Not to be confused with the Noel Coward play or the classic film of the same name (both of whose titles derive from Shelley's 'Hail to thee, blithe spirit'). Interestingly, there's a famous quote by Matthew Arnold about Shelley's hopeless attempts to be a blithe spirit to the world himself: a "beautiful and ineffectual angel, beating in the void his luminous wings in vain"
The Complainer Is Always Wrong is an inverse of this trope. Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a subtrope that serves as a shaker-upper of one particular person. Contrast Fisher Kingdom, which tends to eat these people and turn them into cogs (not usually literally).
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
Haruhi Suzumiya tries really, really hard to be one of these, hence the whole SOS Brigade thing, explicitly created to "fill the world with fun!". Actually a subversion, as should the world be shaken up as she would want it to be, it could very well be the end of reality as we know it. Again. The Fish Out of Temporal Water does a better job of this, as The Woobie.
However it's The Snark Knight who moves against the consensus that she should only be observed from afar.
The landlady Taeko's mother, Kimi, in Otaku No Musume San. This is a point of contention between mother and daughter as Kimi left Tae to be raised by others throughout her life.
Sometimes averted and sometimes played straight in Irresponsible Captain Tylor: Tylor is made skipper of a starship, despite no training, no military or space experience, and a penchant for nonsensical and irresponsible schemes. On the other hand, he is given command of a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, half of whom are on the verge of mutiny anyway. Still, near the series' conclusion, one of Tylor's Obstructive Bureaucrat antagonists admits Tylor's adherence to this trope is the likely factor of his success.
This is the very reason not-so-evil Oni-baba of Hinamizawa agreed to sell land to Keiichi's family; she figured that the time for prejudice against the Houjou family had passed, and thought that new blood would shake things up enough to help that process along. Rika also comments that the few worlds where Keiichi never moved to Hinamizawa were the saddest of all. Keiichi acts this way most prominently in the first half of Minagoroshi-hen.
Notably averted in So Bad, It's GoodAmerican Shaolin - it looks like the protagonist will shake things up in the monastery... but he ends up shaken up by staying there - humbler, wiser, not to mention about 5 points up on the badass scale and getting a girl to boot.
Jungle 2 Jungle (1997) features a Mighty Whitey character who leaves his home in the Amazonian jungle and comes to New York to shake up his stockbroker father's stodgy yuppie lifestyle.
Pete's Dragon (1977) has Pete and his Dragon acting as Blithe spirits for the town they visit, but the Dragon also acts as one for Pete.
Subverted with Holly Martins in The Third Man. He's a brash American who comes to Vienna and thinks he's going to prove everyone wrong about his dead friend Harry Lime, only to end up in over his head and screwing everything up.
Cold Comfort Farm: Flora is a sort of inversion. She comes to the wild countryside to impose order and modern ideals, and do away with 'mess,' but she's still a fish out of water who solves everyone's problems, and her attitude about the more gothic elements of the setting is extremely blithe.
John the Savage of Brave New World is this entirely. He protests against the loss of art, truth, and passion, despite the fact that for everyone else, it works.
Daisy in Henry James' story Daisy Miller is also just like this, the quirky American girl trying to shake things up in Europe. Except the European aristocrats don't lighten up, and things end tragically, to say the least, for Daisy.
Pippa in the poem Pippa Passes by Robert Browning - a young girl in Asolo, Italy who strolls through the town (on her single annual day off from the factory) singing a song which influences the lives of all who hear her for the better.
A Sudden Wild Magic by Diana Wynne Jones - the women who survive the trip to Arth start trying to deliberately upset 'the balance'. Except a few of them are quite mean-spirited about it - the people of Arth have been essentially robbing earth for centuries.
While Jenny from The Truth of Rock and Roll has lived in the same town her whole life, she may still count as Johnny never really got to know her before the beginning of the story. She certainly has this effect on his life.
Subverted in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which initially makes the title character seem like the typical kooky free spirit who teaches the kids to break out of their shells to find happiness, but soon reveals that she refuses to accept any idea about what that happiness should consist of other than her own. Eventually many of the children meet tragic fates due to her meddling in their lives. She's also a fascist, though fascism was considered "cool" and "cutting-edge" by quite a few intellectuals in the 1930s, just as communism was. It was democracy (or constitutional monarchy) that was viewed as old-fashioned and repressive.
Live Action TV
In Lazy Town, Stephanie is theoretically responsible for helping to get everyone exercising again (at least, according to the theme). That she's just as likely to have the lazy ball in a given episode is apparently irrelevant.
Also, Sportacus is new to the town at the beginning of the show and wants to inspire the kids to eat healthy and become fit.
Subverted on an episode of Frasier, in which the eponymous psychiatrist is hired to testify on behalf of an elderly philanthropist whose son is trying to have him declared mentally incompetent. After meeting with him, Frasier becomes convinced that the man is just a blithe spirit trying to enrich the lives of those around him...and is humiliated when he has a complete breakdown in the middle of Frasier's testimony.
Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Motherthinks he's this trope, gracing his friends with his presence to guide them through life and make them "awesome" like him. He refuses to acknowledge the fact that his friends all actually consider him a walking, batshit insane, Your Approval Fills Me with Shame generator, and only indulge his ridiculous shenanigans out of loyalty to him (and on occasion, amusement).
In Final Fantasy X, Tidus fills this role in the world of Spira, questioning the current way of dealing with Sin and generally being an over anxious Fish out of Water.
Terry Bogard from Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters, who spends his non-fighting days going from one temporary job to another and travelling through the world without settling down anywhere, save for coming back to South Town regularly. In XIII he turns down offers from a prestigious Taekwondo dojo run by his friend Kim and from the Ikari Warriors group, explicitely telling them that he hates being tied down to a regular schedule.
In Sluggy Freelance Torg plays this role when he's transported to the Dimension of Lame, being the only person there who doesn't epitomize Pure Is Not Good. When Demonic Invaders show up and starting eating people, the average Dimension of Lame citizen considers throwing food at them a monstrous overreaction. Then Torg shows up to organize a resistance movement and start hacking demons to pieces with his magic, talking sword.
Fry in Futurama unwittingly acts as one of these, when his twentieth-century outlook persuades Leela and Bender to abandon their thirtieth-century ruts and follow him.
"It's funny, you live in the universe, but you never do these things until someone comes to visit."
Both used straight and subverted in Cartoon Network's Mike, Lu & Og. Mike is a hip American girl and the islanders are all descended from Brits (although they're "going native" by adopting faux-Polynesian customs), but they often manage to surprise her by being a lot less strait-laced than she expects.
The Simpsons has an episode like this with Lisa Kudrow as the voice for the new, hip, fashion-savvy girl at Springfield Elementary. Lisa learned to be comfortable with her self image (again) and New Girl learned that you don't have to grow up so fast, and can appreciate fun for what it is.
Avatar The Last Airbender: Aang acts as one of these in "The Headband" when he becomes accidentally enrolled in a straight-laced Fire Nation school. And being the friendly, world-traveling free spirit he is, he won't settle for anything less than throwing everyone a dance party. Yes, that's a reference to Footloose.
His successor in The Legend of Korra is quite blithe herself. She waltzes into Republic City, trashes a street corner dispensing with some triad thugs, then trashes up some more street fleeing the cops when they try to arrest her, and thinks she can get out of it all with just "I'm the avatar!"
Many Westerners who go to China immediately find themselves in this position. This is especially true with educated Chinese expatriates who speak Mandarin well, as they can communicate with more of the natives but usually have a mindset that is completely different. This usually manifests as the foreigner seeming to have an enormously expansive personality that both intimidates and fascinates those around them, coupled with a directness that seems comically rude. The result can be very funny to watch.
And also Japan. While it's certainly not universal, the average Westerner does a lot better at thinking outside of the box than most Japanese are encouraged to.
The above statement is actually true for pretty much every Western tourist in Asia. Heck, sometimes the natives can speak English just fine and the Blithe Spirit effect goes boomerang. Speaking of boomerangs, it's not just in the East that this holds true. Australians (and other Westerners) often have the same reaction to Americans.
African-Americans who go to Africa. It's an interesting conversation to have when a native is explaining to you that you are a white man, too.
Socrates. He described himself as a gadfly stinging Athens into life.
Evil Counterpart Trope
Sometimes, the shaker is a villainous character, causing trouble for their own ends and means which might not be in the target's best interests. Sometimes involves a Deal with the Devil with them as the Devil. Examples include:
The original Dr. Lao in The Circus of Dr. Lao came more as a punisher of wicked deeds than an aid.
There's a term for this in the international tourism industry. "Walking Talking American Flag". One of the most offensive things a group of American tourists can do is break into a fervent chant of "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" while visiting another country.