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Tear Jerker / Mass Effect 2

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"Square root of 912.04 is 30.2... It all seemed harmless..."

Sad moments in Mass Effect 2:

  • The first scene, where you see your beloved Normandy go down. Even knowing it gets replaced by the SR-2 doesn't do much to take the edge off when it happens.
  • If you send a traumatized Veetor to Cerberus instead of letting Tali take him, he'll show up later in her loyalty mission, even more of a nervous wreck and unable to travel without a doctor. What the Hell, Hero?
  • Ashley's/Kaidan's rejection of you on Horizon. Seeing your former girlfriend/boyfriend/best friend completely disown you... Then reading their email afterwards... Christ, that's sad.
    • Even more sad is how they react just before meeting you. They chew out an ungrateful dockhand who's nasty to Shepard, and then, when Shepard is alone with Ashley/Kaidan, they walk over to you, smile, and shake your hand (or hug if you romanced). But they don't sound happy, and then they flip out. Then it hits you: You've been gone for two years: Ash/Kaidan had to cope with that for two years, a death so traumatic Kaidan equates it to losing a limb, and then you just drop out of the sky when they've tried to move on with their lives. Even without being with Cerberus, they've been severely emotionally damaged by what happened. The fact that you're with terrorists can truly be considered a betrayal, in their eyes.
    • The reunion with a romanced Liara isn't much better. For Shepard, it was only weeks, maybe days ago that they were together... and then you start to realize how much Liara's changed because of interim events. Like with Ashley and Kaidan, it's the whole concept of waking up one day to find that two years have gone by, and the person you loved has moved on without you.
      • The payoff is that if you remain loyal to your Mass Effect 1 romance, before the Suicide Mission, Shepard picks up a photograph of their loved one and looks at it with a small smile.
      • The reunion scene uses "Vigil" from the first game. Thinking about the connotations of the track, even just the name, gives one chills. Such loneliness... *sniff*
      • The Lair Of The Shadow Broker DLC finally shows Shepard letting everything out. When Liara visits she asks Shep to tell her how they truly feel. The options are either cautiously hopeful, frustrated, or truly scared. The way Meer and Hale deliver these lines is heartbreaking because it truly shows that even Shepard, under that cool commanding persona, can be just as frightened as the everyone else about the threat or frustrated that everything they are doing to stop the Reapers is in vain. Even more striking is that this is not a Paragade choice but strictly based on how Shepard truly feels.
      • If the frustration choice is chosen, Shepard will opine that not even their closest friends believe them about the seriousness of the Reaper threat, with Liara giving her condolences for how ugly the situation between Shepard and Ashley/Kaidan went on Horizon.
    • Getting back together with Liara in Lair of the Shadow Broker is a Heartwarming Moment, but the conversation Shepard and Liara have on the Normandy afterwards has a moment that really makes you tear up:
      Liara T'Soni: I spent two years mourning you. So if we're going to try this, I need to know you're always coming back.
  • If you attempt to romance a squad member, they will at first try to back out. Garrus, Tali and Thane all believe themselves undeserving of Shepard's affection, and Jack tries to fend Shepard off out a fear she'll hurt him.
  • Tali's tirade against Shepard if they suggest colonizing a different world during her loyalty mission. It really drives home just what the quarians are going through. Liz Sroka's voice acting was superbly done here.
    Tali: (to Shepard) You have no idea what it's like! You have a planet to go back to! My home is one hull breach away from extinction!
    Shepard: You've got a place here, Tali. Don't throw it away in a war you don't need.
    Tali: Don't need? Shepard, if I don't wear a helmet in my own home, I die! A single kiss could put me in the hospital! Every time you touch a flower with bare fingers, inhale its fragrance without air filters, you are doing something I can't!
    • There's a bit of Fridge Sadness in that statement, too. Back at the beginning of the game, Jacob tells you that she was on the first Normandy when it was destroyed. So that line about her home being "one hull breach away from extinction?" That's not hyperbole; she actually watched it happen once.
  • Tali's breakdown upon finding her father dead on a geth-infested quarian ship, and the Paragon interrupt that lets you hug her.
    • Not hugging Tali. Can't do it? Don't worry, this guy did it for you. The scene is painful enough with the hug; not taking the interrupt takes the tear jerking up to eleven. Some may feel hugging her at that point is patronizing and letting Tali vent is a better option, which is also a heartwrenching moment on its own.
    • Just the sheer pain in Tali's voice as she recounts how Rael let her down as a dad, a mixture of both sad and pissed. She sounds like she's holding back tears, but with that mask she easily could be crying and you wouldn't know.
      Tali: I wanted a father who would take the sick-leave time and let me see his face without a helmet in the way... instead I got orders. And [his corpse]. And a panel of admirals who think I'm a traitor.
    • The revelation that Tali's father did love her dearly and that all he did, the experiments, the parental neglect through his constant work, all of it was so his daughter could eventually and finally have a home again. The man made heartwrenching sacrifices for his girl. In Tali's own words, she didn't know what was worse - that she spent her life believing that her father didn't love her...or that he did, but never knew how to show it while he was alive.
    • In that loyalty mission there's also a part of the Alarei's Apocalyptic Log that you can find. (About 4:42) It's a female quarian who's recording a message as the geth cut into the room she's in. As the video ends, she says (to her own kid), "Be strong for Daddy! Mommy loves you very much!" as the geth blast into the room and shoot her.
  • If you get evidence on the Alarei and tell Tali that since her father is dead, he won't need her to protect him, her response - particularly the way her voice cracks, is heartbreaking.
    Tali: They'll strike his name from the manifest of every ship he ever served on! He'll be worse than an exile. He'd be a traitor, a monster to be held up to children in a cautionary tale! I can't let all the good he did be destroyed by this!
    • If you go against her wishes and present the evidence to the other admirals anyway, you get to see her Heroic BSoD as the trial crowd goes into uproar. Even without being able to see Tali's facial expression, her body language tells you everything you need to know, and it's absolutely crushing. And that's before you get to the Fridge Horror of this action all but ensuring that, barring a miracle, she'll die in the attack on the Collector base.
      • Once you get back to the Normandy, Tali rips into you for ignoring her. What makes it somehow worse is that while of course she's angry, more than anything she's in palpable agony—you betrayed her. And this after she trusted you, implicitly, despite all the evidence against you.
    Tali: I backed you! I wasn't sure you were doing the right thing but I backed my friend! You went into my trial and did exactly what I begged you not to do! Because you thought you knew better.
    Shepard: Sometimes friendship is about doing what's right for someone, even if they don't agree with it.
    Tali: ...Shepard, I spent my whole life watching my father make decisions I didn't agree with. He always told me he was "doing it for me". I just saw him commit war crimes on my behalf and without my consent. I didn't need another father back there. I needed a friend. [...] Don't...don't talk to me, unless you need something.
