For example, I was recently watching a show in which a battle squadron was forced to retreat, and their captain told them to leave the dead they had not yet collected behind.
One of his soldiers, traumatized by the loss of one of his closest friends, demanded to know whether the captain even had any human feelings.
A few minutes later, this seemingly cold-hearted captain could be seen gingerly removing the insignia from the uniform of his slain squadmate, a precious keepsake to remember her by.
When the need for haste forced them to jettison the corpses they'd gathered - including his beloved teammate - the captain consoled the man who'd accused him of being heartless by giving him the keepsake, and pretending it came from the soldier's friend.
Somehow, moments like that move me far more than they would if they came from a more openly emotional character.
Maybe it's because the caring gestures are more unexpected, and thus hit harder.
Maybe it's because I'm an INTJ and have been accused of being 'robotic', so practical characters whose actions are controlled by logic first and emotion second are easier for me to identify with.
Or maybe it's because these seemingly ruthless characters don't care very much about what other people think, and aren't trying to please anyone. If they have to offend someone to get the job done, so be it. So when they make a gesture of caring, you know it's because they care, not because they're trying to get approval.
It's probably all of the above.
What about you? How do you feel about moments and characters like that?
I look forward to reading your comments.