Justice League (animation)/Tear Jerker

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    • Jason Blood's backstory is even more tragic in the DCAU universe than the DCU universe. First he's tricked (most likely bewitched) by Morgan le Fay into betraying Camelot. Then Morgan stabs him in the back! Then, instead of letting him die for it. Merlin decides to get vindictive and bind him with the dark and brooding Etrigan.
    • The episode "For The Man Who Has Everything." The Black Mercy grants its host their heart's deepest desire at the cost of rendering them completely comatose. In order to break free of the parasite's grasp, the host must sacrifice that desire. Superman gets to live out a perfect fantasy life on Krypton with a wife, son, and his real parents. He's even given memories of all of it. Upon figuring out the illusion, he tearfully explains to his fake son that none of it was real, that he couldn't stay because he had responsibilities, and promised he'd never forget him. Then the planet goes supernova. Supes is so understandably pissed he doesn't even stop to help Batman or Wonder Woman and goes straight for Mongul. Batman, in a rare moment of vulnerability, regresses to the night his parents were killed. This time, his dad overpowers Joe Chill and starts beating the crap out of him while Bruce cheers. You actually see his real world self genuinely smile in happiness. As Wonder Woman rips the Black Mercy off of Batman, little Bruce watches in despair all over again as Chill regains control and fatally shoots Thomas Wayne. Their faces are heartbreaking.
    • Aresia's backstory in "Fury" was bad enough with her family being murdered and the survivors displaced by despotic rulers, but then the ship they're fleeing on is destroyed with only the Captain and Aresia left to try and swim to shore. He swims without rest for an unknown amount of time until he's able to safely deliver her to the shores of Themyscira where he dies from hunger, thirst, and exhaustion. He is the only man to ever be buried on the island and at the time it was thought that despite his noble act "he didn't matter."
    • "Legends". The Justice Guild sacrificing themselves to do the right thing, even if it means ending their existence.

    The Streak: We died once to save this Earth. And we can do it again.

      • Followed by: "In Seaboard City, crime doesn't pay." It's not the line itself, but the note of resignation in Tom Turbine's voice. He knows he is sentencing himself to die, but he does it anyway, because that is what they do. They fight the bad guys.
      • And then there's the ending of the episode, where John Stewart (Green Lantern) is actually mourning their deaths and Hawkgirl comforts him. Doubles as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.

    John: It's stupid really... I mean, they weren't even real.
    Hawkgirl: They gave their lives for us, that's real enough for me.

        • Fittingly, the episode is dedicated to Gardner Fox, the late writer who created the Justice Society, of which the Justice Guild is based on.
    • Both times Solomon Grundy dies, because clearly the first death just wasn't enough.

    Hawkgirl: "Close your eyes..."

      • Even more wrenching the first time. And keep in mind that Hawkgirl's culture is vehemently atheist.

    Grundy: Do you think... Grundy's soul is waiting for him?
    Hawkgirl: Grundy, I don't bel- (stops herself) Yes. Yes, it is waiting for you.
    Grundy: (whispers) Then Grundy gets his reward.

    • Justice League Unlimited had a massively sad scene in "Epilogue" when Ace, realizing she's terminally ill and has hours to live, asks Batman to stay with her until the end. Because she's scared. He agrees. And then he carries her lifeless body in his arms. This scene gets an added layer of sadness when you take into account Batman's own troubled childhood, and how he always seems to reach out to children who are suffering from similar tragedies. See also: Robin.
      • And then when you realize, fifty years later, he named his dog after her. D'AWWW.
        • Actually, Ace the Bat-Hound has been around in the comics since the 50s, but within the context of the DCAU, this works.
        • Ace is ripping your heartstrings out even sooner than that. In her introductory episode, the Flash Back images of her in the laboratories, her psychologically broken parents, the mental-restraint helmet holding back her powers, and the rare occasion where she cries are enough to make you choke.
    • Also from "Epilogue" the scene with Bruce and Terry left this troper sombre for a while. While Terry argues with him Bruce's heart condition acts up and the man who was Batman is seen struggling to so much as open a bottle of his medication all throughout the rest of the scene. This man saved Gotham countless times thanks to training his mind and body to their physical peak and this scene is most likely exactly how he will die. Not in some blaze of glory fighting to save those around him. He will die when he someday finds that his body no longer has the strength to open that bottle at all. And the Batman will die alone, killed by time and aging.
      • Not to mention that it's implied that he's like this now because he burnt himself out fighting, training, and getting the living hell pound out of him in his youth. He's literally sacrificed everything including his health.
    • In the episode "Starcrossed, Part 3", GL and Shayera Hol's big farewell after the failed Thanagar invasion of Earth, Hawkgirl is disgraced from both her native and adopted home world. The beautiful music and voice-acting did not help matters.

    John: You never asked how we voted.
    Shayera: It doesn't matter.
    John: So, where are you you gonna go?
    Shayera: I don't know. Someplace where the fate of the world isn't in my hands. Someplace where there are no more secrets... No more lies...
    John: Was It All a Lie??
    Shayera: I love you, John. I never lied about that. [flies off]
    John: [tearing up] ...I love you, too.

      • It's the hug that gets me.
      • Also, the scene where Batman pilots the Watchtower into earth - with him on board, and his farewell to Flash and J'onn.

    Batman: Gentlemen, it's been an honor.

    • The Speedforce scene in "Divided We Fall". It's more the fact that he sounds so freaking serious about it all - and this is Wally West we're talking about.

    "Shayera? It's so beautiful here. There's a force. A Speedforce. It's calling me home."

      • I'm okay until all six of them reach into it and drag him back, and he warns them what will happen if he ever dares go that fast again. God damnit, we're talking about the Flash!
      • Similarly, when he realizes he can't slow down and stumbles toward his friends, with a dazed "I feel kind of... funny." It's anything but.
        • There was a bit of a Fridge Horror moment for this troper upon realised on a second rewatch years later that in that scene, when Shayera told Flash to take her hand, he didn't. She dragged him out by his wrist.
    • The entire first half of "Hereafter, Part 1" after Superman "dies". The aftermath of the battle, the mourning, and especially J'onn's eulogy are all very tastefully done. Then Lobo shows up, and the episode quickly skips into a series of what, depending on your point of view, might be either Crowning Moments of Awesome... or not.
      • Special mention has to go to Lois, who ends up breaking down in the the arms of Lex Luthor, of all people. Speaking of which, it's the one moment where you can tell Lex is genuinely sad.

    Luthor: Believe it or not, I'm going to miss him too.

      • The Flash hugging the little girl he was in the midst of saving when Toyman "kills" Superman, as everyone starts to realise what had just happened.
      • Batman has adamantly refused to believe that Superman has died, even avoiding going to the funeral. He shows up at Superman's memorial on his investigation to find out what happened to the Man of Steel, but is stymied by another dead end. It's then that Batman admits how much he respected and admired Superman, and how he showed him that "justice doesn't have to come from the darkness." It's a wonderful piece of acting from Kevin Conroy, who's voice subtly breaks during his confession, showing that the Dark Knight is truly affected by the loss of one of his teammates.
      • Speaking of Hereafter, there's also its ending: The alternate, eccentric but now good-natured Vandal Savage fading out of existence as the dystopian wasteland is replaced with a more optimistic future... and before disappearing, he simply says, "Thank you, my friend."
      • Worth mentioning in regards to Hereafter, when Supes seemingly dies, Wonder Woman almost kills Toyman for what he had done. This scene alone gets to this troper.

    (Diana raises a fist, clearly intending to put it through Toyman)
    Flash: (gently restraining her hand) "We don't do that to our enemies."
    Diana: "Speak for yourself."

    Flash: "I was trying to speak for Superman."

    • The episode "A Better World" has Batman and his alternate universe duplicate arguing ethics and morality in the Batcave. Batman actually agrees with and surrenders to his Justice Lord counterpart when the latter declares, "With that power, we've made a world where no eight year old boy will ever lose his parents because of some punk with a gun" (Conroy's emphasis just hammers it all the more in). It's easy to forget, but beneath all the training, the fighting, the costume, and the gadgets, Batman is still a scared little boy crying in that alley.
      • Similarly, there was an episode in which a magic spell turns the League into children. At the end, after they're restored, Wonder Woman and Batman have this exchange:

    Wonder Woman: Still, it was nice to be a kid again.
    Batman: (in a bitter, completely un-nostalgic tone) I haven't been a kid since I was eight years old.

    • In "Flashpoint", after they've rescued The Question from being tortured, he and Huntress share a moment.

    Question: You were right, I am the ugliest guy of all time.
    Huntress: Not in my eyes.

      • Speaking of them torturing Question, the torturer explicitly states that if Question gives them what they want, the visions will stop. In other words, they don't just torture him physically with the electric shocks; they're also thrusting visions of the Bad Future he was so afraid of into his head.
      • And in the same episode, after having to beat Captain Atom to unconsciousness, Superman refuses the help of the Cadmus lackies, and then gently picks him up.

    Superman: Don't you touch him! He's Justice League.

    • "The Enemy Below" becomes a Tear Jerker when Aquaman is given the Sadistic Choice of either only saving himself from an underwater volcano he's chained to, or pulling an Heroic Sacrifice for his infant son who is also trapped there (and being a baby, the poor child is crying desperately as both him and Daddy are in the Death Trap - no, not the baby, NOT. THE. BABY...) by his own brother Lord Orm. Made even more poignant when we see what he chooses in the end: cutting off his own hand to get free, so he can save both of them, which is followed by the scene in which Aquaman returns home, carrying his baby in his good arm and Mera runs joyfully towards both of them but then she gasps in shock when she realizes what went on...
    • Anybody else feel tears well up for Captain Marvel during "Clash"? He spends almost the entire episode gushing about how much he loves being in the League, especially since it gives him a chance to hang around with his idol Superman (Who acts abnormally hostile and jealous toward the kid). His life as Billy Batson is shown to be complete crap, but he doesn't seem to mind now that's he's on the League. What happens? Superman, his idol, the man he aspires to be like, ends up attacking and betraying him all because of petty jealousy. If you don't feel your heart break after his speech at the end of the episode, you have no soul.

    Cap: "My whole life, I've looked up to the League. You were my heroes, every one of you. And you [Superman], you were more then a hero... I idolised you, I wanted to be you. Whenever I was out there fighting bad guys I'd think "What would Superman do?" Now I know. I believe in fair play - I believe in taking people at their word and giving them the benefit of the doubt. Back home, I faced some nasty bad guys but I never had to act the way they did to win a fight, I always found another way. I... I guess I'm saying I like being a hero, a symbol. And that's why... I'm quitting the Justice League. You don't act like heroes anymore...

      • To be fair, it wasn't jealousy, it was Superman being insanely paranoid of what looked like a bomb Luthor planted. Its really more power to Lex being a Magnificent Bastard. But even so, Superman is not supposed to act like a total tool in public, and definitely not throw punches at other heroes completely unprovoked, Captain Marvel was the sensible one, requesting to call someone in to see what the device was.
        • And this was part of Lex's plan all along, to discredit the Justice League, which Batman figured out. And Captain Marvel's speech made them realize what they're becoming, like the Justice Lords.
    • Terry's death in "The Once and Future Thing" - As the four Dee-Dees electrocute him, the scene cuts from Terry screaming in agony, to Bruce sat at his computer screaming Terry's name in horror, and then repeating it, absolutely dejected at his succesor's death. Becomes worse after "Epilogue," with The Reveal that Terry is actually Bruce's son.