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Hollywood Homely

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AAAAGH! She's... hideous?

"She’s supposed to be a frumpy nerd. But since Halle Berry is the exact opposite of that, they’ll just bury her in plus-size clothes and make her super clumsy."

Let's say a storyline requires a character who is unappealing, unattractive, and has a hard time finding dates. However, actual plain-looking actors (especially women) are almost never cast for leading roles in Hollywood — producers know that "beauty is money", after all, and are therefore disinclined to cast genuinely unattractive people even as villains or extras — so this "homely" character will very often be played by someone more gorgeous than most people you'd meet in real life, with said homeliness mostly just implied via in-universe reactions.

Characters are made "plain" by giving them thick glasses, braces, freckles, unfashionable clothes, and an unflattering hairstyle, and surrounding them with people who are more attractive. A subtle method used is to give the actor clothes that clash with their natural skin color, making them look pale or blotchy, a method also used in "before-and-after" shots for diet-pill commercials. Bad lighting is also a good trick. The character may also be a Sickly Neurotic Geek.


Note: Just because a character is tormented by a vampy Alpha Bitch, it doesn't necessarily mean they're considered ugly In-Universe; as in real life, fictional bullies can often target attractive rivals because they're envious of their good looks. Likewise, a character can be oblivious to their own good looks and have a poor self-image without being considered Hollywood Homely. Since beauty is very subjective in real-life, this trope only counts if the character is considered unattractive by a majority of other characters In-Universe.

See also: Generic Cuteness is the animated equivalent of this trope, and the result is a very Informed Deformity. Adaptational Attractiveness, Beauty Inversion, I'm Not Pretty, Beautiful All Along, Cool Loser, Formerly Fat, Hidden Buxom, Hollywood Dateless, Hollywood Pudgy, and She Is All Grown Up. Contrast Informed Attractiveness and Gorgeous Gorgon.



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  • Teleflora. The theme in their 2010 Super Bowl commercial is supposed to be "Hot but bitchy girl gets the bad flowers; frumpy but hard-working girl gets the good flowers." Apparently, "frumpy" means "not willing to wear short skirts and go-go boots to work".
  • Disney Channel used to run a PSA that was all over this trope. A very attractive teenager is sitting in front of a poster of a pop star, lamenting how plain and unattractive she is. The pop star springs to life from the poster and tells the girl that she shouldn't worry, because it's all Hollywood magic. The pop star is then stripped of all the makeup, fancy clothes, etc, and reduced to ... really attractive.
  • American Eagle's Aerie Real campaign, which features the slightly plump plus-size model Iskra Lawrence as their spokesperson, is a slave to this trope. Iskra, bless her, frequently uses her fame to speak out for a "realistic body image" for girls. Thing is, she's STUNNING. Although as she points out, for years she couldn't get a modeling contract because, by the standards of that hideous industry, she is homely. Aerie eventually tripped over the trope by launching the oh-so-funny parody video for their nonexistent "Aerie Men" campaign, which featured a bunch of chubby guys feeling good about their body image. Nope. Sorry, men are not allowed to be happy as they are.
  • This trope isn't limited to humans. Ugly Animal Preservation Society ran a campaign to choose its mascot. Eventually, the blobfish, which is indeed ugly, won the most votes, but second place went to the kakapo, a cute, fluffy parrot.
  • Whether the winner of the World's Ugliest Dog Contest is legitimately hideous (Mugly, Elwood, most infamously Sam), Ugly Cute (Gus, Yoda), or normal-looking with some unfortunate features (Walle's strange mish-mash of body parts, Pabst's underbite) varies from year to year.
  • In a Dannon Oikos Greek yogurt ad, two ladies are discussing how eating it turns the next man you see into John Stamos. The man who comes in next is treated as if he's an unattractive slob but is actually an above average looking guy with a sunburn. The comments on the YouTube posting of the advert verify this with many girls saying they thought the first guy was hot and some preferring him over John Stamos.
  • SlimQuick commercials, which advertise drinks to women. The commercial starts off with an overweight couple, and as the woman talks about all they've been doing to lose weight, the man gets skinnier while the woman gets frustrated. The commercial ends showing the woman how skinny she would look if she tried the drink. But due to Generic Cuteness, both the man and woman were already attractive before they both lost weight, whereas after they just look generically good looking.
  • An Israeli ad campaign for Bacardi Breezers suggested that women "get an ugly girlfriend," offering fat women to pose as friends so the Bacardi customers will look better by comparison. Thing is, despite the copy describing their alleged hideous features, the "ugly women" mostly just look like normal women without makeup — at worst, they have glasses, a lazy eye, or are overweight. The feminist backlash was swift and the campaign was cancelled with an apology.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Absolute Boyfriend: Invoked by Mika. Riiko is often described as either ugly or not as pretty as Mika. This was the point, since Mika went a long way to ruin Riiko's self-confidence, by calling her those names and seducing every guy Riiko liked. The manga itself never seemed to find Riiko ever unattractive, just...not very busty.
  • Makoto of AKB0048 is supposed to be plain-looking but a portion of the fanbase considers her to be the cutest understudy.
  • Guts from Berserk is similar to the L example in that he is supposed to be more brutish looking in comparison to the angelic Bishōnen Griffith. This does fall flat when fangirls and women In-Universe note that Guts is an obviously handsome Hunk especially when he wears noble attire, but since he has the Face of a Thug most of the time it’s played straight. Similarly, Casca has Boyish Short Hair and is mistaken for a man by the princess (whom she is envious of), leading to Casca thinking she is unattractive and shuns of her femininity in general. Like her lover Guts, this is subverted as Casca looks stunningly beautiful in fancy dresses and most of the men in the series want to get in her pants.
  • Ganju Shiba is a male example from Bleach. Despite being tall, very muscular, having a chiseled face, a deep voice, and a masculine attitude, Ganju, unfortunately, lives in a world where most of the male characters are Bishōnen, and is thus considered a Gonk, by the local dandy, Yumichika.
  • Boys over Flowers, Makino Tsukushi is frequently called plain. In the J-Drama, she's played by Inoue Mao. It's ultimately averted as the only people who claim she isn't cute are people who hate her.
  • In Death Note, Word of God says that L was designed to be "ugly” in comparison to Light: scruffy and unkempt with messy hair, bags under his eyes, and the impression of having a permanent hangover. While hardly a conventional Bishōnen, he doesn't look that bad...and has more than his share of fangirls.
  • Devils and Realist: Although William has a bishonen design, numerous people say he only has his good grades going for him while saying that Sitri has good looks going for him.
  • Gohan during his high school days in Dragon Ball Z looks dorky in his baggy clothes and is shy enough that Jerk Jock Sharpner and other boys mock him for being a nerd calling him “brain boy”. Subverted with the girls: Erasa has the hots for Gohan as soon he comes into class and tries to get him to take her home when school finishes and Angela draws pictures of Gohan in class and makes trouble just so she can stand next to Gohan in the hall and ask him out. Videl treats him like a weak loser at first but warms up to him quickly and marries Gohan years later.
  • Downplayed in Dragon Ball Super. The running gag about Bulma's boobs starting to become saggy is clearly a crack about her age, but at the same time, the gag never explicitly says that they (or Bulma) are growing less attractive as a result; just more saggy/chronologically older. Not to mention, her Super redesign clearly makes her look much younger than how she appeared during the Buu saga of Dragon Ball Z.
  • At the start of Failed Princesses, Nanaki Fujishiro, a vain gyaru, bullies her classmate Kanade Kurokawa for being plain-looking and having Big Ol' Eyebrows. While Kurokawa isn't as good-looking as Fujishiro, and initially has no interest in makeup or fashion, many readers find her fairly attractive in her own right.
  • Genshiken plays with this trope. Ohno is called an "Ordinary person who is cute" and that Saki is "like a model", but Ohno is just as attractive as Saki. The main difference is the effort the two put into their appearances - Ohno doesn't outside of cosplay (where heads turn so fast you could hear bones snap), while Saki puts in the effort to maintain a model-like air and appearance.
  • Godchild, In the Scold's Bridle story arc.
    • Drew is supposedly so plain that other upper-class girls won't give her the time of day - something which the mangaka illustrates by giving her quite good-looking round glasses, freckles and a braid. (She also seems to have real curves compared to the waifish characters) The art style may be partly at fault, but the fact remains that she looks no less pretty than any other girl in the manga.
    • Viola wears a mask because she is disfigured, but when she takes it off it turns out that her face is perfectly fine apart from a finger-sized acid burn on one cheek. This one is justified in that she is insane and is probably exaggerating the extent of her scarring.
  • Gokusen: Quite a few characters like to point out how "plain" the protagonist is. This also comes into play in the drama, but here she is played by Yukie Nakama
  • Ukraine and Belgium from Hetalia: Axis Powers, while not ugly, are supposed to be plain or uninteresting (Belgium by her own admission and Ukraine according to Russia in the dub). The art (and fandom) disagrees. Lithuania is described as looking plain, but he's often drawn looking very feminine and moe. His hair has also become gorgeous from Art Evolution.
  • Howl's Moving Castle is a complicated case of Playing with a Trope.
    • Sophie considers herself plain compared to her sister. Her sister looks like a garish parody plastered with makeup, while Sophie's features are more natural. However, the soldiers at the beginning of the movie and Howl himself seem to find Sophie quite attractive and The Witch of the Waste curses her with truly ugly old age because she feels threatened by her.
    • Given the nature of the curse, there's also the implication that a lot of Sophie's "homeliness" are self-esteem issues on her part. In scenes where she shows confidence, she becomes younger and prettier while insecurity or defensiveness lead to the older and wrinkled curse form.
  • Sakie Sato in Interviews with Monster Girls invokes this trope, because she's a succubus but is unwilling to seduce anyone, so she tries to make herself less attractive by wearing a track jacket and pants and gives herself an unflattering hairdo. Even all that doesn't stop others from considering her to be pretty.
  • In Inuyasha, Kagome is stated several times to be "average" in looks and appearance (by Inuyasha). However, it is noted (even the characters state it), that she looks almost exactly like Kikyo, her previous incarnation, who is stated to be beautiful. In Inuyasha's case, this may be justified; he recognizes Kagome by smell, not sight, and he probably finds the scent of things like body wash and shampoo strange and off-putting.
  • Itazura Na Kiss: It's a major plot point that Kinnosuke is way out of his league with Chris, the girl he ends up with, and that Chris (and her mother) are genetically attracted to ugly guys. Except that Kinnosuke is certainly no worse than "Women fall at his feet" Naoki.
  • Maken-ki!: Even though Minori's drawn to appear reasonably attractive and physically fit, the guys at Tenbi treat her as if she's a hag. That includes Takeru, the biggest perv at the school. Made more egregious, considering Ms. Aki is lusted after by nearly the entire male student body, despite looking no different than Minori.
  • Monster: Lotte, who is no uglier than Eva or Nina, is deemed so unattractive that guys will dance with her on a dare only.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • The protagonist, Izuku Midoriya, is often described as "plain-looking" with a forgettable face by those around him in-universe. Out of universe, he's usually described by fans as quite cute-looking or is often considered ruggedly handsome due to his increasingly muscular build and a growing number of scars. In-universe, Uraraka also has a crush on him and Himiko develops an interest in him after seeing him fight. As some fans pointed out, Shindo You, a character the author has described as being someone he tried to design as a handsome guy, looks exactly like Izuku but a little taller and with less round eyes.
    • Tsuyu Asui aka Froppy being a frog girl is supposed to be “the weird one” due to her elongated hands, wide mouth, and oval-shaped eyes. She’s commonly placed alongside her friend, the stunningly beautiful and shapely Momo Yaoyorozu, as a deliberate contrast. Of course, this backfired as Froppy is absolutely beloved by the fans who think she’s adorable and like her unique design.
    • Similarly Kyoka Jiro isn’t made out to be as strikingly attractive as Momo or Ashido Nina, being quite dour-looking. In-Universe shallow pervert Minoru Mineta peeps on all the girls except her, which really hurt poor Jiro’s self esteem. Like Froppy however, she’s considered gorgeous among fandom, lampshaded in the fancy dress promo art, as Jiro is wearing a jacket over her pretty gown and hiding behind Momo. Ironically, despite being introverted Jiro has a Beautiful Singing Voice that left her classmates in awe.
    • All Might is ashamed of his skinny form, seeing it as a shell of his old self when he was a Bara Hunk, and he frequently coughs up blood, but fans still find his skinny form to be quite cute-looking in an unconventional way.
  • No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!: The main character Tomoko Kuroki is supposed to be a creepy girl that no one wants to be around. While her personality fits this, it is hard to take it seriously when the show tries to play her up as ugly. She is quite adorable, and not in an Ugly Cute kind of way either. The bags under her eyes are not fooling anyone. The show has to have her make really weird facial expressions for her to look even remotely ugly.
  • One Piece:
    • Usopp borders on this, he’s clearly not as handsome as other male Main Characters i.e Luffy, Zoro and Sanji thanks to his Gag Nose, and he is even mistaken for a Fishman in Arlong Park. But Usopp definitely isn’t Gonk as Kaya is taken with him and post Time Skip he gets a Heroic Build that Nami takes note of.
    • Charlotte Pudding, due to her Third Eye, is considered a freak and was tormented by others to the extent she does think she’s a monster and hides her “deformity” behind her fringe. When Sanji points out the obvious - that the extra eye makes her even more beautiful and unique - Pudding has a Villainous BSoD as she expected him to be disgusted and she’s never had anyone compliment it before. She fails to kill Sanji because of his words and pulls a Heel–Face Turn thanks to him.
    • Similarly Charlotte Katakuri has Scary Teeth that, like Pudding, he hides from most of his family and when he reveals it one of his sisters and others react in disgust and mock him. As sharp as his teeth are, Katakuri has not lost his army of fangirls and fanboys, so this response to his “scary face” is almost ludicrous.
  • Lina Inverse from Slayers is described as being awkward in appearance, ranging from flat-chested to lanky to having a pug nose. While it's true that she occasionally travels with the scantily-clad and buxom Naga, the beautiful Sylphiel, or the short-but-busty Amelia, Lina is regularly drawn in a very attractive light and seems to only slightly pale in comparison to her female companions' exceptional beauty.
  • Wandering Son: Makoto is at least cute. She finds herself unattractive due to her Youthful Freckles and Nerd Glasses. She's chubbier and rounder than the other characters, as well. Justified since most of the criticism is her own opinion, and at least every other character has gone out of their way to tell her she's cute; Mako doesn't have good self esteem. Seya once thought she made an ugly girl when she met him in girl mode, though.
  • Uozumi and Akagi of Slam Dunk who are described as "gorillas" because they are extremely built. This means they fit a different standard of beauty than the local Bishōnen. Yay for Values Dissonance!
  • Bara no Tame ni: Yuri is constantly referred to as fat and ugly despite looking only slightly pudgy and having the same "pretty girl" face as the supposedly more attractive girls in the story. The Taiwanese drama based off of this is even more egregious, as she's played by girl group member and actress Ella Chen.
  • Shouma of Penguindrum is said to be merely plain-looking but if you look at his design he's quite Bishōnen.
  • In Red River (1995), Yuri is a Japanese teen who gets magically transported to the ancient Hittite Empire. Yuri is, naturally, drawn to look very cute, but most people in the ancient times comment on her being very scrawny and plain, and more than once she is mistaken for a young boy. This is justified as a case of Deliberate Values Dissonance: back in such times, feminine beauty was defined by a full and voluptuous body, not the slim builds generally considered more attractive today. Early in the manga, Prince Kail is shown attempting to fatten her up, as he considers that to be more attractive.
  • Aya from Strawberry 100% is very cute in a nerdy way, despite being told she isn't attractive.
  • Yuureitou: Amano frequently can't attract girls and he's the opposite to the Chick Magnet Tetsuo. Numerous characters call him "ugly" and "horrible looking," especially when they compare him to Tetsuo, although when Amano is not making weird faces and drawn normally he actually can look cute, especially when he crossdresses as Tetsuo's wife he's considered attractive by numerous guys at a village.
  • The original Homura in Puella Magi Madoka Magica was apparently meant to be the class dork—due to her conspicuous glasses, oversized pigtails, and chronic awkwardness, her classmates want nothing to do with her. After she removes the glasses and pigtails and adopts a permanent Death Glare, she becomes the cool kid. The trouble is, many of the fans found the dork-edition adorable. Lots of merchandise was made to cater to this. The Movie plays with the trope by bringing back her original look; this time, the class likes it just as much as the "cool" version.
  • In Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun, Nene is often described as not pretty, rejected every time when she confesses to someone, and is frequently insulted over her "fat radish ankles", despite being drawn as cute and adorable as any of the other cast. The Hell of Mirrors even says she is a "four" in terms of attractiveness, compared to Mitsuba who is a "eight".
  • In The Moomins story Finn Family Moomintroll, Snorkmaiden feels jealous when Moomintroll becomes obsessed with a figurehead of a beautiful woman, so when the Hobgoblin offers her a wish, she asks for her eyes to be like those on the figurehead. Unfortunately, those eyes don't look good on her face, and everyone is horrified, including Snorkmaiden herself, forcing Snork or Moomintroll (depending on the version) to use his own wish to change her eyes back to normal. Although she does have distractingly oversized eyelashes and huge pupils in the book's illustration, justifying the reaction, the 90's anime just gives her eyelashes that, while quite pronounced, actually don't look THAT bad, especially if you're used to the whole "cartoon girls have noticeable eyelashes" thing.

    Comic Books 
  • Ms. Marvel: A running joke in the books for a long while was of villains saying that Carol's fat. The closest this came to being accurate (i.e. not even remotely) was the fact that she had a bigger backside than most similarly stacked female characters.
  • The Incredible Hulk: Played with regarding Betty Ross. On her own, she is considered quite attractive, but she comes under this trope when paired with former supermodel Marlo Chandler. Not helped by the fact she can at times be an Unkempt Beauty.
  • Spider-Man: Peter Parker was supposed to be a gangly bespectacled nerd (Steve Ditko even based Peter's appearance off himself as a boy) who gets rejected by the likes of Liz Allen and bullied by Jerk Jock Flash Thompson for being a wimp. When Peter gets bitten by a radioactive spider, his social life improves thanks to newfound strength and confidence as Spider-Man, and he gets a girlfriend in Betty Brant and a dozen others after her before settling down with the supermodel actress Mary Jane Watson. It's worth noting Peter's bad luck with girls in high school mostly stemmed from his shy wallflower nature, and probably thanks to Aunt May choosing all his clothes for him, making him look dorky as hell.
    • Depending on the Artist factors, too, Ditko only made Peter more traditionally attractive in later comics, while John Romita Senior drew him as outright handsome and most artists followed suit. When it flashbacks to pre-spider bite days, most comics have Peter be bespectacled and much less striking and more geeky than he is now.
  • The Sandman: Depending on the Artist, several of the female characters either avert or play this straight. There is Nuala's true form with the glamor spell that made her look like a blonde princess removed, who looks genuinely scraggly and underfed, though subsequent artists usually make her more cute and childlike. The interesting thing is that despite this, she comes to prefer her true form (probably because Dream prefers it, and it's implied she's in love with him, though it's also implied to be part of her overall rejection of the decadent culture of Faerie). Thessaly usually looks genuinely plain, as even without her Nerd Glasses she has a very odd-shaped face. Then there's Despair. Thessaly's spin-off comics make her look adorable.
  • Wanted: In the graphic novel, Wesley Gibson's girlfriend is repeatedly described as fat, and implied to be fairly unattractive, though she is not drawn this way at all. Seeing that she's knowingly cheating on him, this might be his way of expressing his anger with her.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: The first Silver Swan, Helen Alexandros, is treated as if she were a hag but despite having freckles and an overall mousy demeanor, she is actually quite cute.
  • X-Men:
    • The short-time member Marrow is a complicated example that has more to do with her self-confidence and backstory than anything else. In her original appearances as a Morlock terrorist and her initial Heel–Face Turn, she was quite ugly (to varying degrees Depending on the Artist). During an adventure on an alien planet, however, Marrow was wounded and placed in a regeneration chamber, which also smoothed her facial features. Despite her newfound beauty, she was still self-conscious about her appearance due to having a visible mutation and the fact that her mutation involves growing more bones out of her body.
    • Callisto, The Leader of the Morlocks, is a similar case. The Morlocks are a group of mutants that live in the sewer because their mutations make them look deformed and inhuman, and therefore easy to recognize and target among normal humans. While most of them are distinctively inhuman in appearance, Callisto herself is not, as she is actually originally beautiful in her pre-Morlock life, but "ugly" because of her now-usually unkempt, haggard, and malnourished appearance due to living homeless in sewers, and also due to the facial scars she got in a fight (which actually amounts to one lost eye) rather than because of her mutation, but because of her solidarity with the Morlocks she has a similar view of herself. But a '90s storyline involved her being stripped of her memories and healed of her scars and her missing eye, at which point she actually became a supermodel when she lived a normal life in New York City, although she regained those scars and lost her eye again — and regained her memories — in yet another fight, at which point she returned to being a raggedy sewer-dweller. However, she has still remained reasonably attractive ever since then, depending on the artist. Although she did briefly have her arms replaced with Combat Tentacles — in exchange for having the rest of her supermodel appearance restored, with her scars removed and eye healed, when she became a freelance mercenary — she lost those after M-Day and is now back to living in sewers and just as "ugly" as she ever was originally (minus the scarring though she wears the eye patch for cosmetic purposes), which is to say that she's still rather attractive, just not supermodel-attractive, like the average comic-book leading-lady, pending adequate nutrition and proper grooming. It's implied that Callisto's original scarring and eye loss was due to her being gang-raped by thugs as a young woman, after which the trauma caused her to become homeless and live in the sewers. Her name itself hints at this, being extremely symbolic, as it was taken from the Greek myth of the most beautiful nymph in Greece who was raped by the god Zeus (who is of course infamous for his libido) and thereafter was transformed into a bestial appearance.
  • Deadpool:
    • Wade Wilson aka Deadpool was once conventionally attractive like all the other average comic-book leading men. He became ugly due to an experimental cancer treatment that saved his life and gave him superpowers but made him look like Freddy Krueger. Being ugly is a big part of his character, and one of the things that he's very insecure about. Depending on the Artist, he can actually look the part, and be very repulsive. In other instances, he can almost be handsome again. Which is justified to an extent, because Deadpool doesn't actually have a fixed appearance. His Healing Factor also heals his cancer and spreads it to every cell of his body, yet at the same time heals the damage done by the cancer. So his skin is constantly changing rather than permanently scarred, meaning that sometimes it looks much worse than others.
    • Dr. Ella Whitby, his one-time prison psychiatrist. She's referred to by several characters as fat and/or ugly (including Deadpool, who at one point had a crush on Bea Arthur, but finds Dr. Whitby revolting). In actuality, she's fairly pretty and barely 20 lbs. heavier than anyone else. Also, another patient, the Foolkiller, is actually madly attracted to her but his feelings go unreciprocated. She may have been predetermined by the writers to be an Acceptable Hard Luck Target since she turns out to be Ax-Crazy, Harley Quinn style.
  • In Sin City, Marv states that he's so intimidating that he can't hire a prostitute. While Marv is a hulking, scary-looking guy, his features are traditionally masculine so he's referring to his Face of a Thug.
  • Empowered has Emp herself, who is extremely attractive, but is continually insulted by the other heroes for being "fat" (usually specifically referring to her butt), which she's particularly sensitive about because her powers come from her literally skintight costume that doesn't work if she wears anything over it. Not a truly straight example, because her inner circle (her boyfriend, her best friend, and the caged eldritch being from another dimension that lives on her coffee table) don't think she's fat (well, what Demonwolf says implies he does think she has a bigger-than-average butt, but he also seems to be kind of into that and phrases it in generally positive terms), and even most of the people who insult her seem to covertly find her attractive (the male ones, at least)...they're just insulting her because they're jerks.
  • Thanks to Art Evolution, Ethel from Archie Comics has become this. Originally she dressed in a conventionally unattractive manner and looked gangly and awkward. Over the decades they've toned her down to just being an above average height girl with buck teeth and a different build from the norm.
  • H'el, an enemy of Superman, considers himself a hideous freak. Like the Beastly example, H'el has a rock star's deathly pale skin, black eyes, and a bunch of manly scars on top of the chiseled physique of an Olympic bodybuilder and the flowing black hair of a Renaissance painter's ideal man. Frankly, this "freak" looks like a god that descended from Mount Olympus, even more so than Superman. Most people would consider themselves quite fortunate to be half as "hideous" as H'el.
  • Invoked in Tom King's Mister Miracle (2017) run, where Big Barda's insistence that her husband, Mister Miracle, is out of her league is treated as just one of her many self esteem problems; nearly everyone else think it's the other way around, and her complaints about being too tall are almost laughable when most people consider it a positive. You know you have body image issues when someone like Granny Goodness tells you that you're selling yourself short.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: In the change-over to Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man, MJ suddenly gains a pair of glasses and less fashionable clothing. The intention of making her look nerdy falls flat given that the art style means she still looks exactly as good-looking as she did before, since none of the cast are unattractive by any means, just she now has glasses.

    Comic Strips 
  • Luann is typically assumed in her world to be plain, at best (at least as compared to the local high school Alpha Bitch, Tiffany), even though she is drawn attractive. In one arc boys lined up around the block to throw baseballs at a dunking machine so as to get Tiffany wet; when it was Luann's turn, all the boys mysteriously vanished. (This was the Punchline). It's not like her boob size (again, as drawn) is any less ample than her rival's, either. To be fair, in earlier comics, the younger Luann was drawn very plainly. She grew up nice, but tends to retain a bit of "Ugly Duckling Syndrome".
  • Ella Cinders is another case of this condition: She is generally shown as being rather hideous with her disheveled appearance, with her brother Blackie and Waite, the ice-man being the only ones not to mock her for her looks. But when she appears in decent clothes, she's more of the Ugly Cute kind, even attracting quite a few good-looking, wealthy men.
  • Dustin: The title character's teenage sister is depicted as being quite unattractive (she was once compared to her dad) and a failure with boys (which might contribute to her often-excessive focus over them). However she is not that far from her mother in the looks department, her "ugliness" having more to do with her frumpy clothes and her low dating record is likely linked to a family condition.
  • Garfield: Diner waitress Irma isn't exactly model-quality, and her appearance has gone back and forth over the years, but she's never been as repulsive as Garfield would have had you believe in an early strip where he believes Jon was trying to flirt with her:
    Irma: Do you take your cat everywhere?
    Jon: [takes her hand] Yes, we do everything together, my dear.
    Garfield: Except make passes at ugly waitresses.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

