You encounter one at the very start of the game. Cless and Chester goes hunting, and their town gets attacked and leveled while they're away. Cless is effectively orphaned as a result and Chester loses his little sister. That's right, the game slams one in your face within 5 minutes of starting the game!
After you've avenged Arche's friend, her ghost thanks the party.
The scenes in Ary. The background music didn't help things. Although to be fair, it's of the happy variant since the player has come far and the party is about to enter the very definitive Final Dungeon.
The end of the game, where the party has to disband. Arche and Klarth have to return to the past (although Arche's longevity means she is still alive in the present of the other party members, who are re-united with her in the post-credits scene).
Tales of Destiny and its sequel
In the remake, Leon Magnus' death is turned from a sadistic Jerkass death (who deserves it) into one Heroic Sacrifice. As he sends the party to safety while dooming himself to drown in a flooding death. (And to think that his own mode in the Director's Cut still have him end up this way...)
The sequel of the game had this on the flashback scenes, especially on Loni and Nanaly. In Loni's case, watching in full blown detail on how Stahn was killed by Barbatos and how he blames himself for initially causing all of them by getting taken as a hostage was just crushing. Nanaly, on the other hand, after being given an alternate world where her dear brother was alive instead of dying, had to face the truth full blown that it's just fake happiness and while her brother constantly tells her that he exists, ALL WHILE CRYING, Nanaly had to say good bye on him, in tears, as the brother vanished. And she ends up bawling on Loni's shoulders. Seeing the usually strong hearted girl like her to eventually break down like that...
Harold: Nii-san, nii-san! Karell: Harold?...Thats odd...am I hallucinating? You always calls me Aniki... Harold: Don't speak! The wound would get worse! Karell: What's wrong Harold? Why are you...crying? Are you...being bullied again? Don't worry...Nii-chan will protect you... Harold: I said don't speak! Karell: Harold...no matter what...I'll always be...with...you...
Even sadder when you realize that this happens in the past timeline. Cue to the future, Karell's soul got kicked from the Swordian to be replaced by Miktran, the very guy he sacrificed his life to defeat, and then used to manipulate Hugo Gilchrist and caused all the troubles in the first series. You can't help feeling sorry for both the Berseliuses.
First game, Mary recovering her memories and talking about them with her husband. The whole scene is sad, sad, SAD. It's even sadder when he tries to kill her and the rest of the party. And it worse when he dies. This goes DOUBLE when you consider that Mary was a Cloudcuckoolander and the happiest party member.
Another from the sequel, when the realization hits that if the party achieves their goal of destroying the goddess Fortuna, time will be rewritten so that everything that was caused or influenced by her, directly or indirectly, never happened- meaning the party, save for Kyle and Loni, will have never met, and none of them will remember the journey or each other. Not only that, but Reala and Judas, who only exist because of Fortuna, will never have existed in the first place, and they both knew this all along. Granted, Reala does recover in the ending, Judas is implied to have survived somehow, and you can visit the 9-year-old Nanaly, but it's still a pretty emotional moment.
Tales of Eternia
Pretty much every Trial of Seyfert that Reid has to go through is just heartwrenching to varying degrees.
Tales of Symphonia and its sequel
The manga version has a sidestory featuring Zelos' past and present. We knew what was going to happen but it was still hard to watch Zelos lose his mother.
According to the manga, Zelos left the crystal with Seles as a reminder that they will always be siblings *cries*
This moves to heartwarming territory when Zelos asks Seles to live with him, at Lloyd's urging.
Zelos's death scene. Followed by the rematch in the colosseum against Seles, who in really cared for her half brother and is wanting to avenge him. Made even WORSE if you learn Zelos's backstory where his mother died cursing his existence, and essentially that the reason he joined Cruxis in the first place was because he genuinely believed he was nothing but an obstacle everyone wanted to get rid of. The horrible realization comes about that if Zelos dies, he does so without ever once in his entire life feeling like he had any real value.
During the first third of the game, the cutscenes after every boss battle, when it becomes increasingly obvious just how much Colette is suffering for her quest, all start to add up, culminating in her losing her soul. The tearjerker factor of what happens to Colette also has later effects: when you have her in your fighting party and she doesn't speak - no start-of-battle quote, no incantations during her spells, nothing. It's incredibly jarring, and makes the emotional response even stronger because you don't realise all at once what's wrong.
The details about the trial and error of chosens, and the fact that Zelos, whose own experiences as chosen either are heavily downplayed if not brought up at all compared to Colette's, could also be suffering the same symptoms she suffered (as her symptoms were from her cruxis crystal, not the "trials" she endured) albeit unnoticed by the party. And you'll only ever see a hint he may have experienced these symptoms through the fact he has wings just like her, which he only exposes in the ending where you kill him, or in the sequel.
Raine's backstory, and especially the scene where she confronts her mother. Seeing the usually cool, rational, level-headed Raine break down in front of the brother she raised, who can do nothing but realise what Promotion to Parent meant to her... Yeah. Also, the fact that on some subconscious level, Virginia seems partially aware of Raine's distress, only in her insanity, she begins to comfort the doll that she thinks is Raine.
Sheena during Corrine's death, especially considering that Corrine, up until she met Lloyd and co, was Sheena's only friend and the only one who believed in her wholeheartedly. So when the little guy jumps in and makes a Heroic Sacrifice for her, it's so sad, especially as Sheena begs him not to die and then promptly beats the absolute CRAP out of Volt. The crack in her voice is amazing. And then there's the way Kuchinawa treats her afterwards...
When Martel is revived and rejects what Mithos has done in her name. He may look like a kid, but he's got 4000 years of working towards his goal... only to have it fall apart around him.
Not to mention the times his apparition appeared after each rescue of your party in Welgaia, and how twisted his views had become after thousands of years without his sister, being discriminated against, being betrayed by the only people he trusted, and how young he might have been at the start of his madness.
Mithos:(at weakness of the heart scene) Is it a sin to be weak-hearted? Not everyone's strong. Not everyone can stand being despised.
Mithos:(at the past scene) That is merely logic. People are not moved by logic. If the one you love is killed, you hate the murderer...
The whole story of Mithos and Genis. Not only do both share a striking number of similarities and experiences, their friendship often blurs the line between villainous manipulation and Ho Yay best friendship, with Mithos' actual feelings for Genis never really being clarified. It gets worse with an obscure hidden scene where Lloyd gets to see Mithos and Genis' friendship for himself and just how close they are, including a promise Genis makes to stick by Mithos, which just makes The Reveal even more painful. A skit after, where Genis breaks down in tears from it, can become a real tearjerker as a result. And should you have taken Genis as partner for the endgame, You get to see just how much the betrayal has hurt him.
It affects his so much that in Dawn of the New World, unlike other Lloyd/character scenes, instead of pointing out the strong bond that has formed... Genis is still feeling the pain from it
A tear was shed for Genis in the sequel when he reminds us that, because of his elven blood, he and his sister will greatly out live the rest of their True Companions. Lloyd also knows of this in the first game, as he tells his beloved pet Noishe to stay with Genis and Raine when he dies. Noishe will actually outlive them even, but it's rather tear-jerking how Lloyd says it, thinking of their longevity as a good thing, compared to other humans who are terrified of it * coughPOPEcough* .
If you've realized this, and have chosen Genis for the late-game talks, a seemingly innocent talk about how Genis intends to stay with Lloyd "As long as you're alive" becomes startlingly tragic.
The Bad End of Dawn of the New World is strikingly horrifying. Interestingly enough, it's more difficult to get this ending than the good ending, as you have to defeat Lloyd and Marta alone, as opposed to lose to them in order to reach Emil's Battle in the Center of the Mind that serves as the final battle. Anyway, if Emil defeats Lloyd and Marta, he suddenly realizes that he's injured Marta...and in a state of grief, commits suicide in order to seal the door to the demon realm, instead of carrying out the party's original plan.
Even the Good ending is a Tear Jerker if you think about it. Richter and Aster, two of the most brilliant minds of their generation, who could have been a shining example of half-elf/human friendship in the struggling new world are locked underground burning and dead respectively ultimately because of a hate that was born millenia before, and about which they knew nothing. Richter may deserve his punishment, but damn, what a waste. Even Emil doesn't get off easy since eventually he will die and return to the Ginnungagap, where he'll live forever without Marta. And while he is alive he'll have the burden of being reminded of his crime every time he looks in a mirror. Also good luck living figuring out how to relate to the relatives and neighbors of the ''other'' kid who's identity you stole Emil...
On the bright side, it could have been worse. In a mistranslation of the Japanese version of the game, it says that Marta killed herself as well, not wanting to live in a world without Emil.
Alice and Decus' death scene in this game was heartwrenching. After fighting the two of them, Emil attacks Alice but Decus protects Alice from the fatal blow, using his last words to say he loves her, even though she said he disgusts her. Alice then admits she loves him too, picks up Decus' sword, and tries to attack Emil, but is knocked down by Tenebrae. She then gets up and is about to try again but is killed by Marta. She uses HER last words to say that her and Decus will be together again soon.
The part of that scene that makes it worse is when Alice dies she's holding Decus hand.
Botta's sacrifice at the end of the Remote Island Human Ranch. He's a Mauve Shirt who has every reason to dislike the heroes' party, since they've been working at cross purposes for most of the game and are now more or less stuck in an Enemy Mine situation, but his devotion to his duty (and possibly his leader) supersedes anything else he might feel, even to the point of giving his life so that they can escape and carry the message of what happened.
Regal killed the woman he loved on HER request, closed himself in a life of prison, and then had to travel with the sister of the same woman he killed. Not to mention this same sister is being used in the same experiment that caused him to kill her. Not to mention a 33 year old, not to mention the most mature character in the game, cry.
Regal: I... I can't! I could never kill you with my own hands...
Kratos has one of the saddest stories out of all the characters.
After a brief happy life together, Kratos killed his wife in an attempt to protect their infant son when she transformed into a monster. The attempt fails however, and his son falls off a cliff to his death, or so Kratos thought, until he happened upon said son years later. Not only is he burdened with the knowledge that the only woman he's ever loved died by his hands, he finds out that had he simply looked hard enough he would not have lost his only child. It's no wonder he's a Death Seeker.
He keeps their relation to himself for his own reasons, but Yuan spills his secret, and Lloyd goes into denial and rejects him. This doesn't stop Kratos from heroically protecting him.
Kratos needs to die to release Origin's seal, and he's picked Lloyd out for this task. Lloyd spares him, so Kratos suicidally releases Origin's seal, but Kratos doesn't get his wish to die granted. Yuan saves him.
Now at this point it sounds like it's going to end happily, but instead it actually gets worse for Kratos: Kratos leaves for derris-kharlan, and we find out in the sequel that he is never coming back, ever. The comet drifted so far all contact between it and the world of TOS was severed, ending Kratos only connection to his son and his last living friend from over 4000 years ago. Lloyd doesn't even get one last goodbye. He doesn't know he will never see his father again.]]
Zelos's introduction after Colette becomes a doll. It was bad enough that she actually kicked a DOG (those animals she would ALWAYS name when she came across one), but then here comes Casanova and his fangirls. The girls insult this poor girl who just had her heart taken away, can't talk, can't sleep, can't feel. She doesn't even remember the three people she's known for like, EVER. Scratch that, the entire time Colette is in vessel mode is just heartbreaking.
"Farewell my shadow...you who stand at the end of the path I chose not to follow."
