SPOILERS ARE UNMARKED, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
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- Azurda's death at the start of Chapter 2. Despite him getting better, Rex's breakdown at losing his grandfather-figure and only real companion for nearly five years is genuine.
- The final scene of Chapter 3 dishes several of these out.
- Sever launching Tora and Poppi into a wall, causing the latter to malfunction. The distress in Tora's voice as he calls her name sounds completely genuine.
- Dromarch takes a slash meant for Nia from Akhos. She looks like she's about to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge until Obrona strikes her down.
- Vandham dying at the hands of Malos, all while urging Rex to take Pyra and run away. Rex simply doesn't want to do this, wishing to aid Vandham instead. Nia briefly considers revealing herself as a Flesh Eater in order to bypass Obrona jamming the other blade's ether connection and heal Vandham but can't bring herself to do it.
- Heck, even the destruction of Obrona is surprisingly sad instead of satisfying or happy. Akhos sounds distraught as she vapourises, weakly calling his name in the process. Then there's the shot of him lamenting at the sight of her broken core crystal on the ground. There are no happy or victorious audio cues as this happens, just melancholy piano music.
- Rex crying over Vandham's death after the villains retreat. Rex's English voice actor, Al Weaver, may get criticism for his shouting, but he portrays his indignant, dry-heaving sobs incredibly well as it sets in for him that Vandham, someone who he considered a mentor over the course of the chapter, has died.
- Iona's Survivor Guilt afterwards as she not only feels completely responsible for Vandham dying, but talking to her and Cole later reveals that she's been suffering from nightmares since and all he's been able to do is give her books to read as a means of doing anything to take her mind off it. Cole knowing he doesn't have much longer to live makes it even worse for the poor girl. On a positive note there is a side quest you can take to improve his health and extend his life to a degree.
- Fan La Norne's death. While she didn't have the chance to be in the story for long, it becomes a Harsher in Hindsight moment if you play the DLC and get to know her better. Poor Haze spent centuries being used by someone she never wanted to be bonded to, and Jin believed giving her a Mercy Kill was justified. He immediately regrets it as in a final moment of familiarity Haze caresses his face, though this is not enough for him to not try to kill the rest of the party right after.
- Talking with the NPCs around Indol after her death shows that even in her new identity, Fan meant a lot to the people of Indol and did a lot of good for them. Spending 500 years forcibly bonded to Amalthus, having her Core Crystal mutilated and her memories as Haze erased even more thoroughly than most Blades when they reset, all that did nothing to change her inherent kindness.
- After Jin delivers a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to the party at the end of Chapter 6, Pyra bargains for the life of her friends by offering to go with Torna or she'll order Siren to destroy her. After Torna concedes, Jin delivers a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Rex by calling him a fool for failing to realize the kind of pain Pyra was in.
- Rex's English voice actor, Al Weaver, once again deserves mention. From right after the No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to the very end of the scene, he's able to convey Rex's emotions very well, adding to the weight of the scene. Special mention goes to the end, where he genuinely sounds in pain with his voice audibly shaking before he cries out Pyra's name, followed by him audibly collapsing after the title card appears.
- At the start of Chapter 7, Rex wakes up to realize that he's lost Pyra and cries out of despair (Pictured above). He tells his friends that he was an idiot for thinking he could be a driver and intends to return to Argentum. Fortunately, Nia, Brighid and Poppi are able to get him out of his depression. Even so, the scene is still very heart-tugging for the points the three make, especially Brighidnote and Poppi.note
- All of them even go as far as to physically scold Rex. Nia smashes into Rex hard enough to make him fall, and when that's not enough, Brighid slaps Rex. The lone exception is Poppi, while about to punch Rex, can't bring herself to do so. Only lightly patting his face. Bonus points for a robot of all things sounding like she's on the verge of tears.
- During the subsequent fight with Jin and Malos, both Pyra and Mythra beg Rex to just give up and run away, saying there's no point trying to fight anymore, that they're not worth risking his life for, and most of all, that they deserve to die because of all the pain and death their power as the Aegis has caused. It turns out they didn't want to go to Elysium to meet the Architect. They wanted to go there so they could die so that their power can't hurt anyone else.
- The opening of Chapter 9. It is a flashback to Amalthus' days as a Quaestor, showing him helping out refugees of war. However, Amalthus then comes across one of the refugees whose life he saved killing and stealing from an innocent family. Amalthus then kills the refugee before he can kill the family's baby, before taking said baby and is implied to have killed it in what he sees as a Mercy Kill. He then looks up at the World Tree before asking "O' Architect! Is this the world that you intended?"
- Mikhail's Heroic Sacrifice in Chapter 9. Up until this point Mikhail has been an outright Jerkass with shades of having a Hidden Heart of Gold yet despite that he sacrifices himself to save the heroes. He even makes it clear that he hates the world and humans most of all but due to having an existential crisis, chooses to save Rex and allow him to try and stop Jin as Mikhail attempts to buy time in his fight against Amalthus. What makes it even worse is his final moments as he remembers surviving Amalthus' attempt at killing the refugees and the time when Jin and Lora took him under their wing.
- Mixed with heartwarming, in the final chapter as he prepares for death, Klaus remarks that perhaps he will be able to face Galea again, likely aware that at this point she is dead.
- Klaus's entire situation. It is clear that the guilt of his experiment so long ago still weighs heavily, as even though he created the world of Xenoblade and created life in Xenoblade 2 he has become so despondent in seeing Amalthus continuing humanity's worst traits that he sees his atonement as doomed to fail, even allowing Malos to walk right past him to Aion.
- Klaus mentioning he can see his other half’s future demise and later hearing Shulk’s words during the final battle all but states that Klaus knows about and can see all the atrocities his other half commits as Zanza but can do nothing about it. It may even fuel his desire to atone for his sin as Zanza is him and only exists because of his mistake.
- Rex and everyone finally reaches Elysium, the promised land that will provide for all the people of Alrest, only to find that it is a barren ruin even worse off than Mor Ardain. All of Rex's hopes and dreams are dashed, leading into him believing that his friends all now hate him for having led them all on a wild-goose chase. Klaus projects this belief out towards him as angered ghosts of his friends for his Secret Test of Character, but from Rex's perspective, it felt like his friends really do hate him now, to the point of outright attacking him for a lie he didn't mean to make.
- The hallucination he has of Nia also implies that he knows she has actual romantic feelings for him and he is feeling immense guilt for breaking her heart because he only has eyes for Pyra.Nia: This whole time, it was always about "Pyra, Pyra, Pyra"!
Nia: We came all this way...and for what?!
Nia: Why didn't you take more notice of me?!
- Morag and Brighid blame their inability to stop the deaths of Niall and the other people of Mor Ardain on Rex's "misleading".Morag: Niall...my people...this is all your fault!
Brighid: Deceiving blades with your pipe dreams...inexcusable!
- Meanwhile, Tora bemoans his inability to be a real Driver alongside Poppi, who basically says that she never asked to be born. After Poppi had earlier confessed how Tora and her looked up to him, that must've hurt.Tora: Tora try so hard, but it was impossible to become real driver!
Poppi: Driver of Aegis? That is total joke.
- Finally, Zeke demands that Rex hands over the Aegis' power to someone more worthy (i.e. him).Zeke: Amalthus' plans were possible because of you! You put the whole world in danger!
Pandoria: You really think you were doing all this for Pyra, Rex?! You could never make ANYONE happy!
- The hallucination he has of Nia also implies that he knows she has actual romantic feelings for him and he is feeling immense guilt for breaking her heart because he only has eyes for Pyra.
- Despite what should normally be a happy moment, Rex's anxiousness and self doubt, understandable given what he has been through, when having a meal with Pyra and Mythra in the last part of Klaus's Secret Test of Character can be hard to watch. It also ends up upsetting Pyra to the point of telling Klaus to just stop the whole test.Pyra: I think...that's enough. Please, father?
- The first part of the ending, where Poppi upon request from Pyra/Mythra prevents Rex from trying to stop her Heroic Sacrifice. It is clear that the whole situation is causing Poppi considerable emotional pain as well. Thankfully those tears turn into happy tears post credits where Pyra/Mythra's core crystal restores itself, causing Poppi to immediately hug the both of them.
- It's easy to read Rex's attempt to Anchor Shot across as wanting to be Together in Death with Pyra and Mythra.
- Shortly after, the whole party encourages Rex to have the emotional strength to accept Pyra's Heroic Sacrifice, and Nia's encouragement consists solely of a silent, sympathetic look. It's possible to interpret Rex's expression as finally noticing how much he really means to Nia, which make her "Go on, be happy" nod in the game's closing moments even more heart-wrenching.
- Jin and Lora's story in its entirety. To recap: it all starts with Lora being nearly killed by her (presumably) father for accidentally awakening Jin from his core crystal. Even though the two share a few happy years together, it only goes downhill from there. Between Jin's identity issues, Lora's fear of him forgetting her, Indol's attack on Torna, and Jin becoming a Flesh Eater, it's no wonder the poor guy just wants to disappear by the end of it. The shot of Jin sitting in a dark alley, in pouring rain, right before Malos finds him is quite possibly one of the saddest images in the entire game, and that's saying something.Malos: He no longer wanted anything. He didn't even want to live anymore. And despite that... His life was the one thing he hadn't lost... BECAUSE HE COULDN'T!
- Ironically, Amalthus' story ends up being very tragic in itself. Having his mother killed by bandits and later killing one of the bandits himself at a young age, he truly strived for a better world once, but time and time again, the world would just show him reasons to feed his Misanthrope Supreme status, like having one of the men he healed in battle be responsible of killing a family and leaving a baby behind or the existence of people trafficking Blades and using them for pleasure. Even if it doesn't justify his actions of effectively being behind the tragic stories of the Torna group and the titans dying as a result of his actions, you can't help but feel that it could've turned out different if the world wasn't so harsh around him.
- This also very much applies to his Alas, Poor Villain death. Even after being consumed by his own ideal of being The Architect's will and wearing an armor filled with thousands of blade cores, he ends up having a Villainous Breakdown when he gets defeated by Jin. Zeke cannot help but recall the times where Amalthus was being kind to him, helping him recover from his injuries, and how much he disliked having this worldview of everyone being horrible to some degree. His last moments end up him desperately calling to The Architect, and being reunited with his mother after all of his years without her.
- Malos' meeting with the Architect/Klaus. The former asks what he's wanted to know for a long time: did he ever have any free will when causing all the pain and destruction that has afflicted Alrest? While Klaus's answer is that Malos made the decisions alongside Amalthus, his brief silence and later explanation to Rex's group can be seen as implying that Malos didn't really make those choices. Throughout this meeting, it's made clear that Malos isn't happy with his role in the world despite him never saying it, and his voice is full of self-hatred at his own existence.Malos: Thanks for creating me...father.
- The entire final battle with Malos' is this, revealing that he also grew beyond his programming and had suicidal feelings like Mythra. He hated watching Jin living in pain for years and found it cruel that he couldn't die because of Lora's dying words; and when Azurda points out that it was HIS fault and how Jin and Lora would have likely lived full, happy lives if it weren't for him, Malos accepts his role as the "evil monster" and ignores Pneuma's pleas since he's the "bad guy".
- The entire side quest to recruit Vess becomes this as her Driver, Mabon, asks the party to run some errands that he's become incapable of completing himself: namely, recovering some artifacts from his previous adventures and delivering them to his children. During this, the team gets to know him and Vess quite well and see how close they are as a family. Once everything is done, Mabon closes his eyes and quietly passes away with a smile on his face while Vess, who is in the kitchen making dinner, returns to her Core Crystal completely unaware. It's also entirely possible to inform Mabon's children of his death.
- One side quest involves helping Jac, the Gormotti who the team saw become a Driver for Mor Ardain at the start of Chapter 2. The quest leads to them solving the case of the murder of an Ardanian senator who was also a young mother. It turns out that Jac's Disappeared Dad has allied himself with the killers, who had been wanting revenge on the empire for the death of his wife and Jac's mother, which forced Jac to become a Driver in the first place: to support his siblings. Jac gives him an epic chewing-out for abandoning his siblings for revenge, but this line is where the trope hits home:Jac: All you did was take another kid's mom away from him!
- The quest chain regarding sister Blades Praxis and Theory, and the criminal Drivers known as Core Crystal hunters.
- During the first quest, "Crystal Clear", Rex and company hatch a plan with the Ardainian forces to separate the two Blades via two separate "bait caches". The plan doesn't work; both Praxis and Theory confront the group, and are joined by Theory's emotionally-abusive Driver. Mid-battle, Praxis suddenly returns to her Core Crystal—a sign that her Driver perished against the Imperials at the second site. Theory's Driver, frustrated with this turn of events, orders Theory to retreat, and the Blade is clearly torn about leaving her teammate to these people.
- In the second quest, "Blade-Sharp Memory", set after the party reawakens Praxis, Theory tries to jog Praxis's memory by leading the group to places the two had traveled to as Core Crystal hunters. Predictably, Praxis doesn't remember, much to the normally-cool-headed Blade's anguish. The final leg of the quest draws the team to Temperantia, where Theory and the remaining thieves lie in wait. Theory's Driver pressures Theory to kill the team and "free" Praxis's Core Crystal—when Mòrag realizes what the Driver did, she's disgusted with the cowardly thief. With Praxis unwilling to let the hunters kill her friends, the resulting clash culminates with Theory killing her Driver, effectively committing suicide to save Praxis. Praxis tearfully promises the fading Theory that she will "always remember what you meant to me".Theory: That's a...promise...Pra...x...
- Before going to confront Theory, you have the choice of either telling Praxis what she was before or keeping her in the dark. Although she doesn't let it bother her too much, she's understandably shocked that she was such a horrible Blade in her past life.
- The third quest, "Theory & Praxis", deals with the repercussions of their criminal pasts. Praxis tries to smooth things over with one of their past victims, but understandably, he panics and calls for help from some mercs. Things eventually get better for the sisters, but it's still poignant to know that just because these Blades don't remember their pasts misdeeds, that doesn't mean their victims will simply forget. Theory even brushes away the idea initially, saying they can't atone for what they did, but Praxis refuses to accept that.
- Dismissing any Blade — common or rare — can invoke this, depending on how much of their Affinity Chart you’ve completed. Their responses can range from heartfelt farewells to angrily chewing you out to just making you feel horrible for doing so.
- Once you can utilize Blade Nia, she will admonish Rex for taking a particularly nasty hit by shouting, "Stop it! Stop being so reckless!" Both the genuine fear in her voice and her recent Love Confession can make it a hard pill to swallow.
- Some post-battle dialogue with Vandham reveals that he previously had a son, who is implied to have died sometime before the party meets Vandham. One post-battle conversation even has Vandham on the verge of tears as he recounts his deceased son.