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Tear Jerker / Dragon Age II

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There's a reason why Dragon Age II is the most depressing game in the franchise, possibly even more so than Inquisition.

Warning: Spoilers Off applies to these pages. Proceed at your own risk.

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Main Game

     Act 1 

  • There are two hard hits right early on in the prologue. One is your sibling, but arguably, Ser Wesley's death has more of an impact. It's interesting because if Hawke had met him anywhere else except for the Blight, he probably would've been hunting you and/or your sister. But he agrees that you have to work together. In spite of all your efforts it still isn't enough, he is being corrupted and there is only one option. If Aveline kills him, he whispers to her, "Be strong, my love." If you elect to do the deed yourself he looks at you, someone he didn't even know existed a few minutes ago, and simply whispers, "Thank you." The music at that point is truly heartbreaking. Also, another thing that makes his death all the more poignant is that he had just given a eulogy for your dead sibling. Makes you wonder if Wesley and Carver/Bethany met each other soon after their deaths.
    • It's also worth noting that the player must choose whether to make Aveline perform a mercy kill, to have Hawke do it, or let the clearly distraught Aveline decide. None of the answers are right, and all are heartbreaking to see.
    • If you have Aveline make the choice, there's a bit of fridge brilliance because she and Wesley hold hands, a significant gesture for Aveline from her father meaning 'this is my choice and I'm ready to proceed.' You learn about the significance after Leandra's death. Letting Aveline make the choice also gives her a friendship boost, which the other options do not.
  • While Ser Wesley's death is generally regarded as more poignant than the death of either Bethany or Carver, the latter can still be a highly emotional moment given the right context. Say, for example, that you just completed Act 1 as a Warrior/Rogue and with Bethany accompanying you most of the time. Then you want to try out what a Mage plays like... but this means you have to watch your sister, with whom you really feel you share a bond at this point, die. Seeing Bethany's lifeless body while Ser Wesley delivers his short but moving eulogy... It's not so much the moment itself that is sad, it's that you know what would've become of each unfortunate sibling had they survived, and the realization that they got robbed of so many experiences, good or bad, and the chance to grow into the person they each wanted to be.
  • This game truly drives home the horror of the Tranquil. Anders attempts to rescue another mage named Karl only to realize that Karl had been made Tranquil and the Templars had been waiting for him. After Vengeance seizes control of Anders briefly, the disturbance in the Veil allows Karl to temporarily regain his emotions, in which he begs Anders to kill him before he forgets what feeling emotions is like. Even worse is that Karl then lapses back into Tranquility.
    • If Anders is romanced by a male Hawke he will also mention that he and Karl were lovers, making it even more tragic.
    • And to make matters worse, it's revealed in Inquisition that there is a way to cure Tranquility.
  • There's a small one I only just realized for the first time, when Leandra - after the will is found - talks to Hawke about her parents. She mentions that she wrote to her mother when each of the children were born, and her mother never wrote back; this makes sense when speaking just of Hawke. But it's stated in the game that Leandra's parents' funeral took place the same week that Bethany and Carver were born, which is why Leandra couldn't be there. (She probably couldn't even get out of bed at that point.) She must have written to her mother to tell her that she had given birth, or would shortly give birth, to twins; her mother didn't respond and it must have felt like a repeat of the earlier snub, but then Gamlen's letter arrived to inform her of their parents' death. They were gone and she would never have the chance to make amends or even see them again. This coming on the heels of the rigors of birth, and knowing what we in the real world know about post-partum depression... Leandra must have had a difficult time.
    • This gets compounded after reading the section in The World of Thedas, vol. 2 which explains the backstory of Malcolm and Leandra's relationship. Leandra was betrothed to the Comte de Launcet, but fell in love with Malcolm and got pregnant. Her attempts to hide the pregnancy worked for a while, but eventually the servants figured it out and let it slip to Lady Bethann, who - once she learned the truth - never spoke to her daughter again. Even when Leandra tried to say goodbye to her before eloping with Malcolm, Bethann wouldn't come out of her bedroom and ignored Leandra knocking and pleading until finally, Lord Aristide told her, "Just go, Leandra. You are no longer an Amell, and she is no longer your mother." This was the last thing either of her parents ever said to her, and the memory must have haunted her while she recovered from both giving birth to the twins and the news of her parents' deaths.
  • Ghyslain de Carrac's tale. He's the initial quest giver for the Serial Killer plotline. At first, he seems like he's just some chauvinistic douche who wants his wife to be dragged home. However, by the end of the quest, it's obvious that he has genuine regrets about his marital problems with Ninette. The somber tone in his voice when you give him Ninette's ring really makes it hard to not feel a little bad for the guy, especially when he mentions that they really were happy together once upon a time. It hits particularly hard if the player themselves has had relationship problems.
  • The death of Ketojan/Sarebaas. There's something so deeply heartbreaking about the growling monotone in his voice as he tries to explain to Hawke that he wants to die, after all the brutal abuse he has endured. He honestly believes that his place according to the Qun is death, and then sets himself on fire with a stoic expression and slumps to his knees before the fires consume him. The worst part is that he calls Hawke "Basvaraad" - in other words, someone worthy of being followed, and thanks Hawke, even though their desire to free him is apparently misguided.
    • It's even sadder because he doesn't want to die.
      Hawke: So you want to die?
      Sarebaas: I do not want to die. I want to the Qun.
    • And then there's this exchange:
      Hawke: Existence isn't a choice.
      Sarebaas: It is the only choice.

     Act 2 

  • Another small moment is when Feynriel sends you a letter at the beginning of the act. If sent to the Dalish, he remarks on his loneliness among the elves. Things are bad enough for Feynriel that the only person he feels he can confide in is basically a stranger whom he encountered briefly a few years ago, albeit one who had a huge impact in his life.
    I don't know why I'm telling you this. Sometimes it feels like you're the only person I can trust.
    • It's even sadder if he goes to the Gallows. No one in the Circle knows how to help him and the Templars would prefer him to be made Tranquil. He (incorrectly) believes that he could have a better life with the Dalish. Both outcomes show that there was no place for Feynriel in Kirkwall. He was ostracized by elves for looking human, by humans for having elven blood and magic, and by other mages for having powers he couldn't control or understand.
  • More Fridge Tear Jerker than anything, but there's a mini-quest with Merrill that comes up if Bethany was taken to the Circle. Merrill will comfort Hawke by saying that Bethany is strong enough to survive the Gallows. If you choose the Snarky dialogue option, Hawke will reveal that they firmly believe that Leandra blames them for Bethany being taken away. It becomes even sadder when you remember that Leandra, in her grief, blamed Hawke for Carver's death in the prologue, and the memory of their brother's death and Leandra's heartbroken reaction still haunts them even though they try to cover it up with humor.
  • The ending to the subquest where a serial killer is let loose on Kirkwall. Your mother mentions earlier in the game that she might want to remarry, or at least start dating again. Come this quest, you are on assignment by a Templar to track down a kidnapped woman. You find her in the company of an Orlesian blood mage. He claims that he is protecting the woman from a blood mage who is kidnapping women and killing them after delivering a bouquet of white flowers to his victims. It doesn't matter whether you kill the Orlesian or not. When you return to the Templar, you find him killed by abominations. You rush home, and your mother is missing...after having been delivered the white flowers. You follow a blood trail to the killer's hideout and battle your way through more demons when you reach her. It's clear she is far gone. Her face is emaciated and her throat is cut; she has been kept alive by necromancy in a mage's attempt to resurrect his wife. He kidnapped women who looked like her, and Leandra was the last piece because she had a very similar face. Even after killing the mage, Leandra dies, but not before telling Hawke how proud of them she is. Seeing Gamlen in pure anguish afterwards, back at the estate, is heartbreaking.
    • It's worse. Only her head was actually there. The rest of her body was made up from pieces of the other women he had killed. And if you look carefully, her eyes are different. Quentin's remarks confirm that he removed her eyes too, and gave her those of someone else.
    • Of note: the Desire Demons you fight are named as 'Possession of _____' after each of the women that Quentin took, even Leandra.
    • The animation is absolutely brilliant for this. Also, if you're in a romance, your LI will come by your house afterward to offer condolences. It feels very real and very raw; if Hawke hasn't romanced anyone, it's Aveline who "came as soon as I heard," and offers an invitation to come and talk with her later if you feel up to it. Regardless of who comes for that scene, Hawke can have a conversation with Aveline after the fact, in which she talks about mourning her father, and clicking on party members on your first outing after the murder will have them offer sympathy as well; anyone who has ever lost a loved one will be both touched and shattered by all the condolences.
    • One of the dialogue options during the consolation is for Hawke to say that magic ruins everything. If you're wooing Merrill or Anders and/or if you're a mage, this is especially heartbreaking.
    • Hearing the growing fear and desperation in Hawke's voice as they're following the blood trail, especially if Hawke is normally a Deadpan Snarker. No matter which personality Hawke has up to this point, they sound terrified.
    • What's even worse is that, looking back, in Act 1, Hawke comes within moments of apprehending Quentin when they investigate the Foundry, arriving only to see the bastard book it back to his Stalker Shrine. That's right: Hawke came within moments of preventing not only their mother's death, but the deaths of almost all the other women Quentin butchered as well as Ser Emeric's.
    • The conversation with Aveline at the guard barracks after the event is always painful. First, she wants to know how Hawke is doing, and if the diplomatic option is selected, it's simple and heartbreaking. "My mother's dead. My heart's broken." Aveline then shares the story of how her father died in a Denerim ward, and how she read to him in his final days. She concludes the story by saying, "That's all I've got. I'll miss her too." Aveline has known Hawke longer than any other companion, and her pain is as real as Hawke's in this scene.
    • After Leandra's death, clicking on her door has Hawke mention that they simply refuse to touch anything in the room. The DLC includes such small things as Hawke throwing coins into the fountain in Mark of the Assassin because it was a tradition Leandra enjoyed, as well as their Dead Person Conversation in Legacy. All of this paints a very tragic picture that Hawke never quite gets over their mother's death and still carries it around with them as their greatest failure.
    • It's also very crushing to see how the event impacts the rest of the Hawke household. Orana tearfully comments, "I'm sorry about your mama; I will miss her." Bodahn, meanwhile, in a voice which is clearly choked with emotion, talks about how "Mistress Amell" was a very fine woman who reminded him a lot of his own mother. The whole thing really illustrates how the Feddics and Orana aren't just household staff; they're part of the family.
    • Oh, and if the sibling is still alive? Gamlen volunteers to be the one to break the news. Now picture Circle!Bethany in the Gallows with no one to console her, or Templar!Carver trying to do his duty despite his pain. Or either twin as a Grey Warden, receiving a letter about the matter. At least Hawke has their friends; the surviving twin is, in many ways, alone with their grief.
  • Viscount Dumar cradling his dead son, killed by the agents of Mother Petrice. The man has spent his entire reign being tossed around by the Templars, the Circle, the Chantry, and the Qunari, with nowhere to run and no one, save Hawke, to turn to. He might be a weak leader, but it's easy to tell that he loved his son, and really did want him to find his own way. The trouble is that the Arishok is aggressive and Lawful Stupid, and will most likely use Saemus as a bargaining chip; Mother Petrice is out for blood; and if the Viscount makes one wrong move, the Templars will have his head just like his predecessor. It's heartbreaking to see him finally break down. The sad choir music during this scene only adds to it.
    Diplomatic Hawke: The Arishok is still here, Excellency. You must be ready to stand up to him.
    Viscount Dumar: I cannot. I have already failed where it mattered most. *cries* Please, Hawke. Leave me...
    • An aggressive Hawke is just as heartbreaking here:
      Hawke: This is not over, Excellency. The city needs a leader.
      Dumar: It does. And I am no longer that person.
    • And in the end, he gets released from the position — but not the way he expected, certainly.
  • It's a small moment, but if you romanced Alistair in Origins, made a Heroic Sacrifice at the end, and Alistair stayed on as a Grey Warden, he will eventually run into Hawke in the second act. He gives Hawke an amulet that once belonged to the Warden and refers to the Warden as "the love of my life," even though she's been gone for almost four years at this point. Don't mind me, I just have something in my eyes...
    • Along the same lines, you can run into Zevran in Act 3. If he loved and lost the Warden in an imported save, he turns down Isabela's offer of sex, saying the wounds are too fresh — even though it's been seven years at this point.

     Act 3 

  • There is an optional conversation that Hawke can have with Bodahn. Bodahn tells Hawke that it is time for him and Sandal to be moving on. He (Bodahn) is getting old and he needs to see that Sandal is taken care of. Hawke can offer to care for Sandal but Bodahn turns down the offer, explaining that he and Sandal have been offered a place in Empress Celene's court in Orlais. At this point Hawke will turn away from Bodahn and face the fireplace (back to the camera). Then you realize that Hawke is coming to the realization that they are alone. Their father, mother and at least one of their siblings are dead. The other sibling is either also dead, is a Grey Warden, or is in the Gallows as a Circle Mage or a Templar. It serves to highlight that Hawke has utterly failed as the leader of the family despite their best efforts, and the toll it has taken on them. It becomes even more heartbreaking with a friendly Hawke: They go above and beyond to help their companions with their fears, doubts, trials, and tribulations, but still ends up unable to resolve their own troubles. Hurting Hero and Heartbroken Badass, thy name is Hawke.
  • Immediately before First Enchanter Orsino's Heroic BSoD, he says in complete despair, "Why don't they just drown us as infants? Why give us the illusion of hope?" after seeing his every effort at capitulation and cooperation be met with ever-increasing dickishness from the Templars. That one got me. Aside from a very small handful of mages who manage to bear up under the incredible pressure of living in Kirkwall (mostly your party members) under the oppressive Templar regime, you really might as well just kill yourself and be done with it. Unless you're playing a Mage Champion.
  • During the Templar endgame, just before Orsino transforms himself into a Harvester, he tells Hawke and Meredith of the irony that he has never actually used blood magic in his life up to this point. The way he says this, however, with a bitter mix of resentment and resignation of someone given no choice but to live up to entirely false accusations in his voice is utterly heartbreaking.
  • The ending, if you stop and think about it. Hawke loses one of their siblings at the beginning of the game, and then loses the other either to the taint, the Grey Wardens, the Templars, or the Circle. Their mother gets murdered in a gruesome manner by a completely insane serial killer. They cannot save the Viscount of Kirkwall, who is murdered by the Arishok. They are unable to stop the fighting between Meredith and Orsino, which leads to mage-Templar relations dropping to an all-time low. They are duped by Anders' plot and made an (unwitting) accomplice in an act of iconoclasm. They are forced to flee Kirkwall, abandoning the city that they worked so hard to try to save. Their friends eventually go their separate ways, still friends but no longer united. At best, Hawke is able to find some happiness with a romanced partner (if you went that route), who is the only one accompanying them on the run after the end of the game. The poor Champion cannot catch a break. And, as if the world didn't hate them enough, it is possible for Hawke to die in the Fade during Inquisition.
    • Though if Hawke lives in Inquisition, in the Trespasser DLC they return to Kirkwall to work together with Varric, who has been elected Viscount. So there is a Hope Spot.


