She'll liven up your life... whether you like it or not!
"I brake for birds! I rock a lot of polka dots! I have touched glitter in the past 24 hours! I spent my entire day talking to children! And I find it fundamentally strange that you're not a dessert person; that's just weird and it freaks me out! And I'm sorry I don't talk like Murphy Brown! And I hate your pantsuit. I wish it had ribbons on it or something to make it slightly cuter!"
Ai from Ai-Ren has been especially brought back to life to accompany the male protagonist during his last days. Her looks and personality follow the rules of this trope to a T, but alas for the boy she is of the variety that dies before he does.
Ashita Dorobou has an interesting variant of this trope. Might be a deconstruction of sorts. Straight-laced protagonist Kyouichi Miyasako, 30 years old, broke up with his quirky, free-spirited girlfriend Ashita Tendou way back in college, and has been haunted by regret ever since. Suddenly, with a UFO hanging in the sky over Tokyo, she returns to him, wearing the same maid costume she was wearing when he dumped her, and she hasn't aged a day. He tentatively accepts her back into his life, even though something feels off about the whole situation.
Yuu Watase plays with this trope in Ayashi no Ceres with Chidori Kuruma. Although she has way more depth of character than the average MPDG (taking care of her sick younger brother and such), she tries to win over Yuuhi's heart with her child-like enthusiasm. However, although they end up being good friends, Yuuhi never loves her back, since he was already in love with The Heroine Aya. Their relationship ends up tragically when Chidori dies in his arms shortly before the end of the story.
Shuichi Shindou from Gravitation is Manic Pixie Dream Boy to Eiri Yuki. While he's actually the main character, his life revolves around drawing Yuki out of his shell to such an extent that everything else, even his singing career, takes a backseat to their relationship.
Gunnm protagonist Alita/Gally went trough a period of almost obsessive MPDG behavior when she fell madly in love with a boy named Yugo, during wich she was even willing to die for him. Unfortunately, it is Yugo who died at the exact moment Alita dragged him out of his shell.
In Hyouka, Chitanda is this to Oreki. Oreki always aims to do as little activity as possible. However, Chitanda will stare him down with wide-open eyes, tug on him, and say "I'm curious!" ("Kininarimasu!") until Oreki realises he will consume less energy by just answering her question.
The titular Cute Ghost Girl in My Lovely Ghost Kana is much more Genki Girl on the surface, but she and Daikichi play this role for each other. Daikichi starts the series contemplating suicide after a run of terrible luck, and happens to move into an apartment "haunted" by Kana, who manages to talk him out of it with her unique perspective, having successfully committed suicide years earlier with considerable dissatisfaction. Eventually, Kana convinces Daikichi that life is precious, and Daikichi's friendship cheers Kana immensely after years of solitude. Later, Kana deliberately plays the trope towards Inagawa up to a point.
In keeping with Ouran High School Host Club's theme of gender reversal, Tamaki Suoh is a male MPDG, encouraging the shy and self-reliant Haruhi to come out of her shell, and the bookish Kyouya to loosen up a bit.
Paprika's job in Paprika is being a Manic Pixie Dream Girl for men: a spritely therapist who joins them in their dreams and takes them on surrealist adventures. In her daily life, she sees herself only as a dull, proper scientist and ignores the spontaneous part of herself too much.
Misha from Pita-Ten is this toward Kotarou. In the anime she's just doing it because she believes it's what an angel should do, in the manga it's originally because Kotarou is the reincarnation of his granduncle Kotaroh, the boy she loved who commited suicide.
Mihoshi Akeno in Sora No Manimani, who has a touch of Unlucky Childhood Friend running through her in addition to being a hyperactive girl who wants to get broody book-reading protagonist Saku out into the world of the Astronomy Club.
Video Girl Ai: this trope is explored very interestingly in the manga. Ai and other Video Girls are supposed to be sort-of Robot Girl versions this, created specifically to comfort young and kind-hearted persons in trouble, and supposed to comfort them without thinking of anything similar to their own agency... but Ai being played in a defective VCR actually kickstarts her adquiring emotions of her own and questioning her role. Which then starts a sort-of snowball to roll, since her creator Rolex wants to eliminate and/or manipulate her as it first his purpose, while Youta and the old man from the Gokuraku Store rebel against this and think that Ai and other Video Girls are deserving of their own emotions and being more than just this trope. It also deconstructs the role of the man in this sort of relationship, as it is heavily hinted that while a standard Video Girl would give "pure-hearted" boys like Youta the fun-loving companionship and comfort they need, said boys would never grow as independent people, nor gain the emotional maturity to enter a real relationship. Furthermore, while "customers" know that a Video Girl's love is artificial from the get-go, they're so desperate for affection that a VG's devotion and unconditional affection would win them over regardless, and make them incapable of the real thing in the long run. On the other hand, it is explicitly shown (as an experiment from Rolex with Video Girl Mai) that equally lonely, brooding, but not-quite-pure-hearted boys would succumb to a severely codependent relationship and would end up broken even worse than they started.
Exploited in Welcome to the NHK with Misaki, who gloms onto the main characters because she needs to have the company of people she considers even more pathetic than herself.
Yankee-kun To Megane-chan subverts this. The girl forces him to help under the pretext of being the class president, making the life of the Delinquent loner hell with her hare-brained attitude and well-meaning schemes. She's only bugging him because she used to be a delinquent herself and can't relate to anyone else.
Haruko from FLCL seems like one of these, attaching herself to soulful brooding main character Naota (well, ok, she intentionally ran over him with a vespa... It's complicated) and being the main impetous behind his Coming-of-Age Story. Up until it's subverted by the reveal that she had her own agenda all along and her wacky hijinx was part of a plan to manipulate Naota until he'd served his purpose and she's not really all that interested in him as a person at all — the 'Character Development' she inspired in him was either incidental or (mostly) part of the plan.
Nyarlathotep (please, call her Nyarko) from Haiyore! Nyarko-san fits that second paragraph at the top of the page like she was poured into it. In fact, it actually works to her disadvantage, as her manic nature (including lying to people about their nonexistant sex life and impending firstborn) actually puts off her Love Interest Mahiro, who's said that he has a hard time believing her confessions of love and has admitted to himself that he'd like her better if she could take it down a few notchesnote That, and her being a LovecraftianCosmic Horrorwho only LOOKS like a cute girl kinda wrecks his mood. In fact, the few times Nyarko has toned herself down and acted dumure, even Mahiro is surprised at how attractive he finds her.
In the Angel Beats! manga, Hinata is at first a bit put off by Yuri's violent behaviour and awkward social skills, but in the end she's the one who gives him a goal and a will to struggle in his afterlife. For this reason, not only he but everyone else who later joins their group is eager to put up with her ridiculous plans and her moments of Insane Troll Logic. It helps that more often than not, said ridiculous plans end up working.
Deconstructed in the graphic novel Demo: A stressed-out businessman meets one of these girls. She encourages him to unwind and enjoy himself, as they meet over meals and he occasionally lends her money. Then one day he gets suspicious, breaks into her apartment... and finds an array of recording equipment. The reason she can say what he needs to hear is because she spies on him.
Harley Quinn/Harleen Quinzel mistakenly believes herself to be this to The Joker. She did mellow him out a bit, to the point where he didn't kill his own henchmen so often. Aww.
In Batman Confidential "Lovers and Madmen", Harley does play this role for Jack Napier. Jack was in a rut and utterly bored with his life of crime. Harley — unaware that his "job" was career criminal — told him that it sounded like he had a gift and that he ought to embrace it. Jack takes her advice and goes to his next job which leads to his fateful encounter with Batman that turns him into The Joker. Harley doesn't quite fit the mold since she has her own issues too: she's working nightshifts as a waitress at a bar to pay her college tuition and jokingly tells Jack that if he really wanted to thank her for the advice he can give her enough money to pay her way through college. After he becomes The Joker he does just that. Harley also admits to her boss that she thought Jack was cute. Cute girl attracted to the brooding guy who gives him advice that transforms him overnight? Harley's definitely an MPDG here.
In Death: The High Cost of Living, Death's incarnation on Earth fills this role towards the viewpoint character, mostly by means of inexhaustible good cheer rather than engaging in wacky antics. There's no hint of a romantic attraction from either side either, and the viewpoint character realistically finds her kind of annoying.
Played straight in Charles Burns's Body Horror opus Black Hole. Trippy artist Eliza is adorable and sweet from head to tail.
David Lapham's Young Liars is an entire series about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl Sadie and her effect on protagonist Danny's life. The trope is played with, as she is legitimately dangerous (she has absolutely no impulse control, and so has a tendency to get into fights—this is besides the Pinkerton detectives hired to hunt her down), and that the reason why she's a MPDG is that Danny shot her in the head and the bullet is destroying the moral and judgment centers of her brain, which will kill her eventually.
Subverted in ElfQuest. Aroree is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl to Skywise, although he barely needs one, but mostly to her tribe, which otherwise consists of very serious ancient elves. She gets broken and develops into a very mature, sad figure, sticking around in the main plot for the rest of the series.
The Mist in Starman thinks she's this to Jack, even comparing herself to the Kathrine Hepburn character in Bringing Up Baby. Jack pointed out that, unlike the Mist, Hepburn did not kill anybody.
Some depictions of Doctor Strange's apprentice and lover, Clea, show her playing little pranks on him whenever she thinks he looks too grim and needs to smile.
Sarah Jessica Parker's character SanDeE from LA Story (1991) starring and written by Steve Martin. Although SanDeE is a bit more nuanced take on the character. She is a classic Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but the movie portrays a relationship with her as shallow and self-indulgent for Martin's character. He is better paired with the quirky British woman.
Leeloo in The Fifth Element is zany, tiny, and cute. She literally falls into Bruce Willis's lap and begins reshaping a life that was on a downward spiral through adventure and mayhem.
Natalie Portman's character in Garden State. A fantastic representation of this trope. The main character is a guy on anti-depressant and mood stabilizers, she's a bubble of quirk who floated into his life, who randomly shakes about like a kid at one point "doing something that's completely unique, that's never been done before" and advises him to laugh all the time. By the end, he's screaming into abysses and doing dramatic runs through airports in the name of love.
The titular Mr Jones is a male deconstruction, since he has literal bipolar disorder, but does somewhat enrich the female lead's life when in his manic phase.
Although all of the Band-Aids are trying for this, Penny Lane is clearly the Manic Pixie Dream Girl of Almost Famous. Though she avoids the stereotypical MPDG ending (dead or with the guy) - she almost dies of an overdose, only to be saved by William, then breaks it off with Russell to go live her own MPDG life in Morocco without either love interest. But, of course, in doing all this she shows Russell the error of his ways so that he can make things right with William, helping both of them toward stardom. This is a deconstruction, as Penny has her own inner life and emotional arc despite hitting many MPDG notes.
Giselle from Enchanted, who has the excuse of being a fairy tale character who suddenly fell into Robert's life. She helps him loosen up, and even helps him with his relationship, only to end up falling for him. For his part, Robert helps her find some firmer ground.
Delysia Lafosse to uptight British governess Miss Pettigrew in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, although there's a bit of sharing going on and Delysia actually matures because of Miss Pettigrew as well.
The septuagenariannote very unusual for a MPDG, as they're usually no older than the protagonist and often younger Maude in Harold and Maude, who teaches young Harold to get over himself and his obsession with death. Without telling her lover, she opts for self-administered euthanasia.
Deconstructed in Woody Allen's 1977 film Annie Hall. The title character is a cheerful Bohemian, who turns out to be a spoiled, unfocused, pseudointellectual, neurotic child in an adult's body; a horribly broken person. Which gives her something in common with Woody Allen's character, who is likewise horribly broken, just in somewhat different ways. At the end of the movie, it turns out that Alvy was something of a Manic Pixie Dream Guy for Annie, in terms of teaching her how to have more confidence in her abilities and helping her to improve her own life, while most of his problems remain unsolved.
Killing Zoe features a Manic Pixie Dream Girl caught in the middle of a bank heist. She eventually gets a machine gun. Death ensues.
Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is this type of character, though the relationship plays out more realistically. She even references the "you complete me" line, to her distaste, from Jerry Maguire. She also Lampshades this to a certain degree, saying that Joel shouldn't expect her to "save" him, and that she's "just a fucked-up girl looking for her own peace of mind." Joel sums up her MPDG-ness and the film's deconstruction of it during his tape recording for Lacuna:
"I think if there's a truly seductive quality about Clementine, it's that her personality promises to take you out of the mundane. It's like, you secure yourself with this amazing, burning meteorite to carry you to another world, a world where things are exciting. But, what you quickly learn is that it's really an elaborate ruse."
Subverted with Enid from the movie version of Ghost World: told from the perspective of a sarcastic teen girl as she teaches Seymour, a shy, obsessive older man how to take chances and enjoy living; of course this destroys his life. Enid leaves to build her own life somewhere else. Seymour ends up in therapy.
Ana from Stranger Than Fiction. She isn't what convinces the protagonist to start living life again, but she certainly shows him how.
Stella from Gideons Daughter is a middle-aged Manic Pixie Dream Girl for the film's brooding middle-aged hero. Though Stella has her own issues and isn't a chirpy twentysomething, she basically exists so Gideon can enjoy life again.
The trailer shows Elisha Cuthbert playing a version of this. However, instead of simply being "quirky," she is portrayed as being Ax-Crazy, in that she may very well kill the protagonist for a lark.
In the original Korean movie, Cuthbert-equivalent's character's "quirky antics" tend to have harmful consequences, but the protagonist falls for her anyway and she does indeed teach him to live and love. However, she definitely has issues and motivations unrelated to her man, and it turns out that she's been using him as a substitute for her dead fiancé, who was the protagonist's cousin. Things end up working out, though.
Gwen Phillips in House Sitter, a con artist and a pathological liar, plays this role for Newton Davis, played by Steve Martin. He's almost as crazy as she is. They're kind of Manic Pixie Dream people to each other.
An early example is in 1968's I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (included in the A.V. Club list). Straitlaced Harold Fine, already feeling dissatisfied with life, encounters Nancy, the friend of his hippie little brother, and lets her spend the night at his apartment. As thanks, she makes him pot brownies, though he doesn't realize what they are until he's consumed them. Loosened up, he goes to thank her and they ultimately become lovers. Harold becomes a Runaway Groom to both be with Nancy and fully embrace the hippie lifestyle. But after the initial bliss, the existence and his relationship with her proves as unfulfilling and superficial as his old life was. In the end he chooses to Take a Third Option and find his own path to happiness alone.
A truly disturbing example in the form of Marla Singer, who could perhaps best be described as what happens when the Manic Pixie Dream Girl grows up. Marla is dirty, living in poverty, and clearly suffering some form of mental illness, and gets into a fairly unhealthy relationship with Tyler. The narrator is dissatisfied with social norms and consumerist trends, but lacks the will to break out of the mold on his own, leading to his association with Tyler. Marla actually infuriates the narrator because she simply doesn't care about anything. She even calls him out on all his selfish justifications for his behavior being no worse or different than her own.
In a way, the confident, flamboyant Tyler is also a MPDG to the uptight nameless narrator. There's a serious homoerotic subtext between them throughout the movie (less surprising when you realize that the author is gay). The narrator just drifts through life until Tyler shows up, and their relationship changes his life and his outlook forever. And then Tyler dies. Unlike most examples of this trope, however, the narrator kills him.
Little Bo Peep is this in Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme, a Disney Channel movie from the early 90s. Driving backwards through the patchwork landscape, she teaches the Only Sane Man in Mother Goose Land, Mother Goose's son Gordon Gander, to relax and enjoy life. He's so dull because he's literally incomplete. Mother Goose couldn't find a rhyme for Gordon.
Zooey Deschanel is often identified with this character type in general, although many of her other roles actually play with the trope rather than serve it up straight.
Allison from the Jim Carrey film Yes-Man also fits this trope, though unusually, her love interest Carl (Carrey) also contains elements of the character type, having been dared to "live live to the full" by saying "yes" to everything.
Chungking Express, features Faye the "California Dreamin'"-obsessed snack bar girl: to help a police officer get over his breakup with a flight attendant, she frequently breaks into (and floods) his apartment, switches the labels on all his canned foods, and rearranges his furniture. Eventually, he falls for her, but she stands him up and decides to "see the world" by becoming — yes — a flight attendant. But don't worry: everything works out okay.
The main character in May doesn't remotely fit this stereotype but the art school Bohemian type who meets her seems to identify her as one. They shelve the movie in the Horror section, so you can gather things don't go well.
Played with in Happy Go Lucky. The main character, Poppy, is a free-spirited extreme optimist who starts taking driving lessons from an uptight, closed-off pessimist who develops a crush on her. Subverted in that she doesn't return the feelings, and stops the driving lessons so they won't see each other again after he lampshades this trope with a rant about how selfish it is - even if she ultimately doesn't fit the trope, no one could convince him differently.
The first half of Something Wild seems to be all about this trope when free-spirited Lulu sweeps into the life of Charles Driggs and "kidnaps" him for a weekend of unplanned adventure. However, the movie undergoes a wild Mood Whiplash when Lulu (whose real name is Audrey Hankel) and Charles encounter her very violent ex-con ex-husband; by the end, Audrey/Lulu is as much changed by her time with Charles as Charles himself.
Sam Rockwell plays the buddy-movie equivalent in Box Of Moonlight. He wears a Davy Crockett costume and teaches John Turturro to love life; while there's no romance, there's certainly a lot of naked swimming.
Another male variant is Sam in Benny & Joon, and he affects two characters. Joon is a mentally-ill woman who falls for him as it comes to light that they understand each other in a way other people don't. Her brother Benny, who's taken care of her all these years, is the uptight character wary of her getting involved with someone else, and has to accept that he's not only being overprotective but also neglecting his personal happiness by worrying so much.
The eponymous character of The Girl Next Door gets our hero, Matthew Kidman, off of his overachieving ass to loosen up and have some fun for once in his life.
Gender-reversed in the Bollywood movie Kal Ho Naa Ho: Naina is an overstressed MBA student who doesn't believe in the power of love. Then wacky romantic Aman comes to her neighborhood and teaches her to enjoy life.
The whole point of the movie I Love You Man. Where Peter Klaven's repressed real estate agent is taught how to live life by the maniac pixie dream guy Sydney Fife.
Subverted in Martin Scorsese's black comedy After Hours. The girl the hero meets at the start turns out to be seriously disturbed and kills herself halfway through the movie.
Catherine in Jules And Jim. Subverted, considering that as compelling as she is, Catherine's joie-de-vivre seems to come out of self-centered sociopathy. The questionable aspects of her behavior escalate until she kills herself and Jim by driving them off a bridge in her car out of sheer whimsy.
Annie Savoy in Bull Durham is sort of consciously a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She really loves the Durham Bulls, and she knows so much about both baseball and the finer things in life that when she dates a player (she picks one per season) he has the best year of his career. She has a lot of fun with a bunch of strapping young men, helps the team improve at the same time, and makes no apologies for it.
Subverted in I Love You Beth Cooper. Although Beth Cooper's character does have a lot of these qualities, she's actually very insecure and the protagonist ends up changing her outlook on life simply by showing her that she has a lot more potential than she's giving herself credit for.
Ellie in Up. Interesting in that she only shows up in the prologue as Carl's beloved (deceased) wife. She is a catalyst for the movie's action, as Carl takes off for Paradise Falls in order to posthumously fulfill his promise to her.
Watching the Detectives is basically about what happens when Manic Pixie Dream People get together. The main character Neil is a Manic Pixie Dream Guy who aggravates everyone with his strange antics and quirks, but then Violet comes along and out-Manic-Pixies him by taking the reckless and unusual behaviour to quite troubling extremes.
Juno was unintentionally this for Mark Loring, much to her dismay. Sort of reversed though with Paulie Bleeker- she may be the quirkier of the two but he was the one who opened her cynical heart.
Joan in Playing By Heart is one, but her relationship with Keenan plays out a bit more balanced than is usual for the trope. She certainly teaches him to embrace love and life again, but he's also more mature than her usual boyfriends, giving her some much-needed stability.
The 2009 ultra-low-budget independent film New Low is another subversion - Vicky is a bigger Jerk Ass than the loserAuthor Avatar protagonist Wendell, while Joanna would be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl were Wendell not a complete idiot as well.
The film Waitress has a Spear Counterpart, Nathan Fillion plays Keri Russell's ridiculously convenient and personality-lite bit-on-the-side, otherwise fulfilling all the typical criteria of the MPDG. Interestingly enough, the main character fulfills this trope in the lives of just about everyone around her, if you were to write a film centering on Nathan Fillion's character, or Adrienne Sheely's character, or Jeremy Sisto's character, it's exactly the role she would play (though in the last case it would be very bluntly subverted).
Double-subverted twice in the Barbara Stanwyck comedy The Lady Eve. So Jeanne brightens up the life of stiff, repressed Charles (or "Hopsie") - but the fact is that she's a con woman who wants to take his money. But then, she's also in love with him, and is willing to go straight for his sake. Then when he finds out and rejects her, she takes on the persona of the Lady Eve, and pulls the MPDG on him again.
Deconstructed in the 1969 film The Sterile Cuckoo, one of Liza Minelli's early films. Pookie fulfills all of the requirements of a MPDG, including breaking the lead character out of his shell. But towards the end of the film is revealed she is much more damaged and vulnerable than anyone has expected. She completely breaks out of the traditional mold at the ending, where she and her boyfriend break up, and she is literally Put on a Bus.
Geet in the 2007 Bollywood film Jab We Met — childlike and wacky to the point where the male lead, a weary businessman, says she "needs a psychiatrist," until she brings him out of his shell. And then, some plot later, he becomes a Manic Pixie Dream Guy for her.
Ramona from the film adaptation of Scott Pilgrim, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, by way of squeezing the film into two hours (and removing quite a bit of characterisation present during the lulls of the comic). Scott still has to do a bit more work to keep her around than in most examples, though.
In The House of Yes, the main character is a part of a wealthy Big Screwed-Up Family and has a few issues of his own to work out. He does this by dating a ditzy, middle class girl with a cheerful demeanor.
Played with in interesting ways in Shadowlands. While Joy Gresham takes on the narrative role of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (drawing a scholarly, reserved C. S. Lewis out of his shell, getting him to enjoy life ... and then she dies), her actual personality is more that of a Tsundere — to the intense displeasure of Lewis's friends.
Jack from Titanic is a rare case of a male spin of this trope. Rose was feeling cold and alone in high society, when Jack comes along and teaches her to be free-spirited and live life.
A literal example would be Aisling in The Secret of Kells who actually is a pixie or fairy of some sort, and whose antics show protagonist Brenden what life is like outside the walls of his monastery. It's left for the viewer to decide if they're actually in love, or just a couple of kids having fun.
In The Return of Hanuman, Hanuman reincarnates himself into a boy named Maruti. Later, he helps Minku, a poor boy who is frequently bullied by most of his classmates. It makes sense why he acts so bubbly: he's only three months old. By the end of the film, Maruti (already transformed into Hanuman) told Minku to be strong before left the village.
Mila Kunis' character in Moving McAllister is an unabashed example of this trope, described by her uncle as very beautiful and "wild" she is bent upon turning the boring lawyer she just met into someone who loves life.
In Along Came Polly, Aniston plays Polly Prince, a free-spirited bohemian who teaches Reuben Feffer (Ben Stiller) to be unafraid and live life to the fullest.
She plays a quirky flower-shop owner in Love Happens teaching Aaron Eckhart how to love again and heal after his wife's death.
Youth in Revolt features Sheeni Saunders who helps Nick Twisp (Micheal Cera) be free-spirited and leads him into a psychosis.
Although she's more grounded and less 'out there' than the usual bizarre Dream Girls, Liv Tyler's character in Lonesome Jim is a warm and life-embracing character whose only purpose in the movie is to teach the self-absorbed, miserable main character to cheer up despite us wondering what the heck a woman like that would see in him.
Larry Crowne: Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) personifies this trope to the point where Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts) even refers to her as a pixie. The only area where she breaks the stereotype is that she has no romantic interest in Larry (Tom Hanks) and her efforts are aimed at getting him together with Mercedes.
Another gender-flipped example, Rhodes is this to Annie in Bridesmaids. His main function in the plot is to make kooky observations about vegetables and encourage Annie to follow her dreams.
Heavenly Creatures is a darkly subverted lesbian version - wild, eccentric Juliet inspires shy Pauline not to embrace life, but to murder her mother.
In The Names Of Love, straight-laced Arthur is yanked out of his boring life by the younger, free-spirited, free-loving Baya, who's so manic she occasionally forgets to put clothes on when going out of her flat.
Winona Ryder's character Charlotte in Autumn In New York is a beautiful artist who suffers from a rare heart disease, and teaches a self-centered, skirt-chasing Richard Gere about life and love.
Muriel Pritchett (Geena Davis) in The Accidental Tourist plays a quirky dog trainer who helps both the dog and his owner, Macon Leary (William Hurt), a repressed and grieving travel writer who is mourning the death of his son and his marriage. Upon meeting Muriel, Macon's life changes in ways he comes to view as healing.
Two gender-flipped examples play this straight in the Mo'Nique led film Phat Girlz. Dr. Tunde and Dr. Akibo are two Nigerian men that teach the plus-sized leads to embrace their bodies and sensuality. Even to start loving themselves and changing their outlook.
In Better Off Dead, Monique plays this role for Lane, helping pull him out of his depression after his girlfriend dumps him.
Kevin Franklin is a male example of this in Houseguest. Franklin however, is only a Con Man who (at least at first) doesn't care about improving the lives of the people he meets, but ends up doing so anyway.
In Ruby Sparks, all of Calvin's written/dreamt interactions with Ruby play out like this. Once she's real, their relationship becomes a Deconstruction.
One of the all-time classics of Hollywood is an extremely dark but one hundred percent straight use of this trope, in which an eccentric, aging beauty queen, whose grip on reality is shaky, takes over the protagonist's life, using money and her luxurious life to tighten her hold on him. The character is Norma Desmond; the film is Sunset Boulevard.
Betty Blue from the French movie 37°2 le matin. To quote the Imdb summary: "[The lead character] lives a quiet and peaceful life, working diligently and writing in his spare time. One day Betty walks into his life, a young woman who is as beautiful as she is wild and unpredictable..."
Heather Graham's character Mandy in 2003 film Hope Springs brings meaning back to life, with her free-spirited American ways (becoming the new love interest), of her opposite: broody, just-dumped British male lead Colin, played by Colin Firth.
Nelson (Keanu Reeves) meet Sara (Charlize Theron), the woman who "defy every law of nature he's ever known", in 2001 Drama Sweet November. Stumbling into her life, Nelson soon realizes Sara lives a lifestyle of voluntarily taking men under her wing to "change their lives for the better" in one way or another (MPDG for a living, if you will). So, Sara asks Nelson (who's one and only concern in life is himself): "Do you want to be my November?" The rules are: No questions, no holding back and no more, no less than ONE month.
Juliette Lewis frequently played versions of this role early in her career. Played straight in What's Eating Gilbert Grape but notably, a very dark subversion in Kalifornia. In the latter, she keeps a cactus in her purse and has done well when Early doesn't whip her.
Elise in The Adjustment Bureau is made of this trope. She meets the hero in the men's washroom when she is hiding from security from having crashed a wedding, later she drops his phone into his coffee on purpose.
The Little Mermaid: Ariel is a very interesting take on this character. Certainly, with her Fish out of Water tendencies, such as combing her hair with a fork, her carriage antics, and other quirk oddballisms, she fits the "manic pixie" parts of it. Interestingly, though, Prince Eric doesn't fall for her immediately, pining for the woman that saved his life. They're the same person, he just doesn't know it.
Colleen Minou in Ron Koertge's Stoner and Spaz. However, while Colleen helps Ben, Ben is unable to help Colleen and she ends up back on drugs.
The title character of the Jerry Spinelli book Stargirl worked her magic on an entire high school. That also makes her a Blithe Spirit. Stargirl was interesting because her manic pixie behavior didn't make the main character more popular or comfortable around other people, and clashed with his desire for normalcy. Things didn't work out.
Laura from American Gods reads like a deconstruction of this. Her husband, the protagonist Shadow, thought of her as someone playful and spontaneous who brought excitement into his life. On the other hand, she was the one who convinced him to participate in the robbery that got him sent to jail for three years and cheated on him with his best friend while he was in prison. She tried to justify her affair on the grounds that, even if she did really love Shadow, there were times that he is just so empty that she needed somebody else. She plays a further deconstruction when after becoming a zombie, she helps Shadow by pretending to be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl having a Meet Cute with one of the mooks. He is shown thinking about how her spontanaity has given him a new outlook on life, and is brutally murdered by her shortly afterward.
Sage from Almost Perfect can be considered this from the moment she's introduced until she tells Logan she's Transsexual.
The Culture novel The Player of Games has a character, Yay, who is a love interest of the protagonist and has a markedly playful personality. There's something of a subversion, in that her Manic Pixie Dream Girl personality makes her a better fit for the hedonism of the Culture than does the protagonist's discomfort with a life without challenges.
One of the main criticisms of John Green's novels. However, Green has said that he seeks to deconstruct and disprove the trope, not encourage it. In fact, he wrote Paper Towns to hammer in what he felt he didn't make clear enough in Looking for Alaska: that the people who we idealize are in fact just as vulnerable, selfish, flawed, and self-destructive as we are, if not more so.
Alaska from Looking for Alaska is a deconstruction of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl told through the lens of someone who sees her as such. Through Pudge's eyes , Alaska is a goddess, but during the Thanksgiving Break, she points out to him that he likes the fun loving girl who gets alcohol, not the "crazy sullen bitch". Miles doesn't see her as a real person, but instead as this idealized, untouchable person who can do no wrong. On top of this, with everything that happens in the "After" Section of the book, all of those things that Miles liked about her led to her death. The whole point of the novel could be seen to be that the MPDG is an unsustainable view of someone because it doesn't allow them to be a real person. Miles sees her for who she is by the end of the novel, and the reader is left with a fuller sense of who Alaska actually was, not just Miles' original impression.
In Paper Towns, the major revelation for Quentin is that Margo, his "miracle", was very much an ordinary girl, and a very lost, lonely and confused one at that.
Subverted in The Fault in Our Stars with Augustus Waters being mistaken for a Manic Pixie Dream Boy, but later proving not to be one. He professes his love to her through contrived, rehearsed outings, complete with memorized soliloquies and metaphorically-resonant sandwiches, but the conviction of their love only feels "real" and "true" when the two of them see through each others' cracks during their trip to Amsterdam, and mainly after he reveals to her that he's terminally ill again.
An Abundance of Katherines can be read as the story of a boy, out of insecurity (and a inhuman level of neediness), desperately trying to cast all the women in his life as MPD Gs. This leads to him being dumped by no less than 17 girls.
Libba Bray's Going Bovine has Dulcie, who is a literal Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She's a hallucination who falls in love with the hero, dragging him through America on a quest to find meaning in his life before he dies of mad cow disease (hence the title). She smashes snowglobes to free their occupants and has a sugar addiction.
The eponymous of Kiki Strike, but replace "soulful, brooding male hero" with "broodingly ordinary schoolgirl", and take out the romance component. She's actually the Manic Pixie Dream Girl for six different girls (Girls Need Role Models is sort of a thing for this series), but Ananka fits the trope best.
In Philip K. Dick's short story The World She Wanted, the protagonist is swept along in the wake of a of a young and beautiful woman who introduces herself by announcing that the two of them are getting married. Subverted, in that she annoys the hell out of him and he rejects her.
Bella Baxter in Alasdair Grey's Poor Things, whose carefree childlike manner mesmerizes a number of men. It's a disturbing example, because she literally has the brain of a child implanted into the body of a woman. Or maybe not.
Vianne Rocher from the novel Chocolat is this for an entire town. Zozie de l'Alba from the sequel The Lollipop Shoes, acts as one for Vianne and her daughters - quirky, attractive, bohemian, she blows into the chocolate shop and shakes up their lives, bringing magic back to their craft. Of course, she's also an identity-stealing witch who is more or less Paranoia Fuel incarnate.
Suzumiya Haruhi in the light novels. Throughout the series, so far, Haruhi progressed from Chaotic Neutral (blackmailing the Computer Club President in the very first novel) to Chaotic Good (rushing over to Yuki's place in Beta storyline in the 9th novel), all the while irritating Kyon, who has to fix up the mess she inadvertently created (the Cave Cricket incident) or jumpstart the events (Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody). You know what, sometimes, he doesn't clean up Haruhi's mess. He cleans up Yuki's mess and on December 18th of his first year in North High, there are 4 Kyons, 3 Mikurus and 2 Yukis, most of whom are at the front gate fixing up the snafu Yuki made. As for "soulful, brooding male hero", Kyon's more of The Snark Knight. He doesn't really have much of a choice, because not helping the 3 factions keep Haruhi in control could lead to the end of the world/universe.
Arthur Bechstein, in Michael Chabon's The Mysteries of Pittsburgh has two Manic Pixie Dream Individuals: a girl named Phlox and a guy named Arthur Lecomte. The two of them are constantly at odds with each other, something not helped by Art being head over heels for the both of them.
According to one interpretation, Miranda from Hilaire Belloc's poem "Tarantella" can be an example of this: a wild woman who falls for the protagonist and gives meaning to his life; so much, in fact, that later when she's gone, his life is devoid of meaning, and he probably commits suicide.
Clarisse in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 fills this role for a short time for Guy Montag. She basically tells him so, saying "I'm seventeen and I'm crazy," and then she asks him all the questions and tells him all the random thoughts necessary to make him rethink everything about his life. And then she gets run over by a car, pointlessly.
Anne has this effect on people, but not on everyone she meets, and in fact she undergoes great Character Development over her first book as she learns to become a more grounded, mature, selfless individual.
Furthermore, the Story Girl from The Story Girl counts, being the emotional core of her little group of friends, and constantly telling enchanting stories.
Leslie from Bridge to Terabithia, full stop, though she's a little too young for a romantic relationship with Jesse.
Ivy Carson from Zilpha Keatley Snyder's The Changeling is this for shy Martha Abbott. Ivy literally believes (or wants to) she is a pixie, or some kind of nymph or sprite, in human form. She leads Martha on adventures, getting into almost Abbott and Costello scrapes at age seven, ending in tragedy years later. Most important, she gives Martha an opportunity and environment to be herself, free of her family's expectations. Both are still alive at the end and ultimately get what they want, although it's an Esoteric Happy Ending.
Alice Somerfield of A.M. Holmes' The End of Alice is an example that might be controversial. For a twelve year old, she is wildly, uncomfortably sexually precocious (most likely not her fault), has an extensive and pretentious vocabulary and a manner of speech that is self-confessed as "affected," is sarcastic and beyond her years, has a knowledge of many varied and random subjects, claims to paint watercolor images on intimate places and watch them wash away in her baths, and copies famous poems onto the soles of her shoes.
The novel Steppenwolf has Hermine, who not only gets the protagonist to enjoy life more, but actually saves him from killing himself.
Midori from Haruki Murakami's novel Norwegian Wood fits this role quite well. The first time she and Toru kiss, they are sitting on her roof, watching a neighborhood fire. Constantly hyper-energetic and quirky, she has no hesitation in revealing her constant sexual fantasies to Toru, who is much more distant and reserved with his inner thoughts.
The H. P. Lovecraft character Lavinia Whateley fits the trope pretty well. She's a quirky girl who loves thunderstorms, playing outside barefoot in the woods and reading about the occult. She gets into a relationship with a guy who really needs to get out more, and yup, she dies, too.
Stefanie in The Word and the Void is an interesting deconstruction. She believes life should be lived to its fullest. She's in love with John Ross, for real. However, she's also a demon, and her idea of teaching him to be interesting is teaching him to forget about morality and live for his own power, including, but not limited to, eating homeless people.
Maggie Dempsey in How NOT to Be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler ends up like this, much to her annoyance. Her goal of coming of as weird and strange so that nobody would like her (and she wouldn't form attachments when she moved) had Gone Horribly Right.
Marion Kirby in Topper and Topper Takes a Trip by Thorne Smith as she drags Cosmo Topper out of his staid bankers existence. But pretty much anything by Thorne Smith will have at least one Manic Pixie Dream Girl strewing chaos in her wake.
Feed is a deconstruction of this trope, basically saying what if the hero didn't give up normalcy while being with the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. The girl dies at the end.
Deconstructed in High Fidelity: while in college Rob goes out with a girl named Charlie who he perceives to be one of those, and when she dumps him he never really gets over it. Meeting her again, years later, he realizes that she is actually a pretentious, self-important idiot whose "quirkiness" is merely to cover up that she has no personality of her own, and he was just too immature to realize this at the time.
La Vita Nuova: Dante Alighieri penned this in the thirteenth century. While Beatrice is already tragically dead by the time Dante is writing to her, as opposed to alive and quirky only to die tragically after imparting valuable lessons through love about how wonderful and evanescent life is, she fits the trope perfectly, and might be the first Western literary example.
E.F. Benson - of Mapp And Lucia fame - wrote a trilogy of novels about a turn of the 19th/20th century version of the MPDG. But Dodo is anything but good for the men in her life - or herself - until she grows up a bit and earns her happily ever after.
Sam from ''The Perks of Being a Wallflower" is a sort of blander interpretation of this trope, probably to balance out the socially awkward recipient of her mania, Charlie.
J. R. R. Tolkien's works largely avoid this: female characters are either Closer to Earth types or ethereal, magical Elven princesses. But The Unfinished Tales features Tar-Vanimeldë, Queen of Númenor. She was more interested in dancing and playing music than actually, you know, governing the most powerful nation on Middle-Earth, so she left all the boring, practical day-to-day stuff to her consort, Herucalmo. Since the Tale is Unfinished, it's not really clear what Tolkien meant for Tar-Vanimeldë, but she fits many of the requirements, at least by Middle-Earth standards. Possibly a Deconstruction, since it seems Herucalmo was not okay with this: when the Queen died, he finally got sick of being the stable, modest, supportive guy and usurped the throne for himself.
Barry Lyga's The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl deconstructs this trope with Kyra, whom the protagonist may or may not be romantically interested in. She initially encourages the male lead to be assertive and pursue his dreams, but she also encourages his violent fantasies. Eventually, the protagonist realizes that she is extremely depressed and possibly mentally ill.
Ida Maclaird in The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw is a straight example of one, if a little mild. Ida's a vague, ethereal little thing who had wild adventures in the past and in the book teaches Midas Crook, a lonely amateur photographer, to embrace life to the fullest before she dies by turning into glass. There's also Midas' mother Evaline and Ida's mother Freya as winsome muse figures who inspired two lonely, jaded academics to pine after them indefinitely, which may or may not count.
Nymphadora Tonks of the Harry Potter series is a clumsy metamorphmagus (meaning that she can change her appearance at will, for example she's usually seen with pink hair), who wears band t-shirts and has more humor than most of the cast. She pursues Remus Lupin, who is in constant anguish over his lycanthropy and the effect it has on those close to him, can't hold down a job, and is about 12 years older.
Jenny from The Truth of Rock and Roll has some elements of this, though she also has her dark moments and her own character arc. Also, the protagonist is the one who sought her out.
Holly tries to enact this role for Phil in Snyper, saying he's a grumble bear who needs to lighten up. What she doesn't understand is that he's actually more reckless and impulsive than she is, which leads to Phil ending their relationship by shooting her in the head with one of his anti-love bullets.
The Exile's Violin: Clay thinks Jacquie is one of these for him; an exciting and risk taking woman that enrichs his dull and unfullfilling life, but personality wise she's nothing like the standard. Ultimately, the trope is genderflipped because it is Clay that helps Jacquie loosen up and enjoy life, and his persoanlity as a thrill seeking happy guy fits the standard.
Live Action TV
Dharma and Greg, a sitcom that pits quirky "nonconformist" Dharma up with strait-laced bore-fest Greg. And once the first five minutes are over, this plot's been used up and they move on to... not much.
Cassie Ainsworth is a [Deconstruction, since she has multiple legitimate psychological problems and they're portrayed with all the seriousness they require. She doesn't exist solely as a love interest for Sid, but whenever the story is focusing on him this is clearly how he sees her. She's quite self-serving at times, and it's debatable whether she ultimately changes his life for the better. She makes him blissfully happy at times, and utterly miserable at others. A relationship with someone so mentally unstable they try to commit suicide when you cancel a date was never going to run entirely smoothly.
In season 6, a lovelorn Alo meets a sweet, bubbly girl named Poppy Champion who pulls him out of his depression with her quirky and adorable ways. That is, until she reveals that she's really thirteen years old, and she reports him to the police when he tries to dump her.
Subverted on Dexter. Lila initially seems to have all the personality traits of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and she latches onto Dexter, the main character, a forensic scientist who also happens to be an emotionless serial killer (who only kills people who really deserve it). As the series goes on, though, she starts showing the dark side of mania: her antics go from amusing to dangerous, and she stops being charming and starts being scary.
Dexter: You are more dangerous than my addiction will ever be. And that's saying a lot.
Subverted when Michael meets a quirky British woman whom he believes is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl but is actually mentally disabled. Her accent sounds so intelligent to Michael that he believes she voluntarily acts like a carefree six-year-old.
Maeby also serves as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl to George Michael to some extent, though played for laughs as GM is unbelievably straight-laced, and Maeby's actions go well beyond "quirky" and straight into "likely criminal." That and the fact that Maeby is kind of his cousin. Maybe.
Winchester falls for a woman like this. She brings so much life into his existence. They're all set to make a go of it when she lets out that she's not a strong believer in marriage (and that her previous lover, of whom she talks in glowing terms, was never married to her). Winchester loses a chance at love, and not because his family would disapprove — though that's a consideration for him — but because he can't bring himself to accept this aspect of hers.
B. J. gets one too. In the end he lets her go because he didn't want the war to dictate his life anymore than it already did. Leaving your wife and kid for a woman he met on the frontline? He could never leave the horrors he'd known there behind him.
Andy's girlfriend Kat in Weeds was a somewhat more hardcore version of this. She was much crazier than usual — he even told a story about how once she stabbed him because she thought he'd kicked her "spirit animal," although he hadn't figured out what that was. And he admitted that he didn't actually love her, and implied that he was still with her because she made life interesting.
30 Rock: Parodied by Jennifer Aniston's character in the episode "The One with the Cast of Night Court," where she ensnares powerful men like Jack Donaghy and, um, Scottie Pippen with her antics (designing bizarre hats, breaking into houses while wearing French maid outfits, singing inappropriately sexy renditions of "Happy Birthday to You", and frequently and emphatically "riding the F Train"). Everyone not currently sexing her up finds her completely insufferable. And she's crazy. Like, steal a cop's gun crazy. It's indicated that instead of making them happier, she destroys their lives before moving on.
Phoebe seems to act as this to the rest of the group, as well as in most of her relationships. Notably, the group occasionally finds her actions annoying or intrusive, and in the 10th season, Phoebe admits that she has never been in a relationship which lasted more than a month. Occasionally, being an Manic Pixie Dream Girl seems to actively work against her, such as the first time she was ready to move in with a man, and then broke up with him shortly after when he impulsively shot a bird with his handgun. On another occasion, she ends a relationship because her boyfriend is even more of a Manic Pixie Dream Guy than she is, and she can't stand him.
Monica gets a personal non-romantic Manic Pixie Dream Girl for one episode in the form of the "other Monica", an eccentric woman who stole her credit card. Monica follows her, first to see her and possibly report her, but she enjoys tap lessons and crashing parties with her way too much.
Emily Waltham, Ross's girlfriend, had shades of this trope and similar effect on Ross. They spontaneously went to Vermont and enthusiastically watched animals and enjoyed the autumn there, he played rugby because of her, she made him pierce his ear and enrol to helicopter lessons. Though he says she won't be around for long enough for him to actually frequent the lessons.
Frasier had one of these in the form of a Girl of the Week, Caitlin the quirky artist, but the trope was subverted by having their relationship not work out because they shared no similarities - just very hot sex.
In 21 Jump Street there's an episode featuring a girl named Quincy, who sort of positions herself as this, dragging the straight-laced Hanson around and trying to convince him to "lighten up". Of course, her idea of fun is crime sprees and potentially-fatal thrill-seeking. She terrifies him, and ends up shot to death by security guards while robbing a house.
Chuck does fulfill this role for Ned in Pushing Daisies, but she has plenty of her own characterisation.
Subverted in The Sarah Connor Chronicles with Riley, who's actually from the future, having a mental breakdown from culture shock, and is under orders to act as one of these to John, ostensibly in order to reduce Cameron's influence on him, but actually so that Cameron will kill her, accomplishing the same goal more effectively.
Carrie on Sex and the City dates a male version for a while. Raymond is a charming, upbeat jazz musician, but Carrie eventually learns that he can't focus on anything for very long (as if he had a form of ADHD) and doesn't have much depth beyond his love of music.
Punky Brewster. It took a couple of seasons, but she winds up turning her crotchety adoptive father Henry Warnimont into an old softy.
Abed Nadir of Community is both a male version and a Deconstruction of the trope. He brings out the geekiness and creativity in his friends (and is described as "a magical, elf-like man who makes us all more magical by being near us"), but his antics can be wildly exhausting and irresponsible, and his odd outlook on life can be attributed to an Ambiguous Disorder. Possibly intentionally, as in one episode, he's shown to be remarkably trope and genresavvy.
"If this were a movie, what would the hero do? Abed: He'd run after her and make a fantastic display of affection!"
The episode "Herstory of Dance" gives him a possible love interest in Kat, a girl who rides a scooter, plays the saw in an all-girl Kazoo band and brings waterwings to a school dance.
The Doctor has been a (usually) non-romantic Manic Pixie Dream Man to all his companions. While all of the Doctors have been this to some degree, Eleven really takes this trope Up to Eleven. (Ha ha).
The TARDIS and the Doctor are this for each other. The Doctor stole the TARDIS, although the TARDIS claims she actually stole him, to escape a dull and monotonous life and instead travel the universe. There were already many shades of it in the old series, and the new series solidifies the idea when the Doctor and the TARDIS meet face-to-face and get properly romantic for a day.
The Snowmen saw this invoked by Madam Vastra with Clara. In the Cold Opening , Vastra claimed that by stopping to talk to Clara, the Doctor had inadvertently found a new companion, and that said companion might just bring him out of his slump. The Doctor denied and outright defied it for the most part, but it turned out Vastra was right.
In fact, in a rare twist, Clara is the Manic Pixie Dream Girl towards the Doctor. Clara has come in to his life three times now, a mystery in itself. The Doctor can't resist a mystery.
Chiana from Farscape. Always happy, always moving, almost always stealing something, and for some reason all over D'Argo. Although frankly she's all over pretty much the entire cast at one point or another. You'll wind up dead from exhaustion, but damned if you wouldn't enjoy trying to keep up with her!
Vala Mal Doran tries to be this for Daniel Jackson from Stargate SG-1. When she's not trying to steal stuff like gold and valuables anyway. Their relationship could be read as an inversion, since Daniel makes more progress calming Vala down and pushing her into being a more responsible person than she does spicing up his existence.
Jessica Day in New Girl, played by Trope Codifier actress Zooey Deschanel, takes this to the extreme. Slightly inverted in that Jessica's life is a mess, as opposed to the guys she rooms with, but she still qualifies.
Except for the fact that she is the main character of the story and is simply living her life as she chooses to, rather than existing within the story only as a prop in a male character's development.
On Smallville, a certain miss Lois Lane fulfills this function. She arrives at the beginning of Season 4. By the end of Season 3, the characters had all gotten caught up in a Grim Dark web of lies created by Lionel Luthor, Chloe's life was full of fear and angst, and our hero Clark had become brooding and ultra-serious......and then Chloe's cousin Lois shows up in town and turns Clark's, Chloe's, and the Kents' lives upside down....for the better. Many critics argued that Lois's introduction brought a much-needed breath of fresh air to the show, as her infectious energy and charisma, BondOneLiners, and hard-partying ways enlivened the show's dynamic. Lois quickly became a fan-favorite (well, except for the Die for Our Ship people) character, and her original 4-episode run on the show was expanded, and she became a regular character the following season.
In Season 2 of Breaking Bad Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) meets his MPDG in the form of Jane (Krysten Ritter), a tattoo artist with a serious drug history. In one scene, in fact, Jane gives Jesse something that makes him float in the air! Unfortunately for both of them, Walter White knows a MPDG when he sees one.
Deconstructed in Louie with Parker Posey's character Liz, whom Louie takes on a date. She's cute, smart, vivacious, eccentric and irreverent, spending their entire date suggesting adventurous things to do and repeatedly trying to push Louie out of his shell. However, there are frequent hints that she's a bi-polar alcoholic and pathological liar.
The Big Bang Theory uses this as one of its primary themes, and as a result downplays its aspects.
Leonard and his friends Sheldon, Howard and Raj are content with their lives of scientific research at Caltech and being concerned with any given upcoming nerdy activity such as Klingon Boggle. When Penny moves in next door she is neither a genius or a nerd, but is actually an average girl with a vibrant social life. Being around her Leonard can't help but see the contrast between her going out dancing and them sitting at home playing World of Warcraft together. While it is most evident with Leonard as they become romantically involved with each other, everyone evolves significantly by having her in their lives.
In a reversal, Penny never really gave much thought to the academic pursuits these guys are involved with on a daily basis. While she is hopelessly unable to keep up with their Technobabble after some time she retains and is fascinated with a few thought experiments, famously Schrödinger's Cat in the first season finale. By the fourth season she has admitted that it is hard for her to keep less intelligent company around.
Somewhat deconstructed in season 4 of Misfits. Lola at first appears to be a bit of a MPDG but it is later revealed that she is caught in some endless cycle of making men fall for her and kill off each other. Which is much more Femme Fatal. It also turns out she had been an actress practicing a role when the storm came, and the storm had made her become that character.
Deconstructed and POV-flipped in Girls — the fact that Jessa is a carefree (read: irresponsible), spontaneous (impulsive), free-spirited (rudderless) social butterfly (unreliable flake) leads pretty much every guy she so much as looks at to see her as one of these. She complains about this at times, but at others is perfectly happy to exploit it for a fling. When her Fourth Date Marriage to a venture capitalist starts going sour, she points out that his relationship with her is probably the most spontaneous thing he's ever done, whereas "I've been living this life for 25 years".
Perception's Natalie Vincent is an interesting deconstruction of this trope. She is hardly impulsive or spontaneous, and her male counterpart certainly is, but like any self-respecting MPDG she is there to serve Daniel's needs. As a total figment of Daniel's imagination Natalie's life pretty much revolves around him, but she is there to be a friend, an intellectual equal, and to give Daniel a grounded perspective to contrast his wild, often irrational ideas. Though her entire existence is literally a male fantasy, he loves her to the point of recklessness for his own well-being.
Deconstructed with Irene/Moriarty in Elementary. First introduced as attractive, optimistic, artsy and quirky who showed a brighter side of life to Holmes. Then we find out she was faking it, deliberately constructing her false persona to fool Holmes and distract him from her plans.
Deconstructed on Castle with Meredith, Castle's first wife and Alexis's mother. While Castle and Alexis are clearly fond of Meredith, they both find her exhausting to be around for a longer period of time, and she's especially shown to not be a very responsible parent to Alexis.
Lorelai Gilmore, a thirty-something gorgeous woman who is quirky and fan of TV and films and little pleasures in life. She lives in a Quirky Town and compared to some of its Cloud Cuckoo Landers, she's relatively normal.
Rory can have this effect on guys she dates, mostly making them to enjoy literature and dragging them to her home and introducing them to her slightly crazy but cute mum.
Kirk describes his girlfriend Lulu as Manic Pixie Dream Girl — a woman who made him enjoy his life to its fullest. She's a teacher and when seen in person, she's not actually very quirky or crazy.
The X-Files has a subversion in the character of Melissa Scully, Agent Dana Scully's sister. Melissa is a lot into crystals, psychics and New Age stuff and tries to get Mulder to leave his "dark" place and drop his cynicism and paranoia. Not surprising he's depressed as his partner and only friend Scully is dying. Refreshingly, Mulder is most definitely not impressed and absolutely uninterested in her happy and playful ways. The rumour has it that Melissa was originally written as his Love Interest, but instead she was quickly turned into a Sacrificial Lion. She appeared mid season 2, and season 3 openers saw her dead.
Kathleen Scott on the miniseries The Last Place on Earth(about the race between Scot and Amundson to the South Pole) is a downplayed version of this and her husband Robert specifically compliments her on it, and notes that he wishes he wasn't to grumpy to be like her. She is a great traveller(for an Edwardian woman), artist, and party girl; wishes she could go with Robert, and tells him in effect,"Be a Badass and give me a Badass son as well."
The titular Mother in How I Met Your Mother appears to approach this character trope. She is effectively portrayed as Ted's dream girl, having quirks such as painting pictures of robots, singing show tunes while making breakfast, playing bass guitar in a band and helping pull Ted out of one of the darkest times in his life. Season 9 reveals more quirks such as owning a pair of driving gloves and wanting to see weird stuff on roadside, just like Ted.
The Dead Milkmen's song "Punk Rock Girl" plays this trope enthusiastically straight, with a dweeby narrator describing a series of playfully violent encounters with an unnamed female other.
We went to the Phillie Pizza Company And ordered some hot tea The waitress said "Well no We only have it icedoiced" So we jumped up on the table And shouted "anarchy" ... We got into her car Away we started rollin' I said "How much you pay for this?" She said "Nothing man, it's stolen"
Tess from the song with the same name by Peter LeMarc is a classic example.
The girl in the song Tomorrow is this to the guy. Be warned, this song could only get cuter if puppies were the ones performing it.
The girl described in the song "Her Eyes" by Pat Monahan. In all honesty, it seems like most of the songs written by Monahan, solo or with Train, are about describing the interests and quirks of these kind of girls. I'm thinking Monahan likes this kind of girl.
"Lilly" by Pink Martini describes either a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, or a very enthusiastic puppy dog ("Lilly comes when you stop to call her, Lilly runs when you look away, Lilly leaves kisses on your collar, Lilly-Lilly-Lilly-Lilly stay!")
In Pick Up The Phone by Dragonette the singer stars as one of these singing to "Cherry", reminding her not to be very serious and singing about all their exploits "painting the town till it was up in smoke". Though the film clip tends to zig zagg it because in the end it's all in her mind.
A lot of songs that came out in the '60s
The Associaton's "Windy" is one of the stand-out examples.
"Any Old Wind That Blows" by Johnny Cash (written by Dick Feller), though the narrator's feelings about the MPDG are a bit ambiguous:
She's a butterfly in mid-July
Who just can't wait to try her brand new wings
On brand new things
And she needs no rhyme or reason when she goes
Her mind is on what lies beyond
That wall of blue horizon, I suppose
And heaven knows
She'll go sailin' off on any old wind that blows
"Jane" by Barenaked Ladies is about a girl getting fed up with being the MPDG to people, including the narrator.
Bessie from "Up on Cripple Creek" by The Band, who rips up winning horse racing tickets "just for a laugh".
"Head First" by John Waite and the Babys could be interpreted this way. The narrator isn’t sure about her at first, but he’s drawn to her more and more every time he sees her. The cover art of the album this song appears on carries the idea further: it depicts a girl wearing mismatched shoes falling backwards.
Played straight or possibly subverted by The Grateful Dead in Scarlet Begonias, definitely subverted in the Sublime version.
The Monkees' "Sunny Girlfriend" fits the type, but the last line makes it a subversion, making the MPDG's emotions a pretense.
The music video for "Cradle of Love" by David Bowie is all over this.
British Girl Group the Pipettes arguably have this as their joint image, especially in their former incarnation as of their first album, We Are the Pipettes; the track "ABC" is the song of a girl who is clearly the manic pixie dream for a book-smart but introverted nerd.
"Josie" by Steely Dan is about a local wild party girl returning home to everyone's delight after being away awhile.
"Skateaway" by Dire Straits is about a mysterious carefree girl who roller skates around the city's streets in the middle of the night.
The titular character in Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" is perhaps a borderline example of this trope: she shows the narrator all the secret places around the docks, is "kinda crazy", and almost becomes a kind of mythic figure by the end of the song.
Classic example: Maria in The Sound of Music. She's often overlooked as an example of the trope, because she's really trying her best to be a mature, motherly type (in addition to being a nun).
Deconstructed as far back as Ibsen's A Dolls House, in which the heroine Nora is a (seemingly) flighty, vivacious, kooky child-woman who gradually realizes that she's been so working so hard at playing this role for her more conventional husband — even through bearing him three children — that she has never really grown up and has no idea of her true self, and that their relationship is thus only a game, not adult love. She leaves him to try and learn how to be a fully formed human being.
Subverted in the musical Cabaret: Sally tries to be a Manic Pixie for Cliff, but her determined spunky optimism and unwillingness to grow up make her ignore the threat of Nazism and drive Cliff away from her.
Susan Hollander from Woody Allen's Don't Drink The Water is borderline the definition of this trope as her only personality trait other then that she is a Satellite Love Interest for major screw-up Axel is that she is somewhat of a hippie (the fact that the show was written and set in The Sixties helps).
Carmen deconstructs this: she's a Hot Gypsy Woman who seduces and enchants the lead male, Don Jose, with her free-spirited nature, but quickly tires of him as he proclaims his everlasting love for her. Turns out she's not so much for the forever love, and she leaves him for someone much more exciting. As a result, he kills her out of jealousy at the end of the opera.
The Neil Simon play Barefoot in the Park explores the relationship of Manic Pixie Dream Girl and her dull love interest; fun loving Cory flickers between trying to spice up her housewife roles and pouting that her new husband won't pay attention to her, while Paul struggles with his wife's playful nature he loves and focusing on the career he kind of needs. It's a romantic comedy but does show the MPDG Cory as childish and needing to grow up if she wants her marriage to really work. It ends with them switching roles and Cory learning to worry a little about the result of her actions.
In Bells Are Ringing, Ella Peterson steps into and improves the lives of three clients of the telephone answering service she works for. She helps a dentist realize his ambitions to become a songwriter, makes a washed-up Brando wannabe actor stop mumbling, buy a suit and get a part, and a struggling playwright overcome his Writer's Block and, incidentally, fall in love with her.
Wicked has a whole song about the trope, sung by Elphaba, who watches unhappily from the sidelines as Glinda effortlessly charms everyone. Gets deconstructed a bit in the second act, though.
The title character in the interactive fiction game Violet is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl; she's the Player Character's quirky Australian girlfriend who has a limitless supply of pet names, makes gifts like origami trophies or custom snowglobes, is indefatigably supportive, and loves the Player Charactereven after he/she destroys all the aforementioned gifts in order to, among other things, shut out his/her ex-girlfriend. She both lampshades and deconstructs the trope as you continue playing and more backstory comes along: Violet admits that a lot of their problems come from the fact that she can't just be the protagonist's funny little girlfriend all the time, that she is also a real person with real hopes and desires and she's getting tired of putting her life on hold waiting for the protagonist to finish the work s/he was supposed to finish ages ago.
Also of note is that the character we know as "Violet" is really just the way the protagonist imagines her voice in his/her head. So it's an even bigger deconstruction, because the story focuses purely on how she viewed, not on what she actually does.
Depending on how you play, your character can be one of these for Casavir, or a male version for Elanee.
Also, Gann can be a male one for the player in Mask of the Betrayer.
Neeshka seems to play this role in some parts of the main campaign.
Rinoa in Final Fantasy VIII is a subversion: she comes off as a classic Manic Pixie Dream Girl at first when she's playfully urging Squall to dance at the SeeD graduation ball, and while it soon becomes clear that she does in fact have her own problems as a member of La Résistance against the Galbadian occupation of Timber, she has much more well-meaning enthusiasm and optimism than she has the skill and experience needed to follow through with her big plans. However, she gets a rude awakening as to just how high the stakes are by the end of the first disc, and while she continues to encourage Squall to open up to her and others throughout the game, it's no longer in the manner of this trope.
Marta Lualdi of Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World. Perhaps not the typical variation in that there are some...rather important other concerns as well, but she seems to tie just about everything back to her unrequited crush on Emil.
A supporting character variation in Tales of Graces with Pascal for Hubert. He starts out completely cold, withdrawn, and mistrustful, but by the end of the future arc Pascal has completely worn him down with her friendliness and wacky charm, and around her he's either a stammering dork, an aspiring romantic, or a knight in shining armor, depending on the context. It's a last minute subversion, though, because she has no idea about his feelings for her even once he pretty explicitly tells her he's in love with her. It's hinted she might return his feelings, but they're stuck with a Maybe Ever After.
Shiki Misaki of The World Ends with You is a subversion: she has the job of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl: she gets Neku to begin to come out of his moody, loner shell and learn the game's Aesop about trying to connect with other people. However, she does have a number of her own problems, not the least of which is she's only pretending to be this type of character because in reality, she's just as shy and lonely as Neku.
Milla Vodello in Psychonauts appears to be this, but once you find her memory vaults and her nightmare room, and uncover her tragic past she turns out to be a bit of a deconstruction. However, she and Sasha Nein are heavily implied to be a couple, despite the fact that they could not be more opposite in personality.
Pretty much the only thing keeping Kay Faraday in Ace Attorney Investigations from being a textbook MPDG to Miles Edgeworth is that their relationship isn't portrayed romantically. The same can be said for Phoenix Wright's relationship with Maya Fey, or just about any assistant of the main character.
Catherine from the Atlus puzzle game Catherine. Deconstructed, in that Catherine's a literal pixie dream girl, being a succubus who's taken on the form of the main character's ideal woman.
In Persona 3, the female protagonist has some elements of this in her relationship with Shinjiro Aragaki. It's most evident in about the eighth rank of his Social Link; having previously thrown a party for the rest of the dorm at the protagonist's instigation, he reflects on how good it felt and how he wouldn't have done it if it hadn't been for her influence; by the end of the game she has literally given him a new lease on life, only to herself die as a result of performing a Heroic Sacrifice to stop The End of the World as We Know It.
In Dragon Age II, a silly!Hawke who romances either Anders or Fenris becomes this for them—especially for the latter, who is the epitome of brooding, pessimism, and dark and troubled pasts.
And let's not forget Merrill, a cute, lovely, innocent, naive, curious, helpful elven maid that apparently loves to swing around on the large chandelier in Hawke's mansion. Although you probably should ignore the fact that she's also a blood mage.
Sentimental Graffiti: Emiru's manic-ness made her a social outcast with everyone except the protagonist.
Yume Miru Kusurisubverts this quite harshly. Nekoko seems like a literal Manic Pixie Dream Girl, being a quirky and cheeky counterpart to the sulky, brooding male protagonist. In her route you learn that she's neither a pixie nor a dream girl, but a shy and troubled drug addict that tries to escape her dull life.
Haruka from Little Busters seems like this on the surface, with her Genki Girl behaviour, wild antics, and propensity for pulling silly pranks and dragging Riki along for the ride. However, the trope is subverted, as it turns out Haruka does all of this very much for her own sake: namely, as a way of getting back at her straight-laced, 'perfect' twin sister Kanata who is supposed to be controlling her while at the same time proving that her own rule-free life away from her extended family from which she has been exiled is much better than her sister's under their control. It doesn't work, and as her route goes down the facade breaks down more and more, revealing the incredibly insecure, socially awkward girl underneath.
In A Girl and Her Fed, said Girl is indeed manic, and said Fed is rather unsurprisingly a stuffed shirt. However, she didn't so much break him out of his funk so much as break him out of a brainwash given by the government agency that is now likely to kill them for it at some point, as the super intelligent koala pointed out. Also, her antics were kept under control in the past by the ghost of Benjamin Franklin. It's that kind of comic.
Subverted in Shortpacked!, where Robin's attempts at this usually do just wind up annoying the hell out of Ethan, Amber, and whoever else she might decide to latch onto.
Nils in Platinum Grit. Though honestly, Given all the weirdness in Jeremy's life, it's actually up to the other girl, Kate, to be the inverse of a MPDG and pull him back to reality.
Maytag from Flipside is an unabashed hedonist and nymphomaniac who takes it upon herself to break shy people (of either gender) out of their shells. She's also an interesting variation because her outgoing personality is largely a function of her outfit; her mask persona is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl for herself.
Subverted in the Ciem Webcomic Series, and also gets a Gender Flip. Denny was the Manic Pixie Man that stirred things up for Candi, allowing her to (somewhat) get over the loss of her ever-brooding (but kind-hearted) Donte.
Maple from Hazard's Wake is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl in her own mind. (In reality, she's more a Manic Girl with romantic delusions.)
In Red String, Hanae serves this roll for Fuuko. She breaks her out of her shell and shows her that it's ok to love someone, even if she is a little different. Deconstructed when Hanae's finally outed to her mother who doesn't take this well - and it's Fuuko that has to be Hanae's pillar of support and strength.
Ménage à 3: Zii fits the pattern. Irresponsible, almost always "up", and easily distracted, she has left a trail of hurt feelings and disrupted relationships behind her. Despite that, her interactions with Gary, DiDi, and Sonya have shaken them all out of assorted ruts and induced them to try something different, while Erik seems to have had something of a romantic MPDG image of her. Things get more complicated with and for her as the comic goes on, and the consequences of her manic pixie irresponsibility sometimes come back to bite her; notably, while she was only looking for a short-term fling with Sonya, Sonya has become infatuated with her. Nor does she always remember that she was supposed to be providing manic pixie-style help for the hapless Gary. He apparently mistakes the rather more deranged (and dangerous) Yuki for his manic pixie dream. Still, even his life gets more interesting, largely thanks to those two.
In fact, Gary is something of an MPDG magnet. After Yuki has split up with him, Sonya gives him a crash course in basic sexual activity, but turns out to be more interested in pursuing Zii for MPDG services. But shortly after that relationship ends, Senna crashes through his door, tells him a series of colorful lies, and drags him off to Paris by way of the Mile-High Club. Mind you, Senna is more of a dangerously narcissistic flake than true MPDG material. Gary's big problem in all this, though, is that he's far too passive to learn any useful lessons about life and love from any of them.
Ellen invokes this trope intentionally to differentiate herself from the rather-straitlaced Elliot. Non romantic example, as she is his Opposite-Sex Clone, and they see each other as more like brother and sister. Though she tries to act much the same way with Nanase, too.
Grace can be like this to Tedd, especially in the "One Way Road" arc where he's gotten too wrapped up in Mad Science to the detriment of his friendships and social life.
Katie from Regular Guy possibly sees herself as this and seems to fit the trope for Reg... it ends unpleasantly.
Played from a lesbian perspective by Winter in Girly. Interestingly, this seems to be a personality she developed purely to get Otra. Before her, she was a very cultured, dull and incredibly selfish girl. In other words, Otra played this role for Winter while having none of the personality normally involved with it.
In Scary Go Round we have nerdy Eustace Boyce (aka "The Boy") and his Perky Goth girlfriend Esther de Groot. They became a couple during a trip to Wales, which Esther had initiated relatively spontaneously.
Homestuck has Nepeta, a quirky, ship-crazy, roleplaying green-blooded troll, whose moirail, Equius is far more serious and dogmatic regarding the blood caste and acting superior to lowbloods, despite her best efforts to make him more tolerant of the lower castes. More or less subverted in that, due to how troll relationships worknote Moirails are two platonic partners that don't have romantic feelings towards each other, but are still described as sharing a form of love and an exclusive relationship, in which both parties protect each other and balance out their personalities to keep each other in check, theirs is not romantic.
Jane becomes this in Trickster Mode. Unlike most examples, however, this is nota good thing. Ultimately deconstructed.
Satirized in Manic Pixie Prostitute a YouTube short commenting on the male obsession with the 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' caricature and the female response to it. A middle-aged married man in a suit meets an exasperated prostitute in a hotel room. Instead of sex, he asks her to role play: “I want you to turn my life upside down with your whimsical joie de vivre,” —an act she finds "demeaning."
Jade Sinclair (codename Generator) of the Whateley Universe is unquestionably playing this role in her relationship with control freak Thuban.
Similarly, Aang in Avatar: The Last Airbender could be considered this not only to Katara, but to the entire world. This messiah's message is pretty much, "have fun, not wars."
Zooey Deschanel (of course) played one of these (explicitly referred to as such) in an episode of American Dad! designed to resemble a stereotypical independent film.
Steve: Um, hi. Uh, can I help you with your cello?
Girl: No, it's my suitcase. I just don't think all suitcases should be rectangles, y'know? I think sometimes suitcases can be cello cases with clothes in them.
Steve: ... What are you doing here?
Girl: I'm travelling cross country taking Polaroid pictures of people walking other people's dogs. It's pretty hard to tell, but I didn't become an artist because it was easy.
Edith "Big Edie" Bouvier-Beales of the Grey Gardensdocumentary / musical / HBO movie certainly seemed to be this: she loved to sing and dance and host parties, to the annoyance of her staid lawyer husband. Unfortunately she was as stubborn as she was "manic" and refused to leave the title 28 room summer cottage even after the money ran out and she and her daughter "Little" Edie (a creative MPDG herself) became total recluses.
Stephan Pastis claims to have known such a girl while at college - someone who, to quote him "opened up my tiny serious world and and forced me to grow and be more free-spirited." Years later, as he was working as an insurance attorney, he visited her gravesite and felt terrible that he had given up on his dream of becoming a cartoonist. So he went home and mailed out his Pearls Before Swine comic strip to the syndicates - and the rest is history.
Rielle Hunter, John Edwards's mistress, is a great example of the dark side of this trope. Depending on how you view John Edwards, either she was cheerfully motivating himto cheat on his terminally ill wife with her or she was a loonie hippie snared by a Manipulative Bastard and who was one of many mistresses. All her talk of helping Edwards "develop his potential" and "find his greater truth," not to mention a business card that reads "being is free" fits the Manic Pixie part. But read her article on the Other Wiki to find out the long chain of horrible experiences that made her a manic pixie, including possible child abuse, and Muse Abuse by the literary Brat Pack in the 80's.
Edie Sedgwick, a woman who hung around with Andy Warhol in his day, seems to have been this. She was anorexic and addicted to barbiturates. She eventually fell apart, went in and out of rehab a few times, and died of a drug overdose. Which tends to reinforce that this trope doesn't work very well in real life.
The late Gilda Radner, judging from her husband Gene Wilder's description, seems to have been a real-life version of this trope for him throughout their relationship. This quality is particularly explored and evident in Wilder's memoir Kiss Me Like a Stranger.
Deconstructed with Margaret Trudeau, former wife of Pierre Trudeau. While Pierre Trudeau was taken with the vivacious flower child, in reality Margaret was bipolar and her partying, drug use and rumoured affairs help put such a strain on their marriage that they were separated after six years.
By some accounts, Billie Piper credits her first husband Chris Evans (not this one) for being her Manic Pixie Dream Guy. The pressures of being a pop star had left her with massive stress and crippling eating disorders. She credits Evans with bringing her back from a Creator Breakdown and getting her to enjoy life again. She claims he saved her life.
Ed Greenwood, creator of the Forgotten Realms, described in a Dragon article a MPDG he met at university named September. Greenwood - though not exactly a stuffed shirt - credited the theatrical, costume-wearing and playfully seductive September as getting him hooked on Dungeons & Dragons and inspiring him as a Dungeon Master in a notably cinematic way, thus leading to his successful career in fantasy and gaming fiction. Looking at mentions of what goes on in his games, this start influenced his own style as a DM, too. He seems to be a magnet for them. The Hooded One, his player and spokeswoman on the fan forum, is like this. As to his fangirls:
Ed: My wife didn't believe half of what used to go on, in the early bloom of popularity for the Realms... until the time I was propositioned at a con by a VERY beautiful lady, while standing with my wife on my arm. I gently pointed out that said attached glowering female was my wife, whereupon the ardent fan said brightly, "Oh, that's okay: the bed is plenty big enough for three."
Zelda Fitzgerald was this for her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald. She was his muse and the inspiration for many of the heroines in his novels and short stories, and they lived the ideal Roaring Twenties lifestyle together, but she had a fragile grip on reality and eventually ended up in a mental institution.
To many a troubled teenage girl in the 60's, one strange man with quirky and unique outlook on the world, urging them to follow him into a series of adventures in togetherness, could qualify as a manic pixie dream guy. That man was Charles Manson.
[on the writing of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"] "There was also the image of the female who would someday come save me - a 'girl with kaleidoscope eyes' who would come out of the sky. It turned out to be Yoko, though I hadn't met Yoko yet. So maybe it should be Yoko In The Sky With Diamonds."
"[The press and public were saying] 'What are they doing? This Japanese witch has made him crazy and he's gone bananas!' But all she did was take the bananas part of me out of the closet more, that had been inhibited by the other part. It was a complete relief to meet somebody else who was as far out as I was." - From the RKO interview, recorded the day he died.