Swedish children's comic Bamse (which is aimed at really young children, like "just learned to read" ones) has this in the origin story of one of the series' villains (Wolf) let's see: orphaned at birth, raised by three abusive criminals, forced to help them commit crimes, wolf meets she-wolf, she-wolf teaches wolf to read, wolf's parents make him break in at she-wolf, wolf gets caught but escapes with help of she-wolf, wolf tries to get a job but can't because of earlier criminal behavior, wolf becomes pissed off, wolf thinks of she-wolf a lot. Wolf eventually meets main character of comics, and after continuously being thwarted wolf eventually performs his FaceHeel Turn. That should do it, right? Not precisely, wolf still thinks of she-wolf, eventually meets up with her by accident. Happy ending, right? Not quite. She's married, with two children. Sad wolf.
And then they make it even worse by quoting Fröding...
Most of the comics written after September 11 and published in the 9/11 memorial collection provoke this, but one in particular is especially moving; it outlines the story of a young man who berates himself for his inability to really feel anything after the attacks, blaming his exposure to popular culture and the jading, desensitizing effect it has had on him after bombarding him with so many terrible images over the years. It lasts until he hears The Beatles' "Let It Be" on his car radio when driving home the night after the attacks... and has to pull over as the tears flood out of him.
The sequence with the small boy waiting for his Dad. The boy is sitting amongst the rubble when Spidey comes up to him. When asked what he's doing there, the boy replies that he's waiting for his father. The next panel shows firemen carrying his father out, clearly dead. His response..."DADDY!!!"
A woman trapped in the rubble is saved by a fireman, who pulls her out of the debris and helps her out to the EMTs. He smiles reassuringly behind his oxygen-mask, then turns around and heads back in. We end with the woman, with a bandage or two, paying her respects to a Missing poster of the firefighter who saved her. The woman's narration doesn't help the reader to man up and not cry.
The story with the two cartoon birds flying around speaking in rhyme. The poem ends with "I know you are / But what am I?"
Judd Winick's Pedro & Me: the true story of Pedro Zamora, AIDS activist, housemate on The Real World, and all-round beautiful human being, is so sad and so moving.
Don't believe a story about an anthropomorphic bunny can make you cry? "A Mother's Love", one of Stan Sakai's earlier Usagi Yojimbo stories, ends with the rabbit ronin killing a old woman at her own request as she cradles and sings to her son, whom she has just murdered to end his brutal rule over their village.
To say nothing of the stunner at the conclusion of Fathers and Sons. Right at the moment when Usagi decides to not tell Jotaro of his true parentage, even though it breaks his heart... right at the very moment he's almost out of earshot, a tearful Jotaro confides that he knew Usagi was his father all along! If that doesn't make one a little misty-eyed, nothing will.
In Serenity: Better Days, what Wash sees his and Zoe's future as with the money the crew have found. If you've watched the movie, you will understand.
In #5 of the original series, Leetah is refusing to submit to her Recognition with Cutter, because she's too proud to give in to an involuntary mating urge. Cutter, the tough young wolf-blooded elf punk chieftain, turns to her with tears in his eyes and tells her "I'm not sure I can live without you".
Flash forward to #16... Cutter and Leetah are now happily lifemated and have a pair of children, but last issue they got caught up in a battle and Cutter was grievously wounded. The cover shows Leetah weeping, but we don't know if it's because he's dead or alive. Later that issue, when it's finally revealed that Cutter will live, we see Cutter's best friend Skywise, who's been keeping his emotions under tight rein up to that point, hugging Cutter's children fiercely and weeping while they do their best to comfort him. Note: the following link contains other story spoilers: link.
There's also the death of Nightrunner, the farewell to One-Eye, and most of all, the death of STARJUMPER. That last one especially because of how hard Skywise tried to save him.
Early Alan Moore comic The Ballad of Halo Jones has a heartbreaking moment between Halo and her best friend Toy. They've both signed up for the army and are fighting a war in a remote region of a remote planet. Their unit gets ambushed on their first real sortie and all the soldiers except Toy and Halo are killed. Toy is injured, so Halo helps her limp along, and eventually fashions a stretcher so she can drag Toy to their HQ, keeping a determinedly positive attitude all the while despite the grim circumstances. And then she arrives and tells the medic to attend to Toy, and the medic takes one look at Toy and says "How long has she been dead?" Halo's answer: a quietly stunned "What?"
Glyph. No-one being able to remember its existence even after it died to save Halo's life.
Good As Lily by Derek Kirk Kim and Jesse Hamm. The premise of the story is that an eighteen-year-old girl named Grace is suddenly accompanied by versions of herself aged six, twenty-nine and seventy. For seventy pages it's not clear why this has happened or what the title means, and then the six-year-old Grace starts acting up, and eighteen-year-old Grace reveals that she had a sister called Lily who died when she, Grace, was six — and her parents were so wrapped up in their own grief that they couldn't help Grace through hers. Finally Grace confronts her parents:
Grace: Mom, Dad... d-do you sometimes wish I had died instead of Lily?
Mom: ...Grace, don't you ever ask that question again. Do you hear me? If you ever ask us that again, you are grounded for a year! [hugs Grace] Oh, I'm a terrible mother! I'm sorry, honey, I'm so sorry...
Grace: No, Mom, I...
Mom: Grace, we love you so so much. I'm so sorry if we don't seem like we show you enough...
Dad: Grace-ya, you have our love for two daughters all to yourself. And that's not only because of Lily's death. We're that proud of you.
Caption: That night I slept with my 6-year-old self in my arms. She — I — slept like an angel. The first real sleep since Lily's death.
"When the Wind Blows" is nothing but Tear Jerker. The worst bit of it was how completely ignorant the couple in the story are of their fate while the reader is sobbing on their behalf.
"No one forgets. No one." and "He knew her. He knows that. In another time, another world - he knew her. And he loved her. And that makes all the difference."
The Beautie Special.
The death of Marty Chefwick AKA Mock Turtle becomes really sad when you look back at his telling the reader they should never give up on their dreams, because his has come true.
Especially if you consider the fact that the Turtle thought that the residents of Kiefer Square had saved him from the Chessmen because they considered him to be one of them/their friend despite the fact that they'd never seen him before. In reality, they had done it because they mistakenly thought that the Chessmen were responsible for the string of killings up to that point.
Blankets by Craig Thompson certainly counts as one big Tearjerker, even despite it's Doorstopper status.
Doctor Who: The Forgotten. In the final scene, the Doctor speaks to the TARDIS, which has helped him in his Journey to the Center of the Mind by taking the forms of several of his companions. He begs her to take one final form before he goes, leaving the audience to incorrectly assume he means Rose. But the next page has him rushing forth to hug and apologize to the ghost of his granddaughter Susan.
Susan: Grandfather, I always loved you, and I know that in your heart of hearts you made the right decision. But now it's time for you to move on, time for you to be left behind and start a new life. Look to the light, grandfather. Ignore the darkness ahead. Goodbye.
Doctor Who, in the 2010 special. The Tenth Doctor is sleeping and having a terrible nightmare. He sees past incarnations and companions he either failed to save or left behind, in a dead, burning world, being hounded with a companion he always loses, and is feeling horrible when he meets a small, blue woman. The woman shoves her hand into the Doctor's chest and rips out a small black ball of all his negative feelings, promptly dumping it away. And then the Doctor feels much better and the world suddenly isn't so bad, until he begins walking away... and then the Eleventh Doctor shows up to cheer him up a bit before the regeneration we all know will kill the Tenth Doctor. And then he awakens, and wonders to the TARDIS if she isn't absorbing his bad dreams, before going into another adventure in a colorful world...
I Kill Giants: The main character has spent an indefinite amount of her young life preparing to battle a giant in order to save her mother. We are lead to believe that this and all supernatural aspects of the story are simply in her head and her mother is simply dying of cancer. Then a TITAN (they're like a hundred times worse than giants) attacks. She fights it and, against all odds wins. Then the titan tells her, he was never coming for her mother, but for her. Her mother is simply dying of cancer. There's nothing she can do.
The Darwyn Cooke version of The Spirit has an issue that focuses in flashback on the friendship and burgeoning romance between Denny Colt and Sand Sarif, which is cut short by the tragic death of Denny's uncle and foster father and Sand's father in a robbery gone wrong. Blaming Denny by proxy, Sand cuts ties and begins to slip down a slippery slope into crime. Despite Denny's desperate attempts to help her, each time she sees him after this she rejects him with increasing bitterness and cruelty... until one night when, after murdering her lover, she comes to him, desperate and not knowing who else to turn to, her one last chance for salvation and redemption. Unfortunately, she's rejected Denny once too often and just that little bit too cruelly, and he bitterly turns her away.
'The Death of the Red Mask' just brings a tear to one's eye. All he wanted to do... was to be able to fly.
The death of the Psycho Pirate. He just wanted to bring back all the fun characters that he remembered from before the Crisis. It ends up using up his life force and he begins to fade away. His last words? "Smile for me".
Grants's whole conversation with Animal Man is this.
Grant: Maybe, for once, we could try to be kind.
Judge Dredd. America. The whole thing, but especially the last issue. Which manages to be simultaneously brutal Tear Jerker and major Squick.
Deliah: You've come to kill me. It's you, isn't it? You've come... Thank god. Oh thank god.
He already knows that she feels horrible shame for what she had done at Larkhill, so rather than a painful, karmic death as everyone else had been given, he lets her have a final confession of sorts, and promises that her death will be by painless poisoning.
Deliah: Then you are going to kill me
V: [holding up an empty syringe] I killed you ten minutes ago while you were sleeping
Deliah: Is there any pain?
V: No. No pain.
I shall die here. Every last inch of me shall perish. Except one.
Some newspaper comic had a strip after the Columbia disaster where a boy and his dog were sitting in their backyard in a cardboard box they'd painted to resemble a space shuttle and little kiddy space helmets. There's only one speech bubble, where the boy says "Some stars shine brighter than most - to show us all the way.", and in the sky, there are 17 stars, for all the NASA astronauts ever lost in spaceflight.
A comic novel named Laika. It was a rather fictionalized account of Laika the real dog (but still containing some truth), and she honestly had some really tough stuff going through. Because her owners couldn't afford to take care of her they gave her up as a puppy... to a kid's mother who wanted him to learn responsibility. He didn't want the dog and locked her in a closet and refuse to feed her. Then he finally took her for a walk, said she ran away and threw her in the river. That dog loved him! And he just threw her out the window! The girl who owned Laika's birth mother (and her mother) regretted giving her away, and hoped she was safe. But it's not over... she was a stray for awhile and learned to forage on her own from another dog. Then the dogcatcher caught Laika and killed the other dog by stomping on its head. Because the shelter was full, Laika was going to be put to sleep but was saved and given to the animal behavior scientist. And she fell in love with Laika and the other dogs, and there are parts where it seems like Laika and the other dogs are speaking to the woman themselves. And as you all know... Laika died in orbit, as she did in the book and the behavior scientist just couldn't take it anymore and resigned from the space project, while everyone else who knew Laika died after only 5 hours said "...nobody knows about this..." Obviously they regretted it too. Then in a final twist of fate, she walks by the girl who originally had Laika as a puppy and was apparntly on first-name terms with her too. If only she knew the girl wanted her dog's puppy back... the illustrations showing the dog being sealed up in a rocket for over twelve hours before launch and finally dying of asphyxiation would be hard on any dog owner who has ever had a dog who just wanted to be with you.
