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Tear Jerker: The Sandman
"The Sound of her Wings", where Dream follows his sister Death on her daily work, always make it for this troper, all because of this page. It is just so... real.
[Mother leaves to pick up the milk bottle, Death takes the baby in her arms]
Baby: KKK... [Now in Death's Realm]... But... is that all there was? Is that all I get?
Death: Yes, I am afraid so.
[The Sound of Her Wings]
Mother: Look, booful, Mama's got you something lovely... honey?... NO!!!
This troper's tearjerker moment for this series was in The Doll's House — all the little sequences of Jed's adventures in the dream-world, which are all very sweet and cutesy, and the contrast with the panels of what's really happening when he wakes up. I must have read that same comic a million times, and I still sniffle. Every. Single. Time. (They are also in a small way nightmarish — such as the one where he wakes from a dream about setting loose the verbal gerbils, which are still very cute-looking, to being bitten by rats.)
An off-hand remark in an early book does this. Shakespeare's son bemoans that the only way his father'd care about him is if he died, because then he'd make a play about it. The boy's name is Hamnet and he did die, aged eleven.
This troper cried, for the first time in months, at the end of the A Game of You. She finds it hard to believe that nobody else cried when Death came to pick up Wanda. And she looked so beautiful... This troper also started crying when the woman Barbie was talking to said how nice Alvin looked in his suit, with his hair cut. "She was so proud of her hair."
Barbie scrawling Wanda's given name off her grave with her favorite lipstick and writing her real one. It might've been too similar to a scene from the TV miniseries Roots but it did finish the book in a powerful, emotional bang.
The end of "Ramadan," with its flash-forward from Harun al-Rashid's Baghdad to a little boy hearing stories about it in a bombed-out area of present-day Baghdad.
Orpheus' story, which was already a massive Tear Jerker outside of the series. Particularly the moment when Dream abandons him.
"I have no son."
There's a line near the end about how when Dream walks off, he doesn't look back. You could take that to mean that Orpheus should have had that much willpower, and then he wouldn't be in this mess. Or you could take it the other way: By not looking back, Dream reveals a level of cold-heartedness completely opposite the temperament of his son (at least on the surface). It makes Orpheus's failure more forgivable... and because you don't judge him as harshly now, the punishment seems even worse.
The scene in Brief Lives where Despair reminisces on her last meeting with Destruction, then bursts into tears. Desire attempts to contact her, but Despair doesn't react.
Is this troper the only one whose heart broke for Delirium when she got to the "I had to be...I had to be... It hurt." part? A single panel drives home the point hard that there's a real, deep sadness underneath Delirium's Fun Personified and Cloud Cuckoolander personality.
For this troper it was an earlier bit in the Brief Lives arc: Delirium has just had dinner with Dream, and annoyed him by accidentally reminding him of his recent break-up. When Dream finally gets round to asking her (with his usual icy formality) what she wants, she bursts into tears and sobs out how she was afraid he was probably going to be "all horrible" to her and he's "so scary" so she was trying really hard to "be good" but he was still being "horrid" and she was "doing [her] best" but messed it up anyway and now he would "say no and be horrible and it's all a mess and it's [her] fault". Dream's sincere apology (quite rare for him,) may be heartwarming, but it then becomes sad again when she immediately thinks he's making fun of her, because he's never apologised to her in the billions of years they've known each other. It's a really sad and all too human example of a mentally damaged childlike figure trying to get the approval of the intimidating Aloof Big Brother and failing because she just can't keep her thoughts together and operate on a level he would accept.
It's also sad because while Dream may get irritated with Delirium he doesn't actually treat her all that differently from anyone else; he is just as distant and coldly polite with everybody, and was clearly genuinely surprised and remorseful when Delirium told him how much it hurt her. He was also truly mystified when she asked if he was making fun of her; his type ofpersonality would make it virtually impossible for him to do that, and so Delirium always being "scared he's laughing at [her], behind his face" is simply due to them not understanding each other. Or, it might be truer to say, due to Dream's unwillingness to listen to anyone else and see things from their perspective stopping him from seeing how much he's hurting his little sister with behaviour that, to him, seems completely natural and inoffensive. All in all, this exchange is a sad snapshot of a Dysfunctional Family that is all too realistic to be easy reading.
From The World's End: "I think I fell in love with her, a little bit. Isn't that dumb? But it was like I knew her. Like she was my oldest, dearest friend. The kind of person you can tell anything to, no matter how bad, and they'll still love you, because they know you. I wanted to go with her. I wanted her to notice me. And then she stopped walking. Under the moon, she stopped. And looked at us. She looked at me. Maybe she was trying to tell me something; I don't know. She probably didn't even know I was there. But I'll always love her. All my life." Especially when you consider he's talking about Death.
The fates of Dream's griffin, Dream himself ("Dream? Give me your hand."), and Orpheus, among others.
What about Fiddler's Green? His demise is the one that always gets me. Those last words reflecting on the small pleasures of his life - "A kiss once...from a friend..." - and then slumping dead. Almost as tear-jerking is the revelation that, following Daniel's reincarnation as the new Dream, he offers pretty much all of the casualties of the Kindly Ones new life. Fiddler's Green is the only one who refuses, as he feels that this would cheapen the whole point of death.
Or Abel...poor Abel, with the grieving Goldie perched on his chest.
For that matter, Cain, who does clearly love his brother in their opening scene, but cannot change the nature of their relationship.
Lyta Hall telling a pregnant Rose Walker to "kill [the baby] now. Kill it before it breaks your heart."
The realisation that when Death asks where her brother is you knew for a while now what would happen and this just makes it all the more real.
It was Nada's farewell to him toward the end of the funeral that pushed this editor over the edge and into open bawling.
For this troper, the moment was when the Archangel Duma gave his farewell - one single tear, containing both grief for the fallen and hope at the same time. For the record, this troper is a guy.
There are way too many moments in The Wake that were Tear Jerkers for this Troper. Despair's speech for one: "And you will forget: Death or life will take him from your minds, I know... But I shall remember him." gave this troper chills.
This troper is pissed at how scared everyone looked at that moment. Despair's speech is probably the most touching of the sibling's speeches especially when you realize since her first incarnation died, she's known him the shortest amount of time.
Also Matthew's speech, and the guilt and rage he felt.
As well as Thessaly's speech "...And I swore...I swore I would never shed another tear for him," right while she's crying and showing us she actually has feelings other than rage and spite.
If Delirium's speech doesn't make you feel at least a little tearful, you probably have no soul. "He was my big brother. He really was. I was always a bit scared of him. But I'm not scared of him any more. I'm a bit sad of him instead. Okay. That's all."
This troper cries for Bast, who gives her speech quietly knowing that it's not long before she dies, too. "And now he is gone. And I am old."
Hob waking up weeping was one, and the speech right when Daniel-Dream opens the door "...And then, fighting to stay asleep, wishing it would go on forever, sure that once the dream was over, it would never come back...you woke up." With Dream's Star shining in the sky and that feeling that after ten issues...it was over. Amazing.
I am tearing up just thinking about the scene in The Wake when Hob dreams about meeting Morpheus and a "pavement artist" (who is very obviously Destruction) somewhere.
Hob Gadling's reaction to Morpheus' death. This is particularly bad when you consider that it comes right after the death of his girlfriend, and that Morpheus was the one person he must have been certain would not go and die on him. You'd think an immortal man would have become used to the people he's close to dying, but instead, his mourning at the grave of his most recent love is painful because of how real it is.
I thought we'd have longer. It never gets any easier. People you love not being there any more.
Morpheus' confession to Shakespeare in the final issue: "I am...in my fashion...an island."
What's even more sad and beautiful about that moment is that he couldn't be more wrong. Over all the issues of The Sandman, we see Dream change, and love and need other people and act like a man, and finally leave his kingdom - through death - because at last he realised that he had changed.
Nuala's realization of Dream's motivation for everything post Brief Lives. "You... you want them to kill you, don't you? You want to be punished for your son's death." The look on Dream's face the next panel is heartwrenching.
Throughout the series, it's implied that killing one of the Endless brings about terrible punishment, even under good intent. After the climax of The Kindly Ones, Lyta Hall, Morpheus's killer is expressly reminded this, with the further warning that the person who'd done so previously would suffer for all eternity when his motives were purer by far. The penalty handed down is to be allowed to walk away with no further harm done to her — a Cruel Mercy, as her efforts were All for Nothing, and everything she's done ensured she'd never see her son again, as he'd been reincarnated into the new Dream.