I Cried When…
by Kevin Rigdon (@pralix1138)
Note: If somehow, you have not seen or played these… Firefly, Mass Effect, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter or Star Wars SPOILERS AHEAD.
I’m all for comedies and whatnot where nothing bad happens. I love happy stories with happy people. “Happily Ever After” is my middle name. Okay, it’s really not, but I’m thinking of having it legally changed. Point is: I’m not a big fan of death, sadness, and loss. But an integral part of our stories lies in dealing with these less than pleasant themes. One of the things that our stories do for us, is to help us “experience” death and loss without necessarily experiencing the real thing. So, here is a list of my most teary eyed moments from some of my favorite stories.
5. Wash (Firefly) dies. Ever since, “Curse your sudden, but inevitable, betrayal,” Hoban Washburne was my favorite character on the Serenity. Certainly the best pilot of all time. This one was gets me because of the out-of-nowhereness of it. There he was, in the cockpit with Mal and Zoe, and everybody’s thinking “that was close.” Then WHAP! Big honkin harpoon smashes through the window and impales him. That wasn’t supposed to happen, Joss Whedon! It’s effective in showing the randomness of death and how dangerous the ‘verse can be, but still.
4. Mordin’s Sacrifice (Mass Effect 3). It’s one thing to get weepy over your favorite character in a book, or devastating goodbyes and so forth, but Bioware produced big, man-sized, tears in the final installment of the Mass Effect series. Mordin Solus, a cross between the absent-minded professor, a sleep-deprived Sheldon Cooper, and Walter Bishop (weird amalgamation of personalities there, I know) was on the team that modified the Krogan genophage (a genetic mutation that limited Krogan birthrate), but through the games my paragon Shepard got Mordin to rethink his work on the project. He develops and releases the cure for the genophage, and sacrifices his life in the process all because “Had to be me. Someone else might’ve gotten it wrong.” I didn’t realize how much I’d grown fond of that crazy, show-tune singing Salarian.
3. The Elves leave Middle-Earth (Lord of the Rings). Technically not a death-well except for those Elves who died in defense of Helm’s Deep, or in the War of the Ring-this event is one of the saddest moments in my life as a reader. As the elves are leaving, I always imagine that the world grows darker and more grim. The elves are the embodiment of magic, music, poetry, beauty, and the transcendent. To be in the presence of the elves is to be in timelessness itself. As a kid reading The Lord of the Rings, I was crushed when the elves left. I couldn’t imagine Middle-Earth without them, without that magic and beauty. It was if Middle-Earth itself had died, or at least lost its soul.
2. Dumbledore dies (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince…Book). My wife and I had ordered two copies of the Half-Blood Prince so we could read it at the same time, and there, towards the end, Snape kills Dumbledore. Dumbledore? Really? I spent the next year, YEAR, in denial, telling myself and anyone else who would listen that Dumbledore was faking. He and Snape carried out a ruse, and he wasn’t dead. He couldn’t be dead. Dumbledore was going underground. How can there be a Hogwarts without Dumbledore? How? Any time that I go back to read the Harry Potter books now, it’s always bittersweet. Great stories, great characters, but I know that death is coming for one of my favorite characters of all time.
1. Obi-wan Kenobi dies (Star Wars). I saw Star Wars in 1977, when I was six years old. Back then there was no subtitle. There was no “A New Hope.” There was just Star Wars. So, not having the benefit of hindsight, and being six years old, Obi-wan’s death hit me particularly hard. Up to that time, nobody I knew had ever died, and so Obi-wan was the first character, the first person, that I saw “die.” I got in trouble at school the next day for talking to myself about it. I went around for days saying, “Run, Luke. Run!” then “No!” like Luke did. I wanted to shoot Vader in the face, or hack him up with a lightsaber. I don’t think I would’ve made a good Jedi at that point.
So, there’s my top five weepy moments. Share some of yours in the comments.