Took a Level in Cheerfulness

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/3084fc2dc266a3a61ae45e2810492b1f.jpg
Look closely. She goes from fearing her powers (distressed) in the first panel to fully accepting them (happy) in the last.

The world can seem like such a joyless, gray, dark place, empty of hope, where dreams are ephemeral lifelines, where joy and passion seem pointless and fake, and pain is the only thing that's authentic. Yet, sometimes, meeting the right person, witnessing the right moment, can teach one that there's more to life than suffering—can teach one to smile again. This doesn't mean that they've acquired better morals, or even that they gained hope: they may instead be Conditioned to Accept Horror, stop worrying, and love the bomb.

The character, either a Broken Bird, an Ice Queen, a Shrinking Violet, The Stoic or any other kind of less cheerful character, becomes more cheerful over time. Can be due to Character Development, or a Heel–Face Turn.

Compare Defrosting Ice Queen and Took a Level in Kindness. Lots of Love Redeems stories fall under this trope. The Power of Friendship, The Power of Love and The Power of Trust may be involved, in that the character may feel the need to reciprocate those gifts.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Lutecia Alpine is an Emotionless Girl in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS but falls squarely into the Genki Girl category by the time of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid, thanks to having been removed from control of the evil Dr. Jail Scaglietti and reunited with her adoring mother Megane.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Meredy started out as a serious and angry child who rarely showed emotions. After the Time Skip, she has become more cheerful and relaxed.
    • Juvia went from gloomy in her debut to cheerful after joining the titular guild.
    • Also Erza Scarlett herself as she showed more of her softer side, especially after the Tower of Heaven arc.
  • Siren/Ellen from Suite Pretty Cure ♪ started out as cold and hostile towards Hummy, however after her Heel–Face Turn as Cure Beat, which resulted her to be trapped in her human form, she has become a Genki Girl.
  • Ai Haibara from Detective Conan was raised and Forced into Evil by The Syndicate, but managing to from them and being influenced by newfound friends like her Parental Substitute Hiroshi Agasa, Conan Edogawa and Ran Mouri has begun to help her heal. She's not likely to become a Genki Girl in a long time, but she has stopped to wish for death and is now able to live the normal life she never had...
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!:
  • Hinata from Naruto notes in The Last: Naruto the Movie movie that her sister Hanabi has changed since Neji's death. What brought on the change is unknown, but Hanabi acts more childish and outgoing now than she did before.
  • Saori from Wandering Son has a Friendless Background but when she met Nitori she began making friends. She however regressed when she became jealous of Takatsuki's friendship with Nitori, not helped when Nitori told her she confessed to Takatsuki, and Took A Level In Jerk Ass that lasted most of middle school. Eventually they all made up and Saori is noticeably less moody come high school. She smiles more and is quite friendly with Takatsuki.
  • Takeo starts out Takeo-chan Bukkairoku distant and disinclined to open up to people. This is largely due to the curse that causes her to be Born Unlucky and makes her The Jinx to everyone around her. The youkai she lives with discover that the key to surprising her, and thus causing her to expel the negative energy within her for them to devour, is happiness, because she's felt it so rarely that it's a genuine shock to her system when she experiences it. As a result, they dedicate themselves to making her happy so they can feed off her energy and, despite this being completely counter-intuitive for the majority of them, they are successful and Takeo eventually reaches a point that she can declare she will not give in to despair ever again.

Film - Animated
  • Farley Wink's secretary Sawyer from Cats Don't Dance is a Broken Bird, having come to Hollywood with talent and enthusiasm, but was crushed by Hollywood's humanist hegemony. Likewise for many of the Funny Animals sitting morosely in Farley's office. Danny Cat arrives with the same enthusiasm, which ultimately reawakens their performer spirit, and they finish the film glowing in triumph and applause.
  • Violet Parr from Pixar's The Incredibles starts out massively introverted and socially miserable, too imploded to even speak to a boy she likes. After embracing her super side to thwart the villainous Syndrome, Violet emerges from her cocoon and starts making friends.
  • Queen Elsa of Frozen grew up highly reserved because she was afraid being emotional would cause her powers to act up. The first time she opens up is when she sings her iconic Let It Go solo. She's still very anxious in "For The First Time In Forever (Reprise)" but at the end seems to have opened up more thanks to The Power of Love, and has mastered her ice powers.
  • The titular kitten Oliver from Disney's Oliver & Company starts out as a giveaway kitten in a cardboard box. Evening rain, a sewer of doom, feral dogs ... life sucks for this kitten. By the end of the story, however, the kitten has a name and a home and Jenny Foxworth ... yeah, life is good for Oliver.

Fan Works
  • Fluttershy in Royal Business, as Spike notices when he runs into her in mid-air. She's friendly,smiling and even mischievous with Rainbow Dash after they re-bonded and became friendlier than ever before with Rainbow Dash in Dragonshyness. This is Fluttershy's normal reaction to discovering that somepony loves her, as we also see (four years later) regarding Bulk Biceps in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S4 E24 "Equestria Games"
  • A Crown Of Stars:
    • After going through a war, the end of the world and surviving in a wrecked world, Asuka was mentally broken, exhausted, bitter and angry with everyone and everything. When she arrived on Avalon people cared about her offered counseling and helped her to set several things right, and Asuka's mood improved considerably. When Shinji saw her again after several hours he was shocked because she was acting more like the bold, cheerful girl she was when he met her.
    • Shinji, too. Hooking up with his life's love, getting his mother, family and friends back and fighting for a worthy cause -for once- cheered him up tremendously.
  • Advice And Trust:
    • Shinji and Asuka became happier and less gloomy after getting together. Shinji even stopped needing his headphones to escape from reality because he was glad and at peace.
    • Rei stopped taking her feeling-numbing medication per advice of Asuka. Afterwards she started bonding with her fellow pilots and she also became happier and smiling more often (covertly so that she did not clue Gendo or Ritsuko in on her changes).
  • The Child of Love:
    • After finding out she was pregnant, Asuka spent several weeks feeling angrier and more depressed than usual. After that time her mood changed again due to her physical shifts and she started to behave in a more joyful, cheerier fashion.
    • Shinji also became happier after Asuka and him got together.
  • Children of an Elder God: After getting orphaned and abandoned Asuka was a very angry, very hostile little girl. However her foster mother took care of her and helped her with her issues, and when Asuka met the remaining cast she was considerably more cheerful than her canon self.
  • Doing It Right This Time:
    • Before the timeline restarted Asuka was so infuriated, hopeless and fed up with everything she just wanted to die. When she woke up in her room back in Germany, three months before the beginning of the War, and realized she had another chance, she was absolutely giddy.
    • So did Rei. Not having her emotions dampened, gaining a decent big sister figure, and developing a closer relationship with her teammates improved her erstwhile somber mood a lot.
    • Shinji... Well, he still has a way to go, but he's getting there.
  • Evangelion 303:
    • Asuka goes through this several times: at the beginning she was very distressed and glum because her performance was slipping. Then she met Shinji, after a while -and several fights- they got together and her mood got sunnier to the point that everybody commented on it. Later she fell on very hard times and she became angrier, loathful and depressed. After getting over her issues she became again happier and bolder.
    • Rei became emotionless after an accident and had a hard time reconnecting with her squad mates (and everybody else). After the Love Triangle tangling Kaworu, Saburo and herself up got resolved, she started to smile more often.
  • HERZ: After the war Asuka was angry, resentful and gloomy and hated herself and everybody. Twelve years later she is more mature, has repaired her relationship with Shinji and has married him, has given birth a cute daughter and she is happier than she ever was during her childhood.
  • Higher Learning: The three pilots are hit with this thanks to Kaoru's lessons and counseling. Shinji becomes hopeful for the future, Asuka gets less angry and less introvert, and Rei starts enjoying her life.
  • Last Child of Krypton: Asuka became happier and livelier when Shinji showed he cared about her, and later when he confessed.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide: Rei is pretty moody and somber at the beginning of the story, but she becomes happier after a while thanks to her teammates.
  • Once More with Feeling: Shinji is taking great pains to prevent Asuka from breaking down again, making sure that she knows that there are people care about her and value her, and will do so even if she stops being a pilot. The result is she is happier and more upbeat than in the original timeline.
  • The One I Love Is: Rei, Asuka and Shinji had several setbacks and much angst as the former two fought over the latter, but on the whole their Love Triangle made them happier and more emotionally stable.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: Developing powers and becoming a super-heroine made Asuka a happier, more cheerful and more positive person who did not need to pilot a giant robot to feel her life was not worthless.
  • In Thousand Shinji, Rei becomes more joyful and more upbeat after meeting Shinji and becoming a Nurgle follower.
  • In The Second Try:
    • After meeting Aki, Rei becomes more cheerful and smiles more often.
    • After saving the world and meeting their daughter again, Shinji and Asuka are happier and less burdened.

Film - Live-Action
  • Lydia in Beetlejuice is a very unhappy Goth teenager. Through forming a bond with a couple of friendly ghosts, she becomes much perkier in the end.

Literature
  • Nico di Angelo in The Trials Of Apollo. While he's not all puppies and butterflies by any stretch, he's far more cheerful and happy than he was at the end of The Heroes of Olympus, likely thanks to his relationship with Will.
  • Azjel in Dora Wilk Series. When seen in book two of the series, he's a dour, emotionless tykebomb. Thanks to Dora Care Bear Staring him by accident, by the time of short story Eternal Pen, taking place a year after the book, he's positively a Genki Guy.

Live-Action TV
  • Cohle from True Detective, spends the whole season this close to complete nihilism, yet he manages to find a sense of hope and optimism by the end.
    Hart: [looking up at the stars in the night's sky] It appears to me that the dark has a lot more territory.
    Cohle: You know, you're looking at it wrong, the sky thing... Well, once, there was only dark. If you ask me, the light's winning.

Video Games

Web Comics
  • In Homestuck, when Aradia first enters the comic, she's completely unable to feel emotion because she's actually a ghost. She insists that she doesn't mind this state, but everyone else finds her depressing to talk with. Then she gets better. Able to feel emotion again, she chooses to look at the bright side of everything and becomes unrelentingly happy. So happy that she regularly creeps her friends out.

WebOriginal
  • RWBY:
    • Weiss Schnee goes from a grumpy, arrogant, slightly self-centered young lady to one that while still quite uppity, cares about her teammates' well-being, will joke around with her teammates (much to their dismay), and has no problem openly fawning over a Precious Puppy.
    • Blake Belladonna goes from being a deeply stoic and broody young girl with a Deadpan Snarker attitude in Volume 1, to being rather positive and sociable (though she's still quite reserved by comparison to her teammates) by Volume 3.

Western Animation
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TookALevelInCheerfulness