Dogbert: Is it true that you pretend to be cute in order to manipulate adults!!
Little Girl: [sniff, sniff]
Dogbert: Oh, hey, wait... I'm just kidding. Can I buy you something expensive?This is a kid who has all the stereotypically adorable childlike mannerisms: thumb-sucking, lisping, Puppy-Dog Eyes, and so on. Really, though, they're just faking it all; they've figured out it's a good way to get what they want. Sometimes characters like this are Really 700 Years Old (and probably took the form of a small child precisely because it lends itself to being manipulative). On the other hand, they might just be kids who've figured out their elders' emotional cheat codes. In Japan, this often overlaps with the burikko, that is, a fake Kawaiiko. Compare Kawaiiko, as well as the more sinister Enfant Terrible, who just might use this to get away with their horrible deeds, and The Fake Cutie, who does something similar, despite being an adult. Contrast the genuinely-adorable Cheerful Child. A favorite tactic of Little Miss Con Artist.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In Pokémon, there was once a wild Teddiursa that behaved like this to get food from trainers and tourists. He became a nuisance until he evolved into Ursaring, when he couldn't use his charms to get stuff anymore. Except from Team Rocket.
- Two regions later, in Sinnoh, a Togepi played everyone for saps to get full run of Team Rocket's new base. Including the built-in space rocket.
- Sora in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V plays up his cute angle to get Yuya's mom to fawn over him, give him free food, and possibly a place to sleep. He even tries to entertain the crowd by playing up the cuteness of his monsters during his duel against Shun. Though largely, his cuteness is mostly an act to cover up his mission to eliminate Yuto and Shun.
- In Slayers:
- The very powerful and very evil Demon Lord Hellmaster Fibrizo often takes the form of a young child to deceive people. He fools everyone who sees him, up to and including another Demon Lord. The only one to see through his disguise is Xelloss, who in any case is openly working for him. Sort of. For a while, anyway. In the manga, Fibrizo takes the form of a girl who happens to also be an actual character from Lina's past. When Fibrizo is defeated, the girl is set free, so it might have been some sort of possession.
- Lina herself has been known to do this occasionally (prominently early in the first novel), taking advantage of her slight build and, ah, flat figure to appear cute, harmless and slightly ditzy.
- Detective Conan:
- Conan Edogawa often does this to throw people off from suspecting he's really seventeen-year-old Shinichi Kudo. Though he can on occasion take it too far and has a time or two been called out by his kid friends for doing it. The really impressive part is that, when he's nosing around crime scenes, he has to walk a very fine line so that his adorable-little-kidness draws the adults' attention to important clues, without drawing their attention to how frequently this happens (or, worse, that he's doing it deliberately), and, for the most part, he pulls it off.
- Fellow shrinkee Ai Haibara typically doesn't bother with this, though one of the movies subverts the trope by having her attempt to be a Deliberately Cute Child freak the hell out of Conan.
- Murumo, the little brother of the main character of Mirumo De Pon!, acts like the sweetest kid in front of most people, but his dark side is usually revealed to the audience and his older brother. One of his image songs is about this trope.
- Czes from Baccano!. Really 700 Years Old. He does tend to drop the Adorably Precocious Child act pretty quickly, but keeps claiming that he's not used to being treated any other way.
- In Baccano!'s successor series, Durarara!!, Aoba is one. He's so good at pulling it off that he's managed to frame his brother for many crimes as well as getting away with many of them. Add the fact that he's described with a baby face despite being a high school student. Of course, he lets it slip every now and then...and when he does...
- Rita from the Final OVA of Haré+Guu, who appears to be the nicest person in the whole class, until it turns out she does it selfishly to get praise and make herself happy In the end, Haré's presence and comforting turn her into a genuinely nice person. Guu herself does this on occasion, most notably during her introduction.
- Saki from Kanamemo. While a Little Miss Snarker at work, she acts cute in public in order to sell newspaper subscriptions.
- Pride of Fullmetal Alchemist, aka Selim Bradley, pretends to be a sweet and kind young boy. In reality, he is a cruel little monster who has a habit of eating his allies when they are no longer of use to him.
