You're freaking people out! Adrian Monk:
No, he'll just think we're in love. Natalie Teeger:
You don't look like you're in love! You look like the victim of an industrial accident!
, "Mr. Monk Goes to the Office"
Those characters that never show any emotion
? Or, if they do show emotion, it's always anger and/or despondency
? Yeah, every single one of them was at one point told to "cheer up a little". The result? Horrible. It can range from merely discomforting to downright Squick
, as they just don't get it. Expect more or less horrified reaction from their friends. Sometimes appears alongside Ha Ha Ha No
when they're especially not buying it.
This trope is always played for laughs. And no, no amount of Genre Savviness
will protect you from it. Not to be confused with Stepford Smiler
. May be the result of Finger-Forced Smile
. Compare Slasher Smile
, for when the smile goes from merely creepy to horrific. See also Technically a Smile
. Contrast When She Smiles
, where a smile is especially nice for a character.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- You definitely wouldn't like to meet Kitano from Angel Densetsu in real life, when he's smiling.
- Near from Death Note here◊
- Kyo No Go No Ni has a chapter about trying to get a girl to smile. The characters regret it.
- The first of the Full Metal Panic!! Light Novels describes Sousuke's attempt at smiling for a student picture as making him look like he's suffering from facial neuralgia. The effort as depicted in the anime series looks similarly painful.
- In Darker Than Black, Contractors tend to have lessened emotions. When the Emotionless Girl companion of the main character wants to get emotions across she puts her fingers to the corners of her mouth to◊ "make" herself smile. This differs from most of the examples because of the specific Emotionless Girl trope appeal... this was considered adorable by fans instead. July makes himself smile this way too. It's not as cute. It is, however, hilarious.
- Natsuki's 'smile◊' in Minami-ke. Hilarity Ensues when he tries to do it — plus follow a few other reasonable instructions completely literally — while asking a favour of the Minamis.
- Ichi's "smile" from Ichi the Killer. Is it pathetic? Or creepy? You decide.
- Sawako's earlier attempts at smiling in Kimi ni Todoke. Her innately creepy laughter does not help matters.
- Naka Kaburagi from Nosatsu Junkie wants to be a model, but her smiling face makes her look like a criminal.
- In InuYasha, Sesshomaru's expressions normally run the gamut from happy (read: completely impassive) to furious (read: slight frown). He's only shown (in current memory) fully smiling exactly once. And when he does it is a thing of beauty to the viewers. But, given his normal disposition, his retainer, Jaken has a slowly-building panic attack over it, eventually begging Sesshomaru to "go ahead and beat me, but please stop smiling!"
- In general Amu from Shugo Chara! is capable of smiling normally, but in her "cool and spicy" mode at school when attempting to be friendly to others she has a threateningly disturbing smile...really.
- Akira's friend Akuru Nakatani is never shown smiling. She constantly looks mildly peeved, though she's not necessarily angry. When Akuru says she smiles now and then, The Un-Smile is what Akira imagines. (As for what it really looks like? Presumably nice.)
- Chihaya Kisaragi in The iDOLM@STER when the producer tells her to smile, though we don't see it. Oddly enough, she smiles in other episodes, though it's a rare sight.
- Muteki Kanban Musume has Tomoka Kayahara who somehow fulfils both this and When She Smiles. When enjoying a bowl of her favourite ramen, Kayahara-sensei has a sparkly bishojo smile. Otherwise her Unsmile is the kind of thing that lingers in your nightmares.
- Some minor examples are when Megumi, Miki and Makiko (Miki's mother) try to fake a smile for a contest.
- Every smile Christopher Shouldered from Baccano! gives is unnerving, regardless of the intent behind it. This can be blamed on his maw of sharklike teeth.
- Sub-Audio stars a stoic Huge Schoolgirl that's mistaken for badass just because she doesn't/can't smile when the situation calls for it (girl talk, a guy offering tissues, etc.,) which really gets to her more than anyone realizes. It takes a "session" with her Cute Shotaro Boy brother to cheer her up where despite a subtle, pleasant smile that comes naturally, her forced smile results in this trope and her brother advises her to stick to being stoic.
