All spoilers on this page are unmarked, per wiki policy. You Have Been Warned!
"We are the Pilgrims, master; we shall go/ Always a little further: it may be/ Beyond the last blue mountain barred with snow, Across that angry or that glimmering sea,"
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
- In the final mission "Game Over", watching your entire squad gunned down one by one on the bridge by the Big Bad hits hard. Particularly when you realize that most of the people they've just saved will never, ever know the truth about what happened.
- And then there's Sgt. Jackson's pointless death in the middle of a nuclear wasteland.
- On the level "Aftermath", if you go to the playground you can hear ghost children. It's heartbreaking if you think about it for a second, ghost noises of kids, maybe some of Jackson's own kids, whispering after you are hit by a nuke, and what makes it worse is that you're the only survivor of the crash, then you die 120 seconds in. Also, while in Prypiat you can hear kids talking and teddy bears, considering that Prypiat was evacuated because of a nuclear problem.
- The Remastered Edition somehow takes a chilling scene and makes it even worse. You actually try to stop Volkner from flying out of the helicopter before he does so anyway. When you wake up after the crash, your hands are covered in radiation burns, and the game replaces the usual injury grunts with painful gasps of air for the rest of the time. If you fall out of the helicopter, it's even worse since you now get to see the rest of your squad slowly getting cooked by the radiation before dying. The pilot that you risked your life you save moments ago slowly dies in front of you anyway. Vasquez stumbles to the radiation cloud before collapsing and dying. All around, you hear the groans and moans of your team before you finally go yourself. Even almost 10 years later, this scene is still very impactful to new players and old.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
- The moment Shepherd reveals his betrayal rather violently to Roach and Ghost is utterly heartbreaking. To put it into perspective - after a harrowing siege of a household in the Caucasus mountains while waiting for Makarov's data to copy onto the DSM, you're then forced to GTFO and flee into the woods when it finishes. Just as soon as you start hearing about your evac chopper, Roach is wounded by mortar fire and is dragged by Ghost towards the landing helicopter. He then helps you to your feet as the doors open, revealing Shepherd, who steps out to meet you. As you limp along with Ghost, Shepherd approaches you and looks as though he's gonna put an arm around your shoulder and help your wounded ass inside. And then what happens? The screen flashes red and a bang sounds, indicating you've been shot, of course. Ghost cries "NO!" as Roach slowly begins to fall backwards, revealing Shepherd's drawn sidearm to be roughly leveled where Roach's abdomen would have been before he fell. Now as Roach collapses, you're treated to the sight of Ghost getting a bullet through the balaclava. The screen fades out briefly then shows you being picked up and swung like luggage into a small ditch by Shadow Company soldiers - followed by Ghost, who tumbles along just enough so his dead, masked and sunglasses-wearing face is staring right at you. The two of you are then doused in petrol by Shadow Company while Shepherd remorselessly looks on and when they're done, he tosses his cigar onto your body and walks away. All this is done from first-person perspective, indicating that Roach was still alive throughout all of this, cremation and all.
- And to further twist the knife as you're lying there you can hear Captain Price shouting desperately into the headset not to trust Shepherd, that you had been betrayed, knowing the warning had been only a minute too late.
- The Remastered version confirms our fears that Roach was still conscious after being shot by Shepherd when, as Shepherd takes the DSM from him, Roach grabs Shepherd's arm, as if asking why he's doing this, only for Shepherd to callously shove him off.
- If you listen closely during the background chatter during "Of Their Own Accord," you can hear a report from a pair of A-10 Warthogs who are being called in to destroy a group of T-72s attacking a building with a large number of civilians in it. They charge in and open fire, and get shot down by Russian anti-air weapons. The hammerblow comes right after, wherein the American spotters calling in the strafing run report that the A-10s had no effect, only one chute from the two downed A-10s was seen deploying (The other A-10 pilot did not have enough time to eject, being unable to see the incoming Apex missiles), and the T-72s are blowing up the building. Then Overlord comes on and tells the spotters to retreat, because they don't have any more aircraft, and can't do anything else to save those people.
- Hell, the music itself is incredibly emotional. In the bunker, as reports are coming in from the field that the Russians are taking more and more territory, and the body bags keep piling up, the music is very somber. When Sgt. Foley orders his Rangers to march out of the bunker, the music swells and tragically highlights what's going on: Washington D.C. is on fire, American soldiers are dying left and right, not just in defense of their country, but to make sure that the civilians they have been tasked with protecting can get out alive. Listen here.
- "No Russian." At the very least the player can go through the first section and let the NPCs murder innocent civilians in an airport. But then at the end, Makarov reveals he knew the player character was an American spy, shooting him as he is about to get in the getaway vehicle, effectively pinning the whole previous massacre on the US and inciting the events of the game.
- It gets even worse once you learn the true extent of General Shepherd's involvement in the plot in "Endgame". Shepherd intended all along to trigger a war between America and Russia, and used PFC Allen and threw him away like a cheap piece of toilet paper. All the poor guy did was what his "country" asked of him, and for it he got a bullet in the head and the blame for starting a world war.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
- The intro itself is a Downer Beginning compared to the previous two games. Price reminds the viewer that Shepherd created a war, hes remembered as a war hero, while the rest of Task Force 141 are branded war criminals.
- In "Turbulence", you play as a Russian agent required to secure the Russian president and his daughter, after their airplane goes down with you on it. The evac helicopter touches down next to you, and you're the one who has to open the door. You do so...and none other than Makarov is standing in the helo. With a pistol pointed at you. And you go down in a spray of blood, and as your vision fades, you see Makarov threatening the President. You go for a gun, but Makarov sees you, and shoots you in the head.
