Hollywood Homely

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
I can think of at least one thing wrong with that title.


Producer: What were you thinking?
Casting: Well, you said you wanted gritty. In other words, ugly.

Producer: I wanted Mary Ann on Gilligans Island ugly, not Cornelius on Planet of the Apes ugly. TV-ugly, not ... ugly-ugly.
The Simpsons, "Pygmoelian"

Dramatic situations sometimes require a character (usually female) who is unappealing, unattractive, and has a hard time finding dates. However, unattractive or even average-looking women are often dissuaded from even trying to get acting jobs in Hollywood, so the person cast in the role ends up being more gorgeous than anybody you'll ever meet in real life. Likewise, producers know that "beauty is money," and so they're disinclined to cast genuinely unattractive people even as villains or extras, but would rather simply imply homeliness to the character via character-reactions—regardless of the irony presented in attributing such to the fairly good-looking person playing the role.

She'll also be much thinner, since women of average build are considered to be lumbering oxen by most Hollywood producers even if they're as fit as an Olympian. They make her "plain" by giving her some or all of the following: thick glasses, braces, freckles, unfashionable clothes, an unflattering hairstyle, and an even-better-looking sibling or friend. A more subtle method involves giving the actress clothes that clash with her natural skin color, making her look pale or blotchy—a method also often used in "before-and-after" shots for diet-pill commercials. Bad lighting can help.

Generic Cuteness is the animated equivalent of this trope, and the result is a very Informed Deformity. Naturally, this all leads to Unfortunate Implications.

Adaptational Attractiveness is when this trope is applied to characters who were plain, unattractive, old, etc. in the source material a show is based on. Beauty Inversion is the use of makeup or prosthetics to successfully avert this trope. Attempts to avert this may result in an Unnecessary Makeover.

Compare Beautiful All Along, Cool Loser, Hollywood Dateless, Hollywood Nerd, Hollywood Pudgy. Contrast Informed Attractiveness and Gorgeous Gorgon. Please keep in mind that this trope only applies if the character is actively stated to be or treated as unattractive. A handsome actor playing a geek doesn't count if nobody on the show has a problem with his looks. Similarly, a good-looking actor who is actually made less attractive is an aversion of this trope.

Examples of Hollywood Homely include:


Advertising[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Microsoft. Sent up in the Windows 7 "My Idea" series of ads. When the normal people in question flashback to having their idea, they're always portrayed by someone several times prettier than them by Hollywood standards, while an angelic chorus plays in the background. Such as this one, where a fairly pretty woman is portrayed by an absolute stunner.
  • Teleflora. The theme in their 2010 Super Bowl commercial is supposed to be "Hot but bitchy girl gets the bad flowers; frumpy but hard-working girl gets the good flowers." Apparently, "frumpy" now means "not willing to wear short skirts and go-go boots to work".
  • In its early days, the Disney Channel used to run a PSA that was all over this trope. A very attractive teenager is sitting in front of a poster of a pop star, lamenting how plain and unattractive she is. The pop star springs to life from the poster and tells the girl that she shouldn't worry, because it's all Hollywood magic. The pop star is then magically stripped of all the makeup, fancy clothes, etc, and reduced to being... really attractive. And the teenager is reassured. About something.

Anime and manga[edit | hide]

  • Ganju Shiba is a male example from Bleach. In a world where most of the young male characters are Bishonen, Ganju is considered a Gonk. The real world does not always work that way.
  • Elfen Lied When Mayu is introduced, in both manga and anime, she is derided/described as looking every inch the homeless child she has been for perhaps several weeks at that point. Problem is, virtually nothing about her physical appearance suggests this. Even a week's time would have her looking a lot worse than she comes across as.
  • Genshiken Ohno is called an "Ordinary person who is cute" and that Saki is "like a model", but Ohno is just as attractive as Saki is.
  • Godchild In the Scold's Bridle story arc, Drew is supposedly so plain that other upper-class girls won't give her the time of day - something which the mangaka illustrates by giving her quite good-looking round glasses, freckles and a braid. (She also seems to have real curves compared to the waifish characters) The art style may be partly at fault, but the fact remains that she looks no less pretty than any other girl in the manga. In the same story arc, Viola wears a mask because she is disfigured, but when she takes it off it turns out that her face is perfectly fine apart from a finger-sized acid burn on one cheek. Justified in that she is completely insane and is probably exaggerating the extent of her scarring.
  • Gokusen Quite a few characters like to point out how "plain" the protagonist is. This also comes into play in the drama, however, here she is played by Yukie Nakama
  • The Princess of the Diamond´s Country in Sailor Moon. In both versions (manga and anime), the princess suffer short-sightedness. Her glasses create in her a manga-version of Velma in Scooby Doo, until she drops her glasses. In the manga version, Amy and Rei discuss the true aspect of Umino (Melvin) if he take off his glasses.
  • Howls Moving Castle: Sophie is considered plain compared to her sister. That said, her sister seems to be a garish parody plastered with makeup, while Sophie's features are more normal. In the book, mind, Sophie's moderately attractive and aware of it, but has different reasons for being a shut-in; as the oldest of three sisters, she's doomed to fail first and hardest at any task.
    • Of course, the movie also shows that Lettie is very sociable while Sophie is very reserved, which might explain a bit of it. The soldiers at the beginning of the movie and Howl himself seem to find Sophie quite attractive. Given the nature of the curse, there's also the implication that a lot of Sophie's "homeliness" are self esteem issues on her part.
    • In the movie it's never quite explained why Sophie can change her age at will, but in the book it is stated that, as soon as Hollow saw her, he took away the curse; yet she unconsciously used her own powers to remain an old crone as a means to stay in the comfort zone that "ugly-ness" gave her.
  • In Inuyasha, Kagome is stated several times to be "average" in looks and appearance (by Inuyasha). However, it is noted (even the anime characters state it), that she looks almost exactly like Kikyo, her previous incarnation, who is stated to be quite beautiful.
    • Honestly, it's a Takahashi anime, no-one is ugly.
    • And Inuyasha is just being a Jerkass with a Heart of Gold.
    • Inuyasha recognizes Kagome by smell, not sight. He probably finds the scent of things like body wash and shampoo strange and off-putting.
  • Monster Lotte, who is no uglier than Eva or Nina, is apparently deemed so unattractive that guys will dance with her on a dare only.
  • Akane Tendo, at least if her erstwhile fiance Ranma ½ is to be believed, especially when she's going Tsundere all over his hide. Everyone else seems to think Akane's actually pretty cute. Of course Ranma's opinion may be a bit biased due to the Can't Stand Them Can't Live Without Them nature of their relationship.
  • Tehanu a novel by Ursula K. Le Guin. Young girl Therru is so disfigured by third-degree burns that people avoid looking at her. In the anime adaptation Tales from Earthsea, she's a sweet young girl who appears to suffer from a bad sunburn.
  • Yotsuba&! Fuuka is often compared unfavorably to her older sister Asagi, with Yotsuba referring to her at least once as "the not-pretty sister". Fans tend to disagree with this assessment.
  • In Absolute Boyfriend, Riiko is often described as either ugly or not as pretty as her best friend Mika. This, of course, was the point, since Mika went a long way to ruin Riiko's self confidence, by calling her those names and seducing every guy Riiko liked. The manga itself never seemed to find Riiko ever unattractive, just...not very busty.
  • While not "beautiful" or "handsome", Makoto from Wandering Son is at least cute. He finds himself unattractive due to his Youthful Freckles and Nerd Glasses. He's chubbier then the other characters, or at least more full and round, but he looks just fine. Justified since its his opinion, and at least one other character has gone out of their way to tell him he's cute; Mako doesn't seem to have good self-esteem. Seya once thought he made an ugly girl, though he comes off as a Wholesome Crossdresser to a lot of fans.
  • Uozumi and Akagi of Slam Dunk who are described as "gorillas". While they sure as heck aren't Bishonen, a chiseled jaw, full lips, and defined cheek bones are hardly hideous flaws, and that's not including the fact that they're both extremely built.
  • Yuri from the Kodansha-winning shoujo manga, Bara no Tame ni, who is constantly referred to as fat and ugly despite looking only slightly pudgy and having the same "pretty girl" face as the supposedly more attractive girls in the story. The Taiwanese drama based off of this is even more egregious, as she's played by girl group member and actress Ella Chen.
  • Ukraine and Belgium from Axis Powers Hetalia, while not ugly, are supposed to be plain or uninteresting (Belgium by her own admission and Ukraine according to Russia). The art (and fandom) disagrees.
  • Shouma of Mawaru Penguindrum is said to be merely plain-looking but if you look at his design he's actually quite Bishonen.


Comics[edit | hide]

  • Ms. Marvel A current running joke in the books is that she's fat. It eventually gave birth to one of the biggest out of character moments in the history of Marvel Comics.
  • Sandman Depending on the Artist, several of the female characters either avert or play this straight. Particularly notable is Nuala's true form with the glamor spell that made her look like a blonde princess removed, who looks genuinely scraggly and rather underfed, though subsequent artists usually make her more cute and childlike. The interesting thing is that despite this, she actually comes to prefer her true form (probably because Dream prefers it, and it's implied she's in love with him). Thessaly usually looks genuinely plain, as even without her Nerd Glasses she has a very odd-shaped face. Then there's Despair. Thessaly's spin-off comics, however, make her look rather adorable.
  • The Sentry's wife, Lindy Reynolds, in Marvel Comics, is apparently supposed to be frumpy and unattractive, yet is never drawn any less gorgeous than the superheroines, most of whom have been acknowledged repeatedly as being hot. You could probably take this with a grain of salt, since the only person to call her that to her face is the Ax Crazy Psycho for Hire Bullseye, but it's been pointed out in narration before as well.
  • X-Men The short-time member Marrow had the mutant power to grow bones out of her body which became knives, little spikes or armor (inspired by piercings no less), resulting in calling herself ugly all the time. Despite some body horror implication, most of the time Marrow's bones were merely a cosmetic detail. Most artist drew Marrow as having a well trained body, noticeable bust and a cute if not sexy looking face. Did we mention that she had bright pink hair?
    • There's a specific reason for this. In her original appearances as a Morlock terrorist and her initial Heel Face Turn, she was quite ugly (to varying degrees Depending on the Artist). During an adventure on an alien planet, however, Marrow was wounded and placed in a regeneration chamber, which also smoothed her facial features. Despite her newfound beauty, she was still self-conscious about her appearance due to having a visible mutation, since her bones were still sticking out.
  • Wanted In the graphic novel, Wesley Gibson's girlfriend is repeatedly described as fat, and implied to be fairly unattractive, though she is not drawn this way at all. Seeing that she's knowingly cheating on him, this might be his way of expressing his anger with her.
  • In Avengers Academy Tigra bemoans the fact that she's single, stating that it's hard to get a date "with classified that say 'Single Mom That Sheds'". For context, people, this is Tigra.
    • This strange scene might count as Hollywood Dateless since Tigra has had many lovers over the years and has been called attractive in-universe.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Audrey Hepburn personified this trope for a while; her characters were supposed to be embarrassingly frumpy and unattractive in such movies as Sabrina and Funny Face (until the makeovers, that is) ...even though she was recently voted the most beautiful woman in the world.
  • The remake of Sabrina plays this straight. Sabrina, played by Julia Ormond, is initially portrayed as plain and frumpy, with long hair and glasses. By the time she returns from Paris, with the glasses gone and a chic new haircut and wardrobe, her crush is so stunned at the sight of her that he nearly walks into traffic.
  • In Be Kind Rewind, Melonie Diaz's character, Alma, is played up as ugly when the male film-makers are forced to take her over her (apparently) more attractive sister. This is achieved by... having her sniff and rub her nose a couple of times. It's quickly forgotten and she's the hot girl for the rest of the movie.
  • Beastly Two cases.
    • Lindy is supposed to be a Plain Jane-type, and the witch, Kendra, is supposedly genuinely hideous—at least in the original book, they were. The movie version casts Vanessa Hudgens as Lindy, "uglifying' her by messing her hair up and giving her bangs, and as for Kendra, played by Mary-Kate Olsen? Her "hideousness" is conveyed by black clothing, a slightly-plump body, heavy eye make-up, and white-blonde hair with black streaks. She actually looks pretty hot.
    • Then there is the beast. In the book, he actually gets turned into a real beast (fur, fangs, etc). In the movie he just loses his hair and gets a lot of tattoos. Not ideal, but nowhere near as bad as being an actual beast. The way he reacts to this updated appearance adds a lot of new implications about his character.
  • Can't Buy Me Love: Uber-dork Ronald, in this 1987 film, takes off his glasses, fluffs up his hair, and turns into Patrick Dempsey.
  • Charlotte Gainsbourg, while no centerfold, is not unattractive by conventional standards, but seems to have made a career out of this trope, playing specifically unattractive characters in some of her biggest roles:
    • She plays the title character in Jane Eyre, whose plainness is a major aspect of her character.
    • In The Science of Sleep she plays the plain woman whom the main character initially ignores in favor of her more attractive roommate.
    • In 21 Grams, she plays a cuckolded wife whose sick husband acquires a more attractive mistress.
  • Circle of Friends Minnie Driver's character is supposed to be dowdy and heavyset (at one point she refers to herself as a "heifer"). Even playing her against the gorgeous Saffron Burrows doesn't quite make this work.
  • The Comic Strip Presents: The Supergrass concerns a guy (Adrian Edmondson) who has so much trouble getting a date that he lies to a girl about being a big fish in the drug trade to impress her within earshot of the police, thus setting in motion an Idiot Plot supreme. This is what Edmondson looked like at the time. Of course, the character’s real problem is more likely that he’s the village idiot who lives with his mother, rather than his looks.
  • Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister: Used blatantly. Iris is supposed to be unattractive as part of the plot, yet she is played by Azura Skye, who is very (albeit unconventionally) pretty.
  • The Courtship of Andy Hardy (1942) has the title character mercy-dating the daughter of a divorcing couple whose case his father, a judge, is working on. She's depicted as such a "droop" that at one point Andy has to actually pay his chums to dance with her at a school prom. She's also played by Donna Reed, for crying out loud.
  • Dogfight, starring River Phoenix and Lili Taylor, is about a crew of Marines who challenge each other to a 'dogfight' -- finding the ugliest girl they can and bringing her to a party. Phoenix's character selects Taylor's character in order to win this 'dogfight'. By Hollywood standards, she's hideous. By any real world standards, she's a reasonably attractive woman.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard: The 2007 Backstory movie The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning features a young Daisy Duke as a social wallflower, wearing heavy sweaters, baggy jeans, her hair in a bun and thick-rimmed glasses in the first half of the film ... although a stunningly attractive babe lies underneath all those layers (as they are peeled off later in the movie).
  • Easy A: Subverted by Olive played by the beautiful Emma Stone (Who has played The Hot Chick in almost every other role she has been in). Olive's narration never implies that she actually views herself as ugly, or that she is viewed as ugly by others at her school, but she does talk about how she is normal, plain and unable to attract the interest of boys. However, the entire plot of the movie revolves around how perceptions and rumors influence your opinions of those around you, and the "plain" Olive is actually quite stunning once you stop thinking about her as "plain" Olive.
  • The Enchanted Cottage: Doubly bad. The main woman is so "homely" that no guys will dance with her, young boys comment on her looks, and she generally limits her social life in despair. Later, a man breaks off with his fiancee and considers suicide over a barely visible war scar. As the two fall in love, they become beautiful in each others' eyes—represented on camera by a strange blur on their features.
  • Enigma: Kate Winslet’s character is a good example - even anti-dolled to look ordinary, she's still prettier than the "hot chick".
  • Wanted: The producers considered James McAvoy the runt of the litter when it came to casting Wesley Gibson's character, but ultimately chose him because he looked so regular that viewers would be able to relate to him more. Many fangirls disagree.
    • Just fangirls?
  • Little Children: Another Winslet role, where her supposed frumpiness is a plot point. Of course, no one buys her being unattractive because it's still Kate Winslet, and even Roger Ebert in his review of the film found that pretty laughable.
  • Frankie and Johnny is a particularly Egregious example. In the stage original, the plain girl was played, to great acclaim, by Kathy Bates, who fits the casting requirement by being not particularly physically attractive. For the movie version, the part was recast. Michelle "Catwoman" Pfeiffer. Again: uh... right.
  • Michelle Pfeiffer also plays this straight in Batman Returns. When we first meet her alter ego Selina Kyle, she too is presented as plain and dowdy, until her transformation. All she really needed to do was take off her glasses.
  • Halle Berry is also presented as plain in Catwoman.
  • Hollywood's Ten Best did a countdown of the 10 best "Beauty to Beast Transformations" in which beautiful actresses got ugly for parts. True the list included Hilary Swank for Boys Don't Cry and Charlize Theron for Monster but also on the list was Halle Berry for Monsters Ball. Even with frumpy hair Halle Berry is still stunning in that film. Also was Jennifer Aniston for The Good Girl where all she is doing is wearing baggy clothes (her character works at a checkout in a supermarket), oh, yes, how hideous.
  • The Ipcress File: Michael Caine is playing a British spy who's supposed to be a complete subversion of the James Bond-style spy - instead of being suave and gorgeous, he's supposed to be a funny-looking Cockney who seduces women by cooking for them. Unfortunately, he wasn't unattractive - he was Michael Caine, in glasses. And he even loses his glasses for the second half of the movie.
  • Janeane Garofalo was the queen of this trope in the nineties. Despite being very cute, she was almost always cast as unattractive and caustic characters. Perhaps the most egregious example was The Truth About Cats and Dogs, with Roger Ebert flat-out stating in his review, "The movie is based upon the presumption that Garofalo is not pretty, and of course she is." She was outspoken about her frustration with the typecasting and eventually lost a lot of weight so that she could get other roles.
    • Oddly, in Cats and Dogs Uma Thurman's role as The Knockout is undermined by her looking as if she hasn't slept in a week.
  • Uma Thurman gets this treatment in the film Final Analysis, where a lack of makeup is enough to make her the supposedly mousy and plain younger sister to the glamorous Kim B asinger. She's also presented as this at the beginning of Batman and Robin before morphing into Poison Ivy.
  • Jennifer's Body stars Megan Fox as a beautiful cheerleader (certainly plausible) and Amanda Seyfried as her "plain jane" best friend. Amanda Seyfried! In case fans couldn't tell that she's unattractive and unwanted, they named her Needy. It's also parodied, with Jennifer getting "ugly" from not feeding enough. Needy points out that it just looks like she didn't put on makeup. This almost counts as a Deconstruction, since even in-universe, it's pointed out that Needy has to dress down when she and Jennifer go out, so she doesn't show Jennifer up.
  • Last Action Hero: Lampshaded, when Danny Maddigan tries to prove that they're in a film by pointing out that none of the women are ugly, to which Jack Slater responds:

Jack: No, this is California

  • Love Potion Number Nine: Even Hollywood isn't usually shameless enough to pass off Sandra Bullock as "ugly", but she is that town's go-to actress when they need an approachable, plain, girl-next-door type. "Usually" is the key word there, as she is supposed to be the ugly type in this film.
  • Marty: Ernest Borgnine (no prize himself in the looks department, although that's admittedly acknowledged in the film) goes on a date with a "dog" played by former model Betsy Blair, and former wife of Gene Kelly.
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding: While Nia Vardolos is a very pretty woman she is anything but the typical Hollywood bombshell, which many people have stated help make the film that much more appealing. Her homely look genuinely made her plain, and getting the makeover did wonders.
  • Never Been Kissed has two examples. Leelee Sobieski as the nerdy girl, especially when she strips down to that spandex blue cat suit at the prom, and Drew Barrymore. She's supposed to be a bookish, nerdy girl as well...but she's Drew Frikkin' Barrymore! That said, they do manage to make Drew look pretty bad in her prom flashback. More than the majority of these examples, anyway.
  • Now Voyager Bette Davis spends the first few scenes being unconscionably unattractive by having... baggy clothes, unplucked eyebrows, bun hair and glasses. An early example of how to 'do an Ugly Betty' the film having come out in 1948.
  • In Only the Lonely Ally Sheedy's character was supposed to be considered unattractive.
  • In Only You Andrew McCarthy's character has to make a choice between two potential girlfriends, one who is beautiful and one who is supposedly not as good looking but is otherwise perfect. The supposedly non-beautiful woman is played by Helen Hunt. So McCarthy has to face the dilemma of whether he should settle for a woman whose worst flaw is she is only as attractive as Helen Hunt.
  • Penelope Christina Ricci actually looks cute with a pig's snout, but some of her suitors are so horrified by the sight of her that they jump out of second-story windows to get away.
  • Portrait of a Lady from Jane Campion, Isabel and Henrietta go on about how ugly Caspar Goodwood is. That's Viggo Mortensen. Viggo Mortensen with slightly silly hair, but still...
  • Pride and Prejudice: In the 2005 movie, Lizzie Bennett, described by Mr. Darcy as 'tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me' is played by Keira Knightley. Of course, it could have just been that Darcy was being a jerk.
    • Likewise in the miniseries of 1995, the older sister (the pretty one, according to dialogue) is quite plain compared to Lizzie – who is after all the star of the story.
  • The Princess Diaries Mia is supposed to be an ugly duckling before her princess makeover. However, wearing glasses and having a bad perm isn't enough to make Anne Hathaway look ugly. Sure, she looks a lot better after her princess makeover, but she never looks that terrible.
  • Anne Hathaway gets this treatment again in The Devil Wears Prada where she is called unattractive and fat by her new co-workers, when her only "problem" is not having a designer wardrobe. Though at least here the screenwriter says this attitude is a comment on the ridiculous standards of the fashion industry and not the movie trying to convince the audience that Hathaway is ugly.
  • Psycho features a joke where a man fawns over Marion at the bank, completely ignoring her supposedly plainer co-worker who says afterwards "He must have seen my wedding ring." The co-worker is played by Pat Hitchcock, who is not only pretty cute herself but the daughter of the director, making this doubly awkward.
  • The Quiet Camilla Belle's character is described as being unattractive by several characters. One character even goes as far to say that she is a hermaphrodite. The only thing that makes her "ugly" is the fact she has short hair, minimal make-up on and wears boys clothing. In real life, Camilla Belle is as beautiful as Elisha Cuthbert.
  • Shaolin Soccer Mui also counts as a Beautiful All Along, she finally looks better after her second makeover, about 15 minutes before the end of the film.
  • She's All That A teenage film take on the Pygmalion story involves a bet to try to get the "ugly" girl to win as prom queen. After scanning the whole school, they settle on the obviously attractive Rachel Leigh Cook as the least likely to be named prom queen.
  • Not Another Teen Movie parodies She's All That, having the gus scan the crowd and decide the conjoined twins, hippy albino, hunchback, and others are not ugly enough, but that the girl with glasses, a pony tail, and paint-covered overalls (played by the clearly attractive Chyler Leigh) is the ugliest by far.
  • In the film Sleepover, the lead female runs into a "ticket girl" who apparently couldn't go into the prom because she has never been able to get a date. The actress playing the ticket girl? Summer Glau.
  • Step Up 3D The female half of the Beta Couple, Camille is, according to one reviewer a "Plain Jane". Said character is played by Alyson Stoner.
  • Starter For 10 Brian (James McAvoy) is enamored with Alice (Alice Eve), who is conventionally but blandly pretty, and ignores Rebecca (Rebecca Hall) who he has much more in common with and a far easier time speaking to despite her sarcastic personality. While Eve is pretty, Hall is also quite beautiful, and it is hard to believe that she would ordinarily be second banana to anyone.
  • Tamara: The eponymous character is considered unattractive before she undergoes her Evil Is Sexy makeover. Before that it is just the very attractive Jenna Dewan with no make-up on and unflattering clothing.
  • Thora Birch plays a lot of characters like this. Hilariously, her character in American Beauty has A-Cup Angst and wants to get breast implants. Take a look at her nude scene, and her in Ghost World. Especially when you compare her to the flat-chested Mena Suvari.
  • Thoroughly Modern Millie Miss Dorothy is drop dead gorgeous while Millie pales in comparison. Miss Dorothy is believable enough as she's played by Mary Tyler Moore but Millie is played by Julie Andrews. Young, cute Julie Andrews whose wearing flashy flapper dresses.
  • She's Out of My League plays this straight. Jay Baruchel is apparently a 5, but if anything, he's just a bit dorky looking and still fairly cute. To give another idea of just how warped that movie's idea of attractiveness is, Mike Vogel is supposedly only an 8.
  • A Walk to Remember: The character of Jamie Sullivan. Although the character was never intended to be unattractive (merely unconcerned with her appearance) the audience has a hard time believing the shock of the other characters during her Beautiful All Along moment given actress Mandy Moore's natural beauty.
  • In Sorority Boys, most of the girls in Delta Omega Gamma, the "loser" sorority, really are plain in appearance... except for the president, a cute blonde with Meganekko glasses. And guess who the main love interest is?
  • Bessie Love's character in The Broadway Melody is supposed to be the "talented but plain" sister in a singing and dancing duo. This is Bessie Love.
  • Parodied in The Other Guys. Will Ferrel is constantly apologizing for his wife, even calling her a "battle-axe," when she is played by the obviously stunning Eva Mendes and he is the only one who doesn't realize how hot she is.
  • Actress Ann Revere really was homely, but played admirable characters (often mothers) who had for lack of a better term a lot of inner beauty, allowing Ms. Revere to display hers. She tended to glow quietly. There is something of this about Dame Edith Evans as well.
  • Ashley Tisdale played a nerdy girl in Picture This. Yes, Sharpey Evans' actress. It becomes jarring that one of the earliest shown pieces of 'evidence' that she's a nerd is a scene that makes a big deal about her wearing 'granny panties'. Except, its not grannie panties, its clearly a thong, you can see the leg holes of it. It's a cartoon print thong, but still a thong. The most the film does is give her tomboy looking clothes, big glasses, and that's it, really.
  • Ashley Tisdale, as Maddie on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody is supposed to be the homely one in comparison to London - though to be fair, they did establish early that Zack had a crush on her, and they dropped the homely act by season two.
  • Failure to Launch: Justin Bartha is the ugly one. Not the plain one and not played as a joke, repeatedly throughout the movie he is referred to as being ugly. So is Zooey Deschanel; in fact they are hooked up by friends on the theory that since they are both so ugly neither would be able to find anyone else.
  • The Help: a plot point in both the book and movie, is the plainness of Skeeter. However, in the film version, Skeeter is played by the lovely Emma Stone. Most viewers find it difficult to believe that a character as beautiful as that would have trouble attracting men, even if the movie tried to make her "ugly" by giving her "frizzy" hair.
  • Matilda in Zoolander. (Probably a deliberate joke.)
  • Princess Protection Program has Selena Gomez playing the unpopular tomboy girl role. Does this looks tomboyish to you?
  • The Ten Commandments goes on (and on and on) about the noble choice Moses makes to marry the plain Sephora over the gorgeous Nefretiri. Yvonne De Carlo is made "plain" by putting some dirt on her face in most scenes, and not giving her the sparkly dresses that Anne Baxter gets. But she's still Yvonne De Carlo.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez parodies this:

I had yet to dare look in the mirror for fear of being driven mad by my own hideousness. Now I chanced a sidelong glance through the corner of my eye. It was not the sanity-twisting sight I had expected, but still a far cry from lovely.
"But what about these?" I cupped the large, fatty mounds on my chest.
"Those are breasts," Ghastly Edna said. "They're supposed to be there."
"But they're so...so..."
"Round. Firm." She sighed. "That's how they're supposed to be. Ideally."

  • Twilight:
    • Bella Swan. She is terribly self-deprecating, describing herself as a skinny, big-eyed, clumsy, Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette. Mind-reader Edward even lampshades this when he tells her that she should have heard what the entire male student body was thinking when she first came to school. Depending on your opinion, it's made either worse or better in the movie: Better because you don't hear as many of her thoughts and therefore don't have to hear about how "plain" she is as often, or worse because she's being played by Kristen Stewart. It's indicated that Bella is actually pretty, and just feels ugly because of a lack of self confidence.
    • James as well. He was described as being ugly as a vampire yet being played by Cam Gigandet makes you think that he's only ugly by Bella's standards.
    • It does fix the "only bad vampires are ugly" thing...
    • Bella's friends were also more attractive in the movie, while their book descriptions tended to be...less than flattering ("fishy eyes", "hair like oil slick", etc).
  • Every now and then, tabloids will run a "shocking" cover story on what starlets look like without makeup. Horror of all horrors, they look like normal women!
  • A subversion: artist Stephen Fabian illustrated some of Keith Roberts' fantasy short stories about a 20th-Century witch named Anita. The editor told Fabian that Roberts had complained about previous illustrators drawing Anita as "a sexy babe," when she was actually "a plain, homely girl." But when Fabian went through the manuscript to get an idea of Anita's appearance, he found the passages "related to Anita’s looks were all describing her as a really beautiful sexy babe; young men whistled at her as she walked by, their eyes popped out at the sight of her luscious figure, their hearts broke if she didn’t smile at them, etc, etc." He wound up drawing Anita as a beauty ... and Roberts wrote him a complimentary note, with no reference to his earlier instructions.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Absolutely Fabulous: There was a constant stream of fat jokes at the expense of Jennifer Saunders, even though she didn't even look fat.
    • This may actually be more of an intentional satire of body image and the fashion industry than the trope being played straight. The fat jokes were often from people who had eating disorders, were incredibly insensitive (or in Bubble's case, just flat out stupid), or well-meaning but terrible parents. The only person showing genuine concern over her weight was her daughter, Saffy, who didn't find the jokes very funny and was generally just worried about her mother's overall health (physical and mental).
      • Almost certainly a parody, since Jennifer Saunders was best known at the time as the thin comedy partner of the larger Dawn French.
  • The Andy Griffith Show: Andy and his girlfriend help out a farmer's daughter by giving her dresses and makeup in order to make her look good. Of course, her "non-beautiful" state consisted of the (beautiful) actress with a few dirt smudges instead of rouge.
  • Angel: A rather obnoxious commercial director declared Cordelia looking like this to be unattractive. A bit too Anvilicious perhaps, but the point is clear.
  • Arrested Development:
    • Ann Veal. Although Ann's not really played as "ugly," more that she's incredibly boring/unmemorable.
    • Played for comedy with Kitty Sanchez, played by the notably attractive Judy Greer. While George Bluth Sr. keeps her as a mistress, Lovable Sex Maniac Gob finds her repulsive. Her "ugliness" is achieved by crossing her eyes when she's not wearing her glasses and having frizzy hair when she lets it down. Perhaps to play the ugliness up further, she also gets a pair of extremely unfortunate breast implants.
  • The Big Bang Theory: None of the characters are especially unattractive, but a combination of not being especially tall, muscular or fashionable in addition to being socially awkward and you can see why they aren't very lucky with the ladies. For Raj the actor is stuffed in horrible clothes, has his hair done badly, and is a Hollywood Nerd... and then you see Raj's actor, Kunal Nayyar, off the show, and... he's HOT.[1] Leonard's fashion sense and hair style makes him look like a teenager, he's noticeable more handsome when he dresses up but that can be said for a lot of people.
    • Bernadette is extremely attractive and is recognized as being pretty, but the fact that she has glasses and is rather mousy makes Howard Wolowitz not sure how committed he wants to be, as being rather shallow he is looking for a glamorous supermodel. He eventually recognizes how lucky he is to have her. Even Simon Helberg (Howard) is a lot more attractive off the show, just look at his picture on the other wiki. His character has a horrible haircut and his clothing makes it clear he has little body fat or muscle on him, including very stuffy turtleneck sweaters.
  • The third Blackadder series has the Prince being frequently referred to as fat (as historically he was) and having trouble with women, in spite of being played by the very thin (and rather popular with women) Hugh Laurie.
  • Bones:
    • Lampshaded when Booth describes himself and Brennan as the "sexy FBI agent and the sexy scientist".
    • In the episode "The Witch In the Wardrobe" Booth and Brennan spy on a group of Wiccans who perform their ceremony naked and Booth asked "why doesn't this ever happen with people you'd want to see naked?'. Yet when we see coven members in the full light of day (and clothed alas) none of them register as less than slightly above average in looks.
  • The Brady Bunch: The fact that Peter and Jan tend to be more socially awkward than Greg and Marcia is the only way that episodes like "The Not So Ugly Duckling" or "Cyrano de Brady" (in which there is much angst about their inability to live up to their allegedly more attractive siblings) are plausible, the general consensus amongst viewers being that the middle children were actually the best-looking of the Brady kids.
    • They had gone through very visible pubescent awkward stages through the series but by the last season had gotten so clearly attractive that now episodes were written where Peter was juggling a date with two girls on the same night and Jan ran for "Most Popular Girl" at school, and won.
    • Greg and Marcia also deal with this trope (indirectly). In the late third-season episode "My Fair Opponent," Marcia plays the sympatheic friend when an awkward and butt-ugly classmate named Molly is nominated (as a cruel joke) for hostess of Filmore Junior High's Banquet Night ... only for the makeover to work out too well and Molly becomes an insufferable snob. Greg's instance (in Season 5's "Peter and the Wolf") is averted: He merely is led to believe, based on old photographs and memories of his girlfriend, that his girlfriend's cousin still wears pigtails and braces and horribly undesirable; the cousin turns out to be a total hottie.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Xander, despite actor Nicholas Brendon being an incredibly attractive guy, and the character rather witty, he is supposedly the bottom of the social barrel at Sunnydale High, and numerous cracks are made at his inability to get girls. He dates the cheerleader Cordelia from Season 2 onwards. Doing so sent Cordelia's social status straight from 'most popular girl in school' to 'nonexistent'. Every acquaintance she had considered her completely insane for choosing to give Xander the time of day, and she ended up entirely exiled from her former social circle. Joss actually mentions this trope in the DVD commentaries:

Joss Whedon: Of course, Nicholas Brendon is way too good-looking, but this is Hollywood, so get over it.

    • Willow Rosenberg (played by the very attractive Alyson Hannigan); interestingly, in the original, never aired pilot, Willow was played by Riff Regan, who is decidedly more plain.
      • Not to mention Tara, played by the absolutely gorgeous Amber Benson.
      • Word of God is that Willow was always intended to blossom in more or less the manner she did (although whether she or Xander was going to turn out to be gay was up in the air until Season 4), so it helps that she's played by someone who's totally all that. The fact she's also another supermodel who can also outact most of Hollywood helps too.
  • Charlie's Angels - The first episode, Farrah Fawcett, the beauty who swept the hearts of many boys in the 1970s with her gorgeous visage, plays Jill, who goes undercover with a hair bun and eyeglasses, at which point another character says, "Jill, you look terrible."
  • Chuck put Anna into punk/goth outfits and gave her character a perpetual sneer, probably to distract people away from the fact that Julia Ling is every bit as gorgeous as Yvonne Strahovski.
  • Criminal Minds
    • In the episode "Legacy", a Serial Killer is preying on impoverished streetwalkers and homeless people. But his victim du joir in the episode is played by an actress with the most perfect, straight, gleaming-white teeth—the very personification of a million-dollar smile.
  • Desperate Housewives: Eva Longoria is supposedly over the hill and has to play The Mom when she tries to return to modeling. Eva Longoria is considered a "Hag". Sadly, this is just a reflection of the modeling industry. High-Fashion models obviously have a short shelf life, and 26 is considered old and many retire (if they're lucky) or never find work again (if they're not).
  • Disney loves this trope - all parts of the Disney Empire. Look around for the Mitchel Musso music video 'The In Crowd' for a textbook version of this. Katelyn Tarver, who plays 'the plain girl' is so obviously beautiful that it isn't even funny - and to 'make her plain', they give her glasses, put her in jeans and a flannel shirt, tie her hair into a messy ponytail and have her act 'goofy'. Jeez, people - maybe you shouldn't have gone with any close-ups that show just how hot this girl really is! (Of course, in real life, she's a model...)
    • Most, if not all, of the actresses playing "geeky sidekicks" (Emily Osment, Ashley Tisdale and Anneliese Van Der Pol, for example) in many of the channel's series are arguably at least as attractive and charismatic as the shows' stars, but tend to play awkward or Cloudcuckoolander characters in nerdy clothes or glasses.
  • Dollhouse: The Girl Next Door, Mellie, played by the actress Miracle Laurie, complains that she's Hollywood Pudgy and can't get dates because she lives in LA and has to compete with all the girls that aren't. Her love interest doesn't care, and neither does the audience, because by any realistic standard, she is beautiful.
    • She's acknowledged as hot because she turns out to be a doll herself.
    • There's also Bennett saying that she could never be a Doll because "Actives are beautiful." Commentary on Television Without Pity: "Honey, I know you've been fucked up something good but you are Summer Glau." This is a subversion; the only reason the subject came up was that Topher mistook her for a Doll, and she is right about Dolls being selected on the basis of physical beauty (which Topher, of all people, would know).
  • The Dukes of Hazzard: In the non-canon The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning, Daisy is portrayed as incredibly unattractive – wearing thick glasses, oversized sweaters, her hair in an unkempt bun and acting socially awkward. As it turned out, she was simply insecure and socially awkward, something that – along with her previous homeliness – instantly is cured when she gets a job at the Boar's Nest.
  • Steve Urkel in Family Matters. As proven by the 'Stefan' persona, Jaleel White is by no means unattractive, but give him thick glasses and a funny voice and everyone treats him as a totally repellent geek.
    • That one's simply a case of bad luck in casting. When Jaleel started as Urkel, he was a lot shorter, scrawnier, and was usually portrayed as really annoying instead of repulsive. By the time they started creating the Stefan Urquelle persona, puberty had been very kind to him.
  • Franklin and Bash: Jennifer from "Jennifer of Troy". Just read this.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: One episode involved the Girl of the Week bribing Will into going on dates with her, despite him being unattracted to her. At one point, Judge Carl Robertson also makes fun of her appearance. However, it's pretty obvious that the girl in question is a pretty actress who just happens to have unflattering hair and clothes, and glasses.
  • Friends: Averted in a different way where the gorgeous main cast are given character flaws to give them dating problems, because otherwise, no one in their right mind would ever dump people as attractive as they. Their good looks are mentioned within the show too, which makes the equally hot girls and guys of the week much more reasonable than those on other shows.
    • Actually played straight for Chandler and Ross, though, who are consistently described as being not attractive enough for the girls they date. In fact, people are continually saying "Rachel could do better" or "Monica could do better" when we're talking about Matthew freaking Perry and David Schwimmer. Joey, on the other hand, is supposed to be much hotter than them.
  • General Hospital: Part of the backlash on Spinelli is that he's a greasy-haired, geeky nerd with Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness...on a Soap Opera, where anyone under a 9 is ugly. This was stretched even more when they brought in a similarly geeky girl...and hid her behind glasses, Girlish Pigtails, and clothing that went out in the mid-90s.
  • Glee:
    • Rachel Berry is supposedly less attractive than Quinn Fabray. Now, Quinn's actress, Dianna Agron, is a cute girl, but Rachel's played by Lea. Friggin'. Michele.
    • In one episode, Quinn's boyfriend Finn describes Rachel has having "a smoking hot body... if you don't like boobs." Rachel is noticeably much, much curvier than Quinn.
    • In an interview with the actress she mentions how the character is supposed to be considered not attractive in the show.
      • Actually, many other characters in the show acknowledge that she's attractive, however, her bitchy attitude and her unstylish and somewhat frumpy wardrobe put a lot of people off.
    • In The Rocky Horror Glee Show episode, Finn is feeling insecure about having to strip down to his underwear for the role of Brad. He decides to overcome it by walking through the school hallway in his boxers, causing people to pass out in horror. When Finn is getting suspended, the principal says that 9 students requested after school counseling, and they had bring in a grief counselor. One may argue that Finn isn't the hottest guy on the show, but his body is far from traumatizing
    • In the season 2 finale the coach of their rivals, Vocal Adrenaline, describes the whole club as "hideous". Admittedly Artie would be a Hollywood Geek even out of the wheelchair and Lauren is the Brawn Hilda but the rest?
  • On The Golden Girls, frequent sport was made about Dorothy supposedly being physically unattractive. Now, Bea Arthur was in her sixties when they made that show, so she wasn't exactly a supermodel, but it's hard to argue that she was less physically attractive than Rue McClanahan, whose character was generally portrayed as being catnip on legs for every man over the age 45.
  • Green Wing: Karen Ball.
  • The Honeymooners: When Audrey Meadows first auditioned for the part of Alice Kramden, Jackie Gleason rejected her for being "too pretty". So she had a photographer come to her house early in the morning and photograph her just after waking up, morning hair, no makeup, etc. Jackie took one look at the pictures (without knowing it was Audrey) and hired her on the spot.
  • Hot in Cleveland: The whole premise of the TV Land sitcom is a Lampshade Hanging of this trope, wherein a bunch of aging Hollywood actresses have a flight layover in the title city and decide to stay after discovering that they're considered attractive there in a way they wouldn't be back in LA.
    • Worth noting that one of them is Valerie Bertinelli, who was one of the most beautiful women on TV in the early 80's, and is still prettier and better-built than most women years younger.
  • I Love Lucy: Ethel was the source of constant fat jokes, despite being about the same build as Lucy. To compensate for this, the producers had her wear clothes that were several sizes too small. The Urban Legend that she was contractually obligated to gain 20 pounds is untrue.
    • This was intentional on the part of Vivian Vance. She reasoned that if Fred threw fat jokes at Ethel, and she were actually fat, people would feel bad for her; however, if she was called fat while actually slender, the hypocrisy and dissonance would make it funny.
  • iCarly manages to avert this fairly well. The Chew Toy Lewbert is played by this guy. However, in the show, they mention that Lewbert used to be a male model, until a psycho ex-girlfriend caused him enough grief to make a giant wart grow on his face, and at that point, he seemed to throw in the towel on hygiene.
  • Inspector Lynley: (BBC Homely?) A mild case in the televised version of the mysteries; in the books, DS Barbara Havers is committedly unattractive—middle-aged, plain, overweight, and badly dressed. Sharon Small may not fit the supermodel aesthetic, but she is stunningly pretty, and no bad haircut or baggy clothes can completely hide this, with the result that Barbara Havers is utterly adorable for the first four series, and then genuinely pretty (they let Sharon grow her hair out for series 5 and 6). Elizabeth George, who wrote the novels, was quite upset by this until she saw Small's performance in the pilot.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
    • Averts this trope with Margaret McPoyle is hideous. As it turns out Margaret McPoyle is actually played by the very attractive Thesy Surface under a lot (cannot stress that enough, a lot) of makeup. Don't believe it? Margaret McPoyle vs. Thesy Surface
    • All the male members of the gang use hyperbolic criticism to describe Sweet Dee's appearance. She's said to have a "five-head," compared to a giant bird with "stork-like" legs, and even said to have eyes so far apart that she looks like a fish. However, she doesn't have much of a problem getting boyfriends, suggesting that her friends and family are just being mean. It's interesting to note that actress Kaitlin Olson says she prefers playing "the ugly Dee" over a standard closer-to-Earth female character.
  • Just Shoot Me:
    • Maya conducts an experiment to prove beautiful people get social perks by sending both an illiterate male model and a well-qualified "ugly" guy to a job interview. She ends up proving herself as shallow as everyone else by rejecting the charming "ugly" guy and dating the clueless himbo—much to her own self-loathing. However, the actor cast as the "ugly" guy wouldn't have been out of place in GQ.
    • Maya herself was treated like this in the show's first season. While this was possibly justified by the show's setting (a high-fashion magazine), by season two they stopped trying to make anyone believe that Laura San Giacomo was in any way "homely".
  • Kamen Rider OOO: episodes #23-24. Sakura is tempted by a Yummy because she doesn't want to be "ugly", which is shown by wearing a lab coat, thick-rimmed glasses, and covering her hair. It was blatantly obvious that she was attractive under all that and it was just covered up. Date seems to agree.
  • King of Queens: Doug and his friends find out that an attractive female worker at the bowling alley is quitting and being replaced by a less attractive woman. The men mock this woman like she's the deformed lovechild of Jabba the Hut and a toad, and is even given a "mercy flirt" by Doug, but of course, many people find the actress to be rather pretty.
  • Legend Of The Condor Heroes: The protagonist, Guo Jing, is mainly described as being rather stout and muscular, and is not known for being very handsome or refined. As a matter of fact, to go even further, there were actually several characters who make the comparison of his relationship with Huang Rong as "A beautiful flower planted in cow dung" - yes, he was even likened to cow dung. This becomes rather wince-worthy when he ends up being played by Chinese teen heart throb Hu Ge, who is pretty much a Real Life equivalent of a Bishonen. And in order to underplay his looks, he ended up having his hair tied back and slightly frizzed, along with his clothes stuffed with more material so he would look a bit bulkier. Needless to say, he can still look prettier than some of the female cast, and halfway through the series, they don't even bother trying to uglify him (straightening his hair and giving him more flattering clothes).
  • Mad Men: Peggy Olson is supposed to be deliberately keeping herself dowdy in order to be taken seriously at work. Of course, she's played by the gorgeous Elisabeth Moss. The character was also shown gaining weight throughout Season One, presumably for the same reason. As we learn in Season Two, though, she was actually pregnant with Pete Campbell's child. It should be noted, however, that once Peggy has her "date" with Kurt in season 2 and starts dressing herself more fashionably and wearing her hair differently, the show tends to present this as her harnessing the power of "being a woman" as Bobbie had advised instead of it merely being that it's opening doors for her all on its own.
  • Married... with Children: Bud Bundy is depicted as very unattractive and someone that only a woman with no standards would date or have sex with despite being played by the not remotely ugly David Faustino. Marcy also came in for a lot of jokes about her looks even though Amanda Bearse was average looking at worst.
    • Marginally justified in that, for all the women turned off by his looks, far more are repulsed by his personality. As he matures both physically and emotionally (and stops trying far, far too hard) he starts having more success.
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Rhoda Morgenstern, although it was finally inverted in the Season 3 episode "Rhoda the Beautiful". When Rhoda got her own show, she was given a supposedly less attractive sister to make sure everyone knew that now that she was the star she was now officially pretty.
  • The Mentalist: In episode "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" this woman has trouble getting a date, so she has to resort do a dating service. It's not surprising, since she's obviously hideous.
  • NCIS: A weird case where, in a 6th season episode, a young, hot woman's attraction to Gibbs is portrayed as odd, apparently thinking the audience doesn't notice that Gibbs is played by Mark Harmon Who is one of the few people named EW's Sexiest Man of the Year twice, at least back in the eighties.
    • Maybe that one was simply the "young" part. Mark Harmon is nearly 60, and for most people, regardless of how hot both parties are, it can be slightly strange to watch someone hit on a person old enough to be their father, especially when he acts as a Team Dad. A Grumpy Old Man Team Dad.
  • The New Adventures of Old Christine: The beauty and shapely figure of Julia Louis Dreyfuss is totally ignored by the people around her, even though her wardrobe often shows off what one would consider damn fine assets.
  • Parodied on the Adult Swim show NTSF:SD:SUV::. Jessie, the head lab tech, is called ugly by everyone else on the show. Jessie is played by Rebecca Romijn wearing a lab coat and glasses (the latter not worn in this photo). A later episode reveals that the other lab techs are similarly viewed as unattractive and are all played by male models.
  • The OC: Seth Cohen.
  • The Office (US version):
    • Andy and Michael flirt with a couple of waitresses at a restaurant and attempt to get them to come to a party. They show up at the party with two different waitresses, the joke being that the first two refused and they had to settle for supposedly less attractive ones. Unfortunately, as co-creator Greg Daniels admitted, poor casting meant the actresses hired were too good looking and the joke fell flat.
    • The Office can actually be commended for inverting this trope. In the early seasons, the makeup/hair team would spend hours making the very gorgeous Jenna Fischer, look quite realistic and average for Pam Beasley, an office receptionist in her 20's. Despite that, all of the male characters treat her as if she's gorgeous, and refer to her as "the hot one" in the office. In later seasons, she has gained more confidence and dresses up more.
    • Also averted, in the sense that, on any other show, Kelly would be considered Hollywood Pudgy. This is played with when Ryan refers to Kelly as having a little junk in the trunk.
    • Except for Kevin:

Andy: Ladies, if it were up to us, you all would be the fashion models.
Kevin: Yes! Because then the models would come here and work with us!

  • One Tree Hill: Marvin McFadden (AKA 'Mouth') is constantly tormented about his average looks, which are perfectly normal standing next to normal people, but in the presence of the ultra beautiful cast of OTH, are shunned. Another example from this would be Millie, his girlfriend, who in all rights appears completely and utterly gorgeous, except for a thick pair of glasses.
    • Which is acknowledged when she becomes an instant hit in the modelling world.
  • A Pocketful of Rye, an ITV adaptation of the Miss Marple story had the supposedly-plain Elaine Fortescue played by the decidedly beautiful Hattie Morahan, looking her best in fashionable clothes and an elaborate hairdo. Despite this, the other characters were at pains to point out how unattractive she was.
  • Popular: Of the two lead characters, one is supposed to be an extremely beautiful Alpha Bitch who leads a posse of popular blondes, and the other is supposed to be a frumpy, unattractive, unpopular nerdy girl. As far as the audience can tell, they're both very attractive, and viewers can't agree on which one is hotter.
  • Queer as Folk: Ted, though this is meant to Lampshade Hanging the impossibly high standards of appearance that many gay men place on themselves (and each other). Women check him out all the time, much to his annoyance.
    • And also Michael Novotny's self-depreciation, despite that Hal Sparks is unendingly adorable no matter what Sears-type button up shirts they put him in.
  • Reaper: In episode "Business Casualty", Sock is set up with a friend of Nina's. His reaction to her is that she is hideous beyond all imagining, to the point that he tries to get away from her as quickly as possible. In fact, the character is simply played by a beautiful woman wearing a minimal amount of make-up wearing average clothes with her hair in a pony-tail. There isn't even any of the usual Hollywood Homely attempts to disguise this: she doesn't wear glasses, have braces, wear hideous clothes, have bad hair, or prosthetic makeup. She just looks like someone going out to run errands.
  • Rules of Engagement has Liz. Descriptions of the character indicate that she's overweight and highly unattractive. Visual inspection begs to differ.
  • Scrubs: Ted the lawyer is a well done aversion, created with makeup and an ill-fitting suit. The actor has been quoted as saying that after seeing him in the pilot episode, his mother called him up and asked if he was ill.
  • Sex and the City:
    • The character Miranda (played by Cynthia Nixon) is apparently supposed to be the ugly one of the four lead characters.
    • Charlotte's second husband Harry. While played up as Ugly Guy, Hot Wife due to him being bald and a bit chubby with bad table manners, his actor Evan Handler does have a rather cute face, and is hardly less attractive than many of the character's guys of the week over the years (of course it also helps that he's one of the nicest characters in the whole series.) In the last season, they pretty much dropped the Ugly Guy, Hot Wife angle.
    • Charlotte was this for exactly one episode, when she turns 36 and is freaking out about being an "old maid". She may be the most prudish of the bunch, but it is highly unlikely she would really wear a frumpy button up blouse on a trip to Atlantic City!
  • Strangers with Candy: Very much averted where Amy Sedaris, who in real life is far from bad looking, took extensive pains to look as ugly as possible as Jerri Blank. This includes fat suits, yellowed teeth, hilariously awful wigs, and a wardrobe that would make anyone with a modicum of taste gouge their eyes out. The result is appropriately hideous. In an interview, she stated she was deliberately trying to avoid this trope.
  • That '70s Show:
    • Big Rhonda was made up to look homely, but the actress (Cynthia Lamontagne) who played her wasn't actually bad looking. This is seen in the episode "It's a Wonderful Life", where in an alternate timeline she was dumped by Eric and appears at the gang's ten-year reunion without the whole Big Rhonda look. She also played a fembot in Austin Powers.
    • Somewhat inverted with Donna (Laura Prepon), who's frequently mocked as a "giant" and a "lumberjack" by Jackie, while alternately depicted as a "hot redhead" whom Eric could never hope to date otherwise. He even considered her his equivalent of the actual Brooke Shields dating Donna's father.
  • Thirty Rock: Liz Lemon (Tina Fey). This is lampshaded in the episode "Cleveland". Liz goes to Ohio and is offered a modeling contract and is complimented by people on the street.

Jenna: We're all models west of the Allegheny.

  • The Tudors:
    • In Season 3, Joss Stone appears as Anne of Cleves. Henry VIII claims he cannot tell her from his horse (which speaks either very poorly of his eyesight or very well of his horse) and is unable to consummate his marriage to her, supposedly because she is so ugly. This is based on something Henry actually said, but contemporary reports suggest that she was quite pretty. An alternative explanation suggested by other characters is that he's turned off because Anne is a virgin who doesn't know what to do. We also know that Henry was almost 50 years old and as heavy as 400 pounds, so he may have had performance anxiety of his own. Either way, it's most likely all in his head.
    • This is used in Philippa Gregory's novel, The Boleyn Inheritance, where Anne of Cleves seems very frumpy at first because she is wearing incredibly modest (read: baggy) and unflattering clothing that she brought with her from Germany. After Henry VIII divorced her, however, she was free to wear English clothing and hold her own court in her own household. The next time she showed up at court, everyone thought that she looked very pretty. There are several historical accounts that support this theory. Henry did end up sleeping with her in Season Four.
    • Case can be also made for Henry himself who is played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Especially in his later years, King Henry was an obese, very unattractive man, Jonathan Rhys Meyers still make him look hotter than he ever was. Although this is more a result of keeping the same actor who played the young Henry (who actually was fit, attractive and a famous sportsman) to play the old Henry with only very light cosmetic changes even though many years are supposed to have passed.
  • Ugly Betty:
    • In Hollywood, ugliness is apparently defined by braces, a bit of a belly, bad eyesight and a complete lack of fashion sense. The show tries to justify it by having her work at a fashion magazine. She subverted it in "Real Women Have Curves". While she and her mother seem to consider her ugly, no one else has that problem (one supposes a show called "Cutey Betty" would seem derivative).
    • Interestingly, season four had a Dream Sequence in which Betty is beautiful. The beautiful version of Betty was, of course, just America Ferrera without her "ugly" accessories.
    • Not ugly, but certainly trying her damnedest. That kind of gaudiness doesn't come from simply not caring.
    • David Spade did a monologue in the show on how this seems to not only make the standards of beauty unrealistic but the standards of ugly as well.

"Think of all the legitimately ugly actresses out there who were told they were too ugly for a show with 'ugly' in the title."

      • This man obviously never watched the actual show and criticized it on it's premise.
    • Actually, the show kind of averts this more often than not. While Betty is not exactly a super model, people around her usually recognize, both verbally and non-verbally, that she's pretty much an average looking woman and that, when she tries, she can look stunningly beautiful. The main problem with the girl is not her actual appearance but her awkward customs and fashion sense, which of course are something people in the fashion business will mock to death. Some characters, including ex-womanizers Matt and Daniel, as well as shallow Amanda even develop crushes on her, along with a series of seriously good looking, if nerdy, guys.
  • Vieja yo?: The Venezuelan soap played with this. Margot, is a housewife just turned 50 who has tried to be an actress for years, and thanks to her skills she ends fronting for an old man to discover who are the really truthful people in his company. Everybody keeps calling "old hag" (even her very unfaithful husband and her three kids), and everybody around treats her like she was truly an hideous old prune. Of course, she is interpreted by Mimi Lazo, who is the Venezuelan poster lady for Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have!, and all the calling out is put in the mouth of people who are either envious of her luck and/or looks, or far older and uglier—people who has other reasons to dislike her and just use the "old hag" card to hurt her. Unluckily, her younger Love Interest fell into the Informed Attractiveness, as he gained weight during the soap and put in clothing too formal for the poor man in an intent to become more visually suitable for the heroine, but still referred as the second hottest men in the setting.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: Justin. In one episode his family couldn't believe that a pretty girl would consider dating him. At one point, Alex said that Justin was not cute all. And we are supposed to believe this? Especially since he is played by the ridiculously hot David Henrie.
  • WKRP in Cincinnati: Many male fans insist this one was (unintentionally) inverted wherein Jan Smithers as shy, nerdy Bailey apparently came off as a whole lot hotter than 'blonde bombshell' Loni Anderson. Loni Anderson stated that the trope was being intentionally subverted and that she enjoyed playing on a show where the two attractive women were loyal co-workers and good friends.
  • Wonder Woman: Give Diana glasses and her hair in a bun and suddenly she's nowhere near as attractive as her superhero counterpart. As with the Maya/Just Shoot Me example, the second season (which fast-forwarded 30 years) stopped all attempts of claiming that even a bespectacled, ponytailed Lynda Carter was homely. Her supposed homeliness is highlighted in a brutal exchange between Steve and Diana in the season 1 episode called Beauty on Parade, where nazis have infiltrated a beauty pageant.

Diana: Perhaps if we could get one of our own agents into that beauty contest...
Steve: ... it might flush them out. It would take a really beautiful girl, though. Someone with all the right qualifications.
Diana:Well, I'd be willing to try.
Steve': Thanks, Diana. I know you'd do a wonderful job. But I'm afraid this calls for a really gorgeous girl. Someone who looks great in a bathing suit. Say, I won't be needing you for awhile, is there anything you'd like to do?
This Troper: Wow!

  • Yo Soy Betty, la Fea, the Colombian soap opera on which Ugly Betty is based, looks a bit more convincing into characterizing Betty as ugly, even when the main actress is actually quite pretty. Just see this comparison.
  • Zoey 101: Quinn Sanders
    • Or Coco Wexler. She is neither so fat nor so horrible as they say in the series. The fact that his supposed ugliness is accompanied by a series of romantic failures, which appear to be deserved for it, ultimately has Unfortunate Implications, even though her role is kinda the Butt Monkey.
    • And from the same show, we have an episode in when the kids have to give two male nerds a makeover. The ugly nerds in question were two hunky twenty-somethings with glasses and bad clothes.
  • Lilith on Cheers is uptight, prim, and withdrawn. And she is played by Bebe Neuwirth.
    • It's somewhat of a running joke both on Cheers and Frasier that Lilith is hot, but insists on donning hyper-conservative, frumpy, old-fashioned clothes, refusing to cover her pale skin with makeup, and wearing her hair in an abominably tight bun. Lampshaded in that whenever she unpins her hair, Frasier becomes so overcome with lust he completely loses his composure.
  • Picket Fences - Kenny can't seem to appreciate Maxine's physical beauty because she's a fat tomboy with a weird face, so he has to learn to love her personality.
  • Zelda Gilroy on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis even said there's nothing to love about her appearance. Really, the only problem was she wasn't as super-model hot as the other gals Dobie would chase.
  • Smallville Lampshaded, Clark thinks of himself as plain but as the high school reunion and even his friends (such as Pete) have mentioned he is quite handsome.
  • Edith, the extremely adorable middle sister in Downton Abbey looks like a blonde Betty Boop. However, the men constantly pass her over and the rest of the family despair that she will never marry. When a man who everyone describes as old and dull actually shows interest in her, it is supposed to be cause for celebration. It is possible that this is a Justified Trope as she does have the most dull personality of the three sisters and appears somewhat needy, so it may simply be her personality that men find uninteresting.
  • Sketch from Skins, who everyone is constantly saying is ugly. She doesn't get all dolled up like most of the other girls on the show, but she is definitely pretty.
  • Annie in Community, to the point that some characters in-universe have to explicitly informed that she really is beautiful. It's crossed to a degree with Informed Attribute and Character Development, however, since while she is quite clearly pretty now she's explicitly described to have had issues with her weight and complexion (among other things) before the series started, and is thus still rather neurotic and lacking in self-confidence and self-esteem about it. Reflecting this, she also has a tendency to dress rather frumpily and unflatteringly, in the earlier seasons at least.
    • However it should be noted that the only one to have to be told She is pretty is Troy, who isn't exactly the most aware individual. Of the other characters, Jeff is put off by the age difference, Pierce is old enough to be her grandfather and Abed is heavily hinted to be Asexual. Male characters outside of the study group often find her very pretty.
    • In one Season 2 episode, she complains about being used as "bait and distraction" in various schemes, only to realize Troy and Abed didn't hear her because they were distracted by her breasts—so she knows she's pretty, even if she still doesn't think of herself that way.
  • In Victorious when Trina offers to kiss a kid who previously came on to the other three main female characterrs he's grossed out. She's played by the far from unattractive Daniella Monet.
    • Trina gets this a lot on the show - in the episode "Wifi In The Sky" Beck and Andre are horrified at getting a close-up shot of her behind as she leaves her seat. Several male viewers would probably be gratified if they were in their place.
  • In Stephen King's novel The Stand, Harold Lauder is a fat acne-ridden teenager. So when it came time to make the TV-miniseries adaptation, they cast.. Corin Nemec.
    • Partly justified, since the novel mentions that Harold trims down and becomes fairly attractive thanks to physical labor and the relative lack of junk-food in his post-superflu lifestyle.
  • Horrible Histories had a sketch where King Philip of Spain married Queen Mary of England. Mary was supposedly quite ugly, but the actress they had portray her was actually somewhat attractive. Subverted with their portrayal of Elizabeth I, where they use make-up to make the actress look quite ugly.

Music[edit | hide]


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Luann is typically assumed in her world to be plain, at best (at least as compared to the local high school Alpha Bitch, Tiffany), even though as drawn she is quite attractive. In one arc boys lined up around the block to throw baseballs at a dunking machine so as to get Tiffany wet; when it was Luann's turn, all the boys mysteriously vanished (which was in fact the Punch Line). And it's not like her boob size (again, as drawn) is any less ample than her rival's, either.


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • WWE spoofed this when they had LayCool mock Mickie James claiming that the extremely fit Diva was fat and calling her Piggy James. Even though they were doing it for some cheap heat, and the announcers pointed out how ridiculous it was some people apparently thought the WWE was seriously calling her fat, talk about Completely Missing the Point.
    • Probably not even that they really thought it was serious, just that it was an unbearably stupid angle.
  • Cody Rhodes adopted a vain pretty boy gimmick and came out to cut a promo on how "dashing" he is. He then referred to Todd Grisham as "overweight" and "plain". Yeah, not getting oxygen to the brain there Cody.
    • Even more stupidly, Cody then suffered a blow to the face from Rey Mysterio and supposedly required reconstructive surgery. He went from considering himself as 'dashing' to 'hideous' and 'deformed' as a result. He ended up wearing a see-through plastic mask to 'protect' his face, but it was entirely clear that his face looked exactly the way that it always did, especially as he liked removing the mask to hit people with it. After a few months he dropped the gimmick and mask, all without his looks changing in the slightest.
  • AJ Lee on NXT was a form of a Hollywood Nerd and people were constantly remarking on how she'd have a hard time getting dates. The aforementioned Cody Rhodes even remarked that she'd probably never kissed a boy before. She's a hot girl who loves cars and playing video games - she's probably had boys lining up down the street for the chance to kiss her hand for a while now. Need anything else said?

Radio[edit | hide]

  • You'd think that in a non-visual medium this couldn't happen. One episode of The Shadow, The Voice of Death manages the equivalent. The villain is a man whose voice is so harsh that he was laughed out of university and can't live normally. The audience gets to hear the voice and it clearly a normal voice spoken slightly hoarsely, the audio equivalent of dressing a pretty person in bad glasses.

Theater[edit | hide]

  • Legally Blonde the musical version: The first actress to play the supposedly plain Vivian was Miss America 1998 Kate Shindle.
    • In the original movie, Vivian was played by the beautiful Selma Blair. Elle even admits that Vivienne herself isn't bad looking, but she did have some unflattering clothes and hair.
  • Passion When the Stephen Sondheim musical was in previews, the director James Lapine had great trouble settling on a make-up look for the character Fosca. Fosca is supposed to be ugly, or at least exceedingly plain—that's the entire point of her character—but whenever they used prosthetics to make the actress Donna Murphy look genuinely ugly, the audience lost all sympathy for the character. They ended up making Murphy up in pale "no make-up" make-up, giving her a mole, and dressing her in unflattering clothes; that was as much ugliness as the audience could take. Lest tropers unfamiliar with the work think poorly of those audiences, the character of Fosca isn't exactly beautiful on the inside, either—she has deep psychological scars from a disastrous first marriage, and spends most of the show pursuing a man who has clearly and calmly indicated that 1. He's not interested and 2. He's already in a relationship (with a married woman, but still...). When he finally reciprocates at the end, it's not clear if he has actually learned to love her or if she has simply broken him completely.
  • Wicked the musical adaptation, Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba, is supposed to be so hideous that her father cannot look at her upon her birth. She even describes herself as "ugly". Still, she is played by actresses such as Shoshanna Bean, Eden Espinosa and the incredibly attractive Idina Menzel, with no further pains taken in making her look unattractive than painting her green. There are some. however, who theorize that Elphaba is actually supposed to be pretty. She thinks she's ugly because people look at her funny, and her dad can't look at her because he blames her for her mother's death.
    • Her father can't look at her because SHE IS GREEN! It doesn't really matter how tolerant you are, if your child was born and their skin was the colour green, you'd probably freak out a bit too. Plus there's the fact that in the book, her green skin colour is supposedly the result of her mother's unfaithfulness, which must smart him a bit.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Ace Attorney Given Japanese media's issues with Generic Cuteness, it's noteworthy that the first game avoids this. Will Powers, the defendant in the third case, is, while not a Gonk, genuinely rough-looking and unattractive. Maya, who has never seen him out of his Steel Samurai costume, is more than a little stunned. There are many who find Will's cragginess rather appealing, and the constant hullabaloo about how "frightening" he looks a straight invocation of this trope. The sequel has some more good times on this subject: Will, who lacks the skills or training for anything but television, has been reduced to hosting a children's exercise program in a rabbit costume that hides his face, Will's successor, Matt Engarde, usually looks about as attractively sixteen as you can get (until he pushes back his hair and reveals the rather extreme scar across his eye, which also signals his switch into his real personality as an inhuman, manipulative monster), and Matt's supposed rival, Juan Corrida, is frequently mocked for being ugly and looking so much older than Matt (ie he looks to be in his early-to-mid twenties, which he is, and he looks pretty good for it too). Straight as an arrow.
  • Condemned: Criminal Origins Ethan Thomas is somewhat of an aversion as he looks believable as an average police detective. In Condemned 2: Bloodshot, however, he somehow has become built like a football player despite the fact that he's been spending the year between the two games living as an alcoholic vagabond. The only signifier of his degenerate status is his scruffy facial hair.
  • In the 2012 Twisted Metal remake, this trope is Deconstructed Trope with Dollface. In the new version, she is a former supermodel who gets a (minor) scar on her face, decides that her beauty is ruined (even though everybody, including her doctor, can plainly see that she's wrong), and starts wearing a mask to hide her "imperfection." David Jaffe said that her story is a satire of the extreme standards of beauty that are presented to women by pop culture.
  • This trope is invoked in the superhero game Freedom Force. Shadow is a masked villaness who is obsessed with creating an underground civilization filled with ugly, disfigured people and destroying the attractive surface dwellers. Then her mask comes off, and she s revealed to be a gorgeous former supermodel... with a tiny scar on her cheek. She screams about her hideousness but everyone else agrees she's beautiful...including her deformed minions, who promptly attack her.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 4, Solid Snake is supposed to be so ugly as a result of his accelerated ageing disease that at one point, when he takes his shirt off, he actually makes a grown woman cry. (His younger self was supposed to be a World Class Beauty, and women immediately show interest in him when he's wearing makeup to look like his younger self.) In practice, he still has a great body and finding him more attractive than his younger self is not a niche opinion amongst Solid Snake's generous Estrogen Brigade; people frequently remark that his younger self as it was rendered in Metal Gear Solid 4 looks awkward-looking or even outright ugly, but as an old man he is extremely charismatic.
  • In Dragon Age 2, Aveline asks Isabela how she's able to attract men, given that she's not especially good looking. The tone of both Aveline's question and Isabela's response indicates that this was a serious question, despite Isabela's character model being an Up to Eleven Ms. Fanservice and Aveline herself is quite attractive.

Web Comic[edit | hide]

  • in Better Days, both Marvin and Marissa are treated as being pretty unattractive. Fisk is shocked the instant he sees Marissa, having assumed she got some of the "hereditary hottability" that her cheerleader sister had, and Lucy reacts with pity the instant she sees Elizabeth with Marvin. The trouble is, both of them are drawn in the standard cute animal style, so it's really impossible to tell that they're supposed to be that undesirable.
  • In Nip and Tuck, objecting to this trope is one reason to avoid movie romances.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Gaia Online has a rather odd example. When Timmy came down with "Megapuberty", the users got polled on two options: Revert him to being a child forever, or turn him into an adult. The fans, expecting Gaia's usual Bishounen, voted mostly in favor of adulthood... only to get unpleasantly shocked and begin "Change him back!" protests when Timmy grew up to be a scrawny-looking man with a pornstache, wild hair, and clothes that fit him better as a twelve-year-old. The catch? His new character design is based on a character portrayed by Nicholas Cage, and he'd clean up very nicely... not a Bishounen, but definitely not the disgusting abomination some of the users are complaining about.
  • Nella from team Nostalgia Chick is a Big Beautiful Woman but is treated as repulsive for laughs.
    • The Chick sees herself this way. In fact, it was once revealed that she hired Nella to hang around her specifically so she could feel better about herself.
  • Troll Douchey Mcnitpick is still just Doug Walker in a wig, bad glasses, unflattering shirt and a constant scowl. If he smiled, cut his hair and wore nicer clothes he would be pretty cute. (Until he spoke of course.)
  • A Very Potter Musical Intentionally used for humor, when Harry, Dumbledore, and especially Ron, will deliver entire monologues about the horrid ugliness of Hermione, who is played by a very pretty actress. Draco tries this as well, but the most scathing thing he can come up with is that she's an 8 out of 10 (Maybe an 8.5...No more than a 9.8!)

Ron: It was inevitable that one day Hermione would realize that no guy would ever like her, because of her obnoxious personality, and her ugly face, and her misshapen body, but I figured she'd get in at least one night of happiness before she realized she was going to be growing old alone, you know?

    • Of course, a few minutes after that she enters looking so beautiful that Ron and Draco break into a Counterpoint Duet about how they're falling in love (falling in love, falling in love) with Hermione Granger (Danger...)
    • Happens to Ginny as well. Harry calls her a "butterface" (in the sequel, though) and Harry makes it clear that he doesn't find her attractive, though she's played by a pretty actress. Sally in Me and My Dick, played by the same actress, is treated the same way. It's even lampshaded when after Joey realizes that she's the one for him, and he says "You know, I don't know why I ever thought she was that ugly, she's really not that bad".
  • The Whateley Universe. A majority of the characters are exemplars (that is to say, idealised humans, superhero-beautiful), not to mention those who sport auras and glamours to make themselves even more attractive. Non-examplars, even when they're on a level with otherwise gorgeous baselines like hollywood actors/actresses, don't stand a chance.
    • Example: Aquerna. She's hardly worth a second glance on campus, but the devisers think she's hot, and when she goes home for the holidays with her pal Rhiannon, lots of guys are hitting on her.
  • Feena's avatar of The Gungan Council could be viewed as pretty, yet her character in narrative is described as being borderline ugly.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Batman: The Animated Series / The New Batman Adventures lampshades it beautifully, if a bit anviliciously (but hey, Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped): One Villain of the Week, Calendar Girl, was once a renowned model who was fired for getting old, unable to compete with younger models. She tried to make the transition to acting, and even managed to get the role as a mother on a sitcom, but was subsequently fired from that job when the network decided they wanted a to go in a "younger direction". Eventually, she decides to wreak bloody vengeance on the network and modeling executives who ruined her career, but she had so much plastic surgery done before turning evil that she wears a full-face mask. At the end of the episode Batman defeats her and the police unmask her, whereupon she begins to scream and sob upon the ground. She is in her mid 30s and still quite attractive, even in comparison to other models, but she is absolutely horrified the police can see her "old, ugly" face.

Batgirl: I don't get it, she's beautiful.
Batman: She can't see that anymore. All she can see are the flaws.

  • Daria is a reasonably-attractive girl to anyone with functioning eyes. Subverted in the episode, "Quinn the Brain"; while Daria is generally described as plain or even ugly (by people who believe that All Guys Want Cheerleaders), and usually shows disdain for makeup and clothing, she proves that she can match her fashion-crazed sister Quinn to make a point to her. Extra points for being a Spoof Aesop, since Daria did so in order to set Quinn back on the shallow, airheaded lifestyle Daria so loathed her for, because Quinn being seen as intelligent was a threat to Daria's own self-image.
    • Note that Daria and her pal Jane are the only girls in the school who are drawn with no bust at all.
    • In the episode, "Too Cute", Quinn was convinced that she needed plastic surgery after another girl in school had some work done, and was threatening her position in the Fashion Club. By the episode's climax, Daria had enough and flat out told Quinn she was beautiful and did not need plastic surgery. Quinn, of course, thought she was being sarcastic.
  • The Fairly OddParents Tootie may count as this. Timmy frequently describes her as "creepy" (yeah, she does follow him around, but in one episode, he had a hard time calling her "lovely" without throwing up), but her "ugliness" only seems to be a matter of unflattering glasses, braces, and a rather bland outfit.
    • Cosmo is also considered very ugly.
      • Wanda as well, or at least, fat
  • Family Guy
    • Meg Griffin, who was originally supposed to be rather plain but has been flanderized into being monstrously hideous based on the reactions of those around her. Characters have committed suicide by fire upon sight and have (claimed to) kill family members to generate excuses to avoid her. Of course in the episode, "Don't Make Me Over" all that was easily fixed with a new hairstyle and color, fashionable clothes and make up.
    • The trope is parodied in one episode in which the Griffins star in a reality TV show. Meg is recast and her part played by a gorgeous starlet, but her character is otherwise unchanged. The starlet complains that she'll "never have full beautiful breasts like these," as she gestures toward her generous assets.
    • If there's a Cutaway Gag is about a famous woman, half the time it'll be about how she's an absolute hag.[2] The list of women so insulted includes Helen Hunt, Kirsten Dunst, Sarah Jessica Parker ("she looks like a foot!"), Laura Linney, Laura Dern, Kate Winslet, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and countless others. This has the unfortunate effect of making the writing staff look like misogynists.
  • Kim Possible's Sidekick Ron Stoppable was supposed to appear as a nerdy type of character, but he ended up appearing cute to the viewers. DNAmy is supposed to to be desperately unattractive.
  • Scooby-Doo: Velma Dinkley used to be decidedly plain; her hairstyle was unflattering at best, her face was nothing to get excited over, the sweater she always wore was shapeless, and her figure could generously be described as resembling a barrel on legs. Then (probably because the actress who played her in the live-action movies was pretty good looking herself), when they were making What's New, Scooby-Doo?, they decided that old-school Velma was just too ugly for TV, so they redesigned her. They made tweaks to her face and hair, narrowed her waist down, added a little boob, and made her sweater form-fitting, to the net effect that the once plain-but-smart Velma is now incredibly easy on the eyes.
    • In the recent (2002–present) Scooby-Doo series where Velma makes an appearance, she's been voiced by Mindy Cohn (best known as Natalie from The Facts of Life) in what's probably an unintended subvertesion. Also hilariously Lampshaded in this shampoo commercial featuring Velma before and after using the aforementioned shampoo. Let's give props to Wilma Flintstone and Jane Jetson in that commercial, too.
    • In the second season episode A Tiki Scare Is No Fair, Shaggy and Velma dress up as Tarzan and Jane. It might not be up to Daphne standards, but she's definitely been hiding something under that sweater. She wasn't hard to look at doing the hula at the end, either.
    • Of course no one in the series ever explicitly states that she is unattractive so in this case Velma might not represent this trope
    • In an episode of Scooby Doo Mystery Inc, a landlady wouldn't let Velma sleep in the same room as Daphne because she thought she was a boy.
  • South Park: Subverted in an episode where Kyle is determined to be the ugliest boy in his class by the girls and is forced to hang out with the other ugly kids. Kyle leads an impassioned speech about how they're just as good as anyone else, and what they need is a makeover. He turns to the girl of the group and starts with the time-honored Hollywood tradition of taking away her glasses... which reveals that she has small, squinty eyes. Kyle just slowly puts the glasses back on, his plans utterly destroyed. This is further subverted by the fact that Kyle really isn't the ugliest kid in the class; furthermore, an unaired clip reveals that Cartman was the ugliest kid on the list, which makes sense, because he actually does look ugliest.
  • Fiona's ogre form in the Shrek movies (and Shrek himself, to some extent). Apparently, she's supposed to be hideous, but she merely looks slightly chubbier and green. In this case she was beautiful to Shrek, and by the end of the movie she preferred the Ogre form, so it was more of a case of in-universe Values Dissonance.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Irma. Glasses? Ponytail? Baggy clothes? Check check and check - now everyone will know she's supposed to be the ugly one. Okay, always being around April probably didn't help, but was she really deserving of this piece:

Leonardo(suffering from amnesia): Fear not, beautiful maiden; I'll save you!
Donatello: Irma? Beautiful?
Raphael: The poor guy got konked harder than we thought.

  • In one episode of The Simpsons, Moe auditions for a role on a soap opera.

TV Exec: I said Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island ugly, not Cornelius in Planet of the Apes ugly! You know, TV ugly!

  1. Raj, incidentally, has no problem attracting women, just talking to them while he's still sober.
  2. The other half are about her being a giant bitch