In Hilda Rhambling's story arc, she finally met her blood mother, but got blatantly refused and thrown away like a thing many times. When Tohma appears trying to kill her, her mother took the hit and died. After she's dead, Hilda found a letter written by her mother that sums up that her mother really loves her, and found out that her mother refused her to prevent a prophecy that could bring about her death. All that, and Hilda has yet to even call her 'mother', which caused her to break down and cry.
Stella's death, especially, hits particularly hard. After making every possible effort to save her life, it doesn't work, and Stella ends up dying in the arms of her little sister and the man who loved her.
Senel and Shirley have a particularly powerful scene afterward, too. Shirley finally works up the courage to tell Senel that she loves him, only to end up getting her heart kicked to the curb by Senel because Senel "has to stay with Stella," who was dead by this point in the game. It's enough to make you want to jump through your TV and strangle Senel.
The ending scene of Will Raynard's character quest.
Moses's character quest, Manly Tears were shed in the ending when Moses and Giet parted ways in the Quiet Lands.
Grune's character quest, from the Wings of Light to the end. Everything about it. Especially the huge difference in Grune's personality before and after her awakening.
The ending of Norma's character quest, especially the realization that she had completed her search for the Everlight not only to cure Zamaran's sight, but also in a sort of tribute to Sven itself was really touching. Sven's own sacrifice and the resolve that Norma showed in order to reach this point, since she's usually the one slacking off or joking around.
The end of Chloe's character arc. Moses' was also surprisingly touching, especially Giet's final howl.
The part in the quiet lands where everybody is given a powerful blessing by The quiet Nerifes... except for Senel, who gets a temporary case of divine rejection, causing a bit of a breakdown. sure, he gets it later, but the brief period of time where he is being written out of the groups plans, and is quickly being rejected by them.
The events BEFORE going to Zaphias to save Estelle, when you end up fighting Raven/Schwann in Baction. And after the fact, when he risks his life to save everyone from the cascading ceiling, blood pouring from his head and his blastia heart giving him the strength to carry the rubble as everyone runs to safety. Then there's the fact that Rita and Karol were always so close to crying. But then when you fight Alexei in Zaude and he cries.
While Raven in actuality being Schwann wasn't a big surprise, the way Schwann deflects their questions in such a flat and stolid tone really made the twist convincing, let alone dispelling the possibility that he'd switch sides again.
Karol: Raven, why? WHY?
Schwann: I will tell you again, I am NOT Raven.
Rita: I...I hate you!
Schwann: Heh, many people hate me.
Karol: Damn it, I really liked you Raven. I couldn't tell you before, but if my dad were...
Schwann: How unfortunate, "Raven" isn't here.
Judith: You, do you intend to die here?
Schwann: I am ALWAYS ready to die in battle, so I fight with everything I have.
In the PS3 version, there's Patty getting her memory back and having to Mercy Kill her friend Seifer, who was turned into a monster (the Wandering Skeleton you fought a few times). After the deed, she keeps telling herself not to cry, but ends up doing so.
Tales of Hearts
After becoming very likeable characters, Peridot and Byrocks were wounded by Incarose. Chalcedny owns Incarose, but he can't save Peridot and Byrocks. To add to the sadness, Peridot then began talking about her dead little brother in order to persuade Chalcedny to go. Byrocks added to the persuasion, as Chalcedny's big brother.
Richea:Please... forgive me... I'll make up for this sin with my life... So... somehow... forgive me...
Tales of Graces
The first few hours makes such a drastic Mood Whiplash with Absel witnessing Sophie dying and living with the guilt, later discovering that his father is dead, and of course the rain scene where there was even an in-game Tear Jerker.
In the Future arc, where Sophie realizes that all her friends will grow old and die off without her, since she doesn't age like the rest of them, being non-human of course.
The ending for the main game when Asbel sacrifices himself in Sophie's place. Everyone helplessly screams out for him, especially Cheria. The quiet, sad remix of "Mamoritai ~white wishes~" that plays during this scene doesn't help...
Lambda's flashback scenes. Every single one of them. Makes you almost completely forget that he's a Eldritch Abomination.
Narm or not, you have to admit that the infamous "TOMADATCHIIIII" scene is also saddening when (at least in the Wii version), Richard sounds like he's crying, and he honestly feels betrayed.
Watching Richard struggle against Lambda and turn into the exact opposite of himself. Especially when you consider he was aware of what Lambda was forcing him to do but wasn't strong enough to stop it. Then you realise he's being forced to fight against the only people who ever really made him happy.
Learning that Lord Aston's actions were done entirely out of love and a desire to not make the same mistakes his own father had made. Lady Kerri giving you his diary so you could hear his concerns first-hand didn't help.
Tales of Xillia and its sequel
The entire sequence in the laboratory near Xian Du Teepo is reset and reveals to Elize that he is just a machine and whenever he talks he's just voicing her thoughts. Elize does not take that well. But then to make matters worse, Jiao shows up and reveals that Elize's parents are dead and she was sold to the laboratory when she was four years old and experimented on.
Alvin's scenes with his ill mother are absolutely heartbreaking as well. Every time he visits, she talks to him as if he were a stranger about her son (whom she believes is still a child at boarding school) and Alvin just goes along with it..
After defeating Gilland, who had been an unrepentant Jerkass and had practically danced over the Moral Event Horizon, he finally reveals his motives: to save his home world of Elympios, which is dying because of the lack of mana. Milla shows little sympathy for the Elympions, who chose to use spyrix after being warned by Maxwell of the technology's deadly price. Even after all he had done, Gilland manages to bring on the tears during this exchange.
Gilland: But if spyrites become commonplace, the people of Elympios will have all the mana they need. Milla: Isn't it a bit late for that? You were the ones who chose to rely on spyrix 2000 years ago. Gilland: That wasn't me!
The character episodes can also be pretty depressing.
Alvin's are pretty much designed to make him suffer until the end, but what really takes the cake is when the party is transported to an alternate universe where he proposed to Presa and she ends up dying in his arms after he had to kill his alternate self.
Muzet's character episodes are among the funniest in the game, but her reaction when her attempts to befriend the party backfire can be pretty sad.
Elize unknowingly befriended the chancellor of Elympios, but was shocked when said chancellor sent a group of Exodus members to be executed. Her final character episode sends her to an alternate universe where she is Happily Adopted by Jiao, only to get a vicious wakeup call about what position leaders are in.
Gaius found himself in an Odd Friendship with a group of young Elympion men, only to have to hand one of them over to Elympion law enforcement for the death of a Rieze Maxian soldier in order to get a vital trade concession.
The death of Alternate Milla. She gradually realizes that she has no place in the prime dimension, especially when she realizes that she killed her world's Jude when he was an infant. If the player doesn't just let her die, she sacrifices herself so Elle can be saved and Prime Milla can be freed from the dimensional void. Afterwards, Elle lashes out at Prime Milla, believing her to be the cheap replacement.
As if having kill Prime Julius wasn't enough of a soul shattering experience for Ludger, he then is swept away in another fractured dimension caused by Julius becoming a divergence catalyst. It's a perfect world where he and his brother lived happily. When Julius realizes that Ludger is here to kill him as the catalyst, he accepts his fate with a smile, even humming the Hymn of Proof to him like nothing's wrong. Ludger looks nothing short of broken in response.
The website announcing the next Tales game has been launched, but so far it has revealed nothing about the game. What it is showing is a single clip from every other mothership Tales title, and every single clip as of this writing (which includes all the games from Phantasia to Rebirth) is a death scene. Meaning we go there expecting to learn about the newest game, and instead we relive the deaths of some of our old favourite characters. Damnit, Namco, why?
There's an old saying: If you're playing a Tales game, expect lots of tearjerkers.