     Legacy DLC 

  • There's the optional side quest "The Paragon's Heir." If Varric is in the party, it's a three-part Tear Jerker:
    • First, the backstory of the quest itself. A few ages earlier, a noble dwarf named Tethras Garen was found guilty of murdering his own sister and sentenced to the Deep Roads. As the quest components are found, Varric remembers why the name sounds familiar; it was eventually discovered that the Carta was responsible for the murder, not the young man. His father - Paragon Garen - kept sending members of the Legion of the Dead to find his son and bring him back, but no one ever returned from the search. When the family finally gave him up for lost, they decided to honor his memory by changing the family name to Tethras. One of Tethras Garen's siblings was Varric's direct ancestor. Imagine knowing that you sentenced one of your own children/siblings to death for something they didn't actually do, and then you discovered too late that they were innocent all along.
    • The last note of the quest explains why no one ever found Tethras Garen: everyone who searched for him ended up in the Warden stronghold in the Vimmark Mountains, which was deliberately designed to trap any darkspawn who wandered into it, and is impossible to escape. (Doubles as a bit of Nightmare Fuel when you remember that this is where you are right now.) The Legionnaire who wrote the final note was despairing because he would soon die and there was no one left to perform the traditional rite and return his soul to the Stone, nor had there been anyone to do it for Tethras.
    • After the party finds the remains of Tethras Garen, Hawke speaks the traditional dwarven prayer for the dead, which the Legionnaire had included in the final note. If he's there, Varric remarks that what Hawke has done is very sweet and now he'd like to leave before anyone sees him cry. Given how choked up he sounds, and knowing that Hawke has just given this rite for one of Varric's distant relatives, you realize that the snarky dwarf really is on the verge of tears.
  • The fate of Larius or Janeka at the end of the DLC. The former has been a ghoul desperately fighting Corypheus's influence for decades after his Calling, and the latter is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who thinks she could potentially stop all future Blights by taking control of Corypheus. No matter what you do, one is killed by the other and Corypheus ends up possessing the survivor of the final battle.
  • The ending, if Legacy was finished in Act 3 or near the end of Act 2. Hawke's conversation with the imaginary Leandra resonates with anyone whose ever lost an important loved one.
    • It's mixed with Heartwarming Moments, because Varric admits that this didn't actually happen. He made it up because he wanted to see Hawke get the closure he felt they deserved but never got. It shows how good of a friend he is to Hawke.



  • The companions' various reactions whenever Hawke falls unconscious in battle. It really shows how much your companions care about you and look up to you when you hear their panicked reactions to the possibility you might be dead. The reaction from your Love Interest is especially heartrending, as their reaction changes to reflect your relationship. You can listen to them here.
    • Possibly the worst is Fenris' response, if only for the sheer simplicity and conviction in what he says.
      Fenris: NO! I will NOT ALLOW IT!
    • There is also Anders, who obviously sounds desperate.
      Anders: NO! Don't be dead! Please!
    • Bethany sounds like she's sobbing while begging Hawke to get up. Both Bethany and Carver's reactions are especially harsh when you remember that they have already lost one sibling and are faced with the prospect of losing the other.
  • Losing a character can cause personal tearjerkers, or at least melancholy. Not even going into the crueler decisions Hawke is allowed to make (regarding Fenris, for example), or Hawke's sibling(s) dying, or having to kill former companions if their rivalries or friendships aren't high enough by Act 3 — one can lose Isabela as early as Act 2. Most of the rest of the characters have some opinion on the Mage and Templar conflict or types of magic (Anders, Fenris, Merrill all have extensive personal quests in Acts 2 and 3), Hawke's siblings are already heavily skewed one way or the other, Varric doesn't have a crisis point with Hawke, Sebastian is really only around in Acts 2 and 3, and Aveline is the earliest companion met outside of Hawke's family (and thus a little ahead of anyone besides the sibling in racking up friendship or rivalry). But if one doesn't give some focus to Isabela one way or the other in Act 1 as well as 2, it's really easy to lose her in comparison, and it can leave a hollow feeling to know she's off adventuring elsewhere, having left her True Companions of the game behind (since if you don't take them to the Deep Roads without Anders, even Bethany or Carver can come back). It's especially frustrating with low rivalry, since Hawke and Isabela are catty to each other but not to the point of confiding in each other, which is driven home by the meta kind of acknowledgement that Isabela won't be coming back, like she would have if you had a high friendship or rivalry.

     Bethany and Carver 

  • Bethany being forced to join the Circle of Magi. Yes, she is alive and well, but it comes at the heel of a successful expedition which will make them rich, finally getting them out of the slums and back to their estate. The fact that Bethany isn't there, and instead is in a place where she's viewed with suspicion and fear, makes the success ring so hollow.
    • And then after that when poor Leandra just collapses in tears and Hawke can't do anything but hug her...
    • This hits especially hard if one remembers how excited Bethany was about reclaiming the Amell estate, only to never get a chance to actually live there.
    • Fighting Meredith with Bethany at your side, working to free the other mages, is so cathartic at the end, even with Anders's meltdown.
  • Bethany or Carver dying in the Deep Roads. Your mother pleads with you not to take them in case something happens to the both of you, and then it does - they contract the taint. They ask you to kill them, because they know they won't make it to the surface and would end up just like Wesley. The dialogue at the end is really heartbreaking.
    Hawke: You always did ask for the world, Carver.
    Carver: And you always gave it.
    Hawke: You always were a heartbreaker, Bethany.
    Bethany: And you always made me laugh.
    • For bonus tears, if it's Bethany? Listen to Varric. The man is devastated. Major voice acting props to Brian Bloom, because if Hawke's own broken heart doesn't move the player to tears, Varric's will. Not only that, but clicking on him throughout the next act will sometimes prompt him to say, "Poor Sunshine. Bartrand will pay for her death, I promise you." That's three years after she dies. Varric is openly affectionate with Bethany, arguably more than he is with any other character, and you just know he will never, ever stop blaming himself for her fate - he even brings it up in Inquisition when fighting darkspawn! "Oh Sunshine," indeed.
  • A bit of Fridge Brilliance, but the relationship between Malcolm and Carver can really bring a tear once it's explained. After helping the Grey Wardens, Malcolm hoped that he would never sire a child with magic, and he wouldn't wish it on anyone. This would suggest that Carver, who can never have magic, would have been the son he always wanted; but Malcolm had to spend most of his time with Bethany and potentially Hawke, seeing as how they needed to learn to master magic. And Carver seemed to resent his father for it.
  • Conversations with Carver can be this if you move him along the friendship path. It's clear that both siblings want to let go of their animosity but neither of them seems to know how.
  • Many of Carver's lines during the last part of the game if he became either a Warden or a Templar. Particularly effective if the player developed a Big Brother Instinct towards him. Also especially poignant considering you don't see him for most of the game.
    • As a Warden:
      Carver: The Hawke brothers together again, huh? Just like old times.
      Carver: I should be hunting Archdemons, but... it feels right to be at your side again.
    • As a Templar:
      Carver: No! I won't kill my brother/sister for you!
      Carver: I never thought that joining the Templars would bring us side by side. It's... good.
    • And the best one:
      Carver: I'm proud to call you brother/sister. That's gone unsaid too long...


  • A mild, yet still depressing, example: Anders saying he was forced to give up Ser Pounce-a-lot. Anyone who played Awakening can see he really thought of that cat as a friend, considering it sounds like he never had many friends prior to Awakening except the Circle's mouser, Mr. Wiggums.
    • More accurately, he mentions in Awakening that Mr. Wiggums was his only companion while he was in solitary confinement for a year after he tried to run away from the Circle.
    • This can add a Tear Jerker by extension, depending on how the player approached Awakening, but Anders mentions giving the cat to a friend in Amaranthine. Imagine the news getting back to the Warden-Commander that their good friend, the cat lover, has given up his pet and (as far as the Wardens know) gone on his Calling. And then imagine the same Warden-Commander later finding out what really happened to Anders...
  • Most possible endings to the Anders romance arc. The tragedy starts from his personal quest in Act 2, "Dissent." Justice seizes control of him towards the end. If Hawke doesn't talk him down, Anders will kill an innocent mage. Even if he spares the girl, he's still filled with doubts. Enter the romance. Anders seems to perk up. He believes Hawke is his anchor... until Act 3 rolls around. At the beginning, Anders claims to want to rid himself of Justice. He asks for Hawke's help in doing so. Witness Anders trying to get rid of his personal belongings. Witness him putting distance between himself and Hawke. Witness him blowing up the Chantry with innocents still inside so he can send a message about oppression. He also used Hawke to unwittingly help him, which could easily be seen as a personal betrayal. At this point, Hawke has a tough decision: Keep him around knowing he betrayed them, send him away, or kill him outright. Worse, he won't even really fight this. He believes his life is forfeit. His face and Hawke's after the Chantry blows up makes it abundantly clear he's not fully comfortable with what he's done. He just felt it had to be to save his people. It's such a change from the light, flirty Anders in Awakening, it seems even sadder in comparison.
    • If in Inquisition your backstory includes a Hawke that romanced Anders, talk to him/her about it in Skyhold when he/she shows up. Hawke will admit that the betrayal was so immense for him/her that he/she and Anders have never really spoken about it in the three years since they left Kirkwall.
    • It's especially depressing if you think of how he keeps telling you he'll just break your heart and he's no good because an apostate will just make Hawke's life harder, reminding one of the situation between Leandra and Hawke's father. If you're friends with Varric he'll try to warn you, but Hawke just blows it off, this being the beginning of the romance. Befriend Sebastian later, and he'll try to warn you too, but still to no avail. In the end Hawke has had their mother, father, and at least one sibling (possibly both) taken away in addition to Anders, presumably Hawke's true love, betraying them after they believed in him.
    • The events leading up to the final, tragic culmination of the romance are painful too. If you go see Anders in his clinic, there's a chance you'll walk in on him trying to give one of his treasured possessions to Varric. Varric is confused and tells him to keep it, and then leaves. Anders tells you how much he loves you, and he wants you to know that, no matter what happens. He's very clearly suicidal, even if you don't know what's coming.
    • Anders's whole character arc is a huge tearjerker in itself - watching him descend from sweet but snarky charmer to compassionate healer fighting against his dark side to paranoid murderer as his situation with murderous Templars and an impatient Justice slowly grinds his mental state down is just heartbreaking. In Acts 1 and 2, he knows what's happening to him, he knows he's a danger to himself and others around him, and in Act 2 he even turns away from the mage underground and seems to gain some control over himself after the incident with Ella - but between Acts 2 and 3, Justice reasserts itself and Anders fully gives in to their cause. His eventual betrayal, and seeing the once heroic Healer of Darktown kill innocent people, despite the good intentions, hurts a lot.
    • It's possible for Hawke to get Anders to reconsider his plan to blow up the Chantry, telling him that there has to be a better solution. Even worse, Hawke actually manages to get through to Anders, who is all set to go and remove his "bomb" - until Justice/Vengeance takes him over, telling Hawke to stay out of it. Anders comes back to himself with a blank spot in his memory, and the story resolves as it always does. Heartbreaking to realize just how many of his actions may not have been within Anders' own control at all.
      • If Anders gives Hawke The Big Damn Kiss, there's a pure hunger and desperation in it. Not only has Anders been a Celibate Hero with Justice inside him, he knows that the relationship is probably doomed.
      • Similar to how picking Blood Mage as a specialization adds a level of heartwarming to the Merrill romance, picking Spirit Healer in an Anders romance adds first a level of heartwarming then turns it into pure tearjerker, especially given the description of Spirit Healers all but stating they basically all did what Anders did with Justice. You learn the magic he uses, potentially even let a Fade spirit into your body just as he did, then watch as he falls apart, probably wondering how long until the same will happen to you.
  • Oh, a little sidebar for extra damage? The mage Anders possibly kills at the end of "Dissent" is mentioned earlier in the game in a letter from Bethany if she's at the Circle. Apparently, the two mages are friends, and Bethany is the younger girl's Cool Big Sis. Ouch.
  • Merrill and Fenris even have a small conversation about Anders in Act 3, and Merrill says she feels sorry for him because he's broken the thing he was trying to save. It's heartbreaking, especially considering how nasty he is to her.
  • Hawke can choose to kill Anders. You then get to watch his face slacken and his body crumple to the ground.
    • The expression on Anders' face right before he dies is the worst part. You can see his eyes still moving, so you know he's still alive as he lays there, but you can only imagine his last thoughts. Then his eyes close up just a little, but not completely, and his mouth opens. The expression on his face makes it look like he's about to start weeping... and then everything goes still.
  • The last conversation with an Anders whom you romanced as a rival and spared after siding with the Templars in the Gallows Courtyard. He says he wishes Hawke had killed him, says he hates the idea of siding against "his people," i.e. mages, indicates that he wants to die in the final battle or kill himself after, and then tells Hawke he will always love them and kisses them. Generally a horribly tearjerking scene.
  • Many companions have a modified outfit they adopt during the romance once it gets serious. Anders? His alternate outfit comes when you go visit him in Act 3 before he sends him on his mission to collect the ingredients for blowing up the Chantry.
    • Another thing that's more Fridge Tearjerker than anything: Anders doesn't have a modified outfit that reflects his love for Hawke, but for one he fully commits to his plans. It's a subtle way of showing that for all that he does genuinely love Hawke, Anders will never put him/her above his cause.


  • During certain points in the first two acts, Hawke can flirt with Aveline. This becomes a tearjerker when Aveline approaches Hawke about her feelings for Donnic and asks for help. During the quest, Hawke can all but outright state that they are in love with Aveline, but Aveline is too focused on Donnic to notice. And all this time Hawke can be doing all they can to help Aveline get her man. It's heartbreaking to see Hawke doing all they can to say that while Donnic might not be interested, they are, and to have Aveline not notice until after hooking up with Donnic. Can double as heartwarming if Hawke helps her get Donnic. I Want My Beloved to Be Happy, indeed.
    • This is punctuated by a fairly clever use of the dialogue wheel. When Hawke wishes to end a romance with a companion, they just have to select the broken heart symbol when it appears. During the last bit of dialogue after Aveline gets together with Donnic, one of the options is a broken heart with the words "Just be happy." Hawke breaks their own heart for Aveline's happiness.
  • There's a conversation with Aveline in Act 3 where she mentions that, according to the Fereldan army, she has been assumed dead for the past seven years, since few survived Ostagar. Her recollection of the battle is heartbreaking, because it recalls that sinking feeling as Loghain withdrew, leaving those who looked at the beacon on top of the Tower of Ishal, expecting salvation, with nothing. She mentions that any officer who returns to Ferelden will be reinstated with honors by King Alistair/Queen Anora, but it's clear from both her tone and Hawke's that, were they to return, they would be out of their element, though back home. It just shows how much the years in Kirkwall have changed all of them.
  • There's a painful party banter in Act 3 regarding Merrill and Aveline if Aveline does not marry Donnic and quits being captain of the guard. Merrill observes that she's walking away. Aveline protests that it's the best choice, but Merrill says it's only the easy one, and Aveline was always the person who made the hard choices. It was why Merrill liked her. Broken Pedestal indeed, and heartbreaking, in Merrill's normally sweet voice.


