So I must wrestle with this natural instinct. I must realize that "eye candy" is bad for the soul. It's just another way of behaving like a beggar.
If a character is beautiful, then that character is a bad person, either publicly or secretly.
Traditionally, heroes are attractive, clean, and well-mannered, and villains are ugly, unhygienic, and boorish. There were some attractive villains - sometimes Evil Is Sexy
- but Beauty Equals Goodness
used to be taken for granted by writers and producers.
But a trend arose and became inescapable in the mid 1980s
after the theatrical release of Revenge of the Nerds
and continuing from there, which implies that the majority of good, reliable, honest, clean cut and worthwhile people are physically unattractive or Hollywood Homely
. A good-looking character in a work where this holds is either hiding their unattractiveness or geekiness from the public (and will later embrace it), or is a crass, vulgar, shallow, self-absorbed, unintelligent Jerkass
This trope provides a layer of This Loser Is You
when taken to include not just an average-to-ugly appearance but also crude behavior. The moral of stories where this holds becomes, "Be Yourself
, and that never means being pretty or acting polite
Often, Beauty Is Bad appears alongside Beauty Equals Goodness
in the same work, especially in romantic situations, because of the Double Standard
. The poor, working-class underdog will have rich pretty-boy rivals, all of whom have the personality of a toad. At the same time, the rich girl for whom he is competing will have a heart of gold despite being the most beautiful girl in school... Uptown Girl
and Ugly Guy, Hot Wife
both run off "Beauty Is Bad, but only for men."
This trope is the opposite of Beauty Equals Goodness
and is related to, but not the same as, Evil Is Sexy
. Evil Is Sexy
refers to the use of sexuality and attractiveness to add appeal to a villain (intentionally or otherwise); Beauty Is Bad refers to making a character good-looking to indicate that they are insufferable and unlikable.
Please note that Beauty Is Bad refers to conventional measures of beauty. If more than one standard of beauty is competing in a work and this comes into play, it's the more conventional beauties who will be not-so-good.
This may be considered Truth in Television
. Though a few exceptions do exist, there seems to be an affiliation between conventional attractiveness and egotistic, overbearing, and unrefined personalities regarding a majority of individuals. This may stem from the fact that those who are not exactly considered physically beautiful must strive harder to succeed in life. This contributes toward the development of a humble, kind, compassionate, and empathetic persona as well as a more open-minded, worldly view since they must rely on their wits and intelligence instead of their looks.
Can overlap with Alpha Bitch
; Brainless Beauty
; Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon
; The Cheerleader
; Hot Guys Are Bastards
; Light Is Not Good
; Peer Pressure Makes You Evil
; Popular Is Dumb
; Sex Is Evil
and Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny
Compare the older trope Make Up Is Evil
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Anime and Manga
Films — Live-Action
- Hairspray is a milder example, in that Tracy Turnblad, while chubby, is still usually quite pretty. The fact remains, though, that the thin, attractive Van Tussel women (and most of the other cast members on The Corny Collins Show) are portrayed as being snobbish and cruel, apparently just because they are thin and attractive.
- While the Van Tussels remain just as horrible in the second Hairspray movie, the other attractive cast members are shown to warm up to Tracy. The Negro Day girls who are thin and attractive are nice from the start.
- Shallow Hal explores this trope with emphasis on a person's inner beauty over their outer beauty.
- In Shrek, where the good guys are mostly ugly, the villains of the first three movies, Lord Farquaad and Prince Charming, are both handsome.
- Any part played by William Zabka during the late 1980s. He seemed to have made a career out of playing pretty-boy bullies who thought nothing of acting as crappily as possible to anyone not as handsome, rich, and self-important as himself (the characters he played in The Karate Kid, Back to School, and especially Just One of the Guys). It should be noted that, by all accounts, the former-actor-turned-Oscar-nominated-director himself is anything but a Jerk Ass.
- Heavily implied in the case of many supporting characters in Repo! The Genetic Opera. (Not the named ones, but the extras- wanting to look or feel better automatically makes you a shallow, surgery addicted drug whore in this film.) It was implied in the extra material that there was a group of people who were addicted to plastic surgery. Original art for these people showed that they weren't attractive by any means.
- The Alpha Beta fraternity and their associated sorority, Pi Delta Pi in Revenge of the Nerds.
- Subverted in The Mask: The blonde hottie (played by Cameron Diaz) with whom the Big Bad is involved gets paired up with Stanley at the end.
- The film Branded, attempts to deconstruct this, by having a wave of "fat acceptance" advertisement is actually part of a conspiracy to sell more burgers at fast food joints. Yes, if you're fat, you're a mindless drone literally feeding (through giant invisible parasites on top of buildings) the evil corporations. The movie didn't handle it very well.
- In Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, the villainous dodgeball team is (with a single exception), attractive, athletic, muscular and young who believe they are naturally superior to other people because of their physical attractiveness. This is juxtaposed by the heroic team, who are all geeks, overweight, slobs, or pirates.
- In Red Surf which is about surfers who also deal drugs to make a living and it shows the violence associated with the transfer of drugs. In one scene one of the dealers tells an attractive blonde female customer "Drugs and pretty girls go together." and she seems interested in buying. That scene from the film gives us the idea that pretty girls support violent drug cartels.
- The bitchy, dim-witted second wives in The First Wives Club are all noticeably younger and prettier than the titular characters (though they are all quite attractive themselves). Like the Hairspray example above, it's implied that two traits simply go together.
- This idea was played with on the reality show True Beauty, which took a cast of good-looking people and then attempted to see if they were as good on the inside as they were on the outside by testing their kindness and morals. Some of them were, some of them... weren't.
- Most children's shows where the main characters are a Grotesque Gallery.
- A classic Doctor Who example from very early in the show's run is the story "Galaxy 4" - the Doctor and his companions find themselves trapped on a planet along with the beautiful female Drahvins and the hideous Rills.
- Any very attractive teenage girl or adult woman as well as any gorgeous guy in a Lifetime Movie of the Week.
- Played straight with Morgana and several one-off characters in Merlin.
- In the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Mean", three mean, pretty and popular teenage girls kidnap and murder a fourth pretty and popular teenage girl.
- In the "Thank God It's Friday" episode of Growing Pains, Mike, Boner and Eddie are invited to a party by a hip college dude. At the party, The boys are pressured to use cocaine by the pretty girls. Message: hot chicks do drugs and therefore run with a fast crowd. When the show wraps up, Kirk Cameron talks to the audience about peer pressure and drugs.
- Alias. Every single recurring attractive female who isn't Sydney is a villian. The only exceptions are Rachel, who starts off working for an evil organization and doesn't know it, and Francie, who was killed by her evil double.
- An episode of Joan of Arcadia has Joan believing God is trying to make her preach this, and she begins protesting her cosmetology class by not showering, washing her hair, or putting on deodorant or make up. God then tells her that isn't what he meant. But it kind of was. But not really. The Aesop of the episode was a little confusing.
- In the "Love Conquers Al" episode of Cold Case, it's revealed that the head cheerleader encouraged her track star boyfriend to kill the female track star he had sex with.
- On soap operas, the super sexy characters engage in all kinds of immoral and unethical behavior.
- Investigation Discovery's Pretty Bad Girls is a True Crime series with the self-explanatory title about sexy women who lie, cheat, steal and murder in order to get what they want.
- In fact, a lot of the programs on ID are presented as cautionary tales about getting romantically involved with beautiful people.
- Curb Your Enthusiasm: In one episode, Larry determined that this trope not only applies to sexy women, but also to their husbands and boyfriends as well. Larry fired his business manager because his wife is way too pretty and decided to invest in an invention because the inventor's wife is physically unattractive and that the men who are in relationships with beautiful woman are also vain. shallow and self-absorbed. Therefore, the episode also has the Stock Aesop that people are judged by the company they keep .
- The Jimmy Soul song "If You Want To Be Happy" (famously covered by the Coasters) has this to say:
A pretty woman makes her husband look small
And very often causes his downfall.
As soon as he marries her, then she starts
To do the things that will break his heart,
But if you make an ugly woman your wife,
You'll be happy for the rest of your life,
An ugly woman cooks her meals on time,
She'll always give you peace of mind.
- Ani Difranco 's lyrics from "32 Flavors." "God help you if you are an ugly girl, of course too pretty is also your doom, 'cause everyone harbours a secret hatred for the prettiest girl in the room."
- "Beautiful People" by Marilyn Manson is all about this trope.
Mythology and Religion
- Jezebel, the wicked queen of Israel, could very well be the poster child for this trope. She is extremely beautiful...and has the people of Israel killed if they refused to worship the Phoenician god Ba'al. In the process, she turns many Israelites away from God.
- Attractive women are often seen as inferior wrestlers, or are pre-judged to have gotten their jobs on looks rather than athletic merits. This attitude dates back to Sable in the late 90s. On one hand Sable was ultra-popular for a while and brought back women's wrestling to mainstream promotions. On the other hand, she'd had so much plastic surgery she could barely bump and had to be carried through her matches by the more talented, and gorgeous, Jacqueline and the deliberately odd-looking but also very talented Luna Vachon. To this day WWE tends to hire models that their talent scouts find attractive and send them to developmental territories instead of hiring girls from the independent promotions. So ex-models regularly get accused of being talentless and undeserving of their jobs, regardless of how hard they work to improve their skills.
- Former Playboy Playmate April Hunter, who debuted in WCW roughly a year after Sable won the women's championship, knew from the get go she was going to run right into this trope. She eventually came to embrace it, putting together a trio with Taylor Made and Allysin Kay that call themselves Made In Sin, a name not chosen by coincidence.
- WWE wrestler Cody Rhodes, especially in his stint as "Dashing Cody Rhodes", whose character was that of a handsome, but utterly vain and egotistical heel who'd denigrate fans and other superstars for their supposed "ugliness". This made him the one-man Spear Counterpart/Alternate Company Equivalent to TNA's the Beautiful People.
- In the Ace Attorney series, nearly every female that other characters describe as "beautiful" turns out to be pure evil. Plenty of "good" female characters are considered attractive by the fandom - Mia Fey in particular - but it rarely comes up in the games themselves.
- Really, the rule is that every female who is cute (frequently adorkable) is good, and those who are sexy are evil. There are only a few exceptions to this—the major ones are Mia, Angel Starr, Lana Skye, and Desireé DeLite—and the latter of those is still morally suspect, just not a murderess.
- One of the Hoenn-introduced Pokémon from Pokemon Ruby And Sapphire versions is Beautifly. Despite its appearance of a seemingly innocent butterfly, it has a much darker side. It drains other Pokémon's body fluids to survive. Of course, this is not possible in game.
- Also introduced in the same game, meet Gorebyss. Despite its elegant appearance, it aggressively chases its prey with its spear-shaped mouth into submission. After it catches its prey, it proceeds by draining the prey's bodily fluids with its mouth.
- Asura in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey is roughly handsome; his true form, Asherah, is a downright hot woman. They're also among the most horrible demons in the game.
- Zelenin and Jimenez arguably qualify variation. Both start the story as attractive, and both have their good sides and bad sides. Both also undergo distinct Face-Heel Turns by the end, where their bad sides get far worse, and they both get much sexier. Bonus points for it being Jiminez who gets the most Stripperiffic outfit too.
- Vega from Street Fighter due to his handsome face with a psychotic killer's mind.
- Pretty much every single thing in Black Knight Sword is ugly and grotesque, with dirty coloration. The artstyle is reminiscent of the animated segments in Monty Python. The only exception is White Hellebore, a beautiful, angelic-looking queen drawn in an appealing, clean artstyle. She also happens to be a malevolent, depraved tyrant and the final boss of the game, whose attacks are just as grotesque as anything else in the game. The contrast in artstyle combined with her voice (which is literally composed of violin strokes) create a profound Uncanny Valley effect. Ironically, her true form is simply a white version of her sister Black Hellebore.
- In Kirby Triple Deluxe, Queen Sectonia used to be a benevolent ruler, but an obsession with beauty gradually turned her into a heartless monster until her subjects were forced to send help to another world to depose her and save them.
- In Worm the three bullies of homely protagonist Taylor are as pretty as they are remorseless.
- The Trix in Winx Club: They are as psychopathic, bitchy, and homicidal as they are beautiful. Heck their hobbies are torturing others for shits and giggles (Mirta, Lucy etc)
- In the "The List" episode of South Park, after Kyle is voted the ugliest kid in the class, Abraham Lincoln tells Kyle that ugly people develop character and kids who are considered to be hot rarely do.
- In the "Be Careful What You Fish For" episode of Family Guy, Miss Emily is the negligent owner of the Tiny Tots Preschool and Stewie brings it to Brian's attention. When Brian tries to confront her, he sees Miss Emily sunbathing and resorts to running interference with Stewie until he can have sex with her. He finally has Missy Emily arrested once he finds out she has a live-in boyfriend named Devin whom she never mentioned.
- Subverted in The Legend of Korra with Asami Sato. When this drop dead gorgeous and rich girl showed up, and immediately began a relationship with Mako, despite him seemingly being set up for a relationship with Korra, many fans immediately assumed she was The Mole and evil. This was only fueled by the discovery that her father was an Equalist, and a very short period of time where she pretended to side with him, if only to get the upper hand. In the end, she was as genuine as she seemed to be.