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Non-Ironic Clown

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It's almost ironic, since he's largely among the Last of His Kind.
"When you want to scream, put away that frown
And never be scared of a clown!
Laugh on, laugh on, laugh on and on and on,
You'll never laugh alone!"
Birthday Clown, Animaniacs, "Clown and Out"

The past 30 years or so have seen a surge in the popularity of evil, Joker-style Monster Clowns who deliberately and very effectively invert everything clowns were traditionally assumed to represent — that is, making people laugh, especially children. However, there was a time when clowns were treated in the popular media as sympathetic figures of whimsy and silly fun. They filled the same niche that animated cartoon characters later would, and were just as beloved for it. Outside of their early habitats like rodeos and circuses, pretty much the only clown left in the public eye who is still permitted to act at all clown-like is Ronald McDonald. (And now he's been phased out of the advertising.) But in days past...

This type of clown is a good guy in every sense of the word. They are devoted to clowning, and absolutely love hearing people laugh, especially children. They will almost certainly be associated with Happy Circus Music. If the clown has magic powers, if they aren't using them to fight evil, then they will most likely be seen using magic to put on a wonderful show for their audience.

Unfortunately, Non-Ironic Clowns aren't always loved as much as they love others. In works featuring good clowns, there will usually be at least one person who is afraid of or distrusts said clown. Despite this, the Non-Ironic Clown keeps on going, whether the dissenter changes their mind or not.

For clarification, it should be noted that a degree of irony is intrinsic to most clown performances, and indeed to humor in general. The traditional "tears" painted on a clown's cheeks are there to show that he is laughing on the outside but may be crying on the inside, an acknowledgment by the performer that most humor contains at least some element of laughing at another's pain. This is most played up in old-school, down-on-their-luck "hobo" clowns like Emmett Kelly Jr., though the ultimate artistic expression of the tragic clown concept is probably the title aria in the opera Pagliacci. The "Non-Ironic" in the trope's name simply refers to the clowns listed here not being evil or deliberately frightening. The fact that a clown even has to be identified as "non-ironic" is pretty telling.

The Court Jester is one of the oldest forms of this trope. A more modern version would be the Dreaded Kids' Party Entertainer Job, where clowns who entertain at kids' parties are treated terribly regardless of how nice they are.


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  • McDonald's jolly and loving mascot Ronald McDonald. While In recent years he's very much subject to Alternate Character Interpretation, especially since he's become the defacto symbol for Peace & Love Incorporated, he is still widely regarded as one of the ultimate examples of this trope. It helps that most of his commercials have aged better than other ones that involve clowns (his initial design notwithstanding).
  • Jack Box is an unusual variant, since his head resembles a simplistic Jack-in-the-Box toy. His personality in newer ads isn't clownish at all, but rather that of a slightly unorthodox yet very effective businessman.
  • Krinkles the Clown from the long-discontinued Sugar Krinkles cereal. That look on his face may give some people the willies, but he's supposed to be a happy and cheerful clown. The television commercial attempts this trope as well, but doesn't fare much better with today's audiences.
  • In the mid-80s, Circus Fun breakfast cereal's mascot was a clay animation clown and his animals.
  • Kaboom was another cereal featuring a cheerful clown mascot. The cereal itself was colorful clown faces, with circus animal marshmallows. Was made by General Mills from 1969 to 2010.
  • Bozo the Clown, best known for his television show, was originally created by Capitol Records for a children's read-along record and book set in 1946. He became the mascot for the label's children's division, "Bozo the Capitol Clown", and even had his own seal of approval which showed up on Capitol's non-Bozo kiddie records.
  • The mascot for the Paleta Payaso brand of sweets is a young, cheerful-looking clown.
  • Kedso the Clown, of Keds shoes, is happy, goofy, and a Friend to All Children.
  • The mascot of Miguelitos Franchise is a Joker-esque clown with a jester's hat.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Piccolino no Bouken, one of the members of Mangiafuoco's group is a friendly clown, which is a coachman and a puppeteer. He was very friendly to Pinocchio.
  • One Piece: The second Corazon (Donquixote Rosinante) was not actually a clown by profession, but he's got the make-up that made him look like one and his clumsy antics made the children love at him. Corazon was a Friend to All Children, and while working as an undercover Marine officer infiltrating the Donquixote Family, he used violence on children in order to make them leave the pirate crew, with Buffalo, Baby 5 and Dellinger being the only children he failed to get out. He was a pivotal positive figure for Law, trying his best to save the young kid's life and freedom and doing great efforts to make him laugh. He also used his Devil Fruit powers to make fun magic shows for Law, with varying success. His role as a positive "clown" juxtaposes his brother's role as the villainous Joker (the name of Doflamingo as an underworld broker).
  • Yuya dressed like one during the first episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, to go with his comedic style of "Entertainment Duels". (Unfortunately, he was also a Sad Clown in this case.) He would quickly change styles in future episodes, but his philosophy of bringing smiles with his dueling remains the same.

