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Dogbert: Is it true that you pretend to be cute in order to manipulate adults!!

Little Girl: (sniff, sniff)

Dogbert: Oh, hey, wait... I'm just kidding. Can I buy you something expensive?

This is a kid who has all the stereotypically adorable childlike mannerisms: thumb-sucking, lisping, puppy-dog eyes, and so on. Really, though, they're just faking it all; they've figured out it's a good way to get what they want.

Sometimes characters like this are Really Seven Hundred Years Old (and probably took the form of a small child precisely because it lends itself to being manipulative). On the other hand, they might just be kids who've figured out their elders' emotional cheat codes.

In Japan, this often overlaps with the burikko, that is, a fake Kawaiiko.

Compare Kawaiiko, as well as the more sinister Enfant Terrible who just might use this to get away with their horrible deeds, and The Fake Cutie who does something similar despite being an adult. Contrast the genuinely adorable Cheerful Child. A favorite tactic of Little Miss Con Artist.

Examples of Deliberately Cute Child include:

Anime and Manga

  • From Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Rika Furude is universally adored by everyone in the town, especially her friends. However, she's also fully aware of the town's Groundhog Day Loop, and remembers all of her past lives, meaning she's arguably one of the oldest and wisest people in Hinamizawa, despite being stuck in the body of a prepubescent girl. She is extremely unsettling whenever she drops her cheerful and innocent facade, to the point that the sharp contrast can easily be misattributed to Demonic Possession in the early chapters. Her reason for adopting the Cheerful Child persona is less about manipulating people and more about not wanting to alarm anyone unless the situation is serious.
  • In Pokémon, there was once a wild Teddiursa that behaved like this to get food from trainers and tourists. He became a nuisance until he evolved into Ursaring, when he couldn't use his charms to get stuff anymore. Except from Team Rocket.
    • Two regions later in Sinnoh, a Togepi played everyone for saps to get full run of Team Rocket's new base. Including the built-in space rocket.
  • In Slayers:
    • The very powerful and very evil Demon Lord Hellmaster Fibrizo often takes the form of a young child to deceive people. He fools everyone who sees him, up to and including another Demon Lord. The only one to see through his disguise is Xelloss, who in any case is openly working for him. Sort of. For a while, anyway. In the manga, Fibrizo takes the form of a girl who happens to also be an actual character from Lina's past. When Fibrizo is defeated, the girl is set free, so it might have been some sort of possession.
    • Lina herself has been known to do this occasionally (prominently early in the first novel), taking advantage of her slight build and, ah, flat figure to appear cute, harmless and slightly ditzy.
  • Detective Conan:
    • Conan Edogawa often does this to throw people off from suspecting he's really seventeen year old Shinichi Kudo. Though he can on occasion take it too far and has a time or two been called out by his kid friends for doing it. The really impressive part is that, when he's nosing around crime scenes, he has to walk a very fine line so that his adorable-little-kidness draws the adults' attention to important clues, without drawing their attention to how frequently this happens (or, worse, that he's doing it deliberately), and for the most part, he pulls it off.
    • Fellow shrinkee Ai Haibara typically doesn't bother with this, though one of the movies subverts the trope by having her attempt to be a Deliberately Cute Child freak the hell out of Conan.
  • Murumo, the little brother of the main character of Mirumo de Pon! acts like the sweetest kid in front of most people, but his dark side is usually revealed to the audience and his older brother. One of his image songs is about this trope.
  • Czes from Baccano. Really Seven Hundred Years Old. He does tend to drop the Adorably Precocious Child act pretty quickly, but keeps claiming that he's not used to being treated any other way.
  • In Baccano's successor series Durarara, Aoba is one. He's so good at pulling it off that he's managed to frame his brother for many crimes as well as getting away with many of them. Add the fact that he's described with a baby face despite being a high school student. Of course, he lets it slip every now and then...and when he does...
  • Rita from the Final OVA of Jungle wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu, who appears to be the nicest person in the whole class, until it turns out she does it selfishly to get praise and make herself happy (In the end, Hare's presence and comforting turn her into a genuinely nice person.) Guu herself does this on occasion, most notably during her introduction.
  • Saki from Kanamemo. While a Little Miss Snarker at work, she acts cute in public in order to sell newspaper subscriptions.
  • Pride of Fullmetal Alchemist aka Selim Bradley pretends to be a sweet and kind young boy. In reality, he is a cruel little monster who has a habit of eating his allies when they are no longer of use to him.
  • Amber of Darker Than Black suffers from Merlin Sickness, and thus has the form of a Moe girl. She talks in a cute voice and will do things such as, for instance, suffer from Cuteness Proximity when interacting with Mao. She is also an incredibly ruthless (albeit well-intentioned) Magnificent Bastard.
  • Katja from Seikon no Qwaser, who is... let's just say that the scenes where she's pretending to be innocent and adorable are also the only scenes featuring her that are safe for work.
  • Miharu from Nabari no Ou fits this trope to a T. He blushes wildly in order to get his way in what seems like a hundred different situations, from forcing a basketball player on the opposing team to let him make a basket to getting a shopkeeper to give him free clothes.
  • Stella from Arakawa Under the Bridge appears to be a sugary sweet orphan girl who just wants to give people a big hug when Kou first meets her. She quickly reveals her true nature as a Cute Bruiser with a mean streak who can and will beat him up to hold dominance over him.
  • Medusa of Soul Eater attempts this once or twice after she takes over the body of a young girl. Doesn't really work, actually.

 Medusa: Why do I have to wear this, Mister? It gives my hands ouchies!

In the manga she convinces Spirit to unchain her by appearing cute and so reminding him of his own, not-possessed daughter. Typical Medusa, she pulls off a similar trick in reverse - remind the daughter of her father - on Maka in the Baba Yaga arc. Forget the Clowns, pulling such simple tricks (justifiably, given who and how) like that is why she, not Asura, is the proper Big Bad.

Comic Books

  • Molly Hayes from Runaways is a slightly older (eleven at the opening of the story) variation.

Fan Works


  • Veruca Salt in Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tries this out on Willy Wonka, but he's not fooled.
  • Orphan has Esther Coleman, who can charm any adult she wants with her carefully calculated veneer of wistful cuteness. It's so deliberate she even wears her hair in curls and only dresses in old fashioned classic little girl clothing.
  • In Kick-Ass, Mindy pulls this trick on D'Amico's goons by showing up at his place in school uniform and pig-tails, claiming to have lost her mommy and daddy. It doesn't work out well for the goons.



 Twyla: I'm afwaid of the monster in the cellar, Thusan. It's going to eat me up.

Susan: What have I told you about trying to sound ingratiatingly cute, Twyla?"

Twyla: You said I mustn't. You said that exaggerated lisping is a hanging offence and I only do it to get attention.

  • Twinkle from House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones, who falls into the Really Seven Hundred Years Old box. Well, 'Really About Thirty'. He has a good reason for it: he's deliberately drawing attention away from the real child, his son, so that any potential kidnappers will go after him instead. It works, too.
  • Bane from the Margaret Weis series The Death Gate Cycle is a particularly creepy combination of this trope with Enfant Terrible.
  • When April from "Dustbin Baby" enters into her fourth foster home, she realizes that one of the older girls will like her better if she acts this way. Because April is a little lost and needs a friend and caregiver, she obliges.
  • Aphrael, the Child-Goddess of David Eddings' Elenium and Tamuli: As her name suggests, she constantly retains the form of a child, and just as constantly uses this to manipulate others into giving her what she wants. To her credit, she feels genuine love and affection for those around her and goes to great lengths for their protection.
  • From The Heritage of Shannara, there is Tib Arne. What a cute, enthusiastic little boy. Oh, one more thing, he's a member of The Heartless, ripped people apart frighteningly easily, and then delivered "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Wren. It is actually not an act in this case, and even when revealed as the mole, he acts like a child about it.
  • Baby Dwopple in the Redwall book Marlfox steals food and shoots adults with a miniature sling, then clings to his adoptive mother weeping and exaggerating his Baby Talk beyond even usual Dibbun levels until she yells at the others for trying to tell him off.
  • Markie in Little Myth Marker does adorable little kid things like mispronouncing words, and bluntly spitting out offensive statements. She turns out to be an character assassin sent to ruin Skeeve's reputation, and a full grown woman to boot; natives of her dimension just happen to look like seven-year-old Klahds their entire lives.
  • Willie Connolly in the J.R. Lowell novel Daughter Of Darkness carefully maintains a facade as a darling, adorable and very happy Child Prodigy. She really is twelve, but that's about it.

Live Action TV

  • One episode of Highlander features an immortal with the body of a ten-year-old boy. He uses his seeming innocence to get close to other immortals, and then takes their heads when they aren't looking.
  • Michelle Tanner on Full House fits this trope to a T during her toddler years—it's even Lampshaded by her uncles a few times. When she grows older the role gets filled by twins Nicky and Alex.
  • In the Criminal Minds episode "Safe Haven", the UnSub is a thirteen-year-old who gets his victims to trust him by being cute and appearing vulnerable.
  • In Malcolm in the Middle, Malcolm and his brothers often accuse Dewey of being a Deliberately Cute Child.

Newspaper Comics

  • In Garfield, Nermal is a perpetual wide-eyed kitten. When asked how he's stayed that way for so many years, he replies, "I think small...and the coffee and the cigarettes don't hurt."
  • This Dilbert strip.


  • Annie of Catena uses this (and a flail) to get into a D&D game.
  • Though adult, Kalki from Drowtales really pushes the borders of cutesy behaviour. She's probably trying to avoid being associated with the mass slaughter she took part in some years back.
  • Autumn of Precocious uses a schoolgirl uniform to try to invoke this in others. Dionne is also said to do this when enrolled a beauty pageant; off the clock, she prefers her throne of bones.

Western Animation

  • Tinny Tim from Futurama is programmed to act this way. In one episode, where he sells lemonade, he says he's even programmed to make cute little backwards letters on signs.
    • Though not technically children Nibbler and the Catz from Those Darn Catz do this.
    • ->Nibbler: nothing acts that cute without some ulterior motive.
  • Tweety Bird of Looney Tunes fame. "Aw, da poor puddy tat. He faw down an' go Boom!" This, after carefully arranging poor Sylvester's defeat.
  • In Pinky and The Brain, Brain once disguises himself as an overly cute little girl to (you guessed it...) Take Over the World.
  • The one-shot characters called the Cuddlemuffins from My Gym Partner's a Monkey. They pretend to be very cute for Adam so that they can take his money to buy food pellets, which they do CONSTANTLY. Jake, Slips, and Windsor eventually help Adam when he sells his hair to pay the Cuddlemuffins off, but when they show up to act cute towards their next 3 victims, Adam stops it once and for all by shaving off the Cuddlemuffins' coats, as well as his friends'.
  • Angelica Pickles from Rugrats acts this way around grown-ups. Around the babies, it's another matter.
  • Suzy Johnson, Jeremy's little sister, from Phineas and Ferb. She fools her brother, but not Candice or Buford, who are both terrified of her.
  • In Batman: The Animated Series, the villain Baby Doll tries this on Batman and others. However, because she is actually a woman in her late thirties with a defect that prevents her from physically aging past 10 years old, and is also completely out of her mind, it doesn't work for her.
  • In Fillmore, Cornelius Fillmore and Ingrid Third are on their way to a store to get evidence. By the time they get there, the store's closed. In order to charm the store owner into letting them in Ingrid, normally a Perky Goth, announces, "I'm going to have to use my cute face. This won't be pretty." Later, Fillmore comments, "You sure took one for the team, Ingrid."
  • June of Ka Blam!. If you were to look at the "cute" act she puts on every once and a while, with no prior knowledge of her character, you wouldn't guess that she's one of the most (if not the most) hot-headed characters on the show.
  • Appeared on an episode of The Critic when Jay's boss tried to improve his image. Jay suggests having his son appear on the show with him - but rather than use Jay's actual son, his boss brings in a child actor whose cuteness comes complete with an "adowable" speech impediment. When Jay declares the kid "wepuwsive" the boy's voice goes down an octave, the impediment disappears, and he informs (in a Brooklyn accent) Jay that the speech impediment is trademarked.
  • Dot Warner of Animaniacs exploits her cuteness for all it's worth.
  • Claire from Titan Maximum is a twenty-one year old, who looks eight, but she also talks and acts eight, complete with an obsession for cuteness, and using words such as "sowwy". She's also an expert assassin.
  • Wilykat and Wilykit in ThunderCats (2011) are Catfolk kittens, depicted as a pair of Artful Dodgers who survived the slums of Thundera by playing up their cuteness when they weren't simply outsmarting and running circles around their targets. This is especially obvious when they first ask if they can tag along with Lion-O's group after Thundera is sacked, complete with Faux Paw and kittenish mewling.

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