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Adaptational Ugliness

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From beauty to harridan.

Mary: How come they made me fat and have red hair?
Larry: Because you're the comic relief!
Dialogue from Animated Adaptation of the band Limozeen in Homestar Runner

The opposite of Adaptational Attractiveness, this trope is when a character who is conventionally attractive (or described as such) in the source material is made less conventionally attractive in the adaptation.

This may be done in the case of villainous characters to make them more Obviously Evil, or in general it may be a case of Ability over Appearance if it's decided that an actor uglier than the character in question can play the part well. Another reasoning for this is that they didn't get it right in previous adaptations, especially for live-action ones.

Besides villains, this is also common for Comic Relief characters as well. The adapters want to make it obvious to kids that the hero's sidekick is the funny guy, so they turn him a Big Fun Fat Comic Relief. This may also be done for the sake of not having the sidekick overshadow the protagonist.


Compare Big Bra to Fill, where a large-breasted fictional character has a more realistic breast size in a Live-Action Adaptation. Compare Adaptational Modesty, when a fanservice character is toned down in adaptations.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In the original Ghost in the Shell manga, Motoko Kusanagi is slender, coquettish, and quite well endowed. Compare her to her appearance in the blockbuster 1995 film, where she has a significantly more masculine build and androgynous face. Her later appearance in Stand Alone Complex is a compromise between the two, leaning towards the manga.
  • Little Pollon: Many characters are caricatures of the Greek gods of Classical Mythology:
    • Eros, the god of sexual attraction, is supposed to be very handsome and is usually depicted as a Pretty Boy at the very least. In this anime he’s made fun of for his ugly Gonk appearance.
    • Dionysus is often portrayed as a Hot God as well, but here he's a bald, short, stout man with dark glasses.
    • Zeus is usually depicted as tall and muscular. Here he's a short, goofy-looking guy with Blinding Bangs who forms an Ugly Guy, Hot Wife couple with Hera.
  • Pokémon:
    • A downplayed example as the characters aren't specifically ugly, however, quite a few of them have had more simplistic designs than their game counterparts. Cilan for example is still very handsome but isn't quite as cute as in his game official art. Most commonly a lot of trainers are given younger, shorter looks to better fit against ten-year Ash as well, especially females such as Serena (who is at minimum sixteen in the games but was aged down to a ten-year-old) and Lillie (who only seems one year younger than her game counterpart but is much shorter than her).
    • Pokémon themselves are usually portrayed a bit closer to their sprites and models from the games. In fact, the opposite of this trope was true in regards to the earliest game sprites.
  • Red from Pokémon Red and Blue was a cute eleven-year-old boy with Anime Hair in baggy clothes. Red from Pocket Monsters is more of a gonk. In fact, many characters (Pokemon included) received this treatment, especially in the early chapters. Later chapters subvert this by using game-accurate designs. For example, Bill was originally an ugly, hairy gonk however he later reappeared in his much cuter and younger game design.
  • Samurai 7:
    • Whereas Kikuchiyo from the original 1954 film was a muscular, strapping, nimble, athletic young man played by the ruggedly handsome Toshiro Mifune; here, he's an enormous mechanized suit of armour with not even a visible face.
    • Shino's father Manzo was no oil painting, but the anime made him even uglier.
  • In the Warrior Cats books, Runningnose is a fairly normal cat, just with constant sniffles that he cannot cure despite being a medicine cat. The Tigerstar and Sasha manga makes him gaunt and ragged, with his ribs showing, and almost elderly-looking.
  • Paragus in Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan is a tan-skinned and dark haired like all the Saiyans. In his canon version in Dragon Ball Super: Broly he’s pale, haggard and grey haired. This is partly due Paragus getting a Age Lift since the original movie took place during the Cell Saga while the canon movie is set well past the Buu saga so it only makes sense Paragus could be older. It can also be attributed to the fact Paragus has been stuck on the Crapsack World Vampa all this time. Some Beauty Equals Goodness at play too, since Paragus is more vile than his original counterpart.
  • In Sailor Moon, Sailor Mars' grandfather is portrayed as tall and rather attractive. The anime on the other hand made him short and bald.
  • Miss Chono's true face in the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga was one that stood in direct contrast to the sweet and perky facade she put up and reflected what she really was: a cruel Sadist Teacher with Creepy Shadowed Tsurime Eyes and a completely diabolical facial expression. The original anime adaptation instead went in a "she's ugly on the inside" direction and gave her the face of a wrinkled old crone.

  • In Classical Mythology, Dionysus was considered an extremely attractive Pretty Boy. Renaissance painters, for whatever reason, loved depicting him as a portly, middle-aged man.

    Audio Drama 

    Comic Books 
  • Played with Bêlit in Conan the Barbarian; in the original Marvel published comics, she looks beautiful in a conventional and normal way. The Dark Horse publications depict her more feral and frightening with ivory-white skin, though she is still considered beautiful in a uncanny sort of way. Interestingly, she is more scantily-clad in that version, being covered in gold ornaments than the original Fur Bikini with Absolute Cleavage.
  • Doctor Robotnik in Sonic the Comic started out with his Japanese design but after a few issues he was reborn as his less attractive, egghead-shaped Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog design. This correlated with him becoming a much crueler character.
  • In the comic book adaptation of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis several characters were homelier most notable with Kerner, the right hand of the main antagonist.
    • Kerner in the game was a very tall, handsome man in his late 20s and had a habit of running his hands through his neatly combed mane of blond hair. Kerner’s vanity played a part in his Karmic Death as when the the god machine turned him into a stable but stunted minotaur-like dwarf note , Kerner chose to commit suicide rather than live as a freak.
    • Kerner in the Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis comic adaptation was a skinny man with thinning grey hair and appeared at least 50. Presumably because the vanity aspect of the character was gone, his final fate was altered so the god machine simply makes him explode.
  • Teen Titans: Year One is a modern retelling of how the original team formed. It changed a few character designs:
    • Speedy is not unattractive at all but the comic makes him a gangly looking teenager, instead of the more mature-looking and muscular mainstream version.
    • The otherwise attractive Aqualad also gains pale skin, dark bags under his eyes, and buck teeth. The intent is less monster man and more how an awkward adolescent would see themselves.
  • The Transformers vs. G.I. Joe incarnation of Serpentor is noticeably more hideous than most incarnations of the character, being depicted with green skin and multiple red eyes.
  • Ultimate Marvel
    • Ultimate Spider-Man: Think Deadpool couldn't get uglier than being a living tumor? Here, they managed to find a way, as its version of Wade has his skull exposed and the top missing, exposing his brain and all of it enclosed in a plastic dome.
    • Ultimate X-Men
      • Pyro can control fire, but unlike the original one, he has no immunity to it and so is Covered in Scars.
      • Not that regular Toad has ever been a looker, but this version is uglier, with green skin, greasy hair, and British Teeth.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Played straight with the Sensational Sisters in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines. In canon, they're naturally beautiful, while in this story they're implied to have used a lot of plastic surgery.
  • Echoes Of Eternity makes Maria Robotnik from Sonic the Hedgehog less cherub cute than she is in canon. This however is used not to make her "ugly" but to emphasise her illness. Maria's described as very pale, scrawny, and underdeveloped for her age (being only 4'3 at 12). It's also mentioned that she's a remarkably average looking child.
  • Godzilla Neo took the Body Horror of the Godzilla of Shin Godzilla and ran with it, as he doesn't just transform from "Kamata-kun" to "Shinigawa-kun", but is depicted as shedding skin and features even more vestigial body parts like smaller arms and more eyes.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Batman, Hush is traditionally shown as a normal-looking man behind his bandages, even with his use of plastic surgery. In Batman: Hush, he has gray, mottled skin, yellow eyes, and no hair as a result of crudely healing himself with a Lazarus Pit.
  • In the 2004 animated series of Dragon Hunters, Gwidzo is presented as charismatic and moderately attractive. The 2008 film adaptation portrays him as grimy and unpleasant, even having him describe himself as "mean and ugly" during a breakdown.
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • In the original The Chronicles of Prydain novels, Fflewddur Fflam the bard is a 30-year-old man who is remarked as handsome, if unkempt. In the Disney Adaptation, Fflam is in his 50s with a potbelly.
    • The original illustrations for The Hundred and One Dalmatians show Cruella De Vil (pictured above) as an elegant yet cold-hearted beauty. The Disney version turns her into a wild-haired harridan with a corpse-like face.
    • Moana: Maui in Polynesian Mythology is described as being a thin, lithe, handsome teenager on the verge of manhood that usually has his hair tied back in a neat topknot or ponytail. The movie portrays him as a massive, muscular adult with a head of thick, wild hair. The creators of the film in fact originally wanted to make him bald, but their Polynesian consultants explained that Maui's hair is one source of his mana (spiritual energy). So the hair stayed. However, his broad, round face, big nose, bigger mouth, heavy brow, sloped forehead, and small, piggish eyes, makes him rather weird-looking.
    • In Charles Perrault's Cinderella the two wicked stepsisters are never said to be ugly, just less beautiful than Cinderella, and the Brothers Grimm's version states "Their faces were beautiful and lily white, but their hearts were ugly and black." The Disney film makes them unattractive, though Anatasia becomes Ugly Cute in the sequels after being given a Heel–Face Turn. Of course the tradition of "the ugly stepsisters" was a standard part of Cinderella adaptations long before Disney and long after.
    • Hercules has quite a few examples, mostly among the Greek Gods; As part of his Adaptational Villainy, Hades is given all the trappings of a Satanic Archetype, with fire, fangs, ash grey skin and bony, knobbly fingers; Hermes is based on his voice actor, Paul Shaffer, who may not necessarily be called "ugly", but is far from the golden-haired Pretty Boy Hermes was said to be in the myths; Ares is portrayed as short, pudgy and bearded whereas his mythical counterpart was a hunky young jock; The Titans are reimagined as elemental monsters when their mythical counterparts were mostly humanlike; and the Fates are conflated with the horrifying Gray Sisters, making them look like inhuman hags with only one eye to share between them as opposed to the admittedly intimidating, normal-eyed old women they were in the original myths. The TV Series both continues this trend somewhat and plays with it—Icarus is depicted as a hyperactive weirdo while Echidna, mythologically a beautiful snake woman, is portrayed as an ugly she-dragon.
  • The Swan Princess: In the original ballet, Rothbart has a beautiful daughter whom he transforms to look like the princess Odette; in the movie, he has an older, ugly Mook who plays this role instead.
  • Justice League: Gods and Monsters did this to Harley Quinn who is usually a very beautiful in the DC Universe, but in the short "Twisted", she has a very deranged appearance and looks Gonkish with weird body proportions. Ironically, this version of her wears a very Stripperiffic costume even more than normal, but the effect is more disturbing than titillating.
  • In The Lord of the Rings Samwise was described as plain and average looking for a Hobbit, however in Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings he is really ugly compared to Frodo, Merry, and Pippin, with his wrinkled face, crooked buck teeth, big nose and chin, lazy eye, and wart on his cheek.
  • In The Mysterious Stranger, Satan is described as a very handsome young man. However, in The Adventures of Mark Twain he is portrayed as some creepy humanoid monster.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Fifty Shades of Grey: In the books, Ana describes Christian Grey as being so smoking hot, and having such a commanding presence, that just being in the same room with him turns her knees to water. Jamie Dornan, who plays him in the film, is certainly not unattractive; however, the way he's styled in the movie - especially the decision to have him clean-shaven - tends to make him look boyish rather than devastatingly sexy.
  • The Red Queen from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010). While she may not have been attractive in the original illustrations, the film version is a literal freak with a grotesquely over-sized head (though played by perfectly lovely actress Helena Bonham-Carter). However, as with many other adaptations, the movie conflates the characters of the Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts, and the Queen of Hearts is depicted with an oversized head in Tenniel's original illustrations.
  • The Bimbettes in Beauty and the Beast (2017). While their animated counterparts were gorgeous buxom blondes, in this version they're regular-looking women with a ton of makeup that makes them look unattractive, to make Emma Watson look more beautiful, and as opposed to being Ms Fanservices, they appear to be an Unwanted Harem to Gaston.
  • In Being There, Chance the gardener is described as looking like a cross between Ted Kennedy (in the early 1970s) and Cary Grant. Peter Sellers played the character in the film and is not generally considered to have a dashing appearance. In addition, Sellers intentionally gained weight for the role because he decided that Chance's "sedentary and solitary" life would have left him overweight.
  • In the novel The Bonfire of the Vanities, Assistant District Attorney Larry Kramer is described as a vain bodybuilder obsessed with his physique. In the film, his name is changed to Jed Kramer, and he's played by the rather schlubby-looking Saul Rubinek.
  • Carrie (1976) - Helen Shyres in the book was a minor character who was part of the Girl Posse and is one of the nominees for Prom Queen, implying her to be pretty. In the film, she is portrayed as a chubby Butt-Monkey of the clique and appears to not have a date for the prom. The 2002 remake casts the pretty Chelan Simmons and restores the Prom Queen nomination.
    • Carrie (2013) sees Portia Doubleday's version of Alpha Bitch Chris with a ratchet spray-tanned Snooki/J-Woww wannabe, compared to Carrie and Sue's more natural beauty.
  • The Commitments: In the book, lead singer Deco was described as handsome (if still obnoxious), but in the film, he's portrayed as a Fat Bastard. His actor Andrew Strong, like the rest of the cast, was chosen only for the musical talent even if he didn’t resemble the description in the book.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
    • Batman Begins has Detective Flass as a sloppy, unkempt, physically unpleasant slob of a corrupt cop. His original comics self from Batman: Year One was just as corrupted if not more, but he also was much taller and muscular, blue-eyed with a blonde well kept haircut.
    • Two-Face was more cartoony-looking in the comics. In The Dark Knight, the scarred side of his face is given much more detail.
    • The Joker has a clean, cartoonish appearance in the comics and some of the other adaptations, but also in The Dark Knight, he gets a dirtier, creepier appearance that gets worse over the course of the film.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Suicide Squad:
      • Subverted with the Enchantress who looks messier and creepier than her comic counterpart — despite wearing a more revealing outfit than her comic counterpart. Then she regains her heart and she looks just as beautiful and seductive as her comic self.
      • Played straight with Incubus, whose host body in the comics was an average-looking human, whereas his cinematic counterpart is a towering demonic creature composed of several bodies.
    • Wonder Woman (2017):
      • Ares is often times depicted as rather handsome. In the movie, he looks like an average middle-aged man.
      • Dr. Poison in the comics was rather beautiful but wore a Gonkish mask to hide her true features. The film version shows a reason for the mask, though, as she has a facial disfigurement that involves a melted nose and skin, and half of a Glasgow Grin.
    • Justice League (2017) sees Steppenwolf sport horns on his chin and his skin resemble scar tissue. While his skin and eye color were Depending on the Artist, the New 52 comics Steppenwolf resembled a normal human.
    • The version of Steppenwolf from Zack Snyder's Justice League is a slight inversion when compared to the above since he's more athletic, although he has horns on his head this time, as well as the same ashen skin color as the rest of the New Gods featured in the film.
  • The titular character of Dracula is not quite as attractive as some adaptations make him out to be, but he looks like an average enough older man. In Nosferatu, Orlok is a creepy, monstrous-looking man with Pointy Ears and long fingers.
  • In the Fletch books, Fletch is a handsome, young, blond, extremely muscular man who can bed any woman he wants. In the movies, he is played by a forty-something Chevy Chase. The novel is a noir potboiler, while the film is a comedy. Chevy Chase's appearance is probably much better suited to a comedic hero.
  • The Flintstones: Barney's slender and beautiful wife Betty from the cartoon is played by plus-sized actress Rosie O'Donnell, chosen because she was able to do Betty's trademark laugh, which is admittedly a difficult vocal tic to pull off.
  • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Kuze is a tall, white-haired cyborg that looks perfectly human except for his non-functioning mouth. In the 2017 film, his face has been split apart and large pieces of his artificial skin have been torn off to expose his mechanical muscles and organs.
  • Legendary Pictures’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) gives this treatment to Mothra. In the original Toho design she’s by the far the cutest of the main Kaiju with big blue eyes and soft fur, she’s less threatening looking than Godzilla and other monsters. Which is emblematic of her role as Big Good and protector of earth and humanity compared to other Kaiju who do nothing but destroy. In the 2019 movie Mothra is much creepier looking with spindly legs and her eyes are slanted to look more aggressive.
  • The real Tommy was 6"2", had long hair and a moustache, was built like a boxer and was described as very good looking. In Goodfellas, he is played by Joe Pesci.
  • In the original novel that inspired The Graduate, the protagonist Ben is described as a handsome, "All American Athlete" WASP type, but is played by Dustin Hoffman in the film — probably to increase Ben's awkwardness and Mrs. Robinson's desperation.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Fleur Delacour is described as being more beautiful than any human woman due to her part-Veela ancestry. In the film version, she is played by Clémence Poésy, who is by no means ugly, but not supernaturally beautiful, and her Veela ancestry never gets mentioned.
    • Madame Maxime is described in the books as being handsome, voluptuous, and relatively young brunette (albeit very tall as she's half giant), which is very different from her movie counterpart.
    • Firenze the centaur is described in the books as having long, blond hair and a handsome face, leading to several female students developing crushes on him when he comes to Hogwarts to teach. In the films, his face looks far more bestial.
