Video games have come a long way as an art form since Pong and Pacman. Modern games feature gripping, emotional stories and star characters fans love, relate to and root for. Good storytellers, developers included, know they can create an impactful and emotional story beat by cruelly killing off the characters we love in emotional tear-jerkers.
We’ve compiled a list of ten iconic video game deaths that left us searching for the tissues. It goes without saying, but spoilers are below.
10 saddest deaths in gaming
Final Fantasy XIV
Cause of death: A spear of light
A noble sacrifice is a surefire way to get the waterworks going. Final Fantasy XIV fans understand this sentiment more than anyone else with the death of fan-favourite Knight Haurchefant Greystone. Some even consider Haurchefant’s death the saddest of any Final Fantasy death. Loyal to the very end, Greystone’s last line is a touching reminder of his endless optimism: “Oh, do not look at me so. A smile better suits a hero…”
Cause of death: turned into a Sin Eater
In one of the more gruesome Final Fantasy XIV deaths, players watch as Tesleen is stabbed through the chest while trying to protect a child. What players weren’t expecting was that they would have to watch Tesleen be turned into a terrifying Sin Eater.
In another cruel twist, players must later battle and defeat her.
Final Fantasy VII
Cause of death: Killed by Sephiroth
Easily one of the most iconic and memorable scenes in video game history, it’s impossible to talk about added deaths in gaming without talking about Aerith’s death at the hands of villain Sephiroth. While now, everybody knows about Aerith’s fate when Final Fantasy VII was released, it was a huge shock and with the internet in its infancy, the news spread the old-fashioned way; schoolyard chatter.
Taking place halfway through the game, this was certainly an unexpected twist for players and an immediate tear-jerker. Will the same fate await Aerith in the upcoming Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 2?
Mass Effect 2
Cause of death: Various
Mass Effect 2’s suicide mission was a test of your preparation throughout the game. Did you complete each and every one of your crew’s loyalty missions? Did you choose the correct crew member for the jobs required when breaking into the prison ship?
If you did, you probably didn’t lose a single member. If you didn’t, you probably ended up with quite a lot of blood on your hands. Worst of all, losing a character during the suicide mission took them out for the remainder of the series…Mass Effect 3 just wouldn’t be the same without them.
The Last of Us: Part 1
Cause of death: Gunshot wound
Setting Joel on the path he’d walk for many years, the death of his daughter Sarah during the beginning of the cordyceps outbreak was truly heartbreaking. Opening the game with this was a bold move by Naughty Dog and one that served to deepen and strengthen the eventual bond Joel had with Ellie.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Cause of death: Tuberculosis
For first-time players, Arthur’s hefty coughs at the start of the game are largely inconspicuous. But as we find out throughout the course of the game, Arthur’s tuberculosis has put his life in the hands of time. Having experienced our beloved protagonist’s growth and redemption along this western-themed journey, his death, while expected, still tugs at the heartstrings.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead
Cause of death: Zombified
Telltale’s The Walking Dead gave us hope in the father/daughter-type relationship between Lee and Clementine. Seeing them overcome challenging odds to survive in the zombie apocalypse brought us closer to their characters. When Lee becomes infected, the responsibility falls on Clementine to end his suffering, resulting in a tear-jerking farewell.
Ghost of Tsushima
Cause of death: Exhaustion
A trusty steed can be more than a means of getting around a massive open-world map. In Ghost of Tsushima, players get to choose a type of horse and select their name, two important, unchangeable options as the game states that ‘the horse will be with you for your entire journey’.
The horse’s death at the start of the final act serves as a great loss for Jin. The emotional music in this difficult scene has made many gamers shed a tear for their faithful companion.
Cause of death: Contaminated by Devil’s Breath
Losing a maternal figure in a game is always a devastating blow. For Peter Parker, Aunt May is his constant parental figure. Her death in Marvel’s Spider-man and Peter’s loss were an absolute punch to the gut for players, perhaps more so than her death in No Way Home.
Cause of death: Samsara
All great journeys naturally end, and few are as sad and deserved as the death and rebirth of the ‘robed figure’ in Journey. The herculean effort of trekking atop the mountain is a beautiful, yet challenging adventure. Once you reach the pinnacle, all that’s left is to wander into the light, leaving our robed friend to die and become reborn.
There you have it. Our list of the 10 saddest deaths in gaming. Do you agree or disagree? Do you have your own saddest death in gaming that you think should have been included? Let us know in the comments section below.