Film critic Nathan Rabin famously coined the phrase “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” way back in 2007 after watching Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown.
The MPDG, he wrote, was “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”
Flavorwire’s Michelle Rafferty compiled a supercut examining the character trope throughout cinema. Think Natalie Portman in Garden State as the prime example, but, the archetype goes back at least as far as Katherine Hepburn in 1938’s Growing Up Baby.
My two favorite recent examples of this that cut across the grain were Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer, which was both MPDG and anti-MPDG simultaneously, and Kate Winslet’s character in Eternal Sunshine of the Mind, which was also anti-MPDG.