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Not So Stoic

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Even the Dark Knight can't keep brooding forever.

"You're not hurt, Watson? For God's sake, say that you are not hurt!" It was worth a wound - it was worth many wounds - to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain."
Sherlock Holmes, "The Three Garridebs"

Not So Stoic is what happens when The Stoic is pushed to the edge, and falls off. This is when the Stoic loses their façade and shows the world (or just their True Companions) that they aren't an emotionless automaton. They may be good at hiding it but they feel just as much as the rest of us. Likely to be very heartwrenching or extremely terrifying or both.

In order to qualify, the show of emotion must be a significant one, not just a slight smile, Single Tear or subtle frown. This emotion need not be a "negative" one: Manly Tears over the death of a teammate are certainly un-stoic, but so is unfettered joy over their return.

These outpourings of emotion usually happen only a few times throughout the series — if the stoic is showing emotion every other episode in every season, then they aren't much of a stoic. However, these moments can also be used to illustrate a character's growth towards becoming more open to others, in which case displays of emotion — overt and subtle — would become more frequent over time.

Compare with Beware the Quiet Ones, Not So Above It All, O.O.C. Is Serious Business, Sugar-and-Ice Personality, and Did You Think I Can't Feel?. Contrast with Past Experience Nightmare (where The Stoic can keep it buttoned up — while awake), Rage Breaking Point. See also Corpsing, when a character (or actor) is trying to be serious but fails and breaks up into laughter, and Cathartic Crying, for when a character who hardly ever cries (whether because they're The Stoic, or a Stepford Smiler, or some other reason) finally breaks into tears.

When Played for Laughs or poorly written, it's an Out-of-Character Moment. Always a Sub-Trope of The Stoic (non-stoic characters are expected to display emotion whereas a Stoic character displaying an emotional reaction demonstrates a crack in their normal personality). Sometimes overlaps with Alternate Catchphrase Inflection or Cracks in the Icy Façade.

WARNING: Many Spoilers Ahead!

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Other examples:

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    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: Kalo in general seems to make Careful S. more emotional than he usually is, but the most well-known instance is in Season 7 episode 50, when Kalo sacrifices himself to save the planet; even Careful S. is bawling his eyes out.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • His biggest weak points as far as emotion goes are his children, but especially Dick. At one point, when exposed to the Scarecrow's fear toxin, he runs through his worst fears checklist in an almost bored manner, with everyone close to him dying. Then it comes to Dick, and Batman's only response is a very determined "No."
    • In A Death in the Family and Batman: Under the Red Hood, Batman's expression on his face of shock, horror, and sadness after Jason Todd's death speaks for itself.
    • In one instance, Batman was talking with Catwoman after the Gang War storyline, which devastated the city and left two of his allies dead. Angry at his casual reaction to it, Catwoman starts holding him, yelling "Feel! Feel something, damn it!". Bruce just pulls her into a hug and says "Selina... I feel everything". Not a big show of emotion, but it certainly illustrates the point.
    • In "Mad Love", Batman apparently bursts out in hysterical laughter at the thought of Harley Quinn actually winning the love of the Joker. In this case, he was deliberately doing it to play on Harley's insecurities. It worked, too.
    • In The Killing Joke, he shares a hearty guffaw with The Joker at a metaphorical joke about the two of them. It's more laughter of the damned, but it's still real laughter.
    • The Trope Image is from Knightfall, just after Batman has to be stopped from smashing Zsasz's head in like a watermelon. The kicker? That was part 3. It gets worse from there.
    • He sometimes can actually be creeped out by his villains. A memorable example comes from Batman: Gothic, from Batman Legends Of The Dark Knight. After he saw Mister Whisper being run-over by a train and still being alive, slowly healing from his wounds he screams in horror and is visually scared.
    • Bats can also go into this mode when his best frenemy and foil Superman is in danger. Most notable in the Superman/Batman comics. Examples include tearfully pleading a dying Kal-El to hold on, willing to break his no-kill rule on finding out what Lex Luthor's latest scheme would have done to Supes had it worked, and being almost Driven to Suicide in despair over Clark's presumed death.
    • Batman rogue Mr. Freeze is, as befits a cold-themed character, usually grim and without empathy. However, bring up his beloved Nora and he will break down, either in rage or sorrow. Depends on the writer, as some write Freeze to be more openly emotional to the point where the trope wouldn't apply.
  • Cyclops has done this a few times, notably in the X-Men First Class two-parter Catalyst. As everyone wakes up to find their powers are gone, they feel either intrigued, shocked, or depressed; Scott however is dancing with joy, happier than ever before as he can finally open his eyes without killing everything. Then when they regain their powers they're ten times stronger, with Scott now having full control. However, Xavier realizes they have to give up their new level of power because it's making them too god-like, Scott is the only one who isn't now a physical God, but willingly gives it up, but not after a panel or two of looking like hell.
  • Damage Control Comptroller Albert Cleary normally has Nerves of Steel, but he loses control after finding out he's been portrayed as an Uncle Tomfoolery caricature in a movie based on the company.
  • The New 52 version of Superboy, when he starts getting a no-holds-barred beatdown in issue #2.
  • James-Michael is The Stoic in Omega the Unknown due to having been raised by robots, but begins to react more emotionally as time goes on, even shedding a tear when one of his friends is beaten to death by bullies, though in truth he's more enraged than sad.
  • Desire in The Sandman (1989) just seems amused most of the time. Even when its plans fail, it just shrugs it off. The exception: getting one-upped by Dream during "Three Septembers and a January", when Joshua Norton rejects its offer out of hand. It's the only time Desire gets angry.
    • When Morpheus himself is confronted by the insane Hector Hall and learns that Hall calls himself "The Sandman", it's the first and only time in the whole series that he laughs (although his face is hidden by his helmet at the time).
    • In "Brief Lives", Morpheus is extremely depressed after killing his son and finally breaks down into tears while going through his memories.
  • In Watchmen, Rorschach's face never registers emotion — with two notable exceptions. He goes into a screaming frenzy when the cops take off his mask, and at the very end, he rips off his mask, showing Dr. Manhattan that he's been weeping uncontrollably since finding out the extent of Ozymandias' plan.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics):
    • After Zonie makes Sonic kill an alternate version of his father and Sonic blows up at him, Zonic reminds him that it was technically his father too.
    • A lighter example comes when Espio is told that he can return to Angel Island with his friends. He reacts with unbridled joy, before quickly clearing his throat and apologizing for the uncharacteristic outburst.
  • The Transformers (IDW): Cyclonus is fiercely loyal to Galvatron, and always follows him with a dour attitude. However, when Galvatron is beaten back, Cyclonus is free of his influence (not mind control) and attacks him while screaming about how Galvatron was destroying their home. This continues into Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: where he's with the Autobots and very closed off, even his threats are delivered quietly and with a straight face. His interactions with Tailgate have caused him anger, and even violence, though he softens eventually, and shows him a kinder side.
    • Soundwave from the IDW comics barely even registers emotion, he's composed in battle, and barely reacts when he's almost lobotomized. When Thunderwing's release is threatened, he considers the plan insane and tries to stop it, all the while never betraying his feelings. His emotions have only surfaced roughly four times: once in Monstrosity when sharing a jab at Scorponok's expense, once during All Hail Megatron where he wordlessly screams when he finds Rumble near death, during the Remain in the Light arc when Ravage starts dying from the Depopulation Bomb, he's in a full panic and begging for someone to save him and finally in the "Dying of the Light" arc he nearly breaks down when he senses Ravage's death.
    • Ultra Magnus has a go when it turns out that being The Teetotaler means that he Can't Hold His Liquor.
      Magnus: (distraught) I'm a serious person Swerve! I can't help it! I have only two expressions, and the second is just an angrier version of the first!
    • Megatron takes a break from his grim, brooding stoicism to throw a tantrum about how ridiculous everything to do with the Lost Light is.
      Magnus: Not at all. On this ship, a minor breakdown is practically a rite of passage.
  • Ultimate Daredevil & Elektra: Elektra does not want to hear anything about Phoebe and Melissa gossiping about her crush. But when she hears that Phoebe knows the name of the man she liked, she's suddenly very interested to hear it.
  • Another X-Men example is brought to us in the 1998 Heroes for Hire / Quicksilver crossover special, which featured as one of its antagonists the X-Men villain Exodus. Exodus, for the uninitiated, is a Knight Templar from the Crusades, and true to this background he's almost always The Stoic. He is also the man he is today in large part because of the actions of the Avenger Dane Whitman (aka the Black Knight), who at a critical period in history displaced his ancestor (and Exodus' best friend) Eobar Garrington. For the past 800 years, Exodus has believed it was his best friend who betrayed him, until this issue when the Black Knight tells him it was really him the whole time. Exodus... does not take it well.
  • X-23 as a rule keeps her emotions tightly controlled, and it's a significant character trait she has difficulties expressing, or even understanding, what she's feeling. She endures the years of physical and emotional abuse inflicted on her by Zander Rice and Kimura in complete silence, even when her creator/mother, Sarah, tries to get her to talk about it. At least until she's forced to kill Sarah by the Trigger Scent during their escape from the Facility, at which point for a couple pages Laura becomes a lonely, broken girl desperately crying over her mother's body to come back to her. She also breaks down in tears once again when she's forced to cut off ties with her cousin and aunt to protect them from Kimura. The only other times she generally lets her guard down is when someone she cares about is in danger. In which case it's a very, very bad idea to be on the receiving end.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Ren Serizawa. Vivienne observes that, unlike his late father's stoic personality, Ren's frosty demeanor is more of a mask that he uses to restrain his unresolved emotional issues (and he has a few regarding his late father).
  • In Ace Combat: The Equestrian War, both Talisman and Mobius express sincere sadness after the death of Carrot Top.
  • Snape in Arc of Sacrifices, big time. After being his usual snarky-git self for pretty much the entire series, he goes absolutely insane when Regulus Black dies in the seventh book.
  • Glynda Goodwitch in BlazBlue Alternative: Remnant is normally rather serious and reserved, being professional in all situations. However, she has her moments of either levity or humor, such as her hero worship of Trinity Glassfille. Not to mention she acts a lot warmer and less stern whenever she's around Litchi.
  • Child of the Storm:
    • Doctor Strange usually maintains a smooth, polished, and faintly smug demeanour as someone who's got everyone right where he wants them and is quite comfortable moving them like chess pieces without more than a dry comment. However, this is part of the image he projects of the invincible Doctor Strange, and when he does crack under pressure or emotional strain, the results tend to be either amusing or, more usually, terrifying (or, rarely, both).
    • Maddie was raised as The Spock, in the full belief that she is an Artificial Human whose only purpose is to be a Living Weapon, and is (mostly) fine with that, with a chill calm and practicality in the face of almost anything. Anything, that is, barring the Awful Truth that she is Jean Grey's twin sister, stolen at birth, and people being kind to her without any ulterior motives. The latter actually draws a heartbreakingly confused wail.
  • This occurs in Clouded Sky with Igneous, the protagonist's normally very stoic Magmar. During a Pokémon battle, an enemy Girafarig forces him to accidentally injure one of his allies and, due to his constant fear of unintentionally hurting those close to him, he flies into a rage and starts mercilessly pummeling Girafarig, completely ignoring his trainer's commands.
  • Code Prime: Even Tohdoh is absolutely stunned in Chapter 5 of R1 when the Autobots make their existence public.
  • Corrin Reacts: Beruka and Flora are canonically an Emotionless Girl and a Broken Bird respectively. However...
    • Beruka ends up breaking into a Luminescent Blush when Benny gives her an Accidental Kiss and admits unrequited feelings for him when he admits his.
    • Flora is a constant target of Corrin's attempts at jokes, and he even succeeds at making her laugh. Also, the absolutely lovestruck smile she gives after playing a game with Jakob.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: Japan is usually stoic. Except for when you get on his nerves. Admittedly, this is VERY hard to do. Germany can tell you how Japan is like when he is angry though.
    Japan: "SPEAK FOR YOURSELF! YOU'RE FAR TOO TOUGH AND HARSH! YOU'RE THE ONE WHO ALWAYS SCREAMS AT AND LAYS YOUR HANDS ON ITALIA-KUN!" The temperature plunged and soared hundreds of degrees simultaneously as the Asian lunged, the atmosphere far more inhospitable than the most blazing and subzero of deserts.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series fanfic Insontis II, when Kirk is almost electrocuted, kid!Spock hides himself. Shortly after finding him, McCoy notices his hands are "clenched and trembling." He is only a kid.
  • Suyou in Kyon: Big Damn Hero shows satisfaction when Kyon takes one of the reprogrammed Morph Weapons from her. She also wishes him good luck, which he promptly needs.
  • When The Chief confronts Garrus in The Last Spartan for telling Tali to ask him about Cortana, the latter's attempts to convince him to come clean about Cortana's continued existence (despite the fact that A.I.s are illegal in Citadel Space) are met with barely contained frustration. When Garrus keeps pushing, however, The Chief snaps and reminds Garrus that all his fellow Spartans and everyone he knows in general is long-since dead (implicitly anyone who survived the war is dead of old age themselves). Cortana, as he notes, is all he has left.
  • Lucy's Secret: Lucy's shame over her bedwetting and keeping it a secret causes her to actually cry a few times, and moan once, despite her usual stoicism.
  • A Man of Iron: When it's suggested that his cousin Tony is the Iron Man, the usually utterly composed Ned Stark bursts out in hysterical laughter, much to the shock of the Small Council.
  • Mirai SMP:
    • Cooper tries to be the stoic strong one when compared to Travis, but it's obvious from the start that this is a front. It especially comes crashing down when the group is stuck in the bloody hospital they found, and Cooper slips and falls before breaking out into loud sobs.
    • The reader learns that Joko might not be the cold, calculative master manipulator he sets himself up to be when he breaks down crying in the bathroom of the motel room.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series fanfic Memories Born of Fire, Spock becomes more clingy around Kirk and has nightmares to the point of insomnia in the aftermath of the kal-i-fee.
  • In Mission Report: Impossible as Nova Prime attempts to get through an insane report that the Guardians sent in, she keeps trying to stay calm, stoic, and in control like normal before giving up and instead laughs until she starts crying.
  • In A Monster's Nature, for all of Brandon's usual emotional detachment, he appears genuinely scared at the thought of losing Caitlyn and looks at her with something that could be considered love, to the point of having a panic attack when he thinks he's left her in a coma while escaping a plane crash.
    • Brandon even has a mini-breakdown when he admits during his reunion with Caitlyn that he actually does mourn the deaths of his parents, shakily affirming that he misses them even after they tried to kill him.
  • My Father's Son: Stannis surprised even himself when after a deep conversation with Lyneese Hightower, he shows jealousy, shrewdness, and desire to have her as his wife.
  • My Hero Academia: Unchained Predator: Shoto Todoroki may have No Social Skills and is very hard to surprise. So when he sees a river of blood and corpses flooding down the street coming from the I-Expo where the Slayer was currently getting to work, he is terrified beyond comprehension.
    • Despite sounding unimpressed at the Slayer's presence in Chapter 18, Curator is uneased at the silent man's presence. Granted, seeing a man covered in blood and guts from his last few thousand victims would be more than enough to make any stoic man nervous.
  • Kyril Sutherland from The Night Unfurls is a Consummate Professional whose facial expression is perpetually nonchalant, even when butchering his foes, but there are moments where he expresses significant outward emotion. He always bounces back to normal after these moments, though.
    • During a flashback in Chapter 1 of the original, he remained stoic and solemn as he watched his mentor figure Eileen the Crow pass on as he stayed by her side. He didn't realize he had been crying.
    • The Hunter bursts into laughter after Vault reveals his Evil Plan to create a Sex Slave Empire, because it sounds ridiculous.
    • In Chapter 13 of the original, he keeps his annoyance towards the rumors claiming he slept with Maia inside, until he reaches his Rage Breaking Point due to a parchment alerting him that the refugees in the Church are getting kicked out. This is a downplayed example — he is visibly seething rather than exploding or yelling, but his display of anger, which differs from the calm menace he generally exudes, still comes across as extremely terrifying.
    • He outright ditches his professionalism for a while when he eats a Beast Blood Pellet in Chapter 26 of the original, which causes him to behave like a feral beast who roars and claws. And then he bellows to the fleeing rebels that he would come for them.
    • In Chapter 32 of the original, he gets really, really mad after experiencing his first death via assassination, so mad that he briefly distorts reality to pursue the assassin responsible.
  • In A Pink Planet, Pink Diamond puts on a brave and wise face towards the Earth and the people that live there, but Greg was quick to realize that her abusive history with her fellow Diamonds has led her to have massive reserves of self-doubt and a pathological fear of disappointing others.
  • In Power Rangers Mythos, despite his history as a Ranger, Flynn is clearly uncomfortable with even the idea that ghosts might be real when investigating strange occurrences in the Paris catacombs, prompting some teasing from Z.
  • Queen of All Oni: Father, one of Jade's Aspects who represents Jackie's influence on her, shows genuine sorrow when Hero is captured by the Queen.
  • Queens of Mewni: the normally stoic Glossaryck just looks sad when he sees a heavily pregnant Sky the Weaver knitting a onesie for her daughter to wear, but couldn't bear to tell Sky that, since he's omniscient and knows the future, knows Sky won't live to see Moon wear that onesie.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: In Nightmares Yet to Come, Midnight is so stoic that when she apparently attempts to make a joke, it is with absolutely no change in her usual tone, yet she claims immediately after that she panicked (again, with no change in tone or her usual expression). When Trixie's not around, she actually shows a much less stoic demeanour, far more casual language, and in one instance goes berserk.
  • In the fanfic Retribution, Spock actually shouts when Kirk contradicts his statement that the captain "[has] no idea of the offenses that can be committed between us." Justified as the painfulness of McCoy's cure for Rapid Aging sapped his self-control.
  • Halo: Finishing The Fight: The Chief stays the same calm, composed soldier for the entire story, even when facing legions and Orcs, Dark Elves, Demons, and even the Demogorgan. But after he has finally killed the Demogorgan thanks to Cortana's Heroic Sacrifice, this happens:
    He grit his teeth again, and redoubled his efforts to keep moving. Cortana had bought this victory with her life. He silently swore to make that sacrifice count for something beyond what it already had. Right arm out, dig in a bit, pull, repeat. He chanted the mantra over and over again in his mind as he slowly dragged himself towards the faint, now blurring, light ahead. He attributed the blurring to more malfunctions and failing systems, never realizing that the cause was the tears filling his eyes.
  • In The Second Try, Kaworu's aura of unflappable calm and serenity shattered when Asuka took him by surprise using her Unit-02 which he thought he was controlling. He was so shocked that he actually screamed.
  • The Stars Will Aid Their Escape: You can tell that Herald is having a Villainous Breakdown during his fight with the Princesses because he's actually getting visibly angry.
  • Likewise, Checker Monarch's Villainous Breakdown in 'Getting Back on Your Hooves is accompanied by her Ice Queen persona gradually slipping into a psychotic rage as Trixie's charity show manages to proceed as planned despite her attempts at stopping it before she snaps completely.
  • Like the previous two examples, Brainiac from Mare of Steel gets visibly angry when Rainbow Dash/Supermare breaks out of his Sadistic Choice and decides to just kill her instead of collecting any information from her.
  • This Bites!:
    • In Chapter 18, when the crew arrives at Rainbase, Zoro whoops at the thought of not having to traverse the desert anymore. It takes a minute for them to believe that he's actually Zoro.
    • As of Chapter 25, it seems that Robin's losing her status as The Stoic a lot faster than in canon.
    • After Cross pulls his Davy Jones ghost story prank on his listeners, Zoro, Robin, and even Wiper are laughing fit to bust.
    • Dragon bursts into laughter when he hears the Straw Hats annihilate the World Government's flag.
    • Robin completely loses her calm countenance when Cross gives her a noogie.
  • In Losing Control, Eren notes that Annie's lost her perpetually bored look during their fight, embracing the same Unstoppable Rage he has.
  • Total Loud Island: Dawn is usually very in control of herself and is very hard to shake, but Chris manages to find a way. When during 'Phobia Factor' her challenge is to stay locked in a cargo crate full of working machines without any form of nature for six hours and ends up begging to be let out. Then when the gross-out challenge puts her in a position where she's forced to eat meat and she starts to cry.
  • In the James Bond/The Worst Witch crossover "A Witching Happiness", when MI6 agents including M, Q, and Bond hear Alec Trevalyan making his apparently final call to the daughter he only recently met, they're all struck by the emotion in the call, with M planning to ensure his agent's final wishes for his daughter are carried out.
  • Normally pragmatic and unflappable, in Desire Written in Olive, Black Widow bursts out in a "barking laugh that made everyone jump" when she hears that Vision accidentally walked in on Tony and Wanda having sex.
  • Despite her usually stoic persona, in The Loud House fanfiction Irrational Fear, Lisa, when scared, acts just like a normal scared little girl, and she's later seen crying and laughing.
  • The animated fan series The Legend of Zelda: A Hero's Purpose (a take on the yet-untold story between The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess) has a truly heartbreaking moment in episode 3 when, having returned to Hyrule after many years of wandering, Link reconnects with Saria again by playing her song. During a lull in their conversation, the full weight of everything he had been through, fought to overcome, and was forced to give up as the Hero of Time finally becomes too much to bear, and Link breaks down sobbing in frustration over how he's had to suffer quietly with it for so long. The story is presented in the style of a cutscene from the games, complete with dialog options for Link, and the struggle to keep his emotions bottled up is represented by the arrow switching between him pouring out his heart to Saria and simply saying some variant of "I'm fine", until those latter choices soon become grayed out. It's more effective than you'd think. As is Saria's response.
  • In Total Drama Comeback, a Running Gag is that Eva, who normally is either surly or screaming in fury, breaks out in uncontrollable laughter during slapsticky moments.
  • Felix in Doppler Effect manages to keep a cool head throughout most of the story when acting as Chat Noir's substitute, but he starts to have a very bad breakdown when he has to use Cataclysm without Plagg to act as a Power Limiter, something the Kwami warns is quite dangerous and could very well result in death. Luckily, Felix survives.
  • Batman in Spiderhead is, well, Batman, but he eventually becomes extremely unnerved when he finds out the full extent of Spider-Man's baser arachnid instincts and abilities. A few examples include: finding bugs delicious, being able to inject people with venom, being able to loosen his bones and move around like slime, and (in the Omake) being able to transform into a swarm of spiders that retain his consciousness.
    "Spider-Man," Bruce says, and his voice is uneven in the way that Batman's voice is never uneven. There's no growl at all. "What the fuck."
  • The interrogator, of all people, in You Obey is like this. Because the story is told from his perspective, you get a very vivid idea of what his job does to him.
  • Wednesday fanfic Either Way What Bliss: Wednesday usually never shows emotion, but was clearly very concerned for Enid's safety.

    Films — Animation 
  • Big Hero 6:
    • Gogo Tomago comes across as The Stoic under most situations, but ends up flipping out over Wasabi's over-cautiousness when they are being chased by the villain:
      Gogo: Why're we stopped?
      Wasabi: The light's red!
      Gogo: There are no red lights IN A CAR CHASE!
    • Later, after Hiro tries to outright kill Professor Callaghan, Gogo is the one to give him a Cooldown Hug.
  • Stoick, aptly enough, in How to Train Your Dragon is very much this trope, dropping his cool demeanor when he fears for the safety of his tribe or his son Hiccup. Also in the sequel, when he is reunited with his long-lost wife Valka. Valka lampshades this at one point, saying, "Stop being so stoic, Stoick." when Stoick walks up to her without saying a word.
  • Kung Fu Panda:
    • Kung Fu Panda: Tigress is cold and emotionless throughout most of the film, especially toward Po, whom she regards as an unworthy interloper. When Po starts making goofy faces after she tells him about Master Shifu and Tai Lung, she loses her temper and is about to take him down, until Mantis assures her that Po's goofy face was the result of his hitting the wrong nerve with his acupuncture.
    • Kung Fu Panda 2: She is still fairly cool and collected throughout, but has come to regard Po as an equal and a friend. When she fights Po to keep him out of a battle (due to concerns for his own safety) she ends the fight by giving Po a Cool-Down Hug, which stuns the rest of the Furious Five into slack-jawed silence and even Po himself.
      "The hardcore do understand."
  • Done twice in Monsters University, once for comedy then for drama.
    • The deadpan and goth Claire Wheeler plays up the contrast with her Large Ham partner Buck. But when Oozma Kappa win the Scare Games, she goes nuts with excitement, even more than Buck.
    • Dean Hardscrabble is very strict, harsh, and unflappable. When Mike and Sulley create a scream of such power that it not only activates a door from the human side, it fills up every canister in the laboratory until the door explodes, she becomes wide-eyed in shock. After expelling them for destroying the lab, she wishes them good luck and informs them she believes in them because they did one thing she thought was impossible, and that was surprising her.
  • The Prophet: While Mustafa is a warm man he's also a very reserved one. All of his dealings with the people are kind, honest, and dignified; he's even patient with the Sergeant. With the Commandant, however, he has harsher words towards and it's clear that underneath his pleasantries he hates what the Commandant stands for.
  • Miguel O'Hara in The Stinger for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is introduced in a relatively subdued and sarcastic conversation, only to start his actual mission and get sidetracked by yelling at his counterpart in the '60s cartoon universe in a pointless argument over (ironically enough) pointing.
  • In Turning Red, Priya usually maintains a disinterested frown on her face even when her voice and body language indicate she's actually excited, but she looks just as terrified as Abby and Miriam when the three scream at the sight of Mei's panda form. This is also generally seen during particularly emotional moments in general like when 4*Town starts singing on stage.

  • Randy Travis has two songs exploring this theme:
    • "The Box" is about a box that the narrator finds, containing sentimental memorabilia from his father, including a poem about his children and a faded leather Bible. The narrator then concludes that "We all thought his heart was made of solid rock / But that was long before we found the box".
    • Also done in "A Man Ain't Made of Stone":
      I was supposed to be the rock that you could stand on
      Stronger than an old oak tree
      But all you ever wanted was the one thing
      I never let you see
      The tender side of me
      I tried to be a mountain, solid and strong
      All it took was your leaving to know I was wrong
      A man ain't made of stone…
  • "Cry" by Mandy Moore describes a woman becoming interested in a normally stoic peer after seeing him cry.
    You were always the cold one
    But I was never that sure
    You were all by yourself staring up at a dark, grey sky
    I was changed
    In places no one would find
    All your feelings so deep inside
    It was then that I realized that forever was in your eyes
    The moment I saw you cry

  • In The Hidden Almanac, Reverend Mord generally reacts with stoicism, even Dissonant Serenity, no matter how strange things get. However, he's had his moments.
    • He becomes audibly frustrated when dealing with the antics of Pastor Drom.
    • He is also displeased by the advent of a cat living in the garden, eating songbirds. Very. Displeased.
    • A sponsor message claiming that the Librarian Prince was a misunderstood hero has Mord stopping and refusing to read it because this is the Librarian Prince they're defending.
    • He is even more displeased by the temporal-warp-induced discovery that Drom is going to be a saint.
    • The takeover of the Fathers, who warped everyone's memory but his, tried him sorely. Especially when Drom mentions that they have a yearly book burning.
    • When Drom is seemingly mortally injured at the end of the Inquisitor Ingrid arc, Mord grows increasingly insistent that she will not die.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • On the WWF Monday Night Raw episode following Owen Hart's death in May 1999, several of the normally ranting, raving, dastardly villains were offering genuine, heartfelt thoughts and condolences to the Hart family... many of them through very real tears.
  • The Undertaker, outside of his Biker years, is pretty stoic, but ruthless in battle with his occasional breaking point when pushed too far. In 1997 there were two specific scenes where he displayed a level of grief & emotion that we hadn't seen from him up to that point, and haven't seen again since. Even to this day, many fans are still surprised to see him in that light.
    • The more famous of the two scenes involves him telling everyone the true story about the death of his (kayfabe) family in response to Paul Bearer's accusations. The entire scene is filled with emotion from Taker's body language, voice, and expressions. But there were certain points where he almost seemed to be on the verge of tears.
    • A lesser-known scene shows Taker at his parents' grave, speaking to them about Kane, his path in life, and how he has no choice but to fight his brother. He's almost as emotional as the previous scene, but this time he's speaking to his parents rather than about them & at the end, he sadly tells them both that he loves them.
  • Hulk Hogan was shown on very rare occasions to get emotional (in kayfabe), the most notable experience being on the February 3, 1989, episode of The Main Event, where Hogan and Randy Savage were facing the Twin Towers (Akeem and Big Bossman) in a tag team match. Midway through the match, Akeem threw Savage onto his beautiful valet, Miss Elizabeth, and Elizabeth crumpled to the floor in an unconscious heap. Hogan immediately ran to Liz's side (as a woozy Savage struggled to regain his bearings) and immediately lost his composure. In tears, he cried, fearing that Elizabeth had been killed ... or worse! Hogan's decision to leave Savage at ringside and instead be at Elizabeth's bedside (prepared for when the medic would give the official word that Elizabeth was ... DUM-DUH-DAAAA!!! ... DEAD!!!) ... set off a series of events later in the match that led to Savage turning on Hogan and a match set up for WrestleMania V, in which Hogan defeated Savage to reclaim the World Heavyweight Championship.

  • At the end of Gillette's Sherlock Holmes, Holmes, after having replied indifferently to Alice's asking whether he cares for her at all, takes her hand gently, confesses that he does care for her, and is finally moved to embrace her protectively.
  • Invoked by Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing, as he grieves over the slanders against his daughter Hero:
    "I pray thee, peace. I will be flesh and blood;
    For there was never yet philosopher
    That could endure the toothache patiently,
    However they have writ the style of gods
    And made a push at chance and sufferance."

  • Toa of Ice characters from BIONICLE tend to be both the quiet ones and stoic, until Character Development kicks in, the most famous example being Kopaka. When not making all sorts of nasty, sarcastic remarks to people that annoy him (as in, people who express emotions freely), he keeps his thoughts to himself and would like to finish his duties as quickly as possible. But when his friend Pohatu recovered from a Disney Death, he softened up quite a bit. Later, in another story, after having been beaten, weakened, and looted, a group of innocent villagers mistook him and his team for a bunch of villains and attacked them. This angered Kopaka so much that he lashed out with what little power he had left, with the intention of killing the villagers!

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney Investigations gives us Shih-na, a hyper-competent Emotionless Girl who speaks with zero inflection in her voice. As evidence piles up that she's a criminal, her normally blank expression changes to a Psychotic Smirk and then to a particularly creepy Slasher Smile, before finally breaking down completely.
    • Inverted and then played straight in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies. Bobby Fulbright, a goofy, over-the-top bumbling detective is revealed to be "the phantom", a sociopathic monster who experiences no genuine emotions (though with enough concentration he can fake them accurately enough to fool even the various gadgets and magic powers used specifically to see through people like him) and has literally no personality; a large part of the trial has him mocking "the masses controlled by emotions" and bragging about how his lack of humanity makes him unbreakable. It turns out he isn't completely without emotions, however, as the risk of having one's cover blown and getting assassinated on the spot is enough to make even the phantom feel afraid. And as that scenario becomes more and more likely...
  • Danganronpa:
    • Celestia Ludenberg in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc usually presents herself as a stoic, pragmatic, Elegant Gothic Lolita. However, she does have some Berserk Button and if pressed, her expression changes into a deranged, screaming lunatic. She's the culprit of the third case, and when about to be exposed, she pretty much puts on the deranged self all the time, until she's finally exposed and decides to be a Graceful Loser.
    • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony:
      • The culprits of Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 both show the depths of their true personalities after having carefully guarded public faces. Kirumi Tojo, the killer in Chapter 2, initially comes off as very refined and polite, to the point that her personal motto is "duty before self" and that she's an Extreme Doormat. But she does not take it well when she's exposed as Ryoma's killer (even voting for Shuichi out of spite) and completely loses her stoic personality when she tries to escape the school, screaming about how she refuses to die and that she'll live for the sake of Japan. Korekiyo, the Chapter 3 killer, gives off apathetic and aloof airs (but can be dramatic from time to time) and has an extremely violent breakdown when he gets caught during the trial, repeatedly insisting that Shuichi apologizes to him.
      • Maki Harukawa. She normally doesn't express much emotion apart from annoyance, but when Kaito is found guilty in the fifth trial, she loses it and angrily threatens to kill Monokuma until Kaito convinces her not to. She starts crying afterwards, both before and after his execution.
      • Himiko Yumeno initially doesn't express her emotions because she thinks it's "tiresome". After Kokichi gives her a What the Hell, Hero? rant during the third trial and she remembers Tenko's final words telling her that it's okay to show emotions, Himiko bursts into tears after Korekiyo's execution. She starts expressing herself regularly from Chapter 4 on.
  • Sakazaki Yuuya of Hatoful Boyfriend wouldn't immediately appear to be a stoic. He's friendly and cheerful, or he's professional, or a little cruel, or he's a mix, depending. However he is a huge Stepford Smiler whose attitude doesn't change even in enormously stressful situations such as when he's dying and he always seems relaxed and careless, giving away nothing of what's happening inside. Now and then his mask cracks for a moment but he's always able to repair it... however, during a side story in Holiday Star he finds out that his brother's butler is actually an assassin and just loses it with fear and worry, even making bald-faced threats.
  • Hisao from Katawa Shoujo instantly knows that something is terribly wrong with Lilly when she accidentally trips due to another kid being careless (mind you, she's blind) and mutters "damn" under her breath while getting up. Think about it: Lilly has such nigh-inhuman levels of self-control and politeness that she can say what most people wouldn't even consider a real swearword these days, and people would get worried.
  • Little Busters!:
    • On your first playthrough, Kengo will come across as totally serious and immune to the wild antics of his friends, dedicating all his time towards playing Kendo and not even participating in the baseball game in the end. In all future games, though, halfway through the common route a scene will play where Kengo saves his friend from committing suicide and breaks his arm in the process...and from then on becomes downright giddy, smiling all the time and making himself look just as silly as everyone else. The others are clearly unnerved by the transformation.
    • And from a different direction, when Riki beats him in the baseball match in Refrain, he bursts into tears outright over how much time he wasted on Kendo for nothing. Later as they're disappearing, he's noticeably teary-eyed, and Kyousuke comments that in fact, he's the biggest crybaby of the five of them.
  • While Akira from Spirit Hunter: NG is a generally stoic person who responds to deaths with disbelief more than anything else, the potential death of his companions at Kubitarou's hands causes him to completely flip out, screaming curses while chasing her down.

    Web Animation 
  • The Champions: Lionel Messi generally is The Stoic, and in the instances where he does show his true emotions it's generally through his snarky profane puppet. However, he has shown genuine emotion a few times in the series, such as sharing a fearful glance with Cristiano Ronaldo during Eric Cantona’s Sudden Morbid Monologue, laughing at his puppet's suggestion that they move back to his old bed in Argentina, or his Alternate Universe counterpart crying over Messi explaining why he had to leave Barcelona for PSG.
  • In If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, Magnus is pretty snarky and chilled during Karamazov's raid... up until Emperor's "reveal" prompts a Flat "What".
  • In Interface, Henryk is perpetually unphased and usually hard to get a rise out of, but he utterly collapses when he has a flashback of his late daughter in Episode 6.
  • RWBY:
    • Lie Ren starts off highly stoic and calm, but over the course of Volume 4 he begins emoting more and more as the team travels further into Anima and keep encountering villages that have been destroyed by bandits or the Grimm. When the team finally reach Ren's home, they confront the Nuckelavee that has been destroying local villages. Ren sinks to his knees in horror and shock but his hatred and anger grow throughout the fight until he loses all control against the monster that killed his home town and family. In the seventh and eighth volumes, the stress of the situation the heroes are under sees Ren struggling to contain his emotions throughout, resulting in increasing outbursts of anger or tears whenever situations hit him particularly hard, such as when he's forced to fight Neo at the end of Volume 7 while she's disguised as Nora or in Volume 8 when Oscar is taken away by the Hound and he isn't able to stop it.
    • Winter Schnee believes in controlling her emotions and swallowing her personal feelings in the interests of maintaining professionalism at all times. However, her temper makes this difficult for her to do. The first time she's introduced, Qrow successfully baits her into brawling in front of the school while the Atlesian council meeting leaves her tapping her finger with increasing impatience until she finally explodes at her father's criticism of Ironwood's trustworthiness. When she complains later to Penny that she succumbed to her feelings and sounded like a petulant child, Penny tells her she was speaking from the heart and that there's nothing wrong with that. She and Penny later debate whether it's a good thing to suppress personal feelings or embrace them when they debate Ironwood's decisions over protecting Mantle and the Winter Maiden. Later when she confronted Weiss, she was shown to sound angry at her due to believing that she betrayed Ironwood. Eventually, Winter starts losing her composure more during Volume 8 as she sees how far gone Ironwood was, her friendship with Penny making her kindness more obvious and seeing her sister fall into the void causing her to scream in terror.
    • While Vine Zeki is shown to be the most stoic member of the Ace-Ops, even he has moments where he loses his composure. One of which is when he sees Winter Schnee pretending to arrest Marrow Amin with a shocked expression in his face and later in the same scene he was shown afraid when General James Ironwood threatened to kill the remaining Ace-Ops if they would defect like Marrow just tried to do.

  • White Pearl in Ask White Pearl and Steven (almost!) anything is normally totally without emotion and acts as little more than a robot. However, their are moments when her true self does manage to break through. She might only be able to speak by repeating bits and pieces of Steven's sentences, but she is the one choosing to speak them, and when she first did it, it was clearly difficult or distressing her to do so. When Steven finally found out her name was Pearl, she cried a tear of relief. She also cried a single tear when she saw how much it hurt Steven after he found out she was just acting as his puppet before he has severed the connection between them and allowed her to be free again.
  • Naal'suul of Drowtales is The Woobie extraordinaire and surprises people by even being alive after being tainted by a demon so badly and acknowledges that she doesn't have much time left in the driest manner possible until this scene where she finally breaks and admits that she's afraid.
  • A Patreon-only strip of Dumbing of Age shows Dina's normally reserved parents express joy when Dina tells them that she has a girlfriend. And then go right back to being stoic.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Charlotte's near-emotionless veneer cracks in the fifth part of "So a Date at the Mall." When Diane casually dismisses Tara's intuition that she has vampire-hunting potential as nonsense, and instead focuses on her own romantic prospects or lack thereof with Elliot, Charlotte is genuinely appalled and castigates her for her priorities. Then, when Diane counters with an angry jab at her introversion and thoughtlessly asks whether she's ever dated, Charlotte shows her hurt feelings so visibly, if silently, that Diane realizes she's gone too far.
  • Higgs from Girl Genius, when Zeetha is wounded. And later, after Tarvek tells Higgs to "threaten me properly" in order to bank on a hunch he has, and he decides to go with it and get very threatening about it. And thus we see part of his stoic facade is because showing most emotions clearly would give him away.
  • Edith of Godslave is usually bordering on Emotionless Girl, but she has her moments:
    • Oh, Crap! when the jar breaks.
    • He war-face when she goes full-Kiai on Turner.
    • Her rage at realizing what Anpu did to her.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court:
    • Moments with the Emotionless Girl Antimony:
      • Chapter 6 where, seemingly out of nowhere, Antimony starts bawling her eyes out over her mother's death. This marked a turning point for Antimony — since then, she's opened up to her close friends, while maintaining a stoic façade to the rest of the world.
      • She loses her cool near the end of chapter 19 when "Kat" is disintegrated by Gamma. A weakness isn't normal, child. That Place poisons you.
      • At the start of Chapter 37, we get Antimony's emotionless monologue as everyone worries over her - and, then, after ushering everyone out of the room, Kat's dad offers her a glass of water...
    • Anthony, if we'll believe Annie's flashbacky dream.
    • In Chapters 51 and 52, Annie is shown retreating completely into an emotionless shell in response to her father's unexpected return. Then in Chapter 53, we get a flashback of just how she reacted in private to it. It is very, very NOT emotionless.
  • Homestuck:
    • Dave Strider generally makes a point of being at least half facetious about everything and never allowing a crack in his deadpan expression. However, he does become obviously upset when he thinks that Rose is about to go on a suicide mission. (Later, during Act 6, he gradually gives up the cool-guy act and becomes more emotionally open.)
    • Rose Lalonde's demeanor was cracked with the death of her mother where she immediately blamed herself. Her level of sanity after she goes Grimdark is questionable, but she was fairly stable until Jack killed John where she then attacked him in an eldritch rage. During the Meteor intermission she begins drinking she's less guarded but also falls into an inept stoop. When she snaps out of it, she expresses regret at having fallen into that rut.
    • Doc Scratch is always polite and composed, be it when serving guests, beating them up, narrating, or abusing a child. When he finds out that Vriska has his cue ball, he has an outburst so powerful that it screws with reality. Another example would be when he's talking to Gamzee, where he drops his attitude and declares all of them to be suckers as he's won.
  • Ozy from Ozy and Millie nearly breaks down upon hearing about his birth mom.
  • In Pacificators, Emotionless Girl Taffe Torbern freaks out whether her big sister Larima Torbern gets hurt. This is the only thing that could shatter Taffe's composure.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent:
  • Phonsekal Lauroe from Tower of God usually appears as a very reserved, lazy but kind of high and mighty guy. Turns out he is one of the most childish whenever it concerns his Safety Blanket and Companion Cube.
  • Gray Yeon from Weak Hero is normally very stoic and reserved, which places great emphasis on the moments when he loses his cool:
    • After he beats down Teddy in front of the whole class, Eugene is the only one to notice that, despite how fearless Gray seems, his hands shake violently after the fight. The realisation that Gray was fighting in spite of his fear, rather than not experiencing it at all, makes Eugene feel awful for giving in to his own cowardice and prompts his Character Development.
    • When Stephen is hospitalised, Gray first appears to be as emotionless as ever. He stays at Stephen's side for an hour, watching over him with a blank expression. Then, on his way home, he collapses in the middle of the pavement and cries uncontrollably.

    Web Original 
  • Daichi in Greek Ninja, and even Sasha to an extent, although she's not as much of a stoic character as him to start with.
  • In Worm, Taylor notes that Revel never loses her cool. Except when Scion does a Face–Heel Turn and begins wiping out humanity, which makes it hit Taylor even harder.

    Web Videos 

    Real Life 
  • Newscasters are supposed to be stoic, and Dan Rather has been exceptional in this regard, reporting on everything from the assassination of John F. Kennedy (as CBS's Dallas correspondent) up to the events of 9/11—at least in his own newscast. However, he was very humanly emotional when he was David Letterman's first guest as the show returned after 9/11.
    • Bosses and other authority figures are also supposed to be stoic and not let others — particularly their subordinates — into their private lives, particularly the more traditional ones. But every once in a while, even the most traditional of superiors will let their iron-clad facade fall.
  • The Trope Codifier for Oh, the Humanity! is an earlier case of this. After calmly narrating the Hindenburg's approach to the mooring tower, newsreel announcer Herbert Morrison was horrified and at a loss for words when it caught fire.
  • Walter Cronkite briefly lost his composure on the air when he reported the official statement that John F. Kennedy had died. (Video here, the composure slip starts at just about 5:00)
    • His facade also briefly parted during liftoff and ascent of John Glenn's Mercury space-capsule flight. And when the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the moon, he was positively giddy.
  • Hideo Kojima's reaction to the question of whether Uwe Boll would be making a Metal Gear movie was supposedly...spirited, to say the least.
  • Henry VII Of England is seen as a serious faced stoic guy who rarely showed much emotion in public unless angry, surprised his courtiers by his intense grief and sobbing at his son Arthur's death.
  • Two-time Formula One champion Mika Hakkinen, like many Finnish drivers, was considered to be stoic to a fault...until the 1999 Italian Grand Prix when, in the midst of a fierce championship battle, Hakkinen selected the wrong gear and span off, losing the lead. In full view of the TV cameras, the normally ice-cool Finn threw his steering wheel at the ground and ran off to cry in the bushes.note 
  • Tennis player Andy Murray has a reputation as being quite stoic and serious...until he lost in the finals of Wimbledon 2012, and had to fight tears most of the way throughout his final speech.
    • Roger Federer has an even more established reputation as a cool and unflappable maestro who never lets a strand of his hair get out of place on court, but he occasionally does things like breaking down in tears after losing the 2009 Australian Open final and yelling at the French Open crowd to "Shut up!" while on the brink of getting eliminated by del Potro that remind you that he's just as human as the next player.
  • ABC News anchor Peter Jennings was known to be as charismatic as possible without losing his journalistic cool. He'd been in the business since the mid-1960s so he knew to be a consummate pro. But when he told his viewing audience about his cancer diagnosis (of a cancer that would eventually take his life in 2005) and needed to retire, you could hear his voice cracking and see that his eyes were full of sadness.
  • The head of the stoic school, Chrysippus, was an example: He died in a fit of uncontrollable laughter.
  • MMA fighter Ronda Rousey is always extremely cold and composed in the lead-up to her matches, complete with death glares. Once she has won, she instantly becomes much more relaxed and shows more personality. How she would react if she lost is unclear as of yet.
    • As of her November 15, 2015 loss to Holly Holm, we now know that she reacts poorly. Rousey has yet to return to competition.
  • This essay about sarcasm. Who wrote it? That Other Wiki.
  • Real-world British Royal Guards have a reputation, not helped at all by their depictions in pop culture, of being completely stoic and standing like statues, regardless of whatever is going on around or to them. In truth, however, they take their jobs as protectors of Buckingham Palace and the royal family very seriously: trying to pester them will result in them Suddenly Shouting warnings to stop immediately, as well as drawing their rifles (which are loaded with live ammo).
  • Elizabeth II was known to be quite stoic in public, but then again loads of people have seen her smiling. Usually when someone says something funny to her, she cracked a smile, and may even laugh.
  • US President Richard Nixon has a reputation not only as a Sleazy Politician but also as a stony-faced guy. Whatever else you may say about him, he also adored his wife Pat, and when she died in 1993, he broke down completely at her funeral. The people next to him were surprised to see him sobbing openly, profusely, and at times uncontrollably during the ceremony.


Video Example(s):


Frieren Cries

At first Frieren remains stoic during Himmel's funeral since she did not consider him that important to her, but as the funeral proceeds and she reminisces about their time together her composure breaks and she starts crying over her fallen friend and how she missed the chance to get to know him better.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / HumanizingTears

Media sources: