Adaptational Ugliness

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From beauty to harridan.

Mary: How come they made me fat and have red hair?
Larry: Because you're the comic relief!
Dialogue from Animated Adaptation of the band Limozeen in Homestar Runner

The opposite of Adaptational Attractiveness, this trope is when a character who is conventionally attractive (or described as such) in the source material is made less conventionally attractive in the adaptation.

This may be done in the case of villainous characters to make them more Obviously Evil, or in general it may be a case of Ability over Appearance, if it's decided that an actor uglier than the character in question can play the part well. Another reasoning for this is that they didn't get it right in previous adaptations, especially for live action ones.

Besides villains, this is also common for Comic Relief characters as well. The adapters want to make it obvious to kids that the hero's sidekick is the funny guy, so they turn him a Big Fun Fat Comic Relief. This may also be done for the sake of not having the sidekick overshadow the protagonist.

Compare Big Bra to Fill, where a large-breasted fictional character has a more realistic breast size in a Live-Action Adaptation.


Examples

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     Anime and Manga 
  • In the original Ghost in the Shell manga, Motoko Kusanagi is slender, coquettish, and quite well endowed. Compare her to her appearance in the blockbuster 1995 film, where she has a significantly more masculine build and androgynous face. Her later appearance in Stand Alone Complex is a compromise between the two, leaning towards the manga.
  • Little Pollon: Many characters are caricatures of the Greek gods of Classical Mythology:
    • Eros, the god of sexual attraction, is supposed to be very handsome and is usually depicted as a Pretty Boy at the very least. In this anime he’s made fun of for his ugly Gonk appearance.
    • Dionysus is often portrayed as a Hot God as well, but here he's a bald, short, stout man with dark glasses.
  • Pokémon:
    • A downplayed example as the characters aren't specifically ugly, however, quite a few of them have had more simplistic designs than their game counterparts. Cilan for example is still very handsome but isn't quite as cute as in his game official art. Most commonly a lot of trainers are given younger, shorter looks to better fit against ten-year Ash as well, especially females such as Serena (who is at minimum sixteen in the games but was aged down to a ten year old) and Lillie (who only seems one year younger than her game counterpart but is much shorter than her).
    • Pokémon themselves are usually portrayed a bit closer to their sprites and models from the games. In fact, the opposite of this trope was true in regards to the earliest game sprites.
    • Ash himself is a retroactive version. He originally looked cuter than Red; however, in the FireRed and LeafGreen remakes, Red was given a more bishonen design. Ash is cute but not on the league of Red, especially since Red has since grown up into a tall, muscular man by Pokémon Sun and Moon while Ash is stuck as a ten year old.
  • Red from Pokémon Red and Blue was a cute eleven year old boy with Anime Hair in baggy clothes. Red from Pocket Monsters is more of a gonk. In fact, many characters (Pokemon included) received this treatment, especially in the early chapters. Later chapters subvert this by using game-accurate designs. For example, Bill was originally an ugly, hairy gonk however he later reappeared in his much cuter and younger game design.
  • Samurai 7:
    • Whereas Kikuchiyo from the original 1954 film was a tall, strapping, nimble, athletic young man played by the ruggedly handsome Toshiro Mifune, here he's an enormous mechanized suit of armour with not even a visible face.
    • Shino's father Manzo was no oil painting, but the anime made him even uglier.
  • In the Warrior Cats books, Runningnose is a fairly normal cat, just with constant sniffles that he cannot cure despite being a medicine cat. The Tigerstar and Sasha manga makes him gaunt and ragged, with his ribs showing, and almost elderly-looking.
  • In Sailor Moon, Sailor Mars' grandfather is portrayed as tall and rather attractive. The anime on the other hand made him short and bald.

     Audio Drama 

     Comic Books 
  • Teen Titans Year One is a modern retelling of how the original team formed. Speedy is not unattractive at all but the comic makes him a gangly looking teenager, instead of the more mature-looking and muscular mainstream version.
  • Doctor Robotnik in Sonic the Comic started out with his Japanese design but after a few issues he was reborn as his less attractive, egghead-shaped Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog design. This correlated with him becoming a much crueler character.

     Fan Works 
  • Played straight with the Sensational Sisters in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines. In canon, they're naturally beautiful, while in this story they're implied to have used a lot of plastic surgery.

     Films — Animation 
  • In the 2004 animated series of Dragon Hunters, Gwidzo is presented as charismatic and moderately attractive. The 2008 film adaptation portrays him as grimy and unpleasant, even having him describe himself as "mean and ugly" during a breakdown.
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • In the original The Chronicles of Prydain novels, Fflewddur Fflam the bard is a 30 year old man who is remarked as handsome, if unkempt. In the Disney Adaptation, Fflam is in his 50s with a potbelly.
    • The original illustrations for The Hundred and One Dalmatians show Cruella De Vil (pictured above) as an elegant yet cold-hearted beauty. The Disney version turns her into a wild-haired harridan with a corpse-like face.
    • Moana: Maui in Polynesian Mythology is described as being a thin, lithe, handsome teenager on the verge of manhood that usually has his hair tied back in a neat topknot or ponytail. The movie portrays him as a massive, muscular adult with a head of thick, wild hair. However, his broad, round face, big nose, bigger mouth, heavy brow, sloped forehead and small, piggish eyes, makes him rather weird-looking.
    • In Cinderella the Ugly Step-Sisters are not physically unattractive. They're instead ugly "on the inside". The Disney film made them unattractive, though Anatasia was made Ugly Cute in the sequels after being given a a Heel–Face Turn.
  • The Swan Princess: In the original ballet, Rothbart has a beautiful daughter whom he transforms to look like the princess Odette; in the movie, he has an older, ugly Mook who plays this role instead.
  • Justice League: Gods And Monsters did this to Harley Quinn who is usually a very beautiful in the DC Universe, but in the short "Twisted", she has a very deranged appearance and looks Gonkish with weird body proportions. Ironically, this version of her wears a very Stripperiffic costume even more than normal, but the effect is more disturbing than titillating.

     Films — Live-Action 
  • Fifty Shades of Grey: In the books, Ana describes Christian as being so smoking hot, and having such a commanding presence, that just being in the same room with him turns her knees to water. Jamie Dornan, who plays him in the film, is certainly not unattractive; however, the way he's styled in the movie tends to make him look boyish rather than devastatingly sexy.
  • The Red Queen from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010). While she may not have been attractive in the original illustrations, the film version is a literal freak with a grotesquely over-sized head (though played by perfectly lovely actress Helena Bonham-Carter). However, as with many other adaptations, the movie conflates the characters of the Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts, and the Queen of Hearts is depicted with an oversized head in Tenniel's original illustrations.
  • The Bimbettes in Beauty and the Beast (2017). While their animated counterparts were gorgeous buxom blondes, in this version they're regular-looking women with a ton of makeup that makes them look unattractive, to make Emma Watson look more beautiful, and as opposed to being Ms Fanservices, they appear to be an Unwanted Harem to Gaston.
  • In Being There, Chance, the gardener, is described as looking like a cross between Ted Kennedy (in the early 1970s) and Cary Grant. Peter Sellers played the character in the film, and is not generally considered to have a dashing appearance. In addition, Sellers intentionally gained weight for the role because he decided that Chance's "sedentary and solitary" life would have left him overweight.
  • In the novel The Bonfire of the Vanities, Assistant District Attorney Larry Kramer is described as a vain bodybuilder obsessed with his physique. In the film, his name is changed to Jed Kramer, and he's played by the rather schlubby-looking Saul Rubinek.
  • Carrie (1976) - Helen Shyres in the book was a minor character who was part of the Girl Posse and is one of the nominees for Prom Queen, implying her to be pretty. In the film she is portrayed as a chubby Butt-Monkey of the clique, and appears to not have a date for the prom. The 2002 remake casts the pretty Chelan Simmons and restores the Prom Queen nomination.
  • The Commitments: In the book, lead singer Deco was described as handsome (if still obnoxious), but in the film he's portrayed as a Fat Bastard. His actor Andrew Strong, like the rest of the cast, was chosen only for the musical talent even if he didn’t resemble the description in the book.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
    • Batman Begins has Detective Flass as a sloppy, unkempt, physically unpleasant slob of a corrupt cop. His original comics self from Batman: Year One was just as corrupted if not more, but he also was much taller and muscular, blue-eyed with a blonde well kept haircut.
    • Two-Face was more cartoony-looking in the comics. In The Dark Knight, the scarred side of his face is given much more detail.
    • The Joker has a clean, cartoonish appearance in the comics and some of the other adaptations, but also in The Dark Knight, he gets a dirtier, creepier appearance that gets worse over the course of the film.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Suicide Squad features a version of the Enchantress who looks messier and creepier than her comic counterpart — despite wearing a more revealing outfit than her comic counterpart.
    • Wonder Woman (2017):
      • Ares is often times depicted as rather handsome. In the movie, he looks like an average middle-aged man.
      • Dr. Poison in the comics was rather beautiful, but wore a Gonkish mask to hide her true features. The film version shows a reason for the mask, though, as she has a facial disfigurement that involves a melted nose and skin, and half of a Glasgow Grin.
    • Justice League (2017) sees Steppenwolf sport horns on his chin and his skin resemble scar tissue. While his skin and eye color were Depending on the Artist, the comics Steppenwolf resembled a normal human.
  • The titular character of Dracula is not quite as attractive as some adaptations make him out to be, but he looks like an average enough older man. In Nosferatu, Orlok is a creepy, monstrous looking man with Pointy Ears and long fingers.
  • In the Fletch books, Fletch is a handsome, young, blond, extremely muscular man who can bed any woman he wants. In the movies, he is played by a forty-something Chevy Chase. This may be an example of why Tropes Are Not Bad, since the novel is a fairly straightforward and uninspired noir potboiler, while the film is a comedy, and frankly much cleverer. Chevy Chase's appearance is probably much better suited to a comedic hero.
  • The Flintstones: Barney's slender and beautiful wife Betty from the cartoon is played by plus-sized actress Rosie O'Donnell, chosen because she was able to do Betty's trademark laugh, which is admittedly a difficult vocal tic to pull off.
  • The real Tommy was 6"2", had long hair and a moustache, was built like a boxer and was described as very good looking. In Goodfellas, he is played by Joe Pesci.
  • In the original novel that inspired The Graduate, the protagonist Ben is described as a handsome, "All American Athlete" WASP type, but is played by Dustin Hoffman in the film — probably to increase Ben's awkwardness and Mrs. Robinson's desperation.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Fleur Delacour is described as being more beautiful than any human woman due to her part-Veela ancestry. In the film version, she is played by Clemence Poesy, who is by no means ugly, but not supernaturally beautiful, and her Veela ancestry never gets mentioned.
    • Madame Maxime is described in the books as being handsome, voluptuous and relatively young brunette (albeit very tall as she's half giant), which is very different from her movie counterpart.
  • In the original book How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, all of the Whos are small creatures with antennae who look rather cute. In the live-action adaptation, all of the background Whos are regular people with prosthetic noses and buck teeth that make them look rather strange and creepy. They're also given ugly and gaudy outfits to match them being portrayed as more greedy and materialistic.
  • There was a lot of complaining by fans of The Hunger Games that both Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) and Sam Claflin (Finnick) are too unattractive for their roles.
  • Greek mythology describes the huntress Atalanta as a gorgeous muscular blonde with and endless suitors. However in Hallmark's Jason and the Argonauts she is portrayed as a plain Tomboy — so much so that Jason refers to their relationship as a brotherly one (he clearly thinks of her as a man rather than a woman). Though despite this, Atalanta does attract one man in the course of the film.
  • In the original Sherlock Holmes stories, Watson is described as a rather handsome and athletic man and something of a womanizer. The film series of the 1930s and '40snote  had him played by the somewhat pudgy Nigel Bruce, setting a precedent followed by many subsequent adaptations.
  • The Shining:
    • Wendy is described as being conventionally attractive in the book, whereas in the film she's portrayed by Shelley Duvall, who is more waif-like and fragile-looking than her novel counterpart. This was a deliberate choice on Stanley Kubrick's part, as Wendy was supposed to be progressively beaten down over the course of the story, and he felt that casting a more plain-looking actress in the role made it easier to sell that part of the character as the story went on. The Stephen King-overseen TV miniseries cast Rebecca DeMornay, who's somewhat closer to Wendy in the book.
    • Jack is at least reasonably handsome in the books, but is played by Jack Nicholson. Needless to say, he wasn't chosen for being the typical Hollywood stud.
  • True Story: Based on a True Story about the Odd Friendship between a disgraced, globe-trotting New York Times journalist and The Sociopath who pretended to be him while he was hiding out in Mexico after killing his wife and three young children. The real-life pair are both fit white guys in their thirties who do look rather alike; in the film the sociopath is played by James Franco while the journalist is played by Jonah Hill.
  • Ozymandias from Watchmen. He's supposed to be the model of western perfection: blonde, square-jawed and athletic. In the film, he's lanky and has a thin face — not that this affects his physical prowess.
  • Eddie Valiant in Who Censored Roger Rabbit? has his attractiveness remarked on by several characters, but in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, he's played by the schlubby Bob Hoskins. The comic adaptation of the film returned him to a strikingly handsome young man.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • Downplayed with Ian McKellen's Magneto. While not ugly by any means, he's considerably older than the character in the comics and much less physically imposing. While Magneto was buff and chiseled in the comics, in the original trilogy, his white hair is the result of him being seventy-something years old. Justified, since the movies don't have the comics' sliding timescale or the multiple instances of him being de-aged and re-aged, so he had to be a realistic age for a Holocaust survivor. This gets rectified when you see Michael Fassbender's Erik Lehnsherr in X-Men: First Class, where his younger self is conventionally handsome.
    • Mystique in the comics is a Cute Monster Girl who just happens to have blue skin. Animated versions of her drew her very appealingly too. The live action films show that her blue form is quite scaly and more alien in appearance, complete with facial markings. In the prequel films she prefers to take on a 'normal' human form that is more conventionally attractive.
  • The Grey Zone: Josef Mengele was a rather handsome young man in real lifenote , which is part of the reason why he became known as the "Angel of Death" in Auschwitz. In this movie he's briefly portrayed as a balding middle-aged man.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • In the film, the Goombas are Tiny-Headed Behemoths and definitely not as cute as their videogame counterparts.
    • Mario is a chubby guy with a mustache but isn't unattractive. While not exactly ugly, his middle-aged portrayal in the film counts.
  • Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li: Vega (Claw), a narcissistic, Bishōnen who values beauty in the Street Fighter video games, is portrayed by Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas in this incarnation. In the games, Vega wears his trademark White Mask of Doom to prevent his face from being damaged in combat (rather than to conceal his identity), but here Chun-Li comments that he probably wears a mask to hide his ugly face.

     Literature 
  • Doctor Who Novelisations: The book adaptation of "Invasion of the Dinosaurs" gives Butler (played by an unblemished Martin Jarvis on TV) a disfiguring facial scar for the purpose of a scene which called for the Doctor to observe him setting a bomb—the audience had to know the character was Butler, but the Doctor hadn't met him yet and didn't know who he was. Giving him a scar gave him something striking that the Doctor could describe him by.
  • The Once and Future King: Lancelot is generally depicted as handsome in Arthurian legends and almost all adaptations, including the author's source material, but in the book he's emphatically described as having an ugly, "ape-like" face.

     Live-Action TV 
  • In The Flash (2014), Savitar's comics counterpart was a Walking Shirtless Scene covered in muscles. This Savitar spends most of his time wrapped in armor, and he's later shown to have chemical burns on his face and a discolored eye. This trope also applies once "Savitar" is revealed to actually be the Future Flash, who in the comics had an ethereal and noble appearance due to the blue light radiating from his body. Here, he's a grimy, slight figure with the aforementioned facial damage.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Theon Greyjoy (before his torture by Ramsay and becoming "Reek"). In the books, Theon is tall, dark-haired and attractive, and a famed ladykiller. In the show, he's a ratty guy who has to pay for sex.
    • Theon's uncle Euron is a creep, but still a handsome man in the books, his eyes being the only thing that keeps him from being incredibly attractive. In the show, he's an unassuming-looking man who certainly doesn't resemble the Evil Overlord of the books. Indeed, the entire Greyjoy clan seems to have gotten this, sans Aeron. Balon is much more decrepit than in the books, and while Asha was described as having "famous beauty" despite her boyish looks, Yara is more average in appearance.
    • The White Walkers are eerily beautiful ice-themed versions of The Fair Folk in the books but Humanoid Abominations that resemble frozen corpses in the show.
    • Renly is a good-looking guy, but is not the Adonis described in the book.
    • Cersei is described word-for-word as being the World's Most Beautiful Woman in the books. Lena Headey is attractive, mind you, but not to that degree, though the show does give her the Adaptational Curves of a 27-year-old body double during her public shaming, whereas the books describe her figure as declining from age and pregnancy, and also imply bloating from alcoholism.
    • The Faith Militant undergo this with their Obviously Evil facial scars, which are an exaggeration of the Poor Fellows (in the books, a single member has a Carved Mark on his chest, the rest are only This Means Warpaint) with none of the appeal of the rainbow cloaks, silvery armour, and crystal-pommelled swords of the Warrior's Sons.
    • The actor playing Mace is far less aesthetically pleasing than his book counterpart, who is described as being fat, but still good-looking enough that one can easily see that he used to be a Hunk in his youth. When the casting news was announced, some fans had a hard time believing that this unattractive Mace could be the father of the TV versions of Margaery and Loras. HBO's Mace is also balding, while book!Mace has a head full of hair.
    • Catelyn Stark is revered as quite lovely in the books, enough to turn heads. This is more of a case of Adaptational Homeliness, though, as Michelle Fairley is by no means an unattractive woman, but she's about ten years older than her book counterpart. When Littlefinger, who is very in love with her, is asked by Ros if she's beautiful, Littlefinger's reponse is "No, not really. Impeccable bloodlines, though."
  • In the novel 'Salem's Lot, the vampire Kurt Barlow is perfectly capable of passing himself off as a normal human, and is possibly even handsome. In the iconic 1979 mini-series, he's instead depicted as a grotesque Count Orlok lookalike, and is seemingly incapable of human speech. Averted in the 2004 remake, where he once again looks human.
  • Supergirl: Miss Martian in the comics and adaptations tends to be a cute Green-Skinned Space Babe with red hair. In the tv show, her Green Martian form is bald and looks just like Martian Manhunter, except female.
  • Bacchus in Xena: Warrior Princess is a rather exaggerated example. He is frequently depicted in media as either a effeminate Pretty Boy or a fat middle-aged man. The tv shows ditches both representations and has him depicted as a fearsome-looking demonic being with red skin, sharp fangs and curved horns. Quite the departure indeed.

     Video Games 

     Web Comics 

     Western Animation 
  • An in-universe example with the Ember Island Players in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Actor Sokka is scrawnier than the real Sokka and has buckteeth, Actress Katara is much curvier and less attractive than the real Katara, Aang's actor is a woman, and so on and so forth. This also happens with Toph's actor, a huge burly man who uses a roaring shout to find his way around, but she loves this all the more.
  • The Batman
    • The massively overweight and balding Cluemaster is a far cry from the fit, head of hair Arthur Brown from the comics.
    • This incarnation of the Joker is given a new look drastically different than any pre-Ledger Joker. He has wild, dreadlock-style hair, red eyes with yellow pupils, giant jagged yellow teeth that slot together. He also wore a tie-dyed straightjacket and went barefoot before switching to a purple suit and spats (but still no shoes).
    • While the Penguin in the comics never was an attractive man, he never was anywhere as grotesque as the Penguin seen in Batman Returns or even The Batman. Batman: The Animated Series at first gave him a somewhat less ugly version of the Tim Burton look, before returning to a more human looking comics-inspired appearance for The New Batman Adventures.
  • Ben 10:
    • Most of the characters in Ben 10: Omniverse thanks to the simplified art style. The worst offenders are Gwen, who becomes a much nerdier looking girl, and Kevin, who looks like a cross between a caveman and a hobo. Gwen's redesign was a source of contention amongst fans, however was done to make her look closer to how her original design would look as an adult compared to her previous She's All Grown Up version. Gwen was shown with her original teenage design at the start of the series, but while at college she apparently cut her hair, began wearing glasses, and changed her fashion sense.
    • Gwen in the Ben 10 (2016) reboot looks considerably more homely than she did in the original, helped by the Art Shift from animesque to cartoony. She's an average looking ten year old girl with Youthful Freckles.
  • In the Darkstalkers cartoon, Morrigan is much uglier.
  • The Shade is much older and uglier in the DC Animated Universe than he is in the comics.
  • Downplayed example with Lola Bunny in The Looney Tunes Show. Despite her Girliness Upgrade, Lola's seductiveness and Ms. Fanservice traits from Space Jam are removed in this show, although she's still cute in a non-sexual way in order to match her kooky Adorkable personality.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Super Show:
    • Peach is still pretty, but not to the length of the games. She also looks younger than her mid-twenties game incarnation.
    • Bowser is an Ugly Cute in the games; however, he isn't remotely attractive in the cartoon.
  • Dick Grayson is usually the Mr. Fanservice of the DC universe, both in-universe and amongst fans. Even as a teenager he was pretty cute for his age. In Teen Titans Go!, no one seems to find Robin physically attractive—at least not anywhere near enough to overlook his high-strung, overbearing personality. Whereas most versions of Dick Grayson and Starfire have a mutual attaction, the Go! version is her Hopeless Suitor at best if not an Abhorrent Admirer.
  • Young Justice: Miss Martian's true form in the comics was a muscular, but goblin-like Rubber-Forehead Alien. The show's version is an even more monstrous Humanoid Alien with an emaciated figure, spindly limbs, and exposed musculature. Granted, how White Martians in general looked in the comic varied tremendously, with some designs being even stranger.
  • Eggman in Sonic the Hedgehog is round and cartoony looking. He's not attractive but he has an Ugly Cute look to him. Robotnik in Sonic SatAM and to an extent Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog is a gonk.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AdaptationalUgliness