"Mr. Rogers projected an air of genuine, unwavering, almost saintly pure-hearted decency. But when you look deeper, at the person behind the image ... that's exactly what you find there, too. He's exactly what he appears to be."This trope happens when you meet her. In any kind of fiction, she is likely to be your rival (professional or otherwise). In family pictures, she's most often a would-be stepmother. In thrillers, she's testifying in a murder case and may even be suspected. Whatever incarnation of this demon you encounter, it doesn't matter, really, because when you see her, you'll just know. From the moment you'll meet, you'll start feeling something is off. She's not jealous of you, even if you try to take the attention from her. She's never angry, even when you try setting her perfect hair on fire. She's always kind to you and she never takes off that radiant smile. But you've been on TV Tropes. You know what it means. She's a Stepford Smiler, and certainly not a type A. She's obviously a Femme Fatale Gold Digger Starfish Alien who wants to take over the world, take your job and dad and friends away from you and humiliate you at prom... And Your Little Dog, Too!... because of... reasons... Except no. As everyone could have told you, and as you should have known, she is really nice, and you, dear Conspiracy Theorist Know-Nothing Know-It-All, should take your meds right now. Otherwise, you're being a Clingy Jealous Girl or this is your Ambition Is Evil Start of Darkness story. This trope happens when the story sets up suspicions of Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, and subverts it, either by making the character be the nice person they appear to be, or by revealing that they played another kind of nice than the usual one, but are ultimately just as decent as they appeared, if they weren't better. It often delivers a lesson about how Evil Cannot Comprehend Good when the villain tries a Breaking Speech and thinks that he has found something evil in the hero, but there isn't anything evil to find and the hero proves them wrong. Sometimes used as an Aesop to the Audience Surrogate against believing certain stereotypes, causing shared audience guilt, as in children films nowadays, in which this happens to stepparents to the extent that they can do no wrong. Related to The Untwist. Compare/contrast Jerk with a Heart of Jerk, when suspicions of kindness about an usually Jerkass-like character are wrong. Also contrast Subverted Suspicion Aesop, where suspicions seem unfounded, but turn out to be right. Compare The So-Called Coward, which is when a character is suspected of being a Dirty Coward, but turns out to be an exceptionally courageous character.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Tonio Trussardi/Trendy from Diamond Is Unbreakable is a seemingly kind Supreme Chef Stand User who can create food that heals his customer's ailments. All throughout the episode, Josuke, along with the audience, is repeatedly lead to believe that Tonio's food is either deadly, made from parts of other customers, made from dogs that he feeds it to, or something equally horrific. However, despite everything pointing to him being secretly evil, he ends up being entirely genuine in his desire to serve his customers healthy and delicious food, and he wasn't even aware that there were other Stand Users.
- Kasumi Tendo from Ranma ˝ is a sweet, motherly Yamato Nadeshiko who has the patience of a saint. One day, Ranma managed to somehow tick her off, and the group finds several household items damaged afterwards. The others quickly assume that Kasumi is a Stepford Smiler who has been suppressing her grudge, and that her dormant anger would now be unleashed, and they spend the rest of the chapter fearing her wrath. When she finally confronted Ranma, she punished him with... a flick on the forehead (and even then she worries that she was being too harsh).
Films — Live-Action
- Crush has a spoiler which it is certainly better not to highlight since this makes up for the entire resolution, and a few others, all quite unexpected:
- Scott's dad is actually sweet and understanding and he is really not controling or smothering as his son thinks he secretly is. He lets him play again.
- Jules is a Good Bad Girl Cloud Cuckoo Lander and leaves it at that, though her methods make you wonder if she's not hiding a psycho side early on.
- Jeffrey is actually just a bit Creepy Good and genuinely in love with Bess.
- Now, for the real spoiler: Bess herself is just a romantic girl who lives next to the male lead, reads his Facebook posts and sometimes picks up the wonderful drawings he throws away and tries to encourage him to reveal his true nature. She's aware that her behavior is obsessive, has a My God, What Have I Done? when she thinks he actually is angry for the few things she did, and gets over him pretty quickly.
- In The Dark Knight (and given further detail in its novelization), Harvey Dent is presented as an awesome and incorruptible crusader for justice, and is a romantic rival to Bruce Wayne. Especially since everyone knows he becomes Two Face, the obvious assumption would be that he's hiding a dark, corrupt side to his character. Turns out... he isn't. He really was the great guy he seemed to be (at least until he was Driven to Villainy). Okay, he does psychologically torture one of the Joker's mentally unfit lackeys, but that was only because he was desperate to save his girlfriend's life.
- In My Best Friend's Wedding, Julianne falls in love with her best friend only to learn to her dismay that he's planning to marry a wealthy girl named Kimberly who he's only known for a short amount of time. Kimberly comes across as a sweet if somewhat ditzy girl, but it's obvious that she's going to be eventually exposed as the Romantic False Lead who either has a hidden mean streak or doesn't really love Michael the way Julianne loves him because that's the way it works in all romantic comedies... except that she isn't. She really is every bit as sweet and as deeply in love with Michael as she appears to be and loses her temper only when Julianne goes way too far with her petty determination to find or make up something about her that she can use to make her look bad to Michael, and Julianne concedes defeat to her in the end.
- In Black Swan, Lily at first comes off as a wild, reckless, and hard-drinking, but still nice and social girl who wants to be Nina's friend. However, she then has more and more moments that make her come off as a conniving Manipulative Bitch instead... except that's all in Nina's head, her paranoia and insecurities being projected onto Lily. Outside of Nina's delusions, Lily seems like a genuinely sweet, friendly person. She's also amazingly supportive towards Nina, congratulating her on her beautiful performance, and is genuinely panicked when she sees Nina's bleeding at the end of the film. Too bad Nina's insanity won't let her see that Lily's not a threat.
- Shows up in the crossover fanfic Stardust, where a great deal of the plot focuses on Twilight Sparkle earning the trust of the XCOM staff, and proving that she's not spying on or manipulating them — she just wants to make friends and get home, and is every bit as nice as she seems.
- In With This Ring Paragon!Orange Lantern to the Justice League. According to Wonder Woman, Orange Lantern had super-villain written all over him: no one is able to verify where he came from, he is literally powered by his own greed, refuses to tell anyone his name and tried to buy Alan Scott's lantern off Scott. Through a deal to get the lantern, OL works for them for a year and what she and the League finds out about him? That he's very compassionate, very diplomatic and proactive. Even when given the power of a Physical God and turned crazy, all he does is help the League and try to make his friends happy.
- In the Ever After High fic Dear Diary, Raven reads Princess Classic Apple's diary, which reveals her to be exactly as kind and appreciative of her friends as she is publicly.
- In A Brother's Price, Princess Trini suspects that Jerin Whistler (guest at the palace as reward for saving the life of her sister), is a jerk in disguise, as her late husband Keifer, who, too, was very handsome, was a jerk. She thinks Jerin is merely putting on an act, patiently playing with the children and so on, in the hopes to be considered as potential husband. At that point, the reader knows that Jerin really is a Friend to All Children, has no evil intentions whatsoever, and saved Odelia while mistaking her for a common soldier.
- Discworld has a few examples.
- Commander Vimes. Nobles assume (or just like to think) he's a jumped up copper who married his wife for money. Since he's a perspective character in several books, it's very clear that he loves his wife and hates the money.
- Vimes's subordinate Captain Carrot also has people wonder if his Incorruptible Pure Pureness isn't just a front (it isn't, to the point where it's actually quite annoying to some characters).
- Lord Vetinari, the Patrician of the city, often frustrates the ruling classes by honestly having no vices they can use to exploit him (although unlike Carrot, he's much more of a Magnificent Bastard, just not a selfish one).
- Jane Fairfax from Emma is an Older Than Radio example. She was just a Shrinking Violet well-known as a sweet and innocent person secretly trying to keep her secret engagement, well, secret. Too bad a nosy, charming, and manipulative heroine came and almost ruined it all by beginning to flirt with her fiance and asking him what he thought she was hiding, because of her Inferiority Superiority Complex. Said fiance felt "forced" to play along to keep the engagement a secret, began to give her whatever "leads" came to his mind, then to flirt back, then to toy with Jane's feelings. Guilty and disgusted, Jane took the very classy decision to try to break up with him and to resign herself to a life as a poor governess, but he finally went back to her.
- Mansfield Park has Fanny Price, in-universe. She refuses to marry the young, rich and charming Henry Crawford, causing him a heartbreak and robbing Sir Thomas Bertram, the baronet who brought her up since she was ten, from a lot of connections and honors, something she was expected to do as a thank you. Fanny (whose thoughts are conveyed by the narrator without comment) starts wondering if she is mean, willful and self-involved... but when reading what follows, it is very clear that she is just sane. Henry Crawford is a flirt who started a relationship with her engaged cousin, and she doesn't feel she should marry him to please him.
- John Cheever's short story "The Worm in the Apple" describes in great detail a family who is so sickeningly perfect that their jealous neighbors are utterly convinced that they have to be hiding some dark and horrible secret or that they will inevitably experience some terrible misfortune down the line. They never do.
- Elene from the Night Angel Trilogy is this trope personified. She is repeatedly shown to be a truly kindhearted soul, which is even more apparent when you consider the corruption and cruelty she grew up surrounded by.
- Aziraphale of Good Omens is so scrupulously honest on his tax return he's been audited five times in the belief that he's got to be hiding something.
- In an episode of Angel, Fred's parents come looking for her (Fred had been lost in another dimension for five years). They seem like the nicest, sweetest people you've ever seen, barring a couple moments when they whisper ominously to each other, and Fred freaks out and runs when she sees them. Turns out they really are that sweet. Fred panicked because she didn't want them to see her after she'd been traumatized, and their whispers were because they thought Angel and company were suspicious — which is a very fair point.
- On Castle, Beckett's future Romantic False Lead Detective Demming was introduced as a Nice Guy, then came under suspicion by the team that he was a Dirty Cop and the Killer of the Week. Turned out that not only did he have an alibi, it consisted of coaching an underprivileged youth basketball league.
- The people of the Alexandria Safe-Zone in The Walking Dead are this in the sense of being generally sane and nice to other people. Their story becomes a case of Break the Haughty, as it's revealed the only reason they haven't had to deal with any walkers is because a humongous basin was drawing in all the surrounding walkers, into one enormous mega-herd.
- Sefa from Merlin. Gwen imagines her to be a traitor bent on revenge who wants to destroy Camelot and hides it behind a sweet composure, like her old friend Morgana. It is quickly made painfully clear that she just innocently gave information to her father, not imagining to which extent he would want to harm Camelot. Her motivation was simply to help her beloved father get the respect he deserves, as she thinks everyone should, from a ruler who attacked their pacifistic people by mistake in the past. Even before knowing her father's plan, she feels sorry because the Queen (who, as far as she knows, would condemn her to death if she knew where she was born) was kind to her, encouraged her to pursue her crush, and allowed her to eat and sit at the Queen's table.
- Once Upon a Time:
- After they began watching, many viewers expected the poor Kathryn Nolan to be a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing version of the Royal Brat Abigail, the person she was before being under the curse. Actually, Abigail was just a Hate Sink (she simply wasn't thrilled at the idea of an arranged marriage to Prince Charming and chastized him for taking a bumpy road) Jerk with a Heart of Gold Broken Bird trying to cope with her at-the-time probable case of The Lost Lenore and Kathryn was just another version of her, made even nicer and a bit more unstable by the curse who ended up pulling I Want My Beloved to Be Happy hours after discovering that her husband may have cheated on her.
- Snow White was expected to be a Princess Classic. Here, she is a snarky and blunt Robin Hoodesque character who robs a girl and punches her fiance in her second appearance. She is just bitter because of her prejudice against politicians like them got her in exile and so poor and defenseless that she needs to steal to survive. Later, she owns that the queen never lied about her crime : she did cause her great harm. Unintentionally. When she was twelve. She ends up becoming the Big Good anyway.
- Justified has Billy St. Cyr, a silver-tongue preacher who arrives in Harlan and charms the local population with his preaching and snake handling. It is easy to suspect him of being a Sinister Minister who cons the poor out of their money and whose true motives might be even more evil. However, he truly believes in what he preaches and only accepts enough money in donations to keep his ministry going. He helps drug addicts stop using drugs and helps a prostitute regain her self respect and quit her former life. His only flaw is that he is a tad too fanatical in his beliefs and believes that God will never let any harm come to him. This leads to Boyd being able to talk him into handling a wild snake which kills him with its poison.
- Arrow has Tommy Merlyn. His last name, Always Second Best status and involvement in the Oliver-Laurel-Tommy love triangle led many fans to believe that he would either pull a Face–Heel Turn into or secretly be Merlyn the Archer, Green Arrow's archenemy. Then the Dark Archer appears and turns out to be Tommy's father Malcolm Merlyn. Tommy, meanwhile, remains a genuinely nice guy (one of the few in the series), even pulling a Heroic Sacrifice to save Laurel during the Season One Finale. His memory serves as Oliver's Morality Chain and path to Thou Shalt Not Kill.
- In The Old World of Darkness, the vampire clan Salubri are generally considered the "good" vampires. And they are. Their disciplines center on healing, they embrace few progeny, and their clan weakness limits them to feeding only from willing hosts. They were so openly virtuous that in the past, it was very easy for the up-in-coming clan Tremere to paint them as soul-stealing monsters in need of systematic extermination; most vampires were already suspicious of them to begin with. Surely no vampires could really be that good, right? Ironically, this ended up creating exactly the sort of vampires the Tremere painted them as, in the form of the Salubri antitribu - a group of violent extremists led by Adonai, one of the survivors, their clan weakness warped so they can only feed on the unwilling. (One of the themes of Clan Tremere is that everything they do blows up in their faces somehow.)
- In Undertale, Toriel is a seemingly benign and motherly figure who saves you from being killed by the first monster you encounter. From that point on she dotes on you, literally holding your hand through puzzles and even baking you a pie, though she hastily changes the subject if you ask her to show you the way out. It's easy for players to assume this is a facade masking underlying evil... but in the end, she's completely sincere. Her reluctance to let you leave is born out of a genuine concern that you'll die, but she ultimately decides to let you go.
- An inverse example is seen in Injustice: Gods Among Us, when the heroes from the main universe meet the Injustice verse Lex Luthor, especially Cyborg. Luthor ends up pulling a Heroic Sacrifice trying to take out Superman, and gave his fortune to Batman, with whom he had started the Insurgency with to put an end to Superman's Regime. Cyborg looks on in sadness at his grave in the end.
- Although from Injustice verse Superman's point of view, Luthor's betrayal could be seen as a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
- From Mass Effect, Shepard meets Liara T'Soni, an intelligent scientist and Matriarch Benezia's daughter. After recruiting her, everyone expects her to be a spy working for her mother to sabotage Shepard's attempts to stop her Evil Plan. She acts like a shy, nerdy loner who is trying to make friends, but...she really is an awkward girl who wants to befriend everybody. She actually provides help against her mother and proves to be Good All Along. Overall, she becomes one of Shepard's best and most consistently loyal friends in the series.
- Pony Island: The Hopeless Soul may be an example- there are moments where he acts suspiciously (he does a brief, unsettling laugh during your second chat with him, after beating Azazel),and the daemons lead you to believe that he's manipulating you. In a hidden scene, Lucifer will even imply that he is the Hopeless Soul. But even when the Soul turns out to be the True Final Boss, he's just trying to satisfy the player's completionist urges, and never really does anything incriminating or malevolent.
- Criminal Case: Mysteries of the Past has Father Donovan, a kindly Irish priest who takes Irish immigrants under his wing and helps settle in Concordia by finding jobs for them. Then, the Concordian Flying Squad discover an exploitation scheme where those immigrants are pretty much sold into slavery, and it's all but assumed that Donovan is behind this. However, he turns out to be innocent, and he was eventually murdered when he tried to confront the true mastermind.
- Ace Attorney:
- The character Colias Paeleno from the final case of Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth cooperates in nearly every way that they can with your investigation of crime scenes, a behavior which the franchise generally uses for guilty parties. Additionally, they have animations which lend themselves really well to a Villainous Breakdown. In the end, it turns out that it was a Red Herring: the developers were using expectations from the player, and the person really is just that helpful, which may be a first for the franchise.
- Iris from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations surely seems nice, polite and innocent. She also has a secret connected with Phoenix's past and generally looks like textbook example of Bitch in Sheep's Clothing. Nope! Nice Girl all along. In a double whammy she's also this in Phoenix's backstory. The reason Phoenix insisted that Dahlia Hawthorne cannot be possibly evil was because the girl he was dating at the time was Iris, not Dahlia. And while Dahlia hated his guts and tried to kill him, Iris really loved him just like he insisted.
- Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney introduces Klavier Gavin as the new prosecutor. Given that every single previous prosecutor in this series has started out as an arrogant Amoral Attorney at best and turned out to be murderous at worst, you'll naturally expect him to be hiding something rotten underneath his charming and friendly exterior, especially considering that you've just seen his older brother be exposed as a murderous Bitch in Sheep's Clothing. This appears to be confirmed when you learn that he had a hand in stripping Phoenix of his badge. However, it turns out that Klavier really is a genuinely kind and decent person who initially didn't know of his brother's true nature, suffered from massive guilt about his role in Phoenix's disbarment, and is willing to turn against his own bandmates and brother to see justice done.
- After Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors revealed its most outwardly kind and innocent character (June/Akane) to be the cold, calculating mastermind Zero, many players expected its sequel Virtue's Last Reward to do a similar reveal with Luna who seems too sweet and unfailingly loyal to the protagonist to be true but it turned out that while Luna does have several big secrets of her own, she really is every bit as nice as she seems to be and the only character who will never betray the protagonist.
- Usami/Monomi from Super Dangan Ronpa 2 acts very kindhearted and gentle and appears to just want everyone to get along. It turns out that this wasn't an act, though the characters spend most of the game being openly suspicious of her to the point where they don't give her the time of day, since they're so sure that she's going to betray them and is working with Monokuma. Many players most likely shared this feeling.
- In Re Alistair, Merui mentions that even nice guys can act like jerks online in regards to Shiro being one of the three boys who could potentially be Alistair. Additionally, playing Shiro's route has you see him acting uncharacteristically hostile towards Derek in one scene when Merui isn't around. Of course, since he's listed on this page, you know he's not actually Alistair and has a completely understandable reason to not be friendly towards Derek. In fact, he's Merui's online friend FionaWings who rightly suspects Derek of being Alistair.
- xkcd presents Fred Rogers as a Sheep in Sheep's Clothing. It announces that a recording was found of him arguing with his wife. He acknowledges that he is sometimes angry at her, then tells her he is glad to have her!
- Princess Marie from Season 15 of Survivor: Fan Characters. Many characters and readers suspected her of being another Bonnie, especially after some comments from her that seemed just a bit too shady to fit with her seeming sweet girl nature, but her dubious explanation that she's just under a curse that causes her statements to sound more passive-aggressive than they should be turns out to be completely true.
- Lizzie from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries imagines Bing Lee as a sexist Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, because her Stage Mom tries to throw her daughters at him and she thinks he will take advantage of it and his social standing to manipulate her sweet, idealistic sister. He is actually a Nice Guy Sickeningly Sweetheart Knight in Shining Armor with two Token Evil Teammates, one of which isn't so bad. When he leaves, those who read the book know that his actions were motivated only by the impression that Jane didn't reciprocate his feelings.
- In Noob, Sparadrap is a genuine Kindhearted Simpleton and displays the kindhearted part in front of both allies and enemies. This has lead an enemy character appearing in the webseries and comic, who's also a regular trigger of Sparadrap's Invincible Incompetent tendencies, to suspect that his attitude is actually Obfuscating Stupidity.
- Happens often in the WMG section of this very site. When we don't know who is the Big Bad of a movie or series, we suspect nice people. For example, in the WMG page for Zootopia, we suspected Clawhauser to be hiding it behind a Nice Guy facade. We were Jossed - turned out he is as nice as he seems.
- In W.I.T.C.H., Will's would-be stepmother is not Nerissa in disguise. Just a genuinely nice person who fell in love with her father after he and he mother divorced. Granted, her name sounded a lot like Nerissa's, but she puts up with her stepdaughter's accusations of being an evil witch and lying about her name very well.
- The Simpsons:
- In the first "Treehouse of Horror" episode, mankind is visited by aliens in a deliberate parody of the classic The Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man". Like in the original story, the aliens are suspiciously nice, but only Lisa is skeptical. Later, when the family is brought aboard the alien ship, Lisa discovers horrifying evidence that the aliens plan to eat her family (like in the original story). Except... they weren't. It was all a huge misunderstanding on Lisa's part, and the aliens are so angry at being accused that they leave the family.
- "Summer of 4-Feet-2" has the Simpson family go on summer vacation up the coast, staying in a seaside town where all the kids dress as Generation-X neo-hippies, acting lazy and indifferent but generally being "cool." Both Bart and Lisa start to suspect that these kids are not the innocent dolts they make themselves appear to be...and when Lisa gives herself a "cool" makeover in order to fit in with them (unfairly portraying her brother as a Nerd in the process), Bart resolves to prove to her new friends that Lisa is and always has been far more of a loser than he is, exposing the kids' bigotry and turning them against Lisa and resulting in her humiliation. And the plan goes off without a hitch...except that, no, the slacker kids really are as simplemindedly tolerant as they appear, and accept Lisa as a friend because of her differences, even if they do secretly think they are weird.
- Asami Sato in The Legend of Korra seems too good to be true in her first appearance, as after a Crash-Into Hello Meet Cute with one of the male protagonists, she immediately offers to sponsor him and his brother with her father's vast wealth. Many fans immediately suspected she would turn out to be a Rich Bitch, and it was also quickly theorized that she was really an Equalist spy. While this was how her character was original envisioned, in the actual show Asami turns out to be Spoiled Sweet and just as good of a person as she appears (and, in fact, becomes Korra's endgame love interest). There's also a Red Herring in her appearance, as she looks like a Femme Fatale with heavy makeup and wears red and black, but she's really just a case of Raven Hair, Ivory Skin wearing the favored colors of her father's culture.
- In Fish Hooks, Angela, in her debut episode, begins dating Oscar. Thing is, they're also debate team rivals, and Oscar soon begins suspecting that she is going behind his back and trying to sabotage his debate when he notices her sneaking around and taking photographs. It turns out that she is an avid scrapbooker and really does enjoy their time together. They leave the debate as a couple.
- Transformers Prime: Many of Team Prime suspected that the arrival of Smokescreen was too good to be true, mostly due having problems with spies like Makeshift in the past. Not until he faces down Starscream in his Apex Armor with the Phase Shifter do they realize that he's not a Decepticon spy.
- Dan Vs.: In "The Neighbors", Dan starts to get suspicious because his new neighbors are too nice. Even when he's mean to them. He suspects they're cannibals trying to eat him. They're not. They're really that nice... until Dan tells them about his preemptive revenge schemes against them (after bonding with them over similarities) and they decide to move to somewhere else.
- The Falaise castle in Normandy has an interactive tour guide where images of historical characters who owned the castle are projected on a wall to tell you the museum's version of their story. Almost all of them try to justify what they did (but they ultimately fail), from the last ones, like Alienor of Aquitaine (who here tries to claim that she believes everything that she caused happened Because Destiny Says So and because her family was money-crazy, but later gives up on the pretense and relishes in being The Vamp and an Evil Matriarch) and Emperess Matilda (this incarnation introduces herself as the only competent and sane member of the family but shows a terrifying Lack of Empathy because she is an Evil Overlord) to the first ones, William the Cute and Psycho Boisterous Bruiser and William's son The Resenter with No Sympathy. Then comes the matriarch of the family, Matilda of Flandres, who quietly explains how she ruled in the place of her husband in Normandy. She tells you how she disliked war, prefered to help the Church, and how guilty she felt when her marriage was declared invalid. And just when you expect a delicious, terrifying twist, this last comment comes :
- Mister Rogers is quite possibly the most fondly beloved example of this trope. He is considered such a pure and beloved childhood icon that even 4Chan will shoot you down in a maelstrom of fire if you so much as insult him, and not even the widely believed (though very false) rumor that he was a US Marine with 150 confirmed kills had any effect on his popularity or image at all.
- Stated verbatim by Winston Churchill about Clement Atlee. Possible Trope Namer (or at least Trope Codifier).