Tears of Remorse

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
They shall look on him whom they have thrust through, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a first-born.
The Bible, Zechariah 12:10

Perhaps you have had a Heel Realization, perhaps you are Dying as Yourself and just learned the enormity of your deeds, perhaps you have learned that the deed you sought Revenge for was fully justified, but you have already killed the character, perhaps you have failed, perhaps a character has died, and you can never make reparation for something you did (perhaps contributing to the death, or perhaps not) -- and there is nothing for it but to cry your eyes out, it was so horrible. (Or shed a Single Tear.)

A Sub-Trope of My God, What Have I Done?. Common in Villainous BSOD—though Ignored Epiphany can still ensue. Fighting From the Inside may evince these, even illogically, if the character could not have prevented the control.

May be a form of Manly Tears. Tender Tears combine when they are grief-stricken by minor injuries to others. Note that crying because you didn't get away with it is Water Works.

Contrast Tears of Joy.

Examples of Tears of Remorse include:

Anime & Manga

  • Uchiha Itachi cries after Sasuke pursues him after Itachi was forced to kill the clan.
    • Gaara also cried a single tear after he realized that Sasuke was never gonna stop obsessing over revenge/darkness like he used to and that he was forced to fight him.
  • Magical Project S: Misao cries when she and Sasami discover that she is Pixy Misa.
  • Vegeta of all people does this in Dragonball Z when he selfdestructs to try to kill Majin Buu. Of course, being Dragon Ball, it barely slows Buu down.
    • Buu took several minutes to regenerate from that one. That's far more damage than what anyone short of Vegetto or Gohan can do to him.
  • Lelouch from Code Geass does this after he loses control of his Evil Eye and accidentally forces his beloved half-sister to commit genocide, and has to shoot her to stop the bloody rampage.
  • Keiichi from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni combines this with Tears of Fear and Berserker Tears in the first arc, and then just does this one in the sixth arc after remembering the incident that caused him to do this the first time from a slightly different point of view. And actually does it a second time in the sixth arc, when Rena, of all people, gives him a Hannibal Lecture about his Dark and Troubled Past.
    • The sixth arc is full of this, actually (hence why it's called the Atonement Chapter). Rena does this there too.
    • Towards the end of Meakashi-hen (which is right before the Atonement Chapter), Shion does this combined with Dying as Yourself, at least in the anime adaption.
  • Squad from One Piece does this after he betrayed Whitebeard and stabbed him in the chest. When he realizes that the Marines played him like a fiddle, and that Whitebeard still considers him a "son", Squad breaks down sobbing.
  • Lucy from Elfen Lied quite a few times, most notably from murdering her love interest Kouta's family in front of him in a jealous fit.
  • Digimon Adventure 02 has former Big Bad Ken Ichijoji who cries upon realising he's been sadistically torturing and killing living beings as catharsism for his The Unfavourite and Dead Big Brother complexes without realising they were sentient. Plus there are the real kids who's life he's been making a misery with his actions...
  • A brief glimpse of Guts with his face fallen and tears in his eyes stops him from being a Villain Protagonist, and adds a lot more depth to (and questions about) his character.
  • Mikael in the final episode of Tenshi ni Narumon upon realizing what his actions have led to, broke into tears.
  • Shizuru, after being resurrected in My-HiME. Considering her usually calm demeanor, this comes off as quite shocking.
  • Keima from The World God Only Knows shows these after Kanon is attacked by vintage.
  • Zeref from Fairy Tail does this whenever he kills anything. It makes it a little hard to take the rest of the cast seriously when they talk about how he's pure evil.
  • Kahlua from Rosario + Vampire might as well be the codifier, as everytime she weeps, it's because she's about to kill somebody, despite her truly gentle nature.
  • In Ginga Densetsu Weed, after being offered to heal their wounds in the hot spring by Gin, three of Hougen's generals (Baruge, Bat, and Kite) start regretting what they have done and cried tears of remorse, promising to never follow Hougen ever again.
  • This is Played for Laughs in Daily Lives of High School Boys; when Habara frequently cries whenever her past as the Enfant Terrible-level bully "Archdemon" was brought up.

Comic Books

  • In Booster Gold, at Blue Beetle's funeral, what finally has Booster in tears is that he stood up to eulogize him, and couldn't speak. What sort of friend can't pay tribute Due to the Dead? When Wonder Woman tries to console him, Booster speaks bitterly of how he failed Blue Beetle, not having been there to help him.

Film -- Live Action

  • In The Abyss, the most emotional character in the entire sequence of Lindsey Brigman's drowning and resuscitation, besides Bud, is "One Night". Earlier in the film, she said and thought some rather nasty things about Lindsey. Obviously her probably dying brought out a great deal of regret; she was the only one besides Bud (Lindsey's husband) to openly have an emotional breakdown.
  • John Woo's The Killer has more than one scene of Chow Yun-Fat's Hitman with a Heart shedding Tears of Remorse.
  • Kathryn at the end of Cruel Intentions, once she is exposed as the manipulative bitch she is and, upon reading about herself in Sebastian's published journal, she finally seems to grasp how messed up a person she is.
  • The newly-forged Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith, while massacring a roomful of untrained kids in the Jedi Temple and after slaughtering a roomful of surrendering Trade Federation leaders and their bodyguards.
  • In a daydream sequence from A Christmas Story, Ralphie's parents shed these after they find out that the cause of Ralphie's blindness was from a bar of soap used to wash out his mouth when he said the "F-dash-dash-dash word."
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine would have Kayla pulling this when the titular character muses the folktale that he is just a fool who got played due to the fact that she is blackmailed into working for Stryker.