    • Everything about Tali is a tear-jerker. She secretly fell in love with Shepard during the first game, but couldn't bring herself to tell him, so she possibly had to watch him become romantic with another crew member. Then, she spends two years convinced he's dead. After you meet her on Freedom's Progress, a good portion of her squad gets massacred through no fault of her own. When you meet her on Haestrom, another squad under her command has been slaughtered. Then, after you take her onboard, she gets charged with treason, then finds out in one of the most painful ways that her father is dead, then learns he was breaking essentially every quarian law by building geth aboard his ship and has to choose between condemning her father or being exiled from the fleet. And this all happens to one of the sweetest, most likable characters in the game.
      • Taken up to eleven when you speak to the members of the Admiralty Board and learn that Tali is only being accused of treason to determine whether or not the entire Migrant Fleet should try to take back their homeworld from the geth.
      Shepard: Do whatever you want with your toy ships, but leave my crew out of your political bullshit!
      • The geth even get one, albeit a very subtle one. Tali's father and his coworkers were doing what would qualify as horrific experiments on them, first piecing them together from dozens of broken geth platforms and then trying to figure out ways to most effectively destroy them. While some of the videos left by the quarians are tearjerkers, the mother begging for her child to be good for her father before being gunned down by the geth? That's the geth executing one of the scientists who had been effectively torturing them for an unknown period of time with goals of racial genocide. And then Shepard and Company come through and kill all of them.
  • The ending of Kasumi's loyalty mission, where she gets her boyfriend Keiji's last message. The cocky and upbeat character is finally brought to tears. She even tries to hold on to the projection of him.
  • The DLC where you explore the wreckage of the Normandy. Collecting the dog tags, all the little flashbacks... a clear example of Snow Means Death.
    • At one point, the player finds the deceased Navigator Pressly's journal. In the first game, Pressly is distrustful of your alien crew members when you first meet him. However his journal reveals that by spending time with the crew, he came to trust the aliens just as much as any human. The final entry states that Pressly would gladly give his life for any crew member, regardless of species.
    • Not to mention being able to find the dog tags in the wreckage because they were glowing. It was like you were collecting their souls and they were just waiting to be found and brought home. No one gets left behind under Shepard's command.
    • The strangely appropriate ending to the Mako, half-frozen in a block of ice - stuck in the level geometry one last time.
    • The fact that you take no squad members with you on this assignment (no need, there are no enemies). That also means there is no dialog. Just Shepard, silently wandering the remains of their ship. And because there are no conversations, that also means that this is pretty much the one time both Paragon and Renegade Shepard react to a situation with exactly the same behavior; reverent silence.
    • If you aren't using an area map, running around looking for the scattered dog tags can give the effect of Shepard slowly going delirious at the scene from grief and hypothermia. If the environment suits are anything like the ones in the first game, they're resistant to cold weather, but not impervious to it - so if Shepard suffered a Heroic BSoD on the planet and collapsed, it's not exactly guaranteed that anyone would know what happened soon enough to intervene, and they wouldn't have another shuttle to send anyway.
    • When you find the destroyed crew section. Most of the time, Shepard's flashbacks are of the way the ship used to look. When they find the crew section? A picture of whichever squad member died on Virmire. One wonders if Shepard will ever forgive themselves.
    • It somehow manages to be even worse if you're in another piece of Cerberus Network DLC, the Cerberus Assault Armor. Something about wearing a Cerberus uniform to the crash site feels like defiling something sacred.
  • A surprisingly potent one at the end of the game, when Harbinger releases control of the Collector General for the first time in the entire game, and it looks around before slumping in a dejected manner as the station explodes around it... Doubly so if that was one of the original Collectors- in other words, a Prothean. After 50,000 years, he's finally free... only to die right after.
    • The Collectors as a whole: the Reapers didn't even show the Protheans the dignity of simply wiping them out; they just rounded them up, tore out their souls, cybernetically modified what was left and turned them into tools.
  • In Mordin's loyalty mission, you can have a conversation over the body of a dead krogan female. Mordin states his anger over the senseless loss of life that was going on in the facility, and whispers a prayer to the dead female. He sounds so distraught and passionate about his ethical issues and feelings of guilt and the sadness of what had to be done, and it's one of the most moving and well-written moments in the entire game.
    • In that same scene, if you've already played through Mass Effect 3, one quote he says is even Harsher in Hindsight: "Had to be me. Others might have gotten it wrong."
    • In the same mission, the speaker for Clan Weyrloc makes an impassioned, enraged speech about the piles of stillborn krogan children caused by the genophage. Even though the guy's a total Jerkass and tries to kill you immediately afterwards, you can hear his voice giving out when he mentions the stillborns. It's pretty clear from his speech that he feels like he's got nothing left, and he's lashing out at the galaxy in the only way he knows how. It's hard not to be moved by the situation that all krogan have been left in, caused by events that happened centuries past. Shepard can attempt to talk down and emphasize with the clanspeaker, but he rejects them so fiercely you can practically feel his rage.
    Shepard: It doesn't have to happen like this. I can understand wanting to cure the genophage-
    Weyrloc Clanspeaker: No, human, you understand NOTHING! You have not seen the piles of children that never lived!
    • The end of the quest, where you learn that his student didn't get kidnapped, but allied himself to the krogan of his own free will so he could try to find the cure to the genophage? That doesn't sound too bad, but when your party fails to convince him that the Krogan might start a rampage from the ensuing power trip, Mordin pulls out his gun and shoots him if the player doesn't use a Paragon quick-time event and prevent him. Just listen to his voice after that... he's so disappointed and crushed.
      Mordin: Apologies, Commander. Misunderstood mission parameters. No kidnapping. My mistake. Thank you.
      • Poignantly, this is one of the few times in the game where Mordin uses a personal pronoun (or a pronoun at all) while serious. He doesn't say "Made mistake." or some such, he says my mistake. It's something he can't quite distance himself from.
      • If you let Mordin kill Maelon, then the above quote is absolutely heartshattering. After spending the entire mission trying to convince himself more than Shepard that he did not kill needlessly, Mordin murders Maelon in cold blood because once again, he had no other choice.
      • Knowing this, his line after using the Paragon quick-time provokes also to wipe eyes. It really shows how much of effect the mission had on Mordin. Again, the tone of his voice really tugs the heartstrings.
      Mordin: No...not a murderer! Thank you, Shepard.
    • The dead woman herself. She volunteered to be a subject for Maelon's experiments because she couldn't have children, and they killed her. We have no idea who she was, where she was from or what her name was, but she's a heartbreaking reminder that for all of Mordin's protests that the genophage killed no one, only limited fertility, it did kill people, and one of them is an unknown krogan woman who just wanted to have children who could live. One has to wonder how many others killed themselves for similar reasons — or might have been killed for being infertile. The effect is amplified by Mordin saying a prayer for the departed and citing a Salarian philosophy which claims you reincarnate after death and can then work to fix mistakes you made in past lives, and by Paragon Shepard hitting him with a harsh truth.
      Shepard: Look at the dead woman, Mordin. It doesn't look like you saved her.
      Mordin: ...No, it doesn't.
      • Made even worse in the third game when you talk with Eve, one of the surviving female krogan who volunteered to this experiments. She mentions that some of the krogan women did, in fact, wandered off in the wilderness to get killed by the fauna after their children born dead. It's pretty clear that, when the Salarians created the Genophage, they didn't even think about the emotional impact.
    • Maelon comes off as a real tragic figure. He sees those involved in the dispersal of the modified Genophage as monsters, including himself, is implied to be mad with misery and regret and it's clear he's desperate to undo what he sees as a horrible mistake. Not to mention his disillusionment with Mordin, his old mentor.
    Maelon: How was I supposed to disagree with the great Dr. Solus? I was your student! I LOOKED UP TO YOU!
    Maelon: Don't you see? We tried to play God and we failed!
    Shepard: You really think anything you did here is justified?
    Maelon: We committed genocide! Nothing I do will ever be justified!
    • Mordin's unique manner of speaking, voicing his thought process out loud as he works through problems and questions, takes a whole new darker role here, practically telegraphing Mordin's conflicted emotions and multi-layered excuses for working on the genophage project ticking away one by one if you confront him about it. Most of the times, at the end of his spiels, he will take a breath before giving a final, decisive conclusion in a terse manner, before moving onto the next topic, but here, he never reaches that point. Every time he almost reaches it, he's hit with another cruel reality, forcing him to confront what the STG did, what he did, on Tuchanka. And every time, he goes off, giving scientific explanations, referring to statistics and scenarios that show that a Krogan resurgence would have been disastrous, that they had to upgrade the genophage... and yet nothing he says adequately justifies the atrocity he was a part of, and deep down, he knows it.
  • How about the small details, the tiny additions that just hit you straight in the heart? On Tali's quest when you find the final recording of the quarian female speaking to her son. Or the fact that the way they played the recordings, the very last one you find (before the evidence) is the female quarian saying how happy she is that the project is going to be a success? Or finding the asari on Illium who won't help the Zhu's Hope colonists, and realizing you knew both her daughters, and both died? Losing any member of your squad in the suicide mission, and knowing it was because of your own stupid screwup? ME2 is loaded to the brim with tearjerkers.
  • Samara's mission. She has to kill her own daughter, because she's an out of control murderer. And that's mostly because of her genes, which are also partly Samara's genes. The way she is after it all...
  • Adding on to the tragedy is the story of Nef, the teenage girl whose murder Shepard and Samara investigate at the beginning of the mission. Nef was just a girl living on one of the worst shitholes in the galaxy when she had the grand misfortune of catching Morinth's attention. Morinth spent a period of time appealing to Nef's artistic and musical tastes and also got her addicted to a drug, Hallex, that made her more impressionable and open to suggestions. Nef's diary entries show how badly she had been influenced by Morinth, with her final entry having her excitedly talking about her dreams of running away with Morinth to live an idyllic life with her after getting an invite to her apartment, wondering how "dumb trash from Omega" like her could be so lucky. For some players, the sticking point in putting Morinth down was that she was planning to snuff out this poor girl's life from the word "go" and any kindness was just a means to lure Nef into her web.
    • Nef's mother is one of the most depressing parts of the quest due to how heartbroken she is over her daughter's murder and how little the people of Omega even care. She had to witness as her shy daughter started acting oddly, taking drugs and spending near all of her time at a club until one day she never came home, a terrifying situation that's made even scarier by the fact that it happens in real life. Her explanation as to why she hasn't gone into Nef's room since her death is heartbreaking and provides a Paragon Interrupt that carries the same kind of emotional guilt as Tali finding her father's body.
      Diana: Everything is the way she left it. The way it will always be. (starts sobbing) My baby is gone. She's gone and nothing will fix that.
    • That Samara describes Morinth as the best and brightest of her daughters implies that she disagrees with the treatment of Ardat-Yakshi and loves/takes pride in Morinth trying to be an individual. But that she also realizes that Morinth had already gone past the point of no return and simply could not be saved. And that for all that, she wants to have children, to make the world better, she realizes that all she will ever give birth to (in all likelihood) are prisoners. And then after, when talking to Samara, she politely makes a wayward comment about putting the mission in front of feelings and such.
    • This line from Samara: "There are three Ardat-Yakshi, I have three daughters. It is as it sounds" She delivers it very matter-of-factly but you can just tell she's absolutely crushed inside.
      Samara: Killing Morinth had been the reason I became a Justicar. For the first time in over four hundred years, I am free. I am a ruined vessel of sorrow and regret, but I am free.
    • It's even worse for Samara's other two daughters. Both of them have accepted their fate to being isolated, but are pained that she never visits them. When she agrees to being a Justicar, to accept the Oath of Solitude, they give a tearful goodbye because they love their mother, have been good daughters and done what is expected of them as Ardat-Yakshi. It's because of Morinth that they'll never be able to see her again. One daughter, Rila, barely even speaks during their final conference call together. Her other, Falere, calls her out on her decisions:
      Samara: The life of a justicar is dangerous. I will make enemies and they would seek to use you -
      Falere: That I understand. What is not clear is why you do this in the first place. Is it not enough that we live a hundred light-years away from you in a dark fortress? That we have no communicator of our own but must use this communal one? Do you know what it means to us to hear your voice?
      Samara: I am sorry, Falere.
      Falere: And now you take that away.
  • You may be morbidly curious as to how Shepard is able to die, considering how much BioWare played up the Anyone Can Die angle. Well, it only happens if you screw up the suicide mission so badly that every single one of your squadmates die. Once that's happened, Shepard will make the final leap to the Normandy, but Joker can't pull them up. The typical "End Run" theme turns darker and tragic, while Shepard tells Joker to warn everyone else, and despite Joker shouting "You tell them! You're not doing this to me again!" Shepard will lose their grip and fall to their doom. The anguish in Joker's voice and his face is palpable in the following ending scenes; he sounds almost broken when he speaks to the Illusive Man in Shepard's place. Seeing him looking at all those coffins is absolutely soul shattering, especially when he places his hand on the coffin with the "N7" symbol on it. The part that makes it is when Joker stands alone in the Normandy's hold, looking into space with a mixture of sadness, uncertainty, and determination as the music reaches its crescendo and the Reaper fleet mobilizes in deep space. The cutscene actually seems more like Shepard willingly lets go in order to save Joker. At that point, Shepard knows that Joker isn't going to willingly leave them behind but that Joker can't possibly pull them up between Joker's condition and the Collectors firing at the ship. Shepard knows that. So they let go to give Joker a chance to escape so that the message gets out. This is the second time he's seen Shepard die, and once again it happens as a result of something Joker did/couldn't do. Even though the worst ending is absolutely Shepard's fault, that kind of bookend can't have gotten past Joker's notice.
  • If any of your squadmates die, during the final scene in the cargo bay you'll be treated to a panning shot showing their coffins, laid out in a row. The shot shows not only the losses you've suffered and the good lives that have been lost, but also the implication that you could have saved them. Even worse when you realize there's no way some of their bodies were recovered. Those coffins are empty. Devastating.
  • All of the death scenes during the suicide mission. All of them.
    • Jack's death scene, especially if you romance her. It just... when she says "I should've known this would happen. I was too happy... too happy with you." It shows how she found true happiness and peace with Shepard, only to die so soon after gaining it. It's like fate, after all she's gone through, was giving her a final slap to the face.
    • Mordin's death scene is quite poignant, as he asks Shepard to "Tell them... I held the line." This is in reference to the fact that he worked with the STG under Captain Kirrahe from the first game, who was fond of his epic speeches of awesome where holding the line was their job, at all costs.
    • Legion's death scene. He may be a machine and thus it might be somewhat possible to bring him back to life again, but it's utterly heart-wrenching to hear him cry "No carrier! No carrier! No carrier!"
    • Grunt's death scene is bittersweet at best. On the one hand, his death is just as sad as the others. But on the other hand, he dies the way all krogan should die - he died fighting.
      Grunt: Good fight, Shepard.......... Good fight.........
    • If you select Miranda as your biotic specialist, when you see how she fails to protect your team despite claiming in theory any biotic would've been a fine choice suddenly reminds you of a previous conversation on the Normandy when she claims that when she does make mistakes, the consequences are severe. It's only when you experience it, you truly realize she wasn't exaggerating.
    • Particularly heart-wrenching is that no matter who you lose, or what they mean to you, you don't have time to mourn. Even Miranda, the Ice Queen herself, sounds choked up when she has to tell Shepard, who is standing over the body of a friend - possibly even a lover - that they have to keep moving.
    • The worst is when someone dies off-screen while you're fighting the Human-Reaper. You hear that either all survivors have made it to the Normandy, or not at all. Then it cuts to the dead body of whoever died, surrounded by Collectors. Especially ball-punching if it was someone you were romancing; while most of them stand a good chance of surviving, Tali stands a pretty high chance of getting killed.
      • After the battle, you and your squadmates fall. You get back up, but it's upsetting if one or both of them die from the fall after all this time.
    • If you don't upgrade the Normandy, the Oculus blasts the ship and kills squadmates with each shot. Jack is the first to go, taken out by an explosion in the engine room. That she doesn't even get a last fight, just unceremoniously killed like that, after everything that she has gone through... And, of course, there isn't even time to mourn. And that goes for every death during the suicide mission.
  • Leave it to BioWare to work a Tear Jerker into random NPC background chatter. On the world of Illium, loitering by the souvenir kiosk lets you eavesdrop on the conversation of a salarian and his asari stepdaughter as they look for a souvenir for her mother. At first it's funny to listen to the salarian quoting silly taglines from t-shirts and postcards, and the asari being so obviously bored... until you listen longer, and realize that he wants to find a souvenir because he's nearing the end of his approximately forty-year lifespan while his wife and stepdaughter will both live to be a thousand, and he just wants some assurance that they're even going to remember him. The last few lines of their conversation ("You'll make sure she keeps it?" "...Yeah. I'll make sure.") are heartbreaking.
    • Maybe more so because he seems only quietly bothered by the lifespan discrepancy, but his daughter goes from bored to obviously holding back tears.
  • On a similar note, there's an asari when you first get to Illium who is distraught about losing a precious memento from her bondmate. During Miranda's loyalty mission, you can find a locket containing a picture of an asari and a human male. Hearing the asari's "Oh...Steven." when you return it is already enough to make it tug at your heart, but when she explains that Steven recently passed away, and that the locket is all her daughter has to remember her father with... Worse, humans have only been on the galactic scene for somewhere around thirty years at this point... meaning that he probably only met her sometime in the last few years. This wasn't some ageless being like another asari, or a krogan (Wrex is 1,400, after all), this human... with his short, little life, came into her life... and gave her a daughter. A daughter that this asari will raise for years and years to come... and she'll forever be reminded of this one alien who blitzed his way into her heart, gave her nothing but happiness for a brief flash of an instant... and then faded away. And then you realize: This is the fate of almost all who love asari. It's a really poignant reminder that even for a race as powerful, and ageless, and wise... there are still some things that can lay us all low.
  • Another one on Illium. Having the conversation with the asari who lost her wife and daughters as a result of all the violence in the galaxy, getting her to open up and break down in tears about this terrible tragedy and the pain it still causes her, and convincing her to honour their memory by forgiving the aliens she holds responsible... only to overhear two racist asari thoughtlessly bitching about her and her family, because she's pureblood and she married an asari. "She's pureblood. They're all like that."
    • Just to make this one a tiny bit worse: It's implied that Shepard may have met both of her daughters on the Citadel. One was the Presidium receptionist; the other worked for the asari Consort.
    • "There is enough grief in the galaxy, no need to add to it." The way the voice actress drops that line is terribly convincing and filled with grief.
  • Jack's story about Murtock during her romance sidequest. The guy was a one-time partner of hers who, while on a criminal job, came back to rescue her when they got seperated instead of leaving her behind, only to get killed in the process. A couple of days later, she found a recording on their shuttle that he'd left for her in case he died; it talked about the future they were supposed to have, how he planned to build a home for them, about how he loved her and was sorry it wasn't going to happen. The crack in her voice and the clear tears that appear (clealry implying a massive amount of Survivor Guilt) as she describes his dying message are the clincher.
  • Jacob gets a tear jerker moment after his loyalty misson, even when playing as a Male Shepard. After it is revealed that Miranda told him the location of the planet his father was on, he and Shepard have a conversation about Miranda. His final words are heartbreaking. "She...deserves a better man than I."
  • If you played a Paragon Shepard in the first game, in the second you get occasional letters of thanks from the people you saved with updates on what they did with their lives. That includes Talitha, the girl from "I Remember Me," if you had the right background. Probably the nicest touch in terms of giving your choices lasting emotional impact in the game.
  • The Paragon decision to nudge Miranda into introducing herself to her sister. Even as a Renegade, it's totally worth it, as it's the one time you'll see Miranda genuinely tear up.
  • In Mass Effect 2 your toast with Dr. Chakwas after bringing her a bottle of good brandy, especially the To Absent Friends toast.
  • Lots of little downer moments, including:
    • Seeing your previous love interest's photo on your desk and realizing that they might not even know you're alive. There's also how Shepard studies said photo as a downbeat remix of the ME1 love theme plays, just before the Suicide Mission starts.
    • The sidequest to get the Zhu's Hope colonists out of a rather onerous medical research contract. The corporate rep you talk to is vehemently anti-alien, and then you find out why: her mate died on the quarian homeworld during the geth uprising, and both of her daughters (who were NPCs you talked to in the first game) died in the attack on the Citadel.
    • How about the email "Can you help?" from a (presumably) Horizon colonist named Robyn Reeve after the Collectors escape with over a third of the colony's population. The obvious desperation and pain in the letter is pretty damn sad.
      They took my son and my brother. Have you found them? Do you know where they are? I know you're looking, but so many people are just gone. Every family lost someone. The children are the worst. Empty desks at the schools, winter clothes that never got worn.

      Please. The Alliance isn't doing anything. The Council isn't doing anything. If you can find our people, I'm begging you to do something. Tell me something I can do.

      Tell me anything.
  • Two krogan talking on Tuchanka. One of them thinks that one of the children kept away with the female tribes for protection is his son. A surprisingly touching moment from the race best-known for mindless violence. Even more moving when he asks if he should apply for right of parentage and his friends says "you know you've sired a son - leave it at that." He's worried that his friend might be wrong about siring a son, and doesn't want him to be disappointed. But even if the child is his son, it's still tragic to see how a plague has made children so heavily protected that a father can't even be with his own child.
  • Another one on Tuchanka, a krogan is talking to his companion about a vid about the Citadel, wishing he could see it in person, while the second krogan berates him for looking at it because he's never ever going to get off his radioactive, warring Death World of a planet. Same krogan also expresses interest in science (of the intellectual sort instead of the BOOM sort)and documentaries . Hearing the other (bigger) krogan crush the smaller ones dreams is hard to listen to. One hopes that the little guy gets a chance to tell Wrex that he's interested in being smart not just strong.
  • The salarian workers that you meet during Thane's recruitment mission, especially the first one. The shell-shocked way he says "we're just night workers..." just tugs at the heartstrings, and he follows it with the horrible story of what Nassana did, including how some people were jumping off of ledges to escape the dogs (and note that 'dogs' in this case are FENRIS mechs armed with tasers — at least with organic dogs, you could hurt them and maybe get them to back off). As several characters have noted, you never get used to seeing dead civilians.
  • Half the Loyalty Quests are this. The other half are either Heartwarming Moments, Crowning Moments of Awesome, or all three.
    • Half? Try every single one of them. All 12 loyalty missions have the potential to evoke some powerful emotions of either the Tear Jerker or CMOH variety; often both.
  • The Overlord DLC Mission is a literal example as even Shepard tears up just a little at seeing the atrocities done to an autistic David.
    David: Square root of 906.01 equals...
    Gavin: ...30.1.
    • The disgusted expression that forms on Gavin's face upon reflecting what he's done to his own brother is what truly nails in the tragedy.
    • When you realize that the whole time the VI's been screaming "PLEASE MAKE IT STOP" at you... David is an autistic and extremely sensitive to loud sounds. Now imagine being locked in a room full of people who never stop talking, and do so at the literal speed of thought.
    • If you decide to take David from the facility, you're treated to a extended scene you wouldn't see otherwise. You focus in on David's face, eyes pried open by clamps, tears flowing, the camera moving closer and closer as the mission draws to a close as he repeats the same equation over and over again, mimicking his elder brother's words as he spoke about what he had done to him...
      David: Square root of 912.04 is 30.2. It all seemed harmless... Square root of 912.04 is 30.2. It all seemed harmless... Square root of 912.04 is 30.2... it all seemed harmless...
    • Just before the final decision to either send David to Grissom Academy or leave him with Project Overlord, right as the dialogue wheel pops up, you're once again treated to a closeup of his horribly scarred face...and the "...pleased make it stop." he delivers in that particular moment is absolutely heartbreakingly pitiful. It almost feels as if David is begging YOU, the player, to save him with the last bit of strength he has left. Renegade or not, Shepard would have to be an utterly heartless monster to leave David behind.
    • It really says a lot when the Paragon action towards the man who committed the atrocity is a Pistol Whip to the face.
      Gavin: (desperate) No, leave him! He's too valuable! [pulls out a gun and fires at Shepard]
      Shepard: [dodges, then disarms and pistol-whips Gavin, before holding the gun threateningly towards him] You even think about coming after your brother and this bullet will be waiting for you! Then we'll see who's valuable.
    • Bioware programmed a moving sequence sure, but Chris Lennertz's score makes it utterly devastating.
    • Gavin could be seen as a sad character too. He cares about his brother and knows what he did was wrong but at the point Shepard shows up it's too late to stop. "What I have done to David is unethical. If he dies, it's unforgivable." That's undermined by his near-immediate attempt to stop Shepard from taking him away, but he does eventually get it, going so far as telling the Illusive Man when he wanted to repeat the experiment to piss off.
    • You spend a decent amount of time trying to stop the "VI" from Uploading itself offworld. It becomes Fridge Horror when you realise it's not trying to infect other systems, but David, trying to get away from the noise.
    • Another thing about Overlord: That beautiful scenery the Hammerhead's VI encourages you to enjoy? That's going to be smashed into asteroids in just a couple of centuries, along with anyone who chooses to remain during the final evacuation.
  • Being too late to save Kelly and several other crew members.
    • If Gabby from engineering dies, but Ken survives. Seeing him down there, alone, and hearing him say that it was so weird without Gabby makes you tear up, especially knowing all of the history they had.
    • The woman in the crew's quarters who was always talking with a male crew member about his family, especially his baby daughter. Their first conversation that you hear has him telling her about how he's never actually seen his daughter in person yet, but he has a recording of her giggle. If half of the crew is killed, the woman is sitting alone at that table, and says quietly, "I'll make sure she knows her father was a hero." You could have prevented that, You Bastard!.
    • Heck, the angry, tearful What the Hell, Hero? you get from Dr. Chakwas if you take your time doing the rescue.
  • The nameless, faceless tank-bred krogan on Korlus made me start bawling when he said he would not move from his position, because "has a purpose." Not to mention the way he kept repeating that "I am not perfect." He just sounds so... lost. It gets even worse when we ultimately learn that Okeer essentially created an army of rejects and discarded the poor guy, and he's likely going to stay where he is until he starves to death or a Blue Sun finally kills him. The entirety of his seven-day life has been spent fighting, and he's going to die for a lunatic krogan warlord who dies a half-hour later, and there was absolutely no reason for any of it.
  • Thane reuniting with his son at the end of his loyalty mission is sad enough, but the achievement for it is called Cat's in the Cradle. It's the name of a song. Youtube it, and make sure to look for the Harry Chapin version. You will cry.
    • The conversation with Thane where he asks for your help has a few. Shepard can ask how a raw rookie could be hired for a contract killing. Thane theorises that someone saw that they have the same name, and thus the same skills, but he can't figure out why Kolyat would do it in the first place. Shepard can suggest 'To be closer to you, maybe?' to which Thane responds:
    Thane: That thought haunts me more than any other.
    Kolyat: This... this is a joke! Now you show up?!
    Thane: You're angry because I wasn't there when your mother died.
    Kolyat: You weren't there when she was alive! Why would you be there when she died?!
    Thane: Kolyat, I've taken many bad things out of the universe... you're the only good thing I've ever added to it.
  • Speaking of Thane, his breakup scene if you choose to end a romance with him. There's a reason that most of the comments on the Youtube video of the breakup dialogue are variations of 'YOU MONSTER!'.
    • There's an option to select "I can't love a dying man" on the dialogue wheel, and Shepard says, "I don't think I can do this. Love you now only to lose you later. I'm sorry." Thane is taken aback and says that they made no vows and he wouldn't wish to be a burden to her, and then the player can change their mind.
  • If you fail to track Kolyat during Thane's loyalty mission, he gets away with the hit. Thane becomes even more depressed and more of a Death Seeker now that he has absolutely nothing in the world to live for and hasn't even managed to put any good into it. Its heartbreaking to watch/hear his dialogue back on the Normandy.
  • During Legion's loyalty mission, when Legion realizes the heretics have been spying on the true Geth and gives one of the saddest lines in the game (from a supposedly emotionless synthetic, no less):
    Legion: How could we have become so different? How can we no longer understand each other? What did we do wrong?
  • Shadow Broker DLC: Reading the Shadow Broker's files on everyone.
    • There's a massive Mood Whiplash when you go through Miranda's dossiers. Most of them are records of her conversations with possible partners on a extranet dating site which are mostly Funny Moments. Then you get to the last one, and it's like a punch to the gut. Miranda is completely barren, and the clinic that she went to can neither confirm nor deny if it was due to her genetic engineering.
      • Miranda's also may earn a Fridge Horror moment when you realize her father made her to be flawless. We know he's greedy, controlling, and manipulative so it is possible that he created Miranda to be unable to have children as another way to control her. Which means her father actually thought ahead that he didn't want his daughter to be able to become pregnant and possibly pass on her "flawless" genes.
      • The alternative is no better. Miranda mentions in her loyalty mission that she had multiple older sisters, but her father got rid of them, the implication being that there was something that made them "imperfect" in his eyes. Miranda's sterility would not have been noticeable until puberty at the earliest, and her father may have known about it long before Miranda herself. Her sterility may have been the "imperfection" that led her father to declare her a failure like her older sisters and try again, which in turn led to Oriana.
      • Even MORE fridge horror (after a long line of funny instant message logs) when you realise that she was probably only using the dating sites to solicit sex (hence her abrupt disconnection after giving her address), and possibly only to the end of impregnating herself. Coupled with the obvious way she looks after her sister like a daughter, it's clear, (regardless of your feelings on how well she'd do) that Miranda very badly wants to be a mother... especially since a child is the only person she could love without reserve, without worrying if she'd be betrayed or was being manipulated. This, likely along with the desire to never do to her child what her father did to her.
      • Take the horror up a notch further: Miranda's father created her. It's entirely possible he deliberately made her sterile. Either way, he potentially had the knowledge to make her fertile again. And nobody ever considered it.
    • Samara's is even worse, just how the stupid quirk of genetics has ruined her life and her daughter's lives. They're going to be prisoners for a thousand years and Samara herself has given up everything to hunt down her rogue daughter. Also there's something sad about learning Morinth's real name, like she was trying to escape the fate forced on her at birth. It makes their confrontation even sadder. Morinth never uses her real name. Samara calls her Morinth. Whoever Mirala was, she's long gone to the both of them.
      • The things she "bequeathed" when she became a Justicar include a "personalized “Happy Birthday Mom” travel mug with photo of Samara and children (handle cracked and repaired, some glue marks visible)"
      • There are also items such as intimate negligees, bonding ceremony gowns, a bonding ceremony bracelet that appears to be the asari equivalent of a wedding ring, and a statue of Samara and her unnamed bondmate. Samara was not the only parent to have her family torn apart due to quirk of genetics. Samara also mentions that only purebloods can be Ardat-Yakshi. That's when it hits: despite the social stigma and the discrimination Samara no doubt faced over her own asari father, she fell in love with another asari and tried have a family with her, only for them to get slapped in the face with the real reason relationships such as theirs are so stigmatized. The fate of Samara's bondmate and said bondmate's feelings over the entire situation is sadly unexplored.
    • If Shepard is romancing Thane, there's a extra file on his dossier; It's a goodbye letter meant to be delivered to Shepard after his death from his disease. That alone is depressing but it tips to heartbreaking once you read it further and he declares, that he'd rather face a machine-bound, long and painful death in the hospital bed than get himself killed as he originally planned if that means he can be together with Shepard just a few months longer. The whole thing will make you wibble, but the final line is the killer: "I will await you across the sea."
    • Jack's dossier. When she was a baby, her mom went to the local medical facility because a doctor said that baby Jack needed a checkup. Apparently, all that doctor wanted was a reason take Jack away from parental custody since he is a Cerberus operative and Jack was exceptional. So the bastard lied to the mother, made up some sob story about how her kid had seizures due to biotics, told the mom that the government did this, and tricked her into releasing custody of Jack. Right after that, Jack was sent to Pragia.
    • Jack's dossier also features some poetry she wrote. It's obviously about herself, referencing her tattoos as something she gives herself both to hide the surgical scars and to make herself look tough—like the kind of chick you wouldn't want to mess with. She's obviously made herself unusually vulnerable writing it; all the same, it's a bit amateurish and you could almost laugh. Until you get to the Wham Line: "This is not a place of honor. No honored dead are buried here." She's quoting the Yucca Mountain Project. Hidden Depths doesn't begin to cover it.
    • Tali's dossier, which includes a keystroke log of Tali attempting to write a letter to the family of one of the quarian soldiers who died protecting her, constantly erasing each line she writes because she can't find anything that will justify it.
    • In addition, she was making long term preparations for living in a human vessel learning about human behavior. Having next to no sleep as the threat of exile and living on the Normandy for the rest of her life.
    • Ronald Taylor's final letter to Jacob, telling his son how proud he was of him. He explains that the reason he took up his job was so that he could finally settle down comfortably with Jacob and his mother. The final punch was that he wished for Jacob to find comrades he could rely on in the Alliance just like he found Hugo Gernsback. Considering what you find out about him during Jacob's loyalty mission, it makes it that much more tragic.
    • In Legion's dossier, there's the conversation he has with EDI. She's the only other AI on the Normandy, and he's trying to communicate with her, and she politely informs Legion that even if she were capable of exchanging data with another AI, she would not do so with him. There's an uncomfortable pause in the conversation that lasts all of a second, but to an AI of Legion's level of sophistication, well... he must have been truly taken aback by her comment.
      • And then there's the records of the extranet games he plays. Although the purpose of it was probably observation, there are just weird little hints of a personality, like the infraction report that states that Legion was reprimanded for unsportsmanlike behaviour. Think about it: Legion got an infraction for TAUNTING other players, an inherently human reaction. And then there's the note that, despite the fact he's logged several days into the game, he got an absolute crap score at a quarian dating sim. It's like it was trying to see what would make the quarians love them again, to accept them again, to stop the feelings of uncertainty of creating their own path without them... but no amount of consensus and research could find out what is required for the peace between both races. Which could come true in the next game if Shepard does not set up the conditions for peace and one race will end up extinct.
      • The fact that Legion purchased a game entitled, Geth Attack: Eden Prime Fundraising Edition, and has a 'donation level' of Ultra Platinum, and yet has logged zero hours into the game. Of course a geth wouldn't want to take part in a simulation of killing their own, but the fact that they/it want to help the damages on Eden Prime so much that they'd do that is touching, to say the least.
      • The score on the dating sim is its own tearjerker. It'd be one thing if Legion got an absolute zero, but it didn't. Legion's trying to understand these things, but it just can't manage it.
      • The dossier gets worse if you actually traded Legion over to Cerberus. They literally took him apart, and the implication is that he's trying to put himself back together...
    • Poor, poor Anderson. Even if you don't pass him over in favor of Udina, leaving him a Butt-Monkey, the files on him reveal that the stress of being councilor, seeing the guy who murdered hundreds to screw him out of a respectable position and tried to sell the galaxy out to an Eldritch Abomination being painted as a misunderstood hero, or how said Eldritch Abomination was merely a myth despite blowing away most of the Citadel fleet two years ago has led him to drinking.
    • Mordin's mission dialogue about the mission in Tuchanka which was expanded in the folder, how he was delivering the modified genophage and how he had to kill female Krogan and how Maelon was complaining about the ethics of the mission and he simply dimisses it. In fact when he talked about killing many, his major highlight in his life was the genophage deliveries, most of his acts of violence were part of the whole Genophage mission.
    • The one on Garrus... The entire chatlog with his sister Solana is painful to read, but the lines about his activities on Omega really feel like a kick in the teeth:
      Solana: You lose your C-Sec job, and what about that contract job you were doing up until recently?
      Garrus: Yeah, it ended badly.
      Solana: Damn it, you haven't even bothered to sync up for video chat since you lost that damn job. If you're so ashamed to look me in the eye, then why are we even talking?
  • The Broker's video files, much in the same vein as the dossiers. Some are hilarious, others are heartbreaking.
    • Matriarch Aethyta staring at a photo, drink at hand and clearly drowning sorrows. A Personal Effects Reveal and Tear Jerker all in one.
  • If your Shepard stayed faithful to Liara, the entire ending and epilogue of Shadow Broker DLC are tearjerking CMOH at its finest. Liara has struggled so much with her quest for revenge and with her mourning for Shepard, and it isn't until the very end, if you've hit all the right conversation points, that Shepard finally manages to get across that they are back for real and in it for the long haul.
  • If you chose to romance Thane, and he dies while leading the second squad on the suicide mission, his dialogue changes.
    Thane: I hear it. The look beautiful, my siha....
    • If you romanced Liara in the first game but took another love interest in the second, Liara notices and gives a sharp comment before you go after the Shadow Broker's base itself. Most of them are funny and sound like sharp-edged humor hiding pain; she says Garrus is doing more than calibrating the guns, that now Shep prefers Jacob or Miranda or Jack or is trying to get into Tali's helmet. But her comment about Thane is harsh.
    Yes, you came back, and now you're trying to take the place of a dying man's wife!
  • The failure to romance Samara is heartbreaking. She wants to, but can't.
    Samara: In another time, in another life.
    • To put this in perspective: Samara has loved before, out of those unions she had three children, all of them Ardat-Yakshi, one of whch she has to mercilessly hunt down and kill. The very thought of her finding happiness again and the chance of af anything being wrong with either her lover or any offspring is too much for her to bear. Least of all the thought of having three children who have a condition which is an insult, a social taboo and a deep personal shame... Samara might be the most tragic mother figure in all of (electronic) entertainment.
  • Thane's pre-loyalty mission dialogue, when he says the memories of despair of the hardest to get away from. He was right, from the days when he was more concerned about an upcoming hit then playing with his son to the way he talks about his wife's funeral and how Kolyat was extremely upset about how he could leave her to die and how he wasn't ever there, it's just completely devastating to watch..
  • Often overlooked as a shallow, brutish gun for hire by many, Zaeed Massani is at his core a tragic individual. Zaeed is the living example of what Garrus could have become if he did not have Shepard at his side. Betrayed and left for dead, Zaeed spent 20 bloody and brutal years seeking revenge against a man who he had once counted as one of the few friends he'd ever have. He's become so desensitized to dealing death that he's not at all afraid to die himself... something that is core to being human. He's become so used to his lifestyle that it scares him to imagine a life where he can settle down, to the point where he'd rather kill himself.
    • Yes, Zaeed was a ruthless bastard, and yes he's a goddamn murderer. But when you take the Paragon options on his loyalty mission and gain his loyalty, he shows a lot of depth in that he regrets a lot of the thing's he's done over the years being a brutal sunnuvabith. But even then, when he talks about the shit Vido had done with the Blue Suns organization, which Zaeed had originally intended to be rather honorable and fair, the anger in his voice at the stuff Vido did showed a more decent side to the guy.
    • Zaeed's story about his favorite rifle, Jessie is absolutely heartbreaking. The one thing he can rely on in this f*ed up galaxy and "she" finally jams. It's tragic for him personally, but it's equally tragic because it implies that he is utterly alone for him to care so much about an inanimate object.
    Zaeed: This could be it. If this Illusive Man's money goes through, it's time to get serious about buying a property. Got to narrow it down to a place I can stand for more than a year.
    Elysium? Only if the Alliance gets serious about taking out the batarians in the Verge, so not in my lifetime. Illium's an easy place for a man to disappear whether he wants to or not. Think I'll pass. Earth's still too bloody crowded. Bekenstein? Decent weather, good food, mostly human. Good choice if I can stay under the radar. Eden Prime? Best garden world in the galaxy, but nothing's rebuilt but the farms.
    Hell, maybe I should just buy a ship full of explosives and commit suicide by Omega. Easiest retirement plan I've come up with so far.
    • It's even sadder if he dies during the Suicide Mission. All he says is "Too many of them. Shields couldn't hold up. Figured it might end something like this." Now take into account what his Shadow Broker dossier says and you realize that when he says that he's relieved.
  • Han Olar, a character from the original Mass Effect who is stricken by guilt over having allowed an asari to die to save himself, writes a letter to Shepard. The end of it speaks for itself.
    But maybe you're not really back. Maybe I died. Maybe I didn't close that door in time. Maybe I held it open to give her a chance, and the rachni ripped my suit open, and I died of exposure there on Peak 15. Maybe I'm a martyr, and this is an ugly hallucination before a glorious afterlife.
    But if I'm not, then thank you.
    -Han Olar
  • While Jacob's loyalty mission itself evokes more anger and disgust than tears, the email you get afterward fits.
    My words are coming back. I can talk well. Reading is hard but I am getting better. I have to get better. Taylor wanted me like this. He wanted my words gone. I have to show him that he lost. I am not weak. He did things to me, and he can't now. He can't take away my words. He can't make me not me anymore.
  • During Miranda's romance, once she acknowledges how much she cares about Shepard, she begs, "So don't die! You promise me, damn it!" The sheer terror in her voice at the thought of losing Shepard shows how much he means to her — a far cry from her Ice Queen beginnings.
  • The ending of Arrival. 300,000 lives, gone, in a flash. And Shepard pushed the button. While they did it with the best of intentions and bought the galaxy valuable time it still doesn't take away from that fact that 300,000 are dead and they're going to take the bullet for those lives. And this probably won't be the last time we'll need to sacrifice the countless nameless to fight the Reapers. Yes, for now, we can comfort ourselves in the knowledge that we've delayed the Reaper's invasion, but it doesn't cushion the fact that Shepard's now a mass murderer.
  • How Shepard just stands overlooking the Galaxy map. And then the system turns red. Guilt much? It's even worse because you can try to warn them - try to save somebody, even if it's not everyone, even if it's only a handful of handfuls, but the message doesn't get out.
    • It's worse if Shepard has the colonist background. Humans and batarians already have a hostile relationship with the other, and for Shepard the hate is personal, everyone they ever knew was taken their parents included to live and die as slaves to the batarians. Yet despite all this, a Paragon Shepard will STILL try and warn these people what's coming so they can evacuate. The amount of effort that Shepard must have put into trying to be the better person is nothing less than saintly. And Kenson, or more like the Reapers, ruin EVERYTHING, turning what could have been a CMOH into... this.
    • It's even worse yet. If you read the description of Aratoht, it says "Population 90,000 (free), 215,000 (other)." Yes, more than two-thirds of the population are slaves, and you can bet a good chunk of them are human, which is especially wrenching for the Shepard who fought in the Skyllian Blitz.
  • When you first meet Garrus AKA Archangel in Mass Effect 2 seeing how much he's changed and how cynical he's become is a real punch in the gut. This is especially heavy on Mood Whiplash because it goes from joy from realizing who Archangel really is, to sadness when you see how much he's changed, to all out crying when he gets injured. Seeing him on the floor in a pool of his own blood is heartbreaking, and it just gets worse when you get his Shadow Broker file and realize what else was going on before you found him.
  • The infected area on Omega is pretty horrifying, but there's one room that's just awful. Two turian plague victims were locked in a room together by the Blue Suns to try and halt the disease spread. What really makes this bad is the audio logs one of the turians left behind.
    Turian: Daelus died last night. He's still talking to me though. It's good to hear his voice, the company is nice...Nobody should have to die alone...
  • Another, far more subtle Garrus moment. When confronting Sidonis, if you take the what-seems-to-be "Paragon"-option and don't let Garrus take the shot. The increasing desperation in his voice with every missed opportunity, the look on his face, makes you feel like one more person betraying him. It was the very last line, the broken way he tells you to "Tell him to just... just go," makes you want to just hug the poor guy. The voice acting sells that moment. That entire mission overall, in fact, as you see the extent of just how much Garrus has changed and how broken that betrayal really made him.
    • Alternatively, if you hold Garrus off at first, but then choose to let him take the shot after Sidonis talks about how his life has gone downhill and how he's haunted by his betrayal of his comrades, the last words spoken are heart-rending.
    Sidonis: No more sleepless nights.
    Garrus: For either of us, Sidonis.
  • The Collector ship attack. The attack itself is too frightening and chaotic to count (and, uh, rather darkly funny at one point) but the after, when Joker is picking himself up and everyone is gone. Dragged away kicking and screaming or killed trying to defend themselves, the ship, and the crew. Your efforts saved the ship, but was too late to help anyone else. And after, while Joker just watched his girl be attacked a second time, watched people- some of which he knew or even cared about- be taken or murdered horribly, and is clearly not doing well for it, the first thing Miranda does is light into him for it, attacking and blaming him.
    • Even worse, early in the game before the attack but after the mission on Horizon, during one of the background conversations between two of your crew members, one of them reveals that they lived on Horizon before joining Cerberus and the new Normandy crew, and if he hadn't then he would have likely become another victim of the Collectors. After playing the game once, it becomes so much more Harsher in Hindsight, since you now know this still winds up happening to him, and even worse, if you don't go to the base immediately, then more than likely he won't be rescued either.
    • One thing that rarely gets acknowledged is that EDI was forced to watch the whole thing. She's grown rather fond of the crew of the Normandy but since she's still shackled she couldn't do anything but watch as every single member of the crew, save for Joker, was killed or kidnapped, dragged screaming in terror to what seems like certain death.
    • The moment after the Normandy jumps away with just Joker on board, there's a moment where Joker sits there in the Normandy....alone. Everyone but EDI is gone, taken by the collectors, and Shepard's team hasn't returned yet. One wonders how similiar Joker's feelings were to when he was trapped in the escape pod after the destruction of the first Normandy.
  • Even if you rescue Kelly from the collector base, when you talk to her, she spins out into a thousand yard stare and recounts her experience in a similar way to how Thane recalls his memories:
    Kelly: I can't get the memories out of my head. Trapped. Suffocating. It's oozing into every pore. Faint sobs echoing in the confined space.
    • Even by Mass Effect 3, Kelly still can't go back to the Normandy, should Shepard invite her, because she fears she will only associate the ship with her traumatic abduction.
  • Garrus' romance. On the night before the suicide mission, he'll break down a bit and admit that he just wants something to go right for once. He mentions C-Sec as one of the things that he failed in, implying that his "decision" to leave may not have been a decision after all, and after this Shepard will reach up to stroke the scar on his face.
    • Even worse is when he gets rejected. It's obvious he's heartbroken even when he tries to play it off. This is after all that time he just wanted something good in life, and all he got was built up and broken down.
  • The letters you get if you completed your Background-specific quests in the first game are pretty sad too. As a Spacer, your mother gets upset that she had to hear about her child being alive third-hand, having thought for two years that her child was dead; as a Colonist, fellow Mindoir colonist Talitha (whom you talked down from killing herself) tells you that she's getting better, but she knows that other people are being abducted just the same as her; as an Earthborn, your old criminal buddy Finch reveals that he had family on Freedom's Progress and asks you to find those responsible and kick their asses for him.
  • Bioware even manages one for a minor enemy of all things. During Mordin's loyalty mission, you encounter a spokeskrogan for Clan Werlyoc, who's infamous among the fanbase for his monologuing. However, with the right dialogue choice he drops the line; "No human, you understand nothing! You have not seen the piles of children that never lived!" Mordin states the genophage alters fertility rates... and prevents the development of the foetus' nervous system. That means the genophage results in a lot of eggs with dead krogan babies in them. To put that into perspective, horrific as it is, it's like if so many human babies were stillborn their corpses could be piled high; THAT is what the krogan have been enduring for centuries. Even the fanatical bloodthirsty spokeskrogan sounded sad when he uttered that line. No wonder Mordin had a change of heart about the genophage.
  • Diana from Samara's loyalty mission has lost her only child as the latest corpse in a four-century killing spree. This is doubly tragic when you think about it a little. Diana has lost her only daughter - the only hope she had for a future, for a legacy, somebody who all of her hopes were riding on. She lost Nef through no fault of her own, not to anything she had any possible chance to control, and she is left with nothing.. just like Samara herself. That must have been harsh, even for somebody as emotionally distant as Samara.
    • If you take the Paragon interrupt during the conversation with her, Samara says that she also knows how it feels to lose a daughter. It's easy to assume she's referring to Morinth - but if you read her Shadow Broker dossier, it becomes clear that she's lost three.
  • The wreck of the Hugo Gernsback and what Ronald Taylor did in the aftermath. Jacob Taylor's shock and anger on seeing what his father has become—this isn't the Ronald Taylor he remembers—and the plight of the crew (and murder of the other officers)! And they have to kill some of Taylor's victims in self-defense, victims who have gone mad in a violent way.
  • Niket's Heel–Face Door-Slam, if you convince him to help Miranda and he gets gunned down by the asari commando, almost casually. Miranda was telling him she didn't want to see him again, but his death clearly shakes her. After all, Niket was her only friend as a child, and Niket really only was doing what he thought was best for Orianna, not knowing what kind of monster her father was.