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Tear Jerker / The Silmarillion

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Túrin Prepares to Take his Life by Ted Naismith
  • When Eärendil wanders through the streets of deserted Valimar and the dust of the gemstones covers his feet. Note that this was originally supposed to be much more tragic, as Eärendil had arrived too late and the Elves had already left for Middle-earth; Tolkien changed it to make it a bit less tragic, with the Elves only being away at a festival and soon returning.
  • The creation of the Dwarves. Aulë simply wanted something like him, something that he could love and teach his ways, but alas, only Eru can create souls, and the dwarves were nothing but soulless constructs. In despair, Aulë lifted his hammer to destroy them, weeping. Thankfully, Eru took pity on him and granted his creations souls.
  • Túrin, oh god Túrin. Despite being kind of a prick, he hasn't exactly had a good life, to say the least. He is cursed and pretty much every bad thing imaginable happens to him. There's a good reason Tolkien sometimes called his story "The Tale Of Grief". To give a brief summary of his Trauma Conga Line: he lost his little sister when he was just five, and he was forced to leave his home when he was eight. He accidentally killed an elf and had to exile himself from his second home. He became a leader of a group of warriors, but all of them were killed by a traitor. Then he accidentally murdered his best friend. Then he found a new home, but accidentally got the whole kingdom, including the princess he was supposed to save, killed. Then when Túrin finally found a Hope Spot and settled down with a loving wife, it turned out that said wife was his own long lost sister. All of this trauma eventually culminated in his suicide. Feel-good novel of the century.
    • Many of the deaths surrounding him are tearjerkers in their own right:
    • Niënor. Poor girl just wanted to meet her brother, and she unfortunately got her wish. Glaurung committed a terrifying Mind Rape on her, which took her memories and identity away from her. With no idea of who she was, or who her brother was, she unknowingly married him. When the truth of their sins is revealed, she was unable to deal with the grief and threw herself off a cliff.
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    • Beleg. He was Túrin’s best friend and companion through their time spent in Dor Cúarthol. He abandoned his life in Doriath to follow Túrin, and he risked everything to save Túrin from a group of orcs. And he was murdered by the very friend he gave up everything trying to protect.
    • Finduilas. She was taken and later executed by orcs. She cried for Túrin to come back to save her. He never heard her.
    • Mablung. He actually survives the curse of Túrin, but he doesn't exactly come out of his experiences untraumatized. Mablung was the last person Túrin talked to, and the first person to find Túrin's body after his suicide. Mablung realizes that he unknowingly brought Túrin the ill tidings that pushed him over the edge. This causes Mablung to have a My God, What Have I Done? moment.
  • Húrin as well. After he is captured in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, he is taken prisoner at Angband, where he is Forced to Watch as his son's curse unfolds and brings his son and daughter to suicide. Things only get worse once he is released: he loses his wife, is shunned by his own people and shut out of Gondolin, and finally succumbs to despair and drowns himself. Particularly poignant is Turgon changing his mind and sending the eagles to bring Húrin to Gondolin, just hours too late.
    • The final scene in The Children of Húrin. After twenty-eight long years of imprisonment, Húrin was finally released. He traveled to the grave of their son and daughter and found his wife Morwen there. Their reunion was short, though, as she was ill from her long hopeless travels. When the sun set, she passed in her husband's arms on the grave of her children, and the last person Húrin loved died.
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    • Related: the death of Urwen (aka Lalaith), his first daughter, by a wind-borne plague out of Angband, when she was three years old.
  • The heavy casualties of Dagor Bragollach. In a surprise attack, Morgoth breaks through the siege of Angband. The forces of good have little time to prepare. Countless Elves and Men are slain, including the House of Bëor, essentially destroyed after the battle with few survivors.
  • The fate of Eluréd and Elurín, the six-year-old twin children of Dior and Nimloth, who Celegorm's men abandoned in the forest to die. They were never found, and it is assumed they died alone in the wilderness.
    • Maedhros searching frantically for the children for several days straight, and ultimately never finding them.
  • The Petty-Dwarves. For unknown reasons, they were exiled from the seven clans of noble dwarves. They arrived in Beleriand before the elves and made their homes there. When the Sindar elves arrived, they did not recognize what these short people were. Thinking them animals, they hunted them and claimed their land for themselves. When the Sindar learned of their mistake, it was too late, and the petty-dwarves were nearly extinct.
    • Mîm the Petty-Dwarf, despite being a racist and traitor, still deserves a mention for his demise. He and his two sons are the last of the Petty-Dwarves. Then Khîm is shot by Andróg, and the Outlaws prevent Mîm from reaching him, leading to the depressing scene of Mîm and the Outlaws finding Ibûn weeping over Khîm's corpse, with Túrin unable to do anything to make up for it beyond a hollow apology. Then Ibûn is killed offpage, leaving Mîm the Last of His Kind. He is finally killed by Húrin. He begs for his life, but Húrin is having none of it.
  • Despite their actions, one can't help but feel for the sons of Fëanor when six of the seven brothers died tragically in the ultimately failed pursuit of the Silmarils.
    • Maglor's ultimate fate: wandering Middle-earth until the end of the world. What makes it worse is that even though he swore the Oath and took part in all of the Kinslayings, by the end, he was probably the son of Fëanor least deserving of such a fate, since he genuinely tried to repent for his actions in the pursuit of the Silmarils.
    • The death of Maedhros. After everything he and his brothers did and suffered to retrieve the Silmarils (and they did suffer, he more than the others probably), he finally has one in hand and it burns him for all the evil he's done. The only way he sees to escape the pain is to throw himself into a fiery chasm. Not only was everything that he spent centuries fighting for ultimately for naught, he also left his last brother completely alone in the world. That he is the only known Elf to ever commit suicide doesn't help here.
    • In the published Silmarillion, the twins Amrod and Amras die together in the Third Kinslaying. However, there is an alternate draft where Amrod dies much earlier. When Fëanor burns the ships, he did not know that Amrod was on one of those two ships, and one of his youngest sons perishes, leaving Amras as the Angsty Surviving Twin.
    • Even Fëanor has his moments. His mother died when he was born, something that very few elves among an immortal race will ever face. She could have returned from the Halls of Mandos, but she refused, and Fëanor was alone as a child. His father remarried, which made Fëanor feel out of place within the family, due to the elven culture of hyper-monogamy, and he feared that his father had forgotten his birth mother. His father was murdered and his most beloved craft, the three Silmarils, were taken away from him all in one day. And to top it off, his wife left him.
    • Nerdanel. She loses her husband, her sons, and later, her grandson. She foresaw that the Oath would lead to disaster and tried to dissuade her husband against making the Oath, but he would not heed her words. In the canon where Amrod dies in the burning of the Teleri ships, Nerdanel accidentally seals her son's fate. Not wanting to lose all seven of her sons, she declares that one of her youngest sons will stay behind and "never step foot in Middle-earth". She got her wish.
  • The Downfall of Númenor: "...and Númenor went down into the sea, with all its children and its wives and its maidens and its ladies proud; and all its gardens and its halls and its towers, its tombs and its riches, and its jewels and its webs and its things painted and carven, and its laughter and its mirth and its music, its wisdom and its lore: they vanished forever. And last of all the mounting wave, green and cold and plumed with foam, climbing over the land, took to its bosom Tar-Míriel the Queen, fairer than silver or ivory or pearls... and her cry was lost in the roaring of the wind." Just about the only good thing out of all this was that Sauron was so badly damaged he could never take a fair form, ever again.
    • Also the way Ar-Pharazôn, much like Gollum, hesitates for a moment as he ponders what he's about to do before he damns himself and by extension his entire homeland and people. You almost hope that he'll relent, and then...
    • The survivors spend ages sailing around, hoping that the peak of the island's highest mountain wasn't completely drowned, and maybe they could stand there and look West for the tiniest glimpse of Avallónë. They know full well that it's now physically impossible to reach Avallónë, and they're just trying to gaze into a lost past, but they can't let go.
    • Poor Tar-Míriel. She was supposed to be the next ruling queen of Númenor, but she was usurped by her cousin Ar-Pharazôn, who forcibly married her (implying sexual assault) and took the scepter for himself. Forced into an unloving, incestuous, and quite likely abusive marriage, Tar-Míriel can do nothing but watch as her kingdom comes crashing down.
    • The decline of Númenor from the savior of the remnant of the Noldor in Lindon and a beacon of hope to the Men of Middle-earth, to a brutal empire demanding tribute and slaves, worshiping darkness and obsessed with death:
      'But for all this Death did not depart from the land, rather it came sooner and more often, and in many dreadful guises. For whereas aforetime men had grown slowly old, and had laid them down in the end to sleep, when they were weary at last of the world, now madness and sickness assailed them; and yet they were afraid to die and go out into the dark, the realm of the lord that they had taken; and they cursed themselves in their agony. And men took weapons in those days and slew one another for little cause; for they were become quick to anger, and Sauron, or those whom he had bound to himself, went about the land setting man against man, so that the people murmured against the King and the lords, or against any that had aught that they had not; and the men of power took cruel revenge.'
    • Amandil's vain attempt to sail to the Blessed Realm to ask the Valar for aid and mercy. He himself speculated it might end in failure, and he and his companions who went with him were never heard from again.
      'Men could not a second time be saved by any such embassy, and for the treason of Númenor there was no easy absolving.'
  • Nirnaeth Arnoediad, the Battle of Unnumbered Tears. Such a crushing defeat for the Noldor and for the men. It was abundantly clear that this was the last possible opportunity for the Noldor in Middle-earth to turn the tide of the war and stop Morgoth's advance. The worst part is that the narrative takes a second to note that the Alliance fought so hard that Morgoth's master plan was almost undone.
    • The aftermath of the battle is pretty dismal. With Fingon dead, Hithlum is in complete disarray and undefended against the hordes of Easterlings set against them by Morgoth. The Noldorin civilians are nearly all enslaved in Angband. The Sons of Fëanor are in hiding likely with their own armies heavily reduced. The Gondolin Elves, who still have an army, locked down even harder than before despite Turgon now being the defacto ruler of all the Noldor, not just his city. And the Men, having lost their own leader and without the protection of the elves, are completely at the mercy of the Enemy and work hard to stay in the good graces of their new Easterling warlords.
  • The Deader than Dead of Luthien Tinuviel, from the perspective of those left behind. For the first time ever, the soul of an elf is truly lost, passing beyond the walls of the world as those of Men do.
  • Elrond. Everything about Elrond. His father left them when he was a child, his mother would rather throw herself in the ocean than surrender some shiny stone, and he's raised as a hostage by the two elves who drove his parents away. He eventually grows to love Maedhros and Maglor, presumably viewing them as surrogate parents, but the former commits suicide and the latter leaves never to be seen again. His own brother chooses the mortal life, and so does his eventual daughter, and his wife leaves for the Undying Lands centuries before him. Is it any wonder he's bitter during the Lord of the Rings?
    • Crosses over into fridge tearjerker: Maedhros is tragic, and it's possible, even likely, that he was banned from returning, but at least Elrond can still see him in the Halls of Mandos. Maglor will probably go to Valinor sooner or later, and he can see his parents whenever, but Elros and Arwen? Never. Again. Not until the literal end of the world. There is no afterlife for the Elves where they reunite with their mortal loved ones. They are truly immortal and have no access to the human afterlife.
  • For people who are fond of dogs, Huan's Heroic Sacrifice can be quite a blow to the feels.
  • Finrod and Sauron's duel. As Sauron uses a magic song to uncover the disguises of Beren and Finrod's group, Finrod replies with his own song, countering Sauron's cynicism with heroism and hope. In the middle of Sauron's Evil Tower of Ominousness, Finrod conjures up peaceful images to lighten the darkness: the birds singing in Nargothrond, the sound of the sea, and the most beautiful thing he can think of, his home of Valinor. Sauron immediately jumps on this by bringing up the Kinslaying of the Teleri in Valinor by the Noldor, something Finrod didn't participate in but nevertheless cannot refute, causing him to lose the duel and leading to his death.
  • Míriel's death after giving birth to her son Fëanor. She's so weary from the birth that she no longer desires to live. If that wasn't bad enough, her husband sits by her body and calls her by name, hoping she will return. But she never does.
  • The War of the Last Alliance and the end of the Second Age was the last hurrah for the Elves.
    • For the Noldor, after winning a great victory against Sauron in the war he had launched after the creation of the Rings of Power, they finally reached the apex of their civilization in Middle Earth. But in the aftermath of the Last Alliance, High King Gil-Galad is dead and with him the title of High King is left unused as no one with the authority to claim it even wants it. His capital and kingdom in Lindon is all but abandoned, and the remnants led by his lieutenant Cirdan are basically just a glorified bodyguards and shipbuilders for elves returning across the sea. The losses the High Elves incurred in the battles were so devastating that the story explictly says that they will never be able to amass a force like that again. The Noldor are so demoralized and just done with Middle Earth that they spend the entirety of the Third Age sailing back to Valinor or preparing too. It's just such a sad and ironic end to their story that after all that defiance and bravado, after all their achievements, most High Elves just can't bare to remain in the mortal world.
    • For the Wood Elves of Greenwood (Later Mirkwood), things weren't much better. They suffered similar losses to the Noldor and had their own kings slain. The elves of the Greenwood did live in peace for a time under King Thranduil, but their newfound weakness evetually caught up with them when they were near defenseless to stop the return of Sauron, now going by the name of "The Necromancer." In response, they grew cold and defensive. A far cry from the joyful and adventurous people in Doriath from whom many of them are descended.
    • Finally, the elves of Lothlorien suffered a similar fate. But with the added tragedy of losing their king, Amroth, who went south to find his betrothed. Over time, Lothlorien went from its own independent kingdom to a glorified refugee camp where Elves from all over come to hide from the forces of evil. This realm is so dependent on Lady Galadriel and her ring that from the moment the One is destroyed, it's abandoned in record time. After only a hundred years into the 4th Age, Lorien was deserted.
  • The Darkening of Valinor, and in particular Melkor's and Ungoliant's destruction of the beautiful Two Trees Telperion and Laurelin, is devastating.
    Then Yavanna arose and stood upon Ezellohar, the Green Mound, but it was bare now and black; and she laid her hands upon the Trees, but they were dead and dark, and each branch that she touched broke and fell lifeless at her feet. Then many voices were lifted in lamentation; and it seemed to those that mourned that they had drained to the dregs the cup of woe that Melkor had filled for them. But it was not so.