Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Lucky he didn't get the ice powers, right?
Colonel Smithers looked exactly like someone who would be called Colonel Smithers.

Making a character look like the person they're supposed to be is perfectly legitimate character design. Then there are extreme cases where a character has some sort of incredibly rare or impossible combination of traits or even deformity that just works amazingly well with what they turn out to look like.

A hero with fire powers? He'll have been born with red and yellow hair that naturally stands up to look like fire, yellow eyes, a naturally hyper and excited personality, and he'll always wear bright red, yellow, and orange. Got a gal who finds a magical artifact that gives her Martial Arts and Crafts powers of Books? Then she'll "coincidentally" also have huge glasses, normally wear a librarian's tweed suit (skankily, of course), wear her hair in a bun, and otherwise look like she was born for the job of Library Lass.

This doesn't count for characters who get their appearance from who they are. TwoFace and the Joker don't count because their appearances caused their insanity, and vice-versa. Likewise in terms of powers, Colossus is a man made of steel, so being super strong and tough like steel should be logical. Those with Voluntary Shapeshifting powers are also excluded. They have actual mental control over their appearance, so it makes sense it would match up. The Penguin got his nickname for his combination of upper crust background, long nose, pot belly, and penchant for tuxedos.

But then there are characters who don't just wear clothes and accessories that work with their elemental theme and color in the Five-Man Band, but perfectly and completely embody who they are both in clothes and personal appearance. It encompasses their personality, moral alignment, profession, and even hair.

See also Monster of the Aesop for the Mook version of this trope, Obviously Evil for the villain version, and Personality Powers for the... well, personality version. Compare Colour Coded For Your Convenience.Contrast Freaky Fashion, Mild Mind. If it's the person's name that's astonishingly appropriate, rather than his/her appearance, that's Steven Ulysses Perhero.

Supertrope to Elemental Eye Colors and Elemental Hair.

Examples of Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Bleach, Szayel Aporro Granz happens to have broken mask remnants that resemble the frames of rectangular glasses.
  • A few of the Contractors in Darker than Black, who generally combine this with Personality Powers. For instance, Bertha was an overweight ex-opera singer (and it showed)- her power was to destroy things with her voice, and Brita was a Sexy Secretary acting as a Honey Trap whose remuneration for her teleportation powers (which leave her naked) was to kiss people
  • Naruto has a lot, given the show's large cast. Orochimaru, whose pale skin, prehensile tongue, and slitted eyes make him look very much like the snakes he uses in battle. later it reveals that his true form is a giant snake composed of tiny white snakes. And to think that he was creepy enough. He even looked like that when he was a little kid (before he could have done any of the self body modificiation that let would justify most of it), which really raises the question of just who the hell his parents were to pass on genes like that.
    • The host of the tailed beast in all have some sort of physical traits of the beast. Naruto has the whisker marks on his face (which get bigger as he used the Kyuubi's power), Gaara had the black rings around his eyes, the host of the two-tailed cat has cat-like eyes, Killer Bee has two marks in the shape of ox horns on his left cheek plus a rope belt whose ends stick out behind him like tails, and Kushina had bright-red hair just like the fox (which on cover even had sticking up into nine tails when she was angry). Despite Fanon, these aren't really cases of Red Right Hand as the markings are either coincidental (Naruto had the whiskers even before the fox was put inside of him) or indirect effects of being hosts (Gaara's eye rings are a result of him never being able to sleep because the Shukaku would take over otherwise).
    • Many fans figured that Kisame, a man who fights with water jutsu and a sword called "sharkskin", was a shark-man as a result of fusing with Samehada and becoming even more shark-like, but then we eventually saw that, no, he looked like that even before getting Samehada. He's just like that by coincidence. He's not the only native of the Hidden Mist Village with shark-like appearance (especially Samehada's previous owner, also by coincidence), though it's more extreme for him than for the others. Apparently there's just a segment of the population in that town with really odd genes.
  • One Piece probably provides a thousand examples, but the most "prominent" would be Usopp's long nose. It signifies his lying personality (a reference to Pinocchio, of course) and some fans even speculate that it helps him aim better when shooting. There's also Mr. 7, whose entire face is shaped like sevens. The SBS shows us what he'd look like if he got promoted to Mr. 6. (face full of sixes)
    • It goes beyond Usopp's nose. His entire body, from his oversized feet and bony limbs to his skull cap all make him look like a giant marionette puppet brought to life. Even his dream is a parallel to Pinocchio's dream. A fake who wants to be real.
    • One of the funnier examples is seen in a cover arc when it's shown that beneath his heart-shaped sunglasses, Jango has... heart-shaped eyes.
  • There is a minor side character in the Ranma ½ manga who cooks okonomiyaki. His face looks like a spatula. Also the Gambling King, who is a professional (though lame) gambler, looks like a king out of a card game, and wears a coat with hanafuda designs on it. The French Cuisine arc had the governess dressed in 20th century French gown in modern Japan, with her hair tied up to resemble a roast chicken. Although plot-justified (sort of), a Takoyaki chef spent the majority of his life wearing a Octopus mask.
  • Sailor Moon: While it's not natural, Usagi Tsukino and (to an even greater degree) her daughter Chibiusa wear their hair in a way to look like rabbit ears. Likewise, Michiru's hair looks like ocean waves, while Makoto's original school uniform and hairstyle are meant to evoke a Delinquent which she is rumored to be (But not actually, subverting the trope).
  • Chumley in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX looks like a koala (strangely not mentioned in the dub), naturally this is his deck theme.
  • Nezu from Akira is The Mole and his name means "rat". He has squinty eyes and an overbite and his nose has a generally rat-like appearance.
  • Like Michiru above, Erika from Heartcatch Pretty Cure has hair that looks like ocean waves, fittingly enough.
  • If you showed someone a cast shot of Ano Hana and told them that one of the characters was a ghost, they probably wouldn't have any trouble figuring out which one it is: It's obviously the girl with the pale skin, silver hair, and white sun dress. Naturally, she looked like that even when she was alive.
  • Himemaru, from the Harem Comedy manga Rappi Rangai, is a ninja who specializes in traps, both setting them up, and immobilizing opponents with ropes. He also has a very feminine appearance. That is, he's a trap who works with traps. It seems he was always like that, as he mentioned having "the most beautiful face in [his] village". Even his own father was shocked when he realized how much Himemaru looks like his mother.
  • Onpu Segawa from Ojamajo Doremi. She is the idol girl and musical themed. Her head has a shape of a Music Note due to the help of her side ponytail.

Comic Books

  • Pyro, villain in the X-Men series, fits the description of person with fire powers in the introduction to this trope. Of course, being an X-Men character, his fire powers are genetic, but it's rather unlikely that they came from the same genes that gave him wild red hair.
  • Selene, another foe of the X-Men, embodies the Woman in Black archetype to such an extent that you will never see her wearing anything else than black.


  • The page quote from Ian Fleming's novel Goldfinger.
  • In Zelany's Lord of Light this is one of the defining characteristics of gods. So much so that they can be identified even if you've never me them before.

Those who look upon gods then say, without even knowing their names, "He is Fire. She is Dance. He is Destruction. She is Love."

  • Requisite Discworld example: In Making Money, Moist notes that Hubert is one of those names you can automatically put a face to. There might easily be Huberts who are tall and thin, but the Hubert he is introduced to is a good proper Hubert, that is to say, stubby and plump. (He is a bit off-model by having red hair, but it's no great distraction.)
  • Someone in Fahrenheit 451 was Genre Savvy. At one point, the protagonist takes a look around at his fellow firemen and realizes that it can't be coincidence that they are all grim, stoic-looking men with thick, carbon-black hair.
  • Honor Harrington has Baron High Ridge, description of whose appearance ends in this:

If central casting had sent him to an HD producer for the role of an over-bred, cretinous aristocrat, the producer would have sent him back with a blistering memo about stereotypes and typecasting.

...the wonderful girl's brother's name was Russell, a name which, to Arthur's mind, always suggested burly men with blond moustaches and blow dried hair ... Russell was a burly man. He had a blond moustache. His hair was fine and blow dried.

  • In John Dies at the End, this is a surefire way to know someone isn't real. Entities impersonating people tend to pull their appearance from your mind, so they look exactly as you'd expect them to. This is always a very bad thing

Live-Action TV

  • In many incarnations of Power Rangers, the rangers display a visible penchant for their ranger colors even before empowering.
  • In Super Sentai the show that provides source material for Power Rangers, if a season has a Redheaded Hero, expect him to be a red ranger. There have been two, the Red Rangers of Gekiranger and Go-Onger, with two non-Red Rangers whose hair was more reddish-brown, the Green Ranger of Shinkenger and the Black Ranger of Goseiger. (Power Rangers averts this, as the only two redheads they've had were a Yellow and White Ranger.)
  • Pushing Daisies features a brightly dressed cast, however Ned, the main character, always wears black, white, or grays, probably to emphasize his solitariness and his shy, reserved disposition. May also be connected to his ability revolving around death.
  • The Loan Shark in the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an actual shark in a suit.
  • Parodied (in a way) in the Kids in The Hall sketch "A Trial Where Nobody's Guilty."

Judge: After all, just because your name is "Mr. District Attorney" does not mean this is the only job you can hold!
District Attorney: My name isn't "Mr. District Attorney." People just call me that because I'm the district attorney.
Judge: Well, fine, then it should be very easy for you to put this little career mistake behind you.

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay has a variation. Wizards and priests develop traits of their magic type or god. For example, fire mages will develop red, flickering hair and a quick temper, while priests of the sea god start having mercurial temperments.
  • Exalted: Justified with the Dragon-Blooded, as they are quite literally elemental forces within mortal bodies.
  • It occurs in Mage: The Ascension naturally due to how character creation works. Mages are always people with extreme commitment to a particular world view before their Awakening. For example, a member of the Celestial Chorus is a mage who works magic through their commitment to god, by whatever name they address god. They tend to already be clergy, and if not, religion is already such a big part of their life that it'll likely show through in the character design.
  • As one of the major trope codifiers of most tropes in High Fantasy and Heroic Fantasy, Dungeons & Dragons (and by extension Pathfinder) classes each have stereotypical looks which most characters fit. Players looking for an image for their character can likely just use Google to search for their race/class combination. Canny players can actually subvert this trope to fool enemies with disguises and magic, provided their GM is not a Killer Game Master who spoils plans out of sheer malevolence.


  • Bionicle's Toa followed this trope to the letter in the beginning. However, recent story has been trying to avert this; the last unique team of Toa was a group of mismatched rogues trying to get used to their new elemental roles.

Video Games

  • RPGs. Just about every single one will have at least one character whose attire, personality, and power all are themed.
  • Kingdom Hearts II has Organization XIII, which averts or plays this trope straight as per Tetsuya Nomura's design of the members.
    • Played straight with Axel (redhead with caustic attitude and fire powers), Marluxia (pinkhaired, mellow (if not cruel) personality, controls flowers), Larxene (sadistic, lightning powered blonde), Lexaeus (built like a rock, controls earth), Zexion (controls illusions, his bangs droop and cover one eye completely), and Roxas (a denizen of darkness with powers over light, wears black and white patterned clothes under the uniform black coat).
    • And then averted with Vexen (controls ice and is a mad scientist, but has no distinguishing physical characteristics), Xigbar (controls space, but despite yellow eyes, pointed ears and a long black ponytail, looks normal), Demyx (controls water, has a...mullet thing), and Xaldin (controls wind, has long black dreadlocks).
    • As for the other three, that's more of a YMMV issue. The leader, Xemnas, controls Nothing. While his hair is white (and his voice is near-emotionless), this is only because the being he is the Nobody of has the same hair color. Then there's Saix, who controls Lunar powers, and has bright-blue hair and bright yellow eyes. However, whether you believe Lunar elements to be represented as blue flames is up for your interpretation. And finally, there is Luxord: He's blonde with a few piercings. That can be attributed to his being a gambler, but his power is over Time.
  • Laverne from Day of the Tentacle is a Cloudcuckoolander, and thus has an equally unhinged appearance, complete with Mismatched Eyes and a Mad Eye.
  • Some of the gym leaders in Pokémon fall under this category.
  • The film version of Sauron (before he lost the ring) may deserve some blame, but the title character of the Overlord series looks exactly like what you'd expect. Glowing eyes, shrouded face, spiky plate armour, the works.
  • From The Ace Attorney Series, Dick Gumshoe is a gumshoe detective and Wendy Oldbag is, well, an old bag.
    • Ace Attorney Investigations: Quercus Alba is ancient and sturdy, like a white oak tree. He also has plants growing all around his office.

Web Comics

  • Alluded to in Erfworld, with the magic of Signamancy. The basis of the magic is people's appearances, with the implication that their exterior appearance is tied to their personality, disposition, and true nature. So far...
    • Slyvia: Fiery Redhead that seems to have a preoccupation with fire.
    • King Slately: A ruler that lets his warlords run the show. Very short, fat, mostly bald with gray hair.
    • Jillian: When she became a Queen, she lost some muscle and her "Warrior" look to seem more "Royal."
  • Everyone in Cucumber Quest will have some kind of character design element that is perfectly in line with their name. For example, Bacon's hair is wavy and greasy and looks like bacon while Peridot's is boxy and resembles green gemstone.

Web Original

  • Both used seriously and spoofed in the Whateley Universe, since it is a comic book world. For example, Fireball has the manic nature, the clothes, the coloring... but she dyes her hair to make it look flame-colored, she's really a strawberry blonde.
  • Land Games: All of the main characters are genetically engineered to perfectly represent their families, which typically includes giving them eyes and hair the same as their House colors.

Western Animation

  • One Mickey Mouse detective story had a minor side character called Peter Porto who was a specialist on postage stamps. He not only had the oddly Prophetic Name which just seemed to destine him to become said expert, he also had a face that looked like a stamp. Of course, he could be so obsessed that he'd cut his beard and hair to look like that, but his face was a frikkin rectangle.
  • The Transformers Animated Constructicons look remarkably like human construction workers, right down to the hardhats and exposed buttcracks.
    • Hell, pretty much every Transformer falls under this.
      • Particularly bad in the original animated series and Cybertron, where (in a bizarre variation on Morphic Resonance) characters' bodies include vehicle mode parts for vehicles they don't actually turn into yet, making it seem like quite a coincidence that the hood of a Lamborghini Countach just happens to look exactly like Sideswipe's chest.
      • For a sort of odd reverse example, see the original series episode "Only Human". Rodimus Prime, Ultra Magnus, Springer and Arcee get turned into humans, and promptly manage to find a set of four outfits which perfectly match their robotic color schemes.
  • Gaetan "Mole" Moliere, the excavation expert in Atlantis: The Lost Empire, has buck teeth, tiny eyes (actually, telescoping lenses) and large, claw-like hands, not unlike the animal he's nicknamed after.
  • In the X-Men adaptation X-Men: Evolution (as well as in some of his other continuities, such as the mainstream comics) the appropriately flame-empowered Pyro has orange hair that sticks up, in what is a very classic use of this trope.
  • In one episode of Sushi Pack, an actor who played an electricity-themed villain in a Show Within a Show had a face that was extremely similar to his character's electric face.
  • The "fire-powered" character with the stand-up two-tone hair, etc. described in the Trope blurb is a perfect description of Hotstreak from Static Shock (except that he's a villain, not a hero).
  • In ThunderCats (2011) Young King Lion-O is obviously marked as The Chosen One, destined to master his Ancestral Weapon, the Sword of Omens, a sword that Only the Chosen May Wield with accompanying Psychic Powers. His mane is a paler shade of its Power Crystal, his Occult Blue Eyes, a paler shade of its cross-guard. This phenotype is shared by his father and all other ancestors shown wielding it.
  • The Princesses are all titled or named that is off their appearance in Adventure Time.

Real Life

  • A sixty-one year old man who slapped someone else's child in a grocery store looks, as unfunny_business concludes, exactly like the sort of meanspirited lowlife you'd imagine.
    • The commentors from the LJ link aren't exactly nice people either as it seems, with all that Childfree people bashing.
  • John Derbyshire, who recently became infamous for writing a column so racist even National Review was embarrassed by it, has the kind of dour sourpuss look you'd expect.
  • This is sometimes enforced if your job might depend on it. You kind of expect a tailor or dressmaker to have good fashion sense, a dentist to have good teeth, or a personal trainer to be in great shape. It might not affect their performance in any way, but the dissonance can be a little shocking. This is also the idea behind the old phrase "Skinny cooks can't be trusted."
    • A classic mind bender has an isolated town with two barbers, one with great hair and one with bad hair. The trick is that they obviously cut each-other's hair so the one with bad hair is more trustworthy.
    • In some occupations it is mandated by the laws or regulations that apply to that profession. Military personnel and law enforcement not only get uniforms, but very strict rules regarding personal grooming and appearance. The reason no troop in uniform has nose rings and green hair is because it's actually against the regs which apply to them. Hospitals frequently mandate certain types of scrubs are worn. In many other professions, there will be extensive discrimination against someone who doesn't look the part.
  • Finally, appearance might be actually affect their ability to perform their duties. A big bad Bouncer stops fights from happening by being big and looking mean a lot more than by actually throwing people around. A salesperson whose appearance surprises Middle America (or the same demographic in their nation) has one strike against them.
    • Dr. Atul Gawande in his book Complications relays an anecdote where his ability to perform his job was hindered because of his appearance. The patient and her father explained that he just looked too young, and hearing the exact same news from an older physician helped them accept it. Given how professionally he is typically dressed, consider how much more difficult patient interaction is for a doctor who doesn't look the part.