crying meme

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The many faces of tears: A deep dive into iconic crying memes

Among the vast world of memes, crying memes hold a special place, encapsulating a combination of deep emotion—and usually laughter.


Kahron Spearman


Posted on Nov 1, 2023   Updated on Nov 8, 2023, 10:32 am CST

In the digital age, memes are more than mere internet fads. They are modern expressions of culture, sentiment, and shared experience. Among the vast world of memes, crying memes hold a special place, encapsulating a combination of deep emotion—and usually laughter. Let’s unpack some of the most recognizable crying memes, giving each the attention its due.

WWE’s Vince McMahon’s tearful tribute


Every meme begins with a moment, and for Vince McMahon, co-founder and former CEO of WWE, that moment was deeply personal. McMahon’s teary-eyed visage captured during a 2020 documentary quickly gained internet momentum, turning the mogul into an unexpected meme icon.


McMahon’s tears weren’t for show. The documentary, focusing on WWE legend The Undertaker, saw McMahon discussing the significant influence The Undertaker had on both his personal life and the WWE organization. The heartfelt sentiment behind the meme adds another layer to its popularity.

@drstarrk I miss 2017-2018 Fortnite, playing with boys were a special time. #fyp #foryoupage #fortnite #gaming #fortnitechapter1 #fortnitenostalgia #fortnitememes #wwe #vincemcmahon #cryingmeme #drstarrk ♬ original sound – DrStarrk


This meme’s charm is its versatility. Its most famous format on platforms like TikTok and Twitter is the “Dad, what was it like?” iteration, using McMahon’s emotional state to reflect on past experiences. Gamers have used it to reflect on their Fortnite days, and others have utilized it for nostalgic childhood memories.

The legacy of crying Michael Jordan


A defining moment in the annals of meme history, which the Daily Dot has written about, is a meme based on the moment Michael Jordan became teary-eyed during his 2009 Hall of Fame induction speech. Known for his steely resolve on the basketball court, this rare glimpse into his vulnerable side became the basis for the “Crying Michael Jordan” meme, per Know Your Meme.

Interestingly, Michael Jordan, ever the good sport, remains light-hearted about the meme’s global proliferation, allowing its humorous use as long as no commercial gains are involved.

@ahoraonuncaespn #otd 10 years ago, the #jordan crying meme was born. #overdramatic #featureme ♬ My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme from "Titanic") – Céline Dion


The meme serves as the internet’s go-to symbol for sadness and disappointment, especially in the context of sports. When a team loses a championship or a player misses a crucial shot, Jordan’s tear-streaked face aptly expresses the collective despair of fans.

Rocky Lockridge’s heartfelt moment in ‘Best Cry Ever’


Beyond the world of sports and entertainment, the meme-verse also loves to tap into reality TV. Former boxer Rocky Lockridge’s emotional breakdown on A&E’s reality show, Intervention, turned into the “Best Cry Ever” meme, with Rocky’s raw emotion striking a chord with viewers.

@joutvgaming Cry Original Meme #Crying #Meme #MLBB ♬ original sound – JouTVGaming


The meme’s backstory is as poignant as the meme itself. Lockridge’s life, riddled by addiction and personal strife, was a rollercoaster journey. While the meme world celebrated his unique cry, Lockridge, unfortunately, succumbed to health complications in 2019.


The distinctive sound of Lockridge’s cry was touching and unexpected, leading to many parodies, remixes, and reinterpretations on YouTube and beyond.

The ever-evolving “Crying Wojak”


Starting its journey as a 2014 comic, the sometimes-problematic “Frustrated Wojak” became an instant hit, representing feelings of sadness and anger.

@decayingmatter i just wanna be happy #vent #ventpost #wojakmemes #pain #painhub #fyp #fypシ #facebookmemes #foryoupage #foryou ♬ original sound – 👿


The meme shines in its ability to communicate profound frustration and disappointment. Its adaptability has led to mash-ups with other meme stalwarts, especially with Pepe and Wojak artworks that provide a canvas for artists to depict contrasting emotions.


Wojak’s continuing evolution is a testament to its lasting appeal. “Masked Crying Wojak” showcases the duality of external façades and inner turmoil, while “Pink Wojak” turns the volume up on frustration, embodying extreme stress and anguish.

‘Thank God for My Reefer’ and the power of overreaction


Laughter, they say, is the best medicine, and this 2016 meme offers it in abundance. The meme started with a video of a man crying and coughing after smoking a blunt, and it showcases a humorous exaggeration of marijuana’s effects.

@mememondayyy Cry #sad #memes #funnyvideos #fypシ ♬ nhạc nền – Đăng video vớ vẩn


The original video, shared by a Facebook user, humorously insinuated that the man’s tears were due to the unparalleled quality of the marijuana he consumed. Whether genuine or played up for the camera, the man’s reaction touched a chord with audiences.


The video’s comedic exaggeration turned it into a meme juggernaut. It inspired remixes, parodies, and the ‘How old is’ Google searches meme format, where a screencap of the man’s tearful face became synonymous with over-the-top reactions.

Dawson’s emotional breakdown


The late 90s and early 2000s bore witness to the teen drama, “Dawson’s Creek.” Among a myriad of poignant moments, one scene in the season three finale “True Love” has stood the test of time. Dawson, played by James Van Der Beek, finds himself in an emotional whirlwind, telling Joey (Katie Holmes) to pursue a relationship with their mutual friend, Pacey, and Dawson’s tearful plea, “Just go,” forever became immortalized in meme history.

@cinema_steven #dawsonscreek #cry #fyp #tvscenes #meme ♬ original sound – Cinema Steven


By December 2006, YouTuber notdatbigyet transformed the dramatic scene into internet gold by posting “Dawson’s Crying Face.” The close-up of Dawson’s tear-stricken face swiftly became a digital shorthand for exaggerated sorrow or pity, especially in sarcastic contexts.

The Evolution

The meme’s ubiquity led to various interviews with James Van Der Beek about the unforgettable crying scene. In a 2012 conversation with the Huffington Post, Van Der Beek shed light on the scene’s spontaneity, stating that it was a sincere portrayal that was unscripted. He expressed surprise at the emotional depth he managed to bring to the scene. More endearingly, Van Der Beek revealed his amusement at the meme, finding humor in how a sincere performance morphed into a tool for online mockery.

The emergence of “Crying Tyrese”


On November 1st, 2017, actor and recording artist Tyrese Gibson uploaded a tearful video discussing his ongoing custody battle for his daughter. Although the video was later removed, its ripple effect was undeniable, earning it the moniker “Crying Tyrese” or “Cryrese.”


“Crying Tyrese” swiftly evolved from a genuine heartfelt moment into a reaction meme at the heart of various jokes. The meme even got a musical treatment with DJ Suede the Remix God crafting a track titled “I Just Want My Baby,” just two days after Tyrese posted the video.

Tyrese’s Response

A couple of months after the original video’s release, Tyrese showed that he had a great sense of humor about the meme. On December 28th, 2017, he himself posted one of the “Cryrese” memes. His caption playfully acknowledged the comedic twist to his emotional video, noting how he too would have participated in the joke had he not been the subject of the meme. This candid post was well-received, fetching over 70,000 likes in less than two years


Crying memes, each with its unique origin and narrative, have transcended their initial contexts to become symbols of a wide range of emotions. While humor and relatability remain their mainstays, the stories behind them give them depth and richness.

In the vast digital ocean of memes, these tear-filled images stand out as a testament to their enduring appeal and capacity to connect millions in shared sentiment. They are a gentle reminder that amid laughter and jest, there’s always room for a little tearful introspection.

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*First Published: Nov 1, 2023, 4:11 pm CDT