Misused: Tear Jerker

Total posts: [38]
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The Robot Extravaganza
(Well, first of all, I'm new to having an account on this site, and I am also a complete derp, so if I fail at posting in this forum, I apologize. Please do not rip off my face because of noob rage.)

So, one of the things I've noticed on this site is the misuse of the "Tear Jerker" moniker. A good chunk of examples that go on a show(/film/book/whatever)'s Tear Jerker page belong under Heartwarming instead, and a lot of Heartwarming examples also list themselves as Tear Jerkers — and it's usually not because said example is simultaneously both sad AND heartwarming, but simply because the example itself is worthy of a few tears being shed, regardless of the emotion and reasoning behind them.

While I understand that the term "tear jerker" usually has a connotation of tragedy or sadness, it feels like the term is being misused and/or misunderstood on tvtropes. The trope itself is supposed to be used as examples of sad moments, but I suppose the title must come off to some people as simply being indicative of the emotional reaction it's named for.

I'm not saying the two tropes should never be used together; a particular moment can be both heartwarming and sad, and if it is, it thus deserves to go under both tropes. However, if the moment itself is simply a happy one that causes a few joyful tears to be shed in some, it doesn't belong under Tear Jerker, and unfortunately that misunderstanding seems to occur frequently. I suggest either a name change (though I'll be the first one to admit that would probably be a pain in the ass), or a greater emphasis that Tear Jerker = sad moment, Tear Jerker ≠ emotional moment, regardless of emotion, that is worthy of tears.

(Thanks for taking the time to read my crappy first post. I hope it wasn't too awful. So, questions? Comments? Concerns? Personal Advertisements?)
2 SeptimusHeap2nd Mar 2013 12:51:12 PM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
Yeah, with over 11000 wicks, this name really isn't changing.

That said, I have never seen any misuse like you described, although it might be a coincidence.

I've seen a bit of misuse of Tear Jerker as Heartwarming, but not to the extent you described. Just fix it when you see it, leave a clear edit reason, and it should be fine.
A Tear Jerker is just that...

Some things listed count as both, Tear Jerker and Crowning Moment of Heartwarming (Or Crowning Moment of something else)
<3 I wuv Hitsugaya x Hinamori <3
The thing is that both heartwarming and tearjerking moments are subjective tropes that go on Your Mileage May Vary Tab or the respective sub-pages. I really don't see a big problem here if they are kept where they belong, ideally with a good explanation why they feel heartwarming or tearjerking or why this overlaps.

I personally do recall such moments from fiction when I felt such intense heartwarmth that it brought tears.

The problem is listing or potholing them on the main page which of course is a no-no and everybody who sees that should delete them.

edited 4th Mar '13 12:18:30 PM by XFllo

6 SeptimusHeap4th Mar 2013 12:33:21 PM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
The problem in the last line is not TRS job, though. Short Term Projects, and it's not really such a big issue that it would warrant all the effort.
7 EditorPallMall4th Mar 2013 12:42:18 PM from United States, East Coast
Don't Fear the Spiders
My honest opinion? Both are People Sit on Chairs. So common that they should be cut.

Or perhaps make a super trope to list different ways media draws a heartwarming (aka tear jerking) reaction.

edited 4th Mar '13 12:43:44 PM by EditorPallMall

Keep it breezy!
[up][up]Yes. Sorry, I couldn't help myself and had to mention it. Shame on me. However, I think this trope doesn't really suffer. I never felt it misused because, hey, whatever works for you, fellow tropers, what makes me cry may leave you absolutely untouched, and reversed.

[up] No way! This wiki collects audience reactions, and I think some of the pages are really worthy.

edited 4th Mar '13 12:45:36 PM by XFllo

9 EditorPallMall4th Mar 2013 12:58:12 PM from United States, East Coast
Don't Fear the Spiders
[up] Audience reactions are perfectly acceptable to catalog. However, basic emotions audiences experience through entertainment, under the principle of People Sitting on Chairs is too basic to be a trope and factoring the shear volume these sorts of entries collect, should not get their own collections of articles.

However, I doubt they will go away giving their popularity.

Anyway, it has occurred to me that perhaps these two particular tropes are too similar to be separate. For that reason, maybe we can try merging them?

edited 4th Mar '13 12:59:49 PM by EditorPallMall

Keep it breezy!
10 SeptimusHeap4th Mar 2013 12:58:25 PM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
They are way too big for any such action.

edited 4th Mar '13 12:59:35 PM by SeptimusHeap


I really don't want them merged because some tearjerkers are just tearjerkers. When a beloved character dies and his best friend is heart-broken, and there is nobody to comfort him, it's just sad and utterly heart-breaking, but there is no heart-warmth to be felt.

When a beloved character is dying and he decides to fight his disease, and he tries to live the rest of his life to the fullest, spending it with his best friend... That might feel both heart-warming and tear-jerking.

When there is The Cutie being cute and stuff, that is probably just heartwarming. There might be some people who might be moved to tears just by the sight of a cute child who draws a picture for his parents, but people will probably not call it a tearjerker.

edited 4th Mar '13 1:17:43 PM by XFllo

12 EditorPallMall4th Mar 2013 01:16:13 PM from United States, East Coast
Don't Fear the Spiders
If we do not merge them (although I see no reason why we cannot - 'Heartfelt Moments' would work as an umbrella name and a bot can be programmed to change the names of all the wiks; or if that is not possible simply be patient and let the editing process take its time), can it be shown there is significant difference between the two tropes? Can we see what percentage of these tropes overlap?
Keep it breezy!
13 SeptimusHeap4th Mar 2013 01:18:24 PM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
Heartwarming is happy, tearjerker is sad. Completely different emotions, there.
Tearjerker = Sad Moments. Not a trope by any stretch of the imagination but something we catalog to keep people coming.

We also have Awesome Moments, Heartwarming Moments, Funny Moments and Scary Moments. We don't have Sexy Moments quite yet, but we probably will in the end.

All of these will benefit from further clarifications that they're not tropes.
15 SeptimusHeap4th Mar 2013 01:24:15 PM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
We have Sexy Moments: Fetish Fuel. It got examples removed because a list of sexy stuff (as opposed to a list of sad stuff) was deemed too icky.

16 EditorPallMall4th Mar 2013 01:34:13 PM from United States, East Coast
Don't Fear the Spiders
So is it agreed that a Tear Jerker moment and a Heartwamring moment are mutually exclusive? Because the trope articles are inconsistent in that regard. Heartwarming says "Contrast Tear Jerker." while Tear Jerker lists Heartwarming as a possible subtrope. Also Heartwarming is apparently apart of the Tear Jerker index.

Also, if they are mutually exclusive, "bittersweet moments" would need to be purged from both articles. While I could be mean and say YEAH - probably a better idea would be to agree there is some overlap between the two or make a Bittersweet moments section if we want to take moments to their logical conclusion. Note I'd rather we didn't make any new "moments" section if it can be helped.

edited 4th Mar '13 1:34:58 PM by EditorPallMall

Keep it breezy!
17 Madrugada4th Mar 2013 01:40:34 PM , Relationship Status: In season
No, it's not agreed.

I disagree that Heartwarming is only happy, in the "yippee-skippee, makes me want to smile" sense of happy. A heartwarming moment can have elements of sadness in it.

The only problem that I see that has been claimed to exist so far is "I don't like the way these are handled."

And don't worry, we won't be making any new Moments pages. We haven't in at least a couple of years.

edited 4th Mar '13 1:41:44 PM by Madrugada

...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.
18 SeptimusHeap4th Mar 2013 01:42:41 PM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
The only problem that I see that has been claimed to exist so far is "I don't like the way these are handled."

Not sure what you mean.
19 EditorPallMall4th Mar 2013 02:02:24 PM from United States, East Coast
Don't Fear the Spiders
The main article for Heartwarming does not say anything about sad moments counting as Heartwrming moments. In fact one part specifically implies it's solely about the happy moments:

"Tears, if any, are primarily tears of joy &/or emotional relief, not sadness. Some examples include tears shed at weddings, when babies are born, when parents come home from wars, when your kids graduate, when lost kids at the mall find their parents, when the world has gone to hell and someone holds you and tells you it will be okay, etc."

Judging by that, you can have bittersweet moments in Heartwarming but not downright sad moments. Sad moments would be Tear Jerkers. The list of tropes for both articles, sans Heartwarming itself under Tear Jerkers, support this idea as well - more so with Heartwarming.

This could work as a guideline for distinguishing between the two. Does not necessarily need to be a strict rule.

edited 4th Mar '13 2:02:47 PM by EditorPallMall

Keep it breezy!
20 AnotherDuck4th Mar 2013 02:11:22 PM from Stockholm , Relationship Status: In season
No, the other one.
...under the principle of People Sitting On Chairs is too basic to be a trope...
There is no such thing as too basic to be a trope. Lacking meaning, yes, but basic, simple, or common? No. The Protagonist is very common, basic, and simple. It's still a trope. A moment meant to evoke feelings after any pattern is a trope.

However, these pages aren't quite defined as such, and rather just as "this moment made me feel like this", which isn't a trope. But of all the non-tropes, I think these are among the more interesting ones and relevant to the site's purpose.

Anyway, they're not mutually exclusive. There's usually more of one of them, but bittersweet moments can certainly have both. And some things can be sad because they are heartwarming, like finding out something that makes a character come off as surprisingly loving, but at the same time, if the character is doomed it makes it more sad than if the character was more of a standard villain.

edited 4th Mar '13 2:13:39 PM by AnotherDuck

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21 EditorPallMall4th Mar 2013 02:33:14 PM from United States, East Coast
Don't Fear the Spiders
[up]Okay, firstly 'moments' are not relevant to this site's purposes of analyzing fiction. It is why we have rules restricting complaining/gushing about shows you do/don't like. Sure the site ventures off to provide trivia knowledge, some Just For Fun articles, and the like; but none of that is for the purpose of analyzing fiction and as such is why they are sectioned off.

Further, these 'moments' only seem to keep causing problems. Mainly archiving and reducing the number of wicks to them. Which is also why there will probably not be any more of them. The only reason the ones that we have exist is because they were Grandfather'ed in before the website became more ordered and concise.

Back on topic, the misuse of Tear Jerker and/or Heartwrming, my real problem in this matter is are we simply creating redundant sections? Evidently many tropers consider a lot of Tear Jerker moments to be Heartwarming as well. My suggestions to make the two distinct seem to get shot down. Fair enough, but then I must ask - since there are happy and sad Heartwarming moments, but only sad Tear Jerker moments, are there any Tear Jerker moments which cannot be considered Heartwarming?

If the answer is no, then Tear Jerker should be considered a subtrope and the examples listed under it should not appear in Heartwarming.

edited 4th Mar '13 2:38:06 PM by EditorPallMall

Keep it breezy!
22 SeptimusHeap4th Mar 2013 02:44:29 PM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
Evidently many tropers consider a lot of Tear Jerker moments to be Heartwarming as well.

I'd like to see some more evidence for this claim. Also, it's not by itself an argument for a merge.
In uffish thought
[S]ince there are happy and sad Heartwarming moments, but only sad Tear Jerker moments, are there any Tear Jerker moments which cannot be considered Heartwarming?


Sad moments that people put under Heartwarming are likely bittersweet — something to warm your heart, something to make you cry. But what about when it's the protagonist's Darkest Hour, her friend just died, there's no way she can stop the villain reaching the MacGuffin, no help comes, it's a Downer Ending. That's a Tear Jerker which is not Heartwarming. I'm really confused as to what you're advocating.
24 SeptimusHeap4th Mar 2013 11:46:06 PM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
Eta: Edited out a problematic statement.

edited 5th Mar '13 2:58:08 PM by SeptimusHeap

My take on this: I don't see any serious misuse in these two subjective tropes that would requite this talk, and I would like to have this TRS discussion closed. There are many other tropes that need badly to go through TRS, and this is just jamming the forum since there is the 100 conversations limit to keep TRS organized.

Total posts: 38
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