Tear Jerker / The Lord of the Rings

"I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened."note 
I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.
Gandalf, summing everything about this page.

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    Tearjerker in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings 
  • From the book, when the Hobbits return to the Shire to find Saruman and his goons have trashed the place.
  • The slow glimpses we get of Bilbo's age catching up with him, starting when we see him in Rivendell after almost 2 decades without the Ring, and much more apparent at the end. In the end he has to be bundled up like a child and he's very forgetful, recalling he gave Frodo the Ring but not why he did so.
    • Bilbo and Frodo reuniting is very heartwarming. A while later, however, when the Fellowship is planning to leave, Bilbo starts reciting "I sit beside the fire and think", which is about how though he loved adventures and still yearns to go on them he is too old (expressly saying he knows he will die soon, no less!) and all he can do now is wait for those still young to return from them.
  • The entire scene at the Grey Havens.
    • Ditto. Especially the paragraph involving the "white shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise."
    • And straight after the scene changes to the friends of Frodo staying alone on the shore under a darkening sky. The strong contrast makes the scene so poignant that it is nearly impossible not to feel sorry for them.
  • The end of The Two Towers. Sam weeping over Frodo's (unconscious) body, begging "Don't go where I can't follow," and resolving to carry on the quest by himself, even though he's in complete despair and expects the Orcs to come kill him at any minute...oh, Sam.
  • When Sméagol comes back to the Hobbits sleeping from betraying them at Shelob's cave. He sees them sleeping peacefully, and just for a moment he repents.
    For a fleeting moment, could one of the sleepers have seen him, they would have thought that they beheld an old weary hobbit, shrunken by the years that had carried him far beyond his time, beyond friends and kin, and the fields and streams of youth, an old starved pitiable thing.
  • The ultimate fate of Arwen, after Aragorn's death. Aragorn knows it even as he is dying; he says to her, "I speak no comfort to you, for there is no comfort to such pain within the circles of the world."
    But Arwen went forth from the House, and the light of her eyes was quenched, and it seemed to her people that she had become cold and grey as nightfall in winter that comes without a star. Then she said farewell to Eldarion, and to her daughters, and to all whom she had loved; and she went out from the city of Minas Tirith and passed away to the land of Lórien, and dwelt there alone under the fading trees until winter came. Galadriel had passed away and Celeborn had also gone, and the land was silent.
    There at last when the mallorn-leaves were falling, but spring had not yet come, she laid herself to rest upon Cerin Amroth; and there is her green grave, until the world is changed, and all the days of her life are utterly forgotten by the men that come after, and elanor and niphredil bloom no more east of the sea.
    And so passed Arwen Undómiel, Evenstar of her people and the likeness of Lúthien the beloved, whom they have lost. An an end was come to the Eldar, of story and of song.
  • How Orcs are made.
  • The diminishing of Lórien. Seriously. The heart of Elvendom on Middle-Earth, the last place on the Bent World where some memory of Aman was preserved, left empty and silent. There's a reason why that chapter is called "Farewell to Lórien" and why this quote adorns the End of an Age page:
    On the green bank near to the very point of the Tongue the Lady Galadriel stood alone and silent. As they passed her they turned and their eyes watched her slowly floating away from them. For so it seemed to them: Lórien was slipping backward, like a bright ship masted with enchanted trees, sailing on to forgotten shores, while they sat helpless upon the margin of the grey and leafless world.
  • Gandalf. Bridge of Moria.
  • Sam thinking Frodo is dead after being stung by Shelob in the third book.
    • Ugh, yes. One line in particular sticks out. Sam is saying farewell to his master after deciding to complete the quest alone:
      "Forgive your Sam. He'll come back to this spot when the job's done, if he manages it. Then I'll not leave you again."
    • The realization of what that last sentence really means, that Sam is willing to keep vigil over Frodo in death and never see his home again, is heartbreaking.
  • And then the Appendices, where we learned what became of Sam after LOTR... *whimper*
  • The Appendices' account of the "Tale of Aragorn and Arwen" is heartrending. Aragorn's mother's last words to her son, who grew up under the name of Estel, which means Hope...
    I gave Hope to the Dúnedain, I have kept none for myself.
  • The end of Return Of The King. When Frodo realises that he can never be happy in Middle-Earth, goes across the sea and *sob* leaves Sam, Merry and Pippin behind.
  • When Pippin went to Minas Tirith. His little tour of the city with that kid, playing games and having fun.
  • In-universe example: after the Rohirrim arrive to lift the siege of Minas Tirith, Pippin can never hear the sound of a horn again without tearing up. Manly Tears, of course.
    • The film certainly captures the sentiment as well.
  • In Ithilien Samwise sees his first dead (human) enemy, giving us one of the few moments where Tolkien is speaking obviously and heart-rendingly from his own experience.
    He was glad that he could not see the dead face. He wondered what the man's name was and where he came from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from his home; and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace - all in a flash of thought...
  • If you read beyond the end of the Return of the King, you get to the appendices. And if you read to the end of appendix B, you finally come to the end of the Fellowship.
    In this year on March 1st came at last the passing of King Elessar. It is said that the beds of Meriadoc and Peregrin were set out beside the bed of the great king. Then Legolas built a grey ship in Ithilien, and sailed down Anduin and so over the sea; and with him, it is said, went Gimli the Dwarf. And when that ship passed an end was come in Middle-Earth of the Fellowship of the Ring.
    • Even worse, Legolas was the last Elf in Middle-Earth by that time.
  • Treebeard's nostalgic and afflicted account about the loss of the Entwives makes you feel very sorry for him. More so, even after Sauron is gone, Treebeard predicts they won't be found in the new lands and his race will slowly die. There isn't a hint of the opposite in other Tolkien works.
  • Poor Merry in Return of the King. First, all of his fellowship friends take off and leave him, then his new friends in Rohan do the same, then he's in a huge battle with only Dernhelm to rely on. After Dernhelm reveals himself to be Éowyn in disguise, Merry comes to her aid but because he's so small he ends up ignored or overlooked by everyone around him (save for Théoden, his surrogate father, who is dying) and has to make his own way into Minas Tirith (half dead from Witch-King poisoning by this point). When Pippin finally finds him he wasn't the only one saying "Thank goodness". Then all his fellowship friends go and leave him behind again.
  • "BALIN FUNDINUL, UZBAD KHAZAD-DÛMU"khu . If you've read The Hobbit, you know Balin, Ori, and Óin. You also know what Fire-Forged Friends they were with Bilbo.
  • Théoden's last words to Merry: "Farewell, Master Holbytla! My body is broken, I go to my fathers. And even in their mighty company I shall not now be ashamed. I felled the black serpent. A grim morn, and a glad day, and a golden sunset! To him, at least, this death is an Esoteric Happy Ending.
  • The redemptive death of Boromir. 'But Boromir did not speak again.'
  • No mention of the beautiful elegy Aragorn & Legolas sang for Boromir?
    Oh Boromir the Tower of Guard will ever Northward gaze/ To Rauros, golden Rauros falls until the end of days!

  • The last line of the book: "Well, I'm back." The reader who is new to the story is not sure until the very end if Sam will survive his separation from Frodo, but when he returns he is recommitting himself to life in a changed world and the beginning of the Fourth Age - and with it, the loss of Lothlórien and diminishing of Elven magic. It is impossible not to relate their story to the universal story of soldiers returning from war, some irrevocably changed (Frodo) and some able to move forward (Sam).

    Tearjerker in adaptations 
  • In 1981, the BBC adapted the trilogy for radio broadcast, complete with a gorgeous soundtrack, showcasing Tolkein's own poetry. Perhaps Bilbo's last song can be seen as a crowner, as it has never been set at such a scale (Jackson didn't have the rights to that poem, leading to the writing of Into The West, which is heartwrenching in its own right).
  • Bill Nighy's performance as Samwise Gamgee in the BBC Radio Adaptation is nothing short of marvelous; one such example is his relationship with Bill the Pony... which is all the more heartbreaking when he grieves upon thinking the Watcher outside Moria killed him.

    Tearjerker in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings films 

Fellowship of the Ring

  • Gandalf's self-sacrifice and the survivors' reactions afterwards. Probably the only Big "NO!" that really works.
    • It was that look on Frodo's face like that of a lost little child that's the worst.
      • Keep in mind that Gandalf was basically Frodo's surrogate father or surrogate uncle. Frodo is an orphan and Bilbo and Pippin were the only biological family he had. When Gandalf fell, Frodo was basically a young child who was crying for his lost father.
    • The music that plays just after Gandalf falls is one of the most beautifully sad themes ever heard.
    • And Pippin is curled up on the ground, clearly bawling his eyes out despite the fact that there's no sound.
    • The need to abridge the story to make it film-length cut out most of Boromir's likable moments from the book, but here you get a powerful one - Aragorn's right about the urgent need to keep moving, but Boromir's anguished "give them a moment, for pity's sake!" speaks for the audience.
    • Gimli's reaction is also one. Boromir is physically holding him back as he shouts and tries to run back towards the cave and in some futile attempt at rescuing Gandalf or to avenge him on the Orcs.
      • What makes it even worse is that Gimli was adamant about going to Moria in the first place over the objections of Gandalf. The look on his face is anger, disbelief and maybe even guilt that his insistence lead to Gandalf's Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Also Legolas' reaction. While the Hobbits are sobbing in grief, he just stands there, utterly confused. Being immortal, Elves don't fully understand what death is. And now Legolas has witnessed the death of someone close to him. He clearly has no idea what just happened, or how he should feel.
      • This is repeated when Boromir dies, as is pointed out in the cast commentary. Legolas looks grief-stricken but confused, as if he still doesn't understand it. Gimli however, merely sighs as if to say "That's another friend/soldier we've lost to the enemy."
  • Boromir's Last Stand is one of the most poignant and tear jerking scenes in the entire trilogy. Made all the better by the fact that as you watch it, it becomes very clear that he knows he won't survive...and in the face of seemingly endless orcs, still refuses to stay down. And who can forget the looks on Merry and Pippin's faces when Boromir is shot. It gets worse when you realize that as far as Boromir knew his Heroic Sacrifice was in vain! one of the last things he saw was the very ones he gave his life to protect get captured, and (as far as he knew) carried off to their deaths, that is, if they're lucky.
    • The only scene that surpassed it is when Pippin tells Denethor the story and Denethor's reactions to his words.
    • And his ultimate acceptance of Aragorn's role in the whole business. "I would have followed you. My brother...my captain...my king."
    • And of course... "They took the little ones!" It says something here about Boromir's development that when Aragorn reaches him, the only thing on his mind is not that he's riddled with arrows and about to die, but that the hobbits are in danger and he can't save them.
      • And his phrasing: "The little ones." He doesn't think of them as children, per se, but they're still the little guys that Boromir failed to protect.
    • Anyone whose read the books will know what's coming, but to actually see it in action is just heartwrenching. You see Lurtz walk down the slope, and raise his bow while Boromir is fighting, and then he jerks, an arrow protruding from his chest. He staggers, but he keeps on fighting. Despite this horrible injury, he raises his weapon against the enemy again. Lurtz raises his bow and fires again, and the mighty warrior falls to his knees. He looks up at the horrified hobbits, panting in pain and exhaustion, and the realization that he's not going to survive hits him...and he stands up and keeps fighting. Then the third, inevitable arrow hits, and we know it's coming so much that the movie doesn't even need to show it being fired. And Boromir falls.
    • There's at least one other Boromir scene to mention: when he's sitting in Lothlórien, talking to Aragorn about Minas Tirith, and the love he feels for his city is both astoundingly clear and strong and heartbreaking, because if you've read the books, or seen the movie already, you know he's never going to see his beloved home again.
      Boromir: Have you ever seen it, Aragorn? The white tower of Ecthelion... glimmering like a spike of pearl and silver, its banners caught high in the morning breeze? Have you ever been called home... by the clear ringing of silver trumpets?
      • Funny how so many of the Tear Jerker moments in the films coincide with speeches taken straight from the books. Sean Bean's delivery was spot-on here.
      • "They will look for his coming from the White Tower. But he will not return."
    • Just before his Last Stand we have Boromir's My God, What Have I Done? moment when he tries to take the Ring from Frodo and causes him to flee. It's a running thread through the story that everyone, but especially the Men of Gondor, underestimates the power of the Ring. Like his father, Boromir just thinks of the Ring as this powerful magical weapon that can - and should - be used against Sauron, and he's immensely frustrated with Aragorn for not understanding that. Then Boromir finds Frodo alone, tries to convince him of his point, and then snaps when Frodo refuses. It's only after Frodo runs away that Boromir finally understands, and he realizes that in driving the Ringbearer away from him, he's just snuffed out Gondor's only hope. No wonder he throws himself into suicidal redemption.
    • Not to mention the fact that that was the last time Frodo saw him alive. He didn't see Boromir's Heroic Sacrifice on behalf of his cousins. It's doubtful whether he even heard the warrior's shouted apology.
      • Which leads to another tearjerking moment in The Two Towers: Frodo says "Yes, for my part," when Faramir asks him if Boromir was his friend, and looks genuinely shocked and saddened when he learns of Boromir's death. Boromir will never know that Frodo had forgiven him.
  • An example of Howard Shore's music pulling at them heart strings, just the scene when the fellowship enter the halls of Moria and Shore's music swells. You'll tear up at the beauty of an ancient land lost.
  • The minute they got into Moria, knowing what was about to happen, again when Gandalf read the Book of Mazarbul, and more than one fan turned into a complete soggy mess when the Balrog appeared.
  • The first Tear Jerker of the trilogy is actually when Frodo is attacked by the cave troll in Moria. The looks on the faces of his friends afterward, and then how they all keep fighting harder just because of what happened, are bad enough, but the way that Aragorn (who was wounded) crawls to Frodo and then whispers "Oh, no..."
  • Bilbo's tearful apology to Frodo for having given him the ring, just before the fellowship set off from Rivendell.
    "I'm sorry I brought this upon you my boy... I'm sorry that you must carry this burden... (he breaks down weeping) I'm sorry for everything!"
    • Bilbo's line about there always being a Baggins in Bag End, "and there always will be." while writing his book is saddening when you consider the end of the quest and what it does to Frodo.
  • One scene, or at least an interpretation of it. It's Rivendell, circa Fellowship of the Ring. Sam talks about wanting to go home, and Frodo realizes: sure, why not? After all, he got the Ring to Rivendell like he was supposed to. His job is done, so what's to stop him from leaving? (...Meanwhile, Gandalf pleads with Elrond to not burden Frodo with the Ring, knowing what it would most likely do to his young friend.) Then cue the Council meeting. It's a complete disaster. Nobody can agree on anything, Boromir wants the Ring for himself, Gimli won't work with elves, and everyone is arguing... hell, even Gandalf is yelling. The Ring is spreading chaos and malcontent. Then Frodo, visibly overwhelmed, stands up and says, "I will take it!"... and at first nobody hears him, but then Gandalf does and just closes his eyes...
    • ... like all the fathers at WWI hearing their sons say "I signed up today!"
      • Which is now a Fridge Tearjerker because Gandalf knows what the relatively lesser quest to reclaim Erebor did to Bilbo.
    • Followed of course by the Fellowships' pledges, with one brave Hobbit uniting all these disagreeing minds. As if the only thing that all of these seasoned warriors can agree on is that this innocent soul must be protected.
  • Once Boromir gets knocked out of his craziness and comes back to himself on Amon Hen, it is heart wrenching to see his horrified realization at what he nearly did. As Frodo runs away we can hear his anguished screams and pleading for him to come back: "Frodo, I'm sorry!"
  • The moment when Frodo is leaving for the opposite shore, but Sam refuses to let him go to face the mortal peril of Mordor on his own. It's Awesome, Heartwarming and a Tearjerker all rolled into one:
    Frodo: Go back, Sam! I'm going to Mordor alone.
    Sam: Of course you are, and I'm coming with you!
    • This scene is even more of a tear-jerker when you realise Frodo just witnessed his best friend near drowning. He pulls him out of the water and hugs him tearfully, relieved because he thought he had lost him...like he had lost his parents. Both Frodo's parents drowned when he was a child, leaving him alone and unwanted. Add almost losing your best friend to the same fate.
    • "I made a promise Mr Frodo, a promise! Don't you leave him, Samwise Gamgee... and I don't mean to." To Howard Shore's heartwarmingly pure "Concerning Hobbits" musical theme.
  • Just before that, Frodo is making his escape as the battle starts up, Merry and Pippin have found a hiding spot and are beckoning their friend to hide with them. Frodo simply stares for a moment as Merry realizes what he's up to.
    Pippin: What's he doing?
    Merry: He's leaving.
    • This, of course, followed by Merry and Pippin drawing the orcs's attention and running the opposite way to cover Frodo's escape, which is what leads to all of their troubles in the following film.
  • Same scene, just before all of that; Aragorn realizing that events have gotten to the point where Frodo must go on his own, and that he must let Frodo go, but it visibly pains him to do it; "I would have gone with you to the end..."

Two Towers

Here you will dwell, bound to your grief under the fading trees, until all the world is changed, and the long years of your life are utterly spent.
  • Watching the shock and horror creep on Frodo's face when he and Sam learn from Faramir that Boromir's dead. Sam looks to Frodo flabbergasted, and all Frodo can think to say:
    Frodo: Dead? How? When?
    • It's not spoken of directly after that, but you can tell it has affected both Frodo and Faramir greatly.
  • When Sam says "...there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for."
    • The look on Gollum's face when Sam says that. After the Ithilien Rangers tortured him for information, he is all the more committed to getting the Ring back again, but he looks sad that he just can't be good at all anymore.
  • The moment when Frodo and Sam are talking about the tales people will tell of them in the future. Frodo's line - "What about Sam? I want to hear about Sam. Frodo wouldn't have got far without Sam."
    Sam: Now Mr. Frodo, you shouldn't make fun. I was being serious.
    Frodo: So was I.
  • The Extended Edition has a scene which sets up the relationship between Boromir, Faramir and Denethor. Ow.
  • The Last March of the Ents, when the Ents march to avenge their fallen tree-friends. Also, by this point everyone had joined the fight. It wasn't just about Rohan anymore — it was for the whole world. The somber music also adds to the mood. It sounds ridiculous when you type it, but when you see it...
    • There's also Treebeard's line just before they march, which reminds us that the Ents are as much of a dying race as the elves (except they don't have the option of leaving Middle-Earth), and they march to war well aware that should they fail, their species will be wiped out...and they go anyway.
      Treebeard: It is likely that we go to our doom... the last march of the Ents...
  • The two personalities of Gollum/Smeagol talking to each other is creepy itself, but the things Gollum says to Smeagol are downright cruel and very familiar to those who have had emotionally abusive people in their lives.
    Smeagol: "But Master's my friend."
    Gollum: "You don't have any friends. Nobody likes you."
    • "I hate you...I hate you..."
  • When Aragorn falls from the cliff and everyone assumes he's dead Legolas looks actually grief stricken without the confusion he had with Gandalf or Boromir. If it's him finally understanding what death actually means or if it's because it's his Aragorn specifically is up for debate but it still tugs at heartstrings.
  • Not to mention "Where Is [sic] The Horse And The Rider?"
    • Particularly the shot of the little boy being handed an axe and having a far too large helmet placed on his head...it both made quite clear the true horror of war, and wrenched at the heart as you realized his likely fate well in advance, even if they never did show it. And the mother sobbing in protest while they pull her early-teenage-looking son away from her to be kitted out.
      • It's also a depressing reflection of the last years of WW1-by 1918, Britain, France and most of the other Allied countries, as well as the Central Powers, had lost so much young men that they started conscripting teenagers alongside the elderly.
      • Just at the end of that shot: although the soldiers pull the teenager away to arm him, you can see one of the soldiers lay a hand on the boy's shoulder, as if to say: "It'll be all right, son. Be brave."
      • Later on, when the battle's nearly lost and the Uruk-Hai are breaking in, we cut to the terrified women and children under the fortress, breaking into despairing tears or clinging to each other in fear and dread.
      • "Who am I, Gamling?"
  • Théoden and Gandalf standing outside Théodred's grave.
    Théoden: "Simbelmyne. Ever has it grown on the tombs of my forebears. Now it shall cover the grave of my son. Alas, that these evil days should be mine. The young perish and the old linger. That I should live to see that last days of my house."
    • The horrible, horrible moment where the recently healed Théoden looks up, and clearly having no idea of what's transpired, asks "Where is my son?"
    • The next line, when he looks straight at Gandalf and says, very quietly, "No parent should have to bury their child," and then the King just breaks down, not just from the loss, but because he wasn't really there for the last years of his son's life.
      • That line was added by Bernard Hill. He heard it from a woman who had lost a child, and felt that he had to add it. Damn good actors.
    • At the time Tolkien composed his first draft, his three sons served in England's fight against the Nazis. Given his own experience in the First World War, Tolkien knew the odds.
      "O my dear John Ronald what ever are we going to do?"note 
    • The reference to Simbelmyne serves as a bit of Reality Subtext to further underscore the sadness of the scene, if ones takes it to be a reference to the poppies that bloomed on the battlefields of World War I and which served as a symbol of fallen soldiers throughout Europe and the Commonwealth nations.
    • As further sign of the depths of Théoden's pain: when Aragorn is trying to convince him of the futility of simply hunkering in Helm's Deep, that instead they should appeal to their allies. After Théoden enumerates how the Dwarves and Elves will be useless, Aragorn claims Gondor will answer if they ask for help. Théoden's response? "Where was Gondor when the Westfold fell? Where was Gondor when our enemies closed in around us? Where was Gon—?" It is extremely likely he was going to end with "Where was Gondor when I lost my son?"
      • Becomes even sadder when one knows Théoden's background: His mother was Morwen Steelsheen, who was from Belfalas and was kin to the Prince of Dol Amroth. She met and fell in love with Thengel, who at the time was living with his mother's family in Gondor. They married and had five children, including Théoden and his sister Théodwyn (Éomer and Éowyn's mother). Because of this, Théoden spent his youth growing up in Gondor, his mother's homeland, and spoke Sindarin and Westron more often than Rohirric. Théoden was intimately familiar with Gondor and it was his mother's beloved homeland. To Théoden, Gondor's inaction and inability to come to Rohan's aid was not just a case of an ally failing to meet their obligations. He very likely also took it as a personal betrayal.
  • There's also Theodred's funeral, set to Eowyn singing a Rohirric funeral dirge. She's visibly crying as she sings.
    • On top of having to bury her cousin, Eowyn has endured her brother's exile, her uncle's slowly being corrupted by Saruman...after having lost her parents to orcs and heartbreak.
