Tender Tears

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Once, indeed, the Tin Woodman stepped upon a beetle that was crawling along the road, and killed the poor little thing. This made the Tin Woodman very unhappy, for he was always careful not to hurt any living creature; and as he walked along he wept several tears of sorrow and regret.

Sometimes tears are not a sign of weakness. Even when they flow easily and often...

Opposite Manly Tears are Tender Tears, where the character weeps more than most people because of the exquisite tenderness of her heart. More frequent for women than for men.

Also opposed to Water Works where the character cries because he is weak. Tender Tears result from someone else's misfortune. If they feel any guilt over the situation — reasonably or unreasonably -- Tears of Remorse will also occur.

Seldom a Single Tear, but it's possible.

A favorite trope of the Romantic movement, who regarded it as a mark of exquisite sensibility. Scorning them—such as characterizing them as Water Works—is a mark of a callous and hard-hearted soul; even those who do not cry themselves can appreciate Tender Tears. Indeed, the tender character may explain the cause of the tears with such poignancy as to inspire Manly Tears in less tender characters.

Super-Trope of He Will Not Cry, So I Cry for Him and Tears of Joy.

Contrast Cry Cute, where crying makes a normally unsympathetic character more likable -- Tender Tears is part of a consistent sensitive character.

Examples of Tender Tears include:

Anime and Manga

  • While it's usually most associated with Manly Tears, Fist of the North Star is FULL of characters who shed these to show the sensitivity and kindness of their hearts; the most prominent being Kenshiro and Raoh. The latter case denotes Raoh as a Noble Demon rather than a Complete Monster.
  • The trait of tender compassion has been passed down the Armstrong line for generations!
    • Van Hohenheim sheds tears of sorrow on more than one occasion, as well.
  • Tohru from Fruits Basket.
  • Vash from Trigun. He has a few Manly Tears moments, but he cries quite a bit as a sign of sensitivity and empathy to other people's sufferings.
    • Even when said suffering happens to be a completely made up story.
  • Ryoga from Ranma ½ is physically Made of Iron, but emotionally... not so much. He's frequently seen bursting into tears, usually over his own plentiful misfortune and loneliness, but he also cries over Ranma after the latter has lost all of his strength and gets soundly defeated in battle. He also later cries when he realizes he can't bring himself to truly attack Ranma in his weakened state, even though it's necessary for Ranma to learn a technique that will help him get his strength back.
  • Kuma from Afro Samurai can't stop crying, even though he is still a Badass samurai.
  • Johann from Monster can shed the most incredible Tender Tears known to man. They're fake, of course. Probably.
  • Akio from Revolutionary Girl Utena sheds a few tears when he talks about how much suffering Anthy had to go through just because she wanted to protect him. Given this is from the same man who has raped her multiple times, they're obviously fake.
  • In contrast to his image, and what he wants you to believe, Franky from "One Piece" embodies this trope. Because he's just a big, metal plated, perverted, delinquent, softie.
  • Misaki from Junjou Romantica. In the first episode he starts crying because his brother Takahiro insensitively announces his engagement to Akihiko who is in love with him (which Takahiro is unaware of). And this after Akihiko molested Misaki when he found out about his feelings for his brother, the boy is definitely sensitive.
  • Subverted in Ouran High School Host Club. We see Hikaru, Kaoru, Honey, and Tamaki are all able to cry on cue... until Haruhi finds they're using eye-drops. It's played straight in Tamaki's case, though—he doesn't need eye-drops to get the tears flowing.
  • From A Certain Scientific Railgun, Kiyama-sensei gets these going after the Child Errors she spent most of her screen time trying to help finally wake up. It is quite a sight.
  • Allen Walker of D.Gray-man. Also Lenalee Lee, whenever any of her Nakama die. D.Gray-man being the series it is, however, it's hard to say if the same would still be true in less traumatic circumstances.
  • Gau from Nabari no Ou cries when he meets Raikou for the first time, when Raikou tells him about his past, when he gets slashed by Raikou, when he intervenes in Raikou and Yukimi's fight, when he calls Yukimi on the cellphone, when Raikou gets stabbed, etc, etc...
  • The tears flow quickly and strongly in Battle Royale from beginning to end. Usually they're tender tears. Occasionally Manly Tears, as well.
  • The cyborgs of Gunslinger Girl have a habit of crying in their sleep, as noted by the Agency doctors. Especially tragic as the audience knows why they cry, but the girls don't and can't remember their dreams so don't understand why they feel sad on waking up.

Claes: "Have you ever been tremendously sad, but the tears won't come out?"
Jean: "Sure... it 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."

  • In Wild Rock, Yuuen gets these, which reinforce the fact he is just not a manly man like the others.
  • Berserk being...Berserk manages to take tender tears and twist them in a disturbing manner when Slan of the Godhand weeps them while Griffith/Femto rapes Casca. She apparently thought the scene was very beautiful.
  • In Tsukigasa, Azuma cries a few. They are somewhat comical considering his stated goal is to become more manly and these are definitely not Manly Tears.
  • In One Piece, while several characters open the Ocular Gushers or Manly Tears, Franky easily cries more often than anyone else on the crew, and gets emotional at just about any touching story he hears (which is how he ended up helping the Straw Hats, who used to be enemies in the first place). He never admits it, though.
  • Arguably, Kahlua from Rosario + Vampire fits here. Everytime she cries, it's because the person standing in front of her is about to be killed by her own hands.


  • The Tin Man from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
  • In The Last Battle, Lucy cries over the end of Narnia while all the rest are gladly following Aslan. Tirian backs her up, and asserts that crying over it is not unmanly.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel The Flight of the Eisenstein, Keeler cries over the news they brought Dorn; they have broken a brother's heart.
    • In another of his 40K novels, Faith & Fire, Verity stops counting how many times she administered last rites when she realized the number would make her cry.
  • Dante (the character) does this often in Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. He laments at the misfortune of those condemned to the various circles of hell.
  • Lucie Manette sheds these all the time in A Tale of Two Cities. Meant to show off her great compassion and sensitivity - and in her credit, these tears are rarely for herself.
  • The Prioress weeps most piteously for her little dogs in The Canterbury Tales if any are hurt - though she doesn't seem to care so much about the poor.
  • In both Angela's Ashes and Tis, Frank McCourt's family tells him "his bladder must be near to his eye" because of how easily he tears up.
  • Fitz, from the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, doesn't cry terribly often, but if his mum is Brainwashed and Crazy and trying to kill him, he knows or strongly suspects one of his friends is dead, etc., he is going to cry about it. Two of the Doctor's female companions have stood by and kept a stiff upper lip about the matter while Fitz wept over the fact the Doctor seemed to be dead. He's generally surprisingly sensitive for a grown man—the thought of worms getting acid-rained on upsets him a little.
  • Everybody in The Tale of Genji.
  • King Arthur and his knights in various media, especially the old stuff. Even more Tears of Remorse and a lot of Tears of Joy. And Malory has Gawain and Arthur do two rounds of synchronized swooning out of pure sorrow after Lancelot kills Gaheris and Gawain, who were on his side, while rescuing Guinevere.
  • In Adrian Tchaikovsky's Dragonfly Falling, Che over Totho.
  • In The Bible Jesus goes to the grave of his dear friend Lazarus and meets with his sister Martha who is in mourning and asking Jesus why he didn't come to help her brother sooner. Martha proclaims that had Jesus arrived days earlier then he could have healed him and saved his life with his miracles, and Jesus seeing this is deeply moved by Martha's plight and the shortest sentence of the entire Bible states simply, "Jesus wept." Jesus loved Lazarus and he is deeply saddened that death has such tyranny over Mankind, but he then proclaims to Martha that since he is the Son of the Living God and the Messiah anyone who believes in him yet shall he die he shall still live. Then in one of the greatest miracles in the Bible Jesus calls forth to Lazarus to rise and he comes back to life. In his humanity Jesus wept for Lazarus and in his divinity he rose him from the dead.
  • It really depends on the author, but there are still a number of times in the Star Wars Expanded Universe that Luke Skywalker cries openly. Maybe the most notable examples are the times in the Return of the Jedi Novelization. There's also a line in the Rebel Force series that implies he cries when some Imperials die horribly.


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

    • And in Hamlet the player weeping for Hecuba appears to Hamlet as his Foil while he dillydallys about his own father's death.

Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? and all for nothing!
For Hecuba!
What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
That he should weep for her? What would he do,
Had he the motive and the cue for passion
That I have? He would drown the stage with tears
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,

    • Miranda in The Tempest, after the shipwreck. Prospero assures her:

Wipe thou thine eyes; have comfort.
The direful spectacle of the wreck, which touch'd
The very virtue of compassion in thee,
I have with such provision in mine art
So safely ordered that there is no soul--
No, not so much perdition as an hair
Betid to any creature in the vessel

Video Games

Web Comics

Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.'

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Appears in an episode of She-Ra, where Tender Tears are the only thing that will cure Hordak of a magical poison.
  • Male version: Dukey from Johnny Test is kind of prone to this seeing as how he cried for nearly an entire episode cause Johnny forgot his birthday.
  • Male version: Shifty Dingo from Blinky Bill. Dear lord, Shifty Dingo.