A New Hope. The Binary Sunset scene. You know the one. It probably has something to do with the music, or the sense of longing to do great things and being tied down by duty. That, people, is why a thirty-year old movie is still making us cry.
A deleted scene where Luke meets his friend Biggs before Biggs goes off to join the rebellion. According to Wookieepedia, it was cut because the other friends-of-Luke scenes were cut. Those were cut for pacing and because Lucas was teased about making "American Graffitiin space". It's still a good scene. (Starting with the Special Edition of 1997, the scene where Luke reunites with Biggs as a Rebel pilot was restored, but this wasn't, so the later scene kind of lacks set-up.)
Luke returns home and sees the smoldering skeletons of his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru after they were attacked by Stormtroopers.
How about Biggs' death? This guy is pretty much Luke's best friend since childhood, yet he's shot down while making sure Luke makes it to the Death Star. Seeing Luke having to swallow his grief for the sake of the Rebellion is just heart rending. (However, before the 1997 re-edit all the scenes which show they're friends were cut, so Biggs appears to be just another pilot.)
Garven Dreis (Red Leader)'s death is also quite the Tear Jerker, especially seeing as how he knew he was finished and urged on all remaining pilots to let him draw Vader's attention for the sake of the Rebellion.
Obi-Wan letting himself get cut down by Vader but not before giving a smile to Luke who was about to escape. Yeah he became one with the Force and returned later as a ghost, but audiences watching the movie for the first time in 1977 didn't know that.
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...
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.
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."
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 he horror of the conflict in one short, simple scene.
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.
Father, I won't leave you, immediately followed by Vader/Anakin's death and Luke silently sobbing desperately.
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 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 after it's also a great Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
Anakin asking his mother if he'll ever see her again, knowing that in the following movie they will meet again but under such painful and horrific circumstances that perhaps it would have been better if they hadn't
Attack of the Clones. "Across The Stars." The credits version even more so, which segues into a mournful rendition of Anakin's theme from Phantom Menace before ending with the ominous bass strains of "the Imperial March."
Shmi's death. She's been captured by Sand People, tortured to near death, and dies in the hands of her son, just managing to get out "I... love..." before dying. And people wonder why Anakin's so messed up.
Anakin's utterly broken plea of "Stay with me, mom." Anyone who has ever lost a parent will know his sorrow.
When 10-year-old Boba Fett picks up his father's helmet after he was killed by Mace Windu.
If you read the "Young Boba Fett" books, he (Boba) mentions that he thought that Padme Amidala was exactly how he'd imagined his mother to be. The sight of him as such a young, innocent, idealistic child, and knowing what will happen to him in the future...
Revenge of the Sith. The whole story of Anakin's betrayal and what it did to the people he loved.
Anakin's entire downfall is so very, very sad. Sad because he's killing so many, but also because he's not the ultimate embodiment of evil: he's a good person who's gone way too far, and he fails to save Padme. He actually brings about her death by trying.
There's also the lengths that he goes to in order to remain true to the Jedi - he's scared about his dreams of Padme's death and goes to Yoda. Yoda tells him to let go of what he fears to lose, which he can't. Palpatine starts dangling the idea of how to save Padme in front of him. Finally, he reveals he's a Sith and Anakin goes running to Mace Windu. He's clearly conflicted, but he tries to follow the order to remain at the temple. When he finally breaks and goes, he finds Mace Windu, about to kill an unarmed Palpatine, and begs Windu not to kill him, first playing the 'he's a criminal who needs to stand trial' card, then revealing that he needs Palpatine alive, and finally attacks Windu, cutting off his hands so he can't deliver the killing blow, but leaving him alive. THEN Palpatine blasts Windu out the window with Force Lightning, and Anakin realizes that he's been played. The Despair Event Horizon has been crossed and the only thing that he feels he even can do is give himself over to Palpatine.
That scene in Coruscant with Padme standing on the balcony, talking to Anakin about how she wants to go back to the lake country and raise their kid (at this point they don't know it's twins yet) in peace, in a room by the garden, having a nursery done up, and you know that it isn't going to happen.
Order 66, once again aided with its quiet, dignified, sorrowful use of music.
The scene is particularly brilliant because it's the first time in the movies that we've seen just how big and diverse the Galaxy really is - with a montage of all the different planets the Jedi were fighting on. And all of them are about to fall under the iron rule of the Empire.
The worst part? This is the first time someone wholeheartedly addressed Anakin as "Master".
The scene on the bridge. Ki-Adi-Mundi is fighting along side his troops, raises his lightsaber to rally them for the charge, and as he runs towards the enemy, he just has enough time to comprehend how alone he is on that battlefield...
All the more heartbreaking if you've read some backstory on that guy. His name is Ki-Adi-Mundi. He had adventures with a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits type crew of droids. He's got a family. He's got kids. ...All of whom were killed in the bombing of his homeworld, a few months before he died. The actor playing him also played the Ood in Doctor Who.
To add to the heartbreak, watch as he slowly looks around at the clones, as if trying to comprehend the fact they're about to kill him before they do. Then he realizes, and his expression changes to one of wounded betrayal a second before he is gunned down by his friends and allies.
It's worse if you played some of the games. "When her death came, I pray it was quick. She earned as much."
When the music reaches its peak, and Yoda drops his gimmer stick. You can tell, that little green muppet is in agony; he felt the deaths of every single one of his Jedi.
"Why did the order have to come in AFTER I gave him the damn lightsaber?"
What really makes it feel wrong is that the clones knew about the plan the entire time and yet carry it out efficiently with absolutely no emotion. Not only did the clones know about Order 66, but they had been fighting alongside the Jedi as friendly comrades moments before they were told to gun them down. Damn it, George Lucas, that's just evil. "Aayla Secura told us we were the absolute best soldiers she'd ever worked with. It was a good thing we were wearing helmets, because none of us could bear to look her in the eye." Manly Tears.
Order 66 of the Republic Commando Series explains that some clones were aware that Order 66 was always going to be initiated (most notably the 501st Legion, among which was that unnamed clone who mourned Aayla Secura), but others were unaware and assumed it was simply an emergency order unlikely to be initiated. The latter were generally the older Kaminoan clones.
There are so many conflicting opinions on the subject we'd need confirmation form George Lucas himself on whether or not the clones knew anything about the order before it was implemented.
According to EU, not all of the clones obeyed the order and killed their commanders. Some even helped them escape from other clones. Not that it mattered, mind you. Most, if not all, of them were lost in the Great Jedi Purge save for a select few.
With the reveal of the organic chip implanted in their brain that makes Order 66 a must-do, it is actually not a shock that most clones did it; it was more of a shock now that some clones fought against what is essentially programmed in their brains. Hell, even those who knew Order 66 didn't think it could override their behavior, turning them essentially into droids. The clones are victims just as much as the Jedi are.
The giant iguana creature that Obi Wan was riding getting killed in the commotion. While it only had a few scenes, you could tell that there was a bond between the two.
Its death-cry coming in at the exact same time that the music takes a turn really hammers home the loss Obi Wan must have felt.
Think about Order 66 from the Jedi's perspective. You're fighting a war, and after all your struggles together with your troops, you can see the end in sight. Then, suddenly, your soldiers, your brothers-in-arms, your friends, all have their blasters pointed at you. Across the galaxy, pretty much everyone you've ever known from childhood are being slaughtered, now enemies of both the droid and clone armies. The Chosen One, your greatest hope, is killing defenseless babies and is now apprenticed to the seemingly-benign Chancellor, really the most evil man on the planet. In seconds, you've gone from war hero to reviled villian. Imagine how that would feel.
Padme standing in her Coruscant apartments, just after the Order 66 sequence, and she just starts crying, and it's awful. Because if you think about it, everything she has ever worked for in her entire life is about to go up flames - her marriage, democracy, the Republic, her people, the Jedi, her children, and her own life.
The music makes the whole thing worse. Seeing the Jedi in the Temple die was sad, and then there's that little Padawan kid (played by George Lucas' son) who tries to escape and almost makes it, but the clone troopers shoot him anyway. Bail Organa witnesses the whole thing but can't do anything about it.
What really makes that scene worse is the fact that that particular Padawan was actually holding his own. He only died because he protected Organa from the troopers when they knew he figured out what was going on. That boy was a true Jedi, putting the needs of others before his own.
There's also the death of Whie Malreaux (the boy seen in the holovid Obi-Wan and Yoda watch of the destruction at the temple). First seen in the novel Dark Rendezvous, Whie has prophetic dreams of being killed by Anakin. When he's rescued from his ancestral home by Anakin and Obi-Wan, he exclaims in a relieved tone "I'm so glad you're not here to kill me!" Then, along came Order 66...
Yoda's farewell to Chewbacca and Tarfull, as he says he will miss them, and a deleted scene which was included on the DVD release - Yoda's escape pod lands in Dagobah, he steps out, looks around him and sighs. It's a very poignant 30 seconds, and you can see him prepare himself for the solitude that will follow.
The scene of Anakin after killing the Separatists where it shows him standing alone, weeping in complete and total self-hatred. He knows full well what he's become, but feels he's beyond redemption already.
How about when Obi-Wan and Yoda are in the Jedi Temple after the purge, and Obi-Wan decides to look at the security feed? Yoda trying to stop him, to protect him from the knowledge that it's Anakin who led the slaughter, gets this editor every time - let alone the bit where they actually watch it.
Obi Wan: (quivering) It can't be... it can't be...
And then the bit where Yoda says that they must destroy the Sith:
Obi-Wan: Send me to kill the Emperor. I will not kill Anakin.
One of Anakin's few lines before his climactic lightsaber duel with Obi-Wan, coupled with Obi-Wan's rebuttal, considering that, after all he's done, Anakin is still driven by his love of and his manic desire to save his wife from death:
Anakin: You will not take her from me!
Obi-Wan: Your anger and your lust for power have already done that.
This clip. Particularly Obi-Wan's anguish as he yells "You were the Chosen One! It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them! Bring balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness!" and finally: "You were my brother, Anakin... I loved you!" speech (at 1:05), the pain in Anakin's eyes, the conflict in Obi-Wan seeing how far his best friend has fallen.
The utter heartbreak on Obi-Wan's face as he is forced to cripple and abandon his best friend and then when Padme dies in front of him is one of the saddest parts in the whole saga.
Obi-Wan's expression when he returns to the ship after leaving Anakin for dead. He just sighs and sits there in silence, contemplating what he's just done.
The most heartbreaking use of John Williams' "The Force Theme", as the greatest warrior in the galaxy could only watch helplessly as a young mother dies, holding her orphaned babies in his arms. Made all the worse by Padme's last words: "Obi-wan, is Anakin all right? There's still good in him, I know it..." And Obi-wan just has this heart-broken look on his face knowing what he did to him...
Seeing the deceased Padme holding the necklace Anakin gave her in The Phantom Menace. This was the most (comparatively) subtle and effective Tear Jerker moment in the saga.
The whole funeral procession scene, really - even Jar Jar looking solemn for once. It's very sad seeing Padme's parents and family walk behind the casket, but especially so after watching some of the deleted scenes included in the Episode II DVD - one subplot that was cut was of Padme bringing Anakin home to meet her lovely parents and family, as her mother remarks that this was the first boyfriend she had ever brought home.
There's a fridge tearjerker in there. It would take about fifty years for Luke and Leia to learn who their mother was. So their grandparents and aunt went to their graves without ever knowing about them.
The scene when Vader appears in his armor for the first time. Yeah, we know, the Big "NO!" killed it, but it was still moving in a way.
Hearing James Earl Jones ask "Where is Padme?" was such a heartbreaking way to link the two trilogies.
And after the famous big no? Vader goes on to tear the entire room apart while Palpatine watches with a sickening grin on his face. It's at this point where it really hits you that the Anakin you watched for the entire prequel series is gone.
The shot of the Death Star under construction and the Imperial officer in the background who was clearly a young Governor Tarkin.
At the end, an infant Leia is delivered to Alderaan. The planet is beautiful, and we see Bail Organa happily handing the baby to his wife, the Queen. The scene becomes hard to watch when you realize the next time that planet is seen in the films is when it's being blown up in now grown-up Leia's face.
The two hours of despair and tragedy of Revenge of the Sith, with a galaxy being changed for the worse, were made better by the last shot of the movie — Beru and Owen clutching Luke as they look out into Tatooine's sunrise as the Galaxy waits for he and Leia to create a New Hope
So much subtler than any of the above, but Padme's line when the Republic became the Empire hit just the right note in the face of it all.
"So this is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause."
The moment when Anakin is struggling to decide whether to obey his orders or to pursue Mace Windu and Palpatine. He stares out the window, and at the same moment so is Padme, both thinking of each other. They don't have any lines, but their despair, especially Anakin's, is palpable. Anakin sheds a single tear - perhaps knowing he is about to make a decision that will change EVERYTHING, and all out of love for his wife - before he departs. The music especially sells it.
The fact that the first person Anakin used the Force choke on was Padme, his own wife, is utterly devastating.
In the Death Star novel, we find out "Stand by... Stand by..." wasn't simply a pacing issue or a device to give Luke more time to blow up the Death Star. After Alderaan, the guy who fired the superlaser felt sick to his core over what he had done, and never wanted to blow up another planet again. But he knew that he couldn't do anything about it; if he refused orders, he'd just end up arrested and executed, and it would take them all of two minutes to drag him away and bring in somebody else to fire the gun, so it wouldn't accomplish anything. "Stand by..." was him trying to put off killing more people as long as he possibly could.
Another Star Wars example: X-wing: Iron Fist. The death of Ton Phanan. Aaron Allston is really good both at funny and tears. The author said on his site: "Although he feared death, although he struggled against it, Ton Phanan, deep down, didn't want to live." Also, a little earlier, when he is confessing to Face that he feels like his Emergency Transformationate his future, and he's getting farther and farther from who he once was.
Come on! That's all you could find from Star Wars? To writ: Corran dies in Wedge's Gamble (he gets better); in The Krytos Trap it's Mirax (who also gets better) and Diric (who doesn't) that tear people up. Also, Tycho's Return monologue at the ruins of Alderaan.
"I am Tycho Celchu, son of Alderaan, now orphan of the galaxy. I have come to this place of my birth to pay homage to who I was and those I knew. And those I loved and love still. It is my wish that when life abandons me, I am returned here to be among you, so that for eternity we may be together as we should have been in life. These gifts are but insufficient tokens of the love for you all that still burns within me. This fighter is another. It bears the colors of the Alderaanian Guard and transmits their code. It is my pledge to you, not of vengeance, but of vigilance. I hope you rest well knowing you will rest alone, because it is my life's work to see to it that no one else suffers as you have. I won't rest until this quest is complete. Rest easy. I miss you all."
