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The Polly Anna

"Although I've been mishandled by a demon, I'm determined to remain optimistic, no matter what!"
Polly "Pollyanna" Whittier, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, vol 1 issue 2

For the book this archetype is named for, see Pollyanna

A Blithe Spirit character, usually but not always female, who undergoes various hardships, losing almost everything she holds dear, and yet seems never to lose her sunny disposition. Think Happy Thoughts may be how she does this.

When this character is played for drama (which usually entails a Break the Cutie situation), you sometimes get the feeling she's conducting some serious repression in order to continue functioning, and we are likely to see her break down; on the other hand, her infinite patience and good humor may give her away as an All-Loving Hero. If she's a member of a group that The Hero appeals to for help, count on her being the Least Is First.

When she's played for laughs, the fates the character endures are too horrendous to actually happen in real life, and yet she's too stupid to realize how God-awful her situation is and how miserable she ought to be; it seems as though the whole universe is out to Break the Cutie, and failing. (Although sometimes they just need a Rant Inducing Slight.)

The Trope Namer is the title character of Eleanor Porter's 1913 novel Pollyanna, who was made famous in the 1960 Walt Disney movie, and was mocked by Alan Moore in the aforementioned throwaway joke in the pages of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. However, it was popularized over a century earlier by Dr. Pangloss from the novel (and later Broadway musical) Candide, who is always explaining why getting kidnapped by pirates or sold into slavery is ultimately for the best. Indeed, the adjective Panglossian has been in use since the 1800s.

Shows up a bit less nowadays, given that the current attitude is that a character's intelligence (As well as degree of "Cool"ness) is inversely proportional to their attitude. That is, the more and more negative their attitude, the more intelligent (and cool) the character is; conversely, the happier a character is, the stupider and more unrealistic is their mindset. Partly induced by works like House and Daria. This is probably a Cyclic Trope.

As you can see, often sexist in portrayal, since most of these characters are female. You see the occasional males, but they're often beaten down because men are supposed to be stoic and emotionless.

May be an unstoppable force of goodness and optimism if she's a Princess Classic. Both are likely to cheerfully say Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!. In a Four-Temperament Ensemble, this character is usually Sanguine.

Compare Genki Girl, who is excessively energetic.

Contrast Stepford Smiler where this trope is just a facade. Knight in Sour Armor for someone with a similar attitude but a lot more snark and pessimism. Polar opposite of The Eeyore and Broken Bird.

May overlap with Angst? What Angst?. Can lead to cases of Tastes Like Diabetes if extreme enough.


Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Fan Works 
  • Derpy Hooves in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic story Shadow Snark.
    Shadow Snark: You're pretty euphoric for someone who just learned they have no friends.
  • Memetic Bystander "Poor-chan" from Puella Magi Madoka Magica is typically portrayed by fandom as the comically extreme, oblivious version, who lives in a cardboard box and can't afford a computer for her classes, yet is always writing cheerful letters to her "Mother in Heaven".
  • Lavinia Gilden /Tansy Leefinch from the Hunger Games fanfiction Some Semblance of Meaning always tries to exhibit pure optimism... even though she's working as a mentor for District Twelve, sending two kids a year into the arena to face near-certain death. Over the course of the story, she does lose a bit of her Genki Girl attitude, but she still tries to look on the bright side.

    Newspaper Comics 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • While it's virtually impossible to have a Pollyanna-type character in a medium where people beat each other up all the time, this can surface when it comes to faces. There have been several instances of a face losing their title or getting beaten up only to be all smiles if they're in action the next week. A notable one was Eve Torres who lost her Divas Championship (her first reign) at the Fatal 4 Way pay-per-view in 2010. The next night on Raw, she was all smiles during her entrance and danced with the Great Khali despite facing the woman who took the title from her. (That attitude could have been because Eve knew that she lost her title in a four-Diva sudden death match.) Though Eve averted this when she lost the Divas title for a second time (this time to Brie Bella) back in 2011 due to the Bella Twins' "Twin Magic" - they had a backstage segment after the match and she was definitely a little upset.
  • Natalya's face persona slipped into this territory more than a few times. During her feud with Lay Cool in mid-to-late 2010, they started mocking her and claimed she'd inherited her dad's facial hair gene, complete with a photoshopped picture of Natalya with an Anvil beard. Nattie just laughed it off and also shook off all the jibes they got at her family. And when she lost her Divas title to Eve in 2011, she teamed with her the very next night on Raw and there was no tension between them whatsoever. Then after she lost her rematch to Eve, she saved her from a backstage attack.
  • Jillian Hall counts. Despite virtually everyone on the roster complaining about her Hollywood Tone-Deaf gimmick, every week or so Jillian would be out all smiles ready to sing for the audience again. This is especially glaring when you consider everything her character has gone through - losing her Divas' title two minutes after winning it, being dissed by every single celebrity guest host on Raw (including the Osbournes, Jewel, Wayne Brady), being one-upped by a conniving pair of twins for weeks and being on a losing streak for three years of her career.

    Theatre 
  • The Most Happy Fella: Herman is a continual victim of bullying, yet he's all smiles—until someone pushes him too far, and he makes a frown and a fist.

    Web Comics 

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 
  • Bobby of Diva Dirt is probably one of the most positive wrestling columnists in history. He has something good to say about nearly everything he reviews and if it's a bad show, he'll always try to find something positive in it. Though he did momentarily snap when he found out NXT Redemption was being cancelled. Cryssi seems to have embraced this attitude since around mid-2011.
  • In Human Centipede: The Musical, Steve retains his cheerful demeanor even when he wakes up tied to a bed and finds out that he’ll be part of a human centipede.
  • What Pollyanna calls "the glad game" and others call "counting their blessings" is a coping mechanism that Felix Clay calls "trivializing adversity" in Cracked's 4 Ways We Don't Realize We Suck at Coping With Adversity.
  • Whistler and Carribean Splash from Ask King Sombra.


Pet the DogHappiness TropesPooled Funds
Nature Adores a VirginPurity PersonifiedPrincess Classic
Ms. FanserviceDouble StandardRape as Drama
Politically Incorrect VillainCharacters as DevicePompous Political Pundit
Pet the DogIdealism TropesThe Power of Friendship
Paper TalismanImageSource/Anime & MangaShovel Strike

alternative title(s): Pollyanna
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