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Crocodile Tears

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You'd think after twelve games, they'd have learned by now.

"Dudley began to cry loudly. In fact, he wasn't really crying — it had been years since he'd really cried — but he knew that if he screwed up his face and wailed, his mother would give him whatever he wanted."

Basically, fake tears.

Many actors can be relied on for their facial expressions, their voices, their looks, muscle, hair, what have you. But to be able to cry on demand? That is a rare and powerful gift.

But the power to do so, without sincerity, in the hands of the Manipulative Bastard? Heaven help us all.

This trope gets its name because crocodiles can and do produce tears, but not out of emotion as humans do; it's simply a way of getting rid of excessive salt (something that many seabirds also do). 14th-century travel stories had it that they cried to draw in their prey, or as a false show of guilt or grief over the prey they were eating, and the usage has carried over to human displays of false tears over the years.

This trope is not limited to just the Manipulative Bastard, however. Children "crying" to get what they want is Truth in Television. (See #6 on the Cracked list Six Shockingly Evil Things Babies Are Capable Of.)

The Psychopathic Manchild and Annoying Younger Sibling can be prone to this.

Often a key part of a Wounded Gazelle Gambit, especially if the tears make them look more attractive. Contrast Stepford Smiler. Compare Mistaken for Brooding. Contrast Humanizing Tears.


    open/close all folders 

  • Bel Vita Breakfast Biscuits has a commercial titled "Susan's Morning Win." It included successfully fake-crying to get out of a speeding ticket. She even peeked through her fingers to see if the officer was falling for it.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Kokinchan from Anpanman constantly uses these. As an added bonus, if other people are hit by her tears, they'll start crying uncontrollably. She's a little girl, so she uses these to get what she wants, or just to get other people to start crying. When her needs are satisfied, she'll stop crying at the drop of a hat.
  • A Filler Villain in Fist of the North Star, Galzus, used this as his defining act of cruelty, tricking his opponent into dropping their guard by claiming that he had a sister that Souther had kidnapped and then killing them. Naturally, Kenshiro wasn’t fooled (and by that time he’d already hit some of Galzus' power points, resulting in Galzus being blown up anyway).
  • In Great Teacher Onizuka, Urumi uses these to manipulate adults, especially Uchiyamada.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood, Dio Brando sheds such tears while pretending to be remorseful over poisoning Jonathan's father. He tearfully begs for forgiveness in an attempt to lure Jonathan close enough to stab him with a hidden dagger. The tactic almost works. However, Jonathan's friend Speedwagon sees through Dio's trick and warns Jonathan in time. Dio is quick to drop the act once confronted.
    • This act is pulled off again by Esidisi in Battle Tendency in an effort to get a cheap shot in on Joseph.
  • Kaiju Girl Caramelise: Seina starts crying in front of Arata when lamenting how much she looked forward to getting a TV spot on the news program that Arata got onto instead. It's clear from her immediate, tear-free demand afterward that Arata put in a good word about her to the show's producer and her glee over Arata's naivete after he leaves that it was a ruse to manipulate him.
  • Kanna did this on her first day of school in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid in order to get Saikawa to drop her Tsundere act and become friends with her. She dropped the act when Saikawa offered her some candy.
  • Quoted word for word in episode 37 of Motto Ojamajo Doremi. In this case, Onpu was using these to try and lure out the fairies who had begun a rebellion and were refusing to leave the Recipe Diary and thus block progress.
  • This trope is referenced in Ouran High School Host Club, as all the male hosts seem to cry at the drop of a hat, in order to create 'emotional' scenes. Haruhi soon stumbles onto the explanation: they all use eyedrops to induce tears, though Tamaki claims he doesn't—a true host can cry on command without needing such aid! However, towards the end of that episode, Haruhi accidentally pushes Tamaki into some fairly drastic action with some surprising tears, which turn out to be caused by a loose contact lens.
  • An episode of Paranoia Agent features an Internet suicide pact between two men who are shocked to discover that their third member is a little girl. When they decide to leave her behind, she tries to guilt-trip them by crying, even though there are no visible tears.
  • Pokémon:
    • In Pokémon Adventures, Green turns on fake tears when confronted by Ho-oh.
    • Also in Adventures, there is a literal case as one of White's agency Pokémon, a Sandile, has the specific purpose for crying for any tragic movie scene.
    • In the anime, a Teddiursa pulls this by framing Chikorita and Totodile for stealing food and beating it up. Actually, said Pokémon were trying to stop it. But when Teddiursa tries this with Bulbasaur, Ash and his friends don't fall for it this time.
    • Also in the anime, Shamus reveals he uses this tactic whenever he abandons a Pokémon so that they'll leave him alone.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons episode 14, Wilie frees Weslie, Paddi, and Sparky from a cage and goes to bring them back to Tibbie and Jonie when Wolffy, Wilie's father, makes them go play elsewhere. When his Puppy-Dog Eyes don't work, Wilie pretends to cry and makes Wolffy and Wolnie think he needs a new diaper, distracting them for long enough that Wilie and the goat boys can leave.

    Comic Books 
  • In Infinity Wars (2018), Science Pete's tears of regret and remorse for attacking the Terrific Two are genuine, lowering the duo's guard. However, the Knight makes use of this to sucker punch Reed hard enough to entangle him with Ben.
  • In Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, when Lex sets off Hope's self-destruct system, he narrates "If only my tears didn't brand me as your Judas", but there are clearly no tears in his eyes. Notably, the only time we see any tears is when Superman is there to see them.
  • Mega Man (Archie Comics): Dr. Wily — while pretending to be reformed — secretly orders the Robot Masters steal the energy crystals needed for Gamma (which he disguises as a humanitarian project) as part of his larger evil scheme. When the heist happens, he makes certain to make a big show of "crying" about his chance at redemption being ruined to conceal his involvement.
  • In Violine, Muller does this while threatening to kill Redder.

    Fan Works 
  • 6 Times Ai Protected Her Groupmates and 1 Time They Protected Her: A more karmic version of this occurs; Lily encounters a teenage boy who bullies her over being the sole trans girl amongst a group of idol singers. Her groupmate Ai appears and tells off the teen, in front of his mother at that, and Lily decides to shed some crocodile tears to make herself look even more hurt.
    "Well," Ai continued with a convincing frown. "It's just that [your son has] been saying the most awful things to my friend here." She moved to Lily's side and put an arm around her as if comforting her.
    Having picked up on the direction as soon as Ai started talking, Lily had already worked up a batch of crocodile tears and put on her best pout. She gripped her skirt tightly with one hand and rubbed her cheek roughly with the other, looking down as her shoulders shuddered. It was an incredibly sad sight to see a little girl cry and it was an even worse feeling to be told that your child caused it.
  • In Atonement, Madison is so familiar with how Emma's fake "Please pity me!" tears look that when she sees Emma sobbing post-Heel Realization, she realizes that she isn't faking her remorse.
  • BURN THE WITCH: Lila is fond of shedding these while Playing the Victim Card. She's also so used to having things go her way that she arrogantly assumes that she'll be able to easily manipulate the soft-hearted Rose into forgiving her with a fake apology and some equally fake tears... and is honestly shocked when it doesn't work. Despite how Rose was the one who exposed her as a Con Artist in the first place.
  • Cain: According to Katsuki, Izuku is both a hopeless crybaby who's naturally Prone to Tears and a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who fakes tears while Playing the Victim Card. He repeatedly sneers at others "falling for it", convincing himself that Izuku cries in order to get his way. Of course, when Katsuki ends up blubbering over All Might calling him out on being a Barbaric Bully, he doesn't understand why his idol doesn't immediately fall all over himself to comfort him.
  • Danganronpa: In Harmony's Wake: After Sunset's sudden disappearance, Adagio makes a big show of crying over how "worried" she is. However, Rarity is the only one present who doesn't see right through her charade.
  • Gold Poisons features A-Yuan using these to get Wen Qing past a flirtatious guard and into Koi Tower without being harassed too much.
  • the high road: Lila frequently employs these as part and parcel of manipulating others. Marinette turns her own tactics against her by pretending to fall for her tricks, forcing the rest of the class to investigate her claims and realize the truth. When they band together with Adrien to try convincing Marinette of the truth, Marinette then tearfully asks Lila if it's all true, Playing the Victim Card to the hilt and driving the final nails into Lila's coffin.
  • Jerk in Sheep's Clothing: Henry casually demonstrates how easily he can fake tears when Adrien confronts him over his manipulating Marinette.
  • Kill the Second Chance: After reading Ogre's diary, Seryu learns that her mentor never actually cared about her, which convinces her to become The Mole for Night Raid. However, she still feigns grief for Ogre and other fallen "comrades" in front of Esdeath and the other Jaegers.
  • Of Lacewing Flies and Lemon Tarts: While seemingly pleading for his life, Crouch Jr. hides a conspiratorial wink behind his tears.
  • or did it eat the little girl?: Kokichi frequently employs these. In let's go out with a bang!, one of his favorite pastimes is harassing Miu until she snaps back, then acting as though her anger and frustration is "proof" that she's completely Beyond Redemption.
  • Scarlet Lady: Chloé can't quite summon tears on command, so she uses an eyedropper instead.
  • A Second Chance: In No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, Kathleen manipulates the Loud siblings into crashing their parents' anniversary party. When Lynn and Lincoln try to convince their mother that it was Kathleen's idea, she "tearfully" asserts that they must have dramatically misinterpreted her advice to show their parents how much they care about them.
  • Our New Sister Chuck pretends to cry to expose Chickpea for her supposed lies by groveling to her. But she turns out to be genuine when she comforts him.
  • Tough Love has a variant: when Charlie remarks that the Cullens likely won't want Bella for her cooking, she loudly sobs as she protests that he'd always eaten everything she'd put in front of him. Charlie silently notes that despite her wailing, her cheeks remain bone dry.

    Films — Animation 
  • Batman and Harley Quinn: When Poison Ivy has almost won and is about to use her potion which will turn everyone into plants or kill them, Harley, as a "nuclear option", wipes off her makeup and starts crying profusely. Leading up to this, Ivy realizes what she's gonna do and is freaking out about it as if Harley was about to vaporize her with a Death Ray or something. While Harley undoubtedly really was sad and upset, considering the circumstances, she does still say "works every time", when Ivy starts crying herself and gives Harley a huge hug, implying she's used this tactic to get her way a lot in the past.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame Esmeralda, when Frollo's soldiers are about to arrest her; "Let's see... One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. So there's ten of you, and one of me. What's a poor girl to do?!" She then pretends to cry into a handkerchief, and blows her nose... which sets off an explosion of red stage smoke that hides her escape.
  • One Naruto Non-Serial Movie, Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow, had a big-name actress use eyedrops to create fake tears (because she'd become such a Broken Bird that she was now an Emotionless Girl).
  • Strange Magic: Roland pretends to cry in order to get Sunny to pity him enough to trick him into getting a love potion for the two of them two to use. The tears mostly work, except Sunny is more annoyed by the tears than sympathetic.
  • Tom and Jerry: The Movie: In his song, Dr. Applecheek laments how so many pets are neglected, and how he wants to help them. However, his tone and gestures are almost overly dramatic to the point that his sympathy seems ingenuine. He turns out to be a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing shortly after.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Near the end of Adam's Rib, the protagonists' marriage is saved when Spencer Tracy's character cries, prompting his wife (Katharine Hepburn) to become sympathetic and ignore their differences. Soon he reveals that he was crying on purpose, and makes a point of the fact that it's not just women who are capable of that kind of emotional manipulation.
  • In the Laurel and Hardy short Big Business, the heroes get into an argument with a homeowner, which eventually leads to Stan and Ollie wrecking the homeowner's house while he destroys their car. After a policeman puts a stop to things, Stan and Ollie burst into tears. The homeowner and cop start crying in sympathy, and the cop lets Stan and Ollie go. Then Stan and Ollie start laughing, revealing that they were faking tears. The cop sees this and chases after them as the film ends.
  • The Big Lebowski - Mr. Lebowski summons The Dude to his mansion and gives him the job of delivering bogus ransom money to the kidnappers of his trophy wife. He sits by the fireplace in solemn tears, telling The Dude "Strong men also cry", masking the fact that he's pulling a scam, using foundation money for the ransom and keeping it for himself.
  • Catwoman (2004): The titular character confronts the villainess in her home, who reveals her husband's dead body which just so happens to be covered in deep scratches, right before she triggers an alarm and cues crocodile tears, screaming "IT WAS CATWOMAN!"
  • In Foolish Wives, Count Sergius, a liar, con artist, and all-around dirtbag, decides to fleece Maruschka the maid of the two thousand francs that are her life savings. To convince her that he's in a crisis and needs the money, he actually dribbles drops from a finger bowl onto the tablecloth, to make it look like he's crying.
  • Gone with the Wind. Scarlett cries these to manipulate Ashley into coming to work for her, which he doesn't want to do, as he feels emasculated by her offer. He continues to resist, but when his wife Melanie, who adores Scarlett, enters and sees her crying, she blasts Ashley for upsetting her and unilaterally declares that he'll accept her offer. Ironically, in the corresponding scene in the book, her tears were real, but she still uses them to her advantage.
  • One of the scam victims in Hustlers gets badly injured. Destiny takes him to the hospital, screaming desperately in tears and hysterics for someone to save her "husband." The paramedics tend to him, and the second their backs are turned she drops the act and drives off.
  • The Little Drummer Girl (1984). Charlie weeps when told that the terrorist she's pretending is her lover is dead. Those interrogating her aren't impressed, pointing out that she's an actress and has therefore been trained to cry on cue.
  • The Man Who Knew Too Little: Referenced. Wallace says something that offends Lori, and she cries briefly. Wallace, who thinks everything is a play and Lori is an actress, marvels at what he thinks is the ability to cry on demand.
    Wallace: Was that a tear? ...How do you people do it? Did you... poke yourself in the eye? Or are you thinking right now: "My dog is dead."
    Lori: What's the matter with you? Are you enjoying this?
    Wallace: Enormously. "My dog is dead." [pokes himself in the eye] "My dog is dead."
  • In No Kidding, Vanilla puts on a big show of crying in front of Catherine to make her believe she is starved and abused at home, only to burst out laughing when she leaves the room.
  • A viral ad for Prometheus is a Weyland Industries advertisement for their David 8 android. It shows that androids aren't quite capable of convincingly faking emotions like sadness.
    Narrator: David, what makes you sad?
    David: War... poverty... cruelty... unnecessary violence. [two tears on cue] I understand human emotions, although I do not feel them myself. This enables me to be more efficient and capable and makes it easier with my human counterparts to interact with me.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: Count Olaf pretends to be weeping when he's told he can't raise the Baudelaire children anymore... by pouring water in his eyes.
  • The Undertaker (1988): When Roscoe is interrogated by some police detectives, he proceeds to start crying fake tears to throw the police off his trail.


