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When mere tears simply aren't enough to indicate how melodramatically melancholy a character is, they can show just how upset they are by clenching the center of a handkerchief in their teeth, gripping the rest of it in one fist, and stretching it tightly as they weep. Sometimes, when things go completely south, the character may inadvertently tear the center right out of the handkerchief, the torn patch of cloth dangling from their teeth like a dog that's just taken a bite out of the mailman's backside.

Almost always an indicator of over-the-top comedic levels of sadness. Almost always reserved for cute female characters. This can, however, rarely occur in the chivalrous guy of the group.

Absolutely nothing to do with "biting the pillow", though it may be related to another sort of overacting.

Examples of Biting the Handkerchief include:

Anime & Manga

  • Nishizawa in Hayate the Combat Butler upon dropping her food.
  • In the promo short-short Mai-HiME vs. Mai-Otome, Mai is shown with tears like waterfalls and biting a handkerchief as she bemoans the monsters that she had to face in her series.
  • Usagi resorts to this in the image above from the Sailor Moon Super S movie, when engaged in a discussion with Mamoru about his feelings for Chibi-Usa.
  • Seen a couple of times in Excel Saga as well.
  • In Kimi ni Todoke, Chizu often bites onto one whenever someone does something overly emotional.
  • Mill does this in Maze Megaburst Space.
  • Both Arumi and her father do it in the "War" episode of Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai.
  • Ranma One Half
    • Kodachi does this from time to time.
    • So does Girl-type Ranma. Subverted in that, in both cases, it's a deliberate ploy to make someone else feel horribly guilty or uncomfortable. In Ranma's case, it's also used at times for a more seductive type of manipulation.
    • Not to mention Tsubasa, a crossdressing guy who acts the part of a cute girl to the hilt.
  • In SHUFFLE!, a bizarre, unnamed man (known only as the "Handkerchief Man") occasionally makes an appearance in the background doing this after the harem lead narrowly avoids being annihilated by the girls' fan clubs. No other characters notice him until the last episode.
  • Keiko plots to make Megumi bite her handkerchief in Tenshi na Konamaiki.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh
    • Done on occasion by the extremely effeminate Professor Chronos De Mediciz/Dr. Vellion Crowler in Yu-Gi-Oh GX.
    • And also by Vivian Wong when Rebecca trounces her in the original show.
  • Nana in Bokura ga Ita, the various times her abusive boyfriend makes her cry.
  • Miyu did this in the Cinderella episode of Daa Daa Daa, and Christine and other fans of the prince Kanata bit their hankies and wept during a special dance for the prince and his chosen girl.
  • When Ohno in Genshiken has her spying on a new club member unknowingly thwarted by Saki, she pulls down and bites on a surgical mask that she had been using to hide her face.
  • Exaggerated in Puni Puni Poemi: Futaba nearly rips the handkerchief in two.
  • Pokémon
  • Jun'iku of Koihime Musou can be relied on to do this any time Sousou is paying attention to a woman other than her.
  • One Piece
    • Sanji is seen doing this when "his" precious Nami-san gets terribly ill. Complete with snivelling and fat tear drops.
    • As about half of the crew gets spirited away by a Super Express Lobster, Sanji watches Nami through some binoculars, realizes that she is wearing a T-shirt instead of a tank top, and bites his shirt instead.
  • In Idaten Jump, during one of the chibi sequences at the end Kakeru is seen doing this out of frustration for not getting his own Idaten Bike.
  • Episode 13 of the Tenchi Muyo OVA has Misaki doing this in the scene where Azusa is first introduced.
  • Occurs twice in the third episode of Prétear; first done by Mayune out of frustration as she chases Hayate, and a little later Yayoi goes melodramatic when talking to her and bites Mayune's bathrobe. Mayune also does this once in the manga, when she is jealous.
  • In Ai Yori Aoshi, Mayu's Imagine Spot where she makes a perfect lunch for Kaoru includes Tina doing this.
  • Nanny does this a bit in Rose of Versailles, particularly in episode 18.
  • In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Mion did this when she spoke with her twin sister Shion, admitting her feelings for Keichii and complaining that she couldn't compete with Rena's cuteness.
  • France does this in Axis Powers Hetalia thinking about his situation in the war.
  • Chi, the kitten in Chi's Sweet Home, often bites and tears cusions and such when upset.
  • Mamori in Eyeshield 21 does this, not out of comedic, over-the-top sadness, but comedic, over-the-top vindictive rage.
  • When Maya of Glass Mask does this to express sadness in a play competition, the crowd and judges are actually impressed. But Glass Mask's definition of dramatic genius usually translates as overacting, anyway.
  • Oz from Pandora Hearts sort of does this to a pillow (not like that), out of intense frustration.
  • B-Shock has a male example in chapter 2; hanky-biter Goshona, Hatsune's fiancé, isn't particularly chivalrous, though. Here, the trope is used more to show his histrionic streak and lack of manly virtues than anything else.
  • In Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya, Luvia does this when explaining how her Talking Weapon Sapphire abandoned her and made a contract with someone else.

Films -- Animation

  • Baryl the drummer does this with his hat in Interstella 5555 when Shep reveals that he is dying.


  • Surprisingly, this turns up (played seriously) in a scene in Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep.
  • In Going Postal, Moist von Lipwig does this after promising to follow through on a suicidal boast. More related to outright terror than sadness, but the overacting is still there.

Visual Novels

  • Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney has a few variations of this -- in the first game, Jake Marshall does this with a piece of beef jerky. In the second game, Ini Miney bites her hat and stretches it between her hands when she's flustered during questioning. When she starts getting really agitated you can see holes forming; from the look of things, that cheesy beret is made of some kind of foam rubber.
  • In Ougon Musou Kyoku, this is what Ange does during Virgilia and Beatrice's team ending.

Web Comics

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