"Somehow, when I look at her, I feel like I can't leave her alone. I feel like I have to protect her!"
Chiri Kitsu, Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei

Coined in Japan in the late '90s, "Moe" (萌え, pronounced as "Mo-Eh", derived from a Japanese word that means "budding, to sprout/bloom")note  is an ill-defined otaku term that means, amongst other things, "cute", "huggable", or "endearing". While it's sometimes used to describe a series or the phenomenon called Perverse Sexual Lust, it's more about a specific ideal or kind of character, similar to Kawaisa. When used as an interjection, figuratively, it's used to convey that "something blooms inside your heart".

A common definition is that Moe is the ability of a character to instill in the audience an irrational desire to adore them, hug them, protect them, comfort them, etc. To evoke a sort of Big Brother Instinct, in men and women.

Moe characters are, generally speaking, cute. Moe characters are implicitly youthful, congregating to high school age and below. Adult female characters who qualify are almost always in their low twenties. Any characters older than that have this fact unmentioned, or the character's appearance is altered as little as possible regardless of the actual time that has passed. Moe characters often take many characteristics, tropes and forms of appearance from the Bishoujo genre.

Their personality will reflect an "innocent" outlook on something vital, such as about romance. A related implication is that moe characters are virgins, though mostly in Japan, where virginity and purity still remains important to a girl's appeal.

The classical Moe character is highly associated with innocence, shyness, humility, submission, helplessness and woobie characteristics (e.g., Fragile Flower, Shrinking Violet, Extreme Doormat, Cute Clumsy Girl, The Ingenue, the Healing-type genre, etc., usually drawn with Tareme Eyes), although this does not need to be always the case. In many other, more modern variations, there is also a trend towards more upbeat and extroverted personalities that are far more unique, noticeable and recognizable (such as the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and the more benign variants of Tsundere) although these variants do have a risk of getting kinda annoying or tasting like diabetes. Other contributions to uniqueness can also come in the form of quirks, reliance on Costume Exaggeration, odd language, strange hobbies and the like. Occasionally, these quirks are completely unrelated and seem a bit disjointed.

If a character is plain, they are "loudly plain" in the way Hollywood Homely characters are "ugly"; sometimes they're just more moderate than the rest of the cast, and the writers implicitly suggest the audience is kind for liking the character for being plain.

More on these traits can be found here, although trying to define the exact nature of "what is Moe" is still up to debate.

Such characters are also prone to being used as mere Pandering to the Base. When a character has no visible personality traits aside from vaguely cute uselessness, he/she is termed the dreaded "Moe Blob". An interesting result of this is some moe characters are quasi-Animated Actors; the series they star in need not be related at all, being only devices to enable the viewer to enjoy the character. Many of them feature in Gag Series, and only the merchandise for the series shows off its possibly-intended roots, though quite a few merchandise producers use heavy amounts of artistic liberty when designing products.

Also, do note that the Moe aesthetic in itself is generally not considered to be a sexual thing. Saying otherwise will hit the Fandom Berserk Button. That is not to say, of course, that Moe characters can never be sexually attractive, and indeed some aesthetics may deliberately blur the line.

Male characters can also have moe traits, and they figure prominently in Shoujo and Josei. Like their female counterparts, moe boys are usually ridiculously cute. The Adorably Precocious Child is a good example. Bishōnen characters (particularly Troubled, but Cute characters) also tend to evoke feelings of Moe in a female audience and are frequently called Moe by both fans and authors.

For the non-anthropomorphic equivalent, see Ridiculously Cute Critter. See also Moe Anthropomorphism, Moe Couplet, Moe Stare; compare The Woobie where the focus is about sympathy. Yamato Nadeshiko has a similar appeal but for older characters. Also see When She Smiles for situations where applicable characters get massive Moe points for finally breaking out a smile. In darker series, very likely to suffer Break the Cutie. Weakness Turns Her On is a sort of Distaff Counterpart that concerns women's attraction to moe males. Contrast Rated M for Manly. What Do You Mean, It's Not for Little Girls? when someone mistakes a moe show that's meant for older males for a show that's meant for little girls.

No connection to a certain bowlcut-wearing would-be leader, surly bartender, six-year-old school bully, or clam. Or, for that matter, a town in Victoria, Australia. Also no connection to the Dutch word for "sleepy" (despite what The Advertisement Server thinks).

Sub-pages and Examples:

    open/close all folders 

Moe characters

  • The Japanese Windows 7 mascot Nanami Madobe who's a bit ditzy and suffers from Cuteness Proximity.
    • Microsoft Moe strikes again: Claudia Madobe, whose figurines are bundled with Microsoft Visual Studio 2010. Priced at ~$2200, one must wonder whether the figurine or the software is the bonus content.


  • One male example who gets away with it because of his age is Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. Remember when the baby raccoon died? It was also a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
    • It's when he wants to be, and it never works on his parents. Not even "Bambi eyes" work.
      • "Bambi Eyes" tend to lose the intended effect when one is using them to ask for a flamethrower.
    • It also doesn't work on Rosalyn (the baby-sitter), or Miss Wormwood (the teacher), or... you know what? It just doesn't work in-universe.
  • The title character of Empowered is a rare example in an American Super Hero comic.
    ThugBoy: She's got this whole adorable, aching vulnerability thing going on... [...] I wanted to comfort her and tap that ass like it's never been tapped before.
  • Delirium in Death: At Death's Door
  • Molly Hayes and Klara Prast from Runaways
  • Ignacia from Wildguard
  • Squee from Johnny the Homicidal Maniac could be an example of this.
  • The original version of Marrina from Alpha Flight was absolutely made of this, at least as long as she was in control of herself. Unfortunately, outside forces kept pulling out her Super-Powered Evil Side, making her good half seem just that much more tragic and, well, moe.
  • Most of the kid characters from Le Petit Spirou easily qualify for this.
  • Gastoon from the comic book of the same name is this. Just look at this album cover.
  • Kamala Khan, aka the current Ms. Marvel. She's so perky and happy all the time!

    Fan Works 

    Film - Animation 
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Snow White, the original princess, was arguably the start of this in western animation and her cuteness is purposefully emphasized nowadays in contrast to some of the most elegant or tough princesses.
  • Tangled: Rapunzel. Her mannerisms and personality make her one of the most adorable Disney Princess.
  • Toy Story 3: Bonnie. Whether she's being shy (around adults) or a cheerful Genki Girl (with her toys) she's always adorable.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Vanellope von Schweetz is the most adorable character in the movie and also the most abused, whose living conditions were even worse than Ralph's. She is essentially a Dummied Out character in her home game, which is horrifyingly tragic if such a character were sentient. Some of the story team members even grew protective of her.
  • Rock Dog: Bodi's cute character design and optimistic, innocent Adorkable personality make him quite the Precious Puppy.

    Film - Live Action 
  • Frodo Baggins in Lord of the Rings. More so than the book, in which he seems slightly more composed and more mature than his younger Hobbit friends, film Frodo is every bit the doe-eyed, plucky little-train-that-could. Whenever action goes down, even the other Hobbits manage to get some licks in. But not our Frodo, who whimpers and faints and plays the Ill Boy throughout. He's so in over his head it's absurd... which is what makes his pluck all the more moving. It's just a damn good job Sam went with him...
  • David Bowie's character from The Man Who Fell to Earth is a fragile, if stoic, alien who proves highly, tragically vulnerable to the pitfalls of the human world. In his human disguise, he's one of the older examples of this trope (his true form is that of a Rubber-Forehead Alien). It's telling that Bowie fangirls usually refer to Thomas Jerome Newton via his in-story nickname of "Tommy".
  • The ultimate western example would be Audrey Hepburn's adorably innocent Princess Ann from Roman Holiday.
  • Chekov, from the 2009 Star Trek movie. He's developed quite the female following.
    • He's practically a live-action anime character with his enormous greenish-blue eyes; no wonder he's a Moe! That and his positively adorable accent (especially when the computer acts like a bitch to him).
      • "I can do zat! I can do zat!"
  • Little Nancy in Sin City the movie. She is a lot cuter when seen in full color light in the bonus DVD features than in the black and white of the movie.
  • Raven in Cecil B. Demented falls into this category in a weird way, but then, considering the actress...
  • Both used straight and subverted when Wednesday Addams turns on the charm at summer camp in Addams Family Values. In just a few moments she blossoms from her usual drawn and dour self into a charming doe eyed lovable little girl.
    • The other children are visibly shocked. One remarks "she's scaring me!"
  • Child!Hanuman/Maruti from The Return of Hanuman. Big girly eyes, cheeks, innocence, he's just so adorable.
  • Transformers Film Series
    • Bumblebee fills this, despite being a mechanical life form. Due to being the most humanoid of the robot cast, his movements moddelled after Marty McFly, the fact his horns are replaced with little bug antenas, he's given Prowl's door wings which act like dog ears, and his childlike enthusiasm at times. There's a reason many cried when he was injured in the first film and when it looks like he's about to be executed by Soundwave in the third. Possibly lampshading this, Laserbeak uses his aparent ability to change into anything to become a human child sized pink version of him to trick a small girl into letting him inside so he can kill her family.
    • Carly in the third film also acts as this, due to being more emotional than Megan Fox's character Mikeala in the first film and more playful.
  • Chucky from Child's Play. Yes, he is a psychotic mass murderer, but he just looks so adorable in his doll body.
  • Syrena from Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Come on look at those big adorable eyes. Doesn't hurt that she's a sweet vulnerable non-murdering mermaid.
  • Barbra from Night of the Living Dead (1968). After all of the horrible things that happen to her, she becomes a nervous wreck. And it's adorable!
  • Just about anyone played by Mr. Buster Keaton. Poor guy.
  • In Thor, Loki gets one or two scenes (notably The Reveal scene) that make him this... until he turns all Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • Janie in Another Time, Another Place, especially when she gets the chance to smile.
  • X-Men: First Class managed to make Mystique seem Moe.
  • Pre-serum Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger, especially in fanworks. He's feisty and determined (very) rather than innocent and vulnerable, but he is a short, kind of delicate-looking (with big blue Disney princess eyes), romantically inexperienced, Adorkable Ill Boy who gets beat up a lot. Post-serum, he's still cute, but in more of a Dork Knight-Iron Woobie way.
  • Aurora in Maleficent. Innocent, Friend to All Living Things, and spends many of her scenes full of nothing but joy. Being played by Elle Fanning definitely helps. She eventually forms a Moe Couplet with the title character.

  • Lala(left), the singer for J-Pop / digital noise shotgun wedding わたしのココ. You think it stops there? Wait 'till she opens her mouth.
  • Damon Albarn of blur most likely invokes this, particularly in the mid-90s. Just look at him. Awwwwww.
  • Gorillaz guitarist Noodle has always been one in her way, especially considering the visceral art style. Here she is aged ten, fourteen and twenty, complete with Cool Mask.
    • 2D also invokes this feeling a bit, particularly in Phase 3. He's definitely more Ugly Cute than anything, but his advanced Woobiehood and ditzy, laid-back demeanor make him... pretty damn lovable.
  • Carcass in their heyday were quite cute for people making Gorny Grind Core.
  • Ringo Starr guessed that his fanbase in the '60s consisted mainly of girls who wanted to mother him. He was absolutely right.
  • In-universe example. In the Bon Jovi song, "Superman Tonight," Jon sings about a girl he wants to rescue...THAT HE DOESN'T EVEN KNOW.
  • Sally Shapiro
  • Jazz vocalist and pianist Blossom Dearie had this as a big part of her appeal, often described as having a girlish appearance and an innocent "baby-doll" voice. Case in point: her famous cover of "Someone To Watch Over Me." (Is a more Moe name than "Blossom Dearie" even possible?)
  • Ben Howard has been known to have this effect on some.
  • Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy has always had this effect on people to the point where even Pete Wentz has joked about it.
    Pete: patrick doesnt do gross things. his body is made up of kittens, saturdays, 70 degree weather, first kisses and butterflies. trust me, i cut that bitch open once to check.
  • Cone of Sum 41 was this, all the way up until their hiatus, surprisingly. It doesn't help that he still looked like a teenager when he was in his mid-twenties. Case in point. To his fans, he's the pinnacle of innocence.
    Commenter on a tribute video of him: He's so pure, we must protect him at all costs

    Professional Wrestling 
  • AJ Lee is of the Genki Girl variety.
  • Randy Savage's valet Miss Elizabeth could also count.
  • It's Bayley! Genki Girl, check, Adorkable, check, weaponized glomper, check, one of the most "wholesome" Divas on WWE programming, check. Her opening even features a drawing of her as an anime character!

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Warhammer 40,000 fan-character Cultist-chan turned into this once she got de-aged. Yes, a cultist of Chaos.
  • Eberron's female religious leaders are adorable.
  • The GURPS advantage Pitiable basically facilitates moe.
    Something about you makes people pity you and want to take care of you. You get + 3 on all reaction rolls from those who consider you to be in a position of helplessness, weakness, or need (which never includes those with the Callous disadvantage). Taken in conjunction with above-average looks, Pitiable means you are "cute" instead of "sexy"; in combination with below-average looks, it means you are "appealingly homely," like a basset hound.
  • A similar Competence is available for some races in the Tabletop RPG based off Naheulbeuk : "Touching naivety" grants the character a +4 bonus to all Charisma rolls in order to get forgiven by the rest of the party for any laughably catastrophic mistake. Considering how stupid, clumsy (read "very keen to accidentally shoot allies in the back while trying to cover them") elves can be in the Naheulbeuk Universe, they automatically start the adventure with this competence.
  • The Collectible Card Game Weiss Schwarz uses moe as its primary selling point, allowing moe stalwarts such as the Lucky Star and Clannad casts to wage bloody moe battle against each other.

  • In The Phantom of the Opera, Christine is an perfect example of a Moe done well.
    • Meg Giry could also qualify for this.

    Visual Novels 
  • Shiki from Tsukihime tends to have a love of moe traits among the girls in the games. The doujins take this to whole new levels, creating his infamous line "So moe...I'm gonna die~!"
    • The female cast of the game are all quite moe; some just more than others.
    • Akiha, Arcueid, Hisui, Satsuki, and Len; arguably the most moe characters out of the lot.
  • The girls of Katawa Shoujo, who are all Disabled Love Interests who each have some moe traits, but Shrinking Violet Hanako probably takes the cake. However, it's worth noting that despite fandom's treatment of Hanako as moe, her route in the game actually deconstructs the concept. Hanako becomes well aware that Hisao feels sorry for her and sees her as The Woobie, and she greatly resents it. In her Bad End, she calls Hisao out on this, yelling that she hates him for this behaviour. With the way she's facing the screen, however, it doesn't seem that she's yelling at Hisao so much as she's yelling at the player. In her H-scene, the reason she has sex with Hisao in the first place is so that he'll stop seeing her as someone to be pitied and protected.
  • Ema Skye in the extra case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and her cameo in Ace Attorney Investigations. Check out one of her animation cycles if you want proof.
    • Really, any of your female companions fall into this in some way. Maya with her childish naivete, Pearl's innocent ignorance of the world outside Kurain Village (and just being the one little girl in general), and Trucy Wright just all around. Even Kay Faraday, Genki Girl as she is, gets in on it sometimes with her charming ambition. It helps that all these characters have Woobie backgrounds.
    • Ron DeLite: Mask☆DeMoe.
  • Rika and Satoko from Higurashi: When They Cry. The show then goes on to royally mess them up, time and time again. By the time the second season rolls around Rika stops being moe, but Hanyuu more than makes up for it.
  • The elves of ElfQuest are deliberately Moe, particularly Suntop (later renamed Sunstream in-universe) who is practically the Ur Example. Around age 5 or 6, he had to endure being kidnapped by Winnowill, the only truly evil elf known and magically hurt in order to keep him from struggling. Then as a 7yo (guesstimated), he had to endure 2-3 days of sleeplessness because of constantly "hearing" telepathic screaming of other elves from some unknown place. If it weren't for sympathetic parents and an understanding mentor, he could have literally turned out an insanely evil being instead of godlike good.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Sierra Manning in Survival of the Fittest, a cute emotional girl whose cuteness is only amplified by her lisp.
  • lonelygirl15. That is to say, Bree Avery.
  • Codex of The Guild falls into more pathetic cute, but she still counts.
  • MRirian became the second most subscribed person in Japan: for doing nothing but staring into a camera, looking incredibly moe. Really, almost all of her videos only staring consist of that.
  • Jade Sinclair, codename Generator, of the Whateley Universe. Cute, Genki Girl, looks about ten years old even if she's a high school freshman, still fixated on Hello Kitty, ...
  • According to Uncyclopedia, musicians such as David Ellefson, Varg Vikernes (Troubled, but Cute), and Rick Allen (Bandage Babe) are considered moe by Heavy Metal fangirls.
  • Eddsworld:
    • Edd himself is a very cute cartoon boy with his Adorkable personality, wide-eyed expressions, cheerful attitude and love of cats.
    • Matt in the later episodes is still very vain, but also very much of a ditzy Keet.
    • Jon, he's a bit jerkish like Eduardo and Mark, but it's suggested that he's only misguided and manipulated by them into being a jerk and is really just an innocent guy and possibly the Only Sane Man of the trio.
    • Heck, to an extent, almost everyone on the show is this.
  • The Nostalgia Critic. Those huge, pretty eyes, his actor's gleeful catering to the fangirls and the fact that he looks like a kid playing grown-up (and tends to suck at it) in that messy suit adds a lot to his appeal.
  • The Doomy Adventures Of Irken Doominess: Melissa as a smeet was a total Moe being shy and withdraw, often having others feel the need to protect her.
    • while we're on this subject, San too who was in pretty much the same situation as Melissa but wasn't shy or withdrawn but so socially awkward that most people avoided her.
  • Lily Pichu, a Gamer Chick that hosts her own channel doing escapades playing League of Legends and occasionally accompanies them with cute non-professional drawing in moe style. Just listen to her voice and try not to have a HNNNNNGGG. Of course, sometimes she subverts it that she also a bit foul-mouthed, letting out Precision F-Strike time to time, but it's also worth noting that she admits that the Moe voice is totally original and not made-up. She's also pretty personable and can be hilarious when she wants to.
  • About the best way to describe why Hailey Solomanari of Kakos Industries is so well liked among fans. Even with only her voice to convey her character, she's so damn naive and bubbly it's borderline infectious. She's especially this compared to the other characters who tend to carry a more obvious sense of intimidation while she keeps her own Evil capabilities under a pretty pink gauze of innocence which makes her both incredibly "moe" with plenty of Cute and Psycho to boot.
  • The character named Moe in No Boys Dorm. With her bubbly personality, love of the color pink, enthusiasm for just about everything, and tendency to actually sparkle, she definitely fits the description.
  • Idols Of Anime episode 14 discusses the rise of Moe in anime during the mid-2000s.
  • Quite a few examples in RWBY, as it's a World of Action Girls:
    • Ruby Rose is a bubbly and geeky 15-year-old monster slayer in-training who wants to be a hero because her Cool Big Sis Yang read a lot of old fantasy stories to her as a little kid.
    • Yang as a little kid would qualify, with her pigtails and brave Determinator attitude.
    • Penny Polendina is a... strange but very cheerful young girl who is also capable of carving through an entire army of terrorists with a cute little smile on her face.
    • Standing at 4'9'', Neopolitan is the shortest girl in the cast, and rarely seen without her Parasol of Pain. That is, when she's not stabby Nightmare Fuel who nearly murdered both Ruby and Yang on separate occasions.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series has jokes about Yugi being this. Specifically, the series likens him to a baby panda.
    Yugi: Have you seen my face?! Seriously, I'm so cute, people have mistaken me for a baby panda! One whimper outta me and he'll be the Joey we know and love again.
    Yami: You mean you're not a baby panda?
    Yugi: Nope.
    Yami: Wow, you're good!

    Western Animation 
  • Steven Universe: BEHOLD; the biggest example of this in American animation - Steven, an all-loving, energetic kid hero with empathy for everyone, even jerks, villains, and monsters. He's a younger brother figure for the Gems and the older audience.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Ty Lee. Peppy and childish with large eyes.
    • Toph is very Moe in appearance, although more of a Badass Adorable when you consider what she's capable of. As in, "Kick your ass to oblivion and then some with a bunch of rocks without even bothering to look at you" Badass Adorable. Doesn't deter a lot of fans from viewing her as Moe all the same, though.
    • Zuko, especially during the episode "The Western Air Temple" where he tries to join Team Avatar and it doesn't go so well at first, resulting in him yelling, "Why am I so bad at being good!" There's also the fact that his temper stems more from him being the Woobie than him being a jerkass for the most part, and he can be very socially awkward.
  • The Legend of Korra: Opal with her big eyes, sweet demeanor, and awkward first impression toward Team Avatar (especially Bolin) makes her absolutely adorable.
  • Futurama.
    • Come on...if you were Leela, you know you'd date Fry in a second. None of that pussyfooting around. It's all his heart, and the fact that he is so very, very, very lonely, being the oldest human in the world by a very long shot. Plus, he's nice to people who don't give a rat's ass about him, for no good reason at all. What's there not to like? Intelligence? Overrated! In fact, he's most adorable in his good-hearted loopiness.
    • Leela. How can you not hear orphanage stories and not want to give her a hug? One eye or two, who cares?
    • Kif. With the big head, large eyes, small nose, girlish voice and the borderline Woobieness, he's downright adorable!
  • The Simpsons:
    • Maggie, the adorable Cute Mute baby who is always sucking on her pacifier (though she has a dark side).
    • Lisa, being a smart, caring, and idealistic Adorably Precocious Child.
    • Ralph, one of Lisa's classmates, qualifies due to his innocence and being a Cloudcuckoolander.
    • Ironically the character named Moe definitely averts this trope.
  • Kim Possible: Shego turns Moe when she gets hit by an attitude ray, which changes her personality to the opposite of her current one. That lady on the Dark Action Girl page? That's her.Seriously.
  • School For Vampires: Klot. Don't look at him - let alone talk to him - for long, or you'll find yourself offering him your blood voluntarily.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Candace can be this to the boys who love her crazy awesome Genki girl attitude.
  • Recess:
    • Miss Grotke is a rare over 18 example of the trope. Personality speaking, she's like a misplaced Disney Princess. Sadly, a lot of her moe-ness is taken out of most dubs, where her cute, high-pitched voice is usually replaced with a lower, more boring one.
    • The main six when they were in kindergarten were just adorable as well.
    • Gus is one of the cutest members of the main six.
  • Timothy Goes to School: Yoko, Lilly, and Juanita are all very kind and nice around the other students and among the cutest characters in the series.

Entire series called moe

    Notable Producers of Moe Series 

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • A set of eroge with actual plots and sympathetic characters is Key's works. Kanon and AIR have both been animated twice with all H-scenes removed and practically no fanservice, and didn't lose much; CLANNAD, which was also animated twice under the same contract, was completely clean in the first place.
  • There's actually a whole VN genre for so-called "moege". Da Capo and its spinoffs, SHUFFLE!, Snow Sakura and Canvas 2 are just some that this particular niche has to offer. Confusingly enough, there is also a different genre called "moege", the one relating to burn/passion; these titles are usually related to sports or hobbies one can be, well, passionate about and bond to each other over it. This difference was mentioned (and admitedly better explained) in Koe de Oshigoto!.
    • Speaking of Da Capo, remeber the character Moe above in the anime section? In the VN there's more to her than meets the eye, and it has to do with her unusual sleeping habits, if that alone is not Moe enough. She takes sleeping pills. Not because of insomnia, but due to a tragic incident in her childhood - there was a boy she liked, then one day he died. Overcome with grief, she made a wish to the magical Sakura Tree to see that boy in her dreams. Hence her need to sleep. Thus when the tree withers, she loses that wish, and just breaks down. Awwww

    Web Comics 

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 

Moe in general

  • Starting in 2014, .moe joined the likes of .com and .net as a TLD. Yes, it is directly named after this concept.


Alternative Title(s): Moe Moe, Moe Blob