Suppose you're a guy and you see a gorgeous gal walking down the street. Your eyes pan up the long, luscious legs, those beautiful hips swaying oh so nicely, that slim waist, and of course, those bazooms... butter face, somethin' ain't right about 'er face...
In short, everything is great about her but her face! Get it? But her face? Butter face?
This is when a girl is otherwise a total package, but Mother Nature didn't complete the package and she has a face with the shapelessness and sliminess of butter. The kind of face that makes you want to put a bag over it. Often Played for Laughs in cartoons and comedy films. In gags, the woman will often be wearing a veil, setting up for The Reveal. This woman often ends up being a Abhorrent Admirer. Somewhat the opposite of the Gorgeous Gorgon. If a character scores with her, alcohol is usually involved.
Although this is mostly intended for female characters, the trope is hardly applicable to women only and some male characters also qualify as Spear Counterparts of this (ie Heroic Build without the handsome face).
Also known by the acronyms BOBFOC ("Body Of Baywatch, Face Of Crimewatch") and HOFFA (Hot Only From Far Away).
Given the usual attempt for a male observer to get closer for a better look (and looking in exactly the order listed above) this may also be known as "Good from far, far from good".
The Japanese have their own word for it, "bakku-shan" (a combination of "back" and "schön", German for "beautiful"). Hence, "beautiful only from the back". In the Philippines, this is called "hipon," which means "shrimp," because when eating shrimps, you only go for the body and not the head (A similar analogy is used in Australia, with "Prawn" And in México with "camarona"). Meanwhile in Poland, in an inversion of Lie Back and Think of England, this kind of woman is described as "flag on her face, and for the Motherland!". In Brazil, the common nickname is "Raimunda", for "feia de cara mas boa de bunda" (ugly face, but a pretty ass). In Puertorican Spanish, they're called a "coño carajo", which roughly translates to "damn fuck", as in from the back you say "Daaaaaaamn!" and from the front you say "Fuck!"
Needless to say, this is considered a hugely impolite thing to say to another person.
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Anime & Manga
The one hundred forty years youngass-kicking medic Kureha in One Piece has a lovely, hourglass shaped body, but the face of a hag. Also Young Kokoro was quite a looker...from the neck down.
The Abyssal Eaters from Claymore; 11 women that are either outright naked if not Stripperific, with pretty good bodies.....but their eyes are sewn shut and their teeth are just weird.
Celty from Durarara!! is a variation: her problem isn't that her face is ugly, but that she doesn't have one. Or rather, she did, but it's never been attached. Her head does, in fact, have a pretty face, but given that it's in a jar instead of on her body...
Pakunoda from Hunter × Hunter. She may sport an impressive cleavage, but her crooked nose spoils everything.
One episode of Ayakashi Ayashi has a scene with a monster that looks like a regular woman from behind, but has a face that looks like an angler fish. And angler fish that's almost as big her the rest of it's body.
Douji Kodama's mother Ryoko in Black Joke has an absolutely smoking body, especially for a 53-year old woman. However, she bears an Uncanny Family Resemblance to her son, and thus has a face like a bull's — a flat, wide nose and beady eyes that are much too far apart.
The succubus Mazikeen from Lucifer comics appears as an incredibly beautiful woman, but half of her is horribly misshapen and skeletal,
Way back in the early days of the JSA, Johnny Thunder was thrown back in time and was betrothed to a princess who always wore a veil. Since this example belongs to this trope, you can see where this is going...
Male example: Deadpool who has a smokin' body but whose face is anything but gorgeous. At least as long as he's wearing his tights, because the rest of his body is just as scarred and hideous as his face.
Played straight by his alternate reality female counterpart Lady Deadpool. Hot bod, but her face is as ugly as Deadpool's.
Red Skull's daughter, Sin. Just stick her dad's head on a smokin' female body and you'll get the picture.
Some fans consider Watchmen's Rorschach to be one. Since he spends his nights beating up criminals twice his size, he at the very least must be quite fit. Emphasized in the film, where Rorschach is very muscular but somewhat lacking in the face department.
In Judge Bao and the Jade Phoenix, there's a prostitute named "Two Moons", for reasons that prove themselves quite obvious, and a very impressive figure. She also always goes around wearing a hat with a veil that hides her face. Considering the title of this trope, it should be obvious why.
Ninive from Camelot 3000 is a hot woman clad in a semi-transparent gown and a porcelain mask. What's behind that mask isn't very pretty.
In a male example, an old Superman comic from the Silver Age had Superman pretend to be this as a prank on Lois to teach her a lesson on appearances after she pulled a similar move on a poor schmoe to discourage him from trying to date her.
Films — Live-Action
In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Eddie Valiant sees what he thinks is the silhouette of Jessica Rabbit in the window of an apartment. But it turns out that it's Lena Hyena, who somehow managed to make herself look just like Jessica (toon physics or something), excluding the face. As soon as she saw Eddie, the rest of it unraveled.
In Porkys Revenge, Porky's daughter Blossom is like this, with Porky forcing a Shotgun Wedding on Meat because she told her father they went "all the way". (They hadn't, and however far they did get, it was all Blossom.)
The Witches of Ar in The Beastmaster are bikini-clad centerfoldesque women...with hideously deformed faces.
In The Three Stooges, Curly or Shemp often ended up with one of these while Moe and Larry got attractive women.
A few times, Curly and Shemp became this as they dressed up in a drag disguise.
Done with a veil reveal in "Mummy Dummies."
Done as a gag with a horse-faced alien prostitute in the So Bad, It's Good 1980s movie Space Raiders.
'40s film star Martha Raye was often this. She had a great body and a terrific singing voice, but was often the "butterface" sight gag in films like 1941's Hellzapoppin due to her disproportionally large mouth.
Played with in John Waters' Cry-Baby-the aptly named Hatchetface is introduced in the classic "gag" manner in the opening scene, where two hoodlums standing in line behind her waiting to get vaccinations reach for her attractively swaying bottom-only to be shocked when she turns around and reveals her flattened nose, crossed eyes, and horrible teeth. The traditional Abhorrent Admirer aspect of this trope is averted in the rest of the film, though-she has a very happy relationship with one of the male characters of the film, and none of the Drapes treat her any differently than the gorgeous Wanda, played by Traci Lords.
Parodied with the ghoul that attacks Shorty in the second Scary Movie. At first he's horrified and it looks like she's strangling him, but he's actually having sex with her, solving the problem with a paper bag ("No no, no kissing!"). They're still together at the very end.
Employed with a pretty racist twist in Buster Keaton's 1927 Seven Chances.
Galaxina sees Captain Cornelius Butt and his crew in a bordello staffed by Rubber-Forehead Aliens. He lets his fingers do the walking up the torso of one such only to part her hair, do a quick double-take, then beckon the madam to him. Butt is handed a paper sack with eye holes cut out, he puts in on the courtesan, and the duo head off to complete their transaction.
Captain Butt: "Good thing you're not two-faced, otherwise you wouldn't have chosen the one you've got on. Come on."
The titular antagonist of The Beetle is initially described as being so hideous “it was impossible such a creature could be feminine”, and most people assume she is a man. After she transforms back into a human in front of Sydney Atherton he sees that not only is the Beetle a woman, she's "by no means old or ill-shaped either."
To see such a face as this set on shoulders that a sculptor would have longed to model—to be charmed by the modest graces of action through which the symmetrical limbs betrayed their beauty when they moved, and then to be almost repelled by the masculine form and masculine look of the features in which the perfectly shaped figure ended—was to feel a sensation oddly akin to the helpless discomfort familiar to us all in sleep, when we recognise yet cannot reconcile the anomalies and contradictions of a dream.
In Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, Joelle Van Dyne is genuinely gorgeous until an accident leaves her face "hideously and improbably deformed." Her body, however, remains pristine.
In Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis, the main character, Orual, is thought to be extremely hideous—until she starts wearing a veil regularly, and everyone realizes that her body is actually extremely shapely.
Homer Hickham acknowledges this as a cruel nickname in Rocket Boys. The Coalwood High version was "Old Glory," much like Poland's.
A complete inversion of this trope occurs in the Twilight Zone episode "The Eye of the Beholder" (aka "The Private World of Darkness"). The main character's face — bandaged until the reveal at the end — is just as beautiful as her body... but to the standards of all other characters — who have hideous faces — she is the one with the butter face.
On Reno911, Deputy Trudy Weigel is said to have a decent body but she's still a triple-bagger (a bag for you, a bag for her, and a bag for anyone unfortunate enough to be watching).
This was often a gag on The Benny Hill Show, in a manner similar to the Spaceballs example above (the "female" actor would actually be a man in drag, often with a rugged face and a beard).
In one Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, one of Quark's customers requests a holobrothel session with a duplicate of Major Kira. Kira and Odo find out about it, and hack the program so that the client is greeted with an image of Kira's body topped off by Quark's head.
The title character of the Masters Of Horror episode "Jenifer" is this. Possibly to the point of exaggeration, in that her face looks downright monstrous while still having a model's body.
In an episode of A Different World, Dwayne and Ron are admiring the shapely figure of a young woman who is facing away from them. Dwayne wants to go and talk to her, but Ron cautions him: "This could be a case of dreamboat body, but shipwreck face!" Dwayne comes up with an idea—he sneezes, knowing the woman will likely turn toward the sound. Sure enough, she's hideous, and the guys are horrified.
Brought up in the first episode of Dexter where Angel and Masuka are discussing why the body of the prostitute they found had no head.
Saturday Night Live - in a "Wayne's World" segment run in the early days of the first Iraq war, Mike Myers referred to the word "Scud" (an Iraqi missile) as sounding like when "you see a girl from a distance and go 'Hello, babe alert!' then when she gets closer you say 'Omigod, she's a scud!"
In the sketch "The Sinatra Group", this is invoked somewhat by Frank Sinatra (played by Phil Hartman) regarding Sinéad O'Connor (Jan Hooks), rather her face isn't ugly, but the fact that her head is completely shaved is distracting to him. When Luther Campbell (Chris Rock) says he doesn't care about her head and prefers the rest of her body, Sinatra agrees and suggests maybe putting a paper bag over her head.
Supernatural. Dean travels back in time to The Wild West, and is looking forward to getting on with the saloon girls, unfortunately they're a bit too homely for his taste. Another girl flounces down the staircase, only when we see her face she's not only homely but has skin blemishes hinting at certain social diseases. Dean is bending backwards over the bar as she tries to smooch him, when fortunately a man who'd already booked her interrupts.
Many who have watched Queen's video for "I Want to Break Free" have admitted that, facial hair aside, Freddie Mercury makes a pretty hot chick. Then there's the drummer, Roger Taylor, who borders on Uncanny Valley.
The Strawbs' song (covered later by The Monks), "Nice Legs, Shame About the Face".
Nelly's song "Tip Drill"note FYI, the phrase tip drill is a street colloquialism for a Butter Face. The image comes from basketball; if you barely got the ball on the tip of the basket and it made it in, you technically got it in, but it's nothing to brag about! got a lot of flak for exploring this trope in a provocative manner. (WARNING: The music video is definitely NSFW.)
DJ Jimi's "Where They At": "It must be your pussy cuz it ain't your face."
The Alternative Rap group Black Sheep's song "Strobelite Honey" is about the rapper Dres meeting a girl in a club. He can't see her face due to the strobe lights, but he can make out her "slammin" silhouette. Then he gets her in the light. Hilarity Ensues.
An example used in both the song and the video for "Gangsta Nation": "I don't holler at these hoes that sing like a chantay, body like Beyoncé, face like Andre!"
Medusa always has a hideous face with snakes for hair, and usually fangs, a beard, and bulging eyes as well. But sometimes she's depicted with a beautiful, human body. Then again, in ancient Greek artwork she's usually depicted with a scaly, clawed, inhuman body below the neck. And one of the oldest images of her incongruously makes her a centaur with a leering skull for a head.
A Japanese Youkai appears as a beautiful yet familiar girl if seen from behind, but has actually the face of a bearded brute or an old man.
Comedian Pablo Francisco has a routine called "Nice body, ugly face."
One of the sample characters in the Nosferatu clanbook from Vampire: The Requiem, Mary Contrary. She loves to wear Stripperiffic clothes that compliment her hot body, but her face..."looks like it's been hit with a shovel. Over and over again". That being a Nosferatu, Mary takes this trope Up to Eleven. It would be bad enough just with this description, but then we actually get to see her.
In the Scarred Lands monster book Creature Collection II: Dark Menagerie, the Blood Maiden, is introduced as an otherwise gorgeous shoal-dwelling siren who just so happens to have a lamprey-like maw instead of a face. Obviously, they feed on blood, and not only that, but they are all female as well. Guess how they reproduce?
Any game that features orcs fits this trope. Both male and female orcs qualify in that they always have attractive bodies and horrible faces.
Same can be said about Baraka, a Rare Male Example, whose body is suitably muscular and athletic for a fighting game but whose face is anything but attractive.
Shao Kahn is another male example. The guy has the physique of a bodybuilder and normally wears little else than a loincloth, boots, shoulderpads, and a harness. He also normally wears a full-faced helmet, but when he doesn't...◊ except in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, where he has a normal human face (specifically, that of Brian Thompson) under the helmet.
The Ghost Lady from Uninvited. When seen from behind, she does kind of look harmless and look like Scarlett O'Hara. When you look at her face, though...well, she doesn't really have a face, per se.
Similar to the Ghost Lady, Mother Harlot from Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne at first can only be seen from behind... until she turns around and reveals her absolute lack of a face while her jaw clatters madly.
Zevran of Dragon Age: Origins mentions this trope by name in a conversation with Leliana, remarking on a woman that he'd been ogling. Leliana tells him, "You are a very bad man."
One of the Enemy Chatter from Prototype 2 has a soldier comment how hot the zombie girls are if you put a bag on their head. Another soldier openly questions how he got past the psych eval.
The Great Fairies from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time have long legs, large (albeit strangely-shaped, due to the low processing power of the Nintendo 64) breasts, and are wearing nothing but vines. Despite this, their noses are large and misshapen, they each have a single mole on the side of their face, and their mouths are cartoonishly large.
The Wraith enemies in Darksiders II. When the very first one shows up, the camera is focused on her shapely butt, then slowly pans up and around to give the player a good view of her figure before revealing that she has the facial features of the other undead enemies in the area.
Based on Kenway's experience, this is Benjamin Franklin's opinion of old women. Luckily, open five-sided pulped wood containers make this a non-problem. This is one of eight of Franklin's horrifying reasons to date them anyway.
One Cracked article about words in other languages that we really need in English has a Japanese word for this, the aforementioned "bakku-shan".
In the Tex Avery cartoon Big Heel-Watha, the chief's daughter is one of these...but turns out to be Red wearing an ugly mask.
A similar switch happens in the Woody Woodpecker cartoon, Socko in Morocco. Woody and Buzz Buzzard fight over a harem girl; in the end Buzz lifts the veil to see a horridly ugly face. Woody finds out after Buzz gives up that the face was a mask and she's really beautiful.
Another Avery "Droopy" cartoon, The Chump Champ, has the Queen of Sports, who looks shapely from the neck down, but is a literal dog from the neck up.
Technically, they were all literal dogs...but this one was a dog in more ways than one. She also became an Abhorrent Admirer at the end.
Hunter, post sex change operation. Body of a supermodel, same face as when he was a dude.
Family Guy: Quagmire approaches a hottie at a bar, she turns around, and we (and he) discover that she's carrying all her fat in the front and has a terrible face. She turns away again and Quagmire is about to hit on her again, but then reminds himself of what he saw the first time.
In the episode "Boys Do Cry", Peter says: "You can't ask me to make dinner, Lois. That's like asking me to choose between Sarah Jessica Parker and Kirsten Dunst in a hot body/weird face contest. It can't be done."
Even more to the point, in reference to late night Cinemax: "There was one on last night where the girl had a butt face but her breasts was immaculate."
Another episode had Meg join the Baton Squad in school, after being rejected as a cheerleader. The squad contains all unattractive girls...and one perfectly acceptable looking one. Meg asks her why she's in the group, and when she opens her mouth a super-long tongue rolls out.
In the Futurama pilot, Leela is introduced this way, as Fry's Male Gaze only sees her from behind until she turns around, revealing her single, giant eye. Since she looks perfectly "normal" otherwise (better, in fact) it doesn't bother him (or the audience) for long.
Gender Bender Fry seems to be one to Zap, as he greets him with the line "Hello from the neck down".
Curare, a villain from Batman Beyond, has a rather nice body. But apparently she wears the mask for reasons besides stealth. When Terry sees her without it, he looks rather repulsed, though we don't get to see it.
Cars 2: During the scene where Mater, Finn McMissile and Holly Shiftwell are looking for Tomber, an odd three-wheeled car running the local black market in Paris, France; Mater actually sees a car facing away from him while inside the black market, and as soon as Mater talks to her, the car immediately turns around, revealing that her eyes are actually on her headlights instead of her windshield like everyone else's! Mater than screams and drives away to find his teammates.
Master Shake: Listen to me, Meatwad. Is it hot girl-on-girl action?
Meatwad: Yeah, I'm pretty sure they're girls. But this one looks kinda strong.
Motorcity provides a rare serious example in Kaia, and arguably the other Terras.
In Tiny Toon Adventures, during a sort of Music Video of "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)," Buster falls for a mermaid who hides most of her face in her hair until they're in a Tunnel of Love.
An inversion occurs on CatDog. Cat and Dog get sucked into a space opera movie and must rescue the Damsel in Distress, who communicates with them via monitor and has a beautiful face. When they do rescue her, they finally see the rest of her body, which consists of slimy green tentacles—and Cat is less than thrilled when she insists on showering him with kisses.
The planet Venus. It's named after the Roman goddess of beauty, and when seen from Earth it looks like a bright star in the sky. But seen up close, it is a roughly Earth-sized planet that is covered entirely by clouds. Remove the clouds, and all you get is a hot, volcanic world, covered in a crushing atmosphere that rains sulfuric acid, completely devoid of any life!
There is a saying in Spanish-speaking countries: "Cuerpo de tentación, cara de arrepentimiento" (roughly translated as "Body of temptation, face of regret").
The slang term for this in Spain is gamba ("shrimp") - everything is edible, but the head.
As with many other concepts, the French have a phrase for it. A description of a particular kind of woman is jolie-laide, literally "pretty-ugly". This has been used to describe film actresses who have an unconventional beauty, shall we say. Or who can look attractive from some angles and homely - or less - from others.