Ah, everyone loves sweet little Alice. She's so beautiful, but she looks as if she's always just one sharp word away from bursting into tears.
A fragile flower is that one character who always looks like she (or he) is just about ready to cry. In fact, they probably are. Sometimes, they will to try and keep their emotions inside, but ultimately fail. One small incident and they are crying. It is possible for anything to cause them to cry, but it is most often a harsh insult directed at them.
There may be a few reasons for a fragile flower's behavior. They might just be super sensitive by nature. There might have been something in their past such as emotional abuse from peers or some other form of Break the Cutie that caused them to be this way. Most characters who know the fragile flower are careful not to upset them when talking. Other more Jerk Ass characters will most likely try to make them cry, in which case the fragile flower may eventually force themselves to become desensitized towards insults.
Pretty popular in Japanese media since it's often played as cute.
Also known as the "Sad Girl In Snow".
Most often female, though it can be a male in order to be Played for Laughs.
Compare The Ingenue and Shrinking Violet.
Mihashi from Ookiku Furikabutte acts like this due to the bullying he received while in middle school.
Abe: And stop sniveling, it looks like I'm bullying you.
Princess Shirahoshi from One Piece doesn't just look like she would burst into tears from something trivial like being awakened from a nap — she actually does. She has an excuse though, having watched her mother die and then forced to spend 10 years locked up in a tower due to death threats in the form of giant flying axes that can home in on her. She gets a little better after making some friends, though.
Baccano!'s Jacuzzi Splot (the show's primary source of man-moe) is prone to crying at the slightest misstep outside of his comfort zone. This, surprisingly enough, doesn't stop him from being a crazily heroic badass when the cards are down.
Meanwhile, Lua Klein could be considered a subversion. She looks a lot like this type of character, but is in reality a emotionlessDeath Seeker.
Yayoi in Smile Pretty Cure! is described in the first episode as a crybaby whose tears start flowing with even the smallest nudge. She's also seen crying when she uses her Cure powers during the opening.
All of the Baltic States can qualify when Russia's around, but Latvia in particular is this way all the time; all three are rare male examples that aren'tPlayed for Laughs (at least not more so than anything else in this show);
Chihiro in Tamayura. What makes it particularly cute is that she's actually crying out of compassion for her friend Fuu (the protagonist) whose father died some time ago. Chihiro starts crying whenever she thinks she might have said something that reminded Fuu of her late father, even after Fuu actually starts to get over her father's death.
Sota's sister Izumi from WORKING!! fits this trope quite well.
Mamoru is this in Shin Sekai Yori. Very emotionally sensitive, he doesn't react at all well to all the conspiracies the group uncovers.
Hiren in Undertaker Riddle. Hayato even says that calming Hiren down is like calming down a kid.
Haruka in Kotoura-san has no constitution for sudden pressure, and she caves like a house of cards when threatened. It's often Played for Laughs, at which point it's kind of cute. As the series goes on, she tries to address this and grow some backbone, but it seems a part of it will always be ingrained into her nature. That said, it is unclear whether this is the cause, or the effect of her previous decade-long Break the Cutie that just started to heal.
Fumi from Aoi Hana, a trait that stuck with her since childhood.
Shinji from Neon Genesis Evangelion could be considered a rare serious male example. While he may not fit into American standards of male attractiveness, he is stated to be attractive in-universe, and, thanks to deeply-rooted self-esteem issues and having the pleasure of witnessing his mother turn to goo at an early age, rather insecure, delicate, and all too easy to upset with just a few words, particularly in the prologue arc, where he rarely made it through an episode without a Sparkling Stream of Tears.
Madoka of Puella Magi Madoka Magica appears to be this, but she defies it by continuing to help out despite her very legitimate trauma, even after almost everyone else dies. She eventually becomes immune to despair.
Mallow◊ from Tatsuyama Sayuri's "Happy Happy Clover" Anime/Manga series is Clover's best friend.◊ But when she first moved to Crescent Forest and was a new student in Clover's school taught by Professor Hoot. She was first seen hiding behind Professor Hoot and was mostly very quiet. Kale's first impression of Mallow is that she has "weird ears"◊ which caused Clover to scold him for that comment. Later Clover's parents see Mallow's mom and dad enter their house saying that Mallow's missing. They decide to go and start a search-party around the forest however after her parents leave her home. She decides to go and search for Mallow herself. While she starts searching for her, Kale see's Clover run right past his home and notices something suspicious going on. Finally, Clover finds Mallow after she falls down a hill and would later become friends. Suddenly, Kale and Shallot finds the two and uses a rope to rescue them from the pit. In the end, they get scolded by their parents. In later stories and volumes, she's still shy but starts to interact with others and becomes a nurse in the last volume.
Sarah Packard from The Hustler, who has been rejected and scorned so many times that she needs to drown her sorrows to get through the day. Needless to say, she's prone to this trope whether drunk or sober.
Beth Ellen Hanson of Harriet the Spy is described as "Always look[ing] like she might cry". In a subversion, Harriet writes that this just makes her want to kick her and get it over with.
In Beth Ellen's own book, The Long Secret, we learn that Beth Ellen cries in private because her grandmother has taught her that's what a Proper Lady does. But she has a crying fit during a sleepover after her Rich Bitch mother returns — and Harriet gently takes her hand and holds it until she's through.
Enid Blyton's Malory Towers school stories feature Mary-Lou, who is this trope to a T. She gets a lot better.
Mary Anne Spier, secretary of The Baby-Sitters Club, is described as being so sensitive she'll cry at long-distance telephone commercials.
In Those That Wake's sequel, Rose is this, mainly stemming from childhood trauma.
Live Action TV
The Brady Bunch: Marcia is by far the biggest crybaby of the Brady siblings. She cries when she doesn't get to go on a family ski trip, gets kicked out of a play, is rejected by a potential date to a school dance (and then several years later, after another date rejects her), is treated rudely by her siblings while reading her campaign speech for student body president, when she wilts under pressure during her driving test ... she just had frail nerves. As an adult, Marcia wells up when she is unable to find work as an adult and after realizing she's humiliated her family at a ribbon cutting for one of Mike's office complex projects.
Little House on the Prairie: Virtually every one of the Ingalls, especially Charles(!) and Laura, who often cried at the drop of a hat. Except for possibly Nels Olesen and his son, Willie, most of the other people of Walnut Grove were more than willing to share their feelings ... from big, hulking men like Jonathan Garvey and the uncouth Mr. Edwards to the spoiled tantrums of Harriet Olesen and her daughters, Nellie (in her spoiled, wild years) and especially Nancy.
A Take Our Word for It male example in Wings, when Helen dates a man who cries when she mentions her dead dog; she becomes disillusioned when she realizes he cries at everything. "We went to a Marx Brothers film and he was crying because Harpo couldn't talk."
Guinevere in Merlin, mainly because the writers do a lot of horrible things to her, lampshaded by the actress herself: "they like making me cry." Of course, she's also a perfect example of Silk Hiding Steel: expect her to cry whilst simultaneously demonstrating great strength of character.
Mélisande in Maurice Maeterlinck's play Pelléas and Mélisande.
Yoriko in Da Capo at first has great trouble interacting with people and, of course, always seems close to tears. Oddly enough, having rocks thrown at her apparently didn't bother her in the slightest.
Kotomi in CLANNAD is more or less exempt from Tomoya's normal teasing due to her reaction of starting to tear up and ask if someone is a bully when feeling at all threatened. Naturally, learning to deal with Kyou takes her a little while.
Hanako Ikezawa from Katawa Shoujo. Having burn scars that cover the entire right half of your body will do that to you. Or not. Treating her like one ends very badly.
According to one of his less-effectual titles in Yggdra Unison, Nessiah—despite his status as the local Magnificent Bastard—cries very easily when hurt or frustrated. If the player's performance is substandard, this happens often enough that his enemies start to mock him for being childish, and his subordinates have to devote a lot of time to taking care of him. As Nessiah's social skills are strange at best, he never really becomes cognizant of the burden he's putting on them.
Neimi of Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones is pegged a crybaby right from the start. Being childhood friends with Colm doesn't help much. Amusingly subverting in their final support conversation, where he hears he howling and asks why, rattling off a long list of reasons. Neimi tells him she's in a good mood and just had something in her eye this time, much to his consternation.
Parodied mercilessly with Lucy and Patrick of The War Comms. Played heartbreakingly straight with Syrius, however, and to a slightly lesser extent Molly. Heather is about halfway between Patrick-Lucy and Syrius-Molly.
Fluttershy in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Note that, however, she is growing out of this big aspect of her, as she has become noticeably more assertive in season 2. There was, in fact, a whole episode based on it and she has repeatedly shown herself able to break out of this attitude in emergencies.
Bender: Man, I guess it's harder than I thought to make someone cry. Amy: You did your best, Bender. Bender: Up yours, bimbo! (Amy runs away crying) Zoidberg: Let's face it, we're in hot butter here. We should call Leela for help. Bender: Cram it, lobster! (Zoidberg runs away crying) Bender: That is a good idea. I'll go call her.
SpongeBob SquarePants is a male example that isn't always Played for Laughs. In fact, making Spongebob cry is considered a gross act of cruelty, and whoever is responsible for hurting his feelings almost immediately gets scolded by whoever happens to witness it, or just feels guilty. It really doesn't take very much to make him cry, either- in one episode, a particularly mean customer yelled at him and threw a pizza box in the face, causing him to flop over on the ground, sob deeply for a while, and not stop until Squidward cheered him up.
Pops from Regular Show is another rare male example that isn't always played for laughs- in fact, seeing Pops cry is absolutely heartbreaking sometimes. Pops is very sensitive and it doesn't take much to make him cry. When someone does greatly upset him, his friends immediately come to his aid and stick up for him.
Stacy Rowe in Daria collapses in tears over the slightest thing. Luckily, she starts to grow out of it in the fifth season, and in one episode her reputation as this even works to her advantage when she's trying to trick an audience.
Bubbles in The Powerpuff Girls is normally this (especially in the first season episode "Octi-Evil") but once in awhile she's not afraid to kick it up a notch.