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Most women do not look pretty when they cry. Their eyes puff up and turn red. Their face becomes all splotchy. So fits of tears are rarely attractive. More often they are used with a character the audience already finds sympathetic to generate an emotional response. There is a major exception to this rule.
Perhaps she has been emotionally cold one times too many to the hero's affections, too damn cruel over the smallest of mistakes, or simply revealed her vulnerable side too damned late for the audience to care any more. Either way, no amount of garden-variety dere-dere moments is going to earn any tangible amount of audience sympathy.
Time to go for the big guns.
Show that the Tsundere is a girl after all by having her cry.
There is an inexplicable phenomenon that the tougher a character is, the more adorable they will be when Sparkling Stream of Tears pour out of their eyes, windows that prove they have souls. The tyrant instantaneously becomes The Woobie, whose endearingly vulnerable sobs and pleas for sympathy makes the coldest of hearts want to hug her till she feels better. This is considered Moe beyond belief by fandom in general, even those who are not fans of the Moe sub-genre.
This is an increasingly common tactic used by Manga and Anime authors who have created thoroughly unsympathetic Tsundere characters yet still wish the audience to sympathize with them, or merely wishing to convincingly give a feminine side to an otherwise overly-masculine or unemotional girl.
Occasionally this moment acts as a roadstop, a turning point in which the character starts to slowly become a better person.
Nine times out of 10, unfortunately, having felt embarrassed for daring to be vulnerable, the once adorable woobie will immediately thereafter turn into a tyrant of epic magnitude worse than the mere Tsundere she was to compensate for her brief moment of weakness.
Note that this can also occasionally apply to a male character. What differentiates this from Manly Tears is that whereas Manly Tears shows the sensitive attributes of an already decent male, Cry Cute used on a man character is as a rule in the Alas, Poor Villain context that humanizes an unforgivably evil male. See also Tender Tears, where tears are part of a consistent sensitive depiction.
Sometimes includes Biting the Handkerchief.
Contrast Inelegant Blubbering.
Anime and Manga
- Lampshaded in Fullmetal Alchemist, when Roy fondly remembers the generally stoic Riza crying and tells her he'd like to see her 'pure tears' again.
- Kaname Chidori, resident Defrosting Ice Queen of Full Metal Panic has more than one moment when she breaks down crying, probably to keep her sympathetic despite her abrasive personality.
- Evangeline of Mahou Sensei Negima, Thousand-Year-Old Vampire-Tyrant and Evil Sorceress, cries adorably as she asks Nagi to pat her on the head like a little girl one last time at the end of the Mahora Budokai Tournament.
- C.C of the Code Geass franchise, when her Deadpan Snarker facade slips and she shows her Sugar and Ice Personality.
- Aunt Haruka, Narusegawa Naru and Aoyama Motoko of Love Hina.
- Especially Aoyama Motoko, in accordance with the Toughness/Tears inverse relationship mentioned above.
- The death of Prince Vegeta in Dragonball Z is the definitive male example that makes you cry for a villain.
- Asougi Rin of Mnemosyne.
- Also voiced by Noto Mamiko, Asagami Fujino of Kara no Kyoukai.
- Also, Ryougi Shiki herself in the finale of the seventh movie.
- Every girl (especially Nagi, voiced by Rie Kugimiya) and even Hayate himself of Hayate the Combat Butler.
- Even mega Tsundere Hiiragi Kagami can be The Woobie of woobies on the few times she cries in Lucky Star.
- Words Worth: Maria invokes this in response to being molested by Stallion, and as part of a ploy to get him to return her ring to her. It works. Then she shows him her "thanks".
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED's resident Tsundere, Cagalli, ends up crying in Kira's arms after her father's Heroic Sacrifice.
- An earlier (and rare male) Gundam example is Universal Century's Commander Bright Noa, during Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.
- Along with the aforementioned Nagi, Rie Kugimiya's characters do this a lot:
- Pictured above: Louise of Zero no Tsukaima. Too bad she needs to be under the influence of a love potion to allow herself to be so emotionally honest.
- The roar of a wounded tiger in Episode 8 of Toradora!: "Ryuuji is mine!!! Everyone stay off him!!!" And also: by Episode 19 Taiga realizes she does love Ryuuji, but thinking it's too late once she sent Ryuuji off to meet Minori, runs outside crying; and by Episode 24 the normally cheerful Minori finally breaks down after sending Ryuuji and Taiga off, upon recognizing her affection for both Ryuuji and Taiga.
- Rizel of Rizelmine also does this a lot, though she is a fairly cute character most of the time anyway.
- Even a battle-hardened Action Girl like Aria H. Kanzaki cannot help but break down crying in the middle of the street after a visit to her mother, imprisoned on false charges of being a serial bomber, ends with said mother having to be dragged back to her prison cell. She tries to fight back her tears in front of Kinji, who joined her visit, only to give in to her soul-crushing grief.
- Miu of Ichigo Mashimaro, though she's more of a Jerkass than a Tsundere.
- When she forces Nobue to decide whether she likes her or Ana better, and Nobue chooses Ana. Miu's display is such that Nobue chooses to tell her that it was a poor attempt at a joke, that she likes Miu best, and have her share her bed rather than risk making it worse or longer. She doesn't put a stop to her Jerkass tendencies, but in the meantime...
- Vita crying in Hayate's arms during the finale of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As.
- For all her attempts playing cool-headed and reasonable, Azusa Nakano finally breaks down crying in front of her senior bandmates after Graduation Day, venting out all her pent-up feelings since they hit third-year (and she second-year) of melancholy and loneliness, begging them to not leave her all alone.
- In a more comical variant, Mio Akiyama frequently ends up in tears whenever her attempts to look cool and/or bring some sanity to the band backfires spectacularly on her.
- Blue when confronted by Ho-oh in Pokémon Special. And immediately after that, when Silver is captured. Of course, the first crying was all just an act...
- Blue's crying is more believable when you realize that she was kidnapped by Ho-oh at a young age as part of the Mask of Ice's recruitment program. The fact that she was using Fake Tears was not only part of the act, but also a demonstration that she has, in fact, come to control her ornithophobia. Cue CMOA and Will and Karen in an awkward situation.
- Brock's Sudowoodo in the Pokémon anime, when using Fake Tears. A spotlight comes down on it and maudlin music plays in the background.
- Carlos Santana. That's all.
- Hiyoshi Wakashi from The Prince of Tennis, after losing to Ryoma in the manga.
- Also, Akaya Kirihara in the very last OAV.
- And Ryoma himself in the anime, when his beloved cat Karupin is brought by home after spending a whole day outside.
- He cries again after playing a then-last time with Tezuka in the end of the TV series.
- Tomoka, normally a Plucky Girl Tsundere, tears up in Sakuno's arms after Ooishi and Eiji lose a match despite all of their efforts. Similarly, in the manga An cries when Shinji and Kamio lose badly to Kenya Oshitari and Gin Ishida.
- England from Axis Powers Hetalia is a diehard Tsundere (and extremely heavy on the 'tsun', especially when America is around), but his tears in "Cleaning Out the Storage" were so damn genuine that everyone in fandom cried for and with him, tagging him as an Defrosting Ice Queen and sort of Woobie. America also pulls this a little in Episode 48 when England is dying.
- Russia does this in the Hetalia Bloodbath 2010, when he saw General Winter being defeated.
- Haruhi Fujioka from Ouran High School Host Club manages to do this due to a contact lens almost coming out. Tamaki thought it was totally Moe.
- Fakir of Princess Tutu spends the first half of the series being an Ineffectual Loner; it's not until he cries by the lake (admittedly hugging the duck didn't hurt) that he starts to become a sympathetic character.
- All of the main female characters in Boku No Tsukuru Sekai manage to include this trope.
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni has an example, after Rena reveals Keiichi's Dark and Troubled Past. Luckily for his fandom, Rena does this in such a brutal manner that Keiichi breaks down almost instantly into Tears of Remorse. Rena's refusal to forgive him leaves him just crying on the ground pitifully, which is even more sympathetic. Rena gets her own instance of this at the end of the chapter, although Keiichi's reaction is quite different.
- Rossiu in Gurren Lagann becomes a Well-Intentioned Extremist after the Time Skip, even going as far as ordering Simon's execution. And yet, all it took to make him sympathetic again was to show that he cried and even mulled suicide after doing it.
- Akane Tendo from Ranma One Half. Sure, she's uptight, hot-tempered, emotional, and catapults to conclusions far too much for her own good... but when she cries, even Ranma can't help but think this way.
Ranma: Gosh, you're cute when you cry.
- But careful (because that only applies whenever Ranma makes Akane cry): if someone else makes Akane cry, Ranma will hunt down and crush whoever is responsible. Given that he's generally a forgiving guy who rarely holds grudges, the fact that he went on a humiliating Martial Arts and Crafts contest purely to pay back the cheerleader who made Akane cry (and pay her back in combat) is certainly cause for alarm.
- Even unstoppable ultra-badass Dark Action Girls are not immune to this. In Black Lagoon, during the first Roberta arc, Roberta looks at Garcia with a pair of adorably sad eyes as she's hanging off Dutch's car with a trench knife—after she had just overtaken the vehicle at a full sprint Terminator-style.
- Both Berg Katse and Raoul break down crying in Ai no Kusabi after Riki and Iason go Together in Death.
- Gundam Wing has Lady Une, who breaks into sobs (and we cry too) when Relena tells her that she shouldn't wish for death anymore and refuses to kill her as punishment for having killed her adoptive father.
- Also Dorothy Catalonia, after Quatre manages to get to her and then Trowa rescues him and calls her out.
- In Sailor Moon when Usagi was on the ground crying over her transformation and Hotaru sacrificing herself, Michiru and Haruka are in the background watching her with tears in their eyes. Enjoy it, because this will be the only time you'll ever see it. A more common one is Makoto's more often breakdowns over her friends.
- Episode 172. Usagi withstands Chibiusa's erasure from reality and Nehelenia's Hannibal Lecture-like recollection of her past, and offers Nehelenia to let her kill her in exchange of letting the frozen-in-mirrors Seishi go. Not only Haruka and Michiru were openly weeping, but also Setsuna, Hotaru, every single Seishi, and the audience.
- Toward the end of the final episode of Eve no Jikan, Sammy has two adorable seconds of this.
- Although a boy, Mikael from Tenshi ni Narumon gives an epic cry after Raphael in the final episode together with blushing cheeks and tears streaming down his face. And it was all after becoming evil and turning his back on said Raphael.
- Also Silky after being hugged by Noelle in the final episode.
- Many, many of the ukes- or just whichever person is more vulnerable in reversable pairings- in BL manga.
- In the animated version of the incident where Haruhi Suzumiya treats Mikuru worse than she ever did and finishes it by referring to her as "her toy", when Kyon almost hits Haruhi and Koizumi stops him from doing so, Haruhi actually looks away from him with tears in her eyes.
- Mariko from Oniisama e... gets a moment like this when Kaoru shows gratitude and happiness upon Mariko's worry for her well-being.
- Also Fukiko, when Rei dies.
- And im the anime, Mona Lisa Komabayashi, when she has her Heel Realization.
- Both Junjou Romantica and Sekaiichi Hatsukoi use this trope on the Tsundere characters to show how adorable or sympathetic they can be. Most noticeably used by Misaki of the Junjou Romantica pairing, Hiroki of the Junjou Egoist pairing and Ritsu in the Nostalgia pairing.
- One of the more heartbreaking examples in Sekaiichi Hatsukoi is when Yanase starts crying after being rejected a second time by Chiaki. Well, while he did deserve the punch that was handed to him for forcing himself on Chiaki (but at this point, it was desperation for him to acknowledge that he had feelings instead of treating it like it was all a joke) you can't help but pity him especially when Hatori barges into his house and makes the situation worse.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: An interesting variant occurs with Homura. When she breaks down crying in Episode 8, it's adorable, sad and REALLY STRANGE since up until now she's been the Emotionless Girl. Then comes Episode 10, and suddenly it all makes sense.
- Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai has this trope Played for Laughs with Sena Kashiwazaki, a Rich Bitch who loves lording herself over her male schoolmates at the school her father runs. This is usually triggered by her Sitcom Arch Nemesis, resident Jerkass Yozora Mikazuki, saying or doing something outright mean to her. This is followed by Sena retorting with childish insults before running away crying.
- And there's a heartwarming version at the end of Episode 11, courtesy of Yozora herself, after Kodaka finally recognizes her, with her hair cut short, as his long-lost childhood friend "Sora", after after a few months they spent together with Kodaka none the wiser as to who she is.
- Misty and Dita in Vandread.
- For Dita, it's the fact that Hibiki seems a bit too friendly and close to Misty, when he himself seems to be really bothered anytime Dita is around.
- In Misty's case, since Dita is part of the ship's crew and they hate seeing Dita miserable, she says she was "bored" and just wanted have some fun, largely to avoid ostracizing the entire crew. But later she goes to the park alone and starts to cry since she knows she's going to be the Romantic Runner-Up in the Love Triangle. Fortunately Meia shows up and tells her that she's not alone.
- THE iDOLM@STER - Let's see... Haruka, Yayoi, Chihaya, Yukiho... a third of the idols.
- One Piece has a few examples, like Robin breaking down in tears after finally screaming that she wants to live, or Shirahoshi all the freaking time.
- A number of them in Fairy Tail. Lucy gets one first, when everyone is hurt because of her having joined the guild. Carla also gets one in the Edolas arc when she's told her purpose in life was to harm the person who is most precious to her, prompting Happy to stand up for her, which leads to her finally being nice to him and becoming a likable character. The oddest example would probably be Zeref. Despite being the (supposed) villain of the series and without a doubt the one at fault, at least indirectly, for almost everything that goes wrong there's something endearing about him crying when he sees Natsu. The scene where he cries is enough to give him woobie status, despite him being the one to finally take Fairy Tail out of Nobody Can Die teritory.
- Hana no Mizo Shiru: Misaki cries in several scenes. His tears after his grandfather's death spur Kawabata to kiss him - and then Arikawa also kisses him when he's crying at the train station later. Arikawa outright thinks at one point that Misaki's teary face is adorable.
- Satsuki gets these from time to time in Ghost Stories, usually to kick-start moments of Ship Tease with Hajime.
Live Action TV
- Arguably Faith in the episode of Angel she first appears in, though a much more extreme example.
- Subverted, lampshaded, deconstructed or... something... by Vala Mal Doran in an episode of Stargate SG-1. Daniel accuses her of using sex as a weapon, and she starts looking hurt and crying, but about halfway through a very heartfelt apology, Daniel realizes that she's just messing with him. She doesn't deny it.
Daniel:You'd better not be messing with me.
- Jade's breakdown in Victorious after she and Beck break up.
- Annie's "Disney face" in Community.
- In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files novel Small Favor, Harry demands of Rosanna how many knights she's murdered with her trick of getting her eyes to well up with tears and looking helpless.
- Many other female characters are jealous of Elayne in The Wheel of Time for being able to look pretty while crying.
- Teela Brown in Ring World: "Her lips, he saw, were perfect for pouting. She was one of those rare, lucky women whom crying does not make ugly."
- In The Black Company you are treated to the final humanizing moments of the up till this point nigh omnipotent and borderline eldrich abomination of a sorceress queen through use of this trope.
- Unbelievably, Caim of Drakengard when his pact partner Angelus is being turned into the Barrier Maiden of the world, and Caim thinks he'll never see her again. He's wrong, but...it doesn't work out at all...
- The King of Fighters: Poor Elizabeth...
- In Bioshock 2, it is revealed in one of the recordings left by Gil Alexander, one of the head scientists on the Big Daddy project, that in the event that an Alpha series Daddy lost its Little Sister, it become suicidal. He describes one time that he saw a Big Daddy who had lost its Sister kneeling in front of a Gatherers' Garden, crying. This certainly gives a great deal of insight into the motivation of the protagonist.
- Even when Ragna is utterly exhausted, his left arm destroyed, and would probably like a good long rest after changing Mu-12 back into Noel, its not going to stop Noel from crying, screaming, and calling him stupid at the top of her lungs.
- Serra from Fire Emblem Elibe, during her A supports with either Hector, Oswin and Lucius. Fan interpretation suggests this happens in her A support with Erk as well, which considering the circumstances may not be that far from the truth.
- Severa in Fire Emblem Awakening gets this in her A support with Owain, and in her supports with her parents.
- Rare male example in Fire Emblem: Three Houses: Sylvain Jose Gautier in his A support with Mercedes von Martriz. While he does show emotion at other points during the game, he's known for putting forth a devil-may-care skirt-chasing front as a way of avoiding his issues. Mercedes, though, sees right through him and tells him so in a blunt but gentle manner. He's so touched by how even with all his faults and irritating quirks she still cares for him, and breaks down in tears.
- Started for girly girls by Chun-Li in Street Fighter II In the defeat screens while other fighters look beat up to certain degrees (with M. Bison looking absolutely wrecked) Chun-Li only has a bump on her head and is visibly crying. The CPS II games extend this by making Chun look less beat up but amplify the crying. Cammy being the Tomboy looks more beat up than Chun.
- Ibuki took over this role during the first two games of the Street Fighter III, she also has a visible bump on her head but has a notable stream of tears on her face. Aside from the bump and some cuts on her hips she doesn't look anywhere near wrecked as many other fighters including the initial tomboy of this series Elena.
- The defeated Sailor Scout in the Famicom version of Sailor Moon cries like this when her HP runs out, though strangely despite only Moon being the crybaby in the show this extends to all scouts here.
- Marie Rose from Dead or Alive does this when she is defeated, though she looks up seemingly implying she is faking.
- Fate/stay night in its Unlimited Blade Works route has Rin doing this after Shirou stumbles out of bed after getting nearly chopped in half the day before, only to look around for her in a pained stupor and risk his life to save her when he does find her.
- Claire from the Fading Hearts Visual Novel manages this in most scenarios, when she's not putting up a tough front with Ryou.
- Franziska Von Karma at the end of Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Justice for All.
- Caius from Frozen Essence completely breaks down in his Light path after Mina almost dies saving him, pinpointing the moment where he goes from a Jerk with a Heart of Jerk to a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
- Tsugumi in Ever 17 as an example where the character genuinely stops being a Jerkass. There were signs beforehand that she wasn't, sure, and they were even getting more common. Seeing her cry basically makes you forget her doing stuff like pretending to push Takeshi down an elevator shaft for shits and giggles or randomly sucker punching him at the beginning, though. Mostly applicable to Takeshi's routes so they could spring a whole bunch of surprise reveals on you by letting her stay a jerk in The Kid's.
- Maji De Watashi Ni Koi Shinasai has two notable examples:
- Momoyo, while definitely a hero, is a Badass Blood Knight whose soft side is strictly limited to flirting with cute girls, but in one of the routes when her sister Wanko runs away and Momoyo meets up with her, she cries for probably the only time in the entire series. Everyone is surprised. She's not all that happy about Yamato praising her for it, though.
- Kokoro Fushikawa is a haughty Ojou, but one time when she cries in the anime, Yamato calls her cute. Her reaction, quite unlike Momoyo, is shown as a shot by a Cupid's arrow.
- In Girl Genius, Bangladesh Dupree of all people starts crying and actually collapses in Gil's arms when he confronts her for not being there when the Great Hospital was attacked and his father apparently killed- which she reveals was at the Baron's own orders. She does threaten to kill him for making her cry, but it seems to be more for form's sake than anything else.
- Ren of The Ren and Stimpy Show used to have these moments fairly often. Although it was not John Kricfalusi's attempt to make the character more sympathetic, but rather a case of Executive Meddling. They requested for a softer side to Ren, which John K criticized from the beginning (in the Adult Party Cartoon episodes, unsupervised by Nickelodeon, he changed Ren's personality into a Jerkass with no redeeming qualities - it did not turn out well). However, the show undeniably benefitted from this change, thus creating several Crowning Moments Of Heartwarming that the audience and executives were very pleased with.
- As an example, perhaps the most notable one is "Stimpy's Fan Club", where Ren is miserable upon discovering the fact that Stimpy is a more well-liked character than him and is jealous of the tons of fanmail that he receives. After having pondered murder and several other less radical methods of making himself more popular, Ren eventually gets a fan letter himself and starts rubbing it in Stimpy's nose... before realizing it was from Stimpy himself. Ren breaks down into tears and cries on Stimpy's chest, sobbing about how pitiful his actions were.
- "Ren's Toothache" is a very good example too. While the conclusion isn't quite as heartwarming as the episode mentioned above, it has a breakdown scene when all of Ren's teeth fall out.
- "Son of Stimpy" also featured Ren crying immensely after Stimpy had left for his search for his fart... I mean, son, Stinky.
- Many Adventure Time fans agree that The Earl of Lemongrab invoked this trope in "Too Young". He constantly screams at people and sends them to the dungeon for very petty crimes. To make him leave the kingdom, Finn and PB dress up as bedsheet ghosts. Instead of scaring him, they punch him and push him onto the floor. Based on his usual angry, shrill reactions, one would expect him to freak out and scream at the kids. Instead, he starts crying; a very pitiful, childish, soft whimpering, as tears stream from his eyes. Whether or not he really deserved that is up to debate, and whether it's funny or adorable/sad to see LG cry is also debatable. However, AT fans agree that in that moment, he went from Jerkass to Jerkass Woobie.
- In one episode of Taz-Mania, Digeri Dingo uses this tactic as a kid for Taz to get his ball that he kicked off a cliff.
- June from Ka Blam! is usually portrayed as an adorable Tsundere...but when Henry left in Won't Stick to Most Dental Work!, she was in tears because she really missed him.
- In the season 1 finale of Wakfu Evangelyne has two adorable moments like this, one in episode 25, one in 26. But while the first is a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, the second is a Tear Jerker. She's talking to the same person, but with one big difference...
- A male variant happens with Roger Klotz in Doug, when he breaks down sobbing at learning something might be wrong with his beloved cat Stinky.
- Beebe Bluff has one in "Doug's First Kiss" when he confronts her gently about the love letters she left in his locker...but not for the reason he thinks. It turns out she meant to give them to Skeeter and thought he was rejecting her through Doug! She'd left the notes in Doug's locker by mistake.