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Stepford Smiler / Video Games

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Female Examples

  • Atoli in .hack//G.U. Games is cheerful and bubbly, wants everyone to get along, and wants to be loved... and then you find out she's like that only because her total lack of self-esteem in real life, due to lifelong emotional abuse by her parents ("Girls should be quiet and unnoticeable!!"} and bullying by her schoolmates led her to browsing suicide websites where she met and found comfort in the player behind Sakaki, who was really only using her in order to assume control of Atoli's Epitaph, Innis the Mirage of Deceit.
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  • In the second game of Ar tonelico, this is Luca's defining feature. Becoming the Mask is the goal of her path, but she is very unpopular among many players who feel she hit a Moral Event Horizon somewhere along the line.
  • Aerie in Baldur's Gate II is Depressed. She’s very depressed due to a traumatic past, but tries to look cheerful despite for it.
  • Barbie from Barbie Super Model never stops smiling, although she seems to just be genuinely happy all the time. This isn't too surprising since the game was based on a franchise of dolls with painted-on smiling faces.
  • In an IGN Borderlands 2 video, which has Handsome Jack's assistant Meg asking him viewer-submitted questions about himself, when she asks him, "Is Handsome Jack happy?" he initially treats it casually, saying that "there's a lot of smiling," but he quickly sounds empty and says that he's actually "dead inside."
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  • Litchi Faye-Ling from BlazBlue is Depressed. On the outside and towards the people of Orient Town, she is highly sociable, kind, compassionate and caring doctor who is idolized by pretty much everyone, and it might not be a lie at all, she's deep down kind hearted. However, she never told anyone about her own problems, that being a desperate lover with Guilt Complex, especially for letting her lover turn into an Eldritch Abomination, injects herself with the same corruption which granted her power and looking for a cure and in the same time rotting her body away, and she'd rather bear the burden herself than worrying those she cared about with it. Hazama managed to find out her face behind her smiler face and used that to manipulate her to get her Forced into Evil under the guise of eventual survival from the escalating corruption and the chance to cure that lover. Which in turn, made her pull a new mask in front of Rachel: She pretends that only her lover needs help and she's the only one who can, while in truth, she also needs help as well when the other source of help (Kokonoe) flat out refused to help. Unfortunately, Rachel bought that mask and dismisses her as an obsessed idiot who chose the wrong side.
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  • Cornelia from BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm is a sweet-natured, caring girl who always acts cheerful and tries her best to make others smile. But deep inside, she carries an immense Guilt Complex over her creation as a Living Weapon, hates herself for existing, and feels unworthy of being friends with the same people she was created to kill. The scene where she finally opens up about all this to Catie is one of the biggest Tearjerkers in the game.
  • Haru from Devil Survivor. Behind her typical idol singer personality lies a suicidal depression.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Yuna from Final Fantasy X plays with this trope in a very interesting way: it's made very clear that she deliberately takes on the role of 'heroic savior of Spira' so as to inspire hope in the rest of the world even though she's much more scared and sad than she lets on, but it's not just a simple matter of her putting on a totally fake mask. In the infamous laughing scene, Yuna admits that she tries to smile even when she's feeling sad, and the more she does it the less sad she feels. Sure enough, as she encourages a reluctant Tidus to force himself to laugh with her, they end up actually falling over each other laughing at how ridiculous the whole thing is. So Yuna definitely does pretend to be much more happy, confident, and perfect than she actually feels, but to her it's less about putting on a mask as deliberately turning into that kind of person inside and out.
    • Vanille from Final Fantasy XIII is a perfect Depressed example. Her unnaturally happy and positive attitude was just a way of running away from her past failures. She has an authentic death wish and blames herself for everything that has happened.
    • Aerith from Final Fantasy VII Remake is heavily implied to know how the events of the original story are "supposed" to go, including her fated death at Sephiroth's hands. She knows her days are probably numbered but she still clings to the idea that fate can be changed. She also maintains a cheerful demeanour and is a bona-fide Nice Girl.
  • There are a few in the Fire Emblem series:
    • In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, the Cleric Serra is a mix of Genki Girl and Rich Bitch who acts like a princess... but truly is an orphan dropped at a small, miserable Ostian convent by an Etrurian clan in danger of being wiped away. Her parents never came back for her and she was badly traumatised by their abandonment. Get her to support with people like Hector or Lucius to get more details.
