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Happiness Is Mandatory

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From Copper.

"The Computer is your friend. The Computer wants you to be happy. Happiness is mandatory. Failure to be happy is treason. Treason is punishable by summary execution."

An oppressive regime requires its citizens to "be happy". Of course, this doesn't actually make them happy; it only gives them one more thing to fear.

The regime may be small scale. For example, it might be a parent or boss. When the regime actually controls the world, it's a Crapsack World. Often without added saccharine, since "be happy, or else" doesn't actually make the world look like a happy place; in fact, it's more likely to simply highlight the depressing atmosphere even more.

Why does the regime do this? Well, maybe it is simply insane or enjoys toying with its underlings For the Evulz, or they may be trying to paper over the fact that Dystopia Is Hard. The regime is perhaps trying to combat The Evils of Free Will. Or through Insane Troll Logic, because beating is so effective to control the population, it can be applied as well to emotional states. Either way, the demands for happiness tend to underscore the regime's 0% Approval Rating.

If this trope were inverted, it would be much easier for the citizens to follow - since the law itself would already give them something to be unhappy about.

See also Stepford Smiler, which this trope tends to make people into, as well as Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul, where people actually do become happy whether they like it or not (such as through Government Drug Enforcement). Compare and contrast Finger-Forced Smile when the intent of making people smiling isn't as sinister as this trope. Also contrast Happiness in Slavery, where oppressed people somehow manage to be actually happy.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • One Piece:
  • Psycho-Pass: The government of Japan go all out to ensure its citizens are happy, and if somebody isn't happy, he/she's a criminal and must be arrested for reformation—or exterminated on the spot in extreme cases. Mandatory Happiness is even the name of a Psy-Pass game for the PlayStation 4/Vita.

    Audio Plays 

    Comic Books 
  • The people of Doctor Doom's country Latveria have the highest standard of living in Europe, and are happy and grateful to their benevolent ruler. Or else.
    Doom: [to a servant] But, why so glum, my loyal one? You know the penalty for looking discontented!
    Servant: [quickly assumes a big, albeit slightly sickly-looking smile] Y-Yes, Excellency!
    • Though to some extent, this is Depending on the Writer. In at least some stories, the people of Latveria are actually genuinely happy and don't have to be threatenednote .
  • In the Fables spinoff comic Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love, Cinderella's fairy godmother decides she'd conquer a world, and force people to act happy until they became happy.
  • Judge Dredd: Inverted when the insane Judge Cal, among his long list of ridiculous decrees, outlaws happiness and mandates that all items which could cause the emotion among Mega-City One's citizens be destroyed immediately.
  • In one Mickey Mouse story, Mickey and Goofy meet a deranged monarch who explains that he has no unhappy subjects because if they are unhappy they are imprisoned. Then, to demonstrate, he asks a random peasant whether he is happy. The peasant grins maniacally and seemingly sincerely and says that he is happy... and the king promptly orders him thrown into jail.
    Mickey: But he was happy!
    King: Yes, but he is sad now — and I aim to prevent crime before it happens!
  • In the second Atari Force series, we see in Psyklops' invasion of Morphea's mind that Canopean society, which emphasizes being in a collective hive mind, enforces each being to live without concern for their own personal needs — a situation which Morphea is constantly punished for by the Hive Mother due to her feeling of loneliness.
  • The independent comic Happy Hour takes this to the extreme, as it's set in a dystopian, fascist United States where happiness isn't just mandatory, but it's the only emotion people are allowed to feel, and drugs and mind conditioning are used to lock people into a state of perpetual vapid glee. The main character is even expected to laugh at trite jokes right after barely surviving a car crash that killed his mother and sister, and is sent to an asylum where he gets tortured for trying to leave. It's also Inverted when he and his love interest find refuge in a commune where everyone commits to being miserable in defiance of the law.
  • I Hate Fairyland: This is the rule for Fairyland, a forcibly delightful adventure for children dragged into the sickeningly sweet Sugar Bowl with no consent or consideration. Gert, in a rare profound moment, points out that being obligated to enjoy something, even something that would normally be enjoyable, builds up resentment and poisons the activity. Hence why her adventure devolves into a hateful experience that brings out the worst in her.
  • Enforced in issue #2 of the Paranoia comic book series, when the hero is given a Count-Your-Blessings Intensive Therapy Device. This is a small robot hat with hooks that grab the corners of his mouth; when it detects that he's unhappy, it pulls the corners into an ever-widening grin.
  • In the Doctor Who Magazine comics strip "Mancopolis", Mayor Mulberry, ruler of the Mega City future Manchester, has mandated this. The city's microclimate can detect people who don't look happy, and gives them a Personal Raincloud until they comply. Ruby quickly realises the effect this is actually having on people.
    Ruby: Everyone smiling, but no-one having a laugh. If this is Manchester, why's no-one having a laugh?

