Since Men Don't Cry, they can't very well be seen with Ocular Gushers or, worse, Inelegant Blubbering. So the macho tragic hero will often only shed a single, sparkling tear, to accent his pain while making sure he keeps his awesome machismo. Used particularly during a flashback to the tragic past.
In film and TV, the equivalent is the usually stoic hero's eyes getting watery, upon which the more emotional supporting cast will express their surprise to see a show of general empathy. The reply? "It's nothing, I've just got a little sand in my eyes."
Attempts to comfort may provoke Don't You Dare Pity Me!.
Something of a Discredited Trope — nowadays it's just as likely to be used to evoke pity for the character's inability to express his emotions honestly as it is to portray them as strong and stoic. That's assuming it's not being outright mocked.
Contrast: Manly Tears, which is admitted; Past Experience Nightmare, where the hero really can keep it buttoned up ... while awake; Tender Tears of exquisite sensibility; Single Tear, Inelegant Blubbering. Compare Trying Not to Cry, Onion Tears, which may also be used as an excuse. The literal case of this trope is often preceded by A Handful for an Eye. If anyone with two or more functioning brain cells would be able to see that it isn't sand, it overlaps with Obviously Not Fine.
Not related at all to a certain Charles Atlas advertisement.
- One Geico commercial has the gecko standing on the beach conversing with a crab, closing with his protest, "I'm not crying. I just have a bit of sand in my eyes, that's all."
- In Terra Formars a funny and heartwarming example occurs in chapter nine of the manga. Alex and Marcos are in tears after learning of Akari's past. Akari, moved to tears himself, comments that they are good guys for crying so much. Both Alex and Marcos insist they aren't crying and that it's only the spices from the hotpot they are eating.
- Fullmetal Alchemist:
- In Episode 16 of Fullmetal Alchemist (which adapts chapter 26), Roy Mustang stands over Maes Hughes' grave, looks up at a clear blue sky and wonders aloud when the rain will stop.
- The Brotherhood version is even worse. This example has a character-specific double meaning. Mustang is skilled in flame alchemy but it requires him and his target to be dry, so his powers don't work in the rain. He's not just trying to come up with an excuse for his tears, he's saying he feels useless.
- Yui from The Beautiful Skies of Houou High.
Kei: Yui... Are you crying—
Yui: I'm not crying!
- Pokémon: The Series:
- Mewtwo, during the Tear Jerker scene in Mewtwo Strikes Back by Tracey West, a novelization of Pokémon: The First Movie (not in the movie itself).
- Ash used to use this excuse in early seasons, though he's since learned that men can cry. He typically lowers his head, or tries to, but he's obviously crying.
- Brock starts tearing up after he, Ash, and Misty part ways in "Gotta Catch Ya Later!" He blames onion in his rice ball.
- When Asuma dies it's truly pouring cats and dogs. Yet Shikamaru gives himself away by stressing that smoke is stinging his eyes.
- Also, when Sasuke has seemingly died at the hands of Deidara, Itachi may or may not be crying for him. We can't be sure, because it's raining pretty hard.
- Sakura does this in a volume 8 flashback.
- Obito Uchiha tries the same line.
Minato: Dust can't get in your eyes when you're wearing goggles, Obito.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, as Joey is about to be disqualified from the Duelist Kingdom semifinals for not having a Glory of the King's Hand card, he is on the ground crying in despair over not being able to save his sister's eyesight. Mai approaches him, telling him to stop crying, and he claims to have a nosebleed. She then gives him her Glory of the King's Hand card, wrapped in a tissue, which Joey notices is damp—implying she cried after losing to Yugi, despite seeming composed as she walked out.
- Variation in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, where the Weapon of Mass Destruction who claims to have no emotions says that the tears in her eyes are not hers, but are coming from the person she absorbed. Nanoha and Fate call bullshit.
- Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
- After Yue admits her feelings for Negi and has a minor Heroic BSoD, she uses this excuse to keep Negi from paying too much attention. He's only ten, so he falls for it.
- Also, after Kotarou speaks about his rather tragic past, Konoka says that there's some dust in her eyes while clearly bawling.
- One aversion worthy of mention is Mihoko Fukuji from Saki, who has her right eye always shut, but when she cries, tears come out from both eyes.
- In Bunny Drop, when Rin hits her caretaker Daikichi with the proclamation "I like you just being my Daikichi.", Daikichi is moved to tears, but insists it's only sweat. Also an Ironic Echo, as sweat was Rin's excuse when she wet the bed.
- One Piece:
- Franky easily cries the most of the crew, getting emotional at just about any touching story he hears (which is how he ended up helping the strawhats, who used to be enemies in the first place). He NEVER admits it though, saying anything from "THERE'S DUST IN MY EYE!" to "I'M NOT CRYING YOU BASTARDS, I KNEW YOU'D SURVIVE!" there's no single manly tear either, try geysers. Perhaps the most original version was after where Robin attempted to convince him to join the crew with a laser guided Groin Attack. Franky pretends that she is continuing with her ball-crushing grip long after she's actually let up, so that he can cry without shame about leaving his hometown, brother-figure, and nakama.
- When Nami is captured at Weatheria and put in jail for trying to steal meteorological equipment, she reads about Ace's death in the newspaper and breaks down crying, causing her captors to freak out and release her. She quickly reveals that it was just an act, and she makes off with the equipment she stole, along with one of the meteorologists, who notes that she still hasn't stopped crying.
- Ranma ½: Ranma Saotome once used a variation of this excuse after Akane implied that he was crying over her getting hurt.
Ranma: Uh, th- that's just sweat or somethin'. Hmph.
- In Lucky Star, the manga, Kuroi-sensei and Sakuraba-sensei get Something In Their Eyes after that year's students have graduated and had that final time in class afterward. (Kuroi's was likely exacerbated by Miyuki's little speech at the end.) The strip is called "warning of flying dust".
- In Rurouni Kenshin, after Soujiro kills his abusive relatives, he deliberately tilts his head into the rain so that raindrops hide his tears. Realizing this triggers a Villainous Breakdown.
- Akira from Ai Ore! Love Me! uses the "flower pollen" excuse when his girlfriend catches him crying, after he thinks she's cheating on him with another girl.
- In chapter 1 of the Kotoura-san manga, Haruka cried after Manabe mentioned "people who want to leave are going to leave." When Manabe asked, she denied crying and claimed of Onion Tears. Manabe of course lampshaded about how fake it is. The eyecatch that follows have Haruka mentioned she actually keeps onions at home to make up excuses like this!
- Bleach Meta example: in a fair amount of Grey Rain of Depression, Training from Hell and Curb-Stomp Battle scenes in both the Manga and especially the anime it's hard to distinguish between sweat, rain and tears. Although from track coming directly from the eyes or for example in Uryuu's case when talking about his grandfather the voice acting tend to imply a mix of sources.
- Blue Beetle's Big Guy pal Paco pulls this in issue #7.
- In the Donald Duck story "W.H.A.D.A.L.O.T.T.A.J.A.R.G.O.N", written by Don Rosa, Donald saves his nephews in a plywood mill, and they later give him an award. He tears up, and claims he still got sawdust in his eyes from the mill. One of his nephews points out that it was months before.
- Used again in anotther Don Rosa story, taking Donald through an It's a Wonderful Plot tale connected to his 60th anniversary. When the nephews (again) tell him how he has enriched their lives, Donald turns away, claiming to have "something in his eye".
- In the last issue of the High Society arc in Cerebus the Aardvark, Cerebus has lost his position as Prime Minister and all his plans have fallen through. He wells up, but vehemently denies crying until he collapses in the Regency Elf's arms.
- In the final issue of the Spider-Man & Fantastic Four miniseries, when the Four reiterate that Spidey is part of their family, he claims to have some web in his eye.
- In The Avengers #216, when Tigra leaves the team:
Tigra: Jarv, you sexy, old hound dog, are you crying?
Jarvis: A good butler never cries while on duty, madame! -sniff- It must be my allergy to felines making my eyes tear!
- In the one-shot comic X-Men Origins: Deadpool, a screenwriter visits the eponymous mercenary's apartment because he thinks his story would make for a great film. When Deadpool finishes telling the screenwriter about his childhood, which involves a Disappeared Dad and an alcoholic mother, he takes a moment to lift up his mask and wipe his eyes because "the air conditioning is crap in here."
- Inverted in a Garfield strip, when Garfield and Jon watch the sunset together:
Jon: You have something in your eye?
Garfield: Yes, a little speck of sentiment.
- Turnabout Storm has Rainbow breaking in tears after Fluttershy's speech on why she helped her even after all the horrible things Rainbow had told her in the morning.
Fluttershy: There, there; it's okay Rainbow Dash. There's no need to cry.
Rainbow: I'm not crying! I-It's just my... *Sob* alergieeees!
- On the fan-run Ask Midorima Tumblr blog, someone asks if Midorima was crying after he lost to Seirin. He replies defensively that it was raining — which it was, but his reply was so very defensive that it seemed to be a case of Suspiciously Specific Denial.
- Luffy gets emotionally affected pretty easily in Sol Invictus, more so than in canon. She also doesn't want to admit it when it happens.
- The Bridge: Monster X sheds tears when Aria Blaze, whom he had fallen in love with, seemingly dies. When she revives, he blames his tears on the pain of his injuries.
- After Luluka visits Milly's grave in Nil Desperandum, C.C. apologizes for her having to visit on such a rainy day (despite them being in Pendragon which is in the middle of Arizona).
- When Grayclaw cries in front of (or, more specifically, "because of") his daughter in Apprentice and Pregnant, he tries to pass it off as allergies.
- It's mentioned that Obito later explains his crying over Kakashi's injuries in The Wound's Still Bleeding as being due to something in his eye.
- In Interpretive Steps for a New Tango, when Pablo thinks that his ex-boyfriend Bruno has moved on from him, he tries to convince himself that the stinging in his eyes is just dust getting into them.
- Brother Bear 2: Tuke manages to win the hearts of two female moose named Anda and Kata, leaving Rutt heartbroken. At the part with Tuke and the female moose watching the auroras, this exchange occurs:
Anda: Are you crying?
Rutt: No, I mean, well, yeah, so what, eh? The light's so beautiful, eh?
- Played with in Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. After Peaches is born Diego is pushing away a tear. When called on it, he first invokes the trope. "No, no, that last dino caught my eye with a claw and..." and then subverts it "Alright, so I'm not made of stone." Later, Crash and Eddie repeat the trope.
Crash: I Promised Myself I Wouldn't Cry.
