Dogbert: Is it true that you pretend to be cute in order to manipulate adults!!
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
, 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
, 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
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Anime and Manga
- 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.
- 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 Tamuli: As her name suggests, she constantly retains the form of a child, and just as constantly 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.
- 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.
- In the season 3 finale of Game of Thrones, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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'.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?