When She Smiles

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"This is the story of a girl
Who cried a river and drowned the whole world
And while she looks so sad in photographs
I absolutely love her
When she smiles"

ninedays"Absolutely (Story of a Girl)"

A character is described as plain or unremarkable, except, well, when they smile; when you get them to crack a grin, Hello, Nurse!! A Slasher Smile or evil smirk doesn't do it - it's something about the sheer happiness in that smile that makes whoever's watching immediately feel welcome, or better, and very often want to make them smile again. Preferably a lot. Depending on the application, can lead to Love At First Sight, a Love Epiphany, or a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. It's very effective for a Broken Bird, The Stoic, a Shrinking Violet or a Perpetual Frowner, but is in no way limited to them. The key element is that the smile adds a lot.

It's not actually Always Female; the title comes from the song "Absolutely (Story of a Girl)". Go Out with a Smile often involves this plus Tear Jerker. A shy cousin to What Beautiful Eyes!, and Unkempt Beauty; a subtrope of OOC Is Serious Business. Contrast with The Un-Smile, where the smile is just plain unnatural.

In-Universe examples only, please. This isn't an Audience Reaction.

Examples of When She Smiles include:

Anime and Manga

  • Generally, if a Rei Ayanami Expy is in the cast, there will be a moment like this somewhere in the story. (See the very next example, below.)
  • Eucliwood in Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? surprises Ayumu when she finally shows her extremely cute smile.
    • Seraphim as well.
  • Black Butler goes out of its way to prove this of Ciel. To the point where Joker in the manga gives him the stage name of Smile in an ironic sense...but then finds out that Ciel is a damn knockout. It seems as though Elizabeth's entire point of existing is to make him smile again...and she is one of the few people who can get a genuine smile.
  • Yuki Nagato -- this picture from the Disappearance is a plot point in said movie and the novel it's adapted from—seeing Nagato smile is what leads Kyon to reflect on whether recreating the old world would be the right thing to do. Yuki/Kyon shippers tend to emphasize this point.
    • The scene in the English dub. [1]
    • The scene in its original Japanese. [2]
    • As well as Kuyou (resident Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl, in novel ten, during the fight with Ryouko Asakura. Kyon comments on how smiling makes her whole appearance different, even beautiful.
  • Rei in Neon Genesis Evangelion.
  • Tatsuki from Hands Off smiles a grand total of one time in the whole eight volume manga.
  • Borderline example: In Full Metal Panic!, Sousuke is not unattractive even in Perpetual Frowner mode - it's even directly addressed in the novels, where he's still considered very attractive, but very unapproachable, as his eyebrows are in a constant state of slanting down angrily, and his lips are always pressed firmly in a grim, straight thin line. But during the moments where his face relaxes and he lightens up, people who see him like that tend to have their heart racing BIGTIME.
  • Like Sousuke, Darker than Black's Hei generally racks up a Chick Magnet count even without a real smile (he has plenty of fake ones, but they're just that -- fake), but if Amber's testimony is anything to go by, a genuine one can make sociopaths fall for him.

Amber: There was one time that he actually laughed from the bottom of his heart. His smile captivated me. That's when I thought to myself, "You really did it this time." I felt as if I would do anything for him.

  • In Battle Royale, Hirono, the second in command bad girl in Mitsuko's gang is depicted as this. Despite having a punk hairstyle and being very nasty normally, when she meets up with protagonist Shuya (whom it's implied and revealed that she actually has a crush on), she ends up showing a smile from her heart. This leads to Shuya realizing that she's not all bad, and throughout the series, one of his greater regrets is being unable to save her. It pretty much directly follows this trope when he describes her in this page.
    • When was it shown that she had a crush on him? I don't think I remember that bit.
  • Sawako from Kimi ni Todoke usually looks damn creepy what with resembling Sadako and all, but her genuine warm smile was one of the first reason Kazehaya fell in love with her. When she tries to force herself to smile though, it, ah... doesn't work.
  • Akane Tendo in Ranma ½. Even Ranma freely admits that she's cute when she smiles.
  • In the Pokémon anime, Marley succeeds big time at doing this when a Shaymin she saved before crawls into her sleeping bag.
  • Arisa in the manga of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha really didn't want to like Fate. She was rather jealous of the attention Nanoha got from her. But she has to admit that disliking her is hard to do when subjected to the smile.
  • When Ayu smiles in Deep Love Reina starts crying because she's never smiled at her before. In the live action version, she merely pointed it out.
  • Rosario + Vampire's Inner!Moka. That is all.
  • England in Axis Powers Hetalia is usually the Perpetual Frowner of the group. But when he genuinely smiles here, here [dead link] and here it happened so naturally, you would think he does this all the time.
    • As well as his smile here. Even though it isn't very pleasant, just look at America's reaction!
      • ...actually, I think America's reaction is more or less "What the hell is he doing...?"
    • Germany is also a Perpetual Frowner, and always has a serious expression on. However, when he does smile...well, he's adorable!
    • Also Belarus [dead link] (briefly) during the Hetalia Bloodbath 2010.
    • Russia is an interesting case. He's constantly seen smiling cheerfully, along with the occasional Slasher Smile. But there was one instance where he geniunely smiled. Cue Squee.
    • Japan doesn't normally smile but when he does its quite cute. Italy, in particular, said in one strip that he really wants to see Japan smile.
    • Sweden, too. Seriously [dead link].
  • Meia from Vandread. Her smile causes babies to stop crying.
  • In Pokémon Special, though Sapphire is perfectly capable of being happy and showing smiles, as she's normally in full tsun mode around Ruby, this trope is in full effect when she finally admits her feelings to Ruby. The realization that she's his Forgotten Childhood Friend nails it down all the more him.
  • In all of Ghost in the Shell, the Major smiles only once in Stand Alone Complex, when Batou challenges her to a friendly wrestling match. Her reaction is only to smile at him [dead link] and then using her brain implants to wirelessly hack into his cybernetic arm and bash his own fist into his face. Her only other expressions shown in any of the mangas, movies, and series are "blank" and "I KILL YOU!!!".
    • Not so. She's definitely stoic, but she does have very, very, very subtle expressions if you watch for them. Still, the general rotation goes between 'Confusion', 'Detachment', 'Disgust', and 'Frustration', with occasional visits to a subtle smirk of victory. Even her obvious rage face only makes an appearance in one episode. But this trope still applies, because the few times she actually shows happiness it is absolutely heartwarming, and it's quite possible this is why Batou hesitates. Alternately, it could be that he was simply very confused as to why she was smiling.
    • She's actually pretty expressive in the manga.
  • Nagi feels this way about all three of the girls. Karin is seemingly perpetually happy, which Nagi finds one of her most endearing traits; He likes Shizuku when she is able to smile and relax; It's a positively heartwarming moment for him when he gets Soyogi to open up and smile.
  • In Black Cat Saya convinces Train to change his ways.
  • Natsume Takashi from Natsume Yuujinchou has managed to charm quite a few people with a well-placed smile. He's even flustered a youkai woman on the far end of the Kinsey scale with one.

Hinoe: Why do you have to be a man!

  • Alviss of Marchen Awakens Romance. Lampshaded in the series the few times he has smiled genuinely as seen here.
  • Kanda Yuu of D.Gray-man. He's the group's resident cranky Jerkass, but when he smiles, he smiles.
    • He smiles in episode 93 of this clip as well.
  • The titular Inuyasha.
  • Baccano!: Elmer seems to have a tendency to make bets with himself to see if he could make Huey smile within a certain time period.
  • Yuki of Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru. Also, Luka. In chapter 21 Luka tells Yuki "I'm glad to see you smiling. I wish you could keep smiling like that." and touches his face.
  • D.N.Angel: Kurashima Menou as well as Satoshi Hiwatari.
  • Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach, who is a Perpetual Frowner/scowler, turns from a rather scary-looking guy to a total heartthrob when he smiles.
  • In Death Note, L gets one scene where he is shown smiling as he says "Justice Will Prevail". Many fangirls rejoiced.
  • In The Prince of Tennis, there are exactly two (perhaps three) instances in which Tezuka Kunimitsu can be seen smiling: one is after a very symbolic match with his best friend Fuji Shusuke, the other is after his team has just won the National Tournament against the supposedly-unbeatable Rikkaidai. The last one, Inui Sadaharu even felt necessary to get on tape.
  • Lucy hardly ever smiles (Slasher Smiles notwithstanding), but when she does...
  • In The Familiar of Zero season 4 episode 5 Saito says he feels happy when he sees Louise smile.
  • In Vampire Hunter D, D's (very, very rare) smiles are apparently worthy of historical documentation.

If that boy could have seen it, he would have told people for the rest of his days how he'd been the one to bring it out. It was just such a smile.

  • Konzen, from Saiyuki, like his later incarnation, Sanzo, is very pretty but has a permanent scowl. Goku, his surrogate son, thinks he'd be beautiful if he did smile. Subverted, though, as when he finally does Goku decides it doesn't suit him at all, even though it is a completely genuine loving smile. Doubles as a crowning moment of heartwarming, as essentially Goku is saying he loves Konzen as he is.
  • Mika and Koharu of Koharu no Hibi just want Akira to always be happy and smile. And Koharu is normally a creepy Stepford Smiler Yandere but she does genuinely smile here without any insanity or creepiness behind it.
  • Nako of Poor Poor Lips, with her kid-like proportions, is frequently mentioned by Ren to not be her type. However, all of that changes when Nako flashes one of her genuine smiles...

Ren: The thing I want most in the world, is to see her smile.

Comic Books

  • The rare times Batman smiles—a real smile, not a fake "Bruce Wayne, idiot billionaire playboy" smile—can be either really creepy or really heartwarming, depending on the context.

Fan Works

  • Kyon, already described as average-looking in Kyon: Big Damn Hero, whose smile is a source of security and relief to Tsuruya.


  • The Ironic Hell for suicides in Wristcutters: A Love Story is just like the real world, except that nothing works, everything's kind of gray, and it's impossible to smile. After seeing nothing but despondent looks from all of the characters for the entire movie, the last shot—the leads smiling at one another—is like a wash of beautiful sunlight.
  • Aurelia in Love Actually. In the commentary, Richard Curtis says he immediately decided to cast Lucia Moniz after she smiled during her audition, and immediately went from dour plain woman to radiant beauty.
  • Sense and Sensibility. The Colonel, as played by Alan Rickman. He's looked like the incarnation of gloom throughout the film, and then, in the final scene when he's married Marianne, his face lights up and he seems to have dropped about ten years of age.
    • Also Elinor, as played by Emma Thompson, who lights up with one bright, beaming, radiant smile at the end of the film and immediately negates about five minutes' worth of Inelegant Blubbering. Edward's besotted expression says it all.
  • Pride and Prejudice. Mr. Darcy as played by Matthew Macfadyen in the 2005 version. Throughout the entire film, he's extremely solemn, reserved, and aloof, then near the end when he's about to ask Mr. Bennet if he can marry Elizabeth, he smiles - ever so slightly - and it lights up his entire face.
  • Thor's big cheesy Adorkable smile when Darcy takes a picture of him.
    • And, surprisingly, Loki, albeit in a deleted scene. Even if you doubt his motives for going with Thor, it's one of very few scenes in the film where he looks genuinely happy about something (if only for a few seconds). And damn does he look adorable.
  • Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite. Hell, we waited the entire movie for him to show ANY goddamn facial expressions at ALL. But when he finally smiles, it is beautiful.
  • Kung Fu Panda has that beautiful moment at the end when Tigress, after being a Sour Supporter for most of the story with Po, is the first to acknowledge him as a Master and gives him a sweet smile that would appear to be the start of much more as the series progresses.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Kim. She's completely serious throughout the movie, but when you look through the bloopers and outtakes and you see her laugh, or smile... She's absolutely beautiful.
  • Completely subverted in Addams Family Values when Perpetual Frowner Wednesday Addams decides to smile after being tortured by Disney films and other musicals at a ridiculously cheery summer camp. When she does smile, some of the other camp girls start to cry in terror.
  • Warren in Sky High. For reference, behold behold Kubrick!Warren and, for contrast, grinning!Warren. Oh my, I'm all swoony!


  • In Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson's short story collection Water: Tales of the Elemental Spirits, the main character in one the stories is described as one of these ("Her face lit up with kindness and humor and intelligence.") The same phrase, in an non-ironic echo, is used to describe her Love Interest.
  • Meghan Whalen Turner's short story collection Instead Of Three Wishes has the protagonist of the titular story fitting the trope. Her honest smile "could make flowers bloom early" and stuns the elf king who's known her for a while when he finally sees her smile for real.
    • Turner likes this trope. Helen/Eddis from her Queen's Thief series is described as mannish and decidedly NOT beautiful... but even the dour Magus admits that she has a lovely smile.
  • Number Ten Ox's description of Lotus Cloud in Bridge of Birds. He goes on about how she looks like just a normal, unremarkable peasant girl. "and then she smiled..." and Ox falls instantly in love, as does every other male with a working libido. she is a goddess in disguse, after all.
  • In the novelizations of Red Dwarf, Kochanski's "Pinball Smile" is mentioned a couple of times; when she smiles she lights up like a pinball machine when you hit the jackpot.
  • In Wheel of Time, Anaiya is described as homely, honest, and has a beautiful smile.
    • Tuon has also been described this way when she isn't being The Stoic.
    • The series also provides a male example: when Min first meets the noble who wills become the future King of Tear, she more or less decides that he's ok looking, but with too big a nose. Then he smiles, and she decides that any length of nose can be forgiven with a smile like that.
  • Anne Abbott in They Shall Have Stars by James Blish.
  • In John Green's An Abundance of Katherines, Lindsey Lee Wells' "smile could end wars and cure cancer."
  • When Anne of Green Gables was growing up the issue of her beauty was a topic of discussion by many, with the final consensus usually being that she didn't have conventional beauty but did have some unknown element about her that could occasionally blossom out:

"How perfectly lovely!" exclaimed Anne, her gray eyes lighting up until they looked like evening stars, causing Mrs. Lynde to wonder anew if she would ever get it settled to her satisfaction whether Anne Shirley were really a pretty girl or not.

    • L.M. Montgomery also makes Emily Byrd Starr's smile beautiful yet a little strange at the same time: it completely changes her face, but it blooms slowly. She inherited it from her mother, and it instantly wins over her Aunt Laura, who loved Emily's mother dearly.
  • In Jean Auel's The Valley of Horses, Thonolan (and everyone else) thinks Jetamio is not-unattractive, until "Oh woman, you are beautiful when you smile."
  • In The Great Gatsby, Gatsby's smile is described as disarming to a suspicious extent, so transforming that it must be hiding something.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series this describes the Queen's Own Herald quite well. While Talia is preparing for her wedding, the groom walks in, prompting the following observation from Jeri: "Two hours I spend on her, and in two eyeblinks he makes everything I did look insignificant."
  • Rare Male Example: In Tamora Pierce's Tortall Universe, master thief George Cooper "had a nose too big for good looks, but when he smiled he appeared handsome."
  • In Gail Carson Levine's short chapter book "For Biddle's Sake," Parsley has such a beautiful smile that not only does it melt the heart of anyone who sees it, but they completely ignore her slightly green teeth (from all the parsley she eats).
  • Mordion from Diana Wynne Jones' Hexwood is fairly alarming looking - he's tall, gawky, much too skinny, and his face is frequently said to resemble a skull. However, he has such a transformatively warm and beautiful smile that the female protagonist almost falls out of a tree the first time she sees it. Interestingly, at points he is actually seen to deploy the power of his smile strategically.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire occasionally lists several major flaws in Ygritte's appearance and then comments that when she smiles they are much less noticeable.
    • Subverted with Brienne of Tarth; when she wins a spot on Renly's Rainbow Guard, her delighted smile lights up her face, but it doesn't make her any less hideously ugly.
    • Played with in the case of Tywin Lannister. He has apparently never smiled since his wife died, which is lamented by his brother and other people who knew him when he was a nicer man. His son Tyrion is present on several occasions when Tywin almost smiles, but instead of being a heartwarming moment, the look is described as "terrible", probably because the context suggests it would be a Slasher Smile. The only time a true smile appears on Tywin's face is after he has been killed, and even then the maesters say the smile is not genuine, and is only a tightening of the facial muscles as the body starts to decompose. Tywin's children (unsurprisingly) prefer to imagine that he is at peace.
  • Another male example: Sheftu from Eloise Mcgraw's Mara Daughter of the Nile. Another male character mentions that Sheftu is actually so plain as to be almost ugly, but his smile (along with his super-suaveness) prevents any woman from realizing this.
  • In The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Kit is unaware of her dazzling smile, and confused by the romantic overtures it invites.
  • Tolstoy uses this trope in War and Peace describing Natasha and, to some extent, Princess Marya. At first, it isn't the smile but the expression of her eyes, but in the scene of her second meeting with Nicolas Rostov it's played literally.
  • From the YA novel Jacob Have I Loved: the protagonist (who is young, island-born and Protestant) has just been chatting with a Catholic, mountain-born widower. At first she thinks he doesn't understand her at all...

"But then, oh, my blessed, he smiled. I guess I knew right then I was going to marry him: God, Pope, three motherless children, unspellable surname and all. For when he smiled, he looked like the kind of man that would sing to the oysters."

  • Somehow averted in the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice when Darcy states that Jane "smiles to much".
  • In Meg Cabot's Airhead series, the lead Emerson who is actually in super-model's Nikki Howard's body describes everybody (boys and girls) as having this reaction to Nikki's smile, as opposed to what happened when she smiled on her own body.
  • In Donna Jo Na Poli's Bound (a Chinese "Cinderella" retelling), the prince was amused by Xing Xing's impudence. But once she smiled at him, he was surprised (and delighted) and at once, he was certainly interested in getting to know her.
  • The first time Ron and Harry notice how attractive Hermione has become is when she laughs and shows how her teeth had been fixed.
    • Actually, that's only how Ron noticed. Harry only figured it out at the Yule Ball.
    • Also, Sirius Black. He's not in great shape after breaking out of prison, but after he invites Harry to live with him and Harry happily accepts, he smiles for probably the first time since his imprisonment, and it makes him look ten year younger.
  • In Lucifer's Hammer, the character of Eileen is the epitome of this trope: plain-looking, but with a smile that literally stops traffic.
  • In the YA book Will Grayson Will Grayson.

Will Grayson #1: [Jane's] whole face changes when she smiles—this eyebrow-lifting, perfect-teeth-showing, eye-crinkling smile I've either never seen or never noticed.

  • Prince Henry from The Wild Hunt Trilogy. "Henry laughed aloud. The plain features lit up, became attractively mischievous..."
  • Margaret in Sisters, No Way. Aishling at one point notices how old she is looking lately but then Margaret smiles and Aishling relaxes. Cindy also remarks "she's not a very attractive woman but she has a nice smile".
  • In The Dresden Files, minor side-character Vince Graver from Turn Coat was described as The Nondescript until his last scene, when he smiles. Dresden notes that the smile completely changes him from a generic average Joe to someone who could light up the room just by being there.
    • Note: Yes, it was Dresden describing this, and no, the description in the book had no Ho Yay whatsoever.
    • In the The Dresden Files, little Inara Raith is described as "pretty" but has a smile that makes her radiant.
    • Thomas is described this way with a charming smile.
  • Sharpe, who is described as looking perpetually sardonic and mocking due to a Badass Scar, except when he smiles. Which isn't often, and then he looks kind and charming. Since he normally looks like some ancient God of War in mid battle, this is an improvement. It is worth noting that he is always described as roguishly handsome, its just that he looks kind when he smiles.
  • In Harry Turtledove's Worldwar, Mordechai Anielewicz finds Bertha Fleishman more attractive when she smiles, normally considering her plain.
  • In So Long and Thanks For All The Fish, Wonko the Sane is a weird-looking dude, but when he smiles...

But his smile when he turned it on you was quite remarkable. It seemed to be composed of all the worst things that life can do to you, but which, when he briefly reassembled them in that particular order on his face, made you suddenly feel, "Oh. Well that's all right then."

  • In A Reluctant Queen by Joan Wolf, a retelling of the story of Esther from the Bible, Esther was already deemed a pretty girl but when she smiled, it was enough to warm anyone's hands, as noted by her Uncle Mordecai. And before her interview with the king, she was told by the lady in charge of the girls waiting to see the king to smile because "[her] smile was [her] greatest beauty."
  • In Tales of Kolmar, the usually serious, inclined-to-brood mage Vilkas is noted by one character to be "pleasant enough, if only he'd smile now and again". Later she says her wish is granted, and she notes "a broad glorious smile that lit up his face and showed the joy that danced behind his eyes". At the end of the series he's more inclined to smiling in general.
  • Asher in Someone Elses War is a rare male example. His face is heavily scarred, and he spends most of his time shunning emotion as weakness. Smiling (or laughing) makes a huge improvement to his appearances, but he doesn't do it often.
  • Amelia Peabody Emerson's son Walter, nicknamed Ramses, is handsome as it is in a saturnine way -- something like Sharpe, above -- but when he laughs his attractiveness gets dialed way up. Even his mother is a bit stunned the first time she sees how charming it makes him. There's a scene in one book when Ramses laughs so hard that he has to sit down, and Amelia notices but doesn't realize the significance that his foster sister is totally focused on watching him. They soon marry and Babies Ever After.

Live-Action TV

  • Sarina, one of the Augments in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that works with Bashir in "Statistical Improbabilities", is catatonic in that appearance due to her senses being too slow for her brain to process. In a later appearance, Bashir is able to get her highly accelerated neural pathways in tune with her senses, breaking her out of her catatonia...and the first time she smiles, Bashir is absolutely smitten with her.
  • This is a fairly common reaction to Francine's "better moments" in Alias.
    • The same actress' utterly fake, unconvincing Stepford smile on Malcolm in the Middle, however, is slightly unsettling (her character was a squeaky clean, passive-aggressive control freak for quite a while).
  • Parker on Leverage is a Perpetual Frowner and generally antisocial person, but occasionally she just looks so darned cute!
    • Even cuter, if that's even possible, while wearing her version of an angel costume. Adorable
  • It seems to be a pattern with people named Parker. I quoted Shawn Mullins in regards to Ms. Parker of The Pretender:

"She'd be a whole lot prettier if she smiled once in a while."

  • In a deleted scene from The Thick of It, we discover that, according to a "worm poll", the public really love Hugh Abbott's smile.
  • Done subtly but very deliberately in Firefly with River. River, being River, doesn't tend to smile very often. Thus, the scenes where she is smiling tend to be that much sunnier and happier. It is played especially well in the movie Serenity, where River only smiles once in the entire movie, and that is at the very end while talking with Mal.
  • Generally inverted in The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Cameron does not smile much - and everytime she is shown smiling, it is creepy as hell because the audience knows she's smiling to manipulate people. The sole exception to this is in the episode "Allison From Palmdale" where a scene showing her laughing and smiling is played as this trope - as Cameron is in her "Allison" persona and thinks she's human, and thus feels real emotions.
  • A male example of the trope is Aaron Hotchner in Criminal Minds. 99% of the time, he's so stoic and serious, his coworkers guiltily slink away if he catches them joking around with each other. Although, there are times he takes the role of the Deadpan Snarker and makes things ten times funnier when you realize the comment is coming from The Stoic. Once in a blue moon, though, he smiles at one of them or at his young son, and his whole face lights up with affection.
  • Aeryn was a good example of this in the early days of Farscape. The rare occasions when she dropped her tough girl facade and gave a smile (usually as a result of something Crichton did) really brightened up the show.
  • Sharon Small actually managed to subdue her own good looks enough to make Barbara Havers of The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, if not unattractive, at the very least mostly unremarkable, thanks to a bad haircut and Barbara's absolute lack of fashion sense - and Barbara, due to her defensive nature, also spends an awful lot of time bitching, grumping and otherwise grousing about life. But when she truly smiled, there was absolutely no concealing the fact that Barbara was hands-down the most beautiful woman on the show.
  • From Merlin: the actors Bradley James (Arthur), Colin Morgan (Merlin) and Angel Coulby (Guinevere) have stunning smiles, all the more so because they are slightly imperfect (Bradley has crooked teeth, Colin's is a bit goofy, and Angel's is always slightly wistful), but when called upon to smile - especially at each other - you would swear that the sun shines a little brighter. See for yourself.
  • Dr. K from Power Rangers RPM. For a character that has No Social Skills whatsoever and comes across as a deadpan Little Miss Snarker, along with an extremely depressing past, she has a very endearing smile—a rare occurrence throughout the series. This becomes a sign that she opens up to her team as she does it more and more. It even becomes a plot point in the episode "If Venjix Won" when Ziggy Grover brings her the gift of a smile on her birthday by performing an elaborate shadow puppet show while being trapped in a cave.
    • Also in the Super Sentai series, Sakura Nishihori/Bouken Pink started out as a super serious member of the SGS and can't smile ever. It takes one mission to finally make her smile for a boy she's taking care of. As her leader said, her smile is possessed by only hers alone, and during the climax of the series, she did declare that her smile was her greatest treasure.
  • Wonderfalls: Caroline Dhavernas is stunning as required per Hollywood law, but she manages to disguise the fact by looking permanently flabbergasted, resentful or miserable... until the very last scene.
  • In the live-action drama of Nodame Cantabile, resident stoic Kiyora was already pretty, being played by Asami Mizukawa. But you can see a notable difference when she is indifferent to when she smiles.
  • Horatio Hornblower. Ioan Gruffudd is a very attractive man, but when he actually smiles (which is rare in the series as Horatio is a fairly serious character) it makes him that much more gorgeous. The first time one of his men salutes him he gets the most adorable surprised/pleased look, all the more stunning given that he's spent most of the episode looking quite miserable.
  • Penny Parker (there's that name again!), the recurring character Teri Hatcher played on MacGyver, made her debut in an episode called... "Every Time She Smiles."
  • Dean Winchester of Supernatural. When he actually smiles (instead of flashing a Stepford Smile at whichever poor waitress etc happens to be nearby), it's a kiddish grin. And that kiddish grin just makes him all the much better, considering the amount of angst he gets.
  • Babylon 5's Ambassador Delenn, as played by Mira Furlan. In a season 5 episode, one character remarks that he'd claw his way through solid rock just to see that smile.
  • In Warehouse 13 Pete tells Myka to smile because he thinks she looks pretty when she smiles.

Pete "Smile. You're pretty when you smile"

Cordelia: And you ought to do that more often.
Angel: Buy you food?
Cordelia: Smile.


  • "The girl works at the store sweet Jane St. Clair / Was dazzled by her smile while I shopped there." - Barenaked Ladies, Jane.
    • That's a reference to the extended version of "Sweet Jane": "Heavenly wine and roses seem to whisper to her when he smiles; heavenly wine and roses seem to whisper to her when she smiles." Hear it here.
  • "and all her friends tell her / she's so pretty / but she'd be a whole lot prettier / if she smiled once in a while" - Shawn Mullins, Lullabye. (See The Pretender reference above.)
  • "Here in town you can tell he's been down for a while / But, my God, it's so beautiful when the boy smiles," - Anna Nalick, Breathe (2am)
  • As mentioned in the page quite, Nine Days' "Absolutely (Story of a Girl)" defines this trope and may well be the trope namer.
  • "When I See You Smile" by Bad English could also be this trope's theme song.
  • As seen in the quotes page, Van Morrison's "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)" and The Stone Roses' "Standing Here".
  • Mikael Akerfeldt. Not that he's normally unattractive, but when he smiles, he can be almost Moe.
  • "Just The Way You Are" by Bruno Mars: "And when you smile, the whole world stops and stares for a while." Wow, that has to be one heck of a smile.
    • And to think she's amazing just the way she is...
  • Celtic Woman's Órla Fallon. While she is hardly unattractive, she tends to fade into the shadows next to Lisa, Máiréad, Chloë, and Méav - but when her face lights up with a smile, there is no more beautiful woman on that stage, and you will feel the urge to smile right back at her. She's like a living ray of sunshine.
  • Supertramp's "Know who you are"

"When you smile we can see the sun"

It's like, I didn't need to
Say anything or do much, I could tell
When you smile
All of the sub-atomic pieces come together
And unfold themselves
In a second

  • In what might be the worst song Bruce Springsteen's ever written ("Queen of the Supermarket"), there is this lovely little gem about the explosive qualities of a grocer's smile:

"As I lift my groceries in to my car/I turn back for a moment and catch a smile/That blows this whole fucking place apart"

  • Dia Frampton, "Inventing Shadows":

Don't you know the world shines
Every time you smile?
Why cant you just smile?

When you smile, I don't know what to do
‍'‍Cos I could lose everything in a minute or two
And it seems like the end of the world...
...when you smile.

You so
when you

  • Mental as Anything's Live It Up includes the prediction:

If you smiled the walls would fall down
On all the people in this pickup joint

Newspaper Comics

  • Peanuts: All those moments of shame, defeat and unhappiness and depression Charlie Brown goes through is worth it to the reader just to see him when he's really, truly happy.


  • In the comic opera The Firefly (no relation to Firefly), a waif wins a man over from his Disposable Fiancée by smiling at him.
  • Cyrano De Bergerac: Roxane is extremely beautiful even without smiling, but at Act I scene V, Cyrano mentions that her smile is akin to perfection. In act IV scene V, we know this is not an Informed Ability because of Roxane's answer to the Gascon cadets about how she passed enemy lines to smuggle them food:

Roxane: None too hard. I but drove quietly forward in my carriage, and when some hidalgo of haughty mien would have stayed me, lo! I showed at the window my sweetest smile, and these Senors being (with no disrespect to you) the most gallant gentlemen in the world, — I passed on!
Carbon: True, that smile is a passport!

  • In The Little Foxes, Regina has a smile that profoundly affects her brother Ben.

Video Games

  • Cloud gives the smallest of smiles at the end of Advent Children, which though small was very cute. Apparently the producer was so shocked when he read it that he had some sort of revelation.
    • Not to mention Nobuo Uematsu, who was so surprised by this while reading the script that he was prompted to call the finale song "Cloud Smiles".
  • Squall, the main character of Final Fantasy VIII, is The Stoic and never smiles until the very end. And it's gorgeous.
    • Same thing was done in Dissidia. He doesn't smile up until the ending, and damn is it worth it.
  • Lightning of Final Fantasy XIII has this in common with her Spear Counterpart. Aww. (It's worth noticing that this is fairly early on, probably why it's a sad smile... but still gorgeous.) Seems someone at Square Enix has a thing for this trope.
    • And she does it again in Dissidia Duodecim, though very briefly, during the ending scene (1:50 of the video - of course, spoilers).
  • Natasha of Fire Emblem 8, while already beautiful, is very serious and leans towards The Woobie. Naturally, most of her romantic supports feature the wooer attempting to cheer her up.
    • Similarly, Ninian of Fire Emblem 7 is usually very shy and somber, but actually laughs in one chapter at the antics of Hector and Lyn.
      • To a lesser extent, Fiora, who can be made to smile by any of her three love interests (Sain, Kent, and Eliwood).
    • Fire Emblem 4 has Fury, a serious and naive Lady of War. Her love talks often involve her love interests trying t get her to loosen up and smile.
  • Persona 3 Portable makes Shinjiro Aragaki into this. While in the main game he's something of a Perpetual Frowner, the female protagonist gets the chance to reveal some Hidden Depths and see him smile - and when he does, it's startlingly attractive.
    • Persona 2 does this, too. Tatsuya, of all people, has this to the point where Maya points it out in the bomb shelter.
  • In Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, Albus' Last Request as his soul is sacrificed for Dominus is for Shanoa to give him one last smile. She does.
  • In her Soulcalibur IV ending, Amy Sorel breaks the fourth wall with a cute yet ominous smirk.
  • Dyshana in Record of Agarest War will never smile at all until the fifth generation where she finally does break out that smile. That happy smile is gorgeous to look at.
  • The already lovely Morrigan in Dragon Age: Origins is even more so when she's smiling.
  • Namine when Sora, Donald, and Goofy's antics cause her to laugh in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories.
  • Samus in Metroid: Other M pulls something like this off a couple of times, towards the end.
  • In Mass Effect 2 the Badass Mad Scientist Mordin has a great moment before the mission on Horizon. It's one of the first hints that he's Not So Stoic.
  • Throughout F.E.A.R. 3, the Point Man's face has been locked into moderate variations of either stoic determination or quiet fury, up until the end. During the Point Man's ending, while cradling his newborn sibling, he breaks into a smile before walking away.
  • KOS-MOS from Xenosaga, resident Robot Girl and Emotionless Girl, is already VERY attractive normally, but when she smiles at the end of Episode III, she's drop dead gorgeous.
  • Kyle Hyde from Hotel Dusk: Room 215. Normally, he is either frowning or poker faced. But when he breaks out one of these shiners...

Visual Novels

  • Lana Skye, in the end of the bonus case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, having finally escaped the grasp of Gant and finally being at peace with herself, grants us a wonderful smile.
    • Also Adrian Andrews at the end of 2-4.
    • Vera Misham.
    • Machi Tobaye. For a boy who spends so much of the trial communicating by way of vaguely sinister lense flare, his smile is simply stunning.
    • An interesting subversion can be found in Phoenix's perpetually perky sidekick Maya Fey. The first time Phoenix meets Maya, however, it is under rather miserable and unfortunate circumstances. When Maya at last flashes her signature cheerful grin, Phoenix notes that she looks like an entirely different person when she smiles.
  • Part of the fun of the Fate route of Fate/stay night is seeing the different reactions Shirou provokes out of Saber.
  • In Little Busters!, Nishizono Mio gets this treatment even in-universe.

Mio: "I'm so glad."
Riki: "I am, too."
Mio: "...Why?"
Riki: "Because I now know you can smile like that."

Protagonist: "I have the feeling it's the first time I see her smiling, without being on her guards. It feels like she's a different person."

  • Raizze Haimer, the Emotionless Girl of Mitsumete Knight, has a special event and CG, where she has a rare beautiful smile, when the Asian is poisoned and she manages to save him. The game's CG Gallery names this CG "Mezurashii Egao" ("An unusual smiling face").

Web Comics

  • Homestuck is home to several examples:
    • Dave Strider has been shown smiling exactly once over the course of the comic, which as of now is around 6000 pages long. It can be seen here, and even though it's only one pixel of difference it is extremely adorable.
    • John is goofy looking to the point of bordering on Ugly Cute, but within two pages of the comic's beginning you see him smile. Even later, he's positively adorkable.
    • In [S] Equius: Seek the Highb100d, Equius's smile (accompanied by playing with is hair) is adorable.
    • Aradia Megido is an odd example. When she enters the story, she's the resident Eeyore and Emotionless Girl, but she departs from this gloominess twice. The first is in a flashback to just before her death, and the second is when she hugs Sollux just before her robot body explodes. Then she gets over the issue that had been causing her gloominess,[1] and now she's almost constantly smiling. Though the smile on her sprite mode is a bit more subtle than the one from her hero mode and close-up pictures. Further flashbacks have shown that she smiled more often in the backstory as well—so her emotionless state from earlier in the comic had actually been a departure from the norm for Aradia all along.
    • In the most recent development of the 'Sober Gamzee' arc, Karkat is finally seen genuinely smiling as he manages to calm Gamzee down and establish his role as Gamzee's moirail. This smile stands out due to Karkat's characterization as someone who rages and screams constantly and is constantly negative, making it stand out.
  • The Cyantian Chronicles: Celina is typically scowling or straight faced, but she has one of the warmest smiles of all the cast.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Daria epitomizes this trope. She may look at the world with a jaundiced eye and a sharp tongue, but when she gives you a small smile when you've done something right or smart, then you will know it is the sincerest kind of thing she can give you. The show even used the Trope Namer song in one episode.
    • The opening sequence actually features this at the very end, though it's so zoomed in at that point you can only see her little smirk and not the rest of her face.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender Prince Zuko, despite the fangirl hype, has a disfigured face that only a mother could love... until he smiles. The expression is rare, disarming, and shockingly transforming.
    • Somewhat appropriately, this extends to his Love Interest Mai as well- while she's conventionally good looking, you wouldn't really call her cute because of her perpetually sour expression. But on the rare occasions when she smiles... well, together with Zuko, there's a reason this [dead link] is one of the sweetest moments of the series.
    • This fanfic[2] put it this way: "Zuko's smile had widened, warm and genuine and little startled. He looked younger, disarmingly so, and Sokka found himself smiling back."
  • In Teen Titans, it's implied that Beast Boy feels this way toward Raven, as he puts immense effort into getting her to smile.
  • Subverted in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, where they try to get Mandy to smile. However getting her to smile is so out of the realm of reality it literally causes the universe to implode.
  1. (that is, she came back from death... as a god-tier player)
  2. heads up: it's Sokka/Zuko