Follow TV Tropes


Tears of Remorse

Go To

"They shall look on him whom they have thrust through, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a first-born."

Perhaps you have had a Heel Realization. Perhaps you are Dying as Yourself and have just learned the enormity of your deeds. Perhaps you have learned too late that the act you sought Revenge for was fully justified. Perhaps you have failed in your one and only chance. Perhaps you were responsible for another's death; perhaps you know in your heart that you can never be forgiven for what you have just done. Now you can do nothing but cry. Maybe you are sobbing uncontrollably; maybe it's just a Single Tear — at this point you don't know or care. All you know is that the tears are going to fall and you cannot hold them back.

These are universally the sign that some spark of goodness resides in the one who sheds them. No matter how far gone they seem to be, a character who weeps for an evil act is not yet a completely evil person. This does not always mean that reform is possible (tears may be the last gasp of the conscience before plunging completely over the Moral Event Horizon, for example). But they can be the start of redemption, especially if the hero can apply The Power of Trust; or better, The Power of Love.

A Sub-Trope of My God, What Have I Done?. Common in a Villainous BSoD — though Ignored Epiphany can still ensue. A good character Fighting from the Inside may shed these, even if they have shown no previous ability to resist the control.

May be a form of Manly Tears. Tender Tears combine when they are grief-stricken by minor injuries to others. They might offer the people they hurt a sincere apology, as well.

Contrast Tears of Joy.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Assassination Classroom, after Nagisa finally assassinates Koro-sensei by landing the final stab to him, he completely breaks down in tears over having to kill the one person who helped him grow.
  • In Attack on Titan, Reiner Braun and Bertolt Hoover break down in tears on separate occasions while admitting to the terrible things they've done.
  • In Berserk, a brief glimpse of Guts with his face fallen and tears in his eyes stops him from being a Villain Protagonist, and adds a lot more depth to (and questions about) his character.
  • Code Geass: Lelouch does this after he loses control of his Hypnotic Eye and accidentally forces his beloved half-sister to commit genocide, and has to shoot her to stop the bloody rampage.
  • In Codename: Sailor V Minako cries only twice: the first because the first youma she killed happened to be the boy she was crushing on, and the other after killing the Big Bad Danburite, as he was her true love.
  • This is Played for Laughs in Daily Lives of High School Boys; when Habara frequently cries whenever her past as the Enfant Terrible-level bully "Archdemon" was brought up.
  • Digimon Adventure 02 has former Big Bad Ken Ichijoji, who cries upon realizing that he's been sadistically torturing and killing living beings as catharsis for his The Un-Favourite and Dead Big Brother complexes without realizing that they were sentient. Plus, there are the real kids whose life he's been making a misery with his actions...
  • Doraemon: Occurs in "Soap Bubbles". Noby's friends cry tears of remorse after the Soap Bubble Straw forces them to feel guilty.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Vegeta of all people does this when he self-destructs to try to kill Majin Buu. Of course, being Dragon Ball, Buu recovers quickly.
  • Lucy from Elfen Lied quite a few times, most notably from murdering her love interest Kouta's family in front of him in a jealous fit.
  • Zeref from Fairy Tail does this whenever he kills anything. It makes it a little hard to take the rest of the cast seriously when they talk about how he's pure evil. At least, until he actually resolves to kill something, in which case his eyes are giving off a much different look.
    • From the same series, Amnesiac!Jellal is absolutely broken when Erza — the only person he even slightly remembers — tells him that he was an utter bastard when last they met.
  • In Ginga Densetsu Weed, after being offered to heal their wounds in the hot spring by Gin, three of Hougen's generals (Baruge, Bat, and Kite) were so moved and touched by his kindness that they regret what they have done and cry tears of remorse, promising to never follow Hougen ever again.
    • Also happens with Teru's father...just before he dies.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry: Keiichi combines this with Tears of Fear and Berserker Tears in the first arc, and then just does this one in the sixth arc after remembering the incident that caused him to do this the first time from a slightly different point of view. And actually does it a second time in the sixth arc, when Rena, of all people, gives him a Hannibal Lecture about his Dark and Troubled Past.
    • The sixth arc is full of this, actually (hence why it's called the Atonement Chapter). Rena does this there too.
    • Towards the end of Meakashi-hen (which is right before the Atonement Chapter), Shion does this combined with Dying as Yourself, at least in the anime adaption.
  • Mikael in the final episode of I'm Gonna Be an Angel!, upon realizing what his actions have led to, broke into tears.
  • Magical Project S: Misao cries and suffers really hard when Sasami and herself discover that she is Pixy Misa.
  • At the end of the first volume of Monster, Dr. Tenma breaks down crying after Johan (whom he had saved as a child) reveals to him he murdered his boss "just as he had wished" and then casually kills another man right in front of him. The remorse in this case isn't so much for the deaths as it is for the fact that Johan is alive because of him.
  • Shizuru, after being resurrected in My-HiME. Considering her usually calm demeanor, this comes off as quite shocking.
    • Also Yukino in an earlier incident; after trying to kill Mai to save Haruka's life, she later helps Mai to find Takumi when he's being attacked by Nao and Shiho. Mai thanks Yukino, with the implication of having forgiven her, and Yukino breaks down in tears before apologizing again.
  • Naruto:
    • Itachi Uchiha cries after Sasuke pursues him after Itachi was forced to kill the clan.
    • Sasuke after his battle to the death with Itachi, only to learn his older brother had done all of those horrible crimes to protect his beloved little brother. His grief over this is what finally awakens his Mangekyo Sharingan.
    • Gaara also cried a single tear after he realized that Sasuke was never going to stop obsessing over revenge/darkness like he used to and that he was forced to fight him.
    • Sasuke then cries a single tear, after his final battle with Naruto, moved by the fact that despite everything he has done, his best friend utterly refuses to give up on helping and saving him. This is treated as the indication that he has finally repented and dropped his obsession with revenge for good.
  • Squard from One Piece does this after he betrayed Whitebeard and stabbed him in the chest. When he realizes that the Marines played him like a fiddle and that Whitebeard still considers him a "son", Squad breaks down sobbing.
  • In the XY arc of Pokémon Adventures, Shauna does this after it appears that she may have killed Viola, while brokenly asking if she really did this. While she was possessed and brainwashed at that moment, this shows that she's not under complete control.
  • Kahlua from Rosario + Vampire might as well be the codifier, as every time she weeps, it's because she's about to kill somebody, despite her truly gentle nature.
  • Ellen of Suite Pretty Cure ♪ spends a few episodes having plenty of Tears of Remorse as she comes to realize that her jealousy had caused others to be harmed.
  • Those were shed by Ayeka and Sasami's ancestor Empress Hinase in a flashback from Tenchi in Tokyo, after sealing the Dark Magical Girl Yuugi away in a dark tomb since there is no other way to stop her. When done, the Empress cries and apologizes.
  • Your Lie in April: As part of her My God, What Have I Done? realization, Kousei's mom Saki is broke into tears after hit and harshly criticizing Kousei's performance to the point his glasses crack and his head bleeding, made him wishing she's just dead already.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!'s Waking the Dragons arc's most infamous yet heartwrenching moment, Yami starts shedding them after Yugi breaks through the Seal of Orichalcos to take his place when he lost the duel to Rafael.
    Yami: It's All My Fault! Yugi, come back! (slams his fists on the ground) It should have been me, not him! It's not fair! note 

