Men Don't Cry

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"It is not okay for a grown-ass man to weep in public, in front of a bunch of happy families enjoying pie. If you can't hold it, you take your ass to the men's room and cry in private on the toilet. Like a man!"

When this trope is in effect, Real Men don't cry, no matter what. Not while facing the camera at least. In older anime, stolen food or an Armor-Piercing Slap may still evoke Ocular Gushers, but tears of sadness would always come from well hidden eyes or as a Sparkling Stream of Tears over a man's turned shoulder or even in a spontaneous downpour of rain. Sometimes it's passed off as only sand in their eyes. Sometimes the man will flatly deny crying, even as he's doing so. There is a single exception: one single tear is allowed at the retirement ceremony of his favorite sporting icon.

Unmanly men may produce Water Works.

See also Ocular Gushers and Sparkling Stream of Tears.

See also Manly Tears and Tender Tears, which turn this trope upside down.

Unfortunately, this trope often makes some viewers confuse any crying or depression whatsoever from a guy with Wangst, also reinforcing the "men have no permission to ever show feelings other than rage" Double Standard - as viewers are much much more likely to be crying "Wangst" over a male character than a female character.

On the other hand, a crying man might Take a Third Option and say "He Will Not Cry, So I Cry for Him!".

Compare Men Are Uncultured, Trying Not to Cry.

Contrast Emotional Bruiser.

Examples of Men Don't Cry include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • For all its macho bravado, Fist of the North Star completely averts and washes this trope away with an ocean of sensitive and warm-hearted Tender Tears, even from its supposed "villains." Also notable in that at no point does anyone attempt to hide such tears.
  • Pokémon:
    • "Bye Bye Butterfree" has main character shed a single tear though his face is hidden at the time.
    • During a sad scene Ash will always, at least try to, hide his eyes with his hat, while the viewer sees the tears hitting the ground. The girls on the other hand have no such reservations. James cries on camera for humor, but...well...he's James.
    • James himself averts it sometimes.
  • Elfen Lied:
    • Subverted when Kouta realizes how he's handled Nyuu's problems was probably dangerously misguided, and she's just been taken away. He tears up, and his cousin Yuka immediately snaps at him "Jerk! You're a guy, and guys aren't supposed to cry."
    • In the final chapter of the manga, the emotional havoc he endures is so strong he spends most of the time crying.
  • Used in Fullmetal Alchemist during Hughes' funeral where Colonel Roy Mustang, with his back to the audience and subordinate Riza Hawkeye, comments that it looks like it's going to rain. When Hawkeye says that it isn't raining, he insists that it is as he is shown (still from behind) with a tear stream running down his cheek. Armstrong cries all the time, but that's played for laughs...usually.
  • Completely averted with Tomoya Okazaki from Clannad. After all the shit he's been through in After Story, it's hardly a suprise.

Tomoya: "Nagisa..."

  • Played with in Rurouni Kenshin with the character of Soujiro. When he kills his family, Shishio asks him if he's crying. Soujiro passes it off as rain running down his face, but we later find out that he was really crying. Though in this case it wasn't about masculinity, but because his abusive relatives beat him for crying.
  • Averted in One Piece, where it's no less likely to see a man cry than a woman. A notable example is Franky, who's arguably one of the most manly looking of the main cast, yet is also the most prone to bursting into tears at a sympathetic story. And don't get started with the Whitebeard War arc.
    • Zoro however very much plays it straight. He only cries once, and that was when he was soundly beat by the man he set his life goal to defeat.
      • Zoro has no particular aversion to crying, whether himself or others, he's just a Stoic.
  • In Junjou Romantica, young Hiroki cries and scolds himself, saying that "boys shouldn't cry." He quickly changes that to "boys shouldn't let others see them cry."
  • Galaxy Express 999 has Tetsuo repeating this to himself after crying.
  • Ookiku Furikabutte—When Kanou goes all Hidden Eyes when losing the game, Oda wonders what he's thinking until he seems to wipe his face:
  • Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service. This trope is the reason why Numata wears Sunglasses at Night.
  • Duo Maxwell says this in Gundam Wing.
  • Kira Yamato of Gundam Seed is a very sensitive person, and has a number of tearful breakdowns, especially in the beginning. Mu La Flaga tells him to not cry, in an effort to get Kira to "man up" and find the strength he needs to survive. Kira tries, but Lacus later encourages him to cry if he needs to, as she feels that sacrificing one's feelings is not the way to gain more strength.
  • Digimon Xros Wars plays with this trope to establish Cutemon's character. At the beginning of episode 28, he reprimands Zenjirou for crying, claiming that "boys shouldn't cry." Towards the end of the episode, he must make the decision between staying with his parents (with whom he had recently reunited), or continuing to travel with Xros Heart. Choosing the latter, he tries his best to retain the notion of Men Don't Cry, but is convinced that it's okay to shed Manly Tears upon bidding farewell.
  • Sonic (Amazingly enough) cries at the very end of the second season finale of Sonic X, presumably over the inevitable prospect of leaving Chris. The viewer never sees either his eyes or face directly.
  • Subverted in Dragon Ball Z after Goku's second Heroic Sacrifice; Gohan and most of the other fighters (who are primarily men) are crying. Justified in that they might also count as Manly Tears, but YMMV.

