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When She Smiles

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Way to kill the mood.

"You hardly ever smile Sam, and you look so beautiful when you do. Your face lights up and your soul shines so bright."
Gabriel, Singing Cows, a Supernatural fanfic

So there is this one character who never smiles. They are always so serious. Or maybe they're The Eeyore who always sees the worst of things. Then one day they smile, and there is something about the sheer happiness in that smile that makes whoever is watching immediately feel welcome, or better, and very often want to make them smile again. Preferably a lot. Depending on the application, can lead to Love at First Sight, a Love Epiphany, or a heartwarming moment.

In summary, the requirements for this trope are:

  1. Character that rarely smiles (Emotionless Girl, Deadpan Snarker, Perpetual Frowner, Broken Bird, The Stoic, etc)
  2. This character smiles
  3. This smile is perceived as beautiful
  4. Other people experience an increase in their affection for this character

On rare occasions, this can be played with a character who typically shows an insincere smile (such as a Stepford Smiler or a Smug Smiler) who then has a sincere smile.


It's not actually Always Female; the title comes from the song "Absolutely (Story of a Girl)". Go Out with a Smile often involves this plus Tearjerker. May involve Finger-Forced Smile. A shy cousin to What Beautiful Eyes!, and Unkempt Beauty; a subtrope of OOC Is Serious Business. Contrast with The Unsmile, where the smile is just plain unnatural. Compare with Serendipity Shock.

In-Universe Examples Only, please. Do not include Audience Reactions.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Battle Royale, Hirono, the second in command bad girl in Mitsuko's gang is depicted as this. Despite having a punk hairstyle and being very nasty normally, when she meets up with protagonist Shuya(whom it's implied and revealed that she actually has a crush on), she ends up showing a smile from her heart. This leads to Shuya realizing that she's not all bad, and throughout the series, one of his greater regrets is being unable to save her. It pretty much directly follows this trope when he describes her in this page.
  • Sen Yarizui from Ben-To is usually The Stoic, but her features soften considerably when she offers up a sincere, heartfelt smile.
  • Discussed by Guts and played for drama in Berserk.
    • After all of the crap that they had gone through since the eclipse, all that Guts wants to do is to make his insane lover Casca smile (though she is attractive regardless of if she smiles or not). But after he nearly strangles and later almost rapes her on account of being influenced by his Enemy Within she is now fearful of him and won't even let Guts touch her with tenderness anymore. It's more heartbreaking because seeing her smile is the only thing that makes Guts himself smile nowadays, and it kills him to see how Casca fears and detests him now.
    • To add to the above, in volume 28, Guts briefly gives a true smile (bonus that his eyes are shining and not dull like they usually are) upon hearing from the Skull Knight that Casca might be cured of her insanity once and for all if he gets her to Elfhelm. Schierke, who is present, gives a soft reaction of happiness that she was able to see Guts smile like this.
    • Guts does it again when he gets actual confirmation that Casca can be cured.
  • Black Butler goes out of its way to prove this of Ciel. To the point where Joker in the manga gives him the stage name of Smile in an ironic sense... but then finds out that Ciel is a damn knockout. It seems as though Elizabeth's entire point of existing is to make him smile again... and she is one of the few people who can get a genuine smile.
  • Darker Than Black:
    • Hei generally racks up a Chick Magnet count even without a real smile (he has plenty of fake ones, but they're just that — fake), but if Amber's testimony is anything to go by, a genuine one can make sociopaths fall for him.
      Amber: There was one time that he actually laughed from the bottom of his heart. His smile captivated me. That's when I thought to myself, "You really did it this time." I felt as if I would do anything for him.
    • Yin has a weird combination of this and The Unsmile. Due to her Frozen Face, it's not the end result that's cute so much as the effort she puts into it.
  • When ERASED's adult protagonist Satoru Mental Time Travels back to when he was in fifth grade, he becomes involved with Kayo Hinazuki in order to prevent her murder. In doing so he learns she's a Broken Bird with Abusive Parents. When he sees Kayo smile or show genuine happiness the effect on Satoru is strong enough that he has to consciously remind himself that he isn't a child.
  • In The Familiar of Zero season 4 episode 5 Saito says he feels happy when he sees Louise smile.
  • Subverted and Played Straight in the series Fire Force. The main character, Shinra, suffers from nervous laughter. This makes him break out into a Slasher Smile when he gets nervous or scared (which considering he's often fighting off sentient fire demons, it's a pretty understandable reaction). However, after he helps defeat his first Infernal he receives cheers from the crowd outside. His smile here is noticeably more genuine.
  • Erina Nakiri in Food Wars! starts to smile more as she opens up more to other people. This doesn't go unnoticed by Soma.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, Sousuke is not unattractive even in Perpetual Frowner mode—it's even directly addressed in the novels, where he's still considered very attractive, but very unapproachable, as his eyebrows are in a constant state of slanting down angrily, and his lips are always pressed firmly in a grim, straight thin line. But during the moments where his face relaxes and he lightens up, people who see him like that tend to have their heart racing BIG TIME.
  • Fruits Basket:
    • Hana and her younger brother are normally stoic around most people. However, when they're with Tohru and Uo, and a few other characters, they show off truly beautiful and genuine smiles.
    • Same with Yuki. Although he does smile quite a bit, it's just a mask to appear friendly and cheerful. With a little help from Tohru, he develops a real smile.
    • Kyo, a Grumpy Bear and Tsundere, also has this happen to him.
  • Applied several times with Chairman Morinomiya in Gakuen Babysitters. Always acting like a grouch, the few times she smiles reveals quite a lot.
  • Kohina from Gugure! Kokkuri-san is very much The Stoic to the point of referring to herself as a doll. When she does try to force out a smile, her face literally falls apart and scares everyone. Thus the first time she genuinely smiles for Kokkuri, he finds it absolutely adorable.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya:
    • Haruhi herself starts out the series with a perpetual frown (hence the title of the first book, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya). Kyon describes her first smile as "reminiscent of a blazing sun in an equatorial sky," and later uses adjectives like "divine" and "cherry blossoms in full bloom" when referring to it.
    • Yuki Nagato, resident Emotionless Girl, gets one. This picture from the Disappearance is a plot point in said movie and the novel it's adapted from — seeing Nagato smile is what leads Kyon to question whether recreating the old world would really be the right thing to do. Three novels later it's revealed that the memory of her smile is still enough to make him question his decision.
    • Subverted with Kuyou Suo (resident Humanoid Abomination). While Kyon comments on how smiling makes her whole appearance different, even beautiful, it still comes off as profoundly inhuman.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers: England either frowns, sneers or is yelling at someone (usually America or France.) There are very few instances of him genuinely smiling, like after the football game with Germany during the "Christmas truce" in World War I, when his magical friends come to greet him at the meeting, or during America's childhood.
  • Is This a Zombie?: Eucliwood stuns and surprises Ayumu when she finally shows her extremely cute smile.
  • Jotaro The Stoic from Jojos Bizarre Adventure has very rarely seen but very sweet smile.
  • In Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Osaragi is shown crying in Chapter 68 when seeing her childhood friend Iino smile after the election. The chapter is even titled "I want to make Miko Iino Smile". In Chapter 174, Ishigami also notices how nice Iino can be, and tells her that she should smile more often.
  • Kawaii Hito centers around Hanazono, a kindly florist with a Face of a Thug and beady eyes. Almost everyone is scared of him when he's making his usual expressions, but when he closes his eyes and smiles, hearts melt.
  • Sawako from Kimi ni Todoke usually looks damn creepy what with resembling Sadako and all, but her genuine warm smile was one of the first reason Kazehaya fell in love with her. When she tries to force herself to smile though, it, ah... doesn't work.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple: During the Beach Episode, Shigure teaches Kenichi how to swim to help him overcome his fear of water, and gives him a faint smile when proud of his progress. Kenichi even wonders if it's an optical illusion since he had never seen her smile before.
  • Kiznaiver:
    • The main character, Agata, is an Emotionless Boy, but as time goes on, he starts being able to feel again after a failed experiment took away his capacity to feel pain or anything at all. At the end of the show, Noriko breaks the original Kizna link he gets all his ability to feel back, right as he was attempting to rescue a drowning Noriko. When she rescues him, he claims that he feels sore all over, but his face becomes a tearful smile at the feeling of being able to feel again.
    • Noriko is an Emotionless Girl that is constantly heavily sedated due to a constant flux of pain to her body. However, the the final scene of the anime is her showing a very sweet smile to the main characters as they accept her into their group.
    • The resident Ice Queen Maki finally smiles in episode 7 after coming to terms with the death of a former friend, everyone notices and are dazzled by it.
  • Mika and Koharu of Koharu No Hibi just want Akira to always be happy and smile. And Koharu is normally a creepy Stepford Smiler Yandere but at one point she does genuinely smile without any insanity or creepiness behind it.
  • Little Witch Academia (2017) has Constanze, the teutonic witch who is perpetually grumpy, almost never speaks and whose only interest is working in her lab. So it's quite a surprise when at the end of one episode she shows a gorgeous sweet smile to Akko. Though her body language shows she is uncertain in how to do it, giving credit to the idea that she suffers from some Ambiguous Disorder.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's:
    • Arisa in the manga really didn't want to like Fate. She was rather jealous of the attention Nanoha got from her. But she has to admit that disliking her is hard to do when subjected to the smile.
    • Arf also commented on Fate's smile when watching her officially become friends with Nanoha at the end of the first season. Given the fact that she had to helplessly watch Fate go through absolute hell at the hands of her mother for several years, one can hardly blame her for breaking down in Tears of Joy at the sight of it.
    • The Wolkenritter pretty much define happiness as "seeing Hayate smile".
  • Maison Ikkoku: In a scene Yusaku reflects that Kyoko is short-tempered, jealous, hard to deal with... but when she smiles, he feels that the world is his.
  • In Monster, Eva Heinemann spends much of the series as a bitter, lonely person lashing out at those she perceives to have wronged her, chiefly her fugitive ex-fiancee Dr. Kenzo Tenma, complete with a nasty malicious smile. However, in rare moments when she does smile with something approaching authentic sincerity and kindness, the audience is reminded of her beauty. By the end of the series, after undergoing a Heel–Face Turn and realizing the errors of her ways, she seems to have found true happiness and satisfaction in life that previously eluded her.
  • In My Hero Academia, after little Eri is saved from Overhaul, there's still the issue of getting her to smile again, as the first step towards her mental recovery. When Class 1-A's concert at the school festival finally does the trick, Mirio, who was watching over her, breaks into Tears of Joy. Izuku does as well when Eri tells him excitedly what she thought of it.
  • Early on in My Little Monster, Mizutani convinces Haru to stop glaring at people all the time and start smiling a bit more in order to make friends. This ends up going horribly right, as the female half of the class finds that he's surprisingly good-looking, and Haru briefly finds himself harassed by numerous admirers.
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!:
    • Katarina thinks she has a villainous face (and technically she does) so when she's trying to put someone at ease she always pauses beforehand to make it as friendly and non-threatening as possible, which is implied to turn a vaguely pretty girl absolutely gorgeous and has made several girls fall for her.
    • Nicol, one of her love interests, is known for being pretty stoic, but when he smiles it's the same as Katarina but in reverse. Not only are the girls charmed, but so are some of the men around him. He smiles the most around Katarina herself because of how well she understands him, but unfortunately for him, she's immune to his charms.
  • Machida Yuki of Namaikizakari is normally drawn with a flat scowl that befits her stoic nature. She doesn't change her expression much, even for her boyfriend Sho. When she smiles at him for the first time after a qualifying match, he is stunned. It affects him so much that he sticks closer to her afterwards, unwilling to let other people see her smile in front of them.
  • Naruto tends to invoke this with usually dower/stoic characters such as Gaara, Neji Sasuke, Shikamaru, Itachi, Sai and Hinata.
  • Natsume Takashi from Natsume's Book of Friends has managed to charm quite a few people with a well-placed smile. He's even flustered a youkai woman on the far end of the Kinsey scale with one.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: In several points — such as after being saved by Shinji from dying in a volcano, shielding Shinji from Matarael or in the last scene of the final chapter — Asuka smiles sincerely. And in Episode 6, after Shinji tearfully berates Rei for risking her life for his just because she considers herself expendable and she expresses confusion at how to respond, he tells her to try smiling... and she does, shocking him into a brief silence.
  • Emotionless Girl Anita from Night Warriors: Darkstalker's Revenge never smiles due to the horror she's witnessed. However, when Donovan brings happiness and optimism back to her in the Final Battle she gives an ridiculously adorable smile Donovan even claim he's graced by tender warmth of her smile.
  • Gender-inverted in Ojojojo. After Haru tells Tsurezure her backstory, he shows her an absolutely stunning smile (that he'd been practicing for weeks) to cheer her up. She's so stunned by it that she begs him to do it again.
    • Haru gave Akane one after saying that she isn't angry that Akane pretended not to know about their Forgotten First Meeting.
  • One Piece:
    • Discussed in regards to Nami whose been a Broken Bird on the inside since Arlong ruined her childhood, Nojiko is amazed when Usopp says that Nami smile when she's with her True Companions. When Nami left the crew and cried some Tender Tears, she hopes she rejoins them and smiles "from the bottom of her heart".
      • Nico Robin is similar, though she's a bit more Zig-Zagged, when she is introduced she occasionally smiles, but nothing special and doesnt really reach the eyes, its only After the enies lobbies arc that her smile becomes genuine, and thats when the magic happens.
    • The un-dead Cindry's smile may be the sweetest smile in the whole series given it's from the beyond the grave and contrasts so greatly to her previous demeanor.
    • Grizzled characters such as Zoro, Sanji, Law and even Katakuri have their faces brighten up when they smile.
  • Ouran High School Host Club: Kasanoda has the Face of a Thug and what seems like a permanent scowl that frightens everybody. During most of his introductory episode, his smiles are out of anxiety and are equally unnerving. His first genuine, happy smile is when he sees the hurt sparrow fly away healed, and all semblance of scariness is gone in a flash.
  • Pokémon Adventures:
    • Though Sapphire is perfectly capable of being happy and showing smiles, as she's normally in full tsun mode around Ruby, this trope is in full effect when she finally admits her feelings to Ruby. The realization that she's his Forgotten Childhood Friend nails it down all the more him.
    • X's default expression is one of resigned depression, but when Viola catches him smiling one time, she notes how nice it is.
  • Nako of Poor Poor Lips, with her kid-like proportions, is frequently mentioned by Ren to not be her type. However, all of that changes when Nako flashes one of her genuine smiles...
    Ren: The thing I want most in the world, is to see her smile.
  • In The Prince of Tennis, there are exactly two (perhaps three) instances in which Tezuka Kunimitsu can be seen smiling: one is after a very symbolic match with his best friend Fuji Shusuke, the other is after his team has just won the National Tournament against the supposedly-unbeatable Rikkaidai. The last one, Inui Sadaharu even felt necessary to get on tape.
  • Izumi Himoru from Princess Nine pulls off this trope at the end of the final episode, where she hugs Ryo Hayakawa after the team lost in the quarter-finals, to cheer her up, with the hope of winning next year.
  • Ramen Fighter Miki: Kayahara’s sensei perpetual depression made her look as a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl, and attempts to cheer up result in The Un-Smile… except when she eats her Trademark Favorite Food, she is so happy then that When She Smiles, everyone thinks she is beautiful and Love Bubbles appear.
  • ReLIFE: When Hishiro smiles genuinely it's enough to leave Kaizaki stunned. When she tries however...
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Every frame which features Tomoe is gloom, grave, whose inability to smile caused her original fiancee to sign up as a bodyguard for a powerful samurai and get himself killed by Kenshin, can be seen smiling twice: once, when she dies, and once in a vision asking him to continue living life to the fullest. Enishi, the villain of the same arc, is willing to kill for that smile.
  • Konzen, from Saiyuki, like his later incarnation, Sanzo, is very pretty but has a permanent scowl. Goku, his surrogate son, thinks he'd be beautiful if he did smile. Subverted, though, as when he finally does Goku decides it doesn't suit him at all, even though it is a completely genuine loving smile. Goku is saying he loves Konzen as he is.
  • Samurai Harem: Asu no Yoichi: Ayame, who has always lived in the shadow of her older sister Ibuki and feels like her efforts are never appreciated, so when main character Yoichi compliments her cooking, even after her admittance that she had had help from younger sister Kagome, the smile she gives is such that both Yoichi and her three sisters are stunned silent.
  • Gender-inverted with Sakura from Sand Chronicles. He's mostly a Perpetual Frowner and smirks when he's being snobby, yet the first two times he genuinely smiles at Ann, she blushes and admits he has a killer smile and is probably popular with women.
  • Invoked in Sensual Phrase. Aine is a Cute Bookworm who doesn't give smiles a lot due to shyness, but when she does and particularly with Sakuya, she's very cute... But when she's chosen as a model specifically due to this, she cannot smile as cutely as before, which causes her quite the angst.
  • Kotone from Tonari no Kashiwagi-san is said to be particularly cute by Yuuto when she smiles, and outside their circle of friends, she rarely smiles. Sayaka also mentions that she can't get Kotone to smile like that.
  • Umi no Misaki: Nagi feels this way about all three of the girls. Karin is seemingly perpetually happy, which Nagi finds one of her most endearing traits; He likes Shizuku when she is able to smile and relax; It's a positively heartwarming moment for him when he gets Soyogi to open up and smile.
  • In Vampire Hunter D, D's (very, very rare) smiles are apparently worthy of historical documentation.
    If that boy could have seen it, he would have told people for the rest of his days how he'd been the one to bring it out. It was just such a smile.
  • In Yona of the Dawn, it's noted by Yona that frequent Smug Smiler Hak doesn't smile as genuinely as he used to before their longtime mutual friend Su-won betrayed and tried to kill both of them. His rare, sincerely happy smiles tend to trigger Yona's Crush Blush and even have her thinking she should try harder so that he'll do it more often.
  • Yuri!!! on Ice: Yuri Plisetsky is an extremely grumpy and moody teenager who almost always has a frown, scowl, or Death Glare on his otherwise handsome face. The few times he does smile are both adorable and extremely disarming to those around him who are used to his sourness.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman has the warmest smile in the DC Universe. In Kingdom Come, he can't crack a smile even after the events are over. In the Novelization, the US President asks him when he's going to smile again, because everyone felt better when he did. In both the graphic novel and novel, after Diana gives him a pair of glasses ("to see a little clearer") does Superman give a warm, unabashed smile as he pulls a giant plowshare.
  • Judge Dredd is the Trope Codifier for Perpetual Frowner but in the very rare occasion, he does smile it's quite pleasant.
  • Similarly Batman barely ever curls his lips up as his dark alter ego and when he does smile it's immediately noted upon by his loved ones.
  • Cyclops rarely shows more than a slight smile, if he smiles at all, being a fairly grave and serious character by nature (a life that pretty much entirely consists of the Trauma Conga Line trope will do that to you). When he does smile, it tends to be adorable.
  • Peanuts: Mentioned in the titular song of the movie A Boy Named Charlie Brown:
    Maybe it's a kind of magic
    That only little boys can do.
    But seeing Charlie smile,
    Can make you stop awhile,
    And get you feelin' glad you're you.
  • X-23 only very rarely smiles. In issue 30 of All-New X-Men, the time-displaced teenaged Angel convinces her to go on a date with him, and while talking afterwards, Warren specifically remarks that he likes it when Laura smiles and that she should do it more often. Notably, in the same conversation, he compares her looks favorably to Jean Grey.
  • Wolverine: First Class has a humorous example: Logan is stuck babysitting at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, and at one point the students leave the danger room door open causing several deadly robots to begin wreaking havoc. Logan makes quick work of them and breaks out in an open-mouth smile...because he's able to continue watching the hockey game that the robots interrupted.

