An athlete in a race, an adventurer on top of a train, a pirate boarding a ship, a cunning politician executing an amazing plan, a Lovable Rogue during a Swordfight, a warrior during a Last Stand, two friends sparring—anyone facing an interesting and fun challenge with a reasonable chance of failure will sport one of these smiles. It's usually a bit forced, showing the strain and stress the user is under, and sometimes there could be a certain edge of malice and aggressiveness to it, even insanity: a hint of Blood Lust, to be precise. Alongside genuine heroes, it's also very common amongst AntiHeroes of the Unscrupulous and Nominal types as well, especially if they are young and/or adrenaline junkies. It is usually coupled with a steady gaze, even a frown of sorts.
The heroic counterpart to the Slasher Smile and the Psychotic Smirk, which both are mostly about enjoying the anticipation of hurting others, especially when it's secret and they're unaware of the threat. In contrast, the Grin of Audacity is about relishing the anticipation of winning.
It may overlap with Dying Smirk.
- Black Lagoon: In contrast to the bloodthirsty Slasher Smiles sported by many of the cast, Rock's badass smiles tend toward these. They primarily come out when Rock has some kind of crazy plan in mind, or when he proposes something that's just... incomprehensible by most villain standards (like asking mercy for their victims). Justified since he stated that he asked for it because he likes it, just like the bad dudes loves to blow themselves up. You first see one on him at the very beginning, when Revy challenges him, a Japanese salaryman to a drinking duel. As of El Baile De La Muerte, Rock's Grin Of Audacity has become pretty damn unnerving (and blurring the lines between this trope and the Slasher Smile), to the point where Revy seems uneasy.
- In Brave10, numerous members of the cast sport these whenever it comes time to fight, bordering on Slasher Smile sometimes when the more loose canon Braves get provoked.
- In Dragon Ball Goku gives a confident smile when he's prepared to face a strong opponent. Something Roshi Lampshades at least once, much to the irritation of Goku's wife.
- Bleach: The Blood Knight protagonists will often sport this when a fight is beginning to get difficult - a challenge that tends to thrill them. As a result, Kenpachi, Ikkaku, Renji and even Ichigo tend to give one of these when they've acknowledged they have a Worthy Opponent and will therefore have earned the win they're aiming to achieve.
- Natsu Dragneel from Fairy Tail is basically the same as Luffy in this regard. He challenges stronger guildmates apparently just for the fun of it, and wears this while fighting them.
- Fire Force: Crossing over with The Un-Smile, Shinra Kasukabe has a tendency to grin like a madman whenever he is in a perilous situation, not so much because he's confident as much as it is a mental defense mechanism. This, unfortunately, made him something of a pariah as a child when his nervous grin was misconstrued as sociopathy when he was suspected of having started a fire that killed his family.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Jail Scaglietti laughs when Fate finally captures him after years of pursuit.
- Kobayashi of Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid gives one right before she starts arguing with Tohru's father. It stands out immediately since she's normally The Stoic.
- Lupin III's cocky smile is seen whenever he's mid-heist or is about to get the advantage. Seeing as this is Lupin we're talking about, this is often.
- Jigen sometimes gets his own grin when he is truly enjoying himself. It is not too far off from Lupin's own grin.
- Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
- When, after everything Negi has thrown at him, Jack Rakan still gets up to fight, Negi isn't sad, or angry, he's 'awed all over again!'
- Also a little bit earlier during a fight with Kagetarou, when Negi realizes he's at a big disadvantage (though this one is with a bit of Bloodlust)
- Unless you've seriously pissed him off, Luffy from One Piece has this as his default expression when fighting. Zoro blurs the line between this and Slasher Smile.
- Lelouch of Code Geass, constantly. Most poignantly in episode 4, as he is preparing for his first maneuver as Zero.
- In Rebuild World, Akira often sports one of these when in the thick of a fight, especially when Alpha offers him any semblance of good news given his bad luck. People who see him doing this mistake him for a Blood Knight, when Akira is actually terrified.
- Eventually after establishing a Bash Brothers sort of bond with Carol, they both do this while fighting together on his flying motorcycle.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann delivers some particularly compelling examples.
- One good example comes from climax at the first episode. Simon, Kamina and Yoko are in Lagann and Simon has manifested drills on Lagann to defeat the Gunman. The Gunman is being used as an impromptu drill while the trio head to the surface. As Kamina proclaims they're heading to the surface, Simon manages to crack out a confident smile for the first time and giving the audience a glimpse at the true power the young man possesses.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, there is often a scene where Jaden is losing and takes a hard attack, and gets up off the ground looking downcast, seemingly holding back emotion... and then his Hidden Eyes are revealed, he's laughing in joy, and he's wearing one of these. He then proclaims that he's enjoying the duel and will continue to do so, especially because he's about to win. Given the typical state of the game at that point, his opponent is usually dismissive - but he usually proceeds to do just that.
- The Flash is prone to these, at least the DCAU version.
- So are many Robins and Batgirl in the Batman family. Usually: in their case, it's youthful enthusiasm, insecure optimism, and a bit of a prankster spirit.
- And then there's some of Frank Miller's All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, when it isn't an outright Slasher Smile. Frank Miller is very fond of this trope in general. Sin City and 300 had many of those, and the movies even more so. Even when heroic, his characters tend to be on the bloodthirsty, violent side: aggressiveness is the key point here, and showing they are unscrupulous heroes.
- Okko: In the Flash Back to his adolescence, when Okko is cornered during a fight against a Yojimbo, he give her a Slasher Smile before turning his back to the enemy with a confidant grin. She try to attack him, only to be defeated by his newly mastered technique.
- Wonder Woman (1987): Diana tosses a wild grin at Natasha after Diana fights Ectreba and knocks her out and has the prisoner Ectreba had been "questioning" taken to medical, and then informs everyone that she and Ectreba will be questioning the man together the next day.
- One of the clear differences between Plastic Man and Elongated Man without getting into motivations and backstories is that the former grins and smirks, while the later smiles kindly.
- Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Rodan's beak forms a grin at the idea of getting payback on Ghidorah for dominating him, in Chapter 13. Viv and San have a few such grins over the course of the story when it comes to the prospect of getting their own payback on Ghidorah or fighting generally.
- Anglerfish: Tim grins when the gangsters he's fighting all crowd him and talk like they've got the upper hand; they've only put themselves in better range for him to take them out. He's less amused when Jason shows up shooting at the mouth of the alley.
- While Loki occasionally pulls one of these in Child of the Storm, mention must go to its most constant bearer, Magnificent Bastard Stephen Strange, for whom a Gambit Pile Up is just part of his own Batman Gambit, and whose smile is usually code for 'you're completely and utterly screwed'.
- Harry develops one in the sequel, which is noted to look worryingly like Strange's.
- In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality's fan art, Harry is often represented wearing this, as befits a Young Conqueror, as do his retainers in the Chaos Legion (don't ask). Then a certain Wham Episode happens, some illusions are shattered, and Harry's expressions become much more grim: it's instead Hermione and her group that take up most of the more optimistic kind of heroing.
- Yesterday Upon The Stair's Izuku forces himself to smile under stress.
Tsuyu: He scares villains by being super strong, and you can scare them by smiling at them like you're about to eat a baby.
- The Lion King (1994): There's that scene with "I walk on the wild side... I laugh in the face of danger ha ha ha ha!" First it's young Simba, then Nala does it right before the big battle at the end.
- Mulan is about to be cut down by the leader of the invading army, and stops him by smiling at what's behind him.
- Eugene in Tangled wears this as he tries to speak an apology to Maximus before riding to Rapunzel's rescue.
- In Turning Red, Abby wears this as she passes a note in class behind the teacher's back.
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Wonder Woman in contrast to everyone else fighting Doomsday, sports a grin after being thrown across the battlefield that says they're enjoying this battle.
- Gandhi is good at this, although it's a cute little smile rather than a grin. (Truth In Television and Ben Kingsley does it perfectly.) He gives it to menacing British authorities when he knows he's right. It's extremely disarming, especially in response to "You're under arrest!"
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- In the Stinger of The Avengers, when told that fighting the humans is to "court death", Thanos smiles.
- Captain Marvel (2019): Carol unlocking her binary state causes the power on Mar-Vell's ship to go haywire and cut out, including extinguishing the force field bars of the jail cell where the Skrulls are all being held. Cue Talos grinning as he prepares to fight their captors.
- The Mask in his movie and cartoon version tends to wear a more overjoyed, confident version of this. The anticipation isn't of effort, but of immense fun. By the end of the film, Ipkiss wears it a couple of times to signify he Took a Level in Badass.
- Our Miss Brooks: In The Movie Grand Finale, Mrs. Davis suggests to Mr. Boynton that Lawrence Nolan had induced Miss Brooks to take a trip on his yacht so he might seduce her. Mr. Boynton is outraged, and begins frantically checking his address book. Meanwhile, Mrs. Davis smiles and stifles a giggles, overjoyed that her use of Operation: Jealousy was off to a fine start!
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: "Now bring me that horizon!" Captain Jack Sparrow is very excited he got his ship back.
- In The Princess Bride, Wesley has no problem cracking a grin in the most dire of circumstances.
- Traditionally associated with St. Trinian's, which is almost entirely populated by female Lovable Rogue types, ever since the time of the founder Fritton, who was a Lovable Rogue himself. He was also William Shakespeare. And, he was a woman.
- Star Wars:
- Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith, just as he, Obi-Wan, and Odd Ball's squadron of clone pilots prepare to slog their way through a swarm of Seperatist fighters between them and their target.
Anakin: This is where the fun begins.
- Rogue One: General Antoc Merrick sports such a grin as he leads Blue Squadron in an attack run on the Imperial walkers harassing Rogue One's commandos on Scarif.
- Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith, just as he, Obi-Wan, and Odd Ball's squadron of clone pilots prepare to slog their way through a swarm of Seperatist fighters between them and their target.
- Wonder Woman (2017): After Diana's Shockwave Clap incident in training, all the Amazons look on her with fearful awe. Her mother is horrified that her power is manifesting. Antiope? She smirks as she lays on the ground after getting Blown Across the Room by the shockwave; she finally succeeded in getting her niece's latent divine powers to manifest.
- Cyrano de Bergerac's various incarnations often wear this.
- Morgan and Derry exchange wicked grins in Deryni Rising just before Morgan secretly uses his powers to give a Connaiti mercenary his comeuppance.
- Tavi from the Codex Alera frequently sports one of these, especially when coming up with a plan or taking on overwhelming odds. His friends and family quickly learn to dread seeing it.
- A family trait of the Mccaffreys in Rapunzel Let Down. The father is a politician and his hot-blooded sons enjoy hazardous escapades.
- A regular feature of Kelsier from Mistborn: The Original Trilogy, usually as a deliberate form of defiance.
- Doctor Who:
- The Third Doctor has a memorable sequence in "The Sea Devils" in which he pins the Master at sword-point, and then starts eating the Master's lunch in front of him while smirking enormously.
- The Fourth Doctor, an arrogant, reckless and Nightmare Fetishistic adrenaline-junkie and Lord President of the Cheshire Cat Grin, does this very frequently in his more action-orientated serials (like "The Seeds of Doom" where he flashes one while snapping a man's neck, pointing a gun at a room full of villains, and so on). He also does an amazingly big one at the end of "The Invasion of Time" to signify that he's returning to acting like himself, after being acting in a cold, humourless and smileless way for the entire story thus far as part of a Batman Gambit. One absolutely heartbreaking example is in "Logopolis", when the dying Doctor glances up at his concerned companions, and flashes his distinctive, terrifying, mad smile for a fraction of a second before mumbling his last words and regenerating.
- The Thirteenth Doctor carries on the proud tradition, sporting a wide cheeky grin as she does anything crazy, awesome, or crazy awesome. If she's about to thwart the Villain of the Week, her smile can become downright feral.
- On Glee, this is the typical expression worn by characters during uplifting songs, especially Barbara Streisand-style songs about extremely ambitious and extremely insecure characters.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Halbrand has a confident smirk on his face every time he is up to something (and he is up to something all the time), befitting his roguish charm.
- Motherland: Fort Salem: The Marshal frequently sports one when No Selling the witches' Work.
- Our Miss Brooks:
- Sported by Walter Denton, whenever conniving to pull an especially severe prank on Mr. Conklin. Being told off sometimes serves to encourage the grin (except by Mr. Conklin himself, of whom Denton is somewhat afraid). Noticeable in "Wild Goose", "Space, Who Needs It?", "Cure That Habit", "Marinated Hearing" and "Spare That Rod!".
- Walter is also proud of having a "dark secret". In "Citizen's League", Miss Brooks suffers from guilt for having accidentally stuck a pin in the seat of the church organist Mrs. Dunfy when fitting her dress for the governor's wedding. Miss Brooks asks Walter if he himself has a dark secret. Walter smirks, laughs, and says he does. However, after being chewed out by Miss Brooks, Walter admits it's far from terrible, and again in the nature of a teenage prank.
- In "Wake Up Plan", Mr. Conklin laughs at his having sent a letter to the board of education, reporting Miss Brooks for missing her morning classes. This is in spite of admitted to himself, out loud, that it was a terrible thing to do.
- In The Movie Grand Finale, Mrs. Davis suggests to Mr. Boynton that Lawrence Nolan had induced Miss Brooks to take a trip on his yacht so he might seduce her. Mr. Boynton is outraged, and begins frantically checking his address book. Meanwhile, Mrs. Davis smiles and stifles a giggles, overjoyed that her use of Operation: Jealousy was off to a fine start!
- Person of Interest: Reese often sports these as the series goes on.
- The Wire: in a series filled with "devious motherfuckers", this comes up often. Omar does a particularly easy, flippant grin, whether he be robbing a drug dealer at gun point or testifying against one in a courtroom.
- The traditional Border ballad "Lock the Door, Lariston" is about a besieged reiver with a cunning plan.
Why dost thou smile, noble Elliot of Lariston?
Why does the joy-candle gleam in thine eye?
Bold border ranger, beware of thy danger,
Thy foes are relentless, determined and nigh!
- The Miracle of Sound song "Here We Go Again" references this.
Fates we have found so hellbent, wild...
Facing it down with reckless smiles!
- In Final Fantasy XIV, at the end of the Endwalker expansion, if you opt to not deny the claims of Zenos, the Warrior of Light gives off an unique expression of a knowing and confident smirk, showing that for all of their heroism and kindness, they are still an adventuring warrior deep in their heart and take pride in their battles much like Venat did.
Warrior of Light: (smirking) That, I can't deny.
- Sora when he stabs himself in the chest with the dark Keyblade to release Kairi's heart in Kingdom Hearts.
- A tragic example: in Yakuza 0, the baddies are torturing Tachibana for the location of the owner of the Empty Lot, but the thug doing the torturing, Yoneda, is getting too rowdy with his giant sledgehammer; Lieutenant Kuze scolds him saying that their prisoner is of no value for them dead, and proceeds to stop the torture and loosen his wraps. This prompts Tachibana to give the two-bit yakuza a small grin... which unfortunately makes Yoneda lose his shit and smash Tachibana's head on with the hammer, killing him.
- Surprisingly enough, Luigi in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team just before fighting Giant Bowser.
- Sonic the Hedgehog is definitely iconic for this. A lot of his art has him in his classic pose either with a smirk, or a cocky grin. Even when he could be kicked down to near-death, he doesn't let his grin fall.
- In Undertale, when you enter combat with the single weakest monster in the game, this is their expression, even knowing how dangerous you are. It doesn't waver as he proceeds to kick your ass.
- In Persona 5, this is the protagonist's signature expression whenever he's in Phantom Thief mode, as befitting a defiant rebel seeking to change the hearts of the wicked and corrupt. Many of the other Phantom Thieves also sport daredevil grins when they summon their Personas for the first time, particularly Ryuji and Yusuke.
- In Katawa Shoujo, athlete Emi wears this expression when she's running, and the protagonist describes it in great length, as he finds that change from her standard, softer expressions fascinating.
- This is the default expression for any protagonist in the Ace Attorney series once they start on their cleverer hunches, especially when they're onto something that turns a previously hopeless case upside-down. Then again, this can be said for just about anyone in these games pursuing the legal profession, as it's clear they all enjoy their jobs far too much.
- Yang Xiao Long wears one often throughout the RWBY trailer featuring her, preceding the delivery of a Curb-Stomp Battle. This continues onto many of her fights in early volumes, but she stops it once things get more serious and she develops past her Blood Knight tendencies.
- Her uncle Qrow also does this in his battle with Winter, to show that he's not taking it too seriously and because the whole thing's a Batman Gambit to make her lose her temper in front of her boss. He later grins when he gets the upper hand on Tyrian during a fight, contrasting the villain's Slasher Smile.
- The Comeback Path Of Princess From Mars has the main character Olga Perez sport this expression every time she's about to lay down a royal smackdown to whoever is antagonizing her, whether the smackdown is figurative or literal, usually literal.
- El Goonish Shive: HERE COMES A NEW CHALLENGER, BITCH!
- Ash of Misfile has one when they are about to show the drivers ahead of them why the title of King of the Mountain still belongs to Ash.
- Isabel of Paranatural may enjoy fighting a little too much. But if she stops smiling, something is very wrong.
- The boxers of Star Impact often throw these around during fights, but bonus points go to Urchin here, as he winds up for a counter to knock down Aster.
- Rival hero/villain pair, Airstrike and The Hourglass, of Wake of the Clash both engage in battle with wide, confident grins. Both of them are used to fighting for the spectacle of it, though each of their cocksure attitudes likely contribute heavily to their smiling faces.
- In Chapter 20.5, Skitter is cornered by five superheroes, two of whom are wearing Powered Armor, without her armor or weapons and with her superpower effectively neutralized. Then she realizes that her opponents are still leery of attacking in fear of her pulling an ace from her sleeve at the last minute. Cue grin.
- Tattletale wears a smile all the time. Her smiles become these whenever she's facing down near-impossible odds.
- If Sterling Archer even acknowledges what's going on in a firefight, he'll often have this expression. The best part of being a secret agent for him is being as over-the-top as possible, and turning things around from a hopeless position (and vice-versa) is second nature for him.
- While the trope description DID say that Batman doesn't engage in this trope, Justice League gives him two awesome instances where he does. First is when he pulls an Oh, Wait! on the Secret Society's ambush on him, and then after he gets one up on the Joker during the Injustice for All two-parter. If BATMAN pulls this, you know he's just outclassed you badly.
- In The Powerpuff Girls, Blossom tends to range between this and your average benevolent smile, while Buttercup the Perpetual Frowner ranges between this and an outright scowl.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Destroy Malevolence", Obi-Wan gets a little grin when he's ambushed and surrounded in the hyperdrive control room, right before he uses the droidekas' shields to protect himself and then uses the Force to knock them into their own allies like bowling balls and escapes unharmed.
- Steven Universe:
- Garnet gives a beautiful one for most of her fight against Jasper in the finale of Season 1, paired with her Badass Boast which she actually sings to Jasper while kicking her ass. Given her default personality, it was definitely that one moment which people will remember about her forever.
- In a Whole Episode Flashback, Rose Quartz faces down a Fusion Dance of three Rubies with a smirk... before taking the Fusion down with a few punches.