  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel False Gods, when Horus mortally wounds Temba, Temba recovers from the Chaos taint, realizes the scale of his betrayal, and sobs.
  • In James Swallow's Deus Sanguinius, Sachiel, realizing the Chaos taint, weeps partly from remorse—partly because Stele had made a fool of him. Arkio wails My God, What Have I Done?, but is not clearly crying when he is freed from taint.
  • Ian in An Echo in the Bone (Outlander series) after he kills Mrs. Bugg accidentally
  • In Graham McNeill's Ultramarines novel Dead Sky, Black Sun, after Uriel has learned that Pasanius's augemtic arm was tainted, and he knew it, he finally has a chance to confront Pasanius over it. Pasanius sobs as he says how could he have told Uriel that he was tainted, unclean.
    • In The Killing Ground, the gravely wounded Lord of the Unfleshed weeps with horror at the killing he and the other Unfleshed did while their minds were controlled; Uriel comforts him before the Mercy Kill.
  • In L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the Tin Woodman cries because he stepped on a beetle and killed it. He ends up rusting from all the tears and Dorothy has to oil his joints so he can move again.
  • William Shakespeare's Sonnet 34

The offender's sorrow lends but weak relief
To him that bears the strong offence's cross.
Ah! but those tears are pearl which thy love sheds,
And they are rich and ransom all ill deeds.

  • An example brought on by less-than-heinous behavior in the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Half Life: due to a Freaky Friday/Personality Swap situation, the Doctor learns just how scared his companion Fitz is most of the time while traveling with him, and is brought to tears. He doesn't usually cry.
  • In Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games, after Katniss shoots the Gamemakers' pig and stalks off insultingly, she sobs over the low score they will give her—breaking her promise to really try to survive—and the possibility they will punish her mother and sister for it.
  • In Dante's Divine Comedy, in the first few cantos of Purgatorio, a soldier mentioned had been a brutal, bloody bastard his whole life, but when struck down in battle, he cried a Single Tear of repentance, which is enough to send him to Purgatory instead of Hell.
  • In Barbara Hambly's Blood Maidens, Lydia remembers how a companion died, feels guilt, and tears start to her eyes.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero in Hell, Miranda's realization of My God, What Have I Done? has her eyes welling up and she has to fight to suppress it rather than cry in front of the servants.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, The Hound literally sobs when he recounts not interfering when the kingsguard beat Sansa, threatening her with a knife, and trying to rape her, to her younger sister. However, it's also implied that he might regret not having raped her, although he may have just said that to piss of the sister.
  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: Alexis Thorne in Lethal Justice says that Roland Sullivan was apparently shedding these kind of tears at her trial, after he helped Arden Gillespie frame Alexis. However, Alexis knows that Roland must have had Ignored Epiphany afterwards, so she has little sympathy for him.
  • The title character of the Rissa Kerguelen series by F.M. Busby is, though petite, a highly-trained Badass, capable of defeating a larger, stronger, meaner person in unarmed combat. But when she kills someone, no matter how vile the other was and how necessary his/her death, Rissa will, sooner or later, break down in tears over it.

Live Action TV

  • Andrew in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Storyteller". After several attempts to justify the murder of Jonathan, he breaks down crying as he realizes he killed his only true friend in cold blood.
  • Faith in Angel episode "Five by Five". She agrees to take assassination contract to Angel, but keeps giving him openings he doesn't use. Eventually she's rendered sobbing wreck, revealing that she was trying to get Angel to kill her in order to stop her past crimes from haunting her.
  • Criminal Minds offers us some examples. For example, in "Mosley Lane", as he's spreading the ashes of a boy his wife has cremated alive, Roger Roycewood tells a woman in the graveyard that he likes to think to roses as the souls of forgotten people. Although he doesn't acutally shed tears, his voice breaks and he sniffs. Then he gets back to his role as accomplice of the Monster of the Week.
  • In an episode of the Fantasy Island remake Secret Self, a man's fantasy is to have no conscious so he could be the greatest business man. Over the course of the episode, he slowly becomes more demonic, paranoid he will lose it so he trusts no one until he is alone in his office when his dog he scared away earlier returns. With this act of kindness, he sheds a tear, saving his soul.
  • A major point in the Merlin episode 'Beauty and the Beast'. Uther must cry tears of true remorse to break the troll enchantment. To accomplish this, Arthur takes a potion that makes him appear dead. Cue frantic, remorseful, crying Uther.


  • Thomas Light has this during Funeral for a son, when he realizes He sent his son off to fight a battle he knew in his heart was unwinnable.



I never kill'd a mouse, nor hurt a fly:
I trod upon a worm against my will,
But I wept for it.


Video Games

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

Web Comics


Sizemore, you weep for those you have ended. I love you for that.


Western Animation

Real Life

  • Helen Keller on the day she learned to communicate.

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

      • Did she get the doll fixed? (As in she asked a family member to attempt to fix it.)