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Crying a River

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She's literally underwater. So what if she is able to make up with it?

This is the story of a girl
Who cried a river, and drowned the whole world
Nine Days, "Absolutely (Story of a Girl)"

We all know the expression "to cry oneself a river" is a figure of speech, right? Well, not always in Fictionland. This is for when a character's tears could at least fill a bathtub, but sometimes they could fill an entire ocean.

It's usually a gag trope, used to perhaps bring some levity to an otherwise sad scene, but other times it's exploited by having people actually swim in the tears or get knocked over by the tidal wave or whatever.

Sometimes, the character doing the crying is huge (a giant, a large dragon, etc) so you have a good reason for their producing that much saltwater. Other times, they're regular-sized but cry that much anyway, due to Rule of Funny or because they're just that sad or whatever the case may be.

Not to be confused with Ocular Gushers, which involves tears spurting out like a fire hydrant, but doesn't necessarily involve the tears accumulating in a large pool. The two do often occur together, though. Compare Swiss-Army Tears. May result from Giant's Droplet, Human's Shower. For one funny effect: The character cries filling up the entire set. Fish then swim around through the tears, as if the tears were like the ocean.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In one episode of Anpanman, Baikinman and Dokinchan cry so much that their tears flood their lair and cause waterfalls.
  • Hakushon Daimao: Mao tends to this. For example, when the genie meets Kan's grandson for the first time, he floods the whole room with his tears because he thinks his magic has become completely useless due to technological advances.
  • My Hero Academia: In one episode, Mama Midoriya was so proud of what Deku did in the past, that she cries tears of joy. Deku was also proud. And then they cry enough tears to flood the room offscreen and cause a huge waterfall.
  • In the Pokémon Journeys: The Series episode "There's a New Kid in Town!", they are 10 Pokémon (Butterfree, three Dustox, Muk, Scyther, Galarian Farfetch'd, Dragonite and Golurk), and they cry a huge puddle of tears.
  • In episode 23 of Powerpuff Girls Z, the kabuki monster makes everyone cry and floods New Townsville with their tears.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: A short montage in Season 8 episode 3 shows Huo Haha going through as many transformations as possible to see if any will benefit in Big M.'s scheme to find one of the elemental wands. One of the forms Huo takes is a baby who cries so much that it floods the room, with Big M. and Little M. in the deluge.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Weslie uses this to his advantage in Great War in the Bizarre World episode 2, where to escape a cauldron that the bee soldiers have trapped the goats in, he notices Tibbie and Paddi crying and has everyone else cry as well, flooding the cauldron to the point that it bursts.

    Eastern Animation 
  • KikoRiki: In the episode "If You're Going to Cry", Rosa gets stuck in a tree, imagining how she'd fall from it and make her friends cry because of it. This causes her to cry for so long, her tears manage to flood the entire planet.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • In Disney's Alice in Wonderland, as in the book, Alice cries a massive flood of tears when she grows into a giant, and then floats on the waves along with assorted birds and other animals after she shrinks again.
  • In A Troll in Central Park, Gnorga casts a spell on Gus to make him cry a sea of tears to drown Stanley. But Stanley saves himself, Gus and Rosie by magically enlarging Gus's toy boat into a real one, while Gus overcomes Gnorga's spell through his will to save Rosie.
  • In Shrek, Donkey goes to lie next to a lake mourning that Shrek won't let him stay in the swamp. It then turns out the lake is actually a pool of tears shed by the dragon he was flirting with.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A rare Live-Action example occurs in The Wildcat, when Rischka comes home to find that Pepo has created a literal river of tears due to his bawling after she left. Combined with Ocular Gushers.

  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is probably the Trope Codifier: Alice grows into a giant and then cries enough to make a lake, which she and many small animals and birds swim in after she shrinks again.
  • In the kids' book Gus the Dinosaur Bus, Gus cries enough to fill the swimming pool, then takes up a new job as the pool's slide.
  • Referenced in The Jolly Pocket Postman, where there's a boat named Alice's Tears as a reference to Alice from Alice in Wonderland crying enough to fill a lake.
  • In the short story The Midnight Story on Griffin Hill by Margaret Mahy, a man tells a griffin a sad story and the griffin's tears fill a pool.
  • The Crybaby Cure in Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle: Melody Foxglove's problem is her excessive crying. Crybaby Tonic turns her eyes into faucets and she's unable to stop crying. She fills entire rooms or later a school field with her tears.
  • In the children's book You'll Be Sorry, a little girl mouse named Samantha hits her brother despite being told she'll be sorry if she did and he cries so much he floods the town. This is combined with Ocular Gushers.
  • At least two different versions of the tall tale of Pecos Bill describe the Great Salt Lake as being made of tears. In one version (the one used in the Rabbit Ears Productions retelling), when Bill fights a cyclone, he makes the cyclone cry in pain and its tears form the lake. In another version, Bill's own tears form the lake as he mourns the death of Slue-Foot Sue.

  • One joke about Doctor Who: "How many tears did the Doctor cry? Enough to fill a River" (the joke being because there's a character on Doctor Who called River Song.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show: In the episode "Empress Carlottas Necklace", Rob's mother cries over the necklace's beauty. When Laura lets her try it on and Rob holds up a mirror for her, she cries more. Rob's father suggests they take away the mirror before her tears flood the room.
  • Downplayed but still Played for Laughs in an episode of El Chavo del ocho. At the end, El Chavo is crying after Don Ramón hit him and holding a full bucket in his hands. Quico asks him why he has it if they don't need it anymore (as the water pipe they broke was fixed). El Chavo replies that the bucket isn't full of water, but of tears.
  • In Star Trek, the Klingons have a myth about a warrior named Kahless who lost his dead father's sword into the ocean, then cried so much the ocean flooded.

  • The Israeli song "A Girl named Kineret" (or "Kineret, a Weeping Girl") is about a girl who spent days crying for her beloved who didn't return. One day she was gone, only the Lake of Kineret remaining behind.
  • The page quote is "Absolutely (Story of a Girl)" by Nine Days, in which the first paragraph says that the girl in this song cried a river and drowned the whole world.
  • This is Played for Drama in the Orden Ogan song "Evil Lies in Every Man", depicting a legend where the noble a baroness is betrothed to finds out about her Star Crossed Lover, kills them, and imprisons her in his castle, where her rage and sorrow gradually consume her until she drowns the castle with her tears and entombs her captors beneath the lake formed as a result.
  • The song "Cry Me A River" by Arthur Hamilton, covered by everyone from Ella Fitzgerald and Michael Bublé.

    Myths & Religion 

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Puzzle Place: In the episode "Big Boys Don't Cry," Julie tries to rid Ben and Skye of their Men Don't Cry mindset by sharing a story about Paul Bunyan, in which he cried so much one day when Babe the Blue Ox got sick that his tears formed the Great Salt Lake.
  • Sesame Street
    • The show has skits about Baby Bear's living drawing Hero Guy. In one of them, they jump into their picture of a boat but Baby Bear has forgotten to draw the sea. However, this makes them so sad that together, they cry enough to make the ocean.
    • In the Elmo's World episode about Eyes, Elmo asks the viewers to help him count the tears that fall from a crying crocodile's eyes. As Elmo and the children count, the crocodile floods Elmo's room with his tears. After the crocodile cheers up, he opens the door, which drains the water.

    Tabletop Games 

  • In Annie, this doesn't actually happen, but the song "It's a Hard Knock Life" has the lyric "from the crying here you'd think this place would sink!".
  • In most productions of Swan Lake, the titular lake is made of tears. In the ballet's original version, they were cried by Odette's grandfather when his daughter, her mother, died, while in the later revised version they were cried by Odette's mother herself when Odette was changed into a swan.

    Video Games 
  • A Day In The Life Of A Slice Of Bread exaggerates this trope. One ending has the bread missing his family, which causes him to cry until the house floods which was where it started, and ended with the bread flooding planet Earth with his tears to the point where they were no survivors.
  • King's Quest V has a princess who got turned into a literal Weeping Willow by an evil witch. She spent all her time crying and playing her harp, creating a "pool of tears" around her.
  • In Snoopy's Grand Adventure, when Snoopy defeats King Totem in the Temple of Bunnies, King Totem cries so hard that he floods the temple with his tears. Snoopy can then swim in them up to the platform that Linus is on so that he [Snoopy] can rescue him.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Boy And Dragon episode "Love Quest", Dragon finds out that it takes a dangerous path to get to her love interest and cries Ocular Gushers, and later, fills up the bathtub with his own tear gushers.
  • In the DEATH BATTLE! episode "Tigerzord vs Gundam Epyon", after when Epyon defeats Tigerzord, Zordon cries so hard that his tank starts flooding with tears.
  • In Soarigami's video titled "The Most Annoying People on the Plane", the beginning and thumbnail of the video has the baby crying enough to flood the plane with tears.
  • Yo Mama: In one joke, the Ugly Mama makes 3 blind kids cry, who end up flooding the room. Combined with Ocular Gushers.

    Web Original 
  • On a Would You Rather? website, one of the randomly generated questions is "Would you rather cry forever [which would inevitably lead to a ludicrous amount of tears] or pee forever?".

    Western Animation 
  • In the Disney short "The Ballad of Nessie", Nessie has nowhere to live, so she cries for weeks before realising she's cried a whole lake.
  • Camp Lazlo: In "The Engagement", Scoutmaster Lumpus gets dumped by Jane Doe, and cries for 3 days until his office is flooded with tears and Slinkman had to use a boat.
  • The Casagrandes:
    • In the episode, "Grandparent Trap", when Frida cries while watching Camila, she floods her apartment with her tears. At one point, the apartment is half-flooded and Lalo swims in the tears with Carlitos riding on his back, and at the end of the episode, the apartment is completely flooded and Frida, Lalo, and Carlitos are all dressed in scuba suits.
    • In "Achy Breaky Art", Frida cries literal waterfalls of tears after reading the review on the last remaining newspaper in town and starts flooding the room. First, a puddle of tears goes through her door. Then, her tears gush out from the keyhole. And lastly, the paper goes through the keyhole, and an explosion of tears enters her door.
    • In "Lalo Land", When Ronnie Anne, Carl, and CJ are training Lalo to express emotions on cue, Lalo is told to think of a time when he was very sad. We are then treated to a flashback when Lalo was a puppy. He lost his favorite toy, and that made him cry Ocular Gushers. Cut back to the present, and Lalo has now flooded the apartment with his tears.
    • In "Born to Be Mild", Carl convinces Alexis to make fun of Bobby's hair, knowing that Bobby is Prone to Tears. Alexis comparing Bobby's hair to a dirty broom hurts Bobby's feelings and predictably results in him crying so hard he floods the mercado, to the point where Vito is swept away to the docks.
  • In The Crumpets episode "Ransoming Dad", Lil' One briefly floods the room with his tears when he cries about having the blame pinned on him by Caprice for the kidnapping of Pa, shouting that he didn't do it (he actually did, alongside Granny).
  • In The Cuphead Show! episode "Root Packed", after Ollie Bulb hears the cup brothers' conversation, he cries both Ocular Gushers and Onion Tears. Due to his tears and stench, all the partygoers start crying, including the bouncer. And everyone cries so much, that their tears flood the garden and get washed away. By the time that happened, even Cuphead and Mugman cry in Tears of Joy now that the vegetable garden is once again in bloom.
  • Dragon Tales: In "The Forest of Darkness" Ord turns invisible and starts to cry Tears of Fear when he decides he can't make it through the forest. Emmy then sees a river flowing in front of them and realize it's coming from Ord's tears. She tells Ord he needs to stop before he washes all of Dragon Land away.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy has quite a few examples:
    • In "Three Squares and an Ed", Ed is grounded and has cried a large puddle around him.
    • "Here's Mud in your Ed" sees Jimmy being scammed with a fake amusement park and subsequently crying a stream of tears that pours down the storm drain.
    • The Eds are invited to Jonny and Plank's Arbor Day celebration in "'Tween a Rock and an Ed Place", only to learn that they're the only guests there. When Eddy wants to leave, Jonny cries so much that his tears create a pool that Ed uses to fish in.
  • The Fairly Oddparents: In "Love Struck!", Timmy wishes for the world to be separated by gender, Mrs. Turner and the other women start crying when they don't have anything to "fill their void", and they flood the Colosseum with their tears.
  • In the Felix the Cat cartoon "40 Winks'', after when Felix locks the dog out of his own doghouse, the dog cries so hysterically that he floods the backyard with his tears, and his doghouse floats away.
  • Garfield and Friends: In "Binky Gets Cancelled", after when Binky finds out he lost his job, he cries so much he floods his boss' office.
  • I Am Weasel: In the episode "I Am Crybaby", several people cry so much that they flood the room and cause a waterfall. And in the last part, I.M. Weasel ends up flooding the planet with tears.
  • In the Littlest Pet Shop (2012) episode "Penny For Your Laughs", Penny Ling cries so much over Pepper's jokes she floods the day camp and almost drowns her.
  • In the Martha Speaks episode "Martha's Blue Period", Helen feels guilty about leaving Martha at home while she's in art class and imagines Martha crying enough to flood the house.
  • At the end of the Merrie Melodies cartoon "The Coo-Coo Nut Grove", everyone in the restaurant sadly cry so much that they flood the restaurant with their tears.
  • Middlemost Post:
    • In the "Skip Ads" short, after Angus tells a funny joke, Parker laughs enough to completely flood the room with tears.
    • In "The Tooth Hurts", Parker admits to Angus that Russell is barfing up letters, which causes him to flood the Middlemost Toast with tears.
  • The Mighty B!: In "Portrait of a Happy", Bessie bawls enough to flood her room with tears when Fritz refuses to take pictures of Happy.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls (1998) episode, "The City of Frownsville", The villain Lou Gubrious cries a sea of tears. In the same episode, the Professor advises the girls that the town will be flooded with tears in 10 minutes. And when the giant monster cries with Ocular Gushers, it was shortened to 5 minutes.
  • One Ren & Stimpy cartoon has Ren tell Stimpy a bedtime story about a giant [Stimpy] who's ostracized by his fellow giants and a farmer (Ren) whose well has run dry. The giant later breaks down in tears over the way he's been treated. The next morning, its discovered that he was sitting in the farmer's farm while crying and his tears have filled the farmer's well.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: In "Hypno-Puppy Luv", Mrs. Bighead befriends a dog that is really Rocko hypnotized (long story). When he runs away (really Heffer and Filbert saving him), Mrs. Bighead is so distraught that the water from her tears breaks the windows and floods her bedroom. Mr. Bighead has to use a boat to reach her and give her a goldfish to calm her down; it wasn't the dog she loved, but it won her heart all the same.
  • Rugrats: Discussed in "Hand-Me-Downs" when Angelica makes up a lie that giving away hand-me-downs makes you disappear and that Susie used to have a big sister named Yvonne, who disappeared after giving away hand-me-downs. When the babies point out that Susie never brought up Yvonne, Angelica claims that it's because Susie is still grieving (thereby not wanting to talk about Yvonne) and once cried so much that the Carmichaels needed a boat.
  • Scaredy Squirrel: In the episode "Momma Lisa Smile", Lisa starts crying and flooding the stage. Later, she starts laughing after looking at everyone screaming.
  • SheZow: In one episode, Guy Hamdon's sister Kelly takes him to see a chick flick. It's so intense that he briefly floods the theatre.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Pearl has a habit of crying so much that it floods the building she's in, always combined with Ocular Gushers. As shown in "Married to Money", the Krabs house even has drain plugs on the floor to empty out her tears. Despite already being underwater.
    • In the episode "Grandma's Kisses", SpongeBob doesn't want to be an adult because his peers tell him that certain things he likes getting from his grandma, such as homemade sweaters, cookies and milk, and the eponymous kisses, are for kids only, and he cries so much that he fills up his grandma's house.
    • In "Funny Pants", SpongeBob cries enough to flood both his and Squidward's house with tears when he broke his laugh box, and Squidward opens the front door and the flood knocks him over.
    • In "SpongeBob You're Fired", Spongebob's reaction to getting fired by Mr. Krabs causes him to cry so much that he floods the Krusty Krab with his tears. Squidward then drains them off by making a hole with a hand-powered drill.
    • Pearl's tear-flooding runs in the family - in "Mr. Krabs Takes a Vacation", Mr. Krabs cries hard enough to flood the Bikini Bottom Mint when he sees money being shredded. At the end of the episode, after Krabs is rewarded custom dollar bills for stopping a burglary, Pearl "charges" him for taking her on a lousy vacation and takes the bills, making him flood the building all over again.
  • Steven Universe has Rose's Fountain, a fountain constructed by Steven's mother and filled with her tears. Since Rose Quartz's tears had healing power, this is a place that the gems go to treat their injuries.
  • Tuca & Bertie: In the episode "The Jelly Lakes", there is a gag where Tuca and Bertie have a post-make-up cry. And they start crying so much that it completely floods their car with tears.
  • Wakfu: A great flood was caused in the past by Ogrest, whose heart was as compassionate as his tear ducts were limitless. As a result, this world is now composed of many archipelagos instead of a continent.

  • Yin Yang Yo!: In the first episode, Yin goes home crying after Yang stays at the gym without her, and Master Yo comforts her. Later in the episode, she ends up flooding the dojo with tears.


Video Example(s):



Borocca is an umbrella who is emotionally sensitive to the point where, whenever he cries, he uses his wonder in which a rain cloud appears over his head and it rains.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / ProneToTears

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