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The Pollyanna
aka: Pollyanna

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Her glass is so full that it spilled over into two more articles.

"Although I've been mishandled by a demon, I'm determined to remain optimistic, no matter what!"
Polly "Pollyanna" Whittier after being raped by The Invisible Man, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, vol 1 issue 2

For the book this archetype is named for, see Pollyanna.

Blithe Spirit Wide Eyed Idealist characters who undergo various hardships, losing almost everything they hold dear, and yet seem never to lose their sunny disposition. Think Happy Thoughts may be how these characters do this.

When these characters are played for drama (which usually entails a Break the Cutie situation), you sometimes get the feeling they're conducting some serious repression in order to continue functioning, and we are likely to see them break down; on the other hand, their infinite patience and good humor may give them away as All Loving Heroes. It certainly is a subconscious choice to view everything optimistically, but a lack of any understanding of the real bleakness helps and averts the aforementioned serious repression though not necessarily the insanity part. If they're members of a group that The Hero appeals to for help, count on them being the Least Is First.

When they're played for laughs, the fates the characters endure are too horrendous to actually happen in real life, and yet they're too stupid, or insane, or both, to realize how God-awful their situation is and how miserable they ought to be; it seems as though the whole universe is out to Break the Cutie, and failing. (Although sometimes they just need a Rage Breaking Point.)

The Trope Namer is the title character of Eleanor Porter's 1913 novel Pollyanna, who was made famous in the 1960 Walt Disney movie, and was mocked by Alan Moore in the aforementioned throwaway joke in the pages of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. However, it was popularized over a century earlier by Dr. Pangloss from the novel (and later Broadway musical) Candide, who is always explaining why getting kidnapped by pirates or sold into slavery is ultimately for the best. Indeed, the adjective Panglossian has been in use since the 1800s.

May be an unstoppable force of goodness and optimism if (if female) she's a Princess Classic. Both are likely to cheerfully say Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers! In a Four-Temperament Ensemble, this character is usually Sanguine.

Compare Genki Girl, who is excessively energetic, and Plucky Girl, an action-oriented variant of The Pollyanna. See also Manic Pixie Dream Girl, for when a female character adopts this attitude to fix the life of the male protagonist.

Contrast Stepford Smiler where this trope is just a facade and Jade-Colored Glasses, its polar counterpart. Knight in Sour Armor for someone with a similar attitude but a lot more snark and pessimism. Polar opposite of The Eeyore and Broken Bird.

May overlap with Angst? What Angst?.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Comic Strips 
  • One strip of The Far Side shows a pair of devils lamenting their inability to properly torment one damned soul as he cheerfully toils for his infernal overseers.
    You know, we're just not reaching that guy.
  • Jon Arbuckle of Garfield is unflappable, despite being a Butt-Monkey of the highest order. For most of the strip's history, he got virtually no real respect from anyone; his cat would sass & mistreat him constantly, the women he tried to date would cruelly shoot him down, and aside from his rarely mentioned career as a cartoonist seems to be doing nothing with his life at all. Even so, he only occasionally feels down enough to let the audience know that he's unsure of his place in the universe; the rest of the time he'll gladly collect lint for its own sake, tapdance on the front lawn in his underwear with a pineapple in each hand and a ridiculous hat on his head, or continue to court women, nearly all of whom say the nastiest things to him even if they have only just met him and he used a mere pickup line. Things have gotten marginally better since he finally landed one of those very women, Liz the veterinarian, as his girlfriend.
  • Krazy Kat, aided by Selective Obliviousness.
  • Pig of Pearls Before Swine always keeps a positive attitude even though he is one of many Butt Monkeys of Rat's abuse.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • While it's virtually impossible to have a Pollyanna-type character in a medium where people beat each other up all the time, this can surface when it comes to faces. There have been several instances of a face losing their title or getting beaten up only to be all smiles if they're in action the next week. A notable one was Eve Torres who lost her Divas Championship (her first reign) at the Fatal 4 Way pay-per-view in 2010. The next night on Raw, she was all smiles during her entrance and danced with the Great Khali despite facing the woman who took the title from her. (That attitude could have been because Eve knew that she lost her title in a four-Diva sudden death match.) Though Eve averted this when she lost the Divas title for a second time (this time to Brie Bella) back in 2011 due to the Bella Twins' "Twin Magic" - they had a backstage segment after the match and she was definitely a little upset.
  • Natalya's face persona slipped into this territory more than a few times. During her feud with LayCool in mid-to-late 2010, they started mocking her and claimed she'd inherited her dad's facial hair gene, complete with a photoshopped picture of Natalya with an Anvil beard. Nattie just laughed it off and also shook off all the jibes they got at her family. And when she lost her Divas title to Eve in 2011, she teamed with her the very next night on Raw and there was no tension between them whatsoever. Then after she lost her rematch to Eve, she saved her from a backstage attack.
  • Jillian Hall counts. Despite virtually everyone on the roster complaining about her Hollywood Tone-Deaf gimmick, every week or so Jillian would be out all smiles ready to sing for the audience again. This is especially glaring when you consider everything her character has gone through - losing her Divas' title two minutes after winning it, being dissed by every single celebrity guest host on Raw (including the Osbournes, Jewel, Wayne Brady), being one-upped by a conniving pair of twins for weeks and being on a losing streak for three years of her career.

  • Arthur in Cabin Pressure, who, after years as an air steward, is still absurdly excited about taking off, and even more excited by take-off delays, since it means you get more of a build-up to the actual take-off, and describes absolutely everything as "brilliant". Except his father, and the possibility of MJN Air closing. Although even there, he manages to find something to be cheerful about, namely his new career as an ice-cream man.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The battle dragons in Dungeons & Dragons really like fighting and are said to have a "contagious sense of optimism" that give morale bonuses to their allies.
  • The main signature character for Pugmire is Princess Yosha Pug, who believes wholeheartedly in her country's values and traditions and thinks the best of everyone. She is balanced out by Knight in Sour Armor Pan Dachshound, who considers her well-intentioned but naive.

  • The Book of Mormon: Parodied with Elder McKinley (and, frankly, the majority of the cast).
  • The Most Happy Fella: Herman is a continual victim of bullying, yet he's all smiles—until someone pushes him too far, and he makes a frown and a fist.

    Web Animation 
  • Dreamscape: Alice always finds the bright side to a situation, and believes anyone can change for the better.
  • Amelia Watson, of hololive, is a very upbeat girl who, in her own words, "turned out pretty good" in spite of her harrowing childhood experiences, including (but not limited to): nearly biting her tongue off while eating ice cream, nearly splitting her head open when she fell while jumping on the bed (for which she has a scar on top of her head), slicing off the tip of her thumb while trying to peel an apple, and having crayons melt and scald her lap while sitting in a hot car.
  • Homestar Runner: The Strong Bad Email "crying" introduces Li'l Brudder, Strong Bad's attempt to make the most sad and pathetic character possible in order to make Homestar cry. Li'l Brudder is a one-legged puppy dog with a startling amount of optimism, insisting he's gonna grow up to be a quarterback and trying to reassure others with his Catchphrase "I can make it on my own!"
  • If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device: Vulkan. The mere fact that he's optimistic in the Crapsack World of the Warhammer 40,000 universe makes him this. However, both his cheerfullness and the bad situations he finds himself him are kicked up to eleven - he's very kind around dangerous animals and has died multiple times.
  • The Most Popular Girls in School: Deandra, although you wouldn't guess it at first. Despite being quite the snarker, she consistently displays a rather impressive ability to pick herself back up, dust herself off, and find the bright side of whatever scrape she just got into. Losing her popularity and having to transfer schools? Eh, she gets a fresh start, and at least this way she's the hell away from Tanya Berkowitz. Getting dragged into a war between the cheerleaders and the Van Burens? Well, if they buy her lunch and get her into the nice bathroom, that's fine. Getting her arms torn off? Hey, she just won the hundred meter dash in the Special Olympics, lost twenty-seven pounds, and later gets an extremely powerful prosthetic robot arm!

    Web Original 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Pollyanna


Gren's Chained Up

Commander Gren is ever the optimist. Even when he's chained up in Viren's dungeon.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / ThePollyanna

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