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Crying Critters

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In the real world, humans are the only animals that are known to cry from emotions. Lots of other animals have tear ducts, but with the exception of humans, they only cry with tears if there is something irritating their eyes or if something is wrong with their tear ducts. In fiction, however, anyone can cry, even the animals. Sometimes, even creatures such as fish and snakes, who have no eyelids.

Usually, this is to get people to sympathize— after all, a lot of people think a character, animal or human, seems more sad if they're crying, and if they're crying Tears of Joy, then they seem more happy or happy in a more special way.

NOTE: This trope is for animals who are meant to act much like a real-life animal, such as a Nearly Normal Animal. Animals who are meant to act like humans, such as a Funny, Civilized, or even a Partially Civilized Animal, do not count, as that would be as meaningful as a human crying.


Note that this trope also does not apply to Robots or Animate Inanimate Object's, since they aren't really animals (and the trope for that may be Tears from a Stone but only if certain other things apply) nor does it apply to aliens (even if said aliens resemble Earth-like animals) since who knows what creatures on other planets can do, nor mythological creatures (like vampires, werewolves, etc) even if they resemble a real creature (such as unicorns): since they don't exist in real life so they can do whatever the writer wants without worrying about realism.

It is worth mentioning that whether animals can cry emotional tears or not is a hotly debated topic in ethology, the study of animal behaviour - many ethologists disagree with the statement that humans are the only animals who can cry.

Sub-trope of Artistic License – Biology. Compare Through a Face Full of Fur and Furry Denial for other things animals can do in fiction but not real life. See also Mouthy Bird for another trope about animals emoting in ways that they shouldn't be able to. Please note that Crying Wolf is not a subtrope of this one.


Note: If you know an animal who sheds tears, you should ask the vet about this. No animal sheds tears from sadness and something might be wrong with your animal's tear ducts.


    open/close all folders 

  • Retail toy store Toys "R" Us has the tearful Geoffrey the Giraffe as the store is going out of business and closing all 1,795 stores Worldwide. After the store went out of business, Their website had a tearful Geoffrey the Giraffe with the message, Don't need to grow up! Thanks to Toys R Us Kids in (Name of Country) for (Random Number) years of fun! And the under the picture, The caption would read Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores in (Insert name of a country) are no longer trading!

    Anime & Manga 

    Asian Animation 
  • Lamput: In "Age Remote", Lamput and the docs are fighting over a remote the latter duo invented that can increase or decrease the age of any living thing. They keep firing it off in different directions, and one of the shots hits an egg in a bird's nest. The egg turns into a full-grown bird that flies away, and the bird's parent can be seen shedding a tear as it witnesses its child leaving.
  • Motu Patlu: In "The Revenge of Crows", when the crows fall into the net trap, they start to cry as they beg Motu, Patlu, and Chingum to let them go, worrying about their children in their nests.

    Comic Books 
  • The Warrior Cats books themselves avoid tears of sadness, but the graphic novels don't do the same. One example is that several cats are seen crying at Tallstar's vigil in Winds of Change.

    Fan Works 
  • Many Warrior Cats fan-works depict crying cats (partly because not all readers are aware that cats don't cry, partly intentionally for emotional impact):
  • The Bolt Chronicles: Happens frequently in this series.
    • In “The Seven,” the Jack Russell terrier puppy picks on her Labrador retriever puppy friend, making her cry.
    • In “The Blood Brother,” Bolt breaks into tears during his apology to Mittens, fearful that she may not forgive him.
    • In “The Wind,” Bolt, whose girlfriend has just run away to the city, sobs uncontrollably after listening to the Derek and the Dominos album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, most of whose selections contain lyrics about lost love.
    • In “The Survivor,” Mittens cries bitterly after being abandoned in a Manhattan alley.
    • In “The Rings,” a single tear rolls down Mittens's cheek when Bolt asks if she will accept him as her soulmate.
    • In “The Mall,” Mittens breaks into tears of relief after listening to "Bridge over Troubled Water" by Simon & Garfunkel, now feeling fully convinced that Penny and her family truly love her.
    • In “The Ship,” a single tear rolls down Mittens's cheek after definitively declaring her love for Bolt.
    • In “The Gift,” Mittens cries when Bolt collapses and dies.

    Films — Animated 
  • Bambi:
    • The titular character (a deer) cries after The Great Prince, his father, tells him that his mother had been taken away by the man.
    • In the second movie The Great Prince sheds a tear when he thinks Bambi died.
  • Finding Nemo: When Dory thinks Marlin doesn't like her, she bursts into tears.
  • Horton Hears a Who!:
    • When searching for the Whos in the clover field, Horton cries.
    • Vlad cries upon seeing the emotional moment at the end.
  • In The Land Before Time, dinosaurs and other animals are capable of crying.
  • Downplayed in The Lion King. Lions can cry, as seen in the original film (most notably Simba in the film's most notorious scene), but the series usually avoids tears. The Lion King II: Simba's Pride features several upset lion characters but no one cries; the closest is when Simba's eyes shine like he's holding back tears. Timon and Pumbaa are always an exception, though – in the first film they break into Inelegant Blubbering at the end of "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," and their bawling at emotional moments becomes a Running Gag in the sequels. The 2019 remake averts this altogether, however, with no tears at all so as not to ruin the film's photorealism.
  • Sebastian cries Tears of Joy at Ariel's wedding in The Little Mermaid (1989).
  • Shrek2: Donkey is required to cry because the card to talk to the Fairy Godmother is activated by tears.
  • Tarzan: Tarzan's adoptive gorilla mom, Kala, cries when he chooses to go with Jane. He changes his mind later.
  • In Titanic: The Legend Goes On: All the animals are seen crying when they escape in rowboats, just like the humans.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Cool World, having been freed from the pen during the climax, Nails the Spider looks at Frank's corpse and cries.
  • In Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, when Azusa Gojo is forced to send the baby Godzilla Junior away under Godzilla's protection for his safety, the little dinosaur is distraught and tries to follow her. She pleads and he understands her, Junior shedding tears as his adoptive mother stroked his face and said her goodbyes.

  • The dogs in Doglands cry tears when upset.
  • In Felicity Floo Visits the Zoo, the hyenas cry instead of laughing.
  • In the Frances books, the badgers sometimes cry. In "Best Friends For Frances", Frances describes her sister Gloria, who's only about one or two, as being "not much good at all except for crying".
  • In How to Be Comfortable in Your Own Feathers, the mother bird cries a Single Tear upon seeing her kid trying to change who he/she/they/it is.
  • Animals, such as the Cowardly Lion, have been shown to cry in the Land of Oz books.
  • In the book Lily the Lamb, Lily cries when she gets lost.
  • In The Magician's Nephew, Aslan the lion cries at the idea of the boy using the magical apples to cure his mother.
  • In the Miffy books, the bunnies sometimes cry. There is even a book called "Miffy is Crying".
  • Discussed in The Witch's Daughter where Janie asks if crocodiles cry after hearing the expression "crocodile tears".
  • In Charlotte's Web, Wilbur the pig cries frequently throughout the book. In the animated adaptation the humans even notice his tears over Charlotte's death.
  • Warrior Cats averts this. Despite its Artistic License – Biology in other instances, cats only show sadness with body language instead. The series only uses tears in cases of eye irritation and sickness.
    • In Firestar's Quest, Longtail's eyes are mentioned to be stained with tears, but whether this is from irritation or sadness over going blindnote  is left unstated.
  • In Little Miss Sunshine, Miseryland animals can cry like humans, because everyone is always sad in Miseryland.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Jimmy Kimmel Live! sketch about Toys R Us going out business and closing all 1,795 stores worldwide. Geoffrey the Giraffe (the Toys R Us mascot) is all upset and drunk tearfully over the closure of Toys R Us.
    Geoffrey: Do you like Toys?
    Audience: YES! (They all cheer and applause)
    Geoffrey: (Voice breakdown) Well, I don't any toys! Because we are bankrupted (Sobbing hysterically)
    Jimmy Kimmel: Oh, Cheer up, Geoffrey! It will be okay!
    Geoffrey: NO! IT WON'T BE OKAY! BECAUSE ALL YOU MANIAC MONSTER BOUGHT TOYS ON AMAZON! (Voice breaks down) Now I am out of a job! (Sobbing hysterically)
  • Walking with Dinosaurs: The "Giant of the Skies" episode is about a Giant Flyer Ornithocheirus who flies to his mating grounds so he can attract a mate. But because he is older and has been met with a few snags along the way, he has been ousted from the desirable mating grounds. Just before he dies alone of exhaustion as a result, get a close-up on the old Ornithocheirus. With what appears to be tear-stains on his face, he looks like he's crying.

  • The song "My Tiger, My Heart" has the tiger cry on the narrator's shoulder at one point.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Between the Lions: The pigeons Walter and Clay cry after the hen was eaten by the cat in "Farmer Ken's Puzzle". They also cry briefly in "Icarus's Wings".
  • Sesame Street:
    • One animated skit has a girl trying to figure out why a dog is crying.
    • The Three Little Kittens cry in the song "All I Can Do is Cry".
    • In the episode where Curly Bear is born, Baby Bear complains about her crying.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Does The Dog Die uses this to rate movies. If the dog icon is happy, that means no pets die or are hurt, if the dog is frowning but not crying, that means one or more pets are hurt and/or appear dead, but no pets die, and if the dog is crying, that means that at least one pet dies.
  • In the Hector's World episode about cyberbullying, Ming the clam cries.

    Western Animation 
  • Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain: All the animal characters on both shows are capable of crying, whether they're anthropomorphized or not. Standout examples include Skippy Squirrel's Inelegant Blubbering over Bumbie's mom and both Pinky and the Brain crying in the climactic scene of their Christmas special.
  • Baby Looney Tunes: All of the main characters can cry. But in the episodes "Mother’s Day Madness" and "Move It", all of the main characters cry, but in "Takers Keepers", all except Daffy cry.
  • Lampshaded in the Futurama episode "Mars University", where the Professor's experimental monkey Guenter cries over not being happy despite gaining super-intelligence by a special hat he's wearing.
    Leela: I didn't know monkeys could cry.
    Guenter: They can't. It's all the hat. (continues sobbing)
  • Let's Go Luna!: Leo, a wombat, is incredibly Prone to Tears. He cries in several episodes, such as "Me and My Elephant" and "A Chopsticky Situation".
  • Madeline: Genevieve the dog occasionally sheds tears, most notably in ''Madeline and the Singing Dog''. Also, in Madeline and the Talking Parrot, the parrot spends most of the episode crying out of homesickness, and in Madeline and the Mean, Nasty Horrible Hats, a bull calf sheds a tear of fear as he anticipates the mean boys of the title coming to fight him.
  • Martha Speaks: While none of the animals cry tears, Helen does imagine Martha crying so much from missing her she floods the house in the episode "Martha's Blue Period".
  • Ni Hao, Kai-Lan: Kai-Lan or one of her animal friends may cry for any reason, which is usually attempted to have found out. This happened only once in season one, when in Ni Hao, Halloween, Rintoo is believed to have been denied the opportunity to go trick or treating to his dismay, even saying there is nothing he and his friends can do. Despite which, his friends refused to go without him.
Rintoo: “I CAN’T?! I CAN’T?! I CAN’T GO TRICK OR TREATING?!” (breaks down wailing)
  • Peg + Cat: In "The Three Friends Problem", Cat cries a Single Tear when he thinks Peg doesn't like him anymore.
  • B.O.T. and the Beasties shows some beasties crying in only 5 episodes. Snowy Chucker (losing snow) Fluffy Trembler (losing her fluff), Giggling Gurgle (easily upset), Sweepy Swish (untidy fur) and Happy-Sad Klomp (who cries when it's cloudy). All beasties cry with visible sprinkler tears.

    Real Life 
  • Emma the cow cried as she was hauled off to the slaughterhouse. Several people noticed this and she was taken to a farm animal sanctuary.


Video Example(s):


Jewel Cries

Jewel cries a single tear while flying away after having a argument with Blu

How well does it match the trope?

4.83 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / CryingCritters

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