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Tear Jerker / Death Note

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Even Matsuda can get pushed to despair.

When you have a notebook that can kill people in 40 seconds flat, you know that there will be plenty of heart-wrenching moments in Death Note.

Entries for the Japanese live-action film series go here.

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    Main Series 

Light/L Arc

  • Episode 1: The first episode shows Light as a bored genius struggling to see something in the world worthy of all his efforts, something everyone who has made it into adulthood will know is just a phase until you grow up and assume adult responsibilities and actually find that sense of purpose. Even so, he's clearly working hard to improve himself and not just trying to coast through life. His involvement with his father's work shows a natural sense of civic duty. His reaction to his first - essentially accidental - murder is pure horror, until he rationalizes it away as just the first step in a ridiculous grandiose plan. It's painfully obvious that before the Death Note he was a truly good young man just going through a depression, and that without it he would likely have grown into a fine adult who would have used his gifts constructively to actually make the world a better place, and found meaning in that. And that's the first and greatest tragedy of the series.
    • While this doesn't happen in the manga, in the anime Light finds the Death Note so silly that he actually puts it back on the ground after reading the first rule, and starts walking away. He came so close to avoiding the Death Note's curse and living a normal life. And then he turned back around.
  • Episode 5: Raye Penber uses the Death Note unknowingly when Light holds him hostage and forces him to write down the names of the FBI agents investigating Kira. Penber's allies die by his own hand.
    • And to top it off: in a sense, the execution was pointless. Penber was planning to cite Light as innocent after tailing him for a bit, with the day of the busjacking being the last day. If Light hadn't enacted his plan that day, Penber would've told the others Light was clean, all the agents and Naomi would still be alive (at least, for now), and Light would be above suspicion. But since Light killed Penber and the agents, that just began his unraveling as the task force and L got even more serious and Naomi started to suspect Light.
  • The death of Naomi Misora in episode 7. She comes so close to bringing Raye's killer to justice, and this is what ends up being the death of her. The small, metaphorical scene with the noose, the music... so sad.
    • The fact that Light actually revealed to her that he was Kira makes it even sadder. If you think about it, she's basically destined to commit suicide, but for the last moments of her life, she has to live with the fact that she just gave her fiancé's killer all the information she had, trusted him and let him kill her without her knowledge. And now she knows who killed her fiancé, but she can't do anything about it because of the Death Note.
    • Not only does Light reveal he's Kira, he proceeds to mock her, asking Naomi if she wants to talk to his father now, knowing that thanks to the Death Note, she's lost all her free will and is about to commit suicide, and they both know she can't do a damn thing about it. And he does it all with a smirk on his face. Light, you utter bastard.
    • The worst thing about it? Light gives her an out. He tells her how young and beautiful she is and that she has her whole life ahead of her, and she responds that she doesn't have anything to lose anymore. She had her own life to lose, but she was too blinded by her desire for revenge to think of that.
    • Even worse, Light specifies in the notebook that she kills herself in such a way that her body is never discovered, robbing Naomi's loved ones of closure and the opportunity to lay her remains to rest.
  • Ukita's death in Episode 11. When Aizawa and Matsuda see his body on the TV, Aizawa tries to go after him, but L argues that it's too dangerous and that they need to think rationally. Aizawa accuses him of not caring until he notices that L is shaking and trying to keep himself calm.
    L: Please control yourself. We've lost Ukita.
  • Episode 12: Gelus is just so sad-looking and his death to save Misa's life was pretty heartwrenching. Especially for poor Rem who couldn't do anything but watch. Especially since it was basically one Stalker with a Crush sacrificing himself to save the object of his affections from another stalker.
    • This exchange, right before Gelus' Heroic Sacrifice. Rem even sounded like she felt sorry for poor Gelus.
      Rem: Today's her last day, isn't it?
      Gelus: (on the edge of tears) She looks so full of life... it's just not fair...
  • Episode 14: L calling Light his only friend. For a moment this actually seems to get to Light, given how shocked he looks, but then in the next scene he's still resolved to kill L.
    • This one appears to have been undone by Word of God. How To Read 13 says L has no friends at all and that it was just a lie he told Light, even though he knew he'd hardly believe it. Whether you take that as a Fanon Discontinuity is up to you.
  • There's also Misa Amane's strongest scene in Episode 15. She's in restraints, begging Rem to kill her, and even tries to bite her own tongue off. Of course, she doesn't succeed, but it was a real turning point for her character. Well, it seemed so at the time...
  • Episode 16: "When I leave here, it will be with my son!" Horrible.
    • When Light loses his memories, he goes from sinisterly calm to outright desperate. Afterwards, Higuchi continues killing criminals, but L decides to lie to Light and say that no killings have happened. Not only that, he was confined for 50 days straight, he's seen on the ground and by the looks of it, he looks like he was dying of starvation. What makes it worse was when L tricked Light into believing that his father was going to kill him. Right when his father pulled the trigger and the gunshot was heard, it seemed that Light died and his father crossed the Moral Event Horizon for doing this. But then we see that it was a test to see if Light was Kira or not and gun was just a blank.

Yotsuba Arc

  • The first scene we see of Aizawa after he leaves the task force. He's sitting alone in a park and his family turns up he breaks down crying because he missed out on so much of his daughter's life made worse with her coy confusion and the questions "What's wrong dad? Mommy, why is daddy crying?"
    • There is the possibly more heartbreaking alternative reaction that he's not crying because he's missed out on being with his family, but rather out of shame that he believes himself to have been the weak link in the task force and was not strong enough to stick out the hunt for Kira with his respected friends and peers, guilty that he gets to enjoy a normal family life again while his comrades have to continue their mission without him.
    • Or, guilty that having quit the task force means he can't avenge Ukita as he had wanted.
  • The preview for Episode 25. Scenes of heavy rain, completely silent, except the very end, which features one word.
    L: Goodbye.
  • And Episode 25 was as tearful as its preview hinted. One of the most heart-wrenching moments of the entire series, of course, was the deaths of L and Watari at the coerced hands of Rem, who, because of the rules of the Shinigami, was also killed in the process.
    • And don't forget L died failing to bring down Kira. However, the Movie's version of this where L prevents himself from being killed by Rem by writing his own name into the note, but adding that he would die 23 days later. Sadly Watari and Rem don't make it out alive. And you see a few shots of Rem crumbling into dust. Finally, there is the scene at the end where Light's entire family mourn his death, his father only having told them that he was killed by Kira.
    • As for L's death, the scene of L's funeral goes from Tear Jerker with Soichiro promising to him that he'd make his death worth it and Matsuda crying, to rage-inducing with Light making up lies about how he'll avenge L's death by killing Kira himself. It quickly turns to terrifying with Light going absolutely berserk with his laugh and screaming at L's grave that he has won. In a deleted scene, he even humps it.

    • L and Watari looking at one another through the computer monitors and L calling Watari's name, first quietly, and then loudly just before Watari cuts the transmission and erases the database due to his death. Particularly sad since that episode implied that Watari was the closest thing L had to a father, and the angle and wide-eyed look he has in the monitor Watari looks at makes him look particulalry childlike. It's also the first time L's voice seems to have tender emotion and vulnerability in it.
    • Just L's death, full stop. He's just seen Watari go, and the whole scene is incredibly tense anyway. Then we see the spoon fall...
    • It's even more depressing since most people are so upset by L's death that they completely forget the fact that Watari died too. L's death wasn't as bad (though still was terribly horrible) since he was actively fighting against Kira and in the end one of those two had to die, but Watari's death wasn't necessary, and that just makes it all the more heartbreaking.
  • And then there's Rem's reaction upon realizing what Light wants her to do. And then after L's death, the camera pans to reveal that there's nothing left of her but a pile of sand is one of the most gut-wrenching shots in the show.
  • The really simple scene added in Episode 25 of the anime where you see Watari bring a child L into Wammy's House for the first time. Not just the way the scene was shot, and the haunting music playing, but the fact that it shows that L was just as human as anyone and how Watari was probably the only person who really cared about him.
  • Some of the dialogue in the added foot massage scene in Episode 25 was really subtle and moving. Specifically, in the Japanese version when L says ”寂しいですねえ。もうすぐ分かる。”, which roughly translates to, "I'm lonely. You'll understand soon." This could be read as either L implying that once he proves the 13-day rule is fake, Light will be convicted as Kira or L foreseeing his own death and implying that Light will miss him when he's gone.
    • Not to mention the soft piano music and sunlight streaming into the room during the scene.
  • In the final episode of the Yotsuba Arc, all the remaining Yotsuba members getting killed off, just when they've resolved to turn their lives around.
    • This is especially sad when you consider that at least a good few of them didn't want to be involved in any of this to begin with, and some even began to try to stop Kira (albeit too late).
    • Aiber's death in front of his family. It's a little hard to side with Kira on that one, especially when said family includes a kid who came in to see his own father slumped over and unresponsive.
      • It's worse in the manga, where Aiber dies of liver cancer. It's not clear when Light wrote his name in the book relative to when L died, but it could have been up to 5 months that Aiber had to suffer. And dying of cancer in such a brief time frame probably means the cancer was extremely aggressive, with no point in even trying to treat it. It's mentioned he died "with his family at his side", and at least four people are shown, people who had to watch him deteriorate for weeks or months, knowing there was no hope.
    • Wedy's death. In the manga she is referred to as "Mary Kenwood, the second Kenwood daughter", which implies that she's from a well-known family, and has living parents and at least one sibling. Criminal or not, she had a family, and one day she was just gone, in what looked like a random accident. And like Aiber's family, they'll never know their loved one was actually killed by Kira.
    • In the Relight special, Light kills the Yotsuba members in different ways. We're shown three of these deaths, and two of them are suicides. This is sad enough on its own, but Shimura's is especially gut-wrenching. The close-up of his unnaturally vacant and unblinking expression really drives home the fact that he's being controlled; and in the background you can see the people on the subway platform behind him, frantically waving and shouting at him to move.
      • And one hopes it was one of those conductorless trains, because otherwise imagine how traumatizing that must be.
  • Who Light has become by the end of this arc. There is nothing good in him anymore, no feeling towards other people, no genuineness, no redeeming qualities. The end of the Relight special throws this into relief as he walks away from L's grave and proceeds to kill the Yotsuba group. Everything about the way he is animated and voiced in this scene — his stooped posture; his slow, almost shambling gait; his Face Framed in Shadow; the utterly cold yet unfathomably hateful look in his red eyes; the deranged and foreboding tremor in his voice as he murmurs, "I… am the god… of the new world"; and the horrifically manic grin on his reflection's face — manages to communicate in a way that words never could just how rotten and demented Light has become. He has gone completely off the deep end, and he is never coming back.

Near/Mello Arc

  • Episode 29: Seeing Sayu traumatized from the events of the previous episodes to the point that she becomes depressed and immobile.
    • In a scene in the manga, where Sachiko tells Soichiro that Sayu won't come out of her room, and suggests they move to the countryside.
    • Not to mention, before she was kidnapped, we see her as a happy and confident young girl, who playfully teases Matsuda and Misa.
  • The death of Deputy Director Yagami. The saddest part about that was that thanks to Light's relinquishment of the Death Note, the Shinigami-eye-wielding Director saw Light's lifespan, so he died genuinely believing that his son wasn't Kira.
    • In the manga, Soichiro's last words, beginning with "Light, I'm counting on you to..." are cut off by Light trying to get him to kill Mello with the notebook! Light's panicking is understandable but it's an example of how badly Light's humanity had to suffer.
      • And the moment in the hospital just after his non-Kira heart attack, when, in full knowledge that Light is a suspect, he quietly explains to him that it isn't Kira himself who's evil, but the power he's using. Utterly tragic - especially since Light, while briefly affected, is a brick wall, and because that distinction between people and their acts is something Light will never grasp.
      • Combined withe Fridge Horror: Soichiro died less than 24 hours after making the shinigami eye trade, which meant he was destined to die within two days, anyway.Actually…  He had already had one heart attack, so it's possible that he was meant to die a natural death... but he had also admitted that, since giving the notebook to criminals, he had been contemplating suicide.
    • While Light's mourning was more ambiguous over whether or not it was genuine in the manga due to how rushed it was portrayed, in the anime, the moment Soichiro said his last word, "Light...", Light seems to go from pretending to panic to sobbing more genuinely. He moves back a few inches with a shocked look on his face, drops the Death Note and pen, and then breaks down sobbing into his father's chest and saying the above quote. One could argue that that was the last of Light Yagami before he got the Death Note that died. After that, he showed no concern towards anyone, whatsoever.
    • In the manga, while Light is screaming at his father to kill Mello or his own death will be in vain... Matsuda has to put his arm around Light and pull him off Soichiro.
    • Right before Soichiro is fatally shot by Mello's henchman, Mello sadly states that he never wanted to kill Soichiro. For all of Mello's flaws, he was genuinely regretful and sorry about the fact that his desire to catch Kira by any means necessary led to him having to kill a genuinely honourable and decent person like Soichiro.
  • The shot of Light's mother Sachiko slumped at her table. Her son Light has all but disappeared from her life, her daughter Sayu is confined to a wheelchair and catatonic, and her husband Soichiro has just died trying to stop Kira. And Soichiro's ashes are on the table in front of her. That's what that neatly wrapped box she's contemplating is. Meanwhile, more and more people around the world are going on about how wonderful Kira is, meaning that few really appreciate Soichiro's sacrifice. And this is the last we see of Sachiko. Bear in mind that all in the anime/manga we saw her as nothing more but a doting but caring mother for Light and Sayu, as well as a devoted wife to Soichirou...and now she has nothing. Break the Cutie at its most painful.
  • Aizawa aggressively criticizes L for continuing to suspect Light and Misa, despite Soichiro's "I'll kill you and then myself" stunt, the constant surveillance of them, and the 13 Day Rule. He objects when L wants to test the 13 day rule, and five years later, still doesn't want to buy it when Mello says he has tested it and proven it's fake, due to Mello's own criminal acts, even though Near is now starting to suspect Light just like L did, and still doesn't want to see it tested himself, when Near offers to do so by killing Mello. It's not until Near lies and says Mogi was killed by Kira while in his custody that Aizawa breaks down and cooperates with him, but even then, due to Near's resorting to such an underhanded tactic, he refuses to share everything he knows, although he and Mogi independently decide to put Light and Misa under surveillance again. It's not until he confirms that Light and Takada are communicating secretly that he finally, finally becomes convinced that Light is and has been Kira all along, and the first thing he does is rush to tell Near everything he knows. And Near just tells him point-blank that none of it matters anymore. He already knows everything Aizawa wants to tell him, and since Aizawa doesn't have any physical proof of his claims, nor can he get any without endangering his own life, he and the rest of the taskforce are entirely irrelevant to the investigation. All Near can say is that Aizawa's and Mogi's surveillance of Light and Misa, which prevents Light from making any moves of his own, is useful to his plans, and that he wants Aizawa to see the case to the end. Aizawa is just crushed, remembering how he staked his life for this investigation, and now he's not even a factor in the outcome. All he can do is watch L's successors finish his work.
  • While Takada is an Asshole Victim, her death is rather sombre as she dies believing that Light will come to save her, instead he burns her to death to save his own skin.
  • Seven words: "Matt... I got you killed... I'm sorry." Not just for Matt, but because it's the one time in the series that we see Mello as something other than a Hot-Blooded, Can't Catch Up Insufferable Genius. To make things worse, this is only minutes before Mello meets his own end.
    • Worse with Fridge Horror when you realise like L, Mello only had one friend.
    • Matt's death in general due to the way it is shot, which seems to imply he was meant to be a lot more important character, as he had such a minor role yet there is the lingering shot of his cigarette.
      • In the manga, Mello says "Matt... I never thought you'd be killed... forgive me" which kind of implies that Mello, for all his desperation, actually factored in making sure Matt would be able to escape into his plan and still saw him die. That had to be crushing.
  • There's also Mello's death itself, Mello never got to see if his efforts to catch Kira would pay off although it's heartwarming in the finale that Near very much acknowledges that without Mello, Light and Mikami wouldn't have slipped up.
  • While Light died in the manga pathetically with no sympathy or regret whatsoever, the anime has a more sad end. The scene where Light is running away in the anime after being shot. He sees himself before he got the Death Note and only sobs harder, clearly showing regret in the end.
    • The pitiable way he calls out to Misa and Takada in the anime after being shot. With tears in his eyes he begs for anyone to help him while asking himself what should he do now.
    • The final music that plays in the anime version during Light Yagami starting to slowly die and when he sees an image of L looking over him.
      • Also the way Light accepts his fate in his final moments in the anime.
  • While he's an Asshole Victim, Mikami's final moments in the anime are rather depressing as his "god" denies knowing him and then gets shot multiple times. To make things worse he realises that writing Takada's name in the note is what ended Kira's reign that he so passionately believed in. Throughout the finale, Mikami looks completely broken to the point where he shoves a pen in his heart just so Light could escape, even though Light threw Mikami under the bus and only really saw Mikami as a weapon to carry out his work, Mikami was still absolutely willing to die for him.
    • Mikami, in general, is a Tragic Villain. Flashbacks show that he Used to Be a Sweet Kid who hated seeing others hurt and wanted to protect the weak initially being rather successful at this. But years of bullying as a result of his desire to protect others ended up completely twisting his ideals to the point where he saw his mother's death as a good thing and act of god simply because she was concerned about him constantly getting beaten up as a result of his beliefs. Similar to Light, if things turned out differently Mikami could have ended up genuinely decent instead of becoming a fanatical murderer who died in agony in a pool of his own blood, but by the time he receives the note, he's too far gone and the note only further corrupts his worldview.
  • Misa Amane's last scene in the anime, where she sadly stands atop of a building, dressed up in her Elegant Gothic Lolita garb, eyes closed. This comes with the very strong implication that she committed suicide just moments later. Especially with this incredibly sad music playing in place of the normal heavy-metal ending, the credits rolling over, jerking back and forth between shots of her and Woobie-ified Light... Worst part? How To Read cites her death date as Valentine's Day.
    • Consider also that this is not the 2nd Kira, Misa in full Cute and Psycho mode that dies, it's an innocent woman who has been jerked around all her life without her knowledge by the power of the Death Note. Rather than the insane, evil Kira persona being the one that died, Misa committed suicide after she'd gotten her life as a normal human back. Even without Light around to use her, she just couldn't win.
    • There's some Fridge Horror at work too: consider that she traded half her remaining life twice for Shinigami eyes, and she dies only a year after the main story — that means she would have only had four years left to live even had she not found her own Death Note. The poor girl never had even half a shot at a normal life.
    • How 'bout the fact that she's given up her memories of the Death Note by the time she dies? That means Misa doesn't remember Rem, or Rem's story about how Gelus sacrificed himself to save her. Misa has no memories of the two that loved her most.
  • Light's last conversation with Misa in the manga is just... heartbreaking. Misa is cheerful and glad that she's gotten a chance to talk to Light, telling him happily about the hotel room. And Light is completely "Yeah, good, she's not something I need to worry about at the moment." And he hangs up — if he even bothered to say goodbye to her, the reader doesn't see it. And that's their last. Conversation. Ever. After Misa gave her life and soul to Light, suffered L's torture for him, begged Rem to kill her when she couldn't take it any longer, and let his control dominate her life completely — that was their last conversation. They were engaged to be married, for the love of God; yes, it was only a pretense on Light's part, but they had been together for years, and Misa finally had the family that she had lost when her parents died. And she kills herself after Light dies. AND THAT WAS THEIR LAST CONVERSATION.
  • At the very end. Near is surrounded by a bunch of toys, doing what he does best... and eating a bar of chocolate.
  • There's something incredibly sad in the last two rules of the Death Note: "All humans, without exception, will eventually die" and "After they die, the place they go is Mu (Nothingness)." Even if we all know that death is unavoidable, it's still a gloomy, laconic reminder of human inability to control life and death.
    • And as if to drive this point home, the manga has one final rule to add: "Once dead, they can never come back to life."
    • This also means that all the people we see die over the course of the series? The last moments of their lives — their absolute final experiences — were ones full of pain, fear, and despair. And for all people, there's no one to comfort them, no one to guide them to a better place, no one waiting for them on the other side. Just oblivion.
  • Light's entire life trajectory. If he'd never found the Death Note, he probably would have lived a relatively normal and happy life as a successful and productive police detective. After finding the Death Note, he thought he was going to become God. Instead, he died like a dog just a month shy of 24. His life was over practically before it really began.

Never Complete Arc

  • Minoru sells the Death Note and uses the money to improve Japan's economy, all without actually using it. Unfortunately he never gets to savour his victory as a new rule was imposed at the last minute stating that anyone who buys or sells the Death Note will die. What's more, Ryuk seriously considered warning Minoru, but Minoru made him promise to never visit him again. The poor boy could have saved his own life.

    The Drama
Father and son make up after a near-fatal accusation.

    The Musical