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. 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.
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 runs 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 has a threateningly disturbing smile...really.
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.
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 can not smile without a genuine reason to. Any attempt to do so otherwise results in this.
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.
Fun was had at the end of the Pegasus arc in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series where Kaiba is genuinely smiling when his Morality Pet little brother is freed and they go home. The parody has everyone stating that this is creepy as hell.
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.
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.
Addams Family Values: After being forced to watch animated Disney movies for the better part of the day, Wednesday was asked to smile, and she did...
Amanda: She's scaring me!
Happens in Hancock, where he makes a weird grimace-like smile when asked to for a fan, which was good for a laugh. Then he does the exact same thing to a camera, and it goes into hilarious.
In La Femme Nikita, Nikita does an awkward grimace in the mirror when told to smile.
One Buster Keaton comedy, Go West (1925), has Buster (who's not called "The Great Stone Face" for nothing) being told to smile at gunpoint. He reluctantly pushes up the corners of his mouth with his fingers.
Alien Orphan in The Specials. Subverted in that he's not averse to smiling; he just hasn't quite got it down yet.
Displayed by Smith in The Matrix Revolutions, right after he absorbs the Oracle.
As the Theater section below mentions, Malvolio (the pompous and priggish head servant in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night) is often played this way. In Trevor Nunn's movie of it, Nigel Hawthorne does an excellent version of a forced smile by a man not given to smiling.
Played humorously in Warm Bodies. A zombie smiling, even if it is established that he's friendly, is as creepy as you'd expect.
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."
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)
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."
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.
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.
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.
Jen: 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 your homework.
As this is part of Jen's increasingly Drunk with Power smugness as a result of becoming employee of the month, Roy gets his own back when Jen moments later learns that she will be forced to give a speech in front of the whole company about the IT department — something she has absolutely no knowledge about. Upon delivering this news, Roy has a genuinely big, genuinely happy smile on his face.
Roy:(pointing) How's that?
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.
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.
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..."
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.
As does Marigold when compensating for being told that it was impossible to resist the wishes of her sadface. Really, very few significant characters with teeth have gone without an UnSmile (even Marten used an UnSmile at least once, though ironically).
Mordecai: Am I doing it now? Viktor: No. 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.
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.
Ren, of Ren and Stimpy, gets one of these after donning the Happy Helmet in "Stimpy's Invention".
The cartoon is the poster child of Deranged Animation, so when he smiles... FACES SHOULD NOT BEND THAT WAY!
Raven from Teen Titans is a Perpetual Frowner. The one time she tried to force herself to smile, it was... ugly; the sounds of previously unused facial muscles stretching could clearly be heard as she struggled to pull her lips into position. However, there have been instances where she genuinely smiled and it wasn't so bad.
There's also Robin forcing a smile on his "date" with Kitten. This would be the one that made a noise like bones cracking.
Has happened at least twice with Mr. Burns on The Simpsons. First was when he was running for mayor, and he's being shown an artists rendition of his political ad where he's standing tall on a mountain top. He asks "Why are my teeth showing like that?!" to which his advisor responds "Because you're smiling!" Mr. Burns commends him for producing the sort of trickery they were being paid for. Later he actually smiles, and it causes him physical pain to do so.
In another episode he bets his fortune to the Rich Texan over who can get a photo with a kid smiling. He loses because he is so creepy when smiling that all the town's children (and Otto) cry when standing next to him.
Moe, beaten down into misanthropy by a hard life, rarely tries to smile, and it always looks forced, desperate and a little creepy when does.
Rex Banner, the no-nonsense police officer trusted with keeping Springfield dry when it briefly enacted Prohibition. He tries to laugh at some point, but he just can't bring himself to do so.
Lemongrab of Adventure Time does this in "Too Young". A perpetually bitter, angry sourpuss, he assumes that a harmless prank was some kind of personal attack. Once he was informed that it was a prank, he tries to understand what a prank is. Not entirely grasping the concept of a joke, he smiles a very quick, little goofy smile... then starts Laughing Mad in a Ha Ha Ha No sort of fashion. Then he sends everyone in the room to the dungeon. (In later episodes, he shown smiling rather cutely when he is actually genuinely happy.)
Happens in Time Squad when the characters have to get Leonardo Da Vinci to paint Mona Lisa's portrait. He encourages her to smile, but it turns out she has really bad teeth.
The "Super Evil" episode of Making Fiends has Vendetta attempting to smile like Charlotte after an evil magazine quiz they took rated Charlotte as more evil. After several pained struggles, she finally manages a smile. A Slasher Smile.
Interestingly, she can give a real smile, after she practices a bit. She used a charming smile on a hapless party goer later in the evening, to great effect. Then she went on a tangent about how she and the partygoer would rule the world (in typical Azula style), which ruined the whole effect, and sent the poor guy running for the hills.
The second season episode "City of Walls and Secrets" brings you Joo Dee, and her constant pained grimace. It starts off as merely unsettling, but as the episode goes on, it only gets worse. And then right at the end of the episode, the Gaang meets a second Joo Dee, who has the exact same smile.
A later episode shows that there are multiple Joo Dees, each Brainwashed and Crazy, and each making the same creepy smile.
Pinky and the Brain: The Brain's smile, at least in one episode. A character actually identifies him his best-effort smile.
While teaching her Grunkle Stan to be more attractive to women in the Gravity Falls episode "Dipper vs. Manliness", Mabel tells him to smile. The result sends Man Child Soos fleeing in terror.
In one episode of South Park, Kyle discovers that the girls have voted him the ugliest boy in class and is now forced to sit with the other ugly kids during lunch. When he attempts to stir morale up and encourages one of the kids to smile, the result he gets isn't exactly what he was hoping for.
Octus/Newton does this at the end of the third episode of Sym-Bionic Titan. Also Lance's driver's license photo.
The Green Beetle pulls one off when trying to endear himself to The Team to gain their trust. It doesn't go so well.◊ What really makes it creepy is that he isn't smiling physically; if you watch closely, he's using his shapeshifting powers to rearrange his face into the shape of a smile.
Mark Chang: What's with the face? It's happy yet at the same time disturbing...
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.
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)
AlanDavies summarized the 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.
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 Left to right: President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia, President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen, Brother Leader Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.
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.