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Crying a River

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Remember that she's already underwater.

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 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.



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    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.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • 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 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 
  • 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 takes it Up to Eleven. 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 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 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 flooded with tears and Slinkman had to use a boat.
  • In the The Casagrandes 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 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Mighty B!: In "Portrait of a Happy", Bessie bawls enough to flood her room with tears when she gets yelled at by Fritz.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls episode, "The City of Frownsville", The main 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.
  • 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 "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 cranking hole maker.
    • 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.
  • 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.


Video Example(s):


The Engagement

Scoutmaster Lumpus cries enough to flood his office.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / CryingARiver

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