Cheerful Child

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

You've seen 'em before. That great big smile...that innocent look in their eyes that just screams "hug me"... This is the Cheerful Child. Usually female, always younger than 13, and forever with a sunny disposition on life. They might, if they're the irrepressibly curious type, know a bit more about the world than respectable people think kids of that age ought to know.

Very common in Slice of Life shows, or cartoons centered around and/or made for young children, where very little conflict happens. May serve as a foil to an older sibling in the latter's Coming of Age Story. Under optimal conditions, or with some luck, Cheerful Child usually grows up to be a Pollyanna, a Genki Girl, or Love Freak. Or, if male, maybe into a Keet. Very unfortunate Cheerful children can be a variant of The Woobie, or worse.

The Constantly Curious are usually Cheerful Children, as is Curious as a Monkey.

Compare the Kawaiiko and The Cutie, which is about this appeal regardless of age, and the Adorably Precocious Child, who may or may not be cheerful but is usually very cute.

Contrast the Creepy Child, Deliberately Cute Child, The Fake Cutie, and Psychopathic Manchild. May overlap with Token Loli.

Examples of Cheerful Child include:

Anime and Manga

  • Chiyo Mihama from Azumanga Daioh (in the picture above) just radiates with cheer and cuteness.
  • Rihoko from Witchblade could seriously challenge her for the poster child of this trope.
  • Yotsuba from Yotsuba&!, which is like Kiyohiko Azuma (who also created Azumanga Daioh) trying to out-cute himself.
  • Most of the girls from Ichigo Mashimaro.
  • Sasami from Tenchi Muyo.
  • Negi Springfield from Negima has some moments, when he's able/allowed/forced to be just a kid. The twins, Fuka and Fumika, play the role the rest of the time, despite being teenagers.
  • Asu from Binbou Shimai Monogatari.
  • Ryo and Luna from Little House With an Orange Roof.
  • Mizuki from Mokke, when she's not being pestered by some spirits - and sometimes even when she is.
  • Mahoraba has two of these: Asami Kurosaki and Nanako Aoba.
  • Ai from Aria.
  • Kenpachi's little lieutenant Yachiru from Bleach.
    • A very disturbing example, as watching her apparent father figure get hurt makes her happy, as he must be "having fun."
    • Of course, this is Kenpachi we're talking about here, so he probably is. She can get pretty damn creepy when she's mad too...
  • Tomohane from Inukami!. Consistently cheerful and cute with Twin Tails.
  • Subverted with Rico from Gunslinger Girl who is cheerful because she was a former Ill Girl confined to a hospital bed until given a cyborg body by the Social Welfare Agency. Who in return have made her a brainwashed killing machine. The contrast between her always perky personality and her occupation leads to several Creepy Child moments, like when she comes across a boy she'd met before (and fancied) in the aftermath of an assassination.

Rico: (thinking) [What do I say to someone in a situation like this? I remember!]
(takes out her gun and smiles) I am sorry. (shoots boy)

  • Takeru is like this in Digimon Adventure, but he subverted it in 02: he mostly acts happy because that is what people expect of him; his greatest trait is Hope, after all, and he's very likely aware of the ramifications of losing that aspect of himself. However, his parents' divorce and his last adventure (especially Angemon's death) have left their mark on him. The latter of which may cause him to go violent if there is the threat of his friends getting hurt.
    • Takeru does seem genuinely happy in some respects, but he's definitely not as well-adjusted as he looks. Episode 02x19, anyone?
    • The whole franchise in general seems to go out of its way to avert this trope: Hikari, easily Takeru's closest friend among the Chosen Children, appears carefree and sweet, but is a borderline psychic Ill Girl with a mild inferiority complex towards her older brother; Iori, Takeru's other close friend, is the Kid Samurai and moral compass of 02's Five-Man Band and a strong believer in justice who's incredibly serious for a nine year old and, quite bluntly, misses his dad, and he's easily the most wary of the reformed Ken; Ken himself has the Crest of Kindness and was incredibly gentle and kind as a child, but one I Wished You Were Dead moment jump-started his Start of Darkness; originally, the only truly remarkable thing about Juri was her ubiquitous puppet, and it came as a great shock when they broke the cutie and she attempted to strangle herself with it; Tomoki is bullied at school, spoiled by his parents and his older brother is trying to show him that the bullies are a little closer to the real world; Ikuto's got his identity crisis; Shiuchon is the only straight example in the franchise, and she's very much the minor character.
      • The entire cast of every Digimon series seems to suffer from There Are No Psychologists. Which is all the more worrying when you consider that the entire stability and safety of two worlds is basically dependent upon the psyches of this bunch of less-than-well-adjusted eight-to-fifteen year olds.
        • Actually, Ai and Mako are six or five depending on what dub you're watching. And like all Digimon Tamers characters, they're a deconstruction of this trope. They're nice and sweet, but only as a result of their parents and Impmon abandoning them. Maturity in the Digimon universe comes at a price. Still, they play this trope in a healthier manner than most.
  • Cooro from +Anima is a good example of a male Cheerful Child. There are only 2 times in 10 books where he looks solemn.
  • Hina Ichigo from Rozen Maiden.
  • Zatch/Gashu from Gash Bell.
  • A male example: Gon in Hunter X Hunter. And, like many of the examples on this page, deeply, deeply, DEEPLY broken...
  • Rimone from Simoun remains mostly cheerful, despite the burden of piloting a weapon of mass destruction.
  • Freya from Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok, although her child form is not her true form, nor is her child personality her True Self.
  • Another male example: Momiji from Fruits Basket.
  • Chi (a female kitten) and Youhei (a little boy) from Chi's Sweet Home.
  • Vivio from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S.
    • Also Nanoha herself, to a lesser extent, before the Time Skip.
  • Setsuko from Grave of the Fireflies. Unfortunately, she stars in one of the most depressing pieces of media ever made, so unlike most examples, we see her slowly deteriorate over the course of the story.
  • Kyon's sister in Haruhi Suzumiya.
  • Sealand is the happiest (and most deluded) damned micronation EVER.
    • Let's not forget that Italy (as Chibitalia) used to be like that too, growing up into a full-blown Keet.
    • America was this too, though a little more sedate than the other cheerful child nations. It has been speculated amongst fans that if he were to suddenly revert to a child in canon, he would dominate the world simply because none of the other countries would be able to withstand the power of his cuteness.
  • Hitsugi in Hyakko. She has yet to interact with the main cast, but her happy elementary school antics usually make their way into the episodes.
  • OK, Yuno of Hidamari Sketch is overaged a bit (she's 15), but she completely fits the archetype.
  • Alphonse Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist as a subversion. He and his brother were in a horrific accident and to make a long story short, Al's soul is now in a 7 foot tall suit of armor. Nevertheless, he and his brother remain mostly cheerful, although Ed borders on an Emo Teen at times.
    • Not that Fullmetal Alchemist doesn't have it's share of Cheerful Children. There's at least one in each of the first few episodes of the first series, and when they stop showing up it's a sign that the series has gotten Darker and Edgier. Especially poor, poor Nina.
    • There's also Selim Bradley, although Darker and Edgier certainly applies to him in both the manga in which he is actually the monstrously evil homunculus Pride and the anime in which he's murdered by his adoptive father for accidentally revealing his Achilles' Heel.
    • And May Chang, with a Ridiculously Cute Panda mirroring her.
    • Also Elicia Hughes, except when she's crying for her dead daddy and breaking all of our hearts.
  • Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion. YES I said SHINJI IKARI. Before the activation test of Unit 01 and the "death" of his mother you see him as a constantly smiling, laughing, curious boy. Oh GOD. The same might be true for Asuka, but we only ever see her after Unit 02 has sucked the brains out of her mother. Thank god for Fan Fiction (Especially Nobody Dies).
  • In Monster, Tenma's optimism manages to turn Dieter into one of these. In fact Dieter's cheerfulness and optimism are so great, that Dieter later manages to save one of the children that Johan had been corrupting. He also provides a grounding influence for Tenma and, later, Nina.
  • Sakura Kinomoto, and almost every other female member of her cast.
  • The titular Shion from Shion no Ou.
  • Rika from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Subverted when we find out that she actually understands what's going on better than anyone else and is rather dissatisfied with her current situation, but she pretends to be happy and optimistic for the sake of her friends. Until season two.
  • Yutaka from Lucky Star is also overaged, but she can easily pass off as one, especially considering her height.
  • White of Tekkon Kinkreet, as the perfect foil to his older brother Black. It is even mentioned during the film that Black needs White's cheerful innocence to balance out the pair. That being said, he does set someone on fire when they were threatening Black
  • The titular character of Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea is cheerful about lots of things, mainly ham.
  • The robot Tachikomas of Ghost in The Shell Stand Alone Complex have the personalities and voices of cheerful children... and the bodies of Spider Tanks. They're the cutest war machines ever.
  • Ogami Daigoro, the titular Cub in Lone Wolf and Cub, does a really good job of keeping his spirits up in spite of the hardships (and goriness) of his dad's Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Maria, of Umineko no Naku Koro ni, was evidently this way in her backstory, in spite of having an Abusive Parent, but after an event mentioned in the fourth arc, became the Creepy Child we all know and are creeped out by.
  • In Change 123, Motoko's Split Personality Mikiri is a Cheerful Child in a well-endowed body of a teenage girl, which makes her a perfect Innocent Fanservice Girl.
  • Yellow from Pokémon Special. A cheerful, happy-go-lucky Friend to All Living Things who likes to fish and draw (badly) in her spare time. She counts even though she's gotten older over the years due to the fact she never seems to mature as well as the other female Dex Holders.
  • The Professor from Nichijou is one of these, especially when she reads picture books or talks about sharks. She also likes to joyously modify Nano, the Robot Girl she invented, for no other purpose than that it's fun.
  • Roll in Mega Man Upon A Star, voiced by Andrea Libman in the English dub.
  • Shouta from Happy Yarou Wedding, especially when he's doing his Takoyaki Man routine.
  • Kou, Fuu's younger brother in Tamayura.
  • Chirin from Chirin no Suzu.. At least for the first fifteen minutes of the film.
  • Rin Kokonoe from Kodomo no Jikan before her mother died.
  • Naoya's daughter Asuhariet from Lotte's Toy stands out.

Comic Books

  • Megan of the New X-Men during its run became this toward the end; the art style made her look younger and she fit the personality to a T. Leading the other students to believe she was the youngest of the group (she wasn't the youngest).
  • In a flashback in the The Sandman, Delirium was shown in her previous form as Delight, who was normal-looking and very much a Cheerful Child.
  • Again, Roll in the Mega Man comics from Archie Comics.
  • Lian Harper of DC Comics, which serves as a testament to Roy's parenting skills.


  • Maggie Banning in Hook is an unusual example, as she is in peril for much of the film as a prisoner of Captain Hook. It's her innocent, positive outlook on life that allows her to see through his claim that her parents don't love her, and she lashes out at him for trying to manipulate both her and Jack. She has an idea about what's wrong with the villain, too: "You need a mommy very badly!"
    • She's not too far off -- when the Croc comes back to life and makes a meal out of Hook, his last words are "I want my mommy!"
  • Boo from Monsters, Inc.
  • Young Franny from Meet the Robinsons
  • Brianna, the girl who hires the Mystery Team, is rather cheerful for a girl whose parents just died.
  • Jack-Jack the baby from The Incredibles.


Live Action TV

  • Punky Brewster. A little girl who at age 8 was deserted by her mother (after her father left their family) and was found living alone in an empty apartment by Henry Warnimont, who would adopt her. Yet she manages to maintain a positive spin on things even though once in awhile she would wax sadness about it.


  • Beth in the opera The Tender Land.

Video Games

  • Despite the combat-oriented nature of the series, a couple of Touhou characters fit this trope. Mostly these are fairly weak characters like Chen or the Aki sisters, but then there's Bonus Boss Suwako...
  • Cream the Rabbit from the Sonic the Hedgehog series. She's a very cheerful, kind-hearted, and optimistic 6 year old rabbit girl who enjoys playing outside, gathering flowers, and playing with her cute sidekick, Cheese the Chao. Also, both Tails and Charmy Bee fits into this trope as well, although they are both a nerd and Keet as well, respectively.
  • Mistral of .hack acts like this all the time. Turns out she is a housewife.
  • Link's little sister Aryll, arguably also Malon and Romani.
  • Kulche in Loco Roco. Hey, if you can keep your smile and sing almost all the time when a threat isn't 5 meters away from you, it should count.
  • Apparently, Brick from Borderlands was absolutely adorable as a little child, grinning happily as he cuddled a puppy in his massively oversized hands in the treehouse with him and his future mercenary friends. Then we get into the game, where he blows things apart with rockets, shotguns, and a pipe, and goes into furious rages where he makes people explode by punching them and screaming blood. Not for blood. Just...screaming 'blood.' Repeatedly.
  • Susumu Hori of Mr. Driller is the game's example of this trope.
  • Crash Bandicoot in the 2005-2008 games.
  • Banjo's kid sister Tooty from Banjo-Kazooie.
  • Again, Mega Man: Roll, Roll, Roll (at age 10)
    • Mega himself counts.
  • Cheerful White Bomber.
  • Pac-Man becomes one in Pac Man Party.

Visual Novels

  • In the sequel to Fate Stay Night, Fate/hollow ataraxia, Kogil serves this role. Of course... he's the younger version of Gilgamesh, who as we know is more than a little messed up. We'd wonder what happened, except the prequel tells us.
    • Ilya is also very capable of being this trope... As long as she's not commanding her nine-foot tall monster servant to rip you limb from limb because she's bored... Or trying to control your mind with magic... Or just in other ways being the perfect example of the Creepy Child.
  • Ushio from Clannad.
  • Pearl from Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney.
    • Only after she warms up to Phoenix. She spends most of the second game blushing and silent.
    • A more straight example would be 8 years old Trucy Enigmar. Her adorable, radiant smile is so effective, it manages to cure one major character's deep depression.
  • Hisui, from Tsukihime, was quite cheerful as child, until Shiki left; at which point she become not so cheerful anymore.
    • Finding out that her twin older sister Kohaku is trapped in the mansion being raped almost daily (and that the only reason it's not happening to her is by Kohaku's efforts) probably had something to do with it. That, and she stays "emotionless" to keep Kohaku from reverting. Too bad Kohaku has already become an Emotionless Girl under her Genki Girl facade....
  • Coco of Ever 17 is technically a little old for this trope (she if 14 years old), but looks like, acts like and is mistaken for an elementary student. Occasionally she has little streaks of not-quite-despair which makes sense when you realize she's seeing the future/talking to people in the future, where she doesn't seem to exist anymore. But she cheers up quickly enough anyway and plays strange games like staring contests with dogs or pretending to be a chicken.

Web Comics

Web Originals

  • Erikas New Perfume's titular character is this, when she isn't insanely embarrassed. Also from what little we see of Sarah before she grows up she seemed to fit this as well.
  • Red from Pokémon Red and Blue is portrayed like this in There Will Be Brawl, showing him to truly care about the Pokémon and is one of the few truly Good characters in a Grey and Grey Morality setting, making his death all the more poignant, especially since it was indirectly the protagonist's fault.
    • Ness and Lucas had made a cameo in one episode playing and looking to fill this trope too. They turn out to be the serial killers who killed and stuffed all the victims in the series.

Western Animation