- In "Bag and Drag", you can see the bodies of dead Parisians everywhere. The mission starts with you entering an apartment where an entire family is dead. Just as you touch down, radio chatter from a fellow Army unit can be heard desperately begging for decontamination and medevac units for civilians in the Louvre. Overlord denies this request; with all the fighting, he has no birds to spare for evac. All they can do is triage the civilians and move upwind.
Grinch: 595 sounds like they got hit hard. A lot of rooks in that unit.
Sandman: No one's a rook today.
- The collapse of the Eiffel Tower, made all the more impactful by the mournful music which accompanies it. Worse, it only collapses because air support had to bomb the area in order to prevent you and your team from being overwhelmed by Russian forces. To see one of the most iconic and historically significant landmarks in the world be destroyed just so your team can survive what is ultimately a rather senseless war between NATO and Russia really does give a feeling of the overall scope and tragedy of the conflict.
- The fate of the Czech people as seen in "Eye of the Storm" and "Blood Brothers". Think about it; they overcame decades of Soviet oppression, including the Warsaw Pact invasion in '68, and barely managed to come out okay in the end. Then, long after the fall of the USSR, Makarov comes along and launches his invasion of Europe, which manages to brutalise the Czechs worse in a few days than the whole damn Soviet occupation did the first time around. It's not hard to imagine being an older citizen and breaking down in tears at the sight of a Soviet banner once again flying over Prague. This, coupled with the more obvious sights of the Ultranationalists brutally murdering civilians left and right in the Prague missions, really makes you feel for the Resistance.
- The "Blood Brothers" mission is a Wham Episode combined with a massive Tear Jerker. First, Makarov reveals Kamarov strapped to a chair with C4 on him, and knows you're there. He then tries to kill Soap, Price, and Yuri by detonating said C4, killing Kamarov in the process. They all make it, but Soap's bleeding out. When they finally get Soap to safety, he tells Price that Makarov knows Yuri before dying. Price's anguished screams are heartbreaking enough, but it's when Price sets down the pistol Soap returned to him that the tears really start coming.
Price: ...I'm sorry.
- It's worth noting this is the only time we see Price, The Stoic Shell-Shocked Veteran of the previous war, act this emotional. Makes that stab in the feels hit even harder.
- In case you had any doubt about the Undying Loyalty the two had for each other, the very next scene is Price punching Yuri down a flight of stairs, following by holding a gun to his head. You can tell he's just barely holding himself back from pulling the trigger.
you. I thought I could, too. [readies his handgun]
in the bloody hell—[Suddenly Shouting]
—DOES MAKAROV KNOW YOU?!
- The background music doesn't help. It's slow tempo after you put Soap on a table then becomes really slow after Soap dies.
- "Objective: Stop the Massacre." The massacre in question? The "No Russian" airport massacre mentioned above.
- The intro for the next level, "Stronghold", isn't much better:
Price: [in narrative] There's a clocktower in Hereford where the names of the dead are inscribed. We try to honor their deeds even as their faces fade from our memory. Those memories are all that's left when the bastards have taken everything else.
Baseplatenote : What happened?
Price: He killed Soap. He's gone, Mac.
Baseplate: What do you need from me, son?
- Plus, Price's bitterness at Yuri throughout the mission. The first thing he says to you as the mission starts is to keep up because he won't come back to help you. And if you're caught by the patrolling guards at the beginning, he says then next time, he won't help you. To him, Yuri's just dead weight, and if he dies... well, at least Soap will rest a bit easier, as far as Price's concerned.
- The game just seems to churn out these kinds of moments one right after another post-"Blood Brothers". The next one comes at the end of "Down the Rabbit Hole"; after undertaking great pains to infiltrate the Siberian diamond mine and rescue President Vorshevsky and his daughter, the joint TF141-Delta Force unit finds itself pinned down by a huge contingent of enemy forces just as their rescue chopper arrives. The mine has become unstable, and it becomes clear that if they don't get the hell out of there now, no one will make it...so, Sandman, Truck, and Grinch decide to stay behind and hold off the enemy while Price, Yuri, and the others escape. Yuri, injured, can only watch helplessly as he's dragged back to the helo, while they gradually run out of ammo, taking glancing hits and striking back with their sidearms and knives as Makarov's men slowly overtake them. Finally, the helicopter takes off, and an anguished Price screams Sandman's name into his radio as they fly away, having just watched one of his last living friends die mere hours after they reunited.
Sandman: Price, you gotta go! Make sure the president gets out!
- "Dust to Dust". Pretty much half the reason they storm the damn place is revenge for Soap, as well as going after Makarov. Then Yuri pulls a Heroic Sacrifice and Makarov KILLS him in two shots. Just as Price (and the player) were beginning to trust him again.
- Still, it DOES save Price's life and lets you beat the absolute shit out of Makarov.
- The intro to "Dust to Dust" has a Tear Jerker even in its Moment of Awesome and Heartwarming. The "DISAVOWED" ribbon on the Task Force 141 emblem is removed, leaving the unblemished seal of badass. Too bad Soap and other dead TF141 members couldn't have lived to see it.
- The ending credits theme of Modern Warfare 3. It really does feel like a farewell song. Farewell to Vasquez, Jackson, Griggs, Gaz, Soap, Yuri, Sandman, Truck, Grinch, and all those brave heroic soldiers who have died in the entire Modern Warfare trilogy.