Handle with care.
"She's an injured bird and you just want to be her sexy veterinarian."
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
. Expect Tender Tears
to play along with this trope.
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Anime and Manga
- Matsuri in Strawberry Marshmallow.
- Vanilla in Sugar Sugar Rune.
- Mikuru in Haruhi Suzumiya takes this to satirical lengths.
- Nazuna in Hidamari Sketch. She has a heck lack of confidence.
- Sumire in Tramps Like Us is outwardly a Sugar And Ice Girl, but she is often seen hiding in the bathroom, crying.
- Sakuno Ryuzaki in The Prince of Tennis is a more or less normal Shrinking Violet, but the anime makes her more like this.
- Mitsuru, Ritsu Sohma and his mom in Fruits Basket.
- 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 emotionless Death Seeker.
- Kanae Ohtori from Revolutionary Girl Utena. Until Mikage puts the whammy on her and she goes Cute and Psycho.
- Shuuichi Nitori from Wandering Son. She used to cry a lot, but with age and character development, has gotten past that stage. She still lets things go to her head but doesn't cry as easily as she did in early chapters.
- Hinako from Bitter Virgin. With good reason.
- THE iDOLM@STER - Yukiho.
- 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.
- From Axis Powers Hetalia:
- 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't Played for Laughs (at least not more so than anything else in this show);
- Ukraine is this, too (also note that both she and the Baltics are this for good reason);
- Finland also quotes this trope:
Finland: I'm a frightened, fragile flower, so I decided I should go with him!
- In a filler episode in the Ranma ½ anime, Ranma himself becomes a caricature/parody when he hits his head and becomes extremely frail and sensitive. "She" squeals in disgust at having to wash his boxers and faints when Akane accidentally cuts her finger.
- 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.
Akira: You're always so quick to cry, Fumi.
- Vivio during Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S, what with being a six-year old orphan. She eventually grows out of it after the events of the season.
- 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.
- The titular character of Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu is a Justified case because she's an Otaku in secret (hence the title) and is constantly afraid of being discovered and shamed for a hobby that society in general thinks is just perverted and disgusting. She actually did get found out while she was in elementary school and has carried those insecurities since then.
- 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.
- Enju Aiahra from Black Bullet is sweet, kind-hearted 10-year-old girl and cursed child who, despite being treated as trash for being born with the Gastrea virus in her body like most cursed children, always maintain a sunny disposition. Despite this, one her flaws of her character is she's a very sensitive person who is prone to breaking down in tears easily. It's highly implied that if Enju were to find out that she'll eventually die or turn into a Gastrea monster, this will be enough to completely break her forever.
- 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.
- Steins;Gate: Ruka Urushibara is a fairly standard - albeit male - example who appears ready to cry all the time, and it becomes even more prevalent after he becomes a she via D-Mail, and Okabe insists that she's a boy, driving Ruka to tears every time it comes up. Of course, if your crush started (unintentionally) calling you the opposite gender, insisting you're an Incompatible Orientation all the time, it would be somewhat upsetting.
- 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.
- Every single darn character in The Tale of Genji male or female. The Shining Prince himself is incredibly lachrymose. Of course this was considered an attractive characteristic in Heian Japan.
- 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.
- In The Zombie Knight, the reaper Iziol is a strange example; he seems to think everyone else is a Fragile Flower, with perhaps the demonstrated exception of his servant Dimas. He can't think of any insults stronger than "turkey" (and worries that even this might be too-strong language) and calls Dimas a monster when he attacks Horatio without bothering to provoke a first attack. Funnily enough, Iziol doesn't seem to consider hurling destructive gravitic energies at people to be unacceptably rude as long as they attack first—and taunting them into attacking first counts, albeit only with the aforementioned mild language.
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.
- Marisol Delko in CSI: Miami.
- Nikki Alexander in Silent Witness.
- The Closer: Despite being a tough Action Girl, our heroine is always one blink away from tearing up.
- Tess in The BBC's 2008 adaptation of Tess Of The D Urbervilles, as played by Gemma Arterton.
- In the Seinfeld episode "The Understudy," Jerry's girlfriend cries at almost anything from dropping a hot dog to her untied shoelace. However, she doesn't cry when her grandmother dies.
- Both George and Elaine regularly bust into tears whenever something upsets them. One example with the former, George drives himself to tears when he tries to take the nickname "T-Bone" away from a co-worker who was given the same nickname, while with the latter, Elaine is banned from a nail salon and actually wanders the streets in the rain bawling her eyes out about it.
- Sophie in Peep Show, though she's also a Manipulative Bastard.
- 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.
- In one episode of The Monkees Mike describes Peter as "Kinda sensitive. Cries at card tricks."
- 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.
- Evanine in the Neverwinter Nights mod Tales of Arterra.
- 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.
- Hanami in Tasakeru, as part of her general flower motif, can be overly sensitive at times.
- 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.
- Played for Laughs male example: Jimmy from Ed Eddn Eddy.
- 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.
- Amy Wong and Dr. Zoidberg in Futurama temporarily turn into Fragile Flowers in a one-shot joke when Bender is trying to get Fry to cry out a liquid alien emperor trapped in his body:
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.
- Penny Ling in Littlest Pet Shop (2012)
- Lockette in Winx Club is prone to crying when in trouble and freaks out a lot, especially if Darkar is involved. She manages to grow out of this eventually.