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My Eyes Are Leaking

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"What is this watery discharge?!"
Jerry Seinfeld, Seinfeld

A character who supposedly has no knowledge of or experience with certain human emotions, for some reason, begins to cry. This surprises them, since they have never cried before, and in some cases, have never even seen someone cry. They may panic and jump to the conclusion that something is wrong with them. This is common among characters who have only recently become human.

Alternatively, a character with the normal range of human emotions may begin to cry, which causes the Amusing Alien to freak out.

Frequently overlaps with What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?. Compare Tears from a Stone. Sub-trope of Baffled by Own Biology.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Chachamaru knows that her tears are in fact oil, but Negi reasons with her that is not the physical experience of the tears rolling down, but the feelings she has that makes her a living being.
  • Sousuke of Full Metal Panic! has been Unable to Cry for so long that it takes him a good twenty seconds to realize why his face feels hot and his vision is blurring when he finally breaks down in tears at the very end of the series.

    Comic Books 
  • The Vision, the android member of The Avengers. In his first appearance, he turns on his creator (the evil robot Ultron) to save the Avengers, and they welcome him into their ranks. He's so overwhelmed with gratitude that he discovers "Even an android can cry!"

    Fan Works 
  • In the EXO fandom classic "Absolute Chanyeol," Chanyeol, understandably alarmed, exclaims, "Baekhyunnie, you're leaking!" when Baekhyun begins to cry.
  • In Lost Latte Asami wonders why her eyes are sweating when she cries for the first time.
  • In the Pizza Tower fic Real And Fake, Fake Peppino is confused when he suddenly begins to cry while thinking about the real Peppino and his childhood, which he's never experienced due to being a clone.

    The clone made a surprised noise when it noticed a brand new sensation, which made Peppino’s face grow more worried. “Oh, Caro... Don’t cry... It’ll be fine, okay?” He said and wiped a tear from the clone’s eye. Cry... Was that what this feeling was? It rubbed at its own eyes and looked at its hand, surprised to see water.

    “What is... Happening?” It tried to rub away the water but more kept coming, it didn’t know how to make it stop. It was scared.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A variation in Aquaman (2018) when Atlanna starts crying because she has to leave Thomas Curry and their son to return to Atlantis.
    Atlanna: Where I come from, the sea carries our tears away.
    Thomas Curry: Not here. Here, you feel them.
  • The Jim Carrey live-action version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!.
    The Grinch: "I'm all toasty inside... and I'm leaking!"
  • Star Trek: Generations. Earlier in the movie, Data had an emotion chip implanted. After the Enterprise saucer section crashes, Data and Counselor Troi are searching for survivors.
    Troi: Data, I found something. One life sign, very faint.
    Data: [pulls aside wreckage] Spot! [his pet cat] I'm very happy to see you, Spot.
    Troi: Another family reunited. Data, are you all right?
    Data: I am uncertain, Councillor. I am happy to see Spot, yet I am crying. Perhaps the chip is malfunctioning.
    Troi: I think it's working perfectly.
  • Flash Gordon. Aura sees Flash's Love Interest crying and asks her father Ming the Merciless about it.
    Aura: Look! Water is leaking from her eyes!
    Ming: It's what they call "tears". It's a sign of their weakness.
  • In Soldier, Todd, who was raised from birth to show no emotions has this when he's kicked out of the village.
  • Inverted in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) tells John that he understands why humans cry, but it's something he can never do. It's a poignant moment, used to remind John that the Terminator can never be human, however much he may want it.

  • In Clan of the Cave Bear Ayla gets upset and cries, to the bewilderment of the rest of the Clan who have no knowledge/experience with tears of sadness. They think there's something wrong with her eyes.
  • Mowgli in the first Jungle Book story when he's banished Shere Khan but has to leave the jungle for the village:
    Then something began to hurt Mowgli inside him, as he had never been hurt in his life before, and he caught his breath and sobbed, and the tears ran down his face.
    "What is it? What is it?" he said. "I do not wish to leave the jungle, and I do not know what this is. Am I dying, Bagheera?"
    "No, Little Brother. Those are only tears such as men use," said Bagheera. "Now I know thou art a man, and a man's cub no longer. The jungle is shut indeed to thee henceforward. Let them fall, Mowgli. They are only tears." So Mowgli sat and cried as though his heart would break; and he had never cried in all his life before.
  • Saturn's Children by Charles Stross. The sexbot protagonist is alarmed for a moment when her vision becomes blurred and she registers saline leakage; a surprisingly non-functional response to emotions programmed into her by her long-extinct creators.
  • In Mermaid (2011), Lenia is shocked when Margrethe's eyes fill with water.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played for Laughs on Seinfeld ("The Serenity Now") after the title character gets in touch with his emotions:
    Jerry: (Crying) What—what is this salty discharge?
    Elaine: Oh my God. You're crying.
    Jerry: This is horrible! I care!
  • When Sally cries for the first time on 3rd Rock from the Sun, the aliens refer to it as "leaking". They continue to refer to crying as "leaking" for the rest of the series.
  • Marshall tries to invoke this trope on Robin in How I Met Your Mother by complaining that she is incapable of properly handling emotional expression by other people around her, that if she saw his infant son crying, all she'd do is muse "Hmm, why is this human leaking?" Robin doesn't take that insinuation well.
  • Overlaps with the Music section, but there's a Flight of the Conchords episode in which Jemaine sings a song entitled "I'm Not Crying", in which he explains that he is not crying because his girlfriend left him. Instead:
    • It's just been raining. On his face.
    • He's actually thinking about a friend of his, you don't know him, who is dying.
    • He's been cutting onions to make a lasagna for one.
    • He's got dust in his eyes.
    • There's an inflammation in his tear gland.
    • His eyes are just a little sweaty today.
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Imperfection", Seven of Nine seems to tear up when the younger former Borg children depart the ship, which she insists is just her eye implant malfunctioning; the Doctor playfully chides her for trying to play it tough, only to discover that it actually is faulty, and the first sign of a terminal failure of a more critical implant. At the end of the episode, after Icheb puts himself through a life-threatening surgery to donate his implant to Seven, he observes that her eye seems to be malfunctioning again, only for the Doctor to perform a quick scan and assure them that it's just fine.

  • "Brass Goggles" by Steam Powered Giraffe: "And what is this leaking affecting my eye? / Does the oil that is dripping mean this is a cry?"

    Video Games 
  • The Disgaea series:
    • Disgaea: Hour of Darkness:
      • Demon Etna in Etna mode; after getting back her memory she remembers the promise she made to her dead master; to protect and help his son, who she killed after losing her memory. After this, she starts to cry and she thinks 'I don't get it, why am I crying?'.
      • In the good end of the story, when Laharl begins to cry over Flonne's apparent death. His first response is shock that he could cry at all.
    • In Disgaea 3, Princess Sapphire becomes confused when she starts crying Tears of Joy over Almaz coming back to life, especially since she has always been, as far as she knew, Unable to Cry.
    Sapphire: I'm crying? These are tears... I'm crying right now...
    Almaz: Yes, Princess
    Sapphire: Haha... I was so sad and couldn't cry, and now I'm happy and crying. This is so weird. [sniff][hic] Haha. It won't stop...
  • Chrono Trigger: In one of the endings, Lucca gets upset at the possibility that their actions may have time paradox'ed Robo out of existence. In an attempt to cheer her up, he claims that his eyes are leaking oil and stumbles about (though he really may have been crying).
  • Fallout 4: After Curie gets her consciousness transferred from her original robot body into an organic synth body, she's overwhelmed by how much stronger emotions are for her now and says that her eyes are malfunctioning when she begins to cry.
  • Roxas in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, who as a Nobody supposedly does not feel emotions. That doesn't stop him from crying in his dreams, however, and he writes about his confusion over this in his journal:
    The dreams have gotten stranger. Now I wake up with water on my cheeks. I don't know how it got there, but I think there's something really wrong with me.
  • Inverted in Super Mario RPG: Booster, seeing Princess Toadstool crying, asks, "Are you leaking, my dear?"

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold has Red Tornado creating a "son" and then being forced to destroy him. He makes the "my eyes are leaking" quote afterwards.
  • Stan in American Dad!, more than once.
  • Parodied on Clone High. When JFK (seeking guidance) cries in front of Principal Scudworth, Scudworth shrieks and exclaims "Is that water leaking out of your face!?" Could be considered an inversion as well, since Scudworth is the only (naturally born) human among the main characters.
  • King of the Hill:
    • In the episode "An Officer and a Gentle Boy" Cotton brings up his mean one-legged drill instructor, then suddenly tears start leaking down his face, he is very surprised and embarrassed and says "I guess over reminiscing has brought up my pain water".
    • Also another episode has everyone worried about why Hank was crying when they watched a drama movie when he never usually cries, it turns out he was crying because his truck was breaking down and the son attempting to save his dying father from underneath a tractor reminded him of that.
  • In Pinky and the Brain, Brain shows Pinky sad scenes from movies while urging him to stay stoic, but when an obvious parody of The Lion King (1994) comes in Brain gets moved and says "Pinky, my eyes are leaking" and dismisses the idea that he's crying as ridiculous. When both of them stop weeping Brain suddenly gets the idea of making the saddest movie ever created.
  • The Owl House: The Collector has a moment like this upon witnessing Luz's supposed death, and discovering that he can't just "fix" her like he had assumed he could.
    The Collector: "What is this stuff? Wh-why won't it stop?!"
  • Towards the end of Scooby-Doo! Music of the Vampire, Velma comes to untie Daphne from a swamp altar, and as she does, her eyes start to water and it trickles down her face. When Daphne (in a semi-dazed state) tells Velma not to cry ("You won't always be a bridesmaid," she slurs), Velma says she's not—the witch's hypnotic gas is making her eyes water.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (2016): In "Bridezilla," Buttercup is seen crying after Bianca and Barbarus Bikini reconcile (after Barbarus nearly throttles Bianca for trying to break up her wedding to Mojo Jojo):
    Buttercup: I'm not crying! I'm just allergic to sad stuff!
  • Sofia the First: In one episode of the last season, the titular character meets Princess Ivy again. Ivy is very much her usual cold, uncaring self... until her beloved pet skunk Roma is afflicted by "the Deep Sleeps," which she's been refusing to help Sofia cure the entire episode. She puts her hand to her face and asks "Why are my cheeks wet?" Sofia has to explain that it's because she cares for Roma and wants to help him.