Ed and Al's backstory and how badly their attempt at Human Transmutation goes. Ed loses his leg and Al loses his body and Ed is screaming in pain and wracked with guilt. He then uses his blood to craft a Blood Seal to anchor Al's soul to a suit of armor, which costs him his arm. Al manages to get him to Winry's house and begs them for help. Shortly afterwards, Mustang and Hawkeye visit the area and find out what happened and upon meeting Ed, grabs him by the shirt and demands an explanation about what happened while he's in a Heroic BSoD, complete with Dull Eyes of Unhappiness / Thousand-Yard Stare. Al ends up doing nothing but apologizing the entire time.
Nina cowering behind Alexander while witnessing her parents argue in her father's flashback in Brotherhood.
Nina's tragic death on top of turning into a chimera. The moment you realize that an adorable 5-year-old girl has been horribly, painfully, and forcibly transmuted into an unholy abomination, by her own father no less, is horrific to say the least. Not to mention the fact the reason why Tucker did this to his daughter and dog. Just to keep his State Alchemist certification. No grand scheme or grab for power. Just For Science! and a steady income. Fans were practically begging Ed to hand Tucker his ass.
In both the first anime and Brotherhood, Ed actually does start beating the man, only for Chimera/Nina to grab his coat and plead with him not to hurt her daddy. *Shivers*
Chimera/Nina repeatedly asking the brothers "Can we play now?" is heart-breaking. The brothers know that there is no way to reverse the fusion and she'll never be treated as a human being again. Eventually, Ed can take no more and lets out a heart-wrenching scream of anguish.
The entire incident haunted the brothers throughout the entire series and forced as a painful lesson in humility: despite their talents and abilities, they were not able to save Nina.
Scar then kills both of the Tuckers, one in an act of justice, and the other as an act of mercy. Afterwards he steps out into the rain, and prays for both of them.
Even worse in Brotherhood, similarly to an above point, when Scar kills Tucker, Nina pitifully nudges her father's hand and starts repeating how Daddy's hurting... You can actually see her tearing up, too.
Later, Ed and Al angrily ask Scar why he killed Nina. Scar chillingly responds that Nina and her dog could never return to their original forms andif he had not Mercy Killed themwould have been incarcarated in a laboratory and treated as a scientific experiment subject for the rest of their lives. Ed and Al realise that they knew this all along, but it was such a painful thought that they couldn't bear to think about it.
Even with the nature of his crimes, Nina genuinely loved her father and he gave her a happy life before her death. It's quite likely that the Tuckers used to be a much happier family before falling on hard times. Tucker may be far from sympathetic, but the notion of someone becoming that desperate and self-deluded could be considered sad all on its own.
The aftermath of Scar's attack on the Elrics ends with Al damaged and unable to move, and Ed losing his will to live after what happened to Nina. He was going to let Scar kill him as long as he left Alphonse alone. After Al yells at him for not running and for stupidly thinking that dying will solve anything, Ed just quietly says "We're a pathetic pair, aren't we brother?"
Basically any time Armstrong cries for real. Whenever this happens, the fans are usually crying alongside him.
The entire flashback about the war in Ishval is a Tear Jerker marathon that lasts a whole collected volume of the manga. Also, Ed digging up the body they transmuted when trying to bring back their mother to see if it was really her, and Hohopapa's Manly Tears when Ed tells him his mother's last words.
It wasn't Maes Hughes' funeral itself which was so profoundly impacting. What really brings everyone to tears is poor little Elicia:
This scene is even more tragic in Brotherhood, as you can hear the sheer despair much more clearly.
Elicia: Daddy said he has important work he needs to do! No, stop it! Stop putting dirt on him! DADDY!!!
During Elicia's outcry, even the Fuhrer is unable to keep his composure, with his hands shaking on his sword's pommel. And considering who he is (on so many levels), this is especially emotional. However, it's later revealed he was shaking for a different, much less sympathetic reason... which is an even biggerTear Jerker, since it feels like a complete kick in the pants. He wasn't shaking with sadness. He was shaking with anger, annoyed that Elicia was loudly crying during what he believes should be a moment of silence.
Armstrong trying and failing to keep from weeping at the funeral can be quite jarring, if only because it's one of the few times in the series where his shedding of tears isn't played for laughs.
Armstrong crying at Hughes' funeral is now made even more tragic to watch now that both Kenji Utsumi and Keiji Fujiwara, the respective seiyuu for Armstrong and Hughes across both TV series, have passed away.
There was also Roy claiming to be going over formulas for human transmutation, and that he understood what drove the Elrics to try and bring their mother back.
As pointed out on the main page, the above doubles as a brilliant metaphor; Roy is powerless in the rain, and that is how he felt at that moment.
Episode 16 of Brotherhood has another one from the poor kid, possibly the most upsetting in an episode filled with these.
Elicia: *opens the door* Papa! ... *runs into Winry's arms, sobbing*
In the equivalent scene in the manga, it's made even worse by the fact that Elicia genuinely looks excited when she opens the door, like she really expects Maes to be there, and then there are several panels dedicated to the poor kid just... deflating.
Ed's devastated reaction to finding out about Hughes' death, and Al saying that if people are going to die in their attempt to get his body back, he doesn't want it back.
Also continues in the manga, where after Ed asking Gracia's (Hughes' wife) forgiveness for involving (and indirectly causing the death of) Hughes in their trouble. Gracia's response is to assure them to continue and not to let her husband death be in vain. All with a motherly smile and strong composure. Then they leave their house, and Ed just looks back for the last moment, through the window, seeing Gracia crying with Elicia in her arms.
Ed: ...It would've been easier if we got scolded.
Gracia saying that it was just like her husband to get involved, and that she didn't think he ever had any regrets.
In Brotherhood, Hughes' death itself is even worse. We see Hughes struggling to reach the phone after getting shot, failing, and saying his last words:
Hughes: Gracia... I'm sorry. Elicia... never forget... Daddy loves you.
Any time Ed, Al, and/or Winry talk about how much they want to go back and see Hughes after he dies, but before they find out the truth. The hefty doses of Dramatic Irony are huge punches in the gut.
The flashback in episode 12 to Izumi's attempt at Human Transmutation. Especially the soundtrack, and her screams when she looks up and sees what she made...
Then, Edward and Al try to act nonchalant about what happened to them... and just when you think she'll hit them, she actually embraces them and tells them that they can stop pretending. They embrace her as well and just break down apologizing.
In the manga, when Roy and Riza's phone call gets cut off due to the latter getting attacked by Gluttony, Roy flashes back to Hughes's corpse in the phone booth.
Lan Fan cutting off her arm is pretty shocking, but the first time she looks in the mirror afterwards is devastating.
Her grandfather Fu's reaction is bad too. At first he's absolutely furious that she failed to protect Ling and is on the verge of hitting her, and does slap her across the face in Brotherhood. Then Dr. Knox draws his attention to the fact that she's missing something, Fu's voice tone and body language completely change from anger to dejection and denial, murmuring "her arm, it's... it's not there..." in utter horror, and he falls completely flat, crying. The manga keeps the scolding, but Fu gradually breaks down in tone, ending on the verge of tears on "You don't even have your arm anymore..."
The time when Ed convinced Winry not to kill Scar in Episode 22 by saying: "With these hands, you delivered a baby. You saved his life, and his mother's. With these hands, you gave me an arm and leg to stand with. These hands aren't meant to take lives, but save them." A Tear Jerker, a Moment of Awesome and Heartwarming Moment at the same time, because Hiromu Arakawa is just that brilliant.
Made worse as the ending song starts and you hear "let it all out".
Winry's flashback to the day her parents left, her face says it all and not to mention Harsher in Hindsight.
Poor Armstrong, To see him, the strongest and most muscular character in the manga bawling his eyes out over the body of a dead Ishvallan child.
The first 19 or so pages of Chapter 68 of the manga: Hohenheim leaves the family, to counteract Father's plan to kill everyone in his country. While gone, his wife dies and his eldest hates him for leaving.
The photo... Just, the photo, ever wonder the reason that Hohenheim's face is covered in the photo? It's because he's crying, after Trisha told him that she did and always will love him.
The author's note at the opening of volume 15 talks about Arakawa's research into the subject matter to be covered by the volume.
In researching this volume, I interviewed veterans who had been on the front during World War II. I read countless books, examined film footage, and listened to many detailed and intense stories firsthand, but the comment that affected me the most came from a former soldier who lowered his gaze to the tabletop and said "I never watch war movies."
The Brotherhood rendition of Scar's backstory, which takes up a good part of the aforementioned episode 22, is no less heartbreaking. It's specially poignant because the flashback is almost all in black and white, save for the blue eyes of both cold / evil and good Amestrians as the Ishvalan massacre takes place...
A Tear Jerker of happiness this time: Ross, having revealed to have faked her death, orchestrated by Roy, who, as it initially appeared, had murdered her. It is staged so that the reader/viewer is out of the know that she is still alive until Ed and Armstrong arrive in the ruins of Xerxes, and Armstrong's overflowing tears of joy bring the viewer with him. Just the fact that Roy once again proves why he is such a fan favorite, that he did not suddenly become an arrogant traitor, and that such a relief can exist amongst a very depressing part of the story with many deaths...
However, there's a scene before that one that was far from happy or heartwarming. Just after Mustang had faked Ross' death, everyone is gathered around for an autopsy report. Dr. Knox, who was in on it from the start, then "confirms" that the charred corpse is in fact Ross. After the fact, Armstrong approaches Mustang, and deeply apologizes for her actions since she was one of his men...and visibly shaking, as he is clearly upset. However, what truly makes the scene (particularly in the anime version, when the camera slowly pans upwards) is when they reveal the look of barely-contained rage on Armstrong's face. He clearly wanted to beat Mustang to death right then and there, and it was taking every ounce of willpower he could muster to hold himself back.
Made even worse by how, during all that, Armstrong was going on about how Maria was a good person and a hard worker, and in addition to his rage at Mustang, he's also trying to hold back tears at the loss of his subordinate. It shows just how much he cared about her, and the apparent loss of an innocent, dedicated woman makes the whole thing feel so... pointless.
Chapter 94, Hawkeye to Mustang talking him down from killing Envy and threatening to shoot him herself:
Mustang: What will you do after I'm dead?
Hawkeye: I have no intention of living on alone. After this battle is over I will erase my life, along with the secret to flame alchemy that's led good men to madness.
Roy's statement afterwards adds to it:
Mustang: That won't do. I can't lose you.
Speaking of Mustang and Hawkeye, what about Research Laboratory 3, when she thought Roy had been killed by Lust? It's simply heartbreaking to see such a normally stoic character completely break down, with tears streaming down her face, and it's strongly implied that if Al hadn't been there, Riza would have let herself be killed as well.
Al's reason for wanting to get his body back.
Al: I don't want to be alone at night anymore!
The lead-up to it is pretty heartwrenching as well, as the brothers and Izumi realize that they didn't end up killing the people they were trying to revive a second time.
Al referencing his inability to cry when talking to Winry. He discusses how Edward doesn't take the chance to cry, when he's lucky that he has tear ducts.
Remember that scene early on in the series, with Ed and Al sitting in the rain, and Al talking about how he can't even feel it? He wasn't even complaining or anything, just stating the truth.
Havoc's breakdown after losing the use of his legs. Sure, he became a full-fledged Handicapped Badass later, but that scene where he's begging Roy to just give up on him and cut him loose from the plans is crushing.
Even the previous hospital scene, when he reveals that he can't use his legs anymore, is a tearjerker as well.
Al's group revisiting the town where they met Rose early in the series is full of heartwarming tear jerkers. Not only do they meet Rose, who is helping to rebuild the town and feeding the needy, but after Hoenheim says that he doesn't even think that Al views him as his father because he left when Al was so young, Al shows up to help with the rebuild and calls him his dad.
Ling's breakdown after that was already heartbreaking in the manga, but Brotherhood just made it even worse, if that's possible. Maybe it's being able to actually hear Ling's screams and watch tears visibly stream down his face, but the whole scene in episode 58 with Ling desperately crying out for someone to use his stone to save Fu, only to get a cruel realization that despite the powers he's obtained he can't do anything for the situation is heartwrenching.
Ling: Why...? ... I've finally gained immortality, and I CAN'T SAVE EVEN ONE OF MY SUBJECTS!? DAMN IT!!!!
When Fu goes to make his suicide attack, it's not just a devastated Ling who yells at him, it's Greed as well.
Ed pleading with the Truth after realizing Al was taken away. "Give him back! He's my brother! Take my leg! Take my arm! TAKE MY HEART! ANYTHING! YOU CAN HAVE IT! Just give him back! HE'S MY LITTLE BROTHER, HE'S ALL I HAVE LEFT!"
Points for Vic Mignona for perfecting the sheer desperation, rage, and terror in Ed's voice.
Lieutenant Hawkeye getting a sabre to the jugular.]
Olivier's reaction, or better yet, lack of reaction to Buccaneer's death. The other character's faces show it best.
The ending of the episode of the Brotherhood OVA "The Blind Alchemist". Edward and Alphonse find out that the blind alchemist's human transmutation of little Rosalie was in fact a failure, and that everyone in the mansion is deceiving him to keep him from knowing the awful truth. Hence, his attempts to bring back a dead loved one resulted in a near-lifeless husk, an orphan pretending to be Rosalie to lead the deception along, and the loss of his eyes as "payment."
Alphonse: "They're all good people."
Edward: "Yeah. But... nobody was saved."
It may be an omake, but it nevertheless turns to Fridge Horror due to a later realization in the series: the dead are impossible to bring back to life. Whatever it is lying in that bed, it is not Rosalie.
That particular omake was originally a side comic featured in one of the extra books for the series. The original version of Ed's line is much more ominous.
Al: You're so thin, I can see your bones. You can barely stand! It's all you can do! How can I fight in a body like this?!
Whatever's in Al's body: Don't you want your real body back?
Al: Of course I do! Always! Always for years and years! I've dreamed about getting my real body back! But... but!! I... can't... I can't have that body... not now...
Many people cried when Roy lost his eyesight. The poor guy just doesn't get a break.
Hohenheim's flashback to when he leaves his family, describing his life to Trisha.
"In the years since I got this body I've seen a lot of death. I tried to think about it as part of the great cycle, and that made it easier somehow and every time I see something wondrous I believe it was worth it, that I stayed alive all these years. And then I met you, and together we created two sons. I don't age, and yet I see my sons grow up before my eyes. And suddenly I'm terrified "
Chapter 104. Seeing the nation wide circle being activated and watching the world start to die...especially the scene where Winry collapses.
Seeing a mountain of strength and exuberance like Armstrong dead and motionless on the ground reaches a whole new level of wrongness.
Hohenheim restoring the Amestrian souls in Episode 61 is awesome, but the last of the Xerxian souls to speak is a child who happily agreed to sacrifice himself because his friend Hohenheim asked.
Also in episode 41 of the anime, the part where Ed gets Heinkel to remove the metal beam from his chest and then attempts to use alchemy to seal the wound using his own life force instead of a philosopher's stone.
Bradley's last words. Makes you almost forget that he's a hateful, genocidal bastard.
"I didn't believe in God, or something like that, but this must be what they meant when they said, 'God has forsaken me', isn't it?" "Remember who I am. I chose her (his wife)." "Thanks to you humans... my life... had been a good life... A life worth living for. And... maybe even... a life... worth... dying... for..."
Al, still suffering from a Heroic BSoD from his fight against Barry, confronts Ed and demands to know if he's real or artificial, stating how easy it would be to fake a construct's memories, and pointing out how Ed was reluctant to ask him something. Cue Winry smacking Al with a wrench, and telling him, tears welling in her eyes:
"You know what he was so afraid to talk to you about? HE WANTS TO KNOW IF YOU BLAME HIM FOR WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR BODY, AL!! And then, you go and say that! What kind of idiot would risk his life just to make a fake brother? The two of you, you're all you have!"
Also Ed's just slamming his hands on the table and just quietly saying "Is that what you think.." and walking out quietly, completely dejected by the accusation.
And then the flashback happens of Ed rambling endlessly about how guilty he feels and how it's all his fault and that he's terrified of Al hating him.
When Winry comes to see Ed to repair his arm following his fight with the Slicer Brothers, she was intending to give him an earful about taking better care of his automail (while hiding the fact that, due to lack of sleep, she'd forgotten to put one of the bolts back in during his last repair/tune-up). She immediately changes her tune when she finds that he's in the hospital recovering from serious injuries that he received around the time the missing bolt had caused his arm to stop working properly. Ed immediately tries to cheer her up by admitting that he was being reckless with his automail, but Winry still has to live with the knowledge that her lack of attention on his repairs could have gotten him killed.
Also, if that somehow still doesn't make you feel anything, you don't just emerge from having all your friends brutally murdered fine. We never get to see it thanks to the timeskip, but Greed was probably pretty traumatized by it. Who knows whathappened during the time skip?
At one point during that fight, Envy looks at Roy with an expression that can only be described as sheer terror. The sadistic little palm tree clearly didn't want to see what was in store for them at that point, and it manages to make them almost pitiful. They even seem to whimper a little.
Like several other scenes, Brotherhood makes it even worse. There's just something about actually watching Envy's pitiful little slug form helplessly crawling around while bawling that almost makes you feel bad for them.
If the above has no effect, then thinking of its effects on Roy Mustang may change it. Roy's biggest desire, which Hughes shares, is to change Amestris' society so peace will be achieved and nothing ever similar to the Ishvalan Massacre will happen again. Here, however, by beating and burning Envy pretty much to death, Roy is his Darkest Hour... and about to completely betray these noble ideas and dreams. He's about to become the very personhe detests the most, out of trying to avenge his best friend's death. It's a damn relief to see Ed and Riza appear and manage to snap the guy out of it.
What makes Ed return to try to talk Roy down? Talking to Scar about what Roy is about to do, and Scar saying that Roy's hate will destroy him and he's unlikely to recover. Thanks to his Character Development and interactions with characters like Winry and Miles, Scar is painfully aware that he let himself be consumed by hatred and went down a path which destroyed him.
When Pride thinks of his "family" when Ed takes over him. And when he's been reduced to his true form, and we see him cry for his "mama".
It's a little hard to feel sorry for Pride, but the look on Mrs. Bradley's face when Ed hands him to her in the penultimate episode. Especially given that we've watched her being manipulated by Team Mustang for the past few episodes. Just imagine how devastated she must have been to learn that the family she loved so much was a lie and that her concern for them had been exploited for the gain of the revolution. Ouch.
Chapter 107: Al uses his body to shield May from Father's attack, getting nearly destroyed from it, a crack just millimeters from his bloodseal. Then, when Ed's automail arm is destroyed and he's pinned down with Father about to kill him, Al (with the help of May) sacrifices his soul to restore Ed's real arm. May's tears as she sets up the arrays and Ed's look when he realizes what Al is doing are just heartbreaking.
The Funimation dub makes it worse with a callback to the very beginning, when Ed comforted Rose after defeating Father Cornello.
Al:"Keep moving, Brother."
Ed's reaction to the above: three words.
Ed:"YOU STUPID IDIOT!!"
The Funimation dub version of the above, where Vic's voice breaks.
Ed:"AL, YOU DUMBASS!!!!!"
Another scene from 107 when Al is finally reunited with his body at the Gate and confronted by the Truth.
Brotherhood's fifth opening, appropriately titled "Rain" — seeing King Bradley possibly crying and the overall tone of the song can certainly inspire such moments.
That opening also includes a scene foreshadowing Roy losing his eyesight. Seeing that pillar of strength and rebellious spirit looking so incredibly broken◊ is almost too much to bear. Not helped at all by the fact that it's immediately followed by Riza holding Black Hayate and crying.
How about the ending "Let It All Out" by Miho Fukuhara? The song has a very sentimental tone...
What makes it worse is that Ling accepts that they will have to make the sacrifice to save the others and asks Greed if he'll stick with him to the end. Greed agrees and Ling smiles, then Ling discovers that Greed tricked him. His breakdown into tears and sobbing is understandable.
Also, "That was my first and last lie."
Greed's last words. Specifically the fact that Greed, the man who thought he wanted everything, declaring that he has enough, because he found friends. And nothing is worth more to him than that.
"It's enough. Aah, it's enough. I don't need anything else. See ya, friends...of my soul."
A nod to the English voice acting as well: try not to feel just a little bit heartbroken at how devastated Ling sounds when Father is destroying Greed.
Hohenheim offers his last human soul, his own, for Ed to use to bring Alphonse back. When Ed demands why, Hohenheim responds with the fact of his fatherly duty before admitting that much of the grief he caused to his sons was because of him leaving before asking to be let to do this one last thing.
Ed is stunned before he refuses it vehemently all while finally calling him father. And for the first time in the series, heck probably since the accident, Ed was crying. It shows a strong moment of vulnerability and just how much Hohenheim leaving impacted them. Hoenheim even apologized when he saw his son's tears.
Hohenheim returns to Resembool and dies next to Trisha's grave with a smile on his face. Pinako finds him:
Pinako: Hohenheim!... You idiot... Dying with a smile on your face...
Brotherhood makes it even better by dedicating the ending credits to him in episode 63 right after he dies.
"Alphonse! Someday, I swear I'll come back for you. Just you wait! Just you wait!"
The new OVA "Yet Another Man's Battlefield". It features eighteen-year-old Roy at the military academy, meeting Hughes (whose appearance in itself might reduce someone to tears given what happens to him...), and befriending a fellow Ishvalan trainee named Heathcliff, after standing up to some bullies. See where this is going? Years later, the Ishval War of Extermination happens. In a nutshell, Roy, now the Flame Alchemist, meets Heathcliff again, who is clearly in despair over the murders of his people. He shoots Roy, before being shot himself by Hughes. The scene then skips to the manga omake where Roy asks Hughes about what he has to live for. And of course, "...Give me 30 seconds." Seriously heartbreaking...
The words on the next-to-last pages:
A lesson without pain is meaningless. For you cannot gain something without sacrificing something else in return. But once you have overcome it and made it your own...you will gain an irreplaceable Fullmetal Heart.
Combined with pictures of everyone with their happy endings.
Reaching the last page of the final chapter and realizing one of the greatest manga in existence is finally over.
The true tearjerker is a good one-where the readers are thanked for their support and love.
In Brotherhood, when discussing the sheer brutality of the Ishval massacre, we are often shown a giant wall being alchemically formed before a group of Ishvalans running desparately for their lives, and then they get gunned down by the soldiers chasing them. In the full on flashback given by Hawkeye, we see that the one who made the wall was Armstrong! The look on his face as he hears the gunshots is just...devastating.
Even WORSE in the manga. Armstrong goes to the other side of the wall to see what happened and is walking in a complete daze among the dead bodies. He comes across an Ishvalan woman and her mother, who survived the massacre by hiding in a crevice the whole time. To alleviate his conscience, he busts a hole in the wall he created and tells them to flee. He watches them run off only to see them get blown to bits by Kimblee, who observed the entire scene and was, worse yet, trying to help Armstrong dodge a court-martial. Cue Armstrong dropping to his knees in shock.
Seeing Basque Grand trying to spare Ishval can also be quite sad when you know that all of his efforts are going to fail, Bradley is going to order the genocide to continue, and that in the end, Grand is going to be killed by one of the Ishvalan survivors.
"I curse you." It's a small line from the last Ishvalan killed in the war, but it's incredibly powerful because he doesn't look angry at Mustang. No, he's quietly stating that Roy will carry the demons of Ishval for the rest of his life. And Roy can't do anything but look at him in the eye as he executes him.
The discovery that the Elrics didn't even manage to bring back their mother. Ed goes into a minor breakdown about it, followed by Izumi crying in relief that she didn't kill her baby a second time.
On a related note, after Ed digs up "Trisha's" remains, he wants to give them a proper burial, complete with a marker of some kind. Pinako muses to herself that Ed's definition of humanity is too broad, if he truly feels pity for the thing that he and Al created. However, she then promptly thinks that if it wasn't, he'd have to admit that Al is barely human anymore, too.
The look on Greed's face when he admits, in his entire life, that all he's ever wanted was friends. Especially poignant in the anime where we see his eyes shimmer a little, as if saying if he wasn't who he was, he'd cry from this revelation.
Ling: Greed, this is what you desperately wanted, isn't it? Greed: Yeah, you're right... This is what I wanted. I wanted the chance to have friends like these.
When Izumi finds out about Al and Ed's attempting Human Transmutation in episode 12 of Brotherhood, after explaining what happened to her and sympathises with them, she tells them it's ok to let themselves hurt. Cue her hugging them both as Ed and Al break down apologising and begging her to forgive them.
What's really sad is when you examine the Homunculi, creatures formed from Father's emotions and desires, and realize that what Father really wanted was that same love and support that wound up defeating him, a desire so deeply buried and denied that neither he nor his children (save Greed and Envy, and Envy committed suicide out of shame for it) were ever able to admit it. To really rub salt in the wound had he from the start simply asked Van Hohenheim, his own "father" whom he freed from slavery and who was fond of him (before the whole, y'know, genocide of Hohenheim's people thing, Hohenheim would have given that love and support to him in a heartbeat.
As an Alternative Character Interpretation, the fact that Truth implies that Father actually did understand what he had done wrong but was so consumed by pride that he abandoned all his good traits and went on with his plan to become God... What a waste of life.
"Well, Bradley... my soldier was strong... wasn't he?"
To be more clear, Olivier says this when she finds Bradley's body after everything that happened on the Promised Day. The only reason Scar finally managed to take him down was due to a nearly-fatal blow that Buccaneer had dealt to him earlier, though Bradley fatally injured him afterwards. It's a mix of tear jerking and heartwarming, since it comes across as Olivier being genuinely proud of Buccaneer's final moments.
Lust's death was a Moment of Awesome for Roy, but Gluttony and Envy's reactions to it were this. Gluttony is sitting there on the floor, crying and moaning out Lust's name, while Envy is completely furious at Wrath for letting Roy get away with it. It just seems to show that, for all the Homunculi are, they do seem to care about each other.
A rare example of a Fridge Brilliance form of tearjerker can be seen when you compare what each of those who preformed human transmutation lost.
Ed who was almost completely independent and strong willed as a child lost his leg, and his ability to stand on his own.
And another gut punch for him, if you think about it, was losing Alphonse. It was Ed's idea to try to bring their mother back through alchemy, to keep their family together. So by taking Al, the Truth took away the only family Ed had left.
Especially when you see what Truth took in exchange for Al's soul, his right arm. This signifies the Lancer role and the right-hand man nature Al is to his brother.
Al who praised family and relations more then anyone lost his entire body, trapping him into loneliness at night and robbing him of the ability to ever feel his mother's warmth again.
Izumi in trying to bring back the child she had lost, lost the ability to ever have one of her own.
And lastly Roy, who spent the latter part of his life attempting to build a better future, lost the ability to see what his vision would create.
Even at the very end, Ed and Al never forgot Nina.
Even Barry the Chopper gets one when he rejects the idea of rejoining his human body, noting that it was rotting and "won't last much longer". When his body (inhabited by an animal's soul) scratches his blood seal, he smiles as he truly dies.
Gluttony's terrified reaction when Pride betrays him and eats him alive. To make matters worse, his last words are him screaming out for Lust.
When Father "gives birth" to some of the souls from Xerxes to shut up Hohenheim, you can see a baby crawl up to Izumi and tug on her foot. Not only does this show that Infant Immortality was very much not in effect, Izumi looks like she's having somewhat of a Heroic BSoD, since it likely reminded her of her own child.
Wrath goes out with a speech stating how, despite how much he despises humans, their unpredictability made life worth living, and goes out with a smile.
Pretty much any time "Trisha's Lullaby" plays. It's such a beautiful piece of music that perfectly captures Ed and Al's grief and longing for their dead mother. It's also used to great effect when the brothers mourn the fate of Nina.
Ed's utter howl of misery at the end of "Night of the Chimera's Cry", both in the original Japanese and the English dub.
In the dub, at least, Vic really sells it. His pained sobs sound way, way too real for him to just be acting.
How the Nina/Alexander chimera keeps asking Al if they can play. Each time it asks it gets worse.
Ed's resulting Heroic BSoD in Episode 8. To make matters worse, he is tasked with going through Tucker's research. This drives him to resign his commission as a State Alchemist and track down Barry the Chopper, believing him to be Nina's killer.
When Tucker snaps and uses Al's Philosopher's Stone body to try to bring Nina back.
A bit of Fridge Horror made this even worse. Because her father promised Nina he'd play with her the next day, it all might have made perfect sense to her. She and her dog sitting in circles drawn with chalk, her dad being all excited... Bloody hell, she probably thought her father would be showing magic tricks to her 'til the very end.
The Mercy Kill. Y'see, in Brotherhood, we meet chimeras who, while rather unhappy with their lot, are relatively well-adjusted and even looking into ways to restore themselves. If there was anything, anything at all, that could've been done to help Nina in the slightest, well... That door was slammed shut.
Roy's flashback in episode 13. If the lighting, the hesitation of both characters and "Regret" playing in the background wasn't enough, the scene shows Roy's shadow on the wall flaring up as Roy incinerates the poor boy.
Episode 27, near the end. Izumi has just beaten the living crap out of Ed and Al after they finally confessed to attempting to bring their mother back. She stands before them, angry and disappointed. Then she walks over and wordlessly holds them close to her. Cue a piano rendition of "Brothers." Both Ed and Al begin to cry. Such a simply crafted scene, but easily one of the most powerful and beautiful in the entire series.
When Izumi explains the concept of death to one of the children who regularly comes by after her cat has died.
Wrath, who is not so much evil as deeply, deeply unhinged for understandable reasons. The demise of his surrogate mother Sloth is a particularly good example, with Wrath inadvertently helping Ed to kill her and breaking down into full, heartbroken tears afterwards. Imagine a horribly twisted 12-year-old bawling his eyes out as his "mother" slowly dies in front of him/in him. Perhaps the most tragic example of Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!. Worse still, the last thing she says to him is basically calling him an idiot for doing this (granted, she says it in more of a "You poor thing, you don't even realize that you messed up" tone than an angry one, but still).
"Reunion of the Fallen." Half Tear Jerker, half terrifying. Everything about the episode's backstory is depressing, from Lujon falling in love with Lust because of how much she'd taught him, to Lust inadvertently regaining memories of Scar's brother (her past self's lover) due to how much Lujon resembles him, to Lydia finding out about Lujon's changing feelings on their wedding day... Ouch. Then there's how casually present-day Lydia talks about how Lujon has someone else he loves more than her, and one of the last shots in the episode after the entire town has returned to having the disease that Lujon tried to heal where Lydia and Lujon are shown together.
Greed's death, especially because of how much it comes across as essentially suicide, not to mention his inspirational speech on the dire need to stop his fellow homunculi. It's also amazing to see Ed try and succeed in killing him one second and then start crying and screaming for him to wake up when he realizes the full impact of what's happened.
Another thing with Greed is his reaction to Kimblee betraying him. It's to the point where Greed retracts his shield, and he looks so close to crying. What's worse is that he has to be dragged away by one of his men to make sure he doesn't get killed.
You think that dub scene was bad... episode 8 anyone? This plays out in a shorter form after the Nina revelation in the manga and Brotherhood, but the first anime is a whole lot more powerful, as this was after a near-death experience.
Ed: When I was certain he was going to kill me, my mind went blank, and I didn't have any hope anymore. And the only thing I could do was scream my lungs out. I felt so helpless, I couldn't even bring myself to believe someone might save me. Then you showed up, Al. And I realized that if we don't take care of each other, then no one else will. So I'll do anything in my power to get our bodies back, even if it means being the military's lapdog. And we'll just have to hope our powers are good enough to help us rise above our own limits. [cries into his hands] 'Cause we're not gods. We're humans. Tiny, insignificant humans... who couldn't even save a little girl...
The last minute or so of the second-to-last episode is a combination of sadness and "What just happened" due to the rapid series of events. One heart-wrenching word: "EDWAAAAAAARD!"
No mention of the episode where we see Ed and Al's past? The song Bratja at the end really hits it home, even if you don't know Russian.
Speaking of Bratja, Vic Mignogna's now famous cover of the song. After a while, you stop seeing it as just an English cover that happens to be sung by the protagonist's voice actor... eventually, you come to see it as the real Edward Elric, singing his regrets to his brother and pleading for his forgiveness.
While in Lab 5, the younger Slicer Brother begs Ed to kill him, but he refuses, since denying he were human would mean Al was no longer human either. As this exchange is going on, Barry is convincing Al he's not human, only a product of false memories. If Ed's heartfelt speech isn't enough, the background song, Bratja, really pushes it over the edge.
The entire subplot of Tucker trying to bring back Nina. Yes, he's a sick, amoral monster deserving of punishment. But as the show progresses, it's clear there's a side of him that truly loved Nina and wanted her back, but to no avail. By his last appearance, he's only left with a soulless "doll" of her, and is so insane at this point that he doesn't know this. The mere idea of ANYONE being that messed up is just too much.
Who can forget Hughes' funeral? Everyone's sad enough, including the viewers. The icing on the tear-jerker cake, however, is when Hughes' four-year-old daughter, who doesn't understand the concept of death, starts asking why they're burying her daddy.
Not to mention that the words of Elicia even make the mega-badass Alex Louis Armstrong cry... Which is probably not so unexpected, since he had a mental breakdown after seeing the horrors of the Ishbal extermination war, making him unfit to continue. Regardless, there's just something horribly upsetting about seeing the normally cheerful, boisterous Armstrong being reduced to silent tears.
Fridge Horror when you realize that they accidentally broke Hughes' family the same way Hohenhiem did to their family.
One of the biggest tear-jerkers being when Mustang puts his hat on, stares up at the clear sky and proclaims: "It's going to rain today."
Lust's death. She starts out as a cold-blooded monster, but seeing her become cynical and depressed after Scar's death is hard. She is portrayed very sympathetically after teaming up with the Elrics, and to top it off, she agrees with Wrath on some level regarding how she wants to become human so she can finally die.
Gluttony's reaction to it. Aside from his attachment to Lust, he had pretty much been established as brainless and completely amoral. Seeing him break down over her death and constantly ask where she is almost makes you wanna hug the poor guy.
After Ed tells him that Lust is dead, Gluttony just flops onto the ground and loses the motivation to do anything besides wander around mumbling her name. He's so far over the Despair Event Horizon, that the only way he manages to get out of it is for Dante to basically erase his brain. And even then, it's implied that it wasn't entirely effective, as in the movie Gluttony goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Wrath (Lust's killer) and completely ignores Al.
Scar's final conversation with Lust. He points out that he loved her human form but also hated his brother for learning the forbidden arts of alchemy to try to bring her back. And yet the love that the Elric brothers felt for each other made him realize that he loved his brother.
The opening theme of Conqueror of Shamballa is a somewhat melancholy, yet upbeat song that plays over a montage of the 51 episodes of the anime. It includes some of the saddest moments like Hughes' death, chimera!Nina and Scar shedding a tear. Just check it out.
Anything about Izumi in the movie. Her dying is a shocker, especially in hindsight for manga fans. But her being reunited with her son in death... Sob.
The airplane scene with Edward slowly making his resolve and turning away, then speaking in a heart-wrenchingly calm voice as he explains himself to his brother, the way his face quivers for a moment... and THEN Al starts screaming and crying.
Then the cut to Winry, who calmly states "I guess this is goodbye for good," while appearing as if she is on the verge of tears.
Anything about Alfons. Starting with his life, following with his relationship with Edward (who only sees a shadow of Al in him and doesn't even notice how much he hurts him that way) and ending with his Heroic Sacrifice. That man deserves a seat of honor here.
Rick and Leo's scenario. One of them hates their mother for "forsaking" them, when it turns out she was basically blind and tried to find them but ended up dying whilst doing so.
Selim's death. In this version, he's not Pride, but an innocent kid. And killed by his own FATHER at that. Then there's Roy Mustang carrying the little body away from the house after going on a fiery revenge.
Rose. Being raped, lied to, manipulated, made mute and generally all the crap she went through. She didn't have it good in her first appearance either.
There's something bittersweet about episode 4. Majhal was so in love with a woman who died that he tried to bring her back to life, and obviously failed. He essentially murdered several woman in attempts to bind their souls to mannequins that resembled his lost love, but they never binded correctly. At the end of the episode it turns out "Lebi", a woman who often visited Majhal, is revealed to be his supposedly dead lover - Karin. Majhal refuses to believe that the woman is Karin - as she is now older than before and no longer "beautiful" to him - and tries to attack her, but he accidentally becomes impaled by his own sword. Even while dying Majhal refuses to acknowledge that Lebi is Karin, and that she is alive.
The dejected look on her face as Majhal, with his dying breath, flat-out rejects her (and over something as shallow as aging) makes it even worse.
Sloth's death. When she's evaporating after Ed transmutes her body into ethanol, it's possible she remembers who she once was as she says her last words. And the look on Ed's face!
"Nicely done, sweetheart. Clean up after yourselves, and take care of each other."
The Lab 5 scene, where Lust threatens to scrape off the blood seal on Al's armor unless Ed makes a Philosopher's Stone for the homunculi, and Ed pleading her not to.
Al having Martel killed while she is inside of him. Her blood is gushing out through the gaps in his armor and he just kind of sits there sobbing that he couldn't save her when he tried so hard. To make it worse, it's the only time in the 03 series that armor!Al cries onscreen. It really hits home that he's just a vulnerable kid trying to be cheerful for his brother's sake, and that for all the times we see Ed crying onscreen, Al is probably crying too, silently.
Al is so distraught at this that he actually wraps his arms around himself, as if trying to cradle Marta's body.
Barry the Chopper is Nightmare Fuel incarnate. The scenes afterwards are some of the most depressing in the series. Narrowly escaping death, and still mourning Nina and Alexander, Edward's in a state of agony. To make it worse he's only twelve and has had so much happen already. His speech, stated above, drives it all in, but Alphonse isn't much better.
Al: Since I no longer have a mortal shell, I can't feel the terror you felt, thinking you were going to die. I'm sure it must have been painful, and lonely. I want my body back, brother. I want to be able to feel what you felt. To feel human again. If we find the Philosopher's Stone, I can have that.
During episode 6, while Ed is taking his exam:
Alphonse: I don't know if we chose the right path, brother. But I do know this: I don't want to be in this suit anymore. I want to feel things again. It's strange. We've been right beside each other all this time. But I can't remember what your skin feels like, or how you smell.
When Edward sees the corpse of a woman who was killed by Barry, he gets triggered by memories of his mother and that... thing... he and Al created, and passes out. Shou says that the entire time Ed was asleep, he was crying to his mom that he was sorry. The look on his face... That horrified look of fear and sadness and pain... it's just heartbreaking.
Before that, said woman's son can be seen clinging to the sheet she's under and crying. When a soldier tries to pull him away, he gets hysterical and begs them not to take him away from her. The clincher? The poor boy couldn't be much older than five.
Ed and Mustang's farewell in Episode 48, as Mustang goes off to confront the Fuhrer and Ed to find Dante, is especially poignant given Ed's previous antagonism-cum-hatred towards his superior. Mustang goes to salute, then smiles a bit and offers his hand instead - Ed slaps his fingers, and smiles back. There's an air of finality about it that says neither expects to see the other again.
It's a small moment, but after the Tringham brothers help Ed get into Dante's lair, Russell tells Ed to come back safely. It's unclear if they find out exactly what happened down there, but neither option is all that great. Either they feel guilty for Ed basically disappearing, or they never get to know what happened to their friend.
How can we forget about the creation of Wrath? Izumi, a mother who desperately wanted her baby to live again, tried to bring him back, and she ended up with something that was not human. She gives her baby to the Gate, only for her to immediately regret it after hearing his cries. She reaches out to him, but to no avail, and lets out a agonized wail as the Gate closes.
Hearing the cries of baby Wrath is really heartbreaking. This is a child whose own mother gave him away just because he was not human, and even when she realized her mistake and tried to take him back it was already too late.
Envy has a pretty depressing backstory. When his father, Hohenheim made him into a homunculus, he was horrified and ran out on his family. Dante, his own mother, doesn't even call him her son. She tells Wrath (while standing next to Envy) that "homunculi don't have mothers." After all of that, Hohenheim makes a new family and pretty much replaces Envy. While Envy's human self greatly resembles Hoheheim, he takes on a form that looks nothing like him and claims to have forgotten what he originally looked like.
In Envy's monologue in the OVA "Reflections", he wonders if the homunculi want to be human so that they can die, but adamantly states he doesn't want to. By the end, he expresses that ultimately he wants to forget the reason he was born.
Many, though everyone remembers the deaths of Maes Hughes, and Nina/Alexander.
There's also the last episode where Al sacrifices himself to resurrect Ed, and restore his body. Afterwards, Ed sacrifices his new arm and leg to save Al from death.
Al:This is for you, brother. I'll miss you.
"Edward, why... does it hurt here?"
The ending of the first video game where Armony and her father die, while Ed and Al are helpless to do anything about it.
Also the ending of the second video game, when Arlen sees Elma's spirit sitting peacefully next to Crowley's body.
Lyra. She was an ambitious, but misguided young woman who had turned a new leaf and had her whole life ahead of her, yet she was cruelly murdered and then had her body taken over and made into the face of the central antagonist. It's honestly surprising this isn't near the top of the page.