    • Generally subverted with Nowi from Awakening. She chooses to spend her days being happy rather than being depressed by the fact that she will outlive all of her friends, but despite how she hurts over the eternal life deal (due to her manakete dragon blood), she never really hides her pain.
    • Peri from Fates is a mix of 1 and 3, being mentally disturbed due to having her mother murdered by a servant when she was still a child, and seems as happy as possible during fights to distract herself from her sadness.
  • Harvest Moon:
    • It's mentioned that just because the perpetually smiling Lyla from Save The Homeland and Magical Melody is smiling doesn't mean she's always happy.
    • Eve from Harvest Moon and Magical Melody is a depressed type. She looks like the content local bartender however she has emotional issues due to the untimely death of her parents.
    • Karen from Harvest Moon 64 is a Hard-Drinking Party Girl who covers up her Broken Bird personality by drinking. Unsurprisingly, she is Eve's granddaughter. Her mother Sasha however is just a Perpetual Frowner who doesn't pretend to be happy.
  • Daniella/The Maid from Haunting Ground certainly qualifies; for her first few appearances in the game, she is polite and courteous to Fiona, only to reveal her truly Ax-Crazy nature during the game's second act.
  • Miranda Lawson from Mass Effect 2 keeps trying to convince herself and everyone around her that she's happy and she's found her place in life, but that perpetual smile of her just screams "Fake!"
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has Laughing Octopus. She's got a really good reason, though. Namely that she was forced to participate in the slaughter of her own village as a child, and furthermore was forced to laugh as though she was enjoying it the entire time.
  • Persona 2 has Perpetual Smiler Eriko Kirishima. She's a genuinely nice girl, but everyone close to her notes that her smiles are either forced or fake.
  • Persona 5 Royal has Kasumi Yoshizawa, which appears as a cheerful and friendly gymnast who excels in gymnastics, although deep down, she feels "down" for unknown reasons to her, as well as being impacted by Shujin trying to revoke her scholarship for a 3rd runner up. It turns out that this is Subverted, as this is actually Kasumi's younger sister Sumire Yoshizawa, who has been suffering from an unholy combination of delusional thoughts, Successful Sibling Syndrome and suicidal depression, forming a delusional thought that if she weren't Kasumi, she should probably just...die. The tragedy where she led Kasumi into taking her place of being ran over by traffic simply made it so bad that if Maruki didn't make her think that she is Kasumi, she would had been committed suicide quite quickly.
  • GLaDOS from Portal. At first, she seems to be just a rogue AI gone insane, but the sequel develops the character further when you get to see the history of Aperture Science. GLaDOS used to be a human being that worked as a secretary named Caroline for scientist Cave Johnson. Johnson made it where after he passed on, he wanted the facility to be maintained under Caroline's control via uploading her mind to a computer. This made Caroline become GLaDOS where she would be forced to run tests in the name of science. Forever. It's understandable why GLaDOS would snap and start to actually like testing subjects just for the sake of testing because it was all she was made for and nothing else. When GLaDOS learns of her past, she actually becomes afraid of herself knowing that she used to be a person with emotions and feelings and that she can hear her own thoughts instead of ones programmed into her. In the ending of the game, GLaDOS seems happier knowing she saved Chell's life, but she then reverts back to her cynical and somewhat unstable self because it's all she is used to.
  • In Project SEKAI, Mafuyu appears bright, smart and charming to pretty much everyone, which does an extremely good job at covering up how utterly broken and empty she feels inside. Any time she's not keeping up her facade, the light drains from her eyes and her voice loses all emotion. It's equal parts disturbing and tragic, and a significant shift from the rest of the game's otherwise upbeat and idealistic tone in the other stories.
  • Carol in Mitsumete Knight. She became this because she was frequently bullied in her childhood and had no friends. She posed as a Genki Girl in order to remedy this, and sadly this worked all too well.
  • The Ring: Terror's Realm: Meg wears a smile throughout the Survival Horror game.
  • Melody from Rune Factory is Depressed.
  • Sagiri from Suikoden V was trained to be this kind of character, a ruthless killer with a permanent smile on her face. By the time you meet her she's mostly rehabilitated, however she still finds herself unable to adopt any other expression.
