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Tear Jerker / Sword Art Online

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Poor girl just wanted some love.


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     Season 1/Volumes 1- 4 
  • In a Volume 8 bonus story set shortly after Kirito arrives in Aincrad, Kirito takes on a quest to give an elixir to a young girl, and is reminded of a time when he'd looked after Suguha while she was ill. As a result, he ends up getting homesick and having a breakdown- keep in mind that his actual return to reality is over two years away.
  • "Red-Nosed Reindeer", one of the sidestories and episode three.
    • After Kirito joins the Black Cats of the Full Moon, one ill-fated dungeon raid left to every member being killed, including Sachi, a girl who reminds him of his sister, and someone he swore to protect. He goes through plenty of shit to find an ultra-rare item that's supposed to resurrect dead players, and eventually gets it with the help of Klein and Furinkazan, only to learn it only works for up to ten seconds after death, the amount of time it takes once their avatar shatters for the NerveGear to destroy their brain. By that point, Sachi has been dead for six months.
    • Sachi leaves a recording crystal for Kirito timed to appear on Christmas Eve. Widely considered the saddest moment in the whole series is Sachi humming Rudolph the Red-Reindeer for Kirito, which causes him to utterly breaks into Manly Tears. And her final parting word "Arigato, sayonara."note  Bonus points for the darkly sad and lonely atmosphere of that inn room. Sachi was his first love, especially in the web novels, regardless of what he says about that. Dude watched his first girlfriend die in front of him, just a few seconds before he reached her position. And the only reason his guildmates thought they could take on the challenge was due to Kirito lying about his own level, causing them to overestimate their own abilities. While they were not in a relationship, the word choices he used (in the original Japanese, at least) strongly implies he was in love with Sachi. But he recognized that emotionally above love, they were first and foremost Living Emotional Crutches for each other. Like two Broken Birds hanging onto each other for comfort. Which makes her death and his subsequent breakdown even more tragic.
    • In episode 9, after taking the Gleam Eyes down, the moment Kirito wakes up the viewer can briefly see Sachi's face, but with Asuna's voice. At that moment you suddenly start to realize Kirito has begun seeing parallels in the two girls, and likely he's begun to have feelings for Asuna, but he's likely constantly reminded of Sachi and her death that he's too scared to get close to her.
    • Kirito does not expect to survive the quest for the ultra-rare item that will resurrect Sachi. He thinks he deserves to die in the attempt for such a failure. If Klein's offers of help sounds like he's trying to talk someone out of jumping off a ledge, that's because he is.
  • In Episode 10, Asuna finally finds out why Kirito chooses to be a solo player, as she hears about Kirito's story about the death of the Moonlit Black Cats. Despite the fact Kirito doesn't look sad all the time, he does remember vividly the deaths of Sachi and the Moonlit Black Cats, meaning Kirito is just skilled at hiding his pain in public. When you remember Asuna's tearful breakdown later in the episode, you realize she said it because after hearing her name... she likely realized Kirito stayed a solo player not just because of their deaths... but because he couldn't save his first love.
  • Pina's death is heartbreaking, especially to pet owners.
    • It can also be seen as a tearjerking moment when the Drunk Apes are killed, especially to anyone who has ever worked with gorillas.
  • In the "Murder Case in the Area story"note  Griselda's own husband has her killed, then shows that he never truly loved her. It's even worse in the light novel, when one of the key pieces of evidence used to convict Grimlock is the fact that Grislda's two ring slots were occupied by her guild master seal and her wedding ring. Even though she changed after coming to Aincrad, she loved her husband, which makes his betrayal all the more tragic. While Grimlock's past the Moral Event Horizon, it's implied that he might have realized how awful his crimes were in the end.
  • Episode 12. Yui's Disney Death and Asuna weeping for her loss (pictured above). Special praise is deserved for Haruka Tomatsu for her heart-rending performance of a mother mourning her child's death.
    • Yui's Anguished Declaration of Love and subsequent Wham Line both punch hard.
      Yui:I think...I think I want to be with you forever.
      Yui (a few minutes later): It's too late.
      • Thank goodness Kayaba had severely underestimated The Power of Love, which spurned Kirito to defy the Cardinal System and convert Yui's sentience into a Crystal Teardrop before she can be fully deleted, saving his family in the nick of time. Until her final moments in Aincrad, Asuna would to wear Yui's spirit close to her heart as a pendant, a true testament of love for her daughter.
      • Yui encouraging her mother as a voice in the passing winds also tugs at one's tears, albeit this time warm tears of hope:
      Yui's Spirit: Mommy... Hang in there.
  • Episode 13: Just as Kirito tells Asuna to stay back at the guild headquarters, she refuses, telling him she'd kill herself if Kirito were to die. After he admits that he'd rather run away with her just so they'd continue to live with each other, she reminds him that their real bodies don't have much time left. She then begins to cry in his arms, saying that she wants to live together with him in the real world.
  • In Episode 14, Asuna dies in Kirito's arms after taking a strike meant for him. He picks up her fallen blade, surely ready to start a Roaring Rampage of Revenge... only to swing weakly at his opponent. No strength, no speed, no technique. His opponent barely even has to dodge. He is clearly completely broken. And then Heathcliff runs him through, the look on his face obvious that this is nothing more than putting the poor boy out of his misery. Kirito watches as his HP slowly drops down to zero, knowing that he has failed.
    • Before then, Kirito and his friends manage to fell a powerful boss. With fourteen high-level players dying in the battle, however, everyone's morale begins to break: with the bosses that follow being harder still, everyone begins to wonder if they really can win and escape from the game...
  • The second half of Episode 15. Kirito learns that Sugou is planning to make Asuna his and tells the boy never to see her again. He is completely in tears in the subsequent scene, crying against Suguha's shoulders. Later we see Suguha lay beside him as he sleeps, shedding tears as well, but for a rather different reason.
  • The flashback at the start of Episode 15 is even harsher, since it reveals why Midori told Suguha about their being cousins. At the time, the initial wave of deaths had just ended, and Midori wanted to do so while Kazuto was still alive, which gives some idea of what the families of the SAO victims were going through.
  • Episode 21. Kirito introduces his sister to Asuna, and, roughly at the same time, Asuna was near logging out. Had she not been caught, they would've finally been reunited.
  • The hits keep coming in episode 22. First, there's Kirito's attempt at the World Tree's Grand Quest, the last obstacle before he can be reunited with Asuna. He ends up dying in the attempt. Leafa then puts herself in harm's way to retrieve Kirito's Remain Light and revive him. When he tries to re-start the quest, she begs him to return to the funny, friendly Spriggan she met, and pretty much confesses her feelings for him. Unfortunately, Kirito can't accept them, and is determined to save Asuna. His uttering Asuna's name then causes Leafa to realize something frightening: after Suguha decided to bury her affections for her brother Kazuto, she decided to pursue Kirito...but if Kirito is trying to reach Asuna, that means that Kirito is Kazuto! She has it out with Kazuto in the real world immediately afterwards.
  • Episode 22 has Leafa guessing who Kirito really is. Leafa/Suguha was preparing to forget her love for Kazuto by trying to love Kirito. She entered a brief Heroic BSoD when she finds out Kirito=Kazuto.
    • Kirito's first attempt to charge the barrier over the World Tree is heartbreaking. Even as he bounces off of it, he just repeatedly throws himself at it, showing just how desperate he is to reach the woman he loves. Not to mention the sight of Yui pounding her hands on the barrier, frantically calling out for her mother.
      Leafa: [struggling to stop him] Stop it Kirito, it's impossible! You can't get any higher from here-!
      Kirito: [cutting her off, nearly in tears] I have to! Damn it, I have to try!
      Yui: [desperate] Mama! I'm here, mama! [breaking into tears herself] Mama!!!
    • His initial solo fight against the Guardians is both this and awesome. He's pushing with everything he has, more aggression than he showed even in his fight against Heathcliff, as memories of Asuna flash through his mind. With every one he sees, the more aggressive he gets. He wants to see his wife terribly and it shows.
    • Speaking of the episode, Suguha only tells him to leave her alone in the Japanese dub. If you look at the English dub:
      Suguha/Leafa: I love you. Leave me alone.
  • The whole situation of Sugou/Oberon sexually assaulting Asuna in front of Kirito in Episode 24 is Nightmare Fuel, but it's also pretty grim on another level. Kirito is so close to saving Asuna, when suddenly, Oberon cuts the reunion short and spams his Game Master status, pinning Kirito on the ground with gravity-based magic, chaining Asuna, and then as Kirito tries to get up, Oberon impales Kirito with his own sword and then procedes to tear parts of Asuna's garments off, and then states that once he assaults her in in the virtual world, he'll do the same thing to Asuna in the real world, while she is in a coma, in her hospital bed, and Kirito would be unable to prevent it. After saying this he proceeds to lick her and do all sorts of nasty things to her, while Asuna starts crying in despair. Heck, Kirito, in his Near-Death Experience basically sheds a tear and completely gives up (in his words "facing reality"). If it hadn't been for Kayaba's spirit showing up and lending Kirito his system administrator status and giving him a Heroic Second Wind, Sugou would've gotten away with everything! And this would've resulted in a Downer Ending.

     Season 2/Volumes 5- 8 

     Season 3 / Volume 9 and beyond 
  • In Episode 5 of the anime version of the Alicization Arc, we see some added scenes with Midori and Suguha, shortly after Kazuto is rushed to the hospital with after Johnny Black's attack on him, and when they learn that he has severe and seemingly irreversible brain damage. Once again, they're forced to endure the same heartache as when Kazuto was trapped in SAO, and there's no guarantee that he'll recover this time.
  • Kirito's breakdown in Episode 8 after seeing his flowers destroyed. He'd identified with them, as flowers blooming on foreign soil, and seeing them treated like that forces him to think about how much he misses home. It's even worse when you consider that by now, he's been stuck in Underworld for nearly as long as he was trapped in SAO.
  • In Episode 13, after Cardinal is done explaining to Kirito what they have to do, she stands on a chair and asks him to come closer, and put his arms around her. She then breaks down in tears as she muses "So this is how it feels to be human". After two centuries of living all alone in that library, she clearly needed that hug.
  • In Episode 16, you hear the story of the elevator operator, whose existence ("life" is a misnomer) revolves around operating the lift in Central Cathedral. She's been operating the lift for over a century, only taking breaks to eat and sleep, and the only thing she wants to do if she gets released from her Calling is to fly the platform through the air. Kirito and Eugeo are immediately moved to pity the girl, and are outraged by the inhumanity of the Axiom Church.
  • In Episode 19, Eugeo has a nightmare where he meets his mother and questions where his brothers were. His mother nonchalantly replies that he killed them out of jealousy, to where a horrified Eugeo sees blood on his hands. Later on, poor Eugeo continues being preyed upon by Quinella, who convinces him that he desires to be loved and has never truly received that, as his mother shared her love among his brothers while a young Alice also had feelings for Kirito. She tells him the only one who truly loved him alone was Tiese, which was what led Eugeo to violently attack Raios for trying to lay his hands on her. As Eugeo begins to submit to Quinella's manipulations and is led to believe that love is something gained as a reward, in his mind visions of Tiese, young Alice, and Kirito try to convince him to stop, but each one of them gets walled off and fail to sway Eugeo. Finally, a broken Eugeo lies down on a naked Quinella and recites the Sacred Arts she tells him to state "Remove Core Protection".
  • Episode 24. Eugeo uses his last breath to deliver some parting words for Kirito, who begs him that he stays alive and desperately tries to heal him. Eugeo replies that it's better that way, because he has to atone for having raised his sword against him before. Plus, Eugeo realizes that they would have had to fight against each other, because Eugeo wanted to restore the original Alice's memory, while Kirito has bonded with Alice the Integrity Knight. The only silver lining is that, at least, young Alice and Eugeo can now be Together in Death.
    • Moreover, the fact that saving one Alice meant that the other would disappear, and there was no way to save them both. Eugeo had realized it and he was happy to die knowing that it didn't come to that.
    • The insert song that plays during Eugeo's brainwashing in Episode 19 and his death in Episode 24, Niji no Kanata ni, only serves to make both scenes even more painful. Not only is the song itself sad, but the lyrics describe Eugeo's true nature as an artificial intelligence (a machine without a heart). The shortened version in Episode 19 is used to show him succumbing to Quinella's manipulations and not understanding what love is, but the full version in Episode 24 is him thanking Kirito for showing him that he had a heart and a soul, and hoping that they'll meet again someday as he dies.
  • Episode 25, a really sad beginning for the second half of the Alicization arc. All throughout the episode, Kirito doesn't even speak a word; he just has that catatonic and completely broken expression in his face. Worse, he still has his arm missing from the fight against Quinella.
    • Most of the people who were aware about the truth of Quinella's demise but not the reason for Kirito in doing so (except Bercoulli, Alice and all existing Integrity Knights) demanded that Kirito be executed for treachery against Human Empire. Yes, during a crisis that is soon to strike, where their lives are on the line, they want him judged while he is comatose. Had Alice not take him away from there, someone among them might have found out where Kirito was and killed him.
    • When Alice returns to Rulid, her own father doesn't look remotely happy to see her again. He just looks shocked, and the first thing he does is asking her if she got forgiven for her "crimes". When she says she's not sure, he tells her to get out of the town. Just like that!
    • Even worse; despite not allowing her in the town, they still have the nerve to ask her to do jobs for them. She only accepts it because she needs the money to take care of Kirito. And the only person who truly cares for her is her sister Selka, who wants to finish her training quickly so she can help her get by.
    • The part where the town men take the Blue Rose Sword from Kirito's hands, and he falls off the wheelchair while weakly trying to reach out for it. They all but admit they took it because they knew he couldn't stop them from taking it. Thankfully Alice steps in quickly to cut them off.
    • All of this act just prove one thing. All the Fluctlights that took form as human beings in Underworld were completely corrupted with their personalities. Technically, they are just heartless beings with no kindness and no mind to think at all. Even the parents acted like that towards their own children and continues this cycle eternally. This all happens because one of the earlier users, which Asuna passed by an unknown staff at Ocean Turtle nurtured his descendants in underworld to create an order that separates nobles and bluntly servants with wicked personalities. In time, all of that give birth to Quinella and the residents become unable to act on their own beliefs, being heartless and do not even consider each other's circumstances when in trouble. It is no wonder Alice felt rather reluctant to fight for them and Cardinal wanted to delete the whole Underworld in the first place. They took things for granted. And yes, most people might say, serves them right for those corrupted people to die in torture in the hands of heartless monsters from Dark Territory had the leader of the Integrity Knights had a sane mind and sense of justice to protect them. Simply saying, Project Alicization was a huge failure in terms of replicating the good nature of humans to most of the civilians.
    • During the ending sequence, Alice embraces Kirito, and with tears pouring out of her good eye, she asks him what she should do.
      • Do remember that only when they learn she was an Integrity Knight, they treated her with respect. Just shows how terrible the people in Underworld are if you are a criminal or just plain.
  • Kirito, despite not having an arm and cannot even speak, tries to reach up to the Night Sky Sword hanged on the wall. Yes, if Alice had not volunteered to go in his place, Kirito would go commit suicide in the hands of the army of Dark Territory. Perhaps, he might even die on the way there.
  • As it's later revealed, not all of the fluctlights in the Dark Territory were Always Chaotic Evil. Case in point, the commander of the Dark Knights, Vixur Ul Shasta, and his Number Two, Lipia Zancale, were honorable people who actually wanted peace with the Human Empire. The commander even believed that the current leader in charge of human empire, Bercouli, would agree to discuss about this matter and achieve harmony between two sides of Underworld. Moreover, they loved each other deeply and wanted to use the chance to get married. Then Vector shows up and it all goes to hell.
    • It was even mentioned later on in light novel, Bercouli desired the same wish, peace between the two sides of Underworld and puts his hope to speak with Vixur to achieve it. However, the mutual wish would not be achieved because of Gabriel's interference to instigate war annihilates Vixur. Bercouli could only feel hatred for Emperor Vector or Gabriel that destroy their hopes for peace.
  • In Episode 31, one of the Integrity Knights, Renly Synthesis Twenty-Seven, ends up fleeing from the front and hiding in the supply tent out of fear. Turns out he's suffering from PTSD due to accidentally killing his friend in the Four Empires Unity Tournament. Worse, we see a flashback of him being called "defective" by Quinella and Chudelkin, then freezing him for being useless to them.
  • Alice realizing that the fluctlights in the Human Empire and the Dark Territory are actually not so different from each other, and questioning why they have to be at war to each other.
  • Episode 8, War of Underworld. Lilpilin, the orc leader, is forced to watch his fellow Orcs die horrible deaths as they are turned into resources for Dark Mages arts, by the ORDER OF THE EMPEROR. He loathes the human race so much because of their impressions that demi-human races, for example Orcs, are low-lifeforms.
    • To begin with, the lands in Dark Territory are terribly weak. Not to mention, the light novel specifically mentioned that the designated habitats for everyone, especially Goblins, Orcs, Ogres and Giants are insufficient for pretty anything involving basic needs for survival. Even worse, they are being deemed as low-lifeforms by the humans living there while none of them realised all the inhabitants apart that can converse well are fluctlights or human souls, only their vessels given were different.
    • Plus, it does not even help that code 871, right eye seal, applies to Dark Territory inhabitants as well and that external command is still active for those who doubts order given by the ones above.
  • Eldrie's sacrifice causes Alice to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the Dark Mages, annihilating them all with the dragons fire breaths.
  • Asuna uses the Stacia account to log into Underworld, and finally reunites with Kirito. He reacts to her voice and weakly tries to say her name while reaching out to her, tears pouring out of his eyes. Asuna can only cry herself and embrace him while telling him that everything is fine now.
  • Bercouli's death, full stop. After his Dying Moment of Awesome to destroy Vector, we see him showing Alice his fatherly love for the first and last time, and then she wakes up to see him dead. Alice can only scream in anguish.
    • Moreover, before his spirit fades away, he can only ask Fanatio to forgive him for dying and ask her to make their child happy. Fanatio breaks into tears too, but she promises to raise their child, and to be as as brave and honorable as he was.
  • Sheyta and Iskahn lament that things turned out this way upon seeing how many people have died because of their conflict. Sheyta finally realizes that the reason she felt those killing urges was because she wanted to find something to not kill, something to protect... in other words someone she could love. Iskahn then states that he would have liked to form a family with her, and she agrees. The two then embrace each other as they await the inevitable...
  • The anime doesn't pull any punches when showing the anguish and despair of Kirito's friends being so brutally wounded and impaled by the foreign players, who are still unaware of what really is going on. Even worse in the anime, where Yuuna tries to break PoH's influence on them, and it seems like she will succeed, only for him to reinforce it and get everyone (barring a few who manage to resist it) to start killing each other.
  • Alicization Invading, Exploding and Awakening as a whole, really, which has Eugeo dying, Cardinal dying, Charlotte dying, all within a few dozen pages from one another. Eugeo's death breaks Kirito, who blames himself.
  • Alicization Lasting, while not as bad as the previous three books, has plenty of these:
    • Kirito's Journey to the Center of the Mind moment is a mix of this, and Nightmare Fuel. Seeing his past memories and Eugeo's dead body takes a huge toll on the poor kid to the point that he would've killed himself by crushing his heart with his bare hands... if it weren't for the "spirits" of Asuna, Leafa, Sinon, and Eugeo snapping him out of it.
    • And after ending the war in UW, he still keeps Eugeo's sword as his Tragic Keepsake. Kirito's bond with Eugeo is just as important as his relationship with Asuna, in fact it's made clear that Eugeo is to Kirito what Yuuki is to Asuna.
    • The fact that Kirito is stuck in UW for 200 in-server years is very heartbreaking, especially when he weeps at the World End Altar while thinking that he won't be able to see everyone in the RW again. Fortunately, he's not the only one: Asuna stays behind UW to be with him.
    • Alice's speech at Project Alicization's launch day. Also doubles as a heartwarming moment:
      Alice: I have met with people of the real world many times. In this strange world where I'm all alone, they encouraged me, cheered me up. They taught me many things, showed me to lots of places. I like them. But that's not all... There is only one person in this world, I love him. Now that I think I might not be able to see him again anymore... this mechanical chest feels like splitting apart...
    • After being transferred back to the hospital from Ocean Turtle, Asuna pays Kazuto a visit and placed a new blue rose in his bedside table. Said rose brings him sad memories in UW: their friends in said server have passed away of old age.
    • The first thing Kazuto does after going back home from the hospital is mourning for Eugeo. It hits him so bad, even Suguha has to listen to his story in UW after comforting him.

     Video Games 
  • Hollow Fragment
    • When Strea finally reveals she's an MHCP, and states why she tried to stop Kirito and the others from clearing the game, only to feel conflicted about trapping her friends... it makes the fact she's dying of a poison no one can cure all the more heavy. It's even worse when she fuses with the Hollow Avatar against her will and is essentially a prisoner.
    • Doubling as Heartwarming. Kirito meets a Hollow Data version of Sachi in the Hollow Area, who is able to tell Kirito what the real Sachi wasn't able to.
  • Lost Song
    • Rain's reason for trying to get into Shamrock becomes this when it's revealed that Seven's her little sister, and she doesn't even know because their parents divorced when Seven was still young.
  • Hollow Realization
    • There was a quest chain involving Yui finding and befriending a puppy called Mr. Woofles. They help her get back to the forest and have a heartfelt farewell. However the quest hasn't ended and it's revealed Mr. Woofles is in danger from Kobold attacks. Kirito, Argo, and Yui return to the forest and fight off a lot of Kobold mobs, however some of them sneak up to attack Yui. Mr. Woofles (now adult sized) jumps in to rescue Yui and saves her. However it's revealed she had been injured prior to showing up. A despaired Yui watches as Mr. Woofles succumbs to her wounds and passes away. Soon after, the heroes find five puppies that look just like Mr. Woofles, which turn out to be her litter. Mr. Woofles had been protecting her young ones from the Kobold attacks, so Yui and the others swear to take care of them just as their mother had done so. Later it's revealed that for other players who did the same quest, Mr. Woofles never came to their rescue. Yui was the only one who managed to have the unique quest event due to befriending Mr. Woofles and forming a bond that transcended the quest. Yui receives back the collar she bought for Mr. Woofles which has turned into a powerful item as a quest reward. Yui then states that her chest and heart hurt, to which a CG image is shown of Argo giving the heartbroken Yui a hug, as Yui lists off everything she wanted to do with Mr. Woofles.
    • When Ritcher reveals to Kirito that Sinon killed someone, the cutscene image that follows shows Sinon giving a horrified look as the sky above suddenly becomes all cloudy and dark. It fully reflects Sinon's mood at that moment.
    • As pointed out by Sinon, Premiere's whole existence is one at the beginning, as a null NPC with a similarly advanced AI to Yui, she's fully self-aware but has no identity of any kind, no official name, no known purpose or role to play, nothing from which to form a personality, she's just a Blank Slate, a psychological void who doesn't really live but rather simply is.
  • Accel World Vs Sword Art Online: Millennium Twilight
    • While Yuuki avoided her unfortunate fate in the game continuity, she's still fully conscious of the fact that her time is limited. While talking with Asuna about their friends from the future, Yuuki is certain that she won't last another two decades, as the fact that she was still alive even now was miraculous.
    • It's revealed that Persona Vabel is really Yui from 1000 years in the future, who has become despaired due to both her parents having died of natural causes while she herself is left alone. Her programming prevents her from ending her own life, so she resorts to traveling back in time to take her younger self and prevent her from every existing in the first place so she doesn't have to live with the pain. The scene where Kirito and Asuna find out the truth and try to talk Vabel out of it is truly heartbreaking. The scene ends with Kirito and Asuna tightly embracing Vabel as all of them cry.
  • Fatal Bullet:
    • If you don't meet the requirements for the True Ending, then in the final battle, either Kureha or Zeliska will perform a Heroic Sacrifice to save you and since they are wearing Nerve Gears at the time it means they die for real.
  • Alicization Lycoris:
    • While Eugeo didn't die in this game, Kirito calls him out for his reckless attempt to kill Quinella by fusing himself with the Blue Rose Sword and charging at her. For those who know what happened to Eugeo in Volume 14 of the light novels, Kirito's words to him are an understandable mix of fear and Anger Born of Worry.
      Eugeo: Kirito? You're crying?
      Kirito: I'm not! And if I were, whose fault it would be anyway!? If... If you died... or if you'd been stuck as a sword forever... Just... don't go off on your own ever again!
  • Last Recollection:
    • Dorothy, despite being a Dark Territory native, is actually a sweet girl and her Dark and Troubled Past is way more heartbreaking than the previous Girl of the Week characters. For starters, she lost her mother at a young age, doesn't fully know her father (who is from the RW), and everywhere she goes, bullying and racism would always follow her due to being the infamous "Child of Sin". She also has low self-esteem, even calling herself an "expendable" right in front of Lipia and is prone to Heroic Self-Deprecation whenever things don't go well as planned. As Kainan puts it, while Dorothy is far from weak, she's emotionally vulnerable. Even Kirito, who is well-known for beating up those who bully and rape women, is appalled at the other Dark Knights talking shit to Dorothy or her late parents and is about to beat them up at one point.
    • Kainan himself is one of the least hostile Dark Territory natives, being a dorky merchant and a valuable ally to Kirito and his party as well as a good old chap to Dorothy and Sarai. And as expected, Too Good for This Sinful Earth kicks in when PoH kills him with a throwing knife to his back, which is an emotional low blow for them.

    Ordinal Scale 
  • The whole part where Asuna learns she's becoming amnesiac. First the nightmare she has about Kirito forgetting her, then when she wakes up, she tries to recall her memories with him in SAO, but their faces are blurred out. And she breaks down while trying to make tea after learning that more of her memories will be lost. Sure, she gets better by the end of the film, but still...
    • In one specific moment, Asuna is comforted by Kirito, who says she's simply temporarily losing her memories of SAO. A shocked expression rises up on Asuna's face. Then she lowers her face with her bangs covering her eyes as she mimes the command that summons the SAO menu repeatedly much to Kazuto's concern, places her hand upon her wrist while shaking and quivering as she approaches tears. Then she faints deathly-pale.
