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Tears of Fear
Whatever's coming, it isn't good news

When humans cry, their tears are used to convey various emotions — most commonly, anger, happiness, sadness, and when having a breakdown. But tears also fall if people are scared out of their wits. If this happens, it may or may not be an indicator that they are slipping into insanity as a result of the fear.

Can be used in a serious sense to show a character becoming emotionally broken or a comedic sense to show the character as a big baby. Never used as a form of Manly Tears. May be Water Works. For many, this is Truth in Television.

Not to be confused with 80s New Wave band Tears For Fears.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga 
  • In the final scene of the last episode of Monster we are treated to a flashback of Nina's and Johann's childhood where their mother is forced to give one of them up for an experiment. The two hold onto their mother's hand begging her not to let go, and their mother hesitates before handing over Nina who proceeds to scream "No!" in horror as tears spring from her eyes.
  • Lovely Complex: Risa was either crying or was close to crying when she was threatened by Mimi.
  • Shinji often indulged in this, especially in The End Of Evangelion. Asuka sheds those as well, during her Mind Rape.
  • Nina in Code Geass does this during her spectacular Freak Out.
    • Also Kallen when she's about to be shot in her prison cell.
  • Serial Experiments Lain: Happens quite a bit with Lain and Alice being the main suppliers of fearful tears. Special mention goes to the final episode where Masami Eiri turns into a grotesque gooey fleshy monstrosity that uses its giant tongue to try to eat Lain and Alice. Alice is so freaked out by this point that her sanity takes a sharp nose dive and she hits Lain out of fear while tears stream down her face.
    • In episode 2 a suicidal drug user does this constantly.
  • Gohan in Dragon Ball Z until about the Frieza saga. Used also in Dragon Ball for weak villains, bystanders, and sometimes a character encountering the next level of Training from Hell.
    • Then again, Gohan is four to five during the above-stated time period. A better example would be Vegeta when he finally realizes he can't defeat Frieza. In the manga, the narrator even points out this is the first time Vegeta has actually cried out of fear.
  • Being a six year old girl at the time, Vivio did this a lot in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, such as when the scary Belkan Knight suddenly appeared with weapons drawn, or the first time Nanoha-mama needed to leave her to go to work, or the period when she fell into the hands of Jail Scaglietti.
  • Russia from Axis Powers Hetalia can only sob and make futile cries of "Go home!" when his sister Belarus literally tears down his door to demand that they get married. Proof that even Yanderes can fall into this trope when there's an even bigger Yandere in the room.
    • This is usually Latvia's, Estonia's, and Lithuania's response whenever they have to deal with Russia.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Envy does this when reduced to his true true form and Roy prepares to kill him in one shot.
    • Also, Falman's eyes are streaming as he refuses to open the doors to Central HQ for Fuhrer Bradley. It's the exception to the rule that these are not Manly Tears - he's obviously just this side of wetting his pants, but standing up to a man who just totaled a tank with nothing but a sabre and a hand grenade takes brass ones, however pathetic you look doing it.
    • A scientist involved in creating the immortal legion cries as he is about to be eaten by his own creations.
    • In the 2003 anime version, when Barry the Chopper threatens to kill Ed after capturing him, Ed sheds a few tears of fear as he tries to escape. Winry, having been captured by Barry and at his mercy, does this too.
  • Hellsing: Rip van Winkle's fight against Alucard was unique for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that she spends half the fight sobbing uncontrollably in sheer terror.
    • Not quite unique, given that Luke Valentine had the same reaction to Alucard removing one of his restrictions.
    • In the 7th OVA Seras is Mind Raped into reliving her horrible childhood. She cried out of sadness and fear as she was forced to watch her mother's corpse being raped and she cries as she is reliving said memories in the present.
  • Karin: A little girl does this in chapter 13 when confronted with a serial killer who escaped from the Creepy Doll Boogie-kun.
    • Karin does this when asked by Anju if she wants to listen to her tell the history of her collection of creepy dolls.
  • The eponymous character from Kaiji, along with other people, did this while crossing a beam bridge. As a matter of fact, this is a recurring trope in this series. We get to see a lot of men breaking into tears as they face the despair derived from the Absurdly High Stakes Games.
  • Mirai Nikki: Yukiteru does this a lot, especially in the beginning.
    • The other Yuno does this in chapter 53 after she's been stabbed by the first Yuno, as she's writing "Help me" on the wall with her own blood.
    • Minene does this in the anime as she's getting her bad eye pulled out as torture.
    • Eighth does this as she faces death by Yuno.
  • In the anime of Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Rosa Ushiromiya is terrified to the point of a torrent of tears while she is being forced to eat her own daughter Maria's living, laughing, disembodied head.
  • Keiichi from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni combines this with Tears of Remorse and Berserker Tears in the first arc.
  • Minoru of Karate Shoukoushi Kohinata Minoru does this during the two times he is almost raped by Pedro.
  • In Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest Kuroda takes a break from blowing up stuff (and students) to try to rape Student Council President Noriko with his gun. When Kuroda announces these intentions, poor Noriko reacts by wetting herself and crying to the point where her face is a mess. Fortunately, Inugami interrupts him.
    • Later, Haguro starts crying and shivering in pure fear when Inugami shows him his werewolf form. Then he starts Laughing Mad and things just go downhill from there.
    • Aoshika does this as she's being gang-raped.
    • A guy Inugami threatens as to Haguro's whereabouts does this.
  • Tsuna of Katekyo Hitman Reborn! does this at times.
  • Gankutsuou: Two men who are going to be executed do this during the public execution scene.
  • Makoto does this in the last episode of School Days as he's being stabbed to death by Sekai.
  • Lunar during the 2nd half of the 2nd Seto no Hanayome OVA, when everyone else starts disappearing.
  • Takada in episode 35 of Death Note after Mello has kidnapped her.
    • Light does this in the final episode as he lays on the ground writhing in pain from after Matsuda shot him and he realizes he's all out of options and he's going to die.
  • Naruto: Sakura does this when she's frightened by how much Sasuke has changed as a result of the Curse Seal which makes him act more violent and sadistic.
    • And Sasuke did this when he was younger after he found out his beloved brother was the one who killed their entire clan and is terrified his brother will kill him.
    • Naruto himself did this as he was being mind raped by an Itachi lookalike in part II.
    • Haku also does this in the anime, when his father just killed his mother and is about to kill him.
    • Sakura does this in episode 5 after Kakashi hit her with a genjutsu that made her see an injured Sasuke.
  • Bleach: Omaeda as he's being chased by Barragan. It's an understandable reaction considering Barragan has the power to age flesh and bone into nothingness. Even more justified in that if even a bit of his black flame touches you, you'll have to remove that part of your body, or you'll die without Barragan needing to put all the flame around you.
    • Dondochakka frequently does this.
    • Keigo in chapter 413 as he's running for his life from Aizen.
    • Hiyori after Hollow Ichigo nearly strangles her to death.
  • Poor Tetsunosuke of Peacemaker Kurogane is prone to enduring traumatic situations such as running for his life so he occasionally lapses into this.
  • Lenalee does this in chapter 88 of D.Gray-Man as the Millennium Earl terrorizes her.
    • Allen also gets these as he's taking a glimpse at Kanda's horrific childhood memories, though "tears of simultaneous fear, frustration, betrayal, and rage" might be a better description.
  • Perfect Blue: Mima during the rape scene, during her Freak Out moment after returning to her apartment, and as she's running for her life from Rumi.
  • Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru: Yuki during episode 13 when his best friend Kanata reveals himself as Big Bad Reiga, tries to kill him with ice spears and he notices Reiga's stabbed Takashiro with the ice slabs because he shielded him.
  • Sukisho: Sora as he's suddenly bombarded with memories of his horrific childhood, as he's struggling not to stab Minato after being mind raped into doing so, and as Minato decides to walk into the knife as his way of atoning for his past sins.
  • A lot of characters in High School Of The Dead do this, what with all the scary zombies running around. A notable example occurs at the beginning when a schoolgirl gets attacked by a zombified student and she starts crying profusely. Her friend soon gets attacked as well and cries in the same fashion.
  • Sousuke of Full Metal Panic! breaks down in tears when he is left behind to be killed by an atomic bomb heading his way, sobbing "I don't want to die." Out of all the horrific things he's seen and near-death experiences he has been through, this is the only time it happens.
  • Numerous ship passengers do this in chapter 55 of Black Butler as they're being chased by zombies.
  • Used in Claymore, the source of the current page pic.
  • Happens at least twice in Franken Fran: to the female spy from chapter 5, and to officer Kuhou in chapter 13. Both times, Fran was about to operate on them, which make the young women's tears more than justified.
  • The class rep does this when being scared in an episode of Ouran High School Host Club.
  • In chapter 13 of No6 Safu has been kidnapped and is in the correctional facility against her will about to be operated on and feels tears come to her eyes upon learning this.
    • Shion does this in episode 3 when he is being taken over by the "wasp".
  • In chapter 16 of Koharu No Hibi Mika does this as she's confronted by Koharu.
  • In Deadman Wonderland Ganta does this understandably as he's being forced to watch the Carnival of Corpses.
  • In SHUFFLE! Asa does this as Kaede is threatening her with a knife.
  • Speed Grapher: A woman does this as a Depraved Dentist approaches her with his "instruments".
  • Fruits Basket: Takei does this after being threatened by Black Haru. Tohru also does this in the woods when she thinks someone ominous is sneaking up on her and she hits the person with her bag but it turns out to be Kyo.
  • Devil & Devil: In volume 1, a young girl has them as she's being transformed into an infant.
  • Casca of Berserk gets these during the Eclipse as she's being confronted by demons as well as when she is raped to insanity.
  • Skuld does this in Ah! My Goddess when Aoshima tries to take her away to rape her.
  • Rosario + Vampire: Two guys do this in chapter 38 of the second manga season after Akuha threatens them.
  • When the Arc Villain Master Hades in Fairy Tail finally manages to lure Big Bad Zeref out of hiding, his pissed off expression alone is enough to render what remains of the Quirky Miniboss Squad paralyzed and crying in terror.
  • In Gakuen Babysitters, all the toddlers have displayed this for comedic effect at one point or another. Kazuma has these the most, being the resident crybaby.
  • Sakuya Kumashiro from Tenchi in Tokyo lets out a mix of this, a brief Big "NO!" and Broken Tears when she's about to be reabsorbed into Yuugi, her creator.

    During a flashback, Yuugi's backstory has her screaming and crying as Empress Hinase seals her away for wrecking havoc around, despite her pleas and her (true) claims that she's terrified of the darkness. In the final episode, Yugi again cries in terror when a fully empowered Tenchi confronts her, screaming "NO, NO! I DON'T WANT TO BE BURIED! NOT AGAIN!".
  • A common response to impending death in Attack on Titan, like it happened to Carla Jaeger right before she was at the receiving end. Quite a few soldiers break down crying at the mere thought of having to actually face the Titans in battle, well aware that they are members of a Redshirt Army.
    • Sasha is prone to this, but still manages to be a Badass Cowardly Lion when the chips are down.
    • Krista can barely contain her tears, she's so terrified of what is to come when she enlists in the Survey Corps.
    • Bertolt weeps hysterically both times that Mikasa tries to kill him. One would hardly blame him.
  • Mami had these in Episode 10 of Puella Magi Madoka Magica when during an earlier timeline, the others found out about the Awful Truth about the fate of the Magical Girl after seeing Sayaka transform into the Witch Oktavia von Seckendorff. After managing to put Sayaka out of her misery, Mami has a Freak Out upon realizing that if that is the fate of all Magical Girls, then it would have better to die as a human (or at least humanlike) rather than suffer as a Witch. The tears she cries after shooting Kyouko were a mix of this and utter despair at being alone again.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia:
    • (North) Italy will start crying when he gets scared, which happens fairly often. His brother, Romano (South Italy) is prone to this as well, just not as frequently.
    • America did this when he was little because England's expression scared him. As an adult, he got teary-eyed from fear while watching horror movies with Japan one night.
  • Pokémon:
    • Chimchar's 'battle' with Paul's Ursaring. Seeing Ursaring bearing down on him with a Hammer Arm not only drives Chimchar to terrified tears, but he passes out. One can hardly blame the little monkey: as if a grizzly bear ten times your size trying to smash him like a pancake isn't bad enough, he was also under the influence of the fear-inducing Secret Power attack. Through the eyes of Chimchar, the already-intimidating Ursaring appeared downright NIGHTMARISH.
  • Mekakucity Actors:
    • Episode 11 shows us a flashback of Ayano's suicide two years ago, and she's shown breaking down into tears just before she goes through with it.
    • Hiyori does this every time she's killed in Episode 4. While she's also shown to be smiling, the horror of each death (hit by a truck, impaled multiple times, falling a great distance) and the fact that she's just a child makes it obvious that she's crying out of fear.

    Comic Books 
  • Near the end of Infinite Crisis, Alexander Luthor Jr. nearly kills Nightwing with a blast of antimatter. Batman is so enraged he's willing to throw away his principles by drawing a gun and presses the barrel right into Alex's forehead, seconds away from blowing his brains out. Forced to face his own mortality after all of his delusions of godhood, Alexander starts tearing up in fear.
  • In All Fall Down, Portia weeps at the climax— not for her own sake, but for what the Modern Prometheus could do to her friends.
  • During one of the first appearances of Venom, Mary Jane underwent this after the former freaked her out and then later Spider-Man, dressed in his black suit (which resembled Venom's of course), was approaching her and she mistook him for the villian. Peter lampshaded this, commenting that Mary Jane was a tough girl and wouldn't easily be scared, so whatever freaked her out like that must have been something truely frightening (as he himself would eventually find out).
  • Issue #20 of The Powerpuff Girls, "Bow Jest," has Blossom losing her hairbow during the girls' battle with Princess Morbucks. Her eyes well up with tears, then she freaks out before going after her bow.
  • Various characters in Fables do this when their lives are in danger or they're badly wounded. Even characters who are recognised badasses do this, and they don't get belittled for it; the comic treats war, violence and death very seriously, and nobody suggests that crying when faced with a horrible death or in terrible pain is the mark of a coward.

    Fanfiction 

    Film 

    Literature 
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Deus Encarmine, Adept Pellis as the Dark Apostle breaks into his rooms.
  • That Hideous Strength: This occurs when Merlin realizes that redemption equals being possessed and killed by an Eldritch Abomination.
  • At one point in The Vor Game, Miles Vorkosigan begins crying in front of the villainous commander of a rival mercenary fleet. She thinks it's hardly in his nature to weep in fear, and she's right; he's just violently allergic to her perfume, which she finds hilarious.
  • In Flashman at the Charge, Flash bawls his eyes out with shock, fear and self-pity after the prince he was minding gets killed. Fortunately for him it is taken for 'manly grief'.
  • In A Series of Unfortunate Events "The Ersatz Elevator" after Esme pushes the children down the elevator shaft they find the Quagmire siblings locked in cages, terrified, and looking like they've been crying.
  • In Teresa Frohock's Miserere: An Autumn Tale, Lindsey asks if it's all right to cry when she's afraid — it doesn't means she's whiney.
  • They aren't shed - big girls don't cry in A Brother's Price - but Princess Rennsaellaer has to blink back tears when her fiance is kidnapped, as she's trying to enact a Roaring Rampage of Rescue.
  • Tash sheds some of these while running from The Virus in Galaxy of Fear: Spore.
  • Myth Adventures: At the very end of Myth-ing Persons Skeeve catches up with Vic, the vampire fugitive he's been chasing for the entire book; when Vic starts crying out of sheer terror, Skeeve realizes that he's been running so hard because he thinks Skeeve is here to kill him.
  • In A Macabre Myth of a Moth-Man, Tony Reisman cries some of these when he learns that he was "impregnated" with hundreds of wasp larvae, which are currently chewing their way out of him through his stomach.

    Live Action TV 
  • River Tam of Firefly often falls into sobbing fits during her worst mental breakdowns and panic attacks, particularly in The Movie.
    • Kaylee (and probably half the audience with her) cries tears of sheer terror in "Objects In Space" when Jubal Early threatens to rape her.
  • In The X-Files episode "Pusher", Scully tears up while trying to desperately pull Mulder from his trance induced by a crazy man who can will people to do things with his mind. Actually, both Mulder and Scully are near tears in that scene, as Mulder is forced to include Scully in his and Modell's game of Russian Roulette.
  • Shirley Bellinger of Oz does this right before she is hanged.
  • A lot of the characters cry in this manner in the season seven finale episode "Sanctuary" of Grey's Anatomy. Rather understandable really, seeing as how there's a shooter in the hospital.
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?: The character Joyce does this in the episode "the Tale of the Vacant Lot" as she finds disgusting marks on her body as a result of a Deal with the Devil.
  • Supernatural: Misha Collins (no, not Castiel, Misha Collins) in The French Mistake.
  • In Prison Break Tweener does this in his cell while T-Bag serenades him and says that he's "coming for you."
  • LOST: In the first episode Kate is scared to the point of tears of the whatever-it-is that tore the pilot out of the plane.
  • In the season 2 finale of Game of Thrones, Sam sobs in fear when he meets a White Walker and his army of wights.
  • Doctor Who
    • The Doctor's eyes are noticeably damp during his Mind Rape in "Midnight".
    • Same with Donna when she's in the circle of mirrors in "Turn Left".
    • Clara is fighting to control these in Deep Breath when the Monster of the Week is threatening her with death and torture. She freely admits to being "bloody terrified of dying", but while her composure cracks badly her wits remain unimpaired.

    Video Games 

    Webcomics 
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: Happens to Annie and Parley when they face Jeanne in the etheric world in chapter 30.
  • This probably explains Karkat's reaction in Homestuck to seeing Gamzee apparently advance upon him while holding the Warhammer of Zillyhoo. (Contrast to other characters in both Homestuck and Problem Sleuth, who've also shed tears at the sight of the hammer, but purely out of wonderment at its sheer splendor.)

    Western Animation 
  • Shaggy and Scooby-Doo have done this a few times.
  • In Teen Titans:
    • Terra does this at the end of the second "Aftershock" episode.
    • Raven in "The End".
  • A barely teenaged Zuko of Avatar: The Last Airbender does this in the flashback which explains how he got his scar. Ozai is about to burn him as punishment for talking back to him, the camera shows a Zuko who turns to look at his father while about to cry in complete terror... These are simultaneously tears of absolute heartbreak, given he's being forced to face the fact that his father doesn't love him at all. He goes back into denial about it for a few years afterward, though.
    • Another example is Toph (who is blind) crying when she and Sokka are hanging from the airship. With only Sokka's hand for contact - and her grip slipping - she cannot see a thing, and only knows she's high in the air.
    • Katara also does this when Hama controlled her with bloodbending.
  • Doug Funnie in the episode, "Doug's Secret Song"
  • Randy Marsh does this in the South Park episode "Sarcastaball" during a brief breakaway from the "sarcasm sickness" that's taking over him.

    Real Life 
  • Roger Ebert noticed this when he first reviewed Night of the Living Dead with a predominately child audience. He noticed that this trope was happening a lot with the kids inadvertently experiencing the first really serious horror film of its era.

Talking the Monster to DeathDrama TropesTeen Drama
Tears of BloodTear TropesTears of Joy
Tears of BloodEye TropesTechnicolor Eyes
Team Hand StackBody LanguageTears of Remorse
The So-Called CowardFear TropesTerror Hero
Mouth Stitched ShutImageSource/Anime & MangaCode:Breaker
Tears from a StoneSadness TropesTears of Remorse
Talking to ThemselfMadness TropesThousand-Yard Stare

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