Tor.com content by

Samantha Edmonds

Getting to the Heart of SFF’s Most-Tear Inducing Moments: The ‘Riders of Rohan’ Phenomenon

When we watch movies, my mother always cries at goodbyes. Me, I cry at arrivals. This is just one of the many things that separate us.

She cries in the moments you might expect someone to cry: the ending of Where the Red Fern Grows; the opening montage of Up; when Mufasa is killed. My dad loves telling the story about catching her red-eyed, watching My Little Pony and weeping. I came home from work and I thought something terrible had happened, she was bawling so hard, he said. I thought someone was dead. But it was just Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash exchanging a tearful farewell.

As a kid, I would roll my eyes at her every time: You’re crying? Again? It’s an early example of the ways we would never understand each other. Cinematic sadness rarely gets me down. You think I cried for Jack in Titanic? I did not.

Now that I’m older, though, when and what brings me to tears is starting to feel more significant. I can’t sit through the moment the Riders of Rohan appear in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers without my eyes watering up. All night at Helm’s Deep, Théoden’s army, alongside Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli, have fought greatheartedly against the Uruk-hai, but they have lost their ground. They ride out one more time as dawn arrives, but the Uruk are just too many. The heroes are overwhelmed. It is abundantly clear they are about to lose.

And then.

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