    • Professor Gilderoy Lockhart to an extent. While Kenneth Branagh isn't unattractive, Lockhart is supposed to turn student's heads and was in his late 20s during Chamber of Secrets according to the book's timeline while Branagh was in his 40s.
  • In the original book How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, all of the Whos are small creatures with antennae who look rather cute. In the live-action adaptation, all of the background Whos are regular people with prosthetic noses and buck teeth that make them look rather strange and creepy. They're also given ugly and gaudy outfits to match them being portrayed as more greedy and materialistic.
  • There was a lot of complaining by fans of The Hunger Games that both Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) and Sam Claflin (Finnick) are too unattractive for their roles.
  • In the book Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Simon's blackmailer Martin is a far cry from his portrayal as a loser in the film adaptation Love, Simon. In the film, Martin is short, has no fashion sense, and is a friendless kid obsessed with close-up magic. Meanwhile, the original novel has Martin described as tall and likable, more generally funny that the comic relief villain, and Simon even considers him something of a friend and possible candidate for his anonymous lover "Blue."
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In the comics Hank Pym aka Ant-Man is a handsome blonde man and Janet Van Dyne aka The Wasp is a Head-Turning Beauty. In Ant-Man and its sequel Hank and Janet are given a Age Lift into being a older couple played by Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer who are in their 70s and 60s respectively, and while obviously neither are ugly (especially not Pfeiffer) they aren’t in their prime like their comic book counterparts are. Although it’s a case of Ability over Appearance.
    • Flash Thompson, former Jerk Jock bully turned friend of Spider-Man is usually depicted as a tall musclebound stud in the comics and previous film adaptations. In Spider-Man: Homecoming Flash has got a unimposing build and is more of a unathletic loser compared to the sporty Chick Magnet of the comics, this was deliberate on the part in the filmmakers to reflect the cyberbully age.
    • Nebula when she first appeared in the comics was a blue-skinned space babe with luscious black hair. Eventually she lost her hair and got some minor cybernetic upgrade but still remained beautiful, in Guardians of the Galaxy Nebula’s Cyborg aspects are dialled Up to Eleven as she’s lost most of her skin and unlike the comics has Black Eyes of Evil. However due to the success of the films, comic Nebula would adopt her movie design.
    • Proxima Midnight in the comics is similar to Nebula is a blue skinned attractive alien woman who wears a ominous Cool Helmet that always covers most of her head. In Avengers: Infinity War Midnight is much uglier, with her helmet being turned into curving horns, and unlike her adoptive sisters Gamora and Nebula she’s mopcapped with CGI making her look more inhuman.
  • In the original Sherlock Holmes stories, Watson is described as a rather handsome and athletic man and something of a womanizer. The film series of the 1930s and '40snote  had him played by the somewhat pudgy Nigel Bruce, setting a precedent followed by many subsequent adaptations.
  • The Shining:
    • Wendy is described as being conventionally attractive in the book, whereas in the film she's portrayed by Shelley Duvall, who is more waif-like and fragile-looking than her novel counterpart. This was a deliberate choice on Stanley Kubrick's part, as Wendy was supposed to be progressively beaten down over the course of the story, and he felt that casting a more plain-looking actress in the role made it easier to sell that part of the character as the story went on. The Stephen King-overseen TV miniseries cast Rebecca DeMornay, who's somewhat closer to Wendy in the book.
    • Jack is at least reasonably handsome in the books, but is played by Jack Nicholson. Needless to say, he wasn't chosen for being the typical Hollywood stud.
    • Related, both the film and the mini-series have all had actors that were much older than the book's characters, who were in their late 20s. Jack Nicholson was about 43 when he starred in the film, Steven Weber and Rebecca De Mornay from the mini-series were in their late 30s, and only Shelly Duvall at 31 was close in age to her book character, yet is probably the least close in physical appearance.
  • It (1990):
    • In the book Beverly is described as a extremely beautiful redhead. In the Miniseries she’s played by the plainer Annette O'Toole and Emily Perkin who are both brunette, yet the “Your hair is winter fire” line still remains just to add confusion. Averted with the film adaptations where Sophia Lillis and Jessica Chastain are cast as Beverly.
    • Ben as an adult is described as skinny and incredibly handsome which is a great change from the obesity of his youth. In the Miniseries he’s played by John Ritter who's ironically just as stocky as Brandon Crane who plays Ben as a kid. Averted in It: Chapter Two Ben is played by the handsome and muscly Jay Ryan who’s more in line with the book’s description.
  • True Story: Based on a True Story about the Odd Friendship between a disgraced, globe-trotting New York Times journalist and The Sociopath who pretended to be him while he was hiding out in Mexico after killing his wife and three young children. The real-life pair are both fit white guys in their thirties who do look rather alike; in the film the sociopath is played by James Franco while the journalist is played by Jonah Hill.
  • Ozymandias from Watchmen. He's supposed to be the model of western perfection: blonde, square-jawed and athletic. In the film, he's lanky and has a thin face — not that this affects his physical prowess.
  • Eddie Valiant in Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, a parody of a pulp hero, has his attractiveness remarked on by several characters, but in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, he's played by heavy-set, middle-aged, balding actor Bob Hoskins, who plays him as a Stealth Parody of a noir hero. The comic adaptation of the film returned him to a strikingly handsome young man.
  • While never conventionally attractive, The Penguin usually is more cartoonish than downright ugly, a simply short and pudgy balding man with a big nose. Batman Returns turned him into a grotesque, pale, bloated, and inhuman-looking sewer-dwelling little monster man.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • Downplayed with Ian McKellen's Magneto. While not ugly by any means, he's considerably older than the character in the comics and much less physically imposing. While Magneto was buff and chiseled in the comics, in the original trilogy, his white hair is the result of him being seventy-something years old. Justified, since the movies don't have the comics' sliding timescale or the multiple instances of him being de-aged and re-aged, so he had to be a realistic age for a Holocaust survivor. This gets rectified when you see Michael Fassbender's Erik Lehnsherr in X-Men: First Class, where his younger self is conventionally handsome.
    • Also downplayed with Rogue, in the comics thanks to getting Progressively Prettier she’s a stunning beautiful woman and major Ms. Fanservice. In the films she’s played by the comparatively homely Anna Paquin and dresses modestly, although after the movie X-Men: Evolution would feature a less striking Rogue akin to the film version.
    • Mystique in the comics is a Cute Monster Girl who just happens to have blue skin. Animated versions of her drew her very appealingly too. The live-action films show that her blue form is quite scaly and more alien in appearance, complete with facial markings. In the prequel films, she prefers to take on a 'normal' human form that is more conventionally attractive.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • In the film, the Goombas are Tiny-Headed Behemoths and definitely not as cute as their videogame counterparts.
    • Mario is a chubby guy with a mustache but isn't unattractive. While not exactly ugly, his middle-aged portrayal in the film counts.
  • Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li: Vega (Claw), a narcissistic, Bishōnen who values beauty in the Street Fighter video games, is just a generic ninja-like assassin portrayed by the plain-looking Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas in this incarnation. In the games, Vega wears his trademark White Mask of Doom to prevent his face from being damaged in combat (rather than to conceal his identity), but here Chun-Li comments "no wonder you wear a mask" when she knocks it off.
  • While Firelord Ozai is quite handsome in the Avatar: The Last Airbender series, he’s pretty average looking in the film adaptation.
  • The Social Network: Divya Narendra. Aside from the Race Lift, the actor who played him doesn't have anything near his chiseled features in real life.
  • In Manhunter, rather than the serial killer of the book who believes he is ugly (due to a birth defect tied in with his traumatic childhood that has since been reduced to a small surgical scar) who is presently oblivious to how women at his workplace actually consider him attractive, Francis Dollarhyde is played onscreen as distinctly older-looking, bald on top with drawn, sunken features.
  • In Hellboy (2019), while he's still built like a tank, this version of the title character is less classically handsome than the comics' version, lacking Puppy-Dog Eyes and looking somewhat harsher, scruffier and more slovenly overall, with messier hair, hairier body, a heavier brow, larger teeth, and ragged horn stumps.
  • While Leo Gregory is much skinnier than Brian Jones, who had a beer gut by the time the events of Stoned transpire, Jones still had a rather cherubic face in comparison to the rather average-looking Gregory.
  • The wickedly beautiful and vain Opal Koboi from the Artemis Fowl books, in the film adaptation becomes a hideous shadowy creature with a guttural, rasping voice — what minor glimpses we get of the face hidden beneath her cowl are decidedly unpleasant.
  • The Hammer film The Devil Rides Out does this with Marie Eaton. The character of Marie Eaton in the original novel is a young, glamorous Russian emigre, while in the movie she's a conventionally attractive middle-aged Englishwoman. The villain Mocata is a straight example, going from rather weird-looking and overweight, to being played by Charles Gray.

  • Doctor Who Novelisations: The book adaptation of "Invasion of the Dinosaurs" gives Butler (played by an unblemished Martin Jarvis on TV) a disfiguring facial scar for the purpose of a scene which called for the Doctor to observe him setting a bomb—the audience had to know the character was Butler, but the Doctor hadn't met him yet and didn't know who he was. Giving him a scar gave him something striking that the Doctor could describe him by.
  • The Once and Future King: Lancelot is generally depicted as handsome in Arthurian legends and almost all adaptations, including the author's source material, but in the book he's emphatically described as having an ugly, "ape-like" face.
  • The Kalevala describes Kullervo as handsome and well-dressed (the latter is odd for a man who spends most of his life in slavery or in the wilderness). In The Story of Kullervo, J. R. R. Tolkien made him horrendously ugly to reflect his inner bitterness and rage – he is so hideous that his Incorruptible Pure Pureness of a long-lost sister rejects him initially because of that.
  • In Upright Magic the Wicked Witch is played by young and good-looking Elena Sanayeva. In the book based on the film, she is an ugly hag.
  • In The Troy Saga, Helen is described by those who interact with her as a rather kind-hearted but plain looking women, though she has a nice smile. Her being described as the most beautiful woman in the world only starts to happen after her Dying Moment of Awesome.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Flash (2014), Savitar's comics counterpart was a Walking Shirtless Scene covered in muscles. This Savitar spends most of his time wrapped in armor, and he's later shown to have chemical burns on his face and a discolored eye. This trope also applies once "Savitar" is revealed to actually be the Future Flash, who in the comics had an ethereal and noble appearance due to the blue light radiating from his body. Here, he's a grimy, slight figure with the aforementioned facial damage.
  • Downplayed as its more From Bad to Worse in Tales from the Crypt. The comic version of the Crypt Keeper, while hideous, resembled a living human, with his undead nature only hinted at. In the live-action series and later adaptations, the Crypt Keeper was obviously a living corpse whose rotting flesh and exposed bones made his undead nature obvious.
  • The Klingons in Star Trek: Discovery. While the Klingons have already been evolved into Rubber-Forehead Aliens from the original series (where they were just normal actors who had their faces painted brown), they still look humanoid. In Discovery the Klingons are designed to look more hideous, bald and reptilian with Xenomorph-esque elongated heads. After some grumbling from fans, Season 2 redesigned one Klingon L’Rell to look more like TNG’s female Klingons.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The entire Greyjoy clan seems to have gotten this, sans Aeron. The Greyjoys are considered handsome and attractive in the books. Here they are all much more plain-looking - even Yara and Euron, who aren't exactly unpleasant on the eyes here, don't stack up to their original counterparts. Euron even says that his family are unattractive people.
      • Theon Greyjoy (before his torture by Ramsay and becoming "Reek"). In the books, Theon is tall, dark-haired and attractive, and a famed ladykiller. In the show, he's a ratty guy who has to pay for sex.
      • Theon's uncle Euron is a creep, but still a handsome man in the books, his eyes being the only thing that keeps him from being incredibly attractive, giving him an intimidating, almost ethereal appearance. In the show, he's an unassuming-looking man, though very obviously insane, who certainly doesn't resemble the Evil Overlord of the books.
      • Balon is much more decrepit than in the books.
      • While Asha was described as having "famous beauty" despite her boyish looks, Yara — while not unattractive, especially during her softer and friendlier moments — is plainer, with harder features.
    • The White Walkers are eerily beautiful ice-themed versions of The Fair Folk in the books but Humanoid Abominations that resemble frozen corpses in the show.
    • Renly is a good-looking guy but is not the Adonis described in the book.
    • Cersei is described word-for-word as being the World's Most Beautiful Woman in the books. Lena Headey is attractive, mind you, but not to that degree, though the show does give her the Adaptational Curves of a 27-year-old body double during her public shaming, whereas the books describe her figure as declining from age and pregnancy, and also imply bloating from alcoholism.
    • The Faith Militant undergo this with their Obviously Evil facial scars, which are an exaggeration of the Poor Fellows (in the books, a single member has a Carved Mark on his chest, the rest are only This Means Warpaint) with none of the appeal of the rainbow cloaks, silvery armour, and crystal-pommelled swords of the Warrior's Sons.
    • The actor playing Mace is far less aesthetically pleasing than his book counterpart, who is described as being fat, but still good-looking enough that one can easily see that he used to be a Hunk in his youth. When the casting news was announced, some fans had a hard time believing that this unattractive Mace could be the father of the TV versions of Margaery and Loras. HBO's Mace is also balding, while book!Mace has a head full of hair.
    • Catelyn Stark is revered as quite lovely in the books, enough to turn heads. This is more of a case of Adaptational Homeliness, though, as Michelle Fairley is by no means an unattractive woman, but she's about ten years older than her book counterpart. When Littlefinger, who is very in love with her, is asked by Ros if she's beautiful, Littlefinger's response is "No, not really. Impeccable bloodlines, though."
    • Joffrey is described as being beautiful with flowing blond locks and sparkling green eyes in the books but is played by the fairly average Jack Gleeson.
    • The late Prince Rhaegar Targaryen is described as an incredibly handsome man, even more beautiful than Jaime. When we see him in a flashback, he's pretty average looking.
  • Greek mythology describes the huntress Atalanta as a gorgeous muscular blonde with endless suitors. However in Hallmark's Jason and the Argonauts she is portrayed as a plain Tomboy — so much so that Jason refers to their relationship as a brotherly one (he clearly thinks of her as a man rather than a woman). Though despite this, Atalanta does attract one man.
  • In the novel 'Salem's Lot, the vampire Kurt Barlow is perfectly capable of passing himself off as a normal human, and is possibly even handsome. In the iconic 1979 mini-series, he's instead depicted as a grotesque Count Orlok lookalike, and is seemingly incapable of human speech. Averted in the 2004 remake, where he once again looks human.
  • Supergirl (2015): Miss Martian in the comics and adaptations tends to be a cute Green-Skinned Space Babe with red hair. In the tv show, her Green Martian form is bald and looks just like Martian Manhunter, except female.
  • The Witcher
    • King Foltest is explicitly described as handsome in the books. In the Netflix series he’s played by Shaun Dooley who’s plainer, middle-aged and overweight. Given Foltest‘s secret incestuous behaviour and incompetence this may have been a deliberate casting choice.
    • Downplayed with Triss Merigold, her actress Anna Shaffer is pretty attractive but in the books Triss is described as stunningly beautiful to the point of being considered a contender for World's Most Beautiful Woman in the games. The show’s Triss also lacks her book counterpart’s distinctive chestnut-red hair is instead brunette.
  • Bacchus in Xena: Warrior Princess is a rather exaggerated example. He is frequently depicted in media as either an effeminate Pretty Boy or a fat middle-aged man. The TV shows ditches both representations and has him depicted as a fearsome-looking demonic being with red skin, sharp fangs and curved horns. Quite the departure indeed.
  • Vanya Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy. Not that Elliot Page is ugly by any stretch of the word but in the comics she’s conveniently attractive even in her One-Winged Angel form while in the show she’s done up to look homely and frumpy. This could be seen a pragmatic choice given Vanya is supposed to introverted and has a inferiority complex concerning her beautiful sister Allison.
  • Gotham sees a Surprisingly Realistic Outcome when it comes to the Joker's traditional origin of falling into a vat of chemcials as Jeremiah Valeska is covered in chemical burns and the damage resulted in much of his hair being seared off save for some patches.
  • The comic book The Bogie Man was about a Glaswegian who looked exactly like Humphrey Bogart, having weird misadventures based on intepreting everything as if it were a Bogart movie. The TV adaptation keeps the delusions, but instead the comedy comes from the fact the character is an overweight man who looks nothing like Humphrey Bogart.

    Video Games 
  • Age of Mythology:
    • Atalanta is shown dressed much more conservatively than in classical depictions (where she was usually dressed in skimpy hunting dresses and bikinis).
    • A few of the gods (notably Ares and Dionysus) who were traditionally youthful and handsome in the myths inexplicably appear old and grey in the game.
  • Dante's Inferno: Cleopatra VII is traditionally given a Historical Beauty Update in several fictional works and there's no indication in The Divine Comedy she looks like anything but a normal woman. In this game, however, she looks like a Cenobite straight out of Hellraiser, with her face heavily mutilated and her exposed breasts exporting tongues.
  • Resident Evil:
  • Dante from the Devil May Cry series gets this in the Ninja Theory’s reboot DmC: Devil May Cry especially in the initial reveal trailer where the muscular white haired Pretty Boy of the previous games is turned into a skinny dark haired punk who looks a drug addict. In the game proper “Donte” is given his musculature and even his white hair back, but he’s still less attractive than his Japanese version.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Kefka in Final Fantasy VI was never exactly portrayed as attractive, but his appearance in the FMV sections in the VI PSX port depicted him as a fairly unassuming-looking man in his 30s, underneath the Uncanny Valley Makeup. In Dissidia Final Fantasy, his appearance is so caricatured that it borders on Non-Standard Character Design compared to the portrayal of everyone else, and his features are much harsher and more Ambiguously Human. The NT reboot goes back to a prettier Kefka that, under the makeup, resembles David Bowie.
    • The incarnation of Prompto that was set to appear in Final Fantasy XIII Versus was taller, more muscular, and had longer hair and a more conventionally beautiful face. He was also depicted with cocky, smouldery poses and facial expressions, leading to Fanon to imagine him as an arrogant Deadpan Snarker and Yandere. The version of Prompto that appears in Final Fantasy XV has been redesigned to have a somewhat awkward look, with crooked teeth and a distinctive face shape, suiting his actual characterisation as an excitable young man with bags of enthusiasm and no attention span. He's certainly still attractive, but as a cute, boyish type rather than as a classic Pretty Boy.
    • Final Fantasy VII Remake makes the characters less attractive than in the extremely pretty Compilation designs, but to bring them more in line with what the characters were originally conceived to be like:
      • Cloud, who is described in the original game as attractive but intimidating, is still pretty, but his face is more striking and bony, his often-described Creepy Blue Eyes actually do have a creepy glow, his body is skinny and covered in lumpy, veiny lean muscle rather than the Heroic Build look of Advent Children, and he overall looks stressed out, with prominent eye bags and a sweaty look to his skin. Both Yoshinori Kitase and Kazushige Nojima said in interviews that they were amazed by how well the new look fitted their perceptions of him.note 
      • Barret, compared to his hunky Advent Children look, has more prominent and disfiguring facial scars, harder facial features, and veinier musculature.
      • Aerith has gone from being a haunting and ethereal presence to a gorgeous but girl-next-door type woman.
      • Reno keeps his handsome face from Advent Children rather than the 'ratface' look from the original but is back to being a sly, threatening presence rather than cute.
      • Sephiroth is still handsome but legitimately monstrous, with a much more creepy and heavy-set appearance, with a mad stare, Hellish Pupils, oily hair, and prominent sneering red lips. He even has an outright sinister Slasher Smile at certain points compared to the subtle Psychotic Smirk of his previous portrayals.
      • While Hojo in the previous games simply looked plain and middle-aged at best, the Hojo in this game has a far dirtier and unkempt look.
      • JENOVA in the the original is a disembodied torso and head of an attractive naked woman. In the remake JENOVA is covered in a grungy rock-like texture making it look far more monstrous.
  • Most characters in FusionFall received a design upgrade, but several had a downgrade:
    • Finn from Adventure Time (who has actually become a teen version of Mr. Fanservice, even with the art style of the series) isn't depicted as animesque like most of the others. He looks at minimum plain and at maximum creepy.
    • Eddy from Ed, Edd n Eddy is a straight-up gonk instead of just being a short, chubby boy with a tan. Edd and Ed also look odd due to their art-styles.
  • JumpStart Adventures 3rd Grade: Mystery Mountain. In-game, Botley looks cute and friendly. On the box art and the disc art for the 2001-and-later re-releases of this game, his appearance is thicker, more angular, and downright scary-looking.
  • In the Shin Megami Tensei games, the Hindu goddess Kali is portrayed as a wizened old woman, albeit one with six arms each wielding a vicious scimitar. Most real-life iconography depicts her as quite shapely, albeit terrifying.
  • Odin Sphere: In the game, Melvin has the appearance of a Long-Haired Pretty Boy. However, the manga adaptation Little Fairy Queen gives him a more craven look with a hook nose, making him appear more Obviously Evil.
  • In the PETA Take That! of Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 named Pokémon Black and Blue, the Long-Haired Pretty Boy Cheren and Hot Scientist Professor Juniper are both ragged and dirty.
  • In The Battle of Olympus, Circe looks identical to as the generic "old woman" sprites in the game, rather than the youthful, seductive goddess of The Odyssey. The game also turns her from a dangerous vamp who only helped Odysseus after he defeated her with more powerful magic of his own into a straight-up helpful character.
  • Spyro the Dragon is definitely less cute in Skylanders than in his own series.
    • In a more intentional example, Gnasty Gnorc, the villain of the first game, was made far uglier in the remake, Spyro Reignited Trilogy. While the original PS1 graphics didn't allow for much in the way of details, Reignited gives him visible warts, virtually no neck, and an odd number of oversized canines from a notable underbite. Justifed; the local dragons comment on how ugly he is, and this insult is what drives him far enough to turn them all to crystal.
  • God of War II: Clotho, one of the Sisters of Fate was said to be very beautiful in Greek myths as befitting the "maiden" sister, but in the game, she is a massive, disgusting and obese slug-like monster with too many breasts.
    • Clotho's not the only one: Gaia looks like a Rock Monster, as opposed to the Big Beautiful Woman she was depicted as in Greek artwork. Cronos doesn't even look human, compared to his wife Rhea and son Zeus. Icarus is a skinny, bedraggled old man, as opposed to a handsome youth.
    • God of War III takes this even further. Hades looks like a massive red-skinned zombie with metal spikes sticking out of his skin. Hera looks like a sour, middle-aged alcoholic (and acts like one, too), and Hercules is basically The Incredible Hulk, except with normal skin and visible scars.
    • Taken to extremes with Castor and Pollux in God of War: Ascension. They're supposed to be a pair of handsome twins in Greek myths, but here, Castor is a Lean and Mean old man, and Pollux is his bald, ugly, malformed conjoined twin. Castor does at least look a lot better when he uses the Uroboros Amulet, but Pollux is as ugly as before.
    • Not even Norse gods are immune to this in God of War (PS4). The Stranger is by no means ugly, being based in appearance on Jeremy Davies, but he's a skinny barbarian with untidy hair and beard, and he's supposed to be the unbelievably beautiful Baldur.
  • Hades while Truer to the Text than the aforementioned God of War still does this to few deities and Greek figures.
    • Hades as depicted in ancient Greek art and statues is a well built man with a beard. In the game he’s the size of The Hulk and is just as brutish leaving little doubt that his son Zagreus got his good looks from his mother Persephone.
    • Demeter while no Aphrodite, is still depicted as being very beautiful in Greek art. In the game however she’s wrinkled austere old woman. Her appearance also fits her behaviour in the game as she’s turned Greece into a winter wasteland due to her daughter Persephone leaving her.
    • Orpheus is most often depicted as a healthy looking handsome man in paintings, in the game he looks like The Crow with an afro. Easily justified though given he’s found himself in the Underworld against his will and was locked in solitary confinement by Hades for refusing to sing, which can’t be good for anyone’s health. Also his wife Eurydice has gone from a beautiful nymph to a oak nymph with bark for skin, although she can still be seen as attractive in a Cute Monster Girl way.
  • Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town: While not exactly ugly, Carter's redesign is less youthful and attractive compared to his original design in Harvest Moon: Back to Nature. He's a homely, sweet-looking pastor instead of a Bishōnen Sexy Priest.
  • Gotham Knights gives Red Hood half of a Glasgow Grin.
  • Yakuza 4: Tanimura got hit with this between the original and the remastered version. While the remastered Tanimura is not ugly by any means, he definitely looks older and more rugged than the "teenage Bishōnen"-version from the original.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • An in-universe example with the Ember Island Players in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Actor Sokka is scrawnier than the real Sokka and has buckteeth, Actress Katara is much curvier and less attractive than the real Katara, Aang's actor is a woman, and so on and so forth. This also happens with Toph's actor, a huge burly man who uses a roaring shout to find his way around, but she loves this all the more.
  • The Batman
    • The massively overweight and balding Cluemaster is a far cry from the fit, head of hair-sporting Arthur Brown from the comics.
    • This incarnation of The Joker is given a new look drastically different than any pre-Ledger Joker. He has wild, dreadlock-style hair, red eyes with yellow pupils, and giant jagged yellow teeth that slot together. He also wore a tie-dyed straightjacket and went barefoot before switching to a purple suit and spats (but still no shoes).
    • While The Penguin in the comics never was an attractive man, he never was anywhere as grotesque as the Penguin seen in Batman Returns or even The Batman. Batman: The Animated Series at first gave him a somewhat less ugly version of the Tim Burton look, before returning to a more human-looking comics-inspired appearance for The New Batman Adventures.
    • While Bane has never been what you'd call attractive (aside from perhaps his unmasked self in Batman: The Animated Series) but in The Batman, he looks disturbingly inhuman, especially when pumped-up on Venom, as it causes his skin to turn red, his eyes yellow and pupil-less and he has the same teeth as Joker, only white.
  • Ben 10: Gwen in the Ben 10 (2016) reboot looks considerably more homely than she did in the original, helped by the Art Shift from animesque to cartoony. She's an average looking ten-year-old girl with Youthful Freckles.
  • In the Darkstalkers cartoon, Morrigan is seen as less beautiful then her original video game counterpart.
  • In DuckTales (1987) as well as the Scrooge Mcduck comics by Carl Barks, Scrooge's Evil Counterpart Flintheart Glomgold is just as trim and fit as his Arch-Enemy. In DuckTales (2017), Flintheart is dumpy in appearance and nowhere near as athletic as Scrooge.
    • Similarly, this is applied to Bushroot. Originally, this plant-duck hybrid was still a villain, but he had significantly brighter colors and a far more kid-friendly demeanor. The version seen in "Let's Get Dangerous!" has a far duller color pallet, and looks more akin to an undead zombie.
  • The Shade is much older and uglier in Justice League than he is in the comics.
  • Downplayed example with Lola Bunny in The Looney Tunes Show. Despite her Girliness Upgrade, Lola's seductiveness and Ms. Fanservice traits from Space Jam are removed in this show, although she's still cute in a non-sexual way in order to match her kooky adorkable personality.
  • Eggman in Sonic the Hedgehog is round and cartoony looking. He's not attractive but he has an Ugly Cute look to him. Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) and Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog is a gonk.
  • The Super Mario Bros Super Show!:
    • Peach is still pretty, but not to the length of the games. She also looks younger than her mid-twenties game incarnation.
    • Bowser is Ugly Cute in the games with a headful of hair; however, he isn't remotely attractive in the cartoon where he lacks the hair and resembles a crocodile.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) sees its version of the Shredder sport massive burn scars under his helmet, something past Shredders didn't have.
  • Speaking of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles depicts Master Splinter as short and fat with a scrunched-up face. The writers stated that they were basing him on Danny DeVito. He was a lot more attractive as a human.
  • Dick Grayson is usually the Mr. Fanservice of the DC universe, both in-universe and amongst fans. Even as a teenager he was pretty cute for his age. In Teen Titans Go!, no one seems to find Robin physically attractive—at least not anywhere near enough to overlook his high-strung, overbearing personality. Whereas most versions of Dick Grayson and Starfire have a mutual attaction, the Go! version is her Hopeless Suitor at best if not an Abhorrent Admirer.
  • Young Justice: Miss Martian's true form in the comics was a muscular, but goblin-like Rubber-Forehead Alien. The show's version is an even more monstrous Humanoid Alien with an emaciated figure, spindly limbs, and exposed musculature. Granted, how White Martians in general looked in the comic varied tremendously, with some designs being even stranger.
  • Frank in the original film, Osmosis Jones played by Bill Murray isn't exactly a stud, lazy, slovenly and doughy around the middle, but in his brief appearance at the beginning of Ozzy & Drix, he looked like an obese Neanderthal. It also appears that the lesson he had learned about taking better care of himself at the end of the film had gone out the window.


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