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Tear Jerker / Pokémon Sun and Moon

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"Lillie... heh... when did you start becoming beautiful?"''
Lusamine, to Lillie after her defeat

The Pokémon games have always been seen as mainly for children. While the general style of the Pokémon games remains lighthearted, there are details, characters and events that don't. Tear Jerkers have always been a staple of the franchise, but the Pokémon games have grown up with their audience. It's gotten to the point that Sun and Moon have startlingly mature commentary on very serious topics, and parts of these games can get downright depressing.

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Examples pertaining to Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon go here.

No spoiler warnings allowed on these subpages! Therefore, read with caution!


Story:

  • If you visit Hau'oli Cemetery at some point after gaining the ability to ride various Pokémon, there will be a woman carried by a Machamp talking to a gravestone. The Machamp keeps making a fuss, and when she notices you, she tells you the story of how her husband died in an accident and Machamp barely survived due to being put inside its Poké Ball at the last moment (leading to survivor's guilt in the Machamp). She goes on to say she had to forgive the man who caused the accident after meeting the widow and children he left behind, then tells you to be careful when riding Pokemon. It's a very unexpected and emotional little scene. Interestingly enough, this actually ties into the plot, the deceased being Hapu's grandfather, whose death left Poni without a kahuna for several years.
    • What makes this worse is the fact that the entire story leads up to you getting the TM for Fling, making the entire story sound like the setup for an awful pun (the woman mentions that Machamp has hated being inside its Poké Ball ever since the accident, so much that it flung it off into the distance with all its strength so that it would never be found).
  • There is an abandoned Stufful on Route 13, which NPCs nearby state to be waiting for its missing trainer. It is heavily implied that it died waiting for their return by the post-game.
    • What makes it worse is that if you go back to Route 13 in the post-game, the Stufful is just gone despite the other NPCs still mentioning it. Granted, this was probably done to avoid showing it dying on-screen, but it adds a bit of Fridge Horror (or Fridge Tragedy?) to the scene. The Stufful likely wandered off somewhere, finally giving up on waiting, and died alone somewhere. Or, slightly less tragically, it died still waiting there and the body was cleaned up offscreen before you got there. Either way, you never find out what happened to it.
      • Making this even worse is a gameplay detail that would be more surprising if it weren't done with this tearjerker in mind — Stufful and Bewear are not in the Ula'ula Pokédex. In other words, the player can't catch a wild Stufful on Ula'ula and pretend it's this one. The writers really didn't want that Stufful to have a happy ending.
  • Lusamine goes insane due to neurotoxins released by her Ultra Beast, meaning she was doing things partly of her own free will. This includes abusing her own biological children Lillie and Gladion. At her most bleak and cruel, she essentially beats her daughter's pet within an inch of its life just so she can open a portal and live with a bunch of jellyfish creatures no smarter than the average Cnidarian, not even caring about the man she's trapped in the same world with her.
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    • Even sadder is when she's defeated. She caresses Lillie's face and says "When did you start becoming beautiful?" That could mean that Lusamine was somewhat aware of her actions while she was under Nihilego's influence, and that she's proud of her daughter for overcoming her fears and fighting against her mother while still hoping to save her. Lusamine then falls into a coma, and we never see her again. However, Lillie states after you become the Champion that Lusamine came out of the coma and is slowly recovering. She even wanted to try to go to the festival that was for you becoming the Champion.
    • Alternatively, if you interpret her behavior as genuine and not influenced by Nihilego, her aching, desperate desire to live in her own world with Nihilego is heartbreakingly tragic. Imagine a woman so traumatized by the rejection and departure of everyone she loved that she began seeking love and validation from an extradimensional creature. Someone who wanted to live on her lonesome in an alternate dimension because she thought nobody in her own world would love her enough not to abandon her.
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    • And all of this started when her husband disappeared through a wormhole during an experiment gone awry.
      • Adding onto this, the player can actually meet Lusamine's husband, Mohn, if they go to Poké Pelago. And yet, even if you realize that he's the same Mohn mentioned in notes at Aether Paradise, there is no way to reunite him with his wife and kids. It makes you wonder if he's even aware of what happened to his family in the time that he's been gone.
  • Po Town, Team Skull's base on Ula'ula Island, is a rather gloomy place accompanied by very sad music. The town is completely covered in graffiti, it's perpetually storming, and the Pokémon Center is in shambles and lacks electricity. Even the town description admits that the place gives off feelings of unease, and it's clear as to why.
    • The majority of the grunts are revealed to be outcasts with crippling poverty and an immense lack of self-worth due to coming from broken homes, failing or dropping out of the island challenge and shirking away from society as a result, many of whom lament their choices as children. In a way, the whole campaign in the town strongly resembles that of a trial — battles to be fought, puzzles and mazes to solve, and a Z-Crystal available after beating a tough opponent. There are even some captain's barricades that have been repurposed for Skull's use.
    • The Shady House is stated to be the former residence of a millionaire and has been completely removed of any glory a mansion of its size would have once had — drenched in graffiti, vases, paint tins, bottles and shards of broken windows spread throughout the building across a sea of tarnished furniture and a chandelier that blocks access to several rooms and makes traversing others a nightmare. In stark contrast, Plumeria's room is well-kept. Her bed and shelves are neatly made, containing Pokémon plushes and things like makeup respectively.
  • The reason Team Skull teams up with Lusamine and the Aether Foundation. According to Plumeria, Guzma grew to like and admire Lusamine because she was the only adult who recognized his strength. And then it's revealed that Lusamine was just using him and Team Skull for her own means. Poor dude winds up stuck in Ultra Space with a madwoman with no way to escape, having been completely used by the person he'd grown to respect.
    • In Ultra Space, when Lillie asks Lusamine if she cares about what happens to Guzma, the camera briefly pans to Guzma from the bottom up and if you look closely at his face you can see that he's actually crying upon the reveal that Lusamine was merely using him.
    • Made worse by the implication in the postgame that Guzma's father was abusive, which drove him out of the house and onto the streets after he finally snapped and brutally retaliated against him. Guzma really was a talented kid, too, if the trophies in his house on Route 2 are any indication, as well as the photo of him proudly holding up his Island Challenge amulet.
    • A closer inspection of those trophies shows three bronze ones and a silver one. In other words, no gold trophies, and only once did he place 2nd. This indicates Guzma suffered from Always Second Best and speaks volumes about his father's disappointment in him.
    • This YouTube comment sums it up aptly:
      "Wanna see what crippling depression and years of child abuse looks like? Here it is in human form-it's your boy GUZMA!"
  • After you become Champion of the Alola League, Lillie decides to leave Alola and go on a journey of her own in Kanto. It's the last time you see her. After going through so much with Lillie and seeing her character development, it's pretty hard to say goodbye to her.
    • Made even worse by the fact that she didn't tell the protagonist that she was leaving right away, and they and Hau nearly get to the dock too late. After she does leave, Hau breaks down crying, and it's extremely saddening to see the normally cheerful kid in tears.
    • It's even sadder in the postgame considering there are numerous references to Lillie, suggesting that the player is constantly thinking about her. One particular example is when you inspect her sofa bed at Kukui's lab; if you inspect it before the credits, the bed describes it as "the sofa bed Lillie uses". But if you inspect it post-game, it instead reads "the bed Lillie used to sleep on."
    • Even Rotom misses her, as among the things he can say when you load up your game postgame is "I wazzz just thinking about Lillie, do you think she's still in her Z-Powered form?"
    • If you check Solgaleo or Lunala's stats after catching it, you'll notice that its Happiness rating is all the way down to zero. It makes one wonder if Nebby isn't taking being seperated from Lillie all that well.
  • Hau, unlike most rivals, talks about his dad. His dad who abandoned the family because he hated being the son of a Kahuna, and works far away from Alola, and he really wants to be able to try to find him again.
    • The way he just casually drops this may make it worse. Hau seems pretty used to it, so his dad's probably been gone for a while now.
  • The quest to get the Eevium Z-Crystal is surprisingly sobering. It starts with talking to a middle-aged man working at the Thrifty Megamart, who had to give up his dream of becoming a great Eevee Trainer to settle down and have a family, and he gives you the goal of finding and defeating the Eeveelution trainers 30 years after the original man gave up his goal. The entire mission is full of Growing Up Sucks, with each of the people being retired or otherwise invalid; four of them had retired to pursue careers or support their families, the Umbreon Trainer is chronically ill, the Jolteon trainer seems to be suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's, and the Sylveon Trainer has already passed away and left her Eeveelution to her young granddaughter. After beating them, they each offer you a somber anecdote about life and ask you to give the Eevee Trainer their regards.
    • How about the fact that the "careers" the trainers ended up with are depressing as hell? The Eevee trainer is a cashier at a megamart, the Vaporeon trainer is a friggin janitor at the Pokémon School, the Flareon Trainer is implied to have become a Janitor at the Tide Song hotel, the Espeon Trainer stayed in his job as Janitor at the Geothermal Power Plant, the Glaceon Trainer now thinks of nothing but living quietly with her family and grandchildren, and the Leafeon trainer is desperately trying to retain her youth and health through innumerable medical treatments but they cannot cover up the arthritis she is slowly succumbing to. This is what all that training, journeying, and battles amounted to? A group of broken, washed-up has-beens with jobs that any teenager off the street could do? It's hard to accept that this is the fate for most of the gung-ho To Be a Master youths that set out on Pokémon journeys.
    • The Jolteon trainer, in particular, can be quite saddening considering Tora, the Eevee trainer, described her as being filled with life and utterly tyrannical in battle. Then you come and see that she doesn't even remember Tora himself. At the very least, it's nice to see her Jolteon is still with her.