  • The break-up between Fenris and a romanced Hawke in Act 2 can count as this. In a series where The Power of Love can cause Zevran to do a Heel–Face Turn, Isabela to come back and save the day, Morrigan to soften her heart, and can give Justice an insight into humanity, it's a nasty little subversion of the idea that love solves everything and an effective Player Punch the first time around.
    • The way his voice wavers before settling into defeat is heartbreaking. Another flawlessly delivered scene, made all the more devastating by the fear growing in Hawke's voice as they realize what is happening.
      Fenris: I've never remembered anything. To have it all come back in a rush, only to lose it... I can't. I can't.
      Hawke: We can work through this.
      Fenris: I'm sorry. I feel like such a fool. All I wanted was to be happy... just for a little while. Forgive me.
  • Like most every other party member, Fenris has a lot to deal with in this game. But what really takes the cake is his final loyalty mission when you help him find his sister. When you finally find her, she reveals that it's a trap and that she led Fenris's old master Danarius right to him. But that's not the worst part, Danarius asks that Hawke return Fenris to him, and Hawke can agree. If they do, you will get gold and a letter from Danarius at your home saying that Fenris has returned to his obedient self, now that his memories have been erased again. He even invites you to visit his home in Tevinter. If you know ANYTHING about Fenris, this is the most heartbreaking fate he could endure.
    • Worse still is that if Hawke does hand Fenris over to Danarius, he doesn't even fight back - he's so gutted by the betrayal that he simply gives up and leaves with Danarius without a fight. Fenris - the guy so characterized by his constant simmering rage that it's actually one of his special class abilities - gives up without a fight.
      Fenris: Don't do this, Hawke. I need you.
    • If Hawke is in a rivalry with Fenris, Fenris says this instead: "I know we're not friends, but I can't face him without you." It shows that despite him repeatedly talking about how he wishes to kill Danarius, in the end he's still deathly afraid of facing his former master.
    • The worst (or funniest, depending on your sense of humour) part is that you betrayed your companion/best friend/love of your life for a total of five sovereigns, at a point where you could easily have more than a hundred. Danarius's letter promises a reward but never actually delivers it.
  • Fenris killing his sister is heartbreaking. "I would have given you everything." The betrayal in his voice is just... Gideon Emery nails that scene.
  • Even if Hawke doesn't give Fenris back to Danarius, and convinces him not to kill Varania? He still looks utterly defeated, declaring that he's completely alone in the world. A romanced Hawke can protest that he's not alone, because he still has them. If Fenris is at 100% friendship, he briefly adopts an expression which is purely grateful and adoring... before the sadness overtakes him again. The whole experience completely crushes his soul.


  • Isabela's back story. Isabela’s mother coldly sold her to an Antivan merchant when Isabela refused to convert to the Qun, and although they married, it was basically slavery for her. She was his plaything, punished when she misbehaved, forced to entertain his friends, and was completely miserable until Zevran came and assassinated him. The best thing she says she can say about him is that he didn't beat her. After that, she fell in love with someone else, and when the man she loved proposed to her, Isabela fled, triggered by her horrible experiences with her first husband, which broke the guy’s heart. Isabela became afraid of love and relationships because everyone in her life that should have loved her betrayed her, used her for their own selfish gain, and was abusive towards her. How is that not heartbreaking?
  • At the close of Act 2, the Arishok declares open war on Kirkwall in response to their constant provocations. Isabela has what they came for — the Tome of Koslun — but flees the city with it before the attack began. If her friendship or rivalry level is high enough, however, she comes back to try to save Hawke from the Arishok. Diplomatic!Hawke seems fairly magnanimous, and Snarky!Hawke seizes the opportunity to wisecrack (as always) but Aggressive!Hawke really doesn't take her abandonment well.
    Aggressive!Hawke: You betrayed me!
    Isabela: That's a little dramatic.
    Aggressive!Hawke: We could have prevented this if you hadn't stolen the damn book!
    Isabela: Could we? Perhaps.
  • If Hawke instead duels the Arishok, and Isabela remains free, she runs away again. And then comes back. And continues to avoid Hawke as much as possible for the next two years. It can make resuming the friendship feel more than a little awkward, but it ventures into this trope when you realize that Isabela feels so much shame and remorse for dragging Hawke into everything that she has a hard time so much as looking them in the eye, and spends most of her time trying to drown her emotions in alcohol.


