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Stepford Smiler / Fan Works

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Female Examples

Azumanga Daioh

Code Geass

  • Of Siblings and Masks: Nunnally acts like a just and compassionate ruler but really, she is a bitter, broken shell of a person who outright hates the world that took her beloved brother from her.


  • It can be surmised that Tsuruya has been raised to be Depressed from the first chapter of the "Initial Conflict" arc of Kyon: Big Damn Hero.
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  • Children of an Elder God: In chapter 22, Asuka tries to smile when her friend Anna tries to comfort her, but it was plainly visible that she was still in pain.
  • In The Demon's Contract, Kasumi Tendo is deeply broken from being forced to be the caretaker for her family since she was nine years old. While everyone reacted normally (for them) to Ranma's rampage before he goes back in time, Kasumi simply kept on smiling, even when Ranma explicitly said he was going to kill her. After he used pressure points to break down her mental barriers, Kasumi cries, curses, and breaks everything in sight before taking it out on the one she blames most for her life: her father.
  • In How the Light Gets In, Laurel has been suffering from chronic depression, addiction, and an anxiety disorder all her life, so all her smiles have shades of this. A specific instance of this happens at the end of chapter 3, where Dean notes of her smile at Oliver:
    "It's one of those soft, sweet, unwaveringly kind smiles of hers meant to comfort. Dean knows these smiles of hers well. About half the time, they're a lie. She uses them to draw people's attention away from her trembling hands. She was so irritated when they stopped working on him."
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  • Kindred: Growing up, Snow White always pretended to be happy, even when she wasn't. However, she'd cry in her sleep because she wasn't conscious and able to stop herself from crying.
  • Remnant Inferis: DOOM:
    • Ruby does everything in her power to maintain an upbeat demeanor despite all the trauma that fighting Hell is putting her through. She actually pulls it off so well that some people find it disturbing how someone can remain so childish and innocent given the traumatic circumstances. Even Yang finds it downright scary how she can act like her normal self even while caked in blood after killing a group of demons. Of course, the mask slips every now and then and she completely stops hiding it when she starts getting into an argument with Weiss. She also stops bothering with the facade when they end up in Hell.
    • Beneath his jovial and positive behavior, VEGA's torture and attempted reformatting at the SDC's hands reveals that he's riddled with self-loathing and regret for what he and Dr. Hayden did back on Mars.
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  • The Flower Princess and the Alchemist: Orihime is generally a bubbly, cheerful girl. However, there are occassions when this masks cracks, revealing a massively guilt-stricken girl with nonexistent self-esteem, severe depression, and agonizing self-loathing issues. As explicitly stated by Word of God, Orihime is suffering from PTSD and possibly clinical depression. She consciously tries to hide this part of herself, so people won't see and witness the "ugly and broken" parts of her, especially from Ed. She thinks nobody would like that side of her and find her to be a weak, pathetic burden. She even laments once that she hates herself. Several characters have noticed the incredibly broken girl beneath the facade, and one sadly comments that she's "a wilted flower that has lost its petals".

[[AC:The DCU]

  • In A Very Kara Christmas, Linda Lee is constantly smiling and claiming that nothing is wrong while suppressing memories of a whole city full of people getting poisoned and dying.


  • In the works of A.A. Pessimal, The Graduation Class has Lady Rust, long-suffering wife of Ronald Rust and mother of five totally horrible children, being the desperate Stepford Smiler on the morning of Lucinda Rust's hoped-for graduation from the Assassins' School. As it becomes more and more apparent that Lucinda has Failed and will not return from her Final Run, the Stepford Smile becomes more and more fixed and desperate. Then Ronnie makes some sort of remark about how Lucinda has a younger sister at the School and how she might learn from her older sister's experience, so it isn't all bad news... and Lady Rust then snaps. All the way. All at once.


  • Despair's Last Resort has Shizuka Matsuki as a Depressed type, and reveals that she started acting this way to give herself a new image upon starting at Hope's Peak Academy.
  • Chiaki Nanami in Extra Life is a Depressed type. She has a lot of insecurities, fears, and trauma after her near-death experience, but always maintains a smile and kind outlook to hide it.

