Follow TV Tropes

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


Tear Jerker / The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Go To

  • The Tear Jerker moment comes during the sacking of Rohan, when Eothain and Freyda are hoisted onto the horse by their mother, and sent to Edoras to raise the alarm. Tears flow freely again when the three are reunited at Helm's Deep.
    • The worst part of it is that Freyda doesn't understand what's going on, and can only protest that "Papa said Eothain is not to ride Garulf! He is too big for him!" And then you remember that Papa is probably lying face-down in a ditch somewhere with half a dozen arrows sticking out of him... Or that Eothain does understand what is happening and is near tears. Hell, everything that happens to Rohan in TTT.
    • Even the arrival at Edoras is one for the siblings as Eowyn witnesses Eothain falling off the horse in complete and utter exhaustion. The poor kid most likely didn't get a moment of rest or sleep for the entire journey.
    • Also, a Fridge Horror moment. Yes, all three of them reached Edoras to be reunited. But that only means that Eothain was most likely drafted during the Battle of Helm's Deep, and who knows whether he survived to be reunited with his mother and sister again?
  • The (thankfully brief) period where Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli thought that Merry and Pippin were dead, either at the hands of the Uruk-hai or the Rohirrim in the confusion of the battle. Gimli is practically in tears as he finds a chunk of one of their belts on the remnants of the pyre. Legolas still seems confused by the concept of death, but he bows his head and delivers a prayer in Sindarin out of respect. Aragorn practically falls into a Heroic BSoD, kicking an Orc helmet, bellowing out a Howl of Sorrow, and falling to his knees. You can tell that it's hitting them twice — first, they couldn't keep Frodo safe from themselves because of the corrupting influence of the Ring, and then they thought they arrived too late to save the other two halflings.
    Gimli: [whispering] We failed them.
  • There's also Theodred's funeral, set to Eowyn singing a Rohirric funeral dirge. She's visibly crying as she sings.
    • On top of having to bury her cousin, Eowyn has endured her brother's exile, her uncle's slowly being corrupted by Saruman...after having lost her parents to orcs and heartbreak.
  • Théoden and Gandalf standing outside Théodred's grave.
    Théoden: Simbelmyne. Ever has it grown on the tombs of my forebears. Now it shall cover the grave of my son. Alas, that these evil days should be mine. The young perish and the old linger. That I should live to see that last days of my house.
    • The horrible, horrible moment where the recently healed Théoden looks up, and clearly having no idea of what's transpired, asks "Where is my son?"
    • The next line, when he looks straight at Gandalf and says, very quietly, "No parent should have to bury their child," and then the King just breaks down, not just from the loss, but because he wasn't really there for the last years of his son's life.
      • That line was added by Bernard Hill. He heard it from a woman who had lost a child, and felt that he had to add it. Damn good actors.
    • At the time J. R. R. Tolkien composed his first draft, his three sons served in England's fight against the Nazis. Given his own experience in World War I, Tolkien knew the odds.
      "O my dear John Ronald what ever are we going to do?"note 
    • The reference to Simbelmyne serves as a bit of Reality Subtext to further underscore the sadness of the scene, if ones takes it to be a reference to the poppies that bloomed on the battlefields of World War I and which served as a symbol of fallen soldiers throughout Europe and the Commonwealth nations.
    • As further sign of the depths of Théoden's pain: when Aragorn is trying to convince him of the futility of simply hunkering in Helm's Deep, that instead they should appeal to their allies. After Théoden enumerates how the Dwarves and Elves will be useless, Aragorn claims Gondor will answer if they ask for help. Théoden's response? "Where was Gondor when the Westfold fell? Where was Gondor when our enemies closed in around us? Where was Gon—?" It is extremely likely he was going to end with "Where was Gondor when I lost my son?"
      • Becomes even sadder when one knows Théoden's background: His mother was Morwen Steelsheen, who was from Belfalas and was kin to the Prince of Dol Amroth. She met and fell in love with Thengel, who at the time was living with his mother's family in Gondor. They married and had five children, including Théoden and his sister Théodwyn (Éomer and Éowyn's mother). Because of this, Théoden spent his youth growing up in Gondor, his mother's homeland, and spoke Sindarin and Westron more often than Rohirric. Théoden was intimately familiar with Gondor and it was his mother's beloved homeland. To Théoden, Gondor's inaction and inability to come to Rohan's aid was not just a case of an ally failing to meet their obligations. He very likely also took it as a personal betrayal.
      • The subtext of that line makes it worse. By the time Théoden breaks off, it's not just "Where was Gondor"—it's "Where was I?" Whether or not it's fair of him to blame himself for falling under Saruman and Wormtongue's control, there are several scenes hinting that he does.
  • The two personalities of Gollum/Smeagol talking to each other is creepy itself, but the things Gollum says to Smeagol are downright cruel and very familiar to those who have had emotionally abusive people in their lives, and/or suffer from issues with self-esteem and trust in others.
    Smeagol: But Master's my friend.
    Gollum: You don't have any friends. Nobody likes you.
    • To make matters worse, Gollum then proceeds to taunt Smeagol, effectively trying to get a reaction out of him. He starts by calling a liar and a thief, which Smeagol calmly brushes aside as if saying "No that is you!" But then Gollum says the one thing Smeagol cannot refute; he's a murderer. Smeagol immediately breaks down. Even after five hundred years and his attempts to convince himself otherwise, he is still clearly traumatised by what he did to poor Deagol.
    • "I hate you...I hate you..." a simple call back and verification to something that Gandalf said in the Fellowship of the Ring. Deep down, Smeagol hates both himself and the ring, but at the same time is drawn to the Ring's power. In other words, he is trapped in an abusive relationship and cannot get himself out of it.
  • When Aragorn falls from the cliff and everyone assumes he's dead Legolas looks actually grief-stricken without the confusion he had with Gandalf or Boromir. If it's him finally understanding what death actually means or if it's because it's his Aragorn specifically is up for debate but it still tugs at heartstrings.
  • The beautiful speech that Elrond gives to his daughter. The soundtrack and Hugo Weaving's perfect delivery combine together so well:
    "He will come to death an image of the splendor of the kings of Men in glory undimmed before the breaking of the world. But you, my daughter, you will linger on in darkness and in doubt, as nightfall in winter that comes without a star. Here you will dwell, bound to your grief under the fading trees, until all the world is changed, and the long years of your life are utterly spent."
    • It's even worse if you've read the books. Then you'd know that every word Elrond says is true, that she will spend her time with Aragorn, bear a son and at least two daughters, and then her husband will voluntarily lay down his life. Arwen returns to Lothlórien, where she used to live with her mother and grandmother and finds it completely empty, abandoned and silent, all her people having returned to Valinor, she lies down on the grass of Cerin Amroth and effectively dies of a broken heart. Her true tragedy is that she knew this would happen when she gave up immortality for her husband, and for love, she chose a path that guaranteed widowhood and isolation from her people, culture and family forever until the end of the world.
  • Faramir looking at the slain Haradrim soldier and wondering about the man's life. You can almost picture Tolkien saying the same about a German soldier.
    Frodo: Those who claim to oppose the enemy would do not to hinder us!
    Faramir: The enemy? His sense of duty was no less than yours, I deem...I wonder what his name is? Where he came from? If he was really evil at heart? What lies or threats led him on this long march from home? Would he not rather have stayed there, at peace? War will make corpses of us all.
  • Watching the shock and horror creep on Frodo's face when he and Sam learn from Faramir that Boromir's dead. Sam looks to Frodo flabbergasted, and all Frodo can think to say:
    Frodo: Dead? How? When?
    • It's not spoken of directly after that, but you can tell it has affected both Frodo and Faramir greatly.
    • The fact that Frodo is visibly shaken is also tragic in its own, Frodo did not hold ill will towards Boromir for his actions, most likely because he's the one who knows best about the Ring's fiendish influence.
  • The Extended Edition has a scene which sets up the relationship between Boromir, Faramir and Denethor. To wit, Denethor has always treated Faramir as The Un-Favourite, but Boromir and Faramir were the best brothers there could be and loved each other, so Boromir actually lays into Denethor for being so harsh on his baby brother... yet the tearjerking continues, as Denethor quickly brushes Boromir's complaint aside to set up the mission to Rivendell that will ultimately cost Boromir his life.
  • Faramir remembering the last time he saw his brother alive in the Extended Edition. Not only because of how it highlights how Faramir not only lost the only family member he ever had that believed in him, but also shows how deeply opposed Boromir was to having anything to do with the Ring, let alone trying to bring it back to Gondor.
  • "Gollum's Song" is both heart-wrenching and scary, much like its subject.
  • When the Men force Frodo to lure Sméagol to him so they can capture him in The Two Towers. It's terrible luck, because it invokes Gollum to come back and gleefully give Sméagol an "I told you so" regarding the lies he had told Sméagol about Frodo being corrupt. Gollum/Sméagol is so tormented, and Frodo's friendship was his one last hope.
    • Gollum's lack of hope will give you another shot to the heart during Sam's speech. Sam mentions that the people in all the dark stories were holding on to something that kept them going when they could have turned back, and Frodo asks what they're holding on to now. Gollum looks up, the look on his face practically begging for something solid to believe in. Sam's reply that it's the faith that there's good in the world and that it's worth fighting for only seems to let Gollum down harder, as he's been addicted to the Ring for so long that he doesn't have any faith in the world or in goodness left.
  • The fact that, after the kind hearted Sméagol personality drove away the cruel and abusive Gollum personality. The Sméagol personality gave an honest effort at redemption. But when he believed "master betrayed us", he allowed Gollum to come back, and he went back to being evil...
  • Wormtongue shedding a tear as Saruman addresses his 10,000 Uruk-Hai, realizing that his actions may have doomed his race to genocide.
    • Wormtongue's tear might rather have been due to utter overwhelmed awe at the massive army Saruman had amassed. (Note that his dialogue just before the reveal was that there was "no such army" as could take Helm's Deep.)
    • Actually, the Extended Edition scene featuring Saruman and Wormtongue's death in The Return of the King also seems to support the former; that Wormtongue still remembers that he was once "a man of Rohan" and is tormented by the fact that he sold Rohan out.
    • Brad Dourif stated that Grima was supposed to be a guy who didn't fit in and never got anything he wanted. Nobody likes him since Saruman's influence, he's no pretty boy like Aragorn or Legolas, he screwed up his chance of the only woman he had (Word of God according to a collectible card) honest feelings for by being really creepy and awkward... Bad guy or no, it's a little hard to not feel sorry for him, some dope who seemed to have just gotten way over his head with Saruman.
  • Not to mention "Where Is [sic] The Horse And The Rider?"
    • Particularly the shot of the little boy being handed an axe and having a far too large helmet placed on his both made quite clear the true horror of war, and wrenched at the heart as you realized his likely fate well in advance, even if they never did show it. And the mother sobbing in protest while they pull her early-teenage-looking son away from her to be kitted out.
      • It's also a depressing reflection of the last years of WW1-by 1918, Britain, France and most of the other Allied countries, as well as the Central Powers, had lost so much young men that they started conscripting teenagers alongside the elderly.
      • Just at the end of that shot: although the soldiers pull the teenager away to arm him, you can see one of the soldiers lay a hand on the boy's shoulder, as if to say: "It'll be all right, son. Be brave."
      • Later on, when the battle's nearly lost and the Uruk-Hai are breaking in, we cut to the terrified women and children under the fortress, breaking into despairing tears or clinging to each other in fear and dread.
      • "Who am I, Gamling?"
  • "The fires of Isengard will spread. And the woods of Tuckborough and Buckland will burn. And- and all that was once green and good in this world will be gone. There won't be a Shire, Pippin."
  • The death of Haldir and the Lothlórien Guard. Though he was only a minor character, seeing his last moments alive, looking in half shock at the dead bodies of his men gave some real insight into his thoughts. He knew he had led these men directly to their deaths, with their race fading and dying out he had taken a considerable number of them directly into a meat grinder to help their allies. And as none were seen hiding in Helm's Deep at the end, the film suggests they were all butchered.
    • "Tonight we remember those who gave their blood to defend this country. Hail the victorious dead!"
    • The death of Haldir was a tear-jerking moment, but seeing the anguished expression on Aragorn, who then rushed over and cradled Haldir... !
  • The Last March of the Ents, when the Ents march to avenge their fallen tree-friends. Also, by this point everyone had joined the fight. It wasn't just about Rohan anymore — it was for the whole world. The somber music also adds to the mood. It sounds ridiculous when you type it, but when you see it...
  • To make things more heartbreaking, Treebeard had actually been telling Merry and Pippin stories of his earlier years, clearly enjoying himself. Then he sputters off, and we are treated to the sight of the encroaching destruction caused by Saruman: hundreds of trees felled and the forest floor burnt to the ground. You can actually hear his heart breaking when he speaks next.
    "Many of these trees were my friends... creatures I had known from nut and acorn. [...] They had voices of their own."
    • While Treebeard is speaking, there's a shot of Pippin shutting his eyes in grief. Despite the fact that this was the only way to spur the Ents into action, he clearly still feels guilty about tricking Treebeard and making him see what is essentially his friends' corpses. And in the same vein, Pippin saying "I'm sorry, Treebeard..." isn't just consoling him for his friends, but to express that guilt and grief to him, even if his friend doesn't realize it.
    • There's also Treebeard's line just before they march, which reminds us that the Ents are as much of a dying race as the elves (except they don't have the option of leaving Middle-Earth), and they march to war well aware that should they fail, their species will be wiped out ... and they go anyway.
      Treebeard: It is likely that we go to our doom ... the last march of the Ents...
      • Then there is the way his voice almost breaks when he says it.
    • Another sad one in terms of the Ents in the Extended Edition. During their earlier travels in Fangorn, Treebeard states outright that there have been no Entings (Ent children) for ages because they lost the Entwives. As in, literally lost them. Treebeard states outright that he no longer remembers what they look like or where they have gone. In universe, the Entwives disappeared in the Second Age. Even sadder given Word of God from Tolkien, that the Entwives were never found again, as they and their gardens were destroyed in the crossfire of the War of The Last Alliance (where Sauron was first defeated and the ring cut from his hand). It means that these Ents, however long lived, are the last of their kind.
      Treebeard: We lost the Entwives.
      Pippin: Oh, I'm sorry. How did they die?
      Treebeard: Die, no. We lost them. And now we cannot find them. I don't suppose you've seen Entwives in the Shire?
      Merry: Can't say that I have. You Pip?
      Pippin: What do they look like?
      Treebeard: I...don't remember, now.
  • Faramir, believing the Ring to be Gondor's salvation (and the only way to win his father's approval) refuses to see reason and let Frodo go. Then Sam berates him with a devastating but brutally honest statement, almost bringing himself to tears as he lays the awful truth at Faramir's feet. The Nazgul attack before Faramir can respond, but the look on his face is pure My God, What Have I Done?.
    Sam: Do you want to know what happened to Boromir? Do you want to know why your brother died?! He tried to take the Ring from Frodo, after swearing an oath to protect him! He tried to kill him! The Ring drove your brother mad!
    • The Extended Edition also adds another layer of tragedy to Sam's account: Boromir was no less than a beloved hero of Gondor, to whom everyone, including Faramir, looked up to; to hear that he became an oathbreaker, tried to kill his charge and ultimately died because of the Ring corrupting his mind is not only shocking but also heart-breaking. Gondor's greatest hero died not as a paragon but as a traitor due to the Ring, worst being that the rest of the Fellowship is not there to clear up Boromir's heroic final moments in which he does redeem for his previous actions.
  • At the Battle of Helm's Deep, when, at the most desperate moment, Gandalf and Éomer and his men sweep down the hillside, pure white light streaming from Gandalf's staff. We've just watched the motley defenders of Helm's Deep ground down to hopeless despair by the seemingly invincible Uruk-hai, and those beams of light, the accompanying music, and the startled, fearful expressions on the Uruk-hai's faces — the poignancy of the moment, the almost gentle lift after a seeming eternity of grinding down, always breaks one down.
  • Sam pulls his master away from a Nazgul and Frodo, still hypnotized by the Ring, pins Sam and shoves Sting against his throat with a feral snarl. Luckily, Sam has the power to talk him down, but Frodo's look of horror as he drops the sword, realizing what he almost did, speaks volumes. As this fan notes, it's even sadder when considered as a dark echo to the early scene where Frodo threatens Gollum with Sting to save Sam. This time, because of the Ring, he's the person his friend has to be saved from.
  • When Sam says "...there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for."
    • Sam's entire speech up to that sentence is utterly, tear-inducingly moving.
    • The look on Gollum's face when Sam says that. After the Ithilien Rangers tortured him for information, he is all the more committed to getting the Ring back again, but he looks sad that he just can't be good at all anymore.