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Tear Jerker / Halo

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Examples from Halo 5: Guardians and Halo: Reach go here and here, respectively.


Halo: Combat Evolved (And the Anniversary edition)

  • Foehammer. For all those missions, she's one of the very few UNSC ally that isn't replaceable, that isn't just a generic soldier running to his death (and getting in your way, no less). As often as she can be, she's there to cover your back by picking up survivors, dropping off a warthog or guiding you towards an objective, and all the while with her heartening voice, full of vitality and upbeat humor. And then you watch her die while coming to your rescue, and there's nothing you can do. Even Cortana chokes up.
  • Keyes was one of the UNSC's best, a brilliant tactician and damn fine commander to boot. Every time you see him, you can tell that he's the kind of commander who can inspire the men serving under him to their fullest potential. And not only does he die an ignoble and terrible death, but it's absolutely horrifying—his body slowly mutilated and his consciousness erased by the Flood. The novelization details how he can feel each memory and thought of his own slowly being stripped away, his identity draining away like sand in a sieve. It doesn't help that Chief has to immediately take the neural chips and keep going....
    • The Anniversary edition has a terminal that shows Keyes fighting the Flood, with metaphorical tooth and nail, to keep them from taking everything. He keeps repeating his name and service number over and over, while bit by bit, his memories are stripped away and consumed. The real heartwrencher is when he remembers Miranda, and tries clinging to her memory.
    Keyes: "Miranda... Is that you?"
    Proto-Gravemind: "Forget... everything..."
    *Miranda starts fading*
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  • The ending of the game. Everyone aside from Chief and Cortana (and, First Strike reveals, a few other UNSC personnel) die when the Pillar of Autumn explodes. Chief just sits there quietly and Cortana tries to convince both of them that they had no other option.
    Chief: Did anyone else make it?
    Cortana: Scanning... Just...dust and echoes. We're all that's left.
  • Some of the terminals in the anniversary edition do a good job of portraying 343 Guilty Spark as a sad, incredibly lonely being. He's been trapped on a super-weapon in the middle of space, completely and utterly alone (save for the flood), without even any wildlife to interact with. Spark spends his days fantasizing about how much better his job would be if he had been sent with another monitor, and how he could easily take a short break and fly to a nearby planet, although he would risk failing his task should the flood escape by any chance. Then finally, when sentient life actually locates his installation and he discovers that the mission he was sent on millennia ago was a success, they proceed to undo all his hard work within the course of a few days and destroy his home.
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  • After Keyes indicates his plan to evacuate the Autumn and personally crash-land the ship, Cortana has an almost understated objection that, even cutting out everything All There in the Manual, tells exactly how the war with the Covenant has been going.
    Cortana: With all due respect, Sir, this war has enough dead heroes.

Halo 2

  • Cortana's decision to stay on High Charity to stall the launch of the Dreadnaught for John-117 to get on board. She's stuck there until Halo 3.
  • The damage done from the torture to the Arbiter looks far more extensive and he painfully struggles to stand and walk afterwards.
  • In Anniversary the way the Arbiter looks down and away from the Spec Ops commander at the exchange:
    ...these are my Elites. Their lives matter to me, yours does not.
    That makes two of us.
  • Toward the end, when the Arbiter is trying to convince Tartarus to stop what he's doing and stand down, he asks 343 Guilty Spark exactly what the Halos are and what happened to the Forerunners. Once his suspicions are confirmed by the Monitor's answer, it basically tears to pieces the religion he's lived by for decades, and you can see in his face and hear in his voice how heartbroken he is:
    Arbiter: Tartarus... the Prophets have betrayed us...
    • In Halo 2 Anniversary, updated graphics and performance capture makes the aliens far more expressive and as a result you can truly see how crushed the Arbiter is as 343 Guilty Spark explains the purpose of Halo.
  • Terminals:
    • While the Prophets rarely do inspire empathy, the sorrow seen at the beheading of their ambassadors to Sanghelios is palatable.
    • The enslavement of the Unggoy and the glassing of their homeworld, Balaho.
    • Sesa 'Refumee (the heretic leader) goes into deeper and deeper despair as he converses with 343 Guilty Spark about the Covenant and the Forerunners. Even worse is the small spark of hope that he has when he considers that perhaps his former commander, Thel 'Vadamee (the future Arbiter) may be the key to break the hold of the San'Shyuum over the Sangheili.
  • The Elites are dangerous enemies and humanity is right to fight them. But its still heartbreaking to see everything that you have come to believe fall to pieces from the perspective of the Arbiter.

Halo 3: ODST

  • The empty, destroyed state of the New Mombasa following the Covenant invasion. The music, in a noir attitude, does not help the mood of complete desolation in enemy territory, let alone the fact that many of the remaining vehicles are on fire.
  • When Sadie begs 6'10", 500 pound butcher Jonas to evacuate New Mombasa, Jonas replies that he is so large he would take up space for five people.
    Jonas: I am not worth five people.
  • Sadie's goodbye to Virgil as the subway train makes its way out of New Mombasa.
    Sadie: Vergil! You're all I have left of this place!
    Superintendent: (as Dr. Endesha) 'Sadie — Sadie — Sadie — Sadie!'
    Superintendent: (as Dr. Endesha) 'Sadie, sweetheart... You make me so very, very proud.'
    Sadie: You're all I have left of him...

Halo 3

Halo Wars

  • John Forge's Heroic Sacrifice.
    • "You got all of us out alive." "Not all of us..."

Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn

  • The sequence where the remnants of Hastati Squad follow the Chief through Corbulo's grounds to get to a Warthog. On the way they pass dozens of bodies while sad music plays. One especially meaningful shot is one of two cadets, one male, one female, lying together. The male's arm is around the female's body.
    • The Warthog they find is the Academy Commandant's personal vehicle, parked right outside the Cadet Barracks, right next to the General's corpse. Nobody says anything, but it's clear that he died trying to rescue them. Axios, indeed.
  • The intro scenes of Cortana's sanity unravelling are pretty unsettling to gamers who grew accustomed to her being calm and snarky.
    Cortana: (To herself) Control yourself.
    Cortana: I can't...
  • Two words from Master Chief about Chyler... I'm sorry.

Halo 4

  • Cortana's descent into Rampancy
  • Her reaction to the research station's Composition drives home how horrifying the act truly is.
  • Following Master Chief's defeat of the Didact, he falls to the ground, with the Havok nuke about ten feet in front of him. On the screen appears the message "Press Left Stick to ''crawl''. And he crawls. With each painful inch you hear Master Chief grunt in pain, and he actually falls down again a few feet from the bomb, only to Get. Up. Again. When he reaches the bomb, he arms it and the screen swings out of your control as John takes one last look at Earth. Finally, a new message appears on the screen: "Press Right Trigger to detonate the bomb."
  • Cortana's death
    • Chief's reaction to the whole ordeal. The iconic hero who has faced tremendously overwhelming odds throughout the franchise while keeping his composure out of sheer willpower is rendered absolutely helpless to it, standing there as he repeatedly refuses and denies her subsequent death shortly after a last heart-to-heart. His voice alone is cracking, absolutely cracking from the sheer realization that all he has fought forward for throughout the entirety of the game is for naught. Near the end of that cutscene, there are spots on Chief's visor roughly about eye-level that look a lot like tears. Chief apparently can't hold it in anymore and releases a tsunami of manly tears.
    • Even worse when you realize Cortana has been trying to get John to accept the fact that she will die for most of the game, and that is very unlikely she will get the help she needs and suddenly becomes heart shattering when you realize, in a romantic way or a platonic one, the only person who she could touch both personally and "physically" and the one time she gets to do so is moments before her death. And even if she had survived, she would still have to be taken away from John due to her rampancy, and even if she had recovered, she would still be kept away to be studied so the UNSC could keep other A.I from becoming rampant.
      • And even worse when you realize that Cortana's still made of light, regardless of its solid state. Therefore, though she can touch John, she can't actually feel him (and he can't feel her, given he's wearing armor), which means she's reaching out just to comfort him and give him some closure before she dies. Just look at her expression of resigned contentment to have this small connection as she touches her only friend - or even possibly the man she loves - for the first and last time]].
      • Even worse when you consider that Cortana was given to Master Chief in order to alleviate the "sociopathic tendencies" that SPARTAN-II's were known to develop. In other words, it's highly likely that Cortana was one of the only things keeping Chief sane, and considering the visions he had in Halo 3 when she was still trapped on High Charity....
  • The epilogue. Apparently, John was too late to destroy the composer before it was activated and composed all the 6 million New Phoenix's residents and Disintegrated them to ashes. We see shocked UNSC soldiers examine the ashes and board the Pelican back, when they see there's nothing to do.
    • The unmasking of John in the ending. You only see his eyes, but that part alone says so much. Those eyes since the day he was a child have been exposed to the harshest military training and genetic experimentation any human being could hope to endure. Those eyes have seen countless conflicts, countless innocents and friends dying left and right, horrors unspeakable to any normal human being (especially if you count the Flood), war and death has been all John has ever seen. John's eyes are cold and mechanical, filled with so much pain that is desperately trying to claw its way to the surface. Hasley's interrogator was right, John's humanity was sacrificed in exchange for his incredible talents as a professional warrior, an agent of death. Still, those eyes also show John's humanity, he is laid bare not as a soldier but as a man. We the player are not assuming the role of a robot; John is a person.
    • 117 playing during the whole epilogue
    • The absolute worst part about it is just how old he looks. He's 46, in a time when 50 is the new 30. The lines and wrinkles around his eyes are deep. This isn't even taking into consideration the fact that he's spent no less than 5 years, probably much more, in cryo-sleep, which stops the aging process. Four decades of death and war have stretched him too far, and it shows.
  • Tillson's death. Under attack from the Covenant, the Chief informs her that he has to blow up the station to destroy the composer. She protests about losing years of work, but eventually relents and even decides to prime the nuke so that the Chief would be able to detonate it remotely. And in the end, Chief wasn't fast enough, the Didact takes the Composer, and Tillson, and all of her fellow researchers die a horrible death via Composer. Worse, Cortana was monitoring the situation the whole time, and is practically in shock after what happened.
    • Tillson's reaction to John's decision to destroy the station to keep the Composer out of the Ur-Didact's hands. She is appropriately horrified by the prospect of losing years of research, but it's how broken she sounds after reluctantly agreeing to the plan - she sounds on the verge of tears.
      Tillson: *beat* "I'll, uh... make sure the nukes are primed so you can... detonate them remotely."
  • The Terminals cinematics show how the Human-Forerunner war proceeded, how the humans lost, how the Forerunners failed to stop the Flood, the first time the composer was used on humans, and how far the Librarian went in stopping the Didact. She shot her own husband to stop his madness. Look below to the Forerunner Saga for why it's such a heartbreaking moment. Even Gravemind seemed to pity them.
  • "I can give you over forty thousand reasons why I know that sun isn't real... But for all that, I'll never know if it looks real. If it feels real." A brief soliloquy that sums up the differences between a human and an AI perfectly. For all of her vast array of knowledge, there are some things that Cortana will never be able to experience, and now, confronted with her own mortality, she regrets the things she can never have. It's subdued, quiet, and heartbreaking.
    • Even more so is her line to the Chief about it, "Promise me, before this is over you'll figure out which one of us is really the machine." It's probably her harshest line to Chief while sane, since Chief is ignoring one of the closest people in his life musing over the meaning of her life as she is dying. It makes his stoicism throughout the series seem like a coping mechanism, one that he tries to keep up even as Cortana is reaching out for emotional comfort. When the mission is over, he's still haunted by this line.
      Master Chief: She said that to me once... about being a machine.
  • Cortana's outburst at Del Rio: "I will not. Allow you. To leave. THIS PLANET!!!"

Halo Wars 2

  • There are two in the opening cutscene, especially for players of the first game. Captain Cutter wakes from cryosleep to the same "Captain, wake up, something has happened" message from the Legendary ending of the original game and the ship's systems are shown coming back online. Cue the first tear jerker, a shot of John Forge's cryosleep pod, unoccupied. Then it's followed by Serina admitting that the ship has been adrift for twenty-eight years and mentioning that the regulation life for a UNSC AI is seven before explaining that she took care of her own "arrangements" in a way that implies that she didn't wake Cutter or the crew because she didn't want to trouble them with what was, essentially, her death. The message ends with her saying It Has Been an Honor and asking Cutter to look after everyone, sounding like she's about to sob.
  • Isabel's friends were slaughtered by the Banished... and she probably couldn't help them against Atriox. No hope but to sit in the outposts computer systems...
  • Atriox, although the villain, is a pretty tragic figure in general. His fights for years under the Covenant slowly broke him as he lost 40 brothers from his Clan at a time, coming back each time, with more and more dead comrades on his shoulders over the years. Figuring out that everything he fought for was for nothing, and realizing how the Covenant has broken both the Brutes and Elites to turn into their attack dogs. Years of losing his brothers to a pointless war, often to gain no tactical advantage, forced to keep fighting for their freedom, and it's no wonder Atriox is so unrelenting and nasty in battle today.

Literature

  • Yayap's death. After all he manages to survive and achieve, he grabs a vehicle and a tank of gas and just starts driving, knowing full well that there's nowhere to go and nothing left to accomplish. It does manage to have a Heartwarming Moment — in the end, Yayap takes a bunch of food, sits down and has a nice last meal.
  • Halo: Ghosts of Onyx: Kurt seeing all the Spartans who have died before him, and giving him the can-do sign, just to give him the strength to say this final line: "Die? Don't you know? Spartans never die."
    • The destruction of Spartan-III Alpha and Beta companies, particularly how broken Lucy is over it. The deaths of Dante, Holly, and Will.
  • From Halo: The Fall of Reach: the sacrifice of the Cradle. Not to mention the actual fall of Reach, and the Spartans on it.
    • The deaths of Sam and Linda. The latter is especially wrenching, even if she eventually came back.
    • The Master Chief meeting the girl he made a Childhood Marriage Promise with during the First Battle of New Mombasa, only to realize that he can't tell her without compromising the UNSC and the fate of humanity.
    • From Evolutions: "Henry can have my ice cream."
    • From Contact Harvest, the epilogue.
      Mack:But this winter won't last, darlin'. Not forever. And when new hands set to tending this earth they'll till my pieces under. Grind them into the veins of gold I've laid. Then the roots of all they plant will wind around us — keeping us close — for an eternal summer that will not fade.
  • The Forerunner Saga: The entire story of the Didact and the Librarian, literal Star-Crossed Lovers. First, the Didact, in his youth, was forced to undergo a "brevet mutation", which would basically be the equivalent to going through all of puberty's worst in one stressful chunk of time before you're ready. Then, after they're married (a bond unique among their species since it was based upon their love for one another instead of political or social reasons), all twelve of his children were killed in battle with humans. Then, after a political failure in halting the construction of the titular Halos, he is forced into meditative, unconscious exile for thousands of years. When he's released, he's promptly captured by his enemies, his war spinxes (which contain faint imprints of his children's personalities) are torn apart, and he himself is executed. Luckily, he is technically reincarnated in a young Forerunner named Bornstellar, and he gets to spend a small, happy stretch of time reunited with his wife. Then, the Flood become a problem and she goes out to finish cataloging sentient life. For three hundred years she operates behind enemy lines, while the Didact uses every opportunity of communication to plead with her to return to safety with him. She refuses, and is finally trapped at earth. She sends one last message to the Didact, telling him that her work is finished, and that, for the sake of the galaxy, he must activate the Halos, killing her in the process. He then sends her this message:
    It's over. We're activating the [destructive arrayed matrix], our shameful last resort.I can picture you in your garden, surveying all you have created- surveying all you have preserved. And I curse the circumstance that keeps my finger on the trigger. Of all the fates to befall us, this is the cruelest of all. My inaction and hesitation and foolishness kept me here, on the wrong side of the line. And [300 years[?]] of our society's failure and miscalculation makes me your executioner.
    It's too much to bear.
    // ERROR - NO CARRIER OR RECEIPT
    AVAILABLE {DEAD END TRANSMISSION}
    //INFORMATION DESTROYED IN TRANSIT
    Mendicant Bias is trying to prevent us from firing the Array. He speeds back to the Ark, but he won't succeed. Offensive Bias will stop him, and I will burn this stinking menace in your name.
    And then?
    I will begin our Great Journey without you, carrying this bitter record. Those who came after will know what we bought with this [false transcendence] - what you bought, and the price you paid.
  • From the final intercepted transmissions of the AI Mack as Harvest is glassed despite all their efforts including killing his own love interest.
  • "Human Weakness" from "Halo: Evolutions" is a long one for Cortana.
  • At the end of Silentium, Guilty Spark is listening to the final sounds of the galaxy as the Halo effect completes its work. The last thing he hears is a new civilization, undiscovered by Forerunners or Flood, sending out a first "Hello there!" to the galaxy... then even that is silenced. He doesn't know what they said, what they looked like, or what gifts they could have brought the galaxy. Just like that, an entire alien race is snuffed out; soon after, select portions of Spark's memory are erased. Now no one even knows they existed.
  • After the Ur-Didact composes the Librarian's human populations, she has a complete breakdown.
    Librarian: That's all he ever does- kill my children! Why? Why?
  • In that vein, nothing like watching a 10,000 year-old Happily Married relationship get sliced, diced, and torn to shreds. The fact that the Ur-Didact seems at least partially aware that he is going mad and doing all the heinous stuff that is driving his wife and species away makes it even worse.
  • The position Bornstellar finds himself in near the end of Silentium. Preparing to activate the Halos, a horrific solution, yet utterly necessary, to a catastrophe his race is nearly entirely at fault for, while transmissions stream in from around the galaxy from Forerunners, and perhaps others, pleading for a chance to be rescued and rejoin their brethren. In the end, he takes full responsibility for the murder of trillions across the galaxy, and it's no wonder why, in Cryptum, he remarks that if he'd known what was to come, he would have killed himself then and there.
  • Bittersweet tears in the "Rebirth" epilogue. Humans and Forerunners gather together as equals in mourning and celebration, and finally part ways in peace. Perhaps most touching, Bornstellar remarking that one day "Perhaps your children will make their way back, and I hope meet our children." It gives one hope that maybe humanity and Forerunners can exist together as brothers like they were meant to.]]
    Bornstellar: "Hope..."
  • Mortal Dictata - We get to see from the parents of one of the Spartans just how terrible it is to lose your child. Any parent will be in tears just thinking of how Naomi's parents must of felt when they couldn't find her and how she was acting so different when they did.
    • Naomi's family is just one big tearjerker. Her dad turns to terrorism to try and find out what exactly happened to his daughter, and her mom committed suicide because she felt responsible for Naomi's 'death'.
  • The Fall of Reach explained that the future Spartans were replaced with short-lived Flash Clones when they were taken. The animated adaptation takes the Fridge Horror of that situation and shows it to you: families having one of their children suddenly becoming listless and unresponsive, before finally dying. And no known reason why.

Soundtrack

  • The song "Dust and Echoes" in Combat Evolved, and its 3 counterpart "Wake Me When You Need Me".
  • The track "Black Tower", which features a tear-jerking choral version of the first movement of "High Charity Suite". This is the music played during Miranda's death scene.
  • The credits music of Halo 2, with its weeping Hawaiian-style guitar.
  • Never Forget. It's one of the most heart-wrenchingly beautiful songs ever composed, and conveys more emotion than words could ever hope to. And it fits the simple, peaceful main menu animation of Halo 3 so damn well...
  • 117 from Halo 4, that plays over the flying scene and in part over the post-credits cinematic, is so sad and heroic it's sob-inducing.
  • Green and Blue. The Chief and Cortana.
  • Ashes. It plays when Kat is killed, and it perfectly conveys that even though what we've seen previously were decisive human victories, we won't always win.

Other

  • Not from the games but the expanded background; spend some time on Halopedia reading about the fate of the Forerunners in the war against the Flood. It is, for the most part, heartbreaking stuff. Science fiction is littered with tales of massive interstellar wars with insane casualties on both sides. What makes this one stand out is that the ultimate victory that the good guys achieve is bought at the cost of their entire race. Only a few, relatively small chunks of their civilization and history are left behind, along with their legacy in the form of humanity.
  • As part of the ad campaign for Halo: Anniversary, 343 Industries created a short trailer for the "Living Monument". It's simple, but the speech therein that commemorates the monument, about the many costs and casualties of the Human-Covenant war and what's left in the aftermath, will almost certainly create a lasting, misty-eyed impression. Watch it here.
  • Dr Halsey had it just as rough as John-117. While her plan on kidnapping children and turn them into super soldiers is morally questionable, she nevertheless cared for them like their her own children. Plus she knew that most of them have died in combat, and even with her Mad Scientist streak, she still has parts of her humanity intact, and was totally pissed that ONI scapegoated her for the sake of their new Spartan tools, and denied information that John is alive. Worst yet is her crying in her sleep, with the knowledge of her dead biological daughter, Miranda Keyes.
  • The memorial to Dion Arroyo during the end credits of Halo 2. The brother of one of the artists, he died in a crash on September 11, 2003, so his brother wrote a simple little tribute. If that weren't enough, Dion was the first non-Bungie employee to play Halo 2, and has one marine based on him in the game.
  • Quite a fair bit of Halo Legends is this. Although Odd One Out is a screwball adventure, the Package is one awesome moment after another, and Origins is a concise, if somewhat inaccurate, summation of the history of the Halo universe, there are some moments where the tears threaten to leak.
    • Prototype: Detailing the hardships one Marine has to go through. He earned the callsign "Ghost" for a reason: his entire unit died, one of them in his arms. And after she died, all his did was howl. After he was evacced, he stopped feeling anything.
    • The Duel: Showing how the Arbiter became a mantle of shame, a tile reserved for Elites who had lost their honor, and sought to gain it back by embarking on suicide missions. Initially, it was once a title of honor, presumably equal to that of humanity's General rank. But the Arbiter of that era, Fal 'Chavamee, was conflicted, wondering what the Great Journey meant. Not to mention he had a wife, who knew of the dangers he embarked on every day, and took it in stride. But when political power steps in, Haka, 'Chavamee's rival, forces his best friend to kill his wife, and then kills his friend.
    • The Babysitter: A group of ODS Ts are sent to assassinate a prophet, and are accompanied by a Spartan, who takes the position of sniper, enraging O'Brian, the squad's sniper. After he gets into trouble on two occasions, the Spartan has to save him, humiliating him in the process. But when the Spartan sacrifices their life for O'Brian, it's revealed she's a woman. O'Brian takes the shot, completing the mission, but at the cost of their ally. And O'Brian is left reminiscing on all the times the Spartan saved his life, and not once did he thank her.
      • Further reflected in the attitudes of the ODS Ts when they return to their ship. Before the mission they had no problem exhibiting their hatred for Spartans, but when approached by a marine who saw fit to insult her efforts, they chew him out bigtime for it. Worse, it took this for them to see that the Spartans are still humans fighting the same brutal war they are.
      • Then there's the Spartan herself, who saved the team countless times and never once spoke out against the derision she received for it. As she lays dying, she pleads the commander to deliver their intel on the Covenant to Halsey. To which he defiantly responds that she was going to see that it gets delivered. Her response?
    Cal-141: We both know......That's not going to happen.
    • But by far, the one that takes the cake is Homecoming. Some Spartans try and escape the enhancements, and seek to return to their old lives. But when Daisy, one of the escapees, makes it home, she sees that she's already there. Or, at least, a clone is. After they talk, the clone gives her a teddy bear keychain as a memento, and Daisy returns to the Spartan academy, alongside Ralph, another escapee she bonds with. The other three escapees, on seeing their clones, committed suicide.
      • We learn soon after that all of the flash clones, including Daisy's, eventually died due to defects in the cloning process. Daisy's family, along with those of her many comrades, would never know the true fates of their children.
      • Years later, during a battlefield, en route to the evac zone, Daisy is critically wounded, and can only watch as the Covenant slaughter her comrades, and her best friend, Ralph.
      • The Master Chief himself finally finds her.....but all he can do is pay his respects to his fallen comrade, her still clutching her teddy bear keychain.

Alternative Title(s): Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3 ODST, Halo 4, Halo Combat Evolved, Halo 4 Forward Unto Dawn, Halo Wars, The Fall Of Reach, Ghosts Of Onyx

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