Follow TV Tropes

This is based on opinion. Please don't list it on a work's trope example list.


Tear Jerker / The Force Awakens

Go To
"Whomever you're waiting for on Jakku... they're never coming back."

Thought everything was happily ever after when Palpatine was defeated and Anakin was redeemed? Think again. The Force Awakens proves there's still a galaxy of tears left to be shed.

All Spoilers Are Unmarked

  • Two of Rey's earlier scenes on Jakku show the remains of wrecked Star Destroyers and AT-ATs. Even though they were properties of the Evil Empire, there's something sad in seeing how these once-glorious-and-feared weapons of war have become nothing but junk. Neither the New Republic nor the First Order bother to clean them up. They're just...there, left behind, waiting to rot or be scavenged for parts.
    • The story of the giant wrecked Star Destroyer is explored in the book Lost Stars. And it's no less of a sad tale than the sight of it left derelict 35 years after its crash.
  • The Happy Ending Override for the three main characters from the Original Trilogy. It was inevitable given the nature of the sequel, but the years have certainly not been kind to Luke, Leia and Han.
    • The implication that despite the collapse of the Empire and everything Luke went through in the Original Trilogy, the Jedi Order has not been formally re-established, to the point their legacy and the Force itself is now regarded throughout the Galaxy as nothing but a myth.
      • The film reveals that Luke did manage to restore the Order...only for it be purged again by the Knights of Ren, which was aided by his own apprentice and nephew no less.
    • Advertisement:
    • That the peace and the full restoration of the Republic still hasn't been achieved after over thirty years is saddening in and of itself. Leia in particular, while as committed as ever to her cause, is described as "somewhat defeated, tired and pissed."
    • Entertainment Weekly describes that Han actually settled down and helped raise a family of his own during the Time Skip... only for some tragedy to cause a rift between them. By the beginning of The Force Awakens, he doesn't even have his prized Millennium Falcon, and Chewbacca is the only one keeping him company. Said tragedy turns out to be his son was Force-sensitive and went to be trained by Luke but something happened because of Snoke, and Ben Solo is now Kylo Ren.
  • The video clip from the TFA Blu Ray "Making of" documentary where we learn that the main reason Ben Solo turned to the Dark Side was because of Parental Neglect.
    • By the time Han and Chewie show up on screen, we discover that they must earn their living by capturing lethal alien species, risking their lives and their crew (who are implied to have all met a grisly fate when they captured the rathtars), and owing a large sum of money to some dangerous gangsters again, and his old talk-his-way-out trick doesn't work anymore. The gangsters themselves even lampshade this downfall by telling Han that they won't fall for his old tricks and that there's nowhere for Han to hide this time.
  • Advertisement:
  • A tearjerker for good reasons; when Leia and Chewbacca are reunited, what does he do? Smush her into a massive hug... which she reciprocates. Years apart, Chewbacca is still Leia's adoring friend.
  • Rey is described as having been "ditched" on Jakku by her family when she was FIVE, and had to grow up with no one else but herself to rely on for nearly fifteen years. No matter how resigned she might have become towards her situation, that's got to hurt.
    • It's made even worse with the revelation at Maz's castle that she knows they will never come back for her, but held onto hope out of a desperate attempt to keep from falling into despair. Her tears when Maz confirms this to her are heartbreaking to watch.
    • From Rey's flashback/flash-forward vision, we see Rey herself screaming as she is abandoned on Jakku, with Unkar Plutt holding her back by the arm and shouting at her to keep quiet. Rey, like Anakin, was very likely functionally a slave for the majority of her childhood, without even the love of a mother like Shmi.
    • Despite Rey's tough demeanor and impressive survival skills, it is clear that she has low self-esteem and is plagued with fear and doubt. She protests very little at Unkar Plutt's treatment, she seems easily discouraged, and she rejects three offers to leave Jakku permanently, made by one of her heroes (Han), her only friend (Finn), and possibly the first person to ever tell her she is special (Maz) because of a combination of doubt that she is worth anything more and fear that leaving will be worse.
    • When she and Finn are escaping from the First Order on Jakku, the pair are knocked to the ground by an explosion. Finn asks her if she's okay and Rey looks surprised for a long pause before she responds. It's probably the first time in her memory that anyone has ever asked if she is okay.
  • Rey and Finn get a front row seat to watching some pirates get horrifically killed and Eaten Alive by the rathtars, and flee in terror. Then Finn gets caught, and he just screams for his life because he already knew how bad they were. Rey, meanwhile, is horrified and starts shrieking his name and is close to tears when he's being dragged away helplessly to his apparent doom. Luckily, Rey manages to save him, but her horrified squeals when he's caught and Finn's own screams are pretty gut wrenching.
  • The terrible destruction waged by the First Order against the people of Jakku. We know the Empire killed Luke's family and burned his home, but here we get to watch them do it. They ransack a village and later a trading outpost, just to get their hands on what they want.
    • Blink-and-you'll-miss-it, but at the end of the first attack on the Jakku village, one of the stormtroopers lights up a flamethrower and starts burning down huts. We now know exactly what happened to Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru.
  • The conspicuously cute BB-8's sorrowful reaction when Finn says that Poe didn't make it. The poor thing looks like it just doesn't know what it's going to do any more. All astromech droids and their owners clearly share deep bonds, not just Artoo and Luke.
  • Finn confesses to Rey that he is not part of the Resistance, that he is a runaway Child Soldier from the First Order. He does it because he's scared of the Starkiller Base and what it can do. Does Rey get mad at him for lying to her? No, because he explains that when she looked at him, he felt like a hero. She understands completely, and is sympathetic when she hears that he was taken away from his family, like how she was abandoned on Jakku.
  • When Finn is understandably doing his best to run away from the First Order and tries to convince Rey to come with him, Rey's response is a heartwrenching "Don't go."
    • Made worse when you take the flashback/Force vision it triggers into account. Rey's so traumatized by her family's abandonment that the prospect of being left behind by her first friend sends her into a Heroic BSoD. Poor girl.
  • Finn's heartbreaking screams when Rey is kidnapped by Kylo Ren. You could see the desperation in his face.
    • Rey returns the sentiment later on after managing to just barely best Kylo Ren in their desperate lightsaber duel, she's utterly devastated when it looks like Finn is dead.
    • Made worse by the theme that plays during this. It's Rey's theme but... there's a big sense of helplessness that makes you feel like you should've done something to help save Rey from Kylo.
  • Rey's response to learning that it was Finn's idea to rescue her. She's trapped on Starkiller Base with a Sith Lord that attempts to Mind Rape her while she's strapped to a chair. Even though she overcomes his infiltration with sheer willpower and manages to do the Jedi Mind Trick on a Stormtrooper to undo her restraints she's also stuck without a ship in a hostile base. Also, she thinks that no one would come back for her, just like they didn't come back for her on Jakku. But Finn came back for her. He risked his life and the mission to destroy Starkiller base to save Rey. She then hugs him with a tearful expression and utter gratitude when Chewbacca tells her.
  • On Takodana when Han sees his son from a distance, there is so much sorrow and pain his eyes. It's probably the first time he's seen him in years.
  • While Han and Leia discuss their son, Han states his belief that what caused Ben's fall to the Dark Side is that he had "too much Vader in him", and Leia agrees. She doesn't refer to him as her father or even "Anakin". Even 30 years after his redemption, Leia still sees Anakin as Darth Vader first. Not her father, not even a Jedi, but as the ruthless Sith Lord who served the Empire. Despite Anakin's redemption and his dying wish that Luke tell Leia that Luke was right about there being good in him, his time on the Dark Side is an irrevocable stain on his reputation with his daughter.
    • Kylo Ren's disturbing religious devotion to Vader's image is sad in a similar way; Anakin's own grandson sees him as a symbol of Dark Side power, and is screwed up enough to see that as something to aspire to, even trying to mould himself into something similar. Ren imploring Vader's mask to "show [him]... the power of the darkness" is sadly ironic; in his final moments, Anakin Skywalker redeemed himself and rejected the Dark Side, but even in death, as well as by his own family, he'll always be remembered as the monster that Palpatine and his own Tragic Mistakes turned him into. It's a sad legacy for a man who once was and could have been a great hero.
    • As we saw at the end of Return of the Jedi, Anakin's spirit endured as a Force ghost, which means it's likely that he's bore witness to the enduring legacy of Darth Vader, as well as his grandson's corruption, and the twisted admiration of all the worst parts of himself that Kylo Ren carries. Like Yoda once said: "If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny." Decades after his death, Anakin's worst choices continue to haunt his loved ones, and the entire galaxy.
    • The simple fact that Anakin's daughter and son-in-law see him as a big part of the reason why their son succumbed to the Dark Side is heartbreaking. It is mitigated somewhat by the fact that Leia blames Snoke more than Vader, but she still seems to see her father as a dark influence on their family.
      • When Leia tells Han that he can bring their son back from the Dark Side, Han says "If Luke couldn't reach him, how could I?"
  • The destruction of the Hosnian System by the Starkiller Base. Picture Alderaan's destruction, then picture FIVE Alderaan-sized planets being destroyed simultaneously. It also helps the sadness that this time, we get to see the reactions of the people on the planets as they scream in terror of the impending doom from the sky. Doubles as Nightmare Fuel.
    • In the novelization's version of events, when the scene returns to the Resistance Base as they are delivered the news, C-3PO looks around to see that Leia has fallen over. Like with her husband later in the film, she felt all those billions of deaths clearly through the Force.
    Leia: There has been a great disturbance in the Force.
  • Artoo, the plucky little droid who survived all six previous films is so devastated by Luke's absence that he goes into a low-power mode for several years. It's essentially the robotic equivalent of an Angst Coma.
    • Heck, watching BB-8 try to get some kind of reaction out of old Artoo is pretty harsh, only stopping to hang its head sadly when Threepio tells him that he's probably not snapping out of it any time soon.
    • A tie-in book mentioned that Threepio still regularly talks to the unresponsive Artoo, fusses over him and even finds ways to argue with him. He misses his counterpart dearly.
    • Artoo's Angst Coma gets even harsher after Kenny Baker's death in 13 August 2016.
  • At the end of the film, Kylo Ren stands in Finn and Rey's path before they can return to the Falcon. When Rey tries to shoot him, he knocks her into a tree. Finn quickly checks on her, only to hear Kylo Ren approaching, and knows who Ren wants. He lights up Luke's lightsaber with a determined but terrified expression, daring Kylo Ren to "Come and get it!" while knowing at best he's buying time for Rey to get to the Falcon. He still keeps charging to protect her, expecting to not survive.
  • A slowly reviving Rey then returns the favor after she sees Kylo Ren slashing through Finn's back and leaving him in the snow. Finn needs her help, but she's also not a lightsaber user. She charges into the fight. While Kylo Ren fights, he insists he could teach her the way of the Force. Realizing she now has a chance to save herself and Finn, Rey goes into Tranquil Fury to tap into the Force and turn the tide.
  • Because Kylo Ren put him in a coma, Finn doesn't get the chance to travel with Rey to find Luke, or to reunite with Poe after the battle. Rey has to leave him though she promises to come back and Poe can only make sure that Finn gets medical attention.
  • The most likely reason why Leia doesn't fly with Rey to reunite with Luke; after their narrow victory over the Starkiller Base, she has to regroup the Resistance and rebuild the government after five planets were destroyed. She's always been a leader, and she won't abandon her people in a time of crisis, even to see her brother again.
  • Luke's reaction to seeing his father's old lightsaber again. He almost looks like he's going to cry, but you don't know if it's out of joy or sorrow, and he probably doesn't know himself.
    • The way Luke and Rey look at each other here. Luke looks haunted and filled with regret (if you look closely, you can see there are tears in his eyes), and Rey desperately holds out his old lightsaber, looking simultaneously awestruck, afraid, and also like she's going to cry. Then the camera pans around them as they both continue to stare at each other, then the movie ends.
    • Consider also that he's seen a lot, even before recent events. He's been fighting his entire adult life, in galactic conflict that never quite seemed to end. He's seen friends die. He's seen comrades die for his sake. After he became a legend, he might have seen people die in his name. When the massacre of his students finally broke him, he went into voluntary exile. It was a chance to retire from the galaxy and have peace at last, free from the pain of endless war. And now he's being called back. Maybe those tears in his eyes are because he doesn't want to go back and start living through all that pain again.
    • During his Mind Probe of Rey, Kylo Ren talked about how, when she was alone on Jakku, desperately seeking family and comfort, Rey dreamed of an island — most likely Luke's island, the place where Luke himself was all alone in self-imposed exile. It's possible she's been anticipating this moment through the Force for most of her life, and it can only be a tremendously emotionally charged and momentous experience for both of them.
    • The looks on Luke and Rey's faces as they stare at each other, and the complete ambiguity of what they mean. Rey could be holding the lightsaber out to Luke like "here, look what I have, am I worthy to learn?" or "here, this burden is yours, take it from me." Likewise, Luke could be looking at Rey thinking "At last, the Force has guided the right apprentice to me," or "I don't know if I have the strength to go through this all again." Rey isn't sure what she wants, Luke isn't sure if he can give it to her, and the doubt and possibility in that one, lingering shot is the most emotionally powerful moment in the film.
  • A relatively minor one, revealed from the novel Before the Awakening: That stormtrooper who shouts "TRAITOR!" on Takodana? He was one of Finn's old squadmates. Puts his indignation in perspective, as his anger stems from a more personal place of having been betrayed by a teammate rather than just feeling reviled at Finn out of loyalty to the First Order.
  • A Fridge Tearjerker for Anakin Skywalker. Just imagine the heartbreak on his face when he realizes that his very own grandson, Kylo Ren, is blatantly admiring him for his atrocities, murders and mistakes as Darth Vader. As if the guy didn't screw up badly enough in the Prequel Trilogy.
  • During the scene where Captain Phasma discusses "FN-2187"'s defection with General Hux, there's a Freeze-Frame Bonus—if you look at the screen they're staring at, you can see Finn's baby pictures in the corner. Sure, you heard Hux talk about training stormtroopers from birth, but actually seeing the evidence of little baby Finn, taken from his family to be conditioned, is just a little bit heartbreaking.
  • The death of the stormtrooper who leaves Bloody Handprint to Finn. Sure, he works for the First Order, but you can tell even without Finn removing his mask that Finn was horrified by his death.
    • According to the Visual Dictionary, not only was he one of Finn's squadmates during training, but he was also so inadequate at being a soldier that the rest of his squad (sans Finn) made fun of him on a regular basis. Not only that, it was so bad that Phasma reprimanded Finn for protecting him, and ordered Finn to just let him die the next time he gets in trouble.
  • When Snoke reveals Han has BB-8, there's just enough of a pause before Kylo Ren claims that [his father means nothing to him to question his sincerity.
  • Quite possibly the saddest scene in the entire Star Wars franchise: the death of Han Solo.
    • While preparing to blow up the Starkiller base, Han spots his son Kylo on the bridge over Starkiller’s main shaft. He almost walks away… then goes to the bridge, calling Kylo by his real name...
    Han Solo: BEN!
    Kylo Ren: (freezes in place)
    • Han walks out on the bridge, asking Ben to take off his mask so he can see his face again. Kylo, taking it off, claims that Ben is gone, but Han insists that he’s still in there somewhere. What makes it worse is that the script describes Han as taken aback despite himself at seeing his son as a grown man for the first time. Kylo Ren was so young when he fell to the Dark Side...
    • The following conversation ensues:
    Han Solo: Snoke is using you for your power. When he gets what he wants, he'll crush you. You know it's true.
    Kylo Ren: It's too late.
    Han Solo: No, it's not. Leave here with me. Come home. We miss you.
    Kylo Ren: I'm being torn apart. I want to be free of this pain. I know what I have to do but I don't know if I have the strength to do it. Will you help me?
    Han Solo: Yes. Anything.
    • There's a painful ambiguity about Ben's dialogue - it's possible that it filled Han with the fear that Ben is very close to suicide, and Han takes the risk of getting close just to stop that happening. Worse, it's possible that Ben was doing this deliberately as a trap.
    • It's also possible that Ben was torn in three directions at that scene: that part of him wanted to surrender to his father and go quietly, another part of him really wanted to die, either by his hand or Han's... and the third part wanted to commit patricide in order to be "fully rid" of the Light. Ben's fateful action may very well have been literally a spur-of-the-moment thing.
    • During this particular part of the scene, most viewers probably had a feeling what was going to happen... but the scene is so powerfully done you're praying it doesn't go that way. Alas...
    • Ben almost hands Han his lightsaber… only to grip it, refusing to let go, then turn it on and stab him through the chest. As he crumples, Han reaches out and cups Kylo’s face, expression sorrowful yet understanding. It’s as if he knew this was going to happen, and has already forgiven Kylo for it. His body then falls silently into the void below.
    • You can almost hear Han saying "I still love you, son," with his eyes as he dies.
    • Kylo's final words to Han shortly before the latter falls off the bridge? "Thank you."
    • Chewie, watching from a distance, roars in anguish before going berserk on the stormtroopers and even manages to wound Kylo in anger before triggering the bombs that light the whole place on fire. Fridge Sadness sets in when you realize that Chewbacca failed to honor his life debt.
    • It might be even worse than that, considering the very strong possibility that he knew Ben as a child. Being a very close friend of his father, it is hard to imagine that they wouldn't have known each other at the very least, or even been friends themselves. And given Chewie's devotion to Han vis a vis the Wookiee Life Debt, it's entire possible that Chewbacca was Ben's Honorary Uncle.
      • Damn... note 
    • Rey and Finn's reaction to Han's death — the former is sobbing and the latter is wide-eyed and gasping with horror. Han had become a surrogate father figure to them both especially since neither grew up with parents and not only are they horrified and filled with grief, but they start firing on Ren shortly after Chewie. Also in the forest scene, as scared as they are of Kylo, both of them overcome their fear to try and earn payback for Han.
    • Leia’s reaction back at the base. No tears, no wailing, just being quietly overcome with despair as she feels her husband's death through the Force. Her reaction to this one death is similar to what Obi-Wan had in reaction to an entire planet dying. She feels her husband die and has the stuffing knocked out of her so badly that she has to physically sit down because she just cannot stay standing up anymore.
    • Also remember the last thing Leia ever said to Han. "If you see our son, bring him home." And earlier, the much longer conversation where Leia tried to convince Han that he could reach Ben as his father. The moment she senses Han's death, you just know she realizes that she effectively sent her husband to his death, convincing him to stand in front of a lightsaber-weilding lunatic. And when she hugs Rey when she returns to the Resistance base, Leia's wearing a very obvious and large ring on one finger. In all likelihood, that's her wedding ring and she's showing that a part of her never stopped being Leia Solo.
    • When the Millennium Falcon comes back to pick up Rey and Finn from the destruction of Starkiller Base, it isn't Han in the pilot's seat, it's Chewie. He just looks absolutely heartbroken while flying the legendary ship without the old captain.
    • The sadness lingers on after the battle ends. While the whole base is cheering for their victory over the First Order, Leia silently walks toward the Millennium Falcon before embracing Rey, who had come to see Han as a father figure herself, while Chewbacca just retires into a corner, mourning his fallen friend. All while a Dark Reprise of "Han Solo and the Princess" plays.
    • Shortly after Han dies, Starkiller Base is promptly destroyed by the Resistance. Even on the off chance he survived the fatal wound and the fall that followed, it's highly unlikely that he could get off the planet in time before the whole thing exploded; a dark Call-Back to the line Han said to Leia regarding Luke's fate on Death Star II. This time, Han was on that thing when it blew up...
    • It's made even worse when you realized that Han isn't a Jedi. That means he won't come back as a Force Ghost like Obi-Wan, Yoda and Anakin. The legendary smuggler is dead, pure and simple. He's gone forever.
    • It's especially heartbreaking on a meta level as well: Han Solo is one of the most iconic and beloved film characters of all time. Generations of fans have grown up with him, and now he's dead. Some have commented on YouTube that it feels like losing a friend or a family member.
    • Fans had hoped to see the main trio of Han, Leia and Luke together in the same scene again and it will never happen.
    • Also, according to Word of God, Harrison Ford wanted Han to be killed off as early as Return of the Jedi, so if Han did die back in 1983 then it wouldn't have made nearly as much of an impact as it did in 2015.
    • Han's death can be likened to the deaths of many other iconic characters, such as Superman, Spock, Optimus Prime, Dumbledore, Kenny (when he died for real in the fifth season), Godzilla, and Col. Henry Blake, just to name a few. Even though Superman, Spock, Optimus, and Kenny came back (Kenny dies as a running gag, and almost every subsequent incarnation of Optimus Prime has died and come back to the point fans have been desensitized, fully expect it to happen once per series, and are surprised if it doesn't), Han Solo stands with them.
  • How did Kylo Ren feel about killing his own father? According to the official screenplay, he felt weakened and horrified at his actions. Afterwards, he looks disheveled, desperate, and frighteningly unbalanced, clearly suffering mentally from the shock of killing his father.
    • The moments preceding Han's death is as heartbreaking as the scene itself. Because, behind the metal mask and black cloak, Kylo Ren is still a child. A scared, lost child, on the edge of a horrible choice. Once the facade drops, it's all too obvious how broken he is. Trembling lips and tear-filled eyes, the expression of an injured child. Ben Solo isn't gone, he's just trapped. A little boy entombed within the creature of the Dark Side that calls itself Kylo Ren.
    • The novelization makes it worse. According to it, instead of feeling stronger, Kylo Ren feels significantly weaker because of it.
    • This revelation makes Kylo's previously amusing breakdowns something much darker. Reacting to bad news with destruction and anger is something a child would do. Deep inside, Kylo Ren is a little boy entombed by the dark.
    • Did Snoke know that this was going to be the effect on Kylo Ren? Kylo's assumption seems to be that the deed was supposed to cut him off from the 'light' and his compassionate feelings altogether- but for Fridge Horror it's possible that Snoke not only wants to destroy anyone who Kylo could possibly love (and thus avert the Heel–Face Turn undergone by Vader) but knew that giving Kylo himself a sense of being utterly debased and irredeemable actually serves Snoke by ensuring Kylo's dependency (a form of psychological abuse that's recorded in gang leaders and similar- victims living with their sense of self dominated by shame are easier to control and often believe they can never leave their situation)
    • Snoke made his protege dependent on him and molded him with his shame, just as Palpatine did to Anakin.
    • Knowing all of the above, the fight against Kylo takes on a bit of a tragic bent. It's no longer the two daring heroes against the cruel villain who killed their friend. It's two scared and furious souls against a boy who never grew up, who was manipulated and psychologically abused until he became a weapon to be pointed at whatever Snoke wanted, who was goaded into following his grandfather's path and manipulated by Snoke into murdering his own father, and who is inflicting pain on himself despite his wounds in a desperate attempt to keep fighting and not fail at what he feels is the only thing he has left. He might be beyond redemption, but the fall of someone who had so much potential to do good is nothing short of a tragedy.
  • Furthermore, when Rey finally finds Luke Skywalker, you see that there appears to be a little memorial in front of Luke. Did he build that himself? And how must he have felt, knowing that because of his failure with Ben, his closest friend was killed? And then it turns out that, having cut himself off from the Force, he didn't feel Han's death.
  • For those that read Expanded Universe, the real tear jerker is that, regardless which universe, Han's son is destined to fall to the Dark Side. What's worse is that Ben doesn't have a sister to redeem him, like Jacen had Jaina (though in Jacen's case, he was redeemed shortly before his death).
  • The revelation that, after much fan speculation, Starkiller Base was in fact the planet Ilum. Having been teased in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, where the planet sports a giant equatorial trench similar to Starkiller Base, the Visual Dictionary for The Rise of Skywalker officially confirms that Ilum was converted into Starkiller Base by the First Order. Not only is this horrifying enough, it's yet another blow to the Jedi Order as their most sacred and holy site was desecrated and turned into a planet-killing superweapon of mass genocide. Ilum was a peaceful world that went untouched for centuries, save for when eager and excited younglings would journey to the ice world to find the kyber crystal for their lightsaber, and the Empire strip-mined it to the extent that an entire chunk of it's crust was carved out, before the First Order finished the job and installed the superweapon. It makes the destruction of it even more of a gut punch, tempered only slightly by the fact that the Jedi would have wanted it destroyed rather than being used to destroy entire inhabited systems. Anyway, this is still sad especially to those who saw the planet in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: