Follow TV Tropes


Cradle of Loneliness

Go To

Alice and Bob loved each other very much and were happy together for a long time. But something happened to Bob. Maybe he died. Maybe he disappeared without a trace one day. Maybe there was a breakup. Whatever the reason may be, Bob is gone and Alice is sad and lonely. So every now and then she comforts herself by cradling something that reminds her of Bob; his clothing, a keepsake, a photo, something along those lines.

A particularly common version is hugging the headstone of somebody who has died or holding the body of a loved one for a prolonged period.

Sometimes part of a Sad-Times Montage or overlaps with a Lost Love Montage, and is likely to be done by a Hurting Hero or Heartbroken Badass. If a specific item is being held, it may be a Tragic Keepsake, especially if it came from someone whose death was a Cynicism Catalyst.

Compare and contrast PietÓ Plagiarism, Cradling Your Kill, and Died in Your Arms Tonight.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Daredevil: When Elektra died, Daredevil was shown cradling her tombstone on a cover.
  • Robin (1993): After a particularly bad night in which he ended up getting to some hostages too late to save a man from being murdered right in front of his daughter and was then badly injured in a fight later on, Tim stumbled to his parents' joint headstone and clung to it briefly while lamenting his failure. Batman showed up to take him home out of the rain almost immediately.
  • Spider-Man: Reign: A cover had Spider-Man hugging Mary Jane's tombstone.

    Fan Works 
  • In a really poignant scene, the protagonist of Racer and the Geek cradles his rifle while undergoing a mental breakdown.
  • In A Prize for Three Empires, Carol Danvers visits her friend Mar-Vell's grave and embraces the memorial stone, crying because of her inability to save him.
    She called the X-Men, as little as she liked it, and learned from them the location of the world where Mar-Vell had breathed his last. Then she went there, and saw his memorial stone, and embraced it.
    She thought of the alien who had been a friend to her, who had enabled her to become a super-hero through a genetic gift. She wondered if, somehow, a transplant of genes or blood from her body to his could have saved him.
    Probably not. The cancer was too far into him. But at least she would have tried.
  • A fanmade audiodrama for Warhammer 40,000 starts off with a Blood Angels Space Marine breaking down in tears at the sight of the destruction of his beloved Land Raider IFV, whose Machine-Spirit he had bonded with. So deep is his grief that he hugs "her" with all his strength, and it is treated with all the gravity of finding a loved one Stuffed in the Fridge.
  • Infinity Train: Knight of the Orange Lily: Upon seeing Lampetia destroyed by Paul London, Specter is only given her heart to protect until she can regenerate her body. He can only clutch it in agony before screaming her name.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Boba Fett is seen cradling the helmet of his dead "father" Jango in Attack of the Clones.
  • The Black Stork: After Leffingwell Jr. leaves home, his mother sleeps holding a pair of his old crutches.
  • At the end of Brokeback Mountain, it's revealed that Ennis still holds on to Jack's shirt, just as Jack held on to his while they were separated.
  • In the movie He Got Game, when the governor lets Denzel Washington's character out of jail temporarily so that he can convince his son (a star basketball player) to go to the governor's university, Denzel makes a stop at the cemetery to see and then embrace the grave of his wife, whom he accidentally killed years ago.
  • In the Stanley Kubrick adaptation of Lolita, Charlotte Haze cradles the funeral urn of her last husband after discovering that Humbert only married her to get close to her daughter.
  • La Reine Margot ends with the title character in her carriage cradling the embalmed head of her lover Môle, executed by decapitation.
  • Max Payne has a scene where Max goes to a storage unit and reveals that he kept everything from the house where his family was murdered, even the papers that his wife had on her desk.
  • In John Ford's The Searchers one of the many visual hints of Ethan and Martha's relationship in the past is when Martha hugs Ethan's coat out of sight of other characters. Martha eventually married Ethan's brother and started a family.
  • Dren does this in the movie Splice with a cat while her "parents" are away.
  • Avengers: Infinity War: Seeing how he lost his mother in Thor: The Dark World and his father in Thor: Ragnarok, Thor has officially lost his entire family following the death of Loki. As the ship goes up in flames, all Thor can do is crawl towards Loki's corpse and cradle his dead body.
  • In White Frog, Nick lies in bed clutching a photo of himself with his dead older brother Chaz.

  • In the first Survivor Dogs book, Lucky finds his sister Bella sniffing a cushion that belonged to her missing owners. She's embarrassed by Lucky finding her that way and says that the items help her sleep.
  • Ayla does this in Valley of the Horses. After being exiled from the Clan and forced to leave her infant son behind, the only thing she has left of him is the bag/cloak she used to have for carrying him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Breaking Bad: After Jane's death, Jesse can be seen cradling his cell phone, then calling her number just to hear her voice mail, until her line is finally disconnected and he can no longer hear her voice.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
      • After Angel turns evil, Buffy curls up in her bed weeping, clutching the claddagh ring he gave her in the previous episode. She brings out the ring again the following season, guilty over having been forced to kill him. Eventually, she decides to move on and leaves the ring at the place where he died (ironically, Angel chooses that moment to come Back from the Dead).
      • When Tara breaks up with Willow due to Willow's abuse of magic, one sign of Willow's sadness is that she takes a set of Tara's clothes, uses her magic to give them shape and form, and then has it hold her.
      • Dawn curls up next to the recharging Buffybot, showing how she misses her dead sister (who had not been resurrected at that point).
    • Angel:
      • Wes is seen holding Fred's stuffed rabbit as he packs her stuff away after her death.
      • After Doyle's Heroic Sacrifice, Cordelia laments that he had no Iconic Item she could use to fulfill this trope. She's less than impressed to find that Doyle did leave something for her — his ability to experience extremely painful visions.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • One episode had Marshall away, staying with his mother, and Lily getting lonely to the point of dressing up a pillow in Marshall's clothes. It became a Running Gag.
      Lily: I call him "Marshpillow", and he calls me... nothing, because he's a pillow.
    • In the episode "How Your Mother Met Me" of How I Met Your Mother, The Mother is seen twice cradling things when she thinks about Max, her boyfriend who died.
      • In a scene where she apparently has just returned from his funeral, she opens his present. It's a ukulele and she holds it, pressing it to her chest.
      • Years later, she hugs a pillar on a patio when she tries to connect with him and sort of asks him if she is ready to let go.
  • Monk reveals in one episode that, after his wife died, he couldn't bring himself to throw away—or even move—any of her belongings.
  • Sons of Anarchy when Jax finds Tara murdered on the floor, he breaks down, cradling her, apologizing for the violence he brought into her life. He is still holding her and sobbing when the police and the DA arrive.
  • Supernatural: This occurs in the episode "All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1" of Season 2. After Sam is stabbed in the back by Jake and dies while Dean is holding onto him, Dean enwraps him in a hug as he begins to cry out of grief. Overlaps with Final First Hug.
  • True Blood:
    • After Talbot is murdered, Russell keeps a glass jar filled with Talbot's blood and other bodily remains with him throughout the rest of the season. He can be seen talking to it and carrying it everywhere.
    • Russell kills a male prostitute that superficially resembles Talbot, talks to the body as if it was Talbot, then cradles the body in a way that is half this trope, half Cradling Your Kill.
  • The X-Files, "Within": Mulder is missing, probably abducted by aliens, and Scully goes to his apartment. She notices his blue shirts lying on the bed. She takes one and lies down on the bed, cradling the shirt in her arms.

  • Robert Palmer's "Johnny and Mary": He needs all the world to confirm, that he ain't lonely.
  • The song "Whiskey Lullaby" has this line; We found her with her face down in the pillow. Clinging to his picture for dear life.
  • The famous George Gershwin song They Can't Take Away From Me sung by Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra, and many many others. It's actually a Break-Up Song but with an amicable air that while the relationship ended, it wasn't a mistake to have started it:
    We may never, never meet again
    On that bumpy road to love
    Still I'll always,
    Always keep the memory of
    The way you hold your knife
    The way we danced until three.
    The way you've changed my life.
    No, no - they can't take that away from me.

  • From AJCO: Egg gives Crez her badge the night before she is expelled from the Silo into almost certain death, pleading with him to deliver it to Kube. Crez fulfills this promise, and the poor cactus clutches it tightly while fighting back tears.
  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, after Luna turns into lightning and then is absorbed into the Dark Dragon's body, her best friend Ivy takes the jacket that was left behind, that she made specifically to protect Luna, and covers herself with it while screaming.

  • In the Erfworld prequel that details Wanda's backstory, after Wanda's brother Tommy is poisoned and killed by a woman he loved, Wanda manages to animate his body, but despite it being the best work she's done in raising the dead, she realizes that the animated dead isn't the brother that she loved, and never will be. Her first order to it is for Un-Tommy to hold her while she cries.

    Western Animation 
  • In the DuckTales episode "Hero for Hire", after the police recover the Webbed Wonder suit from the bay, seemingly confirming that Launchpad was killed, Scrooge hugs it as he cries.
  • For all that he is a Jerkass to Stimpy, Ren from The Ren & Stimpy Show did this twice in "The Big Shot" after Stimpy leaves to become a Hollywood star. First, he breaks down in tears at the sight of one of Stimpy's hairballs, and later in the episode, he cradles a bag of kitty litter with Stimpy's face drawn on it.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants plays this for laughs in the episode Clams when Mr. Krab's millionth dollar gets eaten by a giant clam. There is a cutaway where Mr. Krabs is dressed as a mourning widow and hugging a tombstone representing his millionth dollar.