    Comic Strips 
  • Peanuts has Lucy invoke this with Linus in this Sunday strip from 1982.
    Lucy: How can the world be getting worse with me in it? Ever since I was born the world has shown a distinct improvement! I make the world better! I am a positive force! [threateningly, to Linus] SMILE! [Linus complies – sort of] See? With me around, everyone is a lot happier!
  • Played with in a The Wizard of Id strip. The King is showing a visiting noble around, and the noble asks a peasant how things are for him, and gets the reply, "I can't complain." The noble says that's nice and asks why, and is told, "It's forbidden."

    Fan Fiction 
  • In Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, the Psyche Master enforces total non-expression of emotion on all Psyches, including Empath.
  • In the Pony POV Series, one Bad Future exists where the Mane Six, after defeating Discord and seeing the damage he's done to Equestria, decide that the only way to preserve harmony in Equestria is to enforce it by any means necessary. Using the Elements of Harmony, they imprison the Royal Pony Sisters, take over Equestria, and declare themselves the "Harmony Queens". Under their reign, everypony is forced to be happy and harmonious, and those that aren't are sentenced to Brave New World-style re-education camps until they start thinking the way the Harmony Queens want them to. Every part of Equestria is being spied on for signs of disharmony; when a pony is heard crying in the privacy of her own home, she's dragged off to the Happy House and forced to eat cupcakes filled with Happy Sauce.
  • In the Danganronpa Mirror Universe fanfiction, Through The Cracked Mirror, Junko Enoshima claims this is what life is like the empire.
    Hope. A meaningless concept. A boring lifestyle. At least, when applied to this world. Despair. Outlawed. Deemed unnecessary. Did your lover die? Your parents? Your closest friend? You are not allowed to feel despair because of it. You must feel hope. Nothing but hope.
  • The Kingdom Hearts example below comes up in the fic Home is Where Your Friends Are, with Sora and Riku finding out the Gummi Ships from Disney Castle are literally powered by happy faces after their ship runs out, as a result of Sora's depression and Riku's "resting bitch face", and they're forced to make an emergency landing in the Pridelands.

    Film — Animated 
  • Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget: In Fun-Land Farms, every chicken is completely happy, whether they like it or not thanks to their collars. This is to prevent them from trying to flee from the nugget processor, which would tie knots into their muscles and make their meat dry and tasteless.
  • In Coraline, the Other Mother becomes dissatisfied with the Other Wybie's tendency to not smile, so she sews his smile in place.
  • This was originally Joy of Inside Out's mentality; her Character Arc throughout the film was learning that you don't need to be happy all the time, and in fact such a mentality can be unhealthy.
  • Played for laughs in Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch after Nani politely asks Lilo to join in family fun night, which Lilo declines:
    Lilo: We've only got 1 day, 23 hours
    Stitch: And 16 minutes
    Lilo: And 16 minutes left to come up with the winning idea, so please leave us alone to think.
    Stitch: Please.
    Nani: Oh, you'll figure it out, and if you ask me, it's a perfect time to take a break.
    Lilo, Stitch: Pass.
    Nani: I said, if you ask me -
    Lilo: We kinda didn't ask you.
    Nani: That's it, you two! I have been cooking for hours and finally picked up the house just so we can have quality fun time like Mom used to. You're part of this family, and whether you like it or not, you are gonna come downstairs and have family fun. Fun, fun, fun!

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Flash Gordon, during Ming's wedding scene, a ship flies over head with a banner reading "ALL CITIZENS SHALL MAKE MERRY," followed by another one with "...ON PAIN OF DEATH."
  • Guyana: Crime of the Century: Johnson imposes that no signs of dissent or upsetting shall be tolerated. When relatives of the people living in Johnsontown demand knowledge about how their beloved ones are faring, Johnson tells a group of children to pose for a photo shot while smiling, and then tells the same to a larger group of adults (with two of them holding a large bunch of bananas to make them pretend that they're performing a rich harvest, as do other three children).
  • Satirized in Office Space, Chotchkie's is a restaurant that demands its staff wear a number of buttons, called 'pieces of flair,' or else get lectured by their manager.

  • One of the Alice, Girl from the Future books features the evil adopted son of an emperor, who learned that his father decided not to leave the throne to him. Furious, he assassinated his adoptive father, impersonated him by putting on a smiling mask, ordered the whole planet to wear such masks as well, painted all the prisons and fortresses with flowers, renamed his flagship from Justice into Universal Tenderness and established a brutal dictatorship.
  • Brave New World: Distributing affordable drugs in large quantities makes it a borderline case with Government Drug Enforcement, although no one is literally forced to take them. In a variation, those who aren't happy aren't blamed—it's considered a failure of government conditioning, not a personal fault—and are given the choice between voluntary exile or joining the ruling class, since only those with some degree of dissatisfaction have the motivation to lead.
  • Gary, the protagonist of Clocks that Don't Tick, mentions that Thralls (immortal slaves to oligarchs known as the Bosses) are supposed to appear happy while in the public's eye.
  • In the third book of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Greg's school hosts a Valentine's Day dance for any student willing to pay to attend. At the dance, the boys and girls split off into opposite sides of the gymnasium, unwilling to mingle. What's more, the music being played are lame and old songs like "The Hokey Pokey" rather than anything a middle schooler would want dance to. Eventually, the principal forces everyone present to dance by declaring the event they had to pay to attend would now account for 25% of their physical education grade, even making the P.E. teacher walk around with a clipboard to keep track on who was on the dance floor.
  • Discworld: In Witches Abroad, Lady Lilith is an evil fairy godmother that turns Genua into a knock-off of Disney Land, where everyone is cheerful and happy... because the ones that aren't, disappear.
  • In Dorothy Must Die, nobody is allowed to appear unhappy in Oz, especially not in Princess Dorothy's palace. For this reason, some citizens use a magical cosmetic called PermaSmile. It's a shimmery, lip gloss-like substance that you spread on your mouth, and apparently makes it feel like the corners of your mouth are being held apart by clothespins. Uncomfortable, but miles better than what will happen to you if Dorothy sees you frowning.
  • Downplayed in Dr. Franklin's Island. Miranda, the most proactive of the three castaway teens, is a version of Fun Personified who's less after 'fun' and more 'any kind of positivity, any at all, in a dire situation'. She doubles down on it after she and Semi are captured by a Mad Scientist who wants to turn them into animals, because Semi is about to start screaming and thinks she may never stop - acknowledging that it's horrible and they are almost certainly going to die, Miranda insists they focus on quality of life, don't talk about the awful things happening, and believe anything they can, no matter how delusional, to be as happy as they're able. Neither girl can manage this full time. Both hold hands to express the fear and despair they really feel and each one sometimes breaks down in tears and is comforted by the other, but Miranda insists whenever possible on trying to believe things are not hopeless and that they're on a grand adventure.
  • Discussed and/or joked about in Fatherland: Shortly before a big anniversary celebration for the Nazi regime, there's a brief mention of the words "Anyone found not enjoying themselves will be shot" having been spraypainted in a prominent place along the parade route, which a couple of worried public employees are hastily cleaning off. Whether they're afraid it will offend their superiors or give them ideas is not specified.
  • In The Giver, it's more like "Quiet Contentment is Mandatory", since excess emotion is discouraged in the dystopian society.
  • The Green-Sky Trilogy by Zilpha Keatley Snyder is all about this. She goes into great detail exactly how in the Kindar society, Joy is not just a desirable spiritual state, but a moral obligation.
  • In Hard to Be a God, at one point the freshly established theocracy punishes people for "non-ecstatic way of thinking".
  • It's a Good Life: Be happy... Otherwise, you'll be sent to the cornfield.
  • In the Left Behind series, from The Remnant onward, in response to the growing opposition against Nicolae Carpathia from among those who have taken the Mark of the Beast, Carpathia demands that his people worship him at all times with mandatory parades in his honor. The people end up responding with Flat Joy. In Kingdom Come, Lothair and Ignace Jospin, who attend their cousin Cendrillon's funeral during the Millennial Reign, tell Kenny Williams that they suspect that Jesus also demands that the people of that time would worship Him if they want to live long lives. Kenny says that isn't the case.
  • Inverted in the Mr. Men Little Miss Sunshine (not the movie): the titular character visits Miseryland, where the inhabitants are kept miserable simply because of a sign stating the laws: "No smiling, no laughing, no chuckling. Giggling forbidden by order of the king." Naturally, Miss Sunshine is able to turn the kingdom around by simply changing the wording of the sign.
  • In Nineteen Eighty-Four, people are required to love Big Brother and be happy about it.
  • In the world of The Program, one in three teenagers end up committing suicide, so all teens are under close observation at all times. Those who are considered suicide risks are whisked off to the Program. No one's sure what happens there, but the fact that the patients come back as Empty Shells does not exactly inspire confidence. The result is that teenagers, our main characters included, force themselves to appear cheery and well-adjusted at all times, since crying in public, being moody and withdrawn, and, you know, generally acting like a teenager can get you sent away.
  • Frida is required to complete a year at The School for Good Mothers in order to regain custody of her daughter. The mothers are given extremely lifelike robotic dolls of the same sex and age of their children to be used as proxies for their own children while they are put through "parenting boot camp. The dolls can also collect data on their interactions, words spoken, duration and quality of huge, etc. On her first week, Frida's counselor tells her that the doll has collected data showing she has substantial amounts of anger and ingratitude and that "Any negative feelings will impede her progress."
  • In Slave World, this is used as an addition to Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: The slaves are biochemically altered for certain kinds of happiness, and they get punished if they try to resist the effect.
  • Norwegian children´s novel When The Robbers Came To Cardamom Town, if you are into a rather disturbing Alternate Character Interpretation. Bastian the police chief actually has this line in his introduction song: "I walk around, seeing to it that everyone is content, because I think everyone should have it that way"... Just - Let that one sink in for a minute.
  • Victoria has the nightmare state Cascadia, which inverts this: there, laughter is banned—because it contributes to environmental destruction by wasting air.
  • In Captain French, or the Quest for Paradise, the titular character explains that the planet Tranai is ruled by an authoritarian government that follows the idea of "humane communism" or "communist humanism" (he doesn't remember which). They've developed two devices that help them keep the population in check. The first of them is the "happiness meter", which measures a person's satisfaction (in particular, satisfaction with the government) level. Every citizen is required to undergo annual testing. Those whose satisfaction is below a certain level is then subjected to a "mental annihilator", which destroys the person's personality and replaces it with a loyal one. French obtained blueprints for both devices and has even sold the "happiness meter" on another planet to Order of Carnal Pleasure. They've installed these meters in all beds of their Happy Houses. Why? So they could adequately charge their clients for the pleasure received (above the minimum rate, of course). The best part is that French is telling all this to a priest on a theocratic planet. Naturally, the priest nearly has a heart attack when he learns that French sold the device to a bunch of hookers while refusing to sell both to him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock: Liz Lemon proudly states "There is no party like a Liz Lemon party, because a Liz Lemon party is mandatory".
  • Black Mirror has this situation in "Nosedive". The episode shows a world where one's place in the society is dependent of one's ratings in a social network (the elite being composed of people above 4.5 ratings, who can even have preferential health care). Because of that everyone has to be, or at least pretend to be happy, sweet, loving and nice all the time in order to not get downgraded by others.
  • Brave New World: Being happy in New London isn't just a perk of living there, its a requirement. If you aren't happy, the Counselors will do their utmost to make sure you become so by advising people take more Soma or engage in casual sex, public entertainments etc. Assuming that still fails, you may be "reconditioned" or banished to some other place.
  • A few of the serial killers on Criminal Minds are sick enough that the only way for their victims to keep from making them angry is to pretend to be happy with them.
  • Dead Ringers: Deal Or No Deal maintains its atmosphere of importance by making sure anyone who doesn't enjoy or care about being on the show is beaten to death by the other contestants with their "Happy Sticks" (i.e. baseball bats).
  • Doctor Who:
    • This is the entire point of the Happiness Patrol in the serial of that title. Anyone who isn't happy gets the death penalty.
    • "Smile": On Gliese 581d, you had better be smiling or the emojibots will get you. This is the result of an oversight in their programming: they had never seen sadness before, and interpreted it as a disease that needed to be culled.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Diend's World in Kamen Rider Decade. Everyone is expected to be kind and helpful; if you aren't you get dragged off by the DarkRoaches from Kamen Rider Blade and cells from Jashin 14 (here reimagined as an Eldritch Abomination) are injected into your brain that force you to be kind and helpful.
    • A Kamen Rider Drive movie has a villain with a similar idea. Bringing about peace is good. Using feather-like devices that destroy the portion of the brain capable of rational thought, leaving nothing left except the parts that make you happy and peaceful is not how to go about it.
  • The fairy-tale kingdom of Happy Valley from Monty Python's Flying Circus. The subjects were always happy all the time because, by royal decree, anyone who wasn't happy would be put to death. One subject whose wife had just died is seen being arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to hang by the neck until he cheers up.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: In the episode "The Mole People", Pearl has instituted "Lawgiver Daze" wherein, as described by poor Professor Bobo, "all are ordered to make merry and be light of heart, under pain of horrible lingering death."
  • The Office (US): This is page one of Michael Scott's management handbook and the prime reason why Dunder-Mifflin is such a soul crushing workplace.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: Seven of Nine is this whenever she is in a social situation.
    [to the Borg children] "Fun" will now commence!
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • In "It's a Good Life", everyone in Peaksville represses negative thoughts and emotions for fear that if Anthony Fremont senses unhappiness, he will either lash out in anger at the thinker for being dissatisfied with the world he has made or make a misguided attempt to help.
    • In "Number 12 Looks Just Like You", the Transformation alters people's minds so that the only emotion that they are capable of experiencing is happiness.

  • A 1954 TIME Magazine article on North Vietnam invoked this with its title: "INDO-CHINA: Land of Compulsory Joy". It was, unsurprisingly, about life under the regime of Ho Chi Minh, which the citizens were coerced to be happy with, starting off with the description of megaphone-wielding men patrolling the streets of Hanoi telling people their "joy is indescribable". Given the virulent anti-Communism of that era's TIME and its willingness to slant its reporting accordingly, there's no telling if this is true.

  • Referenced in "California Über Alles" by The Dead Kennedys:
    You will jog for the master race
    And always wear the happy face
  • A popular Fanon interpretation of R.E.M.'s song "Shiny Happy People" is that it is a parody and a deconstruction of Chinese government propaganda following the Tiananmen Square crackdowns, which essentially ordered everyone to be happy (and be compelled to disregard what had just happened). Viewed in this light, the song's lyrics become a hell of a lot darker. (Word of God is that it really is just a dumb pop song, and deliberately so.)
  • Utata-P's Vocaloid song "Kochira, Koufuku Anshin Iinkai Desu" (Translated as "This is the Happiness and Peace of Mind Committee"). The call-and-response chorus involves the spokeswoman for the titular committee reminding everyone that happiness is, in fact, a duty, and cheerfully recommends that those who aren't happy choose their preferred option from a list of violent execution methods. Reinforcing this, the song starts off with (and briefly relapses into) a very gentle tune before descending into dystopian hell.
  • "The Straight Razor Cabaret" by Voltaire is about a macabre vaudeville show whose master of ceremonies mutilates the faces of anyone he thinks isn't enjoying his show enough.
    He used a straight razor
    'Cause he's a face-raper
    And there's nothing he hates more than a stick-in-the-mud
    If he tells a joke
    You'd better laugh until you choke
    At the Straight Razor Cabaret!
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's album titled Mandatory Fun has Al on the cover standing in military dictator garb with an army at his beck and call.

  • Implied in the Book of Nehemiah from The Bible, with Nehemiah's initial interaction with King Artaxerxes in chapter 2, as the king sees him sad and makes Nehemiah worry due to the Persian custom that being sad in the presence of the king as a court official meant you were totally displeased with the king, possibly even to the point of rebellion, and that would mean a death sentence. Fortunately the king was benevolent enough to understand that Nehemiah's sadness had nothing to do with him, and so that gave Nehemiah the opportunity to explain the situation and to make his petition known.
  • Psalm 2:11 from the Book of Psalms has the Psalmist tell the kings and judges of the earth (particularly the ones who are to witness the Lord's anointed being made king, and eventually Jesus Christ, as interpreted by Christians) to "serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling."
  • In 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul tells believers not to give to others reluctantly or out of necessity, but to give happily because God loves a cheerful giver.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Trope Namer is the Dystopian Edict of Alpha Complex's Friend Computer from Paranoia: Happiness is mandatory. Failure to be happy is treason. Treason is punishable by summary execution. Are you happy, citizen?
    • Inverted in Alpha State, where morbid depression is mandatory.
    • In some later editions/styles, while the party line remains the same, The Computer also tries to steer citizens' rebellious influences toward less harmful secret societies. (Every traitor spray-painting anti-Computer propaganda is one that isn't engaging in terrorist bombings.)
  • In the DarkSun setting, the three Mind Lords of the Lost Sea insist on this. Being powerful telepaths, they can even make you happy, but usually prefer a messy disintegration instead.
  • It is a crime to be unhappy in Feng Shui's dystopian 2056 juncture. The Buro enforces this by means of Productivity Drugs, and occasionally by even worse measures.
  • One of Ravenloft's lesser domains was home to a king who had no sense of humor, who'd clumsily tried to simulate one by requiring all citizens to laugh with every sentence they spoke. As he couldn't tell a real laugh from a forced one, this resulted in people who weren't particularly happy or amused saying "ha ha ha" after each statement.
  • In Warhammer 40,000 many imperial sermons state very clearly that all humans must be willing and happy of having the chance to be worked to death or suffer martyrdom in the Emperor's service. It´s unclear how many people actually believe it, but given that the alternatives are being slaughtered by aliens, consumed by the Chaos Gods or being burned at the stake as heretics, most don't dare to complain.

    Video Games 
  • In Beyond A Steel Sky, if you're not happy (or at least pretending to be), you can lose your standing in society. Taken to an extreme, you may be taken for reconditioning.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Grelod the Kind has quite a way with children.
    Grelod: Constance!
    Constance: Yes Grelod?
    Grelod: Hroar's crying is keeping me up at night. I'll give you one chance to talk the tears out of him, or he's getting the belt.
  • In the video game Floyd (also known as The Feeble Files), the Omnibrain demands happiness. Solving one of the early puzzles in the game gets an innocent civilian executed on the spot for being unhappy.
  • Just Cause 2: President Panay believes the happier his people are, the better he feels; the better he feels, the people will be even happier.
    "So... (threatening voice) BE HAPPY!"
  • Kingdom Hearts has Donald stating that the Gummi Ship only functions when the pilots are "Smiling". This could've been a lie to snap Sora out of an incoming Heroic BSoD, and we rarely see the pilots inside the ship, so who knows? The manga leaves no room for doubt, though: You HAVE to be smiling when aboard the damn thing. It's also confirmed in Kingdom Hearts III, when the gang visits Monstropolis, which gathers energy from laughs, and they talk about how the Gummi Ship works on a similar mechanic.
  • Inverted in Normality. Nobody in Neutropolis is allowed to show any signs of happiness, lest to be taken away to be "normalized".
  • Plague Inc. has a custom scenario involving the Neurax Worm in which the goal of the worm is to overthrow the despotic leadership that's banned happiness, but it does so by invoking this trope.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: This invitation to join the Eggman Empire ends with the line. "You'll love it! (Love mandatory)"
  • SOON: Robots made every effort to "streamline" Australian population into being more "happy and productive." Atlas is delighted to find "frowning" people later in the corrected future.
    Robot: If your constant failure is making you feel sad or otherwise interfering with your ability to be a happy, productive member of society, perhaps you should consider a stay at one of our many mood readjustment centres.
    Atlas: [thinking] I've heard... stories about the mood readjustment centres. [aloud] Nope, happy and productive, that's me!
  • Ultima V: Where in Ultima IV, your aim was to demonstrate the eight Virtues (e.g. honesty, humility, and compassion), the dictator that has sprung up in part five enforces all of them on pain of torture. "Thou shalt help those in need... or thou shalt suffer the same need!"
  • We Happy Few: After the Very Bad Thing that happened during the German invasion and occupation of England, the populace of Wellington Wells rebuilt their town into a drugged-up, futurist False Utopia. Any "Downers" caught not taking their Joy are either forced to take their medicine if they're lucky, or beaten to death by the townsfolk if they're not.
  • We Happy Restaurant features a happiness meter which is filled everytime customers spend money in your restaurant. Given that they only do it because they are brainwashed and the food is extremely addictive...
  • World of Warcraft contains a Shout-Out to the Trope Namer, Paranoia. The Arcane Constructs patrolling Silvermoon will occasionally say "Happiness is mandatory, citizen", as part of the theme being built around the Blood Elves (mostly during Burning Crusade) that, while everything is beautiful and perfect on the surface, if you look a little deeper things aren't so nice.
    • Pandaren culture encourages a meditative, relaxed, and jolly mindset as much as possible. This is due to the fact that their homeland contains fragments, known as the Sha, of an Old God, that feed on negative emotions like hate and fear, so their culture evolved to adapt: living a harmonious, hate-free lifestyle to starve the Sha of food. Then the Alliance and Horde brought their war to Pandaria...


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Weirdly done with MAVO in The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin. Apparently the Supreme Oppressor of MAVO, Quellor in this case, is required have to mandatory "Fun Breaks" each day. Naturally given they're villains their idea of fun involves such things as torturing prisoners, but Quellor is unenthusiastic given he's busy and just wants the mail. Ickley Boggnostriclum is not having that, citing the actual MAVO rules specifying the Supreme Oppressor has no choice, but they're interrupted before this comes to a head.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: When Aang and co. enter the Earth Kingdom capital city of Ba Sing Se, hoping to deliver vital War information to the Earth King, they are welcomed by a government handler named Joe Dee who wears a constant, exaggerated smile and tries to convince them that the city is perfectly peaceful and happy. She obstructs their efforts to get an audience with the Earth King or find Aang's animal companion Appa, and whenever they try to get answers out of one of the locals, Joo Dee gets them to clam up by using Facial Dialogue to say "Don’t tell them anything, or both you AND me are going to be in a world of hurt." The kids soon discover the reason for this whole Stepford Smiler act: Long Feng, head of the Dai Li or culture police, is the real power pulling the strings in Ba Sing Se, and enforces a rule that nobody inside the city walls is allowed to even acknowledge that there’s a war going on, all for the sake of keeping the population calm and controllable. People like Jet who dare to speak the truth are arrested and brainwashed, and the Joo Dee whom the kids first meet is just one of multiple women who are called Joo Dee and serve the Dai Lee under mind control.
  • The "Welcome to Cuddlestown" song from Bananas in Pyjamas includes the lyrics "Welcome, welcome, welcome to Cuddlestown! Welcome, welcome, you'll never ever wear a frown. Sad sounds are out of bounds."
  • Big City Greens: In "Papaganda", Bill tries to get his family to see more of the positive side by enforcing a "Live, Laugh, Love" philosophy; when said law is in effect, the rule is his family must smile and be positive about everything... or else.
  • In The Fairly OddParents!, Timmy's time-traveling caused his father to turn into a power hungry dictator whose main rule is 'Be Happy... Or Else!'
    Timmy: But you can't be happy all the time!
    Dad: Oh, rebellion! That is so '70s.
  • Kaeloo:
    • In Episode 123, Kaeloo takes Stumpy and Quack Quack on a tour to Heaven, where they meet an angel. The angel keeps singing about how in Heaven, there is only peace and harmony and things like that, but the angel doesn't seem too happy.
    • In Episode 131, Kaeloo invents a day called "Smile Day" where smiling is mandatory. By the end of the episode, everyone is upset for different reasons and they aren't smiling, so she beats them up offscreen.
  • My Little Pony:
    • My Little Pony 'n Friends: In "The Return of Tambelon, Part 4", Grogar orders the troggles to take part in his victory celebration on pain of being banished to the shadow realm.
    • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
      • "The Cutie Map" takes place in a village run by a Well-Intentioned Extremist who has magically replaced everyone's cutie marks with equal signs. The denizens seem to be happy, but the Mane Six quickly discover that they're not. Later, when a pony reveals that he is not happy with his replaced cutie mark, he is publicly shamed and then spends a night being brainwashed.
      • Played for Laughs with Torch, the Dragon Lord, in "Gauntlet of Fire". When he gives a speech, he spends much of his time ordering his subjects to feel whatever emotion he finds appropriate to what he was saying.
        Dragon Lord Torch: Unfortunately, according to dragon law, it is time for me to step down. Sad, I know. [beat] Be sad!
        [dragons start crying]
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Treehouse of Horror II", when Homer, Bart, and Lisa all have nightmares, "Bart's Nightmare" is all about having psychic powers and everybody in Springfield walks around thinking "happy thoughts" so as not to displease him and be turned into something weird in a spoof of It's A Good Life.
    • In the "Treehouse of Horror V" story "Time and Punishment", Homer's time-traveling creates a dystopian present in which Ned Flanders rules the world and requires everyone to be happy all the time. Those who don't comply are given a "re-Neducation" culminating in a lobotomy.
    • In "Pokey Mom", Homer injures his back at a prison rodeo and is sent to its infirmary. When asked how he's feeling, he sheepishly replies "I can't complain" while pointing at a large "NO COMPLAINING" sign. Right afterwards, an orderly says it only applies to inmates, so he is free to complain.
  • Inverted in The Smurfs (1981) episode "Happy Unhappiness Day To You", where unhappiness among the Smurfs is mandatory for one day. Strangely, this means that Grouchy can't be grumbling for one day!
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: In "Stump Day", the Mewmans set aside their differences and celebrate for a full twenty-four hours in honor of the "Great Stump"... because if they don't, the Stump attacks them and threatens their lives until they make up with each other.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Selling Out", the Krusty Krab is rebranded into "Krabby O' Mondays", and the company motto brings this trope into play: "Sincere Service With a Smile". If you don't smile, then you'll get sent to Human Resources and subsequently beaten up.
  • Star Wars Rebels: In "Empire Day", Imperial Taskmaster Grint is shown "encouraging" some less-than-enthusiastic citizens to cheer during the parade celebrating the titular holiday.
  • Wakfu: The heroes overthrow a dictator who was overtaxing his town by releasing the man and woman he sealed in some rings, the latter of which was the previous governess who returns to power. In the closing seconds of the episode, right after the heroes leave, she reveals herself to ALSO be an iron-fisted dictator, but obsessed with everyone being happy. She gives a New Era Speech about planting a bunch of flowers and forcing people to sing songs, to her fiancee's discomfort.

    Real Life 
  • Military:
    • A common saying among the lower ranks of enlisted men in the U.S. military is "The beatings will continue until morale improves!"
    • A specific naval variation is "There will be no liberty until morale improves."
    • Events hosted to boost morale and which have required attendance (particularly on what would otherwise be a day off) are called "Mandatory Fun" events.
  • Dave Barry:
    • He had a column about Walt Disney World with a similar description:
      "You can't not have fun at Disney World. It's not Allowed."
    • He claimed that if you're seen not having fun, you get abducted by the staff "and then it's into the Goofy suit."
  • North Koreans are required to love whichever Kim is currently in power. After Kim Jong-il's death, the government gave six months of hard labor to anyone whom they considered to not be upset enough, which is kind of an inversion.
  • A similar inversion happened when Shaka Zulu punished subjects for showing "insufficient grief" about the death of his mother.
  • After the collapse of the January Uprising against Tsarist Russian rule, Poles and Lithuanians were demonstrating their feelings by wearing mourning clothes. The Tsarist officials' reaction? All people who wanted to mourn were required to apply for a special half-year permit, pay a fee, and in their application point out which relative they were mourning.
  • Being a Disney employee. They're called cast-members for a reason.
  • Disney may be the most stringent, but overall any theme park worker is required to put up some smile for park guests.
  • There are some religious sects that view any expression of unhappiness as a sign of lacking faith, non-commitment (or inadequate commitment) to the faith, wanting to deviate from divinely-ordained roles and expectations, rebellion, etc. Especially when it happens in public view.
  • Journalist Barbara Ehrenreich wrote an entire nonfiction book, Smile Or Die, detailing her experiences encountering this sort of ideology in, of all places, a support-group for breast-cancer patients. She lampshades its Unfortunate Implications in that book and in this video. She followed it up shortly afterwards with a more detailed examination of the ideology and its impact in her book Bright-sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America.
  • William Gibson's 1993 essay about Singapore, "Disneyland with the Death Penalty".
  • Some have said this is the only true difference between totalitarian and authoritarian governments. Both use the same oppressive tactics, but whereas authoritarians will leave you alone if you don't speak out against them, totalitarians require everybody to enthusiastically endorse the regime at all times, no matter what they are doing.
    • On another note, it's not a bad habit to be wary of people who don't tolerate unhappiness regarding their country, company, family, or any other institution. Look for terms like "whining" or any other way to dismiss concerns.
  • Any corporate convention and get-together held outside of the working hours is this by design. Especially when they are "non-obligatory", but the HR then keeps asking you during evaluations why you weren't attending "team-building activities" or similar. You have to go there, in your free time, to have a good time. Even if you don't want to. Even when you are in the middle of something crucial at the job you are doing for that company. After all, you can always do overtime, as you just "recharged the batteries". Nowadays they are being slooowly phased out due to a combination of costs and counterproductive results, but they were the bane of the 00s cubicle and middle-management jobs.
  • On a smaller scale example, go to pretty much any American major retail store chain and nine times out of ten anybody working at the counters will have a forced smile on their face and might even have a forcibly happy "greeting" they are forced to memorize and give to every customer. A lot of these places also use Insistent Terminology to describe their staff: they're not downtrodden "employees" but "associates" or "members of the family".
    • This does tend to backfire whenever those chains enter foreign markets, try to impose their policies on employees and as the result customers are instanty creeped out by the non-stop grinning staff. Famously, one of the key reason why Wal-Mart hit the wall in Germany was due to people refusing to even enter a store where everyone had a fake smile plastered to their face.
  • A well-known factor for those in abusive relationships or from abusive homes. When in public with the abuser, especially among those who don't know about their true nature, the abused have to put on a happy face no matter what or else they'll suffer greatly for "embarrassing" their spouse/parent/etc. by expressing the "wrong" emotion.
  • One school in Pennsylvania threatens students with punishment if they are not seen smiling down the hallway. It also doesn't help they don't do anything about actual bullying there. Unsurprisingly, the school has earned a bad reputation thanks to the news media.
  • Some kids can get in trouble in schools or with parents for having a "bad attitude." Likewise, parents will scold or punish their children for being "ungrateful" or "negative".
  • Similar to retail chains, this attitude is also prevalent in the restaurant industry, especially in the U.S., where waitstaff depend on tips. Internet restaurant reviewers will also ding restaurants for perceived rude treatment by waitstaff. This is such Serious Business for restaurant patrons that people have been known to leave one-star reviews because the waiter didn't smile at them, even if the food was good.
    • A particular restaurant chain is infamous for going a step further, requiring waitstaff to engage in line dancing or similar activities at scheduled intervals, for the diners' entertainment.
  • This was a factor in US antebellum slavery and the aftermath of the civil war. Slaveholders and former slaveholders demanded the illusion that their slaves (to quote Millie Rutherford) "were the happiest set of people on the face of the globe, free from care or thought of food, clothes, home.".
  • One common form of street harassment experienced by women is men telling them to smile.
  • There has been a rise in products and technology in The New '20s that is enforcing this trope. Which many people have criticized as being dystopian:
    • A phone filter that detects and pastes a fake smile on whoever's face the camera is pointing at.
    • An automatic door that won't open until the person using it smiles at the camera.
    • COVID-19 face masks with smiles on them.
  • "Toxic Positivity" is a term coined by psychologist and author Dr Jamie Zuckerman, in reference to an attitude displayed by many individuals and institutions, towards those who express pain, anger, pessimism, or dissatisfaction with their lives or social condition. Dr. Zuckerman describes it as "the excessive promotion of positive thinking, without taking an individual’s actual situation or experiences into consideration"; while profession organization The Psychology Group defines it as "an excessive and ineffective over-generalisation of a happy, optimistic state across all situations", which "results in the denial, minimization, and invalidation of the authentic human emotional experience".
  • Norman Vincent Peale's best-selling self-help book The Power of Positive Thinking is considered by many critics, including mental health professionals, to be the bible of toxic positivity. It's extremely popular with multi-level marketers, other self-help authors, and those peddling get-rich-quick schemes.
  • Some hospitals have "mandatory wellness" to prevent burnout. Quite a few doctors hate these programs and consider them a waste of time.


Video Example(s):


Alan's Happy Camps

As apart of his manifesto to take over the school, Alan's ultimate goal is to rid his school of sadness by any means necessary.

How well does it match the trope?

4.75 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / HappinessIsMandatory

Media sources: