Braces of Orthodontic Overkill
aka: Lisa Needs Braces
The fruits of Darren's family dental plan.
If some character has teeth in need of orthodontic correction, it's pretty unlikely you're going to see them in regular, boring old braces. After all, we see those all the time in Real Life
— how dull and boring! Instead, poor crooked-teethed Alice or Bob is going to be saddled with this monstrous orthodontic device
that sticks out of their mouth, takes up half their face, and brands them as a nerd/dork/geek for the rest of their formative years. Yes, be prepared for the be-headgeared character to be a stereotypical nerd, or at least take on a few nerdy mannerisms. No popular or cool kid ever has to wear one of these ridiculous things.
Due to the rather blatant character attributes the headgear usually implies and orthodontic technology having improved significantly since the nineties, this is now more or less a Discredited Trope
- possibly also due to the fact that so many kids spend at least some of their adolescence wearing some kind of brace these days. It's rare to see such headgear now except for the sake of a one-off gag. Curiously, regular braces are still somewhat rare on TV. Guess they must all have the invisible kind.
Compare and contrast British Teeth
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- Aversion: Stargirl, of the Justice Society of America, got braces in the second issue of her solo series. She still has them to this day, though they're typically only drawn in during close-up panels.
- In Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Greg is saddled with one of these after biting the dentist (by accident).
- Smile, the graphic autobiography by Raina Telgemeier, talks about the various dental and orthodontic procedures she went through when she seriously damaged her teeth in an accident. As such, the procedures are realistic such as she has to wear an external frame at one point, but only when she was in bed. She did have to wear a variant brace at one point that included a rubber band inside her mouth that was diagonally position from one side of her upper jaw, to the other side of her lower one. However, most of her braces were reasonably subtle in appearance and once she finally dropped her false friends who continually teased her about them, the real friends she later gained didn't notice anything after a while.
- The French comic Titeuf has Jean-Claude, a boy with a brace so invasive he is incapable of normal speech (and is reduced to sputtering saliva).
- Averted in the comic version of W.I.T.C.H., in which Hay Lin gets regular braces, and even gets to customize them!
- Inverted by body-modification fan Pierce from Zits, who gets disheartened when his orthodontist (the main character's father) tells him he can't have more metal added to his teeth/face.
] Pierce, as your doctor I prefer that you don't perform freelance orthodontia on yourself.
Pierce: Even if it's just decorative and not structural?
- Jason from FoxTrot once tried out braces, and actually tried to build them up into a working radio. While still wearing them.
Marcus: Where should I solder on the volume knob?
Jason: In series with the amplifier, silly.
- He also went around dressed as the Terminator, on grounds that he's now technically a cyborg.
Films — Animation
- In Finding Nemo, the character of Darla has braces that wrap around her face. Somewhat justified in that her uncle's a dentist.
Films — Live-Action
- The live-action musical film of Little Shop of Horrors has a kid in headgear so complex she cannot talk. It looks like the Reverse Bear Trap from Saw.
- Even better: those braces were fitted by doing something to remove the jaw.
- Charlie's Angels Full Throttle: Teenage Natalie had outside-the-face braces. Even after the Flash Back, which showed that despite this she grew up to be a super-hottie, she still had the klutzy geekiness and was an unpopular girl at heart.
- Sixteen Candles: Joan Cusack's character wears a monstrous orthodontic appliance throughout the film that comically interferes with her attempts to drink from a water fountain and a can of beer.
- In the second The Brady Bunch movie, Jan had the braces and the headgear.
- Johnny Depp's Willy Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has them in flashbacks. His father was a very strict dentist, and the constant denial of candy was a major development point in his newly made up backstory. "Present" Willy has aggressively perfect teeth, though, so they did the job.
- Lane's fix-up date in Better Off Dead is with a girl wearing hideous orthodontia. Fortunately, she doesn't want to go out with him, either, so she just gets him to pay her what he would've spent on the date.
- Problem Child 3
- In the second The Addams Family film, a Alpha Bitch at summer camp wears these, but only at night.
- Robbie's braces in Poltergeist II: The Other Side are relatively normal... until they try to electrocute him.
- Shirley in Brazil.
- The Harry Potter-cosplayer-with-a-traffic-cone-for-a-wizard-hat underage drinker in Hot Fuzz certainly qualifies. Although his bracers look pretty standard on a surface level, the gleam of metal when he opens his mouth is so bright it makes a sound and blinds an unprepared Sgt. Angel.
- Early in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, we see Ron and his dog Baxter both sleeping with headgear on (excessive in that he's way older than most headgear-wearers, and dogs don't usually get orthodontics.
- The main character of There's Something About Mary wears quite prominent braces in the teenaged prologue though it turns out that Mary was quite attracted to guys with braces at the time.
- Subverted in How To Rock Braces and Glasses. The braces the main character gets are pretty standard metal ones, but because she's a superficial teenaged Alpha Bitch, she acts like they're this Trope. Because now her life is over.
- In one Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, Greg gets one of these. He later vows never to use them after Manny tries them out.
- In a non-cartoon example, a character from Eerie Indiana has headgear that somehow allows him to translate dog communication.
- When Marcia Brady needed (regular) braces, an entire episode of The Brady Bunch was devoted to her overcoming the angst and insecurity of wearing them. Three seasons later, Jan was seen wearing them without any explanation as to how they got there. Same with Bobby and Cindy the following season.
- In Pushing Daisies, Chuck apparently wore these as a kid, which is why she's so good at understanding mumbled speech. Somewhat subverted in that she wore them as a form of birth control.
- One episode of Kids Incorporated had Renee needing braces. After spending an entire episode angsting, she got an invisible set.
- Bailey Pickett of The Suite Life on Deck wears an old-fashioned head-mounted retainer to bed.
- The title character of Ugly Betty, which gets pretty bizarre as she keeps them during the show's entire run. You really have to wonder if her dentist is just a con artist.
- Grace on Will and Grace mentioned that between her braces and scoliosis brace, she looked like scaffolding growing up.
- Averted for the most on Even Stevens. Ren wears braces, but this fact is hardly ever brought up (the unobservant likely wouldn't even have known). However, in the episode where she gets her braces removed, the kid after her at the orthodontist's office has one of these monstrosities on.
- Miranda wore braces in one episode of Sex and the City, after learning she was a tongue thruster. She had her braces removed by the end of the episode once she decided that being a tongue thruster was the lesser of two evils. Although the braces she wore looked normal, it's worth mentioning because she was in her mid-thirties, making her older than the usual children/teenagers you normally see wearing braces on TV.
- In the first episode of Police Squad!, Detective Drebin goes to shake down a nefarious orthodontist. The patients in his waiting room are actually sitting in order of the ridiculousness of their appliances: from the first patient with simple braces, to the last patient wearing a giant vice clamp on her head.
- Used in an episode of You Cant Do That On Television. Subverted, since the braces weren't meant for Orthodontic correction, but to prevent her from kissing boys.
- In "The Paper Route", a third-season episode of The Middle, Sue is expecting to get her braces off. Instead, since they've overcorrected her teeth, she's forced to wear headgear full-time.
- In the music video of "Last Friday Night" by Katy Perry, her character (Kathy Beth Terry) has this most of the time. She Cleans Up Nicely, though.
- The video "Hobo humpin' slobo babe" by Swedish group Whale. Singer Cia Berg wore regular braces, but looked somewhat unusual since she wore them on both upper and lower jaw, and she was 30 at the time. A rumour stated that the braces was a forfeit for some kind of bet between her and her then husband (also a member of the group), allegedly about oral sex. Weird rumors like these were pretty much par for the course for Whale, and was their standard way of doing cheap promotion.
- The music video for "Every Morning" by Sugar Ray features a girl with headgear (and a neck brace). Could be justified since the video is set up like a period piece — a roller rink in the late 1970's — so clunky old braces would be the norm.
- Sluggy Freelance: This strip. Also notice that Kent is strapped to the dentist's chair.
- Sequential Art: Kat had them in grade school, Art describes an old yearbook photo as looking like "a bear trap with whiskers."
- S.S.D.D: a flashback panel to Norman's teen years showed him wearing one. Considering he's a huge rabbit with buck teeth that stab him in the chest whenever he sneezes they apparently didn't help.