Created By: Lyendith on August 13, 2013 Last Edited By: Lyendith on August 26, 2013
Troped

Cry Laughing

It starts as a laugh, and ends as sobs

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
It is said that laughing and crying are very close actions, despite usually expressing opposite emotions. So close that in fiction, a character faced with a dreadful situation may start laughing out loud, before that laugh progressively melts into sobs. When this happens, the initial laughter is usually just there to mask the distress and isn't genuine. It's sort of a way to say "I would like to laugh at that, but I just can't".

It can also be done as a form of Mood Whiplash, where the character is in a middle of a laugh and learns bad news, immediately making them switch to tears.

This trope is surprisingly prevalent in Real Life with some often resorting to laughing when faced with any depressing or traumatic moments, before starting to express their true grief in tears.

A subtrope of Mirthless Laughter. Also compare Hahaha No and Laughing Mad. Related to Made Myself Sad.

Examples:

Film
  • At the end of In the Mouth of Madness, when John Trent finally watches the movie adaptation of Cane's book In the Mouth of Madness and realizes that it was just a novelisation of everything he did in the last few days an that he may just be a fictional character, he breaks down laughing for a minute before crying.
  • Brilliantly done by Gary Oldman in The Fifth Element when he opens the chest that he thought contained the alien elemental stones and it's empty.

Video Game

Visual Novel
  • In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Tsumihoroboshi-hen, Rena spends a long monologue insisting that she had no other choice than killing Teppei and Rina who were swindling her father, and that telling her friends would have been useless. Then she mocks them and starts laughing out loudů before bursting into tears, as she understands fully well that this may not have been the right choice.

Web Video
  • In the episode of Joueur du Grenier about simulators, Seb ends up testing Toilet Tycoon (which is, yes, a management game about building toilets).
    Seb: See? When you click on the menus, it makes a fart noise! Funny isn't it? Ha ha ha ha ha... uuuuh...

Western Animation
  • In the Bugs Bunny short "Knighty Knight Bugs", Bugs does this after the king tells him to retrieve the singing sword from Sam or else he'll have to cut off his head.
  • Zig Zagged in the Public Domain Looney Tunes short Porky's Bear Facts. When the bear loses the only food in the house to a mouse, he starts crying, which turns into maniacal laughter, before going back to crying.
  • Done by Tom at the end of the Tom and Jerry short "Is There a Doctor in the Mouse?" when he faces a giant Jerry.
  • In the Merrie Melodies short "Rocket Bye Baby", a lecturer laughs about people believing in Little Green Men, but when one flies by on a Flying Saucer, his laughs turn to tears.
  • Meg from Family Guy has done this at least once or twice.
  • Happens to the second Robin, Tim Drake, in a flashback in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. The Joker applied ample amounts of Cold-Blooded Torture to Tim, leaving him Brainwashed and Crazy. When ordered to kill Batman, after The Joker has him in a position he wouldn't be able to protect himself, Tim breaks through the brainwashing and murders The Joker instead, laughing like a maniac the whole time. Once The Joker succumbs to his injuries, Tim's laughing abruptly turns into uncontrollable sobbing, as the weight of everything that transpired suddenly sets in. The flashback ends with Barbara/Batgirl trying to console him.
  • In The Simpsons, Krusty switches between laughing and crying after he reveals he's bipolar.
  • In the second episode of Futurama, Bender taunts a park mascot who says that he still has his self respect, tries to laugh it off and falls into this trope.
    Mascot: Hello, sir! I'm Craterface! I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to confiscate that alcohol!
    Bender: Better mascots have tried. [drinks beer and shoves bottle into mascot's eye]
    Mascot: At least I still have my self respect! Hahahah...[breaks into sobbing]
Community Feedback Replies: 33
  • August 13, 2013
    CaveCat
    • In the Bugs Bunny short "Knighty Knight Bugs", Bugs does this after the king tells him to retrieve the singing sword from Sam or else he'll have to cut off his head.
  • August 14, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Needs a better laconic. The purpose of the laconic is to give the reader a short and simple explanation of what the trope is about. It's not a place for puns or jokes.
  • August 14, 2013
    DAN004
    I kinda remembered a gag for when a guy meets his hunter, said guy laughs and then cries, probably because he thinks he's hallucinating only to remember that he isn't. It was in a western cartoon, but I forgot.

    Just sayin'.

    BTW the laconic is damned funny. XD
  • August 15, 2013
    Lyendith
    ^^ This laconic sums up what the trope is about, though. But well, I suppose I'll make it more straightforward...

