In developing the game, the designers pulled inspiration from Genealogy of the Holy War, and it shows. Many see Three Houses as one of the darkest games in the series since Genealogy, with deconstructions of several character archetypes from the past games, a sobering Grey and Gray Morality conflict, and unlike the last game, there is no Golden Ending to make up for it.
Per troping policy, all spoilers are unmarked. You Have Been Warned.
- While Miklan was, by all accounts, not a good person, his descent into evil and death come across as tragic. As Edelgard points out, the only reason he was denied his birthright was because he didn't have a crest, and his starting a band of thieves shows that he does actually have leadership skills. Even Sylvain, who hates Miklan for, among other things, trying to kill him, feels pity for Miklan when he dies.
- Their confrontation isn't easy, either. Sylvain tries to simply convince Miklan to return the relic, pointing out that he's already lost, and Miklan simply demands that Sylvain hurry up and die. It's clear that there's little, if any, love lost between the two.
- Jeralt's death. He's stabbed in the back by a seemingly nice young lady (really Kronya in disguise) who berates him for being a foolish old man who dared to get in the way of her plans. Byleth's Hope Spot of using Divine Pulse to save their father is fruitless when an invisible Thales blocks Byleth's defense. As Jeralt dies being held by Byleth, Byleth cries over him, with Jeralt noting that this is the first time Byleth has ever cried and he's touched that he's who his child's first tears are for before passing away. Cue Grey Rain of Depression as Byleth continues to mourn over their father's corpse. The fact that Jeralt is able to die peacefully is one thing to soften the blow.
- What makes it worse is how subdued it is. Jeralt doesn't get a dramatic death like other Fire Emblem parents and parental figures get. No valiantly throwing himself off a cliff like Emmeryn. No sacrifice like Mikoto, Xander or Ryoma. No getting a good shot in at the person who killed him like Elbert. No battle to the death and promises for a better future like Rudolf or Berkut. Not even being a flat-out Greil Expy lets him die fighting against a Worthy Opponent and protect his child. The strongest Knight of Seiros is taken down by a cheap shot, shares a few last words with Byleth, then quietly passes away.
- Just as bad is the aftermath. The students and teachers giving their condolences, the sad expression on Byleth's face, the solemn music...
- Everyone isn't just offering empty platitudes either as they all admired Jeralt and are shocked, angered, and depressed over a living legend like him dying so suddenly. Even the normally optimistic gatekeeper struggles to hold back his tears.
- Leonie in particular is utterly gutted by her hero being callously murdered and can barely talk without being reduced to tears. The worst part is she admits for as much as it hurts for her, it can't possibly be as bad as what Byleth feels, being Jeralt's own child.
- And from this point, it's basically the end of the happy times at the Monastery. Right after this, Byleth undergoes their transformation into the Enlightened One, Edelgard launches her invasion on the Church, and regardless of which route you take a war that spans 5 years breaks out.
- If you speak with Sothis at the monastery, she offers Byleth the chance to let their feelings out. The screen then does a Fade to Black if you accept, implying that Byleth cried even more in her company.
- Just the idea that Byleth truly loved Jeralt, but could never show him how they felt until the end. The Sunday immediately after doesn't show them pondering how to go about the day. They simply stand there, hunched over, looking despondent and broken by it all.
- Edelgard's Protagonist Journey to Villain. On some level, she knows she's becoming a monster and driving away her closest friends in the world, but as she commits more and more crimes, she comes to believe I've Come Too Far and doubles down more and more on her actions, with possibly only you as her Morality Pet keeping her sane and unless you see her coronation, and even if you do see her coronation, you end up betraying her as well out of horror of what she's turned herself into. In all except the Black Eagles route, by the end she has nothing left except a bloody-minded need to see it all through and prove to herself it wasn't pointless.
- This becomes all the more gut-wrenching if you listen to the credits song "The Edge of Dawn", which plays at the end of non-Black Eagle routes. It's from Edelgard's perspective, seemingly set during her time at the academy. She sings about the fun she's having at the monastery with everyone, how she feels she can finally be herself, and how she fears the edge of dawn because it means an end to these happy days... But also how she knows this time must end if her ideals are to be realized.Here in cherished halls
In peaceful days
I fear the edge of dawn
Knowing time betrays
- One part of the credits version particularly stands out. Considering this song only plays on routes where she dies, it's possible this segment is both a posthumous My God, What Have I Done? and a "Don't end up like me" plea:Dont ever take
Back your kind hand
Lest precious love
Slip away like times sandOnly we will know
All that was lost
Scars that we cant erase
Show us lifes true cost
- To say nothing about how "The Edge of Dawn" itself is composed. The lyrics perfectly capture Edelgard's feelings and the soft piano music make it a beautiful, yet heartbreaking, piece.
- This becomes all the more gut-wrenching if you listen to the credits song "The Edge of Dawn", which plays at the end of non-Black Eagle routes. It's from Edelgard's perspective, seemingly set during her time at the academy. She sings about the fun she's having at the monastery with everyone, how she feels she can finally be herself, and how she fears the edge of dawn because it means an end to these happy days... But also how she knows this time must end if her ideals are to be realized.
- In order to save Byleth, Sothis willingly performs a Heroic Sacrifice by fully merging herself with Byleth. This means that she has to give up her individuality and will no longer be able to directly interact with Byleth, effectively making her dead (though we later find out she was exaggerating and can still talk to Byleth if she thinks she really needs to).
- Just the solid fact that there is no Golden Ending. No matter which route you choose, at least one of the main lords will die. Edelgard gets it the worst; not only does she die in all the other routes, she is capable of dying even if you picked her house at the beginning if certain requirements are not met.
- Worse? By the end of it, everyone on Byleth's route agrees with her to some extent or another. At least one of the main lords dies a pointless death at another's hands because by the time the war begins, nobody can trust each other; Edelgard's gone full Knight Templar and can't admit when she needs to dial it back, Dimitri's a Shell-Shocked Veteran who thinks victory is the only thing that will ease the deaths on his conscience, and Claude has to assume a war footing because the other two will happily destroy Leicester to get at each other.
- As for Dimitri, in a few epilogues on his own route, he falls victim to a Deadly Distant Finale.
- Edelgard and Dimitri's relationship.
- Dimitri and Edelgard were childhood friends and stepsiblings due to Edelgard's mom becoming queen consort to Dimitri's dad. The two became friends, with Edelgard even teaching Dimitri how to dance. When she returned to the Empire, Dimitri gave her a dagger as a gift.
- Edelgard forgot about Dimitri while Dimitri remembered. Talking with Edelgard shows that her first love was a noble in the Kingdom: Dimitri.
- During the battle of the Eagle and Lion, Dimitri is shown hesitating to battle Edelgard. Sadly, in his own route, Edelgard is the final boss.
- Dimitri and Edelgard were childhood friends and stepsiblings due to Edelgard's mom becoming queen consort to Dimitri's dad. The two became friends, with Edelgard even teaching Dimitri how to dance. When she returned to the Empire, Dimitri gave her a dagger as a gift.
- The simple, sobering fact that for the first time in the Fire Emblem franchise, the main conflict is entirely man-made. There's no grand villain pulling the strings, no dark dragon or god orchestrating the conflict, and while there is an evil cult, they're ultimately secondary antagonists. The entire war, all the death, all the suffering are largely because of differing ideals (none entirely right or wrong) over who should rule Fódlan and how it should be run, ideals they seek to implement or maintain no matter what the cost may be. Humans Are the Real Monsters indeed.
- In the post-skip route, any students from the other houses that you did not recruit will appear as enemies at some point. You've probably gotten to know most of the other students just from walking around the monastery and talking to them. With very limited exceptions, you cannot save them and may be forced to kill them.
- And when you do, the music doesn't keep going like it does with normal enemies and bosses. It stops, with the only sound being the student's scream, just like when you lose a unit in classic mode. It really drives the point home that they could have been your allies in another time.
- Minor compared to everything else, but in the first real battle, some of the students (such as Linhardt) will experience some nasty first-kill jitters.Bernadetta: I don't care if they're stealing! Can I please go home now?!
Linhardt: I-I killed them. What have I done? The blood...
Marianne: Please, forgive them, Goddess... And save their souls...
Ignatz: I'm so sorry... I didn't have a choice...
- Dorothea is also incredibly shaken and remains so for pretty much the rest of the game at the horrors of war. She spends a lot of time alone, staring out over the lake or the Goddess Tower. She's especially distraught after facing her former housemates, referring to them by her Affectionate Nickname for them (especially Edelgard on the Church of Seiros route). She goes from flirty and spontaneous to Broken Bird in the time skip, and the war continues to wear on her.
- Linhardt is another character who never gets over his revulsion towards bloodshed, with battle quotes and downtime dialogue making it clear how much he hates having to kill.
- After the timeskip, your recruits' voice lines in battle all change to reflect how worn down and weary they are by the five years of war. Level-ups have them wondering at what cost this new power is coming from, or how fighting seems to be all they do anymore, or how used to it they're becoming. For example, during the school portion of the game, Dorothea has a level up line where she cheerfully declares "all roses have thorns!" as a Badass Boast. After the timeskip, it turns into a more bitter-sounding, resigned "Only thorns left on this rose." The Japanese dub for Dorothea's victory quote is even more heart-wrenching, pondering "If there are only thorns left, can it still be called a flower?"
- There's Ferdinand. Usually starting out the battle introducing himself with a proud tone of who he is. By the time the time skip hits, he drops it. Even on the Crimson Flower route. Outside the Crimson Flower route, Ferdinand had the worst time among his Black Eagles peers if recruited as he is essentially on the run with his loyal subjects after Edelgard started the war. The events leading to the war are such a Break the Haughty moment to him and highlights one of the moments in the post-timeskip where the child-like innocence the characters had as students are no more.
- Catherine also makes note of how the students have changed, and while she knows they've gotten stronger, she laments their becoming "hardened killers."
- Poaching students sounded nice and heartwarming to prevent the deaths of the other students. But if you do that, you practically made the other Houses' Lords spend their academy time alone with probably only their Number Two to accompany them (even worse for Claude: He could be left ALONE). This can be slightly mitigated by recruiting them all a few chapters before the time skip hits but the other lords would have to experience having a Dwindling Party as their classmates are off to another class, one by one.
- This can reach its peak during the Blue Lions route, given that it's effectively the Everyone Lives route where only two people are completely guaranteed to die: Hubert and Edelgard. While the sting of watching her classmates pick Byleth over her is something also seen on the Church of Seiros route, here Edelgard is put against what may as well be everyone she's ever known and loved or respected, never mind what the members and subjects of her former friends' noble houses are likely to do once they see the chance for revolt. This cannot be good for what little is left of her sanity at this point, especially given she becomes desperate enough to turn herself into a Demonic Beast...
- Each house has a pair of best friends (Annette and Mercedes for Blue Lions, Ignatz and Raphael for Golden Deers, Linhardt and Caspar for Black Eagles). You can potentially separate them and then force one to kill the other.
- There's also Felix, Ingrid, and Sylvain, all three of whom are childhood best friends and all of whom were close with Dimitri. You can separate them as well (very easy to do for a female player, who can automatically recruit Sylvain who, if forced to fight Felix, will lament he can't keep their promise of dying together).
- The fate of Remire Village. After hearing of a series of the villagers acting strange, you, your class, and your father are sent to investigate. First, keep in mind this is where you met the lords, meaning your entire adventure started here, so it's at least a little special to you. Now, when you arrive, you find the villagers have gone insane and are killing each other, to everyone's horror. You try to save as many as you can, but at best, you can keep casualties to a minimum. In the aftermath, it's noted Remire Village may never recover from such gruesome carnage. And why did it happen? Because Solon wanted to see what would happen if he experimented on them.
- In the month after, if you explore the monastery, you can talk to a certain child in the dining hall. She's from Remire Village and is completely shell-shocked as she murmurs about how her entire life is gone. Then she asks you this, not even in anger, just in genuine heartbreak:Girl: Why couldn't you have gotten there just a little bit sooner?
- If you haven't saved all the NPC villagers by the time Solon makes his appearance with the Death Knight, he'll kill off the ones left. Which makes it even more heartbreaking. Each of the lords will have something to say when that happens.
- While Edelgard and Dimitri will declare murder on Solon for killing off the villagers, Claude, instead, is furious, lamenting that the team could have saved one of the villagers.Edelgard: Solon, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?! You will NOT escape punishment!
Dimitri: ...I WILL CUT YOU TO SHREDS!!!
Claude: You Monster!! We could have saved them!
- While Edelgard and Dimitri will declare murder on Solon for killing off the villagers, Claude, instead, is furious, lamenting that the team could have saved one of the villagers.
- In the month after, if you explore the monastery, you can talk to a certain child in the dining hall. She's from Remire Village and is completely shell-shocked as she murmurs about how her entire life is gone. Then she asks you this, not even in anger, just in genuine heartbreak:
- If you recruit Dorothea but not Ferdinand and kill the latter, talking to Dorothea after the fact reveals that she's actually really upset about it. Keep in mind this is someone Dorothea openly hates, yet she cannot help but mourn. Moreover, if the two meet each other in battle, Dorothea strongly hints that she actually wanted to be his friend and move past the incident that made her hate him. She never gets the chance in this case.Dorothea: And Ferdie was there. We killed Ferdie, Professor. He was our friend. Do you still remember those days?
- After facing some former schoolmates in battle, Annette once wonders if she should never have tried to befriend anyone from the Empire or the Alliance.
- Bernadetta's various Supports show that the reason she's a reclusive and paranoid wreck is all because of her abusive father punishing her for her interests that wouldn't make her proper "wife" material and harming any commoners she befriended. She didn't have any true friends until she came to the Academy, and she constantly lives in fear that she'll end up hurting them or be hurt by them just by interacting despite her buried desires to get to know them better. Worse, in some of her endings, her issues never get any better. Burn in hell, Count Varley.
- Dorothea's Supports reveal just how badly she had it as an orphan and why among her dislikes she includes arrogant nobles and herself. She was the daughter of a maid who had an affair with a noble but, when Dorothea was born without a Crest, her and her mother were thrown out. When her mother died, she lived as an orphan who grew up in the alleys of Enbarr, begging for coins, eating scraps, and drinking water from drains. She only got lucky because the right person heard her singing and brought her into the opera, being praised for her looks and voice by people who would not even a year ago kick her for so much as begging. Even then, sometimes she had to fend off some who would pursue her to the extent of kidnapping.
- Flayn and Seteth's backstory reveals that Flayn is actually Seteth's daughter, but they are forced to pretend to be siblings in order to protect Flayn's identity as a descendant of Sothis. Otherwise, she'll never be safe from anti-Church forces who may seek to kill or exploit her for her divine heritage.
- Lysithea's backstory. Holy shit. Just like Edelgard and her siblings, Lysithea and many other children in House Ordelia were taken for crest experimentation by Those Who Slither In The Dark, and she mentions that her parents were Forced to Watch as they did all sorts of horrible things with the children's blood and seeing how they all died. Lysithea was the Sole Survivor of this incident, having a second Crest successfully implanted into her, but at the cost of severely shortening her lifespan. As a result, she doesn't have long to live, and unless supports with certain characters are achieved to save her life, she will die at the end of the game. And did we mention she's only 15 years old?!
- Her solo ending makes it worse, as the way it's written states that she went back to her home to help her family and then just... was never heard from again.
- Marianne's A support reveals that all those times you saw her in the Cathedral before the timeskip, she was praying for her own death. And outside of the Golden Deer route, should you not recruit her, she doesn't appear at all after the timeskip. Which possibly means...
- Mercedes has one of the more depressing backstories, even without getting into her half-brother being the Death Knight. She lost her father before she was even born, resulting in her and her mother falling on hard times. Her mother remarried into House Bartels, but once she gave her husband a son with a Crest, both she and Mercedes were considered no longer useful, and sought refuge in a church in the Kingdom. Mercedes eventually got adopted (but not by choice, as her supports with Ferdinand reveal) by a merchant who intends to marry her off for his own benefit. It's especially tragic that, with the possible exception of her mother, Mercedes has never known a loving family.
- Adding to the tragedy of the war is the fact that, unlike in other Fire Emblem titles where the war was inevitable despite some of the protagonists trying to reason with the villains, Three Houses goes out of its way to show you that, if Edelgard, Dimitri and Claude had chosen to talk during their days as students, the whole thing might have been averted.
- Likewise, one conversation in Part 2 suggests that one reason why the monastery had students from the three main powers of Fódlan attend school together was so that they'd talk with and befriend each other, thereby possibly preventing war. It's a noble concept, but sadly, it never became reality.
- Just before the final battle with the Alliance at Deirdru (or alternatively, coming to the Alliance's aid on the Blue Lions route), Bernadetta realizes that she doesn't actually remember what Claude looked like when they were at school together, due to the fact that they were in different classes and never really interacted much, if at all. It's a small moment, but it highlights just how long ago those carefree school days are for all of them now.
- Ferdinand's paralogue, if you managed to recruit Lysithea before the timeskip hits in a non-Black Eagles route. He first learns of his father's distress, and later, murder. Then, he learns the full story of the Hrym territory; his father enacted cruel taxes on the people, with things going from From Bad to Worse when Edelgard's uncle Arundel took over and imposed not only even worse taxes, but forced the citizenry to war and killed those who refused all under Duke Aegir's name, which is what got the man killed in the first place. Lysithea said it best:Lysithea: Duke Aegir is not perfect, but he's not the villain in this.
- The former Black Eagles don't have a very good time on the non-Empire routes. Like the other poached students, they can be forced to fight against former schoolmates, and inevitably end up having to go up against Hubert and Edelgard. Their allies don't fully trust them, and while they do give their all for the war effort, they also have to come to terms with the fact that their homeland will have to fall, as Ferdinand laments the collapse of the Adrestian Empire in one late-game monastery conversation. This might be slightly mitigated in the Verdant Wind route with the army's morale being relatively higher than they were in other routes, but who's to say that they did not get discriminated against by other soldiers (sans the main playable students, knights and teachers) for their origin?
- In chapter 16 in both the Azure Moon and Verdant Wind route, Linhardt remarks that since he's from the Empire, people don't trust him with important tasks if you talk to him in the monastery. Considering that this is Linhardt we're talking about, it says a lot that he wants to help out, but is a bit hurt that people don't trust him.
- If you talk to Dorothea and Caspar at the monastery after the conquest of the Empire, they'll reveal that Count Bergliez, Caspar's father, performed a Heroic Sacrifice to save the lives of his men. While Caspar had dreaded the prospect of fighting his father, he's heartbroken over the loss, while Dorothea is sad about the death of an honorable man.
- In the Verdant Wind version, Caspar adds this bit when talked to.Caspar: This whole time I fought side by side with you and Claude... But did I ever get any stronger? Will I ever be as strong as my father?
- In the Verdant Wind version, Caspar adds this bit when talked to.
- In a conversation with Shamir just before the endgame, she'll remind you that Fódlan used to be united under the Empire, before the Kingdom won its independence and the Alliance formed. While you succeed in uniting Fódlan at the end of the route, who's to say that it won't one day be divided and embroiled in war once again?
- If you pick a non-Crimson Flower Route, Edelgard laments how she wished to have Byleth by her side when Byleth confronts her in chapter 12. In Crimson Flower, Dimitri wonders why Byleth would ever side with Edelgard, and outside his own route, Claude laments how he wanted Byleth at his side. The voice-acting sells it and if you have played any of their routes before, this will hurt. Imagine knowing the other lords personally by playing their routes but you can't reach out to them in another route, and they fall to their end by the end of said routes. The one exception is Claude as he can be spared but if you chose to kill him in the Crimson Flower route, you'll hear how shaken he is under his attempt to Face Death with Dignity.
- Felix in the non-Azure Moon routes. His arc in Crimson Flower is detailed below, but his arc in Silver Snow and Verdant Wind, while it's marginally better, it's still not better by much. Despite now fighting for what he feels is a much better cause than Edelgard's conquests, after the Second Battle of Gronder Field, he becomes consumed with rage over Dimitri's death and becomes obsessed with avenging him, ironically adopting the exact same philosophies of living for the dead he chastised Dimitri so much for having. In almost all of his endings in the two routes, its explicitly stated that he spends the rest of his life brooding over Dimitri's death, unable to move on even decades later.
- Flayn's solo ending if Seteth died.Flayn disappeared soon after the war, and after a time, proof of her very existence faded from memory. Many years later, a young woman appeared at the monastery, which had been restored to its former glory. Speaking to no one in particular, it is said that she gazed at the entrance and reverently whispered, "I am home."
- If a character was recruited pre-timeskip but fell in battle, they will not reappear after the timeskip, with the exception of Seteth on Silver Snow, Hubert on Crimson Flower, and Hilda on Verdant Wind. When the ending cards roll, what happened to them is revealed. Only Petra is exempt from this, due to her simply returning to Brigid.
- Lorenz, Hilda, Bernadetta, and Annette will all succumb to an illness. Lysithea is in a similar boat, likely dying due to her double Crest-inflicted lifespan.
- Raphael, Sylvain, Felix, Leonie, and Caspar will all fall on the battlefield. It's a particularly nasty case of Yank the Dog's Chain for Raphael, who is able to achieve his dream of becoming a knight, only to die young.
- Catherine and Hanneman are caught up in Imperial attacks and killed as a result.
- Ignatz is killed in an accident while working in the merchant business, likely from monsters, much like Raphael's parents.
- Cyril is killed by monsters looking for Rhea, before he even reaches the age of twenty.
- Ashe, Ingrid, Ferdinand, and Linhardt all return to their home territories, but vanish, leaving it unclear if they were killed or not.
- Alois simply vanishes during a battle between Imperial and Alliance troops.
- Dorothea and Manuela, while at least having each other, will likely never see their friends again.
- Mercedes is married off by the wishes of her adoptive father. With the release of Jeritza in the third wave of DLC, it's likely Mercedes ends up being used to pop out Crest babies after all.
- Marianne at least does not disappear alone, stealing a single horse that is strongly implied to be her friend Dorte as she flees, but she certainly is never again seen by humans.
- Fridge Horror: If a character isn't recruited during the timeskip and fails to appear after, chances are, this is what happened to them.
- In past Fire Emblem games, characters who appear in cutscenes had Plot Armor and would only retreat when they reach 0 HP, even on Classic. And generally, their epilogue entries would reflect this, stating that they survived. While Plot Armor retreating still occurs in this game... the character's epilogue will state that they died of their wounds after the war ended. It's sobering knowing that anyone who reaches 0 HP after the timeskip will die.
- Even the monthly artwork has a sad story hidden in it. The early scenes depict a family of deer and a young blond man. Eventually the man becomes a hunter who kills the father deer, leaving the mother and son to be protected by a woodsman. The final monthly art has the hunter dressed in armor beside his weeping family, including a pregnant wife. The reason for this is revealed in the art depicting the war, the hunter was drafted on the side of the empire. The deer and woodsman are also included, about to meet the hunter in a charge.
- The promise made on the night of the Garreg Mach ball becomes extremely bittersweet on second playthroughs. The students are hopeful for the future and make a promise to meet again at the millennium festival, happily unaware that their peaceful days will soon be over and the next five years will be hell as they try to survive.
- The only reason why Baron Ochs stole the Hero Relic was to save his daughter, Monica, from her kidnappers. What is sad is that at that point the real Monica had been dead for some time, leaving his actions for naught.
- Chapter 15 has the Church launch a surprise assault on the monastery, and the interactions are painful to listen to.
- Before the battle, Flayn admits feeling guilt about fighting Byleth after being saved by them. Seteth admits the same, noting that they're in a no-win situation with a strained tone.
- If you didn't recruit him, Alois is furious at Byleth, yelling that Jeralt must be rolling in his grave. It's clear that the death of his mentor/friend and the "betrayal" of the child of his mentor has nearly broken him. He also has to be killed to win the level, and as he dies, he can only pathetically say to Jeralt that he died defending the monastery, even though he obviously wasn't able to.
- Even more tragic? By this point, the player knows that Jeralt lost faith in Rhea for what he believes she did to his child, meaning Alois died pretty much for nothing.
- Seteth practically loses the will to live if you kill Flayn (which happens if you defeat her with any unit other than Byleth). Given how close Flayn spawns to your army, this is incredibly likely as well.Flayn: Father, please forgive me... I am returning to Mother now... before you do...Seteth: FLAYN! Please, no! NO!!!
- The reverse scenario is no better. Flayn doesn't react well to Seteth dying.Seteth: I'm sorry, Flayn... I couldn't protect you...Flayn: FATHER! Father, why?! WHY?!
- The reverse scenario is no better. Flayn doesn't react well to Seteth dying.
- If you have Manuela, after the battle, she is overcome with guilt at how many died and talks about how she tried her best to save as many people as she could, but the injured just kept piling up.
- Both Randolph and Ladislava are killed. Ladislava died during the battle while Randolph was mortally wounded at some point. Edelgard tries to reassure him he'll be fine, at which point he simply refuses, knowing he will die, and Edelgard can only thank him for his services before he dies. Fleche resolves herself to make him proud afterwards, but it's clear she's devastated by his death.
- Dorothea also mentions him, commenting that they knew each other before the timeskip, and that she genuinely can't believe he's dead. Her tone and dialogue heavily imply they may have been more than just friends for a short time.
- If you recruited Leonie before the timeskip and did not complete the "Legend of the Lake" paralogue before the chapter is finished, said paralogue becomes inaccessible regardless of character requirements and expiration dates if you kill Flayn and Seteth. The reason for this is likely that the boss of that paralogue is Saint Indech, which makes him Flayn's (Cethleann) uncle and Seteth's (Cichol) brother (and he can come close to revealing this on other routes). Indech would probably be too furious to let his family's killers even try to challenge him.
- Taking out the Alliance will very much leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. They're completely uninvolved in Edelgard's war with the Kingdom, trying to stay neutral and not fall apart from infighting. But because, strategically, annexing them is safer than trying to invade the Kingdom first, you have no choice but to invade them.
- Along the way to invading Derdriu, you have to kill Judith. Claude's reaction to it will hurt. To say nothing of how he takes it if/when you kill Hilda at Derdriu.Claude: Hilda, no! Why didn't you retreat? I was counting on you retreating...
- Most of the times when you kill a classmate while their house leader is present, they'll somberly express regret over the loss, or vow to not waste that person's sacrifice, so it says a lot that Claude gets openly upset.
- The final battle between Edelgard and Claude. If the right conditions are met, Claude will surrender to Edelgard in an effort to spare the rest of the alliance, though Byleth may opt to have him executed anyways. The surprise and regret in Claude's voice is clear when he realizes he's greatly miscalculated how Byleth and Edelgard would behave.
- The same battle where you kill Judith, Ignatz will also be on the map as well (provided he wasn't recruited before the timeskip). You can, if you recruited him, make Raphael fight Ignatz during this battle. Before the war broke out, Raphael and Ignatz were best friends (they even have a paired ending where they become brothers in law when Ignatz marries Raphael's little sister), and Ignatz speaks highly of Raphael's kind nature if you do their dual Paralogue. But their pre-fight dialogue shows how utterly broken that friendship is when Ignatz angrily refuses to forgive Raphael for siding with the Empire or stand down, just as Raphael refuses to relent. It's almost a certainty that Raphael will kill Ignatz in the ensuing battle, and if you kept him in the Brawler/Grappler line that he naturally gravitates to, he essentially beats his former best friend to death with his bare hands. You Monster!Raphael: Outta my way, Ignatz! I don't wanna have to fight you!Ignatz: Stop deluding yourself. You joined the Empire. Didn't you consider the consequences? I don't want to fight you either, Raphael! But this is war.Raphael: Ignatz...
- Along the way to invading Derdriu, you have to kill Judith. Claude's reaction to it will hurt. To say nothing of how he takes it if/when you kill Hilda at Derdriu.
- Killing Felix on this route means Rodrigue has to watch another son die. Taking him out afterwards might be a Mercy Kill at that point.
- The final confrontation between Edelgard and Dimitri. Now at Edelgard's mercy, Dimitri can do nothing but spit insults and rage at his former friend. Edelgard can only express pity and regret that if not for his thirst for vengeance, Dimitri would have been a magnificent ruler. The scene fades to black and it's left unclear whether Edelgard finishes Dimitri off or if he just drops dead from from his wounds.
- Dimitri's death (should you defeat Dedue before he transforms) is even more tragic, as a wounded Dimitri on the verge of death laments his inability to avenge his fallen friends and family. Dedue (on the verge of tears) refutes him, telling him that he was able to live on because of Dimitri, and that he was proud to serve by his side for the past 9 years. Dimitri expresses gratitude before finally passing on.
- Before Dimitri dies, he calls Edelgard by her Affectionate Nickname, "El." While he can never forgive her, he also never forgot what she once meant to him.
- If Dedue dies after transforming, Dimitri murmurs "Dedue you fool...", which starkly contrasts with the somber yet composed reactions to his other friends' deaths.
- In the final battle, Catherine stands as one of the last remaining of Rhea's defenders. If you have recruited Shamir, you can make her fight her former partner to the death, and this is accompanied by a conversation in which the two women concluding that their differences always meant it would end like this. What makes this extra sad is that they totally could have made it work, as in their paired ending on other routes.
- Ashe's presence as an enemy in the final battle at Fhirdiad in general if he is not recruited. Not only has the once kindhearted child now grown into a bitter knight that is part of The Remnant defending Rhea, but his generic boss quote in the final battle really hammers home how much you've destroyed in order to achieve Edelgard's ideals. Almost makes you wonder what the kid went through for him to become so bitter to the point that he chooses to only fight rather than try and save people from the flames?Ashe: Our pride, our people, our king. You've torn them all apart. Haven't you had enough?! What else is there for you to take?!
- What's worse? Should Byleth engage Ashe in combat, Ashe comments how looking at them is throwing off his aim. Even after all this time passed, and all the destruction brought about by their support for Edelgard, Ashe still can't bring himself to hate his old professor and fight them properly.
- Then there's Rhea. You steadily see her sanity breaking over the route due to the wielder of the Sword of the Creator turning it against her just like Nemesis. One who she personally created. By the end of the route, she's set a capital city on fire with civilians inside and until her dying moment she cries out for them to return her mother to her.
- The very scene where you choose to take Edelgard's side can be rather painful if you understand why Rhea is so unusually angry even before you make your decision. Rhea saw her entire race slaughtered and their bodies forged into the Heroes' Relics. In the Holy Tomb, she sees the descendant of the first human she trusted enough to share her blood with order her men to raid the caskets in the Holy Tomb in order to take the Crest Stones - just as Nemesis and the Ten Elites once did. She's essentially reliving the worst memory of her life even before you choose Edelgard's side, and when you do, you're essentially becoming the new Nemesis. It's a small wonder she snaps. Later on, even in the depths of her madness and torment, she still looks back at Edelgard's ancestor fondly.Rhea: An ancestor of the Hresvelgs, who became Adrestia's first emperor... He saved me. Supported me. Gave his all to the cause of defeating Nemesis. That I should find myself here at Tailtean, striking down his scion...
- To top it off, it is incredibly unlikely anyone will ever know why Rhea snapped. Depening on your choice Flayn and Seteth are either dead or gone into hiding (if not having left Fódlan altogether), Indech and Macuil aren't talking, and there's no other source for the truth unless there's an accurate accounting of events somewhere in Shambhala. Even if Edelgard and the rest of the Black Eagles learn the truth there is no guarantee that the public will ever know of it, meaning Rhea will go down in history as a monster while Dimitri will become known as her Unwitting Pawn.
- The very scene where you choose to take Edelgard's side can be rather painful if you understand why Rhea is so unusually angry even before you make your decision. Rhea saw her entire race slaughtered and their bodies forged into the Heroes' Relics. In the Holy Tomb, she sees the descendant of the first human she trusted enough to share her blood with order her men to raid the caskets in the Holy Tomb in order to take the Crest Stones - just as Nemesis and the Ten Elites once did. She's essentially reliving the worst memory of her life even before you choose Edelgard's side, and when you do, you're essentially becoming the new Nemesis. It's a small wonder she snaps. Later on, even in the depths of her madness and torment, she still looks back at Edelgard's ancestor fondly.
- Recruiting any of the Blue Lions students. Sure, you spare them from being massacred with their homeland, but their dialogue around the monastery and when facing their kinsman shows that they're broken up about fighting for the Empire. Most don't know if helping Edelgard's conquest is the right thing to do, but believe they can't go back. While others are more resolute in walking this path, like Mercedes, who is disgusted with what the Church has become and agrees with Edelgard's plans for the Church, Sylvain who wants the crest system abolished, and Ashe who wants justice for Christophe and Lonato, others are much more doubtful; Ingrid in particular is devastated that she must fight her own homeland, Annette fears the possibility of having to fight her father while just as torn at having to fight her own home, and Felix laments that he's become the same monster he called Dimitri.
- If the possibility of Annette fighting and killing her own father wasn't depressing enough, if they're pitted against each other in Chapter 18, Gilbert will ask the goddess if this is his "chastisement." He already hates himself for failing to protect Lambert, so having to fight against the daughter he abandoned (who might not have defected if he'd been there for her) does him no favors.
- If you recruited Mercedes or Annette, and didn't recruit the other one, their dialogue before fighting is heartbreaking. Best friends now forced to kill each other. For bonus points, it is totally possible to have them support even without recruiting both of them, which means it's entirely possible to get them to B-Support before the timeskip, which would mean that the last time they speak before fighting to the death is an argument.
- With Jeritza now available as a playable unit, we learn just what drove Emile to become someone as vile and blood thirsty as the Death Knight. Turns out his father used Mercedes mother as a Baby Factory to create Crest children. When he was around 11 years old, Mercedes and her mother ran away, but he chose to stay in House Bartels in order to protect them. When his father found out where they were hiding years later, he initially planned to capture them and continue using Mercedes' mother, but she was already too old to have children. His solution? Marry Mercedes and use her instead. Emile, who would have been in his early teens, murdered his father in order to protect his big sister. He doesnt even remember how he did it. The Death Knight was created out of Emiles desperation to save his family.
- What's worse, now he's a threat to the very person he hoped to protect due to the Death Knight. His alternate personality's desire for blood is so strong, it overrides his love for his sister.
- Worse still, if you didn't recruit Mercedes, you can potentially force Jeritza to kill her.
- While the Second Battle of Gronder Field is horrific in all routes, here it is worse, with it happening offscreen and very suddenly, with Edelgard badly injured, Dimitri dead, and Claude missing. Byleth is heartbroken to learn this.
- After learning about Dimitri's death, Byleth goes out to find him there, wanting to talk to him for a moment about how he couldn't understand what everyone was telling him about his quest for vengeance. Yet, before Byleth can answer him, Seteth appears and Dimitri vanishes. While Seteth believes that Byleth was dreaming, he says that if someone was indeed there to see them, that person must have only wanted Byleth to see there face.
- After defeating Edelgard, she asks Byleth to kill her so she can die an honorable death and so the war can truly stop. Though initially reluctant, Byleth in the end listens to her pleading to end her life. The camera cuts to black as they strike Edelgard down with their sword. And when you take in the fact that she has been strongly interested in Byleth regardless of the path chosen, her last words come off closely as a Dying Declaration of Love.Edelgard: I just wanted to walk with you-(cuts to black)
- Byleth being forced to Mercy Kill Rhea when she loses control of her own powers. The Sad Battle Music as the Final Boss theme does not help. This can fortunately be averted if they reach A Support or higher with Rhea.
- As this gallery shows, it's possible for Byleth to end up completely alone in the Monastery on this route if you go out of your way to get everyone killed, since there are no Lord characters who can't be lost in battle.
- This route potentially ends with every existing power in Fódlan decimated (or at least their militaries). The Kingdom was crushed by the Empire, the Alliance is crippled at Gronder Field, the Empire crumbles when you invade Embarr and finish off Edelgard, Shambhala and most of the remaining Agarthans are destroyed by Thales' Taking You with Me attack (not that anyone's shedding tears) and just when it looks like the Church of Seiros will remain to help rebuild, they lose Rhea (who dies or retires unless Byleth S ranks her) and much of their leadership due to dragon blood-induced insanity. Fódlan as it was is gone, leaving Byleth to build something new from the ashes.
- Lonato's rebellion happens on every route, but here, Ashe is guaranteed to witness it, and his reaction is heartbreaking. He openly bemoans the deaths of the village militia, people he'd known for years, as they fight to the death for their lord. After the battle is over, he's in a state of shocked grief, mumbling that he's going to check on the village and make sure his brother and sister are alright.
- If you really want to be mean, make him fight or kill Lonato. It gets even worse when you consider the possibility that Lonato never told Ashe about his plans so as to protect him, a possibility that some other characters mention.
- The Mooks you kill while suppressing the rebellion often say lines expressing their loyalty to Lonato, including while they're dying. Not only are several characters appalled that Lonato's rebellion resulted in many of the common folk fighting and dying for him, but it also goes to show that Lonato was a good man who commanded respect.
- After watching Dimitri meet with Arundel, depending on what Byleth chooses to say Sothis will muse wistfully about family and being linked to them. Its all rather sad if one knows the full story of her family and what has become of them.Sothis: I must have had a family too... I wish I could remember them. My family... I wonder who and where they are, and what they're doing now.
- Dimitri Laughing Mad when the unmasked Flame Emperor turns out to be Edelgard.Dimitri: Is this some kind of twisted joke?
- Worse, in the aftermath, he just breaks. When we see him after the timeskip, the Knight in Shining Armor he used to be is gone, replaced by a ruthless, somewhat Ax-Crazy Barbarian Hero who loathes Edelgard; there's still some good left in him, but no matter what happens, he will never stop hating her and everything she stands for. Thankfully, he starts to relent in this route after he realizes he's throwing his life away for empty revenge and that he wants to lead both church and kingdom into an era of reform... But until he gets to that point, it's hard to see him in such a broken state.
- Upon waking up from their five-year coma, Byleth finds Dimitri sulking in the shadows, with Dimitri cynically remarking that he's being haunted by another ghost again. They offer him their hand... to which he scoffs and turns his head away. You can clearly see how sad Byleth is at his state throughout the scene following.
- Morale is quite low for the first few missions after the timeskip, since Dimitri's unstable mental state is quite troubling to the Blue Lions. Some non-Blue Lions, like Lysithea, are disturbed by the fact that the man who will rule Faerghus is obsessed with revenge, while others, such as Dorothea, are troubled by the apparent lack of unity among the group.
- Speaking of non-Blue Lions, any Black Eagle students you've recruited will comment on how Dimitri and the other Kingdom knights don't care too much for them—and that they've come to expect it, even though many of them left their families to join the Blue Lions' army. It's worse for Caspar in particular, who tells Byleth the mission after Randolph's killed that he was actually Caspar's uncle, and he suspects how Dimitri probably never trusted him to begin with. Thankfully, Dimitri apologizes to Caspar for his behavior off-screen after Rodrigue's death, but it's still disheartening to hear such distrust expressed amongst comrades-in-arms.
- Lord Rodrigue's Heroic Sacrifice and Dimitri's reaction to it.
- The circumstances of his sacrifice are also tragic and highlight how horrible the effects of war can be. While celebrating a victory over Adrestia, Dimitri is suddenly attacked by Fleche, who turns out to be the sister of Randolph, an Imperial general Byleth and Dimitri killed in an earlier chapter. Rodrigue takes the dagger in Dimitri's place, giving Byleth enough time to strike the would-be assassin down. As Fleche dies, she tearfully begs for her brother to save her.
- Dimitri finding out from Cornelia that his own stepmother was primarily responsible for the massacre at Duscur. He now has to live with the knowledge that the only mother he had ever known never truly loved him.
- Worse, the Tragedy of Duscur resulted in a near-genocide of the Duscur people who were literally framed for it. So not only was the stepmother he loved responsible for the death of his father and a good number of his family, but also the death of Felix's brother and Ingrid's fiancee, as well as Dedue facing discrimination.
- Even worse? Thanks to the Cindered Shadows DLC, we learn from Hapi that Cornelia intentionally made it seem to Patricia that Lambert wasn't allowing her to see Edelgard period, and making it seem worse by preventing them from getting close, when in reality he was doing so to protect Edelgard during her exile. She never learned this, and eventually it drove her to the desperate choice of becoming involved with the Tragedy of Duscur just to see her daughter again.
- If you recruited Caspar and unlocked and completed Mercedes' paralogue, you are treated to a scene after the Death Knight is defeated, where she cradles the unmasked, dying Death Knight, Emile, her little brother, while tearfully apologizing for being such a terrible elder sister.
- During the final battle against Edelgard, the first time she and Byleth engage in a fight, she will remark on how facing them makes her grow weak. From that point on, she will refuse to initiate an attack, even if they are in range, confirming she never wanted to make an enemy of them.
- Conversely, she will always target Dimitri regardless of who else is within her attack range if he is within her danger zone, hammering in how obliterated any friendship they used to have really is, on top of her adamant desire to kill him for the sake of her ideals.
- After defeating Edelgard in the final battle, she returns to her human form, defeated and on her knees. Dimitri offers his hand to her in a silent attempt at a truce, all while simply calling her "El". She quietly looks up and it seems she may accept... only for her to reach for a dagger and stab Dimitri. Immediately, Dimitri fatally impales her with his spear and she drops dead. As Byleth and Dimitri leave, Dimitri looks back at Edelgard's corpse and is about to go back to her before Byleth grabs his hand.
- Dedue's potential death during the Time Skip, if you didn't complete the bonus objective in his paralogue. Even if you did, you are still lead to believe he's dead for the first few chapters of Part 2, which makes the scene where he reunites with you and your party all the more heartwarming.
- In Dimitri's S support with Byleth, he admits that he will probably hear the voices that tormented him until the day he dies, and also expresses how he hasn't forgiven himself for everything he did. While Dimitri's Character Development over the route is impressive and touching, it's heartbreaking to see that he'll probably never fully recover from the Tragedy of Duscur.
- In cut content, it would have been possible for Felix to fight Dimitri, Sylvain and Ingrid, as well as Annette to fight Mercedes and Gilbert, as a result of a schism in the Blue Lions following Rodrigue's death. Luckily, this doesn't actually happen in the game, but if it had, the Blue Lions would have become the only faction that could end up killing each other without Byleth recruiting one of them to a different house.
- Throughout the post-skip, Claude does his darndest to try and work together with first Dimitri and then Edelgard. However, since neither had Byleths guidance, they are both too far gone to listen, and both end up succumbing to their respective fatal flaws.
- Related to the above, while some may want to pick Claude because he's the best-adjusted of the three Lords, that also means that both Edelgard and Dimitri's own flaws lead to their downfalls, without Byleth to help them. It's especially hard if you've played either or both of their routes before and saw how they might have turned out with Byleth at their sides.
- While Claude might be able to adjust fine in other routes not his own, the Golden Deer route and his support conversations reveal how he suffered under Half-Breed Discrimination as a child due to being Half-Almyran and by the time he arrived at Fódlan shortly before the start of the game, he is heavily guarded of himself and distrustful of others due to most of the mistreatment he endured, and would have likely remained such by the timeskip. Choosing the Golden Deer house is the only way Claude can learn to fully trust another person again through his relationship with Byleth.
- Dimitri's death is heartbreaking not because it's dramatic, but the fact that it happens offscreen. To see a major character like him just... killed in an anticlimactic manner like that really gets to you. Hilda actually cries over how cruel his death was, saying he didn't deserve to die like that.
- If Lysithea fights against Edelgard on this route, or the Silver Snow route, Edelgard will remark at how similar they are, and Lysithea realizes that they both have two Crests. Unfortunately, the ideals they both strive for are incompatible, and that means they won't hesitate to fight to the death, rather than cooperate like they did on the Crimson Flower route.Edelgard: Lysithea. You and I are so alike. We could have walked the same path.
Lysithea: We're alike? You don't mean to tell me... It can't be!
Edelgard: Yet now, we are at a crossroad. There's no turning back. Must we fight each other for the things we believed in?
Lysithea: That's exactly what's going to happen. And I will defeat you, Edelgard!
- The kicker? Outside the Crimson Flower route, Edelgard still cooperated with TWSITD in part 2 of these routes. Lysithea would have seen the fact that Edelgard helped them in any way despite said group being responsible for their state, for the sake of her own goals, as unforgivable. What alliance and potential friendship they could have is lost as Edelgard had driven them away for her ambitions.
- While TWSITD are defeated and the truth uncovered, the path to get there is still hellish and not without sacrifice. The Adrestian empire has to fall, and the kingdom of Faerghus is practically gone as Dimitri died, and with him, the Blaiddyd bloodline. While the Alliance is still around, the church lost an authority figure in Rhea who either died from her injuries or went into a slumber to recover. The heroes have a lot to work out in order to restore Fódlan.
- Cindered Shadows:
- One of the earliest conversations you can find in the Abyss is Edelgard and Dimitri. Dimitri however asks Edelgard if she changed her hair, causing her to be startled before admitting so. She questions how he knew, but Dimitri avoids the response. As reinforced in both of their routes, its clear that Dimitri really does care for her, but Edelgard simply cannot remember him. Edelgard's surprised reaction is no doubt almost a Trauma Button for her.
- While Cindered Shadows has a happy ending, the player is still left with the sobering realization that, despite everything they'd just been through together, the House Leaders will ultimately end up trying to kill each other in just a few months.
- Cindered Shadows is a separate timeline from the other routes, as shown by how the Ashen Wolves on other routes never met anyone before there. But Edelgard is clearly still the Flame Emperor in the Cindered Shadows route too, as shown by her interactions with certain enemies like the Death Knight. Will the friendship forged between and outright declared by everyone at the end on this route be enough to prevent the upcoming civil war in this timeline? The player will never get to find out!
- Related to the above is how Yuri pointedly states at the end of the side story that he considers all three lords (and Byleth) his friends, and that he always will. A hopeful ending where they do all remain allies, or a poignant wish that can't be fulfilled?
- The tragic life of Sitri, who only lived for 20 years. She was born to become Sothis' vessel, but the ritual was a failure. Despite that, Rhea still ended up loving and treating her like family. She was sickly and could never leave the monastery, so she learned about the outside world from Jeralt. And when the two fell in love and tried to start a life together, poor Sitri gave birth to a stillborn child and used what little life she had left to tell Rhea to give her heart to Byleth. Rhea couldn't even bear to bury her in a grave. Instead, she hid her body in Abyss and sometimes went to pay respects to the poor woman.