BEWARE OF UNMARKED SPOILERS BELOW!
Just like in canon, this story has some hard hitting moments.
- When he finally confesses to hiding his knowledge of future events from the crew, Cross breaks down crying as he begs them to let him continue being a Straw Hat.
- Ace learns what will happen if he battles Teach one-against-one and is horrified when Cross reveals his capture would lead to Whitebeard dying and Luffy being so traumatized by his inability to save him he almost renounces his lifelong dream to become the Pirate King.
- When Vivi finds out that the Rebel Army has already left Yuba and Cross lied to her about it, she slaps him and tells him she never wants to see him again once they have stopped Crocodile. Cross feels so ashamed of himself he can't even sleep inside with the rest of the crew and stays out all night digging out sand with Toto.
- The entire scene where Vivi finds out she got a bounty on her head.
- This also adds a meta-layer for fans. Many fans have dreamed of Vivi officially joining the Straw Hats, but being forced to leave her homeland without a choice was not the ideal method.
- When Cross manages to see her klabautermann, Merry reveals that while the Straw Hats were docking at Jaya, the other ships cruelly bullied her for being of East Bluethus making her unprepared for Grand Line's conditionsand for daring to have a dream of her own, saying that she ought to sink herself to not condemn her crew to die with her. The worst thing? Merry thinks they're right.
- One single sentence that shows how far Robin had come in seeing the crew as her True Companions... and just how far Aokiji's Breaking Speech caused her to backslide. The crew's following affirmations alleviate it somewhat, but in the moment it's absolutely heartbreaking.Robin: "We... you're all strong, incredibly so... but not strong enough to fight the world."
- Despite their best efforts, Merry is still doomed.
- Said revelation drives the entire crew (minus Zoro, Sanji, and Boss) to tears, including Robin.
- The reason Robin always wore cowboy hats was to help her stay strong by reminding her of Jaguar D. Saul.
- The Boa sisters' Heel Realization that killing anyone who found out their secret out of sheer fear and hatred made them too much like the World Nobles they despised.
- During the SBS broadcast in Chapter 39, when Robin tells of the destruction of Ohara, Tashigi says that she has to go out and kill something, because she has been so exposed to the horrors and atrocities that the WG is willing to commit that she can't even express disgust anymore, only anger. After she leaves, Smoker laments that she broke the very first order he gave her: To never lose the plucky smile she wore when she first enlisted, and to never wear the Jade-Colored Glasses as he has.
- Not only do old friends Tsuru and Sengoku have a heavy argument about the actions by the Marines that Sengoku has condoned, but when Tsuru leaves the office, a picture including the two of them falls to the floor, and the glass breaks between Tsuru and Sengoku.
- Facing the Buster Call against Enies Lobby triggers the traumatic memories about Ohara's destruction and poor Robin is left a trembling wreck, confronted to the atrocious possibility of once again losing her whole universe, the first friends she found in twenty years.
- Abundant in Chapter 42:
- When it's Cross who begs Luffy to get up after Lucci puts him down the first time.
- When Merry finally shatters under the strain for saving them, just the image of the entire crew supplicating to Iceburg and Galley-La to fix her up and give her that last chance of survival.
- Merry in her human girl form begging to remain a Straw-Hat.
- The ending of Chapter 43: Ace, Squardo, and Whitey have been beaten by Blackbeard and captured by the Marines, meaning that the Paramount War is still on course. Why is this a Tear Jerker? Because Cross just took a look at Ace's intact Vivre Card (Ace is above water and kept in a drug-coma, so he's not injured), and fully believes that he has succeeded in saving him.
- When she hears Thriller Bark's "voice", Merry is horrified. Because Thriller Bark started to develop a soul of its own, but has never received any love or care from its crew. It's even not considered a ship, because everyone sees it as an island or a hellhole. A livid Franky even notes that between he and Iceburg, anybody who brought such a neglected ship to Water 7 "never did it again."
- Sanji learns his post-timeskip attack "Hell Memories" and uses it on Absalom, by calling up horrific memories that enrage him to the point of him bursting into flames. One of those memories? An iron mask.
- And after the fight, he laments on losing the chance to claim the power to disappear. Though comical considering his perverseness, it takes on a new meaning if you consider his childhood with his father and siblings.
- Margarita the maid calling the SBS to reveal how she had spent a decade without her shadow, and how her friend and fellow victim perished to the sun.
- Unlike most pirates, Perona (rightfully) has so little trust in her crew that she only leaves her body while it's in her room which she keeps heavily barricaded so none of the others can get to her.
- Long John Silverteeth is nothing but an asshole, but it will tug your heartstrings the tiniest bit when he laments about how his crew deprived him of a death as a pirate.Long John: "I... was a pirate's pirate... a man's man... and they didn't even let me die like one..."
- Lola panics when Raphey sees her using Armament Haki and begs the dugong to keep it secret, as Haki-users are so rare in Paradise she would be traced and her family would find her. And it would be really, really that bad.Lola: If I never see most of my family again before I die, then I will die very happy.
- Word of God, stated in a later chapter as well, is that while Lola believes her mother won't do anything to her, she wouldn't put it past her siblings.
- One has to think about Moria's situation. He went into a battle with Kaido, got all his crewmates killed, and had to crawl away in god-knows-what condition. Now, he's just been woken up to find his new immortal zombie army decimated, and he couldn't do a thing about it. With the flashbacks to having your whole crew wiped out twice, no wonder the guy Awakened his Devil Fruit.
- In Chapter 51, we see how Moria remembers that day: rushing to save his crew as each of them is brutally slaughtered and eventually finding their horribly mangled corpses.
- Worse still, Moria can't even remember his crew's names. He mentally identifies them only by their dying words. The revelation of this fact when Soundbite manages to translate Moria's Black Speech elicits horror and a touch of sympathy even from the Straw Hat Pirates.
- When battling Moria, Luffy lays the harsh truth down: Moria died that day. Now he's merely sailing because he's in pain and lashing out at the world for a tragedy he refused to move on from.
- As horrible as taking Cross's pain was, to the point she tried to kill herself and even started clawing open her own body, Nami states it doesn't compare to "eight straight years sitting in that damn room wishing for death."
- Soundbite has to confide with Lasso and Funkfreed with something he didn't tell everyone else: that before taking on Luffy and Cross's pain, Zoro and Nami stated that their dreams were worthless compared to Luffy's dreams of becoming Pirate King and Cross's vision of changing the world. Soundbite is left emotionally torn apart holding this secret, because he knows that if everyone else learned this, the clash of opinions would tear the entire crew apart so irrevocably that it would outright destroy the crew.
- In Chapter 52, a double helping occurs. Tsuru reveals to Lola that one of her sisters tried to follow her example of leaving Totland. However, before she could get that far, Prometheus burned her to a crisp...which could only happen on Big Mom's orders. Not only is it a horrifying act, but it also shatters Lola's belief that her mother wouldn't harm her for running out on her Arranged Marriage.
- Perona insisting that creepy toys are cute gets a Cerebus Retcon, when she confesses to Nami her family thought it was creepy and so was she for enjoying them, repeatedly abusing her in an attempt to make her "stop being an embarrassment to them". Moria may have been an asshole only interested in her powers, but at least he wanted her to be herself.
- Perona gets a couple of moments in the Strong World Arc. One doubling as heart warming is when she reunites with Nami after she tries fighting Shiki on her own. Perona distracts Shiki and tackles Nami in tears. She begins going through an emotional breakdown as she keeps asking why it hurts. Why does it hurt when the others were hurt? Why is she so concerned about the others?! And Nami's response? Because they're friends.
- The Hopeless Boss Fight against Shiki after Nami returns. He just swoops in and decimates the whole crew, tired from a week of nonstop fighting and forces Nami to take the Sadistic Choice of joining his crew willingly in exchange for sparing their lives. Worse? He makes her record a farewell speech to break their spirits.
- Cross telling the confidants of the crew that they are going to be split apart very soon by Kuma, and they cannot avoid it if they hope to survive in the New World.
- You have to give a hand to the fanfic for making us feel for Kuroobi and Chew of all people. First, they learn that their queen was not assassinated by a human like they heard, and instead had been killed by a young fishman that looked up to them, then they learn that their speeches to Hody and his friends about hating humans is what turned them into monsters, and finally, Koala, the only human they really cared for, flat out tells them that they are no longer friends. While it's true that they asked for a Trauma Conga Line, this was a bit much.
- Cross despairing over the fact a whole generation was ruined by petty grudges and senseless hatred. So much potential wasted by fools poisoning people against each other.
- When Popora uses his memory powers to refresh Cross' mind, he forces him to relive Ace's death. When Cross awakes, he's crying in Troubled Fetal Position, and Luffy immediately intuits why.
- Funkfreed comes clean about the fact that the World Government willingly sought to place Flevance on quarantine and raze the country, only because a D. bloodline was hiding there. Law is furious.
- During her No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of Vice Admiral Strawberry, Koala admits that not only did she hate her own parents for selling out Fisher Tiger to save her, but she briefly considered that it would have been better if she'd never been freed from slavery.
- Shakky and the Straw Hats listen in to various conversations around Sabaody pertaining to the slave trade when she asks Cross about their mission there. First, they hear a slaver about a little boy they're going to sell, then another musing about a former escapee and debating on crippling her legs, the next is of a family that is being torn apart by being sold separately, followed by an innocent getting kidnapped and prepared to be sold, and finally, and most chilling of all, a slave actually getting branded along with the sounds of the iron searing flesh and a scream. It sickens and enrages everyone present.
- Cross suffering a terrible breakdown in the Auction House when he finds that Doflamingo manipulated him and the Straw Hats since arriving on the island. He had been so hyped up to put his plan in motion, thinking that it would be his magnum opus before the 2-year training, something that would make the Straw Hats as legendary as Roger... But knowing that Doflamingo had been there watching them all along sends him into despair.Cross: Every step we took...every inch we gained...was by the whim of the devil. We lived because he willed it. We 'won' because he allowed it. Everything that we did today...and it all amounts...to nothing...
- Kizaru utterly shatters Cross's willpower when he says that Ace was captured four months ago during Post-Enies and was going to be executed in less than two weeks.Cross doesn't believe it at first. He even has Luffy check Ace's Vivre card, which until now has been healthy. Then it bursts into flames right in their eyes. Doubles as Nightmare Fuel since the one thing Cross has tried to prevent, more than Merry's Viking Funeral fate, was Ace's death.
- The reason for the Vivre card bursting in flames at that moment. As Ace was in a cold-storage induced coma, his card remained clean. It was that exact moment when Cross asks Luffy to check the card that Ace finally woke up and realized he was captured. Everything Cross told him back in Alabasta, including how Luffy was going to be heartbroken with him dying in his arms came rushing back to him and he ends up shedding Broken Tears over this which finally causes his Vivre card to react.
- After everyone leaves, Cross is left by himself and gets a call from Tsuru who tells him just what happened to Ace, and Cross coldly replies to assemble all the Masons for an emergency meeting.
- After that, Kuma appears, bluntly tells him to get the Straw Hats prepared for an eventual separation in order to get stronger since he knows Cross knows they have no chance of storming either Impel Down or Marineford due to security being at super high alert and every single Marine force being assembled to prepare for Whitebeard's eventual appearance. To further rub it in, Kuma also states that any misguided plan he could make to save Ace will undoubtedly end up with at least one fatality and that it will be on his head. Kuma ends it with an Armor-Piercing Question that leaves the ever-talkative pirate utterly speechless and reiterates to prepare the crew for their separation at sunset. Cross has never felt so broken.
- To further drive it home, Cross punches a tree in frustration, leaving a huge crater that, at the beginning of his journey, would have left him in awe at the superhuman might needed to produce it. Now? Now he can only despair at the thought that it's not superhuman enough.
- Cross telling Luffy about how the crew has to separate for two years is just heartbreaking, especially when Luffy gives Cross his hat for safekeeping.
- The final goodbyes of the Straw Hats when Kuma sends them off.
- When Cross, in one last moment of doubt, ask Soundbite has any last words, the Den-Den Mushi has only five:Soundbite: I don't want to go.
- Chopper admits that he wants to give in to his Mad Scientist persona just to wash out the fear, but chooses to hold on and face the challenge ahead.
- Robin tells her remaining crewmates that they were her first family, period, and that she awaits to see them again.
- Merry runs back to Luffy to give a goodbye hug and tell him to come back for her, right before walking up to Kuma.
- When Cross, in one last moment of doubt, ask Soundbite has any last words, the Den-Den Mushi has only five:
- The way Marguerite just breaks when she realizes that Luffy is innocent of trying to harm Hancock.
- When the Straw Hats are separated, Kuma sends Vivi to Alabasta. Vivi is promptly torn between her love of her country and family and her love of her crew, thinking that embracing one means abandoning the other. No matter how fallacious one finds her reasoning, the fact remains that she's finally back home and yet can't bring herself to see her loved ones.
- The Humiliation Conga that Vice Admiral Momonga goes through trying to present the evidence of Sandersonia's involvement in the Sabaody Revolution, only to be told that it has to be destroyed because the photos depict Marine complicity in the slave trade. You can pretty much hear his faith in the Marines crumbling.
- The fact that Isuka, a marine who by all canon indication was on friendly terms with Ace the last time they met, literally jumped at the chance to be his executioner.
- Chapter 80 thankfully reveals this was all just a ruse so Isuka could get close to Ace and partake in his rescue, but it's still a bit sad (and funny) that Ace genuinely believed she wanted to kill him.
- Admiral Aokiji - the Token Good Teammate of the Admirals before the timeskip - indirectly caused the Summit War to take place in spite of Cross's attempts to prevent it, by allowing Blackbeard to absorb Ace, Squard, and Whitey Bay after interrupting their battle with an Ice Age so that they wouldn't keep destroying Banaro Island. He is very clearly aware of this as the War approaches, and that every single death and bit of instability resulting can be traced in part to him.In the center of this new avenue, Aokiji slowly pieced himself together, rising from the ice until he was fully reconstituted, standing tall and staring at the oncoming army. The army he'd incited, coming to fight the war he'd caused
The Iceman blew out a sharp, sub-arctic breath as he reached up and yanked his facemask over his eyes. It wasn't like he needed his sight to fight, after all. Nor did he need to worry in the least about who he was hitting. Everyone was a valid target today.
"Let's get this over with. My nightmares are waiting."
- Byojack finally finds his brother... who is kept frozen in a massive block of ice. This absolutely devastates Byojack for two reasons: firstly, it's going to be incredibly difficult to free Byrnddi without being caught, and secondly, he was hoping that Byrnddi might have been listening to SBS and regained his old love of being a pirate for the sake of adventuring rather than destruction. Wracked in tears, he and the rest of the World Pirates tell Luffy and the others to go on without them, and when Luffy protests, he declares passionately that for all that his brother is a monster, he will not abandon him this time, and that Luffy should not abandon Ace to help him. Luffy reluctantly leads his allies away, knowing that he may have condemned the elderly World Pirates to their doom.
- Before they go their separate ways, Luffy tells Byojack that he completely understands why he's doing all this to save Byrnddi. Byojack bitterly notes that Luffy may be the one person to say that whom he genuinely believes does understand him.
- The icing on the cake: Byojack's efforts to rescue Byrnddi are all for nothing, as right when the thawing is finally starting to make decent progress, Blackbeard arrives and kills the World Pirates. Byojack's dying thoughts are pleading with his brother to run rather than fight.
- And just as a rather horrible, final, icing on the cake? Byrnddi didn't run... because he joined Blackbeard, as of Marineford Misery part 4. He's become so twisted that he (knowingly or otherwise) joined forces with the man who murdered his brother and his crew.
- Sengoku has been so worn down by everything that's happened, not just Cross, but how his own government has handled the situation to his disappointment again and again, that by the time Whitebeard demanded he hands over Ace, Sengoku says in an exhausted manner that if he had the authority to give up without a fight, he would.
- To hear your leader, the man meant to be leading the charge against the forces of the wicked pirates, admit that he'd rather surrender than fight takes a hammer to the already shaky morale the Marines have left.
- Cross apologizing to Whitebeard, saying that he tried to stop the War in general from happening and did everything he could to not only save Ace, but Whitebeard as well.
- Gol D Roger calls in to the SBS one last time, in Marineford Misery part 2 - and it's made clear that he's been watching Ace from the other side, and that, for all of his I Regret Nothing attitude, he does sincerely feel guilty about how his actions came back to haunt his son.
- After the Blackbeard Pirates escape from Impel Down in Marineford Misery, the wardens find themselves under attack by some very pissed-off Sea Kings. Why are they so mad? Well, it turns out that the Blugori have a fondness for eating baby Sea Kings, which the adults are understandably unhappy about. Popora's efforts to bridge the language barrier by using his memory-display powers really sell the point.Shattered eggshells and shredded embryos littered upon the ocean floor, a weeping rhinoceros Sea King bleeding from a torn fin watching as Blugoris swam away. A single rhinoceros calf nuzzled against the Sea King...
- Whitebeard's final conversation with Ace, which truly establishes him as the only father Ace has ever willingly acknowledged."Ace, tell me. Was I a good father?
A hush fell over the area. Calls to hurry up and go fell silent. And in this silence, Ace answered, his voice quivering, You were. You were the best father I could have asked for.
Whitebeard turned and knelt down in front of Ace, drawing him into a hug. Live, brat, he declared. Because if I see you again too soon, Ill make you regret it.
- Whitebeard sees and hears the Klabautermann of the Moby Dick, the ship that has carried his family for most of his life mere moments before Akainu destroys it.
- In a moment of Heartwarming even in the depths of despair, though, he gets the chance to have his first and final conversation with her, and she makes it clear that he has no need to apologize for anything - her death included.
- The Seventh Hell of Darkness was created to contain and torture people like Cross, idealists that wanted to make a difference and make the world a better place. To have such people be tortured into insanity is truly heartwrenching.
- When Whitebeard finally dies, we are given the reactions of both Kaido and Big Mom, his old crewmates from his time with the Rocks Pirates. Kaido is raging through the skies of Wano and he's roaring and crying into a storm created by his powers, a storm that's raining, and Big Mom enters one of her food rages demanding sake, only after she's given some she starts raging again and demanding more. It gets so bad that Whole Cake Island has to be evacuated, but everyone that was on the island can hear her crying out for days how the sake doesn't taste right, that it didn't taste the same at all. Despite how they are, Whitebeard's death has hit them and it's hit them hard.
- While the Christmas Special is, for the most part, wall-to-the-wall Heartwarming, it does have two moments:
- First, when Cross, Vivi, Carue, Sanji, and Nami all realize that they're away from their loved ones for Christmas. Luckily, Soundbite doesn't let the mood last.
- Second, and far more heartwrenching, is Brook: still trapped in the Florian, dreaming of his old crew before waking to reality. Even his skull joke is melancholy.
Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island
- Breathing in Lily Carnation's spores slowly drive the crew to turn on each other, all while the SBS listeners hear their loved ones and one of the best pirate crews in the world slowly self-destruct.
- Especially since Cross, being more human than anyone else present, is extra susceptible to the spores. To hear him slowly become overly focused on the SBS's viewer count at the expense of his crewmates' bonds is both terrifying and heartbreaking.
- And the fact that they cannot even call Soundbite to warn them.
- The sheer fact that not only did 17 out of 19 of the Straw Hat Pirates succumb to the horror that is Lily Carnation, the whole damn world listened to the entire event. Loved ones included.
- And then Soundbite's Snail Transceiver managed to transmit a VIDEO of the monstrosity to anyone with an available screen.
- In spite of him having up to this point the most unwavering upbeat and snarky attitude of the entire crew no matter how much danger they were in, when it seemed like everyone in the crew was dead and absorbed into Lily Carnation, including his best friend Cross, and it looked like Luffy had given in and died, for quite a long time the only thing the SBS broadcasted was audio of Soundbite openly weeping and sobbing out of sheer terror and despair.
The entire room gasped as they saw every arrow, every last one of the thousands of arrows scattered beneath the blood-red moon, begin to soar towards Luffy. And the worst part was that Luffy didn't run; he only slowly began to turn towards the storm of complete death that soared towards him. Actually, no. The worst part was the glimpse of his face everyone caught. Dull. Lifeless. The arrows... they were merely finishing a job already complete. It was a face they were all far too familiar with.And as one of their number took in the sight, something in his brain snapped, and he realized exactly what he was seeing."LUUUUUUUFFYYYYYYY!" Sabo screamed as the arrows struck.
- And to make things worse, whose memories should come rushing back when he sees Luffy seemingly about to die? That's right, Sabo. It's every bit as heartwrenching as you'd think.
- Shanks himself calls the SBS at the end of the special, and he can barely stop sobbing long enough to fill the Straw Hats in on what memories were ripped out of their heads.
- It's an example that overlaps with Fridge Horror, but Buggy visited the Secret Island with a crew of his own before... and saw Lily Carnation eat them all. He was the only survivor. As he mentions whilst trying to warn the Straw Hats by phoning in to SBS, nobody deserves that. It gets worse when you make the logical deduction that the trauma of this event is most likely why he gave up on trying to find his former captain's treasure and instead sequestered himself in the comparative safety of East Blue.