Cheerful Child

Awwwwwwww.

You've seen 'em before. That great big smile...that innocent look in their eyes that just screams "hug me!"... This is the Cheerful Child. Often female, always younger than 13, and forever with a sunny disposition on life. They might, if they're the irrepressibly curious type, know a bit more about the world than respectable people think kids of that age ought to know.

Very common in Slice of Life shows, or cartoons centered around and/or made for young children, where very little conflict happens. May serve as a foil to an older sibling in the latter's Coming-of-Age Story. Under optimal conditions, or with some luck, Cheerful Child usually grows up to be a Pollyanna, a Genki Girl, or Love Freak. Or, if male, maybe into a Keet. Very unfortunate Cheerful Children can be a variant of The Woobie, or worse.

The Constantly Curious are usually Cheerful Children, as is Curious as a Monkey.

Compare the Kawaiiko and The Cutie, which is about this appeal regardless of age, and the Adorably Precocious Child, who may or may not be cheerful but is usually very cute.

Contrast the Troubled Child, Creepy Child, Deliberately Cute Child, The Fake Cutie, and Psychopathic Manchild. May overlap with Token Mini-Moe.

Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Azumanga Daioh: Chiyo Mihama provides the trope picture and is so utterly sweet and adorable that she seemingly exists for the sole purpose of having the rest of the cast fawn over her. And that's without the penguin suit...
  • Teneka is quite fond of this trope. A cute little kid usually acts as the serious hero's sidekick...a la Pinoko in Black Jack or Uran in Tetsuwan Atom.
  • Yotsuba from Yotsuba&!, which is like Kiyohiko Azuma (who also created Azumanga Daioh) trying to out-cute himself.
  • Yeo Miseng from Tower of God. Considering that she has been several years in The Thunderdome by now, that's rather surprising. But then again, she also cries sometimes.
  • Negi Springfield from Negima has some moments, when he's able/allowed/forced to be just a kid. The twins, Fuka and Fumika, play the role the rest of the time, despite being teenagers.
  • Mizuki from Mokke, when she's not being pestered by some spirits - and sometimes even when she is.
  • Nina, from Shirogane No Nina. She is cheerful and energetic, at least for most of the time.
  • Kenpachi's little lieutenant Yachiru from Bleach.
    • A very disturbing example, as watching her apparent father figure get hurt makes her happy, as he must be "having fun."
    • Of course, this is Kenpachi we're talking about here, so he probably is. She can get pretty damn creepy when she's mad too...
  • Rico from Gunslinger Girl, who is cheerful because she was a former Ill Girl confined to a hospital bed until given a cyborg body by the Social Welfare Agency. Who in return have made her a brainwashed killing machine. The contrast between her always perky personality and her occupation leads to several Creepy Child moments, like when she comes across a boy she'd met before (and fancied) in the aftermath of an assassination.
    Rico: (thinking) [What do I say to someone in a situation like this? I remember!]
    (takes out her gun and smiles) I am sorry. (shoots boy)
  • Takeru is like this in Digimon Adventure, but he subverted it in 02: he mostly acts happy because that is what people expect of him; his greatest trait is Hope, after all, and he's very likely aware of the ramifications of losing that aspect of himself. However, his parents' divorce and his last adventure (especially Angemon's death) have left their mark on him. The latter of which may cause him to go violent if there is the threat of his friends getting hurt.
    • Takeru does seem genuinely happy in some respects, but he's definitely not as well-adjusted as he looks. Episode 02x19, anyone?
    • The whole franchise in general seems to go out of its way to avert this trope: Hikari, easily Takeru's closest friend among the Chosen Children, appears carefree and sweet, but is a borderline psychic Ill Girl with a mild inferiority complex towards her older brother; Iori, Takeru's other close friend, is the Kid Samurai and moral compass of 02's Five-Man Band and a strong believer in justice who's incredibly serious for a nine year old and, quite bluntly, misses his dad, and he's easily the most wary of the reformed Ken; Ken himself has the Crest of Kindness and was incredibly gentle and kind as a child, but one I Wished You Were Dead moment jump-started his Start of Darkness; originally, the only truly remarkable thing about Juri was her ubiquitous puppet, and it came as a great shock when they broke the cutie and she attempted to strangle herself with it; Tomoki is bullied at school, spoiled by his parents and his older brother is trying to show him that the bullies are a little closer to the real world; Ikuto's got his identity crisis; Shiuchon is the only straight example in the franchise, and she's very much the minor character.
      • The entire cast of every Digimon series seems to suffer from There Are No Therapists. Which is all the more worrying when you consider that the entire stability and safety of two worlds is basically dependent upon the psyches of this bunch of less-than-well-adjusted eight-to-fifteen-year-old's.
      • Actually, Ai and Mako are six or five depending on what dub you're watching. And like all Digimon Tamers characters, they're a deconstruction of this trope. They're nice and sweet, but only as a result of their parents and Impmon abandoning them. Maturity in the Digimon universe comes at a price. Still, they play this trope in a healthier manner than most.
  • Cooro from +Anima is a good example of a male Cheerful Child. There are only 2 times in 10 books where he looks solemn.
  • A male example: Gon in Hunter × Hunter. And, like many of the examples on this page, deeply, deeply, DEEPLY broken...
  • Variable Geo: Manami is actually 16, but you'd never know it by looking at her because she's short for her age and exhibits childlike behavior. She's rarely without a smile and constantly stuffing her face with sweets, which makes her a stark contrast to the other combatants competing in the VG tournament.
  • Tenchi Muyo!: Ayeka's kid sister, Sasami, is an eternal fountain of cheer and youthful optimism. Made moreso, by her girlish Mega Twin Tails and the fact that Ryo Ohki is often seen with her, acting more or less her cute pet.
  • Rimone from Simoun remains mostly cheerful, despite the burden of piloting a weapon of mass destruction.
  • Freya from Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok, although her child form is not her true form, nor is her child personality her True Self.
  • Setsuko from Grave of the Fireflies. Unfortunately, she stars in one of the most depressing pieces of media ever made, so unlike most examples, we see her slowly deteriorate over the course of the story.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya: Kyon's little sister is never mentioned by name, not that it matters since all the other characters care about is how irresistibly cute she is. When Kyon was preparing to for his island trip and found her hiding in his duffel bag, he was understandably upset, given how dangerous it was. But Asuhina and the others took one look at her and were more than happy to let her come with them.
  • Sealand is the happiest (and most deluded) damned micronation EVER.
    • Let's not forget that Italy (as Chibitalia) used to be like that too, growing up into a full-blown Keet.
    • America was this too, though a little more sedate than the other cheerful child nations. It has been speculated amongst fans that if he were to suddenly revert to a child in canon, he would dominate the world simply because none of the other countries would be able to withstand the power of his cuteness.
  • Hitsugi in Hyakko. She has yet to interact with the main cast, but her happy elementary school antics usually make their way into the episodes.
  • Alphonse Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist as a subversion. He and his brother were in a horrific accident and to make a long story short, Al's soul is now in a 7 foot tall suit of armor. Nevertheless, he and his brother remain mostly cheerful, although Ed borders on an Emo Teen at times.
    • Not that Fullmetal Alchemist doesn't have it's share of Cheerful Children. There's at least one in each of the first few episodes of the 2003 anime adaptation, and when they stop showing up it's a sign that the series has gotten Darker and Edgier. Especially poor, poor Nina.
    • There's also Selim Bradley, although Darker and Edgier certainly applies to him, seeing how he is actually the monstrously evil homunculus Pride.
      • In the 2003 anime version, he's Darker and Edgier in a different way, since he's murdered by his adoptive father for accidentally revealing his Achilles' Heel.
    • And May Chang, with a Ridiculously Cute Panda mirroring her.
    • Also Elicia Hughes, except when she's crying for her dead daddy and breaking all of our hearts.
  • Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Before the activation test of Unit 01 and the "death" of his mother you see him as a constantly smiling, laughing, curious boy. Sadly, it doesn't last. The same might be true for Asuka, but we only ever see her after Unit 02 has sucked the brains out of her mother. Thank god for Fan Fiction (especially Nobody Dies).
  • In Monster, Tenma's optimism manages to turn Dieter into one of these. In fact Dieter's cheerfulness and optimism are so great, that Dieter later manages to save one of the children that Johan had been corrupting. He also provides a grounding influence for Tenma and, later, Nina.
  • Yutaka from Lucky Star is also overaged, but she can easily pass off as one, especially considering her height.
  • White of Tekkon Kinkreet, as the perfect foil to his older brother Black. It is even mentioned during the film that Black needs White's cheerful innocence to balance out the pair. That being said, he does set someone on fire when they were threatening Black
  • The titular character of Ponyo is cheerful about lots of things, mainly ham.
  • The robot Tachikomas of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex have the personalities and voices of cheerful children... and the bodies of Spider Tanks. They're the cutest war machines ever.
  • Ogami Daigoro, the titular Cub in Lone Wolf and Cub, does a really good job of keeping his spirits up in spite of the hardships (and goriness) of his dad's Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • In Change 123, Motoko's Split Personality Mikiri is a Cheerful Child in a well-endowed body of a teenage girl, which makes her a perfect Innocent Fanservice Girl.
  • Yellow from Pokémon Special. A cheerful, happy-go-lucky Friend to All Living Things who likes to fish and draw (badly) in her spare time. She counts even though she's gotten older over the years due to the fact she never seems to mature as well as the other female Dex Holders.
  • The Professor from Nichijou is one of these, especially when she reads picture books or talks about sharks. She also likes to joyously modify Nano, the robot girl she invented, for no other purpose than that it's fun.
  • Ringo from Casshern Sins. Considering the world she lives in, it's a miracle that every time you see her, she's as happy and giddy as a kid can be.
  • Momo Kawamoto from Sangatsu no Lion, the youngest, pre-school aged sister of the Kawamoto siblings. Just about anything she says and does that childlike is adorable, and Chica Umino's art style often emphasizes this.
  • There are several examples in Kamisama Kiss, we can start with the Tengu children and Mamoru when he is in his human form.
  • Last Order of A Certain Magical Index. Especially notable because she's a clone, and all the other clones (of the same girl) are Tin Men.
  • Doubly subverted in the case of Haruka in Kotoura-san. She was one until people began to realize her ability and became a Broken Bird for ten years. She eventually develops back into this over the course of the story, thanks to Manabe.
  • Shirayuki from Snow White And Seven Dwarfs, though she also mixes this with Broken Hero. Souji is another and milder, albeit far stranger, example—the kid's twelve but physically a middle-aged man, and so doesn't quite look the part, but he's otherwise cheerful and with a (relatively) innocent demeanor.
  • Enju Aihara from Black Bullet is very happy, energetic, and cheerful most of the time thanks to Rentaro, as long as she isn't sad or crying that is.
  • The title character of Hana The Fox Girl is an inari fox who can take on human form. Her human form is a little girl with fox ears and tail who acts as the mascot for the Shimashima Coffee shop.
    Hana: [proudly] I get cuddled by customers and stuff!
  • In Plastic Memories, both Zack and Nina display this look. In the former's case, it's part of his job to retrieve Giftia, or androids, nearing the end of their service life. In the latter's case, that's how she was programmed.

    Comic Books 
  • Lian Harper of DC Comics, which serves as a testament to Roy's parenting skills. Naturally, once the Darker and Edgier hit hard, there was no room for little Lian, who got a very large bridge dropped on her. Just so her father could descend into drug-fueled angst. And then she got erased from existence completely.
  • Katie Power of the Power Pack is one in all incarnations, but the all-ages comic takes it to new heights.
  • Bode from Locke & Key is almost always cheerful and energetic. Trying to keep him that way is something of a concern for his older siblings Tyler and Kinsey, given some of the...extremely messed-up things that happen in the story.
  • Billy Batson, in most of his incarnations from the Golden Age onward. His sister Mary also qualifies, depending on how young she's depicted as being.

    Disney 
  • Disney is notable for some very cute kids!
  • Bolt: Rhino. Bolt may qualify, as Mittens teaches him how to become a dog, but he reverts to serious mode. He may have remained very cheerful all along, as the end credits show that he is happy!

    Fan Works 
  • Game Theory has an Early-Bird Cameo of Teana when she's six years old, and she is adorable.
  • The Transformers fanfiction, Black Crayons has Annabelle Lennox, going from age four to age six over the series. She's absolutely adorable and sees Ironhide and her dad as her personal heroes and unbeatable. She also has the weapon specialist essentially wrapped around her finger.
  • The Pony POV Series has Apple Pie, whose ability to be this even in the horrors of Dark World enables her to become the new Element of Laughter.
  • AB in Pokeumans, who is keen and excitable to be Brandon's apprentice.

    Film 
  • Frozen: At the Beginning of the movie, Anna is a cheerful girl. His attitude changes little when she is almost an adult.
  • Hook: Maggie Banning is an unusual example, as she is in peril for much of the film as a prisoner of Captain Hook. It's her innocent, positive outlook on life that allows her to see through his claim that her parents don't love her, and she lashes out at him for trying to manipulate both her and Jack. She has an idea about what's wrong with the villain, too: "You need a mommy very badly!" She's not too far off — when the Croc comes back to life and makes a meal out of Hook, his last words are "I want my mommy!"
  • Subverted with Littlefoot. He has shown many emotions throughout the series, but is usually cheerful.
  • Sally Salt in Terry Gilliam's [["The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen"]]
  • Mystery Team: Brianna, the girl who hires the team, is rather cheerful for a girl whose parents just died.
  • Revolution (2009): Az'Az is a pretty happy kid.

    Literature 
  • Tommen Baratheon from a A Song of Ice and Fire.
  • Leonard Stecyk in The Pale King is such an excruciatingly upbeat kid that some of the school faculty want to kill him. His schoolmates hide when they see him coming.
  • Two year old Lani Nita serves this function in the Breaking the Wall trilogy.
  • Kalid in Someone Else's War.
  • Kairn in Galaxy of Fear: City of the Dead. He's also a good-natured daredevil and a foil to his new friend Zak, who daredevils after his parents were killed. Gets killed and made into a zombie, but Zak's appeals made him turn against the man who did it.
  • Lucy Pennykettle from The Last Dragon Chronicles.
  • Gabriel from The Giver, as a baby, he's very loud and happy.

    Live Action TV 
  • Punky Brewster. A little girl who at age 8 was deserted by her mother (after her father left their family) and was found living alone in an empty apartment by Henry Warnimont, who would adopt her. Yet she manages to maintain a positive spin on things even though once in awhile she would wax sadness about it.
  • In Veronica Mars, Logan was once stuck babysitting a hyper-cheerful 11 year-old girl. Her disposition turned out to be a front.
  • In Scrubs, the son of Perry Cox and Jordan Sullivan, Jack Cox, is one of these. No matter what happens to him (including being painted green and then cleaned up), he is smiling broadly and seems delighted with what is going on.
  • In Round the Twist, it's pretty hard to dent Bronson's good cheer.
  • Sky Smith from The Sarah Jane Adventures is possibly the most adorable Weapon of Mass Destruction ever, with a cheery personality just adding to her cuteness. She gets better
  • Boxey from Battlestar Galactica, especially in the episode 'Fire in Space' except for almost losing Muffit. He is initially downtrodden by the loss of his daggit during the Destruction but soon lights up when he gains a robotic replacement and has never been without smiles and giggles since.
  • Firefly: Sometimes, underneath the psychosis and psychological trauma, there are glimpses of River being one of these. Made poignant in a flashback when we see here as a child, and she definitely was before the Academy got hold of her.

    Music 
  • Lindsey Stirling's "We Found Love" was made in Kenya and includes a number of local people. Some are children who she holds briefly or plays with. She also performs in their classroom, and they clap along happily. Later, she describes what an honor it was to be with them.

    Theatre 
  • In Albert Herring, Emmie, Cis and Harry are always seen in an ebullient mood, even on the manhunt for Albert.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has two examples, one straight and one subverted.
    • Charlie Bucket is the straight example. He's not the soul of Incorruptible Pure Pureness he is in the novel, as he's prone to daydreaming and even a little mischief now and then. (To hear his grandparents recount the legends of Willy Wonka night after night, he convinces them each time that no, they haven't told him before...) But for a child who lives in poverty, he makes the best of the hand he's been dealt thanks to being a more grounded Mr. Imagination, and is the light of his family's lives. When his hopes of finding a Golden Ticket fade and he falls into a blue funk, the change deeply troubles his loved ones.
    • Augustus Gloop, the first Golden Ticket finder, is the subversion. He is just as happy and constantly upbeat as Charlie and his family regards him as Big Fun. The Buckets and the audience quickly realize he's actually a Fat Bastard whose happiness comes solely from his gigantic appetite being constantly appeased, as eating is all he does. He has lousy manners and is proud of saying he eats pigs limb from limb! Finally, he decides he just has to drink straight from the chocolate waterfall in the Wonka Factory — the only part of the Chocolate Room Mr. Wonka declares off-limits, for sanitary purposes — and falls in; his being sent to an Uncertain Doom via the plumbing system as the Oompa-Loompas and Mr. Wonka mock him is played as a vicious variant on Break the Cutie.
  • The Rose Tattoo has a few of these as extras, such as the little boy bouncing a rubber ball at the wake (much to Rosa's outrage).

    Video Games 
  • Kirby counts as one as well (Even though he may or may not technically be an alien).
  • Pac-Man becomes one in Pac Man Party.note 
  • Despite the combat-oriented nature of the series, a couple of Touhou characters fit this trope. Mostly these are fairly weak characters like Chen or the Aki sisters, but then there's Bonus Boss Suwako Moriya... Though it's kind of a subversion since she's Really 2000 Years Old at least. It might even be an aversion as it's unknown if her child-like appearance is her true form, and it's been all but outright stated that her demanour is an act (though it's unknown if her cheerfulness is included in that act).
  • Cream the Rabbit from the Sonic the Hedgehog series. She's a very cheerful, kind-hearted, and optimistic 6 year old rabbit girl who enjoys playing outside, gathering flowers, and playing with her cute sidekick, Cheese the Chao. Also, both Tails and Charmy Bee fits into this trope as well, although they are both a nerd and Keet as well, respectively.
  • Mistral of .hack acts like this all the time. Turns out she is a housewife.
  • Link's little sister Aryll. Also Malon and Romani.
  • Kulche in Loco Roco. Hey, if you can keep your smile and sing almost all the time when a threat isn't 5 meters away from you, it should count.
  • Apparently, Brick from Borderlands was absolutely adorable as a little child, grinning happily as he cuddled a puppy in his massively oversized hands in the treehouse with him and his future mercenary friends. Then we get into the game, where he blows things apart with rockets, shotguns, and a pipe, and goes into furious rages where he makes people explode by punching them and screaming blood. Not for blood. Just screaming the word 'blood.' Repeatedly.
  • Susumu Hori of Mr. Driller is the game's example of this trope.
  • Lip and Furil from Panel de Pon could give all of the above examples a run for their money. Individually.
  • Yonah from Video Game/NIER. Despite having a terminal illness, she's always positive and upbeat, if her diary entries are any indication.

    Visual Novels 
  • In the sequel to Fate/stay night, Fate/hollow ataraxia, Kogil serves this role. Of course... he's the younger version of Gilgamesh, who as we know is more than a little messed up.
    • Ilya is also very capable of being this trope... As long as she's not commanding her nine-foot tall monster servant to rip you limb from limb because she's bored... Or trying to control your mind with magic... Or just in other ways being the perfect example of the Creepy Child.

    Web Comics 
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, a Flash Back reveals that Antimony used to be quite cheerful. Surprisingly so, in light of the fact that in the present day, she's a slowly-defrosting Emotionless Girl. Apparently, the intervening years were not kind to her.
    • It doesn't quite help when your mother dies and you're the one who has to guide her into the afterlife. Not to mention being abandoned by your father afterwards.
    • Kat, at least through their first year, tended to be one of the most cheerful and optimistic of Annie's class, contrasting starkly with Annie's stoicism and emotional reserve.
  • Quinn Akaelae, the raccoon psychic from The Cyantian Chronicles is definitely a cheerful child, clear past adulthood. Contrast to her "brother", who seems to have a darker outlook on life.
  • Max from Max Overacts is usually optimistic and over energetic in his efforts to entertain himself and others.
  • Schism from Discordia is a Cheerful Child... with the powers of a God.
  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl, Molly appears to be a prime example of this trope, despite having a very upsetting past.
  • Snuggleninja is always happy, even when he can't find what he is looking for.
  • Donny of Ears for Elves is this and a Tagalong Kid, much to Tanna's despair since she has to look after him. He also always wants to play, and will hold you to your word if you say "later".
  • Mia of True Villains is extensively this. Bright, giddy, and grinning almost constantly.
  • Sausage / Cody in WooHoo fits the trope, as an enthusiastic member of a Scout-type organization. Identifying as gender-neutral, Sausage is just interested in science and in making the city a better place.

    Web Originals 
  • Erikas New Perfume's titular character is this, when she isn't insanely embarrassed. Also from what little we see of Sarah before she grows up she seemed to fit this as well.
  • Red from Pokémon Red and Blue is portrayed like this in There Will Be Brawl, showing him to truly care about the Pokémon and is one of the few truly Good characters in a Grey and Gray Morality setting, making his death all the more poignant, especially since it was indirectly the protagonist's fault.
    • Ness and Lucas had made a cameo in one episode playing and looking to fill this trope too. They turn out to be the serial killers who killed and stuffed all the victims in the series.
  • Binkyas per her description as she has a Meaningful Name for doing something rabbits do when happy, which is binkying, and she is always binkying, thus she is very happy all the time. Omitted from her description, though, she is only unhappy while sick and sad and wouldn't binky if frightened
    • When one first meets her, Eglantine seems to be this, as she is excited about just about everything, even meeting those she doesn't know. Oddly, Parental Abandonment has no effect on her cheerful personality.
  • Jeannette of Funny Business seems to be this trope. She is actually concealing some serious self-loathing so as not to burden anybody else with her problems. Lucy and Lewis play the trope straight, though.

    Western Animation 
  • In Thundercats 2011
    • Wilykat and Wilykit are a pair of plucky, eternally optimistic Artful Dodgers, despite having grown up in the slums of The Empire.
    • In "Song of the Petalars" Emrick the Petalar, a foil and surrogate sibling for Lion-O, is also a young Pollyanna, quite convinced that, despite being trapped in the Briar Woods for generations, Lion-O and his Thundercats will help them find a way back home.
  • The Deegan twins in Holly Hobbie And Friends: Christmas Wishes have managed to remain largely cheerful, despite their mother's desire to shun Christmas and things related to it following the death of her husband/their father. Also, Holly and her friends to some degree.