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Sad moments from the Mass Effect series.


Mass Effect

  • The optional side-quest you get if you choose the 'Colonist' background is just heartbreaking, as you have to deal with a girl who grew up as a slave taken from the same colony Shepard was born on - and is so mentally traumatized that she has to refer to herself in the third-person because she can't think of herself as being the same person who was taken by the slavers. The most powerful moment is at the very end, if you convince her to take the sedative, and she says "It hurts when she... when I remember... me".
    • What really hit this troper was when my Shepard revealed that she was a survivor from the same colony. Talitha breaks down and demands to know why Shepard isn't broken like her and wonders how s/he is able to stand up, in spite of losing everything in the same brutal way as Talitha. It drove home the point to me that, given a slightly different set of circumstances, Shepard could have wound up the exact same way as Talitha.
      • Maybe she did? The origin story didn't say how long it was before that Alliance patrol rescued Shepard. It just brings a tear-howling vengeance and righteous fury to my eye when I think of what they both suffered through, especially Talitha and FemShep. Female slaves throughout all of human history were more often brutalized in a different way.
    • My personal interpretation gives rise to the image of a 16-year-old Shepard coming home to find it ablaze, digging frantically through the rubble, only to find his/her entire family dead. From the distance comes the sound of Batarians laughing as they round up another family. Without a moment's pause, Shepard picks up their father's gun, cocks it and spends the next several hours proceeding to give them hell.
      • For this troper, Talitha made me kill the batarian second-in-command in "Bring Down the Sky" when he said "This was supposed to be a simple slave run". I thought about Talitha and decided that he had to die. Now, should I let Balak go, kill him or let the Alliance torture him...
  • If you have Liara in your party, Noveria is heartbreaking from start to finish. She starts out excited when the Elanus Risk Control guy at the Hanshan front-desk mentions Benezia's presence, manages to stay quietly optimistic at Peak 15, and then completely loses it when you finally confront Benezia in the hot labs.

Liara: "What should I tell (Shepard), Mother? That you've gone mad? That you're evil? Should I tell (Shepard) how to kill you? What should I say?!"

    • And later, when Benezia finally dies by the team's hands:

Shepard: Hang on, we have medi-gel!"
Liara: "Mother! Don't go!"
Benezia: "Goodnight, Little Wing... I will see you with the dawn. (beat) No... light... they always said... there would be..."

      • Benezia's dying words always shot this troper straight through the heart, especially because of the 'Little Wing' segment. The ritual feel of it makes it obvious that this is what Benezia said to Liara every night when she was a little girl (...Asari. Whatever).
    • This troper gets weepy at all of the above, even including the point where Benezia declares she'd always been proud of her daughter, this despite the fact that this troper can't help but get the feeling the two hadn't spoken due in years due to a falling-out.
      • Honestly, the sense of them having fallen out makes it even sadder. The first time they speak to each other in years, and what happens? Liara has to kill her own mother. Ouch.
  • And then... there's Virmire.
    • This was the first time this troper actually cried because of a videogame in his life. How did the MST3K Mantra go, again?
    • "I'm sorry... I had to choose." "It's okay, Commander. I don't regret anything." Go ahead. Cry those Manly Tears. You know you want to.
      • "Hold on, we're coming to pick you up too!" "I think we both know that's not gonna happen." Rest in peace, Kaidan/Ashley.
      • "Fight hard, Lieutenant/Chief. Die proud!" "Aye aye, Commander."
      • What makes it worse is the fact that they make you choose. BioWare really outdid themselves on that scene.
        • This troper was hoping all through the last moments on Virmire that both members of your squad were going to make it, and that this was just a test for a real one later in the game. Then they saw the cutscene of the Normandy flying away from Virmire whilst the teammate they couldn't save looked on...
    • To make Virmire even worse, Captain Kirrahe's speech. Every single member of his species you encounter in the game is more or less impassive, but he delivers every line with total conviction and determination that, even when playing a Renegade path, I couldn't help but feel sorry for him and his men.
      • The worst part of it is the sentence Kirrahe says to Shepard at the end, all military bravado forgotten: "Good luck, Commander. I hope we will meet again." It just brings home the reality of the situation, that in all likelihood he and what's left of his Regiment will die in the attack. Makes saving him all the more satisfying.

Captain Kirrahe: "Rest assured my people will not forget what you did here. You have made an ally of the salarian people."
Captain Kirrahe: "We will work together again. I am certain of it."

        • This troper noted that salarians are much like humans - relatively fragile and relying on cunning. However, salarians with their short lifespans and even more fragile physiologies -only- do espionage and try not to do direct confrontation in war. So Kirrahe wasn't just throwing his squad (of spies and scouts) into the fire... they were going into a situation that they weren't trained for or accustomed to: make a big noise.
    • Virmire is just a bigger tearjerker than the entire Suicide Mission. While you won't lose Shepard on Virmire, there's a good chance that a lot of people will die on Virmire alone, and at least one of them won't make it.
    • For this troper, Virmire was bad, yes, but she managed to hold herself together. That is, until after the mission and she was going below deck to talk to the team mates. Seeing that empty spot where Ashley was always standing... She just broke down.
      • This troper had the exact same reaction going down to the mess hall deck and seeing Kaiden's spot... empty... I had to stop playing for a while.
      • This Troper only took an interest in Ashley on her most recent playthrough. It turns out, Ashley has sisters she's really close to. She'll even tell you stories about them if you ask. Now... I don't want to go to Virmire. I never did in the first place, because it's hard, but now I don't want to go for an entirely different reason. *sobs*
      • For this Troper, seeing Ashley's empty spot was matched by seeing how emotional and sympathetic Joker, of all people, got about the ordeal. Both of them got this one all choked up...
    • Virmire... oh, Virmire. I didn't even like Ashley up to that point, and because my Shep was in a relationship with Kaidan, I happily let her die. But then, when it actually happened... it hit me so hard. I didn't realize how much I actually had grown to like her. And then when you talk to the survivor and Joker afterward... it's just hard. And then on my last playthrough, I killed off Kaidan instead for the first time. So I finished up some other missions and was like "I'm going to go see if Kaidan has anything to say!" And then I rounded the corner on the second deck and it hit me all over again... :-(
    • The music that plays during the debrief doesn't help. It's the same song that plays during a romance theme, but under some conditions, it'll keep playing even after the debrief as you're walking around the ship, replacing the usual Normandy theme. It gives you the feeling that something was irrevocably lost on that mission, and that nothing from here on out is going to be the same.
    • Virmire will always hold a special place in my memories as well, not only because of the previously-mentioned choice between Ashley and Kaiden ("Where's the third option? What do you mean there's no third option? There has to be a third option! There's always a third option!"), but more so for your encounter with Wrex. I generally dislike moral choice options in video games because almost always the choice is so extreme and telegraphed there's no real question as to what the "right" answer is, it's not so much a moral choice as chooses to be moral or immoral. You've got a choice between either saving the girl's kitten from the tree and while you're at it you might as well cure her cancer and pay for her collage or shooting the kitten out of the tree, slapping the little girl across the face with it and laughing at her tears. Choosing whether or not to be evil isn't a moral choice. But there I was on Virmire, gun trained on one of my comrades, having to choose between giving the Big Bad access to a nearly unlimited army of unstoppable killing machines or taking away the only chance Wrex has to save his people from a horrible genocidal bioweapon that has driven them nearly to extinction by taking their birth rates down to practically zero. It was the first time a moral choice in a video game really gave me a moral dilemma because the game didn't put a big flashing sign over one choice that said "This is the Right Answer! Get your Right Answer here!" It wasn't a Tear Jerker per se, but it was the deepest emotional conflict I ever found myself in in a video game.
      • The way he stands away from everyone else and aimlessly fires his shotgun at the water as you approach him does an excellent job to show his angst.
      • This is even worse if you haven't done Wrex's Family Armor mission or have enough charm or intimidate points to make him back down, since there is no way to save him and knowing this is a punch in the gut. I was actually so upset that I couldn't save him that I used a cheat - something I never do - to give myself enough charm points to make him stand down.
        • I decided in one play through to kill Wrex - the brutal way Shepard does it was both chilling and heartbreaking.
  • This troper nearly lost it in the final cutscene after defeating Sovereign. "Where's Shepard?" ...and then the camera cuts to that massive chunk of Reaper, complete with heartbreakingly sad piano theme. Made exponentially worse by the fact that my party included my love interest, who truly did look like her world had come to an end (Liara, in case you're wondering). Even knowing that Shepard wasn't really dead didn't soften the blow.
    • The scene becomes even more powerful if you A: romance Liara and B: take her with you to the Presidium battle - when Shepard climbs out of the wreckage, the lighting makes it look like her face is all red and puffy from weeping.
    • Taking Wrex is moving too. The way he hangs his head when they find them, and the way he lets Anderson steady him, then look back. For such a reserved character, seeing him crack that way... wow.
      • This troper was most affected by the sight of a heartbroken Wrex, it made it all the more moving since it was so out of character.
  • The space battle at the finale, whether you choose to save the Council or not both versions are extremely moving.

"It's the Alliance! Open a comm channel! This is the Destiny Ascension, we are taking heavy damage. GUARDIAN systems are overwhelmed, kinetic barriers are off-line..."
"Captain... they've closed the channel."

  • Vigil is a sad character, as well, despite being a VI. The understated, downbeat music adds to the scene.
    • And, to add extra punch to Vigil, you know that his message to you, giving you the knowledge to end Sovereign's threat, is probably the last thing that he'll do before he shuts down. Although he's a VI, he still seems to be pleased to know that he'd not maintained his vigil for nothing.
    • Hell, everything about the character and his story is heartbreaking. From having to shut off the life support chambers to preserve power so at least a few would survive to the fact that he saw the surviving dozen scientists go to the Citadel and knew they'd probably starve to death on the deserted station. And then in the second game, when you find out that he shut down, it almost seems like suicide...
    • And yet, there is something awe-inspiring about Vigil. He is only a VI but he and the last Prothean survivors sacrificed everything in order to give a tiny glimmer of hope to stop the Reapers forever. At the conclusion of his speech this troper swore that the Protheans will not have died in vain while wiping Manly Tears from his eyes.
  • "Sovereign is too strong. I'm sorry. It's too late for me. Goodbye, Shepard, and... thank you." Yeah, Saren was quite the bastard if you've read the prequel novels but given, that in the game only, he's more of a Fallen Hero and is truly sorry about his betrayal, that really is a saddening scene. Even more so when Sovereign takes control of his technology-modified body after his death and you realize that he really could not have been saved.
  • The sidequest on Ontarom in the first game, where you meet Corporal Toombs, the only other survivor from Akuze, holding a Cerberus scientist at gunpoint. His half-deranged and agonized ranting is heartbreaking to hear as he simply tries to get closure and justice for what they did to him. One of the most potent lines in the exchange sums it up, when the scientist calls the soldier "Mister Toombs":

Toombs: "It's Corporal! CORPORAL Toombs! You don't get to lie! Not anymore!"

    • Toombs' voice actor nailed that whole scene. You can hear the exhaustion and anguish in every line. And then the tearjerkers continue into the sequel, when you get his What the Hell, Hero? email.
      • And worse yet, if you offer to help him recover his psyche, he is no longer traumatized, just completely pissed off. And if you spared Wayne and not Toombs, turns out the Illusive Man finished the job for Toombs.
      • He still doesn't understand even if you have the Sole Survivor background (both him and Shepard did suffer in the same unit, right?). Makes it even more gut-kicking.
    • The worst part is what happens if you're forced to shoot him. The description afterward mentions how his face is still twisted in anguish and pain. Even in death, Toombs can't find peace.
    • If you opt to kill Doctor Wayne, there's a brief bit of post-mission exposition regarding Toombs that eliminates any hope of calm stoicism.

"He opens his eyes, and you gesture to the door. He won't be left behind again."

    • Then there's Shepard's responses if s/he was on Akuze. If you choose the Charm option (ask Toombs to let Shepard arrest Wayne), then the Renegade dialogue to Toomb's What the Hell, Hero? response, Shepard lets forth a lot of pent-up emotion. Mark Meer gets a lot of flak, a lot of it justified, but he does this line brilliantly, mixing anger, sadness, disgust and resolution.

Shepard: "You think I don't want revenge for Akuze?! Listen, Toombs. Arresting him hurts them more."

    • In all honesty, this troper has a hard time taking the options that let the doctor and Toombs live - there's something that seems gratifying in Toombs getting the peace he's been denied for so long, and reading the text box of how he dies peacefully gets some tears of joy that he is free of his demons.
  • When talking with Wrex about the genophage, there's this quality in his voice when he says that he can't change his people. He sounds so... resigned, so deeply, fundamentally depressed about it all. Its not obvious, and Wrex doesn't angst about it or anything, which makes it even worse. He's accepted that his species is doomed, and that they're going to go extinct, because that's what they are. It kind of quietly drives home just what it means to the krogan that their species has fallen from the height of power and turned into fatalistic mercenaries.
    • For this troper, it's the brutal truth of what the genophage actually does. On the outside, it just sounds like a way to curb the Krogan's numbers by reducing their fertility, but then you read into it some more and find out that it's not actually making them less fertile in the sense of producing eggs and such; it interferes with the development of the fetal krogan, preventing every 999 out of 1000 from developing properly. It states that most krogan babies don't even reach the stage where they're stillborn. With the fact that not every krogan gets the chance to mate, the idea that even if you get the chance to try and have a kid and knowing that unless you're incredibly lucky the most you'll get is a stillborn son or daughter (and that's if you're lucky at all) is incredibly heartbreaking. Double because this troper wants to be a dad very badly in the future, and the idea of losing a child before they're even out in the world breaks his heart.
  • I actually had to set down the controller for a moment and collect myself when I completed the Citadel: Homecoming assignment. Samesh Bhatia, whose wife was part of Ashley's unit on Eden Prime, pleads with Shepard for help. All he wants is to have his wife's body back to give her a proper funeral, but the Alliance is withholding her body and refusing to give any explanation as to why. His reaction to the situation is heartbreaking, especially when you convince him to let the Alliance keep his wife's body for further testing. He just breaks down, telling Shepard that he misses his wife so much and he just wants her to come home.

Samesh: ([after composing himself) "...Let them run their tests. Let my wife saves lives, so that others are spared the loss I feel today. Goodbye. Thank you for finding me answers."

  • Replaying the first game is especially tearjerking while you're just walking around the Normandy. You see two random crew members, sitting together talking happily in the mess. And then it hits you, that these are the same two crew members who were killed by explosions on-screen in the intro of the second game. And what's worse is, you suddenly realise, aside from a dying scream, they never have had any lines. Two members of Shepard's crew and you never got to know them.
  • The VI's final message on Luna.

A burst of white noise over all frequencies nearly deafens you. Your hardsuit's heads-up display interprets it into a series of 0s and 1s:
01001000
01000101
01001100
01010000
They repeat again and again, blanketing all frequencies, until the lights on the final VI cluster flicker and die."

    • Why is this sad? If you decode the binary, you realize that it's screaming "HELP". Over and over and over, desperately. And you just stood there and listened as it died. It gets worse in Mass Effect 2, if you choose the dialogue option that reveals that the "VI" was actually an AI named Hannibal, who may have only been trying to defend itself when the Alliance realized what it had become and attempted to kill it.
    • In Mass Effect 3, it's finally revealed that EDI is actually built from the remains of the Hannibal system, softening its death somewhat

Mass Effect 2

  • Veetor goes insane if you send him to Cerberus instead of letting Tali take him back to the Migrant Fleet.
    • You'll have to be a honest-to-god Jerkass to keep him with Tali practically begging for you to let him go with her.
  • Ashley/Kaidan's rejection of you on Horizon. Seeing your former girlfriend/boyfriend/best friend completely disown you... Even this troper, who can make it through almost every other part of any game or movie without crying, almost completely lost it. Then reading Ashley's email for afters... 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.
    • This troper didn't fare much better reuniting with Liara. For Shepard, it was only weeks, maybe days ago that they were together... and then you start to realise 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. That was when it really hit me how much shit Shepard must be going through, even though, being in command, it couldn't be shown.
      • He tries, but if you pay attention near the end, you'll notice even the usually stoic male Shepard can't help but get a little choked up.
        • The payoff is that if you remain loyal to your Mass Effect 1 romance, before the Suicide Mission, Shepard picks up the photograph of your loved one and looks at it with a small smile, implying that there will be a bigger payoff in Mass Effect 3.
      • 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*
      • Luckily, the Lair Of The Shadow Broker DLC finally shows Shepard letting everything out. When Liara visits, she asks Shep to tell her how he/she truly feels. The options are either cautiously hopeful, frustrated or truly scared. The way that both 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 everyone else about the threat or frustrated that everything s/he is 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.
    • Getting back together with Liara in Lair of the Shadow Broker is a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, but the conversation Shepard and Liara have on the Normandy afterwards has a moment that really cracked me 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."

    • For me, that just really drove home how distraught, worried and confused Liara has been over the last two years. Earn Your Happy Ending indeed.
  • If you didn't tear up during Tali's mission when she finds her father's body, you have no soul. Almost made me cry, and I even went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, cutting down every last Geth in sight.
    • Roaring Rampage of Revenge? This Troper's Infiltrator Shepard punched the Geth Prime at the end of the mission to death. On Insanity.
    • Not to mention her tirade against Shepard if s/he suggests colonizing a different world. It really drives home just what the Quarians are going through. Ash 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'll 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're 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.
    • That's not tears... Just got... sand in my eyes... *sniff*
    • Tali's breakdown upon finding her father dead on a geth-infested quarian ship, and the Paragon interrupt that lets you hug her.
      • Don't hug Tali during her loyalty mission. 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.
      • As has been stated elsewhere on this wiki, no one with a soul can resist giving her that hug, including the player who made that video. After recording the cutscene without the hug, he reloaded his save file to do it right.
    • 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 break into her room and shoot her to pieces.
    • If you get the evidence 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!"

    • And if you reveal it was all of his fault... well, you are an asshole.
      • I'd say that seeing what happens after you expose Rael'Zorah at the trial is the worst Tear Jerker in the whole game.
    • Everything about Tali'Zorah 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, her entire 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.
      • For that reason (because Tali was of the "I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me" variety), this Troper went back and played through Mass Effect 1 again without a love interest.
      • 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 ending of Kasumi's loyalty quest, where she gets her boyfriend's last message. The cocky and upbeat character is finally brought to tears. She even tries to hold the image of her boyfriend, Keiji.
  • In the DLC where you explore the wreckage of the Normandy SR-1, the player finds the deceased Navigator Charles Pressly's journal. In the first game, Pressly is distrustful of your alien crewmembers 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 seeing Kaidan or Ashley's face. OH GOD WHY!?!?!
    • Hell, this entire mission... collecting the dogtags, all the little flashbacks... And it's a clear example of Snow Means Death.
      • Not to mention being able to find them all over 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.
    • This may be odd compared to the other parts of that mission, but seeing the old M35 Mako, wrecked on that pile of rubble... I just stood there for a few minutes, staring at it. I may have hated driving it in the first game, but, dammit, it deserved a better end then that.
    • Hell, the opening itself. This troper has never liked the design of the Normandy; too much like a vajazzled private yacht, compared to (say) the stately elegance of the NCC-1701 or the lean utility of a Colonial Viper. But the sight of her hulled and burning... "What did you do to my ship?" (And that's the first time this troper has ever called her "my ship". First/Last Kiss, indeed.)
  • A surprisingly potent one at the end of the game, when Harbinger releases control of the Collector General, and it looks around before slumping in a dejected manner as the station explodes around it...
    • For me, it was the way that after the eyes stop glowing, he stands perfectly still, gives this little twitch, then looks around. It's like, the General suddenly regained knowledge of who he was, and gets to truly take in everything around him for the first time in quite possibly his entire life, just in time to be blown to bits.
  • In Mordin's personal mission, you can have a conversation over the body of a dead krogan female. Mordin states his rage and 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 the same mission, the speaker of 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, it's hard not to be moved by the situation that all Krogan have been left in, by events that happened centuries past.
      • Though, it's a bit hard to sympathise with him when he starts going on about eating salarian eggs...
      • Still, 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. He's lashing out at the galaxy the only way he knows how.
      • What about the end of the quest, where you learn that his student didn't get kidnapped, but allied himself with the Krogans out of his own free will so he could try to find cure to the genophage? That doesn't sound too bad, but when your party fails to convince him that Krogans might start a rampage from ensuing power trip, Mordin pulls out his gun and shoots him if the player doesn't use a Paragon interrupt. Just listen 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 probably the only instance 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.
      • Fridge Brilliance: If you let Mordin kill Maelon, then the above quote is absolutely heart-shattering. 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 interrupt provokes one to also wipe their eyes. It really shows how much of an effect the mission had on Mordin. Again, the tone of his voice really tugs the heartstrings.

Mordin: "No...not a murderer. Thank you, Shepard."

  • 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 realising you knew both her daughters, and both died when Saren and Geth attacked the Citadel? Losing any member of your squad in the suicide mission, and knowing it was because of your own stupid screw-up? Mass Effect 2 is loaded to the brim with tearjerkers.
  • Samara's loyalty 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...
    • That Samara describes Morinth as the best and brightest of her daughters implies that she disagrees with the treatment of the Ardat-Yakshi and takes pride in Morinth trying to be an individual. But she also realizes that Morinth had already stepped over the Moral Event Horizon and simply cannot 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 (in this troper's playthrough) politely makes a wayward comment about putting the mission in front of feelings and such - particularly poignant since this troper had gone through both games without romancing anyone.
    • 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.
    • Not just the fact that she has to kill her own daughter, but also the talks with the mother of said daughter's latest victim.
      • It wasn't talking to Diana that hit this troper the most - it was going through Nef's diary, which would have been a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming if you didn't already know what happened to her. Morinth, you sick woman...
      • The combination of talking to Diana and reading that journal was very heartbreaking. This troper's only regret was that Samara kills Morinth quickly and cleanly. Would've much preferred to put the bitch in stasis and feed her to some hungry Varren.
        • Varren would've still been too quick. I'd give her to the Collectors and let her get dissolved alive.
          • I wouldn't. Samara would be quite upset if her daughter were to meet such a terrible fate. Both because she's too much of a valued member of the team to leave her with such thoughts about the fate of her daughter, and because I'd be scared sh**less if she ever found out I was responsible for it.
      • Samara and Morinth knew that their reunion will never be a happy ending. Two of them enters, one of them leaves. She states this after the mission.
    • After the mission, when you talk to Samara, she talks about being free. A ruined vessel of sorrow and regret, but free. She also talks about all her hopes and dreams being bound up in her children. And how proud she is of Morinth.
    • Samara's deliverance of how she feels the release of hunting her daughter for nearly half her life span truly pulls at your heart strings.

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, Falere and Rila. 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. Rila barely even speaks during their final conference call together, and Farele 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."

      • It's even worse when you consider both of them are in their early 40s, which, for an asari, is mid-teenage. Imagine two fourteen-year-old girls being sent to what is essentially two separate nunneries and never being able to see their mother or each other again. Is there any other reason the final words Farele tells Samara before hanging up is "Catch her. Just... catch her"?
      • To top it off, among the list of possessions that Samara gave up when she became a Justicar is "Personalized 'Happy Birthday Mom' travel mug with photo of Samara and children (handle cracked and repaired, some glue marks visible)".
    • The kicker? You can further talk to Nef's mother and Samara shakes her head at Diana's breakdowns, of which she has several. Then she and Shepard hunt down Morinth and kill her.
  • 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 him/her up. 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 his/her grip and fall to his/her 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. And for that matter, if you're not shedding a tear at losing your own hand-crafted Commander Shepard, and filled with the urge to go back and do things right...
    • The part that always gets this troper 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.
    • Not to make it worse but... 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 him/her behind but that Joker can't possibly pull him/her up between Joker's condition and the Collector's firing at the ship. Shepard knows that. So s/he lets go to give Joker a chance to escape. To -make- him escape so that the message gets out. Redemption (for getting everyone else killed) equals death for a Shepard that doesn't think anyone else is important and that he/she can do it all him/herself (i.e. doesn't do loyalty missions or get upgrades).
  • If any of your squadmates die, during the final scene in the cargo bay, you'll be treated to a shot of a forlorn Shepard placing his hand on one of the squadmates' coffins. That shot shows not only the losses you've suffered and the good lives have been lost, but also the implication that you could have saved them.
    • That scene's extremely sad, especially when you realize there's no way some of their bodies were recovered. Those coffins are empty. Devastating.
    • This troper nearly cried when he got to the second part's end and Garrus dies by a shot to the stomach, saying "Sorry, Shepard, won't be with you at the end. Snipe one for me, will you?" I restarted after that and made sure to beat every damn Collector to death with the melee just for that offense.
    • This troper found most poignant of all at 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.
    • All of the death scenes during the suicide mission. All of them.
    • 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.
    • The worst part of all of this is that, even if by logic things should work out, people might STILL die. This troper first went with Legion as the tech specialist, Samara leading the distraction team both times, Mordin escorting the crew, and Miranda as the biotic. Tali and Garrus, for nostalgia's sake, were the ground team. Legion's death elicited a "damn, I liked him!", and later on, Samara's had me saying "a shame, but I never used her...". The worst, though, was Garrus dying due to Miranda's failure, because it should have worked. There was no logical flaw delegating that duty to Miranda. As revenge, the Human-Reaper ate a Cain blast. Miranda suffered a Hold the Line death after the battle. Post-credits I reloaded to save Garrus. Miranda and Samara were just bonuses; I saved too late to save Legion.
      • Considering the choice of selecting 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, and you break down for not taking her seriously.
        • Jack and Samara/Morinth? All of them pull some impressive biotic maneuvers prior to the suicide mission, Jack breaking out and then we have the battle between Samara and Morinth. Miranda? No, she just talks about it. Yes, as Miranda says, in theory every biotic should be able to do it, it would still be a flawed deduction if it doesn't actually lead to assigning someone Shepard knew from experience was able to get the job done. So Miranda being a "wrong" choice there is actually not that surprising in the end.
          • Oh, Miranda and her mistakes! During the pre-mission briefing, Miranda said the leader of the distraction fire team is someone who can lead with experience! I picked Samara because I figured being nearly a 1000-year-old warrior space nun would be plenty of experience and Miranda said it was a good choice! That got Tech Specialist Legion killed and I realized that Samara spent most of her time alone! So I reloaded and picked Garrus and Miranda was dismissive, probably secretly accusing me of picking him just because he's my romantic interest! Well, screw you, Miranda! By disregarding your opinion, I got everyone out alive!
    • Particularly heartwrenching 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 offscreen while you're fighting the Human-Reaper. You hear that all survivors have made it to the Normandy, 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.
    • If you don't upgrade the Normandy, the Oculus blasts the ship and kills a member of the crew with each shot. And 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.
  • Dammit to hell; the worst ending of the sequel is THE example of this since everyone with the sole exception of Joker dies. Seeing him looking at all those coffins is absolutely soul-shattering. Realizing that the torch has been passed on and it's now up to Joker to warn the rest of the galaxy about the incoming Reaper invasion makes it worse.
    • Doubly so once you realize that maybe Joker could've pulled up Shepard if he wasn't suffering from a disease that turns his bones into glass...
    • How about when he places his hand on that coffin, and the "N7" symbol is on it?
    • Even worse: this is the second time he's seen Shepard die, and once again, it happens as a result of something Joker 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.
  • Three words: Legion's death scene. This assumes, of course, that he dies in the suicide mission. 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!"
    • A case of Fridge Horror when you realize that Legion was trying to upload his programs to the rest of the Geth collective; a vain attempt to survive. He cries out "No Carrier!" because there aren't any nearby Geth stations or satellites to pick up the programs, so his programs; the very essence of Legion's soul, simply fade away. Legion dies not with a bang, but with a whimper.
      • Note that, to an extent, each of the programs is itself an individual working in tandem and consensus to control the platform. Imagine a group of a thousand, trapped, trying to escape, radioing the only person they know for some confirmation/some rescue attempt. No carrier, after all, could also be Legion pleading to Shepard to find a way to save some of his programs.
        • And to boot... since Legion operates much, much faster than an organic, their death isn't the fast death others might get. When you can do a billion calculations in a second, even getting killed in a quarter second can be forever.
  • Grunt's death scene was bittersweet at best. On the one hand, Grunt's death is just as sad as the others. But on the other hand, he dies the way all Krogan should die; he died fighting. This troper cried Manly Tears when he first watched that clip on Youtube.

Grunt: "Good fight, Shepard. Good fight..."

  • 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 a conversation between 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...
        • Both of those conversations were Tear Jerkers for me as well, but there was another one on Illium for me. 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." Honest to God, angry and sad tears from my eyes.
          • Just to make this one a tiny bit worse: It's implied that Shepard had met both of her daughters on the Citadel. One was the Presidium receptionist; the other worked for the asari Consort.
  • Legion replaying the first memories of the Geth Collective to Shepard:
    • It's absolutely heartbreaking if you stop Legion from uploading the Reaper data into the rest of the Geth collective in Mass Effect 3. Tali stabs him, and if you don't take the Renegade interrupt, Legion asks before dying "Does this unit have...". Tali tearfully replies, "Yes. Yes, it does..."
      • It's just as sad if you're able to convince the Geth and Quarians to make peace. Tali and the Quarians will be spared, but Legion still sacrifices himself in order to give the rest of the Geth free will:

Tali'Zorah: "Legion. The answer to your question... is 'yes'."
Legion: "I know, Tali. But... thank you. Keelah se'lai." (dies)

  • Jack's romance as well. This troper teared up with manly tears.
    • Jack's story about Murtock during her romance sidequest. The crack in her voice as she describes his dying message is the clincher.
  • Jacob even gets a tear-jerker moment after his loyalty mission, 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 made this troper bawl. "She... deserves a better man than I." The only solace I received was that fact that, somewhere, a beautiful Action Girl FemShep was romancing Jacob.
  • If you played a Paragon Shepard in the first game, in the second, you'll 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, Oriana.
    • Even as a Renegade, it's totally worth it, as it's the one and only 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.
    • This troper has to choose the tongue-in-cheek toast to Joker, because the other ones make her bottom lip go all wibbly.
  • 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 Horizon colonist named Robyn Reeve after the Collectors escape with over a third of the colony's population. "I know you're looking, but so many people are just gone. Every family lost someone. The children are the worst. ...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." The obvious desperation and pain in the letter is pretty damn sad.
      • And, unfortunately, it gets even worse than that: When you enter the Collector ship later, your party will mention that, due to the ship's main power being off, all the pods have cut out and show zero life signs. So all the abducted Horizon colonists are dead. And while you initially think the Turian ships disabled it, it turns out to be a trap by the Collectors, meaning they shut off their own power knowing it'd kill all the abductees. After that revelation, I made sure to kill every last one of those alien bastards.
        • Actually, when I used the sniper rifle as binoculars when EDI mentioned that, I saw several of the bodies within... twitching...
    • Well, I can't fix the rest of these, but I can fix this one. If you go straight to the Collector Base after your crew gets abducted, the first person you see get... liquified is one of the colonists, Lilith. Either they weren't on that ship, or not all of them were. So, you can save some.
      • You don't save any. I think Chakwas makes mention that the rest of the colonists were already processed. The only people you're able to save are your crew. And if you got there late... Only some of your crew...
      • If memory serves, one squadmate can make a comment that has EDI suggest most of the pods are actually empty.
      • My eyes water every time I read that message. Every. Damn. Time.
  • 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 and a sterility plague.
    • Fridge Logic makes it 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.
  • Another one on Tuchanka, a krogan is talking to his companion about a vid on 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..,
    • That same krogan also expresses interest in science and documentaries - science of the intellectual sort instead of the "Stuff Blowing Up" sort. Hearing the other (bigger) krogan crush the smaller one's dreams was 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. As several characters have noted, you never get used to seeing dead civilians. Fortunately, you can use a Paragon interrupt that lets Shepard give the worker some medi-gel.
    • And note that 'dogs' in this case are FENRIS mechs. At least with organic dogs, you could hurt them and maybe get them to back off. With mechs armed with tasers? No chance.
      • Sometimes while you play, you're in danger of forgetting that not everyone in the Mass Effect universe is a gun-toting badass. Most are just normal people doing their jobs and not hurting anyone. Those workers bring you out of it fast.
  • It seems that half of the Loyalty Missions are this. The other half are either Crowning Moments of Heartwarming or Crowning Moments of Awesome.
  • The Overlord DLC Mission

David Archer: "The square root of 906.01 equals..."
Gavin Archer: "...30.1."

    • When you realize that the whole time he's been screaming "QUIET, PLEASE! MAKE IT STOP!" at you...
    • This mission is even worse if either you or a family member has autism. Shepard's reaction to the horror David is going through is nothing compared to someone who knows what having a responsibility like that is like.
      • This troper IS autistic. And pretty good at math. I'm also the younger of two siblings. The end of Overlord hit me pretty hard.
    • Ditto. On the plus side we have Shepard's paragon ending, but listening to the barely\not at all hidden disgust in his\her voice made me fall so hard for Shepard.
    • I'm the type of player who takes the evil path in games, for the sheer pleasure of acting like a complete bastard. But, at the end of the Overlord mission, I was filled with an unbridled fury and sadness, plain and simple. I actually said "Give me the option to shoot that bastard... NOW!"
      • Settle for Pistol-Whipping? Because it can't be said enough that this is the good ending. The paragon solution. Shepard is a pillar of morality by beating him half to death.
    • If you decide to take David away from the facility, you're treated to a extended scene you wouldn't see otherwise. The camera focuses 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...
      • Hell, even a Renegade Shepard is disgusted by what happened, despite letting Archer keep him, if only to prevent a war. Shows that Even Evil Has Standards.
    • It really says a lot when the Paragon action towards the man who committed this atrocity is a Pistol Whip to the face.
    • Bioware programmed a moving sequence sure, but Chris Lennertz's score makes it utterly devastating.
    • I may be the only one to think this, but I found Archer to be more upsetting. He cares about his brother and knows what he did was wrong but at the point Shepard shows up its too late to stop. "What I've done to David is unethical. If he dies, I'll never be able to forgive myself."
    • Good lord, the entire Overlord scenario. From learning everyone but one scientist have been mercilessly gunned down by the rogue VI to learning the truth about the entire project had feelings of horror and sorrow tunnelling through my soul. Being a full Paragade let me unleash just how pissed I was through Shepard towards Gavin Archer and still take David away. Truly, the way Shepard delivered both his and my thoughts after a solid pistol whip helped me keep my tears at bay.

Archer: "No, leave him! He's too valuable!" (pulls out a gun and fires at Shepard)
Shepard: (dodges and pistol whips Archer) You even think about coming after David and this bullet will be waiting for you! Then we'll see who's too valuable!

    • 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.
    • Gavin Archer says David would cause a technological apocalypse if he escaped. We don't see this, but what if it was actually David trying to cry for help?
    • And to think that there are some people who argue for using "unproductive members of society" like David in similar experiments in REAL LIFE. They should all play Overlord...
  • This Troper managed to get through the entire suicide mission without any squad-member losses, but I was too late to save Kelly and several other crew members. One of those crew-members was Gabby from engineering. Ken survived. Seeing him down there, alone and hearing him say that it was so weird without Gabby made me 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.
      • I actually didn't realize that there was a time limit on rescuing the crew, because I'm so used to being able to take my time unless there's an on-screen timer counting down. I lost half my crew. It was definitely even more of a Tear Jerker when I found out that I could have saved them all, but I failed them... and then it was a good Tear Jerker when I realized that I could save them all. Cue restarting the game to do it right.
  • 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 an half-hour later, and there was absolutely no reason for any of it.
    • This troper just wanted to take that krogan home and cuddle it and give it a home and such. Heck, Anderson would make a great foster father; he speaks headbutt.
    • It's worse because that krogan will stay there until he's killed by the Blue Suns.
  • 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. Google it, and make sure to look for the Harry Chapin version. I guarantee you will cry buckets.
    • 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:
  • Speaking of Thane, his breakup scene if you choose to end a romance with him. Good god, if there's ever a High Octane Tear Jerker page, that should be the first entry. 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 down 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.
  • This troper had a moment during Legion's loyalty mission, when Legion realizes the heretics have been spying on the true Geth and gives one of the saddest lines I have heard in the game (from a supposedly emotionless synthetic, no less):

Legion: How did we become so different? Where did we go wrong?

  • The Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC: Where do we start?
    • 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 Crowning Moment of Funny. 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.
        • Worse yet, the reason why she went to the clinic in the first place: a "benign neoplasm of the reproductive system." A neoplasm is the anatomic term for a tumor. One hopes that whatever she had was truly benign instead of something premalignant that they caught early. Of course, the idea of Miss Genetic Perfection crippled by uterine fibroids isn't any more pleasant to think about.
          • 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's 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.
            • 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. Tearjerker, indeed...
      • Samara's, if anything, is even worse, just how the stupid quirk of genetics has ruined both her and her daughters' 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 just 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.
      • If you romance him, Thane's dossier includes a letter to be delivered to Shepard upon his death. The whole thing will make you wibble, but the final line is the killer: "I will await you across the sea."
      • Most don't feel sorry for Jack. Put this in perspective. 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 his 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.
      • And then there's 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.
      • And then there was 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 all the horrors that happened during Jacob's loyalty mission, it makes it that much more tragic.
      • Oddly enough, I found Legion's dossier to be very sad, particularly the conversation he has with EDI. She's the only other AI on the Normandy, and he's... I don't know, reaching out to her, I guess? Anyways, 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 dating sim.
          • A Quarian dating sim, no less.
            • It's like it was trying to see what would make the Quarians love them again, but no amount of consensus and research could find out what is required for the peace between both races
          • It got reprimanded for various things that hinted at its synthetic nature, like being able to manage a suspicious number of things at once, and it challenged and had each of those overturned. The taunting, though, it accepted the three-day suspension for.
          • 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.
          • There's actually a lot of little touches in the gamer profile. Its achievement in Grim Terminus Alliance ("Award: Cure For What Ails You (Kill 100+ quarians)") shows that there's still some resentment, yet its score in Fleet and Flotilla (miserable as it is) suggests it's trying to learn how to get along with them. Also notable in its GTA profile: "Award: Abolitionist (Complete full playthrough without any slave kills, free all slaves encountered)". It's just sweet until you remember that the geth were basically slaves to the quarians.
          • 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 after a Paragon Shepard threw him a bone by nominating him as humanity's first councilor, the files on him reveal that the stress of the position has caused him to start drinking. Guy's just one bad day away from growing a Beard of Sorrow.
      • And then there's Mordin's mission dialogue about the mission on Tuchanka which was expanded upon 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 dismisses 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.
      • Oh God, the one on Garrus... The entire chat log with his sister Solana is painful to read, but the lines about his activities on Omega really felt 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?"

        • For those who're a bit behind, he's refusing to sync up for video chat with his sister because a gunship blew off half his face, which was patched with prosthetics meant for a species with less biological similarity to his than a human does to a horror like this!
        • It just makes me so sad, when you know perfectly well what Garrus has been doing - trying to help the innocent and punish the guilty, usually in hilariously ironic manners. But then you realize just how much he's sacrificed... not only a comfortable, respectable and likely rewarding (from an emotional point of view, not just money) position as a C-Sec officer, but also his entire family. His mother is dying and his entire family thinks he just abandoned them to run off and be some merc for hire. And then you find out that he and Mordin secretly worked out a deal with the STG to fund the clinic where his mother's being treated, so she can get the treatment for free... well, that is just a giant Crowning Moment of Heartwarming for both Garrus and Mordin.
    • The Broker's video files, much in the same vein as the dossiers. Some are hilarious, others are heartbreaking.
    • If your Shepard stayed faithful to Liara, the entire ending and epilogue are a tear-jerking 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 he/she's back for real and in it for the long haul.
      • Even if you didn't romance her, it has the potential to be a Tear Jerker as Shepard lets his/her armor down. This troper chose the dialogue option "I'm frustrated", and Shepard just started venting. Knight in Sour Armor indeed.
    • Liara's breakdown after killing the Shadow Broker. It really underscores how much crap she went through in those two years. You even get the option to hug her while she's sobbing. Those who romanced her will get the option to kiss her as well.
    • Hell, just the thought that Liara spent two years on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge for what the Shadow Broker tried to do to Shepard whether s/he was a love interest or not warrants a place on this page.
    • The romance scene between Liara and Shepard at the end of the DLC. You barely see anything, but they just seem so happy. It's really a testament to Bioware's writing that they are able to make a love story, let alone an Interspecies Romance so convincing. No, I'm not crying. I've just got something in my eyes.
    • 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'll rather face a machine-bound, long and painful death in the hospital bed than get himself killed as he originally planned, if only it means he can be together with Shepard just a few months longer. That, my friends, is unquestionably the definition of true love.
  • 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 sea... You look beautiful, my siha..."

  • The way the deaths during the Suicide Mission are all understated. Obviously, they can't stop for a long, protracted death scene, but still, it's jarring when we as the audience are conditioned to have that emotional moment where we can really process the death of a character we've grown attached to.
    • Of particular notice is how, on the trip in, if the Normandy hasn't been upgraded, Jack is the first casualty - killed by a Oculus blast. Jack's a fighter, she deserved to be able to go out fighting, not an incidental death like that. After everything learned about her over the course of her loyalty mission, it's sad that she gets such an offhand death.
  • The Normandy SR-1 crash site. I had to leave before I drowned the keyboard.
  • It's bad enough that the game has the potential to kill off ALL of the Normandy's crew towards the end of the game, but this troper had the misfortune of only seeing half of his crew meet their ends at the hands of the collectors. To top it off, Kenneth, the engineer down in the bowels of the ship survived, but his best friend Gabriella didn't. Hearing Kenneth's dialogue post-game when this happens is absolutely heartbreaking...
  • The failure to romance Samara is heartbreaking. She wants to, but can't.

Samara: "In another time, in another life..."

  • Thane's pre-loyalty mission dialogue, when he said 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 Koylat was extremely upset about how he could leave her to die and how he wasn't ever there, it was just completely devastating to watch.
  • Often overlooked as a shallow, brutal gun-for-hire by many, Zaeed Massani is, at his core, a tragic individual. Zaeed is the living example of what Garrus would've become if he hadn't had 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.
    • The fact that some people write Zaeed off as a shallow brute Just Bugs Me. 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 sonuvabitch. 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: "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.
  • To this day, the saddest thing this troper has ever seen in a game is Han Olar's letter. Having read it easily several dozen times, it still brings tear to my eyes. 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 - and, well, I'll let the end of the letter speak for itself.

Han Olar: "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."

  • While Jacob's loyalty mission itself evokes more anger and disgust than tears while I'm in the middle of it, the email you get afterward never fails to tear me up.

"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 promised 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. It makes me choke up every time.
  • The ending of Arrival, for this troper... 300,000 lives, gone in a flash. And Shepard pushed the button. 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 invasion, but it doesn't cushion the fact that Shepard now has blood on his/her hands... and that I got an achievement for it.
    • To be fair, s/he did it with the best of intentions and bought the galaxy valuable time, but it still doesn't take away from that fact that 300,000 innocent people are dead and s/he's going to take the bullet for those lives.
      • What got me was how Shepard just stands overlooking the galaxy map... and then the system completely vanishes. 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 thanks to the indoctrinated Dr. Kenson cutting off all communications. My Shepard was determined to stand trial, for that... and to prove she's not like Saren.
          • For the love of all that is holy, Dr. Kenson hijacking the transmission when I tried to warn the colonists. Why couldn't she at least let me have that?! Indoctrinated or not, my sorrow for the batarians turned to rage towards her. I stormed out of that room with the rage of Hades.
            • It's worse if Shepard has the Colonist background. Humans and Batarians already have a hostile relationship with one another, and for Shepard, the hate is personal, everyone they ever knew was either killed or enslaved and they themselves were to left to die under a piece of rubble. 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 ruins EVERYTHING, turning what could have been a CMOH into... this.
  • 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 was especially heavy on Mood Whiplash for me, because it went from joy when I realized who Archangel really was as soon as they mentioned he was a Turian, to sadness when I saw how much he'd changed, especially since at the end of the first game, he'd been convinced to rejoin C-Sec, to all-out crying when he gets blasted by a gunship. Seeing him on the floor in a pool of his own blood is just heartbreaking, and it just gets worse when you get his Shadow Broker file and realize what else was going on before you found him.
    • What struck me most about the reunion with Garrus is just how tired he sounds when you finally get him face-to-face. He's so exhausted by everything that's happened to him in the last little while (physically and mentally), he just doesn't have it in him to be happy to see Shepard again.
  • Jack. Oh dear God, Jack...
  • 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: "Delus 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, you can take the what-seems-to-be "Paragon"-option and refuse to let Garrus take the shot. The increasing desperation in his voice with every missed opportunity, the look on his face, it all combined to make this particular trooper feel like one more person betraying him, even though I was set in my course of action. It was the very last line, though, that got to me. The broken way he tells you to "Just go. Tell him to just... just go." made me want to just hug the poor guy. The voice acting sold 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.
  • The Collector attack on the Normandy SR-2. The attack itself was too frightening and chaotic to count (and, uh, rather darkly funny at one point) but the aftermath, when Joker is picking himself up and everyone is gone. The rest of the crew was either dragged away kicking and screaming - literally - or killed trying to defend themselves. Your efforts saved the ship, but were too late to help anyone else. And afterwards, while Joker just watched his girl be attacked a second time, watched people - some of which he knew or even cared about - be taken away 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. This particular trooper would have loved a "Shut the hell up, Miranda!" dialogue option. Alas, it was not to be.
  • Even if you manage to rescue Kelly from the Collector Base, when you go and talk to her, she zones 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. Those faint sobs echoing in the confined space..."

Mass Effect 3

  • Late in the game, you can find video files on Project Lazarus, leading to this:

"I don't remember anything. Maybe they really just fixed me... or maybe I'm just a high-tech VI that thinks it's Commander Shepard..."

    • However, it gets turned into a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming if you bring your love interest along to the assault on Cronos Station, as they'll calmly reassure Shepard that they are indeed the real deal.
  • Thane's death. You knew it was coming, but it still eats at you.
    • Not only that, but you actually get to personally administer last rites to Thane on his deathbed, alongside Kolyat.
      • It's worse than that. Afterward, when Shepard asks about it, Kolyat explains that the prayer they recited wasn't for Thane, who'd already had last rites before Shepard arrived. It was a prayer for Shepard.
        • On top of that, if you romanced him in Mass Effect 2, the letter that appeared in the Shadow Broker's files will be waiting for you at your private terminal. "I will await you across the sea."
          • And for bonus points, if you romanced him, your final words to him are, "Goodbye, Thane. Meet you across the sea." *sniff*
      • I've never cried at any form of media in my life. But Thane's death got me dangerously close. When it was revealed the prayer was for me, I was biting my lip. Thank god everyone in the room wasn't paying attention to me at the time.
  • The one scene that will make even the most hardened Mass Effect fan shed tears: Mordin curing the Genophage.
    • "My xenoscience studies range from urban to agrarian. I am the very model of-" (the room explodes)
    • The bit that really gets me, if either you play Renegade or play Shepard as being conflicted about the cure, when Mordin blurts out "I MADE A MISTAKE!" In that one, crystallizing moment, his entire character snaps into perspective. All the logic, all the rationalizing, all the denial and neurosis takes on a whole new context when you realize that Mordin really is overwhelmed with guilt. That was the (in-character) moment when I decided to cure the genophage.
      • As mentioned in the Mass Effect 2 entry on this page for Mordin, this is one of the few times he EVER uses a personal pronoun. He didn't say "Mistakes were made!" or even "We made a mistake!", he said "I MADE A MISTAKE!". He truly blames himself for this and wants to repent for it in the only way he can at any cost. The guilt must have been wracking him for ages, and he finally has the chance to make it right. I shed tears for the man, because he finally has peace for once in his life.
      • If you convince him to stay alive and use the Paragon explanation for not curing the genophage, he admits that he was thinking short-term, again. Short-term thinking created the genophage, and now short-term thinking, his guilt, could ruin their chances of defeating the Reapers. He could cure it after the Reapers are defeated, and in the meantime get the Krogan help, Salarian help, and have him help build the Crucible.
    • What completed the scene for this troper is the optional Paragon Interrupt that appears as Mordin approaches the elevator (appears if you inform the others of the sabotage right away), which prompts Shepard to try and persuade Mordin not to go through with it. It doesn't change anything, which is pretty huge considering how many rash/regrettable actions you can normally prevent through the Paragon Interrupts.

Shepard: "I'm sorry."
Mordin: "I'm not. Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong."

      • I sang the rest of the song for him. How could I not?
        • This troper had to stop playing for a little bit. Mordin is literally one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. That song moment was just... words can't describe how meaningful his death is.
    • If you took the Renegade choice while wishing Mordin good luck, or if he was never prompted to sing "Scientist Salarian", he has an alternate, but equally poignant line: "Genophage cured. Krogan freed. New beginning. For all of us..."
    • "Would have liked to run tests on the seashells.", if you spoke to him enough before that mission.
    • It's even worse if you go down the Renegade path. Warning: This video will almost assuredly cause massive depression.
      • The real hammerblow is when Shepard walks away after gunning down Mordin. S/he throws the pistol away, as if enraged, horrified and disgusted at him/herself by being forced to go that far.
        • Proving that they are more than willing to twist the knife just as far as it can go, BioWare had the gun in that scene be the Carnifex, which some gamers might remember as the pistol that Mordin gave him/her in his Mass Effect 2 recruitment mission as a "sign of good faith."
          • Possibly an even bigger hammerblow is that Mordin lingers, and desperately crawls his way to try and fix the cure, but dies within an arm's reach from the console.
      • I was going to play full Renegade. I got through all of Tuchanka, Wrex declaring Shepard a true friend of the krogan, the others thanking Shep for freeing them and then got to the tower and confronted Mordin. But then... "I made a MISTAKE!". After hearing him break down like that... I couldn't. I just couldn't.
    • I cried. I actually cried. No game has ever made me actually cry before. Has a game made me get choked up and thrown sand in my eyes? Sure. Actual tears-running-down-the-face crying? Mordin's death succeeded where all others failed.
      • Mass Effect 3's only the second game I've ever cried at. Dragon Age Origins made me cry when Alistair died because of the choices I made, but even then, it wasn't like this.
    • The music. When the cure is dispersed, the music that's used? Vigil. The same one that played in the first game when you met Vigil and hope was restored. The song that symbolizes love and hope across all three games, playing in the aftermath of Mordin's sacrifice and wonder-filled expressions of the krogan as they witness the genophage finally being cured.
  • Legion's death. And if you fail to resolve the Quarian-Geth conflict peacefully with the genocide of the Quarians as a result, then it's made even sadder by Tali'Zorah's subsequent suicide.

Legion: "Creator Tali'Zorah, does this unit have..."
Tali: "Yes. Yes, it does."

Tali: "Legion, the answer to your question... is 'yes'."
Legion: "I know, Tali. But thank you. Keelah se'lai..."

    • More heartwrenching upon the confirmation that, yes, Legion had just recently become its own 'person'. It was an individual, not just part of the geth collective. The entity known as Legion truly did die.
    • Legion was my favourite character from Mass Effect 2. After making the choice, a friend of mine asked how I got the "best outcome". I answered that, if it was the best, why did it hurt that much?
      • What really got me was the exact manner by which Legion died to save his people. Uploading the code it took from the Reapers wasn't enough to uplift all geth to full sapience - it had to disseminate all 1183 of its runtimes into the network so as to share all of its experiences with the geth consensus. Think about it. It literally had to tear itself into over a thousand pieces and let all those pieces be assimilated by the geth until they were unrecognizable, and even if those pieces could be identified and reinstalled on that specialized mobile platform, those pieces would have been so changed by the experience that they wouldn't be Legion anymore. Say it with me; "Take and eat. This is my flesh. Take and drink. This is my blood." Godspeed, Legion.
    • Siding with the Geth and failing to convince Admiral Han'Gerrel to call off his attack only makes the scene all the more heart-wrenching. Legion still dies, but you get "treated" to a cinematic showing the Geth return to full strength, with Geth fighters, now FULLY CONSCIOUS INDIVIDUALS willingly sacrificing themselves to save their capital ships by intercepting the Quarian gun barrage, and then the capital ships return fire in self-defense just as predicted, and the glass cannons of the Flotilla are promptly ripped to pieces. Back on the surface, Tali sobs as she watches what's left of the Flotilla burn up in the atmosphere of their own homeworld, listening to Captain Kar'Danna vas Rayya issue a distress call, and if you played the first two games, then you know that wasn't just any ship to the Quarian formerly known as Tali'Zorah nar Rayya. It doesn't help that it goes like this:

"This is Captain Kar'Danna vas Rayya! We have multiple hull breaches! The Rayya's drive core is offline! All ships in range, please assist! Please assist! Escape pods not responding. All hands, prepare for impact."

      • Then Tali takes off her mask and looks back at Shepard, possibly the first time Shepard ever sees Tali's face, and if it wasn't, then she was Shepard's romantic partner in Mass Effect 2. Either way, it makes what follows all the more heart-wrenching as their eyes meet, and then...
      • There's a paragon interrupt here. Even it can't save her.
      • Also note that this comes right after taking down a Reaper for the first time under your own power. This should have been a Crowning Moment of Awesome, but losing Tali and Legion just minutes afterward, over nothing more than one Quarian admiral's stupid vendetta, makes it feel so utterly empty...
    • And if you side with the Quarians, Legion goes berserk and tries to strangle you to death. Tali intervenes and saves you, and Legion is on its knees. It looks up at you with these... almost puppy dog eyes. And taking the Renegade Interrupt, you shoot him. It doesn't die, it still looks at you with those puppy dog eyes. You have to repeat this several times before it goes down for the count... with those damn robotic, table lamp face, puppy dog eyes!
  • The very sight of Earth under siege by the Reapers.
  • While Shepard and Anderson are trying to get off of Earth, you come across a little boy hiding in the vents. The kid doesn't cheer up at the sight of Shepard; he merely says "You can't help me" when Shepard says he's going to take the kid to safety.
    • Said kid eventually is seen getting on an evac ship and it looks like he'll make it out okay, until a Reaper laser obliterates the ship the kid is on. Shepard's look of abject sadness, regardless of alignment, really hits home.
      • This Troper burst out in tears at that when playing the demo with my husband. He then made it worse by seriously looking at me and saying, "Don't worry, honey. We're going to get them. We're. Going. To. Get. Them."
      • Just that whole scene, coupled with the music If it doesn't make you want to turn every single Reaper into scrap metal, nothing will.
      • For this troper, what really sold the scene was Shepard's expression before the Reaper destroyed the ships. S/he's watching the little kid as he struggles to climb into the evac shuttle because he's only small with this look that screams "someone help him!" - Shepard knows s/he can't reach the kid, and s/he's physically willing someone to do something.
  • This video. It begins with so much death and destruction, and the Normandy being torn apart, Pressly and the ensign dying... The 0:47 mark hits, with a montage of all of your crew, past and present, set to soft, sad music. Then you see the Reapers waging their assault on Earth, tearing it apart. It just has this feeling of hopelessness. Then the music swells in a Hope Spot... before it fades out, and Sovereign says his final words:

Sovereign: "You exist because we allow it, and you will end because we demand it."

    • For this troper, the worst part of that video is as it's going through the clips of your crew, people your Shepard has fought alongside, befriended and possibly romanced. Sovereign seems to be speaking of them so dismissively. "Your lives are measured in years and decades. You wither and die. We are eternal, the pinnacle of evolution and existence. Before us, you are nothing." Sovereign is basically saying that none of these people you treasure matter. Your crew? Nothing. Your friends? Nothing. Your love interest? Nothing. The people who may have died to get you this far? Their sacrifice meant nothing. This troper had to grit her teeth in rage. Come March, the Reapers are going down.
      • This troper not only felt anger, but sorrow. The video was expertly crafted in such a simple way, it made him stare at people going about their daily lives without a care in the world while listening to Sovereign belittle your attempts to prolong your survival, tearing all hope down with its haunting mechanical voice and terrifying use of words to drown you in despair. This troper isn't sure how the Reapers will be beaten, and he's slowly growing more skeptical about it.
      • I'm not gonna lie, that video psyched me up for Mass Effect 3 more than any of the official material. The way it just shows all the effortless destruction caused by the Reapers and their pawns - Sovereign tearing through the Citadel fleet, the destruction of the Normandy SR-1 and Navigator Pressly's death, the Reapers laying waste to London, Harbinger callously abandoning the Collector General as it desperately reaches out for salvation, Earth in flames. It hit me that Sovereign is not bragging. He is not being condescending. He is stating an objective fact. The Reapers have succeeded in wiping out galactic life time and time again, like clockwork. They know no failure. They have never been stopped. The galaxy has known millions upon millions of years of unfathomably genocidal hate and destruction, on a scale nearly unimaginable. Even if we fight back, even if we win - it won't bring back the endless civilizations that fell before the Reapers.
  • This troper used to walk past the Houses of Parliament every day. When I saw the Reapers attacking London, the scope of the invasion and the attack really hit me. And then I thought: "GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY CITY!"
    • Not just London. Any human being can have a strong reaction to the Reaper invasion of Earth. While playing the demo, as the Normandy escaped the planet and the shot pulled back to show more of the Reaper fleet landing on Earth, this troper actually yelled: "GET THE HELL OFF MY PLANET!"
  • It's just a brief moment in the demo, but running into the Virmire Survivor before Shepard goes in to talk to the defense committee. It's especially a Player Punch if they were your character's love interest. Kaidan, you're killing me here:

James Vega: "You know the commander?"
Kaidan/Ashley: "I used to."

  • By definition, having a Prothean squadmate. After all, his race has been gone for 50,000 years, and the only remnants are Collectors, which have about as much in common with them as humans do with the Rachni. That party member won't have baggage - they'll have luggage.
    • Nope, not much baggage, just vengeance.
      • Ah, no. Seeing just how devastated Javik is when he realizes all of his people's plans to preserve their empire and live to fight the Reapers another day were for naught is heartbreaking. The part where he realizes that the current cycle had forewarning to the Reaper invasion he was born into yet did nothing to prepare is heartrending (though I wish there had been a Paragon/Renegade dialogue option there; Paragon - "The beacon was damaged, and we don't have your mental abilities to fully understand it. By that I mean I don't.", Renegade - "Did the Prothean Empire have Obstructive Bureaucrats? Ours got billions of people killed with their stupidity. I was the one they ignored."). Even fully subsuming himself into the role of the Avatar of Vengeance is rather sad - he literally has nothing else to live for, apart from seeing the Reapers meet their end.
        • Javik's Character Development, should you break from Paragon options and convince him not to touch the memory shard is very poignant in this regard. In the final mission, he will confide in Shepard that not only does he have absolute faith in him/her to stop the Reapers, but that he looks forward to the peace that will come afterward. After dealing with his Cultural Posturing, Fantastic Racism and Social Darwinist tendencies through the whole game, hearing him admit that his own cycle never had anything like this and that he looks forward to exploring the galaxy and seeing what peace looks like is absolutely heartwarming. It seems he has found something more to live for than mere vengeance, after all.
  • This live-action ad for Mass Effect 3 features Shepard kicking all sorts of ass, but before then, you see people in a panic over the Reaper invasion, including a store owner cowering under the counter as looters raid the place, a family watching the events unfold on TV, huddled close together, and a church congregation praying for salvation before the roof caves in on them.
  • This tweet from Emily Wong's Twitter feed covering the invasion of Los Angeles:
    • Hell, all of Emily Wong's tweets. Poor girl is live-blogging the REAPER APOCALYPSE. Several times, it brought me to near tears.
    • The entire #solcomms Twitter board is amazing. People are trying to link up with family, organize resistance. Governments and the Alliance are losing control and coordinating increasingly ineffectual evacuations. Military units are being overwhelmed. Shepard, these are the people who need you back. Don't let them down.
  • During the Rachni Nest mission, you find a dead krogan who has a message left for an asari on the citadel. The message begins with the words, "O Blue Rose of Illium". Charr's poetry got quite a bit better...
    • For those who don't get it: During Mass Effect 2, one of the mini-quests on Illium involves a surprisingly soft-hearted, poetry-spouting krogan who is in love with an asari maiden, with the quest being whether or not the asari accepts his love. If the player convinces her to accept him, he moves to Tuchanka with her. The poem he spouts as part of his courtship? "O Blue Rose of Illium".
      • Even worse, judging by your interpretation of the message, it seems to imply that Ereba was either carrying Charr's child or had already had children with him
    • During that same mission, if you choose to spare the rachni queen, Grunt will have a You Shall Not Pass moment where he charges an army of Ravagers. You know what's coming. You realize you can't stop it. And as Grunt charges into the middle of the fusion of two of his species' greatest enemies, quiet, mournful music begins to play as he is beaten down, bit-by-bit, until he falls.It could also be an aversion as well provided he completed his Rite of Passage in Mass Effect 2... as he crawls out of the cave covered in blood, and tells Shepard that he's hungry.
    • If Grunt does survive, he emerges, covered in Rachni blood, and Shepard runs over to him. All he says is "Anyone got...something to eat?". And then he just falls into Shepard's arms, completely unselfconscious, and lets Shepard all but carry him to the shuttle. What got to this troper about that part was how Grunt, the definition of an alpha male (remember, he's a tank-bred in charge of the Krogan version of Delta Force or the Navy Seals), just lets himself be helped so overtly. It becomes all the more poignant when you realize that Grunt has never allowed himself to be helped that way: he's had to prove himself, over and over and over again, for what amounts to his entire life. First, he had to prove he was worthy to himself, being tank-bred. Then he had to prove himself to the Krogan during his Rite of Passage, and many didn't want even to give him the opportunity to prove himself, because he was perceived as not being a true Krogan. Then, he had to prove himself to Aralakh Company (the Krogan Navy Seals) to become their leader. He had to do all of this virtually on his own. And he has positively excelled in culture that despises and punishes weakness of any kind. Essentially, he's one of the strongest people in the galaxy. And yet he just lets himself be helped by one of the only people he trusts. He doesn't worry about looking weak or losing respect, things he has to worry about literally all the time. This, combined with the amount of trust in Shepard he displays (staggering, for a Krogan), the maybe five-second-long scene is, in its way, probably the most vulnerable moment for any character in the series.
  • Various instances amongst the populace of the Citadel (including the influx of refugees):
    • The mad Batarian priest from Omega is now preaching to the Batarian refugees there, offering whatever solace he can after their homeworld was completely flattened by the Reapers.
    • A senile old woman repeatedly asking an asari clerk in the Embassy office about her son who "hasn't called in a long while", with the clerk frustrated and disheartened by the old woman's inability to cope with her loss (and that the old woman doesn't remember all the previous times she's asked). At first, she only says her son should date someone like the nice asari; afterwards, she keeps mistaking her for his actual girlfriend. At one point, the woman just says she has something important to do but can't remember what, and she has all these papers but can't remember what they're for...
      • I was actually under the impression that that WAS the asari that the old woman's son was dating, she just couldn't remember her, especially since the asari seemed to know her name. Makes it all the more heart-wrenching to me. I remember sitting there after hearing the first part of the conversation with my head bowed for a minute.
    • Alliance Navy grunts lamenting the Kick the Dog death of one of their comrades at the hands of some Cerberus goons.
    • An asari seeing her turian spouse off to war. Even worse in hindsight, since she intended to take their children to Sanctuary.
    • What hit this trooper the most was a turian C-Sec officer assigned to the refugee camps in the wards, and the young human girl he finds alone and waiting for her parents. He knows they're dead, but continues to handle this scared girl alone in the camp with a protective tenderness.
    • One big Meaningful Background Event was seeing a batarian holding a grieving human woman. Wow.
    • The worst one for this troper so far has been the Alliance private and sergeant arguing about Reaper vs. Cerberus deployments outside the docking bay. It seems like just another hot-headed soldier wanting to be where the REAL action is, not fighting this wannabe enemy. But if you pass by enough times, she mentions how she has a little brother who she loved, but who always ran with the wrong crowds and would get into trouble. He'd sent her a message recently about how he was finally turning his life around, and had found a wonderful new job with great pay and awesome benefits... and attached a picture of the uniform he got along with it. A white and gold uniform. Hit this troper in the gut really hard - not because I've got a younger brother, but because I am the younger brother. To an older sister, even.
      • Even worse, on one of the missions where you have to clear out a Cerberus base, you find a datapad with an internal Cerberus memo, signed by the private's brother.
    • A human soldier has an asari spouse who's been shipped off to war. The human is about to be as well. They had a child, but the human's family wouldn't accept the child for safe-keeping (damn xenophobia). What does the human soldier do? Asks someone at the embassies if she can send her child to Thessia. And what happens to Thessia shortly thereafter? Glassed by the Reapers. Kid's most likely dead now. All because her grandparents wouldn't accept her.
      • I like to think my Shepard remembered the conversations as she went past to get to the Spectre office and Udina's office. Knowing that most of Thessia's population was slaughtered by the Reapers, and (if you're like me) Liara is your bondmate, it's just too much to bear. A human-asari offspring died a needless death because Cerberus decided to throw their lot in with the Reapers.
    • In the hospital, Shepard can, over repeated visits, listen to the horrifying story of a PTSD-stricken asari Huntress named Aeian T'Goni, who was deployed to a human colony called Tiptree, where she spent a day or two getting to know a farming family. When she off-handedly bemoans how she hasn't had a chance to get anything better than a sponge bath due to constant combat, the farmers' fifteen-year old daughter, Hillary, offers the use of their shower. She accepts, and as she comes out, Naeira, a would-be paramour if not for a low-potency Ardat-Yakshi condition, walks in... huskified into a Banshee. Everyone except Aeian and Hillary is dead in minutes. They spend the next two days surviving in the wilderness with no armament besides Aeian's biotics (though Hillary manages to kill more than one Husk with a stick), before realizing that as the farmhouse was overrun, evac isn't coming unless they radio for it. Which happens to be back at the farmhouse. They sneak in, find the barn filled with human captives, then decide to set them free before going for the radio... only for them all to start screaming for the husks - they're all indoctrinated! Aeian manages to wipe them out, blowing an entire wall out of the barn in the process (and is nearly driven to madness by the adrenaline surge of tearing apart such soft targets with her biotics), but Hillary breaks the ever-loving hell out of her leg. They hide under the wreckage... and then the Banshee comes close and Hillary can't stop crying over her shattered leg... so Aeian shoots her in the head to keep her quiet. There's a human nurse who looks a lot like Hillary at the hospital, and Aeian starts screaming whenever she's around. Perhaps the most screwed-up part of the whole story is that evac was able to gain highly useful intel when they picked up Aeian, and the asari gave her a medal. Aeian herself, however, is pretty much another casualty - she blames herself for the entire fiasco due to being in the shower sans radio and gun when the Husks showed up, and insistently keeps applying for a Citadel firearms license that keeps getting rejected because the shrinks think she's a suicide risk. If you use your Spectre status to authorize it, you'll find out they're right.
      • It gets worse. After the destruction of Thessia, Joker will, if asked, mention his father and sister are on Tiptree and, though he hasn't heard from them yet, he's hopeful because he's heard the planet has been evacuated of non-combatants... such as teenaged children... like his sister... Hillary.
  • It turns out that the endings were actually quite sad because of how it ended and how appropriate it was for the trilogy to end in this light. Shepard reaches the Crucible... and finds out what he/she must do. Most, if not all, of the Mass Relays are sacrificed to stop or control the Reapers, meaning that galactic travel will be crippled. The scene of Shepard's life flashing before his/her eyes, along with the sad music that plays in the background, makes it sadder, as you know that he might not make it out alive. But in the end, there is a glimmer of hope, and the cycle may be broken. The Normandy lands on a lush jungle planet, and its crew is alive in the best ending, and if the final scene of the Grandfather (voiced by Col. Buzz Aldrin himself) telling the story was something to go by, it's implied that society eventually gets better, space travel is restored to its original capacities and society gets back on its feet. If you've seen this coming since ME1 (as some people did), then it pulls the trilogy into "Full Circle".
    • On the other hand, the Normandy being stranded could very well be interpreted as a worse tearjerker than it just being destroyed. Now the crew is stuck on an unknown world with no way to leave, no way to call for help, no way get back to their families, homeworlds and loved ones (Shepard included), and a very slim chance of survival. And on top of that, Garrus and Tali can't eat the same food as everyone else, so unless by some miracle of chance the planet has levo- and dextro-based life, the two of them are doomed to die of starvation. It's no wonder some people have thrown at least this part of the ending into Fanon Discontinuity.
    • Even the fandom's theory on the ending holds no solace. Throughout the game, there are very subtle hints that the young boy Shepard sees isn't really there, and the dreams he/she has are his/her mind telling him/her the child will be the death of him/her. This all gathers up into one large Player Punch in the end where the entire ending is Shepard in a fight for his/her very sanity and soul against Reaper indoctrination. Two of the choices would result in Reaper domination while another, while risking almost everything Shepard fought for, will be his/her final push to break out of the fantasy the Reapers built around him/her. Whether you believe it or not, it shows just how much trauma Shepard really has put up with throughout the entire game.
  • Even Shepard turns out s/he's not weathering the initial, devastating attack well - the first time you leave the Citadel, s/he actually has a heartwrenching Nightmare Sequence about all the past losses he/she's suffered. Through it all, he's hearing voices, the voices of people who have died to get Shepard where he is right now. The Virmire survivor will be heard most often, whispering Shepard's name or saying what they said on the radio before they died, but anyone who died is fair game. Extremely sad ones are Tali or Legion if Rannoch is not completed peacefully, since you'll be hearing them begging you not to commit genocide on their race, or Mordin's Ironic Echo of "had to be me, someone else might have gotten it wrong." Even people Shepard may not have killed him/herself, like Eve, will speak.
    • An enterprising Youtuber compiled the various voice clips here. See how long you can make it through.
  • The very fact that it's this game where we see that Shepard is finally being ground down by everything happening in the war. For the past two games, s/he's basically been an unstoppable Badass that didn't seem to be affected by anything, and now you finally see him/her starting to break down under the stress.
    • For female Shepards, Jennifer Hale's performance after the destruction of Thessia is almost painful to listen to. The weight of everything finally taking a noticeable toll on Shepard is played beautiful, so justified, so strained, and the moment when Joker talks about being the one charged with looking after Shepard - the voice actors brought the A-game and then some.
  • If you sent David Archer to Grissom Academy in the Overlord DLC, and then fail to save the academy in the second game, you meet up with his brother in a later mission. I was fully prepared to hate him, call him out on what a bastard he is, but before I can say anything, he asks if anyone knows what's happening with his brother. And when Shepard tells him that the academy was lost, he pulls out a pistol. He says he was saving it if Cerberus caught up to him, or if he needed to "escape this nightmare." Then he walks off, and you hear a shot ring out. His last words especially get me.

"God be with you, Commander Shepard. He was never with me." (blows his brains out with a pistol)

  • The mission where you meet Morinth's sisters. It's heartbreaking to see one sister trying and failing to save another.
    • It Gets Worse. Samara then commits suicide if you don't stop her. And it's entirely possible to then mercilessly gun down Falere right over her mother's body. Seeing an entire family get slaughtered in the space of minutes is heartbreaking, and it's so callous that it might just make you hate a Shepard that does it.
      • It Gets Better, too. Samara's oldest daughter, Rila (partially transformed into a Banshee), detonates the bomb in the monastery, killing herself and several Banshees. At the very end, one of the Banshees picks her up, apparently about to finish transforming her into a Banshee, and she presses the button on the detonator. There's about two seconds before the bomb goes off and the other two Banshees in the room realize what's about to happen. Morinth, you are no longer the strongest and brightest of Samara's daughters...
    • If, for whatever reason, you chose not to kill Morinth in Mass Effect 2, you can access some letters that she sent to her sisters, but were never read, by using Liara's terminal.
  • Mixed with Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. Liara comes up to Shepard's cabin and reveals that she's making an archive that she will leave behind for other species to find should they fail, to preserve history and warn them of the Reapers. She then tells Shepard that she's making an entry specifically for him/her. And she's letting Shepard decide how s/he wants to be remembered. Even better s/he can leave it up to Liara in turn saying, "You know me well enough, Liara."
  • On Rannoch, while rescuing Admiral Koris, you encounter a dying quarian, Dorn'Hazt. His last words are for Shepard to tell his son, Jona, that his father made it to the homeworld. Where do you remember Jona from? From Tali's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2, where you come across a video of a quarian woman making a recording of her own last moments. Her last words were to Jona, saying "mommy loves you very much!" before she got gunned down. Poor Jona's an orphan now.
    • If you bring Tali along on that mission, as he passes away, she calls him "Dorn'Hazt vas Rannoch". The first Quarian in centuries to have the homeworld as part of his name brought a rather sad smile to this troper's face.
  • For this troper, a possible ending with Conrad Verner did it. If you did the Jenna side mission in Mass Effect 1, you get a funny scene. If not, Conrad calls out an undercover Cerberus operative, who then tries to shoot Shepard. Conrad takes the bullet by diving into the line of fire and then, as he bleeds out, asks if he got to be the hero for once. Shepard tells him that he did as Conrad dies in his/her arms. Oh, Conrad. He really did have it in him...
  • At the end of the final push toward the beam connecting to the Citadel, Harbinger arrives and blows away the troops surrounding Shepard, leaving him/her sprawled out on the ground, alone, bloodied, battered and in half-molten armor, struggling along with a pistol, gunning down husks as they rush up toward him/her. Just the image of Shepard, the unstoppable, unkillable badass who smoked mechs and armies and Reapers, being forced to slowly limp along, struggling to keep on going through raw willpower through pain and injury and despair... it's pretty damned moving.
  • For me, there was a sense of ancient sorrow upon reaching the Catalyst, the controlling intelligence behind the Reapers. It reveals itself as the child Shepard has been having nightmares about throughout the entire campaign, sadly informing Shepard that the cycle of extinction is of organic origin, not synthetic. "The created will always destroy the creators." Every cycle has seen the rise of organic intelligence, which eventually builds synthetic intelligence, only to destroy it or be destroyed by it when it attempts to assert itself - often destroying entire worlds in the process, preventing new organic intelligence from evolving. The Reapers were simply the best solution the Catalyst could come up with; upload spacefaring races into Reapers every 50,000 years to preserve their civilizations, either forcibly like the Terminus colonists or willingly like the heretic geth, leaving younger races to develop on worlds unspoiled by war. Salvation through destruction. I never thought I could sympathize with the Reapers, but imagine being a child that had to kill your Abusive Parents in self-defense, only to find the same abuse and death repeating itself over and over again wherever you go, leaving only destruction in its wake. The Reapers were born from the ultimate Freudian Excuse. And the worst part is that Shepard's use of the Crucible not only made the Catalyst itself vulnerable to direct attack by organics (as they've obviously left behind blueprints on how to build new ones on their own versions of Prothean Beacons), but possibly even proved that organics and synthetics could make peace, meaning it was All for Nothing. So the choice is left in Shepard's hands.
  • Here's a gut punch for you. If you ignore the Cerberus force going after Grissom Academy, you will meet Jack later... except she's now an indoctrinated Cerberus Phantom who you have to kill.
    • Before you fight her, there's also a recording... That must have been the worst thing imaginable. Jack, who's softened a little with time and responsibility, back in Cerberus's hands, knowing they have the students she's so protective about...

(after killing Indoctrinated!Jack)
Garrus: "Damn it! Jack..."
Shepard: "It wasn't her. Not anymore. That's just one more crime Cerberus will have to answer for."

  • On the Crew deck in the Normandy, there's a memorial wall dedicated with the names of those who served in the ship and gave their lives doing so, such as Navigator Pressly and whoever died on Virmire. It's not just simply a nice, sympathetic touch: the list will get longer as you progress. Thane Krios, Legion, Admiral Anderson... and those are just the unavoidable deaths... It's heartbreaking if you pause and think about it.
    • The worst part is that it's right there when you get off the elevator. The game will never let you forget the cost of your actions.
      • Oh, and Kelly Chambers is noticeably absent if she dies.
  • You can meet Kelly Chambers on the Citadel and talk to her a few times. When you return after the attempted coup, she's gone. You can overhear a conversation where someone says that Cerberus troops walked up, asked if she was Kelly and then shot her in the head when she said 'Yes'. Hearing that stunned me.
    • Someone previously asked over in Headscratchers if Paragon was ever the wrong choice. This shows that Bioware was listening.
      • It's an arguable example, though. She can only fake her own death if she abandons the refugees she's helping.
        • She stops helping them so she can create a new identity. There's nothing about her not starting again with a new look and name.
    • It Gets Worse, Kelly can be Driven to Suicide if you get angry with her during a conversation. The once-so-chipper Yeoman turned so incredibly fragile and it's all your fault.
  • Before the Grand Finale, Shepard and Garrus can have one more chat and make plans for the future. Retiring, living off the vid royalties, going somewhere warm. Even adopting a few krogan babies. Seems fun and cute, but given the undeniable bleakness and the way she and Garrus are obviously leaning hard on each other to keep hope, it feels like Garrus trying so damn hard to keep them going even when death's almost a certainty. And given that no matter what, they will be separated and Shepard will almost always be dead, it's even Harsher in Hindsight. Goddamnit, Bioware, was a decent Happy Ending really too much to ask for?!
    • Even without the romance, seeing Shepard telling Garrus "There's no Shepard without Vakarian" does pull a few heartstrings: especially since you can interpret Garrus's obvious admiration for Shepard as a form of inferiority complex: he finally see the person he always tried to live up to - probably thinking he was nothing but a pale shadow of his model - telling him that s/he would be nothing without him and always saw him has their equal, military ranks be damned.
      • This troper never particularly cared for Garrus until Mass Effect 3, and this scene in specific. Now I want to go back to play through them all again.
  • The final talk with a romanced Tali, when she finally breaks and whispers the one thing she desperately wants most in the universe. Just the way her voice cracks is devastating:

Tali: "I want more time..."
Shepard: "I know. Whatever happens..."
Tali: "I know."

    • It Gets Worse. In the Extended Cut ending, if you romance Tali, bring her to the final battle and have high-enough Effective Military Strength, she gets severely injured when Harbinger lays waste to Task Force Hammer, forcing Shepard to call in the Normandy SR-2 to get both Tali and another squadmate to safety. If you don't cry at what happens next, you officially have no soul:

Shepard: "I need you to make it out of here alive, Tali. Get back to Rannoch. Build yourself a home..."
Tali: (clearly about to cry) "I have a home."
Shepard: (turns around to leave)
Tali: (reaches out) "Come back to me..."

      • Made even worse by the fact that the Mass Relays are, at best, severely damaged in every ending. With Rannoch on the other side of the galaxy from Earth, poor Tail will probably never get to see Shepard again. Goddammit Bioware!
  • And speaking of that whole "final conversations" sequence...
    • "Boldly they rode, and well, into the Jaws of Death, into the Mouth of Hell..."
      • Wish they'd had the previous lines: "Cannon to the right of them, cannon to the left of them, cannon in front of them volleyed and thundered. Stormed at with shot and shell..."
    • "I can't lose you again." To reiterate: "Goddammit, Bioware!"
      • "When this is over, I'm going to be waiting for you. You'd better show up." Fuck you, Bioware. No, seriously, fuck you.
  • In the very end, when the Illusive Man is dealt with, Anderson is gone and Shepard closes her eyes, looking at rest, having done what needed to be done, Hackett calls and Shepard just says "What do you need me to do?". It's so tired but determined. How unfair it is that, even after all Shepard has done, the world demands more. How utterly broken Shepard looks as she pulls herself across the floor, clearly dying, covered in (and, if the voice acting is any indication, choking on) his/her own blood, is just plain heartbreaking.
  • All those people on the Citadel? All those people with hopes and sorrows, victories and losses. All those people you helped, listened to, worked for, fought for. How many of them do you think got away when the Reapers came?
  • Anderson will never be able to make good of his intention to get back together with his old flame, Kahlee Sanders. His death was heartbreaking - just him and Shepard gazing at Earth, watching the allied fleets tear into the Reapers, finally content that his work was done.
    • That entire scene is so quietly emotional. The two of them just look so exhausted.

"God... feels like it's been years since I just... sat down..."

  • Also, Anderson's last words to Shepard. The fact that he chooses to call Shepard "child" or "son" (depending on gender) also really reinforces the whole father-figure dynamic... perhaps that Shepard was the son/daughter Anderson always wished he'd had, given his relationship with his own sons seems to be less than perfect. The Shadow Broker files mention Anderson's sons seeking his approval/recognition - and here, he's chosen to give it to Shepard. In any case, acknowledging Shepard in such a way makes the line that much more heartbreaking.
    • Calling FemShep "child" is almost more sad in a way, as he's probably one of the few/only people who would see her in such a light after everything she's done. It reminds us of her vulnerability.

Anderson: "You did good, child/son. You did good. I'm... proud of you."

    • Even worse, the cut dialogue has Anderson asking Shepard if he/she would like to settle down now that his/her work is done, assuring him/her that he/she would be a great father/mother and how proud any child would be to have him/her as a father/mother.
  • The Illusive Man, indoctrinated and dying, telling Shepard that he wishes that Shepard could see the Earth the way he does, see how beautiful and truly perfect it is. Earth is Humanity's home, symbolic of everything Cerberus has fought for. In his final moments, the Illusive Man has a genuine, passionate expression of his feelings showing the humanity that he had been hiding behind that cold, logical, and emotionless persona. Shepard looking upon the Illusive Man with genuine sadness after this exchange seals the deal.

Illusive Man: "There it is... Earth. I wish you could see it like I do, Shepard. It's so... perfect..."

    • About as bad is if you get the Illusive Man to pull a Saren 2.0, where you can get him to see the error of his ways. Alas, Poor Villain in that case... but we'll always have Kai Leng.
      • I'd been holding it together throughout the entire game up to that point. I'd weathered my favorite characters dying, having to kill the Rachni Queen after I'd been so looking forward to seeing what she'd bring to the table, the Reapers tearing the galaxy apart, the shitty writing. But when the Illusive Man died, I completely lost it. I'd seen it coming, and I still had to shut the game down for a while because I couldn't see the screen through my tears. Dammit, Martin Sheen.
    • The Illusive Man's final words if you manage to convince that he's been indoctrinated are like a punch to the gut:

Illusive Man: "I-I'm sorry, Shepard. I tried..." (shoots himself in the head)

      • The Illusive Man's death is made so much worse if you've read the Mass Effect: Evolution comic book. In the last moments of his life, the Illusive Man became Jack Harper again...
  • Remember Aresh, the troubled biotic who tried to restart the Paragia project that created Jack? If you had Jack spare his life, in Mass Effect 3, you get a news report that Aresh was defending a shuttle fleeing a Reaper-invaded colony. According to the report, Aresh had "a history of drug abuse and criminal activity", but single-handedly took on a dozen or so Reaper creatures and managed to save the shuttle, though he was eventually overwhelmed and killed.
  • Wrex reminiscing after you cure the genophage how, long ago, in the arena of Kalros, his father had tried to murder him, as an example of how the genophage had reduced the krogan to animals.
    • The whole Krogan mission, seeing the ruins of the Ancient Krogan city, their art, their history and that they once had the ability to build wonderful structures... and all of that has been lost in the wake of the genophage.
      • They lost that all even earlier, when they had their planet-wide nuclear war millennia ago. But the genophage, and even the technological uplifting before that, made it difficult for them to even try to get back what they had lost.
  • An elcor diplomat on the Citadel asks you to help get some elcor troops back to their homeworld to defend evacuating civilians. When you do it and go back to him, you can ask how many got away. His answer? A simple "Not enough". He doesn't specify his tone. He doesn't need to.
  • All on-screen character deaths that happen or are possible during the game are huge tear-jerkers. Even if you only see them by looking on YouTube, watching all the beloved (or not-so-beloved) characters' last moments are gut-wrenching. Even if you hate one of the characters, seeing their deaths in this game is probably enough to ruin your day and make you miserable.
  • If you read the mail between Garrus and his sister, you see that his mom was sick. During Mass Effect 3, when asked about his family, he only mentions his father and sister, heavily implying that his mother died between the 2 games. Combine that with spending a lot of time worrying if they evacuated Palaven or not...
  • After rescuing Admiral Koris, the first thing he does is checking if he can still save his crew, only to hear geth communication on the radio. You can tell that he's devastated, only hoping they found comfort in knowing that they'd die on Rannoch.
  • The memories that play during Shepard's trip into the geth server are heartbreaking. They pretty much turn the Geth from savage, faceless killing machines into "profoundly naïve, yet unimaginably wise" children who don't understand that their parents are fighting over whether or not to get rid of them.
    • One shows two quarian scientists running tests on a geth platform, trying to figure out what's caused the change in its behavior (as in refusing to be turned off), while the obviously confused geth keeps saying it's still capable of serving and asking what it did wrong so it can correct the problem.
      • To some people on the Autism Spectrum, including this troper, it's very reminiscent of what can be a daily problem - only taken to huge proportions. That just makes it all the more gutwrenching.
    • Another shows a quarian fighting to protect a geth platform from a group of quarian soldiers. The geth states outright that, even in spite of the quarian's insistence, it had deemed the situation too hazardous to his (the quarian's) life, and therefore would surrender itself to the soldiers. The quarian tries to stop it, but is killed by other quarians by some manner of explosive. What makes it particularly heartwrenching is that the geth platform survived the explosion, and its first action (while visible damaged, no less) is to ask the quarian if he's alright. And because geth are fully capable of simply moving from platform to platform and thus are largely immune to traditional 'death,' the idea of actual death is completely alien to it.

"Creator Megara, what is your status?" "Creator Megara?"

      • Legion commenting on the Quarians who protested the attempted genocide against the Geth and actively tried to protect them from the rest of their race. It notes that, while the Quarians have largely forgotten about these protesters, the Geth have never forgotten their sacrifices.
    • Another shows "a simple agricultural platform" arming itself with a Widow sniper rifle to defend other platforms from a quarian death squad. Shepard mentions that the rifle that platform carries is the same one that Legion used to carry. The geth can share memories and experiences, but you can hear Legion's hesitation before merely commenting that it's a reliable model. That was one of Legion's memories, or at least the memories of one of its runtimes. Part of Legion used to be a humble farmer.
      • If playing as a Colonist, this becomes even more of a Tear Jerker as this was likely how Shepard survived Mindoir. S/he used to be a simple farmer. The parallel goes even further if you're also an Infiltrator - only Shepard and Legion use the Widow.
  • The destruction of Thessia and how devastated this leaves Liara. Made worse in that they withheld the fact they had a Prothean Beacon, which also contained information that could have prepared the galaxy against the Reapers. Javik later admits the Asari were the ones the Protheans believed would end the cycles. He may have been lying to motivate her though.
    • There's also how Councilor Tevos has a visible Heroic Blue Screen of Death at the news. She'd been so sure that Shepard was contacting her with good news, greeting the communication with a smile and then...
      • Made even worse by the fact that the Councilor had finally put her full measure of faith in you. She fully expected you to get the job done, and you let her down.
    • And then after she disconnects, Shepard quietly says, "I'm... sorry." I don't know how Meer did, but Hale sounds so defeated.
      • His was just as heartbreaking.
    • On the subject of Thessia, hearing Kai Leng mock Thane/Major Kirahee's death is heartrending and infuriating. It's as if Bioware knew just how to make us hate this character. After all the evil he's done, watching Shepard gut him like a fish with an omni-blade is one of the most satisfying moments of the series.
      • "I only hope that your friend Thane/Kirahee died screaming in agony!" Fuck you, Kai Leng. Fuck. You.
  • Despite Diana Allers' status within the fandom, just before assaulting Earth, talking to her came out with this line, that in one instant, gave her some actual character depth.

Diana: "I'm a colony kid, Shepard. Bekenstein. The Reapers didn't even harvest it. Just a few shots on their way through. You know, 'cause they attack manufacturing plants. And we had factories that made... binoculars."

  • If you sabotage the Genophage cure, Wrex will catch on. The entire fight is heartbreaking, especially the last line where Bailey says they probably won't have a coffin big enough for him, and will have to space him. Wrex never deserved such a fate.
    • To the masochists, here is the full sequence of murdering Mordin and Wrex to secure salarian support, along with Shepard confessing to Garrus. And the fact that, at 7:20, you just know that Garrus figured it out and knows what you did.
      • Even worse, when Shepard tells Mordin to walk away at 1:40, you can hear Hale's voice crack, as if she's desperate and doesn't want to have to do it. Even a Renegade Shep has trouble stomaching it.
        • It's even more of a gutpunch if you take the conversation route normally reserved for the non-blue paragon when Wrex confronts you on the Citadel and Shepard insists that nobody died as a result of his/her actions. Wrex's response? "Everyone but my unborn son!".
  • If you let him escape to save the hostages during Mass Effect 1's Bring Down the Sky DLC, Balak makes an appearance on the Citadel, making himself known by putting a gun to the back of Shepard's head. He still places full blame on Shepard for the deaths of the batarian colonists in Arrival, and also verifies the theory that the Batarian Hegemony had been destroyed from within by indoctrination resulting from the Leviathan of Dis. But the biggest tearjerker of them all? He's the only reason what remains of the Hegemony military is still capable of fighting. He's been feeding them intelligence on the Reapers from the Citadel, and he's the highest ranking officer left in the Hegemony. Sparing him (and convincing him of Shepard's side of the story) will cause him to give Shepard the full support of what remains of the Hegemony's forces. The sound of hopelessness in his voice is a stark contrast to the bombastic self-assurance he'd shown previously, and being confronted with the reality that the person in his sights isn't to blame for the death of nearly his entire race nearly breaks him.
  • The scene where you're in the hospital on the Citadel, talking to the Virmire Survivor as they lie there, unconscious and badly hurt from Mars. This troper had Ashley as his VS, and listening to Shepard talk to her, knowing that she probably can't hear him and not knowing if she was going to be okay or not made this troper die a little inside.
    • You can buy her a book from the Sirta store. You know, the one by Alfred Tennyson, her favorite poet. It has no impact on gameplay whatsoever, but it's nice to be able to show that you remembered such a minuscule detail.
    • It's just as heartbreaking with Kaidan, when Shepard tells him he can't die, that both the Alliance and Shepard themself really need him now. Particularly heartbreaking after how the huge chasm between them during their arguments on Mars.
  • Ashley/Kaiden nearly getting killed by Eva Coré at the end of the Mars mission. The whole scene is just so brutal and hard to watch, especially if you're in a romance with them. It was even worse for this troper because I had no idea it was impossible to stop Coré from reaching her shuttle. As soon as the Illusive Man said "Dispose of him", I freaked out for a minute because I thought my failure had just gotten my Shepard's Love Interest killed.
  • If you are in a romance with Liara, she will come to your quarters right before the assault on the Cerberus base. Before she and Shepard get their thing on, they both lie back, hold hands and look at the stars, and she comments on how easy it could be for a single ship to simply get lost out there, and for someone to potentially find a place with just peace and happiness. Later on, before the mission to rush the Citadel beam in London, you can approach Liara for a final chat, during which she will telepathically share a fantasy in which the two of you share a kiss while floating alone amongst the stars. Probably the most deeply romantic moment in any game ever.
    • "It can also be a way to say farewell." Cue massive amounts of tears.
      • In the very end, as I watched Shepard die, as I watched myself die, I could only think one thing: "I'm sorry, Liara. We'll never get to see those little blue babies."
  • After Thane's death, Shepard says something that hints that the strain of what he/she is going through has become so much that he\she has become a Death Seeker.

"Goodbye, Thane. You won't be alone for long."

    • The idea that Shepard might actually be talking about the billions who will die at the hands of the Reapers isn't much better.
  • Miranda's death. Especially if you romanced her.
    • "N-Not everything... Nobody's perfect... At least Oriana's safe..." She really did change during her time with Shep...
  • The fires of Palaven. They're visible from Menae, Palaven's moon, a chunk of just orange that looks a little larger than Earth's moon when viewed from Earth's surface. Which means all of that is ON FIRE. And that's where Garrus's family lives.

Garrus: "See that blaze of orange? The big one. That's where I was born."

  • Lieutenant Tarquin Victus's Heroic Sacrifice was pretty bad - but it's not until Shepard returns to the Normandy and speaks with Primarch Adrian Victus, his father that the true meaning of that event strikes him. It evokes King Theoden from the Lord of the Rings movies:

"No parent should ever have to bury their child..."

  • Amazingly enough, Donnel Udina. Dealing with the fall of Earth and the destruction of Arcturus Station strips away most of his Jerkass demeanor and leaves a very tired man trying to save as many of his fellow human beings as possible, any way he can, just like Shepard. Eventually, it leads him to become a mole for Cerberus and assist them in their terrorist attack on the Citadel out of sheer desperation. Ironically, to forgo all the bureaucracy that kept him from sending everything to Earth's aid. He probably remembered the good he and Anderson did with Sheperd to save the colonies when no one else would. And then he gets gunned down by the Virmire Survivor/Shepard, having accomplished absolutely nothing.
    • If you talk to him after arriving on the Citadel for the first time, he will express some of his own anxieties to Shepard and admit that he has friends on Earth that he's worried about. It really drove home the fact that, while they have never gotten along, Shepard and Udina are ultimately on the same side, especially now that they are fighting for the survival of their entire race. In that moment, Udina was Rescued From the Scrappy Heap for me.
  • Shepard and Garrus' goodbye.

Shepard: "Goodbye Garrus. And if I'm up there in that bar and you're not, I'll be looking down. You'll never be alone."

Garrus: "Never."

    • Hale sounds on the edge of tears herself... and then Garrus lets out this small sigh - as if he's holding back tears.
  • As you're walking through the base in London, near where Liara is, you can listen to a Alliance doctor talking to a civilian woman over the radio. She's hiding with an unconscious soldier who is bleeding out, but their field medic was killed in action. The doctor guides her through applying medi-gel, but the soldier dies anyway. Moments after that, she sees Reaper forces approaching. She doesn't want to be discovered and turned into a husk, so she takes the dead soldier's gun and shoots herself, despite the doctor's desperate pleading. All while you listen. You can hear her voice progress from near-panic, fear and finally to resigned calm as she says goodbye to the doctor.
  • After the mission to Tuchanka, Shepard has another nightmare of him/herself chasing after the small boy who died back on Earth. During this though, we get the first time Shepard hears the whispers, whispers of those who had died to get Shepard to where s/he is today, starting with whoever died on Virmire, as you hear their last words before they died. After Shepard wakes up, you can talk about them with Liara. If Ashley died, Liara attempts to cheer you up, but if Kaidan dies, the lines are just...utterly heartbreaking.

Shepard: "Kaidan. He died on Virmire to buy us the time we needed to stop Sovereign. Looking back on this now, I wonder if he'd think his sacrifice was pointless."
Liara: "Kaidan would never think that."
Shepard: "I know. And that makes me miss him more."

  • EDI once asks Shepard about human behavior, brought on by seeing feed of people on Earth imprisoned by the Reaper forces. Reporting another prisoner's escape attempts would extend a prisoner's life, but there were few instances of this, and some prisoners actually fed false information to the Reapers at the costs of their own lives to help people they didn't even know. Shepard is visibly struck by this.
    • In this troper's opinion, the paragon dialogue and EDI rewriting her own programming so that she would die to save Joker was, for me, heartbreaking - definitely a Tear Jerker, just not sure whether it was joy, pride or something else.
  • Shooting and killing Ash or Kaidan at end of the Priority: The Citadel 2 mission. It's actually something that's very easy to avoid, you can avoid it ever coming up simply by coming to visit them in the hospital, when they send you a message saying they want to talk to you. It can only come up if you completely ignore them, when they're trying to mend fences with you about the incident on Horizon. Even without that, you can talk your way out of it, and only have to kill them If you just say "screw it" and try not to explain that you're pointing a gun at a Councilor.
    • Ashley's last exchange with Shepard, given Shepard was a jerk to her on Mars and never visited her at the Hospital... she curses the man/woman she originally considered her friend with her dying breath.

Shepard: "Ashley... Goddammit, Ash... he was with Cerberus!"
Ashley (seething with pain and anger): "So were you... I just hope the Reapers fucking send you to hell."

      • ...Of course, if you didn't really like her, this can be subverted and come off as really satisfying when you shoot her. Shepard appears to be devastated by what he/she just did, though.
  • Coming across Cortez grieving while listening to a recording of the last conversation he had with his husband. He was working construction south of a colony when the Collectors attacked, and Robert sent a message to Steve urging him to save himself. Cortez did, but six months later, he's still devastated by it.
  • If Legion died in the Collector base, a sort of backup of it serves the same role. It remembers nothing of its time with Shepard and has a general attitude of being less willing to trust organics or phrase things in more human ways - it doesn't call anything beautiful, for example. Shepard repeatedly calls it Legion and is told "We are not Legion" every time, which really starts to get to him/her - as s/he says, "Legion was my friend!" - but it never makes any attempt to reach out. Poor Shepard...
  • You can walk in on Garrus talking to his father and sister over the commlink while they are trying to find a way off the planet in the middle of the Reaper invasion, and his sister has a broken leg on top of it all. The sheer desperation of the scene is overwhelming to what essentially amounts to background chatter. Fortunately, you'll later find out that they made it.
  • If you couldn't save the geth, you can go talk to EDI and Joker and step into a conversation where EDI questions your decision, at least partially out of self-protection. What's heartbreaking about this scene is that EDI eventually accepts the necessity. She is a synthetic organism and has just seen an entire race of them get wiped out... and, regardless of the implications on her own fate, she admits that it may not have been the wrong choice. You can hear her grow up years in these moments.
  • If you talk to Joker after Thessia, he does his typical blithe humor thing, and you can call him on it. This is when Tiptree comes up. It's also when Joker admits that he is forcing out jokes to try and make YOU laugh, because he has to make up for getting you killed back on the Normandy SR-1. And the worst part is that no matter which reply you choose, you snap at him... and then don't apologize. To this person who is doing everything he can (little though it may be) to make your life easier. What the hell, Shepard.
  • Oddly enough, the destruction of the Reapers qualifies, at least to some people. After all, they think they're doing the right thing. Moreover, they are all that's left of many species. Destroying them is destroying what they were made from. Third, wiping them out is genocide, plain and simple. This troper wished that there was a "reprogram" option for the Reapers, so that they would survive, and maybe even help.
    • That said, each one of the Reapers is responsible for genocide the scale of which no being alive has ever witnessed. There are no innocent Reapers. And the genetic material from the Reapers could likely be retrieved from the Reapers, most of which died intact. Even then, it's a better fate for all those individuals than perpetuating the same recurring mass murder that ended them. Sometimes, Blue and Orange Morality isn't enough of a justification...
  • In the Forward Operating Base in London, at one point, you walk past some soldiers huddled around a radio, listening to the latest status reports - one of which is that one of their outposts has been completely wiped out, and that the defending forces will likely run out of food supplies in the very-near future. It really gives a sense of dread and foreboding for what is to come next.

Expanded Universe

Castis Vakarian: "I... understand."

      • His father then proceeds to remind him to conserve his ammo, to make every shot count. Their past tension is forgotten and his father is doing what he can to help his doomed son. Of course, this is when Garrus scopes in on an N7 badge, and realizes that he isn't going to die after all.

Garrus: "I have to go now. Don't worry about me... I'll make it home when I can. The odds just got a lot better."

    • Tali'Zorah, on her pilgrimage from the Migrant Fleet, receives a message from her father, Admiral Rael'Zorah. It's more of the same emotionally distant "don't-fail-me" that she's heard for her whole life, and she refuses to sit through the whole recording. She ends up using it as a decoy later on, and while she doesn't see the end of the message, we do: Her father apologizing for being so distant, and telling her that he'll be proud of her no matter what.
    • Kaidan gets his own on Gagarin Station right after he accidentally killed Vyrnus in a fit of rage. You can tell that the young teenager is shocked over his action and tries to reach out to his girlfriend Rahna for some solace. But she flat out refuses to speak to him, as his action scared her much more than Vyrnus ever did. Kaidan then pleads with the Alliance soldiers leading him away, for just one more minute with Rahna, but they scoff at him, even calling him "killer".
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