Stepford Smiler

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
    OK, you can stop smiling now... Please?

    "He always smiled, and he always chuckled, but inside he did not notice anyone, did not care; it was his body that smiled, nodded and shook hands. Nothing touched his mind, which remained remote."


    Everyone loves Purity Sue. They can't help it! She's practically perfect in every way. The Stepford Smiler is much like Purity Sue: she's bright, chipper, and an all-around pleasant person to be with.

    It's all a lie, of course.

    The Stepford Smiler is obsessed with projecting an image of wholesome happiness in order to be accepted by her peers. Tragically enough, they'd probably accept her for who she is regardless of her self-imposed Masquerade. Her flawlessly crafted facade hides a real person that's usually breaking like so much fine china in order to keep up the deception.

    These are the three main types of Stepford Smiler:

    Depressed Type Heroines or show co-stars that are Stepford Smilers can either be played straight (they really are that shallow) or to gain viewer sympathy as they struggle to live up to their own impossible ideals. Villainesses like the Evil Matriarch who are Stepford Smilers are usually played one of two ways: it can either humanize them, much like the heroine, or it can accentuate their evil by contrasting it with their soullessness. Feminine pronouns are used throughout this trope because the Stepford Smiler is a traditionally female role, though there are many male examples too. Sometimes, they're even a couple.

    The Empty Type's mask itself can also hide a terrible secret... there is nothing behind it. The void is either a result of using up so much energy pretending to be normal that nothing is left over, or because there was nothing there to begin with. The trope-naming Stepford Wives fall into this second category, naturally.

    Scared yet? It gets worse.

    There is a very good chance a character of the two first types is dosed up on prescription tranquilizers or antidepressants. With or without drugs, if a Stepford Smiler smiles long enough without cracking, she can become the mask and turn into an Insane Type. Some Stepford Smilers buy into the dead Barbie smiles to such a degree that they care for nothing other than maintaining appearances, having money, making sure their hair is just right, and improving their social standing, all of which are pursued with equally Social Darwinistic means. Essentially, they become the materialist equivalent of the Nietzsche Wannabe. Insane Type characters sometimes have another kind of smile behind the fake one.

    Not every Housewife is a Stepford Smiler, obviously. They often encounter one as a nemesis instead, in a post-High School example of the Alpha Bitch. Still, some readers describe any Housewife raising her own children as a Stepford Smiler on little if any evidence, bringing in the Unfortunate Implications about "staying at home = women being slaves of those evil men."

    The Stepford Smiler gets her name (as does the Stepford Suburbia in which she lives) from the book and later movies The Stepford Wives, about a village whose men conspire to create the Barbie perfect wife, all with similar eerie smiles.

    See also Attention Whore (a common mask for these types), Sad Clown, Faux Affably Evil, Beneath the Mask, Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, Broken Ace, Comedic Sociopathy, The Fake Cutie, Evil Matriarch, Extreme Doormat, I Just Want to Be Normal, Mary Sue, Masquerade, Think Happy Thoughts, Uncanny Valley Girl, Yandere, and the darker variants of Minnesota Nice. Contrast with Nietzsche Wannabe, The Stoic, The Pollyanna, Yamato Nadeshiko. Compare/Contrast with The Snark Knight, whose demeanor is typically the inverse of the Stepford Smiler, and the Stepford Snarker, whose motives are the same, but whose mask is made of snark rather than smiles. The Crap Saccharine World is basically this trope upscaled to a much bigger setting.

    Contrast Drama Queen.

    Examples of Stepford Smiler include:

    Female Examples


    • Internet telephone service provider Vonage has a commercial where a smiling couple, looking like they are the perfect example of two drones, show up on the doorstep of a new couple to the neighborhood, offering a pie along with a basketball-sized pile of wires as the "bundled" cable, phone and internet service, and even admit the disadvantages: incomprehensible bills and unexplainable charges. The new couple explain they have Vonage phone service. The welcoming female's entire persona - clearly a type "C" Stepford Smiler - "cracks" as she tries to explain that "everyone" in the neighborhood bundles. Her husband (more calmly) echoes her, also saying (with a lot of emphasis) that everyone there bundles.

    Anime and Manga

    • Magical Project S's tough Misao Amano is the Shrinking Violet. While she appears to be cheerful, in reality she's hiding her lack of self-esteem, and her loneliness and jealousy which manifests as Pixy Misa.
    • Mima and Rumi in the Satoshi Kon's movie Perfect Blue.
    • Many female characters in Neon Genesis Evangelion, the most notable ones being Asuka, Misato and Ritsuko.
    • Kare Kano' is defined by this trope. Both Arima and Yukino are Depressed Type. However, Yukino's version is played for laughs because hers stems from her own narcissism and desire to have people compliment her. Arima's, on the other hand, is played as drama as he tries to coverup his insecurities of that developed from being abused and abandoned by his parents and being considered the Black Sheep by the rest of his extended family.
      • This all culminates into a relationship between the two, with Arima thinking some...terrifyingly possessive thoughts about his girlfriend who is oblivious to the dark turn his thoughts took.
    • It is strongly implied that Yoko Nakajima, the main character of The Twelve Kingdoms, starts out the series as a junior version of this in regards to her home and social life; she reveals later the fear that there was truly nothing inside.
    • Masane from Witchblade has this to a degree. After losing all her memories in the great quake, and even her old name, all she had to build a new life was her daughter Rihoko. She is constantly saying that Rihoko is the only thing she has and aside from being her mom, there really isn't that much to Masane. Well until she activated the Witchblade and became an Action Mom. As the series progresses, she gets better.
    • Tohru Honda from Fruits Basket is a genuinely kind and caring person, but has serious insecurities that she hides behind her smile and cheerful disposition to avoid troubling her friends.
    • Digimon Tamers had a Stepford Smiler in training in Juri Katou. Early on, her main character traits are being cheerful and carrying around an alternatively cute and creepy puppet; later in the series, we find out that she never quite got over her biological mother's death, and everything went to crap as soon as the series' running "joke" happened: for non-fans, Leomon always dies, and this time, he just so happened to be Juri's Bond Creatures.
    • Asakura Ryoko from Haruhi Suzumiya fits this trope more or less. As she acts like a Purity Sue, she keeps a cute, caring and friendly appearance, even when she is about to stab you with her beloved combat knife, or when dying. Since she is an Artificial Human, unable to empathize with humans, it is very likely that it is just a fixed masquerade, thus Insane Type.
      • It becomes especially disturbing when you consider that it's likely the only time only time she's really smiling is when she's trying to kill Kyon. She's also, arguably, a deconstruction of both the Stepford Smiler and the Purity Sue. How is it possible to never stop smiling for a moment? To have no understanding of what the expression means.
        • In the Disappearance movie (spoiler warning, it shows a scene from the film), it gets particularly egregious. That smile seems even more sinister than it did before once you've seen it.
    • It's plainly obvious that the overly optimistic and cheerful Kafuka Fuura from Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is a Stepford Smiler. Even though she hides her traumatic past, some of her classmates are acutely aware of her mask and are mortally terrified of her. It doesn't help that she's secretly stalking Itoshiki-sensei by disguising herself as a college student who lives next door and has been steadily poisoning him with gifts of food...
    • Wakaba Shinohara in Revolutionary Girl Utena. Effervescently bubbly, energetic, and perky... until during the Black Rose Arc, we find that she deeply resents people who are special, having a rather low sense of self-worth herself.
      • To say nothing of Anthy. She is initially presented as a demure, somewhat shy and even submissive girl, but by the end of the series it has been revealed that not only has she been living with an unimaginable amount of both physical and emotional pain, but she could even be considered a puppet of the series' Big Bad (her own brother). She's possibly either the Depressed or Hollow Type Depressed Type , perhaps even Insane Type .
      • Utena herself shows signs of being one at times. She was rather depressed in the past to the point of wanting to die after her parents died because she saw life as pointless if all humans eventually die.
    • In Ef a Fairy Tale of The Two and in its anime adaptation, Amamiya Yuuko displays a particularly disturbing and twisted version of this.
      • Another example, while less extreme, would be Miyako, who has her own fair share of troubles.
    • Orihime Inoue from Bleach is a very gentle, sweet girl as well as the local Genki Girl Barrier Warrior. Also has huge self-esteem problems, views herself as inferior to the Shinigami, feels troubled because she adores said Shinigami (and specially Rukia) and is in love with Ichigo. Cue to her almost having quite the breakdown in the Arrancar arc... and a full-blown one in the Hueco Mundo arc.
    • Dawn from Pokémon, oddly enough, fits this trope. She fails at keeping it a secret though.
      • Not odd at all. She lost a good 3 or so contests in a row before her self esteem broke. She seems to naturally have self esteem problems, maybe due to bullying as a child, and maybe her mother's wanting for her to be like her, and since she is a bubbly cutie who worries about her friends. Not at all odd.
    • Mary Magdalene in Chrono Crusade almost constantly smiles, even though she's constantly having visions of the future and the past, some of them horrifying and violent. In fact, she has so many visions she has no memory of her childhood or even her name—except for a reoccurring vision of Chrono killing her with tears streaming down his face. She's even smiling when she dies.
    • Mai Tokiha from Mai-HiME keeps a smile on her face almost constantly because she doesn't want to burden any of her friends with her personal problems, which include a dead mother and a sick younger brother.
      • The anime version of Shizuru: She manages to keep up a cool and semi-cheerful facade for the vast majority of the series, all while trying to content herself with being Natsuki's friend despite believing that she can't tell her how she feels. We don't see it break until Natsuki rejects her.
    • The over-enthusiastic princess Amelia from Slayers, if one looks deeper, is a Depressed Type; as a daughter of a prestigious and powerful royal family, she is subjugated to horrific violence and carnage between her family over her kingdom's inheritance. Her Missing Mom was murdered, in-series she sees one of her uncles and her cousin get killed for similar reasons, her sister has long run away, and her father (the current heir apparent) is a go-to target for assassins. It's summed up well enough in the Light Novel she's introduced in:

    "But you know," [Amelia] added, still sporting that strange smile, "I really don't like that you can't trust people in your own family around here." It could've been my (Lina's) imagination, but just then I sensed a great sadness in Amelia behind that bubbly facade. There was definitely more to that girl than met the eye.

    • Kyouko Mogami from Skip Beat!, due to having had an abusive, unpleasable mother, and later living and working in a ryokan (Japanese inn) where she picked the attitude of "clients shouldn't see you upset ever". Any time her real feelings and temper come to surface, she managed to put them back quickly, to not disturb the people around. Kyouko only breaks with this when she is properly informed that all her efforts will be not rewarded at all, and then realizes that living like she was constantly tending clients neither does her any good.
      • Complicating Kyoko's case is that after she discovers her "prince" Shou's heartless betrayal of her and snaps (in the first chapter), she continues from there. And the skills and habits she learned in her previous life and her tendency to live for others coexist really strangely with her new life goals. She wouldn't have made it so far if she wasn't the person her childhood made her, but she had to break with her childhood to go anywhere.
        • Really complicating her story? She has had a truly, deeply miserable, loveless life, but she always kept her spirits up. On the other hand, her Orphan's Plot Trinket was received ten years ago from a talented ten-year-old Hollywood Brat whose main sources of suffering were "I can't live up to my father's legend", and "My parents (who adore me) re busy a lot." A psychic exposed to the rock reports that the pain it absorbed from that kid was about a hundred times worse than what Kyoko's pitiful life has put into it. So apparently she really did keep her spirits up, and wasn't Stepford Smiling that much?
    • There's also Takako Shimizu from Chobits, Shinbo and Hideki's Cram School teacher. She always smiles and helps them out, but hides how her husband ignores her in favor of his persocom...
    • Dita from Vandread was surrounded by people who were depressed often as a little girl. This, in turn, depressed her. She tried to cheer people up by acting as a ditzy cutie, it worked, so the habit stuck.
    • In Sailor Moon Stars, Usagi/Moon slowly becomes one of these to hide her worry because Mamoru hasn't come in contact with her ever since he left to study in the USA. She thought he was working too hard in university, but unbeknownst to her, poor Mamoru was dead through Bus Crash.
      • In the live-action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, a somewhat similar theme's explored when Usagi learns from Mamoru that her own negative emotions are empowering Metaria and helping bring about The End of the World as We Know It, and so remakes herself into a Stepford Smiler. After Minako has died, Usagi tries to greet him with a teary-eyed, obviously fake smile, and when he tells her it's okay to cry now, she practically falls into his arms in tears.
      • Minako could have become one at the end of the Codename: Sailor V manga. In the final chapter she recovered the memories of the fall of Silver Millennium, discovered she's about to embark in a battle that may well end with her own death and bring The End of the World as We Know It, her one true love was revealed to be the Big Bad of the series and a subordinate of Kunzite before dying at her own hands, received a prediction she'd never find love due herself chosing duty over it, and renounced her dream of becoming an idol... And yet, as she returns to Tokyo she smiles cheerfully.
    • Seras Victoria from Hellsing. She's unnaturally cheerful and goofy for someone who's had all of her police partners killed, being nearly raped and killed by a vampire and then is actually turned into one. That's just the first volume/episode. Also [[spoiler:her parents were killed in front of her and her mother was raped. In that order. The manga was a bit more subtle about her being a Stepford Smiler but the OVA series comes right out and says it.
    • Himawari Kunogi from Xxx HO Li C is a lovely schoolgirl best described as concentrated cute. She later reveals that she suffers a curse that makes her a magnet for tragedies, and everyone around her dies horrible deaths or at least suffers terrible accidents, ever since she was a little child. And she tells this story with a smile on her face. Sniffff. ;-;
    • Most of the members of the "Scratch" cult in Cowboy Bebop. Faye's smile while talking about getting rid of her debts by getting rid of her body is especially unsettling...
    • The girls from St Arsenal Academy in the manga Mission! School. At first they seem like your average happy schoolgirls. However, it turns out that they have been brainwashed and when they are provoked are revealed to be highly trained killers. The scary thing? They never stop smiling, even as they are taking on their enemies.
    • Misaki from Welcome to The NHK has elements of Depressed and Insane Types. She appears to be an innocent, religious girl that wants to save Satou from being a Hikikomori, but the truth is that she's searching for someone more worthless than she believes she is herself and help them to give herself a sense of purpose. Megumi also has elements of this, telling Sato she's successful and happy when she's actually gotten caught up in a pyramid scheme while desperately searching for a cure for her brother, also a Hikikomori.
    • Oh, Lenalee. She looks cheerful, kind and sweet, but she actually is a great Depressed Empty Type ecause she hates the Black Order for subjecting her to an horrendous Training from Hell to make her a kickass exorcist. For a long time, she wishes all of these bad experiences were only nightmares, and a big part of her Character Development relies on her accepting her Exorcist role, culminating in her best fight ever.
    • Anko from Bokurano spends some time as a Depressed Type , after she's chosen as next pilot as punishment for hitting The Mole Youko, her dad is caught cheating on her mom, and Mrs. Tokosumi goes Lady Drunk mode out of despair. With the help of her friend Kanji, she gets better, just in time to fight and die in peace.
    • Mercedes Morcerf of Gankutsuou tries to maintain a perfect appearance and smile and loves to pretend that everything is okay even when everything really isn't.
      • Also Heloïse Villefort. She seems perfectly normal in her first few appearances, with a warm motherly appearance and pleasant smile. She is the stepmother of Valentine and is the second wife of the crown prosecutor Villefort. She is the biological mother of her young son Edward, from her first marriage. Valentine is to inherit all of the fortune, leaving her stepmother jealous because Edward doesn’t get a single penny. So when the Count seduces her and innocently introduces her to toxicology and gives her a deadly ring which releases a deadly poison Heloïse becomes murderous and tries to poison Valentine and her husband, as well as inadvertently almost poisoning Albert and poisoned one of the servants of the Villefort household. And she does all this while maintaining her angelic motherly facade up till near the end of the series when her husband finds out what she's been doing and points out that she's nothing more than a murderous insane woman. She tries to deny his accusations before she breaks down and collapses to the ground, finally giving in to her insanity. Her husband then puts her in an insane asylum for the rest of her life.
    • Yuno Gasai of Mirai Nikki is extremely Insane Type.
    • Madame Red from Black Butler.
    • Mami Tomoe from Puella Magi Madoka Magica looks sweet, kind and gentle, but this hides a very scarred little girl from all the fighting she's already done. And she knows it. What she doesn't know is that this has gone to the extent of hiding a very fragile little girl as well, should she know the Awful Truths it become rather clear that she is between a Insane Type and Depressed Type.
    • Corpse Party has the Depressed Type Seiko, who smiles and strives to keep everyone cheerful despite being in a lot of pain following her mother's disappearance. The mask winds up breaking upon being accused of not taking anything seriously.
    • Kyouran Kazoku Nikki has at least 2. Kyouka, the self proclaimed God in Human Form, is actually a banished princess from a race of sentient creatures from a place called Shangri-la. In episode 26's Crowning Moment of Heartwarming of the entire series, she boldly proclaims that she is the child of Enka, and must be killed. She breaks down, claiming that she doesn't even know who she is since her people are effectively a race of sentient beings that possess you and give you animal ears, lending evidence to her being an Empty Type.
      • Arguably Yuka is one as well, since, despite the fact that she smiles all the time, she was a "silent doll" for a large crime family, which means that everyone in the family abused her, both physically and psychologically, and it was her job to take it all with no reaction. One would think that this would make her an Insane Type , but in actuality she is a Depressed Type who keeps smiling in order to not burden her family.
    • Kaede of SHUFFLE! shows signs of being an Insane Type before she snaps.
    • Hayate of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha shows signs of being a Depressed Type when in her Ill Girl phase, as Shamal notes that she hides her pain from those closest to them, and while she often comes off as cheerful, she confesses in the second Sound Stage for the season and the start of Episode 9 that she realizes that she might die soon, and for a long time, was not scared at all because of how lonely she was.
      • Shamal implies that Nanoha was this during while she was injured and when her recovering her ability to walk or fly was in doubt.
    • Izumi Maki constantly amuses herself by telling bad jokes and laughing at them alone Martian Successor Nadesico. While she appears initially as a Cloudcuckoolander, she falls under this catagory as a Type -A, as the puns are designed as a coping mechanism to distract her from the pain of losing two seperate boyfriends.
    • Natsume's mother from Master of Martial Hearts spends all of her screen time as a Depressed Type, because she used to be your average plucky Action Girl, until the took part to a Street Fighter expy for a MacGuffin supposedly able to grant wishes to the winner. However, she wasn't warned beforehand of the Fate Worse Than Death awaiting the losers, so she was mindraped into helplessness, got her voice box removed and sold into sexual slavery. Upon escaping she found out that her younger sister, another Action Girl in tag team with her, was raped and beaten to death by the very man organizing the tournament... who also had married the winner (the indirect responsible for her tragedies) and sired a daughter as strong as her mom. She stays a smiling Cute Mute until the reveal, then is shown scratching a picture of her former self and her dead sister with nightmarish expression. Until worse happens...
    • Himari Takakura from Mawaru Penguindrum is a Depressed Type. She is a genuine sweetie, but hides the pain from her Tragic Dream.
      • Yuri Tokikago turns out to be one as well, likely an Empty Type due to her strong self-hate and hidden issues related to the (currently undisclosed) "secret" she has in her body. Also has Insane Type traits, considering the end of episode 14...
    • Like Misao, Tsubomi Hanasaki of Heartcatch Pretty Cure was a Depressed Type. Her parents were once major workaholics and, despite the loneliness, she had watched them go off with a smile. This went on for years and years until she finally broke down upon seeing a mother bird tending to its young. It was just pure luck that her parents had returned for notes they forgot in time to see their daughter break down. The rest of the series shows her growing up from this incident and becoming a much stronger person.
    • Everyone in Soil New Town but especially the missing Suzushiro family who remain cheerful in the face of vicious harassment and continuously deny that there's anything unusual about them to their daughter. For example they insist she has a birthmark on her back despite it being on her chest and they ignore the fact that her memories of her old town are off (EG "I lived on the third floor" - building has two floors - "school was behind the supermarket" - the only thing behind the supermarket is the edge of a cliff). It's heavily implied they're from another dimension.
      • As for everyone else: the housewives of Soil harass the Suzushiros after they get them into a pyramid scheme but the real instigator is the town president, an obsessive neat-freak pedophile dentist who raped all their sons (literally every boy aged 9-10 for at least the past 9 years), used the secret video cameras he put all over town to blackmail the housewives into harassing the Suzushiros, used a drill to torture one of his victims' mother into silence, and killed a bunch of cats to intimidate a homeless woman because her appearance violated his sense of "purity".
    • Mahou Sensei Negima features Tsukuyomi.
    • Mio Hio from D.N.Angel. Her initial personality of being a smiling Genki Girl is not her true personality. She's actually really depressed because she's actually a voodoo doll taken human form and she doesn't have much time left as a human being.
    • Lemilia of Reimei no Arcana.
    • Rika Furude from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (and Kai). She has been murdered and revived countless times throughout the series, and retains the memories of every death she has ever suffered; this has resulted in a mix of Empty and Depressed Type - Rika is revealed to have lost pretty much all hope of saving herself from this brutal cycle, becoming very depressed and hollow inside as a result (she even gets drunk on occasion - this is a girl of about 10 years old - to drown out everything). Despite her struggles, Rika keeps a brave face, and constantly acts like the sweet, cute child that everyone expects her to be, to avoid freaking her friends out if anything (she does break this pretence at times to scare her killer(s), or to convince others to listen to her).
      • The series' main villain, Takano Miyo, also counts; she constantly acts like a friendly, helping hand to the arc's protagonist, sweeter than sugar, only to reveal herself as a cold Magnificent Bastard with one hell of a God Complex in the final arcs, who guns down anyone willing to mock her goals and beliefs.
      • How could we forget Rena? Underneath her cheerful facade, obsessed with all things that she believes are cute, lies a girl who is utterly broken over her parent's divorce, tried to kill herself, and lives every day with a smile just to make others believe she is happy.
    • Hino Kahoko of Kiniro no Corda following her Break the Cutie process tends to smile and act like everything is alright around her friends but if she's alone she tends to lose her smile and get depressed.
    • Slayers has a Depressed Type example in the form of Princess Amelia. Due to the show's comedic nature, her hidden sadness is infrequently mentioned; when it is, it's Tear Jerker worthy (like the time when her father Phil goes missing and everyone believes he's dead -- Amelia collapses in tears at some point, and it's so sad that even Lina is depressed). Although she stands firm through her family's betrayals, the death of her mother and the absence of her older sister are large sources of grief for her. A notion of a sad smile is lampshaded at the end of the fourth Light Novel when Lina meets Amelia, after Amelia's uncle Christopher kills her cousin Alfred for his betrayal.
    • Asayo Katsuragi from Sakura Gari is a Depressed Type example. She is kind, polite and soft-spoken, but she hides her pain from the abuse dealt by her husband.
    • Koharu of Koharu no Hibi is an Insane Type.
    • Koala from One Piece is a Depressed Type : During her time as a slave, she had to put on a smile at all times, because slaves who stopped smiling or cleaning would be killed. Needless to say, that smile hid. The poor little girl was so scarred by her time as a slave that she kept the Stepford Smiler façade even after she was freed. Fisher Tiger finally broke that façade by altering her slave mark to make it look like a sun, and telling her that it is OK to cry.
    • Chikane and Himeko both from Kannazuki no Miko. Himeko had a really terrible childhood and tries to hide her insecurities. Chikane is constantly trying to hide her feelings of love for Himeko...and eventually remembers that she killed her in a past life for a ritual to rebirth the world. Because of this, she was unable to help in the ritual to summon Orochi's nemesis so she wore the mask of the villain at this point in the series when she realized the reason why she couldn't help, because a deep part of her still hated the god. That was Himeko would become stronger and kill her to complete the ritual.
    • Farnese from Berserk. She used to be a spoiled, pampered Lonely Rich Kid that had she needed to be happy. In appearance. It appears she was actually a Pyromaniac Enfante Terrible who was suffering from her parents' Hands-Off Parenting and was called the "demon child" of the Vandimion house.

    Comic Books

    • When fans fell in love with Mary Jane Watson, many writers attempted to reconcile her "devil may care" party girl image from her first couple of years of existence by revealing that her party girl facade was something she came up with to cover up her screwed up homelife, which included a physically and mentally abusive father. Variants of this characterization has appeared in other spinoffs of the Spidey-franchise, particularly in Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane.
    • Empowered toys with this trope in respect to Mindf██k, who instead of putting on a reasonably happy face actively and regularly tinkered with her mind so she would be less psychotic than she would be otherwise reasonably happy. Of course if her posthumous confessions of being nearly suicidal are any indication, she ultimately played this trope straight.
      • Sistah Spooky wound up playing this trope tragically straight after Mindf██k dies, literally using magic to force any expression aside from utter despair onto her face.
    • Taken to downright depressing levels in issue #8 of the 2007 revival of The Brave and the Bold, a story starring The Flash and the Doom Patrol. Elasti-Girl is constantly smiling throughout, even when things look horrifically dire. (Master artist George Perez takes great care to give make her expression completely identical every time: a bright grin with eyes that betray just a hint of utter desperation.) Flash explains to his freaked-out kids that she used to be a movie star and since gaining superpowers she feels like a freak of nature. She smiles because it's the only way she can still feel pretty, and she thinks it puts people at ease. Flash's daughter comments that it isn't working.

    Fan Works


    • The Stepford Wives is the Trope Namer. The wives are a kind of Empty Type , being robots.
    • Mean Girls: Gretchen (the 'one small step from a complete nervous breakdown' version, rather than the 'empty inside' version).
    • Most characters in Pleasantville are a Stepford Smilers, what with it being a 1950s sitcom world made real. Eventually the teens who zapped into Pleasantville help break the townspeople of the trope.
    • Gina McKee plays a particularly creepy variant of this in Mirror Mask.

    Black Queen: Because we are...what?
    Guard: Not a home to Mr. Grumpy, Your Majesty.
    Black Queen: Exactly!

    • The Chumscrubber is essentially about an entire suburb full of Stepford Smilers.
    • In Tim Burton's Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, Violet Beauregard's mom has definite Stepford vibes, especially regarding her perfectionist coaching of her daughter. She's played, surprise surprise, by Missi Pyle, patron saint of this trope.
      • Wonka himself has shades of this in the Burton version. That smile that never stops, and when it does... scary time. And meanwhile he's cracking up with flashbacks to his suppressed childhood.
    • Speaking of Tim Burton, Edward Scissorhands features a good number of Stepford Smilers.
    • Child star Darla Dimple of Cats Don't Dance maintains a facade of being sweet and adorable. Heaven help you if she's angry at you when it breaks.
    • Carolyn Burnham from American Beauty is a prime example of this trope, subscribing to the adage, "In order to be successful, one must project an image of success at all times."
    • Katherine in Cruel Intentions pretends to be an upstanding Junior League-type schoolgirl, when in reality she's an oversexed, scheming coke fiend who takes out her frustrations on her fellow female classmates by persuading them to sleep around and ruin their reputations as a result.
    • Asami Yamazaki in Audition. The male protagonist Aoyama is instantly smitten with her beauty and demureness, and ignores his friend's comments on how there's something wrong about her. She turns out to be a victim of childhood abuse and an Ax Crazy murderer, which would be a spoiler if not for the DVD cover and trailer showing her wielding a syringe. The climactic scene is made all the creepier by her perky voice and grin.

    Kiri, kiri, kiriiii...! (Deeper, deeper, deeepeeeer...!).


    Contesse de Merteuil: I learned to smile while under the table I was sticking a fork in my hand.

    • Played with in the film Far From Heaven in that the housewife genuinely had a wonderful cliche 1950s suburban life. Then it began to crumble around her....
    • Parodied with the camp counselors in the second Addams Family movie. Also, Wednesday's (fake) smile while at the camp, which is met with a "She's scaring me!" from another camper.
      • Speaking of Addams Family Values... What. About. DEB-BIE!?! Doesn't she deserve love? And jewelry?
    • The "Machine Man" in Metropolis when made to look like Maria, is a literal Empty Type (because she's actually a robot). Somewhat subverted because the main character figures out from her actions and the beliefs she espouses, but no one else does. She even laughs as she's being burned at the stake, before her true form reveals itself.
    • Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton makes every effort to appear a confident and poised professional who loves her job, but behind the scenes she's a timid, nervous wreck.
    • Meryl in The Truman Show is an utterly creepy example of this trope. Almost everything she says is a sugary sweet soundbite that sounds like it could have come direct from a commercial, which gets even creepier when she's nattering on about coffee when her husband is on the verge of a psychotic breakdown. Of course, since she's actually an actress portraying the main character's wife on a 24 / 7 television show -- and according to the Word of God, is a complete fame whore who gets a payrise every time she shills something successfully -- practically everything she says is a commercial of some sort.
    • Janine in Animal Kingdom: she maintains a sugary-sweet maternal demeanor as she witnesses the criminal activity of her many sons, deals with the death of three of her children, plots to have her grandson murdered and blackmails a man into killing him. Wow.
    • Lucille Slocumb in Kingdom Come maintains the role of cheerful people-pleaser and peacemaker while under the stress of struggling with infertility, her recovering alcoholic husband, Ray Bud, planning her father-in-law's funeral, and dealing with a group of crazy relatives and friends. At one point she goes into a bathroom and downs "nerve pills". She finally snaps at the viewing when she comes across a bucket of chicken that triggers memories of a traumatic experience. The next day Lucille nearly has another breakdown when the funeral is delayed because of the preacher's "intestinal difficulty" and Ray Bud threatens to yank the bathroom door off the hinges, telling Ray Bud, "I don't have my nerve pills on me today!"
    • Bad Teacher: Amy Squirrell.
    • Karen from Love Actually is a more positive version of the trope. She tells one of her friends whose wife has recently died that he shouldn't openly cry because "people hate sissies". When she finds out that her husband bought his secretary an expensive necklace for Christmas she only cries in private but puts on a smile when she returns to her kids in the living room.
    • Esther in Orphan is an Insane Type.


    • The Other Mother from Coraline.
    • On the heroic side, Leitha from David Eddings's The Redemption of Althalus: she pretends to be cheerful and witty, but is secretly neurotic, insecure, and self-hating.
    • William Sleator's Others See Us has Annelise, who is well loved by everyone, including her cousin Jared, until he gains telepathy and realizes she's a Stepford Smiler of the worst sort. At one point he visits her mental landscape, it's an infinite sun-parched desert with her face as the huge sun, and the only other feature is a gigantic mirror, reflecting her face.
      • C. S. Lewis' short story The Shoddy Lands also has its protagonist experience a telepathic vision of a Stepford Smiler's mental landscape.
    • The Goddess Media from American Gods by Neil Gaiman was like this in her true form. As the humanoid manifestation of The Media, when she wasn't possessing characters on television she was described as looking like the sickeningly sweet hostess one of those morning shows filmed in a fake living room.
    • Sansa Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire becomes this in order to survive being trapped in a Deadly Decadent Court ruled by a depraved boy king.
      • Then there is Cersei Lannister, who tries to run said court. Becomes especially evident in A Feast for Crows, when she becomes a point-of-view character.
      • Varys and Littlefinger, the resident Magnificent Bastards, are this, and in both cases, it's implied to be more than just a mask to wear in public...
    • Countess Rostov from War and Peace is very much like this except when she's talking with her daughters. Pierre Bezukhov's wife Helene would be a subversion in that she goes from having no role in society except being beautiful (and smiling a lot) to one of the eminent hostesses on the Moscow and St. Petersburg scene after getting married.
    • Part of the reason Will Navidson moved his family into the titular house in House of Leaves was to get closer to his family, including his Stepford Smiler wife, Karen Green.
    • Lilith de Tempscire from Discworld is a variant of a Stepford Smiler. In Lilith's mind, life should be just like a storybook. As the witch in charge, politically, in the city of Genua, she likes things to be the way people expect them to be — i.e., cooks should be fat and jolly and bustle a great deal, innkeepers should have big red faces, toymakers should whistle and sing the whole day long and tell amusing stories to children, etc. And woe betide anyone who doesn't live up to Lilith's expectations; she makes certain that they suffer for it. To quote the book Witches Abroad, "Lilith held up a mirror to Life, and chopped off the bits of Life that didn't fit."
    • Ira Levin's book The Stepford Wives, the Trope Namer.
    • Kaitlyn Werhner from the short story, Dark Red Mind. If you were to see her smile at you with those piercing blue eyes, run. Not that it would help you any.
    • Annie Wilkes in Stephen King's Misery. She is a cunning, brutal and dangerously disturbed woman who hides her psychosis behind a cheery facade and kind smile, making her an Insane Type.
    • Also by King, Harold from The Stand becomes this.
    • Erzebet Bizecka of Alisa Libby's Blood Confession is an Insane Type. She's a charming and beautiful young lady who's doing an excellent job at leading her country out of difficult times. Not to mention how kind she is to her servants. Of course, that's just a plot to get them into her dungeon where she kills them and bathes in their blood to preserve her youth and beauty.
    • Miss America in Haunted constantly behaves as though she is on camera, working so hard to maintain her flawless facade that naturally her breaking point is just as epic as those of the others.
    • It's possible to read Agnes Wickfield in David Copperfield as this, considering her life with an increasingly alcoholic, depressed father and an increasingly lecherous Uriah Heep, yet she never loses her smiling willingness to help others. As well, Miss Mowcher is a classic Depressed Type (though she was originally written as The Grotesque, Dickens switched gears and made her a tragic figure who shields herself behind laughs, even at her own expense.)
    • Glinda from Wicked is essentially this. As such a high and mighty political figure she must keep a happy facade. Made even worse when her best friend, who happens to be the person she loves, is killed. She must act as if she hates her and tell pitiful lies about her. It's debatable if the musical or book version has it worse.
    • Felicity in The Idea Of Perfection by Kate Grenville is obsessed with appearance, to the point of avoiding frowning or smiling out of fear of developing wrinkles. More-or-less an Empty Type , since there's nothing of substance underneath her immaculately groomed and beautiful appearance, and contrasting brilliantly with the much more flawed, but likable protagonists, who, along with the flaws, also have goals, interests, and drives, and who actually get things done in the end.
    • Paper Towns: Margo, although even this is more complicated than it usually is.
    • The original Pollyanna is a Depressed Type. She maintains her sunny disposition in front of people but she is sad about losing her father and breaks down when she becomes crippled. She gets better though.
    • Jennifer North in Valley of the Dolls tends to be this. Harry Bellamy says of her "That smile is glued on." She's unfailingly warm and friendly to everyone and sincerely cares about others' problems, while hiding a life full of shame, lies, bitter disappointments and, finally, breast cancer. Most of the truth is not revealed until long after her suicide.
    • Mrs. Coulter in The Golden Compass. She puts on a friendly, trustworthy front, when in reality she's one of the leaders of an organization that kidnaps young children and surgically removes their souls.
    • In Death: Allika Straffo from Innocent In Death is either Depressed Type or Insane Type. That's because she knows her daughter Rayleen Straffo killed her baby brother Trevor. She tries to act like everything's fine and okay, because she's afraid of Rayleen and what she might do.
    • Blanche Dubois of A Streetcar Named Desire is a mixture of Depressed and Insane Type. Stella too, especially in the movie.
    • The Irish short story An Beann Og (The Young Woman) follows a mother of two who politely smiles to anyone she sees and greets them kindly. She seems perfectly happy as she gets herself tidied up for her husband coming home for dinner but the last line of the story says she feels a small tremble of despair at the thought of her husband.
    • Stargirl, of all people has a tendency to become a Depressed Type when she's sad.
    • The Westing Game has two female examples:
      • Angela Wexler has given up her dreams and ambitions to fulfill her social climbing mother's wishes, making her a Depressed Type with a bit of Insane Type , as she vents her frustration by setting bombs, including one aimed at herself.
      • Flora Baumbach is a pure Depressed Type who smiles constantly to hide the pain from her husband leaving her and her daughter dying.

    Live-Action TV

    • Eastenders has had Vanessa Gold, a lovely, only slightly tarty woman with perfect hair, a perfect name, and a perfect complexion, wearing exclusively white. She smiles an awful lot, and allows herself to put up with a cheating husband for many many years. When Max leaves her for Tanya, she goes a wee bit bonkers, including a lot of screaming, derpface and smashing living rooms, but the really powerful stuff was her obsessive cleaning when she suspected the affair.
    • Most characters in Twin Peaks live this trope - it is one of the key fascinations of David Lynch and common in his work. The key theme of Twin Peaks is taking a dreamy, perfect small rural town with white picket fences and exposing the hypocrisy, instability and literal evil that underlies it everywhere. Shades of grey abound.
    • Many, many characters in Desperate Housewives — but Bree stands out as the most Stepfordish. In the pilot, her son Andrew even says that she always acts "like [she's] running for mayor of Stepford."
    • Julia McNamara from Nip Tuck is half Stepford Smiler and half Defrosting Ice Queen. You have to have a little sympathy for the woman, as she has been keeping her son's paternity secret from both his natural father and assumed father. Unfortunately, her eternal struggle over "Sean or Christian?" just annoys most people.
    • Blair in Gossip Girl is a Depressed Type, especially during the first season when she's with Nate. Serena accuses her of being in constant denial in order to keep her life perfect. She admits to faking her happy sparkly persona to her stepfather in Season 4: "What kind of a princess schemes and plays sex games and drapes herself in old Hollywood movies?"
      • Also, Nate Archibald's mother. To the point of being called the Archibot by fans.
    • Lemon Breeland from Hart of Dixie is a definite Depressed Type who also leads an entire clique of oddly similar smilers.
    • Betty Draper from Mad Men could be used as a textbook example; she's playing the role of '50s wife and mother so perfectly that her impending nervous breakdown seems like a surprise even to her.
      • It didn't help being married to Broken Ace Don Draper. The fourth season spent much time surveying the wreckage of that broken union.
    • Keeping Up Appearances is basically a long look at one woman's failing attempts to maintain the mask. Hilarity Ensues.
    • Celia from Weeds. Nancy may have become one as well.
    • Barb Ballantine, the 'perfect' mom from The Mommies showed signs of this trait.
    • Amy Poehler's impression of Hillary Clinton on Saturday Night Live seems to draw a good deal of inspiration from this trope.
    • The Lexx universe has a School of Seduction that raises women to be Stepford Smilers.

    Matron: And now, Zev, repeat after me: "Are you comfortable, darling?"
    Girl: "Are you comfortable, darling?"
    Matron: Very good, Zev. Your reading was an 8.3% deviation from standard.

    • One of Tara's split personalities in United States of Tara is a "perfect 50's housewife who's secretly filled with seething rage", according to the press releases.
    • Being a spunky fifties parody, the gang from Pushing Daisies has met their fair share of this trope. For example, Hillary Hundin from "Bitches", Madeline McLean from "Corpsicle" and Mrs. Vandersloop from "The Legend of Merle McQuoddy".
      • It's implied that Charlotte -Chuck-Charles is one of this as well. Specially when confronted with the issue of her own existence on "Bad Habits"
    • Daisy from Dead Like Me. She starts out as a ditzy Bottle Fairy and former actress who Really Gets Around, loves to brag about it, and acts more than happy with herself, but then her last thought is revealed: "Why has no one ever loved me?", revealing that she only acts happy with her life (and her un-life, given what the show is about).
    • Chuck's Sarah Walker. In Chuck Vs. Santa Claus, she kills an enemy agent, and almost immediately puts on a cheery smile and tells Chuck that he was taken into custody. Of course, Chuck saw the whole thing.
    • Quinn of Glee tries this, hoping to hide her pregnancy from her family and the rest of the school and continue to play the part of the popular, celibate cheerleader, until such point as the truth becomes too obvious to ignore. It doesn't work - and when words get out, she loses her popularity and even gets kicked out by her parents. And according to Quinn, her mom is one of these as well (what we know of her makes it obvious she's at least a Lady Drunk).

    Quinn: And you just pushed it aside, like we do every bad feeling in this house. If you don't talk about it, it doesn't exist.

      • Episode 12 of the first season hints that Rachel might be one of those as well (especially the Lily Allen version of "Smile"), or might become one someday (when she tells herself that "it's lonely at the top" when Finn apparently abandons her when the Glee club is due their photos for the school yearbook).
      • Terri tried to be one of these with her fake pregnancy.
    • Played with in Dark Angel. The one-off character Mia was a Manticore Psi-Ops gal with the ability to influence people's thoughts, and she had the personality type of being a Smiler. It was all an act of course, because what she really wanted was to trick Max into fighting Alec in a cage match, after she'd set Alec up, but bet everything on Max, while Dougie, her lover and a lieutenant of a crime boss, whom Max and Logan had been trying to take down, had bet everything on Alec, so Dougie would be convinced to rat on the crime boss and get out of the business, so she and Dougie could run away together. Oddly enough, the reason she was in love with Dougie was because, on account of his narcolepsy, he was immune to her abilities.
    • The Bones episode "The Death of the Queen Bee", set at Bones' high school reunion, references this trope, specifically Insane Type. A janitor who looks extremely suspicious (played by Robert Englund, even!) is completely benign, while the actual murderer turns out to be a Stepford Smiler. To quote the janitor: "One look at her, you can tell she's off. Them smiley ones, they always give me the willies."
    • Amy Pond from Doctor Who also shows signs of this at times, as according to Karen Gillan deep down she doesn't trust the Doctor as much as she seems to. Word of God says that in Amy's Choice the dreams were the Doctor's and Rory's and that she has no dreams of her own. Then there's the fact she has no memories of any reason to be in mourning after episode 9...
      • And then at the end we find out why it was just her in that big empty house for all those years....
    • The Seventh Doctor episode, The Happiness Patrol is built around this trope. It focuses on a whole society of Stepford Smilers who are forced to be happy by the titular organization. The penalty for displaying discontent or sadness is death -- by strawberry goopy stuff
    • On the Season 8 episode of Law and Order Special Victims Unit, "Cage," Detective Beck—filling in for the undercover Benson—is looking after the sweetest little girl, who adores her caretaker. In fact, this bond is so strong, the girl sets Beck's couch on fire, in hopes that she and the detective will both die, so that they will never be separated.
    • V-2009: Anna is an Insane Type and her daughter Lisa is an Insane Type who later becomes a type A.
    • In Skins:
      • Effy is a combination of the depressed and the Insane Types. Her random personality shifts in the previous series, from Silent Bob in S1 to Magnificent Bastard in S2 to Fille Fatale and Emo Teen in S3, were all various attempts at hiding it, some more successful than others (S1 and S3 both afforded some glances Beneath the Mask). In S4, the mask finally comes off.
      • Cassie in Generation 1 and Mini in Generation 3 are both Depressed Types. Cassie's mask comes off in S2; Mini's is gradually chipped away at throughout S5.
    • Shirley in Community displays a mild side of the trope, but she is known to have "thinly veiled rage issues" under her cheer.
    • The fourth season premiere of Sabrina the Teenage Witch had Sabrina consider moving in with her father on her 18th birthday. Hilda and Zelda are devastated but cast a spell to give them big toothy smiles so as not to spoil Sabrina's birthday. The effect is slightly creepy.
    • Are You Afraid of the Dark? features a Vain Sorceress as one in the "The Tale of the Mystical Mirror" and another one in "The Tale of Many Faces".
    • Jill Tracy fron Scrubs, especially in "My 15 Seconds", where she behaved in her typical over-the-top way despite having tried to kill herself.


    • Smokey Robinson's "Tears of a Clown" is practically the musical Trope Codifier.

    Now if there's a smile on my face
    It's only there trying to fool the public
    But when it comes down to fooling you
    Now honey, that's quite a different subject
    But don't let my glad expression
    Give you the wrong impression
    Really I'm sad, oh I'm sadder than sad
    You're gone and I'm hurtin' so bad
    Like a clown I pretend to be glad

    • The song "Happy Go Lucky" by Steps is made of this trope.
    • Facade by Disturbed.
    • In the planned music video for "Rhinestone Eyes" by Gorillaz, there's a sequence where Crazy Cyborg Noodle goes on a killing rampage while wearing a creepy ear-to-ear grin, which ends with a close up of her crying eye.
    • The main character of the music video for "Everybody's Fool" by Evanescence.
    • Morrissey (in his solo career after The Smiths) has "When I Last Spoke To Carol", where she said:

    "I've hammered a smile across this pasty face of mine
    since the day I was born in 1975."

    • Everclear's Wonderful hints at this.
    • The song "Ah, but Underneath" from 'Follies.' The entire song sings about a woman who seemed to be something on the surface, but was something different underneath the top layer. But that layer, too, was 'just a shell,' and so it continues. The very last line is 'Sometimes when the wrappings fall, there's nothing underneath at all!' making this an Empty Type.
    • The chorus of Taylor Swift's "Tied Together With A Smile" is about a Type 1 childhood friend of Taylor's who had anorexia.

    "And no one knows
    That you cry, but you don't tell anyone
    That you
    Might not be the golden one
    And you're tied together with a smile
    But you're comin' undone"

    • "Smiling Faces", sung by The Temptations, the Undisputed Truth, David Ruffin solo...

    "Smiling faces sometimes
    Pretend to be your friend
    Smiling faces show no traces
    Of the evil that lurks within..."

    • "The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most" by Dashboard Confessional is about a Depressed Type:

    "Buried deep as you can dig inside yourself, hidden in the public eye
    such a stellar monument to loneliness.
    Laced with brilliant smiles and shining eyes,
    perfect makeup, but you're barely scraping by.

    • Lady Gaga's "Dance in the Dark" is surprisingly dark. "Baby loves to dance in the dark / cuz when he's looking she falls apart".
      • "So Happy I Could Die." "I do my hair / I gloss my eyes / I touch myself all through the night."
    • "Lucky" by Britney Spears, the video shows it perfectly!
    • The song Eight Hundred by Pinocchio-P.
    • Skin's "Nothing But" rings as either a Depressed Type or B. The entirety of the song has lyrics which insist that the narrator is happy ("I feel nothing just joy, and pride, and happiness.") but the tune denotes a sense of Lyrical Dissonance.
    • The song "GIFT of Princess Sleep-Bringer" by Mothy. More specifically, the character who sings it, Margarita Branchenheim (played by Vocaloid Hatsune Miku).

    Professional Wrestling

    • Lay Cool are an Insane Type example. The two of them are best friends with genuine affection for each other and are bubbly and friendly whenever they're on commentary. Then in the ring....they are devilish little villains who are out for themselves. Michelle and Layla even give off nice toothy smiles whenever they're insulting the other divas.
    • Melina's last heel turn implied she was an Empty Type as a face. The announcers have said "this is the real Melina, not the smiling happy diva we've seen in the past"



    "I felt like I was on some damn panel show, twenty-four hours a day. Smiling, affable, humming little snatches of song. Laughing when I didn't know the answers. But affable, affable, affable! You don't know how I longed to get up some morning and feel free for once to be depressed, to be constipated, to be boring."

    • Jennifer in When Midnight Strikes is a Depressed Type example, the perfect hostess who is smiling and keeping the party going even though she's falling apart inside. Her song 'Little Miss Perfect' makes this very clear.
    • Edith in The Women has one pregnancy after another, even though she hates babies and doesn't like being pregnant. She seems to do a lot more complaining than smiling, but nevertheless insists that "I'm the only happy woman you know." Perhaps she does more smiling in mixed company.

    Video Games

    • Vanille from Final Fantasy XIII is a perfect Depressed Type example. Her unnaturally happy and positive attitude was just a way of running away from her past failures. She has an authentic death wish and blames herself for everything that has happened.
    • Sagiri from Suikoden V was trained to be this kind of character, a ruthless killer with a permanent smile on her face. By the time you meet her she's mostly rehabilitated, however she still finds herself unable to adopt any other expression.
    • Colette from Tales of Symphonia is a Stepford Smiler, always having a smile on her face, even as she starts to lose her humanity and later on starts slowly turning into a Cruxis Crystal while trying as hard as she can to keep it a secret from everybody.
    • Shiki from The World Ends With You has this as she tries to pretend to be her bubbly best friend because she feels the real her is worthless. Note that during the game Shiki has the appearance of said friend
    • In Fire Emblem 7, the Cleric Serra is a mix of Genki Girl and Rich Bitch who acts like a princess... but truly is an orphan dropped at a small, miserable Ostian convent by an Etrurian clan in danger of being wiped away. Her parents never came back for her and she was badly traumatised by their abandonment. Get her to support with people like Hector or Lucius to get more details.
    • In the second game of Ar tonelico, this is Luca's defining feature. Becoming the Mask is the goal of her path, but she is very unpopular among many players who feel she hit a Moral Event Horizon somewhere along the line.
    • Melody from Rune Factory is a Depressed Type example.
    • In System Shock 2 you find the protocol droids, robots made to work like secretaries, greet people, give directions, etc. When they turn against you, they walk around searching for you, saying things like "Where are you, sir?" "I cannot help you if you keep hiding. "Please wait, I can offer you my assistance.". When they get near to you, they FRIGGIN EXPLODE.
    • Haru from Devil Survivor. Behind her typical idol singer personality lies a suicidal depression.
    • Persona 4 has Nanako, the protagonist's cousin, and Rise who are both Depressed Types.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has Laughing Octopus. She's got a * really* good reason, though.
    • Miranda Lawson from Mass Effect 2 keeps trying to convince herself and everyone around her that she's happy and she's found her place in life, but that perpetual smile of her just screams "Fake!"
    • Atoli in .hack GU Games is cheerful and bubbly, wants everyone to get along, and wants to be loved... and then you find out she's like that only because her total lack of self-esteem in real life, due to lifelong emotional abuse by her parents ("Girls should be quiet and unnoticeable!!") and bullying by her schoolmates led her to browsing suicide websites where she met and found comfort in the player behind Sakaki, who was really only using her in order to assume control of Atoli's Epitaph, Innis the Mirage of Deceit.
    • GLaDOS from Portal.
    • Litchi Faye-Ling from BlazBlue is a Depressed Type. On the outside and towards the people of Orient Town, she is highly sociable, kind, compassionate and caring doctor who is idolized by pretty much everyone, and it might not be a lie at all, she's deep down kind hearted. However, she never told anyone about her own problems, that being a desperate lover with Guilt Complex, especially for letting her lover turn into an Eldritch Abomination, injects herself with the same corruption which granted her power and looking for a cure and in the same time rotting her body away, and she'd rather bear the burden herself than worrying those she cared about with it. Hazama managed to find out her face behind her smiler face and used that to manipulate her to get her Forced Into Evil under the guise of eventual survival from the escalating corruption and the chance to cure that lover. Which in turn, made her pull a new mask in front of Rachel: She pretends that only her lover needs help and she's the only one who can, while in truth, she also needs help as well when the other source of help (Kokonoe) flat out refused to help. Unfortunately, Rachel bought that mask and dismisses her as an obsessed idiot who chose the wrong side.
    • Carol in Mitsumete Knight. She became this because she was frequently bullied in her childhood and had no friends. She posed as a Genki Girl in order to remedy this, and sadly this worked all too well.
    • Daniella/The Maid from Haunting Ground certainly qualifies; for her first few appearances in the game, she is polite and courteous to Fiona, only to reveal her truly Ax Crazy nature during the game's second act.

    Visual Novels

    • Rika from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni is a Depressed Type, hiding her true personality behind a cute and cheery girl facade. Mentally, she's an adult because she grew up during the thousands of years in the time loop and, alongside Hanyuu, is the only one aware of them in the first place.
    • Tsukihime has Kohaku. Depression and abuse lead to mask, then leads to thinking of herself as a doll and being hollow, and finally in order to have a reason to live she turns into an Insane Type by plotting against the Tohno's while admitting she doesn't really hold a grudge, but that it's what a "real" person would do, right? It's worth noting that she gets better in two of the game's endings: in one she only does so through amnesia after failing to kill herself, but in the her ending she legitimately heals and leads a happy life.
      • The game analyzes the concept a bit. Shiki, comparing the above spoilered character constant "cheerful" demeanor with another, more stoic character that nevertheless still managed to transmit their emotional states despite their stony face, expressed something along the lines of "Isn't having the same expression all the time the same as being completely expressionless?"
    • Played with in Fate/stay night. Rin Tohsaka pretends to be a wonderful honor student, kind and good at everything. However, underneath that is someone selfish who can't get up in the morning and gets angry easily. But that's a bit of a Jerkass Facade because under that is a genuinely kind person who thinks that they need to be a heartless jerk like magi are supposed to be. And under that is an immensely guilty layer over her estranged sister Sakura because, while she doesn't know much about the Matou family, she knows they're not nice people. She simply underestimates how much. This final layer is finally uncovered in the Heaven's Feel path instead of merely being hinted at.
      • Also Ilya. Oddly enough, she doesn't actually fool Shirou for very long despite doing what seems to be a pretty good acting job.
      • Sakura is also like this (as shown in the Heaven's Feel route), due to years of sexual/physical abuse by her adoptive brother Shinji, coupled with her grandfather's torturous Training from Hell. In her backstory, she went from Extreme Doormat to Stepford Smiler once she fell in love with Shirou.
    • Souji and Mie in Suika. Souji actually admires this about Mie and is determined to turn her slightly fake smiles into realer ones.
    • Shiori from Kanon reveals that she is a Depressed Type version of this trope with the line, "Was I... able to smile most the time?"

    Web Comics

    • Erika in Megatokyo, while currently a Deadpan Snarker as well as a Badass Action Girl, was a voice actress and Idol Singer in her day, and still can't bear the thought of her fans thinking of her as anything but upbeat and bubbly. Dom calls her out on it by showing that even in the midst of a rampage of rabid fans and excessive taunting by him, she feels a need to keep her smile going.
    • Grace from El Goonish Shive seems to be veering into Depressed Type territory, with occasional powerful beings advising some help before she pops on over to Insane Type.
    • Shroomy from Electric Wonderland has a cheery and naive demeanor undermined by depression caused from continuously crushed hopes.
    • In The Non Adventures of Wonderella Rita is tied up by a super-intelligent gorilla who boasts that his empathic helmet will give him the insight into humans he needs to take over. After hearing in a story in which her emotions fluctuate while she remains smiling, he's told that human ladies are supposed to keep smiling all the time, no matter how they feel. He responds by throwing away the helmet, and possibly giving up on wanting anything to do with humans.

    Web Original

    • Aki of Sailor Nothing starts out as one, repressing her real emotions to fit in with the popular group at school. After she's exposed, she drops the act but has a hard time adjusting to being a normal person.
    • Rhianna von Adolph from Open Blue. A Knife Nut in charge of the special operations department of The Empire's intelligence agency.
    • Clara's smiling, friendly demeanor hides a criminally neglectful mother and a treacherous backstabber who creates an alternate character to attack Vork and makes out with a man Codex is interested in.
    • In Arcana Magi, Reya Everheart is an Empty Type Smiler thanks to her therapy sessions.
    • In a Played for Laughs example, The Nostalgia Chick has an element of this about her, even though she's not evil and mostly a Jerkette With A Heart Of Gold. This comes up mostly when she reveals something nasty about her childhood and then has a big, happy smile on her face a few seconds later.

    Western Animation

    • Berry from the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "Berry Scary". She at first appeared overly cutesy and kind, especially around Bloo, who she had fallen in love with, but when faced with obstacles to her perceived "relationship" with Bloo, she dropped the cutesy persona and went off on bouts of jealous rage. Her mask eventually cracked at the end of the episode, when Bloo finally spelled it out for her:

    Bloo: Whoa whoa whoa, who said anything about love, Heather?
    Berry: MY NAME IS BERRY!!!

    • Lois in the Christmas Episode of Family Guy tries mightily to salvage Christmas despite her family's efforts to the contrary, climaxing in a nervous breakdown over missing wash towels and an epic freakout.
      • That might be a Take That or Shout-Out to The Simpsons Christmas episode wherein all they're left with is a washcloth, which Marge uses to play keep-away with the family.
      • Meg: She goes to town with this trope.
    • The brainwashed Joo Dees (shares initials with Jane Doe) from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Mentally, they're practically Stepford Wives. Of the government.
      • Also Ty Lee. At least some of her cheerful and perky attitude is a ruse to keep Azula happy, at least before she betrays her.
      • Hama the friendly old lady who befriends Katara in the 3rd season. She first appears as a kind but slightly eerie and mysterious old woman. Later we find out that she's a Waterbender, and that she's only living in the Fire Nation because she was captured from the South Pole, imprisoned with other Waterbenders, and prevented from bending her native element for years. She escaped by bending a guard's body fluids, turning him into a People Puppet, and forcing him to unlock her cell. This alone would have been justifiable and wouldn't have made her into a villain. But then we find out that she's been living in the Fire Nation for years just to exact revenge on innocent civilians, capturing them with the same technique she used on the guards. Then, when the Gaang tried to stop her, she started People Puppetteering Aang and Sokka and threatening to make them kill each other. Katara (who had been unwillingly learning the art of "Bloodbending" from Hama) was forced to Bloodbend the old woman to save her friends and Hama's town.
    • Bloberta Puffington, Orel's mother from Moral Orel, exemplifies the psychotic version of this trope. "Ah, yarn... yarn... yarn ! YARN ! YAAARRRNNN--... Welcome home, dear !"
      • Hell, everyone in Moralville, who as a whole are more concerned with the appearance of faith then actually following it. A few get better. Most, probably, do not. The fact that this is based on the creator's childhood experiences is depressing.
    • While Pinkie's smiles are usually genuinely happy, she temporarily becomes a major Insane Type in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Party of One".
    • Marge Simpson of The Simpsons has repeatedly been portrayed this way, commenting on bottling up her feelings and staying with Homer "no matter what" after he does something truly horrible. Lisa has pointed this out on at least one occasion. This has become more and more relevant as the show has descended into unrepentant farce, to the point that one episode even has Marge admitting that she only stays with Homer for appearances sake, due to the fact that everyone else in Springfield is single, divorced, or in a marriage hit by marital infidelity and as such, the entire town consider Homer and Marge's marriage to be a roaring success in comparison.
      • Depends on what episode you're watching. A lot of episodes go out of their way to prove that Marge and Homer do still love each other. The show thrives on Negative Continuity, after all...
        • One very early episode shows Marge was taught to be one of these by her mother as she tries to make Lisa the same way in hope that if they pretend to be happy, they'll be happy after a while. However, when Marge sees Lisa actually starting to step into the role and how others start to take advantage of it, she gets angry, whisks her away and takes back her advice. Perhaps it could be said that in the series in general Marge has a tiny bit too much will left to stay in this role consistently.
      • It's worth noting that Marge being in this trope is a direct result of the writers amping up Homer's Jerkass qualities. You could accuse Marge of being a Stepford Smiler in regards to Homer even in the show's early days, but a number of episodes have her well-aware of his faults and calling him on it when appropriate. One episode has her say that she sees something in Homer a lot of others don't. Essentially, she looks past his anger, dimness, and other faults to see a generally good guy, which is how he was portrayed back then. However, when the writers started making Homer increasingly stupid and constantly a jerk (as opposed to in fits of anger or simply not knowing better)... well, Marge came to embody this trope.
      • Lindsey Naegel (aka the businesswoman) appears to be, on the surface, a powerful and successful woman who's sophisticated demeanor hides a dark side (she's a self-admitted sexual predator) and is a functional alcohallic.
    • Hey Arnold!: Helga's older sister Olga is a Depressed Type version of this. She looks perfect on first glance, being very good at academics, music, has a personality many consider pleasant, and is considered very beautiful. However, with enough pressure this facade of perfection can crack revealing a young woman that's dangerously neurotic and melodramatic due to having to live up to her parents' constant attention and enormously high standards. In Olga's own words to her sister Helga: "You're lucky they [their parents] don't even notice you."
    • Later on Home Movies, the rather joyful character Melissa was revealed to be type A, longing for her absent mother to come home and imagines a storybook style reuniting with her despite that her mother may not even wanted her in the first place.
    • Heloise of Jimmy Two-Shoes is an Insane Type.
    • A Slappy Squirrel short on Animaniacs had one in the form of neighborly Candy Chipmunk, who hid her neuroses and obsession with neatness and perfection with a perky facade. Needless to say, Slappy's mental torment quickly strips her of her smile and reduces her to a nervous wreck- all over an argument over recycling.
    • Eve from Alpha and Omega is an Insane Type version of this trope. She is basically a Mama Bear with a creepy smile who is practically caring to her family to the point that she would make death threats towards anyone who would hurt her pups in any way. Even though it comes off as scary to the other wolves including her own family, it comes off as becoming completely hilarious otherwise.

    Male Examples


    • That creepy Bob fellow in those commercials for Enzyte's "natural male enhancement". If you can't quite seem to figure out just what he's smiling about from the Double Entendre laden narration, give it time.
    • The Burger King from the Burger King advertisements is a particularly disturbing example (it could be that he's wearing an actual mask though...).
    • How about the guy in the Axe commercials? He turns into chocolate and all the girls in town go crazy and take bites out of him, and all the while he sports that insanely creepy perpetual grin and wide eyes.
      • AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!! ;-;
    • This commercial for

    Anime and Manga

    • Several, but most notably, Tatsunosuke, Suzu, and Tetsunosuke in Peacemaker Kurogane.
      • Okita "I smile constantly, love candy, play with the neighborhood kids, am pretty much a male Yamato Nadeshiko wife to Hijikata, and am pretty much the most terrifying swordsman in all of Japan" Souji. Okita "I've been killing since I was eight and don't appear to actually regret it" Souji. That man's a TEXTBOOK Stepford Smiler!
        • This may be why his Gintama counterpart keeps trying to murder Hijikata.
    • The villainous Seta Sojirou, The Dragon of Rurouni Kenshin's best known story arc, also fits here -- a cheerful young person who's capable of incredible violence because he has no soul or conscience behind the mask. (Or at least that's what he thinks.) He actually started doing this because it stopped his family from abusing him if he didn't appear bothered by it.
      • As for his reasons? Soujiro was constantly beaten as a child by his family due to being an illegitimate child, and learned to smile as a defense mechanism to get them to stop. He did this so much that he subconsciously repressed all his emotions, projecting nothing but a pleasant smile, even as he kills people. As a swordsman, this makes him virtually impossible to read and predict, and in addition to his speed and natural talent with the sword, this makes him a very dangerous opponent. This all changes when Soujiro battles Kenshin for the second time: Kenshin's worldview clashes with Soujiro's, irritating him to the point where his emotions finally return to the surface, causing him to break down in confusion. This state of emotional turmoil is what allows Kenshin to finally defeat him.
      • And again, Okita Souji, in the brief times he appears to interact with Kenshin and Saito Hajime. This is the popular portrayal of him in Japanese fiction in general, and it has been stated by one of his descendants that he did indeed smile frequently. (This is probably because Sojirou's character was based on Okita Souji.)
      • On that note, Kenshin himself. He hides the guilt and shame over his checkered past (and hides his temper) behind a cheerful and laid-back persona. Common for Walking the Earth Retired Badass types.
    • Ichimaru Gin of Bleach is an Insane Type that hides a cruel and sadistic personality behind a set of perpetually closed eyes and a dumb grin.
      • Add to that that apparently he served Aizen for a hundred years just to be in position to betray him at the last minute in order to avenge Aizen's wronging Matsumoto (he stole part of her soul) when they were children. She doesn't remember and moves on. He doesn't say anything and keeps his revenge. And he waited waaaay too long. So add a couple pounds of psychosis and Starscream to that description.
      • Hirako Shinji, too - he's hardly ever seen not smiling, and when he isn't it's because he's either really angry or something unsettling just happened. That man has been through a load of crap, and is probably in need of some counseling. Not as much as some other characters, but still...
    • You Takami from Deadman Wonderland seems to be one of the friendlier people in the prison/themepark, but he's not above stealing the antidote for Ganta's poison, taking someone's entire ear for their earring, selling out ditzy possible Dark Action Girl Shiro to the guards, and killing his own father, although the last part was because he thought he was protecting his sister. Then again he doubted that his dad could've really raped her so one wonders exactly what kind of person You was before being imprisoned.
      • Actually, his little sister, Minatsuki, killed their father. He even asks, upon her about to Back Stab him with her Branch Of Sin, if 'this is how you killed out father?'
      • After his confrontation with Minatsuki, he actually starts becoming happier/more content, and babies the hell out of his little sister, which is pretty strange considering that Minatsuki is an Ax Crazy, Psycho for Hire, Combat Pragmatist Blood Knight who is a very experienced killer and has been a Combat Sadomasochist for the last 5 to 10 years. However, this change seems to coincide with the fact that Minatsuki mellows out from outright sociopathic killer to just Sociopathic Heroine because of her interactions with Ganta and You. That said... if you threaten Minatsuki, You will probably try to beat you up, but if you piss Minatsuki off, she will probably tear your head off. Literally. Nuff said.
    • It's been implied at this point that Takuto Tsunashi of Star Driver, up to this point a typical kind, cheerful, Badass Idiot Hero with a bit of Cloudcuckoolander mixed in, at the very least has some Hidden Depths that are... well, not nice, at the very least (and at the most, this is all a facade and he's completely SCREWED UP) if these implications are to be believed. Knowing Yoji Enokido, these are probably going to be fully explored by the time the series is over.
    • Intrepid Reporter Wolfgang Grimmer, from Monster, a rare male version of the mask as the only personality. The fact that sometimes he snaps in a Hulk-like killer alterego with no memories afterwards doesn't help his case, although he pleads childhood abuse and unethical assassin training. However, he's also one of the rare good examples of this trope, genuinely wanting to do the right thing, and as his role in the series progresses it seems like the emotions he displays grow more genuine.
      • In fact, Johan's own ability to project a happy, kind, innocent and childlike demeanor worthy of a cherub, other than for purposes of manipulation and as a cover for his true sociopathic nature, doubles as a mask for covering up his dark past, spent in the orphanages of the Communist bloc.
      • Also, Johan's muscle and pawn, Roberto, harbors an extremely creepy Stepford Smile, as seen here. Let's just say that it's a common trait amongst Kinderheim alumni...
    • Fay/Fai from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle has traits of the Stepford Smiler, though by the time the series rows The Beard/Jumped the Shark this has begun to crack and continues to do so as more and more time passes.
      • Even before the series hit It Got Worse territory in the Acid Tokyo arc, in Outo Country Kurogane had blatantly told Fay he knew he was hiding something. During the Celes arc we find out just what he had been hiding. We learn about his past and that his real name isn't Fay, but Yuui; Fay was the name of his identical twin who sacrificed himself to let Yuui live... but Yuui thought he killed his brother. That's not all, either. Fay has other dark secrets we learn about. No wonder he tried to hide behind a smile.
    • Chichiri from Fushigi Yuugi has a literal mask that helps him pull off the goofy, care-free smile; it's a significant plot-point when he takes it off to relay his tragic backstory.
    • Yuki Sohma from Fruits Basket is so terrified of being rejected by his peers that he uses his numerous skills (martial arts, good looks, charisma, etc.) to hide the inferiority complex that Parental Abandonment and Akito's Mind Rape gave him.
    • Souichirou Arima from Kare Kano is, at the beginning, as much of a Stepford Smiler as his girlfriend Yukino is. Except that while Yukino does it out of obsession with her own image and is a bit of a Butt Monkey for that, Arima does it to prove himself a worthy person after hearing his relatives wonder if his parents' bad traits may be passed on to him even after they left him to be adopted by his uncle and aunt after years of neglect, and also because of the abuse doled on him by his birth mother.
    • Trigun's Vash the Stampede combines this with Obfuscating Stupidity to create Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass so that nobody realizes just how dangerous he is, or what horrific memories and experiences he lives with every day. In the whole anime series, only Nicholas D. Wolfwood is able to see right through Vash's act - in his first episode, Nicholas shares some food with a pair of hungry children while Vash watches, then tells Vash that he looks good with a real smile on his face, not the fake one he's been showing.
      • Wolfwood has the advantage of inside information. The old Professor among the Last Unfallen humans, who's known him for decades, can also read through this kind of thing, although Vash doesn't try it so much with him. Stuff like bickering childishly with Wolfwood apparently reads as 'real' to both these parties.
      • Manga!Millie, who's dumbfounded by this, eventually compares Vash's fake smile with the grey colour you obtain when you mix paints of all colours.
        • That's in Maximum #39 'Colorless Emotions,' the first time Vash reflexively uses the angel arm to block a bullet in a relatively casual gunfight. (Read: the people trying to kill him aren't plot-related characters.) Meryl cracks up briefly at seeing it after the trauma she had last time he used it, and the townspeople conclude he's a demon and start stoning him. Wolfwood snarls at them. Crowning Moment Of Heartbreaking:

    Millie: Vash! I don't understand. What's happening? What's wrong? When it's as hard as can still keep smiling like that?!
    Vash: [Beat panel, still smiling.] What other expression should I make? I don't know anymore.

      • Nicholas D. Wolfwood himself thrives on this trope, although it's clear almost from the beginning he is a dark, conflicted, and potentially angsty character.
      • And let's not forget that in the manga, young Knives managed to hide his feelings of agony and murderous hatred from Vash and Rem by having fun with them just as usual, making crepes while smiling and laughing, claiming to go all 'business as usual' because he had to go on with his life etc.
    • Cho Hakkai from Saiyuki qualifies, as he smiles constantly even while fighting, despite his angsty past which includes but is not limited to killing over 1000 demons to rescue his lover Kanan (who is really his twin sister), then watching Kanan kill herself with his sword because she was raped and impregnated by a demon, then to top it off, becoming a demon himself. Whew. His companions note that whenever he actually does stop smiling and looks angry, it's extremely scary.
      • Manages to overlap with Slasher Smile without changing his expression. Creeeeepy.
    • Shuusuke Fuji of The Prince of Tennis was a bit like this due to the problems with his younger brother Yuuta that caused him to bear a huge guilt. He starts acting more genuinely cheerful when he and Yuuta patch their relationship.
    • In Tokyo Mew Mew, Masaya Aoyama is revealed to be one of these, keeping up his "perfect" mask to hide the fact that he hates all of humanity. Ironically, most of the fandom seems to ignore this, taking his Smiler-ness as both his true personality and an excuse to pair Ichigo up with someone else.
    • Russia from Axis Powers Hetalia is an Insane Type. He was, at first, a not 100% stable but still generally pleasant nation. The Bloody Sunday incident in 1905 finally makes him snap. It says in the manga that while he's always smiling, his eyes are not.
      • Prussia in the christmas strips is "So happy being alone". Really.
      • APH Dark Fic often interpret characters as fitting this trope, especially the most loudly cheerful and dense ones like America, Italy, and South Korea, considering that just about every single nation has had their fair share of brutal historical events in real-life. In all fanfictions with darker themes with Italy as a character, he will be a Depressed Type. Guaranteed. No exceptions.
        • Since APH is based on world history, (with one of its initial lead characters being freaking Nazi Germany with a swastika armband), all its characters are all prone to act like sociopaths from time to time, because the community of nations has never, ever been civilized or characterized by good faith. Considering the Lighter and Softer tone of the manga, however, this is greatly overblown by Fanon, which in its tries to accommodate canon to more Real Life-like history ends up more often than not making the characters fall victim to lots of OOC behavior rather than finding a medium.
    • Tohma Seguchi of Gravitation initially seems to be a polite, mild-mannered man until he shows other characters just how far he's willing to go to protect his brother-in-law Eiri, which includes pushing a man in front of a car and making Eiri break up with Shuichi by threatening to hurt Shuichi if he didn't do so. All while smiling calmly. He stops smiling for more than one panel only when he's in full-on Yandere mode.
      • In the manga sequel, Tohma seems to have shifted from a mostly Empty Type to an Insane Type. He holds an axe over a comatose Shuichi, threatening to kill him if he doesn't wake up. He does this while still maintaining a huge smile. He's completely Insane Type in the 10th volume when he comes face to face with Yoshiki Kitazawa.
      • Tohma's younger cousin, Suguru Fujisaki, is also a Stepford Smiler early on. At least until Shuichi's lazy work schedule gets to him and Suguru ends up panicking about how the band will ever finish its next album instead of worrying about maintaining a smiling appearance. He still has moments where he forces a smile, like when Tohma confronts Suguru in his office about who will be paying for the destruction of NG.
    • Kaito Kuroba/Kaitou KID from Magic Kaito thrives on his use of "Poker Face", an important skill taught to him by his father when he was young. Kaito's poker face (both as Kaito and KID) is pretty much always some variation of a smirk, and he rarely lets it drop even when things go wrong. Let's put it this way: if Kaitou KID ever stops smiling, everything has Gone Horribly Wrong.
    • Oz Vessalius from Pandora Hearts determined to keep perky and optimistic no matter what life throws at him. Said life keeping a good record by hurling issues of Parental Hate, Tick Tock of Death, and being Barrier Lad. Seeing that Oz still smiles, apparently life needs to try harder
      • Break in the same vein is also one. Then again, having the family that you tried to save end up dying even at the cost of losing your eye is enough to shock someone into faking smiles forever. A combination of Depressed and Empty Types, and he never lets the smile fall except when he's close to his breaking point.
      • Vincent Nightray is an Insane Type.
      • Jack is an Insane Type. He puts up the friendly, smiling act and asks little questions so the Baskervilles won't keep him away from Lacie, and following Lacie's death, he continues this routine with Glen/Oswald so he can lower the latter's guard and learn more about the Abyss in order to bring Lacie back.
    • Oh so many people in Code Geass. Lelouch Lamperouge and Suzaku Kururugi, to start. Lelouch is an Empty Type (seems kind and cheery, but is hollow and futile inside), at least initially, and Suzaku becomes a Depressed Type (seems kind and cheery, but feels sad and depressed) over the course of the series.
    • In Katekyo Hitman Reborn, the Big Bad of the TYL arc, Byakuran, is a Stepford Smiler who currently has shown no other expression other than his smile.
    • Magi's Jamil is a good example. He's all smiles on the outside, but quickly reveals himself to be a sword-happy Insane Type
    • Naruto himself. He smiles near-constantly, which, during his childhood, was to mask the sadness of his lonely life. Those who are closest to him are able to recognize when his smile isn't genuine (which is, surprising enough considering his personality, almost all the time). He will tend to mask his pain with a smile, such as when he promises Sakura to bring back Sasuke for her before and after the retrieval mission. He even admitted to Hinata that the smile is a mask, and Pain put him on the ropes by breaking him down with words, getting him to second guess his own actions. Before the Chunin exams finals, he admitted that he viewed himself as a loser and tried to act cool and brash to cope with this.
      • From the same series, Sai. As part of his indoctrination into Danzo's forces, all of his emotions were stripped away until he was emotionally empty. When assigned to Naruto's team he tried to teach himself how to smile in order to pass himself off as normal, but Naruto easily saw through it. He still has trouble understanding and feeling emotions, but he's getting better... He will never be normal, but who wants normal?
      • Iruka was a mild example during his childhood (after his parents' deaths).
      • Mizuki shows signs of being an Insane Type , especially in his Monster of the Week arc.
      • Itachi's gentle and loving, if somewhat distant, attitude in Sasuke's flashbacks before the massacre count as an Insane Type. Can probably be considered Depressed Type once we learn the truth about him.
    • Future Trunks definitely. In his first appearance, he's friendly to the Z Warriors and is polite to a fault with them. However, he comes from a horrible future where every main character is dead. Made worse because his father Vegeta apparently ignored him, though at the end he leaves at peace.
      • Part of the Dragonball Z fandom sees Gohan as this, post-Cell Saga. Considering what the poor guy went through, it's not hard to understand why.
    • Monkey D. Luffy is thought of this by a good portion of the One Piece fandom because of his relentless optimism considering all of the terrible things that have happened to him in the past. But the main reading is still that he's just that stupid.
      • Also, the three princes of the Ryuugu kingdom (Fukaboshi, Ryuuboshi, and Mamboshi). The three are seen smiling and, in the last two's s case, singing and dancing in a last attempt to keep their little sister Shirahoshi calm... after all four of them just witnessed their mother Otohime being shot and dying.
      • Also thought to be this are the Boa sisters and some of the other slaves of the Celestial Dragons.
    • Game X Rush has smiling, laughing, charming Yuuki, who's hiding a treasure-trove of Capital-I-Issues in his head. Memori reflects that "Even a face laced with a tiny bit of pain... is a thousand times better than seeing that mask." It's implied that a large part of Yuuki's impetuous to stay around Memori is that Memori can discern the real smiles from Yuki just being a Sad Clown.
    • Sasame from Prétear is an example of this in both the manga and anime, but particularly the anime. Outwardly he's jovial and flirty, as well as always willing to be a listening ear to anyone who has problems—while keeping his own problems a secret. Inwardly, he suffers from an extreme amount of guilt and anger over Takako becoming a Dark Magical Girl, because he was in love with her but kept silent. The manga only briefly touches on this, but in the anime he becomes so obsessed with Takako that he performs a Face Heel Turn so he can stay by her side. Until The Reveal, nobody catches on, even when has brief moments of his mask slipping.
    • Mahou Sensei Negima: Negi Springfield himself. Like Tohru, he is genuinely kind and sweet, but it's made very clear that that his Roaring Rampage of Revenge and transformation into a One-Winged Angel didn't come out of nowhere. Bear in mind, Negi is ten.
    • The titular Hayate the Combat Butler. Recent chapters/episodes have implied that his kindness and decency are coping mechanisms he developed to cope with the harsh, nay, downright vicious realities of his life rather than his fundamental personality.
    • Certain chapters and episodes of Student Council's Discretion imply that Ken's happy-go-lucky persona is a defence mechanism to keep him from a severe emotional trauma from back in junior high, and not his actual personality.
    • Durarara!!: Kida is not naturally that cheerful — it's a front he puts up for Mikado's sake.
    • Tragically enough, Zero of Kurohime has been a Depressed Type since the beginning of the manga.
    • Xellos from Slayers. A case where the Stepford Smiler hides a Slasher Smile.
    • Tokidoki Rikugou of Amatsuki is a Depressed type.
    • Yuki Giou of Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru clearly has some issues of self-worth stemming from being abandoned by his parents when he was real young. However, if someone should ask him if he's doing alright he usually gives them a cheerful smile and says "nothing's wrong" but tends to get depressed if he's by himself.
    • Okami in Code Breaker initially seems to be successfully pulling Obfuscating Stupidity on his class with his Nice Guy persona. However, one chapter has several classmates wanting to cheer him up, commenting that he seems to be very sad but putting on a happy front for their benefit.
      • The lead... no, all of the Code: Breakers, seeing as they're super-powered Ax Crazies put to good use by the government (or something).
    • Tamaki Suoh from Ouran High School Host Club is this. He has to live with the knowledge that he'll never be the heir to the Suoh dynasty, that his grandmother despises him simply because of birth circumstances (his father married a lower-status French woman instead of the arranged girl) and that he may never amount to anything famous. Until the last two episodes of the anime, he covers it up remarkably well, mostly by holding ostentatious events with the host club. We also hear about it during Kyouya's backstory, when he explains how he and Tamaki became friends and started the host club.
    • Kumagawa Misogi of Medaka Box manages to oscillate between all three types somehow. From his first appearance it is obvious, that his smiling and cheerful appearance not so much hides his evil and insanity, as is cultivated to disturb his opponents even more (Insane Type ). Kumagawa's former doctor believed that he really had no emotions at all (Empty Type ), until at one point he got actually enraged to the point of losing control (again folding to Insane Type ). And it is quite believable (not thanks to his Motive Rant, as he's a compulsive liar, but thanks to the track record of this manga so far), that he is also an extremely embittered and twisted example of type A.
    • Gon of Hunter X Hunter is hinted at being this.
      • He's also a deconstruction of shonen heroes, and possible a rare type of psychopath with fascinatingly Player Centered Morality (i.e. "This serial killer helped us learn a lot by fighting us, so I'll show him mercy in good, shonen-hero style, even when you point out that he will go kill more young women and eat them if set free. Because he helped us.") It puts the manga-trained reader into the weirdest headspace after a while.
      • Well his best friend Killua has killed possibly hundreds of people in the past. Gon himself, in the life of a Hunter, will probably have to kill someone at some point. Its hard to condemn someone for killing when doing so will make you a hypocrite.
        • During the Ant Arc he kind of snaps. No past-pain comes into it, though. Just his failure that got someone important to him killed and his determination to be revenged.
        • And Hisoka is a rather crazy Monster Clown and frequently wears a smile on his face.
    • Ryou Bakura of Yu-Gi-Oh is one of these. When he first appeared in the manga, the Millennium Ring was giving him chest pains, but he covered it up so people wouldn't find him strange. He overall acts incredibly cheerful most of the time, but he also hides his problems, which is pretty bad for the protagonists. Yami Bakura, however, takes advantage of this, as he often pretends to be the normal Bakura so he can carry out his evil plans on the quiet, meaning he does this on purpose.
      • He ambiguously stops existing at some point in the third season for no particular reason. His friends apparently do not care. Or notice. Or something. He kept turning into the crazy guy so they couldn't trust him, and the pharaoh decided killing him was acceptable given the threat to the world, so maybe he committed soul suicide. Or just retired to his soul room forever.
    • Duo Maxwell from Gundam Wing is a Depressed Type who seems to be upbeat (and snarky), but really is traumatized by the war and losing many people who were close to him.
      • Duo is the most cynical pilot by some way, and also the only one who doesn't seem to have something childlike about him, although he's the one who seems the most childish on first meeting. He hasn't been sheltered, trained, or broken, just hurt and rolled with the punches; he's almost certainly the most stable of the five of them. Cynics are hard to surprise, after all. So... questionable, despite Duo Torture being a major hobby of the fandom.
        • Despite being weird, the English dub that made him sound forty wasn't the worst casting choice ever.
    • Kei Yuzuki from the second Vampire Princess Miyu OAV is a good Empty Type. He hides his boredom with life in general, his feelings of inferiority towards his more academically-successful siblings and his apathy towards his Education Mama's constant pressure under a polite, soft-spoken, beautiful White Prince mask.
      • Also Lemures from the third OAV, who appears to be a helpful Dandy in his human form, but is soon revealed to be a scary Insane Type and a Yandere for his old friend Larva, whom he has kidnapped and imprisoned in hopes to free him from Miyu.
    • Lavi. Or perhaps in this case we should say Bookman Junior, since "Lavi" is just another one of his aliases. (He started changing once he started to get into his new role more and came close to his teammates though.) But what was the actual person like before joining the Order? During the fight with Road, Lavi gets flashbacks- what we see is a jaded and cynical young man who has lost all the faith in humanity, who doesn't give a damn about anything. He socializes with people only because it helps him to get information more easily ("Let's be frivolous and friendly like always"), face all smiles, not being a bit like Keet we know he is in the series. It's even mentioned in Reverse Novel 2 how his eyes seemed dead when he first came to Black Order.
      • But when you consider his past, is it any wonder he turned out like that? After all, growing up while recording wars and seeing bloodshed wherever you go isn't exactly the happiest childhood there is. To sum it up: Bookman Junior is Stepford Smiler Empty Type, perhaps a bit milder version since he's not totally soulless, maybe a bit hollow, yes, but not empty. After becoming Lavi, his fake smiles have started slowly turn into genuine ones.

    "1 year...2 years...The time within the order passed on. I soon came to the point where I didn't know whether my smiling face was a lie or not."

      • Some interpretations of Allen's character. Allen tends to smile and throw out optimistic and enthusiastic support at the drop of a hat when around his friends, but whenever he's alone he tends to be either beating himself up, wallowing in some deserved self-pity, or worrying about his entire freaking existence.
    • Ewon from the manhwa Totally Captivated. He smiles, he's friendly, and he will be an Extreme Doormat... until you push him too far. But he's been so utterly and completely broken as a child that if you dig a layer beneath his engaging exterior he's basically an Empty Shell. As a result, he's pretty damn promiscuous, and will shy away from any serious relationship. Fast (this may coincide with the promiscuity bit).
    • Narusawa of Jazz is an Empty Type , having absolutely no life outside of being a doctor as that was all his parents cared about. The only thing he seems be passionate about is jazz music and only mildly so.
    • In Akuma to Love Song, Yuusuke epitomizes type A, and even calls it "Lovely Transformation."
    • Amasawa of The Weatherman Is My Lover is a Depressed Type, as in spite of his outgoing and eccentric personality he secretly never got over the guilt of his parents' deaths and lives a really isolated existence as a result.
    • Miroku from Inuyasha is a Depressed Type as well. He's cursed with a miniature black hole in his right hand that's constantly expanding and will eventually consume him along with everything around him and tends to hide any worries and fears about it behind a mask of cheerfulness and lecherousness.
    • Mikael from Tenshi ni Narumon is a weird mix of Depressed and Insane Type. He usually tries to act all calm, cool and composed - like in the first 13 episodes of the series - smiling gently when talking to Noelle and being all nice and polite when dealing with her family. But when his teacher, Raphael showed up, it turned out that Mikael, when indoors, is just a very serious, uptight and insecure boy. And then he went all insane and evil when things didn't go as he planned and ended up just pathetically broken. Fortunately, he got better and returned to his uptight and highly anxious self.
    • Tetsudo "Poppo" Hisakawa from Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day is a Depressed Type version. He's a happy, cheerful guy who loves to travel the world, but that is to cover up the guilt over his inability to save Menma from drowning over 10 years prior to the main story.
    • Yami no Matsuei: Tsuzuki appears cheerful and childish, but in fact is a woobie with many issues.
    • Shouma Takakura from Mawaru Penguindrum is a male Yamato Nadeshiko, but in the novels he describes himself as a textbook Empty Type.

    Shouma: "I’ve always thought I was a more pathetic and helpless person than I seem to be on the outside."

    • Togainu no Chi: Keisuke has shades of this in Episode 5 where he smiles at Akira despite it being clear he is disturbed by what Akira had done. Naturally, Akira calls him out on it.
      • Rin could count as a Depressed Type, though instead of depression he mainly wants to kill Shiki out of vengeance.
    • Andrea Cavalcanti/Benedetto in Gankutsuou is an effortlessly charming man who smiles sweetly at all times who happens to also be a crazy wild-eyed rapist with daddy issues.
    • Serge Battour of Kaze to Ki no Uta has shades of this. He's every bit as sweet and friendly as he appears to be, but there is more to him than he lets on.
    • Karakuridouji Ultimo: Rune is a Insane Type.
    • Alois Trancy of Black Butler is an Insane Type.
    • Shion of No. 6 is hinted at being this. He smiles constantly and is generally very cheerful and sweet but he's also hinted to have a suppressed Yandere side to him. Beware the Nice Ones indeed.
    • Loki and Cain of Reimei no Arcana.
    • Kiniro No Corda: Yunoki.
    • Soubi of Loveless is a pretty extreme Empty Type. He seems happy and cheerful, but is actually an Extreme Doormat whose been essentially conditioned into only existing to obey his master. Given his background, he could arguably count as a type a, as well.
    • Kotetsu from Tiger and Bunny is implied to hide feelings of worthlessness and unhappiness with his life under his Hot-Blooded Adult Child demeanor. Word of God supports this, stating that Kotetsu exaggerates his behavior as a means of putting people off of him (because he doesn't think he's worth worrying over), that he's never fully sorted out the emotional baggage anti-NEXT discrimination's saddled him with, and that he was on the verge of major depression at the beginning of the series.
    • Kaworu Nagisa of Neon Genesis Evangelion seems to fit this trope as well. He's always smiling, but in reality, he just wants the world's end. It Got Better for a while, but shortly after, It Got Worse.
      • Also, Ryouji Kaji, who was smiling calmly in the very moment he was shot to death
      • Shinji: For most of the series he walks around quietly with a little smile on his face, even when it becomes clear he's dying inside.
    • Akio of Revolutionary Girl Utena at times when you look at his past as Dios and how he became the smiling suave person he is today.
    • Glemmy Toto of Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ initially appears to be a Laughably Evil Noble Demon with a quirky sense of humour and some other odd, but charming behaviours. He's actually a deeply screwed-up kid who has no loyalty to his boss, Haman Khan, is out to manipulate his way into power and doesn't particularly care who gets hurt in the process. His crush on Roux goes from cute to twisted very fast, he's implied to have some warped sexual preferences, and several of his lines imply that behind the cheerful facade he is screaming on the inside. Being a clone of Gihren Zabi will do that to a guy.
    • Koizumi Itsuki from Haruhi Suzumiya always keeps a constant smile and a cheerful attitude, regardless of how much is Haruhi casting upon the Universe. Granted, he's still mostly sane and calm, but his Stepfordness always creeps Kyon out to no end. But when his smile disappears... you better start fearing the worst! He actually expresses an open jealousy towards Mikuru and all the other members of the SOS brigade, because he has to keep a facade of his true personality to fit Haruhi's expectations of his, while the rest do not (aside of Mikuru's Obfuscating Stupidity). Worse yet, he's so good at his Stepford Smiling that it's hard to tell what type he actually is.
      • At points in the novel it's made pretty clear that Itsuki's finding it difficult to keep smiling, such as in volume 9 he's been unable to sleep well for a lengthy period of time due to constant closed space activity, appearing exhausted and using a rather forced version of the usual grin, which falls off if he isn't concentrating. What is he really thinking? Who knows, it's the one thing he doesn't really talk about. Probably.
      • To add fire to the fuel, in the eleventh novel, he cheerfully prepares to fight (and probably kill, it wasn't made clear afterwards) the novel's Big Bad. Note the word cheerfully.
    • Fullmetal Alchemist:
      • Shou Tucker appears to be a kind, gentle man, but in reality is insane enough to transmute his daughter and his pet dog into a chimera.
      • Selim Bradley from the manga and Brotherhood anime is a sweet little boy. He can't be dangerous or evil, right? WRONG! He's actually Pride, the eldest of the homunculi.
      • The Dwarf in the Flask, later known as Father, needed to be this to fool Van Hohenheim into going along with his plans.
    • Griffith of Berserk is an excellent commander, a masterful swordsman, graceful, elegant, and charismatic. He's also got serious problems, mostly involving his greatest warrior Guts. When Guts leaves the Hawks, it starts a downward spiral for Griffith that would culminate in the betrayal of all the Hawks in order to become Femto during the Eclipse as well as his monstrous rape of Casca.
    • Oh, Fai D. Fluorite.. Look at you.

    Comic Books

    • Ken in The Sandman collection, The Doll House. He lives with a woman named Barbie, and while she has depth that is later revealed, he's a creepy Bateman-esque living Ken Doll.
      • Boss Smiley from World's End is, as one can deduce from his name, an exaggerated example.
    • In Transmetropolitan, one of the presidential candidates is known as 'The Smiler', and is shown as willing to kill just about anyone, including his wife, to improve his ratings.
    • Garfield Logan is a mix of Deprerssed and Insane types; with profound self esteem issues and a bleak future to look forward to thrown in for good measure.
      • He is always cracking jokes and acting as a class clown (particularly in the early Teen Titans comics, but later you find out that he's covering up for his sadness about all the people he's lost in his life and his fear of losing more (among other things).

    Fan Works


    "He won't stop crying."
    "And you're going to stop him by killing him?" Hastur said.
    Zirah stared at him in wide-eyed innocence. He looked puzzled.
    "Why not?"

    • In Code Geass Mao of the Deliverance, the titular character not only displays a blend of Depressed Type and Insane Type --exuding cheerfulness and cool self-satisfaction while really suffering from insanity and desperately pining after C.C.—but deliberately affects an image of wealth and taste so people won't treat him with suspicion.
    • Naruto fics that wish to portray him as secretly a badass all along tend to call his canon characterization the "idiot facade."
    • Invader Zim fanfics about Keef are pretty rare, but those that exist often portray him as having neglectful of abusive parents. Given Jhonen Vasquez' style, this is entirely plausible (compare Squee, for example.)
    • Draco Malfoy often gets this treatment in sympathetic fics that don't actually put leather pants on him. I.e., he's spent his whole life trying to be what his father expects him to be and has no idea what he is. More of a Stepford Smirker, of course, but it's entirely possible he does smile at people who aren't Harry Potter and his friends; we'd never know.
    • In the Redwall fanfic It Makes Me Happy That I'm Not Them, Swartt Sixclaw's Ironic Hell involves him being forced to become one of these. He's stuck with demonic copies of the wife and son he abused, and is forced to perpetually be the perfect husband and father figure to them. It's not really shown what'll happen if he doesn't, but considering what happens to the point-of-view character later, we can guess it's not good.
    • In the few fics that actually center around and/or care to develop Big Macintosh from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, he's generally portrayed as being a Depressed Type or B for one reason or another. Hinted at in the example below, from the heretofore-unfinished shipfic "Like I Imagined":

    Applejack glanced at her friend. "Usually he's just all plain an' sleepy-like, but sometimes he gets this look on his face like..."
    "Like?" Rarity echoed.
    "Like there's a bunch a' gears workin' in his noggin." Applejack frowned. "An' I don't much think I'd like to know what they're puttin' out."
    "Why not?" Rarity looked over, concerned.
    "'Cause when he gets like that, he looks darn near fifty." The earth pony shook her head. "It ain't right for a colt to look twice his age."



    • Coraline has the Other Wybie, who was literally made to smile despite his actual emotions. So much so, that when he expresses his disapproval through a frown, the Other Mother sews his lips into a perma-grin. The stitches are cut, but not before we see what the Joker might have looked like as a child.
    • Tim Burton's Charlie and The Chocolate Factory has Willy Wonka recast as a Stepford Smiler.
    • Norman Bates from Psycho. Outwardly smiling and charming, but oh so unwell behind the mask. It's even more unnerving because Norman himself is so unstable that he acknowledges his Stepford mask slipping on and off:

    Marion: Sometimes, we deliberately step into those traps.
    Norman: I was born into mine. I don't mind it anymore.
    Marion: Oh, but you should. You should mind it.
    Norman: Oh, I do [laughs]
    Norman: but I say I don't.

    • From the Trope Namer, the 2004 version of The Stepford Wives had a gay couple, one of whom, played by Roger Bart was a male example. The main 'leader', played by Christopher Walken was one, too. Said male leader was a robot, built and programmed as "the perfect stepford husband" by Glenn Close's character to cope with her husband's adultery, and perhaps even her murder of him.
    • Chancellor Palpatine in the Star Wars prequels. On the surface, he was the amiable Chancellor Palpatine, but below...he wasn't.
    • John Candy's character Del in Planes, Trains and Automobiles seems to be an indomitably chipper guy until it's revealed in the end that he's a deeply depressed widower.
    • In Toy Story 3:
      • The seemingly-kindly Lotso Huggin' Bear is actually a bitter old man (well, plush bear) who runs Sunnyside Daycare like a cruel prison warden, and has never gotten over being abandoned by his former owner.
      • Chuckles in Toy Mode, additionally falls under the Sad Clown trope.
      • The Chatter Telephone [dead link]. Don't let his Fisher Price sticker-happy smile fool you, he's quite tortured inside.
    • Lenny in Strange Days maintains his chipper huckster facade in public, but in private he's deeply depressed.
    • Conner Rooney in Road to Perdition smiles when he is feeling shamed or humiliated, particularly when his father shows favoritism to Michael. When Peter asks him why he's always smiling, he leans down and deadpans, "Because it's all so fucking hysterical."


    • The title character in Edward Arlington Robinson's poem "Richard Cory" is a male Stepford Smiler whose secret unhappiness isn't revealed until the last lines: "And Richard Cory, one calm summer's night,/Went home and put a bullet through his head."
    • Many of the characters in Edward Bloor's novel Tangerine definitely fit this trope. The three most glaring examples are Joey, Erik, and Paul. In fact, Erik may even be the king of this trope.
      • The genuine people in this book are found by exiting suburbia (achieved by the middle school getting sucked into hell a sinkhole and the kids being spread out) and rubbing elbows with tangerine farmers and other 'real' people.
      • The Jerk Jock trope gets interesting play in this story. Which also features good people getting unjustly struck by lightning and interesting information about citrus farming. And a viewpoint character who's caught in a Mind Screw.
    • Frank Chalmers in Red Mars Trilogy is somewhere between a Depressed and an Empty Type. Coming from a poor family, he's almost entirely consumed by his ambition to succeed. At one point he looks at his life and realizes that all of it is an facade created to impress his superiors, and that he doesn't really have a self.
    • Many of the characters from Lunar Park, by Bret Easton Ellis.
    • Discworld serial killer Carcer is deceptively cheerful and innocent-looking, with his smile putting people off guard...until they look in his eyes and see the monster behind the mask.
      • But of course then you've taken your eyes off his hands, and at least one of them is holding a knife by now.
      • He's the kind of guy who would murder a man for a loaf of bread and then stand over the corpse saying 'Who, me, guvnor?' and almost convincing you.
    • From The King in Yellow: "I wear no mask."
    • Todd Bowden from Stephen King's Apt Pupil maintains the image of a cheery all-American golden boy even while he's blackmailing the neighborhood Nazi-in-hiding into telling gruesome concentration camp stories. It's all downhill from there.
      • Harold Lauder from The Stand becomes an Insane Type after he finds Fran's diary and goes crazy. He then starts smiling to hide the fact that he hates pretty much everyone, including himself. Another character later notes that when Harold is not smiling, he looks insane.
    • Mr. Happy was like that at, at least the start of Mr. Men A Christmas Carol to help and keep Mr. Mean, happy. Ironically, this book was made shorty before The Mr. Men Show came on air...
    • X Wing Series: Ton Phanan, though we don't really get to see it until late. He's a Deadly Doctor, a Deadpan Snarker, caustic and funny and able to put aside the sarcasm in the right moments. He also feels that the cybernetics he started to get after almost being killed couldn't replace his future, which died.
    • In Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, Luke is subjected to a terrible vision of what it's like to live through the heat death of the universe; when he comes out of it he's... different. He becomes nihilistic and depressed, believing that love and friendship are just tools people use to manipulate each other, and that it's pointless to save anyone. However, he's still Luke Skywalker, and he makes the conscious decision to act exactly like he did back when he still thought life had value and meaning, in the hopes of Becoming the Mask, longing to believe the happy lies again. Eventually he does get out of that mindset.
    • In a dystopian novel by Fedor Zamyatin We the totalitarian government works towards making its subjects as machinelike as possible: perfectly scheduled and mapped lives, synchronised movements of multiple people, lack of names in favor of numbers. This agenda is ultimately crowned by "The Great Operation" in which the human brain is irradiated by rays, that completely and irreparably strip a person of his imagination. It's like Prosium on an anatomical level. One of the effects (aside from turning a human being into an obedient and ever-happy shell of a man) is a perpetual grin on the subject's face as he now thinks "smiling is a natural expression of human face".
    • A Song of Ice and Fire gives us Theon Greyjoy. Everyone comments on how he is always smiling, as if he hadn't a care in the world, and almost everyone is to some extent creeped out by it because he keeps it up even when it's grossly inappropriate and often downright morbid. Sure enough, he's got issues even he didn't knew he had, as a result of being kept as a hostage half his life in a situation where everyone maintained a polite fiction of him being a "guest" and ward—i.e., someone whose life was constantly being implicitly threatened, who was supposed to pretend he didn't know that. All things considered it's probably not too surprising he turned out to be a complete basketcase.
    • The Summoning has Simon Bae, who for his introduction in the first book seems like a totally normal, cheerful kid who just so happens to be locked up with his older brother in a group home for mentally unstable kids. No matter how gloomy and angry his brother Derek is, Simon always remains upbeat and positive, until Derek snaps at him for doing nothing to help find their missing father. This is the first thing that breaks Simon’s happy mask, and he admits that having to pretend to be content all the time when he really wants nothing more than to run away and find his dad is killing him inside.
      • And again in The Reckoning, when he takes Chloe on a date, only to discover that his suspicions about her actually having feelings for Derek and not for him are true. He admits to having ignored it so he could just keep trying, but upon finding it out for real, his smile once again breaks and he actually leaves Chloe behind in the forest to go be alone for a while.
      • Could Derek count as well? He wasn’t exactly smiling, per se, but it’s implied that he tried to hide his own feelings about Simon and Chloe’s going on a date and act like nothing was wrong...
    • The Belgariad/The Malloreon: Silk, AKA Prince Kheldar, is asked why he's always laughing at life. His answer: "If I wasn't, I'd probably be screaming at it."
    • J Alfred Prufrock attends parties and formal events to try to be accepted by his peer group but ultimately feels dead inside, and that he has never done anything significant with his life.
    • Bryce from Flipped comes off as an Empty Type to Juli's family, but is really a Depressed Type who hides how repressed he is exceedingly well.

    Live-Action TV

    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
      • The android Ted was obsessed with reliving his creator's idea of a 1950s dream marriage, albeit with the aid of narcotics. (Though an android, he's chauvinistic enough to qualify.)
      • Spike himself also falls within this stereotype; despite all of his posturing as far as being a murderous bad-ass vampire, with the body-count to back up his swaggering, the dude is still the horribly insecure, Momma's Boy Nerd who writes crappy poetry, who overcompensates for his nerdiness by acting like a big time vampire. This was most notably shown in his origin episode, which contrasted Spike's boastful tales of past exploits with flashbacks that reveal how lame he used to be, right down to revealing that his nickname "William the Bloody" originally referred to his "bloody awful poetry."
        • He's both. The above would have him be something of a... Stepford Snarker, but over the course of his Character Development and becoming a woobie he's also still an asshole. With codependency problems. He and Dru were groundbreaking for the series when introduced because they were very clearly people in addition to being monsters; Spike's whole character arc explores this. And messes with him for fun, apparently.
    • A pair of Pagan gods in the Christmas Episode of Supernatural. One was the traditional female Stepford Smiler, the other was the male variant.
      • To call them "smilers" is a gross understatement. They're more like... stepford newlyweds-who-just-found-$500-in-the-house.
      • If you know what's going to happen next, Dean comes off as a version of this trope in the supposed lighter moments of Seasons Two (the season where everything leads up to him making the demonic pact) and Three (when he has done so). Whether it's the Daddy Issues or Survivor Guilt or his impending death/suicide, he loves to pretend that everything is perfect when it's really, really not.
      • Another codependent one.
      • Played with, Season 7's episode 11 gives us this advice:

    Frank (to Dean): “Here’s my advice you didn’t ask for: Quit. You want to keep going? You’re going to drive yourself into the ground first. Do what I did when I was 26 and I came home to find my wife and two kids gutted on the floor. Decide to be fine ‘til the end of the week. Make yourself smile because you’re alive and that’s your job. Then do it again the next week. I call it being professional. Do it right, with a smile, or don’t do it."

      • Which leads us to the ending of the episode where Dean, as he's driving, tries to smile and utterly fails.
    • Dexter. On the surface, Dexter Morgan affects a harmless, chipper personality to fit into society and hide the fact that he is a sociopathic serial killer. And empty. Over the course of the series, however, he becomes more in touch with his feelings and enjoys periods of legitimate happiness.
      • Watching Dexter's face for real versus feigned expressions is very interesting, especially since the face you're watching actually belongs to an actor who doesn't mean the real ones or the fake ones.
    • Nobori Taiga from Kamen Rider Kiva: Friendly, polite and nice to his old friends, but secretly working to destroy humankind.
    • Pretty much every male cast member of The Shield fit this description. But most notably, there are Curtis "Lem" Lemansky (popular police officer and all around good guy who has ZERO self-esteem and basically serves as a doormat for his "best friends" on the Strike Team, leading to crippling ulcers, a mini-nervous breakdown, committing criminal acts that ultimately lead to his arrest, death, and ultimately denounced as a monster), Shane Vendrell (who loves his family to the extent that he murdered his best friend/partner rather than risk having him turn states evidence against them, but basically murders his pregnant wife and toddler son rather than risk having Vic Mackey reveal to his children the sins committed by his father), Police Captain turned City Councilman and Mayoral Hopeful David Acaveda (affable but somewhat slimy boss who is into rough sex, arranged the murder of a man who raped him, strained relationship with his wife after being told by her that she would have preferred him being killed to him being raped, willingness to work with the Mexican Mafia and use their blackmail files of prominent people to further his career), Ronnie Gardocki (lovable nerd who's darkness manifests itself in full force in season seven, by way of the lengths he was willing to go to see Shane Vendrell murdered as payback for Shane killing Detective Lemansky), and John Kavanaugh (brilliant and decorated Internal Affairs police officer who's devotion to law and order hides the fact that he cruelly divorced his mentally unstable wife the moment she became an annoyance to him).
      • Not to mention Vic Mackey, who's stepford smile hides a monster that all others pale in comparison to. So it says something that in the end, Vic loses EVERYTHING in the finale including his "good" name but ends up in the final scene of the series, putting on a stepford smile and walking into the darkness, as far as not letting his karmic final fate as a glorified temp desk worker with the Feds slow him down.
    • Spoofed somewhat in season six of Twenty Four; after the father of one of Jack's unlucky girlfriends lampshades in graphic detail how bad things always befall Jack's loved ones, to the point of outright telling Jack that he's cursed and that he would never never be allowed near his daughter again as a result, Jack spends the last moments of the season breaking into the father's house and holding a gun on him, while ranting incoherently about how he's not cursed and ordering the guy to take back what he said.
    • House: Wilson is one of these.
    • On CSI: NY Flack has started to become one in season 6 of the show since his girlfriend was killed in the season 5 finale. Characters are starting to guess something is seriously wrong, however, because he doesn't keep the mask completely on all the time.
    • The Doctor, most noticeably in his Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh incarnations. The Tenth Doctor acts bubbly and cheerful, cracks jokes in dangerous situations, and always smiles despite the odds. Underneath the optimism, however, he's frequently revealed to be suffering from various levels of acute mental instability. Ten did seem to be pretty genuinely happy up until he lost Rose. It all pretty much went downhill after that.
      • And culminated in The Waters of Mars in which his Stepford Smiler status is taken to terrifying new heights as he calmly and cheerfully explains to the captain of a destroyed interplanetary base that the lives of all her crewmembers are utterly unimportant to the universe, and that he'd only saved her life to prove a point. The woman is so disgusted by his attitude that she shoots herself, thereby saving the timeline of the entire human race. Which she wouldn't have done if he hadn't explained how important she really was back when he was leaving her to die.
      • Eleven is usually energetic, cheerful, and Adorkable as all hell. He also immediately recognizes that a villain is a part of his own subconscious because "there's only one person who hates me as much as you do", and, when presented with the (false) opportunity to find more Time Lords, was more eager about the chance to beg for their forgiveness than for companionship or a chance at locating friends.
        • Then there's the scene when he's offered options for the TARDIS' voice interface. Himself? "Nonono, give me someone I like." Rose Tyler? "Oh, great. Give me guilt." Martha Jones? "Also guilt!" Donna Noble? "More guilt!" Finally, he says "There must be someone left in the universe I haven't screwed up yet!". Current companion Amy? Yeah, he thinks he's effing up her life too.
        • Matt Smith actually described Eleven as a person who had to act happy and cheerful and put on a silly hat, otherwise he'd hang himself.
      • Nine: When his lone season started, he appeared to be manic and upbeat with a bit of rudeness mixed in and a small dark streak. Slowly, as more and more information about the Time War is revealed, it's shown that he is plagued by Survivor Guilt and searing self-hatred. This culminates in "Dalek", when he comes off as a Insane Type during his terrifying verbal assault on the imprisoned creature. He gets better, though.
      • The Master in his John Simm incarnation certainly counts as well. He manages to get himself elected Prime Minister of Britain, despite being both a homicidal sociopath AND a time-travelling alien. He's also disturbingly cheerful when discussing the firey destruction of his home planet and all its inhabitants. He later spends an entire two-part episode trying (and succeeding, mostly) to bring them all back.
    • That Mitchell and Webb Look: The host of the Quiz Broadcast sketches ("Hello, good evening, and remain indoors!") a game show taking place after "The Event". His act (and suit) unravel as things get progressively worse.
    • Niles Crane from Frasier, he of the wife so bizarre and despicable that she became incapable of being revealed onscreen is something of a subversion of Depressed Type -- he's absolutely terrible at his Stepford facade, so his friends and family members aren't fooled for a minute....but he also believes that he truly is happy, so his Stepford-y behavior continues no matter how clearly the other characters voice their disapproval. He snaps in a Crowning Moment of Awesome in season 3 when he finally leaves Maris, though he has a couple of backslides, also involving this trope ("Life with Maris wasn't that bad! It was my fault! I was too demanding! 'Eat something! Unlock this door! Don't throw that!'")
    • Desperate Housewives has Orson Hodge, who has been married with the Up to Eleven Stepford Smiler Bree.


    • Mr. Smiley from the Mustard Plug song of the same name is a variation of the classic smiley-face badge thing. A Insane Type - he goes nuts and kills his entire family.
    • Nick Cave's "Good Son".
    • "The Tracks of My Tears" by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles:

    So take a good look at my face
    You'll see my smile looks out of place
    If you look closer, it's easy to trace
    The tracks of my tears

      • Smokey Robinson also had "Tears of a Clown", which is similar.

    Now if there's a smile on my face
    It's only there trying to fool the public

    • The subject of "Everybody's Fool" by Evanescence is somewhere between Depressed Type and Empty Type. In the video, the dissonance between the facade and the emptiness inside results in some Rage Against the Reflection.
    • Insane Clown Posse's "Mr. Happy" details the day-to-day life of a friendly serial killer who is all smiles unless deprived of victims to strangle.
    • Eduard Khil, to the point of Memetic Mutation.
    • David Bowie's "D.J." is sung from the perspective of an Empty Type radio deejay who's "got believers" but is losing his mind and approaching Insane Type status; the Concept Video contrasts his happy public facade with his increasingly violent, despairing nature in-studio. "I am a D.J., I am what I play/Can't turn around, no, can't turn around..."
    • The Beatles I'm A Loser," mostly written by Lennon:

    Although I laugh and I act like a clown
    Beneath this mask I am wearing a frown
    My tears are falling like rain from the sky
    Is it for her or myself that I cry?

    • Queen's "The Show Must Go On" describes an Empty Type (it could also fit a Depressed Type, but Empty Type fits better)

    Inside my heart is breaking
    My make-up may be flaking
    But my smile still stays on.

    • The Simon and Garfunkel song "Richard Cory," based on the Edward Arlington Robinson poem. The song's chorus, an Every Man wishing he could be Richard Cory, becomes ironic when repeated one final time after we learn about Cory's suicidal depression.
    • The protagonist in Jonathan Coulton's song "Good Morning Tucson", a morning news anchor who keeps his trademark smile going even as he's trying to get through his day's work, interviewing guests he doesn't particularly care about, and literally setting the studio on fire, watching it burn down around him.

    Newspaper Comics

    • Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin (sarcastically?) invokes this for a moment when his father tells him he needs to go to bed earlier so that he won't be so grumpy each morning; he starts going around with an enormous fake grin instead.


    • Although he tries to seem like the stable emotional pillar of the group, the songs "Halloween" and "Goodbye Love" from Rent reveal that Mark is really one of these.
      • "What You Own," too.
    • C.B. the Red Caboose in Starlight Express: "Under the smiles and under the fun, I'm Public Enemy Number One!"
    • Cyrano De Bergerac: Cyrano is a Depressed Type obsessed with not projecting an image of sadness in order to be accepted by his peers the Gascon cadets and show everyone else he does not care. Inside, Cyrano feels very sad and depressed because his enormous nose. In Act II Scene VII, Cyrano displays his sociopathy when his friend Le Bret mentions he seems sad. At Act V Scene V Roxane calls Cyrano “melancholyc”, he collects himself and denies it immediately. And in Act I Scene V, after talking with Le Bret why he will never win Roxane’s love, Cyrano declares himself unworthy of crying and feeling sadness: those are beautiful feelings and if he would cry, it only would seem ridiculous:

    Le Bret: (taking his hand): You weep?
    Cyrano: No, never! Think, how vilely suited
    Adown this nose a tear its passage tracing!
    I never will, while of myself I'm master,
    let the divinity of tears—their beauty
    Be wedded to such common ugly grossness.
    Nothing more solemn than a tear—sublimer;
    And I would not by weeping turn to laughter
    The grave emotion that a tear engenders!


    Video Games

    • Zelos from Tales of Symphonia is a Stepford Smiler, as he struggles to hide a truly twisted past behind a mask of frivolity and promiscuity. At certain points of the story he offhandedly hints about his past, before laughing whatever he said off as lies or changing the subject. Whether he's lying or telling the truth is left to the viewer, unless they go out of their way to see a cutscene where he openly reveals his past to the main protagonist.
    • Another example is Jade Curtiss from Tales of the Abyss. He does it due to being The Stoic, and to mask the fact that he Accidentally killed his teacher. Plus, it helps a Deadpan Snarker to keep a straight face.
    • Forde from Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. He states in one of his supports that he acts cheerful and relaxed mostly to keep his friends and companions happy in the middle of the war.
    • Henry from Fire Emblem: Awakening. It's readily apparent that he's not quite right in the head due to the fact that he's always smiling, even when talking about morbid subjects like torture. If he forms a bond with Olivia, he reveals it's because he was abandoned at an orphanage by his parents, where he suffered horrible abuse at hands of the "caretakers" there. Ever since, he's been hiding the lingering pain of those experiences behind a fake smile, but Olivia manages to break through and get him to smile for real, though.
    • Creepy Child Chris from The King of Fighters fits this trope very well, as he's almost a modern version of the aforementioned Soujirou. Always with a smile in his face, even when killing random people. The fact that he's the Big Bad's host doesn't help, either.
    • In Backyard Basketball, Kevin Garnett serves this purpose. He is a Depressed Type
    • Persona 4 has Adachi who is an Insane Type example.
      • Also Kou, one of the social link characters, fits the Depressed Type. Meanwhile, Teddie is an Empty Type. He gets better.
        • Yosuke could also be seen as a Depressed Type, according to his Shadow.
    • Happy Mask Salesman: He seems to be generally happy, but come back to him without the money you owe (or without his stolen mask) and his broad smile turns into a furious grimace as he starts threatening you.
    • Nessiah is a combination of the Depressed and Insane types in Blaze Union; his gentle and polite demeanor hides a thousand years' worth of pain, suffering, and Sanity Slippage.
    • Zevran from Dragon Age appears to be cheerful and easygoing, despite being a Death Seeker
    • Hazama/Terumi Yuuki of BlazBlue has a mask of being a very polite intelligence officer who is inept at combat and as such hates it in the first game but is really a sick, sadistic bastard who is either personally behind, directly involved in or can be linked to EVERYTHING bad in the BlazBlue universe. His reason? Just because he can and it amuses him. He gave up the pretense in the second game as it was clear he's the Big Bad and it wasn't fooling anyone anyway.
    • Several chacacters in Undertale.
      • Burgerpants, the MTT Burger employee. All his expressions have some sort of smile, and none of them looks genuine. He is exercising (and increasingly failing) the professional smile required for service employees.
      • Sans the Skeleton, who, in a variation, tries to project the image of being a pun-loving, goofy, laid back slacker with trollish tendencies. Digging a bit under the surface, it becomes apparent that his constant smile is a broken one.
        • How committed is Sans to smiling? You know that you pissed him off (or that he is serious for once) only because his eyes black out and become pupil-less - the smile remains there unalterable. The only moment his smile falters is the moment you strikes him in the Genocide route - and that only last a second. If you manage to get access to Sans' secret workshop, you can find there a album containing a photo of Sans with several unknown people. We never see the pic, but the description given is along the lines of "Sans looks actually happy". This, for a character that has never stopped smiling since the moment we first met him.
        • How bad the situation really is? In the Final Boss battle for the Pacifist route, we see his Lost Soul state. The Lost Soul is the version of the characters who express their real feelings before the Human triggered their Character Development. What does sans Says in this state? "just give up. i did.", "why even try?", and "you'll never see 'em again." These lines, by the way, are said without Sans' characteristic font (which he is known to drop when being actually serious) and the letters sways in an implication of trembling.
      • Surprisingly Papyrus becomes one of these in one of the neutral endings, the "King Papyrus" one (achieved by killing every other boss in the game save him). In the call you have with him, he nearly breaks down, confessing that he tries to keep his spirits highs to keep the people's high too, but that it's increasingly difficult, and that he misses all his friends (characters that you killed to find this ending) and hopes they are back from their "vacations" really soon.

    Visual Novels

    • Clannad: Tomoya Okazaki is a Depressed Type. The casual behavior might fool the watcher/reader for awhile, but it becomes clear over time that he's basically starting the story in despair.
    • An oddly non-creepy example that doesn't fit into any of the categories is Ambassador Colias Palaneo in Ace Attorney Investigations, who mainly keeps a constant smile as part of his ur-politeness. The fact that he drops it pretty easily helps out.
      • Kristoph Gavin is a villainous Insane Type example: a Machiavellian madman who hides beneath a mask of contentment and composure.
      • Matt Engarde, also an Insane Type. His mask is that of a doofy Extreme Doormat who's completely clueless about anything. His real personality is exactly the opposite. He even pulls back his hair to reveal his scars of villainy.
      • Add Souta Sarushiro to the list of Insane Type villains.
        • Though also give him a slight Depressed Type as well. After all, living most of your life assuming your best friend's deceased father was really your own father and your father was actually your best friend's father and the murderer of the man you though was your father will really mess you up.

    Web Comics

    • Skids of Boy Meets Boy is mostly genuinely cheerful. But when things start to get him down, he simply pretends to be even more cheerful. This is extraordinarily creepy.
    • Torg in Sluggy Freelance is one in this strip, after beating the crap out of the psychiatrist and remembering he saw Zoe's unremovable cursed necklace at the scene of her supposed death.
    • Alexander Hamilton of The Dreamer.

    Web Original

    • shows a picture of his kindergarten self being ripped apart by two monsters labeled "Mom" and "Dad"*

    Critic: (cheerfully) "I had issues."


    Western Animation

    • Genie from Disney's Aladdin seems to at least somewhat fit this Trope. He mostly acts very upbeat and cheerful, always cracking jokes, and having lots of fun with magic. But at one point we learn he is actually quite sad and really wishes to be free.
      • Isn't that also true of the man who does the voice?
    • Eddy from Ed, Edd n Eddy. He may seem confident and manly (to the point that he refuses to cry or show moments of vulnerability around his friends) but it's eventually revealed in the movie that it was all a mask to hide the inferiority complex he got as a result of years of physical abuse at the hands of his older brother. A mask he made in naive belief that he would be popular if he acted like his older brother who the other kids initially thought of as cool. Even when the other kids see him being abused by his brother Eddy still smiled, rather than cry or scream for help, in a desperate attempt to keep up the charade. Later, he breaks down in front of everyone and they end up accepting him finally.
    • Mr. Happy from The Mr. Men Show is the example of the sympathetic kind. While in the books, he was nearly always happy, in this show's version, there's been times, when he tends to hide other emotions behind a smile to keep other people's spirits up. There's been episodes to show that like "Lake", "Canned Goods", "Collecting", "Music", "Ships" and others.
    • The Bloopers Guy from Robot Chicken puts on an enthusiastic and chipper act, but considering he tries to commit suicide after every show, there is something wrong with him.
      • Tries? I thought it was just discontinuity.
    • The South Park episode "Sexual Healing" portrays David Letterman as one of these. It's extremely creepy.
      • Butters is a much better example of this, though his mask isn't always on tight at times. He tries to be cheerful, but his father has been known to threaten and beat him, his mother once snapped and tried to kill him,
      • And let's not forget why Butters needed two years of therapy after his last tap dancing competition....
      • Kenny, known for laughing at innuendo, is most likely this as of "Mysterion Rises" because of the fact that no one remembers any of his deaths.
    • The titular SpongeBob SquarePants. A few episodes indicate that behind that perpetual smile and always energetic and optimistic personality Spongebob isn't entirely sane. There have been episodes where he would go into Freak-Out mode over little things or become stark raving mad if things don't go right for him, like if he encounters some problems at his job that he loves and the like.
      • There are no indications that Spongebob is sane. The flavor of his apparent insanity varies.
    • Ned Flanders of The Simpsons. He is perpetually happy, refusing to let anything get him down or bother him - even if it really should. Maude's funeral may be one of the few exceptions to this. One episode, which sees him suffer a nervous breakdown after trying to cope with the people of Springfield (very shoddily) rebuilding his house after it's been destroyed, implies that this is a result of him misinterpreting some advice given to him by the therapist who saw him for his anger management problems, when he was a teenager (and rebelling against his beatnik parents by being an angry, angry square).

    Ned Flanders: Now calm down, Ned-dily-diddly-diddly-diddly... they did their best, shoddily-iddly-iddly-diddly... gotta be nice, hostily-iddly-diddly-iddly... Ah hell diddly-ding-dong-crap! Can't you morons do anything right?!

        • In fact, in one Halloween special, Ned Flanders becomes an Orwellian figure and makes sure everyone smiles - or go through "Re-Neducation", aka lobotomy.
    • An episode of The Fairly OddParents has Timmy Turner's dad become this as a result of Timmy travelling to the past to prevent him from winning a race and thus meeting Timmy's mom. This results in a dystopian future in which Dad becomes a Stepford Smiler to cope with his loss and forces everyone else to be one as well.
      • There is a hint of this lampshaded by Timmy's mom after being swapped into dad's body in one episode, where she mentioned that she had a sudden feeling of giving up on her dreams. This could mean Timmy's dad gave up on his old dreams sometime ago.
      • Also, in the FLARG episode when Timmy is trying to stop Mark from exploding:

    Mark: Dude, what's with the face? It is happy, yet at the same time DISTURBING!

    • The titular Kung Fu Panda Po. It's implied that he has that cheerful front to hide his insecurities. Subverted because some of his smiles are genuine.
    • The title character of Hey Arnold!. Most people see him as a sweet, friendly little boy... however, he's really just hiding his sadness due to his parents being lost in the jungle and not seeing them in ages.
    • Does Freaky Fred from Courage the Cowardly Dog count as an Insane Type ? Also Slasher Smile...
    • On Daria, perpetually happy Mr. O'Neill gets at least one moment of this: in "Is It Fall Yet?" Link tells him off, saying that he either doesn't really care about helping people or just "sucks" at it. (It's the latter.) After Link storms out Mr. O'Neill reassures himself that Link didn't really mean that, then goes back to his work, only to make a loud sobbing noise a moment later.
    • The Ice King from Adventure Time is shown to be extremely depressed in several episodes, yet is also a giggling Adult Child quite a bit of the time.

    Real Life

    Mixed-Gender Examples

    Anime and Manga

    • Outside of the ones that act fairly emotionless, many Contractors are like this in Darker than Black. November 11 and Amber are a good illustration, as their cheerfulness seems to be inversely proportional to their sincerity.

    Fan Works


    • Paul and Mary Bland of Eating Raoul are probably the world's most upbeat and together conservative couple ever, even as they descend into theft, murder and cannibalism.
    • "Bonjour! Bonjour!" The villagers in Disney's Beauty and the Beast sure seem to be a happy, friendly bunch... but they think Belle is a Cloudcuckoolander in part because she's always reading and seems to be the only person in town who doesn't think anything of Villain with Good Publicity Gaston, whom everyone loves to the point that they help set up a wedding for him when he hasn't even proposed to her yet (and this doesn't even get into the cruelties heaped upon her poor dad, Maurice). By the end, this shallow bunch has become a Torches and Pitchforks mob headed off to kill the Beast because "we don't like / what we don't / understand / in fact it scares us / and this monster is mysterious at least..."
    • In Invasion of the Body Snatchers, being absorbed by the pods turns you into a Empty Type version of this. By the end of the movie, this happens to either an entire town or to the entire U.S., depending on whether you're watching the original version or the 1978 remake.
    • There's a rare humorous example of an Empty Type Stepford Smiler in Annie Hall, with a couple that Alvy Singer approaches on the street for relationship advice:

    Alvy Singer: Here, you look like a very happy couple, um, are you?
    Female street stranger: Yeah.
    Alvy Singer: Yeah? So, so, how do you account for it?
    Female street stranger: Uh, I'm very shallow and empty and I have no ideas and nothing interesting to say.
    Male street stranger: And I'm exactly the same way.
    Alvy Singer: I see. Wow. That's very interesting. So you've managed to work out something?

    • Chris and Belle in The Woman are a happy, successful, traditional couple with three children in the suburbs... who keep a feral woman locked in the cellar, ostensibly in an attempt to "civilize" her. And even before she came into the picture, there was a heaping helping of Domestic Abuse going on. Belle eventually snaps out of it once she realizes that her husband and her son are raping the feral woman.


    • In Soon I Will Be Invincible, the Champions are a cracking facade of glossy superheroism concealing bulimia, pain killer addiction, and the usual shenanigans. Twisted later when the apparent Bulimia and pain killer addictions turn out to be food allergies and life-sustaining medications in keeping with the "mundane lives of superheroes" theme.
    • Arguably the entire tree-dwelling Kindar culture in Zilpha Keatley Snyder's Green-Sky Trilogy. The descendants of a group who decided that humanity's past misdeeds were best forgotten, they consider negative emotions (lumped under the heading of "unjoyfulness") inappropriate and best kept suppressed.
    • Vincent and Carrie Raymond (in Geoph Essex's Lovely Assistant) are astonishingly warm and cheerful Beautiful People, though their plans to summon a galaxy-sized monster and destroy the world places them squarely as Insane Type Stepford Smilers. Jenny even thinks about the Stepford effect by name.
    • Harry Potter
      • Petunia Dursley is a fine example of the sort who initially seems to be her mask. Deathly Hallows suggests that her mask developed as the means to deal with her jealousy over her younger, "perfect" sister Lily getting magic and not herself.
      • Dolores Umbridge. Part of the reason this character is so effective is that she wraps her sadism and violence in an unnerving Stepford mask.
      • Luna Lovegood is a Depressed Type played straight. She's an Iron Woobie who is bullied viciously for her eccentric personality, and she didn't have any friends until she was a teenager. But despite this pain she is still happy and cheerful...on the outside.
        • Luna could also be a subversion, if her serene personality is completely genuine.
      • Xenophilius Lovegood puts on a Depressed Type act in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when Harry, Ron, and Hermione come to his house. He pretends that everything is well and good and that Luna herself is only out getting ingredients for soup when he's actually been depressed and afraid because the Death Eaters have Luna and have threatened to kill her unless he captures Harry Potter for them, which is just the thing he's attempting to do.
    • Almost the entire main cast of Jodi Picoult's Nineteen minutes (Barring Peter, Jordan and possibly Patrick)
      • Josie is a Depressed Type, pretending to be the perfect Golden girl whilst simultaneously having to put up with an abusive boyfriend, neglectful mother and niggling suspicion that if she stops smiling for even a second, everyone will realize she's nothing special.
      • Matt is an Insane Type , pretending at first to be the perfect boyfriend, until he turns out to be an abusive jerk.
      • Alex has to act perfect 24/7 for the sake of her job whilst the strain tears her apart.
      • Lacy has to deal with the fact that one of her children turned out to be a druggie whilst the other (Peter) went on a killing spree.
      • Lewis (Lacy's husband) has to deal with the above whilst being a happiness economist (Meaning it's his job to work out the mathematical value of happiness)
      • Selena gets off relatively easy, only having to deal with racist idiots.
    • Ciaphas Cain is supposed to be a fearless Imperial commissar who is willing to lay down his life to destroy the enemies of the God-Emperor of Mankind. He isn't, although that doesn't stop him from accidentally bumbling into Crowning Moments of Awesome time and again.

    Live-Action TV

    • Gem and Gemma of Power Rangers RPM. The disturbingly cheerful smile never leaves their faces, whether they're talking about explosives, military strategy, their time imprisoned by the enemy and forced to do hard labor in an enemy factory producing Mooks...
      • They also love drawings of unicorns, butterflies, and rainbows, and work them into anything they write or draw (including a very, very confusing map to said factory, composed entirely of unicorns and rainbows).
    • Anyone not named Anthony in The Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life". Anthony is the local Reality Warper, and he gets ticked if anyone has any negative thoughts.
      • Another TZ example would be "Number Twelve Looks Just Like You", where Stepfordization is a standard part of becoming one of the beautiful people.
    • Similar to the "It's a Good Life" example, the Monty Python "Fairy Tale" sketch had the citizens of Happy Valley who were always happy and cheerful, because to be otherwise was a crime punishable by death.
    • Another example from Dexter; the Trinity Killer and his family. The family act like a perfectly happy, wholesome family while hiding the severe physical and psychological abuse they suffer. Trinity acts like a good man and piller of the community while hiding that he is a brutal serial killer.
    • Comedy example from Father Ted, the O'Learys, who behave like a perfect, arm-in-arm couple while anyone else is around, but spend the rest of the time hurling obscene abuse at and trying to brutally injure each other.
    • On an episode of Roseanne, David got a job at a theme park where all the employees (and soon David himself) are turned into Stepford Smilers. The Conners are thoroughly creeped out.


    • Siouxsie and the Banshees' Happy House.
    • The song "The Great Pretender" describes this kind of person, who puts on a happy facade to hide their sadness about losing a lover. Goes into "mixed gender examples" because it has been performed by males (i.e: Roy Orbison), Freddie Mercury from Queen), females (i.e.: Dolly Parton) and both The Platters, who had four male singers and a female)
    • The song "Shallow" by Poets of the Fall could be the Empty Type Smiler's Anthem.
    • The Rise Against song "The Approaching Curve" is about a relationship built around this trope by both sides; the relationship is falling apart, but according to the lyrics "They'll remember, only our smiles 'cause that's all they've seen. Long since dried, when we are found, are the tears in which we had drowned..." Overall, it makes the song about a tough breakup even sadder than it was before.
    • "Go Away" by Delain is a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to a Depressed Type, a person who puts all their effort into putting on an act instead of solving their problems.
    • According to the members, BTS's album trilogy Love Yourself is about a person (gender purposefully obfuscated) on the Depressed Type that puts on the mask to pursue a romantic relationship, the failure of the relationship when the person discovers that not only the mask became too heavy to wear, they spent too much effort on the mask to actually get to know their love interest, the epiphany that they were pursuing the relationship to cover their poor self-esteem, and finally the determination to stop using the mask and work on loving and bettering themselves.

    Music Videos

    • The music video for Soundgarden's song "Black Hole Sun" depicts everybody as this trope.


    • The Happy Smilers, a group in an episode of Adventures in Odyssey, are largely composed of these types—people hiding behind smiles, assorted mantras and pooositive thoughts! lest they be affected by, say, the passing of one of their friends. Aubrey is creeped out by them from the beginning, and it turns out that their own founder has become disillusioned with being "happy" all the time.

    Tabletop Games

    • Every vampire from Vampire: The Requiem slowly loses its Humanity as the years go by, but the Daeva clan are particularly prone to this. They are presented as sexy and Manipulative Bastard men and women that ooze sensuality, and maintain the image of the perfect vampires, but inside they're completely rotten. Years of manipulation drain their ability to feel true attachment until they can no longer comprehend human emotions and even though they seem to be passionate and claim to understand desire, they only feel need. This causes many Daeva to became depraved and desperate to feel again. Things get worse each passing decade, because vampires tend to forget to fake breathing and blinking, gradually turning them into Empty Shells and truly establishing their Stepford Smilers status and Uncanny Valley natures. This, of course, makes humans (as well as animals) feel that there's something atrociously wrong with them.

    Such simple creatures I'm grateful not be one any longer. Still... I do wish to remember just a bit more clearly what it felt like.

    • Paranoia features a dystopic world run by a power-mad AI that demands that all citizens be happy, under penalty of summary execution.
    • Warhammer 40,000 features Grandfather Nurgle, a (seemingly) nice guy who is also the god of Body Horror and expresses his "love" to his followers by handing them down diseases.
      • The most terrifying part of this is that Grandpa Nurgle IS that nice and loving Friend to All Living Things, it's just that in a truly Lovecraftian manner he loves all living things, including the disease microbes and such, and simply cannot express his love and acceptance in any other way. It's notable that the followers of Nurgle are, despite their festering and rotting appearance, the happiest and best psychically adjusted among the Chaos worshipers.

    Video Games

    • The humanoid Nobodies from Kingdom Hearts are the Empty Shell variation of Empty Type ; their supposed emotions are an act, based on their human memories. Behind this facade, however, they're this trope. Supposedly.
    • The backstory for the Pleasant family in The Sims 2 is scripted like this: Mary Sue and Daniel have a perfect suburban life. He's shtupping the maid, she's about to get fired, and their daughters hate each other.
    • Given that it's set in The Fifties, many civilians in Destroy All Humans! fall under this heading, particularly the residents of Santa Modesta. Quite naturally, these suburbanites like to present themselves as flawless and content, but a quick peek at their thoughts reveals that the men only manage to suppress their psychotic rage with their collective obsession with lawnmowers and automobiles, and the valium-addicted women are engaged in fierce and unending competition over the best home and garden, broken only by tupperware parties and neglected children. Exactly one citizen manages to realize how miserable she really is, and in the end, she decides to drown her sorrows in cheap meaningless sex. And of course, being an alien invader, you have the opportunity to put every last depressive one of them out of their misery in the most painful way possible.
    • Fallout 3
      • There's a whole town of Stepford Smilers, well-groomed but down-to-earth, assured Andale is the best little town, that their blessed country will protect them from the commies, and that all is right with the world. This being Fallout, of course, It Gets Worse.
      • There's a woman in the small town of Arefu who seems to have gone completely delusional and pretends that she is living in a beautiful pre-war suburb. She hands the player rusty tin cans, proclaiming they're her prized batches of chocolate chip cookies. Ironically, she's never even experienced life before the war.
    • Final Fantasy X plays this trope straight with just about everyone in the setting, Yuna and Tidus just being the most prominent. On her case, is basically the pressure of knowing that she is being directed into an Heroic Sacrifice but still feeling that she has to act peppy and optimistic in public. For him, his Idiot Hero persona is revealed to be mostly just an act to deal with his angst over his Disappeared Dad. And he has a more traditional Stepford Smiler moment later on, after discovering that defeating Yu Yevon will end his own existence.
    • Psychonauts features both a female and male example. Crystal and Clem are two seemingly cheerful and enthusiastic campers who like to root their fellow campers on (especially Raz)... and also harbor suicidal tendencies. Most of this is Played for Laughs: "I feel so stupid for throwing myself off the roof!" "Why did you throw yourself off the roof?" "Because the poison didn't work, duh!"
      • A more depressing version is Milla, a perpetually cheerful party girl who hides the fact that she worked at an orphanage that burned down, killing all inside. As if that wasn't enough, she also wound up psychically hearing their screams for help as they died. Interpretations vary with the player with some seeing her as someone who's coped with the trauma in her past. Word of God says it's the latter, and that "locking up" nightmares is a perfectly healthy way of dealing with that level of trauma.
      • By comparison, twice in Boyd Cooper's mind, you get assaulted by nightmares and have to fight them as minibosses. So it would seem that in the metaphorical context of things, nightmares being "locked up" is more a sign that you've dealt with them and have them under control, rather than that you're suppressing them.
    • Louis from Left 4 Dead display Empty Type. In the events of The Sacrifice comic, Louis had to kill a person who attacked him in a bathroom stall (the person became an infected or "zombie") and saw the destruction of his workplace and the city from the viral outbreak, testing his will since he always had a positive outlook in life. Louis still holds the "everything will get better" attitude, even after he and the other survivors had to endure 2–3 weeks of fighting zombies and escaping from an overzealous military force.
    • Any game from Zynga. In Cityville, it's just getting scary with how everyone always smiles and looks so cutesy. A few of my contacts have named their cities Stepford for this very reason.

    Visual Novels

    • In A Profile, Masayuki is implied to be one for a time, but it turns out to be untrue and that he really has simply changed, mostly for the better. Miou, on the other hand, is pretty emotionally damaged inside.
    • It's strongly implied that |Nagisa Furukawa's parents, Akio and Sanae, at least partially fake their Adult Children behaviors. They are genuinely loving and sweet persons, but they hide their own worries and sad thoughts to keep their very frail Ill Girl daughter happy, in an attempt to make up for having neglected her a lot as a little girl. It's confirmed in After Story, where Sanae tries to cheer up Tomoya by acting like a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but can't keep up and finally cries and lets herself grieve for the deceased Nagisa.
    • The characters do this in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni in the question arcs, and first two answer arcs, to try and hide things.
      • Rena is also a perfect example of a Depressed Type. It's all a facade, but she does it to escape from her sadness.
      • Rika too. To all the world she's just a Cheerful Child, because she's convinced that if she lets anyone know something's wrong they'll just get hurt, and she's given up anyways. The reality of her situation is pretty bad, and in private she resorts to drinking away her problems.
      • For that sake, almost every main character in the series. They are first shown a a group of cheerful persons, and indeed the first episode looks like it's gonna be Lucky Star 2. Then we find out that Rika has revived at least a hundred times after being brutally killed, and remembers every single deaths she has been through; Keiichi is a delusional psychopath that once went on a rampage with a BB gun, shooting little girls; Satoko killed her parents almost by accident and her brother Satoshi is hospitalized with little chance of recovery, and since then, her uncle has been abusing of her so much the only action of patting her head can potentially lead her to violent convulsions; Shion was meant to be killed just for being Mion's twin, and possibly even worse then that, she lost her beloved Satoshi by Oyashiro-sama's curse, and later is forced to rip off her own fingernails; Rena had to suffer from her parents' divorce, and on top of that, seeing her mother with another man lead her to viciously wound some of her classmates during a rampage (not to forget the Attempted Rape on her, and how she has to fight off Rina and Teppei's machinations); Takano is another delusional psychopath, so twisted by her horrifying past in an Orphanage of Fear that she doesn't even care about how many thousands of people die due to her activities. But outside of that, they're pretty happy and smiling...

    Web Comics

    • The Order of the Stick give us the Empire of Blood, an entire nation that smiles and steps ultra carefully in fear of violating any minor crime that will see them packed off to the Gladiator Games, eaten by a dragon, or worse. Best exemplified in this strip, where a pair of reporters are covering a parade held in the Empire. Within seconds of the female reporter accurately identifying a group of marchers as the Empire's death squad and criticizing the regime, she is shot with a poisoned arrow and replaced by a female member of the death squad. All the while, the male reporter keeps smiling.

    Web Original

    • Quite a few of these have shown up in Survival of the Fittest, surprisingly. Most of these tend to be Depressed Type, for obvious reasons. Some examples:
      • Former gamer Warren Pace gives himself a complete image makeover to fit in with the football team due to his perceived images of jocks.
      • Maria Graham has a bad habit of burying any pain and angst underneath an overly cheerful, energetic persona. It's already been shown before that when she finally crashes, she crashes HARD.
        • She ended up crashing pretty early once the game started, though she often tries to put it back up again. Eventually she succeeds when Duncan McMahon, her childhood friend and love interest dies right in front of her, causing her to finally lose her mind.
      • Hermione Miller also has been shown to have tendencies of this. She spends most of her run in serious denial, believing that she is at the campsite while acting eerily cheerful and rejecting all signs that she's stuck on a Deserted Island. Eventually she has a revelation about her situation and that no one will take her seriously due to her being The Ditz, and right after is Driven to Suicide. She also receives a fair amount of Lampshade Hanging comparing her to the Trope Namer.
      • In mini site Spin-Off The Program, Brigadier General David Adams, the founder of the title game, is very much a (possible) Insane Type. He has been described as pretty casual looking for a military organization, and oftentimes slides into Cloudcuckoolander mode during announcements. However, he has shown to have a very chilling approach towards the idea of children killing each other, and seems to really be enthused by it. Needless to say, there's a lot of Dissonant Serenity in his announcements.

    Western Animation

    Other Media

    • This page is about a bright, cheerful, and wonderful game! You'll have lots of fun reading all its super fun happy tropes and be so happy playing this fun game itself! Fun! Fun! Fun! NO IT'S NOT. NOT. AT. ALL.
    • The hosts of The Onion show "Today Now!", a parody of morning news shows like Good Morning America, are Empty Type.

    Real Life

    • Some people with clinical depression adopt the Stepford Smiler facade, as they learn very soon how expressing their actual grim toughts can upset others. They can seem fine (even cheerful and friendly) to people who they come in contact with, but are really not.
    • News anchormen/women/folk. To watch them report happy, light-hearted stories immediately preceding reports of tragedy and/or horror, or to hear them banter and joke with each other, you're left with the distinct impression that they are doing so not because they genuinely feel this way, but rather because it is the "appropriate" behavior to express. Maybe it's just me, but the whole thing comes across as unnatural.
      • It's called Happy Talk News, and oh God, no, you are so not alone.
      • Despite the popular perception of them being these, sometimes the mark of an all time great news-caster is the times they do let down their facade of journalistic impartiality, such as during John Glenn's Mercury Capsule launch when Walter Cronkite, getting a bit too caught up in the excitement to maintain the stoic facade, said of the rocket, "Go, baby!" For a more recent example when Brian Williams was invited to play "Not My Job" on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, he showed that behind the facade of somber, impartial journalism, he is actually sharp as a tack, and has a lightning-quick wit.
        • Some news-casters, particularly those who also commentators, are more able to avert this trope, such as Keith Olbermann, and the late Paul Harvey, but it's a thin highwire to walk, as getting too impassioned in any direction with one's commentary can cross the line from showing oneself as human into letting loose with an unhinged rant a-la Network.
        • There are dangers in breaking the facade. There is an Urban legend that goes that the broadcaster who broke into tears when the Hindenburg blew up (the "Oh the humanity!" guy) lost his job for his "unprofessional behavior" (in Real life, he was actually commended by staying reporting despite the circumstances).
    • One of the reasons for the "grim Russian" stereotype is that in Russian culture anyone who smiles when talking to complete strangers is assumed to be either a Stepford Smiler or just an insincere person. There is an old Russian joke about this: "Americans look at you with phony politeness. We look at you with sincere hatred".
    • North Korea: in this youtube video of the 2005 Arirang Festival Mass Games the women using the batons during (21:00) for the women's military performance never stop smiling.
    • Dolphins. They have that "smile" on their faces regardless of their mood. Unfortunately, many people think that because of their "smiles", dolphins are nice gentle creatures. They are not.
    • Persons of both genders who are or have been physically/sexually/emotionally abused in one way or another, often become this to hide their suffering from others.
      • Some people who are in the above situation put on this facade due to a feeling of isolation from other people. They can understand that abuse doesn't happen to most people, and yet they have been abused and are now one of those people. They understandably feel like they don't belong around other people, who they assume to be non-abused (therefore not like themselves) due to abuse commonly not being discussed. This also exacerbates the survivor's feelings of isolation. Hence, they'll put on an affable persona to cope with this, give themselves a basis on which to feel like they belong, and hope that this will become real.
    • At most job interviews, the interviewee is expected to smile and look and act pleasant regardless of the dread and nervousness they're experiencing.
    • A good customer service representative or anyone else in the service industry who deals primarily with customers will, as part of their training, put on a Stepford Smile. Even if they're answering phones in a cubicle farm, they will be told to fake a smile so their voice sounds pleasant and friendly. Most superiors will demand that of these employees even if they're dealing with a terrible customer, with few exceptions (e.g. if there's a company mandate against dealing with people who are cursing at the employees).
      • Are you a teenager/in your twenties and work in Fast food or Chain stores? Chances are, unless you're a Pollyanna, you're the Depressed (or Insane) Type when at work.
      • Eventually, the constant smiling can turn the employee in either a Depressed or an Empty type, as the perpetual smile makes them to lose contact with their actual emotions. There is even a name for this condition: Smile mask syndrome.
    • A "Stepford Laugh" is a common effect of marijuana. An uncontrollable laughter without any really pleasant distractions accompanying it.
      • When the marijuana laugh is real (everything is funny), it's sometimes called "Cosmic Joke".
    • Psychopaths are often of the Insane Type, being superficially charming but having no real emotions.
      • Many have emotions all right, just not that of empathy. Others, on the other hand, end up committing horrible crimes with the simple goal to receive some kind of emotional stimulus, which quickly becomes addictive. The term is Shallow Affect, and 'describes the psychopath's tendency for genuine emotion to be short-lived and egocentric, with an overall cold demeanor'.
    • Lot of people who try to live according to The Secret (and other similar Positive Thinking ideologies) can end up being the depressive type, at least temporarily. It happens more often in the ones who try to get those principles to its logical extreme.
      • Barbara Ehrenreich talks in depth about this aspect of the positive-thinking movement in her book Bright Sided.
    • Disney Theme Parks Cast members typically will put on a Stepford Smile, no matter what kind of rude guest they may face. It's actually part of their job description to be smiling and welcoming towards any guest.
    • A great number of political spouses seem like this from public appearances. And politicians themselves. See 2008's Cindy McCain, 2004 and 2008's John Edwards [dead link], and coming in 2012... Callista Gingrich.
    • There's a Facebook page in Spanish dedicated to this.
    • The Westboro Baptist Church has a bunch of these people, most tragically in the children that have the misfortune to be part of it. During interviews they'll cheerfully talk about how you'll go to hell and reveal that they have no friends because everyone in school hates them due to their association with their church. The only time on TV that one person has slipped even a little, she was told by a reporter that if he thought that she was going to hell, he'd be sad. She cracked just a tad, then said she needed to go.
    • Traditional people on the island of Bali are required to be this. To show anything other than your "bright face" invites evil spirits and curses, and might make other people sick. Devastating tragedy strikes? Laugh as if it's the funniest thing in the world. Your friends know you are really suffering, but will respect you for staying "bright". If your facade breaks, they'll surround you and laugh at your "insanity". It's closest to Empty Type, as "what counts is to try not to feel." All your social interactions must be carefully stylized to avoid giving offense to someone who might put a spell on you. (You don't know what they're thinking, because they're Stepford smiling). The smoothly perfect serenity of the Balinese is a masquerade.
    • A "stiff upper lip" is in a way the English equivalent of this.