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[[quoteright:350:[[Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/broken_smile_asuka.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350: "Mama...?"]]

->''"What's with the face? It is happy, yet at the same time, disturbing."''
-->-- '''Mark Chang,''' ''WesternAnimation/FairlyOddParents''

Any StepfordSmiler worth her immaculately groomed PowerHair has a smile capable of withstanding a nuclear blast worth of shocking [[TheReveal revelations]] with amazing DissonantSerenity. Anything and everything could happen, the president is assassinated, the detective finds the basement graveyard, [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking the in-laws visit unexpectedly]], and still the smile stands.

Then there are times when that perpetual and creepy smile... breaks. Maybe the cookies got burnt, a lock of her hair has fallen out of place, or her perfectly manicured family just did something dreadfully embarrassing in public. The point is, it's [[RantInducingSlight the last straw]] and her smile, like her composure, has been [[BreakTheCutie shattered]] into so many pieces archaeologists will be puzzling it out for millennia.

Something snaps inside her head; she gets HiddenEyes, and her smile suddenly becomes frozen and forced, with teeth grinding in a rictus of a CheshireCatGrin... [[SlasherSmile or worse]]. The smile is only still there because the sheer shock has prevented any new expression from reaching her face. A deer in the headlights of a sixteen wheel semi has a similar expression. She may develop a {{twitchy eye}}.

CrossPoppingVeins optional for comedic examples. Usually this is followed either by a HeroicBSOD or something to make those responsible forever BewareTheNiceOnes. Often shown by {{Yandere}}. Compare with TechnicallyASmile and TheUnSmile.


[[folder: Anime and Manga]]
* Shown above is Asuka at age 4 in ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' after she walks in on what should be the happiest day of her life so far, with what she believes to be [[WellDoneSonGuy proof she is a worthy daughter]], only to find that [[spoiler:her mother has committed "murder"-suicide, hanging herself with a doll of Asuka]].
* ''VisualNovel/{{Shuffle}}'': Kaede displays this around episode 19 where her extreme depression and loneliness starts taking a toll on her sanity.
* Arumi of ''Anime/MagicalShoppingArcadeAbenobashi'' usually does this, if only for a second, before attacking Sasshi with her PaperFanOfDoom.
* Seen on Yurika in ''Anime/MartianSuccessorNadesico'' after her first taste of three new pilots, generally behaving even more strangely than the crew she's already gotten used to.
* A more comical variant happens in ''Manga/AzumangaDaioh'', when [[{{Cloudcuckoolander}} Osaka]] manages to convince [[TokenMiniMoe Chiyo]] that [[HugeSchoolgirl Sakaki]] somehow stole her height. Chiyo simply stares at Sakaki, [[BrokenRecord repeatedly saying "You took it, didn't you?"]] with a big grin on her face.
* Not really a StepfordSmiler, but Zilba from ''[[Anime/MujinWakuseiSurvive Uninhabited Planet Survive]]'' only stops smiling when her cheek is bruised.
* In ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'', Hinamori is visited by Hitsugaya and she has one when [[spoiler: she starts ranting about how Aizen might merely be manipulated by Gin.]]
* Happens to Ranka in ''Anime/MacrossFrontier'', when she [[spoiler: runs to the deck thinking that Alto loves her... and stumbles into Alto hugging Sheryl, [[NotWhatItLooksLike not knowing]] that it's because Sheryl's illness kicked in.]] "It can't be..."
* Usagi does this in ''Anime/SailorMoon R'' when Mamoru is breaking up with her.
* ''Manga/KarakuridoujiUltimo'': Rune has this after his confession to Yamato and during his fight with him.
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'':
** Gaara tried to maintain one after discovering his uncle Yashamaru had attacked him, but it was soon wiped off his face by Yashamaru's [[spoiler:faked]] confession of hatred.
** Naruto himself is a StepfordSmiler and does this at times.
** Sakura's had her fair share, namely after Sasuke betrays the village and lands Naruto in the hospital, and much later when [[spoiler: Sasuke comes back, and she's happy and can trust him]]. [[TheUnsmile Sai]] of all people calls the resulting "smile" a lie.
* Menma's mother Irene in ''Anime/AnoHanaTheFlowerWeSawThatDay'', when Jin-Tan, Poppo and Anaru go to talk about [[spoiler: the plan to build a firework in Menma's memory, not knowing that Irene is still mentally broken even after years of Menma's death.]].
* Leo of ''Manga/PandoraHearts'' flashes a lot of these after [[spoiler: Elliot's death]].
* ''Manga/BattleRoyale''
** A young Shuya and Yoshitoki notice that the girl who won that year's Program is smiling, but she doesn't really look happy. She does look very creepy.
** Yoshimi's adorable smile at finding Yoji again quickly becomes very creepy when [[spoiler: he's shot in the head]].
* Kaneki of ''Manga/TokyoGhoul'' is a NiceGuy who has some [[BreakTheCutie serious]] [[StepfordSmiler psychological]] [[AxCrazy problems]]. He smiles often in a carefree manner, as a way to try to cover up his issues, even when things have gone to hell. Also, in Chapter 59 of the sequel he makes an incredibly sinister smile while talking to Eto's manager. It's especially jarring because it's become increasingly rare to see him smile, and that the way it's drawn and the context makes it increasingly apparent that poor Ken's sanity is going down the toilet.
** Mutsuki demonstrates they are going through major SanitySlippage by sporting a few of these, most notably in chapter 123 when [[spoiler: Kaneki refuses to go back to the CCG with Mutsuki]].
** Kaneki also sports one while crying when he's [[spoiler:telling his hallucination of his best friend Hide and his maternal figure Akira that he's lonely.]]
** Akira does the same when confirming to Kaneki and Amon that they're lonely.
* Ryoko Asakura of ''LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya'', if you look closely enough (in the anime, at least) during her fight with Yuki. When Yuki causes her knife to dissolve, she betrays shock and amazement, immediately followed by a leap 5 metres backward. You can see the brief look of shock again when Ryoko has got Yuki seriously injured with those weird tentacle-light thingies and Yuki announces the commencement of Ryoko going bye-bye. Of course, since this is Ryoko we're talking about, she recovers pretty quickly both times with her StepfordSmiler ways, even as she dissolves away the second time.
* O-Rin in ''Manga/{{Sakuran}}'' sports one of these after she finishes crying upon finding out [[spoiler: O-Some, the closest person she had to a friend, died, likely from suicide.]]
* ''Manga/AttackOnTitan''
** Erwin Smith sports one of these, when it's revealed that [[spoiler: the Titans once were humans]]. He also has a huge reason for that: [[spoiler: his father had already guessed it and [[HeKnowstooMuch was executed for such reasons]]; basically, the recent discovery ''proved Erwin's dad right all along''.]]
** Eren sported a brief one upon learning that Marco was dead.
* In ''PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'', Sayaka has one right before [[spoiler:she becomes a witch.]]
-->'''Sayaka:''' [[spoiler:I was stupid... So stupid...]]

[[folder: Comics]]
* ''ComicBook/{{Transmetropolitan}}'': The [[SlasherSmile aptly named]] Smiler devolves into this a few times over the course of the series, almost always at the hands of [[AntiHero Spider]] [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold Jerusalem]].

[[folder: Fanfiction]]
* Gamzee in ''Fanfic/{{Brainbent}}'' has a one when he thinks he's made Sollux hate him. He's a bit of a type-a StepfordSmiler overall, depressingly enough.
* Spike sports one at the end of Chapter 12 in ''{{FanFic/Zenith}}'' when he discovers that [[spoiler:Celestia knowingly sent Twilight to the location where the Pillar of the Sun was at]].

[[folder: Film]]
* Michelle Pfeiffer's character Velma Von Tussle displayed a wonderful example of this in the 2007 remake of ''Film/{{Hairspray}}'', at the moment when her daughter failed to win the Miss Hairspray contest.
* In ''Film/BrokenBlossoms'', Lucy forces herself to smile like this several times, [[spoiler:including while dying.]]

[[folder: Literature]]
* Gorgas in ''The Belly Of The Bow'' by K. J. Parker: he is confronting his brother who has [[AndYourLittleDogToo killed Geogas' son]] in an unspeakable way. Gorgas decides that there's no sense in crying over spilt milk and confronts his brother wearing a smile like the one the body of his dead son is wearing.
* Used with some frequency in ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'', when the smiler realizes that events are not going the way they ought to be. Often with a description like "The smile remained, but the face pulled back, leaving it quite alone."

[[folder: Live Action TV]]
* Richard Hammond's expression of glee on ''Series/TopGear'' gradually morphs into one of these [[spoiler:when the Reliant Robin Space Shuttle's external fuel tank fails to separate and the assemblage plummets to earth in a gigantic fireball.]]
* Joy (while on happy pills) in ''Series/MyNameIsEarl'', when a neighbor's beer can came through her window & hit one of her kids in the head. Her neighbors won't be doing that again, to say the least.
* ''Series/{{Nashville}}'': When something dramatic/inconvenient happens in Juliette's life you can bet her gleaming smile will slowly turn into a OhCrap expression or look of horror.

[[folder: Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Catherine}}'', Katherine gives a small one [[spoiler: when she breaks up with Vincent]] mid-way through the game.
* ''VideoGame/{{Undertale}}''
** Sans is a StepfordSmiler who literally [[PerpetualSmiler never stops smiling]], even if you choose to [[VideoGameCrueltyPotential decapitate his little brother in cold blood]]. It's possible that he's sporting one of these during the entire battle with him, as there's [[spoiler:literally nobody left alive that he cares about at that point]], but he ''definitely'' reaches his breaking point when you [[http://56.media.tumblr.com/d36a25ca2df0afba147d84db1314d11f/tumblr_inline_nzbhubMGfa1tepv7x_250.png deal the killing blow]].
** If you get to the point where you can spare Toriel, the first boss of the game, then [[ISurrenderSuckers kill her anyway]], she sports one of these as she dies.
* The Caretaker in ''Videogame/DarkestDungeon'' is a broken man having gone through the DespairEventHorizon sporting a deranged, pained grin in most screens.
** Another example is [[spoiler:the Rapturous Cultists in [[TheVeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon the titular Darkest Dungeon]], who are so twisted ([[MindRape mentally]] and [[BodyHorror physically]]) in service to [[TheOldGods their god]] that their default expression is a demented grin as their arms constantly sway upward, ever giving tribute to the dark power they serve.]]

[[folder: Visual Novels]]
* ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'' has [[spoiler:Sakura Matou]]. She is not a StepfordSmiler in that she only cares about [[spoiler:preserving her YamatoNadeshiko mask for Shirou rather than her peers in general]], but through a combination of [[LoveMakesYouEvil love]] and [[BreakTheCutie severe abuse]] she eventually [[BewareTheNiceOnes snaps]], learning how to put on that dangerous smile, [[EvilMakeover among other things]].
* In the final two routes, ''VisualNovel/{{Tsukihime}}'' 's [[spoiler:Kohaku]] starts to show her broken smile to the protagonist, and plays the StepfordSmiler straighter than the above example.
* ''Franchise/AceAttorney'''s normally perky (in [[GagBoobs more ways]] [[{{Gainaxing}} than one]]) April May gets this along with a TwitchyEye periodically during the first game's second trial, usually when confronted with a contradiction in her testimony. [[spoiler: Her full breakdown causes her to lose the smile entirely.]]
** In one court section of ''VisualNovel/ProfessorLaytonVSAceAttorney'', [[spoiler: Kira]] laughs and smiles maniacal when she starts losing it [[spoiler: knowing that Phoenix keeps getting closer and closer to exposing her murder tricks, aibiet without a concrete evidence.]] [[SuddenlyVoiced Her voice acting]] pins it home how broken she's become.
** And there's also young [[spoiler: Athena Cykes]], in one of the cases. [[spoiler: Imagine a child putting her dead mom's corpse in a robot-repairing machine and casually saying that she was going to fix her. That's what Simon Blackquill had to witness]].
* ''VisualNovel/EfAFairyTaleOfTheTwo'' [[spoiler:has Yuuko in her story with this caused by her traumatic past experiences of being continually raped by her brother figure Akira.]]

[[folder: Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/BittersweetCandyBowl:'' Lucy, along with DissonantLaughter, [[spoiler:when she thinks [[LoveInterest Mike]] died.]]
* PlayedForLaughs in ''Webcomics/NerfNow''; this is the expression the Trainer controlled by [[LetsPlay/TwitchPlaysPokemon the masses of the internet]] wears in ''[[http://www.nerfnow.com/comic/1230 Twitch Plays Pokemon.]]''

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* Joo Dee in ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', a regular old {{brainwashed}} StepfordSmiler, had one of these when Aang and co got off the leash.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'' did this, too, with Tahno. Normally a textbook SmugSnake, [[BigBad Amon]] [[{{Depower}} takes away his bending]], putting him into a massive [[VillainousBSOD [=BSOD=]]]. When he meets up with Korra again, he puts on a BrokenSmile and, rather meekly, says "[[CallBack See you around, Avatar]]."
* This is pretty much constantly the expression of Billy's Mom of ''WesternAnimation/TheGrimAdventuresOfBillyAndMandy''. The few times she doesn't have it is when she either goes stark raving, or when there isn't any other character in the room to drive her mad.
* Marianne Smith of ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls''. Her smile broke when the girls ruined her neighborly dinner, and when her husband got out of jail, (for threatening to [[CutHisHeartOutWithASpoon blow-dry the professor to death,]]) she had created a whole supervillain family, kids included.
* [[WesternAnimation/RenAndStimpy Ren]] ends up with this smile as the Happy Helmet takes hold...
* Wilt off ''WesternAnimation/FostersHomeForImaginaryFriends'' is almost always smiling, but if he gets pushed too far, it becomes a broken smile, complete with TwitchyEye.
* [[WesternAnimation/EdEddNEddy Eddy]] wore this when [[spoiler:he was savagely beaten up by his own brother in front of everybody else]] in the movie.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' has at least two of these. First up is Pinkie's smile at her tea party of one, complete with eyes drifting in opposite directions and with shrinking pupils. In "Lesson Zero", Twilight goes equally crazy, with increasingly shorter periods of time between each new, insane smile.
* WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants gets one after a {{jerkass}} customer--which he and Squidward had spent ''the entire episode'' trying to get to--refused to accept his order [[FelonyMisdemeanor because they forgot his drink]].
** Even worse, they didn't forget his drink because he didn't order it. [[InsaneTrollLogic He insisted that they should have brought him a drink he didn't order because he would need something to wash his pizza down with.]] This was [[EveryoneHasStandards too much for even Squidward, who hates Spongebob's guts]].
** Another episode has Mr. Krabs fire Spongebob for engaging in karate with Sandy against his wishes (he wasn't, and was trying to get her to stop). Just before he breaks down crying, he meekly says "Fired?" with his mouth curled into a small smile.
* ''WesternAnimation/WanderOverYonder''
** In "The Birthday Boy", Lord Hater cracks one of these after Wander evades every trap in Hater's Doom Arena and every attempt by Lord Hater to break his spirit, ''then'' launches into a cheerful birthday song.
** In "The Matchmaker", Sylvia cracks one of these when, after her constant attempts to stop Wander from [[LoveLetterLunacy delivering a love note from Lord Hater to Lord Dominator]], Wander reveals [[spoiler: he wasn't going to hand-deliver the love letter, but just put it in the nearest mailbox.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/The7D'' has Happy give one of these. The incident occurs when [[JerkVictim Little]] [[TheThingThatWouldNotLeave Red]] [[BlatantLies Riding]] [[ImplausibleDeniability Hood]] seeks help from the Seven D after allegedly being chased through the woods by three bears "for no reason at all." They allow her to stay and she quickly makes herself at home. She ravenously eats everything at the dinner table, acts reckless and deliberately breaks the things they own. Each time one of the men insists that she leave, its Happy who defends her and pleads with them to give her another chance. This continues until she breaks Happy's guitar. Cue this trope. Happy's smile remains intact [[StepfordSmiler as always]] but his body visibly shakes for a few seconds before deciding that she has to leave. For anyone familiar with the character, it can come off as pretty creepy.