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Emotional Bruiser

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"These tears have been in the Armstrong line for generations!"

"Hither came Conan the Cimmerian... [...] a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth..."
Excerpt from "The Nemedian Chronicles," which opens the first Conan the Barbarian story, The Phoenix on the Sword

Oddly, it is understood that, while Men Don't Cry, the biggest, strongest guys are allowed more leeway in this respect than the average man or the hero. Perhaps because he was so tough nobody ever called him a "wimp" or "crybaby", so he was never bullied into hiding his emotions like others. Maybe it's just cultural: Russian or African society may value stoicism less than, for example, the uptight British, so that the Scary Black Man and the Husky Russkie can show their grief more openly than the Eaglelander or the Quintessential British Gentleman. Maybe it's just that big guys are generally uninhibited. Maybe it's something to do with the sensitive tough stereotype. Whatever; The Big Guy and/or the Boisterous Bruiser gets to cry more with less loss of credibility than other men.

Also, big bruisers are allowed to have a soft spot for children. Partly this is to make them less frightening. The other, more worrying part is that it seems safer than allowing normal-sized men to like kids. Does he know his own strength?

They are also less inhibited about a Man Hug, though your ribs may regret the experience after.

Sub-Trope of Bruiser with a Soft Center. Contrast Sensitive Guy and Manly Man where the traits are divvied up. See also Gentle Giant, Real Men Wear Pink, and Manly Tears.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Every one of the Manly Man warriors in Fist of the North Star.
  • Jerry aka Mr. Policeman from Kaleido Star was Sora Naegino's more devoted fanboy.
  • Sweden from Hetalia: Axis Powers is one of the tallest characters in the series, as well as Sealand's adoptive father. Don't be fooled by his (handsome) Face of a Thug, he's among the sweetest nation-tans.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist gives us Alex Louis Armstrong, one of the biggest members of the Amestris military as well as among the most emotional and awesome ones. In fact, he's also the source of a HUGE Tear Jerker in the backstory, as he weeps and holds the lifeless body of an Ishvalan child right after the infamous Ishvalan massacre. Also the fact that he attempts to save some Ishvalan women and children, only for Kimblee to blow them up as they were running away. And the Crimson Alchemist acts like he did Armstrong a favor. No wonder the poor man wept tears like hot bullets right then. Then there's his reaction at Hughes' funeral, spurred on by Maes' daughter pulling a Please Wake Up.
    • More amusingly, Armstrong is, in general, driven to excessive tears by just about anything remotely emotional, and he's also quite fond of delivering bear hugs, as seen in the page image (which has hilarious results when delivered to someone much smaller than he is).
  • One Piece:
    • A few characters from , where nearly everyone is someone you don't want to mess with, but especially Franky, who is a cyborg that could kick any normal person's ass (and promptly does so whenever necessary), but weeps openly whenever anything is remotely sad or emotionally evocative.
    • There will often be a moment in each arc in which The Hero Luffy faces up against the Big Bad and begins crying in response to the terrible things the baddie's committed either before or during the arc. Face-beating soon follows.
  • Naruto:
    • Might Guy is very, very emotional. He's thin for a bruiser, but he basically voluntarily uses nothing but taijutsu and he regularly bursts into Manly Tears and dramatic sunsets.
  • In The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Numata is the muscle of the gang and also the one most interested in upholding a 'masculine ideal' for himself. He is also overly emotional and tends to cry a bit. The others commonly mock him for it.
  • Kurita in Eyeshield 21 is very friendly and prone to bear-hugging his teammates when he's happy. Not to mention being prone to tears.
  • Bleach: Jidanbou is huge, he's tough, he's impressive. But when Ichigo destroys his axes in combat, Jidanbou bursts in tears. Ichigo, feeling guilty, apologises and Jidanbou cries even more at what good, generous person Ichigo is to care for his enemy. Turns out he's a Gentle Giant who was just doing his job of guarding the entrance gate to the shinigami's capital city. Unsurprisingly, Ichigo and Jidanbou become friends after that.
  • Joseph Joestar of Jojos Bizarre Adventure is a cool, wisecracking Combat Pragmatist, yet he wept like a baby when Caesar Zeppeli died, and he wasn't afraid to show it.
    • One of Joseph's foes, The Hot-Blooded Blaze King Esidisi, has erratic emotions that arguably make him a more terrifying opponent than his more stoic companions. Having his arm cut off in the middle of a heated battle, Esidisi bursts into a hysterical mess for all of about ten seconds. Joseph is extremely unnerved, even after he regains his composure. Esidisi's emotional investment in his comrade's plans drive him to become one of the more tenacious enemies in Part 2, as he's willing to resort to any tactic to achieve a victory of some sort, sacrificing his honor and his life to the cause.
    • Likewise, in the next arc, there's Jean Pierre Polnareff. He's very in touch of his emotions that he dedicated his fight over his emotions of vengeance over the death of his sister (though he got better and replaced it with fighting for his friends later), and has very Hot-Blooded and occasionally dumb or perverted moments. The bruiser part is more highlighted on how he's one of the close range/physical-oriented fighters of the group. And most of the time, he's the supplier of Manly Tears of the team. All in all, Polnareff picked up the slack when Joseph became Older and Wiser.
  • Misaki Yata of Project K is the loud, violent commander of HOMRA's front lines, and all in all he's not someone you want to mess with. He's also one of the most openly emotional characters in the show and seems to have no problem crying in front of others.
  • Knuckle Bine in Hunter × Hunter makes for a textbook example of this trope: Gon even worries about him being "too gentle". He talks and dresses like a stereotypical bad boy, but is easily brought to tears, especially when dogs are concerned.
    • Knuckle comes by his habits honestly, though. Under the right circumstances, Morel, his teacher and a formidable, seasoned hunter, is also known to cry like a baby.
  • Akira Fudo from Devilman is a half-demon bruiser who can tear other demons to shreds, but who is also very empathetic and kind-hearted (which is also the reason why he wasn't possessed by Amon when they were fused). DEVILMAN crybaby plays this up even more, with Akira shown as being highly emotional and prone to crying at the drop of a hat.

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix: Obelix, while a One-Man Army and feared for his anger, he is nevertheless very Prone to Tears every time he hear a sad story.
  • Sin City: Marv admits to crying as he listens to old Country and Western songs. And when he rescues a little girl from being sold into sexual slavery, he cradles the child in his arms as he brings her back to her mother.
  • Superman: Superman of course gets away with all sorts of emotional displays from crying openly to cooing over puppies and babies without being thought of as wimpy. It's sort of hard to think that way about a guy who can lift passenger jets and stop freight trains in their tracks, and since the superhero genre in general is much more forgiving of manly emotions than most action genres, obviously the toughest superhero would hit this trope the hardest. Even Clark Kent gets away with it, though, just because he's 6'3" and massive.
  • The Incredible Hulk: Naturally, the Hulk has this going for him a good deal. While he's mostly associated with anger, he often displays other intense emotions in combat; such as extreme sadness or fear. Hulk in most versions represents raw, unfettered emotion free from intellect or reason, so it's expected.
  • X-Men: Colossus can get quite emotional, which is no surprise given the Trauma Conga Line writers have put him through over the years. Honestly it's when he's repressing his emotions that you know something is seriously wrong.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm:
    • Thor is an affectionate dad, free with the Manly Tears when the occasion suits (and directly refuting the men don't cry concept), and generally fairly emotional. He is also an ancient warrior-god who's over six feet tall, capable of breaking worlds and walking upon stars who destroys more or less every opponent he is faced with - including the Juggernaut, who he beats to a pulp with his bare hands.
    • The Hulk, as per canon, and he expresses more than just rage.
    • Clark Kent, especially as he grows into his powers, being a gentle and compassionate soul who even before he discovers his full potential is still in the same weight class as an adult Asgardian.
  • Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!: Izuku is still something of a crybaby who gets teary-eyed when he's emotional. The twist here is that he's Kryptonian, meaning that he's a Flying Brick with Nigh-Invulnerability who hasn't even come close to achieving his full potential.
  • From Muddy Waters: Izuku's gratuitous use of Super-Strength Quirks makes him more than a match for Todoroki, the undisputed strongest member of 1-A in canon. But even with his powers, his eyes are still leaky and he spends a lot of time crying over the expectations being placed on him and his guilt over being the son of All For One. This also gets lampshaded by Midnight during his introduction at the Sports Festival.
    Midnight: Iiinnn one corner, a member of the famous Hero Course class 1-A, the chivalrous if teary MIDORIYA IZUKU! [Izuku winces and blushes in embarrassment]

    Films — Live-Action 


  • In Irish myth, as in many ancient cultures, the modern taboo against male tears is quite absent. Cu Chulainn, perhaps the most badass mortal in Irish myth, weeps quite often and is openly sweet and affectionate toward his wife.
  • The Shahnameh. Iranian National Epic mostly centered on Manly Man warriors swinging swords and maces on horseback when wrestling just won't cut it. And one of the most emotionally packed works in the history of Persian literature. The heroes shed plenty of Manly Tears and the cold unemotional men are almost always shown in an unsympathetic light.
  • Bhima of Hindu Mythology is a demigod with strength equal to that of a hundred elephants, all round huge and tough and scary. He is also the sort to go on a quest to the kingdom of violently territorial Yakshas to get his wife a pretty flower she likes.Not to mention Manly Tears on several occasions.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Mr T, especially in his A-Team days, was often shown as a friend of little children.
  • Steve McGarrett on Hawaii Five-0. A Cowboy Cop and (reserve) Navy SEAL, he is extremely badass. Also very emotional when those he cares about are in danger, in particular his partner Danny, whom he openly admits to loving.
  • Terry Jeffords in Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a 6-foot-plus slab of muscle with a borderline gym obsession, capable of lifting a car off its back wheels. He's also a loving husband and father, and easily the most in-touch with his emotions of the cast.
  • Ryuuga Banjou of Kamen Rider Build is Badass Abnormal and former pro fighter who will readily boast about his strength if given a chance. He easily shows any and all emotions from anger through genuine worry to sadness. There is also this Running Gag that makes use of him being easy to startle and yelping like a little girl.
  • Crash McLarson of The Aquabats! Super Show! is physically the strongest of the team, and can really turn the tide of power by growing to giant size with his Emotional Powers. Unfortunately, he's a sensitive, emotionally reactive person. As demonstrated when ManAnt shows Crash a series of pictures to trigger his powers:
    ManAnt: Winter is coming, Crash! Look! Winter is coming, and this sheep has been shaved of his wooly coat!
    Crash McLarson: SO SAD! (groans as his powers are drained)
    ManAnt: Oh no, look at this! A baby calf on roller skates, pushed down the stairs!

  • On the Free to Be You and Me record, Rosey Grier (a star of the NFL) sang a song called "It's All Right to Cry," followed by the spoken lines "It's okay to cry, little boy. I know some big boys who cry, too."
  • From "A Thing Called Love":
    Six foot six he stood on the ground
    He weighed two hundred and thirty-five pounds
    But I saw that giant of a man brought down
    To his knees by love

    He was the kind of man that would gamble on luck
    Look you in the eye and never back up
    But I saw him crying like a little whipped pup
    Because of love

  • From Kenny Rogers' "Lucille". A woman who has given up on a relationship and resumed playing the field brings a big man to tears:

    ''The big hands were calloused
    He looked like a mountain
    For a minute I thought I was dead
    But he started shakin'
    His big heart was breakin'
    He turned to the woman and said ..""

  • Irish Rugby international John "The Bull" Hayes was caught on camera crying during the national anthem before a pretty historic match against England - a shot which lives as one of the legendary moments in on in Irish rugby. (John Hayes is well known for being big even by rugby player standards)

    Video Games 
  • In the Street Fighter games canon, Zangief is also a huge and rather cheerful Friend to All Children due to his status as a wrestling living legend.
  • Kingdom Hearts isn't shy about letting guys show emotion to begin with, but Terra - the "brute force" type in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep - seems to be less ashamed of his emotions than even Sora. He's great with kids, too — just look at the scene where he meets a five-year-old Riku.
  • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones:
    • Dozla, whose very expressive tears were the biggest spectacle in the wedding of his mistress, Princess/Queen L'Arachel of Rausten.
    • Also Garcia, a very strong fighter who also works hard to be the best dad for his beloved son Ross and while he doesn't cry, he isn't shy about expressing his love for the kid.
  • The protagonist of I'm O.K spends the entire game crying about the death of his son, throughout his entire killing spree.
  • Kratos from God of War. As a popular webcomic artist noted, he tends to veer between overwhelmingly angry and depressed and suicidal with virtually no middle ground.
  • Murray from the Sly Cooper series certainly cries more than the other members of the Cooper Gang. He is also deeply affected when Bentley loses his ability to walk in Sly 2: Band of Thieves. As a result, he leaves the gang before the events in Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, overcome with guilt at not being able to save his friend.
  • Barret in Final Fantasy VII, in part to contrast with Cloud's aloofness as his role as The Lancer. He has a short fuse and a melancholy side, and is specifically noted as crying on multiple occasions, in one case by his beloved little daughter. He's easily moved by Cloud showing concern about politics, or by his own beliefs about the Planet. When entering the Gold Saucer, Aeris makes fun of Barret's broody personality, and then worries she's caused offence when he storms off in a rage.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Mark Messier, practically a walking stereotype of the big, tough hockey player, has been brought to tears on several occasions such as the retirement of his number 11 by the New York Rangers the night they played the other team he's associated with, the Edmonton Oilers, and when he was inducted into the Order of Hockey in Canada. And no one would ever think less of Moose for doing so.