Eddie: I didn't. [turns on the waterworks]
- In The Lion King 1½, cinema!Timon says a variation of this after watching the scene where movie!Timon and movie!Pumbaa stare at each other in a Tear Jerker (perhaps) scene. It was obvious that cinema!Timon was bursting into tears.
- In Atlantis: The Lost Empire, after Kida takes Milo to a high place to overlook the whole of Atlantis, Milo sheds a few tears of joy and when Kida asked what's wrong, he just said he had something in his eye.
- In The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, SpongeBob notices Plankton tearing up after having to shut down Karen to build the time machine.
SpongeBob: Plankton, are you crying?
Plankton: No, no, no, that's the price of having a giant eyeball. Stuff always gets in there.
- In Treasure Planet, Silver starts to tear up while hugging Jim goodbye. He claims he has "grease" in his eye.
- In Bubbles's interview of The Powerpuff Girls Movie, she claims that she doesn't ever crynote and that she "just gets something in her eye".
Narrator: In fact, a newspaper called you and your sisters "bug-eyed freaks".
Female News Reporter: They are little freaks, aren't they?
Bubbles: Why would they do that? [wells up a little] That's really, really mean! [sniffles, covers up face with hands] Oh, I seem to be getting something in my eye again.
- Hal Holbrook's Oscar-nominated supporting role in Into the Wild culminates in one of these.
- Eden from Doomsday is normally stoic, almost to the point of Dull Surprise, but when she cries, it's only from one eye. Justified in that her right eye was damaged when she was a child (possibly damaging the tear duct) and she got a new one.
- In Street Fighter, Cammie is teary-eyed after Guile was presumed dead... until Guile shows up. She then claims that she accidentally got hit by stray tear gas while retreating.
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day. John Conner is talking to the Terminator about his mother Sarah Conner and his father Kyle Reese.
John: Mom and him were only together for one night. She still loves him, I guess. I see her crying sometimes. She denies it totally, of course, like she got something stuck in her eye.
- When The Passion of the Christ was going around, The Guardian ran a humor article with useful phrases for the movie (in Aramaic, of course!). One of them was "I'm not crying; I've just got a mote in my eye."
- Played for Laughs in the 1994 remake of Angels in the Outfield. One of the ball players pokes fun at Coach Knox for shedding a tear during the playing of the "Star Spangled Banner" before a game, but Knox shrugs it off as sunscreen getting in his eye.
- In Life, when the story of Ray and Claude's life and death is finished, one of the young inmates notices the other is crying. He replies that he must be allergic to something.
- In the film adaptation of The Babysitters Club, Kristy protests to her mother that she's not crying - she's got allergies.
- A variation in Blade Runner: After the Battle in the Rain, the antagonist gives a final speech about all the wonders he has seen in the course of his brief life, concluding that all these things will be lost "like tears in the rain." It's left ambiguous as to whether he himself is crying, which works very well with the themes of the film.
- In Death Becomes Her, this is Helen's excuse for crying at Ernest's funeral at the end.
- In Oz the Great and Powerful, when Oz sneaks up to show Finley that he's Faking the Dead, Finley blames his tears on the smoke.
- In The Sicilian, the boss of all bosses for The Mafia in Sicily, Don Masino Croce, is being taken to a meeting with famous bandit Salvatore Guiliano. As they drive to the meeting place, Guiliano's men are lining the road, cheering this "man of honor". Don Malo cites the dusty road as the reason he has to take off his glasses and wipe his eyes.
- Bronco Billy has Rich Bitch Antoinette, tears streaming down her face, insisting she's not crying. The smoke-filled bar is irritating her eyes.
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), as the Turtles are falling to their apparent doom, Raphael gives a heartfelt confession only to be stopped by Donny informing him they've landed safely. Then the following takes place:
Michelangelo: Raph, are you crying?
Raphael: Nah ding-dong... [sniffles] It's just a little dusty out here.
- Following the Rule of Three in Annie:
- Stacks gets teary-eyed but doesn't mention it.
- When he shows Annie where he grew up in Queens, he plays it off as pollen or dust.
- When he's about to lose Annie to her "real parents", she asks him if it's dusty and he says it's not. He then admits on TV that he's actually crying.
- In The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, Gazoo uses a variant of this trope during Fred and Wilma's wedding:
Barney: Gazoo, are you crying?
Gazoo: No, no, no, of course not, dum-dum. No, I...I'm simply overcome with...information. You see, I finally understand your complex mating rituals. All the emotions, all this...love. And I've come to the conclusion that...I'll never meet anybody!
- At the end of The Barrakee Mystery, the first Bony novel, a rough-and-tumble bushman is unexpectedly done a good turn; he wipes an arm across his eye, which the narration attributes to a speck of dust in his eye. He then quickly leaves, feeling more specks of dust coming on.
- Murder on the Orient Express. Hercule Poirot leads a certain character onto a certain line of conversation; the character in question suddenly complains that something outside the window is dazzling his eyes. His reaction proves to be a clue.
- The first sign of Ebenezer Scrooge's impending HeelFace Turn in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is a Single Tear on his cheek as he sees a vision of his childhood. When the Ghost of Christmas Past calls him on it, he claims it is a pimple - a moment that manages to be funny and poignant at the same time.
- Mrs. Cratchit also has a moment, during the alternate future that The Ghost of Christmas Future shows to Scrooge. In it, Mrs. Cratchit, busy with some sewing, hears her older son reading the line, And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them. It causes her to think of Tiny Tim and she begins to cry in front of her children, but she's able to stop herself and tells them that she wasn't crying, claiming; "The colour [of the fabric] hurts my eyes."
- Lewis Carroll in Sylvie and Bruno: "I felt very happy too, but of course I didn't cry: 'big things' never do, you know, we leave all that to the Fairies. Only I think it must have been raining a little just then, for I found a drop or two on my cheeks."
- Dangerous Liaisons: The "It's beyond my control" scene when the Viscount dumps his woman, so the Marquise can't get to her.
- The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy pulls this one in The Movie, claiming to her mother that "I've got allergies!"
- After Porthos's death in the final chapters of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Aramis spends the night leaning against the bulwarks of the ship he's on. The next morning, his servant comments that it must have been a humid night since the wood he's been leaning his head on is damp. "What epitaph would have been worth that?"
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts story "In Remembrance", Larkin cries as they go through a war-torn city and believe their commander may be dying; Feygor jeers at him for his weakness, and he says, "It's... it's something in my eye." (That does not put off Feygor, but the other troopers with them support Larkin.)
- Also from that series, Only In Death: Hark writes that he thought he saw Rawne tear up when he learned Gaunt was alive. Hark attributed it to the dust.
- Straight Silver: after a conversation with Kolea in which Criid briefly thinks that his comments show that he has some memory after his head injury, and then learns that she had misinterpreted something he said, another Ghost asks if she's all right. She tells him, "Grit in my eyes."
- In His Last Command, after a futile attempt to blow up a Chaos warp gate, Brostin insists on carrying the "wounded" Feygor back. Gaunt succeeds in persuading him that Feygor is dead.
Brostin gently laid Feygor's body on the wet grass. Rain streamed off his beard like tears.
- In The Warmaster, after Gaunt gets promoted, Mkoll insists on "allergies" as the reason to why he's crying.
- In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, after Dumbledore told Harry about his mother's death:
Dumbledore now became very interested in a bird out on the window-sill, which gave Harry time to dry his eyes on the sheet.
- Then, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when Harry told Dumbledore about Scrimgeour's saying he was "Dumbledore's man through and through" and that he said it was true, Harry looked away until Dumbledore had controlled himself. Though it's Harry and not Dumbledore who's embarrassed by the tears.
- Apparently Songbreeze from Redwall has such a touching, pure voice that it makes her battle-ready father cry. And he blames it on a gnat.
- Star Wars: When Talon Kardde learns fellow smuggler captain Shada D'ukal wasn't, in fact, on her ship when it self-destructed to disable a hostile capital ship.
- In The High King, the last novel of Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain, when Fflewdur Flam sacrifices his harp for firewood, he complains of how it smokes, though it burns with very little smoke.
- Graham McNeill 's Warhammer 40,000 Ultramarines novel Dead Sky Black Sun, stripped of his captaincy and exiled from the Chapter world, Uriel washes himself after a bout, and looks in a mirror.
droplets trickled like tears down his reflection's cheek
- Both applying to this and Live Action TV, the titular character of The Story Of Tracy Beaker usually passes off any instance of her crying as "hay fever".
- Sharpe: A slight variant appears in one of the novels, in which the RSM dies of a stomach wound, telling Sharpe (who is holding his hand): "I'll not cry, sir. They'll not say they saw me cry." He's weeping with pain as he speaks.
- In Jim Butcher's Dresden Files:
- Turn Coat:
"Ana," he said, almost choking on the words. "You... you think that I... How could you think that I would...?"
He turned his face away. It couldn't have been a tear. Not from Morgan. He wouldn't shed tears if he had to execute his own mother.
But for a fraction of a second, something shone on one of his cheeks.
- Small Favor: when Charity insists that he stay with them at the hospital until they have news of Michael, Harry's vision blurs.
- Turn Coat:
- In David Drake's Patriots, the Woodsrunners go to punish a magistrate appointed by their enemies. When the Woodsrunners start a fire, meaning to burn the fellow's home and all his possessions, he insists that the tears on his face are from the smoke. After a minute or two, their leader puts out the fire, giving the magistrate a reprieve, and explains later that "There ain't so many brave men that I want to chase one off Greenwood unless I have to."
- In the children's book Harry Cats Pet Puppy, once Harry and Tucker finally find a home for Huppy and he moves out of the drainpipe, Tucker confesses to wiping "a little leftover rain" from his eye. Harry comments that "We've been home an hour."
- The none too serious history book 1066 And All That mentions that Cardinal Wolsey fell from grace since he "although (as is well known) he had not thought to shed a tear about all this, did ultimately shed a memorable one."
- Flowers for Algernon combines this with Innocent Inaccurate; the mentally disabled Charlie, who's being used as an experimental subject, writes in one of his progress reports about going out drinking with some "friends" of his from the factory where he works. It's very clear to Miss Kinnian, his teacher, that these "friends" are actually just taking him with them so that they can make fun of him, and when he tells her that they've never been anything but good to him, "she got something in her eye and she had to run out to the ladys room."
- In the new Marvel prose Rocket And Groot Steal The Galaxy, Rocket tears up when their new robot friend (172) is leaving. It's not described outright, but alluded to in the dialogue.
"Are you sad, Rocket Raccoon?
"Nah, nah. Just got some dust in my eyes."
- Invoked by Elizabeth in Miracle Creek. When five-year-old Henry cries because it's so hot and stuffy in the $10,000 portable sauna she's using to sweat out toxins, she tells him, "Wow, you're sweating so much, it's even getting in your eyes!"
- Parodied to hell and back in the Flight of the Conchords song "I'm Not Crying" - "I'm not upset because you've left me this way, my eyes are just a little sweaty today", "It's just raining / on my face", "I've just been cutting onions / I'm making a lasagna / for one"...
- Stephen Colbert, insisting during the 2008 Writers' Strike that he's fine doing the show by himself and doesn't need his writers anyway:
[tearing up] I'm fine. I have something in my eye, that's all. [sobs] ...I have something in my other eye. [sobbing] I have something in my heart...
- Also used (in a more adlib fashion) during the infamous Filliam H. Muffman clip, when Colbert couldn't stop laughing.
- And Stephen was not crying during the 2009 inauguration special. It was just allergies. Really.
- On the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys episode "The Other Side", Hercules goes to the Elysian Fields and reunites with his lost family. His daughter asks him if he's crying. He tells her that Daddy isn't crying, the wind just blew something in his eye and then hugs her like he'll never let her go.
- A rare female example, from Star Trek: Voyager: when it is pointed out that Seven is crying after most of the Borg children leave, she claims that her ocular implant is malfunctioning. Subverted when the Doctor finds that it really was a malfunction. Inverted at the end when Icheb informs her that her implant is malfunctioning again, and the Doctor point out that it's working perfectly.
- In the That '70s Show episode "Jackie Moves On", Kelso denies that he cried after Jackie broke up with him:
Kelso: I did not cry! I had something in my eye.
Hyde: For a week?
Kelso: I have allergies, allright? (beat) Is it so wrong to feel?!
- In one episode of The Red Green Show, School Demo, the gang demolishes their old school. Initially they are thrilled, but when Harold causes them to reminisce about their past, the men become emotional and many spend the rest of the episode crying uncontrollably. At the end of the episode, Red tries to explain away their crying by saying the dust from the demolition made them all teary-eyed, and that next time they should practice proper safety and wear goggles. The rest of the men immediately agree. Though it doesn't last as Dalton notices that the pair of goggles Red takes out to show everyone resembles his late father's old pair and starts bawling again, followed by the rest of the men (except a frustrated Red).
- After a poignant scene in Castle between him and his daughter, who he just dropped off for the first day of college:
Martha: Darling, are you crying?
Castle: No, it's allergies... I've... pollen count is high.
Martha: Pollen count's gotten me too.
[they hug each other, and are both obviously crying]
- The Office (US):
Darryl: Stop crying.
Andy: I'm not crying. I'm sweating.
- In Downton Abbey S2, at the deathbed wedding of servants William and Daisy, the aristocratic stiff-upper-lipped Dowager Countess can't help sniffling.
Violet: I have a cold.
- At the ending of an episode of The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, Adams, upon seeing his friend Mad Jack tearing up after they'd said an emotional goodbye to someone they helped throughout the episode, has the following exchange:
Adams: Got something in your eyes?
Mad Jack: Oh, it's nothing. Just some smoke from the campfire.
Adams: Must've been a pretty strong campfire.
Mad Jack: Why do you say that?
Adams: It's been out for a day.
- In Wizards of Waverly Place, Justin's "allergies" start acting up when he gets sad.
- Invoked in the It's a Wonderful Plot episode of Mork & Mindy. In the alternate reality where they have never met, Mindy's marriage to someone else has just blown up. She and her father are about to take a walk together when her father looks up at the sky and says, "Oh, what a shame. It's starting to rain." Mindy replies that she would rather walk in the rain anyway, because "then nobody knows you're crying."
- Toward the end of the classic Doctor Who arc, "The Dalek Invasion of Earth", as she says goodbye to David, with whom she had fallen in love, Susan explains the tears in her eyes by saying, "I lost my shoe," before falling into his arms and confessing her love for him. The Doctor, seeing this, chooses to leave Susan behind to be with David. In the Series 9 Christmas episode, the Husbands of River Song, River notices the Doctor crying because he knows that this is the last time he will see her. He tells her that it's 'just the wind.'
- Inverted in Man v. Food when Adam tries pasta made with three ghost peppers and blames his crying on having watched Lassie before the show.
- Barney & Friends: BJ uses this excuse in the episode "Sharing", when Riff accidentally breaks his bicycle.
Barney: Are you OK, BJ?
BJ: [tearing up] Yeah sure. I just think I got something my eye. I think I better check it out... [walks off]
- Legends of Tomorrow:
- In the episode "Phone Home", the heroes watch as they see a baby alien reunite with its mother and they both teleport back to their ship. Nate starts crying, but says that he just has some "alien goo" in his eyes. Sarah also says the same thing.
- In the finale of the Crisis on Earth-X crossover, everyone attends Martin Stein's funeral. After Jax finishes delivering his speech, there's this:
Earth-X Snart: [sees Mick wiping his tears] That's it, big guy, let it out.
Mick: Allergies. [walks away angry]
- A variant occurs in the 7 Yüz episode "Prosedür", in which Banu claims she is crying due to her painfully tight shoes, and not because of İrem's suggestive dancing with Rıdvan.
- The InBESTigators:
- In "The Case of the Sad Little Sister:, Ezra claims his sniffles were due to dust in the shelter shed, not from being upset because his little sister was being bullied.
- In "The Spoiled Sports Day", Kyle claims his crying is the result of an allergy to books, and not losing the 100 m. race.
- "Crying In the Rain," originally done by The Everly Brothers, has the subject stating that he intends to hide his tears by only crying when it is raining.
- In "Raindrops" by Dee Clark, the male subject is claiming it must be raindrops falling from his eyes. "No, it can't be teardrops, for a man ain't supposed to cry."
- Similarly inverted with "You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry" by The Caravelles, a British female duo who preceded The Beatles onto the U.S. charts by a few weeks: "These aren't raindrops in my eyes, why should I lie?/You don't have to be a baby to cry."
- "I Wish It Would Rain" by The Temptations has the singer wanting to cry, and frustrated by the beautiful blue sky that won't give him the desired cover up.
- Jeff Foxworthy ends his "Redneck Twelve Days of Christmas" with this spoken exchange:
"Are you crying?"
"Naw, it's just my allergies."
- The line "It was much more my style to get sand kicked in my eye" from Lloyd Cole's "Speedboat" obiously refers to the Charles Atlas ad, not this trope. (Just for completeness.)
- "You'll Miss Me" by They Might Be Giants, a song told from the perspective of a man whose love interest has left him, but he insists she'll regret it, ends with these lines:
t must be raining 'cause a man ain't supposed to cry
But I look up and I don't see a cloud
- On the first ECW "One Night Stand", Paul Heyman standing in the ring as the fans chant "Thank You Paul". He insisted that his eyes were red and watery because he'd been sharing a blunt with Rob Van Dam, not because he was crying. Yes, wrestling is scripted, but not everything is. This was not.
- Sesame Street: Elmo uses this excuse in episode #4424, upon getting emotional during the "wedding" of Rocco, Zoe's pet rock.
Zoe: Elmo, are you crying?
Elmo: [choked up] No! Elmo just has something in his eye.
- In Adventures in Odyssey, Eugene's later conversion was foreshadowed when he begins to cry at a Nativity scene shown to him in the Imagination Station. However, when Connie asks him if he's crying, he responds that he has hay fever and the stable "aggravated [his] sinuses".
- In the Old Harry's Game episode "A Four Letter Word", Satan arranges for a Casablanca remake to be screened for the demons, with the intent that their reaction will humiliate the screenwriter. To his horror, they start to find it moving.
Satan: Right, that's it. I can hear a demon blubbing. Is it you?
Demon: No, no, I've just got dust in me eyes.
- In the Cabin Pressure episode "Boston", the asshole passenger Mr. Leeman makes Martin cry when he calls him a "flying cabbie" (as opposed to someone with a real job at a real airline). Martin insists the smoke from Leeman's cigarettes got in his eyes. Douglas, not fooled, sings 'Smoke Gets In Your Eyes' at him.
- This trope is Older Than They Think: the 3rd century AD Sanskrit play "Swapnavasavadatta" by Bhasa includes a scene where a king is reminded of his dead wife and starts crying - only to be interrupted by his new wife (who he has married for political reasons), so that he has to pretend that he was having an allergic reaction to pollen grains.
- The "Literal Lyrics" version of the infamous trailer for Dead Island invokes the Trope.
I'm not cry-ing, there's some-thing in both my ... eyes.
- In Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening, Dante sheds a tear for his lost brother Vergil.
- In the second part of Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, Levin literally says there's just sand in his eyes when he cries onces. Specifically, if he's paired with Tiltyu in the first part and their daughter Tinny tells him about Tiltyu's sad end.
- Inverted in the good ending of Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, where Laharl sheds a tear for Angel-turned-flower Flonne, and says out loud: "What is this...? A tear...? ... Hmph. I never knew I could shed tears."
- Played straight by Seraphina and Red Magnus in Disgaea 5, who both lie about their crying (Seraphina attempting to stifle a bored yawn; Red Magnus sweating from his heart) when Killia deciphers the ingredients to the Toto Bunny Special Sweet Curry, as derived by Usalia's parents before their untimely deaths. Zeroken breaks down and admits to crying after hearing their "excuses".
- At the ending of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Nathan Drake claims that the tears he shed when he thought Elena was dead were just the rain.
Nathan: It was raining and you were unconscious.
Elena: It was sunny, and you were bawling. Whatever, I kept your tears in a jar. I have proof.
- Sheila (Yang's wife) in Final Fantasy IV claims she has something in her eye when Cecil tells her that Yang is alive in the care of the Sylphs. She then give you a frying pan with which to wake him up.
- Played for laughs in The Curse of Monkey Island, in the scene where Guybrush discusses with the Voodoo priestess the way to lift the curse put on Elaine. The priestess mentions he has to replace the ring with a pure one found on an island, for which she recites the values of that ring:
Voodoo Lady: The value of the ring on Blood Island comes from its emotional significance. It represents a pure, true love, a power greater than any other.
Guybrush: Oh, that's sweet. I... I think I have something in my eye.
Voodoo Lady: [points at him in a strict manner] Do not mock the voodoo priestess.
- Maha of MapleStory makes this claim once, only for him it's a little more egregious than usual- he's a polearm and doesn't have eyes to begin with- since nobody but the protagonist can see his ghostly human form, presumably it's not tangible...
- Subverted in comic fashion in Undertale's True Pacifist ending:
Papyrus: I didn't cry!!! I don't cry!! I just... caught something in my eye.
Sans: What did you catch?
- In Megan Kearney's Beauty and the Beast, Beauty's prickly sister Temperance chops onions to hide her tears as she says goodbye to Beauty after the latter decides to go back to the Beast after her Love Epiphany. At Beauty's wedding in the epilogue, however, she cries openly.
- Ménage à 3: In a distaff example, at one point, Peggy is in a relationship with Gary that she is determined to keep casual. However, in the borderline-NSFW August 7, 2018 strip, he has said something sweetly affectionate, and she finds herself unexpectedly touched, and has to insist that she has something in her eye.
- This Order of the Stick strip. For the readers too. The line itself is subverted in the next frame, as Belkar gets the "something" out of the hobgoblin's eye. With a dagger.
- Nedroid's Reginald is just allergic... to being sad.
- When Davan plays a Jim Henson memorial song to Jason to prove a point, after Jason made fun of a workmate who played sad songs and cried over them, Davan himself ends up with "some backfired plan in my eye".
- Similarly, Choo-Choo gets "a bit of forgotten childhood" stuck in his eyes during a Q&A session.
- In Sinfest, Monique asks Slick to take off his ever-present sunglasses as a sign that he's serious about his love for her. He can't bring himself to do it...until long after she's already walked off, leading to a "got something in my eye" comment in the last panel.
- In The Specialists, Max has allergies, after his father dropped him off with an apology for not being supportive and telling him to go on his own, to make his colleagues respect him as a man.
- Angus from Questionable Content insists that his Tender Tears are due to allergies.
- In No Rest for the Wicked, when the Beast is complaining about people coming and making a mess because they can come and go as they please, he says he got some dust in his eye.
- Onni from Stand Still, Stay Silent cries much more easily than he likes to admit. If someone notices his red eyes or sniffling, he tends to claim that he's allergic to the first thing that pops into his mind. He has been so far seen claiming an allergy to travel and an allergy to Sweden (he's Finnish).
- Sluggy Freelance: In chapter 62, after hearing about how his actions may have caused The End of the World as We Know It, Torg runs outside and then claims that a) he had something in his eye, b) he ran off to the bathroom to clean his eye, and c) he couldn't tell that "outside" wasn't "bathroom" because he had something in his eye. In the next comic, Riff holds a log and says —
Riff: Wow, you really did have something in your eye!
Torg: I told you!
Torg: Very funny. What's with the log?
Riff: Prop-humor. Nevermind.
- Whateley Universe: In "Ayla and the Birthday Brawl", when Ayla's efforts fail to get his body fixed back to normal, he doesn't cry. No, it's something in the air conditioning ducts.
- It's common for commenters on Not Always Right and its sister sites to comment on heartwarming or tearjerking stories with some variation of "Dang ninjas cutting onions!"
- Tobuscus' "Literal Dead Island Trailer" has him tearfully singing I'm not crying, there's something in both my eyes...
- Arthur: In "Sick as a Dog," Arthur says "I must be allergic to something" to hide his tears when he has to leave the sick Pal at the animal hospital overnight.
- In The Amazing World of Gumball, the titular character claims that he had sweaty eyes to his crush, before realizing that it sounds gross and confessing he was crying.
- The Simpsons:
- Mocked when Moe is touched by Marge's gift of a homemade sweater.
Moe: I've got something in my eye. [digs something from his eye] Oh, it's just a piece of glass.
- He says the same thing in "Like Father, Like Clown" (although it really is tears this time).
- Played With after the two aliens Kang and Kodos watched Maggie's Tastes Like Diabetes scenes. It turns out they really are vomiting.
"These aren't tears! We're vomiting through our eyes!"
- Mr. Burns says this to Smithers while they're at the theatre.
- Mocked when Moe is touched by Marge's gift of a homemade sweater.
- Monster Allergy: "I'm not crying! My eyes are sweating!"
- Nicely subverted in the Justice League animated series. After thinking Superman had been killed, the members of the League are understandably pleased to see him alive and well.
Superman: I'm fine. Very glad to be home. ...Flash?
Flash: [sniff] Something in my eyes.
Green Lantern: Yeah, tears. It's OK, man. We all feel the same way.
- Fozzie on Muppet Babies (1984) actually cries pretty hard when he tries to give up comedy, but that doesn't stop him from saying, "Sorry, joke — er, smoke got in my eye."
- Played with at the end of one Men in Black animated series episode, as K's implied love interest takes off in her ship, leaving Earth for an unknown length of time. K (who'd mentioned the fuel fumes from the spaceships earlier) makes a point of putting on his shades.
J: [solemnly regards K for a moment] Fuel fumes really sting the eyes, huh?
K: Yeah. [J puts a hand on his shoulder]
- Phineas and Ferb:
- Interestingly inverted in one episode. Buford has lost his pet goldfish, the one he won as a young boy, and is understandably devastated. But, being the neighborhood bully, he has a reputation to uphold. When one of the characters asks "Are you crying?" Buford replies, "No, I'm just sweating through my eyes!". Later, Isabella asks "Buford...are you sweating through your eyes?", he replies "No, I'm crying!" but that may be because he's being contrary.
- Played straight with a Continuity Nod in The Movie, when Major Monogram tears up at an emotional scene and uses the same excuse to Carl.
- In another episode, Buford cries, admiring the invention of the day. Baljeet asks if he is crying. Buford answers "No, you're crying!" and then puts his own tear on Baljeet's eye.
- King of the Hill:
- "Chasing Bobby" has Hank crying in an emotional scene in a movie, which alarms Peggy because he knows his long time truck is dying. Hank denies it by saying he has something in his eye. Peggy wants him to admit it and even takes him to an eye doctor. Later, him and Bobby find a convenient excuse for their crying from the "new-car smell".
- Another time Peggy declares, "I have something in my eye, but I am also crying."
- Kim Possible:
- In the half-episode "Roachie", Kim tears up after Ron has to let go of Roachie (a dog-sized cockroach). When Rufus notices it, she complains that the wind's coming off miles of garbage, where Roachie is let go.
- In "A Sitch in Time", when it seems that Team Possible is breaking up for good, Ron says he has something in his eyes and signals his departure.
- In Care Bears to the Rescue Movie, even Grumpy, who spent the whole episode complaining, is moved by Cheer and her new pet's goodbye. When the others notice this, he just says, "What? I have allergies."
- In Jimmy Two-Shoes, when a bird is reunited with his mother, Jimmy and Beezy cry... and so does Heloise. When they comment on this, she claims she has a feather in her eye.
- Adventures of the Gummi Bears:
- Gruffi Gummi uses this trope in the episode "Gummi Dearest".
- Cubbi also uses this trope in the episode "Up, Up, and Away".
- In Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat, Fu-Fu goes through this twice in the episodes "Sagwa's Lucky Bat" and "Panda-monium".
- Shining Armor sheds "liquid pride" at his sister's coronation in the season 3 finale of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
- On Rick and Morty Rick and Morty have a falling out before they're captured by Evil Rick. Evil Rick looks through Rick's memories, and Rick starts to cry when he sees a series of images about Morty. Evil Rick mocks him for crying, and Rick snarks "No, I'm just allergic to dipshits".
- In the Beetlejuice episode "Doomie's Romance," B.J. gets emotional after the attempt to bring Mayor Maynot's pink convertible to life proves successful.
Lydia: [wiping tears from her eyes] Why, Beetlejuice... I do believe you're crying!
Beetlejuice: Nah... I just got a little sand in my eyes.
- Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness has Po claim to have "sweaty eyes".
- Happens in Top Cat when the gang adopts an abandoned baby, only to have to give him back when the mother reclaims him.
Top Cat: What's the matter? Ain't you never seen a guy with somethin' in his eye before?
Choo Choo: Sure we did, T.C., but not you.
- Similar to the above example, with the same species of animal no less, is the end of the Animaniacs cartoon "Smitten with Kittens". Rita and Runt "adopt" a litter of stray kittens, but eventually give them up to a human owner. Runt cries a big puddle of tears as he says goodbye Rita, despite having grumbled and refused to bond with the kittens through the cartoon, drops a tear into the puddle too, then remarks "It's, uh, starting to rain..." which conveniently, it is.
- Parodied in the Wander over Yonder episode "My Fair Hatey". Wander claims he has something in his eye after learning Lord Dominator seems to be inviting Lord Hater on a date, then immediately admits it's "these Tears of Joy."
- In 6teen's "Snow Job", Nikki tries a variant of this excuse when Jonesy first asks her why she's crying all alone in the ice rink.
- In Marvin the Tap-Dancing Horse, Stripes the Tiger uses this excuse in the episode, "Eddy's Fortune" when, after getting attached to a lost puppy, tears up when the latter is reunited with his owner.
Stripes: What are you looking at? It's just my allergies acting up. I must be allergic to dogs...
- In one episode of Storm Hawks, Stork starts getting all teary eyed as he and the others watch as the Corneal lets his pet go into the wild. When Junko sees him crying, he says it's allergies.
- Unikitty! One episode ends with the cast having a funeral for a chair (don't ask), and Hawkodile is seen crying. Dr. Fox then tells him to just let his tears out, which he replies with "It's not tears, it's eye sweat."
- Steven Universe: In the episode "Change your Mind", Yellow Diamond breaks down in tears after Steven makes her realize that, in her attempt to keep everything perfect, she attacked and almost poofed Blue Diamond. She tells Blue Diamond to stop using her powers on her, to which Blue quietly replies that she isn't.
- In the Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa episode "Cow Pirates of Swampy Cove", Cody points out Dakota Dude crying over Cody's assumed death. Dakota replies with the excuse that he just has swamp dust in his eyes.
- Kaeloo: In Episode 191, Olaf breaks down crying and tells everyone that it's because he has conjunctivitis.
- In the South Park episode "Kenny Dies", Cartman bursts into tears after he goes to visit Kenny in the hospital and claims this to Kyle when he notices Cartman crying.
Kyle: Cartman, were you... crying?Cartman No! No, I mean, I, I got somethin' in my eyes. It's this uh, the air in here is just- uh. (sniffles and puts on a brave face) Oh, man.
- During his presidential campaign in 1972, Democratic candidate Ed Muskie made an emotional speech, defending his wife from some unpleasant journalist smear. The press reported that he broke down and cried; he insisted that what had appeared as tears were actually melted snowflakes.
- David Tennant's last video diary for Doctor Who shows him trying to remain composed as he knows he is about to say goodbye to the show's cast and crew, though his voice keeps cracking and he can't stand still.
- The Japanese have a verb for pretending you're not crying: shinobinaku. Which literally means "ninja crying." Sounds a little more badass now, doesn't it?
- Comments left for sad videos online tend to have a running theme of "damn onions," "damn allergies", or more imaginatively, "Ninjas chopping onions nearby".