Jesmin's death in Wraith Squadron, and also Falynn's for its effect on Donos. Same book, Kell bugging out of a fight, returning only because of Tyria. Phanan dying in Iron Fist, but also Dia's meltdown when she shoots Castin (who's probably already dead). Donos/Lara's and Gavin/Asyr's "resolutions" in Solo Command and Isard's Revenge respectively (both got more resolution later. One was better. One... wasn't). Wedge's speeches, including all of them in Starfighters of Adumar, but especially the one to Iella about the "two reasons nothing's going to happen to [him]". Chewie dying in Vector Prime, Karrde's fight for Yavin IV (including an in-universe example, when he thinks Shada is dead). Order 66 redux, when the Vong start Jedi-hunting. The fall of Coruscant, complete with impassioned speech from Leia. Wedge's supposed-to-be-suicidal stand at Borleias, when it almost become truly suicidal for him. Anakin dying. Jacen dying, Jacen coming back. Oh, and Pellaeon giving Han and Leia the painting at the end of The Unifying Force.
So, long story short: Star Wars? Good at emotions in any media.
Also, The Cestus Deception, in which a clone is given a real name, learns to think of himself as more than just part of the army, then gives up his newly valued life to save millions, leaving behind the woman he'd fallen in love with, with a message including the following: "Know that more than anything else in the world, I was a soldier. And know that you, and no one else in the galaxy, held this soldier's heart in your hands."
Pellaeon: Thrawn wasn't human, you know, no matter how human he might have looked. He was an alien, with alien thoughts and purposes and agendas. Perhaps I was never more to him than just one more tool he could use in reaching his goal."
Ardiff: * hesitates, reaches out and touches Pellaeon's arm* "It's been a long road, sir. Long and hard and discouraging. For all of us, but mostly for you. If there's anything I can do..."
Zannah'sordeal with the death of Laa. Made almost worse by the fact that the Jedi she immediately kills were only trying to protect her. And that they killed the only sane Bouncer left on Ruusan.
'Order 66', which is amazing considering it's the sequel to a series about Mandalorians. The bit just after Etain dies after being cut down accidently by a panicking Jedi Padawan who then falls victim to Skitira going berserk with rage , when everyone's dealing with what happened and trying not to break down completly. Darman's reaction and Skitira torturing himself afterwards with how badly he treated her.
The young Jedi Scout from "Yoda: Dark Rendezvous" wasn't strong in the Force, but she believed in her cause and tried to make up for it in other ways. Being a Jedi - everything about her boiled down to that, and Yoda's little speech about not giving up on one who burns so brightly could qualify for this trope. "Order 66" tells us that after her culture was annihilated/driven underground she got scooped up and most likely converted by the Mandalorians, who hate Jedi and are antithetical to them... well, she's not Scout after that. She's just another smug Mandalorian; the core of her being is gone. Sure, it's never stated that she got converted, and it can be hoped that she found other Jedi and left. But it's so sad to think of Scout losing herself and being another Proud Warrior Race Guy - the line referring to her implies that she thinks the Jedi thought she was of little value so she was rejecting them, and that was not true. Don't write her anymore, Traviss. Don't do that to her.
Except that none of that happened. Aside from Yoda and her master, Jai Maruk, she really wasn't very well liked by the Jedi, and Mace Windu suggested sending her off to the Agricultural Corps (where weak-with-the-Force, failed Jedi go). She was telling the truth. And once rescued by the Mandalorians and brought to Mandalore, Scout was offered the chance to become a Mandalorians if she wanted to and she turned them down.
Scout:"Oh, thanks, but I'm a Jedi. I can still be a Jedi, can't I? It's all I ever wanted to be."
Mij Gilamar (Mandalorian):"Of course you can."
And in Traviss' notes for the now canceled Imperial Commando 2, she stated that Scout would have remained a Jedi with Jedi Master Djinn Altis' sect of Jedi in-hiding. The only thing that would have changed is Scout being adopted by the aformentioned Mij Gilamar as his daughter, and not a problem in Altis' family-friendly Jedi sect.
Some people hate Karen Traviss's Republic Commando series and some people love them. But the whole series was full of tearjerkers. Her version of the clones are wildly tearjerking. Especially Skirata's boys. And their backstory. Even if they are psychopaths.
More examples are probably redundant - yes, Star Wars rocks at this - but this editor would like to add the farewell and attempted suicide of Depa Billaba at the end of Shatterpoint in a brief moment of sanity after the war broke her to pieces, as well as Mace Windu's monologue at the end; the death of Jai Maruk in Yoda: Dark Rendezvous as well as Yoda's speech about loss: "Do you think Yoda's wisdom comes at no cost?"
Another from Shatterpoint. Mace has to order some of his clone troopers to fly cover for him in unarmed transports - a suicide mission:
Mace: Detail your best pilots - wait. Ask for volunteers. Commander: It would make no difference, sir. Mace: What? Commander: We always volunteer, sir. All of us. It's who we are.
Also, Chalk's death from the same. A thirteen year old rape victim, fighting so that no one else has to go through that, gets shot through the stomach and keeps shooting. No one notices her fatal wound until they're about to leave and she is in the process of actually dying; she has to draw their attention to herself because she took the bullet without a sound.
There's a quiet one in Allegiance, when the Emperor's Hand Mara Jade "buries" her companion, a smuggler she was working with and had promised a pardon to, out in space as he'd requested. He'd come to trust her. Typically of Zahn, it briefly and economically hints at her character, emotional state, and her hidden awareness that Palpatine is bad, for all that she thinks of him as a "good and wise man" in his presence.
The Emperor had little patience with memorials, Mara knew, with extra contempt for the practice of saying words over the fallen. Mara said a few words anyway, half remembered ones from her childhood, before consigning Tannis's body to the emptiness of space.
The end of the novelization of Revenge of the Sith. Starting from "This is how it feels to be Anakin Skywalker, forever," until the end.
Oh god. That entire passage.
And then in one blazing moment you realise that there was no dragon. There was no Vader. That there was only you. Only Anakin Skywalker. That it was all you. Is you. You did it. You killed her. ... It is in this blazing moment that you finally understand the trap of the dark side, the final cruelty of the Sith...
Because now yourself is all you will ever have.
No, Anakin's death at the end of RotJ. Anakin's death scene is mostly told from his point of view, emphasizing both his guilt and horror at what he's done, while also his wonder at feeling, seeing, and tasting for the first time in twenty years without the aid of his suit.
Yes, there...he felt a raindrop on his lips. He licked the delicate droplet...but wait, it wasn't sweetwater, it was salty, it was...a teardrop. He focused on Luke once again, and saw his son was crying. Yes, that was it, he was tasting his boy's grief-because he looked so horrible; because he was so horrible. But he wanted to make it all right for Luke, he wanted Luke to know he wasn't really ugly like this, not deep inside, not all together...
The prologue in Revenge of the Sith novelization - with the dispirited populace and the children saying "Skywalker and Kenobi will come". Also meta because if you're geeky enough to be reading the novelization, you know what's coming later and the entire section talking about what their brotherhood means to everyone is all the more powerful. Doubles as heartwarming and awesome (when they actually do come)... and awesome even more because this is the moment when you know the novel is going to be as awesome or better than the movie.
When Obi-Wan finds out the full extent of Order 66 in the novelisation of Revenge of the Sith, he spends more than a page-and-a-half shaking uncontrollably with grief and despair before he pulls himself back together again. In fact, pretty much any time Obi-Wan allows himself to react to the tragedy is a guaranteed tearjerker, as he is obviously heading towards the Despair Event Horizon. And it only gets worse when he discovers Anakin's involvement...
A lesser example, but the novelization gives us a look inside the head of General Grievous and reminds us that once upon a time, the General was an actual living being who had things to care about. "He remembers joy. He remembers sorrow and he remembers hate. He doesn't actually feel any of them. Not anymore. He's not designed for it."
In Death Star, you get into the mind of the gunner that destroyed Alderaan. Turns out, he hated himself for not having the guts to say no to such a massive atrocity. He died delaying the Death Star from firing. Gives new meaning to the phrase "Stand by".
In the young adult series Jedi Apprentice, set before The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon Jinn and Tahl, a Jedi that he grew up with, finally admit their love for each other after years of close friendship. Immediately afterwards, she gets captured and tortured to death, nearly bringing Qui-Gon to the Dark Side in his grief-stricken rage.
The final book of the Dark Emperor series. While Palpatine is the LAST person in the universe worthy of redemption, the sheer emotion involved, and The Reveal that he didn't particularly AIM to be the Dark lord Of The Sith, but was captured by agents of Darth Plagueis in his infancy. What Could Have Been indeed, for both Sate Pestage AND Anakin Skywalker.
Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi - Redemption issue 5. You're really going to cry when Ulic dies.
Jedi Healer Hosk Trey'lis's death in Star Wars: Legacy is very powerful. Though he's a Jedi the guy's no warrior, and he's been captured by an Anti-Hero bounty hunter and handed over to the Sith, who proceeded to torture him for months. In the end, he's brought before the Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Darth Krayt, who wants Cade Skywalker (the above bounty hunter) to kill Hosk in cold blood to save his own life, completing his slide towards the dark side. Despite knowing full well what's going on, Hosk finds in within himself to forgive first Cade and then Krayt himself before accepting death at the Dark Lord's hands with quiet dignity. The whole scene exhibits what a Jedi should be so powerfully that even Cade is moved to snap out of his Start of Darkness long enough to get one of his few Crowning Moments of Awesome by defeating Krayt and his elite and escaping.
The ending of "Jedi vs. Sith". Most of the Jedi are dead, many of them imprisoned for a thousand years in a Force prison, but it's the fates of the three main characters that really brings out the sadness. Hardin dies horribly, Darovit is broken by a series of hard lessons from Real Life, and Zannah loses her innocence, becomes a murderer and then apprentices to the last—and worst—of the Sith Lords. The Jedi may have defeated the Sith, but there are no winners...except, ironically, Darth Bane, who wanted the Sith culled of its weak and stupid.
Star Wars Empire: In the Shadows of their Fathers has Luke, just a few months after ANH, visit Jabiim to try to support their anti-Imperial forces and bring them over to the Rebel side. But when he tells them who he is and who his father is, they all but lynch him - Anakin Skywalker had led Republic forces there during the Clone Wars and gave the order to abandon the planet at the worst possible time, so the resistance movement still hates him with a passion. Luke is rescued before they can beat him to death, but it's the first time he'd heard his Jedi father described like this, and when he asks about it◊... You know that he must have gone through worse after ESB, but without someone sympathetic to try and paint it in a slightly better light.
The first is Luke's talk about Chewbacca. Luke, talking to C-3PO and R2-D2, who are preparing a memorial for the fallen hero, remembers his early life, the first time he met Chewbacca, and what he felt when the Wookiee died.
The Death Star. C'baoth. The Emperor Reborn. All I ever do is destroy! And the one time I could've done something good, save a friend—if this war needed a sacrifice, why didn't it take me!? ...Do you remember Alderaan, Threepio? I didn't feel anything then, but I remember Ben's words. "A great disturbance in the Force." I felt Sernpidal break and suffocate. Now I know what Alderaan was like. I felt Chewie's passing, too. No planet can compare.
These last words are accompanied by a half-page panel of Han weeping bitterly alone in the Falcon's cockpit, and a small panel of Luke looking as old as Yoda.
The second Tear Jerker follows the first, and concludes the comic series. Han is in the Falcon, cleaning and repairing his ship, and forgets for a moment that Chewbacca isn't there anymore. When 3PO and R2 arrive, he sits down and shows them some keepsakes: a brush, some junk, and a twig from the trees of his homeworld. Han embarks on a short tale of a time that Chewie rescued his young daughter:
[Jaina] made him a drawing that day. She told him with that smile of hers—"I love you, Chewie." "I love you, Chewie." I should have told him that myself! He saved my children! He was always there for them, he died for them! And I never told him.