- Here's one from Bleach: Äs Nödt's horrifying un-smile, coming after (s?)he steals Byakuya's Bankai. It's next to no wonder that their Fan Nickname is "As Troll"
- Kensei in the Turn Back the Pendulum Arc, when trying to comfort a young Shuuhei Hisagi. He ended up looking a lot like an alligator.
- In Axis Powers Hetalia, at one point the very grumpy Switzerland muses that he doesn't seem to have been smiling much, as of late. When he meets Liechtenstein for breakfast, he tries to give her a smile. It comes out very strained.
- Germany is also this. He tries to smile and be friendly like the locals when visiting Italy. It ends up scaring the hell out of them.
- In Gintama, Saitou Shimaru, hoping to overcome his shyness, tries smiling after Gintoki says that it'll make him seem more approachable. It makes everyone think he wants to murder them instead.
- China Kousaka in Gundam Build Fighters cannot smile without a genuine reason to. Any attempt to do so otherwise results in this.
- When Kohina of Gugure! Kokkuri-san tries smiling, her eyes and mouth slide around her face, sometimes falling off. When she manages a genuine smile, however...
- During Kurt Busiek's run on The Avengers, they become a UN organization, and have to get new photo IDs to go with the change of status. Vision's attempt to smile for his photo at Wasp's urging is priceless.
- The Smiler from Transmetropolitan. He spends most of the series showing his teeth, but The Unsmile really comes to a point of fracture in the finale where at one point his face is split in two separate panels, one showing a perfect smile and one a pair of eyes clearly set on murder.
Films — Animation
- In Beauty and the Beast, when Lumiere tries to get the Beast to smile for his date with Belle, he grins so that all his fangs stick out.◊ It's so bad that Mrs. Potts immediately tells him not to scare Belle.
- Corpse Bride: Mr. and Mrs. Everglot are barely seen smiling throughout the entire movie. However, when they meet the Van Dorts for the first time, Mrs. Everglot quietly encourages her husband to smile. After a few moments of struggling, he ends up with a part-grimace, part-look-of-unadulterated-pain.
- Yzma from The Emperor's New Groove does one in the beginning of the film that's part this, part Slasher Smile as she reassures Kuzco that she has no hard feelings about being fired. None whatsoever.
- In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Judge Doom is interrogating some men at a bar for Rogers whereabouts. One of the barmen plays a joke on him, and everyone except Doom has a good laugh. Judge Doom stares at them for a few seconds, then smiles, causing everyone else to stop laughing.
Films — Live-Action
- Isaac Asimov's The Caves of Steel. Elijah Baley asks R. (Robot) Daneel Olivaw if he can smile.
R. Daneel smiled. The gesture was sudden and surprising. His lips curled back and the skin about either end folded. Only the mouth smiled, however. The rest of the robot's face was untouched.
Baley shook his head. "Don't bother, R. Daneel. It doesn't do a thing for you."
- He is trained to chuckle several millennia later in Forward the Foundation. And it took what appears to be weeks of coaching to actually make it seem genuine.
- In The Wheel of Time they mention that Mazrim Taim never smiles... although he has a kind of half-smile that is ALMOST but not-quite one.
- In The Silver Chair, when Eustace, Jill, and Puddleglum were trying to think of a way to leave Harfang without being caught, part of the idea was to put them off their guard by pretending that they love being there and are looking forward to the Autumn Feast. To this end, Puddleglum tells them they've got to be "gay". During his demonstration, "he assumed a ghastly grin."
- Otto Chriek tries to photograph Nobby Nobbs in The Truth:
Otto: Smile, please.
Nobby: I am smilin'.
Otto: Stop smiling, please.
- Rincewind often does this intentionally:
He had put a lot of thought into that grin. It was the sort of grin people use when they stare at your left ear and tell you in an urgent tone of voice that they are being spied on by secret agents from the next galaxy. It was not a grin to inspire confidence. More horrible grins had probably been seen, but only on the sort of grinner that is orange with black stripes, has a long tail and hangs around in jungles looking for victims to grin at.
- In Reaper Man, Ludmilla Cake (a werewolf) is described as having "the bright, crystalline smile perfected by people who had long ago learned not to let their feelings show."
- Erik in The Phantom of the Opera tries to smile near the end, but his lips are so disfigured it comes out wrong.
- The Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Camera Obscura implies this, when the Doctor and Sabbath, his sometimes-antagonist, are interrupted during an argument that's getting a little violent. Knowing the kind of character that Sabbath is, and the fact he probably hasn't beamed sincerely in decades, and the fact the Doctor, possibly half his size, was just shoving him around, will allow you to appreciate the futility of their forcing smiles.
The station manager, a portly little man in wire rims, crept timidly from the office. ‘Everything all right, gentlemen?’ he asked, more hopefully than sternly.
Sabbath and the Doctor both beamed at him. The station master didn’t really find this a reassuring sight.
- Albreich in the Heralds of Valdemar is warned not to put on a false smile. He's scary enough when he's scowling.
- In Mortal Engines, Katherine Valentine thinks that Magnus Chrome's smile looks like someone who had read a book on how to smile but has never actually seen one in real life.
- British statesman Lord Chesterfield writes about this trope in Letters to His Son: "both men and women upon whom unkind nature has inflicted a surliness and ferocity of countenance, do at least all they can, though often without success, to soften and mitigate it; they affect 'douceur', and aim at smiles, though often in the attempt, like the Devil in Milton, they GRIN HORRIBLY A GHASTLY SMILE." (letter 189)
- Johannes Cabal the Necromancer has the title character putting his anti-smile to good use in his demonic carnival.
- Les Misérables describes the smiles of Inspector Javert as being rare, quick and really unnerving, more like a predator's snarl than an expression of pleasure: "Javert, serious, was a watchdog; when he laughed, he was a tiger."
- In the Paradox Trilogy, Creepy Child Ren's face is usually blank and emotionless. She only smiles on a couple of occasions, and Devi describes it as horrifying and painful to look at.
- In Ressha Sentai Tokkyuger we have Sixth Ranger Akira Nijino sporting this smile◊.
- A fantastically memorable one occurs in an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, where Ray tries to get his equally (if not more-so) mopey and pessimistic cousin, Gerard, to smile. The result is hilariously terrifying.
- In The Addams Family original series, Lurch's attempts at smiling were only out-creepied by his attempts at flirtation.
- The Big Bang Theory, episode "The Griffin Equivalency": Sheldon, both with and without teeth. But don't take our word for it, see the page picture.
- In one episode of Black Books, Manny attempts to turn the small secondhand bookshop into a chain bookstore and encourages Bernard to smile, so as to appear more friendly and approachable to customers.
Manny: A bit more - wider - wider...
(Bernard is pulling a horrific face.)
Manny: No, that looks nasty...
- On Friends, Chandler has a nice smile, but whenever he gets his picture taken it turns into a grimace.
- How I Met Your Mother: The Captain. Marshall eventually figures out what it is about the captain that creeps them out: even when he smiles, his eyes seem completely serious and empty.
- Monk does this in one episode, because he's being watched by a killer who can read lips.
- Bull on Night Court:
Random woman: He bared his teeth at me!
- On Reba, Van's "charming smile", which he believes is warm and inviting, is anything but.
- In the Granada Sherlock Holmes series, Jeremy Brett's Holmes rarely grins at all. Whenever a situation calls on him to smile, Brett twitches his mouth muscles for a hair of a second. "A" for effort, Holmes.
- Like the canonical Holmes, however, Brett is capable of a genuine smile. Except when he does, it usually bodes badly for somebody.
- In one episode near the beginning of Stargate SG-1, Teal'c tries to smile under duress. You will either wet yourself laughing or be very afraid.
- Whenever Data tries to smile on Star Trek: The Next Generation, he really shouldn't.◊
- Same goes for Seven of Nine of Star Trek: Voyager.
- In episode 4 of The IT Crowd season 3, Jen, upon becoming employee of the month, tries to improve Roy's service by telling him to smile more.
When you're upstairs, fiddling about with com-puters
, would it hurt to smile? Don't you realise what a difference that would make, hey? Come on, let's see a smile now. Come on. (Roy attempts to smile) Jen:
No, more warmth. Warmer. (Roy hesitantly tries to widen his smile) Jen:
No, you're just showing more teeth. That's not warmth. I would say that's more of a threatening look, actually. I'll tell you what, Roy. Keep at it; that's
- From Kaamelott: Léodagan almost never smiles, which is why Arthur & Co. can't recognise him in a painting. And when he does smile... they find it very creepy.
- From Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Due to his lack of lips, Odo's smiles look... odd to say the least.
- Russell Howard's Good News: "Every time Gordon Brown smiles, a fairy dies." (For context, see below in the Real Life folder.)
- Will Graham of Hannibal doesn't smile much, but when he does it's genuinely sweet - with the memorable exception of Roti during a stroke test. His lips curve upward, but it would have been less creepy if he'd burst into tears. Or thrown up. Or started screaming.
- Community - Abed, generally an emotional blank, formally greets his friends at his and Troy's housewarming party with a big toothy smile-thing. His friends are a bit startled.
- The Last of the Summer Wine character with the Ironic Nickname "Smiler" has occasionally been known to smile. It looks like his face has been twisted the wrong way.
- In this Pearls Before Swine strip, Rat's attempt at a "charming smile" doesn't go well.
- Beetle Bailey normally has no trouble smiling, but this appears once when he's depressed. The camp psychiatrist first tells him to smile, but seeing the result asks him to go back to looking sad.
- In one very early Peanuts strip, Charlie Brown is trying to take Snoopy's picture, and is trying to convince him to smile. Snoopy eventually makes a really big smile, causing his owner to roll his eyes and say, "Okay, forget the smile..."
- Not from a character known for never smiling, but a scary-as-hell fake smile nonetheless: Seth from 9 Chickweed Lane, suddenly caught discussing sex around a group of children, responds with an "innocent smile" that looks like it was copypasted from SMILEDOG.
- Pretty much every character in this strip looks like some sort of horrifying deep-sea fish when they smile.
- A Calvin and Hobbes strip has Calvin's dad ordering him to smile for a photograph. He made a hideous face that was technically a smile, since his mouth was upturned.
- Calvin's done that a number of times for photos. One of them was a strip Bill Watterson said he laughed out loud at. Needless to say, these smiles are always fantastic.
- In On The Fastrack, Fistula's unsmile happens to be well-timed with a ringtone that sounds like glass breaking.
- In the Cabin Pressure episode "Rotterdam", the smile Carolyn puts on for the welcome address is described as "shark-like".
- In Kingdom Hearts, when Sora felt down, both Donald and Goofy forced him to smile. "Turn that frown upside down!" It...didn't work very well.
- Believe it or not, the infamous Final Fantasy X laughing scene was actually made for the lulz. The voice actors sound like they're doing a bad job, but it's intentional.
- Played straight after Operation Mi'hen. "Kimari practice smiling."
- Deadly Premonition: Agent Francis York Morgan is a nice enough guy, if extremely weird, but his smile is permanently caught somewhere between "electrocution victim" and "serial rapist."
- Mass Effect 2: Commander Shepard seems to have this effect during an infamous scene from Miranda's romance.
- Suikoden V has Sagiri, who was abducted by the assassin group Nether Gate as a child and trained to smile disarmingly all the time. Their logic was that a pleasantly-smiling girl would put their victims off-guard. It worked so well that, until the end of the game, she's incapable of doing anything but smiling.
- Sengoku Basara: You'd think that, him being a very pretty young man, it'd be nice to see Mori Motonari smiling for a change. It's not. Sure, it means he's happy, but the reason he's happy is probably because he's devised the perfect method to ruin your life.
- Henry from Fire Emblem Awakening has this as his "angry" expression. It's fitting, considering he's a Perpetual Smiler.
- Aristotle Means from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies frequently provides attempts at a toothy smile that look more like he's grimacing, baring his teeth and gums in a way Athena Cykes finds unsettling.
- In Filia's ending of Skullgirls, as Carol (formerly Painwheel) is introduced to her class she gives a smile so big and desperate it's frankly disturbing. Then again, goodness knows when she last genuinely smiled at all.
- From Questionable Content:
- This, and this El Goonish Shive comic.
- Lackadaisy Cats' Mordecai, when trying to do a "smouldering" look.
Mordecai: Am I doing it now?
Mordecai: Is this it?
Viktor: Maybe happier, little bit.
Mordecai: How is—
Viktor: NO. Vorse. Dark look like Valentino is different from dark look like, ehh, I vill like to murder your family... vith ice pick, probably.
- Basic Instructions offers us some... basic instructions on how to make a fake smile look genuine. Panels 1 and 3 look especially ridiculous.
Your hide will make a fine poncho!
- Bloody Urban: Murray tries smiling for a change with horrifying results.
- In Blip, a very androgynous stranger on the bus gives K a beaming smile. K panics, and gives a half-smirk in response. "Just smile back, smile back... Yeah, that's natural."
- Something Positive: Davan rarely looks happy, but maybe it's better that way...
- Three Panel Soul: "Giving someone a story to tell is easy. All it takes is a smile."
- Amber from Shortpacked! is told to smile for the customers. Her horrible grimace is, as Ethan sourly remarks, about how much smile they're paid for.
- Krom from Dark Legacy Comics doesn't smile often. He has a good reason.
- Florence, the anthropomorphic Bowman's Wolf in Freefall, has to be careful to smile without showing teeth to avoid doing one of these. Of course, sometimes she does want to...
- She's absolutely right when a nice, big smile makes people more civilized. They do not want things to be uncivilized.
- One of the advertisements for Our Little Adventure has Lenny, Angelika and Rocky each doing one for Julie who was complaining about them not smiling for the ad. When she sees these horrid smiles, she tells them it's okay to go back to frowning.
- From Concession, Joel.
- In Oglaf, anyone affected by the Funsnake's aura gets a wide-eyed, demented grin.
- Okay, that's the opposite of a smile.
- Bad Machinery: The protagonists meet Don Gravy in the hospital, after he has been driven mad by something:
Linton: At least he's smiling.
Lottie: That's not a smile, Linton. That's a face you get when someone says "Cheese"... then takes two minutes to work out how to use the camera. That HURTS.
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Jones makes a smile that we never get to see but leaves Antimony traumatized.
- Precocious: Used to great effect here.
- JL8: Poor Bruce.◊
- In Drowtales, Emotionless Girl Naal makes one, though the smile itself isn't actually seen.
: Together, no one can stop us! [Beat] Kiel
: That's where you're supposed to grin and shout enthusiastically with me. Naal
: No one can stop us. Kiel
: That was soo weak! Plus that grin was creepy. Naal
- Fun fact: You can subliminally tell if someone is faking by their eyes, not their mouth. In a real smile, the eyebrows lower and the cheeks will rise, narrowing the edge of the eye — some people (especially people with wrinkles) get "crow's feet" at their eyes if it's real. This is also why deceptive characters in fiction are often described as having smiles that do not reach their eyes.
- Seems to be standard for official pictures of the female members of the United States House and Senate.
- HP Lovecraft
- Gordon Brown... he had a perfectly respectable "dour Scot" thing going on, but then his PR people must have decided he wasn't warm enough, because he suddenly started doing THIS all the time. (Shudder)
- Alan Davies summarized Gordon Brown smile's creepiness by saying "you can see him DECIDE to smile, which really ruins any smile."
- Richard Nixon. The man was an extreme introvert, and absolutely hated dealing with people on a personal level. It showed: whatever his mouth was doing, those two beady little ferret-eyes were always lurking right above it.
- Chilean President Sebastián Pińera◊.
- The head sculptures of Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736-1783) contain a fine example.
- Part of being Miss California is having a winning smile, So why does Carrie Prejean◊ not have one?
- This trope is ubiquitous among pageant girls. Disturbingly so.
- Especially the children.
- You can't smile when you're not happy.
- There is something sincerely disturbing about Canadian politician Michael Ignatieff's smile◊.
- Nazi Minister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment Joseph Goebbels. Eep.◊
- Of course, knowing who he is adds to the creepiness, but still...
- Some people's natural smiles are closed-mouth. At some point, it is inevitable that a photographer will order them to "really" smile and show their teeth. The end result is a fake grin that would do Shere Khan proud.
- This can happen fairly frequently in family photographs, when trying to hold the smile for several snaps can become a strain, and saying "cheese" does nothing for the eyes. Professional photographers will try to get the group to laugh in order to avert this.
- All four guys in this photo◊, which the possible exception of Gaddafi. note
- People with Bell's Palsy or facial paralysis from birth often feel this way about themselves so when they're told to smile in pictures, their fake smiles look far different from their natural smiles to an almost jarring effect.
- Ted Bundy's smile isn't too bad - but then you look at his eyes◊...