In a heavy Cosmic Horror Story with Permadeath, a cast full of Woobies, and crossing the Despair Event Horizon being a gameplay mechanic, stress is bound to build up outside the game as well.
- The Hamlet, which is surprisingly tragic and moody for a simple town theme. Having to hear it after returning from an expedition from which you lost one or more of your favorite party members, however...
- The backstory comics for the heroes. Not one of them has a happy ending. After all, why would happy people willingly subject themselves to the horrors of this place? It also makes a few of the character's lines Harsher in Hindsight.
- For the Abomination◊, we watch as he is subjected to Cold-Blooded Torture by a group of priests, who stick a hot poker to his head and brand him with his Mark of Shame. At the very least, it didn't end well for most of them.
- The one for the Arbalest◊ is probably the most bleak of them all. Her father arrives home, with a fatal injury in his stomach as he is chased by an angry mob. He takes the stuffed rabbit toy she was holding, and gives her her now iconic crossbow before tearfully sending her out the back. The Arbalest, alone and crying with crossbow in hand, walks into the woods as her home burns behind her.
- The Crusader◊ was a simple farm's hand who was enlisted into the Crusades, leaving behind his wife and son. While he was once a humble husband, the comics show him having Took a Level in Badass as he utterly destroys those he comes across and leads at the very least a small army. At some point he stops by his old home again and sees his family waving to the soldiers, considers for a moment, before hesitantly turning back.
- When the Crusader leaves his home, his son is barely older than a toddler. By the time he sees them again, the boy is almost as tall as his mother.
- The reason why the Grave Robber◊ is what she is was because she went into heavy debt after the loss of a family member (presumably her husband) and robbed his grave after realizing he had valuable jewelry on him. The last shot is her giving herself a Significant Wardrobe Shift. Her quotes make it very clear that she is not happy about her situation.
- Her backstory in the second game makes things even worse. The husband in question was an abusive asshole of a noble, and she'd killed him herself by poisoning his drink when she'd had enough of his abuse. Worse, the reason she was in debt was because he had squandered all of the family fortune, and the grave-robbing that would kickstart her new career came about because she was determined not to be left a pauper by the man who had made her life a living hell.
- Given that he is on the hero's side, it is easy to mistake the Highwayman as being a more Gentleman Thief Anti-Hero. His backstory◊ reveals that he was a cold and ruthless murderer, possibly was affiliated with the brigands, taking down several people. He looks toward the direction of the carriage they were guiding (likely hearing a noise from inside) and shoots at it out of reflex. But when he peers into the shot through window... he finds that he murdered a mother and child, which deeply disturbed him into becoming The Atoner. This makes his claim that he Wouldn't Hurt a Child a lot more bitter sounding.
- For extra Tear Jerker, the class-specific trinket "Shameful Locket" may imply that it was his own family he murdered.
- The comic for the Leper◊ reveals that he is no ordinary peasant, but a King Incognito. Judging by the crowd that was waiting for him outside the room he was in, he was presumably The Good King at that, having gained support and respect from his people. But due to having gotten leprosy, he chose to exile himself from his homeland, leaving what was supposed to be a celebration to making the people openly weep for him, as pictured above. His people clearly loved him and want him to return home, even despite his disease.
- The Man-at-Arms◊ was shown to have a degree of Shell-Shocked Veteran before, but his backstory reveals that he was the Sole Survivor of his platoon after a particularly nasty battle. The sequel makes it even worse, because it's revealed he was their commanding officer; due to office politics, he was promoted long before he was ready, leaving him to bemoan that the worst thing that happened to his men was letting him be in charge.
- The Hound Master◊'s comic reveals what was suspected from his trinket: that the very police he worked for were corrupted. But worse yet: they weren't just dirty cops, they were part of the Flesh Cult! The horror on his face at the sight makes it pretty clear why he left and became the broken adventurer we see in-game. The only solace is that the Bounty Hunter brought justice upon the corrupt in the end.
- The Shieldbreaker's comic◊ and attached journals show that she was Made a Slave because of her beauty and grace as a dancer, only to break free and kill her captors... but the act of escaping crippled her, trapping her under a piece of wreckage and leaving her vulnerable when a viper bit her. To save her life, she sawed off her own arm, and now the experience leaves her with horrific nightmares made manifest.
