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Hunter Exam and Zoldyck Family Arcs
- When we're first introduced to Leorio, the audience was made to believe that he was just some greedy punk because his motivation to being a hunter was money. However, at the beginning of the Hunter's Exam, Kurapika learns that he wants the money to be a doctor and run a free clinic after a close friend of his died at a young age from an illness which they needed money to pay for the operation to save said friend. It makes his Funny Moments where he rants about wanting money Harsher in Hindsight.
- The 2011 anime gives a flashback that shows Leorio lived in poverty and he was playing with his friend before he fell and died with Leorio running to his friend and cradling his body.
- The 1999 version expands on his past by showing in his hallucinations his reaction when said friend died. Leorio is on his knees saying sorry to said friend, and his friend is basically egging him to kill himself out of guilt. Good thing that his friends were able to snap him out of it.
- In the 1999 version of the airship ride to the third phase of the exam the main cast meet one of the applicants a girl named Anita who seeks revenge on the Zoldycks for assassinating her father, believing that Killua was the one who did it. After arriving to Trick Tower it’s revealed that her father built his fortune sealing highly addictive drugs and ruining lives. The poor girl breaks down and not even Gon's words could comfort her grief.
- During the arc where Gon goes to the Zoldyck household, the Battle Butler Canary stops them from progressing any further. Gon attempts to get over the line she sets, but she effortlessly knocks him away with her cane. He keeps getting knocked back over and over and over again, just to make it through, and she's having none of it. By the time sunset hits, she actually worries about his health and questions why he'd be stupid enough to keep crawling to the gates when he just won't pass, and all Gon answers with is the fact that Killua is his friend. Just when we think that she's going to have a change of heart and let him pass... Luckily, she survived the whole thing.Canary: "Please, save Master Kill- *BANG*
Yorknew City Arc
- 1999 anime. After Kurapika kills Uvogin, he falls to his knees and holds his head in horror. The next time we see him, he goes to his hotel room, and starts to slowly chant the Kurta prayer, traumatized. Poor guy.
- Squala's death at the hands of the spiders. Considering the implications of Pakunoda's power, his girlfriend was the last thing he thought of, especially when he assumed they threatened her. Gon was not wrong about calling out their Moral Myopia.Squala: IF YOU LAY ONE FINGER ON ELI-
Nobunaga: I kept telling you not to move...
- And this only happened because Nobunaga had an itchy hand on his katana and Squala made a sudden movement out of unrestrained anger... which caused Nobunaga to react out of instinct and Squala's head to roll. He was also preparing to quit the business of being a bodyguard out of fear it was going to kill him today, which it did.
- The 1999 anime gives us the scene of Squala's dogs gathered to sadly watch their master's dead body being carried away by an ambulance.
- Pakunoda's actions towards the end of the 1999 anime, finishing with her Anti-Villainous Sacrifice in which she transfers her memories to her fellow Spider members, knowing full well that it will kill her thanks to Kurapika's Restraining Bolt on her.
Chimera Ant Arc
- Kite's death in the Chimera Ant arc, made even worse by Gon's complete denial of the possibility of his death, especially when it was obvious from the get-go Kite had long since died and had been turned into a puppet by Pitou. The audience is painfully aware of this which makes Gon's complete breakdown at the Awful Truth all the more tragic. Later on, he's technically revived as a Chimera Ant, but the person himself is still dead.
- In a strange way, the Ant Queen's Death by Childbirth. It's immediately clear that despite the circumstances and the fact that most of her internal organs had been crushed during Meruem's premature birth, she still wishes him all the best and tells Colt to deliver him his name.
- After being defeated by Knuckle and Shoot despite all the training they did to earn the chance to enter NGL, Gon can only beg Knuckle to save Kite in his stead. He breaks down and cries in frustration on how it feels to be weak after they leave, with Killua crying beside him and vowing to protect him while he's Nen-less for 30 days.Gon: "I never knew how frustrating weakness can be"
- Gon's reaction when he sees Kite's state after staying positive that Kite is still alive a few days ago. He let himself be punched around like a rag toy while suppressing his instincts to dodge as Killua, who is the only one aware of Gon's dilemma, comments that he doesn't know what to do in the situation they've created. Gon even thinks that the punch Kite gave him when he was younger was harder than the robotic movements he's enduring at the moment. This is also the moment where Gon's rage against Pitou manifests and his mental state starts to spiral down.
- Knov's breakdown at the hands of Pouf’s aura is extremely depressing. After completing his high-stakes mission, Knov breaks down from the stress of just seeing Pouf's aura. Bear in mind, Knov is an experienced hunter just like his colleague Morel, but despite this, he still suffers immensely and is left traumatized from the experience. This is likely due to him using Zetsu, and thus being exposed to the entirety of Pouf’s aura with no protection, akin to what happened with Gon and Killua when they were confronted with Hisoka's murderous intent in the Heaven's Arena. He even goes bald from the stress of it all. This makes his return to the palace to help the Extermination Team out of a desire to aid his comrades and pupil all the more awesome.
- Gyro's tragic backstory, how the only solace he had in his miserable life was the idea that deep down his father cared about and needed him, and how he completely broke when he found out both were false, and the resolve it inspired in him to make the rest of the world suffer. In spite of it having no payoff in the arc it's featured in and even in the greater story as of this writing (though it's flat out said that he and Gon will meet eventually, suggesting that he's a Chekhov's Gunman) it is frequently considered to be heartbreaking and a highlight of the arc's storytelling.
- Chapters 274-275. "Killua. I'm doing the talking here." In a particularly heartbreaking case of O.O.C. Is Serious Business, Gon brusquely tells Killua not to interfere while he's dealing with Pitou, and says it must be nice for Killua to remain so calm... "since this is of no concern to you". This is the same Killua who not very long ago had just managed to break free from Illumi's control for Gon's sake, and who had spent all this time at Gon's (his first and best friend) side; however (or because of it), those words are enough to break him. After Pitou manages to make a deal with Gon, Killua simply leaves the room without a word.
- Killua's absolute breakdown at the feet of the newly transformed Palm. He's practically begging on his hands and knees for Palm to help and go see his friend (though he himself was half-serious about that). His broken, anguished screaming as he's doing it doesn't help either.
- The events of chapters 304-307. Seeing the Kid Hero break and give in to rage and despair is heart-wrenching.
- What's worse is that after going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, he's completely broken both physically and mentally. In fact, he was nearly on his deathbed after fighting Pitou.
- Gon's self-loathing in his own supposed "part" in Kite's death by not being able to help him drives him to sacrifice his body through his forced Nen evolution. In fact, it's implied Gon willingly accepted this in part because of what it will do to him. He feels that, after Pitou, he needs to punish himself; you can hear it in the words he says after Pitou's corpse severs his arm in a last-ditch effort to kill him.Gon: It's ok. It doesn't hurt. I'm not trying to sound tough... I actually feel I've redeemed some.
- The easiest way to describe this fight is "no one wins". Despite Gon literally punching Pitou to a pulp, the incredibly high cost to do so is downright horrific.
- And meanwhile, Killua (who only manages to arrive after Pitou is already dead) can barely do more than watch in despair while all of this happens. Including when Pitou's body attacks again, and Killua pushes Gon out of the way, but Gon's arm still gets sliced off in the process... only for Gon to remain unnaturally calm about it, implying that he's become a Death Seeker. Killua has to watch his best friend break and almost die, and the only thing he can do is shout at him to stop.
- The Chimera Ant King's death, especially with the pure black panels fitting his dying dialogue, which makes his death even sadder. It's almost a Japanese When the Wind Blows.
- The 2011 anime portrayal is pure heartache. it's straight blackness as you hear him and Komugi play, all the while Meruem continues to ask is she's still there. It's only after he asks her to hold his hand as he passes that you realize you are seeing things from Komugi's perspective. The faint light that appears floating around the screen is actually what Komugi is able to see by touching Meruem. The entire image shows up once she finds his hand and it's heart-breaking: him lying down, his head on her lap and her eyes closed, dried blood coming from her mouth and nose.
13th Election Arc
- Alluka's Split Personality Nanika spends most of the time giving Alluka her Creepy Child cred. Then, after it's revealed that Nanika likes Killua enough to do whatever he says without any of the wish restrictions as long as it's a direct order, Killua tries to seal Alluka's power away by ordering Nanika to never come out again. Cue the creepy, blank-eyed Nanika breaking down and crying until she complies, and then Alluka angrily chastises Killua for making her cry until he agrees to take it back. The 2011 anime version of the scene is even worse, with the sad piano music and Killua on the verge of tears as he tells Nanika to never come out again, even as Nanika says she loves Killua and just wants him to praise her. Nanika's expression slowly changes to one of dejection and her eyes turn into distorted grey spirals as she lets out an anguished and heartbroken "'Kay...". The entire scene is framed like Nanika is an adopted baby animal who is being released and told to go away forever by its only friend.
- The ending of the 2011 anime is for the most part pretty upbeat. The audience sees a montage of everyone moving on and continuing their lives. Then we see Kurapika who has completely isolated himself and cut off contact with any of his friends, holding a private funeral for his lost clansmen.
- The final ending for the 2011 anime homes this in. It's a heartwarming montage of where most the cast are now. Most shots in the montage range from being happy to bittersweet, the sole exception being the shot focused on Kurapika, who is still in a room staring at the eyes of his fallen clan. The final shots are of the main characters looking at the sun: Gon in amazement, Leorio sleeping on a desk, Killua with his sister... and a weary Kurapika in an alley.
- He seems to be improving somewhat as of the Dark Continent arc, since he's willing to put aside his quest for the scarlet eyes in order to protect Queen Oito and her infant daughter Prince Woble. He even talks to Leorio, who gives him an earful for not calling in so long.
Dark Continent and Succession War Arcs
- Chapter 368: Prince(ss) Momoze's death. It only occurred because her mother had her guards moved to protect her son (with heavy hints that she didn't like her own daughter) and her Nen Beast exhausted her, so she couldn't even defend herself. Hanzo is heartbroken because he felt he could have saved her and Queen Oito had to watch as someone else's daughter died, a feeling she has to live in fear of happening to her own.
- Chapter 383: Princess Kacho's death. Melody and her bodyguard come up with a plan to get them off the ship and it seems to succeed, only for a bunch of hands to come out with the intention of killing them both. She forces Fugetsu into the wormhole and back into the ship in order to save her, but dies shutting the door with her corpse left in the sub. Not only that, but the bodyguard shoots himself in the head to let them escape only for it to be for nothing. Not to mention that her sister has no idea that she even died since their nen beast took her place.
- The final panels of the special chapters. If the entire annihilation of a clan wasn't enough alone, the horrible manner in which the Kurta were massacred is absolutely heartwrenching. Families were forced to sit, facing each other, as they were stabbed and beheaded one by one. Pure-blood members of the Clan had their eyes gouged out. Children, wives, and husbands were tortured in front of their beloveds to illicit feelings of despair and rage from their victims in order to turn their eyes an even more startling shade of scarlet. This was the destruction of an entirely innocent race of people, at the hands of monsters.
- Which makes Kurapika's quest for vengeance and Gon's outrage over the Phantom Troupe murdering people, even when they know full well how much it hurts to lose someone they care about, even more understandable and poignant. It also serves as a reminder that even though they have a tragic backstory of their own the Spiders are still a bunch of heartless, evil murderers when it all comes down to it, and there's no excuse for the horrible things they've done.
- Speaking of the special chapters, the sheer contrast between the child Kurapika used to be (not at all unlike Gon) and the person he is now, also serves to drive home just how much of an impact the massacre has had on his life and his mental state, and how much he has lost from there. His return in the Zodiac arc a few chapters later doesn't help things. He has become extremely hostile and shut himself from his friends and everything, going from eagerly reading and dreaming about the outside to practically isolating himself in a dark room with the Scarlet Eyes he has collected, completely focused on his mission. Maybe, if the Kurta massacre had never happened and this was a different story, Kurapika could have easily been the hero of a more typical Shonen story. Instead, his revenge has become his only purpose and consumed everything in his life. It seems he has completely abandoned the promise he made to Pairo, which is deeply depressing.Kurapika: (reflecting) Pairo... It looks like my journey is finally ending. But, where will it take me? People to greet me or welcome me, or a place to come back to... I don't have anything like that at all.