NOTICE: This is a Moments subpage for the Portal series. There are major spoilers for both games beyond this point, all of which are unmarkedas per policy. Venture further only if you dare! You Have Been Warned.
As much as it was intended to be a parody of the Player Punch, some people did get genuinely upset at the death the faithful Companion Cube. Portal 2 makes it worse, with GLaDOS claiming that the companion cubes are sentient. This is right after she vaporizes two or three cubes in a single test chamber.
In Test Chamber 7 of the sequel, you run into another Companion Cube. At the end of the chamber, GLaDOS tells you that while the Emancipation Grill would normally eliminate anything you try to take with you, this one is broken, so don't take anything. So you go to get it back, take it down to the elevator and... it vaporizes.
The Companion Cube poetry behind the walls of level 17. Poor Rattmann...
The first time you knock over a turret, only to have it say, in a melancholy voice, "I don't hate you..."
If you use a turret as a shield while a different one is firing at you, your makeshift shield screams, "W-wait! No! ...It's me!"
The turret voices have been updated in Portal 2, with a heartrending "Nooooooo!" if you fling them into space. Thankfully, the turrets forgive you in the end and sing you a song.
The good turrets being thrown into the Redemption Center after correctly responding to the template.
Turret: But...why? I did everything you asked! *CRUNCH*
The Curiosity Core is a childish, naive little AI that asks questions about anything it sees and cheerfully greets you once it recognizes you, all in a cutesy voice that sounds like the turrets but absent the creepiness. It's also the second core you incinerate. Its scream is also pretty horrible to listen to.
'"Look, we're both stuck in this place. I'll use lasers to inscribe a line down the centre of the facility! And one half will be where you live, and I'll live in the other half. We won't have to try to kill each other, or even talk if we don't feel like it!"' GLaDOS actually sounded a bit freaked out here...or as much as a computer/robot/AI thing could.
In the sequel GLaDOS claims that she spent the time since the first game being forced to relive Chell killing her over and over. And that's not even counting the crap she goes through later. Combined with the fact that Valve went out of their way to make her more sympathetic as the game goes on... Fortunately, she gets a relatively happy ending.
Finding out that Chell gets dragged back into the lab again was depressing enough, but hearing that in Portal 2 she wakes up God knows how long after, maybe even centuries in the future, Jesus, there is literally nothing left for her outside. The world outside the lab is a completely different place by now, and she can't even have the Tragic Dream of going back to a normal life anymore.
Made even worse knowing that this is the same universe as Half Life and as far as we're concerned, Earth might still be ruled by the Combine.
When it's revealed in the comic that Doug Rattmann attempted to save Chell from getting dragged back into the labs, ignoring his spirit Companion Cube telling him to run, insisting that he had to try to save her. Seeing that the Party Escort Bot had put her in an offline cryo-stasis chamber, Chell would have died if it hadn't been for Doug activating the chamber, even though he knew that he couldn't set an automatic wake-up time. Without the intervention of Wheatley, she would never have woken up. Tear Jerker for Doug and Chell indeed.
Rattmann's dialogue during this part is pretty sad as well.
Rattmann: So it's the long sleep... or the long sleep. And I don't know which is worse. Forgive me.
Towards the end of Lab Rat, the Companion Cube is asking Doug how he knew that Chell would be able to do it, how he knew she could get the two of them out. He gives a perfect non-answer, saying that he just had a hunch. It's not until after he dies that we learn why he chose her.
Proctor's Note: Test subject is abnormally stubborn. She never gives up. Ever. Rejected, do not test.
The end of Chapter 5, if you think about it. You're so close to achieving your goal, Wheatley is getting you out at long last, only for the triumphant music to suddenly take a dark turn... and you watch as everything starts to go terribly wrong and Wheatley, your one friend starts to lose it, mad with power and suddenly turning on you, claiming your work was his. The worst bit? When the music swells again, you can hear nearly the exact same victorious music from merely a MINUTE ago, when you had seemingly won, but now it serves as a Dark Reprise of what you almost had together. Why, Wheatley? Why?...
Soon after you meet Wheatley he asks the player to catch them after he detaches from his railing. No matter how hard the players try, the best they can do is catch him with their face and balance him for a moment before he rolls off and hits the ground. During the final fight Wheatley says this: "We've had some times, haven't we? Like that time I jumped off my management rail, not sure if I'd die or not when I did, and all you had to do was catch me? Annnd you didn't. Did you? Oh, you remember that? I remember that. I remember that all the time."
Even after hearing all the hilarious craziness of Cave Johnson in the sequel, you'll be sad by the end. Cave Johnson made some amazing things and had absolutely no morals whatsoever, but...everything he created, he did by accident. He wanted to make diet pudding; he made repulsion gel instead. He wanted to make a fuel injection system de-icer; he got a psychotic AI instead. This is all very funny...until then you find out he's dying from exposure to all the crazy things he's experimented on, and despite the amazing devices his company has created, by the end they can't even afford to pay the homeless and unemployed a few bucks to act as test subjects. Even his plan to save himself by uploading himself to a computer never works out...for him, anyway.
Perhaps epitomized by his scream in the middle of his "when life gives you lemons" rant. J. K. Simmons puts a lifetime of failure, despair, and impotent rage into the words "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!"
The real moment is just at the end of his final message. GLaDOS' usual monotone voice sounds less robotic and more emotionally drained here.
GLaDOS: Goodbye, sir.
What makes the above (including the farewell) even more sobering is when you stop and actually realize that these recordings are all that's left of Cave Johnson, and that they'll almost certainly never be heard again. They, along with his image and the parts of the facility he oversaw himself, will now sit underneath Aperture Laboratories forgotten, in silence, forever.
Cave's undeniably awesome combustible lemon rant is quite sad when visualizing what he must have looked like when recorded it. A near penniless man overlooking his empire as it stands on its last legs while slowly dying a painful death, hunched over a tape deck, screaming his frustration at life. Even sadder is that his misery is almost entirely his fault to begin with, and his rant is likely an attempt to deflect his own personal responsibility.
When you listen to the rant sound file outside of the game, you'll hear his voice cracking in almost a child-like fashion, as almost tearful frustration.
The recording you hear before the Conversion Gel chamber. "Welcome to the Enrichment Center...*cough*" At this point, with just that one line of dialogue, you already know everything about Cave's situation. He's broke. He's sick. He's completely demoralized. The enthusiasm of a once magnificent entrepreneur and one of the greatest minds of a generation, gone. All that remains is science, and so, almost as soulless as the robots installed to replace his management, Cave greets you with a simple line...and yet the way he says it, all the subtext of a defeated man...
For that matter, the obvious crash Aperture goes through as told by Cave's recordings and portraits. First batch, he proudly congratulates you (presuming you are an Olympian or an athlete) on helping to contribute to science, his portrait is a smiling young man, and the waiting room is warm wood and plush carpets and furniture. Second batch, he's muttering under his breath about having to recruit hobos and homeless people on the promise of sixty dollars, his portrait is an older man going bald but still looking proud, and the waiting room is a more cold but professional office space. The third batch has the defeated and sick Cave saying employee testing is now mandatory, his portrait is a bitter and haggard old man, and the "waiting room" is a sterile office with some folding chairs set up in front of a projector.
Wheatley floating through space in The Stinger of Portal 2. Especially because he's genuinely sorry for what he did, but in all likelihood, he'll never be able to make it up to Chell. Even moreso when you remember that he honestly couldn't control himself when he was attached to the body. The fact that he remembers it means he knows he did it.
The fact that Chell's arms extend in an attempt to reach him as he's sucked into space (and even linger and go limp after he's gone) means that Chell probably knew this and tried to save him. If this was a Tear Jerker for you, just imagine how she felt, knowing she's doomed the only being who has been nice to her in a really long time to a horrible existence floating through space forever.
Another part is when Wheatley screams "GRAB ME, GRAB ME!" Given just shortly before in the boss dialogue, he revealed how hurt he was that you never caught him, it just twisted the knife.
In typical GLaDOS fashion, in "Want you Gone" she contradicts herself repeatedly in the ending song, first admitting again that you were her "only friend", then denying that she was talking to you, then erasing the words "Maybe I'll stop feeling so bad" from the screen even though she still sings them. You're watching her struggle with complex and conflicting emotions towards someone who's become so important to her, first as an enemy and then as an ally and then as a friend, and she is struggling with it even as she desperately pushes you away and denies that she needs anyone.
When you wander into the Bring Your Daughter to Work Day Science Fair in Portal 2. There are names on all of the projects, and on the very last project, in small grade-schooler scrawl, is written 'Chell'. This has led to theories that she was a daughter of scientists working there, and they were most likely killed by GLaDOS.
Wheatley'sVillainous Breakdown during the final boss fight. His speech is less like an villain's evil gloating and more like the ranting of a heartbroken child who doesn't understand why everyone has turned against him, or maybe that of a scorned lover who hates you for choosing someone else. Although his perspective is completely twisted from how it actually happened, it can be heartbreaking to hear Wheatley hysterically accusing you of using him and abandoning him when he needed you most. His accusations about how you never caught him are worse because it's impossible to actually catch him, too. If one listens closely to his voice during the rant, he sounds an awful lot like he's crying.
And it's enhanced by the music- if you listen between cores, you can hear a remixed version of 'I AM NOT A MORON' inside the adrenaline-pumping Boss Battle Music- his victory music is playing. Aperture is literally crashing down around him, and he's about to lose his power- what crueler way to accentuate that than a Dark Reprise of his victory tune?
During the final boss fight, the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device is the first thing to get sucked out into space. Goodbye, old buddy...You served us well.
Leaving the Oracle Turret behind. Twice.
When picking up the Oracle Turret for the first time, she just sounds so relieved and sad and exhausted in those two words: "Thank you..."
Exile Vilify just brings tears to eyes. Especially after reading the Lab Rat comic, and learning about Rattmann's past.
The song was apparently originally used for an easter egg ending, presumably one with a not so happy feel.
In Co-Op mode, one of the voice-overs GLaDOS is her saying you both have gotten very close, and she's known one other team like you. One was "an imbecile" she had to destroy, the other she doesn't elaborate on. Obviously, this is referencing Wheatley and Chell, and how they did have a friendship between each other as they tried to escape the facility, before Wheatley goes mad with power. Thanks for depressing me with the reminder that Wheatley is stuck in space, unable to apologize for what he did, game!
Most of GlaDOS' comments in Co-op are sad when you realize she's saying things she told Chell in single player Because she might miss her after all.
In the final Co-Op level, when you find the vault containing human subjects you see a reprogrammed turret which screamed "I need to protect the humans!" The turret is quickly killed off by GlaDOS just so she could deploy blue gel (and possibly silence the turret.)
The way GlaDOS just casually crushes Wheatley after waking up.
CaveDOS, who, unlike GLaDOS, begins to realize that Brain Uploading himself was a terrible idea. He's still hilarious though.
(on Hercules) "[He] defeated all of Earth's monsters so humanity would be safe, and then went to Olympus for his trouble. ...Dammit. Death was my monster. And I killed it... Where's my Olympus?"
Remember those mantis-men from the fifties? In one of the Earths, they successfully took over the building and apparently killed Cave.
Lament, the menu theme that plays while you're in the old Aperture Science testing spheres is a sad piece of music on its own, but it's made even sadder due to who's singing it: GLaDOS herself, after being usurped by Wheatley, turned into a potato, and tossed down an elevator shaft into the depths of Aperture. The sheer emotion in her voice is enough to shed tears.
This is definitely YMMV given people's opinions, but every single time Wheatley says "I! AM! NOT! A MORON!" can be a Tear Jerker, because he sounds not only offended, but heartbroken that GLaDOS and perhaps even worse, his best friend, thinks he's stupid, and the fact that GLaDOS constantly asserts he is one makes all of his plotting look like someone desperately Feigning Intelligence. The idea that Wheatley tries to kill someone just so they'll think he's smart is eerily similar to the behavior of neglected children who do terrible things so their parents will be proud or even just notice them.
Once again YMMV, but during the final boss battle, one of Space Core's lines. Even though he's a robot, in any other situation...
Space Core: Dad! I'm in space! [low-pitched 'space' voice] I'm proud of you, son. [normal voice] Dad, are you space? [low-pitched 'space' voice] Yes. Now we are a family again."
Space Core: Wanna go home. Wanna go home. Wanna go home. Wanna go home. Don't like space. Don't like space. It's too big. Too big. Wanna go home. Wanna go to Earth.
An unused song shows a side of GLaDOS that deeply cares for the one she's singing for (i.e. Chell) and is deeply sad that she's leaving, emphasizing that she had been waiting for her to wake up all that time in the relaxation chamber and that she cares for Chell more than she could know.