Comics[edit | hide]

  • Preacher (Comic Book): Jesse Custer hasn't cried since his father was shot to death in front of him and the killer taunted him about it and is of the firm conviction that men should act manly and should under no circumstances cry. Tulip eventually calls him out on it, after he notices he is crying as he admits that some of his character traits may need to be re-thought.
  • In the Marvel Civil War series, the mobster Underworld brings up this trope and says that it's a bunch of bullshit. He says that when his dad died, he cried like a baby, but was no less a man after he had grieved than before.
  • Chuck Billy invoked the trope in one story every time something painful happened to him. (And he suffered a lot in that story) The last drop was when he saw his girlfriend with another boy. He couldn't help but cry then.

Film[edit | hide]

Subotai: "He is Conan. Cimmerian. He Will Not Cry, So I Cry for Him."

  • In Groundhog Day, after Rita says that the perfect man for her wouldn't be afraid of crying, Phil responds with something along the lines of "are we still talking about a man?" And he himself later completely subverts this trope when he bitterly weeps for being doomed to never save the life of a homeless old man in his endless loop through time.
  • Envoked in The Science of Sleep when Stéphanie is trying to calm Stéphane down but averted as he cries several times.
  • House of Flying Daggers: Averted to death, where all the men have crying scenes, sometimes twice.
  • Likewise, averted in Reservoir Dogs with two of the gangster characters who not only cry, but do it in a decidedly non-manly way.
  • And averted once again in Gladiator, which went with a full-on snot-fest when Maximus finds his wife and son murdered.
  • In Patton, Patton is the ultimate manly man. He, among other things, shoots at a dive bombing plane with just a pistol, while standing in its flight path. The soldier that he imfamously slapped, for having "shell shock", was crying the whole time he did so. Though in all fairness, Patton didn't slap the soldier because he was crying, but rather that he was in the presence of badly-injured soldiers in the medical tent while he did so.
  • Zig Zagged in The Wizard of Oz: The Tin Man (somehow) is capable of crying and is occasionally seen to do so, but is advised against it, since it causes him to rust and hence renders him immobile. The Cowardly Lion is male and is seen to weep out of fear, but he is not a "man" in a human sense, so it's allowed.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Subverted by Éomer when he finds his sister's body on the Pelennor Fields. Whereas in the books he had a "fey mood" overtake him, in the film he fell to the ground howling, sobbing his lungs out as he cradled Éowyn's body in his arms. Thankfully, Éowyn got better.
  • Boys Don't Cry: Not too surprisingly, a carrying theme.
  • In Cars, the chief of the Radiator Springs police department begins to shed Manly Tears when Lightning appears to left the town - he denies doing so when asked about it, stating that he's glad Lightning is gone. Averted with Red within the same film, who has a tendency to run- well, drive- off sobbing at the slightest provocation.

Literature[edit | hide]

Jane Andrews has been talking for a month about how glad she'd be when Mr. Phillips went away and she declared she'd never shed a tear. Well, she was worse than any of us and had to borrow a handkerchief from her brother—of course the boys didn't cry—because she hadn't brought one of her own, not expecting to need it.

There was no grief, no weeping, no mourning for a Gereon Nihtgane. Such behavior was a waste of time.

  • Sally Lockhart The Shadow in the North: Addressed in Philip Pullman's mystery novel. Upon Frederick's death Jim cries, while the narrator (so to speak) tells the reader about his feelings toward the action: "For Jim there was no shame about a man crying. There was only pride."
  • In John C. Wright's The Golden Transcedence, (after crying Tears of Joy at his reunion with his son), Helion declares that he will shed no outward tear over sending his son (his only child) into grave danger.
  • Marshak and Culbreath's Star Trek novel The Price of the Phoenix is based largely around the notion that Kirk, being some sort of galactic alpha-male, cannot, does not, and must not cry. Ever.
  • Subverted in The Inheritance Cycle. After having killed soldiers invading Carvahall, Roran is shown as being racked by sobs. Other strong characters are shown to cry as well.
  • In John C. Wright's Count To A Trillion, Menelaus's mother tells him this after he cries.
  • Subverted in the novelization of Return of the Jedi. Both in the scene where he tells Leia he's going to face his father, and later as Anakin Skywalker is dying, Luke weeps openly and without shame.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Why does nobody like Craig in Big Brother? Two reasons: 1) He's male. 2) He cried. Even if he's gay, he wasn't allowed to get away with it.
  • Discussed in Home Improvement when Tim's friend, father figure and boss, John Binford, died. Tim is no stranger to loved ones passing away since his dad died when he was 11 and he learned to cope by just continuing on like everything is normal. But he was caught off guard when Brad complimented him on not showing such girly feelings, which was not the message he wanted his boys to learn. After the funeral he admitted to Brad that he cried.

Jill: "He cried more than the widow."
Tim: "That's cause she didn't have to pay for parking!"

Music[edit | hide]

There’s just a little bit of dust in my eye
That’s from the path that you made when you said your goodbye
I’m not weeping because you won’t be here to hold my hand
For your information there’s an inflammation in my tear gland
I’m not upset because you left me this way
My eyes are just a little sweaty today

  • The Cure's "Boys Don't Cry" (the song; may also refer to LP of the same name, which was a US-only oddity not entirely unlike the UK LP Three Imaginary Boys but with different sequencing, plus a few songs either missing or added).
  • Brazilian song "Homem Não Chora", by Barão Vermelho.
  • Dee Clark's "Raindrops":

Rain keeps falling from my eyes
Oh no they can't be teardrops
For a man ain't supposed to cry

When a man cries,
His body shakes
And his eyeballs ache
And his mind vibrates,
But he doesn't make a sound.
Don't wanna wake the house, now.

  • "Dust In My Eyes" by Arcadian Days explores this.
  • Repeatedly subverted by the narrator in Tim McGraw's "Grown Men Don't Cry".
  • Polish song "Chłopaki nie płaczą" by T.Love (also a movie under the same name).
  • Deconstructed and defied in "Boys Don't Cry" by KCAT.

Boys boys don't cry
Men do 'cos they got nothing to hide
But boys don't, 'cos boys don't cry
Boys boys don't cry
They don't shed a tear because of pride

Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Baby Blues: In an early story arc, Daryl has gotten involved in a minor car accident that broke his abnormally-sized nose- cast and all. Talking about it with his wife Wanda, they both begin to get choked up over the idea of him not being there for his family:

Daryl: Don't start, you'll get me going, too...
Wanda: Don't be ashamed... it's okay for men to cry.
Daryl: I'm not ashamed... I just can't imagine blowing my nose through this thing!

  • Used heartbreakingly by Charlie Brown in a Peanuts comic:

Those dreams I have at night are going to drive me crazy. Last night I dreamed that little red-haired girl and I were eating lunch together...But she's gone...She's moved away, and I don't know where she lives, and she doesn't know I even exist, and I'll never see her again...and...I wish men cried..."

Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • Averted by ECW alum Tommy Dreamer, who cries freely when he feels like it and challenges that men who don't cry are not real men. However, sort of inverted in that the things he DOESN'T cry over (like getting his scalp pierced or set on fire or whatever else has happened to the guy in matches) are the same things that would send even the manliest man into a fit of uncontrollable whimpering. Physical pain isn't what gets most people to cry in the first place—it's the emotional buffeting that breaks people down.
  • Somewhat averted when Kurt Angle cried when receiving a gold medal in the Olympics, but then Played for Laughs whenever it's been called back to in his pro wrestling career. In addition to being mocked by Triple H, Angle has also turned into a crying mess in at least one (possibly more) in-ring kayfabe re-enactments of his medal ceremony which he has done to soothe his own ego.

Television[edit | hide]

  • Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars: Knocked gently at the end. Crichton, as his son begins to cry, says, "Hey, Crichtons don't cry. ...often. Or for very long."
  • Pushing Daisies': Played fairly straight in the second season opener (source of this page's quote). Even Ned, usually gentler and more empathic than Emerson (albeit deeply, deeply repressed), nods in agreement.
  • The Colbert Report: Stephen Colbert insists men don't cry, and as the manliest of men, he'd never break that rule.

It's never okay for men to cry! You know who cries? Girls. And little babies. And little baby girls. Man holds it in! Until his eyeballs swell to the size of baseballs, his throat feels like it's about to explode, and his gut just aches like there's a snake wrapped around his heart! That's why we die earlier, but it's worth it!

  • Sliders: Our heroes ended up on an Earth where women were the superior gender. Professor Arturo loudly voices his disdain, and as a result ends up in a campaign to become mayor of San Francisco. He's later convinced that this is a bad idea, and tries to throw his campaign by "pulling a Muskie", referencing Edmund Muskie from above, and breaks into tears at a debate. In a subversion, the tactic gains him an enormous sympathy vote.
  • Lost:
    • Generally averted by the cast, most notably Jack, who frequently cry without there being anything made of it.
    • Probably justified in that the characters have crashed on a desert island and go through some pretty rough stuff, and the many rivers of freely flowing angst that make up everyone's backstories can only add to reasons someone might want to shed a tear.
  • M*A*S*H averted this nicely, showing several of the male characters (and hardass Margret Houlihan) to be weeping or out right sobbing at different times in the show. The most famous example would be during the movie/finale when Hawkeye reveals why he's been in a mental hospital the whole episode up to that point.
  • Played straight with The Thick of It's alpha male, Malcolm Tucker. In series three there are several moments where Malcolm sounds like he's about to burst into tears, but he never does... not on screen, at least. In episode eight we see him with red-rimmed eyes but as Magnificent Bastards don't cry we never see the crying itself.
  • Extreme Makeover: Home Edition: Averted in , where it's not uncommon to see a man cry as much as a woman.
  • Glenn Beck is awfully fond of averting this "for the sake of [his] country" or some such.
  • Averted on The X-Files with Mulder, who is seen crying at many points in the series. As a whole, he is more likely to show emotion of any kind than his stoic female partner, Scully. This was done quite deliberately on the part of the creator.
  • Community: Despite stating "guy's I never cry", Once Per Episode Troy breaksdown.
  • In the Kamen Rider Fourze movie Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Fourze & OOO: Movie War Megamax, Gentarou (the titular Fourze) explicably states that there's only two times a man should cry - losing his wallet and getting dumped. He says this as he's crying because he found out the girl he fell in love with was an alien and may not return those feelings. He gets over himself when he realizes that she never said anything about not feeling the same. [[spoiler:When he gets the chance, it's stolen from him and he ends up crying in anguish.
    • It should be noted that he is the primary source of Manly Tears and Inelegant Blubbering in the show. Ironic, isn't it?

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Averted in the Metal Gear Solid games, where Otacon is contractually obliged to undergo at least one Tear Jerker per game, and is quite open about it.
    • Perhaps even examined in the first Metal Gear Solid, where Snake, after watching Otacon cry for a while, places Wolf's handkerchief over her face. His rationale is that he doesn't need a handkerchief, having 'no more tears left to shed' - both showing that he only got to the point where he can't cry through massive emotional torture and making him implicitly envious of Otacon's ability to show emotion in that way.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core subverts this with a quote in one of the title screens:

Men cry not for themselves, but for their comrades.

    • Zack does indeed cry when his mentor dies. Likewise, Cloud is in the end probably in tears when Zack dies, though it's hard to tell due to the rain.
  • Painfully averted in Gears of War 2, when Dom finds his wife...or what she has degraded to, thanks to Locust torture. It doesn't get any better when he is forced to euthanize her.
  • In .hack//G.U. both Alkaid and Shino tell Haseo not to cry when they're pk'd and fall into comas because "Boys don't cry".
  • The Kingdom Hearts series averts this, as Sora, Roxas, Terra and Master Eraqus will all tell you.
  • Narrowly averted in Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 4: The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood, when Guybrush feels so deeply grieved at the death of Morgan LeFlay that it's almost like he is silently weeping, though his Manly Tears may be invisible.
  • In Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, this takes the form "A gentleman never makes a scene in public." Despite this, both Layton and Luke each cry at one point. For the former the reason is his love having to leave to die and for the latter having to leave Layton because his family is moving away.

Webcomics[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In the South Park episode "Scott Tenorman Must Die" the eponymous character's favorite band, Radiohead, calls him a "little crybaby" for crying over the deaths of his parents. To be fair, they didn't know about that; they thought he was crying just because he was dying from cancer.
  • Kim Possible: Often referenced by Ron Stoppable, whenever he's about to cry, who says "I have something in my eye."
  • Completely averted in Avatar: The Last Airbender. The series isn't shy about letting the male characters weep in moments of intense emotion. Not just any men, either: Iroh, one of the most powerful, Badass characters in the series, is unafraid to weep openly many times, once when mourning his lost son, and again when Zuko apologizes to him in the finale. Zuko himself is not considered unmanly either for crying, and does so many times without anybody thinking to say he's not supposed to. Aang and Sokka also get their moments, and nobody calls them unmanly for it either.
    • Also averted in the sequel, where Bolin breaks out into full-on Inelegant Blubbering when he sees his crush Korra kissing his brother Mako, just when he was bringing her roses.
  • Transformers Animated: In the pilot miniseries, Sari uses tears to convince the Autobots to follow her plan. When Bulkhead says her "eyes are leaking", she patiently explains the concept of crying, but the Autobots neither confirm or deny whether this is also part of their emotional range. Later in the series, we hear Blackarachnia sobbing, and see Wreck-Gar tear up. At another point, Bulkhead repeats the "leaking eyes" line when Sari cries, but by then it may have been just an inside joke between them.
    • Wreck-Gar was only one day old at the time. It's possible that Cybertronians have an on/off switch for their tear ducts to make sure they're never caught off guard in public. The medical term for this would be "Lucky Bastards".
  • Chowder: Chowder has been shown crying a couple times in the past, but also provides a rather good quote:

Panini: Chowder, are you crying?
Chowder: No! Only girls cry. Men weep!

  • The Smurfs: The very manly Hefty Smurf chides his fellow Smurf Weepy for being a sissy for cying in one episode, but at the end of it even he is found crying.
  • Metalocalypse: Pickles tells Toki "Admitting sadness makes you gay."
  • Inverted on Jimmy Two-Shoes, when Heloise goes Sweet Polly Oliver to find out about Jimmy and Beezy's list of "Secret Guy Stuff", one of them is crying at a sad movie. When she expresses disbelief that this is guy stuff, they respond "Heloise never lets us cry...unless it's from pain."
  • On Family Guy Peter accidentally crashes his boat into a bar mitzvah and kills the clown hired for entertainment. The party boy looks on in horror and begins to cry, only for his father to slap him in the back of the head and remind him that he's supposed to be a man now.

Theatre[edit | hide]

  • In the stage play Lost in Yonkers, Grandma tells her grandsons that "boys of ten shouldn't cry" and goes into a list of seemingly heart-wrenching circumstances which apparently did not move her, claiming to be "made of steel".
  • In The Merchant of Venice Launcelot, the clown, tries to unman his dad by tricking him into crying ("Now will I raise the waters!") and, later, accuses himself of weakness for weeping as he says goodbye to Jessica: "But adieu! These foolish drops do something drown my manly spirit." The more serious characters in the play (Shylock and Antonio) are prone to Manly Tears.
  • As You Like It plays with this trope: Rosalind, in male disguise, is determined not to "disgrace [her] man's apparel, and to cry like a woman" after she and her cousin Celia are half-dead from walking all day. Mischeviously, she adds, "I must comfort the weaker vessel," refering to Celia. Later in the play, there's an Ironic Echo:

Rosalind: Never talk to me; I will weep.
Celia: Do, I prithee, but yet have the grace to consider that tears do not become a man.

    • This is contrasted by several references to the (actual) guys in the play shedding Manly Tears, most notably Orlando and his brother, Oliver, after they reconcile offstage.

Web Original[edit | hide]

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Unfortunately, despite the implications this can bring about, there actually is a social stigma related to men crying in public, or if they are simply caught crying in front of the wrong person.