Just as the human body contains gallons of highly pressurized blood, it also contains an equal amount of tears, at a similar pressure. Under the proper emotional stimulus, these tears can emerge as cascading sheets, actual waterfalls, or even firehose-like streams, all emitted from the eyes (of course).
Some characters require less stimulus than others.
As a visual trope, this is Older than Television; older American animation had a number of minor characters (who were usually minor in the sense of age as well) who would begin high-pressure crying at the drop of a hat (sometimes preceded by Puppy-Dog Eyes, though that was more typically a signal for a poignant single glistening teardrop). Sometimes called the "Fire Hydrant Wail" in the case of the more extreme versions.
Compare Sparkling Stream of Tears, Manly Tears, Tender Tears. Contrast Trying Not to Cry, Single Tear, Inelegant Blubbering (both of which involves rather fewer and rather more realistic tears), Fireball Eyeballs.
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British advert for Walkers Crisps, playing on footballer Paul Gascoigne's famous tears at the 1990 World Cup, fits him with a couple of hoses for a rare Live-Action version of Ocular Gushers. Here you go.
In an advertisement for IHOP's endless stack of pancakes, a man is so saddened by his empty plate, a HUGE tear builds on his cheek. It gets sucked back in by the arrival of a new stack.
The Old Spice commercial "Tree", where several mothers are atop a tree, playing this trope straight.
Anime & Manga
In Episode 23 of Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z, the entire city of New Townsville literally cries a river after the evil comedian impairs everyone with his misery rays. This is also reference to how Lou Gubrious sets his misery rays on Townsville.
In an episode of Dragon Ball, when Chi-Chi sees Gohan's blonde hair (at this time, she doesn't know what a Super Saiyan is), she acts shocked and cries because she felt that Gohan became a "punker."
Sōun Tendō. In fact, one reading of his name in Japanese means "Crying Man".
And in the manga, when Happōsai needs Ranma's tears for a Fountain of Youth potion, poking a pressure point on Ranma's back causes him to literally blast a torrent of tears out his eyes, so that Happōsai has to catch them in a bucket.
Nearly everyone in Azumanga Daioh does this in at least several points of the series. Worth mentioning is Mr. Kimura, who, in the last episode, spouts a literal waterfall of tears that traces down the contours of his suit.
The title character in Sailor Moon. Usagi will do this at the drop of a hat, but the most common trigger is being called dumb, usually by her mom, Shingo or Rei. The very first episode of the anime is called "The Crybaby: Usagi's Beautiful Transformation"!
Occurs occasionally in the 2003 anime version, even to Alphonse, who has no tear ducts◊. Or eyes, for that matter. Especially gets ridiculous when he questions moments where Ed won't cry for him when they're both in despair.
In the 25th episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, May Chang is anxious about her pet Panda after she and it are separated during an intense fight with the enraged homunculus, Gluttony. In one scene, she actually cries a jet of tears which almost puts out the burning coals she used to warm herself.
Frequently in Ouran High School Host Club, both anime & manga, by Tamaki (almost every other frame) and the Hitachiins in response to any example of Haruhi's "cuteness". Honey also, for Moe points.
One Piece tends to use the cascading water effect when characters are extremely upset. Oddly enough, it uses a somewhat subdued version for dramatic effect. The logical conclusion ends with a giant, whose tears are compared to a deluge.
Every human who's freed from a Zonder Core in GaoGaiGar has these. Makes sense, since being purified appears to relieve whatever stress led to them being a Zonder target in the first place.
Practically everybody in Lucky Star fall into this trope at the drop of a hat.
This happens occasionally with the Team Rocket trio whenever they witness the Pokémon they're supposed to catch face hardship or do something emotionally significant, such as when Pikachu almost agreed to evolve into a Raichu with the Thunderstone in hopes of winning against Gym Leader L.T. Surge's Raichu.
One of Pikachu's cuter moments was after its ketchup bottle got slashed open by a Scyther. The next scene showed it doing this, holding the open bottle.
Cute crybaby Ash tends to do this a lot in the early seasons.
Saikano has this happen to most characters dozens of times in every chapter. No-one is resistant to this trope. The most notable gusher is actually the robot girl/"Ultimate Weapon" Chise, who seems to cry even when she's simply surprised.
At one point in Fairy Tail, local water mage Juvia starts crying and nearly drowns several mages around her.
In Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie, Sara does this when wrongfully accused by Knuckles of piloting the Metal Robotnik robot. It is rather unfortunate that Robotnik/Eggman is sitting in the path and attempts to jump away from the cascade.
Being the light-hearted parodies of the Nasuverse they are, these show up in Carnival Phantasm and its predecessor Take Moon from time to time. For example, when Rin Tohsaka finds out she wasted ten years of her life preparing for a Holy Grail War that's now a Japanese game show.
Certain Super Mario Bros. manga books would usually have certain characters do this over silly things.
An example is in this panel,◊ where Yoshi, because of his grown weight, makes Mario, Peach, Luigi, and even his mother do one.
Mako from Kill la Kill takes this to its logical extreme at the end of her fight with Ryuko by having her entire eyes turn into pools of water before spewing forward like a busted hydrant. Like everything in that anime, even the crying is done to the extreme.
Films — Animation
Almost every Hayao Miyazaki film has at least one instance where a character will cry massive gobs of tears the size of golf balls.
Alice in Wonderland has a chapter called "The Pool of Tears". When Alice becomes a giant after eating the cookies marked "Eat Me", she starts crying piteously, flooding the room with her tears. When she drinks from the bottle marked "Drink Me", she shrinks so small that she nearly drowns in the pool of tears she shed as a giant.
Penn & Teller: Bullshit! uses this trope during its episode on recycling, parodying the "crying Indian" PSA with a statue of a Native American spraying water out of its eyes all over the place.
Absolutely (Story of a Girl) by Nine Days, "This is the story of a girl/who cried a river and drowned the whole world."
In the Genesis song, "Squonk", the title character, weeping for its own ugliness and ostracization, dissolves into a "pool of tears" while captured in a huntsman's sack. The myth of the Squonk involves this trait.
As a literary trope, Ocular Gushers go back to The Bible. The prophet Jeremiah wants this, saying, "Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!" (Jeremiah 9:1) Both his books (Jeremiah and Lamentations) are somewhat depressing.
This seems to be based on a Japanese bunraku puppet technique used to show mourning, in which ribbons would flow from the eyes. It was also used in the musical version of The Lion King.
Super Princess Peach, where this is an ability. To clarify, its main use is to let you run really fast, but you can water buds that grow into gigantic vines with your tears. Without any negative effects from all the salt in those tears!
Street Fighter has Dan Hibiki, who has them when happy almost as often as when sad.
The Worms-style MMO Gun Bound has certain vehicles (particularly the Triceratops) that will cry like this if they are defeated and respawning is not enabled.
Rise of Persona 4 does this a lot, but only when it's tears of relief, so it helps lighten the mood. When Teddie started crying like this too, they hugged each other for support... until Teddie tried to cop a feel and Rise decked him.
Freddie Wong does a hilarious live-action version of this at the end of the action short "Gun Size Matters" when the Action Girl played by Shenae Grimes leaves him for a guy who pulled a 360 No Scope on the last Mook with a Barrett sniper rifle before landing into his car. According to the Behind the Scenes vid for the movie, Freddie and crew used a garden hose for this effect, primarily inspired by the old Bugs Bunny cartoons.
Occasionally seen in Pucca and, in the case of Pucca herself, her waterfall tears possess waterfall force which sends anybody she looks at while crying flying away from her. There is actually a moment where Garu walks up to a waterfall looking for Pucca, looks up, and it turns out the waterfall is really Pucca's tears.
Frequently a large part of Billy's diva tantrums, although whether it's a side effect of being a ghost (he tends to be more cartoony than the other characters) or he's always been able to do it has yet to be shown.
SpongeBob spraying Ocular Gushers into a mug, then drinking the contents before spraying again, spraying teardrops like a garden sprinkler, complete with sound-effects, and a few which seem to have the force of a firehose on full blast.
On one memorable occasion, SpongeBob cried so hard that the tears flooded his house, and when Squidward opened the front door, the resulting stream of water knocked him over.
When his grandma ignored and didn't coddle him because he wanted to be treated as an adult, he eventually snapped and cried until his tears flooded her entire house. Later Grandma pulls a plug on her house's floor to drain the tears away.
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie includes a scene in which SpongeBob and Patrick are spraying streams of water directly into each others' mouths, much to the disgust of Princess Mindy.
And in another scene where Mr. Krabs loses his millionth dollar to a giant clam, he cries so much in one scene he literally forms faucets from his eyes.
Also Pearl. An early episode use the waterfall example when Pearl approaches her father in tears flooding the Krusty Krab after her prom boyfriend dumped her.
Occurs with Sandy when she cries: her helmet gets all filled up and she pulls the handle to flush her tears.
And again in "Ponyville Confidential", when the column claims that "Pinkie Pie is an Out of Control Party Animal." She breaks down and screams, "It's true! I do have a problem!"
Fluttershy does the same thing in the episode after being humiliated by an articles which claims she gets tail extensions.
Sweetie Belle does this in "One Bad Apple" when Babs Seed, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon take over the Cutie Mark Crusader clubhouse. Apple Bloom even breaks out an umbrella to shield herself from Sweetie Belle's tears.
Poor Pinkie Pie gets another one in "Magic Duel" after Trixie removes her mouth and she is unable to eat cupcakes.
Ruel's Gobbowl friend, Tolot, springs a leak in Season 1 Episode 10.
Lady Glagla also sports a pair of gushers in Season 2 Episode 14.
The Powerpuff Girls episode "The City Of Frownsville" has Lou Gubrious, a very miserable scientist who cries fountains of tears channeling his sadness into a ray set upon Townsville that makes everyone—even the Powerpuff Girls—cry tears to the point where it threatens the city. Upon being the happiest person in Townsville at that point, he changes his name to Hal Larious, only to succumb to tears again after Bubbles (in a vain attempt to make a crying pigeon laugh) drops her banana and Hal slips on it, causing everyone to laugh at him.
Ed Eddn Eddy: Ed bawls like this after he realizes Rolf took back his animals in "Who's Minding the Ed?"
Ed: I MISS MY FURRY FRIENDS, GUYS!! Eddy: Aw, you're better off without 'em, blubberpuss!
Justified in a way in I Am Weasel. Ocular gushers come from a disease that keeps the person constantly crying like this. Weasel cures the disease, but this has the side effect of drying up all the rivers and oceans, so he purposefully gives himself the disease to keep a constant supply of water up.
Laney Penn of Grojband does this in the episode "One-Plant Band" when Corey calls her out on always being right while he's under the influence of a parody of Audrey II.
A Running Gag with Penny Ling in the 2012 Littlest Pet Shop, the first and most noticeable time being in "Penny For Your Laughs" when she has a breakdown when Pepper makes the mistake of targeting her for her insensitive comedy routine. It's taken Up to Eleven as her tears literally flood the day camp area and almost drown Pepper.
It's managed to carry over into the toys, as in the franchise's Spring 2014 line there's one set that comes with a figure of her with molded, transparent streams of tears.
Guy Hamdon of She Zow when his sister Kelly takes him to see a chick flick. It's so intense that he briefly floods the theatre.
Happens at the end of the Merrie Melodies cartoon "The Coo-Coo Nut Grove" (1936, Freleng).
Happens to Bimbo in the Screen Songs cartoon "My Gal Sal", complete with his eyes turning into faucets.
These are the norm for the toddler kids on Peppa Pig when they're really upset or scared about something.
In "Get the Gimmies" on the PBS KidsThe Berenstain Bears series, young Papa Bear cried these to get his parents to get him a toy truck he wanted, though he ended up donating it to a boy in a needy family.