By Author:

  • One of Tom Holt's near-interchangeable protagonists at one point remembers how, when left to play with a young cousin, the little rodent would at the first hint of boredom burst into tears and run out crying "Mummy, he hit me!" Since most of Tom Holt's protagonists are Butt Monkeys and/or Chew Toys, this is pretty much standard.

By Title:

  • The Accusation: Yeong-pyo cries these when discussing his son's latest mishap with his superior. Later Kyeong-hun claims the national mourning for Kim Il-Sung's passing is nothing but these.
  • The Alice Network: When Eve goes to kill René and Charlie tries to stop her, Eve, a Consummate Liar and former spy, pretends to cry remorseful tears so that Charlie will let her guard down and leave her.
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: In Through the Looking-Glass, the Walrus weeps over the oysters he's eating after (along with the Carpenter) luring them away from the oyster bed (according to Tweedledee, the Walrus was also hiding behind the handkerchief so that the Carpenter didn't see that he was taking more than his share.
"I weep for you," the Walrus said,
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.
  • In Animal Farm, Squealer gives a tearful eulogy for Boxer after the latter gets sent to the knacker, and says that he was at Boxer's side during his last moments. At one point, he casts suspicious sideways glances to check if the other animals are seeing through the lie.
  • Played with in the children's book Big Max by Kin Platt, after Big Max and the King of Pooka Pooka have escaped from a literal crocodile.
    "Look, he is crying," said the King. "That means he is sorry."
    "A crocodile's tears can fool you," said Big Max. "He is crying because he did not have us for dinner."
    "Don't remind me," said the crocodile. He cried some more.
  • Circleverse: Evvy in Street Magic can force herself to cry what Lady Zenadia thinks are tears of weakness... by remembering the look on her mother's face when said mother told the slavemaster to sell Evvy for as much as possible.
  • Dave Barry Slept Here:
    In a dramatic televised moment, [Oliver] North, his eyes moist and his voice shaking, revealed to the committee that he was a courageous patriot, after which he became so overcome by emotion that he knocked over his bottle of Revlon eye moistener.
  • Girls Don't Hit: Joss can cry on command when necessary to deceive people.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: As seen in the page quote above, this is in Dudley's playbook.
    • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: No one knows for certain how much of a part (if any) Barty Crouch, Jr. played in assisting the Lestranges in torturing the Longbottoms. Because of this, when Crouch Jr. is seen begging for his life when his father viciously disowns him and sentences him to Azkaban, it's hard to say whether it's for real or it's just an act to make his father look even worse in the eyes of The Daily Prophet.
  • In I, Claudius, Claudius mentions that his sister Livilla can cry on command. She uses it to manipulate Postumus into a trap.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Lazarus Long stories, Lazarus' Opposite Sex Clones are stated to be capable of producing tears on command. Lazarus notes that he can do it too but that it isn't very useful for males.
  • Les Larmes de Crocodile/Crocodile Tears, by Andre François, is pretty much a bilingual gruesome warning story for kids about what happens if you believe a crocodile when it's crying. With cute little cartoon illustrations.
  • In the Puyo Puyo light novel Sig's Secret, Witch acts surprisingly heartbroken over the girls deciding not to use one of her potions for the benefit of the cafe they're setting up. Amitie approaches Witch to cheer her up... but then Witch decides to start a puyo battle on Amitie out of nowhere.
    Amitie: Are you kidding me!? All those tears were an act!?
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Sansa remarks how convincing Littlefinger is when feigning grief and a Guilt Complex to boot when discussing the death of his wife Lysa Arryn (whom he personally murdered) to Nestor Royce.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In the X-Wing Series, a point is made of Gara Petothel's ability to cry on cue.
    • Splinter of the Mind's Eye has Luke Skywalker, in a case of Characterization Marches On - later he's a bad liar — able to not only come up with elaborate false excuses on the spot but also to make them convincing, to the point where he can make himself cry.
  • The Sword Of Saint Ferdinand: After a battle, Guzmán cries over the alleged deaths of García Vargas and Pero Miguel (unaware that the former is merely missing in action) to cover up the fact that he is secretly happy that his foe García is dead, and he does not care about his easily manipulable pawn Pero's demise.
  • The Twilight Saga: Bella pulls these on Jacob after Leah stands up to her on his behalf. Jacob immediately sides with Bella and vilifies Leah for upsetting her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Better Call Saul: Jimmy has practice in using this to con people.
    • "Expenses": Jimmy visits his insurance provider to get a refund for his malpractice insurance. His representative, Ms. Valco, tells him that malpractice insurance is for his clients and therefore can't be refunded. His premiums will also be hiked as a result of his suspension when he regains his law license. Shaken, Jimmy breaks down into half-real/half-fake crying. The real parts are that Kim is being cold towards him, his community service exhausts him, and his business isn't working out, and Chuck broke down in court and revealed his mental illness. What's fictional is when he claims that Chuck mixed up the numbers in the Rosella Drive fiasco, to manipulate her and the insurance company into raising the malpractice premiums on Chuck and on HHM as a whole.
    • "Winner": Jimmy gives this big emotional speech to the review board about what Chuck meant to him and what he tried to do for Chuck by being a lawyer. He even admits that he can't bring himself to "tug on [their] heartstrings" by trying to use Chuck's letter for his cause, as it would be too personal. And then, right after it turns out this speech worked, it turns out that Jimmy did not mean a single word of what he said.
    • "Nippy": When he needs to distract a security guard during a key moment, Jimmy (now "Gene") pretends to have an emotional breakdown over his lonely life… only to end up having a real breakdown as his theatrics dredge up feelings he had been suppressing for years now and he sobs over how his life has been completely ruined, how it's all his own fault, and how he's driven away or lost everybody he ever cared about to the point that he doesn't think anybody would even care if he just up and died.
  • The Boys (2019): Homelander puts on an impressive display of these when lamenting that he and Queen Maeve arrived three minutes too late to save a hijacked plane from crashing in the Atlantic Ocean. They actually arrived in plenty of time to save the plane, but Homelander getting a bit too trigger happy with his heat vision resulted in the rescue quickly becoming doomed. What was meant to be a triumphant example of Vought's heroes' ability to assist in national defense becomes an object lesson in why they should have been in the first place.
  • CSI: Used by a suspect whom Jim Brass bluntly informs that his wife is dead. The man instantly starts bawling and Brass tells him to "stop with the crocodile tears." The man does so instantly and continues the conversation without crying at all.
  • CSI: NY: Used by the girl who manipulates the people around in an intrigue that results in murder in "A Daze of Wine and Roaches." And our heroes find out by running a chemical analysis of the tears...
  • The second episode of Dexter featured a prolific drunk driver who specialized in these. The episode was aptly titled "Crocodile".
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Runaway Bride", after the Doctor gets Donna to her wedding reception (which her family and friends have decided to hold without her, to her annoyance), everyone begins demanding to know how she pulled her disappearing act at the wedding. Donna bursts into fake tears to get them to shut up, and casts a knowing wink toward the Doctor while she "cries" into Lance's shoulder.
    • At the end of "The Eaters of Light", Missy is moved to shed tears, but the Doctor naturally suspects he's being manipulated by his friend-turned-arch enemy.
      Missy: I don't even know why I'm crying. Why? Why do I keep doing that now?
      The Doctor: I don't know. Maybe you're trying to impress me.
      Missy: Yes. Probably some devious plan. That sounds about right.
  • Referred to by name in an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Ashley uses them to get Will to agree to participate in a scheme but blows it when he catches her smiling reflection in a window after he says yes.
  • Hornblower, "The Even Chance": Having been rescued from the sea, Midshipman Jack Simpson, a hissable, twisted villain of a Bully, tries to look shattered and sheds some crocodile tears when he gives his report regarding the destruction of the Justinian and the loss of Captain Keene. It's quite a performance, but Captain Pellew and the other officers are mostly embarrassed and visibly uncomfortable.
  • In Justified, when Donovan threatens to shoot Quarles for killing Brady, Quarles tears up, confessing that his father forced him into prostitution as a child to get money for heroin. Donovan lowers his gun, and a tearful Quarles embraces him. Later, we see Donovan bound and gagged in Quarles' bathroom just before Quarles sexually assaults him, suggesting that Quarles' tears were a ruse.
  • In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk's Other Brother", Adrian Monk's con artist half-brother Jack Monk Jr. turns out to have mastered this. At one point, he fakes hysterical sobbing while posing as a relative of the murder victim he's been framed for killing, to get into the victim's residence. Adrian remarks, "I can't help but notice your fake crying looks a lot like your real crying."
  • Phoenix opens with the Major Crime Squad raiding a house looking for some fugitive bank robbers, only to cop a load of screaming abuse from their mother. She's later shown being interviewed on television, weeping and claiming she was too terrified even to speak.
  • Sense8: Sun's brother Joong-ki visits her in prison and tearfully informs her that their father killed himself the previous night out of shame over the family's situation. Sun, who knows their father was about to admit that she took the fall for Joong-ki, sees right through her brother's act and accuses him of murdering their father. Joong-ki's tears immediately vanish, confirming he was faking his "grief".
  • Sherlock: Sherlock is apparently able to cry on cue.
    • In "The Great Game", he pretends to be a grieved friend when speaking to a victim's wife purposely getting things wrong about her husband to get her to reveal information by contradicting him. Once he has his information, Sherlock instantly drops the act and wipes away his fake tears as he and John leave.
    • Sherlock pulls out the fake tears yet again in "A Scandal in Belgravia" while pretending to be a priest that had been mugged.
    • Word of God reveals that the tears atop St. Bart's were also fake. He was trying to upset John so that John would believe that Sherlock had killed himself.
    • In "The Empty Hearse", Sherlock uses this to catalyse John's decision to forgive him by pretending he is unable to defuse a ticking time bomb so that John thinks that they are both about to die. Once he is forgiven, he breaks down laughing.
  • In the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part One" (S02, Ep21), Ava pretends to sob hysterically to deflect suspicion away from her for the deaths of the other Special Children.
  • Yellowjackets: In "Burial" Misty puts in the performance of a lifetime while trying to convince Mari and Akilah that she's distraught over her friend Crystal's disappearance. In reality, Misty caused Crystal to walk off a ledge while fearfully backing away from Misty, who had shown her true colors to her. Akilah appears to give Misty the benefit of the doubt, but Mari definitely does not.

  • Invoked in the song "A Girl in Trouble Is A Temporary thing" by Romeo Void.
"There's a time when every girl learns to use her head. Tears will be saved 'til they're better spent."


    Video Games 
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, after Harley Quinn has been recaptured, she sits in her cell sobbing pitifully with her face buried in her hands. However, she occasionally looks up to make sure that Batman is still looking at her, and Detective Vision reveals that her heart rate is still registering as 'Calm'.
  • During Bioshock Infinite Elizabeth realizes Booker has been deceiving her about escaping to Paris and is really taking her to New York to be used in paying off his debts, she starts crying somewhat abruptly. Booker approaches her, clearly about to apologize- and then a noticeably dry-eyed Elizabeth knocks him out with a wrench.
  • Banshees in Miitopia use these to make Miis cry, incapacitating them for a while.
  • An audial version appears in Mouth Sweet, where the Bugs have learned to mimic human crying. They do so effectively enough that one of the last employees is unable to bring themselves to venture any further, despite knowing that the cries are false.
  • No More Heroes: Bad Girl has an attack that utilizes this. At any point during her boss fight, she will stop and cry on the floor. If the player attacks her while she is fake crying, she will attack the player with her bat with such a savage attack it might as well be a one-hit kill (though the player can survive if it has almost full health). However, she isn't faking all the time, she is, after all, fighting you while blindingly drunk, and if both of her hands are on her face, she is genuinely crying, but if she has one hand in her face and another in her weapon, it's a trick.
  • Persona 5: Ann can learn the ability "Crocodile Tears" during her social link, has the effect of sometimes causing her to fake cry when a negotiation attempt with a Shadow fails, turning it into a success.
  • Pokémon: Dark-types have a reputation for using dirty tricks, with moves like Sucker Punch. True to form, there is a dark-type move called Fake Tears that lowers the enemy's Special Defense stat when used.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: After returning from the Ocean House Hotel with the pendant needed to exorcise the ghosts within, the player meets Jeanette instead of Therese, who asks to hold on to the pendant. Refusing causes Jeanette to start crying, saying how Therese doesn't trust her with important things and treats her like an idiot. Continue to refuse, and Jeanette reasserts herself suspiciously quickly. If you give in, she throws the pendant into the ocean as soon as you leave, rendering the exorcism impossible, just to spite Therese.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Comics 
  • Douglas from City of Somnus does this, along with screaming like an upset toddler, when Odette won't do what he wants her to. But after spending some time away from the manipulation, it's lost its effect on her.
  • Zola in Girl Genius does this here. She might be really crying, but considering that she managed to out-Chessmaster Lucrezia, it's highly unlikely.
  • My Sister Suprema: When Randy and Cecelia's father sees the wreckage that Randy's machine and Cece's Super-Strength have caused, Cece starts fake crying and tells him it was a lightning strike. Her trauma is so convincing, her parents let her skip school the next day.

    Web Original 
  • Manga Soprano:
    • Misa cries as she justifies her cheating to her husband Haruki with Ram's husband Yoshikazu. However, he isn't fooled.
    • Junko recurs to these when called out on her manipulative antics.
    • Shiho breaks into a crying, self-deprecating mess when Ram called her out for her mistakes. Shiho manages to get Kinoshita's attention to get Ram off her back.
  • Maximus Slade from T.O.T. tries to garner sympathy from Mark after he subdues him by crying a bit and saying he doesn't know what's wrong with him mentally. Mark sees through his lie instantly, and Maximus immediately switches back to his smug demeanor.

    Web Videos 
  • The "North Korean Photoshop Tutorial" by CollegeHumor has Photoshop Project Manager Brian O'Neil Hughes do this touch up a crowd photo from Kim Jong-Il's funeral:
    Brian O'Neil Hughes: Now let's move into some closeup shots of the crowd. Okay, these people are going to need to be a lot sadder. So this is where our Warp Tool comes in. We'll just droop these jowls a bit, okay. Just drag this frown down here. Yeah, just really make this woman look like a rotting misery pumpkin. We'll take the soft brush here and add in a few tears. [the result is that the woman looks cartoonishly miserable, with over-the-top tears exploding from the side of her face] And I've gone ahead and done that for the rest of these people as well... whoops, got a little smudge there! Let's take care of that real quick. [he draws a box around a soldier pointing a gun at these mourners; with a button press, the gun is replaced with a cat] Great. Everything's great.

    Western Animation 
  • D.W. from Arthur has a knack for pulling these on occasion in order to get her way.
    • In "Cast Away", it is implied that she was using these to make her parents take her to the science museum with her dad and Arthur since she immediately stops crying when her mom asks if they should bring her along.
    • In "The Pageant Pickle", she pretends to be sad because none of her friends wanted to perform in her preschool spring pageant with her, which makes Arthur feel sorry for her and agree to perform in her friends' stead. Afterwards, Arthur finds out that she never even asked her friends to perform in the pageant in the first place, and was faking crying in order to take advantage of Arthur's sympathy for her and make him humiliate himself in front of an audience.
  • Name-dropped but not used in The Batman, when Killer Croc (the show's version is an actual crocodile-man rather than a guy with a really bad skin condition) reveals his plan to flood the city's financial district to make robbing jewelry stores easier. Batman mentions the death toll, Croc says he'll shed a crocodile tear for each and every victim.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Poison Ivy is very convincing at this in her debut episode "Pretty Poison." Acting like Harvey Dent's grief stricken girlfriend after he ends up mysteriously poisoned and comatose following their dinner date. We later learn she did it via a goodnight kiss.
  • On Chowder, Panini resorted to applying saline solution in her eyes and then sobbing for Chowder to come back to being the "father" of a bluenana she adopted.
  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines:
    • Dick Dastardly affects this in a ploy to get Muttley, Klunk, and Zilly — whose discharges are imminent — to stay and complete the mission (episode "Home Sweet Homing Pigeon").
    • Muttley does this in "Operation Anvil" when Dastardly takes his medal away. Muttley gets it back after secretly tying a string to it.
  • In Doug, Roger attempts this to try and convince Doug to look after his cat, Stinky, while he and his mother go off to a monster truck show. As he does, Doug's sister, Judy, an actress, whispers "Doug, what's that noise he's making?"
  • Jonny does this in an episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy when he throws a party and only the Eds show up, much to Eddy's annoyance. Eddy decided to walk out, and Jonny begins crying and saying how he only wanted to have a special day for Plank. Eddy (reluctantly) decides to stay, only for Jonny to shout, "FOOLED YA!" and stop crying.
  • The Flintstones:
    • Wilma would sometimes resort to this to get Fred to do something for her. Once he agreed, she would immediately perk up. Betty also did this to Barney at least once.
    • Pebbles often did this too.
  • Bloo does this to Wilt in the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "Cuckoo for Coco Cards."
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: In "Mortal Dilemma," Mandy mock cries when Grim bemoans his lot in afterlife. She snaps back and gives Grim his orders for the day.
  • Kaeloo: Kaeloo often sheds crocodile tears as a way of guilt-tripping her friends, especially Mr. Cat, into doing something they otherwise wouldn't do, for her sake.
  • Rudolph, the feline antagonist of the Looney Tunes short "Puss 'n' Booty," cries a pool of crocodile tears upon the disappearance of the house pet canary. His mistress thinks the bird flew away from home which is why Rudolph is crying, but Rudolph actually ate it.
  • The fake Cadance does this in both parts of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic finale "A Canterlot Wedding".
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): In "Getting Twiggy With It", Mitch very cleverly uses these every time the Girls interrupt his torture of Twiggy.
    • The girls themselves apply this in the special "Dance Pantsed" to get the Professor to buy them a hot new video game.
  • The Cryer Kid in Recess has a knack for bursting into tears on command, usually after he has been paid to do so. And he's good at it, too!
  • Discussed in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. At one point, Double Trouble admits that they can't do this very well; in order to tear up when a role requires it, they need to imagine children falling...
  • The Simpsons: In the episode, "The War of the Simpsons", Grampa Simpson used this to guilt-trip Bart and Lisa into cleaning up the house after they throw a wild party when Homer and Marge are away; he throws it in their faces at the end, saying he can turn it on and off like a faucet.
  • South Park:
    • In "Good Times with Weapons", the boys convince Roger, the knife seller at the Park County Fair, to sell them ninja weapons by pretending to be orphaned brothers when he tells them they need parental permission to buy bladed weapons. One by one, they false-heartedly bawl over their supposedly dead parents, and the flustered Roger agrees to pack up the weapons. As he leaves, the boys stop crying immediately, followed by what Stan says afterwards:
    • Veronica does this in the episode "The Succubus" when the boys call her out at Chef's Wedding Rehearsal Dinner Party as a succubus who is out to steal Chef's life, only for Veronica to fool everyone else by doing this in front of Chef, who in turn, berates the boys for making her cry, even though it's all an act.
    • And then, in "The Wacky Molestation Adventure", the boys discover that they can make their parents "go away" for a while by calling the police, pretending to cry, and claiming that their parents "molestered" them. After a quick Montage, all the adults in town are gone.
  • On Steven Universe, Aquamarine's design invokes this—she has a tear-shaped gem right under her eye, but she's actually a condescending Jerkass who treats humans like bugs and isn't much nicer to Topaz, either.
  • Total Drama: Heather is the one who employs crocodile tears the most, but certainly not the only one.
    • In "Search and Do Not Destroy", Heather commences her scheme to break up Trent and Gwen by fake crying on the Dock of Shame. Trent reaches out to console her over whatever has her wailing, at which point she maneuvers her way to tearfully relaying how cruel Gwen's been to her and that she's been saying awful things about Trent too. Trent doesn't know what to think but doesn't dismiss Heather's claims.
    • The reward for the challenge in "One Flu Over the Cuckoos" is that one contestant gets to go on a spa trip. Leshawna breaks into tears over the stress of being on the show, prompting her team to unanimously give her the reward out of sympathy. However, once on her way in the Lame-o-Sine, Leshawna reveals that she played her team for the spa trip. When later they find out about it, Leshawna becomes an outcast.
    • For the entire challenge at the Louvre in "Can't Help Falling in Louvre", Sierra is bawling over the fact that Cody tried to vote her off the previous challenge. Because she's a bother to the entire team, Cody is forced to cheer her up, but nothing he does makes her happy until he puts his foot down. She then reveals in the confessional that all the crying was an act to get Cody to pay attention to her.
    • Duncan and Alejandro cooperate to break down Courtney's defenses in "Picnic at Hanging Dork". While Alejandro flirts with her, Duncan opens the floodgates to make Courtney believe that he still has feelings for her and thus that flirting back with Alejandro doubles as payback for Duncan's cheating. In a confessional, Duncan explains that fake crying is a trick he learned young and has a lot of experience with to make things go his way.
    • When it seems no one will really miss Owen when he's made to leave the plane in "Niagara Brawls", Blaineley begins sobbing and claims she'll miss him most of all. This makes Owen feel better until a few seconds in Blaineley looks up cheerily and asks if she was convincing and if it'll help her popularity with the audience.
    • Heather cannot beat Alejandro per the rules of the finale in "Hawaiian Punch", so she exploits his weakness for her and gets the waterworks going. With a few well-played (and not entirely insincere) lines, Heather gets him to believe she's crying over the fact he'll leave her when he has the prize money, which makes Alejandro falter long enough for her to get him out of her way.
    • Dakota tries to curry audience sympathy in "Bigger! Badder! Brutal-er!" by pretending to cry in the confessional after Chris makes fun of her for being attacked by a mutated squirrel. She throws out the first take to make sure she's still looking good while crying, then orders a second take.
    • In "Runaway Model", Scott realizes that the merge can't be far off and that he has yet to get a hold on the Mutants Maggots. When the teams head out to save Lindsay from Sasquatchanakwa, he draws Zoey's attention by moaning and sobbing. When she asks him about it, he expresses regret over the Toxic Rats voting off Dawn, who could've talked to Sasquatchanakwa. For extra measure, he leans on Zoey's shoulder to cry some more and successfully wins her sympathy. In the confessional, his fake crying flows over into sincere maniacal laughter.
    • In "Up, Up, and Away in My Pitiful Balloon", Heather tearfully pretends to be sorry for stealing that season's prize money to catch Lightning off-guard. He believes her and gets beaten up for it.
    • When Samey stands up for herself during breakfast in "Twinning Isn't Everything", Amy feigns hurt that her own sister would talk to her like that and throws herself in Scarlett's arms for a session of crying. It gains her the sympathy of the entire team (minus Jasmine), leaving Samey with little choice but to remove herself from the situation.
    • In "Tortoise Rigamortis", Julia weeps while guilt tripping Emma for killing a turtle to get her eliminated. However, the others instead vote for Emma because she proved to be a challenge threat.


Alternative Title(s): Fake Tears


Elora's parking

The parallel parking portion of Elora's driving test proves impossible, so she improvises.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / DrivingTest

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