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Dissonant Serenity

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Hmm, flaming robot. Interesting. Hum.

"Your serene expression... It doesn't belong here, in this carnage."

There's maiming and killing afoot. Screaming and cursing, the clattering of swords, gunfire. Faces distorted with pain and hate. It's terrifying, but it is to be expected.

But what about when you see peace in the middle of horror? One is smiling — not viciously, not insanely, not stoically — but calm, gentle... seeming almost enlightened as they slit throats left and right. They are the eye of the storm, the calm center of destruction, and their serenity is so off that it's more terrifying than any fury. Whereas many see this as a day of horrible bloodshed, this one is seemingly about as used to it as to a day of grocery shopping, and even if the chaos around them does genuinely bother them at all, chances are they will react with all the shock and terror of accidentally spilling coffee on their brand-new pants.

Villains and heroes can be dissonantly serene in battle mode, but it's rarely the main character who does that. Mysterious and frail-looking characters of whom one wouldn't expect such prowess often make it look like the easiest thing in the world to vanquish the enemy.

Another deceivingly harmless state of mind, although uncomprehending: Psychopathic Manchild, who often has a Lack of Empathy. Also likely to overlap with While Rome Burns. The Comically Serious is this trope Played for Laughs. Tranquil Fury seems similar on paper but is very different in practice. May cross over with Moment of Silence. Expect this character to be Strolling Through the Chaos while speaking in a Danger Deadpan. If the character is drowning at the time, it's Symbolic Serene Submersion. Compare Dissonant Laughter, The Slow Walk, Major Injury Underreaction, Unfazed Everyman, Conditioned to Accept Horror, But for Me, It Was Tuesday, Obviously Not Fine, and Ominous Adversarial Amusement.

The opposite of this trope is Felony Misdemeanor, which involves a character overreacting to trivial wrongs as if they were serious.


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  • An advertisement for Amazon's Alexa service features a bunch of Italians fleeing the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and a modern-day father standing around calmly holding a piece of toast, summoning one of panicked citizens over and asking What Year Is This? The panicked Italian tells him "It's 79 A.D., Run for you life!" Back at home in the present day, he reports this date to his daughter who is doing homework, claiming to have just remembered it.
  • The IFAW's anti-puppy farming Public Service Announcement Suzy Puppy, where the narrator cheerfully talks about Suzy's various illnesses, the cruel fate of her mother (who spent her life in a dark cage), and worst of all, that Suzy will be dead within weeks (which we see at the end when a little girl has to bury Suzy).

    Anime & Manga 
  • 7 Seeds: So the Final Test is upon the candidates who want to be chosen to be sent to the future, which includes cutting them off from previous comforts like running water, gas and even the dorms they have seen as a home, with the likely consequences that people will die? All Ayu has to say about this is that it's good since things will be finally decided upon properly, with a sweet smile on her face.
  • In the anime adaptation of 11eyes, Yuka progressively becomes one as the mixture of the pressure of the Red Night, the constant near-death situations and her increasing jealousy of the other girls mentally break her.
    • To some extent, Yukiko fits this trope when she has her glasses on in the Red Night, where she keeps her upbeat attitude. She is unaffected by the grave situation, due to having lived through much worse in her youth as a child soldier
  • Shin demonstrates this in the Area 88 OVA. When confronted by three Paris thugs, Shin just smiles. He remains calm as he snatches a knife from one of the thugs and hurls it into a robber's shoulder. The thugs are completely unnerved. Given that Shin is struggling with war trauma, his dissonant serenity is a sign that something is off.
  • Shiota Nagisa from Assassination Classroom outwardly looks like a sweet little slightly androgynous milquetoast kid. And he will continue to look like that even as he makes elite veteran soldiers shit bricks with the sheer Killing Intent hiding just underneath the surface.
  • Most of the Titans from Attack on Titan wander around with a creepy smile (or another expression) plastered to their faces as they seek out and devour people. They look like they're stoned out of their minds. Depending on who you ask, this either makes them unintentionally hilarious or extremely unnerving. Actually justified in that Titans are normal people who are trapped in an eternal Lotus-Eater Machine, so it would make sense that their Titan forms look very blissed-out and high as the sky. Some of the human characters fight like this too, primarily Levi.
    • Among the Shifters, the Beast Titan is this, constantly wearing a sweet smile, even right before condemning Mike Zacharius to an excruciating death by being torn limb-to-limb by a group of Titans. Apart from the gore that follows, the casual way this cruel deed occurs makes this among the most unsettling scenes in the series.
    • A case Played for Laughs is when Eren starts to regain his senses after emerging from his Titan form for the first time. The first thing he says is "you are all going to die..", with a sheepish grin and relaxed expression. Armin's subsequent reaction is priceless, especially since Eren, Armin, and Mikasa are currently being held at gunpoint and Eren isn't exactly helping.
    • Played terrifyingly straight during Eren and Reiner's reunion after the four-year time skip, especially considering how their previous interactions saw Eren promising to "make them suffer and die in the most painful way possible." Reiner even asks him about it to which Eren replies with an almost sheepish head scratch: "I vaguely recall saying that... Let's just forget about it." What makes it worse is that Eren's voice did not rise above a whisper during their entire conversation, even while grilling Reiner as to why his mother had to die during his, Bertholdt's, and Annie's assault on Wall Maria, or when he casually revealed to Falco that essentially doomed Marley when he sent Eren's letters for him. He finishes their conversation by stating that he and Reiner are the same before he hits them with the Wham Line, "I just keep moving forward... until I destroy my enemies," while his eyes glow and lightning surrounds him.
  • Natsume from Beelzebub is almost invariably smiling, even while his (albeit short so far) fights.
  • In Black Butler, the demonic butler Sebastian is a master of Dissonant Serenity.
  • Black Clover: The true Big Bad, Lucius Zogratis is constantly seen with a pleasant smile and a smooth-talking demeanor, contrasting his Dark Triad siblings who are either boisterous crazies out for blood or a Perpetual Frowner. But when he tells Asta that he will kill him as "the world's flaw", he means it and he will go straight into business. The Paladin minions he creates are just as bad in that department, with Sister Lily in particular still acting like she was the old Sister Lily, but her mindset is all rubbed in the wrong directions.
  • Hansel and Gretel from Black Lagoon. Seriously, they rival Johan when it comes to cheerfully and politely committing unthinkable atrocities.
    • While Revy normally displays a wide range of emotions, all the way from affection to psychotic rage, she seems to settle on a mix of tranquility and boredom whenever she comes down with Whitman Fever.
    • Balalaika even more so. Nothing says "I love my job" like grinning while snapping a Yakuza leader's neck, stopping to engage in a philosophic debate about the nature of the human condition with a would-be assassin whom she has just had shot or politely apologizing to Lagoon Company for any inconvenience they may have experienced during their last mission which ends with some unlucky bastard's apartment exploding.
      • What about Sawyer the Cleaner, who smiles cheerfully when she's gotten across that the smell that people were complaining about was the ooze from some bodies that decomposed badly before she was called in while everybody else is losing their lunch? Or Claude "Torch" Weaver, who wields a flamethrower and casually talks about how he burned his wife to death in five minutes,, or Shenhua, who can calmly carry on a conversation with a woman she's trying to kill?
  • Sosuke Aizen from Bleach is the embodiment of this trope. It helps that to all appearances, his belief that he has nothing to worry about is entirely justified. It makes his loss of composure at the end of Deicide all the starker as a result.
    • Retsu Unohana definitely fits this trope really well as she always smiles even when she's threatening you.
    • And Gin is always smiling.
    • Mizuiro is this when he confronts Aizen. The others are panicking around him. Instead, he simply begins experimenting with Molotov cocktails and empty bottles with almost clinical detachment. He's more fascinated than afraid. His companions even point out how scary a person he is.
    • Learning the Final Getsuga Tenshou teaches Ichigo a level of calm that ends up being completely at odds with the fight he uses the technique in. Especially as Aizen begins to unravel into a Villainous Breakdown at the same time.
    • Tsukishima personifies this trope. He's screwed up Ichigo's friends and family and not only has he made them happy about it, but his polite, gentle manner actually creates the impression Ichigo is being completely unreasonable to be horrified by it.
  • Cat Soup: "Big sis, big sis, my arm came off."
  • Cells at Work!: In contrast to their hot-headed compatriots the Neutrophils and T Cells, the Macrophages are always oddly calm and cheerful even as they're ruthlessly butchering invasive organisms.
  • Makima in Chainsaw Man is an Emotionless Girl who always appears calm and dignified, speaking in a soft tone whether she's slaughtering enemies or making shady deals with the Yazuka. Nothing seems to faze her, and even her last moments have her express nothing more than mild surprise.
  • Many of the eponymous warriors in Claymore, but especially Teresa of the Faint Smile, who is named for her habitual demonstration of the trope. She never gets angry and keeps her slight, Mona-Lisa smile even when ripping an Awakened Being's arm off.
    • Priscilla's bored facial expression barely changes, even while she's killing Noel and Sophia and ripping off Ilene's arm, or single-handedly wasting Duff, Riful, Alicia and Beth. Emphasized even more in the anime, where she's voiced by the soft-spoken Aya Hisakawa.
  • Ogami from Code:Breaker, while burning a bunch of people to death. To quote Sakura, "He looked cold and peaceful... yet cruel."
  • From Code Geass, I give you Schneizel. Seemingly a kindly, reasonable fellow, greatly different from his siblings, he maintains a calm, serene demeanor throughout the entire series. He continues to have this serene manner even while ordering the deaths of millions, announcing to his sister his plans for global domination, and gunning that sister down when she tried to stop him from nuking every major city on the planet, killing billions. What's that about reasonable again?
    • Rolo fits this trope, as well. In one sequence, he greeted some childhood friends with a warm smile before slaughtering them mercilessly.
  • Cowboy Bebop: When he's disposing of common thugs, Spike is absolutely nonchalant in his violence, making pummeling strikes and kicks look more like someone's morning stretches. This is in spite of gunshots and death threats being slung his way all the while. Against a more formidable foe, though, he gets more serious.
  • Contractors of Darker than Black frequently kill in gruesome ways with little emotion and no remorse.
  • Shiro from Deadman Wonderland. She's shown completely ripping apart a bunch of guards, and smiling an extremely childish and happy smile.
  • There's a sequence early on in Death Note where Light Yagami sets up criminals to die throughout the day. The animation contrasts scenes of prison inmates collapsing and dying of heart attacks, along with the general panic and confusion of the guards and the other inmates, with scenes of Light going about his normal routine, like casually walking through a shaft of sunlight on his way to school, cheerfully playing a game during gym class, and opening a bag of potato chips at lunch. The effect is magnificently creepy.
    • This becomes a critical fact at one point. While Light is being monitored by cameras from almost every angle, he still manages to write names on a hidden scrap of the Death Note without so much as batting an eyebrow. Even L remarks that Kira has already elevated himself to the level of God if he can knowingly kill people without the slightest change in expression.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba:
    • Rui's Soft-Spoken Sadist routine barely cracks no matter the pain he's inflicting. It's only very late in the fight that his tone starts to crack.
    • On the more heroic side, Shinobu Kocho's smile and gentle tone don't falter as she interrogates and kills Older Sister. It's more than a little unnerving.
  • The climax of the Kyoto arc in Descendants of Darkness: Tsuzuki has just stabbed Muraki, and called out Touda to burn down the lab. As the place burns and breaks down, he sits there numbly, doing nothing. It takes Hisoka to get him to even consider not staying there to die.
  • Takeru (TK) has a touch of this in Digimon Adventure 02. Normally his reaction to seeing Digimon attacked or manipulated by evil is outright anger and fury (a result of the childhood trauma of watching his own Digimon die), but in his confrontation with the Digimon Kaiser, he suddenly gains a strange Dissonant Serenity and calm smile, while catching a whip in his bare hand and turning Crusader From Hell on everyone.
  • The Diclonii from Elfen Lied are masters of this, especially Lucy. The anime opens with her calmly walking through a high-security military unit, stark naked but for a large metal helmet, gently humming to herself whilst hideously ripping apart and mutilating dozens of soldiers. But, this is after all the breaking they have endured, so calling their emotions this is fearsome.
  • Lust and others in Fullmetal Alchemist.
    • King Bradley. Even when stabbing Marta, who was hiding inside Al's armor he had that gentle smile on his face. Especially ironic in Brotherhood and the manga, since he's the sin of Wrath.
    • Ling Yao was this up until Lan Fan was injured.
  • Kamui from Gintama is like this sometimes.
  • Tohma Seguchi from the Gravitation series is an example of this. Many times during the manga, as the antics of those around him decimate whole sections of Tokyo, Tohma calmly assesses and responds in an eerie calm, only fully losing his temper once in the series upon seeing a re-creation of his best friend's most traumatic moment.
  • Hosaka of Good Luck! Ninomiya-kun. He always wears a calm smile and speaks in a polite manner even as he throws Shinobu out of a helicopter and curb stomps Shungo with the intent to kill him in the last episode.
  • While granting that like his other murders, it's kind of unclear whether or not it was intentional, the Claw in GUN×SWORD exhibits this strongly in a scene where he deals with a mutinous subordinate. Personality-wise, the Claw is an affable Friend to All Living Things. So, he offers the subordinate a handshake (cue him squeezing the guy's hand hard enough to crack bone). Then, the Claw says that if the guy doesn't want a handshake, how about a hug. Not only is the hug also hard enough that you hear bones breaking, but when the Claw strokes the guy's back with his clawed hand, it's implied (but not shown) that he is ripping open his flesh. Throughout this horrible scene, the Claw is speaking in a gentle voice.
  • This is the default for girls in Gunslinger Girl. They look calm and stoic even when gunning down people.
  • In Heat Guy J, there are a few instances in which Clair Leonelli will pull out a weapon or describe something evil and horrible but his voice will remain fairly calm and even, probably to convey that he sees nothing off about his behavior even if everyone else does. As a case in point, his Establishing Character Moment involves him flinging a grenade at his father's grave, and saying quite calmly and cheerfully, "Papa. It's fireworks. You loved them, right?" before breaking into an Evil Laugh.
    • Itsuki as well, often creeping out Kyon due to his constant smile capable of resisting the possibility of an "End of the World" Special.
  • Russia from Hetalia: Axis Powers. He acts rather childish and sweet, even when saying something threatening or disturbing.
  • Nurse Takano Miyo from Higurashi: When They Cry often talks in a calm, friendly tone about horrible ritualistic murders. Considering that most of the rest of the cast tends to go psychotically Ax-Crazy, her nonchalant attitude sticks out. Especially when she’s revealed as the Big Bad and murders the gang in Minagoroshi-hen, whereupon she proceeds to drop the act and laugh like a madwoman, especially in the manga where her face distorts terrifyingly when she wins.
  • Charles-Henri from Innocent is show like this on several pannels representing executions.
  • To a certain extent, Hisoka in Hunter × Hunter.
    • Even more so, Chrollo. Being a nihilist that is not afraid to die, his heartbeat wouldn't change even in the slightest when kidnapped by Kurapika to be used as a bargaining chip for saving Gon and Killua from the Genei Ryodan.
    • Shalnark blurs the line between this and Psychopathic Manchild. He sees the people he manipulates as toys and expresses childlike disappointment when they get killed.
  • Kaiju Girl Caramelise: Arata Minami's sister says that when Harugon appeared in town the previous night, Arata was so giddy about getting to brag to his classmates about his new girlfriend Kuroe Akaishi that he just sat there smiling while ignoring the emergency alert. Kuroe, who secretly is Harugon, subsequently insists to Arata that he pay attention to the alerts.
  • Karakuridouji Ultimo: Ultimo is a robot boy that embodies good and is always smiling. Even as he tells he is threatening his mortal enemy, ripping off one of his arms or indirectly killing nearby civilians during their fights, the smile never leaves.
  • Shou Kano in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple has a tendency to occasionally laugh cheerfully and apparently without malice while utterly destroying his opponents. Generally, these are the fights that don't really have any personal meaning to him: other fights reveal something more along the lines of a Slasher Smile or at least a businesslike attitude.
    • Later on, we're introduced to one of the assistant instructors of Diego "Laughing Fist" Carlos, the Meatman, a rather large warrior who was charged with ensuring that a bomb on the ship that several of the characters are riding goes off. When asked what he thinks will happen to HIM when the bomb goes off (by the characters who were trying to disarm it and therefore have to get past him first), he responds that he'll "calmly defeat" them and then run away before the bomb blows up.
  • Nui Harime from Kill la Kill a girl in pink lolita clothing who is always cheery, even when spouting venomous comments, when fighting, and even when telling Ryuko that she was the one who killed her dad. Subverted in the last episodes when she gets her arms lopped off, causing her to Freak Out and go through a Villainous Breakdown.
  • Downplayed with Fuu in Magic Knight Rayearth. When it comes to battle she reacts as you'd expect. But with other kinds of physical danger (or when Cephiro is being plain weird) she reacts by getting really, really smiley and polite. Usually with flower effects in the background.
  • Phantom Thief Sai from Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro.
    • The lead Negi Springfield does this during his Unstoppable Rage against Wilhelm.
    • Seeing Fate Averruncus display anything other than that look of utter calm on his face is so rare as to be unheard of. Even when he's caught completely off-guard (does not happen often) or is losing a fight (happens even less often), his face betrays only the slightest hint of surprise or annoyance.
  • Medaka Box: Both Kumagawa and Zenkichi are the Trope Codifiers; Kumagawa brings a creepy edge to it, while Zenkichi is much more sincere.
  • In The Stinger for Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury episode 12, Suletta Mercury saves Miorine Rembrane and her father from a terrorist by flattening him into paste via the Gundam Aerial Rebuild's hand. Suletta proceeds to get out of the cockpit, slip on the bloody mess... and laugh about how much of a klutz she is, holding out her bloodied hand to Miorine and declare she's here to save her with a humongous smile on her face. A rightfully terrified Miorine can only stammer "How... how can you smile like that? Murderer!"
  • In Mon Colle Knights, the busty Gluuko gets high marks for maintaining a cheerful expression all the freaking time, even when it's clear that she and her Terrible Trio Teammates Out Shopping, Count Collection and Batch, are on the losing side (which they always are).
  • In the Umi-Bozu arc of Mononoke, each of the characters, in turn, are shown illusions of their worst fears. After screaming, crying, collapsing and a character throwing up over the edge of the ship, it's the Medicine Seller's turn... and we're treated to a scene of him dissolving into nothingness. Outside of staring at his hands as they disappear, he has no reaction, but quietly closes his eyes and waits for it to finish.
    • The Medicine Seller actually does this quite a bit — given the things he dedicates his life to hunting are eldritch monsters and people are occasionally slaughtered graphically right in front of him, he has very little emotion to offer. Comparing the earlier example to his common behavior suggests he's not as unaffected as he seems — after the illusion ends, we're treated to a camera shot that lingers on his tightly-clenched hands.
  • Johan in Monster is this trope. To the most frightening degrees possible. Those moments when he doesn't have that expression end up equally terrifying.
  • Shizuru from My-HiME manages to maintain her calm demeanor even when she goes a-huntin' for blood. This change also comes with what appears to be a pair of colorless Mind-Control Eyes.
  • Naruto has a group of characters raised on Tranquil Fury (ANBU), but Sai seems to be a special exception that falls into this.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: One of Evangeline A.K. McDowell's moments during the Kyoto Arc involved this. Give that girl her powers back for a little while and she'll freeze the world with the snap of her fingers and a smile on her face.
  • Kaworu in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Also, during Third Impact, Giant Naked Rei/Lilith is smiling peacefully, and she maintains this same smile even as her body falls apart.
    • Rebuild 2.22 starts out with Mari sitting in Evangelion Provisional Unit-05, about to fight an Angel, and she's happily singing while chasing the thing. Hell, her only worry is that her Plugsuit is a bit too tight on her breasts! Later, while Shinji is causing Near-Third Impact, everyone is scared out of their minds, but Kaji and Mari just take it easy.
      • In Rebuild 3.33, Mari says she's actually interested in seeing what will happen when the 12th Angel dies, and a few minutes later, sits in her entry plug, drinking tea from bottles... while Unit-13 is causing the Fourth Impact! The girl really needs to learn something about appropriate behaviour.
  • Kirika from Noir: from beginning to end, she never displays anything other than calm concentration while killing hundreds of people.
    • Altena also qualifies, and her creepy-ass village of Noir worshippers/sacrificial lambs that suddenly pull out guns and start killing elite members of the Soldats could also qualify.
  • In between fluctuations from unbridled fury to calm brutality to psychotic glee, Rob Lucci gets a couple of moments of this in his fight with Luffy in One Piece.
    • Anyone with the Will of D in the series always has a wide smile on their faces when faced with death. Gol D. Roger, Jaguar D. Saul, and Portgas D. Ace had these smiles before they died, so did Luffy during the Loguetown arc when Buggy was about to execute him.
    • Nico Robin fits this trope she often explains how she and her group can die in a situation well smiling. Her case is played for laughs however, especially at cases when all the Straw Hats express panic, yet she stoically stares or barely shows but a little fear.
    • Trafalgar Law defines this trope in his early appearances. Given the nature of his powers, and the fact that he's a Perpetual Smiler, his fights tend to lead to this.
  • In Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea, Manaphy was ironically happy to see Ash with Jackie's voice after it used Heart Swap in the Anime. It probably makes sense that Manaphy is too young to understand the danger.
  • Carol of Project ARMS is a cute little girl with the power to break and twist things with a thought. When she fights Ryo, she happily sets about breaking every bone in his body while laughing. "Yay!" Keith White would also count, when he gently hugs Alice while she cries to him about how she is under so much pressure and just wants to be free for once. He kindly tells her that it's clear that he needs to change how she and the other children are being treated — before signaling for the kids to be shot.
  • Kyubey of Puella Magi Madoka Magica keeps his Frozen Cat Smile and friendly voice, no matter what horrors are going on around him. Justified because he's a member of an alien race which is unable to feel any emotions (the ones that do are considered mentally ill). Mami usually fights like this, which backfires dramatically in episode 3 and we don't see her taking a fight seriously until The Movie; turns out she's ludicrously skilled and powerful.
  • Kasumi Tendo tends towards this in Ranma ˝ as the varying antics, feuds and outright wars brought on by Ranma's various fiancees and insecurities take their toll on the Tendo household she never, ever seems to break a sweat or be anything but utterly sweet and smiling (occasionally looking worried when something truly disastrous occurs).
  • Reborn! (2004): Byakuran is almost always seen with a polite smile and closed eyes. He only opens them when he is making a serious statement or is noticeably distressed.
  • Soujiro Seta in Rurouni Kenshin is a master of this. He has a good excuse.
  • Fumio from Saitama Chainsaw Shoujo: "When I started this chainsaw today... my heart stopped working."
  • Hakkai in Saiyuki is like this most of the time, utterly calm with a cheerful smile in battle and all other situations.
  • In Samurai Deeper Kyo, Kyo scares lots of people with his bloodlust in battle, but he is later repossessed by Kyoshiro, who scares people even more as he calmly slaughters elite mooks without showing any intensity in his expression.
  • Akira Hojo from Sanctuary.
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei has two: Oora Kanoko, who is characterized as being a constantly calm, mostly emotionless girl who wears her skirt with the side opening. She even walks through a huge prison fight at a jail, and calmly walks out of the prison during the carnage, with her shivering teacher by her side after freeing him. Second is Kafuka Fuura. She's always smiling. Even when her school is burning down, her father is killing himself, her mother is possessed, and her school is crumbling down. And yet she is still a very small one to Oora.
  • Seraph of the End: Crowley and especially Ferid have a friendly smile on their faces whenever they're committing atrocities. Ferid looks especially happy when he reminisces the times he killed Crowley's, Yuu's, and Mika's comrades and says "It was fun!"
  • As shown in Episode 8 of Servant × Service, Saya keeps that sweet smile of hers even with Cross-Popping Veins and a dark aura emanating from her while relaying a message to Jyoji via Yutaka that dragging a female (i.e. Lucy) into a date is awful.
  • Hao Asakura from Shaman King. Oh, dear god, HAO. He has quite a reputation for having that cheery smile on his face as he slaughters countless lives, especially lesser Shamans, including but not limited to almost all of the "pathetic" X-Laws. He even has his serenity when he does worse to Yoh by pulling out his soul and eating it in the fourth-to-last episode of the anime.
  • The Lord of Nightmares from Slayers Next embodies this trope, dishing out apocalyptic destruction while never once raising her voice above an emotionless monotone.
  • The Big Bad in Tales from Earthsea threatens to kill his reporting lieutenant with nothing more than a whisper in his voice and a smile on his face.
  • The original Ion from the Tales of the Abyss manga gaiden based on him. He almost always has a calm, friendly smile on his face even when he's killing one of his Replicas or talking about how the world is trash.
  • Yoshii Kazuho from Texhnolyze always has a calm, pleasant smile on his face, even as he goes around shooting people and blowing them up with bombs.
  • The Big Bad of Togari, Sena, is never shown without a calm smile plastered on his face, to contrast with Tobei's Unstoppable Rage. Not that he indulges in Tranquil Fury; he never even feels fury.
  • Seishirou in X/1999 and Tokyo Babylon.
  • Legato Bluesummers in Trigun.
    • And in some scenes of the Trigun Maximum manga, Knives butchers entire communities without any apparent emotion.
  • Grove from Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, when he does that spirit attack thing. In his case, it can be justified: When not in his spirit form, Grove is immensely weak and bedridden; using the power nearly kills him every time, but he's free from his crippled body while it's active.
  • Vampire Princess Miyu: "I will not return you to the darkness... You, I will burn to ashes".
    • And one short battle involved Miyu against a sexily-clad schoolgirl Shinma with a flute who sported a similar grin.
  • Haguro in Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest started as this, always calm and relaxed except for short bursts of Power Born of Madness physical violence. Then he suffered a Villainous Breakdown and got much, much worse.
  • Yuri!!! on Ice: In probably the most unsettling scene in the show, when Victor bursts into tears after Yuri proclaims he's retiring during the Grand Prix Finals, Yuri's reaction is to calmly reach out and pull back Victor's hair so he can watch him cry more closely, and basically say with with little tone or inflection, "I'm surprised to see you cry."
  • In Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead, Akira is so much happier now that he never has to go to work again that he's able to cheerfully relax and play video games on the roof of his apartment even while zombies lurk just below. Kencho feels the same way until they run out of electricity and food, forcing them to move elsewhere.

  • In the chaotic context of The Gates of Hell by Auguste Rodin, The Thinker's calm look of deep thought seems very out-of-place. He is surrounded by a crowd of writhing sinners seemingly caught in mid-motion as skeletal figures push them around.
  • The Last Supper: Bartholomew has slammed the table, James the Lesser is grabbing for someone's attention, Andrew can barely stand to hear any of this, Judas is hiding as best as he can, Peter is reaching over the table brandishing a knife, John is almost swooning, James the Great is keeping Thomas and Phillip from rushing Jesus, Matthew and Thaddeus are ambushing a dumbfounded Simon for information, and Christ... is solely focused on the bread and wine in front of him, with no regard for the panic of his followers. For reference, the painting depicts the moment during the dinner where Jesus reveals one of his followers will/has betrayed him to the Romans, and that he will soon be crucified.