  • Alexandre Cabanel's The Fallen Angel: Lucifer's tears are as born from rage as from remorse over being responsible for having lost both his place in Heaven and God's love. He's caused his own downfall and is lamenting about it.

    Comic Books 
  • In Booster Gold, at Blue Beetle's funeral, what finally has Booster in tears is that he stood up to eulogize him, and couldn't speak. What sort of friend can't pay tribute Due to the Dead? When Wonder Woman tries to console him, Booster speaks bitterly of how he failed Blue Beetle, not having been there to help him.
  • Supergirl:
    • In an Amazons Attack tie-in issue Supergirl gets tricked into hijacking the Air Force One (long story), only later realizing it was a spectacularly bad idea. Later she cries when she apologizes to a man who is worried about his wife having been on the plane.
    • In New Krypton, Supergirl captures and takes Reactron to New Krypton so he gets trialed, unaware that Lex Luthor has turned him into a ticking bomb able to blow the planet up... which he does. In the aftermath of the destruction, Supergirl blames herself — even though she couldn't have known — and cries.
  • In the final issue of the original Harley Quinn comic, Harley encounters the little girl she promised to save from going blind, only to do so anyway when offered the reward. We see a close up of her (Harley's) eyes, and she is very clearly trying to hold back her tears.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Once Wonder Woman removes Circe's brainwashing Superman cries while apologizing for what he'd done while under it. Considering all he'd done was fight someone in his same weight class with added super quick healing abilities and cause a bit of property damage that blends right in with the damage from the greater fight going on at the time it comes across as rather out of touch. Especially as said fight is still ongoing and he could get up and help.

    Fan Works 
  • In Heirverse, Aizen cries alone when he smashes the chessboard in Ch.5 of cwst and though he doesn't actually cry after Jac attempts to rape Gin in I love, it's heavily implied that he's holding back because he doesn't want to look weak in front of Gin.
  • Evangelion 303: Asuka shed them several times when she thought about how many people she had hurt, especially the person that she loved, like in this scene.
  • Navarone does this in Diaries of a Madman after making his first sapient kills. Celestia also later breaks down in tears when she sees what Navarone has become, partly due to her actions.
  • Loved and Lost:
    • Shining Armor does this several times as he berates himself over the mistakes he's made. The first time is when he's being taken away from Canterlot. The next occurs when Cadance tells him how Twilight helped them to become a couple (both before and after the recount). And the third occurs when he and his sister finally reconcile.
    • Spike when he's left alone in a dark forest and discovers that Jewelius has given him the wedding cake toppers as a cruel reminder of how he turned his back on Twilight.
    • For the same reason as Spike above, Rarity reacts like this when she discovers that Jewelius has gifted her with her bridesmaid dress.
    • After Jewelius finally reveals his true colors to her, Twilight is reduced to a sobbing mess from the guilt of helping a monster take over Equestria and turning her back on her loved ones.
    • Twilight and her friends share these as well as Tears of Joy upon their reconciliation.
  • Scar Tissue: Asuka often cried when she remembered how she had treated Shinji for several months after the Third Impact.
  • A Protector's Pride. Yuzu is depressed and tearful in the epilogue over having enjoyed seeing Hell suffer and having wanted to see more of it until Ichigo talks it over with her.
  • Children of an Elder God: After an Eldritch Abomination possesses Rei and uses her body to hurt Asuka physically and emotionally, Rei cries, blaming herself for Asuka's pain since she was unable to stop that cosmic horror.
  • In The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, Ringo sheds a huge number of these after he throws John over the side of the mesa, which snaps him out of the mind control he'd been put under.
  • Shed by Carol Danvers in A Prize for Three Empires when she finds out she unknowingly killed her friend Raza’s brother during a battle.
  • In Kara of Rokyn, Val Colby cries after being forced to kill his uncle Lex Luthor to save a lot of people, including Superman.
    He began to cry. "I didn’t wanna kill him."
    "I know," she said. "I don’t think you had any choice. You did the best thing you could, given the circumstances. Does it make you feel bad?"
    He nodded, the tears running down his face.
  • The Bolt Chronicles: When Bolt finally realizes that he has wrongly mistreated Mittens because of his re-awakened latent prejudice against cats in "The Blood Brother," he tearfully apologizes to her. Mittens forgives him.
  • Ben 10: Unlimited:
    • Verdona sheds these when she apologizes to Ben for neglecting him when she was grieving for the rest of her family, feeling that she otherwise would have lost Ben forever.
    • Seeing Conner risk his life against the released and vengeful Galatea leads Kara to regret how badly she treated him, and she sheds these as she apologizes to him.
  • Everyday Life with Ultimate Girls:
    • Sayaka gets this after Makoto's speech, because she doesn't think she's a good person after doing the bad deeds necessary to become an idol herself.
    • Mahiru sheds these when she realizes her father was never lazy, but couldn't get work due to his anxiety disorder, regretting how she had belittled him as a deadbeat.
    • Hiyoko sheds these when she realizes that those she had turned her back on still came to rescue her during her near rape. She cries over how she made Mahiru smash her camera and how she had mistreated Mikan throughout their time in school.
  • In Lost Latte Sora cries after yelling at Mashiro.

