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Vain Sorceress
aka: Vain Sorcerer

"When a woman stays young and beautiful forever, the world is hers."
Queen Ravenna, Snow White & the Huntsman

So, by studying magic or through being extraordinarily gifted genetically, you've managed to acquire the power to cast flashy destructive spells, brainwash people en masse, and pretty much bend the whole of reality to your will. What is the first thing you do?

Well... if you're a woman, the first thing you probably do is use your magic to make yourself look like a Vogue cover model. As villains tend to be defined by their vices, it's only natural then, that female villains would gravitate towards vanity.

While any sorceress who looks over 40 runs the risk of being ridiculed for her less than perfect looks, ancient-looking wizards, Warlocks and male magic users are rarely subject to the same kind of ribbing. They will also be far less likely to fly off of the handle when called "Old man" or "Gramps", even when they have no grandchildren. Many of them may actually be trying to purposely cultivate the "wizened old man" look to inspire respect or get their enemies to underestimate them. It should be noted that some female characters do act this way as well, but they're going for the obvious smartalecky hag gimmick, which only in recent years has become popular enough to be taken seriously.

The Vain Sorceress might just be a particular version of the rule that in fantasy stories, all female main characters must appear youthful in appearance regardless of age. This is especially true for female mages who are associated with big strong virile warriors as their tanks; the difference between a good mage and the Vain Sorceress is only about 30% less clothing and 30% more purple dye.

The Vain Sorceress' youthfulness is often related to a specific power, where the character has to maintain their appearance by sucking energy from the young — if not be an outright vampire. Evil sorceresses tend to be far more obsessed with the perfection of their appearance, and go to further lengths to maintain it than good ones will. They may even go so far as to pull a Grand Theft Me, stealing a younger, prettier body to act as the vessel for their soul. In any case, they have to be the Fairest of Them All... by any means necessary.

If there's a Black Magician Girl in the hero's party, the Vain Sorceress will mock her unrefined, tomboyish look and intentionally flirt with the hero to make her mad. If there isn't, she'll mock the White Magician Girl's naivete. This again goes back to her vanity: the presence of other, younger females that spend most of their time with the good-looking heroic opposition means that putting them down and preserving her top spot is naturally a high priority.

This leads close to being an Always Female trope, as male characters who acts this way are usually depicted as very fey if not outright effeminate. Works that believe All Women Are Vain are just about guaranteed to have at least one Vain Sorceress running around.

Sometimes the Vain Sorceress is the Dark Magical Girl all grown up, so the heroine is the 'good' version. If the protagonist is a young male, this can venture into unintended Freudian overtones.

If the Vain Sorceress suffers from the Green-Eyed Monster, she often features as the Fairest of Them All. Usually delights in answering Revenge SVPs.

Note: this trope doesn't have anything to do with shapeshifting, deceptive illusion, or the more drastic physical changes that a male or female magic user may undergo in their campaign against an enemy. This is strictly a vanity thing. (It's interesting to note however, how much prettier and more human-looking a female mage's monstrous forms are compared to those of a male mage.)

Contrast the Wicked Witch, who is equally villainous but lacks the beauty, and the Hot Witch, who has the beauty but lacks the obsession. If this person is also much older than they seem, then they are Really 700 Years Old.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • Naruto features two characters who use unnatural means to keep themselves looking young, but only one of them does it out of vanity. Tsunade (a heroic example) uses a justu to adjust her apparent age, mostly to keep herself looking pretty, but sometimes as a way to elude creditors.
  • Record of Lodoss War features Karla, a witch who must steal the bodies of others to survive. Although she can possess anyone she chooses, she prefers to possess beautiful, young, magically-talented females (like Laylia the priestess).
  • Taiitsukun from Fushigi Yuugi is not a Vain Sorceress, but is an interesting example of a magical old hag who has a beautiful true form. (Her true identity is actually that of the Jade Emperor, the (male) ruler of Heaven.)
  • Inverted in Slayers: Lina Inverse, being something of a late bloomer, is always on the lookout for any magical item that will increase her apparent age (and with it, her bust and hip measurements).
    • Naga in the movies fits this trope to a T.
  • Alcyone from Magic Knight Rayearth is rather irritated when Umi calls her Oba-san. (So Umi does it as often as possible.)
  • Evangeline A.K. McDowell from Negima! normally has the appearance of a 10-year old girl (being a vampire, she doesn't age), but switches to a sexy adult woman form if she wants to be taken seriously - at least by adults - or wishes to flaunt her adult form's sex appeal (particularly to 10-year-old Negi, and often while naked; she seems to like seeing his flustered and embarrassed reaction).
  • Big Bad Dante from the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist turns out to be a several centuries old Body Surfer who has routinely switched bodies (and created a conspiracy to make the government create desperation that would drive people into making new Philosopher's Stones she can steal and use to fuel her repeated body-hopping) to keep herself from growing old and dying.
  • Princess Vina in Dragon Half uses magic to make herself look like a beautiful teenage girl... not because she's old (she really is a teenager), but because in her natural body she's a small purple slime.
  • Tsubaki the Dark Priestess from InuYasha wanted the Shikon no Tama to keep her power, youth and beauty, and as a strike for not being chosen as its keeper despite her abilities. She tried to steal it from Kikyou, with less than positive consequences.
  • Queen Nehelenia from Sailor Moon, so very much. She consumed the dreams of the young and happy to stay beautiful, because she caught a glimpse of her ugly future self in her Magic Mirror and was terrified.
    • In the anime, this was partially an after-effect of said Magic Mirror putting the whammy on her. She started out as a vain yet mostly naive queen who totally lost it when the mirror showed her not only her ugly future self, but how everyone would abandon her when she lost her beauty. By the end of Super S she was crazy and vain enough to choose being imprisoned in said mirror than losing her good looks, until Sailor Galaxia released her.
    • The Ayakashi Sisters were The Psycho Rangers of the R Season, and to remark on such a role they were always taunting each other about not looking young (the eldest sister, Petz, was the most usual butt of jokes) and applying make-up to their pretty faces when off-duty. They're actually more heroic than the standard and ultimately have Heel Face Turns, becoming the owners of a small make-up store in the process.
    • To a smaller degree, also Green Esmeraude.
  • Related: in Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, Mammon says that it is common for female illusionists to make their bodies disappear during their death throes so they don't leave an unsightly corpse behind. He thinks this is what is happening when Chrome's body disappears, but she is actually quite alive and ready to continue the fight.
  • Grimm Dowa (aka Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics) had an episode, "The Crystal Ball", where an evil witch murdered a beautiful woman and stole her identity. To keep herself beautiful and young, she keeps a beautiful princess trapped in her castle, and performed an unholy ritual every night where she bites into her neck and drains her of her lifeforce, and leaves her a rotting corpse. For reasons unexplained, the princess revives within a matter of seconds after the ritual is performed. When the murdered woman's sons find out what is going on, she turns two of them into animals, but the youngest escapes and is able to destroy her.
    • In the English and Hebrew Dub, the scenes with the biting were removed, and she simply switches ages with the princess. This is actually closer to the original story. The Spanish changed it to drinking her youth, but showed the biting.
  • Togenishia from Hana no Ko Lunlun. She can summon powerful winds, but doing so drains her of energy and brings lots of temporary wrinkles to her face. Therefore she whines a LOT about using her powers and relays more in trickery, manipulation and Yabooki's antics.

    Comic Books 
  • Justified in the case of the X-Men opponent Selene in that even if she did not regenerate, use her various Psychic Powers, or cast any of the spells she has picked up over the centuries she has to drain life from others just to stay alive. One might ask if the energy requirements (and resultant body count) would be lower if instead of maintaining herself as a world-class beauty of twenty-three, she settled for being middle-aged and dumpy... but best not say that to her face if you like being healthy.
    • Note that it's not a case of merely natural aging; if she goes too long without a Life Energy fix, she starts to revert to her true age—roughly seventeen thousand years old. Dust to dust indeed.
    • Danielle Moonstar once discovered Selene's deepest fear was growing old and ugly... and that with every passing century the gorgeous woman is finding it more and more difficult to keep herself so very young and lovely....
    • It's implied that her Good Counterpart (or at least Less Evil Counterpart) Emma Frost uses her psychic powers to appear slightly more beautiful than she already is. Considering she's one of the few comic book characters to admit to plastic surgery this is certainly plausible, though with her looks it doesn't take too much effort to appear stunning.
  • Sistah Spooky had made a Deal with the Devil to become much more beautiful, her sorcerous powers were an accidental bonus. She plays it straight later when she gets into power-throwing jealously fits if it feels like no one appreciates her good looks. Considering what they cost her...
  • Subverted in Fables: Frau Totenkinder is one of, if not the most powerful sorceress in existence. Part of this granted her eternal life and beauty, but she intentionally aged herself to become an old lady, so that she would not be distracted by her youth. Or by handsome princes who she wanted to curse/not fall in love with.
    • Similarly subverted in the original Shadowman series by Valiant Comics - when the hundreds of years old voodoo housekeeper Nettie (who normally looks about 70 or so) is super-charged by a potent increase in magic in the world, she reflexively reverts to the young (and devastatingly beautiful) appearance she had when she was in her 20s. The subversion stems from the fact that she reveals she was ALWAYS capable of making this change, but never wanted to - in fact, she's incredibly annoyed by her youth and just wants to go back to being old.
  • Rupert Giles's great-aunts Sophronia and Lavinia introduced in the Angel & Faith comicbook bartered their souls to demons in exchange for eternal youth and beauty. They were smart enough to include the condition that the demons would only get their souls at the first visible sign of aging (the demons weren't very bright). Unfortunately for them the end of magic restored the flow of time to them. Their first gray hairs were quickly followed by a bunch of demons looking to collect. Fortunately Angel and Faith were able to fight them off.

    Fanfiction 

    Film 
  • The ultimate example may be the Wicked Queen from Snow White; moreso in the Disney version, whose character design was reputedly based on Katharine Hepburn. This example also illustrates the primary paradox intrinsic to this trope: Why would an intelligent, powerful woman like the Queen be so crazily obsessed over something as seemingly paltry as mere physical appearance? Sure, vanity might explain part of it, but to go so far as to seek the death of a rival (who is not even aware of her grudge), and undergo a painful transformation to disguise herself so that she could personally carry out a murder plot? Seems a bit over the top, but then again, that's the warping nature of evil for you.
    • In an anime adaptation, she wants to steal Snow White's body instead. And it's revealed that she's not actually the Queen, but stole her body instead when she was a child. She (or even 'it') may have spent generations Body Surfing from beauty queen to beauty queen...
    • In some of the earliest versions of the tale, the Wicked Queen fears Snow White's maturing beauty because it symbolizes her impending death due to an ancient mythological trope that a person's child is his or her replacement — and she is Snow White's biological mother (not step-mother). So her efforts to kill Snow White are not based on physical vanity, but on a desperate hunger for immortality.
    • In Snow White & the Huntsman, Wicked Queen Ravenna is using magic to maintain her youth and beauty, and taking Snow White's heart will allow her to live as a beauty forever. It's never really explained why.
  • A live action example can be seen in Excalibur: Morgana Le Fay uses her magical powers to keep herself looking young into middle age. Interestingly, when Merlin goes into her dream and tricks her into casting a powerful mist spell, she releases so much energy that she ages far beyond what her natural age was originally.
    • In fact, just about any evil sorceress in any show, (especially those who use a forbidden, "sacrificial" form of magic to maintain their appearance) will wind up becoming old and wrinkly — or turning to dust completely — once their power is broken.
  • Mother Gothel in Tangled completely embodies this trope, hoarding a magical healing flower to keep herself young and beautiful for centuries, and then kidnapping baby Rapunzel and raising her in a tower for 18 years when the flower's power is transferred to her. In addition she often puts down Rapunzel and compliments herself.
  • Rare, non-fey male example: Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders (which 99% of viewers probably saw on MST3K) featured a jerkish newspaper reviewer who dabbled in magic and discovered that doing so caused him to age rapidly. He then concocted a spell to make himself young again, but it worked a little too well...
  • The witches in Hocus Pocus spend all their time looking for children to suck the life out of to make themselves look younger, with the added impetus once they've been resurrected of having to do this or they'll turn to dust. At one point, the 8(?)-year-old heroine says, "It doesn't matter how young or old you are. You sold your soul! You're the ugliest thing that's ever lived! And you know it!"
  • Return to Oz features a witch who collects pretty female heads, and swaps between them like another woman changes dresses. (The idea came from the novel Ozma Of Oz, although the character was far less malevolent and more ditzy.)
  • In Oz: The Great and Powerful, the Wicked Witch of the East is a hideous old crone, but spends most of the movie under a spell that makes her appear as a beautiful woman. Defied by the Wicked Witch of the West, who refuses to hide her appearance because she wants Oz to see the monster he's turned her into.
  • Countess Dracula, a 1971 Hammer horror film based on the legends surrounding the "Blood Countess" Elizabeth Bathory. The Countess restores her youth and beauty by bathing in the blood of murdered virgins. While in her rejuvenated state, she takes the identity of her own daughter; a plan that gets complicated when her actual daughter returns home.
  • The 1985 film Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer featured one of these as the primary antagonist.
  • Possibly the sorceress Azkedellia from the Sci-Fi original movie Tin Man. While she doesn't obsess over her looks, she's too beautiful to be a standard Wicked Witch, so...
    • Azkedellia's true nature is eventually revealed as a victim of Grand Theft Me. Although the evil witch possessing her is likely to be very old (possibly the Wicked Witch defeated by The Grey Gale) Azkedellia herself still retains her perfectly natural youth. She's roughly the same age as the protagonist, after all.
  • In the Hugga Bunch TV Movie from the 80s, Witch/Queen Admira keeps herself young looking with the use of "young berries" which the 8-year-old heroine tries to procure for her aging grandmother. Of course, in the end she gets her karmic comeuppance when the key that unlocks the glass case in which the young-berry tree is kept gets left inside the case, after which time the sorceress rapidly ages and dies.
  • In The Brothers Grimm, the villainous Mirror Queen (Monica Bellucci) was so desperate to remain beautiful and unsullied as plague ravaged her lands that she cast a spell on herself to live forever. Unfortunately, the spell didn't keep her from aging. Several centuries later, she's a bedridden old crone who sends out a hypnotized henchman to kidnap twelve young girls from a nearby village to prepare a ritual that will restore her beauty at the cost of the girls' lives. Her eternally-youthful reflection in a magic mirror is key to putting other people under her power. She succeeds in regaining her youth, but Jacob smashes the mirror and she shatters, though the final shot reveals she may not be completely dead. At least the girls are rescued.
  • In Stardust, the witches' motivation for cutting out the Star's heart is to regain youth permanently and to a notably lesser extent, to become more powerful. There is a Lampshade Hanging on the trope, as the witch assigned to catch the star keeps using magic to keep a youthful appearance, and even though her sisters also desire youth, they scold her for wasting it. There's even a scene where the main witch notices something on her face and uses magic to remove it... and one of her boobs immediately sags. She fixes it with another spell.
  • Like the original tale, in Snow White: A Tale of Terror Claudia is enamored with her physical appearance to the point that the magic mirror shows her to be beautiful in moments when she's not.
  • In The Sword in the Stone, Madame Mim defies this trope. As a master shapeshifter, she can easily make herself look young and beautiful, but she admits that such a guise is only skin-deep and deep down she's "an ugly old creep!" Since Mim thinks Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad, she is perfectly happy being an ugly Wicked Witch.

    Literature 
  • Tascela in Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story Red Nails.
  • Discworld's witches are generally an exception; they intentionally cultivate the "hag" image, and very few are willing to mock them. Of course, the local rules of magic state that the natural shape of a witch or wizard quickly reasserts itself, so it's pointless for them to try to change their appearance.
    • Although when Magrat marries the king, she briefly muses that she might have to become a Witch Queen, which probably involves wearing revealing clothes.
      • Then again, considering Magrat doesn't exactly have much to reveal, it's probably for the best that she settled for a more sensible look and prefers ruling as a rather benevolent, if slightly too liberal and modern, queen.
    • During the Sourceror's reign, many UU wizards initially tried to youthen themselves with the more powerful magic. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, it didn't take too well, and having fifty years of aging coming back and suckerpunching you in the gut will ruin anyone's day.
    • Lady Lilith, Granny Weatherwax's evil older sister, looks pretty much like Esme would if she were fifty years younger. This is due to a highly dangerous use of mirror magic.
  • In The Magic Goes Away all mages use youth spells to extend their life spans. However, the female mage has the lowest physical age.
  • In the series From Thief to King by Michael Williams, the sorceress Ravenna is mysterious, seductive, and stunningly beautiful... and has been a fixture at the royal court for decades. When her evil and manipulations become known to the heroes, the entire focus of their activities comes down to finding a way to destroy her... which turns out to hinge on the fact that the very potions and alchmeical mixtures she uses to preserve her youth and exquisite beauty also make her vulnerable to other alchemical mixtures. Very much a case of her own vanity providing the means to defeat her.
  • A rare case of male character is Gerald Tarrant in the Coldfire Trilogy who systematically uses his magical powers to keep himself neat, well dressed and handsome. Although Damien frequently makes fun of his vanity, he also notices that it has a very practical bonus- Tarrant is always at his best appearance, and this helps him to make quite an impression.
  • In Stardust, the witches' motivation for cutting out the Star's heart is to regain youth permanently and to a notably lesser extent, to become more powerful.
  • In The Witcher world it's so common that it not only gets lampshaded, but outright deconstructed. Virtually all the sorceresses are like this, at least in the Northern Kingdoms. This is due to the fact that while magical talent is distributed pretty evenly among population, it is, for all its Anachronism Stews, a late Medieval period, when a woman's purpose in life was marriage and motherhood. So, only girls who had a chance to take up magic were the ones with the worst marriage prospects — read, butt-ugly at best, if not outright cripples. Furthermore, there's a matter of prestige — Mages Guild couldn't allow its members to soil its image by their ugliness, which leads to the Circle of Sorceresses consisting entirely of "... pseudo-pretty women with the cold, bitter eyes of ugly girls." Wizards mostly go for the respectable, wizened look instead. But then, Sapkowski loves to deconstruct everything.
  • In David Eddings' Belgariad Prequel Belgarath the Sorcerer, a sorcerer's appearance seems to be connected to their mental image. While the original sorcerer Belgarath deliberately goes for either the old vagabond storyteller look or the hale and hearty old man appearance (and is still in remarkable physical shape, come to think of it, enough that many women find him very attractive), his daughter Polgara always looks quite stunning. She notes that an old women is called a "crone" for a reason, and cronehood isn't exactly her idea of a positive impression.
    • Given that in this setting sorcerers shapechange simply by thoroughly visualizing their new body (no incantation or ritual), very low level leakage from the subconscious should make this a reasonable side effect of simply living for a few millennia. Probably explains the muscles, too - all that exercise accumulating without the atrophy (you notice the former happening more). May even explain the immortality.
  • Piers Anthony's earlier Xanth novels feature Iris, a sorceress who uses illusions to maintain her aura of beauty — although that was a bit less out of vanity for its own sake than the knowledge that it gave her an advantage in dealing with men. Later, Golem in the Gears featured the Sea-Hag, who used the body stealing version of this trope to live for thousands of years.
    • Not that Iris is unattractive; she is merely about 20 years older than she appears to be, and has put on a few extra pounds. Later in the series she is given a youth potion, and looks the way she presents herself for real.
    • In the Apprentice Adept series, the Yellow Adept has, and occasionally uses, a potion to restore her youth. The difficulty of making it keeps her old most of the time.
  • Dorian from The Picture of Dorian Gray is pretty much the male poster for the trope, having expressed the desire to never age or show any flaws so he could stay young and be loved by everyone. His portrait became uglier and older every time he did something bad, while Dorian remained young and handsome.
  • In the novel Howl's Moving Castle, Howl himself is extremely vain about his appearance, claims to be thousands of years old, and has a reputation for seducing pretty girls and taking their souls the stealing souls is figurative of him being The Casanova and a rumor he spread himself, and he's actually a young guy from Wales in "our world".
  • Ileana in T*Witches who insists that other characters call her "Goddess".
  • In L. Frank Baum's Queen Zizi of Ix, Zizi's chief motivation is that while she makes herself beautiful in everyone else's eyes, she's still ugly in her own; she wants to fix that.
  • Mages (male and female) who obsess over looks and use their powers for cosmetic purposes sometimes figure on the fringes of Tamora Pierce's books, portrayed with varying levels of sympathy. Varice Kingsford from The Immortals is part of the Big Bad's court and considered a waste of time at best by the protagonist, but is last seen sobbing amid the ruins of the palace (sans makeup) and saying that she just likes pretty things, and does that make her a bad person? Contrast the fourth Circle of Magic book, where a pox epidemic is traced back to a mage (one Eilisa Pearldrop, whose very name inspires contempt in the sensible mage protagonists) specializing in beauty magic, who messes up a weight-loss spell and, rather than pay for her magical waste to be disposed of safely, lets it get carried out in the sewage system, thereby creating a magically strengthened disease. Very unsexy.
    • Numair is literally a vain sorcerer, at least some of the time, but he doesn't fit into this trope very well, as he's a good person and knows when not to care about his appearance. One of his friends says he spends hours getting ready, then ruins his outfit by lying in the grass to watch meteor showers.
  • One of the Lord Darcy stories features a lord who uses a magical ritual to extend his youth. However, because of Equivalent Exchange, this reduces his lifespan; the vitality is going from his heart and lungs to his skin and hair.
  • Watercrafters in Codex Alera can utilize their crafting to obscure or even eliminate most signs of aging, in addition to more complete shapeshifting.
  • Azure Bonds had one of these participating in a little conspiracy to create an obedient Super Soldier/assassin. Her idea of this was to base their living construct on her own cloned body (after having to run out of one city due to bad publicity already) and garb in a chainmail with a "fashionable" gap on the chest, albeit magically protected anyway. While somehow expecting their creation to keep the low profile. Needless to say, such a "strategy" added extra attention to their other mishaps.
  • All female Others in Sergey Lukyaneko's Night Watch use simple spells to maintain their appearance instead of spending half an hour every morning applying makeup. Alisa ends up losing her magic in the second novel and has to resort to putting up makeup the old-fashioned way. In New Watch, Svetlana reveals that she has stopped using magic outside their apartment in order to retain her humanity. It's strange that it's such a surprise for Anton, given that he had to have noticed her putting on makeup at some point (modern Russian women tend to try to look their best even when they're just stepping out for some milk). The only reason she uses it at home is because she hates ironing.

    Live Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Catherine Madison from Season 1, who stole her own daughter's body to relive her high school glory days.
    • Giles' aunts from the Season 9 comics.
  • Not a mystic case, but the illusionist Candice of Heroes prefers to appear as Missy Perergrym, but as revealed in the second season, her real figure is about sixty pounds heavier.
  • In the Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode "The Tale of the Many Faces", a struggling model named Emma visits a strange woman named Madame Visage who gives her some powder that apparently helps her get a modeling job. (The powder didn't really do anything, considering that Emma was pretty to begin with) However, its revealed that Madame Visage is a Vain Sorceress and the face powder has properties that keeps girls faces looking younger and the skin smooth. She wants the faces to be in peak condition so that she can steal them and use them as her own face as a way to keep herself looking younger.
    • Another episode featured the beautiful owner of a cosmetics store who oddly enough for someone so vain avoids mirrors like the plague. Her beauty is only an illusion and mirrors reflect her true appearance as an old woman. She tries to use a magic ritual that involves turning young girls into dogs and cutting out their tongues in order to make her youth and beauty real. In the end a mirror is used to break her power which saves the girls and causes time to return to her and everything she owns including her store. The storyteller's ending line says it all:
    In the end, all that was left of her beautiful illusion was dust, and a pile of ugly rubble.
  • Vanessa Zeitgeist from the MI High episode "Forever Young" is the scientific version of this trope.
  • In the Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode "The Youth Killer", Helen of Troy returns to drain the youth out of unsuspecting perfect victims, sacrifices for the goddess Hecate, in her quest for immortality.
  • The power of one Smallville Freak Of The Week was to absorb Life Energy to retain her youth. Like most villains with this ability, Rapid Aging eventually caught up with her.
  • One shows up in Charmed and soul-swaps herself into Phoebe's body. She has a lot of fun looking at herself, especially since her original face is terribly ugly.
  • Trakeena from Power Rangers Lost Galaxy was like this in the first half of the series; in one episode, she ordered the Monster of the Week to steal the beauty from the female inhabitants of Terra Venture to enhance her own. While that failed plot seemed like a one-shot deal, the conclusion of the episode quickly turned this into a major plot point, when her father offered her a cocoon that would increase her powers exponentially through evolution - but cause her to shed her human form. Trakeena wasn't willing to make that trade, and ran away rather than do it. Eventually, however, after Taking a Level in Badass on her own (thanks in part to Villimax) she dropped this attitude, and took over after Scorpius' death, and eventually did use the thing. (Unfortunately, while she was no longer vain after that, it pretty much cost her every bit of humanity she ever might have had, making her a cold-blooded demon who was worse than ever.)

    Pinball 

    Tabletop RPG 
  • The Hag Queens of the Dark Elves in Warhammer, notably Morathi and Hellebron, who regularly bathe in blood to keep their eternal youth. Particularly relevant for Hellebron, who's only able to get a few days of youth every year. Morathi on the other hand invented the process, and retains her beauty at all times.
    • In some versions of the background, Neferata stole Nagash's elixir of immortality to maintain her youth and beauty. A botched formula gave her her wish, but also turned her into the first vampire. Her progeny, the Lahmian vampire bloodline, also qualify for the trope.
    • The Hag Queens are a somewhat borderline case here, in that they're not actually sorceresses (except Morathi, who is so important she can casually disregard all the rules for her own benefit), but rather frenzied blood cultists who worship a god of warfare and murder. In fact they actually despise magic users. They still get the magical benefits of blood-bathing renewed youth though. And the actual sorceresses of the Dark Elves play the trope straight as an arrow.
    • And a rare male example is to be had in Sigvald the Magnificent, although his vanity is serviced chiefly by being the spoiled favourite of an indulgent dark god, rather than his own magic. Narcissistic vanity is pretty much all there is to Sigvald.
  • Exalted has a divine equivalent in the form of the storm mothers. Unlike the other examples, there's no way to make one of them pretty, and their natural appearance is utterly hideous. They express their vanity by making it so that no woman prettier than themselves (which is pretty much every mortal woman) can crew a ship in the West without calling down their wrath. They do provide a third option, however, allowing women to become the "third-gender" Tya if they want to take to the sea.
    • They also find it hard to affect red-haired women, due to the existence of a more powerful deity of sail who happens to be a redhead.
  • In the Ravenloft adventure Feast of Goblyns, the main female villain is a priestess who'd attempted to make herself more beautiful using corrupt sacrificial rituals. She'd already had a Charisma of 17, so must've been extremely vain not to have contented herself with being more attractive than almost any other human alive.

    Theater 

    Video Games 
  • This is also a running gag for the sorceress Marjolly, from the Nippon Ichi Marl Kingdom games (Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure) and cameos in Disgaea.
    • Same with "Beauty Queen" Etna.
  • In Banjo-Kazooie, Gruntilda the witch kidnaps the protagonist's little sister to use her for the "sucking the youth out of younger characters" method. She only pulls it off if the player gets a game over or quits.
  • In the Fan Remake of King's Quest II: Romancing The Throne, Hagatha's motivation is that she's a wannabe Vain Sorceress. She's a hideous old hag who wants to be young and beautiful, but hasn't managed to find a way to accomplish that yet.
  • Icewind Dale featured a minor villain, a witch living near a village of skinners and furriers. Their primary source of income was mink fur. She turned children into...minks, somehow using that energy to remain not only young and beautiful but immortal.
  • Deneb from Ogre Battle willfully staves off aging using underhanded means. Allegedly. And if you're female, she taunts you and then tells you you'll get wrinkles if you frown. Averted in the same game by the great witch Mango, who is 120 years old and entitled "The Great and Beautiful", even though she looks like any other old witch in the game.
    • So allegedly that Deneb's "death quote" in both Tactics Ogre games is more irritation than despair, and you can have her possess suitable hosts multiple times after dying in Tactic Ogre: Knight of Lodis.
  • Melody, one of the Prophets in Wild ARMs 3 strives to become a demon so that she can stay beautiful forever. One of the heroes, Clive Winslet, mocks her for her vanity whenever they meet, and she carries a grudge against him for it.
  • In Planescape: Torment, even though Fall-From-Grace probably isn't of this type (despite being able to change her shape to appear as she desires), and as a Succubus there's no reason to think that her true form would be anything but beautiful, Action Girl Annah frequently uses the idea to try to insult her. Pointedly, she does not try to hide the wings that mark her as a demon.
    • Ravel, on the other hand, is a subversion; she keeps her ancient, shriveled hag appearance despite the fact that changing her looks is as easy as breathing to her. She does assume the appearances of your female companions to tempt you and she reveals that she actually was three specific people you encountered at certain places in the Hive but resumes her old self after that.
      • The especially interesting thing about Ravel is that while she does have extensive shapeshifting powers, when she assumes the appearances of Grace and Annah it's only an illusion that doesn't extend past sight, as is revealed when she kisses you. Maybe she's making a comment on the nature of beauty.
  • In Archon, while they're designed (in the original version) to be fairly blank slates to let players feel free to use Light Is Not Good and Dark Is Not Evil, the iconic pieces for the Light and Dark spellcasters are still visually suggestive. And in the piece descriptions, we have "An ancient man of vast supernatural power" contrasted with "The equal of the old Wizard only in power, the eternally young and ever beautiful Sorceress is his counterpart in all ways." Make of it what you will.
  • An odd male, more or less benign version: Anji Mito from Guilty Gear, who greatly dislikes the mere idea of growing older. One of his GGX endings has That Man offering him the chance to join him and get his wish to stay young forever. Anji's reply is not shown, but this is later confirmed to be his canon GGX ending as he's shown working for That Man.
  • Flea of Chrono Trigger, the primary magic user in the Mystic army, is obsessed with beauty, stating that "beauty is power" when confronted by the heroes. However, despite all appearances, Flea isn't quite a perfect match.
  • Morrigan in Dragon Age: Origins seems to be one of these, though she's a little young for it to be apparent. She's certainly very concerned with being seen as sexy, and she's got the rest of the personality associated with this.
    • Her MOTHER, however, fits this trope in the body surfing variety.
    • The Baroness of the Blackmarsh from Awakening was this in life and death. While alive she abducted and murdered the children of her peasants to use their blood in rituals to preserve her youth. After she was killed, she maintained her beautiful form while a spirit even after becoming a Pride Demon.
  • Edea in Final Fantasy VIII, but only when she is under Ultimecia's control; otherwise, she tends to dress in a very simple, modest fashion; played straight with Ultimecia, at least in her normal human form; averted with Rinoa and averted big-time with Adel.
  • Kuja of Final Fantasy IX is another male character along the lines of this (though his gender isn't necessarily obvious at first glance.) He's quite vain about his appearance and while he doesn't specifically pursue eternal youth, this is probably because he mistakenly believes he's immortal; upon learning that he isn't, he has a Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum because he can't bear the thought of the world existing without him.
  • The evil queen in Curse Of Enchantia kidnaps Brad (the player's character) as a final ingredient for her spell of constant youth.
  • A factor in Lobelia's Face-Heel Turn in Duel Savior Destiny long ago was that she was bitter over how ugly her scarring was. When it finally came down to fight against her former ally, she ended the fight by stealing her more beautiful body.
  • Touhou's Byakuren Hijiri was once a youkai-fighting Buddhist nun, who secretly took pity on her targets, teaching them virtue and releasing them where they could not harm humans. Then her brother died of old age, and Byakuren, horrified by the reality of growing old and dying, sold her humanity to become a Magician youkai herself so that she would remain young and beautiful forever. To this day, she specializes in body-enhancement spells.
  • Kindle from Advance Wars: Dual Strike, who is somehow able to do this via the Black Crystals, which leach minerals and supplies from the planet.

    Webcomics 
  • Salth from The Dementia Of Magic is a borderline case. She's not evil, nor is her youth Powered by a Forsaken Child, but always surrounds herself with an illusion spell to look young.
  • The double standard is fairly well pointed out early on in Errant Story; female magic-users that show the slightest sign of aging are more or less expected to dedicate some of their power to maintaining their appearance. The main character hates this expectation, mainly because she's largely resistant to such magics.
    • Said main character's mother sympathetic one, who's doing it so she'll still be at attractive to the main character's father, an immortal elf, Too bad he's a Jerk Ass who doesn't care about her or his daughter.
  • In El Goonish Shive Nioi, human-skunk chimera sorceress, is a benign version — she played with cosmetic use of shapeshifting magic, changing her skin color and making herself slightly younger. Maybe because of her rather obvious crush on Lord Tedd. She also claimed as empirical knowledge that a younger soul in physically older body is a bad idea, but it's just fine if vice versa.
  • Camilia from Slimy Thief wanted to become one. She wanted to join an a order of witches to learn magic so she could give herself a curvy body with large breasts but quits after being selected to join when she learns that one of the requirements is that she gives up what she most desires, so she wouldn't be allowed to change her body using magic.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Mesmira from the Conan The Adventurer cartoons.
  • Lady Bane from Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears used the "sucking the youth out of younger characters" method of de-agifying herself.
  • Porcina in the My Little Pony And Friends episode "The Glass Princess" wants to turn everything into glass so she can see her reflection everywhere.
  • Spectra in Danny Phantom feeds off the misery of teenagers to restore her own youth.
  • Played straight in W.I.T.C.H.. While second season Big Bad Nerissa starts out as a 60+ hag with almost viper like features, as soon as she has some power to spare she turns into a 20-something diva.
    • Though in this case, the regaining of youth is presented as more of a side-affect of Nerissa's power boost (albeit one she's certainly pleased with) rather than her primary goal.
  • Toyed with in Justice League - their version of Morgan Le Fay drains youth from random Muggles...but it's not really a case of vanity, since her costume covers up her entire body except for her hands. Mostly it seems to be for the benefit of her son, Mordred, whom she cast a spell on to grant eternal life and eternal youth. Evidently, it fixed him at that age and can't be broken or altered without causing him to instantly turn into a withered old man.
  • Inverted by classic Looney Tunes character Witch Hazel, who is very vain and obsessive about her ugliness. In "Broomstick Bunny", she constantly consults her magic mirror to ensure she's still the "ugliest of all" and becomes jealous when Bugs shows up at her house on Halloween wearing a witch mask more hideous than she is. In the same cartoon, she's tricked by Bugs into drinking a potion that actually turns her into a beautiful woman, which causes her to Freak Out.
  • Laverna in the Barbie Fairytopia movies.


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