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Unable to Cry

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Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
William Wordsworth, Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood

Something terrible has happened, but a character finds themself unable to shed tears. (Or at least, says they can't). In the classic scenario, a bereaved hero will angst (or Wangst) over their inability to cry for a dead loved one, lamenting that they must be a terrible person, dried up and dead inside, a monster! They never are; they're usually just suffering an undiagnosed Heroic BSoD, or are working up to an Unstoppable Rage and can't let themselves break down, or swore they wouldn't let their enemies see them cry and now have an emotional block about it. Occasionally they cried so much over one traumatic event (or a series of them) in their life that they seem to have no tears left for anything else. And sometimes, they literally can't cry no matter how sad they might truly be because they lack tear ducts, whether naturally or due to Facial Horror.


In many works this will be leading up to a Big Scene where something triggers the character to break down in floods of cleansing tears, hopefully leading to catharsis, possibly leading to Narm. But alternatively, it can be simply a way of trying to explain/justify Men Don't Cry, in which case the tearless hero will remain stoical till the end, maybe shedding half a freedom drop at most.

One common result of the Bearer of Bad News. A friend or relative may say "He Will Not Cry, So I Cry for Him".

In some relatively rare cases, the character can cry over ordinary things but has never wept for the one big defining sorrow of their life.

Obviously, this is Truth in Television to a degree, though fiction tends to be more Anvilicious about it.

Compare Frozen Face. Compare Tears from a Stone, for when they shouldn't be able to cry, but somehow do.



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    Audio Drama 
  • Surprisingly averted in the story record based on Atari's game Yars' Revenge. Yars are giant mutant houseflies. When a young Yar warrior in the story goes off to battle, his mother's huge multifaceted eyes have tears in them.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan haS Eren Yeager in the Final Season, where Sasha died from being shot by Gabi. And after heard what her last word is, all he can do is laugh. Change to flashback from season 1, where Sasha said when they win and conquer land, they can farm animals and have meat. Ends of flashback, Eren grit his teeth unable to shed tears losing his friend. Technically, it wasn't hIs fault he can't cry. Because it's Reiner's fault for showing too many painful hells to him.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Alphonse literally can't cry. He comments on how Edward has the ability to cry, yet doesn't use it when Al wants to so badly.
    • Happens to Edward in the 2003 anime version when he kills Sloth and he comments that Wrath can cry for her while he can't.
  • The Princess in Naruto The Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow. To do a scene where her character cries (She's a Rebellious Princess-turned-Actress), she needs eye drops. She does cry for real at the end, though.
  • Played straight as the undiagnosed BSOD in Parasyte: Shinichi is horrified at finding himself becoming more callous as the carnage marches on, and especially at being unable to show emotion when Kana is killed. His biggest hangup is being unable to cry at the funeral.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Shinji, albeit outright stating that he is sad, finds himself unable to cry after Rei saves his life via Heroic Sacrifice. In fact, she isn't mourned by anyone at all, and is quickly replaced by an identical-looking clone. So Shinji's inability to cry might just be foreshadowing.
  • In the Monster manga, Wolfgang Grimmer regrets his inability to cry or otherwise respond to emotional situations, such as his son's death, owing to his upbringing at Kinderheim 511. This is subverted when Grimmer bursts into tears when trying to comfort a traumatised child after rescuing the child from suicide. Later, when dying from a gunshot wound, he is finally able to cry for his son.
  • Fist of the North Star: A young girl named Asuka can't cry for her dead father because she thinks that, if she does, he'll never rest. Kenshiro's response is to hold her, shedding Tender Tears and stating that he'll cry in her place.
  • Following the death of Cosmo, and the subsequent failure to revive her, in the series finale of Sonic X, Sonic was left not only unable to cry, but unable to react properly. Despite regular complaints stating that he was "soooo mean", he was obviously mourning.
  • Fairy Tail
    • Erza ZigZags this; she cannot cry in her right eye, even when it was healed of damage from when she was a slave. She does, eventually, cry in her right eye at the end of the Tower of Heaven arc. She claims that it's because she already cried half of her tears out.
    • Despite feeling sad and lonely, Lucy cannot initially cry when she loses her father. She speculates if it was a result of her father often treating her horribly, until they made up somewhat. Then when she finds out that he has been sending her birthday presents the last seven years, paid her rent so she didn't lose her home and actually loved her all along, she breaks down crying.
  • Full Metal Panic!
    • Sousuke remarks on his inability to cry when Kurz supposedly dies, though he wonders if he could had Kaname been there. In the final novel when, faced with certain death, he sees a video from his former classmates asking him to come back to school, Sousuke finally breaks down sobbing that he doesn't want to die.
    • This also applies to Kaname and Tessa shortly afterwards, when they find themselves unable to cry over Sousuke's apparent death; Kaname thinks to herself that it seems to be because it's so hard to believe that he'd actually be dead. She's right, of course.
  • In Clannad After Story, Tomoya tells Ushio about how, when you become an adult, you often can't cry even when you want to. Not long after, though, he discovers he's still got plenty of tears left, even though if anyone should be numb to sadness, it's him.
  • Gunslinger Girl. Cyborg girl Claes whenever she sees something that reminds her of her dead handler Captain Raballo (who has been wiped from her memory).
    Claes: Have you ever been tremendously sad, but the tears won't come out?
    Jean: happens.
    Claes: That's how I feel right now. My heart is overflowing with tears, but they just won't come out of my eyes. At night when I'm asleep, they quietly spill out onto the pillow without my noticing.
  • Subverted in the Manga of Mega Man X, where the fact that X can cry is what shocks Zero.
  • In One Piece, despite how much he wants to when Rebecca tearfully announces him her will to win the tournament for the Mera Mera no Mi, the Thunder Soldier in the Dressrosa arc is literally unable to cry, due to being a Living Toy. Thankfully, his toy status is later fixed, revealing him as a human named Kyros. When the whole thing was over, he made up for all those tearless years in one go.
    "Even toys have things they want to protect. But tears won't fall from these tin eyes..."
  • Referenced in Code Geass twice; the first time is when Shirley Fennette's father has died, and when she's putting on a brave face her friends tell her not to, and ask if she's cried yet. They're reassured when she replies that she's cried a lot. The second time is after the same unfortunate Shirley has died, and one of her estranged friends is dealing with her own grief, and is reassured by a coworker that as long as she can cry, she'll be OK. Both cases clearly work on the belief that being Unable to Cry is a sign that something is seriously, perhaps irremediably, wrong, while being able to express your grief is much healthier.
  • In the penultimate episode of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, as White Fang's plans fall apart, Dorothy Catalonia breaks down but can't shed any tears. As he leaves her behind, Trowa Barton remarks: "That's sad. A woman who can't cry." In a subversion, once Dorothy is alone, she does start to cry.
  • In Porco Rosso, after Gina has just received news of the death of her third husband (all of them were pilots who died in wars or plane crashes), she remarks to her friend Porco that she can't even cry after waiting all this time for some news of his whereabouts.
    Gina: It's strange. I've been waiting to hear something for months and now I can't even cry. I just feel numb.
  • Shion from Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku is physically unable to cry due to his damaged eyes, and berates himself for his inability to mourn for his dead friend, Tenza. All he can do instead is to seek revenge against the monster who killed Tenza.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny Kira, in a stark contrast to how he used to be, has gone from tear prone as he was in SEED to not crying at all. Even in situations where the battle-hardened Athrun cries he doesn't shed a tear. The reason for such a severe change are never really touched upon but the implications of it being a combination of general battle weariness and PTSD are there.
  • In The Way to Protect the Female Lead's Older Brother Dion is permanently unable to cry (and emotionally stunted in general) as a result of his upbringing. Due to this, he'a also endlessly fascinated with his half-sister's (who went through the same upbringing) ability to cry, to the point of going out of his way to give her reasons to be sad.
  • In Scryed, when Scheris dies, Ryuho is initially frozen in stunned shock. Kazuma (in his own caring but rough way) tells him it's all right for a man to cry... and Ryuho melts down.

    Comic Books 
  • Professor X in Ultimate X-Men was unable to cry at his son Proteus' funeral and he berated himself for it. Of course, the fact that Proteus was a mass-murderer who killed over a million people worldwide and was going to kill him might have something to do with that.
  • The Machinesmith, a Marvel Universe villain who went through an Emergency Transformation and is very unhappy about it. "I... I can no longer even... cry."
  • In one ROM: Space Knight story, Rom spends the issue trying to rescue a little girl from his enemies the Dire Wraiths. When he finally reaches her, he can't detect any life signs and believes she has drowned. He cradles the little body in his arms and shudders, making little choking sounds, and Namor realizes the cyborg literally can't cry. Namor manages to save her life with Atlantean tech, though.
  • Jesse Custer, the protagonist of the series Preacher, saw his father killed in front of him at the age of five. Naturally, he cried his eyes out, until the murderer, a sadistic bastard, sneered at him for crying. Jesse stopped crying right then, refusing to show weakness to these monsters, and swore never to cry again. He never does, even when the love of his life is similarly murdered (by the same people) in front of him. In the end of the series, he is finally able to cry again when Tulip is about to leave him for good. This is what convinces her to try to make their relationship work.
  • In All Fall Down, Portia is this in spades, before breaking down in the Ghoul's arms after he averts her attempted suicide.
  • Concrete: Ron's new alien body just isn't wired to weep, so feelings that he would have cried from in his previous body cause him to vomit instead. Unfortunately his new stomach is filled with extremely caustic acid strong enough to dissolve rocks and wood, meaning he naturally tries to avoid vomiting if possible. His inability to achieve emotional release is probably one of the contributing factors to his becoming depressed as the series goes on.
  • Robin Series: When Tim has to attend the funerals of his father, his girlfriend and a school friend who'd died in his arms after he failed to save her all in the same week he finds that by the end of the week, for the last funeral he just can't cry anymore no matter how disrespectful he feels that is.

    Comic Strips 
  • Parodied in an early Dilbert arc where Dogbert tells a psychiatrist he's unable to cry over Dilbert's death. When the therapist tells him that dogs can't legally inherit from humans, he of course starts bawling.
  • In Gahan Wilson's Nuts, the Kid wonders why he can't cry when his favorite uncle dies, until he imagines his dog dying instead and then weeps his heart out.

    Fan Works 
  • In Dragonball Z Abridged version of The World's Strongest, Dr. Wheelo is nothing but a Brain in a Jar and thus cannot cry, despite every event conspiring to make him want to.
  • In Limitless Potential, Roll finds herself unable to cry when X explains to her that she's been rebuilt a century in the future, and that everyone she knew, including Mega Man and Dr. Light, are long dead, which only distresses her even more. Justified given that when she was given her new body, Dr. Fujiwara saw no reason to give her the capacity to cry.
  • In Neon Metathesis Evangelion, Asuka has opened up to Rei and Shinji, she has admitted to herself and even to them that she loves them, she knows she is loved... but one thing still hasn't changed about her: She hasn't cried in ten years, not even at the funeral of her mother. She won't cry now, no matter what.
  • In The Ouroboros, Mikey is the only one of the six spacefarers who remains dry-eyed after relaying the news that Splinter died in their absence. This is implied to be partly because he was forced to snap into Heroic Safe Mode after learning this, and none of the others are in any condition to help pull him out of it after hearing that.
  • The titular character of Thanks Kyubey physically cannot cry due to biology, which is a departure from canon insofar as all of Kyubey's species in canon are incapable of emotion at all, but the Kyubey in the fanwork is capable of emotion and empathy unlike every other Incubator.
  • In What Tomorrow Brings, Jake recalls feeling too hollow to cry at Tom's funeral in the original timeline.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Referenced in Mystic River where Sean Penn's character sobs "My own little daughter and I can't even cry for her!" "Jimmy, you're crying now!"
  • In The Holiday, Amanda Woods can't cry. It's part of the trumped-up reason her boyfriend says he cheated on her during the Defenestrate and Berate scene at the beginning; that he's freaked out by her emotionlessness. But eventually The Power of Love is upon her, and she finds herself crying because she has to leave her new love interest. This produces a delighted reaction to her, and leads straight into a Race for Your Love scene.
  • The action star Tug Speedman in Tropic Thunder can't cry on set, leading to a rift between him and the "award winner" Kirk Lazarus.
  • Conan the Barbarian (1982): "Why do you cry?" "He is Conan. Cimmerian. He Will Not Cry, So I Cry for Him."
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day:
    T-800: I know now why you cry. But it's something I can never do.
  • Addressed directly in Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Hellboy and Abe are listening to "Can't Smile Without You" and Abe notes that he physically can't smile and isn't even sure if he has tear ducts. Then Nuala dies—turns out he does.
  • In Bicentennial Man, Andrew is envious of Portia when she cries after Little Miss dies. He comments that it isn't fair to be capable of feeling so much sadness and incapable of expressing it.
    "It's cruel that you can cry and I cannot. There is a terrible pain I cannot express."
  • A unique example in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Scotty tells Spock that the daughter of Chancellor Gorkon didn't 'shed one bloody tear!'. Spock points out Klingons don't have tear ducts. Furthermore, the first missive she issues clearly shows her bereavement.
  • Conspiracy (2001): Offscreen, Dr. Kritzinger tells Reinhard Heydrich a story about an old friend who had an abusive father but a doting mother. The man was unable to cry at his mother's funeral, but was strangely broken down in tears and sobbing uncontrollably at his father's funeral. It was because his father's hatred defined the man's life more than his mother's love ever did, rendering him an empty shell who had lost his purpose when the object of his hatred was gone. This ties into a warning that Kritzinger is trying to give Heydrich about his anti-Semitism.
  • In The Secret Garden, like the book it's based on, Mary is this way after being neglected by her birth parents. Part of her Character Development is learning how to cry.
    Mary: [voiceover] I was angry, but I didn't cry. I didn't know how to cry.
  • In Amazing Grace, John Newton, the blind former slave trader, is last seen dictating his memoirs/confession to a scribe, (in which he gives full details of the atrocities he took part in,) and tells Wilberforce that despite decades of crushing guilt, he wasn't actually able to weep until he wrote it. The Tears of Remorse he is finally able to shed are clearly a great weight off his soul.
  • In The Wild Child, Victor's years of isolation in the forest have caused his ability to cry, among other things, to atrophy. He is never observed crying at the institute, despite his cruel treatment by the other kids. He finally cries for the first time late in the movie after being punished by Itard.

  • In The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, Plath's Author Avatar Esther realises she has never cried for her father and breaks down sobbing at his graveside.
  • In Lord of Emperors, the widowed, hunted and revenge-seeking Empress must be convinced to "allow herself to grieve" by a physician who is sheltering her from the new Emperor's guards. "We must bend before we break" is a big philosophy for said physician, and is borne out several times in the ending.
  • Ballad of a Shinigami: Since the dead can't cry, Momo cries for them.
  • Albert Camus' The Stranger : one of the points used against the main character in his trial is the fact that he didn't cry at his mother's funeral. He argues that it is hard to cry for a woman who lives a long happy life and then dies peacefully.
  • Molly the Street Samurai from Neuromancer, mainly because she has mirrored shades surgically implanted over her eyes, so her tear ducts are redirected into her mouth. She's so unspeakably badass that she doesn't cry, she spits.
  • All through Specials (the third book in the Uglies trilogy), Tally says that she doesn't think that Specials are physically capable of crying. She gets pretty close to crying at quite a few points, but she never actually cries. Until the end.
  • Rand Al Thor continually hardens himself as a defence mechanism in The Wheel of Time, to the point it is mentioned on several occasions he wanted to cry, wished he could, but finds himself unable to, as well as expressing any true emotion anymore, and even trying to stop himself feeling them. This was just one aspect of a 7 book breakdown.
  • Played straight in The Secret Garden, in that Mary "doesn't know how to cry." She figures it out in the end.
  • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry meets with the Diggorys at the end to talk to them about Cedric's death. Mr. Diggory sobs throughout, but the book notes that Mrs. Diggory seems beyond tears.
  • Tobias of Animorphs spent so much time trapped in the form of a red-tailed hawk that even when he returns to human form, his predatory mindset prevents him from crying. This saves his life on one occasion—he's just found out who his father really was, but he needs to pretend that he doesn't believe what he's been told.
  • In Wicked, Elphaba's skin reacts to water like acid, including her tears. When her beloved teacher is murdered and all the students are consoling each other, she has to force herself to stand far away from the crowd and put on a cold face, lest she risk breaking down and burning her face.
  • The eponymous character of the Eisenhorn novels in the Warhammer 40,000 universe is not only unable to cry but express nearly any facial expression change due to nerve damage sustained under torture, which he captor explicits taunts him over.
  • Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt in Gaunt's Ghosts novel Blood Pact is a particular example. Due to having his eyes ripped out during his torture on Jago in the novel Only in Death, he is unable to cry when his old friend, Doctor Tolin Dorden reveals that he is dying of blood cancer, as his new eyes are artificial implants which cannot perform that one function.
    Ibram Gaunt: My eyes will not let me cry, old friend.
  • The protagonist of Brian Keene's short story "The Garden Where My Rain Grows" suffers from this problem. He can get sad over the deaths of loved ones, but he's never been able to cry. Not before the apocalypse, not after, not when his oldest friend is decapitated by Satanists. He finally finds himself able to cry at the end, after a Kraken kills his Love Interest.
  • In Teresa Frohock's Miserere: An Autumn Tale, Lucian freezes after Catarina dies. Rachael holds him a long time and nearly gives up before he sobs.
  • In Blind Faith by Ben Elton, protagonist Trafford lives in a dystopian society where every detail of one's life is public to all, and people are frequently encouraged to "emote" and share their every thought with others. At one point, a colleague is unable to cry when she is urged to express her feelings over the death of her baby son. Others in the office are disappointed with her, but Trafford notes that her quiet dignity somehow makes a bigger statement than a flood of tears.
  • In John Hemry's Paul Sinclair novel A Just Determination, the other junior officers grow worried over Carl Meadows after a sailor's death because he is neither crying nor otherwise reacting after days.
  • In The Last Unicorn, unicorns never cry because they never feel the kind of human grief and regret that would prompt them. After a stint as a human to save her fellows, the unicorn confesses that she is now full of tears even though she cannot cry.
  • In The Underland Chronicles, Gregor really starts warming up to Luxa when she tells him that she has not cried since her parents' deaths. When her cousin Henry betrays her at the end of Gregor the Overlander, she goes into a catatonic state of sorts, and it seems like she still won't cry - until she sees Vikus.
  • In Alethea Kontis's Enchanted, Rumbold while saying goodbye to his mother's ghost.
  • In Seanan McGuire's October Daye novel Rosemary And Rue, Toby is unable to cry the entire day after she realizes that she had been transformed for fourteen years and lost her entire life; only at evening does she break down.
  • In the "First Lay of Gudrun" of the Poetic Edda, Gudrun does not weep over her murdered husband Sigurd. Several women attempt to console her by relating their own sad stories but fail to get a reaction. Finally, Gudrun's sister Gullrönd uncovers Sigurd's corpse; when Gudrun sees Sigurd's face, she cries.
    Gudrun sat by the dead Sigurd; she did not weep like other women, even though her heart was near to bursting with grief.
  • In the Nightside series, Merlin Satanspawn's eyes are flames that burn within empty eye sockets. When Taylor and Suzie meet him in the 6th century, he sadly speaks of how, after King Arthur died, he couldn't even weep for his friend and protege because his eyes aren't built that way.
  • In the Doctor Who novel Set Piece. As Ace, stuck in ancient Egypt, gets to grips with the fact that the Doctor did apparently die and is not coming back for her, she tries to grieve for the Doctor's loss and finds she can't cry.
    "'It doesn't hurt.' She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to find some part of herself that wanted to cry. 'Why doesn't it hurt?"
  • In Secret Lies by Amy Dunne, Jenny can't seem to cry since her grandmother's death, until near the end of the book when her girlfriend has been brutally attacked.
  • This is the meaning of the title of Alan Dean Foster's novel Nor Crystal Tears. The Thranx are a race of intelligent giant insects, and while they feel love and sorrow just as humans do, they cannot cry.
  • The central character in The Mental State undergoes a series of traumatic experiences that deeply affect him. To cope with everything and enable himself to deal with situations constructively, he shuts down almost all of his emotions, becoming a sociopath. He only escapes from this mindset after he is forced to revisit the event that scarred him in the first place, resulting in him breaking down in tears and howls.
  • One book in the The Baby-Sitters Club series involves Claudia dealing with the loss of her beloved grandmother. At the funeral, she finds herself unable to cry; unaware that it's a fairly common reaction to loss, she worries something is wrong with her. When her emotions do catch up with her, they manifest in bizarre and unpredictable ways; it isn't until she breaks down completely that she's able to begin to heal.
  • The Little Mermaid: Mermaids are unable to shed tears, which makes their grief all the worse. When the title character becomes an angelic spirit for choosing to die rather than sacrifice her prince's life, she weeps for the first time.
  • The Innsmouth Legacy. Aphra Marsh refuses to cry when she reads the FBI file on her mother's murder and autopsy by government scientists. She's one of the Deep Ones so the shedding of salt water has religious associations.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Parodied with Chandler in Friends in, naturally "The One Where Chandler Can't Cry." And of course, once he breaks through and becomes ABLE to cry, he CAN'T STOP, culminating in a hilarious Shipper on Deck moment when he laments about wishing Ross and Rachel could just work it out. (This is a Compressed Vice; he cried in several previous episodes, sometimes being pointed out as the most likely to.)
  • House claims he cannot cry in one episode, although he's cried at least twice and got misty-eyed far more times than a supposed Nietzsche Wannabe should.
  • The Mayor in Spin City is unable to cry because his father always said tears were a sign of weakness. When he needs to, he stabs himself in the thigh with a pen.
  • In Home Improvement, Tim Taylor's boss, Mr. Binford, who was like a second father to him, dies, and he is unable to cry for him or show grief the way the other characters do. After a bit of thinking (and a visit to his neighbor Wilson), he realizes that he just doesn't show grief the same way as everyone else. Notably doesn't end with a scene with him breaking down in tears. The episode said that Tim cried at the actual funeral, but didn't show it on-screen. Part of the story was that he didn't want Brad to think crying isn't "manly" because everyone shows grief differently.
    • This later appears again when Jill's father dies and Randy can only respond by making death jokes. Tim tells him it's okay to react that way, but to be considerate of others and only make the jokes around those who will be okay with them (namely him).
  • Arrested Development
    • Michael Bluth never cried as part of a Running Gag that GOB kept calling him a heartless robot. It wasn't a matter of couldn't cry as it was he didn't feel that he needed to. He did shed a few tears in the finale, though, which elicited opposite reactions from those around him; GOB, especially, who'd made a big deal about his failure to cry, found the sight repulsive and unmanly, and it's what convinced his mother to sell out the company to Stan Sitwell.
    • His sister Lindsay finds herself unable to cry on command like she used to, though she does finally manage it when she believes her father is dead.
      Lindsay: I used to think of Dad dying; that used to work. I once tried thinking of Mom dying, but I just ended up smiling.
  • This happens to Mariah Cirrus, rescued from a sleeper pod in an abandoned ship in the second season of Babylon 5, due to the cryogenic process drying out her tear ducts.
  • Part of the plot in the Soap Opera Yo Amo a Paquita Gallego. The titular character is unable to cry, as she never had done that, not even at her birth. But, as one character points "those who are unable to cry are unable to sincerely laugh neither", so the plot has a real delight in doing all kind of very awful things, even to ludicrous levels, just to see if she ever breaks. When Paquita finally cries, near the end of the soap, is the signal that the universe can stop throwing shit on her ASAP.
  • On Taxi, when Reverend Jim's father dies, Jim is upset because he hasn't cried yet. Then he realizes he is crying. And he asks, "But am I crying because I miss you, or am I crying because I didn't cry?" He decides it doesn't matter and he's glad the tears have finally come.
  • Ana Lucia's inability to cry (at least until Day 48) is mentioned in Lost. Notable in that we don't see her cry during any of her traumatic flashbacks either, and when she finally does breakdown, it's likely that she was finally letting out the grief of the past few months of her life.
  • Played extremely Narmishly on the sixth season finale of Grey's Anatomy—while caring for the critically injured Dr. Percy (and having almost been shot herself), a flustered Dr. Bailey actually says "Where is that water coming from?" and has to be gently told that she is crying by Mandy Moore's character. Also one of the patients was clinically depressed but never cried because he cried out all his tears when he was a newborn baby
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation: Liberty, right after JT's death, though she eventually does cry.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Data, being an android, had this problem, despite the multiple tragedies that informed his life. It was patently obvious to everyone but him (including the audience) that he could feel, however. He loses this limitation after getting Soong's emotion chip. The novel Immortal Coil has everything he didn't express all drop on him at once, to the point of what would be clinical depression in a human.
    Data: You know that I cannot grieve for you, sir.
    Soong: You will. In your own way.
  • In America's Next Top Model, a contestant named Tiffany was eliminated during Cycle 4. She took the elimination in stride and said that she has had such a hard life and cried so much, getting eliminated from a reality show was pretty small by comparison. This rather famously sent Tyra into a complete rage.
  • Played for Laughs with Brooke Alvarez of the Onion News Network, who claims to have had her tear ducts cauterized.

  • Alice Cooper's "I Never Cry" (though the narrator may be lying to himself).
  • The Jackson Browne song "Doctor, My Eyes".
  • Jay-Z's "Cashmere Thoughts" gives us:
    "I never cry. If I did, I'd cry ice"
  • Cemetery Gates by Pantera.
    And when she died I couldn't cry. The pride was in my soul.

  • Edgar Lee Master's "Charles Webster"
    Till you stood, too full for tears, by the cot,
  • In Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "Home They Brought Her Warrior Dead", a queen does neither weep nor speak when her husband is brought home dead. Her handmaids believe she will die if she does not weep, but their efforts have no effect until an old nurse brings the queen's child to her. The queen weeps, saying she will live on for his and her child.

  • Althea, the eponymous princess from The Light Princess did not cry at her mother's death when she was 6 years old, and hasn't cried since. Her inability to cry (as well as her lightness) gets her labeled as a freak by her father and her kingdom. She eventually does cry, when she is afraid that the man she loves is dying/dead.

    Video Games 
  • Sapphire from Disgaea 3 can't cry even if she wants to. At least, not out of sadness.
  • In the Fallout 3 mission Those, young child Bryan Wilks asks you two check on his dad in the midst of a giant fire ant infestation. You will find him dead in his house. Upon receiving the news, Bryan will say that he kind of already knew and is frankly too tired to cry.
  • Fire Emblem:
  • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia:
    • After Shanoa is forced to kill Albus and his spirit warns her about Barlowe's treachery, she laments the fact that she can't cry for him due to having lost her emotions.
    • At the end of the game, Albus' last request before he leaves for the afterlife in Shanoa's place is to see Shanoa smile. Having regained her emotions at this point, she does with tears streaming down her cheeks.
  • The normally emotionless Lita from Brütal Legend states that she'd rather have scorpions crawl down her cheeks than tears before her emotional breakdown by her brother's deathbed. Eddie responds by saying that would make an awesome album cover.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, Chosen One Colette laments her inability to cry at one point, as a part of the angel transformation process which is sealing away her soul piece by piece. She does get better by the end, but at the time...
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) has Princess Elise who can't cry... but only because she was trained not to, after her father sealed an unspeakable evil into her, that can only escape if she cries.
  • The entirety of Organisation XIII in Kingdom Hearts. Since they have no hearts, they're physically incapable of feeling emotion .
  • In Persona 4, This is the main problem with Naoki Konishi, the Hanged Man Social Link. He finds himself being unable to properly mourn his sister's death, which makes him seem cold in the eyes of others. In the end of his story arc, he's able to properly mourn and move on.
  • Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals
    • Tia was constantly teased as a child to the point of crying because her name was so close to the word, "Tear". Maxim, her childhood friend and Unrequited Love, would always save her and eventually told her the source of her torment was because she cried so easily. She eventually became strong enough to not cry all the time, but at Maxim's wedding (to another woman), admits she hasn't cried since she was a child and fears not being able to anymore. At the game's ending, the moment that Maxim dies, Tia, in another part of the world and unaware of what has happened, suddenly finds herself crying uncontrollably without knowing why.
    • In the remake, Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals, she cries earlier in the story, when her new boyfriend Dekar sacrifices himself to save her from Idura.
  • Solid Snake from Metal Gear, due to sheer jadedness.
    "I don't need a handkerchief." ... "I don't have any more tears to shed."
  • In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt an optional line of dialogue has Geralt say "I can't cry. Don't know how." after Vesemir dies. Whether he physically can't due to his mutations or finds it extremely difficult due to his upbringing/jadedness is up to the player's interpretation.

    Visual Novels 
  • What happens to Alan Aramaki in the Last Season of Rose Guns Days. He realizes that his girlfriend Meixue, who was shot by a sniper − who is his best friend Keith to make things worse −, is no longer responding because she already died from her bleeding. Yet no tears run. He can only sport a Broken Smile instead.
  • In Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, Ultimate Robot K1-B0 laments that he can't cry in the wake of Miu Iruma's murder, since they'd grown attached to each other in the past couple of days.

    Web Comics 
  • Antimony of Gunnerkrigg Court is fairly contained about losing her mother and being abandoned by her father, until she gets a chance to relax and then WHAM come the waterworks.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: Carmen can't produce tears because she's a cactus and her body is made to retain moisture.
  • For a villainous example, in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Heart of Ice", Batman is horrified when he discovers Mr. Freeze's Dark and Troubled Past. When Mr. Freeze himself shows up immediately afterwards...
    Mr. Freeze: It would move me to tears, if I still had tears to shed.
  • In The Boondocks, Huey Freeman never cries, except for one scene in the first season finale... possibly. It was raining.
  • The Courage the Cowardly Dog episode The Tower Of Dr. Zalost has a very unique example. The villain Dr. Zalost has a rat henchman who appears cold and only snarls or sighs. Towards the end, the rat gets hit with the Happy Cannonball which turns him into a crying baby. Fans have speculated that he was bottling up his emotions which prevented him from letting any tears out.
  • In an early episode of Futurama, Fry drinks an alien emperor whose body is made of liquid and sleeps in a glass bottle and is crowned the new emperor, which seems great until it becomes clear that the role has a ridiculously high turnover rate, being almost a guaranteed ticket to assassination. When it turns out that the old emperor he drank isn't really dead, but is alive inside his stomach, the options of getting him out are narrowed down to Fry crying, which he can't because he's "too macho"; even a reminder that he outlived everyone he ever loved is easily shrugged off. Bender finally finds some success by telling him that Leela was brutally murdered on her way over to help him out, but Leela, who's not in on the plan, actually shows up before he's shed more than a few tears. The ultimate solution, of course, is for all his friends to kick the crap out of him until he sheds tears of pain. It works. Then the emperor himself says, "Thanks for crying me out!" and takes over the pummeling.
  • Crops up in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Tanks for the Memories". While most of the other ponies are reduced to tears by Rainbow Dash crying over her pet tortoise, Twilight Sparkle and Applejack appear unaffected.
    Twilight Sparkle: Me? What about Applejack?
    Pinkie Pie: Applejack cries on the inside, Twilight!
    Applejack: It's true.note 
  • The Simpsons episode "Girly Edition:"
    Lindsey Naegle: Bart, look up here! This is where the tears would be if I could cry! But I can't. Botched facelift. You could learn a lot from him, Mary Anne!
    Lisa: It's Lisa.
    Lindsey Naegle: Mary Anne's better!
  • In South Park, Butters' dad Stephen seems to either be unable to shed tears or is only pretending to cry.
  • In the Spongebob Squarepants episode "Have You Seen This Snail?", Spongebob's pet snail Gary has run away. Near the end, Patrick tries to get Spongebob to let it out some more, after days of failed searches, but he laments that he can't cry anymore and that he's out of tears. It's subverted a second later when Patrick finds some balsa wood laying around, prompting Spongebob to turn on the Ocular Gushers again because Gary really loved balsa wood.