    Films — Animated 
  • Brave: Elinor sheds these after destroying Merida's bow. After Merida runs out of the room in tears, Elinor realizes what she's done as the bowstring snaps in the fire, digs it out, but sees it has been ruined and breaks down sobbing.
  • In Cars: Lightning and Sally shed these prior to his departure for the tiebreaker race in California. This is notably the first time Lightning ever cried as a result of his Character Development taking effect — you can even see the tears along the bottom of their windshields.
  • Queen Elsa sheds tears in Frozen when she sees her sister's ice statue after she struck her in the heart.
  • Megara crumpled to the ground in tears after Hades revealed her betrayal to Hercules. This was made even worse by the fact that the hero had given up his incredible strength to rescue her.
  • If you look closely, you can see that in Ice Age, Diego has tears in his eyes when he realizes that Manny forgives the humans for killing his wife and child and that he nonetheless is willing to helping the humans to get their baby back, while Diego himself is about to lead Manny, Sid, and the baby into an ambush set by his clan.
  • The Land Before Time:
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, after being blasted with the power of friendship and being purified of her monstrous demon form, Sunset Shimmer emerges from the ensuing crater broken, remorseful and crying.
  • In Tangled, they are trapped in a cave rapidly filling with water and will drown. Rapunzel blames herself and cries.
  • In The Tigger Movie Roo convinces the gang to pose as the currently lonely Tigger's family, though he realises the dupe and angrily walks out, basically telling them he doesn't want to see them again, leaving Roo in tears. He later goes to Pooh, bawling and pleading for him to help find Tigger and make amends.
    Roo: *sobbing* It's All My Fault! He never would've left if it wasn't 'cause of me. I didn't mean to make him feel bad. I just...I just wanted him to be my big brother...
  • In Turning Red, Ming is crying in the forest for hurting her mother when Mei finds her.
  • In Ringing Bell, after Chirin tries and fails to protect a bird's nest. Chirin starts crying to himself, especially after he accidentally crushes all of the mother bird's eggs.
  • Judy Hopps in Zootopia starts to cry when apoligizing to Nick for implying predators were dangerous during a press conference, which caused a lot of tension throughout the city and begging for his help.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Abyss, the most emotional character in the entire sequence of Lindsey Brigman's drowning and resuscitation, besides Bud, is "One Night". Earlier in the film, she said and thought some rather nasty things about Lindsey. Obviously her probably dying brought out a great deal of regret; she was the only one besides Bud (Lindsey's husband) to openly have an emotional breakdown.
  • Amazing Grace has a variation; a former slaver has been haunted by the atrocities he oversaw for decades, and finally writes his confessions during the film. He cries as he describes his crimes, but since he says he couldn't weep until he stopped hiding and running, the tears are seen as a cleansing force.
  • In a daydream sequence from A Christmas Story, Ralphie's parents shed these after they find out that the cause of Ralphie's blindness was from a bar of soap used to wash out his mouth when he said the "F-dash-dash-dash word."
  • Kathryn at the end of Cruel Intentions, once she is exposed as the manipulative bitch she is and, upon reading about herself in Sebastian's published journal, she finally seems to grasp how messed up a person she is.
  • In The Cry of the Children, the mill owner's wife breaks down sobbing after the little girl she refused to adopt later dies of overwork at the mill.
  • In Dogma, Bartleby, a disgraced angel who crossed more than one line in his quest to get back home, breaks down in tears of remorse when he comes face to face with God for the first time since his exile began. He then whispers thank you just before he's killed.
  • The titular character in Emma (2020) is shown crying several times after humiliating Miss Bates at the Box Hill picnic. In this case, it's not just the one incident that she's remorseful over - her thoughtless insult, combined with Mr. Knightley's reaction, made her realize that her behavior toward Miss Bates has always been terrible, while Miss Bates has been nothing but kind toward her.
  • At one point in The Hidden Fortress, Princess Yuki runs away and stands on a mountaintop crying her eyes out for her friend's Heroic Sacrifice, since she's too proud to let anybody see her vulnerable side.
  • John Woo's The Killer (1989) has more than one scene of Chow Yun-Fat's Hitman with a Heart shedding Manly Tears.
  • In Les Misérables (2012), Jean Valjean cries in remorse during the song "Valjean's Soliloquy," which depicts his Heel–Face Turn after the Bishop of Digne saves him from being returned to prison for stealing his silver. This is true to the novel, although Valjean has even more reason to be remorseful there (see under "Literature" below).
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • In Midwinter Night's Dream, Lazar cries when he goes to visit the mother of his best friend, whom he killed in a drunken bar fight.
  • In Oz the Great and Powerful, Finley suggests confessing all rather than facing the wicked witch. Tears might help — he suggests an onion.
  • The newly-forged Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith, after killing a roomful of untrained "younglings" in the Jedi Temple and then a roomful of surrendering Trade Federation leaders and their bodyguards.
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine has Kayla shedding a single tear when Wolverine muses the folktale that he is just a fool who got played due to the fact that she is blackmailed into working for Stryker.

