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Broken Tears

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A character (sometimes a Stepford Smiler) may be Not Himself and has a breakdown to show this. This may be expressed by laughing, a Broken Smile, being hunched over, having a twitchy eye, messy hair, and the like. In this case, a good way to show that a character is experiencing a mental/nervous/emotional breakdown (sometimes with some Sanity Slippage attached) is to have them feel tears come to their eyes or outright running down their face, often the climax of a severe Break the Cutie ordeal.

Different from Berserker Tears in the sense that the character isn't crying out of rage. See also Villainous Breakdown for the villain that does this although it can sometimes overlap. Often results in a Tear Jerker. Compare Inelegant Blubbering and contrast Manly Tears and Tears of Fear.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Agni's Philosophy: The focus of WITCH Chapter 0 [cry], as the horrors of the previous demo seem to be catching up to Agni. It's hard to notice until the demo zooms in close, but it also shows makeup running around her eyes.
  • Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day: Many a character does this in this anime, leading to a lot of sad moments.
  • Attack on Titan:
    • The Female Titan, aka Annie, sits in the forest defeated and crying after she failed her mission to capture Eren. Shortly after, Eren himself ends up outright sobbing when he comes back from his first mission in the survey corps. With what happened, it's not hard to blame him.
    • One 6 meter aberrant Titan with blond hair and blue eyes notable breaks down crying when Ilyse Yagner yells at him after he displays the ability to talk. Breaches Tear Jerker once you realize that he could likely still have some conscious left as he did not have Sanity Slippage and this trope in effect until after she tells him that the humans are terrified of Titans and do not understand why they eat them.
  • Berserk: During the horrific finale of the Eclipse, Griffith as Femto rapes Casca (Guts' lover) in full view of Guts who's held down and forced to watch it happen. Guts understandably has tears come to his eyes and fall down his face as he's forced to watch the closest thing he's had to a friend utterly betray him and it's the last sight his right eye sees.
    • Casca cries too throughout her entire horrible ordeal, not only being raped but being put through supreme agony because of her Brand being in very close proximity to a newly-minted member of the Godhand, one of the five most powerful and evil demons in the entire Berserk universe.
  • Orihime of Bleach does this at times most notably as a result of Ichigo, whom she is in love with. If not as a result of Ichigo, it happens when her friends are hurt or she's under too much stress, especially in the Hueco Mundo and Lust arcs.
    • Also, Rukia is revealed to have gone through this when she had to kill Kaien. In the third movie, she also cries when Homura and Shizuku die.
    • Even Ichigo falls into this once, at the height of his Break the Cutie process in the X-Cution arc.
    • Momo does this during her Break the Cutie ordeals, and Rangiku when Gin dies.
  • CLANNAD: There is a scene where there was a bus crash and Kotomi has a breakdown, complete with her in a fetal position, crying and muttering "I will be a good girl."
  • Code Geass:
    • Nina Einstein does this during her Freak Out moment after learning of Euphemia's death.
    • Suzaku also does this during Euphemia's death and after he kills Lelouch in the final episode.
    • Nunnally succumbs to these as well when Lelouch dies right next to her in the finale, lamenting about how she can't possibly look forward to a brighter future without her brother, despite the fact that said brother arranged his own death to achieve world peace.
  • Jeremy, for like, half the story in A Cruel God Reigns.
  • Yo Hinomura aka The Freeman in the Crying Freeman Anime, Manga and the Live-Action Film cries whilst carrying out the murders he's forced to perform by the post-hypnotic suggestions of the 108 Dragons Triad.
  • Ganta of Deadman Wonderland breaks down crying simultaneously these, and Tears of Fear in the anime when Tamaki shows Ganta the ropes of Carnival Corpse by strapping him down to a chair, holding his eyes open A Clockwork Orange-style and making him watch footage of previous battles.
  • Death Note:
    • Light in the final episode after Matsuda shoots him. He has a breakdown and cries while musing that he has no other choice left but to die.
    • Mikami also has a breakdown upon seeing Light in such a broken pathetic state, has tears at the corners of his eyes, and ultimately commits suicide by stabbing himself with a pen.
  • The plot of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is kicked off when Tanjiro Kamado's entire family except for his sister Nezuko is killed by a demon. Nezuko turns into a demon herself, and the very first thing she does is try to kill Tanjiro. Tanjiro, who's barely holding her back with the handle of his axe, can only beg her not to give in and become the bloodthirsty monster all other demons are. And it works since Nezuko relents and starts crying upon realizing what her newfound hunger for human flesh almost drove her to do.
  • Vegeta cries in Dragon Ball Z due to the fact that Frieza could vanquish him so easily even after everything he did to turn the tables. What he said in Goku's vision during the fight sums it up nicely: "I dreamt— I yearned to be the one to avenge us, yet he battered and broke me just like he did the others. You cannot know the agony of that." Can be seen as Dramatic Irony given that the ruthless most evil self-absorbed Saiyan Anti-Hero is begging Goku to empathize with the other Saiyans that tried and failed to defeat Frieza.
  • Kouta of Elfen Lied does this after he has a Freak Out after watching Lucy kill his father and sister.
  • Vincent Law of Ergo Proxy cries quite a bit over the course of the series. After Proxy One forces Vincent to face the reality that he is a Proxy, Vincent can be seen lying on his back, weeping while looking up at the sky.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Both Minerva and Midnight of Sabertooth and Oracion Seis respectively do this after Erza Scarlet curb-stomps them both.
    • Lucy screams and bawls as she breaks Aquarius's key, meaning she'll never see her again while fighting Jackal.
  • Fruits Basket:
    • Kana in episode 8 after being driven to madness as a result of Akito's Mind Rape.
    • Hatori also does this in episode 8 after he erases Kana's memories.
    • Tohru in episode 25 and 26 as she's being put through a Break the Cutie process.
    • In the manga, Rin evidences conflicted emotions regarding Tohru. She rejects and harbors resentment towards what she sees as Tohru's interference in the family; Tohru is an outsider and she cannot understand. However, internal dialogue reveals that as early as their first meeting Rin is also possessed by the same desire that many of the Jyuunishi develop; to fall into Tohru's arms and be comforted. Her view of Tohru as a maternal figure manifests to the extent that on the verge of fainting she mistakes Tohru for her mother and responds with utter terror, cowering and pleading for forgiveness before she loses consciousness. Eventually, Rin's physical distress, despair, and torment culminate in her breaking down sobbing in Tohru's embrace.
  • Occurs several times in Fullmetal Alchemist.
    • There's Winry when she confronted her parents' murderer.
    • Edward after Al sacrifices his soul to restore Ed's arm and his father asks him to use his life to restore Al's soul.
    • In Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), when Edward broke down into tears after he learned that Nina died.
  • Future Diary:
    • Yuno frequently has tearful breakdowns of this nature, usually when Yuki is involved.
    • Tsubaki also does this during the brief flashback where she was going to be gang-raped.
  • Hellsing:
    • Alucard is reduced to an uncontrolled sobbing wreck after having to kill Father Alexander Anderson, who had turned himself into a divine monster in order to defeat Alucard.
    • Seras during Pip's death scene and when Zorin mind rapes her.
  • Russia from Hetalia: Axis Powers does this when he snaps in the Bloody Sunday strip, after a heartbreaking soliloquy and before opening fire on thousands of innocent civilians.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry: Rena breaks down in tears after winning an "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight against Keiichi, realizing that she doesn't want to kill him. Luckily, this permanently snaps her out of her rage-induced madness.
    Rena: The match is over now, right?
    Keiichi: No, it's not. Until you swing [that cleaver] down, it's not over.
    Rena: No... [Beat] No- I don't want to!
  • Gon does this after finding out that Kite is dead and can't be brought back to life in Hunter × Hunter and Killua does this in regards to Gon and has a complete breakdown in the middle of a life-threatening fight.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's: Tears can be seen streaming down Hayate's face during her Skyward Scream after two people disguised as her friends kill Vita in front of her.
  • Mekakucity Actors:
    • For a brief few moments in Episode 7, we get a few shots of Ene breaking down into tears when Kano, posing as Haruka, tells her that he died the same day she did.
    • During the second half of Episode 11, Kano has a spectacular breakdown at Ayano's grave, lamenting that no matter what he does, the Wide-Open Eyes Snake (possessing his father, Kenjirou) will kill them all.
    • At the end of the same episode, Ayano finally lets herself go when Shintaro arrives and asks her to come back with him, breaking the facade of strength she had been showing to everyone who had met her previously.
  • Mirage of Blaze: Naoe's breakdown in the OVA.
  • Naruto: Sakura breaks down into tears a few times in regards to Sasuke. Naruto also does this a few times as well like when an Itachi look-alike nearly breaks him with Mind Rape or after he finds out about Jiraiya's death. Considering how often Break the Cutie tactics are used... Even Itachi and Sasuke break down into tears at some point in the series.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • At the end of The End of Evangelion, Shinji breaks down crying after Asuka caresses his face while he's in the middle of strangling her (which he stops after the aforementioned act).
    • Asuka cried during her Mind Rape due to being forced to remember her childhood traumas and face her deep-rooted insecurities, as well as in episode 23 after Hikari comforts her by telling her that she shouldn't hate herself and that she thinks she's done well.
    • Misato breaks down crying after receiving a pre-recorded message from the recently murdered Kaji.
  • No. 6:
    • Throughout episode 10, Shion begins to shed his Pollyanna status and become more hard-hearted, no longer crumbling at the deaths around him. Nezumi displays a veritable laundry list of heartbreaking expressions as he realizes this...ending in a full-fledged breakdown when Shion coldly shoots a guard.
    • There's also that one scene where Shion has a breakdown after surviving the birth of wasp and saying "I want to live..."
  • One Piece:
    • Luffy does this during his breakdown after Ace's death.
    • Nami when she completely loses hope in the Arlong arc and begs Luffy for help.
    • Similarly, when the Gorgon Sisters's horrifying past is revealed, one of them (Sandersonia) breaks down screaming and crying. Hancock herself sheds tears as well.
  • Leo of PandoraHearts does this frequently following Elliot's death.
  • In Perfect Blue Mima has a breakdown in her apartment when she returns after filming a rape scene and cries. Rumi also cries as she's watching Mima filming the rape scene, and her tears symbolize her complete descent into the Ax-Crazy.
  • A Place Further than the Universe manages to create this in its entire main cast (and the audience!) in episode 12, in what is one of the most emotional moments in anime, ever.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • Sayaka breaks down completely at the end of Episode 3, just after seeing Mami get eaten alive, and being on the receiving end of a biting speech from Homura.
    • Madoka goes into inconsolable sobbing after Sayaka loses her Soul Gem, becoming an Empty Shell. She does it again in Episode 9 when Sayaka (now Killed Off for Real) is presented to her again.
    • Episode 10, one of the series' many Wham Episodes, has Timeline 3 Mami unable to handle the revelation that Magical Girls are doomed to become Witches. Having just defeated Sayaka-turned-Oktavia with the help of the other girls, she immediately goes to Mercy Kill them all, binding Homura to neutralize her Time Stand Still powers before shooting Kyoko's Soul Gem. As she aims her rifle at Homura, her very inelegant sobbing conveys the utter despair she has, reasoning that it would be better to die than turn into that. Madoka has to Mercy Kill Mami to stop her, and then she breaks down crying tears like this and Homura has to comfort her.
    • In the final episode of the series, Homura breaks down when Madoka - now a mere concept - reveals she now remembers all of the timelines; everything Homura did to save her.
  • Re:Zero's protagonist Subaru sheds broken tears often, as his powers allow him to revive and loop back in time after being killed. He has witnessed his own death and failures in saving his friends countless times.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena has this happen a few times. Most notable is during Anthy's suicide attempt in episode 37, during Wakaba's duel, and in episode 9 during Utena's childhood flashback.
  • Also occurs often in Rosario + Vampire.
  • In Sailor Moon Usagi does this in a phone booth after Mamoru breaks up with her. She also does it in Super, when Hotaru/Sailor Saturn jumps into Pharaoh 90 to kill herself to stop the Big Bad and Usagi is powerless to help or stop her. And she does it again in Stars when Chibi-Usa is erased out of existence in her arms, and later when not only the Senshi die, but she finds out Mamoru is dead.
  • In episode 10 of School Days Nanami becomes extremely upset after the School Festival when a sex tape of her and her boyfriend is shown to many classmates as a cruel joke from Otome's Girl Posse. She lets out a Big "NO!" before collapsing to the ground in tears.
  • Numerous main characters in Seraph of the End do this. Most notable is Yuu at the beginning when Ferid maims Mika and kills his family. He responds by crying while shooting Ferid in revenge and after when falling to his knees.
  • SHUFFLE!: Kaede does this as she's having her breakdown.
  • In chapter 74 of Soul Eater the Envy Chapter of the Book of Eibon delivers a harsh "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Maka. It's enough to reduce her to tears.
  • Spirited Away: Chihiro/Sen has a breakdown during her first morning in the spirit realm, after seeing her parents transformed into pigs, being surrounded by odd creatures she doesn't understand and seemingly tricked by Haku into signing away her freedom. The breakdown is triggered when Haku takes her to see her parents and offers her some food. The Lonely Piano Piece playing over the scene doesn't help matters. Luckily, she recovers very quickly.
  • Exa does this near the end of Superior Cross after discovering that the demon queen that razed his home village and the woman he loves are the same person.
  • Tokyo Ghoul is primarily a tragedy story so numerous people do this during their Break the Cutie moments, with one notable one being Hinami as she's being put through the emotional wringer by Mado who had killed her parents.
  • Manga adaptation of Umineko: When They Cry Ep 8:
    • Sayo "Yasu" Yasuda is shown with these due to the stress of Battler's absence, his/her massive loneliness and possibly realizing that the lack of development of "her" body is because she might actually be biologically male.
    • Ditto for Ange when fighting Beatrice in the Chapel, where she spends a good majority of her time crying and fully breaks down on how "magic" cannot change reality, begging for someone to come back, then finally begging Bernkastel to let her know the truth before she leaves the gameboard.
  • Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest:
    • Aoshika does this as she's having a breakdown as Haguro and his goons rape her and afterwards as well.
    • And Inugami was Forced to Watch all of this happen via video, helplessly, reducing the normally Tall, Dark, and Snarky werewolf into a complete sobbing wreck...
    • Haguro after Inugami shows him his werewolf form which destroys what remaining sanity he had left.
  • Wolfsmund: Duke Leopold does this in his final appearance in the manga in the aftermath of the Habsburg defeat at the Battle of Morgarten.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The only time Yami ever cries is when Yugi gets his soul stolen. Yugi also makes speeches about how sad he will be when Yami has to leave him which often ends in tears.

    Comic Books 
  • Supergirl:
    • In Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl, Supergirl weeps when she discovers the corpse of her murdered baby cousin, and she cries again while she buries him.
    • In Many Happy Returns, Kara sheds them twice: when everyone is treating her—an orphan who has just lost her home and landed in another world where everyone is a jerk to her and her only living relative turns her down because he doesn't know who she is—as a dumb, crazy girl; and when she is told she has to return to her own timeline... where she will eventually die.
    • In The Supergirl from Krypton (2004):
      • Kara bursts into tears after wandering over the streets of Gotham.
      • Superman weeps when he sees his cousin turned into ashes. Even if he knows it is a decoy, the mere sight of Kara being disintegrated brings him to his knees.
    • Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade: Supergirl cries when she holds her dying best friend in her arms.
    • In Supergirl Vol. 5 issue #34 Kara sheds bitter tears upon finding out that the Daily Planet is slandering her.
    • In Bizarrogirl, the eponymous Bizarro cries blood tears upon realizing she killed an innocent man.
    • In Death & the Family, Kara starts sobbing uncontrollably when she is told her surrogate aunt Lana Lang has passed away.
  • Superman cries in Kryptonite Nevermore when he believes his battle with his Sandman doppelganger has destroyed the world.
  • The Dark Phoenix Saga: Jean Grey goes through this once the Dark Phoenix overtakes her, and she's trying hard to let the real Jean out. She finally sheds more tears minutes before she dies at her own hands, while Cyclops watches in horror.

    Fan Works 
  • Happens to all but one main heroine in Ace Combat: The Equestrian War. Each of them has a good reason to cry.
  • A Frozen Flower: After everything they've been through the last few weeks, from dealing with Grimes and his crew to her Power Incontinence, Orchid breaks down crying and leans her head on Olive's shoulder. And then Olive starts to cry as well.
  • Children of an Elder God: After being raped, Asuka sobs and cries uncontrollably.
    And then the memories came, and all Asuka could do was curl into a ball and cry.
  • A Codette World Tour: Courtney experiences this during the Great Wall marathon when her anguish over Duncan cheating on her with Gwen finally overwhelms her fury about the whole thing.
  • Discord breaks down in Diaries of a Madman after he realises he ruined his own plan.
  • Evangelion 303: Shinji and Asuka often cried when they were under enormous emotional distress:
  • Funeral for a Flash: After being told his Uncle Barry is dead, Wally West remembers how he met the Flash and later became Kid Flash. Then he bursts into tears.
    After a little more talk, they had left Wally to himself. That night, he remembered how it had been the day Iris had gotten Uncle Barry, who wasn't his uncle back then, to set up an interview for him with the Flash, his hero. He remembered how the Flash had looked, tall, slim, in control, but reassuringly human. He remembered how Flash had taken him into Barry's laboratory, which the Flash had said was not unlike his own, and how he described the lightning strike that had struck the rack of chemicals behind him, energized them, and spilled certain ones on his body, giving him super-speed.
    Mere seconds after that, a thunderbolt had struck the rack of chemicals behind Wally and spilled certain ones on his own body.
    That night, Wally West cried again, and there was no Wonder Girl to hear him.
  • Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: Japan sheds these after Germany is revealed to be Holy Rome. He thought he had no chance with Italy. Thank goodness he was wrong.
  • HERZ: Shed by Asuka in chapter 2 after a nightmare where she relived her worst memories (her most humiliating defeats, her Mind Rape, her almost death...) and the feelings of being alone, worthless and unloved that came with them.
    Asuka screamed and bolted up in bed. Dream. Again. Breathing fast, shallow. Heart pounding. Cold sweat. Lightning flashed outside of the apartment's window. Hands over her face, she began to cry.
  • Blaine is a wreck in Hunting the Unicorn during the chapter The Red Bull. He has a concussion that's completely shot his logic and ability to communicate, and he's stressed from hiding with Kurt in an abandoned hotel from Blaine's Stalker with a Crush. Said stalker later tries to strangle Kurt when he finds them. He also thought his best friends Wes and David were dead until they managed to find him. Once the paramedics load him up, he breaks down crying, and the others are just surprised he didn't do it sooner.
  • The Infinite Loops: Ares the Admin, after his quadrillionth attempt to get I Wanna Be the Guy Looping fails due to a minor technicality. Given what he did to wind up with that job, he kinda has it coming.
  • In the Naruto fanfic Kitsune no Ken: Fist of the Fox, Tenten breaks out into these while strangling Naruto and demanding to know why the Kyuushingai, of which he was a part, killed her parents.
  • Last Child of Krypton: Asuka’s first battle was supposed to be her big debut. She had been waiting her whole life for that moment, training hard and rigorously since she was a child. She almost got killed, had to be rescued, and the Commander ordered she got punished for something that was not her fault. When she was home she slammed her bedroom door, threw herself down on her bed, and sobbed.
  • let's go out with a bang!: After Miu and Kokichi's feud reaches a boiling point, she finally gets a chance to forcibly call him out, listing out her grievances — chief among them his presumption that she didn't regret anything that happened and needed to be constantly harassed. By the time she finishes, she's on the verge of broken tears, and Kokichi starts up his usual spiel... before finding that his Crocodile Tears are rapidly dissolving into full-on, actual sobs.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide:
    • As he visits Asuka in the hospital, Shinji cries after realizing that she is in a coma because he never helped her.
      "I'm...sorry, Asuka." The feeling of sickening self-disgust rolling through him choked his words and a gloomy, heavy silence enveloped the room once again, broken intermittently only by the EKG's electronic heartbeat and his quiet sobbing.
      Shinji didn't try to call for Asuka again, and rushed out of her room moments later, still in tears.
    • And after the Final Battle, he cries when Asuka is apparently dead.
  • The Night Unfurls:
    • Celestine weeps uncontrollably as she is assailed by explicit imagery depicting Kyril's ordeal in Yharnam (in breadcrumbs, not the entire thing) due to reading Kyril's journal.
    • Lily is seen bawling in her tent as she relives her and her friends' Prison Rape. She eventually stops crying and falls asleep after Kyril lets her cry into his chest.
    • Happens after Maia suffers a Freak Out as a result of being raped by Michelle Pantielle, something that Vault, her beloved former comrade, allowed to happen. She wipes away her tears as she tries to drink, walks out to the streets after only managing a few sips of her ale, and finds herself sobbing again.
    • In the remastered version, Celestine notes that Maia could be heard sobbing in her quarters after the reveal of Vault being a traitor, Vault being dead, and her defeat during Kyril's Trial by Combat.
  • Olive's Last Partner: Olive starts crying when she tells Oscar about her struggles with him and how much his actions hurt him, to the point that she ends up completely breaking down on his shoulder. The act renders the Scientist at a brief loss for words, since he never expected Olive, of all people, to have a breakdown.
  • In Opalescent, Opal breaks down crying in the Medical Bay after telling Olive that Otto should be promoted to the Management department and be her co-Director, knowing that him being promoted would put a strain on their relationship. Oprah manages to see her breakdown via security cameras and also knows about her and Otto being together, but doesn't let the Odd Squad Doctor know due to her having a stoic reputation to uphold.
  • Orchestrating The Silence: After he stops strangling Asuka, Shinji starts sobbing, weeping, and crying, and he does not stop for a long while.
  • Quicken: After Emma has told Taylor how she had to fight thugs and rapists and even dig her way out of her own grave in order to survive... her best friend hugs her, and Emma bursts into tears.
    I was stunned, unable to react, simply allowing myself to be held. My eyes grew hot and a low moan escaped my throat. I tried to stop myself, but I felt so tired—not in body, but perhaps in spirit. I began bawling, putting my arms around Taylor, releasing myself to the tears. There was no dignity or restraint: it was the sort of crying an infant or a toddler might produce. I felt as though the tears would tear out gouges down my cheeks and I cried and cried. I don’t think I had ever cried this hard before.
  • The Season's My Reason: When Yui is told that instead of going home to her sick brother, she must continue her quest to find and defeat the chef who poisoned him, she breaks down crying in Bruno's arms.
  • Vow of the King: As she kills Mayuri, Nemu cries bitterly as she questions why Mayuri had to be such a terrible person and father.
  • X-Men 1970: Angel breaks down and starts weeping uncontrollably after being reminded of his father's death.
    He buried his head in his arms and his shoulders began to shake.
    "Warren," said Kathryn, gently, touching his shoulder. He shrank back.
    He was crying.
    "Dammit to hell, my father is dead," he said. "My father is dead and we sit here and, talk, and..."
    He couldn't say any more. By that time, Kathryn was crying, too.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Turning Red, young Ming, in the astral realm, cries over having hurt her mother when she was actually that age.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bartleby of Dogma briefly, after his wings are shot off.
  • Hereditary: Peter, a few times. Poor, traumatized Peter.
  • Casey (played by Drew Barrymore) does this in the infamous opening of the first Scream movie where she is being stalked and harassed by the killer. She has a breakdown and cries simultaneous Tears of Fear and these.
  • Spider-Man 3: Peter Parker has these when Mary Jane breaks up with him and when Harry dies.
  • Titanic (1997): Occurs when Rose is almost Driven to Suicide.

  • In Lisa Scottoline's novel "Come Home" Abby and Jill do this after learning of Abby's father's death.
  • In The Highland Twins at the Chalet School, Joey Maynard does this during her Heroic BSoD after getting a telegram saying that her husband Jack has been killed in action. When Madge, her sister, comes to see her, she finds Joey with a Broken Smile, saying that it's 'the fortune of war' and that she can't cry or think straight. Then Jem, Joey's brother-in-law, brings her young triplet daughters into the room, and Joey breaks down in tears and has to be sedated.
  • Edgedancer (a novella of The Stormlight Archive): Nale's Villainous BSoD is underlined by him breaking down into tears as he realizes just how badly he screwed up.
  • The Kantrishakrim of Tales of Kolmar are creatures of Fire. Most instances of strong emotion are marked by having them spout bursts of flames from their mouths. However, in the greatest extremities of grief and despair, they will shed tears that are noted to be painful and hiss down their faceplates. Shikrar sheds one in The Lesser Kindred as his grief for his beloved Yrais is rekindled, and his dialogue with his best friend and his son proves that for the moment at least, he is well and truly wrecked. They were noted as being exceptionally close, even for their kind.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Archie Bunker's Place: For all the grief he put upon the Dingbat, Archie truly loved his wife and feared that one day he'd be living without her and would bury her. That worst nightmare comes true in the 1980-1981 season opener "Archie Alone." After spending most of the episode in deep denial and refusing to even talk about it, the pent-up grief comes up in one memorable speech, where Archie berates Edith one last time, noting "You had NO right to leave me like that ... " and then the tears come ... "without ... giving me one last chance to say, "I love you!" And then the bawling starts, that of a man truly in grief.
  • Barney Miller: Played for Laughs. In "Christmas Story", Mr. Craig has been arrested because got so frustrated at his inability to put together a child's merry-go-round that he took it back to the department store and threw it through a plate-glass window. While Craig is in the holding cell Wojo puts his merry-go-round together. After he's let out Craig thanks the detectives profusely, wishes the detectives a merry Christmas, picks up the merry-go-round, and turns to leave—and discovers that he can't fit it through the door. He'll have to take it apart again. Mr. Craig bursts into tears.
  • Bonanza: The series codifier came in the season opener of the final season. It took until 1972's "Forever" for Little Joe — he wasn't so little anymore — to display this after his wife, Alice, whom he just married weeks earlier, is killed in a tragic fire. Tragic? Yes, but unknown to him when he (and his father, Ben) absolutely break down in tears is that Alice (pregnant with their first child) was brutally murdered by a professional gambler out to collect a debt from her brother. Until Joe learns the truth about his wife's death, he is a broken man, content with aimlessly drifting through life. In interviews years later, Mitch Vogel — who, along with Tim Matheson remains as the lone surviving main actors from the show — recalled how the scene was actually a release of grief for Michael Landon and Lorne Greene, as their fellow actor Dan Blocker (Hoss Cartwright) had died just two months before filming of the episode took place in July 1972note .
  • Breaking Bad:
    • Walt breaks down crying after Jack Welker shoots and kills Hank right in front of him.
    • Jesse has a complete emotional breakdown when he's Forced to Watch Todd kill Andrea.
  • Charité at War: Shell-Shocked Veteran Otto breaks down crying as he's unable to cope with his memories from the war.
  • CSI: NY: While Danny chaperones his 10 yr old neighbor Ruben, the boy is shot by an errant bullet as they pass a bodega being robbed. Danny has to tell the boy's mother, Rikki. When she realizes that her son is gone, she begins bawling her heart out. She and Danny both slide down to the floor and he, feeling guilty on top of his grief, cries almost as hard as Rikki does.
  • Thomas Barrow of Downton Abbey after his ordeal at the end of series 3.
  • In the Family Ties episode "A, My Name Is Alex", Alex breaks into tears at the height of his nervous breakdown over his friend's death.
  • River Tam of Firefly often falls into sobbing fits during her worst mental breakdowns and panic attacks, particularly in The Movie.
  • Game of Thrones: Sansa Stark after she hears about the Red Wedding.
    • House of the Dragon: Rhaenyra Targaryen at the very end of Season 1 after she hears of the death of her second son Lucerys.
  • Mitsuzane Kureshima is rendered a complete wreck after falling over the last of all his Despair Event Horizons in the finale of Kamen Rider Gaim.
  • Legion (2017): In "Chapter 22", Gabrielle bursts into tears after she receives a long-awaited phone call from her husband (and Living Emotional Crutch) Charles Xavier, but the long-distance connection is poor, so they can't hear each other very well. Her weeping worsens after he hangs up because she didn't catch his message at the end that he's coming home soon, so she assumes that she'll remain alone in their "haunted house" (or at least lost within her own haunted mind) for a while longer. Her crying signifies that she's psychologically unstable and losing her grip on reality.
  • Little House on the Prairie: Continuing the tradition of Michael Landon being good at showing deep emotion and Manly Tears:
    • For Landon, his character Charles Ingalls — along with Caroline — show this best when they barely can tell eldest daughter Mary that she will lose her eyesight due to a series of illnesses she has suffered. And when it comes to the day she wakes up and screams, "I CAN'T SEE!!!! I CAN'T SEE, PA!!!!" ... and there's nothing they can do about it.
    • Other characters were adept at this, and they were for different reasons:
      • Jonathan Garvey was the codifier of the personal loss variety in the 1980 episode "May We Make Them Proud." Jonathan and Alice had their differences to be sure and sometimes they bitterly quarreled, but deep down they loved each other and couldn't survive without one another. Then Alice is killed in a tragic fire at the Harriet Oleson School For the Blind ... and Garvey is shocked like no other into heartbreakingly agonizing grief. In fact, at one point, he begs Rev. Alden, "No pine box. Do you hear me, Reverend? No pine box!"
      • Even if you absolutely hated Mrs. Oleson, you had to feel for her after her precious Nellie moved to New York with her new family (to take over her father-in-law's hotel and restaurant business after his death). She is to a point where she can't even get out of bed, and Nels is genuinely and deeply concerned. note 
      • Fitting the loss of family and friends due to alcoholism and other mistakes, this happens to Mr. Edwards in "A Promise To Keep." He had just learned his wife, Grace, filed for divorce due to his drinking. This, coming on the heels of his best friend, Charles, breaking off their friendship after Edwards caused an accident that could have been deadly for Albert (fortunately, Albert suffers only minor injuries). When he tries to break into the Mercantile to steal some alcohol, he sees the church instead, is drawn to it, and after walking in breaks down at the altar, a broken man and admitting he made some very big mistakes that perhaps can never be repaired and needs help to get him through his darkest hour.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Galadriel breaks down in tears when Sauron deconstructs her, after putting her through Mind Rape.
  • Happy Days: As intended, "Richie Almost Dies" in a memorable January 1978 episode (after suffering head injuries in a motorbike accident) and for Fonzie, the mere thought of his best friend on the brink of death horrifies him. He makes a tearful plea to God but cannot finish, absolutely bawling by the scene's end. Famously, however, this came down as Narm as critics and fans believed the whole scene to be cheesy and over-the-top ... a tearful (and very 1970s-sounding) ballad performed by otherwise rock singer Suzy Quattro didn't help.
  • Lost:
    • Sun when she believes that Jin died.
    • A frequent occurrence in Lost, actually. Desmond when he finds Penny's letter. Juliet after her fight with Ben. Charlie when he leans on Rose's shoulder after Claire is kidnapped. Even BEN, of all people, has them when he kisses Alex's dead body.
  • In a first season episode of Scrubs an intern named Nick, who seemed sure to become the best of the young doctors, cracks under the strain because a very young patient of his seems certain to die no matter what he does or tries.
    Nick: That kid is eventually gonna die. Whether it's today, or tomorrow, or a month from now. There's nothing I can do. Nothing works. Now his parents want to talk to me, what am I supposed to tell them?! "Peter lived a good long seven years?" Seven years, man! [whispers] It's not fair. I hate this place, I hate this job. I can't do it anymore. I'm done. I'm done. I'm done. [starts sobbing]
    J.D.: [internal monologue] The scariest thing is I thought he was stronger than all of us.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: Spock in the episode "The Naked Time", after he's affected by an emotion virus. He never told his mother he loved her.
  • Star Trek: Picard:
    • In "The End Is the Beginning", Ramdha begins crying after Soji inquires about her assimilation by the Borg, and it's the first sign that her mental state (which is already very fragile because she's a psychiatric patient) will soon unravel to suicidal extremes.
    • In "Nepenthe", Jurati bursts into tears after the mind meld forced upon her by Commodore Oh, partly because she wasn't prepared for the onslaught into her mind, and partly because the images she saw traumatized her.
    • Later in the same episode, Hugh undergoes a nervous breakdown after his fellow xBs are executed, and he sobs uncontrollably over their corpses like he has lost everything in the universe that mattered to him. He doesn't seem to care or notice that he's bleeding because Narissa's dagger has pierced the skin of his neck; he merely continues to cry in agony, wholly oblivious to what's going on around him.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Dino Attack RPG:
    • Kate Bishop's defining characteristic, starting with her being locked in Wallace Bishop's office in the XERRD Fortress.
    • Rex after Amanda's death. After recovering from his Heroic BSoD, these tears turned into Berserker Tears.
    • A downplayed example for Amanda. After Trigger tried to reveal her identity as Silencia Venomosa combined with steadily-increasing evidence pointing to her as being The Mole, Amanda went to the back of the lounge and cried to herself when no one was around, feeling that her Dark and Troubled Past was catching up to her and there was nothing she could do to stop it.

  • In Act I of Pagliacci, Canio is often heard sobbing at the end of his iconic aria "Vesti la giubba." The sobbing isn't called for in the libretto, but it's a firm tradition, and depending on the singer it can be very undignified.
  • Happens to Maria in West Side Story as she is nearly Driven to Suicide after Tony is killed.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • In Mystic Messenger, this occurs during V's route when V tells Rika that he never actually loved her in the first place and that, on his end, their relationship was just him trying to figure out who he was through her. She completely breaks down, clutching at her chest with tears streaming down her face, frantically trying to figure out why she was never good enough for him and what she must have done wrong to make him stop loving her, hysterical at the thought that she's never been truly loved by anyone.

    Web Animation 
  • In RWBY When Salem attempts to intimidate Ironwood into surrendering, Ruby intervenes to tell her that they know about her immortality but will still find a way to stop her. Every time Ruby has given a heroic speech, she's won her point and the day. This time, however, there's a gut-punching scene of Salem breaking Ruby with a single, dispassionate line when she tells Ruby that her mother once said the same thing to her and was also wrong. The statement is accompanied by Ruby suddenly crying with tears running freely down her face and suffering uncontrolled flashbacks to her mother standing on the cliff where her grave now lies. Instead of the idealistic, joyful memory that helped Ruby activate her silver eyes against the Leviathan in Volume 6, the memory is dulled, subdued and her mother looks deeply unhappy. Eerie, discordant music plays as Ruby clutches her head and sways as her silver eyes power short-circuits, before she finally collapses to the ground, sobbing, while a tearful and distraught Yang desperately attempts to comfort her. The entire scene is played out as a traumatic subversion of the Shut Up, Kirk! trope that is designed to devastate the viewers along with Ruby.

  • In Weak Hero, after his best friend Stephen is hospitalised, Gray visits him and stoically stands by his side for an hour. It's only after he leaves that he breaks down, collapsing to the ground and crying uncontrollably.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Ashley breaks down crying into Elliot's arms after the ordeal she goes through during the "Sister 3" arc.

    Web Original 
  • Belkinus Necrohunt: Two examples occur in Session 12, one from Enoch after killing Thyrmelius, and one from a tiefling (the same one from Session 1) finally learning their friend's fate and Renee giving him back Sawpuller the ogre's armband as a Tragic Keepsake.
  • Can You Spare a Quarter?: When Graham tries to get soothe Jamie after the latter poured out his life experiences so far, the boy breaks out crying.
  • Chris Crocker in his infamous "Leave Britney Alone!" video.
  • Donnie DuPre from Demo Reel breaks down when he's been kidnapped from a convention, left to die in a forest during winter, and when all his attempts at getting himself food have failed. Let's be real here, you'd be sobbing too.
  • In Son of the Mask and Food Fight, The Nostalgia Critic crumbles on the floor and sobs painfully. Neither instances are about the movie.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
  • Happens in Batman: The Animated Series episode "Baby Doll" with the titular character once.
  • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker: Tim does this after he kills the Joker, his Mind Rape at his hands hitting him fully and he breaks down laughing madly before sobbing.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: After 130 episodes, 4 specials, and a movie, Eddy breaks down into these after it is revealed that his brother, whom Eddy spent the entire series idolizing and playing up as the coolest guy in the Cul-de-Sac, was actually an enormous jerkass who regularly abused Eddy, and that his entire personality was based around deluding himself into thinking his brother was actually "cool" and "respected" by the other kids, while in actuality they were scared shitless of him, and that maybe if he acted like his brother, (read: being a selfish dick) the other kids would like him. Thankfully, the movie also served as a Redemption Quest, and once he admits to the kids (and himself) that it was all a sham, he's forgiven and finally accepted by the other kids.
  • Family Guy:
    • Brenda at the end of the episode "Screams Of Silence."
    • Meg is sometimes shown as emotionally fragile and disturbed, out of desperation for love and affection, and sometimes cries as a result. For example, in one episode she ran off in tears in the midst of a breakdown when she described gifts from her imaginary boyfriend Prince William. And Connie does this in "Barely Legal" after Brian tells her off.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show:
    • Stimpy does this in "Adult Party Cartoon" episode "Ren Seeks Help". He cries to the point that the house is flooded with tears and calls Ren a "monster". We never do find out what horrible thing Ren did to Stimpy too.
    • Ren does this at the beginning of "Stimpy's Fan Club".
    • Stimpy also does this as Ren is being taken away from him in one of the earlier episodes.
    • Stimpy in the music video for "Ren's Pec's".
  • Eric Cartman in the South Park episode "Kenny Dies", after seeing Kenny, well, dying in the hospital. He even cries on Kyle's shoulder.
    • Kyle does this at the end of the first half of "Cartoon Wars" after Cartman leaves him on the road after they smash into each other on their big wheel bikes.
  • Occurs during Patrick's Break the Cutie moment in the Spongebob Squarepants episode "Nature Pants".
  • Steven Universe: Future is a deconstruction of the effects that being a Kid Hero would have on someone's development. Steven suffers from severe, untreated C-PTSDnote , and due to his lack of solid support structure and the people in his life not knowing how to help, he only sinks deeper into his trauma, which causes him to start losing control of his superpowers. This comes to a head in the episode "I Am My Monster", where Steven suffers a mental breakdown, which causes him to become corrupted and transform into a monstrous Kaiju. After a fight and a long Cooldown Hug, Steven returns back to normal, his family surrounding him and telling him they'll be there to take care of him... and he just starts bawling.
  • Big Shot from The Tick cries while going on shooting sprees and wondering aloud why Mommy never loved him. (A rare time this trope is Played for Laughs.)
  • Work It Out Wombats!: In "Special Delivery," Malik lets out some after explaining his reason why he took the very long and inefficient way to Sammy's house, especially considering he has to deliver an ice cream cone.


Video Example(s):


Perchance to Dream

Batman, royally pissed that a life where his parents were alive was just a dream fabricated by the Mad Hatter, breaks out of his dream and confronts him in reality, leading to his breakdown.

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Example of:

Main / VillainousBreakdown

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