- The entire film is of elder Zero reminiscing about Gustave, from his early years serving under him to Gustave's Heroic Sacrifice in intervening to save Zero from Fascist soldiers at the cost of his own life.
- The film's story of a past world is told with a bittersweet atmosphere, keeping in mind that the world and characters we are seeing are long gone. We see this from the very beginning with the story being presented as a double flashback, of the Author telling the tale and of Zero telling the tale to the Author.
- Gustave's character in general. While a lovable, officious, pompous blowhard, he's also shown to take dinner alone in his room. In complete silence. He's a relic of a bygone era that he himself didn't even live through. Elder Zero's quote near the end of the film perfectly sums up the character:Zero: To be frank, I think his world had vanished long before he ever entered into it. Though I must say, he certainly sustained the illusion with a marvellous grace!
- Zero's backstory - his father was murdered and the rest of his family was executed by firing squad, and his village was burned down, forcing him to seek refuge elsewhere.
- The death of Kovacs and his cat. Kovocs stood up for his client's last wishes and because of this Dimitri kills his cat who's corpse is dumped in the trash and then later kills him. It's awful enough to see any animal die, but seeing their corpse just end up in the trash would yank at any animal lover's heart.
- The Happy Ending Override that comes at the end of the film. When Zero and Gustave have won their hotel and can live happily ever after, they are stopped by a fascist patrol and Gustave in trying to protect them is gunned down.
- To drive the point home, after it happens a still shot appears of the Grand Budapest Hotel staff photo - Zero's second family, taken from him even faster than his first.
- And afterwards, elder Zero details what became of Agatha, who is not seen in the 1960s sequence: she and her infant child succumbed to an illness a few years after marrying Zero; an illness that is since that time very treatable, but killed millions beforehand.
- Elder Zero in general. It says something that the Author can sense how sad he is before they even meet properly. Considering how bitter he sounds when recounting how Gustave died and left him millions, you can tell he'd much rather have his friend back. Then there's the fact that he spent the rest of his life mourning Agatha. He's spent the majority of his money maintaining a failing hotel in her memory and even thirty-six years later hasn't even taken off his wedding band. He can't even think about her without breaking down in tears.
- Gustave died on the 21st day of the Occupation, and Agatha (and their child) died two and half years later from illness. After all of that struggle, Zero was happy with the people he loved for barely a slip of time. His happy ending had a very unfair expiration date. And then he spent the rest of his life alone.
- The last lines of the film, delivered by the Author: "It was an enchanting old ruin... but I never managed to see it again."
Tear Jerker / The Grand Budapest Hotel