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Took a Level in Cheerfulness

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The world can seem like such a joyless, gray, dark place, empty of hope, where dreams are ephemeral lifelines, where joy and passion seem pointless and fake, and pain is the only thing that's authentic. Yet, sometimes, meeting the right person, witnessing the right moment, can teach some people that there's more to life than suffering—can teach those people to smile again. This doesn't mean that they've acquired better morals, or even that they gained hope: they may instead be Conditioned to Accept Horror, stop worrying, and love the bomb.

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This character type, either a Broken Bird, an Ice Queen, a Shrinking Violet, The Stoic, or any other kind of less cheerful character, becomes more cheerful over time. Can be due to Character Development, or a Heel–Face Turn.

Compare Defrosting Ice Queen and Took a Level in Kindness. Lots of Love Redeems stories fall under this trope. The Power of Friendship, The Power of Love, and The Power of Trust may be involved, in that the character may feel the need to reciprocate those gifts. Contrast with Took a Level in Cynic and Jade-Colored Glasses. A sudden change might be a Prelude to Suicide.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ai Haibara from Detective Conan was raised and Forced into Evil by The Syndicate, but managing to flee from them and being influenced by newfound friends like her Parental Substitute Hiroshi Agasa, Conan Edogawa, The Detective Boys, and Ran Mouri has begun to help her heal. She's not likely to become a Genki Girl in a long time, but she has stopped to wish for death and is now able to live the normal life she never had...
  • Hermit Mio from EDENS ZERO becomes significantly livelier following her mental recovery (though it was technically regaining lost levels rather than taking new ones). She goes from a bitter, somber, reclusive Death Seeker who didn't want to do anything with humans after the horrible thing they have done to them to a Playful Hacker eager to help others and enjoys playing games and dressing up. Although, she didn't lose her cynical streak.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Meredy started out as a serious and angry child who rarely showed emotions. After the Time Skip, she has become more cheerful and relaxed.
    • Juvia went from gloomy in her debut to cheerful after joining the titular guild.
    • Also Erza Scarlett herself as she showed more of her softer side, especially after the Tower of Heaven arc.
  • In the novelizaton of The Last: Naruto the Movie, Hinata Hyuga notes that her younger sister Hanabi has changed since Neji's death. What brought on the change is unknown, but Hanabi acts more childish and outgoing now than she did in the main series.
    • Along with her, Boruto shows that Hiashi has also mellowed out from the original series, showing a much softer side with his family and especially his grandkids.
  • This is very common among characters who perform Heel-Face Turns in Lyrical Nanoha (usually thanks to the introduction of Good Parents). Some specific examples:
    • Fate Testarossa starts off as a girl who deliberately represses her emotions as a defense mechanism for her mother's abuse. By the time of StrikerS, she actually smiles more often than not when she isn't on duty (being befriended by Nanoha and adopted by Lindy did wonders for her emotional well being).
    • Shamal noted in episode 6 of A's that all of the Wolkenritter changed significantly for the better after Hayate became their master.
    • Nove goes from being a Grumpy Bear to a Cool Big Sis thanks to the influence of her adopted family.
    • Lutecia Alpine is an Emotionless Girl in StrikerS but falls squarely into the Genki Girl category by the time of ViVid, thanks to having been removed from control of the evil Dr. Jail Scaglietti and reunited with her adoring mother Megane.
    • Rinne Berlinetta from ViVid Strike! gets notably more cheerful after reconnecting with Fuka and overcoming her self-loathing.
  • Final Fantasy: Lost Stranger: After suffering from years of burnout after not achieving his dreams of working on game development at Square-Enix, Shogo's adventures in the fantasy world make him happier than he's been in a long time. But then it's inverted when Yuko dies to the Mist Dragon, giving him a Heroic BSoD that nearly spirals him into the Despair Event Horizon. After he avenges her by killing the Mist Dragon, this trope is once again played straight, as knowledge that Raise might be real motivates him to keep moving forward, becoming much more cheerful, lively, and decisive in the process.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
  • One Piece: After resigning from the position of Fleet-Admiral in protest of the World Government covering up the Impel Down breakout to save face, the previously dour and stoic Sengoku becomes a lot more laidback and cheerful, with the implication that his whole Grumpy Bear attitude seen previously was born from the stress of his job rather than his own personality.
  • Siren/Ellen from Suite Pretty Cure ♪ started out as cold and hostile towards Hummy, however after her Heel–Face Turn as Cure Beat, which resulted in her being trapped in her human form, she has become a Genki Girl.
  • Takeo starts out Takeo-chan Bukkairoku distant and disinclined to open up to people. This is largely due to the curse that causes her to be Born Unlucky and makes her The Jinx to everyone around her. The youkai she lives with discover that the key to surprising her, and thus causing her to expel the negative energy within her for them to devour, is happiness because she's felt it so rarely that it's a genuine shock to her system when she experiences it. As a result, they dedicate themselves to making her happy so they can feed off her energy and, despite this being completely counter-intuitive for the majority of them, they are successful and Takeo eventually reaches a point that she can declare she will not give in to despair ever again.
  • Saori from Wandering Son has a Friendless Background but when she met Nitori she began making friends. She however regressed when she became jealous of Takatsuki's friendship with Nitori, not helped when Nitori told her she confessed to Takatsuki, and Took A Level In Jerk Ass that lasted most of middle school. Eventually they all made up and Saori is noticeably less moody come high school. She smiles more and is quite friendly with Takatsuki.

