Follow TV Tropes


Gorgeous Gorgon

Go To
Wait, this is the hideous beast? But her snake hair is beautiful.

"I think it's incredibly hard to find a contemporary Medusa that is asexual. The best example I have ever come across is the Lego version, we see her briefly in The LEGO Movie. And to be fair, Lego Medusa is not minxy. But almost every other version of modern Medusa, she's played by a model, she's played by Uma Thurman, she's played by Rihanna. She's somebody incredibly gorgeous, and at the same time, like you say, she has this monstrous hair, and that's the thing we're supposed to respond to, I think, the combination."
Natalie Haynes, Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics, "Medusa"

Passing through Adventure Town, The Hero hears from the Quest Giver that there's a hideous she-monster bedeviling the town. A creature so ugly she can stun those looking at her and make them wish they'd brought their brown pants, she's so repulsive. The worst part is that her monstrous mien is like a car-wreck, you can't look away. This may be compounded by her hypnotic gaze... which can be triply bad if it can also turn onlookers into stone.

Except, once the hero actually sees her... she's actually rather pretty. Sure, she has snakes for hair, glowing red eyes, fanged teeth, bat wings, and scaled skin... but her face is perfectly symmetrical, even classically beautiful. The snake-hair is actually rather playful, and her scales are colored not like a deadly coral snake, but opaline. Scaly her face may be, but the scales will be delicate, tinted like cosmetics. And she has curves, to be sure (if peculiarly serpentine ones), but that may make it harder to get the hero to meet her gaze...

The hero has just met the Gorgeous Gorgon. Her beauty can be due to one of four causes. The most common is that she merely has an Informed Flaw in the form of her ugliness, much like older actors are treated as if they were teens due to Dawson Casting. Everyone reacts like she's ugly and says so, but the viewer doesn't really see why. Or that touch of human appearance causes the whole thing to slip from just being a monster headlong into Uncanny Valley Girl territory due to the dichotomy. Alternately, she may be using some form of Voluntary Shape Shifting or magical glamour to appear more beautiful than she naturally is in order to confuse the hero. The more subtle interpretation is that the townsfolk have Flanderized her ugliness because she's, well, a monster. This may be explained by her inhuman features and the fact that, if we were to meet a person with a snake tail or four arms in real life (for example), we would be scared too, or at least greatly surprised and startled.

If the latter, this usually presents one of two alternatives.

One, the ugliness is played up by the superstitious townsfolk, who are so scared of her appearance (or unintentional dangerousness) that none of them bothered to notice she's actually a Reluctant Monster and very lonely. This Gorgeous Gorgon will likely prove friendly and even pull a Heel–Face Turn (if "evil" to start with) when shown some compassion.

Two, the "beauty" is only scale-deep. This creature is much like Daddy's Little Villain, she is evil through and through, and hides it behind an angelic (scaled) face to confuse victims. She'll try to win the hero's pity before mating, killing, and then eating him. (And if he's very lucky, it'll be ...In That Order). This Gorgeous Gorgon is perfectly fine to kill. These two alternatives can be seen as playing with Beauty Equals Goodness.

Another less-often but still used trope is that the Gorgeous Gorgon pissed somebody off by being so good looking, and was subsequently transformed into a monster. The transformation, though, wasn't quite enough to make her ugly.

The title of this trope itself, by the way, has solid foundations in later interpretations of Greek Myth where the Gorgons became Progressively Prettier, at least in literature if not art. In the oldest versions of the Gorgon legends, they were said to be hideous-looking, hence Medusa's classic snake hair and scaled face. Older depictions show them with bulging eyes and fangs, with evil grimaces (often considered a direct comparison to a rotting corpse). However, as centuries passed, many tellings had the Gorgons as mortal women more lovely than Aphrodite, causing that goddess to curse them such that any who saw their loveliness would be turned to stone. Others went so far as to say the Gorgons were so beautiful, their faces could stop men's hearts. Another version, first recorded in Ovid's Metamorphoses, is that Medusa was originally a beautiful temple maiden, and Neptune was so captivated by her beauty that the two became lovers, going as far as to have hanky-panky in Minerva's temple (where Medusa was the high priestess). Minerva, disgusted that the maiden would do this, turned her into a Gorgon as punishment. A harsher variation on this claims that Medusa wasn't a willing participant, but Minerva chose to punish her anyway because she couldn't punish Neptune (although a softer variant of this harsher variant is Minerva transforming Medusa to protect her from Neptune).

It's worth repeating that, despite Gorgon being in the trope name, other types of monsters and genders can have this apply. Do note that some researchers have linked the gorgons to pre-greek solar goddesses, making this a Cyclical Trope.

Note that while much "classical" art portrays Medusa (after her change) as horrifically butt-ugly, the whole Cute Monster Girl and Not Evil, Just Misunderstood thingie is a fairly old interpretation, although more prominent in modern takes.

Related to Cute Monster Girl and Hollywood Homely. Compare Beauty to Beast, Bishōnen Line, Freakiness Shame, and You Sexy Beast. See also Snakes Are Sexy. For the trope about Gorgons, see Medusa.


    open/close all folders 

  • The 2021 Amazon Prime commercial in which Medusa buys sunglasses, and becomes the life of the party (but doesn't hesitate to petrify someone who is annoying her and her new friends).

    Anime & Manga 
  • In the second season of Bakemonogatari Nadeko becomes a medusa-themed snake goddess. She still looks very pretty aside from snakes for hair, but then a thematic point is that her innocent looks conceal something monstrous she keeps hidden.
  • Berserk has Slan and several female Apostles who qualify. Like everything else in Berserk, this trope is also playing with.
  • The character Medusa of Dropkick on My Devil is a gorgon devil though doesn't have the trademark snake hair. However she can still turn people to stone, not because she's ugly but because she's too cute (though thankfully the stone paralysis is temporary and will wear off). Thus when out in public she wears a paper bag on her head.
  • Lucy and the other diclonius from Elfen Lied are frequently reinforced as non-human, horned killing machines that are dire threats to everyone around them and the doom of mankind...and they're pink haired Woobies with cute little horns. Yes, they may also be horned psychopaths with a genocidal instinct against mankind and able to project kinetic arms capable of ripping apart armoured soldiers as if they were made of paper...and Lucy does this lots of times, but then there's her other personality, Nyu, who is harmless, innocent, and kind.
  • In Fate/stay night Rider 's true name is Medusa and she is rather attractive. However, this appearance is also due to her Class, and her Gorgon form isn't as cute.
  • In the 1970's anime version of Getter Robo G, Hotaru, a member of the Hundred Demon Empire, is an attractive blonde woman with a horn sticking out of her forehead.
  • In Masamune Shirow's commentary for a picture of a Nubile Savage with dreadlocks in his artbook Intron Depot 2: Blades, he suggests that the legend of the Gorgons may have been inspired by this type of hairstyle.
  • A borderline example happens in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's: the Book of Darkness is supposed to be a planet-destroying timebomb inhabited by an Eldritch Abomination... and it is, except that it also has a soul, a beautiful sad woman who in no way wants to destroy anyone or anything. And the heroes have to kill seal her.
  • Mekakucity Actors: Azami and her daughter Shion are both Medusae (albeit Shion is a Half-Human Hybrid). They look like this. And they're both treated like monsters for it. Shion's daughter, Mary, meanwhile is a Cute Monster Girl.
  • Monster Musume: The Gorgon subspecies of lamia are as attractive as is normal for the series. A racial trait of theirs, however, is they all near-constantly have a withering glower on their face, one so intense it's been known to freeze people in place. It's because they all have bad eyesight, forcing them to squint. When Kimihito meets women from the modern Gorgon tribe, they seem to not have this problem because they all wear glasses, instead making them a tribe of Meganekko.
  • 'Inner Moka' from Rosario + Vampire is supposedly a terrifying 'super-vampire', a monster that even other monsters fear. She looks like this.
    • An actual gorgon also appears in the series. And later, a lamia appears...and she's one of the most beautiful monsters of all...well, from the waist up, anyway.
  • The character Medusa in Soul Eater is actually called The Lady of Gorgon. Not only does she fit the trope name, but she is also quite beautiful, in that creepy, wicked sort of way. While she does not have snakes for hair, she does control and manipulate vectors in the forms of snakes and arrows. At one point in the series, she possesses the body of an extremely cute little girl, further enforcing this trope as a monster in the body of an innocent, adorable child.
    • Her sister, Arachne, also fits the trope. She's beautiful and large-breasted with a spider web in her eye.
    • Her other sister's unusual textured hair and irises bring her closer to the monstrous look, but is still quite attractive.

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • Black Dynamite: Parodied in one comic when our intrepid hero battles Medusa and No-Sells her petrifying gaze because... well, because he isn't looking at her face. As the man himself says, he can't be turned to stone because he's already rock-hard.
  • Creature Commandos: Dr. Myrra Rhodes—a.k.a. Dr. Medusa—was a plastic surgeon who was transformed intto a snale-haired freak by a Freak Lab Accident. Apart from the snakes for hair, she reamined a very attractive woman. (And, no, her snakes could not turn people to stone.)
  • Darna: Valentina, the most iconic villain in Filipino comic book history.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: One story has Magica (in disguise) tell Huey, Dewey and Louie that Medusa in fact was so beautiful that men turned to stone by looking at her, and all mirrors shattered if she looked in them. This sets off her plan of the week, a mirror that can not only take Medusa's stare, but also slowly consume those who look in it, as they can't look away. We never get to see how she looks.
  • The Incredible Hercules: Played literally, in which Delphyne is a Gorgon born and bred, with snakes for hair and scaly skin, and also the love interest of Hercules' sidekick Amadeus Cho. As it turns out, not all Gorgons have the petrifying gaze.
  • Mystic: Animora was once one of the most beautiful among The First (the "gods" of the CrossGen universe), until in her vanity and ambition she attempted to challenge Ingra. After utterly defeating her, Ingra let her live but changed her appearance to that of a monster, with just enough of her old beauty left to remind Animora of what she once was and never again will be. Animora's ally Arroh (Darrow) actually likes the scaly look better, lampshaded by Animora herself after Giselle accidentally removes the seal on Animora's powers, enabling her to recover.
  • Superman: In the comics, at least before Crisis on Infinite Earths, the facet-skinned Bizarros were odd-looking, but never as ugly as everyone seemed to react to them as being. The Bizarro Loises, in particular, were usually drawn with attractive figures and really nice legs (they were all imperfect copies of Lois, after all).
  • Wonder Woman: In Wonder Woman (1987), Medusa herself was briefly resurrected by Circe. When one character remarks that she does not look at all ugly, Medusa lashes out that such stories were lies started by Athena.
  • X-Men: Nightcrawler is supposed to be demonic looking enough that the vast majority of people think of him as a literal demon upon seeing him. Though the personality is (usually) enough to change people's opinions of him, it doesn't change the fact that he's sometimes drawn as a rather attractive blue elf, Depending on the Artist. Other times he has skin (or fur) so dark it's almost black, glowing yellow eyes, and a pointed tail. Throw in the smell of brimstone that's a side effect of his powers, and his features may be symmetrical and healthy in terms of attractiveness, but he's living in a setting in which All the Other Reindeer has been enacted into law at various times.

    Fan Works 
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic crowd has the fan-species of "lamias", also known as "naga ponies" or variants thereof. These are depicted as having a giant serpent's tail replacing the lower half of their body, and their upper half looking like a regular pony (sometimes with the addition of serpentine eyes, fangs, a forked tongue or, in the case of explicitly medusa-based characters, a mane of snakes). As such, most pony lamias look as cute (or even outright sexy) as any other pony character, even though they have a strong tendency to be associated with the vore fetish and so often get characterized as sadistic cannibals. There are, of course, plenty of exceptions, resulting in lamias who are genuinely sweet characters. For example, the artist Badumsquish has his lamia OC "Kalianne", who is based on the highly poisonous Malaysian Coral Snake, but is cute and never depicted as anything but incredibly friendly, gentle, and kindhearted. He even has his own depiction of pony lamia version of Medusa called "Maredusa" who eagerly seizes the opportunity to flirt with a blind stallion. The artist answered people's concerns regarding whether or not she was dangerous by pointing out he'd "rather enjoy her company than the company of the ponies who left a blind man alone with a monster".
  • In So You Think You Had A Bad Hair Day, more is revealed, by A.A. Pessimal, about the gorgon who joins the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. Euryale is not unattractive by conventional standards. But she does complain that in two thousand years the only serious boyfriend she had was a hydra. Who really wanted a relationship with her snakes...note 
  • Solaron, protagonist in the Dungeons & Dragons story The Tale of Solaron, is a rare male example of this trope. Given that he is able to seduce most any lady he talks to he seems quite attractive by human standards.
  • The gorgons who appear in Shadowchasers Series are rather attractive if you can get past the snake-hair. (Because interaction with humans is impossible in this reality, a gorgon can use simple dark sunglasses to render her gaze harmless.)
  • White Sheep (RWBY): Salem, the immortal Queen of the Grimm, bathed in the unholy Pools of Annihilation and gained deathly white skin, glowing red eyes, and Tainted Veins. But before all that, she was the World's Most Beautiful Woman, so she's still drop-dead gorgeous. The Tainted Veins even go away when she's happy (which is all the time, now). In the backstory, when she captured Nicholas Arc his Last Request was to have sex with her, and when Oscar meets her he is shocked that her ex-husband never mentioned how beautiful she was.
    Oscar: You left that? Were you insane?

    Film — Animation 
  • The 2007 animated film adaptation of Beowulf changes Grendel's mother from an ogre-ish sea-monster to a shapeshifter who appears as a beautiful woman based on her voice actress, Angelina Jolie. It's implied that her true form is vaguely draconian, however — hints to golden scales, claws, and a tail are seen in the background, and even in human form, she still has wicked talons in her feet that amusingly double as natural high heels. Her true form is actually more serpentine than draconic, and can be viewed here. Warning, spoilers so spoilery that they aren't even spoiled in the movie. Her action figure also shows her true form, and she can actually be seen briefly in the movie, posing with her treasure hoard. Squick ahoy! Her real face is also seen reflected in a shield at the end of her first scene talking with Grendel.
  • Mike from Monsters, Inc. was in a relationship with Celia, a gorgon with very playful snake hair.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Grendel's mother gets the same treatment in the 1999 adaptation of Beowulf (which was only very loosely based on the original poem) where she is played by model Layla Roberts. Again, she can appear beautiful (in which case she resemble Roberts) but her true form is a large, red, spider-like monster.
  • Deliberately subverted in 1981's Clash of the Titans. Ray Harryhausen felt that a woman with snakes in her hair was not monstrous enough, so he turned Medusa into a scaly, serpent-tailed, crone-like horror with fangs and Glowing Eyes of Doom that turned people to stone.
  • The 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans still has her as a scaly, serpent-tailed thing, but as pictured atop this page, she has a very pretty face due to being played by Russian model Natalia Vodianova. However, when she goes to turn men to stone, her entire face changes into something a lot less attractive. Justified, as this Medusa's origin was that of the beautiful temple maiden. With the added twist that Poseidon was so taken with her beauty he raped her, and Athena then cursed her for letting it happen.
  • The gorgon from the Hammer Horror film The Gorgon is not played by the most attractive actress in the world and has some rather pale and heavy scale makeup, but she's not exactly hideous. And that's only when she's in her gorgon form. The actress who plays her human form has the sort of looks you'd expect from the lead actress in a movie.
  • Lady Marsh from The Lair of the White Worm is a reptilian vampire, but is still played by the beautiful Amanda Donohoe.
  • The climax of Once Upon a Warrior sees Sorcerous Overlord Irendri attaining a powerful, Scaled Up form after a ritual, which changes her into a gorgon-like form with a shapely, humanoid body. Her face in particular has a mix of human and serpentine features.
  • The Medusa from the movie adaptation of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief: Uma Thurman with snake hair. This one is particularly bad as Medusa was described as hideous in the book, like in some of the myths.
  • TerrorVision has an Elvira expy in the person of Medusa, a buxom horror show host played by model Jennifer Richards in a Medusa dress.

  • Max Fraj's Chronicles of Yeho features the protagonist's encounter with an incomplete Reluctant Monster example - a girl who encounters an unknown wizard in her dreams, who casts some sort of spell on her eyes. The girl awakens with an always-on petrifying gaze and barely manages to lock herself in a cellar while keeping her eyes firmly closed. The protagonist's ability to summon random items lucks out — he had previously summoned sunglasses.
  • The main character of the Spanish novel La Dama Del Alba (The Lady Of The Dawn) was Death herself, but she looked like a reasonably attractive woman and actually envied mortals because they could love - everything she touched died.
  • Not a Gorgon, but in Divine Blood Eija Semezou is a gothically beautiful Japanese-Greek girl with an aura that terrifies most people that come near her. For further fun, its noted that the aura is pretty much useless against some of the more dangerous people while making normally harmless people dangerous. It's suggested she might grow out of it when she gets more control of her powers, but pointed out that she already has more control than most adults. She has a bit of a phobia when dealing with crowds, but it's hard to tell if the phobia resulted from the aura, in which case it's rather reasonable, or the aura resulted from the phobia.
  • Tara, the mysterious new girl in Dread Locks is described as quite beautiful. However, only Parker knows Tara is a Gorgon as very few people, including the ones she turns to stone, what she really is.
  • In The Laundry Files, "gorgonism" strikes humans randomly, from old South Asian grandmothers to young attractive middle-class girls (presumably, males also). When a gorgon looks upon a target, her gaze turns some of the target's carbon atoms into silicon, resulting in instant flaming death. Gazing upon a gorgon whose eyes are closed or covered, on the other hand, has no effect.
  • The Shambleau in the classic Northwest Smith story of the same name by C. L. Moore. She is terrifying, hugely desirable and addictive to the protagonist. The Shambleau is pretty much the intersection of Gorgeous Gorgon and Humanoid Abomination, though her natural state while feeding is a tentacled monster.
  • Played for Comedy in Oracle of Tao. One of the bounty hunts is a shy medusa. She is a cute shy girl with some serious hangups about making eye contact. The party gets her to be more confident in her beauty and look people in the eye... which has all the predicted results.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: In A Storm of Swords, woods witch The Ghost of High Heart describes seeing a vision of "a maid at a feast with purple serpents in her hair, venom dripping from their fangs." It later becomes clear that this was meant to represent Sansa Stark at King Joffrey's wedding feast, where she wore a hairnet encrusted with purple gemstones, one of which, unknowingly to her, contained a poison that was used to assassinate Joffrey.
  • Voyage of the Basset portrays Medusa like this. Link to the other wiki Voyage of the Basset here.
  • The Gorgon in the Xanth series is pretty and the Reluctant Monster version. The petrification was the result of her magical talent, which she couldn't turn off. She eventually married Magician Humphrey, who gave her a magic veil that rendered her face invisible. She found at least one practical use for her talent — glaring at pans of milk to make 'gorgon-zola cheese', which was noted by Dolph to be a little crumbly.
  • Taura from the Vorkosigan Saga, when she's first introduced. Her debut story, "Labyrinth," is, as the title and Taura's own name suggest, a riff on the myth of the Minotaur, with the twist that the "monster in the maze" is a sympathetic and not unattractive eight foot tall bioengineered teenage werewolf-girl.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In American Horror Story: Roanoke, this is Played With - the actress who plays Scáthach is played by Lady Gaga, and as such, is still attractive despite the attempts to make her appear disheveled and wild. This is averted in Return to Roanoke, where we are shown the real Scáthach, who appears much less like a woman and more like a thing.
  • Although she would be more a a Cute Gorgon due to her age Chyna in the Alternate Universe version of A.N.T. Farm qualifies as this.
  • An episode of Blood Ties (2007) involves a Medusa who was a very beautiful woman. The characters specifically mention that she was so beautiful that a god raped her on the steps of Athena's temple. Athena got pissed off and turned her into a monster. (Actually, this was how it happened in actual mythology, at least in one version; the god in question was Poseidon). Hence Medusa's hate for anyone who thinks she's beautiful. She actually liked Mike because he seemed to genuinely care about her rather than her looks. She would seduce male models (usually younger than her), be their sugar mama, and then turn them into stone out of spite. When Vicki finds the statue of her latest victim, she takes it back to her office, only for the medusa's Mook to break in and destroy it. Apparently, not even vampires are immune to her stone gaze. After Vicki takes her head with a sword, all victims (except for the crushed one) are fine.
  • Natira, Scorpius's mistress on Farscape. She's even referred to as "Medusa" by Crichton.
  • The She-Demon in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys is the closest we ever get to see a Gorgon in the show; is a beautiful blond woman that seduces man and turn them into rock by touching them with her hidden snake tail.
  • An episode of Land of the Lost (1974) had a Medusa that could turn into an attractive woman.
  • Li'l Horrors has Medusilla Venimski, a pretty monster based on (and named for) the youngest of three gorgons, Medusa. Very vain as she often admires her beauty, which does not turn others (or herself) to stone, unlike the ugliness of her namesake. Her hair can talk as well, as evidenced in several episodes.
  • Special Unit 2 had medusae Links, two extremely attractive sisters who would pick up guys in a bar, take them to their place, and turn them into stone. Going undercover, O'Malley has to decide which of the two pairs of girls were the Links and which simply wanted a threesome with him. He guesses right: whichever pair is going to go to any lengths to get him. The other girls were a little new at this.
  • The Medusans from the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Is There in Truth No Beauty?": you'll be driven insane just by looking at them. They're actually quite friendly, and it's not their fault they make you go crazy when you look at them.
  • In a Tales from the Darkside episode entitled "Miss May Dusa", an attractive and relatively normal looking gorgon awakens after having spent several centuries as a mannequin. She meets up with a blind musician in a subway and shares her sad story, only to catch her own reflection and end up back where she started.
  • Medusa in Voyage of the Unicorn, played by Eurasian actress Kira Clavell.

  • In Menotti's Unicorn, Gorgon, and Manticore, when the secluded mad scientist lies to the townspeople and tells them that he's killed his Gorgon, the townspeople wail over "The gorgeous, gorgeous Gorgon, the pride of his age!" (These are the same townspeople who previously believed the Gorgon was the ugliest creature they'd ever seen.)
  • The video for "Almost Love" by Sabrina Carpenter has a variation where a group of attractive young women put on special lipstick that turns the boys they kiss into statues.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • EMLL's Medusa who wrestled in the 1980s was a very pretty lady. Not the case with the Medusa of the 2000s, who became more intimidating without her mask (as intimidating as a jobber can be), until she lost her hair.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The game has Medusas, which can seduce you with their legs and then turn you to stone. Also, Mariliths, Erinyes, Succubi... Of course, whether a Medusa is truly beautiful or not in this game is Depending on the Artist (and the current edition of the game). Some pictures of them depict them as beautiful, shapely women (other than the snakes for hair); others, however, make them reptilian creatures with scaly skin and faces that can even be demonic-looking.
      • This is taken to its logical extreme by Medusas in 5th Edition. They are supernaturally beautiful because in that edition, a Medusa is the result of an extremely vain person making a Deal with the Devil for beauty. They get their wish, but eventually they become cursed for their arrogance and become a Medusa. They retain their looks, but it's now a cursed beauty as anyone who dares to look at their beauty gets the usual result. This includes the Medusa, too: they can't look away from their reflection if they see it, and it will turn them to stone.
    • On the other hand, Nymphs use their beauty as a weapon... it's the last thing any trespasser looking at them sees. Well, usually, nymphs are A) highly charismatic (low to mid 20s) and B) naked. Some editions say that looking at a clothed nymph will blind you, but looking at a nude one will kill you.
    • Mariliths are this, Depending on the Artist. Sometimes, their upper bodies are beautiful women, sometimes, they're fairly ugly snake people all the way through. Since demons are made of concentrated evil and chaos, it's implied that both forms are perfectly normal. Mariliths, being demons, can shape change pretty much at will, so they look pretty much how they want to. Except those enslaved to a more powerful demon, who look pretty much how their master wants them to look.
    • Likewise lamias, unlike their fairly monstrous namesake from Classical Mythology, are basically centaurlike (only with a feline lower body) and attractive enough (both males and females) that they use their looks regularly to lure people to their doom.
    • In the Ravenloft setting, there is Althea, the darklord of Demise, a medusa. A journal entry written by a sailor named Johan Wehner (the only known human to see her and survive) describes her as a seductress who seeks a lover. The journal details how he and his crewmates entered the labyrinth that made up her home, only for her to hunt down and petrify them one by one, until only Wehner was left. Unable to escape, Wehner tried to prepare himself, partially binding his eyes to give himself only limited vision; but she didn't attack, instead softly called to him as she approached, offering her arms. Wehner's text described what he saw of her (from the waist-down) as "perfection greater than that of any woman he had ever seen", and he nearly submitted, but came to his senses and fought back when he heard the hiss of snakes. (He was blinded in the fight and managed to escape, which is where the journal ends; most believe he eventually perished at her hands, but he still lives, suggested by the source as an NPC hook for any adventure set in Demise).
  • GURPS Banestorm describes a game-world with a race of Medusas who typically have the Beautiful Appearance advantage.
  • Pathfinder, as it is, seems to usually take this route with female humanoid and partly-humanoid monsters, making most of those attractive-looking by default (unless their ugliness is a big part of the point, like hags). Their default Bestiary image for a medusa (which is supposed to show a typical member of the species) is a stunner, lamias of the standard, matriarch, and harridan types all have the upper torsos of gorgeous women, and even harpies (which unlike medusae were consistently depicted as ugly in D&D) would be rather attractive if not for their filthy hygiene which apart from the grime also gives them a nasty case of BO. That said, the vast majority of these Gorgeous Gorgons fall under the "beauty is only skin deep" interpretation mentioned at the page top. The One-Gender Race versions in particular are prone to killing their lovers once done with them.
  • In Scion, Medusae (the result of Gorgons feeding normal humans their blood) can make themselves look pretty very easily. Unfortunately, for the big tricks to work, they gotta get ugly. The Gorgons themselves have a much harder time fitting in.

  • The Monster High doll Deuce Gorgon is a rare male example, who only has scales and snakes on his head, which he fashions into a mohawk. Otherwise, he is your typical handsome teen. To be fair, "attractive monster people" is pretty much the whole theme of the franchise. His cousin Viperine also counts, being a fashionable and respected movie makeup artist.
  • Boss Fight Studios' planned Vitruvian H.A.C.K.S.' Medusa and Gorgon armies largely invert this trope, but a Medusa variant portrays her as a Green-Skinned Space Babe with snakes for hair. Stheno on the other hand looks like an ordinary woman with snakes for hair.

    Video Games 
  • The legendary demon of pure destruction, Razgriz, of Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War fame, is always referred as "it" in the game, but the few still images of "it" suggest that "it" is actually a woman (and a redhead, to boot). Fanart creators universally think "it" is, in any case.
  • The Mythology based RTS Age of Mythology has the archer variant like the one from Clash of the Titans.
  • Carmilla from the Boktai is a gorgon. It helps that she was originally a good-natured human who was killed because of her petrification ability and that she (at least her spirit) ends up on your side in the third installment.
  • Medusa from Castle Crashers fits this trope. Even though she's trying to kill you, she's still fairly nice looking for someone who's half snake.
  • Castlevania:
    • Medusa is a recurring boss in the Castlevania series, but her appearances are almost uniformly aversions of this trope. Her first few appearances are as a floating, disembodied head, while the other ones are similar to her classical ugly design. About the only one where she is conventionally attractive is the appearance from Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, which, while still a giant, disembodied head, is still conventionally pretty.
    • If you want a hot Medusa from a Castlevania-related source, look no further than Sexy Parodius.
    • This official promotional artwork from Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin applies this trope to every female enemy in the game. Quite easy with the witches and Ninja Maids who are apparently human, but the blood-sucking flower women, harpies, and even the massive man-eating beast that has a lady for a tail are all made to be quite cute and attractive. Even the uncanniness of the Killer Doll is toned down to its sunken eyes and nutcracker mouth.
  • Cala Maria from Cuphead starts her fight as a pretty mermaid whose head is made of octopus tentacles. In her second phase she takes a more gorgon-like form with green skin, yellow eyes and snakes as her hair, and she gains the petrifying gaze of a gorgon too. She, however, keeps most of her basic pretty qualities.
  • Dark Souls: The Chosen Undead can meet three: Quelaag, The Fair Lady and Priscilla. All three are Type 1 (Lordran is NOT a nice place) but Priscilla gets special mention for being built up as an abomination who "has no place in this world"... but when you meet her, shows herself to be a lovely young woman with white hair, dragon scales and a scythe. She even opts for pointing you to the exit rather than fight you... not that you can't murder her anyway.
  • The Medusae in the PS1 game Deathtrap Dungeon manage to both play this trope straight and subvert it - their faces are pretty monstrous, but their figures, on the other hand...
  • Eastern Exorcist has the boss, Lady Poison, whose face is that of a beautiful woman with a slender body, but with snakes and centipedes in place of hair. Her lower half is that of a giant centipede instead of a serpent, however, and she averts the usual depiction of Gorgons who turns people into stone, preferring poison-based attacks instead.
  • In myth, Cu Chulainn's berserker state was (very, very elaborately) described as a warped monster of Lovecraftian hideousness. When Queen Medb summons Cu Chulainn as Berserker Alter in the American chapter of Fate/Grand Order, however, he looks quite similar to his Lancer and Caster incarnations (read: a blue-haired prettyboy), only more muscular, a bit more feral, and sporting what's best described as stripperiffic kaiju spiked armor. It's implied that the nature of Medb's wish may be responsible for this, as she specifically called upon the Holy Grail to give her an ideal lover.
  • From Final Fantasy:
    • The Cloud of Darkness in Final Fantasy III. It's an avatar of pure destruction out to end existence ...but for some reason, it decides to take the form of a completely nude green woman. Her appearance in Dissidia is pure fanservice, though based on her original concept art.
    • Marilith from the original Final Fantasy could be seen as this. While she doesn't have the turn-her-enemies-to-stone ability, she's still the deadly powerful demon of fire, and could easily be seen as quite attractive.
    • Final Fantasy IV's bestiary includes a mildly disturbing amount of monsters who are either entirely beautiful women or part beautiful women-part snake, or part spider, or part bat, get the picture.
    • The Lamia Queen from Final Fantasy II plays type two straightest, being beautiful and seductive and tricksy and perfectly willing to try the mate/kill/eat thing on Firion.
  • Inverted in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones where the class description of Gorgon calls it a "beautiful and cursed creature" when its more of a full on snake humanoid with snakes for hair and arms.
  • The Locust Queen in Gears of War 2. It's implied, though, that few humans have ever met the queen and she certainly is not reluctant to be a monster.
  • Zig-zagged in God of War.
    • The first Gorgon you meet in the first game, Medusa herself, is fairly attractive (and topless, to boot), but the other Gorgons you meet are not as much ugly as faceless. II's Euryale, by contrast, is depicted as a green, scaly battleaxe.
    • God of War III gorgons even more so. Thanks to stunning graphics and Jiggle Physics the many gorgons you fight have a slick scaly body and a pretty gorgeous face to match it.
  • Dusa the Gorgon Head (she can float) from Hades is a Cute Monster Girl, and also implied to be the decapitated head of Medusa herself, having apparently worked very hard at reinventing herself post-mortem. She also harbours a flagrantly obvious crush on Zagreus, with Heart Symbols and a Crush Blush showing up whenever he gets close to her.
  • Kid Icarus manages to combine both flavors:
  • In the Official Fan Remake of King's Quest III they completely overhauled the Medusa scenario (Originally all you do is hold out a mirror while your back is turned). In this version, they give her a complete backstory, and Alexander has to unfreeze her heart by proving that there are still pure men in the world. If you manage to remind her of the beauty in men, she gains the appearance of a beautiful woman, albeit still with green skin and snake hair (Before her curse is lifted completely and she becomes a pretty blond woman).
  • Cassiopeia in League of Legends. Once a beautiful Noxian Honey Trap, she was cursed after being bitten by a tomb guardian, turning her into a Naga. Though she claims she's now hideous, she's still quite the looker for a half-snake woman.
  • The protagonist of Little Medusa is a very cute and adorable gorgon, embarking on a quest to stop the evil and spiteful goddess who cursed her.
  • There's a metroidvania on Steam simply called Medusa where the protagonist is one of these, though given the game's simplistic 8-bit style graphics it's hard to tell how attractive she is. She has some curves at least.
  • Played with interestingly for the Beauty and Beast Corps from Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. While they are perfectly normal women (if Ax-Crazy) under their Powered Armor, the armor invokes this by making them look like cybernetic monsters. Defeating them in their armored form causes it to fall off, revealing that they're quite fetching under the mask. They actually embody both sides of the trope-their armor shows the duality of a vicious, inhuman soldier contrasted with the terrified, broken victim wearing it, while their real forms contrast a beautiful, serene exterior with an inner core damaged beyond the ability of anyone to repair.
  • Onmyoji: the eight-headed serpent Yamata no Orochi appears in his humanoid form as a Bishounen with pale features and actual snakes as parts of his humanoid body. Other notable instance is Kiyohime, depicted as a beautiful woman with a serpentine lower body.
  • World of Warcraft: Both Death Knights and Dark Rangers such as Sylvanas, despite being described as corpses resurrected after their violent death are rather intact, with the only undead features being red or blue glowing eyes, and a deathly pallor.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night:
    • Medusa is a lithe, pale skinned beauty whose "snakes" are just ankle-length hair that get blown around a lot during battle. The whole "turn to stone" thing is the product of her Mystic Eyes Of Petrification (one of a good number of Mystic Eye types in the Nasuverse), and is easily mitigated by an enchanted visor or sexy nerd glasses. Oh, and she's really attractive too. Who is she? Rider. Justified in that this is supposed be Medusa before she was transformed into a monstrous creature. Her actual monster form looks more like a giant demonic mass of shadow snakes all joining together into a huge worm thing. As well as the fact that Word of God says that history is Written by the Winners, so what is recorded in legend is not necessarily what actually happened in-universe. In fact, this may even be an example of Shown Their Work, as most myths actually present Medusa as having once been very beautiful, either being turned into a monster because of Athena's jealousy, or because Poseidon had sex with her (or raped her, the myths vary) in Athena's temple. Rider can still become the famous ugly monster version for a power boost. She just chooses not to because she loses control of herself in the process.
    • In Fate/Grand Order, she gets an alternate class as an Avenger that puts her somewhere between her humanoid form and the "ugly monster" of myth, having long claws, scales, golden wings, the snakes for hair...but with her large bosom still very much on display. Her personality is much darker in this form, however, and her Noble Phantasm has her completely transforming into the "ugly monster" form. The same game also introduces a Lancer version of Medusa from her childhood. Though she's more cute than gorgeous, she's definitely not scary.

  • One briefly shows up as a patient in The Dragon Doctors. Her name is Yuri (a shortening of Euryale) and she has a boyfriend named "Percy" (a shortening of "Perseus"). She's visiting the doctors to have herself turned into a non-Gorgon so she doesn't worry about turning him to stone.
  • Ferretina the Weasel Queen in Girl Genius.
  • The furry comic Goblin Hollow has a gorgon in one arc who looks like an ordinary vixen with snakes under her headscarf.
  • The Kendril species in Last Res0rt consists almost entirely of Gorgeous Gorgons and Cute Monster Girls, even accounting for the whole Medusa aspect. They still wear masks, though.
  • The Gorgon and Elan from A Magical Roommate. They actually both look pretty normal, excepting the snakes.
  • Medusa from Jun Chui's works is a very beautiful woman, though more in a Disney Princess kind of way. She was also definitely quite cute back when she was younger as well.
  • The titular medusa from Modest Medusa is at least cute rather than hideous.
  • Aurielle Goldenscale from Monsterful; she's a sexy, blond (her snakes have yellow scales) gorgon teacher, and even though she's really gorgeous, she's also a big, mean teacher. She will petrify any student that doesn't follow her rules either partially or entirely and is feared by most of the students of Addams High for this.
  • Oglaf has a variation where the "victim" is looking at the gorgon's...gorge. He's not petrified, but rock-hard.
  • Mona from Pilli Adventure is a gorgon. She doesn't think of herself as "gorgeous", though, mostly due to Monsters having different standards of beauty.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, form 2 Aylee and the current incarnation aren't ugly to the eyes...well, except for the lack of a nose and pupils, but a little paint and prosthetics let her pass for human.
    • Justified, since it was a subconscious choice. At a certain point, Aylee's transformations were in response to threats she couldn't deal with, so she evolved appropriate defenses (EMP blasts to deal with nanites, spirit-binding seals to avert natural death, a mind-protecting helmet to stop telepathy, etc). In the last case, she feared not being accepted by humanity, so she evolved a form that would have greater chances of being accepted. Well, by half the population, at least...
  • The Sphinx featured in many Subnormality comics is actually quite pretty. Except being 15' tall and frequently eating people. She's cute in some appearances, though, especially the comic where she was complaining to Blockbuster that her monster claws could handle VHS tapes, but not thin DVDs.
  • Wapsi Square has a few characters who qualify. First of all, there's Phix, who has a bit of a Hot Librarian thing going, despite being a sphinx. On top of that, an actual gorgon (mildly NSFW, even though nothing is showing) seen at the library fits this trope quite well.

    Western Animation 
  • In Disney's Aladdin: The Series, Jasmine got turned into a "hideous snake person" by Mirage. Truth be told, there wasn't all that much that's hideous about her, but the poisoned spines were something of a turn-off... to everyone except Aladdin, who willingly dosed himself with the same potion to be with her.
  • American Dragon: Jake Long has Medusa and the gorgons as a group of attractive, Alpha Bitchy cheerleader types that fuss over split ends — split ends, in this case, meaning two-headed snakes.
  • Medusa appeared in an episode of Animaniacs; she wasn't exactly beautiful, but she appeared to be a satire of Joan Rivers and more-or-less harmless. (Maybe... There was a statue nearby the place where she was talking to someone, likely the remains of a victim.)
  • Gravedale High also had an attractive gorgon cheerleader, named Duzer.
  • Medusa from Hercules: The Animated Series. Here, she's an attractive good-natured green-skinned girl who just wants "a friend that isn't a total rock-head". Aphrodite helps her out with a pair of magical heart-shaped sunglasses that keep her stone gaze at bay. She understandably is more attracted to Hades' offer to make her mortal...until she realizes the price; Aphrodite's offer meanwhile was because someone who truly loved her would love the real her, Gorgon and all. As long as he didn't get turned to stone anyway.
  • A gorgon appears briefly in Justice League. Except for the green skin and snake hair, she is fairly average looking and, oddly, has a New York/Jersey accent.
  • M'gann in Young Justice (2010) turns out to be a non-villainous variant of the shape shifting kind in progressively deeper levels of deception. She originally pretends her true form has green skin and brown hair. She eventually lets her friends know her true martian form is naturally bald and eyebrowless, and her hair was an affectation to fit in. Bald M'gann is still as cute and curvy, and has her revelation met with general positivity. Turns out that it goes deeper. As a white Martian, she's a huge, bony, exposed brain monstrosity that hid her true species and shape out of fear of persecution and rejection... and Superboy loves her regardless. And in this continuity it turns out Green Martians have the same shape, the only difference being that they are green.