Broken Tears

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 ordeal.

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 although it can sometimes overlap. Often results in a Tear Jerker. Compare/Contrast Manly Tears, Tears of Fear.


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     Anime and Manga 

  • Alucard from Hellsing (the current page image) is reduced to an uncontrolled sobbing wreck after having to kill Father Alexander Anderson, who had turned himself into a divine monster in order to defeat Alucard.
    • Seras during Pip's death scene and when Zorin mind rapes her.
  • 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:
    • At the end of The End of Evangelion, Shinji breaks down crying after Asuka caresses his face while he's in the middle of strangling her (which he stops after the aforementioned act).
    • Asuka cried during her Mind Rape due to being forced to remember her childhood traumas and face her deep-rooted insecurities, 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 breaks down crying after receiving a pre-recorded message from the recently murdered Kaji.
  • 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.
  • Vegeta cries in Dragon Ball Z due to the fact that Frieza could vanquish him so easily even after everything he did to turn the tables. What he said in Goku's vision during the fight sums it up nicely: "I dreamt— I yearned to be the one to avenge us, yet he battered and broke me just like he did the others. You cannot know the agony of that." Can be seen as Dramatic Irony given that the ruthless most evil self-absorbed Saiyan Anti-Hero is begging Goku to empathize with the other Saiyans that tried and failed to defeat Frieza.
  • 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 Fairy Tail, both Minerva and Midnight of Sabertooth and Oracion Seis do this after Erza Scarlet curb-stomps them both.
    • Lucy screams and bawls as she breaks Aquarius's key, meaning she'll never see her again while fighting Jackal.
  • In Sailor Moon Usagi does this in a phone booth after Mamoru breaks up with her. She also does it in Super, when Hotaru/Sailor Saturn jumps into Pharaoh 90 to kill herself to stop the Big Bad and Usagi is powerless to help or stop 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. Yugi also makes speeches about how sad 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, and then she breaks down crying tears like this and Homura has to comfort 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.
  • Numerous main characters in Seraph of the End do this. Most notable is Yuu at the beginning when Ferid maims Mika and kills his family. He responds by crying during while shooting Ferid in revenge and after when falling to his knees.
  • Re:Zero protagonist Subaru sheds broken tears often, as his powers allow him to revive and loop back in time after being killed. He has witnessed his own death and failures in saving his friends countless times.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's: Tears can be seen streaming down Hayate's face during her Skyward Scream after two people disguised as her friends kill Vita in front of her.
  • Tokyo Ghoul is primarily a tragedy story so numerous people do this during their Break the Cutie moments, with one notable one being Hinami as she's being put through the emotional wringer by Mado who had killed her parents.
  • Exa does this near the end of Superior Cross after discovering that the demon queen that razed his home village and the woman he loves are the same person.

    Comic Books 
  • Supergirl:
    • In Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl, Supergirl weeps when she discovers the corpse of her murdered baby cousin, and she cries again while she buries him.
    • In Many Happy Returns, Kara sheds them twice: when everyone is treating her -an orphan who has just lost her home and landed in another world where everyone is a jerk to her and her only living relative turns her down because he doesn't know who she is- as a dumb, crazy girl; and when she is told she has to return to her own timeline... where she will eventually die.
    • In The Supergirl from Krypton:
      • Kara bursts into tears after wandering over the streets of Gotham.
      • Superman weeps when he sees her cousin turned into ashes. Even if he knows it is a decoy, the mere sight of Kara being disintegrated brings him to his knees.
    • Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade: Supergirl cries when she her dying best friend in her arms.
    • In Supergirl Vol. 5 issue #34 Kara sheds bitter tears upon finding out that the Daily Planet is slandering her.
    • In Bizarrogirl, the eponymous Bizarro cries blood tears upon realizing she killed an innocent man.
  • Superman cries in Kryptonite Nevermore when he believes his battle with his Sandman doppelganger has destroyed the world.
  • The Dark Phoenix Saga Jean Grey goes through this once the Dark Phoenix overtakes her, and she's trying hard to let the real Jean out. She finally sheds more tears minutes before she dies at her own hands, while Cyclops watches in horror.

     Fan Works 
  • Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: Japan sheds these after Germany is revealed to be Holy Rome. He thought he had no chance with Italy. Thank goodness he was wrong.
  • 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:
  • HERZ: Shed by Asuka in chapter 2 after a nightmare where she relived her worst memories (her most humilliating defeats, her Mind Rape, her almost death...) and the feelings of being alone, worthless and unloved that came with them.
    Asuka screamed and bolted up in bed. Dream. Again. Breathing fast, shallow. Heart pounding. Cold sweat. Lightning flashed outside of the apartment's window. Hands over her face, she began to cry.
  • 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.
  • Last Child of Krypton: Asukaís first battle was supposed to be her big debut. She had been waiting her whole life for that moment, training hard and rigorously since she was a child. She almost got killed, had to be rescued, and the Commander ordered she got punished by something was not her fault. When she was home she slammed her bedroomís door, threw herself down on her bed and sobbed.
  • 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.
  • Children of an Elder God: After being raped, Asuka sobs and cries uncontrollably.
    And then the memories came, and all Asuka could do was curl into a ball and cry.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide:
    • As he visits Asuka in the hospital, Shinji cries after realizing that she is in a coma because he never helped her.
      "I'm...sorry, Asuka." The feeling of sickening self-disgust rolling through him choked his words and a gloomy, heavy silence enveloped the room once again, broken intermittently only by the EKG's electronic heartbeat and his quiet sobbing.
      Shinji didn't try to call for Asuka again, and rushed out of her room moments later, still in tears.
    • And after the Final Battle, he cries when Asuka is apparently dead.
  • Quicken: After Emma has told Taylor how she had to fight thugs and rapists, and even dig her way out of her own grave in order to survive... her best friend hugs her, and Emma bursts into tears.
    I was stunned, unable to react, simply allowing myself to be held. My eyes grew hot and a low moan escaped my throat. I tried to stop myself, but I felt so tiredónot in body, but perhaps in spirit. I began bawling, putting my arms around Taylor, releasing myself to the tears. There was no dignity or restraint: it was the sort of crying an infant or a toddler might produce. I felt as though the tears would tear out gouges down my cheeks and I cried and cried. I donít think I had ever cried this hard before.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • 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 B.S.O.D. 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.
  • Edgedancer (a novella of The Stormlight Archive): Nale's Villainous B.S.O.D. is underlined by him breaking down into tears as he realizes just how badly he screwed up.

     Live Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones: Sansa after she hears about the Red Wedding.
  • 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.
  • In the Family Ties episode "A, My Name Is Alex", Alex breaks into tears at the height of his nervous breakdown over his friend's death.
  • 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.
  • Breaking Bad:
    • Walt breaks down crying after Jack Welker shoots and kills Hank right in front of him.
    • Jesse has a complete emotional breakdown when he's Forced to Watch Todd kill Andrea.
  • Mitsuzane Kureshima is rendered complete wreck after falling over the last of all his Despair Event Horizons in the finale of Kamen Rider Gaim.

     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 B.S.O.D., 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.

     Video Games 
  • 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.

     Visual Novel 
  • 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.

     Web Original 

     Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • Azula of Avatar: The Last Airbender does this 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.