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Trying Not to Cry

"So of course as a young boy, I'm sitting there thinking 'I'm tough. It's just a cartoon. It ain't gonna leave an impact on me. (Grumpy starts to cry) Oh no, not Grumpy. Not Grumpy, no he was the tough one! Not Grumpy, not Gr—oh there's no hope for humanity!'"

Basically, it's trying to hold back any crying in a situation. The simple fact is that tears are often seen as a sign of weakness. Therefore characters hold them back to try to be strong, either to appear so as an example to others or because it's expected of certain people.

Now often people will fail at this, because the grief is too strong for them to hold back, or because they reach a breaking point. Other times the grief may manifest in other ways if it's held in too long. Sometimes the grief can eventually be let out through Manly Tears.

One of the most common forms is if someone says "I promised myself I wouldn't cry".

Compare Sand in My Eyes, Men Don't Cry, Stiff Upper Lip, Rage Breaking Point, He Will Not Cry, so I Cry for Him.

Contrast Ocular Gushers, Unable to Cry.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga 
  • The reason why Yoshiko Fujisawa from Captain Tsubasa didn't want to face Matsuyama and her team after their loss to Nankatsu was basically her fear to cry in front of them. Considering that she was about to be put on a plane, that would be the last time she'd see them.
    • Also, this is why Kumi Sugimoto ran away from Tsubasa after he gently but firmly rejects her affections
  • After Satoko of Higurashi: When They Cry parents, she cried easily and became overly reliant on her big brother Satoshi. After he disappeared under mysterious circumstances, Satoko convinced herself that he had run away because she was too much of a burden for him, and she resolved never to cry or depend on others in the hope that Satoshi might return one day. This is the reason she gives for refusing to cry even when she's being tortured to death by the maddened Shion, who actually calls her out on her crybaby past while torturing her. For the record, Satoko is still just a prepubescent girl when this happens.
  • Mai-Otome: When Arika Yumemiya finally meets her long-dead mother (revived to participate in Grand Duke Nagi's plan to bring down the Otome), she thinks she'd have a lot to say, but after introducing herself ("Look, mom! I'm an Otome! Doesn't it suit me?"), she finds she can't bring herself to say the rest. Queen Mashiro looks on and, knowing that they must destroy Lena to free the Otome, admonishes herself that she promised she wouldn't cry anymore. Of course, she and the audience have trouble keeping that promise. Showing Arika finally embracing her mother for one first and last moment doesn't help that promise, either...
  • Chillingly deconstructed in (what else?) Neon Genesis Evangelion. After the nightmarish circumstances surrounding her mother's demise, Asuka swore to herself that she will never cry or depend on someone else ever again. When she breaks this during her Mind Rape (sobbing and calling out for Kaji), she gets a very nasty mental breakdown that eventually drives her comatose.
  • In Sailor Moon, just before Mamoru gets put on a plane Usagi comes to say good-bye to him at the airport. She starts crying and says "Oh no! I wanted to see you off with a smile!"
  • In The World God Only Knows, this occurred on the very same chapter / episode of the Goddesses Arc: FLAG 189 / Episode 12. Chihiro, despite having made a cheerful proclamation at the beginning of her band's performance, completely breaks down to tears at the end of the concert, after having sung a song that was completely about Keima.

     Comic Books 
  • In Preacher, Jessie Custer as a child swore never to cry again after Jodie called him a "fucking little crybaby" when Jodie shot his father right in front of Jessie. At the very end of the series, Jessie cries as he begs Tulip to give their relationship one more chance as she is about to leave him. The tears more than anything convince Tulip that he means it.
  • In the last volume of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman during Morpheus' funeral, the witch Thessaly reminisces on her past relationship with the king of Dreams and mentions that she swore never to cry for him, with tears streaming down her cheeks.

     Film — Animated 
  • Subverted in Ice Age 3 - Dawn of the Dinosaurs after Peaches is born.
    Crash (choked up): I promised myself I wouldn't cry! (And he keeps his emotions under control)
    Eddie: I didn't! (and starts crying)
  • Puss in Boots in Shrek 2, watching Fiona and Shrek choose to remain ogres together instead of being beautiful.
    "Whatever happens, I must not cry. You cannot make...me...cry..." (gives up)
  • Treasure Planet
  • The scene mentioned in the page quote, when Grumpy tries —and fails— to keep from breaking down in tears over Snow White's casket. If you didn't cry, you don't have... Oh, what the hell are we saying? You totally cried at that.

     Film — Live Action 
  • Parodied in Wayne's World 2, right down to Wayne saying "I promised myself I wouldn't cry!"
  • Star Trek Into Darkness:
    • Spock reveals that he felt nothing on a mission when he thought he was going to die, because he didn't want to think about how much it would hurt Uhura.
    • When Kirk is dying of radiation, Spock cannot hold back his grief any longer.
  • In 9 To 5, one of Judy Bernley's co-workers is fired for privately discussing wage differences with another co-worker in the bathroom while Frank Hart's assistant is snooping on them. As she is busy packing up her things from her desk, she tells Judy, "I promised myself that I wouldn't cry!"

    Literature 
  • Little Women: Jo promises herself (and Laurie) she won't cry at Meg's wedding.
  • Played straight in North & South by Clarissa Main as her son and nephew go off to war.
  • Happens a lot in Elinor M Brent-Dyer's Chalet School books, due to the Stiff Upper Lip attitude that was common at the time. Of course, it isn't always successful, especially considering what some of the girls go through. Ruey Richardson, for instance, tries her hardest not to cry about her Mad Scientist father going missing in space, but eventually it gets too much and she has to be comforted by Joey.

     Live Action Television 
  • In Smallville, Allison Mack is the only one who pulls it off believably with Chloe Sullivan, many times. It makes the few times when she breaks down and sobs uncontrollably all the more tear jerking.
  • Parodied on The Daily Show on March 19, 2010, when Jon Stewart viciously sent up Glenn Beck. "I promised myself I would cry..."
  • Hilariously invoked in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Homecoming."
  • Parodied in an episode of Off Centre.
  • The Doctor Who episode "A Good Man Goes to War", when Rory meets his baby daughter. "I was gonna be cool..."
  • Parodied in Malcolm in the Middle, when the family discovers that evil Grandma Ida has been drugging a rich Chinese man and plans to marry him, she uses all her pills to drug everyone with a buffet. They're all left in a state of blissful naivete, calmly and happily commenting on what a monster Ida is. The Chinese man, however, snaps out of it before the marriage is official and runs off, leaving Ida on the floor sobbing. Hal, drugged and beginning to cry, mentions "I promised I wasn't going to do this" as he watches Ida wallow in her misery.
  • Parodied in King of Queens, when Carrie joins a model family advertising a house, and gets a little too attached to her pretend children.
    Carrie: We have to spend time as a family! Before you know it, you guys are gonna be out of the house and... (chokes back tears) Stopstopstopstopstop...
  • Played for laughs with Gus in Psych. He's a sympathetic crier.
  • Punky Brewster: Punky tries not to cry when she says goodbye to Allen in "Divorce, Anderson Style." When Allen leaves, Punky loses it.
  • An episode of Small Wonder had Vicki falling for a computer that had to be deactivated due to a faulty program. When asked if she's okay, Vicki says that she isn't programmed to cry, but the final shot is a close of her face with a tear running down her cheek.
  • In the Supernatural episode "What Is And What Should Never Be" (S02, Ep20), Dean almost loses it when he hugs his mother.

     Video Games 
  • In Devil May Cry 3, after killing her father, Arkham, Lady says this as she starts crying.
  • In Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, Maxim's childhood friend Tia was once a girl who burst into tears easily, until one day, she decided to stop crying. In the ending, she finally starts crying again when she senses Maxim's death.
  • In Tokimeki Memorial 2, Played very straight in the Happy Ending of the Protagonist's Victorious Childhood Friend Hikari Hinomoto :
    Hikari: That time... when you moved away... I cried a lot. Every single day... I cried continuously. But then, I realized that I should stop crying, because when we meet again one day, if I am still a cry baby, you would hate this. So I thought I'd do my best not be to be a cry baby... That's why... on that school entrance day, when I met you again, I did not cry in front of you, as I promised myself. But, today, with the graduation just around the corner, I...
    Protagonist: Hikari...
    Hikari: I kept remembering about that time, that time when you moved away... I find it hard to breathe, and drown with sadness. { Hikari's eyes start to well up with tears} When I think that you will disappear in front of me, the tears... come out... {the welling up gets bigger} I don't want it, to be like this, to be like this... because I LOVE YOU !
  • When Sue has to leave and go home in Grandia, she tries to hold back the tears, but burst into sobs as she insists she doesn't want to cry.
  • Near the end of Little Busters!, Kyousuke tells Riki that he needs to be strong and not cry anymore. Moments later when they finally part and Riki awakens at the site of the bus crash to drag him and Rin away from it, leaving the rest of their friends for the dead to save their own lives, all Riki can think is to apologise to Kyousuke that he couldn't stop himself.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) has Princess Elise, a young girl who was told by her father since childhood to never cry since doing so (unbeknownst to her of course) would release the fiery god, Iblis, from her body and destroy the world. You can see several times throughout the game where Elise almost cries, but quickly gets reassured by Sonic that things will be ok and she just has to smile. However, when Sonic gets killed by Mephiles, Elise can't contain her emotions any longer and wails over Sonic's death, which releases Iblis and merges with Mephiles to reform the sun god and devourer of time, Solaris.

     Web Original 
  • Said by Sarge when he leaves Lopez in Episode 9 of Red vs. Blue Reconstruction.
  • When Bennett The Sage discusses the end of The Iron Giant, he says that he keeps telling himself he's not gonna cry, but still ends up doing so.

    Webcomic 

     Western Animation 
  • In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode Requiem for a Scarlet Speedster, the Weather Wizard invokes this trope when the Rogues see The Flash, whom they thought was dead, return at the end of the episode.
  • Xandir in Drawn Together, in the episode where he came out of the closet.
  • From The Simpsons when Bart and Lisa were about to head off to Kamp Krusty:
    Marge: It's our last family dinner for six weeks, but I promised myself I wouldn't cry.
    (The rest of the family starts loudly chowing down on their food)
    Marge: (starts sobbing) Oh, I'm going to miss this!
  • In Total Drama World Tour, Sierra says "I promised myself I wouldn't cry" word-for-word, because she believed her Love Interest Cody was sleeping with Heather.
  • Bubbles of The Powerpuff Girls invokes this and makes good on it in the episode "Bubblevicious." Having gone "hardcore," she is captured by Mojo Jojo and subjected to a painful ray which Bubbles takes up to level 11 before she breaks free and kicks Mojo's ass.
    Bubbles: I'm...not...gonna...cry...you...big...DOO-DOO BRAIN!!!
    • Later in the series in the episode "All Chalked Up," Bubbles looks as if she wants to lay an unholy smackdown on Buttercup for destroying her colored chalk. But just as she and Buttercup face each other in a tense moment, Bubbles flies off into the woods crying her heart out.

     Real Life 
  • Wayne Gretzky said this when that whole trading deal was going on.
  • David Tennant on his last day on the set of Doctor Who.
  • This often happens at tennis Grand Slam finals, as the runners up have to make speeches just minutes after going through the emotionally crushing ordeal of falling at the final hurdle. Players fight the tears both so that they can speak, but also because crying can detract from the winner's victory. Notable examples include:
    • Wimbledon 2012: Andy Murray was denied his first Slam for a fourth time, in front of a home crowd. He stumbled through an emotional speech, having to break off frequently when his voice failed and in the end he was pretty much the only one in the stadium not crying.
    • Australian Open 2009: Rafael Nadal prevented good friend and rival Roger Federer from winning a record equalling 15th Slam. Federer, known for having Nerves of Steel and always being a Graceful Loser, broke down sobbing. He managed to fight the tears for the trophy presentation, but lost it again and aborted his speech, obviously angry with himself for tarnishing Nadal's moment of glory. Nadal pulled him into a hug and Federer got himself together, finishing the speech by talking about what a great champion Nadal was.
    • Not a Grand Slam final, but it still counts: In the quarterfinals of the 2012 French Open, 5th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had an extremely tough opponent in the form of then-World No. 1 Novak Djokovic. Amazingly, he actually came within one point of defeating the World No. 1 and pulling off a miracle upset in front of his countrymen...only for Djokovic to kill every one of his four match points and steamroll over him in the final set, which left Tsonga so shattered that he hid his face in a towel for several minutes after the match.

Tender TearsTear TropesUnable to Cry

alternative title(s): I Promised Myself I Wouldnt Cry
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