Well her clothes are blacker than the blackest cloth And her face is whiter than the snows of Hoth She wears Doctor Martens and a heavy cross But on the inside, she's a happy goth.
— The Divine Comedy, "The Happy Goth"
The stereotypical Goth character, especially in teen shows, is frequently a Snark Knight or a Deadpan Snarker, someone whose dark clothes and grooming reflect a pessimistic mentality. Contrariwise, the Perky Goth, who is almost always female, operates on the principle that dark does not always mean depressing. Sometimes a singular Goth takes on both personalities.
She wears the clothes, but her personality is always cheerful and amiable (occasionally approaching Genki Girl territory). Appropriately, this is a Sister Trope to Elegant Gothic Lolita (referring to an actual subculture mainly popular in Japan), as well as a subversion of the Woman in Black. If she's supposed to be attractive, she has a strong chance of being Raven Hair, Ivory Skin.
While the trope is sufficient to cover both, a character who is to Emo as this trope is to Goth would essentially be a "scene or cupcake emo", which are notable for their pink/black stripes. This is technically a different subculture than emo, but they're closely related and scene can be summarized as "Perky Emo with a little bit of rave culture".
And to emphasize: perky goth is an acknowledged part of the goth subculture, not just something made up by media.
Keep in mind that goth culture is reversed on this point just as in some countries the gothic color is white.
Misa Amane from Death Note, who wears lots of black, crosses, etc but is always upbeat and cheery. There's also the cheery shinigami Ryuk.
Yugi, the eponymous character of Yu-Gi-Oh!, dresses either in all black or in absurdly cute outfits, has wild hair (that's natural) and wears chains, LOTS of leather and dog-collars... Yeah, collars. His monster theme is darkness and black magic and he is regularly possessed by a spirit that's at the very least EXTREMELY ruthless. None of this stops him from being a pacifist, unbearably cute, friendship-obsessed and a real sweetheart. And cute.◊
Death in the anime Kamichu! has a short scene with the god of poverty. She's a bit beyond perky and well into total bonkers◊. Or maybe she just knows something we don't. That's one hell of a Slasher Smile she has got there...
Yamie from Kure-nai, who is at her perkiest when interacting with Murasaki.
Another male example: Nekozawa from Ouran High School Host Club. He's the president of the Black Magic Club, is obsessed with curses, and has plenty of fun being generally creepy. Not even the fact that he's allergic to light seems to bother him all that much. Having an adoring younger sister helps.
Also a girl from Ouran named Reiko, who marries Hunny.
Reiko, the first Devil Hunter Yohko villain. In spite of her dark nature, she seems to smile a lot.
Sawyer the Cleaner, from Black Lagoon, qualifies. In one scene, when she's explaining that the bad smell in a hotel room is from the ooze from rotting corpses she had to clean up in there earlier, she smiles happily, glad to have made things clear, while everybody around her is busy losing their lunch.
Mirajane from Fairy Tail isn't quite "perky" in her youth - she's Hot-Blooded. She basically had the same personality as Natsu. However, after she loses her sister Lisanna she becomes a Proper Lady.
Saki Hanajima from Fruits Basket. She looks rather scary, with wearing black to signify that she is a "sinner" and occasionally threatening people who try to hurt Tohru, but she's awfully nice.
Gilly Woods from John Kovalic's gamer comic Dork Tower is the quintessential Perky Goth and Trope Namer; along with all of the typical goth mannerisms, she smiles all the time, collects plush animals, enjoys cookies and ice cream, and is perpetually optimistic. This greatly annoys her brother Walden, who is a stereotypical Mopey Goth.
Death of the Endless, from The Sandman by Neil Gaiman, is described by her author as a Perky Goth. She is not just responsible for Death, though; she also gives the breath of life when someone is born. She's pretty much the person you'd most want to see at a stressful moment like that. Her brother, Dream, fills the Mopey Goth niche.
Although in stories taking place in earlier eras (read: billions of years ago), Death was a bit of a wet blanket herself before she started spending a few days each century with mortals.
Nico Minoru, a.k.a. Sister Grimm, in Runaways. In the beginning, at least.
Mavis in Hotel Transylvania, particularly when presented with the opportunity to leave her stifling castle and also whenever spending time around Jonathan.
Films — Live Action
'The World's End'' has a male example in the form of Gary King, a cheerful, lively middle-aged fan of classic Goth band The Sisters Of Mercy who wears a black trenchcoat and fingerless gloves. The character of Gary King is actually a parody of the way an older Perky Goth would be perceived by the rest of the world outside of the Goth subculture: as irresponsible and immature, with an adolescent attitude well into adulthood.
Angela in the Night of the Demons series. She remains pretty perky even after going all evil and demonic.
Morgana from Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies was presumably this, until her boyfriend died in the intro.
Due to the apparent fetishes/artistic style of the directors, most every character from The Matrix dress in a goth-like manner, but none act the part.
Jill from The Dead Matter, who loves nothing more than a good seance, and calls dead spirits with a smile! She's also the most level-headed of the entire group when it comes to logically dealing with the Zombie Apocalypse.
A 1950s example: the title character in Cry-Baby, who has a tattoo of a black teardrop dripping from his eye. He's not exactly "perky," but he's generally optimistic despite his surly attitude.
In God Bless America It's exaggerated in both how Roxy is Gothic to the point of being psycho and how she's perky to the point of Genki Girl. She's always talking and smiling while planning to kill people. Her clothes and hair are normal though.
Hellabent from Otto; or up with dead people She is calmer than your average perky goth, but definitely has a good and happy attitude; her girlfriend Medea is more serious, but still likes to play as a little girl with her lover.
Telnan, introduced in Dzur, thinks like most Dzur warriors (as Vlad sarcastically notes) that black-on-black is a wonderful color combination, but acts like The Ditz.
Sethra Lavode might be a better example, dressing all in black and having an unsettling pallor (she is an eons old undead), but being surprisingly friendly. She also has a disturbingly silly sense of humor. In one book, she passes sentence on one of her apprentices for attempting to kill several of her friends, influence the succession of the House of the Dragon, and start a war. The sentence is to strand her in an alternate, desert dimension with shelter, plenty of food and water and a stick, and instruct her to write "I will not interfere with the Dragon Council" in the sand 83,521 times.
Wherein hangs the tale: Sethra IS eons old. Having seen so much, there's really only two ways to go, and the other way would either have destroyed her or the world, one way or the other. If there's anyone entitled to live and advocate the sentiment of "Live Here Now", it is certainly Sethra Lavode!
Molly Carpenter from The Dresden Files has shades of perky goth, 80's Brit-punk, and BDSM fetish going.
Raven Madison from Vampire Kisses is a mixure of highly sterotyped goth who listens to Him, Marilyn Manson, and strangly enough The Cruxshadows (Strange not because she's goth, but because most music references were ones that are what people think goths listen to), wears mostly black, is obsessive over vampires, and is disliked by most people, but besides that she acts like any other teenager.
Friday the 13th: Carnival Of Maniacs had an odd example. Pamela Voorhees possesses a teenage goth named Gloria Sowici (nicknamed Glo). So we end up with a woman with a borderline Tastes Like Diabetes attitude inhabiting the body of a girl described as pretty dour and unpleasant to look at. Suffice to say, characters, such as the guy who picks up the hitchhiking Pam-Glo, remark on the contrast.
Jez from Kingdom Keepers has pale skin and dresses like a stereotypical goth, yet acts more flirty than you'd expect. This could be because she's really being brainwashed by Maleficent to spy on Finn.
Zanna from the The Last Dragon Chronicles has pale skin, and wears black make-up and black clothes, but is relatively happy and has fun a lot more than normal stereotypical goths. Though she has reformed into more Hipster territory by the time The Fire Eternal kicks off.
Sephie Beller from Transformers: Shattered Glass is often depicted as being into Gothy clothing, hairstyle, and music, but she's not typically gloomy or depressed in the slightest (or at least no more often than a typical 20-something would be), and seems to be a pretty cheerful technophile. Of course, since this is a Mirror Universe, it's entirely possible that it's the Perky Goth stereotype that's the "norm", and it's gloomy Goths that would be unusual.
Coreen Fennel on Blood Ties. Vicki Nelson, the acerbic heroine, comments, "No one likes a perky goth."
One of the teams on The Amazing Race's 12th season was a pair of dating, incredibly Perky Goths. They got 5th place.
The entire Addams Family are perky goths. However, the perkiest character by far (in the film and television versions at least) is Gomez Addams, possibly the first male Perky Goth in popular culture — if you equate "manic" with "perky".
God would sometimes appear in the form of a male Perky Goth in the TV series Joan of Arcadia.
Richmond from The IT Crowd, who listens to Cradle of Filth and is mistaken for a vampire on his first appearance, but who is generally cheery despite being severely demoted and spending most of his time supervising equipment he can't even identify.
Wizards of Waverly Place has Miranda, who is never seen not smiling, yet is constantly referred to as "scary" and says such gems as "I hate corporate America!" (really, Disney? REALLY!?). The perky part is probably to keep her safe and acceptable (also a result of bad writing).
Jethro from the episode "Midnight" from Doctor Who.
A couple of incarnations of the Doctor have slipped into this too; particularly the Retconnned-outNinth Doctor played by Richard E Grant. The Fourth Doctor also fits, but it's a played-with example - he doesn't really dress the part (or at least his garish, oversized scarf ruins the effect of his dark Victorian coats, red ascots and poet shirts), but his character was inspired by starving Victorian gothic poets and he acted like a Gothic Horror hero - albeit the cheeriest, cutest one you could ever imagine. In other words, he's a "goth" in the Victorian sense.
The subject of Kate Nash's Mariella is a misunderstood loner who likes to wear black, but she's also a cheerful little girl who always gets the crossword puzzle right.
"She marched to her wardrobe and threw away the colour, because wearing black looks mysterious, but it didn't impress her mother...But Mariella just smiled as she skipped down the road because she knew all the secrets in her world."
They're getting ugly; They're a horror show. And now we're laughing Because they'll never know That they have everything. We give them all of our own And they tell us they're sick and they're all alone.
Canadian singer Lights, Her appearance and love for metal music would make up the 'Goth' part of this trope, while her own music and personality make up the 'Perky' part. Go figure.
Creature Feature. They only sound dark and depressing, but take one listen to any of their songs and tell me they're not having a grand old time trying to top themselves on the What-the-Fuck-o-meter.
Emilie Autumn's music tends towards melancholic and angsty, but there's also a great deal of caprice and whimsy which reflects her perky side. The trope is more evident still in her live shows and interviews.
Jennifer Parkin of Ayria is pretty much this, and it shows through her music. Well, except for the sadder songs.
Ditto for Helalyn Flowers, also on the Alfa Matrix label. They dress gothically, and often have gothic subjects in their lyrics such as psychic lesbian vampires and tentacle hentai, but their musical style is mainly upbeat synth-rock.
Type O Negative. They look extremely intimidating and popularized a "doom" sound in music, and they sing tunes about having sweet girlfriends and about silly goth girls with too much black hair dye. Although they do have quite a few sad songs.
The Welsh synthpop / darkwave group Future Perfect. Along with singer Rebecca Morgan's gothic dress style, they can be angsty and depressing in some songs (e.g. "Poisoned Love", "Not in Control", and "Complicated Machine"), but other times they're peppy and upbeat ("Paradise", "Light", and "Saint Perfect").
The Break Up, another goth-influenced Nu-Wave band, has their share of depressing songs, often about failed relationships as their name suggests, but also a good number of perky songs such as "Ninja", "Lightning", "Trapeze", and "Synthesis".
Kerli, who has dubbed her style "bubblegum goth". As time progressed, she has become more "perky" than "goth".
Voltaire who is possibly the most successful gothic comedian in history.
Donna Lynch and Steven Archer of Ego Likeness are this in person. However, their music certainly isn't.
John Entwistle of The Who. Famously The Quiet One in the band, he put his lighter side on display via Halloween-like imagery, such as the skull costume he often wore and his self-penned, darkly comedic Step Up to the Microphone moments like "Boris the Spider".
Baron Samedi from Voudoun. God of death, dresses like an undertaker (the person around corpses, not the wrestler), wanders the graveyards as a skeleton, and enjoys his "life" to the fullest. His wife Maman Brigitte also counts.
Lio from, well Liō. He's mute, but his joyous grins and gleeful attitude speak for themselves. He frequently breaks out into hysterical laughter, usually at the outcome of a prank he just pulled. As for the "Goth" part of the equation ... read the comic, but this is a pretty good demonstration.
Dethany Dendrobia, in On The Fastrack, is a classic example. She's as Goth as it gets, but cheerful, friendly and a real asset to the company—-which is how she gets away with seriously non-corporate clothing and accessories under the reign of Ms. Trellis.
Former WCW and now TNA wrestler Sting is essentially this, as he kept the costume inspired by The Crow he adopted during the nWo angle, but has gone back to his former upbeat showman persona.
Jeff Hardy, too, has played up this angle in both WWE and TNA. He wears corpse paint and his fans are known as "Creatures of the Night," but he's otherwise fun-loving and full of spirit.
Daffney Unger, from both WCW and TNA, was known for deliriously screaming and laughing during her own matches and those of her friends.
It's implied a lot of Sin-Eaters are like this. They were given the chance to come back from the dead and gladly accepted, so why shouldn't they be happy? Their general culture is one of celebrations and gatherings in the vein of the Day of the Dead and New Orleans funerals.
Penny Dreadful from Mage: The Ascension lives and breathes this trope. It's also implied that just as many of the Hollow Ones are perky goths as are traditional ones.
Eclipse Phase has the newscaster Momo von Satan, the host of a comedy news program. Imagine The Daily Show if Jon Stewart was a tiny Japanese woman who continually argued with a giant grey CGI penis wearing a horned Viking helmet about journalistic ethics, and who filled the show with cracked-out one-frame Easter Eggs, and you'll pretty much have the idea.
Sigrun from Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening is a member of the Legion of the Dead, dwarves who have symbolically died and consider themselves dead to the world. Their normal mindset is quite gloomy, but Sigrun manages to subvert the expectations despite of her dark, tattooed exterior. This is even lampshaded by Nathaniel who thinks she ought to be a bit more grim to suit the image.
Nina Cortex from Crash Bandicoot. She's paler than the Addams Family, Darker and More Cynical than Marvel's Death, Yet loves animals and laughs, she has times when she's moody and agressive, but that's because of her Evil scientist uncle.
Deconstructed by Morinth from Mass Effect 2, She seems like one of these but is obsessed with dominance, violence and death.
Cube from Jet Set Radio counts, though only since the localization of the first game. The Japanese original had her in more traditional skater-punk style.
The main character of Buttercup Festival is a perky goth, and embodies perhaps the more whimsical side of the trope.
Crystal from Zebra Girl. She starts out completely bubbly from the get-go, and one day decides to go goth on a lark, without actually changing her personality in any way.
Blossom from Rhapsodies (though she's more Industrial Punk than most examples).
Amy Fang from Dead Metaphor is a good example. Though she wears death-metal shirts and seems to have an obsession with horror/zombies, she is perpetually perky, energetic and somewhat childish.
Dora from Questionable Content. Her transition from "mopey" to "perky" allegedly came before her first appearance, and she's called out on it in an early strip by a member of her former "coven". This same member (Raven) shows up a few weeks later with a job application as a non-gothic Genki Girl.
Subversion: On the outside, Alisin in Fans!! is cheerful, fun-loving, and free-spirited, and it's only when you look closely that it's revealed that underneath the perky exterior she's a neurotic, self-loathing and nihilistic mess.
In more recent arcs, Aly(she's no longer Alisin) was able to shed her self-loathing, due in large part to the unconditional love of her husband Rikk, and later Rumy when she joined them in a triad marriage, plus finding fulfillment in her job as a nurse in a juvenile cancer ward. She also grew her hair out and dropped most of her goth fashions. In one recent arc, she was held hostage by Keith Feddyg, who told the young patients about her past life, and then killed one 8-year-old who defended her. Aly, bolstered by Rikk and Rumy, was able to say the one thing Keith couldn't bear to hear; "I forgive you."
Esther from Scary Go Round. Her friend Sarah has also become much perkier throughout the comic.
SGR actually plays with Goth stereotypes quite a bit overall — Sarah goes a bit Tsundere for and winds up dating the much older Ryan, while Esther and Sarah's friend Big Lindsay is less goth and more of a Class 3 The Big Guy (who is eventually Put on a Bus by getting pregnant). And then there's the odd case of Roxy Postlethwaite, who is supernaturally Changed into a "White Goth" — part banshee, Cloud Cuckoo Lander, all Nightmare Fuel.
Silverblue from Jack, based on the character of a friend of the author (who herself is a Perky Goth in real life), is very much this by the time she realizes that everything that happens to her in hell is her own self punishment, and no, she does NOT have to watch the same round of musical holes every day if she really doesn't want to.
Kanaya from Homestuck is an inversion. On her home planet, most residents stay indoors during the day for fear of the blistering sun (and the undead who rise in the morning), and wear nothing but black and gray. Kanaya, on the other hand, comes out during the day (and keeps actual plants in her home) and wears a variety of bright colors... so, for all intents and purposes, she's the goth of her planet.
Aradia, post-resurrection, is a more straight example. While she also doesn't wear black or grey, she's an extreme Nightmare Fetishist who is incredibly cheery and enthusiastic about the chance to throw someone a "corpse party". She somehow manages to be so sweet and likeable about it that it almost isn't creepy.
goth female Elliot (ogling the mirror): The world is cold, but this form is hot.
Runie from 200:20 could be considered an excellent example of this as well. The many, many outfits in which she is seen wearing normally involve black colors or fishnets (she is most often seen wearing a something that looks a cross of a Chinese dress with panty hose and knee high boots). Although her attitude might also qualify her to be considered as The Cutie as well.
Vicious Whisper from Serenity Rose is a textbook example, with bright pink hair, a very positive (and vocal) outlook on life and all while following strong Goth Aesthetics.
Matchu has Famine, who, despite the evil sounding name, is rather cheerful in her own weird way.
The websites Suicide Girls (NSFW!) and Gods Girls (NSFW!) (as well as their Tumblr pages, just google either one with the word tumblr also, Tumblr sites as NSFW!) exist to document these women in their natural habitat. And naked.
"1-800-Tech support" has Erica who, while into black makeup, mummifying her dead cats and so on, is generally fairly chirpy...unless it's that time of the month.
At least one of the hosts from the podcast Lime and Violet alludes to having been one of these in the past, after a teenage stint as a more typical Mopey Goth.
Moria from Gaia Online kind of drifts between this and Regular Punk depending on her characterization. (Though she was a vampire for about a week once, which ranks pretty high on the goth scale.)
Survival of the Fittest has Anna Chase of v4 and Keira MacDonald of the spinoff Evolution. Anna's a little more downplayed on the perky part, and while not a Shrinking Violet, can come off as seemingly rather meek at times. However, she still definitely fits the description. Keira, however, is played completely straight; her "power" is that she coughs up smoke at irregular intervals, for crying out loud!
Sara Waite of Whateley Universe appears to be a goth due to her natural coloring, and, as a lust demon, she's rather perky.
Youtube vlogger Miss Hannah Minx is probably the most gratuitously perky goth in the whole world, especially in her Jinx and Elvira personas. Example.
Ask A Mortician, a Youtube webseries where a licensed mortician cheerfully answers people's questions about death, burial, cremation, and other such things.
She has a Crowning Moment of Funny when, to answer someone's question if it's possible to bake someone's cremated remains into a chocolate cake (no, really, that was the question), she does precisely that with some fake remains (with "Sorry U Died" written in icing). The cake was apparently quite disgusting, and the whole thing was hilariously absurd.
Danny Phantom: As mentioned above, Sam Manson is very clearly one of these. By outward appearance, she's your stereotypical Goth girl. But she's actually quite happy with the way life is! It generally appears as though Sam considers herself a Goth because she likes the style... or because she wanted to rebel against her parents.
Carl Squared: Ironically not Carl Crashman's sister, Chloe, but her boyfriend Damien.
The 1999 direct-to-video Scooby-Doo movie, Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost, features "The Hex Girls", a rock-band trio of friendly Goth girls. They identify themselves as "Eco-Goths", are deeply involved with environmental causes, and the lead singer's Wiccan background becomes key in dealing with the titular Witch's Ghost.
Practically everyone in Ruby Gloom aside from the appropriately named "Misery".
Ingrid Third in Fillmore! is pale, raven-haired, dresses only in black most of the time, and cracks wise all the time.
Julian from Randy Cunningham Ninth Grade Ninja definitely fits this trope. Despite being fascinated with creepy, dark places, and instruments of torture, Julian is actually rather perky.
Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson built an entire career out of being cheerful, sexy and dark. The character she was an Expy for, Vampira, was also sexy, but otherwise a more "traditional" style of Goth.
As one website owner maintained, Salvador Dalí.
Photophobia didn't bother the late Church of Satan founder Anton Le Vey, either. After he got rolling, the witty religious rebel played off and played jokes on, off, and with his own image and reputation to a level you'd expect out of (irony noted) the Devil. This was even noted in a interview with him prior to his death undertaken by the pornographic publication High Society magazine.
Voltaire. No, no, not the eighteenth century French author; Voltaire Hernandez, the twenty-first century songwriter, author of humorous perspectives on being a Goth, and occasional stand-up comedian. That Voltaire. He also does music for the Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, so that makes him doubly cool.