- Sometime before the E3 trailer was released, a dodgy translation of a Japanese magazine article (which translated Yusnaan as "the City of Pleasure") led fans to instantly assume the worst about Snow's role as the Patriarch of said city. Opinions quickly changed once the trailer, and then the game, made it very obvious just how emotionally broken he was after Serah's death.
Snow: I couldn't protect the world, don't you get that!? Let me have this! Let me get it right just this once! ... Say what you want, but nothing changes the fact that I promised to make Serah happy, and I couldn't even keep her from dying! This is what I deserve! I know it, and you know it!
- This a man who acted as the moral compass and emotional support to a group of fugitives who were given a (more or less) divine mandate to destroy their own civilization, and never lost faith that they would be able to find away around it and save their home and their people. To see him this broken and hopeless is heartbreaking.
- When Lightning finally does get to have a straight confrontation with Snow, the man stays gloomily composed until just before he absorbs the last of countless Chaos infusions into himself (to protect everyone else from it) and can no longer hold back his Cie'th transformation. His voice sounds out the anguish of a man whose optimistic STEELGUARD is crumbling.
- The sidequest to help the exploration robot Bhakti rescue some friends who are stuck behind a locked door. Once you give him all the fuel he needs and break open the door, you find out that his "friends" weren't robots as Lightning erroneously assumed, but were humans, and they starved to death long ago leaving only skeletons. The letter one of them leaves behind asks whoever finds their bodies to please take care of Bhakti, or if he has broken down, to bury him with them. Bhakti is crushed as he had been waiting for hundreds of years to reunite with his friends, and he too stops operating moments later as his systems finally give out, but not before transferring Eradia to Lightning. A shocked Lightning asks Hope if a robot could have a soul, to which Hope reluctantly answers probably not due to it being a creation of humans and not gods. Fang on the other hand vehemently disagrees.
- Really, due to the nature of how quests are, many, if not most have potential for this. Some are seemingly innocuous, until you reach the end. For one, you are tasked with helping a family restaurant turn around, and end up reuniting an estranged father and son. For another, you're asked to go on a date with a man who was stood up, if just to honor a reservation and not let it go to waste. Turns out, by "stood up" he meant his love had died, and this was his way of letting her go.
- One of the sidequests actually is about a girl who can cry at the drop of a hat, by making her "head and heart go empty" and sells her tears for money. But for several days, while Lightning pays her, the girl can't cry. When she can't, she decides to tell Lightning a bit about her backstory. Finally, the girl ends up breaking down in tears after having relived the painful memories of her past by talking to Lightning and can heal her heart by crying honestly and openly, for the first time in likely centuries.
- To make it better (or worse), the specific thing that finally makes her shed tears is the fear that she's lost her heart by no longer being able to genuinely cry.
- The "Get The Girl" sidequest involves an alcoholic who is depressed because his girlfriend up and left him one day. He asks you to find out where she is, so he can ask why she left and make reconcile. So Lightning asks around and it turns out the girl was the only person who managed to somehow continue aging normally and die a natural death of old age in this world. You find her grave in the Luxerion graveyard and the man Lackley must now learn to accept this as well as mourn her.
- Lightning pleading with Snow to come back from his transformation into a Cie'th. The fact that Lightning herself is on the verge of tears should say a lot."No matter how far away your journey took you, or how long you stayed apart... She thought she would be with you again! I know she still believes it now!! Her soul is dreaming of being with you again right now, you stupid fool! If you're not here anymore, then what is my sister supposed to come home to? ...Snow, I'm begging you. You have to live!"
- Serah having to say goodbye to Mog can be a gut punch.We'll meet again.
- The "To Live in Chaos" sidequest. Once you fully heal the Angel/Odin and beat Caius, you are informed by people at the train station that Canopus Farms is under attack. Once there you find a permanent Chaos infusion, inhabited by a Chocobo Eater. You're sent inside to rescue the Chocobo from said monster, however, no matter what you do, you are too late.
- Hope's Disappears into Light farewell to Lightning, who tries to grab him as he fades away. Especially this line:Hope: Because you're with me, Light...I'm not afraid.
- Lightning's reactions during this scene. She's just full of self-deprecation, remarking that she always fails when it matters the most, and now she can't even keep her promise to protect him.
- When Lightning does save Hope, she tells him to go on to the new world to be with his parents. He asks "but what about you?" and tries to turn back when she doesn't answer, but she cuts him off with this:Lightning: Someone needs to control the Chaos. This is my duty. ...You go. You survive.
- Lightning hitting the Despair Event Horizon when she realizes that she can't be reborn with everyone else in the new world and has to rule as its goddess, forever alone. Yes, Hope comes back for her and she's able to go with him to the new world, which is a Tear Jerker of a different kind, but that is still a depressing thing to see.
Lightning: Please... Don't... Don't leave me alone!
- Ali Hallis's voice acting makes it hit all the harder.
- Masashi Hamauzu, Naoshi Mizuta and Mitsuto Suzuki's "Credits Light Eternal" playing over the credits is a major tearjerker for the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, as it not only represents Lightning and her traveling to a new world to decide their own fate, but also the end of ''Final Fantasy XIII'' completely.
- The game ends with Lightning hoping to reunite with one of her friends at a village. What a perfect way to end a trilogy.
- The post-game novella implies that it's Hope she's looking for there.
- Caius and Yeul's final fate. With the exception of the last Yeul, who is free to go with Noel, every one of her reincarnations that is, hundreds of them) replace Etro as the Goddess of Death. Caius chooses to stay with them... meaning that it will probably be thousands of years before they are freed from this particular fate, if they are at all.
Tearjerker / Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII