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[[caption-width-right:350:The real Queen Christina of Sweden, and Creator/GretaGarbo playing her in the [[Film/QueenChristina 1933 film]].]]
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->''"And needless to say, [John Smith] was a short, portly brown-head -- Not the golden-haired Adonis we see before us in the movie."''
-->-- '''WebVideo/TheNostalgiaChick''' on ''Disney/{{Pocahontas}}''

In a nutshell, this is the tendency to make {{Historical Domain Character}}s look much better in movies/comics than they actually did (or are reported to have been by the sources of their time), and/or to fit their looks to the standard of the culture the work is made for.

Even when sources state that someone was attractive, this was of course according to the standards of their contemporaries. Certain characteristics, such as clear skin, shiny hair and a certain evenness of the face are universally liked, as they show health. The assessment of all the rest (body type, skin color, facial features) though, varies with the vogue of the time and place. While some of the clothing people used to wear is seen as GorgeousPeriodDress, other fashion and hairstyle choices were also not exactly in line with current tastes.

A visual {{Woolseyism}}. A historical figure regarded as attractive by contemporaries is depicted as attractive according to modern standards, preventing his/her good looks from becoming InformedAttractiveness.

MedievalMorons is as unrealistic as TheBeautifulElite, but the population of former times certainly lacked the comforts of modern technology and therefore, unless stated otherwise, it is safe to assume that the "hero" of one's story carried the marks of a harsh life without proper medicine and full of dangers and hard physical labour; [[FridgeHorror and no toothpaste either]] - though it was only the advent of (cane) sugar that really led to bad teeth en masse.[[note]]Incidentally, the top producer, exporter, and consumer of cane sugar for a long time was the British Empire, via its Caribbean island plantations; this is why we also have the BritishTeeth trope.[[/note]]

One would think the advent of photography might curb this practice, but in the end we all just love looking at attractive people too much to let little things like actual history keep us from imagining them as gorgeous. This trope is of course one of the oldest ones there is. When no one knows how the historical person really looked like, all bets are off.

There are several reasons for this trope. Actors and Actresses are in a profession where good looks are an asset and they preselect for that, rather like how Athletes are in better shape than the norm, lawyers and politicians are better at public speaking etc etc. So the group playing the part is already containing a higher portion of good looking people.

Moreover, actors take a lot better care of their appearance and have a whole staff dedicated 24/7 to making them look good and sprucing up their looks. This is far more than even the most self conscious dandy would have and certainly greater than the time and effort than what an average non-actor (which is what most of the real life individual they are portraying would be) would be able to or willing to spend.

Compare HistoricalHeroUpgrade, BeautyEqualsGoodness, AdaptationalAttractiveness, HollywoodHomely, and HotterAndSexier.

!!Examples using real people

[[folder:Media in General / Common Persons]]
* UsefulNotes/CalamityJane was often mistaken for a man, and not just because she often wore men's clothing. However, she's been played by [[http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2008/06/15/article-0-0027576E00000258-645_233x264.jpg Doris Day]]. ''Series/{{Deadwood}}'' goes part of the way toward averting this, and even has Jane tell an anecdote about being mistaken for a man, but Robin Weigert is still far more attractive than the real thing. Not to mention the FieryRedhead she's in the animated series ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfCalamityJane''.
* UsefulNotes/CleopatraVII: [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3e/Kleopatra-VII.-Altes-Museum-Berlin1.jpg/452px-Kleopatra-VII.-Altes-Museum-Berlin1.jpg Cleopatra]] was subject to this even in her own day. The legend of her beauty comes partially from [[UsefulNotes/{{Augustus}} Octavian]]'s propaganda that Marc Antony had been bewitched by her. Over the years, Cleopatra is typically portrayed as each generation's version of their ideal beauty. She's sometimes even given a RaceLift, despite the fact that she was of Macedonian descent. However, portraits of her give her a noticeably large nose; there is even an oft-repeated famous quip about what a long nose Cleo had. Plutarch describes her as not particularly attractive, but with a beautiful voice and charming personality. Creator/{{Cicero}} also downplays her appearance, though he is a biased source.
* UsefulNotes/MaximilienRobespierre, though this definitely influenced by the sympathies of the artist or casting director. Portraits during his rise to power show him as quite attractive, while he gets less attractive during his downfall. When he's given the HistoricalVillainUpgrade, he's often shown as quite ugly. In the interest of [[{{Anvilicious}} making its point]], the ''[[ComicBook/TheSandman Sandman]]'' chapter titled "Thermidor" makes him appear decidedly overweight as well.
* Saint-Just. Unfortunately, people tend to take Saint-Just's physical appearance (long-haired, young, fairly attractive, gold hoop earrings) and extrapolate his personality off of it. This makes him him into something of a hippie. Or, of course, they might exaggerate the original and ''also'' make him a gay Communist pedophile with rage issues.
* Creator/JaneAusten.
** For a recent edition of one of her books, one of the very few existing pictures finally made it to its traditional place over the back cover blurb. The picture is a pencil drawing, showing her with a somewhat critical/thoughtful expression and a cap, which was usually out-of-doors daywear in her period. On the "improved" one, she's barely recognizable, has the standard perfectly smooth face and no cap.
** In ''Becoming Jane'', she is portrayed by, of all people, Creator/AnneHathaway.
** Inverted in ''Radio/OldHarrysGame'', though this could simply be because she's in Hell.
* UsefulNotes/MaryQueenOfScots - at least, if her early portraits are to be believed, was quite beautiful when she first entered Scotland, but most depictions of her that are even halfway sympathetic portray her as still being pretty up until her execution, when in real life she had started to wear a wig and no doubt suffered from the lead-based makeup popular at the time.
* [[UsefulNotes/ElizabethI Elizabeth I of England]] is often portrayed by beautiful actresses, though in her youth she ''was'' praised as being unconventionally beautiful.
* UsefulNotes/AnneBoleyn also tends to get some judicious upgrading. While the famous reports of her gigantic mole and extra finger are now considered mostly disreputable, more reliable contemporary descriptions suggest that she was, at best, a mildly attractive woman with striking eyes. Her powerful personality seems to have been the real attraction. She's been portrayed by screen beauties such as Genevieve Bujold, Creator/VanessaRedgrave, Creator/NataliePortman and Creator/NatalieDormer.
* UsefulNotes/AbrahamLincoln is generally treated with a variation of this. Though it is well-known from photographs what he looked like (i.e. ugly), and he [[SelfDeprecation self-deprecated]] his own looks[[note]]"In my poor, lean lank face nobody has ever seen that any cabbages were sprouting."[[/note]], he lived before sound recording. Because he was wise and solemn and had gravitas, he is almost always portrayed as having a deep, reassuring voice. Contemporary accounts, however, report that his voice was unusually high-pitched and sharp. His poor looks and voice are hardly ever used in media deceptions outside of the rare documentary and Creator/StevenSpielberg's ''{{Film/Lincoln}}''.
* Typically inverted with, UsefulNotes/RichardIII, who probably looked something like [[http://sandraworth.com/images/RICHARDIIIbasedonfacialrec.jpg this]], but due to revisionist, partisan historians, we typically remember him as a deformed and ugly man.
** Inverted with ''Theatre/RichardIII'' by Creator/WilliamShakespeare where the handsome Richard was turned into a palsied, foul hunchback. But Shakespeare was writing the play for the royalty descended from those who defeated Richard. In [[Film/RichardIII the 1995 movie]] (where he's played by Creator/IanMcKellen) he also is made to look a great deal like UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler, not surprising as the film in set in the 1930s and the House of York is shown quite consciously modeling itself on the National Front (British Nazi sympathizers in the '30s).
** Sharon Kay Penman's revisionist novel ''Literature/TheSunneInSplendour'' takes this route straight, with a rather {{bishonen}} Richard.
* TheShinsengumi as a whole but especially Okita Souji who tends to be depicted as extremely {{bishonen}} (so much that sometimes a female actor depicts him in live action). However contemporary accounts describe him as a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okita_Souji tall, dark, and thin man with high cheekbones, a wide mouth, and a "flatfish" face.]] Most of the Shinsengumi members of whom the photos survived or existed (including Okita, but excepting [[FairCop Hijikata]], who ''was'' [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ee/Hijikata_Toshizo.jpg a strikingly handsome man]] in RealLife) were of relatively ordinary appearance, but the cake probably goes to Hajime Saitou, whose two conflicting portraits showed him either [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3f/Onlysaitophoto.JPG plain]], or [[{{Gonk}} downright]] [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/54/Realsaitou-2.jpg ugly]], but his [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sait%C5%8D_Hajime#/media/File:Goro_Fujita_aka_Hajime_Saito.jpg real portrait]] shows him reasonably attractive as an old man.
* Boudica, the British queen who rebelled against Roman rule, was noted for her imposing height and bearing, and, of course, her iconic red hair, but later depictions tend to place her very definitely in AmazonianBeauty territory. A rare exception is the eponymous 2003 British production (known as "Warrior Queen" in the United States), which starred the attractive but believable Alex Kingston.
* Count Vronsky, the romantic hero of ''Anna Karenina'', is depicted in the text as balding and with a mouthful of rotten teeth. Don't expect either of these characteristics to make it into any dramatization. Bad dental hygiene was commonplace in Russia (and most of Europe) at that time, so contemporary audiences would not have seen any Narm in this depiction of an accomplished seducer.
* Recently, there was [[http://www.heraldsun.com.au/opinion/shallow-mary-makeover/story-e6frfhqf-1225813827425 some controversy]] surrounding the Catholic church's decision to photoshop pictures of Saint Mary [=Mackillop=] to make her more "appealing" for merchandising reasons. She went from a "[[http://blogs.abc.net.au/nt/images/2008/07/16/mary_mackillop_2.jpg frumpy elderly nun]]" to a [[http://www.heraldsun.com.au/opinion/shallow-mary-makeover/story-e6frfhqf-1225813827425 beautiful young woman with piercing dark eyes]].
* [[http://www.infoans.org/1.asp?sez=1&sotSez=13&doc=4786&lingua=2 Blessed Laura Vicuña]] used to be represented as a conventionally cute, pale-skinned and ''very'' European-looking pre-teen girl thanks to a famous portrait by an Italian painter, which was even used in her official beatification ceremony; said artist's work was based on a ''very'' unreliable and idealised description by Laura's surviving younger sister Julia (who was a little girl when Laura died), given to him ''decades'' after Laura's early death. In TheNineties, one of Laura's biographies had a group photo of a group of schoolgirls that included a Laura [[http://www.infoans.org/1.asp?sez=1&sotSez=13&doc=6852&lingua=2 who did NOT look like the until-then official portrait]]; years later, an investigation team confirmed that the real Laura was a dark-skinned pre-teenager with Native looks, instead of the white-looking little girl everyone knew.
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Goretti Saint Maria Teresa "Marietta" Goretti]] was reportedly rather cute, but she was still a country girl who lived a rather hard life and [[http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4012/4651407474_0fc977dc6c.jpg more or less looked like this]]. A good part of the artwork featuring her tends to [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/33/Vis%C3%A9_Maria_Goretti.jpg/220px-Vis%C3%A9_Maria_Goretti.jpg make]] [[http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-95U_nCndzf8/T_azVHZG2HI/AAAAAAAAJNM/pJjOSnW8U1I/s1600/MariaGoretti1.jpg her]] [[http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-YHkYFEUIeBk/T_gnK_k4uiI/AAAAAAAAALM/n96W0om2biQ/s1600/st_maria_goretti150.jpg much prettier]]. (Fully sealed with by the ''very'' cute child actresses [[http://www.nettunocitta.it/OPERE/maria%20goretti/foto/maria-goretti-193.jpg Ines Orsini]] and [[http://www.nettunocitta.it/OPERE/maria%20goretti/foto/maria-goretti-194.jpg Martina Pinto]] playing her.)
* UsefulNotes/JesusChrist is typically portrayed according to the local cultural ideal. Western artists typically portray him as a tall, slender, regal man with high cheekbones, strong jaw, straight nose, soulful blue eyes, wavy long hair (usually auburn or reddish-brown in color) and a neatly trimmed beard. It's likely that, as a first-century Middle Eastern Jew, he would have had swarthy skin, dark hair and eyes, short curly hair and a beard, though how attractive he was is never mentioned. The Gospel of Matthew states that Roman soldiers were unable to tell Jesus apart from his disciples, and even his own disciples had difficulty recognizing him after the crucifixion, suggesting that Jesus had an unremarkable appearance. In fact, a passage in Isaiah suggests that Jesus was, in actuality, rather ''un''attractive if anything[[note]]The reason being so that no one would lust after him or, more mildly, so people wouldn't follow him only because of his charisma.[[/note]]. It has also been suggested that, due to ambiguous translation, in the book of Luke it could be Jesus being described as short rather than Zacchaeus the tax collector. Idealized portrayals include:
** Creator/LeonardoDaVinci's "Last Supper" painting. Like all artists of his time and before, Leonardo usually painted mythical figures as what his patrons envision if for no other reason than practicality.
** Any number of tall, blond, blue-eyed Jesuses in any number of stained glass windows in any number of churches.
** In the film ''Film/KingOfKings'', Jesus (as played by Jeffrey Hunter) has a full-body PermaShave and incredibly sleek, shiny hair.
** The miniseries ''Series/JesusOfNazareth'' by Franco Zeffirelli has the rather nice-looking Robert Powell as Jesus.
* UsefulNotes/AmeliaEarhart's celebrity played on her good looks, which were compared favorably to the handsome Charles Lindbergh. She was also a genuine fashion icon of her day. Because of her reputation, she's always played by beautiful actresses who are far more flawless than she actually was.
* Inverted with UsefulNotes/LouisXVI, who is often portrayed as short and squat. While he did have a prounounced belly, his actual height was 6 Feet 3 Inches (French measures) or ca. 193 cm, which was very tall for his time.
* Very, very few accounts exist of the appearance of the 18th century British officer Robert Rogers, leader of several provincial militia and light infantry companies in the UsefulNotes/FrenchAndIndianWar and the UsefulNotes/AmericanRevolution. It's still not entirely known what he looked like at all, but British press and artists romanticized him as a combination of a Native American warrior and a stoic Roman soldier. Such portrayals have been declared by historians as completely inaccurate.
** Another British officer to fall into this is the well-known (or notorious to the American side) was skilled and feared cavalry commander [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banastre_Tarleton Banastre Tarleton]]. Though in reality he was known to have red hair, a relatively pale complexion, and a generally effeminate appearance and mannerisms, even by 1700s standards, portraits of him cast him as much more masculine, with black hair and more pronounced features, as well as darker skin than in reality.

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Anime/RoseOfVersailles'' is a textbook example of this. Virtually every HistoricalDomainCharacter is just as much TheBeautifulElite as the original characters. Admittedly, in Parisian society at the time, one pretty much ''had'' to be breathtaking at every public event, but this being a shojo series, {{Bishie Sparkle}}s abound.
* ''Manga/BlackButler'' has Sir Creator/ArthurConanDoyle as a major character in a recent arc. Instead of a guy with a bushy [[http://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/images/sir-arthur-conan-doyle-1.jpg mustache]], he's a clean shaven [[http://www.mangareader.net/102-40442-18/kuroshitsuji/chapter-39.html bishounen]].
** Possibly justified by the fact that this Arthur Conan Doyle is implied to be a young version and will ''grow up'' to be the famous writer.
* In a similar vein, ''Manga/RurouniKenshin'' was known to portray historical figures in more flattering means. Observe:
** [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/29/Yamagata_Aritomo.jpg The historical Yamagata Aritomo]] - [[http://www.nautiljon.com/images/perso/8/9/2/mini/aritomo_yamagata_298.jpg The RK anime Yamagata Aritomo]]
** [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/88/Kido_Takayoshi_1869.jpg The historical Katsura Kogoro]] - [[http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Katsura_4803.jpg The Tsuiokuhen Katsura Kogoro]]
** [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c8/Shinsaku_Takasugi.jpg The historical Takasugi Shinsaku]] - [[http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Takasugi_1179.jpg The Tsuiokuhen Takasugi Shinsaku]]
** [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ae/Toshimichi_Okubo_4.jpg The historical Okubo Toshimichi]] - [[http://www.mangarush.com/files/mangas/rurouni-kenshin/55/1.jpg The RK manga/anime Okubo Toshimichi]]
** Although it should be noted that these were not intended to make them look more flattering. The author at least blames it on lack of reference pictures most of the time.
* Creator/AlexanderPushkin looks better in Creator/ChihoSaito's ''Bronze no Tenshi'' than he did in RealLife.
* ''Bungaku Daishi'' or 'Male Literary Figures' is a book published with manga art profiling famous authors - Creator/MarquisdeSade, Creator/FranzKafka, Creator/HansChristianAndersen, [[Literature/WarAndPeace Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy]], poet Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud, Junichirō Tanizaki (''Literature/TheMakiokaSisters''), [[Literature/DonQuixote Miguel de Cervantes]], Creator/TheBrothersGrimm, and poet Charles Pierre Baudelaire... All of them are [[http://natalie.mu/comic/gallery/show/news_id/52885/image_id/83911 depicted]] as {{bishonen}}.
** In a similar vein, Atsushi Nakajima (''The Moon Over the Mountain''), Osamu Dazai (''No Longer Human''), the aforementioned Tanizaki and many more authors are adapted into superpowered bishonen in ''Manga/BungouStrayDogs''. Female authors such as Akiko Yosano (''Thou Shalt Not Die'') also get adapted.
* ''Manga/AfterschoolCharisma'': A manga populated by the teenage clones of various famous people, all of whom are uniformly gorgeous. Some of them are people who were well-known for being beautiful in real life, but "gorgeous bishie teenage Freud" and "gorgeous bishie teenage Napoleon" kind of strain credulity.
** Lampshaded in volume 3 where it is implied that the originals were not that beautiful and it was the cloning process that made them that way.
* Similar to ''Anime/RoseOfVersailles'', every HistoricDomainCharacter in ''Manga/AnatoliaStory'' is completely ''gorgeous'', despite the story taking place in a time period not even in the Iron Age and having most of said characters be involved with military campaigns. Interestingly, the fact that so many people gush over how beautiful and flawless and soft Yuri's skin is (as one would expect from a teenage girl in modern times who hasn't done much hard labor) suggests that such qualities ''are'' considered rare enough that it's considered a major point of beauty for her.
* ''Anime/{{Classicaloid}}'' does this with composers. One of Pad-kun's conventions is to show a picture of the real life composer when their Mujik is first introduced, which does make for a jarring contrast for some of them (especially the GenderFlip versions).

[[folder:Animated - Film]]
* ''Disney/{{Pocahontas}}'':
** John Smith's appearance was changed to suit modern tastes, giving him a leonine mane of blonde hair. The real John Smith had a very out-of-date beard, and who knows what he looked like beneath that thing. As a career soldier and explorer, however, he was probably quite fit.
** Pocahontas is turned into a Native-American runway model rather than the [[AgeLift 12-year old]] she really was at the time of their meeting. When she visited England, years later, she looked like [[http://xroads.virginia.edu/~CAP/PIX/pocahontas.gif this]].

[[folder:Live Action - Film]]
* ''Film/IronJawedAngels'' is a pretty emotionally intense retelling of the victorious last years of the Woman's Suffrage Movement. And, of course, many of the Suffragettes were very beautiful, but they certainly weren't that smokin' hot.
* The 2006 film ''Film/LonelyHearts'' was about [[http://www.serialkillersmurders.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Raymond-Fernadez-Martha-Beck.jpg Martha Beck and Raymond Fernandez]]. It starred Creator/SalmaHayek and Creator/JaredLeto. Also a RaceLift, as Beck was Caucasian and Fernandez was Spanish.
* Elizabeth's sister UsefulNotes/MaryTudor is often subject to inversions. She was said to be fairly pretty in her youth and average as she got older but adaptations often portray her as the ugly sister since any adaptation that has the two sisters will automatically have [[BeautyEqualsGoodness Elizabeth as the sympathetic one]]. She was portrayed as fat, too, in ''Elizabeth'', whereas (at least until the cancer bloated her) the RealLife Mary was a rail-thin waif who made even the svelte Elizabeth look plump.
* ''Film/{{Alexander}}'': You don't really think the mother of UsefulNotes/AlexanderTheGreat, Queen Olympias, really looked like Creator/AngelinaJolie, do you? In any case, historical record has her as a very pale redhead. On the other hand she was beautiful enough to inspire Philip II with a case of the hots at first sight.
* Debbie Reynolds as ''The Unsinkable Molly Brown''. Creator/KathyBates in ''Film/{{Titanic 1997}}'' was much closer to [[https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/4f/a5/78/4fa578227336f5f085f989d481fe5da6.jpg the genuine article]], but still prettied up a bit.
* Nicky Arnstein in ''Film/FunnyGirl'', and some would also claim the title character falls prey to this. It's hard to say, though, that [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Barbra_Streisand_1962.jpg Barbra Streisand]] is significantly more or less attractive than [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fannybricebain.jpg Fanny Brice]].
* Creator/GretaGarbo playing [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christina_of_Sweden Queen Christina of Sweden]] in ''Film/QueenChristina''. Contemporary paintings and descriptions presented the queen as fairly ugly and butch. She also had traditionally male-like mannerisms, interests and way of dressing. All this has led some historians to speculate that she may have actually been biologically intersex.
* ''Film/RedCliff'' does this for several figures of the Three Kingdoms era in China. Both Takeshi Kaneshiro (Zhuge Liang) and Chang Chen (Sun Quan) have been "spokesmodels" in addition to their careers as actors. On the other hand, Zhou Yu (Tony Leung) and Xiao Qiao (Lin Chiling) ''are'' remembered as being attractive.
* [[MySoCalledLife Claire Danes]] playing autistic Temple Grandin in the [[Film/TempleGrandin film of the same name]]. While they don't really look like, Danes was able to imitate Grandin's voice perfectly despite getting to meet her only once.
* ''Film/{{Fair Game|2010}}'': Valerie Plame isn't a bad-looking woman by any means, but compared to Creator/NaomiWatts, well, there just is no comparison.
* Creator/ClintEastwood's 1920s period piece ''Film/{{Changeling}}'' had Christine Collins, a very ordinary-looking woman, played by Creator/AngelinaJolie.
* In the German movie ''Jew Suss: Rise and Fall'', not really ugly actor Moritz Bleibtreu plays Joseph Goebbels, of all people! It's possibly a case of the casting subverting BeautyEqualsGoodness, since the real Goebbels was not that ugly-looking, it is just that many of the photographs of him show him either frowning or with distorted features while delivering one of his hate-filled speeches. Note that the actor who played his expy Garbitsch in ''Film/TheGreatDictator'' looked quite a bit more handsome than Hynkel (Hitler) or Herring (Goering).
* ''Film/{{Monster}}'' Tyria Moore was overweight and rather butch in appearance, while in the film she is replaced by a much more feminine and attractive character named Selby Wall, played by Christina Ricci. The film does, however, notably avert the trope with an uglied-up Creator/CharlizeTheron playing Aileen Wuornos.
* Film/TheRunaways. Compare [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMDn6V7ZLhE this]] to [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNNp5GyzlKc this]].
* Has happened many times with Creator/JohnnyDepp: he's played [[http://www.xomba.com/files/images/jung.preview.png George Jung]] in ''Film/{{Blow}}'', [[http://kjzz.org/news/arizona/archives/200906/johndillinger/johndillinger.jpg John Dillinger]] in ''Film/PublicEnemies'', [[http://rpmedia.ask.com/ts?u=/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9c/James_Matthew_Barrie00.jpg/200px-James_Matthew_Barrie00.jpg J.M. Barrie]] in ''Film/FindingNeverland'', [[http://image1.findagrave.com/photos250/photos/2009/6/15017132_123133453393.jpg Frederick Abberline]] in ''Film/FromHell'' and [[http://www.crimeandinvestigation.co.uk/crime-files/donnie-brasco/biography/mainContent/0/image/Donnie-Brasco-%28200x200%29.jpg Joseph D. Pistone]] in ''Film/DonnieBrasco'', all of whom were arguably somewhat less attractive than the man himself. However, he bears a reasonable actual resemblance to other people he's played, including [[http://www.hollywoodcultmovies.com/assets/images/EdWood1.jpg Ed Wood]], and he's also always up for making himself less attractive in roles, like when he accurately portrayed John Wilmot's horrible death from syphilis in ''Film/TheLibertine.'' [[DoingItForTheArt He also wanted to have]] huge ears and a fake nose in ''Film/SleepyHollow'' and a badly-reattached nose in ''Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanTheCurseOfTheBlackPearl''. The studio execs said no in both cases, obviously understanding the box office power of having him be MrFanservice.
* Creator/{{Beyonce}} plays famed icon Etta James in ''Cadillac Records'' (2008). [[https://bossip.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/ettab-e1327098709967.jpg This comparison]] shows that Mrs. James, while still lovely, wasn't exactly,...well, ''Beyoncé''
* ''Film/AmazingGrace'', In which we have the short-even-by-the-standards-of-the-time, very near-sighted [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/eb/William_wilberforce.jpg William Wilberforce]], portrayed by [[http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-images/Film/Pix/gallery/2007/03/05/WilliamWilberforce3.jpg Ioan Gruffudd]]. In real life, Thomas Clarkson was, while not terrible-looking, definitely [[http://thelouvertureproject.org/images/thumb/d/dc/Thomas_clarkson.jpg/180px-Thomas_clarkson.jpg a bit]] [[http://old.antislavery.org/2007/images/clarkson.jpg overweight]]. The movie had [[http://www.brh.org.uk/articles/images/ag3.jpg Rufus Sewell in an unflattering wig]].
* From the movie ''Film/{{Downfall}}'': Compare the real [[http://www.history.ucsb.edu/faculty/marcuse/classes/133d/essays/images/JungePortrait.jpg Traudl Junge]], with this [[http://images.wikia.com/hitlerparody/images/e/e2/Traudl.jpg one.]]
* Creator/MerylStreep as ''UsefulNotes/MargaretThatcher''. [[http://www.inquisitr.com/wp-content/2011/11/meryl-streep.jpg Here's a comparison.]]
* [[http://contents.pep.ph/images2/guide/123ad587b.jpg Meryl Streep]] as [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Julia_Child_restore.jpg Julia Child]].
* Colin Farrell as John Smith in ''Film/TheNewWorld''. At least they got his hair color right.
* Averted in ComicBook/AmericanSplendor, which not only had the actual people play themselves at several points but when they weren't went through the effort of actually making the actors resemble the people they were playing.
* {{Film/Gettysburg}} also averted this by going the extra mile of actually making the actors as close as possible to their real-life counterparts. In fact the opening credits even emphasize this by showing each actor's name accompanied by a photo of the person they are playing- and then fading to a picture of the same person in a similar pose- as portrayed by whichever actor in the movie. Most (if not all) of them are almost identical, aided by the full beards popular at the time.
** Check out [[http://gettysburg.umwblogs.org/files/2012/11/stephen1.jpg Stephen Lang]] [[http://gettysburg.umwblogs.org/files/2012/11/George-Pickett1.jpg as George Pickett.]]
* While ''{{Film/Patton}}'' got the physical appearance of the main character down, the real General Patton had a weak, rather high-pitched voice and reportedly hated giving public speeches. Meanwhile, one of the best remembered parts of the movie is Patton's confident speech in a deep, growling voice.
* Creator/LiamNeeson is ''much'' more handsome than the real Professor Alfred Kinsey, whom he portrayed in ''Kinsey''. The man himself looked rather like a slightly overweight William H. Macy. He's also more handsome in ''Film/SchindlersList'' than the real life Oskar Schindler, who was apparently something of a KavorkaMan.
* ''UsefulNotes/NedKelly''
** [[http://www.ironoutlaw.com/assets/Gang_Byrne.jpg This]] is Australian outlaw Joe Byrne. Not a bad looking guy, actually. [[http://content9.flixster.com/poll/17/30/173055_std.jpg This]] is Joe Byrne as portrayed by Orlando Bloom.
** [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cc/Ned_Kelly_in_1880.png This]] is what Ned Kelly looked like. [[http://mozi-iz.freeblog.hu/files/1heath-ned-kelly.jpg This]] is what he looked like being played by Creator/HeathLedger. (though Heath ''did'' get a beard later on in the film).
** He didn't look like Music/MickJagger either, [[http://l7.alamy.com/zooms/d1c4019fc88f4da8bdc96d64e565e417/mick-jagger-ned-kelly-1970-bpja4j.jpg not even if Jagger had a beard.]]
* Mostly averted in ''Film/{{Argo}}.'' The actors playing the six diplomats in hiding look a ''lot'' like the actual people. By contrast, Affleck does not look much like Mendez (though Mendez was and is reasonably good-looking.)
* ''Film/ButchCassidyAndTheSundanceKid'': Creator/PaulNewman played [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Butchcassidy.jpg Butch]], Creator/RobertRedford and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Katharine_Ross_1966.JPG Katharine Ross]] the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sundance_Kid_and_wife-clean.jpg Kid and Etta]].
* ''Film/TheBaaderMeinhofComplex'': The [[http://www.prabhupada.de/Rettershof/Polizei/Baader-Meinhof.jpg real]] Baader and Meinhof were a bit less photogenic than the [[http://www.vitagraphfilms.com/images/Baader-Meinhof_Photos/Hi-Res/Baader&Meinhof.jpg movie]] Baader and Meinhof.
* ''Film/TheSocialNetwork'': While played straight with Mark Zuckerberg, Shawn Parker and Eduardo Saverin, who are played by Creator/JesseEisenberg, Music/JustinTimberlake and Creator/AndrewGarfield, respectively, it's inverted with Divya Narendra. Aside from the RaceLift, the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MaxMinghella2006.jpg actor who played him]] doesn't have anything near his chiseled features in [[http://i.ytimg.com/vi/ztbIUFEZFJQ/0.jpg real]] [[http://im.rediff.com/movies/2010/nov/15divya.jpg life]].
* [[http://s3.amazonaws.com/findagrave/photos/2001/242/975_999281021.jpg Belle Starr, in real life.]] [[http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mc26cksIb61qic5j2o1_500.jpg Belle Starr, as played by Gene Tierney.]]
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Eric_Bana_at_the_2009_Tribeca_Film_Festival.jpg Eric Bana's]] portrayal of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hans_Holbein,_the_Younger,_Around_1497-1543_-_Portrait_of_Henry_VIII_of_England_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg Henry VIII]] in ''Film/TheOtherBoleynGirl''. WordOfGod justifies the portrayal as somewhat accurate, as Henry was an athletic soldier and horseman when he was younger. The better-known 300-pound crazy man was later in life, due to health issues including a jousting injury.
* ''Film/{{Apollo 13}}'': [[http://images5.fanpop.com/image/photos/28000000/gary-sinise-als-ken-mattingly-gary-sinise-28044677-1184-1374.jpg Gary Sinise]] as [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/52/Mattingly_Ken.jpg Ken Mattingly]].
* Compare the [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/af/Vlad_Tepes_002.jpg actual Vlad the Impaler]] with the [[http://newnownext.mtvnimages.com/2014/09/dracula-untold-luke-evans-2.jpg movie version]] in ''Film/DraculaUntold''.
* ''Film/TheWindAndTheLion'': Raisuli, a Berber bandit, is played as a dashing rogue by Creator/SeanConnery. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulai_Ahmed_er_Raisuni#mediaviewer/File:Raisuli.JPG This]] is what the Raisuli actually looked like.
* [[http://literofilia.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Mar%C3%ADa-Felix3.png Glamourous Mexican diva María Félix]] in the 1944 movie ''La monja alférez'' (The Ensign Nun) about [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9f/Catalina_de_Erauso.jpg Catalina de Erauso]].
* ''Film/TheImitationGame'': Creator/BenedictCumberbatch and Creator/KeiraKnightley are considerably better looking than their characters' real-life counterparts (Alan Turing and Joan Clarke, respectively). Alan Turing in particular was a bit of a slob rather than the SharpDressedMan he's depicted as in the film.
* Creator/NataliePortman as [[http://www.breitbart.com/big-hollywood/2015/05/08/natalie-portman-to-feminist-icon-play-ruth-bader-ginsberg-in-new-film/ Ruth Bader Ginsberg]] in the upcoming ''On The Basis Of Sex.'' Given that she is portraying her [[https://www.google.com/search?q=ruth+bader+ginsburg+young&biw=1366&bih=667&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAWoVChMI9NnXqLf9yAIVCOcmCh135gkO#imgrc=_ in her youth]], it may not be so far off.
* For ''Film/TheBlingRing'' Nick Prugo described Claire Julien playing Chloe (based off Courtney Ames) as being "way hotter than [Courtney is] in real life".
* The 1975 Czech/Yugoslav production on the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, "The Day That Shook The World", starred ChristopherPlummer as the Archduke and Brazilian actress Florinda Bolkan as his wife, Duchess Sophie. Bolkan is a good lookalike for the Duchess (one of the more accurate portrayals, in fact; the dark-haired Sophie has previously been portrayed by ''blonde'' actresses Luise Ullrich and Lucyna Winnicka), but Plummer is distinctly more handsome than Franz Ferdinand, with a more clipped mustache (and also lacks the characteristic "Habsburg lip"). Both Plummer and Bolkan are also thinner than the historical personages they play.
* Inverted in {{Annabelle}}. The cursed doll featured in the Warrens' museum is actually a cute little Raggedy Ann doll. A combination of being unable to get the rights to Raggedy Ann's image and a desire for a doll that actually looked scary resulted in the eponymous doll's appearance.
** Speaking of the Warren's, [[http://www.higgypop.com/assets/56e33c82570eb_1457732738_5.jpg Ed and Lorraine]] are played by Hollywood beautiful people [[https://www.scifinow.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/the-conjuring-true-story-vera-farmiga-patrick-wilson.jpg Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga]] in ''Film/TheConjuring'' films.
* ''Film/HiddenFigures'':
** Mary Jackson was HollywoodPudgy and not particularly stunning looking when she worked at NASA. Janelle Monae is slimmer and more attractive, which is especially notable when the real pictures of Mary appear at the end.
** John Glenn was also in his forties when he went up into space. Creator/GlenPowell was twenty-seven.
* ''Film/YoungBess'':
** UsefulNotes/CatherineParr was average looking and said to be "past her bloom" when Henry VIII married her, since she was in her early thirties. She's played by screen beauty Creator/DeborahKerr, who was a full six years younger than Catherine was.
** Tom Seymour portrayed by screen charmer Stewart Granger.

* Creator/MichaelCrichton's novel ''Literature/{{Timeline}}'' nicely plays with this trope in one chapter, in which the inventors of the time-traveling device present film footage of historical events, which they recorded in secret while being there. The first film shows UsefulNotes/AbrahamLincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address in a nasal voice, which he is actually said to have had. The second film shows UsefulNotes/GeorgeWashington crossing the Delaware in the rain, sitting in a corner and wrapped in his mantle, rather than striking the painting's iconic pose.
* In Creator/JTEdson's ''Calamity Jane'' novels, UsefulNotes/CalamityJane is a stacked blonde who dresses in skintight buckskins. This is at odds with photographs of the historical Calamity Jane, who could charitably described as plain.
** This trope also applies to Edson's version of the outlaw Belle Starr.
* Played with and discussed in ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' "Elfangor's Secret". The kids realize that the guy they're looking for in the middle of the Battle of Agincourt is going to be the guy who looks clean and has good teeth and no sores. They also talk about it after landing on the banks of the Delaware during the Washington crossing the Delaware scene.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/BoardwalkEmpire'' is guilty of this with a few historical gangsters (particularly the ones who are young "baby gangsters" when the series is set, in the 1920s). Arnold Rothstein now has fangirls. Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano are being paired up in [[HoYay slash fanfictions]]. Never mind what kind of fans UsefulNotes/AlCapone and Bugsy Siegel are attracting.
* In the third series of ''Series/BlackAdder'', there's discussion about this in the episode "Duel and Duality". Baldrick suggests that he and Prince George can trade identities to avoid the UsefulNotes/TheDukeOfWellington's wrath. The Prince brings up the valid point that his portrait hangs on every wall, which is where Blackadder prompts Baldrick to quote his cousin Bert Baldrick, Mr. Gainsborough's butler's dogsbody:
-->'''Baldrick:''' He's heard that all portraits look the same these days, 'cos they're painted to a romantic ideal, rather than as a true depiction of the idiosyncratic facial qualities of the person in question.
-->'''Blackadder:''' Your cousin Bert obviously has a larger vocabulary than you do, Baldrick.
** Of course, Prince George is arguably an example himself; in real life (and once in the show) he's described as being fat, while in ''Blackadder'' he's played by Creator/HughLaurie, who's anything but.
* The ''Series/JohnAdams'' miniseries slightly averts this trope. While many of the actors are all very good-looking by today's standards, their characters all eventually fall prey to disadvantages that many people had to deal with in the 18th century, such as lack of dental hygiene, skin care and modern medicine.
* There is an interesting variation on this trope in the HBO miniseries Series/FromTheEarthToTheMoon. The astronaut wives were generally reasonably attractive women in real life and indeed one or two of them were noted beauties in their time. However, the actresses who play them are far prettier than what the actual women were. This also holds true for the NASA and contractor staff, who were portrayed by much too good looking actors to be believable. On the other hand, check out the crew photos of that time. You will see that many of the astronaut's actors are less handsome than the real guy. The reason for this is simple. The wives were normal middle-class American housewives, with the expected range of looks. The NASA and contractor staff were average nerdy engineers and beaurcrats. The astronauts were young military men, highly physically fit and conditioned, indeed probably more than any human being has ever been before and certainly more than what any actor could reasonably be expected to be,
** In real life, NASA was aware of this trope and had publicists "groom" the families and staff for their appearances.
* ''Series/TheTudors'' is undisputed lord and master of this trope, with its parade of [[TheBeautifulElite pouty-lipped sexpots]] in GorgeousPeriodDress:
** Henry VIII didn't marry Anne Boleyn until he was nearly forty two, but in the series he looks like he's in his late twenties or early thirties - until he abruptly ages in the fourth season. Creator/KateBeaton [[http://harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=230 has fun with this.]] Of course gaining the weight required or wearing a fat suit large enough to be even close to realistic would have been rather detrimental to Jonathan Rhys Meyers' health.
** Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk definitely qualifies. This [[https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f4/Charles_Brandon_Duke_of_Suffolk.jpg]] is the portrait of the real Charles Brandon. In the series he is played by an almost clean-shaven Henry Cavill. In fact, many of the prominent male characters qualify, including Sir Thomas More [[https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d2/Hans_Holbein%2C_the_Younger_-_Sir_Thomas_More_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg]] (played by Jeremy Northam), Thomas Cromwell [[https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c6/Cromwell%2CThomas%281EEssex%2901.jpg]] (James Frain), Thomas Cranmer [[https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2b/Thomas_Cranmer_by_Gerlach_Flicke.jpg]] (Hans Mathieson) and Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham [[http://www.tudorplace.com.ar/images/Stafford,Edward(3DBuckingham).jpg]] (Steven Waddington, who actually looks quite like Henry VIII in his younger years when he was still fit and considered attractive). None of them were hideous in real life, but they were definitely not nearly as handsome as the actors playing them in the series.
* SpiritualSuccessor ''Series/TheBorgias'' does a bit better averting this: most of the characters, if painted by Renaissance artists, wouldn't look too dissimilar from their real counterparts' portraits. There's a major offense, however, in the case of Creator/JeremyIrons as Rodrigo Borgia: regardless of how attractive Irons himself is, he's still tall and slender and with a full head of hair where the real Rodrigo resembled a short, fat, bald bulldog of a man.
* ''Series/{{Merlin}}'' has a lot of this trope, probably mostly because it's meant as a kids'/family series.
** Highly debatable. Since it can't be known if any of these characters even existed at all, we can't be sure what they might have looked like.
** The legendary Merlin was normally depicted as a shape-shifter with no true, stable form. He usually kept the frail old man's appearance while serving Arthur, but became a handsome youth to seduce maidens and at times isolated himself from humanity entirely by turning into a tree.
* ''Series/{{Rome}}'':
** [[http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3494/3751419499_560003015d.jpg Julius Caesar]] was a rather striking-looking man in real life and Creator/CiaranHinds is a reasonably fair fit. That said, very few depictions (''Rome'' included) give him his historically accurate thinning/receding hair in later life.
** And then, of course, there's your friend and mine Mark Antony. He's been portrayed as everything from drop-dead gorgeous (I'm looking at you, James Purefoy) to a distinctly ugly man with... [[BiggusDickus other attractions]]. His sculptures suggest he was something of a {{Hunk}} who would be out of league look-wise for ''Cleopatra'', not the other way around.
* Even the actors aren't immune: Creator/RobinWilliams himself got this treatment in ''[[http://www.youtube.com/user/capital33333#grid/user/424F2EA974DB93AB Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Mork & Mindy]]''. In real life, Creator/RobinWilliams is, shall we say, an acquired taste due to his unique appearance. (Let's just say he didn't need a lot of makeup for the role of Peter Pan in ''Film/{{Hook}}''.) However, in this MadeForTVMovie, he's played by Chris Diamantopoulos, [[http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v482/80sFreakLurker/chris_diamantopoulos20.jpg who makes a generically attractive Robin...]] and is MrFanservice in RealLife.
* ''Series/LittleHouseOnThePrairie'': Michael Landon as Charles Ingalls. Landon was a lot better-looking than the person he portrayed on TV. Ingalls had a Santa Claus beard, but Landon was clean-shaven, even when he spent days or weeks without seeing a razor.
** There was a miniseries in 2005, in which he was played by [[http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0051621/ Cameron Bancroft]], with Hollywood hair and PermaStubble. And [[http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0183158/ Erin Cottrell]] played Caroline, a woman raised to believe it was immodest to wear her hair in a way that didn't cover her ears, in sort of a case of Historical Coquettishness Upgrade. Even Jack the dog was better-looking than in the source material.
** In the books after the move to Silver Lake, Caroline Ingalls does specifically say that a lady doesn't show her ears.
* In ''Series/SpartacusBloodAndSand'' we are shown that the Third Servile War was fundamentally a conflict between TheBeautifulElite of UsefulNotes/TheRomanRepublic and their equally beautiful [[WorldOfMuscleMen gladiators]] and [[BeautifulSlaveGirl slaves]]. Even historical figures whose appearances are actually known, such as UsefulNotes/JuliusCaesar (who was already an attractive man in real life) get major upgrades. The handful of actual ugly characters that appear in the show are almost always [[EvilMakesYouUgly minor villains]] that are sleazy even by the standards of evil on the show, such as pimps and pirates.
* ''Series/HitlerTheRiseOfEvil'': [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Hanfstaengl Ernst Hanfstaengl]] is played by the much more attractive Creator/LievSchreiber.
* The miniseries ''Series/SonsOfLiberty'' does this to Samuel Adams, where he is played by the tall, lithe, and very handsome thirtysomething Ben Barnes. In reality, Sam Adams was a short, shabbily dressed man entering his early fifties by the time the Revolution started.
* ''Series/BandOfBrothers'':
** The daughter of George Luz joked about this in an interview with the actor playing her father. "And to think that he was portrayed by such a cutie...what a little hottie." For reference, here's the real [[http://image1.findagrave.com/photos/2008/45/24650465_120311350740.jpg George Luz]] and here's [[http://starity.hu/images/celebs/years/19405/800x600/2001.jpg Rick Gomez]].
** Played with in terms of Joe Liebgott. As he was thirty two when the war ended, he probably wasn't the PrettyBoy Creator/RossMcCall portrayed him as at age twenty four.
** Elsewhere averted as most of the actors were cast based on their specific resemblances to their real life counterparts.
* ''Series/{{Reign}}'' features a tall, handsome blonde Adonis as the future King Francis II of France, when in reality he was a very short child with a marked stutter. He was also only 15 when they wed, whereas the show portrays him as being quite a bit older.
* Used all the time in TV movies. Case in point, the 2001 Miniseries ''And Never Let Her Go'', which was based off of the book of the same title about the 1996 murder of Anne Marie Fahey, zig-zags this trope. While [[Series/ColdCase Kathryn Morris']] beauty is comparable to Fahey's, the two women look ''nothing'' alike; Fahey was 5'10" and had long, curly brown hair and Morris is average height and had short blonde hair. On the flip side, you had Creator/MarkHarmon portray Tom Capano, her lover and murderer, who was both younger and ''much'' more handsome than his real-life equivalent. Also, there's the case of his ''other'' lover, Deborah [=MacEntyre=], who was rather plain-looking, she is played by [[Series/TheThornBirds Rachel Ward]] and renamed Christine Sheve.
* ''Series/{{Attila}}'': Like RaceLift, this is a bit contentious in regards to the main character as no reliable description of Attila's real life appearance has survived. However he's usually described as short and stocky, whereas Gerard Butler is tall and handsome. Whether or not this is Roman propaganda or an accurate description of what the warlord looked like is unknown.
* Lampshaded by André Castelot in the introduction to ''L'Aventure de la Duchesse de Berry''.
--->'''André Castelot:''' Louis XVIII even used to say that nothing in her [the Duchess] was pretty, but everything was charming. Now, I need to confess something. You know that ''La Caméra Explore le Temps'' strives to be as close as possible to historical truth; well, here we took some liberties with the truth. Françoise Christophe will play the Duchess of Berry; well, everything in her is pretty, and everything in her is charming.
* [[Series/{{Victoria}} Queen Victoria]] would have ''killed'' to be as lovely as Jenna Coleman - or Emily Blunt!
* ''Series/WolfHall'' combines this with AdaptationalAttractiveness, as the original book doesn't shy away from describing VillainProtagonist Thomas Cromwell as the fat, [[FaceOfAThug thuggish-looking]] man his portrait actually indicates, while the much smaller and more pleasant Mark Rylance plays him in the series. Henry VIII, another frequent example of this trope, counts here as well; he's broader than ''Series/TheTudors'' portrayal, but still more in the area of LargeAndInCharge than full-on AdiposeRex.

* Theatre/CyranoDeBergerac: This trope is inverted with Cyrano: [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrano_de_Bergerac_(writer) Look at this contemporary portrait at the other Wiki]]. Portraits of Cyrano suggest that he did have a big nose, true, though not nearly as large to justify to an audience [[BerserkButton all the fuss Cyrano makes about it]]. So, this Historical Domain Character must look much ''worse'' in theater/movies than he actually did in real life for the play ''to make sense''.
* Shakespeare's ''Theatre/HenryV'' goes to great lengths to disparage his looks when wooing the French Princess Katherine. In real life, Henry took an arrow to the face at the Battle of Shrewsbury when he was about 16 years old and was scarred enough that his is one of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:King_Henry_V_from_NPG.jpg the few royal portraits in profile]]. This is what he looks like in the movies/TV: [[http://www.fandor.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/henryDM0402_600x442.jpeg 1944 Laurence Olivier]], [[http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02249/ken_2249862b.jpg 1989 Kenneth Branagh]], and [[http://www.britishmuseum.org/images/event_hiddleston_henry_V_304x384.jpg 2012 Tom Hiddleston.]] ''Clearly'', a "face not worth sunburning."
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Allen Peter Allen]], played by Creator/HughJackman in ''The Boy From Oz''.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Frederic Francois Chopin in ''VideoGame/EternalSonata''. While he may have been handsome in real life, the game designers decided to make him full blown {{bishonen}}.
* Pretty much '''[[CastFullOfPrettyBoys everyone]]''' in ''VideoGame/SengokuBasara''. We seriously doubt that the real [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanada_Yukimura Sanada Yukimura]] was ever the [[WalkingShirtlessScene perpetually shirtless]] {{Bishonen}} that he [[http://www.creativeuncut.com/gallery-15/sbsh-sanada-yukimura.html is in the games]] and anime. Then again, everything else in ''Sengoku Basara'' is turned UpToEleven as well.
** Liu Bei in ''VideoGame/DynastyWarriors 6'' and ''7'' is probably the most overt example of this trope coming into effect though, since he didn't rock the ''{{Biseinen}}'' look until those games.
** Special note goes to UsefulNotes/AkechiMitsuhide. Both ''Sengoku Basara'' and ''VideoGame/SamuraiWarriors'' portrayed him as a {{Bishonen}} (morality is another story), whereas... do you know one of the reasons he supposedly betrayed OdaNobunaga? Because the latter called him "kumquat head".
* If there is such a thing as Mythical Beauty Upgrade, it applies to MANY characters from ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight''. [[Literature/TheEpicOfGilgamesh Gilgamesh]] [[PhenotypeStereotype becomes a]] [[RedEyesTakeWarning Red-eyed]], blond-haired {{Bishonen}}. Rider [[spoiler:ie [[Myth/GreekMythology Medusa]]]] becomes a perfect embodiment of a fetish. Most changed is probably Saber [[spoiler:KingArthur]], who manages to do a GenderFlip into a beautiful girl.
** Actually, [[spoiler:KingArthur]] was {{Bishonen}} in his original depiction, making a beautiful, tomboyish girl version of him rather accurate.
** Additionally, [[spoiler:[[Myth/GreekMythology Medusa]]]] was also depicted as ''incredibly'' beautiful before [[spoiler:she became a monster]], and since the visual novel also shows a shadowy image of [[spoiler:her monster form]] which looks radically different from how she appears.
* A rare villainous version: in RealLife, Cesare Borgia is said to have been disfigured enough by syphilis that he wore a mask in public, but in ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedBrotherhood'', he [[EvilIsSexy looks]] like [[http://assassinscreed.wikia.com/index.php?title=Cesare_Borgiaℑ=Apple-jpg this]]. His appearance in the game might be based on [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cesareborgia.jpg this contemporary portrait]] that is believed to be of Borgia.
** Some other Assassin's Creed examples: Cesare's sister Lucrezia, who's also villainous, [[HighHeelFaceTurn at least at first]] is also upgraded, in a way; while already considered a beautiful woman, she was thin and waifish, unlike the BuxomIsBetter game model. Leonardo da Vinci is a subversion; sure, he's more attractive than the most ''famous'' portrait of him, but that's just because he's ''[[YoungFutureFamousPeople younger]]'' and he was actually known for being handsome and strong in his youth, meaning the portrayal is accurate.
* In ''VideoGame/AgeOfEmpiresIII'' Henry the Navigator is portrayed as a bearded blonde in shining plate, resembling a medieval knight. He was actually much more like [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_the_Navigator this]]. Might be artistic license, as he was the head of the Order of Christ (The Portuguese Templar branch) so they might have thought he would look knightish. Most probably it was intentional as it would only take a trip to Wikipedia.
** Henry ("Henrique" in Portuguese) the Navigator was the son of an English princess (Philippa of the House of Lancaster), and contemporary reports portrayed him as a tall, strong, blond-haired and bearded man. Under the orders of his father, King João I of Portugal, he took part of the conquest of Ceuta and fought the Moors in northern Africa, where he was knighted and made a member of the Order of Christ, a chivalry order. The portrait shown above in a link was made years after his death and it is not known if it depicts him correctly or even if it depicts him at all. So, yeah, the game Age of Empires III made no mistake.
* The trope is in full effect in ''VideoGame/{{Hakuouki}}''. Some of the real-life members of the {{Shinsengumi}}, such as Hijikata Toshizo, were plenty attractive on their own, while others, like Saito Hajime, were... not. Regardless, in the VisualNovel and the anime series adapted from it, they're all portrayed as gloriously {{Bishonen}}.
* ''VideoGame/ShadowHearts'' features many historical characters, few of which resemble their real-life counterparts. Most notable would have to be UsefulNotes/MataHari. While a famous beauty, the real life Margaretha Geertruida Zelle was hardly the blue-eyed, blonde-haired [[BuxomIsBetter bombshell]] seen in the game. Instead, she was dark-haired with dark eyes, and [[ACupAngst very modest]] in the chest department.
* The ''VideoGame/{{Civilization}}'' games do this to varying degrees depending on the specific game.

* Subverted - or not, depending on your tastes - by the depiction of Creator/{{Sappho}} in ''WebComic/{{Amazoness}}!''. Ancient accounts described her as "small and dark", and the comic depicts her as ''very'' small[[note]] at least compared to the 7' tall Amazons. At 4'7" she would only be about 5" shorter than the average 5'0" ancient Greek woman[[/note]], ''very'' dark, and as a charming ButchLesbian.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Parodied in the ''Funny Or Die'' video ''The Sexy Dark Ages'', which makes fun of "the genre of softcore historical drama".
-->'''Natalie Zea:''' I'm just glad that ''Creator/{{Showtime}}'' has the guts to show that, y'know, just because something happened in the past doesn't mean that everybody had to have bad teeth.
-->'''Daniel Sharman:''' It combines the kind of sexiness of ''Series/TheTudors'', and the kind of steaminess of ''Series/{{Camelot}}'' with just a hint of the historical eroticism of ''Series/{{Rome}}''.
* Also parodied in ''Website/TheOnion'' article [[http://www.theonion.com/content/opinion/i_would_have_been_considered I Would Have Been Considered Very Attractive In The Middle Ages]]".

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/LibertysKids'' did this to, more or less, every historical figure on the show.

* When the ten-dollar bill was upgraded, Alexander Hamilton, despite already being handsome by many measures, was still given a streamlined face lift.
* This trope is by no means new. Paintings, statues, busts, etc. of royal and rich people were known to improve a person's appearance. One instance where it was especially common was during an arranged marriage. Many times, the betrothed wouldn't see each other until the day of the wedding, especially if there was great distance between them (like the children of two different kingdoms). The only way they would know what their future spouse would look like is through paintings, and artists were known to smooth out pockmarks and add and subtract a few inches.
** [[UsefulNotes/ElizabethI Queen Elizabeth I]] used this to her advantage to make people think she was young, healthy and attractive even when she had smallpox scars, grew old and lost her hair and wore a wig.
--->'''[[Series/{{Blackadder}} Baldrick]]:''' Well, my cousin Bert Baldrick, Mr. Gainsborough's butler's dogsbody, he says that he's heard that all portraits look the same these days, since they are painted to a romantic ideal, rather than as a true depiction of the idiosyncratic facial qualities of the person in question.
** This trope didn't work out quite so well when Elizabeth's father UsefulNotes/HenryVIII was shopping for a fourth wife. The famous painter Holbein did a portrait of Anne, a minor Princess of Cleves, which made the most of what beauty she did possess... but as Henry discovered when they met in person, that wasn't much. Henry had his aide Cromwell beheaded for screwing the situation up so badly. They did marry, but by Anne's own account the marriage was never consummated and she eventually consented to his offer of an amicable divorce. Ironically, this was ''great'' for Anne -- outside of the lack of attraction, she and Henry got along really well as friends. She was allowed to remain in England for the rest of her (long) life, was good friends with both of her former stepdaughters, and Henry treated her like a sister, giving her expensive gifts and inviting her to all the events at court. AND she didn't get beheaded! Which shows how well she came ahead of the other wives. And cycling back to this page's trope, in the TV series 'Series/TheTudors' she is played by [[http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1510184/ Joss Stone]].
* The Physics building of Chalmers University of Technology (Göteborg, Sweden) is decorated with a dozen sculptures, depicting famous Swedish scientists from Celsius onward. All are shown as idealistically beautiful - except Svante Arrhenius, who was still alive when the building was erected. His statue looks like he actually looked. Reportedly, he was none too pleased with this.
* Most {{Ancient Egypt}}ian kings commissioned all their sculptures, tomb reliefs, and burial masks to depict them as youthful, attractive, and healthy[[note]]There were a few possible exceptions, such as Senwosret III[[/note]]. Hatshepsut even required depictions [[SheIsTheKing to make her male]]. But thanks to mummification, forensic scientists can reconstruct what many of them actually looked like.
** For example, UsefulNotes/RamsesII lived to be a very old man (for the time) and was not in perfect health. UsefulNotes/{{Tutankhamun}} had an overbite, a slight cleft palate, and a club foot, and was probably not what we'd call handsome. Hatshepsut was, ''gasp!!'', a woman. Don't expect contemporary artwork to depict them that way.
** In an inversion Akhenaten, Tutankhamun's father who tried unsuccessfully to replace the entire Egyptian religion with a new one, always had himself and his family depicted as pot-bellied androgyns with elongated, weird-looking faces. For years, Egyptologists wondered if it was artistic convention or hereditary deformity, until they identified his mummy and learned that no, he looked pretty average.
** Also, fairly recent research and examinations have shown that Hatshepsut was probably obese and afflicted with a nasty skin condition toward the end of her reign. Link here: http://www.livescience.com/7336-mummy-reveals-egyptian-queen-fat-balding-bearded.html
** The bust (not ''that'' kind) of Nefertiti was often held to be a depiction of her as stately and beautiful. A documentary showed that this was mostly due to the lighting since the bust was often illuminated for best presentation. Changing the lighting showed a bunch of wrinkles and a more aged look.
* One reason why photography wasn't always successful in making people look more realistic is because most mainstream photography was black-and-white until the 1950s, and much of it still was until the 1980s. Black-and-white film is more light-sensitive and requires more artificial lighting in its setup, so people photographed in black-and-white are unnaturally illuminated, [[LightIsGood tend to appear "angelic"]], and are thus more physically attractive than they otherwise would be. (Unless, of course, the subject is shot in low-key photography, but that is usually reserved for villains, [[AntiHero morally ambiguous characters]], or people who are supposed to look unattractive to the viewer.) A second reason is that, at least in the nineteenth century, people getting photographed took the experience a lot more seriously than they do now. Photographers were all trained professionals, possessed a great deal of technical knowledge as well as artistic talent, and were thought of almost as photorealistic portrait painters than simply recorders of events. People always wore their best clothes for photos in those days. Men shaved and women put their hair up, and even the children wore suits. They certainly didn't look like that all the time.

!!InUniverse examples

* ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'': Nyneve is rather taken aback upon meeting Gaidal Cain, who, unlike his reincarnation partner Birgitte, is quite a bit uglier than the legends say.
* Soviet Sci-Fi novel ''Kovriginís chronicles'' ("A girl near a steep", "Девушка у обрыва") by Vadim Shefner. A man remarks how all the depictions of a famous scientist's girlfriend follow that trope (the scientist asked that his name not be honored through memorials and such, so the people resort to honoring her instead).
* ''[[Literature/ScienceFiction101 No Woman Born]]'': While waiting for Deirdre's performance, her manager Harris and scientist Maltzer watch a reenactment of the beheading of Mary, Queen of Scots, noting that the actress playing her is far too pretty, and the garb being worn by the women onstage to be too tight for the period.
* ''Literature/SixteenThirtyTwo'' has someone note Princess Kristina looks nothing like Greta Garbo. To be fair, she's only a child too.
* ''Literature/MortalEngines'' has the horribly disfigured Hester Shaw and the slightly scarred version of her in [[BlatantLies Professor Pennyroyal's book.]]
* ''Franchise/DoctorWhoExpandedUniverse'':
** In the ''Literature/DoctorWhoNewAdventures'' novel ''Lucifer Rising'', a historical drama about [[Recap/DoctorWhoS6E5TheSeedsOfDeath the Ice Warrior invasion of 2090]] features a "handsome young museum curator", who is presumably meant to be [[http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Daniel_Eldred this guy]].
** In the ''Literature/NewSeriesAdventures'' novel ''Ghosts of India'', Donna asks the Doctor if Cleopatra was really the most beautiful woman in the world. He replies that she was the most beautiful woman in her bedchamber, if the handmaidens had the day off.
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}''
** The counterpart of [[Literature/TheIliad Helen of Troy]] appears in ''Discworld/{{Eric}}''. Eleanor of Tsort is plump, with somewhat faded good looks and the beginnings of a moustache. After all, it's been ten years since the siege started, but no-one's going to write epic poetry about rescuing a woman who's fairly attractive in a good light.
** In ''Discworld/{{Pyramids}}'', Gern the apprentice mummifier is criticised by his master Dil for making the Pharoah's death mask too accurate. Dil and the sculptor discuss how it could be improved, and a shocked Gern asks if people won't notice.
--->'''Dil''': Gern, certainly they'll notice. But they won't say anything. They expect us to, er, ''improve'' matters.
--->'''Sculptor''': After all, you don't think they're going to step up and say "It's all wrong, he really had a face like a short-sighted chicken", do you?

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/ForeverKnight'': justified that the vampires look good in their flashbacks, but human Nick gets into this trope before he is turned in the first episode flashback.
* In ''Series/ItsAlwaysSunnyInPhiladelphia'', Frank tells a story of a love triangle from his past featuring people the gang has never met. In the flashback, the new people are played by attractive actors. When the gang meets them in real life, however, they turn out to be quite average. The gang walks off discussing how no one look ''anything'' like they'd been imagining.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddparents'', when Timmy wants to prove that Dale Dimm was the founder of Dimmsdale, he wishes himself back 300 years ago, and meets witch hunter, Alden Bitterroot. However, unlike the picture Timmy is holding that shows Alden as a handsome muscular hero, the real Alden looks and acts exactly like Mr. Crocker.
---> '''Timmy:''' So much for historical accuracy.
* On ''WesternAnimation/StevenUniverse'' Steven and Connie read the account of Buddy, one of the historical founders of Beach City. As they imagine his travels, they picture him as their friend Jamie the mailman, who played Buddy in a town play. At the end of the episode they find Buddy's actual portrait, which is much less flattering. They decide they like their version better.