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Tear Jerker / Captain America: The First Avenger

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He survives... in the worst possible way.
  • There's a bit when Steve and Bucky are on a double date and Steve offers his date a bag of peanuts, only to get glared at in return. It's brief, but it gives you an idea of how marginalized Steve has felt for most of his life.
  • Erskine neatly harpooning the notion that All Germans Are Nazis with one sentence:
    Erskine: People forget that the first country the Nazis invaded was their own.
    • The very heartsick way he tells Steve that the schnapps they're about to drink comes from "Ausburg, my city." Whilst he might be committed to the fight against Nazi Germany, the forlorn way he looks at his only link to his home makes it clear that Germany nevertheless IS his home. A home he's denied and a home that he'll never see again.
    • We really know very little about Erskine. Was he one of the minorities that the Nazis hated, marginalized at best and hated at worst, forced to flee to America for his own safety? Was he considered 'acceptable' by the monsters that took over his country, and eagerly invited to further their wrongdoing? And while he had all faith in the fact that Steve would use his newfound power right, he died before he could see all that his friend and protegé could do. Erskine gave his life to make "the first step to peace", as he says. It's no wonder he appreciates Steve's best qualities, because they are his own.
    • The tie-in comics reveal that his father-in-law was Jewish. The Erskine family was fleeing to Geneva before the announcement that non-Jews married to Jews will be punished. Their train was stopped. Abraham was taken captive by HYDRA. His wife Marlene and son Klaus, Jewish by blood, were transported to the Dachau concentration camp and killed in a typhus outbreak. Agent 13 breaks the news to Abraham when she rescues him - all this time, Schmidt had conveniently neglected to mention his family's death, because he needed leverage to threaten Abraham with.
  • When Bucky is rescued by Steve, he can be heard deliriously muttering the same thing under his breath over and over again: his name, rank, and serial number, one of the few things captive soldiers are allowed to tell their captors. If the room he was in didn't convince you he was being tortured (or being experimented on in preparation for being transformed into the Winter Soldier), then that should do the trick.
  • In a strange way, the kiss scene between the secretary and Steve is incredibly sad, because not only is it made clear that Steve is pretty uncomfortable with what's going on, but also that the woman's not really interested in him at all. She doesn't care about the giant sweetheart of a man we've all been falling in love with for the past hour, she's interested in his looks and in Captain America, and when you add in the fact that it was probably his first kiss, it becomes even worse.
    • It's also a brief one for Peggy. Imagine walking in on someone you like snogging someone else—and then they accuse you of going at it with another person as well!
  • Dr. Erskine getting shot and dying in Steve's arms. He's not able to talk in his final breaths, but points to Steve's heart to remind him that even with his new strength, he must always stay true to who he really is. "A good man."
  • Bucky falling off a train to his death, with Steve screaming in despair for not being able to catch him.
    • To make matters worse, due to his enhanced metabolism, he can't get drunk.
    • The above is even Harsher in Hindsight if you know anything about the Winter Soldier...
    • If you look at the scene closely, you see that their hands touch for just a second before Bucky falls...
    • While interrogating the captured Dr. Zola, Colonel Phillips refers to Bucky as "Captain Rogers's closest friend", showing how much he understands Steve's loss.
    • One wonders if the fact Phillips told Zola that Bucky was Steve's closest friend contributed to the decision to convert him into the Winter Soldier...
  • The final conversation over the radio between Peggy and Steve. Them making plans to go dancing even though they both know Steve isn't going to make it and then the signal being cut off.
    "We'll have the band play something slow. I'd hate to step on your--"
    • Even Phillips is trying not to cry, which somehow makes it sadder.
    • Combined with Heartwarming, you can see Phillips in the background tap Morita on the arm and gesture to him to clear the room. He wants to let Peggy and Steve say goodbye in private.
    • The look on her face when Steve quotes her own words back to her about respecting people's choices. At that moment, she knows that no amount of pleading from her will get him to change his mind, even if it means they'll never get to see each other again.
    • How heartbroken Peggy sounds when she repeatedly says "Steve?" after the radio cuts off, along with the frantic way she presses the intercom button, as if by doing so, she'll somehow get him to respond again. When she cries, you just want to cry with her.
    • "I had a date."
    • The fact that he just found out he'd been asleep for 70 years and that everyone he ever knew or loved is dead, especially Peggy. The look on his face says it all.
      • By the sequel, he's learned that Peggy is alive (but very old and bed-ridden) and visits her. Unfortunately, she has Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia. By the next sequel, her time has run out.
    • We see the plane crashed on the snow, with a hint that Steve could have walked away from it easily if he wasn't knocked out. But then the snow starts melting...
  • Howard Stark's reaction upon finding the Cosmic Cube: "Just keep looking."
    • Double that if you remember what Nick Fury said about Howard in Iron Man 2. Howard later went on to become a founding member of S.H.I.E.L.D.. That's right. Howard helped found a group that was undoubtedly named in Captain America's honor.
      • Didn't Ward say something about someone really wanting the organization's initials to spell SHIELD?
    • Made even sadder in Agent Carter when it is revealed just how much Steve meant to Howard. The season 1 finale reveals that Howard considers his greatest failure to be Steve's death and that his greatest wish is to bring him home.
  • After Cap crashes the plane and is presumed dead, the film cuts to people celebrating the end of the war... and then we see the remnants of the Howling Commandos, somberly raising a glass to their fallen friend whilst everyone around them is in high spirits.
    • Made worse when you consider that thousands and thousands of scenes like that happened at the end of the real-life war, as men toasted their fallen brothers.
  • The above is followed by a scene of the SSR closing up shop, as we see Peggy tearfully looking at Captain America's file, then opening it to reveal a picture of pre-Super-Soldier Serum Steve. That, coupled with the somber music playing in the background never fails to make the tears flow.
  • Tear Jerker by way of Freeze-Frame Bonus and Fridge Horror: Steve's birthday was July 4, 1918. He says his father died in a mustard gas attack while serving in the 107th Infantry. Steve's father likely was killed in the trenches in World War I. Given the timing of the U.S. entry into the war (April 1917) and the Armistice (November 1918), it's more than likely that Steve's father never met his son, and, in fact, had already been killed before Steve was even born.
  • One that is so easy to miss: when Steve is watching the wartime newsreel, there's a line that says something like "for our troops, the price of freedom is never too high." This is said as an unnervingly still soldier is being carried off on a stretcher. Then it cuts to a teary-eyed female patron sitting next to an empty seat, leading one to think someone she loved has possibly met his end in the war already. Gives Steve asking the rude loudmouth to show some respect a new weight, doesn't it?
    • Doubly meaningful in hindsight, as "the price of freedom is high" are exactly the words Cap uses to spur the loyal S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to action against HYDRA in the sequel.
  • Morita's line about being from Fresno can count as this and Fridge Horror. Fresno County, California is where the Pinesdale Assembly Center was located, one of the Japanese internment camps of WW2. Morita's family is probably in the camp and the only reason he's not is that he enlisted.