When people speak of the most shocking video game deaths or the saddest video game deaths, it’s a sure bet that these five will be near the top of their list. After all, we spend hours upon hours with these characters; learning their nuances, warming up to their personalities, and when the time comes to say goodbye, it’s hard.

There have been numerous shocking and saddening video game deaths over the years, moments that reduced even the toughest of gamers to a whimpering ball of tissues and hot cocoa. It’s a testament to the power of the medium that these animated characters can have such a profound effect on our emotions, and that’s what this list of shocking deaths in video games will celebrate.

So, without further ado, here are our top 5 saddest video game deaths that shocked us to our very cores. Oh, and it goes without saying, but major spoilers lie ahead!

  1. Roland – Borderlands 2

Roland surrounded by purple at scene of death

If there was one Borderlands 2 character that seemed least likely to perish, it was Roland. As a ripped, hulking mass of bullets, cool one-liners and expert combat ability, it appeared that the only thing that could end this guy would be if the planet itself blew up. And even then, he’d probably ride the debris like a surfboard. A space surfboard.

Odd extraterrestrial sports aside, Roland was a true warrior. Playing through Borderlands 2, it’s a great comfort to know that he’s on your side, and it makes plowing through soldiers, aliens and animals all the more easier – and that’s why this is one of our saddest video game deaths in recent memory. The fact that my favorite Borderlands 2 character perished meant that the fight was all but lost, the fight you’d spent hours upon hours working on. It wasn’t just sad to have to lose a friend; it felt like you’d just lost a war.

  1. Ethan Forrester – Telltale’s Game of Thrones: Episode 1 ‘Iron From Ice’

young boy with cut throat on bed

Developer Telltale are well-known for their controversial storytelling, so joining forces with HBO on Game of Thrones seemed like a [bloody] match made in heaven. And, as IGCritic can attest to, it most certainly was. A dark first episode ended on a note that virtually nobody saw coming, with the teenage Ethan Forrester being brutally stabbed in the neck by the villainous Ramsay Snow.

In terms of shocking/saddest video game deaths, it doesn’t get any more so than this. The Game of Thrones episode started out on a dire note, with most of the key Forrester clan presumed dead, and things seemed to be getting better before Telltale ran a cold blade through proceedings. Not only was it shocking because of Ethan’s young age, but it was a disappointment that we didn’t get to spend more time with such a strong, promising Game of Thrones character. Iron from ice!