    • It's also startling commentary on adult life and the realization that life can and may not go as you plan. Who plans for arthritis in their lives or just changing pace completely to live in peace or having to take up jobs that are way below them; but need to pay the bills or to survive? It's another dark take on trainers who fail.
  • A major plot point in Sun and Moon is the Ultra Beasts, Pokémon-like creatures that came out of nowhere, wreaking havoc on the world. The worst part is they may have attacked at least one world, the world of the GBA and DS Pokémon games. If so, this means that everything the players strived for and everything they accomplished in those worlds was possibly destroyed, offscreen, with Anabel as one of the few survivors. That said, this is only vaguely implied.
    • Made even sadder and worse by the fact that those Ultra Beasts are just looking for a way home and are naturally attracted to "Fallers" (people who have absorbed enough energy from Ultra Space) because they instinctively think these people will help them back home. In the process, they end up killing the Faller unintentionally... all for a way to open the wormhole up.
    • Speaking of the Ultra Beasts, you're made to capture several of them in the post-game, and that's when you learn that they're attracted to Fallers and why. By now, you have the box legendary, which is outright stated to have the ability to travel between worlds. From an in-universe standpoint, you — a Faller with an easy means of inter-dimensional travel — are in the perfect position to take them home. And yet, the game never gives you this option. That said, the captured Ultra Beasts all seem quite happy with you, which is the reason given for not doing anything more with them now that they are safe and peaceful.
  • If you talk to the landlady of the motel Gladion has been living in, she'll reveal he's been staying there for two years. Since at this point in the game you haven't learned his backstory, it makes you wonder what kind of home life he had in order for this to happen. Finding out his backstory doesn't make things any better - he may have escaped his abusive mother, but he abandoned his sister in the process and is stuck working for a gang who doesn't respect him.
  • Apparently, the sight of Hala being angry is so scary that it made a young Hau cry. One of the people (possibly Hau's uncle or one of Hala's students) at Hala's home even says that could be the reason why Hala holds back when it comes to his grandson: Hala doesn't want to upset Hau the way he accidentally did years ago.
  • In Sun, meet Kiawe in his room in Paniola Town at night after finishing Akala's Grand Trial, and you will discover that, despite him being a top-class trainer and a talented fire dancer, he has to work at the Thrifty Megamart to make ends meet and gather funds to study abroad. Unfortunately for him, he gets laid off from his job there and has to go find another way to make a living. The implication here is that, no, being a Pokémon Trainer does not pay the bills, and apparently, neither does being a Trial Captain. And this sidequest ends with Kiawe having nowhere left to go, with a major setback to his dreams and him understandably being immensely frustrated.
  • After arriving on Poni Island and defeating Lusamine in Ultra Space, your mascot Legendary tells Lillie that they wish to stay with her and she gently refuses their request, saying since she isn't a trainer she can't give it fierce battles or allow it to see the world like it wants and opts to ask the player to capture it instead. After successfully capturing the mascot Legendary, the player actually tries to give it to Lillie but she again refuses and gives a final speech to Nebby telling it that they belong to the player now and that'll raise them like any good parent will for their child and become their new father/mother and that she trust that you'll take care of Nebby for her and even hesitates to leave giving Nebby another motherly speech to be careful not hurt anyone with it's newfound power, not to escape from its Poké Ball like it did her bag, and not to travel to other dimensions on it's own or else it'll make the player worried and to be happy and see the world. Lillie's speech to Lunala/Solgaleo managed to be both Heartwarming and Tear Jerker at the same time. Nebby was pretty much HER Pokémon that she treated/raised as if she was its mother and now she's giving it up so it could be happy and the song playing in the background just really made the whole moment truly bittersweet.
  • The last message at the very end of the credits — one last reminder of Lillie's departure, complete with a special version of her own theme playing over it. The way the song gradually winds down like a music box as the message reaches its end and the fact that these lines mark the conclusion of the entire game make this final moment into both a massive heartwarmer and a painful tear jerker.
    Everyone's smiles shine so brightly.
    Those smiles led us to so many other people.
    And those smiles will lead us to a bright future.
    I'm so glad I got to meet everyone.
    I'm so glad I got to meet you.
  • In Memorial Hill, there's a preschool-age boy visiting the graves. What makes it tearjerking is not the battle, but what he says. It's a child wondering about the meaning and concept of death. He thinks that the Pokemon and people who don't wake are just sleeping. He also says that if they can't wake up, they can just use the Awakening on them. Boy...
  • Of the character cameos that aren't directly story-related, most of the returning trainers are fairly happy to be visiting Alola. The exception is Grimsley, who on the whole looks significantly worse for wear and speaks more somberly than when we last saw him two generations ago. Considering he's confirmed to be or have been a gambling addict, it makes you wonder what led to the state he winds up in as of Gen VII.

Pokemon:

  • As with X and Y with Pokémon Amie, Sun and Moon's Refresh lets you pet your Pokémon and become close to them. This can get rather upsetting in battle when they "Hung in there just for you" and "are in a pinch and look like they're about to cry" in a hard fight; they've become so fond of you that they can't bear to disappoint you by losing a fight.
    • If you're making baby Pokémon such as the Pichu you can catch early on or the freebie Munchlax evolve through friendship, there's certainly a heavy bond you get between you and the Pokémon, especially when you evolve them. However, if you're at level 4 affection and they're in the red, it's heartbreaking to get a text telling you that they look like they're going to cry. The fact that these Pokémon that you raised through love and care are so upset that they're losing is quite hurtful.
    • In a Nuzlocke run, this particular line can take on a different meaning. Imagine your Pokémon, who you've shown all your love and care for, nearly in tears because of a careless strategy or a powerful attack. In other words, your Pokémon just had a Near-Death Experience; you were this close to losing one of your closest and most valuable allies.
  • There is just something pitiable about Mimikyu. The only reason the cloth that it uses to hide from sunlight looks like a Pikachu is because it just wants to be loved by people like Pikachu is.
    • This comic makes things worse.
    • The Ghost Trial where you have to battle a Totem Mimikyu is mostly scary, but it gets rather sad when you finally turn around and it gets so excited to have its picture taken.
    • Also during the Ghost Trial, the room you encounter the Totem Mimikyu in is full of old pictures of Pikachu during the height of the Electric Mouse's popularity. One of the pictures? A Pikachu being hugged by a little girl. That kind of bond with a human is what Mimikyu has been longing for.
    • In Sun, the Pokedex has this to say about Mimikyu's busted Disguise form, which Mimikyu reverts to after being hit with an attack just once:
      After going to all the effort of disguising itself, its neck was broken. Whatever is inside is probably unharmed, but it's still feeling sad.
    • You know how in Pokémon Refresh, most Pokemon have spots they like to be pet on and others they dislike? Mimikyu doesn't. It reacts with the largest amount of happiness no matter where you pet it. Poor creature is craving any sort of contact.
      • Actually, there is one part of Mimikyu that it does not like being pet on; the very bottom of its costume, where a small part of its body is visible. Which is probably even sadder, in that regard; while it likes being touched, it doesn't want to be actually touched lest that leads to harming its friend.
  • Bewear is super friendly and lovable for an almost seven-foot-tall bear, but everyone is afraid of it due to its crushing strength to the point where signs are posted to warn others of wild ones and trainers are cautioned against raising one for their own health and safety. It just wants to hug people!
    • Made worse in the reveal of its pre-evolved form; it turns out that it Hates Being Touched, only for it to be too late when it evolves. Wow.
  • Bounsweet are cute little fruit-like Pokémon that smell wonderful and even skip merrily when they run; unfortunately, they smell so nice that other Pokémon are quickly attracted to them and are known to swallow them whole for a snack, and its cute run masks the fact that it may be running for its life from those who would otherwise help them.
  • Brionne, being the Pop Star Pokémon, is always happy and has a smile on its face, even if it's feeling terrible. Nobody knows this unless they have a strong enough bond with Brionne.
    • This is worsened by the fact that, with Brionne being the Pop Star Pokémon, this may well be a very stealthy Take That! to Japan's idol culture, which is extremely demanding and often emotionally damaging to the idols. They are expected to behave a certain way, and with fans being quite fickle, the smallest slip-up can have disastrous consequences on a girl's career, leading to them having to project a facade at all times when they are in public. To some extent this is true for any performer (or public figure in general) anywhere, but idols are among those who get the worst of it.
  • Lilligant has a beautiful flower on its head as a defining characteristic, but as soon as it finds a male Pokémon to be its partner, the flower droops, darkens and withers away. This makes mating tragic for this Pokémon.
  • Type: Null's backstory is tragic. It is the end result of an artificially-created bioweapon project, and three specimens were developed by the Aether Foundation to become tools that could kill Ultra Beasts. They're made up of genetic material of at least one species of every type of Pokémon, and essentially made to be a version of Arceus that the Foundation could control. They were originally called Type: Full, and after a failed installation of the RKS system (which allows it to turn into any type), they went berserk and were placed into cryostasis "for all eternity" — that's verbatim from the game. Given the fact that Type: Null evolves through friendship, and that the RKS system works perfectly fine for you and Gladion to use after that, there's an implication there that the system didn't take because the Aether Foundation abused them. The unsettling appearance of Type: Null implies that it was created with a heavy emphasis on function instead of form, sort of like if a Pokemon was designed by the competitive scene - all substance and no style, with no place in life other than destroying everything put in front of you in the quickest and most efficient way possible. Talk about a Class-A Woobie.
    • Not to mention the fact that its evolution isn't so much an evolution, but rather just Type:Null breaking out of its imprisoning mask stuck onto it by the Aether Foundation into its true form of Silvally (as evidenced by its in-game weight being noticeably __lower__ than Type:Null's and only a head taller.
  • The new SOS Battle mechanic can cause this in certain cases. A Pokémon has just been taken down to low health by a trainer, who may have used an Adrenaline Orb to try to catch a shiny, meaning that it is hurt and scared. Then the Pokémon calls for help... and no one comes. It's made even worse if you accidentally knock it out after the fact.
    • Making matters even worse is when a Pokémon calls for backup and its reinforcements end up attacking it, such as what happens when Corsola summons Mareanie or when Carbink summons Sableye. Some of these turncoat reinforcements are mentioned in the Pokédex to be the summoner's predators. Think on that for a moment.
  • Necrozma might be an Eldritch Abomination that attacks others indiscriminately, but you can't help but feel sorry for it when you see that its special idle animation is it clutching its head and torso in what appears to be agony, its whole body shaking and swaying from side to side as it floats. It even beats its hand on its head a few times to get itself out of its stupor. According to the dex entry, Necrozma occasionally fires off its laser against its will — looking at its back during this idle animation actually shows it is trying not to fire it.
  • Moon gives a surprising one for regular Muk, whose numbers are apparently decreasing.
    "After recent environmental improvements, this Pokémon is now hardly seen at all. People speculate that it may go extinct at some point."
  • Several entries for Mega Evolutions seem to suggest that the process can turn Pokémon into loose cannons that can't control their own power, over-optimizing them for battle at the expense of their ability to function properly and even causing them to suffer. Kangaskhan worries for the future of its offspring because it seems to be only good at battling and nothing else, Gyarados' aggression completely overrides its other brain functions, Salamence becomes so ferocious it sometimes turns on its trainer, and some researchers theorize that Mega Aerodactyl is so aggressive because it's in pain.
  • Mankey and Primeape are mostly feared for their anger, but their Sun and Moon Pokedex Entries give us a sad look on their situation :

Meta:

  • Poor Popplio got some heavy backlash and criticism after it was revealed alongside the other two praised starters. On social media, many people expressed their disgust and hatrednote , dubbing it the worst starter of all time. Fans and supporters lended their support by drawing adorable fanart of Popplio, especially where it is crying from rejection, and alongside other similarly criticized starters like Oshawott and Chespin. The "Popplio Defense Squad" protects the precious pup from haters.
  • "I'm..."
    • This pic is also referring to Brionne getting flack as well. When Brionne was revealed, the Popplio Defense Squad had suffered a membership blow when some defected from the cause because of Brionne's effeminate design.
    • At least the story has a happy ending, as Primarina was generally very well-received. Despite being another feminine-looking Pokémon with an overwhelmingly male ratio, it undeniably looks beautiful and elegant, on top of packing the highest Special Attack stat of any starter.
  • "The Song of Mimikyu", an official song for the little wannabe Pikachu Pokémon, which is essentially saying that it's no Pikachu and yet it's no monster and all it wants is to be your friend.
  • As stated above, the fact that there are events in Sun and Moon that tackle surprisingly serious issues, like losing your dreams to age and having to grow up and move on, as well as the consequences that those who don't achieve what is expected of them can experience. Like it was said at the very top of this page, the Pokemon games have grown up with its userbase; Sun and Moon celebrate 20 years of Pokemon, so those who enjoyed Red and Blue as kids back in the 90's would be in their 30's and possibly 40's by now. What was seen as impossible-to-understand kids stuff back then is a mainstay of the gaming world now, enjoyed by all ages. That Pokémon, of all franchises, is tackling issues that those early fans might be dealing with now (and new fans will have to deal with in the future) makes it all the more shocking — and all the more sad.
  • A story about Guzma and his Wimpod. Doubles as an awesome and heartwarming moment, at least on the Wimpod's part.

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