"It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness."
—Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy
If a character is beautiful, then that character is a good person, either publicly or secretly. If a character is good, then that character will either be beautiful or be treated as beautiful.
Or to put it another way, every hero worth his salt must be physically attractive, or at the very least, better-looking than half of other people his or her age. This standard is more relaxed for side characters who can be truly ordinary-looking or even literal aliens, but expect the lead character to be pleasing to look at, even if he is the alien.
It almost goes without saying that this is very old; an attempt was even made in the 19th Century to quantify this attitude into the "science" of physiognomy, which posited a direct correlation between appearance and moral character.
Red Right Hand exists because of this trope. Ugly Hero, Good-Looking Villain is a specific inversion. The failed subversion of Suetiful All Along is common. For the Inverted Trope, see Evil Is Sexy, although the two aren't mutually exclusive. For animals and more nonhuman characters, see What Measure Is a Non-Cute?. The trope Ugly Guy, Hot Wife both subverts this and plays it painfully straight- unattractive men are shown to be good husband material, yet it still works on the assumption that because the wife is hot, that he was lucky in love even if nothing else is known about her. Gorgeous Gorgon may play this trope straight or just plain play with it depending on the gorgon. May not apply in the case of The Beautiful Elite if they are so beautiful that they don't seem human. In older works, may be a factor in Make-up Is Evil: only an evil character would have not natural beauty and so have to resort to paint. The opposite of this trope is Beauty Is Bad. See also Expecting Someone Taller. Contrast Evil Makes You Ugly and Hot Guys Are Bastards.
As this trope is ubiquitous, please only add Egregious cases. Invoked Trope and Defied Trope examples are the best ones. Historical Hero Upgrade often leads to Historical Beauty Update because of this trope.
(Mostly) Straight examples
Anime and Manga
- In the DVD Commentary for Ghost in the Shell: Innocence, the director laments that he asked the animators to make sure a young female character was NOT cute. But they just couldn't help themselves.
- Gundam examples (basic fact: since about Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam nearly all major characters were relatively beautiful unrelated to their alignment. Even the franchises' morally ambiguous masked men hardly ever were them to hide ugly scars and the like)):
- The most obvious subversion would be Dozle Zabi. While the ugliest of the Zabi family by far, he's also probably the nicest aside from Garma. His final act in the One Year War is to Hold the Line to buy time for his wife and daughter to get to safety.
- Discussed Trope in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: When OZ goes to apprehend Duo's space shuttle, Lady Une muses that they should kill the pilot if he's attractive but let him live if he's ugly. Her reason: they can use an ugly pilot as a scapegoat when they do bad stuff; but if the pilot is handsome, the people would be more likely to sympathize and follow him. Her orders, however, are just to kill him. In the actual series, pretty much everyone is attractive, so it's the same difference.
- Bishonen Rokudo Mukuro from Katekyo Hitman Reborn, shown before to be a horrible, Manipulative Bastard with no regard for human life, is later given a few humanizing traits and is depicted as not being completely evil, with hints that he's just being stubborn with hiding that he doesn't really hate Tsuna anymore (most notably stated by Tsuna, who is convinced that he is, deep down, not such a bad person). He's still pretty darn evil, though.
- It's worth noting that he's only handsome because of his illusion powers. His real body is a horrible wreck.
- In Bio-Meat: Nectar, the older and uglier you are, the more likely you will be a completely nasty person who gets eaten alive.
- Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z: When they first encounter each other, Blossom and Mojo Jojo get along just fine, and Blossom instructs Mojo on a good way to eat a sandwich cookie. However, when they both realize that one of them is beautiful and the other is ugly, they realize that they must be enemies, and they start fighting.
- Trinity Blood subverts this beautifully. Deitrich is described as having "the face of an angel and the heart of a devil". Despite his beautiful appearance he's a Complete Monster. In addition, during the final battle in the anime Cain's ultimate form resembles a heavenly angel, while Abel's ultimate form resembles a demon from hell
- A subversion of an entirely different type occurs in Angel Densetsu. Kitano looks like an evil, thuggish, drug abuser, but in reality he is an extremely nice and friendly person...
- Played straight in Noblesse. Are you ugly? Get yourself a life insurance. Are you hot? Redemption road is right over there. Curiously, this does not apply to female characters who die anyway.
- Played straight in Dance in the Vampire Bund. All the vampires can turn into a true form. Guess who's true form looks like a center fold with some strategically placed armor.
- Inverted in Death Note as the Kiras are all conventionally attractive while the good guys are an albino, a skinny guy with messy hair and a guy with a disfiguring facial scar (although they are considered attractive by the fandom)
- This may be a subverted inversion (if there is such a thing) because the Kiras are technically the main characters, or at least one of them.
- Minari from Dr. Stone is a news reporter who refuses to use her sex appeal to take advantage of men, though one can argue that she’s cute and not just beautiful.
- Jack Kirby's Eternals are physical specimens of literally godlike perfection, while the Deviants are hideously mutated.
- X-Men is often pretty good about averting this by having heroes like the Beast who have really freakish mutations, or Wolverine (arguably the most famous of the X-Men) being depicted, both in the art and by the other characters, as a "short, square-built, hairy and smelly man". However, note that almost all of the "grotesque but benevolent" mutants in the X-canon are male. There's a definite double standard there. And they're still frequently drawn as being generically attractive.
- In an arc of X-Men spinoff New Mutants, one of the characters, Karma, was possessed by the evil Shadow King, who caused her to become morbidly obese from overeating. In the following arc (after Karma rejoins the team), Karma is promptly (and conveniently) dropped into a desert where she sheds her fat in record time and becomes hot again.
- Perhaps the biggest X-Men example is Marrow, a Morlock with the Lovecraftian Superpower of pulling her own bones out to use as weapons. She first appeared as a terrorist; she was distinctly unattractive, with random bones sticking out of her body and skin like a prune. When the decision was later made to revive the character as an X-Man, she inexplicably becomes a pouty-lipped babe with flawless skin. She did still have the bones sticking out, but later those went away too.
- When Rogue originally appeared, she was A) a villain, and B) drawn to be very butch and homely. Nowadays...
- In Elf Quest, the distinction between in-group (elves) and out-group (humans and trolls) has been striking from the get-go. Elves are the embodiment of otherworldly beauty, while Humans Are Ugly and idiosyncratic and trolls are bulbous and warty. While a few humans and the occasional troll are easy on the eyes, they are nothing compared to the elves—even evil elves, even genocidal elves, they're never ugly. See, Humans Are the Real Monsters the enemy and trolls are untrustworthy, but "All elves are one". You can kill humans and trolls in self-defense, but Elves Don't Kill Elves no matter the provocation. Recent years have seen these principles change. More and more humans have been joining the list of allies, so the in-group/out-group distinction is weakening significantly. The "Elves Don't Kill Elves" prohibition has been broken on a few occasions and no longer elicits the agonizing guilt that Strongbow felt over Kureel (the first such killing). Now that Wendy Pini isn't [always] doing the art herself, certain artists draw humans all but indistinguishable from elves (which means as beautiful as elves). They look so similar that a human wearing ceremonial elf ears leaves you wondering, not about the ears, but if his thumb and four fingers are a mistake—a confusion that would never have been possible in the early books. The whole thing is at least mildly justified, anyway: elves are a different species from both humans and trolls, usually have access to healing magic that the latter don't, and their ancestors deliberately took forms that would appeal to humans in preparation for making contact (they just didn't count on getting thrown thousands of years backwards in time and losing most of their magic in the process). Word of God has it that the Wolfriders, the tribe who had to fight humans most often, even went out of their way to deliberately prevent or eliminate scars whenever possible in order to present a more formidable face to their enemies, who'd just have been encouraged by the notion that their weapons could actually leave marks on the 'forest spirits'.
- A lot of Batman villains are deformed in some way - the Joker's skin is bleached white and he has a permanent smile, Two-Face is scarred down half of his body, Mr Freeze's skin is an unearthly white, Clayface is a giant goop monster, Killer Croc is reptilian in appearance, and the Penguin resembles his namesake animal. In fairness, though, most of the time these deformities are part of what caused them to become villainous in the first place, and there are a few better looking villains like Poison Ivy. (Oddly, those characters all seem to be female. Funny how that works.)
- Tintin ("The Calculus Affair"). Tintin and Captain Haddock witness their friend Professor Calculus being carried off by mysterious figures, when another group ambushes them. When Haddock asks which side they should help, Tintin evokes this trope by telling him to hit the ugliest ones. Haddock is then confronted by two brawling mooks, each as ugly as the other. So he bangs their heads together. (As it turns out, the "rescuers" are trying to kidnap Calculus as well).
- Played laughably straight in almost anything by Jack Chick. In fact, people go ugly as soon as we find out they disagree with Jack. The only exception is that strange tract about homosexuality, where Satan is constantly shirtless and has obviously been working out. Is there something you want to tell us, Jack?
- Dick Tracy villains are almost universally malformed and ugly. Prune Face is the most extreme example. The hero, by contrast, is a handsome square-jawed detective.
- Played oh so straight for years on end with the family of Captain Marvel villain Dr. Sivana. Sivana himself could be kindly described as a stunted little troll with no hair and a face only a mother could love: evil. He has four kids. Georgia is basically her father, only female and with hair: evil. Thaddeus is his dad mark 2: evil. Magnificus apparently comes from a completely different family, with golden hair and absolutely no deformities: good. Beautia, winner of the All-Time Prize for Least Subtle Name, is absolutely stunning: good. Captain Marvel himself: physically Superman in red, and the hero.
- Nancy Callahan in Sin City is the most noble and innocent character in the series and is described as the most beautiful.
- Captain America (comics) is the perfect male specimen, especially by Nazi standards, with blond hair, blue eyes, and a perfect body. His Arch Enemy Red Skull has a red skull.
- An absolutely ubiquitous trope in fan fiction, to the point that canonically villainous characters who happen to be attractive may be portrayed as good guys simply for looking attractive. In some fanfics, a hero noticing that a canonical villain looks hot will actually be used in place of a Heel Face Turn as though being hot makes their prior evil actions irrelevant. Look at any Harry Potter fanfic in which Hermione discovers she's a pure-blood to see this in action.
- Made explicit in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Clint Eastwood's character is, at best, a cold-blooded antihero and con artist, but because he is the most handsome he is "The Good." Lee Van Cleef's trademark was his crooked, hawkish nose. Early in his career many suggested that without plastic surgery he would be typecast as a villain (which he was). In the film he plays a ruthless hitman and is "The Bad." (despite in the other Sergio Leone film For a Few Dollars More, Van Cleef played the hero who bests Eastwood and the vilain). Eli Wallach had the misfortune of being Hollywood Pudgy and so was cast as "The Ugly." The movie went so far as to actually show us their labels with on-screen text, just so there would be no confusion.
- In The Wizard of Oz, the Good Witches are pretty, and the Wicked Witches are ugly. Glinda says straight up that "Only bad witches are ugly". (This sentiment is deconstructed and subverted hard by Wicked.)
- Conversed and played completely straight in The Sequel to Zenon. When the aliens finally show up at the end, they are Energy Beings who travel in a butterfly/manta ray style space ship that shifts between pastel, easter egg colors of pink, blue, yellow, etc. When a characters asks if these aliens might be hostile, Zenon replies, with no irony and a completely straight face, "Nobody could have a ship that beautiful and be evil." She was right, they were good aliens who saved their lives and even repaired the space station.
- At the start of Unbreakable, Samuel L. Jackson describes a comic cover in art-critic detail, commenting on the villain's inhumanely big head. At the end of the movie, he reveals to the hero that he was always meant to be the villain because of his brittle bones. "They called me 'Mr. Glass'"
- This trope is always so much fun to observe whenever Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots pop up. If the story is focusing on Mary, she will be rather pretty, whilst Elizabeth will look like an ugly old hag. But if it's Elizabeth in the spotlight, she's always portrayed as having far more grace and beauty, whilst Mary is transformed into a woman whose bitterness is shown quite clearly on her plain (if she's lucky) face. Expect the ugly one to have crows' feet, and any ugly Elizabeth will have hair exactly the wrong shade of red and far too much white makeup on. The irony of this is that both Elizabeth and Mary would have been seen as absolutely freaking gorgeous in our time at age twenty-five - they both resembled Nicole Kidman in face and in body. Neither of them aged as well, but what can you expect in the 16th century?
- This comes in three layers in The Tale of Despereaux. The cute mouse and porcelain-skinned princess are good, the plain but not hideous Mig and Rascuro are susceptible to evil urges, and the ugly other rats are Exclusively Evil. Although the movie does state that the princess was partly at fault, for being rude to Mig and flat-out screaming at Rascuro when he tries to apologize.
- Star Wars, obviously. At the end of Revenge of the Sith, Sidious is left looking like a wrinkled old man while Vader suffers third-degree burns that never heal properly. This is further lampshaded in the Expanded Universe, where Luke's an old man using lightning on the cover of The Swarm War but, back in the light, he's only slightly older than Ben in Outcast.
- Oh so averted in Basic Instinct.
- Kind of an interesting play on this in Inglourious Basterds; the more sympathetic Germans (especially Bridget, who's a spy for the British) are also more attractive, while the more evil Germans are decidedly unattractive.
- In I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, anyone who disagrees with gay marriage (or homosexuality in general) is noticeably unattractive. Watch again and you'll see. Characters who are borderline attractive are also on the fence regarding gay rights, and invariably back up the titular couple in the end. Obviously, this isn't so much "good and evil" as it is "backing up our message with visual cues," but still.
- Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland plays this trope straight. Alice is gorgeous and the White Queen is pretty as well, whereas the Red Queen is very strange-looking. But it also seriously subverts it with the Mad Hatter and the Bandersnatch. And also Tweedle-Dee, Tweedle-Dum, and the March Hare. It's also worth pointing out that the Red Queen herself is aware of this trope, telling her sister at one point that she can't get her way for once just by blinking her "pretty eyes".
- Played straight in the film version of Matilda. All the evil characters are either unattractive or just average, whereas Matilda's heaven-sent teacher Miss Honey is probably the only good looking person in the movie. Not counting the cute little innocent kids, that is. This gets a bit silly when the tackily-made-up, unattractively-voiced Mrs. Wormwood starts lecturing Miss Honey about the merits of books versus looks.
- That's how it was in the book as well. If anything, the drawings of Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood were uglier than their live action counterparts (Mr. Wormwood looked a bit like a rodent and Mrs. Wormwood is described as being plump, with obviously-dyed hair and a "suet-pudding" face).
- Played very straight in Solomon Kane, where Kane in the start is ragged and crazy-looking with his messy beard and hair, and his crazy Large Ham expressions, but after doing Heel Face Turn he smoothes out his facial hair and becomes ruggedly handsome. Likewise, when The Dragon recruits warriors, he does some kind of demonic possession-thing where the recruits receive horrible scars, black eyes and bad teeth, all which go away when they die. Oh, and The Dragon himself is horribly scarred under his mask, and the Big Bad invokes Two-Faced appearance with his tattoos.
- Played depressingly straight in Star Trek: Insurrection. The Bak'u look like catalog models, while the Son'a look like Michael Jackson after 20 too many facelifts.
- In the Harry Potter series, the protagonists are good-looking British teenagers, while the villain, Voldemort, is something out of a nightmare. Of course this could be because Voldemort has split his soul losing much of his humanity in the process he looked much more attractive when he was fully human.
- In fact, Tom Riddle's attractive features were often something he would use to win sympathy and gain the trust of others. In Half-Blood Prince, a memory shows that an old lady clearly had the hots for him, which he used to get her to show him her most prized treasures right before poisoning her and stealing the treasures to be horcruxes.
- Subverted by Hagrid. He's good, kind, and loyal to his friends but you wouldn't call him handsome. We also have Horace Slughorn who is short, fat, dumpy, and though seemingly a coward, steps up to the plate when duty calls, albeit a bit reluctantly. Let us not forget Flitwick who is a short and strange looking man, and completely on the side of good. On the other side we have Lucius Malfoy who is quite handsome and quite evil. Most notably is Bellatrix Lestrange who is played by Helena Bonham Carter, and is a sadistic psychopath who enjoys torturing her enemies.
- Quite a few early Disney Animated Canon movies have caught flak for playing this straight. In The Little Mermaid we had the grossly overweight Ursula; same with Radcliffe of Pocahontas in comparison to the Adonis-like John Smith. Then there's Cinderella's ugly step-siblings, the rakishly-thin Jafar of Aladdin, and the monstrous-looking Huns of Mulan.
- In English literature, the most common Older Than Radio example of this trope is The Picture of Dorian Gray, even though it is a Deconstruction. Wilde was critiquing the commonly held belief during the 19th Century that physical appearance both reflected and was influenced by morality, piety, and social status.
- A strange example - neither subversion or aversion but not completely straight either - comes from the work of Rex Stout, the writer of the Nero Wolfe novels. Stout wrote a short story called "Murder is No Joke" in late 1957. One of the characters, Flora Gallant, is a fat, shrewish, bitter, ugly, crude middle-aged female social misfit - virtually a perfect example of the trope played straight. The next year, Stout was asked by the Saturday Evening Post to expand the story into a novella. In this version, Flora Gallant is a gorgeous, vivacious young woman who romances Archie to some success - the opposite of the trope. The rest of the plot, including the identity of the killer, is identical, except that in the first story, Archie has Flora tagged as the killer; in the second, he thinks she's the next victim. She's neither.
- In Jaqueline Carey's Kushiels Legacy, we are sympathetic (politically) towards the D'Angeline people, who are all beautiful. That is not to say that there aren't D'Angeline villains, and non-D'Angeline heroes, but for the most part, this fits into the trope. More often than not, Non-D'Angeline characters of importance are either attractive or 'skilled' enough for their heritage to not matter.
- Naturally, played for laughs in The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy:
In all this ancient and mysterious history, the most mysterious figures of all were without a doubt the Great Circling poets of Arium. These Circling Poets used to live in remote mountain passes where they would lie in wait for small bands of unwary travelers, circle around them, and throw rocks at them.
- In Atlas Shrugged, all the protagonists are strikingly beautiful, while the villains' ugliness is often mentioned in connection with theirridiculous beliefs.
- In the Earth's Children series by Jean Auel, Ayla is considered hideous by her Neanderthal foster family. She is described as being tall, muscular, blond, and blue-eyed - stereotypically lovely - but she suffers from her adoptive Neanderthal family treating her as ugly throughout Clan of the Cave Bear. It isn't until the second book, after she is exiled from her clan, that she runs into someone who looks like her and treats her as if she's beautiful.
- Played almost laughably straight with Hester Prynne of The Scarlet Letter, whose beauty the narrator goes into ridiculous amounts of detail describing. On the opposite side, her neglectful and vengeful husband has mildly deformed shoulders and becomes more malevolent-looking as the book goes on. A bit of a subversion exists, though, in that the main narrative thrust of the book centers around the fact that Hester is a sinner and an adulteress, and how she suffers for her actions; it's somewhat debatable as to just how much sympathy Nathaniel Hawthorne has for his character.
- This applies even more straightly to Hester's daughter (who is even named Pearl), though, as among other things Hawthorne drives home the fact (with a piledriver) that the sins of the parents do not apply to the innocent children. And in the mid-19th century, some people really needed to be told that, to be honest.
- In JRR Tolkien's Middle-earth world, this trope shows up most prominently with the Elves and the Orcs. The Elves are especially fair while the Orcs are especially ugly. In their case, Elves are created to be especially fair among the children of Ilúvatar - "elven-fair" is a descriptor indicating great beauty. The Orcs are ugly due to the malicious corruption of the first Dark Lord Morgoth - they came into being through his twisting and corrupting of Elves. For Men, heroes like Aragorn and Túrin follow this trope, their looks even being compared to those of Elves. Hobbits and Dwarves tend to be plain-looking, if not ugly - but Frodo is fairer than most other hobbits.
- On the other hand, the trope is also subverted through elements like the Druédain or Wild Men, who are ugly compared to other Men but firmly aligned with good. They remain so for thousands of years while most of the Númenoreans, the most Elf-like of Men (specifically blessed by Ilúvatar to be so) are corrupted by Sauron - who himself had a fair physical form before the events of The Lord of the Rings. While Frodo may follow this trope, Sam is not especially handsome. Hobbits generally look "good-natured rather than beautiful".
- An example who was once a subversion: To the vast surprise of most people, Lancelot in La Morte d'Arthur and other early Arthurian works is not the handsome "Prince Charming" figure he tends to be portrayed as in modern media, but a stocky, barrel-chested walking meat wall who is notably plain in appearance. (He's also a mentally unstable berserker given to complete psychotic breakdowns at the drop of a hat. Naturally, since John Cleese is an Arthurian scholar, Monty Python and the Holy Grail got him completely right.)
- T.H. White takes this even further in The Ill-Made Knight, the third volume of The Once and Future King, and makes his version of Lancelot extraordinarily ugly, so much so that he is said to resemble an ape.
- Further subverted The Once and Future King series with Elaine. She starts off as being young and beautiful, but becomes plump and reclusive from society when Lancelot abandons her. The narrator even mentions that she did the "wrong thing", and ought to have turned "thin and interesting" as Guenever would have done in that situation. Elaine is still portrayed very sympathetically (even if she does trick Lancelot into sleeping with her again)
- Bernard Cornwell's Warlord Trilogy retained the good-looking "Prince Charming" Lancelot and then thoroughly subverted it, turning him into a cowardly, snivelling, petulant bastard with no redeeming features whatsoever. He didn't even have the good grace to be Magnificent Bastard about it. One could argue in fact that Lancelot is the major villain of the series- he's certainly one of the least likable characters.
- T.H. White takes this even further in The Ill-Made Knight, the third volume of The Once and Future King, and makes his version of Lancelot extraordinarily ugly, so much so that he is said to resemble an ape.
- The series Twilight is especially notorious for this trope, seeing as Bella's narration does nothing but describe other characters' physical appearances and how wonderful or horrible it makes them as a being, depending on how they look. She primarily judges people based on their looks. You can tell how important and "nice" a character's going to be based on how Bella finds them attractive. The only exception to this rule is Rosalie, who's depicted as shallow and vain, but that's just Meyer expressing her blonde-female hate.
- As an even more subtle example, James (the Big Bad of the first book) is described more than once as extremely plain, as compared to the Cullens' inhuman beauty. The reason? Meyer has said that he was a total Gonk as a human, and only the powerful beautifying nature of vampirism turned him barely average. On the flipside, all the Cullens (the good guys) were already gorgeous before they were turned, and just got hotter as vamps.
- Bella never gets over her prejudice for looks. In Breaking Dawn, an Amazonian vampire vows to protect the Cullens against an invasion and offers to train Bella to fight and use her superpowers. Bella's response is to never feel comfortable around the woman because her "wild" looks "scared me to death". The Amazonians ultimately prove loyal, but Bella never apologizes or admits that she was wrong.
- Bella's prejudice towards non-beautiful people goes to such an extent that she treats non-beautiful people with utter contempt, even if they're being friendly to her, but if a good-looking person does questionable things to her, she doesn't mind at all. She actually thinks that a person's physical beauty makes up for any of their flaws. When Edward admits to watching her sleep every night, Bella thinks it's very sweet of him. If he was any less attractive, she would have had him arrested.
- The only human person she considers "helpful" instead of "annoying" in the first book is Mike, who acts exactly like everyone else except he's the cute jock versus the eccentric and the nerd. Even when dismissively comparing him to a dog, Bella still thinks that Mike is "easy to like" and attractive, while Eric is "oily" and "overly-helpful" and Tyler merits no special attention at all, except to say that he's irritating.
- Also Lauren, who is nasty to Bella out of pure jealousy and described as having "fishy" eyes and a "nasal" voice. Or when Bella first sees Bree the newborn vampire and her first thought is to determine if Bree is attractive or not. It's not limited to Bella either - the final chapter of Eclipse that is told from Jacob's point of view has him reflecting that he once thought Leah was attractive but now he finds her repulsive ever since she got all upset over Sam dumping her for Emily.
- Tellingly, Lauren is only described unflatteringly after she makes it clear she dislikes Bella - the description of her voice as "nasal" takes place while she's mocking Bella, and most of the negative comments about her appearance are during a passive-aggressive verbal spar the two are having.
- In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice the first thing characters note about one another is how physically attractive a person is. Considering the original title of the book was First Impressions...
- Jane Bennet, who is considered to be the most beautiful women in the neighborhood, has a 'good' personality, such as being sweet, kind, patient, and understanding and always sees the best in people.
- The Phantom of the Opera. The adaptations have various takes on Erik's deformity. He still is a Complete Monster, though. Though it's made explicitly clear that he became evil and insane because people shunned him for his appearance, instead of appreciating him for his considerable genius. Basically, Erik originally became evil because, with his deformity, people assumed this trope, and...well, it's very hard to turn out good if everybody insists you're a Complete Monster from the moment you're born.
- This trope is believed by the fairies in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and the person he's specifically applying it to is indeed good. But otherwise the trope isn't particularly in play.
- Partly lampshaded, partly averted in The Man Of Feeling by Henry Mackenzie, where many times, instead of giving the reader a physical description of characters, Mackenzie simply has the main character Harley employ his knowledge of "physiognomy" (the science of determining personality by someone's appearance), and goes straight for the moral judgement.
- With the possible exception of The Lost Symbol, most Dan Brown novels have a female lead who's an expert in her chosen academic field and is impossibly attractive to boot. Of course, the vaguely handsome nerd ALWAYS gets the girl at the end.
- William Shakespeare's Richard III. While the real Richard may have had a slightly deformed spine and was noted for ruthlessness against political foes, everyone remembers Richard from Shakespeare's play, a hunchbacked, deformed villain who commits numerous brutal murders during the play, leading up to the time when the attractive and competent and morally pure Henry Tudor can finally deliver Karmic Justice to Richard at Bosworth Field. It is worth noting that not all of this was potentially Shakespeare's own idea—the regime in power at the time were the direct descendants (as in the granddaughter of) Henry Tudor, and wouldn't have been too chuffed at seeing anything that even remotely painted Richard III or the rest of the House of York in a good light.
- Some of this is averted in the relatively recent film starring Sir Ian McKellen, in that Richard looks fairly attractive to those who don't realize his looks are based on British Fascist Party leader Oswald Mosley... then again, to a few, it probably makes the character more attractive...
- William Shakespeare's Macbeth does not so much subvert it as play with it: Goodness equals Beauty but not vice versa.
Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell;
- Very common in The House of Night. When Stevie Rae died and then un-died she was repulsive and smelt really bad. When the ritual to give her and the other Red Fledglings back their humanity was complete, they were all pretty again. Also the Bull of Light, which is black is described as "deep, mysterious and beautiful to behold". Compared to the Bull of Darkness, which is white and is described as "a nightmare come alive."
- Subverted in The Pale King with Meredith, who becomes a vain, neurotic mess if you let her talk about her problems long enough.
- Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: Played straight as an arrow! Check this out for proof. The bad guys are mostly ugly as sin to start with or beautiful in a fake way but become ugly by the end. Of course, Lizzie Fox's marriage with Cosmo Cricket cheerfully goes into Ugly Guy, Hot Wife territory.
- A short story by Dick King-Smith might count as an inversion where the protagonist is a male fairy and is ridiculed by all the others except one who is described as "not very pretty but had a kind face". At the end when said fairy is kind to him he realises how beautiful she actually is, suggesting that maybe goodness equals beauty.
- Played with all over the damn place in the Sword of Truth. The list of hot evil chicks and handsome evil dudes is about as long as their good counterparts. In fact, its implied that their good looks helped them on the road to be big enough bads to seriously break things.
- In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Monster Men, how Virginia deduces Bulan's character
At first she wondered if he could be a fugitive from justice—the perpetrator of some horrid crime, who dared not divulge his true name even in the remote fastness of a Bornean wilderness; but a glance at his frank and noble countenance drove every vestige of the traitorous thought from her mind. Her woman's intuition was sufficient guarantee of the nobility of his character.
- Played straight and inverted in Inheritance Cycle. On the one hand, a lot of the protagonists are described as attractive, especially the elves. On the other hand, said elves can and do use magic to shape their own bodies. One character says something to the effect of every elf looking exactly like they want, and some are described as terrifying and animalistic. Not to mention that some of the elves, like Vanir, may be on the protagonist's side, but hardly embody "good".
Live Action TV
- Joked at in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air with Hilary.
Hilary: Heaven is this place where everyone is beautiful. And hell is, like, The Valley.
- Perhaps surprisingly, given its self-awareness, Buffy the Vampire Slayer often falls victim to this trope. Apart from the Slayers themselves (who are all stunning), all the other major good guy characters are attractive, even Hollywood Homely Willow, while the demons are usually hideous. True, there are some good-looking villains, (Spike, Angelus, Faith, etc.), but most of these characters were either very minor or ended up performing a Heel Face Turn, or ended up looking really, really monstrous. Glory is the only good-looking seasonal Big Bad who was presented entirely without sympathy. (Although The First, able to look like anyone it wants to as long as they've died and given to appearing like Buffy, might count.) And, of course, Willow was recast from the pilot to be cuter. The original tends to be known on the internet as "Fat Willow", with forum posters complaining about how the show would have been ruined...
- While pretty much everyone on Supernatural is ridiculously pretty, this trope was directly referenced in the episode Folsom Prison Blues, in which Dean and Sam are thrown in jail. While their female lawyer keeps hearing that Dean's a monster, she changes her mind completely and even helps them out when he uses his looks to convince her he's innocent.
- May or may not have been intentional with Charmed. Piper, Phoebe, Paige, and Prue are all gorgeous women. Although their enemies in the first season were commonly monstrous looking, and even when they began to look like ordinary humans, they were usually greasy and dirty looking, as if they'd been living in a cave.
- Although quite subverted with the evil Zankou, who is implied to have had a relationship with the stunning Seer, Kyra.
- Heroes is a pretty big offender. You can always tell the new character is a good guy if they look like a model. Sylar and Adan Monroe are the only exceptions.
- Played uncomfortably straight with the Cylons on the reimagined Battlestar Galactica - the good (or at least sympathetic) Cylons are played by attractive young actors and actresses (Six, Boomer/Athena, D'Anna, Anders, Chief Tyrol), the more morally doubtful (Leoben, Tigh) are older and less conventionally attractive, and the outright evil (Cavil) is the ugliest and oldest of the lot. Then again, Tory is both young and attractive and also morally doubtful, and her actions have resulted in her seeming far less sympathetic.
- And given D'Anna was willing even in her most recent (S4) appearance to wipe out humanity even after they helped resurrect her she probably deserves to be in the morally doubtful region along with Tory.
- Battlestar Galactica also has the (only) perfectly upstanding character Karl Agathon, named after this trope (see "Kalos kai Agathos" above).
- None of the Doctors of Doctor Who were victims of savage beatings with the ugly stick (or at least not for long), but most of them are or were unconventionally handsome. Most subversive is Tom Baker, who was not what you'd call the most handsome of men, yet was easily the most popular and well-recognised of the Doctors in the classic series (though that second is partly longevity). The previous (Tenth) Doctor, David Tennant, receives female attention because he's pretty dang attractive as well as being One of Us. The younger, more classically handsome Doctors - Peter Davison (Five), Paul McGann (Eight), Tennant - tend to get more attention from the Shippers. And the companions tend to be outright attractive!
- Though there is a subversion—The Master's not a bad-looking guy in most of his incarnations; Delgado and Ainley are both sort of suave older men and Simm is more conventionally attractive.
- The "monsters" are generally unattractive by human standards, but it's often subverted with the revelation that they're not really that monstrous. Some of them are capital-E-Evil, but some have Blue and Orange Morality, some of them are Well Intentioned Extremists, and some of them are actually the good guys.
- The major subplot of the American Gothic episode "Eye of the Beholder" plays with and then toes the line of this trope from the heroic perspective of a minor character. In order to obtain custody of his 'son' Caleb, Sheriff Buck tries to discredit Dr. Crower as a potential legal guardian by revealing his past difficulties with alcohol. To attest to this, he needs the aid of an orderly at the hospital who worked with Matt before he came to Trinity. When the orderly refuses, Buck sends his wife a magic mirror which swiftly turns her into a tempting seductress. The orderly breaks the mirror... which also horribly disfigures his wife. Freed from the spell, she urges him to refuse Buck's deal and stand by his friend Matt instead, and he professes to love her no matter what she looks like. Despite this and the name of the episode, the orderly inexplicably does Buck's bidding—and even though his testimony is as unbiased as possible, and Buck doesn't get his hands on Caleb due to a delicious Bait and Switch Chekhov's Gun from earlier in the episode, the sheriff still keeps his end of the deal by rewarding the orderly, restoring his wife's beauty so they can leave town in peace and good conscience. Sigh.
- In Baywatch parody Son of the Beach, a high-school girl commits a string of murders because she's ugly and jealous of pretty girls; however the day is saved when the hero tells her to "take off your glasses," and "now, untie your hair!" and she is revealed that she was really beautiful all along.
- Played straight in the American version of The Office: you can roughly approximate how much of a Butt Monkey each character is by how young and attractive they are, with Pam and Jim being basically the only characters who are not played up as buffoons, get tons of screen time, and end up being shipped together.
- Most modern sitcoms heavily employ this trope. A typical theme will be how the hip, fashionable, sexy-looking wife with the looks of a supermodel is automatically smarter and more competent than her average-looking (or even ugly) husband.
- Averted and called out by one episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, where a creature so horribly ugly it drove you insane turned out to be the good guy. Played straight the rest of the time, Klingons are all rough and rugged, evil Spock has a beard, every girl Kirk falls in love with is horribly attractive.
- This is especially evident in the TNG Klingons. The evil or unpleasant ones, such as the Duras sisters, are hideous, while Worf is much more attractive. This might, however, have something to do with the fact that his adoptive parents introduced him to the wonderful human invention known as a comb.
- All Japan Women's Pro Wrestling had a tradition of having larger, less attractive wrestlers as Heels (e.g Dump Matsumoto, Bull Nakano, Aja Kong), and pitting them against smaller, cuter Face wrestlers.
- Maybe a bit subverted with TNA Wrestling's Knockouts division; everyone is pretty (in some way), regardless of whether they are good, bad, or Complete Monsters. Even Awesome Kong, the big bad black Japanese wrestler, has become a babyface and fan favorite.
- The goddess Sune of the Forgotten Realms seems to wholeheartedly buy into this trope. Supposedly the goddess of love, she's also the goddess of beauty, and earlier editions had game mechanic rules stating that her clergy had to satisfy a minimum level of physical attractiveness (as measured by the charisma stat) in order to serve. Apparently Sune thinks that only beautiful people deserve love, even though Word of God is that she's Chaotic Good.
- To the contrary—Sune's dogma is to promote beauty and love even among the ugly. The vanity and prejudice is chiefly the result of her clergy's collective vanity refusing to train clerics who were unattractive; a cleric could independently venerate Sune and receive clerical abilities even if he/she had low charisma. He/she just wouldn't find a welcome in the church.
- The Hero System games, most notably Champions, postulate that the average man on the street has stats of 8 in all categories, including physical appearance. Player Character on the other hand get a 10 in each category, because they are the heroes. So your "average hero" is notably better looking than a regular schmoe. The stat that reflects your good looks is also by far the easiest one to buy up, so most heroes end up having supermodel good looks because there is very little downside to it.
- Dungeons & Dragons' Fourth Edition removed or uglied up every attractive monster in the game. (Dryads? Now look like small Treants with breasts. Yes, trees with breasts. Nymphs?
Removed entirelyAdded in Monster Manual 3.)
- More Dungeons & Dragons: Orcs, goblins, trolls, ogres, and other "savage" humanoids are bestial in appearance and almost always portrayed as always evil in official game material and most campaigns. Of course, individual DMs may portray them however they want, and there's nothing stopping you from running a game with a tribe of noble, heroic orcs.
- Taken Up to Eleven in Magic the Gathering by the elves of Lorwyn. Beauty determines status in their society, with the most beautiful known as "perfects". They also hunt down and kill anyone they consider too ugly to live. And then there's her, an assassin whose goal is apparently to cut your face, because that's as bad as killing you.
- In Rocketmen the good guys are the Rebels who are allied with Mercury, and Venus who both have a matriarchal society some pretty female characters, while the bad guys the Legion of Terra are allied with Mars who are a race of green skin space gorillas.
- A lot of LEGO themes are like this, with Agents probably being the worst offender in that the vast majority of the villains are disfigured, cyborgs, or both. The Adventurers' Baron von Baron/Sam Sinister is a stereotypical Nazi officer with a monocle, handlebar mustache, Dueling Scar, and hookhand, while the only other Adventurers villain who could be considered attractive in the conventional sense is Alexis Sanister. Ogel, of Alpha Team, has some kind of red glass eye, and of course a hook, while his Mooks are skeletons. The Evil Wizard from the recent Castle sets has the same face as Ogel, so that's another one. The Bulls of Knight's Kingdom have are scarred, clad in rusted armour, and have silver eyes. Things get far worse, of course, if you consider the Pirates to be bad guys, what with the hooks, peglegs, eyepatches, and scars. To give LEGO some credit, they have had scarred or deformed heroes, like Rock Raider's Chief (prosthetic arm), Power Miner's Rex (facial scarring), Dino Attack's Viper (more facial scarring), and Lego Island's Captain Click (a pirate skeleton). Still, ugly villains greatly outnumber even unattractive (if they were real) heroes.
- Often outed as the worst offender as unrealistic beauty-standards, Mattel's "Barbie," if a real woman, would need to be over seven feet tall in order to have a 22" waist. (In contrast, the original "Ken" was rather plain-looking.)
- Fire Emblem does an almost facepalmingly straight adherence to this rule. Almost all the good guys will be bishonen, ruggedly handsome men, hot chicks, Cool Old Guys (sometimes good looking for their age too) and most of the bosses will be old, plain or gonks. They'll attempt to mix things by always adding one or two gonks and a non hottie to the good guys side, and typically the bad guys will have one or two good looking guys on their side, however they'll usually be either good at heart or wear an unflattering facial expression on their portrait. Sometimes a few of the ugly minor bosses will hint or be revealed to not have been bad at heart after their death. The simplest way to put it is ugly characters are the Token Minority for the good guys and attractive characters are the Token Minority for the bad guys. Ugly good guys far outnumber attractive bad guys, seems Evil Is Sexy is not one of Intelligent Systems' favorite tropes... for males. When it comes to females, evil is sexy [dead link] too. This can sometimes make sense (Most of the early foes are low class bandits, the latter ones are old nobles are in some games a separate species, while most player characters are nobility or young), but often doesn't.
- Basically if you're a sympathetic character in Fire Emblem, you're either at least quite attractive, or you're old. And if you fall into the latter category, you were likely quite a looker when you were younger. There are only a few major exceptions to this (i.e. most axe-users).
- An exception to this trope might be: Dorothy from Sealed Sword. However she's hardly as ugly as the support conversations make her out to be. She's more plain ingame still not ugly though.
- Played straight in Drakengard. Another layer is added on with the impossibly beautiful and pacifistic elves and the Nightmare Fuel-inspired design for the monsters, who are bloodthirsty and primitive. These other creatures are rarely seen, however. And really, what's more beautiful than a baby?
- Played straight in World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, where the draenei were revamped from the ugly Lost One model into uncorrupted eredar. The new storyline then went on to say that the old draenei with the ugly appearance were evil by default and gave all friendly Draenei of the old appearance a more humanish form. And the Horde got the pretty, fine-featured blood elves, presumably for the sole purpose of Fan Service. However, it's subverted by the broken ones, who are certainly not as good looking as their Draenei cousins, but there are a bunch of good ones, specially those in the Earthen Ring. Played more-or-less straight in that Broken verge on Ugly Cute, while the more mutated Lost Ones are far less likely to be sympathetic. Played straight again with Worgen who all become Progressively Prettier once they are an Alliance race. The new Worgen all have human hairstyles(as opposed to just fur like the old worgen) and soft puppyish faces as opposed to the hideous snarl, deformed fangs, and pure red eyes of the old Worgen. Averted with the Horde's goblins. Averted again with the revamped male worgen models, which look like angry werewolves again. They look like bedraggled panicky dog-women for the most part, but have an even more puppyish skull structure and big soft heavy-lidded human eyes.
- The only nice demon bound in Jerro's Haven in Neverwinter Nights 2 is also the one who goes around disguised as an Eladrin.
- In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, if the player character goes to The Dark Side, s/he develops pale whitish skin and yellowed eyes. In the sequel, the player character can influence his or her allies to go Dark, causing a number of changes in their appearances (none of them good).
- In Mass Effect, Saren, the apparent Big Bad of the game, is clearly weird-looking by Turian standards, sporting glowing blue eyes and cybernetic implants on top of the spikey Turian exoskeleton. On the other hand, Benezia is much more attractive but still acts as Saren's Dragon for much of the game. However, it's revealed that both of them have been brainwashed by Soverign, and both of them get a Dying as Yourself ending (optional in Saren's case). Soverign himself is a giant insectoid spaceship and makes use of Blue and Orange Morality and Complete Monster behavior.
- In the second game, quite a few of the villains are even more monstrous: the Collectors, for example, are Insectoid Aliens equipped with a lot of repulsive-looking organic technology, and serve the Reapers in abducting human colonists for use in their experiments. Once again, it's revealed that the Collectors are just brainwashed servants of the Reapers; before they were enslaved, the Collectors were the equally bizarre-looking Protheans, Benevolent Precursors to the current galactic civilization.
- In Mass Effect 2, picking the Renegade choices will make Commander Shepard's post-resurrection scars appear wider and glow red (a rather disturbing picture here). It can be subverted, however, through a plastic surgery later in the game. On the other hand, Paragon choices will make the scars shrink so much, said surgery will hardly be worth the resources it costs.
- Persona 4 hits this trope hard; Hanako, Mitsuo, Morooka, and Kashiwagi (who isn't specifically ugly, but has a tendency toward drastic, overly-exaggerated and unattractive expressions, and a crap personality), have no particular positive qualities and the heroes have no sympathy for them. The exceptions are Adachi, who the player is supposed to trust, and Izanami, whose true form is legendarily hideous but appears as an attractive lady.
- Used in Final Fantasy VII spinoff: Dirge of Cerberus. Deranged scientist Hojo still looks to be in his late middle age, as a young man.
- Played straight and averted in Yo Jin Bo. Just about everyone except Yahei (nice old man) and Nobumasa (big, dumb, and evil) could be considered at least above-average. Of course all six Love Interests are extremely attractive, but villains Kasumimaru and Harumoto aren't bad looking, either.
- Played totally straight in Valkyria Chronicles. All the villains have exaggerated, ostentatious, or just plain ugly faces, unless the game presents a reason for the player to sympathize with their tragic plight, while everyone in Squad 7 ranges from plain to rugged to just plain gorgeous. (The bad guys do, however, wear some truly awesome-looking officers' uniforms).
- Both Gabriel and Marie Belmont from Castlevania: Lords of Shadow fit this. Marie's natural pure heart is what makes Gabriel so attracted to her all his life even after her tragic death; her sweet laugh was often enough to soothe his chronic moodiness. As of Gabriel, in spite of his unshaven facial hair, is still dignified due to his natural sense of justice and kindness. Had Hideo Kojima allowed him to be a Barbarian Hero, this would be even more obvious.
- This guy. One guess whether he's good or evil.
- On Justice League (and Justice League Unlimited), only two of the big seven are even remotely not conventionally attractive. J'onn, while green, is a shapeshifter who can look however he wants, and Hawkgirl's "weird" look is angelic wings. Now, let's take a look at the villains: Gorilla Grodd, Ultra-Humanite, Parasite, Shade, the White Martians... Except the female ones. And Luthor. Bodies are likewise ridiculously one-note exaggerations, with Top-Heavy Guy being the norm—and not just in body, but with chins that would make Jay Leno blush. Not surprising, given that they're based on comicbook characters (easily the worst offender anywhere). Ultra-Humanite happens to also be a subversion in the comics as his power is stealing bodies and he did once steal the body of a beautiful woman.
- The eponymous heroes of Gargoyles are superficially ugly monsters (especially Brooklyn), which barely hides their heroic natures. Some fans of the show find them rather cute.
- Goliath - if you can get past the wings, fangs, and talons - could be seen as downright handsome. And let's face it, any man with Keith David's voice is going to have less trouble with the ladies than he might otherwise.
- Brooklyn - if drawn in the right way and angle - gets points for his exotic nature as a Furry Fandom.
- And most of the females? Not really ugly at all (although the one we see the most is not all that good either).
- Played straight and inverted in Lady Lovely Locks: the hero, "Lady Lovely Locks" is good and has lovely blonde hair, while her enemy is Duchess Raven Waves, a beautiful princess and troublemaker. (This series was made to appeal to young girls.)
- In a sort of Redemption Equals Beauty, Bramble, the villain of the Bitsy Bears pilot is relatively unattractive, with a dry Bob Haircut, but the instant she thinks about reforming, she suddenly becomes more attractive with long, wavy hair. (Seriously, it changes between frames. You can see it starting at 3:45)
- Cars 2 actually both plays this straight and inverts this: The good guys are a shiny American racecar, a pair of shiny British spy cars, and a rusty American tow truck, while the bad guys are all mean, beaten-up Lemons, led by a malfunctioning British SUV posing as an electric car.
- During the Victorian era, this concept was widely held to be true; a person's physical appearance was a reflection on their morality and social standing. The introduction discusses 19th Century quackery discourses of Phrenology and Physiognomy as an attempt to quantify and qualify these dubious claims. While the latter discipline was not unique to the 19th Century, its influence and popularity reached a zenith during the Georgian, Regency, and especially, Victorian eras. This wasn't surprising, since one's wealth typically coincided with the degree of their access to proper necessities which made beauty even possible; as a result, today's "average" was yesterday's "god-like."
- In Spanish, "to be" can be translated as two different verbs (ser and estar) "ser buena" (to be good) means to be a good/nice person, and "estar buena" (literally translated also: "to be good") means being physically attractive (although usually "hot" more than "beautiful"). This might be because ser means "usually to be a certain way" whereas estar draws its distinction in definition from meaning something more like "to be a certain way which is not so usual." In other words, "ser buena" most literally means "to be good as a regular thing" whereas the most literal translation for "estar buena" could be "to be good for the moment" and not necessarily as a regular thing. This suggests that Spanish-speaking cultures are probably at least somewhat aware of beauty's tendency to be fleeting and superficial, and have therefore linked it to temporary and superficial goodness in their language. The connection—however tenuous—between being physically attractive and being morally upright is still there, however.
- The Halo effect is a documented psychological phenomenon wherein people's judgment on another person's traits spills over to other (unrelated) traits. So the perception is that beautiful = good/competent, ugly = bad/incompetent, further proof that life is indeed unfair.
- The 1960 US presidential election debates were the first to be televised. Polls showed that those who watched the debate on television thought the handsome John F. Kennedy had won the debate, while those who listened on the radio thought the sweaty, uncomfortable looking Richard Nixon had won. Of course, TV being a relatively emergent technology that was only just starting to be adapted at the time could have resulted in differences in the demographics of television owners and non-television owners. And, of course, while it might be a poor reason to not vote for someone because they look like a slightly-crazed, paranoid, crook, the fact that Nixon in fact turned out to be a slightly-crazed, paranoid, crook is of no little relevance.
- Even more interesting: While Kennedy was the president who brought the US military into The Vietnam War full-force (before then, we were supplying troops but it was not an official war), the less-attractive Lyndon B. Johnson has tended to receive the lion's share of the blame for the conflict. Nixon was the one who eventually pulled us out, but this is rarely mentioned, mainly due to A. His initial escalation of the fighting and B. He's friggin' Richard Nixon.
- The ancient Greeks took this very, very seriously. Kaloi k'agathoi ("the beautiful and good ones") was what Greek aristocrats called themselves. To be beautiful was considered a gift from the gods and was a sign of their favor. This allowed good-looking Greeks to get away with things just because they were beautiful, and occasionally hurt ugly people when accused of a crime. For instance:
- Phryne, an Athenian courtesan known for her beauty, was once accused of a form of blasphemy. At trial, her defense consisted, at least in part, of stripping off her clothes and saying to the (all-male) jury: "Would you dare destroy this?" She was acquitted.
- Her "blasphemy" was that she'd posed for a statue of Aphrodite, goddess of love, and thus was supposedly claiming to be as beautiful as a goddess. (Apparently no one thought to blame the sculptor for thinking Phryne would make a good model for Aphrodite.) When the jury took a good long look at Exhibit A....
- Socrates, on the other hand, was famously ugly (both Aristophanes and Plato make quite a few "ugly guy" jokes at Socrates' expense). This may have figured into the decision to convict Socrates at trial (the decision to execute him, on the other hand, was more or less because of what he said).
- Phryne, an Athenian courtesan known for her beauty, was once accused of a form of blasphemy. At trial, her defense consisted, at least in part, of stripping off her clothes and saying to the (all-male) jury: "Would you dare destroy this?" She was acquitted.
- Public opinion in any trial by media scenario will often fall in line with this trope. Missing White Woman Syndrome (always pretty, young girls) is an obvious real-life relation, and people often have harsher reactions to unusual looking suspects (as opposed to attractive serial killers mentioned below, who often get fanmail or marriage proposals). Even non-criminal media scandals get this reaction. Take, for example, public perception of the British Royal Family. Princess Diana is lovingly remembered, despite having affairs as her former husband did, while Prince Charles is unpopular and Lady Camilla is largely hated, and both are mocked for their appearance.
- According to an actual scientific subject on the topic, beautiful criminals usually get more lenient sentences then their ugly counterparts, regardless of the severity of their crime, but when the crime in question is fraud, the tables are turned: attractive frauds almost consistently get the longest convictions. Psychologists believe that this is due to the fact that people find themselves betrayed when this trope isn't played straight, and react far more severely. A beautiful thief or murderer can be explained as a victim of the circumstances, but a beautiful fraud explicitly uses their appearance to deceive and mislead people, and they just can't forgive that.
- William Howard Taft was the last president elected before photographs became a standard feature of newspapers (somewhat obviously).
- The opposite assumption—Ugliness Equals Evil—is exhibited in the various meanings of the Arabic word qabīḥ. Its most common meaning is simply "ugly," but it can also mean "disgusting" or "monstrous" or, well, "evil" (as an adjective). However, the more usual word for "evil" is shirrīr, and the other meanings of qabīḥ only occur to the educated, so it's not played entirely straight (except in the Maghreb, where it is the colloquial word for "bad"—not "evil," but "bad").
- When you get down to it, this is the principle behind Double Standard Rape (Female on Male), since the cultural standard for "female" is "beautiful." You can see this in action when it comes to things like child molestation and statutory rape. Mary Kay Letourneau does her 12-year-old student? Fine, he must have wanted it.
- Recent pictures of Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding seem to play this trait pretty straight. Kerrigan still looks youthful and gorgeous, while Harding (who, as anyone who was alive during the 1990s remembers, conspired with her ex-husband and bodyguard to break her rival Kerrigan's leg to render her incapable of competing in the Olympics), looks a bit like the mother from The Fighter after a few more years' hard living.
- Many Christian denominations believe human souls would be reunited with their bodies on Judgment Day, and their bodies would be transformed. The righteous would receive beautiful, glorified bodies that resemble extremely idealized versions of themselves, while the wicked would be placed in twisted, pain wracked versions of their old bodies.
- Fairy tales and folklore are chock-full of this, so much that in many cases 'ugly' is basically shorthand for 'completely deficient as a human being in every conceivable way possible.'
Subversions and played-with examples
Anime and Manga
- Played around with quite a bit in Death Note, in just about every permutation:
- Villain Protagonist Light Yagami is popular, impeccably groomed and dressed, has girls fawning over him everywhere. He seems good at first, but turns into the worst serial killer in history and a Magnificent Bastard who manipulates everyone around him with no consideration for their feelings.
- In contrast, L, the detective chasing Kira, is gangly, funny-looking, and has permanent bags under his eyes; most girls in-story won't even look at him twice, and he has no friends. But he's the world's greatest detective, with a strong determination to take down the murderer, albeit using somewhat questionable methods. He's often considered Ugly Cute, granted, but this was unintentional.
- Misa Amane is a supermodel who turns into a serial killer, though she thinks she's doing it for a good reason; she's genuinely kind and friendly aside from her actions as the second Kira.
- Ryuk, the Shinigami, plays this trope relatively straight: he looks like a monster, and he's a nut who doesn't care who lives or dies as long as he's entertained, and he uses humans as playthings. He'd be another Magnificent Bastard if he weren't so lazy.
- Shinigami Rem still looks somewhat scary, but she's softer and more feminine than Ryuk, and she does what she does out of a sense of duty to a fallen friend, along with genuine compassion for Misa which leads to a Heroic Sacrifice.
- Then there's Sidoh, who's ugly as normal for a Shinigami, but isn't so much evil as pathetic and pitifully stupid.
- Virtually all of the common criminals are butt-ugly. I guess breaking the law only makes you ugly if you do it without the help of a Shinigami.
- The psychopathic Complete Monster Johan is easily Monster's best-looking character.
- Naoki Urasawa puts about as much stock in this trope as Pratchett does (read: none). This guy here is the hero of 20th Century Boys (whose Ragtag Bunch of Misfits team of freedom fighters includes, among others, an old homeless man and a guy best described as a human frog). The sinister-looking guy here with the receding hairline is one of the good guys in Pluto. This little cutie? Satan incarnate.
- Beautifully averted in Paprika. The obese Tokita appears to have no deep and dark issues with his weight, being a happy, brilliant, affable scientist, and it turns out the girl of his dreams, Chiba, is plenty enthralled with him as well, and they get married!
- Commonly subverted or played with in One Piece. Ugly characters often turn out to be stalwart and good in their own right, and more conventionally attractive characters can be really, really awful or kind of ambiguous at best.
- Kintano from Angel Densetsu is the Nice Guy, The Pollyanna, The Messiah, and an Actual Pacifist. His face, however, literally makes small children cry.
- Beauty may equal goodness, but on one show in particular, "Beauty" equals...exasperation (constantly).
- Yu-Gi-Oh toys with it in the person of Marik Ishtar. He's a Bishonen White-Haired Pretty Boy in a Bare Your Midriff outfit who has all the fangirls fawning over him. He's also a Manipulative Bastard who plots to Take Over the World via Mind Rape. He's later revealed to have a Super-Powered Evil Side with Omnicidal Maniac and Combat Sadomasochist tendencies; this identity (Dark Marik), is also far, far, uglier with grotesque facial features, Anime Hair, bulging eyes, Tainted Veins, and a much more brutal, muscular build. So beauty equals evil, but ugly equals more evil?
- In Byzantine Christian art, most Saints are drawn somewhat ugly to accentuate their Inner Beauty represented by their halo.
- Many Renaissance portrayals of Saints or Biblical characters were intentionally drawn plain as to avoid inspiring lust for a holy character. However, angels, who were genderless...
- Ben "The Thing" Grimm is one of the most popular characters in the Marvel Universe, despite, or perhaps because, he's a massive rock creature.
- Beta Ray Bill. He looks like an orange humanoid crocodile/horse hybrid, yet he is one of the noblest beings in the Marvel Universe. One of the most badass, too. After all, he was the first non-Asgardian to be deemed worthy enough to wield The Mighty Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, which was of course intended to be a shock to both Thor and readers.
- The Anti-Hero mutant Wolverine—longstanding, undisputed favorite of the X-Men franchise—was originally supposed to be a subversion. Five-foot-nothing, slightly hunched, enough hair on his body to wonder why he didn't wind up with the "Beast" codename, and reportedly, poor personal hygiene (even though you know was well as I do he couldn't maintain hair like that without being half-metrosexual). However, because of Popularity Power, many writers sometimes forget the above description and turn him into a sexy funtastic lady-lovin' machine. Maybe it's animal magnetism, or his fan-favoritism (the current writers were fans in their youth), or they realize that one word has always defined Wolvie: stamina. Even at his ugliest, he looks pretty good for 113!
- Spider-Girl, in her identity as May Parker, started out as a star basketball player with short hair, a major subversion from just about all the mainstream superheroines who've ever gotten their own series. Since that time, while May has grown her hair a little longer, what little Fan Service exists is rather mild, if not non-existent, compared to what many readers have come to expect.
- Hellboy was started when the creator, Mike Mignola, wanted a hero that looked like a villain. Hence, Hellboy looks like a demon.
- Fables has the actual Prince Charming as a major character and also shallow, heartless, bastard. Goldilocks is very attractive and turns out to be murderously violent. Bluebeard is well Bluebeard. Beauty is beautiful but happens to be a total bitch. Bibgy's looks are up for debate but his actions support him being a subversion whether you thing he's good looking or not.
- Of course, played with often in Watchmen, thanks to the series blurring the lines between ugliness and beauty, and heroism and villainy.
- Rorschach, despite being one of the main heroes (and most certainly is the star of the book), is ugly as sin. Uneven haircut (and ginger at that), short, pug nose, spotty face, dead eyes, aged face, he's described as being "fascinatingly ugly" by his psychiatrist. Hasn't stopped a small portion of the female fanbase being into him...
- Ozymandias. Tall, muscular, blonde, handsome, older than he looks, strong features. The "villain" of the series.
- Of course, these two examples could either be considered an aversion or playing it straight, depending on your point of view.
- Played the straightest with Nite Owl II, who is a little hefty and wears thick glasses but is considered very handsome by at least two characters.
- Silk Spectre II is rather stunning, like her Mom, but she doesn't care for the hero thing at all.
- Her Mom, Silk Spectre I, was a successful hero because she was a beauty. It was publicity to help her movie career.
- Dr Manhattan rebuilt himself in the shape of the ideal man and the classical hero, standing well over six feet with statuesque features. He even walks around naked. However, he doesn't care at all for heroism.
- The Comedian is tall, handsome and has "badboy appeal", which also plays the trope straight except... he's not much of a hero. It straightens out again when his scars and age reduce his good looks to a rather leathery looking ball of meat.
- Marv from Sin City is a massive, ugly monster of a man but is also a good man. Meanwhile, Ava Lord is pure evil but was extremely beautiful to the point where she could easily manipulate almost any man into doing her bidding. Junior was also fairly handsome and looked every bit the golden boy future President his father wanted him to become—too bad about the whole "raping and killing little girls" hobby. It's played straight with Junior after the experimental treatments that saved him from Hartigan's No-Holds-Barred Beatdown also disfigured him. Physical beauty in general is not a good barometer for morality in a setting like Sin City.
- In The Three Spinners, three hideous women offer to help the heroine with her spinning. Unlike Rumpelstiltskin, all they want is to be invited to the wedding. When the heroine does, they assure her husband that their hideous looks stem from their endless spinning and thus get the heroine off the hook forever.
- The Three Aunts is another variant.
- There are countless fairy tales where the protagonist is given vital aid on their quests by dwarves, crones, and sometimes even giant, disembodied heads.
- In the story of "Tatterhood", the eponymous heroine is filthy and dresses in rags while wearing a goat. Her sister is traditionally beautiful, but is a Damsel in Distress and contributes virtually nothing to the story besides having her head stolen by trolls. The end of the fairy tale does prove that she can be beautiful if she wants, but she makes it clear that she prefers to be dirty.
- There is a fairy tale where a girl is So Beautiful It's a Curse and is harassed by many attractive, wealthy men... one of whom is the Devil himself. When she refuses him, the Devil spitefully steals her beauty from her, leaving her ugly and misshapen. Years later, he decides to see what happened to the girl, and is shocked to find that her new ugliness drove away all her unwanted suitors, leaving her Happily Married to an ugly but goodhearted Dogged Nice Guy.
- Subverted very cruelly in Audition when the lonely, widowed male lead discovers that his beautiful, demure bride-to-be is Ax Crazy.
- Subversion: The Shrek series has an ogre as the hero, and the love of his life becomes an ogress herself at the end of the first film. By contrast, the handsome Prince Charming (from the second and third films) is a bratty, immature, villainous twit.
- There's also Charming's mother, Fairy Godmother. She's got the sweet, matronly look down, and is not above drugging her goddaughter into marrying her son, threatening to essentially ruin King Harold's life by turning him back into a frog, and trying to kill Shrek.
- The third movie also has the other princesses, who are shown to be fairly shallow and useless at first, while the ugly stepsister Doris is a lot kinder and stronger. Rapunzel also ends up selling them out so she can marry Charming. She's later revealed to be bald which could be playing the trope straight, except that she's still an attractive woman, just with no hair.
- The fourth film has that all of the ogres are perfectly decent people fighting to overthrow the evil Rumplestiltskin. In that universe, Fiona also identifies as an ogre and keeps her curse of turning into a human woman by day a secret.
- Inverted in the 1953 sci-fi movie It Came from Outer Space where the hideous one-eyed aliens are not launching a covert invasion of Earth; they only want to quietly repair their spaceship and leave without conflict.
- ET the Extraterrestrial. An alien that can at best be described as wrinkled and stubby, and also one of the most sympathetic and beloved characters in cinema history.
- Averted, lampshaded and parodied in the Austin Powers movies where the hero doesn't look good at all and one of the first things said to him after he is unfrozen is that he should get a make over for his teeth. At the end of one of the movies when they watch a movie based on Austin Powers (yeah.) Austin is played by Tom Cruise.
- In the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only, Aris Kristatos, a handsome Greek tycoon decorated by the British government for valor during World War II and devoted to his patronage of an aspiring Olympic figure skater Bibi Dahl, warns Bond that Milos Colombo, a swarthy, greasy-haired heroin smuggler, has the encryption device that Bond is attempting to retrieve. When Bond meets with Colombo, he declares that, yes, he is a smuggler, but he never smuggled heroin, and that Kristatos is the real drug smuggler, having warned Bond that he may have to kill Colombo to knock out the competition. By the end of the movie, Kristatos has attempted to kill Bond (and clearly had non-fatherly designs on Bibi), while Colombo aided Bond in taking him down.
- Christopher Johnson and his son of District 9 are the only two white spots in an otherwise Black and Grey Morality Crapsack World. They also happen to be giant space roaches.
- Played with in Megamind. Metroman, the unambiguous hero who fakes his death because he's tired of the life is all Heroic Build and Lantern Jaw of Justice, but then you have Megamind the villain who becomes good and Titan who turns bad because he can't get the girl. Megamind is a blue alien with giant head, but has huge, puppy-like, instantly endearing Green Eyes complete with eyelashes, while Titan is human but looks and acts like a thug.
- Lampshaded and subverted throughout Passione d'Amore. The good-looking male has an affair with a good-looking married woman. (She gets away with stringing him along because she's pretty.) Then, he gets sent to some backwater area and starts to interact with the local colonel's daughter, whom everybody agrees is quite ugly. It also shaped her character: even her parents avoided contact with her. She never gets a 'beautiful all along' makeover, but he eventually falls in love with her anyway. Then she dies. and he goes to tell his pretty lover that he isn't taking her shit anymore. It's mainly notable for the 'pretty dude/ugly woman' pairing.
- Shakespeare's Sonnet CXXX, pretty much a poetic Take That towards his contemporaries (and predecessors. and successors.)
- Charlotte Bronte stated that she deliberately created Jane Eyre to be "as poor and plain as myself," in contrast to the beautiful and elegant romance heroines of her time. Consequently, Jane Eyre herself is never seen as anything but plain and unassuming, except in the eyes of her beloved - who in turn is not particularly handsome, but is loved by Jane for his sharp-pricked devotion to her.
- And, of course, the novel's prettiest characters are all extremely problematic in one way or the other. Blanche Ingram is a self-involved Gold Digger; Rosamond Oliver, while sweet, is nevertheless represented as a fluttery socialite-type; and St. John Rivers, although not a villain, is extremely manipulative and egotistical.
- Often subverted in Harry Potter. No matter how attractive the movie actors may be, characters are often described with more negative physical traits than positive---for example Harry is introduced as having knobby knees, messy hair, and perpetually-broken glasses. Other evil characters, like Bellatrix Black and young Voldemort, are attractive.
- Bellatrix is sort of in between subverting and playing straight this trope - while she was clearly quite attractive when she was younger, she was shown to be gaunt and worn from her time in Azkaban. On the other hand, the same was said for Sirius. And while Harry did think at one point that the Slytherins mostly appeared to be an unattractive lot, the Malfoy family and Regulus Black, all of whom were Slytherins, were considered to be quite attractive. Plus, seeing as Harry tended to be a bit biased against the Slytherins, there is a case of Unreliable Narrator to consider.
- There are further aversions with Mad-eye Moody and the Weasleys. Played straight with a few villains like the Carrows. Interestingly, Pansy Parkinson is described as looking like "a pug", despite her being a Alpha Bitch.
- It's also worth mentioning Gilderoy Lockheart. He's represented as very handsome and charming and has published several books about his various heroic deeds. It's then found out that he's been finding people who banish werewolves and such and modify their memory, then taking their credit. He claims that one reason he did this is that the people who did these things weren't very pretty.
- The general rule is that ugliness will not make you become evil, but evilness will make you become ugly. Voldemort's looks began to deteriorate when he started using large amounts of dark magic resulting in his inhuman appearance, while Bellatrix lost her beauty through insanity and her stay in Azkaban. More morally ambiguous characters like the Malfoys are the middle ground; Lucius is never said to be particularly attractive in the books, and Draco is occasionally called ferret-like. Narcissa is beautiful because she's a Black, they're all described as good-looking, and later redeems the family through motherly love, however her beauty is marred by her snootiness.
- Terry Pratchett's Discworld books take this entire concept, set it in the street, and kick it until it runs squealing. Consider how three of its major characters are usually drawn: Rincewind looks like an older Shaggy from the Scooby Doo franchise; Sam Vimes resembles a cross between a craggier, unshaven Clint Eastwood and Pete Postlethwaite; and Granny Weatherwax, while blessed with excellent bone structure, is (by Word of God) a crabby old woman. Regardless of personal tastes, they're not exactly what you would call "universally attractive"... and they're also three of the main heroes of the Discworld (although Rincewind is not one by choice).
- Compare to how elves are portrayed: beautiful and otherworldly... but here, "otherworldly" is used in the sense of "not from this world", i.e. disturbing and wrong. Elves in the Discworld universe are vicious dimensional parasites. Of course, they don't actually look like that; it's also part of the Psychic Powers.
- In Witches Abroad, the evil Lady Lilith (Granny Weatherwax's elder sister) is described as, essentially, looking like Granny would if she was a few years younger. This is partially an extension of Granny's subversion of the trope, and partly a straight-up Vain Sorceress.
- On the other hand, a lot of younger female heroes are portrayed as quite attractive, especially love interests; look at Angua, Sacharissa, Susan, Adora Belle Dearheart, and Cohen the Barbarian's daughter Conina.
- In the manner of middle ground, Moist von Lipwig, one of the more recent protagonists, is described as being utterly unmemorable, a trait he used to his advantage in his previous job... as a con man. Unmemorable to the extent that his own mother previously took the wrong child home from kindergarten, and he has to attract attention to himself while shaving.
- Not that there aren't any good-looking heroes or unattractive villains on the Disc; for instance, Captain Carrot, The Cape (trope), is as handsome as fits the character type (described by a female vampire as having godlike proportions—the better class of god, even), and Mr. Teatime, from Hogfather, is boyishly handsome but has one glass eye, and one "normal" eye that's even more disturbing. Sensibly, there's no easy way to tell alignment from appearance on the Disc. Not even if said appearance is standing on top of a massive pile of skulls... because said person might just happen to be Cohen the Barbarian.
- Played straight and sarcastically lampshaded in Going Postal. A minor villain is described as being obese and looking like "a piglet having a bright idea", with a voice like "a small, breathless, neurotic but ridiculously expensive dog". He has exactly the personality one would stereotypically associate with these physical traits. In a footnote, the author notes that "it is wrong to judge by appearances" and that "snap judgements can be so unfair" but strongly suggests that such judgements are actually correct most of the time.
- IN SHORT: Discworld averts this trope hard (most of the time).
- A Song of Ice and Fire both follows and subverts this trope with various characters. Many of The Beautiful Elite are admired for their regal or exotic appearance, such as Cersei Lannister or Joffrey Baratheon, but are actually quite incompetent and cruel. Others are mocked, belittled or hated for their ugly appearance, including Brienne of Tarth and Tyrion Lannister, but show far more compassion and integrity than many others. However, other characters follow this trope straight. Many heroic characters are described as being quite handsome or beautiful, such as Daenerys Targaryen (Arguably) and Jon Snow. Many villainous characters are also quite hideous. In general, a character's appearance is more likely to be an influence on their personality rather than a reflection of it.
- A lot of the problems in the setting exist because the general populace believe this trope is true all of the time when it really isn't.
- Sherlock Holmes was not described as terribly good-looking—and in fact his creator Conan Doyle criticized the stories' illustrators for their portrayals of the character, saying that he had always imagined Holmes as "uglier" than they had depicted him in their drawings (though he added that "perhaps from the point of view of my lady readers, it was as well"). Watson was supposed to be the attractive one (and quite a ladies' man to boot). Unsurprisingly, this is generally ignored in screen adaptations.
- Both played straight and subverted in Wild Cards, where most of the characters have hideous mutations. Most of the human-looking leads are not spectacular, either: the Turtle is a plain, chubby nerd; Fatman is, well, fat; and private detective Jay Ackroyd is good at blending in because he looks entirely average and nondescript. Golden Boy is handsome and has eternal youth to boot, but he's almost universally despised as a traitor (he didn't know the youth was eternal when he did it). Doctor Tachyon is handsome, as are his (mostly backstabbing) relatives, because Takisians are bred for beauty; thus, he often has trouble dealing with the less attractive Jokers because he was raised to believe that this trope was gospel truth. His psychotic grandson Blaise is described as the most attractive and evil character in the series.
- Subverted wonderfully in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga, in which the main character, thanks to his mother being poisoned while pregnant with him, is a brittle-boned dwarf who is considered worse than unattractive by his mutation-horrified homeworld. Unsurprisingly, most of the women who look past that are 'galactics'; one of these is a genetically engineered prototype-soldier who's eight feet tall and as strong as two men. Eventually, even more subversive to this trope, Vorkosigan marries a woman from his own planet who loves him much more than her former, physically-attractive-but-a-total-jerk husband and thinks he's perfect the way he is.
- Subverted and played straight in The Dresden Files. Subverted with vampires of the White Court, succubi and incubi; for the most part, they are by nature impeccably beautiful and normally evil, cold, evil, manipulative, and evil. There are some notable exceptions, however: Thomas Raith, Harry Dresden's half-brother, is in a gray area. The Faeries, and especially the High Sidhe, are also perfectly formed but can be either nice or very not nice.
- Because it's Magical Noir, almost every single woman, regardless of good-evil alignment, is devastatingly attractive. It comes with the genre.
- Deeply subverted in Graham McNeill 's Warhammer 40,000 Ultramarines novel Dead Sky Black Sun. Confronted with the Unfleshed—twisted, hideously malformed, with no skin on their bodies—Vaanes is horror-struck ("Look at them. They're evil"), but Uriel tells him he's not certain. He remembers the innocent children he saw herded to the process that transformed them, and sees that they have remembered the God-Emperor, erecting a huge statue of Him. Vaanes deserts him, but the Unfleshed are willing to support him in his quest. When most of them have died carrying it out, the handful of survivors need only be assured that the Emperor is pleased to be delighted.
- Interestingly enough, this is in opposition to traditional Imperial dogma in the setting; creatures such as the Unfleshed would be seen as Chaos-tainted mutants and unworthy of acknowledgment as the Emperor's children- or indeed of basic human consideration as kindred.
- In William King's Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf novel Wolfblade, Ragnar reflects on how his Wolf Lord is the very image of a great hero, and his opponent in dispute is rather less preposing. Then, the opponent also had to be a great warrior and leader, to reach the same post as Berek—and while the opponent is arguing against Ragnor partly out of rivalry, by the same token, Berek is defending Ragnar partly from the same motive.
- In Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, they escape to the planet Ixchel where they encounter the faceless tentacled aliens, who look after and protect them. Indeed, one, in charge of Meg, is surprised by the terms she uses, such as "beast" to describe them, and Meg ends up referring to her as Aunt Beast.
- Technically subverted in the Karavans series by Jennifer Roberson, as The Beautiful Elite are mostly evil. Pretty much everything ugly is evil too. Indeed, Exclusively Evil is rather a common species trait in these books...
- The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis included as one of the heroes a villainous-look priest who is clearly presented as one of the finest people in the tale.
- Voltaire famously penned a rather scathing poem, "Marquise", dedicated to a vain aristocrat who had spurned his advances because he was too old for her, despite being one of the smartest, wittiest guys of his time. The gist of the poem is "So I'm old and wrinkled. You will be too, sooner than you think". In a double subversion, Tristan Bernard later wrote a last stanza to the poem, his imagined answer from the Marquess : "But until then old man, I'm 26, and fuck you too". In those terms, because French poetry is hardcore.
- Subverted, along with every other cliche of space opera, in Harry Harrison's Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers. Arriving on a new planet, our heroes see a war between the Garnishee (hideous tentacled monsters) and the humanoid Ormoloo (who don't look too bad if you overlook the four arms), so they wade in on the side of the more-or-less-humanoids. Of course, it's only after exterminating 99.9% of the Garnishee race that they discover that the octopoids are the wise, gentle and cultured good guys and the Ormoloo are the equivalent of cattle being mind-controlled by evil Puppeteer Parasite aliens out to conquer the galaxy.
- In Meredith Anne Pierce's The Darkangel Trilogy, the titular angel (or vampire) is described as stunningly beautiful. He's also completely evil (securing his immortality by drinking the souls of young women), and the main character (who is described as average looking), falls in love with him, partly because of his beauty. The trope is played with however because the female protagonist knows that this is a terrible reason to love a person, and yet cannot bring herself to kill him. She eventually restores his humanity and in doing so he is said to lose some of his supernatural good-looks.
- Another character in the story also claimed that the vampire is beautiful because he is not completely irredeemable; his soul was still there under all the evil, but when his soul was lost he would become hideously ugly.
- Mostly averted in the How to Train Your Dragon series, where none of the characters are actually that pretty. The only exceptions to this would be Humungously Hotshot the Hero, and Alvin the Trecharous, who is steadily getting uglier with each book (most of it being consequences of his actions, mind).
- Subverted in A. Merritt's novel The Moon Pool. The Big Bad is a beautiful being of light called the Shining One, who enslaves and vampirizes human souls. The lost race who worship it are classically handsome, but decadent and cruel. The forces of good, meanwhile, are represented by three decidedly weird-looking aliens and a race of frog-people.
- In The Riftwar Cycle, beauty doesn't really equal anything. Villains are just as likely to be attractive as heroes (perhaps even more so), and most heroes are fairly unremarkable in their looks. Of the ones that stand apart, some are just ugly (Pradji with his squashed nose and pockmarks), others possibly attractive save for one or two off-putting qualities (Arutha's perpetual gloom, Erik's brutish face), and others are beautiful, but it doesn't do them any favors (Tomas's disturbing slightly-alien features, Sandreena's gorgeousness destroying her childhood). Similarly, all the elves of the series are beautiful, but you can't tell the good from the evil ones just at a glance.
- On the other hand, the idea comes up: When Martin and Garrett run across a moredhel woman, the latter is surprised by her beauty, so the intrinsic expectation that evil enemies would look monstrous while good allied elves are the ones who are allowed to look beautiful is there.
- The Gentleman With Thistle-Down Hair in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell explicitly considers handsomeness to be a sign of one's superiority and nobility over everyone else. A large factor in his decision to make Steven Black the King of England was his good looks. Since he's one of the worst of The Fair Folk this view is not particularly sensible, and it's not evident elsewhere in the books.
- Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: Lampshaded when Wide-Eyed Idealist Aronnax uses physiognomy to justify that a stocky character is a fool and the good-looking man is someone good, but then is subverted when Aronnax thinks again this theory when the good-looking man (Captain Nemo) left him starving with their companions in a cell.
A disciple of such character-judging anatomists as Gratiolet or Engel could have read this man's features like an open book. Without hesitation, I identified his dominant qualities — self-confidence, since his head reared like a nobleman's above the arc formed by the lines of his shoulders, and his black eyes gazed with icy assurance; calmness, since his skin, pale rather than ruddy, indicated tranquility of blood; energy, shown by the swiftly knitting muscles of his brow; and finally courage, since his deep breathing denoted tremendous reserves of vitality.
- In John C. Wright's Count to a Trillion, Menelaus watches how this trope plays out after he released some technology that allowed the rich to become more beautiful, not just through the Ermine Cape Effect, but actually. He doesn't approve.
- Inverted Trope In Roald Dahl's The Twits: Goodness equals beauty. The narrator explains that no matter what skin or bone structure you have, as long as you are a happy person who thinks good thoughts, your face will always shine like the sun.
- Subverted in the school chapter of Buddenbrooks. In Hanno's class there's the student Wasservogel who's described as very ugly, but all the teachers treat him very generously to prove to themselves and the world that they don't fall victim to this trope.
- Count and Countess seems especially fond of averting and subverting this. Vlad Tepes and Sultan Mehmed are given physical descriptions that sound very attractive, but the former is an utterly repulsive human being while the latter flip-flops between Magnificent Bastard and Chaotic Neutral. Elizabeth Bathory, the most sympathetic character in the book (though that's not saying much), sounds plain by her own description, or even ugly. Vlad is in love with her, though, so he only sees her as beautiful.
- In a Saturday Night Live skit, an angel comes to a woman in the hospital and asks her to take his hand so he can heal her, but she's extremely distrustful of him because he's dressed in all black, has black wings, and, well, he's played by Christopher Walken. He points out that if he was trying to deceive her and take her life, he'd be more subtle about it and come disguised as a beloved dead relative. Moments later, her late grandmother appears and kills her.
- Subverting this trope is the basis of much of the humor of comedienne Sarah Silverman. When performing, she has the appearance, mannerisms, and voice of a sweet, innocent young woman. It takes a while for what she is actually saying to sink in...
- The staff on the upper floors of The IT Crowd are, as suggested, "a lot of sexy people not doing much work and having affairs". And they're all horrible, mean people. At least to Moss and Roy, anyway.
- The Lost in Space episode "The Golden Man". Two aliens are in conflict: the handsome title character and his ugly frog-like opponent. The Golden Man turns out to be the bad guy.
- Played straight in the original series of Star Trek with Captain Kirk. Gene Roddenberry was originally opposed to casting a bald lead for Star Trek: The Next Generation due to this trope, but changed his mind after seeing Patrick Stewart's audition. Stewart was later called the "The Sexiest Man on TV" by TV Guide, bald head and all; this is telling.
- Speaking of baldness, the Doctor in Star Trek: Voyager is bald, has Big Ol' Eyebrows (although neither of those are inherently unattractive) and generally will not win any beauty pageants. He's one of the show's most popular characters, and a good guy (albeit a pretty jerkish good guy). As a hologram, he could look like anyone who's on the ship's records, but generally doesn't.
- There's actually plenty of instances in the original series of Star Trek where good-looking people are the villains (or most of the time, Affably Evil). Not sure if this would be a subversion, aversion, or some variation, but the women in "Mudd's Women" are actually very ugly unless they take a pill which makes them radiantly beautiful. It's later revealed to basically be a case of the Placebo Effect, and the women's beauty was merely a factor of their self confidence. They then become beautiful without the pill.
- Spock himself quoted this trope in the episode "Is There In Truth No Beauty", commenting on the Greek ideal that "what is beautiful must therefore be good." The episode subverted this trope hard: Kollos, a member of a race described as so ugly that no one can look at them without going mad, turns out to be friendly and helpful when he shares minds with Spock, but his human aide Miranda, while very attractive, is cold and aloof, and later jealous of Kollos' bond with Spock. Kirk himself admits, "Most of us are attracted by beauty and repelled by ugliness -- one of the last of our prejudices."
- X5s in Dark Angel tend to be attractive, but that's down to Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke (and being played by Jessica Alba or Jensen Ackles). Manticore transgenics with more bizarre appearances are also generally good guys.
- An unsung aversion is The Muppet Show and to some extent Sesame Street as well. With muppets it doesn't matter what a muppet looks like as to how good or bad a person uh puppet will be. And at least on The Muppet Show it was even true with the guest stars you couldn't tell how nice or mean they would be purely based on looks. In fact the more you like a muppet, the more you like the way they look.
- Oh so very averted with Julie Cooper in The OC, widely acknowledged as beautiful, but also suffers from Chronic Villainy.
- Subverted in the Doctor Who serial Galaxy Four, with the beautiful female Drahvins (who turn out to be the villains) and the hideous Rills (the good guys). Also somewhat subverted, a lot of the time, by the character of the Doctor himself.
- In the Virgin New Adventures novel Timewyrm: Revelations by Paul Cornell, Ace finds a pack of double-sided Tarot cards which symbolise the Doctor. One of the cards is called "We Are Friends To The Ugly/We War With The Beautiful", and shows the Doctor embracing a many-tentacled monster (possibly a Venusian, or Alpha Centuri from the Peladon stories) and confronting a calm humanoid.
- The most common source of Media Research Failure in Doctor Who news is journalists assuming that the most hideous looking alien in a given story is "the monster".
- Averted in universe with Michael Scott of The Office, he truly believes that the more attractive a person is the more trustworthy, honorable etc. they are. Pretty much every attractive person Michael puts any trust in are arrogant JerkAsses.
- At one point, The Bible describes Abram (later Abraham) worried someone might try to steal his wife Sarai (later Sarah) because he "realized she was beautiful." The Talmud interprets this to mean that she was physically attractive, but that Abram/Abraham connected to her on a spiritual level, so he would have found her beautiful no matter how she looked; he only realized other men might fancy her years after they had been married.
- It's also been noted that the matriarchs are only described as beautiful when they're also being connected with positive traits; however, rather than playing this trope straight, the interpretations are either a.) beauty only matters when it accentuates goodness or b.) one should find goodness to be beautiful, not beauty to be good.
- The Messiah, on the other hand, is explicitly described by Isaiah as being ugly, so that no one would be distracted by carnal desire.
- In keeping with their belief as Christians that Jesus was the Messiah, early descriptions of Jesus were of a short, ugly, hairy man with dark skin and wooly hair. Even early icons of Jesus (before 800 CE) show a very scary, angry looking guy. Early Roman critics of Christianity, such as Celsus, bring up Jesus's ugliness to mock Christians without realizing it was probably they who spread the description in the first place.
- Subverted and muddied in Warhammer 40,000. Descriptions of most Space Marines fit the "ruggedly handsome" image, but they're the result of massive genetic engineering and are described by most normal humans as strikingly inhuman. Sisters of Battle and Eldar are often portrayed as beautiful in artwork but books, official content, and Word of God all agree that they're anything but. Physical beauty is also one of the most common gifts bestowed by Chaos God Slaanesh, Prince of Excess and Debauchery.
- The reasons that the Sisters of Battle don't look as good as their tabletop models are scarring, tattoos, weight, missing body parts, and them not giving a damn about personal appearance.
- "Though there was no disguising his inhumanity [...] there was the overgrown gigantism of the face, that particular characteristic of the Astartes, almost equine". That's Captain Loken, the definitive Good Guy of the first Horus Heresy book, Dan Abnett's Horus Rising. Also, the book gives us an idea how much Space Marines stink after some time in their powered armor. On the other hand, most Primarchs, who are even taller than Marines, are godlike beautiful.
- An even harder subversion in Warhammer Fantasy Battle: See that really hot, half-naked elf woman? She's the Dark Elf Hag Witch who kills children and bathes in their blood. That fat frog guarded by the huge, frightening lizards she's fighting? The frog's a Slann Mage-Priest, and those lizards are Temple Guards, among the noblest soldiers in the world.
- Played straight to the point of absurdity however with the literal Exclusively Evil servants of Chaos, who have an explicit rule that the more they devote themselves to Chaos the more mind-warpingly horrific they become, with the final fate of any Chaos follower being either a gibbering Chaos Spawn with more limbs than IQ points or a massive Daemon Prince with dominion over their own slice of hell.
- And subverted again with followers of Slaanesh, who are described as Disturbingly beautiful at worst. The ability of the artists and modelers to convey this, however, varies due to individual skill and decency laws.
- Though played disturbingly straight with Slaanesh's two champions, Lucius and Fulgrim. Fulgrim was one of the most beautiful primarchs while on the side of the Emperor, but now he's a four armed snake thing. Likewise, Lucius was called a pretty boy by his allies because he had never taken an injury in battle. You only start seeing his ugly side after Loken breaks his nose, and when he truly turns, he starts cutting his face up whenever he kills someone. Hence how he looks in the 41st millennium.
- And to perhaps complete the cycle, there is the case of the Chaos god Nurgle, horrifying and ugly in the most maximal senses of the word, and that’s without factoring in the virulent plagues and diseases has coursing through the very air he resides in, let alone his skin. Bloated, dead looking, maggots and worms writhing everywhere, and one of his attributes is kindness. His followers while all hideously ugly as well, and bloated/diseased, are nonetheless also jovial and welcoming. To make it even more insane, when the Eldar pantheon fell in the birth of Slaanesh, the goddess of fertility, healing, and presumably beauty, Isha, was captured by Slaanesh to be his/her/it's plaything forever. When she screamed and begged for help across the cosmos, none other than Nurgle and his followers wage war on Slaanesh to get Isha out. Nurgle kept her in his garden then and had her drink his plagues - she of course could heal herself, and so would then tell all mortals how to rid themselves of his plagues. While she could leave, canon seems to indicate she willingly stays with Nurgle. He absolutely adores her, and likewise, she loves him.
- Completely averted with D&D Tieflings. 2e Tieflings are sexy, usually evil, and possess only a few 'subtle' signs of their heritage (small horns, glowing eyes, etc). 4e Tieflings are hideous and almost always good.
- 3e subverts this even more with Amazons: all of them are stunningly beautiful women, on the other hand they are bloodthirsty Neutral Evil near-literal feminazis who kill men at sight and\or rape them for reproduction, to the point they gleefully bash their male children's head to pulp against trees. reading about their tradition makes many players Not Distracted by the Sexy.
- Swords and Scorcery Creature Collection - Subverted brutally with False Lovers, paragons of charm and beauty, who can effortlessly win the hearts and souls of any who look upon them. They are able to inspire heroes and heroines to great deeds, give birth to new forms of art and literature, and transform cultures of entire kingdoms with their wit and grace. Yet, ultimately they will betray those dreams, leave a trail of broken lives in their wake, and crush the spirits of those who loved them simply for the evulz. They hide their true cursed nature behind powerful illusions that maintain the semblance of whom they once were before their looks began to wane in the passing of time.
- In Razes Hell, the cute and cuddly Kewletts are an evil army on a genocidal campaign to destroy those not cute enough by their standards.
- The Japanese-developed Ace Combat 5 The Unsung War subverts this. The base commander is a Fat Bastard, but the handsome-in-an- Uncanny Valley -way adjutant is The Mole for the Belkans.
- The Ace Attorney series has twice used a Sibling Yin-Yang to play this straight while also subverting it: Dahlia and Iris in the third game, and Klavier and Kristoph in the fourth.
- Subverted and played straight in Lunar: SSSC with Phacia and her sisters. Then, played straight in Lunar: EBC with Lucia. In fact, some NPCs in the game express disbelief at how someone that beautiful can be the Destroyer (which Lucia isn't, but oh, well...).
- Xenobia and Royce (the aforementioned sisters of Phacia) would probably fall under Evil Is Sexy rather than a subversion of this trope.
- Subverted in Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy IX. Sephiroth and Kuja are both very attractive, although technically Cloud and Zidane aren't bad looking at all, just not as attractive as the baddies. Sephiroth for one has fangirls (and boys) lusting after him. Not to mention the Badass factor.
- Also in Final Fantasy X with Seymour. Goofy hair aside, he's one good-looking man despite being an especially nasty piece of work.
- The various games in the Warcraft series have both subverted this trope and played it straight. Of particular note is Warcraft III, in which the stereotypically ugly orc Thrall rises to become one of Azeroth's greatest heroes, while stereotypically handsome human Arthas falls to irredeemable evil (though he becomes less handsome when he becomes a Death Knight.
- Many of Warcraft's protagonists aren't traditionally attractive and all but Turalyon and Thrall have been older men. Even Malfurion, an Elf, was a large elderly man with a long grizzly Beard of Evil. The Antagonists are almost always pretty ugly however.
- An inversion being the race of Succubi. However they play with this trope as well as they fall in love with their master relatively commonly - and it happens no matter how hideously ugly the summoner can be.
- Many of Warcraft's protagonists aren't traditionally attractive and all but Turalyon and Thrall have been older men. Even Malfurion, an Elf, was a large elderly man with a long grizzly Beard of Evil. The Antagonists are almost always pretty ugly however.
- The Persona games subvert this with Igor, a diminutive hunched old man with bulging, bloodshot eyes, pointed ears, a fiendish grin, and a foot-long nose, who helps the good guys develop their powers while claiming he's just fulfilling his own obligations.
- That rather depends on the game. A common thread in the Persona games is Igor's role as assistant, and many fans of the first game are still wondering what happened to Philemon, Igor's apparently former boss, and are waiting for that to be explained. As of 4, at least, he's the trope played straight—you're not supposed to trust him (see the Persona 4 entry above for details). And he does outright state he's doing all this for his own reasons—they just happen to align with the hero's this time.
- Ghost Trick: Despite actually being named Beauty, the female agent of the blue people is probably the most cold-hearted, having kidnapped and threatened a little girl. Beauty was apparently willing to kill her if Sissel stuck around. Even her fawning admirer Dandy took offense to being cruel to Kamilla, though he was complicit in the kidnapping.
- Oddly averted in Yggdra Union partially due to the artstyle; every badguy from the lowest mook to the cruelest boss is cute as hell.
- Almost subverted in StarCraft. One of the few attractive characters (most of them being alien or plain) does a Face Heel Turn, and probably the closest thing to good guys in the game are aliens who are only somewhat humanoid... except for Jim Raynor, who is a classic rough-hewn hero and, with one exception, easily the most moral person in the entire series thus far.
- From another viewpoint, StarCraft can be seen to be completely neutral in this respect, as every race and character is crafted to be both good and evil, in one way or another. The Protoss are noble, but are all but undone by their traditions and hubris; the Terran are very versatile but are almost constantly fighting amongst themselves for power and resources; the Zerg are the stereotypical 'evil' race, but are the only race that's striving to better themselves, and being a hivemind, they have the highest 'integrity' of the races (until a human enters the Swarm and the Overmind dies, which results in said human fighting with the Cerebrates for control over the Swarm...). As far as attractiveness is concerned - beauty is in the eye of the beholder... or in this case, the player. Take, for instance, the release of the Zerg models for StarCraft II by Blizzard - the entire fanbase was falling over themselves in adoration of their favourite spiny, scaled and virulent units.
- Somewhat subverted in World of Warcraft: While five out of the six Horde races are ugly and monstrous, the Horde itself isn't particularly evil...and the attractive blood elves are one of the most unpleasant of the Horde races. As for the Alliance, the vaguely demonic-looking draenei are usually Lawful Good and probably the most honorable of the lot.
- Then played straight when the draenei—particularly draenei women—became very obvious perpetual fanservice. Fanart has very quickly caught up to reflect this.
- Played straight in a Horde quest in the latest expansion, where players help overthrow a cruel but incompetent Orc commander in favour of her more noble sister. The tyrant uses one of the "ugly" Orc female faces with red eyes and a perpetual snarl, while the sister has the most conventionally attractive face available to Orcs.
- Rise of the Kasai features four playable characters, three of which subvert this trope. Baumusu and Grizz are both old men, Baumusu is bald, burly, heavyset, and is missing an eye. Grizz is wrinkly, thin as a rail, has a huge nose, and is also balding. Both are noble and honorable heroes. Tati is a very attractive female, but is the most morally questionable of the four, to the point that she can make a Face Heel Turn at the end of the game. Her brother Rau arguably plays this straight as he's a fairly handsome man and arguably the most noble of all four of them. This is played straight with most of the villians, however. The big bad is especially hideous. The Twins are supposed to be very attractive to the point of being able to mind control men, but the game's graphics and the haziness of the scene makes it something of Informed Attractiveness.
- In the Touhou Project series, hideous and otherwise monstrous entities, some of whom even state outright that they do/have done things we might otherwise consider repugnant in their lives, have been turned into Cute Monster Girls. They are also extremely well-loved by both their creator and the Fandom, even if "human" is their main delicacy.
- Then there is Saigyou Ayakashi which uses it's beauty to lure people to it and then drain their souls.
- Played straight early in The Witcher, as the bad guys are brutish and ugly compared to the Witchers, who are scarred enough to increase their masculine charm. Act I ends in a conflict between a beautiful witch who has been the town's doctor, and an unruly mob who sell their own children into slavery. This trope fades as good and evil become less clear, and by the end both the Big Bad and Big Good are equally immaculately handsome in their finely-crafted armor.
- Though it has many straight examples of this trope, Mass Effect also has numerous subversions in all three games of the series.
- In the first game, Urdnot Wrex is just as ugly and ferocious-looking as most Krogan, and sports a number of old battlescars on his face; however, though he's admittedly an Anti-Hero, Wrex is surprisingly amiable for a Blood Knight Warlord-turned-Mercenary and even goes on to become a leader and reformer among the Krogan populace in the sequels.
- Turians aren't exactly handsome by human standards, sporting insectoid mandibles and spikey exoskeletons; however, the one that joins your team, Garrus Vakarian ends up becoming one of Shepard's closest friends. This is subverted even further in the second game, when Garrus gets shot in the face by a enemy gunship; though he survives, he's inflicted with permanent scarring and plastic surgery isn't brought out as an easy way to keep him "handsome." This doesn't effect his morality in the slightest.
- Mordin Solus is a very old Salarian with a number of old facial scars from his time in the STG, and is missing one of his cranial horns. Though he's a bit on the morally ambiguous side, there's no denying that he's still a hero who does his best to ensure the safety of his patients and the galaxy at large. After all, he is the Very Model of a Scientist Salarian.
- In a far more alien example than most, Rachni Queen might be a terrifying insectoid Hive Queen that speaks through the bodies of the dead and dying and her species did engulf the galaxy in war several centuries ago, but she isn't inherently evil. In fact, she's just been imprisoned and enslaved as a means of creating shock-troops; if you release her, she joins forces with you out of gratitude, and honours her promise without any backstabbing.
- Morinth, one of your optional team-members from the second game, is a beautiful Asari with class and sophistication on her side. She's also a Serial Killer who operates via Mind Raping her victims to death, and has absolutely no empathy for anyone she has to kill in order to feed her hunger for power.
- It's hard to convey beauty in a cartoony style, but in Sinfest, Informed Attractiveness is used to convey the depths of Lil' Evil's Amnesiac Dissonance.
- Sergeant Schlock of Schlock Mercenary is an... interesting variation on this trope. While no one can deny that he is one of the protagonists, and that he does have his Jerk with a Heart of Gold moments, it is repeatedly noted that he is an alien that looks, literally, like a pile of fecal matter.
- On the other hand, thanks to genetic engineering, any genes that can make a person "unattractive," have been weeded out. One character even mentions that all of humanity's females now have ample bossoms. Interestingly, this subverts the trope harshly, as it means that if you're a human, then you can be good or evil and still be pretty.
- Inverted in the Protectors of the Plot Continuum, where the suddenly and inhumanly beautiful Mary Sues are pitted against scruffy Assassins that've had too little sleep and too much time since their last shower. The Assassins aren't necessarily nice, as you might guess from the name, but the Sues are Brainwashing reality-warping abominations.
- A review on Mr. Coat and Friends noted that this was an aspect of Captain EO.
- My Little Pony had a few aversions, and at least one deliberate subversion: In the episode "Fugitive Flowers", the main characters help a group of sentient flowers escape from the "crabnasties"; they regret it later when it turns out the crabnasties are a police force, and the "flories" are escaped convicts. It becomes clear that their respective appearance made it hard for Posey to consider, but all in all, the ugly crabnasties end being the Big Damn Heroes of the episode.
- Inverted in the episode "Stage Fright" of My Life as a Teenage Robot. Jenny, who was rejected from performing in the school's dramatic production of Romeo and Juliet, believes the school is playing the trope straight by accepting only human actors, but when aliens crash land and attempt to warn everyone of an alien invasion (simply by shouting "Alien invasion!"), Jenny is quick to face them on the grounds that they're hideous. When the actual invaders arrive, they're beautiful energy beings with slight feminine figures...who quickly attempt to conquer. In the end, both Jenny and the uglier aliens are cast in the school play as the leading roles.
- This was the moral to Disney's Beauty and the Beast - while Belle is, indeed, a Beauty, the attractive Gaston is actually a terrible person while the Beast is very kind and gentle. Of course, the Beast and the Prince he turns back into could be considered quite attractive themselves, depending on one's taste.
- While Tiana and Naveen are plenty attractive in The Princess and the Frog, the animation crew also took great pains to make the sinister Doctor Facilier quite charismatic and attractive as well, to explain how he could lure in unsuspecting victims. And then Ray the Firefly is drawn to resemble an in-bred hillbilly, but is still one of the most insightful and helpful characters.
- Total Drama Island has three of the four main antagonists being shown as extremely attractive (two of them, Justin and Alejandro, even using their looks to get ahead).
- An episode of Xiaolin Showdown had a Villain of the Week use this trope to her advantage. As long as she's in water, she looks like a beautiful mermaid, and gives the group a sob-story about how she's the last mermaid in the world, being hunted by an evil Viking. She's pretty, the Viking is ugly...naturally, they believe her until the Viking sets them straight--he's the good guy here, and she's a monster. Then it turns out that, out of the water, the mermaid becomes a hideous giant monster.
- The Thundercats episode "Good and Ugly" did this, with the heroes having to choose which of two visiting aliens to help; the good guy turned out to be the ugly one. They even ended the episode with a "good and ugly" joke.
- Both applied AND Subverted Trope in Tangled- the main leads are all handsome or cute (Disney even had its own female employees choose what Flynn should look like) and two of the villains (the Stabbington Brothers) are ugly- however the main villainess is pretty hot (while young) and the Snugly Duckling Pub Thugs, despite their looks turned out to be nice guys. They even Lampshade Hanging it in one of the movie's best musical numbers.
- Double subverted in Bartok the Magnificent where the ugly Russian witch Baba Yaga is actually portrayed as being a benign character, and she even makes a magic potion that can turn people into who they really are. According to Yaga, the titular bat is supposed to drink the potion, which will turn him into a brave hero, but the potion is later stolen by the evil Ludmilla, who is portrayed as being beautiful. Ludmilla actually wants to use Jaga's potion to make her even more beautiful so she can take over Russia, but when she finally drinks it, said potion realizes that Ludmilla is evil once consumed, and as a result it turns her into a dragon.
- The villain of Happily N'Ever After 2 starts out ugly and turns herself beautiful so she can marry the king.
- The Guardian Angel in Adventure Time uses this trope to get Finn to trust her immediately. Big mistake.
- Finn does this a lot, although he doesn't appear to necessarily judge by "beautiful" so much as "cute and helpless".
- Subverted in both of Disney's Cinderella sequels, where Anastasia is an ugly stepsister but is a nicer person. She's a little better-drawn arguably, but it's more of a result of her not scowling all of the time.
- Nazi propaganda continuously portrayed the regime's enemies as shrunken, deformed subhumans, and eulogised the handsome, dashing, blond-haired blue-eyed Aryan hero. The regime itself was obsessed with its image. Even Adolf Hitler himself had adoring fangirls.
- It wasn't just them. The US portrayed the Japanese as fanged snake people in cartoons and comics.
- And, turnabout being fair play, the Japanese depicted the British and Americans as demonic (tricksy shapeshifters or brutish oni).
- All visual propaganda uses this. Showing how evil your opponents are would take up too much space on the poster—more or less subtle differences in beauty are used instead.
- New born infants prefer to look at attractive faces (about 80%), than less attractive or plain ones. This is due to the aesthetic, symmetric appeal of a beautiful face, suggesting that inbuild preferences are involved which help babies make sense of their environment.
- Warren Harding, considered the most incompetent president in American history. It was his outward appearance rather than any outstanding internal qualities that contributed most strongly to his political success.
- On the opposite end of the spectrum, Abraham Lincoln, often considered to be America's best president, was thin-faced and wrinkly. His opponents mocked him for having the face of a horse-thief. Most pictures of him smooth out his face quite a bit. There's some evidence that he was actually medically deformed due to Marfan's Syndrome, also explaining his extremely unusual height.
"If I was two-faced, then why on earth would I choose to wear this one?"
- Quite a few serial killers (such as Ted Bundy) subvert this trope nastily when it comes to using good looks to lure potential victims. They first Invoked Trope it by getting women to automatically trust them on their good looks alone ("He wouldn't hurt anyone, just look at how hot/cute/handsome he is!").
- This trope came out to play regarding Susan Boyle. When she walked on stage, the judges looked at her awkward appearance and assumed she was going to be a total disaster. When she had an amazing voice come out of her mouth, they judges were visibly floored, and left commentators asking why we assume lack of physical beauty automatically means lack of talent.
- To be brutally honest, possibly the most difficult part of this to accept is how Dr Sivana managed to have any kids while looking like Gollum with Nerd Glasses.