    Comic Books 
  • Supergirl:
    • Post-Crisis Kara felt confused, irascible, and pretty miserable upon arriving on Earth. Several months later she'd adapted to Earth and learned to be a hero, and she was pretty happy with her life.
    • Her Post-Flashpoint self found out that Krypton, her family, her friends, her old life... were gone right after crash-landing on Earth. For a long time, she was an upset, lonely, angsty teenager struggling through her abandonment and anger issues and her inability to fit in with humans. After undergoing character development, which ironically involved a Red Lantern stint, she let her anger and confusion go and become a happier and more optimistic person.

    Fan Works 
  • Advice and Trust:
    • Shinji and Asuka became happier and less gloomy after getting together. Shinji even stopped needing his headphones to escape from reality because he was glad and at peace.
    • Rei stopped taking her feeling-numbing medication per advice of Asuka. Afterwards, she started bonding with her fellow pilots and she also became happier and smiling more often (covertly so that she did not clue Gendo or Ritsuko in on her changes).
  • Before My Body Is Dry: In "First Comes Love", Akio becomes much more pleasant and carefree.
  • The Black Emperor: Thanks to his relationship with Milly, Lelouch has largely recovered from the Trauma Conga Line he had when he was ten.
  • The Child of Love:
    • After finding out she was pregnant, Asuka spent several weeks feeling angrier and more depressed than usual. After that time her mood changed again due to her physical shifts and she started to behave in a more joyful, cheerier fashion.
    • Shinji also became happier after he and Asuka got together.
  • Children of an Elder God: After getting orphaned and abandoned Asuka was a very angry, very hostile little girl. However her foster mother took care of her and helped her with her issues, and when Asuka met the remaining cast she was considerably more cheerful than her canon self.
  • A Crown of Stars:
    • After going through a war, the end of the world, and surviving in a wrecked world, Asuka was mentally broken, exhausted, bitter, and angry with everyone and everything. When she arrived on Avalon, people cared about her, offered counseling, and helped her to set several things right, and as a result, Asuka's mood improved considerably. When Shinji saw her again after several hours he was shocked because she was acting more like the bold, cheerful girl she was when he met her.
    • Shinji, too. Hooking up with his life's love, getting his mother, family, and friends back, and fighting for a worthy cause -for once- cheered him up tremendously.
  • Doing It Right This Time:
    • Before the timeline restarted Asuka was so infuriated, hopeless, and fed up with everything she just wanted to die. When she woke up in her room back in Germany, three months before the beginning of the War, and realized she had another chance, she was absolutely giddy.
    • So did Rei. Not having her emotions dampened, gaining a decent big sister figure, and developing a closer relationship with her teammates improved her erstwhile somber mood a lot.
    • Shinji... Well, he still has a way to go, but he's getting there.
  • In Worm/DC crossover Echoes of Yesterday, Taylor Hebert is saved from her bullies right when she's reaching her breaking point. Although her psychological issues obviously aren't gone, and she doesn't get her new friend's cheerful disposition, she has been befriended by someone who fits with her idea of a hero, her father is now doing something about the bullying, and she's spending time away from her school and her tormentors. Because of all this, Taylor is feeling happier than she's been in a long, long time.
  • Evangelion 303:
    • Asuka goes through this several times: at the beginning, she was very distressed and glum because her performance was slipping. Then she met Shinji, after a while -and several fights- they got together and her mood got sunnier to the point that everybody commented on it. Later she fell on very hard times and she became angrier, loathful, and depressed. After getting over her issues she became again happier and bolder.
    • Rei became emotionless after an accident and had a hard time reconnecting with her squadmates (and everybody else). After the Love Triangle tangling Kaworu, Saburo, and herself up got resolved, she started to smile more often.
  • Ghosts of Evangelion: After Instrumentality, a lot of therapy and time, Shinji and Asuka are somewhat happier and more emotionally stable.
  • Myrtle Warren takes this trope and cuddles it in Harry and the Shipgirls. Harry forcing Peeves to stop bullying her was one thing. Learning that the man she loved was related to Harry on his mother's side? You could barely recognize her compared to what she was like in canon after that!
  • HERZ: After the war, Asuka was angry, resentful, and gloomy and hated herself and everybody. Twelve years later, she is more mature, has repaired her relationship with Shinji and has married him, has given birth a cute daughter, and is happier than she ever was during her childhood.
  • Higher Learning: The three pilots are hit with this thanks to Kaoru's lessons and counseling. Shinji becomes hopeful for the future, Asuka gets less angry and less introvert, and Rei starts enjoying her life.
  • Last Child of Krypton: Asuka became happier and livelier when Shinji showed he cared about her, and later when he confessed.
  • Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!: Izuku has a very noticeable uptick in cheer and optimism after finishing his Quest for Identity and finding out who and what he is. While he's still a Nervous Wreck, he's fully resolved himself to chasing his dreams of becoming a Hero when he was hellbent on not becoming one at the start of the story.
  • Once More with Feeling: Shinji is taking great pains to prevent Asuka from breaking down again, making sure that she knows that there are people care about her and value her, and will do so even if she stops being a pilot. The result is she is happier and more upbeat than in the original timeline.
  • The One I Love Is...: Rei, Asuka, and Shinji had several setbacks and much angst as the former two fought over the latter, but on the whole, their Love Triangle made them happier and more emotionally stable.
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines:
    • At the beginning of the Oak's Summer Camp Gaiden, Serena is not happy to be left at the titular camp while Grace is busy with a Rhyhorn Racing Cup in Kanto. However, after she meets Ash, she quickly grows to like it and at the end admits she had a lot of fun.
    • Misty in the main story as well. When introduced, she has a rather cynical attitude due to her terrible childhood and being kicked out of her home by her sisters. A few months of traveling with Ash help her develop a more positive outlook of life, enough that while aboard the S.S. Anne, she's not above engaging in some playful teasing by dragging him into a swimsuit-shopping spree.
  • Resurrected Memories: After being saved by Danny and realizing that he and the others truly see her as their friend, Ember becomes happier and less conflicted.
  • Fluttershy in Royal Business, as Spike notices when he runs into her in mid-air. She's friendly, smiling and even mischievous with Rainbow Dash after they re-bonded and became friendlier than ever before with Rainbow Dash in Dragonshyness. This is Fluttershy's normal reaction to discovering that somepony loves her, as we also see (four years later) regarding Bulk Biceps in "Equestria Games".
  • In The Second Try:
    • After meeting Aki, Rei becomes more cheerful and smiles more often.
    • After saving the world and meeting their daughter again, Shinji and Asuka are happier and less burdened.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: Developing powers and becoming a super-heroine made Asuka a happier, more cheerful and more positive person who did not need to pilot a giant robot to feel her life was not worthless.
  • In Thousand Shinji, Rei becomes more joyful and more upbeat after meeting Shinji and becoming a Nurgle follower.
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    Films — Animation 
  • Farley Wink's secretary Sawyer from Cats Don't Dance is a Broken Bird, having come to Hollywood with talent and enthusiasm, but was crushed by Hollywood's humanist hegemony. Likewise for many of the Funny Animals sitting morosely in Farley's office. Danny Cat arrives with the same enthusiasm, which ultimately reawakens their performer spirit, and they finish the film glowing in triumph and applause.
  • Queen Elsa of Frozen grew up highly reserved because she was afraid being emotional would cause her powers to act up, because she accidentally hurt Anna with her powers as a child and the trolls altered her memories so she'd be unaware of her magic, which she tries to keep a secret from her. The first time she opens up is when she sings her iconic Let It Go solo. She's still very anxious in "For The First Time In Forever (Reprise)", culminating in her striking Anna in the heart, but at the end seems to have opened up more thanks to The Power of Love, and has mastered her ice powers. The Power of Love is strongly hinted at Elsa finally understanding how to love her own self.
  • Violet Parr from Pixar's The Incredibles starts out massively introverted and socially miserable, too imploded to even speak to a boy she likes. After embracing her super side to thwart the villainous Syndrome, Violet emerges from her cocoon and starts making friends.
  • The titular kitten Oliver from Disney's Oliver & Company starts out as a giveaway kitten in a cardboard box. Evening rain, a sewer of doom, feral dogs... life sucks for this kitten. By the end of the story, however, the kitten has a name and a home and Jenny Foxworth... yeah, life is good for Oliver.
  • Anton Ego, from Ratatouille, in the ending, after having rediscovered his childhood memories with the help of our protagonist's cooking.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Lydia in Beetlejuice is a very unhappy Goth teenager. Through forming a bond with a couple of friendly ghosts, she becomes much perkier in the end.

    Literature 
  • Azjel in Dora Wilk Series. When seen in book two of the series, he's a dour, emotionless Tyke-Bomb. Thanks to Dora Care Bear Staring him by accident, by the time of short story Eternal Pen, taking place a year after the book, he's positively a Genki Guy.
  • Nico di Angelo in The Trials of Apollo. While he's not all puppies and butterflies by any stretch, he's far more cheerful than he was at the end of The Heroes of Olympus, likely thanks to his relationship with Will.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Supernatural: Castiel, since his introduction, was a grim and humorless character, who rarely smiled and was a focused soldier. After a long arc that sees him going dark, going mad and then being reborn as an amnesiac, he becomes The Atoner by absorbing all Sam's hell memories. This leads to a nervous breakdown, and when he emerges, he's a nature-loving Cloud Cuckoolander who giggles, makes jokes and is obsessed with evolution. The demon Meg describes him as "the naked guy at the rave, totally useless."
  • On Teen Wolf, Jackson is a Jerk Jock who is actually very insecure because he is adopted. In the first two seasons during which he was a main character, he was aggressively competitive, egotistical, a bully, and often mean even to his girlfriend. Then he was Put on a Bus because his actor took a role on Arrow. When he next appears in the final episodes of the show, he is almost a completely different person because during his time away he came out as bisexual and fell in love with Nice Guy Ethan. This results in him being much more friendly and prone to banter even during deadly situations.
  • Cohle from True Detective, spends the whole season this close to complete nihilism, yet he manages to find a sense of hope and optimism by the end.
    Hart: [looking up at the stars in the night's sky] It appears to me that the dark has a lot more territory.
    Cohle: You know, you're looking at it wrong, the sky thing... Well, once, there was only dark. If you ask me, the light's winning.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • In Fate/hollow ataraxia, Caster is much more relaxed than she ever was in Fate/stay night since she no longer needs to worry about the Holy Grail War or leaving her beloved Master.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Justice For All, Adrian Andrews is at best stern and unapproachable, and a psychologically crippled person who needs someone she can look up to for emotional stability. By the next game, Trials and Tribulations, she's cheered up considerably thanks to Phoenix's involvement in the last case in which they met, and is now a cordial and cooperative museum curator.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • Weiss Schnee goes from a grumpy, arrogant, slightly self-centered young lady to one that while still quite uppity, cares about her teammates' well-being, will joke around with her teammates (much to their dismay), and has no problem openly fawning over a Precious Puppy.
    • Blake Belladonna goes from being a deeply stoic and broody young girl with a Deadpan Snarker attitude in Volume 1 to being rather positive and sociable (though she's still quite reserved by comparison to her teammates) by Volume 3. Then inverted completely at the end of Volume 3 with the return of Adam Taurus, which leaves her traumatized, prone to sudden bursts of shouting and irrationality, paranoid, and easily embarrassed. She starts to get over it over the course of Volume 4 with help from Dogged Nice Guy Sun, though.

    Webcomics 
  • In Homestuck, when Aradia first enters the comic, she's completely unable to feel emotion because she's actually a ghost. She insists that she doesn't mind this state, but everyone else finds her depressing to talk with. Then she gets better. Able to feel emotion again, she chooses to look at the bright side of everything and becomes unrelentingly happy. So happy that she regularly creeps her friends out.
  • Sticky Dilly Buns is largely about the process of supposedly supporting character Ruby coming out of her shell, making friends, accepting her sexual feelings, and becoming more cheerful as a result.

    Web Novel 
  • Can You Spare a Quarter?: When Graham first met Jamie, the boy was very reserved and almost afraid to speak. Since then and thanks to the company with Graham, Jason and the latter's family he has become much more outgoing and happy.

    Western Animation 

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