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Tear Jerker / Batman

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"We mourn lives lost. Including our own."

Bruce Wayne/Batman's backstory and life are mired in tragedy starting with the loss of his parents in his childhood, he's one of the quintessential tragic superheroes for a reason. And he's had to deal with many other tear-jerking situations in his bat-vigilante career. Not to mention part of his Rogues Gallery is made of Tragic Villains.


  • There is not a single version of Bruce's parents getting gunned down that isn't a Tear Jerker.
    • Flashpoint inverts this to similar results and for extra crazy points is also the event that turns Martha Wayne into that universe's version of the Joker.
    • The sadness of Batman's origin is taken up to eleven in the 2016 "I Am Suicide" arc of the Batman comics in the new Rebirth continuity. A letter Bruce sends to Selina Kyle/Catwoman as she is on her way to be detained in Arkham Asylum for committing 237 counts of murder explains the emotions that came out of witnessing his parent's murder in-depth. Bruce explains that after his parent's deaths, he felt nothing but pain, and attempted to slit his wrists with his father's razor. However, remembering all of the people in Gotham that were going through similar pain kept him from ultimately doing the deed... at least physically. Spiritually, he already felt dead, and crafted the Batman persona in the hopes that he would one day die defending Gotham from criminals. The events of this particular comic arc seem to be building up to just that. It's extremely harrowing to find out that, at least in this new interpretation, suicidal despair was the ultimate emotion behind the creation of Batman.
  • The scene in "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" where Superman pleads to the planet Earth itself for the strength to save its people. Later in that same book, the death of Alfred, as he watches Wayne Manor and his life with the Waynes go up in a roaring ball of flame - as he thinks, "How utterly proper."
    • The death of Toyman at the roller coaster (though he had it coming); it's not the actual event that packs the punch, but to see the usually cheery Carrie Kelly completely shattered and crying at the gruesomeness of his death, shedding tears through her silly thick glasses. A couple of pages through the next issue, she is still at it, about to be traumatized for life until Batman calls her to pick him up.
  • Bruce discovering that Kathy Kane was killed by a brainwashed Bronze Tiger during the "War of the Assassins" storyline. She died in 1979 and was the first member of the Batfamily to die.
  • Stephanie Brown's time as Robin and her fate. When Tim quit Stephanie volunteered to be the new Robin. Bruce took her on reluctantly. He only made her Robin to make Tim jealous. When he fires her after she disobeys orders so she can save his life, she steals plans to unite Gotham's gangs hoping to prove herself. Because Bruce didn't trust her the plan failed and Stephanie was kidnapped and tortured by Black Mask. She died of her wounds shortly after.
  • A Death in the Family, with the infamous panel of Batman carrying Jason Todd's corpse from the ruins. This scene is so infamous, that the only death scene more famous that it is the Death Of Superman (whether its the Man of Steel's torn cape flying on a stick or Lois Lane cradling a bloody, bruised and very much dead Superman)
  • In 'Under The Hood', Jason has a gun to The Joker's head, telling Batman that if he were to stop him from killing the clown, he'd have to shoot Jason in the face, complete with tears. See here.
  • Battle For The Cowl has some moments, despite Batman's actual death happening earlier. Notable points include the idea of supervillains doing good to honor Batman, Batman's holographic will attempting to set right what couldn't be fixed in a lifetime, and Jason Todd finally snapping completely. His actions are hard to sympathize with, but imagine that your Last Words from the most important person in your life are "You're broken, and I couldn't fix you. Maybe someone else can."
  • Alfred's reaction when asked by Superman at Bruce's funeral how he is handling it all:
    "Am I alright? No, I'm not. ...My son has died."
    • Similarily, Bruce leaves a message concerning his last farewells, in case of his death.
      "I always thought of you as a father to me, but I was wrong. You're not like a father, you are my father Alfred. And the fact I am blessed to have had two amazing ones in this life of mine, well it only makes it harder to say. Goodbye, Dad."
    • Dick mourns Bruce's death by going to Crime Alley and burning the same candle that Bruce inducted Dick into the Bat-Family with. There, via inner monologue, do we learn that it's taking his all not to cry...
  • In Knightfall, when Scarecrow makes Batman relive Jason Todd's death, he delivers a eulogy while beating the Joker half to death.
    Batman: "Just a boy. Braver than any man. Too brave to become a man."
  • Parts of The Killing Joke with regards to the Joker, of all people. The joke at the end, and the following line:
    Joker: "Madness is the emergency exit. You can just step outside, and close the door on all those dreadful things that happened. You can lock them away... forever."
    • The implication being that something happened to him that was so horrible that he gave himself amnesia to forget and still went insane.
    • Batman asking the Joker to let him help, and the Joker briefly pausing. You can see that some part of him wants to, but...
      Joker: No... I'm sorry, It's too late for that. Far too late...
    • Fridge Horror sets in when you realize that somewhere, buried deep within layers upon layers of insanity and psychological damage, lies a conscience, a small, sane, unchanging fragment of Joker's personality that not only realizes what he's done/doing, but so desperately wants Batman to stop him.
  • You would never believe a Lampshade Hanging to be this, but the story "When Is A Door" from Secret Origins Special #1 (penned by Neil Gaiman himself) has one. Despite being rather nonsensical, The Riddler's longing for "the good old days", back when The Joker wasn't killing everything that had a pulse, always gets to him. Nostalgia may be a part of it, seeing as how Riddler makes several references to the unforgettable sixties Batman TV show. This line is what really makes him crack up:
    Riddler: "You look around here these days, it's all different. It's all changed. The Joker's killing people, for God's sake! Did I miss something? Was I away when they changed the rules?"
  • "No Man's Land" has the death of Commissioner Gordon's wife, Sarah, at the hands of the Joker. Joker has a large number of infants held hostage; Sarah rushes in with a gun, and Joker tosses one of the babies at her, forcing her to drop her gun to save it. No points for guessing what he does once she's unarmed. Gordon gets the news outside - he rants tearfully about how the Joker has gone too far and seriously considers killing him, but after shooting him in the knee, chooses law over anarchy and walks away. And if him weeping on the steps as Batman holds him steady doesn't get to you, then the scene of him spending the new year alone, singing Auld Lang Syne dry-eyed over Sarah's grave definitely will. What's even worse is that the Joker isn't laughing as he walks away. Even HE doesn't find it funny, which just makes it depressing.
    • Earlier on in "No Man's Land," there's the story where Renee Montoya first really meets Two-Face, "Two Down". At first, Renee is understandably suspicious of Two-Face who is a prominent member of Batman's own Rogues Gallery... but as they work together, even though she never forgets what he now is, she starts bonding with him and seeing what he could have been —- to the point where she's willing to stand up to the Batman himself in his defense.
  • "Going Sane". This little four-part story arc humanizes The Joker far better than The Killing Joke ever did. The finale is especially sad: it features the Joker's inevitable return to madness and Rebecca hoping in vain for the return of her "missing" fiance, "Joseph Kerr".
    • What's worse is the realization that, because the Joker constantly reinvents his personality as a symptom of his madness, events similar to "Going Sane" may have played out several times over the course of the Joker's career.
    • Tragically, none of it was a lie to the Joker; he really was happy and in love. When he kidnapped a female politician, he suddenly saw in her the face of his ex-fiancee. The shock made him immediately release her.
  • "Batman: Streets of Gotham" deals with Mr. Zsasz kidnapping orphans and runaways and forcing them to participate in knife fights for people to gamble on. The Tearjerker comes into play when Batman and Robin encounter Humpty Dumpty, who has been gathering the bodies of the murdered children and giving them toys to try to "fix" them. And it's Christmas time as well, just to twist the knife a little more.
  • Another "Streets of Gotham" example is pretty much everything about "Sonny" the orphan and who he is heavily implied to grow up to become. Injured at a fire in his foster home he is sent to Martha Wayne's clinic where Martha and the staff are the only ones to ever show him kindness, and ends up witnessing a crime by some particularly nasty mobsters who break his jaw and infect him with a virus they were planning to use in wiping out Gotham's slumdwellers to test its effects. However he returns to the clinic and Martha and her friends managed to find a cure which averts the deadly epidemic, which causes the most repulsive and sadistic of the mobsters to immediately firebomb the clinic in an insane rage. The kid survives and rushes to find help for an unconscious Martha, only to run into the same mobster who abducts him unseen even as the Justice Society closes in. He then proceeds to inflict horrifying physical, mental, and sexual abuse on the kid for the next few years, beating him till he is unrecognisable and forcing his already broken jaw to set incorrectly making it extremely pointed. All the while taunting him by telling him to "laugh more" and to stop frowning. Given such a horrifying backstory it's depressingly clear how someone like the Joker was born.
  • Batman's final scenes in Identity Crisis (2004). First, he visits the grave of his parents, asking them to watch over Jack Drake and Sue Dibny. Then, when the JLA meet up and return to business as usual, he notices Wally (who just learned about the League's betrayal of Batman by erasing his memory) being hesitant. He asks Wally to speak his mind, clearly hoping that he'd reveal to the others about what they had done was wrong... but Wally, for the League's sake, stays silent. In three panels, you see Bruce's heart and trust break... leading him down the path to create Brother Eye.
  • "Gotham Central": Crispus Allen's murder. And how his killer got away with it.
  • Damian's death and the resulting fallout in the Bat-Family. Batman & Robin in particular has an arc with Bruce going through the five stages of grief, where he further alienates and hurts his allies, still bearing wounds from Death of the Family.
  • Batman #471. Batman heads into the sewers to investigate an odd string of robberies perpetrated by Killer Croc. Turns out that he had been taken in by a bunch of vagabonds, an old lady protecting him. When Batman finds Croc, Croc goes nuts and starts attacking until Bats realizes that time's up: they're activating a new waterway and it would destroy these people's home. Bats and Croc try to hold back a crumbling wall, but when the old lady falls into the flooding room, Bats is forced to rescue her. Helplessly, everyone watches as Croc is swept away, defiantly screaming at the water before he does. The last panels show the vagabonds singing "Hush Little Baby", the song the old lady used to pacify Croc. He did come back about two years later, but those last panels are still powerful.
  • Hush is full of these, but there's a rather subtle and unexpected one at the very end. The Riddler has successfully pulled off one of the most amazing crime waves in Gotham's history, involving nearly every one of Batman's Rogues Gallery and even managing to manipulate the heroes as well; it helps that Riddler is viewed as something of a washed-up, joke villain at this point in the series. He even manages to deduce Batman's secret identity, and thinks that he's finally at the top of the heap... only for Batman, with a single question, to completely destroy those plans: "Who is Batman?" is one of the greatest riddles out there, and if the Riddler gives away the answer, that riddle will become worthless— and the Riddler is so obsessed with puzzles that he physically can't allow that to happen. This could be viewed as a Moment of Awesome for Batman, but on the other hand, it shows that Riddler, like the Caped Crusader's other villains, is legitimately insane, unable to even enjoy victory because of his psychosis. It's a moment that makes Batman comics more realistic, and a lot more heartbreaking.
  • All of the Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! tie-ins. Whether it's Bruce accidentally drifting into a timeline where it was he who was shot instead of his parents (years before Flashpoint did), meeting with an alternate Alfred at a time when his own had stormed away, infuriate at how little he cared for his own health and home, or meeting with a healthy Barbara Gordon whose father did not survive the events of The Killing Joke, all of them have some very painful moments for the Dark Knight, and even Tim Drake's meeting with a teenaged Dick Grayson has him shyly evading the subject when it comes to Jason Todd.
  • In Arkham Manor, a disguised Batman recruits Mr. Freeze to help contain a maddened Clayface. The two manage to contain the shifter inside Freeze's cell, and begin to leave the Manor. Batman begins to tell Freeze how to best escape without harming anyone, but Victor gently stops him and assures him he's going nowhere. When asked why, Freeze closes his eyes and starts making snow angels, before morosely answering he has, quite literally, nowhere to go.
  • The crossover one-shot with Batman and Elmer Fudd. Batman survives an assassination attempt by Elmer and confronts the man over it. Learning Elmer had been set up by "Bugs", the two proceed to hunt him down. They ultimately learn that the true mastermind was Silver St. Cloud. She had fallen in love with Elmer after she couldn't take being with Bruce's "dangerous" life, but when she learned Elmer had just a dangerous life as Bruce, she opted to turn the two against each other through "Bugs". After the revelation, the three men could only approach the counter of the bar they're in and ask for "carrot juice" to drown their sorrows.
  • Peter Tomasi's run on Batman had the writer humanize Damian in ways that even Grant Morrison's more subtle characterization wasn't able to do alone. So, after Damian's death in Batman Inc., Tomasi dedicated a completely silent issue to the character in Batman and Robin #18. From Alfred's weeping at the Wayne Family portrait, with Damian's figure still unfinished, to Bruce's near inability to keep functioning, the issue reaches a climax when Batman finds a letter Damian wrote to his father explaining why he needed to help his father and how much he loves him. Bruce finally breaks and nearly destroys a whole room, collapsing onto his knees and holding Damian's costume in his hands.
    • The following issues explored Bruce going through the stages of grief, hurting his loved ones as he tries to (at the time) vainly attempt to resurrect Damian. Batman and Nightwing has Bruce gaining some cold closure that, in an ideal world, there could have been a way for Damian to live. Alfred then uses the same computer program to relive the moment that he allowed Damian to leave the Cave to help his father, and prevent it; apologizing in tears to his son for allowing the boy who was basically his grandson go off to die, the book ending with a painful step forward.

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