- Amber of Darker Than Black suffers from Merlin Sickness and thus has the form of a moe girl. She talks in a cute voice and will do things such as, for instance, suffer from Cuteness Proximity when interacting with Mao. She is also an incredibly ruthless (albeit well-intentioned) Magnificent Bastard.
- Miharu from Nabari no Ou fits this trope to a T. He blushes wildly in order to get his way in what seems like a hundred different situations, from forcing a basketball player on the opposing team to let him make a basket to getting a shopkeeper to give him free clothes.
- Stella from Arakawa Under the Bridge appears to be a sugary-sweet orphan girl who just wants to give people a big hug when Kou first meets her. She quickly reveals her true nature as a Cute Bruiser with a mean streak who can and will beat him up to hold dominance over him.
- Medusa of Soul Eater attempts this once or twice after she takes over the body of a young girl. Doesn't really work, actually.
Medusa: Why do I have to wear this, Mister? It gives my hands ouchies!
- In the manga she convinces Spirit to unchain her by appearing cute and so reminding him of his own, not-possessed daughter. Typical Medusa, she pulls off a similar trick in reverse—remind the daughter of her father—on Maka in the Baba Yaga arc. Forget the Clowns, pulling such simple tricks (justifiably, given who and how) like that is why she, not Asura, is the proper Big Bad.
- Break Blade's Niko is the borderline codifier. She's an Ax-Crazy Blood Knight, older than she looks, and knows exactly what she's doing. The guy caught up in the cuteness? Still reacting that way despite coming across her with her gun pointed at someone's head and her knife pointed at his crotch.
- Mitsukuni Haninozuka from Ouran High School Host Club. Despite being a high school senior, "Honey" just loves to play the role of a Adorably Precocious Child for the Host Club's customers. But don't take him lightly because of his short stature and his love of cake and stuffed animals; he's also the latest in a long line of martial artists and will kick your ass if you threaten his friends.
- Black Butler:
- The master of this trope is Ciel Phantomhive, at least in the manga. He's cold and calculating (unless you're Lizzie) to a vicious degree...and he will remind you of this every chance he gets if you work with him. Even then, however, when he acts his age, you may still fall into the trap. Ask the resident Funny Foreigner. However, the Phantomhive Manor Murder arc averted this as hard as it could: everyone present aside from Arthur Conan Doyle was well aware that Ciel was mentally capable of anything from being adorable and sweet to cold-blooded murder. And then played it straight at the same time, by tricking Arthur—the only person there who didn't know of Ciel's reputation beforehand—into thinking of Ciel as a child with too many responsibilities who mostly pretends to be stronger and colder then he is.
- A more innocent version of this trope is Ciel's cousin/fiancée Lizzie, who just wants to be a proper girly-girl, not a tough sword-fighting Little Miss Bad Ass.
- Last Order (Misaka Imouto 20,001) of A Certain Magical Index does this every once in a while. She'd probably be more effective if her Verbal Tic didn't force her to narrate herself.
- Gangsta features Doug, a Twilight wielding kukris, who (of course) isn't actually a child.
- Ruka from Idol Project plays this up to the max.
- Though a little older than most examples of this trope, Yokosuka Jou from Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin learns to use his innocuous beauty to manipulate the perverted doctor working at the reformatory institute he is held. In the ensuing conversation, he plays up his cuteness by switching pronouns, using the more soft-spoken "boku" rather than the rough "ore" he ordinarily employs.
- We learn in Jaco the Galactic Patrolman that the entire Saiyan race is this trope. Saiyans have long childhoods to stay cute and young to throw off their enemies, thinking they're harmless, before quickly growing into their adult size. Which is why Goku looked so young when he was a child.
- Attack on Titan: How Eren managed to stab two men to death in order to save Mikasa.
- Molly Hayes from Runaways is a slightly older (eleven at the opening of the story) variation.
- In the All Ages Power Pack comics, Franklin Richards uses this on a ticket collector when he and Mass Master run away, complete with lisp and puppy dog eyes.
- X-23 exploited this for many of her early assassinations, taking full advantage of her appearance to get close to targets without arousing suspicion of what she really is. Especially her first assassination, (she even fooled Captain America with her act) and later when she rescued her cousin Megan from a serial pedophile and child-killer.
- Her younger sister, Gabby, plays this much straighter, frequently flashing Puppy-Dog Eyes to butter people up rather than resorting to force like Bellona.
- Vivio in the Lyrical Nanoha Fan Web Comic by Q-Ice does this mostly to annoy her Jerk Ass future mother. Karma's a bitch◊.
- In the first arc of Touhou Ibunshu, Rumia combines this with a Wounded Gazelle Gambit to manipulate Remiu into removing her ribbon. Later, Reimu falls for this again when Remilia pretends to a scared child helping her escape, only to eventually turn on her.
- In Four Deadly Secrets, Ruby ruthlessly exploits her cute and innocent appearance to pull the wool over everyone's eyes or avoid awkward questions. Miltia learns to see through it.
- Veruca Salt in Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tries this out on Willy Wonka, but he's not fooled. Ditto for her counterpart in the 2013 West End stage musical based on the novel.
- Orphan has Esther Coleman, who can charm any adult she wants with her carefully-calculated veneer of wistful cuteness. It's so deliberate she even wears her hair in curls and only dresses in old-fashioned classic little-girl clothing.
- In Kick-Ass, Mindy pulls this trick on D'Amico's goons by showing up at his place in school uniform and pig-tails, claiming to have lost her mommy and daddy. It doesn't work out well for the goons.
- In Interview with the Vampire, Claudia uses this kind of behavior to lure and play with her prey. One particular scene shows her sitting on a bench crying and letting the woman who comes to help her hug for longer than necessary before biting her.
- Harley tries to use this tactic on Tony Stark in Iron Man 3 so he can be Tony's Tagalong Kid. However, Tony realizes what he's doing and instead redirects the impact of the ruse back as a trollish remark.
Tony: Wait, you're guilt-tripping me, aren't you?
Harley: I'm cold.
Tony: I can tell. You know how I can tell? Cause we're connected. [drives away]
Harley: It was worth a shot.
- Played for horror in Screamers, where an orphaned child carrying a teddy bear turns out to be a Type III Screamer, a Killer Robot designed to play on a soldier's sympathy so he'll take the 'child' into a sealed bunker.
Type III: Can I come with you?
- In The Annunciation, it's unclear how old Lucifer is supposed to look at the start of the film, since he's played by a young girl, but in his initial appearance, he pulls a number of child-like strategies to endear himself to Adam and Eve.
- Jerin of A Brother's Price deliberately uses childish words when he's kidnapped, in order to make himself seem more harmless. He's 15, but lives in a world where boys are extremely sheltered because they're so rare, (and other boys of his age actually act like they're eleven or twelve) so it's somewhat believable. He never tries to pull this off in front of his own family, probably because his mothers taught him how to do it in the first place - they're descended from grandmothers who were spies.
- Twyla from Hogfather:
Twyla: I'm afwaid of the monster in the cellar, Thusan. It's going to eat me up.Susan: What have I told you about trying to sound ingratiatingly cute, Twyla?Twyla: You said I mustn't. You said that exaggerated lisping is a hanging offense and I only do it to get attention.
- Twinkle from House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones, who falls into the Really 700 Years Old box. Well, 'Really About Thirty'. He has a good reason for it: he's deliberately drawing attention away from the real child, his son, so that any potential kidnappers will go after him instead. It works, too.
- Bane from The Death Gate Cycle is a particularly creepy combination of this trope with Enfant Terrible.
- When April from "Dustbin Baby" enters into her fourth foster home, she realizes that one of the older girls will like her better if she acts this way. Because April is a little lost and needs a friend and caregiver, she obliges.
- Aphrael, the Child-Goddess of David Eddings' The Elenium and The Tamuli. As her name suggests she usually manifests in the form of a child, and knowingly uses this to manipulate others into giving her what she wants. To her credit, she feels genuine love and affection for those around her and goes to great lengths to protect them. (She notes that it doesn't just work on mortals. Even her fellow gods can be swayed if she climbs into their lap.) She also observes that Danae will be a new experience for her, as she can't exactly rightly avoid growing up as a supposedly mortal princess — while she remains one throughout the series, she at one point a bit into The Tamuli meets another of Aphrael's incarnations, Flute, and they comment on the first physical hints of her maturing out of this being there while Flute remains the same as she's always been.
- Kalianah, the Goddess of Love in Jennifer Fallon's Demon Child Trilogy, pulls this as well. Unfortunately, the gods in that universe are more than a little self-centered.
- From The Heritage of Shannara, there is Tib Arne. What a cute, enthusiastic little boy. Oh, one more thing, he's a member of The Heartless, ripped people apart frighteningly easily, and then delivered "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Wren. It is actually not an act in this case, and even when revealed as the mole, he acts like a child about it.
- Baby Dwopple in the Redwall book Marlfox steals food and shoots adults with a miniature sling, then clings to his adoptive mother, weeping and exaggerating his Baby Talk beyond even usual Dibbun levels, until she yells at the others for trying to tell him off.
- Markie in Little Myth Marker does adorable little-kid things like mispronouncing words and bluntly spitting out offensive statements. She turns out to be an character assassin sent to ruin Skeeve's reputation and a full-grown woman to boot; natives of her dimension just happen to look like seven-year-old Klahds their entire lives.
- Willie Connolly in the J.R. Lowell novel Daughter Of Darkness carefully maintains a facade as a darling, adorable, and very happy Child Prodigy. She really is twelve, but that's about it.
- In Mark Clifton's novella "Star Bright", five-year-old Star Holmes has an IQ somewhere in the quadruple digits, but is legally required to go to kindergarten, so she pulls an adorable-dimwit act. The class leader (a "stupid"—that is, someone of normal intelligence) takes charge of her and tells everyone they have to like her.
- Amber Brown in the A is for Amber books.
- Game of Thrones:
- In the season 3 finale, Tomboy Action Girl Arya Stark acts like a miserable, vulnerable, wide-eyed child in order to catch a soldier off guard. She then stabs him, repeatedly and viciously, for his role in killing her mother and brother.
- The warlock assassin in "Valar Dohaeris" takes this form to disarm suspicions.
- One episode of Highlander features an immortal with the body of a ten-year-old boy. He uses his seeming innocence to get close to other immortals, and then takes their heads when they aren't looking.
- Michelle Tanner on Full House fits this trope to a T during her toddler years—it's even lampshaded by her uncles a few times. When she grows older, the role gets filled by twins Nicky and Alex.
- In the Criminal Minds episode "Safe Haven", the UnSub is a thirteen-year-old who gets his victims to trust him by being cute and appearing vulnerable.
- In Malcolm in the Middle, Malcolm and his brothers often accuse Dewey of being a Deliberately Cute Child. Dewey himself is aware of this and exploits it (usually to get affection by crying).
- In one episode of The X-Files, two cute little girls turn out to be super-genius psychopaths who killed their respective fathers at the exact same time thousands of miles apart, and continuously use their cuteness and youth to trick and manipulate the unwary.
- The title character of Buster Brown, with his pageboy haircut, fancy clothes, and delicate features, is able to get away with all kinds of mischief.
- In Garfield, Nermal is a perpetually wide-eyed kitten. When asked how he's stayed that way for so many years, he replies, "I think small...and the coffee and the cigarettes don't hurt."
- This Dilbert strip.
- As the page image shows, Calvin does this repeatedly, with varying amounts of success.
- Babette, a 300-year old vampire and member of the Dark Brotherhood (assassin's guild) in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. She became a vampire at age 8, so that's how she still appears, and uses this appearance to her advantage.
- Remember that little girl that got captured at the beginning of Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters? Turns out she's actually a puppet created by tiny monsters to fool the protagonists into rescuing "her" so that the Big Bad can clone one of them.
- Conker's Bad Fur Day: There is a little girl trapped in the war laboratory, but she just uses that to lure the invading rodent special-ops teams into deadly ambushes. Said little girl is actually grafted to a twenty-foot hulking monstrosity with multiple doomsday weapons equipped. You kill them both.
- From Higurashi: When They Cry, Rika Furude is universally adored by everyone in the town, especially her friends. However, she's also fully aware of the town's "Groundhog Day" Loop and remembers all of her past lives, meaning she's arguably one of the oldest and wisest people in Hinamizawa, despite being stuck in the body of a prepubescent girl. She is extremely unsettling whenever she drops her cheerful and innocent facade, to the point that the sharp contrast can easily be misattributed to Demonic Possession in the early chapters (before the audience understands what's really happening in Hinamizawa). Her reason for adopting the Cheerful Child persona is less about manipulating people and more about not wanting to alarm anyone unless the situation is serious.
- Annie of Catena uses this (and a flail) to get into a D&D game.
- Though an adult, Kalki from Drowtales really pushes the borders of cutesy behavior. She's probably trying to avoid being associated with the mass slaughter she took part in some years back.
- She clearly takes after who mother, who also uses cuteness and sexiness to mask her ruthless political backstabbing skill and Caligula-overshadowing omnicidal insanity.
- Autumn of Precocious uses a schoolgirl uniform to try to invoke this in others. Dionne is also said to do this when enrolled a beauty pageant; off the clock, she prefers her throne of bones.
- Elsa from Open Blue fakes being The Ingenue as part of her modus operandi.
- Whateley Universe:
“My MC 050- ‘Common Sense for Dingbats’- class is here,” Grimes said in a martyred tone. “They’re churning out a hundred pages of the Code of Ethics.”“Oh, what did they do now?”...Grimes sighed, “... I know that they have to be disciplined and taught better, but dammit all, why do _I_ have to be ‘Miss Hardbroom’ all the time?”“Because you’re good at it?” Caduceus answered wryly.“Yes,” Earth Mother agreed, her round merry face smiling wanly. “Lords of Light know _I_ couldn’t handle them. I mean every time I try to talk simple sense to Clover, she just looks at me with those big eyes, and she is just So Kyute! And then Abra starts nattering about some triviality and Palantir starts fussing, and before I know it, they’ve completely weaseled their way around me!”...When Grimes got back to the classroom, she found all three of her charges with their heads on their desks, eyes closed, breathing deeply with their pencils still in their hands. “Oh,” Grimes cooed, “The little darlings are asleep! How cyuuute!” She leaned over and snapped in Palantir’s ear, “It’s not working, Irene! I said twenty times, and I MEANT twenty times!”“NUTS!”
- The Three Little Witches, from their eponymous story, when its discussed how they get away with things if it isn't Mrs. Grimes who's handling them:
‘Asha’ (the pronunciation of ‘Ayesha’) was JJ’s younger sister, and the baby of the family. She was 6 years old, and looked like a little blonde angel with big guileless blue eyes; and she had already learned how to use that fact like a club....They were seated by the proper protocols, except for Asha, who was allowed to have Musette seated next to her on her own chair.
- Ayesha Harrow, seen in The Final Trump (Part 1):
- Tinny Tim from Futurama is programmed to act this way. In one episode, where he sells lemonade, he says he's even programmed to make cute little backwards letters on signs.
- Though not technically children, Nibbler and the Catz from "Those Darn Catz" do this.
Nibbler: Nothing acts that cute without some ulterior motive. [starts acting cute in order to get Amy to change his diaper]
- Though not technically children, Nibbler and the Catz from "Those Darn Catz" do this.
- Tweety Bird of Looney Tunes fame. "Aw, da poor puddy tat. He faw down an' go boom!" This, after carefully arranging poor Sylvester's defeat.
- Charley, a frequently-abandoned dog who appeared in a few Chuck Jones cartoons, also employed this trope. "Big-soulful-eyes routine. Gets 'em every time." When people walk on past and ignore him, he remarks, "Well, nearly every time."
- In the Chuck Jones cartoon "Baby Buggy Bunny", diminutive bank robber Baby Face Finster, aka Ant Hill Harry, impersonates an adorable baby to evade the police, and later infiltrates Bugs Bunny's rabbit hole when Bugs accidentally gets his hands on his stolen money. Bugs falls for it initially. Once he realizes he's been had, it's bad news for Finster.
- All three Watterson children from The Amazing World of Gumball can pull this off, but Darwin does it the best. In fact, in The Safety, he becomes an all powerful dictator, just because everyone thinks he's too adorable to say no to.
- In Pinky and the Brain, Brain once disguises himself as an overly cute little girl to (you guessed it...) Take Over the World.
- The one-shot characters called the Cuddlemuffins from My Gym Partner's a Monkey. They pretend to be very cute for Adam so that they can take his money to buy food pellets, which they do CONSTANTLY. Jake, Slips, and Windsor eventually help Adam when he sells his hair to pay the Cuddlemuffins off, but when they show up to act cute towards their next 3 victims, Adam stops it once and for all by shaving off the Cuddlemuffins' coats, as well as his friends'.
- Pupert from The Buzz on Maggie is insanely good at this.
- Angelica Pickles from Rugrats acts this way around grown-ups. Around the babies, it's another matter.
- Suzy Johnson, Jeremy's little sister, from Phineas and Ferb. She fools her brother, but not Candice or Buford, who are both terrified of her.
- In Batman: The Animated Series, the villain Baby Doll tries this on Batman and others. However, because she is actually a woman in her late thirties with a defect that prevents her from physically aging past 10 years old, and is also completely out of her mind, it doesn't work for her.
- In Fillmore!, Cornelius Fillmore and Ingrid Third are on their way to a store to get evidence. By the time they get there, the store's closed. In order to charm the store owner into letting them in Ingrid, normally a Perky Goth, announces, "I'm going to have to use my cute face. This won't be pretty." Later, Fillmore comments, "You sure took one for the team, Ingrid."
- June of KaBlam!. If you were to look at the "cute" act she puts on every once and a while, with no prior knowledge of her character, you wouldn't guess that she's one of the most (if not the most) hot-headed characters on the show.
- Appeared on an episode of The Critic when Jay's boss tried to improve his image. Jay suggests having his son appear on the show with him—but, rather than use Jay's actual son, his boss brings in a child actor whose cuteness comes complete with an "adowable" speech impediment. When Jay declares the kid "wepuwsive" the boy's voice goes down an octave, the impediment disappears, and he informs Jay (in a Brooklyn accent) that the speech impediment is trademarked.
- Dot Warner of Animaniacs exploits her cuteness for all it's worth.
- Claire from Titan Maximum is a twenty-one-year-old who looks eight, but she also talks and acts like she's eight, complete with an obsession for cuteness, and using words such as "sowwy". She's also an expert assassin.
- Wilykat and Wilykit in Thundercats 2011 are Catfolk kittens depicted as a pair of Artful Dodgers who survived the slums of Thundera by playing up their cuteness when they weren't simply outsmarting and running circles around their targets. This is especially obvious when they first ask if they can tag along with Lion-O's group after Thundera is sacked, complete with Faux Paw and kittenish mewling.
- Gideon Gleeful of Gravity Falls uses this whenever he can to get out of trouble.
- Dipper and Mabel do this to get more "Summerween" candy out of people when trick or treating. They even wear matching costumes.
Mabel: Twins in costumes, the people eat it up.
- Dipper and Mabel do this to get more "Summerween" candy out of people when trick or treating. They even wear matching costumes.
- The The Powerpuff Girls episode "Sweet N Sour" had one-shot villains which were three adorable baby animals who held up banks and jewelry stores. But since they were SO CUTE the clerks in the store just give them everything, and if the Powerpuff Girls so much as come near them, THEY will be labeled as the bad guys. In truth, the three cute animals are rude, manipulative, greedy, and threaten the Girls that they will invoke this trope if they try and put them in jail. And they DO. They end up defeating them by making them think a kindergarten is a bank and they get cuddled and manhandled by a bunch of little kids.
- Darla Dimple in Cats Don't Dance.
- Subverted on Daria, when the title character is roped into babysitting the ridiculously well-behaved Gupty kids.
Daria: Okay, you can drop the angel act.Tricia: What do you mean?Tad: (excitedly) Is it time to floss yet?
- In the Tom and Jerry cartoon, Nibbles qualifies as this.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, a young Princess Azula can put on this facade, contrasting with other behavior such as throwing rocks at baby turtle ducks, burning a doll her uncle sent her as a gift and cheerfully telling her brother in a sing-song voice that their dad is planning to kill him.
- Kaeloo: Mr. Cat tries to invoke this trope, but it usually doesn't work.
- In Miraculous Ladybug, Manon is an expert at playing cute in order to keep Marinette wrapped around her little finger. Naturally, her Akumatized form, the Puppeteer, has the power to manipulate people.