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How About a Smile?

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Smiles always work.
Simply put, this is any situation where a character has to force a smile or a please/thank you despite not really wanting to do so.

A few examples:

  1. Character A will demand something from Character B. Character B refuses to oblige their request until Character A says "please". Character A begrudgingly does so, and only then does Character B perform the requested action. This is commonly seen between parent and child, though it can occur between adults (typically for comic effect).

  2. Character A will want something from Character B. Character B refuses to give it to Character A until they give them a little smile to show their appreciation. Typically, Character A will put on a very forced smile.

It's most common in sitcoms, but can appear in dramatic works occasionally, such as if a villain is trying to smugly exert their power over the hero. The character asking for the smile might regret it if the smiling character has Scary Teeth. See Finger-Forced Smile or Glasgow Grin for more physical variants.


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    Films — Animated 
  • In Beauty and the Beast, Lumiere is trying to coach the Beast on how to woo Belle. He tells the Beast, "When you see her, give her your most dashing, debonair smile! Come, come, show us the smile." Cue the Beast awkwardly baring his fangs.
  • In The Jungle Book, the vulture quartet tries to cheer up Mowgli with a song, and one of them asks "Give us a smile."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Pulp Fiction Vincent responds to the Wolf's orders on how to dispose of Marvin with "Please would be nice." This despite the fact that the situation is almost entirely his fault. The Wolf complies, sarcastically.

  • Subverted in The Dresden Files, where Harry is trying to negotiate a deal with local crime boss Johnny Marcone.
    Marcone: Say "please".
    Harry: Please...
    Marcone: Say "pretty please".
    Harry: Pretty please...
    Marcone: Say "pretty please with a cherry on top".
    Harry: Fuck you. [hangs up]

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: In Into the Dalek, the Doctor waits for a soldier to lower her weapon and say "Please" before he agrees to take her back to her base.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond:
    • In "Hackidu", Ray is impatient to get out of Russell's shop with the Scramisaur card, but before Russell will let him have it, he demands, "Let's have a little smile." Ray struggles to force a smile, and after Russell says, "That's what it's all about, man", he says he owes him well over $200 for the purchase.
    • In "The Christmas Picture", Ray tells Robert to get over into the picture.
      Robert: What?
      Ray: Get over there.
      Robert: "Get over there..."
      Ray: ...Please?
      Robert: There ya go, Raymond. You'll find a little courtesy goes a long way.
  • Farscape however plays it straight, when John Crichton finally agrees to give Scorpius the wormhole weapon he's been obsessed over for years. John goes all the way to "pretty please with a cherry on top" with Scorpius repeating his words without hesitation.
  • In Jessica Jones (2015), Kilgrave often commands Jessica to smile while she is under his control. Another of his victims says she's no longer able to smile without thinking of Kilgrave.
  • Royal Canadian Air Farce had a self-inflicted example where a politician in turmoil addresses his country saying "if I was worried, would I smile like this?" The camera cuts to a close-up of his face, and he smiles very briefly before reverting to gloom.
  • Star Trek: Voyager
    • In "Message in a Bottle", B'Elanna Torres gives Seven of Nine a lengthy tirade on how rude she is, not even delivering common courtesies like "Thank you". Later Seven zaps unconscious an annoying alien who's giving them trouble.
    Seven: It was a mild shock. He will recover. He was not responding to diplomacy.
    B'Elanna: Mild shock, huh. [Beat] Not bad.
    Seven: Thank you.
    • In "Drone", Seven is practicing her smiling in a mirror when the Doctor barges in on her, whereupon she quickly reverts to her Ice Queen demeanor. He appears not to have noticed, until he asks her to pose for a group photo shoot. "And I know you can."

    Newspaper Comics 
  • A running gag in Calvin and Hobbes centers around Calvin's dad trying to make Calvin smile for a photo, and Calvin either making a goofy face or in one case making a very dopey smile and protesting it was a real smile.
  • A version of "pretty please" in a Peanuts strip where Lucy has made Linus toast, but won't give it to him until he says "Thank you, dear sister, greatest of all sisters, without whom I would not survive". After she's gone he asks "How can I eat when I'm nauseated?"

  • City of Angels:
    Buddy: I need the new pages first thing yesterday. I'm going to open my window—I want to see some fingers flying. Stine? Let me hear a smile. [Stine smiles despite himself] Louder! [A laugh from Stine] That's my boy!

    Video Games 
  • In Carmen Sandiego's Great Chase Through Time, a puzzle involves getting the Mona Lisa's model to smile, so Leonardo da Vinci can resume painting. She's reluctant because a recent theft has depressed her.
  • In Final Fantasy X, forcing oneself to smile is a recurring theme about the game because of the sacrificial nature of the Calming Pilgrimages. One moment that stands out when Played for Laughs though is when Tidus goads Kimahri into smiling, resulting in him giving an unnatural, toothy smile that Tidus' only response to is "Sad."


    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • A variant occurs in "Black Widower" when Sideshow Bob is chewing out a hotel bellboy:
      Sideshow Bob: I WANTED A ROOM WITH A FIREPLACE, YOU BLASTED MONKEY! [realizes Selma is capturing him on camera] Oh Selma dear... I was just chatting with my good friend... [looks at his name tag] Dennis! Now, smile for the camera, there's a good lad! [Dennis struggles to produce a nervous smile]
    • In "Last Exit to Springfield", Lisa is having her picture taken on school picture day after she receives Braces of Orthodontic Overkill. The photographer asks for her to smile, and the smile she gives horrifies him.
      Photographer: [gasp] There is no God!
  • Teen Titans: Robin is being forced to take a supervillain's daughter to her prom.
    Kitty: And would it kill you to smile?
    [Robin forces a painful-looking rictus]
    Robin: Maybe.
  • Subverted in one episode of Rugrats, where Angelica has taken a ball from Tommy, who wants it back. Tommy refuses to humor Angelica, and so Angelica punches the ball two yards over in retaliation.
    Angelica: Ask me nice.
    Tommy: Give me my ball!
    Angelica: Say "Pretty please with sugar on top."
    Tommy: Give me my ball!
    Angelica: Say "Angelica is the nicest, prettiest, best person in the whole wide world."
    Tommy: GIVE ME MY BALL!
    Angelica: Well, if you can't be any nicer than that, I guess you'll never see your dumb ball again.
  • On Daria, the title character, known for being extremely stoic, specifically says that she doesn't like to smile without a reason. In "It Happened One Nut," she gets a job at a nut kiosk where she has to smile for every customer or they get their food free. We see her give a one-second smile for several patrons, though apparently she missed a few off-screen, because the boss mentions that she's a model employee except for losing $15 on her first day.

Say "cheese"!