"I'm fine. I have something in my eye, that's all.
[sobs] ...I have something in my other eye.
[sobbing] I have something in my heart..."
Since Men Don't Cry
, they can't very well be seen with Ocular Gushers
or, worse, Inelegant Blubbering
. So the macho tragic hero will often only shed a single, sparkling tear
, to accent his pain while making sure he keeps his awesome machismo. Used particularly in fantasy fiction, during a flashback to the tragic past.
In film and TV, the equivalent is the usually stoic hero's eyes getting watery, upon which the more emotional supporting cast will express their surprise to see a show of general empathy. The reply? "It's nothing
, I've just got a little sand in my eyes."
Attempts to comfort may provoke Don't You Dare Pity Me!
Something of a Discredited Trope
- nowadays it's just as likely to be used to evoke pity for the character's inability to express his emotions honestly as it is to portray them as strong and stoic. That's assuming it's not being outright mocked.
Contrast: Manly Tears
, which is admitted; Bad Dreams
, where the hero really can keep it buttoned up ... while awake; Tender Tears
of exquisite sensibility; and Water Works
, where the tears really are a sign of weakness (though Water Works
may be invoked by contemptible characters even when it really is Sand In My Eyes
), Single Tear
, Inelegant Blubbering
. Compare Trying Not to Cry
, Onion Tears
, which may also be used as an excuse. The literal case of this trope is often preceded by A Handful for an Eye
Not related at all to a certain Charles Atlas advertisement.
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- One Geico commercial has the gecko standing on the beach conversing with a crab, closing with his protest, "I'm not crying. I just have a bit of sand in my eyes, that's all."
Anime and Manga
- Blue Beetle's Big Guy pal Paco pulls this in issue #7.
- In the Donald Duck story "W.H.A.D.A.L.O.T.T.A.J.A.R.G.O.N", written by Don Rosa, Donald saves his nephews in a plywood mill, and they later give him an award. He tears up, and claims he still got sawdust in his eyes from the mill. One of his nephews points out that it was months before.
- In the last issue of the High Society arc in Cerebus the Aardvark, Cerebus has lost his position as Prime Minister and all his plans have fallen through. He wells up, but vehemently denies crying until he collapses in the Regency Elf's arms.
- In the final issue of the Spider-Man & Fantastic Four miniseries, when the Four reiterate that Spidey is part of their family, he claims to have some web in his eye.
- In The Avengers #216, when Tigra leaves the team:
Tigra: Jarv, you sexy, old hound dog, are you crying?
Jarvis: A good butler never cries while on duty, madame! -sniff- It must be my allergy to felines making my eyes tear!"
- Hal Holbrook's Oscar-nominated supporting role in Into The Wild culminates in one of these.
- A New Zealand short film played with this trope. Three men who lost a common friend use this excuse (as well as similar and increasingly sillier ones) to hide that they are crying. In the end, one of the men finally breaks down and runs off sobbing. An uncomfortable silence occurs before the other two convince themselves that it was just his allergies acting up.
- Brother Bear 2: Tuke manages to win the hearts of two female moose named Anda and Kata, leaving Rutt heartbroken. At the part with Tuke and the female moose watching the auroras, this exchange occurs:
Anda: Are you crying?
Rutt: No, I mean, well, yeah, so what, eh? The light's so beautiful, eh?
- Played with in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. After Peaches is born Diego is pushing away a tear, when called on it, he first invokes the trope "No, it's just... one of those dino's scratched my eye and..." and then subverts it ".. oh what the hell, I'm not made of stone after all." Later, Crash and Eddie repeat the trope.
- Eden from Doomsday is normally stoic, almost to the point of Dull Surprise, but when she cries, it's only from one eye. Justified in that her right eye was damaged when she was a child (possibly damaging the tear duct) and she got a new one.
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day. John Conner is talking to the Terminator about his mother Sarah Conner and his father Kyle Reese.
John: Mom and him were only together for one night. She still loves him, I guess. I see her crying sometimes. She denies it totally, of course, like she got something stuck in her eye.
- When The Passion of the Christ was going around, The Guardian ran a humor article with useful phrases for the movie (in Aramaic, of course!). One of them was "I'm not crying; I've just got a mote in my eye."
- Played for Laughs in the 1994 remake of Angels in the Outfield. One of the ball players pokes fun at Coach Knox for shedding a tear during the playing of the "Star Spangled Banner" before a game, but Knox shrugs it off as sunscreen getting in his eye.
- In The Lion King 1˝, cinema!Timon says a variation of this after watching the scene where movie!Timon and movie!Pumbaa stare at each other in a Tear Jerker (perhaps) scene. It was obvious that cinema!Timon was bursting into tears.
- In Atlantis The Lost Empire, after Kida takes Milo to a high place to overlook the whole of Atlantis, Milo sheds a few tears of joy and when Kida asked what's wrong, he just said he had something in his eye.
- In Life, when the story of Ray and Claude's life and death is finished, one of the young inmates notices the other is crying. He replies that he must be allergic to something.
- In the film adaptation of The Babysitters Club, Kristy protests to her mother that she's not crying - she's got allergies.
- A variation in Blade Runner: After the Battle in the Rain, the antagonist gives a final speech about all the wonders he has seen in the course of his brief life, concluding that all these things will be lost "like tears in the rain." It's left ambiguous as to whether he himself is crying, which works very well with the themes of the film.
- In Death Becomes Her, this is Helen's excuse for crying at Ernest's funeral at the end.
- In Oz: The Great and Powerful, when Oz sneaks up to show Finley that he's Faking the Dead, Finley blames his tears on the smoke.
- The Sicilian (1987). The boss-of-bosses for The Mafia in Sicily, Don Croce Malo, is being taken to a meeting with famous bandit Salvatore Guiliano. As they drive to the meeting place, Guiliano's men are lining the road, cheering this "man of honor". Don Malo cites the dusty road as the reason he has to take off his glasses and wipe his eyes.
- Bronco Billy has Rich Bitch Antoinette, tears streaming down her face, insisting she's not crying. The smoke-filled bar is irritating her eyes.
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), as the Turtles are falling to their apparent doom, Raphael gives a heartfelt confession only to be stopped by Donny informing him they've landed safely. Then the following takes place:
Michelangelo: "Raph, are you crying?"
Raphael: "Nah ding-dong... *sniffles* It's just a little dusty out here."
- Following the Rule of Three in Annie:
- Stacks gets teary-eyed but doesn't mention it.
- When he shows Annie where he grew up in Queens, he plays it off as pollen or dust.
- When he's about to lose Annie to her "real parents", she asks him if it's dusty and he says it's not. He then admits on TV that he's actually crying.
- Murder on the Orient Express. Hercule Poirot leads a certain character onto a certain line of conversation; the character in question suddenly complains that something outside the window is dazzling his eyes. His reaction proves to be a clue.
- The first sign of Ebenezer Scrooge's impending Heel-Face Turn in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is a Single Tear on his cheek as he sees a vision of his childhood. When the Ghost of Christmas Past calls him on it, he claims it is a pimple - a moment that manages to be funny and poignant at the same time.
- Mrs. Cratchit also has a moment, during the alternate future that The Ghost of Christmas Future shows to Scrooge. In it, Mrs. Cratchit, busy with some sewing, heard her older son reading the line, “And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them.” It caused her to think of Tiny Tim and she began to cry, in front of her children. She's able to stop herself and tells them that she wasn't crying, claiming; "The colour [of the fabric] hurts my eyes."
- Lewis Carroll in Sylvie and Bruno: "I felt very happy too, but of course I didn't cry: 'big things' never do, you know, we leave all that to the Fairies. Only I think it must have been raining a little just then, for I found a drop or two on my cheeks."
- Dangerous Liaisons: The "It's beyond my control" scene when the Viscount dumps his woman, so the Marquise can't get to her.
- The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy pulls this one in The Movie, claiming to her mother that "I've got allergies!"
- After Porthos's death in the final chapters of The Vicomte De Bragelonne, Aramis spends the night leaning against the bulwarks of the ship he's on. The next morning, his servant comments that it must have been a humid night since the wood he's been leaning his head on is damp. "What epitaph would have been worth that?"
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts story "In Remembrance", Larkin cries as they go through a war-torn city and believe their commander may be dying; Feygor jeers at him for his weakness, and he says, "It's... it's something in my eye." (That does not put off Feygor, but the other troopers with them support Larkin.)
- In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, after Dumbledore told Harry about his mother's death:
Dumbledore now became very interested in a bird out on the window-sill, which gave Harry time to dry his eyes on the sheet.
- Then, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when Harry told Dumbledore about Scrimgeour's saying he was "Dumbledore's man through and through" and that he said it was true, Harry looked away until Dumbledore had controlled himself. Though it's Harry and not Dumbledore who's embarrassed by the tears.
- Apparently Songbreeze from Redwall has such a touching, pure voice that it makes her battle-ready father cry. And he blames it on a gnat.
- Star Wars: When Talon Kardde learns fellow smuggler captain Shada D'ukal wasn't, in fact, on her ship when it self-destructed to disable a hostile capital ship.
- In Lloyd Alexander's The High King, when Fflewdur Flam sacrifices his harp for firewood, he complains of how it smokes, though it burns with very little smoke.
- Graham McNeill 's Warhammer 40,000 Ultramarines novel Dead Sky Black Sun, stripped of his captaincy and exiled from the Chapter world, Uriel washes himself after a bout, and looks in a mirror.
droplets trickled like tears down his reflection's cheek
- Both applying to this and Live Action TV, the titular character of The Story Of Tracy Beaker usually passes off any instance of her crying as "hay fever".
- A slight variant appears in one of the Sharpe novels, in which the RSM dies of a stomach wound, telling Sharpe (who is holding his hand): "I'll not cry, sir. They'll not say they saw me cry." He's weeping with pain as he speaks.
- In Jim Butcher's Dresden Files:
- Literature/Turn Coat:
"Ana," he said, almost choking on the words. "You... you think that I... How could you think that I would...?"
He turned his face away. It couldn't have been a tear. Not from Morgan. He wouldn't shed tears if he had to execute his own mother.
But for a fraction of a second, something shone on one of his cheeks.
- Small Favor: when Charity insists that he stay with them at the hospital until they have news of Michael, Harry's vision blurs.
- In David Drake's Patriots, the Woodsrunners go to punish a magistrate appointed by their enemies. When the Woodsrunners start a fire, meaning to burn the fellow's home and all his possessions, he insists that the tears on his face are from the smoke. After a minute or two, their leader puts out the fire, giving the magistrate a reprieve, and explains later that "There ain't so many brave men that I want to chase one off Greenwood unless I have to."
- In the children's book Harry Cat's Pet Puppy, once Harry and Tucker finally find a home for Huppy and he moves out of the drainpipe, Tucker confesses to wiping "a little leftover rain" from his eye. Harry comments that "We've been home an hour."
- The none too serious history book 1066 And All That mentions that Cardinal Wolsey fell from grace since he "although (as is well known) he had not thought to shed a tear about all this, did ultimately shed a memorable one."
- Flowers for Algernon combines this with Innocent Inaccurate; the mentally disabled Charlie, who's being used as an experimental subject, writes in one of his progress reports about going out drinking with some "friends" of his from the factory where he works. It's very clear to Miss Kinnian, his teacher, that these "friends" are actually just taking him with them so that they can make fun of him, and when he tells her that they've never been anything but good to him, "she got something in her eye and she had to run out to the ladys room."
- In the new Marvel prose Rocketand Groot Stealthe Galaxy, Rocket tears up when their new robot friend (172) is leaving. It's not described outright, but alluded to in the dialogue.
- "Are you sad, Rocket Raccoon?"
- "Nah, nah. Just got some dust in my eyes."
Live Action TV
- Parodied to hell and back in the Flight of the Conchords song "I'm Not Crying" - "I'm not upset because you've left me this way, my eyes are just a little sweaty today", "It's just raining / on my face", "I've just been cutting onions / I'm making a lasagna / for one"...
- Stephen Colbert, insisting during the 2008 Writers' Strike that he's fine doing the show by himself and doesn't need his writers anyway:
[tearing up] I'm fine. I have something in my eye, that's all. [sobs] ...I have something in my other eye. [sobbing] I have something in my heart...
- Also used (in a more adlib fashion) during the infamous Filliam H. Muffman clip, when Colbert couldn't stop laughing.
- And Stephen was not crying during the 2009 inauguration special. It was just allergies. Really.
- On the Hercules The Legendary Journeys episode "The Other Side", Hercules goes to the Elysian Fields and reunites with his lost family. His daughter asks him if he's crying. He tells her that Daddy isn't crying, the wind just blew something in his eye and then hugs her like he'll never let her go.
- A rare female example, from Star Trek: Voyager: when it is pointed out that Seven is crying after most of the Borg children leave, she claims that her ocular implant is malfunctioning. Subverted when the Doctor finds that it really was a malfunction. Inverted at the end when Icheb informs her that her implant is malfunctioning again, and the Doctor point out that it's working perfectly.
- In the That '70s Show episode "Jackie Moves On", Kelso denies that he cried after Jackie broke up with him:
Kelso: I did not cry! I had something in my eye.
Hyde: For a week?
Kelso: I have allergies, allright? (beat) Is it so wrong to feel?!
- In one episode of The Red Green Show, “School Demo”, the gang demolishes their old school. Initially they are thrilled, but when Harold causes them to reminisce about their past, the men become emotional and many spend the rest of the episode crying uncontrollably. At the end of the episode, Red tries to explain away their crying by saying the dust from the demolition made them all teary-eyed. The rest of the men immediately agree.
- After a poignant scene in Castle between him and his daughter, who he just dropped off for the first day of college:
Martha: Darling, are you crying?
Castle: No, it's allergies... I've... pollen count is high.
Martha: Pollen count's gotten me too.
They hug each other, and are both obviously crying.
- The Office (US):
Darryl: Stop crying.
Andy: I'm not crying. I'm sweating.
- In Downton Abbey S2, at the deathbed wedding of servants William and Daisy, the aristocratic stiff-upper-lipped Dowager Countess can't help sniffling.
Violet: I have a cold.
- At the ending of an episode of "The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams", Adams, upon seeing his friend Mad Jack tearing up after they'd said an emotional goodbye to someone they helped throughout the episode, has the following exchange:
Adams: Got something in your eyes?
Mad Jack: Oh, it's nothing. Just some smoke from the campfire.
Adams: Must've been a pretty strong campfire.
Mad Jack: Why do you say that?
Adams: It's been out for a day.
- In Wizards of Waverly Place, Justin's "allergies" start acting up when he gets sad.
- Invoked in the It's a Wonderful Plot episode of Mork and Mindy. In the alternate reality where they have never met, Mindy's marriage to someone else has just blown up. She and her father are about to take a walk together when her father looks up at the sky and says, "Oh, what a shame. It's starting to rain." Mindy replies that she would rather walk in the rain anyway, because "then nobody knows you're crying."
- On the first ECW "One Night Stand", Paul Heyman standing in the ring as the fans chant "Thank You Paul". He insisted that his eyes were red and watery because he'd been sharing a blunt with Rob Van Dam, not because he was crying. Yes, wrestling is scripted, but not everything is. This was not.
- In Adventures in Odyssey, Eugene's later conversion was foreshadowed when he begins to cry at a Nativity scene shown to him in the Imagination Station. However, when Connie asks him if he's crying, he responds that he has hay fever and the stable "aggravated [his] sinuses".
- In the Old Harry's Game episode "A Four Letter Word", Satan arranges for a Casablanca remake to be screened for the demons, with the intent that their reaction will humiliate the screenwriter. To his horror, they start to find it moving.
Satan: Right, that's it. I can hear a demon blubbing. Is it you?
Demon: No, no, I've just got dust in me eyes.
- In the Cabin Pressure episode "Boston", the asshole passenger Mr. Leeman makes Martin cry when he calls him a "flying cabbie" (as opposed to someone with a real job at a real airline). Martin insists the smoke from Leeman's cigarettes got in his eyes. Douglas, not fooled, sings 'Smoke Gets In Your Eyes' at him.
- The "Literal Lyrics" version of the infamous trailer for Dead Island invokes the Trope.
I'm not cry-ing, there's some-thing in both my ... eyes.
- In Devil May Cry 3, Dante sheds a tear for his lost brother Vergil and unconvincingly dismisses it as "only just the rain". When this is pointed out, he quips the series' Catch Phrase "Devils Never Cry", to which Lady makes an understanding Title Drop.
- In the second part of Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, Levin literally says there's just sand in his eyes when he cries onces. Specifically, if he's paired with Tiltyu in the first part and their daughter Tinny tells him about Tiltyu's sad end.
- Reversed in the good ending of Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, where Laharl sheds a tear for Angel-turned-flower Flonne, and says out loud: "What is this...? A tear...? ... Hmph. I never knew I could shed tears."
- At the ending of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Nathan Drake claims that the tears he shed when he thought Elena was dead were just the rain.
Nathan: It was raining and you were unconscious.
Elena: It was sunny, and you were bawling. Whatever, I kept your tears in a jar. I have proof.
- Sheila (Yang's wife) in Final Fantasy IV claims she has something in her eye when Cecil tells her that Yang is alive in the care of the Sylphs. She then give you a frying pan with which to wake him up.
- Played for laughs in The Curse of Monkey Island, in the scene where Guybrush discusses with the Voodoo priestess the way to lift the curse put on Elaine. The priestess mentions he has to replace the ring with a pure one found on an island, for which she recites the values of that ring:
Voodoo Lady: The value of the ring on Blood Island comes from its emotional significance. It represents a pure, true love, a power greater than any other.
Guybrush: Oh, that's sweet. I... I think I have something in my eye.
Voodoo Lady: (points at him in a strict manner) Do not mock the voodoo priestess.
- Maha of Maplestory makes this claim once, only for him it's a little more egregious than usual- he's a polearm and doesn't have eyes to begin with- since nobody but the protagonist can see his ghostly human form, presumably it's not tangible...
- This Order of the Stick strip. For the readers too. The line itself is subverted in the next frame, as Belkar gets the "something" out of the hobgoblin's eye. With a dagger.
- Nedroid's Reginald is just allergic... to being sad.
- Something Positive: When Davan plays a Jim Henson memorial song to Jason to prove a point, after Jason made fun of a workmate who played sad songs and cried over them, Davan himself ends up with "some backfired plan in my eye".
- In Sinfest, Monique asks Slick to take off his ever-present sunglasses as a sign that he's serious about his love for her. He can't bring himself to do it...until long after she's already walked off, leading to a "got something in my eye" comment in the last panel.
- In The Specialists, Max has allergies, after his father dropped him off with an apology for not being supportive and telling him to go on his own, to make his colleagues respect him as a man.
- Angus from Questionable Content insists that his Tender Tears are due to allergies.
- In No Rest for the Wicked, when the Beast is complaining about people coming and making a mess because they can come and go as they please, he says he got some dust in his eye.
- Mocked on The Simpsons when Moe is touched by Marge's gift of a homemade sweater.
"I've got something in my eye. (digs something from his eye) Oh, it's just a piece of glass."
- He says the same thing in father like clown (although it really is tears this time).
- And after the two aliens Kang and Kodos watched Maggie's Tastes Like Diabetes scenes:
- Mr.Burns says this to Smithers while they're at the theatre.
- Monster Allergy: "I'm not crying! My eyes are sweating!"
- Nicely subverted in the Justice League animated series. After thinking Superman had been killed, the members of the League are understandably pleased to see him alive and well.
Superman: I'm fine. Very glad to be home. ...Flash?
Flash: [sniff] Something in my eyes.
Green Lantern: Yeah, tears. It's OK, man. We all feel the same way.
- Fozzie on Muppet Babies actually cries pretty hard when he tries to give up comedy, but that doesn't stop him from saying, "Sorry, joke — er, smoke got in my eye."
- Played with at the end of one Men In Black animated series episode, as K's implied love interest takes off in her ship, leaving Earth for an unknown length of time. K (who'd mentioned the fuel fumes from the spaceships earlier) makes a point of putting on his shades.
J: *solemnly regards K for a moment* Fuel fumes really sting the eyes, huh?
K: Yeah. *J puts a hand on his shoulder*
- Interestingly inverted in one episode of Phineas and Ferb. Buford has lost his pet goldfish, the one he won as a young boy, and is understandably devastated. But, being the neighborhood bully, he has a reputation to uphold. When one of the characters asks "Are you crying?" Buford replies, "No, I'm just sweating through my eyes!". Later, Isabella asks "Buford... are you sweating through your eyes?", he replies "No, I'm crying!" but that just may be because he's being contrary.
- Played straight with a Continuity Nod in The Movie, when Major Monogram tears up at an emotional scene and uses the same excuse to Carl.
- King of the Hill (Chasing Bobby) has Hank crying in an emotional scene in a movie which alarms Peggy because he knows his long time truck is dying. Hank denies it by saying he has something in his eye. Peggy wants him to admit it and even takes him to an eye doctor.
- Another time Peggy declared "I have something in my eye, but I am also crying."
- In the Kim Possible half-episode "Roachie", Kim tears up after Ron has to let go of Roachie (a dog-sized cockroach). When Rufus notices it, she complains that the wind's coming off miles of garbage, where Roachie was let go.
- Hey Arnold!
- In Care Bears To The Rescue Movie, even Grumpy, who spent the whole episode complaining, is moved by Cheer and her new pet's goodbye. When the others notice this, he just says, "What? I have allergies."
- In Jimmy Two-Shoes, when a bird is reunited with his mother, Jimmy and Beezy cry... and so does Heloise. When they comment on this, she claims she has a feather in her eye.
- Gruffi Gummi once used this trope in the Gummi Bears episode "Gummi Dearest".
- Cubbi also used this trope in the episode "Up, Up, and Away".
- Shining Armor sheds "liquid pride" at his sister's coronation in the season 3 finale of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
- On Rick and Morty Rick and Morty have a falling out before they're captured by Evil Rick. Evil Rick looks through Rick's memories, and Rick starts to cry when he sees a series of images about Morty. Evil Rick mocks him for crying, and Rick snarks "No, I'm just allergic to dipshits".
- In the Beetlejuice episode "Doomie's Romance," B.J. gets emotional after the attempt to bring Mayor Maynot's pink convertible to life proves successful.
Lydia: (wiping tears from her eyes) Why, Beetlejuice...I do believe you're crying!
Beetlejuice: Nah...I just got a little sand in my eyes.
- Kung Fu Panda Legends Of Awesomeness had Po claim to have "sweaty eyes".
- During his presidential campaign in 1972, Democratic candidate Ed Muskie made an emotional speech, defending his wife from some unpleasant journalist smear. The press reported that he broke down and cried; he insisted that what had appeared as tears were actually melted snowflakes.
- David Tennant's last video diary for Doctor Who shows him trying to remain composed as he knows he is about to say goodbye to the show's cast and crew, though his voice keeps cracking and he can't stand still. It's rather Adorkable.
- The Japanese have a verb for pretending you're not crying: shinobinaku. Which literally means "ninja crying." Sounds a little more badass now, doesn't it?
- Comments left for sad videos online tend to have a running theme of "Ninjas chopping onions nearby".