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Fragile Flower

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Handle with care.

"She's an injured bird and you just want to be her sexy veterinarian."
Brett Ehrlich on Zooey Deschanel, The Rotten Tomatoes Show

Ah, everyone loves sweet little Alice. She's so beautiful, but she looks as if she's always just one sharp word away from bursting into tears.

A fragile flower is that one character who always looks like she (or he) is just about ready to cry. In fact, they probably are. Sometimes, they will try to keep their emotions inside, but ultimately fail. One small incident and they are crying. It is possible for anything to cause them to cry, but it is most often a harsh insult directed at them.

There may be a few reasons for a fragile flower's behavior. They might just be super sensitive by nature. There might have been something in their past such as emotional abuse from peers or some other form of Break the Cutie that caused them to be this way. Most characters who know the fragile flower are careful not to upset them when talking. Other more Jerk Ass characters will most likely try to make them cry, in which case the fragile flower may eventually force themselves to become desensitized towards insults.

Pretty popular in Japanese media since it's often played as cute.

Also known as the "Sad Girl In Snow".

Most often female, though it can be a male in order to be Played for Laughs.

Compare The Ingenue and Shrinking Violet. Expect Tender Tears to play along with this trope.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Aya Hoshino in Super Gals, to the point where Ran assumes (in Volume 6) that "Her entire head must be full of tears...!"
  • Matsuri in Strawberry Marshmallow.
  • Vanilla in Sugar Sugar Rune.
  • Mikuru in Haruhi Suzumiya takes this to satirical lengths.
  • Nazuna in Hidamari Sketch, pictured above. She has a heck lack of confidence.
  • Sumire in Kimi Wa Petto is outwardly a Sugar and Ice Girl, but she is often seen hiding in the bathroom, crying.
  • Sakuno Ryuzaki in The Prince of Tennis is a more or less normal Shrinking Violet, but the anime makes her more like this.
  • Mitsuru, Ritsu Sohma, and his mom in Fruits Basket.
  • Mihashi from Big Windup acts like this due to the bullying he received while in middle school.
    Abe: And stop sniveling, it looks like I'm bullying you.
  • Princess Shirahoshi from One Piece doesn't just look like she would burst into tears from something trivial like being awakened from a nap — she actually does. She has an excuse though, having watched her mother die and then forced to spend 10 years locked up in a tower due to death threats in the form of giant flying axes that can home in on her. She gets a little better after making some friends, though.
  • Baccano!'s Jacuzzi Splot (the show's primary source of man-moe) is prone to crying at the slightest misstep outside of his comfort zone. This, surprisingly enough, doesn't stop him from being a crazily heroic badass when the cards are down. Meanwhile, Lua Klein could be considered a subversion. She looks a lot like this type of character, but is in reality an emotionless Death Seeker.
  • Kanae Ohtori from Revolutionary Girl Utena. Until Mikage puts the whammy on her and she goes Cute and Psycho.
  • Shuuichi Nitori from Wandering Son. In early volumes she to cry a lot, but with age and Character Development she has gotten past that stage. She still lets things go to her head but doesn't cry as easily as she did in early chapters.
  • Hinako from Bitter Virgin. With good reason.
  • THE iDOLM@STER - Yukiho.
  • Yayoi in Smile Pretty Cure! is described in the first episode as a crybaby whose tears start flowing with even the smallest nudge. She's also seen crying when she uses her Cure powers during the opening.
    • Futari wa Pretty Cure gives us a rare villainous example in Regine, who seems to be in a perpetual state of about-to-cry when in her civilian form. She's very soft-spoken, and when repeatedly asked to repeat what she said because they couldn't hear her, she'll suddenly yell and cause everyone in the room to jump. All of these traits melt away whenever she assumes her true form, however.
  • From Axis Powers Hetalia:
    • All of the Baltic States can qualify when Russia's around, but Latvia in particular is this way all the time; all three are rare male examples that aren't Played for Laughs (at least not more so than anything else in this show);
    • Ukraine is this, too (also note that both she and the Baltics are this for good reason);
    • Finland also quotes this trope:
    Finland: I'm a frightened, fragile flower, so I decided I should go with him!
  • In a filler episode in the Ranma anime, Ranma himself becomes a caricature/parody when he hits his head and becomes extremely frail and sensitive. "She" squeals in disgust at having to wash his boxers and faints when Akane accidentally cuts her finger.
  • Chihiro in Tamayura. What makes it particularly cute is that she's actually crying out of compassion for her friend Fuu (the protagonist) whose father died some time ago. Chihiro starts crying whenever she thinks she might have said something that reminded Fuu of her late father, even after Fuu actually starts to get over her father's death.
  • Sota's sister Izumi from WORKING!! fits this trope quite well.
  • Mamoru is this in From the New World. Very emotionally sensitive, he doesn't react at all well to all the conspiracies the group uncovers.
  • Hiren in Undertaker Riddle. Hayato even says that calming Hiren down is like calming down a kid.
  • Haruka in Kotoura-san has no constitution for sudden pressure, and she caves like a house of cards when threatened. It's often Played for Laughs, at which point it's kind of cute. As the series goes on, she tries to address this and grow some backbone, but it seems a part of it will always be ingrained into her nature. That said, it is unclear whether this is the cause, or the effect of her previous decade-long Break the Cutie that just started to heal.
  • Fumi from Sweet Blue Flowers, a trait that stuck with her since childhood.
    Akira: You're always so quick to cry, Fumi.
  • Vivio during Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers, what with being a six-year old orphan. She eventually grows out of it after the events of the season.
  • Shinji from Neon Genesis Evangelion could be considered a rare serious male example. While he may not fit into American standards of male attractiveness, he is stated to be attractive in-universe, and, thanks to deeply-rooted self-esteem issues and having the pleasure of witnessing his mother turn to goo at an early age, rather insecure, delicate, and all too easy to upset with just a few words, particularly in the prologue arc, where he rarely made it through an episode without a Sparkling Stream of Tears.
  • The titular character of Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu is a Justified case because she's an Otaku in secret (hence the title) and is constantly afraid of being discovered and shamed for a hobby that society in general thinks is just perverted and disgusting. She actually did get found out while she was in elementary school and has carried those insecurities since then.
  • Madoka of Puella Magi Madoka Magica appears to be this, but she defies it by continuing to help out despite her very legitimate trauma, even after almost everyone else dies. She eventually becomes immune to despair.
  • Enju Aiahra from Black Bullet is sweet, kind-hearted 10-year-old girl and cursed child who, despite being treated as trash for being born with the Gastrea virus in her body like most cursed children, always maintain a sunny disposition. Despite this, one her flaws of her character is she's a very sensitive person who is prone to breaking down in tears easily. It's highly implied that if Enju were to find out that she'll eventually die or turn into a Gastrea monster, this will be enough to completely break her forever. At least only in the anime and manga adaptations. The light novels portrayed Enju more in the Wise Beyond Their Years emotionally independent loli.
  • Mallow from Sayuri Tatsuyama's Happy Happy Clover Anime/Manga series is Clover's best friend. But when she first moved to Crescent Forest and was a new student in Clover's school taught by Professor Hoot. She was first seen hiding behind Professor Hoot and was mostly very quiet. Kale's first impression of Mallow is that she has "weird ears" which caused Clover to scold him for that comment. Later Clover's parents see Mallow's mom and dad enter their house saying that Mallow's missing. They decide to go and start a search-party around the forest however after her parents leave her home. She decides to go and search for Mallow herself. While she starts searching for her, Kale see's Clover run right past his home and notices something suspicious going on. Finally, Clover finds Mallow after she falls down a hill and would later become friends. Suddenly, Kale and Shallot finds the two and uses a rope to rescue them from the pit. In the end, they get scolded by their parents. In later stories and volumes, she's still shy but starts to interact with others and becomes a nurse in the last volume.
  • Steins;Gate: Ruka Urushibara is a fairly standard - albeit male - example who appears ready to cry all the time, and it becomes even more prevalent after he becomes a she via D-Mail, and Okabe insists that she's a boy, driving Ruka to tears every time it comes up. Of course, if your crush started (unintentionally) calling you the opposite gender, insisting you're an Incompatible Orientation all the time, it would be somewhat upsetting.
  • This trope is Played for Laughs in Castle Town Dandelion. In Chapter 12/Episode 4A, Karen had an Imagine Spot about what would happen if she told Akane about the latter's Wardrobe Malfunction, and Death by Despair always become the result. While Akane has crippling social anxiety, she is not an example of this trope.
  • Rare male example from Heat Guy J in the form of Clair Leonelli, when he was young. (Probably because as Overlord Jr., he didn't have any friends to play with, and his dad was abusing him.) This endears him to then-12-year-old Giovanni, who promises to protect him forever.
  • Shiemi from Blue Exorcist. She even grows plants! Reconstructed as it's more to do with how empathic she is and she quickly toughens up and gets badass, to the point her connection with plants is of a Green Thumb nature that lets her curb-stomp her enemies.
  • Despite being the oldest and most mature out of her 6 friends, Alice from the Bakugan Battle Brawlers fills this role to a T.
  • Kaoruko in Comic Girls is very sensitive and prone to negative thoughts (suicidal ones included). It has been pointed out being "too emotionally fragile" is the main barrier preventing her to become a successful Sequential Artist. She frequently cries in this series, on the magnitude of Once a Chapter.

    Film — Animation 
  • Mater from Cars and Cars 2. He gets very upset over every little thing. He's a very sensitive person and there were signs that he got upset in the first film but he showed more emotions in the second film. He literally got very depressed after Mc Queen fired him from being a pit crew chief and felt guilty about and decided to go home. When others make Mater cry or upset, its considered and extreme act of cruelty because he is super sweet and he has special needs. Hes like a child. Hes a very caring helpful person whos purpose in life is to serve others out of kindness and love and to see him upset about any little thing is just extremely devastating. Even though we are supposed to laugh with Mater, he is definitely a person who is emotional enough to not be Played for Laughs.

     Film — Live Action 
  • Quoth Stuntman Mike from Death Proof:
    "There are few things more fetching than a bruised ego on a beautiful lady."
  • Sarah Packard from The Hustler, who has been rejected and scorned so many times that she needs to drown her sorrows to get through the day. Needless to say, she's prone to this trope whether drunk or sober.
  • Marquis from The Legend of Frenchie King cries easily. This is played for irony as he's subservient to very masculine women.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Past Charles Xavier's psychological health is so poor that the slightest thing can upset him, and he's regularly seen with wet, reddened eyes or tears streaming down his face.

  • Beth Ellen Hanson of Harriet the Spy is described as "Always look[ing] like she might cry". In a subversion, Harriet writes that this just makes her want to kick her and get it over with. In Beth Ellen's own book, The Long Secret, we learn that Beth Ellen cries in private because her grandmother has taught her that's what a Proper Lady does. But she has a crying fit during a sleepover after her Rich Bitch mother returns — and Harriet gently takes her hand and holds it until she's through.
  • Every single darn character in The Tale of Genji male or female. The Shining Prince himself is incredibly lachrymose. Of course this was considered an attractive characteristic in Heian Japan.
  • Enid Blyton's Malory Towers school stories feature Mary-Lou, who is this trope to a T. She gets a lot better.
  • Mary Anne Spier, secretary of The Baby-Sitters Club, is described as being so sensitive she'll cry at long-distance telephone commercials.
  • In Those That Wake's sequel, Rose is this, mainly stemming from childhood trauma.
  • In The Zombie Knight, the reaper Iziol is a strange example; he seems to think everyone else is a Fragile Flower, with perhaps the demonstrated exception of his servant Dimas. He can't think of any insults stronger than "turkey" (and worries that even this might be too-strong language) and calls Dimas a monster when he attacks Horatio without bothering to provoke a first attack. Funnily enough, Iziol doesn't seem to consider hurling destructive gravitic energies at people to be unacceptably rude as long as they attack first—and taunting them into attacking first counts, albeit only with the aforementioned mild language.
  • In Zilpha Keatley Snyder's "The Changeling", it is abundantly clear early on that fearful, shy, clumsy Martha Abbott cannot fit in with the rest of her Perfect Suburban Family and no way to make them take her seriously. She's treated almost like a pet (she's even called "Mouse"), and her only defense, indeed her only means of self-expression, is to cry. The author herself admitted later she didn't realize a lot of the subtleties she was creating with this book.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Brady Bunch: Marcia is by far the biggest crybaby of the Brady siblings. She cries when she doesn't get to go on a family ski trip, gets kicked out of a play, is rejected by a potential date to a school dance (and then several years later, after another date rejects her), is treated rudely by her siblings while reading her campaign speech for student body president, when she wilts under pressure during her driving test ... she just had frail nerves. As an adult, Marcia wells up when she is unable to find work as an adult and after realizing she's humiliated her family at a ribbon cutting for one of Mike's office complex projects.
  • Little House on the Prairie: Virtually every one of the Ingalls, especially Charles(!) and Laura, who often cried at the drop of a hat. Except for possibly Nels Olesen and his son, Willie, most of the other people of Walnut Grove were more than willing to share their feelings ... from big, hulking men like Jonathan Garvey and the uncouth Mr. Edwards to the spoiled tantrums of Harriet Olesen and her daughters, Nellie (in her spoiled, wild years) and especially Nancy. This ironically is vastly different from the books, where despite numerous hardships the Ingall's were incredibly stoic and discouraged showing emotions or complaining when they were struggling.
  • Marisol Delko in CSI: Miami.
  • Nikki Alexander in Silent Witness.
  • The Closer: Despite being a tough Action Girl, our heroine is always one blink away from tearing up.
  • Tess in The BBC's 2008 adaptation of Tess of the d'Urbervilles, as played by Gemma Arterton.
  • Seinfeld
    • In the episode "The Understudy," Jerry's girlfriend cries at almost anything from dropping a hot dog to her untied shoelace. However, she doesn't cry when her grandmother dies.
    • Both George and Elaine regularly bust into tears whenever something upsets them. One example with the former, George drives himself to tears when he tries to take the nickname "T-Bone" away from a co-worker who was given the same nickname, while with the latter, Elaine is banned from a nail salon and actually wanders the streets in the rain bawling her eyes out about it.
  • Sophie in Peep Show, though she's also a Manipulative Bastard.
  • A Take Our Word for It male example in Wings, when Helen dates a man who cries when she mentions her dead dog; she becomes disillusioned when she realizes he cries at everything. "We went to a Marx Brothers film and he was crying because Harpo couldn't talk."
  • Guinevere in Merlin, mainly because the writers do a lot of horrible things to her, lampshaded by the actress herself: "they like making me cry." Of course, she's also a perfect example of Silk Hiding Steel: expect her to cry whilst simultaneously demonstrating great strength of character.
  • In one episode of The Monkees Mike describes Peter as "Kinda sensitive. Cries at card tricks."
  • Oz provides a non-comedic (REALLY non-comedic) male example in one-shot character Guillaume Tarrant. He's an art vandal who has the incredible misfortune of being locked up in a maximum security prison with the show's standard roster of killers and rapists. He's in tears at the harassment he suffers from other inmates on his first day, and repeatedly thereafter. Things... do not improve for him.

  • Mélisande in Maurice Maeterlinck's play Pelléas and Mélisande.

    Video Games 
  • According to one of his less-effectual titles in Yggdra Unison, Nessiah—despite his status as the local Magnificent Bastard—cries very easily when hurt or frustrated. If the player's performance is substandard, this happens often enough that his enemies start to mock him for being childish, and his subordinates have to devote a lot of time to taking care of him. As Nessiah's social skills are strange at best, he never really becomes cognizant of the burden he's putting on them.
  • Evanine in the Neverwinter Nights mod Tales of Arterra.
  • Neimi of Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones is pegged a crybaby right from the start. Being childhood friends with Colm doesn't help much. Amusingly subverted in their final support conversation, where he hears her howling and asks why, rattling off a long list of reasons. Neimi tells him she's in a good mood and just had something in her eye this time, much to his consternation.
  • Gokotai from Touken Ranbu, who almost constantly sounds like he's about to cry. Ironically, this doesn't change after his Kiwame training, despite Taking a Level in Badassthe first thing he says when he returns is a tearful apology for "only" defeating Uesugi Kenshin three times instead of five.
  • Tiger I from Panzermadels, especially when it comes to the time when she ran over Erwin. We find out earlier that it's because she "breaks down a lot" which is a design flaw.
  • Ganryu from the Tekken series is a rare male example, but it's usually Played for Laughs. Examples include when he cries after defeating Jinpachi in Tekken 5, and also is the only male to cry in his lose pose when paired up with Jaycee.

    Visual Novels 
  • Yoriko in Da Capo at first has great trouble interacting with people and, of course, always seems close to tears. Oddly enough, having rocks thrown at her apparently didn't bother her in the slightest.
  • Kotomi in CLANNAD is more or less exempt from Tomoya's normal teasing due to her reaction of starting to tear up and ask if someone is a bully when feeling at all threatened. Naturally, learning to deal with Kyou takes her a little while.
  • Hanako Ikezawa from Katawa Shoujo. Having burn scars that cover the entire right half of your body will do that to you. Or not. Treating her like one ends very badly.
  • Super Dangan Ronpa 2 has Mikan Tsumiki, who is so timid and insecure she can barely hold a conversation without bursting into tears or having a meltdown. This is Played for Drama, as Mikan has been so heavily bullied throughout her life that she instantly suspects anyone she talks to wants to abuse her and will willingly degrade herself so someone will pay her attention, even if it's negative. This makes it all the more shocking when she's the killer of Chapter Three, and a double-murderer at that.

  • Blindsprings has Imogen, albeit she's Downplayed. She does more panicking than crying.
  • The Kids Arc revealed that James, the resident woobie of Roommates, was a fragile flower as a child. It was played sympathetically either as adorable or to lampshade the other's puppy torturing tendencies.
  • Zebra Girl: Poor Mad Mabel. She manages to survive in the Subfusc despite being a normal surrounded by mysterious and magical creatures, but she is the subject of mockery and even cruelty from others (including Sandra, though she stops halfway), and got pressured by Incubus to do his bidding (and when that fails, he kidnaps her). She seems lost and slightly depressed, despite trying to keep a smile on her face, and nearly cried when Sandra took her thimble away from her.

     Web Original 
  • Hanami in Tasakeru, as part of her general flower motif, can be overly sensitive at times.
  • Parodied mercilessly with Lucy and Patrick of The War Comms. Played heartbreakingly straight with Syrius, however, and to a slightly lesser extent Molly. Heather is about halfway between Patrick-Lucy and Syrius-Molly.

     Western Animation 
  • Played for Laughs male example: Jimmy from Ed, Edd n Eddy. He's quite sensitive, which clashes with his headstrong and protective friend Sarah.
  • Fluttershy in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic started out as one. Note that, however, she is growing out of this big aspect of her, as she has become noticeably more assertive in season 2 and on. There was, in fact, a whole episode based on it and, while it hasn't gotten as extreme as the events in it, she has repeatedly shown herself able to break out of this attitude in emergencies.
  • Amy Wong and Dr. Zoidberg in Futurama temporarily turn into Fragile Flowers in a one-shot joke when Bender is trying to get Fry to cry out a liquid alien emperor trapped in his body:
    Bender: Man, I guess it's harder than I thought to make someone cry.
    Amy: You did your best, Bender.
    Bender: Up yours, bimbo!
    (Amy runs away crying)
    Zoidberg: Let's face it, we're in hot butter here. We should call Leela for help.
    Bender: Cram it, lobster!
    (Zoidberg runs away crying)
    Bender: That is a good idea. I'll go call her.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants is a male example that isn't always Played for Laughs. In fact, making SpongeBob cry is considered a gross act of cruelty, and whoever is responsible for hurting his feelings almost immediately gets scolded by whoever happens to witness it, or just feels guilty. It really doesn't take very much to make him cry, either- in one episode, a particularly mean customer yelled at him and threw a pizza box in his face, causing him to flop over on the ground, sob deeply for a while, and not stop until Squidward cheered him up.
  • Pops from Regular Show is another rare male example that isn't always played for laughs- in fact, seeing Pops cry is absolutely heartbreaking sometimes. Pops is very sensitive and it doesn't take much to make him cry. When someone does greatly upset him, his friends immediately come to his aid and stick up for him.
  • Stacy Rowe in Daria collapses in tears over the slightest thing. Luckily, she starts to grow out of it in the fifth season, and in one episode her reputation as this even works to her advantage when she's trying to trick an audience.
  • Bubbles in The Powerpuff Girls is normally this (especially in the first season episode "Octi-Evil") but once in awhile she's not afraid to kick it up a notch.
Penny Ling in Littlest Pet Shop (2012) is shy and prone to tearing up.
  • Lockette in Winx Club is prone to crying when in trouble and freaks out a lot, especially if Darkar is involved. She manages to grow out of this eventually.
  • The titular Steven Universe apparently can't cry on command, but tears up easily:
    Steven: I guess I'm just too tough to cry.
    Pearl: Just this morning you were crying about snakes.
    Steven: (in tears, whimpering) They don't have any arms!
  • Eugly the rabbit from Kaeloo. She will burst into tears (with Ocular Gushers) at the slightest insult. Sadly, the rest of the cast don't care, and they're always being mean to her.
  • Caillou: The eponymous character and his baby sister are infamous for crying at the drop of a hat. The wikia even has a list of the amount of times they cried.

Alternative Title(s): Sad Girl In Snow