Considering the novel that it's based on, the series having a lot of sad moments is no surprise. What is surprising is that even with the said moments already having been adapted twice, The Untamed is still able to drive the viewer to tears.
Warning: Spoilers Off applies to these pages. Proceed at your own risk.
- Wei Wuxian having to survive the night in a cell with a vicious dog-like beast is more Nightmare Fuel than anything else, but what makes this sad is seeing Wei Wuxian being so frightened and helpless, which is completely unlike him.
- Jiang Cheng confiding to Wei Wuxian about his insecurities about being The Unfavorite and Always Second Best is still sad to watch in this adaptation. Unlike in the donghua and the audio drama, where he sounds explosively emotional (in the former) or annoyed (in the latter), in The Untamed Jiang Cheng sounds completely resigned.
- The series still follows the novel's scene of Madam Yu sending Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng away to safety. But then when the two later talk to their father one last time, they're now accompanied by Jiang Yanli, who's just as tearful as them. As if what happened in the original story was still lacking in tragedy...
- If the way the donghua adapted Jiang Fengmian and Yu Ziyuan's deaths wasn't bad enough, The Untamed shows the two dead while holding each other's hands. And in this adaptation, Jiang Cheng runs away rather than try to get to them because he couldn't bear to watch for another second. Yeah, in terms of tragedy the series is pulling out all the stops.
- Wei Wuxian nearly getting apprehended by Wen soldiers, before they got distracted by something else, then he returns to the inn and finds that Jiang Cheng has gone missing. Viewers who have read the novel know exactly what that "something else" is and where Jiang Cheng has gone, and the connection between the two makes it even more painful.
- In contrast to the novel, where Lan Wangji was still bedridden when he heard that Wei Wuxian had died, in the live-action drama Lan Wangji was with Wei Wuxian in the latter's last moments.
- To elaborate, as Wei Wuxian prepares to fall to his death, Lan Wangji catches him in the nick of time and desperately struggles to lift him up, while Wei Wuxian smiles sadly at him and tells him to let go. Then Jiang Cheng arrives and, with an enraged cry, stabs him, which forces Lan Wangji to drop Wei Wuxian. Even with the removal of the romance between our leads, the writers still find their way to hurt the audience.
- Wei Wuxian wanted to meet with Jiang Cheng after the core transfer. He never had a chance do so because he was caught, tortured, then thrown into the Burial Mounds. But once they finally reunite after three months, his face stays empty at Jiang Cheng's hug and tears. He's consumed by his hunger for revenge on the Wen Sect.
- Wei Wuxian acts in a frosty manner towards Lan Wangji after overhearing the latter warn Jiang Yanli about how demonic cultivation might further harm him, curtly telling him that what he does is none of his business. It's especially jarring since it's in contrast to how he was practically fawning over Lan Wangji in the previous episodes.
- Wen Qing finding Wen Ning's corpse and breaking down in tears while cradling her little brother. It doesn't help that unlike the novel, which spared details on how he kicked the bucket, The Untamed showed exactly why he died. What makes it even worse is when Wei Wuxian finds that Wen Ning held onto the talisman that he gave him back in the Cloud Recesses. It's easy to understand why Wei Wuxian decided to turn his back on the cultivation clans by saving innocents, even when he knew what it could cost him.
- Jiang Yanli's nightmare, where Wei Wuxian rides a boat past Lotus Pier and doesn't respond to her calls even when he's getting further away. The meaning behind that dream was enough to have her wake up in tears.
- Wei Wuxian's gradual descent into despair as he gets ostracized and condemned by the cultivation world. All he wanted was to help the helpless and be left alone, and he's repaid by being painted as a monstrous villain. Is it any wonder he snapped?
- Wen Qing and Wen Ning choose to go and face punishment for Wen Ning killing Jin Zixuan. Wen Qing immobilises Wei Wuxian so he can't stop them. He can only listen to her explain where they're going and beg her not to do something all of them know means certain death.
- Jiang Yanli's death. She doesn't notice the walking corpse behind her until it's too late. Jiang Cheng and Wei Wuxian both rush to her side. Jiang Cheng gets there first, and pushes Wei Wuxian away. Jiang Yanli reaches out to Wei Wuxian and sadly says how she didn't notice him growing away from her. Then a cultivator tries to kill Wei Wuxian. She pushes him out of the way and gets stabbed herself.
- Wei Wuxian's reaction when he realizes he's brought back to life. In the other adaptations he's rather surprised but takes it well, but here he bemoans that Mo Xuanyu summoned his soul, since he preferred to stay dead.
- The scene where Jiang Cheng first realizes that Wei Wuxian has returned from the dead has a slightly sadder twist than the original canon, right after Lan Jingyi argues to Jiang Cheng that Zidian had already proven that "Mo Xuanyu" can't be possessed and that Wei Wuxian has been dead for a long time, so he could only come back via possession.Jiang Cheng: How do you know that Wei Wuxian's really dead?!Lan Jingyi: But wasn't it you who killed him?
- In response to the above question, Jiang Cheng flinches and gives an expression of complete guilt. What doesn't help is that the series has the saddest version of when Jiang Cheng asks Wei Wuxian, "Who are you?!". In the donghua and the audio drama, Jiang Cheng sounds mostly like he's simply suspicious; but in The Untamed, Jiang Cheng sounds less skeptical and more distressed.
- It gets worse when Episode 33 reveals that no, he didn't kill Wei Wuxian. But given the look on his face when Wei Wuxian fell to his death and Lan Jingyi mistakenly reminds him that he killed Wei Wuxian, one can assume that Jiang Cheng believes he may as well have been responsible.
- Wei Wuxian spots the Wen brand on Lan Wangji's chest. He never gets to ask Lan Wangji about it but it's implied it has the same origin like in the novel - Lan Wangji, during a drunken fit after Wei Wuxian died, branded himself. This is even more bitter in some aspects in the drama because he witnessed Wei Wuxian dying and couldn't stop him.
- Unlike the novel, Nie Huaisang's mask visibly cracks in the Nie's sabre tomb when Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji discuss the death of his older brother. He's thinking back to the moment he witnessed Nie Mingjue qi-deviating, bloody, mindless, and in pain, and his voice couldn't reach him.
- The entire Yi City subplot. Xiao Xingchen takes pity on an injured man. Unfortunately, the injured man is Xue Yang. He repays Xiao Xingchen by tricking him into killing innocent villagers and Song Lan, his own best friend. When Xiao Xingchen learns the truth he's so horrified that he kills himself. Then the series manages to become even sadder by showing Xue Yang did care for Xiao Xingchen, in his own twisted way. He throws things around while crying and yelling at Xiao Xingchen for dying. Then he keeps his body for several years and tries to get Wei Wuxian to bring him back.
- Song Lan's death. Xiao Xingchen attacks him, thinking he's a ghost, and fatally injures him. In his last moments Song Lan tries to reach for his friend, but Xiao Xingchen moves out of his reach.
- Lan Wangji's second drunken scene has a more tragic turn. After Wei Wuxian asks Lan Wangji a few harmless questions, he caps it off with asking why the latter is helping him, and the outcome leaves both of them (and most likely the viewer) with a heavy heart.Wei Wuxian: Why are you helping me?Lan Wangji: I have regrets...Wei Wuxian: What regrets?Lan Wangji: At the Nightless City... I wasn't by your side.Wei Wuxian: [beat] So all this time, you've been searching for me?Lan Wangji: ... [looks away with a sullen expression]
- The reason that Lan Wangji got drunk in the first place is that the discussion about Xue Yang, Xiao Xingchen, and Son Lan drives him to snatch Wei Wuxian's cup of liquor and downed in one go in the previous episode. Lan Xichen showed that a cultivator is able to undo the effects of alcohol with their golden core. So Lan Wangji refuses to do so because he's that distraught over Xiao Xingchen and Song Lan.
- Jin Ling confronts Wen Ning about killing his father.
- Wen Ning revealing the truth about Wei Wuxian's sacrifice of his golden core, and Jiang Cheng and Lan Wangji's reactions to it. By the time they're informed enough, both are shaken and in tears because it puts all of Wei Wuxian's past actions into perspective and makes them feel horrible for being so harsh and (unknowingly) unsympathetic towards him. Even Wen Ning, who's now incapable of crying, looks as saddened as them because he completely knows what Wei Wuxian has gone through at a time when he couldn't confide in anyone else.
- Jiang Cheng's self-deprecating smile when Wei Wuxian apologizes for breaking his promise. One way of interpreting it is that he was seeking reassurance that their promise can still be a reality, but all he gets is the brutal reaffirmation that no, it can't and it won't.
- Jiang Cheng looking at Wei Wuxian and pondering on whether he should talk to him or not. After a long time, he decides not to and solemnly walks away. Note that unlike in the novel, he had every opportunity to approach Wei Wuxian. The saddest part is that Wei Wuxian sees him walk away, but only smiles sadly in acceptance.
- Jiang Cheng telling Jin Ling that he and Wei Wuxian have nothing left to say to each other. Unlike what fans were hoping, The Untamed kept the bittersweet resolution of their relationship.
- After Jiang Cheng reflects on the time he drew the Wens' attention to himself so that Wei Wuxian wouldn't get caught, he has a wistful, sorrowful, and resigned expression on his face. He still cares for Wei Wuxian, doesn't hate him anymore, and wishes him well; but he's still left with mixed feelings. After all, he knows that they'll never be like how they were before and their promise of becoming the Twin Heroes of Yunmeng will remain unfulfilled. In the end, he still loses a brother.
- For extra knives, when he decided to save Wei Wuxian, his thoughts were: "Take care of yourself. I leave Sister in your hands." Then in the present time, after acknowledging everything that happened, he quietly mutters (most likely to Wei Wuxian) "Take care of yourself," with a Tearful Smile.