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Tear Jerker / Fallout 4

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    Trailers and Music 
  • Skeeter Davis' "The End Of The World" will make you feel sad when it plays for the first time. Especially after witnessing what happens to your wife/husband and son. Props to Bethesda for taking a somber (though still beautiful) song and making it tug at our heartstrings more than the writer of the song ever intended.
  • The pre-war flashback:
    • It shows a couple tending to their newborn baby in its crib, then later showing all three of them about to be blasted away by the shockwave after they get locked out of the Vault. The couple is confirmed to be the protagonists.
    • Before that it shows dozens of citizens (including children) panicking and making a frantic run for the nearby vault after the news broadcast announces the start of the Great War. Only a few actually make it inside, the rest are left to die as the bombs hit and blow them away.
    • Just after the flashback with the parents and the baby, we see the dog perched on the crib nosing at the old toy that hovered over it, completely unaware of the life the crib once held.
  • We finally get to see the life before the war. How peaceful, how colorful, how lively it was. Considering how the world will eventually end up, it's so heartbreaking to see it. Even more heartbreaking is how it was just a facade. After the oil shortage, riots, plagues, martial law, and a decade of war with China, everyone probably just wanted to get back to their lives and pretend like everything was back to normal. Then the bombs had to cut that fantasy short. Even more heartbreaking is the implication that the male protagonist is a veteran of said war. Imagine leaving the hell represented in Operation Anchorage to marry and start a family, only for the bombs to fall only a few months after your son is born. Home from the war indeed. Even more more heartbreaking is that a protagonist who participated in the war that pushed China to launch the nukes actually has reason to feel personal responsibility for the end of the world. Big Mountain's Revolutionary Fission-based psudo-replicator technology was a potential solution for the underlying resource crisis RESPONSIBLE for the war, that came too late.
  • This one is more Tears of Joy, but the very end of the trailer. The dog sees somebody walking down the road and runs towards them. The person reaches out, revealing the Pip-Boy and Vault 111 suit they're wearing, and pets the dog. With Fallout 4 rumors coming and going what felt like every week, it was an incredibly happy moment when people saw this trailer and knew that the wait was finally over. And that last scene, combined with the simple but hopeful music, is enough to bring some people to tears.
    Mr. 111: Let's go, pal.
  • In the gameplay trailer, the newscaster (voiced by Ron Perlman) makes his newscast as in the teaser, but we see what's on the TV when he says it, complete with a dramatic, contemplative facepalm as he says "My god", as he witnesses the end of the world.
  • "The Wanderer" trailer starts with the likewise named song's lyric of "I'm the type of guy who'll never settle down". It just goes to show how much the protagonist has lost, and how far removed they've become from the world.
  • In terms of music, most of the songs that aren't a tongue-in-cheek commentary on nuclear power and warfare are about falling in love, or breaking up with a loved one, so basically the radio constantly reminds the Survivor that the love of their life is dead. Now imagine the Survivor listening to "It's All Over but the Crying" as s/he opens his/her inventory and sees those two wedding rings sitting next to each other.
  • The "Diamond City theme" is a wistful, melancholic piece that underscores the struggles of people in the city to remain civilized. It gives the early conversations with Nick a lot more gravitas should you talk to him there.
  • Talk to Codsworth as the bombs are dropping it show just how close the protagonist are (or were) to him. It'll start off with Sole Survivor expressing sadness and horror at what's happening but then it directs onto Codsworth as they realize they have to leave him, and the survivor will tell him to stay safe for them and take good care of himself. Codsworth will respond to not worry about him just focus on their family and that It Has Been an Honor to serve them. You wouldn't think a robot could sound so afraid and heartbroken at the same time, knowing that he may never see the Sole Survivor and their family again once the nukes hit, joining so many of the doomed residents of Sanctuary Hills to await the inevitable.
  • Just like what was mentioned in the trailer, you can SEE AND HEAR the Ancherman's hope drain from him, until he voices a "My God!". Just like the trailer, feeling defeated is a complete understatement as to what kind of what kind of despair he could have felt at that moment before it cut off...
  • Just when the two choice lead characters are about to be lowered into the vault, they both exchange a final "I love you" seconds before the explosion. It's painful knowing that regardless of whether you play the husband or the wife, the other will soon perish and their child kidnapped. One of the first items the player character finds in their inventory is their wedding ring, who shortly adds their now-deceased spouse's as a Tragic Keepsake. Ouch.
  • The character has the choice of picking a male or female protagonist, but can customize both. The other is the main character's spouse. They even have a baby named Shaun together. The spouse is executed and the child ripped from their arms.
  • For more Tear Jerker fodder in the Pre-War Prologue, go into baby Shaun's room and activate the SPECIAL book, baseball glove, toy bike and toy car. Your character will express an interest in Shaun's future and look forward to when he/she teaches Shaun how to play baseball, ride a bike, and drive a car. Sadly, within a few minutes, the dreaded nuclear war puts all those dreams and wishes your character had for his/her son to a permanent end...
  • Everything about the pre-war scene when the news of the bombs arrive. People fleeing to Vault 111 only for the overwhelming majority of them to be stopped at gunpoint because they're not on the pre-approved list. The Army soldiers and Vault-Tec employees guarding the Vault are also shown to be fairly sympathetic, which is somewhat rare in the series. They know they've got no chance to survive when the bomb hits, but they are still helping to get as many people into safety as they can. The Army officer who clears you through even calmly wishes you luck. They could have easily simply said Screw This, I'm Outta Here and ran or worse forced most of the innocent civilians to stay behind and gotten into the vault themselves, but instead they did their duty. Later, you can find the skeletons of these brave soldiers lying around the area around the vault, most likely struck dead where they stood, murdered by desperate civilians, or died of radiation exposure.
    U.S. Army Officer: Good luck, sir/ma'am, and God help us all...
    Vault-Tec Security Officer: We're doing everything we can, now keep moving!
    (The nuke hits, leaving no time left to get anyone else on the Vault 111 lift)
  • The live-action intro of the game has some of it. The male protagonist narrates how his ancestor, a World War 2 veteran, fought in the war so he could give his family a better life. We see how that better life came thanks to nuclear power, which allowed everyone to experience the American Dream. However the dream is shattered when resources begin to run low due to over consumption and we see two kids fight each other and protesters attacking a power plant. Then we see Chinese paratroopers invading Alaska in their thousands (most of whom will likely never see their home again), and a clearly shell-shocked US soldier sitting with a thousand-yard stare on his face while mechanics jury-rig repairs on his power armor, while more troops go off to the front lines. It's sad to see the events that lead to the Great War.
  • Seeing glimpses of the world before on terminals paints a sad picture:
    • Many entries were by people just going about their lives, unaware of how important Saturday, October 23, would be. Schools and homes across the nation were preparing for Halloween the Sunday after, the Boston Red Sox had their first chance to win the World Series in over a century, General Atomics and Poseidon Oil had meetings scheduled for the week of the 25th and the war with China was supposedly ending as U.S. Army units encroached further and further into Chinese territory. To most of the country, it was just a normal Saturday, just a day to unwind from the work week and relax with the family. And then on that fateful morning, all of that just... vanished.
    • A particularly heartbreaking example of this is the town of Jamaica Plain, south of Boston. Their Mayor's office has a room re-purposed as a time capsule. Everything in that capsule shows an optimistic people expecting that the future of 2277 would be amazing (they even thoughtfully provide a terminal to read the holotapes in case the future was so advanced they no longer used them.) Instead of this, they got nuclear annihilation and a "future" that's been going nowhere fast these past 200 years.
    • The newscaster mentions in passing that there were American soldiers still stationed in Southeast Asia on the day the War happened. If they managed to survive, ghoulified or otherwise, odds are they never made it back home.
    • The Switchboard terminals reveal that Alaska reported everything was normal in January of 2077. Then nothing for 9 months, but then at 12:01am Eastern Time, the US Navy Pacific Fleet reported 3 unidentified submerged contacts, possibly Chinese off the California coastline. At 3:37am the Air Force spotted high-altitude aircraft of unknown origin. At 9:13am, US systems detected four probable nuclear launches. At 9:26am, the President enacted Protocol MX-CN91: the immediate launch of the US's nuclear arsenal. New York and Pennsylvania were hit at 9:42am. Washington and Boston were hit at 9:47am, 5 minutes later. By noon, the world had ended. If the Chinese had indeed launched first, the situation must have been truly desperate to risk the utter annihilation of the entire planet.
  • In an abandoned cabin just southwest of Sanctuary Hills, in Ranger Cabin, there's a skeleton on a mattress. Investigation in the suitcase yields a holotape that reveals that the skeleton is of a young girl who ran away the day before the bombs fell. Why? Because she confessed she was pregnant and the father shouted and told her she should be ashamed of herself while her mother simply cried and said nothing. Lost and confused, the girl ran off and sought refuge in that cabin. The holotape is just... heart-wrenching. What's worse is that, if that girl came from Sanctuary, you might well have known her.
  • During the prologue as Nora, Nate will ask if you want to go to the park. The sarcastic remark is "Because I want to get pregnant again." While Nora was a full adult and (probably) already married, the implication that the pregnancy was unintended makes it even more personal.
