Tear Jerker / Warhammer 40,000

In the grim darkness of the far future there is more than war. There are real people there too.

  • There are actually quite a few tear jerkers in Warhammer 40K literature - usually small, fleeting moments that remind the reader that the characters are still human beings. Commissar Yarrick during the War of Armageddon had just learned that another city had fallen to the Ork invaders, with the defenders being heroically wiped out to the last man. He immediately went to his quarters, and the account goes on to say that "Some say he prayed to the Emperor and renewed his faith. Those who knew him well say he wept." And this was from a badass who once fought a seven-foot beast hand-to-hand with one arm torn off, killed it, and then had its weapon grafted to the stump of his arm.
  • The remorse and despair of the Lord of the Unfleshed near the end of The Killing Ground, after being posessed and used by a vengeful revolutionary. Uriel comforts him and shows him a holy icon of the God-Emperor; the Lord of the Unfleshed's visage is reflected as the boy he once was before the forces of the Ruinous Powers turned him into a monster. As the Lord of the Unfleshed sobs in joy, believing that the Emperor never abandoned him, Uriel grants him the Emperor's Mercy.
    "The Emperor loves me!"
    "Yes, he loves you," Uriel said as he pulled the trigger.
  • In the Ciaphas Cain novel Cain's Last Stand, Commissar-Cadet Donal's last stand, alongside Governor Trevallyn, covering Cain and his team's escape from the governor's palace. Made even more powerful by Cain's last words to Donal before leaving, where he takes off his red sash and gives it to Donal, formally christening him as a full-fledged Commissar.
    • Then, at the end of the book, Donal comes back under Warmaster Varan's mind control. With Jurgen's help, Cain briefly breaks the control over Donal's mind, during which he manages to smile and commit suicide. The real hitter is when Cain walks away, quietly folding up the same red sash.
      • This event seems to cause him to snap a little. Notably, his actions afterwards are pretty much free of his usual self-deprecation and justification.
  • A similar scene plays out in the novel Grey Knights. Thanks to a conspiracy hatched by a rogue Inquisitor, an Imperial battlefleet was fooled into thinking that the Grey Knights were actually an enemy force. Unwilling to engage his fellow Imperials, Justicar Alaric ordered his ship, the Rubicon, to charge straight for the planet where the Inquisitor was hiding, ignoring all of the damage they were taking from the Imperial ships. It's a suicidal order, but the over one thousand men and women that was the Rubicon's crew did their duty without hesitation. Thanks to their efforts, Alaric and all his Grey Knights made it to the planet, even though the Rubicon and the entire crew perished in the process. Just before they died, Alaric realized that he never really got to know any of the crewmen. He recognized an officer over the radio, and this was their final conversation:
    Alaric: Good work officer. What is your name?
    Officer: None of us have names. Deployment in six minutes, brother-captain. The Emperor Protects.
  • Upon landing on the surface, Alaric then proceeds to give the following speech:
    We do not know what our chances of survival are, so we fight as if they were zero. We do not know what we are facing, so we fight as if it was the dark gods themselves. No one will remember us now and we may never be buried beneath Titan, so we will build our own memorial here. The Chapter might lose us and the Imperium might never know we existed, but the Enemy - the Enemy will know. The Enemy will remember. We will hurt it so badly that it will never forget us until the stars burn out and the Emperor vanquishes it at the end of time. When Chaos is dying, its last thought will be of us. That is our memorial -carved into the heart of Chaos. We cannot lose, Grey Knights. We have already won.
  • Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War: Winter Assault has a tear jerker here that invokes true Manly Tears at its awesome.
    "To each of us falls a task, and all the Emperor requires of us Guardsmen is that we stand the line, and die fighting. It is what we do best: we die standing."
    Gabriel: If redemption is what you seek, then that is what I will give you.
    • Castor gets a speech almost as good as Sturnn's in Retribution.
    Castor: Merrick, the life of a Guardsman is to die. It is my job to send them to places where they will die. I am not afraid to spend soldiers, but I never waste them. (Later) So, you can continue with your attempt to kill me, but killing you Merrick would be very... wasteful.
    • Exterminatus You can tell no one wants to do it. Not even the Marine at the trigger. And just before there's this beautiful picture of Typhon Primaris, lush and green with waterfalls spilling over, and you know what's about to happen and you can't stop it...
    • From the same series is this. Jonah Orion has been possessed by a greater daemon, with all his will, he fights the beast and forestalls its regeneration of his body; the exchange below begins:
    Tarkus: He fights you still.
    Daemon: A desperate and foolish gambit. All he can do is forestall my repair of his flesh. By all means, kill this body. It will then be my pleasure to drag the stubborn soul of Jonah Orion into the depths of the Warp.
    Tarkus: The Emperor protects the souls of the Faithful. And Jonah Orion has proven himself true.
    Daemon: The Emperor? Your 'god' is but a withered corpse on a throne, he cannot protect anyone! Kill me now and nothing will save Jonah Orion!
    Tarkus: The man who has nothing can still have faith.
  • The novel of Fire Warrior had the habit of showing events from minor people's perspectives. From other Tau to Space Marines to Imperial Guardsmen and even civillians. One handful of sentences focused upon a pregnant woman in labour hiding on a planet under attack by the World Eaters. The last sentences notes that she thought she heard chainsaws nearby...
  • The Space Marine Battles Novel Rynn's World has an especially heartwrenching scene that doubles as a Crowning Moment of heartwarming. Captain Cortez saves a Mother and her children (one of whom is just a baby)from being murdered by Orks. Chapter Master Pedro Kantor is less than pleased with this development, as there are (to his knowledge) only a dozen or so Crimson Fists left after the destruction of their monestary, and they cannot afford to bring refugees along. But Kantor says that the family can tag along as long as they can keep pace with the Space Marines, which anyone will tell you is no small feat. After a while, the mother becomes tired and unable to keep up. Kantor moves to the back of the column, to (as the reader is led to believe) "grant her the final mercy." As he kneels next to the mother with his wrist mounted storm bolter pointed disturbingly close to her head, we believe he's going to kill her. Then, after the mother pants that she tried, but her children were just so heavy, Kantor, (who, I feel the need to stress, did not want her there in the first place) replies with the following.
    Kantor: You did well to bring them this far....It is time that someone carried you now.
As he picks her up in his arms and carries her the rest of the journey to rejoin their remaining battle brothers. If that doesn't encapsulate what it truly means to be a Space Marine in Warhammer 40k, I don't know what does.
  • The Space Marines Battles novel Legion of the Damned actually has one. During the battle in the cloister Zachariah Kersch sees his absterge Bethesda being attacked by two Flesh Hounds of Khorne. She is the only person who has been consistently nice to him, even his own servants believed Kersch was worthless after his past failures, but Bethesda always believed in him. He grabs a whip and gets it around her leg in an attempt to save her, even the company Librarian tries to help by blasting the Hounds who are sadly immune to psychic powers. Kersch is not strong enough and the Hounds drag the screaming girl into an alley. You can guess what happened next.
  • "I wanted to be a hero. You can see how that turned out."
  • In Eisenhorn, this happens in one instance at the Thracian Gate when a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming get subverted. A space marine cradles an injured child, intending to carry him safety. It turns out the child was one of the captured psykers that got loose in the confusion, and he made old Gregor kill the marine, and very nearly himself if it weren't for Voke's Big Damn Hero moment.
  • In Void Stalker there are a few Tear Jerker scenes. The best is Talos Valcoran's death. He is the last survivor of 10th company, barring Variel and Lucoryphus, and knows that he is doomed to die from gene-seed rejection in a few years and admits that he never hated the Night Lords, he hated what they made him into. He calmly walks towards Jain Zar, the Void Stalker, and allows her to impale him before detonating every grenade he has to take her with him. He succeeded.
  • Then Cyrion's death. Cyrion is wounded by Jain Zar and dies in Talos's arms. He is blind from the burns and gives his last request to Talos to not have his gene-seed extracted, stating that he just wants to rest, which Talos promises. He then dies with the final line, "I'm dying," he said. "Everyone else is dead. The slaves escaped. So..." he breathed out slowly, "...how are you?" Definitely a tear worthy moment.
  • Uzas's death is worthy of tears, even more so because of what happens afterwards. Uzas finally realises that he is not responsible for many of the murders he has been accused of, Cyrion is. He attacks Cyrion but before he can kill him Talos fatally wounds him, and tells him he is the worst excuse for a Night Lord in their history and that even Ruven was better than him. But before he dies Cyrion actually apologies to him posthumously, a traitor marine actually apologies to somebody and means it.
  • Xarl's death is much earlier on but is no less heartbreaking. He dies saving the rest of First Claw from a Genesis Chapter Company Champion. His last act is to tell Talos that he was wrong and that there is no shame in wanting more in life than just survival. He falls to the ground, dead, after finishing his sentence. Talos then carries out his cremation and harvesting himself, and cries after burning his friend's body.
  • Mercutian has a heartbreaking death as well. He is mortally wounded by Jain Zar during the fight in the catacombs and volunteers to stay behind and buy them a few seconds. He battles Jain Zar ferociously even though he is dying. She impales him and leaves him to die, giving him the chance to shiv her in the thigh. She finishes him off quickly, but the wound he gave her was the reason that Talos and the others had a fighting chance against her.
  • The novel The Siege of Castellax has a rather surprising Tear Jerker moment. When Over-Captain Vallax escapes the Orks he unwittingly leads a team of Ork Kommandos into the Iron Warriors's citadel and is lambasted by Captain Rhodaan for it. Vallax is horrified by his actions and volunteers to stay behind alone while Rhodaan and his Raptors go off to deal with a traitor in their ranks, despite his armour weighing him down, his weapon being a beaten-up Ork piece of crap and part of his brain is still exposed from the Ork's tortures, and above all that he despises Rhodaan completely and has tried to kill him multiple times, he still stays behind to buy them the time they need, because they are his Legion brothers, and dies fighting. Later on the Ork Kommando Kaptain Grimruk has his head and thinks that Vallax fought exceptionally well.
  • In the novel Pariah, the main character Bequin finds several ancient toys as part of her mission. The toys are so old that they pre-date even the Horus Heresy. She notices that the toys still have the letters "CCCP" written on them, and she asks what they mean. The store owner simply replies:
    No one remembers anymore.
    • "CCCP", for anyone who doesn't know, stands for "Союз Советских Социалистических Республик", which in English is Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik - Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In other words, they are the last relics from humanity's first space faring civilisation, and possibly the last remnant of "our" era in the living nightmare that is the 41st millennium. And they will be forgotten or destroyed very soon.
  • "The Last Church", the earliest story in canon, set during the Unification Wars. It's about what is strongly suggested to be the last Christian church on Earth, run by an old and lonely priest. One night the priest is visited by a strange traveler who has come to discuss religion and morality with him. After a lengthy debate between the two (the traveler argues that religion is bad and should be abolished by this "Emperor" guy, the priest argues that religion is good and this "Emperor" guy should stop trying to force everyone to do what he says), the traveler explains who he is. He is the Emperor of Mankind. He is here to burn down the church and has decided to offer the priest a chance to recant his beliefs so that he needn't perish with it. The priest chooses to instead burn with his church, calling out the Emperor on his hypocrisy and coming failures before walking back inside and quietly praying as twisted prototypical space marines torch the building. As crumples, the Emperor and his marines leave, unaware that a large clock in the church is ringing. One that was prophesized to only begin ringing when the end of humanity came...
  • The Doom of Craftworld Malan'tai. A Tyranid creature ate the souls of its people. Twelve years later, Grey Knights find it infested by Tzeentch daemons looking for spirit stones to eat. They defeat the daemons and hand over the remaining stones to Iyanden Eldar. Finally, they sent Malan'tai to a sun to put it's people to rest. Due to the Dead at its finest, right there.
  • The ending to The Fall of Cadia. As the name suggests, Cadia fell to the 13th Black Crusade. Creed lost his best friend Kell, most of his men and his arm to Abaddon The Despoiler and was finally left to die on the shattered planet, only to later be approached by what is implied to be a C'Tan.

  • Damnatus — The Exterminatus scene.
  • Gav and Bob.
  • Makari the banna wava. In canon, he was sat on by Ghazhkull by accident and had his squashed corpse fed to a squigg without a second of thought. In fanon, however, he was the only being that Ghazhkull had any compassion or sympathy towards. In a battle against humans, Makari got killed, thus fueling Ghazhkull's hatred towards humanity and avenged his favorite gretchin by wiping out the human planet where his death took place. He still visits his grave from time to time, mourning the death of the single person he had ever truly cared about.
    Everyone knew Orks were belched back into another body after they died. Not Gretchin though. No Gretchin could ever replace Makari.
  • Magnus the Red's reaction when he realises exactly what he has done in his attempt to contact the Emperor. Magnus, who is easily the Primarch most concerned about the preservation of knowledge and culture, completely destroys his chambers, smashing dozens of unique and priceless artifacts in his grief. He seems to know that he not only completely messed up the Imperial webway and, by extension, his father's plans, he also has played a significant part in occupying the Emperor and preventing him from acting personally against Horus.
  • This oneshot detailing the fall of a planet to Chaos, in a series of speeches from key characters, and it ends with a speech from an Imperial priest in response to the Chaos worshipper. The priest's quiet and firm tone as he declares "For I have faith, and that is enough" is both a Tear Jerker, and a Crowning Moment of Awesome. He doesn't scream and roar like the Khornate, whisper like the Slaaneshi, or drip smugness like the Tzeentchian, nor does he shout and rant like the Nurgle worshippers and the follower of Malal, he just quietly declares his faith in the Emperor as he prepares to fight to his last breath.