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Heartwarming / Warhammer 40,000

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Yes, it's true. Even in a game that's so dark and edgy it makes Berserk look like a Disney movie, there are still heartwarming moments.

Dan Abnett, in his introduction to the Imperial Guard Omnibus (Vol 1), fittingly sums it up best with this quote:

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


  • Space Marines are 9 foot tall walking tanks who can spit acid, breath in almost any toxin known and punch holes through a man's chest. They are taken when they are early teens (or earlier!) from, usually, the worst civilizations in the galaxy, places where most men die before they hit puberty. They are brainwashed into remorseless killing machines, monsters taught that the lives of a million ordinary men aren't worth theirs, that they must survive and kill any and all aliens, mutants and heretics (even though by the standards the Imperium holds they basically are all 3 of these)... and yet 99% of them will still stand up, flip off any and all Imperial organisations that threaten the Imperial Guard.
  • The Craftworld Eldar can be pretty nightmarish and are known to Shoot the Dog for reasons that make sense only to their seers, but...they have hope. Not just hope as some abstract concept, but they do have a plan to put their hope in. Their entire pantheon may be dead, but they are doing everything they can to at least bring one of their gods back. It may not be more than grasping at straws, but if they succeed, they will not only have basically created a new afterlife for themselves, but also created a god that could potentially challenge the Chaos Gods.
    • As of the Gathering Storm, it worked!
  • Even after all the terror and the horror the universe contains the "good guy" factions keep fighting. It shows that no matter how bad things can get people still have the hope to not only carry on living but fighting as well. Also counts as a Moment of Awesome.


  • One of the side quotes in the 8th edition Space Wolf codex is by a character called Brand Saberwulf talking about how voyages between worlds are a time for camaraderie and meditation. Why is this heart-warming? Because the character was named after a 12 year old Space Wolf fan who died of cancer and thanks to a community campaign he was added as an official part of 40K lore. Thanks to Games Workshop Brand he will forever be part of the hobby he loved.
  • The opening of most books in 40k begins with a description of the Emperor in his current state, while this is certainly top nightmare fuel it also puts in evidence this: The Emperor has endured ten physical millenia (and the atemporality of the warp) in his nightmarish state to protect Mankind, yes, the Emperor was callous, cruel, distant and manipulative, but he knew what he was getting into when he ordered to be installed in the Golden Throne and didn't back off, for the sake of the entire species, to buy mankind more time,and perhaps a distant hope of a better future, he has been enduring Hell, with no hope of his own, no backup plans, no deities to pray to, no nothing, just a love for His people so great and deep it has pushed back the Apocalypse tens of centuries and hold a million worlds together.
  • Kayvaan Shrike, a Raven Guard captain is a great example. Having survived 2 years behind Ork lines and winning the battle back gained control of his own company. And then, a WAAAAGGH!! is waged by the Ork Skullrak, and Shrike goes to the system being attacked. But does he attack the Ork mob head-on? Does he help enforce the world under siege? No, he goes to the worlds left behind by the imperial guard and saves the remaining humans there. He's considered a savior and hero, a legend among the citizens. And let me remind you, he's a Space Marine, a heartless killing machine.
    • This deserves clarification, the Nightbringer, the GRIM FUCKING REAPER couldn't put the fear into the Orks. Kayvaan could, and thats why the Imperium sees him as a saviour.
      • The Orks had not yet been created when the Nightbringer went around and ensured that younger races had a fear of death.
  • The story of Tuska the Daemon-Killa is pure awesome with a decidedly Orky garnish of heartwarming. Tuska was a Warboss who one day ended up fighting against a Warp-Beast, ended up defeating it in single combat, and decided he really liked killing Daemons. After some thinking he then came to the logical (again, for an Ork) conclusion that he should launch a WAAAGH! into the Eye of Terror and ended up taking over several Daemon Worlds in what is all but outright stated to have been one Curb-Stomp Battle after another, until he landed on a planet ruled by a Daemon Prince called the Blood Prince who proved more than a match for the Orks. Tuska was mortally wounded, but he ended up getting the last laugh by killing the Daemon Prince via Groin Attack with a Power Klaw before he croaked. Tuska and his boyz' resolve and bloodlust not only pleased Khorne greatly, but impressed him to the point where he brought Tuska and his WAAAGH! back from the dead and transported the Orks to his personal realm, to fight his Bloodletter generals in an eternal conflict. Orks love fighting more than anything else, and now Tuska's getting to fight his favorite enemy for the rest of eternity, at the foot of the Brass Citadel with the personal approval of Khorne. Tuska and his boyz have essentially won their place in Ork Valhalla.
    Great Boss Tuska: Told yer I knew where da best fightin' woz.
  • Pretty much everything the Lamenters Chapter does is one, but this story makes the Salamanders look self-centred in comparison. During the Corinth Crusade, the Lamenters volunteer to liberate Slaughterhouse III, a mining world enslaved by the Orks, both to deprive the Orks of the vast resources the world would give them as well as to save the 3 million plus human slaves still left alive. Thanks to a daring surprise attack, they overwhelm the orks across the entire planet in hours and plant the seismic charges that would obliterate the planet's resources and kill everything left alive on its surface. But where most other chapters would detonate the charges, killing the world's entire human population, the Lamenters work tirelessly to evacuate everyone, even as they are attacked by wave after wave of orks. Eventually, after the Lamenters suffer more than sixty percent casualties, the people of Slaughterhouse III thank the Lamenters for all they have done and ask for a merciful death, as they don't want the Lamenters to die to the man for them. Reluctantly, the Lamenters reluctantly activate the seismic charges, destroying the planet, and escape with the few prisoners they had managed to free. The chapter's battle-cry says it all: "For those we cherish, we die in Glory."
  • Another moment can be found at the end of the First War of Armageddon. After the Administratum decided that killing off an entire world would be preferable to risking that any of the survivors might fall to Chaos - which was unlikely, considering that they'd just won a major war against Chaos - Logan Grimnar, the Chapter Master of the Space Wolves, stood up and called them out on their shit. To put this in perspective, anyone else even questioning the Imperium's methods is almost always killed messily. Logan stood up for what was right, told them that they were wrong and that he'd never forgive them. The fact that he managed to get away with it is a CMOA itself, but the fact that someone in the galaxy isn't a horrible bloodthirsty monster is downright heartwarming, considering the setting.
    • Even better- the Space Wolves are a bunch of bloodthirsty Super Soldiers from a Death World, who'll destroy whole cities if they have to, and Logan would be a paragon of everything they stand for- and he's standing up for innocent human lives. The Space Marines were made to unite and defend humanity- the Space Wolves may be among the few who remember that.
      • This may partially be because of Bjorn the Fell-Handed, who is probably the oldest Space Marine Dreadnaught still in service, and indeed, the oldest known warrior still in service to the Empire. He is so old, he even fought alongside Leman Russ and the Emperor themselves during the Horus heresy, and also became the Space Wolves' first chapter master after Leman Russ dissapeared. It is highly likely that he has passed on knowledge from back then.
  • Arguably, Lord Castellan Usarker E. Creed is one. He values a soldier's life far more than an ordinary commander, even doing so much as suspending summary executions within his regiment. The Codex even says he is intensely disliked by the Commissars.
  • A... Naturally twisted and arguable one comes from the depths of Chaos itself, the faction literally made of Chaotic Evil, and chief enemy of all life in the cosmos. Those who know of Nurgle, the god of disease and decay, know that despite the intense pain he causes, he and his followers are known to be on a rather disturbing level of Affably Evil. Nurgle is outright stated to be a very chummy and loving fellow, sort of like a jolly old uncle or grandfather, with his followers even calling him "Grandfather Nurgle". The only reason he's even considered evil - rightly so, mind you - is because he thinks illness and disease are literally what everyone wants, and that your suffering at said diseases are thank yous. If he knew that wasn't the case, he'd probably be quite the nice guy.
    • One instance stands out above all others: During the Fall of the Eldar, as gods were being snapped up left and right by Slaanesh, Nurgle happened to take notice of Isha, the goddess of life. With speed uncharacteristic of the God of Decay, he launched a war to save her in time. No other Chaos god has shown the capacity to actually rescue someone. Of course, the twisted part of having rescued and sequestered her in his gardens is that his way of showing affection is decidedly... unpleasant. It goes back into fuzz, however, in that he lets her develop and give out cures for his diseases. That's right, he lets her thwart him. With no real motive beyond trying to be nice. Like we said, twisted.
    • Another example comes from the 3rd edition "Codex: Daemonhunters" book, and like the Tuska one, is a decidedly Orky take on this. The codex states that on some occasions, Orks will come across ancient artifacts or shrines dedicated to Nurgle and begin worshiping at them, mistakenly believing the giant, green-skinned depictions of Nurgle to be either Gork or Mork. Instead of showing scorn for worshiping rival gods or trying to correct the error, Nurgle instead gives his "gifts" out anyway, not out of malice but genuine appreciation of their worship, and has even been known to send his daemonic forces out to protect his inadvertent worshipers from harm.
  • Roboute Guilliman has one during the Gathering Storm series, after debriefing for days about the state of the Imperium he finally gets a moment of privacy, he then expresses his utter anger and sorrow for what the realm of His father has become despite all his efforts and sacrifices, Guilliman wishes it all has collapsed during the Horus Heresy, but then he recants his words, because he has seen that, despite the utter ruin befalling mankind, the harsh penuries and ever-growing threats from within and without, mankind have kept fighting valiantly to preserve the Imperium, he makes his will to give them hope and turn the tide of the losing war.
    • The sight that specifically gives Roboute his hope back, is the sight of his people, the people of Ultramar, both Astartes and mortal humans, coming together, working as one to repair and rebuild the Fortress of Hera and the surrounding cityscape after the Black Legion's assault on Macragge. This sight, of mankind's perseverance and unity, galvanizes the Primarch and reminds him that humanity's potential to be better, to not only survive but thrive in this galaxy, still exists.
  • In the short story The Ghost Halls by L.J. Goulding is about the Grey Knights saving the soul stones of a dead Craftworld from a Daemon Prince and waiting until Eldar show up to collect their dead. At first the Eldar are quick to be their usual arrogant selves, but once they learn what happened, they're not only shocked by, but thankful that the Grey Knights would save their fallen from Slaanesh. The Farseer apologizes for their rudeness and vows the Eldar will always remember the Grey Knights who died saving their fallen kin.
  • The climax of the Arks of Omen sees Lion El'Jonson return to the galaxy, and with him are his bodyguard of the Fallen. Upon awakening the Lion learns from one of the Fallen that only the high command of Caliban's garrison actually turned against him, the rest were just caught in the middle when the Dark Angels attacked. Realising that he slaughtered hundreds of his sons who had no idea what was happening, the Lion offers his apology and a second chance to those Fallen that have not fallen to Chaos. He dubs them The Risen and brief segments show that he has rescued all the worthy Fallen that had already been captured by the Dark Angels.
  • This speech, which encapsulates why the Imperium of Man is so beloved.
  • In a strange orkish example, Ghazghkull has one. In Ghazghkull Thraka: Prophet of the Waaagh! he's been repeatedly ignoring Makari's opinion that Armageddon is a waste of time and he should be focusing on the real mission even as Makari repeatedly commits suicide to make a point. Even when he finally decides to leave and get back to uniting orks he still insists he's never apologizing to a grot. Then he's nearly killed by a tank and only saved by Makari:
    Ghazghkull: ‘You were right. The gods want me to unite the orks. There. Now, let’s go and turn the stars green.’