Follow TV Tropes


Stepford Smiler / Web Original

Go To

Female examples

  • In Arcana Magi, Reya Everheart is Empty thanks to her therapy sessions.
  • 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.
  • Advertisement:
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • Emma Approved: Emma Woodhouse, who acts confident to a point of arrogance despite several cracks that show how little self-esteem she actually has.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Rhianna von Adolph from Open Blue. A Psycho Knife Nut in charge of the special operations department of The Empire's intelligence agency.
  • 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.
  • RWBY:
    • Ruby is cheerful, happy and optimistic, but she is strongly implied to be hiding despair. During Volumes 4 and 5, she represses her trauma from the events of Volume 3 until Oscar cracks the mask when demanding to know how she can keep going in the face of so much pain, horror and fear; it cracks again at Haven when witnessing Cinder charge Jaune makes her flashback to Volume 3. In Volume 7, her defiance against Salem ends with her collapsing in tears when Salem throws her dead mother back in her face; in Volume 8, she learns the Awful Truth about what Salem might have done to her mother, triggering a full Heroic BSoD.
    • While riding an elevator in Volume 2, Weiss practices smiling in preparation for a video call to her father's headquarters; the smile disappears as soon as the call ends. She later tells Yang that, on her tenth birthday, Jacques revealed that he only married Willow for the inheritance; her devastated mother then descended into alcoholism and stopped parenting. Her father is controlling and abusive, using his children only as tools to further his ambitions. He disinherits both daughters when they rebel, favouring his son because his survival tactic is to allow Jacques to mould him into a "mini-me". The family's situation on begins improving after Jacques' arrest in Volume 8.
    • For all the things Pyrrha has been gifted with, she's terribly alone and isolated due to her celebrity status. She only feels normal around Jaune because he makes her feel normal. In "Destiny", she's under immense pressure from the secrets Ozpin's Benevolent Conspiracy have revealed to her, but she cannot confide in anyone. She therefore puts on a brave face when Ruby wishes her luck in the tournament, which vanishes as soon as Ruby's left.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Male Examples

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Lewis of The Doctors of the Cat Family is Depressed.
  • Flippy of Happy Tree Friends is very Unstable due to a Split Personality.
  • Hazbin Hotel has Angel Dust. He's outwardly a fun-loving, hedonistic sex worker who revels in his job, but the Addict music video reveals that he's actually a deeply damaged person traumatized by the physical and financial abuse of his pimp, Valentino.
  • "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.
  • 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."
  • 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.

Mixed Gender Examples

  • All of the teachers in Don't Hug Me I'm Scared.
  • The meme "[screams internally]" usually goes on this trope.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.