  • Norman Rockwell made a few paintings, such as Off-Duty Clown and Clown Training Dogs, showing clowns doing mundane tasks, to show that clowns are just ordinary people, like the rest of us. In particular, the clown in Clown Training Dogs seems to be a Friend to All Living Things.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Despite Gotham City being more famous for evil clowns like The Joker, there are still a few non-evil clowns:
    • Batman #528 has yet another tragic, "life's loser" clown that works at a barely-surviving circus. He manages to disrupt the Mexican Standoff between Batman, Two-Face, and the circus' corrupt owner by releasing a lion from its cage, and later informs Batman that he had seen said owner murder his uncle, the circus's previous owner, by loosing a tiger on him. His reason for not revealing this to the cops? He feared that the circus would be shut down, and since he has no savings and few job skills... After reflecting on this for the better part of a few years, however, and getting a chewing-out from the Dark Knight, he decides to go and testify to the cops after all. (For extra irony points, the case was one of the many "ghost files" that Two-Face possessed back when he was still District Attorney - he knew who was responsible, but couldn't prosecute as he had no evidence).
    • The clown at Haley's Circus is a recurring character in the New 52 Nightwing. He's a bit cynical, especially about working in Gotham; Gothamites tend not to be fond of clowns.
  • Jack-in-the-Box, a clown-themed superhero in Kurt Busiek's comic Astro City. Jack-in-the-Box is an interesting case in that, depending on the story, he falls under both this trope and Monster Clown. While Jack-in-the-Box is a fundamentally good person, he's not above using the clown gimmick to scare criminals. Further, his successors Jack and Box are genuinely freaky.
  • Another clown-themed superhero back in The Golden Age of Comic Books was Jerry Siegel's Funnyman, who used slapstick gags to fight crime.
  • The heroic White Clown of Borovia from one G.I. Joe story arc.
  • In the My Little Pony Micro Series, Pinkie Pie is a big fan of Ponyacci, an old clown who's on the brink of retirement. Sad to see him go, she goes out of her way to convince him to keep clowning, including singing a song in typical Pinkie Pie fashion. Ponyacci, meanwhile, is actually something of a Sad Clown during his stories — literally; he doesn't act a clown to hide how sad he is, he's a clown who loves being a clown and is sad that old age is forcing retirement on him. With Pinkie Pie's help, however, he's able to open a school for fellow non-ironic clowns and regain his former happiness.
  • For Blue Beetle's Birthday Episode in Tiny Titans, a clown was hired to perform at his party. The joke is that, while he fully falls into this trope, Robin is convinced that he's actually the Joker in disguise.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • The clowns from Dumbo are rather unsympathetic and mean-spirited when out of character, though this came from their stupidity, not their clownish nature. But during their performance, they are very enthusiastic about getting laughs from the audience. One of the clowns does seem to show at least some sympathy for Dumbo, though. However, the other clowns will have none of it:
    Sympathetic clown: Be careful, you'll hurt the little guy.
    Unsympathetic clown #1: Aw, go on! Elephants ain't got no feelings!
    Unsympathetic clown #2: No, they're made of rubber!
  • Stubbs the Clown in We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story is the only friendly character in the Circus of Fear.
  • Chuckles in Toy Story 3 was once this as the former toy of a young child. However, after some fairly harsh experiences that resulted in his friend Lotso becoming a bitter shell of his former self, he's become an embittered individual even as he's in the possession of a loving child. However, the ending has him begin to cheer up as he embraces life with Bonnie.
  • Flip from Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland isn't evil, though he is a Cigar Chomper and a Trickster.
  • Ulf, one of the pub thugs from Tangled, is into mime. He makes good use of it when he distracts the palace guards to help Flynn escape from prison.
  • Zip from Rock and Rule was a fan of the in-universe cartoon "Uncle Mikey's Cow-toon Show", starring a clown named Uncle Mikey. While Uncle Mikey was ugly-looking and his choppy animation could have made him rather disturbing to watch, he was actually a sweet character who tried to teach children the difference between good and bad.
  • Stefano, the sea lion from Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted is a Funny Animal equivalent: he is a goofy circus seal, with a ruff, large nose and broad smile that give him a clown-like appearance. He's also the friendliest and kindest circus animal in the movie.
  • Animal Crackers (2017): Chesterfield and the rest of the clowns are good-natured Plucky Comic Relief. Chesterfield stands out for having a few serious moments of kindness in addition to the comedy.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Phroso the clown in Freaks is a textbook example — works hard on new gags for his act, a friend to all the sideshow folk, kind to the pinheads, develops a truly sweet romance with an animal trainer — really a heck of a guy.
  • Harpo Marx's persona had most of the characteristics of a clown, if not the face paint.
  • Charlie Chaplin's The Circus, featuring Chaplin stock player Henry Bergman as an entirely non-ironic clown.
  • 1953's The Clown features Red Skelton as Dodo, a washed-up clown with a drinking problem who is looking for work while maintaining his dignity. His agent Goldie doesn't want him to perform on stage because the gig would be little more than a stooge's role, but he goes through with the humiliation anyway. His ex-wife approaches him with her new husband Ralph, urging him to spend time with his son, Dink, who is still quite amused by Dodo's antics in spite of his drunkenness, unlike the last circus's owner who fired him earlier. After stealing a watch which he gave to his son, Dodo decides that Dink would be better off with his mother and Ralph, and just when Dodo gets an offer for a TV show, he goes to perform at the audition, where he collapses onstage and dies.
  • Helmut, from Jim Jarmusch's Night on Earth, the taxi driver used to be a circus clown in East Germany.
  • Louison in Delicatessen used to be a clown, but he quit when his chimpanzee partner was eaten.
  • Babe: Pig in the City has Fugly Floom, a kind elderly clown who does shows for children in hospitals despite his failing health.
  • Helena's family's circus in MirrorMask features several clowns, who are friendly and likable both in and out of makeup.
  • Some of Cirque du Soleil's film efforts have these in-story, unsurprising for a company that has done so much to keep the clowning tradition alive.
    • In Alegría, a film that wraps a "real world" storyline around the plot and themes of the tour of the same title, the adult protagonist is a downhearted, street performer mime (though he speaks, and often) who is never seen out of his makeup, a lovelorn romantic who becomes a hero. The clowns of the circus he encounters are very strange but not evil at all. Even the Show Within a Show's Monster Clown emcee, Fleur, is depicted as a fundamentally good person offstage, if a Helicopter Parent who causes trouble trying to keep his daughter and the mime apart because he doesn't want her to be part of the cruel world beyond the circus.
    • In Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away, there's the Sad Clown who gives the heroine the flyer in the opening sequence, and another in the big top the flyer advertises, who mimes what the ringmaster's saying.
  • Gelsomina from La Strada is the clown and comic relief in Zampanò the strongman's act.
  • Baptiste Debureau (Jean-Louis Barrault) in Les Enfants du Paradis. He's also a non-ironic mime. Of course, in his off-stage life he is not always jolly...
  • Patch Adams is very loosely based on the story of Patch Adams (see Real Life below), and focuses more on his clownish side, presenting him as a Blithe Spirit who wants to entertain his patients.
  • Happy the Clown in Star Games is the amicable (if obnoxious) Digital Avatar of Kirk's spaceship.
  • Arthur Fleck in the film Joker (2019) starts off as one of these. But years of mistreatment and unfortunate events conspire to turn him into the quintessential Monster Clown of Gotham.

