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Crying a River

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

We all know the expression "to cry oneself a river" is an exaggeration, 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 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.



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     Fan Works 

     Films- Animated 
  • 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.

  • 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 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.

     Live-Action TV 
  • 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.

  • 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.)

  • 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.

     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 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.

     Religion and Mythology 

     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 
  • 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 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 
  • 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.
  • The Disney short "The Ballad of the Loch Ness Monster", Nessie has nowhere to live, so she cries for weeks before realising she's cried a whole lake.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Spongebob Squarepants:
    • For the page image, Pearl has a habit of crying so much that it floods the building she's in, usally 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.
    • 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 "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 with a cranking hole maker.
  • 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.
  • Wakfu: A great flood was caused in the past by Ogrest, whose heart was as compassionate as his tear ducts were limitless.


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