A character (sometimes a Stepford Smiler
) may be Not Himself
and has a breakdown
to show this. This may be expressed by laughing
, a Broken Smile
, being hunched over, having a twitchy eye, messy hair and the like. In this case a good way to show that a character is experiencing a mental/nervous/emotional breakdown (sometimes with some Sanity Slippage
attached) is to have them feel tears come to their eyes or outright running down their face, often the climax of a severe Break the Cutie
Different from Berserker Tears
in the sense that the character isn't crying out of rage. See also Villainous Breakdown
for the villain that does this. Often results in a Tear Jerker
. Compare/Contrast Manly Tears
, Berserker Tears
, Tears of Fear
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Vincent Law of Ergo Proxy cries quite a bit over the course of the series. After Proxy One forces Vincent to face the reality that he is a Proxy, Vincent can be seen lying on his back, weeping while looking up at the sky.
- Yo Hinomura aka The Freeman in the Crying Freeman Anime, Manga and the Live-Action Film cries whilst carrying out the murders he's forced to perform by the post-hypnotic suggestions of the 108 Dragons Triad.
- Nina Einstein does this in Code Geass during her Freak Out moment after learning of Euphemia's death.
- Suzaku also does this during Euphemia's death and after he kills Lelouch.
- In Perfect Blue Mima has a breakdown in her apartment when she returns after filming a rape scene and cries. Rumi also cries as she's watching Mima filming the rape scene, and her tears symbolize her complete descent into the Ax-Crazy.
- Russia from Axis Powers Hetalia does this when he snaps in the Bloody Sunday strip, after a heartbreaking soliloquy and before opening fire on thousands of innocent civilians.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion:
- Shinji in The End of Evangelion at the end after Asuka caresses his face and he breaks down crying.
- Asuka had these during her Mind Rape as well as in episode 23 after Hikari comforts her by telling her that she shouldn't hate herself, and that she thinks she's done well.
- Misato after Kaji's death and receiving his last message.
- Kaede of SHUFFLE! does this as she's having her breakdown.
- Light of Death Note in the final episode after Matsuda shoots him. He has a breakdown and cries while musing that he has no other choice left but to die.
- Mikami also has a breakdown upon seeing Light in such a broken pathetic state, has tears at the corners of his eyes, and ultimately commits suicide by stabbing himself with a pen.
- Kouta of Elfen Lied does this after he has a Freak Out after watching Lucy kill his father and sister.
- Ganta of Deadman Wonderland breaks down crying simultaneous Broken Tears and Tears of Fear in the anime when Tamaki shows Ganta the ropes of Carnival Corpse by strapping him down to a chair, holding his eyes open A Clockwork Orange-style and making him watch footage of previous battles.
- Occurs several times in Fullmetal Alchemist.
- There's Winry when she confronted her parents' murderer.
- Edward after Al sacrifices his soul to restore Ed's arm and his father asks him to use his life to restore Al's soul.
- In the 2003 anime adaptation, when Edward broke down into tears after he learned that Nina died.
- CLANNAD: There is a scene where there was a bus crash and Kotomi has a break down, complete with her in a fetal position, crying and muttering "I will be a good girl."
- Kana in episode 8 after being driven to madness as a result of Akito's Mind Rape in Fruits Basket.
- Hatori also does this in episode 8 after he erases Kana's memories.
- Tohru in episode 25 and 26 as she's being put through a Break the Cutie process.
- In the manga, Rin evidences conflicted emotions regarding Tohru. She rejects and harbors resentment towards what she sees as Tohru's interference in the family; Tohru is an outsider and she cannot understand. However, internal dialogue reveals that as early as their first meeting Rin is also possessed by the same desire that many of the Jyuunishi develop; to fall into Tohru's arms and be comforted. Her view of Tohru as a maternal figure manifests to the extent that on the verge of fainting she mistakes Tohru for her mother and responds with utter terror, cowering and pleading for forgiveness before she loses consciousness. Eventually Rin's physical distress, despair and torment culminate in her breaking down sobbing in Tohru's embrace.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena has this happen a few times. Most notable is during Anthy's suicide attempt in episode 37, during Wakaba's duel and in episode 9 during Utena's childhood flashback.
- Also occurs often in Rosario + Vampire.
- In Sailor Moon Usagi does this in a phone booth after Mamoru breaks up with her. And she does it again in Stars, when Chibi-Usa is erased out of existence in her arms, and later when not only the Senshi die, but she finds out Mamoru is dead.
- In chapter 74 of Soul Eater the Envy Chapter of the Book of Eibon delivers a harsh "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Maka. It's enough to reduce her to tears.
- Naruto: Sakura breaks down into tears a few times in regards to Sasuke. Naruto also does this a few times as well like when an Itachi look-alike nearly breaks him with Mind Rape or after he finds out about Jiraiya's death. Considering how often Break the Cutie tactics are used...
- In episode 10 of School Days Nanami becomes extremely upset after the School Festival, when a sex tape of her and her boyfriend is shown to many classmates as a cruel joke from Otome's Girl Posse. She lets out a Big "NO!" before collapsing to the ground in tears.
- Orihime of Bleach does this at times most notably as a result of Ichigo, who she is in love with. If not as a result of Ichigo, it happens when her friends are hurt or she's under too much stress, specially in the Hueco Mundo and Lust arcs.
- Also, Rukia is revealed to have gone through this when she had to kill Kaien. In the third movie, she also cries when Homura and Shizuku die.
- Even Ichigo falls into this once, at the height of his Break the Cutie process in the X-Cution arc.
- Momo does this during her Break the Cutie ordeals, and Rangiku when Gin dies.
- anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day: Many a character does this in this anime, leading to a lot of sad moments.
- Mirage of Blaze: Naoe's breakdown in the OVA.
- Yuno of Future Diary being so Ax-Crazy frequently has tearful breakdowns of this nature, usually when Yuki is involved.
- Tsubaki also does this during the brief flashback where she was going to be gang-raped.
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: The only time Yami ever cries is when Yugi gets his soul stolen and Yugi often makes speeches about how said he will be when Yami has to leave him which often ends in tears.
- Luffy does this in One Piece during his breakdown after Ace's death.
- And Nami, when she completely loses hope in the Arlong arc and begs Luffy for help.
- Similarly, when the Gorgon Sisters's horrifying past is revealed, one of them (Sandersonia) breaks down screaming and crying. Hancock herself sheds tears as well.
- No6: Throughout episode 10, Shion begins to shed his Pollyanna status and become more hard-hearted, no longer crumbling at the deaths around him. Nezumi displays a veritable laundry list of heartbreaking expressions as he realizes this...ending in a full fledged breakdown when Shion coldly shoots a guard.
- There's also that one scene where Shion has a breakdown after surviving the birth of wasp and saying "I want to live..."
- Berserk: During the horrific finale of the Eclipse, Griffith as Femto rapes Casca (Guts' lover) in full view of Guts who's held down and forced to watch it happen. Guts understandably has tears come to his eyes and fall down his face as he's forced to watch the closest thing he's had to a friend utterly betray him and it's the last sight his right eye sees.
- Casca cries too throughout her entire horrible ordeal, not only being raped, but being put through supreme agony because of her Brand being in very close proximity to a newly-minted member of the Godhand, one of the five most powerful and evil demons in the entire Berserk universe.
- Aoshika of Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest does this as she's having a breakdown as Haguro and his goons rape her and afterwards as well.
- Gon does this after finding out that Kite is dead and can't be brought back to life in Hunter × Hunter and Killua does this in regards to Gon and has a complete breakdown in the middle of a life-threatening fight.
- Leo of Pandora Hearts does this frequently following Elliot's death.
- Jeremy, for like, half the story in A Cruel God Reigns.
- Higurashi: When They Cry: Rena breaks down in tears after winning an "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight against Keiichi, realizing that she doesn't want to kill him. Luckily, this permanently snaps her out of her rage-induced madness.
Rena: The match is over now, right?
Keiichi: No, it's not. Until you swing [that cleaver] down, it's not over.
Rena: No... [Beat] No- I don't want to!
- In Attack on Titan, the Female Titan, aka Annie, sits in the forest defeated and crying after she failed her mission to capture Eren. Shortly after, Eren himself ends up outright sobbing when he comes back from his first mission in the survey corps. With what happened, it's not hard to blame him.
- One 6 meter aberrant Titan with blond hair and blue eyes notable breaks down crying when Ilyse Yagner yells at him after he displays the ability to talk. Breaches Tear Jerker once you realize that he could likely still have some conscious left as he did not have Sanity Slippage and this trope in affect until after she tells him that the humans are terrified of Titans and do not understand why they eat them.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
- Sayaka breaks down completely at the end of Episode 3, just after seeing Mami get eaten alive, and being on the receiving end of a biting speech from Homura.
- Madoka goes into inconsolable sobbing after Sayaka loses her Soul Gem, becoming an Empty Shell. She does it again in Episode 9 when Sayaka (now Killed Off for Real) is presented to her again.
- Episode 10, one of the series' many Wham Episodes, has Timeline 3 Mami unable to handle the revelation that Magical Girls are doomed to become Witches. Having just defeated Sayaka-turned-Oktavia with the help of the other girls, she immediately goes to Mercy Kill them all, binding Homura to neutralize her Time Stand Still powers before shooting Kyoko's Soul Gem. As she aims her rifle at Homura, her very inelegant sobbing conveys the utter despair she has, reasoning that it would be better to die than turn into that. Madoka has to Mercy Kill Mami to stop her.
- In the final episode of the series, Homura breaks down when Madoka - now a mere concept - reveals she now remembers all of the timelines; everything Homura did to save her.
- Spirited Away: Chihiro/Sen has a breakdown during her first morning in the spirit realm, after seeing her parents transformed into pigs, being surrounded by odd creatures she doesn't understand and seemingly tricked by Haku into signing away her freedom. The breakdown is triggered when Haku takes her to see her parents and offers her some food. The Lonely Piano Piece playing over the scene doesn't help matters. Luckily, she recovers very quickly.
- Mekakucity Actors:
- For a brief few moments in Episode 7, we get a few shots of Ene breaking down into tears when Kano, posing as Haruka, tells her that he died the same day she did.
- During the second half of Episode 11, Kano has a spectacular breakdown at Ayano's grave, lamenting that no matter what he does, the Wide-Open Eyes Snake (possessing his father, Kenjirou) will kill them all.
- At the end of the same episode, Ayano finally lets herself go when Shintaro arrives and asks her to come back with him, breaking the facade of strength she had been showing to everyone who had met her previously.
- Happens to all but one main heroine in Ace Combat: The Equestrian War. Each of them has a good reason to cry.
- Discord breaks down in Diaries of a Madman, after he realises he ruined his own plan.
- Evangelion 303: Shinji and Asuka often cried when they were under enormous emotional distress:
- In the Naruto fanfic Kitsune no Ken: Fist of the Fox, Tenten breaks out into these while strangling Naruto and demanding to know why the Kyuushingai, of which he was a part, killed her parents.
- Blaine is a wreck in Hunting The Unicorn during the chapter The Red Bull. He has a concussion that's completely shot his logic and ability to communicate, and he's stressed from hiding with Kurt in an abandoned hotel from Blaine's Stalker with a Crush. Said stalker later tries to strangle Kurt when he finds them. He also thought his best friends Wes and David were dead until they managed to find him. Once the paramedics load him up, he breaks down crying, and the others are just surprised he didn't do it sooner.
- The Infinite Loops: Ares the Admin, after his quadrillionth attempt to get I Wanna Be the Guy Looping fails due to a minor technicality. Given what he did to wind up with that job, he kinda has it coming.
- In Lisa Scottoline's novel "Come Home" Abby and Jill do this after learning of Abby's father's death.
- The Kantrishakrim of Tales of Kolmar are creatures of Fire. Most instances of strong emotion are marked by having them spout bursts of flames from their mouths. However, in the greatest extremities of grief and despair they will shed tears that are noted to be painful and hiss down their faceplates. Shikrar sheds one in The Lesser Kindred as his grief for his beloved Yrais is rekindled, and his dialogue with his best friend and his son proves that for the moment at least, he is well and truly wrecked. They were noted as being exceptionally close, even for their kind.
- In The Highland Twins at the Chalet School, Joey Maynard does this during her Heroic BSOD after getting a telegram saying that her husband Jack has been killed in action. When Madge, her sister, comes to see her, she finds Joey with a Broken Smile, saying that it's 'the fortune of war' and that she can't cry or think straight. Then Jem, Joey's brother-in-law, brings her young triplet daughters into the room, and Joey breaks down in tears and has to be sedated.
Live Action TV
- Spock in the Star Trek episode "The Naked Time", after he's affected by an emotion virus. He never told his mother he loved her.
- Sun in LOST when she thinks Jin died.
- River Tam of Firefly often falls into sobbing fits during her worst mental breakdowns and panic attacks, particularly in The Movie.
- Thomas Barrow of Downton Abbey after his ordeal at he end of series 3.
Role Playing Games
- Dino Attack RPG:
- Kate Bishop's defining characteristic, starting with her being locked in Wallace Bishop's office in the XERRD Fortress.
- Rex after Amanda's death. After recovering from his Heroic BSOD, these tears turned into Berserker Tears.
- A downplayed example for Amanda. After Trigger tried to reveal her identity as Silencia Venomosa combined with steadily-increasing evidence pointing to her as being The Mole, Amanda went to the back of the lounge and cried to herself when no one was around, feeling that her Dark and Troubled Past was catching up to her and there was nothing she could do to stop it.
- In Kingdom Hearts II, Sora finally breaks down in tears after spending a majorly of the game as a Stepford Smiler when he is reunited with Riku, now taking on the appearance of Ansem, Seeker of Darkness (aka, Xehanort's Heartless). He almost broke down into tears earlier when Saïx denies him the option to reunite with Kairi.
- Like the example just above, Vanille of Final Fantasy XIII breaks down when she is exposed as the reason why Sazh's son, Dajh, is a l'Cie.
- Umineko: When They Cry Ep 8, Sayo "Yasu" Yasuda is shown with these◊ due to the stress of Battler's absence, his/her massive loneliness and possibly realizing that the lack of development of "her" body is because she might actually be biologically male.
- Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker: Tim does this after he kills the Joker, his Mind Rape at his hands hitting him fully and he breaks down laughing madly before sobbing.
- Pictured above, Azula of Avatar: The Last Airbender at the end of her Villainous Breakdown.
- The Punisher Expy from The Tick cries while going on shooting sprees and wondering aloud why Mommy never loved him. (A rare time this trope is Played for Laughs.)
- Occurs during Patrick's Break the Cutie moment in the Spongebob Squarepants episode "Nature Pants".
- Stimpy does this in The Ren & Stimpy Show "Adult Party Cartoon" episode "Ren Seeks Help". He cries to the point that the house is flooded with tears and calls Ren a "monster". We never do find out what horrible thing Ren did to Stimpy too.
- Ren does this at the beginning of "Stimpy's Fan Club".
- Stimpy also does this as Ren is being taken away from him in one of the earlier episodes.
- Stimpy in the music video for "Ren's Pec's".
- Brenda at the end of the Family Guy episode "Screams Of Silence."
- Meg in Family Guy is sometimes shown as emotionally fragile and disturbed, out of a desperation for love and affection and sometimes cries as a result. For example, in one episode she ran off in tears in the midst of a breakdown when she described gifts from her imaginary boyfriend Prince William. And Connie does this in "Barely Legal" after Brian tells her off.
- Eric Cartman in the South Park episode "Kenny Dies", after seeing Kenny, well, dying in the hospital. He even cries on Kyle's shoulder.
- Kyle does this at the end of the first half of "Cartoon Wars" after Cartman leaves him on the road after they smash into each other on their big wheel bikes.
- Happens in Batman: The Animated Series episode "Baby Doll" with the titular character once.