- The Jester's comic◊ confirms that he comes from a Decadent Court who mistreated and mocked him for so long, including spitting on him and throwing knives at him. One day he plays a song about his woes and was met with little approval, so he grabbed a nearby knife and proceeded to murder everyone in the room before leaving. While this comic seemingly has a less bleak ending than most of the other comics, Fridge Horror kicks in when you see the doorway he leaves from has the stress symbol pattern bearing over his head. Then wonder why the Jester is seemingly so unhinged.
- Hellions comic◊ starts off with her and several members of her clan planning an ambush against a regiment of knights. As her clan enacts their ambush, the Hellion... freezes. What ensues is a total Curbstomp Battle as the knights decimate the Hellions clansmen. Even as her clansmen shout out her name, she couldnt bring herself to fight. This resulted in her exile from her clan for her cowardice and likely the reason why shes an alcoholic, unstable mess of a Blood Knight.
- Imagine you're a decent few weeks into the game. You've lost a fair amount of your early heroes, but you're starting to get the hang of things now with a fresh batch of explorers. One of them successfully scouts ahead in a dungeon, and not only that, reveals a hidden room with a locked chest! And imagine the shock and despair one might feel upon finding within the chest, stuffed in a bag nestled between a couple of valuable stones, Dismas's head.
- Though it can be darkly hilarious if said adventurer who discovers it is Dismas himself. Or maybe even more unsettling. Even more so if you decide to have him equip it (it's not a bad idea to do so either given the bonuses).
- And in the final battle against The Heart of Darkness, during the course of the final phase of the fight, you're forced to sacrifice two of your party members. Not only did you have to invest huge amounts of time and resources to get them to a level to even face the Heart, but the game sadistically forces YOU to choose which party member dies! Some heroes are willing to take one for the team, others... not so much.
- Even worse, their sacrifice is ultimately in vain. As the Ancestor so eloquently states, this is only a temporary victory. The darkness is not destroyed, but merely sent back into slumber. It will return one day when humanity has forgotten and is unprepared, and when it does there will only be more death and devastation.
- Faced with all of this, and unable to look at their fellow man without seeing visceral eldritch horrors, the Heir takes their own life at the end of the game and becomes a ghost haunting the grounds. Worse, depending on how you interpret the various quotes hinting at a Vicious Cycle, they may be trapped there for all eternity with countless other shades of themselves.
- A minor note compared to all the above, but as the camera pans across the Hamlet, its buildings can be seen falling back into the disrepair you found them in when you first arrived. Even your attempts at rebuilding the Hamlet were all for nothing.
- Some of the classes who die to the Heart of Darkness still hold fast even in the face of annihilation. This does not make their last words any less depressing or tragic. The worst of these is probably the Houndmaster:Houndmaster: Steady, girl. If we're called, we answer.
Antiquarian: So I'm the final antique, yet there will be nothing around to collect...
- Though the Antiquarian's final words do have their own tragic view.
- While most of the heroes choose to Face Death with Dignity or even defiantly challenge the Heart of Darkness in their final moments, the Arbalest, Grave Robber, Jester, Plague Doctor, and Vestal are absolutely terrified of the prospect of sacrificing themselves and plead out with you not to kill them. Although a recent update has changed some of the lines.Arbalest: Please, no! I want to live!Grave Robber: A proper lady does not volunteer herself for slaughter!Jester: Hah! The joke's on me then...?Plague Doctor: No! Not me! I am a learned scholar!Vestal: I-It's too horrible! Noooo!
Abomination: Whatever awaits, it cannot be worse than what I've endured.
- The Abomination, however, is especially sad, as he sees death as a kind release rather than something to be feared. Given how much he has suffered in the past for what he is, he finds sacrificing himself to a pure cosmic horror as a preferable alternative to continuing to live.
- The Crimson Court DLC introduces special class-specific trinkets that, if paired up, provide extra bonuses to the holder. The paired trinkets have a quote in the description that describes the class, and some of them are pretty sad, especially if you're aware of the backstories of the characters:Abomination: I must hide from the world.Arbalest: I remember my father's kindly eyes.Crusader: I will forget them. Regret is sin.Flagellant: We're all falling apart...Hellion: Outcast. Alone. Shamed.Highwayman: A reflex - I didn't mean to...Houndmaster: Even the chief was in on it.Leper: The last treasures of a King.Man-at-Arms: Glory days? Hmph.Shieldbreaker: Broken and Beautiful.
- The trinkets added to the characters without an official backstory comment are less than pleasant, too. The Plague Doctor was kicked out of the university for experimenting on a test subject (who the comic reveals was her teacher), the Houndmaster was shunned out of the law by corruption from within, the Jester is confirmed to have come from a Decadent Court and the flavor text of having the last laugh on a tyrant may imply he was abused within it, the Hellion mentioning she was an outcast to her tribe, and even The Stoic Bounty Hunter was on some personal Roaring Rampage of Revenge quest.
- Many of the afflicted quotes fall into this category when they're not being abusive Jerkasses, especially if it comes from one of your favorites. Every class (except the Flagellant) has at least one:Masochistic Abomination: Perhaps this violence will soothe it, keep it sleeping...Fearful Antiquarian: I...I would give all my gold to be gone from here!Hopeless Arbalest: What is it I ran away from?Fearful Bounty Hunter: We've been dealt out! Let us go!Hopeless Crusader: How can I fight for truth when I betray all I love?Hopeless Hellion: My spirit longs for the open air I'll never breathe again.Hopeless Grave Robber: I was a Lady once. Now, little more than a burglar.Fearful Houndmaster: The pursuit of justice leads only to agony and death!Irrational Jester: HA HAAAA! (sobbing) HA HAAHAAAA! (sobbing) Hee-hee!Masochistic Leper: The dead long for torture to FEEL once more!Hopeless Plague Doctor: I have nothing... I offer little more than a corpse.
- Many, many Hopeless barks can be chilling, as many of them all but state that the hero has become suicidal.
- Fearful barks are also quite distressing, especially the Vestal, who may have tears streaming down her face when forced to fight.
- Some of the Ancestor's quotes when dismissing a hero can hit the strings:Suffer not the lame horse, nor the broken man.
Another soul battered and broken, cast aside like a spent torch.
Slumped shoulders, wild eyes, and a stumbling gait this one is no more good to us.
- The Color of Madness DLC may give us the most pitiable boss of the entire game. The Miller was an innocent man who approached the Ancestor to beg for aid after his harvest failed for a second year in a row. Seizing the opportunity, the Ancestor ordered the Miller and his farmhands to erect enchanted stone slabs around his farm turning it into a giant celestial array, hired sadistic foremen to drive the Miller, his family and his workers like slaves all while cruelly hoping that the mill would be destroyed by whatever his experiments might summon. Soon after the Ancestor killed himself, a comet fell from the sky, smashing into the mill and releasing a mist that turned everything it covered into crystal. The Miller, his family and workers went to investigate and became lost in the mists and mutated into broken crystalline husks. Now all the Miller can do is wander through the time distorted mists, desperately seeking his loved ones and never able to find them.
The poor Miller. Thrice a victim. The seasons took his livelihood. I took his land. And, incountable years later, the comet has taken his humanity.
- His monster category is unique: Poor Soul.
- Even the Ancestor acknowledges how cruel the world has been to the Miller. Of course, a large part of the Miller's misery is due to the Ancestor's own actions...
- Made even worse by the fact that your party can meet a similarly crystallized and time-lost woman named Mildred at the Farmstead, who gives them a trinket, "Mildred's Locket", which increases the holder's power against the Miller and reduces the damage they take from him. The locket has a picture of the Miller in it . Furthermore, if you have this locket equipped when you battle the Miller, he uses a move called "Immortal Beloved" in which he simply cries out in anguish, foregoing an attack and gaining a debuff. He even has a locket of his own around his neck that has a picture of Mildred in it.
- The Butcher's Circus DLC adds hero corpses to the game. The Houndmaster's is the most tragic since it depicts his dog mourning over his bloodied corpse.
- Heroes who've been to the Darkest Dungeon and lived to tell about it will be forever traumatized by the experience, their barks in the relative safety of the Hamlet changing to reflect this regardless of how much stress they have. These poor souls, even in victory, have been irreparably damaged as a result of your lamentable crusade.
- If you send a hero to the brothel, they may say in their bark that they just want to be held for now.