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Contemptible Cover

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"I wonder if there's a secondary market for fake dust-jackets for the easily-embarrassed reader, bearing the correct name and title but a different illustration? Signed by the author, even...!"

We're all told never to judge a book by its cover. Many still do; a book's cover is one of the most important marketing opportunities it has, and has a large influence on how we initially read and interpret a story.

Unfortunately, some books are cursed with the Contemptible Cover. The kind of cover that contains an excess of sexual, violent or otherwise lurid imagery, often at odds with the book's actual content. Though Sexy Packaging isn't always bad, Contemptible Covers' trashy illustrations appear a simple and blatant effort to appeal to the Lowest Common Denominator. You may well be ashamed to be seen reading such a book at home, let alone on a bus — or at the very least, it will make you wince.

The Contemptible Cover cannot claim that most covers are designed before the book is done. Blame falls solely on the marketing department; even world-famous best-selling authors don't normally have a say in the matter.


This is not just for books, naturally, but you're not likely to be holding up a DVD or a theatrical poster on a bus.

Not to be confused with a contemptible cover song. Though this trope doesn't strictly describe a pretty female character frantically trying to cover herself after her clothes are ripped off, that might well be used as an example. Also not to be confused with selfishly using other people to hide behind while under fire, even though it's both contemptible and cover. That's Human Shield.

Compare Covers Always Lie, Intentionally Awkward Title, Never Trust a Trailer, and Lady Not-Appearing-in-This-Game for similar phenomena in media. Can overlap with American Kirby Is Hardcore in the case of localized video game box arts. This is often a failed attempt to Polish the Turd.

Contrast Fanservice Cover where the cover is made with the deliberate intent to titillate readers instead of it just baiting people to read the book.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • The cover for the American release of Spice and Wolf. It's kind of hard to sell a series focused on medieval economics, even if one of the lead characters is a cute wolf girl. The publisher attempted to rectify this by first releasing volume 1 with a cover which shows a live-action and possibly naked girl with a wolf tail who looks nothing like the said wolf girl, Holo. It makes it look like some sort of trashy erotica novel or ecchi Magical Girlfriend series, when it's really a historical fantasy. Outcry from fans led to it being issued with the original cover as a dust jacket. Eventually, the publisher found a compromise; the live-action covers were instead used as the dust jackets, while keeping the original art as the main book cover.
  • Most of the covers for Princess Tutu are pretty tame, although there is one cover that features Rue in a bird cage wearing a corset and a tutu that covers basically nothing. It's based on a real ballet (as all of the covers are), and it's highly symbolic, so it's not too out of place... but then ADV decided to use that picture as the cover for the boxset. Considering Rue isn't even the title character, the fans were confused and embarrassed by the move. Luckily in later editions the eponymous Magical Girl is shown on the cover in a less provocative pose.
  • Some of the English DVD covers for Azumanga Daioh show the girls with exposed stomachs, embarrassed expressions, and skirts that are dangerously close to being blown upwards by the wind. The Irony of course is that they were trying to market it as a Fanservice anime, when one of the show's major claims to fame is that it's a female-driven series that doesn't resort to Fanservice to entice viewers.
  • The first volume of Peepo Choo has a huge picture of a scantily-clad Reiko.
  • This is poked fun at three years straight in the New Years anime specials of Gintama. The first two times Gintoki holds fake DVD covers featuring him and Hijikata shirtless in suggestive poses, then it's the Benizakura Arc movie tickets... Hijikata is barely in it anyway.
  • Franken Fran, a manga whose content itself would be rather hard to explain, likes to go the extra misleading mile by having the covers be the main female characters in poses out of a medical fetish book. Often there's a horrific version of the same picture on the next page, such as the cover of volume 3, which features a sexy picture of Adorea, complete with cute face — despite the fact that her actual face is a mass of tentacles designed for swallowing people whole. The aforementioned horrific version reveals that the "cute face" was just a biological mask.
  • The novel version of L: change the WorLd has this as the cover. Aside from it being weird, people who don't know anything might even go so far as to think it's a book about a pedophile since he is surrounded by toys and candy.
  • Berserk's cover for the 13th volume shows a smiling Guts holding a completely naked and unconscious Casca whilst they are surrounded by demons. What makes it a contemptible cover, aside from nobody ever wanting to be seen reading it in public, is that the event depicted does not happen in the story itself.
  • Of the many gorgeous Gankutsuou covers available, Netflix chose this one to advertise it. Those not in the know wouldn't be blamed for thinking it's a Yaoi series, and while there is Homoerotic Subtext by the boatload and at least one canon same-sex crush, it's nowhere near representative of the content.
  • Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt:
  • Dance in the Vampire Bund's covers tend to feature Really 700 Years Old but child-like looking Mina Tepes in various states of undress and "come hither" posing.
  • A Centaur's Life is a Slice of Life manga that occasionally features nudity, but unlike some of its monster girl-themed competition like Monster Musume, it's usually in an everyday context and is less focused on Fanservice. Nevertheless, while the first few volumes had covers that depicted the everyday scenes the manga focuses on, there have been an increasing number of covers that are obvious attempts at Fanservice that are at odds with the content or depictions in the actual manga. Perhaps the most notable is Volume 8, which features an Off-Model version of the main character in a swimsuit, featuring her larger-than-usual breasts dripping with water prominently on one side of the book, and a close up on her dripping behind on the other. In general, her breast size has also been increasing with each cover, far ahead of her in-story depiction, and included the visible shape of nipples through her clothes.
  • The cover of the first manga volume of Inu × Boku SS, a slice of life manga about a group of half-Youkai living in a boarding house, features Ririchiyo sitting on Soushi's shoulder, with it looking like he's putting a hand up her skirt. Even though the series barely features any nudity or sexual situations at all, and the covers of later volumes reflect that, the first one is enough to make some think the story is Ecchi and put it back on the shelf.

    Comic Books 
  • Hack/Slash has a troubling Omnibus image, giving a panty shot of Cassie Hack with special attention being drawn to the groin area. While the comic has lots of fetish-wear, it is surprisingly tasteful in its fan service.
  • Parodied by The Middleman. The first issue was available with a normal cover, or (as a Comic-Con exclusive), the "Special Completely Inaccurate Variant Cover Edition", which features a muscular barbarian with a scantily clad woman lying at his feet.
  • World War Hulk: The Heroes for Hire tie featuring the infamous cover seen here. While the interior features not a single tentacle naughty or otherwise. Various readers and critics vocally disapproved, pointing out the dripped slime on Black Cat's cleavage, and that one tentacle appeared to be unzipping Colleen Wing's catsuit as being particularly over the line. Oh, and then the title was cancelled two issues later.
  • Issue #8 of Batman: Gotham After Midnight shows a gorgeous, lingerie-clad woman Bound and Gagged on the floor. Nothing remotely close to this happens in the actual comic. Similarly, there's a Nightwing cover that has him standing over a Bound and Gagged Huntress. While Huntress does get captured in the issue, it's not by Nightwing and she's certainly not bound and gagged. It comes off like a cheap attempt at enticing male readers with some titillation.
  • Wonder Woman (1987):
    • Wonder Woman: The Hikateia is an excellent graphic novel that launched Greg Rucka's popular four-year run on the main series. It's an engaging tale about debt, guilt and duty to the gods vs. duty to the government. The cover is a closeup of Wonder Woman stepping on Batman's head. Yeah, you'll definitely get some funny looks reading it in public.
    • In-story, Carelton Group Publishing proposes a Fanservice-laden cover for Diana's book, with her lying nude and seductive on a couch. Diana opts for a simple cover with a depiction of her lasso on a white background.
  • Princeless: Get Over Yourself #2 lampshades this trope. The cover has an image of Adrienne's sister Angelica spread out naked for the reader. The nudity is interrupted by the real Adrienne bursting out of the cover and criticizing the artist for drawing a skeevy image that has nothing to do with the actual story.
  • Spoofed in one of the Outland collections (the successor to Bloom County) is titled "His Kisses are Dreamy... But Those Hairballs down my Cleavage..." Needless to say, the title speaks for itself, but just to elaborate, it has Bill the Cat puckering his lips and an ample-chested woman with a tear rolling down her cheek.
  • In 2014, Marvel hired noted erotic artist Milo Manara to draw special covers for some of their new titles. One of them was the this cover to the 2014 launch of the Spider-Woman series (also a part of the Spider-Verse storyline). Not only did some fans get up in arms over the suggestive pose, they got up in arms over how uncomfortable and bizarre that pose was.
  • The comic adaptation of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has some quite painfully fanservice covers, depicting Lisbeth Salander as some kind of Suicide Girls-style goth/alt pin-up. Particularly inappropriate given the nature of the work as a protest against male exploitation of and sexual violence against women.
  • In the early 2000s, Marvel published an Emma Frost miniseries covering the character's early life, which was mostly teen drama, had relatively low-key artwork, and might have appealed to young women. Unfortunately, the covers of the comics were incredibly sexed-up pin-up shots of the adult Emma wearing an assortment of costumes that were even more revealing than the costume she normally wore at the time in New X-Men, and if you've read that title you'll know that wasn't easy to achieve. This probably contributed to the series' failure. This is one of the worst examples, but many Marvel comics with solo female protagonists during this era featured heavily sexualised pin-up covers, often by Greg Horn, that give little clue as to the content inside.
  • For DC Comics' June 2015 comics, a number of titles bore variant covers featuring The Joker. Many of them are humorous... but this cover for Batgirl (2011) is not one of them. Some fans were disgusted by the cover given the character's history with The Joker and initiated a counterattack. Due to the backlash, the artist requested that DC remove the cover.
  • A strange variant concerning Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Unite - one of the variant covers, namely the cover to Mega Man #50 shows off horrible Off-Model versions of Original Generation characters Quake Woman and Xander Payne. At least Quake Woman looks like Quake Woman; it's hard to tell if the freaky eye-patched man really is Xander Payne.
  • A strip found in Tom Gauld's You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, depicting a business meeting:
    "Mike, we're so excited to see these new D.H. Lawrence book covers you've designed for us!"
    "I've chosen images that represent Lawrence's key themes: class, nature and capitalism."
    "Just kidding! They're all pictures of sexy ladies!"
  • The Juan Jose Ryp cover to issue 4 of Frank Miller's RoboCop features a bloodied Lewis drawn in such a way that she resembled a pole dancer. His covers for some of the other issues also features scantily-clad women.
  • didn't see that coming, right? But just because Dynamite did a makeover and now dresses her decently, it won't exclude her wearing her classic costume on the cover...
  • Averted following much controversy with a variant cover for Iron Man, during the period where Riri Williams was the Affirmative Action Legacy. J. Scott Campbell did a Variant Cover pair for a single retailer showing Riri in armour and in civilian clothes... except the civilian one depicted the canonically fifteen-years-old and nerdy Riri with the Most Common Superpower, in a seductive pose with a Bare Your Midriff outfit that, to make things even more out-of-character, was over a decade out of fashion with an early-2000s style ridiculously low-rise waist. The covers were promptly cancelled. Campbell initially dismissed the controversy, but then made peace by doing a new Variant Cover showing Riri in civilian gear, with a more naturalistic body shape and casual pose, and more modest but far more fashionable clothing.
  • Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do: All of the covers place a great deal of emphasis on Black Cat's breasts, ass or both at once. This would be bad enough without this story revealing that Felicia was date raped by her college boyfriend and even has the villain attempt to rape her in issue 3.
  • Played with by the collected editions of Sex Criminals, which feature NSFW covers, but covered in dust jackets for books on topics like DIY pet euthanasia.
  • Standard for Dynamite; many issues of Warlord of Mars have covers featuring Dejah when her role is minimal or non-existent. It happens mostly on the original main series however.

    Comic Strips 
  • Liberty Meadows is a hilarious comic, but Frank Cho's love of busty women on the cover makes it almost a certainty that reading it in public will get you some funny looks. Jen's cover on the fourth collection is especially outrageous in this regard. In Cho's defense, the interiors are often just as sexualized as the cover, making it as much a case of Truth In Advertising.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The original UK poster for Ridley Scott's Hannibal was deemed "too shocking and disturbing" for the public and was quickly recalled following several complaints. It's easy to see why.
  • In The Seven Year Itch the main character's job is to publish books with such covers — even classic literature, such as Little Women (retitled as The Secrets of a Girls' Dormitory).
  • Not quite a "cover" as such, but the movie poster for Star Trek V has an addition on its Japanese version which fits this trope down to the ground: a scantly clad alien catwoman was crudely placed onto the original artwork, where she hadn't been in the Western version of the poster. The scantly clad alien catwoman in question only appears in one (very brief) scene in the movie itself.
  • The cover of the American video release of the Korean action film Shiri features a nearly naked Asian woman with a gun. This does not reference anything within the film itself.
  • The cover for the American release of Infernal Affairs. It features an attractive woman in a blue dress holding a large gun. The movie has maybe three female characters in it, but none of them are bombshells, even see any weapons over the course of the story, or have much more than five minutes of total screen time.
  • Parodied in This is Spın̈al Tap, where the cover to the band's latest album "Smell the Glove" is described as a naked woman with a collar and leash having a leather glovenote  shoved in her face by a man dressed in BDSM gear, causing quite a bit of controversy. When the album comes out, they give it the least offensive cover imaginable; complete matte black (without even the name of the band or the album).
  • The overly sensationalist title of the Italian Giallo Strip Nude for Your Killer. Okay, so it's a murder mystery set in a modeling agency in 1970s Italy. Obviously, there are going to be many opportunities for Fanservice. But the film itself is barely any sleazier or more outrageous than anything else from its genre, certainly not to the pornographic level that the title implies. And no, the title is not due to Executive Meddling or "Blind Idiot" Translation, it's a direct translation of the Italian title.
  • If you know nothing about American Beauty, you could be forgiven for thinking it was a porn flick, given its title, tagline ("Look closer") and prominent image of a woman's midriff and a red rose. This was probably invoked deliberately... look closer - don't judge a book by its cover!
  • The original 1990 poster for Red Blooded American Girl is a world of difference from the cover of its later DVD release, bearing more than a slight resemblance to highly stylised modern vampire films like Blade and Underworld (2003).
  • The cover for the 2011 independent film Tyrannosaur got a lot of criticism, because many were drawn to its page expecting a Jurassic Park-style action film. It's actually a drama about abusive relationships that has nothing to do with dinosaurs.
  • The notorious VHS cover of The Driller Killer showing a tramp being stabbed through the head with an electric drill, which helped get the film banned in Britain.
  • Disturbingly, this was done with the American release of the film Mignonnes, also known as Cuties outside of France. The film itself is a commentary of the effects of the media hypersexualizing young girls. When Netflix picked the film up for distribution, its marketing began to emphasize the hypersexualized aspect of the film, changing the poster of the film from a shot of the 11-year-old cast walking down the streets with shopping bags and confetti, to a shot of the cast wearing revealing outfits and doing provocative poses, making the film look like the very kind of media it was making a statement about. The backlash against both the film and Netflix was so immediate, Netflix pulled the promotional material down and had to apologise for it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Parodied on the British sitcom As Time Goes By: The protagonist, a (white, older) Englishman named Lionel, has written a memoir of the decades he spent growing coffee in Kenya. In one episode, he is made to pose for a cover photo, dressed like an adventure hero in khaki, including a shirt revealing a lot of bare chest. A scantily-clad blonde is sprawled at his feet.
  • The in-universe Nikki Heat novels in Castle have the eponymous detective on the covers with a gun and little else. Beckett, the "muse", is unsurprisingly not amused. Despite clashing with the reality, however, it's not unfounded in the text of the defictionalized books, as one of the major differences between Beckett and Nikki Heat is that Heat, in Castle's words, is "kinda slutty."
    • Ironically, Nikki Heat had several nude scenes in the first book, Heat Wave, but none to speak of in the second book, Naked Heat.
  • Some Doctor Who novelization covers fell into this, with a few covers in the Virgin Doctor Who New Adventures line notable for featuring somewhat sexualized renderings of companion Ace wearing a skin-tight outfit. Not that the actress, Sophie Aldred, seemed to object, as around that time she took part in a photo shoot in which she wore a real-life version of the costume for the cover of a book she wrote about her time on the show, and came off looking just as good as the rendering.
  • Parodied in Friends:
    Mrs. Bing: I have sold a hundred million copies of my books, and y'know why?
    Ross: The girl on the cover with her nipples showing?
    Mrs. Bing: No. Because I know how to write men that women fall in love with. Believe me, I cannot sell a Paolo. He's not a hero. You know who our hero is.
    Ross: The guy on the cover with his nipples showing?
  • Ernie Kovacs parodied this trope with a series of "more sex and violence" book covers, showing Little Women as ladies of ill repute, Peter Rabbit as a gangster, and a Webster's unabridged dictionary with a picture of a silhouette of a lady behind a window blind, with blurbs all over the cover such as "Unexpurgated!", "Four Letter Words!", and "Nothing Left Out!"
  • Want to get viewers to watch, or rent the videotape of, your Made-for-TV Movie about a waitress/single mother who finds out one of her daughter's teachers is instructing the students in the art of antisemitism, and decides to take on the teacher? It's easy. Cast Raquel Welch, give her character a job at the local "seedy" bar, feature her in her "work uniform" in the TV Guide ads and on the VHS cover, and name your film Scandal in a Small Town. Viewings and rentals virtually guaranteed.

  • Haus der Lüge by Einstürzende Neubauten. How are you going to explain the record that has an ejaculating horse on the cover to your parents? (NSFW, obviously.)
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers' Mother's Milk album cover features a topless model, with miniature versions of the band members lying on her arms and leaning against her breasts. It's even more ridiculous when considering that the model herself was offended by certain versions of the cover that featured her nipples exposed, and successfully sued the band for $50,000.
    • The band's Abbey Road E.P. features the band doing an Abbey Road Crossing only wearing their infamous wang-covering gym socks.
  • Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville features Liz topless in a photo booth, with the cover cutting off her photo near the cleavage.
  • The Black Crowes's third album Amorica shares its cover image with the bicentennial issue of Hustler Magazine. Before you jump to conclusions, no, there is no nudity. It's a close-up of a woman's bikini-clad crotch. In honor of America's bicentennial, she's wearing an American flag-print bikini. Oh, and there's some pubic hair sticking out from underneath the swimsuit, but who cares about a little pubic hair, right? Turns out, the religious right was pretty bored that week, and launched a boycott of any retailers that carried the album, resulting in Walmart and Target refusing to sell it. Eventually an edited version was released: everything except the bikini was blacked out. Yes, even the woman.
    • What makes this really interesting is that the band predicted there would be controversy with the cover, but not from the pubic hair. They expected people to be offended by showing an American flag in a sexual context, and were utterly shocked when nobody even mentioned that aspect.
  • Many Death Metal covers as well. Nothing as risky as walking around with an image of "corpse cunnilingus".
  • Carcass' first album, Reek Of Putrefaction, has a collage of autopsy photos as its cover. It is so bad that it is sold in a white plastic bag.
  • Marilyn Manson, but not as often as you think. Only Mechanical Animals and Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) really fit, with the first one being a 100% naked, painted over (according to interviews, his junk is tucked between his legs) with white body paint Marilyn Manson... with big, fake, nippleless (though, there exists a pic of nippled) breasts. The second is Manson, crucified, but in a much more historically accurate way, and missing his lower jaw. They also tried to make their first album a nude picture of Marilyn Manson as a kid (one of those embarrassing pics parents take when you're five type things), but the executives ruled it pornographic, much to the annoyed amusement of Manson. Also, a few of the singles are this as well. Lunchbox is this (NSFW), Get Your Gunn contains child abuse, Disposable Teens is a crucified baby, but otherwise, the covers (and he has a LOT of singles) are a lot tamer than the music videos.
  • X Japan's album Vanishing Vision has (Photoshopped, but still extremely disturbing) cover art of a woman with a slashed-open chest being raped. What makes it even worse is its irrelevance to almost all of the album.
  • The Alien Sex Fiend single "Smells Like" sports a banned cover that had a little too much Toilet Humour going on. It's a closeup image of a turd on a piano with spiders and flies crawling around it. The spiders and flies are rubber. The turd is, as far as anyone can tell, legit.
  • Dimmu Borgir has some strange cover art. Whether it's a faceless goat-thingy, another goat-thing with exposed breasts or a headless, limbless and naked angel wrapped in barbed wire... it's not pretty.
  • The original release of the Dutch prog rock album Atlantis by Earth and Fire featured an appalling cover design that depicts lots of blobby naked people floating around, apparently drawn in crayon. A later CD release wisely substituted a photo of the band.
  • Another music example, defining music loosely: the cover of Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. So bad, it was wrapped in brown paper on initial release. They aren't even attractive nudes...
    • Taken Up to Eleven with the cover of the infamous The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends "blood vinyl edition", which is a variant of the Two Virgins cover that features the heads of the band and all collaborators on the album (Including Yoko and her and John's son, Sean Lennon) being pasted onto copies of John and Yoko's bodies.
  • Type O Negative's original cover for ''The Origin of the Feces'' is a photo of Peter Steele's anus. Brazil has a variant (though it does look like a marble in a mouth instead of... ya know).
  • Also from Brazil, the only album by Mamonas Assassinas, which shows the Double Entendre on the band's name (instead of 'mamona' as in castor bean, a big mammary - their self-made translation into English was even "Big Killer Breasts").
  • The self-titled ''Blind Faith'' album and the Scorpions' ''Virgin Killer'' manage to take the "random naked people" style one horrible step further by using underage nude models. (Blind Faith took it even farther by having the 11-year-old model hold a very phallic chrome spaceship model.)
    • Blind Faith is interesting in that the planned model was legal-age... but then she declined at the last minute. The model they used was her kid sister, who volunteered when her older sister ditched.
    • The Virgin Killer cover art, in particular, is so controversial that in late 2008, it caused the album's Wikipedia article to be temporarily blocked in the UK, then subsequently reversed thanks to political backlash and the Streisand Effect.
    • In addition to the aforementioned Virgin Killer, some other Scorpions album covers feature nudity and/or are sexually suggestive, in particular In Trance, Lovedrive, Animal Magnetism, Love at First Sting, and Pure Instinct. Then there are Fly to the Rainbow and Moment of Glory, which are embarrassing for entirely different reasons. (According to this interview, former lead guitarist Uli Jon Roth dislikes the covers of both Fly to the Rainbow and Virgin Killer.)
    • There's also an alternative Lovedrive cover which falls into the "embarrassing for entirely different reasons" category—it's a phallic scorpion.
  • Anything by Coco Rosie.
  • Ween's cover for their digital-only album Craters of the Sac is a close-up of a scrotum. (NSFW)
  • Paul McCartney took the cover photo/self-portrait for his 2001 album Driving Rain himself. With a digital watch-cam. In grainy black and white. In a restroom. At the time, there were a lot of people questioning his taste and thinking the cover was even worse than it looked.
    • Neil Young did the same thing for Silver & Gold, using a Gameboy Camera and Printer, but his looks more oddly mosaic.
  • Good luck looking at The Beatles the same way ever again after seeing the original cover of Yesterday and Today. While the photo was originally taken for a conceptual art piece, Paul McCartney did choose it for the album, but he was thankfully overruled.
  • Australian grindcore band Blood Duster's debut album Yeest has for its cover a photo of the face of a (still living) person in the final stages of syphilis.
  • The Dwarves. Any album by The Dwarves. Some album covers include: a topless woman in a Mexican wrestling mask holding a skateboard, naked women covered in blood, naked women holding a midget on a crucifix...
    • The Dwarves Come Clean features some (still fairly off-color) self-parody: Two naked women covered in soap bubbles, next to a naked midget using a sponge as Hand-or-Object Underwear.
  • Chumbawamba:
    • Anarchy was also sold in brown paper packaging. (NSFW!) It's a baby being born! To be more specific, only the head is out and it's covered in blood, but it's in profile, and could have been even grosser.
    • Their album What You See Is What You Get has a cover depicting a completely SFW photo of a dog... until you open it, and fold out the booklet, and it's revealed to be cropped from a photo of mating dogs.
  • Just about everything involving Passenger of Shit, a musician that can be best described as "Anal Cunt goes electronica". Don't even dare to do the Google Image Search (even with Safe Search on!). Just don't.
  • Due to the way their logo is drawn, Anal Cunt counts as well... and, y'know, their name.
  • The cover of the Japanese electronic music duo capsule's "Sugarless Girl" album is a picture of a voluptuous naked woman covering herself.
  • The LP release of Keith Moon's solo album, Two Sides of the Moon, showed Moon riding in a car on the cover. The window through which Moon is seen is cut through on the sleeve, so that the art varies depending on how the inner sleeve is inserted. Either he's looking out through the window while clutching a cane, or he's, appropriately enough, mooning the camera.
  • Venetian Snares' album Horse and Goat had to be sold with a reversible cover, with a close-up of a girl's face on the front and the real cover on the back. The first two manufacturers they went to wouldn't even print it. Not surprising, considering that the cover was done by Trevor Brown.
  • The Gong album Acid Motherhood features a Mr. Seahorse cover image.
    • Similarly, Motherhood by Babybird.
  • Liars' "It Fit When I Was A Kid" single, which features the band members crudely photoshopped into gay porn. The censored version (probably deliberately) made it seem even worse than it actually was.
  • Lords of Acid used a few of these on their albums. Yes, more often than not they tend to be re-released with censored covers. Voodoo-U depicts a lesbian she-devil orgy, whereas Deep Chills, in its attempt to parody the cover of Cheap Thrills, is probably even worse, with an image for each song on the album.
  • Taken to entirely new levels by Heavenly, who in their later releases subtituted more traditional power metal album covers for lesbian fantasy softcore pornography.
  • 70's rock band Mom's Apple Pie has one from their Self-Titled Album. It looks completely innocent at first glance, but just look closely at the apple pie. (NSFW to an extent)
    • Outcries from outraged record store proprietors refusing to display the album forced their hand into censoring their own cover art. Later issues of the cover brick up the pie slice, stick a bunch of soldiers outside the window and place a tear in Mom’s eye. Guess which version is more collectible.
  • Christian Metal (stop snickering...) band Barnabas actually had a pretty hard-rocking sound for the early 1980s - kinda like Judas Priest meets AC/DC. So of course this was the cover of their first album (recommence snickering).
  • Smooth move, Mr. "God, Guts & Guns". Even for Terrible Ted, this is... tacky.
  • Some of the Manowar's album covers venture into this direction with all the shirtless barbarians and the topless succubi in them.
  • Mala Madre by the Chilean rock and folk singer-songwriter Camila Moreno. She appears naked under transparent clothing. Her breasts and genitals are visible.
  • NOFX's Heavy Petting Zoo album and Eating Lamb 12-inch EP. The former depicts a man fondling a sheep, and the latter depicts him and the sheep going 69.
  • This isn't really a cover, but the disc of tool's Ænima album had a picture of a naked contortionist (taken from behind) - it could still prove awkward if you, say, put the disc itself in a CD wallet and let someone flip through. This is from a picture that appeared in the album artwork. The album's lyrics do not have any sexual meaning. Their Undertow album's liner notes also contained some offensive pictures that do not relate to the songs.
    • Admittedly, "Stinkfist" from Ænima was about, well, fisting.
  • Bullet for My Valentine's album Fever. If you don't want to click the link, it's a profile photo of a pale, scantily clad woman.
  • The Bloodhound Gang's Hefty Fine. The album is already badly reviewed, and the cover doesn't help.
  • The original cover to Lady Gaga's The Remix. The alternative, by contrast, is much classier.
  • The original cover to Big Black’s Headache featured a stomach-turning close-up of the victim of a close-range gunshot wound to the head. It was replaced by a less offensive (but still sinfully ugly) cover.
  • The cover for the 2010 vinyl remaster of XTC's album, Skylarking, which features a shot of female pubic hair with flowers. The cover was rejected by Virgin in 1986. Sometimes, meddling executives have a point.
  • The Handsome Beast's Bestiality album cover depicts a naked fat guy near a pig. It is not safe for work, eyes, or sanity. Click at your own risk.
  • Supertramp's Indelibly Stamped consists of the arms and chest of a naked and heavily-tattooed woman.
  • Cracked's list of The Fifteen Worst Album Covers of All-Time.
    • It should be noted that one of these is a spoof of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass' Whipped Cream and Other Delights, which along with much of that band's catalogue is itself a perfect example of this trope.
  • The original cover for Guns N' Roses debut album Appetite for Destruction (Warning: NSFW)
  • The cover of this (NSFW) Nashville Pussy record was censored via huge, pink stickers. Not only did the stickers cover the lower half of the front cover image, but the title (replacing it with simply "Let Them Eat..." because no one would make that connection) and the entire track list on the back (one of those tracks was nominated for a Grammy.) Once the album was purchased, the stickers would come off along with the saran wrap, so it was at least a very tidy method.
    • Some versions of the aforementioned Scorpions' Lovedrive album used a similar technique, covering the album with opaque red shrink wrap.
  • The great funk band Ohio Players became notorious for the depictions of naked or scantily-clad women on their album covers, which has overshadowed the actual music in terms of their historical reputation.
  • Dutch singer Connie Stuart did a parody of this with "Hoezenpoes", describing the life of a classical music album "cover pussy".
  • The cover of Load by Metallica features a photograph titled Semen and Blood III. That said, if you didn't know what materials were used in the artwork, you'd just think it was some sort of abstract painting.
  • Wolf Alice's official debut EP "Blush" makes you do precisely what the title says. The band wanted to invoke a feeling of awkwardness, one that would make awkward teenagers even more awkward. So how else could they do better than having a female's body from the waist up, with the head obscured. Oh, and did I mention that she's naked, with breasts unashamedly on display? (it goes without saying NSFW.)
  • The Slits' Cut famously features the three female members of the band note  dressed only in topless loincloths and covered in mud. It was clearly intended to make them look tribal and confrontational instead of sexy though, and in that sense it did fit the content of the album.
  • The cover art for the Lady Sovereign single "Love Me or Hate Me" features Lady Sovereign Flipping the Bird.
  • Although it's not technically vulgar, when Geoff Tate's version of Queensrÿche revealed the cover art for Frequency Unknown, most fans were not amused. It really didn't help that Queensrÿche has a long-standing reputation as "the thinking man's metal band."
  • Much milder than some of these examples, but Kevin Rowland's 1999 solo album My Beauty drew ire for its cover, a picture of Rowland in drag.
  • The otherwise acclaimed 1961 Decca/London recording of the opera Salome had an infamously creepy shot of Birgit Nilsson on the cover.
  • It's worth giving this one context. Experimental/industrial/alternative hip-hop group Death Grips promised two albums in 2012: the first one was The Money Store, which was released in April. The second album, No Love, was promised for a release in the Fall, with the band canceling an entire tour to work on it. However, on September 30th, the band revealed via their (now-defunct) Twitter account that their label, Epic Records, didn't want them to release the album, now titled No Love Deep Web, in 2012, pushing it back for a 2013 release. The band then put the full album up for streaming on their website, their Soundcloud, and their YouTube account, with their website also hosting the album for free download. Complementing this outburst against Epic was the album's cover: a picture of one of the band member's erect penis against a bathroom wall, with the album's name sharpied onto it.
    • The album finally got a retail release through Harvest in November 2013 (looks like Epic got what they wanted after all), complete with black paper over the cover stating that it "Contains graphic imagery that may be offensive to some people."
    • There are three censored versions of the cover. One replaces the penis with a black bar. Another simply pixellates it, resulting in a Textless Album Cover save for the Parental Advisory label. The final is a completely alternate image that shows shoes worn by a man and the words "SUCK MY DICK" imprinted onto the socks.
  • The cover to Sky Ferreira’s Night Time, My Time is an artistic photograph of the artist nude in the shower from the waist up. Digital prints zoom in the picture so her nipples aren't seen.
  • Basement Jaxx's Remedy depicts a quite abstract picture of several naked bodies lying together in really close positions.
  • Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy has, as one of the alternative covers, a very poorly-drawn pornographic image of a grinning black man screwing an armless phoenix with Side Boob, a gaping mouth, and a spotty tail. This was meant to be the main cover, but retailers refused to carry it.
  • The Image Song single accompanying Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, "Love Deterrence", features Paz, who looks like a young teenager. Her school uniform is printed separately on a piece of acetate, which slides out, revealing her in her underwear. It's undeniably funny, but obviously rooted in some upsetting sexual politics, and just try explaining it to your mother.
  • Miley Cyrus's 2013 album Bangerz, which has several alternative covers all featuring Miley on a deliberately uncool 1980s-style backdrop that does not fit either the music or her image. At least one of the covers features her in a heavily filtered shot surrounded by roses, with a square crop around the edge that doesn't even go up the edge of the artwork, looking like a crappy Internet signature from the 90s.
  • The 2001 recording of Johann Sebastian Bach's St. Matthew Passion on Teldec, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, has a trussed-up lamb on the cover. Even though It Makes Sense in Context, it's a fairly unnerving image.
  • The early synth album Moog Plays the Beatles by Marty Gold has a pair of naked clay figurines (a man and a woman) on the cover. Not surprisingly, the iTunes download version has their naughty bits covered by a sticker.
  • The album Alles ist Gut by Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft shows the upper body half of the sweat-covered Gabi Delgado-López.
  • The outer booklet cover to Frankenchrist by Dead Kennedys wasn't all that bad, depicting shriners riding tiny cars at a parade. However, inside the booklet was a painting by the late H. R. Giger, showing self-sodomising penises and vulvae (NSFW). Moral Guardians were majorly upset, and the resulting controversy nearly drove the band's label Alternative Tentacles to bankruptcy.
  • One of the album covers of Electric Lady Land by Jimi Hendrix features a group of nude women. This was done without Hendrix' permission, mind you. It doesn't help that the photograph is very grainy-looking and unflattering.
  • The cover of Diamond Dogs by David Bowie shows a painting depicting Bowie as a man-dog hybrid and a pair of similar individuals. One provocative detail on the cover was Bowie's dog half baring its genitals, which were airbrushed out on some copies, to Bowie's distaste. Bowie would encounter a similar issue 17 years later with Tin Machine II, which had the crotches of the nude male statues on the front cover digitally etched out on the American release, again to the singer's distaste. Amusingly, at one point he considered providing American buyers with an offer to send in proofs of purchase to receive stickers of the statues' genitals in exchange (with the intention of them being stuck back on the scratched-out crotches, thereby de-censoring the album art), only to drop the plan after being informed that sending depictions of genitals through the mail was a serious legal offense.
  • Dum Dum Girls' Blissed Out has a cover featuring three nude women standing in front of fir trees. According to lead singer Dee Dee Penny, it's an image she found online while looking for potential album artwork, and was originally from a German soft-core pornography film; Because Blissed Out was a limited-run, cassette-only compilation, she figured it was the only way she'd get away with using it as an album cover. It's also been interpreted as a Shout-Out to Roxy Music's Country Life, which featured half-naked women in a very similar setting, but the band have never mentioned that being a motivation for choosing the photo.
  • Autre Ne Veut's cover for their Body EP appears to be a close-up of a certain female part, though the artist has stated in interviews that it is in fact a closeup of oiled hands.
  • Several of John Zorn's album covers are controversial, especially those recorded with his bands Naked City and Painkiller.
    • "Torture Garden" (1990) by Naked City shows a nude Asian woman with a whip.
    • "Heretic" (1992) by Naked City shows women photographed from the back in S&M outfits.
    • "Leng Tch'e" (1992) by Naked City shows an image of a real life Chinese slow slicing torture executio method practiced upon a man in 1905.
    • Radio (1993) by Naked City features a man in bondage costume holding on to a chain.
    • "Guts Of A Virgin" (1991) by Painkiller features an old black-and-white autopsy photo of a woman whose stomach is cut open. The cover art was censored in the UK at the time.
    • "Buried Secrets" (1992) by Painkiller shows two handcuffed hands digging up a human skull.
    • "Rituals: Live in Japan" (1991) by Painkiller shows a woman hitting a man in an S&M bondage situation.
    • "Execution Ground" (1994) by Painkiller has a picture of a lynched black man hanging from a tree.
    • The original cover of Music for Children (1998) featured a disturbing girl doll with breasts.
    • "Filmworks XXI: Belle de Nature/The New Rijksmuseum" (2008) features a shot of a nude woman lying on her back in the grass.
  • Iron Maiden is usually renowned for their quite awesome hand-painted album covers, most of them made by artist Derek Riggs. So why are they listed on this page? Because two of their covers, both of which opted for a different visual style and didn't have Riggs involved in their creation, didn't turn out too well. The first was the cover of 1995's The X Factor which used clay models (making it very graphic and unnerving), and the second, more egregious example was 2003's Dance of Death which used downright poor-quality CGI that looks like it was made using The Sims 2 engine. Apparently the Dance of Death cover was only supposed to be a mock-up, and was never intended to be used as the final product, but for some reason, it was.
  • Most pornogrind covers are this.
  • The cover of Sex & Violins by Rednex depicts the band's heads floating in a bucket filled with pee—and we see some legs near the bucket and a stream of it coming down the middle. For its American release, it was substituted with a cover depicting wavy, somewhat phallic-looking cacti.
  • Muzak by Saturnia is literally a picture of a nipple.
  • The sleeve for the single "Infected" by The The depicts the devil enjoying himself, so to speak.
  • One of the Japanese covers for the soundtrack to Muramasa: The Demon Blade has one of Oodako's tentacles covering Momohime's otherwise exposed crotch and her breasts almost falling out of her kimono. Another cover shows Yuzuruha sitting in a seductive pose, lifting her kimono with her foot barely acting as a Scenery Censor, a third has Torahime naked in a Boobs-and-Butt Pose with one arm covering her breasts and her buttocks obscured by her flesh turning transparent, and a forth is of a naked Momohime seen from behind with her shoulders, back, and butt covered in tattoos, glaring over her shoulder while drawing a sword.
  • The debut album of Infernal Torment, an obscure Belgian Death Metal band, named Man's True Nature, had this as its cover. To say that it crosses the line quite a few times is a severe Understatement. (Warning: link is NSFW)
  • The originally intended artwork to Rob Zombie's remix album Mondo Sex Head depicted a bottomless Sheri Moon Zombie from behind. After stores refused to carry the album, a new design featuring a kitten was used, and the photo of Sheri Moon was only used for the vinyl edition - Rob Zombie described the use of the alternate cover as replacing an "ass shot" with a "pussy shot".
  • The Smiths' debut single "Hand In Glove" featured an image of a naked man from behind, a licensed photograph by homoerotic photographer Jim French which was originally published long before the single's release. Morrissey chose the cover art and was deliberately courting controversy with the sleeve. Later on, The Smiths were trying to get vocalist Sandie Shaw to cover some of their material, and at one point they sent her a copy of the "Hand In Glove" single: She did cover the song, but the artwork didn't leave a good initial impression, as she reportedly exclaimed to her husband "he's started sending me pictures of naked men with their bums showing!".
  • Synthwave artist Perturbator has a bad tendency to have these types of covers for his EPs and albums, especially due to them being based off of 80's slasher movies. Practically all of them have some sort of a scantily clad woman on there somewhere, sometimes with satanic imagery in tow; for example, The Uncanny Valley's sole figure is a nude succubus.
  • The Sex Pistols' only album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, was the subject of a public obscenity case regarding the word "bollocks" which was later thrown out. When God Save the Queen was released as a single, it caused even more controversy when the cover art featured a defaced depiction of Queen Elizabeth II.
  • The Seer by the Swans is an example of a Contemptible Back Cover. The front cover, which shows a stylized wolf head, isn't likely to cause offense. The back cover, which shows the wolf's butthole, on the other hand...
  • While not featuring any nudity, New Killer America, the debut album by the short-lived Nu Metal band Skrape more than makes up for it by giving us this lovely image of a busted toe. Their second (and final) album Up the Dose thankfully features much more subdued imagery.
  • The cover of Royal Trux's Sweet Sixteen shows a broken toilet with all sorts of lovely things inside it, including used toilet paper and what looks like a combination of puke and diarrhea. Don't click on the link unless you have a stomach of iron.
  • The self-titled debut album by Moby Grape featured a group photo of the band, with drummer Don Stevenson Flipping the Bird to the camera. Initial pressings of the album featured the undoctored photo, but the offending digit was airbrushed out for later pressings.
  • The original release of 8-Way Santa by Tad featured an extremely 70s found photo of a shirtless man fondling a woman in her underwear. Later pressings used a photo of the band, not because the original was too risque but because the woman in the photo found out and threatened to sue.
  • The original back cover for Hawkwind's PXR5 was censored not for reasons of sex or violence, but safety. The picture showed a British electrical plug - the self-wiring kind, from the days before plugs came pre-fitted to appliances - with the wires attached to the wrong terminals. A spoof health warning beneath the picture read "This Wiring Could Seriously Damage Your Health". Soon after that, record stores were forced to sell the album with a blank sticker covering the image, and reissues omitted it, although the front cover still included elements from it. The Cherry Red CD reissue restores the original image - slightly cropped and without the health warning, but still showing the Earth wire attached to the Live pin.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A certain French RPG sourcebook from the early 1990s (L'Empire ténébreux) featured a vivisection chamber where doctors from some bipedal reptiloid species (more specifically, humans wearing a mask) dissect screaming naked human beings who have been flayed alive. The centerpiece involves a woman whose howling face has been stripped to the muscle, yet whose bare breasts remain somewhat intact. How such a cover made it out the door, much less onto store shelves, even in Europe, remains a mystery.
  • Exalted has one notorious example where the focus of the picture seems to be the crotch of the scantily-clad and strangely disproportionate woman on it. Just to add insult to injury, fans had been saying for months that the artist who drew that mess, Hyung-Tae Kim, would be perfect for Exalted. They apparently forgot to add "... with a sane editor guiding him".
  • Vampire: The Masquerade:
    • While it's certainly not cheesecake, a certain image on the back cover of the Tzimisce clanbook led to the book being sold in many stores in a solid black porn-bag. In-house artist Joshua Gabriel Timbrook had supposedly been chewed out for running late on the deadline, so he dashed the image off, handed it in, and went home the evening the book left for press.
    • The BDSM-tinged cover for the supplement Ghouls: Fatal Addiction, while not out of line with the content, is considered a bit much by many gamers. Ghouls inspire a lot of BDSM-related content (in the corebook, the picture accompanying the text about them is a out-and-out slave auction); this is just what happens when it comes full-flower.
  • GURPS:
    • Among 3rd edition books, the naked sorceress on GURPS Wizards rather sticks out among otherwise sensible covers.
    • The proposed covers for the 4th edition were so poorly received that Steve Jackson Games ran a design contest to replace them. An unfortunately-shaped rocket launcher dubbed the "dildo gun" became a meme.
  • Nearly all of the supplements for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition produced by Avalanche Press have a Heavy Metal-style cover (some by actual Heavy Metal artists) that have almost nothing to do with the book's contents. And the models for those covers? Actual porn stars. Really.
  • The fourth book of the Dragon Warriors RPG paperbacks, Out of the Shadows, features a female mage surrounded by snakes with Absolute Cleavage who does not appear in any of the following: the character class (Assassin) featured in the book; the monster write-ups; the sample adventures. Those are all the book contains.
  • The first edition cover for Ironclaw is a fan-art of Lina and Naga from Slayers as a fox and a wolf, Naga dancing in the background in her signature dental floss.

    Video Games 
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The cover of Arena. Forget about the engaging Wide Open Sandbox: on this cover, there's a barbarian girl in skanky Stripperiffic Breast Plates, the likes of which appears nowhere in the rather Fanserviceless game. Arena was originally intended to be Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a fantasy gladiatorial RPG. It was only midway through the project's development that it began to evolve into the open-world of Tamriel, based off of the developer's home-brew D&D setting. Given that the cover, along with the title of the game, was designed early on for marketing purposes, it's actually rather appropriate. The French cover of Arena depicts a Mr. Fanservice-looking dude, along with a wizard companion nowhere to be found in the game, preparing to slay some goblins.
    • Daggerfall was luckier in this respect, featuring a rendition of the Underking clawing at the cover.
    • Morrowind is where the series' settled on the Minimalistic Cover Art it is now known for, averting it ever since.
    • The cover of Battlespire goes all three ways at once: it's significant (weapon and enemy show-off), minimalistic, and features the Sexy Silhouette of a Daedra Seducer.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines' cover prominently features the blonde-haired, big-boobed, pigtailed, mini skirt wearing, Lesbian Vampire Jeanette Voerman looking alluringly at the viewer while showing off her backside. Obviously, this was done for Fanservice purposes, since she's only a minor character and only shows up for about a third of the plot. To add insult to injury, Jeanette doesn't even exist outside of her sister's broken mind. They already had a live person (Erin Layne) modeling Jeanette for some fanservicey promotional material, which at least helps explain the choice of character.
  • Phantasy Star II ended up with this cover. Is that middle-aged man with the rifle and that lady with the demon horns supposed to be the player character and Nei?
  • Most of the Master System's early box art in Western regions counts. While Nintendo used pixelated images to evoke the game's graphics in their NES releases, Sega instead went with a motif of a pure white case overlaid with a graph paper-esque grid, with a small cartoony image often pushed to the side. Black Belt probably got the worst of it, just being a foot kicking.
  • Really, this was the norm for localized Sega games back in the day, especially RPGs. It would be faster to list games that don't suffer from this.
  • The North American box art for Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle turns Alex from a cute kid with vaguely simian features into an incredibly stupid-looking dork that resembles a cross between Mortimer Snerd and the Bob's Big Boy mascot.
  • Scrolling Space Shooter Phalanx gave the world an infamous example. The fact that the cover is predominated by an old man playing a banjo and the spaceship he's startled by is little more than a subtle afterthought is funny enough, but what makes it even better (worse?) is that it still features that tagline, "The Hyper-Speed Shoot-Out in Space!", which is surprisingly correct- the seventh level does feature a hyper-speed shoot-out in space! This was apparently changed for the American release in light of what the original Japanese art was. Their official reason was to make Phalanx stand out among a market glutted with similar shooters, but the Japanese cover makes it obvious that they had to do something with it.
  • Ailish features prominently on the box art and disc of Sudeki, but the main character is arguably Tal. Ailish does get a decent role in the game however, but she, strangely enough, manages to get less sexually appealing through the course of the game because she gets progressively more modest outfits.
  • Every single installment of Spellforce series has a scantily clad woman in the cover art. At least she's often a plot relevant NPC.
  • The Mystery of the Druids, a rather average adventure game remembered for its hilarious, memeworthy box art and absolutely nothing else. Hell, most of the people who still remember this game even exists have probably never played it. It does however provide a pretty accurate impression of what you're getting for your money, because the Druid character in the opening cutscene really does look like that.
  • Acclaim did this twice with their localization of the Puzzle Bobble series, dumping the cute characters for creepy men with sticks over their eyelids and a close-up of an uncute baby with sunglasses, blowing a bubble at separate points.
  • The infamous box art of the first Suikoden game resembles the cover of a bad fantasy novel.
    • With a Fu Manchu guy, the only thing that's accurate is the three-headed monster (which is just a random mook)
    • Girl-on-Right appears suitably embarrassed to even be there.
    • Making this even more inexplicable, the Japanese version has a completely serviceable cover that would've worked equally well for the US version — a white plane with the game's name and a circle containing on-model depictions of as many of the game's Loads and Loads of Characters they could conceivably fit in it. (Said cover actually does appear on the front of the US version's instruction manual, which is inside the two disc sized jewel casing.)
  • The box art of Karnaaj Rally is so notoriously ridiculous that it made Seanbaby infamously review this game solely based on the cover. After he eventually played it and found it a not very bad game, he congratulated the graphic artists for tricking him into avoiding it.
  • The hilariously over the top North American Mega Man NES boxart. He looks like a painted lobster.
  • Feel the Magic is hit doubly here. If either the title was changed, or the bikini-wearing girl on the cover was replaced, it wouldn't do much more than raise eyebrows. Unless the title change was to the one actually used in Europe, "Project Rub". Together, they unfairly make the game look like a sex simulator. To be totally fair, though, the game itself has heavy erotic themes (and the bikini-wearing girl is the female lead), so it's not that out of place. For that matter, it's toned down from the Japanese version if anything, where the bikini-wearing girl is nude, and the title is the significantly-more-provocative "I Would Die For You".
  • For the European box art for BlazBlue, the distributors organized a contest on NeoGAF and let fans vote in on whose artwork would be shown off on the box. This was the winning submission, but when the distributors got in contact with the artist, they decided to use a drawing of Noel instead. This Boobs-and-Butt Pose was the result. Complete with a tacked-on placeholder logo to boot.
  • The North American release of Deadly Premonition is reviled by fans for its "Silent Hill knock off" cover, which ignores the fact that the game is an open sandbox mystery, and aims for a more Lynchian brand of horror.
  • Most covers for Amnesia: The Dark Descent are tastefully done, but the box art for a particular North American release has a monster stalking you on the front cover... and it's ridiculous. It looks more like a duck quacking at you than a horribly deformed monster stalking you in one of the most creepy games to have come out in recent years. It also completely defies the winning formula the game has of making the creature scarier by not allowing you, the player, to get a good look at it. And the man on the cover looks like he came from the present, even though the game is firmly set in the early 19th century.
  • Divine Divinity features a goddess on its cover that is seen for like 20 seconds in the intro and nowhere else.
  • The Guardian Legend was distributed in North America by Brøderbund Software, who gave it this rather disturbing cover. It has nothing to do with the game, but greatly resembles the poster for the 1985 SF/horror movie Creature.
  • Blake Stone: Planet Strike was Apogee Software's first retail title and, at the request of the publisher Formgen, the box art depicts Blake with a BondGirl. This was a strange choice since there are no rescue missions for you to get the girl; the game plays like any other FPS.
  • Three of the covers for Muramasa: The Demon Blade's soundtrack depict female characters Momohime, Torahime, and Yuzuruha in highly suggestive and underdressed poses.
  • The Japanese cover of Mister Mosquito shows a photograph of someone's foot with a mosquito crawling over their pinky toe.
  • Akane the Kunoichi is an otherwise adorable Retraux side-scroller that for some reason features a sexy anime-style illustration of the main character in a very breast-exposing outfit on the cover and also featured prominently whenever you perform a special attack. Apparently they were really proud of that one drawing, to the point of using it over and over (again to re-emphasize, the entire game otherwise uses 16-bit graphics with the main character portrayed as an adorable inch-tall chibi sprite).
  • The artwork used to advertise Dinamic's 8-bit computer game Game Over (a Luis Royo piece originally used for Heavy Metal) caused a bit of a scandal when it was imported to the UK, where the leading ZX Spectrum magazines each handled it differently: while Your Sinclair magazine had the audacity to print it as a poster, partially exposed nipples and all, Sinclair User decided to Censor Box the offending area with a large Dinamic logo, and Crash had staff illustrator Oliver Frey subtly redraw the bustier's cups to be slightly less revealing while still showing Absolute Cleavage.
  • Cheggers' Party Quiz, featuring an Uncanny Valley CGI caricature of Keith Chegwin. Some versions of the game, however, downplay Cheggers' role on the cover.
  • BioShock Infinite's cover drew a fair amount of contempt for being too "generic modern shooter" for fans of the series. Word of God admitted that it was done to appeal to the Lowest Common Denominator and get more sales, but the game itself wasn't going to receive the same treatment. The game even shipped with a reversible cover, with a much more stylish one on the other side fitting the tone of the game.
  • Similarly, the cover for DOOM (2016) was lambasted for being an incredibly generic sepia-tinted "man-in-armor with gun" pose and nothing else. There was eventually a Twitter poll held by the developers for new art that would be on the reverse of the cover. The new art proved so popular that it replaced the old art for the Nintendo Switch port.

  • The Chapter 1 cover for Blood Stain shows the Absent-Minded Professor character creepily reaching for the young, female protagonist from behind. Okay, so the work pretends to be a Gothic Horror before dissolving into a pleasant slice-of-life comedy, but the cover does not help with first impressions.

    Web Original 
  • These are typically tagged as "bringing sexy back" and "wink wink nudge nudge" on, which also makes fun of a great many other kinds of execrable book covers such as those containing blatantly stolen images (tag: "image search gone wrong"), highly visible image compression artifacts (tag: "pixelation"), and horribly stretched or squished pictures (tag: "aspect ratio"), among other hideous and often offensive design failings. Basically, the site runs on this trope.
  • Similarly, Good Show Sir, which specializes in science fiction and fantasy, has tags like "hunkbutt", "devil's dumplings" and "starkers" for these. Though the last one is sometimes Fan Disservice, as the naked ladies are not all human. Or ladies, for that matter.
  • Discussed in Two Best Friends Funtime Adventures: "Draw or Die". Matt and Pat somehow wind up in an otherworldly museum of videogame cover art. The final exhibit, implied to be the greatest cover art of all time, is the European/Japanese cover of ICO. Matt, however, thinks this is boring, and insists the (much maligned) American cover art is much better because it features "a badass viking kid". Matt and Pat end up coming to blows over the disagreement.
  • A trend in video thumbnails is lampshaded with lampshaded in this video from CollegeHumor. "It doesn't matter what the video is about; just have a butt in the thumbnail and people will watch it." Since the video has nearly 2 million views, it's proven itself.
  • Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, a website that reviews romance novels, has a regular "Cover Snark" feature where they mock lurid, trashy, poorly Photoshopped, and/or just plain WTF-worthy romance book covers.

  • A more lowbrow than sexy example: Anti Monkey Butt. Their products (a line of anti-chafing powders and lotions) work quite well, but their packaging (which features a goofy-looking cartoon monkey sprinkling powder onto its enormous, red, swollen butt) can make one think twice before taking them to the checkout.


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