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Beautiful But Undesirable

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They're hot and normally would be attractive, but for some reason are undesirable and attract no prospective love interests

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
cyberboff on Mar 26th 2012 at 4:39:19 AM
Last Edited By:
XFllo on yesterday
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

Up for grabs. Grabbed by X Fllo (unless someone else wants it; please adopt this thing)


Trope name ideas:

  • Undesirable Hottie
  • Beautiful But Undesirable

He or she is very good-looking. Their pretty appearance or hotness even is acknowledged in universe, yet they remain unlucky in love.

Perhaps there are some internal factors. After all, there's more to sexual attractiveness than good looks. Style, poise, personality, social status... all that matters. Even in societies where Men Are Strong, Women Are Pretty thing is a very strong standard, it won't save you if you're boring, contemptible, or a jerk.

There might be some external factors. Perhaps there is an Overprotective Dad who scares all the boys away.

Different from Hollywood Homely or Hollywood Dateless in that the character is actually good looking, but still spectacularly fails to get any attention from anybody.

Gender-neutral trope.


Examples

  • Lindsay Bluth Fuenke from Arrested Development. Acknowledged as being 'the pretty one', but marries a homosexual, spends a 5 figure legal retainer trying to seduce their lawyer, and gets publicly rejected at two Batchelorette Auctions.
  • In Switched after Umine and Ayume switch bodies, Umine-as-Ayume alienates herself despite her beauty, and people treat her poorly because of it, while Ayumi-as-Umine makes many friends despite her "ugliness".
  • Elizabeth Elliot from Persuasion is an extremely beautiful woman who is still very hot even as she's pushing thirty (in times when women were considered spinsters from their mid twenties). She's popular in society and men are said to be wild about her, yet she fails to attract a serious suitor who would consider her a wife material because she's vain, haughty and unkind.
  • Oglaf has a strip where a woman made a Deal with the Devil to be beautiful- with the result that no one tries to seduce her as they all think she's out of their league.

Does this count?

  • Death from He Lover of Death is a strong contender for the World's Most Beautiful Woman title, but her horrific luck with relationships (at least three men she was involved with died in violent accidents that she had absolutely nothing to do with) led to her gaining her nickname and being rejected by the polite society. In the book, the only men still willing to get romantically involved with her are career criminals doing it mostly for the thrill. And they all die violently by the end of the book, too.

My comment: Does this count when she attracted three suitors in the past? That seems a bit different from never attracting anyone.


Feedback: 29 replies

Mar 26th 2012 at 5:51:20 AM

Make it gender-neutral and point out that there's more to sexual attractiveness than good looks. Style, poise, personality, social status... Even in societies where Men Are Strong Women Are Pretty is a very strong standard, it won't save you if you're boring, contemptible, or a jerk, for example.

Mar 14th 2019 at 6:08:10 PM

Are there more examples? This is an interesting concept, but I can't recall any examples.

ETA: Ok, I'm grabbing this draft. And I remembered an example — Elizabeth from Persuasion.

Mar 14th 2019 at 4:23:30 PM

I agree that this should be gender-neutral and expanded.

This is a plot point in Switched:

  • In Switched after Umine and Ayume switch bodies, Umine-as-Ayume alienates herself despite her beauty, and people treat her poorly because of it, while Ayumi-as-Umine makes many friends despite her "ugliness".

Mar 14th 2019 at 6:37:13 PM

^ Agree. Expand and neutral.

Mar 14th 2019 at 7:06:51 PM

^ How? Care to elaborate?

Mar 14th 2019 at 7:13:02 PM

^^ No.

So Beautiful Is A Curse often involve the beautiful girl/guy getting attracted - often excessive and unwanted.

In this trope, the hottie doesn't attract anyone.

Mar 14th 2019 at 7:43:06 PM

^ So Beautiful Its A Curse is broader than that, it covers any way a character's beauty could cause them problems. So it would cover cases where a character is so beautiful it scares away all potential lovers.

This could be a subtrope I suppose.

Mar 14th 2019 at 7:58:42 PM

Oglaf has a strip where a woman made a Deal With The Devil to be beautiful- with the result that no one tries to seduce her as they all think she's out of their league.

Mar 14th 2019 at 8:04:35 PM

^^ I don't see how, since this idea seems to be "character is very attractive, but still fails in the love department due to other undesirable traits"

Mar 14th 2019 at 9:17:14 PM

^ Attractiveness Isolation is someone not getting a date because people think they're so attractive they must have a date already. This is someone whose looks don't change the fact that people consider them unattractive.

Mar 14th 2019 at 11:32:36 PM

^Or they think the person is "to good for them".

Mar 18th 2019 at 2:42:36 AM

May be a result of the Cartwright Curse:

  • Death from He Lover Of Death is a strong contender for the Worlds Most Beautiful Woman title, but her horrific luck with relationships (at least three men she was involved with died in violent accidents that she had absolutely nothing to do with) led to her gaining her nickname and being rejected by the polite society. In the book, the only men still willing to get romantically involved with her are career criminals doing it mostly for the thrill. And they all die violently by the end of the book, too.

Mar 15th 2019 at 2:43:45 AM

^^^ "This is someone whose looks don't change the fact that people consider them unattractive."

Wait, I'm thinking of 3 scenarios here: A beautifully designed person (i.e in an Out Of Universe way) doesn't attract others because...

  • Other people think he/she's too good for them or perhaps he/she already has someone else, since their beauty would logically make them easy to find a couple - Attractiveness Isolation
  • Other people are put off by a certain (non-beauty) trait that he/she may have, like being a jerk or unhygienic or being too obsessive etc.
  • Other people just don't get attracted, and it's treated as weird
  • (Rare case) the beautiful person is cursed (by something/someone) to not attract anybody

Which one is this trope?

Mar 15th 2019 at 6:05:13 AM

Maybe Undesirable Hottie?

Another common cause of this (especially in teen works) is an Overprotective Dad

Mar 15th 2019 at 6:16:28 AM

^ I like this suggestion a lot.

Mar 15th 2019 at 7:42:25 AM

^^^ The second, I think.

Mar 15th 2019 at 6:39:37 PM

^^^^ As I understand this trope: either the second and the third, or combination of them. External factors might influence that as well, e.g. the Overprotective Dad (as Larkmarn suggested).

Mar 15th 2019 at 6:24:50 PM

^ I'm thinking of "Beautiful but Undesirable" for the title.

Mar 15th 2019 at 6:39:11 PM

^ Not bad at all. Definitely one to consider.

Mar 18th 2019 at 11:54:08 AM

Yeah, this is "people are put off by a certain trait [that isn't their beauty]," such as their personality, personal hygiene, etc. Other reasons could include their family is scary/aggressive/weird or they are themselves "uncultured" or unsociable.

And I like the name Beautiful But Undesirable.

That all said, I wonder if this is too similar to Handsome Lech, whose description says it's a beautiful pervert who fails to actually "score" because of his personality. Though, if that's what Handsome Lech is supposed to be, then there's plenty of misuse on its page. (I brought this up in ATT here.)

Mar 18th 2019 at 2:40:17 PM

^ Then again, I recall that there's so much confusion over the many pervert tropes that we have...

Mar 18th 2019 at 3:49:40 PM

I admit that most of what I know about The Taming of the Shrew is actually Kiss Me Kate, but does this apply there?

Mar 18th 2019 at 3:58:29 PM

  • In Chihayafuru Chihaya is widely considered very beautiful (her sister is a successful model), but she has such a Hot Blooded, karuta-obsessed personality she's nicknamed 'Beauty in Vain' and no guy at school shows any interest in her. The first time she's asked out, it's just by some random guy at the train station who thought she was hot, though Taichi notes (probably correctly) that she could never really date any guy who hasn't seen her play karuta.

Mar 18th 2019 at 7:19:18 PM

  • Dante of Devil May Cry is a charismatic Hunk of a half-demon, but women around him (mainly Lady) find it hard to actually form a relationship with him because he's quite the carefree slob when he's not working on his demon-hunting job.

Mar 18th 2019 at 8:04:08 PM

Didn't realize we had Attractiveness Isolation (which covers the Oglaf example); that should definitely be contrasted in the description, along with So Beautiful Its A Curse.

This is the inversion of Kavorka Man.

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