Zoltron Sees Sadness: How Mr. Frowney Perfectly Sums Up My Depression


CN: Mental illness, Suicide Ideation, Self-Injury

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that one of my all-time favorite TV shows is Steven Universe. For a cartoon, it has a lot of deep issues: abusive relationships, queer relationships, jealousy, regret, trauma, and, in a more recent episode, depression.

In “Future Boy Zoltron,” the local arcade owner Mr. Smiley buys a fortune telling machine called Zoltron (a nod to the classic fortune telling machine Zoltar). Unfortunately, Steven breaks it, so Mr. Smiley makes Steven put on silver make up and pretend to be Zotron to pay for a new machine. At first it’s all fun, until a sad British man asks Steven/Zoltron, “Will talking to him ever make any difference?” Steven tries to help him out, but even after borrowing some of Garnet’s future vision, nothing helps. Finally the man says, “I guess the curtain really did close on Mr. Smiley and Mr. Frowney. Nobody misses our act, not even him.” As soon as Mr. Frowney leaves, Steven tells Mr. Smiley that he just say Mr. Frowney. Mr. Smiley explains that he and Mr. Frowney used to perform stand-up comedy together. Mr. Smiley eventually catches up with Mr. Frowney and tells Mr. Frowney he wanted their act to work, but Mr. Frowney was just sad all the time. But just when Mr. Frowney is about to leave, Mr. Smiley goes into their own routine:

Smiley: “You having a bad day, Frowney?”

Frowney: “Horrible.”

Smiley: “Well, why don’t you go outside? The sun always cheers me up.”

Frowney: “I did, but it rained.”

Smiley: “Why don’t you use an umbrella?”

Frowney: “I did, but it blew away.”

Smiley: “Ooh, you must have been shocked.”

Frowney: “Yeah, that’s when the lightning hit me. Smiley, what do you do when you’re feeling down?”

Smiley: “[grabs Mr. Frowney] I just take my frown, [turns him upside down] and turn it around.”

And that’s when Mr. Smiley laughs because he finally got the joke.


When I’m having a bad depression spell, I am Mr. Frowney. No one and nothing can cheer me up. I end up isolating myself from everyone for days, not returning any texts or emails from anyone. I feel like everything I touch turns to shit like King Midas gone horribly wrong. I cut myself to make some sort of penance to a god I don’t believe in. I obsessively look at Kurt Cobian’s death scene photos over and over again, and imagine following in his footsteps.

But then right when all seems hopeless, some glimmer of hope shines through. It’s usually something small, but it’s enough for me to keep living.


This is the part where I’m supposed to wrap things up with a nice little encouraging message, but to be perfectly honest, I’ve been in total Mr. Frowney mode lately. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to take my frown and turn it around.


  1. obscure1 says

    Again, thanks for sharing. I have also lived with depression for years and while meds help to a certain extent the ol’ black dog never completely leaves. I find that vigorous exercise three or four times a week helps. Best of health to you.

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