Stepford Smiler: Video Games

Female Examples

  • Vanille from Final Fantasy XIII is a perfect Type A example. Her unnaturally happy and positive attitude was just a way of running away from her past failures. She has an authentic death wish and blames herself for everything that has happened.
  • Sagiri from Suikoden V was trained to be this kind of character, a ruthless killer with a permanent smile on her face. By the time you meet her she's mostly rehabilitated, however she still finds herself unable to adopt any other expression.
  • Colette from Tales of Symphonia is a Stepford Smiler, always having a smile on her face, even as she starts to lose her humanity and later on starts slowly turning into a Cruxis Crystal while trying as hard as she can to keep it a secret from everybody.
  • Shiki from The World Ends with You has this as she tries to pretend to be her bubbly best friend because she feels the real her is worthless.
  • In Fire Emblem 7, the Cleric Serra is a mix of Genki Girl and Rich Bitch who acts like a princess... but truly is an orphan dropped at a small, miserable Ostian convent by an Etrurian clan in danger of being wiped away. Her parents never came back for her and she was badly traumatised by their abandonment. Get her to support with people like Hector or Lucius to get more details.
  • In the second game of Ar tonelico, this is Luca's defining feature. Becoming the Mask is the goal of her path, but she is very unpopular among many players who feel she hit a Moral Event Horizon somewhere along the line.
  • Melody from Rune Factory is a Type A example.
  • In System Shock 2 you find the protocol droids, robots made to work like secretaries, greet people, give directions, etc. When they turn against you, they walk around searching for you, saying things like "Where are you, sir?" "I cannot help you if you keep hiding. "Please wait, I can offer you my assistance.". When they get near to you, they FRIGGIN EXPLODE.
  • Haru from Devil Survivor. Behind her typical idol singer personality lies a suicidal depression.

  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has Laughing Octopus. She's got a really good reason, though.
  • Miranda Lawson from Mass Effect 2 keeps trying to convince herself and everyone around her that she's happy and she's found her place in life, but that perpetual smile of her just screams "Fake!"
  • Atoli in .hack//G.U. Games is cheerful and bubbly, wants everyone to get along, and wants to be loved... and then you find out she's like that only because her total lack of self-esteem in real life, due to lifelong emotional abuse by her parents ("Girls should be quiet and unnoticeable!!"} and bullying by her schoolmates led her to browsing suicide websites where she met and found comfort in the player behind Sakaki, who was really only using her in order to assume control of Atoli's Epitaph, Innis the Mirage of Deceit.
  • GLaDOS from Portal. At first, she seems to be just a rogue AI gone insane, but the sequel develops the character further when you get to see the history of Aperture Science. GLaDOS used to be a human being that worked as a secretary named Caroline for scientist Cave Johnson. Johnson made it where after he passed on, he wanted the facility to be maintained under Caroline's control via uploading her mind to a computer. This made Caroline become GLaDOS where she would be forced to run tests in the name of science. Forever. It's understandable why GLaDOS would snap and start to actually like testing subjects just for the sake of testing because it was all she was made for and nothing else. When GLaDOS learns of her past, she actually becomes afraid of herself knowing that she used to be a person with emotions and feelings and that she can hear her own thoughts instead of ones programmed into her. In the ending of the game, GLaDOS seems happier knowing she saved Chell's life, but she then reverts back to her cynical and somewhat unstable self because it's all she is used to.
  • Barbie from Barbie Super Model never stops smiling, although she seems to just be genuinely happy all the time. This isn't too surprising since the game was based on a franchise of dolls with painted-on smiling faces.
  • Litchi Faye-Ling from BlazBlue is Type A. On the outside and towards the people of Orient Town, she is highly sociable, kind, compassionate and caring doctor who is idolized by pretty much everyone, and it might not be a lie at all, she's deep down kind hearted. However, she never told anyone about her own problems, that being a desperate lover with Guilt Complex, especially for letting her lover turn into an Eldritch Abomination, injects herself with the same corruption which granted her power and looking for a cure and in the same time rotting her body away, and she'd rather bear the burden herself than worrying those she cared about with it. Hazama managed to find out her face behind her smiler face and used that to manipulate her to get her Forced Into Evil under the guise of eventual survival from the escalating corruption and the chance to cure that lover. Which in turn, made her pull a new mask in front of Rachel: She pretends that only her lover needs help and she's the only one who can, while in truth, she also needs help as well when the other source of help (Kokonoe) flat out refused to help. Unfortunately, Rachel bought that mask and dismisses her as an obsessed idiot who chose the wrong side.
  • Carol in Mitsumete Knight. She became this because she was frequently bullied in her childhood and had no friends. She posed as a Genki Girl in order to remedy this, and sadly this worked all too well.
  • Daniella/The Maid from Haunting Ground certainly qualifies; for her first few appearances in the game, she is polite and courteous to Fiona, only to reveal her truly Ax-Crazy nature during the game's second act.
  • Touhou: Type B. Koishi Komeiji is a cheerful child outside, but she's as hollow as possible inside- she's close to the state of "no-mind" according to Buddhism. Confirmed by the local Buddhist nun Byakuren.
  • Aerie in Baldur's Gate II is type A. She’s very depressed due to a traumatic past, but tries to look cheerful despite for it.
  • The Ring: Terror's Realm: Meg wears a smile throughout the Survival Horror game.

Male Examples

  • Zelos from Tales of Symphonia is a Stepford Smiler, as he struggles to hide a truly twisted past behind a mask of frivolity and promiscuity. At certain points of the story he offhandedly hints about his past, before laughing whatever he said off as lies or changing the subject. Whether he's lying or telling the truth is left to the viewer, unless they go out of their way to see a cutscene where he openly reveals his past to the main protagonist.
  • Another example is Jade Curtiss from Tales of the Abyss. He does it due to being The Stoic, and to mask feelings of guilt and inadequacy over accidentally killing his teacher, then spending nearly ten years cloning her over and over again, only to kill the faulty clones when they failed to have her memories and thus truly be able to replace the mentor he'd lost. Plus, it helps a Deadpan Snarker to keep a straight face.
    • Easier to miss is Guy Cecil, born Gailardia Galan Gardios of Hod and heir to the title of Count, whose family was killed by Luke's father when he was only a small child, and who has spent the years since then acting as a servant in the Fabre household and planning to kill them all as revenge for his family's death. He gets better as the game goes on, but some scenes still clearly show that he has anger issues hidden very thoroughly under that cheerful smile.
  • Forde from Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. He states in one of his supports that he acts cheerful and relaxed mostly to keep his friends and companions happy in the middle of the war.
  • Henry from Fire Emblem Awakening. It's readily apparent that he's not quite right in the head due to the fact that he's always smiling, even when talking about morbid subjects like torture.
    • His type of Stepford Smiling actually depends: the Japanese version he's a straight Type A pretending to be a Type C. The English version is rather unclear on the issue, though it seems to lean more toward Henry genuinely being exactly as cheerful as he says he is with a side order of crazy along for the ride.
    • Libra as well. Tharja is actually disturbed when she finds out exactly how dark his soul is due to his Dark and Troubled Past.
    • Inigo is a straighter example. His father wonders how he could be such a Pollyanna when he came from a Bad Future. This prompts Inigo to snap at him, explaining that he's that way to keep the others' spirits up.
  • Creepy Child Chris from The King of Fighters fits this trope very well, as he's almost a modern version of the aforementioned Soujirou. Always with a smile in his face, even when killing random people. The fact that he's the Big Bad's host doesn't help, either.
  • In Backyard Basketball, Kevin Garnett serves this purpose. He is Type A
  • Persona 4 has Adachi who is a Type C example.
    • Also Kou, one of the social link characters, fits Type A. Meanwhile, Teddie is a Type B. He gets better.
    • Yosuke could also be seen as a Type A, according to his Shadow.
    • It also has Nanako, the protagonist's cousin, and Rise who are both Type A's.
    • The protagonist himself can come off as one as well, if one opts to max out all Social Links in the same playthrough.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has the Happy Mask Salesman: He seems to be generally happy, but come back to him without the money you owe (or without his stolen mask) and his broad smile turns into a furious grimace as he starts threatening you.
  • Rupin in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. He even lampshades this habit when you talk to him during nightime.
  • Nessiah is a combination of the A and C types in Blaze Union; his gentle and polite demeanor hides a thousand years' worth of pain, suffering, and Sanity Slippage.
  • Zevran from Dragon Age: Origins appears to be cheerful and easygoing, despite being a Death Seeker
  • Hazama/Terumi Yuuki of BlazBlue has a mask of being a very polite intelligence officer who is inept at combat and as such hates it in the first game but is really a sick sadist who is either personally behind, directly involved in or can be linked to EVERYTHING bad in the BlazBlue universe. His reason? Just because he can and it amuses him. He gave up the pretense in the second game as it was clear he's the Big Bad and it wasn't fooling anyone anyway.
  • Hope is implied to be a Type A in Final Fantasy XIII-2. When Serah and Noel first meet him, he mentions that everyone he was friends with disappeared from his life immediately after the fall of Cocoon. Becomes more explicit in Academia 4XX - Hope sends himself on a one-way trip 400 years into the future because his father had died and there was nothing left for him in his own time.
  • Shorty in Nancy Drew and the Secret of Shadow Ranch acts like a pleasant, cheery person right up until the end, where it turns out that he's the ringleader of a gang of criminals responsible for several acts of robbery and sabotage, and is perfectly willing to kill and deceive to get what he wants.
  • Shade in Borderlands 2: Captain Scarlett and her Pirate's Booty, is most definitely not the only living person in Oasis! He's rigged up the bodies of a few people with crutches and speakers, posing them in "lifelike" positions and using pre-recorded ECHO tapes to create the illusion that they are still alive and capable of meaningful social interactions (he's either not aware of or willingly ignores tape malfunctions). He even went to the trouble of recording a rejection to a marriage proposal. He doesn't want the Vault Hunter to leave so soon, before they've gotten to know each other, but he can't really stop them (both because he's a dehydrated, delirious civilian compared to an armed and armored Vault Hunter and he's a quest-giving NPC so he can't leave his booth). Upon learning that there was an underwater cavern filled with water directly under Oasis, he descends into tragic laughter.
  • Several examples certainly exist in League of Legends:
    • Luxanna 'Lux' Crownguard is a seemingly chipper girl-next-door prodigious mage in service of Demacia and seems content in serving the nation (considering it also has her brother Garen). During 'League Judgment', a test to see if a candidate's worthy of being a champion for the League of Legends, it's revealed that Lux actually joins the League because she feels empty, being dragged into military service against her will, dragged away from home in tears, completely exhausted Lux's mentality and at this point, joining the League is all she had in life. This creates an eerie dissonance with her usually Annoying Laugh that players tends to abuse, because it can be easily misinterpreted with Lux snapping and Laughing Mad.
    • Sona Buvelle is at first an innocent, gentle-hearted and sweet Cute Mute musician, always trying to keep her fans content with her music. There's just one thing the fans didn't know and also revealed in her League Judgment: Her musical instrument, Etwahl, just refused to be separated from Sona, and the last time her beloved stepmother Lestarra tried to claim it... the instrument killed Lestarra with Sona unable to do anything because she's mute. She claims that she's trying to discover the extent of the instrument's power, but it's quite clear that Lestarra's death continued to haunt Sona despite her usual gentle demeanor.

Mixed Gender Examples

  • The humanoid Nobodies from Kingdom Hearts are the Empty Shell variation of Type B; their supposed emotions are an act, based on their human memories. Behind this facade, however, they're this trope. Supposedly. Really, they were effectively brainwashed into this trope by their leader Xemnas as a way of trying to separate them from their sense of self. They can feel emotion and form connections with people, and in doing so, can regain their hearts. However, Xemnas, and Xehanort's, plan requires them to remain empty shells that he can use for living Soul Jars.
  • The backstory for the Pleasant family in The Sims 2 is scripted like this: Mary Sue and Daniel have a perfect suburban life. He's shtupping the maid, she's about to get fired, and their daughters hate each other.
  • Given that it's set in The Fifties, many civilians in Destroy All Humans! fall under this heading, particularly the residents of Santa Modesta. Quite naturally, these suburbanites like to present themselves as flawless and content, but a quick peek at their thoughts reveals that the men only manage to suppress their psychotic rage with their collective obsession with lawnmowers and automobiles, and the valium-addicted women are engaged in fierce and unending competition over the best home and garden, broken only by tupperware parties and neglected children. Exactly one citizen manages to realize how miserable she really is, and in the end, she decides to drown her sorrows in cheap meaningless sex. And of course, being an alien invader, you have the opportunity to put every last depressive one of them out of their misery in the most painful way possible.
  • Fallout 3
    • There's a whole town of Stepford Smilers, well-groomed but down-to-earth, assured Andale is the best little town, that their blessed country will protect them from the commies, and that all is right with the world. This being Fallout, of course, things find room to go downhill.
    • There's a woman in the small town of Arefu who seems to have gone completely delusional and pretends that she is living in a beautiful pre-war suburb. She hands the player rusty tin cans, proclaiming they're her prized batches of chocolate chip cookies. Ironically, she's never even experienced life before the war.
  • Psychonauts features both a female and male example. Crystal and Clem are two seemingly cheerful and enthusiastic campers who like to root their fellow campers on (especially Raz)... and also harbor suicidal tendencies. Most of this is Played for Laughs: "I feel so stupid for throwing myself off the roof!" "Why did you throw yourself off the roof?" "Because the poison didn't work, duh!"
    • A more depressing version is Milla, a perpetually cheerful party girl who hides the fact that she worked at an orphanage that burned down, killing all inside. As if that wasn't enough, she also wound up psychically hearing their screams for help as they died. Interpretations vary with the player with some seeing her as someone who's coped with the trauma in her past. Word of God says it's the latter, and that "locking up" nightmares is a perfectly healthy way of dealing with that level of trauma.
    • By comparison, twice in Boyd Cooper's mind, you get assaulted by nightmares and have to fight them as minibosses. So it would seem that in the metaphorical context of things, nightmares being "locked up" is more a sign that you've dealt with them and have them under control, rather than that you're suppressing them.
  • Louis from Left 4 Dead display type B. In the events of The Sacrifice comic, Louis had to kill a person who attacked him in a bathroom stall (the person became an infected or "zombie") and saw the destruction of his workplace and the city from the viral outbreak, testing his will since he always had a positive outlook in life. Louis still holds the "everything will get better" attitude, even after he and the other survivors had to endure 2-3 weeks of fighting zombies and escaping from an overzealous military force. Francis calls Louis out on this a few times, telling him that continuing to believe things will return to normal is foolish and/or insane thinking and that they are going to have to get used to striving to survive as long as they live. In the final part of the comic, Louis starts to crack when he believes there is no escape from the bridge they're on and asks his fellow survivors to kill him so the zombies won't kill him instead.
  • Any game from Zynga. In Cityville, it's just getting scary with how everyone always smiles and looks so cutesy. A few of my contacts have named their cities Stepford for this very reason.
  • In Mass Effect, due to all the crap they've been through, either gender of Commander Shepard is this by the third game. The mask itself cracks over the course of the entire game, revealing the deeply Shell-Shocked Veteran underneath.
  • Nearly the entire population of the world in Final Fantasy X is this way due to the Crapsack World setting. Sin, a whale monster that is size of a city, roams around the world and destroys everything in its path. The populace is lead to believe from the Church of Yevon that if everyone atones for their sins, then the Sin monster will go away for good. Despite people trying to do this for 1000 years, Sin still exists and you can see people trying not to crack as they keep insisting that things will be ok if they keep atoning for their sins, despite the fact that they know things have not changed for so long. You eventually find people that finally break out of their stepford smiler state and wonder if things are just hopeless.
    • Tidus' Idiot Hero persona is mostly just an act to deal with his angst over his Disappeared Dad. And he has a more traditional Stepford Smiler moment later on, after discovering that defeating Yu Yevon will end his own existence.
    • Yuna is like this too. Defeating Sin would mean her death; to add onto this, Tidus unintentionally teases her with promises of taking her to see his Zanarkand after her pilgrimage is over. Naturally, this causes her a great deal of emotional pain, and the only thing that really keeps her going is knowing that she is Spira's salvation and that she'd die a martyr. She breaks down when she learns that Yevon is corrupt, but later finds the strength to carry on and find another way.
  • Laughing Octopus isn't the first Stepford Smiler in the Metal Gear series. Chronologically, the first would be the Sorrow, who is ALWAYS shown smiling whenever the player sees him, but...
  • Phone Guy from Five Nights at Freddy's is this (or as much as a character we never see can be) in all three games. He's remarkably calm for someone explaining the horrible aspects of his job to his successor. Even on Night 4, when he's attacked and killed by what sounds like all of the animatronics, he asks if you could "check inside of those suits in the back room?" and says he's "gonna try to hold out until someone checks... Maybe it won't be so bad." before giving a simple "Oh no..." The only time we hear anything resembling distress in his voice is on Night 6 of the second game, when he asks why you're at work on that day and explains that "someone used one of the suits... we had a spare in the back - a yellow one - someone used it..."