  • Not so much tearjerking as just plain chilling is the last line of the last article in a terminal in the Boston Bugle building, concerning Boston's baseball team heading for an almost-certain World Series win: "But on Saturday October 23rd, 2077, the only thing that could snatch away victory is an act of God, or some obscene calamity of man. Tomorrow, my friends, the unthinkable will come to pass. And life in Boston will never be the same again." Too right they were.
  • A more tongue-in-cheek example. The Curse of the Bambino, the infamous 86-year skid, in which the Boston Red Sox did not win a championship until 2004, was never broken. They were up three games to none against a team from Texas in the 2077 World Series. Game four, the clinching game, was to be played October 23rd, 2077—the day the bombs dropped.
  • The Boylston Club, just south of Swan's Pond. No enemies, no quests, just a bar full of skeletons. Check the terminal, and you find out that this was a club for high-level government officials, their male heirs and other wealthy patrons. The terminal's final entry mentions a Memoriam Gala and Final Toast, scheduled October 31, 2077, added to the schedule on October 24, 2077 - the day after the bombs fell. Play the holotape or take a closer look at the wine bottles around the room, and you realize that these heads of wealth and government, who had survived the initial bombing, swore and acted on a suicide pact, rather than face the post-nuclear world they had helped create.
  • Both Tear Jerker and a bit of Nightmare Fuel, activate Relay Tower OSC-527, a bit south east of Diamond City, and you'll find a Distress Signal originating from Fallon's Department Store to the south. It seems that when the bombs fell a woman working in the jewelry store got trapped in a safe room and was unable to escape. She eventually died of dehydration... the voice actress really nailed the role of a desperate woman slowly dying of thirst and begging for help over the radio.
  • Just outside of Natick Banks, there's an empty house with a terminal inside it. On the terminal is the journal of a young child from before the war, whose family was desperately trying to avoid the Chinese internment camps. It's a fairly chilling reminder that no matter how nice pre-war America appeared to be, it was never truly free of prejudice.
  • Collecting the holotapes in the Boston Mayoral Shelter reveals that during the Great War, the mayor of Boston took himself, his family and staff down into the bunker. Eventually, though, a mob broke through with the apparent aim to kill the mayor and his family and get their stuff. In an effort to protect himself and his family, the mayor committed suicide by dropping a radio into a bathtub with himself in it, but unfortunately, the wife wasn't so lucky as her skeleton is in the utility room of the gym. Worst still, her holotape reveals that she's scared for their kids, especially their infant daughter and just wants to abandon the shelter and let the mob have their stuff. Borders with Nightmare Fuel because not only is there a Deathclaw in there, but there's an army of Synths patrolling the ancient hallways and they simply acknowledge you as if you were there all along.
    • Less tragic once you find out that the mayor and his wife deserved it. The mayor had constructed a luxurious nuclear shelter at the tax payers' expense, answering to his wife's insatiable needs, while leaving many people to die outside. That said, while they deserved it, their children, including a literal baby, certainly did not
  • The random, repeating distress signals all over the place, which are most of the time desperate pleas. Most of them started not long after the bombs fell, meaning that you find a skeleton there at best, or a feral ghoul at worst. The Miller family radio signal out of Big John's Salvage. The message, recorded by the patriarch of the family, explains the generator powering the ventilation system in their bunker has died, they're running out of oxygen, and they can't open the hatch. The message ends with the guy instructing his daughter to keep calm and take slow breaths. Some odd 200 years later, despite trying to hold on to a sliver of hope, you already have a sinking feeling that things didn't end well for this family. That feeling turns out to be true; but just the way the bunker is set up, will still make you feel like someone gut punched you. The first thing you'll notice is a male and female adult skeleton holding each other on the mattress. Then, you look to your right and see two child-sized mounds of dirt topped with typical boy and girl toys. And just like that, you can picture exactly what happened after that message was recorded.
  • Enter the Cambridge Polymer Labs and you'll find a bunch of feral ghouls on the ground floor, with some terminals recording that they were locked in after the bombs fell (but told that it was just a military training exercise) and told by their boss to complete the project they were working on (a new power armor coating). Seems like standard Fallout sociopathic management. Then you go into the Director's room on the second floor and check the director's terminal. The reason he locked everyone in? Because the military told him that if anyone left before completing the project they'd be shot as deserters, and he's trying to get his morale up while they perform the last few necessary tweaks that will let him call the military in to rescue everyone. While he's succumbing to radiation poisoning and an infected gunshot wound that he didn't tell his staff about. The last entry on his terminal is an apology to his wife for not being a better husband.
  • In an abandoned house just south of Bunker Hill, there are three holotapes detailing a woman named Peters who underwent voluntary radiation exposure in order to test out a radiation treatment serum, one she believed would help many people. She exposed herself to 6 sieverts worth of radiation, suffering horribly, and learned that the serum she tested was ineffective in treating radiation at toxic levels. Worse, the people in charge of the experiment refused her request to terminate the trial, ordering her to remain in quarantine for the rest of the experimental period, a period Peters knew she would not survive. The final entry ends with her telling her mom and her dad that she loved them, that she volunteered for this, and that there would be "nothing left worth burying", before saying that this was a bit too sentimental. Even worse, the abandoned house in question is full of feral ghouls, and the area where the final holotape is is home to a Glowing One, which raises some chilling implications about her final fate.
  • To the south of Far Harbor is a long abandoned island that was once home to a small farming family. There you can find the journals of Eliza, a young girl who chronicles the year leading up to the Great War. What makes these journal entries truly sad is how much of a personal touch they have, such as doodles on some of the pages. The very last page the player finds is a drawing Eliza made of her family... which can only be found after opening their bunker and murdering the entire ghoulified family in self defense. Compared to all the faceless notes and holotapes of previous games this entire sad saga packs a disturbingly human punch to the tragedy of the Great War.
  • The entire story of Kim Wu and his family, which shows what was happening to Chinese American citizens during the Sino-American war. The first set of entry terminals, found in an apartment in Pearwood, is all written from Kim's perspective and it's clear he doesn't understand what's happening. At first, he talks about how excited he is to go shopping for Halloween costumes with his family. However, an angry mod destroyed the arch (likely a Paifang) that marked the entrance to their neighborhood, forcing Kim's family to flee back to their home. Later, when a bus came by and police began entering residences and rounding people up, Kim's mother took her child to the roof and said they were playing a game and had to stay quiet. When Kim's father got home, his mom cried. His family is forced to move in with his uncle and cousin Mikey in Natick Banks. When he asks where his Aunt Song is, his uncle gets quiet and Mikey gets so upset he actually attacks Kim. His father breaks it up and explains that Aunt Song went away to a camp. Kim thinks that sounds like fun, but his father says it's not a camp for kids and asks him not to bring it up anymore.
    • While he hates it in Natick Banks, Kim later befriends a boy named Jason and they seem to get along pretty well. However, Jason's jerkass older brother gives the two of them a copy of the Red Menace holotape game and suggests they "learn something." Kim's father comes home and furious to see them playing it. He sends Jason home and tells Kim he's not allowed to play with him anymore, and is later heard arguing with his uncle. Poor Kim doesn't even understand what he did wrong.
    • The last two entries are heartbreaking. Kim says he could hear a loud boom outside and his father went out in a thick coat, scarf, and hat with all their money to buy food and water. His family debated on whether or not they could stay there. However, one night, they heard someone break into a nearby apartment. There was a fight and a lot of cuss words thrown around. Kim's father and uncle suggested they wait until the intruders fall asleep then try to make a run for it. We never learn what happened or where they went after that.

    Super Mutants and Raiders/Gunners 
  • The Enemy Chatter has been beefed up this time around, meaning that on occasion you can hear them react if you kill one of their own. Yes, the Raiders and Super Mutants will cry out in shock, grief or horror if you kill a comrade of theirs.
    Raider: (After you've killed one of his buddies) "Don't you die on me!"
    Super Mutant: "You... killed... my... BROTHER!"
    • What's even worse, is that sometimes a Raider might exclaim "Come on, I've got kids to feed!" While it might just be intended for humor, the implication behind this means you aren't just killing random bandits. You're killing mothers and fathers. People trying to survive and care for their children - kind of like you.
  • While usually possessing a lot of Narm, one of the combat dialogue from Super Mutants really hints at their underlying feelings of bitterness some of them probably have towards humans:
    • It's even worse if you consider that most of the Super Mutants were created from people the Institute kidnapped and replaced with synths. They're ordinary people who have been transformed into bloodthirsty monsters who will never see their loved ones again, and would probably kill and eat them if they ever did.
    • The story of Swan, the legendary Super Mutant Behemoth of Boston Common, is especially saddening. Once a janitor working for the Institute by the name of Edgar Swann, he was caught stealing cigarettes and was punished by being made a test subject and unknowingly injected with an experimental strain of FEV. Swann began to mutate within a week, and within two, not only did he have massively increased muscle capacity but also significantly increased intelligence. Unfortunately, he began suffering seizures into the third week, and his intelligence began deteriorating, and he became fully aware of what was happening to him, including that the strain of FEV he was injected with was fundamentally unstable. Whether he escaped from the Institute or was "discarded" like so many other Super Mutants is unknown, but from the final note he wrote, which simply reads "YOU ARE SWANN", it is clear that he wanted very badly to remember who he was. By the time you meet and fight him, he has completely degenerated into a psychopathic monster so powerful that people are warned to steer clear of Boston Common and stay out of the radioactive pond that he has made his home. And when he rises from the lake, his roar? It's not a roar, he's yelling "SWAAAAAAAAAN" . He still remembered his name, but he's so heavily degenerated at this point that it's meaning to him is lost.
  • Fraternal Post 115 seems like a regular building full of super mutants, but also with a multitude of flags and other pre-war symbols. Upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that it was where the veteran's meeting mentioned in the prologue would have taken place; a terminal mentions that the male PC was to give a speech to the attendees. If the PC (male or female) interact with the speech podium, they give a few poignant words.
    • To add to this pit of sadness, the shopping carts filled with bits of meat also contain stacks of toys. What (or who) exactly have the mutants been eating?
  • Clearing out the raiders of the Federal Ration Stockpile (just south of Sanctuary) was cool, right? That is, until you kill Red Tourette and read her terminal. Her sister, Lily, was being held hostage and Tourette's group were trying to find a way to rescue her. Nice going there, Sole Survivor...
    • In the Beantown Brewery, you find out that Lily was gunned down by Tower Tom in an escape attempt and he had been forging her notes. Tom's band of raiders were holding Lily hostage because they were starving and Red had food in the Ration Stockpile. Still, it makes killing these guys (either during Confidence Man or on your travels) a worthwhile act.
  • A minor example, but the raiders of Libertalia used to be Minutemen. After General Becker's death, they felt the organization would collapse, so they sought refuge in a series of abandoned ships. However, that location is far from ideal, as explained in the Fridge Brilliance section. They tried to make it as mercenaries and bodyguards, even executing members of their group who stole on caravans, but they failed; the Caravans routinely stiffed them out of their pay, and the Bunker Hill merchants refused to give them aid when they were starving. Within a year they had turned to extorting those Caravans and Bunker Hill via threat; the last entry by the Raider leader (about five years before the game) notes that General Becker would be sick knowing what they had become, but he's dead and they're alive. He closes with "I don't feel like writing anymore". By the time the Sole Survivor finds them, they're just as cruel and malicious as any other raider gang.
  • Those Viking raider ghouls who inhabit the FMS Northern Star? Unlike most raiders, this Wacky Wayside Tribe of shipwrecked crazies just want to be left alone and return to their Norwegian homeland, which was in all likelihood blown up by the War. The only solace is that the Survivor can put them out of their centuries-long misery. One of their quotes upon dying even translates roughly to "I'm coming home."
  • The mourning raider. He is kneeling by a grave containing the corpse of a female raider, possible his partner. He doesn't say anything and if he sees you, he'll attack like any other raider. The raiders might be a bunch of chemed out murderers, but they're still human beings.
  • In Far Harbor, some Super Mutants have shacked up in the local VIM! Pop Factory. Upon reaching deep enough into the brewery, it becomes clear why: A terminal entry within is apparently written by one, who thinks that VIM has made his mind clearer, and further within you find the vats used to brew VIM are glowing green, and you'll even see some Super Mutants sitting within in them as if waiting for something. They think they found vats of the "green stuff" that was used to make more Super Mutants. There's something oddly tragic about how they believe that their search is finally over, completely clueless to the fact that what they've found isn't even remotely close to what they were looking for.

  • In the backstory, the fate of the Commonwealth Provisional Government. A bunch of settlements in the Commonwealth tried to form a nation with the help of the Minutemen only for the Institute to view it as a threat to their power, and used Synths to destabilize the alliance, preventing it from getting off the ground and leaving the Commonwealth as messed up as it is.
    • To rub salt in the wounds, many of the residents of Boston straight up mention the New California Republic back west, either in passing dialogue or in their notes. Nick Valentine even is getting intel from back West. The Commonwealth saw what the NCR was doing to bring law and order to the wastes and wanted to do the same thing and the Institute took it away from them.
    • On the other hand, it's possible to turn this around as the Sole Survivor. Not only can you rebuild the Minutemen, but in the process and through their partnerships with the rest of the Commonwealth including the Railroad help them lay down the foundations of something like the NCR. Succeeding where the Commonwealth of Allied Settlements failed, and making their sacrifices worth a damn. Unfortunately for the Institute, this ending still requires making enemies of, and eventually destroying them.
    • The biggest irony? The Institute maybe didn't do it. It was a fight between various feuding factions in the Commonwealth. Worse, this is the Institute's Start of Darkness as prior to this incident, they actually were friends to the Commonwealth. Blamed for the events, they decided to say Screw This, I'm Outta Here and fled underground. Or sent Synths in force to try and maintain order leading to the destruction of the CPG. Either way it made them think the Commonwealth surface-dwellers weren't worth saving. In a more hopeful note the Minutemen can remain neutral with other factions. Allowing for the Sole Survivor to be both the General of the Minutemen and Director of the Insitiute.
  • After you leave any building in Diamond City for the first time, you'll see two men in the center of the market- Riley and Kyle - the latter holding a gun to the former's head. Kyle believes that his Riley was abducted and replaced with a synth. Riley on his knees almost breaks out into tears, desperately telling Kyle that he's not a synth, and even begging him not to shoot. The only thing that stops the man holding the gun is you or Diamond City Security. Riley doesn't drop a Synth Component on death, meaning the poor guy had to watch his own brother threaten him with a gun before being mercilessly gunned down by others simply trying to keep peace.
  • Phyllis Daily is easily the biggest contender for Woobie territory out of all the settlers. The woman's unhinged, pointing a gun at you, believing she's a synth that'll go berserk with no warning, and attack people. She isolates herself to protect everyone, she claims. After a bit of grudging, she allows you to poke around her home for the time being. Reading her terminal reveals that she's plagued by nightmares, and becomes violent when awoken... And attempts to shoot whoever wakes her. Eventually, she settles with a few farmers with her grandson, and one night, she takes on guard duty. She dozes off with a rifle on her lap... and suddenly awakes to a gunshot, and her grandson lay dead at her feet, soaked with blood. No raiders, super mutants, or synths attacking... only her and her grandson. The true kicker of this scenario is that if you kill her, she doesn't drop a synth component. She's just using the thought of being a synth to cope with accidentally Offing the Offspring. And if you’re a card carrying Brotherhood member with a mandate to put down synths wherever you find them, you can throw her admission of synthdom against her as a reason to execute her. When she didn’t deserve to die for that reason.
    • Regardless of how kind you are to her, even offering a spot in the Minutemen, she leaves the settlement after awhile, and depending on how you talked to her, she could either wander without purpose, or find help from Railroad agents, still believing she's a synth.
  • Diamond City will redecorate on in-game Halloween and Christmas Day. While it's pleasant to know that post-apocalyptic America has still managed to hold on to a couple of its most cherished holidays, the guards will just throw a bitter comment about it, reminding you that even though try as anyone might, they can truly never be the same in this cruel world of survival.
    Diamond City Guard (on Halloween): "Today's Halloween. But do we get treats? Noooooo. It's all tricks. All day."
    Diamond City Guard (on Christmas): "Can you believe today's Christmas? Ho ho friggin' ho."
  • Mama Murphy's backstory. The way she tells it heavily implies that she tried to give up chems before for her own health, and ultimately lost the man she loved since she couldn't use The Sight to avoid danger. It really shows why she'll be so resistant to your pleading if you try and get her to give up chems.
    • Some of her visions can be extremely cathartic and therapeutic, should you decide to give her chems. This one, in particular, is both a Tear Jerker and oddly heartwarming:
    Mama Murphy, during "Reunions": I can only see that you're on the right path. If you had any doubts in your mind, you shouldn't. The man you're after. He's the one. He wears all the pain he's caused like a shield. Be strong, kid. The Sight's getting... foggy... but your energy is glowing brighter than you know. You can win this. He can't hurt you anymore.
  • Jun and Marcy Long's backstory. When you first meet Preston's group, Jun is in a major Heroic BSoD and Marcy's being extremely bitchy and finicky. Talking to Jun after everything is all over has him reveal that their son, Kyle, was killed by the raiders when they were running. Not only has this affected their moods (Jun's moreso; the terminal entries at Quincy imply Marcy was always like this), but has clearly put a strain on their marriage. Marcy victimizes Jun and their interactions are painfully awkward. The way she acts implies that she doesn't even want to spend time with him anymore.
  • Over the course of "The Silver Shroud" questline, you find out that Hubris Comics was working on making the Silver Shroud serials a TV show, one that had all the signs of a Troubled Production. Despite all the backroom drama and passions, it was all for naught as thanks to the Great War in 2077, the show — and its creators — was put off the air. Forever.
    • Also, for such a fun quest, it can have a very tragic ending. If you're not quick enough, then Kent is very likely to die. All because he wanted to make Goodneighbor a better place, and bring back a little hope. Worse still, Hancock won't even notice if he's been killed.
  • An unintentionally soul crushing one comes if you've cleared out Atomatoys. You can find a sad holotape of a girl telling her father that she misses him and wants him to come home, and is happy he's made all those Giddyup Buttercup toys. He's alive as a ghoul in The Slog, and you can give him the holotape. His reaction is absolutely heartbreaking. And then go back to The Slog a few weeks after giving him the tape and talk to Wiseman for another excuse to get sand in your eyes.
  • At Big John's Salvage Yard, you can find a homemade bomb shelter broadcasting the "Miller Family Distress Signal" because the occupants are trapped inside. You'll learn that they were trapped there immediately after the bombs dropped due to a faulty design, and the bunker can only be opened from outside. Inside are the skeletons of two adults, who died in a last embrace. At one end of the shelter are a shovel and two patches of disturbed earth, each with a toy set ceremoniously on top... two children's graves. If you read the entries on the terminal in the house nearby, you even know their names. It takes a cold, cold person to loot those toys. This crosses into Nightmare Fuel if you start to wonder whether the children died of asphyxiation before their parents, or if their parents gave them a Mercy Kill to spare them that fate...
  • If you head to West Everett Estates, at first it just seems like yet another ruined settlement overrun by Super Mutants. Do a bit of poking around, however, and you'll uncover a more tragic tale. Before the place was run by Super Mutants, it was run by raiders. Before that, it was one of the few safe havens in the Commonwealth, where families had rallied together after the bombs fell to try and rebuild the neighborhood into a fortified stronghold. What's more, it worked... that is, until one of the residents recognized a gang of raiders he used to run with and invited them inside. Before long, just about everyone there was slaughtered and the place was taken over by the raiders. It's heartbreaking to think of how a genuinely safe community was lost because of plain human stupidity.
    • Just to turn the waterworks on even more, you can find a bomb shelter in the neighborhood with a holotape inside. Playing the holotape will treat you to a young boy, in tears, telling his mother about how the "bad men" came back and killed one of his neighbors.
      • If you go to the ruins of one of the hospitals, you can actually find a holotape from the mother (who was a nurse) containing a final message to her family that she recorded right before she attempted to make her way home, just in case she didn't make it. Based on the boy's holotape, we know she never did.
  • If you choose to read the terminals and notes at University Point. A young woman named Jacqueline started scavenging data which would improve reactor efficiency, but it becomes apparent that it's Institute data, which causes all of the people in the University to freak out, even going so far as to start accusing her of being a synth. All of the terminals have emails from the residents either giving she and her widower father What the Hell, Hero? missives to threats of expulsion to death threats. The worst part is that the residents are right; Jacqueline even posts a log with a title of My God, What Have I Done? When you arrive, all that's left of the University admin building are Institute synths and corpses. Hearthbreakingly, the last terminal you find as a note near it called "Jacq's Note" which reads: "Oh God, the Institute is here. I can hear them fighting outside. Dad, I figured out where the data is, but I think I'm too late. I'm sorry". Next to it is a skeleton wearing a bright blue dress.

    The Vaults 
  • This game really drives home how few people were aware of Vault-Tec's true nature. Even the vast majority of its employees thought they were a benevolent organization that was trying to save mankind from nuclear war. The worst thing people before the war accused them of was corporate greed. Only a few members of every Vault, if any knew, of the true purpose of the Vault. Virtually all of the people conducting the experiment were misled as to the purpose of the experiment. For example, In Vault 81 the research team was led to believe that their cruel experiments would be used to cure all viral pathogens and diseases in the post-apocalyptic world. In reality, Vault-Tec was aligned with the Enclave and would have been as enthusiastic about using the pathogens to spread disease as they would have been about using vaccines to prevent them.
  • Going to Goodneighbor and finding the Vault-Tec Rep, now ghoulified. Seeing you, he embarks on a rant on how both of you ended up two hundred years in the future, but you peacefully slept through it and remained the same while he had to struggle to survive the entire time, only be turned away from almost everywhere just because he's a ghoul. If you offer him a place in Sanctuary and he accepts it, he pleads sadly with you to come visit him soon as he walks away.
    • If you don't clear the area surrounding Goodneighbor of hostiles beforehand, there's a chance that he'll be murdered by Raiders or Gunners not long after setting out for Sanctuary. This is a massively tragic and infuriating Gut Punch, especially when you can't find him in Sanctuary, and assume that it was merely a bug that kept him from appearing there.
  • As the truth behind Vault 81 demonstrates, the non-control Vaults in general still had some choice whether or not to become the twisted, tragic messes many of them ultimately became. Yet whereas the ones tasked with implementing Vault 81's intended experiments opted not to the ones tasked with implementing those skewered projects still went through with them anyway. Whether it's out of a genuine albeit deluded belief that it's for the greater good or simply because they really are that sick, the end results say multitudes to their hubris.
    • Generally speaking, it was a combination of the "for the greater good" belief, as well as pure, unadulterated fear. At the time, everyone from the Enclave and Vault-Tec on down, fully expected for everything to blow over within a matter of months, fully expecting Vault-Tec to still be around to give the "All Clear" when they saw fit. So the overseers in these vaults were at least afraid for their own lives, if they went against Vault-Tec's instructions, and possibly even thought that whatever was done to the people in these vaults, wouldn't nearly be as bad as what would happen to them, if Vault-Tec found out that its instructions weren't followed. Even the overseer of Vault 81 noted this, but she was the rare person who thought that doing the right thing at the time, was more important than whatever the repercussions may be. Of course, as it turned out, Vault-Tec didn't survive the Great War, which meant those repercussions never came.
  • It's revealed in the logs that everyone in Vault 111, from the unwitting cryogenic test subjects to the security staff and scientists, were in the end lied to; at least some even expressed bitter regret over being involved with the experiment. The Vault itself only had about six months' worth of supplies and designed to be remotely observed indefinitely, the ones tasked with overseeing the experiment told to wait for an All-Clear signal from Vault-Tec that would never come. All of which underscores how everyone was expendable in the eyes of Vault-Tec and ultimately, the Enclave.
    • While the expendability was true, Vault-Tec honestly believed that they'd be around after the bombs fell. Even the Enclave thought their time aboard the oil rig would only be temporary, but things turned out a lot worse than they expected.
  • Vault 95 was filled with addicts and there were procedures in place to help detox and rehab them. After 5 years all of them were clean and functional. Vault-Tec's mole opened up a secret stash of drugs and alcohol to see if their absence was the only reason the residents rehabbed. He only made his initial report. Another resident's log mentions how practically the whole vault descended into chaos almost immediately.

  • The first objective your quest log gives you when you exit Vault 111 and see the remains of the Commonwealth? “Go home”. The Pip-Boy almost seems to be mocking you with the idea that you even have a home to go back to after the bombs reduced it to ashes two hundred years ago. And yet… what else would anyone try to do in the Sole Survivor’s shoes? It’s this moment that truly establishes the theme of the entire game: trying to go back to your previous life, even when you know deep down there’s almost none of it left to go back to.
  • When you finally come out of Vault 111, find Codsworth and as you talk to him, he brings up your spouse's holotape. As you listen to it, you can hear the love and warmth of your spouse's words as Shaun playfully coos in the background. This is after you've seen your spouse shot to death, Codsworth in clear denial about the whole thing, and hearing Shaun sound so happy, it's heartbreaking to see that perfect family life come to an end. A pure tear-jerker at its finest, having to lose your better half and your son, it's hard to stop the tears from flowing. Its title is Hi Honey.
    Nate/ Nora: Everything we do, no matter how hard; we do it for our family. Say goodbye Shaun. Bye-bye! Say bye-bye! Come on! Hahaha! Bye honey! We love you.
  • Kellogg's backstory. The whole memory room sequence has you discover that Kellogg was born in the most typically tragic conditions, with an abusive father who might've been a raider and a mother who, although tough, seems to teeter on the edge of the Despair Event Horizon. At the end of the first memory, Kellogg's mother gave him a pistol, so that he may protect himself from his father. Then things seem to look up as he ends up with a happy family and a newborn child...Until they're all killed by raiders. This pushed Kellogg across the Despair Event Horizon big time. We see a man who despite all his tough upbringing, grew up to try his hand at being a loving father and husband, then had it all taken away from him in further proof that there is no kindness, no idealism, no goodness in this world to believe in. Speaking with him, you get the feeling that this is a man whose very soul is wrung out by sheer grief, and who became an amoral mercenary simply because there is nothing else for him to do. The fact that he did not become a raider himself to Rape, Pillage, and Burn somehow makes things even worse - he was so broken that he couldn't even muster the will to do evil, or to kill himself. What he could do is to become an agent of the world's unfeeling machinations, and wait quietly for it to finally end, somewhere, someday.
  • Have you ever shot out a Deathclaw's legs? It makes fighting them really easy. But damn, if the way they try to crawl away from you afterward isn't pitiful.
    • Take a good look at their legs when you do that. The tibia just below the knee is jutting a good foot out of the body.
    • Also worthy of note is the way that a Deathclaw with a crippled leg may continue limping doggedly towards you. At that point, finishing them off seems like the most merciful course of action.
  • Zao, the Ghoul Captain of the Chinese submarine Yangtze that has been stuck off the coast of Boston for the last two centuries. When you first meet him, you can tell by the quiet, sometimes broken English he uses that he's not talked to anyone for a very long time. He's spent the last couple centuries repairing what he can so he could return home, which he knows has probably been hit as bad as America, all the while sounding nothing but remorseful for the orders he followed in launching his boat's nuclear payload. He actually says that if he makes it to China he will build a house or at least lay down and die in his homeland. The player can help him - a former enemy, no less - achieve this by getting him the nuclear fuel coils he needs to keep his ship from exploding when he starts it. Only for him to say that his crew's still there, and feral. That he can't bring himself to do the deed himself, as they are the only family he has left, a family that must die so he can finally make the trip back. Hell, him just trying to talk to you is sad, as he is clearly struggling to remember the language he desperately needs to use to ask for help. You can twist the knife in further by selecting the “Die Commie!” dialog option and shooting him. Or worse yet, complete his quest, get his reward including his sword and the three homing grenades for tactical strikes, then kill him and loot his unique submariner’s uniform. Proud of yourself?
  • There's a random encounter with a man named Gene, in which he's being followed by a Junkyard Dog. As it turns out, he's trying to sell the dogs, and raises them for this exact purpose. Of course, it's painfully clear he still loves them all. So much that you have to pass a charisma check in order to actually *buy* one from him. Do that, and you're treated to him barely holding back tears as he gently tells the dog that you're her new owner and that she's going to a new home. Jeez. Feel bad yet?
    • If you say that you don't need a dog, he actually expresses relief that he won't have to say goodbye just yet, making this encounter cross a little into Heartwarming territory.
  • It's a very minor detail, but a haunting one when noticed: in the projector room of the Starlight Drive-In Theater, there's a small mattress, a skeleton lying on it, and a 10mm pistol right next to them...
  • When you meet the robot Drinking Buddy, it gives you a cold beer. Your character will immediately ask, "Do you know how long it's been since I've had a cold beer?" This is one of the few times your character sounds genuinely choked with emotion. And with good reason: Let's be honest, an honest cold beer is not exactly easy to come by in the Commonwealth, given that there's no ice, or working refrigerators. To receive something so... simple, but such an important part of the old world, the world that's gone forever, so unexpectedly... who wouldn't shed a tear?
  • This may be YMMV, but look at the painting selections in the Workshop mode. They're mostly of kittens, puppies, various landscapes such as mountains and fields, and even one of an elk in silhouette. Why is this a Tear Jerker? Because your protagonist, a pre-War citizen would've remembered a time when the world used to look like that. A world that now only exists in memories and paintings.
  • Arlen Glass was a famous toy designer before the war, the man behind Giddyup Buttercup. He sadly never had time to spend with his daughter, and never got the chance to see her before the bombs fell and he became a ghoul. If you find a holotape from his daughter and give it to him, he becomes overwhelmed with emotion. Someone, give this poor man a hug!
    Arlen Glass: She was right, y'know. I did work too much. And now...I'll never hear her voice again, never get to hold her, kiss her good night...
  • Your eventual reunion with Shaun. You infiltrate the Institute at last, and are lead by a voice over intercoms to a room where he sits. It's your son! You call out to him, but he doesn't recognize you and calls out for "Father". You're confused: you're standing right in front of him (or if you're playing a female character, tell him his father died), but his distress escalates until an older gentleman walks in and, with a spoken code, deactivates him. This child is actually a synth! The man introduces himself as "Father", the leader of the Institue...and your son, Shaun! To say that it's unbelievable would be an understatement.
    • This entire setup and meeting is a tearjerker for another reason - as it highlights just how emotionally distant the Institute has become, due to their For Science! obsession. You find out that despite how sentimental Father has become, that he treated your release, your encounter with Kellogg, and even your journey to the Institute as one giant, multi-level science experiment, culminating in using Synth!Shaun as bait, just to see how the Synth would respond. Completely oblivious to how heartless and cruel such a "trick" would be to you.
  • The starting quest of Automatron will always result in you being too late to save Ada's caravan. Just to twist the knife further, Jackson and Zoe were in possession of journals that detailed their thoughts before events transpired. Jackson's log has him confide his fears about the robot attacks and stating he'll have to upgrade his robots. Zoe's diary shows she's little different from a teenage or young adult woman especially in her entry detailing her joy in discovering a shopping centre and anticipation of reaching Diamond City. This was her last entry.
  • In Automatron if you manage to talk the Mechanist down, she's really a meek, nervous girl who adopted the bombastic Mechanist persona in an attempt to help the Commonwealth. She just hadn't counted on the Robobrains interpreting her orders in a murderous fashion.
  • Most everything related to The Mariner in Far Harbor, once you've befriended her. It turns out she has a terminal illness, and she doesn't have very much time left. Before she dies, she just wants to help the people of Far Harbor, even though she thinks that they're kind of dicks. After helping her fortify the town's wall against any possible attackers, she asks the you to help her hunt a mythical creature that had been terrorizing ships for years, something she's wanted to do ever since she was a girl. The creature in question is a tiny little Mirelurk, and the ships had been lost crashing into the rocks nearby. Naturally, she's gutted that her lifelong dream turned out to be nothing but a joke. The worst part of all of it is that there's nothing you can do to save her. With all the other opportunities you have to help people in the game, you'd probably expect to be able to materialize some cure for her. You can't.
  • The Unsent Letter from a girl named Ophelia, where she declares to her parents that she's sick of living a sheltered existence under their protection, and is ready to strike out on her own as a grown woman who can take care of herself. You find this letter on her severely mutilated corpse, inside the Gauntlet leading into Nuka-World.
  • Even though his chunk of the park can be That One Level for players with low Rad Resistance, Oswald the Outrageous is incredibly sad when you get down to it. A performer from back before the Great War, he's one of the few Glowing Ones that isn't completely feral and has been defending Kiddie Kingdom for centuries. Unfortunately for him he's pretty Wrong Genre Savvy about being a Ghoul, believing his radioactive pulses and the healing effects they have on other ghouls to be actual magic. He also doesn't quite understand that Ghouls eventually go feral due to radiation and chalks it up to some disease. Worse still is the fact that his girlfriend left quite some time ago to search for a cure that doesn't exist, and she might either be dead or feral herself.
  • The ending of Sierra Petrovita's personal quest in Nuka-World: you find the creator of Nuka-Cola is still alive, as a severed and chemically-sustained head, whose centuries of isolation and helpless state has left him begging for you to end the torment that is his life. Naturally, Sierra is aghast at the idea and begs for you to spare his life. The man may have been a bastard who was working in the military and signed off on all the unsafe crap in Nuka-World, but still, leaving him trapped like this is Disproportionate Retribution. Especially since you'll be leaving him with company... in the form of a Loony Fan whose addiction to Nuka-Cola has almost literally rotted her brain. But, if you do give him a Mercy Kill but told Sierra you wouldn't, then Sierra will snap and attack you in a blind rage for killing the man who was like a living god to her, forcing you to gun her down. If you weren't pointlessly cruel to her however, she will accept that killing him was the best solution, ending the quest on the possibly best note.
  • If the Sole Survivor takes the "one day at a time" response for Piper's interview, it turns what could be heartwarming into something tearjerking, showing how the Survivor is barely keeping it in.
    I asked [Sole Survivor's Name] to make a statement to Diamond City. to give us an outsider's perspective on what it means to lose a loved one, and how he/she feels. Maybe, in some way, it's how we should all feel. Maybe we're forgotten what the right, human response to these tragedies are.

    "You can only take it one day at a time," He/She said. "Just keep going. That's all anyone can do."
  • In North End, there's an unmarked pastry shop called Mean Pastries. In it, you won't find any hostiles, but you will find a work light shining on a lone house cat, standing next to the skeleton of a dead woman and never moving away from where they're standing, you're left asking yourself; "How long has that cat been in there? is the skeleton their owner? is the cat still grieving? does the cat even know that person is dead?" Whatever answers you guess at with any of those questions, it's doubtful any of them make the set up any less tragic.
  • A final implied tearjerker is that all the physical ephemera you find throughout the game—the letters, the holotapes, etc—are generally stories of people’s lives just before the bombs fell, and even some aftermath occurrences. Some are in the form of last-minute confessionals, some are love letters to people they know they will never see again, almost all of them are heartbreaking little stories on their own. The overarching theme is that people generally weren’t afraid of dying so much as they were afraid of being forgotten. Add to it that most of these items can be added to your inventory if you choose to keep it. If it’s not a part of a bigger quest, it just becomes another thing to carry around, even though it doesn’t add to your weight. Consider that the simple act of hanging on to these things is Sole Survivor’s way of honoring all those people’s memories, even people he/she didn’t know, there is still one person who will remember them.
    • Except that if you do keep them all, they eventually overwhelm your inventory so that there’s no way you could possibly remember what each one is unless you select it to read or listen to again. If you offload them into some container, they become just another box crammed with random stuff that winds up forgotten and never looked at again, and the tragedy begins anew.
  • The whole Last Voyage of the USS Constitution is one big funny moment, but it's a bit sad when you realize the ultimate fate of Captain Ironsides and his crew. Even without taking the massive entrance hole in the ship's hull into consideration, the ship is bound to sink the moment they finally hit water because of the weight of the rocket engines. Imagine working to achieve a goal over the course of several centuries only to die realizing that it was All for Nothing.
  • There is a random event where you will come upon an impromptu funeral - four settlers holding a burial service for their friend, Blake. After the pastor gives his eulogy, he asks if the other attendants have anything to say. The responses vary from one mourner, a sentient ghoul, saying that Blake was a good friend, suggesting that he was a rarity amongst Commonwealth humans in that he wasn't bigoted against ghouls. Another mourner regrets that she never confessed her love to Blake, and now it's too late. But the moment the tears hit you is Marcus. At first, he waves off Blake's death as, "people die everyday," but almost immediately he crumples, demanding to know why Blake had to die when Marcus, who calls himself "the asshole of the group," who "had it coming" gets to go on living.
  • An odd example comes from the "Start me Up" Alternate Start mod, which can change the player's role in the main story into a wastelander who stumbled into Shaun's kidnapping by accident while exploring a Vault. The audio recording that kickstarts the main quest for them is found roughly midway through the tutorial area of the vault on the corpse of the default player character. The story played out almost exactly the same, except instead of going on an adventure as a Fish out of Water the vanilla PC died suddenly and alone without ever knowing the truth of what happened to their son.
    • This also makes Codsworth a more tragic character as his modified dialogue makes him seem like he's just desperately trying to convince himself that a stranger who might look nothing at all like his dead master is that same master.
  • If you look closely around the Commonwealth, you may see skeletons sitting on their porch with beer bottles nearby. It seems innocuous at first until you realize that these were people who, upon hearing the sirens, knew that the apocalypse was upon them and decided to have one last beer and one last look at the world they knew before the bombs hit.

  • If you revisit Vault 111 with a Companion and take them to your spouse's cryopod, they IMMEDIATELY realize who s/he was, some of them trying to comfort you, or quietly telling you to take all the time you need. Even your Token Evil Teammates offer their condolences.
    • It gets worse if it's Codsworth who is accompanying you. He breaks down crying upon looking at your wife/husband's frozen body, one of the very few times his unfailingly chipper demeanor completely cracks.
    • Nick's reaction to your spouse's body is also heartbreaking, and what makes it sadder is the revelation that Nick also had a fiancée who was murdered - He knows exactly how the sole survivor is feeling. The voice acting absolutely nails it.
    Nick Valentine: Now that's not...oh. Oh I'm so sorry.
    Hancock: Damn... Hey look, if you wanna get out of here...
    Piper: Is... is that who I think it is? You okay?
    • Here, you can watch them all break down in front of your spouse.
    • Speaking of, even though the male Sole Survivor never comments on it himself, there's an extra punch in the fact that Piper looks almost exactly the same as his murdered wife (assuming you kept her default appearance) and has a similar personality as well.
  • Making a companion dislike you enough to the point of them leaving will cause them to confront the Sole Survivor next chance they get. The resulting conversation can be rather heartbreaking, especially when the Sole Survivor wasn't pleasant with them or they failed to convince the companion to stay. Codsworth, Curie and Piper's dialogue should they decide to leave for good are especially harsh. All companion reactions can be seen here.
    • The video also included what several companions would say as their final words should they be made non-essential and killed. Codsworth's "Mum...I...I'm dying..." and Piper's "Blue..." are very painful to hear and can make the player grateful that they can't be killed normally.
  • Just about all the companions have a Woobie-ish backstory in some fashion, making the reveal some kind of Tear Jerker moment:
    • Cait was raised by Abusive Parents who sold her to slavers at 18, is addicted to drugs that are killing her, and once she was free of her slavers, returned home to take violent revenge on her parents. Far from giving her closure, it has left her bitter and full of self-loathing. Her life at the Combat Zone has been nothing but brutal struggles, to the point she's surprised that Sole cares about her as a person, and it is ultimately revealed that she had come there to die before you came along.
    • Preston is technically the last Minuteman, trying to stop a cause he believes in from dying with him. He was present at the Quincy Massacre and watched as the Minutemen either abandoned their ideals or were murdered. And he's been losing people ever since, most recently in a feral ghoul ambush. Once his approval is high enough, he reveals that all this pushed him to the brink of suicide, and Sole's help is the only thing that stopped him from just giving up on surviving.
    • MacCready left his home at the young age of 16, and lost his wife to feral ghouls. He actually saw her torn apart by them, and from how he speaks, it's clear her death still haunts him. He expresses disappointment in himself for lying to her about 'being a soldier' because he didn't want to admit he was a merc, killing people for caps. His young son fell seriously ill, and he hasn't been able to find a cure. MacCready sought work with the Gunners, but was so disgusted, he left. Since then, they harass him and stop him getting work.
    • Piper says with a slightly bitter voice that her mother was 'out of the picture' during her childhood, suggesting that they parted on sour terms. She was raised by a loving father until he was murdered because he found out his boss was taking bribes from Raiders. No one was prepared to help her, so Piper had to get justice on her own, then raise her little sister herself. Even now, the people of Diamond City tend to shun her because of her newspaper.
    • Nick Valentine was an Institute-created late-model Gen-2 prototype. His fond memories of the place include being pulled apart and put back together again, over and over. His physical body is decaying, he faces persecution for being a synth. On top of that, he has serious existential issues, because every part of his identity he owes to the original Nick Valentine. That includes a fiancée murdered by mafia boss Eddie Winter. Nick has been single-handedly trying for years to find Winter and bring him to justice. Even worse, after you complete his personal mission, he reveals he's still not okay with having the memories of a dead man. He says in a strange combination of anguish, anger and pride that no one really matters — not you, not him, not anyone — except for what actions they take, because the only thing anyone can do is be a difference in other people's lives. There's a fridge sadness to it, because Nick is essentially calling himself an Un-person.
    • Curie was created to help the Vault-Tec scientists stuck in Vault 81. This means that she had to witness her friends' deaths, and we see the memorial she laid out at their caskets. Once she is in a synth body, the grief of this hits her full force, and she struggles to deal with the sudden emotion. All that time she was stuck in the Vault alone, with nothing but some diseased mole rats. If Sole ever returns to Vault 81 with Curie, she asks in a very sombre voice if you can leave as soon as possible.
    • Hancock reveals that he used to live in Diamond City, and his brother is the mayor. He did little to help as Diamond City's ghoul population were thrown out of the city to die. After leaving in disgust, he went to Goodneighbor, which back then was ruled by a scumbag named Vic who liked to prey on those who could not afford a place to live, and after witnessing one such drifter get killed by Vic's men, he went on a huge bender which ended with him waking up in front of the clothes of the original John Hancock, prompting him to reinvent himself and take a stand, killing Vic's men and Vic himself. Although he's now the respected leader of Goodneighbor, it's clear those years of Bystander Syndrome weigh on him. There are also times when he seems self-conscious as a ghoul (particularly when you start a romance).
    • Deacon's final approval conversation reveals that he used to be part of a violent anti-synth group. After someone was eventually lynched and he had doubts that the victim really was a synth, he had a Heel Realisation and left. His past caught up with him when he settled down, married a lovely woman and tried to have kids. She turned out to be a synth and his old group found out, murdering her for it. This prompted him to kill all his old gang in a fury to a man. No matter how much time has passed since then, he still seems to suffer from grief, as well as deep self-loathing for his past actions.
    • Danse's hatred for non-humans can be linked to witnessing his friend captured and turned into a super mutant. Later in the Brotherhood quest-line, we also discover that Danse is a synth, the very thing he hates. Those memories of his friend may or may not even be his own. His admired leader, Maxson, orders his death. You can go through with it. Even if Danse is allowed to live, he is cast out of the organisation he's dedicated his life and soul to. They shoot on sight if they see him. All this, while he's also in the midst of an existential crisis.
    • Codsworth wasn't able to join you (his family) in the Vault. So instead, he got to spend the last 200 years alone at Sanctuary, trying to adjust to the new world and not go insane. When you meet him, he's managed remarkably well, but can reveal that he's had a miserable time. One of his few attempts to find other people involved being attacked by Raiders in Concord and fleeing home.
    • Compared to the others, Dogmeat, X6-88 and Strong have much less in the way of Tear Jerker material. However, as an ownerless dog, Dogmeat is probably quite a lonely pooch, and is clearly eager to follow you around when you greet him. Depending on your opinion of synths, there's some 'Fridge Sadness' in X6-88 thinking he is nothing more than a blunt instrument for the Institute to use. His whole life is dedicated to nothing more than catching his own kind and returning them to slavery. Meanwhile, when you find Strong, he's been stuck in a cage by his own 'brothers' and they intend to bet on how many times he'll bounce when he gets thrown off a rooftop.
  • Apparently, one of the first locations you find when you leave the Vault is your old neighborhood. Codsworth, your faithful robot butler, is there to greet you, rusting and falling apart, and tells you you're 200 years late for dinner. He just sounds so happy to finally see the player again. Even as a robot he must have been suffering from horrible loneliness being alone in that house for 200 straight years. And since he is a robot, he's been unable to follow his directive, his only reason for existing, for just as long. Since the Mr. 111 is a mechanic of sorts (being able to mod weapons and even power armor) you might be able to fix Codsworth up... or not.
    • With the release of the Automatron DLC, the answer most DEFINITELY is able, and then some.
    • Now the game's out, we see that Codsworth IS capable of emotion, as he will have an emotional breakdown in front of you because not only has he been completely alone, he hasn't been able to keep the (destroyed) house clean, so he feels as though he's failed you. Even worse, he starts SOBBING if you take him to Vault 111 and show him your partner's body.
    • Made sadder if you tell him about what happen to your wife/husband and son. He's in clear denial over the truth and insists to help you look for your family.
    • He even goes so far as to give you a special holotape made by your spouse, which he never once listened to out of the belief that it was for you to hear alone.
  • Fallout 4 really went to give a lot of the characters and people in it's world more personality and realistic behavior. In previous games (sans New Vegas,) most of your companions didn't have much of a reaction to what you did beyond a few quips and possibly leaving. Here, you can see that's not the case with your companions, at least with murdering any innocent people. The most heartbreaking example of this one, however, would be Codsworth, who not only tries to deny that you deliberately killed anyone innocent, but begs you to either say it was a mistake, or to please stop... because he couldn't bring himself to serve a cold-blooded murderer, yet he wouldn't know what to do with himself if he left you.
  • Discovering that Paladin Danse is a synth can already be a hard truth to swallow. Being sent to execute him is even harder. Finally reaching him only to learn that he's prepared to die knowing he's the enemy, and he decides to Face Death with Dignity and just kneels and waits for you to finish him, is crushing. But only if you back down and accept your duty to kill him does he drop the single most heart wrenching part. He says that he's never been more proud of you than he is at that final moment.
    • When you find Danse, he lays out how horrible this Tomato Surprise is for him. Not only has he discovered his entire life is a lie and he has no idea how much of his memories aren't even his, but his entire belief system has been betrayed. Danse was fanatically loyal to the Brotherhood and their cause, and believed as strongly as anyone that Synths are inhuman abominations, a perversion of technology that symbolized mankind's self-destructive nature. And then he finds out he's what he hates. Danse is so loyal to the Brotherhood, that he accepts that if he wants to uphold the very ideals he's spent his life fighting for, he has to die. Most of the Brotherhood would probably give their lives in the name of their duty, but for Danse, that means something very different.
  • Going back to the topic of drugs, Cait. She was sold into slavery by her parents at age 18. It's not explicitly stated what she was forced to do, but the implications aren't pleasant. She manages to get her freedom and kills her parents, then spends her life pumping herself full of Chems and earning money as a cage match fighter. Right before her loyalty quest, she confides that she's so hooked to Psycho she's been sneaking it behind your back, and is starting to cough up blood. When finally given the opportunity to get herself sober in Vault 95, she's hesitant; worried that her addictions are the only thing holding her together and afraid of what she'll think of herself when clean.
  • For those who like having Cait as a companion, seeing her squirm and scream in pain as the detox chair in Vault 95 removes the lethal toxin from her body during her Personal Quest will be uncomfortable. Her very obvious frown during the whole procedure tells you all you need to know about how much she really hates this.
  • Most of the companion's reactions to Fiddler's Green Trailer Estates are funny. Then you get to Cait.
    Cait: Spent me childhood livin' in trailers like this. Of course, me parents made me sleep outside.
  • While walking around in various settlements, Piper will sometimes step away from the player to ask NPCs for comments for the paper. For the most part, these interactions simply serve to add life to the world, and sometimes they're quite funny. Except in Diamond City, where the answers she gets range from slightly rude to downright cruel. Piper's response to these remarks is usually a subdued, "I see. Well, thank you for your time." During her highest affinity scene, she reveals that as soon as she started the paper, almost all of Diamond City started treating her poorly. In her own words: "Seemed like overnight I'd gone from 'Piper, friend and confidant' to 'Piper, the nosy snoop.'" She has a few friendly acquaintances in Diamond City like Nick Valentine and the Bobrov brothers, but aside from Nat, the Sole Survivor is the first person Piper has ever felt really close with since losing her father.
    • Which makes it all the more heartbreaking if you cause her to walk out on you. You were her only true friend, and you completely betrayed her trust. Are you proud of yourself?
  • Nick gets a roller-coaster of emotion when he comes to Far Harbor. He discovers that he has a brother, and that he was the one who helped him escape the Institute. Then he finds out that his brother is a murderer. It ends with either A) His brother becoming just as bad as the Institute, with killing and replacing people with mind-wiped synths. B) His brother executed for his crimes.
    • It stings even worse if you talked Nick into accepting DiMA as a brother after leaving the Nucleus. Especially since Nick and DiMA agree to start over and patch things up between them when you return to Acadia. Which you know you'll deny them the chance to do the second you step in to confront DiMA with memories and evidence of his crimes.
  • Although the Open Season quest goes under the Fallout 4 section, it is a heck of a tear inducing downer for Porter Gage. This is a guy who is a Visionary Villain who isn’t content with the short term nihilism ofmost raiders. He saw too many gangs fall apart due to alcoholism, drug addiction, laziness and mindlessness. He instead wants to build a large hegemony, an Evil Empire of sorts. And he put in a lot of work to be on the way to accomplishing it. He somehow convinced three mutually distrustful gangs to buy into his idea. He coordinated their efforts to take Nuka World, from which he wanted to secure the various parks to further fortify his new hegemony. Unfortunately the Overboss he’d backed got lazy and started to rest on his laurels, making the three gangs restive. Then a random vault dweller is strong enough to make it through the gauntlet, Gage becomes hopeful that his plan can get back on track with this Vault dweller. So he conspires with that person to overthrow the Overboss - once again after working hard to get the three gangs to buy in. Then this new Vault Dweller Overboss actually does the work to clear the parks. And in the process, unlocks not just a sweet new Quantum Power Armor, but also a nifty sword, a cool baseball bat and a new extra powerful nuke launcher! And then this Overboss turns around and slaughters them all. All that work, securing an alliance between gangs, all that effort into taking Nuka World, all down the sewer not because of laziness or incompetence brought about by substance abuse, but due to a carefully orchestrated betrayal. All because Evil Cannot Comprehend Good so Gage’s pleas of Evil Feels Good fell on deaf ears.

     Factions and Endings 
  • There's a reason that the main page says that deciding which faction to side with in the game is a Sadistic Choice:
  • The Railroad does great good by helping Synths escape the Institute. Unfortunately, many synths are forced to undergo memory wipes to make this possible. Be this either because they want to forget the traumas they endured, or just want to avoid capture better. A shining example of this is H2-22, a synth that you personally escort to Ticonderoga Safehouse during the Railroad's questline. He decides to have his memory wiped, and even decides to leave a goodbye message to you before Dr. Amari wipes him:
    H2-22: The doctor said I could say goodbye. I've decided... to have the operation. I know I'll lose all my memories. I don't want you to be sad. I... I have nightmares. And this world, the SRB, being hunted. I just can't handle it. Everyone says I'll be safer if I start a new life. I know I'll be happier. My only regret is I'll forget... Old Man Stockton. High Rise. And you. Looking back, there's only fear. Worse than fear. But I will miss my new... friends.
    Dr. Amari: It's time, H2.
    H2-22: I... uh... thanks.
  • The fact that you can't save Shaun no matter what you do. The quest you began when you first stepped out of that cryo pod in Vault 111 was doomed from the very beginning, because by the time that you're actually released, it's already far too late to reverse the damage that the Institute has done to him — and when you finally do reunite with him, he's become the Big Bad.
  • In three of the possible endings, you choose to side against the Institute's director, or in other words betray Shaun, your son, and everything that he has built and accomplished, in the name of doing what's right (preventing mankind from destroying itself with technology once again, securing freedom for the enslaved Synths, or bringing peace and stability to the Commonwealth).
    • His bitterness at your betrayal, especially after the Institute welcomed you with open arms (allowing you to infiltrate unimpeded) and him naming you his successor, will make you wish you had the option to have the Sole Survivor stay with him as the Institute is nuked.
    Father: Tell me, then... Under what righteous pretense have you justified this atrocity?
    The Sole Survivor: ...Seriously? All the enemies you've created, and you can't imagine why I'd be standing here?
    Father: Perhaps I didn't think to count you among them.
    • You can also choose to reject Shaun 2. He even calls you "Dad/Mom" to yank at the heartstrings.
      • Oh, it gets worse. If you chose to destroy the Institute with the Minutemen, Sturges will personally call you out for leaving Shaun 2 to die, asking if you're really going to abandon "your own flesh and blood". You can try and rationalize it by pointing out that Shaun 2 is not your real son, but this will just make Sturges even more disgusted. Feel proud of yourself?
      • If you chose to destroy the Institute with the Brotherhood of Steel, it results in one of the most absurdly hypocritical What the Hell, Hero? moments, if you intend to leave Synth!Shaun behind. Yeah, that's right - the faction that wholeheartedly (except for Haylen) believed that killing Danse - one of their most loyal and respected members - was the right thing to do, when they find out he's a synth, and won't even bat an eye if you don't give the evacuation order, will object and call you out on leaving Synth!Shaun behind.
  • No matter which faction you pick, you're bound to hurt a potential friend. Side with the Institute or the Brotherhood, and you have to kill Deacon, and leave Nick & Curie's fate in very questionable hands. Side with the Institute or Railroad and Danse will never speak to you again. Side with the Railroad or Brotherhood and you ensure that you and Shaun will end on very negative terms, with him effectively hating you. Maybe worse with the Railroad because you act as a mole for a long time, building his trust and affection (not to mention some other Institute members) before tearing them down.
    • Fortunately, none of that is true if you pick the Minutemen. The Brotherhood is shocked (and a tad intimidated), and the only thing they're disappointed in is that you didn't invite them. The Railroad is happy, and they appreciate that while you may not have trusted them enough to do it, you at least kept their members out of danger (but they will be much more apprehensive if you didn't issue the evac). They are also the only faction to encourage you to spare unarmed Institute members and issue the evacuation order during the final mission, which, by extension, leaves you on the best possible terms with Father. Shaun 2 is happy when you take him, even making wildly sophisticated weaponry and armor when you find him trash he wants.
  • The ending cinematic, narrated by the Sole Survivor. It's rather sobering that in spite of all you accomplish, your family is gone no matter what you do.
    • Moreso for the Institute ending, which adds and starts off with Shaun's passing.
    • There's an additional preface depending on whether you sided with the Institute...
    Sole Survivor: I've lost Shaun, all over again
    • ...or decided to destroy it with one of the three other factions
    Sole Survivor: I can feel it all wash over me. The heat. The force. The radiation...the fear. It's the end of the world - all over again.
  • Some of the last missions in the game become this based on your faction. Since two factions have you destroy the Brotherhood (including Haylen, Danse, Quinlan, and all the other characters you've met in the Brotherhood); anyone who did some of the Brotherhoods' quests but ultimately settled on the Institute or Railroad has to suffer killing them all to complete the main quest. Then, there's destroying the Railroad for the Institute and Brotherhood, since the Railroad is arguably tied with the Minutemen as the Token Good faction, and it's likely that some good-leaning players will join them. The only faction that doesn't require killing anyone not from the Institute is the Minutemen, and even then the Brotherhood and Railroad will probably still end up destroying each other later.
    • Sadly, after destroying the Institute, you can build Artillery in your settlements and shoot down the Prydwen. Thankfully, this is completely optional.
  • The whole Institute questline is one, and it can get a lot worse depending on how you play your character and the decisions you make in dialogue. Shaun reveals that he has a terminal illness, and the normally stoic player character really shows how much this news guts him or her. This can get even more heart wrenching, there are dialogue options that let the player character express that they hate the Institute's methods and despised having to commit violence in their name, but they did it it anyway because of the unconditional love of their son. When Shaun is actually on his deathbed, the player character is audibly and visibly emotionally gutted again as they spend Shaun's last moments together as a family.
  • The Fridge Horror element which also doubles as Nightmare Fuel as well as a Tearjerker. All of the 3rd generation Synths are cloned from Shaun. Which means they're all your biological grandchildren. You'll have killed many of them by the time you reach Shaun if you're against the Institute; and if you're for them, you're contributing to their slavery and have to kill more.
  • Not as evident, but the reason the East Coast Brotherhood has become more like its brethren in the West Coast (if they still exist at all following the war with the NCR) was to ensure the Brotherhood's survival in the East, as the group suffered heavy casualties thanks to the Super Mutant threat.
    • Various things you hear about the Brotherhood indicate that even though they still proclaim and practice some of Elder Lyons' ideals (recruiting wastelanders, protecting communities, being the 'good' guys) both the leadership and rank and file have become "The Broken Soldier" version of Sociopathic Soldier. Given that the Super Mutant threat is still very much active and the main group you meet have taken massive casualties without any indication that this is unusual, you can kind of see how.
    • You might be wondering why Sarah Lyons isn't in charge, leading the Brotherhood in accordance with her father's ideals. Data on the Prydwen indicates that she did... until she died in battle between games.
    • The Brotherhood's absolutest stance against anything that's not strictly human such as super mutants and synths. (with Ghouls it depends if they're feral or not) This was no doubt tough for a lot of longtime fallout players to endure. They always had a streak of Fantastic Racism and xenophobia. But in this game, they have you actively hunting and murdering innocent synths and the people who help them. This once honorable Brotherhood is becoming a lot like the Enclave.
    • If that doesn't cement how much the Brotherhood has become not so different from the Enclave, a bit of Fridge Horror will. In an entry in Maxson's terminal, Proctor Ingram explains that the Prydwen needed a better fusion plant in order to get to the Commonwealth. They managed to obtain an updated fusion plant from the wreckage of an aircraft carrier. What aircraft carrier could they be talking about? It very easily could've been Rivet City. It was a community that no doubt depended on that fusion plant for heat and electricity, only for the Brotherhood, a faction that had previously protected people like them from monsters and mutants, to come in and take it. And it's unlikely this exchange was done peacefully.
    • On the other hand, whether it be Lyons or Maxson, the Brotherhood's so-called racism has remained constant - even back in Fallout 3, the Brotherhood didn't exactly bother with putting too much effort into making sure a Ghoul was feral, before shooting at, or killing it - much to the annoyance of the Ghouls who call Underworld home. (though to Arthur's credit this has stopped since he has come into power) The Brotherhood has always had difficulty when the creations or results of irresponsible science are also victims. Typically this was just limited to Ghouls, but Synths turn this up to eleven - due to how human they look, and are.
  • It's really sad to see the cheerful Doctor Duff become all depressed if Professor Scara is convinced to join the Brotherhood.
  • During the Railroad ending, you have the option of disguising yourself so you can sneak aboard the Prydwen and rig it to explode. Yes, there are children on the ship. No, you can't save them.
  • Glory's Last Stand. Especially if she died due to a bug, and you had to reload from a few hours back, find the body, then resurrect it with console commands, only for her to immediately die while stopping the Brotherhood from overrunning the Railroad HQ. Her final words are especially heartbreaking because as a Synth, she has no reason to expect an afterlife.
    Glory]: "Isn't there supposed to be a light?"
  • Side with the Railroad in the final quest, and when you return to headquarters, Desdemona will inform you that Patriot died accidentally while escaping the Institute. When called out on some rather Blatant Lies, she'll hand you a letter, telling you to destroy it after reading, and that you're not to discuss the contents with anybody. The letter is Liam's suicide note, where he calls out the Railroad, and you specifically, for making him an accomplice to the destruction of his home and the death or displacement of everyone he ever knew. Desdemona's touching speech at Liam's funeral just drives the knife in a little deeper; she is giving a heartfelt eulogy for a man who died completely and utterly despising her and her entire organization for what they did to his family.]
  • One of the final Railroad missions has you infiltrate the Cambridge Police Station that's occupied by the Brotherhood of Steel. You're tasked to clear out the building, and one of the people you have to kill is the Nice Girl Scribe Haylen. The person who welcomed you if you first joined Danse there, and who also disagreed with Danse's execution, and it's a Player Punch having to kill such a nice person like her.
  • A relatively minor one, but during the quest to regain access to the Minuteman's arsenal in the damaged wing of The Castle, you are forced to fight, and destroy, a sentry bot named S.A.R.G.E that powers up to protect the final door in the tunnel — and promptly malfunctions due to its core files being corrupted. Your temporary companion at the time, the Minuteman's longtime quartermaster, expresses audible regret at having to put it/him down, saying that Sarge had been in the Castle (meaning it had loyally served the Minutemen) since their beginning.
  • In the Automatron DLC, the Mechanist truly believes she is a hero. Not only that, she thinks YOU'RE the villain. Throughout the DLC, there's an unstoppable madman ripping her robots to shreds and stopping them from protecting the people. Eventually, this psychopath finds her hiding place, and tears through security like wet tissues. She throws everything she has at them, and is beaten handily. It's over. She can't save the Commonwealth. Then, this crazy raider says they just want to talk. She obliges, and discovers that HER robots have been slaughtering innocent people because of her mistake. That villain came to save the Commonwealth from her. She's so broken by the news that no matter how you tell her, she refuses to try to use her gift for robotics to help ever again.
  • Destroy the Institute before curing Virgil, and the next time you see him, he'll be absolutely furious, delivering one of the most heartrendingly scathing What the Hell, Hero? moments in the game before he tries to kill you.
    "YOU! We had a deal! I get you into the Institute, you get me the serum! Instead, what do you do? You blow the damn place up! My family! My friends! And the one chance I had of being human again!"
    • Destroying the Institute after curing him isn't much better: He's still crushed by the loss of everyone he ever knew, and just quietly requests that the player leave him alone for good.
  • Similarly to the vanilla game, Far Harbor's storyline will see a Bittersweet Ending at best, and a straight up Downer Ending at worst.
    • At best, you convince DiMA, Nick Valentine's Long Lost Sibling, to turn himself in for the murder of the original Captain Avery and accept his execution with dignity while keeping Far Harbor from massacring Acadia in outraged reprisal.
    • On the more bitter side, you can let him keep his crime secret and subsequently move to Kill and Replace Tektus to maintain a manufactured peace between everyone, cementing him (and you) as no better than the Institute.
    • At worst, you can see to the death of absolutely everyone, not only by failing to keep the peace of Far Harbor, resulting in the massacre of Acadia. You can deactivate Far Harbor's it's Fog Condensers allowing the Island to consume it; and allow the Children of Atom to detonate its nuke for a mass suicide in the name of their fanaticism.
    • Or you can take a FOURTH option, as a variation of the second, where the Leader of the Children of the Atom is still replaced- but you convince Tektus to LEAVE the island willingly, reducing the amount of blood on your shared hands.
  • Choosing to rule Nuka-World as the Raider Overboss can be quite depressing if you went with a Minuteman ending in the vanilla game. All that hope you built as the savior of the Commonwealth; all those settlements you built up; all those lives you gave new meaning and hope for a brighter future of honest living. When your Nuka-World gangs conquer settlement after settlement, that's all ripped away from the settlers. Not only are they removed from their homes, but others are enslaved.
    • Even worse; you can still take the Minuteman route in the main questline after this, destroying the Institute. You're still General of the Minutemen, if a blatantly corrupt one. You essentially lock the Commonwealth in a never-ending war between Minutemen and Raiders. Yes, that's right, you're essentially creating a world not so different to that of Nineteen Eighty-Four.
    • Last but not least, if you attack a settlement under Minuteman or Neutral jurisdiction, Preston Garvey immediately leaves your party.
    Preston Garvey: Our friendship is over... I can never trust you like that again.