Final Fantasy VII

  • Us and Them: Sephiroth accuses Aeris of being one during their heart-to-heart in in the sequel Life Renewed, Love Renewed, saying she forces a smile as she lets herself be tossed about by "destiny".
  • Epiphany: Sephiroth notes that Aerith's sunny beaming smile makes an excellent mask for whatever her true emotions are.

Lilo & Stitch

  • The receptionist of Eve Hill Corporation in Aliens! does everything with cheer and a smile. Including knocking Jumba unconscious for snooping around.

Miraculous Ladybug

  • In With Time, after Marinette is bullied out of her school through Lila's efforts, she makes herself a list of all things she must do at the new place basically amounting to "never make anyone upset, never act like you're not fine, always blame yourself". As soon as Chat learns about it, he tears out the pages, Cataclysms them out of existence, and replaces the list with a more appropriate set of recommendations.

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

  • In the fanfiction Composure, Princess Celestia is so trapped in her own image of composed benevolence that she breaks when Luna attempts to get her to acknowledge her feelings, releasing a millennium worth of repressed emotions all at once.
  • Pinkie Pie can appear anywhere on the spectrum in fanfics. In The Party Never Ended, Pinkie Pie is Depressed, as she breaks under her Genki Girl cover as she dreads over her love for Rainbow Dash. As for Cupcakes, well, let's say she's Unstable and leave it at that.
  • Rarity is Unstable in The Killer Rarityverse fic The Secret life of Rarity, in which she maintains her social life over a period of 16 years in which she murders over 100 ponies/other races. She starts to slip towards the end, leading to her confrontation by Applejack.


  • Anachronism:
    • Gloria has a lot of trauma from being sent back in time. Due to the unusual event, she won't tell her friends about it.
    • Sonia feels like a useless deadbeat with no purpose, but she usually hides her depression.

The Powerpuff Girls

The Simpsons

  • Marge Simpson Anime expands upon Marge's depressive characteristics. She has Dead Sparks with Homer and is a lonely housewife. The plot revolves around her regaining her independence, expanding her horizons, and leaving Homer for Apu's ex-wife Manjula.

Sonic the Hedgehog

  • Ruth in C.I.A.: Agents is clearly Depressed; she is so affected by her parents' divorce that ends being obsessed with the photography rather than just taking it as a hobby.
  • Fallen Angel depicts Amy's friendly and perky attitude as a way to mask her loneliness and insecurities.
  • When Sonic gets spooked by a scary video game in Blog/Solarhood, he asks Elise why she isn't frightened. She happily says that she's become immune to all emotions that involve tears.


  • Callie is a Depressed example in Her Fractured Spirit. After the events of Splatoon 2 she's traumatized. Callie tries to play it off, but Marie knows otherwise.

Tales of Symphonia

  • Brit always acts happy around most people to keep herself sane in New Reality.

Total Drama

  • Total Drama fanon sometimes portrays Sierra with tinges of this, suggesting that her Loony Fan antics are either the cause or effect of an inability to form any close, real-life friendships.


  • Nui Harime in this aptly titled fanfic Dollhouse. Somewhat justified, as she doesn't want to worry anyone in about her conditions at home.
  • Implied to be the case with Reimu in Gensokyo 20XXV, as it is found out that not all her smiles are genuine, actually, she smiles out of acceptance towards her situation and to comfort everyone else.
    Ren: [...]If anything her smile is her way of comforting others and herself mostly, diverting attention away from her sorrow and pain, much like how Chen purred to herself.
  • Delaney Pollack of Fargo acts like a cheerful Proper Lady when the cameras are on, but beneath that persona she's a cruel, stab-happy sociopath. Later chapters imply that's an act too, and that the real Delaney is actually a contemplative, distant Emotionless Girl. Her persona in the afterlife suggests that the latter interpretation is the most accurate of the three.

Male Examples

Code Geass


Death Note

  • In A Charmed Life Light is very emotionally stunted so while he thinks he's alright in reality he is actually quite miserable. Ryuk and L are the only ones to ever figure out what's Beneath the Mask and Ryuk is the only one to never judge him for it.
  • From The Faceless:
    Light pulled himself up to the counter, putting on his, 'I'm completely normal and if you don't believe me, I'll Kill You!,' façade.
  • Light again in Seigikan:
    Light: Class ended and before I could even move from my position, females (if they could be called that) flocked my surrounding table. It was utterly disgusting. I casually said a pleasant goodbye to Ryuzaki before being escorted off to the library to help out a fellow classmate. I would rather slit my wrists and write my own name in the Death Note, but sacrifices had to be made to maintain my identity as the perfect individual.
  • Light in Solitude:
    But he got it now. He got what everyone was looking for. It wasn't for him to be happy, and he wasn't trying to be mean thinking about that. People wanted other people to fit into a nice, neat package with smartly tied bows that were the right color to match the wrapping paper. People wanted to be able to classify other people, and for them to behave according to code.
    Light found his code.
    His role is son, older brother, protector, student, genius, role model, kind, earnest. His role is to be perfect so they don't have to worry again, so they won't say he's abnormal, strange, worrisome (all whispered in the dark night across the kitchen table when they thought he was asleep).

Fire Emblem Awakening


Fullmetal Alchemist

  • In My Master Ed, after knowing him for a couple months, Hohenheim notices that Edward acts cocky and snarky to cover up how melancholy he is.

Good Omens

  • Zirah, from The Sacred and the Profane.
    "He won't stop crying."
    "And you're going to stop him by killing him?" Hastur said.
    Zirah stared at him in wide-eyed innocence. He looked puzzled.
    "Why not?"

Harry Potter

  • Draco Malfoy often gets this treatment in sympathetic fics that don't actually put leather pants on him. I.e., he's spent his whole life trying to be what his father expects him to be and has no idea what he is. More of a Stepford Smirker, of course, but it's entirely possible he does smile at people who aren't Harry Potter and his friends: we wouldn't know.
  • In Amazonian AWOL Blaise Zabini does his utmost to maintain a cheerful front despite the fact that his ex-wife is draining him dry financially and he's on his last chance with his boss.
  • Harry Potter in the Dark Fic Void of Emotion is Unstable—he's a sociopath that hides behind an adorably cheerful persona.
  • In Laughing not only is Harry depressed but Ron and Hermione are helping him keep up the pretense.
  • In The Lily Potter Foundation Harry's been depressed and hiding it for much of his life, thanks to his abusive relatives and the indifference of the wizarding world.
  • In Wear Me Like a Locket Around Your Throat Orion Black nearly always maintains a cheerful, happy-go-lucky demeanor despite his dysfunctional family, the slow death of his younger brother Rigel and an unwanted engagement to his cousin Walburga.

[ Hetalia: Axis Powers

[AC: The Hunger Games]]

Invader Zim

  • Invader Zim fanfics about Keef are pretty rare, but those that exist often portray him as having neglectful of abusive parents. Given Jhonen Vasquez' style, this is entirely plausible (compare Squee!, for example.)

Marvel Universe

  • In the Captain America: The Winter Soldier fanfic Out of the Dead Land, Bucky starts out as one: he memorizes information from history books, carefully parrots details of Steve's stories of their youth back to him, and even practices his facial expressions in the mirror to act as the good-natured, easygoing best friend Steve remembers and cover up the fact that he doesn't actually remember anything about his past. It works for a while, until Natasha exposes his act.

Miraculous Ladybug

  • Too many fics centered around Adrien or at least partly around him delve deeper into his home life, and show that he is forced to be a Stepford Smiler by his perfectionist Stage Dad. If he is sad about his Missing Mom or upset about having his freedom restricted, Gabriel dismisses his feelings and prioritizes his image as the face of the Agreste brand over his emotional and mental health.

My Hero Academia

  • In Karma in Retrograde, Touya used to cheer up Shouto by flashing him a brave smile while assuring him that everything was going to be okay after Endeavor's grueling training sessions. Unfortunately, it was a strained and painful lie.
    He would see how exhausted, sick, and terrible he felt after training and it would terrify him. He didn’t want Shouto to go through the same thing. All Ryouta could do was put a warm hand on Shouto’s head, put on a brave smile, and tell him it was going to be fine. It was always a lie.
  • #14 (MHA): What Inko and Bakugou become under All For One's influence.

