Given the incredibly dark nature of the series, was there ever any doubt that there would be tear jerkers?
Unmarked spoilers ahead.
Applegate's letter in respond to criticism of the series finale. (Spoilers abound) It makes you feel bad for feeling bad- that is to say, for not liking the end. Because what she says is true, people die in war, people break up in war, people change with war.
Alright, let's get this out of the way:
The end - Rachel, Jake, Tom and Tobias.
- For the whole of the series, it was Jake's intention to free his brother from enslavement from the Yeerk in his head, instead of killing what was an incredibly dangerous enemy as well as his brother. In Rachel's final battle, Tom's final words - "JAKE, STOP HER!" - drive home the tragedy of the situation. Even Tom didn't think Jake would go so far as to have his own brother killed. Jake's later narration doesn't help:Jake: Tom was dead.
And I wondered how I was going to explain it. I had ordered my cousin to take out my brother. How was I going to explain that?
Silly to think of that then. Silly and stupid.
All those years, I had fought to keep us safe, always with the desperate hope that I would save my brother, that he'd come back, that he'd be Tom again. That was why I'd enlisted in this war to begin with. I was going to save Tom.
Tom was dead. The Yeerk in his head was dead.
- Rachel's final moments also aren't pretty. Knowing she's about to die, she demorphs so that she can smile at her love interest, Tobias, who morphs human so that he can cry for her (hawks don't cry). Her last words are to him: "I love you." A polar bear then unceremoniously grunts, <You fight well, human,> and then kills her with a single blow.
- Her final thought. She doesn't get to finish it.I wondered if-
- Her final thought. She doesn't get to finish it.
- And then take it ten minutes further, when we get back in Jake's head and find out that his first thought after seeing Rachel die was, "I wish that Tobias had just come after me right then. I wouldn't have stopped him. I would have welcomed it."
- The descriptions by Marco of what the aftermath of the war did to Jake were depressing.The problem was, he didn't want anything. Except for Tobias to come back. For Rachel and Tom to be alive. For the chance to unlive one fateful moment when he gave the order that doomed seventeen thousand defenseless Yeerks.
- Later, Marco also says this to Cassie after she asks about how Jake's doing:"He doesn't put flowers on [Rachel's] memorial or whatever, there's always lots of those. He goes when no one's around, late, after hours. The guys at the gate let him in. He parks and just kind of sits there like he's hanging out with her. I don't think he talks to her. Sad as it is to say, I wish he did. Talking to a dead person is better than not talking at all. He sits there for an hour, sometimes two, stares out at the ocean. Watches the sun go down. Then he leaves. Sometimes I think he's waiting there hoping Tobias will show up."
- Later, Marco also says this to Cassie after she asks about how Jake's doing:
- Tobias' appearance at Rachel's funeral is easily one of the biggest tear jerkers in the entire series. His wordless insistence that he be the one to see to his love's last resting place is heartbreaking.
- Rachel's realization that, due to the fact she allows the others to maintain their self-image as good guys by doing their dirty work, she is only a good guy by association and isn't much better than the Yeerks she's fighting.
- The Ellimist conversing with Rachel, in another dimension and book, during her last instants of life. One last reassurance to someone resigned to be a dark Designated Hero:Did it matter? In the end. My life and my - my death - did it change anything? Did I matter?Yes. You were brave. You were strong. You were good. You mattered.Yeah. Okay, then. Okay, then...
- The Ellimist conversing with Rachel, in another dimension and book, during her last instants of life. One last reassurance to someone resigned to be a dark Designated Hero:
- All of the Auxiliary Animorphs dying. They were so happy to have been given a second chance, even if it meant fighting the Yeerks, and they just wanted to live, but Jake told them to fight.
- At first, it seems like Cassie was the lucky one after the war. She had a good job, doing what she loved. She was able to move past the horrors she'd experienced, unlike Jake. Rachel hadn't been her only anchor to the world, unlike Tobias. She still had her family. But one by one, she lost all her friends, the only people that understood what she'd been through. Rachel died, Ax left the planet, Tobias became a recluse, and her actions pushed Jake away. Cassie and Marco only spoke on occasion and went over a year without seeing each other in person. Then, Tobias, Jake, and Marco all left Earth to go after Ax, leaving Cassie alone, not knowing if she'd ever see any of them again.
- After a particularly gruesome battle, the kids find a human-Controller that Jake mangled during the fighting. Dying slowly and unable to escape the host body due to injuries, the Yeerk pleads the kids to help him, but they leave instead, fearful that more reinforcements will arrive. As they go, the Controller says, "I'm dying. I'm scared... Does that make you happy, Andalite?" After a pause, Jake replies hoarsely, <No. No... It doesn't make me happy.>
- The Taxxons in general. In the beginning, they're only known as monstrous cannibals who willingly allied with the Yeerks in exchange for being allowed to eat other species. They're disgusting bug-things that will eat cockroaches off the ground, corpses, and each other. Even themselves, if given the chance. It turns out they're so plagued by Horror Hunger that they sold themselves into slavery hoping the Yeerks could contain it- which failed, more often than not. They hate the war and the constant hunger, but they can't see any end to it. The only happy ending they can get is voluntarily becoming nothlits in python form, living in the Amazon. They'll never have a civilization like everyone else and their society will die out after one generation, but at least they're free of the endless hunger.
- In book 4 Cassie is narrating about what makes the others happy (Marco isn't happy unless he's complaining about something, Rachel isn't happy unless she's fighting something) before reaching Tobias, and thinking that Tobias is never happy, because he thinks that if he is, someone will take that away from him.
- #19, Cassie morphing into a caterpillar and remaining a nothlit, as part of a pact she made with her yeerk captor Aftran so in turn Aftran wouldn't use a host again. She follows through, to the point where she becomes a chrysalis, much to Aftran's protest. When the others find her, Aftran is in tears over how she pushed Cassie too far.
- #23, The Pretender. Tobias finds out through an elaborate scheme of Visser Three that Elfangor was his father. The entire scene where the will is read out loud is very tough, but throughout the whole thing, Tobias maintains a completely straight face. It's therefore an even bigger sucker punch when Tobias says the only reason for that was that he forgot how to use facial expressions, as a hawk.
- Then his finding a private back alley so he can morph human and cry.
- The last sentence of #38, The Arrival."Cassie held my hand, and in the darkness, where no one could see me, I cried."
- Pretty much everything about Marco and Eva.
- It starts early. In the very second book in the series, Rachel acquire the morph of a friend's pet cat to infiltrate their house because she suspects that Melissa is a controller. She's wrong. It's her parents. As Controllers, they don't have any feelings of warmth or love for their daughter. And Rachel (in cat morph) sits on Melissa's bed while she cries and asks the cat "Why don't they love me any more?"
Melissa: You didn't hear me? But Daddy, I was crying.Controller: I uh...didn't notice you.Melissa looked like she'd been slapped.
- And then things go From Bad to Worse. When her father (under control of his Yeerk) realizes that Rachel isn't a normal cat, thinking her to be an Andalite, he captures her and starts to take her away. Melissa freaks out, running across the yard and screaming, tearfully asking what her dad's going to do with her beloved kitty. He ignores her until she's right in front of him, and...
- And all this just makes a scene later in the book, when it's revealed Chapman and his wife became Controllers with the caveat that the Yeerks would not do the same to Melissa, all the more gutwrenching. Even the suggestion that the Yeerks might renege on the deal is enough to make both parents wrest control of their bodies back and start screaming in rage - even though they've been prisoners so long their free will itself has begun to atrophy.
- More than just screaming, they actually attack their own bodies.
- The end of #16, "The Warning," when wolf!Cassie is talking to a little boy whose father is a Controller, having to tell a young boy not to trust his father.
- A certain passage from "The Andalite Chronicles" becomes even more heartwrenching with the help of Murray Gold. (starts at 2:28)
- I found #19 - The Departure to be pretty much one big tear jerker.
- The Departure is a hard story to get through because Cassie's story is one about a soldier who BREAKS, who recognizes how difficult what they're doing is and can't take it, rather than try to tough it out.
- Cassie's idealism in this book was both heartwarming and heartbreaking, and it was brought out perfectly in some of the most poignant quotes in the series. Rachel and Marco, the Blood Knight and the cynic, deciding not to kill Aftran because Cassie believed in peace was an incredibly beautiful scene.
- In The Capture, Jake gets infested by Tom's former Yeerk and he has to be isolated for 3 days to starve the Yeerk to death. During that time, the Yeerk tortures Jake mentally, but the worst moment is when the Yeerk lets Jake experience one of his older brother's memories in full. Jake watches the memory of Tom mentally begging the Yeerk to leave his brother alone while the Yeerk pretends to be him trying to convince Jake to join the Sharing. Jake feeling Tom's utter helplessness, misery, and desire for the release of death is bad enough, and then you realize that this is exactly how Tom feels every second of his life.
- Tobias realizing that he has to kill an entire alien species for him and the other Animorphs to get home in In the Time of Dinosaurs.
- From "The Alien," after Ax meets Cassie's parents, while he's still getting used to his human morph:
- Cassie: Yeah, my Dad is going bald. It's normal for humans, but he doesn't like to talk about it.Ax: I understand. My father's hooves are getting dull. It's normal as well, but he doesn't like to mention it.Cassie: What are they like, your parents?Ax: They are very nice. They...Cassie: They what?Ax: I seem to have an obstruction in my throat. I am having some difficulty speaking. Is this normal?Cassie: You miss them. That's normal.
- Another Ax moment: after Ax, interacting with his own kind for the first time in a very long time on Leera, puts his faith in them at the expense of his human friends and then discovers that doing so was a big mistake, he has to face his friends again. After a few tense minutes, he admits that he was wrong and tells Jake that from now on, he's the only prince that Ax will follow. The tearjerking part comes when Jake, for the first and only time in their long friendship, doesn't respond with his usual "Don't call me Prince." He just nods.
- The Ellimist Chronicles, learning that the enigmatic, cryptic god-figure was once just a geeky, kind-hearted alien teenager - and then watching the process of him losing everything, everything, to become what he is. In the end, there is no one at all on any world in the universe that he's on equal terms with. He's completely alone - except for Crayak, the only one with whom he can play the games he once loved, and whose only desire is to destroy the life that Ellimist creates. He confides and then offers comfort in Rachel's last instants of life:
- Did it matter? In the end. My life and my - my death - did it change anything? Did I matter?Yes. You were brave. You were strong. You were good. You mattered.Yeah. Okay, then. Okay, then...
I had watched entire worlds die. I had lost my own race. How could I care so much about this one small, unsteady creature? How could her death cut me so deeply?
- During Ellimist's time among the primitive Andalites, his first child dies of disease shortly after birth.
- David even has a Tear Jerker moment in #48. He might have gone down the wrong path, but if the scene where he accepts his death with dignity and tearfully begs Rachel to end his misery doesn't bring tears to your eyes, what the hell will?David: It's a beautiful world. I'll miss it.
- Ax realizing that Visser Three being a Yeerk must mean that there was an Andalite being enslaved by him once they finally meet in #8. Alloran begging Ax to kill him and having trouble remembering his own name makes you wish that Ax could just end it then but he's so unprepared for the encounter that he can't.
- The end of the first novel, "The Invasion", in which Jake finds out Tobias stayed in his hawk form for more than 2 hours and is now forever a hawk. Heck, even Jake was in tears!
- Lots of stuff from Rachel's final encounter with Crayak falls into this category. It's the book when she finally comes to terms with her role as the "token evil teammate" that she never really wanted to be. Tearjerky both when she finally stands up for herself after letting the team call her crazy and violent all season long:Rachel: I'm going to take David back to the island and leave him there again.Cassie: I don't know if you can do it a second time.Rachel: (snapping) You know what, Cassie? I don't know, either. So will you do it for me?Cassie: (taken aback) I... I don't...Rachel: Yeah. I didn't think so.
Rachel: They needed me to be the bad guy. But I needed them to be the good guys. Because if they were the good guys, and I was on their side, then that meant I was a good guy, too. Even if I was different.
- And when she finally figures out why she puts up with it in the first place:
- Basically, the whole of The Illusion. Actually, let's just go with Tobias's character as a whole.
- The Familiar (#41) has several; understandable given that it takes place in a possible future where the Yeerks won.
- One of the most powerful moments is the very first chapter, through the lens of Fridge Brilliance. Jake and Marco almost die, all of the Animorphs are this close to losing it after they escape, and you never even find out what they were after. One of the harshest looks at what an extended guerrilla war looks like and does to the soldiers.
- Elfangor's death in The Invasion. We just met the guy, but the kids' reactions and the absolutely gruesome way in which he dies. It's made all the worse when we meet Ax, and taken Up to Eleven after The Pretender
- Cassie saying goodbye to the buffalo in The Hidden before leaving it to its fate.<l have to go now,> I said, knowing it couldn't understand me. <Thank you for saving my life.>The buffalo's ears twitched.And then I knew what to say.<You are good,> I said softly.Its ears came forward and it made a soft, almost friendly sound.The helicopter buzzed into sight.TSEEEEEW!And then the Dracon beam blew up the buffalo.
- The Departure is, as was pointed out above, one big tearjerker, but a special goes out to the Fridge Horror. It's strongly implied that Aftran is breaking down from the stress of occupying the brain of someone who hates her, yet she does it anyway because she thinks the beautiful world is worth it.Aftran: She hates me, okay? Does that make you feel superior? She hates me. She wants me dead. She sits there in the back of my mind and imagines me being tortured, dying a slow, screaming death! That's what she feels. Hate! Hate! Hate!
- Jake asking Cassie to marry him by the anaconda enclosure, because Cassie was always the idealistic one. But here, it's her that knows her relationship with Jake will never be the same after the war. And even though he loves her and she loves him, she tells him no.
- The last line of The Ellimist ChroniclesA small strand of space-time went dark and coiled into nothingness.
- That's all the Ellimist saw Rachel as, despite assurances otherwise. A small strand of space-time. Nothing more.
- Of course, that doesn't mean he doesn't think that's amazing.
- The Android: The entire book itself had me in tears on just about every page. The story of the Chee and Pemalites alone is quite the tearjerker. Honestly, I'm sure there are many others that would agree with the story of Chee and Pemalites, their history, etc. having massive potential for its own book. Also in #10, Marco went through a TON of emotional turmoil. Anyone recall the dinner Marco had with his father in this one?"That's why all these dogs are here," Jake said. "They're your. . . what, friends? Creators?""They are our joy," Erek said, "because they remind us of a world without evil. The world we lost. We Chee are all that is left of Pemalite technological genius. The dogs of Earth are all that is left of Pemalite souls."
- The Animorphs spend a good chunk of the book trying to retrieve a Pemalite crystal that will allow the Chee to shed their pacifistic programming and fight the Yeerks directly. And then when they succeed, and Erek is able to join the fight, the experience is so horribly traumatic for him that he voluntarily reverts to pacifism. And it's explicitly noted that, as a functionally immortal android, he's going to carry those memories for a very, very long time.
- Elfangor yelling at the Ellimist about how him having a son changes everything and he couldn't leave Earth during the Andalite Chronicles. Even after the Ellimist told him that if he doesn't go back to an Andalite, and to the fight, both Earth and the Andalite homeworld will eventually fall to the Yeerks.
- Aldrea. She loses her entire family, becomes trapped as a Hork Bajir, and becomes a war general. Then she dies and is resurrected only to find her son and husband are also gone. She has nightmares all the time, and is unable to entirely hide her feelings from a human child that pities her.
- Alloran's perfect control over his emotions before he gleefully exclaimed that he had just moved his tail by himself. It really brings home the fact that he had been unable to do that for decades.
- The ending of the Andante Chronicles, when Elfangor is taken from earth, Loren and their unborn son by the Ellimist and forced back into a war he hates. The truly heartbreaking moment is the moment when he realises Loren is pregnant and goes from bitter resignation over his fate to a complete breakdown of grief.''No, you can't take me away, I have a son! This changes everything. Don't take me away..."
- And when he finally meets his son, Tobias it's moments before his death and all he manages to do is ask about his family (and learn that his son is all alone), give him the morphing ability and tell him "your friends are your family now."
- Loren's fate. She loses her memory, forgetting the love of her life existed, and then loses her memories yet again, along with her sight, and is forced to abandon a son she doesn't even remember. And she never gets her memories back, ever. Elfangor dies without seeing her again, and Tobias never truly gets his mother back.
- In a meta sense, the fact that Cassie acquired Rachel, and years later, she's the only Animorph left. The only way she'll be able to see any of her old friends alive again is to morph and look in the mirror.
- Ax's first contact with his people in #8, where, within moments of greeting a superior, he is effectively shamed into bearing the burden of guilt for giving humans the morphing technology, rather than let his brother's name be tarnished, and their people can continue to think of Elfangor as a hero. For context, the war against the Yeerks started because an Andalite, Prince Seerow, gave the Yeerks the advanced technology that unleashed them on the galaxy. Ax is pushed to accept the burden of breaking that law, just so the Andalites could be able to look to Elfangor as a hero.