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
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Anime and Manga
- Chiyo Mihama from Azumanga Daioh (in the picture above) just radiates with cheer and cuteness.
- Rihoko from Witchblade could seriously challenge her for the poster child of this trope.
- 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.
- Most of the girls from Ichigo Mashimaro.
- 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.
- Sasami from Tenchi Muyo!.
- 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.
- Asu from Binbou Shimai Monogatari.
- Ryo and Luna from Little House with an Orange Roof.
- Mizuki from Mokke, when she's not being pestered by some spirits - and sometimes even when she is.
- Mahoraba has two of these: Asami Kurosaki and Nanako Aoba.
- Ai from ARIA
- 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...
- Tomohane from Inukami!. Consistently cheerful and cute with Girlish Pigtails.
- 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.
- Hina Ichigo from Rozen Maiden.
- Zatch/Gash from Zatch Bell!.
- A male example: Gon in Hunter × Hunter. And, like many of the examples on this page, deeply, deeply, DEEPLY broken...
- 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.
- Another male example: Momiji from Fruits Basket.
- Chi (a female kitten) and Youhei (a little boy) from Chis Sweet Home.
- Vivio from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS.
- Also Nanoha herself, to a lesser extent, before the Time Skip.
- 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.
- Kyon's sister in Haruhi Suzumiya.
- 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.
- OK, Yuno of Hidamari Sketch is overaged a bit (she's 15), but she completely fits the archetype.
- 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.
- Sakura Kinomoto, and almost every other female member of her cast.
- The titular Shion from Shion No Ou.
- 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.
- Roll in Mega Man Upon A Star, voiced by Andrea Libman in the English dub.
- Shouta from Happy Yarou Wedding, especially when he's doing his Takoyaki Man routine.
- Kou, Fuu's younger brother in Tamayura.
- Chirin from Chirin No Suzu, at least for the first fifteen minutes of the film.
- Rin Kokonoe from Kodomo No Jikan before her mother died.
- 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.
- Princess Sparkle from Spider Riders.
Sparkle begs her "Uncle Hop" to let her come along on a dangerous mission. Grasshop refuses and tells her, "You just stay here and be cute."
- 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.
- 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.
- Despicable Me: Agnes.
- Epic: Marigold Girl.
- 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!"
- Ducky of The Land Before Time.
- 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"]]
- Meet the Robinsons: Young Franny.
- Monsters, Inc.: Boo.
- Mystery Team: Brianna, the girl who hires the team, is rather cheerful for a girl whose parents just died.
- Oz: The Great and Powerful: China Girl.
- The Lion King: Simba.
- Revolution 2009: Az'Az is a pretty happy kid.
- Shirley Temple.
- Wreck-It Ralph: Vanellope von Schweetz.
- Frozen: Anna and Elsa before the incident.
- 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.
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
- 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.
- Beth in the opera The Tender Land.
- In Albert Herring, Emmie, Cis and Harry are always seen in an ebullient mood, even on the manhunt for Albert.
- Charlie Bucket in the 2013 musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 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.
- Again, Mega Man: Roll, Roll, Roll (at age 10)
- Kirby counts as one as well (Even though he may or may not technically be an alien).
- Cheerful White Bomber.
- 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).
- Crash Bandicoot in the 2005-2008 games.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ushio from CLANNAD.
- Pearl from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.
- Only after she warms up to Phoenix. She spends most of the second game blushing and silent.
- A more straight example would be 8 years old Trucy Enigmar. Her adorable, radiant smile is so effective, it manages to cure one major character's deep depression.
- Hisui, from Tsukihime, was quite cheerful as child, until Shiki left; at which point she become not so cheerful anymore.
- Finding out that her twin older sister Kohaku is trapped in the mansion being raped almost daily (and that the only reason it's not happening to her is by Kohaku's efforts) probably had something to do with it. That, and she stays "emotionless" to keep Kohaku from reverting. Too bad Kohaku has already become an Emotionless Girl under her Genki Girl facade....
- Coco of Ever17 is technically a little old for this trope (she if 14 years old), but looks like, acts like and is mistaken for an elementary student. Occasionally she has little streaks of not-quite-despair which makes sense when you realize she's seeing the future/talking to people in the future, where she doesn't seem to exist anymore. But she cheers up quickly enough anyway and plays strange games like staring contests with dogs or pretending to be a chicken.
- Rika◊ from Higurashi: When They Cry. Subverted when we find out that she actually understands what's going on better than anyone else and is rather dissatisfied with her current situation, but she pretends to be happy and optimistic for the sake of her friends. Until season two.
- Maria, of Umineko: When They Cry, was evidently this way in her backstory, in spite of having an Abusive Parent, but after an event mentioned in the fourth arc, became a jarring mix between this and a Creepy Child.
- Kate from Count Your Sheep.
- 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.
- Mistake from Dandy and Company.
- Molly the Peanut Butter Monster from The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!.
- Jacquline from Samurai Princess despite her less than cheerful past.
- I ate a sock!
- Bittersweet Candy Bowl, Molly appears to be a prime example of this trope, despite having a very upsetting past.
- Fennoswede from Scandinavia and the World
- Mimi from Fiyora Nya.
- 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.
- 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.
- Aang in the early seasons of Avatar the Last Airbender.
- Molly Cunningham from TaleSpin.
- Jazmine from The Boondocks.
- Mindy from Animaniacs.
- Orel Puppington, until Moral Orel's second season finale.
- Jake from Taz-Mania.
- Bubbles from The Powerpuff Girls.
- Ding-A-Ling Wolf from the Hokey Wolf segment of The Huckleberry Hound Show.
- Flapjack from The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack.
- Mac from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.
- Loopy from KaBlam!
- Penny Tompkins in The Critic.
- Sneezer from Tiny Toon Adventures.
- In Phineas and Ferb, the number of times Phineas is sad or angry can probably be counted on one, maybe two hands.
- Mimi and Scooter Chan in The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan.
- Keef from Invader Zim takes this to somewhat creepy levels.
- Charlotte from Making Fiends takes this to rather extreme levels.
- Eugene on Hey Arnold! despite his ridiculous level of bad luck. Arnold has shades of this himself, though more in the sense of being calm and optimistic than peppy and cheerful.
- The titular star of Pearlie.
- Chowder and Panini from Chowder.
- Lemony from Yakkity Yak.
- The titular character of Jimmy Two-Shoes.
- Bessie Higgenbottom from The Mighty B!.
- Gene from Bob's Burgers.
- T.J. Detweiler from Recess.
- Finn from Adventure Time.
- 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.
- Ruby Gloom.
- Numbuh Three from Codename: Kids Next Door.
- Sweetie Belle from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
- Her two friends, Applebloom and Scootaloo, are this as well.
- Mabel from Gravity Falls.
- Strawberry Shortcake and her friends (especially in the first two incarnations.)
- Butters from South Park.
- 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.
- Pistol on Goof Troop is always cheerful, as a stark contrast to her melancholy brother and her short-tempered parents. She is often heard giggling and is usually seen with a gigantic smile, and is also a Genki Girl, which adds to her status as the Annoying Younger Sibling.
- Pac-Man (again) and Cylindria in Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures.
- Joise Small from Home Movies.
- The little girl from the Courage the Cowardly Dog episodes Curtain of Cruelty and Angry Nasty People.
- Malani in Ewoks.