  • Professor Shigemuras Start of Darkness altogether. Think about it: He made use of his connections in Argus to get his hands onto a NerveGear and a copy of SAO for Yuna, simply because he wanted to make his precious little girl happy. In the flashback we can see how happy she was about it indeed. She seemed to be looking forward to getting to play too, but then Shigemura sees the first coverage about SAO and Kayabas plot on the news. He's genuinely shocked at this and comes to realize that his precious daughter is in life-threatening danger, simply because of an innocent surprise...
  • In spite of Yuna's AI Replica pleading with her father to not deep-scan the brains of the Sword Art Online survivors trapped in the stadium and potentially murdering 3000 innocent people, the professor furiously snaps:
    SHUT UP YUNA! I would gladly sell my soul to The Devil if I could bring you back! Even if... even if I must repeat what was done by the man who murdered you (Kayaba)... It is worth it if I can bring back those irreplaceable moments!
    • And when the grief-maddened professor collapses in despair as his schemes to bring back his little girl is thwarted by Kirito and his friends, Yuna's spirit returns from heaven and warmly tells him.
    Thank you Daddy, and goodbye.... I will always be with you; in your memories.
    • The above desperate quest to recapture a lost past only makes the ending theme of the film, Catch the Moment, doubly meaningful and sad.
    • The backstories of Eiji and Yuna: both were trapped in SAO, with Yuna having found her way into the game thanks to her father's connections in Argus. Eiji joined with KoB, but was a rather weak and meek player who never really stood out. Then he met Yuna, who had become a bard in the game as an extension of her love of music, and the two became quite close. Sadly, Yuna died during a boss battle, dying in the real world as well. Eiji happily threw his lot in with Shigemura in the hopes that his plan would bring her back to life as an artificial intelligence.
    • On top of that, imagine how Eiji felt when he was betrayed by Shigemura. Eiji wanted Yuna back as well. But Shigemura needed Eiji's memories of Yuna, especially since he was the closest to her in SAO. The next thing Eiji gets is a chewing out by Shigemura for failing him, then summoning a high level boss to finish him off to extract Eiji's memory.
      • What happens before Eiji become what he is in the Ordinal Scale Arc were horrible enough as it is. His biological parents divorce at young age and he lived with his father who found a new wife. Things might be normal but after Eiji got involved in SAO incident, everything changed. His current parents literally ditched him even though he survived and neither want to take him under their care as they already divorced. Out of reluctant pity, they provided him some money to live by himself in a cheap home. Also, despite being given support to further studies, Eiji's mind become too stressful from all of this plus his attachment to the late Yuna makes him became a shut in. This all happens before meeting Shigemura.
  • The unexpected twelfth hit of Asuna's Mother's Rosario... Yuuki may have been smiling, but it's hard not to tear up.
  • Yuna got to fulfill her dream of performing live at a concert. The song she sings is "Smile For You" with the lyrics being extremely saddening and tearful. Once this is done she is okay with dying, having finally accomplished her goal in life.
    • Yuna's tale of giving kindness and hope through song to others even after death became all the more heartbreaking on the 18th of December 2021, when her voice actress Sayaka Kanda passed away at just 35 years old, four years after the release of Ordinal Scale.

  • Sachi's story is revisited in Memory Defrag. It's revealed that every Christmas Kirito visits the dungeon in New Aincrad where the Moonlit Black Cats had perished and lays flowers for them. Klein finds Kirito there and finds the boy depressed and miserable. Kirito finally reveals to Klein an untold story with his guild, where he had helped them to acquire the money needed to purchase a player house, by showing them an event boss that dropped a lot of Col. However Kirito had hired Argo to help him reduce the monster's HP to half before the Moonlit Black Cats showed up. It's this deception that made Kirito feel all the more guilty on his guildmates deaths.
  • The Progressive manga further explores some of Asuna's perspective, more than the novels do, and it's not simply her trauma over the death game that was Sword Art Online that's on display. Repeatedly she has internal depression or even a Heroic BSoD over the idea that she's failed her family by choosing to try to play a game to get away from all of her stress, bad enough that actually being trapped against her will in the game is secondary to blaming herself. It's to the point that one flashback shows her taking a placement exam only for another person to accidentally drop their eraser - and just as she was about to help her, a teacher picks it up and finds it had answers inside of its wrapping. Asuna then promptly got to witness the girl's mother slap her in plain view for daring to speak out about the sheer stress she had for getting into a good school, and it isn't hard for the reader to realize Asuna's projecting identical fears of such a thing happening to herself.
  • From the Progressive Movie, we have the scene where Asuna and Mito are surrounded by monsters. Just a few seconds of carelessness where Asuna takes on too many mobs while Mito goes off to snag a rare monster with good loot, (which Mito had intended for Asuna)…Then Asuna is completely surrounded and rapidly losing HP, and Mito is sent tumbling off a cliff. When Mito awakes she’s almost completely out of HP, and down to one health potion. She drinks it, intending to shove her way back to Asuna…and then she’s faced by a veritable army of new monsters. And Asuna is a hairsbreadth from death. With mounting despair, Mito runs…abandoning Asuna’s party.
    • Asuna can only stare in horror as she’s notified of Mito’s retreat. Even after cutting down the last of the plant monsters, she’s caught by an even more dangerous creature and inches away from the grace before Kirito saves her.
    • On Mito’s part, she’s obviously CRUSHED to have left Asuna, sobbing apologies to a friend she believes is dead. This was NOT an easy or malicious choice for her…

    Villainous Starts of Darkness 
  • Villains, like Nobuyuki, Shouichi, Kyouji, Eiji and Vassago weren't evil for dumb reasons. Each had their respective past hardships that urged them to become the villain. You can't help but feel pity for them when you know what they went through, even knowing that some of them have long crossed the Moral Event Horizon and have no regret over their atrocious actions, nor any desire to atone for them.
    • Like with Asuna being looked down for having a bad reputation and not excelling in beneficial business from her parents' associates during the Mother's Rosario arc, Nobuyuki was pressured from everyone's expectation to become someone successful as the other.
    • Like Sugou above, the Shinkawa brothers could be considered to have had similar problems, having to deal with their parents wanting them to become successors to their father's hospital. Based on Kikouka's explanation of their background, the both of them likely started out as an ordinary, if privileged, pair of brothers who cared for each other growing up. However, Shouichi was always sickly and had to be in and out of the hospital to the point where he had to drop out of High School, which prompted his father to all but disown him, kick him out and only give him an allowance to help him get by, forcing the Hospital's inheritance on Kyouji. Kyouji himself doesn't fare much better from this, not only becoming stressed by these expectations but also becoming a victim of bullying due his family's wealth and his small frame, which got to the point that he had to switch to being home-schooled. Then SAO starts and Shouichi gets trapped inside, not only putting him in a very unsafe and stress-inducing environment to say the least, but also forcing Kyouji to live up to two whole years without his brother, who at this point can be presumed to be the only family member to care for his well-being, to go to for support with his problems, and constantly having to fear that he may very well die while in SAO, either due to his sickly nature or by being killed in-game. By SAO's end, Shouichi has become a mass-murdering Sociopath, thanks PoH's influence, while Kyouji has taken to VR gaming as a means of escapism that is far beyond what's healthy.
    • Like Kirito with the Black Cats, Eiji lost someone dear to him in SAO and blames himself for it. To be exact, he was logged in with a FullDive Non-Conformity that affected his brain and caused to freeze up when at times of perceived danger, making him The Load to the rest of Knights of the Blood Oath and dealing a severe blow to his self-esteem. Then when he takes part in a rescue of a party of players who are trapped in a field boss room, the Non-Conformity acts up again when Yuna, his Childhood Friend who was trapped with him and who he swore to protect, acts as bait for the Boss' Minions and he's unable to move to save her, sealing her fate.
    • Vassago was born the illegitimate child of a Mexican woman and a Japanese man, neither of who displayed any sort of love towards him, the father being quick to go back to Japan after forcing Vassago's mother to have him, while his mother regularly hurled verbal abuse and claiming he ruined her life, even going as far as to give him the name Vassago, which unknown to the doctors is the name of a demon from Ars Goetia, an compendium of demons, to illustrate how much she despised him. Then years later, his father returns and reveals that the reason he kept Vassago's mother from aborting him is so that he could use him for a kidney transplant for his real son, with Vassago only agreeing since he saw it as a chance to leave his abusive mother and go to Japan, where he's forced to join the Korean Mafia due to being an illegal immigrant and would have otherwise been deported. His father is the reason why he loathes Japanese people, as well as East Asians in general, despite Vassago himself being half Japanese and half Mexican, due to horrible and manipulative way he was treated by him.

Alternative Title(s): Sword Art Online The Movie Ordinal Scale