  • Beauty and the Beast: Beast is supposed to be "hideous", as pointed by the narrator in the prologue. He breaks mirrors to not look at his own image and everybody who sees him thinks he is horrifying; even Belle is repulsed at the first time she sees him. However, he looks much more attractive than Gaston, who is considered "handsome" by the villagers; most fans actually lament that Beast has become a prince in the end, claiming that he was a lot prettier than his human self. Some even say that GASTON is ugly!
  • In Corpse Bride, Victoria's parents say that she has "the face of an otter" and considered her a disgrace to the family. Seeing how they are Jerkasses and honestly ugly themselves, this could be because they needed someone to look down on. Ironically, Victoria is one of the most HUMAN-looking puppets for the production.
  • In the Animated Adaptation of The Lord of the Winds, the evil sister supposedly loses all her beauty when she is turned into an old woman. In fact, only her clothes definitely grow shabbier, while she herself still looks quite adorable, just slightly plumper than before (and without her greyed hair, no viewer would guess she becomes elderly). To a part of the viewers, even with the grey hair she remains prettier than the kind sister.
  • Shrek:
    • Fiona's ogre form. Compared to her human form, she's merely chubbier and green. Yet she's supposed to be so ugly that Donkey can't bring himself to lie about it. Shrek, however, thinks her ogre form is beautiful.
    • Shrek himself is pretty hideous in the original book. In the movie, his green skin and odd ears don't make him ugly, and aside from that, he looks like an average stocky guy with a potbelly. Sure, he's no Prince Charming but he hardly lives up to the Mirror-Cracking Ugly hype he gets In-Universe.
  • Uglydolls:
    • The movie itself has a case of this being a plot point. To the audience and the children that eventually get them, the Uglydolls are a bit quirky and misshapen, but still cute, being rejected dolls from the conveyor belt. To the Perfection citizens, they're hideous freaks of nature. This overexaggeration of their ugliness helps point out how the citizens of Perfection are, ironically, not as perfect as they're made to be.
    • Furthering the hypocritical nature of the Perfection citizens is how Nolan is treated. Aside from lopsided sleeves, freckles, mismatched eyes, and a clunky streak of green in his hair, he looks exactly like the other Perfection dolls. However, he's immediately pegged as "ugly" by them thanks to these small "imperfections".
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney)'s Quasimodo is deformed and treated as if he's hideous, but he's clearly designed to be Ugly Cute.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Golden Films) managed to do this with Quasimodo by not only taking away any true deformity (opting instead for bad posture and messy hair) but he's still treated as being monstrous, even by the supposedly sympathetic heroine who consoles him about his ugliness. This is all meant to play into a Broken Aesop about outward looks not mattering when Quasi is revealed to have been Beautiful All Along. Reviewers Phelous and Diva in particular have ripped this movie a new one for that.
    Diva: So...Quasimodo is just a guy with bad posture and an awful haircut? How does that make him different from your average sixteen-year-old?
    Phelous: Yes, now that I'm confirmed handsome, my looks really don't matter anymore.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Eve Arden was often cast as the Hollywood Dateless best friend. Even at the time, critics couldn't quite buy it.
    "Why is it that she, strikingly attractive, wittier and more human than other females in her pictures, is always pictured as lonely, unwanted and unsung? In real life, I'm sure Eve is the belle of the ball."
  • Halle Berry:
    • In her breakout role Jungle Fever she had to fight Spike Lee's insistence that she was too attractive to play a homeless crack addict. So she washed off her make-up and auditioned again, and won the part. For the duration of filming (eight weeks) she resorted to not showering.
    • Monster's Ball just gives her an unflattering haircut and light make-up, and it was enough to put her on Hollywood's Ten Best Beauty to Beast Transformations (in comparison to Charlize Theron in Monster).
    • Catwoman (2004) tries to present her as a wallflower at the start - even though her Quirky Curls and outfits with oversized sleeves make her look more cute than mousy. Then after she becomes Catwoman she gives herself a makeover, and the movie stops pretending she's anything other than stunning.
  • Charlotte Gainsbourg has made a career out of this trope, playing specifically unattractive characters in some of her biggest roles:
    • She plays the title character in Jane Eyre, whose plainness is a major aspect of her character.
    • In The Science of Sleep she plays the plain woman whom the main character initially ignores in favor of her more attractive roommate.
    • In 21 Grams, she plays a cuckolded wife whose sick husband acquires a more attractive mistress.
  • Audrey Hepburn; her characters were supposed to be embarrassingly frumpy and unattractive in such movies as Sabrina, Funny Face, My Fair Lady (until the makeovers)... even though she was voted the most beautiful woman in the world. Aside from having her wear plain clothes, the movies made no effort to hide her beauty. Values Dissonance is partly at play here - as she didn't quite match the standards of beauty at the timenote , and wasn't as uptight about having her costumes hide her body flaws as other stars.
  • Kate Winslet, of all people, tends to get this a lot:
    • Enigma: Even anti-dolled to look ordinary, she's still pretty.
    • Little Children: Her supposed frumpiness is a plot point but many viewers don't buy it because it's still Kate Winslet. Roger Ebert found it pretty laughable.
    • A key scene in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind features Jim Carrey's character trying to convince her that she's pretty. This is at least done realistically, as it's shown Clementine has massive body image issues.
  • (500) Days of Summer has one random guy react with shock that Summer is dating Tom. He's played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who was a teen heartthrob for years. He's given baggy clothes and hair in his eyes, and the rest of the characters state that Summer is out of his league.
  • Alien from L.A.: Wanda is supposed to be nerdy, frumpy and awkward, with dorky glasses and bad hair. She's played by supermodel Kathy Ireland.
  • In Baby Mama, Dr. Bicknell the fertility specialist is older than most of the other characters and is treated as a disgusting, perverted hag for having young children at her age. Her actress? Sigourney Weaver.
  • Batman & Robin - before Poison Ivy becomes Poison Ivy, she's mousy scientist Pamela Isley. She's given glasses, baggy clothes and frizzy hair. Then after her transformation she just starts to look like Uma Thurman with red hair.
  • Batman Returns brings us Michelle Pfeiffer, then in her early thirties, as Catwoman. Some mousy clothes, frizzy hair, and clumsiness somehow hides her attractiveness from everyone in the movie except Bruce Wayne. It didn't hide it from the audience, who are left trying to square the circle of how the movie is trying to frame that woman as a Crazy Cat Lady spinster nobody would date.
  • Black Christmas (2006) has a sorority sister called Eve, who's meant to be the weird one in comparison to the glamorous beauties in the main cast. She has her hair pulled back into an unflattering ponytail, given Nerd Glasses and framed with dutch angles. Her actress Kathleen Kole was actually a model.
  • In The Breakfast Club, Allison "Basket Case" Reynolds is depicted as an outcast who is seen as weird and unappealing. At the end of the movie, she even gets a makeover to look more traditionally attractive. And while her act-crazy-for-attention behavior might be off-putting, a lot of people would argue that she doesn't actually look bad. Many viewers preferred her stylish gothic pre- makeover look (messy hair, heavy eyeliner, dark thrift shop clothes) over her generically pretty post-makeover one —including the actress herself, Ally Sheedy. In Sheedy's defense this was Truth in Television: Sheedy herself has stated that her career suffered because she was often considered "not sexy enough" at the time:
    "I was told point-blank that my career was moving slowly because “nobody wants to fuck you.” There was something about me, sexually, that wasn’t selling."
  • In Be Kind Rewind, Melonie Diaz's character, Alma, is played up as ugly when the male filmmakers are forced to take her over her more attractive sister. They achieve this by... having her sniff and rub her nose a couple of times. It's quickly forgotten and she's the hot girl for the rest of the movie. Especially egregious as she had just starred in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints playing the neighborhood hottie.
  • The film adaptation of Beastly has several examples:
    • Lindy is supposed to be a Plain Jane (albeit one who cleans up nicely) who is more concerned with books and her classwork than looking pretty. The movie version casts Vanessa Hudgens in the role, and "uglifies" her with messy hair, bangs, and a boho wardrobe. Apart from being a bit less polished, she looks no different than the "hot" popular girls.
    • The witch, Kendra, is described as overweight and hideous, with bad teeth and skin, a hooked nose, green hair, and ratty black clothes (i.e. like a traditional Wicked Witch). In the film, Kendra is...a slightly-plump Mary-Kate Olsen with bleached eyebrows, heavy makeup (with the odd facial piercing and tattoo) and (fashionably) eccentric hairstyles and outfits. She looks like a Gothic runway model, but the popular students still treat her as if she's hideous (with Kyle calling her a "self-mutilated, tattooed Frankenskank").
    • The same goes for any of the other "ugly" students Kyle puts down during his campaign rally. None of them are even below average appearance-wise, but he still treats them as if they're hideously disfigured. Of particular note is a shy boy whom Kyle says has "a face like a burnt Lego."
    • Then there is the beast himself. In the book, he's turned into an actual beast (fur, fangs, et cetera). In the movie, he just loses his hair and gets a lot of tattoos and scars. Not ideal, but nowhere near as bad as being a literal monster. The way he reacts to this more realistic appearance (coupled with the way he treats average-looking and marginally attractive people) adds a lot of new implications about his character.
  • Blended: Hilary Freidman, due to being raised by her widower father, has no fashion sense and is unattractive to the point of being confused for a boy and being nicknamed Larry. The problem is that Hilary is played by the feminine and beautiful Bella Thorne. They try to make her less attractive via an unflattering haircut and clothes, but it doesn't really work. When Hilary gets a makeover, she literally just looks like Bella normally does.
  • The '50s educational short film Body Care and Grooming tries to make the point that you're more attractive if you bathe regularly and wear presentable clothes... but the opening scene absurdly claims an attractive actress is repulsive to men because her hair's unkempt and her clothes haven't been ironed.
  • Bessie Love's character in The Broadway Melody is supposed to be the "talented but plain" sister in a singing and dancing duo. This is Bessie Love.
  • Brokeback Mountain:
    • In the short story by Annie Proulx, Ennis is described as "scruffy" and Jack is described as short and having buckteeth. Needless to say, Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal do not exactly spring to mind.
    • Besides, during their time herding sheep on the mountain, both are cleaned up quite a bit better than real cowboys would be.
  • Carrie:
    • The book's first two adaptations manage to skirt around this with the titular character; in the original Sissy Spacek's character is said that she would look nicer if she made an effort, as demonstrated at the prom. And the 2002 remake has Angela Bettis go down the Beauty Inversion route to be believable as an outcast. But the 2013 version casts the beautiful Chloë Grace Moretz as Carrie. Even if her hair is messed up, it's still fashionably layered with perfect highlights. She does at least work hard to make Carrie's attitude believable for a socially awkward girl.
    • Spacek herself was nearly cast as one of the pretty, popular girls (even though did well reading for the part of Carrie White) because the director thought she was too attractive to be believable as a high school outcast. Spacek showed up for her second reading in a homemade dress, with her face and hair unwashed, and mumbled her way through her lines. The rest is history. The ultimate irony of this movie? In high school Sissy Spacek was voted the Homecoming Queen.
  • Grizabella of Cats is meant to be a withered old has-been past her prime. She was quite beautiful in her Glory Days, but that is long gone. The 2019 film has Jennifer Hudson in the role, who was only 37, and not attempted to be rendered in any way uglier or more grizzled than the other cast members.
  • Circle Of Friends: Minnie Driver's character is supposed to be dowdy and heavyset (at one point she refers to herself as a "heifer"). Even playing her against the gorgeous Saffron Burrows doesn't make this work.
  • Countess Dracula dramatizes the story of Elisabeth Bathory, who legend has it bathed in the blood of young women to restore her youth and beauty. At the start she's meant to be past her prime, yet is played by 60s and 70s sex symbol Ingrid Pitt in old age make-up and a matronly dress to hide her figure. Once the blood has its effect, Ingrid Pitt just looks like herself and showcases her beauty. They do, however, have her become more deformed each time she snaps back into her older self.
  • The Courtship of Andy Hardy (1942) has the title character mercy-dating the daughter of a divorcing couple on whose case his father, a judge, is working. She's depicted as such a "droop" that at one point Andy has to pay his chums to dance with her at a school prom. She's also played by Donna Reed.
  • Dogfight, starring River Phoenix and Lili Taylor, is about a crew of Marines who challenge each other to a 'dogfight' - finding the ugliest girl they can and bringing her to a party. Phoenix's character selects Taylor's character in order to win this 'dogfight'. By Hollywood standards, she's hideous. By any real-world standards, she's reasonably attractive. Interestingly enough, the script had her written as being overweight, but Lili Taylor endeared the director with her performance (though she did have to gain weight and have her costumes padded).
  • The entire premise of The DUFF hinges on the notion that Mae Whitman could pass for a "Designated Ugly Fat Friend", just because she's slightly huskier than the other leading female character. Though it's made clear that you don't have to be ugly or fat to count as such. Still, it's emphasized that she's unpopular because she's awkward and shy and has "unpopular tastes," but even then, someone as attractive as Whitman makes awkwardness much more charming and endearing, and her "strange tastes" (liking old or obscure movies) aren't really that strange or unpopular enough to warrant anyone running for the hills. A lot of her status also relies on the fact that her friends are more 'traditional' in terms of personality and beauty, and people would rather use her as a stepping stone to get to them.
  • The Enchanted Cottage: The main woman is so "homely" that no guys will dance with her, young boys comment on her looks, and she generally limits her social life in despair. Later, a man breaks off with his fiancée and considers suicide over a barely visible war scar. As the two fall in love, they become beautiful in each other's eyes - represented on camera by a strange blur on their features.
  • Failure to Launch: Justin Bartha is the ugly one. Not the plain one and not played as a joke; repeatedly throughout the movie he is referred to as being ugly. So is Zooey Deschanel; they are hooked up by friends on the theory that since they are both so ugly neither would be able to find anyone else.
  • In the extended edition of The Fellowship of the Ring Sam remarks that Aragorn aka Strider “looks foul”. True, Sam doesn’t trust him at that point, but “foul” is a word that does not apply to the obviously incredibly handsome and rugged Viggo Mortensen. This probably due to lifting the line from the book where Aragorn is described as weatherbeaten and shady looking when he first appears as a ranger and it’s only later when he symbolically becomes more kingly as The Leader that he is described as handsome. In the film he’s a looker from the start, so Sam’s line is confusing. It would have been even more egregious with the original actor for Aragorn - Pretty Boy Stuart Townsend!
  • Uma Thurman gets this treatment in Final Analysis, where a lack of makeup is enough to make her the mousy and plain younger sister to the glamorous Kim Basinger.
  • Final Destination often seems to do this with its heroines.
    • The first film's female lead is Clear Rivers - who's meant to be a loner that Alex wouldn't have noticed until the disaster bonded them. As she was played by late '90s/early 2000s super hottie Ali Larter, her blonde hair is dyed brown and cut into an unflattering fringe, and she's given baggy clothes to suit her 'weird artist' persona.
    • The second film likewise has AJ Cook as the plainer girl in her group of friends - in contrast to her more outgoing and vampy friend Sheena. AJ Cook likewise dyes her hair dark brown and wears modest coats and cardigans for most of the film.
    • The third film's script describes the protagonist Wendy as "pretty but not the most attractive girl in school". They cast Mary Elizabeth Winstead and her hair is lightly tousled.
  • Georgy Girl: The main character Georgy, meant to be a "brontosaurus" of a girl, is played by Lynn Redgrave. Because of this the character, despite being slightly overweight and frequently making grotesque faces, is still attractive. The trope is somewhat justified in that Georgy's insecurity and social awkwardness make her seem less attractive than she actually is.
  • Frankie & Johnny: In the stage original, the plain girl was played, to great acclaim, by Kathy Bates, who fits the casting requirement by being not particularly physically attractive. For the movie version, the part was recast to Michelle "Catwoman" Pfeiffer.
  • Gone with the Wind cast famous screen beauty Olivia de Havilland as the "plain" Melanie. They get around this by giving her very simple dresses in contrast to the other ladies' elaborate finery.
  • Parodied in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Drax and Mantis are both pretty good-looking, but their species have different standards of beauty and as a result, they find each other physically repulsive, even after they become close friends. When Drax is made to imagine them being in a sexual relationship, he comes startlingly close to vomiting. And during the ending, they have this exchange:
    Mantis: It's beautiful.
    Drax: Yes it is. And so are you.
    Drax: On the inside.
  • Halloween (1978) portrays Laurie Strode as the shy girl who supposedly scares guys away and has never had a date. She's played by the gorgeous Jamie Lee Curtis, who would later become a sex symbol in the 80s.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Hermione Granger is given a significant dose of Adaptational Attractiveness - the book counterpart is described as having bushy hair and large front teeth. They did initially give Emma Watson fake teeth but she found it hard to act in them. From the second film onwards, her Messy Hair was cutely curled and she was often seen in flattering clothes, with not even an attempt to look plain. While the films didn't incorporate too much of this aspect of the character in the adaptation (the only time in the films she's referred to as "homely" is in an article by Rita Skeeter, not meant to be taken seriously), the She Cleans Up Nicely moment from the Yule Ball is still intact - making it a little odd that Harry's jaw dropped at seeing Hermione dolled up, when she looks quite good in every other scene too. J. K. Rowling even says that it was lucky she spoke to Emma on the phone before meeting with her (knowing she was perfect when she spoke for a minute without taking a breath) and going Oh, Crap! at how pretty she was.
    • Luna Lovegood mildly as well. The book's description is not too flattering - implying she doesn't wash too often and her hair is quite tangled and unkempt (especially in comparison to a younger photo Harry sees of her before her mother's death). Evanna Lynch plays the role in the films and is positively gorgeous, while her fashions look more endearingly quirky than off-putting. Evanna's portrayal of Luna's oddball personality, however, is spot-on, at least making it believable that people might avoid her. Indeed, Evanna wrote in her autobiography about her issues with body image, including being hospitalised for anorexia.
    • The films had to seriously dress down Matthew Lewis from Order of the Phoenix onward; Neville is meant to be the runt of the group, but the actor went through a massive growth spurt and filled out, so they had to give him shaggy hair and unflattering sweaters and cardigans. They gave him something of an Adrenaline Makeover for the final two films, reflecting his newfound confidence thanks to Character Development. Tellingly, a few years later he starred in Me Before You as the latter in a Betty and Veronica love triangle.
    • Helena Bonham Carter is given bad teeth, slightly messy hair, and pale skin in an attempt to capture the 'Azkaban had taken most of her beauty' description of Bellatrix Lestrange. Instead, she came across as more of an Unkempt Beauty.
  • The Harvey Girls includes Alma from Ohio, who mentions several times that she couldn't get married because her face is so ugly. She's played by Virginia O'Brien, on the left, no less attractive than co-stars Judy Garland and Cyd Charisse.
  • Heartbreakers has Paige react with disgust that her mother liked Dean, claiming she has to be in serious denial when she says "Dean was kind of cute". You'd think Ray Liotta was a hunchbacked leper from how she goes on about him.
  • The Help: A plot point in both the book and the movie is the plainness of Skeeter. However, in the film version, Skeeter is played by the lovely Emma Stone. Most viewers find it difficult to believe that a character as beautiful as that would have trouble attracting men, even if the filmmakers tried to make her "ugly" by giving her "frizzy" hair.
  • Mary Bee Cuddy, the frontier spinster heroine of The Homesman played by Hilary Swank. Two men refuse to marry her, partly because she's too "plain." While not movie-star gorgeous, she's an average nice-looking woman, not unattractive by real-world standards. (However, in both the movie and the novel, it seems likely that their primary reason for rejecting her is the other one they give, that she's "bossy.")
  • The Hours - Nicole Kidman, renowned bombshell, is given a prosthetic nose to play homely writer, Virginia Woolf.
  • All the characters in The House Bunny Shelly meets at the sorority qualify - most notably Natalie, who is explicitly said to be a virgin and undesirable, even by the standards of the Betas. It's implied that no guy would ever be interested in her...despite the fact that she's played by Emma Stone, and her plainness is really nothing more than glasses, a ponytail, and tending toward bland clothing.
  • I Know What You Did Last Summer:
    • Elsa, Helen's older sister, was given a significant dose of Adaptational Attractiveness compared to the book. The script wrote her as plain, but the director decided to cast Bridgette Wilson, who was a former teen beauty queen. She's given a pair of glasses to make Helen seem like the beauty of the family, but she looks like a supermodel herself.
    • Julie is meant to look like "shit run over twice" thanks to the guilt of the accident. Jennifer Love Hewitt's hair is just worn straight (compared to how curly it was in the opening) and she's slightly pale. Then again, that comment is coming from Barry and it's used to show him as a Jerkass.
  • The Ipcress File: Michael Caine is playing a British spy who's supposed to be an inversion of the James Bond-style spy - instead of suave and gorgeous, he's supposed to be a funny-looking Cockney who seduces women by cooking for them. Unfortunately, he wasn't unattractive - he was Michael Caine, in glasses. He even loses his glasses for the second half of the movie.
  • Film adaptations of Jane Eyre are frequent victims of this trope. Jane is portrayed in the novel as being plain (hence the trope Plain Jane). However actresses who have played her on-screen include: Virginia Bruce, Joan Fontaine, Susanna York, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Mia Wasikowska.
  • Jennifer's Body subverts the trope while still exploiting it anyway. The titular Jennifer is the attractive Alpha Bitch and Needy is her "plain Jane" nerdy best friend. Needy is played by the stunning Amanda Seyfried. However, it is mentioned that Needy has to dress herself down whenever she's out with Jennifer (she's forbidden from showing any cleavage) - so it seems the latter is aware that Needy is a pretty girl who she doesn't want upstaging her. The director and screenwriter joke on the DVD commentary that only in Hollywood would Amanda Seyfried be cast as the unattractive one.
  • Last Action Hero: Lampshaded, when Danny Maddigan tries to prove that they're in a film by pointing out that none of the women are ugly, to which Jack Slater responds:
    Jack: No, this is California.
  • Jennifer Coolidge's character, Paulette, from Legally Blonde, who considers herself a mess because of her "stretch marks and fat ass", but she is only a bit frumpy and lacks self-confidence. By the end of the film, she's able to snag the hot delivery man who always flirts with her, with a little help from Elle. Keep in mind, this is the same actress who helped coin the term "MILF" in American Pie.
  • Limitless tries to present Bradley Cooper as a loser before he takes the drug by giving him a messy ponytail that he cuts off in a Makeover Montage to look like himself.
  • Deconstructed in Unforgiven. The plot is kicked off when a beautiful prostitute named Delilah is attacked and cut up by an angry client. Her coworkers put out a bounty for her attacker. Then we see Delilah in person and her injuries amount to a few small, superficial scratches on her face that haven't completely healed yet.
  • The character Jo March in Little Women, meant to be a plain tomboy, has been played by some of Hollywood's most attractive actresses, including Katharine Hepburn, Susan Dey, and Winona Ryder. The likes of Katharine Hepburn (in the 1933 film) and Saoirse Ronan (in 2019) are considered the more apt casting choices as, while very pretty actresses, they are not conventionally so and more believable against more classic beauties as the other sisters.
  • Love Potion Number Nine: Even Hollywood isn't usually shameless enough to pass off Sandra Bullock as "ugly", but she is that town's go-to actress when they need an approachable, plain, Girl Next Door type. "Usually" is the key word there, as she is supposed to be the ugly type in this film. They don't really go out of their way to make her "ugly", but merely extremely nerdy and uncaring about her appearance - no makeup, thick glasses, overbite, mousy hair, and unflattering clothes. Once she starts gaining confidence, she works on all these and her beauty shines through.
  • Marty: Ernest Borgnine (no prize himself, although that's acknowledged in the film) goes on a date with a "dog" played by former model Betsy Blair, and then-wife of Gene Kelly.
  • Mean Girls:
    • The film straddles the line with Janis. She's supposed to be an 'art freak' and considered unpopular, despite being played by Lizzy Caplan. Producers even came close to turning her down, finding her too beautiful for the character. As she was the best audition, they opted to instead give her an alternative/goth appearance rather than dressing her down. There is a big fan theory that Janis is, in fact, a former Alpha Bitch who got betrayed by Regina the same way Cady plans to do to the latter - and Lizzy Caplan's beauty is a contributing factor.
    • Gretchen was originally written to be an unattractive girl who was only in the Plastics due to her father's wealth. This was dropped and she was played by the very pretty Lacey Chabert. There are remnants of this in how Damian has to rig the voting to get her nominated for Spring Fling Queen and Regina does say that Gretchen isn't pretty - but in this case, it comes across more as cattiness on Regina's part than Gretchen being considered unattractive.
  • Miss Congeniality plays with the trope. Sandra Bullock has to get a makeover to become an Undercover Model. While she's chosen to go undercover primarily because she looks like she could pass for a pageant contestant, the jaw-dropped reactions of her co-workers and the pageant director still feel a little overblown. The pageant director even mentions that Dennis Rodman looked better in a dress when they first met although that might have been said out of spite for being arrested. It does help that she's shown having the table manners of Jabba the Hutt and the charisma of a drunk truck driver, which justifies it further.
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding: While Nia Vardalos is a very pretty woman she is anything but the typical Hollywood bombshell, which many people have stated helped make the film that much more appealing. Her homely look genuinely made her plain, and getting the makeover did wonders.
  • Now, Voyager: Bette Davis spends the first few scenes unconscionably unattractive by having... baggy clothes, unplucked eyebrows, bun hair, and glasses. It's an early example of how to 'do an Ugly Betty'; the film came out in 1942. Bette herself wanted to look even homelier and really have her costumes padded out, but the studio rejected the look for being "too grotesque". However, in a flashback to Charlotte's life at age twenty, she's shown to be quite cute - demonstrating that she's a naturally good-looking woman who's just let herself go. The film likewise downplays the cuteness of child actress Janis Wilson as Jerry's daughter Tina (glasses and messy hair) so that she can have a She Cleans Up Nicely moment to signal her character development.
  • In Only You, Andrew McCarthy's character has to make a choice between two potential girlfriends, one who is beautiful and one who is supposedly not beautiful but otherwise desirable. The supposedly plain-looking woman is played by Helen Hunt. McCarthy has to face the dilemma of whether he should settle for a woman whose worst flaw is she is only as attractive as Helen Hunt.
  • In Outlaw, Rupert Friend's character is violently attacked and scarred in the face before the events of the film, and it's repeatedly stated that his good looks have been ruined, though in fact it really only served to make him more appealing, particularly with the long, flowing hair.
  • Parodied in The Other Guys. Will Ferrell is constantly apologizing for his wife, even calling her a "battle-ax," when she is played by the obviously stunning Eva Mendes and he is the only one who doesn't realize this.
  • Penelope (2006): Christina Ricci looks cute with a pig's snout, but some of her suitors are so horrified by the sight of her that they jump out of second-story windows to get away.
  • In The Phantom of the Opera (2004), Erik is supposed to be so hideous-looking that he used to be a circus freak attraction, but thanks to one of the most infamous cases of Adaptational Attractiveness, his unmasked self just looks like Gerard Butler with a mild rash on one side of his face.
  • Ashley Tisdale played a nerdy girl in Picture This. One of the earliest shown pieces of 'evidence' that she's a nerd is a scene that makes a big deal about her wearing 'granny panties' Except, it's not grannie panties, it's clearly a thong; you can see the leg holes of it. It's a cartoon print thong, but still a thong. The most the film does is give her tomboy-looking clothes and big glasses.
  • Polar: Vanessa Hudgens' stunning looks are downplayed a lot by dressing her in baggy clothes and not having her put on any make-up. This makes sense from an in-story perspective since her character is reeling from past trauma.
  • In Portrait Of A Lady: Isabel and Henrietta go on about how ugly Caspar Goodwood is. That's Viggo Mortensen. Viggo Mortensen with slightly silly hair, but still...
  • Pride and Prejudice:
    • In the 2005 movie, Lizzie Bennett, described by Mr. Darcy as 'tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me', is played by Keira Knightley. While this is used to show Darcy as a jerk, it's made clear older sister Jane is the beauty of the county while Elizabeth is fairly attractive but not stunningly beautiful - words that do not describe Keira Knightley.note  It's even worse with Mary. Once they get into their ballgowns, it becomes ridiculous to call her plain or plainer than her sisters. The movie also files off Mary's more unlikeable traits - such as being a Know-Nothing Know-It-All and anti-social snob.
    • In the 1995 miniseries, the older sister (the pretty one, according to dialogue) is plain compared to Lizzie. This crosses over with Values Dissonance; Susannah Harker, who played Jane, fits the Regency ideal of beauty perfectly, but that ideal has shifted to the point where modern viewers consider Jennifer Ehle more attractive. Additionally, there was a fashion in the Regency period for dark-haired, pale-skinned women, so Jennifer Ehle might have attracted more attention in that era as well.
  • The Princess Diaries: Mia is supposed to be an ugly duckling before her princess makeover. However, wearing glasses and having a bad perm isn't enough to make Anne Hathaway look ugly. Sure, she looks a lot better after her princess makeover, but she never looks that terrible. She certainly doesn't warrant the massive wince Paolo gives when he first sees her.
  • The Quiet: Camilla Belle's character is described as being unattractive by several characters. One character goes as far to say that she is a hermaphrodite. The only thing that makes her "ugly" is the fact she has short hair, minimal make-up on, and wears boys' clothing. In real life, Camilla Belle is as beautiful as Elisha Cuthbert.
  • Combined with Adaptational Attractiveness, this is the case with Samantha, a.k.a. Art3mis, in the film adaptation of Ready Player One. In the book, she has a dark red birthmark over the right side of her face, over which she has a great deal of insecurity. In the movie, the birthmark is much smaller, covering a small part of her forehead and her right eye, which she keeps hidden behind her hair. Moreover, she's played by the beautiful Olivia Cooke. Naturally, Honest Trailers had a field day with this, with the Narrator making a reaction of exaggerated disgust upon seeing her.
  • In the Revenge of the Nerds series, Omega Mu is an entire sorority of these, and become a Distaff Counterpart to the Tri-Lamb nerds. They're not traditionally pretty and are (at least in their first appearance) dressed and made up to look frumpy and off-putting, but turn out to be surprisingly fun at parties - not to mention they don't have any hangups about nerds. In the first movie, Booger remarks that "They're cows!" and has to resort to weed to get along with them; in the third he's absolutely excited to have a chance to party with the Mu again.
  • In The Saint (1997), the character Emma Russell is implied to be a wallflower who rarely receives male attention, which makes her very vulnerable to Simon Templar's seduction technique. She's played by Elisabeth Shue, who is quite attractive.
  • She's All That: A teenage film take on the Pygmalion story involves a bet to get any girl in school to win prom queen. After scanning the whole school, they settle on the obviously attractive Rachael Leigh Cook as the least likely to be named prom queen. She just wears glasses and paint-colored overalls - not to mention being a bit of a klutz. A minor makeover is all she needs to become a prom queen. The film does at least make an attempt to address this by having the character point out that the reason Rachael Leigh Cook would be a hard sell for prom queen is not so much her looks as her scary and inaccessible personality. Not Another Teen Movie parodies this by having the guys scan the crowd and decide that the conjoined twins, hippie albino, hunchback, and others are not ugly enough, but that the girl with glasses, a ponytail, and paint-covered overalls (played by the clearly attractive Chyler Leigh) is the ugliest by far.
  • She's Out of My League: has characters assign attractiveness values to each other. Kirk (played by Jay Baruchel) is given a 5. Many of the other ratings could be disputed by viewers.
  • In Sin City, Marv states that he's so intimidating that he could never even hire a prostitute. Mickey Rourke wears prosthetics to exaggerate his facial features and match the comics, but the result does not say "ugly." With his lantern jaw and large nose, he looks more like an extremely weathered superhero.
  • In Sleepover, the lead female runs into a "ticket girl" who couldn't go into the prom because she has never been able to get a date. The actress playing the ticket girl? Summer Glau.
  • In Sorority Boys, most of the girls in Delta Omega Gamma, the "loser" sorority, really are plain in appearance... except for the president, a cute blonde with Meganekko glasses. Guess who the main love interest is?
  • In the 1983 film adaptation of Sparkling Cyanide, Iris, the "plain but clever" sister of the family, is played by beautiful Deborah Raffin, a model. No attempt is made to make her unattractive except giving her less revealing dresses and less brightly-coloured makeup than her Brainless Beauty sister wears.
  • The Spectacular Now plays with this. Sutter's best friend reacts with shock that he's choosing to date Aimee Finicky. While she's a shy geek girl, she's still Shailene Woodley. Shailene notably insisted on not wearing make-up for the role - feeling Aimee wouldn't - but she's still a cutie. Sutter even says that two guys were checking her out at the first party he takes her to. When she dolls up for the prom near the end, she's just as gorgeous as any other girl in the film.
  • Each of the different Spider-Man films play around with this, with Dawson Casting conflicts matters.
    • Tobey Maguire from the Spider-Man Trilogy did an excellent job playing Peter as an awkward wallflower, and while Maguire is by no means ugly (he is in fact quite the Pretty Boy, with innocent blue Puppy-Dog Eyes, and is often mistaken for Mr. Fanservice Jake Gyllenhaal and vice versa), he isn't quite conventionally handsome (even James Franco meanly said he had "frog-like" features), which fits the geeky character Peter is written as. Though Maguire's Peter Parker still acts awkward even when he's Spider-Man, which differs from the comic where he's a quip happy Thrill Seeker.
    • Andrew Garfield from The Amazing Spider-Man plays this more straight, though this ends up being Truer to the Text as a result. He does do a good job acting geeky and awkward, but since Garfield is a more conventionally handsome lead, his "loser" portrayal is presented as him being really shy (including having a stutter), especially around girls, as well as being a scruffy dresser with a bad haircut. The sequel actually utilises this to show Peter's Character Development, as by graduation he'd completely grown out of this, having a much nicer haircut with an improved wardrobe, as the experiences in the first film had improved his self-confidence.
    • Tom Holland from the MCU plays this as well as Garfield did, as Tom's ripped physique and handsome face led to memes about people being glad he's not actually 15, and though he's said to be an unpopular loser, he's easily the most handsome kid in his class and doesn't appear to have any trouble making friends (especially as he now goes to a charter school that caters to young intellectuals). Like Garfield, there's at least attempts to show Peter being shy around girls as he has trouble asking out Liz and MJ, but he doesn't seem to struggle at casual conversations.
  • Strictly Ballroom: In a similar manner to Nia Vardalos in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Tara Morice is not typical Hollywood stunning. However, her transformation as Fran is nothing short of breathtaking.
  • Tamara: The eponymous character is considered unattractive before she undergoes her Evil Makeover. Before that, it is just the very attractive Jenna Dewan with no make-up on and unflattering clothing. The first time we see her in the movie, she's having a dream about what she would be like if she were attractive, demonstrating the fact that Dewan is an absolute knockout. It makes the attempts to present her as "ugly" afterward laughable. It's understandable that they had to cast a hot chick in order to make her transformation believable.
  • Many critics got a lot of mileage out of mocking Tyler Perry's Temptation for presenting Lance Gross as the safe, bland alternative to sinister charmer Robbie Jones, even though both men are equally charming, equally handsome and have matching six-pack abs.
  • The Ten Commandments (1956) goes on (and on and on) about the noble choice Moses makes to marry the plain Sephora over the gorgeous Nefretiri. The filmmakers make Yvonne De Carlo look "plain" by putting dirt on her face in most scenes, and not giving her the sparkly dresses that Anne Baxter wears, but she's still Yvonne De Carlo.
  • Thoroughly Modern Millie: Miss Dorothy is drop-dead gorgeous while Millie pales in comparison. Miss Dorothy is believable enough as she's played by Mary Tyler Moore but Millie is played by Julie Andrews; young, cute Julie Andrews wearing flashy flapper dresses.
  • In Total Recall (2012), a not-uglified-at-all Colin Farrell is presented as the in-universe Ugly Guy to Kate Beckinsale's Hot Wife.
  • Janeane Garofalo. Despite being cute, she was almost always cast as unattractive and caustic characters. For instance The Truth About Cats & Dogs, with Roger Ebert flat-out stating in his review, "The movie is based upon the presumption that Garofalo is not pretty, and of course, she is." She was outspoken about her frustration with the typecasting and eventually lost a lot of weight so that she could get other roles.
  • V. in Francis Ford Coppola's Twixt, to an extent. She comments that other kids mock her for her overbite; aside from said overbite and her wearing braces (both of which are barely noticeable), the film does nothing to deter from the fact that she's played by Elle Fanning.
  • Vampire Academy - Natalie Dashkov is a very shy, awkward gawky vampire nerd girl who hangs out with the heroines. In the movie, she's Sarah Hyland in glasses.
  • A Walk to Remember: The character of Jamie Sullivan. Although the character was never intended to be unattractive (merely unconcerned with her appearance) the audience has a hard time believing the shock of the other characters during her Beautiful All Along moment given actress Mandy Moore's natural beauty.
  • Wanted: The producers considered James McAvoy to be the runt of the litter when it came to casting Wesley Gibson's character, but ultimately chose him because they felt he looked so regular that viewers would be able to relate to him more.
  • The portrayal of Eunice in What's Up, Doc? combines this with Values Dissonance. Despite being played by Madeline Khan, she's the target of multiple ugly jokes in the film, mainly from Barbra Streisand's character of Judy. This, along with Eunice being supposedly a needy, high-maintenance shrew, is supposed to make the audience want Howard to end up with Judy, despite Judy being an obsessive troublemaking stalker who brings chaos wherever she shows up.
  • The most egregious example comes from the 1960 film Where the Boys Are where Connie Francis's character is supposed to have a hard time finding a date that isn't intimidated by her athletic abilities and is supposed to be overall unattractive, with the actress involved, it's hard to take it at face value.
  • While You Were Sleeping presents Sandra Bullock of all people as a shy, mousey Chicago transportation employee who seems to have few friends or loved ones. Perhaps invoked, since her character's primary problem in the movie is less physical attractiveness and more self-esteem; her 'unattractiveness' mainly comes from her character's tendency to wear unflattering and oversized clothing that reflects her general lack of confidence in herself. What's revealed of the backstory also implies that her lack of friends is mainly because she's only relatively recently moved to the city to take care of her ailing father, only for him to pass away not long before the events of the movie.
  • The Woman in White adaptations are chronically affected by the trope. Marian Halcombe, a Butter Face lady who is explicitly described as very ugly, especially in contrast with her beautiful sister, is always played by good-looking actresses such as Tara Fitzgerald or Jessie Buckley.
  • Wonder Woman 1984 gives us Diana's archenemy, Cheetah aka Barbara Minerva. Much like Catwoman in Batman Returns, Barbara pre-transformation is awkward and mousy, with frizzy hair, baggy dresses, and giant glasses, and she's completely forgettable to all of her coworkers except Diana. Not only is Kristen Wiig still beautiful, but her sense of fashion was actually trendy in the '80s for average women in their day-to-day lives, whereas her Evil Makeover made her look like a blonde Pat Benatar.
  • In A Wrinkle in Time (2018) Meg considers herself unattractive becuase she wears glasses and lacks confidence, which causes her to be bullied. Later on she is confronted by "better Meg" who looks exactly the same as her except missing the glasses and is wearing a stylish outfit. note 
  • Who did they get to play Kevin James' Plain Jane best friend in Zookeeper? Rosario Dawson!
  • Matilda in Zoolander. It's a deliberate joke because the movie itself is a joke and stars male models.

  • A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez parodies this:
    I had yet to dare look in the mirror for fear of being driven mad by my own hideousness. Now I chanced a sidelong glance through the corner of my eye. It was not the sanity-twisting sight I had expected, but still a far cry from lovely.
    "But what about these?" I cupped the large, fatty mounds on my chest.
    "Those are breasts," Ghastly Edna said. "They're supposed to be there."
    "But they're"
    "Round. Firm." She sighed. "That's how they're supposed to be. Ideally."
  • While Lulu from Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody is considered a Bishoujo by those from Japan, she is considered to have an unfortunate, ugly look in her own world.
  • Isabella in Hollow Places. The protagonist describes her as, "Pretty enough to star in a medicine ad." Attractive but noticeably plain.
  • A perennial favorite of tabloid magazines is to show candid photos of starlets without makeup. But since most of them are still stunningly beautiful, tabloids will choose the most unflattering photos possible: bad lighting, bad angle, bad posture, being tired or upset, hair tied back, in addition to not wearing makeup.note  If all that wasn't enough, the photos are then compared to their most airbrushed glamour shots, with the rather hypocritical implication that nothing in Hollywood is real.
  • Nerdanel in The Silmarillion is described as homely, but this is also an Elf. This most likely means she is still very attractive when compared to an attractive human female - just not nearly as beautiful as Galadriel, Lúthien, or Arwen.
  • In Gone Girl, Nick considers his twin sister Go to be this in-universe, commenting that she's actually quite pretty in an offbeat, old-fashioned kind of way. She's only considered plain or ugly because she's a "strange-faced" tomboy living in an era where society favors slender, polished, ultra-feminine women. Nick compares her to the leading ladies of 1930s screwball comedies, and theorizes that she'd have been considered attractive if she lived in that decade.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock:
    • Liz Lemon is seen as unattractive and gross by most of the other characters on the show. This is despite being played by Tina Fey, who is far from ugly in real life. She's not as much portrayed as unattractive as she is unappealing and undateable. It's suggested she is a woman whose life is out of order, wears inappropriate clothing, eats horribly, works too much, and doesn't get enough sleep. The people who call her ugly are Jenna (who is crazy and jealous), Jack (who usually just points out her horrible choices), and Jack's associates (who have extremely high standards and are rich person mean). This portrayal could instead be the result of Unreliable Expositors, given that she surrounds herself with horribly vain, manipulative people, and is ordinary only in comparison. Her perceived attractiveness does seem to fluctuate at times, since Frank does say he considers her bone-worthy, to the detriment of Jenna, and Liz herself tries to invoke Beautiful All Along when she goes to her high school reunion, only to find out her schoolmates never found her too unattractive, but rather mean. Her Heel Realization comes from the reveal that she was her own Unreliable Expositor.
    • This is lampshaded in the episode "Cleveland". When Liz goes to Ohio she is offered a modeling contract and is complimented by people on the street.
      Jenna: We're all models west of the Allegheny.
    • Also justified in-universe in a scene where Liz walks in front of a high-definition camera and the monitor shows her as a horrifically ugly woman.
    • In the season 2 episode "Somebody to Love", Edie Falco explains that six reconstructive surgeries made her much better-looking than she used to be, and Alec Baldwin gets a slap for saying she did make love like an ugly girl. In the Lifetime movie about the Falco character, the ugly version is played by Hollywood homely Kristen Wiig.
  • Absolutely Fabulous: There was a constant stream of fat jokes at the expense of Jennifer Saunders, even though she didn't even look fat. Meanwhile Julia Sawalha, who was and still is a very attractive woman, is given oversized glasses, an unflattering wardrobe, and a bad haircut and cast as the "frumpy" Saffron.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Agent Fitz saw himself this way in the first two seasons. Even though actor Iain De Caestecker is by no means ugly, he's attractive in a boyish sense. In the show, he's insecure about his appearance and feels he can't compete with the tall, manly, and muscular Ward and Tripp for the affections of Daisy or his longtime crush Simmons. He grows a backbone over time, however, and does eventually win his lady.
  • The Andy Griffith Show: Andy and his girlfriend help out a farmer's daughter by giving her dresses and makeup in order to make her look good. Her "non-beautiful" state consisted of the (beautiful) actress with a few dirt smudges instead of rouge.
  • Angel:
    • In "Belonging", an obnoxious commercial director bullied Cordelia for being unattractive. It's lampshaded as unreasonable in-universe by her appalled friends and Angel tries to stand up for her.
    • Doyle refers to himself as "homely" when he's played by the cute Glenn Quinn, who just has odd fashion choices and the slightest hint of a beer belly.
    • "Lonely Hearts" had a monster that switched hosts through sex. It transferred from a male host who looked like an underwear model to a girl described as "Sarah plain and tall" that Cordy declared must be loaded to have such an attractive paramour. She's a gorgeous blonde girl who is no less attractive than anyone else on the show. Then again, this is before Cordy (fresh out of Buffy at the time, and still known for being rude and shallow) got some much-needed Character Development. The demon then shows that it really knows how to make its hosts look good.
  • Arrested Development:
    • Ann's not really played as "ugly," as much as that she's boring/unmemorable.
    • Played for comedy with Kitty Sanchez, who is played by the attractive Judy Greer. While George Bluth Sr. keeps her as a mistress, Lovable Sex Maniac Gob finds her repulsive. Her "ugliness" is achieved by crossing her eyes when she's not wearing her glasses and having frizzy hair when she lets it down. To play the ugliness up further, she also gets a pair of unfortunate breast implants.
    • Lindsey's inability to attract attention from men is a recurring theme throughout the show, despite being played by the gorgeous Portia de Rossi.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): Galen Tyrol complains in one episode that he had to "settle" for the canonically plain Cally, played by the gorgeous Nicki Clyne. Admittedly this is after he'd been in a relationship with Boomer, played by the absolutely stunning Grace Park, but this is very much a matter of taste.
  • The Big Bang Theory: While the characters vary considerably in their stated levels of attractiveness, the actors playing them are never ugly. They are, however, portrayed as shameless nerds, horrible dressers, and with unflattering hairstyles. If you want to see how they can look better, check out some of the later photo shoots.
  • The third Blackadder series has the Prince frequently referred to as fat (as historically he was) and having trouble with women, in spite of being played by the very thin (and popular with women) Hugh Laurie.
  • Bones: In the episode "The Witch In the Wardrobe" Booth and Brennan spy on a group of Wiccans who perform their ceremony naked and Booth asked, "Why doesn't this ever happen with people you'd want to see naked?" Yet when we see coven members in the full light of day (and clothed alas), none of them register as less than slightly above average in looks.
  • The Brady Bunch:
    • The fact that Peter and Jan tend to be more socially awkward than Greg and Marcia is the only way that episodes like "The Not So Ugly Duckling" or "Cyrano de Brady" are plausible; the general consensus amongst viewers is that the middle children were actually the best-looking of the Brady kids. Over the course of the series they went through visible pubescent awkward stages and in the last season they were so clearly attractive that the writers gave in and reversed course. These episodes focused on Peter juggling a date with two girls on the same night and Jan ran for "Most Popular Girl" at school, and won.
    • Greg and Marcia also deal with this trope (indirectly). In the late third-season episode "My Fair Opponent," Marcia plays the sympathetic friend when an awkward and butt-ugly classmate named Molly is nominated (as a cruel joke) for hostess of Filmore Junior High's Banquet Night... only for the makeover to work out too well and Molly becomes an insufferable snob. Greg's instance (in Season 5's "Peter and the Wolf") is averted: He merely is led to believe, based on old photographs and memories of his girlfriend, that his girlfriend's cousin still wears pigtails and braces and is horribly undesirable; the cousin turns out to be a total hottie.
    • Marcia when she had to wear braces. This is Truth in Television.
      Marcia: [sobbing] I'm ugly! Ugly! Ugly!
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Xander, despite Nicholas Brendon being an incredibly attractive guy, and the character rather witty, he is the bottom of the social barrel at Sunnydale High, and numerous cracks are made at his inability to get girls. He dates the cheerleader Cordelia from Season 2 onwards. He was told to stop working out by producers because they didn't want Xander to look too buffed. Joss mentions this trope in the DVD commentaries:
      Joss Whedon: Of course, Nicholas Brendon is way too good-looking, but this is Hollywood, so get over it.
    • Willow Rosenberg, played by the very attractive Alyson Hannigan, is in the same boat. In the original, never-aired pilot, Willow was played by Riff Regan, who is more plain. This is also part Executive Meddling, who requested that Willow be "more hip, like Buffy".
  • Charlie's Angels:
    • Farrah Fawcett, the beauty who swept the hearts of many boys in the 1970s with her gorgeous visage, plays Jill, who goes undercover with a hair bun and eyeglasses, at which point another character says, "Jill, you look terrible."
  • Chuck: Chuck himself, who is supposed to be average and dorky-looking. Even Big Mike, who habitually points out that Chuck is the only reason the store functions, is in disbelief he managed to get a woman like Sarah. Realistically, Zachary Levi is pretty much textbook tall, dark, and handsome; so he's dressed in ill-fitting clothes and given a very silly haircut. This has been acknowledged by the creators, who admit that the only reason that Chuck can pass as an ordinary guy is because his love interest is so good-looking that she makes him appear normal by comparison. Like standing a 6'4" guy (which incidentally, is Zachary Levi's actual height, hence literally Tall, Dark, and Handsome) in the middle of a 7' basketball team and calling him short.
  • Cobra Kai:
    • Downplayed with Johnny. In the beginning he is considered unattractive, in spite of being William Zabka with red eyes and a Beard of Sorrow. One he starts getting his life back together, however, he is considered very attractive, and manages to score several dates in quick succession and even win the heart of a woman two decades younger than him.
    • Similarly, Eli is originally outcast and severely bullied for the scar from his cleft palate repair. However, it is all but stated that his low social status and withdrawn nature, rather than his appearance, is the real reason he isn't considered attractive. When he takes up karate and gains some muscle, along with a lot of confidence, he definitely doesn't want for female attention. And, of course, he is played by the highly attractive and borderline Pretty Boy Jacob Bertrand.
    • Tory is supposed to be a "trailer trash"-type character, but even unflattering make-up, flannel and ripped jeans can't hide the fact that Peyton List is a drop-dead gorgeous glamour girl by birth, trade and inclination.
  • Community:
    • Annie Edison (Alison Brie) ended up as this for the first couple of episodes. The original conception of her character was much different prior to her being cast, and there were still artifacts of that in the early scripts, with some male characters treating Annie as something of an Abhorrent Admirer and getting the tacit agreement of even the more sympathetic characters; the fourth episode, for example, has Professor Duncan giving her a Backhanded Compliment by rating her an "American 8, which is a British 10". By the end of Season 1, pretty much everyone has caught on to the fact that she looks like a real-life Disney princess, and her lack of romantic success is attributed instead to her relative youth and naivete compared to the guys she tends to fall for. Season 2 attempts, belatedly, to justify the earlier use of this trope, with Annie explaining that post-rehab she has lost a lot of weight, has better skin, and has dropped a lot of less-appealing character tics. This does explain why Troy initially fails to recognise her despite them having attended school together for years (and why he might be less than thrilled that she had a crush on him), though it's still a mystery why the rest of the study group (who'd only just met her and had no idea what she looked like before) also found her unattractive to begin with.
    • There are a few jokes based around Britta not aging the best. In one episode, after telling Annie that a bar won't check Annie's fake ID because pretty girls are good for business, Britta gets her legitimate ID scoured and double-checked after Annie is waved through without incident. Professor Duncan also tells Jeff that he's attracted to Britta because she's slightly past her prime and realizes that she's going to have to settle. The show also occasionally nitpicks her appearance, such as one joke that lampoons her "vacuous mannequin eyes." Of course, Gillian Jacobs is exceptionally attractive.
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Twelve-year-old Rebecca at one point acquires enormous frizzy hair, a retainer, and bad skin, which is supposed to freak out her dad a bit, but she's still cute. Which makes it even more implausible when she's later described as having had, at some point, a hormone imbalance which made people mistake her for a guy.
  • Criminal Minds: In the episode "Legacy", a Serial Killer is preying on impoverished streetwalkers and homeless people. But his victim du jour in the episode is played by an actress with the most perfect, straight, gleaming-white teeth - the very personification of a million-dollar smile.
  • On CSI, a witness describes the female victim of the week as looking "like hell" just before her death. In the flashback, we see the woman has...perfectly done makeup and straight, neat hair, and wearing a tank top and sweatpants, both clean, neat, and tailored to her body. How hideous.
  • Desperate Housewives: Eva Longoria is supposedly over the hill and has to play The Mom when she tries to return to modeling. Eva Longoria is considered a "Hag". Sadly, this is a reflection of the modeling industry. High-Fashion models obviously have a short shelf life, and 26 is considered old; many retire (if they're lucky) or never find work again (if they're not).
  • Disney Channel Live-Action Universe:
  • Doctor Who: The scientist Osgood in "The Day of the Doctor" is told by the Zygon taking her form that she's the ugly one, unlike her pretty sister. Osgood is played by an extremely attractive actress with an unflattering hairstyle, nerd glasses, and a Doctor Who-fangirl scarfnote . Possibly justified in that the Zygon was going off her own opinion of herself rather than objective reality. (The justification was later confirmed in "Dark Water", where another character says that Osgood is 'so pretty' and really should have a higher opinion of herself.)
    • Somewhat subverted with the Doctor himself, who is usually portrayed by relatively plain or normal-looking men (with exceptions, depending on who you ask), but particularly in New!Who it's pretty clear people find him attractive anyway.
  • Dollhouse: Mellie, played by the actress Miracle Laurie, complains that she's pudgy and can't get dates because she lives in LA and has to compete with all the girls who aren't. Her love interest doesn't care, and neither does the audience, because despite being a little bigger than a size 2, she's still cute. Later exploited when it is revealed that she is a planted agent with a timid personality specifically designed to ensnare her target.
  • Downton Abbey: Edith Crawley may be outshone by her sisters (her less outgoing personality and slightly dowdy outfits have something to do with it), but she certainly isn't ugly. Yet her sister Mary and even their parents constantly harp on how Edith is homely and destined to be a lonely spinster.
    The casting of Edith was a challenge. Just as you would never cast a boring actor to play a bore, so, when you are casting a plain character, the last thing you want is a plain actress. It’s a trick, really. You need someone who is attractive, but in a different way, allowing the others to act as if she were plain. This will give the audience the sensation that they can see her inner beauty. But of course they’re not looking at her inner beauty, they’re looking at her outer beauty. Laura Carmichael is just as pretty as Michelle Dockery and Jessica Brown Findlay, but she’s got that slightly more reserved English face. The characters act that she’s the least fetching of the sisters, but she isn’t. They are, all three, very beguiling.
    Julian Fellowes, The Complete Scripts, Season 1,page 322.
  • Ray Vecchio in Due South is often compared unfavorably to his very handsome best friend Fraser, and women ignore him to pay attention to Fraser, especially when Ray has a bad wardrobe in Season 1. Never mind that Ray has beautiful green eyes and a lovely smile. He does get even more attractive in Season 2, when he has a new haircut and classier clothes, and a few women pay attention to him and not always Fraser.
  • Deconstructed in Euphoria with Kat Hernandez, who is quite heavyset but not unattractive, nor is she unpopular (her best friend is one of the most popular girls in school) or lacking for admirers (her classmate Ethan has an obvious crush on her), but suffers from low self-esteem because her childhood crush was a little shit who dumped her when she gained weight during a family vacation, and she's internalized the notion that she's ugly and has dressed in a failed attempt to hide her figure. After suddenly becoming infamous when a sex tape of her leaks onto the Internet, she gets a large boost in confidence and starts dressing in ways that play up her curves, and suddenly finds herself turning a lot of heads.
    "There's nothing more powerful than a fat girl who doesn't give a fuck."
  • Faking It: Rita Volk plays Amy, who's faking a lesbian relationship with her best friend Karma, played by Katie Stevens. Everyone in the show (including Amy herself!) immediately pegs her as "the butch one". Characters call her the Ellen to Karma's Portia, and the principal automatically assumes she'd wear the homecoming crown rather than the tiara. This from an actress who convincingly played a parody of a Jennifer Lawrence character in a previous movie. Dialogue in episode 2 suggests that Amy is supposed to be plain and unconcerned with her appearance.
  • Family Matters.
    • Steve Urkel: As proven by the 'Stefan' persona, Jaleel White is by no means unattractive, but give him thick glasses, a funny voice, and suspenders and everyone treats him as a repellent geek.
    • One episode, that is supposed to be about how true beauty comes from within, has Eddie meeting a witty, charming girl and asking her to the school dance. When he tells Waldo and Weasel who he's taking, both react as if he's going on a date with Swamp Thing, calling her a "dog". Eddie breaks the date in order not to be embarrassed when he's seen with her, but Laura calls him shallow for caring more about her looks than her personality. In the end, he decides her personality, which is what attracted him in the first place, is more important. The girl in question is, of course, a total hottie by any objective standard.
  • Father Ted's housekeeper, Mrs. Doyle, is played by the very cute Pauline McLynn under dowdy hair and makeup and a lot of goofy faces. You could almost wonder if Father Hernandez's lusting after her isn't him being weird so much as being perceptive.
  • In both Frasier (and earlier on in Cheers), Lilith's general unattractiveness was harped on. Later in Frasier, though, they do play up the fact that Bebe Neuwirth is really hot when she turns off the frump and stops being so cold.
    • Frasier's agent and one-off romance Bebe is definitely Hollywood Homely, especially by contrast to Frasier's usual sort of date. She makes up for it with personality and being a very good example of a Big Beautiful Woman.
      • Both cases seem to be more of an example of extremely ugly personalities, with Lilith seeming very cold and uncaring and Bebe hovering between cloying supplicant and ruthless she-devil.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air:
    • Carlton is often portrayed as not just dorky, but unattractive. Problem is, he's played by the handsome and surprisingly buff Alfonso Ribeiro, and his main dorky attributes (a fondness for White conservative culture) actually would have made him more attractive than Will Smith to the type of girls who attended a private Beverly Hills high school in the 1990s.
    • One episode involved the Girl of the Week bribing Will into going on dates with her, despite him not being attracted to her. At one point, Judge Carl Robertson makes fun of her appearance. However, it's pretty obvious that the girl in question is a pretty actress who just happens to have unflattering hair and clothes, and glasses. Hilariously, said girl eventually reveals that she views Will as the Hollywood Homely with his stupid haircut and his big ears, and only bribed him to go out with her to raise her own popularity. This is Will Smith.
  • Friends:
    • Ross and Chandler are definitely this. Especially Chandler in the first few seasons where all women seem to treat him like he's repulsive when actually he's quite cute and very funny. It gets better when the writing focuses on how he's socially awkward rather than unattractive. On a more notable level, Fat!Monica.
    • It's actually worse with Fat!Monica, because everyone on the show reacts as if she's monstrously huge, when in fact she's just kinda pleasantly plump. If she wasn't given unflattering clothes and 70's hairstyles (as well as a meek, wallflower personality), the song "Low" could be about her.
  • Feud is really hard on the appearance of Bette Davis. In her time, she was seen as ugly by studio heads, but these days is considered one of the great screen beauties. She didn't age particularly well by the '60s when the series happens, but she's played by Susan Sarandon - who has aged well.
  • Future Man: The title character is presented as an unattractive loser, unable to get a girlfriend even when he's a wealthy pro-gamer, despite being played by a teenage heartthrob. The same trope is averted with his unnamed gamer friend, played by rapper Awkwafina, who is described as desirable and sexually active in spite of her nerd glasses and odd behavior.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Brienne of Tarth is called Brienne the Beauty as an Ironic Nickname because she's supposed to be ugly. Her literary counterpart fits this description and is described as comically hideous. Meanwhile in the show she's played by, Gwendoline Christie, a model who isn't uglied up much beyond a few facial scratches and men's clothing/armor. It's apparently a case of Adaptational Attractiveness, and the nickname has more to do with her being a woman, though characters still treat her like she's unattractive, likely due to her butch manner and the Deliberate Values Dissonance of the setting.
    • The same can be said of Tyrion Lannister, described as severely deformed and hideous, yet played on the TV adaptation by the quite handsome Peter Dinklage. Even though some fans theorize that Tyrion could be perceived as uglier and more deformed than he actually might be because of how society reacts to his dwarfism, including himself, George R. R. Martin mentioned that Dinklage is remarkably more handsome than the way he made Tyrion Lannister to be in the books.
    • Plenty of Walder Frey's (grand-)daughters, especially those who don't get put forward by his snarky comments, are mostly uglied up with unflattering clothing and greased hair.
    • They also tried giving Obara Sand a mannish appearance in an attempt to be consistent with how she's described in the books, and at one point Olenna Tyrell tells her she looks like an "angry boy." Needless to say, Keisha Castle-Hughes is every bit as beautiful as her onscreen sisters. The biggest indicator is that she's Ms. Fanservice in many of her pre-Thrones roles.
  • General Hospital: Part of the backlash on Spinelli is that he's a greasy-haired, geeky nerd with Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness...on a Soap Opera, where anyone under a 9 is ugly. This was stretched even more when they brought in a similarly geeky girl...and hid her behind glasses, Girlish Pigtails, and clothing that went out in the mid-'90s.
  • Glee:
    • Rachel Berry is supposedly less attractive than Quinn Fabray. Now, Quinn's actress, Dianna Agron, is gorgeous, but Rachel's played by Lea Michele. In one episode, Finn describes Rachel has having "a smoking hot body...if you don't like boobs." Rachel is noticeably curvier than Quinn. In an interview with the actress she mentions how the character is not supposed to be seen as attractive in the show. Once she got bangs, started wearing more flattering clothing, and became more friendly with the glee club, the show stopped being shy about the fact that she's beautiful.
    • In the season 2 finale the coach of their rivals, Vocal Adrenaline, describes the whole club as "hideous". Admittedly Lauren is the Brawn Hilda, but the rest? Three hunky football players, one Bishōnen gay boy, three sexy cheerleaders? Even the resident nerd Artie (or at least his actor) is pretty damn attractive, chair and all. The only way this makes any is sense is as Trash Talk.
  • The Golden Girls: frequent sport was made about Dorothy being physically unattractive. Now, Bea Arthur was in her sixties when they made that show, so she wasn't a supermodel, but it's hard to argue that she was less physically attractive than Rue McClanahan, whose character was generally portrayed as being catnip on legs for every man over the age 45. This had less to do with her appearance than the fact that Dorothy had a mannish and abrasive demeanor that often caused men to overlook her in favor of outgoing and flirty Blanche and sweet-natured Rose.
  • Gotham: Oswald Cobblepot, as one would expect, is constantly called a creepy freak in-universe, with one character referring to him as a "freakish little man." This would be more convincing if he wasn't played by the rather good-looking Robin Lord Taylor with a tiny nose prosthetic, dark undereye shadows, blotchy makeup, and stained teeth - and even the last two of those disappeared in later episodes.
  • BBC adaptation of Gormenghast: Steerpike was described by Fuchsia as "so ugly", despite the fact that he is played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who is most famous for playing Mr. Fanservice roles. They would've been better off not mentioning the character's looks at all, as it only drew attention to this fact.
  • The Ugly Stepsisters in the Cinderella-inspired episode of Grimm. The older one would be prettier if she smiled, true, but the younger one is very pretty indeed.
  • Green Wing: Karen Ball is described as plain and having a "furry face", but this is mostly due to her meek and somewhat whiny personality and plain dress sense than the actress actually being ugly, though she is very flat-chested. The fact she has to work in close proximity to Rachel and Kim might also have something to do with it.
  • The Honeymooners: When Audrey Meadows first auditioned for the part of Alice Kramden, Jackie Gleason rejected her for being "too pretty". So she had a photographer come to her house early in the morning and photograph her just after waking up, morning hair, no makeup, etc. Jackie took one look at the pictures (without knowing it was Audrey) and hired her on the spot.
  • Horrible Histories: Inverted with their portrayal of Elizabeth I, where they use make-up to make the actress look quite ugly.
  • Pretty Little Liars: Mona used to have frizzy hair, thick glasses, braces and wore frumpy, dorky outfits. This made her the main target of Alpha Bitch Alison’s bullying. Alison invited Mona’s best friend, Hanna, to join her clique, and pressured her to ignore Mona. After Alison went missing, Mona removed her glasses, straightened her hair, got her braces out, and rekindled her friendship with Hanna. Hanna and Mona were both overweight and spent the Summer losing weight, and getting nicer, trendier clothes, with Hanna teaching Mona about fashion, which Hanna had learned from Alison. Mona also picked up several traits of Alison, as well as becoming the new Alpha Bitch of the school.
  • Hot in Cleveland: The premise is a Lampshade Hanging of this trope, wherein a bunch of aging Hollywood actresses have a flight layover in the title city and decide to stay after discovering that they're considered attractive there in a way they wouldn't be back in LA. One of them is Valerie Bertinelli, who was one of the most beautiful women on TV in the early '80s, and is still prettier and better-built than women years youngernote .
  • I Love Lucy:
    • Ethel was the source of constant fat jokes, despite being about the same build as Lucy. To compensate for this, the producers had her wear clothes that were several sizes too small. This was intentional on the part of Vivian Vance. She reasoned that if Fred threw fat jokes at Ethel, and she were actually fat, people would feel bad for her; if she was called fat while actually slender, the hypocrisy and dissonance would make it funny. The Urban Legend that she was contractually obligated to gain 20 pounds is untrue.
    • In-Universe, Lucy herself is considered pretty but not quite young or skinny enough for the entertainment industry - which matters when she wants to perform in her husband's show.
  • iCarly: The Chew Toy Lewbert is played by this guy. In the show itself they mention that Lewbert used to be a male model, until a psycho ex-girlfriend caused him enough grief to make a giant wart grow on his face, and at that point, he seemed to throw in the towel on hygiene.
  • Inspector Lynley: (BBC Homely?) A mild case in the televised version of the mysteries; in the books, DS Barbara Havers is committedly unattractive - middle-aged, plain, overweight, and badly dressed. Sharon Small may not fit the supermodel aesthetic, but she is stunningly pretty, and no bad haircut or baggy clothes can completely hide this, with the result that Barbara Havers is adorable for the first four series, and then genuinely pretty (they let Sharon grow her hair out for series 5 and 6). Elizabeth George, who wrote the novels, was quite upset by this until she saw Small's performance in the pilot.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
    • Averts this trope with Margaret McPoyle who is hideous. As it turns out Margaret McPoyle is played by the very attractive Thesy Surface under a lot of makeup. Don't believe it? Margaret McPoyle vs. Thesy Surface
    • Zig-zagged with Dee and Charlie. While they are played by the pretty Kaitlin Olson and the adorable Charlie Day, their long list of character flaws and poor personal hygiene routinely earns them scorn from the other members of the gang. Dee in particular manages to entice several potential romantic partners before later driving them away with her awful personality. Although what's worth noting is that Olson much prefers playing the "ugly Dee" over a standard closer-to-Earth female character.
    • The Waitress gets this treatment, too, from just about everyone besides Charlie (who is, interestingly enough, played by Mary Elizabeth Ellis's real-life husband). Shallow Dennis talks about her as if she were downright repulsive, but she is actually quite pretty. It can be assumed that she's rejected by most men because of her alcoholism and parasitic and toxic behavior.
  • The IT Crowd: Often tries to play up Jen as looking "like a man" with freakishly big feet, but Katherine Parkinson is quite attractive and Jen certainly gets a lot of dates for someone supposedly unattractive.
    • Simlarly Moss is often treated and acts like a ridiculous geek even though he's played by the very handsome Richard Ayoade dressed up in sterotypical dorky attrie. Moss also attracts multiple women in the show and is way more charming than Roy who is the more realistic nerdy guy.
  • iZombie:
    • In the second episode of the second season "Zombie Bro", a frat boy house has an apparent tradition of "dog fight parties" where each frat bro brings the "homeliest" girl they can find, the winner being the one to bring the girl you'd "last throw a bone". The winner is played by the actress Andrea Ware, and while they do add a smidgen of fake acne, jogging clothes, and frazzled ponytail to her, even if that's not already utterly transparent at first glance one look at her IMDb page clearly shows they simply cast an absolute stunner with an oddly square jawline.
  • Just Shoot Me!:
    • Maya conducts an experiment to prove beautiful people get social perks by sending both an illiterate male model and a well-qualified "ugly" guy to a job interview. She ends up proving herself as shallow as everyone else by rejecting the charming "ugly" guy and dating the clueless himbo - much to her own self-loathing. However, the actor cast as the "ugly" guy wouldn't have been out of place in GQ.
    • Maya herself was treated like this in the show's first season. While this was possibly justified by the show's setting (a high-fashion magazine), by season two they stopped trying to make anyone believe that Laura San Giacomo was in any way "homely".
  • Gui Gui plays Huang Yueying in a parody of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms called K. O. 3an Guo. She is certainly far more attractive than her character is supposed to be in legend.
  • Kamen Rider OOO: episodes #23-24. Sakura is tempted by a Yummy because she doesn't want to be "ugly", which is shown by wearing a lab coat, thick-rimmed glasses, and covering her hair. It was obvious that she was attractive under all that and it was just covered up. Date agrees.
  • The King of Queens: Doug and his friends find out that an attractive female worker at the bowling alley is quitting and being replaced by a less attractive woman. The men mock this woman like she's the deformed lovechild of Jabba the Hut and a toad, and is even given a "mercy flirt" by Doug. Many viewers would find the actress pretty.
  • The Legend of the Condor Heroes (2008): The Protagonist, Guo Jing, is described as stout and muscular, and is not known for being handsome or refined. As a matter of fact, several characters make the comparison of his relationship with Huang Rong as "A beautiful flower planted in cow dung". This becomes wince-worthy when he's played by Chinese teen heartthrob Hu Ge, who is a Real Life equivalent of a Bishōnen. To underplay his looks, he tied his hair back and slightly frizzed, along with his clothes stuffed with more material so he would look a bit bulkier. He can still look prettier than some of the female cast, and halfway through the series, they don't bother trying to uglify him (straightening his hair and giving him more flattering clothes).
  • Ben from Lost. He's played by Michael Emerson, who is a bit strange looking compared to the rest of the cast (slightly hooked nose, unusually small mouth, wide, staring eyes), but can be quite attractive and appealing with the right clothes and haircut. He's clearly meant to be the ugly guy to Alex's hot daughter, and his eyes are the butt of many jokes.
  • Mad Men: Peggy Olson is supposed to be deliberately keeping herself dowdy in order to be taken seriously at work but she's played by the gorgeous Elisabeth Moss. The character was also shown gaining weight throughout Season One, presumably for the same reason. As we learn in Season Two, she was actually pregnant with Pete Campbell's child. Once Peggy has her "date" with Kurt in season 2 and starts dressing herself more fashionably and wearing her hair differently, the show presents this as her harnessing the power of "being a woman" as Bobbie advised.
  • The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis:
    • Zelda Gilroy said there's nothing to love about her appearance. Really, the only problem was that she wasn't as supermodel hot as the other girls Dobie would chase. Being a bit of an Insufferable Genius probably didn't help.
    • Dobie himself. He's not described as ugly so much as he's "average", but even still.
  • Married... with Children:
    • Bud Bundy is depicted as unattractive and someone that only a woman with no standards would date or have sex with despite being played by the not-remotely-ugly David Faustino. For all the women turned off by his looks, far more are repulsed by his personality. As he matures both physically and emotionally (and stops trying far, far too hard) he starts having more success.
    • Marcy also came in for a lot of jokes about her looks even though the actress playing her, Amanda Bearse, is quite far from ugly. For example, in the episode "The Egg and I", she shows off her body in lingerie; Al screams "I'm blind! My eyes, my eyes!" but the studio audience Wolf Whistles.
  • Subverted on Martin. He often describes his Sitcom Arch-Nemesis Pam as looking like a man and/or various kinds of animals. However, only Martin seems to have this perception. Pam gets all kinds of positive attention from men on the show, as well as from viewers. She also becomes part of the Beta Couple with Tommy. But before long it became clear that Martin ragging on her appearance and Pam ragging on his short height was just part of their Vitriolic Best Buds dynamic.
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Playing with a Trope with Rhoda. Because she's not the star she can't outshine the star, but in the Season 3 episode "Rhoda the Beautiful" Rhoda got her own show. She was given a supposedly less attractive sister to make sure everyone knew that now that she was the star she was now officially pretty.
    • One thing that makes this even funnier in reruns is that putting Julie Kavner in "old lady clothes" while dressing Valerie Harper more stylishly was a large part of it, but unless your own personal fashion sense is stuck in the 1970s the main thing you'll notice is that both of them are wearing clothing that's laughably out of date.
  • The Mentalist: In episode "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" this woman has trouble getting a date, so she has to resort do a dating service.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers's nerdy character Billy Cranston was played by David Yost, who was initially auditioning for Jason and asked to read for Billy but got turned down because he was deemed too good-looking for it. He reappeared later now wearing Nerd Glasses, with his hair messed up, and won the part. Throughout the first season, they put him in baggy clothes to hide that he was in incredible shape (he was also a champion gymnast). During filming of the movie, he went without the glasses and wore flattering clothes from then on.
  • Mimpi Metropolitan: The main trio Bambang, Alan, and Prima are just average looking, but every character blunt enough (including themselves) call them ugly just for being not as attractive as Alexi, Juna, and Melani. Funnily, Madkucil noted that his female fans says that Bambang is more handsome than his usual (curly-haired) self.
  • Inverted in The Mindy Project. Mindy is a bit on the heavy side, but she makes a point of dressing well. She is viewed by other characters (and herself) as being fairly attractive.
  • The titular character of Miranda (2009). She is frequently called "sir", and she cannot for the life of her find a man; while perhaps not conventionally attractive, she is nevertheless average at worst and distinctly feminine-looking.
  • The Mission: Impossible episode "Homecoming" features a mystery concerning the murders of young, beautiful women. It turns out that the killer is a local barmaid, ostensibly unattractive, who is jealous of how much attention the pretty women get from a man she is in love with. The homely barmaid is played by Loretta Swit.
  • Played for Laughs with Howard Moon from The Mighty Boosh who true to his Butt-Monkey status frequently gets derided for his looks, with multiple characters making fun of his “beady eyes” or outright saying he looks like paedophile. In actuality Julian Barret who plays Howard is quite pleasant looking if not outright sexy and The Mighty Boosh Live he gets the most wolf whistles from the audience so these In-Universe remarks over his appearance are ludicrous.
  • Modern Family has Alex, who explicitly states in the first few episodes that she's not as pretty as her sister Haley. In reality, she was definitely as pretty as Haley. Then she hit puberty. Since then they've been stuffing her into frumpy sweaters to hide her curves and even gave her a much less flattering pair of glasses with thicker rims. This has, naturally, done nothing to slow down her fanboys.
  • In Moon Knight (2022), one of the main characters, Steven Grant, is supposed to be a nerdy loner type who has bad luck with women. Steven is played by Oscar Isaac with slightly messy hair and slightly unflattering clothes. It's especially egregious when his (married) alter ego, Mark Spector, takes over the body—and almost right away has a Shirtless Scene.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 parodies this when they watch the educational short Body Care and Grooming. The short tries to pull off a She Cleans Up Nicely scene, but Crow thinks the actress looked better before her offscreen makeover, and Joel eventually agrees with him.
    Narrator: [scornfully] Look at your hair...
    Crow: I like her hair!
    Narrator: Look at that blouse...
    Crow: I'm looking, I'm looking!
  • NCIS: In a season 6 episode, a hot young woman's attraction to Gibbs is portrayed as odd. Gibbs is played by Mark Harmon, who is one of the few people named EW's Sexiest Man of the Year twice. Perhaps their confusion stems from his irascible personality, though he can be charming when needed.
  • One episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide dealt with "bad hair" days. Ned's hair is stated in the episode to be really messy...even though it's at most very slightly more unruly than how he usually has it.
    • Lisa Zemo was this for the first two seasons, playing the role of Abhorrent Admirer to Cookie. This situation was flipped over during the final season when Lisa got rid of the glasses and braces, and changed her wardrobe and hairstyle.
  • The New Adventures of Old Christine: The beauty and shapely figure of Julia Louis-Dreyfus is ignored by the people around her, even though her wardrobe often shows off what one would consider damn fine assets.
  • New Girl: Nick is constantly called fat. For the most part, this was considered mostly a joke by Schmidt who is Formerly Fat and obsessed with body image. However, other characters have gone onto refer to Nick as chubby despite the fact he really isn't.
  • The Night Of: In the third episode, a shelter guy says people just like purebreds/pretty cats, and the cat that's getting locked up is referred to as an " ugly cat." That cat was cute as hell.
  • Parodied on the Adult Swim show NTSF:SD:SUV::. Jessie, the head lab tech, is called ugly by everyone else on the show. Jessie is played by Rebecca Romijn wearing a lab coat and glasses. A later episode reveals that the other lab techs are similarly viewed as unattractive and are all played by male models.
  • The Office: Andy and Michael flirt with a couple of waitresses at a restaurant and attempt to get them to come to a party. They show up at the party with two different waitresses, the joke being that the first two refused and they had to settle for supposedly less attractive ones. Unfortunately, as co-creator Greg Daniels admitted, poor casting meant the actresses hired were too good-looking and the joke fell flat.
  • One Tree Hill: Millie appears completely and utterly gorgeous, except for a thick pair of glasses. (She later becomes a hit as a model)
  • Orphan Black dances rings around this trope, featuring as it does multiple very different-looking clone characters all played by the very attractive Tatiana Maslany. Thanks to superb makeup and subtle performance, it is often impossible to tell they are the same person, and chances are you will find yourself calling one of them "the pretty one". This is particularly true of Krystal, the vapid, Valley Girl manicurist and the one character whose makeup is specifically designed to enhance her attractiveness. She even lampshades this in Season 4, declaring that she can't be a clone of the main character because "She's a 7 on a good day, and I've been told I'm a 10."
  • Picket Fences: Kenny can't seem to appreciate Maxine's physical beauty because she's a fat tomboy with a weird face, so he has to learn to love her personality.
  • A Pocketful of Rye, an ITV adaptation of the Miss Marple story had the supposedly-plain Elaine Fortescue played by the decidedly beautiful Hattie Morahan, looking her best in fashionable clothes and an elaborate hairdo. Despite this, the other characters were at pains to point out how unattractive she was.
  • Popular: Of the two lead characters, one is supposed to be an extremely beautiful Alpha Bitch who leads a posse of popular blondes, and the other is supposed to be a frumpy, unattractive, unpopular nerdy girl. As far as the audience can tell, they're both very attractive, and viewers can't agree on which one is hotter.
  • Queer as Folk: Ted's status as this is meant to lampshade the impossibly high standards of appearance that many gay men place on themselves (and each other). Women check him out all the time, much to his annoyance. And also Michael Novotny's self-depreciation, despite that Hal Sparks is unendingly adorable no matter what Sears-type button up shirts they put him in.
  • Reaper: In episode "Business Casualty", Sock is set up with a friend of Nina's. His reaction to her is that she is hideous beyond all imagining; he tries to get away from her as quickly as possible. In fact, the character is played by a beautiful woman wearing a minimal amount of make-up and wearing average clothes with her hair in a ponytail. There isn't even any of the usual Hollywood Homely attempts to disguise this: she doesn't wear glasses, have braces, wear hideous clothes, have bad hair, or prosthetic makeup. She looks like someone going out to run errands.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • Arnold Judas Rimmer is considered a repulsive smeghead by just about everyone and was rejected by many women when he was alive, even his “best friend” Lister mocks him for his “flared nostrils”. The truth is, as noted by many female fans, Chris Barrie who plays Rimmer is very handsome and quite fit, as seen in the famous Shirtless Scene in “Terrorform”, and as a Hologram he somehow manages to attract multiple women. Although to be fair it’s more Rimmer’s distinct personality than his appearance that makes him unattractive to people.
    • Kryten the Mechanoid also gets mocked for his rubbery, angular head, earning him nicknames like “novelty condom head”. Out of universe, however, fans simply adore Kryten, considering him Ugly Cute at worst, and Robert Llewellyn who plays him is very pleasant looking without the heavy make-up.
    • The series has made repeated jokes from the outset about Dave Lister being overweight, despite the fact that Lister's actor Craig Charles was in fact rather skinny.
  • Revenge keeps trying to pass Nolan off as someone who has trouble getting laid. Even if he wasn't played by a model, he would still be rich. Having trouble forming relationships, that's understandable, but getting laid?
  • On Rome, both Lucius Vorenus (Kevin McKidd) and Titus Pullo (Ray Stevenson) repeatedly refer to themselves as "ugly brutes," despite both being quite hunky (and even having some beauty qualities unlikely for the period, like good teeth). Semi-subverted in that they both grapple with feelings of guilt and self-loathing over their violent and immoral actions over the course of the series, at least proving the "brute" part accurate.
  • Rules of Engagement has Liz. Descriptions of the character indicate that she's overweight and highly unattractive. Visual inspection begs to differ.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch tried to treat Valerie as this when she first appeared - she acted as though it would be impossible for her to get a date. Emphasis was placed on her being socially awkward, but Lindsay Sloane was just as gorgeous as the other female stars. The show eventually abandons this and gets Valerie providing plenty of Fanservice (even an episode where she wears a Spy Catsuit).
  • Scrubs: Ted the lawyer is a aversion created with makeup and an ill-fitting suit. The actor has been quoted as saying that after seeing him in the pilot episode, his mother called him up and asked if he was ill.
  • Seinfeld: Ada, George's secretary in "The Secretary." George rejects attractive women for the position of secretary but Ada is not much more unattractive despite the implication.
    • George himself could be this trope to many viewers as well, his lack of attractiveness having more to do with his height, glasses, baldness, and neuroses.
    • Additionally, a woman George dates in one episode is basically very average, and certainly not less attractive than George himself. However, she's still implied to be extremely ugly, with George only going out with her because she's the daughter of the woman reviewing his unemployment claim.
  • Sex and the City:
    • The character Miranda (played by Cynthia Nixon) is supposed to be the ugly one of the four lead characters.
    • Charlotte's second husband Harry. While played up as Ugly Guy, Hot Wife due to his baldness and slight weight, his actor Evan Handler has a cute face, and is hardly less attractive than many of the character's guys of the week over the years. In the last season, they dropped the Ugly Guy, Hot Wife angle.
    • Charlotte was this for exactly one episode, when she turns 36 and is freaking out about being an "old maid". She may be the most prudish of the bunch, but it is highly unlikely she would really wear a frumpy button-up blouse on a trip to Atlantic City!
  • She-Hulk: Attorney at Law has the very pretty Tatiana Maslany as lawyer Jen Walters, and yet she only gets attention as the green Amazonian Beauty alter-ego She-Hulk. Jen's endeavor in a dating app only led to her being ignored aside from one unsuccessful date. She decides to do another profile after Hulking Out, and the matches quickly enter the double digits.
  • Skins: The cast constantly say Sketch is ugly. She doesn't get all dolled up like most of the other girls on the show, but she is definitely pretty.
  • Smallville: Lampshaded when Clark thinks of himself as plain, but as the high school reunion and even his friends (such as Pete) have mentioned, he is quite handsome. He's played by a former underwear model.
  • Stranger Things
    • Somehow Joyce Byers and Barb Holland are supposed to be less attractive and feminine than Karen and Nancy Wheeler, yet they are played by Winona Ryder (even with the necessary Beauty Inversion to make her look like a stressed out single mom in an impoverished home, still looks gorgeous) and Shannon Purser (who is a natural redhead with classic features and a Big Beautiful Woman who does modeling in real life). It could be a reflection of of how shallow and narrow-minded their town is to not recognize the worth of people, inside and out.
    • By the same token Jonathan Byers is treated as an awkward loser by Pretty Boy and Jerk Jock Steve Harrington and the "cool kids" clique, despite Charlie Heaton looking like a young Norman Reedus. This is probably just shallow bullying due to his alternative appearance and second-hand clothes, since Nancy falls for Jonathan, his estranged father's girlfriend Cynthia thought he was attractive, and Samantha, a random girl from the Halloween party, started flirting with him.
    • Mike Wheeler has been called "Frog Face Wheeler" by bullies and even his father cannot believe he would be hiding a girl in his room for a week, yet Mike has attracted the psychic Eleven, and he is played by Finn Wolfhard, who has a legion of fangirls in real life.
    • Max is also portrayed as an unattractive teen outcast who only Dustin and Lucas are crushing on, despite being played by the very good-looking Sadie Sink.
    • Eddie “The Freak” Munson is treated like Quasimodo by the social elite of Hawkins and Jason is adamant his girlfriend Chrissy would never even talk to him let alone hang out with him. This despite the fact Eddie is played by the good looking Joseph Quinn whom clearly charmed Chrissy even in her depression (her actor Grace Van Dien even confirmed she would’ve left Jason for him if things had turned out differently). There’s some Deliberate Values Dissonance by today’s standards someone like Eddie would be the coolest and probably as popular as Jason or Steve, but in the 80s the small town kid who’s into both Heavy Metal and D&D is simply gonna be regarded as a weirdo.
    • Season 4 does it’s hardest to make Eleven out as someone who would be unpopular and mocked in High School. But baggy clothes are simply not enough to make Millie Bobby Brown unattractive.
  • The miniseries adaptation of Stephen King's The Stand features the "fat ugly" Harold Lauder... played by Pretty Boy Corin Nemec.
  • That '70s Show:
    • Big Rhonda was made up to look homely, but the actress (Cynthia Lamontagne) who played her wasn't. This is seen in the episode "It's a Wonderful Life", where in an alternate timeline she was dumped by Eric and appears at the gang's ten-year reunion without the whole Big Rhonda look. She also played a fembot in Austin Powers.
    • Inverted with Donna (Laura Prepon), who's frequently mocked as a "giant" and a "lumberjack" by Jackie (who finds fault with everyone anyway), while alternately depicted as a "hot redhead" whom Eric could never hope to date otherwise. He even considered her his equivalent of the actual Brooke Shields dating Donna's father.
  • The makeover series The Swan received lots of criticism for the extensive plastic surgery the contestants had to get. One personal trainer even stated that most of the women could have just been given a good gym program, a trip to the salon, and tips on what clothes would be flattering - as opposed to multiple cosmetic surgeries.
  • The Tudors:
    • In Season 3, Joss Stone appears as Anne of Cleves. Henry VIII claims he cannot tell her from his horse (which speaks either very poorly of his eyesight or very well of his horse) and is unable to consummate his marriage to her because she is so ugly. This is based on something Henry historically said, but contemporary reports suggest that she was quite pretty. An alternative explanation suggested by other characters is that he's turned off because Anne is a virgin who doesn't know what to do. We also know that Henry was almost 50 years old and as heavy as 400 pounds, so he may have had performance anxiety of his own. Either way, it's most likely all in his head.
    • This is used in Philippa Gregory's novel, The Boleyn Inheritance, where Anne of Cleves seems very frumpy at first because she is wearing modest (read: baggy) and unflattering clothing that she brought with her from Germany. After Henry VIII divorced her, she was free to wear English clothing and hold her own court in her own household. The next time she showed up at court, everyone thought that she looked very pretty. There are several historical accounts that support this theory. Henry slept with her in Season Four.
    • A case can also be made for Henry himself in his later age. King Henry was a fit and athletic man in his youth, and even still is given an Historical Beauty Update with the casting of Jonathan Rhys Meyers. In his later years, Henry is plagued by age, injury, illness and obesity, but he's still played by the same actor with only minor cosmetic changes.
    • A similar case happened with the portrayal of the Emperor Charles V, who appears in The Tudors with the huge Hapsburg chin and all (even though the actor Sebastian Armesto is quite handsome without the prosthetic), compared to Charles V's portrayal in Carlos, Rey Emperador, where he's remarkably more handsome than any painting of his historical counterpart, and receives the same ageing process than Jonathan Rhys Meyers by the end of the series.
  • Deliberately invoked and used in-universe in The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "Eye of the Beholder" in that a woman, convinced that she's hideous, undergoes plastic surgery to improve her appearance. When the wrappings around her head are removed, she looks the pinnacle of beauty (at least according to the fashion at the time of this episode's production) but is horribly upset she's still hideous. The faces of the other people around the hospital are then revealed, which appear grotesque and inhuman but are deemed normal to attractive by the standards of their world. The episode sends the message that human perceptions of beauty and ugliness are created through observation of other people.
  • Ugly Betty plays with the trope by casting the obviously cute America Ferrera underneath a battery of accessories to hide her appearance. The idea is that she's working at a fashion magazine, which has a very high and conventional standard of beauty. It's not that Betty is ugly; she's just not made up like a model. Indeed, season four has a Dream Sequence in which Betty is "beautiful," but the beautiful version is just America Ferrera without her "ugly" accessories.
  • Victorious:
    • Trina, who's played by the far from unattractive Daniella Monet, is subject to this a lot. In "Ice Cream for Ke$ha", she offers to kiss a boy who previously came on to the other three main female characters and he turns her down. In the episode "Wifi In The Sky" Beck and Andre are horrified at getting a close-up shot of her behind as she leaves her seat. Several male viewers would be gratified if they were in their place. Unlike most examples of this trope, there is no effort made to make Daniella look anything less than gorgeous. If anything, Trina's unattractiveness is entirely an Informed Flaw. (Though in all fairness, her terrible personality probably turns a lot of people off.)
    • Robbie gets this too. He's pale, skinny, wears glasses and has an unflattering hairstyle, but he's average-looking at worst. Yet people seem to find him repulsive. Robbie gives himself a makeover in "The Slap Fight" and he looks pretty good.
    • The reason the gang had to participate in Sinjin's game show in "The Worst Couple" is that the original contestants were deemed too unattractive for television, even though all of them looked like average teenagers.
  • Vieja yo?: The Venezuelan soap played with this. Margot is a housewife who has just turned 50 and has been trying to be an actress for years; thanks to her skills she ends up fronting for an old man to discover who are the really honest people in his company. Everybody keeps calling her "old hag" (even her very unfaithful husband and her three kids), and they treat her like she truly is a hideous old prune. Of course, she is portrayed by Mimi Lazo, who is the Venezuelan poster lady for Silver Vixen, and all the name-calling comes from the mouths of people who are either envious of her luck and/or looks, or far older and uglier - people who have valid reasons to dislike her and just use the "old hag" card to hurt her. Unfortunately, her younger Love Interest fell into the Informed Attractiveness category, as he gained weight during the soap and was put in clothing too formal for the poor man in an attempt to become more visually suitable for the heroine. Yet he was still referred to as the second hottest man in the setting.
  • The 2016 BBC adaptation of War and Peace cast Jessie Buckley as Princess Marya Bolkonskaya, whose only redeeming physical feature is her gorgeous, doe-like eyes and who is constantly derided as plain (though not outright ugly) by pretty much everybody. While Buckley's eyes are certainly lovely, so is her everything else, too. Of course, this version was only following in the footsteps of Robert Dornhelm's 2007 production of the same, which cast the sultry Italian beauty Valentina Cervi as Princess Marya.
  • The White Queen: Faye Marsay, who plays Anne Neville, may not be the classic beauty some of the other women are, but she's still cute as a button. Margaret of Anjou explicitly calls her "a plain little thing," and when Richard of Gloucester makes clear his intention to marry her, George of Clarence assumes that he's after her fortune, because he can't possibly be attracted to her.
  • In The Witcher (2019), Yennefer is considered deformed and ugly by the other villagers, but not even a hunchback prosthetic, a facial appliance, and a bad wig can fully hide Anya Chalotra's attractiveness.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place:
    • Justin. In one episode his family couldn't believe that a pretty girl would consider dating him. At one point, Alex said that Justin was not cute all. How are we supposed to believe this when he's played by the hot David Henrie?
    • While it's never stated that Harper is unattractive, her personality quirks and bizarre dress sense probably shouldn't have been as effective as they were at repelling boys. While Jennifer Stone struggled with her weight for part of the series, she is definitely not ugly - many would say far from it. Harper was eventually paired up with Justin's socially awkward but somewhat handsome friend Zeke.
  • WKRP in Cincinnati: Many male fans insist this one was (unintentionally) inverted wherein Jan Smithers as shy and nerdy Bailey came off as a hotter than 'blonde bombshell' Loni Anderson. Loni Anderson stated that the trope was being intentionally averted and that she enjoyed playing on a show where the two attractive women were loyal co-workers and good friends.
  • Wonder Woman: Give Diana glasses and her hair in a bun and suddenly she's nowhere near as attractive as her superhero counterpart. As with the Maya/Just Shoot Me example, the second season (which fast-forwarded 30 years) stopped trying to convince audiences that even a bespectacled, ponytailed Lynda Carter was homely. Her supposed homeliness is highlighted in an exchange between Steve and Diana in the season 1 episode called "Beauty on Parade", where Nazis have infiltrated a beauty pageant.
    Diana: Perhaps if we could get one of our own agents into that beauty contest...
    Steve: might flush them out. It would take a really beautiful girl, though. Someone with all the right qualifications.
    Diana: Well, I'd be willing to try.
    Steve: Thanks, Diana. I know you'd do a wonderful job. But I'm afraid this calls for a really gorgeous girl. Someone who looks great in a bathing suit. Say, I won't be needing you for a while, is there anything you'd like to do?
  • Yo soy Betty, la fea, the Colombian soap opera on which Ugly Betty is based, looks a bit more convincing into characterizing Betty as ugly, even when the main actress is quite pretty. See this comparison.
  • Zoey 101:
    • Quinn Pensky, played by Erin Sanders. Though the less we say about the relative attractiveness of someone under the age of 18, the better.
    • Coco Wexler. She is neither so fat nor so horrible as they say in the series. The fact that her supposed ugliness is accompanied by a series of romantic failures ultimately has Unfortunate Implications, even though her role is the Butt-Monkey.
    • One episode where the kids have to give two male nerds a makeover. The ugly nerds in question were two hunky twenty-somethings with glasses and bad clothes.
    • Chase is supposed to be seen as a plain dork with bushy hair.

  • Saving Jane. The whole point of the song "Girl Next Door" is that the singer feels inadequate compared to this other girl who is described as "perfect skin, perfect hair, perfumed hearts everywhere...."
  • Bill Kaulitz, lead singer of Tokio Hotel has stated on multiple occasions that he looks ugly without his makeup. When seen without his makeup, he looks more like a man than usual.

    Music Videos 
  • Avril Lavigne. In the video for "Girlfriend", we're supposed to believe that Avril's bratty punk-like "bad girl" character is more desirable than the nerdy girlfriend. That's a tough sell.... (Word of God says it's supposed to be satirical, but if that's true, it sure has one hell of a Misaimed Fandom).
  • Little Mix. In the "Black Magic" music video, the band acted as unpopular nerds the Big Manon Campus doesn't notice and whom the Alpha Bitch walks over before their "magical makeover" thanks to the spell book they found. But the dressing down isn't very convincing because it only includes putting them in plainer clothes and hairstyles, Perrie and Jade wearing Nerd Glasses before they stopped using them, and acting shy and clumsy.
  • Taylor Swift. In the video for "You Belong with Me", they put her in Nerd Glasses and a band uniform and we're supposed to believe she's The Plain Girl. Yeah, right. Just to drive the trope home, the "hot cheerleader" is played by...Taylor Swift, in a brunette wig.
  • Katy Perry. In the video for "Last Friday Night (TGIF)", they give her stereotypical nerdy big glasses, headgear, and a ponytail, and they still cannot hide the fact that it's Katy Perry under there. Just ask the Hollywood Homely guy that falls for her.
  • In the music video for Marshmello and Bastille's "Happier", the protagonist is bullied by her soccer teammates for her looks. Given that she's played by Miranda Cosgrove and they made little effort to make her appear ugly outside of giving her frizzy hair and braces, it's a hard sell.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Early 90s WCW, Terri Runnels was working as Alexandra York. Alexandra was a frump who dressed in unflattering business suits and boxy glasses, but it was still obviously an attractive woman trying to portray an unattractive one.
  • Madusa in WCW. She had long been teased by heel wrestlers as "ugly" but was still presented as attractive for her whole career, up until WCW, where looking ugly compared to non-wrestlers became her gimmick. And though everyone remembers her Cruiserweight title run, she spent most of her time in WCW as a valet.
  • WWE spoofed this when they had LayCool mock Mickie James by claiming that the extremely fit Diva was fat and calling her Piggy James. Even though they were doing it for some cheap heat, and the announcers pointed out how ridiculous it was, some people thought the WWE was seriously calling her fat. According to Mickie, that angle came about because Stephanie McMahon wanted to do a storyline about bullying. Even with that, many fans still believe Mickie being punished for being a prima donna backstage. The fact that she was fired a few months afterward just adds to the belief.
  • Molly Holly was given the gimmick of a self-righteous prude after her 2002 Face–Heel Turn, which was accompanied by a shorter haircut, going from blonde to brown and more conservative ring attire. Jerry Lawler would refer to her as "old and ugly", even though she was one of the youngest women on the roster at that point. When her hair grew out and she switched to wrestling in corsets, this died down a little. However, according to the lady herself, she would still get chants from fans claiming she looked pregnant.
  • Cody Rhodes:
    • He adopted a vain Pretty Boy gimmick and came out to cut a promo on how "dashing" he is. He then referred to Todd Grisham as "overweight" and "plain". Yeah, not getting oxygen to the brain there Cody.
    • Cody then suffered a blow to the face from Rey Mysterio and supposedly required reconstructive surgery. He went from considering himself as 'dashing' to 'hideous' and 'deformed' as a result. He wore a see-through plastic mask to 'protect' his face, but it was clear that his face looked exactly the way that it always did, especially as he liked removing the mask to hit people with it. After a few months, he dropped the gimmick and mask and all without his looks changing in the slightest.
  • A.J. Lee on NXT was a form of a nerd and people were constantly remarking on how she'd have a hard time getting dates. The aforementioned Cody Rhodes remarked that she'd probably never kissed a boy before. She got into the act herself and called out the other Divas in saying she couldn't get into the WWE just by being cute as the rest of them. She's a hot girl who loves cars and playing video games - she's had boys lining up down the street for the chance to kiss her hand for a while now. Need anything else said? And actually in her autobiography she claims she was eliminated from NXT because WWE higher-ups told her she wasn't attractive enough.
  • Thea Trinidad (Rosita, Divina Fly) stated on one of her YouTube videos that she was told she was too ugly to be a wrestler. Tell that to the people she models for.
  • A back handed variation with Beth Phoenix when she began her 2011 feud with Natalya Neidhart against the 'Barbie Doll Divas'. WWE were clearly hoping to recreate the 'beast vs. beauty' feud they'd had in the past with the likes of Jazz vs. Trish Stratus, Bull Nakano vs. Alundra Blayze, etc. Except Beth was an Amazonian Beauty and presented as such beforehand (her Red Baron was 'The Glamazon') who had provided plenty of Fanservice in Diva photoshoots as well. It's suspected the storyline was originally for Kia Stevens.
  • Natalya as well downplays this. Around 2011-2012, she was often treated like a Butt-Monkey by heel commentators who would say that she couldn't get a date. This ignores that the other Divas out of kayfabe would refer to Natalya as one of the best dressed women on the roster - which would become obvious whenever she appeared backstage done to the nines.
  • Paige merged this with Not Like Other Girls with her Red Baron 'The Anti Diva'. Merely because she didn't tan and had a Goth look. Before getting signed by WWE, she was a Head-Turning Beauty whose own mother realised the marketing potential of putting her daughter's face on merchandise.
  • TNA's Claire Lynch was often attacked — both in-universe and out — for being unattractive. This is Julia Reilly, the actress who portrayed Lynch.

  • The Gungan Council: Feena's avatar could be viewed as pretty, yet her character in narrative is described as being borderline ugly.

  • In Leoš Janáček’s Jenufa, the main heroine’s face is slashed with a knife, which is supposed to leave her so badly scarred that her beauty is destroyed forever. In many productions, she only has a thin, often barely visible scar on her cheek.
  • Passion: When the Stephen Sondheim musical was in previews, the director James Lapine had great trouble settling on a make-up look for the character Fosca. Fosca is supposed to be ugly - that's the entire point of her character - but whenever they used prosthetics to make the actress Donna Murphy look genuinely ugly, the audience lost all sympathy for the character. They ended up making Murphy up in pale "no make-up" make-up, giving her a mole, and dressing her in unflattering clothes; that was as much ugliness as the audience could take. Lest tropers unfamiliar with the work think poorly of those audiences, the character of Fosca isn't beautiful on the inside, either - she has deep psychological scars from a disastrous first marriage and spends most of the show pursuing a man who has clearly and calmly indicated that 1. He's not interested and 2. He's already in a relationship (with a married woman, but still...). When he finally reciprocates at the end, it's not clear if he has learned to love her or if she has simply broken him.
  • Wicked: Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba, is supposed to be so hideous that her father cannot look at her upon her birth. She even describes herself as "ugly". Still, she is played by actresses such as Shoshanna Bean, Eden Espinosa, and the incredibly attractive Idina Menzel, with no further pains taken in making her look unattractive than painting her green.
  • Neil La Bute’s “reasons to be pretty” features the main character of Steph, described by her boyfriend as “just normal looking” and another character as “a dog”. On Broadway, the character was played by Marin Ireland and in London by Sian Brooke.
  • In the ballet A Legend of Love Mekhmene Banu sacrifices her beauty so her sister Shirin can live. Few productions attempt to make the ballerina dancing Mekhmene look unattractive afterwards; in most versions she wears a veil that does nothing to hide her face.
  • A Very Potter Musical intentionally uses this for humor.
    • Harry, Dumbledore, and especially Ron, will deliver entire monologues about the horrid ugliness of Hermione, who is played by a very pretty actress. Draco tries this as well, but the most scathing thing he can come up with is that she's an 8 out of 10 (Maybe an 8.5... No more than a 9.8!)
      Ron: It was inevitable that one day Hermione would realize that no guy would ever like her, because of her obnoxious personality, and her ugly face, and her misshapen body, but I figured she'd get in at least one night of happiness before she realized she was going to be growing old alone, you know?
    • A few minutes after that she enters Ron and Draco break into a Counterpoint Duet about how they're falling in love (falling in love, falling in love) with Hermione Granger (Danger...)
    • Happens to Ginny as well. Harry calls her a "butterface" (in the sequel) and Harry makes it clear that he doesn't find her attractive, though she's played by a pretty actress.
  • Sally in Me and My Dick, played by the same actress as Ginny in A Very Potter Musical. It's lampshaded when after Joey realizes that she's the one for him, and he says "You know, I don't know why I ever thought she was that ugly, she's really not that bad."

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Given Japanese media's issues with Generic Cuteness, it's noteworthy that the first game avoids this. Will Powers, the defendant in the third case, is genuinely rough-looking and unattractive. Maya, who has never seen him out of his Steel Samurai costume, is more than a little stunned. There are many who find Will's cragginess rather appealing, and the constant hullabaloo about how "frightening" he looks a straight invocation of this trope.
    • The sequel has some more good times on this subject: Will, who lacks the skills or training for anything but television, has been reduced to hosting a children's exercise program in a rabbit costume that hides his face, Will's successor, Matt Engarde, usually looks about as attractively sixteen as you can get (until he pushes back his hair and reveals the extreme scar across his eye, which also signals his switch into his real personality as an inhuman, manipulative monster), and Matt's supposed rival, Juan Corrida, is frequently mocked for being ugly and looking so much older than Matt (i.e. he looks to be in his early-to-mid twenties, which he is, and he looks pretty good for it too).
  • In Condemned: Criminal Origins, Ethan Thomas is an aversion as he looks believable as an average police detective. In Condemned 2: Bloodshot, he's built like a football player despite the fact that he's been spending the year between the two games living as an alcoholic vagabond. The only signifier of his degenerate status is his scruffy facial hair. He also became much paler than his originally bronzed skin tone.
  • Twisted Metal (2012) plays this trope for drama with Dollface. In the new version, she is a former supermodel who gets a (minor) scar on her face, decides that her beauty is ruined (even though everybody, including her doctor, can plainly see that she's wrong), and starts wearing a mask to hide her "imperfection." David Jaffe said that her story is a satire of the extreme standards of beauty that are presented to women by pop culture.
  • Freedom Force: Invoked. Shadow is a masked villainess who is obsessed with creating an underground civilization filled with ugly, disfigured people and destroying the attractive surface dwellers. Then her mask comes off, and she's revealed to be a gorgeous former supermodel...with a tiny scar on her cheek. She screams about her hideousness but everyone else agrees she's beautiful...including her deformed minions, who promptly attack her.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Solid Snake is supposed to be so ugly as a result of his accelerated aging disease that at one point, when he takes his shirt off, he actually makes a grown woman cry. (His younger self was supposed to be a World Class Beauty, and women immediately show interest in him when he's wearing makeup to look like his younger self.) In practice, he still has a great body and finding him more attractive than his younger self is not a niche opinion amongst Solid Snake's generous Estrogen Brigade; people frequently remark that his younger self as it was rendered in Metal Gear Solid 4 looks awkward-looking or even outright ugly, but as an old man he is extremely charismatic. The bottom line is that he looks like a very fit 80-year-old when he's 42.
  • Zig-zagged in regards to Mileena from Mortal Kombat, being an Evil Knock Off of the beautiful princess Kitana using Tarkatan DNA she’s got a curvaceous body but has heaps of massive Scary Teeth which causes people to dub her as a hideous monster, even though she’s appeared in Playboy. The games up until MK9 have all portrayed her facial features as scary, but MKX changed her design, giving Mileena actual lips which threw Mileena into this trope as people still call her hideous when at worst she’s got some toothy cheeks and otherwise she’s beautiful. MK11 goes some way to correct this giving Mileena a larger and more frightening mouth with more teeth and red gums, but the problem is thanks to advanced graphics the rest of her face is still quite attractive, so the numerous cracks about her appearance come off as exaggerated especially coming from the likes of Kabal.
  • Onmyōji's Mushishi complains that she's ugly while looking like this.
  • In Dragon Age II, Aveline asks Isabela how she's able to attract men, given that she's not especially good looking. The tone of both Aveline's question and Isabela's response indicates that this was a serious question, despite Isabela's character model being a Ms. Fanservice and Aveline herself is quite attractive.
    • Aveline's exact words are "You're not that good-looking," implying less that Isabella lacks physical charms and more than those charms alone aren't enough to explain the sheer amount of sex she manages to have (though Isabella later admits that she doesn't have quite as much sex as her reputation suggests).
  • In the Dating Sim Always Remember Me, the protagonist occasionally remarks how plain and average she is, but there's nothing to indicate that she's any less attractive than the New Old Flame or the rest of the all-Bishōnen cast.
  • Dynasty Warriors: Yue Ying, the wife of Zhuge Liang, is described as "ugly" in her historical records character profile and some games make passing mention of her supposed unattractiveness. The viewer will likely find her to be anything but...though, given that she doesn't meet the conventional Chinese standards of beauty and on top of that acts nothing like the Confucian ideal of a perfect wife (i.e. Extreme Doormat), maybe it's not a stretch that she's considered to be some sort of horrible hag.
  • Huang Yueying in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms used this as a Secret Test of Character - the rumors of her ugliness were her own invention and used to ensure any man who pursued her was interested in her vast intellect and writings. Her "ugliness" was said to be red hair and dark skin.
  • The survivors in the Left 4 Dead series are supposed to fall into the trope since they are the "everyman" caught up in a Zombie Apocalypse and are not military trained or anything that you would see in Hollywood films. The survivors look a little ragged, but their faces for the most part still look pretty/handsome. This is mostly due to Valve using the faces of professional models to create the look of the survivor characters.
  • In Persona 4, a lot of people casually dismiss Chie, especially since she spends so much time around Yamato Nadeshiko-in-training Yukiko. In the Animated Adaptation, even Yu nearly chokes in surprise when he finds out Kou has a crush on Chie. At worst Chie suffers from Generic Cuteness, her Tom Boy nature, a Boyish Short Hair cut and a casual disregard for her appearance.
    • It's worth noting that Chie was intentionally designed with the trope in mind. Her more realistic attractiveness was meant to contrast with the idol Rise and the traditional ideal Yukiko.
    • Ironically Chie does look beautiful when she dolls up for the New Years' date and in the Japanese Character Poll she actually beats out Yukiko and Rise in popularity! Western Polls are more decisive, with the ironically even more boyish Naoto surpassing Chie in popularity.
  • Played for laughs in both Portal games. GLaDOS and Wheatley, amidst taunting her about being an orphan, repeatedly point out that Chell is fat, pale, and ugly to try and demoralize her. It doesn't work.
  • Dorothy of Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade is supposed to be homely. She has a short, boyish haircut, beady eyes, and a rather unflattering brown outfit, but is otherwise downright adorable. Her in-game portrait makes her look plainer than her artwork, but is still far from ugly.
  • Being the ultimate Virtual Paper Doll game series, you can make any Sim you want like this in most versions of The Sims. Step 1, make an attractive sim. Step 2, give them an unflattering hairstyle, bad clothes, and even braces or blemishes if you wish (if you have the mods for those, that is). Step 3, give them personality traits that make them bad at socializing... and voila! You have a hopelessly awkward, Hollywood Homely plaything at your disposal.
  • In Tomb Raider (2013) the in-game notes and comics make out that Lara Croft (yes that Lara Croft) is a shy college girl, who failed to make friends with the popular girls being a history dork and who needed her real BFF Samthara to drag her away from the books and go have "adventures" and be social. It's very hard to believe that Lara, who is dubbed "beautiful" by guys likes Jonah and Alex and has a creepy cultist have get all up in her personal space, could ever be considered unappealing or unpopular.
    • From the same game, Alex the technician of the endurance is supposed to be a stereotypical bespectacled nerd who’s got an Amazon Chaser crush on Lara, but he's clearly pretty handsome, so every crewmate treating Alex like a dork is strange. Lara at least, thinks he's sweet and even kisses him before he dies.
  • The genre of online makeover games fall hard into this trope. In them, your goal is to make a girl pretty with beauty products and makeup...but more often than not, the only things that make the girl "ugly" or "plain" to begin with are acne, unfashionable clothes, and occasionally bad teeth. It's especially laughable in the makeover games featuring Disney princesses in which the pre-makeover girl is clearly a stock image of the already-beautiful Disney princess with some pimples and blemishes drawn on her face, not to mention the makeover games in which the only criteria for the girl needing a makeover are that she has dyed hair and tattoos!
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2: Lt. Eva Lee, who serves as the Allied Mission Control. While she's clearly beautiful, she's much less obvious Fanservice than her latex-clad Soviet counterpart and even on her own team her looks are far more downplayed compared to Agent Tanya. When She Cleans Up Nicely for the final cinematic of the Expansion Pack, it's a genuine surprise.
  • Shantae: Sky is called fat as a Running Gag during the third game, including her own parents. She has a very nice figure much like the rest of the main female cast.
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake: Aerith is utterly beautiful, but many characters in-game doubt her potential to be chosen as Don Corneo's bride because of her dowdy clothes and lack of upfront sex appeal (much to her chagrin). Notably, if you half-ass it and get the "low-tier" dress (first one) for her, Aerith believes it looks super-bad on her, but check the comments underneath; most players think she looks adorable in spite of it. To say nothing of the "mid-tier" and "top-tier" dresses, which are "Wow, she looks really great in that" and "Even the mercenary hardass main character is left staring at her in stunned awe" respectively.

    Web Animation 
  • The Ugly One in Teen Girl Squad seems to be based on this trope; she has all the usual traits of people trying to pull this off (glasses, curly hair, Huge Schoolgirl), but the art style is so basic that she looks no more or less attractive than any of the others. It's implied that she has the worst fashion sense and hygiene of the group, though, and of course, she Cleans Up Nicely.
  • This is used intentionally in EVERY SIMS MACHINIMA EVER (Parody) to poke fun at Sims machinimas. Chloe is an ordinary middle schooler with slightly messy black hair and large glasses. As a teenager, she looks perfectly attractive but the Girl Posse bullies her anyway. Ella ends up getting a makeover and looks worse.
  • Charmander from Starter Squad, sees Hitmonchan as exceptionally hideous, even though Hitmonchan don't seem to look that hideous.

  • in Better Days, both Marvin and Marissa are treated as being pretty unattractive. Fisk is shocked the instant he sees Marissa, having assumed she got some of the "hereditary hottability" that her cheerleader sister had, and Lucy reacts with pity the instant she sees Elizabeth with Marvin. The trouble is, both of them are drawn in the standard cute animal style, so it's really impossible to tell that they're supposed to be that undesirable. In the case of Marissa, it has more to do with her Che Guevara t-shirt and the implications of her political leanings than what she looks like. Fisk is an Author Avatar of Jay Naylor, who is opposed to communism and hates Che Guevara.
  • After the new character Yvan first appeared in Ménage à 3, nobody in Internet discussions seemed to think that he was especially unattractive - even given the comic's sky-high level of Generic Cuteness. However, when she first saw him and knowing that she might have to flirt with him, Zii gave a mental yelp of shock. He appears to be flagged as "homely" by being a little heavier-built than most of the cast, having Perma-Stubble, posing a little, and using Anticipatory Breath Spray. Or maybe Zii is a bit of a snob.
  • In Nip and Tuck, objecting to this trope is one reason to avoid movie romances.
  • Donut from the webcomic Lily Love describes herself as ugly, being chubby with large legs, small breasts, and a large forehead. The Animesque art doesn't really show it, as her breasts aren't really small, she's very skinny, and she has normal legs. Here is an image made by the author herself.
  • Sophie from My Deepest Secret is an unusual example. She believes herself to be ugly despite several characters telling her otherwise within the story. This belief runs so deep that she turns on anyone who tells her she's actually not ugly, believing them to be toying with her.

    Web Original 
  • Gaia Online: Timmy; he came down with Megapuberty and turned into a grown man... Where Gaia users had been expecting another Bishōnen, they instead got a lanky man with a Porn Stache and messy hair, and clothes that fit him better when he was twelve. Based on Nicholas Cage. The fans were screaming "change him back". note 
  • The Whateley Universe. A majority of the characters are exemplars (that is to say, idealized humans, superhero-beautiful), and there are those who use auras and glamours to make themselves even more attractive. Non-examplars, even when they're on a level with otherwise gorgeous baselines like Hollywood actors/actresses, don't stand a chance. Example: Aquerna. She's hardly worth a second glance on campus, but the devisers think she's hot, and when she goes home for the holidays with her pal Rhiannon, lots of guys are hitting on her.
  • A post on the blog Invading Nirvana touches on the reason for this trope. In it, the author recounts the experience of a friend of his who is a director in L.A., who invited an actress he knew from Chicago out to audition for a particular role. When he sees her standing with all the L.A. actresses who are also present, he thinks to himself
    "Oh. My mistake," he thought, looking at his beautiful, Midwest friend. "You're not L.A. pretty. You're Chicago pretty."
  • A common criticism of Wattpad protagonists is that the leading lady claims that she is too ugly and ordinary for a boyfriend, yet the author will describe her as a voluptuous, petite blonde/brunette with glowing, beautiful eyes (and that's not including when the author wants Scarlett Johansson or Amanda Seyfried to play her).
  • The "Distracted Boyfriend" meme. Not only is the angry girlfriend very attractive, but the object of the boyfriend's disloyalty is not appreciably more attractive than her.

    Web Videos 
  • The Nostalgia Chick:
    • Nella is a Big Beautiful Woman but is treated as repulsive for laughs.
    • The Chick sees herself this way. In fact, it was once revealed that she hired Nella to hang around her specifically so she could feel better about herself.
  • The Nostalgia Critic:
    • Troll Douchey Mcnitpick is still just Doug Walker in a wig, bad glasses, unflattering shirt, and a constant scowl. If he smiled, cut his hair and wore nicer clothes he would be pretty cute. (Then he starts talking.)
    • Chester A. Bum is depicted as a dirty, crazy homeless man with old clothes and unkempt hair. But it's still Doug Walker. This is (probably unintentionally) lampshaded by a YouTube user that uploads Bum Reviews whose handle is "hotbumfan".
  • Allison Raskin from Just Between Us believes herself to be this. She has said she'd be "killing it" in the midwest but isn't up to Los Angeles standards.
  • Parodied in Shipwrecked Comedy's "American Whoopee," where the "plain jane" character was played by Sinead Persaud, and looks exactly the same before and after her makeover.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series/The New Batman Adventures lampshades it with one Villain of the Week, Calendar Girl. She was once a renowned model who was fired for getting old, unable to compete with younger models. She tried to make the transition to acting, and even managed to get the role as a mother on a sitcom, but was subsequently fired from that job when the network decided they wanted to go in a "younger direction". She eventually decides to wreak bloody vengeance on the network and modeling executives who ruined her career, but she had so much plastic surgery done before turning evil that she wears a full-face mask. At the end of the episode, Batman defeats her and the police unmask her, whereupon she begins to scream and sob upon the ground. She's only in her mid-30s and still quite attractive, even in comparison to other models, but she is absolutely horrified that everyone can see her "old, ugly" face.
    Batgirl: I don't get it, she's beautiful.
    Batman: She can't see that anymore. All she can see are the flaws.
    • For bonus points, she's voiced by Sela Ward, an actress and former model who had similar experiences as she reached middle age (minus the supervillainy, of course). During casting for the James Bond movie GoldenEye, she was passed over for the Bond Girl role because they wanted Sela, "but Sela ten years ago," despite the fact that she was only three years younger than Pierce Brosnan. In response, she produced a documentary, The Changing Face of Beauty, about the media's obsession with youth and its effect on women.
  • Bob Belcher of Bob's Burgers is frequently referred to as being particularly fat and/or unattractive, but due to the show's art style he doesn't look any more so than the other characters.
  • Daria:
    • "Quinn the Brain"; while Daria is generally described as plain or even ugly (by people who believe that All Guys Want Cheerleaders), and usually shows disdain for makeup and clothing, but proves that she can match her fashion-crazed sister Quinn to make a point to her. Note that Daria and her pal Jane are the only girls in the school who are drawn with no bust at all.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Timmy frequently describes Tootie as "creepy" (yeah, she follows him around, but in one episode, he had a hard time calling her "lovely" without throwing up), but her "ugliness" only seems to be a matter of unflattering glasses, braces, and a bland outfit; plus the stalking.
  • Family Guy:
    • Meg Griffin, who was originally supposed to be plain, has been flanderized into being monstrously hideous based on the reactions of those around her. Characters have committed suicide by fire upon sight and have (claimed to) kill family members to generate excuses to avoid her. In the episode, "Don't Make Me Over" all that was easily fixed with a new hairstyle and color, a tan, fashionable clothes and make up. The main difference between how Lois (considered in-universe to be smoking hot) is drawn and how Meg is drawn is that Meg has brown (instead of red) hair, is shorter (to be expected, considering she's supposed to be about 16), and wears glasses and a hat. Meg is also slightly chubbier than Lois, but you have to specifically be looking for it to notice, since she's a twig compared to Peter or Chris.
    • The trope is parodied in one episode in which the Griffins star in a reality TV show. Meg is recast and her part played by a gorgeous starlet, but her character is otherwise unchanged. The starlet complains that she'll "never have full beautiful breasts like these," as she gestures toward her generous assets.
    • If there's a Cutaway Gag is about a famous woman, half the time it'll be about how she's an absolute hagnote . The list of women so insulted includes Helen Hunt, Kirsten Dunst, Sarah Jessica Parker ("she looks like a foot!"), Laura Linney, Laura Dern, Kate Winslet, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Greta Van Susteren, Rachel Maddow, Penélope Cruz, and countless others, most of whom are considered very beautiful. This has the unfortunate effect of making the writing staff look like misogynists.
    • Peter's boss, Angela, is also supposedly ugly to the point where Quagmire couldn't stand having to sleep with her and Peter had to disguise himself as another man that was attracted to her to make her feel attractive seeing as no one else thought she was attractive. Truthfully, though, compared to the other characters, she's more average looking than actually ugly. Angela is stated to smell bad, and have aggressive gingivitis that causes her gums to bleed, but neither of these are apparent to the audience.
  • Played with regarding Leela from Futurama, thanks to her massive solo eyeball she has scared off multiple men and even claims people have tried to burn her in the past. While there is some level Uncanny Valley to Leela (just look at any 3D or realistic fan creation of her) somewhat justifying people’s reactions that still doesn’t change the fact she’s still very attractive being a prominent Ms. Fanservice in the show which means Fry and Zapp Brannigan’s attraction to her isn’t unfounded.
    • Philip J. Fry is said to be an ugly loser when he's average looking at worst.
  • Hey Arnold!: Helga describes herself as not being the prettiest compared to other girls. She is drawn in a odd comedic style at first. However, she's way better looking than characters such as Harold or Sid who are downright bizarre in appearance. Harold also frequently taunts her on her looks and calls her ugly. Her worrying over her looks is partially what stops her from confessing her feelings to her crush Arnold. However, when she gets a proper makeover she looks gorgeous. It also helps that that she's gotten cuter as the animation improved.
  • Kim Possible:
    • Sidekick Ron Stoppable was supposed to appear as a buffoon type of character, but he ended up appearing cute to the viewers.
    • DNAmy is supposed to be desperately unattractive but in her case it's her creepy stalker-like personality that puts off most men.
  • Scooby-Doo: Velma Dinkley used to be decidedly plain; she wore glasses, her hairstyle was unflattering at best, her face was nothing to get excited over, the sweater she always wore was shapeless, and her figure could generously be described as resembling a barrel on legs. No-one in the series ever explicitly states that she is unattractive, but in an episode of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, a landlady wouldn't let Velma sleep in the same room as Daphne because she [the landlady] thought Velma was a boynote . Her Hollywood Homely became a Running Gag in the second season.

    This was enforced by the producers of the show; the original pitch called for Velma to be a Distaff Counterpart to Fred, both intelligent and attractive, and there was also an airheaded hippie-chick for Shaggy to pal around with, but the suits felt an intelligent AND attractive woman was unbelievable, so the hippie girl was excised and Fred's counterpart was split into the airheaded, gorgeous Daphne and intelligent, "ugly" Velma. Changing standards over the years now mean Velma has no shortage of admirers both in-universe (including Johnny Bravo) and out.
  • In The Legend of Korra Bolin (especially in Season 1) is clearly supposed to be more homely and buffoonish compared to his Tall, Dark, and Handsome older brother Mako whom titular heroine choses over him, but the Irony is Bolin succeeds in being a massive Hunk to women In-Universe and out while Mako becomes The Scrappy thanks to his treatment of his girlfriends. So the show's attempts to diminish Bolin backfire hard, and make Korra look shallow for breaking his heart.
  • South Park parodies this with the character "Ugly Bob." It's stated in universe that his face "looks like somebody tried to put out a forest fire with a screwdriver," but he's rendered in the same minimalist style as the rest of the Canadians in the show.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987): Irma. Glasses? Ponytail? Baggy clothes? Check check and check - now everyone will know she's supposed to be the ugly one. Okay, always being around April is hard but was she deserving of this piece?
    Leonardo: (suffering from amnesia) Fear not, beautiful maiden; I'll save you!
    Donatello: Irma? Beautiful?
    Raphael: The poor guy got konked harder than we thought.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Pygmoelian", Moe gets plastic surgery and becomes much more attractive. Given the art style it's not always easy to judge subtle differences in attractiveness, but Moe goes from outright Gonk to looking like one of the in-universe movie stars, at which point he's immediately hired for the part he auditioned for years ago. A flashback to the audition provides this exchange:
    Producer: What were you thinking?
    Casting: Well, you said you wanted gritty. In other words, ugly.
    Producer: I wanted Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island ugly, not Cornelius on Planet of the Apes ugly. TV-ugly, not...ugly-ugly.
    Moe: [back to the present] I've been called ugly, fugly, pugly, pug-fugly...but not ugly-ugly!note 
  • Jay Sherman on The Critic appears mildly overweight, balding, and short to viewers, but In-Universe he appears to resemble a disgusting animal to everyone around him.
  • Subverted in Transformers: Animated; at first Blackarachnia’s hideousness comes off like an Informed Attribute and a poor self-image on her part. Then her helmet gets knocked off and we learn her armor is mostly there to hide her very real deformities; the only part of her head that still looks normal is her mouth. The rest is best described as a gnarled mass of spikes and eyes.
  • As usual, played with in the "Fractured Fairy Tales" segment "The Ugly Duckling" on Rocky and Bullwinkle. The titular duck goes to Hollywood, hoping to become an actor, but is rejected for his ugliness. He gets plastic surgery and becomes quite handsome. However, he learns to trend is now towards monster movies, so the studios want ugly ducklings. The segment ends with the now-attractive duck getting pummeled with baseballs at a carnival game, determined to get ugly again and be a star.
  • Winx Club has Lucy, who is supposed to be so ugly that it makes her desperate enough to get the Trix to cast a magic illusion that makes her appear as a beautiful ballerina, all just to win a beauty pageant. However, due to Only Six Faces being in effect, the only non-cosmetic differences between her real, "ugly" face and her "beautiful" face are that her real face has a square chin (which is also seen on the male characters) and a slightly hooked nose. Without those two features, she would look exactly like the other teenage girls in the show (that is to say, pretty).
  • American Dad!:
    • Steve Smith is often treated as utterly repulsive by girls. Steve looks like a normal, if nerdy, teenage boy.
    • Zig-zagged with Hayley. While she has no shortage of admirers, there are occasions where she's taunted for supposedly being fat, dirty or having a masculine face. Usually, these insults come from Roger, but others have joined in on occasion. The episode "Dr. Klaustus" has Jeff, her own husband, admitting that he doesn't consider Hayley to be sexually appealing and can only have sex with her by fantasizing about Francine. The only real physical differences between Hayley and Francine are height, hair color, attire and bust size. It's suggested at the end that attire and poor hygiene is the what turns Jeff off.
      Roger (as Sgt. Pepper): And you, gussy up for your husband! Maybe some sort of bra?! And wash your hair. Hippies are not sexy, they're dirty!

Alternative Title(s): Hollywood Ugly, TV Ugly