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Tear Jerker / Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

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  • David's death.
    • And then there's Kirk's reaction. He tries to sit in his chair to absorb what has happened, only to fall on the floor. The distraught look on his face suggests he's not even aware that he fell.
    • It's made worse in that David saw his life's work fail right before his eyes, and he ends up being blown up with it.
      • Even worse; he died knowing that his life's work had failed because of him. His pride lead to the deaths of the other researchers on the Genesis Project, Khan and his followers, and the crew of the USS Grissom, and it was all for nothing.
      • Want to know what makes it worse (if that's possible)? Word of God says that the Genesis effect would have worked fine had the procedure actually occurred on a pre-existing planet like it was intended.
      • There's some more fridge sadness when you take into account things said in the previous and following movies. In the last film, David was afraid that Starfleet wanted Genesis for warmongering purposes and didn't want his life's work to be used as a military weapon. Come Star Trek IV, the device he devoted his life to in hopes of helping those in need is being accused of being a weapon of aggression by the Klingons.
    • 'Course, Saavik's rather harsh treatment towards David earlier doesn't help much. And for added fun, her blaming him for all the deaths so far is pretty much the last thing she ever says to him. That's some impressive emotional detachment, there, Saavik.
      • His saving Saavik, even if she wasn't his lover, was his being The Atoner, as if to say, "No. No one else dies because of me."
      • You can see Saavik struggling to maintain her Vulcan stoicism as she is given the responsibility of reporting to Kirk what transpired.
    • As if all the above isn't enough, pay attention to the rest of the Enterprise crew as they react to Kirk's heartbreak; notable are closeups of McCoy (Kirk's best friend next to Spock himself, and also a father) and Scotty (who lost his nephew in the previous movie). They barely knew David but they knew how devastated Kirk was.
    • Before collecting himself and destroying the ship, Kirk turns his chair around so none of the crew can see him and holds onto McCoy’s arm for dear life. His face also crumbles a few times like he's trying to not have a breakdown, which of course he can't do.
      Kirk: (to the crew) I swear to you, we're not finished yet.
  • The destruction of the Enterprise, which is truly the death of a character in and of itself, almost a wife to Kirk and a daughter to Scotty. This is the ship which saved Kirk and crew (not to mention the whole galaxy) so many times in TOS, and now they're forced to sacrifice her to save Spock.
    • Kirk's reaction hammers it in further. Bones' response is a good summation of all the sadistic choices the poor Admiral has had to go through over the course of the series and the films to that point.note 
    • If you thought the sequence of the Enterprise being destroyed in the film was bad, then it’s worse in the book, Kirk trying desperately to distance himself from the old girl, and tell himself it was just a machine, not actually grieving for her own destruction.
    • Scotty's reaction, however, indicates he's not upset at all. He looks up with a more interested, philosophical look.
  • Bones' scene with Spock in sickbay, showing that he really does consider Spock a friend/brother.
    Bones: I'm gonna tell you something that I never thought I'd hear myself say. But it seems I've...missed you. I don't know if I could stand to lose you again.
  • Perhaps a bit unusually, Kruge gets something of a Tear Jerker scene after the destruction of the Enterprise takes the lives of apparently his entire crew save Maltz. The very next scene we see Kruge in, he's hunched over in his command chair on an otherwise-empty bridge, head in his hands, grieving very visibly for the loss of his men: men that he had sent right into a trap. The moment passes quickly, but still.
    • He also has a moment when his pet is electrocuted during the volley from the Enterprise.
    • Klingons are obsessed with honor and dying in battle. Kruge let his men walk into a trap and die a pointless death, meaning it was his fault they died with such a dishonor. One suspects his vigor at fighting Kirk on the Genesis Planet is partly to avenge his men. Kruge doesn't even seem to particularly care whether he's killed or not, only that he dies in glorious battle and perhaps redeems his men in the eyes of Kahless.
  • "Forgive me, T'Lar. My logic is...uncertain where my son is concerned." To hear the pinnacle of Vulcan control wrestle with his emotions and admit that he cares more for his son than for doing the logical thing, it brings a tear to the eye.
  • "To absent friends." Especially when you consider that a fair number of the Enterprise crew were seen during Saavik's Kobayashi Maru test, meaning that they were a part of the training cadre, much like how Scotty was in charge of the Engineering cadets. To them, the crew weren't just a bunch of trainees; these were men and women that the senior officers had been teaching and getting to know, and they had just watched them get slaughtered during Khan's rampage.
  • Yes, Esteban was a bit of a "Rules Nazi", but it still brings a tear to the eye to think that him and his crew, a bunch of scientists on the almost-defenseless USS Grissom, were gunned down before they could even react.
  • When the scarred Enterprise pulls into spacedock, with a saddened Rand watching on.
  • Kirk reliving Spock's death when Sarek mind-melds with him. His whispers of "Spock..." and "no" are absolutely heartbreaking.
    • The Little "No" after "live long and prosper" calls to mind Spock's similar "I shall do neither" from "Amok Time".
    • There's also the fact that the entire time Sarek is speaking with Kirk, he is emoting. When he first speaks with Kirk alone, he is angry at Kirk supposedly abandoning his son's final request, and after the meld, he is ashamed that he was mistaken and saddened that Spock may be truly lost. Mark Lenard did a fantastic job in this scene of keeping Sarek's displays of emotion subtle but still noticeable, as if Sarek's just barely able to remain in control of them.
  • Spock's resurrection and the overjoyed crew.
  • "USS Enterprise, Captain's personal log. With most of our battle damage repaired, we're almost home. Yet I feel uneasy, and I wonder why. Perhaps it's the emptiness of this vessel. Most of our trainee crew have been reassigned. Lieutenant Saavik and my son, David, are exploring the Genesis Planet which he helped create. And Enterprise feels like a house with all the children gone. No, more empty even than that. The death of Spock is like an open wound. It seems I have left the noblest part of myself back there...on that newborn planet."
  • The moment Sarek realizes that Spock's katra is not with Admiral Kirk, meaning that, until Kirk brings up the possibility of Spock entrusting his katra with someone else, Sarek believes that Spock is truly gone. Sarek's apology for the way he lashed out at him upon his arrival, believing Kirk had ignored this last act for Spock, is not Vulcan stoicism in the face of emotion. It is the dull and flat emotion of that moment of realization that it is all over, and nothing can be fixed, the emptiness of a man who has outlived his child, and never had the chance to tell them how much they meant to him.
  • Also heartwarming, but for a lot of the movie, Kirk has no idea if bringing Spock back will work or not. He still tries, even when threatened he'll never sit on the Enterprise again, a fact that we were told over and over again was one of the most important things in the world to him.
  • The novel starts off with a wake for Spock, and Kirk even lampshades that it’s a miserable disaster: Scotty wasted out of grief for his nephew, Bones sounding wasted because Spock’s katra is in him, Saavik finding the whole thing humiliating and Kirk feeling desperately alone, rejected by both Carol and David, and admitting he’s spent a long time hiding pain from his crew.
    • The novel also details a falling out between Scotty and his niece (Peter's sister) as she blames Scotty for his death (he had joined Starfleet to emulate Scotty). It ends with her telling him not to speak to her again.
    • Chapel is in the book, and she’s dealing by dissociating, long having got over Spock as a crush, but losing him hurts far more as a friend.
    • Carol identifies and gives a private eulogy to all her friends (and lover) murdered in the Genesis project, ending up crying in Chapel’s arms.