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Finger-Forced Smile

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A Stock Pose about a physically-forced smile. This takes on 2 forms:

  • A character uses their hands to force another character's mouth into a smile. In this case, it's usually done to a character that does not smile much if at all, by a character that desires to see them smile. Or by the Keet cast member to someone who's down.
  • A character uses their own hands to push their mouth into a smile. This can mean that the character is forcing themselves to smile, which may imply that they're emotionally repressed/cannot express emotions normally.

Depending on the outcome, this can lead to either When She Smiles or The Unsmile.

Compare and contrast Happiness Is Mandatory when smiles are forced in an industrialized way with much darker intentions. Rubber Face is when a character stretches out another's face comically, not necessarily into a smile. Subtrope of Technically a Smile.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You: Nano and Momiji give these to each other in Chapter 102 while undergoing maid training due to being unable to smile on their own.
  • Darker than Black:
  • In the second season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, a flashback shows a young girl who's just become a full-body cyborg after a plane crash. A doctor tries to "help" her smile this way (presumably assuming she hasn't worked out how to smile), but she waves him off (which is the first hint she's The Major and an even more subtle clue that the boy she's being introduced to's Kuze).
  • Komi Can't Communicate: The titular protagonist does this a couple times to calm down a crying baby. Justified because she doesn't emote her expressions much, and when she tries to smile normally she actually scares the baby.
  • In the Recort arc of Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-, Fai does this to Kurogane, explaining that otherwise he doesn't look "trustworthy." After all, they're trying to steal a valuable book from a heavily-guarded library.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Nana did this to Toshinori as part of her showing him how to become the Symbol of Peace: if he smiles while helping people, he can instill the feeling that everything will be alright.
    • Eri can't make herself properly smile, even while tugging her own cheeks, after being rescued from Overhaul, as she's still haunted by his cruelty toward her.
  • In Pokémon Journeys: The Series, Marnie does it after her battle with Ash. See also her entry on the Video Games folder below.
  • In the finale of Smile PreCure!, Candy does this to Miyuki and asks her to smile for her one last time.
  • In Violet Evergarden, Violet herself does it when the client she's writing love letters for becomes a bit concerned by her lack of emotion. You can see it here.
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets: The cover of Volume 10 shows Yotsuba using her fingers to pull her mouth into a painfully forced smile. This falls into the second type, since she's trying to hide her pain over feeling unworthy of pursuing the guy she loves.

    Comic Books 
  • The "selfie" alternate cover of Batman/Superman #14. Supes is making the Bat smile.
  • Enforced in issue #2 of Paranoia, when King is given a "Count-Your-Blessings Intensive Therapy Device". This is a small robot hat with hooks that grab the corners of his mouth; whenever it detects that King is unhappy, it pulls the corners into an ever-widening grin.

    Film - Animated 

    Film - Live Action 
  • In Broken Blossoms, poor sad little Lucy has to do this to appease her brutal, vicious, physically abusive father. As the narration notes, she never had a reason to smile genuinely.
  • In Hook, the Lost Boys are poring over the adult Peter and trying to ascertain if he's really the Pan they once knew. Finally, one of them pushes his mouth into a smile.
    "There you are, Peter Pan."
  • In the Buster Keaton film Go West, this is how "The Great Stone Face" smiles when he's forced to at gunpoint.
  • Joker (2019): In the first scene, Arthur Fleck is shown forcing himself to smile in this manner. Later, he tries the same thing on a young Bruce Wayne. The ending has him finally succeeding in making a smile that sticks, but now it's a full-on Broken Smile.
  • In UHF, George tries to cheer Bob up by making him smile this way, after inadvertently causing them both to lose their jobs at Burger World.
  • Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981): Jane asks Tarzan, who doesn't understand English, to smile and very tentatively reaches for his face. He grabs her hands at first but gradually lets her touch him and gently force the corners of his mouth up in a smile. He tolerates this.

  • A variant in one Shel Silverstein poem — a giant "[grows] tired of his saggy frown" and hires the narrator and a friend to hold up the corners of his mouth.
    It sure can be hard work, making someone smile.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of Star Trek: Voyager had Neelix try to make Tuvok smile in this way. Tuvok's response was to strangle him to death. "Fortunately," it was all a holodeck simulation.
  • In an episode of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, London accidentally loses Maddie's broach and then buys her a new one. When Maddie reacts with a Disapproving Look, London simply says "Let's turn that frown upside down" and then moves Maddie's mouth with her hands to make it look like a smile. However, Maddie simply grabs her own mouth and positions it back to its frowny place.
  • In the opening sequence of Punky Brewster, Punky makes Henry smile like this.
  • In one Broad City episode, Abbi and Ilana both do this after a stranger on the street tells them to smile.
  • The Monkees: In "The Christmas Show," Melvin does this when Mike encourages him to smile, as he is seemingly incapable of genuinely smiling.

  • In Meghan Trainor's All About That Bass, at one point she does this to her Barbie boyfriend.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Dieting Garfield does this to make himself smile after Jon tells him to cheer up in the September 25, 1989 strip.
  • OK, Scientific American is no newspaper, but it fits here best and its Dec 2016 cartoon proves the trope even applies to vaguely anthropomorphic fishes.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • While not always used in this manner, the illegal holds known as "fish hooks" can be used this way, and they can cause permanent damage, meaning that smile might last the rest of your life if unlucky. (Not to be confused with a fisherman's hook, which is a completely different, legal maneuver)
  • Gabby Gilbert used said fishhook, as well as involuntary dancing, in an effort to get Mika Iida to smile in REINA.
  • In her on going effort to prove she's still a fearsome wrestler, space cadet Mickie Knuckles forces a smile on the largest opponent she could find at a PGWA event, Miss Rachel.

    Theme Parks 
  • At Universal Studios:
    • Happens at the end of the first pre-show for Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, when all three of the girls pull on Gru's mouth to make him smile for the audience.
    • An extremely dark variation of this occurs in the 2003 commercial for Universal's Halloween Horror Nights. In the commercial, the icon of that year, The Director, forces a terrified jester to smile by impaling two hooks into each of his cheeks and then pulling said hooks upwards. The jester's real emotions are made very clear when a close-up shot shows a single tear coming out of his eye. Here's the link to the commercial for anyone that's feeling up to watching it.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • The Fruit of Grisaia: Though we doesn't get to see it, protagonist Yuuji does this to himself in Michiru's route when Yumiko questions him about the frightening expression on his face. Since he was just lost in tought he tries to reassure her this way.

    Web Animation 
  • Alastor does this to another character, Husk, in Hazbin Hotel. This fits in with his characterization of expecting perpetual happiness from those around him, which could also fall under the Happiness Is Mandatory trope.

  • Inverted in one Sandra on the Rocks strip, where Sandra, after smiling all day on a modelling gig, goes on a "smile-free dinner" with Pierre.
  • In Skin Deep, a lady down the bar buys Ike Sanford a beer, but he's not allowed to drink it unless he smiles first. When Ike looks puzzled, she demonstrates 'smiling' this way.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: After a certain event that has a good reason to make both of them sad, Tuuri decides to take things in stride, while Lalli settles for the "being constantly sullen" option. While Lalli gets away with it with the other members of the crew, Tuuri won't let it happen on her watch, resulting in forcing him to smile with her fingers.
  • In Whomp!, Ronnie once did this by using his feet..

    Web Video 
  • In The Mandela Catalogue Vol. 333, the Alternate that appears near the end to drive Thatcher to suicide has to forcibly morph its face like clay to form a smile, just before it lets out a bout of deranged laughter.

    Western Animation 
  • A variation occurs in an episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy, when Ed puts a wire coat-hanger in his mouth in order to force his mouth into a giant smile.
  • In an episode of The Lion King's Timon & Pumbaa titled "New Guinea Pig", Pumbaa is unhappy with his tusks, and, seeing his best friend unhappy, Timon uses his fingers to prop up Pumbaa's cheeks in an effort to get him to cheer up.
  • In one Looney Tunes cartoon, Sylvester comes face to face with an angry bulldog. Sylvester pushes up the corners of his mouth and his eyebrows to make him look happy and friendly, but the dog just pushes them back down.
  • Pinkie Pie sometimes does this to others in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (like to Cranky in "A Friend in Deed"), but in her case it's a hoof forced smile.