Outlander is full of these. Here are just a few.
- Geillis's sacrifice (at least, until after the second book). She gives up her life to save Claire's, and is sentenced to death at the stake. Because she is pregnant, she isn't burnt straight away, but is forced to spend months in the thieves' hole while she waits for the baby to be born. After the baby is born, it's off to the stake and burning for her.
- Jamie's PTSD after he is raped and tortured by Randall. A few parts of it:
- Jamie breaking down in MacRannoch's house when telling Claire bits of what Randall did to him, and especially Claire's distress at seeing him so broken.
- Jamie waking up from a nightmare triggered by the scent of lavender in his bedchamber in the abbey.
- Jamie ordering Claire to return to the 20th century and leave him to die, because he thinks he's not worthy of being her husband anymore. His line 'So help me God, I cannot bear to touch you!' is extremely painful to read.
- Then we have the scene in the abbey when Jamie's receiving last rites from his uncle.
- Everything that happens when Claire performs her 'ransoming' of Jamie's soul. From Jamie screaming when Claire is grasping his buttock to his complete breakdown in her arms like a child at the very end of it.
Dragonfly in Amber
- Claire strokes Brianna's head while Brianna sleeps, and sees Brianna smile just like Jamie used to.
- Claire's reaction at seeing Jamie's grave.
- Faith's death, and Jamie and Claire's reactions to it. The corresponding episode of the television series is equally heart-wrenching.
- Rupert's death. It has Dougal of all people breaking down into tears, weeping with abandon.
- Hugh Munro's death. What makes it worse that he was killed by the Duke while helping Jamie rescue Claire. If he had not been there at the time it would never have happened.
- Jamie's grief over hearing that all the horses except Donas had been eaten by the Jacobite soldiers at Culloden House. It has to be read in its entirety to really be understood.
- Jamie covered his face in his hands and stood shaking against the boards of the empty stall."I am a fool," he said at last, gasping to recover his breath. "Oh, God, I am a fool." He dropped his hands, showing his face, tears streaking through the grime of travel. He dashed the back of his hand across his cheek, but the moisture continued to overflow from his eyes, as though it were a process quite out of his control."The cause is lost, my men are being taken to slaughter, there are dead men rotting in the wood and I am weeping for a horse! Oh, God," he whispered, shaking his head. "I am a fool."
- Jamie and Claire's last night together before the battle of Culloden.
- Especially this line:"I will find you. I promise. If I must endure two hundred years of purgatory, two hundred years without youthen that is my punishment, which I have earned for my crimes. For I have lied, and killed, and stolen; betrayed and broken trust. But there is the one thing that shall lie in the balance. When I shall stand before God, I shall have one thing to say, to weigh against the rest.Lord, ye gave me a rare woman, and God! I loved her well."
- Jamie's emotional state during all this is particularly sad to think of, given that he's about to give up his wife and unborn baby so that they can be safe, and then turn back to the battle to die there so that he won't have to face a gruesome traitor's death in the Tower of London. He can barely keep himself together the whole time he's taking Claire to Craigh Na Dun and farewelling her there.
- Especially this line:
- After Claire takes off her wedding ring to check for a maker's mark, she sees 'da mi basia mille' inscribed in the inside of the ring and realises that Jamie had it done that way for her. Her reaction is just as much as you'd expect.
- In the very first chapter, we see Jamie lying on Culloden Field, believing (and wishing) himself to be dead. He is completely without hope, and even when he is found by his comrades and taken into a house nearby he wants to die, and believes that he will die because his leg wound is too serious and will cause a fatal fever. At one point tears can be seen trickling down his cheeks at the thought of Claire who he will never see again (or so he thinks). It gets worse when the English arrive and condemn the men to death by gunshot. Jamie is forced to watch as his fellow soldiers, most of which were his friends, are taken out and shot, one by one. Two of those soldiers were young boys still in their teens, and the moment when they walk out the door together hand-in-hand and terrified can bring tears to any reader's eyes. Another of the men, Ewan Cameron, was a close friend of Jamie's, and the parting words Jamie speaks to him are especially sad. And then there's Jamie's protests after hearing that Lord Melton wants to spare his life.
- "I dinna want to go home! I want to be shot!"The Englishmen exchanged a look."Raving," the Lieutenant said significantly, and Melton nodded.
- Jamie admitting to Jenny that Claire was pregnant with their child when he lost her, and the revelation that he came to the house for Jenny's labour because of that, thinking that he might be able to help her like he couldn't help Claire. And then this:
- Jamie: I couldna help my wife; I suppose I thought I might help you. Not that I could. I am as useless to you as I was to her.
- Fergus losing his hand while protecting Jamie from English soldiers. Especially the aftermath. Jamie is absolutely grieved and guilt-ridden at what happened, since he knows that it had occurred partly because of him. It's part of the reason he chooses to give himself up to the English.
- Jamie's words to Jenny when he is telling her of his plan to hand himself over to the English so that Lallybroch can survive the famine. Jenny is terrified that he will be hanged like other Jacobite traitors, but Jamie doesn't seem to care about that at all. Part of it is because of what Claire told him about the English imprisoning traitors instead of executing them after years had passed after Culloden. Another part of it is because he's sunk deep in despair, guilt and grief and doesn't care anymore whether he lives or dies.
- Jenny: But Jamie, even if they dinna hang ye outrightand thats the hell of a risk to takeJamie, ye could be killed when they take ye!Jamie: God, Jenny, d'ye think I care?
- The realisation that the Ardsmuir Prison men have been sold into indenture in America.
- Jamie's life in Helwater. Though Jamie is surrounded by horses and pleasant scenery and the Dunsays treat him well, he's incredibly lonely and cut off from his family and culture, and has absolutely no freedom at all. He's practically a slave, no matter how good his treatment and surroundings are.
- Geneva's eventual fate: married and making love to an old man who disgusts her, and later dying in childbirth. It's no wonder she forced Jamie into bedding her— it was a better alternative than sleeping with Ellesmere for her first time.
- Jamie and his illegitimate son Willies good-bye when Willie is a small child. Jamie and Willie are heartbroken at having to separate Jamie has done his best to help rear the son he must not publicly claim and Willie looks up to the man he doesnt know is his biological father. Jamie throws caution to the wind and hugs his son tight and Willie tries to suppress his sobs. Before Jamie leaves, he baptizes his son William James and gives Willie a rosary, which Willie keeps into adulthood.
- He looked into the dark blue eyes, so heartbreakingly like his own, and suddenly didnt give a damn what was right or who saw. He pulled the boy roughly to him, hugging him tight against his heart, holding the boys face close to his shoulder, that Willie might not see the quick tears that fell into his thick, soft hair. Willies arms went around his neck and clung tight. He could feel the small, sturdy body shake against him with the force of suppressed sobbing.
- Jamie and Claire's reunion in Edinburgh. From the moment Claire steps through the door and introduces herself, causing Jamie to faint in shock.
- In the same scene, Jamie breaks down completely when Claire shows him the pictures of Brianna. Coming from a man who is so badass, seeing him weep with abandon is enough to make any reader cry themselves.
- Jenny and Claire's close friendship proves to be very strained after the twenty years since they'd last seen one another. When you think of how like sisters they were in the previous two books, it's sad to see their relationship reduced to this. Even sadder is the fact that it takes over fourteen years (five books) for them to begin to mend their friendship to close to what it was before.
- When Claire returns after hearing of Jamie's injury, Jamie is fevered and thinks that he's seeing a ghost or a figment of his imagination when she comes into his room. Some of what he says to her in his fevered state is heartbreaking. How many times had he spoken like that to a ghost of Claire while he was living alone in the cave or in prison or on parole?
- Jamie's retelling of how he came to be wed to Laoghaire, and what it was like being wed to her. After returning from England Jamie felt so lost and was completely broken by all that had happened during the past eighteen years. He wanted to feel like he belonged somewhere, so he acceded to Jenny's demands that he marry again. He chose Laoghaire because he felt he could be useful in looking after her and her children, and be a good husband to her. However, after he marries her everything quickly goes downhill for them as a couple. Laoghaire keeps shrinking away from Jamie whenever he tries to be intimate with her and please her sexually, which confuses and upsets him.
- Jamie berating himself after losing Young Ian to the pirates. What makes it worse is that he had promised Jenny that no harm would come to Young Ian, and Jenny had only let Ian come with them to dive for the gold because Jamie had convinced her to. Now Jamie has to face returning to his sister and telling her that they had lost her youngest son, when he had sworn that he would be safe. Then Jamie starts to believe that he had done wrong in God's eyes, and that his trying to use the gold to buy his own happiness was wrong and that even his love for Claire was sinful because he stole her (his words) from another man.
- When Jamie finally tells Claire that he fathered a child by another woman, and that he will never be able to have a part in Willie's life or even see him again in order to prevent Willie from being labelled a bastard and cast out from society, you can see tears brimming underneath his eyelids. And then Claire touches his cheek to give him comfort, and Jamie just covers her hand with his own and sighs, showing that he really needs Claire's support right at that moment.
- Jamie losing Bree's pictures.
Drums of Autumn
- Lizzie and her father. Mr Wemyss must have been really desperate to save his daughter from being raped and abused by another prospective master that he begged Bree to buy her bond, even if it meant Lizzie going to America and him never seeing her again. He was clearly stricken after hearing where Bree was headed, but still he continued to persuade her. To him, being separated forever from his daughter was a better alternative than seeing her bond bought by a man who would likely molest and abuse her.
- Bree's rape. The retelling and Claire's reaction over it.
- Young Ian's sacrifice. Especially Jamie's reaction to it.
The Fiery Cross
- Roger's hanging, and his rough path back out of his resulting Heroic BSoD.
A Breath of Snow and Ashes
- The aftermath of Claire's abduction, with both her and Jamie coming to terms with her rape and brutal beating.
- Jamie's grief when Claire is dying from what they think is illness.
- Fergus attempting to commit suicide after a group of boys tried to kill Henri-Christian.
- Roger, Bree and Jem's return to the 20th century.
- The entire ending is bittersweet, when you think that Bree and her family have returned to the 20th century and are now separated from Jamie and Claire.
An Echo in the Bone
- The elder Ian's death, and Jenny's grief over it. There's also his insistence that Young Ian return to America to be with Rachel, after finding out that Ian has a sweetheart. He could have stayed silent and let Ian stay with him until he died, which is what Ian was willing to do, but instead put Ian's happiness first and told him to go.
- The whole novel, especially the sections concerning Bree and Roger, can be very sad when you think that they are separated from Jamie and Claire possibly forever, and that Bree has lost both her parents (her mother for the second time) and could call herself an orphan now. Then there are the letters that Jamie and Claire leave for Bree and her family, some of which leave Bree feeling more than teary.
- Jamie's feeling of sadness when Fergus suggests to him that they might meet Bree and her family in France (which is where everyone except Jamie, Claire and Ian believe they have gone), and his flat response stating that they will never see them again.
Written in My Own Heart's Blood
- Claire's shooting, and Jamie's fear and grief over it.
- Henri-Christian's death. Especially Germain's guilt over it.