Tear Jerker: Return of the Jedi

  • Yoda's death, as he struggles to tell Luke as much as he can, and finally lets him know there is another Skywalker before ascending to a higher plane of existence. Especially after all the characterization he got in the prequels and after understanding the significance of what he said.
  • The rancor's owner sobbing because his pet has just been murdered. Even worse in that this rancor was horribly abused in Jabba's care and that they're not normally killing machines, and that it's owner was actively trying to escape with it.
    • One that caught the filmmakers completely off guard: Malakili, Jabba's rancor keeper, weeping after its death, just like any other pet owner in the situation. Tales from Jabba's Palace reveals that he was planning to escape with his pet for a more peaceful life, but then this Jedi showed up...
      • One could go further than that; to Luke, the rancor was a dangerous creature who needed to be killed; to the rancor keeper it was a pet. Such differences in attitudes towards the rancor echo those towards real-life pets, such as between someone who was attacked by a dog and the owner of said dog.
      • Actually expanded on in Backlash: Luke watches some Rancors in the wild and remembers Jabba's. He is remorseful that he had to kill it, believing them to be beautiful creatures, but he states that Jabba's rancor had been so mistreated and abused that it couldn't have been helped by anyone. Death was a mercy for its existence of being used as an executioner and gladiator beast. That last part is made even worse by the reveal in a short story that Jabba had the rancor fight dangerous creatures for sport, and he was planning to have it fight a Krayt Dragon which would have destroyed it without effort.
      • Even the RotJ novelization points out that the rancor is just as much a victim of Jabba's cruelty as the people it eats.
  • No matter how you might feel about the Ewoks, you probably still get affected when one of them is killed, and another who barely avoided the blast tries to wake it up before realizing the truth. Speaking Simlish at its most moving.
    • It's the agonized scream of the dead Ewok that sells it. Think about it from their perspective. They've openly volunteered to fight an enemy that overpowers them in every respect beyond sheer numbers. They're losing, they're being driven back, and then we get to see firsthand the consequences of their decision to fight. Its quite heartrending, and sums up the horror of the conflict in one short, simple scene.
  • Luke turns himself over to Vader on Endor, trying to reach the part of Anakin and believing that there is still good in him. Vader finally says in a tone "It is too late for me son. The Emperor will show you the true nature of the Force. He is your master now." Luke sadly responds, "Then my father is truly dead." But secretly, he still would not give up.
    • The Final Duel, the climax of the entire story. The music when Luke and Vader are fighting is some of the most moving in the series.
    • And there's the moment when Luke throws away his lightsaber and says "I'll never turn to The Dark Side. I am a Jedi, like my father before me," which is also a Moment of Awesome.
    • Anakin Skywalker's redemption, with Luke being tortured with lightning by Palpatine.
      • Vader's overall slumped almost lifeless stance when his son is being tortured. It really drives home how much damage Palaptine did to him.
      • Even more when he begs Vader to help him: "Father... help me, please..."
      • Can you imagine his expression under that mask? The horror, pride, envy, and agony that Anakin has to be feeling at that second? "My son. My flesh. He's been through so much and it never broke him. Why did it break ME? How can I ever live up to HIS example?" THAT is what makes that scene so powerful. Luke is reminding Anakin Skywalker of what it MEANS to be a Jedi... something he'd forgotten for decades.
    • Vader looking from Luke to the Emperor, then grabbing the Emperor while the Force theme plays.
    • "Just once, let me... look on you... with my own eyes." Especially considering that in his final moments, he accepted death and saying goodbye without anger or regret, coming full circle.
      • This exchange between Luke and Anakin before he dies. Could also be a heartwarming moment
        Anakin: Now... go, my son... Leave me...
        Luke: No... No, you're coming with me. I'll not leave you here, I've got to save you!
        Anakin: You already have... Luke... You were right... You were right about me... Tell your sister... you were right...
    • "Father, I won't leave you!" Immediately followed by Vader/Anakin's death and Luke quietly sobbing alone.
    • The look on Luke's face when he takes the mask off and sees his father's real face for the first and last time. You can tell he wasn't sure what to expect and that seeing him for what he really is —a scarred, broken old man— is both relieving and heartbreaking.
    • The novelization ramps all of this all the way PAST 11 and into infinity; even before Anakin dies, Luke weeps over the fact that the last sights and sounds his father will experience is the chaos in the Death Star hanger bay, not to mention over Anakin's appearance. Anakin, for his part, reassures Luke, "Luminous beings are we...not this crude matter." Which, of course, was first told to Luke by Yoda back on Dagobah, in a nice Call Back moment.
    • The music used during the "Vader's helmet comes off" scene also warrants a mention: It's a brilliant combination of eerie and mysterious, soft and touching, and heartbreaking. Never has the Imperial Death March sounded so unique.
    • Anakin's funeral scene. And when Luke sees the Force ghosts of Anakin, Yoda and Obi-Wan during the victory celebration scene afterwards, it's also a great heartwarming moment.
    • For some reason, the montage of free people partying all over the galaxy while the Awesome Music plays (maybe it's because the saga's over... well, for about 32 years).