Follow TV Tropes


Stepford Smiler / Web Original

Go To

Female examples

  • Aki of Sailor Nothing starts out as one, repressing her real emotions to fit in with the popular group at school. After she's exposed, she drops the act but has a hard time adjusting to being a normal person.
  • Rhianna von Adolph from Open Blue. A Knife Nut in charge of the special operations department of The Empire's intelligence agency.
  • The Guild: Clara's smiling, friendly demeanor hides a criminally neglectful mother and a treacherous backstabber who creates an alternate character to attack Vork and makes out with a man Codex is interested in.
  • Advertisement:
  • In Arcana Magi, Reya Everheart is Empty thanks to her therapy sessions.
  • In DC Super Hero Girls, the main characters look as cheerful and happy-go-lucky as they come. But in Out of the Bottle, class clown Harley Quinn mentions she goes to a therapist (in fact she has enough traumas to fill a dozen of books... some of them brought about by a green-haired jerk bullying her in kindergarten), and Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl admit they're going to a therapist, too. The group concurs that "It's hard to be a super hero without a little mental health help."
  • In a Played for Laughs example, The Nostalgia Chick has an element of this about her, even though she's not evil and mostly a Jerkette With A Heart Of Gold. This comes up mostly when she reveals something nasty about her childhood and then has a big, happy smile on her face a few seconds later.
  • Advertisement:
  • Laina the Overly Attached Girlfriend. Started out doing a Distaff Counterpart version of Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend" for a Bieber-related contest, but played a Stalker with a Crush. Then followed it up with a parody of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe". Watch her not blink.
  • In Funny Business, it is eventually revealed that Jeannette is actually self-loathing and has a massive Guilt Complex, and is only pretending to be a Cheerful Child so that her loved ones don't worry about her.
  • RWBY:
    • Weiss is this. She prepares for a conversation with Schnee employees by practising a smile...which as soon as the talk is over, to be replaced by an unhappy expression.
    • Pyrrha Nikos is a downplayed example. While she is a genuinely sweet girl who is grateful for her incredible talent, she feels isolated from people for so long because nobody sees themselves as good enough to be around her.
    • Advertisement:
    • Ruby Rose turns out to be this. In early seasons, Ruby stays perpetually cheerful and happy as the tone grows Darker and Edgier and the cast begin to develop more complex personalities. And then there is one episode that implies she really is as affected by the goings-on as everyone else but feels the need as leader of Team RWBY to keep up the appearance. There are hints such as her Grief Song "Red Like Roses Part II" that depicts Ruby's pain over Summer's death; it was written early in development and it's unknown whether the song still applies to Ruby's finalized characterization. The events of Volume 3 leading into Volume 4 and more have increased the idea, supported by scenes of her being close to breaking down such as her talk with Oscar in Volume 5. Volume 7 brings this idea up again, and has seemed to confirm many fan theories about Ruby's anguish about Summer.
      • In the Volume 7 episode "Gravity", Salem attempts to intimidate Ironwood into surrendering, and Ruby intervenes to tell her that they know about her immortality but will still find a way to stop her. Every time Ruby has given a heroic speech, she's won her point and the day. This time, however, there's a gut-punching scene of Salem breaking Ruby with a single, dispassionate line when she tells Ruby that her mother once said the same thing to her and was also wrong. The statement is accompanied by Ruby crying sudden Broken Tears and suffering uncontrolled flashbacks to her mother standing on the cliff where her grave now lies. Instead of the idealistic, joyful memory that helped Ruby activate her silver eyes against the Leviathan in Volume 6, the memory is dulled, subdued and her mother looks deeply unhappy. Eerie, discordant music plays as Ruby clutches her head and sways as her silver eyes power short-circuits, before she finally collapses to the ground, sobbing, while a tearful and distraught Yang desperately attempts to comfort her. The entire scene is played out as a traumatic subversion of the Shut Up, Kirk! trope that is designed to devastate the viewers along with Ruby.
      • Fans picked up on this and as mentioned in this post, someone points out that "Ruby, deep down, is a happy person. But deep down, there lies an undercurrent of sadness that - with the right push - could break through. The world of Remnant has been pushing for quite a while now." And indeed her voice actress Lindsay Jones states Ruby's theme for Volume 8 is "everything hurts".
  • Emma Approved: Emma Woodhouse, who acts confident to a point of arrogance despite several cracks that show how little self-esteem she actually has.
  • Twig: Helen, an Artificial Human with emotions disconnected from her physical reactions. She can play at any given role, but beneath whichever face she's wearing that day is an emotionless blank with inhuman predatory instincts.
  • Friendship is Witchcraft:
    • Pinkie Pie had a very subpar fillyhood full of emotional abuse at an orphanage due to being both an Earth pony and Romani. As an adult she uses a very cheery persona to hide her problems, with it rarely cracking even when singing depressing but chipper songs
    • Rarity and Applejack are both Shellshocked Veterans, though Rarity is more-so. Rarity is trying to recover but it's obvious the trauma has taken a toll on her. Applejack on the other hand seems to be ignoring her issues and acts like a war hero, despite her numerous war crimes and the things she saw.
  • Red vs. Blue's Dr. Emily Grey is a bit too maniacally cheerful for someone whose planet is locked in a never ending civil. The Ultimate Fanbook confirms that, surrounded by death 24/7, she put on a "Happy Face" so much that eventually she suffered from Sanity Slippage, Became the Mask, and hasn't taken it off since then.
  • Discussed in Barbie Vlog. In one vlog, Barbie discusses how she used to feel guilty on her bad days because she's known as a constantly upbeat person. She however realized that she shouldn't have to force herself to be happy constantly and that everyone suffers from the blues at one point or another.
  • The Cry of Mann: Courtney at first appears to be perfectly happy with her life, being Tank Mann's wife and the leader of his company. However, it later becomes clear that she's miserable even just being in the house, saying that once she's in charge, she'd destroy the house and salt the Earth around it for good measure, all just because the house smells like Tank Mann. She later admitted to Berry that the reason she's doing what she's doing is that Tank Mann and Mann Corp. minimized her role in the company, despite her being the genius behind the battle machines, as well as the fact that she felt utterly unwelcome in the house at all. All of this, and she still pretended to be happy living with Tank and his family.
  • Echo Rose: Echo claims to be fine and puts on a cheerful facade, but has several moments of admitting her true feelings toward her situation- which is, to say, misery and isolation. She'll break character for a moment, and then return to acting like she's in a good mood.

Male Examples

  • Flippy of Happy Tree Friends is very Unstable due to a Split Personality.
  • Like the The Nostalgia Chick, The Nostalgia Critic also delves into this on occasion. Mostly when a movie does something good then completely fucks it up but also when he was talking about his parents.
    *shows a picture of his kindergarten self being ripped apart by two monsters labeled "Mom" and "Dad"*
    Critic: (cheerfully) "I had issues."
  • Lewis of The Doctors of the Cat Family is Depressed.
  • Kid-friendly version with Tom from The Cartoon Show, who tries his hardest to be polite, but represses an unhealthy amount and only just barely manages to hide his frustration.
  • Yandere High School reveals that Sam is violent and mentally unstable without Taurtis. To cope, he tries to force Grian to replace Taurtis, but the absence of his best friend and Yuki's psychotic nature drive him crazy.
  • At first glance, Director Pandya from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues appears to be affable; talking politely to his employees, smiling gently as he talks to them, and bringing his dog into work. However, it's noted that his smile doesn't reach his eyes, which are emotionless, and that his serene attitude causes said employees to feel uneasy.
  • "Hide-The-Pain Harold", a stock photo of a retired Hungarian man, got the moniker because his smile in the image looked extremely forced, as his eyes had a sad expression.

Mixed Gender Examples

  • The meme "[screams internally]" usually goes on this trope.
  • Quite a few of these have shown up in Survival of the Fittest, surprisingly. Most of these tend to be Depressed, for obvious reasons. Some examples:
    • Former gamer Warren Pace gives himself a complete image makeover to fit in with the football team due to his perceived images of jocks.
    • Maria Graham has a bad habit of burying any pain and angst underneath an overly cheerful, energetic persona. It's already been shown before that when she finally crashes, she crashes HARD.
      • She ended up crashing pretty early once the game started, though she often tries to put it back up again. Eventually she succeeds when Duncan McMahon, her childhood friend and love interest dies right in front of her, causing her to finally lose her mind.
    • Hermione Miller also has been shown to have tendencies of this. She spends most of her run in serious denial, believing that she is at the campsite while acting eerily cheerful and rejecting all signs that she's stuck on a Deserted Island. Eventually she has a revelation about her situation and that no one will take her seriously due to her being The Ditz, and right after is Driven to Suicide. She also receives a fair amount of Lampshade Hanging comparing her to the Trope Namer.
    • In mini site Spin-Off The Program, Brigadier General David Adams, the founder of the title game, is very possibly) Unstable. He has been described as pretty casual looking for a military organization, and oftentimes slides into Cloudcuckoolander mode during announcements. However, he has shown to have a very chilling approach towards the idea of children killing each other, and seems to really be enthused by it. Needless to say, there's a lot of Dissonant Serenity in his announcements.
  • The Whites from Lucky Day Forever can be seen as Empty. They are always shown donning a smile on their faces, as if it's the only expression they wear. The only thing they managed to do is to trick the Proles into becoming their Human Resources.
  • In Worm, Interlude 18 (Donation Bonus #2) gives a glimpse of the blissful home life of the Nazi supervillain couple Night and Fog (i.e. Dorothy and Geoff Schmidt) ... a pair who carry out the natural routines of married life with all the tenderness and care of wind-up automata.
    Put the paper away, it's time to eat, Justin thought. Yes dear. Mmm. Smells delicious.

    "Put the paper away, it's time to eat," Dorothy said. She was holding the coffee pot, stepped behind Geoff, putting a hand on his shoulder, and bent down to kiss him on the top of his head. Automatic, without affection.

    "Yes, dear." Geoff said, smiling up at his wife. "Mmm. Smells delicious."

    Jesus fuck, they scare me, Justin thought.
  • From Welcome to Night Vale: Literally all of the town Desert Bluffs, run by the evil corporation StrexCorp. In particular, the radio host Kevin, who on the whole is much cheerier than our usual Cecil, but reportedly doesn't smile right. Also, his studio is covered in blood and viscera.
  • All of the teachers in Don't Hug Me I'm Scared.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: