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Tear Jerker / A Song of Ice and Fire

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     The Winds of Winter 
  • The opening chapter starts with Theon in chains yet again, possibly about to be executed by Stannis in spite of the fact that he saved Fake!Arya (Jeyne Poole posing as Arya), as it's necessary for Stannis to pacify the North. Theon's sister, Asha — the sister who loves Theon and one of Theon's only relatives who genuinely loves him back — desperately seems to try and ransom him but Stannis seemingly remains unmoved. Now, without other options, the most Asha can hope for Theon is supposedly a quick, merciful death, which is why she pleads that he be executed near a heart tree. She's already deeply saddened after having seen what Ramsay has done to her brother. Furthermore, shortly after she and Theon are reunited, she may be separated from him again — perhaps permanently.
  • In the Arianne preview chapter, Arianne wishes for her brother to come home and make peace with him. Not very likely now, considering he's been dragon-burned to crisp.
    • Even sadder, Doran wonders where are the dragons, meaning actually "where is my son": and we know that Quentyn has been barbequed by said dragons.
    • Arianne is also wracked with guilt over the death of Ser Arys Oakheart, who she seduced, in her ill-fated plot to crown Myrcella, finding herself missing him more than she could have imagined. She believes her actions drove him to make his suicidal charge against Areo Hotah out of shame.
    I made use of him in my bed and in my plot, took his love and took his honor, gave him nothing but my body. In the end he could not live with what we'd done.
  • Sansa's preview chapter makes it clear that little Robert Arryn, the sickly young lord of the Vale, is perfectly aware that everyone around him is just waiting for him to die.
  • The Damphair preview chapter read out at Balticon is a nightmarish blend of twisted drug-induced prophetic dreams and even more twisted reality. But among all the moments of horror and despair, the interactions of Aeron and Falia Flowers (last seen as Euron's concubine) are real tearjerkers. Aeron, whom we have always seen as yet another religious fanatic, obsessed with spreading the Drowned God's dominion over the mainland. But in this chapter, he reveals another side of his character, when he desperately tries to convince Falia to flee before Euron hurts her. But Falia refuses, believing Euron's promises of making her his salt wife. She even appears positively thrilled about Dany becoming his rock wife — believing the two of them would be like sisters. Of course, Euron being Euron, he has Falia's tongue removed and has her tied to the prow of his flagship along with Aeron on the eve of his battle against the Redwynes. Even then, Aeron (even though he's in no great shape himself) comforts Falia and tells her to be brave, promising her that they're both going to a place of honor in the Drowned God's Halls. Basically, for the first time in his life, Aeron is not using religion to harangue or to incite violence, but to comfort a fellow human being in pain.
    • Falia's excitement over believing that Dany would become like her sister becomes very sad when one realizes that she did have sisters growing up, but because they were trueborn and she was a bastard, she was made a servant to her father's family, and she claims that her sisters forced her to serve them at meals. Whether she was actually telling the truth is unknown, but there was no love between her and the Hewett family—she hated them so much that when Euron's ironmen conquered Oakenshield, she took the first chance she got to humiliate them in turn. She wants herself and Dany to become as close as sisters, because she wants the love that her trueborn family never bothered to give her.

     Throughout the series 
  • All the hell Arya has to go through after her father is executed and is forced to go on the run for her life. That this all ultimately takes a toll on her mind makes it even worse.
    • One particularly sad scene exemplifying this is during one of her conversations with the Kindly Man, wherein he tells her that she's still too much of an individual to be a Faceless Man and he offers her other paths in life. Arya thinks to herself that she has a hole where her heart used to be, and she turns down his other offers because she feels like she's lost most everything and it's too late.
    • Especially sad since Arya so obviously enjoys being a Street Urchin in Bravoos and would apparently be quite happy to leave her past behind if only she'd allow herself to. Then she goes and murders a Night's Watch deserter and is punished for it by having her sight taken away, which will only be returned once she forsakes her individuality even further.
    • In the preview chapter from The Winds of Winter, Arya is working as an actress as part of her apprenticeship under the Faceless Men. As an actress, she is given mostly small, unsavory roles in unsavory plays and is sexually harassed offstage — while earning so little, she can't afford decent shoes, new stockings or even nightwear. In addition, the damage to her personality is increasing, as Arya has trouble distinguishing between herself, her wolf Nymeria (she dreams about her), her fake Mercy persona she was given for this assignment, and the roles "Mercy" plays.
      Mercy, I'm Mercy, and tonight I'll be raped and murdered.
    • And then things go From Bad to Worse after Arya recognizes Raff the Sweetling among viewers and kills him, which will undoubtedly provoke a harsh response from the Faceless Men.
    • Even worse, Arya lures Raff back to her room with the promise of sex. She is only eleven or twelve years old at this point and is already resorting to this measure, lying to him that she's gotten her period. Even worse? He agrees and is excited by the prospect. He's a pedophile.
    • Earlier in the series, when she's wandering the Riverlands, Arya's increasing worry that her family won't want her anymore, not dirty and dressed as a boy, not with blood on her hands, is heart-wrenching. The only one she has total faith in is her half-brother, Jon Snow, who, on the Wall, is even less accessible than her other family. And to read this paired with Catelyn's perspective of a mother desperate to get her girls back, it's clear Arya doesn't have to worry but she doesn't know that...
  • The death of Renly Baratheon made an impact. Not at first — it is handled very quickly and matter of factly— but then you realize that his knights and other followers loved him so very much.
    • Special mention goes to Loras, who can't even be entirely open, as their relationship was secret.
      Sansa: That was when Lord Renly died, wasn't it? How terrible for your poor sister.
      Loras: For Margaery? [His voice was tight] To be sure.
    • In a Storm of Swords, Loras joins the Kingsguard because he doesn't see the point in falling in love again since he's already lost his soulmate.
    • Also to Brienne, who is dealing with survivor's guilt, her failure to save Renly as one of his Kingsguard while being present at his death, the fact that he was her first love (albeit unrequited), and how people mistakenly believe she killed him.
  • Though Sansa didn't have a particularly close relationship with her half-brother Jon Snow while their family was together at Winterfell, when she thinks of him, it is with fondness (such as in A Game Of Thrones and A Clash of Kings). When she in the Eyrie, Sansa realizes how Jon is all the family she has left in the world and how much she misses him (A Feast for Crows), thinking how "so sweet" it would be to see Jon again.
    • When Jon thinks of Sansa, it is mostly with fondness and he misses her too along with his other siblings and worries about his sisters and father when he is devastated to learn about of his father's arrest in A Game of Thrones. Jon reflects on how he loves all his siblings when he believes his whole family has been lost in A Storm of Swords as he keeps receiving news of his family's deaths throughout the books. Later, he reminds Stannis of Sansa's claim to Winterfell when, after Jon's refusal of Winterfell in A Storm of Swords, Stannis pushes Jon to accept his offer again.
  • Littlefinger's backstory, revealing that everyone's favorite Magnificent Bastard was once a cute and innocent little boy who got pulled through the meat grinder for daring to fall in love with a girl above his social station.
  • Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Jon's POV reactions to the news of each of their family members dying...
  • Maester Aemon's arc. A wise, humble, and empathic man, he studied to become a maester and served at Dragonstone until his older brother, Prince Daeron, dies of sickness and afterward, Aemon goes to the Citadel. Aemon is Offered the Crown but he cedes in favour of his younger brother, Aegon. To avoid being used against his brother, Aemon joins the Night's Watch but when destruction comes to his family, Aemon finds himself bound by its rules not to get involved in the wars of the realm and though he spent his life serving and giving counsel, Aemon grows blind and is now forgotten by most of the Seven Kingdoms with his family having fallen into ruin.
    • In A Game Of Thrones, when we learn of the old Maester Aemon's Targaryen lineage and family tragedy as he counsels Jon Snow about going through the exact same situation he did himself. Jon is devastated to learn of his father's arrest, worries about his father and sisters in King's Landing, and wants to help his brother Robb. We learn most of Aemon's family is dead or believed dead, which eventually becomes Jon's own tragic family situation as his family is likewise thought to be dead or mostly dead. Like Aemon, Jon can do exactly zilch about it all — and they're both devastated by this — "Seven Hells."
    • It's even worse if you keep faith to the possibility that Jon, the boy who he's been telling this story, is actually his great-grandnephew and neither of them knows it. Aemon is denied the consolation of having a member of his family safe and sound (Jon) when he believes them to be all slaughtered. He only learns his grand-niece Daenerys is alive shortly before his death.
    • Aemon's advice to Jon: "Kill the boy and let the man be born" being the same advice he once gave his own beloved brother all those years ago before he sailed to the Wall. Now, as he's about to go on another sea voyage, Maester Aemon is giving this same advice to another he cares for and who might also unknowingly be his own great-great nephew, one of the last of his family. What Jon will face as lord commander in an unprecedented time — and facing it alone without Sam and Maester Aemon (who he must send to Oldtown the next morning and misses deeply after their departure), without his friends (whose companionship he feels he must give up in order to do his duties as Lord Commander), without his family (who are either dead, missing, or out of reach) — gives Maester Aemon's last words to Jon a heartbreaking effect:
      Jon was tired. I need sleep. He had been up half the night poring over maps, writing letters, and making plans with Maester Aemon. Even after stumbling into his narrow bed, rest had not come easily. He knew what he would face today, and found himself tossing restlessly as he brooded on Maester Aemon's final words. "Allow me to give my lord one last piece of counsel," the old man had said, "the same counsel that I once gave my brother when we parted for the last time. He was three-and-thirty when the Great Council chose him to mount the Iron Throne. A man grown with sons of his own, yet in some ways still a boy. Egg had an innocence to him, a sweetness we all loved. Kill the boy within you, I told him the day I took ship for the Wall. It takes a man to rule. An Aegon, not an Egg. Kill the boy and let the man be born." The old man felt Jon's face. "You are half the age that Egg was, and your own burden is a crueler one, I fear. You will have little joy of your command, but I think you have the strength in you to do the things that must be done. Kill the boy, Jon Snow. Winter is almost upon us. Kill the boy and let the man be born."
  • All of Reek's chapters. What he's been through certainly makes him a Tear Jerker, but particularly heart-wrenching is when he breaks down in the godswood, wishing only that he could die as Theon.
    • The scene where he says that he wanted to be a Stark is a particularly wrenching one as well. Maybe sadder because only in Robb's memories would Theon have been regarded as family... but we never see Robb's thoughts as he's not a POV character like Sansa, Bran, Arya, and Jon — none of whom had a warm relationship with Theon like Robb.
    • "Sister. See. This time I knew you." This also doubles as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
    • "Theon. Yes. I'm Theon. You have to know your name!"
    • The fact that we learn that there's still love in the world for him in the form of Jeyne Poole after all that... and that there's the possibility that he has lost his manhood. Seven Hells indeed.
  • Any time you see Sandor Clegane cry. Especially the first time. And especially the last time. No, wait, especially every time.
  • Tyrion's final chapter in A Storm of Swords, when the two brothers, who had been among the closest of characters in the books, have their falling out when Jaime tells him the truth about Tysha. It's hard to know who to feel sorrier for, but the line "Jaime turned without a word, and walked away," is heart-wrenching. For that matter, so is the entire story about Tysha.
    • Made worse by the fact that he is putting Jaime in the same level as his hated sister Cersei (as of A Dance With Dragons).
    • Not to mention Tyrion's nightmare in A Dance With Dragons where he hallucinates a two-faced version of himself killing Jaime with an axe. While the first face is laughing madly, the second face is crying. It becomes Harsher in Hindsight when you have the fact that a part of him still loves his brother after all.
    • Likewise, Jaime has taken to calling Tyrion by his derisive title of The Imp.
    • Made even worse by the brothers' feelings for each other in their respective POV chapters: Tyrion recounts how Jaime was the only one of his family who treated him kindly, thinks that Jamie is the only the one who would have saved him from Mandon Moore, and, hell, even Oberyn recounts how Jaime had to protect Tyrion from Cersei. And when Jaime feels helpless about trying to convince Steelshanks about going back to save Brienne, he tries to think of what his little brother would do: "Tyrion would find a way." Tragic brothers indeed.
  • Kind of a tearjerker in retrospect, but Jon's continual rejection of Stannis Baratheon's offer to make him the Lord of Winterfell because of loyalty to his father's god, to the Watch, and because he doesn't want to disinherit his sister Sansa is tough to take in light of Robb's plan to legitimize him as a Stark and make him the heir to the North — which Jon knows nothing about. First you have Jon, still thinking that he's not fully a Stark and never knowing that his brother and best friend was going to recognize him as such. Then you have the fact that Robb was completely right — Jon would never, in fact, do anything to hurt a trueborn Stark heir.
  • The overall picture of Jaime that develops as the books progress. The little boy who wanted to become the best knight, who later wonders how he became the Smiling Knight instead of his childhood hero; who tells Brienne and Tommen to "go away inside" when faced with horrors; who loses the sword hand he felt defined him, and discovers that Cersei, the woman he loves more than anyone, does not love him as much as he loves her: loving him only as an extension of herself. His dream also hints that he knows that his mother would not like what has become of her children.
  • When Hoster Tully is dying, he feverishly begs to see his youngest daughter Lysa, clearly wanting her forgiveness for something. Letters are repeatedly sent to the Eyrie, but Lysa never shows up — understandable, considering there's a civil war currently going on, but worse than that, she never even replies.
    • And then, later on, we learn why she refused to visit and comfort her father on his deathbed; when they were teenagers, she slept with/raped Littlefinger and conceived his child. Lord Tully, outraged, sent Petyr away and tricked (or possibly forced) Lysa into drinking a concoction to abort the baby, then arranged for her to marry Jon Arryn since she was proved to be fertile but is also considered "soiled goods". Not only was the marriage loveless, but the abortion perhaps damaged Lysa's reproductive organs — or maybe Jon Arryn's seed was weak (oh the irony) — meaning she constantly miscarried and has only had one sickly son. Hardly the 'sweet babes' Lord Tully swore she'd have. No wonder Lysa despised him, and no wonder he pleaded for the forgiveness she denied him in his final days.
  • Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey's relationship... even after House Frey basically slaughters the Northmen's hosts and they kill everyone, save for a handful of survivors, who basically become glorified hostages. Despite all this, Edmure and Roslin to love one another still.
    • Poor Roslin really has a rough time. It's implied that she would have been perfectly happy with being married off to Edmure, yet she still sobbed throughout the wedding feast. She knew what was about to happen to her new husband's family and was forced to go along with it. Then the poor girl must go through with her wedding night while knowing about the massacre that was taking place downstairs. Ouch.
    • It gets worse for Roslin. Roslin gets pregnant with her and Edmure's child on their wedding night, meaning that if she gives birth to a son, the Freys will no longer need to keep Edmure alive to maintain their hold on the Riverlands. It's mentioned that Roslin is frantically praying for a daughter so that her family won't have a excuse to murder her husband.
    • It's pointed out to Edmure that while he was consummating his marriage, his older sister was having her throat slit.
  • A minor one, but in A Feast For Crows, when Jaime offers to let the Blackfish take the Black in exchange for surrendering, the Blackfish refuses. Not only because it's The Kingslayer offering it, but because he doesn't trust the new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch Jon Snow because his niece Catelyn didn't. It's sad when you consider that Jon is one of the most heroic, moral and compassionate characters in the series and does not at all deserve the mistrust he receives from the Blackfish and Catelyn due to his being an illegitimate child as Jon loves his family and is loyal to them. This is especially made apparent when Jon refuses Stannis' offer of lordship of Winterfell again in A Dance With Dragons, something he thought was always beyond his reach, for the sake of his sister Sansa's claim on it.
  • Viserys Targaryen lost everything and everyone he loved when he was only eight. He and his sister were on the run for years, fearing for their lives, and were forced to sell everything they had to survive. He's crushed that everyone he thought were their allies either betrayed them or were willing to take advantage of them. He took to drinking and grew to resent his sister because he couldn't have her either. When he rants about his crown, think for a moment that he's not talking about the crown of Westeros, but his mother's crown which was all he had left to sell.
    • Even worse are the facts that considering the Targaryen custom, Daenerys was meant to be his bride, and that he (and not Daenerys) was the subject of endless japes, mockery and being treated as a mere curiosity for most of his life.
    • Daenerys later reminisces that there was once kindness in her brother, remembering that before stress and hardship turned Viserys cruel and bitter, he did love her, telling her bedtime stories and letting her climb into his bed when she was scared. She also finds out in the worst possible fashion that Viserys was very right to be paranoid concerning Robert Baratheon's assassins, that he must have indeed defended her from such aggressors and thanks to him, she is still in one piece and in mint condition for Khal Drogo.
    • He held out against the... uh... family quirks he inherited under some truly stupendous stresses starting from the age of eight. Yes, he turned into a Smug Snake of epic proportions, but he wasn't in his father's league by a long shot, and had perhaps far more stress than The Mad King ever experienced in his whole life (including Duskendale). And Viserys never managed to live until thirty. He must have had something worthwhile to him, before he was horribly twisted with bitterness and resentment. Of course, had he ever managed to get any power, he might well have managed to beat his dad but, well... Joffrey turned into a far worse version of Royal Brat with far fewer excuses.
  • Daenerys's feelings of loneliness throughout the series. No matter how much Dany achieves, survives, the goals she meets, or how much she tries to help others in hard circumstances, she yearns for that house with the red door — the closest thing to a home she and Viserys had known growing up. Dany is haunted by Mirri Maz Duur's promise that she will never bear a living child, believes her House will die with her, and remembers her son being murdered in her womb while her husband died. Remembering how happy she'd been with Khal Drogo, carrying their unborn sun, and living among their khalasar, Dany reflects:
    Not since those half-remembered days in Braavos when she lived in the house with the red door had she been as happy. But in the Red Waste, all her joy had turned to ashes.
  • Late in A Game of Thrones, Catelyn falls into a depression because of her husband and youngest sons' deaths, her eldest son going to war, and her daughters being hostages, which lasts all the way until her death.
    I am a creature of grief and dust and bitter longings. There is an empty place within me where my heart was once.
  • The descriptions throughout the books of Ramsay Bolton's "pastimes" are among the most cringe-worthy passages in the books: the slow torture of Lady Donella Hornwood, the maiming and possible castration of Theon Greyjoy and the abuse made to Jeyne Poole are just a few of his misdeeds.
  • Sansa's disillusionment over the course of the books. She comes to honestly believe that everyone is untrustworthy, that nobody cares about her as a person, that they only want to use her as a pawn, and that she has to give up her morals just to survive — a far cry from the cheerful, innocent Wide-Eyed Idealist that she used to be.
  • The vicious rape of the Riverlands. Westeros is altogether a much harsher place than the world we know (mostly), but the sheer amount of destruction and carnage the Lannisters (and to a much lesser extent, the Starks) inflict upon the Riverlands is horrifying even in context of Westerosi history.
  • Jon Snow's situation in general. Nearly always the outsider in just about every situation and he must deal with Conflicting Loyalty between his loved ones and duty. First, though Jon is loved by his family, whom Jon loves dearly, and was raised by his beloved father alongside his trueborn siblings in Winterfell, he's lived with the societal stigma of illegitimacy his whole life, never had a mother to love him, and never knew who his actual mother was. Then, when he joins the Night's Watch to earn his own honour, he's an outsider there too due to him being a highborn bastard son of a lord with a noble upbringing. He is ordered to become a Fake Defector among the wildlings, making him an outsider again, where he ends up falling in love with his First Love who he can't be with because he must leave to fulfill his duty to the Night's Watch. However, when Jon returns to the Night's Watch, his time with the wildlings results in some of his Watch brothers doubting his loyalty to the Watch because Jon dares to show compassion to the wildlings — and the girl he loves dies in his arms. All the while, Jon must deal with the news that his family members have perished, which he is told at various points in the series. Later, Jon is forced to take command at a very young age during an unprecedented time of war, facing down the greatest threat encroaching on Westeros with limited resources, and is trying to save everyone. Even when Jon does his very best, things still turn out horribly for him. At one point, he's actually relieved his father isn't alive to witness how badly things were going for him.
    Tyrion Lannister had claimed that most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it, but Jon was done with denials. He was who he was; Jon Snow, bastard and oathbreaker, motherless, friendless, and damned. For the rest of his life — however long that might be — he would be condemned to be an outsider, the silent man standing in the shadows who dares not speak his true name.
  • Tyrion's witty comebacks, whoring and love of wine are hilarious on the first read — until you learn that they're all coping methods for a lifetime of being abused by his father and sister, being shunned, getting called a monster, getting blamed for his mother's death, never feeling loved or accepted, and erroneously thinking the only girl to show him love was faking it for money. Over time, his mask begins to fall off and his score of emotional issues take the stage. By the fifth book, he hits rock bottom — hard — in a very harsh, unglamorous depiction of depression, misanthropy, and self-hatred.
  • Rickon Stark's situation. He was born into a warm, loving family that gets torn apart by war. All his family members end up having to leave him and he can't understand why, causing him serious emotional issues that often manifest in unusually violent behavior (both in him and his direwolf). The poor kid gets dreams of his father's ghost promising to come home. Then his father's ward Theon takes over Winterfell, forcing him to flee to an island of cannibals. Because Theon claimed he killed both him and Bran at Winterfell, his sisters Arya and Sansa, brothers Robb and Jon, and his mother Catelyn are devastated to think he and Bran are dead. Yet, even if Davos Seaworth and Wyman Manderly's plan to rescue him and make him ruler of the North succeeds, it's unknown if he'll ever recover psychologically. He's barely five years old.
  • The death of Jon Arryn becomes a major tearjerker when you realize that his death is really the spark that started the War in the first place. Had he survived, Robert would never have had to come to Winterfell and Ned wouldn't have had to leave to be the Hand, which would have prevented most of the bull that everyone has been going through.
  • The fact that Daenerys practically embodies the phrase "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." She's one of the few characters in the series who is a sincerely compassionate and well-meaning person, who genuinely tries to make the world a better place. Unfortunately, either due to mistakes on her part or just bad luck, her attempts to help people often end up inadvertantly backfiring and even make things worse in some cases. Dany is very much aware of this and tries desperately to fix things, but is clearly out of her depth. Other times, it' obvious to the reader that she's making a terrible mistake, but Dany herself doesn't know better or is convinced she's doing the right thing. She even ends up sacrificing her personal happiness and compromising on her morals in an attempt to keep the peace in Slaver's Bay. She's only a teenager and she near-literally has the weight of the world on her shoulders.
  • The fate of the Starks in a nutshell. Here is a family that clearly cares for each other with no ulterior motives. Yes there's sibling rivalry and Catelyn disliking Jon for being a bastard son, but they've got one of the healthiest family units especially in comparison to the other Houses. Ned Stark was the one who held the family together and encouraged everyone to get along, teaching them the values of honor and caring for their loved ones. His death drove them apart and set them into paths full of suffering and hardship. Rickon's age is still in the single digits with no parental guidance. Bran can no longer walk and has to run away from home due to raiding from Ironborn. Sansa is to be used as a political tool and has endured abuse from Joffrey then to Petyr Baelish and Lysa Arryn. Arya becomes a Faceless Man and slowly loses her identity. Jon is duty-bound to the wall, helpless to aid his siblings. Robb and Catelyn die in the Red Wedding, the latter being reborn as a vengeful woman driven by hate and vengeance. Here is a family that can truly be considered one of the good guys in the Crapsack World of Westeros, yet fate has dealt them the short end of the stick. It also serves as a Rule of Symbolism, as before the Starks were separated, there still was a tense, yet workable peace throughout Westeros and they were one of the few who didn't play the Game of Thrones for the sake of ambition. Jon Arryn's death may have kicked things off, but Ned's death symboilzed the death of what little decency remained in the world, and cruelty and ruthlessness is what's needed to survive.


  • Jaehaerys and Alysanne Targaryen have thirteen children, and they outlive all but two.
    Baelon Targaryen: I slew a thousand of them, but it will not bring him back.
    • Another tearjerker attached to Prince Baelon; he was Happily Married to his younger sister Alyssa, and the pair were never shy about showing the world how much they were in love with each other. After Alyssa died from complications giving birth to their third son, Baelon was left heartbroken by losing her and never remarried, despite being only 27 and considered amongst the most eligible bachelors in Westeros.
    • Also the death of Jaehaerys and Alysanne's eldest daughter Daenerys when she fell ill during the influenza-like pandemic known as the Shivers. Jaehaerys and Alysanne pulled out all the stops trying to save their little girl, but she succumbed in the end despite all their efforts. It was also a tearjerker in universe to the royal couple because they'd been of the belief their Valyrian ancestry protected them from illness, and the death of their child from disease effectively destroyed that belief.
    • The death of their younger daughter Viserra many years later was also tragic. After a blazing row with her mother over Viserra's impending Arranged Marriage to the elderly Lord Manderly, Viserra slipped out of the Red Keep for one last night of freedom in the city before she was shipped off to White Harbour. During the ensuing drunken excesses, Viserra was flung from her horse during a drunken race through the streets of King's Landing, collided with a wall and broke her neck. Jaehaerys and Alysanne were both in bed and oblivious at the time, and so the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard had the unenviable task of waking the king and queen up to inform them their daughter had been found dead in the city. Alysanne forever regretted the fact her last conversation with Viserra had been an argument, while her son Baelon also was left wondering if his brusque dismissal of Viserra's attempts to seduce him to get out of her arranged marriage might have contributed to his younger sister's death.
  • To convince the royal council that the tradition of Droit du Seigneur needs to be banned, Queen Alysanne tells them the story of a girl she met in Mole's Town. She had married her father's apprentice, but immediately after their marriage, their lord carried her away to his tower, raped her and then gave her back to her husband the next morning. Her husband, furious at having been cuckolded, took it out on his wife. When it became obvious that the lord had gotten her pregnant, he beat her until she miscarried the child. From that day forward, he never called her anything but "whore" until she gave up and made her way to Mole's Town to live as one.
  • The life of Rhaena Targaryen, Jaehaerys's elder sister was no barrel of laughs. Her father, King Aenys's decision to marry her to her younger brother Aegon set off a religious war as the Faith of the Seven denounced her marriage as an abomination against the gods. After their father's death, their uncle Maegor seized the throne, killed Aegon in battle when he tried to lead a military campaign to reclaim their throne, before Rhaena was forced to marry Maegor after he took her daughters by Aegon hostage to force her compliance. After Maegor was deposed and her brother Jaehaerys took the throne, Rhaena got her daughters back, remarried to a man who loved her and moved to Dragonstone...but her life continued to go downhill. Having been seperated from her children for so long she was practically a stranger to them, Rhaena's elder daughter Aerea grew to despise her mother for forcing her to stay on Dragonstone and forbidding her from returning to her aunt and uncle's court at King's Landing where Aerea had been happiest; Aerea finally got fed up of her mother and promptly fled the island atop Balerion the Black Dread, only to be carried off by the dragon to a Cruel and Unusual Death. Her younger daughter Rhaella joined the Faith as a septa and cut ties with her mother. Her second husband, Androw Farman, after years of having to be the cover for his wife's relationship with his sister, Elissa and being treated like dirt by all of Dragonstone's occupants, finally snapped and went on a killing spree, poisoning any woman on Dragonstone who Rhaena might care about while leaving her alive and alone, before committing suicide to cheat her of revenge when his crimes came to light. Elissa Farman got fed up of being stuck on Dragonstone and fled after robbing Rhaena of three dragon eggs to pay for her escape. Rhaena ended her days living in isolation at Harrenhal, the castle closest to the site where her first husband had been killed, lamenting all she had lost, with only her dragon Dreamfyre and the young lord of Harrenhal, Maegor Towers for company.
    Jaehaerys I: My brother Aegon died at the hands of our uncle in the Battle Beneath the Gods Eye. His wife, my sister Rhaena, was not with him at the battle, but she died that day as well.
  • The Dance of the Dragons in general is just one big Tear Jerker, the incredible amount of death and tragedy is just gut-wrenching. Made worse by the fact that it was entirely unnecessary and in the end, no one really wins.
    • The death of Addam Velaryon. After the betrayals of Ulf the White and Hugh Hammer during the First Battle of Tumbleton, Rhaenyra becomes suspicious of him due to his base birth, declares him a traitor and he is forced to flee King's Landing. Desperate to prove his loyalty, he assembles an army and attacks the green camp at Tumbleton. His actions end up saving King's Landing, but at the cost of his own life. He dies trying to protect his men from the riderless, rampaging Vermithor, despite knowing that his own dragon was no match for the older, larger dragon. When his bones are returned to House Velaryon, his brother Alyn puts one word on his grave marker: LOYAL.
  • It's hard not to feel sorry for Princess Rhaenyra. Her stepmother, stepmother's father and half-brothers conspire to steal the crown that should have been hers. Her daughter is stillborn and deformed as a result of learning about the usurpation. Her three eldest sons die tragic deaths in the span of a few months and she dies thinking her youngest son is also dead. Two of the men she had raised from the dirt to the level of knights and dragon riders betray her cause. Her growing fear and paranoia from all these tragedies cause her to turn against those who do stay loyal to her. Her dragon is killed. Finally, she is eaten alive by her half-brother's dragon. Even written by a maester ambivalent at best to Rhaenyra, his last summation of her young life, once filled with promise, and her incredibly gruesome, traumatic death hits hard, especially the last line:
    The golden dragon devoured the queen in six bites, leaving only her left leg below the shin “for the Stranger.” The queen’s son watched in horror, unable to move. Rhaenyra Targaryen, the Realm’s Delight and Half-Year Queen, passed from this veil of tears upon the twenty-second day of tenth moon of the 130th year after Aegon’s Conquest. She was thirty-three years of age.
    • Also her son, Aegon, who was forced to watch his mother die by the aforementioned dragon. Even though he was later crowned king and Rhaenyra achieved dynastic vindication, he was never the same again after that incident. Much like when Tywin lost his wife, Aegon would never again smile, developed a great distaste for dragons, and always wore black to mourn his mother.
    • The deaths of the Princes Velaryon were exceptionally tragic to say the least:
      • The murder of Lucerys Velaryon, her second son, was deemed as the spark that ignited the violence between the Blacks and the Greens. Lucerys had been sent to Storm's End to broker an alliance with Lord Borros Baratheon in behalf of Rhaenyra, but his uncle Aemond had arrived there first and had offered a better deal on behalf of Aegon The Elder than what Lucerys had brought. Lord Borros then gave Aemond leeway to kill Lucerys, who would had avoided being brought down by Aemond had the skies over the castle been clear, but he was hampered by the rain. Despite being Rhaenyra's bitter enemies, Aemond's mother and grandfather, Alicent and Otto Hightower, were horrified by Lucerys's murder, knowing full well that Rhaenyra's fury over her son's death would be unstoppable.
      • The death of Jacaerys Velaryon, her oldest, happened during the Battle in the Gullet. Riding a relatively young dragon, Vermax, Jace flew too close to the sea and crashed. Jace managed to leap from the dragon and cling to a piece of the shipwreck but was spotted by a Triarchy Myrish ship in the service of Aegon The Elder and riddled with arrows until he sank dead.
      • The death of Joffrey Velaryon happened during the Riot of King's Landing and the Storming of the Dragonpit. Trying to finally prove himself a warrior after the deaths of his brothers, Joff tried to take flight with Syrax, his mother's dragon, to save the dragons (including his own, Tyraxes) trapped in the pit. However, Syrax rejected him as a rider and Joff lost his grip on the dragon and plunged to his death, crashing on the stairs of the Sept of Baelor. Joff is said to have been consoled in his final moments by a young baseborn girl who placed his head on her bosom, though according to Maester Gyldayn, this is most likely a romantic exaggeration.
    • The deaths of Helaena and her children are gut-wrenching as well. Jaehaerys was assassinated in front of his mother and siblings in retaliation for Lucerys's death, after Helaena had been forced to mark Maelor for death. She became so deeply depressed that she threw herself from a window in Maegor's Holdfast and was impaled on the spikes, dying instantly as a spike pierced her throat (though there are rumors that she was actually murdered). Then Maelor, having been smuggled to Bitterbridge, was found and torn limb from limb by a mob of overzealous Black supporters. And finally, Jaehaera also threw herself (or was pushed) from a window in Maegor's Holdfast but didn't get a quick death like her mother; she lingered in agony for half an hour before expiring (again, there are rumors that she too had actually been murdered).
  • The death of Laena Velaryon is gut-wrenching. Laena was an adventurous young woman and loved flying on her dragon Vhagar. She died from complications resulting from giving birth to a stillborn child. What is supremely sad is that Laena wanted to ride on Vhagar one last time. But she never made it to her beloved dragon, collapsing on the stairs...
  • While it can be justifiably said that she brought it on herself, by the end of her life, it was hard not to pity Alicent Hightower, the wife of King Viserys I and mother of King Aegon II. She was determined to put her son on the Iron Throne at any cost, even to the point of waging a civil war against her step-daughter Rhaenyra, her husband's designated heir...and as a result of her ambitions, lost everything. Her younger sons, daughter, grandsons, father, brothers and numerous other members of her family and its supporters were killed in the ensuing civil war, her eldest son Aegon actually ruled as King for a matter of weeks before being assassinated by his remaining courtiers when he made it clear (influenced by her) that he intended to fight to the death, even though his cause had no chance of victory. The only member of Alicent's immediate family to survive the Dance of Dragons was her granddaughter Jaehaera, who by all accounts hated and feared her grandmother. To add insult to injury, despite dying in the war, Rhaenyra was posthumously vindicated when Aegon died without an heir; Rhaenyra's son Aegon went on to become king and continue the Targaryen dynasty, while Alicent's sons went down in history as a pack of treacherous, power-grasping, murderous usurpers who flouted their father's dying wish and tried to steal the throne from the rightful heir. Alicent ended her days effectively under house arrest in her quarters in the Red Keep, and towards the end of her life, Alicent began to suffer dementia and could only tearfully reminisce about how much she missed her children and wanted to see them again. It was quite tragic to realise she had genuinely loved the people her actions helped destroy.
  • The death of Daemon Blackfyre and his twin sons. After a glorious one-on-one battle with Ser Gwayne Corbray of the Kingsguard during the Battle of Redgrass Field, he is caught in the open by his half-brother Brynden Rivers "Bloodraven", who rains a volley of arrows on him and his sons. It was widely seen as an undeserving death devoid of glory and a rather dishonorable move from Bloodraven, who would carry infamy throughout his life for this act.
  • The story of Aegor Rivers "Bittersteel" is no less unfortunate: described as a relentlessly angry man, Bittersteel was the bastard son of King Aegon IV and Barba Bracken. His king father abandoned all romantic interest towards Barba and turned to Melissa Blackwood, a union that would produce Brynden Rivers "Bloodraven". Bittersteel always loathed Bloodraven for a number of reasons, including the ancestral rivalry between the Blackwoods and the Brackens, the fact that Bloodraven's mother replaced his own as the King's favorite and because their beautiful bastard sister Shiera Seastar preferred Bloodraven over him. When Daemon Blackfyre defied the crown, Bittersteel sided with him soundly through the revolution and his eventual defeat to Bloodraven; in ire, Bittersteel was able to maim Bloodraven in battle by cutting his left eye off. Bittersteel fled with the surviving sons of Blackfyre to Essos, where he created the mercenary army known as the Golden Company with the main purpose to crown Blackfyre's sons as kings of Westeros, but every attempt that he made was promptly crushed by Bloodraven. Bittersteel would die an angry old man licking his wounds, leaving behind the Golden Company as his sole remnant in the world of the living.
  • Dorne's unification with the Seven Kingdoms. King Daeron II and Prince Maron Martell went to the Great Sept of Baelor and placed a golden wreath before the statue of King Baelor the Blessed, stating, "Baelor, your work is done".
  • The Trial Of Seven against Ser Duncan The Tall during the Tourney at Ashford Meadow. Though Dunk emerged victorious, his innocence proved fatal to his ally, Prince Baelor Targaryen "Breakspear", heir to the Iron Throne who was unwittingly slain by his brother Prince Maekar. As Maekar was considered comparatively a lesser warrior and person against his brothers during their battles against the Blackfyre Pretenders, this act was unjustly perceived as an act of envy which brought him infamy as a kinslayer as well.
    A queer troubled look passed across Baelor Breakspear's face, like a cloud passing before a sun. He raised his hand and touched the back of his head with two fingers, oh so lightly. And then he fell.
    Dunk caught him. "Up," they say he said, just as he had with Thunder in the melee, "up, up." But he never remembered that afterward, and the prince did not rise.
    • What makes Baelor's death especially terrible is how good he was; he was universally beloved for damn good reason. He was every inch The Wise Prince, kind and gentle with the tongue-tied Dunk throughout their encounters even after Dunk lays a hand on a prince of the blood. Troubled realizing Dunk is pretty much sunk despite having done the right thing, he went to bat for the poor young hedge knight in his hour of need, championed for him, and saved his life. What is the outcome of the trial for this good, chivalrous, shining prince? He suffered a terribly gruesome, gory head wound that left him with only half a head, as horrifically revealed to onlookers when they removed his helmet. Though he got smashed in the head, his first instinct after the trial wasn't to get checked out right away, it was to check that his brother was getting treated and then that Dunk was alright, in the process saving Dunk one last time from a painful death by well-meant but deadly medical advice.
      "Get him drunk and pour some boiling oil into it," someone suggested. "That's how the maesters do it."
      "Wine." The voice had a hollow metallic ring to it. "Not oil, that will kill him, boiling wine. I'll send Maester Yormwell to have a look at him when he's done tending my brother."
      The maesters and the boiling wine had done their work, and his wound was healing cleanly, though there would be a deep puckered scar between his left arm and his nipple. He could not see the wound without thinking of Baelor. He saved me once with his sword, and once with a word, even though he was a dead man as he stood there.
    • The impact of this event haunted Dunk for a considerable period, as soon after tragedy befell the Targaryens when the Great Spring Sickness also killed King Daeron II and many of his issue. As the Trial of Seven killed Prince Baelor Breakspear, Dunk felt personally responsible for the tragedies that the Targaryens went through.
  • Before his battle with Lucas Longinch on The Sworn Sword, Dunk pleads to Lady Rohanne Webber to forgive Eustace Osgrey for his misgivings one last time; he proceeds to cut his cheek to assert just how serious he is about the whole ordeal. Lady Webber refuses, but laments that given the opportunity, she would not hesitate to marry Dunk right then and there for his greatness as a man of honor, but as the highest authority in the Coldmoat, she must see justice served against Osgrey.
    • To add salt to the wound, Dunk wins the duel at a great expense since his wounds bring him close to death; when he finally wakes up, he learns that Lady Webber has married Osgrey to broker peace between their houses, leaving Dunk empty-handed. Still, Lady Webber declares her love for Dunk and her wish for him to stay and serve as captain of her guard. He refuses, but they kiss passionately; Dunk keeps her cut braid as a memento of their time together.
  • The story between Lady Webber and Eustace Osgrey is no less a tear jerker. Osgrey had three sons and a daughter before the Blackfyre Rebellion; Addam (his third son) and the young Rohanne Webber were in love by the moment the Rebellion started. Eustace sided with Daemon Blackfyre and sent his sons to wage combat against the Targaryens; Lord Wyman Webber (Rohanne's father) sided with the Targaryens, who emerged victorious. Osgrey ended up losing his three sons in battle and was punished by having his daughter taken prisoner by the crown; his daughter died in captivity and this resulted in his wife taking her own life in grief.
    • Lord Wyman mandated that his daughter Rohanne be married by the time 20 years had passed from his death so that she would inherit his lands. As such, Rohanne was married in a rush to her father's squire during the Blackfyre Rebellion in the eventuality of her father's death; it became impossible for her to marry Addam, who was sent by his father to fight for the enemy. This first husband was slain during the rebellion. Soon after, she was married to an old man that died of a chill. After another husband choked while eating chicken and yet another died during an epidemic, she gained an undeserved infamy as "The Red Widow". Rohanne never forgave Eustace Osgrey for siding with the enemy and causing Addam's death and began a slow campaign to erode him into insignificance. It took Dunk's honorable example to make them reconcile for the sake of peace.
  • The desperation that overcomes Dunk every time he loses sight of Egg is considerably cringe-inducing because of his appreciation and care for the boy and also because of Egg's actual identity as Aegon Targaryen.
  • Prince Aemon the Dragonknight and Queen Naerys are particularly tragic figures. The second and third children of Viserys II, respectively, they lived for many years under the shadow of their abusive, self-centered, and hedonistic older brother Aegon the Unworthy. Aegon raped Naerys constantly after they were married, despite not being in love with her and knowing that childbirth would be dangerous for her, and flaunted his numerous affairs in her face. Aemon did what he could to protect his sister, but it simply wasn't enough to counter the toll of Aegon's mistreatment. It's believed that Naerys and Aemon were in deeply in love but couldn't be together because they were trapped by their vows. They might have even had an affair resulting in Daeron II. Even if theirs was a platonic sibling relationship, it's clear they both meant a lot to each other. Aemon would eventually give his life, saving Aegon from traitors (who, honestly, had good reason to hate the king) and Naerys would die trying to give Aegon another child. Aegon repaid them by slandering them at every chance he got. Two kindhearted, innocent people led miserable lives because they had the misfortune of having such a malicious older brother.