    ^ Unfortunately, I can't list it if I don't have the name of the show. :/
  • August 15, 2013
    TonyG
  • August 15, 2013
    azul120
    • Meg from Family Guy has done this at least once or twice.
  • August 16, 2013
    Nithael
    Film - Live-Action
    • At the end of In The Mouth Of Madness, when John Trent finally watches the movie adaptation of Crane's book In the Mouth of Madness and realizes that it was just a novelisation of everything he did in the last few days an that he may just be a fictional character, he breaks down laughing for a minute before crying.
  • August 16, 2013
    NESBoy
  • August 16, 2013
    Alucard
    This in Devil May Cry 3 at the start of mission 20, after Lady finishes off her father Arkham. After unloading a whole clip from her gun in him, she drops to her side, laughing into the air before being overcome with tears mid-laughter.
  • August 17, 2013
    ShadowHog
    Happens to the second Robin, Tim Drake, in a flashback in Batman Beyond Return Of The Joker. The Joker has warped Tim's mind to be devoted to him, driving the Boy Wonder Laughing Mad. When ordered to kill Batman, after The Joker has him in a position he wouldn't be able to protect himself, Tim murders The Joker instead, laughing like a maniac the whole time. Once The Joker has passed on, Tim's laughing abruptly turns into uncontrollable sobbing, as the weight of what he did and was done to him suddenly sets in. The flashback ends with Barbara/Batgirl trying to console him.
  • August 19, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ You need to do some heavy un-spoilering to that one to make it a valid example. An example that's completely whited out with spoiler tags violates our Handling Spoilers policy.
  • August 20, 2013
    ShadowHog
    I figured it'd run afoul of something, but I'm not sure what can be considered safe to spoil and what can't.
  • August 20, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Well that's exactly what the Handling Spoilers page is for. I personally don't know the show we're talking about here so I can't do anything about it. Someone who's familiar with the example has to decide what's worth tagging and what's not.
  • August 20, 2013
    Bisected8
    • In the second episode of Futurama, Bender taunts a park mascot who says that he still has his self respect, tries to laugh it off and falls into this trope.
      Mascot: Hello, sir! I'm Craterface! I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to confiscate that alcohol!
      Bender: Better mascots have tried. [drinks beer and shoves bottle into mascot's eye]
      Mascot: At least I still have my self respect! Hahahah...[breaks into sobbing]
  • August 20, 2013
    Generality
    Related, possibly, to Made Myself Sad.
  • August 21, 2013
    Melkior
    Webcomics
    • Happens to Antimony in Chapter 6 "A Handful Of Dirt" of Gunnerkrigg Court. She and her friend Kat sneak into a habitat area and eat cherries from a tree, staining their faces and hands with the red cherry juice. When the groundskeeper catches them, the girls are laughing over being "caught red-handed" when Antimony's laughter dissolves into tears (her mother died fairly recently). The groundskeeper wisely and unexpectedly withdraws, allowing the two girls to talk privately.
  • August 21, 2013
    spacemarine50
    In The Simpsons, Krusty switches between laughing and crying after he reveals he's bipolar.
  • August 21, 2013
    Himbeergeist
  • August 21, 2013
    AP
    Seems there might be some Truth In Television in this?
  • August 21, 2013
    dokatron
    Do we have the opposite trope? Someone (faking) crying and it turning to laughter as the facade drops?
  • August 22, 2013
    ALittleBitOfTheEarth
    Could we call this trope "Craughing" as many of this troper's friends have called it ? There is a chance that it may sound new or odd, but since it's a portmanteau of crying and laughing, and there's always the laconic, could it be a feasible option for a name?
  • August 22, 2013
    Arivne
    ^ Very few people would realize what Craughing meant, so it wouldn't be Clear.

    Seconding Cry Laughing, which is Clear, Concise and Witty, our gold standard for trope naming.
  • August 22, 2013
    ShadowHog
    Alright, let's try this again.

    Happens to the second Robin, Tim Drake, in a flashback in Batman Beyond Return Of The Joker. The Joker applied ample amounts of Cold Blooded Torture to Tim, leaving him Brainwashed And Crazy. When ordered to kill Batman, after The Joker has him in a position he wouldn't be able to protect himself, Tim breaks through the brainwashing and murders The Joker instead, laughing like a maniac the whole time. Once The Joker succumbs to his injuries, Tim's laughing abruptly turns into uncontrollable sobbing, as the weight of everything that transpired suddenly sets in. The flashback ends with Barbara/Batgirl trying to console him.
  • August 22, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Looks much better now.

    EDIT: Also (@Arivne), did I miss something or what's the thing that's supposed to make the current title witty? I'm not saying that it should be changed but apparently my English isn't as good as I thought it was since I can't see a joke there.
  • August 22, 2013
    Lyendith
    ^ I don't know if "cry laughing" is an expression like "pleurer de rire" in French ("laughing so hard it makes you cry") but... if it is, that's where the pun is supposed to be, kind of. English is not my mothertongue, so...

    vv Err, yeah, that too!
  • August 22, 2013
    ChaoticQueen
  • August 23, 2013
    Arivne
    ^^^ Cry Laughing is a reference to the phrase "die laughing" (we have it as the trope Die Laughing).
  • August 24, 2013
    ChaoticQueen
  • August 24, 2013
    grapesandmilk
    What about a trope for the opposite?
  • August 25, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ You mean the case where it starts as a cry and ends in laughter? I wonder if it should be handled as a variation or inversion of this, or if it should be a trope of its own.

    They both have a similar narrative function where the character's initial reaction is revealed to be false, but the first one uses it to emphasize the character's desperation whereas the second one is used to show that things are not as bad as they seem.
  • August 25, 2013
    Lyendith
    ^^^ I have the impression this message is way overused... I created this YKTTW not 2 weeks ago and it will have 5 hats soon enough. Launching it is not exactly urgent.

    About the opposite trope, it can be its own trope I guess, but I don't know of any examples...
  • August 26, 2013
    Lyendith
    Okay, I'll launch this this week. If anyone has any suggestions to flesh out the description, feel free.
  • August 26, 2013
    arbiter099
    The In The Mouth Of Madness example has a typo, it's Sutter Cane, not Crane.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=wtgfo41y8m8bwk2sa04n7xbm&trope=CryLaughing