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"Oh, Crap!" Smile

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Preserver: How could I ever think trash like you was worth saving?
Lobo: I got a cute smile?

So you're a prankster or villain whose prank or Evil Plan has been exposed. Everyone is giving you a Death Glare, and you know you're in serious trouble. What do you do? You put on a big smile to save a little face. The more disgraceful or outright evil your plan was, the more likely this is to fail, and for Laser-Guided Karma to come a-knockin'.

The Not-So-Innocent Whistle is an alternative to this kind of situation. Broken Smile may overlap if the smile starts as genuine. Related to Cheshire Cat Grin.



    open/close all folders 

  • A commercial for Orbit gum has a guy serving jury duty giving this expression as his phone goes off in the courtroom.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Aggretsuko: Near the end of Season 3, Komiya can only smile and squirm in fear when Ton catches him watching OTMGirls at work.
  • During the scene in Fist of the North Star in which Rei debuts, he goes up against a guy who uses nunchucks. After he attacks the guy, we get a shot of his face and he gives one of these before it's revealed that Rei has cut his hands off.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Cats Don't Dance:
  • The walrus from the "Walrus and the Carpenter" segment of Alice in Wonderland does one before the carpenter chases him for eating all the oysters.
  • Mickey Mouse in Fantasia does this when he returns the sorcerer's hat to him. It quickly fades in the face of Yensid's Death Glare.
  • In The Little Mermaid, Sebastian does this when he realizes he accidentally revealed Ariel's secret to King Triton and pressed the latter's Berserk Button.
    Sebastian: Humans? Heh-heh. Who said anything about humans?
  • In Aladdin, Jafar tries this, along with saying "All this can be explained" after he's discovered to be a traitor.
  • In Mulan (pictured), check out the look on Mulan's face when Captain Shang catches her with an arrow with the fruit she's supposed to be targeting already skewered on the end of it (courtesy of her pal Mushu trying to "help" her).
  • Doctor Facilier flashes one of these at the end of The Princess and the Frog after his talisman gets broken and his "Friends" come to collect their payment.
  • Prince Hans from Frozen has one for a split second when Princess Anna declares that she wants to invite Hans' twelve older brothers to live with them after their Fourth Date Marriage. This gives credit to Hans's implication that they are Big Brother Bullies.
    • In Olaf's Frozen Adventure, as the sisters go through their old trunks, Anna asks Elsa what's in her trunk. Elsa says mostly gloves, and Anna assumes she's joking, "sure, rows and rows of satin gloves." This is her reaction when the chest is opened and she sees exactly that.
  • Flik from A Bug's Life does this after he accidentally destroys the ants' offering to the grasshoppers, getting the colony in serious trouble.
  • The final shot of Toy Story is Woody and Buzz exchanging these directly after they find out that Andy got a puppy for Christmas. (Even better is that Woody had just remarked to Buzz: "What could Andy possibly get that is worse than you?")
  • At the end of Zootopia, when Officers Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde pull over street racer, whom Wilde recognizes as Flash, a sloth friend of his previously encountered at the DMV.
    Nick Wilde: Well, Flash, Flash, Hundred-Yard-Dash!
    Flash: [very slowly smiling] Niiiiick!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Deconstructed in Along Came Polly:
    Sandy Lyle: Check out her expression — she's terrified.
    Reuben Feffer: She's smiling.
    Sandy Lyle: I'm a student of acting, Ruben — she's fakin' it. The woman got spooked, she needed to explore, which is exactly what you're gonna do — you've been given the gift of freedom, don't turn your back on that.
    Reuben Feffer: I don't want freedom, Sandy, I wanna be married!
  • Big Trouble in Little China has Jack give one of these when Thunder no-sells a few punches to the face, just before he gets thrown down the hall.
  • In Home Alone, Marv grins in fear as he pokes his head through the doggy door and stares down the barrel of a BB gun.
  • Burn After Reading features a severe Black Comedy example: Chad's immediate response to getting caught while breaking and entering is to give a big, goofy grin just before getting shot in the head.
  • Garfield: After Odie impresses a dog show with a dance that Garfield made up himself, Garfield becomes so agitated at Odie being given so much attention instead of him, that he accidentally causes an enormous mess in Jon's house. When Jon comes in and sees Garfield in the middle of the mess, Garfield pulls this trope and then gets thrown outside.
  • James Bond
    • In Moonraker, James Bond gives a hilariously wan little grin when he first runs into Jaws.
    • In Spectre, James Bond gives one to a Spectre henchman after being outed by Franz Oberhauser in the Spectre meeting in Italy. Not long after this, he punches said henchman, then hurls him down a storey onto the table where the aforementioned meeting was being held.
  • In Coming to America, Prince Akeem is a genuinely kind and sweet man who approaches everyone he meets with a big friendly smile. Unfortunately, in The Big Rotten Apple, even his charisma usually fails to win over the gruff residents. Whenever his attempt to charm someone is met with hostility, he keeps that big smile plastered-on in a desperate, apologetic way.
  • In Thor: Ragnarok, Loki has this expression when Thor exposes his masquerade and makes him turn into himself instead of impersonating Odin. Weirdly, "Odin" had become so complacent since the events of the previous film that no-one is surprised, let alone so much as reacts, when the ruse is exposed.
  • In Back to the Future Part II, when Marty McFly first faces Griff Tannen and his gang in 2015:
    Griff: What's wrong, McFly, chicken?
    (Data plays a chicken clucking sound-effect)
    Marty: (turning around) What did you call me, Griff?
    Griff: Chicken, McFly!
    Marty: (chuckles sheepishly) ...chicken.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Top Gear, Series 9, Episode 4, Richard Hammond's initially authentic smile of excitement morphed into one of these, and then into a Broken Smile, when the Reliant Robin Space Shuttle failed to separate from its external fuel-tank and returned to earth in a massive fireball.
  • In the "Night at the Oprah" episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, after an angered Will, who was forced to sit in the audience of an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show that the family was appearing on, calls out guest Uncle Phil by hypothetically asking about flying his relative out to the show just to embarrass him in front of his girl.note  When the camera cuts back for Phil's reaction, he has this type of smile on his face.
  • In the M*A*S*H episode, "Officer of the Day", Hawkeye says Flagg (an overenthusiastic CIA operative) will take Hawkeye's North Korean patient off to be executed "over my dead body". Flagg responds with a menacing glare.
    Hawkeye:(grinning nervously) Ha. Let me put that another way.

    Web Animation 
  • Rocket & Groot: After forcing Rocket to take a bath in order to get into a restaurant for a bounty, Groot gives him a nervous smile when they find out that the man who wouldn't let them in was talking about Groot's hygiene and not Rocket's.

    Western Animation 
  • Dexter's Laboratory: Near the end of the Justice Friends short "TV Super Pals", Major Glory and Val Halen pull one when they anger Krunk by destroying the TV.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends' Blooregard Q. Kazoo is very prone to these.
  • In Garfield's Halloween Adventure, as Garfield and Odie try to hide in a cupboard from pirate ghosts, Odie accidentally sneezes so loud that it not only gets the ghosts' attention, but it also blows the doors open. Garfield and Odie both grin sheepishly as they close the doors again, and Garfield says, "Maybe they didn't see us...". Cue the Scare Chord as the pirate ghosts pop their heads in the cupboard through the door!
  • In How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, Max gives a great one, along with a friendly wave, as he unexpectedly winds up face-to-face with the Grinch after a loop-de-loop during their descent down to Whoville.
  • Kaeloo: Mr. Cat does this very often when trying to convince Bad Kaeloo not to beat him up.
  • Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil: Kick does this at the end of "Locked Out" upon meeting his dad's Groundedbot.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Bugs Bunny does this in the cartoon What's Opera, Doc?, when Elmer Fudd catches on to Bugs' tricks — right at the moment all hell is about to break loose.
    • Daffy Duck also does one in My Favorite Duck. After a law against harming ducks allows him to torment Porky Pig mercilessly, they come across a billboard stating the law has been revoked. Cue Daffy nervously grinning as Porky looms towards him with an enormous Slasher Smile.
    • In Big House Bunny, prison guard Yosemite Sam sees through Bugs' warden disguise and chases after him out of the office and then back into it. He spots the real warden seated at his desk and, still thinking it's Bugs, hits him on the head — only afterwards realizing that he had attacked the real warden and smiles nervously as he sees the warden giving him a Death Glare.
  • In Looney Tunes Cartoons: In "Bounty Bunny", Yosemite Sam spends most of the story trying to arrest Bugs to collect a five-thousand-dollar bounty only to learn Bugs isn't the bunny the bounty has been placed on. When Bugs points out it means Sam abducted him, Sam gives a smile and tries to walk away but ends up being arrested and sent to the wanted bunny's cell.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • In "Rogercop", Cat Noir briefly sports one when the titular villain declares him and Ladybug outlaws and sics the cops on them.
    • In "Gorizilla", Adrien (a famous Fashion Model) sports an epic one when he runs into one of his most rabid fans — which rapidly escalates into him being chased by a mob of autograph-seeking fans:
      Wayhem: Adrien?! The Adrien Agreste?! This. Is. Awesome!!
      Adrien: (nervous laugh) Okay, bye.
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • Blossom makes this face in "Sun Scream" right before getting slapped on the arm by one of the villains of the episode.
    • Buttercup in "Moral Decay" during the dentist scene, and when she makes this face, we get a rather gross shot of her jagged teeth.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Worst Episode Ever", Bart and Milhouse do this when they accidentally cost Comic Book Guy the chance to get rare Star Wars stuff from Martin's mom.
    • In "Secrets of a Successful Marriage", Marge kicks Homer out of the home after he publicly told some embarrassing secrets about her. After she supposedly recalls verbal memories of heartwarming moments of Homer while on a drive, she discovers that he was hiding in the backseat with a cardboard tube, he gives her this smile and she angrily throws him out of the car.
  • Superman: The Animated Series: In the episode "The Main Man", Lobo reaches the docking bay of the Preserver's ship and is moments away from freedom, where the Preserver confronts him, transforming into a massive monster. As he has Lobo in his grip, they have the exchange at the top of the page.
  • Thomas & Friends: Parodied in the episode "Goodbye, Sir Topham Hatt". Fearing that Sir Topham Hatt is stepping down as Sodor Railways' Fat Controller, the engines do everything in their power to ensure that there's absolutely no confusion and delay, leaving a bewildered Sir Topham Hatt speechless by how smoothly the line is running itself without any accidents. At one point when he's about to call for all the engines' attention, he is shocked to see all the engines in attendance before he can even say anything, leading to this reaction.
  • The Transformers: Prime episode "Patch" sees Statrscream crack one of these when he realizes Megatron is inside his head and going through his memories using a cortical psychic patch to find out why he returned.
  • WordGirl: In the title sequence, the titular superheroine stops one of Tobey's robots from rampaging throughout the town. When WordGirl flies down to Tobey, he smiles awkwardly as she snatches his remote away. (This also subtly conveys Tobey's awkward Villainous Crush on WordGirl.)

    Real Life 
  • The "Hide The Pain Harold" meme is based on this, based on a picture of a man whose eyes don't match his smile, as if fighting back a mental breakdown.
  • People do this in real life all the time as a reflexive reaction to stress, along with Corpsing, hence why many scoldings include the line "wipe that smile off your face." It's thought to be a holdover from our primate ancestors, and chimpanzees and other apes still exhibit a "grin of fear" when stressed.


Video Example(s):


Spear and Magic Helmet

When Bugs mocks Elmer's claims of his magic helmet, the hunter gives him a demonstration of its power. After seeing it reduce the tree he was standing under to a cinder, Bugs runs for it while Elmer realizes he was talking to the "wabbit".

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / HatOfPower

Media sources: