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Ugly Cute

"Wow! He's funny-lookin' cute!"
Chris Kratt on a baby aardvark

There's Generic Cuteness, the Ridiculously Cute Critter, and the Moe. And then there's these guys. Creatures who are different than other creatures.

OK, they look strange. Maybe they're deformed. They can even look monstrous.

However, they are also endearing, kind, and sweet. Maybe they retain a few Ridiculously Cute Critter traits, like big eyes or little awkward legs. Maybe they're The Woobie. Maybe it is simply that their lovely personality overrides any disgust at their physical appearance. Maybe they're stylized and don't look too realistic.

In short, even though they should not be cute by any sense of the word they are anyway. Indeed, many times these characters are so ugly, they're just adorable.

There are some who argue that this trope has much to do with parental instinct. Consider: very young human babies aren't conventionally cute at all; that takes a few months. They come into the world as discolored wrinkly blobs that scream like the world is ending whenever anything upsets them. And yet, all these traits seem to say, "Gotta love me!"

"Busukawaii" is a name in Japanese for fans of these characters.

Not to be confused with Grotesque Cute, which is generally when evil things are done by (or to) conventionally cute things.

Compare The Grotesque, Gonk, Cute Monster Girl, Freaky Is Cool, Creepy Cute, and the nicer versions of Fluffy the Terrible. But see also What Measure Is a Non-Cute? and Beauty Equals Goodness as those tropes will probably and unfortunately, directly affect these characters. See Grotesque Gallery for when character designers try for this kind of appeal and fail. Badly.


Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Art 
  • Patricia Piccinini.
  • This drawing of an Eevee.
  • Chanchitos, little terra-cotta good luck pigs from Chile. They only have three legs, and their faces tend to be rather asymmetrical in the most bizarrely adorable ways.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Totodile in New World. Sure, it's a tiny blue crocodile with a massive mouth full of sharp teeth, but it's just so adorable! It's very first scene has it curl up with its new trainer and fall asleep with him. It also became best friends with a two year old girl.
    "It was cute, albeit in a reptilian sort of way."
  • Awww, baby Cthulhu!
  • Respawn Of The Dead: Stumpy. Despite being dry to the bones, down three limbs and A ZOMBIE, he manages to be somewhat adorable. In the fic, you could still remember your own life before becoming a zombie. Stumpy here manages to make out a cute "bonk" after holding Scout's bat.
    “I am so sorry, Stumpy,” [Medic] said.
    Stumpy was still confused. He wasn’t sure what those words meant, exactly, but “sorry” sounded familiar. It meant…something feeling bad. And the Meaty Thing in the White Coat looked…what was that word? Sad? Like how Stumpy felt when he didn’t get meat. He didn’t have much time to ponder this, however, before there was a loud noise and then...
  • In Families and Familiars Neville described the just-hatched Norbert(a) as "kind of cute, in that ugly-cute way, though."
  • Rinjapine's Lion King fanfictions have the deformed Kioja, the white lioness whose screwed-up family tree caused her deformities. She's a thickset white lioness with a hunchback, extra toes, deformed toes, an smaller extra limb, a useless ear and eye, and overlarge fangs. She's heavily deformed, but cute in her own way, and exceedingly kind. In the words of Rinjapine, "its like she hit the ugly event horizon and shot out the other side to passably cute."

    Music 
  • Radiohead's "Modified Bear" logo. Their Weeping Minotaur, too.
  • The Gorillaz artstyle has distinct tones of this. 2D is far too Uncanny Valley to be classically cute, but he has an undeniable charm.
  • That thing from Animal Collective's Peacebone video. Sure it was horrifying-looking, but there was also something disturbingly charming about seeing it go out for a romantic picnic and frolic through a field.
  • Voltaire uses this in his song "Zombie Prostitute" with the line "She was a rotten kind of cute for a zombie prostitute".

    Radio 


Token Mini-MoeRule of CuteWhat Measure Is a Non-Cute?
TsundereDouble StandardUnrequited Love Tropes
TomboyStock CharactersUnsatisfiable Customer
Twitchy EyeCharacterization TropesUndying Loyalty
Two-FacedPersonal Appearance TropesUgly Hero, Good-Looking Villain
Typical Cartoon Animal ColorsAnimal TropesUnpleasant Animal Counterpart
Tunnel NetworkImageSource/PhotographyUltimate Blacksmith
True NeutralYMMV/Home PageUnacceptable Targets
True NeutralYMMVUnacceptable Targets

alternative title(s): So Ugly Its Cute; Unconventionally Cute
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