The novel was written by Nick Abadzis - read it, it's good (but be prepared to cry like a child all through it). The manner in which Abadzis shows Laika's actual flight - where the harsh reality of Laika's confusion and being alone, buffeted by g-forces is contrasted with scientist Yelena's imagination where she and Laika stand safe and together to see the whole world below them - will get to you. And Yelena's troubled dream where Laika, surrounded by terrifying machinery, asks "Don't you want to play with me?"
Laika's actual death, with the alternation between panels of Laika in the rocket, and Laika's death-dream of floating through space through the sun. It wouldn't be so bad, if it weren't for the voice speaking to Laika telling her not to worry, and calling her "good dog".
Johnny the Homicidal Maniac does have some rather depressing comics. The one in which he meets Edgar. Edgar is a religious man who shows no fear in the face of his imminent death and actually gets close to Nny, only for Nny to kill him anyway after admiting he "admired (Edgar's) conviction" and one where he waxes poetic with Nailbunny about his decent into madness and very obvious depression over the fact that he's losing himself to whatever gave real life to the Doughboys. Jhonen might have some understanding about how madness can affect people.
Knowing Johnny started killing people because someone murdered his parents when he was young.
The death of Hyde in the second volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was definitely not your standard tear jerker. Hyde was a monster, and he knew it, completely denying and shooting down anything that would make him sympathetic (his feelings for Mina being love, any desire he might have had to save the world), but somehow him destroying the Martians after saying goodbye to Mina and going to his inevitable death singing and dancing ended up looking really noble. He was an awful person, but he did heroic things; a true anti-hero. Then they named a park after him. You know the one.
The Boys has two. The first is in the first issue, Wee Hughie is holding hands with his girlfriend Robin when superhero A-Train smashes her into a wall. It's not only her death that's a tear jerker it's that right before this they've declared their love for each other in a sweet scene. The other one is in issue #47, Magnificent Bastard Billy Butcher has arranged it so that Wee Hughie sees Annie January aka Starlight of the Seven, blowing three other members of the Seven to get on the team, including A-Train who killed Hughie's girlfriend Hughie and Annie have a verbal fight where Hughie calls Annie every name in the book while Annie calmly tries to explain everything to Hughie. Eventually, Hugie tells Annie that he doesn't want to see her anymore and starts to walk away from her. It's heartbreaking on two levels: Annie had earlier in the issue said that Hughie was the only good thing in her life and they're both clearly just cut up by it.
"Je t'aime. From the first." If you've read 'The Bloody Doors Off', that ought to make you choke up.
Zot!! Any one of the Earth stories counts, but the final issue, The Great Escape, deserves special mention. A lot of it was about how people want to escape reality and into fantasy and such... and that can really hit home.
The second issue of G.I. Joe: Hearts & Minds provides background for the modern version of Tripwire, explaining how he can be so at ease while defusing bombs in tense conditions. While in college, he took a semester abroad at Imperial College London, where he met a girl and fell in love. While working on a bomb, he thinks about all her favorite things, taking his mind off the danger. After his semester was over and before he could come back to the girl who was waiting for him, she was killed in the 7/7 London bombings. He doesn't worry about the bombs because if one does go off, he'll finally be reunited with her.
The death of Katarina in the Nikolai Dante storyline "The Wedding of Jena Makarov". In the aftermath of the rebel assault on the Winter Palace, Katarina is fatally shot by the escaped Vladimir. In spite of being in her death throes, she drags herself to her feet and trudges to the chapel, where she sees Nikolai impaled on one of Arkady/Dmitri's bioblades. Katarina picks up Nikolai's huntsman, takes aim, and shoots Dmitri in the head. Nikolai rushes to his mother and hugs her, but then sees the wound. Katarina says it doesn't matter who shot her, and with her last breath, tells Nikolai that what Dmitri did to her was the worst thing that had ever happened to her, the result was the best thing. Yes, she does love Nikolai, her son.