  • In Dragon Bones, Ward cries tears of remorse after killing Oreg, on Oreg's request. He's inconsolable, even though he did do it on purpose and it was the right thing to do. He still killed an innocent sentient being, and that's against his nature.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel False Gods, when Horus mortally wounds Temba, Temba recovers from the Chaos taint, realizes the scale of his betrayal, and sobs.
  • In James Swallow's Deus Sanguinius, Sachiel, realizing the Chaos taint, weeps partly from remorse — partly because Stele had made a fool of him. Arkio wails My God, What Have I Done?, but is not clearly crying when he is freed from taint.
  • Ian in An Echo in the Bone (Outlander series) after he kills Mrs. Bugg accidentally.
  • In Graham McNeill's Ultramarines novel Dead Sky, Black Sun, after Uriel has learned that Pasanius's augemtic arm was tainted, and he knew it, he finally has a chance to confront Pasanius over it. Pasanius sobs as he says how could he have told Uriel that he was tainted, unclean.
    • In The Killing Ground, the gravely wounded Lord of the Unfleshed weeps with horror at the killing he and the other Unfleshed did while their minds were controlled; Uriel comforts him before the Mercy Kill.
  • In L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the Tin Woodman cries because he stepped on a beetle and killed it. He ends up rusting from all the tears and Dorothy has to oil his joints so he can move again.
  • William Shakespeare's Sonnet 34
    The offender's sorrow lends but weak relief
    To him that bears the strong offence's cross.
    Ah! but those tears are pearl which thy love sheds,
    And they are rich and ransom all ill deeds.
  • An example brought on by less-than-heinous behavior in the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Halflife: due to a "Freaky Friday" Flip/Personality Swap situation, the Doctor learns just how scared his companion Fitz is most of the time while traveling with him, and is brought to tears. He doesn't usually cry.
  • In Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games, after Katniss shoots the Gamemakers' pig and stalks off insultingly, she sobs over the low score they will give her — breaking her promise to really try to survive — and the possibility they will punish her mother and sister for it.
  • In the first few cantos of the second part of The Divine Comedy, the Purgatorio, a soldier mentioned had been a brutal, bloody bastard his whole life, but when struck down in battle, he cried a Single Tear of repentance, which is enough to send him to Purgatory instead of Hell.
  • In the original No. 6 light novels, Shion ruthlessly shoots a guard that harmed Nezumi. Shion is so horrified by what he has done that he attempts to shoot himself. After stopping him, Nezumi is so overcome by guilt that he breaks down and weeps on top of Shion.
  • In Barbara Hambly's Blood Maidens, Lydia remembers how a companion died, feels guilt, and tears start to her eyes.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero in Hell, Miranda's realization of My God, What Have I Done? has her eyes welling up and she has to fight to suppress it rather than cry in front of the servants.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, The Hound literally sobs when he recounts not interfering when the Kingsguard beat Sansa, threatening her with a knife and trying to rape her to her younger sister. However, it's also implied that he might regret not having raped her, although he may have just said that to piss off the sister.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Alexis Thorne in Lethal Justice says that Roland Sullivan was apparently shedding these kind of tears at her trial after he helped Arden Gillespie frame Alexis. However, Alexis knows that Roland must have Ignored the Epiphany afterwards, so she has little sympathy for him.
  • In Galaxy of Fear: Spore, Actual Pacifist Fandomar weeps openly as she tries to contain The Virus. She hasn't killed anyone, but even when people are in spacesuits, throwing them out of airlocks isn't something she's happy about.
  • In John Milton's Paradise Lost, Eve cries after her dream, not so much from remorse as having feared wrongdoing.
    the gracious signs of sweet remorse
    And pious awe, that feard to have offended.
  • Jane Austen
    • In Northanger Abbey, after being rebuked by Henry Tilney, Catherine flees to her room and cries, feeling mortified by her mad imagination.
    • In Sense and Sensibility, Marianne realizes how poorly she treated her sister, Elinor, and cries... whereupon Elinor has to comfort her. Elinor is the one with the sense, Marianne the one with the sensibility/sensitivity.
  • In Stephanie Burgis's A Most Improper Magick, in the Back Story, their dead mother had ruined their father's prospects by using magic before the squire. She had cried for a week after.
  • In Divergent, after Al almost kills Tris, she next sees him bawling his eyes out with regret.
  • In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Mr. Tumnus cries uncontrollably when he confesses that he works for the White Witch and planned to hand Lucy over to her. Lucy lends him her handkerchief, which he keeps as a memento, and which Mr. Beaver later acquires from him and shows to the Pevensies as proof that they can trust him.
  • Edgedancer (a novella of The Stormlight Archive): Nale breaks into tears upon his Heel Realization.
  • Little Women: After Jo causes Amy to fall through thin ice and almost drown, she cries tears of remorse while telling their mother about it.
  • Daylen in Shadow of the Conqueror is Prone to Tears, and they're usually (but not always) out of remorse, as he's an Atoner with a Long List of crimes in his past.
  • Used to powerful effect in Les Misérables: Hardened ex-convict Jean Valjean has never shed a tear since he was imprisoned nineteen years ago. But in the midst of his inner conflict after the Bishop of Digne shows him mercy when he least deserves it, he instinctively and half-consciously robs a little boy of a forty-sous coin. When he finally comes out of his mental fog and realizes what he's done, he tries desperately to find the boy and give him back his money, and after failing to do so, he collapses and sobs for hours in remorse. This marks the beginning of his transformation into a virtuous hero.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: After escaping an artificial reality in which he had false memories of a whole different life as the evil head of Hydra, Fitz breaks down into heartbreaking stifled sobs in Jemma's arms.
  • Faith in Angel episode "Five by Five". She agrees to take assassination contract to Angel but keeps giving him openings he doesn't use. Eventually she's rendered a sobbing wreck, revealing that she was trying to get Angel to kill her in order to stop her past crimes from haunting her.
  • Breaking Bad:
    • Walt sheds these after being forced to kill Krazy-8. As the series goes on, though, killing becomes easier and easier for him.
    • Jesse sheds these right as he is about to shoot Gale. And again after realizing that he almost shot Walt over a false accusation (which turns out to be true, but Jesse doesn't know that).
  • Andrew in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Storyteller". After several attempts to justify the murder of Jonathan, he breaks down crying as he realizes he killed his only true friend in cold blood.
  • Criminal Minds offers us some examples. For example, in "Mosley Lane", as he's spreading the ashes of a boy his wife has cremated alive, Roger Roycewood tells a woman in the graveyard that he likes to think to roses as the souls of forgotten people. Although he doesn't actually shed tears, his voice breaks and he sniffs. Then he gets back to his role as accomplice of the Monster of the Week.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Believe it or not, Missy of all characters has these at the end of "The Lie Of The Land" when thinking of all of her victims, as part of her process of attempting to undergo a Heel–Face Turn. The Doctor says it's a good sign of progress.
    • Both she and the Doctor are crying in "The Doctor Falls" when he asks her to stand with him and she has to turn him down. It's their last conversation before both these incarnations die, and their next ones both think they betrayed the other.
  • In the Drake & Josh episode "Josh Is Done", after Drake messes up an experiment in chemistry class, Drake has an emotional breakdown in which he tearfully apologizes to Josh for mistreating him and taking him for granted.
    Drake: I'm sorry I made you late for your exam, and I'm sorry I ran over your bike, and I... I'm sorry I'm probably the worst brother in the world and, you know, you're way better off without me.
  • Highlander: Duncan, after he was forced to kill another immortal who he considered a close friend (he was a fashion designer and had gone mad, beginning to kill young models to "preserve their beauty").
  • Law & Order: UK. Matt Devlin's killer breaks into these as his bereaved partner Ronnie makes him understand that Matt wasn't a racist and had nothing to do with the botched investigation of his brother's murder, meaning that he's not only failed to avenge his brother, he's killed an innocent man—and in an even crueller irony, one who would have been furious about both the murder and the failed investigation.
  • The titular character of Lucifer (2016) ends up trapped in the Hell he used to (unwillingly) rule, reliving the moment he most regrets over and over: stabbing his brother Uriel with a weapon that wipes him out of existence. By the time his mother comes to rescue him, he's crying openly, begging to be forgiven, even though he's the only one keeping himself there; Hell is for the guilty.
  • A major point in the Merlin (2008) episode "Beauty and the Beast". Uther must cry tears of true remorse to break the troll enchantment. To accomplish this, Arthur takes a potion that makes him appear dead. Cue frantic, remorseful, crying Uther.
  • In an episode of the Fantasy Island remake Secret Self, a man's fantasy is to have no conscience so that he could be the greatest businessman. Over the course of the episode, he slowly becomes more demonic, paranoid he will lose it, so he trusts no one until he is alone in his office when his dog he scared away earlier returns. With this act of kindness, he sheds a tear, saving his soul.
  • At the end of the season 1 finale of Once Upon a Time, Regina's curse is broken and all the characters remember who they are and what she's done to them. She tearfully tells Henry that no matter what he may think, she does love him. Later, she is shown in Henry's room sobbing into his pillow.
  • In the Smallville episode "Phantom", Chloe cries over Lois' body when she arrives too late after she is stabbed. Then it turns out that her tears have healing properties, and Lois is completely healed at the cost of Chloe's own life.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Duet", a Cardassian file clerk who had served at a labor camp breaks down in tears over the atrocities he witnessed. While he wasn't personally responsible for any of them, he feels guilty because he knew it was wrong but didn't do anything to stop it.
    Marritza: It's Marritza who's dead. Marritza, who was only good for cowering under his bunk and weeping like a woman. Who, every night, covered his ears because he couldn't bear to hear the screaming for mercy of the Bajorans... (Sobbing) I covered my ears every night. I couldn't bear to hear those horrible screams. You have no idea what it's like to be a coward, to see these horrors and do nothing.
  • A huge Tear Jerker in Stiletto. When Chloe is attacked by a gangstar, Doomsday kills him. To protect Davis, she dumps the body; when she sees that These Hands Have Killed, she falls to her knees, shaking, and starts to cry. Crosses with My God, What Have I Done? and possibly Tears of Fear.
  • Carol does this numerous times during The Walking Dead (2010), most notably whilst confessing to Tyreese that she murdered his girlfriend, and after slaughtering the Wolves invading Alexandria. This eventually culminates in her leaving town out of immense guilt.
  • The Wire: In the season one finale, "Sentencing", McNulty goes to visit Kima at the hospital after she's been shot, which he's been reluctant to do, because he blames himself for her getting shot:
    McNulty: A case like this, it's always you or Sydnor, or some other black cop who ends up going undercover. [Beat] I swear, if I could do it over... if I...
    Kima: If I could do it over, you know what I'd do? Put more tape on that fucking gun.
    McNulty: [voice breaking] I'm sorry, Kima. I'm sorry.

