Smug Smiler

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"Os quoque parce Erigit[1] -- nothing could suggest more vividly the smirk of a persevering governess who has finally succeeded in getting a small boy in trouble with his father."
C. S. Lewis, The Allegory of Love

This is the character who always has an infuriatingly smug expression on his face. He thinks he's better than you, and it shows. He may not be a Smug Snake entirely; either he's not a proper villain (just an annoying jerk), or he's only disdainful to certain people (mostly you).

See Also Smug Snake and Smug Super, for more villainous/heroic versions; that said, this trope doesn't necessarily not involve them. Compare Psychotic Smirk for much the same reaction.

Examples of Smug Smiler include:

Anime And Manga

Comic Books

  • Kevin in Sin City. Even getting his head hacksawed off doesn't wipe it off.
  • In the first Blacksad, he mentions he couldn't have shot the Complete Monster if it hadn't been for that smug smile.
  • After a few pages, it's pretty clear what sort of smile the Smiler really has.


  • Zaphod, of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, meets a man with a smile he wants to hit with a brick. He eventually does so.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, this is one of Theon Greyjoy's signature traits in addition to being a Smug Snake, although he's later revealed to have been a rather tragic Stepford Smiler. When he falls into the hands of a sadistic villain who he had previously looked down upon, in addition to other mental and physical tortures, the villain purposely breaks all of Theon's teeth.
    • Also, Jaime Lannister does this a lot (which fits with his first appearance as a stereotypical fantasy villain), although the chapters written from his POV show that he consciously puts on his smile whenever he's unsure of the situation, because he's learned that people will read lots of different things from a knowing smile. This is in fact one of the early indications that he might turn out to be a better manipulator than you'd think from his initial thoughtlessness.

Live Action TV

Video Games

Web Comics

Western Animation

  1. "Uplifts her face with moderated cheer" (a quotation from the Psychomachia of Prudentius)