Tear Jerker / Video Games

"Fail 'You're The Inspiration'? Are you insane, or just evil? I've done many questionable acts in games, but let that poor little girl down? I draw the line there. Cut off my hands, and I'll beat the level with my stumps. I. Will. Not. Fail. Her."
— This page's section for Elite Beat Agents

For the most tearjerky-ness, listen to this, this, this, this, or this while reading.

Some people may argue that video games can't be art. Others say that they could be, but haven't achieved that status yet. Perhaps scenes like this may change their minds...

Series with pages dedicated to Tear Jerker moments:

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    Unlisted Examples 
Note: If a game has a Main page, create a new subpage for Tear Jerkers rather than listing here. l
  • A rare iPad game, Infinity Blade III, has one in the first quest after beating Soulless Raidriar. "Goodbye Radriar. I'll make sure your sacrifice was not in vain." Even though they didn't like each other, it's amazing the sympathy felt after Raidriar died because of the years spent locked up.
  • Odd World: Munch's Oddysee- The game opens with Munch swimming with his fellow Gabbits. But then the net comes in.
    '''One time, there were lots of us. But that was before there was any webs. Now, I can't find anybody. My name is Munch, and I've been singing for them ever since. Beat But nobody sings back.
    • Stranger's Wrath had a pretty heartbreaking scene. The Stranger goes on another mission to find the doctor needed to perform an operation he was saving up for hung. He is then knocked out, only to wake up to find out that the outlaws found out that he is a Steef. If that weren't bad enough, the Clackerz turn on him upon this revelation. Stranger just runs while being fired at, with his only reliable friends being the Grubbs.
    • The fates of the Mudokons in the first two games, Oddysee and Exoddus. Enslaved, locked away and forced to scrub floors in the first game and even mine the bones of their dead for their evil overlords, the Glukkons. You can save every one from the factories and mines but even in the good ending of Exoddus Abe remarks "we knew there had to be more of us out there", with a montage of the Mudokons behind bars saying "we're screwed..." quietly.
      • The Mudokon variant who have their eyes stitched shut forcibly blinding them.
  • The obscure Wii game Zack & Wiki: The Quest for Barbaros' Treasure features a boss stage in which Wiki, a cute, golden, flying monkey thing is frozen inside an ice lion. If you screw up trying to free him once too many times, Wiki will tell Zack, "I'm feeling sleepy... thanks for everything..."
  • This game from Orisinal doesn't seem like much of a tearjerker at first, but if you manage to play it to the end...
  • The game Passage, especially near the end if you picked up your mate. Seeing that little tombstone and knowing that you have nothing to do but keep moving is heartwrenching.
    • It really depends on how the game is played. You may die alone with regret.
    • Or... when your love dies, you can choose to stay by her grave and join her.
    • And the character is the creator, Jason, of the game himself. And his mate is his real life wife.
  • Jason Roher's other game, Gravitation is also heartwenching. To get by, you must play ball with your girl. If you are greedy and go for the box points for long, you'll fall down and find that see it gone and your environment gets darker. And the little girl is modeled after his own girl.
  • Ribbon of Green's ending.
  • One the topic of flash games, The Last Stand: Union City. Towards the end, you meet the protagonist of the first two Last Stands, Jack. He sacrifices himself so you, your spouse, and your ragtag group of friends can escape via boat. If you recall from the first two games, most prominently the second one, the only hope for Jack and his small crew is to get to Union City as there are still boats and planes taking people out. When Jack simply says to go on without him, he'll cover our exit, it's almost too much.
  • The entire game Broken Hearted. It's a kinetic novel (without any sort of gameplay other than pressing the space bar and crying) about a guy who loses his closest friends, including one he was going to propose to, in the 9/11 incident. Since it's based on reality, you get no happy ending, but damn, EVERYBODY that was ever important in his life.
  • The ending for Sanada Yukimura in Samurai Warriors 3: anyone who knows their Japanese history knows that Yukimura was fighting a losing battle during the Siege of Osaka, but SW3 puts an emotional spin on it. After an emotional duel with Ina, his sister-in-law and a fellow warrior, Yukimura prepares to make a final charge at Tokugawa Ieyasu. Ina begs him not to throw his life away, but Yukimura would not waver. He is last seen charging at Tokugawa before the screen fades to white, and his spear is shown standing alone on the final battlefield...
  • Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, surprisingly. Although it seems like just a cinematic shoot 'em up, the story hits hard sometimes. Throughout the first few levels of the game, Kane is sent on a job to steal something for a gang of mercenaries that have his wife and daughter. After botching it, they are brought before him as he's lying in a ditch, helpless. They shoot his wife in the head, and are about to kill his daughter before he becomes enraged, grabbing a shovel and beating the shooter to death, screaming "YOU SHOULD HAVE LET ME TALK TO THEM!" Oh, and let's not get into the ending...
    • That ending is made worse considering you can save her. All it requires is leaving Shelly, Riffic and Lynch to die out in the jungle, once again betraying everything you know and knowing that your daughter hates you even more now.
    • Either ending is a Tear Jerker. In the save Jenny ending, there is no Big Damn Heroes moment. You instead arrive in the town to find that Rific is already dead. You very nearly reach the dock to escape, only to have Jenny gunned down by the last man between you and safety. It's made even worse by Kane's frantic denials of the fact she's dead, yelling at Lynch in deranged fashion to shut him up and carrying Jenny's limp body on his shoulders to the boat. And Shelley dies too.
    • The developers know. The achievements in the 360 version for getting each ending are, respectively, "Damned If You Do" and "Damned If You Don't."
  • Poker Night at the Inventory of all places. One of the conversations that can happen among the characters is Heavy telling about when he was a kid and saw a sparrow on a fence, then another kid killed it with a throwing knife and ran away. "I pick up sparrow and hear his last breath before digging him tiny grave".
    • Made all the more poignant by the silent shock on the faces of the others, Tycho bursting into tears, and Strong Bad saying "That's not even a little bit funny," to which Heavy replies, "No. It's not."
  • The Dead Island trailer. Made all the worse by the music and the montage at the end. Imagine going on a vacation with your family and/or friends, all of you expecting to have the most awesome time. All of a sudden, zombies attack and you watch in horror as your loved one get mauled and turn against you as they reanimate.
  • The "sad" stages in Elite Beat Agents and both Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan games.
    • Particularly crushing is the EBA stage's third segment, seen in its entirety here. A little girl whose father has died tries to see him in her dreams. In the dream, she chases after his silhouette, and at the end of the segment leaps at him, falling short. She screams "DADDY!" If you're doing badly, he just keeps walking... but if you do well, he stops and then turns to her just before she wakes up. No one will think less of you for pausing the game to collect yourself at that point. Aside from that, there are reports that some players are unable to keep a straight face and break down weeping when they hear You're the Inspiraton after playing that level. The writing is just that powerful.
      • This scene is so sad that the Elite Beat Divas (and Commander Kahn) don't do their normal dance moves to it. They just wave their arms like a normal Agent.
      • If you want to feel even WORSE, fail the stage itself. If you don't feel like a horrible human being for letting her down afterwards, then you truly have no soul left in you.
    • The Ouendan sad levels are similarly rough: The first a dead man trying to help his girlfriend move past his death, the second a teenage skater trying to take her late sister's place.
    • The second bonus stage of Ouendan 2, where you help a young boy confess his love to his crush before she moves away. Especially if you do well, because then she responds that she feels the same way, and you get a final picture of the boy waving goodbye to her, with tears in his eyes. That stage has also made the song, Glamorous Sky, into a Tear Jerker as well.
    • The first bonus stage in Ouendan 2. The beloved toy monkey getting given out, to the dismay of the owner, who had loved that toy as a child. The stage involves the monkey using amazing, ninja-like skill to get back to its owner. Failure to complete the stage results in the toy monkey, damaged, broken, and unable to get back to its owner.
      • Most stages in the game have haikus that show if you fail. For "Monkey Magic", it reads, "Collapsed and dying in the street/what I remember is/every day of your love." Just to remind you that this broken toy will die regretting losing its owner.
  • Even the Crash Bandicoot series has a subtle yet effective one. In Crash Nitro Kart after defeating Krunk, Crash offers the broken champion a gift from his world (his beloved yo-yo). An annoyed Velo teleports Krunk away for his failure. While Crunch and Coco both give rather irked reactions to this, Crash just looks on, visibly saddened at his new friend being sent away.
  • Resonance of Fate has a heart-wrenching moment on a bridge, complete with a dramatic, rainy backdrop and a dramatic and emotional last minute rescue by an unexpected party. For those who wish to know, Your main protagonist, Zephyr, is actually the murderous lunatic seen in the opening scenes of the game who is 'dead' to everyone but a select few. After surviving and being given a 'second chance', he is hunted down by a witness to his mental breakdown and brought to the bridge to 'talk', which consists of a one-sided, painfully detailed recount of several people who died that day, their final words, the words of their loved ones, a complete reaming of Zephyr's character, and ends with these coldly delivered words- 'why did YOU live when they died? Is your life worth more then theirs? It sickens me to even look at you. Your life is a blaspheme! Your very existence shakes the foundation of faith! Only your death will satisfy me!' The worst of this, though, is the entire time the only reaction from the character being so emotionally and mentally torn apart is for lips to tense and quake subtly as he fights back the sobs, physically retreating under each word. While you do defeat Lagerfeild in battle- or rather, Leanne steps up and ends him for you after a boss battle you win anyway, the ending cutscene is just as heartbreaking as the start, with your characters sobbing in the rain, one only wanting to die and the other wanting him to live, but torn apart knowing what he's done.
    • This game is one mood whiplash to another, and when it decides to put the hurt on a character, it does.
  • The ending of The Maw when Frank must leave Maw. He evens gives Maw's EYEBALL a good-bye hug.
  • The ending credits of The Munchables where Munchy, Chomper, Great Elder are bawling their eyes out and staring at the night sky simply because the game was over.
  • This cutscene from Chocobo's Dungeon 2.
  • Though it's not exactly related to playing video games, there's the Dreamcast page on this site. It's like a farewell to Sega hardware and the greatest Sega console that died out too early. It's Still Dreaming...
  • RefleX has the entire game, really. No one side walked out of this entire conflict with any net gain. Valkyness fights a losing battle, and even after they join forces with the Global Unified Army, the united human front is overwhelmed by the Raiwat and the ZODIAC units. The Phoenix's pilot is killed, triggering its transformation into the menacing ZODIAC Ophiuchus, which destroys the other ZODIACs while unapologetically causing so much damage to the Earth and its population that humanity and its advancements are set back by millenia, and the Raiwat are forced to retreat, with its army's commander killing himself. ZODIAC Ophiuchus finishes the final remaining ZODIAC unit, but then sacrifices itself in order to prevent the ZODIAC tragedy from happening again.
  • In the Mobile Phone Game Chronicles of Inotia: Children of Carnia, to defeat the God of Darkness once for all, Lydia has to be sacrificed. Lucio tries to argue with her, that they would find a way to avert it. The way she explains that there is no other way is simply depressing and even more depressing when the screen shows the Spirit Kings saying "The sacrifice was completed." And then, the memories of the party are erased, while rolls a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, at the voice of Ji Yoon Park.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat has you form a Five-Man Band with four guys you have come to know and be friends with to get through a dangerous pathway into Pripyat. A cheerfuly optimistic deadbeat, a reformed Monolith member, the hapless surviving pilot of a military operation-gone-wrong and a former Dutyer that you first met after he drank you under the table. With snorks, hamsters, zombies and Monolith cultists all gunning for you, there is a very good chance that one or more—possibly all—of them will not be coming out of that tunnel with you. And even if they all do, the reveal that you are an undercover military agent leaves the ex-Dutyer feeling betrayed and he walks off, never to be seen by you again. You can find him duking it out with some snorks, after which he may thank you by giving you a custom light machine gun.
  • Zone of the Enders certainly gets you with Viola's death. She was a villain, but she became that after losing everyone who was important to her through her life, from her parents, to her lover. Her death scene is heartwrenching, with her mecha slowly disintegrating while entering Jupiter's atmosphere, while she has one last conversation with Leo, telling him her story, before being completely destroyed by the planet's stormy atmosphere. By the time she dies, she's glad that her "ill-fated days" and suffering are finally over, and she can reunite with her beloved one, finally. Ah, the music that plays during the scene doesn't help to heighten the mood either.
  • The Sims brings a few of these. Whenever your sim dies and you invested a lot of time into building them, you can feel this way. If they weren't happy during their lives, they try to take the hourglass away from the Grim Reaper.
    • If it's a big family, try listening to the sound of their relatives crying.
    • But if you have been a nice "User" and helped them live a rich and happy life, it's a Tear Jerker crossed with Crowning Moment of Funny as the Reaper shows up with dancing hula girls and wearing a lei to escort the happy Sims into their next life. Someone must have been watching Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.
    • Agnes Crumplebottom. The Scrappy from The Sims 1. However, when we see her in The Sims 3, she's more of a Jerkass Woobie. She lives alone in a mansion built for three, having lost her husband during their honeymoon. If one checks, you can see the half-built nursery in the mansion as well.
    • Parents divorcing and their child crying.
  • The flash game Viricide ends with a massive, very sad Player Punch. Throughout the game, you've been helping an AI named EXADI repair herself by killing the viruses that are infesting her various systems. You also find out that EXADI's been deeply depressed, and for good reason. Her designer, whom the AI thinks of as her father, killed himself. At the end of the game, EXADI is fully operational, but she still has one more task for you, and it's not viruses that you're fighting this time. She asks you to destroy her Personality Chip, rendering her emotionless and no longer self-aware. The dialogue is just haunting, helped immensely by very good voice acting. Before the Final Boss, EXADI justifies her suicide by reminding you that she's not human and that she can't bear being able to feel anything any more. As well, at the very end, EXADI reports that her Personality Chip is totally out of commission, and that only the designer could bring her back online. She's permanently dead, by your hands and her choice.
  • From the visual novel Dangan Ronpa: The resolution for the second trial in its entirety. There's the whole thing with the complexes of Chihiro and Mondo, and how the latter kills the former to stop The Reveal that he got his older brother killed. It's made even worse by the fact that Chihiro, seeing himself as weak idolized Mondo, who he saw as someone strong. And seeing Ishimaru break down crying doesn't help anything.
  • Makai Toshi SaGa , aka Final Fantasy Legend for Game Boy. Near the end of the game, you'll find a fallout shelter, and inside the remains of a family fleeing the nuclear armageddon that made the World of Ruin so ruinous. On one of the bodies you'll find a journal left by the father as he watched his children starve to death as the game over music plays. Incredibly tear jerking, especially given the amount of censorship at Nintendo at the time.
  • Several endings of Castle of Shikigami III. Despite how light-hearted and comical the Castle of Shikigami trilogy is, it has its emotional moments:
    • Kohtaro's ending. He confronts Tsukiko, his childhood friend, and after defeating her, he breaks down in tears and is consoled by his Shikigami, Sayo Yuuki.
    Sayo: Don't cry... Please don't cry... I'm here for you... I'll always be here...
  • Chapter 21 of Kid Icarus: Uprising has this toward the end, when Pit's wings get burned off. It's made worse by Palutena's reaction.
  • Lollipop Chainsaw of all games has an unexpectedly sad cutscene during the final chapter. Juliet and Nick are inside Killabilly, and the only way they can finish him off is if Juliet attaches Nick's head to Swan's corpse, which is attached to Killabilly's heart. The conversation between Juliet and Nick that unfolds in this scene, as well as Juliet giving Nick one Last Kiss, is incredibly gutwrenching, and the extremely well-done voice acting from Tara Strong and Michael Rosenbaum also doesn't help.
    • Prior to this, The apparent sacrifice of Juliet's father, which manages to be both sad and badass at the same time.
  • In the flash game Once Upon a Life, you help a spritely old man retrieve the scattered photos of his scrapbook. It's a mix of awesome, heartwarming, and funny as he has to go on a wild and crazy adventure to retrieve them all and reminisces about his long and fulfilling life. After getting them all back, he returns to his retirement home, satisfied with his adventure which the narration describes as an "encore" to a life well lived. It's implied the old man dies in his sleep that night.
  • In Battleblock Theater, before the severe Mood Whiplash, the ending is pretty sad. It has a really sad shot of a circle-headed friend offering Hatty some hot chocolate, only for the narrator to inform us that Hatty can't move or express any sort of emotion. Watch here.
  • Not one in a game, but during the Wii-to-Wii U system transfer, the process is depicted as Pikmin gathering the bits of data in the Wii console and moving them to a rocket that's set to fly to the Wii U console. However, at the end, one last purple Pikmin will stumble and fall just as the rocket closes its door. The Pikmin will have an obvious look of sadness on it, and the player may feel sorry for it being left behind on the now empty Wii console (considering what Pikmin regularly go through in their own series, this would not be out of the ordinary for it). Luckily, the ship opens back up to allow it to enter before launching off.
  • An old parenting magazine detailed perhaps the earliest instance of someone crying on a video game: Early 1992, after having given a seven year old kid Final Fantasy Adventure for Christmas, he plays the game pretty much obsessively all the way to completion. When his mother came to tell him that he's played the game enough and needs to put it away for a bit, she noticed tears flowing from his eyes and heard some sad music coming from the game boy. When she asked what was the matter, he detailed all the various tear jerkers in the game culminating in the ending where the hero Did Not Get the Girl and she has to become the new Mana Tree, even crying when Boy set the Chocobo free, and he had named the boy after himself.
  • Ether One is set in mind of a patient suffering from dementia and includes bits of mental notes and diary entries that are both heartbreaking and sadly very realistic. Examples include
    • A memory of the patient attending a funeral and not understanding why everyone (including themself) has been crying. The funeral is for the patient's spouse.
    • A memory of the patient meeting people and hearing their names, and being unsure of whether they should be familiar. One of them is the patient's son.
    • A memory of the patient trying to figure out why an old music box doesn't work. His son points out that it's actually a cushion. This is not played for laughs.
    • Several memories of the patient becoming angry and acting out (sometimes physically) over small incidents, such as losing keys or being asked to write rather than paint during a therapy session.
    • The ending itself is also bittersweet and can invoke this. At the very end of it, the patient (who is actually the player character, contrary to the game's opening premise), awakens and again becomes cognizant of reality. Then he asks where his wife, Jean, is and he must be reminded that she passed away. The game's epilogue includes a note from a doctor stating that she has had to give the patient this sad news multiple times.
  • Alien Target is a pretty disappointing lightgun shooter that probably would be forgotten today were it not for two things. The first one being that if you do well you get treated to a bonus round in which you shoot innocent Polish civilians for fun and the other one being its intro, which is so depressing that it might very well make you forget the above statement due to the way that it represents the tragedy of an alien invasion: Just take a look.
  • The Kongregate game Innkeeper is pretty light-hearted fare for the most part as you take the role of a young man named Manuel trying to run a successful inn with the help of his family, particularly his mother Nanay. Then you find out Manuel died years ago, and you've actually been playing as Nanay, and she's working herself to exhaustion making the inn a success just so she can keep pretending Manuel is still alive. The entire game is really about Nanay learning to accept the reality of her son's death.
  • The Talos Principle:
    • Alexandra's final messages. The ones you find throughout the garden are mostly positive, Patrick Stewart Speeches about how great, or at least interesting, it was to be human. The ones in the Tower are made much nearer to the end of her life, when most of the people she knows are dead and she's not sure if the project is complete enough to have any chance of success. She starts to worry that all her effort was for nothing. One of her last messages mentions that unlike pretty much every other scientist on the project, Alexandra never went home; she didn't talk to friends outside work, she didn't visit her parents. She spent every waking hour trying to make sure the project would be completed until she dropped dead at her desk.
    • A subtle one in Road to Gehenna. Though the bots' messages on the Gehenna message board are pretty upbeat and seem like the typical activity of a message board, if you watch the actual bots in their prisons they frequently exhibit body language indicative of extreme anguish. This seems contradictory, but if you pay close attention to the stories and text adventures, most of them feature a protagonist who is in some way trapped, either by a physical obstacle, the circumstances of their life, or their own limitations. Rather than being freed, many of the stories end with the protagonist coming to terms with their own restrictions. To a great extent, Gehenna's culture is a desperate attempt by its inhabitants to convince themselves that their entrapment is acceptable.
  • Red Orchestra: The game averts the Instant Death Bullet trope in the most tragic and dramatic way possible, and any of the dying men's agonised moans, whimpers and gurgles are utterly soul-crushing. Men will weakly murmur that they don't want to die, they'll curse the enemy, or they'll cry out for their mothers. It gets worse in the Rising Storm when the Americans get introduced and you don't have to understand German or Russian to know what is being said.
    "Pa... Pa, is that you?... No, pa, I just fell off the tractor is all... I'm gonna... I'm gonna be fine... Just help me up, pa..."