Oh Crap Smile

Preserver: How could I ever think trash like you was worth saving?
Lobo: I got a cute smile?

So you're a prankster or a villain whose prank or Evil Plan has been exposed. Everyone is giving you a Death Glare, and you know you're in serious trouble. What do you do? You put on a big smile to save a little face. The more disgraceful or outright evil your plan was, the more likely this is to fail, and for Laser-Guided Karma to come a-knockin'.

The Not-So-Innocent Whistle is an alternative to this kind of situation. Broken Smile may overlap if the smile starts as genuine. Related to Cheshire Cat Grin.

Examples:

Animated Films
  • Cats Don't Dance:
    • After she accidentally reveals her true bratty colors to all of Hollywood, Darla puts on a huge grin and nervously hugs Danny to save face.
      "Nice...kitty?"
    • Another near the end on the part of her butler Max, when he realizes his footing on the Darla Dimple balloon may be shakier than he had thought.
      Danny: How does the kitty cat go?
      Max: M-m-m-meow? (Grin)
      Danny: Very good. (pops the balloon and sends Max flying across the city)
  • The walrus from the "Walrus and the Carpenter" segment of Alice in Wonderland does one before the carpenter chases him for eating all the oysters.
  • In The Little Mermaid, Sebastian does this when he realizes he accidentally revealed Ariel's secret to King Triton and pressed the latter's Berserk Button.
    Sebastian: Humans? Heh-heh. Who said anything about humans?
  • In Aladdin, Jafar tries this, along with saying "All this can be explained" after he's discovered to be a traitor.
  • In Mulan. Check out the look on Mulan's face when her commander Shang catches her with an arrow with the fruit she's supposed to be targeting already skewered on the end of it (courtesy of her pal Mushu trying to "help" her).
  • Doctor Facilier flashes one of these at the end of The Princess and the Frog after his talisman gets broken and his "Friends" come to collect their payment.

Live-Action Films
  • The Live-Action Garfield film. After Odie impresses a Dog Show with a dance that Garfield made up himself, Garfield becomes so agitated at Odie being given so much attention instead of him, that he accidentally causes an enormous mess in Jon's house. When Jon comes in and sees Garfield in the middle of the mess, Garfield pulls this trope and then gets thrown outside.

Live-Action TV
  • In Top Gear, Series 9, Episode 4, Richard Hammond's initially authentic smile of excitement morphed into one of these, and then into a Broken Smile, when the Reliant Robin Space Shuttle failed to separate from its external fuel-tank and returned to earth in a massive fireball.

Western Animation
  • Near the end of the Justice Friends short "TV Super Pals", Major Glory and Val Halen pull one when they anger Krunk by destroying the TV.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends' Blooregard Q. Kazoo is very prone to these.
  • The Simpsons: In "Worst Episode Ever", Bart and Milhouse do this when the accidentally cost Comic Book Guy the chance to get rare Star Wars stuff from Martin's mom.
  • In the Superman: The Animated Series episode "The Main Man", Lobo reaches the docking bay of the Preserver's ship and is moments away from freedom, where the Preserver confronts him, transforming into a massive monster. As he has Lobo in his grip, they have this exchange:
    Preserver: How could I ever think trash like you was worth saving?
    Lobo: I got a cute smile?
  • Bugs Bunny does this in the Looney Tunes cartoon What's Opera, Doc?, when Elmer Fudd catches on to Bugs' tricks — right at the moment all hell is about to break loose.
    • Daffy Duck also does one in "My Favorite Duck". After a law against harming ducks allows him to torment Porky Pig mercilessly, they come across a billboard stating the law has been revoked. Cue Daffy nervously grinning as Porky looms towards him with an enormous Slasher Smile.
  • In Garfield's Halloween Adventure, as Garfield and Odie try to hide in a cupboard from pirate ghosts, Odie accidentally sneezes so loud that it not only gets the ghosts' attention but it also blows the doors open. Garfield and Odie both grin sheepishly as they close the doors again, and Garfield says, "Maybe they didn't see us...". Cue the Scare Chord as the pirate ghosts pop their heads in the cupboard through the door!

Real Life
  • People do this in real life all the time as a reflexive reaction to stress, along with Corpsing, hence why many scoldings include the line "wipe that smile off your face." It's thought to be a holdover from our primate ancestors, and chimpanzees and other apes still exhibit a "grin of fear" when stressed.