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[[quoteright:350:[[Literature/TheStepfordWives http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/faith-hill_1290.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350: OK, you can stop [[TheUnSmile smiling]] now... [[UncannyValley Please?]]]]

->''"He always smiled, and he always chuckled, but inside he did not notice anyone, did not care; it was his body that smiled, nodded and shook hands. Nothing touched his mind, which remained remote."''
-->-- '''Creator/PhilipKDick''', ''Literature/{{Ubik}}''

Everyone loves PuritySue. [[LoveIsInTheAir They can't help it!]] She's [[Film/MaryPoppins practically perfect in every way]]. The Stepford Smiler is much like PuritySue: she's bright, chipper, and an all-around pleasant person to be with.

It's all a lie, of course.

The Stepford Smiler is obsessed with projecting an image of wholesome happiness in order to be accepted by her peers. Tragically enough, they'd probably [[ThePowerOfFriendship accept her]] for who she is regardless of her self-imposed {{Masquerade}}. Her flawlessly crafted facade hides a real person that's usually breaking like so much fine china, in order to keep up the deception.

These are the three main types of Stepford Smiler:

* '''Depressed''': The character seems to be happy, cheerful, is always smiling and seems to live a perfect life - [[BeneathTheMask but inside]] [[TheEeyore they are melancholic, if not outright depressed]].
* '''Empty''': The character seems to be [[ThePollyanna kind and cheerful]], but [[TrueSelf is actually]] [[ExtremeDoormat motiveless]] and [[EmptyShell hollow]].
* '''Unstable''': The smile [[MaskOfSanity hides mental instability]], and even {{madness|Tropes}}.

Depressed {{Hero|es}}ines or show co-stars that are Stepford Smilers can either be played straight, or played to gain viewer sympathy as they struggle to live up to their own impossible ideals. {{Villain|s}}esses like the EvilMatriarch who are Stepford Smilers are usually played one of two ways: it can either humanize them, much like the heroine, or it can accentuate their evil by contrasting it with their soullessness. Feminine pronouns are used throughout this trope because the Stepford Smiler is a [[AlwaysFemale traditionally female]] role, though there are many male examples too. Sometimes, they're even a couple.

The Empty's mask itself can also hide a terrible secret... ''there is '''nothing''' behind it.'' The void is either a result of using up so much energy [[IJustWantToBeNormal pretending to be normal]] that nothing is left over, or because there was [[TheSoulless nothing there to begin with.]] The [[TropeNamers trope-naming]] [[Literature/TheStepfordWives Stepford Wives]] fall into this second category, naturally.

Scared yet? It gets worse.

There is a very good chance that she is dosed up on prescription tranquilizers or antidepressants (Valium, Xanax, and/or Prozac are staple favorites)--or good old fashioned over-the-counter alcohol--often to the point of dependence. With or without drugs, if a Stepford Smiler smiles long enough without [[BrokenSmile cracking]], she can ''{{becom|ingTheMask}}e'' [[BecomingTheMask the mask]] and turn Unstable. Some Stepford Smilers buy into the dead {{Franchise/Barbie}} smiles to such a degree that they care for ''nothing'' other than maintaining appearances, having money, making sure their [[GoodHairEvilHair hair is]] ''[[PowerHair just right,]]'' and improving their social standing, all of which are pursued with equally {{Social Darwinist}}ic means. Essentially, they become the materialist equivalent of the NietzscheWannabe. Unstable characters sometimes have [[SlasherSmile another kind of smile]] behind the fake one.

Not every {{Housewife}} is a Stepford Smiler, obviously. They often encounter one as a nemesis instead, in a post-HighSchool example of the AlphaBitch.

Science does add some credence to the trope, as those who default to a half-smile expression tend to report a generally better mood, regardless of any outside factor. However, this does not extend to a full on fake demi-SlasherSmile, suggesting that even the person's brain chemistry isn't fooled by the facade.

The Stepford Smiler gets her name (as does the StepfordSuburbia in which she lives) from the book and later movies ''Literature/TheStepfordWives'', about a village whose men conspire to create the Barbie perfect wife, all with similar eerie smiles.

See also BeneathTheMask, BitchInSheepsClothing, BrokenAce, BrokenHero, ComedicSociopathy, EvilMatriarch, ExtremeDoormat, TheFakeCutie, FauxAffablyEvil, IJustWantToBeNormal, MarySue, {{Masquerade}}, SadClown, ThinkHappyThoughts, UncannyValleyGirl, {{Yandere}}, and the darker variants of MinnesotaNice. The CrapsaccharineWorld is basically this trope upscaled to include the entire society.

Contrast with the StrawNihilist, TheStoic, ThePollyanna, YamatoNadeshiko.

Compare/Contrast with TheSnarkKnight, whose demeanor is typically the [[InvertedTrope inverse]] of the Stepford Smiler, and the StepfordSnarker, whose motives are the same, but whose mask is made of [[DeadpanSnarker snark]] rather than smiles.
Contrast DramaQueen.


* StepfordSmiler/{{Advertising}}
* StepfordSmiler/AnimatedFilms
* StepfordSmiler/AnimeAndManga
* StepfordSmiler/ComicBooks
* StepfordSmiler/FanFic
* StepfordSmiler/{{Film}}
* StepfordSmiler/{{Literature}}
* StepfordSmiler/LiveActionTV
* StepfordSmiler/{{Music}}
* StepfordSmiler/NewspaperComics
* StepfordSmiler/{{Other}}
* StepfordSmiler/ProfessionalWrestling
* StepfordSmiler/TabletopGames
* StepfordSmiler/{{Theatre}}
* StepfordSmiler/VideoGames
* StepfordSmiler/VisualNovels
* StepfordSmiler/WebComics
* StepfordSmiler/WebOriginal
* StepfordSmiler/WesternAnimation
* StepfordSmiler/RealLife