Manic Pixie Dream Girl

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She'll liven up your life whether you like it or not!


Let's say you're a soulful, brooding male hero, living a sheltered, emotionless existence. If only someone—someone female—could come along and open your heart to the great, wondrous adventure of life...

It's Manic Pixie Dream Girl to the rescue!

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is there to give new meaning to the male hero's life. She's stunningly attractive, high on life, full of wacky quirks and idiosyncrasies (generally including childlike playfulness and a tendency towards petty crime), often with a touch of wild hair dye. She's inexplicably obsessed with our stuffed-shirt hero, on whom she will focus her kuh-razy antics until he learns to live freely and love madly. From the girl's perspective, this trope becomes Single Woman Seeks Good Man, though whether the hero qualifies varies.

May be featured as the Second Love, in order to break the character out of The Mourning After.

Subtrope of Blithe Spirit. Related to Magical Girlfriend, Cloudcuckoolander, Genki Girl, Perky Goth, Strange Girl, Damsel Errant, Uptight Loves Wild, Loony Friends Improve Your Personality, and POV Boy, Poster Girl. Compare Magical Negro, where a black character plays a similar (but non-romantic) role in helping a white protagonist get over their issues and learn to love life. Contrast Yamato Nadeshiko, and Yandere (though when Played for Drama, Subverted, or Deconstructed, she may turn out to be one). Sometimes is a Sidekick Ex Machina. Contrast Nerd Nanny.

May be used as a cheerful variety of Threshold Guardians, all the way from less uptight to psychopomps happily welcoming their clients into "another adventure".

Although it's a long-standing trope (one pundit wondered if Eve was Adam's MPDG), the term was coined by film critic Nathan Rabin in 2005. He found it grating, and Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency pointed out that it allows creators to disguise their Shallow Love Interests with a veil of spontaneity. Fortunately, Tropes Are Not Bad, and others have been able to take the archetype in more complex directions, up to and including making the MPDG the protagonist of their works. However, Rabin disagrees, and says that the trope has now moved well beyond his original intent -- Death of the Author very much applies here.

Examples of Manic Pixie Dream Girl include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Suzumiya Haruhi takes the lemony and unreliable narrator, Kyon, and gives him a girl who just wants to have fun. In a Tsundere-ish way. A mild subversion though, in that poor Kyon doesn't really want to pursue a relationship with Haruhi. She drags him along though, because he's nearly the first person who isn't put off by her attitude.
    • Haruhi is arguably more of a deconstruction -- despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that she possesses the stereotypical Manic Pixie Dream Girl traits, she's also a borderline sociopath, and has the ability to erase the universe.
  • Haruhara Haruko from FLCL seems like one of these for Naota, but has more duplicitous reasons for her wackiness.
  • Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei parodies this with Fuura Kafuka, the ridiculously upbeat Cloudcuckoolander, and Nozomu Itoshiki, a man who is always in despair. However, the show is adamant about not giving anyone any Character Development whatsoever... And even if they did, Kafuka's methods wouldn't develop anybody's character, save possibly making them clinically insane... or dead.
  • Chrono Crusade: depressed demon is discovered by an absurdly stubborn Genki Girl just after getting trough the Mayfly-December Romance from Hell. However, it's Rosette's life that goes completely pear-shaped upon the chance meeting.
  • Deconstructed in Welcome to The NHK with Misaki, who gloms onto the main characters because she needs to have the company of people she considers even more pathetic than herself.
  • In Hanamori Pink's short manga Get Nude, sloppy delinquent Subaru is the Manic Pixie Dream Boy to strait-laced Student Council President Misao.
  • In Hana Yori Dango, Shigeru Ookawahara tried to be this to Domyouji, her arranged fiancé. However, after he flat out tells her that he isn't in love with her and never will be, she becomes devoted to keeping Tsukushi and Domyouji together.
  • Shuichi Shindou from Gravitation is Manic Pixie Dream Boy to Eiri Yuki. While he's actually the main character, his life revolves around drawing Yuki out of his shell to such an extent that everything else, even his singing career, takes a backseat to their relationship.
  • Ai from Ai-Ren has been especially brought back to life to accompany the male protagonist during his last days. Her looks and personality follow the rules of this trope to a T, but alas for the boy she is of the variety that dies before he does.
  • My Lovely Ghost Kana Kana is much more Genki Girl on the surface, but she and Daikichi play this role for each other. In the end they both manage to bring each other around to the idea that life is worth living. Kana consciously plays the trope towards Inagawa up to a point.
  • Video Girl Ai fits this trope. She was supposed to be more angelic, but was run in a defective VCR.
  • Holo from Spice and Wolf could be considered a Manic Pixie Dream Wolf Girl. She's a more subdued example, but she does have a childish side.
  • Several of these show up in ef. But, this being ef, they varyingly turn out to be a Deconstruction, Subversion, and brutal subversion.
  • Flesh of Shikabane Hime is one of these; it's implied that her contracted monk likes 'em that way.
  • Hikari from Amanchu is an interesting variation, since she is the protagonist and fulfills this role toward another girl.
  • And then there's a full-blown yuri version in ICE, where Yuki embodies this trope with regard to the quiet and troubled Hitomi.
  • Mihoshi Akeno in Sora no Manimani, who has a touch of Unlucky Childhood Friend running through her in addition to being a hyperactive girl who wants to get broody book-reading protagonist Saku out into the world of the Astronomy Club.
  • Misha from Pita-Ten is this toward Kotarou. In the anime she's just doing it because she believes it's what an angel should do, in the manga it's originally because Kotarou is the reincarnation of his granduncle Kotaroh, the boy she loved who commited suicide.
  • Takigawa Magister from Onani Master Kurosawa is the first to get the eponymous onanist out of his shell.
  • Kuranosuke from Kuragehime is a rare male example of this trope.
  • Senna from the first Bleach movie, averted in that Ichigo's more of a scowling pseudo-delinquent than a brooding sulker, the romance aspect being more subtle, and Senna herself acting less of an airhead and more along the lines of a carefree fun-lover.
  • Yankee-kun to Megane-chan subverts this. The girl forces him to help under the pretext of being the class president, making the life of the Delinquent loner hell with her hare-brained attitude and well-meaning schemes. She's only bugging him because she used to be a delinquent herself and can't relate to anyone else.
  • Nodame Cantabile:
  • In keeping with Ouran High School Host Club's theme of gender reversal, Tamaki Suoh is a male MPDG, encouraging the shy and self-reliant Haruhi to come out of her shell, and the bookish Kyouya to loosen up a bit.
  • Revy from Black Lagoon would arguably qualify, insofar she is strange and outlandish and does bring Straight Man Okajima Rokuro into a new and exciting world and is his primary Love Interest... The comparisons start falling a bit together afterwards, considering she is in fact a ruthless modern pirate whose 'wacky antics' include kidnapping poor "Rock" for ransom and trying to shoot him once she realizes she has no idea from who she's going to ransom him.
  • Kamina from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is a male PARAGON OF MASCULINITY version of this for the shy, Shrinking Violet main character Simon. He's zany, wacky, ballsy, Crazy Awesome, and drags Simon kicking and screaming towards the Call to Adventure, setting the series into motion. Sadly, he dies when his narrative purpose is fulfilled.
  • Ashita Dorobou has an interesting variant of this trope. Might be a deconstruction of sorts. Straight-laced protagonist Kyouichi Miyasako, 30 years old, broke up with his quirky, free-spirited girlfriend Ashita Tendou way back in college, and has been haunted by regret ever since. Suddenly, with a UFO hanging in the sky over Tokyo, she returns to him, wearing the same maid costume she was wearing when he dumped her, and she hasn't aged a day. He tentatively accepts her back into his life, even though something feels off about the whole situation.
  • Menma from Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day becomes this for Jinta, former leader of a group of childhood friends that have drifted apart due to the loss of one of their friends. Subverts the usual Second Love part as Menma is the friend that died.
  • Paprika's job in Paprika is being a Manic Pixie Dream Girl for men: a spritely therapist who joins them in their dreams and takes them on surrealist adventures. In her daily life, she sees herself only as a dull, proper scientist and ignores the spontaneous part of herself too much.
  • Gunnm protagonist Alita/Gally went trough a period of almost obsessive MPDG behavior when she fell madly in love with a boy named Yugo, during wich she was even willing to die for him. Unfortunately, it is Yugo who died at the exact moment Alita dragged him out of his shell.
  • Bulma from Dragon Ball is this to both Yamcha and Vegeta, also being a huge influence in both characters' Heel Face Turns.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Viciously deconstructed in the graphic novel Demo: A stressed-out businessman meets one of these girls. She encourages him to unwind and enjoy himself, as they meet over meals and he occasionally lends her money. Then one day he gets suspicious, breaks into her apartment... and finds an array of recording equipment. The reason she can say what he needs to hear is because she spies on him.
  • Harley Quinn/Harleen Quinzel of Batman mistakenly believes herself to be this to The Joker. Actually, she did mellow him out a bit, to the point where he didn't kill his own henchmen so often. Aww.
    • In Batman Confidential "Lovers and Madmen", Harley does play this role for Jack Napier. Jack was in a rut and utterly bored with his life of crime. Harley—unaware that his "job" was career criminal—told him that it sounded like he had a gift and that he ought to embrace it. Jack takes her advice and goes to his next job which leads to his fateful encounter with Batman that turns him into The Joker. Harley doesn't quite fit the mold since she has her own issues too: she's working nightshifts as a waitress at a bar to pay her college tuition and jokingly tells Jack that if he really wanted to thank her for the advice he can give her enough money to pay her way through college. After he becomes The Joker he does just that. Harley also admits to her boss that she thought Jack was cute. Cute girl attracted to the brooding guy who gives him advice that transforms him overnight? Harley's definitely an MPDG here.
  • In Death: The High Cost of Living, Death's incarnation on Earth fills this role towards the viewpoint character, mostly by means of inexhaustible good cheer rather than engaging in wacky antics. There's no hint of a romantic attraction from either side either, and the viewpoint character realistically finds her kind of annoying.
  • Averted in The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, whose title character accidentally summons a fairy to help him with his... career. The fairy turns out to be highly practical, quite knowledgeable, and does not take crap from him or anyone.
  • Played surprisingly straight in Charles Burns's Body Horror opus Black Hole. Trippy artist Eliza is adorable and sweet from head to tail.
  • Black Cat in Spider-Man inverts this since Spider-Man pushes her away, realizing the 'destructive' influence she was having on him.
  • David Lapham's Young Liars is an entire series about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl Sadie and her effect on protagonist Danny's life. Although it's a bit of a subversion as she is legitimately dangerous (she has absolutely no impulse control, and so has a tendency to get into fights—this is besides the Pinkerton detectives hired to hunt her down), and that the reason why she's a MPDG is that Danny shot her in the head and the bullet is destroying the moral and judgment centers of her brain, which will kill her eventually
  • Ramona of Scott Pilgrim can count as a deconstruction, see below in the film entry.
  • Subverted in Elf Quest. Aroree is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl to Skywise, although he barely needs one, but mostly to her tribe, which otherwise consists of very serious ancient elves. She gets broken and develops into a very mature, sad figure, sticking around in the main plot for the rest of the series.
  • The Mist in Starman thinks she's this to Jack, even comparing herself to the Kathrine Hepburn character in Bringing Up Baby. Jack pointed out that, unlike the Mist, Hepburn did not kill anybody.
  • Some depictions of Doctor Strange's apprentice and lover, Clea, show her playing little pranks on him whenever she thinks he looks too grim and needs to smile.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Coined by Nathan Rabin of The Onion AV Club in his review of the film Elizabethtown, which features Kirsten Dunst playing such a character, and further expanded on in their list of famous Manic Pixie Dream Girls. Rabin defines a Manic Pixie Dream Girl as a character who "exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures". When Kirsten Dunst was asked about the term directly, she didn't like it.
  • Sarah Jessica Parker's character SanDeE from L.A. Story (1991) starring and written by Steve Martin. Although SanDeE is a bit more nuanced take on the character. She is a classic Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but the movie portrays a relationship with her as shallow and self-indulgent for Martin's character. He is better paired with the quirky British woman.
  • Natalie Portman's character in Garden State. A fantastic representation of this trope. The main character is a guy on anti-depressant and mood stabilizers, she's a bubble of quirk who floated into his life, who randomly shakes about like a kid at one point "doing something that's completely unique, that's never been done before" and advises him to laugh all the time. By the end, he's screaming into abysses and doing dramatic runs through airports in the name of love.
  • Absolutely played straight by Barbra Streisand in 1972's What's Up, Doc? and no.9 on Rubin's AV Club list (see above).
  • Elise in The Adjustment Bureau is made of this.
  • Although all of the Band-Aids are trying for this, Penny Lane is clearly the Manic Pixie Dream Girl of Almost Famous. Though she avoids the stereotypical MPDG ending (dead or with the guy) - she almost dies of an overdose, only to be saved by William, then breaks it off with Russell to go live her own MPDG life in Morocco without either love interest. But, of course, in doing all this she shows Russell the error of his ways so that he can make things right with William, helping both of them toward stardom. This is arguably a deconstruction, as Penny has her own inner life and emotional arc despite hitting many MPDG notes.
  • Amy Adams plays a lot of these:
    • Amelia Earhart in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.
    • Giselle from Enchanted, who has the excuse of being a fairy tale character. For his part, Robert helps her find some firmer ground.
    • Delysia Lafosse to uptight British governess Miss Pettigrew in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, although there's a bit of sharing going on and Delysia actually matures because of Miss Pettigrew as well.
  • Katharine Hepburn as a scatter-brained heiress who loosens up Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby. As this was the first movie Screwball Comedy, Hepburn may be the Trope Maker here. Although she doesn't insinuate herself into his life so much as yank him bodily into hers.
  • Carole Lombard as the screwy socialite in My Man Godfrey is an even earlier example.
  • Another Hepburn, Audrey, as Holly Golightly in the movie (but not the book) of Breakfast at Tiffany's.
  • The septuagenarian[1] Maude in Harold and Maude, who teaches young Harold to get over himself and his obsession with death. Without telling her lover, she opts for self-administered euthanasia.
  • Deconstructed in Woody Allen's 1977 film Annie Hall. The title character is a cheerful Bohemian, who turns out to be a spoiled, unfocused, pseudointellectual, neurotic child in an adult's body, a horribly broken person. Which gives her something in common with Woody Allen's character, who is likewise horribly broken, just in somewhat different ways. At the end of the movie, it turns out that Alvy was something of a Manic Pixie Dream Guy for Annie, in terms of teaching her how to have more confidence in her abilities and helping her to improve her own life, while most of his problems remain unsolved.
  • Killing Zoe features a Manic Pixie Dream Girl caught in the middle of a bank heist. She eventually gets a machine gun. Death ensues.
  • Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is this type of character, though the relationship plays out more realistically. She even references the "you complete me" line, to her distaste, from Jerry Maguire. She also Lampshades this to a certain degree, saying that Joel shouldn't expect her to "save" him, and that she's "just a fucked-up girl looking for her own peace of mind."
    • Joel sums up her MPDG-ness and the film's deconstruction of it during his tape recording for Lacuna:

