As this is a Tearjerker page, all spoilers will be left unmarked. You Have Been Warned!
If one is softhearted enough, The Saga of Darren Shan seems to run on these, with each novel having one or two. Quite appropriate for a story focusing on death as a central theme.
Cirque du Freak
- Steve breaking down in tears after being rejected by Mr. Crepsley and being ignored by Darren at school. He has been denied of his dream to become a vampire and feels lost and helpless without his friend around."Sorry, [...] That was over the top. But I'm upset. It hurt, what Mr. Crepsley said, and you ignoring me at school. You're my best friend, Darren, the only person I can really talk to. If you break up our friendship, I don't know what I'll do."
- This becomes Harsher in Hindsight after Steve's return in Allies of the Night. He wasn't kidding when he said he'll be broken without Darren around....
- When Steve gets poisoned by Madam Octa and how Darren acts afterwards. The poor kid blames himself for what happened to his friend and it's a major factor in his decision to make a deal with Mr. Crepsley. Especially in the manga, when he's freaking out at the thought of never seeing Steve again.
- Darren almost killing his sister due to being unable to control his newfound vampire instincts. He tearfully realizes that he has to leave the town or else he'll hurt his family and friends.
- In order to protect his family and friends from himself, Darren must fake his death and start a new life as Mr. Crepsley's assistant. He spends the following days spending more time with his family before his inevitable end.
- Darren's "suicide" and the reactions of his family and friends. To make things worse, Darren is conscious during the whole thing and is forced to see his mourning family, his funeral and how he's being buried.
- The part that makes it is after his body is first found and his father sends both Annie and his mother away to call for help. Then Darren hears his dad break down crying for the first time in his life.
- In the funeral Darren also has to hear Annie screaming for him to Please Wake Up, and then his dad talking about all the things he'd hoped his son would achieve.
- After he is exhumed, Darren is attacked by Steve who accuses him of conspiring with Mr. Crepsley against him. In the end, Steve cannot bring himself to kill his friend, but swears to become the world's greatest vampire hunter and return to kill both Darren and Mr. Crepsley in the future. Darren is devastated, as his best friend now hates him and he sacrificed his normal life for nothing.
- The manga makes it worse, as Steve has a tearful breakdown as he stands over Darren, shouting about how Darren has friends and a family while Steve has absent parents and now his only friend has "betrayed" him."....You just....have it all....A kind mother and sister....and even a father. Family and friends! But for me...YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE I HAVE! Why....aren't I good enough....You betrayed me....So you're going to take my last thing from me, Darren. Even though....I thought you were my best friend...." *proceeds to attempt to stake Darren*
- The manga makes it worse, as Steve has a tearful breakdown as he stands over Darren, shouting about how Darren has friends and a family while Steve has absent parents and now his only friend has "betrayed" him.
- The fact that Darren and Steve are much closer and affectionate in the manga. It's more heartbreaking to see things go to hell for them later.
The Vampire's Assistant
- Darren struggling with his new life as part of the Cirque du Freak.
- Sam's death. He happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and is brutally killed and ripped to shreds by the wolf man. To make things worse, this happened because R.V had set the wolf man free because he thought it was cruel to keep it chained in a cage all the time. Of course Darren was partially at fault, since he did tell R.V. that the wolf man wasn't really dangerous.
- Mr. Crepsley comes in time to subdue the wolf man and save Darren, but Sam is on the verge on death. In a sympathetic moment, Mr. Crepsley tells Darren that there's nothing they can do for Sam, but Darren can still drink his blood in order to preserve his spirit inside of him. In retrospect, we've seen how much Mr. Crepsley had to suffer and how many friends he lost in the past during The Saga of Larten Crepsley, so he doesn't want Darren to go through the pain of loss after being separated from his family and friends.Mr. Crepsley: "I will not force you to. [...] But think carefully about it. What happened tonight is a tragedy that will haunt you for a very long time, but if you drink from Sam and absorb part of his essence, dealing with his death will be easier. Losing a loved one is hard. This way, you need not lose all of him."
Darren: "I can't drink from him. [...] He was my friend."
Mr. Crepsley: "It is because he was your friend that you must."
- The manga made it just as heartwretching. Unlike the novel, he's still conscious in his final moments and encourages Darren to drink his blood."Drink, Darren....If I can live on inside you...I want you to drink....Then I can be together....with you and Evra forever.[...] I don't care if you're a vampire...I'm not scared....I mean....We're friends, aren't we?"
- It's even worse in retrospect, by the end of Volume 12 when Darren transforms into a Little Person, his body breaks apart and Sam's soul is released from his body. Sam smiles sadly at him before he fades away to the afterlife. Just ten volumes before this Sam had wanted to be together with Darren and Evra at least in spirit....Ouch.
- Mr. Crepsley comes in time to subdue the wolf man and save Darren, but Sam is on the verge on death. In a sympathetic moment, Mr. Crepsley tells Darren that there's nothing they can do for Sam, but Darren can still drink his blood in order to preserve his spirit inside of him. In retrospect, we've seen how much Mr. Crepsley had to suffer and how many friends he lost in the past during The Saga of Larten Crepsley, so he doesn't want Darren to go through the pain of loss after being separated from his family and friends.
- After he finishes drinking Sam's blood, a devastated Darren lets out a scream of sheer anguish to the sky.
- Darren and Evra mourning Sam the day after. Also Mr. Crepsley trying to console Darren, who bitterly asks him if he's happy he has drinked blood like the vampire he is. Mr. Crepsley just looks at him sadly and says that no, he isn't.
- The final panel of Volume 2 of the manga, featuring Darren and Sam holding hands in the distance.
Trials of Death
- Gavner's death. After trying to help Darren escape from the Vampire Mountain, he finds a vampaneze gang by sheer accident and is killed by Kurda because He Knows Too Much.
- In the manga, his last thoughts are for his human ex-girlfriend Liz, who broke up with him weeks ago because she was getting too old for him.
- Worse, he decided to help Darren escape, knowing it'll get him in trouble with Larten, the closest thing Gavner had to a father figure and whom he spend years trying to impress.
- This become Harsher in Hindsight when The Saga of Larten Crepsley reveals how much of a crappy life Gavner had. Not only he loses his biological parents, his adoptive mother and sister, and his girlfriend dumps him, but he never gets Larten's recognition. The poor guy could never catch a break and was remarkably well adjusted despite it.
The Vampire Prince
- An often overlooked one: Cyrus committing suicide after Kurda is arrested and the cause is lost. Especially because nobody cares when he (and the other assistant) dies, not even Kurda himself. Thankfully this is downplayed in the manga.
- When Darren meets Kurda's assistants, he realizes they're young by vampire standards and that Kurda must have indoctrinated his pacifist ideals on them before blooding them. Given the timeline in The Saga of Larten Crepsley, it's implied Kurda met them after the events of "Brothers to the Death", when he was helping war victims. No wonder they were so determined to bring Kurda's plans into fruition...
- Arra's death. As she bleeds out, she wants to kiss Mr. Crepsley, who replies they'll have time for that when she gets better. She doesn't.
- Darren at the end of Kurda's trial. He wants to defend his friend, but then remembers how he killed Gavner and sadly admits he would have killed any vampire that would have tried to stop his plans. So he keeps silent. The manga makes it worse, as when Darren decides to defend him anyway, he spots Kurda looking at him with a sad smile of acceptance. Darren breaks down crying and Kurda is taken away to be executed.
- Kurda's execution. He accepts his fate bravely, but his fear is palpable as he approaches the place of his impending death. The situation is tragic on several levels; the Vampire Princes don't really want to kill him, Kurda does not want to die and Darren tries to find a compromise, but fails and the guy is executed.
- The manga makes it sadder. Before he dies, he asks Paris to honor the deaths of his vampaneze allies and his two assistants, but his request is rejected due to the rules of vampires. The broken look on his face says it all and he dies lamenting that his friends have died for nothing.
- Just the fact that Kurda and Glalda wanted to bring peace to their races and all it got them was death. The vampires lost their only chance to resolve things peacefully. It's sadder in the manga, when their friendship is more emphasized and they trust each other, despite being from feuding races.
- Gavner and Arra's funeral. Especially how Mr. Crepsley mantains a composed face during the procession, only to break out crying when he's alone.
- This become Harsher in Hindsight when The Saga of Larten Crepsley reveals that Mr. Crepsley and Arra couldn't be together in the past after he resigned as a vampire general and the harsh times of World War II. And Gavner was a surrogate son to him.
Hunters of the Dusk
- Evanna's gift to Larten, a portrait of Arra on the back of one of her frogs. His tearful reaction says it all.
- Vancha and Gannen's backstory. The two used to be very close, but when Vancha became unhappy with the vampaneze's methods, he's forced to be separated from Gannen. When they meet again, Gannen is now working for the Vampaneze Lord.
- It's clear Vancha still loves Gannen and hesitates to kill him. However, after finding out he let the Lord of the Vampaneze escape, Vancha starts blaming himself for choosing his brother over the vampire clan. He almost commits suicide because of it!
Allies of the Night
- In the manga, when Darren breaks down in tears after Steve thanks Darren for sacrificing his humanity for him. Too bad it's later revealed Steve still hates Darren and wants to get revenge on him for "taking his place as a vampire away".
Killers of the Dawn
- Mr. Crepsley's death. He succesfully defeats the Vampaneze Lord, but is pushed to his death by Steve into a pit of fiery stakes. What makes this worse is that his death had been for nothing, as Steve himself was the true Vampaneze Lord, the vampaneze that Mr. Crepsley had killed had been a decoy.
- His last thoughts are about Arra, Gavner and Paris, hoping to be reunited with them again.
- Not long after his death, the narrative abruptly shifts gears with "But none of those things happened", clarifies that Mika arrived at the last moment and they were able to save Mr. Crepsley from the oncoming stakes.... and then Darren awakens back into the reality where Mr. Crepsley is dead.
- And on top of that, he doesn't get a quick and painless release. His friends can't save him and Darren is forced to watch as his mentor has a long and agonizing death.
- Darren breaking down upon realizing Mr. Crepsley sacrificed himself for nothing.
The Lake of Souls
- Two months after Mr. Crepsley's death, Darren is in a cathathonic state, unable to mourn his mentor and unresponsive to everyone around him. With Truska's help, Darren realises he hasn't cried for Mr. Crepsley yet and breaks down sobbing, clutching his iconic red coat."Mr Crepsley told me I wasn't to waste my life on hate," I said promptly, and realized this was the first time I'd mentioned his name since arriving at the Cirque Du Freak. "Mr Crepsley," I said again, slowly, and the eyes in the mirror wrinkled. "Mr Crepsley," I sighed. "Larten. My friend." My eyelids were trembling now, and tears gathered at the edges. "He's dead," I moaned, turning to face Truska. "Mr Crepsley's dead!"
- The reveal that Harkat was in fact Kurda in his previous life and that he was created by Desmond Tiny for the purpose of protecting Darren as part of his plans for the future. Once his soul is removed from the Lake of Souls, Kurda is faced with a choice between himself and Harkat, but nobly lets Harkat live while his soul goes to the afterlife.
- Even Mr. Tiny briefly feels bad for all the crap Kurda went and promises his second death will be quick and painless.
- And on top of that, it's clear Kurda would rather sacrifice Harkat and get another chance at life again, but puts up a strong front for Darren's sake. Then the moment he thinks Darren and Harkat are gone, he starts crying.
- While it's understandable, given most of them are savage killers, the fact that Kurda refers dismissively about the vampaneze. The novels and The Saga of Larten Crepsley show that Kurda spend years trying to befriend the vampaneze, and the fact he betrayed the vampires was in order to force an alliance between both races so that everyone will live. If he hadn't tried to help the vampaneze, he'd be alive.
- Kurda's reasons for staying back in the Lake of the Souls in the manga? He wants to stay in the lake with the souls of Glalda, Cyrus and his vampaneze allies for eternity. Over 8 years after they died in a very noble but ultimately pointless sacrifice, and Kurda is still blaming himself for their deaths.
- "Paradise...Yes, that would have been good. I could've seen Gavner, Arra...and even Larten again. But I don't deserve it. This place might be hell. But there are friends here....Friends that fought by my side."
Lord of the Shadows
- The death of Mr. Tall. Despite being a neutral force during the story, he drops it in order to protect Shancus. He is then brutally shot by Morgan. As he lies dying, Mr Tiny and Evanna appear at the Cirque to bid him farewell. Evanna mourns him and while Mr. Tiny mocks Mr. Tall for allowing himself to die so easily, he's crying tears of blood.
- It's sadder in the manga, as he dies protecting Evra.
- Shancus's death, via Steve breaking his neck. Absolutely horrifying to watch, devastating for everyone else even the vampaneze, and one of those things nobody was expecting to happen.
- The build up to the scene in the manga is equally heartbreaking. Steve asks Darren "No matter what happens, we'll be friends, right?", which was the same thing he said back when they were kids and Steve had assumed Mr. Crepsley will allow him to become a vampire. He even looks weary, revealing how much Darren's "betrayal" still hurts him and how he misses their friendship.... and then Steve breaks Shancus's neck.
- The vampaneze look incredibly disgusted and disturbed from the moment they realize what is going to happen to this sweet little boy. Gannen is turning away while R.V vomits in horror.
- Evra's Big "NO!" after Shancus dies is pretty heart-wrenching. For the first time in the series, he loses his composure completely, shouting and cursing at Steve. The poor guy wants to reach his son's corpse, even though he'll get hurt by the stakes.
- Even Steve is briefly appalled by what he did, but ignores it, deciding that his revenge on Darren is more important.
- Something snaps for good inside of Darren, giving in to rage. Seeing his friends suffering, not having Mr. Crepsley around to talk him out of this, the losses he has suffered, the betrayals, the sad realization that Steve can't be redeemed, all this leads to this moment. He decides to kill Darius to get back at Steve, not caring that the boy was an Unwitting Pawn in his father's plans. He only snaps out of it after finding out Darius is his nephew.Darren: "Mr. Crepsley had warned me not to, but he was wrong. What did it matter if I followed Steve down the road of total evil? Stopping him - getting revenge for all the people he'd killed - was the only thing I cared about now."
- The only reason Darren doesn't kill Darius in retaliation is because the others convince him he might be good bait to bargain with Steve. And then Darren has to find out he was about to murder his own nephew.
Sons of Destiny
- The reunion between Darren and Annie. Esepecially because she's an adult woman and he looks like he's in his late teens.
- The fact that Steve couldn't care less about Annie and Darius and just used them for the sake of his revenge against Darren. Also, even though he was just being manipulated by Steve, Darren has no sympathy for Darius, seeing him as his enemy's son.
- Darren is still clearly shaken from Shancus's death and his role in the boy's death. Then Evra and Merla start blaming him for their son's death. While it's quickly revealed to be part of a ruse to distract Steve, the look on Darren's face when he thinks his friends now hate him is just heart-wrenching.
- Darren saying goodbye to his friends before his final battle against Steve. Especially cause it's the last time he sees them.
- Vancha and Gannen's last fight. They clearly don't want to fight to the death, but must do it because of their respective allegiances. Eventually, Gannen wins and severely wounds Vancha."May your gods forgive me, brother," Gannen whispered, his face haggard, eyes haunted. "Though I fear I'll never forgive myself."
- The manga makes it sadder. Vancha takes the upper hand and is about to kill Gannen, but has a flashback of his brother back when they used to get along and hesitates. Gannen takes advantage of it and stabs Vancha, mocking him for choosing his love for his brother over the vampire clan....before breaking into tears, as he doesn't want to kill him either.
- The last fight between Darren and Steve. Every moment of it.
- The revelation that Darren and Steve were created and manipulated by Mr. Tiny their whole lives, so that the victor could throw the world into chaos. Darren getting the ticket in the first book and Steve's resentment and increasing sanity slippage? That was all his doing. Why? For fun.
- After Steve finds out Mr. Tiny is his father, he asks him to accept him as a son. Mr. Tiny coldly shrugs him, saying that Steve is just a disposable pawn. Darren can't bring himself to look at Steve, who is screaming and crying pitifully as he bleeds to death.
- Darren's realization that both him and Steve need to die so that no one will become the Lord of the Shadows. He has to break Steve further, telling him that he made a deal with Mr. Crepsley to take Steve's "rightful place" as a half-vampire to make sure he kills him, knowing it'll be the only chance to save the world from themselves.
- The manga makes this worse. Steve apologizes to Darren, realizing they were unwitting pawns to Mr. Tiny. Darren still goads him into stabbing him anyway.
- In the novel, Darren hates Steve and can't forgive him for the deaths of Mr. Crepsley and Shancus, so he doesn't hesitate to break him. In the manga, Darren still considers Steve a friend and you can see he's trying his hardest to say those harsh words to him. He even apologizes after the deed is done.
- Their deaths are even sadder in the manga. As they drown, Darren apologizes to Steve for provoking him, lamenting that he said those harsh words in order to save the world. Having calmed down, Steve just smiles sadly at him as he dies. Darren starts reminiscing about their broken friendship, wondering when everything went wrong.Darren: "Looking into his eyes now....It's all there. Everything we had....We were an unstoppable duo at soccer....Weren't we, Steve? If only I'd taken a different path here or there....Things wouldn't have turned out this way....If only we could change the past and do life over....We might....have been able....to stay....friends..."
- This doesn't happen in the novel, when Steve keeps motionlessly stabbing Darren as they drown. He has been throughly broken.
- As he drowns, Darren sees the faces of all his fallen friends. Before he succumbs to his injuries, he sees Mr. Crepsley sadly waving at him.
- This is Harsher in Hindsight, because Darren was forced to kill his revenge-obsessed best friend who was manipulated by Mr. Tiny.....just like Larten had to do at the end of The Saga of Larten Crepsley.
- The fact that Darren was trapped in the Lake of the Souls for centuries, lamenting for all the mistakes he made and for all the friends he lost.
- Crosses over a little bit into Heartwarming, but the reveal that Harkat is working with Vancha to unite vampires and vampaneze and has chance to succeed. So yeah, Kurda ultimately succeeded in his goal. It's just a shame that he wasn't around to see it and know that, in a way, he did make a better world.
- After being sent to the past as Little Person, Darren gives his diary entries to Mr. Tall to be given to his human self at a later date and be published as a book. He then dies peacefully on top of the Cirque's roof, hoping to be reunited with Mr. Crepsley in the afterlife.
- "I'm going... I'm... going... I'm... gone."
- The manga ending. After Darren gives the diaries to Mr. Tall, he's left worried that Steve will still want to become a vampire. Thankfully, he sees the alternate versions of Darren and Steve happily playing together. What's more, Alt!Darren was able to convince Alt!Steve to leave his obsession with becoming a vampire. Darren looks at them with a sad smile before disappearing.
- Yes, Darren was able to change his destiny, but this means his alternate self never gets to meet Mr. Crepsley, the Cirque members or the other vampires. The only upshot is that he's still best friends with a stable Steve.