Elliot's death in the original was a rapid fire tragedy that was both stupidity-induced and unpredictable for the sake of extra drama. In the remake, however, Leon personally tries to save him from a horde of zombies - and only pulls him out from the torso above as the zombies and security shutter tear the rest off. Not only do we see the life fade from Elliot then and there, Leon does not handle this well and is likely only a step away from a Heroic BSoD before the zombies slamming on the door force him back to his senses.
The first meeting with Lieutenant Marvin Branagh, where Leon nearly breaks down when he reports his failure to rescue Officer Elliot. It's already pretty tragic in the original, but the foreshadowing in this version really packs a sting:
Marvin: "...And don't make my mistake. If you see one of those things —uniform or not— you do not hesitate. You either take it out, or you run. Got it?!"
One can't help but feel a bit teary when meeting Marvin since he's a dead man walking as soon as you see him. Any interaction with him is heart-wrenching since the man is possibly unaware of his impending doom.
Later on, while being chased by the Tyrant in a first run, Leon/Claire runs into a zombified Marvin and is heartbroken by his death, with the former vowing to avenge him and the latter apologizing to him after killing his reanimated corpse.
When you come across Leon's desk, you see that the RPD officers planned a surprise welcoming party and a little puzzle in order to break the ice. They even left a note for Leon welcoming him and telling him to learn his fellow officers' names as the clues to solve the puzzle. Reading the note now? It's covered in blood and there's an added message saying that they are glad that Leon isn't here to suffer with them.
In addition, one of the zombies is sitting at a desk - he's dressed in a police uniform, so he's presumably the same George whose nameplate is left on the floor, having died at his desk.
Be glad you aren't here, rookie.
After Sherry explains to Claire on trying to look for Annette amidst the outbreak, Claire asks Sherry about her father. Sherry hesitates — unlike her original counterpart, who was blessedly ignorant of the truth, she knows something bad has happened to William.
Sherry: "He... uhm... He's... gone."
Leon's encounter at the Kendo Gun Shop is much more tragic than the original. He and Ada encounter Robert Kendo, whose daughter has been infected and it's implied the man had to kill her mother after she turned. Kendo tearfully begs Leon and Ada not to kill his daughter, then finally accepts there's no hope. He eviscerates Leon for being a cop and allowing the city to fall. The man takes his daughter into the backroom to "put her to bed", just like Mommy, and then we hear a single gunshot. This even moves Ada enough to open up to Leon a little. As one Youtube commenter put it;
The shop may be out of guns, but they've still got plenty of feels.
You can watch a video tape belonging to a dead USS soldier, and you can see What Measure Is a Mook? is being played here. In his point of view, you can see G-Birkin slaughter his fellow mercenaries (except Hunk, who survives), and is practically begging him to stop killing them.
Raccoon City Orphanage, full stop, when you find out what they've been doing to the children. You find Sally's diary, where she writes about how her new orphanage is much better than her old one. You find the diary of a disillusioned teenager, Tom, who initially wrote about how his best friend stopped writing to him after being adopted. He writes about how sketchy the place is becoming, in addition to the stories of boogie men kidnapping children, culminating in his best friend coming back with his face peeled off. Then we find a nameless diary.
if ur reebing this
go kall qolice
boogie mans here
eeting every boby
many bark boogie mans here
helq me mommy
Sherry becomes infected with the G-Virus, and thanks to the updated graphics of the remake she is shown to be in agonizing pain. What's even worse is she starts doubting that her own mother even loves her; when Claire offers Sherry her pendant back, she refuses it, stating that it was a birthday gift from her mother, but all Sherry wanted was for her to be home more.
The remake shows Annette's obsession with her work in the worst possible way; Annette actually finds Sherry in the sewers over her surveillance equipment, but scolds her for leaving the police station (where she wasn't any safer, thanks to Irons and the monsters). And when William infects her? Annette writes her own daughter off as a lost cause, leaving again to stop William. Her excuse is millions of lives are on the line, but still, that's just cold. No wonder Sherry is heartbroken on the tram.
At the end of Claire's storyline, Annette finally does come around to showing she loves her daughter, and helps personally cure Sherry of the G-Virus.. only to succumb to her own wounds in front of both Claire and Sherry. Even for all the crap Sherry's been through and her prior doubts, she's so broken up that she can barely get herself together to escape the facility's self-destruct with Claire.
In the few hours that she's known her, Sherry thinks Claire was more of a mother than her actual mother ever was but she still loved her all the same. When she died, Sherry could do nothing except weep over her mother's corpse.
Unlike in the original game, the budding romance between Leon and Ada is downplayed and portrayed more realistically this time around, which arguably makes their "final" parting all the more bittersweet. After learning of her true identity as a treacherous, manipulative spy, the conflicted Leon still trusts Ada enough to appeal to her inner humanity, and is proven correct in his assessment that she cannot bring herself to kill him. This defining moment between them sadly gets cut short when Ada is shot by Annette and then seemingly falls to her "death" afterwards, despite Leon's best efforts to try and save her. While making his escape, Leon later expresses that he cannot believe he still misses Ada in spite of everything that's happened, showing that he really did fall in love with her.
The worst part is that Ada faking her death was the best option in a list of Sadistic Choices; The bridge she and Leon were on was collapsing and he would have died if he tried to save her. And even if Leon did manage to save her, he would have had no choice but to arrest Ada. It was either that, or let her escape and betray his duty as a cop, even if he was the last one left in Raccoon City. There was no version of this where they lived Happily Ever After.
Unlike in the original, where Annete is indifferent to William injecting himself with the virus, here she is clearly anguished to see what her husband has done. Not wanting him to turn, she picks up a pistol but cannot bring herself to fire. The look in her face can only be described as one of hope that the G will somehow fix him instead of mutating him. Alas, her hope is misplaced. The mindless abomination that was once William will cause much chaos and destruction to the city, all because Annette believed her husband was still in there somewhere.
The worst part is she wasn't wrong. William fights against his own monstrous nature for the first two stages and even saves Sherry's life twice. As horrible as he was, the last thing he does before his own body betrays him? Saving Sherry and Claire from a Tyrant.
As this video details, after Leon gets shot and Ada bandages him up, he's left wearing short sleeves. Combined with the dark blue of his outfit, he starts to resemble how he looks in Resident Evil 4 (especially with the similar-looking tactical vest he can obtain in 4). This possibly was a subtle allusion by the developers to hint at who Leon will eventually become - a stoic badass. Leon was barely an adult at the start of Resident Evil 2, and he was a dorky, affable Cowardly Lion and the events during this game is his Coming of Age, for better or worse. He loses that naive idealism and becomes a much more jaded character as the series progresses, which is understandable Character Development, but bittersweet nonetheless.
To drive the point home that the characters you're playing as did not canonically survive the outbreak, every mission in the Ghost Survivors DLC starts with this somber reminder:
Katherine's fate is made even more tragic here. Her father still abandons her, leaving her in the custody of Irons, but she's also in a relationship with Ben. Irons cruelly uses this against her by claiming that Ben is waiting for her at the orphanage, luring her there alone. However, instead of finding her lover she instead learns of Irons' true nature as he tells her he plans to add her to his collection of stuffed prey. Unfortunately, she's canonically murdered by Irons without ever finding Ben. Indeed, Irons locking up Ben in a cell could be interpreted as a way of getting him out of the way so he could find and butcher Katherine with little trouble. Her love for Ben is so strong that she risks her life to traverse through the treacherous Raccoon streets to free and reunite with him in Ghost Survivors. Which makes it all the more heartbreaking that both of them die in the main game never getting the chance to reunite.
Giving these characters backstory just makes it sadder that theyre dead in canon. Kendo in reality, blew his head off a bit too early to be able to hear that radio. Katherine wasnt able to get the knife in time to defend herself, dying like a doll. The forgotten soldier, not even a name or a face, but I guess thats the point. Whether he died or survived his first encounter with Birkin, hes just a nameless grunt, dying to someone who had a much bigger influence on the story. And of course Sheriff Daniel. Just doing his job, with no idea what kind of monsters he was up against. Maybe if he was a bit more prepared, but sadly, Leon didnt get their in time to save him like what could have been.