    Comic Books 
  • Victor Ray from 100 Bullets is able to keep his emotions in check and can execute his mission utmost efficiency. One time he was able to give off a lecture about the origins of the trust IN THE MIDDLE OF A GUNFIGHT without even breaking a sweat.
  • In Blackest Night, Sinestro does this when he gains the power of The Entity, the Anthropomorphic Personification of Life.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes: Jan Arrah/Element Lad/the Progenitor in Legion Lost, when he explains to the Legion the horrors he's suffered that drove him UTTERLY INSANE. And then he kills one of them because he forgot who she was.
  • In Sin City, Kevin's facial expression never changes. He always has that calm, content face. All the time. And it's so fucking creepy.
  • Cyclops of the X-Men frequently displays this attitude in combat. Including, on at least two occasions, while fighting blind.
    Cyclops: You would not believe the day I'm having.
  • Ultimate X-Men: During "Return to Weapon X", Sabretooth has just burnt the secrets about Wolverine's old life, he has been filled with bullets, and tells him he will be a lab rat again for the foreseeable future... and Wolverine smiles. Sabretooth attacks him, wanting to know why he's smiling. It's because he's told SHIELD where to find Weapon X, and they're on their way.
  • X-23 often tends towards this. Unlike her father, Laura rarely loses her head in combat, and instead approaches killing with chillingly cold and collected detachment. If she's ever visibly angry when she's coming for you, you should be running. Fast.
  • James Stillwell in The Boys. As the head of Vought's Superhuman Development division he has a front row seat to all the lunacy and mayhem their superheroes cause but over the entire course of the series never deviates from looking calm, bored, or at worst mildly annoyed. The only indications that he's even capable of even feeling emotion are the fact that he supposedly cheered at his father's funeral and the Villainous Breakdown he suffers at the end of the series upon realizing that superheroes will never be marketable again.
    Homelander: Hmh. Still eighty over sixty. You're about to be torn limb from limb, and you're completely calm. I think I've finally met a superhuman...

    Fan Works 
  • In A Frozen Flower, Olive walks into Oprah's office only to find it full of juice, with the floors wet and sticky and half-consumed juice boxes torn open. In the center of it all is Oprah herself, who is calmly reading a case file and doesn't seem to notice the mess until she greets Olive, at which she simply chuckles and acts seemingly normal.
  • All Assorted Animorphs AUs: In "What if they saved Jake's family?", Tom is oddly cheerful while running for his life, either because he's glad he's not a Controller anymore, or because being a Controller for so long made him lose his marbles.
  • In Amazing Fantasy, Mistress Sinister cheerfully hums while doing her research, which involves vivisecting people and exposing them to chemical concoctions that cause them to breathe fire and die.
  • In Coveralls, Mulder's father smiles even though he has a large wound.
  • In Fairest (Afterandalasia), Snow White smiles serenely as the Evil Queen dances to death in burning hot shoes.
  • In Fairy Dance Of Death, Sakuya confronts Skarrip, who reveals itself as the NPC Loki, and then disappears, making her the new faction leader. Other players only know the last two, which are shocking enough. As for Sakuya,
    there came a point where the surrounding noise and chaos became so overwhelming that it circled back around on itself and elevated her to a state that was almost zen-like. It was not a state of peace, precisely… it was a state of detachment, like that of a person who has endured so much that they become numb to it. Her sister had once colorfully referred to it as having no fucks left to give.
  • Flawed Crystals has this after defeating the idealized versions of the Crystal Gems, Steven's description of his own corrupted state describes it as a great thing wheras the Crystal Gems are horrified. When they decide he needs to be cured of his corruption, Steven goes beserk and tries to poof them.
  • In Golden Threads Tie Us, Laurent looks perfectly calm and serene while he tells Serena she should leave him to his own devices in the middle of enemy territory because his life-threatening wounds will slow her down.
  • Satan when he punches a hole through Raphaels' chest in A History of Heaven and Its Angels, as Understood by the Archangel Gabriel.
  • In How the Light Gets In, Laurel is suddenly and inexplicably resurrected after being dead for 7 months. Virtually everyone is completely shocked by her presence, except for Diggle, who barely reacts. However, it's made clear he's just as thrown as the rest of them, he just isn't showing it. Felicity, who's freaking right the fuck out, eventually comments on it:
    Felicity: And you! Why are you so calm about this?
    Diggle: [calmly] Who says I'm calm?
    Felicity: Your general demeanor? Your lack of an expression? Take your pick!
    Oliver: You have been oddly silent.
  • In Infinity, Lindy invokes this after Fate and Chrono are badly injured, mainly because she would terrify everybody with her seething Mama Bear rage if she didn't. While she does manage to keep her emotions in check, she still ends up radiating a Killing Intent that scares poor Amy half to death.
  • When Tsuruya is almost thrown out of a school window to her death by one of Kyon's classmate in Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Kyon dangles him out of a window by the ankle and interrogates him, while making Shout Outs to The Dark Knight, among others.
  • The Night Unfurls:
    • Whether it be mentioning how someone tried to kill him, describing how he's going to kill another, or actually doing the killing left and right, the Hunter is always the calm in the middle of horror, anxiety and carnage. The word "serenely" is often used in tandem with any bloodshed that involves him. Many of his allies find it disconcerting that someone could react with casual indifference or even be in a good mood during such situations.
    • Evetta is poised and composed, behaving like her usual self even when two men are having the life choked out of them as she wills. Her reaction to a traitorous guard with his leg bent in the wrong direction is to tilt her head in curiosity, ask for the person who paid him, and bend his leg further.
  • In the vocaloid fanfic Rotting Camellias, Haku and Neru always act very calm, despite being part of a Circus of Fear that features all sorts of strange and horrible things.
  • Zirah from the Good Omens Fanfic The Sacred and the Profane to the effect that it gets him kicked out of Hell because it so creeps out the other demons.
  • Hinata in Yet again, with a little extra help could possibly rival Unohana.
  • Chara experiences something similar towards the end of you can only use your own. On the morning of the attempt to break the Barrier, during which they plan to commit suicide, they muse on how odd it is that they're feeling completely calm even though they were terrified leading up to both of their past suicide attempts. While nobody else notices the dissonance because nobody else knows they're planning to kill themself, they do manage to unnerve themself a bit.
  • The titular character in Orochimama gently chides a lieutenant for "making such a mess in her meeting room" after she impales him through the throat for questioning her. Though notably, she's only so calm because she has all of Orochimaru's memories.
  • Fate/Gamers Only: After Caster Cu explains the situation at Singularity F, Rikku says with a smile that everyone should take a break because Mash hasn't had the chance to have one yet, what with bleeding to death, becoming a Demi-Servant, and all the back-to-back battles. Plus she hasn't eaten since she got thrown into a battle simulation when she came to Chaldea.
    Tomoe Gozen: ...Master, you just said something terrifying while smiling...

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This is the primary weapon of the Ghosts in After Earth. Because the Ursa's one and only method of sensing its prey is to "smell" pheromones that are released by fear, the Ghosts can effectively disappear by controlling their emotions while in battle.
  • This may be a stretch for serenity, but Colonel Kilgore in Apocalypse Now doesn't act like a normal man surrounded by gunfire and explosions. "I love the smell of napalm in the morning."
  • Avatar:
    • Quaritch. While destroying the Na'vi home, killing several Na'vi in the process, he just sits back and sips on his coffee.
    • A pilot and scientist just went rogue to help two prisoners escape (those are the good guys, by the way.) He pauses just long enough to tell everyone "Masks on" before booting open the atmospherically sealed door, striding into the hangar and opening fire on the fleeing aircraft. After a total of about 45 seconds of taking careful aim, firing, and then looking angry/disappointed that they left, he's finally handed a mask, and it's shown that he was holding his breath the entire time while looking focused, if not placid. Colonel Badass indeed.
  • A character is disconcertingly calm while being gang-raped in Baise Moi. Guess who, shortly afterward, turns into a psychotic killer?
  • Batman: The Movie: The Dynamic Duo has escaped death once again! What do the bad guys do? Run around screaming, as expected. Except for the Riddler, who calmly sits down and begins plotting out the next scheme.
  • All versions of Battle Royale include the adviser explaining the rules cheerfully, which all include slaughtering your friends, but it's an even worse scene in the film since there's a video featuring a Genki Girl explaining everything cheerfully. The effect is very creepy.
  • In The Big Lebowski, after Walter infamously flips out over an alleged bowling infraction, he calms right back down immediately.
    The Dude: Will you just take it easy, Walter?
    Walter: I'm calmer than you are.
  • While nearly every character in Blue Velvet regards Frank Booth with fear whenever he's around, with even his lackeys sometimes feeling uncomfortable with him, his associate Ben is so unfazed by his extreme mood swings that he spends most of his screentime appearing on the verge of sleep. Frank finds his calmness very cool, calling him "one suave fucker". Ben's actor Dean Stockwell confirmed that he played him as being a heroin junkie.
  • Garland Greene from Con Air. He's a deranged serial killer who rarely changes his expression and speaks in a Creepy Monotone (and also a Deadpan Snarker with shades of Affably Evil). The serenity is most contrasting when the plane crashes, and he hilariously sings "He's got the whole world in his hands".
  • The Dark Crystal:
    • The urRu. When the Skeksis Chamberlain's hand is stabbed, his urRu counterpart says unemotionally, "So, my hand," when a deep gash appears in it. When one of them is consumed by fire, the urRu consumed by flames doesn't even murmur in the slightest, and the others glance but continue on unemotionally. This is justified in that they’re a species of Literal Split Personality; they’re the peaceful and passive components of the original urSkeks, and live in a perpetual half-dreaming state.
    • Jen himself when the castle is crumbling. He doesn't care about the danger of it coming down on him; he merely sits with Kira's corpse and mourns.
  • Event Horizon. "Where we're going, we won't need eyes to see." Also a pretty badass line even with no context at all. And you can twist it to work for so many different scenarios.
  • Gaear Grimsrud from the film Fargo is an almost mute and emotionless character... even when he is murdering innocents in cold blood and feeding his partners into wood chippers for mouthing off to him.
  • The record store owner in Fish Story is very calm about the fact that a meteor is hours away from destroying the Earth. The Champion of Justice also doesn't even flinch when the ferry gets hijacked.
  • Galaxy Quest: Fred is the inverse of Scotty — he's bizarrely calm (except when trying to use the digital conveyor), as this example demonstrates. It's implied that he's The Stoner (and it's confirmed in a deleted scene), but it makes him the most accepting of the fact that the Thermians defictionalized everything from the show, and even falls in love with one.
  • After the carnage in The Gallows, the police the police find Alexis calmly combing Pfeifer's hair: the two of them staring off into space with eerily calm expressions on their faces.
  • Dylan does this to throw off her friends in Geek Charming.
  • God Told Me To: one of the mass murderers investigated by detective Nicholas is a man who killed his family because "God told me to". When interrogated he described how he shot his wife and two kids while smiling pleasantly and answering politely the police's question, which only makes Nicholas angrier.
  • Gunfight at the O.K. Corral — A group of cowboys comes into Dodge City and start shooting up the town. Doc Holliday calmly continues to play blackjack because he's on a winning streak. His opponent isn't so calm.
  • The Todd Solondz film Happiness features a scene where manic depressive pedophile, Bill Maplewood, nonchalantly guns down random people in a peaceful park while stereotypically soothing music plays in the background (this turns out to be a dream though). Yep, it's that kind of movie.
  • John Ryder from The Hitcher, who never loses his calm as he continues killing people in gruesome ways.
  • In Inception, when the dream is collapsing and everyone else is running around frantically, what does Mal do? She calmly walks through the destruction and is amused at how Dom gave Saito the wrong documents.
  • Kelly's Heroes has 'Oddball'. He's a 'Proto-Beatnik' (it's only the 1940s) and thrives on 'positive waves'. He also settles down for a picnic deep inside enemy territory while his crew tries to fix their damaged equipment, since "...everybody here seems so friendly." Oh, and did we mention he's the best damn tank commander in the whole division?
  • Played for laughs with Roy in Knight and Day, who always, always, always stays calm, collected, and prone to Casual Danger Dialogue, even while hanging from the hood of a speeding car, getting literally thrown around a kitchen, or gunning down waves of mooks. However, rather than being a Consummate Professional, he's a bit of a Cloud Cuckoolander.
  • Dorian Gray in the live-action adaptation of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. When The Phantom's soldiers begin wrecking his house, he strides calmly through the firefight, looking utterly bored as he stabs people left and right. When one of the soldiers fills his entire torso with lead, he just stands there, takes a deep breath, and then cuts off the guy's breastplate and stabs him. As soon as the guy falls, he takes the handkerchief out of his breast pocket, wipes the sword clean with it, and puts it back in a dignified manner.
  • The Professional: When Norman Stansfield is killing Mathilda Lando's family, he cheerfully hums along to the classical music in his headphones.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • Loki in The Avengers rarely, if ever, loses his cool, looking quietly amused even while he attempts to conquer Earth. It's a sign of his impending Villainous Breakdown when he starts showing other emotions in the final battle, going very quickly from a Single Tear when fighting Thor to a full-on A God Am I rant when faced with the Hulk — which ends as well as you would expect.
    • He continues this attitude in Thor: The Dark World. His reaction to the other prisoners getting released by Kurse is basic curiosity, and during the later prison riot, he can be seen calmly reading in his cell (and looking mildly annoyed at the racket they're making). However, Loki, as the God of Lies, is a skilled Master of Illusion, and at different times during this movie, everything from the quality of his clothing to the contents of his cell are shown to be illusions. He also has the power to turn himself invisible and cast an illusion of himself at the same time, so that it appears he's standing somewhere that he isn't. It's possible that he isn't as calm or disinterested in what's going on around him as he appears to be during that scene, especially if he believed, at any point, that the Marauders and the Kursed were working for Thanos.
    • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the titular Soldier first appears toward the end of a car chase. Nick Fury is being chased through downtown DC by mooks in police cars, sirens are wailing, bullets are flying, there are some truly spectacular crashes, and then you see him standing nonchalantly in the middle of a busy street. And then he lazily sidesteps Fury's overturned SUV as it's still flying toward him at traffic speed, missing him by inches. His total lack of self-preservation instincts is an early clue that he's not in control of what he's doing.
    • In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Drax is contemplating a series of ponds that reminds him of his daughter. His face is serene, betraying no emotion, but the empath Mantis begins sobbing after touching him and experiencing what he is feeling.
  • In The Matrix films, various characters wear completely blank expressions while fighting, often further emphasized by impenetrable sunglasses.
  • In one of Mean Girls' most iconic scenes, Regina George stands calmly at the top of a staircase with her arms crossed. The camera pans out, and we see mobs of high schoolers rioting as a direct result of her actions, leaking the contents of the Burn Book.
  • Mom and Dad:
    • After Sun-Yi kills her daughter, Carly and Damon find her nonchalantly cleaning up all the blood.
    • Just after strangling her daughter, Riley's mom cheerfully says "Hey, kiddo." to Carly.
    • Brent's dad cheerfully greets Josh after repeatedly stabbing Brent in the stomach in front of him.
    • Much of the film's humor comes from the fact that the signal doesn't overwrite the parent's personality completely. To quote the AV Club review, "we're not watching mindless ghouls but the same two people [as before], just suddenly preoccupied with butchering their young".
    • A man on TV who's being interviewed is shown casually talking about having killed his child, with blood still on his hands. Intellectually, he's aware it's wrong, and decries the parents who'd done this like him (as the Hate Plague only causes homicidal impulses against one's own children), but emotionally it seemed right, and he's quite calm about what he did.
  • The Night Flier: One of the vampire's victims, an elderly woman, is brainwashed into a girlish infatuation with him. She calmly sits on the front porch of her house as her husband is murdered in front of her, then walks back inside and waits for the vampire to devour her too.
  • Crazy Wanda, while everyone is being maimed by Bigfoot at the end of Night of the Demon.
  • Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men, who only looks genuinely happy once in the film, when he strangles a sheriff's deputy to death with a pair of handcuffs near the beginning.
  • The death scene of Lord Beckett in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. He calmly walks down the middle of his ship as it's being torn apart by cannon fire on both sides in slow motion, muttering to himself that it's "just good business." Though one could argue that that was less Dissonant Serenity and more a very calm Villainous Breakdown.
  • The Menu: The staff at the Hawthorne restaurant behave with almost robotic professionalism no matter what horrifying things are happening in the dining area.
  • The Purge: The announcement made by the government to the people about The Purge makes it sound like it's just a minor, adjust-your-clock event. This contrasts starkly with the home invasion that occurs later on.
  • Harmon James from The Purge: Election Year. When assisting Minister Edwidge Owens with his annual Purge Mass, he seems almost completely void of emotion, until he purges the first victim of the night, after which he seems a bit too excited, sharing a moment with Minister Owens. After this, however, he goes back to being completely stoic, even when bullets are flying around him.
  • Used as a plot point in the second Rush Hour movie. Steven Rayne, a hotel billionaire, is perfectly calm and serene when gunfire erupts on Ricky Tan's yacht. Carter notices this, telling Lee that "when the shooting started, (Rayne) was way too cool." They eventually figure out he's in on the plan to launder fake money and follow him.
  • Captain Miller, in Saving Private Ryan, is astonishingly calm during moments of phenomenal stress, i.e., the Normandy Landings. The problem is, his jitters catch up with him later; No matter how calm he may appear, Miller is a man on the ragged edge who knows he's right on the point of losing it. Ironically, this lends him the serenity he needs to be a Father to His Men.
  • Schindler's List: As Amon Göth walks around the camp, casually glancing about while Jews are murdered and tortured. "Can you believe this? As if I don't have enough to do, they come up with this? I have to find every rag buried up here and burn it," he says as he watches the incineration of Jews' bodies.
  • Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon, etc. The only time he ever raises his voice is to make himself heard over a screaming nutter.
  • Kevin, from the movie Sin City, who even smiles as his head is being cut off.
  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock features Kirk stuck with a Klingon being about as calm as hammy TOS-era Klingons get (as in, shouting monotonically) either because he's in the catbird seat or in some sort of battle trance:
    Kirk: You fool, look around you! The planet's destroying itself!
    Kruge: Yes, exhilarating, isn't it?
    • Also telling is that Kurge didn't actively attack Kirk to start their climactic fistfight, the landscape just kind of threw him at Kirk.
  • Stations of the Cross: Hey, if you screamed your fourteen year old to tears, would you then stop talking, start buttering a bagel, and ask your other kids whether they want meat or cheese, all while said fourteen year old is sobbing all over the table? No, because you're not a robotic mother who's trying to scare the sin out of her beautiful, horrible daughter.
  • Right before the shooting scene in Targets, Bobby Thompson settles in on top of the water tower, drinking a soda and eating a sandwich, acting like absolutely nothing is out of the ordinary. Then he sets up his rifle and begins shooting people at random.
  • Bailey during the dinner scene in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. It turns out she's had her teeth and tongue removed offscreen.
  • In Thunderball, Largo calmly glances at a SPECTRE henchman being electrocuted by Blofeld, then goes back to looking through his notes with a slightly bored expression throughout. It's possible Largo has been accustomed to seeing his fellow henchmen getting killed by Blofeld for incompetence or insubordination, as he is a Bad Boss like Number One.
  • In TRON: Legacy the masked DJs' (played by Daft Punk the film's composers) only response to a fight breaking out in their club is to change the music.
  • Both Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory characterise Willy Wonka with this attitude whenever a misbehaving child ends up in peril (while in the original book, his attitude leans more toward Dissonant Laughter).
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: As En Sabah Nur is killing Charles' mind, the latter is lying in a pool of his own blood and is plainly in agony. But when Jean Grey enters the astral plane, Xavier's expression suddenly becomes peaceful and he smiles at her.

  • 2666: Hans Reiter looks and walks around as if he's on the ocean floor ...even when he's in the middle of battle in World War II.
  • In The Arts of Dark and Light, King Mhael's reaction to being sprayed with blood as an assassin is obliterated is restricted to mild disapproval at the messy way the problem was solved.
  • Baccano!:
    • Tick Jefferson is genuinely happy so long as he gets to use his scissors to cut something. This "something" can be anything from hair, to paper, to human flesh.
    • Ladd's girlfriend Lua always has a perpetually vacant smile on her face, despite her lover's frequent promises to murder her.
    • Elmer's been through a lot and is a crowning example of this trope.
    • Elmer's equally messed up buddy, Huey, is known to do or say tremendously disturbing things such as setting his hand on fire while still maintaining a polite smile.
  • As Rudyard Kipling in "The Ballad of Boh Da Thone" described The Captain remembering old times when he tried to catch his archenemy:
    In his eye lit the passionless passion of slaughter.
  • The BFG: Slightly downplayed with the Queen of England's reaction to her nightmare about man-eating giants, finding Sophie on her window sill, the realisation of That Was Not a Dream, meeting a giant for the first time, and the BFG's demonstration of a whizzpopper. Although gasps and wide-eyed disbelief do escape her, she takes it much more calmly than her maid.
    The Queen glanced across at the window. Now it was her turn to freeze. She didn't scream as the maid had done. Queens are too self-controlled for that.
  • Jonah in The Bible, with the boat he's on going through a storm and the pagan crewmen about him frantically praying to their deities... is asleep. So, pretty old trope eh?
    • So was Jesus, one of the times they were crossing the Sea of Galilee. Another time he was so zen he was able to Walk on Water.
    • Luke and John portray Jesus like this even during his own crucifixion. Mark and Matthew portray him as less composed, asking at one point "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
  • The Butcher Boy: As his sanity slips with each chapter, Francie is disturbingly chirpy and cheerful. His playful pranks begin to advance into more destructive and menacing behavior. It concludes with him killing Mrs Nugent.
  • Griboyedov in The Death of the Vazir Mukhtar, especially during the attack on the embassy.
  • Chiun from the book series The Destroyer matches this. An 80-year-old Korean man, he is calm and gentle... as he rips open throats and kills anyone who messes with him.
  • Discworld:
    • In Night Watch, Carcer is this trope. This man will smile serenely as he's stabbing you, and then with a look of childlike innocence, go "Who, me?" to any bystanders, as if he didn't just kill someone in cold blood.
    • Carrot is Carcer's good opposite. When Angua was kidnapped, he decided to eat and take a nap so he'd be in better shape to deal with the kidnappers later.
    • In Thief of Time, this is invoked by History Monk and déjà fu master Lu-Tze, who is surprised that his opponents forgot a vital rule: do not act incautiously when confronting little bald wrinkly smiling men.
  • As early as two planets into the Paradise of The Divine Comedy, Beatrice's smile is so brilliant that the narration says a man would feel serenity looking at it even if he were in a fire.
  • In Dragon Bones, near the end, Oreg seems very serene, despite the fact that Ward decided to just let the villains take castle Hurog, and the dragon bones buried under it, something which Oreg wanted to avoid at all costs. Turns out Oreg knows that Ward will do the right thing ... which is to kill him, thus making castle Hurog (to which he's magically bound for all eternity, or until someone kills him ...) collapse, burying the dragon bones and the villains under it. He's just waiting for the right moment to tell Ward. Ward is unsettled by this dissonant serenity, and suspects that there may be something he doesn't know about.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Lara and Thomas Raith, whenever we see them fighting.
    • Harry himself during a flashback in White Night, while he tortures a ghoul to death. Although it also crosses into Tranquil Fury, considering that said ghoul was part of a bunch that brutalized and ate two warden trainees that Harry was responsible for.
      "Dios." Ramírez breathed. He stared at me for a moment. "I've never seen you like this."
      "Like what?"
  • In the Forgotten Realms novel The Making of a Mage a resentful Elminster (age 17) witnessed how one magelord summoned and tried to command Dorgon "Stonecloak" Heamiiolothtar, one of few people who hadn't won the office of Magister, but was given it by the gods of magic and who had remained in it longer than anyone save Azuth himself. Dorgon poked "with mild curiosity" the artifact supposed to make him powerless, ascertained that it was a challenge, and teleported through the room and diced half of the magelords and the flunkies present at the party before anyone reached the door. He then disabled, judged and beheaded all of the remaining magelords one by one. All the while wearing much the same expression, ignoring their spells and complaining about their inability to throw something really interesting at him.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, this was a defining trait of Sousuke's beautiful mother's death. When she was falling to her death, her face never showed a hint of terror or despair, and she calmly accepted her fate. Kalinin recalls from that instance that she was "surreally beautiful." Interestingly enough, this trait was apparently inherited by her son. As numerous instances afterward, Sousuke has been described in very similar terms as being "surreally beautiful" the way he calmly massacres people.
  • The protagonist of The Garden of Sinners, Shiki, manages to be completely at ease while holding a knife to the throat of her love interest, making this easily one of the most chilling moments in the story.
    Yet Shiki only continues to stare, unperturbed and placid. Red butterflies take flight from the wound and descend lightly on Shiki's face, and on her ghostly kimono. Her blood-soaked lips twist into it of fear, or of pleasure? Is she Shiki or SHIKI? I try to say something, but my voice stops, and I fall to the ground just because of the effort of trying to talk. I vomit, my stomach retching out all its contents, all the bile. I wish it retched out this memory as well, but no such luck. I vomit so hard I start to cry. But that doesn't make me feel any more relieved. The overwhelming smell of the blood is so rich it drowns my brain. And finally, Shiki notices me. She turns her head to look at me, and I see now that the twist on her lips earlier was a smile, a kind of warm, motherly smile that is so at odds with the scene that it makes me shiver.
  • Ryoko Asakura in Haruhi Suzumiya has the unnerving habit of still being the sweetest, nicest girl you've ever met, while attempting to slice you up with a knife. She's also unusually cheerful after Yuki defeats her, smiling as she politely delivers a stern but calm warning to Kyon while her body is being disintegrated.
  • In the Honor Harrington novel In Enemy Hands, when Honor is in State Sec custody, she finds that the "deadness" and "cold-eyed patience" of some is even worse than the others' fiercely delighted hatred. In Echoes of Honor, a similar observation is made of Oscar Saint-Just.
    • Not that Harrington doesn't exhibit the same thing on several occasions when she very calmly sets out to end someone. The first time she did this in the series, heavily armed Marines physically recoiled from her out of fear as she calmly walked by with a handgun planning to execute prisoners who had raped and murdered some of her subordinates.
    • Havenite secret agent Victor Cachat is a genuinely Nice Guy that, when he has to kill someone, turns all of his emotions off, which makes him even more terrifying than any other alternative - enough that a slaver felt almost glad that he was going to be taken away by a slaver hunter.
  • Common in the medieval Icelandic Sagas, making this Older Than Print:
    Bolli does not kill Helgi on the spot. Instead, he stands quietly by and smiles a little as he listens to the summons. Saga readers know of course what it means to smile a little under the pressure of insult: it means turmoil and violence. The little smile seals Helgi's fate; it is only a question of time. (Theodore M. Andersson)
  • Sir Thomas Maculay in Lays of Ancient Rome describes Mars this way:
    He smiles a smile more dreadful
    Then his own most dreadful frown
    When he sees a thick black cloud of smoke
    Rise up from the conquered town.
  • Natives of the various Countries Of Hats in Kino's Journey often act this way. And then there's Kino herself, who remains eerily calm in the face of things that would send the average person screaming and running in the other direction. Probably because she's seen worse.
  • Valentine Morgenstern in The Mortal Instruments is always calm, even sarcastic, even when ripping out people's hearts.
  • In Neuromancer, Molly recounts how she and her companion were stalked by a vatgrown ninja assassin whose face remained serene even as he fought. Later, Hideo is struck blind by a flash attack, yet doesn't even flinch, but proceeds to stalk his enemy by sound, calm as can be.
  • In the Dirk Pitt Adventures novel Valhalla Rising, at one point the hero Dirk Pitt is desperately throwing stuff at The Brute, but gets his clock cleaned. In steps his friend Al Giordino. The Brute tries to crush Giordino; his response is to reach out and start strangling The Brute, cool as you like. Eventually, The Brute, running out of air, is forced to concede.
  • In Pharaoh Ramesses's death scene. He calmly wanders around, wondering if anyone's got a bandage. Then he faints and dies.
  • Psmith's attitude towards any brand of fight (from a scuffle among schoolboys to a full-blown Mob War) in the Psmith series. It's Played for Laughs.
  • Rebuild World:
    • Akira’s Virtual Sidekick Alpha being a Smug Smiler manifests like this since she’s often like that in the middle of chaotic and horrible battles. This is because she’s a Manipulative Bitch Artificial Intelligence who carefully calculates her every expression to get the desired results. This is to keep up Akira’s morale, and to make Akira take things seriously when she does show real concern.
    • With Sheryl, after reorienting her psyche around Akira during her second Heroic BSoD, she shows this multiple times, at first during a meeting with Shijima that makes him think What the Hell Are You?. On another occasion Sheryl smiles calmly while the room she and her gang are in is being peppered with bullets which reassures them, and she also does this when making threats. This is due to Sheryl resigning herself to die if Akira dies and him being there and supportive; if she’s worrying about retaining Akira’s support as her Living Emotional Crutch and protector, Sheryl has No Poker Face instead.
  • Discussed in The Seventh Bride, a Bluebeard retelling. Rhea, the newest potential bride, asks one of the Bluebeard figure's earlier victims, Maria, how she can calmly make biscuits while everything is horrible and insane. Maria answers that yes, everything is horrible and insane, but a breakdown won't change that and then they'll be hungry. Whereas if she bakes, at least they'll have something to eat.
  • In Sheep's Clothing, Doc is able to have a fairly calm conversation about his new-found belief in vampires maybe an hour after he gets his proof in the form of one of them almost tearing his throat out. Justified here in that he is still in shock and probably a little drunk.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: In the book Collateral Damage, Paula Woodley talks to Lizzie Fox about her husband Karl Woodley. She asks Lizzie if she's being too sadistic, and she says this in the tone of someone discussing the weather. She had been abused by her Domestic Abuser husband for years. No decent person could fault her for wanting to make him pay for that!
  • The characters of A Song of Ice and Fire usually react as one would expect if they had to live in the Crapsack World of Westeros, whether they be commoners, nobility or seasoned warriors. An exception to the rule is resident Magnificent Bastard Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish, who remains cheerful and upbeat even when betraying everyone left, right and centre, kicking off bloody civil wars and nonchalantly killing anyone who was no longer of any use to him.
    • Roose Bolton, Lord of the Dreadfort, is a polite, soft-spoken and unassuming man, as well as the closest thing Westeros has to an Evil Overlord (and a Token Evil Teammate to the Northmen, too). Even when ordering horrible atrocities upon the peasants and prisoners of war, or threatening to cut off his cupbearer's tongue for speaking out of line, he never raises his voice or loses his calm. Bolton believes in purity and self-perfection, practicing a strict health regimen for himself, and seems to be of the mindset that emotions are unnecessary, unlike atrocities.
  • In the Star Trek novel Vendetta, a survivor of a Borg attack on his world describes having seen the personification of death. Much like many cultures on Earth, his had portrayed death as a skeletal figure in black, but instead, he describes death as a smiling child walking and skipping through the scenes of destruction.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Mace Windu in Shatterpoint. "I don't like Windu... he has the same look cleaning his weapons as he does using them."
    • In some works, Luke tends towards this. Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor has a notable example; his voice in the midst of an emergency is described as "preternaturally calm". Mara Jade directly points it out in Heir to the Empire , when he's been Brought Down to Normal — no Force skills to draw on, no weapons, unknown hostile world, Imperials trying to find him, wild animals after him, and Mara herself wanting him dead, and far from being wired with adrenaline he's maddeningly serene to the point of being able to fall asleep — though he's still very quick-witted, observant, and far from helpless.
      • Probably justified because using the light side of the Force requires one to be calm and collected; if Luke couldn't hold it together in stressful situations he'd risk tapping into the dark side.
    • Jedi training actively encourages being calm and collected to the point of being effectively emotionless at all times, no matter how serious and stressful a situation the Jedi finds themselves in. Jedi who fail to act like this are either apprentices, on the way to the Dark Side, or both. This attitude tends to unnerve and annoy nonForce Users when around a Jedi.
    • In Galaxy of Fear, the shapeshifting Hoole just frowns in concentration while wrestling with the controls of a crashing ship. He's that calm and steady when tossing his endangered niece and nephew something that will help. He's less calm in day-to-day dealings with them, not being a fan of children.
  • Chizuru of Student Council's Discretion.
    My smile becomes more beautiful the angrier I get.
  • Tofu from Super Minion. He doesn't really have much of a panic response beyond trying to solve whatever problem is threatening him. Unusually, his allies actually tend to find this reassuring rather than creepy. Amusingly, early on he gets into a fight with a human and gets confused when he injures them and they collapse screaming, since he can't figure out what they were trying to accomplish. What nobody finds reassuring as that he's just as calm and matter-of-fact when he's threatening to kill someone.
  • Till We Have Faces: The sweet voice of the god of the Grey Mountain lacks any hint of anger as it announces that forces beyond control will torture his wife and that Orual will meet the same horrible fate. The narrator compares it to "a bird singing on the branch above a hanged man."
  • Crusnik 02 (aka Abel Nightroad) in many scenes of Trinity Blood.
  • In Twig, the members of the Lambsbridge Gang, Tyke Bombs created by a Mad Scientist, often display this trait in conflict, talking like normal children, telling jokes, or simply failing to react to the distressing events around them.
  • Captain Tushin and Prince Bagration exhibited forms of Dissonant Serenity during the Battle of Schöngraben in War and Peace. Captain Tushin might have briefly lapsed into Psychopathic Manchild for his disturbing calm though.
  • Warrior Cats: Everyone. They aren't outright happy or excited (except maybe Lionblaze), but no one seems to be at all fazed by all the bloody battles in the series. Quotes from various characters:
    "I'd welcome any cat who'd help me rip out their entrails."
    "Just a few scratches. Mostly WindClan blood."
    "Is there any blood?" (Said by an excited little kitten)
    • Most of the time, their battles are non-lethal. They fight to prove their superiority and defend their homes, not to kill, which even in battle is considered outright murder. When a cat accidentally dies during a border skirmish it is a huge deal. When a life-or-death battle actually happens, they are much more serious about it.
    • Sol stays calm and composed all the time, even when surrounded by enemies and accused of murder. He is so calm, other cats often find it unsettling. The only times he's lost his cool is whenever he's making a speech (and he's really more "incensed" than angry), and when Hollyleaf apparently pushes his Berserk Button, he recovers in less than half a second.
  • Played with in the Dale Brown novel Warrior Class, where POTUS Thomas Thorn's incredible calmness even in tense situations is comforting to some, annoying to others.
  • Fiver may have used this trope in Watership Down to defeat a larger rabbit by being overly polite and calm for the situation, freaking the other guy out.
  • In The Wheel of Time:
    • Over the course of countless pressures, near-death experiences, sacrifices, and losses and manipulations, Rand Al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn, becomes increasingly volatile (and starts Hearing Voices), but in book 12 his Sanity Slippage reaches its zenith when he is briefly captured by Semirhage and almost forced to kill the woman he loves. He slips into this trope for the rest of the book to chilling effect.
    • Blademasters and others trained in the "Flame and the Void" Meditation Powerup technique default to this state in combat: they suppress their emotions, the better to focus on the battle and instinctively meet any threat.
    • The final test to become an Aes Sedai demands either this or Tranquil Fury, as the student must demonstrate one hundred difficult Functional Magic weaves in increasingly stressful, dangerous, and degrading situations without ever losing her composure.
  • Invoked in The Zombie Knight. Hector is far too shy to shout and snarl in typical action-hero fashion, so instead, Garovel teaches him to unnerve people by speaking in whispers and being incongruously polite.
  • The First Law: Collem West has a terrible temper and tends to fight like The Berserker, but when he murders Crown Prince Ladislaw for attempted rape, he notes that he's never felt calmer or in control of himself.
  • In the book Chirin No Suzu, when Chirin the lamb first meets Woe the Wolf. He is seen smiling next to him, despite the wolf killing and eating the entire flock and killing his mother in the process.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "The Bridge", a character eating lunch in prison calmly continues eating even as super-soldiers bust in through the ceiling to rescue him, brutally dispatching anyone who gets in their way. He even refuses to get up from his seat until he is addressed as "Sir."
  • Awaken: The child in the prologue stays perfectly calm even though the village is burning, people are killing each other, and a man drops dead right in front of him.
  • Barry: In "The Rage" Barry hardly reacts while evading outlaw bikers trying to kill while he flees from them through LA, only acting slightly tired at the end as otherwise he looks cheerful.
  • Breaking Bad:
    • Todd Alquist is always the very picture of calm and personable, whether he's having a friendly conversation with you or shooting you in the back of the head. This is best exemplified in El Camino, as he happily sings along with the radio and tries to get a truck to honk its horn while his meth slave and the body of his housekeeper are in the back of his car.
    • Gus Fring has this eerie level of calmness that he exerts at all times, even when he's visibly furious. His striding out into the open and not flinching even while a sniper is firing bullets at his feet is described by Jesse as "Terminator shit". It even accompanies him into death, as after having the right half of his face blown off by Walt's bomb, Gus steps out into the hallway and casually straightens his tie before collapsing.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In the finale of Season 5, Dawn realizes that she is going to be sacrificed in a ritual to open up a portal and bring about an apocalypse; she responds by calmly folding her clothing and placing it on a chair, in case that is the only thing left of her after the ritual is done.
    • In "Lie to Me" Buffy is placing flowers on the grave of a New Old Flame who'd been killed by vampires. The boy then bursts out of the grave as a vampire, whereupon Buffy coldly stakes him without changing expression.
  • The Deuce: Diner owner Leon guns down a disrespectful pimp from behind the counter, then calmly calls the police and refills the coffee cup of his patron, who promptly flees.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Daleks have one emotion (anger), but all that's left of the Cybermen is pure logic.
    • The Doctor himself applies as well, especially the Tenth and Eleventh ones. You know he's mad when he starts yelling and screaming, but when he gets quiet again you know it's time to be scared.
      The Doctor: Hello, Dalek.
    • "Horror of Fang Rock" has a famous example:
      The Doctor: [with a toothy grin] Gentlemen, I've got news for you! This lighthouse is under attack and by morning we might all be dead!
    • "The Family of Blood": Son of Mine keeps up his shit-eating grin after being frozen in time, and recounts his family's Fates Worse than Death very stoically.
    • The Host from "Voyage of the Damned": Information: Kill. Kill. Kill.
    • Series 6 offers both the Antibodies ("You will experience a tingling sensation and then death") and the robots in the Two Streams hospital ("This is a kindness.") Basically, evil robots in the Whoniverse are either absolute monotone or this. No, the Daleks don't count; they're not robots.
    • In "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship", after learning the fate of the Silurians who built the spaceship, the Doctor informs the space pirate responsible that he's not going to rescue him from the oncoming missiles. When the villain begs for his life, the Doctor's response?
      The Doctor: Did the Silurians beg you to stop?
  • The Sci-Fi Channel's miniseries adaptation of Dune had a minor Harkonnen officer who was a Mook Lieutenant. When said officer's troops get ambushed by the Fremen, he fights back until he sees Paul Atreides calmly walking through all the bloodshed and explosions and coming straight at him. The officer promptly tries to run, but he doesn't get far...
  • From Joss Whedon's Firefly:
    • River Tam displayed this trait in a few episodes. But then, she was batshit, so that is also to be expected.
    • A more typical example is Wash, at least as long as he's piloting; check out the scene in the pilot episode when the Reavers are chasing them: he's the only one in the entire ship who's completely calm. Wash's dissonance works both ways: He's very calm when, say, he's being chased by Reavers or has to pull off some crazy-ass aerial stunt, but he acts panicked when things really aren't that bad. It was originally planned to be a deadly serious type of calm, but it just wasn’t compatible with Alan Tudyk. So, he gets very calm while still retaining his wisecracking tendencies instead.
      He is a leaf on the wind. Watch how he soars.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Daenerys often affects this demeanor while holding court as part of her attempt to be The High Queen, complete with a Creepy Monotone, and, if you're really unlucky, a polite half-smile.
    • Sansa maintains courtesy as her armor throughout her stay in King's Landing. Her composure despite her obvious discomfort provides the final straw that convinces Tyrion not to exercise his Marital Rape License.
    • This is one of the most obvious symptoms of Arya's increasingly unsettling coldbloodedness.
    • Rather than a frenzied fanatic, Melisandre is always poised and eerily calm.
    • Selyse Baratheon is overjoyed by the human sacrifice of her own brother for nonconformity because his sins have been "burned away." Watch her facial expression closely when Mance Rayder is being burned alive. She gleefully smiles.
    • Cersei steps calmly and daintily past the dismembered corpses of the prisoners Ser Gregor Clegane has just executed to welcome him back to the capital in "Mockingbird".
    • Roose suggests torture and execution in the same tone that most people would suggest grabbing a bite to eat, as though such a thing were second nature to him. Then you realize that his sigil is a skinless corpse.
    • A particularly disturbing one happens in Season 4: at the end of Tyrion's trial by combat, Cersei's champion the Mountain crushes Prince Oberyn's head into a bloody pulp all the while boasting how he raped and murdered his sister before killing her children. Pan to Cersei, who looks as happy she ever does.
    • After Tommen's body — in a rare moment of Gory Discretion Shot, to boot — is shown to Cersei, she doesn't show much of a reaction, making it one of her most disturbing moments in the series.
    • On the bridge where Euron kills Balon, contrast their opposing stances. Balon is trying to hang on for dear life to make sure the storm does not throw him off it, Euron on the other hand just calmly stands on the madly-shaking bridge with his hands mellowly clasped together. It is eerie to watch and a further testament to Euron's total lack of sanity.
  • Gotham has a couple examples:
  • Kamen Rider Build: Sento Kiryu is mostly apathetic to everything that doesn't directly involve him or bother him. His answer to a civil war breaking out basically in his backyard is to throw himself into his work and ignore everything around. Don't be fooled, it just hides the insane amount of turmoil going on inside, which usually spills out anyway. He can't keep that attitude up forever.
    • This applies to Misora Isurugi to a degree too. Yes, she was held in captivity by the terroristic organization. Yes, she was used for their experimentation. Speaking about it as if it was a boring school doesn't mean she is not traumatized and depressed.
  • Subverted by a Japanese monk in Lexx, who serenely keeps meditating and is ignored by the wandering alien probe droids. It turns out he's not meditating, just briefly unconscious from having donated half his insides to an organ-harvesting cult... and the probes only ignore him because the surgery sewed shut his "poop chute".
  • Charlie Crews in Life (2007). Most of the time. When he thinks he's on to the people behind his framing, however, he chucks all that Zen stuff out the window. In one scene.
  • M*A*S*H: In one episode, Charles is protesting Hawkeye and BJ's slobbishness by going full slob himself. They finally decide they've had enough and start cleaning, and as they've just finished cleaning the floor, Charles comes in and throws a wrapper down. They clean it up, then empty the dustpan into Charles' bunk. This sets off a tit-for-tat of dirtying/destroying each other's things, and the whole time, all three are completely calm, even while watching their own stuff get wrecked, doing nothing to interfere.
  • The Mentalist
    • After killing the Red John impostor, as everyone in the mall runs screaming Patrick sits down and finishes off his tea while asking for a check.
    • In many cases Patrick displays far calmer and control than seems sane in tense situations.
  • Brian the Milk Guy in Misfits, doubling with Soft-Spoken Sadist as he calmly and pleasantly tells people how he's controlling the last dairy product they ate to kill or maim them. His slender, baby-faced appearance only adds to the dissonance.
  • Joel from Mystery Science Theater 3000 is kidnapped by mad scientists, stranded in outer space, and forced to watch cheesy movies designed to drive him insane. He seems to be enjoying himself.
  • Snafu in The Pacific. Snafu's usually deadpan calm whether he's just shooting the breeze or prying gold teeth out of a dead Japanese soldier's mouth. When Sledge admits he's scared and Captain Ack Ack states "Everyone is; any man who says he's not is either lying or dead", a quick shot of Snafu makes you wonder what that makes him.
    • He also manages to sound calm about things when it's apparent that he really isn't. When Snafu talks Sledge out of taking up his own habit of prospecting for gold teeth among dead Japanese soldiers, his warning about "diseases that'll make you sick" is less his worrying about hygiene and more a cover to let him express his concern about the comparatively idealistic Sledge starting down the same road he's traveled.
    • Despite everything, Okinawa almost breaks him: he nearly starts a fight with Sledge, who's probably the person he's closest to, and it's only after Peck climbs up on an exposed ridge and fires at the enemy and Hamm is shot saving him that he seems to go back to his usual self. Even then, there's still a slight change in his demeanor.
  • Person of Interest: Root's default temperament unless things start to go really wrong.
  • Gem and Gemma from Power Rangers RPM have the same cheerful smiles on their faces whether they're talking about friendship, explosions, military strategy, or the horrible conditions at a forced-labor factory they spent several months imprisoned in.
  • Subverted in Rome when Marc Antony compliments Julius Caesar on his calm demeanor while they're (illegally) marching on Rome. "You look as calm as a cup of water." Caesar replies with a touch of irony, "I'm glad I appear so..."
  • The Sandman, "24/7": As the magical artifact he brought into the diner causes everyone else to start acting in ways they wouldn't normally dream of, John watches calmly, at one point getting up and casually weaving through the chaos to raid a tub of icecream. The fact that he's just quietly sitting and eating icecream while everyone else is getting increasingly panicked is what leads Bette to realize that he's behind it all.
  • Not uncommon in Smallville, due to kryptonite being everywhere, and there are ones that don't involve kryptonite too.
    Chloe: Lana, hey, I've been looking for you.
    (*Lana grabs her head and smashes it against the wall, then throws her down the stairs*)
    Chloe: (*Struggles to her feet*) Lana, what are you doing!?
    Lana: Killing Chloe Sullivan.
    • This is just the start of probably the worst beating Chloe ever got. Lana remains expressionless the entire time. No, they aren't fighting over Clark. Lana is mind controlled by someone who is going to be exposed by Chloe.
    • Another episode involves Clark and Lionel Luthor switching bodies. In order to lure Lionel-in-Clark's-body back to the prison to reverse the process, they manage to convince him that the change will be permanent if he eliminates his old body. In order to do this, he stages a full-scale prison riot, then walks through the chaos with the most supreme confidence.
    • Cure: A doctor calmly states to Chloe that he is going to cut out her heart.
  • Data of Star Trek: The Next Generation displays this as part of his very nature. Despite regularly being in life-threatening situations, he is almost always calm and detached. Justified because he's an android and wasn't programmed to feel emotions — he has to learn about them from others.
    • Less so in Star Trek: Generations after he activates his emotion chip:
    • As does his spiritual predecessor Spock; though being half-human, strong emotions occasionally show through his cool veneer. Most Vulcans are like this — a good example would be Amok Time, where Spock's grandmother and the other Vulcans are pretty chill while watching two people fight to the death.
    • The Female Changeling in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine maintains a calm demeanor throughout the series. Her serene facade cracks in the final episode.
    • Also in Deep Space Nine, Garak is capable of being a very unnerving fellow just by continuing to be the jokey, somewhat snarky tailor in situations of life and death. Federation characters wrestle with their consciences about murder, and even hardened Bajoran Resistance fighter Kira Nerys has reservations in many cases, but Garak can plot your death and take steps to bring it about with cheerful, casual indifference. At one point he guns down a fellow Cardassian with a mild, "Pity, I rather liked him." Notably, this is him after he lost his taste for torture due to the events of "The Wire". Back with the Obsidian Order, he would have been terrifying.
      Garak: I've locked him in his quarters. I've also left him with the distinct impression that, if he attempts to force the door open, it may explode.
      Sisko: I hope that's just an impression.
      Garak: It's best not to dwell on such minutiae.
      • His former boss once remarked he got a man to confess to a crime by sitting in a room and just gazing at him for four hours. The accused walked away traumatized.
  • In the final minutes of the series finale of Strike Back, Col. Alexander Coltrane casually walks into the home of the The Mafiya queenpin who murdered two of his subordinates and smiles as if he's greeting an old friend. His affable, matter-of-fact demeanor never wavers, even as he pulls out a gun and dispatches her with a Boom, Headshot!.
  • Supernatural
    • In an episode of Season 5, a group of pagan gods meet to discuss the upcoming Judeo-Christian apocalypse. Lucifer finds them, explains his disdain for the pagans to Mercury, and calmly kills each and every one of these gods (except for Kali, who got away).
    • Castiel's behavior in his introductory scene is essentially this — he walks into the building where Dean and Bobby are waiting and continues forward calmly even as they open fire on him, while light bulbs burst in his presence and the building shakes and rattles. When he finally reaches Dean, Dean immediately stabs him in the chest, and his response is to look at the knife with a sort of vague amusement before simply pulling it out.
  • The Wire:
    • Brother Mouzone. Whether firing a warning shot into someone's arm, lying on the floor gut-shot, or sitting in a folding chair reading The New Republic, it's all the same to him.
    • Marlo Stanfield orders many murders with the same level of emotion you would expect from someone ordering a sandwich.

TV Movies:

  • The little girl in Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County is disturbingly unemotional, considering that aliens are abducting/killing everyone in her family. In the end, she is so blasé about the whole thing that not only does she let the aliens into the house, but she is the only one seen going with them willingly as opposed to the others, who are all put into trances.

  • Frida Snell's minimalist acoustic cover version of The Smashing Pumpkins single "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" ("Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage").
  • The music video for Fiona Apple's cover version of "Across The Universe" shows her with headphones on, singing serenely within a rampaging crowd of hooligans.
  • "Goin' Berzerk" from the album Pac Man Fever has traces of this, with lyrics about being trapped in a maze of killer robots juxtaposed with a gentle piano melody.
  • C. W. McCall's 1975 country hit "Wolf Creek Pass" has its narrator describing a harrowing trip down a mountain grade in a semi truck in a humorously nonchalant monotone.
  • Tom Waits in the song "Frank's Wild Years" (from the album Swordfishtrombones) calmly narrates how the eponymous Frank burns down his house with his wife and her dog in it, to jazzy Hammond organ music.
  • Warren Zevon has played around with this, which goes with the territory of his kind of offbeat humor. For example, "Excitable Boy", from the album of the same name, recounts some of the life of a deranged murderer in an apathetic to slightly happy tone, reminiscent of contemporary 70s pop schlock.
  • 2-D of Gorillaz tends to react this way to the majority of the frequently crazy and supernatural occurances that happen to him and the rest of the band, and it's a major sign as to how bad things have gotten in Phase 3 that he's seen to be visibly breaking down throughout. Whether that's thanks to things getting bad enough that he can't brush them off any longer, or because he's off his pain meds is never made fully clear.
  • Lene Marlin has a tendency to sing about death and suicidal ideation with great calm and even cheeriness. Her more dramatic-sounding songs are typically about abandonment.

  • Lancaster speaks very casually and assuredly during Episode 27 of Find Us Alive as he actively puts other characters in danger.
    Harley: Lancaster, was that a knife?
    Lancaster: It's a scalpel.
    Harley: (panicked negotiating) Okay, waitwaitwait. What are you doing with that?
    Lancaster: I just have to try something out. It's gonna confirm my theory.
  • Reverend Mord, the host of The Hidden Almanac, maintains the same calm, soothing tones no matter how weird the subject under discussion becomes. His measured deadpan is unaffected by corporate shenanigans, interference by eldritch abominations, or, on one occasion, being set on fire. Although he has a few Berserk Buttons, mostly with regard to disrespect for his garden, he addresses them with barely a change in tone.
  • The radio host Cecil from Welcome to Night Vale is usually relaxed and cheerful as he describes attacks by Eldritch Abominations and the activities of the local Secret Police who are spying on everyone. When he loses his cool, it means something's happened that's messed up even for Night Vale, or something bad is happening directly to him or someone he's emotionally invested in.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The Supermodel Amy Love and later the just-model Santana Garrett have drifted into this area. You'd think it would be hard to make an admitted torture session or the threat of ripping someone's head off sound free of malice but they've done it.
  • Victoria Times columnist Adrian Chamberlain made this claim about Blaster Lashley after she had interviewed him about professional wrestling and the combat sports he had participated in.
  • Boogeyman has two volumes, loud when yelling his catchphrase and almost quiet at all other times, even if he has glass embedded in his head.
  • Hiroyo Matsumoto. She makes the threat of "destroying" someone sound so unlike a threat at all until she actually goes through with it.

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, this is one way that Ivy reacts to terrifying situations- the other being panic- due to being so overwhelmed that she goes into a minor Heroic BSoD. When she was accused of being a ghost, she smiled at the accuser. When a car fell from the sky just meters away from her own vehicle, she calmly asked Finn to drop her off.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Fourth Edition Monks are portrayed this way, at least in the fluff. Although obviously up to the player on how they act, most powers are described as something along the lines of "floating through the chaotic battle like a leaf on the wind." While, incidentally, executing Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs or simply sending entire enemy groups (or one giant dragon/demon/abomination) flying with a "mere flick of the wrist."
  • Exalted has an entire martial art style built around this, the White Veil Style. This is so disturbing to opponents and bystanders, that it's actually harder for people to take the fight seriously enough to join in. The fluff on the Form charm describes it thus:
    "Assuming this form is a matter of looking completely at ease. When using this form, there is nothing wrong, nothing hidden, and the character can hold up her end of a conversation even in battle."
  • In Nomine: Elohim maintain their calm, collected and detached façades at all times, including when performing actions that others would find upsetting; an Elohite will display no more emotion when smothering a man to death than when pouring themselves a coffee. Other angels find this extremely unsettling.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Elesh Norn's comments about Nahiri and Nissa's compleation is just insane drivel. There's something so wrong about this statement, that all of the non-compleated Planeswalkers flat-out respond with disgust. What makes this especially awful is that this isn't a taunt, it's a genuine We Can Rule Together offer.
    "Nahiri fought us, but she found peace, and a better way in the One," said Elesh Norn. "She and Nissa came from the same place, but they were never friends. Now they are sisters, united, finally on the same side in every way. They are One. You, too, can be One. Only yield, and it will be over quickly."
  • Paranoia: Depending on how the game-runner decides to depict its voice, Friend Computer can display this trope as it dispatches the players' Troubleshooter characters on doomed impossible Suicide Missions.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The majority of the setting's factions are ALWAYS SHOUTING! ALL THE TIME! As a result, the factions who go into battle in silence — the more restrained Eldar, the mostly-silent Necrons, and the Tyranids, who communicate telepathically — are often perceived as highly unnerving by the the others.
  • Warhammer: The legendary Phoenix Guard who protect the Shrine of Asuryan in Ulthuan are shown the moment and circumstances of their deaths and are forbidden by oath to utter a word, having witnessed the secrets of the past and future. Only a mortal filled with divine purpose and convinced thoroughly of their survival (or demise) could face a hail of arrows and shot with grim resolution, or baulk before even the vilest horrors of Chaos.

  • During Act I, Scene III of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, a heavy storm hits Rome, the earth shakes, fire is seen in the skies and lions, ghosts and burning men walk the streets of Rome. And into this, enters Cassius, who smiles contentedly and calls it "a very pleasing night to honest men."
    • Later Mark Antony imagines a similar situation in which Caesar's ghost stands beside Ate, the Goddess of Vengance "come hot from hell ", he then yells ""Havoc!" " and she lets go of the leashes to a pack of Hell Hounds borrowed from Mars himself, engulfing the whole country of Italy in a bitter war that drags on so long that the people become so accustomed to the carnage that "mothers shall but smile" at the sight of their children's bodies being brought home so horribly mutilated that they are barely even recognizable anymore. Though the fact that these thoughts fill him with the warm an' fuzzies is another matter entirely, one with elements of several Revenge Tropes involved.
  • My Fair Lady mixes this with Lyrical Dissonance and The Comically Serious when upper-class Brits at a horse race sing a distinctly restrained musical number about how exhilarating the spectacle is.
  • In Thrill Me, how serene Richard actually is varies from production to production, but Nathan at least views him as surprisingly serene after each crime (arson, theft, murder) they commit.
    Nathan: How can you be so damned calm?
    Richard: Because worrying is your department.

    Video Games 
  • In the adventure game AMBER: Journeys Beyond, when you assist the ghost of a delusional gardener named Brice, the man in question reacts in a coldy confused manner as you explore the garden he worked in, not even recognizing his own hanged corpse.
  • One of the endings in Anchorhead involves the player character, who has by then Gone Mad from the Revelation by reading through the black book in the church, calmly clawing her own eyes out.
  • Pathfinder, the cheerful robot of Apex Legends says everything with excitement, even when announcing that he's going to kill you.
  • The fighting game BlazBlue features a young boy named Carl Clover, whose profession is as a bounty hunter. He is accompanied by his "sister", a semi-sentient doll/bio-cyber weapon which has long, sharp claws and is fueled by Carl's subconscious hate and desire to kill. Carl lets his courteous manners and innocent smile slip on a single occasion — namely, when Haku-men fills him in on this.
  • In Dead or Alive 4, both Helena and Christie remain completely calm in their pre-showdown conversation, even though they're in a skyscraper that is being rocked by explosions and is sure to collapse at any moment.
    • This is even more jarring for Helena, who has just found out that Christie was the one who killed her mother when trying to assassinate Helena.
  • This trope is DEFCON's bread and butter. As all of civilization is destroyed in a nuclear war, the player watches things unfold through a tactical computer depicting the carnage through simple wireframe models and numbers. This is accompanied by quiet piano music.
  • Dictators: No Peace: The main countryballs are always happy, even when they see their armies fight in their country.
  • Sephiroth as he destroys Nibelheim in Cloud's flashback scene in Final Fantasy VII.
    • And during his battle with Cloud in Advent Children. His expression upon being defeated is a look of mild surprise.
    • In fact, Sephiroth's been made to be a Triumphant Example of this Trope. You will rarely hear him raise his voice or shout (even when he is being struck by a weapon), he never loses his composure, and he will usually have either two looks: an amused smirk or a just a simple frown. Oh, and don't ever expect to see him bleed.
  • Final Fantasy X: Yuna subverts this trope when you find her in Bevelle. After the Mexican stand-off where Seymour threatens to kill the party if Yuna doesn't calm down and marry him she threatens to jump off a huge precipice to her death. She gets her own way, but threatens to do it anyway, insisting "I can fly." Okay, sure, crazy lady. As she falls, she summons Valefor, proving that her confidence and serenity was perfectly justified after all.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's has the Purple Man that appears in the mini-games. This mysterious fellow is always seen smiling, even when he's murdering a kid and making him/her cry very hard. He's also seen smiling after he finishes killing five other kids. There's also a second Purple Man that appears (rarely) in one mini-game; the character you're playing as tries to save the kids, but this Purple Man stops you from doing so... with a big smile on his face.
    • Part of what makes the situation scarier is just how calm Phone Guy is about the whole affair, telling you not to worry about being locked in with murderous maybe-supernatural robots, and matter-of-factly explaining your probable horrific death by being stuffed into an animatronic costume. This does not even fully slip when he, with the slightest traces of overworked stress imaginable, explains in his pre-recorded message to you that "it's been a bad night" for him and asks you to maybe sometime check the animatronic costumes in the back on the off-chance that he's still alive by then.
  • In Ghost Master, the Unearthly Calm power, initially wielded by Fingers and Daydreamer, can make everyone around feel this, disregarding their mental state. This ability is very useful in the later game, where the scared and/or psychotic people can be scared even more for extra points, but you don't want them to run away too soon.
    • Sometimes this power plays a plot-related role where the puzzles are solved by leading specific people to specific places, but you still need to scare them as much as possible and the least what you want is for them to run away. It can also be used to make people calmly visit the little island where Blair Wisp lives, since every time they try to walk there on their own, they're scared away by the creepy grave located there.
  • Half-Life's G-man remains cool and businesslike in corpse-littered, alien-ravaged Black Mesa and the crapsack, Combine-controlled Earth that follows.
  • The townspeople of Harvester tend to be constantly cheerful and upbeat, even when things become increasingly violent and surreal, such as when Steve's mother gently and calmly pushes her infant daughter's eyes back into their sockets after the wasp eggs she's infected with hatch. If you show your neighbor the bones of her daughter, she'll offer you refreshments while she calls the police, and never stops her saccharine tone.
    Mrs. Pottsdam: [on the phone] Hello, sheriff? Mrs. Pottsdam here. Steve took Stephanie's bones. Yes, he's right here. [to Steve] The sheriff says hello, Steve. He'll be coming by to pick you up. [to Sheriff Duane] Now tell me, Duane, how have you been?
  • The lack of Dissonant Serenity was an early clue to Bastila's eventual Face–Heel Turn in Knights of the Old Republic. She was visibly snarling in the flashback sequence of her dueling Revan.
  • Leisure Suit Larry 1: In the Land of the Lounge Lizards: The sun is smiling during Larry's suicide.
  • Samara from the Mass Effect series fits this one: snarky pilot Joker remarks that she could probably shoot him "in a very tranquil way...which does not make me feel any better about it."
    • The LOKI mechs also count; their calm and polite "please reconsider your aggressive attitude" lines while being set on fire or shot to pieces are actually quite creepy.
    • Joker himself. Well, at least in Mass Effect, he's dead calm when doing the impossible (with everything on the line). In Mass Effect 2, he's more laid back in such situations, though still pretty stoic. Justified in that, as a pilot, he's trained to maintain emotional self-control and rational thought in intense situations.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the Cobra Unit each used a codename taken from the emotions people feel on the battlefield. Thus, The Pain, The Fury, The Sorrow, The End. What was The Boss's codename? The Joy. She does stay relatively calm throughout, too, even as she knows she'll die.
    • Interesting case. Although The Joy remains relatively calm, she is not shown smiling through much of the game. The Sorrow, on the other hand, is rarely seen unhappy, even as he's sending the ghosts of everyone you killed after you.
  • Moshi Monsters: When Simon Growl is kidnapped, he acts more bored than anything.
  • In Mother 3, at the end of the game, once you've reached the very top of the tower, before you face the Final Boss, the happiest, most light-hearted songs from the trilogy play. As for the boss himself, the mastermind behind the Crapsack World your home has become, Porky Minch, he's surprisingly calm and cheerful, despite the bombastic battle themes and the fact that he's now an Omnicidal Maniac.
  • Neverwinter Nights does not possess the capacity for characters to change their facial expression. So people in combat and close to death have exactly the same expression as people sitting in a garden eating breakfast. The voices and the music do change in combat, though.
  • Many of the inmates in Outlast have a very calm attitude despite the living hell around them. Notable examples are the duo you encounter throughout the game who watch you from a distance calmly discussing that they are going to give you a running start before tearing you apart, and who gets what body part. Also, the doctor who chats with you like a friend even when he is torturing you, cutting off a couple of your fingers, and later chasing you.
  • Eve from Parasite Eve. Her opening act consists of her setting the entire opera troupe and audience on fire through the power of her awakened mitochondria. She continues to sing her aria as calm and detached as she can be, even as the stage itself catches fire and blazes all around her.
  • Persona 3:
    Nyx Avatar: Let us finish this! It is the path of your choosing!
    • The main character when he prepares to summon his Persona for the first time. Just calmly whispering ""
  • The protagonist of Persona 4, as well, especially with Yosuke (and Chie in the anime) freaking out over the appearance of the Shadows.
    • In fact, he is almost always so calm, he can get thrown into a waterfall and doesn't even blink or even be bothered to move his body to break the fall.
  • Pokémon
  • For someone that goes through such absolute hell, Ethan Winters of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is... strangely calm about the whole ordeal. He gets a hand chainsawed off and barely reacts to it. He can also get a leg cut off and still, his reaction is of puzzlement rather than pain or panicking. However, this is only present in the English version; other dubs tend to make him much more emotional.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, Stephen serves as the ultimate DLC Superboss, yet by far has the calmest attitude of any boss in the game. Even after he stands up and fights at full power, he still speaks to you with the same polite tone that he uses when speaking to you in cutscenes.
    Stephen: (when attacking) "Ready." "Hm." "Executing program."
  • Walter, the Implacable Man of Silent Hill 4, who never drops that creepy smile of his, not even when his face is splattered with blood or when he's being shot at.
  • In Spec Ops: The Line, you can use this to tell when Capt. Walker snaps. After he and his men inadvertently do A Bad Thing, his two soldiers are screaming at each other in the background, but Walker merely stares at the results for a long moment, shuts his eyes, then calmly declares "We need to keep moving." For the rest of the game, even as Walker's in-combat quotes become more and more unhinged, he still speaks with calm assurance when it comes to completing his mission.
    • In the epilogue, after days of constant fighting and unspeakable mental trauma, Walker greets a rescue team with dead silence, a stony face, and hollow eyes. Even if he gets involved in one last firefight, his demeanor does not change in the slightest, and at most he grunts in pain if he gets hit.
  • StarCraft: The Protoss never seem to get upset about anything, not units being under fire, not the base coming under attack, not even a nuclear launch detected...
  • Suikoden V has Sagiri, a former assassin turned detective who always wears a smile. She was conditioned from a young age to always smile, mostly because the Queen Bitch assigned to training her thought it would be funny to see people killed by a smiling little girl. One other character, Nakula, watched his father get killed as a child, and her smile is the reason he recognized her as an adult.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Wii Fit Trainer spouts during battle the same motivational lines she says in Wii Fit while savagely beating up her opponents with yoga poses, adding to her whole Fighting Clown style.
    • Even while in battle, the Villager keeps his signature cheery smile almost at all times. Depending on the point of view, it's either hilarious or unnerving.
    • Pac-Man is almost always happily moving around the stage with his huge smile, whether he's smashing his opponents or drowning in the water.
  • Survivor: Fire: The girl walks with a skip, even though the whole premise of the game is that her house is on fire.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • The Engineer, who in his introduction trailer peacefully plays guitar and drinks beer while 210+ attackers are being slaughtered by his turrets.
    • Additionally, the end of the "Meet the Sandvich" trailer has the Heavy standing on a ledge and eating the eponymous sandwich while battle rages around him.
    • And most of the Spy's Man on Fire soundbites, "I appear to have burst into flames," and "I do believe I'm on fire", are delivered far more coolly than the panicked cries and screams of most of the other classes'.
    • One of Medic's taunts involves him playing his bonesaw like a violin. In the middle of a chaotic battlefield.
    • "Meet The Pyro" shows that the Pyro views the world as a Sugar Bowl, and spreads rainbows and happiness. In reality, the Pyro is torching everything and everyone in sight.
  • Yuyuko Saigyouji from the Touhou Project Series, even though she is portrayed as a Big Eater with Obfuscating Stupidity most of the time, possibly belong to this trope when she fights seriously. This feature is evident in Perfect Cherry Blossom.
  • In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, arms warriors get the Deadly Calm talent, which gives them 10 seconds during which their abilities cost no rage.
  • Wilhelm, the Big Bad of the Xenosaga trilogy. He's eternally calm and placid throughout all three games and only appears to exhibit bemused intrigue over everything. His Villainous Breakdown moment in the Grand Finale consists of a single audible gasp. Dude is ice cold.

    Visual Novels 
  • Phoenix Wright, of all people, manages to pull this off in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, even treating getting hit by a speeding car as an amusing inconvenience at worst. Becomes almost-Damon Gant-level scary when he maintains the facade while invoking Pay Evil unto Evil against the Big Bad, though.
  • Saint-Germain in Code:Realize is almost always cool and composed, and very little disturbs his air of detached amusement... which gets distinctly unsettling when he's just come out of nowhere to stab someone through the heart in Chapter 8, and downright surreal when he and Cardia are very calmly and politely discussing his plans to kill her in Chapter 10 of his route.
  • Nagito Komaeda is the reigning king of this trope in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair to intermittently calming, tragic and disturbing effect. Even when people are dying, Nagito stays calm and cheerful. It really says something about how Nagito experiences and understands the world when he has a greater emotional response to Hajime giving him a board game won from a slot machine than telling Hajime that he saw his parents die in front of him as a child, he expects to die any day now due to being terminally ill, and has accepted too late that the personal philosophy he has developed to cope with this means that he is going to die unloved and alone. Nothing big.

    Web Animation 
  • The Undertaker of The Backwater Gospel remains disturbingly calm throughout the entire film. He remains sitting in one spot through most of the film and doesn't even flinch when the whole town starts killing each other, even less so when the Minister points a gun at him. And at the end of it all, he slowly gets up, whistles an Ironic Nursery Rhyme, and starts measuring the coffin-size for the nearest dead body.
  • In If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, Magnus' only reaction to a few thousand Inquisitors facing him is annoyance that someone forgot to close the door and let the crazy people in, the "door" in question being Eternity Gate, capable of withstanding most of what humanity can throw at them. It's also justified in that he's a Daemon Primarch, and when he finally gets tired of all the Inquisitorial blustering, he casually banishes the entire group to the setting's equivalent of Hell with a single wave of a hand.
  • A Sonic Christmas Carol is Yet Another Christmas Carol interpreted by Sonic characters has Yet To Come who has a polite, soft and upmost cheerful Creepy Monotone while discussing dark topics and ambiguous intentions.
  • RWBY: In Volume 7, after Ironwood's fear and paranoia over Salem have finally driven him Off The Slippery Slope, and he decides to abandom Mantle to the Grimm while turning Atlas into a police state, he becomes almost unnaturally calm and quiet, to absolutely chilling effect. The Tin Man lost his heart...
    • In Volume 9, Neopolitan pulls this off, gently bobbing her head and smiling with sweet, innocent delight as she informs Ruby that she will enjoy watching her break.

  • Awful Hospital: Dr. Man's smile never wavers. Same with Burgrr employee BBQ Girll.
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: After being thwarted in absorbing Broly, U4 Buu returns to the arena pissed off, and looks like he's about to kill Vegitto, Bra, and Gohan (and probably would, considering how weakened they are) and then... calmly congratulates them, thanks them for a fun fight, wishes them luck, and walks back to his booth. It comes off as incredibly creepy and foreboding.
  • El Goonish Shive: When the driver of a car swerves to avoid a raccoon, the driver and the passenger in the front seat are appropriately startled. However, Ashley is sitting in the back seat under the effects of calm spell, so her expression never changes (link contains spoilers).
  • Frankie and Stein has Stein acting this way... a lot. From graverobbing grinningly, to stealing a brain with a grin on his face, to excitedly explaining what he's going to do next half-way through creating his own Frankenstein's Monster with blood all over his face. Only, he's a little more upbeat than serene. This strip, in particular.
  • Lackadaisy: In one disconnected strip, Mordecai and Viktor are shown to have this immediately after killing a room full of rival gangbangers. Mordecai seems completely unfazed by it, while Viktor is at least managing surprise that the fight happened. Viktor only becomes disturbed at Mordecai's complete indifference and his failed attempts at coming up with a more feasible emotional response. In general, Mordecai has this approach to his more violent work, due to being a sociopath, while Viktor's lack of response is more due to being perpetually grumpy.
  • Nuzlocke Comics: The creator's White run uses this a lot. Cheren and Bianca are Creepy Children with perpetual smiles even after Hilbert's suicide, and N's Pidove at Nacerene City does nothing but softly coo as it turns Hank the Pansear into a Gory Discretion Shot. Coo.
  • Robber x Lover: After Gang Dojin leaves to slam his head against a wall in frustration over being mistaken for a robber, he reenters and offers to sit down and talk things out, blood dripping down his face from where he smashed it and wearing a calm smile.
  • The Sanity Circus:
    • Posey is just as calm and smiling blasting open Attley's house with magic as she was hanging out with her on the street a few hours earlier.
    • Luther is also capable of smiling and making casual offhand remarks while dueling a fearsome shadow monster that could instantly kill him.
  • Oasis from Sluggy Freelance gets this a lot. For example ...
    • She also flies into impassioned rages at the drop of a hat. I.E. The very next strip.
  • Colonel Glass from Spinnerette seems to behave like this quite often, as he does here.
  • In Troops of Doom, this is part of what makes Legonians so creepy. They always have that little smile on their faces, even when they're snarling out threats of gruesome revenge.
  • Unsounded:
    • Starfish beats Ephsephin to death with a mild smile, while Ephsephin begs and gurgles on his own blood.
    • Lemuel smiles disconcertingly as he slaughters his way through a rebel ambush, Daune calls on him to stop when he's about to slide his sword through one of their eyes and undoes the enemy glamor making their captain look like an enemy. When said captain yells at the still smiling Lem, whose sword is still held about an inch from his eye, Lem calmly tells him to calm down because he was going to do him quick.
  • This the basis of the xkcd "Roller Coaster Chess" (aspired to meme): people taking advantage of cameras on roller coasters to get in pictures of themselves pretending to focus on a game of chess instead of throwing their arms out and screaming like the rest of the riders.
  • Zebra Girl: While everyone else is stunned or panicked when they learn that Sandra is back, Crystal looks initially surprised, before smiling.

    Web Original 
  • From Killerbunnies, we have Valeriemissy Hearton is described as being cheerful and has the overall appearance of just being ditzy, however, she is capable of giving death threats with said smile
    Snow: She was constantly smiling and was strangely cheerful and childish, giggling and smiling, overall jovial and zany, almost friendly, yet capable of giving death threats with a smile.
  • General Asanee from The Salvation War, whose calm is so scary she doesn't need to swear.
  • This twitter post featuring Cassandra from Tangled: The Series has her calmly state she's been feeling a darkness growing within her recently, with a soft smile that seems more appropriate to discussing what you've done with your week. And given this is late Season 2 Cassandra, her saying that is quite the understatement.

    Web Videos 
  • Outside Xbox:
  • Tokino Sora of hololive is famous in VTuber circles for what she calls "sub-par reactions" to scares whenever she streams a horror game. Where her peers might be screaming their heads off, she will be giving dull acknowledgement. She even claims to her audience that she usually goes to sleep to horror streams.
  • YandereDev of Yandere Simulator is known for keeping a calm, even voice when discussing all the incredibly messed-up things the Yandere protagonist might do to keep rivals away from her senpai.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Poison Ivy always starts off sounding calm and sultry, like a proper, in control noir seductress. The sort've woman who'll playfully flirt with a man as he's restrained by her pet Man-Eating Plant, slinking in close behind to teasingly caress his shoulders while explaining why his friend needed to be fatally poisoned earlier, sensuous tone maintained, like they were two lovebirds on a date. It's only when her Berserk Button concerning plants is triggered that the sexy vampiness falls off and you see the raging murderess Ivy is underneath. This is all perfectly demonstrated in her aptly titled debut episode "Pretty Poison."
  • Beavis and Butt-Head:
    • "No Laughing" has Butt-Head bounce a pencil right into Beavis' eye, who at first screams in agony. Then Butt-Head only casually remarks "Woah, that was cool. It really does happen!" and Beavis merely yanks the pencil out and laughs as if nothing happened.
    • In "Nosebleed", after Butt-Head breaks Beavis' nose, the former remarks that the latter's heavy nosebleed is the coolest thing that Beavis has ever done. Beavis agrees, though.
    • In "Woodshop", as Beavis gushes blood after putting his own finger on the table saw, Butt-Head just calmly stares and laughs along with him. Butt-Head even calls Beavis' injury "cool".
  • BoJack Horseman: Sarah Lynn is almost always chill about things she should be more concerned with (save for a breakup with Andrew Garfield). It possibly stems from her Addled Addict nature, but who's to say?
    • When Andrew Garfield broke up with her, she stabbed herself with a rusty bayonet to call attention to it and only let out the occasional sound of pain, even though she was bleeding everywhere. While on the way to the hospital for it, she was nothing but euphoric about it. As it wound up, she didn't actually get it patched and checked out by a real doctor... she just sealed it with duct tape and deemed it "good as new." A rusty bayonet.
    • She casually states why she's able to distinguish the taste of bear fur: her stepdad was a bear. Bradley, Joelle, and BoJack have to take a moment to process what she's just said, but she's numb as they come. This crosses into Gallows Humor territory, as do most mentions of her Terry Richardson-based stepdad.
  • Centaurworld: In "Ride the Whaletaur Shaman!", when the whaletaur shaman swallows Horse whole, Merguy is unnervingly serene and doesn't break his peaceful expression even as the wave from the whaletaur crashing into the sea washes over the herd, and afterwards simply comments on the sunset.
    Merguy: Ahh. Look at that sunset! Love this time of day.
    Glendale: Our friend has jumped into a whaletaur, you psychopath!
  • DC Showcase: Death: Death remains perfectly calm even as Vincent realizes he's dead. The way she gently treats him shows that she's seen this many times before, but it also indicates how otherworldly she is.
  • Futurama: Bender's cigar starts a fire in a museum exhibit containing very rare, and flammable, silk tapestries. Soon the whole room is ablaze, with everyone cowering in fear. Except for Fry, who spent the whole episode drinking coffee (spending his $300 rebate on 100 cups of coffee). He drinks the last of the 100 cups and turns from a gibbering mess into a paragon of peace and serenity. He is able to put out all of the fires and rescue everyone while moving in extreme fast motion (Leela would later attest to seeing only a bright, orange blur).
  • Kaeloo is normally in constant bliss and completely unaware of the chaos going on around her.
  • Overlapping with their Casual Danger Dialogue, in the Kim Possible episode "Ill Suited" once they sort out their relationship problems Kim is all smiles while fighting a battle-suited Ron, even though the person remote-controlling the suit is trying to kill her.
  • Happens several times on Moral Orel, such as Orel standing cheerily in a Blood Bath (made up of his friends' blood) as they stand around him, faint from the loss.
  • In the Demographic-Dissonant Crossover between Supernatural & Scooby-Doo, Scoobynatural, the Winchesters and Mystery Inc. come across a murder victim lying in a pool of his own blood. The Scooby gang all show mild shock before immediately doing a 180 and treating it like business as usual, with Velma cheerfully suggesting they look for the culprit's fingerprints and "fluids". Sam is very put off by it.
  • From The Simpsons: As an epic Mafia war unfolds on their front lawn, Marge urges Homer into the house, but he points out that the one of the Yakuza is just standing in the middle of the fighting, arms crossed, not doing anything. "The little guy hasn't done anything yet! He's gonna do something, and you know it's gonna be good!" Homer still gets pushed inside, and immediately afterward we hear the sounds of one loud karate yell, one connected blow, and about three bodies hitting the ground. Cue Homer's disappointed groan.
    • The same little guy's reaction to being hurled through their window — calmly getting up, brushing off the glass, bowing to them, apologizing and walking out the front door.
    • In another episode, Bart gets a fake ID, rents a car, and crashes it in Tennessee. Lisa is unable to come up with a way to get Bart back on her own, so she explains the problem to Homer, but has him promise not to get mad first. Homer manages to keep a level voice and a perfect poker face, though it gains a brief purplish tinge.
  • Steven Universe:
    • White Diamond appears quite calm and understanding in the face of seemingly learning one of her "daughters" staged a rebellion against her empire, faked her own assassination, hid away under an assumed identity for 6,000 years, and then up and walked back into her throne room as a half-organic, no less. Almost too calm and understanding. When she finally loses her temper, it's explosive.
    • White Pearl constantly speaks in a near-emotionless condescending tone, despite the obvious terror of the subjects around her and her mistress. There is a dark truth behind this...
    • Pink Steven, a hard-light construct of Steven's gem self, shows absolutely no emotions on his face, but screams with so much hatred, rage, and loudness it knocks over White Diamond.
  • In Thundercats 2011 Eccentric Mentor the Drifter bets The Hero Lion-O that he can't split the willow reed the Drifter holds in his mouth. Lion-O is given three swings of his sword to try. After a very brief facefault when he realizes the finesse-less Lion-O intends to charge him Barbarian Hero style, the Drifter shuts his eyes, smiles, and proceeds to bust out wuxia-level Not Quite Flight Nonchalant Dodges and Dance Battler moves, all while keeping the same expression and delivering taunts in a relaxed, conversational tone, to make a point about Lion-O's lack of swordsmanship.
  • In one Tom and Jerry cartoon, Spike and his son Tyke are trying to have a barbecue, in spite of Tom and Jerry's shenanigans. At one point, as Spike tosses the salad for the barbecue, Tom, in chasing Jerry, lands in the salad bowl, and Spike becomes upset but speaks calmly: "Do me a little favor, would you, pal? GET OUTTA MY SALAD!!" And Tom is only too happy to oblige.
    Spike: (to Tyke) Son, now you know why dogs hate cats.

  • The Disaster Girl meme embodies this to the fullest, the picture being a girl no older than five smiling almost sinisterly into the camera while firefighters are putting out a burning house in the background.
  • Title of a Sports Illustrated article: "Joe Mauer Will Serenely, Politely Crush You."
  • The Weather Channel can veer into this if the local forecasts are for an area currently being threatened by a major weather event — specifically the computerized voice calmly informing the viewers of the dire conditions.
  • In traditional art, angels are often portrayed this way when in battle with demons, they could be exhibiting Tranquil Fury, but the former is more likely.
  • A fundamental characteristic of Hindu gods. Under absolutely no circumstances are they to be portrayed with anything other than a completely stoic, non-emotional face no matter what the situation is. A god can be neck-deep in demons and oceans of blood and fire, but he's gotta be cool about it.
  • In a stare-down, the guy who stays composed in the face of bluster, threatening gestures, maybe even a brandished weapon or two can be far more intimidating than the other. Only a fool or someone supremely capable can remain calm in a volatile situation. If the clearly outmatched party is doing this, it can actually be enough to dissuade escalation.
  • #10 on this Cracked list.
  • From the realm of sports, specifically MMA, Fedor Emelianenko absolutely belongs here. Never has a man made whaling on another man's face look more serene.
  • Many jobs require this:
    • Military personnel are, of course, required to keep their cool even when everything is blowing up
    • First responders such as police, trauma doctors/nurses, EMTs and firefighters need to do their jobs calmly even under disastrous circumstances.
      • Also required for their dispatchers, who answer 911 calls and tell the first responders where to go. A calm, clear voice is crucial when giving CPR instructions to a panicked caller, sending backup because an officer is in trouble, dispatching help to someone they personally know, and every other emergent or routine situation they may encounter. Cell phones can be useless, and while The Radio Dies First is thankfully often averted nowadays, sound can be distorted and background noise can drown out important info.
    • Because small children are very good at picking up on subtle body language and become scared and overwhelmed very easily, kindergarten teachers and other people who have worked with small children for any amount of time need to remain calm at all times.
    • Journalists are like this, too. Comments to the video footage of the Challenger shuttle disaster reveal that many people don't understand the professional calm of CNN's Tom Mintier and especially Steve Nesbitt at Mission Control ("Obviously a major malfunction"). Nesbitt said later he felt like a house had dropped on him, but he had to continue to relay accurate information as quickly and smoothly as possible. The same was true of the newspeople reporting on the September 11, 2001, attacks.
    • A number of large chain department stores and others have a retinue of "codes" to use for announcing (pseudo-secretly) that something serious is going on... "Code Adam" is a missing kid, "Code Blue" is a medical emergency, "Code Gray" is someone with a gun, etc.
    • Chemists and chemical engineers tend to be like this when encountering strange odors or substances. Hmm. Pungent odor. Smells like hydrochloric acid and oligopeptides...
    • No matter how disgusting a medical procedure may be, doctors and nurses are usually always calm about it; and have to be, as a single mistake in surgery or administering the wrong drug can go a long way.
    • The "Chuck Yeager Drawl" AKA Danger Deadpan is this, as expressed by professional pilots (whether test pilots, airline pilots or astronauts).
  • This street interview about rules in Japan. It's mostly pretty standard stuff, but at the end, one of the girls casually states her support of the death penalty for murderers (her exact [translated] words: "...if you kill a person, you should die too.") with a chuckle and smile.
  • Many autistic people can slip into a state called "shutdown" when overstimulated. In this state, they often lose their ability to function or think clearly. It's often mistaken for serenity, but serenity is always a rewarding state for many neurotypicals, while autistic shutdown is not a controlled state.
  • Because Japanese culture values stoicism so highly, there are lots of notable examples of this behavior from Japanese history and the present day. Think of how serenely kamikaze pilots and samurai attempting hara-kiri appear as they head towards an ugly and almost certain death.
  • Thích Quảng Đức, was a Buddhist priest who set himself on fire in protest of the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government in June 1963. Because he notified the press, photographers were on hand to capture on film Duc dousing himself with gasoline, lighting up, and then serenely sit there as he was consumed by the flames. A witness stated: "As he burned he never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound, his outward composure in sharp contrast to the wailing people around him". His death prompted massive public protests that led to the coup that killed President Diem. Duc's heart remained intact, even after a second cremation to reduce the body to ashes for safe-keeping. The heart was kept and revered as a sacred relic.


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Alternative Title(s): Serene Dissonance


Doctor X

Seeking to push humanity past its natural limits, there is no ethical line that Doctor X won't cross to pursue his goals.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

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Main / EvilutionaryBiologist

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