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Tearjerker / Night in the Woods

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WARNING: Spoilers Off applies to Tear Jerker pages.

Night in the Woods had claimed to be about depression. They weren't kidding.

  • Almost no one in Possum Springs is happy. Poverty, depression, stagnation, and loneliness are common refrains in the characters' lives.
    • Mae is a Womanchild and a college dropout that left due to feeling constantly alienated, only to return to her dying home and learn almost everyone wants nothing to do with her or only remembers the bad things she's done to them or others. Gregg seems to be the only person who's happy to see her return, minus her parents, and even then, after coming back, her bonding with her friends ends up causing them trouble (reawakening Gregg's crimeloving attitude which causes friction between Gregg and Angus, accidentally letting slip on a party Bea invited Mae to that Bea never went to college, causing Bea to run away). Then it's revealed Mae is severely mentally ill (and can't get the proper treatment because the doctor is highly incompetent), has done things that have only alienated her further in the past and then the woods start acting up...
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    • Bea is working a dead-end job and envies her former friend Mae to the point of hating her for having the life she couldn't. Her mom's death certainly hasn't helped her, either. It's also implied that one of her co-workers at the Ol' Pickaxe attempted to or succeeded in sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager, and she still has to work with him every day as he's pretty much their best worker.
    • Gregg doesn't seem to have the backstory baggage of many of the other characters, and he gets to live with a boyfriend he loves, but he's lately been struggling with anxiety and insecurity about whether or not he's a good person, and if he's going to mess up what he has with Angus.
    Gregg: When I'm awake at night, I listen to Angus snore, and I stare at the ceiling, and I think about how I'm a complete piece of shit.
    • Bea implies in the Epilogue that when the two move to the city, Angus will leave him upon seeing he has "more options", which is either cruelly ignorant or depressingly accurate depending on how you interpret her statement. On the optimistic side, if you go with Angus to the park, he reveals his backstory, and based on where Gregg fits into it, they might have a more important bond than Bea understands. If you follow his plotline instead of Bea's their relationship comes out stronger than it started.
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    • Depending on how the story plays out, he can also go from a relatively upstanding and happy-go-lucky guy despite his aforementioned issues, to a jaded, cynical asshole who commits petty crimes against people who trusted him for kicks. All because of your influence.
    • Angus' childhood was genuinely horrifying. His father beat him, and his mother wouldn't feed him, and would lock him in the pantry, sometimes for whole days or overnight, slamming the door so hard the things in there would fall on top of him. And to make matters worse, while his father just disappeared at one point, his mother is now old and ill. And Angus feels like he still has to visit her since she is his mother.
    • Selma ("Selmers") went to rehab for an addiction to prescription medication and was abandoned by her husband for a "gas station floozy". Her poem at the library poetry reading reveals that she lives in poverty with her family, has no means of realizing her dreams, and feels deep resentment toward the rich.
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    • Mr. Santello plunged into a deep depression after his wife's death and now relies on his daughter to run his business. Poverty forced him to sell his house and move into a small, run-down apartment with Bea.
    • Even the background characters lead lives of quiet desperation. One of the two good ol'boys in front of the bar is succumbing to depression. The deer-woman who works the night shift at the video store is a single parent who is living with her mother. The fisherman who fishes in the underground trolley tunnel was abandoned by his wife, if his song is any indication. The art teacher who reads poetry at the library struggles to keep her art classes afloat with very little funding. In the woods behind the church, a homeless man has set up an encampment because he has nowhere else to go.
  • If you go grave robbing with Bea, she and Mae play a game of saying things that are scary. While Mae's answers are things like skeletons in your hallway, Bea's answers are about shady health insurance agents trying to profit off your family's misery. Mae is unimpressed, but the player is probably remembering how Bea's mom died after a long battle with cancer, the treatment of which was steep enough to force her and her dad to lose the house.
  • Mae's deteriorating mental health throughout the game ends up causing her to confess the "killer" incident to either Bea or Gregg. Mae suffered a severe psychotic break during her childhood that resulted in her severely beating another child at a softball game. It's highly likely that she suffers from disassociation, and fears that things in her life will lose meaning as she grows older.
    • Regardless of who you end up confessing her side of the "Killer" incident to, Mae, still concussed from nearly getting shot and falling into a ravine just a few days prior has left her weak and feeling completely useless.
      Mae: Bea/Gregg...I'm scared...
    • Mae upon returning to her friends after nearly dying decides to sacrifice herself to the cult because she's tired of fighting and running. She wants to die. Had Gregg not showed up she might have been sacrificed herself.
    Mae: Bye, you guys. (beat) I love you.
  • The reveal of Casey's death. All we know was that he was an ordinary guy who wanted to find a better life outside of town; so ordinary the cult thought no one would even miss him if he was gone... which, to an extent, is true. Aside from the gang and his parents, barely anyone seems to talk about Casey around town at all.
    • There's also the fact that the gang can never tell his parents about how he died, since who would believe that a cult kidnapped him so that they could sacrifice him to a Eldritch Abomination? At worst, they'll never get the closure they deserve, and at best, they'll be told a bold-faced lie about their son's death.
  • Mae's speech to the Cosmic Horror near the end of the game is downright sobering.
    Mae: But when I die I want it to hurt. When my friends leave, when I have to let go, when this entire town is wiped off the map, I want it to hurt. Bad. I want to lose. I want to get beaten up. I want to hold on until I'm thrown off and everything ends. And you know what? Until that happens, I want to hope again. And I want it to hurt. Because that means it meant something.
  • Any time Mae signs in to her laptop, you can typically see messages from each of her main friends... all except the bottom one, Casey's, and clicking it shows his never-changing away message. It's a sobering reminder about his disappearance, and you're infinitely more likely to see it over the missing persons poster in Town Centre.
  • Mae's possible fight with her mother is a big one, considering how well the two have gotten along up until that point. Mae's mother gets passive aggressive about Mae coming back home from college despite all the money they spent on getting her there, then accuses Mae of not caring that they might lose their house. Mae fires back that the only reason her mother cares so much is because she was trying to live her dreams of going to college through Mae to make up for her own failures. The two proceed not to talk to each other for the rest of the night. They do eventually make up, though.
    • Talking to her after the fight when she's at work, and it turns out she's still mad at Mae. Instead of telling her about her day and what she's doing, all she has to say is a curt, "...I'm busy."
    • While a sweet moment in general, it is quite a Tear Jerker when Mae's mom reveals that Mae is the only successful child after many miscarriages. It's implied the parents have tried for ages to the point of giving up, only for Mae to make it through. It makes not only her parents concerns for her well-being much more understandable, but adds an entire new point of view about how they must have felt when Mae almost died in the woods and then later disappears in the middle of the night to go to Gregg and Angus’s.
    Mae's mom: You were our miracle baby.
  • Gregg's big speech to Mae after she runs out to basically let herself die at the hands of the ghost can be this. It definitely is for him.
    • Bea's speech as well, if you've bonded with her more than Gregg. She flat-out states that Mae is the closest thing to a sister she's ever had.
  • The ending, in all its bittersweetness. Yes, the gang escaped with their lives, stopped more sacrifices from taking place, and have opened up to themselves and others... but that really doesn't stop all the other bad things in their life. They're still stuck in the dying town of Possum Springs. Mae, though recovering, is still seriously mentally ill. Bea is stuck working at the family business, stuck in poverty and unlikely to go anywhere else. Gregg and Angus' plans (move to a better town together) sounds hopeful, but as Bea points out, that may be all that it is: hopeful. Even though the worse is over, it almost feels like the characters themselves are questioning what happens next. At the very least, they have each other, for the moment.
  • Germ's Jump Scare of a joke during Mae's trip with him out to the hidden cavern beneath the overpass. When they reach the bridge, Germ avoids telling Mae why he wanted to go there and instead says a few cryptic things before jumping off the bridge. We immediately find out it's a harmless drop and he's fine, but given the game's themes of sadness and depression, it's not surprising that both Mae and the player would believe that Germ just committed suicide right in front of them.
    • Speaking of Germ, his reason for why he doesn't believe in ghosts.
  • When Bea is driving a drunk Mae home from the party in the woods, Mae starts reminiscing about better times when they were kids, and tells Bea to say hi to her mom for her... Before Bea angrily tells Mae that her mom died of cancer in her senior year and lays into Mae with a brutal speech for forgetting about that and dropping out of college when Bea never got to go in the first place, driving Mae to hysterical sobbing in the process.
    Bea: What happened to you? You used to be smart! You used to be cool! You used to be worth talking to! Why did you even come back? Oh, did college not work out for you? Was it inconvenient? Were you not in the mood? I would have killed for that. I still would. I'd kick you out of this moving car right now if it meant I could go to college.
    • It gets much worse later on when you find out Mae really did have a good reason.
      • When Mae finds Bea toward the end of her final hangout, Bea goes into a sad tirade about her college plans being ruined... and then "Proximity" plays in the background, which is kind of a tear-jerker in itself. Fortunately, Mae has to calm her down, but still...
  • In a strange way, the cultists of the Black Goat. Yes, they sacrifice minorities and people they deem "useless" to the town to an Eldritch Abomination... but they make it very clear that they don't enjoy doing this. They simply feel that the constant sacrifices are necessary in order for the town to return to prosperity. Mae even realizes that the cult is made out of people who have "lost something"; and they're trying to reclaim it anyway they can. It doesn't in any way possible justify their actions, of course, but it does provide an interesting explanation of why they do them.
    • Even worse is the fact that the sacrifices aren't working. Even a quick glance at the state of the town shows that it's still in a downward spiral, even if it's a slow one. This offers up at least two explanations for this: one, the Black Goat is either unwilling or unable to support the town anymore, no matter what sacrifices are made in it's name. Or... there was never a Black Goat in the first place. All the talks of the Black Goat "singing" to people are nothing more than people getting affected by hallucinating gasses, with other people forming a cult around it. So all the rites, all the deaths, all of the 39 people that have been sacrificed? It's most likely been All for Nothing.
  • The Book-Ends of Mae's journal. "R.I.P., Granddad" to "R.I.P., Casey."
  • "Die Anywhere Else," while awesome, is also pretty sad if you look at the lyrics. It's a desperate plea not to live an extraordinary life, or even live much of a life at all — just to wind up someplace that's not Possum Springs.
    • Most of the songs have a depressing or disturbing edge to them. "Weird Autumn" is about the singer's fascination with a strange girl who just disappeared, and how they wish they'd gotten to know her. Recent addition "Tick Tock" is about the inevitable progression of time, and how there's nothing to do but make peace with the idea of aging and death.
  • One of Mae's doodles in her journal is, "THOUGHT: Come back to life, Granddad." It's also a Funny Moment, since it's accompanied by a sketch of her grandfather as a zombie, but it's a hint towards just how much Mae misses her grandfather, someone who obviously loved her very, very much.
  • This little happy story from 4chan.
  • You check the library's microfiche before embarking on your ghost hunt. If you read the non-ghost related stories, you get the history of Possum Springs...and it's not a happy one. For all the older residents talk about the good ol' days when everyone had a job, it's clear that there were no good ol' days — just a history of dangerous working conditions, exploitative bosses and downright lethal terrain.
    • Back when it was a mining town, mine bosses decided not to alert two miners to the gas pockets in the areas they were about to dynamite. The resulting explosion killed and maimed many miners, including one poor fellow whose body wasn't discovered until long after his widow had taken their children and moved back to their home country. His funeral had to be handled by the pastor.
    • A year after the accident, the bosses had still not implemented the safety measures required by law. The miners decided to go on strike. The bosses called in the National Guard...who started firing into the crowd after being taunted by local youths. Their indiscriminate attack killed not only many striking miners, but two children who'd been delivering their father's lunch.
    • A bizarre gas leak caused disturbing visual and auditory hallucinations for residents in a particular area which subsequently had to be evacuated...but not before a young boy had drowned himself because he heard someone or something "calling" him.
    • Jenny's Field. You don't get this story from the microfiche, but from Mae's mother while on an outing. Jenny was a little girl who was out walking with her mother when a sinkhole opened up beneath her. Her mother, walking just behind her, saw her daughter vanish into the ground. They never even recovered her body. What caused the sinkhole? The mines that had been built beneath soft, boggy ground with props that weren't up to the job.
      • After the trip to Jenny's Field, you can see in Mae's journal a doodle of Mae and her mom on the field... underneath which are the cat-skeletal remains of Jenny, whose grave both mother and daughter are standing on. A bit uneasy for the player.
  • Bittersweet tears in the Weird Autumn edition, if you choose to have Mae take a nap in the church library when Candy suggests it. The ghost of Mae's grandfather appears, and silently watches Mae sleep, smiling. Even in death, he still adores his granddaughter... but he vanishes before Mae can wake up and see him, let alone try to communicate.
  • While Mae is lying unconscious in the church after being chased and shot at by the cult, all of the people she's grown close to in town come to visit. Lori M. says that Mae's the only person who was nice to her, Mr. Chazkov breaks down in tears as he talks about stargazing with her, and Selmers says that Mae doesn't deserve all the trouble she's had. It's a very poignant and bittersweet moment realizing how much impact Mae actually has in the community.
  • Small one but after nearly getting killed and getting caved in...Mae just collapses in Gregg's embrace. What makes it more painful is she was laughing only to then begin sobbing, implying that everything she was enduring in the game (disappointing her family, knowing how much they put for her, mental issues, her friends being strained from everything she's done) was finally reaching her and she just can't take it anymore.
  • A meta-example: Alec Holowka, a developer and composer on the game, died at an early age just days after being accused of sexual assault. Now that the news has passed, you'll never play the game in the same way again.


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