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Manic Pixie Dream Girl
aka: Manic Pixie Dream Guy

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She'll liven up your life... whether you like it or not!

"I brake for birds! I rock a lot of polka dots! I have touched glitter in the past 24 hours! I spent my entire day talking to children! And I find it fundamentally strange that you're not a dessert person; that's just weird and it freaks me out! And I'm sorry I don't talk like Murphy Brown! And I hate your pantsuit. I wish it had ribbons on it or something to make it slightly cuter!"

Let's say you're a soulful, brooding male hero, living a sheltered, emotionless existence. If only someone could come along and open your heart to the great, wondrous adventure of life...

Have no fear, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is here to give new meaning to the male hero's life! She's stunningly attractive, energetic, high on life, full of wacky quirks and idiosyncrasies (generally including childlike playfulness), often with a touch of wild hair dye. She's inexplicably obsessed with our stuffed-shirt hero, on whom she will focus her kuh-razy antics until he learns to live freely and love madly.

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl may be featured as the Second Love, in order to break the character out of The Mourning After. If he's a cynic, her goal may be to convince him that Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!. Finally, she may be presented as a cheerful variety of Threshold Guardian, all the way from less uptight to psychopomps happily welcoming their clients into "another adventure".

It's a long-standing trope (around since at least 1283), but the term was coined in 2007 by The Onion's "A.V Club" film critic Nathan Rabin, who found it grating, as he believed it to be the result of Wish-Fulfillment from stir-crazy writers. He explicitly compared it to the Magical Negro, in that a Manic Pixie Dream Girl exists to help the protagonist achieve happiness without ever seeking any independent goals herself. Rabin would later disown the term, because instead of creating awareness of the "lack of independent goals in female characters", the concept was misunderstood as a condemnation of ALL quirky and fun female characters.

Despite all that (or because of all that), there are ways of utilizing this trope without falling into that pitfall. Given enough time, Character Development can add to their personality and interests and pull them away from the MPDG foundation. The story may even be told from their perspective, revealing that there is more to them than bringing adventure to brooding guys. A MPDG with independent story arc and depth of character can even be the true main character of a work, with her companion being a hapless Drag Along recruited to assist her goals—his world-expanding adventure is incidental to her need for someone to carry the cooking pots and backup hang glider.

Deconstructions of the idea may show that they resent being considered only useful for the benefit of the main character, idolized as something that they are not, or that once the main character reaches their "enlightened" stage, the MPDG moves on to the next person who needs their help. An alternative type of deconstruction is for a character introduced like this to turn out to be dangerously unstable, tipping over into Cute and Psycho, or (more realistically) a damaged and unhealthy individual whose childishness, naivete, and irresponsibility quickly either cause them to wear out their welcome, or suck the main character into a codependent mess that can only end badly.

A subtrope of Blithe Spirit, and related to Magical Girlfriend, Loony Friends Improve Your Personality, Uptight Loves Wild, and Damsel Errant. From the girl's perspective, this trope becomes Single Woman Seeks Good Man, though whether the hero qualifies varies.

Compare Cloudcuckoolander, Genki Girl, Perky Goth, Uptight Loves Wild, Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl, Pom-Pom Girl, and Quirky Ukulele for similar personality roles. See also The Pollyanna, for when a female character adopts this attitude to her own life. May also overlap with Trickster Girlfriend if she enjoys playing tricks on the protagonist and deliberately misleading him just for the fun of it. Sometimes the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a Hypercompetent Sidekick. Contrast Nerd Nanny and Yamato Nadeshiko for examples of calmer and more mature ladies. The Screwball Comedy is a genre driven entirely by this character type.

Although not quite Always Female, a "Manic Pixie Dream Guy" is a much rarer concept. "Manic Pixie Dream Guys", where they exist, tend to either be young (e.g., a Kid Sidekick) or immature. If the latter, expect them to learn just as much from their cynical partner as they teach (the cynic learns to enjoy life more while the immature one learns responsibility).


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    Comic Books 
  • In Batman Confidential "Lovers and Madmen", Harley plays this role for Jack Napier. Jack was in a rut and utterly bored with his life of crime. Harley — unaware that his "job" was career criminal — told him that it sounded like he had a gift and that he ought to embrace it. Jack takes her advice and goes to his next job which leads to his fateful encounter with Batman that turns him into The Joker. Harley doesn't quite fit the mold since she has her own issues too: she's working nightshifts as a waitress at a bar to pay her college tuition and jokingly tells Jack that if he really wanted to thank her for the advice he can give her enough money to pay her way through college. After he becomes The Joker he does just that. It could be argued that in most incarnations, Harley Quinn believes herself to be this to the Joker, and arguably would be if the Joker were capable of even the slightest shred of empathy.
  • Played straight in Charles Burns's Body Horror opus Black Hole. Trippy artist Eliza is adorable and sweet from head to tail.
  • A Deconstructed Character Archetype in the graphic novel Demo: A stressed-out businessman meets one of these girls. She encourages him to unwind and enjoy himself, as they meet over meals and he occasionally lends her money. Then one day he gets suspicious, breaks into her apartment... and finds an array of recording equipment. The reason she can say what he needs to hear is because she spies on him.
  • Subverted in The Diary of Molly Fredrickson: Peanut Butter as Erica has this effect on the title character sexually with Molly going from "merely" catching her parents roleplaying in her uniform to being the Tagalong Kid in her sexual adventures. There's making out with each other in the bathroom despite no previous interest in girls, with the eponymous food, there's a threesome with her boyfriend; and so on until threesomes and orgies are natural to her, leading up to gangbanging a nun for prom. Molly then becomes this trope when she goes to college in San Diego, orchestrates/participates in more orgies and opens up Verna, whose only sexual experience was with her uncle.
  • Some depictions of Doctor Strange's apprentice and lover, Clea, show her playing little pranks on him whenever she thinks he looks too grim and needs to smile.
  • Subverted in ElfQuest. Aroree is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl to Skywise, although he barely needs one, but mostly to her tribe, which otherwise consists of very serious ancient elves. She gets broken and develops into a very mature, sad figure, sticking around in the main plot for the rest of the series.
  • From The Flash:
    • The modern interpretations of Iris West (former Lois Lane Expy) is this to Barry Allen (the Flash II), who is nerdy and awkward. She initially only uses him as her source within the CCPD, but does grow fond of him. In a realistic nod, she's also depicted as a caffeine addict.
    • Wally West (the Flash III) is this to his wife, Linda Park. When they first met, he was a cocky idiot and she was an uptight news reporter. As time went on, she learned to have more fun with life and he became more mature and responsible.
  • Li'l Depressed Boy has one in hipster girl Jazz, who is a rather straight-up example, but also deconstructed somewhat. Initially, she helps the titular hero, LDB, out of his stupor, with her outgoing personality and general upbeat attitude. Not only that, but she gets him out of his routine, and they share a lot of the same interests... then she casually reveals that she has a boyfriend, and is just really touchy-feely with pretty much everyone and sees LDP as just a friend and has no idea of how he feels about her. Note that everyone, even random people who don't know the two, thought they were dating. LDP stops talking to her afterwards due to the awkwardness, but she, not knowing she did anything wrong, tries to maintain the friendship. It takes LDP a while to get past it, as it makes him second-guess himself in terms of relationships. Even her mannerisms are deconstructed. When LDP thought they were dating, her manicness was a good thing, since it meant things were always fun and upbeat, with the same thing applying to her touchy-feeliness. But when LDP runs into her later on with his new girlfriend Spike, her talkativeness is played up as more annoying than anything and she comes off as too touchy-feely, hugging someone she just met and all.
  • Ramona Flowers from Scott Pilgrim. She's not a completely straight example, as her personality is rather mellow and low-key, but she shakes up the main character's life, is desired by many (to the point that she has seven exes), wears very fashionable clothes, and dyes her hair blinding neon colours. She also has many of the same character flaws as Scott, which is why she has seven evil exes to begin with, and the story's about both of them maturing as people and confronting these flaws head on instead of ignoring them. If anything, she's a Deconstruction.
  • Reconstructed in The Sculptor by Scott McCloud. David falls in love in a girl named Meg when she appears to literally fly out of the sky on angel wings to give him hope. The event turns out to be a flash mob prank, but Meg sincerely cares for David after hearing about his problems. While Meg resembles the trope in that she is often energetic, has many random quirks, and is devoted to David's wellbeing, she avoids the trope's pitfalls through being fleshed out. Meg has made a job for herself in helping the homeless, is not flawless, suffers from depression (made worse by not taking her medication), and has her own life with friends outside of David. This is best demonstrated in a speech she gives him towards the end of the comic, where she promises David she'll help make his name great but she wants her own name great too.
    • Much of Meg's traits that resemble MPDG quirks are actually are based on traits of McCloud's own wife Ivy. He also responded to the criticism in several interviews, mirroring Nathan Rabin's response that the problem isn't quirky female characters, it's female characters who are nothing but quirks.
      McCloud: I married the trope — what am I gonna do?
  • Spider-Man: In her very first appearances, Mary Jane Watson had a lot of hallmarks of a screwball-comedy heroine (a Manic Pixie Dream Girl with a dark side) in that she was a free spirit, dashed attractive and clearly enjoyed throwing Peter Parker's life into disarray. Her darker side came into evidence e. g. when she on various occasions would flirt with Peter when he was committed to Gwen Stacy and she herself was supposed to be Harry Osborn's girlfriend. Obviously that changed after Gwen's Death. It's also worth pointing out that Peter didn't start falling for her until she dropped the act and started showing her true self.
  • The Mist in Starman thinks she's this to Jack, even comparing herself to the Katharine Hepburn character in Bringing Up Baby. Jack pointed out that, unlike the Mist, Hepburn did not kill anybody.
  • Squirrel Girl fits the trope, especially around Speedball whom she is determined to rescue from his self-inflicted punishment of being the brooding Anti-Hero Penance.
  • Superman:
    • Modern interpretations of Lois Lane have her fill this role for Clark Kent. Her energy and fiery personality instantly catches his eye, and she often drags him along for her stories.
    • Clark is a Manic Pixie Dream Guy for Lois, whether it's as himself or as Superman. Clark is appealing as the farm boy who's new to the big city and wins her over with his kindness, dorky charm and down-to-earth nature, while Superman is appealing as the brave, altruistic, larger-than-life hero who literally sweeps her off her feet, comes to her rescue, and shows her all sorts of fantastic things. In a lot of incarnations, his small-town upbringing and idealism act as the perfect balance to Lois' streetwise cynicism.
  • Another Stan Lee creation, The Wasp's Janet Van Dyne aka the Winsome Wasp, was this to Henry Pym (Ant-Man, later Giant-Man, Goliath and Yellowjacket) in the 1960s, but again with a darker edge — one thing she liked to do in an attempt to make him come out of his shell was to flirt with other Avengers.
  • David Lapham's Young Liars is an entire series about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl Sadie and her effect on protagonist Danny's life. The trope is played with, as she is legitimately dangerous (she has absolutely no impulse control, and so has a tendency to get into fights—this is besides the Pinkerton detectives hired to hunt her down), and that the reason why she's a MPDG is that Danny shot her in the head and the bullet is destroying the moral and judgment centers of her brain, which will kill her eventually.

    Comic Strips 
  • Bridget is like this in My Cage. Although the other main characters are generally too cynical and depressed for her to have more than a temporary effect.
    Norm: You are like dating a cartoon elf sometimes.
  • In Peanuts, Sally tries to be this towards Linus, but he's quick to remind her that he is NOT her sweet babboo.
    Sally: What does he know?note 

    Fan Works 
  • At Gate's Edge:
    • Despite being a ghost, Edward is an inversion to Roy Mustang. Edward's presence acts as an anchoring force in Roy's life, causing him to take things more seriously, work harder, take his duties more seriously and be more honest to himself and others. When Roy falls in love with him, he reevaluates his promiscuous lifestyle and considers giving it up to be faithful to Ed.
    • Roy plays this straight to Edward. Roy shakes Edward out of his dull afterlife of haunting Roy's office and pulls him into a life of excitement, conspiracy and adventure along with helping Edward tie loose ends with his old life.
  • Frozen Flame:
    • Fullmetal Alchemist (2003): Edward Elric to Alfons Heiderich. Edward majorly shook up Alfons' dull life with his determination, devil-may-care attitude and refusal to believe anything without proof and helped Alfons' rocket program take off. In fact Edward shakes up Alfons' life so much that when given the choice to go to Amestris with him, Alfons jumps at the chance without a second thought. Although the dark side of the trope is lampshaded when Alter!Hughes warns Alfons how dangerous Edward could be, so focused on his own goals that he ignores the possible fatal consequences.
    • In the same story, Alphonse Elric to Roy Mustang. Alphonse shakes Roy out of his disillusioned funk in his self-exile and gets him to live life again. Although Alphonse does this for selfish reasons: he wanted to learn Flame Alchemy from Roy, learn who his brother was from the man that loved him and learn how to seduce Edward for himself.
  • The Golden Armor: Angel Beats is the Manic Pixie Mare in this My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic, slowly defrosting the stone faced pegasus Comet Burst through the expedient of being the most annoying thing in his life. She fulfill all the signs of the trope, she is full of energy, never stops talking, keeps hitting on him (metaphorically and literally as well) and instead of a wild hair color (that's not very singular in the show) she's a Bat Pony, a rare breed of pony. For some reason the superiors in the Royal Guard of Equestria think it's good to keep them together, and he slowly begin the standard routine of falling in love with a Manic Pixie Girl.
  • Iron Touch has a platonic example with Sara Smile, a bubbly tourist who encourages Michelle to stop living in the past and helps pull her out of her depression.
  • Nymphadora Tonks of the Harry Potter series usually fills this in fanfiction. She's a clumsy metamorphmagus (meaning that she can change her appearance at will, for example she's usually seen with pink hair), who wears band t-shirts and has more humor than most of the cast. She's often paired with a character the author feels needs to loosen up (Lupin, Harry, Moody, etc.).

    Films — Animation 
  • Gender Inverted in Cats Don't Dance with Danny trying to motivate Sawyer to go after her dreams.
  • Elemental (2023): Wade is a Gender Inverted example, who quite literally bursts into Ember's life and ends up snapping her out of her routine.
  • The Land Before Time: the first movie has Ducky as a platonic version. When they first meet, Ducky pulls Littlefoot out of his long-standing depression (from losing his mother and being rejected by Cera) due to her cheerful, sunny disposition.
  • Wyldstyle in The LEGO Movie is a satire of the MPDG. She's introduced as a quirky super-skilled Action Girl who rescues the boring average male Special, but it becomes clear that she doesn't like being in that role. She sought out the Piece of Resistance because she wanted to be the Special, her made up name and odd fashion sense come out of insecurity and trying too hard to be unique, and she thinks of Emmet as a useless Load who is not living up to his title at all. She and Emmet eventually warm up to each other, and before Emmet dies he commissions her to become the Special after him.
  • The main purpose of Penny Peterson in Mr. Peabody & Sherman, and promoted as such note : A Blithe Spirit taking a 360 turn on boy genius Sherman's life, leading him to do things by himself for the first time, like flying Da Vinci's prototype and falling in love. While Mr. Peabody is quite annoyed by the presence of a MPDG turning his son "into a hooligan" (which leads Sherman to call him out), this ends up being rather helpful as she helps him to come to terms with his relations with Mr. Peabody, who ends up asking their help to fix a paradox.
  • In The Return of Hanuman, Hanuman reincarnates himself into a boy named Maruti. Later, he helps Minku, a poor boy who is frequently bullied by most of his classmates. It makes sense why he acts so bubbly: he's only three months old. By the end of the film, Maruti (already transformed into Hanuman) told Minku to be strong before left the village.
  • Poppy in Trolls plays with the trope. She definitely fits the personality type, especially and she fills a platonic version of the plot to Bridget (who's ironically voiced by Zooey Deschanel) — convincing her to pursue the man she loves. But then again all the trolls are like that and although Poppy eventually does get the cynical Branch to liven up — she only ropes him into her scheme because she needs his help rescuing her friends. And it's Branch who ends up saving Poppy from her Despair Event Horizon.
  • Ellie in Up. Interesting in that she only shows up in the prologue as Carl's beloved (deceased) wife. She is a catalyst for the movie's action, as Carl takes off for Paradise Falls in order to posthumously fulfill his promise to her.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Inverted in 13 Going on 30. Jenna is a bubble of quirk who livens up Matt's life with her enthusiasm...except Jenna herself is the protagonist, her manic behavior is because she's a teenager trapped in the body of her 30-year-old future self, and she learns and grows over the course of the film.
  • Muriel Pritchett (Geena Davis) in The Accidental Tourist plays a quirky dog trainer who helps both the dog and his owner, Macon Leary (William Hurt), a repressed and grieving travel writer who is mourning the death of his son and his marriage. Upon meeting Muriel, Macon's life changes in ways he comes to view as healing. However, in the novel, Muriel is more manic-depressive — she sometimes becomes moody and sour, even neglecting her son.
  • In Adam (2009), both Adam and Beth have elements of this towards each other. The story is about a young teacher dating a young man with Autism in Manhattan. The story ends with the two breaking up, but it is a Bittersweet Ending because the two have gained a greater understanding from each other: Beth writes a book on her experience, and Adam seems more socially adjusted and happier in his new job.
  • Amy Adams played a lot of these earlier in her career:
    • Giselle from Enchanted, who has the excuse of being a fairy tale character who suddenly (and quite literally) fell into Robert's life. She helps him loosen up, and even helps him with his relationship, only to end up falling for him. For his part, Robert helps her find some firmer ground. It also helps that Giselle is the protagonist, and her livening up Robert's life is incidental while she's actively trying to make sense of the world around her.
    • Delysia Lafosse to uptight British governess Miss Pettigrew in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, although there's a bit of sharing going on and Delysia actually matures because of Miss Pettigrew as well.
    • Amelia Earhart in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian plays this trope down to the letter for the main character, Larry. Subverted in that Larry doesn't undergo any real changes after spending time with her, she's just there to act as a foil to his more reserved personality.
  • Elise in The Adjustment Bureau has the quirky personality of the MPDG down pat — she meets the hero in the men's washroom when she is hiding from security from having crashed a wedding, and later drops his phone into his coffee to stop him talking to his assistant — but her role in the story is an aversion and possibly even a deconstruction. Not only does she have her own dreams of becoming a top ballet dancer, but she spends much of the movie independently pursuing them while the protagonist (who is far from boring or emotionless) spends most of his time pursuing her. The deconstruction comes in when the titular agency suggests that her influence on David is only good for him in small doses. The washroom encounter inspires him to ditch a pre-written speech and make an improvised one about how his media appearance is all calculated and artificial, getting him a popular reputation as a man of the people. An agent of the Bureau claims that it was meant to be a one-off encounter, and that if he continued to be with her, her influence would encourage him to make increasingly reckless decisions that would eventually cost him his political career.
  • Subverted in Martin Scorsese's black comedy After Hours. The girl the hero meets at the start turns out to be seriously disturbed and kills herself halfway through the movie.
  • Although all of the Band-Aids are trying for this, Penny Lane is clearly the Manic Pixie Dream Girl of Almost Famous. Though she avoids the stereotypical MPDG ending (dead or with the guy) — she almost dies of an overdose, only to be saved by William, then breaks it off with Russell to go live her own MPDG life in Morocco without either love interest. But, of course, in doing all this she shows Russell the error of his ways so that he can make things right with William, helping both of them toward stardom. This is a Deconstructed Character Archetype, as Penny has her own inner life and emotional arc despite hitting many MPDG notes.
  • The eponymous main character of Amélie is often accused of being one, as she's a quirky and childlike young woman who livens up people's lives...except her quirks are given a clear source (namely her sheltered upbringing and trauma from witnessing her mother's death as a child), she decides to be a good Samaritan and liven up everyone's life in her area, neglecting her own needs is a character flaw in-universe, and her eventual love interest is a man exactly like her (rather than a Foil to her personality). She notably doesn't insert herself into Nino's life because she's incredibly shy, and her Character Development is about developing the courage to make contact. They don't even share the screen until the last scene.
  • Jennifer Aniston seems to play a lot of these roles.
    • In Along Came Polly, Aniston plays Polly Prince, a free-spirited bohemian who teaches Reuben Feffer (Ben Stiller) to be unafraid and live life to the fullest.
    • She plays a quirky flower-shop owner in Love Happens teaching Aaron Eckhart how to love again and heal after his wife's death.
  • A Deconstructed Character Archetype in Woody Allen's 1977 film Annie Hall. The title character is a cheerful Bohemian, who turns out to be a spoiled, unfocused, pseudointellectual, neurotic child in an adult's body; a horribly broken person. Which gives her something in common with Woody Allen's character, who is likewise horribly broken, just in somewhat different ways. At the end of the movie, it turns out that Alvy was something of a Manic Pixie Dream Guy for Annie, in terms of teaching her how to have more confidence in her abilities and helping her to improve her own life, while most of his problems remain unsolved.
  • Winona Ryder's character Charlotte in Autumn In New York is a beautiful artist who suffers from a rare heart disease, and teaches a self-centered, skirt-chasing Richard Gere about life and love.
  • Barefoot takes this a step beyond with the pair-up of dour, debt-owing Jay and carefree Womanchild Daisy, who, yes, goes around barefoot and blurts out things like "I have to go potty" and "My mom told me driving gets you pregnant." How is it taken a step beyond? Daisy is actually from a mental institution.
  • Ben X has Scarlite, a girl the autistic protagonist Ben plays with in an RPG who talks him out of suicide and inspires him to stand up to the bullying he endures at school. It's subverted, however, by the Scarlite we see for most of the film turning out to be an imaginary construct of Ben's mind.
  • Another male variant is Sam in Benny & Joon, and he affects two characters. Joon is a mentally-ill woman who falls for him as it comes to light that they understand each other in a way other people don't. Her brother Benny, who's taken care of her all these years, is the uptight character wary of her getting involved with someone else, and has to accept that he's not only being overprotective but also neglecting his personal happiness by worrying so much.
  • In Better Off Dead, Monique plays this role for Lane, helping pull him out of his depression after his girlfriend dumps him.
  • Betty Blue from the French movie Betty Blue. To quote the IMDb summary: "[The lead character] lives a quiet and peaceful life, working diligently and writing in his spare time. One day, Betty walks into his life, a young woman who is as beautiful as she is wild and unpredictable...". The trope is, however, deconstructed, as Betty is not quite right in the head.
  • Kim Basinger and Madonna's respective characters in Blind Date and Who's That Girl could certainly apply. Both movies focus on a straight-laced, successful, dark-haired guy (Bruce Willis and Griffin Dunne) being paired with a free-spirited, crazy blonde chicknote . His entire way of life gets demolished over the course of 24 hours. Also all but demolished along the way is a beloved car. Declarations of love are made at a lead character's wedding to someone else (in Blind Date, hers and in Who's That Girl, his). And there's a wealthy, snarky, future-father-in-law, who doesn't seem to respect his child and arguably thinks more of the intended. Even the posters (with the oversize female heads with their mischievous expressions next to a smaller version of the male lead) are similar.
  • The Boy Who Cried Werewolf:
    • Paulina presents herself to David as a plucky, energetic, quirky woman opening David's heart again after his wife's death. Of course, it's all an act to mask her vampirism, and make David more comfortable selling the mansion to her.
    • Subverted with Goran, the Romanian boy who falls in love with Jordan. After she becomes a version of this due to The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body, he becomes rather freaked out by her.
  • Sam Rockwell plays the buddy-movie equivalent in Box of Moonlight. He wears a Davy Crockett costume and teaches John Turturro to love life; while there's no romance, there's certainly a lot of naked swimming.
  • In Breakfast at Tiffany's Audrey Hepburn plays the quirky, wild child of a neighbor. However, the protagonist eventually tells her to get over herself.
  • Katharine Hepburn as a scatter-brained heiress who loosens up Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby. As this was an early movie Screwball Comedy, Hepburn may be the Trope Maker for this medium. Although she doesn't insinuate herself into his life so much as yank him bodily into hers.
  • Another gender-flipped example, Rhodes is this to Annie in Bridesmaids. His main function in the plot is to make kooky observations about vegetables and encourage Annie to follow her dreams. It's a slightly more nuanced example than most: his biggest romantic gesture is presented as (at best) well-meaning but tone-deaf, and while he encourages her to follow her dreams (by returning to her love of baking and dream of owning a business), he also encourages her to deal with the mundane realities of her life (by fixing her tail light). She also repeatedly tells him that she doesn't need him to "fix" her.
  • Annie Savoy in Bull Durham is sort of consciously a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She really loves the Durham Bulls, and she knows so much about both baseball and the finer things in life that when she dates a player (she picks one per season) he has the best year of his career. She has a lot of fun with a bunch of strapping young men, helps the team improve at the same time, and makes no apologies for it.
  • Subverted with Cabaret's Sally Bowles, who demonstrates just how messed up this kind of character tends to be in real life. She and Brian have a lot of fun at first but it's soon illustrated that she loves her partying lifestyle too much and she aborts their baby because she doesn't think she's mother material. The last scene of the film has her performing a number that implies she's going to continue a life of fun and frivolity — but the crowd is full of Nazi officers, implying Sally's fun won't last too long.
  • Dylan Morgan in Cas and Dylan is a wannabe writer—as well as a chronic liar, compulsive shoplifter, and general-purpose motormouth who bums a cross-country car ride with Cas Pepper, a widowed doctor who is dying of an inoperable brain tumor. Although Dylan spends three-quarters of the film driving Cas crazy and/or upending his life, a friendship eventually blossoms between the two. Subverted in that not only is there no romance between the two, Cas also goes through with his plan to end his life—yet ends up enriching Dylan's life by leaving her all his earthly possessions.
  • Titular character in Malayalam-language Indian movie Charlie can be seen as Gender-Inverted version of the trope. He is chased by main character, woman who start to live in his previous apartment, in sort of mouse and cat chase, while he is changing peoples lives with his unique attitude and perspective on life.
  • Chungking Express, features Faye the "California Dreamin'"-obsessed snack bar girl: to help a police officer get over his breakup with a flight attendant, she frequently breaks into (and floods) his apartment, switches the labels on all his canned foods, and rearranges his furniture. Eventually, he falls for her, but she stands him up and decides to "see the world" by becoming — yes — a flight attendant. But don't worry: everything works out okay.
  • Molly, played by Emily Mortimer, in City Island, is the catalyst to resolve the dysfunctional family's problems, but her own are not touched on until near the end of the film or resolved during its course, though one could optimistically interpret the manner of her self-effacing withdrawal from the action as her taking the first step towards doing so.
  • Clara: Clara is a downplayed version. Though not so energetic or wacky, she's far more loose and optimistic in comparison to Isaac (a bitter, unhappy man). By working with her and becoming a couple, he gets over the loss of his son that caused this (though she dies).
  • Cluny in Cluny Brown has an unusual love of plumbing, enriches the lives of others when she's around, and is rather confused about social orders, especially in the very Stiff Upper Lip house she goes to live in as a maid.
  • Daddy Issues is what happens when two Manic Pixie Dream Girls fall in love with each other.
  • Defied in Daydream Nation when Caroline finds out her teacher/lover has written a very thinly-disguised story about her being this trope and is understandably Squicked out at being put on a pedestal and dehumanized like that as she readily admits her own issues and how pathetic he is.
  • Zooey Deschanel is often identified with this character type in general, although many of her other roles play with the trope rather than serve it up straight.
    • Allison from the Jim Carrey film Yes-Man is a subversion. Her quirky hobbies are entirely for herself, and she's pretty horrified at the idea of just being a tool for Carl's happiness. She also calls him out when he tells her that she's so fearless, and explains that of course she has her own fears, and that she's also perfectly happy living her life without him.
    • Her title character in (500) Days of Summer is a subversion, as she doesn't want a steady relationship, pulls out hints of What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?, and at the end, she falls in love with and gets married to someone else. Overall, Summer is a deconstruction of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, as Tom thinks she's this and treats her as a romantic ideal without considering that she's an actual person who might have her own feelings — and what's more, a case can be made that he ultimately turned out to be a Manic Pixie Dream Guy to Summer, who tells him at the end that he taught her that love is real.
    • Inverted in Elf, where her character is the jaded, closed-off girlfriend of Will Ferrell's eponymous Manic Pixie Dream Guy.
    • She plays the role completely straight in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005), in which her character was Promoted to Love Interest. The male main character however defies her attempts to run off together to Madagascar but this ultimately turns out to save both of their lives when after his rejection she runs off with the sexy alien President of the Galaxy and he gets rescued by his secretly alien best friend before the Earth is demolished.
    • In the 2007 film adaptation of Bridge to Terabithia, she merges this with the Cool Teacher role - as she plays the only teacher in a conservative school that encourages the protagonist's creativity. Of course she's also just in a supporting role, and actually becomes an Unwitting Instigator of Doom inviting Jess on a trip to the museum, and Leslie dies while he's with her.
  • Coined by Nathan Rabin of The Onion AV Club in a retrospective review of Elizabethtown, which features Kirsten Dunst playing such a character, and further expanded on in their list of famous Manic Pixie Dream Girls. Rabin defines a Manic Pixie Dream Girl as a character who "exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures". When Kirsten Dunst was asked about the term directly, she didn't like it.
  • Charlie Kaufman has examined this concept more than once.
    • Clementine of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is this type of character, though the relationship plays out more realistically. She even references the "you complete me" line, to her distaste, from Jerry Maguire. She also lampshades this to a certain degree, saying that Joel shouldn't expect her to "save" him, and that she's "just a fucked-up girl looking for her own peace of mind." Joel sums up her MPDG-ness and the film's deconstruction of it during his tape recording for Lacuna:
      Joel: I think if there's a truly seductive quality about Clementine, it's that her personality promises to take you out of the mundane. It's like, you secure yourself with this amazing, burning meteorite to carry you to another world, a world where things are exciting. But, what you quickly learn is that it's really an elaborate ruse.
    • I'm Thinking of Ending Things plays this more subtly. Jake is a socially awkward young man, while his girlfriend is a charming intelligent young woman. His mother is delighted that he met someone as lively and intelligent as she. Later, though, it is heavily implied that the young woman isn't real, instead an idealized encounter of a real person he briefly interacted with once, brought to life by the films and literature he consumes — which why she takes on characteristics of the fiction they discuss and the works seen in his room.
  • Leeloo in The Fifth Element is zany, tiny, and cute. She falls into Bruce Willis's lap and begins reshaping a life that was on a downward spiral through adventure and mayhem.
  • Fight Club:
    • A truly disturbing example in the form of Marla Singer, who could perhaps best be described as what happens when the Manic Pixie Dream Girl grows up. Marla is dirty, living in poverty, and clearly suffering some form of mental illness, and gets into a fairly unhealthy relationship with Tyler. The narrator is dissatisfied with social norms and consumerist trends, but lacks the will to break out of the mold on his own, leading to his association with Tyler. Marla actually infuriates the narrator because she simply doesn't care about anything. She even calls him out on all his selfish justifications for his behavior being no worse or different than her own.
    • In a way, the confident, flamboyant Tyler is also a MPDG to the uptight nameless narrator. There's a serious homoerotic subtext between them throughout the movie (less surprising when you realize that the author is gay). The narrator just drifts through life until Tyler shows up, and their relationship changes his life and his outlook forever. And then you find out that Tyler was just the narrator's split personality all along. At the end, he kills "Tyler" off.
  • Sarah Lewis in Force of Nature is an older Manic Pixie Dream Girl who helps Ben Holmes, a blurb writer for hardcover book sleeves, come out of his shell. They sit next to other on an airplane that is struck by a bird and must land. He then travels with her across the country having free-sprited adventures on their way to Savannah, where he is going to get married and she is also headed. He learns to be a better person thanks to Sarah, but ends up getting married and leaving her behind.
  • Back in the 90's Brendan Fraser played a gender flipped version more than once:
    • Adam from Blast from the Past has never interacted with anyone outside of his family for his whole thirty years of living. Upon entering the outside world he falls completely in love with Eve and shows her a new perspective on life and about love.
    • Fletcher in Still Breathing (1997) is a sensitive artist who puts together rock sculptures and does puppetry for a living. After he begins to have visions of his one true love, he drops everything to go meet her and show her that true love is indeed real.
  • Natalie Portman's character Sam in Garden State is one of the most famous examples of this trope. The main character Andrew Largeman is a guy on anti-depressant and mood stabilizers, she's a bubble of quirk who floated into his life, who randomly shakes about like a kid at one point "doing something that's completely unique, that's never been done before" and advises him to laugh all the time. By the end, he's screaming into abysses and doing dramatic runs through airports in the name of love.
  • Subverted with Enid in Ghost World: told from the perspective of a sarcastic teen girl as she teaches Seymour, a shy, obsessive older man how to take chances and enjoy living; of course this destroys his life. Enid leaves to build her own life somewhere else. Seymour ends up in therapy.
  • Stella from Gideons Daughter is a middle-aged Manic Pixie Dream Girl for the film's brooding middle-aged hero. Though Stella has her own issues and isn't a chirpy twentysomething, she basically exists so Gideon can enjoy life again.
  • The eponymous character of The Girl Next Door gets the hero, Matthew Kidman, off of his overachieving ass to loosen up and have some fun for once in his life. She does at least have her own ambitions in life — namely to put her porn star roots behind her.
    "What's the craziest thing you've done lately?"
  • Monsieur Gustave in The Grand Budapest Hotel is an older, non-romantic, same-gender variation to Zero Moustafa. He's a quirky, charming hotel concierge who acts like he just walked out from a wormhole to the Victorian era, and has numerous eccentric habits including art theft and sleeping with MUCH older women. He hires Zero to work at the eponymous Hotel, and quickly becomes his best friend and the closest thing he has to a family member after all his blood relatives were massacred in World War I, all the while teaching Zero the hotel trade and ushering him into the best years of his life. He also fits the darker permutation of this character type as his eccentricities mask numerous insecurities, particularly the fact that he knows his time will soon come to an end with the impending specter of World War II, and sure enough, as soon as he's finished teaching Zero everything he knows, he's promptly killed off, leaving Zero to impart what he's learned to the next generation in the form of the film's narrator.
  • Played with in Happy-Go-Lucky. The main character, Poppy, is a free-spirited extreme optimist who starts taking driving lessons from an uptight, closed-off pessimist who develops a crush on her. Subverted in that she doesn't return the feelings, and stops the driving lessons so they won't see each other again after he lampshades this trope with a rant about how selfish it is — even if she ultimately doesn't fit the trope, no one could convince him differently.
  • Maude in Harold and Maude is an unusual example in that she's about 60 years older than the man. A vivacious, eccentric and well-traveled woman, she teaches Harold to live life to the fullest and get over his morbid obsession with death.
  • Goldie Hawn played this type in Cactus Flower (1969) and Butterflies Are Free (1972). In both films she plays madcap, giggly, high-energy blondes that bring a bolt of excitement into the life of a lonely man. Her later film Private Benjamin (1981) is an examination of what happens when the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is forced to grow up.
  • Heavenly Creatures is a darkly subverted lesbian version — wild, eccentric Juliet inspires shy Pauline not to embrace life, but to murder her mother.
  • her: Theodore's ex-wife accuses him of wanting her to be that way, a happy object to balance out his dour, brooding self, and suggests he's dating a computer because she's less complicated than a real woman. Samantha, his new computer/girlfriend, expresses the same opinion and tells Theodore she's tired of acting the way he wants her to act.
  • Heather Graham's character Mandy in 2003 film Hope Springs brings meaning back to life, with her free-spirited American ways (becoming the new love interest), of her opposite: broody, just-dumped British male lead Colin, played by Colin Firth.
  • April in Hot Tub Time Machine. Played surprisingly straight, she just appears in Adam's life, fixates on him (particularly odd, since she's apparently an established music journalist and Adam's a teenager), takes him out of the dull funk that he's in, and even engages in some low-level breaking and entering for the sake of romance.
  • In The House of Yes, the main character is a part of a wealthy Big, Screwed-Up Family and has a few issues of his own to work out. He does this by dating a ditzy, middle class girl with a cheerful demeanor.
  • Kevin Franklin is a male example of this in Houseguest. Franklin however, is only a Con Man who (at least at first) doesn't care about improving the lives of the people he meets, but ends up doing so anyway.
  • Gwen Phillips in Housesitter, a con artist and a pathological liar, plays this role for Newton Davis, played by Steve Martin. He's almost as crazy as she is. They're kind of Manic Pixie Dream people to each other.
  • An early example is in 1968's I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (included in the A.V. Club list). Straitlaced Harold Fine, already feeling dissatisfied with life, encounters Nancy, the friend of his hippie little brother, and lets her spend the night at his apartment. As thanks, she makes him pot brownies, though he doesn't realize what they are until he's consumed them. Loosened up, he goes to thank her and they ultimately become lovers. Harold becomes a Runaway Groom to both be with Nancy and fully embrace the hippie lifestyle. But after the initial bliss, the existence and his relationship with her proves as unfulfilling and superficial as his old life was. In the end he chooses to Take a Third Option and find his own path to happiness alone.
  • Subverted in I Love You, Beth Cooper. Although Beth Cooper's character does have a lot of these qualities, she's actually very insecure and the protagonist ends up changing her outlook on life simply by showing her that she has a lot more potential than she's giving herself credit for.
  • The whole point of the movie I Love You, Man. Where Peter Klaven's repressed real estate agent is taught how to live life by the maniac pixie dream guy Sydney Fife.
  • Geet in the 2007 Bollywood film Jab We Met — childlike and wacky to the point where the male lead, a weary businessman, says she "needs a psychiatrist," until she brings him out of his shell. And then, some plot later, he becomes a Manic Pixie Dream Guy for her.
  • Subverted by Catherine in Jules and Jim. Compelling as she is, Catherine's joie-de-vivre comes hand in hand with bipolar tendencies, selfishness, and a constant sense of discontent. She's a whirlwind of energy, and instead of that being a positive force, she sort of just ends up imploding in on herself. The questionable aspects of her behavior escalate until she kills herself and Jim by driving them off a bridge in her car out of a mixture of depression and sheer whimsy.
  • Juno was unintentionally this for Mark Loring, much to her dismay. Sort of reversed though with Paulie Bleeker- she may be the quirkier of the two but he was the one who opened her cynical heart.
  • Gender-reversed in the Bollywood movie Kal Ho Naa Ho: Naina is an overstressed MBA student who doesn't believe in the power of love. Then wacky romantic Aman comes to her neighborhood and teaches her to enjoy life.
  • Killing Zoe features a Manic Pixie Dream Girl caught in the middle of a bank heist. She eventually gets a machine gun. Death ensues.
  • Mila Kunis' character in Moving McAllister is an unabashed example of this trope, described by her uncle as very beautiful and "wild" she is bent upon turning the boring lawyer she just met into someone who loves life. Kunis' character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall is also a straight MPDG.
  • Sarah Jessica Parker's character SanDeE from L.A. Story (1991) starring and written by Steve Martin. Although SanDeE is a bit more nuanced take on the character. She is a classic Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but the movie portrays a relationship with her as shallow and self-indulgent for Martin's character. He is better paired with the quirky British woman.
  • Double-subverted twice in the Barbara Stanwyck comedy The Lady Eve. So Jeanne brightens up the life of stiff, repressed Charles (or "Hopsie") — but the fact is that she's a con woman who wants to take his money. But then, she's also in love with him, and is willing to go straight for his sake. Then when he finds out and rejects her, she takes on the persona of the Lady Eve, and pulls the MPDG on him again.
  • Larry Crowne: Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) personifies this trope to the point where Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts) even refers to her as a pixie. The only area where she breaks the stereotype is that she has no romantic interest in Larry (Tom Hanks) and her efforts are aimed at getting him together with Mercedes.
  • Juliette Lewis frequently played versions of this role early in her career. Played straight in What's Eating Gilbert Grape but, notably, a very dark subversion in Kalifornia. In the latter, she keeps a cactus in her purse and has done well when Early doesn't whip her.
  • In Keith, the titular character is a Rare Male Example. Natalie is the quintessential perfect high school student who has her whole life planned out for her, and Keith takes it upon himself to show her how to have fun through his bizarre, unconventional ideas of amusement. However, he's dying, presumably of cancer, and he's just looking for one last thrill and decides to make it his mission to "have fun with her." Unfortunately for him, he winds up falling in love with her, just as he's come to accept his imminent death.
  • Although she's more grounded and less 'out there' than the usual bizarre Dream Girls, Liv Tyler's character in Lonesome Jim is a warm and life-embracing character whose only purpose in the movie is to teach the self-absorbed, miserable main character to cheer up despite the audience wondering what the heck a woman like that would see in him.
  • The Hallmark Channel movie Love at First Glance has a male version. It's explained that he learned to love life after encountering his own MPDG. After her tragic accident, he became a MPDB for other people.
  • The title character in May doesn't remotely fit this stereotype, but the art school bohemian Adam and May's lesbian co-worker Polly both seem to identify her as one. They shelve the movie in the Horror section, so you can gather things don't go well. Some fans, such as Rantasmo, have pegged May as a Deconstructed Character Archetype, as both Adam and Polly fetishize only May's "quirky" surface qualities and then leave her when they decide that they don't like the rest of the person that those qualities are attached to, especially once May's quirkiness turns out to be indicative of a Creepy Loner Girl more than anything. She then turns this fetishization right back on them once she starts chopping people up so that she can build a Frankenstein's Monster out of only the parts that she likes, taking Adam and Polly's affection for only parts of her and making it frighteningly literal.
  • The Marilyn Monroe Impersonator for the Michael Jackson Impersonator in Mister Lonely.
  • Little Bo Peep in Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme, a Disney Channel movie from the early 90s. Driving backwards through the patchwork landscape, she teaches the Only Sane Man in Mother Goose Land, Mother Goose's son Gordon Gander, to relax and enjoy life. He's so dull because he's incomplete. Mother Goose couldn't find a rhyme for Gordon.
  • The eponymous Mr Jones (1993) is a male deconstruction, since he has literal bipolar disorder, but does somewhat enrich the female lead's life when in his manic phase.
  • Molly in Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. Though the romantic element of their relationship is downplayed, she helps the new accountant Henry learn not to take himself too seriously, with the assistance of frequent customer, Eric.
  • Hervé Villechaize, of all people, to Tate in My Dinner with Hervé, though it ends up subverted in that Hervé turns out to be suicidally depressed, and has destroyed his own life through his irresponsible behavior. However, he still completely shakes up Tate's life, influencing him to finally move past his failed marraige, deal with an obnoxious coworker, and quit his job rather than allow his boss to negatively influence his work.
  • My Sassy Girl:
    • The trailer shows Elisha Cuthbert playing a version of this. However, instead of simply being "quirky," she is portrayed as being Ax-Crazy, in that she may very well kill the protagonist for a lark.
    • In the original Korean movie, Cuthbert-equivalent's character's "quirky antics" tend to have harmful consequences, but the protagonist falls for her anyway and she does indeed teach him to live and love. However, she definitely has issues and motivations unrelated to her man, and it turns out that she's been using him as a substitute for her dead fiancé, who was the protagonist's cousin. Things end up working out, though.
      • The original Korean movie arguably has the polar opposite moral to the classic MPDG movie. The male protagonists had been coasting through his college classes, basically being a slacker, until falling in love and realizing that real relationships were difficult, confusing, complex things actually gives him motivation to get his act together for the first time in his life. He goes from incompetent slacker to hard-working, composed, goal-oriented young man. It's about him learning to be serious rather than learning to cut loose. Furthermore, what draws him to the girl is, not her 'free spirit' — which he actually find off-putting; rather it his recognition that she is 'damaged' and a strong desire to fix her. Which is just one of several ways the film mocks gender expectations by having the male lead take the stereotypically female role. (It's usually the girl who wants to heal the wounded bad boy, after all.)
  • In The Names Of Love, straitlaced Arthur is yanked out of his boring life by the younger, free-spirited, free-loving Baya, who's so manic she occasionally forgets to put clothes on when going out of her flat.
  • The 2009 ultra-low-budget independent film New Low is a subversion — Vicky is a bigger jerk than the loser Author Avatar protagonist Wendell, while Joanna would be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl were Wendell not a complete idiot as well.
  • No Strings Attached (2011) has a gender-inverted example with Adam, the Manic Pixie Dream Guy — a goofy, romantic Mr. Fanservice, who helps cynical Go-Getter Girl Emma get over her Commitment Issues.
  • Now, Voyager offers a male example from 1942! The protagonist is a spinster who goes on a cruise after months of therapy, and the first man she meets is a charming and energetic Nice Guy who seems determined to break her out of her shell. The twist? He's married and they don't end up together - and Charlotte instead is drawn to helping his teenage daughter, who is very similar to herself. In the book it was based on, Jerry previously had a nervous breakdown similar to Charlotte's, and was drawn to her for that reason.
  • The Evangelical Christian film Old Fashioned is a subversion. Quirky, free-spirited Amber fits the trope to a T; but in the end it is the somber, self-hating Clay who shows her that relationships have responsibilities, and life is not all about the "warm and fuzzies."
  • Other Halves has a male variation in Mike, who's described as a "sexy chore listen man."
  • Two gender-flipped examples play this straight in the Mo'Nique led film Phat Girlz. Dr. Tunde and Dr. Akibo are two Nigerian men that teach the plus-sized leads to embrace their bodies and sensuality. Even to start loving themselves and changing their outlook.
  • Joan in Playing by Heart is one, but her relationship with Keenan plays out a bit more balanced than is usual for the trope. She certainly teaches him to embrace love and life again, but he's also more mature than her usual boyfriends, giving her some much-needed stability.
  • Jordan in Real Genius lives somewhere between here and Cloudcuckooland. Although she's not the primary motivator for Mitch's lightening up, she does become his love interest. Michelle Meyrink practically lived on this trope during her short career; in addition to Jordan, she played the leads in Nice Girls Don't Explode and National Lampoon's Joy of Sex plus Gilbert's love interest in Revenge of the Nerds.
  • Despite being the trope image, Princess Ann from Roman Holiday is not an example. The story revolves around her escaping her stuffy, depressing life of royalty. Joe is actually the guy who brings her on adventures around Rome.
  • The eponymous Rory O'Shea in Rory O'Shea Was Here with regards to the care home he's put into. He convinces the protagonist Michael, a man with cerebral palsy, to be rebellious and live life to the full. It's he who gets Michael out of the prison-like care home and into a nice apartment, and dies tragically at the end. Of course he's also called out for a lot of his Jerkass behaviour, and he is partially motivated out of his own self interest.
  • In Ruby Sparks, all of Calvin's written/dreamed interactions with Ruby play out like this. Once she's real, their relationship becomes a Deconstruction.
    Harry: Quirky, messy women whose problems only make them endearing are not real.
    • Zoe Kazan, the film's writer and lead actress, has said that she strongly dislikes the term and sees it as a sexist way to unfairly pigeonhole women with eccentric personalities into a simplistic archetype.
  • Ramona from the film adaptation of Scott Pilgrim, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, by way of squeezing the film into two hours (and removing quite a bit of characterisation present during the lulls of the comic). Scott still has to do a bit more work to keep her around than in most examples, though.
  • Present in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World with Penny — where she's quirky, ditzy and eventually makes the protagonist realise that he should be with her and not his old high school flame. But Penny has her own motivations in the story and spends most of it being a Shipper on Deck for Dodge and Olivia. The film ends with an asteroid crashing into the Earth, killing everyone, so it's unknown if the relationship could have lasted.
  • Played with in interesting ways in Shadowlands. While Joy Gresham takes on the narrative role of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (drawing a scholarly, reserved C. S. Lewis out of his shell, getting him to enjoy life ...and then she dies), her actual personality is more that of a Tsundere — to the intense displeasure of Lewis's friends.
  • Silver Linings Playbook offers a Reconstruction in the form of Tiffany. She inserts herself into Pat's life? It's because his parents paid her to, to help him get over his ex-wife. She seems wacky and quirky? She's got a form of either bipolar or borderline personality disorder. While the relationship does improve Pat's life, Tiffany gains just as much from it as him, and has baggage of her own - including a dead husband and a habit of being used for sex by previous lovers.
  • The first half of Something Wild seems to be all about this trope when free-spirited Lulu sweeps into the life of Charles Driggs and "kidnaps" him for a weekend of unplanned adventure. However, the movie undergoes a wild Mood Whiplash when Lulu (whose real name is Audrey Hankel) and Charles encounter her very violent ex-con ex-husband; by the end, Audrey/Lulu is as much changed by her time with Charles as Charles himself.
  • The eccentric nun Maria in The Sound of Music manages to break Captain von Trapp out of his aloof mourning after following the death of his wife and reconnect him with his children, who he'd previously been neglecting, in addition to making him realize the potential for true love still exists.
  • Stargirl: Pretty, quirky and energetic Stargirl helps more withdrawn Leo come out of his shell plus get over his dad's death.
  • Steam (2007): Niala is a wild, proudly bisexual woman who's a rebellious social activist, has partially dyed curly hair and a nose ring. She inspires the reserved, closeted lesbian Elizabeth to come out and reject her parents controlling her. It's deconstructed somewhat however as Niala also soon cheats on Elizabeth, and they part ways.
  • A Deconstructed Character Archetype in the 1969 film The Sterile Cuckoo, one of Liza Minelli's early films. Pookie fulfills all of the requirements of a MPDG, including breaking the lead character out of his shell. But towards the end of the film is revealed she is much more damaged and vulnerable than anyone has expected. She completely breaks out of the traditional mold at the ending, where she and her boyfriend break up, and she is literally Put on a Bus.
  • Ana from Stranger Than Fiction. She isn't what convinces the protagonist to start living life again, but she certainly shows him how.
  • The Summer of Sangaile: In a female/female version, Auste serves as one to Sangaile. Unlike Sangaile who's a shy, reserved girl starting out, she's bold and carefree. Her influence serves to bring Sangaile out of her shell. In fact it's deconstructed somewhat, since Auste is simultaneously much too casual about things such as Sangaile self-harming, and pushes her to fly in spite of having vertigo. Even so, she helps Sangaile overcome her issues.
  • Sunset Boulevard has an extremely dark version of this trope in the form of Norma Desmond. She turns out to be an eccentric, aging beauty queen with a shaky grip on reality who takes over the protagonist's life by using money and her own luxurious lifestyle to tighten her hold on him.
  • Norah in Sunshine Cleaning is a rare example in a queer relationship (although in the finished film, her sexuality is kept vague). She looks like she's trying to be this for Lynn — inviting her to wild parties and trying to encourage her to loosen up. But Norah herself is the one with the real baggage — as she's never got over her mother's death. Lynn also breaks things off with her before the end of the film.
  • Nelson (Keanu Reeves) meets Sara (Charlize Theron), the woman who "defies every law of nature he's ever known", in the 2001 drama Sweet November. Nelson stumbles into Sara's life and soon realizes that she lives a lifestyle of voluntarily taking men under her wing to "change their lives for the better" (MPDG for a living, if you will). So Sara asks Nelson (whose one and only concern in life is himself): "Do you want to be my November?" The rules are: no questions, no holding back, and no more and no less than ONE month.
  • In the Mexican film Te presento a Laura ("Let me introduce you to Laura") Martha Higareda plays the title character, a quirky girl who finds out she is about to die, and joins a group of optimistic misfits to embrace life to the fullest and discover ten things that would give her life meaning.
  • Skye from Then Came You is a platonic version of this character.
  • Jack from Titanic (1997) is a rare case of a male spin of this trope. Rose feels cold and alone in high society until Jack comes along and teaches her to be free-spirited and live life. Rose's narration describes him as saving her in every way a person can be saved.
  • Waitress has a Spear Counterpart. Nathan Fillion plays Keri Russell's ridiculously convenient and personality-lite bit-on-the-side, otherwise fulfilling all the typical criteria of the MPDG. Interestingly enough, the main character fulfills this trope in the lives of just about everyone around her. If you were to write a film centering on Nathan Fillion's character, or Adrienne Shelly's character, or Jeremy Sisto's character, it's exactly the role she would play (though in the last case it would be very bluntly subverted).
  • Watching the Detectives is basically about what happens when Manic Pixie Dream People get together. The main character Neil is a Manic Pixie Dream Guy who aggravates everyone with his strange antics and quirks, but then Violet comes along and out-Manic-Pixies him by taking the reckless and unusual behavior to quite troubling extremes.
  • The Way, Way Back has Owen, the owner and manager of the local water park. His Manchild attitude and lackadaisical attitude draws 14-year-old Duncan out of his shell and learn to assert himself.
  • Judy Maxwell, played by Barbra Streisand in What's Up, Doc? (1972). Her character enters the life of musicologist Howard Bannister during his trip to San Francisco, and turns his world (not to mention that of several other people) upside down when she impersonates his fiancée and leads a cast of characters on a madcap chase around the city.
  • The titular Suzie Wong from The World of Suzie Wong is a quirky Hong Kong prostitute who acts as The Muse to a lonely American artist. Although here, her quirks come from a very sad backstory, and inserting herself into Robert's life is partly motivated by financial security (she's at first hoping to become The Mistress and then poses as his regular model for his paintings). Suzie herself grows a lot throughout the story, and actually leaves Robert momentarily when he offends her.
  • Youth in Revolt features Sheeni Saunders who helps Nick Twisp (Michael Cera) be free-spirited and leads him into a psychosis.

  • Repeatedly deconstructed in John Green's books. Word of God confirms this and Green says he hates this trope played straight. He partly wrote Paper Towns to deconstruct this trope further out of concerns that he didn't do a thorough enough job of it with Looking for Alaska (which does deconstruct the trope, but in a different and arguably more abstract manner, and is primarily focused on death and suffering and how we individually figure out how to deal with their inevitable reality): that the people whom we idealize are in fact just as vulnerable, selfish, flawed, and self-destructive as anyone else, if not more so.
    • Looking for Alaska: Alaska Young is a Deconstructed Character Archetype of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl told through the lens of someone who sees her as such. Through Miles ("Pudge")'s eyes, Alaska is a goddess, but she repeatedly shows warning signs of emotional instability and a Dark and Troubled Past that he ignores due to it not fitting in with his idealized image of her. She calls him out on this, too, after an emotional meltdown at the end of Thanksgiving Break, pointing out to him that he likes the sexy Hard-Drinking Party Girl side of her and not the "crazy sullen bitch" she sees herself as. The point's only driven in further by everything that Pudge discovers in the "After" Section of the book — mainly that the self-destructive behaviors that Pudge and the others liked and encouraged in her led to her death. A principal point of the novel is that this trope is an unhealthy and unsustainable view of someone because it doesn't allow them to be a real person.
    • Paper Towns: Margo Roth Spiegelman embodies this trope, at first, having been Quentin's crush for all of his life and taking him on a pranking adventure at the beginning of the story. She's seen this way by most of the other kids at school as well, due to her frequent disappearances and similarly enigmatic behavior. Reliably, though, she's not all that she seems. The key point of the novel is Q's realization that her endearing and mysterious behavior is a façade she puts up to hide the fact that she's essentially a lonely, confused, and arguably flawed person who doesn't really know how to act normally. She puts on a Stepford Smiler front because she feels she has to — it’s what people expect of her at this point and she feels that if she doesn't act in such a zany way, people will hurt her or grow bored of her. The final part of Q's journey is understanding that she's a real person who isn't responsible for him and has her own problems and fears. He then lets her, and the dream of her, go.
      "She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl."
    • An Abundance of Katherines: Colin Singleton is a boy who, out of insecurity and an inhuman level of loneliness and neediness, idealizes all of the girls in his life, leading him to be dumped by no less than seventeen of them. At the end, he ends up together with Lindsey Lee Wells after realizing that seeking authenticity is more important than trying to come up with a complicated mathematical "theorem" to understanding and dating girls (as he had been trying to do for the majority of the story).
    • The Fault in Our Stars: Subverted with Augustus Waters, who presents himself as a Manic Pixie Dream Boy but later proves to be a normal, naive and vulnerable teenage boy. He professes his love to Hazel through contrived, rehearsed outings, complete with memorized "soliloquies" (monologues) and "metaphorically resonant" sandwiches, but the conviction of their love only feels "real" and "true" when the two of them see through the others' cracks during their trip to Amsterdam, especially after he reveals to her that he's terminally ill again.
    • Will Grayson, Will Grayson: "Tiny" Cooper is a huge, Flamboyant Gay football player who tries to become a Manic Pixie Dream Guy to Will Grayson #2. It doesn't work out.
  • Julia in Nineteen Eighty-Four is, like the rest of the book, a horrific example. Sure, her presence livens up Winston's life and exposes him to things he never dreamed of, but it's clear that their relationship is based more on rebellion against Big Brother than any actual affection and they often seem to outright hate each other. (At one point Winston casually talks about a fantasy he had of raping her.) Her impulsive, childish behaviour would be considered emotionally immature by anyone in our world, but is arguably typical of the deliberately dumbed down population of Oceania.
  • 2666: Ingeborg is a dark version of this for Hans. Everyone, including him, realizes that the girl is crazy.
  • All the Bright Places: Theodore Finch is Voilet Markey's deconstructed Manic Pixie Dream Guy. He's flirty, fun loving, and even plays guitar. But he is so miserable deep down, and she later regrets not being able to help him.
  • In Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Rosa Sax is described like this in promotional materials and is introduced in a similar manner, but otherwise doesn't act the MPDG at all.
  • Laura from American Gods reads like a Deconstructed Character Archetype. Her husband, the protagonist Shadow, thought of her as someone playful and spontaneous who brought excitement into his life. On the other hand, she was the one who convinced him to participate in the robbery that got him sent to jail for three years and cheated on him with his best friend while he was in prison. She tried to justify her affair on the grounds that, even if she did really love Shadow, there were times that he was just so empty that she needed somebody else. She plays a further deconstruction when after becoming a zombie, she helps Shadow by pretending to be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl having a Meet Cute with one of the mooks. He is shown thinking about how her spontaneity has given him a new outlook on life, and is brutally murdered by her shortly afterward.
  • Anne of Green Gables:
    • Anne has this effect on people, but not on everyone she meets, and in fact she undergoes great Character Development over her first book as she learns to become a more grounded, mature, selfless individual.
    • Furthermore, the Story Girl from The Story Girl counts, being the emotional core of her little group of friends, and constantly telling enchanting stories.
  • Barry Lyga's The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl deconstructs this trope with Kyra, whom the protagonist may or may not be romantically interested in. She initially encourages the male lead to be assertive and pursue his dreams, but she also encourages his violent fantasies. Eventually, the protagonist realizes that she is extremely depressed and possibly mentally ill.
  • Elly from The Behemoth is an interesting deconstruction: she's actually a fairly normal young woman, with her own life and aspirations, but her best friend — the lead character, Roger — sees her as something like this and develops an emotional dependence upon her as a result, despite never being able to romantically approach her.
  • Leslie from Bridge to Terabithia, full stop, though she's a little too young for a romantic relationship with Jesse. She becomes his Only Friend, encourages his creativity and helps him find some inner strength. Although in this case, she seeks him out because the other kids at school don't like her and needs a friend, and there are times where Jess has to encourage her. She was actually based on the childhood best friend of the author' son. Including her sudden and tragic death.
  • On the Quotes page is one from Isaac Asimov's The Caves of Steel describing how stoic protagonist Elijah "Lije" Baley met his wife Jessie (short for "Jezebel"). Despite Jessie's speech, the two have drifted apart by the time of the story, mostly because of Lije unwittingly demolishing his wife's self-image by trying to explain how the biblical Jezebel was a good person instead of The Vamp. The Spacer woman Gladia Delmarre from the sequel The Naked Sun also shows some elements of this trope in how she tries to show the agoraphobic Baley how to be Closer to Earth.
  • Ivy Carson from Zilpha Keatley Snyder's The Changeling 1970 is this for shy Martha Abbott. Ivy believes (or wants to) she is a pixie, or some kind of nymph or sprite, in human form. She leads Martha on adventures, getting into almost Abbott and Costello scrapes at age seven, ending in tragedy years later. Most important, she gives Martha an opportunity and environment to be herself, free of her family's expectations. Both are still alive at the end and ultimately get what they want, although it's an Esoteric Happy Ending.
  • Vianne Rocher from the novel Chocolat is this for an entire town. Zozie de l'Alba from the sequel The Lollipop Shoes, acts as one for Vianne and her daughters — quirky, attractive, bohemian, she blows into the chocolate shop and shakes up their lives, bringing magic back to their craft. Of course, she's also an identity-stealing witch who is more or less Paranoia Fuel incarnate.
  • Daisy in Henry James's story Daisy Miller is the 1900s European aristocracy's version of the girlfriend from Planet Bizarro.
  • In The Divine Comedy, Dante has lost his way in life until Beatrice comes down from Heaven to send her lover on the right track through a bizarre journey through the afterlife. The poem builds anticipation for when Beatrice lovingly reunites with Dante, only to unbuild the trope by having Beatrice coldly condemn her lover and make it clear that improving him is going to involve more harshness than manic glee.
  • Alice Somerfield of A.M. Holmes' The End of Alice is an example that might be controversial. For a twelve-year-old, she is wildly, uncomfortably sexually precocious (most likely not her fault), has an extensive and pretentious vocabulary and a manner of speech that is self-confessed as "affected," is sarcastic and beyond her years, has a knowledge of many varied and random subjects, claims to paint watercolor images on intimate places and watch them wash away in her baths, and copies famous poems onto the soles of her shoes.
  • Subverted in Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte. While her Genki Girl behavior may lead the reader to think Endo has a crush on her for that reason, his backstory segment shows it's her being thoughtful that causes it.
  • Mattie Silver in Ethan Frome. Ethan, who feels trapped in a loveless marriage to her hypochondriac cousin Zeena, comes to view her as his one chance to escape the bleakness of his life and future prospects. Unfortunately, her impulsive nature leads to their ruin: she talks him into committing suicide together rather than be forced apart, but their suicide attempt fails and leaves him barely able to walk and her unable to walk at all. Years after that failed suicide, she's shown to have lost all of her beauty and liveliness and become even crankier and more disagreeable than Zeena.
  • The Exile's Violin: Clay thinks Jacquie is one of these for him; an exciting and risk taking woman that enriches his dull and unfulfilling life, but personalitywise she's nothing like the standard. Ultimately, the trope is genderflipped because it is Clay that helps Jacquie loosen up and enjoy life, and his personality as a thrill seeking happy guy fits the standard.
  • Clarisse in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 fills this role for a short time for Guy Montag. She basically tells him so, saying "I'm seventeen and I'm crazy," and then she asks him all the questions and tells him all the random thoughts necessary to make him rethink everything about his life. And then she gets run over by a car, pointlessly.
  • The Farseer Trilogy (from the Realm of the Elderlings books) implies that Lady Patience was one to her husband Prince Chivalry in the back story of the characters. She's very eccentric and many in the royal court thought she was unsuited to be queen but Chivalry preferred this to "proper" ladies.
  • Feed (2002) is a Deconstructed Character Archetype, basically saying what if the hero didn't give up normalcy while being with the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. The girl dies at the end.
  • In Game Slaves, Dakota is a non-romantic examples for her entire team; her questions lead them to question things and search for answers.
  • Ida Maclaird in The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw is a straight example of one, if a little mild. Ida's a vague, ethereal little thing who had wild adventures in the past and in the book teaches Midas Crook, a lonely amateur photographer, to embrace life to the fullest before she dies by turning into glass. There's also Midas' mother Evaline and Ida's mother Freya as winsome muse figures who inspired two lonely, jaded academics to pine after them indefinitely, which may or may not count.
  • Libba Bray's Going Bovine has Dulcie, who is a literal Manic Pixie Dream Girl: she's a hallucination who falls in love with the hero, dragging him through America on a quest to find meaning in his life before he dies of mad cow disease (hence the title). She smashes snowglobes to free their occupants and has a sugar addiction.
  • Deconstructed in Gone Girl, as Amy goes on a rant about this trope, commenting that it's a male fantasy that women participate in to be considered attractive. She comments that she knew this was what Nick was looking for when they first met so she pretended to be "Cool Girl" for Nick, but became incensed when he didn't fulfil what she saw as his end of the bargain by being her "Cool Guy" and their marriage falls apart because neither of them can keep up the act anymore. Nick in general has an apparent habit of falling for women like this, only to resent them later when it turns out that they have their own personality flaws, owing to his inability to deal with angry women.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya zigzags this trope with the titular Haruhi herself: Kyon was fine with his life as it was, or at least thought so until the day he decided to strike up a conversation with Haruhi, not knowing (at the time) what he was getting himself into. Their meeting gave her the impetus to create the SOS Brigade. Rather than wait around for extraterrestrials, espers, and time travellers to show up, she decided they'd investigate strange happenings around their neighborhood in hopes of finding them herself, and she volunteered Kyon as her first inductee. The series goes deeper by exploring Haruhi's psyche, revealing that her eccentricity stems from her perpetual boredom. Complicated further when Koizumi explains that Haruhi unknowingly possesses the ability to reshape reality as they know it, according to her desires. And is convinced she may be the god of their universe. Despite Kyon's initial skepticism, this revelation sheds new light on his perception of Haruhi, and he eventually accepts that Koizumi may be right. He also comes to realize that he actually likes the weirdness that surrounds her and ultimately admits he prefers life with Haruhi than withoutnote .
  • A Deconstructed Character Archetype in High Fidelity: while in college Rob goes out with a girl named Charlie who he perceives to be one of these, and when she dumps him he never really gets over it. Meeting her again, years later, he realizes that she is actually a pretentious, vapid, self-important idiot whose "quirkiness" is merely to cover up that she has no personality of her own, and he was just too immature to realize this at the time.
  • Maggie Dempsey in How NOT to Be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler ends up like this, much to her annoyance. Her goal of coming off as weird and strange so that nobody would like her (and she wouldn't form attachments when she moved) had Gone Horribly Right.
  • In Hyouka, Chitanda is this to Oreki. Oreki always aims to do as little activity as possible. However, Chitanda will stare him down with wide-open eyes, tug on him, and say "I'm curious!" ("Kininarimasu!") until Oreki realises he will consume less energy by just answering her question.
  • In I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl, Beatrice is dumped by her boyfriend for a quirkier girl and tries to become a Manic Pixie Dream Girl herself to win him back. It fails and she learns An Aesop about being yourself. It's also shown that even the "quirky" girl her boyfriend ditched her for is more well-rounded than the shallow MPDG stereotype Beatrice initially saw her as.
  • Kagerou Daze:
    • Ayano tried to be this for Shintaro. It's deconstructed in that Shintaro — while genuinely (internally) grateful for her — was too self-absorbed to show affection back, while Ayano suffered through her mother's death and subsequently finding out that her father is planning to kill two of her best friends alone, which eventually results in her suicide, in an attempt to get an eye power, this in turn the primary reason that Shintaro is a Hikikomori when the story opens.
    • Ene also acts as one to Shintaro, constantly urging him to go outside. She just so happens to also be a complete troll when he pisses her off. Notably, she is also the one to sign Shintaro up for the Mekakushi-Dan when he's unconscious.
  • The eponymous Kiki Strike, but replace "soulful, brooding male hero" with "broody, ordinary schoolgirl", and take out the romance component. She's actually the Manic Pixie Dream Girl for six different girls at once, but Ananka fits the trope best, being the most "normal" girl Kiki brings in. Later subverted when it's revealed that she had ulterior motives for recruiting them in the first place and has her own problems and goals beyond the Irregulars and the Shadow City.
  • Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions!: Subverted. Initially, it seems like Rikka is the bizarre pixie girl who enters strait-laced protagonist Yuta's life to shake him up and teach him to embrace being Chuunibyou again, but as the story goes on it becomes apparent he's the one who has to help her get over her deep psychological scars.
  • Miss Rin, a mysterious and charismatic art teacher from The Magic of the Season by Sarah Bartash (published in the anthology Love is on the Wind), becomes this for the lonely teacher Nathan Fishbrook. She repeatedly teases and plays tricks on him, for instance, by incinerating his Christmas list.
  • In Mahou Shoujo The Glowing Jennifer fits this trope. She comes into Colette's life, introduces her to being a magical girl, and Helps her get over Sarah's death. They eventually enter a romantic relationship.
  • A Man Called Ove both deconstructs and then inverts the trope. Ove was the brooding boy to his wife Sonja's MPDG (though Sonja is a well-developed character and only really an MPDG in Ove's head). But then, Sonja dies, and Ove is left desperately trying to find a reason to remain in a world that has lost its meaning to him. Ironically, and humorously, Ove acts as a weird inversion, managing to enter and improve the lives of the people around him, mostly by accident. But Ove is a curmudgeonly, introverted middle-aged man, and what he brings into people's lives is not light and warmth, but rather stubborn, hard-nosed practicality.
  • Marina deconstructs the trope. The titular girl is presented as looking from the lonely protagonist's dreams, and in fact, she turns into the main source of light in his otherwise joyless and somber life, also becoming his love interest. However, at the end she dies and he is left to his darkness again with no direction to take. The subsequent Heroic BSOD is what moves him to write the story.
  • An Older Than Television example is Sally Seton from Virginia Woolf's novel Mrs. Dalloway. Sally shows up at Clarissa's ancestral home without a penny and, with her idiosyncratic behavior (smoking cigars, running naked along the hallway when she forgets the soap) and lack of concern for the judgments of others, she helps both to awaken Clarissa's bisexuality and to show her that there are possibilities outside the stuffy parameters of British upper-class society. The recipient of Sally's manic pixieness is a woman and both of them eventually settle into contented but conventional marriages and live outwardly very normal lives.
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! has a downplayed example with the title character, the "Monkey Girl" who reincarnated into Fortune Lover's Rich Bitch villainess Catarina Claes. Her personality (an off-kilter, food-loving and somewhat dense tomboy otaku) certainly qualifies for this trope, but her main focus is simply to avoid getting killed or exiled as per the original game. However, since the original Catarina was a selfish brat, "Monkey Catarina" showing basic human decency and kindness to those around her is really all it takes to improve their lives. For example, in the game Catarina's adoptive brother Keith is a shallow playboy because she and her mother treated him like crap, but because "Monkey Catarina" always wanted a little brother, she showers him with love and attention which results in his growing into an upstanding young man (albeit with a sister complex).
  • Arthur Bechstein, in Michael Chabon's The Mysteries of Pittsburgh has two Manic Pixie Dream Individuals: a girl named Phlox and a guy named Arthur Lecomte. The two of them are constantly at odds with each other, something not helped by Art being head over heels for the both of them.
  • Nadja in Andre Breton's Nadja takes this to, and maybe a little bit past its Logical Extreme — Nadja is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl to the point that reality warps around her, and she goes on tirades that would be markers of straight-up insanity if you weren't reading the work of a surrealist.
  • Night World:
    • Poppy North is very much so for the more reserved James Rasmussen (she's even compared to a pixie or elf in appearance). She's a cheerful, excitable Genki Girl who even tries to stay positive when she finds out she dying and her only chance of survival is becoming a vampire (which is where James comes in). She's a rare example of this who is actually the main protagonist and has her own story arc and Character Development beyond her relationship with the love interest.
    • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire Jade Redfern has shades of this, especially when interacting with Mark Carter. She's lived most of her life on a socially and technologically backwards enclave, so she's rather naive about the outside world, yet shows the upmost enthusiam for everything and anything new she encounters. Mark literally states at one point he doesn't care if she's crazy, because "I think I love her", and he becomes a lot less reserved and uptight after meeting her.
  • Midori from Haruki Murakami's novel Norwegian Wood fits this role quite well. The first time she and Toru kiss, they are sitting on her roof, watching a neighborhood fire. Constantly hyper-energetic and quirky, she has no hesitation in revealing her constant sexual fantasies to Toru, who is much more distant and reserved with his inner thoughts. However, Midori does have some psychological issues of her own, particularly her relationship with her strict and distant parents and calls Toru out towards the end of the book for stringing her along while he pines over Naoko.
  • Nyarlathotep (please, call her Nyarko) from Nyaruko: Crawling with Love! fits that second paragraph at the top of the page like she was poured into it. In fact, it actually works to her disadvantage, as her manic nature (including lying to people about their nonexistent sex life and impending firstborn) actually puts off her love interest Mahiro, who's said that he has a hard time believing her confessions of love and has admitted to himself that he'd like her better if she could take it down a few notchesnote . In fact, the few times Nyarko has toned herself down and acted demure, even Mahiro is surprised at how attractive he finds her.
  • The one the protagonist encounters in Okuyyuki is a somewhat unusual example. For one thing, she is a minor Japanese goddess whose "ghost" inhabits a magical sword; for another, she is a Blood Knight who urges him to make truth of his dream of death or glory on the battlefield.
  • Grace in Our Chemical Hearts initially seems like a straight example to Henry, so much that the trope is name-checked by his Gay Best Friend Lola. She wears oversized boy's clothes, has a noticeable limp and walks with a crutch, and introduces Henry, who never thought he'd actually fall in love, to fun extracurricular pastimes such and breaking and entering. As the story progresses, however, it becomes clear she's actually a very dark Deconstruction, and a big part of Henry's character arc is realizing their relationship is actually utterly toxic on both their ends. For her, it turns out she's still in love with her dead boyfriend, who she'd been with since age nine and who died in a car accident she inadvertently caused, and has inserted herself into his life to groom him into a Replacement Goldfish (due to, we discover toward the end, the dead guy's middle name being "Henry"). For him, he sees her as less of a person and more of a pet project that he hopes to turn into his ideal girlfriend, at one point comparing her to a kind of Japanese art made of pieces of broken ceramics, which offends her. The story ends with them deciding they're Better as Friends, and a lot more mentally healthy too.
  • Sam from The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a sort of blander interpretation of this trope, probably to balance out the socially awkward recipient of her mania, Charlie.
  • The Culture novel The Player of Games has a character, Yay, who is a love interest of the protagonist and has a markedly playful personality. She's something of a subversion, in that her Manic Pixie Dream Girl personality makes her a better fit for the hedonism of the Culture than does the protagonist's discomfort with a life without challenges.
  • Bella Baxter in Alasdair Grey's Poor Things, whose carefree childlike manner mesmerizes a number of men. It's a disturbing example, because she has the brain of a child implanted into the body of a woman. Or maybe not.
  • REAL double-subverts the trope with Likaï: they use a blue-skinned woman as an avatar for the first half of the novel, befriend REAL-addict protagonist Neru, introduce him to the more realistic aspects of The Metaverse, and Neru is quick to fall in love. But then Likaï steals Neru's account to enter a prestigious tournament in his place. Neru spends the rest of the novel trying to find out Likaï's true motivations and whether or not it was all a lie.
  • Reign of the Seven Spellblades: Fau in volume 8. Despite being literally dead for most of the story, with The Grim Reaper waiting in the wings to kill her Deader than Dead if she ever leaves her coffin, she's a sweet and cheerful girl who loves to tease Cyrus Rivermoore, the necromancer who's spent the better part of a decade working to resurrect her, whom she wishes would lighten up and comes off as Comically Serious in her presence.
  • Isaac Asimov's Satisfaction Guaranteed: Claire Belmont is an introverted Shrinking Violet whose life is changed by Tony. She spends three weeks with him helping around the house. He encourages her to dress differently, and learns how to be a beautician and home decor designer on her behalf. By the time the trial period is over, she's become a young socialite. Her own husband is amazed at the transformation Tony provides.
  • The Secret Garden: Dickon serves as a male version of this for both Mary and Colin. Until he shows up, his sister Martha is a good Manic Pixie Dream Girl for Mary.
  • Shimoneta: Life was normal for Tanukichi, until his fateful encounter with Blue Snow, who saves him from the Public Decency Squad at the railway station. Later that morning, he learns she's really Ayame Kajou, the vice-president of Tokioka Academy's student council. The incident at the station and his status as Zenjoru Oukuma's son inspires her to create SOX. Guess who she drafts as her first recruit?
  • Holly tries to enact this role for Phil in Snyper, saying he's a grumble bear who needs to lighten up. What she doesn't understand is that he's actually more reckless and impulsive than she is, which leads to Phil ending their relationship by shooting her in the head with one of his anti-love bullets.
  • Fenchurch in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, although, really, she's probably the only woman on Earth weird enough to fall in love with Arthur Dent. And then she vanishes into an error in space-time.
  • The wildling free woman Ygritte is this for the rigid, honor-bound Jon Snow (who knows nothing) in A Song of Ice and Fire. He ultimately chooses his honor over his love for her and returns to the Night's Watch; like so much else in the series, it doesn't end well, although his black-and-white sense of right and wrong does seem to have gained a little more nuance from the experience.
  • The title character of the Jerry Spinelli book Stargirl worked her magic on an entire high school. That also makes her a Blithe Spirit. Stargirl was interesting because her manic pixie behavior didn't make the main character more popular or comfortable around other people, and clashed with his desire for normalcy. Things didn't work out.
  • The novel Steppenwolf has Hermine, who not only gets the protagonist to enjoy life more, but actually saves him from killing himself.
  • Colleen Minou in Ron Koertge's Stoner and Spaz. However, while Colleen helps Ben, Ben is unable to help Colleen and she ends up back on drugs.
  • According to one interpretation, Miranda from Hilaire Belloc's poem "Tarantella" can be an example of this: a wild woman who falls for the protagonist and gives meaning to his life; so much, in fact, that later when she's gone, his life is devoid of meaning, and he probably commits suicide.
  • Marion Kirby in Topper and Topper Takes a Trip by Thorne Smith as she drags Cosmo Topper out of his staid banker's existence. However, it is a subversion as Marion is a ghost and acts in concert with her husband George (who died in the same traffic accident) and various other ghosts. In the movie version Cary Grant played George Kirby in Topper (1937), but was written out of its two sequels.
    • Quite a few Thorne Smith novels have at least one Manic Pixie Dream Girl strewing chaos in her wake, although in a number of occasions closer examination reveals they are in fact subversions or aversions (Turnabout for instance generates its comedy from having a quarreling husband and wife being put into each other's bodies by an exasperated god).
      • In The Stray Lamb, T. Lawrence Lamb's life is thrown out of kilter by a mysterious little man magically turning him into various animals, which enables him to approach the object of his affections and to rid himself of his adulterous wife.
      • The sprite Megaera in The Night Lift of the Gods enables Hunter Hawk to enjoy life, but the end is bittersweet as he now no longer fits into the world and the two lovers turn themselves into stone, effectively becoming united in death.
      • Josephine Duval in The Bishop's Jaegers play the trope fairly straight.
      • In The Passionate Witch (on which the movie I Married a Witch is based), the titular character turns out to be the villain of the story. But that novel, Thorne Smith's last, was left unfinished and was completed by another writer.
      • Honor "Satin" Knightly in Rain in the Doorway.
  • Jenny from The Truth of Rock And Roll has some elements of this, though she also has her dark moments and her own character arc. Also, the protagonist is the one who sought her out.
  • In the The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign, the MPDG is an evil Eldritch Abomination who thinks nothing of killing people to get her love interest's attention. Kyousuke is genuinely offended (not in the cute, insincere sort of way) by her behaviour, not least because she completely ignores his trauma and her part in causing it. They eventually find a compromise and get back together, but she has to grow a conscience before they can do so...and he also has to stop blaming her for not being depressed by his problems.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's The Fall of Númenor: Tar-Vanimeldë, Queen of Númenor, was more interested in dancing and playing music than actually, you know, governing the most powerful nation on Middle-Earth, so she left all the boring, practical day-to-day stuff to her consort, Herucalmo. Since the Tale is Unfinished, it's not really clear what Tolkien meant for Tar-Vanimeldë, but she fits many of the requirements, at least by Middle-Earth standards. Possibly a Deconstructed Character Archetype, since it seems Herucalmo was not okay with this: when the Queen died, he finally got sick of being the stable, modest, supportive guy and usurped the throne for himself.
  • Older Than Print, thanks to the La Vita Nuova. Beatrice is the most loving, humble, and beautiful woman in the world, so Dante dedicates his whole life to her despite talking to her once before her death. We don't hear much from her or learn what she does with her life and instead only learn about her through her affects on the male lead.
  • Exploited in Welcome to the NHK with Misaki, who gloms onto the main characters because she needs to have the company of people she considers even more pathetic than herself.
  • Stefanie in The Word and the Void is an interesting Deconstructed Character Archetype. She believes life should be lived to its fullest. She's in love with John Ross, for real. However, she's also a demon, and her idea of teaching him to be interesting is teaching him to forget about morality and live for his own power, including, but not limited to, eating homeless people.
  • In Philip K. Dick's short story "The World She Wanted", the protagonist is swept along in the wake of a young and beautiful woman who introduces herself by announcing that the two of them are getting married. Subverted in that she annoys the hell out of him and he rejects her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In 21 Jump Street there's an episode featuring a girl named Quincy, who sort of positions herself as this, dragging the straitlaced Hanson around and trying to convince him to "lighten up". Of course, her idea of fun is crime sprees and potentially fatal thrill-seeking. She terrifies him, and ends up shot to death by security guards while robbing a house.
  • 30 Rock: Parodied by Jennifer Aniston's character in the episode "The One with the Cast of Night Court," where she ensnares powerful men like Jack Donaghy and, um, Scottie Pippen with her antics (designing bizarre hats, breaking into houses while wearing French maid outfits, singing inappropriately sexy renditions of "Happy Birthday to You", and frequently and emphatically "riding the F Train"). Everyone not currently sexing her up finds her completely insufferable. And she's crazy. Like, steal a cop's gun crazy. It's indicated that instead of making them happier, she destroys their lives before moving on.
  • Arrested Development:
    • Subverted when Michael meets a quirky British woman whom he believes is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl but is actually mentally disabled. Her accent sounds so intelligent to Michael that he believes she voluntarily acts like a carefree six-year-old.
    • Maeby also serves as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl to George Michael to some extent, though played for laughs as GM is unbelievably straitlaced, and Maeby's actions go well beyond "quirky" and straight into "likely criminal." That and the fact that Maeby is kind of his cousin. Maybe.
  • Baskets: Trinity seems like a MPDG at first; a sexy, alternative young woman who takes Chip under her wing when he joins a clique of fellow hoboes in Season 2. It quickly gets subverted when she turns out to be a bit of a neurotic mess (getting upset when he upstages her in their clown act), and she quits the group after making a failed pass at him. They reconnect later, and Chip ends up helping Trinity get her life in order and introduces her to her future husband.
  • In Season 2 of Breaking Bad Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) meets a low-key MPDG in the form of Jane (Krysten Ritter), a tattoo artist with a serious drug history. She's considerably more subdued and less manic than most examples, and she encourages him to cut back on the drugs in addition to getting him to embrace art. Then she demonstrates the dark side of this trope when she backslides on her own sobriety, gets Jesse into harder drugs (and given that he started out as a methhead, that's saying something), and ultimately reveals herself (at least while using) to be greedy, manipulative, and self-destructive. Then she dies of an overdose.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • There are elements of this in Jenny Calendar. While more serious and settled than most, she certainly has a wild and playful side that shakes up the stuffy Giles (particularly in season one, before his dark past added a level in badass to him). However, their relationship ends for good when her own dark past is revealed - she's part of the tribe that cursed Angel with a soul and has been posing as a teacher to keep watch on him.
    • Drusilla is a villainous example. This is subverted when the reason for her Cloud Cuckoo Lander personality is revealed: she was driven to insanity after Angelus killed her family and inflicted every mental torture he could think of onto her before turning her into a vampire.
  • Castle:
    • A Deconstructed Character Archetype features with Meredith, Castle's first wife and Alexis's mother. While Castle and Alexis are clearly fond of Meredith, they both find her exhausting to be around for a longer period of time, and she's especially shown to not be a very responsible parent to Alexis. Castle describes her as a "deep-fried twinkie" — tastes great, but really bad for you.
    • Castle himself begins the show claiming to be a Manic Pixie Dream Boy to Kate Beckett. (This is interesting considering the fact that Beckett herself serves as the related trope of The Muse to Castle.) Like most MPDBs he gets plenty of Character Development over time, and it's more that than his "fun" that wins Kate over. Though even before that, his jokes often amuse Kate just enough for her to banter back for a moment, and she usually gives better than she gets.
  • Parodied in an episode of Charmed (2018) appropriately named "Manic Pixie Nightmare". A film student manipulates an actual pixie into killing the other white male students in his class, believing that due to affirmative action only one white male student would get selected for a film seminar.
  • Community:
    • Abed Nadir is a male version and a Deconstructed Character Archetype. He brings out the geekiness and creativity in his friends (and is described as "a magical, elf-like man who makes us all more magical by being near us"), but his antics can be wildly exhausting and irresponsible, and his odd outlook on life can be attributed to being neurodivergent. Possibly intentionally, as he's shown to be remarkably trope-savvy.
      "If this were a movie, what would the hero do? Abed: He'd run after her and make a fantastic display of affection!"
    • The episode "Herstory of Dance" gives Abed a possible love interest in Kat, a girl who rides a scooter, plays with a bubble-blower, plays the saw in an all-girl Kazoo band and brings waterwings to a school dance. Annie tried to set them up, but others in the group were disturbed by her over-the-top child-like behaviour. The same episode introduces minor recurring character Rachel (played by Brie Larson) who has her own quirks and jumps at the chance for some playful shenanigans but her personality aligns with Abed in a more natural way.
  • Crashing (US): Kat is a subversion. She's a wild and free-spirited woman who helps break the mild-mannered Pete out of his shell a bit, but after several months of relationship, they ultimately prove incompatible with each other and have an ugly break-up.
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend:
    • Deconstructed. The MPDG is the protagonist who tries to act like one. Her attempts to win over Josh with her cute, slightly stalkery ways lead to widespread emotional destruction (though Josh admits in a later season that, despite it all, she really did push him to seek more from his life), and eventually lead to her going full Psycho Ex-Girlfriend and then attempting suicide, ultimately being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.
    • This trope is referenced in relation to Nathaniel in "He's The New Guy", where she entreats her coworkers not to trust that their Bad Boss has a heart of gold just because some 'quirky girl' dated him for a while. But while the trope is still deconstructed in terms of their relationship (she tries to break up with him because being in love tends to trigger her unhealthy tendencies, which actually happens when she ends up stalking his father in an attempt to make him happy), it's also reconstructed - her being borderline doesn't make her unworthy of love or incapable of bringing people happiness, and she really does manage to tear down some of his emotional walls and bring some joy to his life. This trope is also referenced by Rebecca herself in "He's The New Guy" when arguing that Nathaniel is a Jerk with a Heart of Jerk:
      He's the new guy, not easily reformed by some quirky girl that he met at work!
  • Dash & Lily: The premise of a brooding boy taking up the challenge of having fun posed to him by an overly optimistic and sweet girl is clearly a reference to the trope. Beyond the first episode though the series shows very clearly that the girl in questions is not nearly as two-dimensional as the trope typically includes, and she expresses frustration with being expected to be upbeat all the time.
  • Lola in Degrassi: Next Class certainly looks and acts the part. Wild hair, exuberant child-like nature, occasional lapses in reality or common sense. Being cute and bubbly to both dour mourning boys and her far more straight laced friends. To the point where her friends treat her like she's a played straight version of this trope. The problem is Lola gets pregnant, from having sex with mourning heartthrob Miles. When she needs anyone to take her seriously and be on her side, go with her to the women's clinic... they all treat her like she's just being needy and childish. Ouch.
  • Subverted on Dexter. Lila initially seems to have all the personality traits of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and she latches onto Dexter, the main character, a forensic scientist who also happens to be an emotionless serial killer (who only kills people who really deserve it). As the series goes on, though, she starts showing the dark side of mania: her antics go from amusing to dangerous, and she stops being charming and starts being scary.
    Dexter: You are more dangerous than my addiction will ever be. And that's saying a lot.
  • Dharma & Greg, a sitcom that pits quirky "nonconformist" Dharma up with strait-laced bore-fest Greg. Early on Dharma fits the trope, but as with most characters in a successful, long running show Character Development sets in and she eventually becomes a more complex, well rounded individual with her own wants and desires. There are even some episodes that invert it, with Greg helping her realize that her "quirky" methods are not always for the best. A big part of the show is that while she's this to Greg she's actually the grounded and sane one in her family and circle of friends.
  • Doctor Who:
    • At one point, the First Doctor has ended two stories abnormally unhappily — turning an entire planet into a wasteland, committing a genocide against every Dalek there, and watching two of his companions get Killed Off for Real at the end of "The Daleks' Master Plan"; and deliberately deciding not to help prevent thousands of innocent people from being slaughtered by religious maniacs at the end of "The Massacre". This got too much for his companion Steven, who said Screw This, I'm Outta Here, leading to the Doctor having his first major Angst scene in the canon — Thinking Out Loud to the empty TARDIS about how he knows that to Shoot the Dog is the right thing to do and how incredibly lonely he feels. This is interrupted by the particularly loopy companion Dodo bursting in through the doors (in the hope of finding a police telephone) and being incredibly adventure-hungry and perky until his heart melts and he decides to take her travelling. Dodo was one of the least developed companions in the classic series.
    • Clara Oswald takes this role in Season 7, a very cute and feminine woman who provides the Doctor with a mystery that drags him back into adventuring. Deconstructed as while her own character remains relatively undeveloped through the season, as it progresses the Doctor's obsession with her becomes increasingly one-sided and unhealthy, such as in the scene at the end of "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" in which he begs her to tell him if she's a trick or a trap. It turns out that Clara is actually just a normal girl, although one brave enough to save the Doctor by manipulating his own timeline. In Season 8 her dynamic with the Doctor drastically changes out of this archetype and she gets an awful lot more character development into the bargain, although he still weaponises her Manic Pixie and Morality Pet traits in "Kill the Moon".
    • In an interview at the back of the Free Comic Book Day 2015 special issue of Titan's Doctor Who comic, writer Paul Cornell describes the Tenth Doctor (possibly the Eleventh too) as a "manic pixie dream Doctor" in comparison to the Twelfth. Then in Doctor Who: Four Doctors, Cornell has Twelfth himself call his past selves that.
    • There are many times the TARDIS ends up being this. She takes the Doctor where they need to go and tries to cheer them up when they are broody. However, this trope is played literally in "The Doctor's Wife."
  • Irene/Moriarty in Elementary is a Deconstructed Character Archetype. First introduced as attractive, optimistic, artsy and quirky who showed a brighter side of life to Holmes. Then we find out she was faking it, deliberately constructing her false persona to fool Holmes and distract him from her plans.
  • LeeLee, in the fourth season of The Expanse, is a deconstruction of the trope. Cute, petite girl with a bob haircut, who is introduced as Bobbie Draper's nephew's girlfriend, but turns out to actually be leading him into a life of crime, using his chemical knowledge to make drugs. On The Expanse podcast "The Churn", she's been called a Manic Pixie Crime Girl.
  • Frasier had one of these in the form of a Girl of the Week, Caitlin the quirky artist, but the trope was subverted by having their relationship not work out because they shared no similarities — just very hot sex.
  • Emily Waltham, Ross's girlfriend from Friends had shades of this trope and this kind of effect on Ross. They spontaneously went to Vermont and enthusiastically watched animals and enjoyed the autumn there, he played rugby because of her, she made him pierce his ear and enroll in helicopter lessons. Though he says she won't be around for long enough for him to actually frequent the lessons.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Ygritte is this for Jon. She's boisterous and daring, and repeatedly teases Jon for his naivety. Jon was a virgin and sworn to celibacy, but Ygritte pursued in anyway and finally seduced him. Most often she tells him he "knows nothing", yet ironically she mistook a windmill for a castle because she had never seen either. Through Jon's time with Ygritte he is able to experience the real world and learn vital lessons that aid his rise to power later. Ygritte is a dark subversion because their relationship ends in tragedy.
    • Margaery is this for both Sansa and Joffrey, and later Tommen. When she comes to King's Landing, her quirky sense of humour and endless kindness helps Sansa gain some measure of happiness during her time as the Lannisters' royal hostage, while her 'quirky' interest in charity baffles Joffrey and keeps his attention. This is deliberately invoked on her part, as Margaery has no real interest in Joffrey, and is disturbed by his sociopathy and cruelty, but she plays along all so she can seduce him and become queen. When her grandmother has Joffrey killed to protect Margaery, she immediately switches to pulling this for Tommen, which unfortunately leads to his mother having Margaery killed and Tommen is Driven to Suicide in grief.
  • Gilmore Girls:
    • Lorelai Gilmore, a thirty-something gorgeous woman who is quirky and fan of TV and films and little pleasures in life. She lives in a Quirky Town and compared to some of its Cloud Cuckoo Landers, she's relatively normal. As if to hammer the point home, her Establishing Character Music is "There She Goes" by The La's.
    • Rory can have this effect on guys she dates, mostly making them to enjoy literature and dragging them to her home and introducing them to her slightly crazy but cute mum.
    • Kirk describes his girlfriend Lulu as Manic Pixie Dream Girl — a woman who made him enjoy his life to its fullest. She's a teacher and when seen in person, she's not actually very quirky or crazy.
    • Luke's flighty, impulsive ex-girlfriend Rachel who broke up with him because she could never possibly commit.
  • Deconstructed and POV-flipped in Girls — the fact that Jessa is a carefree (read: irresponsible), spontaneous (impulsive), free-spirited (rudderless) social butterfly (unreliable flake) leads every guy she so much as looks at to see her as one of these. She complains about this at times, but at others is perfectly happy to exploit it for a fling. When her Fourth-Date Marriage to a venture capitalist starts going sour, she points out that his relationship with her is probably the most spontaneous thing he's ever done, whereas "I've been living this life for 25 years".
  • Glee:
    • Holly Holiday is a quirky, sexy, fun-loving, restlessly spontaneous substitute teacher. Through his platonic and then romantic relationship with her, Will learns how to let loose and live a little. However, she admits that she's a mess, and incapable of any kind of commitment.
    • Blaine Anderson was originally a male, gay version of this trope for Kurt, even though Kurt himself has some characteristics typical to this trope. However, until he got himself some Character Development in later seasons, he was originally presented as a love interest for Kurt, and nothing more. While Blaine spent a lot of time trying to pull Kurt out of his shell and come to terms with his sexuality, he didn't have any ambitions or goals of his own.
  • House has a bizarre example in Wilson's relationship with Amber, who unlike most examples, has the personality of a Manipulative Bitch. Her relationship with Wilson mainly has the effect of trying to get him to be more assertive and less of an Extreme Doormat, without having any character development of her own.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • An interesting double sided case seems to occur when the eponymous Mother appears to approach this character trope but at the same time Ted Mosby is also this for her. She is effectively portrayed as Ted's dream girl, having quirks such as painting pictures of robots, singing show tunes while making breakfast, playing bass guitar in a band and helping pull Ted out of one of the darkest times in his life. Season 9 reveals more quirks such as owning a pair of driving gloves and wanting to see weird stuff on roadside, just like Ted. She also helps pull Ted out of a rather dark time in his life as Robin marries Barney, when Ted always felt that she should be with him. Most of Ted's quirks are similarly appealing to her. She genuinely laughs at his shellfish-selfish joke and gets why he would call a bar Puzzles — that's the puzzle. Ted also pulls her out of an even darker place as she hadn't gotten over the death of her first love Max eight years earlier.
    • Apparently, Victoria also qualifies since she was supposed to be the Mother if the show hadn't continued. Her Establishing Character Moment was playfully coming up with fun ideas during a wedding such as stealing the bride's bouquet, doing cartwheels etc. Unfortunately, her relationship with Ted didn't last after she went to Germany and Ted tried to two-time with her and Robin which led to their break-up.
  • Jeannie is one of these to Maj. Nelson in I Dream of Jeannie.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Nico Saiba is a rare negative example. Even though she is cheerful and immature, it's not endearing and her real objective is goading Taiga Hanaya into antagonizing Emu Hojo.
    • She eventually outgrows this, starting with toning down her obnoxious behavior, dropping most of her grudge against Emu and taking nicer approach towards Taiga. Her most important step out of MPDG territory comes in #27, when she becomes Rider Player Nico so she could complete Kamen Rider Chronicle and save the players who had Game Over. It doesn't not change her being a negative example. Her intentions have a good side to them and are somewhat justified, but they still cause some grand chaos. note  Things get better after it's sorted out, though.
  • The Last Man on Earth: Carol (Kristen Schaal) has all the markings of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but her natural pairing Phil (Will Forte) doesn't seem all that taken by her manic energy for the most part, only reluctantly coupling up with her as no one else appears to be able to stand him. On the other hand, Phil 2.0 (Boris Kodjoe) falls head over heels for Carol, so the trope still stands.
  • Kathleen Scott on the miniseries The Last Place on Earth (about the race between Scot and Amundson to the South Pole) is a downplayed version of this and her husband Robert specifically compliments her on it, and notes that he wishes he wasn't too grumpy to be like her. She is a great traveller (for an Edwardian woman), artist, and party girl, wishes she could go with Robert, and tells him in effect, "Be a badass and give me a badass son as well."
  • A Deconstructed Character Archetype in Louie with Parker Posey's character Liz, whom Louie takes on a date. She's cute, smart, vivacious, eccentric and irreverent, spending their entire date suggesting adventurous things to do and repeatedly trying to push Louie out of his shell. However, there are frequent hints that she's a bi-polar alcoholic and pathological liar.
  • The L Word has a lesbian take on this trope — Tasha, the tough, quiet, Token Wholesome military officer enters a relationship with Alice, the quirky Motor Mouth radio persona who Really Gets Around. Alice helps Tasha come out of her shell, and supports her as she deals with the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy in the military.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • Winchester falls for a woman like this. She brings so much life into his existence. They're all set to make a go of it when she lets out that she's not a strong believer in marriage (and that her previous lover, of whom she talks in glowing terms, was never married to her). Winchester loses a chance at love, and not because his family would disapprove — though that's a consideration for him — but because he can't bring himself to accept this aspect of hers.
    • B. J. gets one too. In the end he lets her go, partly because at the end of the day he still loves his wife too much to seriously think of leaving her and partly because he didn't want the war to dictate his life any more than it already did — leaving his wife and kid for a woman he met on the frontline would mean he could never leave the horrors he'd known there behind him.
  • A Deconstructed Character Archetype appears in season 4 of Misfits. Lola at first appears to be a bit of a MPDG but it is later revealed that she is caught in some endless cycle of making men fall for her and kill off each other. Which is much more Femme Fatal. It also turns out she had been an actress practicing a role when the storm came, and the storm had made her become that character.
  • Subverted in the Modern Love episode "Take Me As I Am, Whatever I Am". The bipolar Lexi meets Jeff during a high, and he describes her as like a breath of fresh air to his otherwise boring life. However, this relationship deteriorates quickly because he isn't aware of her disorder.
  • Mr. Robot, has Darlene, an attractive, tomboyish, quirky hacker girl with heart shaped glasses and a big attitude, comes into our dour, depressive protagonist Elliot's life like a whirlwind, takes a significant interest in him to the point she starts showing up at his apartment unannounced, having No Sense of Personal Space there and then tells Elliot she "loves him so much". After that he kisses her, which is the moment Elliot and the audience is let into the fact that she's actually his Annoying Younger Sibling, with his mental health issues wiping out his memory of her from before the series starts.
  • Fran Fine from The Nanny is an upbeat and exuberant Jewish working class woman, who brings a much needed new spirit into the entire household of her more uptight widowed British employer, Maxwell Sheffield. Fran is the protagonist though, so she's a more well-developed character than the more negative examples of the trope. And even though Maxwell is attracted to her already from early on, he has huge commitment issues and needs almost five years to finally propose marriage to Fran.
  • Referred to by name by Deeks in the NCIS: Los Angeles episode "The Fifth Man", though not only is her behavior explained as Asperger's Syndrome, it's a bit of a twist on the usual application of the trope in that the man whose life she inserted herself into is not her love interest but her deadbeat dad, following the death of her mother.
  • Jessica Day in New Girl, played by actress Zooey Deschanel, takes this to the extreme. Deconstructed as Jessica's life is a mess, as opposed to the guys she rooms with. Eventually the show reveals that they are all just as crazy as she is, but in different ways.
    • In a way, the show’s premise is the life of a MPDG when she’s not currently inspiring a protagonist to live a fuller life. Everything about Jess matches the trope…except there isn’t an obvious male counterpart at first—all the men she moves in with react to her personality more with mild bemusement than intense attraction.
  • Gender-flipped, played with, and ultimately subverted in No Tomorrow. Xavier has no job and spends all his time coming up with wacky stuff he wants to do and encourages Evie to do the same...not because of his own personality, but because he believes an asteroid will wipe out humanity in less than a year so he might as well just do whatever he wants with his remaining time. Evie has fun with it for a while, but when she waffles on quitting her job, Xavier steals her phone and sends a profane text to her boss saying she quits. Evie wastes no time telling him how far over the line it was, and he quickly agrees to never do anything like it again, enabling them to remain on good terms.
  • Perception (2012): Natalie Vincent is an interesting Deconstructed Character Archetype. She is hardly impulsive or spontaneous, and her male counterpart certainly is, but like any self-respecting MPDG she is there to serve Daniel's needs. As a total figment of Daniel's imagination Natalie's life revolves around him, but she is there to be a friend, an intellectual equal, and to give Daniel a grounded perspective to contrast his wild, often irrational ideas. Though her entire existence is a male fantasy, he loves her to the point of recklessness for his own well-being.
  • A truly unusual example comes from Root in Person of Interest, with much more depth and with two different relationships. She serves as a platonic version of this to Finch, trying to improve his relationship with The Machine, and willing to do anything to protect him. She also has this dynamic with her love interest, Shaw, in which Root tries to bring Shaw out of her emotionless shell. Though unlike most love interest examples, Shaw is actually something of a sociopath, who has extreme difficulty having emotions for others. Root also has something of a Violently Protective Girlfriend dynamic with both as well.
  • Chuck does fulfill this role for Ned in Pushing Daisies, but she has plenty of her own characterisation.
  • Subverted with Julie in Scrubs. She's introduced as a perfect match for JD, equally as quirky and fun-loving - while also encouraging him to do things like buying a half-acre of land. But they end up breaking up because she's not ready for a serious relationship.
  • Ovejita from Sesame Street is probably a Manic Pixie Dream Sheep. She is always bopping Murray and dragging him off to various schools. However this could be a subversion, as Murray has always been just as energetic as Ovejita is.
  • Carrie on Sex and the City dates a male version for a while. Raymond is a charming, upbeat jazz musician, but Carrie eventually learns that he can't focus on anything for very long (as if he had a form of ADHD) and doesn't have much depth beyond his love of music.
  • Shameless (US) : Monica, the matriarch of the Gallagher clan, is a very, very dark version of the MPDG. Frank claims she introduced him to coke and other drugs, and it's implied that he may have gone to college if his addictions hadn't caught up to him. They fight more than they have sex, and they have sex most of the time. She is also bipolar, prone to sleeping in crackhouses and storage lockers, and Lip says she can find her way in and press "The one nerve that no one else can." She's played to perfection by Chloe Webb, but dealing with someone like her in real life would be exhausting.
  • Skins:
    • Cassie Ainsworth is a Deconstructed Character Archetype, since she has multiple legitimate psychological problems and they're portrayed with all the seriousness they require. She doesn't exist solely as a love interest for Sid, but whenever the story is focusing on him this is clearly how he sees her. She's quite self-serving at times, and it's debatable whether she ultimately changes his life for the better. She makes him blissfully happy at times, and utterly miserable at others. A relationship with someone so mentally unstable they try to commit suicide when you cancel a date was never going to run entirely smoothly. In her Season 7 episode, Pure, she has completely changed and now rejects this trope. Cassie is no longer the wild, carefree pill popping girl she one was and has now depressingly matured into a young lonely woman who rarely socialises. She has seemingly outgrown this trope and realised being a 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' in the real world can never work.
    • In season 6, a lovelorn Alo meets a sweet, bubbly girl named Poppy Champion who pulls him out of his depression with her quirky and adorable ways. That is, until she reveals that she's really thirteen years old, and she reports him to the police when he tries to dump her.
  • On Smallville, a certain miss Lois Lane fulfills this function. She arrives at the beginning of Season 4. By the end of Season 3, the characters had all gotten caught up in a Darker and Edgier web of lies created by Lionel Luthor, Chloe's life was full of fear and angst, and our hero Clark had become brooding and ultra-serious, and then Chloe's cousin Lois shows up in town and turns Clark's, Chloe's, and the Kents' lives upside down for the better. Many critics argued that Lois's introduction brought a much-needed breath of fresh air to the show, as her infectious energy and charisma, Bond One Liners, and hard-partying ways enlivened the show's dynamic. Lois quickly became a fan-favorite (well, except for the Die for Our Ship people) character, and her original 4-episode run on the show was expanded, and she became a regular character the following season.
  • Vala Mal Doran tries to be this for Daniel Jackson from Stargate SG-1. When she's not trying to steal stuff like gold and valuables anyway. Their relationship could be read as an inversion, since Daniel makes more progress calming Vala down and pushing her into being a more responsible person than she does spicing up his existence.
  • Ted Lasso is a gender-flipped and non-romantic example (so far). An American college football coach hired to manage a British Premier League team, Ted's Americanisms, relentless positivity and Hidden Depths slowly win over and transform his new colleagues — particularly Rebecca, the team owner and series' Deuteragonist who is recovering from a bitter and public divorce and wants Ted to ruin the team that her ex-husband dearly loved.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles:
    • Subverted with Riley, who's actually from the future, having a mental breakdown from culture shock, and is under orders to act as one of these to John, ostensibly in order to reduce Cameron's influence on him, but actually so that Cameron will kill her, accomplishing the same goal more effectively.
  • Trinkets: Subverted. Elodie's exotic new girlfriend Sabine is free-spirited, outgoing and definitely far more experienced sexually, but it doesn't work out as they're too different.
  • Amy in True Blood is a deconstruction. She is introduced as a sexy, druggy, Cloud Cuckoolander, but turns out to be a psychopathic addict who imprisons and kills harmless vampires for their psychedelic blood.
  • In Victoria, there's an interesting inversion of this trope during the courtship between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert: it is the brooding and serious young man, who changes the life of the spirited and cheerful young woman. Albert wants Victoria to become more responsible and a bit less frivolous, and he reminds her of the harsh reality of how her least fortunate subjects have to live (she had previously not really opened her eyes to their situation). But despite a few arguments, there's an obvious attraction between them. And within only a few days, they're engaged to be married.
  • Andy's girlfriend Kat in Weeds was a somewhat more hardcore version of this. She was much crazier than usual — he even told a story about how once she stabbed him because she thought he'd kicked her "spirit animal," although he hadn't figured out what that was. And he admitted that he didn't actually love her, and implied that he was still with her because she made life interesting.
  • The X-Files has a subversion in the character of Melissa Scully, Agent Dana Scully's sister. Melissa is a lot into crystals, psychics and New Age stuff and tries to get Mulder to leave his "dark" place and drop his cynicism and paranoia. Not surprising he's depressed as his partner and only friend Scully is dying. Refreshingly, Mulder is most definitely not impressed and absolutely uninterested in her happy and playful ways. The rumour has it that Melissa was originally written as his love interest, but instead she was quickly turned into a Sacrificial Lion. She appeared mid season 2, and the season 3 opener saw her killed.
  • You: Deconstructed and subverted with Love Quinn. She's introduced as the typical version of this trope: doing quirky things like flirting in grocery stores by asking if peaches look like butts, spontaneously taking protagonist Joe on various road trips across Los Angeles, and making up cutesy in-jokes when she and Joe become a couple like saying "I wolf you". It turns out she is just as Ax-Crazy and has just as much of a Dark and Troubled Past as Joe, and partially put on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl persona to conceal this part of herself. As it becomes increasingly apparent that Joe got married to his mirror image and not a twee idol he could put on a pedestal, their relationship quickly deteriorates.
    • It is implied that Candace also started out this way for Joe. A redheaded musician who loves Wuthering Heights, strumming on her ukulele, and using pet names like "Bunny" for Joe. Like with his other love interests, Joe puts her up on an unattainable pedestal. When it turns out she is not the perfect girlfriend and cheats on Joe with a producer to further her career, Joe attempts to murder her.
  • You Me Her: Jack tries to spice up his marriage through seeing sexy escort Izzy when his life has become staid and boring. She not only inspires new excitement for him and his wife Emma, but is this for them both. They both start becoming more carefree and uninhibited as both of them fall for Izzy, who reciprocates. Soon it evolves into polyamory between them all.

  • The "flower girl" from "The Rain, the Park and Other Things" by the Cowsills; the narrator runs into her on a rainy day in the park and falls in Love at First Sight, but after they go for a walk together she seemingly vanishes, leaving him only a flower to remember her by.
  • The Dead Milkmen's song "Punk Rock Girl" plays this trope enthusiastically straight, with a dweeby narrator describing a series of playfully violent encounters with an unnamed female Quincy Punk.
    We went to the Phillie Pizza Company
    And ordered some hot tea
    The waitress said "Well no
    We only have it oiced"
    So we jumped up on the table
    And shouted "anarchy"

    We got into her car
    Away we started rollin'
    I said "How much you pay for this?"
    She said "Nothing man, it's stolen"
  • The girl described in the song "Her Eyes" by Pat Monahan. (It seems like most of the songs written by Monahan, solo or with Train, are about describing the interests and quirks of these kind of girls. It's not hard to conclude Monahan likes this kind of girl).
  • "Lilly" by Pink Martini describes either a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, or a very enthusiastic puppy dog ("Lilly comes when you stop to call her, Lilly runs when you look away, Lilly leaves kisses on your collar, Lilly-Lilly-Lilly-Lilly stay!")
  • In Pick Up The Phone by Dragonette the singer stars as one of these singing to "Cherry", reminding her not to be very serious and singing about all their exploits "painting the town till it was up in smoke". Though the film clip tends to zig zagg it because in the end it's all in her mind.
  • "Try It And See" by Rita Pavone is sung from the perspective of a woman trying to convince a man to let her be a Manic Pixie for him. It was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, who later re-used the melody in Jesus Christ Superstar for, of all things, King Herod's gloating number.
  • "Any Old Wind That Blows" by Johnny Cash (written by Dick Feller), though the narrator's feelings about the MPDG are a bit ambiguous:
    She's a butterfly in mid-July
    Who just can't wait to try her brand new wings
    On brand new things
    And she needs no rhyme or reason when she goes
    Her mind is on what lies beyond
    That wall of blue horizon, I suppose
    And heaven knows
    She'll go sailin' off on any old wind that blows
  • Bessie from "Up on Cripple Creek" by The Band, who rips up winning horse racing tickets "just for a laugh" (or so the main character in the song wants us to see her as).
  • "Head First" by John Waite and the Babys could be interpreted this way. The narrator isn’t sure about her at first, but he’s drawn to her more and more every time he sees her. The cover art of the album this song appears on carries the idea further: it depicts a girl wearing mismatched shoes falling backwards.
  • "Miss Impossible" by Poets of the Fall appears to describe such a woman, and lampshades her paradoxical nature:
    As she is beautiful, she's unpredictable,
    Damned irresistible, is it plausible to hate her?
    She is my common sense, revels on decadence,
    But what's the difference, it's impossible to bait her.
  • The girl in Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida Loca". "She'll make you live her crazy life," but the result is that "She will wear you out" and "She'll make you go insane." She's quite an experience but also dangerous.
  • British Girl Group The Pipettes had this as their joint image, especially in their former incarnation as of their first album, We Are The Pipettes; the track "ABC" is the song of a girl who clearly wishes to be the manic pixie dream for a book-smart but introverted nerd.
  • "Josie" by Steely Dan is about a local wild party girl returning home to everyone's delight after being away awhile.
  • "Skateaway" by Dire Straits is about a mysterious carefree girl who roller skates around the city's streets in the middle of the night.
  • The eponymous character in Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" from Songs of Leonard Cohen is perhaps a borderline example of this trope: she shows the narrator all the secret places around the docks, is "kinda crazy", and almost becomes a kind of mythic figure by the end of the song.
  • A favorite MPDG of film and televison, Zooey Deschanel has turned her preciousness into a mildly successful music career as well, singing in the band She & Him with M. Ward.
  • In Neil Diamond's "Shilo", the singer remembers inventing the eponymous Imaginary Friend as a child due to his father not having time for him and the other kids ostracizing him. As he gets older, he meets and falls for a MPDG who helps him find his confidence... then dumps him, which sends him back to longing for the imaginary friend.
  • Motion City Soundtrack's song "Antonia" definitely gives this impression of the titular character. The verses are a laundry list of her numerous quirks and idiosyncrasies, while the chorus states that the singer cannot live without her. In this interview writer Justin Pierre states that there is no one girl with all of these traits, but that they were taken from many people, including but not limited to his sister and the band's male drummer.
  • The video to Carly Rae Jepsen's "Run Away With Me" is pretty much a Point-of-view experience of a guy traveling around the world with Carly as his MPDG.
  • Green Day occasionally has a song written about lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong's wife, Adrienne, which seems to paint her in this light-see: "She's A Rebel", "Last Of The American Girls", and "Youngblood".
  • The maiden in "Ghost of a Rose" by Blackmore's Night is clearly one. She and her love eventually part ways but he always remembers her and thinks he can see her on the moors.
    Her eyes believed in mysteries.
    She would lay amongst the leaves of amber.
    Her spirit wild, heart of a child
    Yet gentle, still and quiet and mild
    And he loved her.
  • Deconstructed in Lorde "Liability", the song describes how her lovers are initially attracted to the excitement of dating her and her quirks, but leaving soon after that initial passion fades and her antics become too burdensome:
    The truth is I am a toy that people enjoy
    Till all of the tricks don't work anymore
    And then they're bored of me
  • Deconstructed in Addison Grace's "Manic Pixie Dream Girl", which is about the singer calling out her abusive ex for trying to turn her into this trope — a "quirky" girl who only exists to support him in all his endeavors.
  • Brooks & Dunn's "Rock My World Little Country Girl" puts a Country Music twist on the trope, about a girl who "acts like Madonna, but she listens to Merle," has "an A in math, but never cracked a book," and wears Calvin Klein snakeskin boots with dime-store sunglasses. She insists the singer is too uptight and he's "got to learn to loosen up."
  • The title character in Dean Friedman's 1977 hit "Ariel" (a One-Hit Wonder moment for him in the US, though he had other hits internationally) fits the trope to a T.
    She wore a peasant blouse with nothing underneath
    I said "Hi"
    She said, "Yeah, I guess I am"
  • Collin Raye's "My Kind of Girl" is another Country Music version of the trope.
    When I saw you buying Cosmo and a Hot Rod magazine
    I said to myself "Now there's a girl for me."
    And when I asked you to go for a ride
    You stole my heart when you said "If I can drive."
    I said "How 'bout some music?" You said, "You got any Merle?"
    That's when I knew you were my kind of girl
  • David Nail's "Whatever She's Got, another Country Music variety.
    She's a little complicated
    She'll make her mind up just to change it
    The kind of girl that keeps you waitin', waitin' around
    She likes to get her toes done bright red
    She's always reapplyin' her lipstick
    The muddy river bank she's the first in and last out
    She's got somethin' I can't figure out
    That everybody's talkin' 'bout...

    Mythology and Religion 

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Simon Amstell of Grandma's House and Never Mind the Buzzcocks, discusses and deconstructs the trope in all but name in his show Do Nothing: "I was in Paris recently with a new group of people, one of whom was a sort of kooky interesting girl, though in hindsight not that interesting. I always get fooled, I always think, Oh she seems fascinating. Is she, Simon? Or does she just have short hair? She suggests at about three in the morning that we all run up the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Trimphe. And I guess telling you about that now, it sounds exciting and fun, but at the time I just thought, Why would we do that?"

  • The Neil Simon play Barefoot in the Park explores the relationship of Manic Pixie Dream Girl and her dull love interest; fun loving Cory flickers between trying to spice up her housewife roles and pouting that her new husband won't pay attention to her, while Paul struggles with his wife's playful nature he loves and focusing on the career he kind of needs. It's a romantic comedy but does show the MPDG Cory as childish and needing to grow up if she wants her marriage to really work. It ends with them switching roles and Cory learning to worry a little about the result of her actions.
  • In Bells Are Ringing, Ella Peterson steps into and improves the lives of three clients of the telephone answering service she works for. She helps a dentist realize his ambitions to become a songwriter, makes a washed-up Brando wannabe actor stop mumbling, buy a suit and get a part, and a struggling playwright overcome his Writer's Block and, incidentally, fall in love with her.
  • Subverted in the musical Cabaret: Sally tries to be a Manic Pixie for Cliff, but her determined spunky optimism and unwillingness to grow up make her ignore the threat of Nazism and drive Cliff away from her. The very dark Donmar Warehouse production played her eventually as an outright nihilistic Death Seeker.
  • Carmen deconstructs this: she's a Hot Gypsy Woman who seduces and enchants the lead male, Don Jose, with her free-spirited nature, but quickly tires of him as he proclaims his everlasting love for her. Turns out she's not so much for the forever love, and she leaves him for someone much more exciting. As a result, he kills her out of jealousy at the end of the opera.
  • Marta in Company acts this way, but it's a subversion as she does not really seem to have any major effect on Bobby's life.
  • Asha in Cross Road is a deconstruction in that her relationship with the protagonist, violinist Niccolo Paganini, is not at all romantic, and also in that she enters his life in pursuit of her own goals — she wants him to teach her music. She is still a Genki Girl who gets him to defrost his Jerk with a Heart of Gold facade, and helps him rediscover his love for music. However, she's also a Foil for Niccolo's contracted devil, Amduscias, who is also quite genki.
  • Deconstructed as far back as Ibsen's A Doll's House, in which the heroine Nora is a (seemingly) flighty, vivacious, kooky child-woman who gradually realizes that she's been so working so hard at playing this role for her more conventional husband — even through bearing him three children — that she has never really grown up and has no idea of her true self, and that their relationship is thus only a game, not adult love. She leaves him to try and learn how to be a fully formed human being.
  • Susan Hollander from Woody Allen's Don't Drink the Water is borderline the definition of this trope as her only personality trait other then that she is a Satellite Love Interest for major screw-up Axel is that she is somewhat of a hippie (the fact that the show was written and set in The '60s helps).
  • Marcy from I Love You Because, and the song "Coffee" is nearly an in-song definition of this trope.
  • The Mrs. Hawking play series: Subverted in part four, Gilded Cages. Mrs. Hawking suggests that her husband saw her this way and that she suffered greatly from his effort to box her into that role.
  • RENT: Mimi to Roger, Maureen to Joanne and Mark, and Angel to Tom. The entire Musical is basically about this trope played with in multiple ways. Of the three; Mimi and Maureen both rail against their lovers' objectifying them as such, dealing as they are with their own respective emotional turmoil. The only true essential Manic Pixie Dream Queen is Angel, not just for his lover Tom Collins but for the entire show, as his joie de vivre, boundless generosity and loving energy serve as both a model and moral compass against which every other character measures his or her own self-defeating behavior and emotional incontinence. Of course he dies in act two thus fulfilling the transient aspect of the archetype.
  • Classic example: Maria in The Sound of Music. She's often overlooked as an example of the trope, because she's really trying her best to be a mature, motherly type (in addition to being a nun). There's an entire song dedicated to her MPDG tendencies, sung by the other nuns in her abbey who are frustrated with her childlike flightiness and apparent inattention to the reservation demanded of her as a nun.
  • Sheherezade in Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier is a thorough subversion; since she lives in a world where magic is a real and tangible thing, her dreamy, creative life as a storyteller yields valuable knowledge rather than pointless whimsy. When she brightens Jafar's life, it's a deliberate (and skillfully clever) effort on her part rather than just her innate quirkiness, and when Jafar falls in love with her, it's because her argument for the value of magic is logical and well-reasoned enough to convince him of her worth, even if he never actually adopts her viewpoint on it.
  • Wicked has a whole song about the trope, sung by Elphaba, who watches unhappily from the sidelines as Glinda effortlessly charms everyone. Gets deconstructed a bit in the second act, though.
  • The titular character in the ballet La Sylphide is a childlike free spirit who snatches James's ring to spirit him away from his soon to be wed fiancee Effie. However this trope gets a brutal deconstruction. Once the sylph has James in the forest, she seems to lose interest in him or isn't mature enough to fully enjoy an adult relationship. Things get even worse when James attempts to keep the sylph with him via a magical scarf given to him by the witch Old Madge. The scarf is poisoned, the sylph's wings fall off and she dies.

    Video Games 
  • Catherine from the Atlus puzzle game Catherine. Deconstructed, in that Catherine's a literal pixie dream girl, being a succubus who's taken on the form of the main character's ideal woman.
  • Flonne from Disgaea: Hour of Darkness initially joins Laharl to see if demons are capable of love, and starts lecturing them.
  • Merrill from Dragon Age II. She's quirky, innocent, endearingly awkward and clumsy and probably the most optimistic companion, nearly always cheerful and friendly. If on the friendship path, she just about hero worships Hawke and harbors an obvious crush on them. However, her character development and very concrete goals outside of Hawke (which she will accomplish with or without Hawke's help) ultimately save her from this trope.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • While it tends to get de-emphasized in later works (in favor of her Incorruptible Pure Pureness), Aerith from Final Fantasy VII absolutely fits the bill. Slowly defrosting the consummate and brooding mercenary Cloud, check. Hyperactive and mischevious, check. Involving the brooding boy in wacky hijinxs like crossdressing adventures and "accidentally" walking in on him, check. Re-emphasized in Final Fantasy VII Remake.
    • Rinoa in Final Fantasy VIII is a subversion: she comes off as a classic Manic Pixie Dream Girl at first when she's playfully urging Squall to dance at the SeeD graduation ball, and while it soon becomes clear that she does in fact have her own problems as a member of La Résistance against the Galbadian occupation of Timber, she has much more well-meaning enthusiasm and optimism than she has the skill and experience needed to follow through with her big plans. However, she gets a rude awakening as to just how high the stakes are by the end of the first disc, and while she continues to encourage Squall to open up to her and others throughout the game, it's no longer in the manner of this trope.
    • Tidus from Final Fantasy X is a rare male protagonist example for Yuna. He came into her life out of nowhere when she's about to go on a pilgrimage that will more or less make her a glorified human sacrifice, and his cheerful and somewhat goofy outlook and his tendency to keep asking questions about parts of her culture that she just took for granted helps her grow as a person. He's also a literal dream boy.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates the second-gen Kitsune, Selkie, serves as this to the more dour guys, such as Dwyer and Ignatius. She constantly tries to drag them places and get them to enjoy life.
    • Elise is an interesting case in that, while naturally an upbeat and outgoing person, there are times when it's implied that she's deliberately exaggerating these traits in order to be a soothing presence for her more jaded siblings. The trope is played a little bit straighter in her supports with Ryoma and Takumi.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky: Plucky Girl Estelle is a protagonist in this role for her initially depressed and cynical Broken Bird adopted brother Joshua throughout the trilogy.
  • In Namco High, Valkyrie's chirpy demeanour, rampant use of internet acronyms, and sheer joie de vivre put her into this role — coaxing Cousin to try new things, giving everything 100%, and just generally having fun with stuff. Then, at the end of her route, she has to go back to her own time and never returns, which typically kicks the player right in the feels in the process.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2:
    • Depending on how you play, your character can be one of these for Casavir, or a male version for Elanee.
    • Gann can be a male one for the player in Mask of the Betrayer.
    • Neeshka seems to play this role in some parts of the main campaign.
  • In Persona 3, the female protagonist has some elements of this in her relationship with Shinjiro Aragaki. It's most evident in about the eighth rank of his Social Link; having previously thrown a party for the rest of the dorm at the protagonist's instigation, he reflects on how good it felt and how he wouldn't have done it if it hadn't been for her influence; by the end of the game she has given him a new lease on life, only to herself die as a result of performing a Heroic Sacrifice to stop The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Amy Rose has a crush on Sonic the Hedgehog because she sees him as this, even though it's usually not reciprocated.note  In the beginning of her Sonic Adventure story, she complains about how boring her life is without him. Sonic himself fits the manic pixie type well minus the relationship: he's a free spirit constantly on the lookout for the next adventure, most of the other characters look up to him for that reason, and he convinces others to live life to the fullest. The latter is most apparent in Sonic and the Black Knight, where the villain's motives go against his life philosophy.
  • Excellen Browning of Super Robot Wars Compact 2 towards her boyfriend Kyosuke Nanbu. Towards other people: slightly the same, but a different story. And yup, she also died...on the day she and Kyosuke met, in fact...but she got better. Subverted when it turns out she had severe loneliness issues herself. Presumably, Kyosuke saving her from certain death in their backstory is what caused her to embrace this trope and declare herself his quirky girlfriend.
  • Tales Series:
    • Marta Lualdi of Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World. Perhaps not the typical variation in that there are some...rather important other concerns as well, but she seems to tie just about everything back to her unrequited crush on Emil. She also works as a Deconstruction of one, as her love for Emil and attempts to better his personality only work in making Emil more annoyed. So by trying to be the girl who can change the cynical shy boy with no friends, she instead ends up driving him away and worsening their relationship. It doesn't help that until her Character Development, she doesn't acknowledge Emil's real personality and is really imposing her own heroic views onto him.
    • A supporting character variation in Tales of Graces with Pascal for Hubert. He starts out completely cold, withdrawn, and mistrustful, but by the end of the future arc Pascal has completely worn him down with her friendliness and wacky charm, and around her he's either a stammering dork, an aspiring romantic, or a knight in shining armor, depending on the context. It's a last minute subversion, though, because she has no idea about his feelings for her even once he pretty explicitly tells her he's in love with her. It's hinted she might return his feelings, but they're stuck with a Maybe Ever After.
  • Violet:
    • The title character is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl; she's the Player Character's quirky Australian girlfriend who has a limitless supply of pet names, makes gifts like origami trophies or custom snowglobes, is indefatigably supportive, and loves the Player Character even after he/she destroys all the aforementioned gifts in order to, among other things, shut out his/her ex-girlfriend. She both lampshades and deconstructs the trope as you continue playing and more backstory comes along: Violet admits that a lot of their problems come from the fact that she can't just be the protagonist's funny little girlfriend all the time, that she is also a real person with real hopes and desires and she's getting tired of putting her life on hold waiting for the protagonist to finish the work s/he was supposed to finish ages ago.
    • Also of note is that the character we know as "Violet" is really just the way the protagonist imagines her voice in his/her head. So it's an even bigger deconstruction, because the story focuses purely on how she's viewed, not on what she actually does.
  • Shiki Misaki of The World Ends with You is a subversion: she has the job of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl: she gets Neku to begin to come out of his moody, loner shell and learn the game's Aesop about trying to connect with other people. However, she does have a number of her own problems, not the least of which is she's only pretending to be this type of character because in reality, she's just as shy and lonely as Neku.

    Visual Novels 
  • The only thing keeping Kay Faraday in Ace Attorney Investigations from being a textbook MPDG to Miles Edgeworth is that their relationship isn't portrayed romantically, with the latter acting more like a Parental Substitute. The same can be said for Phoenix Wright's relationship with Maya Fey, or just about any assistant of the main character.
  • In the Flash-based visual short story Air Pressure, a nameless young man is re-evaluating his continuing relationship with Leigh, an MPDG who came into his life a few years ago. How closely she fits this formula depends on your choices. Ultimately subverted after a couple plays through when the addiction subtext sinks in.
  • Odon's wife Karen in Fleuret Blanc is less hyperactive than most examples, the narrative is similar: She came into his life when he was in a dark place, and her peaceful and spiritual outlook influenced many of his current beliefs and life decisions. She also died tragically.
  • Tamie Nogi's route in Princess Evangile has her become this to Masaya. Until their trip together throughout Japan, Masaya had mostly been having an uneventful stay in Vincennes following the Premier Jugment. Her inviting him on that trip signals the change of his stay there to a far more eventful one.
  • Haruka from Little Busters! seems like this on the surface, with her Genki Girl behaviour, wild antics, and propensity for pulling silly pranks and dragging Riki along for the ride. However, the trope is subverted, as it turns out Haruka does all of this very much for her own sake: namely, as a way of getting back at her straitlaced, 'perfect' twin sister Kanata who is supposed to be controlling her while at the same time proving that her own rule-free life away from her extended family from which she has been exiled is much better than her sister's under their control. It doesn't work, and as her route goes down the facade breaks down more and more, revealing the incredibly insecure, socially awkward girl underneath.
  • Sentimental Graffiti: Emiru's manic-ness made her a social outcast with everyone except the protagonist.
  • Ciel starts out looking like one for Shiki in Tsukihime. It's an act; she's a Hunter of Monsters, and is trying to get close to him because she thinks he's Roa's latest host. While she actually falls for him over the course of the story, her 'real self' is somewhat less cheery.
  • Yume Miru Kusuri subverts this quite harshly. Nekoko seems like a literal Manic Pixie Dream Girl, being a quirky and cheeky counterpart to the sulky, brooding male protagonist. In her route you learn that she's neither a pixie nor a dream girl, but a shy and troubled drug addict that tries to escape her dull life.

    Web Animation 
  • RomCom Manga Chan has one in the character of Mary Toyota, who mainly exists to liven the life of dull guy Kent Honda in every story she's in, especially if Kent's previous girlfriend dumped him.

    Web Comics 
  • Two scripts by John Allison:
    • In Scary Go Round we have nerdy Eustace Boyce (aka "The Boy") and his Perky Goth girlfriend Esther de Groot. They became a couple during a trip to Wales, which Esther had initiated relatively spontaneously.
    • The one-shot strip Cupcakes McKenzie is subtitled "Manic Pixie Dream Girl".
  • Subverted in Bastard. Kyun does draw Jin out of his shell, but it's not only her who does it; Manny helps too, and it's mostly Jin himself who decides to make friends. Plus, she has her own problems to deal with, and doesn't exist only to help Jin.
  • In Bobwhite, Georgia sees his girlfriend Shoshanna as someone exciting, someone who does things. Everyone else sees Shoshanna as a drug abuser whose lack of inhibition turns every conversation into a trainwreck.
  • Subverted in the Ciem Webcomic Series, and also gets a Gender Flip. Denny was the Manic Pixie Man that stirred things up for Candi, allowing her to (somewhat) get over the loss of her ever-brooding (but kind-hearted) Donte.
  • One strip of Critical Miss invokes the title verbatim. Twice.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Ellen invokes this trope intentionally to differentiate herself from the rather-straitlaced Elliot. Non romantic example, as she is his Opposite-Sex Clone, and they see each other as more like brother and sister. Though she tries to act much the same way with Nanase, too.
    • Grace can be like this to Tedd, especially in the "One Way Road" arc where he's gotten too wrapped up in Mad Science to the detriment of his friendships and social life.
    • Ashley seemed like an example of this at first, but in the end it was inverted and subverted. Elliot was the one who dragged her into a new world, and that turned out to be a lot more horrifying than it seemed at first, albeit not without its benefits.
  • Maytag from Flipside is an unabashed hedonist and nymphomaniac who takes it upon herself to break shy people (of either gender) out of their shells. She's also an interesting variation because her outgoing personality is largely a function of her outfit; her mask persona is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl for herself.
  • Ghastly's Ghastly Comic:
    • Several male characters in initially thought that Freddie would be this for them. Surprise!
    • The series also has the appropriately named Kwerki, a Cloud Cuckoolander who acts like she's looking for someone to play this role for. In her more lucid moments.
  • In A Girl and Her Fed, said Girl is indeed manic, and said Fed is rather unsurprisingly a stuffed shirt. However, she didn't so much break him out of his funk so much as break him out of a brainwash given by the government agency that is now likely to kill them for it at some point, as the super intelligent koala pointed out. Also, her antics were kept under control in the past by the ghost of Benjamin Franklin. It's that kind of comic.
  • Girls Next Door subverts it with Jareth and Sarah, since Jareth has the Manic Pixie part down pat on his own and really needs a Canny Human Dream Girl to keep him in line.
  • Played from a lesbian perspective by Winter in Girly. Interestingly, this seems to be a personality she developed purely to get Otra. Before her, she was a very cultured, dull and incredibly selfish girl. In other words, Otra played this role for Winter while having none of the personality normally involved with it.
  • Roomie and Lillian from Go Get a Roomie! would seem to fit the trope, the former being promiscuous, usually drunk, and teasing everyone and the latter being solitary, sheltered, and emotionless. That said, the trope itself is in equal parts downplayed, deconstructed, and inverted. Neither Lillian nor Roomie is shown as really happy with their role, and both end up changing their lives after making friends with the other. When they become a couple, Roomie is struck with crippling anxiety that she can't live up to the person Lillian thinks she is.
  • Maple from Hazard's Wake is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl in her own mind. (In reality, she's more a Manic Girl with romantic delusions.)
  • Homestuck:
    • Nepeta, a quirky, ship-crazy, roleplaying green-blooded troll, whose moirail, Equius is far more serious and dogmatic regarding the blood caste and acting superior to lowbloods, despite her best efforts to make him more tolerant of the lower castes. Due to how troll relationships worknote , theirs is not romantic.
    • Jane becomes this in Trickster Mode. Unlike most examples, however, this is not a good thing. Ultimately deconstructed.
  • Aurora fulfills this role for Pasqualo in It Hurts!!. Where he was constantly trying to put himself down and had a terrible home life, in comes Aurora, who makes his day a little brighter and becomes what the author described as a "happy pill" for him. Then it turns out his fixation on her presence making him happy turns into an obsession, and over time the story makes it clear that she has her own wants and needs as well. That, and their coupling isn't healthy for themselves or the Earth.
  • Eva in Joe vs. Elan School is a deconstruction in the same manner as Marla Singer. Joe is head over heels about her in college, but his narration notes that, in hindsight, "She was actually completely crazy, a real drug addict, and obsessed with getting into very serious and dangerous situations."
  • Ménage à 3:
    • Zii fits the pattern. Irresponsible, almost always "up", and easily distracted, she has left a trail of hurt feelings and disrupted relationships behind her. Despite that, her interactions with Gary, DiDi, and Sonya have shaken them all out of assorted ruts and induced them to try something different, while Erik seems to have had something of a romantic MPDG image of her. Things get more complicated with and for her as the comic goes on, and the consequences of her manic pixie irresponsibility sometimes come back to bite her; notably, while she was only looking for a short-term fling with Sonya, Sonya has become infatuated with her.
    • Gary is something of an MPDG magnet. After Yuki has split up with him, Sonya gives him a crash course in basic sexual activity, but turns out to be more interested in pursuing Zii for MPDG services. But shortly after that relationship ends, Senna crashes through his door, tells him a series of colorful lies, and drags him off to Paris by way of the Mile-High Club. Mind you, Senna is more of a dangerously narcissistic flake than true MPDG material. Gary's big problem in all this, though, is that he's far too passive to learn any useful lessons about life and love from any of them.
  • Missi from Misfile. Of course, this puts her directly between Ash and her canon love interest, leading to Missi catching a lot of flak from some fans.
  • Deconstructed in this Nobody Scores! strip. Jane realizes that her new boyfriend only wants a quirky girl to show off to his friends, and hits back by adopting the "quirky whim" of respectability (including a job as an estate agent). When her boyfriend gets bored and dumps her, she reverts to her former self — but her roommate Sarah forces the two back together at gunpoint, because the "real" Jane is impossible to live with.
  • Nils in Platinum Grit. Though honestly, Given all the weirdness in Jeremy's life, it's actually up to the other girl, Kate, to be the inverse of a MPDG and pull him back to reality.
  • In Red String, Hanae serves this roll for Fuuko. She breaks her out of her shell and shows her that it's ok to love someone, even if she is a little different. Deconstructed when Hanae's finally outed to her mother who doesn't take this well — and it's Fuuko that has to be Hanae's pillar of support and strength.
  • This Sex, Drugs, and June Cleaver strip points out some of the implications of this trope, with Bree imagining herself in this role.
  • Subverted in Shortpacked!, where Robin's attempts at this usually do just wind up annoying the hell out of Ethan, Amber, and whoever else she might decide to latch onto.
  • Sticky Dilly Buns gender-inverts and reconstructs the trope with Dillon and Ruby. He plays the manic pixie role toward her, but aside from the fact that their relationship is entirely platonic (Dillon being very, very gay), Ruby has just as much of an effect on Dillon, making him consider the consequences of his actions more, as he does on her.

    Web Original 
  • The unnamed POV human protagonist in Alien Abduction Roleplay is implied to be a male version. He's a Nightmare Fetishist who quickly forgives the alien scientist, Acktreal Domma, for threatening to eat him, and brings out her more gentle, empathetic side. At the end of the series, Ackt tells him that she loves him because he allows her to unleash the more playful side of herself (which she buried because her herbivorous peers react negatively to it)
  • Satirized in Manic Pixie Prostitute a YouTube short commenting on the male obsession with the 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' caricature and the female response to it. A middle-aged married man in a suit meets an exasperated prostitute in a hotel room. Instead of sex, he asks her to role play: "I want you to turn my life upside down with your whimsical joie de vivre," — an act she finds "demeaning."
  • The parody trailer A Trailer for Every Academy Award Winning Movie Ever includes a token Manic Pixie Dream Girl in the form of Lead Female. She helps Wealthy, Successful Protagonist to open up and enjoy his life to the fullest, though she does share that role with Inspirationally Disadvantaged Guy.
    Protagonist: Interest in your bold rejection of social norms as evidenced by your dyed hair.
  • Referenced in Yahtzee's review of SimCity.
    Yahtzee: Listen to me EA: not every introvert is longing for the day that Zooey fucking Deschanel kicks their door down and forcibly drags them to a roller rink.
  • Feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian discussed this trope in the first episode in her "Tropes Vs. Women" series, calling it a poor effort by Hollywood writers to create less subdominant roles for females, as it's still a character who's meant to serve the needs of the male lead. She brings up an interesting point that it's often merged with The Muse, which puts forth the idea that women can't be independent creators. But she categorise Summer of (500) Days of Summer and Clementine of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as straight examples rather than deconstructions.
  • There is the State Home for Manic Pixie Dream Girls. Turns out most manic pixies need to be eventually institutionalised. Kyle's heart is breaking as he has to have his wife Katie committed. She's adorable in a quirky and awkward way... but she wanders and marvels at everything, can't feed herself (she only ever eats pancakes), wants to pay in buttons, listens to music with unplugged headphones, blows kisses to people she doesn't know etc. All the manic-pixies at the facility are similar: they all listen to The Smiths, they fight over a CD mix which to them is like catnip to cats, they talk about star-gazing, get crafty with pipe clears and dance happily in the rain. The woman in charge handling Katie's case says the Manic Pixie Dream Girl condition is still dimly understood, but she has her own theory: severe retardation of the brain.
  • Subverted in Gemma and the Bear, which features a gay, platonic Manic Pixie Dream Guy. Gemma is a timid, nerdy, neurotic white woman who turns into a "carpe diem-loving, fly-by-the-seat-of his-pants" gay black man named Bear when she falls asleep. Bear has decided that he and Gemma need a man and that Gemma overall just needs some more spice in her life! Unfortunately, he mostly causes trouble and makes things even more complicated.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Wife: Deconstructed. Chance met his dream girl Simone who is beautiful, gentle, quirky, lovable and a manic-pixie-dream-girl up-to-eleven. He loves her, but being married to her is exhausting... She reassures and encourages her friends and random people to follow their hearts or to keep pursuing their passions like music; people admire her ukulele skills and her singing; she likes to pretend to be an alien or a baby, she keeps throwing dinners with a theme (like an under sea dinner party for Chance and her, and their pet fish Morrissy insisted to join them, too), she loves making music mixes for her husband, she doesn't like 'dangerous chemicals' (even medicine, because pharmaceutical companies are evil), she works for a charity dressed as a dancing potted flower... and so on and so forth. She's very loving and inspiring, but Chance becomes extremely tired from her various adventures and her attempts to self-actualize him all the time, and to his horror, he starts to feel attracted to a firm, energetic and funny woman who acts like a grown-up. It turns out that Simone actually acts this way because Chance needs to be cheered up all the time, and others expect her to behave in that way, too.

    Web Videos 
  • Played for Laughs in Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] Abridged as Archer name-drops the trope and refers to Kuzuki as this for Caster, reasoning that Caster needs him to support her pursuit of happiness and in doing so he stifled her personal growth as well as his own.
    Archer: You abandoned your own pursuit of happiness, so she could be happy. You may not be manic, you may not be a pixie, you may not be a girl, but you, Soichiro Kuzuki, are a manic pixie dream girl in a suit and dress shoes.
  • Gameboys: Genderflipped with Gavreel. Deconstructed in later episodes by shifting the focus from almost-completely Cairo to more equal-part Gavreel & his struggle with Cairo moving away with his family to Bukidnon.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!, "Independent Movie":
    • Zooey Deschanel (of course) played one of these (explicitly referred to as such) in this episode— designed to resemble a stereotypical independent film.
      Steve: Um, hi. Uh, can I help you with your cello?
      Girl: No, it's my suitcase. I just don't think all suitcases should be rectangles, y'know? I think sometimes suitcases can be cello cases with clothes in them.
      Steve: ...What are you doing here?
      Girl: I'm travelling cross country taking Polaroid pictures of people walking other people's dogs. It's pretty hard to tell, but I didn't become an artist because it was easy.
    • Steve acts as a Manic Pixie Dream Guy for Snot by trying to get him to come to terms with his feelings about his fathers death, even though Snot doesn't think he cares about it.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Avatar Aang in Avatar: The Last Airbender could be considered this not only to Katara, but to the entire world. This messiah's message is "have fun, not wars." He moves out of it in later seasons, to the point that halfway through season 2 he was becoming a full time grump (the wackiness by then having moved over to Toph and Sokka).
    • The Legend of Korra: Avatar Korra is a subversion, if not double-subversion from Mako's perspective as she's the protagonist that clearly has her own goals from constantly saving the world to personal issues like PTSD, (he's just a Spotlight-Stealing Squad for half the series at most,) break up for good by Book 2's end, but she otherwise turns his life upside-down and ultimately for the better as he reflects on her as remaining an inspiration in the fourth season Clip Show.
  • Glitch Techs: Miko takes on this role to Five in the pilot episode: she's the one who goes out of her way to track him down and get him to investigate his Laser-Guided Amnesia, and fits the stereotypical dyed hair and personality to a T, though in later episodes she gets more independent flaws and character development.
  • In Looney Tunes: Rabbits Run, Lola Bunny is this to Bugs Bunny. At the beginning, Bugs has been a disappointed cynic since a high rise was built over his rabbit hole, and all he wants is to find another hole and grump around alone. Lola, a Cloud Cuckoolander and Talkative Loon, shows him that there are better ways to live.
  • In The Magic School Bus, Ms. Frizzle fits the platonic version of this trope as much as possible in order to give her students excitement in learning, and in the episode "Goes To Seed", she acts like the literal example of this trope towards Mr. Seedplot.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
  • The Owl House: The irony of being the only human among a society of witches and demons aside, Luz Noceda inadvertently livens up and ultimately improves Amity Blight's life and leads to the young witch developing a crush on her.
  • Ready Jet Go!: Jet is a quirky and optimistic alien kid who brightens the lives of his human friends with his kindness, positivity, and adventures in space.
  • Inverted in Star vs. the Forces of Evil, while Star Butterfly does make Marco Diaz's life more interesting, the show is more about her growing as a character by toning down her chaotic overenthusiasm by being with the safety-minded, level-headed Marco.
  • Gender inverted in Steven Universe, with Steven Quartz Universe as the literal magical boy bringing excitement to the life of bored, lonely Connie Maheswaran. They even have a Crash-Into Hello.
  • Gender Inverted in Teen Titans with Kid Flash and Jinx.
  • In We Bare Bears, the episode "Fashion Bears" has Panda meet a MPDG named Samantha who loves doing impulsive things, like picking random people up with her tandem bike and riding through car washes. Panda quickly realizes how bad her impulsivity is when she assumes him tying his shoe is a marriage proposal.
  • Winx Club has a rare platonic example. Teenaged fairy Stella is overjoyed to befriend the heroine and (by way of identity fraud) quickly pulls her into magic school shenanigans. Most of Stella's Character Development is about overcoming her irresponsibility and need for much as she can, anyway. She's still a highly impulsive Genki Girl.

Alternative Title(s): Manic Pixie Dream Guy


Manic Pixie Dream Wife

Chance met a girl of his dreams. Now he's married to her.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

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Main / ManicPixieDreamGirl

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