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Biting the Handkerchief

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So sad, yet so delicious.

When mere tears simply aren't enough to indicate how melodramatically melancholy a character is, they can show just how upset they are by clenching the center of a handkerchief in their teeth, gripping the rest of it in their hands, and stretching it tightly as they weep. Sometimes, when things go completely south, the character may inadvertently tear the center right out of the handkerchief, the torn patch of cloth dangling from their teeth like a dog that's just taken a bite out of the mailman's backside.

Almost always an indicator of over-the-top comedic levels of sadness. Almost always reserved for cute female characters. This can, however, rarely occur in the chivalrous guy of the group.

The trope derives from traditions in Kabuki Theater. Not related to Returning the Handkerchief, and has absolutely nothing to do with "biting the pillow".


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ai Yori Aoshi: Mayu's Imagine Spot where she makes a perfect lunch for Kaoru includes Tina doing this.
  • Anpanman: The two most commonly seen doing this is fairly flamboyant Kabuki actor Daikon Yakusha and Katsudonman, the most modern and romantic member of the Donburiman Trio.
  • B-Shock has a male example in chapter 2; hanky-biter Goshona, Hatsune's fiancé, isn't particularly chivalrous, though. Here, the trope is used more to show his histrionic streak and lack of manly virtues than anything else.
  • Kuroko Shirai does this in the second seasons of A Certain Scientific Railgun when Saten suggests that the reason she's been gone most nights is because of a man.
  • Cheeky Angel: Keiko plots to make Megumi bite her handkerchief.
  • Chi's Sweet Home: Chi, the kitten, often bites and tears cushions and such when upset.
  • In Delicious Party♡Pretty Cure, upon Kome-Kome reaching her child form, Rosemary's reaction is to do this while crying Ocular Gusher Tears of Joy.
  • Excel♡Saga: Seen a couple of times.
  • Eyeshield 21: Mamori does this, not out of comedic, over-the-top sadness, but comedic, over-the-top vindictive rage.
  • Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA: Luvia does this when explaining how her Talking Weapon Sapphire abandoned her and made a contract with someone else.
  • Genshiken: When Ohno has her spying on a new club member unknowingly thwarted by Saki, she pulls down and bites on a surgical mask that she had been using to hide her face.
  • Glass Mask: When Maya does this to express sadness in a play competition, the crowd and judges are actually impressed. But Glass Mask's definition of dramatic genius usually translates as overacting, anyway.
  • Hayate the Combat Butler has Nishizawa do this upon dropping her food.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers: France does this when thinking about his situation in the war.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry: Mion did this when she spoke with her twin sister Shion, admitting her feelings for Keichii and complaining that she couldn't compete with Rena's cuteness.
  • Idaten Jump: During one of the chibi sequences at the end Kakeru is seen doing this out of frustration for not getting his own Idaten Bike.
  • Kanamemo: Yuuki does this with a spoon in the first episode when she thinks that her girlfriend,Yume is being too close to some of the other female characters. But Yume notices and swings over to kiss Yuuki, thus deflating any tension before it can really build.
  • Kimi ni Todoke: Chizu often bites onto one whenever someone does something overly emotional.
  • Koihime†Musou: Jun'iku can be relied on to do this any time Sousou is paying attention to a woman other than her.
  • Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi: Both Arumi and her father do it in the "War" episode.
  • Maze Megaburst Space has Mill doing this.
  • In the promo short-short My-HiME vs. My-Otome, Mai is shown with tears like waterfalls and biting a handkerchief as she bemoans the monsters that she had to face in her series.
  • Nyaruko: Crawling with Love!: Nyarko-san can be seen doing this in the background after Mahiro *gasp* gets a kiss on the cheek from another girl.
  • One Piece:
    • Sanji is seen doing this when "his" precious Nami-san gets terribly ill. Complete with snivelling and fat tear drops.
    • As about half of the crew gets spirited away by a Super Express Lobster, Sanji watches Nami through some binoculars, realizes that she is wearing a T-shirt instead of a tank top, and bites his shirt instead.
  • Oresuki: Tampopo does this when her first matchmaking plan goes nowhere and she gets subjected to Accidental Misnaming.
  • PandoraHearts: Oz sort of does this to a pillow (not like that), out of intense frustration.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • In the Indigo League episode "Holy Matrimony!", Brock is seen doing this after hearing James' sad childhood tale involving his Growlithe.
    • Also Done by Marilyn in "Battling a Cute Drama."
    • Burgundy in "The Club Battle Hearts of Fury, Emolga Versus Sawk" also does it while insulting Cilan and his Pokémon food, and she gets attacked by Snivy for it.
    • Bianca does this in "Emolga the Irresistible" once Iris catches an Emolga that Bianca wanted to catch.
  • Prétear: Occurs twice in the third episode; first done by Mayune out of frustration as she chases Hayate, and a little later Yayoi goes melodramatic when talking to her and bites Mayune's bathrobe. Mayune also does this once in the manga, when she is jealous.
  • Exaggerated in Puni Puni☆Poemi: Futaba nearly rips the handkerchief in two.
  • Ranma ½:
    • Kodachi does this from time to time.
    • So does Girl-type Ranma. Subverted in that, in both cases, it's a deliberate ploy to make someone else feel horribly guilty or uncomfortable. In Ranma's case, it's also used at times for a more seductive type of manipulation.
    • Not to mention Tsubasa, a crossdressing guy who acts the part of a cute girl to the hilt.
  • The Rose of Versailles: Nanny does this a bit, particularly in episode 18.
  • Usagi resorts to this in the Sailor Moon Super S movie, when engaged in a discussion with Mamoru about his feelings for Chibi-Usa.
  • SHUFFLE!: A bizarre, unnamed man (known only as the "Handkerchief Man") occasionally makes an appearance in the background doing this after the harem lead narrowly avoids being annihilated by the girls' fan clubs. No other characters notice him until the last episode.
  • Tenchi Muyo!: Episode 13 of the OVA has Misaki doing this in the scene where Azusa is first introduced.
  • Tomo-chan Is a Girl!: The play features this trope from Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters while watching her dance with the prince (played by Tomo, of course) at the ball.
  • UFO Baby: Miyu did this in the Cinderella episode, and Christine and other fans of the prince Kanata bit their hankies and wept during a special dance for the prince and his chosen girl.
  • Nana in We Were There, the various times her abusive boyfriend makes her cry.
  • Yo Kai Watch: One episode has Katie inspirited by Minochi making her jealous and does this whenever Nate does that something that involves other people instead of paying attention to her.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Done on occasion by the extremely effeminate Professor Chronos De Mediciz/Dr. Vellion Crowler in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, though done as a means of frustration.
    • And also by Vivian Wong when Rebecca trounces her in the original show.

  • Surprisingly, this turns up (played seriously) in a scene in Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep; Vivian Regan bites her handkerchief in a moment of extreme stress.
  • In Going Postal, Moist von Lipwig does this after promising to follow through on a suicidal boast. More related to outright terror than sadness, but the overacting is still there.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Kamen Rider Drive:
    • In the seventeenth episode, Big Bad troupe member Brain bites his handkerchief in jealous rage at seeing fellow Big Bad Medic heal Heart and be more useful. He does it again in the non-canon Kamen Rider Brain special during the airing of Kamen Rider Zi-O when told by Krim that the "600" that is meant to refer to him does not mean his IQ as he thought, but gigabytes, as in his storage capacity, a paltry amount for any storage device in 2019, let alone an advanced AI such as him. Naturally, Brain doesn't take that double whammy well.
    • In Kamen Rider Drive Saga: Kamen Rider Chaser, which takes place shortly before Drive's finale, after enduring a triple Spit Take from Shinnosuke, Kiriko, and Mr. Belt in reaction to Chase smiling and laughing happily, after gaining emotions, Gou tries to lunge at Chase in sheer bewilderment of the whole thing, but Chase obliviously dodges, resulting in Gou enacting this trope with the towel he was using to wipe himself off.
  • Lessons for a Perfect Detective Story: In the second episode, Osuma gives a false confession for Seichiro's death. Akira starts crying and biting on his handkerchief believing Osuma really did it and they'd be separated.

    Video Games 
  • Mario Party has the players in first and last place play a victory or losing animation. DK's losing animation has him doing this with his tie.
  • Puyo Puyo: Raffina does this as her losing animation.
  • Umineko: Golden Fantasia: This is what Ange does during Virgilia and Beatrice's team ending.

    Visual Novels 
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney has a few variations of this — in the first game, Jake Marshall does this with a piece of beef jerky. In the second game, Ini Miney bites her hat and stretches it between her hands when she's flustered during questioning. When she starts getting really agitated you can see holes forming; from the look of things, that cheesy beret is made of some kind of foam rubber.

  • Homestuck:
    • Cat Girl Nepeta bites her kitty cap in frustration after her moirail told her not to associate with the lower classes.
    • Eridan also does it with his scarf when he realizes how painfully obvious his Caliginous feelings towards Sollux are.
    swweet stinkin murder i am truly pathetic arent i

    Web Animation 
  • Manga Soprano: A 40-year-old Erica bites on a Puni handkerchief when her potential suitors fled because they were half her age, or a partner who is actually her age came on to her.