Beauty Equals Goodness

Lyn plays "Spot the Good Guy."

"If she were good, she wouldn't be so ugly."
Jake the Dog, Adventure Time

If a character is beautiful, then that character is a good person, either publicly or secretly. If a character is good, then that character will either be beautiful or be treated as beautiful.

Or to put it another way, every hero worth his salt must be physically attractive, or at the very least, better-looking than half of other people his or her age. This standard is more relaxed for side characters who can be truly ordinary-looking or even literal aliens, but expect the lead character to be pleasing to look at, even if he is the alien.

It almost goes without saying that this is very old; an attempt was even made in the 19th Century to quantify this attitude into the "science" of physiognomy, which posited a direct correlation between appearance and moral character.

This trope's influence is felt on many others:

The failed subversion of Suetiful All Along is common.

For animals and more nonhuman characters, see What Measure Is a Non-Cute?.

Compare Evil Makes You Ugly. The opposite of this trope is Beauty Is Bad and Evil Is Sexy, although they aren't mutually exclusive with this one. Ugly Hero, Good-Looking Villain is a specific inversion. Contrast Hot Guys Are Bastards, Divinely Appearing Demons and Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon. See also Expecting Someone Taller.

As this trope is ubiquitous, please only add egregious cases. Invoked and defied examples are the best ones.


(Mostly) Straight examples:

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     Anime and Manga  
  • In the DVD Commentary for Ghost in the Shell: Innocence, the director laments that he asked the animators to make sure a young female character was NOT cute. But they just couldn't help themselves.
  • Gundam examples (basic fact: since about Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam nearly all major characters were relatively beautiful unrelated to their alignment. Even the franchises' morally ambiguous masked men hardly ever were them to hide ugly scars and the like.
    • The most obvious subversion would be Dozle Zabi. While the ugliest of the Zabi family by far, he's also probably the nicest aside from Garma. His final act in the One Year War is to Hold the Line to buy time for his wife and daughter to get to safety.
    • Discussed in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: When OZ goes to apprehend Duo's space shuttle, Lady Une muses that they should kill the pilot if he's attractive but let him live if he's ugly. Her reason: they can use an ugly pilot as a scapegoat when they do bad stuff; but if the pilot is handsome, the people would be more likely to sympathize and follow him. Her orders, however, are just to kill him. In the actual series, everyone is attractive, so it's the same difference.
  • Bishōnen Rokudo Mukuro from Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, shown before to be a horrible, Manipulative Bastard with no regard for human life, is later given a few humanizing traits and is depicted as not being completely evil, with hints that he's just being stubborn with hiding that he doesn't really hate Tsuna anymore (most notably stated by Tsuna, who is convinced that he is, deep down, not such a bad person). He's still pretty darn evil, though.
  • In Bio-Meat: Nectar, the older and uglier you are, the more likely you will be a completely nasty person who gets eaten alive.
  • When the Rogue Titan makes its debut in Attack on Titan the audience immediately knows it to be different from the other titans as it not only saved Mikasa from being eaten, but possesses a far more toned and better proportioned body than the average titan.
    • This was even lampshaded by Mikasa in the Abridged On Titan web series where she refers to the Rogue Titan as the "Sexy Titan."
  • Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z: When they first encounter each other, Blossom and Mojo Jojo get along just fine, and Blossom instructs Mojo on a good way to eat a sandwich cookie. However, when they both realize that one of them is beautiful and the other is ugly, they realize that they must be enemies, and they start fighting.
  • Played straight in Noblesse. Are you ugly? Get yourself a life insurance. Are you hot? Redemption road is right over there. Curiously, this does not apply to female characters who die anyway.
  • Played straight in Dance in the Vampire Bund. All the vampires can turn into a true form. Guess who's true form looks like a center fold with some strategically placed armor.
  • Inverted in Death Note as the Kiras are all conventionally attractive while the good guys are an albino, a skinny guy with messy hair and a guy with a disfiguring facial scar (although they are considered attractive by the fandom). This may be a subverted inversion (if there is such a thing) because the Kiras are technically the main characters, or at least one of them.
  • One Piece:
    • There are many good-looking bad guys and bad-looking good guys but Chapter 764 is a little special: Every single grotesque person is a heartless Doctor (and Nurse) Jerk who turned away a dying child future badass pirate surgeon Trafalgar Law because they thought he was contagious (he wasn't, his disease was caused by pollution). Fortunately being ugly made it easier to watch the boy's companion Corazon, incredibly Big Bad Doflamingo's secretly kindhearted brother destroy them and their hospitals.
    • It turns out Sabo himself is a noble and is the only child noble who looks attractive, especially when compared to the Gonk looking spoiled brats. He's also a Token Good Teammate.

  • In Child Ballad "Sir Aldingar", the mysterious, possibly angelic champion who fights for the queen.
    A louelie child was hee;
  • In the ballad "Zu Bacharach am Rheine" by the Romantic poet Clemens Brentano, the world is first introduced to Brentano's creation, the magic-wielding Loreley, who brought doom on whomever fell in love with her. The local bishop has her arraigned before his ecclesiastical court, but he cannot condemn her because she is so beautiful:
    Der Bischof ließ sie laden
    Vor geistliche Gewalt -
    Und mußte sie begnaden,
    So schön war ihr Gestalt.

     Comic Books  
  • Jack Kirby's Eternals are physical specimens of godlike perfection, while the Deviants are hideously mutated.
    • Subverted, as about half of the Eternals are jerks, while the Deviants aren't that evil. Played straight with Thanos of Titan, who is an eternal but had the latent Deviant gene. His brother is handsome and the demigod of love, while Thanos is monstrous, with purple skin, black eyes and a wrinkled chin and completely evil.
      • And Karkas, whom everyone acknowledges to be the most hideous Deviant, is a Defector from Decadence and one of the good guys.
  • X-Men is often pretty good about averting this by having heroes like the Beast who have really freakish mutations, or Wolverine (arguably the most famous of the X-Men) being depicted, both in the art and by the other characters, as a "short, square-built, hairy and smelly man". However, note that almost all of the "grotesque but benevolent" mutants in the X-canon are male. There's a definite double standard there. And they're still frequently drawn as being generically attractive.
    • In an arc of X-Men spinoff New Mutants, one of the characters, Karma, was possessed by the evil Shadow King, who caused her to become morbidly obese from overeating. In the following arc (after Karma rejoins the team), Karma is promptly (and conveniently) dropped into a desert where she sheds her fat in record time and becomes hot again.
    • Perhaps the biggest X-Men example is Marrow, a Morlock with the Lovecraftian Superpower of pulling her own bones out to use as weapons. She first appeared as a terrorist; she was distinctly unattractive, with random bones sticking out of her body and skin like a prune. When the decision was later made to revive the character as an X-Man, she inexplicably becomes a pouty-lipped babe with flawless skin. She did still have the bones sticking out, but later those went away too.
    • When Rogue originally appeared, she was A) a villain, and B) drawn to be very butch and homely. Nowadays...
    • In New Mutants number 47 (entitled "My Heart for the Highlands"), several of the team find themselves in 14th century Scotland and fight on behalf of Robert the Bruce. Afterward, Doug Ramsey has a question, and the answer implies this trope:
    Doug: Pardon my asking sir, but—Aren't you afraid of us? We pop up out of nowhere, wielding fantastic powers. You've only our word that we're not demons or worse.
    Robert the Bruce: True Douglas—But any hadesspawn able to assume so young an innocent, an' noble a seeming deserves our respect rather than our fear—for that demon has become more human than most men.
  • In ElfQuest, the distinction between in-group (elves) and out-group (humans and trolls) has been striking from the get-go. Elves are the embodiment of otherworldly beauty, while Humans Are Ugly and idiosyncratic and trolls are bulbous and warty. While a few humans and the occasional troll are easy on the eyes, they are nothing compared to the elves — even evil elves, even genocidal elves, they're never ugly. See, humans are the enemy and trolls are untrustworthy, but "All elves are one". You can kill humans and trolls in self-defense, but Elves Don't Kill Elves no matter the provocation. Recent years have seen these principles change. More and more humans have been joining the list of allies, so the in-group/out-group distinction is weakening significantly. The "Elves Don't Kill Elves" prohibition has been broken on a few occasions and no longer elicits the agonizing guilt that Strongbow felt over Kureel (the first such killing). Now that Wendy Pini isn't [always] doing the art herself, certain artists draw humans all but indistinguishable from elves (which means as beautiful as elves). They look so similar that a human wearing ceremonial elf ears leaves you wondering, not about the ears, but if his thumb and four fingers are a mistake — a confusion that would never have been possible in the early books. The whole thing is at least mildly justified, anyway: elves are a different species from both humans and trolls, usually have access to healing magic that the latter don't, and their ancestors deliberately took forms that would appeal to humans in preparation for making contact (they just didn't count on getting thrown thousands of years backwards in time and losing most of their magic in the process). Word of God has it that the Wolfriders, the tribe who had to fight humans most often, even went out of their way to deliberately prevent or eliminate scars whenever possible in order to present a more formidable face to their enemies, who'd just have been encouraged by the notion that their weapons could actually leave marks on the 'forest spirits'.
  • Many Batman villains are deformed in some way - The Joker's skin is bleached white and he has a permanent smile, Two-Face is scarred down half of his body, Mr Freeze's skin is an unearthly white, Clayface is a giant goop monster, Killer Croc is reptilian in appearance, and the Penguin resembles his namesake animal. In fairness, though, most of the time these deformities are part of what caused them to become villainous in the first place, and there are a few better looking villains like Poison Ivy. (Oddly, those characters all seem to be female. Funny how that works.)
  • Tintin ("Tintin The Calculus Affair"). Tintin and Captain Haddock witness their friend Professor Calculus being carried off by mysterious figures, when another group ambushes them. When Haddock asks which side they should help, Tintin evokes this trope by telling him to hit the ugliest ones. Haddock is then confronted by two brawling mooks, each as ugly as the other. So he bangs their heads together. (As it turns out, the "rescuers" are trying to kidnap Calculus as well).
  • Played laughably straight in almost anything by Jack Chick. In fact, people go ugly as soon as we find out they disagree with Jack. The only exception is that strange tract about homosexuality, where Satan is constantly shirtless and has obviously been working out. Is there something you want to tell us, Jack?
  • Dick Tracy villains are almost universally malformed and ugly. Prune Face is the most extreme example. The hero, by contrast, is a handsome square-jawed detective.
  • Played oh so straight for years on end with the family of Captain Marvel villain Dr. Sivana. Sivana himself could be kindly described as a stunted little troll with no hair and a face only a mother could love: evil. He has four kids. Georgia is her father, only female and with hair: evil. Thaddeus is his dad mark 2: evil. Magnificus apparently comes from a completely different family, with golden hair and absolutely no deformities: good. Beautia, winner of the All-Time Prize for Least Subtle Name, is absolutely stunning: good. Captain Marvel himself: physically Superman in red, and the hero.
  • Nancy Callahan in Sin City is the most noble and innocent character in the series and is described as the most beautiful.
  • Captain America is the perfect male specimen, especially by Nazi standards, with blond hair, blue eyes, and a perfect body. His Arch-Enemy Red Skull has a red skull.
  • One Doctor Who annual strip from the 1970s, "The Traitor", displayed a really literal example. The Human Alien civilisation in the story has 'a psyche that is their form' and anyone significantly hideous is invariably murderous, stupid and evil. The planet the Doctor has landed on is their form of an 'asylum', a planet where the suns give out a special radiation that allows these people to live normal lives. The Doctor cluelessly helps them off the planet, and when they're away in the spaceship they transform into horrible monsters - the Doctor then tricks them back into returning to the planet for their own good and cries about it in the final panel. It's pretty grim for a strip aimed at eight-year-olds.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In "The Blue Parrot", this is tweaked but ultimately played straight. The daughter of the swan fairy is shocked that the handsome portrait she had fallen in love with belongs to such a rude man — but they soon discover that he's an imposter. Rescuing the true king finds him both courteous and handsome.
    • The illustrations play it straight for Hermosa, the swan fairy's daughter, and Riquette, Ismenor's daughter. Hermosa is depicted as beautiful, while Riquette is depicted as ugly and apelike.
  • Similarly in "The Colony of Cats" — the older cats rebuke the kittens, saying that all the servants can't be pretty, but Peppina proves to be as bad as she is ugly, where Lizina was pretty and good.

  • An absolutely ubiquitous trope in fanfiction, to the point that canonically villainous characters who happen to be attractive may be portrayed as good guys simply for looking attractive. In some fanfics, a hero noticing that a canonical villain looks hot will actually be used in place of a Heel-Face Turn as though being hot makes their prior evil actions irrelevant. Look at any Harry Potter fanfic in which Hermione discovers she's pure-blood to see this in action.
  • Aside from the above, Electro is described as being quite ugly in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series. This is notable, as the other heroes aren't particularly beautiful either.
  • Knowledge is Power: Many words are spent on how ugly the antagonists are (as well as how beautiful the male protagonists' wives and girlfriends are). Notably, Millicent's shift from rapist to love interest (in a "Humour/Romance" fic!) is accompanied by her working out and losing weight.
  • Pokeumans: Asula the Milotic, regarded as the most beautiful Pokemon species, serves as the Big Good of the story.
  • Emphasized in Hogwarts School of Prayer and Miracles by the narration regarding Hermione.
    A woman taking pride in her appearance is honoring the Lord; because after all, it is the Lord who gave her a pretty face and nice hair. Taking care of that is important! Harry got the feeling that Hermione was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside.
  • Jack is easily the cutest-looking character in the entirety of Cave Story Versus IM Meen, and he is the main protagonist.

    Films — Animated 
  • Quite a few Disney Animated Canon movies have caught flak for playing this straight. In The Little Mermaid we had the grossly overweight Ursula; same with Radcliffe of Pocahontas in comparison to the Adonis-like John Smith. Then there's Cinderella's ugly step-siblings (although one of them, Anastasia, gets Progressively Prettier in the sequels when she grows some conscience), the rakishly-thin Jafar of Aladdin, and the monstrous-looking Huns of Mulan.
  • In Epic the Boggans are ugly, and the animals they use as mounts (bats, crows and a star-nosed mole) are ones that are generally disliked by humans. Whereas the Leafmen are all good-looking, and ride hummingbirds.
  • Cars 2 actually both plays this straight and inverts this: The good guys are a shiny American racecar, a pair of shiny British spy cars, and a rusty American tow truck, while the bad guys are all mean, beaten-up Lemons, led by a malfunctioning British SUV posing as an electric car.
  • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride features a rare, justified version of this trope. The Outsider lions are scraggly and have duller, scruffier coats. But that's because they were living in a barren wasteland and likely had poor diets, so naturally they were going to be leaner and their coats would be less bright. By the end, the outsider lions come to live in the pridelands and they have the same body build as the rest of the prideland lions.
  • Cinderella 3D The titular and good Cinderella is the most beautiful of all the characters, whereas the step mother and her daughters are as ugly inside as they look.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Made explicit in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Clint Eastwood's character is, at best, a cold-blooded antihero and con artist, but because he is the most handsome he is "The Good." The other characters fuss over his good looks, particularly his beautiful blond hair. Lee Van Cleef's trademark was his crooked, hawkish nose. Early in his career many suggested that without plastic surgery he would be typecast as a villain (which he was). In the film he plays a ruthless hitman and is "The Bad." (despite in the other Sergio Leone film For a Few Dollars More, Van Cleef played the hero who bests Eastwood and the villain). The unconventionally handsome Eli Wallach was cast as "The Ugly", despite being much better looking than Van Cleef. The movie went so far as to actually show us their labels with on-screen text, just so there would be no confusion. There was at least one subversion, though, in the villain being called "Angel Eyes".
    • "The Ugly" would ironically have been played by the rather handsome Gian Maria Volonte, but Leone wanted it to be a funny character, so Wallach was cast for comedic talent and to give the role a scruffy, schlubby appearance. The point of the character was that he was ugly on the inside in any case.
  • Zig-zagged with The Goodthe Badthe Weird. Do-won, "The Good", is ridiculously good looking, but so is the "Bad", Chang-yi. However the "Weird", Tae-goo, who is stout and pudgy, was, at least in his past, arguably the most morally repellent.
  • The Star Wars plays this straight with pretty much all human characters, to the point that one of the prequels shows Darth Vader lost his once good looks shortly after turning to the dark side.
  • In The Wizard of Oz, the Good Witches are pretty, and the Wicked Witches are ugly. Glinda says straight up that "Only bad witches are ugly". (This sentiment is deconstructed and subverted by Wicked.)
  • Conversed and played completely straight in the sequel to Zenon. When the aliens finally show up at the end, they are Energy Beings who travel in a butterfly/manta ray style space ship that shifts between pastel, Easter egg colors of pink, blue, yellow, etc. When a character asks if these aliens might be hostile, Zenon replies, with no irony and a completely straight face, "Nobody could have a ship that beautiful and be evil." She was right, they were good aliens who saved their lives and repaired the space station.
  • At the start of Unbreakable, Samuel L. Jackson describes a comic cover in art-critic detail, commenting on the villain's inhumanely big head. At the end of the movie, he reveals to the hero that he was always meant to be the villain because of his brittle bones. "They called me 'Mr. Glass'"
  • This trope is always so much fun to observe whenever Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots pop up. If the story is focusing on Mary, she will be rather pretty, whilst Elizabeth will look like an ugly old hag. But if it's Elizabeth in the spotlight, she's always portrayed as having far more grace and beauty, whilst Mary is transformed into a woman whose bitterness is shown quite clearly on her plain (if she's lucky) face. Expect the ugly one to have crows' feet, and any ugly Elizabeth will have hair exactly the wrong shade of red and far too much white makeup on. The irony of this is that both Elizabeth and Mary would have been seen as absolutely freaking gorgeous in our time at age twenty-five - they both resembled Nicole Kidman in face and in body. Neither of them aged as well, but what can you expect in the 16th century?
  • This comes in three layers in The Tale of Despereaux. The cute mouse and porcelain-skinned princess are good, the plain but not hideous Mig and Rascuro are susceptible to evil urges, and the ugly other rats are Always Chaotic Evil. Although the movie does state that the princess was partly at fault, for being rude to Mig and flat-out screaming at Rascuro when he tries to apologize.
  • Kind of an interesting play on this in Inglourious Basterds; the more sympathetic Germans (especially Bridget, who's a spy for the British) are also more attractive, while the more evil Germans are decidedly unattractive.
  • In I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, anyone who disagrees with gay marriage (or homosexuality in general) is noticeably unattractive. Watch again and you'll see. Characters who are borderline attractive are also on the fence regarding gay rights, and invariably back up the titular couple in the end. Obviously, this isn't so much "good and evil" as it is "backing up our message with visual cues," but still.
  • Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland plays this trope straight. The White Queen is gorgeous and Alice is pretty as well, whereas the Red Queen is very strange-looking. But it also seriously subverts it with the Mad Hatter and the Bandersnatch. And also Tweedle-Dee, Tweedle-Dum, and the March Hare. It's also worth pointing out that the Red Queen herself is aware of this trope, telling her sister at one point that she can't get her way for once just by blinking her "pretty eyes".
  • Played straight in the film version of Matilda. All the evil characters are either unattractive or just average, whereas Matilda's heaven-sent teacher Miss Honey is probably the only good looking person in the movie. Not counting the cute little innocent kids, that is. This gets a bit silly when the tackily-made-up, unattractively-voiced Mrs. Wormwood starts lecturing Miss Honey about the merits of books versus looks. That's how it was in the book as well. If anything, the drawings of Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood were uglier than their live action counterparts (Mr. Wormwood looked a bit like a rodent and Mrs. Wormwood is described as being plump, with obviously-dyed hair and a "suet-pudding" face).
  • Played very straight in Solomon Kane, where Kane in the start is ragged and crazy-looking with his messy beard and hair, and his crazy Large Ham expressions, but after doing Heel-Face Turn he smoothes out his facial hair and becomes ruggedly handsome. Likewise, when The Dragon recruits warriors, he does some kind of demonic possession-thing where the recruits receive horrible scars, black eyes and bad teeth, all which go away when they die. Oh, and The Dragon himself is horribly scarred under his mask, and the Big Bad invokes Two-Faced appearance with his tattoos.
  • Played depressingly straight in Star Trek: Insurrection. The Bak'u look like catalog models, while the Son'a look like Michael Jackson after 20 too many facelifts.
  • John Wayne's 1968 pro-Vietnam War project The Green Berets played this straight with a young George Takei as a handsome South Vietnamese commander, and his Viet Cong counterpart as anything but.
  • In Oz: The Great and Powerful, all three witches appear beautiful at first. Her stunning appearance is what convinces Oz that Glinda is good, though given his The Casanova character, it's not perhaps astounding that a pretty face turns his head.
  • It's implied that the Super Soldier serum in Captain America: The First Avenger horrifically mutates bad men and amplifies the attractiveness in good ones. This would explain the Red Skull's deformation and Steve getting more buff.
  • Played straight with Adam in I, Frankenstein. At first, he's very obviously a creature stitched from different parts, as shown by the stitches on his face. However, throughout the movie, the stitches get less and less noticeable. By the end, he could easily pass for a human with a few scars. It doesn't hurt that he looks like Aaron Eckhart. This signifies him moving away from being a mindless animal who is only out for himself and finding a purpose in life and developing a soul. Averted with the gargoyles and the demons. They both look unattractive in their true form, while their human appearances vary.
  • The Autobots in the Transformers Film Series have humanoid appearances so that audiences can identify as them as the good guys. They have humanoid faces and bodies and five-fingered hands, even Jetfire. Also, they always talk in English, even when there are no humans around. Sentinel Prime subverts it. Meanwhile, most Decepticons have animalistic appearances and communicate with animal noises and Cybertronian language, in order to highlight their alien nature.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Joked at in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air with Hilary.
    Hilary: Heaven is this place where everyone is beautiful. And hell is, like, The Valley.
  • Perhaps surprisingly, given its self-awareness, Buffy the Vampire Slayer often falls victim to this trope. Apart from the Slayers themselves (who are all stunning), all the other major good guy characters are attractive, even Hollywood Homely Willow, while the demons are usually hideous. True, there are some good looking villains, (Spike, Angelus, Faith, etc.), but most of these characters were either very minor or ended up performing a Heel-Face Turn, or ended up looking really, really monstrous. Glory is the only good-looking seasonal Big Bad who was presented entirely without sympathy. (Although The First, able to look like anyone it wants to as long as it's dead and given to appearing like Buffy, might count.) And, of course, Willow was recast from the pilot to be cuter. The original tends to be known on the Internet as "Fat Willow", with forum posters complaining about how the show would have been ruined...
  • While everyone on Supernatural is ridiculously pretty, this trope was directly referenced in the episode "Folsom Prison Blues", in which Dean and Sam are thrown in jail. While their female lawyer keeps hearing that Dean's a monster, she changes her mind completely and helps them out when he uses his looks to convince her he's innocent.
  • May or may not have been intentional with Charmed. Piper, Phoebe, Paige, and Prue are all gorgeous women. Although their enemies in the first season were commonly monstrous looking, and when they began to look like ordinary humans, they were usually greasy and dirty looking, as if they'd been living in a cave.
    • Although quite subverted with the evil Zankou, who is implied to have had a relationship with the stunning Seer, Kyra.
  • Heroes is a pretty big offender. You can always tell the new character is a good guy if they look like a model. Sylar and Adan Monroe are the only exceptions.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    • Played uncomfortably straight with the Cylons—the good (or at least sympathetic) Cylons are played by attractive young actors and actresses (Six, Boomer/Athena, D'Anna, Anders, Chief Tyrol), the more morally doubtful (Leoben, Tigh) are older and less conventionally attractive, and the outright evil (Cavil) is the ugliest and oldest of the lot. Then again, Tory is both young and attractive and also morally doubtful, and her actions have resulted in her seeming far less sympathetic. And given D'Anna was willing even in her last (S4) appearance to wipe out humanity even after they helped resurrect her she probably deserves to be in the morally doubtful region along with Tory.
    • The (only) perfectly upstanding character, Karl Agathon, is named after this trope (see "Kalos kai Agathos" above).
  • Doctor Who:
    • None of the Doctors of Doctor Who were victims of savage beatings with the ugly stick (or at least not for long), but most of them are or were unconventionally handsome. Most subversive is Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor), who was not what you'd call the most traditionally handsome of men, yet was easily the most popular and well-recognised of the Doctors in the classic series (though that second is partly longevity). The companions, however, are almost invariably traditionally beautiful, with their beauty often being the main indication that the Doctor is going to pick them up.
    • The more conventionally handsome Doctors (Fifth, Eighth, Tenth and Eleventh) tend to be the more 'human' in outlook, with the odder-looking ones tending towards being either more prickly (First, Third, Ninth) or more psychologically alien (Second, Fourth, Seventh). The one glaring exception is Six, who starts out conventionally handsome and a very abrasive, alien Jerkass, and then becomes nicer but gains a lot of weight. Note also that being a more human Doctor does not mean that those Doctors are nicer at all - both the Fifth and Tenth seem sweet but are particularly judgemental and ruthless compared to the far more forgiving, but harder to handle socially, Second and Fourth. And note also that the odder-looking ones can still be charming and sexy, notably the Third (a not amazing-looking old man with a really large nose who nevertheless was played as a bit of a sex object).
    • The Fourth Doctor even lampshades this trope and his odd appearance when pulling faces at himself in the mirror after his new regeneration - "can't say much about the physiognomy". He does, however, remark that his new nose is a big improvement, even though it's bigger and more hooked than his last one.
    • Played with with the Eleventh Doctor, who has an unusual sort of face that looks extremely handsome from certain angles, and extremely ugly with other ones - Steven Moffat said he looks like "a caricature of a handsome man". The camera crew exploit this, making him look handsome when he's being noble and kind, and ugly when he's being frightening and weird.
    • Also played with by the Sixth Doctor, who (at the beginning of his tenure, anyway) is probably the most conventionally attractive of the classic Doctors, and is initially alarmed, then pleased by how good-looking he suddenly is, doing a lot of Showing Off the New Body. Unfortunately, he's also a tasteless Insufferable Genius egomaniac and one of the most bastardly of all the Doctors thus far, especially in contrast to his incredibly sweet and human previous self. As he gets nicer, he gains weight, ages and gets worse hair.
    • Though there is a subversion — The Master's not a bad-looking guy in most of his incarnations; Delgado and Ainley are both sort of suave older men and Simm is more conventionally attractive.
    • The "monsters" are generally unattractive by human standards, but it's often subverted with the revelation that they're not really that monstrous. Some of them are capital-E-Evil, but some have Blue and Orange Morality, some of them are Well Intentioned Extremists, and some of them are actually the good guys.
    • Played painfully straight in the first Dalek serial, "The Daleks". The two races on Skaro are the Daleks, a Little Green Man in a Can species with Robo Speak voices whose mutated form is never shown aside from the reactions of the people who see it, and the Thals, an Inhumanly Beautiful Race who are all blond-haired and tall. While the Thals initially attempt to give medicine to the crew and the Daleks imprison them out of paranoia, it's notable that the Daleks aren't really all that bad in their first story, as the viewer is assumed to want to side with the beautiful Thals over them on sight. The Daleks also soon got Flanderized into full-on space-racists with no sympathetic qualities at all. When Doctor Who's writing improved and the Thals-versus-Daleks dynamic became the relic, "Genesis of the Daleks" showed the Daleks as the genetically brain-damaged followers of an evil mad scientist, and Deconstructed the Thals' supposed pacifism and their patriarchal, beauty-fetishising culture, showing them mistreating Sarah Jane because of her sex and putting anyone visibly deformed from chemical weapons as a subhuman slave caste.
    • Zigzagged in the William Hartnell-era story "The Rescue". The TARDIS lands, Barbara and Ian go out to investigate, and an insect-like, googly-eyed monster, named Coquillion, attacks Barbara. When Ian returns to the Doctor, the Doctor reveals he's been on this planet before, and the natives are a very nice species who live in isolated, egalitarian and cooperative social groups of about a hundred and have nothing to gain from becoming violent, and refuses to accept the terrifying appearance Ian claims Coquillion had as evidence he would ever kill anyone. However, the Doctor and Ian get trapped in a cave with a different, lizardlike monster while investigating, and assume it's going to eat them. Later, Barbara (who survived) shoots the monster from the cave because she thinks it was attacking an orphaned human girl, but it turns out that it was a herbivorous creature that she treated like a pet. At the end of the story, however, the Doctor corners Coquillion and reveals that what we assumed was his face was actually ceremonial dress used in his people's religious rituals, being worn by a human man who claims to have committed genocide against the natives of the planet. The man is then attacked by two natives who survived his genocide, and we see that they are actually beautiful blond men similar to Thals.
    • The First Doctor story "Galaxy Four" defies this with the Drahvins and the Rills. The Drahvins are a militaristic, nearly all female race of would-be conquerors who enforce a Fantastic Caste System and are also all blonde and beautiful. The Rills are Starfish Aliens who make it a point to hide their appearance because they're perfectly aware other races find them terrifying, but are perfectly willing to help the Drahvins leave the planet they are both stranded on once they get their repairs done. The Drahvin leader, Maaga, cannot help but suspect treachery and spends the serial plotting to steal their ship rather than share it.
      • Even so, "Galaxy 4" still partially plays it straight - the first indication that the Chumblies aren't as hostile as they appear is that they are super cute, with Vicki remarking on it.
    • Combined with a Spoiler Title, this rather ruins "The Robots of Death", a Locked Room Mystery where it becomes impossible for the viewer to not spend all their time waiting for the robots (which are quite beautiful thanks to good production values and an art-deco aesthetic, but are obviously non-human and invoke the Uncanny Valley in universe) to start killing people. Fortunately, the story is a lot more complicated than that.
  • The major subplot of the American Gothic episode "Eye of the Beholder" plays with and then toes the line of this trope from the heroic perspective of a minor character. In order to obtain custody of his 'son' Caleb, Sheriff Buck tries to discredit Dr. Crower as a potential legal guardian by revealing his past difficulties with alcohol. To attest to this, he needs the aid of an orderly at the hospital who worked with Matt before he came to Trinity. When the orderly refuses, Buck sends his wife a magic mirror which swiftly turns her into a tempting seductress. The orderly breaks the mirror... which also horribly disfigures his wife. Freed from the spell, she urges him to refuse Buck's deal and stand by his friend Matt instead, and he professes to love her no matter what she looks like. Despite this and the name of the episode, the orderly inexplicably does Buck's bidding—and though his testimony is as unbiased as possible, and Buck doesn't get his hands on Caleb due to a delicious Bait and Switch Chekhov's Gun from earlier in the episode, the sheriff still keeps his end of the deal by rewarding the orderly, restoring his wife's beauty so they can leave town in peace and good conscience. Sigh.
  • In Baywatch parody Son Of The Beach, a high-school girl commits a string of murders because she's ugly and jealous of pretty girls; however the day is saved when the hero tells her to "take off your glasses," and "now, untie your hair!" and she is revealed that she was really Beautiful All Along.
  • Played straight in the American version of The Office: you can roughly approximate how much of a Butt Monkey each character is by how young and attractive they are, with Pam and Jim being the only characters who are not played up as buffoons, get tons of screen time, and end up being shipped together.
  • Most modern sitcoms heavily employ this trope. A typical theme will be how the hip, fashionable, sexy-looking wife with the looks of a supermodel is automatically smarter and more competent than her average-looking (or even ugly) husband.
  • Averted and called out by one episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, where a creature so horribly ugly it drove you insane turned out to be the good guy. Played straight the rest of the time: Klingons are all rough and rugged, evil Spock has a beard, every girl Kirk falls in love with is horribly attractive, etc.
    • This is especially evident in the TNG Klingons. The evil or unpleasant ones, such as the Duras sisters, are hideous, while Worf is much more attractive. This might, however, have something to do with the fact that his adoptive parents introduced him to the wonderful human invention known as a comb.

  • Averted in "Secret Agent Man."
    Beware of pretty faces that you find
    A pretty face can hide an evil mind

     Myths & Religion  
  • The assertion that 'beautiful is better' is very prominent in Greek/Roman Mythology. Most gods and goddesses are described as possessing a beauty so transcendently beautiful that they can't even be looked upon with mortal eyes. Hephaeustus — god of blacksmiths, craftsmen and artisans — was said to have been thrown from Mt. Olympus because his mother, Hera, was ashamed of having an ugly child. Most of Zeus’s and Apollo’s philandering was often caused by them falling head over heels at the first attractive person that they saw. In fact, the famous Trojan War was set off both because Paris thought that having the most beautiful woman from the goddess of beauty, Aphrodite, was a better option than being freakin' king of half of the world or genius of warfare offered by Hera and Athena. In the Classical view, beauty isn't just in the eye of the beholder, it's an objective reality that even divinity doesn't ignore.

     Professional Wrestling  
  • All Japan Womens Pro Wrestling had a tradition of having larger, less attractive wrestlers as Heels (e.g. Dump Matsumoto, Bull Nakano, Aja Kong), and pitting them against smaller, cuter Face wrestlers.(however, all three examples either went through heel face turns or became faces by default at some point)
  • Maybe a bit subverted with TNA Wrestling's Knockouts division; everyone is pretty (in some way), regardless of whether they are good or bad. Even Awesome Kong, the big bad black Japanese wrestler, became a babyface and fan favorite.
  • Kelly Kelly is one of the few WWE Divas to never undergo a Face-Heel Turn, or to have been a heel in the first place. This was probably because she was one of the prettiest Divas ever, and (it was assumed) no one would have ever believed her as a heel. Word Of God is Kelly was going to undergo a Face Heel Turn in 2011, as it would be revealed she was secretly working with Kharma. This would have led to Kelly becoming Divas Champion, with Kharma acting as her muscle (similar to when Sable had Nicole Bass in 1999). After Kharma got pregnant in real life, WWE kept Kelly face and went forward with her becoming Divas Champion, but the majority of fans never bought that she was really that good in the ring.

     Tabletop Games  
  • The goddess Sune of the Forgotten Realms seems to wholeheartedly buy into this trope. Supposedly the goddess of love, she's also the goddess of beauty, and earlier editions had game mechanic rules stating that her clergy had to satisfy a minimum level of physical attractiveness (as measured by the charisma stat) in order to serve. Apparently Sune thinks that only beautiful people deserve love, even though Word of God is that she's Chaotic Good.
    • To the contrary — Sune's dogma is to promote beauty and love even among the ugly. The vanity and prejudice is chiefly the result of her clergy's collective vanity refusing to train clerics who were unattractive; a cleric could independently venerate Sune and receive clerical abilities even if he/she had low charisma. He/she just wouldn't find a welcome in the church.
  • The Hero System games, most notably Champions, postulate that the average man on the street has stats of 8 in all categories, including physical appearance. Player Character on the other hand get a 10 in each category, because they are the heroes. So your "average hero" is notably better looking than a regular schmoe. The stat that reflects your good looks is also by far the easiest one to buy up, so most heroes end up having supermodel good looks because there is very little downside to it.
  • Dungeons & Dragons' Fourth Edition removed or uglied up every attractive monster in the game. (Dryads? Now look like small Treants with breasts. Yes, trees with breasts. Nymphs? Added in Monster Manual 3.)
  • More Dungeons & Dragons: Orcs, goblins, trolls, ogres, and other "savage" humanoids are bestial in appearance and almost always portrayed as always evil in official game material and most campaigns. Of course, individual DMs may portray them however they want, and there's nothing stopping you from running a game with a tribe of noble, heroic orcs.
  • Taken Up to Eleven in Magic: The Gathering by the elves of Lorwyn. Beauty determines status in their society, with the most beautiful known as "perfects". They also hunt down and kill anyone they consider too ugly to live. And then there's her, an assassin whose goal is apparently to cut your face, because that's as bad as killing you.
  • In Rocketmen the good guys are the Rebels who are allied with Mercury, and Venus who both have a matriarchal society some pretty female characters, while the bad guys the Legion of Terra are allied with Mars who are a race of green skin space gorillas.
  • In Torg one of the invading realms is a D&D inspired fantasy setting where one of the laws of the universe was that being Honorable increased your beauty while being Corrupt caused you to become uglier. This caused an unfortunate social stigma to attach to just being ugly from birth.


  • A lot of LEGO themes are like this, with Agents probably being the worst offender in that the vast majority of the villains are disfigured, cyborgs, or both. The Adventurers' Baron von Baron/Sam Sinister is a stereotypical Nazi officer with a monocle, handlebar mustache, Dueling Scar, and hookhand, while the only other Adventurers villain who could be considered attractive in the conventional sense is Alexis Sanister. Ogel, of Alpha Team, has some kind of red glass eye, and of course a hook, while his Mooks are skeletons. The Evil Wizard from the Castle sets has the same face as Ogel, so that's another one. The Bulls of Knight's Kingdom have are scarred, clad in rusted armour, and have silver eyes. Things get far worse, of course, if you consider the Pirates to be bad guys, what with the hooks, peglegs, eyepatches, and scars. To give LEGO some credit, they have had scarred or deformed heroes, like Rock Raider's Chief (prosthetic arm), Power Miner's Rex (facial scarring), Dino Attack's Viper (more facial scarring), and Lego Island's Captain Click (a pirate skeleton). Still, ugly villains greatly outnumber even unattractive (if they were real) heroes.

     Video Games  
  • Fire Emblem does an almost facepalmingly straight adherence to this rule. Almost all the good guys will be bishonen, ruggedly handsome men, hot chicks, Cool Old Guys (sometimes good looking for their age, too) and most of the bosses will be old, plain or gonks. They'll attempt to mix things by always adding one or two gonks and a non hottie to the good guys side, and typically the bad guys will have one or two good looking guys on their side, however they'll usually be either good at heart or wear an unflattering facial expression on their portrait. Sometimes a few of the ugly minor bosses will hint or be revealed to not have been bad at heart after their death. The simplest way to put it is ugly characters are the Token Minority for the good guys and attractive characters are the Token Minority for the bad guys. Ugly good guys far outnumber attractive bad guys, seems Evil Is Sexy is not one of Intelligent Systems' favorite tropes... for males. When it comes to females, evil is sexy too. This can sometimes make sense (Most of the early foes are low class bandits, the latter ones are old nobles are in some games a separate species, while most player characters are nobility or young), but often doesn't.
    • If you're a sympathetic character in Fire Emblem, you're either at least quite attractive, or you're old. And if you fall into the latter category, you were likely quite a looker when you were younger. There are only a few major exceptions to this (i.e. most axe-users).
    • An exception to this trope might be: Dorothy from Sealed Sword. However she's hardly as ugly as the support conversations make her out to be. She's more plain ingame still not ugly though.
    • A major and famous exception is Oliver, from Fire Emblem Tellius. In Path of Radiance, he's a regular boss who has to be disposed of (and there's a good chance that an ally character kill him for you), and he's an insufferable narcissist, viewing himself as the epitome of beauty... Despite the fact that he looks like this. He makes his return in Radiant Dawn where, against all odds, despite being once again the boss of a chapter, he is recruitable. Except that, well, he hasn't changed much (if at all) between the two games: he's still the same vain, self-absorbed character, who only joins you as a protector of beauty (he's quite fond of herons). Though they decided to make him less evil-looking, he's still the Gonk. Heck, even Ike begs him to return on the enemy side.
    • Axe users are most apparent of this. While enemy characters of other classes are usually at least pleasant enough to look at, 90% of enemy axe users are Gonks, made even easier to do because there are no female enemy axe users in the entire series. Axe users on the player's side, however, are either ruggedly handsome or even straight up bishonen; at worse, they have a fairly large build, which is generally considered unattractive in Asian cultures.
    • Exceptions are major enemy characters who aren't old men, because you have to be attractive to be anyone of significance, naturally.
  • Reversed in Two Worlds II: at one point, the protagonist is begged by the helpful leader of a nearly-doomed colony to hunt down the reason of their misery - an evil witch, who not only lives deep in a swamp, but who is indeed hideous. However, instead of killing the witch, the protagonist can also listen to her unexpected pleas. Doing so opens an entire new subplot, which eventually reveals that the real Evil Force was actually the charismatic leader, while the witch was the true protector of the people. The reversal is then reversed in the end of that subplot, as the witch's beauty is magically restored upon the demise of the real villain.
  • Played straight in Drakengard. Another layer is added on with the impossibly beautiful and pacifistic elves and the horrific designs for the monsters, who are bloodthirsty and primitive. These other creatures are rarely seen, however. And really, what's more beautiful than a baby?
  • World of Warcraft generally averts this, although sometimes small bits get through.
    • In the Classic, the Alliance had all the pretty races while the Horde had the ugly ones. However, the Horde was not evil, merely Noble Savage in a morally gray fight over the land to live on. Burning Crusade'' further muddied the trope by giving them the pretty Blood Elves.
    • A little shade of it was in the Draenei and their changes over the years. Originally, they were an ugly race with More Teeth than the Osmond Family and raptorish feet, which nevertheless were allied with the Anti-Hero Illidan and opposed the demonic Eredar (who had typical Horny Devils appearance.) In the Burning Crusade they were retconned to being a fallen and mutated Draenei - and we were introduced to the proper, clean and pretty Draenei as a playable race, directly allied with the Naaru. The previous Draenei, now called Lost Ones, were portrayed almost exclusively as insane villains. The newly introduced Ugly Cute Broken were also made antagonists, but it was due to being enslaved by Illidan gone mad, not being inherently evil. Furthermore, the trope was averted with the Eredar, who were shown to be Draenei that fully embraced the demon powers - they look just like Draenei, only red instead of blue.
    • Mists Of Pandaria plays this straight due to applying Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome on practically the entire Horde, particularly the orcs, while getting downplaying all morally grey qualities of the Alliance. Additionally Garrosh was given a much uglier model before becoming a Raid Boss.
  • The only nice demon bound in Jerro's Haven in Neverwinter Nights 2 is also the one who goes around disguised as an Eladrin.
  • In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, if the player character goes to The Dark Side, s/he develops pale whitish skin and yellowed eyes. In the sequel, the player character can influence his or her allies to go Dark, causing a number of changes in their appearances (none of them good).
  • In Mass Effect 1, Saren, the apparent Big Bad of the game, is clearly weird-looking by Turian standards, sporting glowing blue eyes and cybernetic implants on top of the spikey Turian exoskeleton. On the other hand, Benezia is much more attractive but still acts as Saren's Dragon for much of the game. However, it's revealed that both of them have been brainwashed by Soverign, and both of them get a Dying as Yourself ending (optional in Saren's case). Soverign himself is a giant insectoid spaceship and makes use of Blue and Orange Morality behavior.
    • In the second game, quite a few of the villains are even more monstrous: the Collectors, for example, are Insectoid Aliens equipped with a lot of repulsive-looking organic technology, and serve the Reapers in abducting human colonists for use in their experiments. Once again, it's revealed that the Collectors are just brainwashed servants of the Reapers; before they were enslaved, the Collectors were the equally bizarre-looking Protheans, Benevolent Precursors to the current galactic civilization.
    • In Mass Effect 2, picking the Renegade choices will make Commander Shepard's post-resurrection scars appear wider and glow red (a rather disturbing picture here). It can be subverted, however, through a plastic surgery later in the game. On the other hand, Paragon choices will make the scars shrink so much, said surgery will hardly be worth the resources it costs.
  • Persona 4 - Hanako, Mitsuo, Morooka, and Kashiwagi (who isn't specifically ugly, but has a tendency toward drastic, overly-exaggerated and unattractive expressions, and a crap personality), have no particular positive qualities and the heroes have no sympathy for them. The exceptions are Adachi, who the player is supposed to trust, and Izanami, whose true form is legendarily hideous but appears as an attractive lady.
  • Used in Final Fantasy VII spinoff: Dirge of Cerberus. Deranged scientist Hojo still looks to be in his late middle age, as a young man.
  • Darkstalkers has Felicia. Who's the nicest out of a cast of anti-heroes and is gorgeous.
  • Played straight and averted in Yo-Jin-Bo. Just about everyone except Yahei (nice old man) and Nobumasa (big, dumb, and evil) could be considered at least above-average. Of course all six Love Interests are extremely attractive, but villains Kasumimaru and Harumoto aren't bad looking, either.
  • Played straight in Valkyria Chronicles. All the villains have exaggerated, ostentatious, or just plain ugly faces, unless the game presents a reason for the player to sympathize with their tragic plight, while everyone in Squad 7 ranges from plain to rugged to just plain gorgeous. (The bad guys do, however, wear some truly awesome-looking officers' uniforms).
  • Both Gabriel and Marie Belmont from Castlevania: Lords of Shadow fit this. Marie's natural pure heart is what makes Gabriel so attracted to her all his life even after her tragic death; her sweet laugh was often enough to soothe his chronic moodiness. As of Gabriel, in spite of his unshaven facial hair, is still dignified due to his natural sense of justice and kindness. Had Hideo Kojima allowed him to be a Barbarian Hero, this would be even more obvious.
  • In the Fable series of games, it goes beyond good characters being beautiful; if you do good things, your character becomes more beautiful, to the point of people on the street commenting on it constantly. (Doing bad things makes your character grow horns and become wrinkled.)
  • The Shadow Sirens from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door are as "good" as their appearance: Vivian is cute and pulls a full Heel-Face Turn, Marilyn lands in the middle and is neutral (though loyal to the baddies), and Beldam is ugly and fully evil.

     Web Video 
  • Demo Reel. The heroes are all conventionally gorgeous - Donnie is wanted by everyone, Tacoma consistently is told he looks good in a dress, Rebecca is played by a model, Quinn spends most of his time in a wifebeater and Karl has a foursome with con-girls - while the villains (the Psychopathic Manchild family and Tom Collins) are either weightier or just made to look awkward.

     Web Comics 
  • This guy. One guess whether he's good or evil.
  • Korean webcomic Noblesse. For a "shounen" series, it certainly emphasizes a lot on androgynous male beauty. & you can bet every attractive bad guy you see will be working for the protagonist by the end of the arc.
  • For most of the first volume of Quantum Vibe, when Nicole and Seamus have an antagonistic relationship, and the audience is expected to be somewhat suspicious of him, a regeneration error has trapped him in a 250 kg body with a dumpy face and kinky red hair. It's about the time she begins to trust him implicitly that this is fixed, leaving him thin and beautiful with perfect face and hair.

     Western Animation  
  • Bramble, the villain of the Bitsy Bears pilot is relatively unattractive, with a dry bob haircut, but the instant she thinks about reforming, she suddenly becomes more attractive with long, wavy hair. (Seriously, it changes between frames. You can see it starting at 3:45)
  • Played with in Earthworm Jim. Princess Whats-Her-Name is a gorgeous human looking woman with bee wings who seeks to free her people from the tyranical rule of her sister, An ugly monster with a giant pus-filled slug for a back side....except by the standards of her species, The queen is the beautiful one while the princess is hideously malformed.
  • The eponymous heroes of Gargoyles are superficially ugly monsters (especially Brooklyn), which barely hides their heroic natures. Some fans of the show find them rather cute.
    • Goliath - if you can get past the wings, fangs, and talons - could be seen as downright handsome. And let's face it, any man with Keith David's voice is going to have less trouble with the ladies than he might otherwise.
    • Brooklyn - if drawn in the right way and angle - gets points for his exotic nature as a Petting Zooperson.
    • And most of the females? Not really ugly at all (although the one we see the most is not all that good either).
  • Goof Troop uses this in an interesting way for just one family. Everyone's favorite Fat Bastard, Pete, has a son, PJ, who is physically his spitting image in terms of body composition, hair color and form, and ear shape. He's also significantly nicer. Pete's face is fairly ugly; PJ's is downright cute. At the very least, he's the male character on the show with the smallest protruding teeth, and often doesn't have protruding teeth at all.
  • On Justice League (and Justice League Unlimited), only two of the big seven are even remotely not conventionally attractive. J'onn, while green, is a shapeshifter who can look however he wants, and Hawkgirl's "weird" look is angelic wings. Now, let's take a look at the villains: Gorilla Grodd, Ultra-Humanite, Parasite, Shade, the White Martians... Except the female ones. And Luthor. Bodies are likewise ridiculously one-note exaggerations, with Top-Heavy Guy being the norm— and not just in body, but with chins that would make Jay Leno blush. Not surprising, given that they're based on comicbook characters (easily the worst offender anywhere). Ultra-Humanite happens to also be a subversion in the comics as his power is stealing bodies and he did once steal the body of a beautiful woman.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Rarity (she's as beautiful as she is generous) and Fluttershy (she's as beautiful as she is kind).
    • Princess Celestia although she is more a Hot Goddess. She is drawn more aesthetically... more clean, shiny, "beautiful", and pretty... compared to the rest of the cast. It's implied that she is (or fits) the ideal for equine beauty in Equestria; for example, the beauty parlor in Ponyville has a picture of a pony with her tall and slender proportions.
  • Teen Titans. The Titans themselves do fight ugly villains or even twisted looking monsters. Inverted with Jinx, Blackfire, Madame Rouge...
  • Fusions in Steven Universe sometimes have extra features from being composed of two people, but how neatly they come together seems indicative of the health of the relationship. Stable, heroic fusions like Opal and Garnet have relatively few extra features that mesh harmoniously with the rest of their appearance, while Sugilite, a destructive and potentially dangerous fusion, is more beastly in form, boasting five eyes, pronounced fangs, and two sets of arms that blend at the shoulder. Alexandrite, while more 'balanced' than Sugilite, is still a bizarre-looking mess, which makes sense as she's all three Crystal Gems trying to act as one.
    • The antagonistic fusion Malachite is barely even humanoid, with a second torso where her hips should be, two independently-operating sets of eyes, and four extra arms that serve as legs. Her components are using each other for selfish gain- Jasper is just using Lapis for the power boost, and Lapis is using the fusion to take control of and imprison Jasper.

     Real Life 
  • The Halo effect is a documented psychological phenomenon wherein people's judgment on another person's traits spills over to other (unrelated) traits. So the perception is that beautiful = good/competent, ugly = bad/incompetent, further proof that life is indeed unfair.
    • To go even further, in social psychology there exists such a thing as "self fulfilling prophecies" that further cements the "halo effect". Those who are treated as good or bad people (even if only on the basis of their appearance) will be prone to behave accordingly. That is, those who are treated good, will behave good in return and vice versa.
  • The 1960 US presidential election debates were the first to be televised. Polls showed that those who watched the debate on television thought the handsome John F. Kennedy had won the debate, while those who listened on the radio thought the sweaty, uncomfortable looking Richard Nixon had won. Of course, TV being a relatively emergent technology that was only just starting to be adapted at the time could have resulted in differences in the demographics of television owners and non-television owners. And, of course, while it might be a poor reason to not vote for someone because they look like a slightly-crazed, paranoid, crook, the fact that Nixon in fact turned out to be a slightly-crazed, paranoid, crook is of no little relevance.
    • Even more interesting: While Kennedy was the president who brought the US military into The Vietnam War full-force (before then, we were supplying troops but it was not an official war), the less-attractive Lyndon Johnson has tended to receive the lion's share of the blame for the conflict. Nixon was the one who eventually pulled us out, but this is rarely mentioned, mainly due to (a) his "tough talk" rhetoric that made this seem unlikely (even though it was actually key to executing the policy at all), (b) his initial escalation of the fighting, and (c) did we mention that this was Richard Nixon?
      • Although here a number of other factors are at least as important, if not more so. John F. Kennedy's image was retroactively enhanced by his assassination, which conveyed a kind of secular sainthood on him and made a lot of people forget how controversial he had been in life, and also by the fact that there weren't many news stories involving Vietnam during his administration. Johnson, in contrast, had to deal with bad news from Vietnam throughout his two terms. And while Nixon got the US Army out of Vietnam, the way that happened was perceived as a humiliating defeat, with e. g. the images of the hurried evacuation of the U.S. embassy in Saigon sticking in the public conscious for decades to come.
  • During the Victorian era, this concept was widely held to be true; a person's physical appearance was a reflection on their morality and social standing. The introduction discusses 19th Century quackery discourses of Phrenology and Physiognomy as an attempt to quantify and qualify these dubious claims. While the latter discipline was not unique to the 19th Century, its influence and popularity reached a zenith during the Georgian, Regency, and especially, Victorian eras. This wasn't surprising, since one's wealth typically coincided with the degree of their access to proper necessities which made beauty even possible; as a result, today's "average" was yesterday's "god-like."
  • In Spanish, "to be" can be translated as two different verbs (ser and estar) "ser buena" (to be good) means to be a good/nice person, and "estar buena" (literally translated also: "to be good") means being physically attractive (although usually "hot" more than "beautiful"). This might be because ser means "to be a certain way inherently" whereas estar draws its distinction in definition from meaning something more like "to be a certain way at a specific time." In other words, "ser buena" most means "to be good inherently," whereas the most literal translation for "estar buena" could be "to be good for the moment" and not necessarily as a regular thing. This suggests that Spanish-speaking cultures are probably at least somewhat aware of beauty's tendency to be fleeting and superficial, and have therefore linked it to temporary and superficial goodness in their language. The connection—however tenuous—between being physically attractive and being morally upright is still there, however.
    • That whole mess can technically be avoided with other adjectives (bonito/a, hermoso/a, guapo/a, etc.). In these cases one can say, for example, ser bonita (to be naturally pretty) or estar bonita (to be pretty at the moment, by dressing up for example).
  • The ancient Greeks took this very, very seriously. Kaloi k'agathoi ("the Beautiful and the Good") was what Greek aristocrats called themselves. To be beautiful was considered a gift from the gods and was a sign of their favor. This allowed good-looking Greeks to get away with things just because they were beautiful, and occasionally hurt ugly people when accused of a crime. For instance:
    • Phryne, an Athenian courtesan known for her beauty, was once accused of a form of blasphemy. At trial, her defense consisted, at least in part, of stripping off her clothes and saying to the (all-male) jury: "Would you dare destroy this?" She was acquitted—which, to be fair, wasn't purely lust on the part of the jury; again, exceptional beauty was seen as a sign of divine favour, so at least some of the jurors may have feared that by executing the exceedingly beautiful Phryne, they would risk the wrath of the gods, or at least figured that one so favoured by the gods was incapable of committing blasphemy. The Athenians have later passed a law that from now on, judges are not to look at the defendants.
    • Socrates, on the other hand, was famously ugly (both Aristophanes and Plato make quite a few "ugly guy" jokes at Socrates' expense). This may have figured into the decision to convict Socrates at trial (the decision to execute him, on the other hand, was more or less because of what he said).
  • Public opinion in any trial by media scenario will often fall in line with this trope. Missing White Woman Syndrome (always pretty, young girls) is an obvious real-life relation, and people often have harsher reactions to unusual looking suspects (as opposed to attractive serial killers mentioned below, who often get fanmail or marriage proposals). Even non-criminal media scandals get this reaction. Take, for example, public perception of the British Royal Family. Princess Diana is lovingly remembered, despite having affairs as her former husband did, while Prince Charles is unpopular and Lady Camilla is largely hated, and both are mocked for their appearance.
  • According to an actual scientific subject on the topic, beautiful criminals usually get more lenient sentences then their ugly counterparts, regardless of the severity of their crime, but when the crime in question is fraud, the tables are turned: attractive frauds almost consistently get the longest convictions. Psychologists believe that this is due to the fact that people find themselves betrayed when this trope isn't played straight, and react far more severely. A beautiful thief or murderer can be explained as a victim of the circumstances, but a beautiful fraud explicitly uses their appearance to deceive and mislead people, and they just can't forgive that.
  • William Howard Taft was the last president elected before photographs became a standard feature of newspapers (somewhat obviously).
  • The opposite assumption—Ugliness Equals Evil—is exhibited in the various meanings of the Arabic word qabīḥ. Its most common meaning is simply "ugly," but it can also mean "disgusting" or "monstrous" or, well, "evil" (as an adjective). However, the more usual word for "evil" is shirrīr, and the other meanings of qabīḥ only occur to the educated, so it's not played entirely straight (except in the Maghreb, where it is the colloquial word for "bad"—not "evil," but "bad"note ).
  • This could be one of the principles behind Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male, since the cultural standard for "female" is "beautiful." You can see this in action when it comes to things like child molestation and statutory rape. Mary Kay Letourneau does her 12-year-old student? Have you seen what Mary Kay Letourneau looks like? Either he must have wanted it, or he was gay.
  • Recent pictures of Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding seem to play this trait pretty straight. Kerrigan still looks youthful and gorgeous, while Harding (who, as anyone who was alive during the 1990s remembers, conspired with her ex-husband and bodyguard to break her rival Kerrigan's leg to render her incapable of competing in the Olympics), looks a bit like the mother from The Fighter after a few more years' hard living.
  • The cast of the Harry Potter films - at least with the kids - plays it somewhat straight. Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Rupert Grint (Ron), Emma Watson (Hermione), and Tom Felton (Draco), who have never gotten into legal trouble and have good public images, are all thin and lauded for their looks. Jamie Waylett (Crabbe), who was arrested for drug possession and sentenced to a two-year prison sentence, looks like this. Quite a contrast, eh?
  • Many Christian denominations believe human souls will be reunited with their bodies on Judgment Day, and their bodies will be transformed. The righteous will receive beautiful, glorified bodies that resemble extremely idealized versions of themselves, while the wicked will be placed in twisted, pain wracked versions of their old bodies.
  • Unfortunately, it's for this reason that animals people consider cute or charismatic get better protection than creepier or menacing looking ones. It's the reason What Measure Is a Non-Cute? exists.

  • Fairytales and folklore are chock-full of this so much that in many cases 'ugly' is shorthand for 'completely deficient as a human being in every conceivable way possible.'
    • But be wary. The Shape Shifting Lover, if male, may be hideous before the change, and a hideous old woman may be enchanted and truly young and beautiful.
  • Other than the odd tchotchke made to cater to ethnic appeal, angels are always shown with flowing blonde hair, beatific bordering on vacant smiles, rosy to pure white skin and sparkling azure eyes. Never will you see one with pock marked skin, a big nose or even mouse brown hair. Made even more ridiculous since angels in The Bible look like the stuff of nightmares.

Subversions and played-with examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga  
  • Gilgamesh of Fate/stay night is a fair-skinned, red-eyed, golden armor-wearing spiky haired blond Bishōnen who happens to be an A-rank douchebag and firmly rooted in the villain camp. He is given plenty of depth however, and though he is evil he has a clear set of morals.
  • Played around with quite a bit in Death Note, in just about every permutation:
    • Villain Protagonist Light Yagami is popular, impeccably groomed and dressed, has girls fawning over him everywhere. He seems good at first, but turns into the worst serial killer in history and a Magnificent Bastard who manipulates everyone around him with no consideration for their feelings.
      • However, this is played straight with Light when he loses his memories of the Death Note for a brief period of time. He is a really great guy, the complete opposite of Kira, and he is still gorgeous.
    • In contrast, L, the detective chasing Kira, is gangly, funny-looking, and has permanent bags under his eyes; most girls in-story won't even look at him twice, and he has no friends. But he's the world's greatest detective, with a strong determination to take down the murderer, albeit using somewhat questionable methods. He's often considered Ugly Cute, granted, but this was unintentional.
    • Misa Amane is a supermodel who turns into a serial killer, though she thinks she's doing it for a good reason; she's genuinely kind and friendly aside from her actions as the second Kira.
    • Ryuk, the Shinigami, plays this trope relatively straight: he looks like a monster, and he's a nut who doesn't care who lives or dies as long as he's entertained, and he uses humans as playthings. He'd be another Magnificent Bastard if he weren't so lazy.
    • Shinigami Rem still looks somewhat scary, but she's softer and more feminine than Ryuk, and she does what she does out of a sense of duty to a fallen friend, along with genuine compassion for Misa which leads to a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Then there's Sidoh, who's ugly as normal for a Shinigami, but isn't so much evil as pathetic and pitifully stupid.
    • Virtually all of the common criminals are butt-ugly. I guess breaking the law only makes you ugly if you do it without the help of a Shinigami.
    • Then there's Mello and Near, where this trope is REALLY played around with. On the one hand, Near is like L in that he is an anti-heroic antagonist who uses questionable methods, yet he looks like a cute little boy. Meanwhile, Mello is an extreme Byronic Hero who commits some pretty appalling crimes just so he can beat Near in catching Kira, yet he is a pretty handsome guy to start with. His face gets scarred later on, but even then he is arguably still pretty attractive.
  • The psychopathic Johan is easily Monster's best-looking character.
  • Averted in Paprika. The obese Tokita appears to have no deep and dark issues with his weight, being a happy, brilliant, affable scientist, and it turns out the girl of his dreams, Chiba, is plenty enthralled with him as well, and they get married!
  • Commonly subverted or played with in One Piece. Ugly characters often turn out to be stalwart and good in their own right, and more conventionally attractive characters can be really, really awful or kind of ambiguous at best.
    • Unless they're women. Nine times out of ten, attractive women are good (Nami, Vivi, Robin, Hancock) while ugly women are evil (Alvida pre-transformation, Miss Merry Christmas, Big Mom). There is the occasional subversion, though, where an attractive woman can be evil (Miss Doublefinger, Kalifa, Monet) and an ugly woman is good (Kokoro, Lola).
  • Kintano from Angel Densetsu is the Nice Guy, The Pollyanna, All-Loving Hero, and an Actual Pacifist. His face, however, makes small children cry.
  • Beauty may equal goodness, but on one show in particular, "Beauty" equals...exasperation (constantly).
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! toys with it in the person of Marik Ishtar. He's a Bishōnen in a Bare Your Midriff outfit who has all the fangirls fawning over him. He's also a Manipulative Bastard who plots to Take Over the World via Mind Rape. He's later revealed to have a Superpowered Evil Side with Omnicidal Maniac and Combat Sadomasochist tendencies; this identity (Dark Marik), is also far, far, uglier with grotesque facial features, Anime Hair, bulging eyes, Tainted Veins, and a much more brutal, muscular build. So beauty equals evil, but ugly equals more evil?
  • Trinity Blood subverts this beautifully. Deitrich is described as having "the face of an angel and the heart of a devil". Despite his beautiful appearance he's evil. In addition, during the final battle in the anime Cain's ultimate form resembles a heavenly angel, while Abel's ultimate form resembles a demon from hell
  • Interesting case in Mobile Suit Victory Gundam. Katejima Loos is portrayed as a beautiful girl in her late teens. The series protagonist, Uso, certainly thinks so, since he has a crush on her. She starts out as one of the main heroic cast, but slowly shows her true colors of being a Manipulative Bitch. Even when it's clear that she's far from good, Uso refuses to believe that she's evil, even when she tries to kill him on multiple occasions. This changes near the end of the series, when he finally wakes up and fights her back. She even points this out, afterwards, acting shocked that her charms no longer work.
  • The main character's best friend in the light novel of Ghost Hunt gets hit hard with this trope. Shibuya Kazuya is stunningly beautiful, even after a rough night with next to no sleep at all. Naturally Mai and her two best friends form instant crushes ... until Mai realises that he's abrasive, cocky, sarcastic, narcissistic and flat-out insulting to just about everyone. What's Michiru's response when she's informed of this? "But ... he's really handsome." Because someone that pretty cannot possibly be a bad person ... Further subverted in that he genuinely does care for his colleagues and clients, and always acts only in the interest of their safety - he just doesn't like to show it.
  • In Anatolia Story, most of the noble characters are portrayed as very beautiful. They're generally divided between being Royals Who Actually Do Something (for example, Kail and his brothers) and those who are incompetent or outright harmful to the wellbeing of their countries (for example, Nakia and Nefertiti). The very hansome Ramses wants to gain power in Egypt so he can better care for its people which is a noble goal, but he also repeatedly tries to kidnap and rape Yuri, leading her to consider him a complete cad. Meanwhile, Nakia and Urhi are very beautiful, but also are incredibly and unbelievably evil. Even worse, their backstories show that their beauty caused the circumstances that lead to them becoming as horrible as they are. Yuri, meanwhile, is very cute by modern day standards, but is initially considered plain by most people in Hattusa, mainly because she's short and flat-chested. As people begin to love her for her kindness and the good things she does for them, they talk about features that they do consider beautiful about her (namely her pale skin and black hair) and her maids imply that her beauty comes from her happy, friendly demeanor.

  • In Byzantine Christian art, most Saints are drawn somewhat ugly to accentuate their Inner Beauty represented by their halo.
  • Many Renaissance portrayals of Saints or Biblical characters were intentionally drawn plain as to avoid inspiring lust for a holy character. However, angels, who were genderless...

     Comic Books  
  • Ben "The Thing" Grimm is one of the most popular characters in the Marvel Universe, despite, or perhaps because, he's a massive rock creature.
  • Beta Ray Bill. He looks like an orange humanoid crocodile/horse hybrid, and is even considered hideous by his own peoples' standards (they normally just look like yellow humanoids with no hair or pupils), yet he is one of the noblest beings in the Marvel Universe. One of the most badass, too. After all, he was the first non-Asgardian to be deemed worthy enough to wield The Mighty Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, which was of course intended to be a shock to both Thor and readers.
  • The Anti-Hero mutant Wolverine—longstanding, undisputed favorite of the X-Men franchise—was originally supposed to be a subversion. Five-foot-nothing, slightly hunched, enough hair on his body to wonder why he didn't wind up with the "Beast" codename, and reportedly, poor personal hygiene (even though you know as well as I do he couldn't maintain hair like that without being half-metrosexual). However, because of Popularity Power, many writers sometimes forget the above description and turn him into a sexy funtastic lady-lovin' machine. Maybe it's animal magnetism, or his fan-favoritism (the current writers were fans in their youth), or they realize that one word has always defined Wolvie: stamina. Even at his ugliest, he looks pretty good for 113!
  • Spider-Girl, in her identity as May Parker, started out as a star basketball player with short hair, a major subversion from just about all the mainstream superheroines who've ever gotten their own series. Since that time, while May has grown her hair a little longer, what little Fanservice exists is rather mild, if not non-existent, compared to what many readers have come to expect.
  • Hellboy was started when the creator, Mike Mignola, wanted a hero that looked like a villain. Hence, Hellboy looks like a demon.
  • Fables has the actual Prince Charming as a major character and also shallow, heartless, bastard. Goldilocks is very attractive and turns out to be murderously violent. Bluebeard is well Bluebeard. Beauty is beautiful but happens to be a total bitch. Bibgy's looks are up for debate but his actions support him being a subversion whether you thing he's good looking or not.
  • Of course, played with often in Watchmen, thanks to the series blurring the lines between ugliness and beauty, and heroism and villainy.
    • Rorschach, despite being one of the main heroes (and most certainly is the star of the book), is ugly as sin. Uneven haircut (and ginger at that), short, pug nose, spotty face, dead eyes, aged face, he's described as being "fascinatingly ugly" by his psychiatrist. Hasn't stopped a small portion of the female fanbase being into him...
    • Ozymandias. Tall, muscular, blonde, handsome, older than he looks, strong features. The "villain" of the series.
      • Of course, these two examples could either be considered an aversion or playing it straight, depending on your point of view.
    • Played the straightest with Nite Owl II, who is a little hefty and wears thick glasses but is considered very handsome by at least two characters.
    • Silk Spectre II is rather stunning, like her Mom, but she doesn't care for the hero thing at all.
      • Her Mom, Silk Spectre I, was a successful hero because she was a beauty. It was publicity to help her movie career.
    • Dr Manhattan rebuilt himself in the shape of the ideal man and the classical hero, standing well over six feet with statuesque features. He even walks around naked. However, he doesn't care at all for heroism.
    • The Comedian is tall, handsome and has "badboy appeal", which also plays the trope straight except... he's not much of a hero. It straightens out again when his scars and age reduce his good looks to a rather leathery looking ball of meat.
  • In Sin City, physical beauty in general is not a good barometer for morality in a setting like this, even though some of the heroes do play it very straight.
  • One Two-Face comic subverts this nicely. After he gets the surgery to fix the mangled side of his face his split personality is cured and he no longer needs the coin. Too bad the mangled side of his face represented the good Harvey Dent, and without it he sinks completely into evil and is no longer held back by his good side.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In The Three Spinners, three hideous women offer to help the heroine with her spinning. Unlike Rumpelstiltskin, all they want is to be invited to the wedding. When the heroine does, they assure her husband that their hideous looks stem from their endless spinning and thus get the heroine off the hook forever.
  • There are countless fairy tales where the protagonist is given vital aid on their quests by dwarves, crones, and sometimes even giant, disembodied heads, such as the King of England's Three Sons, where the youngest son meets three ugly brothers along the way.
  • In the story of "Tatterhood", the eponymous heroine is filthy and dresses in rags while wearing a goat. Her sister is traditionally beautiful, but is a Damsel in Distress and contributes virtually nothing to the story besides having her head stolen by trolls. The end of the fairy tale does prove that she can be beautiful if she wants, but she makes it clear that she prefers to be ugly.
  • There is a fairy tale where a girl is So Beautiful, It's a Curse and is harassed by many attractive, wealthy men... one of whom is Satan himself. When she refuses him, the Devil spitefully steals her beauty from her, leaving her ugly and misshapen. Years later, he decides to see what happened to the girl, and is shocked to find that her new ugliness drove away all her unwanted suitors, leaving her Happily Married to an ugly but goodhearted Dogged Nice Guy.
  • The Golden Branch subverts this trope and then plays it straight - the protagonists are a prince and a princess who are both very ugly and crippled, but are shown as being good-hearted. The princess is even given the choice between being beautiful and being good, and decides that being good is the better option. Their goodness wins them the favor of a fairy, who eventually rewards them both with beauty. Then, they get turned into animals by an evil witch, and have to get turned back after going on a quest.

    Films — Animated 
  • Subversion: The Shrek series has an ogre as the hero, and the love of his life becomes an ogress herself at the end of the first film. By contrast, the handsome Prince Charming (from the second and third films) is a bratty, immature, villainous twit.
  • Played with in Megamind. Metroman, the unambiguous hero who fakes his death because he's tired of the life is all Heroic Build and Lantern Jaw of Justice, but then you have Megamind the villain who becomes good and Titan who turns bad because he can't get the girl. Megamind is a blue alien with giant head, but has huge, puppy-like, instantly endearing Green Eyes complete with eyelashes, while Titan is human but looks and acts like a thug.
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • This was the moral to Disney's Beauty and the Beast - the attractive Gaston is actually a terrible person while the Beast is very kind and gentle. Of course, the Beast himself (as well as the Prince he turns back into) could be considered quite attractive themselves, depending on one's taste.
    • While Tiana and Naveen are plenty attractive in The Princess and the Frog, the animation crew also took great pains to make the sinister Doctor Facilier quite charismatic and attractive as well, to explain how he could lure in unsuspecting victims. And then Ray the Firefly is drawn to resemble an in-bred hillbilly, but is still one of the most insightful and helpful characters.
    • Both applied AND subverted in Tangled- the main leads are all handsome or cute (Disney even had its own female employees choose what Flynn should look like) and two of the villains (the Stabbington Brothers) are ugly- however the main villainess is pretty hot (while young) and the Snugly Duckling Pub Thugs, despite their looks turned out to be nice guys. They even lampshade it in one of the movie's best musical numbers. It's also lampshaded with Flynn's Wanted Poster, which portrays his criminal self as uglier than he actually is.
  • Subverted in both of Disney's Cinderella sequels, where Anastasia is an ugly stepsister but is a nicer person. She's a little better drawn arguably, but it's more of a result of her not scowling all of the time.
    • It's easier to list the times Disney averts or subverts this trope than the many, many times it plays it straight. Besides the aforementioned Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and Frozen both have beautiful leads and antagonists who use their beauty to manipulate others — Vanessa for the former and Prince Hans for the latter.
  • Double Subversion in Bartok the Magnificent, where the ugly Russian witch Baba Yaga is actually portrayed as being a benign character, and she even makes a magic potion that can make people on the outside 10 times what they are on the inside. According to Yaga, the titular bat is supposed to drink the potion, which will turn him into a brave hero, but the potion is later stolen by the evil Ludmilla, who is portrayed as being beautiful. Ludmilla actually wants to use Jaga's potion to make her even more beautiful so she can take over Russia, but when she finally drinks it, said potion realizes that Ludmilla is evil once consumed, and as a result it turns her into a dragon.
  • The villain of Happily N'Ever After 2 starts out ugly and turns herself beautiful so she can marry the king.
  • Strange Magic: The film subverts it early on when the text book prince-level handsome Roland turns out to be a cheating jerk. It also subverts it with the Bog King, a ugly insect humanoid who turns out to be surprisingly heroic after falling in love. Roland turns out to be the Big Bad and the Aesop is literally stated out loud (albeit for Hypocritical Humor).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Subverted very cruelly in Audition when the lonely, widowed male lead discovers that his beautiful, demure bride-to-be is Ax-Crazy.
  • Subverted in Mean Girls.
  • Inverted in the 1953 sci-fi movie It Came from Outer Space where the hideous one-eyed aliens are not launching a covert invasion of Earth; they only want to quietly repair their spaceship and leave without conflict.
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. An alien that can at best be described as wrinkled and stubby, and also one of the most sympathetic and beloved characters in cinema history.
  • Averted, lampshaded and parodied in the Austin Powers movies where the hero doesn't look good at all and one of the first things said to him after he is unfrozen is that he should get a make over for his teeth. At the end of one of the movies when they watch a movie based on Austin Powers (yeah.) Austin is played by Tom Cruise.
  • In the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only, Aris Kristatos, a handsome Greek tycoon decorated by the British government for valor during World War II and devoted to his patronage of an aspiring Olympic figure skater Bibi Dahl, warns Bond that Milos Columbo, a swarthy, greasy-haired heroin smuggler, has the encryption device that Bond is attempting to retrieve. When Bond meets with Columbo, he declares that, yes, he is a smuggler, but he never smuggled heroin, and that Kristatos is the real drug smuggler, having warned Bond that he may have to kill Columbo to knock out the competition. By the end of the movie, Kristatos has attempted to kill Bond (and clearly had non-fatherly designs on Bibi), while Colombo aided Bond in taking him down.
  • Christopher Johnson and his son of District 9 are the only two white spots in an otherwise Black and Gray Morality Crapsack World. They also happen to be giant space roaches.
  • Lampshaded and subverted throughout Passione d'Amore. The good-looking male has an affair with a good-looking married woman. (She gets away with stringing him along because she's pretty.) Then, he gets sent to some backwater area and starts to interact with the local colonel's daughter, whom everybody agrees is quite ugly. It also shaped her character: even her parents avoided contact with her. She never gets a 'beautiful all along' makeover, but he eventually falls in love with her anyway. Then she dies. And he goes to tell his pretty lover that he isn't taking her shit anymore. It's mainly notable for the 'pretty dude/ugly woman' pairing.
  • Played with in The Avengers (2012). All the good guys are played by a very handsome/beautiful cast but Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, is very handsome as well. But the Chitauri and their leader Thanos is hardly what you would call good-looking.
  • The US Navy's sexual harassment training videos subvert this trope. In an example of quid pro quo sexual harassment, the protagonist is an unattractive girl who does a good job and only wants recognition for her hard work. The two antagonists are a male sailor who has the power to pick the Sailor of the Quarter and an attractive blonde sailor who is chosen for this position with heavy implications that she is chosen only because she slept with the guy who makes the decisions.
  • In Small Soldiers the owner of Globotech assumes the human Comando Elite are the heroes while the odd looking Gorgonites should be the villains due to this trope. The reverse is actually true.
  • All over the place in The Hobbit. All of the elves are impossibly beautiful, but while you have Elrond, Galadriel and Tauriel, you also have the unrepentantly Jerkass Thranduil, and Legolas is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. The orcs and goblins play this straight as well; they're just as cruel and wicked as they are hideous. The dwarves are very much the opposite of the elves, fittingly: all of them are good people, but while you have Bombur, you also have Thorin. Which itself is an inversion, as Bombur is portrayed as a pretty good guy in both book and film, but Thorin is a bit more complicated...

    Live-Action TV 
  • In a Saturday Night Live skit, an angel comes to a woman in the hospital and asks her to take his hand so he can heal her, but she's extremely distrustful of him because he's dressed in all black, has black wings, and, well, he's played by Christopher Walken. He points out that if he was trying to deceive her and take her life, he'd be more subtle about it and come disguised as a beloved dead relative. Moments later, her late grandmother appears and kills her.
  • Subverting this trope is the basis of much of the humor of comedienne Sarah Silverman. When performing, she has the appearance, mannerisms, and voice of a sweet, innocent young woman. It takes a while for what she is actually saying to sink in...
  • The staff on the upper floors of The IT Crowd are, as suggested, "a lot of sexy people not doing much work and having affairs". And they're all horrible, mean people. At least to Moss and Roy, anyway.
  • Lost in Space episode "The Golden Man''. Two aliens are in conflict: the handsome title character and his ugly frog-like opponent. The Golden Man turns out to be the bad guy.
  • One of the "conditions" in The Conditions of Great Detectives is that if a beautiful woman is involved in the case, they're more likely to be the murderer than an unattractive one. So it's the job of the "supporting characters" to never suspect or question these people. Of course, this is regularly double subverted.
  • Played straight in the original series of Star Trek with Captain Kirk. Gene Roddenberry was originally opposed to casting a bald lead for Star Trek: The Next Generation due to this trope, but changed his mind after seeing Patrick Stewart's audition. Stewart was later called the "The Sexiest Man on TV" by TV Guide, bald head and all; this is telling.
    • Speaking of baldness, the Doctor in Star Trek: Voyager is bald, has Big Ol' Eyebrows (although neither of those are inherently unattractive) and generally will not win any beauty pageants. He's one of the show's most popular characters, and a good guy (albeit a pretty jerkish good guy). As a hologram, he could look like anyone who's on the ship's records, but generally doesn't.
    • There's actually plenty of instances in the original series of Star Trek where good-looking people are the villains (or most of the time, Affably Evil). Not sure if this would be a subversion, aversion, or some variation, but the women in "Mudd's Women" are actually very ugly unless they take a pill which makes them radiantly beautiful. It's later revealed to be a case of the Placebo Effect, and the women's beauty was merely a factor of their self confidence. They then become beautiful without the pill.
    • Spock himself quoted this trope in the episode "Is There In Truth No Beauty", commenting on the Greek ideal that "what is beautiful must therefore be good." The episode subverted: Kollos, a member of a race described as so ugly that no one can look at them without going mad, turns out to be friendly and helpful when he shares minds with Spock, but his human aide Miranda, while very attractive, is cold and aloof, and later jealous of Kollos' bond with Spock. Kirk himself admits, "Most of us are attracted by beauty and repelled by ugliness — one of the last of our prejudices."
  • X5s in Dark Angel tend to be attractive, but that's down to genetic engineering (and being played by Jessica Alba or Jensen Ackles). Manticore transgenics with more bizarre appearances are also generally good guys.
  • An unsung aversion is The Muppet Show and to some extent Sesame Street as well. With muppets it doesn't matter what a muppet looks like as to how good or bad a person uh puppet will be. And at least on The Muppet Show it was even true with the guest stars you couldn't tell how nice or mean they would be purely based on looks. In fact the more you like a muppet, the more you like the way they look.
  • Oh so very averted with Julie Cooper in The O.C., widely acknowledged as beautiful, but also suffers from Chronic Villainy.
  • Subverted in the Doctor Who serial Galaxy Four, with the beautiful female Drahvins (who turn out to be the villains) and the hideous Rills (the good guys). Also somewhat subverted, a lot of the time, by the character of the Doctor himself.
    • In the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Timewyrm: Revelations by Paul Cornell, Ace finds a pack of double-sided Tarot cards which symbolise the Doctor. One of the cards is called "We Are Friends To The Ugly/We War With The Beautiful", and shows the Doctor embracing a many-tentacled monster (possibly a Venusian, or Alpha Centuri from the Peladon stories) and confronting a calm humanoid.
    • The most common source of Cowboy Bebop at His Computer in Doctor Who news is journalists assuming that the most hideous looking alien in a given story is "the monster".
    • The first story to intentionally and properly subvert the trope is "The Sensorites" - the Sensorites are hideous beings (similar to the Ood in the new series) who are introduced to us performing a constant campaign of psychic Mind Rape on the occupants of a human spaceship, its hideous face appearing to us from behind a plate of glass as a cliffhanger. As soon as the Doctor starts communicating with the Sensorites, he realises they are peace-loving beings prone to Sensory Overload, misguidedly attacking the humans under erroneous beliefs, and soon patches things up between the ship occupants and the Sensorites. He spends most of the story helping the Sensorites from a gang of evil colonialist humans and protecting the good Sensorites from the token evil Sensorite politician.
    • Played with from all angles by "The Brain of Morbius". Evil Solon is charming and handsome but far nastier than his ugly Igor Expy servant Condo, who is more antiheroic. Yet both Solon and Condo are obsessed with the beauty of the Doctor and Sarah respectively (the good guys) - Condo even tells Sarah that she's better than him because she's pretty, while Solon is fascinated at first sight by the Doctor's face and decides it would be the perfect head for the megalomaniac Morbius - the Doctor, interestingly, isn't conventionally handsome but is very striking and magnetic. The Doctor and Sarah make fun of Morbius's ugliness compared to their own good looks when confronting him at the end of the story, but it's because it's a sore point for Morbius, who (it is implied) was known for his charismatic good looks in his last body and claims to experience agony from the sheer experience of being what he currently is. And Sarah only shows fear of Morbius when she sees him for the first time.
  • Averted in universe with Michael Scott of The Office, he truly believes that the more attractive a person is the more trustworthy, honorable etc. they are. Every attractive person Michael puts any trust in are arrogant Jerkasses.
  • In Merlin (2008), any beautiful woman who turns up in Camelot is guaranteed to be evil. The two subversions (Princesses Elena and Mithian) had their beauty used as a deliberate Red Herring to make the audience believe they were evil, before the twist emerges that they were actually good all along.
  • The Singing Ringing Tree zig-zags this trope. The heroine is a princess who, whilst outwardly beautiful, is arrogant and mean-spirited. She later gets cursed with ugliness (which due to limited production values admittedly appears more Hollywood Homely than anything) as a reflection of her inner character, with her outward beauty only being gradually restored as she slowly redeems herself.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): Subverted in the episode "Mind Over Matter". Dr. Stein (Mark Hamill) is experimenting with entering people's minds with the help of an AI, but has unrequited feelings for his colleague Dr. Carter. When she enters a coma after an accident, he plugs her into the machine and spends time with her inside the virtual world. Then the AI goes rogue, admitting that it's fallen in love with Stein and wants him for itself. A being looking like a dishevelled Carter appears to kill the real Carter, prompting Stein to kill the attacker. Except it turns out that the dishevelled-looking Carter was the real one because her mind was only partially active and therefore distorted the avatar. The pretty avatar that he assumed to be Carter was the AI all along.

  • At one point, The Bible describes Abram (later Abraham) worried someone might try to steal his wife Sarai (later Sarah) because he "realized she was beautiful." The Talmud interprets this to mean that she was physically attractive, but that Abram/Abraham connected to her on a spiritual level, so he would have found her beautiful no matter how she looked; he only realized other men might fancy her years after they had been married.
    • It's also been noted that the matriarchs are only described as beautiful when they're also being connected with positive traits; however, rather than playing this trope straight, the interpretations are either a.) beauty only matters when it accentuates goodness or b.) one should find goodness to be beautiful, not beauty to be good.
    • The Messiah, on the other hand, is explicitly described by Isaiah as being ugly, so that no one would be distracted by carnal desire.
      • In keeping with their belief as Christians that Jesus was the Messiah, early descriptions of Jesus were of a short, ugly, hairy man with dark skin and wooly hair. Even early icons of Jesus (before 800 CE) show a very scary, angry looking guy. Early Roman critics of Christianity, such as Celsus, bring up Jesus's ugliness to mock Christians without realizing it was probably they who spread the description in the first place.
    • Inverted hard with Jezebel, whose beauty is meant to emphasize her arrogance and corruption.
    • Also inverted with Satan, who was formerly the angel Lucifer ("light-bearer"). Tradition states that he is still able to take on a beautiful appearance, and if he did so any man who saw him would be overcome with awe and worship him. He's still, well, Satan, the Ultimate Evil in Christianity.
    • 1 Peter 3:3-4 in the New Testament also plays on the theme of the "inner" beauty of character being as important, if not more so, than outward beauty.

     Tabletop Games  
  • Subverted and muddied in Warhammer 40,000. Descriptions of most Space Marines fit the "ruggedly handsome" image, but they're the result of massive genetic engineering and are described by most normal humans as strikingly inhuman. Sisters of Battle and Eldar are often portrayed as beautiful in artwork but books, official content, and Word of God all agree that they're anything but. Physical beauty is also one of the most common gifts bestowed by Chaos God Slaanesh, Prince of Excess and Debauchery.
    • The reasons that the Sisters of Battle don't look as good as their tabletop models are scarring, tattoos, weight, missing body parts, and them not giving a damn about personal appearance.
    • "Though there was no disguising his inhumanity [...] there was the overgrown gigantism of the face, that particular characteristic of the Astartes, almost equine". That's Captain Loken, the definitive Good Guy of the first Horus Heresy book, Dan Abnett's Horus Rising. Also, the book gives us an idea how much Space Marines stink after some time in their powered armor. On the other hand, most Primarchs, who are even taller than Marines, are godlike beautiful.
    • Subversion in Warhammer: See that really hot, half-naked elf woman? She's the Dark Elf Hag Witch who kills children and bathes in their blood. That fat frog guarded by the huge, frightening lizards she's fighting? The frog's a Slann Mage-Priest, and those lizards are Temple Guards, among the noblest soldiers in the world.
    • Played straight to the point of absurdity however with the literal Always Chaotic Evil servants of Chaos, who have an explicit rule that the more they devote themselves to Chaos the more mind-warpingly horrific they become, with the final fate of any Chaos follower being either a gibbering Chaos Spawn with more limbs than IQ points or a massive Daemon Prince with dominion over their own slice of hell.
    • And subverted again with followers of Slaanesh, who are described as Disturbingly beautiful at worst. The ability of the artists and modelers to convey this, however, varies due to individual skill and decency laws.
      • Though played disturbingly straight with Slaanesh's two champions, Lucius and Fulgrim. Fulgrim was one of the most beautiful primarchs while on the side of the Emperor, but now he's a four armed snake thing. Likewise, Lucius was called a pretty boy by his allies because he had never taken an injury in battle. You only start seeing his ugly side after Loken breaks his nose, and when he truly turns, he starts cutting his face up whenever he kills someone. Hence how he looks in the 41st millennium.
    • And to perhaps complete the cycle, there is the case of the Chaos god Nurgle, horrifying and ugly in the most maximal senses of the word, and that’s without factoring in the virulent plagues and diseases has coursing through the very air he resides in, let alone his skin. Bloated, dead looking, maggots and worms writhing everywhere, and one of his attributes is kindness. His followers while all hideously ugly as well, and bloated/diseased, are nonetheless also jovial and welcoming. To make it even more insane, when the Eldar pantheon fell in the birth of Slaanesh, the goddess of fertility, healing, and presumably beauty, Isha, was captured by Slaanesh to be his/her/it's plaything forever. When she screamed and begged for help across the cosmos, none other than Nurgle and his followers wage war on Slaanesh to get Isha out. Nurgle kept her in his garden then and had her drink his plagues - she of course could heal herself, and so would then tell all mortals how to rid themselves of his plagues. While she could leave, canon seems to indicate she willingly stays with Nurgle. He absolutely adores her, and likewise, she loves him.
    • The Dark Eldar greatly value physical perfection and beauty and look the part, their telltale deathly pallor, a consequence of living in a realm with no real sun, notwithstanding. They also happen to be utterly repugnant hedonistic monsters. The black hollow soul of a Dark Eldar is one of the worst things a psyker can see with his/her witch-sight.
  • Completely averted with D&D Tieflings. 2e Tieflings are sexy, usually evil, and possess only a few 'subtle' signs of their heritage (small horns, glowing eyes, etc). 4e Tieflings are hideous and almost always good.
  • Swords and Scorcery Creature Collection - Subverted with False Lovers, paragons of charm and beauty, who can effortlessly win the hearts and souls of any who look upon them. They are able to inspire heroes and heroines to great deeds, give birth to new forms of art and literature, and transform cultures of entire kingdoms with their wit and grace. Yet, ultimately they will betray those dreams, leave a trail of broken lives in their wake, and crush the spirits of those who loved them simply for the evulz. They hide their true cursed nature behind powerful illusions that maintain the semblance of whom they once were before their looks began to wane in the passing of time.
  • Thoroughly averted in Dungeons & Dragons with the Flumph, a race of tentacled aberrations with acid spikes and an attack that overwhelms the enemy with stench... classified as Lawful Good. Apparently this subversion of standard conventions made the Flumph "one of the worst ideas in D&D history". Go figure.

     Video Games  
  • Planescape: Torment subverts this rule more frequently than any other game.
    • The Nameless One is covered from head to toe with scars. So much so that he cannot even see his original, unscarred face underneath them. In any other game, he would serve as a brutish, monstrous villain. Of course, this trope isn't subverted if you choose to play as an evil character.
    • His sidekick, Morte, is a floating, talking skull with large, bulging eyeballs, and seems to be a generally good-natured and amiable character, if a Deadpan Snarker.
    • Dakkon is very old, his frame skinny and his face sagging and withered.
  • In Razes Hell, the cute and cuddly Kewletts are an evil army on a genocidal campaign to destroy those not cute enough by their standards.
  • The Japanese-developed Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War subverts this. The base commander is a Fat Bastard, but the handsome-in-an- Uncanny Valley -way adjutant is The Mole for the Belkans.
  • The Ace Attorney series has twice used a Sibling Yin-Yang to play this straight while also subverting it: Dahlia and Iris in the third game, and Klavier and Kristoph in the fourth.
    • Besides that, there are quite a lot of witnesses who are guilty who subvert the trope. April May, Dee Vasquez, Alita Tiala, Matt Engarde, Cammy Meele, Calisto Yew, and Daryan Crescend all are attractive, but have done very amoral things (most of which are murder). The first game also has Miles Edgeworth, who is very pretty, but a complete Jerkass, but eventually becomes a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and then gets Character Development until he's a much better person.
  • Subverted and played straight in Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete with Phacia and her sisters. Then, played straight in Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete with Lucia. In fact, some NPCs in the game express disbelief at how someone that beautiful can be the Destroyer (which Lucia isn't, but oh, well...).
    • Xenobia and Royce (the aforementioned sisters of Phacia) would probably fall under Evil Is Sexy rather than a subversion of this trope.
  • Subverted in Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy IX. Sephiroth and Kuja are both very attractive, although technically Cloud and Zidane aren't bad looking at all, just not as attractive as the baddies. Sephiroth for one has fangirls (and boys) lusting after him. Not to mention the Badass factor.
    • Also in Final Fantasy X with Seymour. Goofy hair aside, he's one good-looking man despite being an especially nasty piece of work.
  • The various games in the Warcraft series have both subverted this trope and played it straight. Of particular note is Warcraft III, in which the stereotypically ugly orc Thrall rises to become one of Azeroth's greatest heroes, while stereotypically handsome human Arthas falls to irredeemable evil (though he becomes less handsome when he becomes a Death Knight.
    • Many of Warcraft's protagonists aren't traditionally attractive and all but Turalyon and Thrall have been older men. Even Malfurion, an Elf, was a large elderly man with a long grizzly beard. The Antagonists are almost always pretty ugly however.
      • An inversion being the race of Succubi. However they play with this trope as well as they fall in love with their master relatively commonly - and it happens no matter how hideously ugly the summoner can be.
      • It's possible that to demonic senses, which include aura vision and some telepathy, anybody with the magical and mental attributes needed to summon and bind a succubus (and retain life and sanity) is beautiful by definition, one way or another.
  • Pointed out on two occasions in Fire Emblem: Sealed Sword:
    • In the first case, playable character Fir gets manipulated by an Obviously Evil, gonkish pirate into believing he's a good person, and the protagonists are invading pirates. When one of the protagonists points out the pirates thuggish appearance, Fir sarcastically says "Well thats what I get for listening to my mom, and not judging people for their appearance." Note, Fir's mom was Happily Married to a large, and thuggish looking man.
    • In the second, the large, and ugly Gonzales is made an outcast for his grotesque appearance, and forced into the service of the villains. One of the protagonists ends up treating him like a person, and he undergoes a Heel-Face Turn.
  • The Persona games subvert this with Igor, a diminutive hunched old man with bulging, bloodshot eyes, pointed ears, a fiendish grin, and a foot-long nose, who helps the good guys develop their powers while claiming he's just fulfilling his own obligations.
    • That rather depends on the game. A common thread in the Persona games is Igor's role as assistant, and many fans of the first game are still wondering what happened to Philemon, Igor's apparently former boss, and are waiting for that to be explained. As of 4, at least, he's the trope played straight— you're not supposed to trust him (see the Persona 4 entry above for details). And he does outright state he's doing all this for his own reasons— they just happen to align with the hero's this time.
  • Ghost Trick: Despite actually being named Beauty, the female agent of the blue people is probably the most cold-hearted, having kidnapped and threatened a little girl. Beauty was apparently willing to kill her if Sissel stuck around. Even her fawning admirer Dandy took offense to being cruel to Kamilla, though he was complicit in the kidnapping.
    • Yomiel isn't bad-looking (Anime Hair aside, possibly), but is also a depraved criminal. Played straight when he ends up redeeming himself, though not after going through quite a lot.
  • Oddly averted in Yggdra Union partially due to the artstyle; every badguy from the lowest mook to the cruelest boss is cute as hell.
  • Almost subverted in StarCraft. One of the few attractive characters (most of them being alien or plain) does a Face-Heel Turn, and probably the closest thing to good guys in the game are aliens who are only somewhat humanoid... except for Jim Raynor, who is a classic rough-hewn hero and, with one exception, easily the most moral person in the entire series thus far.
    • From another viewpoint, StarCraft can be seen to be completely neutral in this respect, as every race and character is crafted to be both good and evil, in one way or another. The Protoss are noble, but are all but undone by their traditions and hubris; the Terran are very versatile but are almost constantly fighting amongst themselves for power and resources; the Zerg are the stereotypical 'evil' race, but are the only race that's striving to better themselves, and being a hivemind, they have the highest 'integrity' of the races (until a human enters the Swarm and the Overmind dies, which results in said human fighting with the Cerebrates for control over the Swarm...). As far as attractiveness is concerned - beauty is in the eye of the beholder... or in this case, the player. Take, for instance, the release of the Zerg models for StarCraft II by Blizzard - the entire fanbase was falling over themselves in adoration of their favourite spiny, scaled and virulent units.
  • Somewhat subverted in World of Warcraft: While five out of the six Horde races are ugly and monstrous, the Horde itself isn't particularly evil...and the attractive blood elves are one of the most unpleasant of the Horde races. As for the Alliance, the vaguely demonic-looking draenei are usually Lawful Good and probably the most honorable of the lot.
    • Then played straight when the draenei—particularly draenei women—became very obvious perpetual fanservice. Fanart has very quickly caught up to reflect this.
    • Played straight in a Horde quest in the latest expansion, where players help overthrow a cruel but incompetent Orc commander in favour of her more noble sister. The tyrant uses one of the "ugly" Orc female faces with red eyes and a perpetual snarl, while the sister has the most conventionally attractive face available to Orcs.
  • Rise of the Kasai features four playable characters, three of which subvert this trope. Baumusu and Grizz are both old men, Baumusu is bald, burly, heavyset, and is missing an eye. Grizz is wrinkly, thin as a rail, has a huge nose, and is also balding. Both are noble and honorable heroes. Tati is a very attractive female, but is the most morally questionable of the four, to the point that she can make a Face-Heel Turn at the end of the game. Her brother Rau arguably plays this straight as he's a fairly handsome man and arguably the most noble of all four of them. This is played straight with most of the villains, however. The big bad is especially hideous. The Twins are supposed to be very attractive to the point of being able to mind control men, but the game's graphics and the haziness of the scene makes it something of Informed Attractiveness.
  • In the Touhou Project series, hideous and otherwise monstrous entities, some of whom even state outright that they do/have done things we might otherwise consider repugnant in their lives, have been turned into Cute Monster Girls. They are also extremely well-loved by both their creator and the Fandom, even if "human" is their main delicacy.
    • Then there is Saigyou Ayakashi which uses its beauty to lure people to it and then drain their souls.
  • Played straight early in The Witcher, as the bad guys are brutish and ugly compared to the Witchers, who are scarred enough to increase their masculine charm. Act I ends in a conflict between a beautiful witch who has been the town's doctor, and an unruly mob who sell their own children into slavery. This trope fades as good and evil become less clear, and by the end both the Big Bad and Big Good are equally immaculately handsome in their finely-crafted armor.
  • Though it has many straight examples of this trope, Mass Effect also has numerous subversions in all three games of the series.
    • In the first game, Urdnot Wrex is just as ugly and ferocious-looking as most Krogan, and sports a number of old battlescars on his face; however, though he's admittedly an Anti-Hero, Wrex is surprisingly amiable for a Blood Knight Warlord-turned-Mercenary and goes on to become a leader and reformer among the Krogan populace in the sequels.
    • Turians aren't exactly handsome by human standards, sporting insectoid mandibles and spikey exoskeletons; however, the one that joins your team, Garrus Vakarian ends up becoming one of Shepard's closest friends. This is subverted even further in the second game, when Garrus gets shot in the face by a enemy gunship; though he survives, he's inflicted with permanent scarring and plastic surgery isn't brought out as an easy way to keep him "handsome." This doesn't affect his morality in the slightest.
    • Mordin Solus is a very old Salarian with a number of old facial scars from his time in the STG, and is missing one of his cranial horns. Though he's a bit on the morally ambiguous side, there's no denying that he's still a hero who does his best to ensure the safety of his patients and the galaxy at large. After all, he is the Very Model of a Scientist Salarian.
    • In a far more alien example than most, Rachni Queen might be a terrifying insectoid Hive Queen that speaks through the bodies of the dead and dying and her species did engulf the galaxy in war several centuries ago, but she isn't inherently evil. In fact, she's just been imprisoned and enslaved as a means of creating shock-troops; if you release her, she joins forces with you out of gratitude, and honours her promise without any backstabbing.
    • Morinth, one of your optional team-members from the second game, is a beautiful Asari with class and sophistication on her side. She's also a Serial Killer who operates via Mind Raping her victims to death, and has absolutely no empathy for anyone she has to kill in order to feed her hunger for power.

    Web Comics 
  • It's hard to convey beauty in a cartoony style, but in Sinfest, Informed Attractiveness is used to convey the depths of Lil' Evil's Amnesiac Dissonance.
  • Flying Fox Man in League of Super Redundant Heroes is thought to be one of the cities many young and handsome billionaires. While the real man behind the mask is indeed a billionaire he is ugly as sin and middle aged underneath his mask, and is getting tired of no one suspecting him.
  • Sergeant Schlock of Schlock Mercenary is an... interesting variation on this trope. While no one can deny that he is one of the protagonists, and that he does have his Jerk with a Heart of Gold moments, it is repeatedly noted that he is an alien that looks like a pile of fecal matter.
    • On the other hand, thanks to genetic engineering, any genes that can make a person "unattractive," have been weeded out. One character even mentions that all of humanity's females now have ample bosoms. Interestingly, this subverts the trope harshly, as it means that if you're a human, then you can be good or evil and still be pretty.
  • In Homestuck, multiple characters, including the Author Avatar, comment that Kankri is really cute and adorable-looking. However, this does not change the fact that he is a boring, self-important asshole, or make people respond to him in any more positive a way.
    • Calliope is an 'ugly little skull-monster', but nevertheless has a gracious, beautiful personality. However, she shares her body with her brother, who is every bit as ugly in character as he looks.
    • Edged by Karkat, who is (like Kankri) apparently cute-looking and is a good guy, albeit a Good Is Not Nice guy who (at least initially) is disliked by many of his peers for his extremely difficult personality.
  • Bob the Angry Flower meets a very ugly mutant and outright tells it that something so ugly had better be evil. Turns out it's one of his victims.

     Web Original  

     Western Animation  
  • Played straight and inverted in Lady Lovely Locks: the hero, "Lady Lovely Locks" is good and has lovely blonde hair, while her enemy is Duchess Raven Waves, a beautiful princess and troublemaker. (This series was made to appeal to young girls.)
  • My Little Pony had a few aversions, and at least one deliberate subversion: In the episode "Fugitive Flowers", the main characters help a group of sentient flowers escape from the "crabnasties"; they regret it later when it turns out the crabnasties are a police force, and the "flories" are escaped convicts. It becomes clear that their respective appearance made it hard for Posey to consider, but all in all, the ugly crabnasties end being the Big Damn Heroes of the episode.
    • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the parasprites are utterly adorable. They also constantly eat any and all food they can find (and, after Twilight messes them up with magic, any non-food they can find) and reproduce in a revolting manner. The fourth gen is generally devoid of ugly mook villains - the changelings are bug-like but still fairly aesthetically pleasing, Sombra and Nightmare Moon were sinister but attractive, and Discord's mismatched appearance makes him look weird and strange rather than ugly. Discord ultimately becomes a straight-up inversion when he reforms: He looks his usual chaotic and borderline ugly self, but other than being kind of a jerk he is ultimately a good person... pony... thing.
  • Inverted in the episode "Stage Fright" of My Life as a Teenage Robot. Jenny, who was rejected from performing in the school's dramatic production of Romeo and Juliet, believes the school is playing the trope straight by accepting only human actors, but when aliens crash land and attempt to warn everyone of an alien invasion (simply by shouting "Alien invasion!"), Jenny is quick to face them on the grounds that they're hideous. When the actual invaders arrive, they're beautiful energy beings with slight feminine figures...who quickly attempt to conquer. In the end, both Jenny and the uglier aliens are cast in the school play as the leading roles.
  • Total Drama has three of the four main antagonists being shown as extremely attractive (two of them, Justin and Alejandro, even using their looks to get ahead).
  • An episode of Xiaolin Showdown had a Villain of the Week use this trope to her advantage. As long as she's in water, she looks like a beautiful mermaid, and gives the group a sob story about how she's the last mermaid in the world, being hunted by an evil Viking. She's pretty, the Viking is ugly...naturally, they believe her until the Viking sets them straight—he's the good guy here, and she's a monster. Then it turns out that, out of the water, the mermaid becomes a hideous giant monster.
  • Thunder Cats
    • The episode "Good and Ugly" did this, with the heroes having to choose which of two visiting aliens to help; the good guy turned out to be the ugly one. They even ended the episode with a "good and ugly" joke.
    • Of course the show usually plays the trope straight with the ThunderCats all being portrayed as attractive, while their enemies, Mumm-Ra, the Mutants, and Lunataks are ugly.
  • The Guardian Angel in Adventure Time uses this trope to get Finn to trust her immediately. Big mistake.
    • Finn does this a lot, although he doesn't appear to necessarily judge by "beautiful" so much as "cute and helpless".
      • The show itself mostly avoids this, with adorable characters such as Me-Mow and the Cutie King being evil and the comparatively hideous Cinnamon Bun and Tree Trunks being the sweetest of the characters.
      • However, when Princess Bubblegum becomes temporarily ugly, she immediately becomes more vicious.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender plays with this a lot. When Zuko is first introduced the viewers' attention is immediately drawn to his huge facial scar, and he at first seems a fairly stereotypical arrogant, hot-tempered villain. However, once the initial shock of his disfigurement has passed, you start to notice that he would actually be a very Pretty Boy without it, and he soon starts getting a lot of Character Development and revealed Hidden Depths as the series progresses. Plus, once Zuko's hair gets a bit longer, it draws a bit less attention to his scar. Fire Lord Ozai is another case of playing with this trope, as his face is obscured with shadow for his first appearances, but his cruelty and menacing voice are very clear, making the eventual discovery that he is just as handsome as Zuko would have been without the scar that much more surprising.
    • Azula and her Quirky Miniboss Squad are all physically attractive, and they are all bad guys. The two sidekicks eventually have a Heel-Face Turn, but Azula remains evil throughout.
    • Uncle Iroh is one of the few firebenders who is clearly good right from the start, and he is a fat, blunt-featured old man.
    • On the good guys side, Katara and Suki are the only ones who would be called conventionally beautiful. While none of the characters are really unattractive, their appearances tend to be somewhat goofy or unusual, and any attractiveness has more to do with their personalities than appearances.
  • The Legend of Korra carries on the tradition of its predecessor by playing with the trope. It's especially notable for Asami, who initially appears to subvert it by having a design that encompasses numerous traits usually affiliated with villains. She looks like an Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette, she wears makeup and eyeshadow, dresses in black and red, and capures Mako's heart with minimal effort. But it turns out that this trope is played perfectly straight with her; she's a Sheep in Sheep's Clothing and is just as good on the inside as she is on the outside who becomes a core member of Team Avatar all the way to the end of the series.
  • The Powerpuff Girls have a "Substitute Creature" that covers for Ms. Keane. They think he is evil because he is a monster and fear the worse. It turns out he is a nice guy and sets the girls straight.
    Blossom: I guess we shouldn't judge someone based on what they look like.
    Bubbles: Even if they're as ugly as you.

     Real Life  
  • All visual propaganda uses this. Showing how evil your opponents are would take up too much space on the poster — more or less subtle differences in beauty are used instead.
    • Nazi propaganda continuously portrayed the regime's enemies as shrunken, deformed subhumans, and eulogised the handsome, dashing, blond-haired blue-eyed Aryan hero. The regime itself was obsessed with its image. Even Adolf Hitler himself had adoring fangirls.
    • The US portrayed the Japanese as fanged snake people in wartime cartoons and comics.
    • And, turnabout being fair play, the Japanese depicted the British and Americans as demonic (tricksy shapeshifters or brutish oni).
  • Newborn infants prefer to look at attractive faces (about 80%), than less attractive or plain ones. This is due to the aesthetic, symmetric appeal of a beautiful face, suggesting that inbuilt preferences are involved which help babies make sense of their environment.
  • USA Presidents:
    • Warren Harding, considered the most incompetent president in American history. It was his outward appearance rather than any outstanding internal qualities that contributed most strongly to his political success.
    • On the opposite end of the spectrum, Abraham Lincoln, often considered to be America's best president, was thin-faced and wrinkly. His opponents mocked him for having the face of a horse-thief. Most pictures of him smooth out his face quite a bit. There's some evidence that he was actually medically deformed due either to Marfan's Syndrome or to multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2b (a genetic disease which creates small tumors and "marfinoid" appearance), also explaining his extremely unusual height.
Interestingly, people who actually met Lincoln described him as much more attractive in person than in pictures, because he had some quality about him that couldn't be captured by a camera or canvas. His personal secretary once said "there are many pictures of Lincoln, but no portrait of him."
  • Quite a few serial killers (such as Ted Bundy) subvert this trope nastily when it comes to using good looks to lure potential victims. They first invoke it by getting women to automatically trust them on their good looks alone ("He wouldn't hurt anyone, just look at how hot/cute/handsome he is!").
  • This trope came out to play regarding Susan Boyle. When she walked on stage, the judges of Britain's Got Talent looked at her awkward appearance and assumed she was going to be a total disaster. When she had an amazing voice come out of her mouth, the judges were visibly floored, and left commentators asking why we assume lack of physical beauty automatically means lack of talent.
  • In French, the term "vilain", from which the English word "villain" is derived, originally designated serfs or peasants but can now be used interchangeably to mean both "ugly" and "naughty".
  • The Ghetto Bug looks like the unholy offspring of a spider and a cockroach, is nightmarishly fast, and can slip through almost any crack. And they're on our side. They're harmless to humans, tend to only come out when we're asleep, don't damage foodstuffs or household structures, and prey on pretty much every kind of household pest that doesnote . They also serve as a radar; an abundance of these benevolant creepy-crawlies will give you a heads up that you undoubtedly have an as-of-yet unnoticed infestation of something else.

Alternative Title(s):

Goodness Equals Beauty