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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 insecure and envious of that person's 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, Unconvincingly Unpopular Character, Formerly Fat, Hidden Buxom, Hollywood Pudgy, and She Is All Grown Up. Contrast Informed Attractiveness and Gorgeous Gorgon. Tends to go hand-in-hand with the Unnecessary Makeover, with an attempt to undo this resulting in a character looking less attractive.

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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 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.
  • Booty Royale: Never Go Down Without a Fight!: Secondary character Yashiki Kurisu is an In-Universe example. While far from ugly, she's half-Caucasian and has freckly skin and fair hair, and therefore has trouble getting modeling jobs because she doesn't fit typical Japanese beauty standards. She briefly tries to join the second generation of gravure idol troupe Japan KGB as the G-cup, but the agency president rejects her on the spot on the grounds that an in-house D-lister won't generate any buzz.
  • 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.
  • In Digimon Frontier, the entire focal point of Ranamon's character is that her beast form, Calamaramon, is regarded by everyone as far uglier than her humanoid form, to the point of her in-universe fan club rejecting her for it. Calamaramon does have an entire multi-eyed giant squid instead of a lower body, which has a tendency to throw off the average, but her upper body is a Cute Monster Girl at worst. The entire reasoning for it seems to be that Calamaramon looks older than Ranamon, with longer hair, lined eyes, and larger breasts, bringing up an Old Maid connotation—a connotation most people outside of Japan (and many in it) find downright baffling even in contexts that don't involve giant monsters. Later shows seemingly gave up on the pretense of Calamaramon being an ugly monster and drew her appearances as being downright fanservicey.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • 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.note 
  • 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. There's also Prince Phil. He is not the young and handsome Prince Charming Lina assumed he'd be from his title, but he's certainly not hideous, and he's actually well liked by some fans who prefer older, burly, manly men over pretty boys.
  • 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.
  • Makoto (Or Lita) from Sailor Moon is regarded as a highly unattractive girl in-universe due to her tall height and powerful strength, and thus has a hard time getting dates. But she doesn't look any less attractive than the other girls, is surprisingly graceful, and most of the fanbase adores her, especially the male fans who view her as a Big Beautiful Woman. That's not even mentioning her incredible "talent".
  • 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 braids, and chronic awkwardness, her classmates want nothing to do with her. After she removes the glasses and braids 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 
  • Archie Comics: Thanks to Art Evolution, Ethel 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.
  • Captain 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. We find out later that Sistah Spooky, fueled by her own issues, inadvertently cursed Emp so that she's continually the target of ridicule and humiliation
  • 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.
  • Mister Miracle: 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.
  • The Sandman: Depending on the Artist, several of the female characters either avert or play this straight. Nuala usually appears as a tall, slender, alluring blonde. However, we learn during the Season of Mists storyline that her appearance is a glamor, and her true form is short, with dirty, unkempt brown hair, and 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Superman: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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.

  • 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 the women featured are still beautiful with or without cosmetics, 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.
  • In-universe version in Uglies. All of society has been conditioned to view surgical perfection as the baseline for merely being normal, while actually normal-looking people are considered monstrously hideous. Teenagers who've aged out of being adorable children, but aren't old enough for the surgery to become Pretties, are called the Uglies and constantly have it hammered into them how disgusting they are. At one point the main character is manipulated into becoming a spy for the corrupt government just by showing her a closeup of her own face—a perfectly ordinary teenage girl face with a little bit of acne—and threatening to withold the surgery.
  • The Whateley Universe: Occurs in-universe among the students at Superhero School Whateley Academy. Between 15-20% of all mutants are Exemplars (that is to say, idealized humans, superhero-beautiful), and there are those who have auras and Glamours which make them even more attractive. Non-exemplars, 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 several devisors think she's hot, and when she goes home for the holidays with her pal Rhiannon, lots of guys are hitting on her. Even those Exemplars who are merely good looking, such as She-Beast, tend to get a bit fixated on this (with Jadis' specific complaint being that she didn't get the Most Common Superpower, which she mentions by name).

  • 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.
  • Onmyoji'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 Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Koei) 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.
  • Persona:
  • 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 
  • Helluva Boss: "Spring Broken" has the rest of IMP learn that Blitzo once dated a Succubus Popstar named Verosika Mayday, with all three of them agreeing that he's way too ugly for her. Even the normally polite-to-a-fault Moxxie has an out of character moment that's Played for Laughs where he says with a bewildered expression "Is she blind? Suffering some form of brain damage?". But if this limited edition Blitzo standie is anything to go by he's got good looks to spare.
  • 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 
  • 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.
  • In Smosh's Try Not to Laugh series, Kimmy does a bit playing 'the Nerd in every teen movie', becoming hot just by taking off her glasses and throwing her hair back. Keith rejects her anyway.

    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. (Until 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 of uncanniness to Leela 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. It gets worse given Matt Groening revealed he made Leela be a cyclops in the first place so fans would have less incentive to fetishise her… boy was he mistaken.
    • Philip J. Fry is said to be an ugly loser when he's average looking at worst.
  • Hey Arnold!: Helga G. Pataki 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 very polarizing 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. As explained later in the series, Ugly Bob is perceived as hideous only by other Canadians, whereas to foreigners he looks just like every other Canadian.
  • 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!
  • Yung Hee from Mike Tyson Mysteries is an expy of Velma, so she's naturally prone to this treatment. She's often mistaken for a boy as well.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Hollywood Ugly, TV Ugly


Aerith in Wall Market

Many characters in Wall Market doubt Aerith's potential to be chosen as Don Corneo's bride because of her dowdy clothes and lack of upfront sex appeal, much to her chagrin and despite her usually being considered to be beautiful.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / PlainJane

Media sources: