Created By: Ronka87 on February 11, 2010

A Single Tear

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So sad, it made an eagle cry. But only once.

launching tomorrow: Last call for examples and suggestions

Sand In My Eyes mentions this, as do most Tear Tropes, but we don't seem to have this trope outright.

For whatever reason, a character is moved. However, this character is made of strong stuff: They are beyond blubbering and won't turn on the Water Works. The Sparkling Stream of Tears was dammed up and those Ocular Gushers were surgically removed. Plus they promised themselves!. He or she is not going to cry.

Well, maybe just one drop.

A Single Tear describes any time someone cries only one teardrop. This is perceived to be extremely manly and dramatic and is one of the few ways a man can openly cry in public, though obviously its not exclusive to men.

Tears can be shed for anything, from patriotism to pollution. On a more serious note, if someone is only crying one tear, they may be too traumatized to shed more. If a being is generally incapable of crying, this is a sign that are genuinely upset.

A reason this became a trope in the first place is that it's quite difficult for most people to cry on command, so filmmakers would use an eyedropper to put liquid in the actor's eyes just before a crying scene. Of course, you can only squeeze so much water out before the next take, leading to this.

Mainly a Discredited Trope; most of the time you see it, it's a parody, although occasional dramatic uses spring up from time to time.


  • The best-known example is probably the Crying Indian; he even has his own trope!
  • This image, popular on the Something Awful forums.
  • In King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, Alexander gains freedom from the Land of the Dead by making the Lord of the Dead cry one single tear.
  • Most season one episodes of Moral Orel have Orel crying a single drop at the Rev. Putty's latest sermon.
  • The animated short Kiwi! has one.
  • The picture from Gargoyles currently on Tears from a Stone.
  • Oren Ishii cries a single tear at her mother's murder in The Origin of Oren Ishii. She probably would have cried more, but then the bed started weeping blood...
  • This trope is actually Older Than Dirt; it pops in Dante's Divine Comedy, specifically in the first few cantos of Purgatorio. There is a soldier mentioned who is a brutal, bloody bastard his whole life, but when he is struck down in battle he cries a single tear of repentance, which is enough to send him to Purgatory instead of Hell.
  • Those Harlequin clowns with the single tear drop drawn onto their face.
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • February 8, 2010
    In He-Man and She-Ra: Secret of the Sword, He-Man sheds a single tear as She-Ra vanishes into the sunset.
  • February 8, 2010
    an interesting note: one reason why this became a trope in the first place is because it's quite difficult for most people to cry on command, and it's common to eyedropper liquid into actors' eyes just before a crying scene. Of course, they can then only squeeze so much of it out before you have to eyedropper them again.
  • February 9, 2010
    A significant plot point in Wild AR Ms 5, occurring in the first hour, whose importance is only revealed all the way at the end of the game.
  • February 9, 2010
    random surfer
    On Star Trek The Next Generation the clue that Sarek had Vulcan Alzheimer's was he was moved to one tear while listening to a (Mahler?) recital.
  • February 9, 2010
    Ophelia at the end of Brutal Legend cried a single tear. It was black, implying there was still some traces of the Sea of Black Tears in her.
  • February 9, 2010
    Dean Winchester of Supernatural. Heck, there's even a drinking game based on each time this happens.
  • February 9, 2010
    One hears, in parodies, of Mary Sues crying a single perfect crystalline tear, but that may be a Dead Unicorn Trope. I don't remember ever seeing a Suefic play it straight, though I wouldn't exactly be surprised.
  • February 9, 2010
    Not quite this trope, but in The Simpsons episode Bart Gets an F, the creators had difficulty stopping the animators from creating Ocular Gushers, so they gave instructions saying something like "Bart cries a single tear." The end result is Bart shedding a series of single tears in succession, which is much more distressing to watch than what they were probably going for.
  • February 9, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Don't we already have Manly Tears ?
  • February 10, 2010
    This is quite obviously not Manly Tears, which is about manly men who can't help but cry. This is about that one single tear. It can be either gender, it can be for any reason.

    I think the confusion arises from that fact I used "he" in the first paragraph. I'll change it so it more gender neutral.
  • February 10, 2010
    Jim Profit cries a single tear when he kills his father in the pilot. Justified because he's a Heroic Sociopath who does not understand these strange human things called emotions.
  • February 10, 2010
    Eragon, numerous times, as many anti-fans have pointed out.
  • February 11, 2010
    Parodied in Hyperdrive when a robot sheds an oil tear in the narmy Show Within A Show Captain Helix.
  • February 11, 2010
    After Gandalf dies in the film version of The Fellowship Of The Ring Frodo does this.
  • February 11, 2010
    The Batman The Brave And The Bold episode where Red Tornado (robot) builds himself a son, who ends up going crazy and is taken out by him and Batman. Looking at his corpse, a single tear oil drop runs down his face, before he goes away muttering about oil leaks needing maintenance.
  • February 11, 2010
    The King of Qin in Hero sheds a single manly tear when he realizes the man who most understands him is his most hated enemy.
  • February 11, 2010
    ...Wow. How did we miss Single Tear?

  • February 11, 2010
    The Onion 's editorial cartoonist Kelly likes to use the image of the Statue of Liberty shedding a single tear.
  • February 11, 2010
    1: I don't think this is particularly associated with "being manly"

    2: Truth In Television. There have been plenty of times when I have cried a single tear. I've seen others do it too. I'm sure I'm not the only one.