"I think if there's a truly seductive quality about Clementine, it's that her personality promises to take you out of the mundane. It's like, you secure yourself with this amazing, burning meteorite to carry you to another world, a world where things are exciting. But, what you quickly learn is that it's really an elaborate ruse."

  • Subverted with Enid from the movie version of Ghost World: told from the perspective of a sarcastic teen girl as she teaches Seymour, a shy, obsessive older man how to take chances and enjoy living; of course this destroys his life. Enid leaves to build her own life somewhere else. Seymour ends up in therapy.
  • Jordan in Real Genius lives somewhere between here and Cloudcuckooland. Although she's not the primary motivator for Mitch's lightening up, she does become his Love Interest.
  • Ana from Stranger Than Fiction. She isn't what convinces the protagonist to start living life again, but rather the knowledge that he's a fictional character due to be Killed Off for Real, but she's certainly the one that shows him how.
  • Stella from Gideon's Daughter is a middle-aged Manic Pixie Dream Girl for the film's brooding middle-aged hero. Though Stella has her own issues and isn't a chirpy twentysomething, she basically exists so Gideon can enjoy life again.
  • My Sassy Girl:
    • The trailer shows Elisha Cuthbert playing a version of this. However, instead of simply being "quirky," she is portrayed as being Ax Crazy, in that she may very well kill the protagonist for a lark.
    • In the original Korean movie, Cuthbert-equivalent's character's "quirky antics" tend to have harmful consequences, but the protagonist falls for her anyway and she does indeed teach him to live and love. However, she definitely has issues and motivations unrelated to her man, and it turns out that she's been using him as a substitute for her dead fiancé, who was the protagonist's cousin. Things end up working out, though.
  • Gwen Phillips in House Sitter, a con artist and a pathological liar, plays this role for Newton Davis, played by Steve Martin. He's almost as crazy as she is. They're kind of Manic Pixie Dream people to each other.
  • An early example is in 1968's I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (included in the A.V. Club list). Straitlaced Harold Fine, already feeling dissatisfied with life, encounters Nancy, the friend of his hippie little brother, and lets her spend the night at his apartment. As thanks, she makes him pot brownies, though he doesn't realize what they are until he's consumed them. Loosened up, he goes to thank her and they ultimately become lovers. Harold becomes a Runaway Groom to both be with Nancy and fully embrace the hippie lifestyle. But after the initial bliss, the existence and his relationship with her proves as unfulfilling and superficial as his old life was. In the end he chooses to Take a Third Option and find his own path to happiness alone.
  • Fight Club:
    • A truly disturbing example in the form of Marla Singer, who could perhaps best be described as what happens when the Manic Pixie Dream Girl grows up. Marla is dirty, living in poverty, and clearly suffering some form of mental illness, and gets into a fairly unhealthy relationship with Tyler. The narrator is dissatisfied with social norms and consumerist trends, but lacks the will to break out of the mold on his own, leading to his association with Tyler. Marla actually infuriates the narrator because she simply doesn't care about anything. She even calls him out on all his selfish justifications for his behavior being no worse or different than her own.
    • In a way, the confident, flamboyant Tyler is also a MPDG to the uptight nameless narrator. There's a serious homoerotic subtext between them throughout the movie (less surprising when you realize that the author is gay). The narrator just drifts through life until Tyler shows up, and their relationship changes his life and his outlook forever. And then Tyler dies. Unlike most examples of this trope, however, the narrator kills him.
    • To summarize, Fight Club subverts this trope anyway by having the MPDG and the brooding hero as simply two personalities of the same character. The narrator simultaneously opens up his own world and saves himself. Meta.
  • Little Bo Peep is this in Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme, a Disney Channel movie from the early 90s. Driving backwards through the patchwork landscape, she teaches the Only Sane Man in Mother Goose Land, Mother Goose's son Gordon Gander, to relax and enjoy life. He's so dull because he's literally incomplete. Mother Goose couldn't find a rhyme for Gordon.
  • Allison from the Jim Carrey film Yes Man also fits this trope, though unusually, her love interest Carl (Carrey) also contains elements of the character type, having been dared to "live live to the full" by saying "yes" to everything.
  • Zooey Deschanel, who plays Allison, is often identified with this character type in general, although many of her other roles actually play with the trope rather than serve it up straight. Her title character in Five Hundred Days of Summer, for instance, is actually a subversion (Summer herself doesn't want a steady relationship, and even pulls out hints of What Is This Thing You Call Love?, and at the end, she falls in love with and gets married to someone else.) Her character in Elf, meanwhile, is the jaded, closed-off girlfriend of Will Ferrell's titular Manic Pixie Dream Guy.
  • Chungking Express, the beloved film from beloved Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai, features Faye the "California Dreamin'"-obsessed snack bar girl: to help a police officer get over his breakup with a flight attendant, she frequently breaks into (and floods) his apartment, switches the labels on all his canned foods, and rearranges his furniture. Eventually, he falls for her, but she stands him up and decides to "see the world" by becoming -- yes -- a flight attendant. But don't worry: everything works out okay.
  • The main character in May doesn't remotely fit this stereotype but the art school Bohemian type who meets her seems to identify her as one. They shelve the movie in the Horror section, so you can gather things don't go well.
  • Played with in Happy-Go-Lucky. The main character, Poppy, is a free-spirited extreme optimist who starts taking driving lessons from an uptight, closed-off pessimist who develops a crush on her. Subverted in that she doesn't return the feelings, and stops the driving lessons so they won't see each other again after he lampshades this trope with a rant about how selfish it is - even if she ultimately doesn't fit the trope, no one could convince him differently.
  • The first half of Something Wild seems to be all about this trope when free-spirited Lulu sweeps into the life of Charles Driggs and "kidnaps" him for a weekend of unplanned adventure. However, the movie undergoes a wild Mood Whiplash when Lulu (whose real name is Audrey Hankel) and Charles encounter her very violent ex-con ex-husband; by the end, Audrey/Lulu is as much changed by her time with Charles as Charles himself.
  • Sam Rockwell plays the buddy-movie equivalent in Box Of Moonlight. He wears a Davy Crockett costume and teaches John Turturro to love life; while there's no romance, there's certainly a lot of naked swimming.
  • Another male variant is Sam in Benny and Joon, and he affects two characters. Joon is a mentally-ill woman who falls for him as it comes to light that they understand each other in a way other people don't. Her brother Benny, who's taken care of her all these years, is the uptight character wary of her getting involved with someone else, and has to accept that he's not only being overprotective but also neglecting his personal happiness by worrying so much.
  • Tom Hanks's character in Big, who is literally a child in an adult's body, is another male variant.
  • The eponymous character of The Girl Next Door gets our hero, Matthew Kidman, off of his overachieving ass to loosen up and have some fun for once in his life.
  • Fucking Åmål plays with this a bit. It actually has a lesbian Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but in the end it's her love interest who helps her break out of society's mold.
    • Hang on, who is meant to be the MPDG here? The film follows both characters and depicts their respective lives. In the first half of the film, most of the scenes are not shared by the two girls and are rather about their independent family and social lives. While by the end of the film they have grown and changed because of each other and helped each other overcome their inhibitions and fears, that's not the definition of MPDG, just of a positive relationship.
  • On the topic of lesbians, Chasing Amy seems like a good example. Except it turned out that she wasn't so lesbian after all, which just goes to show how the Manic Pixie Dream Girl exists as a prop for the main character. YMMV though, since she and Holden eventually ends up going their separate ways. Her character is also more fleshed out than the typical MPDG.
  • Gender-reversed in the Bollywood movie Kal Ho Naa Ho: Naina is an overstressed MBA student who doesn't believe in the power of love. Then wacky romantic Aman comes to her neighborhood and teaches her to enjoy life.
  • The whole point of the movie I Love You, Man. Where Peter Klaven's repressed real estate agent is taught how to live life by the maniac pixie dream guy Sydney Fife.
  • Very darkly subverted in Martin Scorsese's black comedy After Hours. The girl the hero meets at the start turns out to be seriously disturbed and kills herself halfway through the movie.
  • Catherine in Jules and Jim. Subverted, considering that as compelling as she is, Catherine's joie-de-vivre seems to come out of self-centered sociopathy. The questionable aspects of her behavior escalate until she kills herself and Jim by driving them off a bridge in her car, arguably out of sheer whimsy.
  • Annie Savoy in Bull Durham is sort of consciously a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She really loves the Durham Bulls, and she knows so much about both baseball and the finer things in life that when she dates a player (she picks one per season) he has the best year of his career. She has a lot of fun with a bunch of strapping young men, helps the team improve at the same time, and makes no apologies for it.
  • The French art film Betty Blue's title character is a deconstructed one for a novelist named Zorg (not that one).
  • Subverted in I Love You, Beth Cooper. Although Beth Cooper character does have a lot of these qualities, she's actually very insecure and the protagonist ends up changing her outlook on life simply by showing her that she has a lot more potential than she's giving herself credit for
  • Ellie in Up. Interesting in that she only shows up in the prologue as Carl's beloved (deceased) wife. She is a catalyst for the movie's action, as Carl takes off for Paradise Falls in order to posthumously fulfill his promise to her.
  • Watching The Detectives is basically about what happens when Manic Pixie Dream People get together. The main character Neil is a Manic Pixie Dream Guy who aggravates everyone with his strange antics and quirks, but then Violet comes along and out-Manic-Pixies him by taking the reckless and unusual behaviour to quite troubling extremes.
  • Juno was unintentionally this for Mark Loring, much to her dismay. Sort of reversed though with Paulie Bleeker- she may be the quirkier of the two but he was the one who opened her cynical heart.
  • Molly in Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. Though there is no romance implied, she helps the new accountant Henry learn not to take himself too seriously, with the assistance of frequent customer, Eric.
  • Joan in Playing By Heart is one, but her relationship with Keenan plays out a bit more balanced than is usual for the trope. She certainly teaches him to embrace love and life again, but he's also more mature than her usual boyfriends, giving her some much-needed stability.
  • The 2009 ultra-low-budget independent film New Low is another subversion - Vicky is a bigger Jerkass than the loser Author Avatar protagonist Wendell, while Joanna would be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl were Wendell not a complete idiot as well.
  • The film Waitress has a Spear Counterpart, Nathan Fillion plays Keri Russell's ridiculously convenient and personality-lite bit-on-the-side, otherwise fulfilling all the typical criteria of the MPDG. Interestingly enough, the main character fulfills this trope in the lives of just about everyone around her, if you were to write a film centering on Nathan Fillion's character, or Adrienne Sheely's character, or Jeremy Sisto's character, it's exactly the role she would play (though in the last case it would be very bluntly subverted).
  • Greer Garson's character in Goodbye, Mr. Chips.
  • Realistically subverted with Cabaret's Sally Bowles, who demonstrates just how messed up this kind of character tends to be in real life.
  • Double-subverted twice in the Barbara Stanwyck comedy The Lady Eve. So Jeanne brightens up the life of stiff, repressed Charles (or "Hopsie") - but the fact is that she's a con woman who wants to take his money. But then, she's also in love with him, and is willing to go straight for his sake. Then when he finds out and rejects her, she takes on the persona of the Lady Eve, and pulls the MPDG on him again.
  • Deconstructed to a heartbreaking extent in the 1969 film The Sterile Cuckoo, one of Liza Minelli's early films. Pookie fulfills all of the requirements of a MPDG, including breaking the lead character out of his shell. But towards the end of the film is revealed she is much more damaged and vulnerable than anyone has expected. She completely breaks out of the traditional mold at the ending, where she and her boyfriend break up, and she is literally Put on a Bus.
  • Geet in the 2007 Bollywood film Jab We Met—childlike and wacky to the point where the male lead, a weary businessman, says she "needs a psychiatrist," until she brings him out of his shell. And then, some plot later, he becomes a Manic Pixie Dream Guy for her.
  • Ramona from the film adaptation of Scott Pilgrim, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, by way of squeezing the film into two hours (and removing quite a bit of characterisation present during the lulls of the comic). Scott still has to do a bit more work to keep her around than in most examples, though.
  • Pretty much every movie role by Goldie Hawn before Private Benjamin. And that was basically a "Manic Pixie Dream Girl has to grow up" movie. Start with Cactus Flower (for which she won an Oscar, no less) and move forward from there.
  • The character of Sara, in both versions of Sweet November, can only be described as a Manic Pixie Ill Girl.
  • In The House of Yes, the main character is a part of a wealthy Big Screwed-Up Family and has a few issues of his own to work out. He does this by dating a ditzy, middle class girl with a cheerful demeanor.
  • Classic example: Maria in The Sound of Music. She's often overlooked as an example of the trope, because she's really trying her best to be a mature, motherly type (in addition to being a nun).
  • Played with in interesting ways in Shadowlands. While Joy Gresham takes on the narrative role of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (drawing a scholarly, reserved CS Lewis out of his shell, getting him to enjoy life ... and then she dies), her actual personality is more that of a Tsundere—to the intense displeasure of Lewis's friends.
  • Jack from Titanic is a rare case of a male spin of this trope. Rose was feeling cold and alone in high society, when Jack comes along and teaches her to be free-spirited and live life.
  • Vincent in Collateral is a rare and particularly dysfunctional male example. His relationship with Max certainly isn't sexual, but it is transformative. Max is stuck in a rut, and his one wild night with Vincent loosens him up and gives him the confidence he needs to change his life forever. Then, of course, Vincent dies.
  • A literal example would be Aisling in The Secret of Kells who actually is a pixie or fairy of some sort, and whose antics show protagonist Brenden what life is like outside the walls of his monastery. Subverted in that it's left for the viewer to decide if they're actually in love, or just a couple of kids having fun.
  • Solo from Goodbye Solo is a male variant. William reacts fairly realistically, he punches him in the face though it doesn't accomplish much.
  • In The Return of Hanuman, Hanuman reincarnates himself into a boy named Maruti. Later he helps Minku, a poor boy who is frequently bullied by most of his classmates. It makes sense why he acts so bubbly: he's only three months old. By the end of the film, Maruti (already transformed into Hanuman) told Minku to be strong before left the village.
  • Mila Kunis' character in Moving McAllister is an unabashed example of this trope, described by her uncle as very beautiful and "wild" she is bent upon turning the boring lawyer she just met into someone who loves life.
  • Jennifer Aniston seems to play a lot of these roles.
    • In Office Space she plays a quirky waitress who acts as part of Peter's inspiration to ( rebel against the corporate office system and embezzle money)
    • In Along Came Polly, Aniston plays Polly Prince, a free-spirited bohemian who teaches Reuben Feffer (Ben Stiller) to ( be unafraid and live life to the fullest)
    • She plays a quirky flower-shop owner in Love Happens teaching Aaron Eckhart ( how to love again and heal after his wife's death)
  • Youth in Revolt features Sheeni Saunders who helps Nick Twisp (Micheal Cera) be free-spirited and ( arguably, leads him into a psychosis)
  • Amelie: Titular character Amelie has the quirk. However, she's the protagonist of the film, who has trouble with her own introversion and love life instead of being a stock character who exists solely to help the male protagonist with his.
  • Audrey Tautou played a similar character in one of her next films, He Loves Me... He Loves Me Not, but it's actually a massive subversion/deconstruction of the trope, as the character is an insane Yandere.
  • Although she's more grounded and less 'out there' than the usual bizarre Dream Girls, Liv Tyler's character in Lonesome Jim is a warm and life-embracing character whose only purpose in the movie is to teach the self-absorbed, miserable main character to cheer up despite us wondering what the heck a woman like that would see in him.
  • Larry Crowne: Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) personifies this trope to the point where Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts) even refers to her as a pixie. The only area where she breaks the stereotype is that she has no romantic interest in Larry (Tom Hanks) and her efforts are aimed at getting him together with Mercedes.
  • Platonic male example- swashbuckling and alcoholic movie star Alan Swann (Peter O'Toole) in My Favorite Year.
  • Pretty much the plot of Grumpy Old Men.
  • Annabel to Enoch in Restless. A bittersweet pixie, since she is dying from cancer.
  • Another gender-flipped example, Rhodes is this to Annie in Bridesmaids. His main function in the plot is to make kooky observations about vegetables and encourage Annie to follow her dreams.
  • Heavenly Creatures is a darkly subverted lesbian version - wild, eccentric Juliet inspires shy Pauline not to embrace life, but to murder her mother.
  • Cissy in Shame, played by Carey Mulligan, is another dark/subverted example. Bonus subversion: she's the lead character's sister rather than a romantic interest.
  • In The Names of Love, straight-laced Arthur is yanked out of his boring life by the younger, free-spirited, free-loving Baya, who's so manic she occasionally forgets to put clothes on when going out of her flat.
  • Lori Petty's character in Point Break plays this exact archetype, and even looks like a pixie.
  • It could be argued that this is the role Julia Roberts as Vivianne played for Richard Gere's Edward in Pretty Woman.
  • James, the Monty Python-quoting Nice Guy played by John Hannah, in Sliding Doors is another male example.
  • Winona Ryder's character Charlotte in Autumn In New York is a beautiful artist who suffers from a rare heart disease, and teaches a self-centered, skirt-chasing Richard Gere about life and love. Need we say more?
  • Muriel Pritchett (Geena Davis) in The Accidental Tourist plays a quirky dog trainer who helps both the dog and his owner, Macon Leary (William Hurt), a repressed and grieving travel writer who is mourning the death of his son and his marriage. Upon meeting Muriel, Macon's life changes in ways he comes to view as healing.
  • Two gender-flipped examples play this straight in the Mo'Nique led film "Phat Girlz." Dr. Tunde and Dr. Akibo are two Nigerian men that teach the plus-sized leads to embrace their bodies and sensuality. Even to start loving themselves and changing their outlook.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Daisy in Henry James' story Daisy Miller is the 1800s European aristocracy's version of the girlfriend from Planet Bizarro. And then she dies.
  • Fenchurch in the later The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books, although really she's probably the only woman on Earth weird enough to fall in love with Arthur Dent. And then she vanishes into an error in space-time.
  • Colleen Minou in Ron Koertge's Stoner and Spaz. However, while Colleen helps Ben, Ben is unable to help Colleen and she ends up back on drugs.
  • The title character of the Jerry Spinelli book Stargirl worked her magic on an entire high school. That also makes her a Blithe Spirit. Stargirl was interesting because her manic pixie behavior didn't make the main character more popular or comfortable around other people, and clashed with his desire for normalcy. Things didn't work out.
  • Laura from American Gods reads like a deconstruction of this. Her husband, the protagonist Shadow, thought of her as someone playful and spontaneous who brought excitement into his life. On the other hand, she was the one who convinced him to participate in the robbery that got him sent to jail for three years and cheated on him with his best friend while he was in prison. She tried to justify her affair on the grounds that, even if she did really love Shadow, there were times that he is just so empty that she needed somebody else. She plays a further deconstruction when after becoming a zombie, she helps Shadow by pretending to be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl having a Meet Cute with one of the mooks. He is shown thinking about how her spontanaity has given him a new outlook on life, and is brutally murdered by her shortly afterward.
  • Sage from Almost Perfect can be considered this from the moment she's introduced until she tells Logan she's Transsexual.
  • The Culture novel The Player of Games has a character, Yay, who is a love interest of the protagonist and has a markedly playful personality. There's something of a subversion, in that her Manic Pixie Dream Girl personality makes her a better fit for the hedonism of The Culture than does the protagonist's discomfort with a life without challenges.
  • While we're on the topic of John Green novels, Looking for Alaska plays this straight up. In fact, John Green loves to write about Manic Pixie Dream Girls in his novels.
    • The Fault in Our Stars also plays this trope straight with Augustus Waters as a gender-inverted example, not only drawing Hazel Grace out of her slump but helping her realize her dreams before the end.
    • However, it's deconstructed in Paper Towns, when Quentin realizes Margo, his 'miracle', is really just an ordinary girl.
  • Libba Bray's Going Bovine has Dulcie, who is a literal Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She's a hallucination who falls in love with the hero, dragging him through America on a quest to find meaning in his life before he dies of mad cow disease (hence the title). She smashes snowglobes to free their occupants and has a sugar addiction.
  • Despite the fact that she is equal parts an antagonist as interest, Irene Adler of the Sherlock Holmes mythos has shade of this: a liberated, Bohemian actress with "the face of the most beautiful of women, and the mind of the most resolute of men," was the only woman to ever throw a chink in Holmes' emotionless armor.
  • The eponymous of Kiki Strike, but replace "soulful, brooding male hero" with "broodingly ordinary schoolgirl", and take out the romance component. She's actually the Manic Pixie Dream Girl for six different girls (Girls Need Role Models is sort of a thing for this series), but Ananka fits the trope best.
  • In Philip K. Dick's short story The World She Wanted, the protagonist is swept along in the wake of a of a young and beautiful woman who introduces herself by announcing that the two of them are getting married. Subverted, in that she annoys the hell out of him and he rejects her.
  • Bella Baxter in Alasdair Grey's Poor Things, whose carefree childlike manner mesmerizes a number of men. It's a disturbing example, because she literally has the brain of a child implanted into the body of a woman. Or maybe not.
  • Vianne Rocher from the novel Chocolat is this for an entire town. Zozie de l'Alba from the sequel The Lollipop Shoes, acts as one for Vianne and her daughters - quirky, attractive, bohemian, she blows into the chocolate shop and shakes up their lives, bringing magic back to their craft. Of course, she's also an identity-stealing witch who is more or less Paranoia Fuel incarnate.
  • Arguably Suzumiya Haruhi in the light novels. Throughout the series, so far, Haruhi progressed from Chaotic Neutral (blackmailing the Computer Club President in the very first novel) to Chaotic Good (rushing over to Yuki's place in Beta storyline in the 9th novel), all the while irritating Kyon, who has to fix up the mess she inadvertently created (the Cave Cricket incident) or jumpstart the events (Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody). You know what, sometimes, he doesn't clean up Haruhi's mess. He cleans up Yuki's mess and on December 18 of his first year in North High, there are 4 Kyons, 3 Mikurus and 2 Yukis, most of whom are at the front gate fixing up the snafu Yuki made. As for "soulful, brooding male hero", Kyon's more of The Snark Knight. He doesn't really have much of a choice, because not helping the 3 factions keep Haruhi in control could lead to the end of the world/universe.
  • Arthur Bechstein, in Michael Chabon's The Mysteries of Pittsburgh has two Manic Pixie Dream Individuals: a girl named Phlox and a guy named Arthur Lecomte. The two of them are constantly at odds with each other, something not helped by Art being head over heels for the both of them.
  • In Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Rosa Sax is described like this in promotional materials and is introduced in a similar manner, but otherwise doesn't act the MPDG at all.
  • According to one interpretation, Miranda from Hilaire Belloc's poem "Tarantella" can be an example of this: a wild woman who falls for the protagonist and gives meaning to his life; so much, in fact, that later when she's gone, his life is devoid of meaning, and he probably commits suicide.
  • Sebastian Flyte in Brideshead Revisited is a male version.
  • Clarisse in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 fills this role for a short time for Guy Montag. She basically tells him so, saying "I'm seventeen and I'm crazy," and then she asks him all the questions and tells him all the random thoughts necessary to make him rethink everything about his life. And then she gets run over by a car, pointlessly.
  • Fay in Flowers for Algernon.
  • Anne of Green Gables:
    • Anne has this effect on people, but not on everyone she meets, and in fact she undergoes great Character Development over her first book as she learns to become a more grounded, mature, selfless individual.
    • Furthermore, the Story Girl from The Story Girl counts, being the emotional core of her little group of friends, and constantly telling enchanting stories.
  • Leslie from Bridge to Terabithia, full stop, though she's a little too young for a romantic relationship with Jesse.
  • Alice Somerfield of A.M. Holmes' The End of Alice is an example that might be controversial. For a twelve year old, she is wildly, uncomfortably sexually precocious (most likely not her fault), has an extensive and pretentious vocabulary and a manner of speech that is self-confessed as "affected," is sarcastic and beyond her years, has a knowledge of many varied and random subjects, claims to paint watercolor images on intimate places and watch them wash away in her baths, and copies famous poems onto the soles of her shoes.
  • The novel Steppenwolf has Hermine, who not only gets the protagonist to enjoy life more, but actually saves him from killing himself.
  • Chamika from Peacebreakers, depending on how far you're willing to stretch the definition of 'petty' crime.
  • Dickon from The Secret Garden is a rare male example.
  • The page quote is from the section of Isaac Asimov's The Caves of Steel describing how stoic protagonist Elijah "Lije" Baley met his wife Jesse (short for "Jezebel"). Despite Jesse's speech, the two have drifted apart by the time of the story, mostly because of Lije unwittingly demolishing his wife's self-image by trying to explain how the biblical Jezebel was a good person instead of The Vamp. The Spacer woman Gladia Delmarre from the sequel also shows some elements of this trope, in how she tries to show the agoraphobic Baley how to be Closer to Earth.
  • Midori from Haruki Murakami's novel Norwegian Wood fits this role quite well. The first time she and Toru kiss, they are sitting on her roof, watching a neighborhood fire. Constantly hyper-energetic and quirky, she has no hesitation in revealing her constant sexual fantasies to Toru, who is much more distant and reserved with his inner thoughts.
  • The H.P. Lovecraft character Lavinia Whateley fits the trope pretty well. She's a quirky girl who loves thunderstorms, playing outside barefoot in the woods and reading about the occult. She gets into a relationship with a guy who really needs to get out more, and yup, she dies, too.
  • Stefanie in The Word and The Void is an interesting Deconstruction. Yes, she believes life should be lived to its fullest. Yes, she's in love with John Ross, for real. However, she's also a demon, and her idea of teaching him to be interesting is teaching him to forget about morality and live for his own power, including, but not limited to, eating homeless people.
  • Maggie Dempsey in How NOT to Be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler ends up like this, much to her annoyance. Her goal of coming of as weird and strange so that nobody would like her (and she wouldn't form attachments when she moved) had Gone Horribly Right.
  • Marion Kirby in Topper and Topper Takes a Trip by Thorne Smith as she drags Cosmo Topper out of his staid bankers existence. But pretty much anything by Thorne Smith will have at least one Manic Pixie Dream Girl strewing chaos in her wake.
  • Feed is a deconstruction of this trope, basically saying what if the hero didn't give up normalcy while being with the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. The girl dies at the end.
  • Deconstructed in High Fidelity: while in college Rob goes out with a girl named Charlie who he perceives to be one of those, and when she dumps him he never really gets over it. Meeting her again, years later, he realizes that she is actually a pretentious, self-important idiot whose "quirkiness" is merely to cover up that she has no personality of her own, and he was just too immature to realize this at the time.
  • La Vita Nuova: Dante Alighieri penned this in the thirteenth century. While Beatrice is already tragically dead by the time Dante is writing to her, as opposed to alive and quirky only to die tragically after imparting valuable lessons through love about how wonderful and evanescent life is, she fits the trope perfectly, and might be the first Western literary example.
  • E.F. Benson - of Mapp And Lucia fame - wrote a trilogy of novels about a turn of the 19th/20th century version of the MPDG. But Dodo is anything but good for the men in her life - or herself - until she grows up a bit and earns her happily ever after.
  • Alaska from "Looking for Alaska" is most definitely this trope. However, in a common twist for modern interpretations Alaska is also deeply troubled by her past, something that fuels her manic pixie dreaming etc.
  • Sam from "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" is a sort of blander interpretation of this trope, probably to balance out the socially awkward recipient of her mania, Charlie. This trope can be found in virtually any coming of age novel written by a man, most blandly manifesting in novels written by 20-30 year olds.
  • Eliza in Someone Elses War. Not for the main character, however, but for his good friend Asher, who really needs it.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Dharma and Greg, a sitcom that pits quirky "nonconformist" Dharma up with strait-laced bore-fest Greg. And once the first five minutes are over, this plot's been used up and they move on to... um...
  • Cassie Ainsworth in Skins is this trope Deconstructed, since she has multiple legitimate psychological problems and they're portrayed with all the seriousness they require. Plus, she doesn't exist solely as a love interest for Sid. She's quite self-serving at times, and it's debatable whether she ultimately changes his life for the better. She makes him blissfully happy at times, and utterly miserable at others. Then again, a relationship with someone so mentally unstable they try to commit suicide when you cancel a date was never going to run entirely smoothly.
    • Recently invoked in season 6 when a lovelorn Alo meets a sweet, bubbly girl named Poppy Champion who pulls him out of his depression with her quirky and adorable ways. That is, until she reveals that she's really thirteen years old, and she reports him to the police when he tries to dump her.
  • Subverted on Dexter. Lila initially seems to have all the personality traits of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and she latches onto Dexter, the main character, a forensic scientist who also happens to be an emotionless serial killer (who only kills people who really deserve it). As the series goes on, though, she starts showing the dark side of mania: her antics go from amusing to dangerous, and she stops being charming and starts being scary.

Dexter: You are more dangerous than my addiction will ever be. And that's saying a lot.

  • Arrested Development:
    • Subverted when Michael meets a quirky British woman whom he believes is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl but is actually mentally disabled. Her accent sounds so intelligent to Michael that he believes she voluntarily acts like a carefree six-year-old.
    • Maeby also serves as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl to George Michael to some extent, though played for laughs as GM is unbelievably straight-laced, and Maeby's actions go well beyond "quirky" and straight into "likely criminal." That and the fact that Maeby is kind of his cousin. Maybe.
  • MASH:
    • Winchester falls for a woman like this. She brings so much life into his existence. They're all set to make a go of it when she lets out that she's not a strong believer in marriage (and that her previous lover, of whom she talks in glowing terms, was never married to her). Winchester loses a chance at love, and not because his family would disapprove—though that's a consideration for him—but because he can't bring himself to accept this aspect of hers.
    • B. J. gets one too. In the end he lets her go because he didn't wanted the war to dictate his life anymore than it already did. Leaving your wife and kid for a woman he met on the frontline? He could never leave the horrors he'd known there behind him.
  • Andy's girlfriend Kat in Weeds was a somewhat more hardcore version of this. She was much crazier than usual—he even told a story about how once she stabbed him because she thought he'd kicked her "spirit animal," although he hadn't figured out what that was. And he admitted that he didn't actually love her, and implied that he was still with her because she made life interesting.
  • Thirty Rock: Parodied by Jennifer Aniston's character in the episode "The One with the Cast of Night Court," where she ensnares powerful men like Jack Donaghy and, um, Scottie Pippen with her antics (designing bizarre hats, breaking into houses while wearing French maid outfits, singing inappropriately sexy renditions of "Happy Birthday to You", and frequently and emphatically "riding the F Train"). Everyone not currently sexing her up finds her completely insufferable. And she's crazy. Like, steal a cop's gun crazy. It's indicated that instead of making them happier, she destroys their lives before moving on.
  • Subverted on True Blood with Amy, who is homicidally crazy.
  • Phoebe in Friends seems to act as this to the rest of the group, as well as in most of her relationships. Notably, the group occasionally finds her actions annoying or intrusive, and in the 10th season, Phoebe admits that she has never been in a relationship which lasted more than a month. Occasionally, being an Manic Pixie Dream Girl seems to actively work against her, such as the first time she was ready to move in with a man, and then broke up with him shortly after when he impulsively shot a bird with his handgun. On another occasion, she ends a relationship because her boyfriend is even more of a Manic Pixie Dream Guy than she is, and she can't stand him.
  • Frasier had one of these in the form of a Girl of the Week, Caitlin the quirky artist, but the trope was subverted by having their relationship not work out because they shared no similarities - just very hot sex.
  • In 21 Jump Street there's an episode featuring a girl named Quincy, who sort of positions herself as this, dragging the straight-laced Hanson around and trying to convince him to "lighten up". Of course, her idea of fun is crime sprees and potentially-fatal thrill-seeking. She terrifies him, and ends up shot to death by security guards while robbing a house.
  • Chuck does fulfill this role for Ned in Pushing Daisies, but she has plenty of her own characterisation.
  • Flo from the Progressive car insurance advertisements is a nicely-done non-romantic version.
  • Subverted in The Sarah Connor Chronicles with Riley, who's actually from the future, having a mental breakdown from culture shock, and is under orders to act as one of these to John, ostensibly in order to reduce Cameron's influence on him, but actually so that Cameron will kill her, accomplishing the same goal more effectively.
  • Carrie on Sex and the City dates a male version for a while. Raymond is a charming, upbeat jazz musician, but Carrie eventually learns that he can't focus on anything for very long (as if he had a form of ADHD) and doesn't have much depth beyond his love of music.
  • Punky Brewster. It took a couple of seasons, but she winds up turning her crotchety adoptive father Henry Warnimont into an old softy.
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor has been a (usually) non-romantic Manic Pixie Dream Man to all his companions. "The Doctor's Wife" revises the TARDIS into a Manic Pixie Dream Girl for the Doctor. Though it would technically be more accurate to say that this was the unusual case where both were Manic Pixie Dream (insert gender here)s for each other.
    • While all of the Doctors have been this to some degree, Matt Smith really takes this trope Up To Eleven.
  • Garcia from Criminal Minds can edge into this trope sometimes. She never plays the romantic angle, though.
  • Arguably Chiana from Farscape. Always happy, always moving, almost always stealing something, and for some reason all over D'Argo. Although frankly she's all over pretty much the entire cast at one point or another. You'll wind up dead from exhaustion, but damned if you wouldn't enjoy trying to keep up with her!
  • Andy acts as a gender reversed MPDG to April in Parks and Recreation.
  • Jessica Day in New Girl, played by Trope Codifier Zooey Deschanel, takes this to the extreme. Slightly inverted in that Jessica's life is a mess, as opposed to the guys she rooms with, but she still qualifies.
  • On Smallville, a certain miss Lois Lane fulfills this function. She arrives at the beginning of Season 4. By the end of Season 3, the characters had all gotten caught up in a Grimdark web of lies created by Lionel Luthor, Chloe's life was full of fear and angst, and our hero Clark had become brooding and ultra-serious......and then Chloe's cousin Lois shows up in town and turns Clark's, Chloe's, and the Kents' lives upside down....for the better. Many critics argued that Lois's introduction brought a much-needed breath of fresh air to the show, as her infectious energy and charisma, BondOneLiners, and hard-partying ways enlivened the show's dynamic. Lois quickly became a fan-favorite (well, except for the Die for Our Ship people) character, and her original 4-episode run on the show was expanded, and she became a regular character the following season.
  • Via loads of Alternate Character Interpretation, and possibly stretching the trope to the breaking point, Sherlock could be seen as a male, protagonist version. He's conspicuously eccentric, attractive in a somewhat unusual way, has offbeat interests, shows little regard for social convention, doesn't always act very mature, and rescues his relatively normal male co-star from boredom and depression by taking him on crime-fighting adventures. Not technically a romantic example, but Ho Yay abounds.
  • In Season 2 of Breaking Bad Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) meets his MPDG in the form of Jane (Krysten Ritter), a tattoo artist with a serious drug history. In one scene, in fact, Jane gives Jesse something that makes him float in the air! Unfortunately for both of them, Walter White knows a MPDG when he sees one.


Music[edit | hide]

  • The Dead Milkmen's song "Punk Rock Girl" plays this trope enthusiastically straight, with a dweeby narrator describing a series of playfully violent encounters with an unnamed female other.

We went to the Phillie Pizza Company
And ordered some hot tea
The waitress said "Well no
We only have it iced oiced"
So we jumped up on the table
And shouted "anarchy"
...
We got into a car
Away we started rollin'
I said "How much you pay for this?"
She said "Nothing man, it's stolen"

  • Tess from the song with the same name by Peter LeMarc is a classic example.
  • The girl described in the song "Her Eyes" by Pat Monahan. In all honesty, it seems like most of the songs written by Monahan, solo or with Train, are about describing the interests and quirks of these kind of girls. I'm thinking Monahan likes this kind of girl.
  • "Lilly" by Pink Martini describes either a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, or a very enthusiastic puppy dog ("Lilly comes when you stop to call her, Lilly runs when you look away, Lilly leaves kisses on your collar, Lilly-Lilly-Lilly-Lilly stay!")
  • In Pick Up The Phone by Dragonette the singer stars as one of these singing to "Cherry", reminding her not to be very serious and singing about all their exploits "painting the town till it was up in smoke". Though the film clip tends to zig zagg it because in the end it's all in her mind.
  • A lot of songs that came out in the '60s, with The Associaton's "Windy" as one of the stand-out examples.
    • "Ruby Tuesday" by The Rolling Stones fits this trope nicely.
    • "We'll Sing in The Sunshine" by Gale Garnett is sung from the point-of-view of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
    • "California Girl and The Tennessee Square" by Tompall and The Glaser Brothers is a country music example from that period.
  • "Diggin' Your Scene" by Smash Mouth:

Tell me why we're all gluttons for pain
The girl is totally insane
She doesn't know the meaning of tame
Still, I can't put out the flame

  • Vanessa Carlton's "Ordinary Day" is about a male version of this trope.
  • Edison Lighthouse's Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes
  • "Any Old Wind That Blows" by Johnny Cash (written by Dick Feller), though the narrator's feelings about the MPDG are a bit ambiguous:

She's a butterfly in mid-July
Who just can't wait to try her brand new wings
On brand new things
And she needs no rhyme or reason when she goes
Her mind is on what lies beyond
That wall of blue horizon, I suppose
And heaven knows
She'll go sailin' off on any old wind that blows

  • "Jane" by Barenaked Ladies is about a girl getting fed up with being the MPDG to people, including the narrator.
  • Bessie from "Up on Cripple Creek" by The Band, who rips up winning horse racing tickets "just for a laugh".
  • "Head First" by John Waite and the Babys could be interpreted this way. The narrator isn’t sure about her at first, but he’s drawn to her more and more every time he sees her. The cover art of the album this song appears on carries the idea further: it depicts a girl wearing mismatched shoes falling backwards.
  • Played straight or possibly subverted by The Grateful Dead in Scarlet Begonias, definitely subverted in the Sublime version.
  • Miss Impossible by Poets of the Fall appears to describe such a woman.

As she is beautiful, she's unpredictable,
Damned irresistible, is it plausible to hate her?
She is my common sense, revels on decadence,
But what's the difference, it's impossible to bait her.

Mythology[edit | hide]

Theater[edit | hide]

  • Deconstructed as far back as Ibsen's A Dolls House, in which the heroine Nora is a (seemingly) flighty, vivacious, kooky child-woman who gradually realizes that she's been so working so hard at playing this role for her more conventional husband—even through bearing him three children—that she has never really grown up and has no idea of her true self, and that their relationship is thus only a game, not adult love. She leaves him to try and learn how to be a fully formed human being.
  • Subverted in the musical Cabaret: Sally tries to be a Manic Pixie for Cliff, but her determined spunky optimism and unwillingness to grow up make her ignore the threat of Nazism and drive Cliff away from her.
  • Susan Hollander from Woody Allen's Don't Drink the Water is borderline the definition of this trope as her only personality trait other then that she is a Shallow Love Interest for major screw-up Axel is that she is somewhat of a hippie (the fact that the show was written and set in The Sixties helps).
  • Carmen brutally deconstructs this: she's a Hot Gypsy Woman who seduces and enchants the lead male, Don Jose, with her free-spirited nature, but quickly tires of him as he proclaims his everlasting love for her. Turns out she's not so much for the forever love, and she leaves him for someone much more exciting. As a result, he kills her out of jealousy at the end of the opera.
  • The Neil Simon play Barefoot in the Park explores the relationship of Manic Pixie Dream Girl and her dull love interest; fun loving Cory flickers between trying to spice up her housewife roles and pouting that her new husband won't pay attention to her, while Paul struggles with his wife's playful nature he loves and focusing on the career he kind of needs. It's a romantic comedy but does show the MPDG Cory as childish and needing to grow up if she wants her marriage to really work. It ends with them switching roles and Cory learning to worry a little about the result of her actions.
  • In Bells Are Ringing, Ella Peterson, working as a telephone answering girl, changes three of her clients' lives for the better. She helps a dentist realize his ambitions to become a songwriter, makes a washed-up actor stop mumbling and get a part, and a struggling playwright overcome his Writer's Block and, incidentally, fall in love with her.
  • In Wicked, Galinda is a girl/girl version for Elphaba. "You're gonna be popular!", indeed...

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The title character in the interactive fiction game Violet is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl; she's the Player Character's quirky Australian girlfriend who has a limitless supply of pet names, makes gifts like origami trophies or custom snowglobes, is indefatigably supportive, and loves the Player Character even after he/she destroys all the aforementioned gifts in order to, among other things, shut out his/her ex-girlfriend. She both lampshades and deconstructs the trope as you continue playing and more backstory comes along: Violet admits that a lot of their problems come from the fact that she can't just be the protagonist's funny little girlfriend all the time, that she is also a real person with real hopes and desires and she's getting tired of putting her life on hold waiting for the protagonist to finish the work s/he was supposed to finish ages ago.
  • Excellen Browning of Super Robot Wars Compact 2 towards her boyfriend. Towards other people...slightly the same, but a different story. And yup, she also died. The day she and Kyosuke met, infact. But she got better. Subverted when it turns out she has severe loneliness issues herself. Presumably, Kyosuke saving her from certain death in the backstory is what caused her to embrace this trope and declare herself his quirky girlfriend.
  • Depending on how you play Neverwinter Nights 2, your character can be one of these for Casavir, or a male version for Elanee.
    • Also, Gann can be a male one for the player in Mask of the Betrayer.
    • Neeshka seems to play this role in some parts of the main campaign.
  • Rinoa in Final Fantasy VIII is a subversion: she comes off as a classic Manic Pixie Dream Girl at first when she's playfully urging Squall to dance at the SeeD graduation ball, and while it soon becomes clear that she does in fact have her own problems as a member of La Résistance against the Galbadian occupation of Timber, she has much more well-meaning enthusiasm and optimism than she has the skill and experience needed to follow through with her big plans. However, she gets a rude awakening as to just how high the stakes are by the end of the first disc, and while she continues to encourage Squall to open up to her and others throughout the game, it's no longer in the manner of this trope.
  • Marta Lualdi of Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World. Perhaps not the typical variation in that there are some...rather important other concerns as well, but she seems to tie just about everything back to her unrequited crush on Emil.
  • Shiki Misaki of The World Ends With You is a subversion: she has the job of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl: she gets Neku to begin to come out of his moody, loner shell and learn the game's Aesop about trying to connect with other people. However, she does have a number of her own problems, not the least of which is she's only pretending to be this type of character because in reality, she's just as shy and lonely as Neku.
  • Milla Vodello in Psychonauts appears to be this, but once you find her memory vaults and her nightmare room, and uncover her tragic past she turns out to be a bit of a Deconstruction. However, she and Sasha Nein are heavily implied to be a couple, despite the fact that they could not be more opposite in personality.
  • Sentimental Graffiti:
    • Emiru, whose manic-ness made her a social outcast with everyone except the protagonist.
    • Yuu, who becomes this after meeting the protagonist, whom she considers to be her Manic Pixie Dream Guy.
  • Pretty much the only thing keeping Kay Faraday in Ace Attorney Investigations from being a textbook MPDG to Miles Edgeworth is that their relationship isn't portrayed romantically. The same can be said for Phoenix Wright's relationship with Maya Fey, or just about any assistant of the main character.
  • Yume Miru Kusuri subverts this quite harshly. Nekoko seems like a literal Manic Pixie Dream Girl, being a quirky and cheeky counterpart to the sulky, brooding male protagonist. In her route you learn that she's neither a pixie nor a dream girl, but a shy and troubled drug addict that tries to escape her dull life.
  • Flonne from Disgaea: Hour of Darkness initially joins Laharl to see if demons are capable of love, and starts lecturing them.
  • In the Flash-based visual short story Air Pressure, a nameless young man is re-evaluating his continuing relationship with Leigh, an MPDG who came into his life a few years ago. How closely she fits this formula depends on your choices. Ultimately Subverted after a couple plays through when the addiction subtext sinks in.
  • Catherine from the Atlus puzzle game Catherine. Deconstructed, in that Catherine's a literal pixie dream girl, being a succubus who's taken on the form of the main character's ideal woman.
  • In Persona 3, the female protagonist has some elements of this in her relationship with Shinjiro Aragaki. It's most evident in about the eighth rank of his Social Link; having previously thrown a party for the rest of the dorm at the protagonist's instigation, he reflects on how good it felt and how he wouldn't have done it if it hadn't been for her influence; by the end of the game she has literally given him a new lease on life, only to herself die as a result of performing a Heroic Sacrifice to stop The End of the World as We Know It.
  • A rare male example would be Wheatley from Portal 2. Zany, kooky, a few spikes short of a mashy spike plate? Check. Breaks the stoic, starched-and-ironed heroine out of her box (literally)? Check. Livens up Chell's life and the game? Check. Vicious Deconstruction when Wheatley in power proves to be a horrifying force of petty malice and incompetence? Check.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Questioned in Xkcd Quirky Girls: Do you actually mean it?
  • Blossom in Rhapsodies. This may or may not be literal.
  • In A Girl and Her Fed, said Girl is indeed manic, and said Fed is rather unsurprisingly a stuffed shirt. However, she didn't so much break him out of his funk so much as break him out of a brainwash given by the government agency that is now likely to kill them for it at some point, as the super intelligent koala pointed out. Also, her antics were kept under control in the past by the ghost of Benjamin Franklin. It's that kind of comic.
  • Subverted in Shortpacked!, where Robin's attempts at this usually do just wind up annoying the hell out of Ethan, Amber, and whoever else she might decide to latch onto.
  • Missi from Misfile. Of course, this puts her directly between Ash and her canon love interest, leading to Missi catching a lot of flak from some fans.
  • Ghastly's Ghastly Comic:
    • Several male characters in initially thought that Freddie would be this for them. Surprise!
    • The series also has the appropriately named Kwerki, a Cloudcuckoolander who acts like she's looking for someone to play this role for. In her more lucid moments.
  • This Sex, Drugs, and June Cleaver strip points out some of the implications of this trope, with Bree imagining herself in this role.
  • Nils in Platinum Grit. Though honestly, Given all the weirdness in Jeremy's life, it's actually up to the other girl, Kate, to be the inverse of a MPDG and pull him back to reality.
  • Maytag from Flipside is an unabashed hedonist and nymphomaniac who takes it upon herself to break shy people (of either gender) out of their shells. She's also an interesting variation because her outgoing personality is largely a function of her outfit; when she doesn't have her jester uniform on, she's meek and shy.
  • Subverted in the Ciem Webcomic Series, and also gets a Gender Flip. Denny was the Manic Pixie Man that stirred things up for Candi, allowing her to (somewhat) get over the loss of her ever-brooding (but kind-hearted) Donte. He dies horribly.
    • Steve initially starts dating Miriam because he perceives her as a MPDG. But instead of merely making his life more interesting, he "meets her halfway." Sure, he helps redeem her from her embitterment-induced poor lifestyle choices (like pointless tattoos and alcohol.) But she also corrupts him in some ways (like involvement with pornography.) The real subversion kicks in when "making life exciting" comes at the expense of having to outrun a genocidal alien mafia while playing makeshift ambassador to Chinese spies in an effort to stop said alien mafia from starting World War III, all while helping his girlfriend clear her name.
  • Maple from Hazard's Wake is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl in her own mind. (In reality, she's more a Manic Girl with romantic delusions.)
  • In Red String, Hanae serves this roll for Fuuko. She breaks her out of her shell and shows her that it's ok to love someone, even if she is a little different. Deconstructed when Hanae's finally outed to her mother who doesn't take this well - and it's Fuuko that has to be Hanae's pillar of support and strength.
  • Zii from Ménage à 3 fits the pattern. Irresponsible, almost always "up", and easily distracted, she has left a trail of hurt feelings and disrupted relationships behind her. Despite that, her interactions with Gary and Didi have shaken them both out of unpleasant ruts and gotten them to try something different.
  • Roomie from Go Get a Roomie is the Anything That Moves "Bi-in-name-only" variety. Subverting the trope is Matt, the Only Sane Man who just happens to have fallen for Roomie, but she refuses to even slow down her antics for a second.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Ellen invokes this trope intentionally to differentiate herself from the rather-straitlaced Elliot. Non romantic example, as she is his Opposite Gender Clone, and they see each other as more like brother and sister. Though she tries to act much the same way with Nanase, too.
    • Grace can be like this to Tedd, especially in the "One Way Road" arc where he's gotten too wrapped up in Mad Science to the detriment of his friendships and social life.
  • Katie from Regular Guy possibly sees herself as this and seems to fit the trope for Reg... it ends unpleasantly.
  • Played from a lesbian perspective by Winter in Girly.
  • In Scary Go Round we have nerdy Eustace Boyce (aka "The Boy") and his Perky Goth girlfriend Esther de Groot. They became a couple during a trip to Wales, which Esther had initiated relatively spontaneously.
  • In Bobwhite, Georgia sees his girlfriend Shoshanna as someone exciting, someone who does things. Everyone else sees Shoshanna as a drug abuser whose lack of inhibition turns every conversation into a trainwreck.
  • In Eerie Cuties Nina acts like this with Ace. Whether he goes along or tries to run for his life.
    • Of course, she is cheerfully out of it in general - so between being cute and apparently gifted with weapon-grade vampiric charisma, she sweeps people off their feet all the time, without even trying much. Once she ran into two wannabees trying to "expose" her sister's supposed "lesbian relationship" with Brooke to knock her down a notch. Nina missed every hint to what's going on, and on the grounds that they obviously must have been also fangirling over "forbidden love" convinced them to express their enthusiastic support together. Cue a bunch of cheering schoolmates centered on Nina and two other ditzes not even trying to comprehend what they are doing here and now. They are her on-again off-again minions from that day on.
  • Virtual Shackles explain popularity of this trope.

Web Original[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Pepper in Iron Man: Armored Adventures.
  • Futurama gives us Coilette for Calculon. A subversion in that not only is Coilette a bent-gendered Bender who thinks women should act that way, but deliberately hams it up to scam Calculon out of as much money and stuff as possible.
    • S/He's not really trying to be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl so much as the bimbo he always wanted women to be when he was a mandroid.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Edith "Big Edie" Bouvier-Beales of the Grey Gardens Documentary / musical / HBO movie certainly seemed to be this: she loved to sing and dance and host parties, to the annoyance of her staid lawyer husband. Unfortunately she was as stubborn as she was "manic" and refused to leave the title 28 room summer cottage even after the money ran out and she and her daughter "Little" Edie (a creative MPDG herself) became total recluses.
  • Stephan Pastis claims to have known such a girl while at college - someone who, to quote him "opened up my tiny serious world and and forced me to grow and be more free-spirited." Years later, as he was working as an insurance attorney, he visited her gravesite and felt terrible that he had given up on his dream of becoming a cartoonist. So he went home and mailed out his Pearls Before Swine comic strip to the syndicates - and the rest is history.
  • Rielle Hunter, John Edwards's mistress, is a great example of the dark side of this trope. All her talk of helping Edwards "develop his potential" and "find his greater truth," not to mention a business card that reads "being is free," takes on a whole different twist when one considers that she was cheerfully motivating him to cheat on his terminally ill wife with her. See the full interview here.
  • Edie Sedgwick, a woman who hung around with Andy Warhol in his day, seems to have been this. She was anorexic and addicted to barbiturates. She eventually fell apart, went in and out of rehab a few times, and died of a drug overdose. Which tends to reinforce that this trope doesn't work very well in real life.
  • The late Gilda Radner, judging from her husband Gene Wilder's description, seems to have been a real-life version of this trope for him throughout their relationship. This quality is particularly explored and evident in Wilder's memoir "Kiss Me Like a Stranger".
  • Deconstructed with Margaret Trudeau, former wife of Pierre Trudeau. While Pierre Trudeau was taken with the vivacious flower child, in reality Margaret was bipolar and her partying, drug use and rumoured affairs help put such a strain on their marriage that they were separated after six years.
  • Joy seems to have been like this for CS Lewis.
  • By some accounts, Billie Piper credits her first husband Chris Evans (not this one) for being her Manic Pixie Dream Guy. The pressures of being a pop star had left her with massive stress and crippling eating disorders. She credits Evans with bringing her back from a Creator Breakdown and getting her to enjoy life again. She claims he saved her life.
  • Ed Greenwood, creator of the Forgotten Realms, seems to be a magnet for them. To begin with, he described in a Dragon article a MPDG he met at university named September. Greenwood - though not exactly a stuffed shirt - credited the theatrical, costume-wearing and playfully seductive September as getting him hooked on Dungeons & Dragons and inspiring him as a Dungeon Master in a notably cinematic way, thus leading to his successful career in fantasy and gaming fiction. Looking at mentions of what goes on in his games, this start influenced his own style as a DM, too (his advice includes things like ham acting and adding crazy stuff, too).
    • The Hooded One, his player and unofficial "press secretary" on the fan forum, acts like this, too. As to his fangirls:

Ed: My wife didn't believe half of what used to go on, in the early bloom of popularity for the Realms... until the time I was propositioned at a con by a VERY beautiful lady, while standing with my wife on my arm. I gently pointed out that said attached glowering female was my wife, whereupon the ardent fan said brightly, "Oh, that's okay: the bed is plenty big enough for three." :}

  • Zelda Fitzgerald was this for her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald. She was his muse and the inspiration for many of the heroines in his novels and short stories, and they lived the ideal Roaring Twenties lifestyle together, but she had a fragile grip on reality and eventually ended up in a mental institution.
  • Cheerfull young women with a sunny outlook at life are all too often mistaken for this trope by guys who only glance at them briefly.
    • The other way around is not unheard of.
  1. very unusual for a MPDG, as they're usually no older than the protagonist and often younger