  • The Tear Jerker moment comes during the sacking of Rohan, when Eothain and Freyda are hoisted onto the horse by their mother, and sent to Edoras to raise the alarm. Tears flow freely again when the three are reunited at Helm's Deep.
    • The worst part of it is that Freyda doesn't understand what's going on, and can only protest that "Papa said Eothain is not to ride Garulf! He is too big for him!" And then you remember that Papa is probably lying face-down in a ditch somewhere with half a dozen arrows sticking out of him... Or that Eothain does understand what is happening and is near tears. Hell, everything that happens to Rohan in TTT.
    • Also, a Fridge Horror moment. Yes, all three of them reached Edoras to be reunited. But that only means that Eothain was most likely drafted during the Battle of Helm's Deep, and who knows whether he survived to be reunited with his mother and sister again?
  • The beautiful speech that Elrond gives to his daughter. The soundtrack and Hugo Weaving's perfect delivery combine together so well:
    "He will come to death an image of the splendor of the kings of Men in glory undimmed before the breaking of the world. But you, my daughter, you will linger on in darkness and in doubt, as nightfall in winter that comes without a star. Here you will dwell, bound to your grief under the fading trees, until all the world is changed, and the long years of your life are utterly spent."
    • It's even worse if you've read the books. Then you'd know that every word Elrond says is true, that she will spend her time with Aragorn, bear a son and at least two daughters, and then her husband will voluntarily lay down his life. Arwen returns to Lothlórien, where she used to live with her mother and grandmother, and finds it completely empty, abandoned and silent, all her people having returned to Valinor, lies down on the grass of Cerin Amroth and effectively dies of a broken heart. Her true tragedy is that she knew this would happen when she gave up immortality for her husband, and for love, she chose a path that guaranteed widowhood and isolation from her people, culture and family forever until the end of the world.
  • The (thankfully brief) period where Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli thought that Merry and Pippin were dead, either at the hands of the Uruk-hai or the Rohirrim in the confusion of the battle. Gimli is practically in tears as he finds a chunk of one of their belts on the remnants of the pyre. Legolas still seems confused by the concept of death, but Aragorn practically falls into a Heroic B.S.O.D.. You can tell that it's hitting them twice - first, they couldn't keep Frodo safe from themselves because of the corrupting influence of the Ring, and then they arrived too late to save the other two halflings.
    Gimli: [whispering] We failed them.
  • "Your fingers might remember their former strength better, if they grasped your sword." The moment when Théoden takes his sword brings tears to one's eyes, much thanks to Éowyn's tears and the amazing Rohan theme rising to its climax.
  • The death of Haldir and the Lothlórien Guard. Though he was only a minor character, seeing his last moments alive, looking in half shock at the dead bodies of his men gave some real insight into his thoughts. He knew he had led these men directly to their deaths, with their race fading and dying out he had taken a considerable number of them directly into a meat grinder to help their allies. And as none were seen hiding in Helm's Deep at the end, the film suggests they were all butchered.
    • "Tonight we remember those who gave their blood to defend this country. Hail the victorious dead!"
    • The death of Haldir was a tear-jerking moment, but seeing the anguished expression on Aragorn, who then rushed over and cradled Haldir... !
  • When the Men force Frodo to lure Sméagol to him so they can capture him in The Two Towers. It's terrible luck, because it invokes Gollum to come back and gleefully give Sméagol an "I told you so" regarding the lies he had told Sméagol about Frodo being corrupt. Gollum/Sméagol is so tormented, and Frodo's friendship was his one last hope.
    • Gollum's lack of hope will give you another shot to the heart during Sam's "World of Cardboard" Speech. Sam mentions that the people in all the dark stories were holding on to something that kept them going when they could have turned back, and Frodo asks what they're holding on to now. Gollum looks up, the look on his face practically begging for something solid to believe in. Sam's reply that it's the faith that there's good in the world and that it's worth fighting for only seems to let Gollum down harder, as he's been addicted to the Ring for so long that he doesn't have any faith in the world or in goodness left.
  • Wormtongue shedding a tear as Saruman addresses his 10,000 Uruk-Hai, realizing that his actions may have doomed his race to genocide.
    • Wormtongue's tear might rather have been due to utter overwhelmed awe at the massive army Saruman had amassed. (Note that his dialogue just before the reveal was that there was "no such army" as could take Helm's Deep.)
    • Actually, the extended edition scene featuring Saruman and Wormtongue's death also seems to support the former; that Wormtongue still remembers that he was once "a man of Rohan" and is tormented by the fact that he sold Rohan out.
    • Brad Dourif stated that Grima was supposed to be a guy who didn't fit in and never got anything he wanted. Nobody likes him since Saruman's influence, he's no pretty boy like Aragorn or Legolas, he screwed up his chance of the only woman he had (Word of God according to a collectible card) honest feelings for by being really creepy and awkward... Bad guy or no, it's a little hard to not feel sorry for him, some dope who seemed to have just gotten way over his head with Saruman.
  • Faramir remembering the last time he saw his brother alive in the Extended version. Not only because of how it highlights how Faramir not only lost the only family member he ever had that believed in him, but also shows how deeply opposed Boromir was to having anything to do with the Ring, let alone trying to bring it back to Gondor.
  • At the Battle of Helm's Deep, when, at the most desperate moment, Gandalf and Éomer and his men sweep down the hillside, pure white light streaming from Gandalf's staff. We've just watched the motley defenders of Helm's Deep ground down to hopeless despair by the seemingly invincible Uruk-hai, and those beams of light, the accompanying music, and the startled, fearful expressions on the Uruk-hai's faces — the poignancy of the moment, the almost gentle lift after a seeming eternity of grinding down, always breaks one down.
  • "The fires of Isengard will spread. And the woods of Tuckborough and Buckland will burn. And- and all that was once green and good in this world will be gone. There won't be a Shire, Pippin."
  • The dead silence in which Treebeard sees the encroaching destruction caused by Saruman. And his following speech in which you can actually hear his heart breaking.
    "Many of these trees were my friends... creatures I had known from nut and acorn. [...] They had voices of their own."
  • Faramir, believing the Ring to be Gondor's salvation (and the only way to win his father's approval) refuses to see reason and let Frodo go. Then Sam berates him with a devastating Armor Piercing Statement, almost bringing himself to tears as he lays the awful truth at Faramir's feet. The Nazgul attack before Faramir can respond, but the look on his face is pure My God, What Have I Done?
    Sam: "Do you want to know why Boromir died? He tried to take the Ring from Frodo, after swearing an oath to protect him! He tried to kill him! The Ring drove your brother mad!"

Return of the King

The price of victory is a costly one...
  • Particularly the end, where Frodo has to leave Sam behind to sail with Gandalf and the Elves to the Undying Lands, never to return. And then the song "Into the West" comes on. Damn you, Peter Jackson and Tolkien both.
    • Specifically, the way Frodo hugs Pippin and Merry goodbye, before just throwing his arms around Sam and gently kissing his forehead.
    • Unless you started crying at Pippin's song, in which case you will just have recovered in time to start crying again at the end.
    • Then, as Frodo boards the ship, he looks at the sunset, then turns back to the camera, and delivers a real smile, which he haven't seen him do in a while. You feel like there is hope for him to finally begin healing. On top of that, a combination of makeup and lighting in this moment rather makes it seem he's finally gone back to Frodo at the beginning when we first met him, his lightness and innocence and hopeful idealism returned to him at last.
    • Gollum's Song is both heart-wrenching and scary, much like its subject.
  • Pippin's lament. Home is behind, the world ahead; and there are many paths to tread. Through shadow, to the edge of night, until the stars are all alight. Mist and shadow, cloud and shade, all shall fade. All shall fade.
  • During the battle with the Haradrim, we see one of the Oliphants rear up on its hind legs right before toppling over. Word of God is that the filmmakers were intentionally trying to bring to mind the mistreatment that real-life circus elephants go through. The victims of Sauron also include those on his side.
  • "I can't carry it for you, Mister Frodo — but I can carry you!" Cue the waterworks. Sean Astin did an awesome job all throughout the movies, though — seriously, Sam gets possibly the most awesome moments.
    • At that moment, Sean Astin is no longer acting. He has become a complete physical embodiment of Samwise Gamgee. That blood, sweat, and tears? It's gotta be none other than the real deal.
    • When Frodo thinks Sam wants the ring and tells him to leave. Then Sam is climbing down the stairs sobbing and then...then he slips and...
  • The Gondor Calls for Aid scene in the third movie was also very moving. A famous quote from World War I — "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime". (It's worth noting that Tolkien himself lost all but one of his friends during that The First World War, so the scene was especially poignant).
  • Gandalf riding up to and through Minas Tirith. Yes, it's just filler material...but Shore's gorgeous music sweeping along at full tilt while the screen fills with images of this incredible, massive city built into the mountain...beautiful.
  • "For Frodo."
  • Shortly beforehand, Legolas and Gimli have a brief exchange that leaves even the cynical Gimli visibly touched:
    Gimli: Never thought I'd die fighting side by side with an Elf.
    Legolas: What about side by side with a friend?
    Gimli: Aye. I could do that.
  • When Aragorn falls under the attacks of the troll the camera cuts to Legolas panicking not far away, completely ignoring the battle around him to go and help. He tries to fight through Orcs but is cut off. The sheer horror is heartbreaking because this is the first time he shows emotions this clearly. It's like his mind is just yelling "I can't lose my friend again!"
    • Look closely and you'll notice that Legolas is fighting his way through orcs and men with absolutely no regard for his own safety. The helplessness when he's blocked is absolutely heartbreaking. Even more so now that The Hobbit films have confirmed them to be old friends. Legolas is forced to watch his best friend's apparently inevitable death. Ouch.
  • A brief one, but the moment as the remainder of the Fellowship watch Mt. Doom erupt. In the space of a few seconds, they go from triumphant joy to shocked sadness as they realize that Frodo, who has just been proven alive by the destruction of the evil forces, might have lost his life in gaining this unexpected victory. You see the realization on Merry's face, Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli, and then it cuts to Pippin openly weeping and saying Frodo's name...
  • How about when everyone bows down to the hobbits ("You bow to no one!") at the end? That's one of the most powerful moments in the trilogy.
    • The hobbits standing there shell-shocked, awkward and looking so young in their finery, as first the King, then an entire cityful of people kneel before them and do them honour. And they're suddenly the tallest people there.
  • Denethor and Faramir, before Faramir rides off to try to retake Osgiliath. It's one thing to have favorites, but to tell your son that you wish he were dead and the other were alive? And the way Faramir's voice breaks, and he goes off on basically a suicide mission, and his father still doesn't care?
    • Not to mention the scene with Faramir's charge itself with Pippin singing on the soundtrack. Eerily beautiful and absolutely heartbreaking.
      • Faramir's love for his city and his people is just as strong as Boromir's, and yet his father never sees him for what he is. Then Denethor admits that he wished Faramir had died...having tried (and succeeded, mostly) to keep stony-faced throughout the beginning of the movie, that one sentence and Faramir's reaction just set it off.
    • What really tops that whole scene off is that long shot of Gandalf at the end, sitting all by himself in the shadows, in one of the most understated Heroic BSODs.
  • The Extended Edition where Éomer catches sight of Éowyn (who wasn't even meant to be in the battle) lying apparently dead on the Pelennor Fields, and this proud, poised warrior throws away his sword, drops everything and runs to cradle his little sister's body, howling with raw grief. It's even worse when you remember that this was the last thing he expected to see—not only was she not meant to be in the battle, but he thought she was safe and in Rohan.
    • Not to mention that Théoden's body can't be far away, so Éomer seems to have lost his entire family in this one battle. Made even sadder when you recall Théoden's actual death scene, which starts off with him staring lovingly into Éowyn's eyes, saying, "I know your face...Éowyn," in a Meaningful Echo of the equally Tear Jerker-inducing scene in Two Towers when he is first freed from Wormtongue's influence. She smiles back, in yet another Meaningful Echo, this time to when he was telling her that all he wants her to do for him is smile again and be happy.
      Théoden: "My eyes darken..."
      Éowyn: "No. I'm going to save you."
      Théoden: "You already did. Éowyn...my body is broken. You have to let me go...I go to my fathers, in whose mighty company I shall not now be ashamed...Éowyn."
      • The fact that his last word is her name...and her wordless sob as he finally dies...the acting is just amazing. Bernard Hill and Miranda Otto are too brilliant for words.
    • And similarly, when Pippin finds Merry's cloak on the battlefield and realizes that he was in the battle is a tearjerking moment. Especially in the extended edition when several hours are shown to have passed before he finally finds him.
  • It is a Tear Jerker for somewhat different reasons, but the Houses of Healing scene with the gorgeous, haunting song sung by Liv Tyler where Éowyn gets up in the middle of the night and walks to her window and then catches Faramir looking at her as if he's just seen an angel...
    • And also the scene where Éowyn is standing alone staring desolately into the East and Faramir walks up to her to give her some meaningful words of encouragement while still looking at her like she's the most amazing thing he's ever seen. Then she contently leans into him and they clasp hands. Awwww. Also counts as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
  • The parting of Merry and Pippin - in particular when Merry gives Gandalf a look as if "can we please get this over with?" and Pippin cries out his friend's name. Not to mention the way Dominic Monaghan's voice utterly breaks on the "I don't know what's going to happen anymore" line as he steps away.
  • The deleted scene from the Extended Edition where the Mouth of Sauron tells them Frodo is dead. The look on Pippin's face when he holds Frodo's mithril vest, and Gandalf comforting him. Aragorn's whacking off the head of the Mouth of Sauron is highly cathartic.
  • The scene with Frodo and Sam following the destruction of the Ring. First, you have Frodo realizing that his burden is gone ("It's gone... It's done."), then, while trapped on a rock in a sea of lava, Frodo recalls the Shire again, which makes Sam think of Rosie Cotton ("If ever I was to marry someone... It would've been her... It would've been her."). Because let's face it, where else in the trilogy does Sam get the chance to be selfish (and justifiably, too)? And then, to cap it all off, Frodo's delivery of the line, "I'm glad to be with you, Samwise Gamgee... here at the end of all things."
    • Frodo and Sam see that solitary star through the clouds while on the slopes of Mount Doom.
      • The goddamn music again! It's so hopeful and happy and for a second there you might think they're going to die with such happy music playing.
  • Elrond's face at Aragorn's coronation, as he watches Arwen go to her mortal love. He's so torn between joy that all is well and Arwen is with someone she loves and grief that she has chosen mortality.
  • The scene where Gondor's cavalry marches to what we all know will be a losing battle in Osgiliath, where the citizens all toss flowers before their feet, and where one guard even receives a flower directly from hand-to-hand. That guard will always stand out to me.
  • At the end, as Elrond is just passing Arwen on to Aragorn, look at Hugo Weaving's eyes. It barely lasts a quarter of a second but it was enough to turn the triumphant feeling having watched the entire trilogy back to back to one of sadness and empathy.
  • When Frodo angrily tells Sam to go home.
  • Another one that's in the Appendices: The crew had become acquainted with a teenage filmmaker who had a lot of talent - unfortunately he also had terminal cancer. They encouraged him to keep making movies as long as he could, even allowing the use of their high-tech equipment as much as he wanted. During this time they were writing "Into The West" and became inspired by his struggle; after he died the song was played for the first time at his funeral and they included his story and movies in the DVDs.
  • "DEATH!!!"
    • Even better: In the film, that line was said as the Rohirrim were, as far as they knew, making their last stand. In the book, the Rohirrim ride off to a rousing speech and the "DEATH!" line...
      "And so [Théoden] died, and knew not that Éowyn lay near him. And those who stood by wept, crying: 'Théoden King! Théoden King!"
      "But Éomer said to them:
      Mourn not overmuch! Mighty was the fallen,
      meet was his ending. When his mound is raised,
      women then will weep. War now calls us!
      "Yet he himself wept as he spoke. [...] Then he beheld his sister Éowyn as she lay, and he knew her. He stood a moment as a man who is pierced in the midst of a cry with an arrow through his heart, and then his face went deathly white, and and a cold fury rose in him, so that all speech failed him for a while. A fey mood took him.
      "'Éowyn, Éowyn!' he cried at last. 'Éowyn, how come you here? What madness or devilry is this? Death, death, death! Death take us all!'"
      [Rohirrim charge, crying for their king and screaming death]
  • The development of Merry and Éowyn's friendship in the films has always gotten me, especially "I'll look after you", Éowyn's reaction to thinking Merry's been squashed by an oliphaunt, and the fact that just after having slain the Witch-King, she's trying to find him.
  • One line from Pippin will always get you: "The strongest man may be slain by one arrow. Boromir was pierced by many."
  • The great Gollum-related Tear Jerker is when he falls into the fires of Mount Doom, blissfully unaware that he's falling, clutching his "Precious" to the very end... and the last thing he sees is the Ring, still quite fine, abandoning and betraying him for the very last time.
  • Arwen's flash of prophecy as she sees Aragorn holding a little boy, wearing the Evenstar, and realizes what it means. She rides hell for leather back to Rivendell, and storms up to her father:
    Arwen: You saw there was a child! You saw my son!
    Elrond: I looked into your future and I saw death.
    Arwen: But there is also life!
    • That scene, indeed, is a comfort against Elrond's dire prediction for Arwen: thought Aragorn will pass away, he will always be alive in his son's eyes.
  • Bilbo after the ring is destroyed. It's heartbreaking to see someone who used to be so feisty and child-like suddenly become so old and fragile. His conversation with Frodo in the cart- his confusion and the fact that he needs to be rugged up carefully to keep warm.
    • And at the Grey Havens, one last glimpse of the old adventurous spirited Bilbo- the gleam in his eyes and the eager tone when he says "I think I'm quite ready for another adventure." Doubly so after seeing him in action in The Hobbit trilogy.
  • The ending at the Grey Havens. If you've somehow gotten through this trilogy without shedding a tear, prepare for full on weeping. The scene really brings home the franchise: We're followed these characters in the good times and the bad, seen them suffer loss and heartbreak, and struggle on when they could have given up many times over. And now it is at an end. If it doesn't bring you to tears, ask your doctor to see if your heart has turned to ice.
    Gandalf: Well, well. My brave hobbits. Here at last, on the shores of the Sea, comes the end of our Fellowship. I will not say, do not weep: for not all tears are an evil.
    • The hobbits finding out that Frodo is leaving. The dialogue plays out as follows:
    Gandalf: It is time, Frodo.
    Sam: What does he mean?!
    Frodo: I set out to save the Shire, Sam. And it has been saved... But not for me.
    Sam: You don't mean that... You can't leave!
    Frodo: *hands Sam the red leatherbound book* The last pages are for you, Sam.
    • After Gandalf says his line, the hobbits all look at Frodo in sorrowful bewilderment, and begin to silently weep. Sam actually starts sobbing as he begs Frodo to stay, but Frodo wearily accepts his fate. Merry begins to cry, and Frodo hugs him as Merry softly cries into his shoulder. Frodo lets go, and Merry looks at him with the most agonized, contorted tearful grimace. Then, Frodo approaches Pippin, who is holding himself together a little better than Merry, and Frodo hugs Pippin as well. Frodo and Sam exchange a long, loving look, before Frodo wraps his arms around Sam in a warm embrace, gently rocking him as he cries into Frodo's shoulder. Frodo rubs Sam's back to comfort him, then plants a tender kiss on Sam's forehead. Frodo rubs Sam's shoulder, as if to tell him that everything will be all right. As Frodo walks away, hand in hand with Gandalf, Merry and Sam sob quietly as Pippin stares at Frodo in tearful, stunned disbelief. As Frodo boards the boat, he looks back and smiles at his friends, who respond with the saddest, most choked-up smiles. Frodo's smile widens, and then he turns away...
    • Watching that scene closely, it almost breaks the Fourth Wall; Frodo give that smile and nod as if to tell the audience, who have at the least soaked in every bit of these movies, and at most have started with the books and have seen them brought to life, "It's all good. No worries, friends."
  • In addition to that, there's a Freeze-Frame Bonus where Gimli suggests going to request more aid from the Dwarves and Legolas informs him that they're very likely already fighting their own battles. The look on Gimli's face when he realizes the truthfulness of that statement and just how much different his home could appear when he returns says it all. It's also really the only time alluded in the entire films that the war is a going on on a much larger scale than just in Rohan and Gondor.
    • It's the music that does it. Howard Shore has struck again!
  • The whole situation of Denethor almost unwittingly killing Faramir. The icing of the cake is when Pippin says this before he's dragged out of the Tomb of the Stewards by Denethor, "He's not dead. HE'S NOT DEAD!!!"
    • Even worse, everyone who is not Denethor completely ignore Pippin and don't even stand up for him or take his side, or even asks Denethor about the possibility of Pippin being right.
  • Gandalf and Pippin's talk waiting for almost certain death during the siege of Minas Tirith did it for me. Gandalf was being very reassuring about how 'this is not the end' but seeing them calmly prepare themselves to facing death during the upcoming restart of the battle was extremely moving. Pippin is afraid to die and Gandalf reassures him that death is the next adventure.
    • This one line that Gandalf says, along with the accompanying orchestral version of "Into the West": "The gray rain-curtain of this world rolls aside and all turns to silver glass; and then you see it: white shores, and beyond, a far green country into a swift sunrise."
  • Sam trying desperately to save Frodo after Gollum has taken the Ring with him to the bottom of Mt. Doom. It's taken everything they had and more to finish their quest, and now Frodo has nothing left to give. Just look at his face, he's exhausted, in every possible sense of the word.
  • Gollum's death. For one brief, shining moment, he gets back what he has searched for for so long.
  • The Hobbits' homecoming, or lack thereof, at the Shire. The locals just carry on their business as if the four just stepped out when in fact they survived the greatest, bloodiest war in Middle-Earth history. All the four can do at the tavern is silently look at each other and acknowledge that only they know what they did to make sure the Shire was untouched during the war. It's another element that can be related to WWI: the soldiers returning home, shell-shocked, and trying to adjust to a civilian world that is unknowing or uncaring of what they went through.


  • The cavalry charge at the Battle of Helm's Deep. It was just perfect.
    • When the Rohirrim join the battle at Pelennor Fields.
    • The most emotionally powerful "going into battle" scene in the entire trilogy.
      • Théoden's speech.
        Théoden: "Ride now! Ride for ruin, and the world's ending!"
      • Oh, hell yes. Théoden's entire speech sets it up for you, and minutes later, as he lies shattered beneath his horse, cue the Kleenex:
        Théoden: "I go to my fathers . . . in whose mighty company I shall not now feel ashamed. Éowyn ..."