    Fan Works 
  • Italy tells Japan to smile more in Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità because of this. Japan really does have a nice smile.
  • Advice and Trust: When Asuka sees Shinji acting gloomy, moody or depressed she encourages him to smile because she thinks his smile is beautiful.
    • In chapter 3:
      Once they were almost alone on the bus, Asuka felt safe to talk to him, and rested her head on her arms on the back of Shinji's seat. Shinji was staring out the window, a faintly sad look on his face. She poked him in the back of the head. "Why the glum look, Shinji?"
      Shinji blinked and snapped out of his distracted fugue. "Uh? Oh, it's nothing."
      She poked him again. "Bullshit. Talk, Third. I like it when you smile too."
  • A Crown of Stars: Before traveling to Avalon Shinji and Asuka were very, very burnt-out and broken. Nonetheless, Shinji always made a special effort to find new video games for Asuka because he loved seeing her smile for a change.
    He never managed to say to her face that it was all worth it to see that wisp of a smile and hear her calling him ‘baka’ again in that softer voice.
  • The Child of Love: Asuka’s smile was so beautiful when they got married after so many hardships that Shinji said he would never forget it.
    Shinji: I will never forget that smile you gave me when you said 'I do' in front of the priest. And it may take my entire life to repay you for that smile, but I'll do it.
  • Child of the Storm has Carol usually wear a cynical smirk or a sardonic smile. When she actually, genuinely smiles (something that, not coincidentally, usually happens when Harry's around), it's noted as being genuinely dazzling.
    • Harry himself smiles a little more often, but when he does really smile, it both tends to be dazzling, and give him a startling resemblance to his maternal second cousin, Jean Grey.
  • In chapter 7 of Children of an Elder God, Rei Ayanami blushes and smiles when Shinji says she's beautiful. Touji and Kensuke agreed that her smile was memorable.
    And then she smiled.
    It was a small smile.
    A very small one.
    But it was a memorable one.
  • Doing It Right This Time:
    • Shinji thinks Rei—his formerly aloof, Broken Bird fellow pilot—has a very cute smile.
      Shinji's head shot upwards at the familiar voice. Perched casually on Unit-00's shoulder, Rei met his gaze and smiled that little Mona Lisa smile that had made him harbour thoughts he was somewhat embarrassed about.
    • As Asuka does:
      Asuka had only ever seen that smile once, directed at Shinji after Ritsuko—or Misato—finally got him back out of Unit-01. Now she wasn't continually seeing red and green both at once, she had to admit it was quite a nice smile. Rather cute, in fact.
  • Evangelion 303: In chapter 4 Asuka beamed at Shinji sincerely. Up to that point, Shinji had seen her angry or depressed most of the time, and he was shocked and flushed.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, Supergirl is often troubled or depressed. Still, according to her lover, her smile is beautiful.
    She turned and smiled at him. Her smile, he thought, had power enough to illuminate the darkness between Earth and Aldebaran.
  • HERZ: In chapter 10 Shinji imagines Asuka smiling such a beautiful smile that it was heart-breaking.
    Asuka. He imagined her standing at the end of a long polished corridor. She was in her HERZ uniform with her usual eye patch and arm harness. She held Akiko in her arms and smiled at him. It was a smile that could break his heart.
  • Kyon, already described as average-looking in Kyon: Big Damn Hero, whose smile is a source of security and relief to Tsuruya.
  • Last Child of Krypton:
    • Shinji finds Asuka beautiful when she smiles.
      Asuka rolled over beside him, her red-gold hair shining in the newborn light. She smiled beatifically, the neural connection clips she wore in her hair blinking faintly. She reached out and stroked his arm gently.
    • Kaworu thinks the same thing of Rei:
      He said something softly to her, and she jerked back in surprise, and then smiled warmly as he approached.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide: In chapter 11, when Asuka is distraught and Shinji tells that he wants to be always with her and live for her, she smiles. Shinji thinks her smile is beautiful.
    Then Asuka's lips curled up, an almost-smile. It was the most beautiful expression Shinji had seen on her face since before she took Keiko into combat.
  • In chapter 9 of Once More with Feeling, Touji notes that Misato’s smiles are dazzling:
    "Uh huh" Misato agreed suddenly, turning one of her dazzling smiles on him. "And its time to real them in" she declared, turning back to the battle before Toji's legs got too shaky from the effects of that awesome smile.
  • The One I Love Is...: After spending several chapters angry and trying to not crying, Shinji asks Asuka out. In answer, she smiles, and he thinks she is gorgeous when she smiles sincerely instead of seeming mad, smug or depressed:
    She gave me her most beautiful smile, before reverting to her arrogant self. If I had not been seated on my bed, I might have fallen on the floor. For that brief moment, she had really been the most gorgeous person I had ever seen.
  • Scar Tissue:
    • After Third Impact Asuka spent most of the time looking angry, depressed or sneering. When she smiled, though, Shinji thought that she was the most beautiful girl in the world.
    • Gender Flipped when Shinji smiles and Asuka thinks that his childish, relaxed smile melt her heart.
  • When Sherlock Holmes smiles for the first time in A Study in Regret, Mary Watson is so joyful that it unlocks all the emotions she's been keeping at bay, and she cries. And Holmes holds her for as long as she needs him.
  • In The Second Try, the main characters -a married couple of Broken Birds- love seeing each other smile for this reason:
    • Asuka liked teasing Shinji because she loved seeing him smile after everything that they'd been through.
    • Shinji loved seeing Asuka smile, too. When she smiles, he usually cannot deny her anything.
      If Asuka had fought that day in her usual manner, he might have been able to persuade her. But he hadn't stood a chance against the still tired yet serene smile that she had worn the whole time, so he eventually had given in when she softly asked him to just drive extra carefully.
    • Asuka complements Rei's smile after Shinji is rescued from Unit-01's core, though she deliberately words it in such a way that everyone other than Rei would mistake it for an insult due to having to stay in character.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton:
    • When Extreme Doormat Shinji smiles he makes Asuka's heart race.
    • In chapter 16 Asuka beams at Shinji, and he feels his heartbeat speeding up:
      Then, to his considerable surprise, she smiled at him, something she hadn't done since before the last Angel battle. Shinji felt his heartbeat accelerating as he looked at her.
  • In Thousand Shinji, when Shinji sees Asuka and Rei smiling after their final transformations, he thinks that both girls look beautiful.
  • In Children of Time, Holmes's smile is rare by the time Beth Lestrade meets him, and her heart melts every time she sees it. On the flip side, Holmes later tells her that she has "no idea what her smile does to his insides". He ends up nicknaming her "sunshine".
  • Higher Learning: In the prologue, when Kaoru sees Shinji smiling, he thinks: "I would have moved the universe to see that smile."
  • In the Touhou Project doujin Kokoro's Smile Is Priceless, Kokoro ends up losing her mask again, this time to Rinnosuke, and he tells her to sell things in the village to learn how to be responsible. In the end, she manages to surprise him by selling everything (wearing an expressionless maid outfit) and receives her mask back. And she gets impressed with the fact that Rinnosuke looked over her, from distance, and she ends up smiling. The quicker is that the artist doesn't show her smiling.
  • This is a dying L's reaction to Erin's "The Reason You Suck" Speech at the end of Story of the Century, and Erin herself is so overwhelmed by it that it renders her speechless.
  • While Katara despised Zuko, she noticed the transforming power of Zuko's smile in The Stalking Zuko Series. Averted by Jet, who thinks Zuko looks extremely strange when he smiles.
  • Cloud is usually very sour and so Zack treats every time Cloud smiles like a momentous occasion in The Fifth Act. Even Genesis notices how attractive Cloud can be when he smiles.
  • In Naruto: the Secret Songs of the Ninja this is how Naruto first notices how pretty Hinata is.
    A sudden random thought struck him at that moment—when she smiled, Hinata was actually quite pretty. He wondered how he'd never managed to notice that before.
  • In Auf Wiedersehen Sweetheart, Feliciano describes Ludwig while playing soccer:
    When Ludwig smiled, he was the most beautiful person in the entire world.
  • In The Rock Farmer's Daughters, Cheese Sandwich finds himself in awe when he witnesses Pinkamena smile for the first time in years.
  • In Expendable Heroes this is how the bond between Team 7 fully forms.
    It was tiny, a mere curling on his lips. But it was still a sight to see. Only then did Sakura understand why Sasuke was seemed so fond of the blond. That timid smile that threatened to break through his usual stoic demeanor... at that moment, Sakura felt like she could take on the world to protect that smile.
  • In Hope for the Heartless, the Horned King, the monstrous lich, has the most beautiful smile of all creatures... according to Avalina, his Morality Pet. She lampshades this trope by saying:
    "You have the most genuine smile of anyone I've ever met. When you're happy, I know it's real. Not a mask, like I've seen other people wear."
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist fanfic build your wings on the way down Edward notes how Gabby, a college student he meets outside a nightclub and Aviv, her intimidating Face of a Thug Ishvalan boyfriend, look nicer when they both smile.
  • The Bridge:
    • The Cutie Mark Crusaders are really affected when the stern, no-nonsense Destroyah gives a real smile, and do their best to get her to do it more often. Later, when she smiles for Xenilla, he is very affected and remarks that he didn't know she was capable of smiling.
    • Flash Sentry's father Stalwart Sentry is very stoic and serious. In a flashback, he smiles when he sees a very young Flash playing with a very young Starlight Glimmer and Sunburst. Fancy Pants remarked that he hadn't seen him smile in a long time and it was good to see.
    • In The Shimmerverse crossover The Bridge: A Shimmer in the Dark, Princess Sunset Shimmer's smile is so beautiful that Rodan subconsciously remembers it even after his memories of her have been erased.
  • Corrin Reacts: Flora is shown to be rather down often and is as much a Broken Bird as she is in canon. Corrin mentions she looks far nicer when she smiles, noting that she very rarely does.
  • Both Shinji and Asuka in Neon Metathesis Evangelion find Rei beautiful when she smiles and adorable when she shows actual interest in things.
  • In this Mystic Messenger fanfic, the main character is absolutely dazzled when V gives her a genuine smile, noting that it felt like she was getting a glimpse of "the old V."
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines has an unusual example in Chapter 31. Misty barters her spare clothes to get a Sceptilite for Ash, and she smiles after he thanks her. Ash notes that, while he has seen Misty smile many times before, there's something different this time, and he likes it.
  • To Hell and Back (Arrowverse): According to Henry, Iris' smiles were rare after Barry's presumed death. During the visit where he learned of Barry's survival, the first sign that something major has happened is how she's positively beaming at him.
  • Fates Collide: During a party, Glynda Goodwitch smiles while she is dancing with Vlad. When Medea sees it, she is happy that Glynda is finally relaxing and having fun.
  • Lost to Dust: Gray's teammates tend to become very happy whenever she gives a rare smile.
  • Son of the Sannin:
    • Chapter 76 has a non-romantic example. While Naruto visits the Hyuga estate, he notices that several of the clan's members (including Neji) look a lot happier than usual. Turns out it's because Hinata found the way to remove the Caged Bird Seal from their foreheads.
    • Inverted in Chapter 78 with Sai. He smiles when Ino confronts him during the raid to Root's headquarters. Ino calls him out on giving her a fake smile, but Sai reveals it's not fake, and he's genuinely happy to see her.
  • The Red Dragon's Saber: When Artoria first appears, she has her usual stoic look. When she identifies Issei and Asia, she smiles. Issei is awestruck, telling himself he didn't think she could be any lovelier, but he was wrong. Asia also likes her smile and decides to trust her because of it.
  • In Fire Emblem Awakening: Invisible Ties, Lucina is noted to be truly beautiful whenever she smiles or laugh, which isn't often.
  • In X-Men: The Early Years, Scott Summers is sour-tempered, moody, snarky and anti-social... but when he smiles, Jean Grey's heart skips a beat.
    Jean Grey studied the framed picture she was holding. She'd managed to capture one of Scott's rare unguarded smiles in the photograph. No one else had ever seen this particular picture of Scott. She'd made sure of that. This was her picture, and it made her heart skip a beat every time she saw it. Scott had been sending that smile to her and only her that afternoon in the park. That's the reason no other human being would ever see this picture. This was her Scott and no one else's.
  • The Long Road 2015: Instances where Jack smiles at Hiccup in particular garner interesting reactions from the latter. Holding his hand also does this, as Hiccup notes that Jack, unlike all other people he's ever met, has smooth, unblemished hands.
  • During Cross Cases, both Sam and Dean are in bad places in their canon arcs and aren't up to smiling. Dresden remarks how much younger Sam looks when he smiles and laughs, like any other thirtysomething guy joking around with friends, and once Dean's had the Mark of Cain removed, he grins at Sam, a smile Sam hadn't seen Dean make in two years and thought he'd never see again, as the brothers set out together to save the world once again.
  • Fate/Black Dawn: When she was a Servant, Arturia was The Stoic who rarely smiled, but when she did it lit up the room. Here, when she is king, she never smiles, and it kills Shirou when he sees her displaying all the emotions of a statue. He is delighted when he does actually make her smile, if only briefly.
  • Unbreakable Red Silken Thread: Heather, who typically smirks or grins when in a good mood rarely if ever truly smiles. The few times she does are noticed by whoever happens to see it. The same is true with her laugh, which is usually described as a 'harsh barking' opposed to her genuine laughter that has been compared to "soft bells ringing". Sammy also plays this straight due to how shy she is, with the rare occasions she truly smiles standing out.
  • Worm Grand Order: Taylor Hebert gives Vista a smile. Vista describes it as something she wants to see every day.

    Film — Animated 
  • Sadness from Inside Out. She spends most of the movie frowning, moping, crying, and sometimes making sarcastic remarks. But the one or two occasions when she does smile...
  • Chuckles the Clown in Toy Story 3 is a Perpetual Frowner due to his backstory of being accidentally left behind by his, Lotso and Big Baby’s original owner, seeing Lotso become the tyrant ruler of Sunnyside Day Care, and he (Chuckles) being one of the few toys to escape Sunnyside after being mentally broken by Lotso. Later on, his current owner Bonnie has drawn pictures of all her toys, with Chuckles’s picture having a grin on his face. The other toys comment that Bonnie really captured his smile and it looks good. Unseen to them, Chuckles looks at it and breaks into a real grin.
  • Zootopia's Nick Wilde spends most of the movie being a Smug Smiler, constantly snarking at other characters' expenses with a contemptuous smirk—but in the end, when he joins the police force, he breaks into a huge, sincere smile as Judy pins his badge on him.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Completely subverted in Addams Family Values when Perpetual Frowner Wednesday Addams decides to smile after being tortured by Disney films and other musicals at a ridiculously cheery summer camp. When she does smile, some of the other camp girls start to cry in terror.
  • In the film Lock Up, at the end Stallone's character tells the captain who walks him to the exit that he'll miss his incredible smile, at which point the captain slowly smiles.
  • Aurelia in Love Actually. In the commentary, Richard Curtis says he immediately decided to cast Lucia Moniz after she smiled during her audition, and immediately went from dour plain woman to radiant beauty.
  • A well-known scene in Ninotchka invokes this trope. Leon attempts to make Ninotchka laugh and/or smile by telling her jokes, but it falls flat when she doesn't find them funny in a room full of cackling men. Leon becomes frustrated and starts to insult her as he leans back in his chair, tipping over with the table behind falling on top of him. Ninotchka shrieks with laughter with the rest of the room, much to everyone's surprise. Leon is annoyed at first, but then laughs too, happy that he got her to smile.
  • Subverted early in the Pirates of the Caribbean cycle when the creators had to cut every incidence where Commodore Norrington smiled (they are still in the deleted scenes on the Curse of the Black Pearl DVD). Jack Davenport's smile was charming enough for the writers to go Draco in Leather Pants on their own character and start re-writing him accordingly — these scenes were cut out because the character wasn't supposed to have so much of the audience's sympathy.
  • Legends of the Fall: When Susannah smiles at Samuel, she positively beams to the point that Siskel & Ebert specifically pointed out that smile to show Julia Ormond was a star.
  • Mackenna's Gold: Gloomy Dark Chick Hesh-Ke looks a lot less threatening the very few times she smiles throughout the film (always at her former lover Mackenna).
  • Sense and Sensibility: Elinor, as played by Emma Thompson, who lights up with one bright, beaming, radiant smile at the end of the film and immediately negates about five minutes' worth of Inelegant Blubbering. Edward's besotted expression says it all.
  • The Ironic Hell for suicides in Wristcutters is just like the real world, except that nothing works, everything's kind of gray, and it's impossible to smile. After seeing nothing but despondent looks from all of the characters for the entire movie, the last shot—the leads smiling at one another—is like a wash of beautiful sunlight.
  • Lavinia from Titus, after her rape and mutilation. Despite the horrible physical and psychological torture she has endured (and is still going through), the rare moments when she smiles, such as when her nephew presents her with new prosthetic hands, are heartwarming - and the camera continues to emphasise her beauty with close-ups of her face.

  • Meghan Whalen Turner's short story collection Instead Of Three Wishes has the protagonist of the titular story fitting the trope. Her honest smile "could make flowers bloom early" and stuns the elf king who's known her for a while when he finally sees her smile for real.
    • Turner likes this trope. Helen/Eddis from her Queen's Thief series is described as mannish and decidedly not beautiful... but even the dour Magus admits that she has a lovely smile.
  • Number Ten Ox's description of Lotus Cloud in Bridge of Birds. He goes on about how she looks like just a normal, unremarkable peasant girl. "and then she smiled..." and Ox falls instantly in love, as does every other male with a working libido. She is a goddess in disguise, after all.
  • Anne Abbott in They Shall Have Stars by James Blish. "Anne Abbott was one of those exceedingly rare plain girls whose smiles completely transform them, as abruptly as the bursting of a star-shell" (ch. 3).
  • The Dresden Files: Minor side-character Vince Graver from Turn Coat was described as The Nondescript until his last scene, when he smiles. Dresden notes that the smile completely changes him from a generic average Joe to someone who could light up the room just by being there.
  • Sharpe: The title character is described as looking perpetually sardonic and mocking due to a Rugged Scar, except when he smiles. Which isn't often, and then he looks kind and charming. Since he normally looks like some ancient God of War in mid-battle, this is an improvement. It is worth noting that he is always described as roguishly handsome, it's just that he looks kind when he smiles.
  • In Tales of Kolmar, the usually serious, inclined-to-brood mage Vilkas is noted by one character to be "pleasant enough, if only he'd smile now and again". Later she says her wish is granted, and she notes "a broad glorious smile that lit up his face and showed the joy that danced behind his eyes". At the end of the series he's more inclined to smiling in general.
  • Asher in Someone Else's War is a rare male example. His face is heavily scarred, and he spends most of his time shunning emotion as weakness. Smiling (or laughing) makes a huge improvement to his appearances, but he doesn't do it often.
  • Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings Appendixes has been described to look solemn and grave but when he smiled, he appeared kingly.
    His ways were hard and long and he became somewhat grim to look upon, unless he chanced to smile and yet he seemed to Men worthy of honour, as a king that is in exile, when he did not hide his true shape.
  • Ten-year-old Skeeter Traps from Chronicles Of Magic is almost constantly scowling or sporting a psychotic Slasher Smile. Thus, it shocks everyone when she gives them a genuine grin.
  • In the original The Blue Lagoon by H. Devere Stacpoole:
    "My box," said she; and as she spoke, holding it up as if to prove its safety, the little plain face altered to the face of an angel.
    She had smiled.
    When Emmeline Lestrange smiled it was absolutely as if the light of Paradise had suddenly flashed upon her face: the happiest form of childish beauty suddenly appeared before your eyes, dazzled them and was gone.
  • Words of Radiance (second book of The Stormlight Archive) has a variant. Shallan Davar is a Broken Bird who is very good at pretending to be a Genki Girl. When Kaladin chides her for being naive and sheltered, she calmly explains how she is very very not, and he finally understands the context of her rare true smiles.
    He saw it in her eyes. The anguish, the frustration. The terrible nothing that clawed inside and sought to smother her. She knew. It was there, inside. She had been broken.
    Then she smiled. Oh, storms. She smiled anyway.
    It was the single most beautiful thing he'd seen in his entire life.
  • The Great Gatsby: Gatsby has a glorious smile:
    He smiled understandingly — much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced — or seemed to face — the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.
  • Sandra Paris (a.k.a. the White Queen) in the Nick Velvet stories. In her first appearance ("The Theft of the White Queen's Menu"), Nick is astounded that Sandra has been able to keep him under observation in a casino without him noticing. Sandra replies that no one ever notices her unless she smiles. She then smiles at him, and she goes from looking like an innocent librarian to completely dominating the room.
  • Kristine Kochanski in the Red Dwarf novels. Curiously, it never comes up in the original TV series, but in the novels repeated mention is given to her "pinball smile" (see quotes)
  • Dr. Greta Helsing:
    • Francis Varney struggles with Supernatural Angst and bouts of I Hate Past Me, but when he's reminded that his friends sincerely care about him, Greta observes that his smile is absolutely radiant:
      "...that odd, uncharacteristic, brilliant smile, like the sun rising over a field full of mist, turning it from blank impenetrable barrier to opalescence."
    • When the newbie teenage vampire Emily is able to get away from the Paris catacombs and settle down as a trainee monster vet, Greta offers her full support, which elicits a smile that "seemed to light up the warm dimness of the stall like a candle flame."
  • Pride and Prejudice: Mr. Darcy's social awkwardness usually comes across as an aloof Sugar-and-Ice Personality, but the stoic mask cracks completely when he learns that Elizabeth has come to care for him. Oddly for the trope, Elizabeth misses it:
    Had Elizabeth been able to encounter his eye, she might have seen how well the expression of heartfelt delight, diffused over his face, became him...
  • In the first book of James Blish's Cities In Flight series, They Shall Have Stars, the main female character, a secretary at a science lab, is described as plain, and knows it. When a visiting spaceman dropping off some samples finds himself taken with her, she angrily accuses him of faking being nice in order to seduce her. He is shocked and equally angry at this accusation, and barks back:
    "[...]the most beautiful woman in the world would bathe in fuming nitric acid to duplicate your smile!"
  • Fate/Requiem: When Voyager smiles, Erice Utsumi compares it to a shining star or a window straight to the heart.
  • Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the Angel, by Peter S. Beagle: The Dybbuk's dead-black eyes convey the millennium of grief and pain he's suffered, but when he's shown genuine kindness for the first time, he reacts with a smile that's every bit as beautiful as his eyes are sad.

    Live Action TV 
  • The 100 gives us Lexa, the young, beautiful Grounder commander. Being in charge of a violent Proud Warrior Race civilization that doesn't allow her to show any sign of weakness, she rarely shows any emotion at all no matter what happens. It takes many episodes of increasingly romantic interaction with Clarke for her to gradually drop the mask, and when she finally does crack a smile, it's a truly heartwarming sight to behold.
  • Angel: Angel may be The Stoic and broody, but we get to see in "Dead End" that he has an absolutely radiant smile. Cordelia even remarks he should smile more often.
  • In Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Detective Rosa Diaz is normally scowling or smirking sarcastically. But when she genuinely smiles it's like she's another person entirely. Trying to get her to smile for a Christmas photo takes up an entire subplot of one episode.
  • Every morning, Richard Castle brings Kate Beckett a cup of coffee just so he can see a smile on her face. Given what a serious and sombre character Beckett often is (particularly in the early seasons), and given the way Beckett's (and Stana Katic's) face lights up whenever she smiles, it's hard to blame him.
  • Chuck: Sarah Walker is not a spy to be fucked with. She'll murder you nine ways from Sunday if you cross her or her team and especially if you hurt Chuck, BUT if you happen to get a genuine smile out of her, like Chuck did in the pilot episode and continues to do throughout the series, she's the prettiest damn thing you've ever seen in your life. You try not falling in love with this smile.
  • Criminal Minds: Aaron Hotchner is known for his perpetual frown and stoic demeanour, but sometimes when he's around his young son or in a social situation with his team his entire face will light up in a truly lovely smile. There's a period of a few years surrounding his divorce and his wife's death where that happens vanishingly rarely, but during Season 7 he starts dating, finally starting to get over his guilt and grief, and you can see the other members of the team (especially Rossi) take absolute delight in seeing him smile again.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Twelfth Doctor, before he passes out and loses all of his memories of her in "Hell Bent", asks Clara Oswald, his companion, to do one last thing for him: "Smile for me." Sadly, she's too heartbroken to do it.
    • Twelve himself is an example of this trope. When The Stoic, Knight in Sour Armor, Perpetual Frowner gets an opportunity for a genuine smile his entire face lights up.
  • The same can be said for Danielle Panabaker's Caitlin Snow on The Flash. She's known for her stiff demeanor, but if you get her to smile, you could power all of Central City.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Though he's becoming increasingly sombre in disposition when Jon is truly happy, it really stands out. When he's reunited with Sansa in Season 6, she is the main source of his adorable rare smiles.
    • Despite introducing herself as a no-nonsense Little Miss Snarker, Lyanna Mormont looks adorable while smiling during Jon's Awesome Moment of Crowning (which she initiated).
    • Brienne of Tarth. After Jaime knights her, she gives what is, to date, the only full-blown, beaming smile we've ever seen from her, and it is radiant.
  • Sakura Nishihori/Bouken Pink in GoGo Sentai Boukenger started out as a super serious member of the SGS and can't smile ever. It takes one mission to finally make her smile for a boy she's taking care of. As her leader said, her smile is possessed by only hers alone, and during the climax of the series, she did declare that her smile was her greatest treasure.
  • In Jessica Jones (2015) the number of times Jessica smiles in the first season could be counted on one hand. When she does smile she looks gorgeous, but it usually means she's being forced to do so by Kilgrave, as he's the one who enjoys her smile.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Drive's female lead Kiriko Shijima is stern and unflappable, with Shinnosuke making a big deal out of the rare moments when she smiles because it shows that she's not all business. An early episode shows that it's partly trauma: during the Global Freeze, the Paint Roidmude almost turned her into a picture, if not for the intervention of Proto-Drive.note  It also gets brought up in The Movie: when Shinnosuke asks his Kid from the Future Eiji who his mother is, Eiji says that she doesn't smile very often, but when she does it's very meaningful, prompting Shinnosuke to glance at Kiriko and mutter "It can't be..."
    • Subverted in Kamen Rider Amazons, where tough, solemn-faced Takai goes Undercover as Lovers with Haruka to infiltrate a restaurant run by Amazons. Everyone encourages her to smile to make the cover more convincing, and they brighten when she tries, but she ultimately gives up and admits she just can't do it.
  • Penny Parker (there's that name again!), the recurring character Teri Hatcher played on MacGyver, made her debut in an episode called... "Every Time She Smiles". In the episode, it is commented on how guys just seem to lose their judgment when she smiles at them.
  • One episode of The Middle had the Heck family assigning individual New Year's resolutions to each other in an anonymous draw, Mike was told to smile more; later the family revealed to each other who assigned what to who, and Frankie says that Mike has a beautiful smile.
  • In Mr. Robot, Elliot is completely cynical and broken after spending his whole life in a dark place. But whenever he smiles, it is always shown to be heartwarming.
  • Dr. K from Power Rangers RPM. For a character that has No Social Skills whatsoever and comes across as a deadpan Little Miss Snarker, along with an extremely depressing past, she has a very endearing smile—a rare occurrence throughout the series. This becomes a sign that she opens up to her team as she does it more and more. It even becomes a plot point in the episode "If Venjix Won" when Ziggy Grover brings her the gift of a smile on her birthday by performing an elaborate shadow puppet show while being trapped in a cave.
  • It seems to be a pattern with people named Parker. Ms. Parker of The Pretender also counts.
  • Schitt's Creek:
    • Stevie Budd rarely if ever smiles, and if she does its usually more of a smirk. That all changes when she meets travel blogger Emir Kaplan in the fifth season. As they banter, she smiles more than she has throughout the previous four seasons of the show.
    • You can basically measure David's character growth by his smile — in the beginning of the show, he rarely smiles, and his few smiles are closed-mouthed half-smirks. He starts to smile more and more as the show goes on, but it's not until the fifth season, when he's in a happy and committed relationship and is in the best place emotionally that he's ever been in, that he starts fully open-mouth smiling more and more often in a way he would never have before.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Sarina, one of the Augments that works with Bashir in "Statistical Improbabilities", is catatonic in that appearance due to her senses being too slow for her brain to process. In a later appearance, Bashir is able to get her highly accelerated neural pathways in tune with her senses, breaking her out of her catatonia... and the first time she smiles, Bashir is absolutely smitten with her.
  • Generally inverted in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Cameron does not smile much—and every time she is shown smiling, it is creepy as hell because the audience knows she's smiling to manipulate people. The sole exception to this is in "Allison From Palmdale" where a scene showing her laughing and smiling is played as this trope—as Cameron is in her "Allison" persona and thinks she's human, and thus feels real emotions.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In the final scene of "Two", the woman smiles when the man says that her dress is "pryekrasnyy," meaning "beautiful."
  • In the Korean Rom Com drama You Are Beautiful, after a long day of getting lost in the city, when Hwang Tae-Kyung and Go Mi Nam who's really Go Mi Nyeo, posing as her twin brother while he's in America getting his plastic surgery fixed finally get back to the office Tae-Kyung, whose face is often wearing some gloomy, stoic, and/or grumpy look, smiles the most adorable little boy-like smile and makes Go Mi Nam's heart beat loud and hard. Naturally, since this is out-of-character for him after the slow-motion reveal his smile disappears just as fast as it came.

  • Shawn Mullins' "Lullaby" mentions as much about the woman who's the subject of the song.
    All her friends tell her she's so pretty
    But she'd be a whole lot prettier
    If she smiled every once in a while
  • "Here in town you can tell he's been down for a while / But, my God, it's so beautiful when the boy smiles," - Anna Nalick, Breathe (2am)
  • Dia Frampton, "Inventing Shadows":
    Don't you know the world shines
    Every time you smile?
    Why can't you just smile?
  • "Absolutely" by Nine Days:
    This is the story of a girl
    Who cried a river and drowned the whole world
    And while she looked so sad in photographs
    I absolutely love her
    When she smiles

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Invoked by Molly Holly, who had previously been known as the cute smiley one on many rosters full of scowling brutes and vagabonds. When she stopped smiling, suddenly she wasn't so cute anymore, till it was time to participate in photo shoots and stuff, where people were reminded why she once had a beauty contest gimmick.
  • Matt Sydal's smile, his actual smile and not his annoying smirk, was said to be worth a million bucks by The Irish Luchador Billy McNeil.
  • Sara Del Rey and The World Famous Kana, who both smiled quite a bit initially before becoming angry at the world and smearing their faces with paint\eyeshadow and covering them with masks. Sara pretty much stopped smiling for the most part, whereas Kana still smiled semi-frequently but it gained a new ominous connotation since she was always up to no good.
  • Willow Nightingale's intro:
    "From The Bronx, NY, she's got big hair and an even bigger smile. 'The Babe With The Power', WILLOW NIGHTINGALE!"

    Video Games 
  • Quote in Blade Strangers is a Perpetual Frowner 80% of the game, but in his reveal trailer and when he meets Curly again Quote has a warm smile on his face.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VII Remake:
      • Cloud is a mostly Perpetual Frowner and is mocked by various characters for it, which is implied to be an affectation he does to look cool. But when he lets his mask slip, his smile is very cute - other characters act delighted to see it, and Jessie in particular cooes over it.
      • The lyrics to the ending theme, "Hollow", are (according to Word of God) from Cloud's perspective and concern getting to see someone's beautiful smile again... though whose smile this is is left ambiguous.
    • In Final Fantasy VIII
      • While he never smiles at all in the entire game, Squall finally smiles in the very end.
      • In the same way, during the last appearance of Seifer, we can see him with a very sweet smile, rather than the Smug Smirk he used to show throughout the adventure, as he watches the BGU flying over the bridge where he was fishing, and it is very heartwarming.
    • Lightning in Final Fantasy XIII and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, especially in the epilogue of the latter.
    • Final Fantasy XV:
      • Noctis Lucis Caelum, the main player character, is usually seen with a straight face to match his sarcastic demeanor. However, that did not stop both the game and fandom from taking note of the fact that his smile is not only rare but very beautiful and cherished. One famous moment his reunion with his friends after the timeskip and the last campfire scene at the end of the game.
      • The Episode Ignis DLC also gives us more evaluation as to why Ignis nearly sacrifices himself all to save Noct from performing the ultimate Heroic Sacrifice in the main game as well. He lives to see his beloved friend smile.
  • Vergil from Devil May Cry almost never smiles, but in DMC5 he lets a smile cross his face when facing his Worthy Opponent brother.
    • Lady from DMC3 is so hardened she rarely smiles at all, at least till the anime where she softens up and gives a big radiant smile at one point.
  • In Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, Albus' Last Request as his soul is sacrificed for Dominus is for Shanoa to give him one last smile. She does.
  • Ryu from Street Fighter becomes a Perpetual Frowner in later titles but when he reunites with Ken and Chun-Li in the SFV he has unmistakable warm smile on his face.
  • Neku in The World Ends with You is usually a stoic Deadpan Snarker, but during a flashback in the second week, it's just awesome to see such a withdrawn character smile without a hint of cynicism or sarcasm.
  • Resident Evil
  • Raizze Haimer, the Emotionless Girl of Mitsumete Knight, has a special event and CG, where she has a rare beautiful smile, when the Asian is poisoned and she manages to save him. The game's CG Gallery names this CG "Mezurashii Egao" ("An unusual smiling face").
  • Taiga spends a lot of his interactions with Muriel in Duel Savior Destiny wishing she'd lighten up a little. He's never really at ease near her due to her stoic attitude, so when she smiles and laughs at the end of Mia's route he's terrified and runs away.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, even after Emotionless Girl Presea regains her soul and starts being capable of emotions again, she's got a lot of trauma to deal with and is mostly The Stoic. But after rescuing Colette (and being forgiven for her part in the most recent kidnapping, since she was basically under Mind Control), she smiles for real, and everyone notes how cute it is.
  • In Tales of Berseria, seeing Velvet smile post-breakage is a rare treat. Typical triggers for her include Laphicet, her eventual Character Development, Laphicet, her True Companions, and Laphicet.
  • In The Sandman, one character describes the normally stoic and emotionally repressed Sophie as having "a smile like a goddess of the sun". And indeed, in the best ending, we get to see her flash a lovely smile for the first time all game.
  • One level in Elite Beat Agents has this trope as its very goal, as you must help a younger Leonardo da Vinci win the heart of a certain beautiful but emotionless young woman. Win, and she does give a beautiful smile, which inspires Leo to draw a certain famous painting.
  • In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, when Namine laughs, Sora says he likes it when she expresses happiness.
  • Isa at the end of Kingdom Hearts III.
  • Fallout 4 has Cait, the chem-addicted gladiatorial fighter. When she's successfully cured of her addiction, the only physical change is that her normally dour expression is replaced with a beaming, optimistic smile
  • Mass Effect:
  • In South Park: The Stick of Truth, the New Kid, aka Douchebag, only smiles when Butters uses his healing touch on him.
    • In South Park: The Fractured but Whole, the New Kid, aka Butthole, emotes a lot more often, usually in battle, where their expressions can range from anger, sadness, and happiness whenever they use a superhero ability. But during cutscenes, they smile at exactly three moments, the first being when they play the mandolin and flugelhorn while performing community service for the old people, showing how much they're enjoying it. The second time is after they and the other members Coon and Friends finally rescue Scrambles from the police. The third time is when the DLC sidequest "Bring the Crunch" is completed after you defeat the alien invading Lake Tardicaca, where the New Kid has the biggest smile on their face along with the other heroes when they win.
  • Sin Kiske from Guilty Gear Xrd tries to invoke this with Ramlethal, during her cinematic attacks and winposes she loves to deliver a toothy Slasher Smile, be he wants to see her smile for real. In fact in -REVELATOR-, the slasher smile from her winpose is replaced with a wistful frown. She also goes out with a smile.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Zelda for most of the game has a solemn and serious expression but the Great Deku Tree remarked that she has a smile like the sun and they greatly wished to feel its warmth again. The few times that she does smile like in the True Ending is absolutely adorable and beautiful.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's World Championship 2011: Over the Nexus, Misaki displays a cold attitude towards everyone throughout the entire game. In the ending, however, she congratulates the player with this.
  • This might seem to be a strange trope to bring up when you're talking about a Perpetual Smiler, but Sans the Skeleton from Undertale apparently has a distinct enough difference between the smile he normally sports and the smile he makes when he's genuinely happy that it's even recognizable in a photograph.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses:
    • Due to Byleth being The Stoic to the point where some will comment that their impassiveness is offputting, the rare instances in which they do smile tend to draw this reaction. When their father, Jeralt, takes note of it, he confesses that returning to Garreg Mach Monastery was worth it just to see them smile.
      • The Cindered Shadows side story reveals that their mother was similarly stoic. Both Jeralt and Aelfric wax poetic about her smile.
    • Cyril and Lysithea's supports center around Cyril's illiteracy. Lysithea starts helping Cyril by reading lists for him, but at one point asks why he doesn't try learning on his own. Cyril replies that he enjoys having Lysithea read things for him as she always seems happy when he asks for help- and when she's happy, she smiles, and he thinks she's pretty when she smiles. This flusters Lysithea greatly, and Cyril is surprised to learn that other people haven't told her this.
  • Yakuza Kiwami 2: If Kiryu manages to get Shoko to lower her guard and let her real personality shine through a little in her interactions with the rest of the cast at Four Shine, everyone she comes into contact with will comment on how her real smile is much more beautiful than her professional one.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • In "Rise From The Ashes" from the first game, your client is Chief Prosecutor Lana Skye who spends the entire case from stoic to irritated to angry. It's stated repeatedly by her sister Ema, and other people that she used to smile a lot more and after a certain case, she completely changed, but no action from her ever indicates any of this was ever true. Until you actually solve the case and prove that Ema did not murder Prosecutor Neil Marshall like Lana genuinely believed and that the real killer of her case and the one mentioned before was Damon Gant, Chief of Police, meaning Ema was innocent all along. The revelation finally hits her and she finally shows that smile everyone talked about all case long. And it is an AMAZING one!
    • In Case 2 of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, Jinxie Tenma, the daughter of the defendant, usually has an expression that ranges from gloomy to terrified. Which is no small part caused by her demanding job as a maid, her fear of Youkai, and her being in the middle of a merger that is resulting in a murder and the false accusation of her father and hero. By the end of the trial where her father is found innocent and debunking Tenma Taro's existence, she is so relieved that she smiles for the first time in the whole Episode. Something that Apollo and Athena make note of.
  • In Fate/stay night, Saber rarely smiles for herself as she always smiled for others. So when she gives a genuine smile in the Fate route, Shirou couldn't help but feel warm after seeing her smile.
  • In Little Busters!, Nishizono Mio gets this treatment.
    Mio: I'm so glad.
    Riki: I am, too.
    Mio: ...why?
    Riki: Because I now know you can smile like that.
  • Katawa Shoujo:
    • Hanako is perpetually downcast Shrinking Violet because of her physical and mental scars caused by the fire that killed her parents. Her smile is recognized in-game as one of the most beautiful sights the protagonist has ever seen.
    • Shizune who normally has a very serious, almost bossy demeanor also seems to have a nice smile. At the very least, it's nice enough that Hisao tells her that she should smile more during her Act 1 ending.
  • Kyoko Kirigiri and Touko Fukawa in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc do have sprites that could be described as smiling, but in Kirigiri's case it's more of an arrogant smirk while Fukawa's would be better described as a sneer or a nervous chuckle. However, both have two standout cases where they do smile for real: in Kirigiri's final Free-Time Event, she manages to tease Naegi again and his reaction has her seemingly trying to hold in her laughter and failing (this sprite never gets used elsewhere). For Fukawa it's at the start of the 6th chapter when she sees Naegi safe and sound after he was supposedly executed in the last chapter. The other case is in an old class photo seen after beating the game from when everyone was in school together, in a picture taken during a sports festival where both can be seen with genuinely warm smiles.
    • Following in their footsteps, Maki Harukara from Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony has a grand total of two sprites where she doesn't look serious or angry and one of them is a very cute smile.
  • Monster Prom: When Vera smiles and it isn't a Psychotic Smirk or a Slasher Smile, it's generally considered to be a very beautiful sight. This is recognized in-universe in which case Oz/Yellow ends up dating her, as the ending polaroid will have a comment from him about her smile.
    Oz: The world stops when she smiles...
  • Kaori Yae in the Tokimeki Memorial 2 game series does this, particularly after she has recovered from her Heroic BSoD. Lampshaded several times in the saga by the protagonist, such as in Dancing Summer Vacation, saying the following, as he notices how dazzling she is when she smiles:
    Protagonist: I have the feeling it's the first time I see her smiling, without being on her guards. It feels like she's a different person.
  • In Spirit Hunter: NG, if the player has Akira smile via the Judgement system, the other characters will often remark on how charming and handsome it makes him look, especially since he's normally quite moody.

  • In Dubious Company, after learning that Tiren almost got the team killed over a toy:
    Gen. Izor: Aren't you going to discipline her?
    Cap. Walter: Are you kidding? This is the first time I've seen her this happy while not being drunk, violent, or both.
  • Fate/type Redline: Sakura Saber, Okita Souji, is introduced as very stoic and serious and scares Kanata Akagi by quickly killing an attacker. When they introduce themselves, Okita gives a smile which really affects Akagi.
  • Lackadaisy:
    • Mordecai of all people is given one of these in a side comic about what would make him smile. Tracy states that while there were meaner ways of answering that question, she went for the more "saccharine" of explanations: remembering a happy moment from his mostly crappy childhood involving his little sister. He cracks a small smile that not only softens his presence considerably but damn near makes him seem normal.
    • Viktor is a giant grump with a bad temper who has been described as a "badger caught in a wire fence with a personality to match." As such, he always has either a scowl or a Death Glare as his default expressions. The few times he does smile make him appear far friendlier and more approachable than he usually is.
  • In Narbonic, Helen describes Dave this way.
    Artie: You like his smile?
    Helen: It's rare, but when it's genuine, it simply lights up the room.
    Artie: Then why do you do such terrible things to him?
    Helen: Well, his scream is pretty cute too.
  • In True Villains, Bayn is an 88-year-old Evil Sorcerer cursed into an eight-year-old body, remarkable for his phlegmatic attitude, formal speech patterns, and "complete rejection of having fun." The six-year-old Mia's Precocious Crush on him is a source of constant irritation for him, so when he smiles for the first time because of something she wrote, she is absolutely overjoyed.
  • Gray Yeon from Weak Hero is a naturally reserved boy who doesn't have a lot to smile about. When he first does so, his best friend makes a note of it. When he does it again in the presence of a new group of friends, they all blush in pride at him opening up.

    Western Animation 
  • Bojack Horseman has the final scene of season 4. Upon finally having a relationship he didn't wreck with his toxic influence, making amends with his friends and starting to grow as a person, BoJack is rewarded with Hollyhock stating that she still wants him in her life as a brother figure, prompting him to give his first sincere and genuine smile in the entire show.
  • In Castlevania, Dracula has the sweetest smile in the series but it's a understandably rare occasion.
  • Hinted at by the producers of Daria involving the title character when they used the trope namer song in the credits of "Boxing Daria".
  • Inverted in an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. Perpetual Frowner Mandy enters a beauty pagent and Grim and Billy spend the entire episode trying to make her smile. When Mandy finally does smile it breaks reality.
    Sir Raven: You fools! You've messed with the natural order!
  • Kaeloo: Mr. Cat's default expression is an annoyed frown, and when he does smile it's usually a Slasher Smile, an arrogant, smug smile, or a smile at seeing someone else miserable. When he smiles for real in episodes like Episode 105 or Episode 129, it's a truly heartwarming moment, usually between him and Kaeloo.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has several characters for whom a natural, happy smile is difficult, which makes it that much more meaningful when they do pull it off:
    • Pinkie Pie and her family were a whole group of Perpetual Frowners living on a rock farm. When Pinkie witnessed Rainbow Dash's sonic rainboom, the sight of it caused her to smile for the first time and throw her own party. With that, the rest of her family smiles too, and she earns her cutie mark.
    • Babs Seed from "One Bad Apple" is a bully who usually sports a Slasher Smile when first introduced, but when she pulls a Heel–Face Turn and is initiated into the Cutie Mark Crusaders, the feeling of acceptance makes her pull a smile that's just goddamn adorable.
    • Maud Pie is the most stable stoic-bordering-on-Emotionless Girl pony among the show's recurring characters, about as far a cry from her Genki Girl sister Pinkie as one can get. It makes the few times she actually smiles in the show that much more impactful, usually when she sees that her sister is also happy.
    • Starlight Glimmer, the Big Bad of Season 5 is this when she ends up pulling a Heel–Face Turn and accepts Twilight's offer of friendship and tutelage. Her smile looks more genuine than it did in her other appearances.
    • Even Discord has his moments. Normally, he smiles in a smug, mean-spirited way. However, after his Heel–Face Turn, he tends to smile in a more genuine, friendly way. It's adorable, in a weird way.
  • Star Wars Rebels: Surprisingly enough, when Agent Kallus actually has cause to genuinely smile, as opposed to the smug smirk he usually does, it's like this. The warmest one comes in "Zero Hour", after his defection from the Empire, when he thanks Kanan and the Ghost crew for taking him in despite their pasts, and Kanan thanks him for everything he did.
  • Steven Universe: White Diamond. One of Pink's drawings in "Familiar" shows her with a genuinely happy smile, and after Steven convinces her to stop forcing her perfectionism on everyone, she gives a small but sincere smile at the end of "Change Your Mind", and it's adorable.
  • Storm Hawks: Master Cyclonis' default "smile" is usually a Psychotic Smirk when she isn't frowning, but in "Five Days", she lets loose a genuinely adorable happy smile upon repairing a crystal that shows an image of her grandmother and herself as an infant.
  • In Teen Titans, it's implied that Beast Boy feels this way toward the Stoic and Cynical Raven, as he puts immense effort into getting her to smile.
  • Arcee in Transformers: Prime has seen countless death and destruction in the war with the Decepticons, but when her friends comfort her, she'll start opening up around them and surprisingly give off an innocent smile as a sign of friendship.
  • Ice Bear of We Bare Bears usually sports a neutral or frustrated expression, but smiles on occasions.

    Real Life 
  • Certain people like to try and invoke this trope, telling particularly dour-looking strangers, women in particular, to smile in public. Unfortunately being asked to smile can get grating if it happens often enough, and the person making the comment also has no idea what's going on in that woman's life that might be the reason she's not smiling (quite a few women have stories of being told to smile when they're dealing with something like a death in the family). So a backlash has started, particularly in feminist forums, with the consensus that people should just mind their own business and not try to get random women to smile.
  • Formula One driver and resident Iceman Kimi Räikkönen talked about this trope during the podium interview in the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, his first (and so far most iconic) victory after two seasons away from the sport.
    "Last time you guys was giving me shit because I didn't really smile enough, so..."
  • Alfred Hitchcock wasn't as aloof and pretentious as his perpetual frown might lead you to think. When not posing for a photo, he was much more joyful.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): When He Smiles


Tangled: The Series

Rapunzel lampshades the first time Cassandra ever laughed.

How well does it match the trope?

3.75 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / WhenSheSmiles

Media sources:

Main / WhenSheSmiles