Ah, Alice. She's beautiful, but she always looks really sad. On the inside she's really just one insult away from bursting into tears.
A fragile flower is that one character who always looks like they're just about ready to cry. In fact, they probably are. Sometimes, they will to try and keep their emotions inside, but ultimately fail. One small incident and they are crying. It is possible for anything to cause them to cry, but it is most often a harsh insult directed at them.
There may be a few reasons for a fragile flower's behavior. They might just be super sensitive by nature. There might have been something in their past such as emotional abuse from peers that caused them to be this way. Most characters who know the fragile flower are careful not to upset them when talking. Other more Jerkass characters will most likely try to make them cry, in which case the fragile flower may eventually force themselves to become desensitized towards insults. Most often female, though it can be a male in order to be Played for Laughs.
Pretty popular in Japanese media since it's often played as cute.
Also known as the "Sad Girl In Snow".
Anime and Manga
- Matsuri in Strawberry Marshmallow
- Vanilla in Sugar Sugar Rune
- Mikuru in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya takes this to satirical lengths.
- Nazuna in Hidamari Sketch. She has a heck lack of confidence.
- Sumire in Tramps Like Us is outwardly a Sugar and Ice Girl, but she is often seen hiding in the bathroom, crying.
- Sakuno Ryuzaki in Prince of Tennis is a more or less normal Shrinking Violet, but the anime makes her more like this.
- Mitsuru, Ritsu Sohma and his mom in Fruits Basket.
- Mihashi from Ookiku Furikabutte acts like this due to the bullying he received while in middle school.
Abe: And stop sniveling, it looks like I'm bullying you.
- Princess Shirahoshi from One Piece doesn't just look like she would burst into tears from something trivial like being awakened from a nap—she actually does. She has an excuse though, having watched her mother die and then forced to spend 10 years locked up in a tower due to death threats in the form of giant flying axes that can home in on her. She gets a little better after making some friends, though.
- Baccano!'s Jacuzzi Splot (the show's primary source of man-Moe) is prone to crying at the slightest misstep outside of his comfort zone. This, surprisingly enough, doesn't stop him from being a crazily heroic badass when the cards are down.
- Meanwhile, Lua Klein could be considered a subversion. She looks a lot like this type of character, but is in reality a completely-insane, borderline emotionless masochist.
- Kanae Ohtori from Revolutionary Girl Utena. Until Mikage puts the whammy on her and she goes Cute and Psycho.
- Shuuichi Nitori from Wandering Son. He used to cry a lot, but has gotten over that. Nowadays he mopes and lets things go to his head.
- Hinako from Bitter Virgin. With good reason.
- THE iDOLM@STER - Yukiho
- Yayoi in Smile Pretty Cure is described in the first episode as a crybaby whose tears start flowing with even the smallest nudge. She's also seen crying when she uses her Cure powers during the opening.
Live Action TV
- Marisol Delko in CSI: Miami
- Nikki Alexander in Silent Witness
- The Closer: Despite being a tough Action Girl, our heroine is always one blink away from tearing up.
- Tess in The BBC's 2008 adaptation of Tess of the D'Urbervilles, as played by Gemma Arterton.
- In the Seinfeld episode "The Understudy," Jerry's girlfriend cries at almost anything from dropping a hotdog to her untied shoelace. However, she doesn't cry when her grandmother dies.
- Sophie in Peep Show, though she's also a Manipulative Bastard.
- A Take Our Word for It male example in Wings, when Helen dates a man who cries when she mentions her dead dog; she becomes disillusioned when she realizes he cries at everything. "We went to a Marx Brothers film and he was crying because Harpo couldn't talk."
- Beth Ellen Hanson of Harriet the Spy is described as "Always look[ing] like she's about to cry". In a subversion, Harriet writes that this just makes her want to kick her and get it over with.
- Every single darn character in The Tale of Genji male or female. The Shining Prince himself is incredibly lachrymose. Of course this was considered an attractive characteristic in Heian Japan.
- Enid Blyton's Malory Towers school stories feature Mary-Lou, who is this trope to a T. She gets a lot better.
- Mélisande in Maurice Maeterlinck's play Pelléas and Mélisande.
- Hamlet in Shakespeare's play has been played this way, in a production starring Kevin Kline in the title role. While no one can fault Kline's talent as an actor, both the number of times he bursts into tears during the production and his reputation as a comic actor makes it unintentionally comic (at least to this viewer).
- Yoriko in Da Capo at first has great trouble interacting with people and, of course, always seems close to tears. Oddly enough, having rocks thrown at her apparently didn't bother her in the slightest.
- Kotomi in Clannad is more or less exempt from Tomoya's normal teasing due to her reaction of starting to tear up and ask if someone is a bully when feeling at all threatened. Naturally, learning to deal with Kyou takes her a little while.
- Hanako Ikezawa from Katawa Shoujo. Having burn scars that cover the entire right half of your body will do that to you. Or not. Treating her like one ends very badly
- According to one of his less-effectual titles in Yggdra Unison, Nessiah—despite his status as the local Magnificent Bastard—cries very easily when hurt or frustrated. If the player's performance is substandard, this happens often enough that his enemies start to mock him for being childish, and his subordinates have to devote a lot of time to taking care of him. As Nessiah's social skills are strange at best, he never really becomes cognizant of the burden he's putting on them.
- Evanine in the Neverwinter Nights mod Tales of Arterra.
- Neimi of Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones is pegged a crybaby right from the start. Being childhood friends with Colm doesn't help much. Amusingly subverting in their final support conversation, where he hears he howling and asks why, rattling off a long list of reasons. Neimi tells him she's in a good mood and just had something in her eye this time, much to his consternation.
- Fluttershy in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic. Note that, however, she is growing out of this big aspect of her, as she has become noticeably more assertive in season 2. There was, in fact, a whole episode based on it and she has repeatedly shown herself able to break out of this attitude in emergencies.
- Amy Wong and Dr. Zoidberg in Futurama temporarily turn into Fragile Flowers in a one-shot joke:
Bender: Man, I guess it's harder than I thought to make someone cry.
- Stacy in Daria.