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Tear Jerker / Middle-earth: Shadow of War

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Forgey Forever

  • Monolith executive producer Mike Forgey passed away from a rare cancer (glioblastoma) in 2016, after the developer had organized a #ForForgey donation drive to help him. In his honor, a new DLC will be released for Shadow of War focusing around a Mysterious Stranger named Forthog, which was Forgey's nickname. 75% of the funds go to his family — and the trailer for the DLC is stirring and sad.
    • During the credits after the Golden Ending, the Forthog video plays again — this time with intercut with photos of Forgey from young childhood to teenager strumming a guitar to the man he was when Shadow of Mordor was released. It closes with the epitaph FORGEY FOREVER.
  • Forgey wasn't the only In Memoriam in the game. After the Golden Ending, the game gives an "In Memory Of Beth Ann Allen". She was the wife of Monolith's game data analyst Kris Havlak. She passed away at the tender age of 33. Her obituary can be found here.
    Beth Ann and Kris quickly discovered they shared an innate sense of silliness, a love of LEGOs and a passion for computer games.
  • Mixed with a healthy dose of Nightmare Fuel is the identity and revealed fate of one of the Kings of Men who became one of the Ringwraiths. The cutscene at the end of a mission to hunt one of the Nazgûl reveals the creature Talion has been hunting was once Helm Hammerhand, a legendary king of Rohan (namesake of the fortress Helm's Deep). Fatally injured in an ambush orchestrated by Siric, the prince of the neighbouring kingdom of Dunland, angered by Helm's refusal to wed his daughter to the prince to form an alliance, Sauron (in the form of Annatar) and Celebrimbor came to Helm on his deathbed and gave him one of the Rings of Power, Sauron promising Helm it would grant him the power to ensure his daughter's safe return. Healed by the Ring, Helm and his army stormed Dunland; his daughter and her new husband tried to reason with Helm to prevent him starting war between Rohan and Dunland, but Helm, his rage, bloodlust and desire for revenge presumably exacerbated by the ring's corruption, refused to listen, and when his daughter tried to put herself between her father and her husband, Helm killed her without a second thought, only realising what had happened afterwards. For a moment, he could only stare in horror at the reflection of himself in the spreading pool of his daughter's blood, but then the Ring presumably fueled his blood-lust with grief, to the point where Helm slaughtered everyone else in the room, including Siric and even Rohirrim captains who tried to stop him.
    Celebrimbor: Of all the Nazgûl, his fall was most tragic.
    • Even worse, this event was likely the catalyst for the centuries-long blood-feud between Dunland and Rohan, which ultimately resulted in Dunland's participation in the Battle of Helm's Deep. If it weren't for Sauron's influence, Dunland and Rohan might have been allies that whole time - at least in this particular timeline - sparing countless innocents on both sides.
  • Talion is forced to relive his wife and son's death. When he recalls the "sneak up with flowers" with his wife, Ioreth's spirit tells him none of it is real, and she is dead as blood pours down her front from her throat. His desperate pleading for her not to leave him again is truly heartbreaking as he desperately tries to reach out to Ioreth even as she fades away.
    Ioreth: The past is the past, nothing can be changed...You're too late. I'm already dead.
    Talion: [falling to his knees, sounding close to tears] No,!
  • Mixed with Nightmare Fuel; Idril's scream of horror when the Witch King kills Castamir. Even if he was plotting treason with the Lord of the Nazgûl in a doomed bid to save Idril's life, she's still just seen her father, the only family she had left, brutally murdered in front of her.
  • It's pretty obvious that Talion is torn up when Celebrimbor AND Eltariel screw him over. He's basically been betrayed by his brother, and a "servant of the Light" helped.
    • It's already bad but had you collected Gondorian artifacts where Talion and Clebrimbor had friendly conversations over most of them it's heartbreaking to see Celebrimbor so cold he betrays the closest thing he had to a friend. Worse, when you collect the artifacts after the betrayal, the silence is deafening after Idril's narration. There's no longer any commentary on them.
    • Imagine this from Talion's viewpoint: You could finally die and join your family, but with the knowledge that you allowed a monster worse than Sauron to rise to power and that your actions doomed Middle-earth. Your other option is to take one of the rings, allowing you to atone for your mistakes and protect Middle-earth but inevitably become a slave to another monster and lose your possibly only chance to ever see your family again.
    • To twist the knife even further, Celebrimbor just watches Talion choke on the ground before vanishing from Talion's view and "life". No apology, no "Thank You", not even a comforting reminder that at least Talion can finally join his family. He just stares at his struggles to stay alive and leaves without a word.
    • The game after this point has a somber feel to it. Talion, for the first time in a long time, is truly alone, and you can practically feel him fight the darkness throughout the entire chapter. At that point, his "life" consists of a repeating cycle of violence which he refuses to let go of, since he knows that if (or even when) he lets himself be distracted, he could finally lose it and never see his family ever again. The Blade of Galadriel implies he has some friends in his army, but considering that most of said army likely wasn't given a choice in joining his side, even those relationships feel artificial.
    • Talion doesn't talk much after Celebrimbor is gone, but one of the phrases he says when appearing on a Haedir Tower is a comment on how, despite Celebrimbor going mad with power, he still misses him.
      Talion: Celebrimbor's lust for power clouded his vision, and yet I miss him. No war should be fought alone.
  • The overwhelming tragedy of Talion's story spread across both games becomes all the more heartbreaking when one considers the fact that his story will never be known throughout Middle-Earth, unlike Frodo, Sam, Aragorn, or Gandalf. He sacrificed his whole being, his morality, and in the end his very soul, all to keep Sauron chained long enough for the One Ring to be destroyed, and at best, all there will be to remember him by is a memorial honoring the fallen Rangers of the Black Gate, with no one knowing the true story behind his incredible sacrifice for Middle-Earth.
  • The first time you use Shaming is against Brûz for double-crossing you. When the deed is done you get to see him curled up on the ground, reduced to a broken, sobbing, and mumbling shell of himself. Ranger will even call you on what you did to him. And the worst part is Brûz will never recover from it.
    • Even worse is what lead to it. Brûz gets into an argument with Ratbag when you seize the first fort, and Celebrimbor and Talion get so exasperated he denies them both the Overlord spot afterwards. This causes Brûz to become The Resenter, and his arguments with Talion escalate to the point he literally stabs him in the back. One petty moment led Brûz down a path of destruction of himself, and locked the player out of a lasting partnership with the most charismatic and bombastic Ensemble Dark Horse of the game.
    • And for an added level of Player Punch. You can encounter Brûz again as a generic Captain. You can fight him to either kill him or break him again, but he has the "Death Defying" trait. When you're about to execute him, he'll go into the execution stance and shout "it's your fort!" Between his anguish, his accent, and the likely guilt you'll be feeling at the moment, it can sound more like he's saying "it's your fault!"
    • After you have Shamed him, his blood brothers will come after you to avenge him. If you decide to shame them too to the point they become deranged, Baz will have a similar Madness Mantra about "Brûz will be fine", while Gaz will suffer Loss of Identity and think himself as Brûz.
    • And as one final indignity, depending on what order you do the various quests, its entirely possibly for Bruz to be one of the Captains raised as a mindless undead soldier during the final confrontation with Zog.
  • Shelob's Back Story. She was in a loving relationship with Sauron (in his Annatar guise), until he betrayed her to save his own skin. It's strongly implied that she just wanted to be normal, but when surrounded by soldiers, she decided I Am a Monster and killed all those around her. When she meets Talion, it's obvious she wants to be a woman again, but will Never Be Hurt Again.
  • On occasion, when you defeat an Uruk that betrays you, it will express regret for having done so when they are about to be executed. Really, it's the sad look on their face before the end that will get you.
    Should have known better than to betray you...boss.
  • Similarily, losing an orc you were genuinely fond of. Especially if they bled to death and you were unable to save them because an enemy kept interrupting you, or when the game rarely skips the "bleeding" phase altogether; The game treats you with a cutscene of, for example, your follower being impaled from behind. Then you just have to hope they come back from the dead without betraying you. (Unless they lost their head, of course) While Act IV allows you to resurrect them, Undead captains lose their personality and it's implied to be A Fate Worse Than Death so rising them doesn't really bring them back and feels disrespectful.
    • And of course, the fact that there's always the chance that they betray you if they do come back. Especially bad if you managed to keep them alive through the entire game; at that point you won't want to kill or shame them. If they have Iron will, there's no way to deal with them without risking permanent damage.
  • One of the artifacts Talion finds is an old orc sword. Idril's narration says Orcs resided in Mordor long before even Sauron — and wonders what the Orcs could be if they were a free people away from Sauron's influence.
  • An Orc becoming Deranged can sometimes become this, with the Orc reduced to a permanent near bawling state. Especially heartbreaking if this Orc was a former ally who betrayed the player or a Worthy Opponent.
    • Even worse, if an Orc gets shamed repeatedly without going insane he might start to complain how everyone is mocking him now, shame him again and he will yell at you how it's gotten even worse with the mocking and insulting, and went from hating for shaming him to just begging you to just end him because he can't take it anymore. See for yourself.
    • The results of shaming are largely randomized and there are several variations of what can happen to any orc. Firstly, there is the Deranged or Maniac branch, then the game permanently changes the orc's lines to, for example, screaming, moaning, gibberish, laughing etc, or changes them to actual lines they repeat over and over again. The latter is arguably worse. Depending on which kind of "dialogue" the game gives the orc, their posture may also change to either them looking nervously everywhere around them, or pathetically hanging their head down and occasionally shrugging. A former ally who taunted your enemies on the battlefield can become a depressed wreck who yells "I tried! Don't you think I tried?!" while practically crying.
    • Orcs that return from death with a Legendary Scar (the kind that changes his title and dialogue) can still be shamed into maddened wrecks. So an orc that recovers from being severely burned and ambushes you as "the Flame of War" can be shamed into "the Ruined," losing all the honour from his greatest triumph.
  • You can kick out any Orc out of your army if you ever feel like it. Some Orcs however will call you out on it stating that they would've been loyal to you till the end and you just kicked them out like a disposable henchmen. They probably feel the same way you might feel when an Uruk betrays you.
  • This bit of dialogue between Talion and Celebrimbor is quite tragic too:
    Talion: Do you ever think of your family, Celebrimbor? Of the life you once had?
    Celebrimbor: There was a time when I thought of them every day...That was a long time ago.
    • Also another exchange between Talion and Celebrimbor:
    Celebrimbor: That time has passed, Talion. Our work is not yet finished.

The Blade of Galadriel

Desolation of Mordor

  • If you return to Lithlad as Talion (or worse, as Baranor using the skin), Torvin's gone. Talion never got to say goodbye.
  • While the other regions have 4 Shadows of the Past missions (Minas Ithil/Morgul has 5), there are 6 in Lithlad; implying that Lithlad might have been a valuable asset when Celebrimbor challenged Sauron centuries ago. When Talion reaches it, Celebrimbor mentions that the land is so dead and useless they don't need it to challenge Sauron. The ruins and implied former tactical importance imply that the land has seen some better times, unlike the abandoned desert full of orcs it is when our heroes reach it.