  • The Little Engine That Could: A clown is the one who speaks on behalf of the toys.
  • "Clown Town" by Dixie Willson is a gentle story about a little village of clowns.
  • The Night Circus:
    • Defied in the circus itself. While planning the circus, Chandresh specifically states "no clowns" because he feels they would clash with the elegant tone of the rest of the circus.
    • Played straight, however, with the circus' clock. Instead of a cuckoo bird, the clock has a mechanical figurine of a juggler in harlequin attire. Herr Thiessen, the clock's designer, didn't get the "no clowns" memo, but everyone at the circus seems to approve of the clock anyway.
  • The Origin of Laughing Jack: Initially, Laughing Jack was a cheerful vibrantly colored clown whose sole purpose was to be Isaac's "not-so-imaginary friend", and he entertained him with candies, games and making his toys dance around in his room. This non-malicious clown would change into a Monster Clown after being abandoned for years and exposed to Isaac's violent activities.

    Live-Action TV 
  • American Horror Story: Freak Show: Twisty used to be one, until mobbing and bad luck pushed him over the edge and he became a Monster Clown. He still thinks of himself as a Non-Ironic Clown, but to everybody else, he's definitely a Monster Clown now.
  • Barney Miller: The episode "The Clown" has William "Bingo" Krebs, a mugging victim who wears face paint, a red derby hat, and a blue patched overcoat. When he is mugged while performing outside a theater, Barney responds that he was the third clown to be assaulted in the precinct, and Harris didn't have the heart to say it.
  • Bassie from the Dutch childrens series Bassie & Adriaan. While he has an occasional mischievous streak, he fundamentally has a good heart and wants to make people laugh and help his friend Adriaan.
  • On The Benny Hill Show, Benny sometimes played a circus clown of the Emmett Kelly style.
  • The Big Comfy Couch: The entire cast, in particular the main character Loonette, who is very jovial.
  • Blinky the Clown (Russell Scott), hosted "Blinky's Fun Club" in Colorado Springs from 1958-1966, and then Denver from 1966-1998, dressed up in hobo makeup, wishing the kids a happy "birfday".
  • Bozo, the "World's Most Famous Clown," had the distinction of being portrayed both by a live actor and as a cartoon on The Bozo Show, with the most famous version aired on WGN America starting with the Channel 9 years and lasting from 1961 to 2001.
  • Charlie Cairoli briefly had a TV show in Britain.
  • Dumbo's Circus: Barnaby, an English sheepdog in a bowler hat and baggy pants who regularly made performances. He was shown to be friendly if kind of stupid, and he was actually more of a jack-of-all-trades than a clown, also performing magic and the like.
  • In The Greatest American Hero episode "Just Another Three-Ring Circus," Ralph is searching for a kidnapped Polish clown named Yuri. As Ralph idly tries on some of Yuri's clown paraphenalia, he muses, "I like this guy. So sue me. I like clowns."
  • The Great Space Coaster: Baxter is an alien clown, and a very nice guy, who ran away from the circus because the ringmaster was mean.
  • Hey Vern, It's Ernest!: One recurring sketch is "My Father the Clown". The clown family members are annoying, but harmless.
  • Howdy Doody had Clarabelle. Originally played by Bob Keeshan, then by Nick Nicholson and Lew Anderson. Like a lot of traditional clowns, Clarabelle was silent, and Buffalo Bob believed he set a good example for the children in the studio audience.note 
  • In Living Color!: Homey D. Clown is an interesting variation as ex-con Herman Simpson who performs as Homey trying to get back at the white folks who he believes are holding him back from advancing in society. Whenever the kids ask him to do something a stereotypical clown would do, he responds with "I don't think so. Homey don't play that!" He still manages to get his audience to laugh by using unconventional, non-stereotypical humor, followed by a sing-along.
  • Seattle, Washington TV clown JP Patches. Performer Chris Wedes continued to perform as Patches until his death in 2012, decades after the show was cancelled.
  • Russian kids' green screen show Komedya Klowna (written as "Келоуна Комедия") mostly features these.
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Chuckles the Clown was a never-actually-seen character, occasionally referenced as the star of a local children's show broadcast from the same building as Mary's newsroom. Then came the episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust": word reaches the newsroom that Chuckles has just been trampled to death by a parade elephant while dressed as a peanut. The awkward balance between the fact that this is simultaneously horrible and hysterical — especially for poor sensitive Mary, who can't bring herself to admit that it is funny — has led to this episode often being cited by critics as the single funniest episode of any sitcom ever.
  • Modern Family has Fizbo. Cameron takes it into Serious Business territory.
  • The Noddy Shop: Rusty is a circus clown that plays guitar.
  • Pipo De Clown: another Dutch example.
    • There's another Pipo who was a famous Mexican clown.note 
  • Psychoville: Mr. Jelly used to be a very beloved and cheerful clown until he got carpal tunnel syndrome from over working himself. During an ill-fated attempt to reattach a tendon in his right arm, his hand had to be removed and the quality of his performance subsequently plummeted, turning him into a creepy, embittered Jerkass who unintentionally terrifies children.
  • Many personas of Red Skelton: Mean Wittle Kid, Clem Kadiddlehopper, Freddie the Freeloader, Gertrude and Heathcliff, and on and on.
  • Justin Fletcher's character Mr. Tumble on The BBC's Something Special is an old-school physical clown.
  • Studio100:
  • Ecuadorian clown Tiko Tiko, who was even offended when Last Week Tonight with John Oliver used a clip of his visiting president Rafael Correa to make Monster Clown jokes. ("When a clown calls you grotesque, it hurts!")
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): One of the titular "Five Characters in Search of an Exit" is an interesting take on this trope. He's not scary in any sense of the word — but he is extremely cynical and borderline depressed, making darkly humorous comments about the group's situation and occasionally breaking down, revealing that he's just as frightened and confused as the rest of the group.
  • The Two Ronnies once did a Tear Jerker song "People Don't Want Clowns No More" about how this trope is supposedly dying, and how clowns used to be the most beloved part of the circus. Season 10, Episode 6.

  • The Billy Joel song "Lenningrad" tells the story of Viktor (an actual person whom Joel met while touring the Soviet Union in 1987), a former member of the Red Army who, after seeing the horrors of war, became a clown, and found happiness bringing joy to children.
  • Charles Mingus' "The Clown" is a tragic version - a clown who genuinely only wants to make people laugh, but gradually comes to realise that the audience is so tired of the Non-Ironic Clown (in 1957, mind) that they'll only laugh when he actually physically hurts himself.
  • Another tragic example: "Mr. Bojangles" from the Jerry Jeff Walker song of the same name. A beloved dancing clown who worked county fairs for 15 years, he now finds himself out of work and coping with irrelevance. The dog who accompanied him died long ago, he's reduced to working bars for measly tips, and he's perpetually jailed for vagrancy and drunkenness. The song ends with him being recognized by someone who begs him to dance just once more.
  • Puddles Pity Party is the one man act of Puddles, a Sad Clown originally from Atlanta. His persona is that of a clown that never speaks, at least until he gets on stage. He isn't above clowning around, but he's more famed for his singing.
  • The Saltatio Mortis song "Wo sind die Clowns" (Where are the clowns) is about how the media tends to dramatize everything and asks for more fun and laughter, and while the costumes of the band in the music videos look a bit like Monster Clowns, they definitely just want fun and nothing evil.
  • Singer and creator of Alfred J. Kwak Herman Van Veen is very fond of clowns. One of his well-known public personas is dressing up as a clown and entertaining children and guests everywhere in the Netherlands and Germany. He even made a song called "De Clowns" and created an entire album in 1988 in both Dutch and German that's focused on a group of friendly circus clowns. He also made a song called "Klitschnasse Clowns" in 1974.

  • They appear on Williams Electronics' "rollercoaster" series of pinball tables:
    • Comet has a large clown above the entrance to the Fun House.
    • Cyclone:
      • The Mystery Wheel on the backglass is operated by a clown.
      • A large clown face appears on the playfield, with the flippers formed by two of his fingers.
      • A clown can be seen on the sides of the cabinet, giving out balloons.
    • Hurricane: The game is dominated by Non-Ironic Clowns everywhere. The only non-Non-Ironic Clown in the game is the Monster Clown face painted on the rollecoaster cars.
      Reviewer: "Hurricane should be more appropriately named 'Clowns Go Crazy'."
  • The clown on the "Show Time" table of Super Pinball II: The Amazing Odyssey is a classic example.
  • Despite the edgy name of Psycho Pinball, there's a totally harmless clown prominently featured on the "Psycho" table.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Super Muñeco, one of the most successful luchadors in the history of lucha libre, at least when it comes to apuestas. Because he was a small luchador who relied on comedy, many of his opponents resented having to lose to him and would make sure to beat him up for real before allowing Muñeco to win. In turn, watching the funny man get beaten to a pulp and stretched nearly to his limit no doubt caused fans to sympathize with him and made Muñeco even more popular, therefor ensuring he would keep being booked to beat most of his opponents.
  • Japanese Women's Pro-Wrestling Project and All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling's Command Bolshoi is fun, not evil, and no attempts are made to make her look scary. She is among the most competent veterans around and as such, not the butt of many common clown jokes but she's still used to appeal to children.
  • Originally, Doink the Clown was portrayed as a sadistic and tricky evil clown. He eventually turned a new leaf and tweaked his pranks to be less cruel and more comedic. Unfortunately, this killed everything that had made the gimmick work in the first place. That, and Matt Borne leaving due to his drug/alcohol problems.
  • In the late 1990s AAA had a tecnico group made entirely of clowns, Los Payasos.
  • Bolivian wrestler Super Payaso is not overtly threatening in anyway and is loved by kids, partly because he's a pretty good wrestler but mostly because he's funny.
  • CHIKARA's Shane Storm was a wrestling unionized traffic regulator, but, his mask certainly had this kind of look. Then he turned heel and became STIGMA, who didn't fit this trope at all.
  • Outlaw Inc dressed up as clowns while celebrating reDRagon's regaining of the Ring of Honor Tag Team title belts in 2013. Subverted in that Homicide and Eddie Kingston were planning to ambush them. Then Double Subverted in that Homicide and Kingston continued to make use of clown imagery as baby faces.
  • Crazy Steve usually isn't an example of this trope but in TNA he is an unorthodox wrestler that is otherwise a just a silly clown who only scares Robbie E, who has a long standing fear of clowns. The other two clowns of the Menagerie are monster clowns however. They are gigantic and their only purpose is to intimidate. Rosemary, for worse or better, sought to return Steve to his ironic roots with The Decay.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Lew Zealand from The Muppet Show. He has an odd sense of humor, but he is one of the good guys.
  • Joey the Clown of Punch and Judy fame. Whereas the star of the show, Mr. Punch, is a Sociopathic Hero and sometimes depicted as an outright Monster Clown, his friend Joey is a cheerful, harmless prankster who's generally friendly with both Punch and the audience. Being one of the few genuinely sympathetic characters in the show, Joey the Clown is even usually safe from Punch's lethal beatings; he may in some performances get bopped on the head but unlike almost all the other characters he pretty much always survives to the end.

    Tabletop Games 

  • The tragic clown opera Pagliacci (although it must be said that, even if nobody in it is a modern "monster clown" psycho, none of them are nice people, with the possible exception of Beppe).
  • Another tragic example is Jack Point from the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Yeomen of the Guard (the pair's only non-comedic work, because Sullivan wanted to do something serious for once).
  • William Shakespeare's various jester characters, such as the six performers in A Midsummer Night's Dream (of whom, Nick Bottom gets the largest role); Feste from Twelfth Night; and alas, Poor Yorick of Hamlet, who never appears on stage from the neck down.
  • Cirque du Soleil, as noted under the Real Life listing, uses lots of these, but Corteo is actually about them; most of the major characters are turn-of-the-20th-century circus clowns. A stated goal of this show was to present funny and lovable clowns to audiences, especially children, who may never have seen them as such.
  • Clowns are a huge part of Philadelphia's beloved New Year's Day Mummers Parade.
  • In Chinese opera, there are four role types, Sheng, Dan, Jing, and Chou. Chou is usually translated into "clown", and the role usually includes minor, harmlessly comical characters. Legend says that Emperor Xuanzong of Tang likes to play the Chou role himself, so traditionally a Chou actor would be the off-stage leader of a troupe.

    Theme Parks 
  • Glico's Great Adventure, a defunct indoor theme park in Glorietta back in the 1980s to 1990s is this which appears in its logo.

  • The LEGO Minifigures line includes a variety of clowns, all of them sincere performers of comedy. Even the Sad Clown. In fact, LEGO as a whole had never made a frightening clown character — with the exception of the (licensed) Joker — until the Nexo Knights line in 2016, where the Big Bad is a Villainous Harlequin. But even he started out as a well-meaning jester who only turned bad because he was upset that nobody found him entertaining.
  • Playmobil and Playmobil Figures have never featured clowns that were meant to be anything but innocent and fun-loving. Amusingly, though, it took them more than forty years for them to make a female clown, who debuted in the eighth series of aforementioned figures in 2015.
  • Bozo the Clown had tons of merchandise back in the day, but probably the most widely remembered piece is the big inflatable Bozo that you could bop in the face, he'd fall down, and then immediately spring back up so you could bop him again.
  • Emmett Kelly dolls and figurines are a popular item among grown-up doll collectors.

    Video Games 
  • One of the possible villagers in Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Animal Crossing: New Horizons is Pietro, a sheep who's always in clown makeup. He has the "Smug" personality type, which makes him friendly but a narcissist and Know-Nothing Know-It-All. While he acts the same as all other Smug villagers, his appearance makes the various times that he'll make a fool out of himself seem very fitting.
  • ARMS: Lola Pop is a brightly-coloured Fighting Clown with a peppy, cheerful personality. In an interview, the developers were rather surprised at the initial negative reaction from the American localization team towards her concept art, as coulrophobia is uncommon in Japan.
  • Ayo the Clown is a straight example of this. He's a cute little clown on a quest to find his missing dog, Bo.
  • Ballz: Boomer, the air-humping clown.
  • Chrono Cross has Skelly, who is a bit of an odd case of this. Appearance-wise, he's extremely monstrous, what with being a skeleton clown and all. Personality-wise, however, he's incredibly friendly, eager to lighten the mood, and a total Momma's Boy.
  • Cuphead naturally features a few of these in the Amusement Park-themed Inkwell Isle 2:
    • A juggling clown NPC gives you a coin if you can perform a 4x combo with the parry move.
    • The anthropomorphic barber poles that make up the barbershop quartet, who are glad to perform for Cuphead and Mugman, resemble clowns due to their white heads and red noses.
    • Double subverted with Beppi the Clown. He's one of the game's bosses who made a Deal with the Devil in the past. But in the Good ending, when Cuphead and Mugman destroy the bosses' contracts, he joins the bosses in congratulating the two. Like the other bosses, he seems to be not that bad of a guy when he isn't fighting to save his soul.
  • Dark Cloud 2 goes both ways. While you do spend the early portions of the game fighting an evil clown and his circus troupe... you can also unlock a clown outfit for the male protagonist, build clown themed parts for his Ridepod, and be greeted by a perfectly friendly jester fond of hiding in dungeon treasure chests. He might even hook you up with above average loot!
  • Donkey Kong 64 has Lanky Kong, one of the playable protagonists. He has a properly clown-like appearance and personality, and uses his wacky abilities to fight enemies and solve puzzles. The German website for the game also mentions that Lanky’s silliness is always appreciated by his fellow Kong members (especially by Chunky and Kiddy, two of the younger Kongs).
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest III: Male Jesters/Goof-offs/Jesters dress as clowns and spend more time goofing around and trying to make the party laugh than fighting the enemy.
    • Dragon Quest XI has Sylvando, a flamboyant travelling performer. It's rare for any NPC that mentions him to speak of him less than glowingly. Folks can't seem to help but gush over how dashing, charming and fun he is.
  • Dropsy has a particularly sad example. The main character, Dropsy the Clown, is bloated, ugly and monstrous-looking, having all the visual features necessary to be a Monster Clown. But he clearly suffers from some sort of mental disability, has an innocent and child-like demeanor, and is always trying his hardest to make people happy, even when everyone thinks he's a demented freak.
  • The Jester from Figment 2: Creed Valley is an unusual example. Although they initially seem like a Monster Clown, they actually represent the Mind's childish innocence, and they only became antagonistic because they were abandoned and treated like a monster. After Dusty reasons with them, they redeem themselves and go back to being the fun, innocent clown they once were.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach: The Daycare Attendant is a grinning animatronic in a clown suit that takes various forms. Two of its forms fit this trope to an extent:
    • Its Sun form, despite being rather overbearing about it, genuinely wants to entertain Gregory and keep things in order. Its Moon form, however, not so much.
    • Zigzagged with its true form, Eclipse. On one hand, their personality is completely kind and gentle, without any of Sun's overbearingness. On the other hand, their state of heavy disrepair makes them look even more terrifying than before, so their new personality probably wouldn't be enough to help them appeal to kids.
  • Gauntlet: Dark Legacy has a Jester as one of the main classes. While a zany prankster who fights with slapstick, the Jester is portrayed as a well meaning hero who wants to undo the Big Bad's corruption of his realm into a Circus of Fear. One of the Jester titles is even Clown.
  • Hitman: Blood Money has a clown at a kid's birthday party whose clothes you can steal. The protagonist, 47, even once won a 'Clown of the Year' award. Of course, given the nature of the game, you may end up a Monster Clown instead.
  • Honk has you play as Lola, a kindhearted clown whose job is to help her friends with their circus performances when a mysterious phantom is sabotaging the circus. Being a clown, you have an infinite supply of cream pies to throw and can honk your clown nose to make noise, both of which are integral to puzzles.
  • Kick Man: The protagonist is one, shown both on the screen itself and in some of the promotional art, riding on a unicycle to pop balloons.
  • The title character in the Kid Klown series of games is, as the name indicates, a Kid Hero clown. His adventures range from saving his family of equally friendly clowns from an evil magician in Kid Klown In Night Mayor World to rescuing a princess while taking many Amusing Injuries in an obstacle course in Kid Klown In Crazy Chase.
  • King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow: Jollo is a downplayed example on the "clown" part. While he does work as a Court Jester for Princess Cassima, he doesn't wear facepaint or a Happy Harlequin Hat. The rest of his outfit is rather flamboyant and jester-y, though. And although he has a goofy, Ed Wynn-esque voice, his behavior isn't too clownish either. He is in fact fairly intelligent, but nonetheless very kind and decent to Alexander. His Happy Circus Music theme helps, too.
  • Kirby: Triple Deluxe: Subverted with the Circus ability. Yes, it is Kirby doing tricks like tumbling, juggling, and making balloon animals, but he's doing these things to attack, not to entertain.
  • Scratchin' Melodii has Synthz McWave, an expy of Ronald McDonald, owner of the McWave's burger joint, and is shown to be a nice, laid-back guy, never seen without a smile, who happily teaches the main character Melodii the ropes of being a fry cook when they get a job at McWave's.
  • The title character in the classic arcade game Mr. Do!
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All features Moe, a friendly clown who loves to laugh... and we don't mean like that.
  • The Pokémon Mime Jr. resembles an adorable (albeit mischevious) child clown.
    • Popplio takes on quite the uncanny clown appearance, complete with red nose and frilled neck, and even uses its nose bubbles as makeshift balloons to bounce around or upon. Interestingly enough, while Popplio's first evolved form, Brionne, retain's Popplio's clown-like features, its final form, Primarina, loses them altogether and instead resembles a mermaid.
  • Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask features a whole circus of legitimate clowns, including Juggles, a philosopher clown who spends his free time pondering clown tropes. When you first find Juggles, he's wondering why clowns spraying seltzer is funny when spraying water has the same effect.
  • Space Station 13: The clowns present are meant to be this trope in a slight subversion of the game's otherwise quite Black Comedy, but oftentimes have to end up acting more resourcefully in order to receive a laugh.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Lemmy Koopa, one of the Koopaling siblings, has a colorful mohawk, pink Facial Markings, and is usually seen balancing on a circus ball. While he is technically a Villainous Harlequin, as he serves main villain Bowser and fights against the Mario Bros., it's stated in the manual for Super Mario Bros. 3 that he would rather join the circus than commit evil acts (which he actually does in Paper Mario: Color Splash). Also, he is easily the goofiest and least intimidating of the Koopalings, and attacks with rubber balls and colorful Cartoon Bombs, in contrast to his siblings' more hardcore weaponry.
    • Super Mario Odyssey: One of the outfits you can buy for Mario in the Luncheon Kingdom is a clown outfit. It manages to turn Mario, who is already Fun Personified, into one of these.
  • TinkerQuarry: Camime is a cheerful, fun-loving clown poodle who lives in a circus-themed room and sets up minigames and puzzles for the player. Camime is completely devoted to being kind and fun. This devotion is so strong that the user who submitted her as a Contest Winner Cameo says she has no idea how dark the world she's in actually is, and "thinks she's in a more kid-friendly game."

    Web Animation 
  • BIGTOP BURGER revolves around the titular Bigtop Burger, a food truck that sells burgers with a circus clown motif, which includes the workers all wearing clown makeup. Even the somewhat unnerving and questionably human Steve is always kind to customers in his own bizarre way.
  • In Happy Tree Friends, the purple deer Mime is a mime act mixed with a clown act. While he usually does mime routines, he also does standard party and circus clown acts such as balloon animals, juggles, and riding a unicycle. His debut episode even has him play the role of a hospital clown for Toothy.
  • Helluva Boss:
    • Fizzarolli is a pretty straight example, despite literally being a demon clown from Hell. He has a low, rough voice like he smokes several packs a day, *does* smoke, and his repertoire is geared towards an adult audience, but Fizzarolli has been a talented entertainer by trade ever since he was a boy. And if he gets caught in a sticky situation, he has zero ability to defend himself. He initally comes off as an abrasive jerk to Blitzo, but the two have a sordid history.
  • Coni Confetti of Idol Corp is a VTuber with a clown aesthetic. Though she is not a traditional clown in terms of performance, she certainly qualifies in that she entertains her audience by fooling around.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!: Steve attends a clown class run by the most intense and most driven teacher ever. He's not surprised at all to find out the teacher is Roger.
  • Animaniacs: The Jerry Lewis-esque clown in the episode "Clown and Out." (A few of the characters view him as a Monster Clown, however, as they have "clownophobia."note ) He's eventually tricked into entering a rocket ship and blasted to Mars, where he finds he's much more popular among Martian children than Earthling children.
  • The Backyardigans: One episode has Pablo, Uniqua and Austin as clowns who befriend Tyrone as a circus ringleader who dislikes clowns and excludes them from his circus. Unfortunate for him, his circus train leaves without him, forcing him to seek the aid of the trio. He starts out irritated by their antics, but by the end warms up to them and allows them to perform in his show.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Subverted in the episode "Be A Clown"; the Joker disguises himself as a party clown by stealing the outfit of an actual party clown and he manages to pull out some good laughter before he decides to drop of his disguise. Especially the kids love "Jekko the Clown". The party guests don't learn that the Joker is disguised since he leaves the party before the birthday cake explodes (and his plan is foiled by Bruce Wayne, no less) and the birthday kid in question looks up to "Jekko" because he wants to become a magician himself, going so far to run away from home and follow "Jekko". But once "Jekko" starts acting Ax-Crazy, the kid questions him and "Jekko" reveals his true identity.
  • Bob's Burgers: Elaine from "Some Kind of Fender Benderful" is a clown-for-hire who is shown wearing her facepaint even in street clothes because she was on her way to a performance. She gladly performs for the Belcher kids, and she mentions that she can't "turn off" being a clown when Bob tries to have a serious discussion with her. She also turns out to be completely innocent of the four-way car accident that causes the episode's conflict.
  • As well as having records and a TV show, Bozo the Clown also had a cartoon feature where he was either heroic or mischievous, but never scary.
  • Francois the clown flea in the Tex Avery-directed MGM cartoon, "The Flea Circus".
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends has a clown-based imaginary friend named Jokey as a one-shot character.
  • Garfield and Friends: Binky the Clown is another parody. Unlike Krusty, he's passionate about being a clown. And although he's not monstrous or evil, he's incredibly obnoxious and irritating to just about everybody. Played far straighter in the comics, where Garfield genuinely enjoys Binky's antics. That is, when he isn't the target of Binky's antics.
  • Zigzagged with the clown in the Hamster & Gretel episode “Birthday Besties”. At first he’s believed to be the culprit of a series of birthday-related crimes because he looks angry, but it turns out he’s innocent and “angry clown” is just his character (as “happy clown” and “sad clown” have been done to death, bit “angry clown” is an untapped market). The actual culprit is a sentient bouncy castle, and the clown helps to apprehend it.
  • Disney's clay-animated series JoJo's Circus features a cast of clowns, including the titular Jojo who is a young girl who goes to clown school.
  • Koko The Clown, one of the earliest cartoon characters created by Max Fleischer. He's definitely mischievous (the series' later title change to Inkwell Imps is well-earned), sometimes bordering on complete asshole (particularly to his animator - but to be fair, the animator torments him right back), but ultimately just a friendly jokester. His later appearances in the Betty Boop and Talkartoon series tone down his rude behaviors, eventually making him into just a harmless, bumbling Nice Guy.
  • The 1980s Sugar Bowl series Little Clowns of Happytown.
  • The Loud House: Aside from being a comedian-in-training, Luan Loud also has a job as a party clown. In fact, she runs her own party business, Funny Business Inc., which does all sorts of parties and not just children's birthdays.
  • Mr. Benn: In "Clown", a clown suit saw Mr. Benn join a circus troupe, which had been stopped at a cliff on account of a collapsed bridge. It would take all their combined efforts to build a new bridge to get across so they could get on with their planned show.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998) has Rainbow the Clown, who is this except for the one time he was temporarily turned into an Enemy Mime. The girls still beat him up and toss him into jail after he turns back, but in a later episode he appears at the Powerpuff Girls' birthday party, so it seems he's back into freedom and as cheery as ever.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: Despite having been a Jerkass to everyone in the series (and even expressing unexplained hatred of clowns), Ed Bighead inadvertently discovers his passion for clowning around, and takes on a second job as a clown. He winds up being the most popular one in O-Town, even more so than his boss. Because he's afraid of what others will think, he tries to hide his second job as a clown in one of the most spectacular displays of Does This Remind You of Anything? on television.
  • In a franchise with scores of creepy clowns, Simone from Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? is pointedly not one of those. The worst she gets is whenever she harbors petty grudges towards the guests of the week for random and sundry reasons, but other than that, she's never the culprit in any "Scooby-Doo" Hoax case and earnestly just wants to entertain people.
    • In the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! episode "Nowhere to Hyde", Shaggy and Scooby are hiding from the ghost of Mr. Hyde in a TV set. Shaggy suddenly appears on the screen as kids show clown "Uncle Happy Time" (with Scooby in an aviator helmet as dog star King of the Wild Blue Yonder).
  • Seven Little Monsters: "All the Marbles" has the monsters encounter an amiable clown at the toy store who helpfully informs them how revolving doors work.
  • The Simpsons: Krusty is a cynical parody of this (more specifically, Bozo), yet despite his being greedy and disinterested, his merchandise being low-quality and dangerous and his show's shrinking budget, he manages to bring joy to children and we occasionally see hints that even after everything, he still loves comedy. Even if he is a hack. In a flashback to his childhood, he admitted to his rabbi father that he wanted to be a clown because "I want to make people laugh!"
    • In "Homie the Clown", Krusty opens a clown college dedicated to training non-ironic clowns to serve as Krusty impersonators for local events. Homer Simpson, however, proves to be a fairly poor example after his graduation, quickly tiring of his hosting gigs and being mistreated by children (at least until he realizes he can grift off of being mistaken for Krusty) and, at one point, severely beating a man dressed as "The Krusty Burglar" in front of a crowd of children. When The Mafia takes over the college late in the episode, the "instructors" promote more Monster Clown-ish attitudes by suggesting the clowns rob children after entertaining them.
  • South Park: In Season 2's Conjoined Fetus Lady, during a dodge ball tournament, after Pip brutally injures an opposing player, that player is lying on the ground crying in pain. To keep the audience entertained, two clowns are sent in to carry him on a stretcher (not before doing a silly dance).
  • SpongeBob SquarePants has these sometimes:
    • Squidward hires a friendly-looking clown in the episode "As Seen On TV" when making the Krusty Krab commercial because, according to him, "this job gets very stressful." (The clown is even overjoyed when he's allowed to stay after everyone else gets fired.)
    • Mr. Krabs dresses as a clown called "Krabby the Clown" in the episode "Krabby Land," although only to scam the children.
    • One of the comedy acts in the opening of "Squirrel Jokes" was a clown named Dougie Williams whose act consisted of "forgetting the jokes and skipping to the part where he throws pies at people." He gives SpongeBob a brief pep talk before he leaves.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil:
    • In "Cheer Up, Star", one of Marco's first attempts at cheering up Star involves dressing up like a clown. Unfortunately, he comes off as a Monster Clown due to his decision to sneak into her bedroom at night and give her the Scary Flashlight Face.
      Marco: I thought you liked clowns, sorry!
    • In "Royal Pain", one of the strange creatures in Star's room that keeps her company is a friendly, clown-like fellow named Kevin.
    • Bon Bon was a friendly clown.
  • Bozette Slapstick from Totally Spies! started out as one, but her plan to turn everyone in the world into clowns with a special makeup all because she thinks no one appreciates clowns anymore makes her a Villainous Harlequin. Alex, who likes clowns, sympathizes with her, but she says that's going too far.

    Real Life 
  • In the 19th Century, Joe Grimaldi (Joey the Clown).
  • Also in the 19th century, Gaspard Baptiste Debureau, who was turned into one of the main characters of Marcel Carné's classic film, Les Enfants du Paradis.
  • Emmet Kelly, Sr. and Jr., both of whom have taken up the mantle of Weary Willie the sad hobo clown.
  • Avner the Eccentric
  • Oleg Popov aka "the Sunshine Clown". Started working in 1949, active until he died on tour in November 2016.
  • While the mere fact that they are ball-jointed dolls might push them into Creepy Doll territory for most people, the Iplehouse Tania Pierrot is seemingly clown-themed and played for Rule of Cute.
  • Hunter Doherty "Patch" Adams, although unlike his movie depiction, he is still a doctor first, and clown second.
  • Charlie Cairoli. His son Charlie Junior took over his dad's role after he (Charlie Senior) passed away. Junior is currently still working.
  • Late Quebec performer Marc Favreau's most iconic character, Sol the clown, who was very much of the "sad hobo clown" variety. Notably, his shows were almost completely non-physical one-man-shows where the naive but optimistic Sol would describe, with puns and malapropers, a world filled with seemingly happy and positive things that were actually anything but. The kicker? It was OUR world, with all its social injustices laid bare. A case where both the clown and his audience had to laugh so as not to cry.
  • Wavy Gravy is an old-school hippie peace activist clown. You can hear his voice on the Woodstock album offering "breakfast in bed for 400,000". His Commune the Hog Farm provided free food and security for the festival in the form of a "Please Force" (Please don't do that, please do this instead) and said they'd enforce it with "cream pies and seltzer bottles."
  • The Patati-Patatá duo of Brazilian clowns are completely non-ironic and family-friendly. Despite what you'd think, they are also very well-liked by Brazilians.
  • Walt Disney World used to have a clown group called "The Giggle Gang Clown Troupe" that performed in front of Storybook Circus when New Fantasyland first opened to the public in 2012.
  • Clowns Without Borders, an organization of professional clowns that travel around the world to crisis situations and refugee camps to perform and cheer up the children affected by them.
  • On Red Nose Day, begun by the charity Comic Relief, comedians, celebrities, and other folks put on the most recognizable bit of a clown's Iconic Outfit— a bright red nose— to raise funds to alleviate child poverty.
  • Rodeo clowns are still widely used during those events. They actually play an important role in distracting livestock (namely bulls) if/when the rider falls off.
  • Played Straight AND Subverted with serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Despite being known as a "Killer Clown", his clown personas were rarely involved in his murders. His clown schtick was simply for entertaining and delighting children in parties and other social functions (that said, his makeup, especially as 'Pogo', was pretty inadvertantly creepy).
  • This trope is quite common in Latin America (as well as the Hispanic community of the United States), and a lot of variety shows and/or children's shows in multiple countries in the region have featured at least one clown sidekick assisting the host and pleasing the audience with their antics. Mexican actor/comedian Víctor Trujillo's character Brozo the Creepy Clown is one of the few examples that seems to border on this and Monster Clown.
  • Very much truth in television amongst professional clowns. There's even a set of "Clown Commandments" passed down by the international clowning associations, and they demand strict adherence from all clowns to the ideals of being polite, courteous, professional and inclusive of others at all times. A typical set of Clown Commandments can be seen here, taken from the Clowns of America International website.


Loonette the Clown

The early years of Claire Redfield.

How well does it match the trope?

4.25 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / NonIronicClown

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