When She Smiles

Way to kill the mood.

"You hardly ever smile Sam, and you look so beautiful when you do. Your face lights up and your soul shines so bright."
Gabriel, Singing Cows, a Supernatural fanfic

So there is this one character who never smiles. They are always so serious. Or maybe they're an The Eeyore who always sees the worst of things. Then one day they smile, and there is something about the sheer happiness in that smile that makes whoever is watching immediately feel welcome, or better, and very often want to make them smile again. Preferably a lot. Depending on the application, can lead to Love at First Sight, a Love Epiphany, or a heartwarming moment.

In summary the requirements for this trope are:

1: Character that rarely smiles (Emotionless Girl, Deadpan Snarker, Broken Bird, The Stoic, etc)

2: This character smiles

3: This smile is perceived as beautiful

4: Other people experience an increase in their affection for this character

On rare occasions this can be played with a character who typically shows an insincere smile (such as a Stepford Smiler or a Smug Smiler) who then has a sincere smile.

It's not actually Always Female; the title comes from the song "Absolutely (Story of a Girl)". Go Out with a Smile often involves this plus Tearjerker. May involve Finger-Forced Smile. A shy cousin to What Beautiful Eyes, and Unkempt Beauty; a subtrope of OOC Is Serious Business. Contrast with The Unsmile, where the smile is just plain unnatural.

In-Universe examples only, please. Do not include Audience Reactions.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: In several points -such like after being saved by Shinji from dying in a volcano, shielding Shinji from Matarael or in the last scene of the final chapter- Asuka smiles sincerely. And in Episode 6, after Shinji tearfully berates Rei for risking her life for his just because she considers herself expendable and she expresses confusion at how to respond, he tells her to try smiling... and she does, shocking him into a brief silence.
  • Eucliwood in Kore wa Zombie desu ka? surprises Ayumu when she finally shows her extremely cute smile.
  • Black Butler goes out of its way to prove this of Ciel. To the point where Joker in the manga gives him the stage name of Smile in an ironic sense...but then finds out that Ciel is a damn knockout. It seems as though Elizabeth's entire point of existing is to make him smile again...and she is one of the few people who can get a genuine smile.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya
    • Haruhi herself starts out the series with a perpetual frown (hence the title of the first book, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya). Kyon describes her first smile as "reminiscent of a blazing sun in an equatorial sky," and later uses adjectives like "divine" and "cherry blossoms in full bloom" when referring to it.
    • Yuki Nagato, resident Emotionless Girl, gets one. This picture from the Disappearance is a plot point in said movie and the novel it's adapted from — seeing Nagato smile is what leads Kyon to reflect on whether recreating the old world would be the right thing to do.
    • Subverted with Kuyou Suo (resident Humanoid Abomination). While Kyon comments on how smiling makes her whole appearance different, even beautiful, it still comes off as profoundly inhuman.
  • Maison Ikkoku: In a scene Yusaku reflects that Kyoko is short-tempered, jealous, hard to deal with... but when she smiles, he feels that the world is his.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Every frame which features Tomoe is gloom, grave, whose inability to smile caused her original fiancee to sign up as a bodyguard for a powerful samurai and get himself killed by Kenshin, can be seen smiling twice: once, when she dies, and once in a vision asking him to continue living life to the fullest. Enishi, the villain of the same arc, is willing to kill for that smile.
  • Izumi Himoru from Princess Nine pulls off this trope at the end of the final episode, where she hugs Ryo Hayakawa after the team lost in the in the quarter-finals, to cheer her up, with the hope of winning next year.
  • Borderline example: In Full Metal Panic!, Sousuke is not unattractive even in Perpetual Frowner mode - it's even directly addressed in the novels, where he's still considered very attractive, but very unapproachable, as his eyebrows are in a constant state of slanting down angrily, and his lips are always pressed firmly in a grim, straight thin line. But during the moments where his face relaxes and he lightens up, people who see him like that tend to have their heart racing BIG TIME.
  • Darker Than Black:
    • Hei generally racks up a Chick Magnet count even without a real smile (he has plenty of fake ones, but they're just that — fake), but if Amber's testimony is anything to go by, a genuine one can make sociopaths fall for him.
      Amber: There was one time that he actually laughed from the bottom of his heart. His smile captivated me. That's when I thought to myself, "You really did it this time." I felt as if I would do anything for him.
    • Yin has a weird combination of this and The Unsmile. Due to her Frozen Face, it's not the end result that's cute so much as the effort she puts into it.
  • In Battle Royale, Hirono, the second in command bad girl in Mitsuko's gang is depicted as this. Despite having a punk hairstyle and being very nasty normally, when she meets up with protagonist Shuya(whom it's implied and revealed that she actually has a crush on), she ends up showing a smile from her heart. This leads to Shuya realizing that she's not all bad, and throughout the series, one of his greater regrets is being unable to save her. It pretty much directly follows this trope when he describes her in this page.
  • Sawako from Kimi ni Todoke usually looks damn creepy what with resembling Sadako and all, but her genuine warm smile was one of the first reason Kazehaya fell in love with her. When she tries to force herself to smile though, it, ah...doesn't work.
  • Akane Tendo in Ranma ˝. Even Ranma freely admits that she's cute when she smiles.
  • In the Pokémon anime, Marley succeeds big time at doing this when a Shaymin she saved before crawls into her sleeping bag.
  • Arisa in the manga of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's really didn't want to like Fate. She was rather jealous of the attention Nanoha got from her. But she has to admit that disliking her is hard to do when subjected to the smile
  • When Ayu smiles in Deep Love Reina starts crying because she's never smiled at her before. In the live action version, she merely pointed it out.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia: Invoked in one strip, when Vietnam asks her "brother" Thailand to teach her how to smile.
    • From the same series, England either frowns, sneers or is yelling at someone (usually America or France.) There are vers few instances of him genuinely smiling, like after the football game with Germany during the "Cristmas truce" in World War I, when his magical friends come to greet him at the meeting, or during America's childhood.
  • Meia from Vandread. Her smile causes babies to stop crying.
  • Pokémon Special:
    • Though Sapphire is perfectly capable of being happy and showing smiles, as she's normally in full tsun mode around Ruby, this trope is in full effect when she finally admits her feelings to Ruby. The realization that she's his Forgotten Childhood Friend nails it down all the more him.
    • X's default expression is one of resigned depression, but when Viola catches him smiling one time, she notes how nice it is.
  • Umi no Misaki: Nagi feels this way about all three of the girls. Karin is seemingly perpetually happy, which Nagi finds one of her most endearing traits; He likes Shizuku when she is able to smile and relax; It's a positively heartwarming moment for him when he gets Soyogi to open up and smile.
  • In Black Cat Saya convinces Train to change his ways.
  • Natsume Takashi from Natsume Yuujinchou has managed to charm quite a few people with a well-placed smile. He's even flustered a youkai woman on the far end of the Kinsey scale with one.
    Hinoe: Why do you have to be a man!
  • Alviss of Märchen Awakens Romance. Lampshaded in the series the few times he has smiled genuinely as seen here.
  • Baccano!: Elmer seems to have a tendency to make bets with himself to see if he could make Huey smile within a certain time period.
  • Yuki of Betrayal Knows My Name. Also, Luka. In chapter 21 Luka tells Yuki "I'm glad to see you smiling. I wish you could keep smiling like that." and touches his face.
  • In The Prince of Tennis, there are exactly two (perhaps three) instances in which Tezuka Kunimitsu can be seen smiling: one is after a very symbolic match with his best friend Fuji Shusuke, the other is after his team has just won the National Tournament against the supposedly-unbeatable Rikkaidai. The last one, Inui Sadaharu even felt necessary to get on tape.
  • In The Familiar of Zero season 4 episode 5 Saito says he feels happy when he sees Louise smile.
  • In Vampire Hunter D, D's (very, very rare) smiles are apparently worthy of historical documentation.
    If that boy could have seen it, he would have told people for the rest of his days how he'd been the one to bring it out. It was just such a smile.
  • Konzen, from Saiyuki, like his later incarnation, Sanzo, is very pretty but has a permanent scowl. Goku, his surrogate son, thinks he'd be beautiful if he did smile. Subverted, though, as when he finally does Goku decides it doesn't suit him at all, even though it is a completely genuine loving smile. Doubles as a crowning moment of heartwarming, as essentially Goku is saying he loves Konzen as he is.
  • Mika and Koharu of Koharu No Hibi just want Akira to always be happy and smile. And Koharu is normally a creepy Stepford Smiler Yandere but she does genuinely smile here without any insanity or creepiness behind it.
  • Nako of Poor Poor Lips, with her kid-like proportions, is frequently mentioned by Ren to not be her type. However, all of that changes when Nako flashes one of her genuine smiles...
    Ren: The thing I want most in the world, is to see her smile.
  • Invoked in Sensual Phrase. Aine is a Cute Bookworm who doesn't gives smiles a lot due to shyness, but when she does, she's very cute... But when she's chosen as a model specifically due to this, she cannot smile as cutely as before, which causes her quite the angst.
  • Discussed by Guts and played for drama in Berserk. After all of the crap that they had gone through since the eclipse, all that Guts wants to do is to make his insane lover Casca smile (though she is attractive regardless of if she smiles or not). But after he nearly strangles and later almost rapes her on account of being influenced by his Enemy Within she is now fearful of him and won't even let Guts touch her with tenderness anymore. It's more heartbreaking because seeing her smile is the only thing that makes Guts himself smile nowadays, and it kills him to see how Casca fears and detests him now.
    • To add to the above, in volume 28, Guts briefly gives a true smile (bonus that his eyes are shining and not dull like they usually are) upon hearing from the Skull Knight that Casca might be cured of her insanity once and for all if he gets her to Elfhelm. Schierke, who is present, gives a soft reaction of happiness that she was able to see Guts smile like this.
  • Applied several times with Chairman Morinomiya in Gakuen Babysitters. Always acting like a grouch, the few times she smiles reveals quite a lot.
  • Early on in My Little Monster, Mizutani convinces Haru to stop glaring at people all the time and start smiling a bit more in order to make friends. This ends up going horribly right, as the female half of the class finds that he's surprisingly good-looking, and Haru briefly finds himself harassed by numerous admirers.
  • Rikka from Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions can be Weapon-Grade Adorable is she breaks her Elegant Gothic Lolita delusion.
  • Muteki Kanban Musume: Kayahara’s sensei perpetual depression made her look as a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl, and attempts to cheer up result in The Un-Smile… except when she eats her Trademark Favorite Food, she is so happy then that When She Smiles, everyone thinks she is beautiful and Love Bubbles appear.
  • Sen Yarizui from Ben-To is usually The Stoic, but her features soften considerably when she offers up a sincere, heartfelt smile.
  • An interesting version of this can be found in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. Fai always smiles, at all times, even when he's fighting. At least up until C!Syaoran rips out his eye in Acid Tokyo and Kurogane, who utterly refuses to let him die, turns him into a vampire. After that he drops the mask for good and doesn't smile until much later. When he does it is real and beautiful.
  • Parodied in Angel Beats! Heaven's Door (though not in the story proper): chapter 18 is entirely about how Hinata just wants to see Yurippe smile and laugh happily. After the chapter though, there is a Super-Deformed gag page where said Yurippe laughs maniacally and creepily, prompting Hinata to decide that, nope, it's better when she doesn't laugh after all.
  • Kotone from Tonari no Kashiwagi-san is said to be particularly cute by Yuuto when she smiles, and outside their circle of friends, she rarely smiles. Sayaka also mentions that she can't get Kotone to smile like that.
  • Kohina from Gugure! Kokkuri-san is very much The Stoic to the point of referring to herself as a doll. When she does try to force out a smile, her face literally falls apart and scares everyone. Thus the first time she genuinely smiles for Kokkuri, he's finds it absolutely adorable.
  • Gender-inverted with Sakura from Sand Chronicles. He's mostly a Perpetual Frowner and smirks when he's being snobby, yet the first two times he genuinely smiles at Ann, she blushes and admits he has a killer smile and is probably popular with women.

    Comic Books 
  • Peanuts: Mentioned in the titular song of the movie A Boy Named Charlie Brown:
    Maybe it's a kind of magic
    That only little boys can do.
    But seeing Charlie smile,
    Can make you stop awhile,
    And get you feelin' glad you're you.
  • X-23 only very rarely smiles. In issue 30 of All-New X-Men, the time-displaced teenaged Angel convinces her to go on a date with him, and while talking afterwards, Warren specifically remarks that he likes it when Laura smiles, and that she should do it more often. Notably, in the same conversation he compares her looks favorably to Jean Grey.

    Fan Works 
  • Advice And Trust: When Asuka sees Shinji acting gloomy, moody or depressed she encourages him to smile because she thinks his smile is beautiful.
    • In chapter 3:
      Once they were almost alone on the bus, Asuka felt safe to talk to him, and rested her head on her arms on the back of Shinji's seat. Shinji was staring out the window, a faintly sad look on his face. She poked him in the back of the head. "Why the glum look, Shinji?"
      Shinji blinked and snapped out of his distracted fugue. "Uh? Oh, it's nothing."
      She poked him again. "Bullshit. Talk, Third. I like it when you smile too."
  • The Child Of Love: Asuka’s smile was so beautiful when they got married after so many hardships that Shinji said he would never forget it.
    Shinji:"I will never forget that smile you gave me when you said 'I do' in front of the priest. And it may take my entire life to repay you for that smile, but I'll do it."
  • Evangelion 303: In chapter 4 Asuka beamed at Shinji sincerely. Up to that point Shinji had seen her angry or depressed most of time, and he was shocked and flushed.
  • HERZ: In chapter 10 Shinji imagines Asuka smiling such a beautiful smile that it was heart-breaking.
    Asuka. He imagined her standing at the end of a long polished corridor. She was in her HERZ uniform with her usual eye patch and arm harness. She held Akiko in her arms and smiled at him. It was a smile that could break his heart.
  • Kyon, already described as average-looking in Kyon Big Damn Hero, whose smile is a source of security and relief to Tsuruya.
  • The One I Love Is: After spending several chapters angry and trying to not crying, Shinji asks Asuka out. In answer she smiles, and he thinks she is gorgeous when she smiles sincerely instead of seeming mad, smug or depressed:
    She gave me her most beautiful smile, before reverting to her arrogant self. If I had not been seated on my bed, I might have fallen on the floor. For that brief moment, she had really been the most gorgeous person I had ever seen.
  • Scar Tissue:
    • After Third Impact Asuka spent most of time looking angry, depressed or sneering. When she smiled, though, Shinji thought that she was the most beautiful girl in the world.
    • Gender Flipped when Shinji smiles and Asuka thinks that his childish, relaxed smile melt her heart.
  • When Sherlock Holmes smiles for the first time in A Study in Regret, Mary Watson is so joyful that it unlocks all the emotions she's been keeping at bay, and she cries. And Holmes holds her for as long as she needs him.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton:
    • When Shinji smiles he makes Asuka's heart race.
    • In chapter 16 Asuka beams at Shinji, and he feels his heartbeat speeding up:
    Then, to his considerable surprise, she smiled at him, something she hadn't done since before the last Angel battle. Shinji felt his heartbeat accelerating as he looked at her.
  • In Children of Time, Holmes's smile is rare by the time Beth Lestrade meets him, and her heart melts every time she sees it. On the flip side, Holmes later tells her that she has "no idea what her smile does to his insides". He ends up nicknaming her "sunshine".
  • Higher Learning: In the prologue, when Kaoru sees Shinji smiling, he thinks: "I would have moved the universe to see that smile."
  • In the Touhou doujin Kokoro's Smile Is Priceless, Kokoro ends up losing her mask again, this time to Rinnosuke, and he tells her to sell things in the village to learn how to be responsible. In the end, she manages to surprise him by selling everything (wearing an expressionless maid outfit) and receives her mask back. And she gets impressed with the fact that Rinnosuke looked over her, from distance, and she ends up smiling. The quicker is that the artist doesn't show her smiling, but it's clear that is a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
  • This is a dying L's reaction to Erin's "The Reason You Suck" Speech at the end of Story Of The Century, and Erin herself is so overwhelmed by it that it renders her speechless. It manages to be both a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming and a Tear Jerker at the same time.
  • Before Katara even began to like Zuko, she noticed the transforming power of Zuko's smile in The Stalking Zuko Series. Averted by Jet, who thinks Zuko looks extremely strange when he smiles.
  • Zack treats every time Cloud smiles like a momentous occasion in The Fifth Act.
  • In Naruto: the Secret Songs of the Ninja this is how Naruto first notices how pretty Hinata is.
    A sudden random thought struck him at that moment- when she smiled, Hinata was actually quite pretty. He wondered how he'd never managed to notice that before.
  • In Auf Wiedersehen Sweetheart, Feliciano describes Ludwig while playing soccer:
    When Ludwig smiled, he was the most beautiful person in the entire world.
  • In The Rock Farmer's Daughters, Cheese Sandwich finds himself in awe when he witnesses Pinkamena smile for the first time in years.
  • In Expendable Heroes this is how the bond between Team 7 fully forms
    It was tiny, a mere curling on his lips. But it was still a sight to see. Only then did Sakura understand why Sasuke was seemed so fond of the blond. That timid smile that threatened to break through his usual stoic demeanor...at that moment, Sakura felt like she could take on the world to protect that smile.
  • In Hope For The Heartless, the Horned King, the monstrous lich, has the most beautiful smile of all creatures... according to Avalina, his Morality Pet. She lampshades this trope by saying:
    "You have the most genuine smile of anyone I've ever met. When you're happy, I know it's real. Not a mask, like I've seen other people wear."
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist fanfic Build Your Wings on the Way Down Edward notes how Gabby, a college student he meets outside a nightclub and Aviv, her intimidating Face of a Thug Ishvalan boyfriend, look nicer when they both smile.

  • The Ironic Hell for suicides in Wristcutters is just like the real world, except that nothing works, everything's kind of gray, and it's impossible to smile. After seeing nothing but despondent looks from all of the characters for the entire movie, the last shot—the leads smiling at one another—is like a wash of beautiful sunlight.
  • Aurelia in Love Actually. In the commentary, Richard Curtis says he immediately decided to cast Lucia Moniz after she smiled during her audition, and immediately went from dour plain woman to radiant beauty.
  • Sense and Sensibility: Elinor, as played by Emma Thompson, who lights up with one bright, beaming, radiant smile at the end of the film and immediately negates about five minutes' worth of Inelegant Blubbering. Edward's besotted expression says it all.
  • Completely subverted in The Addams Family Values when Perpetual Frowner Wednesday Addams decides to smile after being tortured by Disney films and other musicals at a ridiculously cheery summer camp. When she does smile, some of the other camp girls start to cry in terror.
  • Subverted early in the Pirates of the Caribbean cycle when the creators had to cut every incidence where Commodore Norrington smiled (they are still in the deleted scenes on the Curse of the Black Pearl DVD). Jack Davenport's smile was charming enough for the writers to go Draco in Leather Pants on their own character and start re-writing him accordingly- these scenes were cut out because the character wasn't supposed to have so much of the audience's sympathy.
  • In the film Lock Up, at the end Stallone's character tells the captain who walks him to the exit that he'll miss his incredible smile, at which point the captain slowly smiles.

  • In Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson's short story collection Water: Tales of the Elemental Spirits, the main character in one the stories is described as one of these ("Her face lit up with kindness and humor and intelligence.") The same phrase, in an non-ironic echo, is used to describe her Love Interest.
  • Meghan Whalen Turner's short story collection Instead Of Three Wishes has the protagonist of the titular story fitting the trope. Her honest smile "could make flowers bloom early" and stuns the elf king who's known her for a while when he finally sees her smile for real.
    • Turner likes this trope. Helen/Eddis from her Queen's Thief series is described as mannish and decidedly NOT beautiful... but even the dour Magus admits that she has a lovely smile.
  • Number Ten Ox's description of Lotus Cloud in Bridge of Birds. He goes on about how she looks like just a normal, unremarkable peasant girl. "and then she smiled..." and Ox falls instantly in love, as does every other male with a working libido. she is a goddess in disguse, after all.
  • In the novelizations of Red Dwarf, Kochanski's "Pinball Smile" is mentioned a couple of times; when she smiles she lights up like a pinball machine when you hit the jackpot.
  • In Wheel of Time, Anaiya is described as homely, honest, and has a beautiful smile.
    • Tuon has also been described this way when she isn't being The Stoic.
    • The series also provides a male example: when Min first meets the noble who wills become the future King of Tear, she more or less decides that he's ok looking, but with too big a nose. Then he smiles, and she decides that any length of nose can be forgiven with a smile like that.
  • Anne Abbott in They Shall Have Stars by James Blish.
  • In John Green's An Abundance of Katherines, Lindsey Lee Wells' "smile could end wars and cure cancer."
  • When Anne of Green Gables was growing up the issue of her beauty was a topic of discussion by many, with the final consensus usually being that she didn't have conventional beauty but did have some unknown element about her that could occasionally blossom out:
    "How perfectly lovely!" exclaimed Anne, her gray eyes lighting up until they looked like evening stars, causing Mrs. Lynde to wonder anew if she would ever get it settled to her satisfaction whether Anne Shirley were really a pretty girl or not.
    • L.M. Montgomery also makes Emily Byrd Starr's smile beautiful yet a little strange at the same time: it completely changes her face, but it blooms slowly. She inherited it from her mother, and it instantly wins over her Aunt Laura, who loved Emily's mother dearly.
  • In Jean Auel's The Valley of Horses, Thonolan (and everyone else) thinks Jetamio is not-unattractive, until "Oh woman, you are beautiful when you smile."
  • In The Great Gatsby, Gatsby's smile is described as disarming to a suspicious extent, so transforming that it must be hiding something.
    He smiled understandingly — much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced — or seemed to face — the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series this describes the Queen's Own Herald quite well. While Talia is preparing for her wedding, the groom walks in, prompting the following observation from Jeri: "Two hours I spend on her, and in two eyeblinks he makes everything I did look insignificant."
  • Rare Male Example: In Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness, master thief George Cooper "had a nose too big for good looks, but when he smiled he appeared handsome."
  • Mordion from Diana Wynne Jones' Hexwood is fairly alarming looking - he's tall, gawky, much too skinny, and his face is frequently said to resemble a skull. However, he has such a transformatively warm and beautiful smile that the female protagonist almost falls out of a tree the first time she sees it. Interestingly, at points he is actually seen to deploy the power of his smile strategically.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Occasionally lists several major flaws in Ygritte's appearance and then comments that when she smiles they are much less noticeable.
    • Subverted with Brienne of Tarth; when she wins a spot on Renly's Rainbow Guard, her delighted smile lights up her face, but it doesn't make her any less hideously ugly.
    • Played with in the case of Tywin Lannister. He has apparently never smiled since his wife died, which is lamented by his brother and other people who knew him when he was a nicer man. His son Tyrion is present on several occasions when Tywin almost smiles, but instead of being a heartwarming moment, the look is described as "terrible", probably because the context suggests it would be a Slasher Smile. The only time a true smile appears on Tywin's face is after he has been killed, and even then the maesters say the smile is not genuine, and is only a tightening of the facial muscles as the body starts to decompose. Tywin's children (unsurprisingly) prefer to imagine that he is at peace.
  • Another male example: Sheftu from Eloise Mcgraw's Mara, Daughter of the Nile. Another male character mentions that Sheftu is actually so plain as to be almost ugly, but his smile (along with his super-suaveness) prevents any woman from realizing this.
  • In The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Kit is unaware of her dazzling smile, and confused by the romantic overtures it invites.
  • Tolstoy uses this trope in War and Peace describing Natasha and, to some extent, Princess Marya. At first, it isn't the smile but the expression of her eyes, but in the scene of her second meeting with Nicolas Rostov it's played literally.
  • From the YA novel Jacob Have I Loved: the protagonist (who is young, island-born and Protestant) has just been chatting with a Catholic, mountain-born widower. At first she thinks he doesn't understand her at all...
    "But then, oh, my blessed, he smiled. I guess I knew right then I was going to marry him: God, Pope, three motherless children, unspellable surname and all. For when he smiled, he looked like the kind of man that would sing to the oysters."
  • In Meg Cabot's Airhead series, the lead Emerson who is actually in super-model's Nikki Howard's body describes everybody (boys and girls) as having this reaction to Nikki's smile, as opposed to what happened when she smiled on her own body.
  • In Donna Jo Na Poli's Bound (a Chinese "Cinderella" retelling), the prince was amused by Xing Xing's impudence. But once she smiled at him, he was surprised (and delighted) and at once, he was certainly interested in getting to know her.
  • Harry Potter: The first time Ron and Harry notice how attractive Hermione has become is when she laughs and shows how her teeth had been fixed.
  • In Lucifer's Hammer, the character of Eileen is the epitome of this trope: plain-looking, but with a smile that literally stops traffic.
  • In the YA book Will Grayson, Will Grayson.
    Will Grayson #1: [Jane's] whole face changes when she smiles—this eyebrow-lifting, perfect-teeth-showing, eye-crinkling smile I've either never seen or never noticed.
  • Prince Henry from The Wild Hunt Trilogy. "Henry laughed aloud. The plain features lit up, became attractively mischievous..."
  • Margaret in Sisters, No Way. Aishling at one point notices how old she is looking lately but then Margaret smiles and Aishling relaxes. Cindy also remarks "she's not a very attractive woman but she has a nice smile".
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Minor side-character Vince Graver from Turn Coat was described as The Nondescript until his last scene, when he smiles. Dresden notes that the smile completely changes him from a generic average Joe to someone who could light up the room just by being there.
    • Little Inara Raith is described as "pretty" but has a smile that makes her radiant.
    • More than once a friend of Harry's has noted to him that he looks much better when he smiles.
  • Sharpe, who is described as looking perpetually sardonic and mocking due to a Badass Scar, except when he smiles. Which isn't often, and then he looks kind and charming. Since he normally looks like some ancient God of War in mid battle, this is an improvement. It is worth noting that he is always described as roguishly handsome, its just that he looks kind when he smiles.
  • In Harry Turtledove's Worldwar, Mordechai Anielewicz finds Bertha Fleishman more attractive when she smiles, normally considering her plain.
  • In So Long And Thanks For All The Fish, Wonko the Sane is a weird-looking dude, but when he smiles...
    But his smile when he turned it on you was quite remarkable. It seemed to be composed of all the worst things that life can do to you, but which, when he briefly reassembled them in that particular order on his face, made you suddenly feel, "Oh. Well that's all right then."
  • In A Reluctant Queen by Joan Wolf, a retelling of the story of Esther from the Bible, Esther was already deemed a pretty girl but when she smiled, it was enough to warm anyone's hands, as noted by her Uncle Mordecai. And before her interview with the king, she was told by the lady in charge of the girls waiting to see the king to smile because "[her] smile was [her] greatest beauty."
  • In Tales of Kolmar, the usually serious, inclined-to-brood mage Vilkas is noted by one character to be "pleasant enough, if only he'd smile now and again". Later she says her wish is granted, and she notes "a broad glorious smile that lit up his face and showed the joy that danced behind his eyes". At the end of the series he's more inclined to smiling in general.
  • Asher in Someone Else's War is a rare male example. His face is heavily scarred, and he spends most of his time shunning emotion as weakness. Smiling (or laughing) makes a huge improvement to his appearances, but he doesn't do it often.
  • Analyzed at great length when Joan's smile causes Ashe to fall for her in P.G. Wodehouse's Something Fresh.
  • Played absolutely straight with Samella in Exiles of ColSec.
  • Arabella Woodhope (later Strange) is described as a modestly pretty girl, but adds that when she smiles, she has been known to outshine known beauties in three counties.
  • Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings Appendixes has been described to look solemn and grave but when he smiled, he appeared kingly.
    His ways were hard and long and he became somewhat grim to look upon, unless he chanced to smile and yet he seemed to Men worthy of honour, as a king that is in exile, when he did not hide his true shape.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold is fond of this trope as applied to males. From her Vorkosigan Saga:
    • "Oh, good shot!" cried Cordelia ecstatically. Vorkosigan grinned like a boy over his shoulder at her, and jogged after his prize. "Oh," she murmured, stunned herself by the effect of the grin. It had lit his face like the sun for that brief instant. Oh, do that again, she thought; then shook off the thought. Duty. Stick to duty.
    • And much later in the same series, another character thinks to herself that Emperor Gregor has "one of those wildly unfair male face-transforming smiles".
    • In her Chalion fantasy series novel Hallowed Hunt, after the usually rather gloomy protaganist finally smiles at the Love Interest, he is soon thereafter told that she "thinks your smile is devastating."
  • Ten year-old Skeeter Traps from Chronicles Of Magic is almost constantly scowling or sporting a psychotic Slasher Smile. Thus, it shocks everyone when she gives them a genuine grin.
  • In the original The Blue Lagoon by H. Devere Stacpoole:
    "My box," said she; and as she spoke, holding it up as if to prove its safety, the little plain face altered to the face of an angel.
    She had smiled.
    When Emmeline Lestrange smiled it was absolutely as if the light of Paradise had suddenly flashed upon her face: the happiest form of childish beauty suddenly appeared before your eyes, dazzled them and was gone.
  • In Kathryn Hulme's The Nuns Story, here's the Reverend Mother Emmanuel:
    Her plain face had a carved simplicity, like an early Flemish primitive, but when she smiled, there was a sudden beauty cast over the countenance that made you catch your breath.
  • In The Infernal Devices, according to Tessa, Sophie has a downright amazing smile that makes her beautiful despite her scar.
  • Words of Radiance (second book of The Stormlight Archive) has a variant. Shallan Davar is a Broken Bird who is very good at pretending to be a Genki Girl. When Kaladin chides her for being naive and sheltered, she calmly explains how she is very very not, and he finally understands the context of her rare true smiles.
    He saw it in her eyes. The anguish, the frustration. The terrible nothing that clawed inside and sought to smother her. She knew. It was there, inside. She had been broken.
    Then she smiled. Oh, storms. She smiled anyway.
    It was the single most beautiful thing he'd seen in his entire life.
  • The Secret Garden: Ben Weatherstaff. Mary is shocked by how much nicer he looks just by smiling.

    Live Action TV 
  • Chuck: Sarah Walker is not a spy to be fucked with. She'll murder you nine ways from Sunday if you cross her or her team and especially if you hurt Chuck, BUT if you happen to get a genuine smile out of her, like Chuck did in the pilot episode and continues to do throughout the series, she's the prettiest damn thing you've ever seen in your life. You try not falling in love with this smile.
  • The same can be said for Danielle Panabaker's Caitlyn Frost on The Flash. She's known for her stiff demeanor, but if you get her to smile, you could power all of Central City.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Sarina, one of the Augments that works with Bashir in "Statistical Improbabilities", is catatonic in that appearance due to her senses being too slow for her brain to process. In a later appearance, Bashir is able to get her highly accelerated neural pathways in tune with her senses, breaking her out of her catatonia...and the first time she smiles, Bashir is absolutely smitten with her.
  • It seems to be a pattern with people named Parker. Shawn Mullins, in regards to Ms. Parker of The Pretender:
    "She'd be a whole lot prettier if she smiled once in a while."
  • In a deleted scene from The Thick of It, we discover that, according to a "worm poll", the public really love Hugh Abbott's smile.
  • Generally inverted in The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Cameron does not smile much - and every time she is shown smiling, it is creepy as hell because the audience knows she's smiling to manipulate people. The sole exception to this is in the episode "Allison From Palmdale" where a scene showing her laughing and smiling is played as this trope - as Cameron is in her "Allison" persona and thinks she's human, and thus feels real emotions.
  • Criminal Minds: In Season 7 Hotch started dating again, finally getting over his wife's death, and you can see the other members of the team (especially Rossi) take absolute delight in seeing him smile.
  • Dr. K from Power Rangers RPM. For a character that has No Social Skills whatsoever and comes across as a deadpan Little Miss Snarker, along with an extremely depressing past, she has a very endearing smile—a rare occurrence throughout the series. This becomes a sign that she opens up to her team as she does it more and more. It even becomes a plot point in the episode "If Venjix Won" when Ziggy Grover brings her the gift of a smile on her birthday by performing an elaborate shadow puppet show while being trapped in a cave.
  • Sakura Nishihori/Bouken Pink in GoGo Sentai Boukenger started out as a super serious member of the SGS and can't smile ever. It takes one mission to finally make her smile for a boy she's taking care of. As her leader said, her smile is possessed by only hers alone, and during the climax of the series, she did declare that her smile was her greatest treasure.
  • Penny Parker (there's that name again!), the recurring character Teri Hatcher played on MacGyver, made her debut in an episode called... "Every Time She Smiles."
  • Babylon 5's Ambassador Delenn, as played by Mira Furlan. In a season 5 episode, one character remarks that he'd claw his way through solid rock just to see that smile.
  • In Warehouse Thirteen Pete tells Myka to smile because he thinks she looks pretty when she smiles.
    Pete Smile. You're pretty when you smile
  • Inverted in the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice when Darcy states that Jane "smiles too much". The implication here is not so much that he thinks she doesn't have a nice smile but that he thinks she's using it insincerely.
  • In the final minutes of Parade's End, when Christopher Tietjens is dancing with Valentine after cutting ties with Sylvia, we see his face light up with one bright, beaming supernova of a smile that puts the sun to shame. Valentine visibly melts when she sees it.
  • In the Korean Rom Com drama You Are Beautiful, after a long day of getting lost in the city, when Hwang Tae-Kyung and Go Mi Nam who's really Go Mi Nyeo, posing as her twin brother while he's in America getting his plastic surgery fixed finally get back to the office Tae-Kyung, whose face is often wearing some gloomy, stoic, and/or grumpy look, smiles the most adorable little boy-like smile and makes Go Mi Nam's heart beat loud and hard. Naturally since this is out-of character for him, after the slow motion reveal his smile disappears just as fast as it came.
  • Every morning, Richard Castle brings Kate Beckett a cup of coffee just so he can see a smile on her face. Given what a serious and sombre character Beckett often is (particularly in the early seasons), and given the way Beckett's (and Stana Katic's) face lights up whenever she smiles, it's hard to blame him.
  • The Daily Show: On 10/8/2013, Jon Stewart interviewed Malala Yousafzai, a then-16 year old advocate for girls' rights to education worldwide. At the beginning of the interview, Jon told Malala, "We talked a little bit before the show. Nothing feels better than making you laugh."
  • Kamen Rider Drive's female lead Kiriko Shijima is stern and unflappable, with Shinnosuke making a big deal out of the rare moments when she smiles because it shows that she's not all business. An early episode shows that it's partly trauma: during the Global Freeze, the Paint Roidmude almost turned her into a picture, if not for the intervention of Proto-Drivenote . It also gets brought up in The Movie: when Shinnosuke asks his Kid from the Future Eiji who his mother is, Eiji says that she doesn't smile very often, but when she does it's very meaningful, prompting Shinnosuke to glance at Kiriko and mutter "It can't be..."

  • "The girl works at the store sweet Jane St. Clair / Was dazzled by her smile while I shopped there." - Barenaked Ladies, Jane.
    • That's a reference to the extended version of "Sweet Jane": "Heavenly wine and roses seem to whisper to her when he smiles; heavenly wine and roses seem to whisper to her when she smiles." Hear it here.
  • "And all her friends tell her / she's so pretty / but she'd be a whole lot prettier / if she smiled once in a while" - Shawn Mullins, Lullabye. (See The Pretender reference above.)
  • "Annie" by Safetysuit is about a 'plain Jane' who never liked what she saw in the mirror, but "she had a smile that could light up a room."
  • "Here in town you can tell he's been down for a while / But, my God, it's so beautiful when the boy smiles," - Anna Nalick, Breathe (2am)
  • Nine Days' "Absolutely (Story of a Girl)" defines this trope and may well be the trope namer.
  • "When I See You Smile" by Bad English could also be this trope's theme song.
  • As seen in the quotes page, Van Morrison's "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)" and The Stone Roses' "Standing Here".
  • Opeth's Mikael Akerfeldt. Not that he's normally unattractive, but when he smiles, he can be almost moe.
  • "Just The Way You Are" by Bruno Mars: "And when you smile, the whole world stops and stares for a while." Wow, that has to be one heck of a smile.
  • Supertramp's "Know who you are"
    "When you smile we can see the sun"
  • Golden Earring has the song "When The Lady Smiles" revolving around this trope.
  • The Flaming Lips, "When You Smile".
    It's like, I didn't need to
    Say anything or do much, I could tell
    When you smile
    All of the sub-atomic pieces come together
    And unfold themselves
    In a second
  • Daughters' "Superman" has the line, "And she smiles/Oh the way she smiles!"
  • In Bruce Springsteen's "Queen of the Supermarket", there is this lovely little gem about the explosive qualities of a grocer's smile:
    "As I lift my groceries in to my car/I turn back for a moment and catch a smile/That blows this whole fucking place apart"
  • Dia Frampton, "Inventing Shadows":
    Don't you know the world shines
    Every time you smile?
    Why cant you just smile?
  • Concrete Blonde also have a song called "When You Smile". Unlike what you'd expect, the musical backing of the song is Darker and Edgier heavy Grunge/Post-Punk.
    When you smile, I don't know what to do
    'Cos I could lose everything in a minute or two
    And it seems like the end of the world...
    ...when you smile.
  • Tim McGraw's "Just To See You Smile".
    When all is said and done,
    I'd never count the cost.
    It's worth all that's lost
    Just to see you smile.
  • Jethro Tull's "Reasons for Waiting".
    Came a thousand miles
    Just to catch you while you're smiling
    • "To Cry You a Song".
      The smile in your eyes was never so sweet before
      I came down from the skies to cry you a song
  • "Smile" by Uncle Kracker.
  • "Absolutely" by Nine Days:
    This is the story of a girl
    Who cried a river and drowned the whole world
    And while she looked so sad in photographs
    I absolutely love her
    When she smiles
  • "When She Smiles" by Elf.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Invoked by Molly Holly, who had previously been known as the cute smiley one on many rosters full of scowling brutes and vagabonds. When she stopped smiling, suddenly she wasn't so cute anymore.
  • Matt Sydal's smile, his actual smile and not his annoying smirk, was said to be worth a million bucks by The Irish Luchador Billy McNeil.
  • Sara Del Rey and The World Famous Kana, who both smiled quite a bit initially before becoming angry at the world and smearing their faces with paint\eyeshadow and covering them with masks.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The human form of Amalion, a Third Circle demon in Exalted, to the point that she wears a veil to keep everyone she meets from falling head over heels in love with her if she cracks a smile.


    Video Games 
  • Natasha of Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, while already beautiful, is very serious and leans towards The Woobie. Naturally, most of her romantic supports feature the wooer attempting to cheer her up.
  • Persona 2 does this, too. Tatsuya, of all people, has this to the point where Maya points it out in the bomb shelter.
  • In Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, Albus' Last Request as his soul is sacrificed for Dominus is for Shanoa to give him one last smile. She does.
  • Neku in The World Ends with You is usually a stoic Deadpan Snarker, but during a flashback in the second week, it's just awesome to see such a withdrawn character smile without a hint of cynicism or sarcasm.
  • Kaori Yae in the Tokimeki Memorial 2 game series does this, particulary after she has recovered from her Heroic BSOD. Lampshaded several times in the saga by the protagonist, such as in Dancing Summer Vacation, saying the following, as he notices how dazzling she is when she smiles:
    Protagonist: I have the feeling it's the first time I see her smiling, without being on her guards. It feels like she's a different person.
  • Raizze Haimer, the Emotionless Girl of Mitsumete Knight, has a special event and CG, where she has a rare beautiful smile, when the Asian is poisoned and she manages to save him. The game's CG Gallery names this CG "Mezurashii Egao" ("An unusual smiling face").
  • Taiga spends a lot of his interactions with Muriel in Duel Savior Destiny wishing she'd lighten up a little. He's never really at ease near her due to her stoic attitude, so when she smiles and laughs at the end of Mia's route he's terrified and runs away.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, even after Emotionless Girl Presea regains her soul and starts being capable of emotions again, she's got a lot of trauma to deal with and is mostly The Stoic. But after rescuing Colette (and being forgiven for her part in the most recent kidnapping, since she was basically under Mind Control), she smiles for real, and everyone notes how cute it is.
  • In The Sandman, one character describes the normally stoic and emotionally repressed Sophie as having "a smile like a goddess of the sun". And indeed, in the best ending, we get to see her flash a lovely smile for the first time all game.
  • One level in Elite Beat Agents has this trope as its very goal, as you must help a younger Leonardo da Vinci win the heart of a certain beautiful but emotionless young woman. Win, and she does give a beautful smile, which inspires Leo to draw a certain famous painting.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • The first time Phoenix meets Maya, it is under rather miserable and unfortunate circumstances. When Maya at last flashes her signature cheerful grin, Phoenix notes that she looks like an entirely different person when she smiles.
    • In Case 2 of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies , Jinxie Tenma, the daughter of the defendent, usually has a an expression that ranges from gloomy to terrified. Which is no small part caused by her demanding job as a maid, her fear of Youkai, and her being in the middle of a merger that is resulting in a murder and the false accusation of her father and hero. By the end of the trial where her father is found innocent and debunking Tenma Taro's existence she is so relieved that she smiles for the first time in the whole Episode. Something that Apollo and Athena make note of.
    • Phoenix apparently also has this opinion of Edgeworth, telling him he should smile more at the end of Dual Destinies.
  • In Little Busters!, Nishizono Mio gets this treatment.
    Mio: I'm so glad.
    Riki: I am, too.
    Mio: ...Why?
    Riki: Because I now know you can smile like that.
  • Katawa Shoujo:
    • Hanako is both a Fragile Flower AND a Shrinking Violet because of her physical and mental scars caused by the fire that killed her parents. Her smile is recognized in-game as one of the most beautiful sights the protagonist has ever seen.
    • Shizune who normally has a very serious, almost bossy demeanor also seems to have a nice smile. At the very least, it's nice enough that Hisao tells her that she should smile more during her Act 1 ending.

    Web Comics 
  • Lillian in Go Get a Roomie!, as noted here aaaaand here.
  • In Dubious Company, after learning that Tiren almost got the team killed over a toy:
    Gen. Izor: Aren't you going to discipline her?
    Cap. Walter: Are you kidding? This is the first time I've seen her this happy while not being drunk, violent, or both.
  • In Narbonic, Helen describes Dave this way.
    Artie: You like his smile?
    Helen: It's rare, but when it's genuine, it simply lights up the room.
    Artie: Then why do you do such terrible things to him?
    Helen: Well, his scream is pretty cute too.

    Western Animation 
  • In Teen Titans, it's implied that Beast Boy feels this way toward Raven, as he puts immense effort into getting her to smile.
  • Sadness from Inside Out. She spends most of the movie frowning, moping, crying, and sometimes making sarcastic remarks. But the one or two occasions when she does smile...

Alternative Title(s):

When He Smiles