I've been watching No Country For Old Men again, and about 1 hour and 25 minutes into the movie there is the scene where Chigurh confronts Carson.

After their small talk, Chigurh shoots Carson and answers the phone to talk to Llewelyn. During the phone call Chigurh's eyes begin to tear up a little bit, and then he sheds a single tear from his right eye.

I've tried to research this but it seems no one else has noticed or questioned it.

Why would a man with seemingly no emotional attachment to anything, shed a tear after killing someone so coldly?

2 Answers 2


I think the tear is a sign that Wells got to Chigurh in their conversation, when Wells called Chigurh crazy.

Chigurh seems to think of himself as a sort of super-human philosopher who sees riddles that other mere mortals can't see - but in reality he's probably just bat-shit insane.

In the scene, Chigurh asks Wells one of Chigurh's trademark wacked-out questions: "If the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use was the rule?" Wells responds by calling Chigurh out: "Do you have any idea how goddamn crazy you are?"

Chigurh doesn't get what Wells is saying at first. Chigurh asks "You mean the nature of this conversation?" It's as if Chigurh has never even thought to ponder his own sanity, despite the fact that he is a fearless and remorseless serial killer.

Wells answers Chigurh with "I mean the nature of you," driving home his original comment. Then Wells says "You can have the money, Anton," using Chigurh's first name, a reminder that Wells is intimately familiar with Chigurh, which lends all the more credibility to his "crazy" assessment.

In the next moment, the phone rings. After thinking for an instant, Chigurh shoots Wells dead. This turns out to be a rare bad decision by Chigurh, as a living Wells would have been able to draw Llewelyn to Chigurh right there in Mexico... instead, Chigurh ends up having to play the Odessa card.

And in the wake of the shooting, before pulling his wits together and talking to Llewelyn, Chigurh seems lost for a moment. From the screenplay:

Aside from his finger on the trigger, Chigurh hasn't moved. He sits staring at Wells's remains for a beat.

Now his look swings onto the phone. He watches it ring twice more.

Overall, I think the conversation with Wells made Chigurh, if only for a moment, contemplate some unpleasant thoughts about himself - hence the tear.


I hate to say it, but this answer is incorrect on every count. Chigurh represents the immutable hand of fate. Unstoppable evil. McCarthy knew exactly what he was doing in writing the character. Chigurh is not shedding a tear or participating in a sudden moment of conscious introspection, nor is he feeling remorse.

He also did not make a mistake by killing Wells. He clearly explains why he killed Wells during the phone conversation with Moss: Chigurh already knows how the story will conclude, regardless of how any of the other characters attempt to influence the outcome.


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