  • Some of Merrill's later party banter, particularly with Aveline.
    Merrill: Aveline, you'll look after Hawke, won't you?
    Aveline: Of course I will. What kind of a question is that?
    Merrill: And sometimes Isabela gets into awful trouble. You'll watch out for her, too?
    Aveline: Merrill... what brought this on?
    Merrill: Anything could happen. You'll protect them, though. It's what you do.
    • And:
      Merrill: Aveline... do you think we'll win?
      Aveline: Win what?
      Merrill: In the end. It feels like something is ending, doesn't it? Do you think we'll win?
      Aveline: Nothing is ending, Merrill. Things are a little tense, but it will pass.
      Merrill: I hope we win. Varric will make it a good story, I'm sure.
  • In one conversation, Merrill sighs and asks why Isabela even likes her because her life's so boring in comparison to Isabela's adventure-filled life. Isabela replies that she hopes Merrill never ends up like her because Merrill is a good person and deserves better. It's just really tender how Bela's VA delivers those lines.
  • The mages in the party get a raw deal, Merrill being of course no exception. Utterly devoted to her clan and her heritage, she tries to fix one piece of her people's past at a tragic cost in the end, though this was not entirely her fault alone. Her reaction to how she's slowly turned into a story her clan's mothers tell their children to keep them in line over the course of the game is utterly heart wrenching.
    • She even says that she knew what the price could have been for her blood magic, and was completely willing to pay it if it would help the Dalish. She didn't want anyone else to get hurt because of her, so she had Hawke come along to kill her if things went bad - only to learn that her own mother-figure had elected to pay the price for her.
  • Merrill's final personal quest is just horrible. To elaborate, after years of build up after she obtains the necessary tools to reconstruct the Eluvian and possibly unlock hidden secrets about her culture, she finds that in order to truly complete it, she must first contact the demon who gave her access to blood magic in the first place. After a long trek back up to Sundermount, you finally approach the cave where Merrill made her blood pact with the demon, only to find that Keeper Marethari has not only beaten you there, but revealed that she has allowed the demon to possess her in order to prevent it from taking Merrill. You must then go through a lengthy battle with the Pride abomination that Merrill's mentor and adoptive mother has become (as an added kick to the gut, mid-way through the battle the abomination will take the form of Marethari and attempt to fool you into thinking you've won and she's regained consciousness, only to stab Merrill in the stomach as she tries to hug her and then continue fighting once more), and, after losing her only hope of restoring her culture as well as her Keeper, you head out the cave. But wait, there's more! A group of hunters who will be waiting outside the cave will now question you as to what happened. The best case scenario involves Merrill being completely abandoned by her clan, and, as word spreads, all other Dalish clans that she may ever meet. The worst case scenario involves slaughtering the hunters as well as every other member of her clan. To wrap things up, if you've chosen not to romance Merrill, the epilogue states that all of Hawke's companions eventually split apart, and for Merrill, this means that she will now have to travel the world alone, hunted by the Chantry for being an apostate and a blood mage, and rejected by her people for causing the death of her Keeper and potentially the rest of her clan.
    • This is also not mentioning the sweet and comforting comments that Anders and Fenris have for her, such as "...the world is a poorer place with you left in it"note  and "I'm not sorry she's dead. I'm only sorry she died for you."
      • To be fair, Fenris follows that up with "Let's hope the sacrifice of someone who cared for you that much isn't wasted." This makes sense, really. He doesn't hate the Keeper, even though she was a mage too, because she was strong enough to sacrifice herself to protect someone from dangerous magic. He's basically saying he hopes Merrill can become like her.
      • Even Anders, as harsh as he is, basically begs Merrill to stop with the blood magic after the quest, reasoning that few ever get second chances. It's the first time he goes from calling Merrill plain stupid to encouraging her - in his own way - to learn from her mistakes.
      • Merrill even all but concedes to their cold words (not by name but by an acknowledgement of what they've often snapped at her about) by "Merrill, Friend Or Foe?" if you pursue her rivalry path.note  While some of the dialogue in the midst of pursuing her rivalry can have Hawke genuinely be concerned for her well-being, as she grows angrier about their potential and likely "betrayal" involving the Eluvian, she becomes more reclusive around them as a result. The rivalry branch of her specialization tree really compounds this, as when compared to most of the others' (Fenris's is "agree[ing] to disagree," Isabela's is like a beleaguered husband [her] avoiding his argumentative wife [Hawke], Varric will tell Hawke's story whether Hawke likes it or not, etc.), hers is much more personal: "Accepted nowhere, Merrill has learned that she can depend only on herself."
    • This is all the more heartbreaking if you played the Dalish Warden Origin in the first game. Many of the characters from the origin are there at the camp. You may have to kill your Warden's family.


  • Sebastian's entire arc has a lot of this to it, seeing as how Hawke only meets him because his entire family - parents, brothers, even young nieces and nephews - are brutally slaughtered.
    • It's worse in Act 2, when he finds out who did it and why. It's a friend of his mother's, who wanted the throne of Starkhaven for herself. She made a deal with a desire demon, and not only had Sebastian's family annihilated but promised the souls of her own husband and children as payment to the demon for continued support. It's a blend of Tear Jerker and Fridge Horror if you think about it too much.
  • Sebastian's reaction to seeing the Chantry getting blown up is heartbreaking, especially if you've convinced him to become a brother there, and he actually believes that he has finally found where he belongs. The third game shows that regardless of what you encouraged him to do, he takes back the throne of Starkhaven; but if his home in the Kirkwall Chantry had not been taken away from him, maybe he would have stayed there and been happy.


  • The conclusion of Varric's companion quest in Act 2. Choosing to kill Bartrand may not feel like that big a deal at first; after all, Varric has, by that point, repeatedly expressed a desire to do so, and you as Hawke probably feel much the same way (especially if your sibling died in the Deep Roads). It also seems like the merciful option, especially if you don't have Anders with you and have no reason to think Bartrand isn't beyond help. Then comes the conversation as the party walks away, and Varric admits it was the hardest thing he's ever had to do. And then, years later in Act 3, he tells Fenris not to kill his sister, saying that it won't make him feel any better, and that he would know. The other option isn't much better, and in some ways may be worse, as sparing Bartrand's life means saddling Varric with the emotional burden of having a sibling who will likely never recover, but on whom he cannot give up hope.
  • If your sibling dies in the Deep Roads, Varric says in Act 2's opening voice over that he blames himself for their death. The only reason Hawke went on the expedition was because Varric gave them an in. Without him, the Hawkes might be poor, but they'd still be alive. Years later, in Inquisition, some of Varric's ambient dialogue indicates that he still wrestles with that guilt.


Example of: