Producer: What were you thinking? Casting: Well, you said you wanted gritty. In other words, ugly. Producer: I wanted Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island ugly, not Cornelius on Planet of the Apes ugly. TV-ugly, not ... ugly-ugly.
Dramatic situations sometimes require a character (usually female) who is unappealing, unattractive, and has a hard time finding dates. However, unattractive or even average-looking women are often dissuaded from even trying to get acting jobs in Hollywood, so the person cast in the role ends up being more gorgeous than anybody you'll ever meet in real life. Likewise, producers know that "beauty is money," and so they're disinclined to cast genuinely unattractive people even as villains or extras, but would rather simply imply homeliness to the character via character-reactions — regardless of the irony presented in attributing such to the fairly good-looking person playing the role.
She'll also be much thinner, since women of average build are considered to be lumbering oxen by most Hollywood producers even if they're as fit as an Olympian. They make her "plain" by giving her some or all of the following: thick glasses, braces, freckles, unfashionable clothes, an unflattering hairstyle, and an even-better-looking sibling or friend. A more subtle method involves giving the actress clothes that clash with her natural skin color, making her look pale or blotchy — a method also often used in "before-and-after" shots for diet-pill commercials. Bad lighting can help.
It's important to stress, however, that being physically beautiful is only half the battle. In many cases it's no secret that she would be far more attractive if she were more fashionable and carried herself in a less off-putting manner. This may lead to her getting an Unnecessary Makeover and tips on how to act sexy by a more socially-adept friend. But since Status Quo Is God, she'll almost certainly learn a An Aesop on just being yourself and go back to her old looks by the end.
Generic Cuteness is the animated equivalent of this trope, and the result is a very Informed Deformity. Naturally, this all leads to Unfortunate Implications. Adaptational Attractiveness is when this trope is applied to characters who were plain in a show's source material, but are played by someone smoking hot regardless. Beauty Inversion is the use of makeup or prosthetics to successfully avert this trope. Compare Beautiful All Along, Cool Loser, Hollywood Dateless, Hollywood Nerd, Hollywood Pudgy. Contrast Informed Attractiveness and Gorgeous Gorgon.
Please keep in mind that this trope only applies if the character is actively stated to be or treated as unattractive. A handsome actor playing a geek doesn't count if nobody on the show has a problem with his looks. Similarly, a good-looking actor who is actually made less attractive is an aversion of this trope.
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Microsoft. Sent up in the Windows 7 "My Idea" series of ads. When the normal people in question flashback to having their idea, they're always portrayed by someone several times prettier than them by Hollywood standards, while an angelic chorus plays in the background. Such as this one, where a fairly pretty woman is portrayed by an absolute stunner.
Teleflora. The theme in their 2010 Super Bowl commercial is supposed to be "Hot but bitchy girl gets the bad flowers; frumpy but hard-working girl gets the good flowers." Apparently, "frumpy" now means "not willing to wear short skirts and go-go boots to work".
In its early days, the Disney Channel used to run a PSA that was all over this trope. A very attractive teenager is sitting in front of a poster of a pop star, lamenting how plain and unattractive she is. The pop star springs to life from the poster and tells the girl that she shouldn't worry, because it's all Hollywood magic. The pop star is then magically stripped of all the makeup, fancy clothes, etc, and reduced to being... really attractive. And the teenager is reassured. About something.
India has a long history of people evaluating themselves and others according to the caste system, which is based on a five-layer hierarchy of priests, warriors, merchants, laborers, and "Untouchables" (who are actually so wretched that they are considered outside the caste system). Historians have pointed out that the word caste comes from a Portuguese word that can be used to mean "skin color", and they theorize that the Hindu caste system once separated not only wealthy and "noble" Indians from commoners, but also light-skinned Indians from dark-skinned ones. It's true that racial differences in India are no longer quite as stark as they once were due to centuries of intermarriage, but light-colored skin is still seen as the ideal by many middle-class Indians. Thus a series of TV ads for "Pond's White Beauty", a facial soap that lightens skin tones, about a young woman - who is legitimately gorgeous - finding out that her boyfriend has been cheating on her because she is too dark-skinned, and therefore "ugly."
Anime and manga
Ganju Shiba is a male example from Bleach. In a world where most of the young male characters are Bishōnen, Ganju is considered a Gonk. The real world does not always work that way.
Elfen Lied When Mayu is introduced, in both manga and anime, she is derided/described as looking every inch the homeless child she has been for perhaps several weeks at that point. Problem is, virtually nothing about her physical appearance suggests this. Even a week's time would have her looking a lot worse than she comes across as.
Genshiken Ohno is called an "Ordinary person who is cute" and that Saki is "like a model", but Ohno is just as attractive as Saki is. The main difference is the effort the two put into their appearances - specifically, Ohno doesn't outside of cosplay (where heads turn so fast you could hear bones snap); while Saki puts the effort in to maintain a model-like air and appearance.
Godchild In the Scold's Bridle story arc, Drew is supposedly so plain that other upper-class girls won't give her the time of day - something which the mangaka illustrates by giving her quite good-looking round glasses, freckles and a braid. (She also seems to have real curves compared to the waifish characters) The art style may be partly at fault, but the fact remains that she looks no less pretty than any other girl in the manga. In the same story arc, Viola wears a mask because she is disfigured, but when she takes it off it turns out that her face is perfectly fine apart from a finger-sized acid burn on one cheek. Justified in that she is completely insane and is probably exaggerating the extent of her scarring.
Gokusen Quite a few characters like to point out how "plain" the protagonist is. This also comes into play in the drama, however, here she is played by Yukie Nakama
Similarly, in Hana Yori Dango, Makino Tsukushi is frequently called plain. In the J-Drama, she's played by Inoue Mao◊. Somewhat averted, because in the drama, the only people who claim she isn't cute are people who hate her.
The Princess of the Diamond's Country in Sailor Moon. In both versions (manga and anime), the princess suffer short-sightedness. Her glasses create in her a manga-version of Velma in Scooby Doo, until she drops her glasses. In the manga version, Amy and Rei discuss the true aspect of Umino (Melvin) if he take off his glasses.
Of course, the movie also shows that Lettie is very sociable while Sophie is very reserved, which might explain a bit of it. The soldiers at the beginning of the movie and Howl himself seem to find Sophie quite attractive. Given the nature of the curse, there's also the implication that a lot of Sophie's "homeliness" are self esteem issues on her part.
In the movie it's never quite explained why Sophie can change her age at will, but in the book it is stated that, as soon as Hollow saw her, he took away the curse; yet she unconsciously used her own powers to remain an old crone as a means to stay in the comfort zone that "ugly-ness" gave her.
In Inuyasha, Kagome is stated several times to be "average" in looks and appearance (by Inuyasha). However, it is noted (even the anime characters state it), that she looks almost exactly like Kikyo, her previous incarnation, who is stated to be quite beautiful.
Honestly, it's a Takahashi anime, no-one is ugly.
And Inuyasha is just being a Jerk Ass with a Heart of Gold.
Inuyasha recognizes Kagome by smell, not sight. He probably finds the scent of things like body wash and shampoo strange and off-putting.
Monster Lotte, who is no uglier than Eva or Nina, is apparently deemed so unattractive that guys will dance with her on a dare only.
Akane Tendo, at least if her erstwhile fiance Ranma is to be believed, especially when she's going Tsundere all over his hide. Everyone else seems to think Akane's actually pretty cute. Of course Ranma's opinion may be a bit biased due to the Can't Stand Them, Can't Live Without Them nature of their relationship.
Tehanu a novel by Ursula K. Le Guin. Young girl Therru is so disfigured by third-degree burns that people avoid looking at her. In the anime adaptation Tales from Earthsea, she's a sweet young girl who appears to suffer from a bad sunburn.
Yotsuba&! Fuuka is often compared unfavorably to her older sister Asagi, with Yotsuba referring to her at least once as "the not-pretty sister". Fans tend to disagree with this assessment. Of course, Yotsuba being Yotsuba, she might just be picking up on the sibling rivalry without realizing it.
In Absolute Boyfriend, Riiko is often described as either ugly or not as pretty as her best friend Mika. This, of course, was the point, since Mika went a long way to ruin Riiko's self confidence, by calling her those names and seducing every guy Riiko liked. The manga itself never seemed to find Riiko ever unattractive, just...not very busty.
While not "beautiful" or "handsome", Makoto◊ from Wandering Son is at least cute. He finds himself unattractive due to his Youthful Freckles and Nerd Glasses. He's chubbier then the other characters, or at least more full and round, but he looks just fine. Justified since its his opinion, and at least one other character has gone out of their way to tell him he's cute; Mako doesn't seem to have good self-esteem. Seya once thought he made an ugly girl, though he comes off as a Wholesome Crossdresser to a lot of fans.
Uozumi and Akagi of Slam Dunk who are described as "gorillas". While they sure as heck aren't bishonen, a chiseled jaw, full lips, and defined cheek bones are hardly hideous flaws, and that's not including the fact that they're both extremely built.
Yuri from the Kodansha-winning shoujo manga, Bara no Tame ni, who is constantly referred to as fat and ugly despite looking only slightly pudgy and having the same "pretty girl" face as the supposedly more attractive girls in the story. The Taiwanese drama based off of this is even more egregious, as she's played by girl group member and actress Ella Chen.
Makoto of AKB 0048 is supposed to be plain-looking. Funny thing is, a large portion of the fanbase considers her to be the cutest understudy.
It's a major plot point in Itazura Na Kiss that Kinnosuke is way out of his league with Chris, the girl he ends up with, and that Chris (and her mother) are genetically attracted to ugly guys. Except that Kinnosuke is actually pretty good-looking, certainly no worse than "Women fall at his feet" main character Naoki.
The SandmanDepending on the Artist, several of the female characters either avert or play this straight. Particularly notable is Nuala's true form with the glamor spell that made her look like a blonde princess removed, who looks genuinely scraggly and rather underfed, though subsequent artists usually make her more cute and childlike. The interesting thing is that despite this, she actually comes to prefer her true form (probably because Dream prefers it, and it's implied she's in love with him). Thessaly usually looks genuinely plain, as even without her Nerd Glasses she has a very odd-shaped face. Then there's Despair. Thessaly's spin-off comics, however, make her look rather adorable.
The Sentry's wife, Lindy Reynolds, in Marvel Comics, is apparently supposed to be frumpy and unattractive, yet is never drawn any less gorgeous than the superheroines, most of whom have been acknowledged repeatedly as being hot.
X-Men The short-time member Marrow had the mutant power to grow bones out of her body which became knives, little spikes or armor (inspired by piercings no less), resulting in calling herself ugly all the time. Despite some body horror implication, most of the time Marrow's bones were merely a cosmetic detail. Most artists drew Marrow as having a well trained body, noticeable bust and a cute if not sexy looking face. Did we mention that she had bright pink hair?
There's a specific reason for this. In her original appearances as a Morlock terrorist and her initial Heel Face Turn, she was quite ugly (to varying degrees Depending on the Artist). During an adventure on an alien planet, however, Marrow was wounded and placed in a regeneration chamber, which also smoothed her facial features. Despite her newfound beauty, she was still self-conscious about her appearance due to having a visible mutation, since her bones were still sticking out.
When she was recruited into Weapon X, a treatment intended to increase her control over her powers ended up doing away with all of her intractable bone spikes and blades; at some point it was decided that both of her previous appearances actually were ugly. And yet, most readers found her new new look less attractive than either way she looked before.
The X-Men sometimes-foe Callisto is the leader of the Morlocks, a group of mutants that live in the sewer because their mutations are very apparent and make them look deformed and inhuman, and therefor easy to recognize and target among normal humans. While most of them are distinctively inhuman in appearance, Callisto herself is, at worst, a little ugly looking. Definitely not enough to make it harder for her to pass for a human.
In Avengers Academy Tigra bemoans the fact that she's single, stating that it's hard to get a date "with classifieds that say 'Single Mom That Sheds'". For context, people, this is Tigra.
This strange scene might count as Hollywood Dateless since Tigra has had many lovers over the years and has been called attractive in-universe.
Dr. Ella Whitby, Deadpool's one-time prison psychiatrist. She's referred to by several characters as fat and/or ugly (including Deadpool, who at one point had a crush on Bea Arthur, but finds Dr. Whitby revolting). In actuality, she's fairly pretty and barely 20 lbs. heavier than anyone else. She may have been predetermined by the writers to be an Acceptable Hard Luck Target, since she turns out to be completely Ax Crazy, Harley Quinn style.
In Sin City, Marv states that he's so ugly that he could never even hire a prostitute. While Marv is a hulking, scary looking guy, his features are traditionally masculine. In contrast, a few other characters are freakish or downright monstrous in appearance.
The remake of Sabrina plays this straight. Sabrina, played by Julia Ormond, is initially portrayed as plain and frumpy, with long hair and glasses. By the time she returns from Paris, with the glasses goneand a chic new haircut and wardrobe, her crush is so stunned at the sight of her that he nearly walks into traffic.
In Be Kind Rewind, Melonie Diaz's character, Alma, is played up as ugly when the male filmmakers are forced to take her over her (apparently) more attractive sister. They achieve this by... having her sniff and rub her nose a couple of times. It's quickly forgotten and she's the hot girl for the rest of the movie.
Lindy is supposed to be a Plain Jane-type, and the witch, Kendra, is supposedly genuinely hideous—at least in the original book, they were. The movie version casts Vanessa Hudgens as Lindy, "uglifying' her by messing her hair up and giving her bangs, and as for Kendra, played by Mary-Kate Olsen? Her "hideousness" is conveyed by black clothing, a slightly-plump body, heavy eye make-up, and white-blonde hair with black streaks. She actually looks pretty hot.
Can't Buy Me Love: Uber-dork Ronald, in this 1987 film, takes off his glasses, fluffs up his hair, and turns into Patrick Dempsey.
In Love Don't Cost a Thing, the 2004 remake, Alvin's extreme nerdiness and dorky personality keep him from dating any girls. Alvin is played by the very attractive Nick Cannon.
Charlotte Gainsbourg, while no centerfold, is not unattractive by conventional standards, but seems to have made a career out of this trope, playing specifically unattractive characters in some of her biggest roles:
She plays the title character in Jane Eyre, whose plainness is a major aspect of her character.
In The Science Of Sleep she plays the plain woman whom the main character initially ignores in favor of her more attractive roommate.
In 21 Grams, she plays a cuckolded wife whose sick husband acquires a more attractive mistress.
Circle of Friends: Minnie Driver's character is supposed to be dowdy and heavyset (at one point she refers to herself as a "heifer"). Even playing her against the gorgeous Saffron Burrows doesn't quite make this work.
The Comic Strip Presents:The Supergrass concerns a guy (Adrian Edmondson) who has so much trouble getting a date that he lies to a girl about being a big fish in the drug trade to impress her within earshot of the police, thus setting in motion an Idiot Plot supreme. This◊ is what Edmondson looked like at the time. Of course, the character’s real problem is more likely that he’s the village idiot who lives with his mother, rather than his looks.
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister: Used blatantly. Iris is supposed to be unattractive as part of the plot, yet she is played by Azura Skye, who is very (albeit unconventionally) pretty.
The Courtship of Andy Hardy (1942) has the title character mercy-dating the daughter of a divorcing couple on whose case his father, a judge, is working. She's depicted as such a "droop" that at one point Andy has to actually pay his chums to dance with her at a school prom. She's also played by Donna Reed, for crying out loud.
Dogfight, starring River Phoenix and Lili Taylor, is about a crew of Marines who challenge each other to a 'dogfight' — finding the ugliest girl they can and bringing her to a party. Phoenix's character selects Taylor's character in order to win this 'dogfight'. By Hollywood standards, she's hideous. By any real world standards, she's a reasonably attractive woman.
The Dukes of Hazzard: The 2007 Back Story movie The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning features a young Daisy Duke as a social wallflower, wearing heavy sweaters, baggy jeans, her hair in a bun and thick-rimmed glasses in the first half of the film ... although a stunningly attractive babe lies underneath all those layers (as they are peeled off later in the movie).
Easy A: Subverted by Olive played by the beautiful Emma Stone (who has played The Hot Chick in almost every other role she has been in). Olive's narration never implies that she actually views herself as ugly, or that she is viewed as ugly by others at her school, but she does talk about how she is normal, plain and unable to attract the interest of boys. However, the entire plot of the movie revolves around how perceptions and rumors influence your opinions of those around you, and the "plain" Olive is actually quite stunning once you stop thinking about her as "plain" Olive.
no attempt was actually made to make her look less attractive so this could also follow under Cool Loser
Given her inability to see Todd's interest in her, and Evan's surprise that she would have considered going out with him, this probably has more to do with Olive's obliviousness to male interest than Hollywood Homely.
The Enchanted Cottage: Doubly bad. The main woman is so "homely" that no guys will dance with her, young boys comment on her looks, and she generally limits her social life in despair. Later, a man breaks off with his fiancée and considers suicide over a barely visible war scar. As the two fall in love, they become beautiful in each other's eyes — represented on camera by a strange blur on their features.
Enigma: Kate Winslet’s character is a good example. Even anti-dolled to look ordinary, she's still prettier than the "hot chick".
Wanted: The producers considered James McAvoy the runt of the litter when it came to casting Wesley Gibson's character, but ultimately chose him because they felt he looked so regular that viewers would be able to relate to him more.
Little Children: Another Winslet role, where her supposed frumpiness is a plot point. Of course, no one buys her being unattractive because it's still Kate Winslet, and even Roger Ebert in his review of the film found that pretty laughable.
Frankie and Johnny is a particularly egregious example. In the stage original, the plain girl was played, to great acclaim, by Kathy Bates, who fits the casting requirement by being not particularly physically attractive. For the movie version, the part was recast. Michelle "Catwoman" Pfeiffer. Again: uh... right.
Michelle Pfeiffer also plays this straight in Batman Returns. When we first meet Catwoman's alter ego, Selina Kyle, she too is presented as plain and dowdy, until her transformation. All she really needed to do was take off her glasses.
Halle Berry is also presented as plain in Catwoman.
Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter movies is a big source of debate amongst fans. She is described as plain in the books with bushy brown hair and large front teeth. The films have Emma Watson who starts out cute and, as she ages, becomes positively stunning in the role. But the books are in Harry's perspective and he simply doesn't find her attractive (most likely because she's not Asian or a redhead) and the only one who outright says she's ugly is Alpha Bitch Pansy Parkinson (though she doesn't seem to deny Ginny is pretty. Saying that a lot of boys like her and telling Blaise Zabini that even he finds her attractive). Harry actually does say in a later book that he doesn't think she's ugly. And it's also worth noting that from age 14, Hermione started to attract admirers in Viktor Krum, Cormac McLaggen and of course Ron Weasley so she can't have been a total Plain Jane. The only time in the movies she was said to not be pretty was when she was referred to as a "homely but ambitious girl" in "The Goblet of Fire" film, and that was in an article published by Rita Skeeter.
Hollywood's Ten Best did a countdown of the 10 best "Beauty to Beast Transformations" in which beautiful actresses got ugly for parts. True the list included Hilary Swank for Boys Don't Cry and Charlize Theron for Monster but also on the list was Halle Berry for Monsters Ball. Even with frumpy hair Halle Berry is still stunning in that film. Also was Jennifer Aniston for The Good Girl where all she is doing is wearing baggy clothes (her character works as a cashier at a KmartExpy), oh, yes, how hideous.
The Ipcress File: Michael Caine is playing a British spy who's supposed to be a complete subversion of the James Bond-style spy - instead of being suave and gorgeous, he's supposed to be a funny-looking Cockney who seduces women by cooking for them. Unfortunately, he wasn't unattractive - he was Michael Caine, in glasses. And he even loses his glasses for the second half of the movie.
Janeane Garofalo was the queen of this trope in the nineties. Despite being very cute, she was almost always cast as unattractive and caustic characters. Perhaps the most egregious example was The Truth About Cats and Dogs, with Roger Ebert flat-out stating in his review, "The movie is based upon the presumption that Garofalo is not pretty, and of course she is." She was outspoken about her frustration with the typecasting and eventually lost a lot of weight so that she could get other roles.
Uma Thurman gets this treatment in the film Final Analysis, where a lack of makeup is enough to make her the supposedly mousy and plain younger sister to the glamorous Kim Basinger. She's also presented as this at the beginning of Batman & Robin before morphing into Poison Ivy.
Jennifer's Body stars Megan Fox as a beautiful cheerleader (certainly plausible) and Amanda Seyfried as her "plain jane" best friend. Amanda◊ Seyfried!◊ In case fans couldn't tell that she's unattractive and unwanted, they named her Needy. It's also parodied, with Jennifer getting "ugly" from not feeding enough. Needy points out that it just looks like she didn't put on makeup. This almost counts as a Deconstruction, since even in-universe, it's pointed out that Needy has to dress down when she and Jennifer go out, so Needy doesn't show Jennifer up. In the DVD Commentary, the writer and director admit that only in Hollywood would Seyfried be cast as the ugly one.
Last Action Hero: Lampshaded, when Danny Maddigan tries to prove that they're in a film by pointing out that none of the women are ugly, to which Jack Slater responds:
Jack: No, this is California
Love Potion Number Nine: Even Hollywood isn't usually shameless enough to pass off Sandra Bullock as "ugly", but she is that town's go-to actress when they need an approachable, plain, girl-next-door type. "Usually" is the key word there, as she is supposed to be the ugly type in this film.
Marty: Ernest Borgnine (no prize himself in the looks department, although that's admittedly acknowledged in the film) goes on a date with a "dog" played by former model Betsy Blair, and former wife of Gene Kelly.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding: While Nia Vardolos is a very pretty woman she is anything but the typical Hollywood bombshell, which many people have stated help make the film that much more appealing. Her homely look genuinely made her plain, and getting the makeover did wonders.
Never Been Kissed has two examples. Leelee Sobieski as the nerdy girl, especially when she strips down to that spandex blue cat suit at the prom, and Drew Barrymore. She's supposed to be a bookish, nerdy girl as well...but she's Drew Frikkin' Barrymore! That said, they do manage to make Drew look pretty bad in her prom flashback. More than the majority of these examples, anyway.
Now Voyager: Bette Davis spends the first few scenes being unconscionably unattractive by having... baggy clothes, unplucked eyebrows, bun hair and glasses. An early example of how to 'do an Ugly Betty', the film having come out in 1948.
In Only the Lonely, Ally Sheedy's character was supposed to be considered unattractive.
In Only You, Andrew McCarthy's character has to make a choice between two potential girlfriends, one who is beautiful and one who is supposedly not so good looking but is otherwise perfect. The supposedly plain-looking woman is played by Helen Hunt. So McCarthy has to face the dilemma of whether he should settle for a woman whose worst flaw is she is only as attractive as Helen Hunt.
Penelope: Christina Ricci actually looks cute with a pig's snout, but some of her suitors are so horrified by the sight of her that they jump out of second-story windows to get away.
In Portrait of a Lady from Jane Campion, Isabel and Henrietta go on about how ugly Caspar Goodwood is. That's Viggo Mortensen. Viggo Mortensen with slightly silly hair, but still...
In the 2005 movie, Lizzie Bennett, described by Mr. Darcy as 'tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me' is played by Keira Knightley. Of course, it could have just been that Darcy was being a jerk. The Bennet sisters are all locally famous beauties, except Mary, who is exceptionally plain.◊ Right. This plain-ness is achieved by parting her hair in the middle and dressing her in dark colors. Once they get into their ballgowns, it becomes simply ridiculous to call her plain, or even plainer than all of her sisters. She's one of the more attractive ones.◊
In the miniseries of 1995, the older sister (the pretty one, according to dialogue) is quite plain compared to Lizzie – who is after all the star of the story.
The Princess Diaries: Mia is supposed to be an ugly duckling before her princess makeover. However, wearing glasses and having a bad perm isn't enough to make Anne Hathaway◊ look ugly. Sure, she looks a lot better after her princess makeover, but she never looks that terrible.
Psycho features a joke where a man fawns over Marion at the bank, completely ignoring her supposedly plainer co-worker who says afterwards "He must have seen my wedding ring." The co-worker is played by Pat Hitchcock, who is not only pretty cute herself but the daughter of the director, making this doubly awkward.
The Quiet Camilla Belle's character is described as being unattractive by several characters. One character even goes as far to say that she is a hermaphrodite. The only thing that makes her "ugly" is the fact she has short hair, minimal make-up on and wears boys clothing. In real life, Camilla Belle◊ is as beautiful as Elisha Cuthbert.
She's All That: A teenage film take on the Pygmalion story involves a bet to try to get the "ugly" girl to win as prom queen. After scanning the whole school, they settle on the obviously attractive Rachel Leigh Cook as the least likely to be named prom queen.
Not Another Teen Movie parodies She's All That, having the guys scan the crowd and decide that the conjoined twins, hippy albino, hunchback, and others are not ugly enough, but that the girl with glasses, a ponytail, and paint-covered overalls (played by the clearly attractive Chyler Leigh) is the ugliest by far.
In the film Sleepover, the lead female runs into a "ticket girl" who apparently couldn't go into the prom because she has never been able to get a date. The actress playing the ticket girl? Summer Glau.
Step Up 3D: Camille, the female half of the Beta Couple, is, according to one reviewer, a "Plain Jane". Said character is played by Alyson Stoner.
Starter for 10: Brian (James McAvoy) is enamored with Alice (Alice Eve), who is conventionally but blandly pretty, and ignores Rebecca (Rebecca Hall) who he has much more in common with and a far easier time speaking to despite her sarcastic personality. While Eve is pretty, Hall is also quite beautiful, and it is hard to believe that she would ordinarily be second banana to anyone.
Tamara: The eponymous character is considered unattractive before she undergoes her Evil Makeover. Before that, it is just the very attractive Jenna Dewan with no make-up on and unflattering clothing. Admittedly, though, they kind of had to cast a hot chick in order to make her transformation believable. Made all the more ridiculous by the fact thatthe first time we see her in the movie, she's having a dream about what she would be like if she were attractive, demonstrating the fact that Dewan is an absolute knockout. It makes the attempts to present her as "ugly" afterwards totally laughable.
Thoroughly Modern Millie: Miss Dorothy is drop dead gorgeous while Millie pales in comparison. Miss Dorothy is believable enough as she's played by Mary Tyler Moore but Millie is played by Julie Andrews. Young, cute Julie Andrews whose wearing flashy flapper dresses.
She's Out of My League does some deconstruction of physical attractiveness and actually has characters assign attractiveness values to each other. Kirk (played by Jay Baruchel) is given a 5. Many of the other ratings could be disputed by viewers.
A Walk to Remember: The character of Jamie Sullivan. Although the character was never intended to be unattractive (merely unconcerned with her appearance) the audience has a hard time believing the shock of the other characters during her Beautiful All Along moment given actress Mandy Moore's natural beauty.
In Sorority Boys, most of the girls in Delta Omega Gamma, the "loser" sorority, really are plain in appearance... except for the president, a cute blonde with Meganekko glasses. And guess who the main love interest is?
Bessie Love's character in The Broadway Melody is supposed to be the "talented but plain" sister in a singing and dancing duo. This◊ is Bessie Love.
Parodied in The Other Guys. Will Ferrell is constantly apologizing for his wife, even calling her a "battle-axe," when she is played by the obviously stunning Eva Mendes and he is the only one who doesn't realize how hot she is.
Actress Ann Revere really was homely, but played admirable characters (often mothers) who had for lack of a better term a lot of inner beauty, allowing Ms. Revere to display hers. She tended to glow quietly. There is something of this about Dame Edith Evans as well.
Ashley Tisdale played a nerdy girl in Picture This. Yes, Sharpey Evans' actress. It becomes jarring that one of the earliest shown pieces of 'evidence' that she's a nerd is a scene that makes a big deal about her wearing 'granny panties'. Except, its not grannie panties, its clearly a thong, you can see the leg holes of it. It's a cartoon print thong, but still a thong. The most the film does is give her tomboy looking clothes, big glasses, and that's it, really.
Failure to Launch: Justin Bartha is the ugly one. Not the plain one and not played as a joke, repeatedly throughout the movie he is referred to as being ugly. So is Zooey Deschanel; in fact they are hooked up by friends on the theory that since they are both so ugly neither would be able to find anyone else.
The Help: A plot point in both the book and the movie is the plainness of Skeeter. However, in the film version, Skeeter is played by the lovely Emma Stone. Most viewers find it difficult to believe that a character as beautiful as that would have trouble attracting men, even if the filmmakers tried to make her "ugly" by giving her "frizzy" hair.
Matilda in Zoolander. (Probably a deliberate joke.)
The Ten Commandments goes on (and on and on) about the noble choice Moses makes to marry the plain Sephora over the gorgeous Nefretiri. The filmmakers make Yvonne De Carlo to look "plain" by putting some dirt on her face in most scenes, and not giving her the sparkly dresses that Anne Baxter gets. But she's still Yvonne De Carlo◊.
In a rare male example, many critics got a lot of mileage out of mocking Tyler Perry's Temptation for presenting Lance Gross as the safe, bland alternative to sinister charmer Robbie Jones, even though both men are equally charming and handsome, and even have matching six-pack abs.
In Sin City, Marv states that he's so ugly that he could never even hire a prostitute. Mickey Rourke wears prosthetics to exaggerate his facial features and match the comics, but the result does not really say "ugly." With his lantern jaw and large nose, he looks more like an extremely weathered superhero.
In Corpse Bride, Victoria's parents say that she has "the face of an otter" and considered a disgrace to the family. But seeing how they are Jerkasses and not very attractive, this could be because they needed someone to look down on. Ironically, Victoria is one of the most HUMAN-looking puppets for the production.
A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez parodies this:
I had yet to dare look in the mirror for fear of being driven mad by my own hideousness. Now I chanced a sidelong glance through the corner of my eye. It was not the sanity-twisting sight I had expected, but still a far cry from lovely.
"But what about these?" I cupped the large, fatty mounds on my chest.
"Those are breasts," Ghastly Edna said. "They're supposed to be there."
"But they're so...so..."
"Round. Firm." She sighed. "That's how they're supposed to be. Ideally."
Bella Swan. She is terribly self-deprecating, describing herself as a skinny, big-eyed, clumsy, Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette. Mind-reader Edward even lampshades this when he tells her that she should have heard what the entire male student body was thinking when she first came to school. Depending on your opinion, it's made either worse or better in the movie: Better because you don't hear as many of her thoughts and therefore don't have to hear about how "plain" she is as often, or worse because she's being played by Kristen Stewart. It's indicated that Bella is actually pretty, and just feels ugly because of a lack of self confidence.
James as well. He was described as being ugly as a vampire yet being played by Cam Gigandet makes you think that he's only ugly by Bella's standards. It does fix the "only bad vampires are ugly" thing...
Bella's friends were also more attractive in the movie, while their book descriptions tended to be...less than flattering ("fishy eyes", "hair like oil slick", etc) although again this may be due to Bella being an Unreliable Narrator.
Every now and then, tabloids will run a "shocking" cover story on what starlets look like without makeup. Horror of all horrors, they look like normal women!
A subversion: artist Stephen Fabian illustrated some of Keith Roberts' fantasy short stories about a 20th-Century witch named Anita. The editor told Fabian that Roberts had complained about previous illustrators drawing Anita as "a sexy babe," when she was actually "a plain, homely girl." But when Fabian went through the manuscript to get an idea of Anita's appearance, he found the passages "related to Anita’s looks were all describing her as a really beautiful sexy babe; young men whistled at her as she walked by, their eyes popped out at the sight of her luscious figure, their hearts broke if she didn’t smile at them, etc, etc." He wound up drawing Anita as a beauty ... and Roberts wrote him a complimentary note, with no reference to his earlier instructions.
Absolutely Fabulous: There was a constant stream of fat jokes at the expense of Jennifer Saunders, even though she didn't even look fat.
The Andy Griffith Show: Andy and his girlfriend help out a farmer's daughter by giving her dresses and makeup in order to make her look good. Of course, her "non-beautiful" state consisted of the (beautiful) actress with a few dirt smudges instead of rouge.
Angel: A rather obnoxious commercial director declared Cordelia looking like this◊ to be unattractive. A bit too anvilicious perhaps, but the point is clear.
Doyle refers to himself as "homely" in an early episode of Angel.
Another early episode had a monster that switched hosts through sex. It transferred from a male host who looked like an underwear model to a girl described as "Sarah plain and tall" that Cordy declared must be loaded to have such an attractive paramour. She's a gorgeous blonde girl who is no less attractive than anyone else on the show.
Ann Veal. Although Ann's not really played as "ugly," more that she's incredibly boring/unmemorable.
Played for comedy with Kitty Sanchez, who is played by the notably attractive Judy Greer. While George Bluth Sr. keeps her as a mistress, Lovable Sex Maniac Gob finds her repulsive. Her "ugliness" is achieved by crossing her eyes when she's not wearing her glasses and having frizzy hair when she lets it down. Perhaps to play the ugliness up further, she also gets a pair of extremely unfortunate breast implants.
Lindsey's inability to attract attention from men is a recurring theme throughout the show, despite being played by the gorgeous Portia De Rossi.
The Big Bang Theory: None of the characters are especially unattractive, but a combination of not being especially tall, muscular or fashionable in addition to being socially awkward and you can see why they aren't very lucky with the ladies. For Raj the actor is stuffed in horrible clothes, has his hair done badly, and is a Hollywood Nerd (though he does get women's attention for being cute)... and then you see Raj's actor, Kunal Nayyar, off the show, and... he's HOT. Leonard's fashion sense and hair style makes him look like a teenager, he's noticeable more handsome when he dresses up but that can be said for a lot of people.
Bernadette is extremely attractive and is recognized as being pretty, but the fact that she has glasses and is rather mousy makes Howard Wolowitz not sure how committed he wants to be, as being rather shallow he is looking for a glamorous supermodel. He eventually recognizes how lucky he is to have her. Even Simon Helberg (Howard) is a lot more attractive off the show, just look at his picture on the other wiki. His character has a horrible haircut and his clothing makes it clear he has little body fat or muscle on him, including very stuffy turtleneck sweaters.
The third Blackadder series has the Prince being frequently referred to as fat (as historically he was) and having trouble with women, in spite of being played by the very thin (and rather popular with women) Hugh Laurie.
In the episode "The Witch In the Wardrobe" Booth and Brennan spy on a group of Wiccans who perform their ceremony naked and Booth asked "why doesn't this ever happen with people you'd want to see naked?'. Yet when we see coven members in the full light of day (and clothed alas) none of them register as less than slightly above average in looks.
The Brady Bunch: The fact that Peter and Jan tend to be more socially awkward than Greg and Marcia is the only way that episodes like "The Not So Ugly Duckling" or "Cyrano de Brady" (in which there is much angst about their inability to live up to their allegedly more attractive siblings) are plausible, the general consensus amongst viewers being that the middle children were actually the best-looking of the Brady kids.
They had gone through very visible pubescent awkward stages through the series but by the last season had gotten so clearly attractive that now episodes were written where Peter was juggling a date with two girls on the same night and Jan ran for "Most Popular Girl" at school, and won.
Greg and Marcia also deal with this trope (indirectly). In the late third-season episode "My Fair Opponent," Marcia plays the sympatheic friend when an awkward and butt-ugly classmate named Molly is nominated (as a cruel joke) for hostess of Filmore Junior High's Banquet Night ... only for the makeover to work out too well and Molly becomes an insufferable snob. Greg's instance (in Season 5's "Peter and the Wolf") is averted: He merely is led to believe, based on old photographs and memories of his girlfriend, that his girlfriend's cousin still wears pigtails and braces and horribly undesirable; the cousin turns out to be a total hottie.
Xander, despite actor Nicholas Brendon being an incredibly attractive guy, and the character rather witty, he is supposedly the bottom of the social barrel at Sunnydale High, and numerous cracks are made at his inability to get girls. He dates the cheerleader Cordelia from Season 2 onwards. Doing so sent Cordelia's social status straight from 'most popular girl in school' to 'nonexistent'. Every acquaintance she had considered her completely insane for choosing to give Xander the time of day, and she ended up entirely exiled from her former social circle. Joss actually mentions this trope in the DVD commentaries:
Joss Whedon: Of course, Nicholas Brendon is way too good-looking, but this is Hollywood, so get over it.
Willow Rosenberg (played by the very attractive Alyson Hannigan); interestingly, in the original, never aired pilot, Willow was played by Riff Regan, who is decidedly more plain.
Charlie's Angels - The first episode, Farrah Fawcett, the beauty who swept the hearts of many boys in the 1970s with her gorgeous visage, plays Jill, who goes undercover with a hair bun and eyeglasses, at which point another character says, "Jill, you look terrible."
Chuck put Anna into punk/goth outfits and gave her character a perpetual sneer, probably to distract people away from the fact that Julia Ling is every bit as gorgeous as Yvonne Strahovski.
Chuck and Morgan themselves might also fit. Even Big Mike, who habitually points out Chuck is the only reason the store actually functions, is in disbelief that he manages to get a woman like Sarah. Morgan is frequently put down by characters over his lack of height, beard, and general dorkiness. However both Zachary Levi and Joshua Gomez are actually pretty good-looking guys.
In the episode "Legacy", a Serial Killer is preying on impoverished streetwalkers and homeless people. But his victim du joir in the episode is played by an actress with the most perfect, straight, gleaming-white teeth — the very personification of a million-dollar smile.
Desperate Housewives: Eva Longoria is supposedly over the hill and has to play The Mom when she tries to return to modeling. Eva Longoria is considered a "Hag". Sadly, this is just a reflection of the modeling industry. High-Fashion models obviously have a short shelf life, and 26 is considered old and many retire (if they're lucky) or never find work again (if they're not).
Disney loves this trope - all parts of the Disney Empire. Look around for the Mitchel Musso music video 'The In Crowd' for a textbook version of this. Katelyn Tarver, who plays 'the plain girl' is so obviously beautiful that it isn't even funny - and to 'make her plain', they give her glasses, put her in jeans and a flannel shirt, tie her hair into a messy ponytail and have her act 'goofy'. Jeez, people - maybe you shouldn't have gone with any close-ups that show just how hot this girl really is! (Of course, in real life, she's a model...)
Most, if not all, of the actresses playing "geeky sidekicks" (Emily Osment, Ashley Tisdale and Anneliese Van Der Pol, for example) in many of the channel's series are arguably at least as attractive and charismatic as the shows' stars, but tend to play awkward or Cloudcuckoolander characters in nerdy clothes or glasses.
Dollhouse: The Girl Next Door, Mellie, played by the actress Miracle Laurie, complains that she's Hollywood Pudgy and can't get dates because she lives in LA and has to compete with all the girls that aren't. Her love interest doesn't care, and neither does the audience, because by any realistic standard, she is beautiful. Later Subverted when it is revealed that she is a planted agent, with a timid personality specifically designed to ensnare her target.
Downton Abbey has Edith Crawley, who, while admittedly not as conventionally drop-dead gorgeous as her sisters (her less outgoing personality and slightly dowdy outfits may also have something to do with it), is no slouch in the looks department, yet her sister Mary and even their parents constantly harp on how Edith is homely and destined to be a lonely spinster.
The Dukes of Hazzard: In the non-canon The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning, Daisy is portrayed as incredibly unattractive – wearing thick glasses, oversized sweaters, her hair in an unkempt bun and acting socially awkward. As it turned out, she was simply insecure and socially awkward, something that – along with her previous homeliness – instantly is cured when she gets a job at the Boar's Nest.
Steve Urkel in Family Matters. As proven by the 'Stefan' persona, Jaleel White is by no means unattractive, but give him thick glasses and a funny voice and everyone treats him as a totally repellent geek.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: One episode involved the Girl of the Week bribing Will into going on dates with her, despite him being unattracted to her. At one point, Judge Carl Robertson also makes fun of her appearance. However, it's pretty obvious that the girl in question is a pretty actress who just happens to have unflattering hair and clothes, and glasses.
Friends:Played straight for Chandler and Ross, though, who are consistently described as being not attractive enough for the girls they date. In fact, people are continually saying "Rachel could do better" or "Monica could do better" when we're talking about Matthew freaking Perry and David Schwimmer. Joey, on the other hand, is supposed to be much hotter than them.
Rachel Berry is supposedly less attractive than Quinn Fabray. Now, Quinn's actress, Dianna Agron, is a cute girl, but Rachel's played by Lea. Friggin'.Michele◊. In one episode, Finn describes Rachel has having "a smoking hot body... if you don't like boobs." Rachel is noticeably much, much curvier than Quinn. In an interview with the actress she mentions how the character is supposed to be considered not attractive in the show.
The thing about Rachel is that her unattractiveness had more to do with her horrendous fashion sense and uptight personality. Once she got bangs, started wearing more flattering clothing, and became more friendly with the glee club, the show stopped being shy about the fact that she's beautiful.
In The Rocky Horror Glee Show episode, Finn is feeling insecure about having to strip down to his underwear for the role of Brad. He decides to overcome it by walking through the school hallway in his boxers, causing people to pass out in horror. When Finn is getting suspended, the principal says that 9 students requested after school counseling, and they had bring in a grief counselor. One may argue that Finn isn't the hottest guy on the show, but his body is far from traumatizing◊
In the season 2 finale the coach of their rivals, Vocal Adrenaline, describes the whole club as "hideous". Admittedly Artie would be a Hollywood Geek even out of the wheelchair and Lauren is the Brawn Hilda but the rest?
On The Golden Girls, frequent sport was made about Dorothy supposedly being physically unattractive. Now, Bea Arthur was in her sixties when they made that show, so she wasn't exactly a supermodel, but it's hard to argue that she was less physically attractive than Rue McClanahan, whose character was generally portrayed as being catnip on legs for every man over the age 45.
The Honeymooners: When Audrey Meadows first auditioned for the part of Alice Kramden, Jackie Gleason rejected her for being "too pretty". So she had a photographer come to her house early in the morning and photograph her just after waking up, morning hair, no makeup, etc. Jackie took one look at the pictures (without knowing it was Audrey) and hired her on the spot.
Hot In Cleveland: The whole premise of the TV Land sitcom is a Lampshade Hanging of this trope, wherein a bunch of aging Hollywood actresses have a flight layover in the title city and decide to stay after discovering that they're considered attractive there in a way they wouldn't be back in LA.
Worth noting that one of them is Valerie Bertinelli, who was one of the most beautiful women on TV in the early 80's, and is still prettier and better-built than most women years younger.
I Love Lucy: Ethel was the source of constant fat jokes, despite being about the same build as Lucy. To compensate for this, the producers had her wear clothes that were several sizes too small. The Urban Legend that she was contractually obligated to gain 20 pounds is untrue.
This was intentional on the part of Vivian Vance. She reasoned that if Fred threw fat jokes at Ethel, and she were actually fat, people would feel bad for her; however, if she was called fat while actually slender, the hypocrisy and dissonance would make it funny.
iCarly manages to avert this fairly well. The Chew Toy Lewbert is played by this guy◊. However, in the show, they mention that Lewbert used to be a male model, until a psycho ex-girlfriend caused him enough grief to make a giant wart◊ grow on his face, and at that point, he seemed to throw in the towel on hygiene.
Inspector Lynley: (BBC Homely?) A mild case in the televised version of the mysteries; in the books, DS Barbara Havers is committedly unattractive — middle-aged, plain, overweight, and badly dressed. Sharon Small may not fit the supermodel aesthetic, but she is stunningly pretty, and no bad haircut or baggy clothes can completely hide this, with the result that Barbara Havers is utterly adorable for the first four series, and then genuinely pretty (they let Sharon grow her hair out for series 5 and 6). Elizabeth George, who wrote the novels, was quite upset by this until she saw Small's performance in the pilot.
Averts this trope with Margaret McPoyle is hideous. As it turns out Margaret McPoyle is actually played by the very attractive Thesy Surface under a lot (cannot stress that enough, a lot) of makeup. Don't believe it? Margaret McPoyle vs. Thesy Surface
All the male members of the gang use hyperbolic criticism to describe Sweet Dee's appearance. She's said to have a "five-head," compared to a giant bird with "stork-like" legs, and even said to have eyes so far apart that she looks like a fish. However, she doesn't have much of a problem getting boyfriends, suggesting that her friends and family are just being mean. It's interesting to note that actress Kaitlin Olson says she prefers playing "the ugly Dee" over a standard closer-to-Earth female character.
Maya conducts an experiment to prove beautiful people get social perks by sending both an illiterate male model and a well-qualified "ugly" guy to a job interview. She ends up proving herself as shallow as everyone else by rejecting the charming "ugly" guy and dating the clueless himbo—much to her own self-loathing. However, the actor cast as the "ugly" guy wouldn't have been out of place in GQ.
Maya herself was treated like this in the show's first season. While this was possibly justified by the show's setting (a high-fashion magazine), by season two they stopped trying to make anyone believe that Laura San Giacomo was in any way "homely".
Kamen Rider OOO: episodes #23-24. Sakura is tempted by a Yummy because she doesn't want to be "ugly", which is shown by wearing a lab coat, thick-rimmed glasses, and covering her hair. It was blatantly obvious that she was attractive under all that and it was just covered up. Date seems to agree.
King of Queens: Doug and his friends find out that an attractive female worker at the bowling alley is quitting and being replaced by a less attractive woman. The men mock this woman like she's the deformed lovechild of Jabba the Hut and a toad, and is even given a "mercy flirt" by Doug, but of course, many people find the actress to be rather pretty.
Mad Men: Peggy Olson is supposed to be deliberately keeping herself dowdy in order to be taken seriously at work. Of course, she's played by the gorgeous Elisabeth Moss. The character was also shown gaining weight throughout Season One, presumably for the same reason. As we learn in Season Two, though, she was actually pregnant with Pete Campbell's child. It should be noted, however, that once Peggy has her "date" with Kurt in season 2 and starts dressing herself more fashionably and wearing her hair differently, the show tends to present this as her harnessing the power of "being a woman" as Bobbie had advised instead of it merely being that it's opening doors for her all on its own.
Married... with Children: Bud Bundy is depicted as very unattractive and someone that only a woman with no standards would date or have sex with despite being played by the not remotely ugly David Faustino. Marcy also came in for a lot of jokes about her looks even though Amanda Bearse was average looking at worst. For example, in the episode "The Egg and I", she shows off her body in lingerie; Al screams "I'm blind! My eyes, my eyes!" but the studio audience does Wolf Whistles.
Marginally justified in that, for all the women turned off by his looks, far more are repulsed by his personality. As he matures both physically and emotionally (and stops trying far, far too hard) he starts having more success.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Rhoda Morgenstern, although it was finally inverted in the Season 3 episode "Rhoda the Beautiful". When Rhoda got her own show, she was given a supposedly less attractive sister to make sure everyone knew that now that she was the star she was now officially pretty.
The Mentalist: In episode "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" this◊ woman has trouble getting a date, so she has to resort do a dating service. It's not surprising, since she's obviously hideous.
The titular character of Miranda. She is frequently called "sir", and she cannot for the life of her find a man; while perhaps not conventionally attractive, she is nevertheless average at worst and distinctly feminine-looking.
Modern Family has Alex, the gawky, geeky younger sister of the glamorous Haley — except that as Arial Winter grows older she is becoming every bit as beautiful as Sarah Hyland. The show has to go to increasing lengths to maintain the fiction in its fourth season.
Particularly wonky in that they still dress and style her as attractively as possible. They need to take some lessons from The Middle; Eden Sher is a very pretty young lady, but Sue's clothes and hair are usually completely unflattering and Sher is very good at carrying herself in an awkward way that makes you believe she could be totally unpopular.
NCIS: A weird case where, in a 6th season episode, a young, hot woman's attraction to Gibbs is portrayed as odd, apparently thinking the audience doesn't notice that Gibbs is played by Mark Harmon Who is one of the few people named EW's Sexiest Man of the Year twice, at least back in the eighties. Perhaps their confusion stems from his irascible personality, though he can be charming when needed.
The New Adventures of Old Christine: The beauty and shapely figure of Julia Louis Dreyfuss is totally ignored by the people around her, even though her wardrobe often shows off what one would consider damn fine assets.
Andy and Michael flirt with a couple of waitresses at a restaurant and attempt to get them to come to a party. They show up at the party with two different waitresses, the joke being that the first two refused and they had to settle for supposedly less attractive ones. Unfortunately, as co-creator Greg Daniels admitted, poor casting meant the actresses hired were too good looking and the joke fell flat.
The Office can actually be commended for inverting this trope. In the early seasons, the makeup/hair team would spend hours making the very gorgeous Jenna Fischer◊, look quite realistic and average for Pam Beasley◊, an office receptionist in her 20's. Despite that, all of the male characters treat her as if she's gorgeous, and refer to her as "the hot one" in the office. In later seasons, she has gained more confidence and dresses up more.
Also averted, in the sense that, on any other show, Kelly would be considered Hollywood Pudgy. This is played with when Ryan refers to Kelly as having a little junk in the trunk.
Except for Kevin:
Andy: Ladies, if it were up to us, you all would be the fashion models.
Speaking of The Office, one episode turns into an intense argument about whether Hillary Swank is attractive.
One Tree Hill: Marvin McFadden (AKA 'Mouth') is constantly tormented about his average looks, which are perfectly normal standing next to normal people, but in the presence of the ultra beautiful cast of OTH, are shunned. Another example from this would be Millie, his girlfriend, who in all rights appears completely and utterly gorgeous, except for a thick pair of glasses. (She later becomes a hit as a model)
A Pocketful of Rye, an ITV adaptation of the Miss Marple story had the supposedly-plain Elaine Fortescue played by the decidedly beautiful Hattie Morahan, looking her best in fashionable clothes and an elaborate hairdo. Despite this, the other characters were at pains to point out how unattractive she was.
Popular: Of the two lead characters, one is supposed to be an extremely beautiful Alpha Bitch who leads a posse of popular blondes, and the other is supposed to be a frumpy, unattractive, unpopular nerdy girl. As far as the audience can tell, they're both very attractive, and viewers can't agree on which one is hotter.
Queer As Folk: Ted, though this is meant to lampshade the impossibly high standards of appearance that many gay men place on themselves (and each other). Women check him out all the time, much to his annoyance.
And also Michael Novotny's self-depreciation, despite that Hal Sparks is unendingly adorable no matter what Sears-type button up shirts they put him in.
Reaper: In episode "Business Casualty", Sock is set up with a friend of Nina's. His reaction to her is that she is hideous beyond all imagining, to the point that he tries to get away from her as quickly as possible. In fact, the character is simply played by a beautiful woman wearing a minimal amount of make-up wearing average clothes with her hair in a pony-tail. There isn't even any of the usual Hollywood Homely attempts to disguise this: she doesn't wear glasses, have braces, wear hideous clothes, have bad hair, or prosthetic makeup. She just looks like someone going out to run errands.
Rules Of Engagement has Liz. Descriptions of the character indicate that she's overweight and highly unattractive. Visual inspection begs to differ.
Scrubs: Ted the lawyer is a well done aversion, created with makeup and an ill-fitting suit. The actor has been quoted as saying that after seeing him in the pilot episode, his mother called him up and asked if he was ill.
The character Miranda (played by Cynthia Nixon) is apparently supposed to be the ugly one of the four lead characters.
Charlotte's second husband Harry. While played up as Ugly Guy, Hot Wife due to him being bald and a bit chubby with bad table manners, his actor Evan Handler does have a rather cute face, and is hardly less attractive than many of the character's guys of the week over the years (of course it also helps that he's one of the nicest characters in the whole series.) In the last season, they pretty much dropped the Ugly Guy, Hot Wife angle.
Charlotte was this for exactly one episode, when she turns 36 and is freaking out about being an "old maid". She may be the most prudish of the bunch, but it is highly unlikely she would really wear a frumpy button up blouse on a trip to Atlantic City!
Strangers With Candy: Very much averted where Amy Sedaris, who in real life is far from bad looking, took extensive pains to look as ugly as possible as Jerri Blank. This includes fat suits, yellowed teeth, hilariously awful wigs, and a wardrobe that would make anyone with a modicum of taste gouge their eyes out. The result is appropriately hideous. In an interview, she stated she was deliberately trying to avoid this trope.
Ashley Tisdale, as Maddie on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody is supposed to be the homely one in comparison to London - though to be fair, they did establish early that Zack had a crush on her, and they dropped the homely act by season two.
Even in season one, Maddie was portrayed as attractive. In the 9th episode 'Band in Boston there is this conversation.
Zack: 'Cause we're 12 and cute!
Maddie: And I'm 15 and hot!
Possibly linked to the fact that, aside from the characters who regularly interact with the two, most people would probably not pay as much attention to a lowly hotel worker as they would a wealthy heiress.
Big Rhonda was made up to look homely, but the actress (Cynthia Lamontagne) who played her wasn't actually bad looking. This is seen in the episode "It's a Wonderful Life", where in an alternate timeline she was dumped by Eric and appears at the gang's ten-year reunion without the whole Big Rhonda look. She also played a fembot in Austin Powers.
Somewhat inverted with Donna (Laura Prepon), who's frequently mocked as a "giant" and a "lumberjack" by Jackie, while alternately depicted as a "hot redhead" whom Eric could never hope to date otherwise. He even considered her his equivalent of the actual Brooke Shields dating Donna's father.
30 Rock: Liz Lemon (Tina Fey). This is lampshaded in the episode "Cleveland". Liz goes to Ohio and is offered a modeling contract and is complimented by people on the street.
Jenna: We're all models west of the Allegheny.
30 Rock is particularly amusing, as the subject of all the opprobrium is Tina Fey, and the creator and head writer of the show is...Tina Fey.
In Season 3, Joss Stone appears as Anne of Cleves. Henry VIII claims he cannot tell her from his horse (which speaks either very poorly of his eyesight or very well of his horse) and is unable to consummate his marriage to her, supposedly because she is so ugly. This is based on something Henry actually said, but contemporary reports suggest that she was quite pretty. An alternative explanation suggested by other characters is that he's turned off because Anne is a virgin who doesn't know what to do. We also know that Henry was almost 50 years old and as heavy as 400 pounds, so he may have had performance anxiety of his own. Either way, it's most likely all in his head.
This is used in Philippa Gregory's novel, The Boleyn Inheritance, where Anne of Cleves seems very frumpy at first because she is wearing incredibly modest (read: baggy) and unflattering clothing that she brought with her from Germany. After Henry VIII divorced her, however, she was free to wear English clothing and hold her own court in her own household. The next time she showed up at court, everyone thought that she looked very pretty. There are several historical accounts that support this theory. Henry did end up sleeping with her in Season Four.
Case can be also made for Henry himself who is played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Especially in his later years, King Henry was an obese, very unattractive man, Jonathan Rhys Meyers still make him look hotter than he ever was. Although this is more a result of keeping the same actor who played the young Henry (who actually was fit, attractive and a famous sportsman) to play the old Henry with only very light cosmetic changes even though many years are supposed to have passed.
In Hollywood, ugliness is apparently defined by braces, a bit of a belly, bad eyesight and a complete lack of fashion sense. The show tries to justify it by having her work at a fashion magazine. She subverted it in "Real Women Have Curves". While she and her mother seem to consider her ugly, no one else has that problem (one supposes a show called "Cutey Betty" would seem derivative).
Interestingly, season four had a Dream Sequence in which Betty is beautiful. The beautiful version of Betty was, of course, just America Ferrera without her "ugly" accessories.
David Spade did a monologue in the show on how this seems to not only make the standards of beauty unrealistic but the standards of ugly as well.
"Think of all the legitimately ugly actresses out there who were told they were too ugly for a show with 'ugly' in the title."
Vieja yo?: The Venezuelan soap played with this. Margot, is a housewife just turned 50 who has tried to be an actress for years, and thanks to her skills she ends fronting for an old man to discover who are the really truthful people in his company. Everybody keeps calling "old hag" (even her very unfaithful husband and her three kids), and everybody around treats her like she was truly an hideous old prune. Of course, she is interpreted by Mimi Lazo◊, who is the Venezuelan poster lady for Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have, and all the calling out is put in the mouth of people who are either envious of her luck and/or looks, or far older and uglier — people who has other reasons to dislike her and just use the "old hag" card to hurt her. Unluckily, her younger Love Interest fell into the Informed Attractiveness, as he gained weight during the soap and put in clothing too formal for the poor man in an intent to become more visually suitable for the heroine, but still referred as the second hottest men in the setting.
Wizards of Waverly Place: Justin. In one episode his family couldn't believe that a pretty girl would consider dating him. At one point, Alex said that Justin was not cute all. And we are supposed to believe this? Especially since he is played by the ridiculously hot David Henrie.
While it's never stated that Harper is unattractive, her personality quirks and bizarre dress sense probably shouldn't have been as effective as they were at repelling boys. While Jennifer Stone struggled with her weight for part of the series, she is definitely not ugly - many would say far from it. Harper was eventually paired up with Justin's socially awkward but somewhat handsome friend Zeke.
WKRP In Cincinnati: Many male fans insist this one was (unintentionally) inverted wherein Jan Smithers as shy, nerdy Bailey apparently came off as a whole lot hotter than 'blonde bombshell' Loni Anderson. Loni Anderson stated that the trope was being intentionally subverted and that she enjoyed playing on a show where the two attractive women were loyal co-workers and good friends.
Wonder Woman: Give Diana glasses and her hair in a bun and suddenly she's nowhere near as attractive as her superhero counterpart. As with the Maya/Just Shoot Me example, the second season (which fast-forwarded 30 years) stopped all attempts of claiming that even a bespectacled, ponytailed Lynda Carter was homely. Her supposed homeliness is highlighted in a brutal exchange between Steve and Diana in the season 1 episode called Beauty on Parade, where Nazis have infiltrated a beauty pageant.
Diana: Perhaps if we could get one of our own agents into that beauty contest...
Steve: ... it might flush them out. It would take a really beautiful girl, though. Someone with all the right qualifications.
Diana:Well, I'd be willing to try.
Steve': Thanks, Diana. I know you'd do a wonderful job. But I'm afraid this calls for a really gorgeous girl. Someone who looks great in a bathing suit. Say, I won't be needing you for awhile, is there anything you'd like to do?
Zoey 101: Quinn Pensky, played by Erin Sanders. This very point becomes the catalyst for her season 4 relationship with the group's popular bad-boy, Logan. Quinn attemps a make-over by herself when her boyfriend decides they should see other people, and ends up garnering every boy's attention but Mark's. Turns out he's met another girl. Logan tries to get her to see that she's fine the way she is, and even says that he think Mark's an idiot for not wanting her. It seems a little odd for viewers, considering in the past, Logan prided himself on being superficial and self-absorbed, and Quinn had been happy with her appearance even when chasing Mark.
Or Coco Wexler. She is neither so fat nor so horrible as they say in the series. The fact that his supposed ugliness is accompanied by a series of romantic failures, which appear to be deserved for it, ultimately has Unfortunate Implications, even though her role is kinda the buttmonkey.
And from the same show, we have an episode in when the kids have to give two male nerds a makeover. The ugly nerds in question were two hunky twenty-somethings with glasses and bad clothes.
Chase, as well, is supposed to be seen as a plain dork with bushy hair. Doesn't really work too well.
It's somewhat of a running joke both on Cheers and Frasier that Lilith is hot, but insists on donning hyper-conservative, frumpy, old-fashioned clothes, refusing to cover her pale skin with makeup, and wearing her hair in an abominably tight bun. Lampshaded in that whenever she unpins her hair, Frasier becomes so overcome with lust he completely loses his composure.
Picket Fences - Kenny can't seem to appreciate Maxine's physical beauty because she's a fat tomboy with a weird face, so he has to learn to love her personality◊.
Zelda Gilroy on The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis even said there's nothing to love about her appearance. Really, the only problem was she wasn't as super-model hot as the other gals Dobie would chase.
Smallville: Lampshaded, Clark thinks of himself as plain but as the high school reunion and even his friends (such as Pete) have mentioned he is quite handsome. He is played by a former underwear model.
Edith, the extremely adorable middle sister in Downton Abbey looks like a blonde Betty Boop. However, the men constantly pass her over and the rest of the family despair that she will never marry. When a man who everyone describes as old and dull actually shows interest in her, it is supposed to be cause for celebration. It is possible that this is a Justified Trope as she does have the most dull personality of the three sisters and appears somewhat needy, so it may simply be her personality that men find uninteresting.
Sketch from Skins, who everyone is constantly saying is ugly. She doesn't get all dolled up like most of the other girls on the show, but she is definitely pretty.
In Victorious when Trina offers to kiss a kid who previously came on to the other three main female characterrs he's grossed out. She's played by the far from unattractive Daniella Monet.
Trina gets this a lot on the show - in the episode "Wifi In The Sky" Beck and Andre are horrified at getting a close-up shot of her behind as she leaves her seat. Several male viewers would probably be gratified if they were in their place.
Horrible Histories had a sketch where King Philip of Spain married Queen Mary of England. Mary was supposedly quite ugly, but the actress they had portray her was actually somewhat attractive. Subverted with their portrayal of Elizabeth I, where they use make-up to make the actress look quite ugly.
Revenge keeps trying to pass Nolan off as someone who has trouble getting laid. Even if he wasn't played by an actual model, he would still be ridiculously rich. Having trouble forming relationships, that's understandable, but getting laid?
The Ugly Stepsisters in the Cinderella-inspired episode of Grimm. The older one would be prettier if she smiled, true, but the younger one is very pretty indeed.
Avril Lavigne. In the video for "Girlfriend", we're supposed to believe that Avril's bratty punk-like "bad girl" character is more desirable than the nerdy girlfriend. Er... (Word Of God says it's supposed to be satirical, but if that's true, it sure has one hell of a Misaimed Fandom.).
Saving Jane. The whole point of the song "Girl Next Door".
Luann is typically assumed in her world to be plain, at best (at least as compared to the local high school Alpha Bitch, Tiffany), even though as drawn she is quite attractive. In one arc boys lined up around the block to throw baseballs at a dunking machine so as to get Tiffany wet; when it was Luann's turn, all the boys mysteriously vanished (which was in fact the Punch Line). And it's not like her boob size (again, as drawn) is any less ample than her rival's, either.
WWE spoofed this when they had LayCool mock Mickie James claiming that the extremely fit Diva was fat and calling her Piggy James. Even though they were doing it for some cheap heat, and the announcers pointed out how ridiculous it was some people apparently thought the WWE was seriously calling her fat, talk about Completely Missing the Point.
Probably not even that they really thought it was serious, just that it was an unbearably stupid angle.
Cody Rhodes adopted a vain pretty boy gimmick and came out to cut a promo on how "dashing" he is. He then referred to Todd Grisham as "overweight" and "plain". Yeah◊, not getting oxygen to the brain there Cody.
Even more stupidly, Cody then suffered a blow to the face from Rey Mysterio and supposedly required reconstructive surgery. He went from considering himself as 'dashing' to 'hideous' and 'deformed' as a result. He ended up wearing a see-through plastic mask to 'protect' his face, but it was entirely clear that his face looked exactly the way that it always did, especially as he liked removing the mask to hit people with it. After a few months he dropped the gimmick and mask, all without his looks changing in the slightest.
AJ Lee on NXT was a form of a Hollywood Nerd and people were constantly remarking on how she'd have a hard time getting dates. The aforementioned Cody Rhodes even remarked that she'd probably never kissed a boy before. She's a hot girl who loves cars and playing video games - she's probably had boys lining up down the street for the chance to kiss her hand for a while now. Need anything else said?◊
Legally Blonde the musical version: The first actress to play the supposedly plain Vivian was Miss America 1998 Kate Shindle.
In the original movie, Vivian was played by the beautiful Selma Blair. Elle even admits that Vivienne herself isn't bad looking, but she did have some unflattering clothes and hair.
Passion When the Stephen Sondheim musical was in previews, the director James Lapine had great trouble settling on a make-up look for the character Fosca. Fosca is supposed to be ugly, or at least exceedingly plain — that's the entire point of her character — but whenever they used prosthetics to make the actress Donna Murphy look genuinely ugly, the audience lost all sympathy for the character. They ended up making Murphy up in pale "no make-up" make-up, giving her a mole, and dressing her in unflattering clothes; that was as much ugliness as the audience could take. Lest tropers unfamiliar with the work think poorly of those audiences, the character of Fosca isn't exactly beautiful on the inside, either—she has deep psychological scars from a disastrous first marriage, and spends most of the show pursuing a man who has clearly and calmly indicated that 1. He's not interested and 2. He's already in a relationship (with a married woman, but still...). When he finally reciprocates at the end, it's not clear if he has actually learned to love her or if she has simply broken him completely.
Wicked the musical adaptation, Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba, is supposed to be so hideous that her father cannot look at her upon her birth. She even describes herself as "ugly". Still, she is played by actresses such as Shoshanna Bean, Eden Espinosa and the incredibly attractive Idina Menzel, with no further pains taken in making her look unattractive than painting her green. There are some. however, who theorize that Elphaba is actually supposed to be pretty. She thinks she's ugly because people look at her funny, and her dad can't look at her because he blames her for her mother's death.
Her father can't look at her because SHE IS GREEN! It doesn't really matter how tolerant you are, if your child was born and their skin was the colour green, you'd probably freak out a bit too. Plus there's the fact that in the book, her green skin colour is supposedly the result of her mother's unfaithfulness, which must smart him a bit.
The book does give her an impression of being mildly homely—kind of gangly, with a large nose and hollow cheekbones.
Neil La Bute’s “reasons to be pretty” features the main character of Steph, described by her boyfriend as “just normal looking” and another character as “a dog”. On Broadway the character was played by Marin Ireland◊ and in London by Sian Brooke◊.
Bebe Benzenheimer in A Chorus Line. Mother always said I'd be very attractive/when I grew up, when I grew up/Different, she said, with a special something/and a very very personal flair...
Ace Attorney Given Japanese media's issues with Generic Cuteness, it's noteworthy that the first game avoids this. Will Powers, the defendant in the third case, is, while not a Gonk, genuinely rough-looking and unattractive. Maya, who has never seen him out of his Steel Samurai costume, is more than a little stunned. There are many who find Will's cragginess rather appealing, and the constant hullabaloo about how "frightening" he looks a straight invocation of this trope. The sequel has some more good times on this subject: Will, who lacks the skills or training for anything but television, has been reduced to hosting a children's exercise program in a rabbit costume that hides his face, Will's successor, Matt Engarde, usually looks about as attractively sixteen as you can get (until he pushes back his hair and reveals the rather extreme scar across his eye, which also signals his switch into his real personality as an inhuman, manipulative monster), and Matt's supposed rival, Juan Corrida, is frequently mocked for being ugly and looking so much older than Matt (ie he looks to be in his early-to-mid twenties, which he is, and he looks pretty good for it too). Straight as an arrow.
Condemned: Criminal Origins Ethan Thomas is somewhat of an aversion as he looks believable as an average police detective. In Condemned 2: Bloodshot, however, he somehow has become built like a football player despite the fact that he's been spending the year between the two games living as an alcoholic vagabond. The only signifier of his degenerate status is his scruffy facial hair.
In the 2012 Twisted Metal remake, this trope is deconstructed with Dollface. In the new version, she is a former supermodel who gets a (minor) scar on her face, decides that her beauty is ruined (even though everybody, including her doctor, can plainly see that she's wrong), and starts wearing a mask to hide her "imperfection." David Jaffe said that her story is a satire of the extreme standards of beauty that are presented to women by pop culture.
Though it is quite obvious that she has serious mental problems. As we get a quick glimpse of how she sees the barely visible scar as a gaping hole filled with maggots and believes anyone who tells her otherwise is plotting to make sure she fails to be a model.
This trope is invoked in the superhero game Freedom Force. Shadow is a masked villaness who is obsessed with creating an underground civilization filled with ugly, disfigured people and destroying the attractive surface dwellers. Then her mask comes off, and she s revealed to be a gorgeous former supermodel... with a tiny scar on her cheek. She screams about her hideousness but everyone else agrees she's beautiful...including her deformed minions, who promptly attack her.
In Metal Gear Solid 4, Solid Snake is supposed to be so ugly as a result of his accelerated ageing disease that at one point, when he takes his shirt off, he actually makes a grown woman cry. (His younger self was supposed to be a World Class Beauty, and women immediately show interest in him when he's wearing makeup to look like his younger self.) In practice, he still has a great body and finding him more attractive than his younger self is not a niche opinion amongst Solid Snake's generous Estrogen Brigade; people frequently remark that his younger self as it was rendered in Metal Gear Solid 4 looks awkward-looking or even outright ugly, but as an old man he is extremely charismatic.
It has probably more to do with him looking like (albeit a very fit) an 80-year-old when he's 42.
In Dragon Age II, Aveline asks Isabela how she's able to attract men, given that she's not especially good looking. The tone of both Aveline's question and Isabela's response indicates that this was a serious question, despite Isabela's character model being an Up to ElevenMs. Fanservice and Aveline herself is quite attractive.
Dynasty Warriors: Yue Ying, the wife of Zhuge Liang, is described as "ugly" in her historical records character profile and some games make passing mention of her supposed unattractiveness. The viewer will likely find her to be anything but...though, given that she doesn't meet the conventional Chinese standards of beauty and on top of that acts nothing like the Confucian ideal of a perfect wife (i.e. Extreme Doormat), maybe it's not a stretch that she's considered to be some sort of horrible hag.
The survivors in the Left 4 Dead series are supposed to fall into the trope since they are the "every man" caught up in a Zombie Apocalypse and are not military trained or anything that you would see in Hollywood films. The survivors look a little ragged, but their faces for the most part still look pretty/handsome. This is mostly due to Valve using the faces of professional models to create the look of the survivor characters.
Rochelle falls under the same instances as Meg from Family Guy, but from the fans rather than in universe. Rochelle looks decent, if mostly plain, but many players find her extremely ugly and use mods that replace her with Zoey or another character that looks hot.
In Persona 4, a lot of people casually dismiss Chie, especially since she spends so much time around Yamato Nadeshiko-in-training Yukiko. In the animated adaptation, even Yu nearly chokes in surprise when he finds out Kou has a crush on Chie. At worst Chie suffers Generic Cuteness with a perhaps-unfortunate haircut and a casual disregard for her appearance.
in Better Days, both Marvin◊ and Marissa◊ are treated as being pretty unattractive. Fisk is shocked the instant he sees Marissa, having assumed she got some of the "hereditary hottability" that her cheerleader sister had, and Lucy reacts with pity the instant she sees Elizabeth with Marvin. The trouble is, both of them are drawn in the standard cute animal style, so it's really impossible to tell that they're supposed to be that undesirable.
In the case of Marissa it has more to do with her Che Guevara t-shirt and the implications of her political leanings than what she looks like. Fisk is an Author Avatar of Jay Naylor, who is opposed to communism and hates Che Guevara.
Gaia Online's Timmy, after he came down with Megapuberty, turned into a grown man... and where Gaia users had been expecting another Bishounen, they instead got a lanky man with a Porn Stache and messy hair and clothes that fit him better when he was twelve. Based on Nicholas Cage. And the fans were screaming to "change him back".
The Chick sees herself this way. In fact, it was once revealed that she hired Nella to hang around her specifically so she could feel better about herself.
Troll Douchey Mcnitpick is still just Doug Walker in a wig, bad glasses, unflattering shirt and a constant scowl. If he smiled, cut his hair and wore nicer clothes he would be pretty cute. (Until he spoke of course.)
A Very Potter Musical Intentionally used for humor, when Harry, Dumbledore, and especially Ron, will deliver entire monologues about the horrid ugliness of Hermione, who is played by a very pretty actress. Draco tries this as well, but the most scathing thing he can come up with is that she's an 8 out of 10 (Maybe an 8.5...No more than a 9.8!)
Ron: It was inevitable that one day Hermione would realize that no guy would ever like her, because of her obnoxious personality, and her ugly face, and her misshapen body, but I figured she'd get in at least one night of happiness before she realized she was going to be growing old alone, you know?
Of course, a few minutes after that she enters looking so beautiful that Ron and Draco break into a Counterpoint Duet about how they're falling in love (falling in love, falling in love) with Hermione Granger (Danger...)
Happens to Ginny as well. Harry calls her a "butterface" (in the sequel, though) and Harry makes it clear that he doesn't find her attractive, though she's played by a pretty actress. Sally in Me and My Dick, played by the same actress, is treated the same way. It's even lampshaded when after Joey realizes that she's the one for him, and he says "You know, I don't know why I ever thought she was that ugly, she's really not that bad".
The Whateley Universe. A majority of the characters are exemplars (that is to say, idealised humans, superhero-beautiful), not to mention those who sport auras and glamours to make themselves even more attractive. Non-examplars, even when they're on a level with otherwise gorgeous baselines like hollywood actors/actresses, don't stand a chance.
Example: Aquerna. She's hardly worth a second glance on campus, but the devisers think she's hot, and when she goes home for the holidays with her pal Rhiannon, lots of guys are hitting on her.
Feena's avatar of The Gungan Council could be viewed as pretty, yet her character in narrative is described as being borderline ugly.
Batman The Animated Series/The New Batman Adventures lampshades it beautifully, if a bit anviliciously (but hey, Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped): One Villain of the Week, Calendar Girl, was once a renowned model who was fired for getting old, unable to compete with younger models. She tried to make the transition to acting, and even managed to get the role as a mother on a sitcom, but was subsequently fired from that job when the network decided they wanted a to go in a "younger direction". Eventually, she decides to wreak bloody vengeance on the network and modeling executives who ruined her career, but she had so much plastic surgery done before turning evil that she wears a full-face mask. At the end of the episode Batman defeats her and the police unmask her, whereupon she begins to scream and sob upon the ground. She is in her mid 30s and still quite attractive, even in comparison to other models, but she is absolutely horrified the police can see her "old, ugly" face.
Batman: She can't see that anymore. All she can see are the flaws.
Daria is a reasonably-attractive girl to anyone with functioning eyes. Subverted in the episode, "Quinn the Brain"; while Daria is generally described as plain or even ugly (by people who believe that All Guys Want Cheerleaders), and usually shows disdain for makeup and clothing, she proves that she can match her fashion-crazed sister Quinn to make a point to her. Extra points for being a Spoof Aesop, since Daria did so in order to set Quinn back on the shallow, airheaded lifestyle Daria so loathed her for, because Quinn being seen as intelligent was a threat to Daria's own self-image.
Note that Daria and her pal Jane are the only girls in the school who are drawn with no bust at all.
In the episode, "Too Cute", Quinn was convinced that she needed plastic surgery after another girl in school had some work done, and was threatening her position in the Fashion Club. By the episode's climax, Daria had enough and flat out told Quinn she was beautiful and did not need plastic surgery. Quinn, of course, thought she was being sarcastic.
The Fairly Oddparents Tootie may count as this. Timmy frequently describes her as "creepy" (yeah, she does follow him around, but in one episode, he had a hard time calling her "lovely" without throwing up), but her "ugliness" only seems to be a matter of unflattering glasses, braces, and a rather bland outfit. Plus the stalking. In the live action movie, she's matured both physically and mentally, and is played by Daniella Monet, and is quite attractive.
Meg Griffin, who was originally supposed to be rather plain but has been flanderized into being monstrously hideous based on the reactions of those around her. Characters have committed suicide by fire upon sight and have (claimed to) kill family members to generate excuses to avoid her. Of course in the episode, "Don't Make Me Over" all that was easily fixed with a new hairstyle and color, fashionable clothes and make up.
The trope is parodied in one episode in which the Griffins star in a reality TV show. Meg is recast and her part played by a gorgeous starlet, but her character is otherwise unchanged. The starlet complains that she'll "never have full beautiful breasts like these," as she gestures toward her generous assets.
Sometimes the dialogue jokes (if you could call them that) are guilty as well: Kate Winslet compared to Phillip Seymour Hoffman and also a joke told by Lois that insults both the attractiveness of Meg and Rachel Maddow .
Meg is voiced by Mila Kunis, who is heart-stoppingly gorgeous. Is this a big in-joke in itself?
Kim Possible's sidekick Ron Stoppable was supposed to appear as a nerdy type of character, but he ended up appearing cute to the viewers. DNAmy is supposed to be desperately unattractive.
Scooby-Doo: Velma Dinkley used to be decidedly plain; her hairstyle was unflattering at best, her face was nothing to get excited over, the sweater she always wore was shapeless, and her figure could generously be described as resembling a barrel on legs. Then (probably because the actress who played her in the live-action movies was pretty good looking herself), when they were making What's New, Scooby-Doo?, Warner Bros. decided that old-school Velma was just too ugly for TV, so they redesigned her. They made tweaks to her face and hair, narrowed her waist down, added a little boob, and made her sweater form-fitting, to the net effect that the once plain-but-smart Velma is now incredibly easy on the eyes.
In the recent (2002-present) Scooby-Doo series where Velma makes an appearance, she's been voiced by Mindy Cohn (best known as Natalie from The Facts of Life) in what's probably an unintended subvertesion. Also hilariously lampshaded in this shampoo commercial featuring Velma before and after using the aforementioned shampoo. Let's give props to Wilma Flintstone and Jane Jetson in that commercial, too.
In the second season episode A Tiki Scare Is No Fair, Shaggy and Velma dress up as Tarzan and Jane. It might not be up to Daphne standards, but she's definitely been hiding something◊ under that sweater. She wasn't hard to look at doing the hula at the end, either.
Of course, no one in the series ever explicitly states that she is unattractive, so in this case Velma might not represent this trope
In an episode of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, a landlady wouldn't let Velma sleep in the same room as Daphne because she [the landlady] thought Velma was a boy.
South Park: Subverted in an episode where Kyle is determined to be the ugliest boy in his class by the girls and is forced to hang out with the other ugly kids. Kyle leads an impassioned speech about how they're just as good as anyone else, and what they need is a makeover. He turns to the girl of the group and starts with the time-honored Hollywood tradition of taking away her glasses... which reveals that she has small, squinty eyes. Kyle just slowly puts the glasses back on, his plans utterly destroyed. This is further subverted by the fact that Kyle really isn't the ugliest kid in the class; furthermore, an unaired clip reveals that Cartman was the ugliest kid on the list, which makes sense, because he actually does look ugliest.
Canadians all look exactly the same in South Park. But they themselves can see why Ugly Bob is indeed hideously ugly.
Fiona's ogre form in the Shrek movies (and Shrek himself, to some extent). Apparently, she's supposed to be hideous, but she merely looks slightly chubbier and green. In this case she was beautiful to Shrek, and by the end of the movie she preferred the Ogre form, so it was more of a case of in-universe Values Dissonance.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Irma. Glasses? Ponytail? Baggy clothes? Check check and check - now everyone will know she's supposed to be the ugly one. Okay, always being around April probably didn't help, but was she really deserving of this piece:
Leonardo (suffering from amnesia): Fear not, beautiful maiden; I'll save you!
Donatello: Irma? Beautiful?
Raphael: The poor guy got konked harder than we thought.
In one episode of The Simpsons, Moe auditions for a role on a soap opera.