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Tear Jerker / Borderlands 3

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"Sapphire Starlight..."
Unfortunately, so many new opportunities paves the way for new, depressing tragedies.
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    Main Game 
  • Maya's death, Reduced to Dust by Troy.
    • It happens right in front of Ava at that, and primarily because of her. The poor kid doesn't take her mentor's death well and neither do we, not just for the cruel demise of a character who people have likely played as in the previous installment, but because it happens right after they're done looting the first Vault. Ava ends up lashing out at Lilith in grief and blaming her for Maya's death, much like Tina tried to do with Angel seven years back.
    • Perhaps even worse is an ECHO you can find that has Maya bidding farewell to Krieg sometime before BL3, implying that she's aware of his feelings for her.
    • Zer0 is shaken up enough to mourn Maya no less than three times after you tell them.
    The Vault awaits you. / Say hi to Maya for me. / We go back a way.
    A warrior true. / Deserved a much better fate. / Rest in peace, Maya.
    My sapphire-haired friend. / We made the deadliest team. / I'll dearly miss her.
    • Even worse, the mourning in the game itself is...minimal. After the initial meeting in which everyone is torn up about Maya's death, you are given a side objective to talk to Ava. However, as the game progresses you do have characters talking about Maya's death, and Ava is hellbent on seeing her get avenged.
  • Hammerlock is quite blunt that he finds Aurelia to be an evil, narcissistic woman. But before the inevitable boss fight with her goes underway, he pleads with the Vault Hunter to give Hammerlock a try at trying to talk Aurelia down. It doesn't work, and the Vault Hunter has to kill Aurelia. Even though she'd just attempted to kill him and Wainwright, Hammerlock is still notably distraught by her death. Evil or no, she was still his sister.
    Hammerlock: Thank you Vault Hunter. For giving her every chance and... helping a blind old fool of a brother...
    • One of the tales he recounts is when they found a lizard when they were young and Hammerlock raised it in a terrarium. One day, he found that the lizard drowned and he grieved thinking it was his fault. Yet he found out that Aurelia was the one that killed it, leaving a block of ice to melt so that the lizard would have a slow and agonizing death. And Aurelia's actions on Eden-6 is similar to the lizard's last moment.
  • Wainwright wanted to thoroughly enjoy a puzzle room rather than look for a solution because it was one of the things built by his late father.
  • The cutscene that (re)introduces Pandora has a skag getting hit by a passing vehicle. This time, it was accompanied by some younger skags. They howl mournfully as they watch their (presumed) parent experience an abrupt, messy, and painful death.
  • Troy's death. Yes, he's a crazy murderer with a god complex, but it's hard not to have any sympathy for the guy given his backstory and how little Tyreen seemed to care about him. His last words sound as if he is about to cry, and he collapses next to his sister's body.
  • Typhon's death. Yes, you only know him for about 45 minutes, but he's still quirky and likable enough that it's pretty sad. Even more so when you consider that Tannis seems to be getting feelings for him, only to have her dreams crushed. Typhon's death can be even more poignant if the player has been collecting his logs, you know his story, you know what he's done, and after adventuring with him in person you know he's one of the few decent people who's trying to help you without an ulterior motive. Even his last words are poignant, he knows full well he's indirectly responsible for unleashing a pair of monsters who could very well doom the universe upon civilization, and that he's dying in the company of relative strangers, with nothing but regret and shame to lace his final words.
    Typhon: You gotta stop's too late for me. Just promise me something...don't be the last Vault Hunters.
  • Lilith's Heroic Sacrifice at the end of the game, where she flies into Elpis to prevent it crashing into Pandora. At the cost of ending her own life by overloading herself on her powers, she forms a beautiful flaming moon shield around Elpis, in the shape of a crowned phoenix that is visible to all on Pandora. The woman known as the Firehawk is gone, but she will forever leave her mark on the planet she's defended for years.

    Side Missions and Collectibles 
  • A sidequest was given by Tannis, known as Childhood's End, details Angel's happy childhood before becoming a Siren. As it turned out, all it took was one bandit attack for Angel to accidentally kill her mother and Jack to begin his descent into evil. To twist the knife further, Jack makes it clear despite Angel's insistence that she never meant to do it, he doesn't care. Jack proceeds to punish Angel for her one mistake over her entire life, from forcing her to be his personal supercomputer, to manipulating her into thinking that the first generation of Vault Hunters are her friends, to ensuring that she gets addicted to Eridium by pumping it into her bloodstream. It's no wonder that Angel was so desperate that she was driven to suicide.
    • Perhaps the most depressing bit is that, throughout the quest, Jack sounds...normal. He sounds like a loving father, devoid of the smarm and cheek of his Handsome ego. But then, in the last log, as he's hooking Angel up to her machines, that tone of voice returns. We hear the Jack we're more familiar with, attempting to justify what he's doing to his daughter. Handsome Jack wasn't born when Lilith punched the Vault symbol into his face...he was in there, all that time. Waiting to get out.
    • On one of the walls you can see a picture Angel drew around the events of the first game, of herself and the first Vault Hunters, written on it is "New Friends", which demonstrates just how alone she was that even the smallest interactions with someone other than Jack - albeit it mostly feeding lines from him to them - were enough for her to consider friendship and the implication that she was even younger than she sounded during that game.
    • Maya and Lilith's deaths mean they're not just down two Vault Hunters but Sirens, meaning the Crimson Raiders and the new Vault Hunters will have to prepare for future threats without them in upcoming DLCs. And with Tannis and Ava still learning about their own powers, it's left to Amara to do the heavy work.
  • Hammerlock grew close to some of his cellmates when he was captured. Sadly, most of them were either killed or forcefully Anointed and lost their minds. By the time you find the last survivor, Hammerlock is practically in tears.
  • A Jerkass Maliwan soldier reading Ava's diary over the ECHO and laughing about it. While it does make Ava come across as an Emo Teen, it's not really a laughing matter as her diary records the loss of her family and resorting to stealing just to survive. It really hammers home that the Borderlands universe is cruel and uncaring beyond any extreme.
  • Grace, a girl that Mordecai taught to shoot, was killed by Pandoran wildlife while he was on Eden-6. This can become crueler as the quest is to attend her birthday and the Vault Hunter can break her records. Alternatively, the Vault Hunter can choose instead to underperform intentionally, leaving her records intact and uplifting her father’s spirits.
  • After Typhon's death, the last side quest available has you perform a memorial service for his robots, Sparrow and Grouse. Sparrow's grieving, while Grouse acts like he couldn't care less. Until you collect the Echo Logs with his last words, and Grouse breaks down crying after Typhon calls the two his best buds.
  • Putting VR-0N1CA together is a mixture of heartwarming and funny, as you're directly assisting Claptrap in making a new friend to hang out with him. Even amidst all his obnoxious comments on finding certain parts, you can't help but hope that this pays off. And then, finally, you anxiously await VR-0N1CA's response to her finally being completed... only to sharply and brutally inform Claptrap that she's extremely sick of his behavior and outright dumping his ass. Poor Claptrap is left bewildered at her sudden hostility, and he's left a crying, broken mess as she wheels herself away to Moxxi's.

Moxxi's Heist of the Handsome Jackpot
  • In Timothy's hideout, there's a list reminding him that he's nothing like Jack, that he's more than a mask. Considering that some of his fellow doppelgangers died because of Jack's face despite their goodwill and being spliced with Jack's DNA has him thinking about strangling kittens, one must wonder how often he has to look at that list.
  • When Timothy is betrayed by one of the heist crew and sent to Pretty Boy, Moxxi continues with the heist, ignoring whenever Timothy is tortured over the Echo. You'd think she only has her eyes on Jack's casino, but when the casino threatens to fall into a black hole, she doesn't want to abandon Timothy or lose another person to Jack's posthumous machinations.note 
  • The side mission Heart of Gold, where you help a Loader Bot named Joy set up a picnic. It would be heartwarming, but he admits that he is defective and that his power core was running out of juice. This picnic was on his bucket list. Then he literally pours money out of his heart as thanks. Why can’t nice things last in Borderlands?
    Joy: I had a nice day.
    • The impact of this sidequest is even heavier given that Borderlands has a long and somewhat tired history of using seemingly nice robots turning out to be murderous as a punchline, and they intentionally exploit that familiarity by setting the joke up in precisely the same way. Then they pull the rug out from under you, and it hurts even more.
    • What's worse is the poor bot knows he can't have the "perfect" picnic he wanted because the resources just aren't there, but the fact that you tried is what matters to him.
    • The way he sits down at his picnic site, the player might be fooled into thinking he'd just stay there and be an NPC you can interact with from time to time. Then he asks the Vault Hunter to stay with him in that special way that makes it painfully clear he knows what's coming and it becomes clear to you that he's almost out of time. Once he literally pours his heart of gold out to you in the form of cash he just... slumps over with no fanfare.
    • What makes the mission more impactful are how the Vault Hunters act nothing but sweet towards him and happily fulfill his requests. And they don't utter a single word during the reveal or after he dies. It's safe to say they were all rendered speechless.
    • It's probably even worse if you're playing as FL4K, who is the only other Vault Hunter in Borderlands history to be a robot. Given that they're incredibly old and intelligent, it's very likely they're aware of the threats robots can face - random glitches, software errors, the works. So when they come across Joy and then see his demise from a power core running out of energy... their silence may not just be from sorrow. It could be also terror at the fact that one day, they themselves may suffer a similar fate. Even though they know Ellie on Sanctuary, who may be able to fix them up if they break, it's still likely a terrifying eventuality they'll have to deal with.

Guns, Love, and Tentacles

  • Gaige makes a comeback and yes, she has heard what happened to her old Vault Hunting buddy.
    Gaige: Heard about Maya. Damn.
  • Revealed gameplay from Guns, Love, and Tentacles: The Marriage of Wainwright & Hammerlock has Gaige offhandedly mention that before Hammerlock asked her to plan his wedding, she hadn't seen people in a while because she had to go back on the run, with the implication that Gaige has spent much of the last seven years almost completely alone aside from Deathtrap.
    • She also makes offhanded comments implying a prior addiction to chewing on electrical wires as a teenager and she may now be an alcoholic, having fitted Deathtrap with a margarita dispenser. Despite that, she seems just as chipper as ever, it is clear that life since leaving the Vault Hunters has not been easy on her.
    • Later on, she makes another offhanded comment about how she misses having friends, and when she has to send Deathtrap to the Vault Hunters she says that she does not like being away from him and sounds particularly upset - Deathtrap has been her only company for so long that she gets separation anxiety when forced to be away from him. Not long after this she comments she wants to stress-eat one of his omelets to deal with him not being there.
    • She breaks down completely when it appears that Deathtrap has been destroyed, sobbing that he is all she has left. Luckily it was only a Disney Death, but it does not negate the fact that Gaige has been cripplingly lonely and isolated for a long time. Again it's even worse if you're playing as FL4K who once again sees a fellow robot shut down.
  • While checking out the venue with Wainwright, he expresses insecurity over him and Hammerlock's differences while Hammerlock does the same while helping you hunt down the Wendigo. Elanor uses these interactions as proof that their love could never work and is doomed to failure and as the DLC wears on more cynical players may start to think that the story is heading towards heartbreak. Thankfully, this turns into a happy tearjerker when in the end Wainwright and Hammerlock prove that their love is strong enough to make it and they actually get married. By you!
  • Burton Briggs's line of missions has the Vault Hunters help him solve the mystery of his amnesia. As the case unfolds, the real cause of his amnesia is revealed to not be a curse, but the trauma of Burton accidentally killing his daughter Iris when the Bonded cultists used her as a host for Vincent. The last mission requires the Vault Hunters to free Iris's ghost from being trapped between dimensions, leading to a heartbreaking (for Borderlands) scene where Iris says goodbye to Burton before she fades away peacefully.
  • There's something tragic about the fact that the villains of the DLC, Elanor, and Vincent, are such vile and detestable people. The way they take The Power of Love and twist it into something selfish and uncaring of others tugs at the heartstrings when you get to see them in the past via holo-recordings. While they talk much the same and are a pair of diabetes-inducing Sickening Sweethearts, their love for each other is genuine and strong. The only reason Vincent allows himself to be consumed by Gythian's heart is that he's dying and their quest for immortality was so they wouldn't have to be separated by something so cruel and random as disease.
    • After defeating them in the DLC's final fight, instead of raging against you for killing them they simply crawl towards each other and embrace, knowing that at least they won't be separated long. It's almost pitiable.
    • Elanor's reaction to Deathtrap actually breaking her barrier over the venue from a certain point of view. Throughout the DLC she's been convinced Gythian's power is absolute and unmatched, proof that her love and life are destined to be eternal. Seeing that Gythian's power isn't unbeatable sends her into a full-on Villainous Breakdown as she realizes she may be more mortal than she thinks.

Bounty of Blood

  • Rose and her dinosaur Toge, who she raised from its birth. When Toge gets injured, Rose seemed worried and checks its injuries...then shoots it after noticing it won't be able to walk well. That she doesn't even give a second thought to it may make players sad.
  • The death of the Sheriff, especially on his deputy Titus and the ex-raider Juno, who got protection from no one else and is promoted as the new sheriff. The shouting match between the two expresses this well.

Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck

  • Krieg has learned of Maya's death and has already come to accept it. But he can't bear the thought of losing her memory to his insanity. This manifests as the Locomobius, a sentient train come to take her away. When it kidnaps her she has a heartbroken look on her face and begs Krieg not to let go of her in his mind.
  • How Psycho Krieg thinks the Crimson Raiders see him as: a psycho only good for murder.
  • In one side mission, Sane Krieg tries blowing himself up in front of the player, though his efforts are useless…so he keeps trying (until the player slaps him)
    • He admits he’ll never get better and has a lot of self-loathing for his own existence and it’s only when the vault hunters give him meaningful advice that he begins to self-reflect.
  • When the Vault Hunters see the memory of Maya, they are all saddened. Zane uncharacteristically is softspoken, Moze's voice quivers when she sees her, FL4k only solemnly utters her name, but Amara's is the saddest of all: she plaintively says "Sister..." For Amara, she felt a deeper connection to Maya than the others despite knowing her just as long due to both of them being sirens.