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See the stars who know how to turn on the waterworks

Shaun Harrison
crying-faces-claire-danes1.jpg
1 of 12 Showtime

Claire Danes, Homeland

What does a bi-polar CIA agent who falls in love with one of her targets look like when she's upset? Trust us, it's not always pretty. For this role, Danes, a longtime master of the crumpled face with a quivering pouty lip, throws in a bit of wide-eyed intensity to make her character's emotional outbursts even more wild. The best part? Not even Danes knows how she does it. "“I don’t even know how it happens, but I start shaking," she told The New Yorker. "My body expresses it. … It’s not necessarily a conscious decision. It’s a little mysterious to me."
2 of 12 The CW

James Van Der Beek, Dawson's Creek

Few cries have become a cultural touchstone like the Beek's infamous crumple-faced, shoulder-heaving sob. But it helps when the dude is laughing with you: Van Der Beek treated us to the 10-year anniversary "Sad Dawson" cry face and a glut of other awesome Van Der Memes. Because if there's one thing the world needs more of, it's intense, over-the-top close-ups of The Beek's face.
3 of 12 NBC

Mae Whitman, Parenthood

On a show where everybody cries, Whitman stands out. Whitman pulled moviegoers' heart strings in films such as Hope Floats before her moving portrayal — complete with an extremely emotive face and convincing sobbing — made us feel Amber's pain as she struggled through adolescence and young adulthood.
4 of 12 AMC

Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad

You've got to give props to a guy who isn't afraid to go all out for a true ugly cry. Sobbing? Check. Throbbing veins? Check. Facial contortions? Check. Phlegm-y screams? Check. So it's kind of fitting that the last image we see of Jesse driving into the sunset is of him weeping tears of joy.
5 of 12 AMC

Jon Hamm, Mad Men

Thankfully it's rare that Don Draper shows any emotion on Mad Men, because Jon Hamm's droopy-eyed cry face is so potent it instantly spawned its own Internet meme: Sad Don Draper. We're sure Peggy's idolization of her boss began to wane once she witnessed his explosive, awkward breakdown. The real question: With Don presumably set to confront his Dick Whitman past head-on in the show's final season, will we see him weep some more?
6 of 12 FOX

Chris Colfer, Glee

Colfer's Kurt Hummel has long been the Fox musical drama's beating heart. As Kurt struggled to come out during Season 2, Colfer's quiet tears of desperation, fear and sadness were heart-wrenching. However, you can't talk about Colfer's cry face without mentioning his performance of The Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand," which Kurt performed right after his father suffered a heart attack. It left the choir room — and audiences everywhere — a blubbering mess.
7 of 12 FOX

Lea Michele, Glee

Michele elevates the cry face to another level by being able to sing while she sobs. We don't know what's more moving: Michele's beautiful voice lifted in song or that equally mobile and poignant visage.
8 of 12 FX

Dylan McDermott, American Horror Story

McDermott's cry face earns special distinction because it's also an O-face! That's right, the pilot of FX's American Horror Story featured this ugly cry at the end of a feverish, guilt-ridden moment of self-pleasure. While creepy (and unintentionally hilarious), this was certainly not a "happy ending."
9 of 12 HBO

Laura Dern, Enlightened

Dern's cry face first earned admirers in in Blue Velvet. But Enlightened creator Mike White played to Dern's strengths when he opened the show with protagonist Amy Jellicoe having a tear-, rage- and profanity-filled public meltdown at work. Dern's angry-sad facial work is so impressive, her mascara-streaked face was featured as the key art for the show's first season.
10 of 12 E!

Kim Kardashian, Keeping Up with the Kardashians

There's nothing better than seeing someone so beautiful have a great, ugly cry. Schadenfreude at its best, ladies and gents! The art of the perfect ugly cry is only one of the many things KUWTK has taught us over the years, but it's far more enjoyable than sister-on-sister bikini waxes and blood facials.
11 of 12 The CW

Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars

Bell's cry face became famous when her fiancé Dax Shepard surprised her with an adorable sloth for her birthday, but VMars fans were already familiar with the actress' scrunched-up sobs. Veronica wasn't someone to cry often, but when she did, she approached it like everything else in her life and didn't hold back. Watching her cry is like watching someone walk into a glass door — you feel bad for them, but you can't help but laugh a little.
12 of 12 ABC

Claire Danes, My So-Called Life

Wait, Claire Danes is on this list twice? That's right. Consider her the master and perhaps the originator of the ugly, but oh-so effective cry. She first perfected the raw sob-face on this teen angst-fest. Not many of us can know the sweet torture of loving Jordan Catalano personally, but watching Angela's blotchy, snuffling face scrunch made us totally feel her pain.