  • Thomas Light has this during Funeral for a son, when he realizes that he sent his son off to fight a battle he knew in his heart was unwinnable.
  • In Fall Out Boy's music video series The Youngblood Chronicles, Patrick becomes Brainwashed and Crazy and goes into violent episodes whenever he experiences a certain trigger. During one of these episodes in Where Did The Party Go, he kills Joe. Once he snaps out of it and realizes what he's done, he starts crying helplessly as the rest of the band looks on in horror.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • The page quote is from the Book of Zechariah from The Bible, which, in traditional Christian interpretation, is a prophecy that the world will mourn for putting Jesus Christ, the prophesied Messiah, on the cross, a prophecy that will most likely be fulfilled during the time period of the Tribulation, according to the first few verses of the Book of Revelation.
  • Also from the Bible, Peter weeps bitterly after denying Jesus three times.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Between the Lions: In "A King and His Hawk", the titular story has a king stop by a waterfall on his way back to his kingdom for a drink of water. Every time the king tries to drink from the waterfall, the hawk stops him by knocking his tin cup out of his fingers. The king becomes so angry at the hawk that he pulls out his sword and kills him with it. Just as the king is about to drink from the waterfall with nothing to stop him, he sees something he hadn't before; a poisonous snake hiding behind the waterfall. A single sip from the poisoned water would have killed the king, who at this point realizes that the hawk had simply tried to save his life. The king sits beside his slain friend and cries. The next morning, he sees his kingdom in the distance, and he walks down the hill to it, with his feet as heavy as his heart.
  • In the Fraggle Rock episode "Mokey's Funeral," Junior Gorg cries when he thinks he accidentally killed a Fraggle (actually a dummy that Mokey made).
  • In the Wimzie's House episode "The Accident," Loulou has a broken leg, and Jonas spends most of the episode being grumpy without explaining why. But in response to being called a "good brother," he finally breaks down in tears and admits that it was his fault Loulou got hurt, because she tripped over his roller skate that he forgot to put away.


    Video Games 
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep: Master Eraqus and Terra both have this, in that order, due to a very important piece of plot. Also comes packaged with various flavors of Heel Realizations and a side order of My God, What Have I Done?.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: At the end of the game, Snake stands before the grave of his mentor The Boss, with his newly awarded title of Big Boss marking him as her successor. As he reflects on the conspiracy that forced him to have to kill her, Big Boss does all that he can do given the top-secret nature of what really happened and salutes the grave of his mentor. As this happens, a single tear of remorse flows from his eye as the gravity of what he had done and what he has lost weighs down on him. This marks the Start of Darkness for Big Boss's character; nothing would ever be the same after this.
  • Shizumaru Hisame from Samurai Shodown bows down and apologizes whenever he defeats an opponent. However, if he uses his Zetsumei Ougi to kill the opponent, he breaks down crying instead.

  • Axe Cop: In a rare comedy example; Axe Cop, thinking mermaids were bad guys killed one, only to find out that they made angry faces because they thought they were happy faces. Cue Tears of Remorse.
  • In The Beast Legion, Gorgorath asks Xeus to kill him after being defeated repenting for his sins.
  • Eerie Cuties: Nina is so far from the typical evil vampire that even her evil duplicate is filled with remorse upon accidentally killing a vampire slayer in a prank gone wrong here.
  • In Girl Genius, Barry was crying when he put the locket on Agatha (in a flashback). She needs it to protect her, but it will damp her down and make her unhappy.
  • In Homestuck, Terezi tricks Dave into creating a doomed version of himself and then tries to persuade him to kill his doomed clone. Dave refuses, and leaves his clone sleeping on the Quest Bed. As soon as doomed Dave wakes up and steps off the Quest Bed, Jack Noir teleports in and slices his throat. This causes Terezi to feel guilty for killing the Dave, and she runs away from the lab to cry.
  • I'm the Grim Reaper has two cases. The first is after Scarlet kills Jordan, where she profusely apologizes and is clearly wracked with guilt over killing an innocent... until Satan reveals that Jordan was a serial killer and had intended to kill Scarlet too. The tears go away fast. The second case is when Scarlet near-fatally stabs Chase. She's initially confused as to why she's so worried for him, given that her original intention was to kill him the second he was no longer useful. Then she has a sobbing breakdown.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!: When Galatea realizes that her latest world-conquering scheme has injured Jolly, who is more or less her daughter, she suffers a Villainous BSoD. The Un Sound Effect of her crying is "Barely stifled wracking sobs of agonized remorse and soul-deep pain. Hic!"
  • In The Order of the Stick, Vaarsuvius cries some heartfelt and quite, until then, uncharacteristic Tears of Remorse in strip #843. For a very, very good and spoilerific reason.
  • Pet Foolery: Hannah, a foster kid, asks her foster brother if he was raised by wolves when he eats spaghetti without utensils...and drives her wolf foster father out of the room to recover. He laments the situation to his wife, who reminds him that they knew it wouldn't be easy and Hannah needs them. Hannah is eavesdropping from the doorway. When the wolves return, they find Hannah crying and eating her spaghetti barehanded.
  • In Weak Hero, after Ben takes a beating from Donald Na and protects Alex from falling debris, Alex rushes him to the hospital while crying and apologising for landing them in that situation in the first place.

    Web Original 
  • Cody does this quite a bit in Angel of Death.
  • In the SMG4 episode "Meggy's Boot Camp", this is how Meggy reacts upon realizing that her attempts to win the upcoming Splatfest by pushing her teammates to train harder has resulted in her becoming a massive jerk and borderline abusive to them.
  • At the end of season 1 of Glitchtale, Asriel states that Chara can’t be beyond saving, otherwise they would’ve thrown away their best friend locket by now. Chara mocks the idea and destroys it to prove that they have absolutely no affection left for their family, only to start unexpectedly crying.

    Western Animation 
  • Capitol Critters: Max cries these when he thinks he killed a cat. Keep in mind that Max is a mouse and he was saving a girl mouse by knocking the cat unconscious with a stage light. Goes to show you that Max is really pure of heart.
  • Gargoyles: In the episode "Deadly Force," Broadway accidentally shoots Elisa. The next time we see him after he flies her to the hospital, he's sitting alone on a building and crying.
  • Hey Arnold!: In the episode "Full Moon", Harold, Sid, and Stinky break down crying when they confess to mooning Principal Wartz and inadvertently getting Arnold in trouble as a result.
  • The Loud House: In "Fool's Paradise," Mr. Loud confesses to Lincoln that he collaborated with Luan's pranking her entire family for April Fool's Day, and he begins sobbing when he admits that it was not worth the prank-free decade she promised him.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic sees Celestia crying Tears of Remorse during the flashback in "Princess Twilight Sparkle Part 2", as she is left with no choice but to banish Luna to the Moon after her transformation into Nightmare Moon.
  • The Brain of all people in Pinky and the Brain Christmas Special, after scolding Pinky and brushing aside his Christmas letter, which he didn't deliver in time, in his desperation to complete his new scheme for world domination. He eventually reads the letter to discover it is nothing but good words of his "best friend in the whole world, the Brain", and that all Pinky asked Santa for was to give all his presents to Brain instead, since he never gets any reward for all his hard effort. The letter, plus seeing his friend sobbing at his own failure to deliver the letter, leaves this normally deadpan mouse a blubbering mess.
  • Animated Punky Brewster episode "Punky To The Rescue": Punky and her pals are in a swamp looking for Henry and they think a so-called swamp monster may get him. After several attempts to find him, Punky sits on a log and cries, blaming herself for sending Henry to Florida for a photo assignment to start with.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: In the episode "Stimpy's Fan Club", Ren doesn't as much shed tears as bawl them out screaming after finding out Stimpy (the focus of all his contempt and jealousy throughout the episode) was the one person who wrote him a fan letter.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "Dying For Pie", Squidward sheds these when he thinks SpongeBob has exploded, only to find out he's still alive.
    • SpongeBob sheds them in "Penny Foolish" when he is moved by Mr. Krabs' pennyless presentation.
  • Steven Universe:
    • In the episode "Keystone Motel", Sapphire cries a stream of tears from her one eye when she finally realizes how much her dismissive attitude has been hurting Steven and Ruby, especially Steven.
    • A flashback to Pink Diamond's assassination in "A Single Pale Rose" shows Rose breaking into tears seconds after shattering Pink Diamond, only to be subverted immediately after when we learn that Rose was Pearl in disguise and she was faking Pink Diamond's death. Presumably, her tears were from stress, not remorse.
    • Sapphire completely breaks down in "What's Your Problem" when she finds out that Ruby has run away because she lashed out at her and denounced their relationship as a lie upon learning that Rose Quartz was really Pink Diamond.
    • In "Change Your Mind", Blue and Yellow Diamond shed these after realizing how horrible they've been to Pink despite all their claims that they've loved her. To emphasize it, Blue actually stops her Emotion Bomb powers while crying these because of the fact that she hurt Pink so many times despite how much Blue missed her, while Yellow is more pronounced when she realizes it's genuinely her own tears for the first time.
  • Thomas & Friends: In the beginning of the episode "Troublesome Trucks," James the Red Engine felt remorseful and even cried about causing trouble with the coaches as well as upsetting the Fat Controller. It's the first instance in the series that we actually see an engine crying.
  • Total Drama
    • In the episode Rock 'n Rule, Harold does this after joining an alliance that gets his crush Leshawna eliminated. At the ceremony, he drops down to his knees and hugs her legs, sobbing.
      Harold: (sobbing) I didn't know if I could trust you! But I made a mistake! A big mistake!!
    • In Finders Creepers, the two teams compete in a challenge where victory depends on how many team members you have left at the end of the game. After making the mistake of listening to Jo, Brick not only leaves five teammates in the cave they were in, but caused his team's first loss of the season. He does not take this well.
      Brick: Nooo! I should have just followed my own code!! (flops down on the ground and starts sobbing)
    • And in Magma Cum Laude, Millie does this while admitting her insecurities to Priya in an final attempt at forgiveness. It works.
  • Wakfu has an absolutely pitiable breakdown from Nox, when he finally realizes that his dream is truly impossible and all the people who he's killed to reach it died for nothing. It's so impactful it causes Yugo, who minutes before had tried to kill him in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and declare This Is Unforgivable!, to feeling Sympathy for the Devil.
  • What's Opera, Doc?: Elmer Fudd cries in remorse at the end of the cartoon:
    ''What have I done? I killed the wabbit! Poor wittle bunny! Poor wittle wabbit!

    Real Life 
  • Helen Keller on the day she learned to communicate.
    On entering the door I remembered the doll I had broken [earlier that day, in a tantrum]. I felt my way to the hearth and picked up the pieces. I tried vainly to put them together. Then my eyes filled with tears; for I realized what I had done, and for the first time I felt repentance and sorrow.


Sunset Shimmer

After being blasted with the power of friendship and being purified of her monstrous demon form, Sunset Shimmer emerges from the ensuing crater broken, remorseful and crying.

How well does it match the trope?

3.93 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / TearsOfRemorse

Media sources: