.
  • The fact that Sun was the one who saw Blake for the last time.
  • When Ruby leaves it's clear that at least a few weeks have passed as autumn has given way to the first snows of winter. But Yang is still just lying there in her bed, still too broken and depressed and consumed by self-pity to care about anything. It's heartbreaking to see a character that was always so strong and so upbeat languishing for so long in such a state
  • The fall of Beacon hits everyone hard. But not as hard as the students who didn't have a home anywhere else, who don't have any relatives waiting for them with open arms, like Ren, Nora, and Blake.
  • Seeing Goodwitch is still trapped inside Vale during the ending montage. She's still desperately trying to fix things, like she always does, but she's too exhausted to even repair the outside of a store.
  • The second credits song, "Cold". See the Soundtrack folder below for specifics.
  • Monty Oum, 1981-2015. "We love you, Monty."

    Soundtrack 
  • From Volume 1:
    • 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 noticeable to fans.
    • 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 curtsy 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?
    • "From Shadows" is a furious anthem from the perspective of The White Fang, an organization that Blake was born into, about how humanity had mistreated and oppressed them for long enough, and now they're about to fight back, complete with a somber piano piece at the start and end of the song.
    • 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 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
      It's your blood that's red like roses...
      • 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.
  • From Volume 3:
    • A small portion of "I'm the One" alludes to Mercury's childhood of abuse, what with being beaten and hated by his father, as well as Emerald's lack of a home, having no one to love her.
    • "It's My Turn" is confirmed by Jeff Williams to be from Weiss's perspective about growing up under her father's thumb, and how she'd finally found her own path after years of enduring criticism, being emotionally broken, being told to feign a smile, being forced her to abandon her dreams, and being told that his abuse was something she was supposed to appreciate.
    • The lyrics from "Mirror Mirror Part II" are about how Weiss was constantly put down, had her dreams belittled, and was prevented from forming any friendships. Despite all of this, she feels as if she has no right to feel sad or lonely, since she'd grown up with privilege that few else had.
    • "Cold", the second credits song of the season finale (which was extended upon its inclusion on the soundtrack). Its motif feels like an ode about Jaune's feelings for Pyrrha when she comes into his life... as well as when she leaves. Add that with the Reality Subtext of Monty's death, and it's easy to get the tears flowing.
      I never thought a hero, would ever come my way,
      But more than that, I never thought, youíd be taken away,
      Now itís cold without you here, itís like winter lasts, all year.

    Other 
  • Jen Brown's tweets post-Volume 3, thanking the fans for their support and sadly confirming that Pyrrha truly is dead.
    (11) I end by giving my heartfelt thanks to you the viewer. You guys are seriously THE BEST. And for the last time, I'm Sorry! #RWBY
  • This fanmade video, which puts footage of Pyrrha leading up to her death over the famous "ain't that a bitch" monologue from Red vs. Blue. The real tearjerkerness lies in how perfect and prophetic the monologue is compared to Pyrrha's life and fate, describing a hero that performs a Heroic Sacrifice although they'll never know if they really saved the day.
  • As if Volume 3 itself wasn't sad enough, its DVD has music that will probably reduce you to tears on the main menu alone.

"I don't have to say goodbye..."

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/TearJerker/RWBY