Beauty Is Never Tarnished

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
It was a rough night, but she'll be fine.

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness."

Women and girls are action and adventure heroes nowadays, just like men and boys are. They get into dangerous situations, face menacing villains, get captured, and even get into fights.

But even when they're portrayed as equally able to get into danger, something is a little different for the girls. While guys get their clothes messed up a lot or torn, girls tend not to (unless it's that kind of Clothing Damage). Guys show visible bruises and cuts from their fights, but girls don't suffer these things. Heck, girls don't even get their hair disheveled most times! It's as if nature itself Wouldn't Hit a Girl, not to mention there's often a Dirt Forcefield (perhaps affected by being Stripperificchew on that one for a moment).

Likewise, girls are almost never used in slapstick comedy (but she can get a Pie in the Face) – the times when this is averted are rare enough to have their own trope. They never become The Chew Toy. This is less common with independent artwork actually created by women, who apparently don't have hang-ups about hitting a girl (for obvious reasons), but don't expect to see too many women suffering Amusing Injuries on TV or in much of anything published.

Possibly this is because girls are supposed to be beautiful, and the actual scars that an adventure would realistically bring tend to detract from their beauty. Fierce hand-to-hand fights are cool, even sexy, but the broken noses and black eyes they cause are not. Since Most Writers Are Male, they only want to see males getting hurt, whether humorously or through exciting action sequences.

This version of the trope may be less common nowadays, possibly because more people, of both genders, want a "cool" Action Girl who proves she can handle tough situations by showing the scars for having done so, and because mild scars don't necessarily detract from beauty in everyone's opinion. Plus, having one's hair dishevelled, your clothes all scuffed up and your face drenched in 2 liters of sweat, blood and grime can be cute to some people, in a tomboy-ish way (or more than that...). Or there's a fire situation, which can Give a Whole New Meaning to "ash blonde".

Still a heroine will (almost) never suffer a permanent injury such as the loss of a limb or eye, no matter how much punishment she goes through. It's fairly rare for heroes too, but much, much, much rarer for heroines. In fact, it might be considered the second most common super-power. (The first being, well, you know.) In the case of heroes, they usually go from Beauty to Beast. Several variations of this include She Fu and Waif Fu.

The other version of this trope concerns a different form of beauty: inner beauty. Guys fart, burp, etc.; but girls aren't shown doing it anywhere near as often. Gross-out jokes tend to always involve guys, not girls. After all, girls are never gross, don't you know? And, since Most Writers Are Male, they tend not to want them to be gross.

Could be seen as a form of Positive Discrimination in some cases. After all, a female character suffering serious injury or even dying will attract accusations of misogyny, Chickification or Stuffed Into the Fridge...

This is more common in the West, particularly in older movies and shows, but the outer beauty version is much less common in Japan, where both genders can be equally roughed up or exposed to violence... on the other hand, the inner beauty version is, if anything, several times worse. Also, this is more common in visual media, where the women are expected to be cute or beautiful, than in books, where it doesn't really matter what the character "looks" like, since you can't see her. Finally, this may not protect an evil or annoying character from Gunge, and female villains may also acquire appropriate scarring. (However, giving a Femme Fatale a permanent scar is generally not a good idea.)

Male examples of this trope are rare, but more common in works targeted to a female or gay male audience where the male characters are hoped to remain attractive.

If a girl regularly averts this and it’s Played for Laughs she is probably a case of Slapstick Knows No Gender.

Compare Dirt Forcefield, Kicking Ass in All Her Finery. For the clothing only, see Bullet-Proof Fashion Plate. If beauty is tarnished and then subsequently killed off, it's Death by Disfigurement.

Examples of Beauty Is Never Tarnished include:

Examples of the first (action oriented) kind

NO AVERSIONS, unless it's a really extreme case, not tragic and/or played for comedy.

Anime and Manga

  • In Hitohira Nono and Risaki start a brutal fight which leaves them both unconscious, but it apparently doesn't leave any bruises.
  • Tenjho Tenge tends to go both ways on this. In both the anime and the manga, women are engaged in battle just as much as, if not more than, men. However, in the animated version, the effects of combat towards the girls tend to be limited to Clothing Damage or injuries which don't obscure beauty, like bruises away from the face or sprained limbs. The manga however, which is a great deal more violent, has many female characters face terrible and permanent disfigurement for their lifestyle choices (such as crushed faces, severed limbs, eyes stabbed, and other wonderful things). However, the main female cast, like Maya and Aya, tend to not face such consequences. Although, since they are legendary fighters, it could just be their skill. Maya is also nearly beaten to death by Kagiroi.
  • None of the girls in Love Hina suffered as much physical abuse as Keitaro.
  • Balsa from Seirei no Moribito receives some serious injuries during the series, but none of them leave visible scars. We can assume she must have a nasty one on her stomach, but her clothes are rather modest and only show her arms and face, which remain untarnished.
  • Every single one of Hayao Miyazaki's heroines, except for the one point (if it occurs) in each movie where they get a little bit dirty or stained on purpose to show they're not afraid to do it, e.g. San cleaning the blood out of one of her "brother"s musket-shot wounds, or Nausicaa's dress being stained with Ohm blood (which is actually a key plot point). Sorta like their skin and clothes are made out of teflon. (How else do you explain San's gear being clear of blood stains not much later, when even modern soap powder has difficulty getting it all out?)
  • In Ranma ½ the male characters take way more abuse than the female characters. Except for female Ranma but she's mentally male.
    • Most of Rumiko Takahashi works has elements of this.
  • Played straight in the first season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, where Nanoha and Fate gets Clothing Damage at best while Chrono is shown with his face half covered in blood.
  • In Change 123 the female fighters get badly injured, but few scars mar their perfect features. The one time they were shown/drawn was when Gettou explained how hers were closed up so they'd heal and fade.
  • Debatable as to whether this is played straight or averted in Baccano!!. Nice Holystone is hideously scarred and missing an eye due to an occupational mishap (bomb-making). Her best friend goes so far as to have his face tattooed in a similar pattern, in an effort to prevent her from feeling self-conscious about her apparent deformity. That said, being a cartoon, she's adorable and the scars just come off looking cool.
  • Zig-zagged in the character of Balalaika in Black Lagoon. The parts of her face that aren't horribly scarred are beautiful. The parts that are scarred look like she's been deep fat fried, hence why some people call her "Fry-Face" (but only to her back).
    • When Revy and Roberta have their No-Holds-Barred Beatdown at the end of Roberta's first arc, they are bruised and bloodied, but suffer no permanent damage
  • In Uzumaki, protagonist Kirie suffers burns that are serious enough to put her in hospital for some time, yet manage to mostly miss her face. Once she leaves the hospital, the ones on her legs are also fully healed without a trace of scarring.
  • Nami from One Piece has flawless skin, despite being injured a lot (though not to the extent of Luffy or Zoro). In fact, everyone but Zoro and Luffy doesn't retain any scars from their battles.
    • Same with Boa Hancock. I don't think she got a single scratch on her throughout the whole Marineford battle.
  • Completely averted in Claymore. Even the pretty fighters (which is pretty much all of them) at one point or the other get their limbs hacked off, slashed in the chest and face, Impaled with Extreme Prejudice, and for the very unlucky ones unable to regenerate, severed into pieces. In the past, Claire's mentor was decapitated by Priscilla, whose awakened form caused the death of all the Claymores accompanying her.
  • Pretty much averted in Michiko to Hatchin, where the eponymous Action Girl often gets bruises and black eyes from fighting.
  • Averted with a motherfucking vengeance in the Ikki Tousen manga. Every time the Action Girls get into major fights, it's a sure thing that either one or more of the ladies will not just get Clothing Damage by the wazoo, but she/they will get beaten bloody, vomit on-screen, or wet herself/themselves. And at least one of them has been permanently mutilated ( Manga!Ten'i, who lost an arm).
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise, seeing one of the good guys lose a duel isn’t all that uncommon, but the way Zuzu loses to Sergi in the Friendship Cup arc in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V isn't the typical loss. As three urchins describe it to her (she blacked out and doesn’t remember what happened), she "blew up a skyscraper, demolished a runner, and fell about 40 stories" (then they admit they were being nice; it was much worse than that). Most members of the cast were, at the time, under the impression No One Could Have Survived That, yet not only does she survive, she doesn’t have a single bruise, her clothes are not torn and still clean, and her hair isn’t so much as mussed.
  • The anime for The Irregular at Magic High School has Tatsuya wondering why his friend is asking that he take his companions home after a battle; the scene then pans to the three girls with torn pantyhose, carrying the implication that they're in no shape to fight any further... despite there being no actual wounds visible.
  • In the fourth episode of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury Chuchu gets tired of the two No Name Given Girl Posse sabotaging her exam and gets into a fistfight with them, knocking out one of them in a single punch and getting into an extend back in forth with the other that leaves both Chuchu and the other girl with horribly bruised faces, only for any mark on Chuchu to disappear entirely from her the next scene transition (the other girl isn't shown), set mere hours later. The bystander who accidentally gets hit once trying to push the two of them apart actually comes off looking worse than Chuchu, getting a comedic bandage on her chin.

Fan Works

  • Male example: While earlier fics kept him pretty even through abuse, the That Guy With The Glasses Kink Meme has been averting this with a vengeance for The Nostalgia Critic lately[when?]. He's been mutilated, snuffed, cut up, had his eyes gouged out, beaten while gang-raped, bitten clean through his tongue when he was beheaded in public... you name whatever torture, it's been done to the poor guy.
  • Ultimate SpiderWoman: Change With the Light: Mary Jane Watson has been smashed into walls, zapped with electrical bolts, slashed by razor bats, burned with flame, and been punched square in the face, but she's never suffered any permanent scars or blemishes. Her injuries tend to heal rather quickly by themselves once she gets some rest, although she still sometimes has to explain how she got hurt in the first place. She typically claims that she was caught up in a supervillain attack, which is more plausible than you might think because of how many supervillains are causing mayhem in New York at any given time.
  • In the 52nd chapter of the Teraverse story The Secret Collocation of Alex Mack, there are multiple mentions of how Alex "Terawatt" Mack manages to stay apparently untouched by a wet, muddy fight that leaves the other dozen or so people on her side completely bloody and filthy:

Stormburst had gotten blasted off maybe to Mount Shasta. We'd all been knocked over and smacked around. And Terawatt was still kicking demon ass. While looking immaculate. Did she just constantly use a big chunk of her telekinesis to keep herself clean and dry?


Oh, and Alex looked like she'd just gotten out of the shower, done her hair, and put on a new uniform. Alee needed to learn to do that.

At some point Stormburst (the Alex Mack of the DC Universe) apparently figured out how to do it, since it's commented on by a villain she fought in Cross Purposes 2.
  • In the first chapter of the Spice Girls/Ace of Base Real Person Fic Just Taken, Melanie and co are badly beaten up in a fight by a gang of thugs, complete with Melanie being both stabbed and ran over by a car. Not only these they survived, with Melanie sending a message, they were able to just go to the nearest hospital. Within the bruises and broken bones, Melanie noticed her tattoos were left untouched.

Comic Books

  • Many female Superheroes tend to benefit from this trope, to the point where it is the Second-Most Common Super Power, beyond the first, of course.
    • It works that way for men as well. Many superheroes get thrown through walls, blasted, and slammed with few signs of damage and it is rare that any male heroes receive permanent scars from the ordeals. While it may make sense for guys with superhuman durability and healing factors to remain unchanged, Badass Normal characters like Batman or Daredevil should be quite ugly by now. Instead, they remain as handsome as ever. It was directly Lampshaded as far back as the 1960s by Spider-Man, who noted that the bruises he'd suffered in several fights tended to heal very quickly.
  • It's also notable that men are far more likely than women to have powers that leave them hideously deformed. The X-Men spin-off Generation X notably featured a team of three girls (all extremely attractive) and three boys—two of whom had powers that left them physically deformed. Which didn't stop them being considered attractive by many readers, of course—but when the series' primary Mr. Fanservice has no lower jaw (when he took his mask off), while his girlfriend is a generic all-American blonde it smells a little like a double standard.
    • Seen in earlier X-Men teams, too, where the physical mutations seemed to pop up only in male characters—Beast and Nightcrawler are visibly abnormal, Angel has hard-to-hide wings, Wolverine had claws. The only female X-Men character of that period who had a visible mutation was Polaris, with easily-dyed green hair (technically, Storm's white hair and blue eyes are physical aspects of her mutation, but they only add to her exotic beauty). Even today, the X-Men have not had a female member who wasn't at least a Cute Monster Girl.
  • While Bruce Banner gets grotesquely muscular and rips his shirt, depending on the artist, his female counterpart merely gets two feet taller and turns green, or bulks up some, but nowhere near as much as Bruce.
    • Averted by the female versions of the Abomination, Abominatrix and Aberration, who mutate exactly like Abomination.
  • Slight subversion with Barbara Gordon: She got shot in the gut... and the bullet pierced her spine and forced her to live a few years in a wheel chair (she's still pretty, though). Also, Batgirl III, Cassandra Cain, is shown as having plenty of scars and bruises. One scene shows her strolling into a kitchen to get milk... naked... but all covered in scars.
  • Recently[when?] averted by the Red Skull's daughter Sin. Let's just say it's clear she's taking her father's mantle.
  • A Rare Male Example is Heathen City Maranatha, a homoerotic noir action thriller with its share of violence. Despite all the thrashing the characters go through, Owen and Malloy never tarnish their good looks.
  • Averted by Sharon Ventura, aka She-Thing, from the Fantastic Four, since part of her whole story was the tragedy of The Thing's mutation happening to a woman.
  • From Spider-Man comics, the Black Cat. Her nose has been broken three times and while she has frequently been beaten up with her costume reduced to shreds and noticeably wounded a few times, she rarely has any lasting damage, with no scars at all. Given her taste in costumes, they'd likely show.


  • An unofficial benefit to being a Disney Princess is that no force known to man can so much as smudge your makeup nor muss your hair. Cinderella even looks gorgeous wearing pauper's rags.
  • Particularly noticeable in movies from the 1950s and so (at least, those rare movies where women ventured out). See The Leech Woman on Mystery Science Theater 3000, whose leading lady romps through the jungle in a white blouse—and it stays white the whole time! Ajax, strong on dirt?
  • In Casablanca, Victor Lazlo, though supposedly having escaped from a concentration camp where he was considered a "favored guest" retains his aristocratic European good looks marred only by a scar that might have been a fencing injury.
  • Grindhouse: Planet Terror, in which Rose McGowan gets her leg chopped off, to be replaced by an assault rifle with an under slung grenade launcher.
  • In Space Jam, Lola Bunny is the only main cartoon character that never suffers a pratfall, or, indeed, any kind of indignity. Other characters even deliberately take hits intended for her.
  • Used in Shaun of the Dead. No one, except for Shaun, get really bloody and dirty until the end. Even then, Liz is still better off than Shaun.
  • Untraceable. The male victims suffer agonisingly slow deaths with obvious and continuous physical damage (i.e. one victim is submerged up to his neck in a tank slowly of sulfuric acid). The heroine's suspended over a Death Trap that will either kill her instantly or let her escape without a scratch.
  • In The Bourne Ultimatum, a Giant Mook punches Nicky in the face, knocking her unconscious without otherwise injuring her or marking her in any way.
  • Actually averted of all things, in the Kenan and Kel movie Good Burger. A girl working for the rival burger firm tries to get close to Ed to worm the secret sauce recipe out of him but ends up getting completely battered and bruised on a miniature golf date with him. In the next scene she's covered in bandages and on crutches.
  • Graphically averted in the remake of House of Wax. Carly (Elisha Cuthbert) gets her lips glued together and must prise them apart, leaving them bloody for the rest of the film.
    • She also gets the tip of her finger cut off. Even Paris Hilton averts this as the killer stabs her in the heel before throwing a pole through her head.
  • The Final both plays straight and averts the trope. Two female bullies get chemicals smeared all over their face to destroy their good looks forever, and one gets two of her fingers cut off. However far more male bullies are tortured than females despite there being a well developed female bully who never gets tortured. Also, Emily is shot in the head but this isn't shown.
  • Both used and averted in Serenity, where the female crew gets banged up pretty badly, though mostly in areas away from their faces, with a few aversions.
    • River bears a quite visible cut across the top of her forehead in the final scene from her battle against the Reavers.
    • Inara gets attacked and bitten in the face by a Reaver, right after Kaylee is shot by the darts, and right before Zoe gives the order to fall back, as seen here.
    • Zoe's face remains untouched, but her back receives a horrible slash that will probably become a rather unattractive scar, even with Simon's medical skills.
    • Kaylee however, is incapacitated by a series of poison darts, leaving her skin and face untouched.
    • Interestingly this applies to the male characters as well. None of them ever get their face permanently damaged. Presumably "because they're so very pretty."
  • In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the heroine's clothes never tore or got stained.
  • In Casino Royale, the heroine's mascara does run when she sits crying in the shower, but oddly is not at all affected when she drowns.
    • While we're on James Bond, 007 himself is a masculine example of this trope. It's hard to remember movies where he ends up looking terrible (only three come to mind: Dr. No, Licence to Kill and Casino Royale - his first movie, and two Darker and Edgier approaches; there's also Die Another Day, but that's only the film's beginning, and after months of captivity).
    • However, in Quantum of Solace Bond looks, as M says it, "like hell" within 15 minutes. It doesn't really ease up from there.
  • Averted, but still present in the live-action Casper movie, which, for the record, was scripted by two women. Kat is exempt from the wackier slapstick stunts, being locked in a closet while her father battles the Ghostly Trio. Also, the Up-And-At-'Em Machine seems to have more exaggerated effects on the villains than her, in fact seeming to effect only the male villain. However, the villainess doesn't seem to be quite as exempt from physical comedy as Kat and additionally the local Alpha Bitch gets a slapsticky comeuppance.
  • Films of The Three Stooges had a rare exception to their usual standard of not actually hitting a woman. A short featured the Stooges as cavemen courting. Moe and Larry have their mates subdued in stereotypical clubbed-hard style. Shemp's beloved had to bash him. The rival tribe comes along, sees the Stooges hauling the women away, and hurls spears at them, sticking in the usual rear slapstick target. Since Shemp is the one being dragged, though, it's the woman who's hit.
  • From The Lord of the Rings, Frodo loses a finger, Boromir catches several arrows in his chest, Aragorn spends the whole trilogy bloody, bruised and scraped. Practically all of the cast is harassed by either the Watcher in the Water or a Cave troll. And all pretty boy Legolas gets over the course of is a bruise and a little smudge of dirt. And Eowyn made it through almost the entire Battle of the Pellenor Fields unscathed, with never a cut or a bruise until the Witch-King smashes her shield with his gigantic mace
    • Even Arwen gets a cut across her cheek when she's running from the Nazgul.
  • Jumanji has Peter getting turned into a monkey and Alan getting all dirty but despite being involved in the same actions, Sarah and Judy don't look that bad. Judy does get shot in the neck with a barb from a poisonous plant but the wound isn't shown on camera much.
  • Sci-Fi horror movies, such as Yeti. Members of both genders survive a horrific plane crash and a battle with a crazy ass monster trying to off them all. Perfect hair.
  • In Gangs of New York (2002), the only punishment inflicted on Amsterdam Vallon (played by pretty-boy actor Leonardo DiCaprio) for his attempted assassination of Bill "The Butcher" is a mild scar on his cheek. This is from a man who cut out his own eye for flinching!
    • When they get to the final battle, this is completely thrown out the window. After one explosion, he's covered in dust, and his hair gets blown out of its pretty little bun, for God's sake. Not to mention that when he kills Bill, he gets blood all over himself. There's also the limp he receives from Bill after being slashed across the back of the knee. It didn't look like it was going to clear up.
    • Jenny Everdeanne. She has scars, but placed where almost no one can see them.
  • In Spider-Man 2 Rosie still looks pretty good for someone who was killed by a hundred shards of flying glass, including at least one to the face/eye.
  • Transformers doesn't go too overboard on this with Megan Fox, but it is really glaring in reference to the robots. The Product Placement for GM vehicles apparently mandates that all of the Autobots' car modes must be sparkling clean at all times.
    • Revenge of the Fallen plays this trope noticeably straight. Megan Fox looks as though her (rather overdone) makeup was being touched up every thirty seconds. This is particularly jarring in the final battle, when every other (human) character is covered in filth and blood, Fox still looks perfectly clean and her make up is totally untouched after both her and the main lead get poorly teleported to the other side of the world, run several miles through the hot desert, have several explosions happen basically on top of them, and get thrown into the sand. The main lead is bleeding, grimy, and filthy while she just has her hair a bit rumpled.
    • And then in the third, after being thrown through a building, running through an apocalyptic battleground, the lead and the soldiers with them are suitably beaten up, her hair and white jacket aren't even ruffled.
  • Spoofed in Last Action Hero, where all Jack Slater needs to clean up after emerging from a tar pit is a few seconds with a towel.
  • In the film of V for Vendetta, Evie's appearance doesn't suffer at all after a prolonged period of imprisonment and torture. It can even be argued that having her hair shaved down to stubble just makes her look even more doe-eyed and delicate. This is in stark contrast to the comic, where she looks like a mummy afterwards.
  • In Book of Eli the world has become a complete wasteland with very limited resources but, hey Mila Kunis looks nice. This is justified in that her and her mother were being pampered by the Big Bad, receiving rare bottles of shampoo and perfume.
  • In Sin City, there is a scene where Dwight (Clive Owen) and Miho (Devon Aoki) both plunge into a tar pit, coating themselves entirely in black tar. Miho is naked when she jumps into the tar, although it's hard to tell (the comic is more explicit in this detail) but she should at least have tar stuck to her skin. Dwight is similarly clean and he actually fell into the tar while fully clothed. Miho also had blood splashed all over her face in an earlier scene, which also got cleaned up inexplicably very quickly. Oh and the men get bruised up and battered a lot, showing scars, cuts, and blood all over in this movie. Some women do die, but it is normally clean gunshot and there is not near as much dirt on them.
  • While the Bride suffers plenty of beat downs in Kill Bill and is frequently seen bloodied and bruised, none of her injuries or ordeals leave any lasting visible damage or scars.
    • Sofie Fatale on the other hand ...
  • Dragon Wars has the heroes' car blasted by a dragon's fireball, flip a few times in the air and skid along the ground, only to have the woman emerge (white sweater included) completely unscathed. Of course, there was a little bit of black soot on her face.
  • In The Legend of Zorro, Catherine Zeta-Jones runs across a dirt field at full speed, fights with a shovel, runs back across the same field at full speed, falls in the dirt at least once, and when she gets back to her room her white nightgown is spotless and she doesn't have a hair out of place.
  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones: When the Nexu slashes Padme's back it reveals her midriff but there's no scratch marks or blood, than again (excluding the cantina scene from episode IV) there's never any blood in Star Wars.
  • The trope is in full force in Predators. All the male characters are filthy and battle damaged by the end of the film (or at least, the end of their participation in it). The lone female? Barely covered in a light, even film of dirt, not any hint of actual damage. The one bit of damage she's seen to take is suitably out of the way that it doesn't have to get filmed in subsequent shots.
  • Averted by Yanin 'Jeeja' Vismistananda in the Muay Thai movies Chocolate and Raging Phoenix. Not only do her characters get just as beaten up as the guys on the cast, but the actress does as well; many of the injuries shown in the movie are legit ones suffered during filming. She's still hot as hell, mind.
  • In Streets of Fire, McCoy and Ellen Aim aren't hurt at all by the gang, while the men get the snot beat out of them.
  • Heroic Trio, a Hong Kong movie featuring three beautiful superheroines, lampshades this at one point. The characters narrowly avoid getting blown up. One of the characters turns to the other and quickly asks, "Am I still pretty?". At most, they get bloodied mouths and dirt smeared on their faces, so the answer is yes.
  • In the remake of Clash of the Titans Io constantly looks as though she's just come from a spa while the male characters look increasingly grimy. This, combined with her habit of just showing up without provisions even though she's following the same route as the others gives the impression that her curse isn't immortality but the ability to teleport, and she's just porting in from Argos whenever she's needed.
  • In The Eye, Jessica Alba's character is twice blinded by explosions, the first from a firecracker and the second from an exploding tanker sending windshield glass into her eye. Despite getting a face full of high-speed glass, at the end she has perfect skin.
  • Averted in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Elizabeth gets very ugly when she is resurrected.
  • Played painfully straight in the third X-Men movie. Halle Berry's Storm gets into some pretty rough fights scenes with Callisto, but never comes away with anything worse than tussled hair.
  • Faux-averted in Doomsday, where the female lead only had one eye. But she had a robot eye as well, and it was so lifelike it appears as though she's 100% unmaimed. This was used as the Cool James Bond Device for the first fifteen minutes of the movie and then forgotten until the end.
  • In Versus, every single character with the exception of the female lead ends up literally coated in blood; and the male lead is implied to lose an eye (although it could be just stuck shut). More than that, her white shirt isn't stained in the least.
  • In the 1958 film version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor) goes out to the pouring rain and gets her hair soaking wet, but the next time we see her, it's perfectly dry and styled.
  • Slightly subverted in the climactic shoot-out in Duel in the Sun: although Pearl's face is untouched, her clothes and especially her hands are realistically torn and bloody after she crawls up a mountain on her hands and knees—possibly because actress Jennifer Jones really did injure herself in the process.
  • Even though comic superheroes rarely receive scars, their movie counterparts are not so lucky. In Daredevil, Matt Murdock has many scars all over his body and spits out a tooth at one point, although his face is left untouched. In the Dark Knight Trilogy, Bruce also has several scars along his back but again, his face is okay.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian gives us a Rare Male Example when the eponymous character hits his face on a tree branch in the opening escape sequence and gets up looking as handsome as ever with nary a scratch on him.
  • In Alice in Wonderland, Alice falls down a rabbit hole, gets shrunk, enlarged and stuffed in a teapot, then fights the Jabberwocky...all without a curl of hair getting out of place. She gets a scratch on her arm, but that's it.
  • In the film version of The Avengers, all of the male heroes go through the movie in various states of bodily damage, exhaustion, and fatigue. Black Widow, however, never gets visibly winded and other than small scuffing on her forehead her makeup stays intact through the entire film. Take in mind that this character is introduced in the film being tortured by Russian terrorists and later spends a significant amount of time fighting the Hulk and having a building fall on her.
  • A deliberate aversion happens in Snow White and the Huntsman. The two titular characters come across a village inhabited only by women, all of whom intentionally scarred their own faces so they would be considered ugly in the eyes of Queen Ravenna, sparing them from being sacrificed to her life-stealing magic.
  • Played straight for the first half of Snow White: A Tale of Terror. Lilli is involved in a cave-in underground and is seen with dirt all over her after they get out, but is perfectly clean the next time we see her. It's implied she washes herself in the stream. Then at the end Claudia cuts her face with a pane of glass.


  • Honor Harrington is an exception in some ways: she's lost an eye and an arm, and had her facial nerves on one side paralyzed. In others, not so much; despite mentions that the replacement facial nerves don't synch perfectly with the other side of her face, the prosthetics she uses to replace her missing parts are both cosmetically perfect and far more versatile than her original parts, and none of the problems detract from her great beauty, personal charisma, or ridiculous willpower.
  • While Rachel of Animorphs fame tends to get beaten up as badly as (if not worse than) the rest of the Animorphs crew in battle, everyone describes her as being the type of girl who could walk through a hurricane and still have perfect hair.
    • On a similar note, Cassie is the only character described as being able to make the sometimes horrific-looking process of morphing look beautiful and elegant.
    • The Animorphs fight in animal forms, and the morphing process gets rid of injuries (sort of like a DNA-based factory reset... loosely speaking, since it can include clothes and covers changeable features like hairstyle). It really only counts if they get into a fight while human, and returning to human form doesn't always remove clotted blood. A What If future revolves around Tom noticing Jake's...disheveled appearance and blowing his cover.
  • Averted twice with Suzie Shooter of the Nightside novels, who gets smacked on the cheek with a spiked mace in Paths Not Taken. Half her face is destroyed, but the residue of werewolf blood still in her body from an earlier novel seems to be healing her ... until it runs out of power, leaving her face one-eyed and distorted by scar tissue. Later, John offers to find the means to restore her looks, but she tells him not to bother: as a bounty hunter, she's pleased with how the scars amp up her power to intimidate.
  • In the first book of the Inheritance Cycle, there's Arya after she's been rescued; as Eragon notes while ogling her unconcious body, a month of torture and imprisonment in a dirty dungeon apparently wasn't enough to dimish her constantly-reiterated hotness.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "A Witch is Born" Tamaris

Taramis was still beautiful, in spite of her rags and the imprisonment and abuse of seven weary months.

  • Averted in the Star Wars Expanded Universe with several female Jedi: Tenel Ka loses an arm when she makes a faulty lightsaber, Tahiri Veila receives permanent facial scarring after some Yhuuzan Vong Shapers experiment on her, and Alema Rar (who at one point prided herself excessively on appearance) loses a lekku, most of her foot, and all use of one arm.
  • Averted with Princess Sisi from the Wind on Fire trilogy, who is brutally scarred forever by Zohon for refusing to marry him. He draws his blade down one of her cheeks and then the other when she turns it to him in defiance. This is the girl who was deemed to be so beautiful she was kept veiled at all times.

Live-Action TV

  • Birds of Prey Hand Waves this with makeup that works really well to cover up battle scars.
    • Justified in-universe, in that (a) anyone with a secret identity needs to cover up scars they couldn't have gotten in their civilian persona, and (b) with the kind of money and technology that lies beyond a lot of DC heroes, it wouldn't be too hard to come up with makeup that good.
  • Heroes played straight for Nikki. The woman gets caught in a burning building that explodes. Yet at her funeral, she gets an open casket and doesn't have any burn marks at all.
    • Claire's beauty is literally incapable of being tarnished. At least, not permanently. It's been said that Claire is this show's Mr. Bill.
    • When exposed to nuclear radiation her flesh is burned to the point that her skeleton is shown. And yet her hair remained intact.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. Despite the Doctor saying otherwise, Captain Janeway suffered some remarkably mild-looking fire injuries in the episode "Year of Hell" (even her famous red hair is intact). Ironic given the Reset Button conclusion (which meant that the producers didn't have to worry about long term effects) and that Voyager itself is completely trashed. Incidentally, Seven of Nine's famous catsuit was justified as a dermaplastic material to cover and heal the injuries from her Borgification. Must have taken her skin a long time to heal, as she never stopped wearing it.
  • In the commentary tracks on the season 4 DVDs of Lost, Evangeline Lilly (Kate) laments that her character never gets to look beat up, no matter what damage she appears to take.
  • In the UK science show Brainiac, there are male and female test subjects (called 'Brainiacs') who are subject to experiments. You will find that for all of the experiments that subject a person to pain (such as electric shock), getting dirty, urinating, or just behaving in an uncivilized manner, female Brainiacs are never chosen. They usually take on the administrative roles and assess the males who perform these kinds of experiments.
    • The female Brainiacs are used in the "Can You Do Your Job While Being Electrocuted?" stunt.
  • Surprisingly, several Disney Channel and Nickelodeon shows aimed at young girls avert this by placing several of the female characters including the protagonists in slapstick situations here are a few examples, it might be expectable because they are the same age as the target demographic
  • Noticeable to some extent in the later seasons of Survivor. While both men and women show many of the expected effects of primitive living for a month, the men almost always have visible stubble and clearly grungy hair, while the women almost never have leg stubble and their hair often seems much cleaner.
  • Supernatural is a Rare Male Example. The two pretty boy leads, Sam and Dean, might get beaten up regularly but it's rare to see the effects last even until the end of the episode. Dean even says at one point that coming Back from the Dead erased all his old scars and sorted out his broken fingers. Uh, we've seen your hands, sweetie, they had a lovely manicure.
    • There's also a Season 3 episode where a young woman who has been in a coma since the age of eight appears to have spent the entire time lying peacefully in her hospital bed, with perfect hair and a full face of makeup.
  • Actually a plot point in The Twilight Zone (2002 series) episode "Eye of the Beholder".
  • The classic Polish series Czterej pancerni i pies had a precise rule about this. All the male characters would get dirty and greasy but all the female characters would always be shown with no dirt and clean clothes even though they were supposedly experiencing the same wartime conditions as the men. This was done very deliberately to soften the impact of a World War II series on a viewing public that lived through the war.
  • Lampshaded on Breaking In, when, after being caught in a very strong security system, all of the male members of the team sustained bruises or some other sort of minor injury (including one getting his eyebrows burned off), and Melanie does not. She gets called out on it, with people wondering why she doesn't seem to have a scratch on her.
  • Averted in Boardwalk Empire. Richard Harrow was once a very handsome man until a war injury destroyed much of the skin around his mouth and taking out an eye. Pearl, the stripper, also has an extremely nasty scar across her face from a knife attack and Chalky has a very noticeable facial scar.
  • Occasionally averted in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". Although Buffy usually looks styled and done up with perfect hair while slaying vampires, there have been times when Buffy has looked bruised and battered. Most notable is a large cut and bruise spanning much of her forehead that lasted several episodes in Season 4.
  • Played with on Chuck. Sarah frequently gets into fights with that episode's bad guy or mooks. Usually she comes off without a scratch despite often taking several good hits. Other times she's had bruises and split lips. Some notorious fights (the high school reunion and car fights in Season 2 and Season 4's catwalk fight) ended with her face rather battered and bloody. Nonetheless, by the next episode her face is back in perfect condition (one wonders how no one ever seems to notice). Chuck himself has been in several fights from Season 3 forward, but never shows a sign of having been hit. Casey has sustained several visible injuries over the course of the series, but they seldom carry over into subsequent episodes. Most notoriously, after being shot in the leg in Season Three and needing emergency surgery performed, in the episode set the very next day he shows no sign that he was ever wounded (the same situation was averted in Season 4, where he was wheelchair-bound the episode after being shot in the leg again).
  • Despite the setting being After The End and humans living with no water and electricity, the whole cast of Revolution has impeccable hygiene; hair neatly cut, clothes clean, and the men seemingly have a way to shave. Naturally, the reason is never addressed.
  • While Sam Carter of Stargate SG-1 does get plenty beaten and bruised over the course of the show ("Death Knell" is a particularly brutal example), but the creators of the show do invoke this trope in the commentary of "Off the Grid" when the camera pans across SG-1 revealing three severely bruised and bleeding guys...and one beautiful blond woman (though she did have a bit of a bruise on her face at the time.)
  • In War and Remembrance Natalie looks beautiful as a prisoner at Auschwitz-oh heck-especially as a prisoner at Auschwitz. Of course she does. She's Jane Seymour.
  • Every Cooking Show ever, especially modern ones. Try watching one with an attractive female host, and even if she wears an apron you'll note it never becomes soiled or stained, no matter what the entree is or how involved its preparation.

Professional Wrestling

  • Wade Barrett (a handsome dude in his own right), no matter the abuse he suffers, his hair will always remain in perfect condition.
  • In WWE the act of blading (cutting yourself during a match to bleed) is now banned so none of the wrestlers will show any disfiguring injuries to their face.
  • In general the WWE Divas tend to remain perfectly clean with styled hair and no visible injuries though there have been a lot of aversions. Trish Stratus and Victoria had a fairly physical feud involving a lot of hardcore matches where both of them bled quite a bit. Lita also got accidentally cut above the eye during a match and bled really heavily - she and her opponent were praised for it. Kelly Kelly also gave Beth Phoenix a bloody nose once. Melina Perez claims to have gotten a bloody lip in a match with Michelle McCool but it didn't show up on camera.
  • Roxxi in TNA is probably the ultimate aversion. Her gimmick was the "Hardcore Knockout" and she bled a lot.
  • Played with in TNA when they had a women's First Blood match but at the end there was only a small trickle of blood.

Tabletop Games


  • In every production and adaptation of Annie the main character and her friends look remarkably healthy and well-fed for residents of an orphanage in Depression-era America. Especially considering the heavy implication that the director was neglectful and abusive; even kids in a respectable place would likely have been somewhat undernourished.

Video Games

  • Chun-Li's defeat portrait in Street Fighter 2 is pretty tame compared to the other character's portraits.
    • In Street Fighter 4, several of the Ultra Combo cutscenes cause cartoonishly exaggerated reactions to getting hit, but only to the male characters.
  • All of the male characters in Samurai Shodown 3 can be bloodily cut in pieces even the cute kid. But all of the female characters are immune.
  • While Metal Slug generally averts this, the third game has a rather blatant example with the death animation when the player character gets hit by a acidic slime. The male characters are Stripped to the Bone and the female characters suffer clothing damage.
  • Mass Effect: The PC is customizable, and one can give their character scars for either gender. However, males can get real disfiguring scars, but women are limited to small scratches.
    • In the sequel, both genders get a set of scars that become more prominent the higher Shepard's Renegade stat gets.
      • Your opinion may vary, but the effects of going Renegade are much more disfiguring on a male Shepard.
    • Completely averted with Cerberus troops in Mass Effect 3: The Always Female Phantoms and Nemeses enemies are capable of dying just as messily as the other Cerberus units that wear Feature Concealing armor, though it helps that all of them are Faceless Goons.
    • Strangely, in the first game the default female design had a more noticeable scar than the male design, including an additional one near her lip. Both of these are gone in the second game, while the default male scar remains.
  • Present and averted in Dragon Age; male party members get covered in ridiculous amounts of blood spatters, but Leliana, Morrigan, and Wynne come away perfectly clean, however the Warden gets pretty messy regardless of gender. Justified in that this has more to do with combat class than gender, every close-combat fighter gets sprinkled with blood, while all the female companions are archers or mages.
  • A more extreme example is in the web game NANACA†CRASH!!, all the male characters take heavy abuse in the game, while all of the females remain untouched and instead heap abuse on the male characters. Not surprising considering its based off an H-game.
  • Seen somewhat in Knights of the Old Republic, near the end of the game, when Bastila goes over to the Dark Side. For everyone else, including your character, the result of drastic drops into the Dark Side is progressive disfigurement. Bastila remains as good looking as ever.
  • Yo-Jin-Bo allows main characters of both genders to avoid so much as a scratch in art. Despite running from ninjas through a forest, Sayori doesn't ever rip her kimono or get sweaty or anything. In fact, after the hot spring, Jin even comments on how lovely girls smell after they get out of the bath...despite the fact that her clothes were not washed and thus should stink. She does break a sandal strap once, but that's only so Bo could carry her. And even when the guys are said to be injured in text, it only rarely shows up as bloodspatter in the art.
  • Played straight in the Def Jam Series, where the women can engage in no holds barred brawls just as brutal as any of the male characters, and yet, not a speck of blood or a bloodied nose results from it.
  • Tomb Raider: Lara Croft can die in fashions most people would see in a Mature rated game, but the worst that comes out of it is blood loss, if any. Starting to be averted with the 2011 reboot, in which the game's trailers have shown Lara getting progressively messier and more injured as the games' plot progresses.
  • Dead Space 2. Ellie's eye gets poked out by Stross. You don't actually see this, but you do later see Stross standing there with an eyeball on the end of his screwdriver. Ellie is still alive and very much kicking ("You owe me an eye you bastard!"). Normally, this would be bad enough to cause a very specific (look in description) aversion, but later on you as the player are asked to guide a needle into Isaac's eye. If you miss and fail, instead of carefully going into his eyeball (disturbing enough in and of itself), the entire needle and the machine behind it gets jammed into his eye and sprays blood everywhere, in full and close up view of the player.
  • Final Fantasy VII nothing can so much as smudge Tifa or Aerith's makeup or muss their hair, not battles with Killer Robots, ugly toad monsters, or slimy fish monsters. Same goes for Cloud's boyish good looks, not a single blemish after the most brutal of fights. Even more apparent in the remakes.
  • Pokémon:
    • If you play a female protagonist, her hair and clothes never get so much as a smudge no matter where she goes; forests, sandstorm-filled deserts, ash-strewn volcanic mountains, or even muddy swamps where she might find a Battle in the Rain. Though this applies to the male protagonists too, who admittedly have a less crazy Anime Hair.
    • This is taken Up to Eleven starting in Pokémon X and Y and onward, where you can accessorize and buy very expensive and stylish clothing in some stores; you'd think one would be insane to wear them in a mud-strewn swamp like Route 16, but you can do so without ruining them and come out fresh as daisies.

Web Original

  • The Nostalgia Critic is a Rare Male Example Played for Laughs. No matter how many beatings, suicides or shots to the head, a few seconds later he'll be clean and pretty again.
  • Sailor Nothing is arguably an exception: Himei pulls her top up to show Aki her scars and her battles with Yamiko leave her with injuries, as well as messing up her uniform.

Western Animation

  • In Futurama, Amy is treated the same as the other characters. However, the DVD commentary of the You Mean "Xmas" Episode, it is said that this was done deliberately to test whether people would laugh at a woman being hurt in amusing ways.
  • Kim Possible, and everyone else, never look affected by the action for more than a few moments. Even after she fights Shego in a mudbath, the mud is gone a few seconds later. Dr. Drakken manages to burn his hair off with a few experiments, but that quickly comes back too. Probably the only exception is the occasional Glamour Failure from a defeated villain.
  • Averted in the second episode of Scooby Doo Mystery Inc. Daphne discovers that the Alligator Skin products are imitation by wrapping a belt around her forearm, causing her "allergy of all synthetic animal skins" to kick in, leaving her with very nasty red pustules along her arm. Granted, she covers them with her sleeve, but we're still given a very good long look at them.
  • My Little Pony and Friends episode "The Glass Princess" sees three of the ponies get shaved bald. It grows back instantly, with a Hand Wave about it being magical.
    • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Rarity cuts off her own tail at one point, reassuring the others that it will grow back. It gets restored by the end of that episode via a different Hand Wave, when Rarity gains the reawakened Element of Harmony, Generosity.
  • A shared trait of the Badass Princess heroines in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. There's even one episode where Mermista infiltrates the Fright Zone by swimming through a sewer pipe (something she did not want to do) and still comes out looking springtime fresh.
  • Zigzagged in DC Super Hero Girls; the eponymous team tends to be bruised, battered, and otherwise visibly hurt a lot, but these wounds rarely last longer than whatever scene where they got them.

Examples and exceptions of the second (gross-out oriented) kind


Anime and Manga

  • Averted in Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. Panty gets covered from head to toe in poop in the very first episode.
  • Averted in Chrono Crusade. Satella and Azmaria are forced to search through a sewer and emerge... not very clean.
  • In the first scene of the Black★Rock Shooter OVA, Black★Rock Shooter gets impaled by Black★Gold Saw. She keeps the scar. This counts as an aversion because this is the only time in the OVA that someone gets hit with a weapon that could cause such an injury.

Comic Books

  • The Belgian comic Violine has all manner of terrible things happen to everyone, including 10-year-old protagonist Violine. She gets muddy, she gets cut and bleeds, and she even pukes (visibly, not just a "behind the character" view). It's a rather darkly humorous adventure.


  • Lawn Dogs. Devon burps on purpose in response to Trent's burping, and also shows off her large nasty chest scar from surgery. In fact, she's quite a morbid kid overall.
  • Though it doesn't occur in the movie proper, after the end credits of A Knight's Tale, the supporting protagonists are shown engaging in a flatulence contest—which the woman wins. Of course, Kate's a blacksmith and not your traditional woman by any stretch of the imagination.
  • The exceedingly raunchy and disgusting game of "Battleshits" in Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle Although the two ladies were physically very hot, their little game ruined the appeal immensely.
  • You barely need to watch Bridesmaids for twenty minutes before you get a faceful of this trope being averted hardcore.


Live-Action TV

  • Maid Marian and Her Merry Men is a very good example. The show featured a considerable amount of slapstick (mostly mess), though almost no actual violence, but Maid Marian herself is practically never a victim, even when all of the rest of her band are. Admittedly Rose once got paint poured over her, but then Rose is a villain. (The trope seems to apply slightly less strongly to female villains.)
  • German kids' series Die Pfefferkorner, which centers around a group of kid detectives, tends to treat their interrogated captives differently by gender. Boys are tied up and subjected to silly tortures, like being tickled, forced to smell old socks, or strapped to a rotating wheel. Girls, on the other hand, are just tied up and left alone.
  • Body odour and/or halitosis in general seems to be something of an exception as it makes a point without detracting from the actresses' physical beauty. Carla from Scrubs was told off in one episode for her bad breath after her regular hummus breaks, while over on The OC Summer Roberts became a student activist, and gave up bathing for a while. She didn't look dirty, but the other characters certainly commented on the smell. Also she stopped shaving her legs, but, slightly conveniently, we didn't see the results.
    • Likewise, Kimmy from Full House is said to have feet that smell, which is played up for humor. But since we can only see and not smell Kimmy, we have to take their word for it, since she is not ugly or anything.
    • Lily Truscott from Hannah Montana is also said to have smelly feet, by Hannah/Miley herself.
  • The show Rad Girls. Ever wanted to see Jackass with a female cast? They do some really nasty stuff, like the "pissing, shitting and puking contest" in the back of a moving van.

Video Games

  • Mortal Kombat brutally averts this trope, as the female fighters can explode into tiny bits, bleed pints from the simplest punch to the face, and lose limbs just as easily as a male fighter can.
    • Played straight, however, in Story Mode of some of the more recent installments, where characters cannot die or suffer injury unless the plot specifically requires it. No matter how much abuse the character go through in Story Mode fights, they usually emerge no worse for wear. Cutscenes, on the other hand, not so much.
  • The Metroid series plays this straight most of the time, considering all the abuse Samus goes through, heck, Fusion, Super, and Zero Mission use their game over screens as Fetish Fuel! It's gruesomely averted in Metroid Prime 3 however. You can see Samus's face deteriorate over time due to Phazon poisoning, and at one point she vomits up Phazon.

Web Comics

  • Averted in Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire, in which Dejah's "Slime Geyser" teleport magic has the side effect of always leaving one person in the transported party covered in slime. That person is always Luna. It's been explained as Dejah disliking Luna due to her foot-in-mouth syndrome.
  • In an The Order of the Stick strip, Haley and Celia both get puked on. Celia even had her mouth open a little bit...
  • Avoided with regards to Jodie in Loserz. One comic depicts Ben's mother saying how nice it is to have Jodie as a female influence. Cut to a shot of the two boys recoiling in disgust from Jodie, who's just farted. The boys complain loudly, and Jodie derides them as weak and unmanly.

Ben: Yeah, she's a delicate flower.

  • Last Res0rt avoids this trope and heaps on the gore pretty even-handedly, lady-players included. So far, Addy's been shot at least once through the chest, Daisy's playing on an amputated leg, Jigsaw hulks out into her zombie-esque Super-Powered Evil Side roughly once an episode (after being shot and getting cut up a bit), Cypress dove head-first into a pool of rapidly-dissolving nanotech compared to stomach acid... and then, well... this. The boys get beat up too, but there's only so many of them...

Western Animation

  • An example is used in the first episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender, it's particularly blatant when Appa sneezes toward Sokka and Katara and almost magically only one winds up covered in green goo. Guess which.
    • Of course, when Toph joined the cast, that ceased to be an issue - within two episodes she made a joke about having hairy armpits, and there was another gag about her picking her toes. She proceeds to spend most of the series cheerfully coated in filth.
  • In Teen Titans, the first appearance of Terra depicts her as being extremely dirty, when we see her emerging from the shower and leaving a bathtub full of dirt and grime. Of course, we never actually see her covered in this dirt and grime before the shower, so again, we have to take their word for it.
  • South Park: