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Vanity, like fashion, is a harsh mistress. Beauty fades with time after all, but then there are times that it's taken away before time even has a chance to. Whether because of an accident, curse or illness this character loses their extreme good looks and becomes ugly as sin.

Which is rather appropriate, considering that since Beauty Equals Goodness most characters who suffer this will do a Face–Heel Turn, or if already a villain constitutes a Freudian Excuse for even worse villainy to "get back at the world" that did this to them/mocks them. Of course if this happens to a Jerk Jock or an Alpha Bitch - or simply a physically attractive Butt-Monkey - it may all be played for comedy and be undone by episode's end.

This is named for the fable of "Beauty and the Beast", and since then this trope is closely associated with the Aesop of the vain losing their beauty for boasting of it, and only getting it back if they become humble.

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Often leads to a "My face! My beautiful face!" moment, should the villain be a large enough ham. Expect them to go and break every mirror they come across.

Compare the more extensive and Laser-Guided Karma related Karmic Transformation, or even more generally, Baleful Polymorph. See also Broken Angel, What Have I Become? and Emergency Transformation. Contrast Gorgeous Gorgon. Very likely to happen to the Vain Sorceress, since it's her worst fear. If this is self-inflicted, then it's Tarnishing Their Own Beauty.

Also related to I Just Want to Be Beautiful as the most likely reaction to losing beauty. See also Power-Upgrading Deformation for a silver lining to this fall from grace.


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Examples:

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     Anime & Manga 
  • In Berserk, Griffith's good looks are absolutely ruined by torture, and this, along with the other horrors he suffered during that hellish year would lead to him betraying the Hawks he once led in a truly malignant Face–Heel Turn to become the fifth member of the God Hand.
  • In Devilman: The Birth when the demon spirits start entering people’s bodies after Ryo spills their blood, among them we see two attractive women turn into ugly demons.
  • Glass Mask. The reclusive actress Tsukikage Chigusa was forced into early retirement when a lamp lighter fell during a stage accident and burned half of her face off. When she's shown in the series as an old woman after her accident, her face is always half-covered by her hair, thus ensuring that the audience never actually sees her scars every episode.
  • In an episode of the rather obscure anime Saban's Adventures of the Little Mermaid, the sea witch Hedwig got ahold of a bottle of the potion that Prince Justin regularly used to allow him to breathe underwater, adding a drop of another potion that also changed him into a monster after he drank it. Appropriately, the episode was entitled "Beauty and the Beast". His true love, Marina (the "little mermaid" of the title) later kissed him to change him back.
  • In Claymore, the Claymore warriors definetly seem pretty, but let's not forget the whole Awakening thing.
    • Nor the fact that the incisions necessary to infuse Youma flesh into human bodies to make Claymores leave scars bad enough (not shown for quite a while in the manga, never in the anime) that, in her back story, Teresa used them to eliminate any ideas a gang of bandits had about raping her. They don't look bad for the first few seconds, until you realize that there is a deep and permanent incision where guts and blood can spill out, that starts at her chest and connects to her vagina.
  • Assassination Classroom: As revealed in his backstory, Koro-Sensei was quite the Bishōnen. Dangerous antimatter experiments ended up turning him into the cartoonish octopus creature he is today.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Harvey Dent's transformation into Two-Face.
  • Fantastic Four has both Ben Grimm and Doctor Doom.
    • Some versions play this trope straight with Doom, others have him as only suffering a small scar (which he considers horrible because he's such a narcissist). Yet other versions expand on the small scar by having Doom make it worse in an attempt to cover the scar. Still other versions suggest that the physical aspects of the small scar didn't bother him in the least, and that he was instead tormented by the fact that the scar was received at the hands of Satan analogue Mephisto, who filled Doom's head with the sound of his tortured mother's screams at night via said scar, and making him actually horribly burn his face on purpose later (see below), just so he didn't have to hear it anymore. A completely ruined face was a fair exchange for peace of mind. When Doom's mask was created for him, he pressed it to his face while it was still scorching hot from the forge fire. Needless to say, if Doom's face hadn't been badly scarred before, it certainly was after that.
    • Sharon Ventura, the second Ms Marvel, got hit by this twice: the first time by accident, the second as Doctor Doom's revenge for her betrayal.
  • Iron Man: Tony Stark, after being badly injured by his own land mine in Vietghanistan. His chest was torn open by the shrapnel badly enough that some of it lodged in his heart — obviously, damage that severe scarred his chest badly. He gained another scar (though a far less noticeable one) after his open-heart surgery later in the comics. Whether or not Marvel's artists would actually acknowledge the scars that would come from such physical trauma seemed to change depending on who was drawing the run at the time.
  • Watchmen: Although already pretty much a Psycho for Hire, when the Comedian's face is slashed open in a bar during the war in Vietnam by a pregnant Vietnamese woman, he reacts by pulling out a gun and shooting her in her very visibly-swollen belly. And the child she was carrying? Was his. The gash on his face, made with a broken glass bottle, scarred horribly.
  • One of the Punisher's Rogues Gallery is a prime example. Billy Russo was originally nicknamed "The Beaut", but after the Punisher introduced him face-first to a glass pane, he now goes by the name Jigsaw. Granted Russo was already a murderous mobster when the Punisher met him, but as Jigsaw he's gone completely Ax-Crazy.
  • In the Elseworlds story Justice, Wonder Woman is scratched by claws laced with a poison which scars her face. In short time, the scar begins to grow and disfigure her as it returns her back to the mound of clay she was made from. By the end of the story, she has little to no hair left on her head, and her entire skin looks like charcoal and burning embers.
  • Superman: In the story "The Lady and the Lion", Superman rebuffs Circe, who doses him with a serum that turns him into a humanoid lion. Supes spends the entire story angsting about it, despite the efforts of his friends at the Planet to cheer him up.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 2: The White Magician and turns himself and his horrified ally Cassie Arnold into hideous monsters in his quest to destroy Wonder Woman. He does not succeed, though he does kill her friend Artemis and manages to disgust Circe enough that the witch actually helps Diana take him down.

    Comic Strip 
  • Dick Tracy: Tulza Tuzon used to be movie star handsome. In 1943, he was working as a commercial truck driver. On one trip, he was transporting dangerous chemicals when the truck crashed. Tuzon was knocked unconscious and left with half of his face submerged in the chemicals. By the time he was treated, the left side of his face was severely damaged, and his hair had been blanched. He first became a circus freak, and then a criminal under the name Haf-and-Haf.

    Fan Works 

    Film 
  • Erik (Claude Rains) in Phantom of the Opera (1943) had him starting out looking normal and then disfigured afterward, in that case by a vitriol-throwing — probably that plot-device came by way of Mystery of the Wax Museum (1935 — remade in The '50s as House of Wax (1953) (which is probably another example)). Other adaptations of the novel that disfigure their Erik-equivalents include the 1962 film, Phantom of the Paradise, a 1983 TV movie, and the 1989 film, but in the book and other adaptations he's deformed from birth.
  • This is the fate of the Alpha Bitches Bridget and Heather in The Final, after the villains torture them by smearing flesh-eating chemicals on their faces. It's revealed at the end that Bridget was the disfigured girl seen in the restaurant in the opening, hiding her appearance behind her hair and a hoodie.
  • "Baby" Jane Hudson in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? She freaks out when she happens to glance in the mirror when she's reliving her child star career and sees her ravaged, sagging, horribly made-up face staring back at her.
  • In Oz the Great and Powerful:
    • The beautiful Theodora is manipulated by Evanora into eating a cursed apple, crushing her love and compassion and turning her into the future Wicked Witch of the West.
    • The equally beautiful Evanora becomes a hideous hag after Glinda destroys her magical necklace.
  • Cleopatra in Freaks. It's very much a Karmic Transformation.
  • In The Hunger (and the novel it was based on), a human who is turned by vampire Miriam will maintain their good looks for several centuries, so long as he/she feeds once a week. What happens when those centuries are up? Rapid Aging, as her current lover John learns. John is played by David Bowie, and the scenes that document his aging, aging, aging into decrepit hideousness are regarded as a triumph of special effects makeup work even today.
  • In Deadpool (2016), Wade Wilson was played by an appealingly muscular Ryan Reynolds. After he contracted terminal cancer, volunteered for an experimental program as a last-ditch attempt to cure it, and was subjected to horrifying mad science torture in an attempt to give him superpowers, Wade lost his boyish good looks and most of his sanity, becoming a bald, Covered with Scars Cloud Cuckoolander.
  • When Evil Calls:
  • Revenge of the Sith: The handsome Darth Vader ends up getting hideously burnt to a crisp on the lava-planet Mustafar, which results in him having to wear his trademark black armored life-support suit for the rest of his life.
  • In The Grudge 2 series, the popular school beauties of the International High School, Vanessa and Miyuki, are transformed into horrifying ghosts by the Grudge curse. Vanessa also loses her beauty while she is still alive.
  • Laura in Friend Request is the most gorgeous and popular girl in her school, but the spirit of a tormented classmate gradually deprives her of her looks, leaving her disfigured and ugly.
  • In Blood Red Sky, it's shown in flashbacks that Nadja was a fairly attractive woman when she was human. Then she got bitten by a vampire, and in the universe of this film, vampires Look Like Orlok. By the start of the film, her infection has already caused her hair to fall out, forcing her to wear a wig. Her transformation speeds up considerably after she gets shot and then loses access to the medicine that stalls her infection, and by the end, the other passengers aboard the plane are reacting to her with horror as she turns increasingly inhuman.

    Literature 
  • In the Harry Potter series, the stylishly handsome Bill Weasley has his face clawed by a werewolf, leaving permanent extensive scars. Once his family learns that his personality will be intact, they secretly hope that his ruined looks will drive off his fiancée Fleur, whom everyone but Bill can't stand. Upon hearing a suggestion of doing this from Molly Weasley, Fleur denies that the thought even crossed her mind, declaring that she is more than pretty enough for the both of them. After this, the Weasley family starts to warm up to her.
    • Voldemort was originally very good-looking, but his dark magic and his curse backfiring on him when he tried to kill Harry Potter corrupted him into a snakelike creature. This doesn't seem to bother him since he just wants to live forever anyway.
  • In the book of The Princess Bride, the first part of "Chapter One: the Bride" is about the most beautiful women in the world, and how they all lost their looks. (One lost her figure to chocolate; one survived smallpox, even if her skin did not; and one worried so much about whether she was "perfect" that she prematurely aged herself.)
    • "To the pain" is an example as well; it disfigures someone's body and face, leaving them with their ears perfectly intact ears to hear how repulsed everyone is with them. Westley threatens to do this to Humperdinck, though it never happens.
  • In the modern "Beauty and the Beast" adaptation Beastly, the Jerk Jock is cursed by a witch to become a beast because he's so shallow and self-centered that all anyone likes him for are his looks.
  • In The Case of Lady Sannox by Arthur Conan Doyle, the titular Lady Sannox is the most beautiful woman in London and having an affair with Douglas Stone, a greedy and unscrupulous surgeon. Stone is tricked into cutting off her lip by her vengeful husband, and her beauty is destroyed. Lady Sannox spends the rest of her life as a hideous recluse.
  • In one of Jack Vance's Dying Earth stories, a beautiful witch curses her victim by giving him the hideous face of a demon. At the end of the story, he regains his rightful appearance, and she... well, guess.
  • In Dangerous Liaisons, Marquise de Merteuil ends the book being cast out from high society and afterwards losing her considerable beauty to smallpox. Several of the film adaptations of the book leave this trope out.
  • In Duckling Ugly, Cara uses her powers gained from her stay in De Leon to change the beautiful-but-brainless Alpha Bitch Marisol into a grotesque monstrosity.
    "M...O...N...S...T...E...R!"
  • In Stuart McBride's Halfhead, beautiful Serial Killer Fiona Westfield was subjected to the titular state-designated punishment, going from a deceptively young and innocent-looking blonde to a shaven-headed, lobotomized wreck with no breasts, no orifices, no lips, no cheeks, no tongue, and no lower jaw. When she recovers her mind six years after the lobotomy, she immediately begins using Applied Phlebotinum to get her looks- and her ability to manipulate children into killing- back.
  • In The Hunger Games, Glimmer is the stunningly beautiful tribute from District 1. Her beauty is destroyed and her face is horribly disfigured by trackerjack stings.
  • In The First Law, Glokta is this with a side of Being Tortured Makes You Evil (for a given value of evil; as this series goes, he's one of the least bad guys). He was originally a good-looking up-and-coming officer until he was captured by the Gurkish. Among other things, he was subjected to Eye Scream and The Tooth Hurts, which had obvious effects on his face.
  • The Belgariad has Silk's mother, a former beauty who was badly scarred by a plague. It's described as so tragic — for Silk and his father — that Silk spent 20 years out of the country and breaks down crying after seeing her, and his aunt describes it as a mercy that the plague also left her blind so she couldn't see what had become of her face. Something of a Broken Aesop, given that Silk is a genius who occasionally lampshades that he's stuck with the Face of a Thug.
  • Tanith Lee's short story "The Beast" is a "Beauty and the Beast" retelling that inverts a lot of the fairytale's traditional tropes: instead of Vessavion starting the story as an ugly Beast who becomes handsome at the end when the Beauty returns to him and recognizes his inner beauty, he starts the story as a handsome and seemingly perfect man who becomes an ugly Beast (and dead) at the end when his wife Isobel leaves him after learning about his secret hobby of murdering ugly people and taking their incongruously beautiful body parts for his collection.
  • In "My Life In Black And White", by Natasha Friend, Lexi has always been defined by her stunning beauty. She takes great pride in her looks and relishes the attention and popularity her beauty has afforded her. While she is still a nice and charming person, she has become very vain and self-obsessesed, is a bit of a jerk. However, her face becomes completely ruined as the result of a car accident. Lexi becomes permanently disfigured and her old beauty will never come back. She must come to terms with the loss of her beauty and who she is without her good looks.
  • In The Laidly Worm Of Spindleston Heugh, Princess Margaret is turned into a dragon (the eponymous "laidly worm") by her Wicked Stepmother. Her brother Wynd manages to undo the curse, and returns the favor by turning the wicked queen's magic against her with a branch of rowan-wood, causing her to turn into a toad.

    Live-Action Television 
  • This is the fate of Stormfront at the end of season two of The Boys (2019). As the season's Big Bad, she had been a sexy, punkish Dark Action Girl in a Spy Catsuit played by the beautiful Aya Cash, but she does not go down beautifully, and when she's defeated, she's missing her right hand, her left eye, and both of her legs while her face has been burned almost beyond recognition. When we see her again at the start of season three, most of her hair is gone, her scalp and half of her face are covered in burn scars, and she's confined to a hospital bed looking like a terminal cancer patient. Between that and how her plans to build a Fourth Reich were destroyed, it's no wonder she kills herself.
  • Cassandra of Doctor Who is a camp comical character, but she is also a bit of a tragic example of this. In her extravagant efforts to preserve her beauty and also to remain a "pure human" (while other humans had long since mingled with aliens, producing hybrids), she has turned herself into quite a freak. By the time she's introduced, she's literally a stretched out sheet of skin with a face on it, requiring frequent moisturization to survive. The Doctor, to punish her, lets her dry out at the end of her first appearance.
  • Pixelface: In "The Ugly Truth", a magical beauty cream transforms Alexia into a yeti.

     Myth and Folklore 
  • Older Than Feudalism: Very common in Classical Mythology. If a parent's boasting about their daughter's good looks didn't get them sacrificed to the nearest sea-god, then the girl herself, saying she was lovelier than the goddesses, would find herself transformed into a horrible monster of some sort. Meet Medusa.
  • Of course, this is the backstory of the fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast".
  • A number of The Search for the Lost Husband fairy tales all involve a prince cursed into some animal form and forced to live like that for a set period of time. Circumstances lead to the protagonist, a young girl or princess, marrying him as a beast. Inevitably, the girl (or sometimes her mother) learns of his actual form and breaks a prohibition that forces him to stay cursed and/or leave her forever, but the girl undertakes a long and difficult journey to fetch him and restore his true form.
  • There's an old legend of a beautiful young lady who, instead of helping her family with the daily chores, spent all of her time by a pool of water, brushing her hair and admiring her beautiful reflection. One day, a single hair from her head disturbs the serene surface of the pool, releasing a water nymph. The nymph, angry at the woman for her vain and shallow ways (and possibly jealous of the woman's beauty), cursed her, changing her into an enormous, man-eating dragon, cursed to devour anyone who came near, until a knight appeared who was brave enough to remain unafraid of her, and pure enough to find her beautiful. The story ends on a downer note, as it's never said whether or not such a knight ever finds her.

    Theatre 
  • In Damn Yankees, Lola was once the ugliest woman in Providence, Rhode Island, before Applegate turned her into a vamp. He punishes her for rebelling against him by changing her back temporarily.
  • Into the Woods: In the Witch's backstory, her mother cursed her with extreme ugliness for losing magic beans from the Baker's father, who was stealing them to satisfy his pregnant wife's cravings.

    Toys 
  • In BIONICLE, the narcissistic Toa Matau considers himself to be this trope after his transformation into a Toa Hordika.

    Video Games 
  • Medusa cites this as her motivation for trying to attack Skyworld in Kid Icarus: Uprising, but Palutena quickly points it out to being a Freudian Excuse, saying she just changed Medusa's appearance to match her dark heart.
  • Cassiopeia in League of Legends was once a beautiful noble's daughter who seduced other men in order to gather secrets for her father. This proves her undoing when one of these lovers makes her take a vow of secrecy upon a serpentine blade...turning her into a monstrous lamia after she betrays his secrets.
    • Soraka's original lore had her acquire her present half-unicorn form as a cosmic punishment for using her celestial magic for revenge against the chemist Warwick. Her Celestial Soraka skin depicts her glamorous form before she was cursed. This later got retconned to her always being half horse when her lore was completely rewritten.
  • One of the Vahzilok arcs in City of Heroes deals with an Eidolon, which in this game are the most humanoid of the reanimated corpses Dr. Vahzilok creates, who tries to regain her former human beauty.
    • In one of the Devoured Earth arcs, a woman named Tanya Tyler is transformed into a hideous monstrousity named "Terra".
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines has Imalia, a Nosferatu vampire who used to be a supermodel. It's said that the Nosferatu clan like to do this to vain, beautiful people in order to Break the Haughty. The tabletop game calls them "Cleopatras" (after the villain from the movie Freaks, due to her Fate Worse than Death).
  • JumpStart Adventures 4th Grade: Haunted Island, anyone? Look at Tiffany, the princess girl. She now looks like a warthog!
  • In The Game of the Ages, you rescue a group that's under a curse that mutates their looks and leaves them mentally retarded. Just asking about them earns you some indignation from townsfolk, who turn out to be relatives.
  • Quelaag and her Sister in Dark Souls went from being beautiful women to being beautiful women with horrible demonic lava-spider lower bodies.
  • Rachel Foley in Resident Evil: Revelations is a blonde bombshell in a Spy Catsuit with Absolute Cleavage down to her navel... until she gets infected with the t-Abyss Virus, transforming her (in true Resident Evil fashion) into a Humanoid Abomination whose right arm has turned into a massive claw and whose head opens up into a jaw with a lamprey-like mouth.
  • If you run out of lives and get a Game Over in Banjo-Kazooie, then the Wicked Witch Gruntilda succeeds in her plot to steal Tooty's beauty. Just to rub it in the player's face that they failed, they get a cutscene in which Gruntilda is transformed into a Hot Witch and Tooty into a hideous gonk.
  • In Dragon's Lair II, Time Warp the evil wizard Mordroc puts a magic ring on the beautiful Princess Daphne’s finger which turns her into a giant ugly horned, pig snouted, purple skinned, wart covered monster, she is changed back when Dirk removes the ring and places it on Mordroc which kills him.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • The handsome but scrawny Bruno of the Neopets Tale of Woe plot is offered a potion by a mysterious stranger with the promise that it will make his dreams come true. In the hopes of becoming stronger to impress the girl he loves, he drinks it, only to be transformed into a hulking, grotesque monster.

    Western Animation 
  • Ever After High: Happens to prince Daring Charming in the Epic Winter movie. It's played for laughs as he's a vain (not quite heartless) Jerk Jock, and he has to learn a lesson about not being so vain. It's undone by movie's end, but tellingly it had to be undone with a kiss, and it wasn't from his intended fiancé.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Played for comedy on an episode where Krusty the Clown temporarily loses Sideshow Mel as the co-host of his children's TV show and hires actor Luke Perry, who is his half-brother (don't think about it too much), as a replacement. In a big all-star special edition of the show intended to boost ratings, Krusty fires Luke out of a cannon that sends him shooting all the way across town. He crashes into the Kwik-E-Mart and smashes right through several dozen jars of battery acid; we don't see what happens to him immediately afterward, but we hear him screaming, "AAAH! MY FACE! MY VALUABLE FACE!" Interestingly, the next time we see him, the acid scarring has completely healed.
    • Moe gets plastic surgery to look attractive, but then later a wall falls on him and his face goes back to what it was before. Once Moe points out how it doesn't make any sense, the episode ends.
  • Similarly Family Guy: Peter gets addicted to becoming more beautiful through plastic surgery. Eventually, he crashes his car and after suffering numerous scarring injuries, lands in a lard vat and drinks all the lard. This ends with him looking exactly as he always does.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: Ed Bighead was once known as "The Handsomest Man in O-Town" before an accident involving Heffer, a newspaper, and a giant blender.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Calender Girl was a model who turned thirty and is alleged to have had a nasty facial scarring beneath her mask. However, she's still quite beautiful, but her obsession has rendered her unable to see anything but the flaws. It crosses over with Gorgeous Gorgon, since she's actually not ugly under the mask.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987): In one episode, April O'Neil gets mutated into a fish woman while in another she gets turned into a wasp woman. Both times, the turtles and April are horrified about how hideous she now looks. A third episode saw her mutated into a feline, though her appearance was not commented on that time. Of course by the end of the episode she is transformed back every time.
  • Willo the Wisp (1981): The Prince is turned from a handsome prince into a shaggy Cousin It-like form in the first episode. While there are some attempts to change him back, Status Quo Is God from there on in.
  • Winx Club:
  • On two occasions In Super Friends the beautiful Wonder Woman is turned into an ugly beast, the first was in “The Incredible Space Circus” in which she is turned into a fanged and clawed bipedal rhinoceros monster, and in “The Island of the Dinosoids” she is turned into a dinosaur woman.
  • Scooby-Doo:
    • In the first episode of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo Daphne is turned into a werewolf, surprisingly her werewolf form isn’t particularly pretty or feminine looking, instead looking like a long eared, long snouted, gray furred Taz the Tasmanian devil, Flim Flam is able to change her back with his Lotsa Luck Joy Juice.
    • In Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island Simone and Lena have sold their souls to a cat god to give themselves immortality and initially to get revenge on the pirates who killed their friends and families, they become werecats and feed on the souls of people who then become zombies, during their initial transformation they’re still rather attractive and feminine looking, but during the second stage they’re much more beastly, feral, and scary looking.


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