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Who says Men Don't Cry?

"Are you surprised at my tears, sir? Strong men also cry. Strong men ... also cry."

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Crying is a very powerful expression of human emotion. But not all cultures and times understand the symbolism of crying in the same way. Particularly variable is the degree to which this symbolism has been gendered over the centuries.

Boys don't cry. It doesn't matter the circumstances; shedding any tears is the ultimate no-no in terms of what you can and can't do as a man. But sometimes... sometimes... sometimes there comes a time when a man's emotions deny any other form of expression, and they pour forth—prerequisite impassioned speech may or may not be present—by cascading down his cheeks. And crying does NOT make him any less badass in the eyes of the audience, but in fact may even reinforce this status. In other words, Manly Man-Tears Of Manliness.

Common cases of this are:

The common thread here is that Manly Tears are justified and dignified. Crying for no (good) reason doesn't count, nor does crying out of frustration or over wounded pride. Pain is out too, for no matter how bone-shattering the beating or how excruciating the torture The Hero will never give their tormenter the satisfaction of MANPAIN TEARSnote . Crying in fear is also out, for the same reasons. On the "dignity" side, however justified they might be, Inelegant Blubbering generally doesn't qualify as Manly Tears because of their lesser/non-existent dignity- though depending on the situation and the person, the two can overlap on very rare occasions: There are some things which can move even the most stoic Badass to openly weep.

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This can also be a common audience response to particularly emotional moments in the more Hot-Blooded shows. In this case, it often overlaps with Tears of Joy.

If the character is particularly sensitive and so is often moved deeply, see Tender Tears or Emotional Bruiser.

Manly Tears may swiftly change into Berserker Tears if the one who caused the hero's suffering is here.

Sometimes the tears may be Tears of Joy, and paired with the Fist Pump.

Contemptible characters may attempt to characterize these tears as water works; the effect is to make them even more contemptible. The crying character may also apologize for them as a sign of weakness.

Contrast Sand In My Eyes, where the man denies to the end that he is crying. See also Not So Stoic and Break the Badass. May be in the form of a Single Tear (which generally makes it even manlier)

Since there is no separate trope covering works from cultures where crying is actively expected as a part of masculinity, or no big deal, examples of that are included here. But in such cultures the message of the symbolism is not "he's crying because it's so extreme that even a normally unemotional man would cry", but rather "he's crying because a display of authentic emotion is what is expected of a man in these circumstances".

The phrase "manly tears" originates from Anime fandom. Fist of the North Star is the Trope Codifier, due to how the hyper-masculine macho badass Kenshiro is not afraid of shedding tears. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is arguably the Trope Namer, as it was the Gurren Lagann fanbase that coined the phrase "manly tears".


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • An American anti-littering ad featured a (fake) Native American viewing the littered landscape and finally a single tear escapes him. Thus creating the trope Crying Indian. (In a follow-up ad, the Indian rides with a big smile through towns where people are cleaning up.)
  • An Australian ad for KFC has a crowd of men screaming like fangirls for the new product, and one of the men played by a Mauri footballer is shown sobbing very, very manly tears.

    Film — Animated 
  • Occurs at the ending of Mulan with Yao.
  • Hercules and Phil cry Manly Tears over Meg's Disney Death. Phil also sheds a Tear of Joy in the movie's finale.
  • Disney's Quasimodo has a few crying scenes, most memorably when he sees Esmeralda and Phoebus kissing and at Esmeralda's Disney Death. Some people might argue that these are Tender Tears, since Quasimodo is generally a sweet, gentle character, but since the climactic battle proves that he can be a true badass, they qualify as Manly too.
  • Disney's The Great Mouse Detective has some crying scenes. In fact, one of them shows Bartholomew shedding tears and sobbing like a baby while Ratigan talks about his history with Basil during "The World's Greatest Criminal Mind" number.
    • One of Ratigan's thugs also sheds a tear after Bartholomew is eaten by Felicia.
    • Occurs near the end of the movie with Basil himself after Olivia goes back to Scotland, even though tears are not visible.
  • Dumbo: Dumbo's feisty mentor/caretaker Timothy Q. Mouse occasionally cries a little. For instance, he sheds a single tear as Mrs. Jumbo sings "Baby Mine" to her son, knowing that it is time for them to leave, and again while giving the crows a speech about what happened to Dumbo. Jim Crow and his brothers do this during Timothy's speech too.
  • Moses in The Prince of Egypt, at the deaths of all the firstborn Egyptian sons. After Rameses finally grants the Hebrews permission to leave (while mourning over his own son's body), as Moses walks back to the Hebrew dwellings amid the echoing sound of bereaved mothers' cries, he is overcome with grief and collapses against a wall, sobbing.
  • Charlie Barkin, a large, masculine dog, sheds a manly tear at the end of All Dogs Go to Heaven. As does his friend earlier on.
  • In the latest movie Shrek Forever After, when Shrek was in the alternate reality, he convinces Donkey that he knows him, but it didn't do very well, Donkey freaked out and ran away, then Shrek saw one of the triplets doll, then Shrek sheds a manly tear and he knew that they're not there at all. That is the first time we ever see Shrek cry.
  • Rock & Rule: when Mok finally raises the demon and innocent hench-man Zip takes a mortal hit for the hero, his villainous brother can only tearfully ask him why he did it.
  • The Incredibles: Mr. Incredible holds up fine under torture, but he breaks down and sobs like a baby when he is led to believe that Syndrome killed his wife and children. (They turn out to be all right.)
  • The Death of Superman sees Jonathan Kent, Bibbo Bibboski, Jimmy Olsen, and one of Superman's pallbearers cry as a reaction to the titular event.
  • Miles Morales and his father Jefferson shred some tears (namely over the death of their uncle/brother Hobie aka The Prowler) in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
    • It’s Played for Laughs but Adult Spider-Man crying in the shower (in full costume) after getting divorced from MJ is still kinda sad.
  • Quest for Camelot: Garrett sheds a tear during the reprise of "I Stand Alone" as he leaves Kayley.
  • Earl Devereaux Subverts the trope in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and plays it straight in the second movie. He orders a tear back into his tear duct after first seeing the food animals. But at the end, he allows it to fall, whereupon it somehow manages to make a blueberry grow chest hair.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Jesus wept. - John 11:35
    • Similarly, after Jesus' prediction that Peter would deny Him three times comes true, Peter weeps bitterly.
  • Occurs many times in Homer's The Iliad. Particularly between Achilles and King Priam when Priam begs Achilles to return the body of his son Hector for burial. Priam's passion moves Achilles who begins thinking about his lost friend Patroclus; and the two men weep together over their loss. One of the finest examples of enemies united in grief in the history of literature.
  • The Odyssey consists of Odysseus crying on a rock, Odysseus defeating sea monsters, Odysseus crying on a rock, Odysseus defying Poseidon, Odysseus crying on a rock...
    • To say nothing of Odysseus's reunion with his son Telemachus. Many tears are shed on both sides.
  • The Shahnameh has many examples. Most prominent would be Rostam, the manliest character in the entire book, bitterly crying when he realizes he's just killed his own son.
    • Goodarz kills his long time rival and counterpart Piran, then sheds tears for him.
  • In Virgil's The Aeneid, Aeneas and indeed many other heroic characters break down and cry on several occasions. This is further expanded upon in the notes, where it says that it was not prohibited for a Roman man to cry under extreme duress.
  • In Classical Mythology, Orpheus was able to make The Stoic Hades shed "iron tears" by playing his lyre to appeal the return of his lost beloved.
  • In The Divine Comedy, Dante sheds tears over the suffering of the damned, over losing Virgil, and over Beatrice's condemnation of him.

    Poetry 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Ric Flair cried during his final match with WWE, cried at his Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and cried during his farewell speech, and if you didn't shed a few tears yourself, you're either not a true fan, or you have no soul.
  • Shawn Michaels repeated the Flair farewell experience two years later, after being beaten by The Undertaker at WrestleMania 26. He shed tears after the match and the next night on Raw. Triple H got in on the Manly Tears at the close of the show when he came out to hug Shawn.
  • Paul Heyman at ECW One Night Stand 2005, though he insisted that the reason his eyes were red and watery was because he was smoking a joint with Rob Van Dam.
    • Paul also mentioned in the Rise and Fall of ECW that everybody cried after ECW finished their first pay-per-view, Barely Legal.
  • Despite trashing the Ring of Honor fans, after wrestling what was thought to be his last match with the company, a two out of three falls match with Colt Cabana, it was obvious CM Punk was crying. It would happened again, him being overwhelmed by the positive fan support his debut match with the revived ECW brand received, cried while celebrating his win. He thanked the fans for their support during a taped segment the next week.
  • After his retirement match against Triple H, Mick Foley seemed to get emotional.
  • Whenever somebody wins a championship for the first time, expect this to happen, Randy Orton, Shawn Michaels, Beth Phoenix, Natalya Neidhart, The Miz are famous examples, this is usually a Heartwarming Moments, even if they happen to be heel.

    Theatre 
  • Cyrano insists in Act I of Cyrano de Bergerac that he never cries, but in Act IV, Christian notices a tear drop on his most recent love letter to Roxane.
  • William Shakespeare's heroes, when they cry, always apologize for the way their emotions overcame them. (To be sure, the character does have to say something to let the watchers know he's supposed to be crying.) One of the better-known (if not well-known) of these is the scene in Macbeth where MacDuff receives the news of his wife's murder. From one man to another:
    "Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak
    Whispers the o'erfraught heart and bids it break."
    • In Much Ado About Nothing, Don Leonato expresses grief over his daughter Hero being the victim of Don John's slanders (which he at one point believed and attacked Hero over):
      "I pray thee peace, I will be flesh and blood;
      For there was never yet philosopher
      That could endure the toothache patiently."
  • Marius sometimes has these as Eponine dies in his arms during Les Misérables.
  • The stage directions of Miss Saigon call for Chris to sob when Kim dies in his arms, though whether he actually does it or just lets out a Big "NO!" depends on the actor.
  • Of course, the Phantom lets loose with these at the ending of The Phantom of the Opera.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Rifts, the first Siege on Tolkeen book contains an excerpt from a speech by Joseph Prosek I, where he announces the formation of the Coalition States. At the end he asks the audience to forgive "an old man's tears" at this momentous occasion.

    Webcomics 
  • The obligatory Manly Guys Doing Manly Things example.
  • In The Order of the Stickhere — after an Honour Before Reason parting.
    • By an opponent, and by Elan,
    • And again after an afterlife meeting here.
    • Again, during Durkon's death He dies begging his killer to spare his friends, as well as smiling at the fact that he could finally go home.
  • Vasco from Lookism the architect student will sometimes burst into tears for no reason what so ever, he's also one of the biggest badasses in the series, but also one of the biggest idiots. He cries so often that the others will often beg him to stop.
  • Torg from Sluggy Freelance sheds a few of these after Alt-Zoe dies. Oddly enough, he's not particularly manly most of the time, except when crying like this.
  • Davan's plan to prove that Jason can cry in Something*Positive goes horribly wrong when, upon playing Tom Smith's uber-sad song "A Boy and His Frog" (about Jim Henson and Kermit, and the death of the former), both of them break out in tears.
  • Blu Sniper in Cuanta Vida when Red Spy (his lover) pushes him out of the way of the Red Sniper's bullet and is killed instead.
  • In Girl Genius, Tarvek tears up when he tells his sister Anveka that she was Dead All Along and that the clank body she was using as her puppet had taken over her identity completely. He adds that he loved his sister, and having the clank body around was comforting - right before shutting down the puppet body.
  • Parodied in Crystal Heroes when Garrett does this while telling a story about his friend not dying during an encounter with some monsters.

    Web Original 
  • Aaron has a scene where Chris discovers that a) his brother was going to have a baby, meaning he would have become an uncle, b) the baby died, and c) their parents tried to cover it up. Upon getting this news, his eyes get quite watery.
  • Happens a couple times in Broken Saints — Oran during Raimi's "World of Cardboard" Speech; Kamimura when he finally expels the fragment of Goku's soul and becomes free.
  • The Nostalgia Critic could never be accused of being manly, preferring instead to wail pathetically when the slightest thing goes wrong, but when he's matured into The Atoner for To Boldly Flee, he keeps his (apparently loads of) crying offscreen. All we see are some very red eyes throughout the entire movie.
  • In Demo Reel, Quinn is a former IRA member and even he blinks back tears at the Blue Patches sequel Rebecca and Tacoma made for Donnie.
  • Chuggaaconroy makes noises implying he is crying during Chapter 6 of his Let's Play of MOTHER 3


Statler: Well, you know what they say; it takes a big man to cry.
Waldorf: Yes, indeed. But it takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man.
Both: Do-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-hoh!

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