  • In System Shock 2 you find the protocol droids, robots made to work like secretaries, greet people, give directions, etc. When they turn against you, they walk around searching for you, saying things like "Where are you, sir?" "I cannot help you if you keep hiding. "Please wait, I can offer you my assistance.". When they get near to you, they FRIGGIN EXPLODE.
  • Colette from Tales of Symphonia is a Stepford Smiler, always having a smile on her face, even as she starts to lose her humanity and later on starts slowly turning into a Cruxis Crystal while trying as hard as she can to keep it a secret from everybody.
  • Touhou Project:
    • Koishi Komeiji is a cheerful child outside, but she's as hollow as possible inside due to closing her third eye; everything she does is out of the unconscious. According to the local Buddhist nun Byakuren, she's close to the state of "no-mind", which is one of the steps of enlightenment.
    • Junko's husband, Hou'yi, shot down nine of the ten suns that plagued the Earth in olden days in an attempt to woo Chang'e, a Lunarian princess, but one of the suns fell down upon Junko's son. Following this event she used her innate power of purification to cleanse herself of everything but her resentment for those she holds responsible for her son's death. However, though resentment is all Junko has left, she is seldom seen without a joyless smile on her lips. Coupled with her Empty Eyes, it makes her look incredibly creepy.
  • Shiki from The World Ends with You has this as she tries to pretend to be her bubbly best friend because she feels the real her is worthless.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, Millium Orion is perhaps this to some degree, of the Empty variety. If you see her bonding scene with Rean, she reveals that it isn't all fun and games. She's presented as a Genki Girl with a love of stuffed animals and seemingly boundless energy, but she's also a government agent and everything that comes with it, and sometimes she feels like there's two of her. She never even got to attend Sunday School. To at least some degree, the whole perky happy-go-lucky girl thing is an act. In the sequel, it also revealed her origin is unnatural and despite feeling fondness for certain people, she had never felt sadness or cried until story events happen. It is implied that time with peers has increased her emotional range.
  • Several examples certainly exist in League of Legends:
    • Luxanna 'Lux' Crownguard is a seemingly chipper girl-next-door prodigious mage in service of Demacia and seems content in serving the nation (considering it also has her brother Garen). During 'League Judgment', a test to see if a candidate's worthy of being a champion for the League of Legends, it's revealed that Lux actually joins the League because she feels empty, being dragged into military service against her will, dragged away from home in tears, completely exhausted Lux's mentality and at this point, joining the League is all she had in life. This creates an eerie dissonance with her laugh that players tends to abuse, because it can be easily misinterpreted with Lux snapping and Laughing Mad.
    • Sona Buvelle is at first an innocent, gentle-hearted and sweet Cute Mute musician, always trying to keep her fans content with her music. There's just one thing the fans didn't know and also revealed in her League Judgment: Her musical instrument, Etwahl, just refused to be separated from Sona, and the last time her beloved stepmother Lestarra tried to claim it... the instrument killed Lestarra with Sona unable to do anything because she's mute. She claims that she's trying to discover the extent of the instrument's power, but it's quite clear that Lestarra's death continued to haunt Sona despite her usual gentle demeanor.
  • Ayano Aishi, or Yandere-Chan of the indie game Yandere Simulator: Love Sick is an Empty Stepford Smiler, since she doesn't feel any emotion, with some traits of the Unstable type, considering that her lack of emotion and empathy comes from what is strongly implied to be some sort of mental illness and she isn't afraid to kill. At first sight, you see a normal, albeit introverted schoolgirl- that is, until you touch her Senpai, and find yourself on the wrong end of her knife...
  • Rada Nataste of The Secret World tries to seem like a ditzy socialite, flirtatiously dancing with player characters and rattling off Morninglight propaganda, even after most of her fellow cultists have been eaten by vampires or scattered across the Carpathian Mountains. It's not until you see Rada being threatened by her boyfriend/handler in the mission intros - and later being drugged to prevent her from just admitting everything - that you realize just how terrified she is under the bubbly exterior.
  • The titular character of Wadanohara is the Depressed type. When something in the game upsets her, she puts on a fake smile and grows quiet, although other characters are able to see through her and realize something is wrong.

Male Examples

  • A3 has Sakuya Sakuma. He is upbeat and cheerful, but before joining Mankai Company, he actually has lost his parents and often gets moved from a set of relatives to another, causing him to feel like he has no place to belong. He does not take it lightly when Masumi suggests that someone else plays Romeo instead, because it feels his place is getting taken away.
    • Azuma Yukishiro looks carefree and enjoys being The Gadfly on the outside, but inside he is a lonesome man who Hates Being Alone and works as a professional cuddler to distract him from the loneliness. When he was in elementary, his parents and brother died in a car accident, leaving him alone and causing him to frequently have nightmares about his family leaving and never coming back. Homare also points out his sadness in one of his practice lines.
      Homare: Azuma's always smiling, but his smile always have a bit of sadness inside them...
  • In Backyard Basketball, Kevin Garnett serves this purpose. He is Depressed.
  • Hazama/Terumi Yuuki of BlazBlue has a mask of being a very polite intelligence officer who is inept at combat and as such hates it in the first game but is really a sick sadist who is either personally behind, directly involved in or can be linked to EVERYTHING bad in the BlazBlue universe. His reason? Just because he can and it amuses him. He gave up the pretense in the second game as it was clear he's the Big Bad and it wasn't fooling anyone anyway.
  • Nessiah is a combination of Depressed and Unstable in Blaze Union; his gentle and polite demeanor hides a thousand years' worth of pain, suffering, and Sanity Slippage.
  • Shade in Borderlands 2: Captain Scarlett and her Pirate's Booty, is most definitely not the only living person in Oasis! He's rigged up the bodies of a few people with crutches and speakers, posing them in "lifelike" positions and using pre-recorded ECHO tapes to create the illusion that they are still alive and capable of meaningful social interactions (he's either not aware of or willingly ignores tape malfunctions). He even went to the trouble of recording a rejection to a marriage proposal. He doesn't want the Vault Hunter to leave so soon, before they've gotten to know each other, but he can't really stop them (both because he's a dehydrated, delirious civilian compared to an armed and armored Vault Hunter and he's a quest-giving NPC so he can't leave his booth). Upon learning that there was an underwater cavern filled with water directly under Oasis, he descends into tragic laughter.
    • Claptrap is this, rather unwillingly.
      (Chirpily) If I sound at all pleased about this, it's because my programmers made this my default tone of voice! I'm actually quite depressed!
  • Played With in Disco Elysium, where the Detective's face is fixed in a tortured, smug grin that his internal monologue refers to as The Expression and which apparently started as an attempt at doing this (and maybe even worked at some point in the past). When seeing it for the first time after losing his memory, he reacts with disgust and horror, and most other characters find it as repulsive as he does, but (due to it being walled off behind a difficult check) he is at first unable to make his face stop making The Expression, despite noting himself that it no longer does anything except draw attention to the fact that he's a pathetic, suicidal, alcoholic wreck who has nothing to smile about. The player can pass a different difficult check to learn the source of the expression — it was borrowed from a disco star of yesteryear and, apparently, has not looked cool on anyone since the disco era.
  • Zevran from Dragon Age: Origins appears to be cheerful and easygoing, despite being a Death Seeker.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Hope is implied to be Depressed in Final Fantasy XIII-2. When Serah and Noel first meet him, he mentions that everyone he was friends with disappeared from his life immediately after the fall of Cocoon. Becomes more explicit in Academia 4XX - Hope sends himself on a one-way trip 400 years into the future because his father had died and there was nothing left for him in his own time.
    • Thancred in Final Fantasy XIV seems to be chipper and borderline Chivalrous Pervert, but deep down, he resents himself for not being able to save Minfilia's father from being killed by a Gobbue several years ago and he also blames himself for not doing more to help out his fellow Scions. Thancred's constant self pushing to make himself useful gets him physically exhausted to the point where he is weak enough to be possessed by Lahabrea for a while.
    • Prompto in Final Fantasy XV's affectedly optimistic attitude masks his secret about who and what he really is. He admits to Noctis that he knows he is an endlessly generous and cheerful 'giver' to his friends because he is convinced that he's faking being worth something. No matter how much the others reassure him that they like him for who he is, and even though he believes them, he can't make himself feel it.
  • Fallout 4:
    • When you first meet your robot butler Codsworth after re-emerging from the Vault following the war, he seems to be as chipper and optimistic as ever, offering you his services while asking about the whereabouts of your spouse and son. With some light prodding, however, he reveals that he's been beside himself with grief having spent the last two hundred years and change isolated from everyone and trying to carry on as usual, even as the bombs fell and the town you lived in is blasted to hell and back.
    • Preston Garvey appears to have a can-do attitude, having an optimistic outlook as you help rebuild the Minutemen and make the Commonwealth a better place. When you max out his affinity, however, he reveals to you that he had been struggling with depression following the series of unfortunate events that befell the Minutemen before meeting you. In fact, if you had never met him, he likely would've given into his depression and abandoned all hope!
  • Continuing the list of examples from Fire Emblem series:
    • Forde from Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. He states in one of his supports that he acts cheerful and relaxed mostly to keep his friends and companions happy in the middle of the war.
    • Henry from Fire Emblem Awakening. It's readily apparent that he's not quite right in the head due to the fact that he's always smiling, even when talking about morbid subjects like torture. His type of Stepford Smiling actually depends: the Japanese version he's a straight Depressive pretending to be Unstable. The English version is rather unclear on the issue, though it seems to lean more toward Henry genuinely being exactly as cheerful as he says he is with a side order of crazy along for the ride.
    • Libra as well. Tharja is actually disturbed when she finds out exactly how dark his soul is due to his Dark and Troubled Past. Specifically, being abandoned by his parents because they thought he was possessed, leaving him homeless and alone until he found shelter in the priesthood.
    • Inigo is a straighter example. His father wonders how he could be such a Pollyanna when he came from a Bad Future. This prompts Inigo to snap at him, explaining that he's that way to keep the others' spirits up.
    • Claude in Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a manipulative Anti-Hero (yet is still the least morally ambiguous of the three House leaders), and Byleth's very first impression of him is that the smile he always wears doesn't reach his eyes. Later on in his support with Hilda she calls him out on this, saying that the only times his smiles are genuine are when he's with Byleth.
  • Hollow Knight: The Dung Defender is a Large Ham and a Boisterous Bruiser. However, Dream Nailing him during the White Defender fight reveals he's not as jolly on the inside as he is on the outside, and that he dearly misses his deceased comrades.
  • Creepy Child Chris from The King of Fighters fits this trope very well, as he's almost a modern version of the aforementioned Soujirou. Always with a smile in his face, even when killing random people. The fact that he's the Big Bad's host doesn't help, either.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has the Happy Mask Salesman: He seems to be generally happy, but come back to him without the money you owe (or without his stolen mask) and his broad smile turns into a furious grimace as he starts threatening you.
    • Rupin in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. He even lampshades this habit when you talk to him during nighttime.
    • Prince Sidon in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a Nice Guy example. While his cheerful and outgoing personality is genuine, it's also hiding his feelings he's been keeping in check. He feels like he was rude and pushy for asking Link to help them appease Divine Beast Vah Ruta while also feeling like he's being unreliable. He is surprised by his father's praise in the battle against Ruta since he feels like Link did all the work. Lastly, if you talk to him while he quietly mourns over his sister by the statue, he apologizes for showing weakness.
  • Shorty in Nancy Drew and the Secret of Shadow Ranch acts like a pleasant, cheery person right up until the end, where it turns out that he's the ringleader of a gang of criminals responsible for several acts of robbery and sabotage, and is perfectly willing to kill and deceive to get what he wants.
  • Puyo Puyo: Implied with Dapper Bones. He is generally silly and quite friendly, if easily offended when something doesn't fit his fashion standards, but most things related to his past and romantic life show a sadder side of his character. He has a lover who he hasn't seen in a long time and wants to reunite with, threw away a gift from said lover, feeling he no longer deserved it and got rid of his photos from when he was alive, because he considers the memories attached to them to be too painful.
  • Zelos from Tales of Symphonia is a Stepford Smiler, as he struggles to hide a truly twisted past behind a mask of frivolity and promiscuity. At certain points of the story he offhandedly hints about his past, before laughing whatever he said off as lies or changing the subject. Whether he's lying or telling the truth is left to the viewer, unless they go out of their way to see a cutscene where he openly reveals his past to the main protagonist.
  • Another example is Jade Curtiss from Tales of the Abyss. He does it due to being The Stoic, and to mask feelings of guilt and inadequacy over accidentally killing his teacher, then spending nearly ten years cloning her over and over again, only to kill the faulty clones when they failed to have her memories and thus truly be able to replace the mentor he'd lost. Plus, it helps a Deadpan Snarker to keep a straight face.
    • Easier to miss is Guy Cecil, born Gailardia Galan Gardios of Hod and heir to the title of Count, whose family was killed by Luke's father when he was only a small child, and who has spent the years since then acting as a servant in the Fabre household and planning to kill them all as revenge for his family's death. He gets better as the game goes on, but some scenes still clearly show that he has anger issues hidden very thoroughly under that cheerful smile.
  • Burgerpants from Undertale. His face changes between several wildly different Ren & Stimpy-esque smiling expressions, all while he talks about how his life has gone downhill and his job is terrible.
    • Laid-back and pun-loving Sans is also revealed to be this during a "No Mercy" playthrough; he realized long ago that his life is determined entirely by the whim of somebody else (namely, the player) and can be reset without warning at any moment. He admits that it makes finding motivation to do anything difficult, and that at this point, even making it to the surface world (which is what all monsters want and the main goal of the "Pacifist" route) doesn't appeal to him anymore because it would feel like a set up for a Hope Spot. Exactly how depressed he truly is depends partially on player interpretation, and on how the player decides to progress through the game. He's a more literal example of this trope, as he doesn't crack a frown once the entire game, even managing an extremely Broken Smile if you kill him.
    • Papyrus, of all people, becomes this in the Neutral ending in which he becomes the new monster king. Said ending necessitates killing off a brace of important Underground residents, including Undyne, who is Papyrus's Only Friend other than Sans; in his and Sans's epilogue message, Papyrus says he's been his usual cheery and optimistic self in an effort to bring morale back up among his new subjects, but he admits it's been difficult and that he misses Undyne.
    • Flowey is an interesting case. While he can genuinely express happiness and joy, it's only at the expense of others that he hurts or kills. In a way, he's a sociopathic shell. Feeling actual love and happiness is something Flowey literally cannot feel or express because he was reborn without a soul and said soul is what makes a person complete. It becomes doubly heartbreaking since Flowey used to be Asriel, the sweet and kind son of Toriel and Asgore.
  • By the epilogue of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II, Rean becomes this trope after the Civil War and his participation in the annexation of Crossbell. Towa has to call him out on it before he finally breaks down.
  • Yakuza 0 cast series regular Goro Majima in a new light that had only been somewhat hinted at before, making it clear that he's adopted a facade of cheerful, over-the-top insanity to mask that he's actually incredibly depressed and riddled with PTSD.

Mixed Gender Examples

  • Any game from Zynga. In Cityville, it's just getting scary with how everyone always smiles and looks so cutesy. Some people have named their cities Stepford for this very reason.
  • Given that it's set in The '50s, many civilians in Destroy All Humans! fall under this heading, particularly the residents of Santa Modesta. Quite naturally, these suburbanites like to present themselves as flawless and content, but a quick peek at their thoughts reveals that the men only manage to suppress their psychotic rage with their collective obsession with lawnmowers and automobiles, and the valium-addicted women are engaged in fierce and unending competition over the best home and garden, broken only by tupperware parties and neglected children. Exactly one citizen manages to realize how miserable she really is, and in the end, she decides to drown her sorrows in cheap meaningless sex. And of course, being an alien invader, you have the opportunity to put every last depressive one of them out of their misery in the most painful way possible.
  • Fallout 3:
    • There's a whole town of Stepford Smilers, well-groomed but down-to-earth, assured Andale is the best little town, that their blessed country will protect them from the commies, and that all is right with the world. This being Fallout, of course, things find room to go downhill.
    • There's a woman in the small town of Arefu who seems to have gone completely delusional and pretends that she is living in a beautiful pre-war suburb. She hands the player rusty tin cans, proclaiming they're her prized batches of chocolate chip cookies. She's never even experienced life before the war.
  • Nearly the entire population of the world in Final Fantasy X is this way due to the Crapsack World setting. Sin, a whale monster that is size of a city, roams around the world and destroys everything in its path. The populace is lead to believe from the Church of Yevon that if everyone atones for their sins, then the Sin monster will go away for good. Despite people trying to do this for 1000 years, Sin still exists and you can see people trying not to crack as they keep insisting that things will be ok if they keep atoning for their sins, despite the fact that they know things have not changed for so long. You eventually find people that finally break out of their stepford smiler state and wonder if things are just hopeless.
    • Tidus' Idiot Hero persona is mostly just an act to deal with his angst over his Disappeared Dad. And he has a more traditional Stepford Smiler moment later on, after discovering that defeating Yu Yevon will end his own existence.
    • Yuna is like this too. Defeating Sin would mean her death; to add onto this, Tidus unintentionally teases her with promises of taking her to see his Zanarkand after her pilgrimage is over. Naturally, this causes her a great deal of emotional pain, and the only thing that really keeps her going is knowing that she is Spira's salvation and that she'd die a martyr. She breaks down when she learns that Yevon is corrupt, but later finds the strength to carry on and find another way.
  • In World of Final Fantasy, even in the good / true ending, none of the characters are entirely happy about how things have turned out. Reynn and Lann's parents, Lusse and Rorrik are dead and defeating the evil beings that had possessed their spirits only bought a bit of time for their spirit forms to bid good-bye to their children. Furthermore, Reynn and Lann have to leave Grymoire. But Lusse tells Reynn to not be sad and to "turn those corners up," then Reynn later says the same thing to the Champions of Grymoire as she and Lann are about to leave.
  • Phone Guy from Five Nights at Freddy's is this (or as much as a character we never see can be) in all three games. He's remarkably calm for someone explaining the horrible aspects of his job to his successor. Even on Night 4, when he's attacked and killed by what sounds like all of the animatronics, he asks if you could "check inside of those suits in the back room?" and says he's "gonna try to hold out until someone checks... Maybe it won't be so bad." before giving a simple "Oh no..." The only time we hear anything resembling distress in his voice is on Night 6 of the second game, when he asks why you're at work on that day and explains that " someone used one of the suits... we had a spare in the back - a yellow one - someone used it..."
  • The humanoid Nobodies from Kingdom Hearts are the Empty Shell variation; their supposed emotions are an act, based on their human memories. Behind this facade, however, they're this trope. Supposedly. Really, they were effectively brainwashed into this trope by their leader Xemnas as a way of trying to separate them from their sense of self. They can feel emotion and form connections with people, and in doing so, can regain their hearts. However, Xemnas, and Xehanort's, plan requires them to remain empty shells that he can use for living Soul Jars.
  • Louis from Left 4 Dead is Empty. In the events of The Sacrifice comic, Louis had to kill a person who attacked him in a bathroom stall (the person became an infected or "zombie") and saw the destruction of his workplace and the city from the viral outbreak, testing his will since he always had a positive outlook in life. Louis still holds the "everything will get better" attitude, even after he and the other survivors had to endure 2-3 weeks of fighting zombies and escaping from an overzealous military force. Francis calls Louis out on this a few times, telling him that continuing to believe things will return to normal is foolish and/or insane thinking and that they are going to have to get used to striving to survive as long as they live. In the final part of the comic, Louis starts to crack when he believes there is no escape from the bridge they're on and asks his fellow survivors to kill him so the zombies won't kill him instead.
  • In Mass Effect, due to all the crap they've been through, either gender of Commander Shepard is this by the third game. The mask itself cracks over the course of the entire game, revealing the deeply Shell-Shocked Veteran underneath.
  • Laughing Octopus isn't the first Stepford Smiler in the Metal Gear series. Chronologically, the first would be the Sorrow, who is always shown smiling whenever the player sees him, but...
  • Psychonauts features both a female and male example. Crystal and Clem are two seemingly cheerful and enthusiastic campers who like to root their fellow campers on (especially Raz)... and also harbor suicidal tendencies. Most of this is Played for Laughs: "I feel so stupid for throwing myself off the roof!" "Why did you throw yourself off the roof?" "Because the poison didn't work, duh!"
    • A more depressing version is Milla, a perpetually cheerful party girl who hides the fact that she worked at an orphanage that burned down, killing all inside. As if that wasn't enough, she also wound up psychically hearing their screams for help as they died. Interpretations vary with the player with some seeing her as someone who's coped with the trauma in her past. Word of God says it's the latter, and that "locking up" nightmares is a perfectly healthy way of dealing with that level of trauma.
    • By comparison, twice in Boyd Cooper's mind, you get assaulted by nightmares and have to fight them as minibosses. So it would seem that in the metaphorical context of things, nightmares being "locked up" is more a sign that you've dealt with them and have them under control, rather than that you're suppressing them.
  • The backstory for the Pleasant family in The Sims 2 is scripted like this: Mary Sue and Daniel have a perfect suburban life. He's shtupping the maid, she's about to get fired, and their daughters hate each other.
  • The entire town of Wellington Wells in We Happy Few is a mix between Depressed and Unstable. See, a while back, the Germans occupied England, and Wellington Wells did a Very Bad Thing in response. To deal with the resulting crippling depression, everybody started taking Joy, which brightens your mood and makes you forget bad things. Of course, Joy has some side effects, like dizziness, hunger and thirst, and homicidal mania towards any reminders of the Bad Thing, like children, pregnant women, and unhappiness in general. Detoxing from Joy will eventually fix these problems, but that will mean that you're a Downer, and nobody likes a Downer...
  • This is the philosophy of several lawyers in the Ace Attorney games. It's a repeated mantra for the protagonists in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, "The hardest times are when lawyers need to force their biggest smiles." They have to be optimistic and upbeat for the sake of their clients even in the face of a possible guilty verdict.
  • In Spore Space Stage, empires of the fun-loving Bard archetype turn out to be this when you look at the despairing nihilism in the synopses given of the Blocks of Chance, the ancient writings that outline their philosophy.
  • Persona:
    • Persona 4 is full of this, as befitting its central theme of facing the truth:
      • Most of the game's examples would fit in the Depressed category; Kou keeps up a cheery facade to hide his fear that his adopted family doesn't love him, Yosuke acts the clown to hide his insecurities, Rise's bubbly "Risette" stage persona was originally constructed as a way to make friends due to her past as a bully magnet, and Nanako tries to be a Cheerful Child but is clearly struggling to cope with her mother's death and her father's prolonged work-related absences.
      • The true culprit, Adachi, is an Unstable example who hides his sociopathy under a mask of cheerful idiocy.
      • Teddie starts off as an Empty example who's hiding his fears about living a hollow and meaninglessness existence as a Shadow. He gets better, with his flirty cheerfulness become genuine.
    • Persona 5: This trope is in play for all of the party members to a degree, but it affects Goro Akechi the most. His facade - handsome, charismatic, charming, and an ace detective - hides a lot of misery, loneliness, and anger stemmed from being a friendless bastard child who has been abused by the system for years. How did he get there? His father abandoned him and his mother, who was said father's mistress, and said mother eventually committed suicide out of shame because she gave birth to Goro. The abuse eventually makes him unstable and misanthropic, reaching to the point that he becomes his father's (a prominent, power-hungry politician) personal assassin, solely for the purpose of eventually revealing the truth about his parentage and causing societal upheaval. Yikes.
  • In Ensemble Stars!, Wataru, Kanata, and Leo all act perpetually eccentric and carefree, but all nurse deep scars due to attacks against them during the War the previous year. Chiaki is something of a downplayed example, as he genuinely is a very energetic and optimistic person, but he rarely lets on how much he worries about being able to take care of Ryuuseitai or how regretful he feels that he failed to protect Kanata. Subaru is an interesting example: he himself didn't realise he was doing this, as he struggles to understand emotions, so even when awful stuff started going down the previous year, he thought all everyone wanted was to do was laugh and have fun to take their minds off it. Only later did he realise that he was actually upset too, but had no way of dealing with it, and he still struggles with processing and expressing negative emotions. Eichi is also a Perpetual Smiler who rarely speaks up about his regret, and wears his illness on his sleeve, blithely joking about his probably not-far-off death, but is naturally more scared about it than he lets on.
  • In Ōkami:
    • The fake Rao/Nintetails is revealed to be this as they are actually a demon lord in disguise and want to destroy all of Ryoshima Coast.
    • Much of Waka's breezy, carefree and smug behavior seems to be an attempt to hide the fact that he is actually drowning in guilt and sorrow due to being indirectly responsible for the massacre of the Celestial Beings.

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