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

  • Big Macintosh is generally portrayed as being depressed or empty for one reason or another. Hinted at in the shipfic Like I Imagined:
    Applejack glanced at her friend. "Usually he's just all plain an' sleepy-like, but sometimes he gets this look on his face like..."
    "Like?" Rarity echoed.
    "Like there's a bunch a' gears workin' in his noggin." Applejack frowned. "An' I don't much think I'd like to know what they're puttin' out."
    "Why not?" Rarity looked over, concerned.
    "'Cause when he gets like that, he looks darn near fifty." The earth pony shook her head. "It ain't right for a colt to look twice his age."


  • Fics that wish to portray Naruto as secretly a badass all along tend to call his canon characterization the "idiot facade."
    • Though it's just as common for the "idiot facade" to be the only thing keeping him sane from the abuse he receives from almost everyone (which is usually a lot harsher than canon, with mobs beating him and sometimes even being raped).
  • An alternate explanation for this can be found in I didn't sign up for this where Hiashi gives his opinion on 'Asura'.
    "Most shinobi tend to go for the unnoticed and low-key approach, they strive to be dismissed as nothing. A rare few do the opposite; they exaggerate and posture so much that an observer cannot see the truth. I believe Asura is fundamentally a person who finds it difficult to be anything less than himself, so subtlety is not an option for him."
    "So, what you're saying is –"
    "It is just another type of mask. But it is also not necessarily all false."
  • Shisui Uchiha in Son of the Sannin reveals to Sasuke that behind his happy-go-lucky attitude he hides his fair share of emotional regret, over allowing his friend and rival Shinichi to get himself killed out of jealousy (this being the event that awakened his Mangekyo Sharingan). While he's managed to cope with it for the most part, his words to Sasuke imply he still carries a bit of a burden, especially since his friend's family have not forgotten what he did and still remind him of it.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

  • In Once More with Feeling Shinji may come off as cheerful and easygoing, but in reality he's struggling with massive amounts of guilt, rage, fear, and grief.

One Piece

  • From One Piece: Parallel Works, we have Daisuke Saburo, a Depressive. He's an Idiot Hero / Fun Personified teenager who seems to be always smiling and having fun. Then came the Project Mei Arc and the revelation of his Backstory and how he met Yulia when she killed his grandmother and was involved in a huge ransacking of his home island.
  • 'Til You Feel It All Around You reveals that Usopp was already developing into one of these at the tender age of seven. At one point, when Sanji affects a false cheer to try and reassure his temporarily deaged nakama, Usopp shows him how to 'fix' it and smile more convincingly. Sanji's rather freaked out by the demonstration.


  • Ash in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines is a downplayed example. While he's not secretly wallowing in despair, he has his moments, especially when he's reminded of something he lost from the original timeline, and he can't share his pain with anyone else but his Pokémon.
  • Anachronism: Hop has self-esteem issues and craves comfort from others. This doesn't become apparent until he snaps partway through his journey.


Star Wars

  • The AU series Sith Academy initially portrays young Obi-Wan Kenobi as pathetically cheery and happily co-dependent in a rather sick relationship with Qui-Gon. It eventually got to be too much, so authors decided to explain his demeanor as the result of a super-Prozac drug called Perkium, that was being used to medicate the formerly rebellious punk padawan into perfect Jedi conformity.

Mixed Gender Examples


Death Note


My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

Neon Genesis Evangelion

  • The Second Try: Shinji and Asuka smile so no one finds out that they're mourning the disappearance of their child.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

  • In Guardian Creature, Tatsuya notes that normally he finds people who smile all the time to be creepy, but that the perpetual happiness of his guardian angel (and Ret-Goned elder sister) seems warm and genuine. As viewers of canon know, Madoka is so happy because she has very good reasons to be, not limited to being a semi-omniscient goddess, having achieved everything she ever wanted, and having won the biggest victory over evil that humanity has ever had. The climax of the fic shows that she is as capable of expressing unhappiness as anybody.

Teen Titans

World of Warcraft

Alternative Title(s): Fan Fic


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