- Before she and Jor-El launch Kal-El into space, Lara laments that they will never see him walk or hear him say their names.
- The destruction of Krypton; we all knew it was coming. But in this version, Jor-El dies and Lara is alone, just watching the destruction.
- Not to mention, Kelor suggests that Lara find some place of refuge, and she just numbly says that there's nowhere left to take refuge in, and they truly have reached the end.
- Zod and his followers' reaction to the destruction of their homeworld after they're freed from the Phantom Zone. Even the otherwise completely stoic Faora can't hold back tears.
- After 13-year-old Clark learns he's an extraterrestrial (taken from Superman: Secret Origin):Jonathan: You are my son. [they hug]
- The death of Jonathan Kent, which Clark feels he failed to stop. To make things worse, Jonathan refused to be saved, believing Clark should keep his powers hidden.
- And just before this, Clark has an argument with Jonathan and unintentionally disowns his adoptive parents by reminding them they aren't his real mom and dad. Jonathan promptly agrees but is interrupted by the tornado before he can make his point. There's no time for reconciliation, which makes Clark's guilt much more potent. And it isn't until near the end of the movie when he learns he hadn't let his human father down. Clark's probably thinking that he did in the sixteen years since Jonathan's death.
- Beautifully lampshaded when Clark finishes telling Lois what happened...and we see her fighting tears.
- Clark is talking to a priest about whether or not to turn himself in. Right behind him is a stained glass window, showing Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. The symbolism is far from subtle, but also excellently done.
- After Jor-El helps Lois escape Zod's ship, he bids her farewell, saying they will probably never meet again. He's right; Zod seemingly deletes his program from the scout ship's systems.
- It's what Zod says before he does so that clinches it, telling Jor-El that he'll kill Kal-El.Zod: Tell me—you have Jor-El's memories; his conscience. Can you experience his pain? I will harvest the Codex from your son's corpse, and I will rebuild Krypton atop his bones. [deletes Jor-El]
- It's what Zod says before he does so that clinches it, telling Jor-El that he'll kill Kal-El.
- Superman visiting Martha to make sure she's alright after Zod's attack on the Kent Farm in search of the Codex. He's just so tense while waiting for a response or lack thereof◊, that you have to truly feel sorry for him.
- Jenny trapped under rubble as the World Engine beam gets closer and closer. She is completely terrified and, despite trying their best to get her out, it rapidly becomes clear that there is nothing Perry and Steve Lombard can do.
- And then when it looks as if their time has finally ran out, they refuse to run and leave her, with Perry taking her hand and waiting for the end to come.
- Zod's Villainous Breakdown, showing us that he truly cared for Krypton.Zod: [to Superman; holds out ash in his hand] Look at this. We could have built a new Krypton in this squalor...but you choose the humans over us. I exist only to protect Krypton. That is the sole purpose for which I was born. And every action I take, no matter how violent or how cruel, is for the greater good of my people. And now, I have no people.My soul... That. Is what you. Have taken! FROM ME!
- Despite being the villain, there are many reasons to pity Zod. His ranting makes it clear he just wants to be the protector of his race he was literally born to be (since it is the only way he knows how to define himself) despite his narcissism and dogmatic Social Darwinist mindset blinding him to his own monstrosity. He just wants to preserve what, to him, is the last legacy of Krypton and her people, a legacy which, in his mind, Superman has cruelly destroyed. Despair drives him to madness, and his hateful attempts to pointlessly and spitefully kill just a few humans when Superman obviously has his number in their battle to the death comes across as Zod begging Superman to end his life.
- At the end of the final battle, Superman has Zod in a headlock, but Zod fires heat vision at a nearby family that cowers from the advancing heat beams. With no choice, Superman kills Zod. His cry of anguish shows he has never done that before and really didn't want to. This hits VERY, VERY hard if you're not a fan of that.
- It's essentially the same reaction he had to letting Jonathan die.
- And right before he does it, you can just see the realization of what he has to do dawn on him. Simultaneous Fridge Horror for viewers who connect the dots at the exact same moment.
- Word of God confirms that Clark/Superman is so traumatized by this, it becomes a self-imposed rule that he doesn't kill.
- Clark spent most of his life looking for a purpose and connection to his people. He was overjoyed in the scout ship after talking to Jor-El, and when he destroys the ship and thus the chance to revive the Kryptonian race, you can see the pain on his face as he does it. When he snaps Zod's neck, thus removing the last living trace of his people from his life, the pain is even worse than just the horror of killing someone.
- The poor souls taken in the crossfire of the World Engine might be this to some.
Tear Jerker / Man of Steel
WARNING: Spoilers are unmarked.