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Heartwarming / Middle-earth: Shadow of War

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If ever a character needed to Earn Your Happy Ending...
  • Branded Orcs are more than just mindless slaves; they can actually form bonds of loyalty and friendship with Talion and provide some timely back-up. Exemplified in the gameplay trailer when Talion gets ambushed by an enemy, only for a mole sniper to save his life (with Talion complimenting him with a "nice shot") and during the climatic battle with Seregost's overlord, he's saved again by an Orc beastmaster, who's later rewarded as the newest Overlord for his help.
    • Although, this system will almost inevitably result in several Tear Jerkers, if you become fond of a certain orc and they die helping you.
    • Even worse, it's mentioned that branded orcs can perform a Face–Heel Turn and defect back into Sauron's army. Today's loyal lieutenant may be tomorrow's nemesis.
    • Later in the game during seiges, branded captains can fall in battle, bleeding out but not yet dead. Talion can heal them. The orcs have a variety of responses to this, usually thanking Talion or celebrating the fact that they can fight more, but one line in particular is pretty heartwarming:
      Fallen Captain: You saved me! You do care!
    • It does, however, lead to rescue missions for captured orcs. The best part? They'll often brag to their captor that they're fully confident Talion will save them and turn their captor into dog chow.
      • Sometimes orcs will mount rescue missions of their own accord to save kidnapped followers. Saving their own, even when not directly ordered is certainly nice for a race that is typically Always Chaotic Evil.
      • Even better, it is now possible for Orcs under your control to Return from being cut down as well.
      • Occasionally a captain will shout your name or a complimentary title such as 'Bright One' or 'Talion' and appear behind you with holding a mook at knifepoint. They actually are giving you a gift (either a jewel or intel) as a sign of loyalty.
      • On a rare occasion, a Captain who died under your command will return from the dead and not betray you, saying it's a good thing they really like you because they're remaining loyal.
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  • "I will not leave them note  to be slaughtered like my brothers at the Black Gate." It just goes to show that, despite his increasing need for vengeance and the darker steps he is taking to achieve it, there's still a bit of Talion that remains the noble Ranger he once was.
  • Talion's refusal to brand Isildur, which to modern Americans would be like enslaving Abraham Lincoln's soul. He's crossed many lines, but that line is a bridge too far for him.
  • Uruk Captains can have the trait Blood Brothers. This tag is not just a slot occupier: Branding an Uruk during a mission and then letting his Blood Brother die will cause him to break free of your control then and there - in addition, forcing two brothers to fight each other in the gladiator pits will cause both of them to defect and walk away - and if you encounter an Uruk whose blood brother you killed, his introduction cutscene will have him state that he's coming after you specifically to avenge him.
    Pûg Berserker Master: Killing you won't bring my brother back, but it might put a smile on his ghost.
    • Even better, if you Brand a vengeful Blood Brother, he is almost certain to betray you and be really pissed off that you forced him to work for his friend's murderer. Sorrow overcomes magic, no matter how powerful.
    • Blood Brother Defense is a trigger where the absent blood brother shows up as reinforcement and blindside Talion, by this point Talion is a feared unkillable threat thanks to the first game and Orcs are usually laid back about casualties but that is the one thing they won't back down from.
      Orc: That's my blood brother, he is off limits!
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    • It drifts into Heartwarming if the Blood Brother is killed and he sighs that at least he'll be joining his Brother in death.
    • Under normal circumstances there is no way for an orc you have personally resurrected to turn against you. No matter how badly you beat them or even if you kill them before bringing them back they can't betray you. At first this would seem to imply that they no longer possess any free will, however there is one circumstance where they will break from your control; if you start hurting their blood brother in front of them. Undead orcs also possess the unbreakable trait, meaning that once this happens you can't rebrand them. Somehow an Orcish zombie can still has enough of a soul to fight off the super powered necromancer animating him.
  • Baranor begs Idril not to come with him on a dangerous mission; she replies, "Then we'll die together."
  • The Interactive Trailer allows viewers to choose whether to rescue one of Talion's Captains, or instead seek vengeance against their Nemesis. From the current statistics on the official website, an overwhelming majority of viewers have chosen to save their captain rather than seek vengeance. Bodes well for Talion's soul, does it not?
    • Even better, the Trailer comes with a denouement and second choice to decide the specific fate of Mogg (the imperiled Captain.) The Savior epilogue sees Talion give Mogg a choice between promotion to Spy, Overlord, and Bodyguard after he saves Talion back from being blindsided by a Caragor while rescuing him. All three have heartfelt acceptance scenes, but it's the promotion to Bodyguard (which also happens to be the most popular choice by a wide margin) that most showcases how Orcs, even after being so badly twisted by Morgoth and Sauron, are still capable of honor and camaraderie.
      Mogg: Where you go, I go. Never will you walk alone.
  • During the Live Streams, after Forthog saved Talion, the viewers adopted a new battlecry while the devs fought an overlord: "For the Beard!"
    • How did the devs deal with the Forthog DLC controversy? By making it free, refunding it to those who already bought it, donated a large sum of money to Forgey's family and invited the fans to do the same, which they happily did.
  • In general, everything out of Forthog's mouth.
    Forthog: I see you fall many times, Ranger. Keep getting up.
  • Talion seeing the memories of the defeated Nazgûls and realizing they are all Tragic Villains that Sauron deceived with his gifts. When seeing Isildur's situation, he opts to give him a Mercy Kill and release him from his torment.
  • Idril tells Talion she heard stories of a Gravewalker from the Uruks, a half-man, half-wraith. The Uruks consider him a demon.
    Talion: (beat)... and what do you think?
    Idril: I think we'd be lucky to have him.
  • After the Arena mission, Talion finds Idril, who tells him their mission to rescue her father, the general in command of the city's defences, seemingly taken hostage by the Witch King's agents, while Talion kept their attention on the arena ended in failure. She explains that Baranor wants to wait until daybreak and return with more men, but Talion realises she wants to go back immediately, bluntly calling it a suicide mission. Idril replies that if they wait until morning, the Orcs will have already killed her father. Talion's response is extremely heartwarming:
    Talion: I'm not saying don't go. (He holds out her father Castamir's dagger and Idril smiles as she realises what he's saying) I'm saying don't go alone.
  • It's very minor, but Talion's remembering how to poison grog barrels (the ability is available from the beginning, as opposed to signature skills like Shadow Strike and even Brutalize) can be considered heartwarming when one remembers that he picked up the trick from his old ex-army buddy Hirgon during Shadow of Mordor.
  • The mission "Damaged" makes you rescue a few uruks captains you branded after Brûz backstabbed you and took the fort for himself. Rescuing your orcs is heartwarming already, but if you used the Nemesis Forge in Shadow of Mordor, one of the captains you save turns out to be your follower.
  • One of the artifacts Talion can find is an ancient lamp. Idril reminisces about how she felt warm and safe reading by them. Celebrimbor proudly says that he crafted the lamps for the dwarves, and is obviously pleased she enjoyed them herself.
    • Another is a beautiful necklace. Idril's narration states that when she was a young girl, she'd sneak into where it was kept, and taking advantage of a faulty lock, took it out and wore it, pretending to be a noble woman of Gondor. Her father caught her one day, but only gave her a calm lecture. Idril suspects that the reason why he was so calm and even-tempered was that he was secretly delighted to see his daughter happy.
    • Yet another is an instructional book on carpentry. Talion wistfully remembers that as a boy, he was fascinated by carpentry and for a time considered becoming a craftsman. Celebrimbor warmly replies that he would have liked to have seen that.
  • The Golden Ending, which is both awesome and heartwarming. Talion holds on to his humanity and uses his Ringwraith abilities to hold back Sauron and his forces for decades before finally succumbing to his ring’s pull on him, but his sacrifice was not to be in vain, as while he delayed the forces of evil, the rest of Middle Earth recuperated and regained their strength to face Sauron and pull off the win in the War Of The Ring. And after Talion is finally killed by a lava bomb from the exploding Mount Doom when Sauron is finally defeated, he gets what he was desperate for after all these years: a chance to be with his family. He sets aside his weapons, unstraps his armour, and walks through the fields of Valinor with a smile on his face; beside his discarded dagger, a flower blooms — the same type of flower he gave his wife in Shadow of Mordor; since the dagger was once his son's sword, it's symbolic of rejoining his family. He’s got his happy ending at last, and by Eru, he’s earned every last bit of it.
    Shelob: After decades of war, darkness gave way to light. A new fellowship...and an unlikely hero. Death came: death to Sauron. Death to his dominion...and death to Talion, who walked out of darkness and found freedom.
    • The way Talion discards his armor and weaponry. During both games, he's been a soldier, constantly fighting. Everything out of his mouth since his family's death have been about war. In the ending, he strips them off casually without even looking at them falling to the ground. He's not sick of war — for him, it no longer even exists.
    • Even Talion's fall is heartwarming in its own dark, twisted way. The Witch-King, who had previously welcomed Talion home to Minas Morgul as a brother, only for him to run the Nazgul off and steal the city from them, arrives and places a hand on his shoulder, assuring him that his struggle is over and that together, they will turn towards Gondor. Talion nods, and dons the wraith-armor of the Nine, walking away with the Witch-King.
    • It's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, but a Freeze-Frame Bonus in the Golden Ending shows Talion with his human features again as opposed to the jagged metal face mask of the Nazgûl, suggesting he was free of Sauron's darkness with the One Ring's destruction in the last moments of his life.
    • If you consider the game canon enough to the films, try to watch the ending of Return Of The King without being overwhelmed by the warm feeling in your heart. Not only is Middle-earth saved, Talion's sacrifices were finally repaid to him. Seeing the Nazgúl finally die manages to become a Heartwarming Moment.
  • Ratbag named his bodyguard after Talion, and is pretty happy to see him again. So despite being an Orc and Butt-Monkey, he still cared about the Ranger. He even refers to Talion as a friend.
  • When Ratbag runs off to rescue his friend, "Let's go find Ranger!", watch Talion. He actually smiles at his loyalty to his friend, showing he's beginning to sincerely like the little glob.
  • Ranger will deny being friends with Ratbag and calls him a weakling when he can't bother rescuing him by himself, yet he can't help but smile affectionately when the latter didn't understand his black speech and say he is glad seeing him too. He even returns Ratbag's hug.
    Ranger: (in Black Speech, smiling) I see you weren't tough enough to save me yourself.
    Ratbag: It's good to see you, too!
    Ranger: (in Black Speech, smiling and sighing) You're an idiot. Learn some Black Speech. You embarrass me.
  • A somewhat twisted example. Orcs who have the title of the Obsessed, their bit being Mad Love towards Talion, will be very, very happy if you successfully brand them. If they have the Humiliator trait, they'll tell Talion they simply can't kill their beloved before walking away. Awww.
    • If The Obsessed is protecting a Blood Brother, they'll be outraged that you're attacking their lover.
  • A lot of orcs aren't fighting for blood lust or thrills, but to stop you from hurting their fellow Orcs.
    • If you shame enough orcs, you'll eventually be ambushed by one called "the Bitter", who angrily states he will not let you shame any more of his brothers. This comes off equal parts heartwarming and awesome, especially if the orc speaking is one you've previously shamed or encountered.
    • The Wraith-Touched/Specter is an orc you killed with your wraith fire or purification, who's skin has turned white, veins have turned blue and eyes now glow. He's trying to kill you to stop you from spreading the curse to other orcs and disfiguring them to.
    • On occasion, you will get a follower who died to come back calling himself "The Nameless", "Forsaken", or "Abandoned", representing every follower who you let die. It isn't until you think about it. The orc is essentially becoming a masked vigilante taking out who he sees as a super-villain. In short, he's Bat-orc.
  • Unlike in Shadow of Mordor, friendly orcs aren't perverted weirdos but are legitimately nice orcs. They are typically commanders who genuinely care about their troops and are willing to talk things out with you as opposed to brawling. Even their greeting line isn't something like "Gravewalker" or "Pinkskin", but "Lend me your ear". After killing you they explicitly state they would have rather reconciled peacefully. It's implied that you are the aggressor in this situation, unwilling to have a dialogue and resolve things due to orcish prejudice.
  • If a bodyguard is summoned, but nothing happens for a while, they'll start talking to you about their pasts and secret opinions. Some of these are surprisingly sweet.
    • The Bard, an already fun orc to have has an interesting backstory. He was an ordinary orc captain, who would slay his allies mercilessly, until eventually he had to kill his blood brother, the previous bard. He killed him, but felt so remorseful he took up his weapon and title, fighting in his name.
    • While most orcs are xenophobic, looking down on other races, occasionally you get a follower who thinks that the orcs should learn what they can from them.
  • Whilst a lot of orcs tend to talk down to or threaten their followers into submission others are less cruel. Some olog captains will admit to being impressed with the speed of their work. Some orc captains go as far as to express a good deal of emotion, saying that while he may not show it he truly treasures his crew.
    "I know I don't say this often, but I've been real proud of you boys. You kill softskins good. Keep it up!"
  • For all their moments arguing Talion and Celebrimbor have a few moments where they can exchange genuine idle pleasantries with nary a sign of tension, such as when they find a book on carpentry.
    Talion: As a lad, I was always fascinated by woodwork — turning boards into furniture, or a home.
    Celebrimbor: Talion the craftsman? That I'd have liked to see.
    • Doubly heartwarming when you remember that Celebrimbor is one of Middle-Earth's famed craftsmen, meaning that him and Talion are talking about shared interests.

The Blade of Galadriel

  • Most of the followers in the The Blade of Galadriel DLC have some sort of redeeming quality (or at least a tattered silver lining) which allows Eltariel to recruit them in the first place.
    • First and foremost, Eltariel herself bluntly refuses to brand the Orcs she fights, not because she's unable to or because there's a cost involved, but because she's just that morally opposed towards stripping someone of their free will, even if that someone happens to be an Orc. Though she may be a Blood Knight by Elven standards, she still upholds her laurels in the most savage, dangerous place throughout middle-earth in spite of the massive liability involved.
      • In Tolkien lore, it's specifically noted that Elves and Orcs are the most bitter of enemies precisely because of their shared ancestry. The fact that Eltariel recruits Orcs not by enslaving them, but by simply helping them out and then finding common ground gives way to the idea that maybe, just maybe, peace between the two isn't impossible.
    • Although he's a massive egotist and somewhat flippant with the lives of his workers, the Architect is perhaps the only Olog in the setting who is more interested on creating something than tearing down the works of others. Galadriel and Eltariel may feel uneasy about his "grand vision", but he seems genuinely dedicated towards giving the Orcs a culture beyond the constant war and bloodshed.
      • If you side with The Digger over him, he doesn't even attack you, but simply voices his disappointment and leaves you in peace; a remarkable show of restraint from one of the most impulsively violent species in the setting.
    • The Bow of Morgoth may be fanatically loyal toward the Middle-Earth equivalent of Satan (who is thankfully Deader Than Dead), yet he doesn't hesitate to team up with Eltariel after fighting by her side for all of five minutes. Bear in mind that Morgoth himself despised the Elves to the point where he created Orcs from their likeness in a deliberate attempt to humiliate them. Yet while Ogg is one of the first Orcs to ever existnote , he doesn't allow the grudges of a bygone era to hinder his alliance with her. Eltariel even lampshades in awe just how tolerant Ogg is acting toward her.
    • The Thrall was once part of a hunting party sent to kill Shelob, but he was immediately enthralled at the sight of the giant spider, and promptly turned on his companions before offering himself up as a willing sacrifice. One would assume that he had been brainwashed or influenced in some way, but the deed was wholly selfless; in truth, Shelob wasn't at all worried by the amateur hunters, and was slightly miffed that he had deprived her of several live meals. All the same, Shelob was so touched by his devotion that she not only spared his life, but allowed him to serve her as he desired, and even granted him command of her own children. Even if it's implied that the Thrall will one day outlive his usefulness, he's already made it clear that he's not only aware of, but also perfectly fine with being her eventual supper.
    • Flint and Tinder may be rambunctious pyromaniacs, but their lore entry states that they are not motivated by the damage or mayhem they may cause. Rather, their only interested in the sight, the sound, and the spectacle of the explosions themselves. Although their hobby may not be healthy by a long shot, it shows that even Orcs are capable of being motivated and inspired by something other than violence, power, or sadism.
    • The Enchanted, who adores anything related to elven culture becomes infatuated with Eltariel the second he sees her. He gives up all previous allegiances to serve the elf assassin as her bodyguard. And he's not like other orcs. When around Eltariel, he's polite, civilized, and dedicated entirely to make her happy. Just being near his mistress is enough to make him happy. (Sharp eyes will notice he wears an iron tiara in the style of Galadriel.) The medieval fife and lute music just sells it.

The Desolation of Mordor

  • Baranor meets up with the leader of a mercenary group in an attempt to get help for capturing Lithlad's fortress. Their leader turns out to be his brother, whom Baranor hasn't seen in years.
  • After a fierce battle in defense of the oasis base of the Vanishing Sons, Serka lets out an enthusiastic cry of victory. Baranor, tired and concerned for their future with the oasis raided and many of their men dead, questions Serka's enthusiasm. In response Serka gives this surprisingly sincere speech.
    Serka You're right, there is no end to it. This isn't the first time I've lost everything. They don't call me the Unkillable because I don't lose. It's because I never stop fighting. If I did, that would be the end of me.
    • Following this, the two bond over how utterly insane their lives have become, and walk off together to conquer Shindram.
  • None of the good guys die, with the possible exception of hired mercs. After some very dark stuff we've seen in this game, the DLC's outright good ending is a breath of fresh air.
  • Idril's bio confirms that her relationship with Baranor is romantic in nature. She may have lost her dad, but she still has him. One of Baranor's random lines while attacking the fort is how it would make a magnificent home for him and Idril.

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