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Tear Jerker / The Incredible Hulk

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  • The last six months of the original The Incredible Hulk imprint in 1998-99, where the Abomination set up Betty Ross's death.
  • The Savage Hulk. No matter how many times he saves the world, how many people he helps, how many monsters he defeats, he can never find a place where he belongs, where people don't fear or hunt him.
  • The ending of Planet Hulk; the panel where Hulk holds Caiera's corpse in his hands as she begins to turn to dust and blow away on the wind is the single saddest image anyone can ever see in a comic book.
    • The Hulk is then left in a pool of lava surrounding him, reflecting on the irony of surviving the ship's detonation, and Sakaar's destruction, only getting stronger and madder, only for everyone around him, including his wife, to die. It's one of the rawest shows of grief that the Hulk has ever shown, and from a personality that wasn't exactly the nicest, makes it more poignant:
    Hulk: (throws a massive molten rock') GIVE...THEM...BACK! (quietly) Give her back.
  • The ending of Hulk: The End. After having what he claimed he has always wanted, after winning his battle against Bruce Banner and surviving in a world where humanity has destroyed itself, Hulk is finally alone. And he feels cold.
    Hulk: Banner... is gone, now. Got rid of him last night. Banner tried to... make Hulk die. But Hulk was too smart. Hulk was too strong. Hulk will never let Banner come back, because if Hulk does, then Hulk will die. And Hulk does not ever want to die. Not ever. Because then... then everyone who kept trying to kill Hulk... will win. And Hulk can't ever let them win. Even though they are gone... Hulk must still win. Hulk must never lose. And Hulk... Hulk doesn't miss Banner at all. Hulk is... happy to be alone. Yes, Hulk is... happy. Hulk never needed Banner. Never needed any of them. Because if Hulk needed someone... then Hulk would be weak. And Hulk must... must never be weak. Never. Because Hulk is... Hulk...strongest one there is. Hulk, only one there is...Hulk feels....cold.
    • This gets even sadder when you realize that the last word Hulk says, "cold", is in all lowercase. Everything he says— even normal speech— in the comics is usually in all caps, even words spoken in sadness or despair. Hulk is so broken on the inside, that his last word was written in all lower case.
    • And the reason Hulk refuses to let Banner die of a heart attack is on-par with Frankenstein's Monster for motivation.
      Banner: Hulk... don't... please... I'm almost there... you can come with me... it will be wonderful... all your friends will be there, and there will be peace... please...
      Hulk: Hulk doesn't want friends.
      Banner: Hulk... God in heaven, listen to me...
      Hulk: No! For years... forever... Hulk has listened to Banner, and Banner's friends, talking about how Hulk ruined Banner's life! Hulk made Banner's life! Banner was nothing before Hulk... nothing!
      Banner: It'll be different, Hulk! You'll have peace... friends...
      Hulk: Hulk doesn't want friends, because friends will hurt him. Everyone hurts him. Everyone hurts Hulk.
  • "Betty can't take it, so it's all up to me." says Red She-Hulk.
  • "Heart of the Monster" — Doctor Strange and Bruce Banner realizing that Hulk will finally be happy if they leave him in the Dark Dimension, eternally breaking and restoring the world in a constant battle with Red She-Hulk... even though it means "Bruce" will fade away.
  • As vile as he is, the Abomination is arguably as tragic as the Hulk himself. Unlike Banner, he's trapped in his monstrous mutated form and hates Bruce/Hulk because he can at least appear human. What makes it even sadder is that Blonsky has tried to make peace with the Hulk before, but his hatred and resentment inevitably drove him back to his destructive feud, eventually leading to his murder of Betty Ross.
    • Blonsky breaking into Mirthless Laughter after finding out he spent two years in a coma after a fight with the Hulk that ended in him falling to Earth from orbit is so heartwrenching that it even disturbs the Hulk, who notes that Blonsky's "laughter" sounds like crying.
  • Bruce Banner's early childhood. His father Brian was an abusive alcoholic who believed that his son was a monster due to his incredible intellect at a young age, and would constantly beat on him and his mother Rebecca. When she tried to take her son and leave Brian he found out and killed her by literally slamming her head onto the curb.
  • An old issue has Hulk befriending Crackerjack Jackson, an old hermit who gives him food, and even teaches him how to write his own name. Not too far away, an alien breaks two violent criminals out and gives them super strong handcuffs that power them up, but keep them together. The two convicts hate each other, but do well in taking down the Hulk. It turns out one criminal is Jackson's son, and because he was always working, his son blames him for leaving him alone and turning to crime, and accidentally kills his own father. Before either criminal can respond, Hulk goes berserk and destroys the powered band. Then he buries his new friend, and crudely writes his name on a tombstone.
  • "Amazing Grace." Hulk is taken to Cygnet VII, where he sees that the "Reds" are oppressing the "Greens." Hulk fights with the Greens and helps overthrow the "Reds." On his way back to Earth, he uses the ship's technology to monitor what is happening on Cygnet VII. He sees that the Greens learned nothing and that they are now oppressing the Reds.
  • Jarella's death. The Hulk goes through his usual fit of rage after finding out that The Defenders can't bring her back. Then it finally sets in that she's really gone, and he starts quietly sobbing.
    • The build up to the scene is heartbreaking. Told that medical science can't save Jarella he makes his way to Dr. Strange,convinced that the sorcerer can save her. Hulk being Hulk, his single minded progress causes untold chaos and lead to several forces converging to stop him - ending finally in the Defenders, led by Strange, confronting him in battle. The team just wants to calm and confine the Hulk before greater damage is done, but Hulk can see this only as yet another betrayal and attacks them.
    • When finally the situation has been resolved and Hulk having told his tale, Strange is willing to help - if he can. Turns out he can't. Jarella is not just wounded as Hulk told them she is, but dead, and even the Sorcerer Supreme can't reverse death.
    • Hulk's utter broken reaction when Strange admits he can't save Jarella. In his first rage response Hulk attacks the sorcerer, forcing Valkyrie to go to his defense further antagonizing Hulk. Hulk seems to refuse to believe that anything is impossible where his friends are concerned, only to be disillusioned.
  • The Savage Hulk with his defenses down in Immortal Hulk #12:
    Hulk... Hulk hurts. All the time hurts. All the time always. <crying> Why? Why Hulk have to hurt so much?
  • Indestructible Hulk has a scene where Banner is trying to finish building a revolutionary technology only for his intellectual compatriots to beat him to the punch every time. The kicker though? Bruce could have finished all those and reaped the glory before them despite having much lesser resources, if not for the time he spend on superheroics. Being Good Sucks doesn't describe it. Banner eventually loses it and smashes his work.
  • In issue #165, the Hulk fights his way free of a Mad Scientist named Captain Omen and leads the mutated deep-sea dwelling children of Omen and his followers to the surface they have been denied their entire lives. It's initially a happy scene, with the mutates reveling in the sun and wind, and Hulk enjoying a rare moment of pride and contentment, literally musing that he has done a good thing... and then the revelry changes to shock and horror as the mutates start exploding into bloody kibble. It turns out that Captain Omen and his crew forbid their children from returning to the surface because the same mutant physiology that lets them survive the incredible pressure at the ocean's floor makes them biologically incompatible with the lighter pressure of the surface — they just never told their children this. The last survivor, Captain Omen's son, lasts long enough to flee back to his father's submersible and beg to be allowed back inside, but is refused; Captain Omen and the other crew are are all sick from the temporary pressure change themselves, and if the environment inside is disturbed again, they'll die. So the sub sinks back into the ocean whilst the last mutate bangs at the door, thinking to himself that his father has got to change his mind and let him in, he won't just let his only son die... but he's dead wrong. The last shot is of the Hulk, alone on a gore-slick beach, scared and confused, completely unable to comprehend how it all could have gone so wrong.
  • Incredible Hulk #420, the AIDS awareness issue, has both the A- and B-plots hitting the tear-jerker territory.
    • The A-plot has Bruce reunite with his old friend Jim Wilson, who is dying of AIDS. A doctor with the Pantheon refuses to give him an experimental drug they're working on and Jim begs Bruce to give him a blood transfusion so he can get his Healing Factor. Bruce can't go through with it and Jim figures it out pretty quickly before he dies. Bruce spends the rest of the story lamenting his worry of turning Jim into a gamma mutate like him causing him to die.
    • The B-plot has Betty dealing with a man nicknamed "Chet", who has AIDS as well and is quickly spiraling down the Despair Event Horizon. Betty tries her damnedest to get "Chet" to get some sort of help. At the end of the story, he reveals that he had a girlfriend and had sex with her before he learned what he had. Betty begs him to go find her and tell her what's going on, only to realize that he's on train tracks. She begs him to tell her her name and he tries to... only for "Chet" to muse the train is moving awfully fast.
  • The Incredible Hulk (1968) Issue 189 ends with the Hulk leaving his kind friends, not because they rejected him, but because their acceptance was too much for a so-called monster like him to bear. He's crying while leaving the village, and his friends don't even know why.
    Katrina: You are not ugly, Hulk... you are gentle... you are beautiful... and you are loved.
    Narrator: As much as Hulk wanted to... Hulk could not stay in this place of new friends... new happiness. It was not right. Hulk had looked into Katrina's eyes... and Hulk had seen a man there... a good man... strong... gentle... but still a man! And Hulk... Hulk is only a monster!

Alternative Title(s): Incredible Hulk