Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Invader Zim: Ah, yes... Nick. Neural experiment #231. And how is the happiness probe in your brain doing today, filthy human?

Nick: It's great! I never want to leave this magical place! I'm so happy!!
Invader Zim, "Zim Eats Waffles"

A character is made happy against their will. Although maybe unwelcome, the happiness is real: The character is actually happy, not merely forced to pretend. This may be done by drugs, Psychic Powers, Brainwashing for the Greater Good or simple persuasion. This trope comes in many flavors: The happiness can be blissful, romantic, purely sexualized, or whatever.

Related to Lotus Eater Machine, but the character is aware of what's happening to them and isn't entirely disconnected from the surrounding world. Also related to Love Potion, although that one is usually not pleasant, and Glamour, where a crowd is made to perceive a character as beautiful and perfect and their very best friend. Not to be confused with Happiness Is Mandatory, which doesn't actually help people to be happy.

Sometimes done by a Totalitarian Utilitarian person or organisation. Dystopia Is Hard, but this eliminates a lot of the potential headaches in one fell swoop. When done on a sufficiently large scale, it usually results in a Crap Saccharine World or Assimilation Plot... or both. When used as a weapon, this is a Care Bear Stare.

Supertrope of Electric Instant Gratification.

Examples of Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul include:

Anime & Manga

  • Benevolent example from Karin: Karin has an affinity for unhappy people, and when biting them (which INJECTS blood instead of sucking it out, hence the 'un-'), she induces a temporary state of wellbeing, overflowing energy and general happiness. From what we've seen, this effect can linger for well over a week. Fortunately, the rest of her family can perform Laser-Guided Amnesia, and will generally 'clean up' after her, so her 'victims' don't remember anything - they just wake up somewhere feeling really, really happy!
    • Her brother qualifies too, as while drinking blood, he also drinks stress, relaxing those he feeds on.
    • In the manga, while Karin's ability to devour unhappiness proved beneficial to some characters, its potential dark side was also shown in one incident when Karin wound up draining the unhappiness of a girl who had run away from home and gotten caught up in underage prostitution.
  • Happens to Luffy during the Little Garden arc of One Piece. Miss Goldenweek has "color traps" that induce a particular emotion in their victims. Luffy is recipient of two that replicate this trope, the first of which makes him laugh uncontrollably, and the second of which makes him sit down peacefully and enjoy some tea. While his friends are slowly getting turned into wax statues. The visible strain on his face as he tries to fight it, while still saying through gritted teeth "!" borders on Nightmare Fuel.
  • Noteworthy example in an episode of Angel Beats! where Naoi attempts to do this to Yuri with his Mind Control Eyes. It is worth saying that in Angel Beats! happiness means death. Good thing it didn't work.
  • In Kino's Journey, Kino was born in a country where everyone is happy and content and loves their government... because they all receive a partial lobotomy in their early teens to eliminate discontent. The end of the Whole-Episode Flashback has her escaping her knife-wielding parents' cheerful attempts to carry out her death sentence for non-compliance.

Comic Books

  • Manaras "Click" albums revolves around a remote control and brain graft that can somehow control how turned on a certain person is.
  • Delirium, the Anthropomorphic Personification of madness in The Sandman, once encountered a little girl who paid her a compliment. "So I did something to her. Something so that she'll always be happy. Always be happy forever and ever and ever." Different from most examples of this trope, in that Delirium did this not for ulterior motives, but because of her Blue and Orange Morality born of madness.
  • In Action Comics #900, Lex Luthor merges with a powerful Energy Being from the Phantom Zone that grants him godlike power. As a demonstration of his new power, he sent a wave of pure bliss through all of creation. Of course, it didn't last. One of the conditions for keeping this new power was that it couldn't be used to do anything negative such as killing Superman and Luthor being Luthor couldn't accept that.
  • In Supergod, this is one of the creepiest aspects of Morrigan Lugus. In spite of being a huge bloated undead abomination, its presence biochemically forces human brains into a state of religious and sexual ecstasy, making the humans kneel before it in prayer and masturbation. Oh, and the same spores that have this effect on the brain also destroy the lungs - the first batches of scientists died.


  • The film version of Ella Enchanted, while it's otherwise almost completely divorced from the book's plot, preserves the part where Ella (who's under a supposed blessing that makes it impossible for her to disobey an order) is ordered to be happy about her curse and goes around being terrifyingly cheerful until someone gives her another order to snap her out of it.
  • In Star Trek V the Final Frontier, the Vulcan antivillain Sybok uses his telepathic powers to remove people's emotional pain and replace it with euphoria, which causes them to be so thankful that they instantly become his devoted followers.
  • Slightly subverted in Whats So Bad About Feeling Good, the virus does this to people but it's purely a side effect; the seeming happiness infection is perfectly random in its ultimate source. Nevertheless, the Health Dept. considers this a threat and takes measures to confine it.


  • The aphrodisiac used in Slave World to induce compliance and severe Stockholm Syndrome.
  • In Douglas Adams' Mostly Harmless, Ford befriends a security robot by replacing its emotional control chip with a short piece of wire, thus forcing it to be happy whatever it did.
  • In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, there's a home consumer product called a "mood organ" which allows you to change your mood, and most people use it to be happy all the time. Technically, they do that voluntarily, but really their lives are so miserable they don't have much choice. (Although there is one character who makes a point of setting aside a regular time, twice a month, to succumb to utter despair for a couple hours.)
  • In Larry Niven's Known Space series, an alien Pierson's Puppeteer uses a Tasp, which is a device which activates the pleasure center of the brain of anyone he points it at. You are happy when he uses it on you. It is very dangerous, because if used on you long enough, you become willing to be the slave of whoever is using it on you. Addiction is a real problem.
  • In the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, there's a character called The Mule which due to a mutation is capable of controlling people emotions, in any way he want, and permanently if he wishes so. He uses this power to control his generals by creating loyalty in them; they know their loyalty is only due to his powers but they are unable to desire things otherwise.
  • The Bernard Werber novel The Ultimate Secret has a scientist get hooked on electrical happiness. Things degenerate after his death, and near the end his apprentice plans to implant the device to the captured protagonists to enslave them through addiction.
  • Ella from Ella Enchanted is under a blessing curse that makes it impossible for her to disobey an order. She is once ordered to be happy about this curse. The results are downright creepy.
  • In The Dresden Files, some White Court vampires can do this (specifically the ones that feed on lust). They use it to control and manipulate their victims, since the process also drains Life Energy. Red Court vamps use their narcotic saliva for much the same purpose; since it's addictive, they'll end up with a whole gang of junkie thralls who will do anything for them.
    • In Summer Knight, the Summer Lady Aurora does this to Harry in an effort to convince him to abandon the task given to him by Queen Mab and the White Council to find the Knight's killer. Her motivations are altruistic; she sees Harry is deeply hurt by the events in the previous book, and believes that his interference in the events surrounding the Summer Knight's murder will get him killed, so she offers him a chance to find comfort and peace away from his own inner pain. It would also, of course, get Harry out of her hair so she could complete her plan to use the power of said Knight, whom she helped murder, to destroy the balance between the Faerie Courts and doom the world to a Neo-Ice Age.
  • This is one way soma helps maintain the status quo in Brave New World. When the Savage starts to incite rebellion, the police respond not only with water pistols but with bursts of soma vapor and a prerecorded soothing voice.
    • Citizens are also engineered and conditioned from birth to love and accept their roles in society and to believe that their tier is the best tier.
  • Similarly in This Perfect Day by Ira Levin, the populace is given regular injections of happiness-inducing drugs.
  • Harry Potter mentions the Cheering Charms, which probably work this way.
  • In the Mode series by Piers Anthony, Darius is in a position of leadership ("King of Laughter") in his home society, and his qualification is his ability to "multiply joy," making everyone feel the same joy that his wife does. No character ever seems to think that this practice is suspect because the happiness of the masses is "not true happiness," though Darius is bothered by the fact that it has adverse effects on the king's wife's capacity for joy—although even the wife is fully consenting to these adverse effects.
  • In the Uglies series brain alterations are done to the pretties to make them cheerful and stupid. With almost all transformations in this series, there is some brain alterations done to make the person be absolutely ok with it.
  • In Greg Egan's short story "Reasons to be Cheerful", the protagonist starts out afflicted with a brain tumor that makes him feel, not pleasure, but genuine happiness.
  • In Mary Andrew's "Fireborn Chronicles" the criminal elements of the universe are sent to a hive planet where they are addicted to a wonderful drug that can only be earned by working, but which the workers are completely content to work for in order to receive. In the second book this addiction accidentally happens to Ira's sister, and she comes to be much more accepting of her new life than he is.
  • Crowley the demon uses this trope to convince Aziraphale the angel that he really doesn't want to go back to heaven in Good Omens.

Crowley: "There's this big mountain, see, a mile high, at the end of the universe, and once every thousand years there's this little bird... flies all the way to this mountain and sharpens its beak on the mountain... When the bird has worn the mountain down to nothing... then you still won't have finished watching The Sound of Music. And you'll enjoy it. You really will. You won't have a choice. Heaven has no taste."

Live-Action TV

  • In V-2009 they call it "bliss". The leader of the Vs, Anna, will stand in a special area and tell them calming things, and they become happy. Unfortunately, if Anna tries to do this to humans, she will almost bleed to death. In the second season finale, it is discovered that Ryan's Half-Human Hybrid daughter can bliss humans without dying.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Gridlock", pharmacists on New Earth developed mood patches to achieve this effect, which The Doctor despises. Unfortunately for the inhabitants, a virus spread through a mood patch called "Bliss" and killed just about everyone on the surface.
  • On Sliders, the group ends up on an Earth where everyone has to wear a drug injection device on their arm that keeps them calm at all times. The promo for that episode was great: "The Sliders land on world where the government controls drugs...BY GETTING EVERYONE HOOKED ON THEM!"
  • In one episode of Genie From Down Under the protagonist hands the Literal Genie a 27-page wish, highly-detailed to basically create her preferred life, complete with good things for all the people she cared about. Amongst them is the nanny/housemaid character, who is generally The Eeyore. The girl wishes for her to 'be happy'. And she IS happy, merrily singing a tune while dusting the mansion... by the end of the episode she's been carted off to a sanitarium for being ceaselessly, irrepressibly, and even ANNOYINGLY happy, all the time, no matter what. Good thing the show's genie happens to be a walking Reset Button with an Australian accent.
  • In one episode of Angel a woman who wants Angel to sire her tries to loosen him up with happy pills. Unfortunately she doesn't realise that Angelus tends to do what he wants and won't just go along with her wishes. He ends up squirting blood in her mouth and threatening her with torture.
  • One of Ally McBeal's clients was a businessman whom a non-malign brain condition had made perpetually happy. His son sued to force him into restorative surgery because he had also lost his business instinct and lost money for the company. He ultimately underwent the surgery voluntarily after his wife died and he couldn't grieve for her.
  • "Number 12 Looks Just Like You", an episode of The Twilight Zone, has the conversion process to make you one of The Beautiful Elite make you blissfully happy about it in the process.
    • Earlier on in this same episode, the young lady who didn't want to become homogenized to look as good as everybody else was told by her mother to "have a cup of Instant Smile." It was pretty clear that "Instant Smile" was far more than just a brand name for hot chocolate.
  • An episode of Stargate Atlantis features a character who emits pheromones that work directly on the part of the brain controlling positive emotions. The result is a terrifyingly cheerful cast, including some rare smiles from the Perpetual Frowner and the Implacable Man.
  • In Kamen Rider Decade, one world has this done to much of the population. Basically, half the people are cheery and helpful Stepford Smilers due to basically being lobotomized into it, and the other half act that way for fear of having it done to them at the first sign of any rudeness or negativity, as is law on that world.
  • Chiana's people do this routinely in Farscape. One means of doing it involves pulling out the eyeball and installing a chip on the optic nerve. This is shown in graphic detail.
  • A Star Trek: The Original Series episode has the crew captured by the usual omnipotent aliens, who try to break their wills by telepathically forcing them through various humiliating actions. This includes making Spock laugh, which McCoy says will kill him if it goes on too long.
    • A Deep Space Nine episode featuring Garak reveals that he became a victim of this. Originally, he had an implant in his head that would give him euphoric hormone rushes whenever the stress of undercover missions became too much (so that he'd be able to resist torture). He eventually made a device that would let him turn it on whenever he wanted... and, one day, he turned it on and never turned it off.
  • In one episode of The Late Late Show, Craig Ferguson describes taking LSD as basically this trope.


Tabletop Games

  • Paranoia. The Acute Paranoia supplement introduced the drug Gelgernine. The Computer often requires citizens to use it, which causes the lucky recipient to be blissfully happy until it wears off.
    • The Computer also uses it as an aerosol for riot control, with 30% projected casualties. And Gelgernine is the safest happiness drug in Paranoia.
  • In Feng Shui's 2056 juncture, the Bureau of Happiness and Productivity specializes in producing happiness drugs for the Buro. And that's the very least that these guys get up to.
    • One of the products of BHP is the Bonechills, a group of chemically and surgically 're-educated' individuals who are happy to commit unspeakable acts for their Buro masters. If a co-conspirator looks genuinely happy (as distinct from the Happiness Is Mandatory smile most people have) it's generally best to shoot him before he happily sets off his bomb-belt.
  • Stars Without Number has this in background, mostly as effects of eugenic cults trying to create docile slaves. But also, some sects of Buddhism used permanent neurochemical conditioning via Nanobots to achieve serenity… and one particularly misguided soul, of course, made a genetic modification version (it's considered outrageous because there's no merit in resisting non-existent temptations, only the self-sacrifice of undergoing conditioning in the first place, but since people born with it don't get to make this decision, they are screwed over — they are deprived of ways to accrue spiritual merit).


  • Orde, a Toa of psionics in Bionicle, was assigned to work with the Zyglak and was supposed to "calm them down", which may have involved something like this. However, due to his own violent temper, Orde ends up inverting this trope and putting them into a permanent state of Unstoppable Rage.


  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 has assimilation into the Fold feel like this...your own desires become the desires of the collective consciousness, and in cases like the Tinkerer, fulfilling those desires makes you blissfully happy.
    • This was similar to the case of the collective consciousness, Unity, in one of the Repairman novels. However, it could be resisted if the person infected is in the presence of a microwave, but Kate (who becomes infected) knows that prolonged exposure to the Unity will eventually cause her to enjoy her condition and do everything the collective tells her to do.
  • In Judgment Rites, a Star Trek PC game, this happens to Spock thanks to an alien entity that has suppressed all emotions except joy. Paradoxically, Spock seems to be in agony about it.


  • Sluggy Freelance: Riff shoots Bun-bun with a euphorant-tipped dart to keep him from killing Kiki. Bun-bun gleefully mangles him and Torg. Torg, previously dosed with the same drug, is thrilled about the lacerations.
    • In alternate dimension arc "4U-City", the entire population is kept under the effects of such a drug. With good reason, all of the citizens in the city survived a war and subsequent interdimensional invasions, many would be suffering from PTSD if not medicated. Even Riff can't handle it sometimes.
  • In Schlock Mercenary, Professer Pau has done this via Electric Instant Gratification to the numerous people he abducted off the streets as part of his medical nannie-farming operation. Though the way he phrases it seems to imply he believes that doing this merits some sympathy in spite of all the above.

Pau: They're happy. They are unaware of their physical state, and are enjoying full-immersion sims. You don't think I'd hang people from the ceiling, bloat them with chemicals, harvest their blistered hides, and then leave them miserable, do you?
Ennessby: Sorry. Our bad. We'll get your sainthood application processed right away.

    • Para Ventura hacked AI by injecting "fond memories" of herself. As a result, she can explain it in details in their hearing range and remain loved, while the guy who hacked one bot by reducing it to a mindless automaton get addressed by the others as "You Monster!".
  • In Girl Genius, this is how the Nepenthes Dulcis plant lulls its prey.
    • Also, accidentally done by Agatha via the coffee engine she "repaired". A rampaging big Super Soldier who got a cup of the Spark Roast blend splashed in his face and licked a few drops was stoned enough to suddenly stop and announce that it's a very good coffee ("with a nize kick" when the opportunity was exploited). The normal-sized human who volunteered to be her food taster and drank a full cup of this stuff... the next few hours he was passionately blathering on the important topic of everything around him being "perfect!"

Web Originals

  • The Charmer, from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe causes everyone around her to like her as if they were her best friend through the simple expedient of forcing them to be happy whenever she's around. The target thus associates happiness with the Charmer, to the point that they are incapable of being happy when she's not around anymore.
  • In the Homestar Runner' cartoon "Happy Hallow-day", the extended absence of Halloween night, and thus the perpetual day it creates, forces Strong Sad out into the sunshine and denying him his daily dose of doom and gloom. At one point he complains that "something funny's happening to the sides of my mouth," and indeed it is; they're turning up. Later, wearing an expression of blessed contentment, he begs for someone to shoot him.
  • One of the more disturbing "if you think about it" aspects of Monster Girl Encyclopedia is that the Demon Lord is basically doing a lust-based variant of this, to the extent of spreading her corruption not just over former flesh-eating monsters, but also over races that were originally on relatively amiable terms with humanity, such as elves, fairies, dwarves and mermaids.
  • The Superhappies in Three Worlds Collide want to do something like this to humans. In the normal ending, they do. It's treated as a tragedy.
  • Cavalier and Skybolt of the Whateley Universe apparently got this treatment to the point that they were absolute mindslaves to some of the badguys of Whateley Academy.
  • In his Captain Planet review, The Nostalgia Critic put on the heart ring and was made to feel perfectly relaxed and happy before a ruler to the head snapped him out of it.

Western Animation

  • The 'Happy-Happy, Joy-Joy' episode of Ren and Stimpy, called "Stimpy's Invention". Realizing that Ren is always unhappy, Stimpy gives him a Happy Helmet that makes him perpetually happy against his will. Once Ren breaks it off, he reveals that getting pissed at Stimpy makes him happy.
  • In Invader Zim, one of Zim's prisoners has a thing stuck in his brain that makes him happy at all times. It's hilariously creepy.
    • And the name of this character? Nick.
  • In the Care Bears, the Care Bear Stare had this effect in the original DiC seasons and Adventures In Care-A-Lot. Everywhere else, it's used for its evil-smiting properties.
  • Kim Possible's Arch Enemy Dr. Drakken steals a "neural compliance chip" and uses it on his Sidekick, so the normally sarcastic and quick-tempered Shego happily obeys him, listens to his stories and bakes cookies. She's somewhat angry with him when it's busted.
    • In another episode, Shego and Kim both get tagged with chips that control emotions. They can do Happy, Sad, Angry, or Lovestruck (and spend a lot of time on the last two), as controlled by a remote that Ron mistakes for his Kimmunicator.
  • One episode of One Hundred and One Dalmatians had the three dalmatians, Spot the chicken, and their owners finding themselves in a medieval town that appears every 100 years. It's revealed that Cruella's ancestor ruled the town with an iron fist, and when no one stood up to oppose him, the town's witch (who also looks like the nanny's ancestor) puts a curse on a town that makes everyone and anyone who enters it mindlessly happy, making Cruella's ancestor all the more miserable in comparison. One by one, all the characters (except Spot, who was exempt from the curse because the witch had a pet chicken, and Cruella, who was her ancestor's descendent) fall under the spell, gaining mind control swirly eyes and becoming completely complacent. Spot manages to break them out of their spell by kissing them (also despelling a fellow medieval puppy who thought Cruella's ancestor was a kind and loving man, who then vows to prevent Cruella's ancestor from making trouble, as he had planned to use Cruella as a replacement for the town so he may escape) and run out of the town before it disappears for the next 100 years.
  • The Transformers (Gen 1): "Changing Gears". The Autobot Gears, a perpetual grouch, is kidnapped and has a circuit stolen that controls the evil plan of the week - and turns him cheerful. After the rescue, the Autobots consider leaving it out, but Gears insists on reinstalling it.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls episode "Super Zeroes", Bubbles—who had reinvented herself as "Harmony Bunny"—tries this with what she dubs "Happy Stickers". They have no effect.

Real Life

  • A few types of drugs can do this to a person for a short time. They include opioids, such as morphine and heroin, and drugs that affect the brain's dopamine system, such as cocaine and methamphetamine. After a while, however, the drugs start to become less and less effective at producing pleasure, because the brain has systems that will keep trying harder and harder to compensate for the drug's effects and return it to "normal". And once the "corrections" have kicked in, it takes a long time to get rid of them if you ever stop taking the drug. So instead of feeling normal when you're not on the drug and good when you are on the drug, you feel miserable when you're not on the drug while taking it only brings you up to "normal". And they usually have all kinds of other nasty effects, too. So unless you have less than six months to live, taking these drugs is almost always a very bad idea.
    • Opiates also numb pain, and prolonged pain also has very nasty physiological effects. Doctors will proscribe morphine if you're going to be in extreme pain for a relatively short period of time, such as before or after surgery. Do not attempt to self-medicate with them.
      • Just because this isn't bad enough, it is possible to be perfectly aware that it's the drugs' work. This is an unpleasant experience.
  • Electrical stimulation of certain regions of the brain appears to do something similar to this.