The Homemade Sweater from Hell is a sweater that is one step from being pixelated if it's on television - or otherwise garish. The sleeves might be different lengths, initials might be knitted into it in a bizarre fashion, it might be an awful color or an awful mix of colors, it might be a childish pattern in an adult sweater, or it might just be tacky. It might even be awfully itchy. And it was a gift from someone who picked it out or knitted it specially (most often parents and grandparents), so even if the character normally has taste, they'll have to wear it.
Sometimes it will actually look like a perfectly wearable sweater, but most characters will react to it as if it were the most hideous thing ever - an Informed Attribute that's like a distant inanimate relative of Hollywood Homely.
This happens most often during Christmas Specials, since that's when most homemade sweaters from hell are worn in Real Life. But it doesn't have to be Christmas. A character with a sufficiently bad sense of style or financial problems might wear them all year, weather permitting.
- In an advertisement for some credit card, a couple is inspired to throw an Ugly Sweater Christmas party (with purchased sweaters, rather than actual homemade ones, but the awfulness of the sweaters still fit the spirit of this trope) upon seeing a couple at an ice rink wearing this kind of sweater.
- In a commercial for NFLShop.com, a woman tells her partner that he cannot wear his Oakland Raiders jersey to her family's Christmas Dinner.note He immediately takes off the jersey to reveal a tacky Christmas Sweater with the Raider logo (and flashing Christmas lights). Incidentally, said sweater is currently available for purchase.
- Ranma ½: More like the Homemade Scarf from Hell in this case...
Akane: Here. It's, uh, for you. It's kind of a Christmas present. It's not very fancy but...
Ranma: I-It's a shawl. No- No, I see. It's a fishing net.
Akane: It's a scarf, you lame-brain! I made it myself!
- The Tenchi Muyo! OVA had Ayeka attempt to knit one as a gift for Tenchi. She gets lost in a daydream and knits the thing much longer than it should have been. She's never shown trying to give it to him, though.
- Given by Wally West (The Flash) to his wife one Christmas — not to be worn, but as a reminder of her speech on what really mattered in giving. The sweater is actually store-bought, and a running joke in the story is wondering who buys the hideous things.
Linda: Not that it's not lovely, but...
Wally: But it's so not. I know. It's repugnant. Wear it, and I'll claim I don't know you. And yet interestingly enough... not the point.
- This Disney comic features an old, senile woman who knits sweaters for everyone, but isn't very knowledgeable about such things as, say, making sure the sleeves are the same length. Which is Obfuscating Stupidity, since she's actually a Classy Cat-Burglar in disguise.
- Played with in Archie Comics stories.
- One Scamp story has the Tramp trying to deal with an embarrassing dog sweater his owners made for him. He literally gets stuck in it trying to get it off, until Scamp shrinks it off using cold water. Unfortunately, it shrinks small enough that Lady makes Scamp wear it instead. This story appears to be adapted from the animated short Pluto's Sweater, where Minnie gives Pluto a sweater and Figaro ends up getting it after it shrinks. (And by the way, it was turned into a comic too. Interestingly, the original short wasn't set at Christmastime, but the comic adaptation was.)
- In Cul de Sac, 4-year-old Alice knocks herself silly by running to give her mother a hug while her mother is wearing one of these.
- Garfield: Garfield often gets these as Christmas presents from Jon's mother, and is forced to wear them by Jon. An early strip (1981-12-27) shows the cat tying a loose end to a post and running to unravel his way out, only for Jon's mother to knit it back together almost as fast. On one occasion, he got one that didn't even have a hole for his head. And when she finally gets it right, Jon and Garfield become noticeably worried.
- In the Grand Avenue strip for December 19th 2013 the three main characters all wear matching sweaters they received in a past Christmas. Michael says "Frightening!"
- In Curtis, the protagonist's dad claims to have won the Ugly Holiday Sweater contest at work for the past three years. He's not too thrilled about it.
- Many Danny Phantom fanons that involve ghost puberty or Danny receiving his powers for the first time involve Danny having to hide glow spots or his jumpsuit with an ugly Christmas Sweater. It's ironic since Danny hated Christmas before The Fright Before Christmas in the canon.
- Do not let Louise start knitting in The Hill of Swords. Whatever she knits invariably will come alive at some point and attack either her or the person wearing the article of clothing. And she keeps trying!
- Scootamom: Princess Celestia's first attempt at knitting is anything but a rousing success. It manages to warp space and time around itself, and ordinary ponies become sick just looking at it. Scootaloo thinks it's cool.
- Taken Up to Eleven in The Twilight Child, which suggests that no alicorn can knit at all. Celestia and Luna have caught on, while Cadence hasn't, and every year she knits them sweaters for Hearth's Warming Eve which are incredibly uncomfortable and itchy, and neither of them have yet mustered up the bravery to inform her about this. The only pony immune to the effect of the sweaters is Shining Armor.
- Lopoddity's Pandoraverse: In a slight variation, Discord once knitted an incredibly ridiculous scarf shaped like himself as a Hearth’s Warming Eve present for Twilight, with “love in every stitch”, which Twilight ended up having to wear out of guilt. She tried to get him an equally garish sweater to get payback, but Discord, being Discord, thought it looked incredibly stylish.
- In "Christmas in Kansas", part of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Hearts series, Martha Kent gives everyone in the family, and the visiting Bruce and Diana, tacky Christmas-themed sweaters she found on sale. Diana loves hers; Bruce hates his, but grudgingly accepts it when she cheerfully guilt-trips him about how difficult it is to find a sweater that will fit a man with his shoulders and muscles.
- In Never Piss Off a Parental Werewolf Sirius claims that tacky Christmas sweaters are a Marauders holiday tradition right after giving Harry a pink one with fluffy penguins wearing tinsel hats.
- This Bites!: Perona made a few of these for the Christmas season, and forces Absalom and Doctor Hogback to wear them (though it takes her using one of her more powerful, fear-inducing techniques before Absalom agrees to it).
- In Harry Potter, Age 9 Snape retaliates to a prank which turned his hair green by dressing Harry and Remus in tacky Christmas sweaters spelled to be unremovable.
- In Arthur Christmas the titular character wears one, and if the production notes are to be believed, has one for every day of the year.
- Colin Firth's character in Bridget Jones' Diary.
- ¡Three Amigos!. On El Guapo's birthday, his bandits give him an ugly two-tone sweater as a present. Hilariously, despite getting something as useless as a butt-ugly sweater in the Mexican badlands, El Guapo likes it and he wears it like a mantle for the rest of the scene.
- The Grinch is forced to wear one of these when he attends the Christmas Eve festivities in How the Grinch Stole Christmas!.
- Alluded to in Home Alone. Kevin tells the snow-shoveler that his grandma gave him a hand-knit sweater with a giant bird on it, which he refused to wear because of a fear of getting beaten up at school.
Kevin: Not for a guy in the second grade. You can get beat up for wearing something like that. Yeah, I had a friend who got nailed because there was a rumor he wore dinosaur pajamas.
- In Better Off Dead, Jenny gives her husband Al a truly horrific hooded aardvark suit for Christmas, complete with ears and a snout. He makes the comment that everyone will be wearing one next year, then goes outside and finds his neighbor is indeed wearing one as well.
- The classic French comedy Le Pere Noël est une ordure ("Santa Claus Is a Bastard"): One of the characters is offered as a Christmas present such an ugly homemade sweater, he initially thinks it's a mop.
- A Running Gag in Disney's The Santa Clause films, where Santa's son's stepdad wears nothing but these kind of sweaters. One elf wonders if they made one particular sweater and checks it.
- One is worn by the Television Director in The Beatles A Hard Day's Night. The Beatles specifically comment on how awful it looks. This was the actor's own sweater he had received as a gift, and he later re-gifted it to a fan club who specifically requested it.
- In Make the Yuletide Gay, the mom seems to wear nothing but them.
- A Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy Krueger's iconic green-and-red striped sweater started as one of these, but now it's hideous for a much different reason.
- In A Muppet's Christmas: Letters to Santa, Fozzie wears one that was made by his mother, and presents the human Claire and her mother with identical sweaters. One of the extras on the DVD reveals that his mother actually made the exact same sweater for everyone in the entire cast.
- Harry Potter: Mrs. Weasley tends to knit jumpers for all the children for a two-fold purpose: to show the Weasleys have very little money and because she's so motherly. No-one complains because she's so nice and jolly and they don't want to hurt her feelings. Then again, after the last book showed what she is capable of, perhaps they are too scared. It's mostly Ron (who mainly complains because every year it's maroon, his least favorite color) and Percy who complain about their jumpers, rather than all the children. It's also a bit of heartwarming for Harry. He tends to be given them as presents as well which not only makes him an unofficial member of the family but it's also the first regular Christmas presents in his entire life since his biological family pretty much don't give him presents for any occasion (and when they do, they send him things like a toothpick or a 50-pence coin).
- Also, while some of the Weasley siblings are more or less horrified at the thought of getting and wearing these jumpers, Harry himself never reacts negatively. It's probably partially because of the heartwarming aspect, but it may also be because the Weasley siblings have simply grown tired of getting a jumper every Christmas or just don't like jumpers in general (even the well-knitted ones). At least, the jumpers don't seem to have many of the tacky traits in the trope description, though at least once they had the first letter of their owner's name on the front.
- Mrs. Whitlow, Unseen University's fearsome housekeeper, is noted to knit these kinds of sweaters. They always end up in donation bins, but Ankh-Morpork being Ankh-Morpork, there's at least one person who can wear them.
- John "Not a Vampire at All" Smith, president of the Uberwald League of Temperance, is infamous for his dreadful pullovers.
- Mark Darcy (Colin Firth's character) in the first Bridget Jones book.
- A Jurby, in The Meaning of Liff, is an article of clothing knitted by an incompetent aunt which reaches to the knees and has at least three armholes.
- Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle: One of the reasons the kids love her is that she accepts such gifts (for example, an overly-long scarf) with sincere joy and enthusiasm.
- From the poem "Christmas Thank Yous" by Mick Gowar:
Oh, what a nice jumper
I've always adored powder blue
and fancy you thinking of
orange and pink
for the stripes
how clever of you!
- Repeatedly subverted in The Addams Family: Morticia knits sweaters that look horribly malformed, but will in fact fit one cousin or another perfectly.
- In The Big Bang Theory, Leonard has a red, itchy sweater from his aunt. Sheldon makes him wear it with nothing underneath as part of an In Another Man's Shoes scheme (he wants to show Leonard how not having closure is like an itch in his brain), and it gives him a terrible rash (causing Penny to ask "Is it made of bees?").
- Bill Cosby of The Cosby Show wears these all the time, coining the phrase "Cosby sweater".
- Doctor Who: In "Amy's Choice", the Doctor is at one point asked by an old woman to try on a sweater she's knitting for her grandson. Said sweater makes the Sixth Doctor's coat look like the epitome of good taste.
- UK TV presenter Noel Edmonds is known for wearing these, especially on Noel's Christmas Presents. And when he presented Multi-Coloured Swap-Shop, he wore a jumper that fitted the title.
- Harold and Hilda of Ever Decreasing Circles wear matching homemade sweaters in every episode. It never turns up in the script, but it's heavily implied that Hilda hand-knit these herself.
- From Firefly, Jayne's "Cunning Hat" may not be a sweater, but it surely must qualify, considering that it's ridiculous-looking, knit, and made by his mother. Subverted in that he gives every indication that he loves the hideous thing.
Wash: A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything.
- Ironically, the hat has taken on a life of its own, becoming a symbol for the fandom and a rather popular merch item.
- In Glee, such sweaters were commonplace in Artie's wardrobe, as per his nerdy image. As the series progressed, though, they became less prevalent.
- One early Hannah Montana episode had Miley get a sweater with what looked like a stuffed cat in the front and back... AND it meows! In the same episode, Oliver mentions that he got the puppy version for Christmas. It barks Jingle Bells. They duet at the end of the episode (the sweaters, that is.)
- iCarly- the sweater vest that Freddie's mom picked out for his first date.
- This comes up on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver's segment on the "Right to be forgotten" (i.e.,the right to remove embarrassing things about oneself from the Internet without invoking the Streisand Effect) when John suggests that everyone share their most embarrassing photos online all at once so to all be on the same page. His first example is a picture of himself as a child wearing a sweater with his own name on it, but he says that that picture doesn't really count, because he actually likes the picture.
- On The Late Late Show in Ireland, Christmas jumpers are Serious Business. Current presenter Ryan Tubridy caused real controversy when it was hinted that he might not wear one for his first Toy Show. The maroon jumper in which he eventually appeared was auctioned off for charity, for a price of €1,050. The next year he caused outrage again by suggesting on Twitter that he wouldn't wear one. The nation loves the jumpers; the man, it would seem, does not.
- Ireland and big woolly jumpers go together. Veteran crooner Val Doonican was renowned for them on his weekly variety TV show. And Father Ted was like an anti-fashion show for horrible woollens. Father Maguire's lurid tank-tops were just the start of it. Aran sweaters of varying degrees of fit were the approved uniform for folkies such as The Chieftains.
- Late Night With Jimmy Fallon has an annual holiday tradition: "12 Days of Christmas Sweaters". Every night for 12 consecutive weeknights note Jimmy gives away an incredibly tacky Christmas sweater to a randomly selected audience member as a form of a joke contest.
- As of 2014, Jimmy has brought this tradition with him over to The Tonight Show.
- An episode of Leave It to Beaver was about Beaver giving his mother a sweater that she really didn't like, but was too nice to tell him about it. And then he suggested that she should wear it to a parent/teacher meeting.
- An episode of Lizzie McGuire revolved around Lizzie's reluctance to wear a bright green homemade unicorn sweater in her Yearbook photo.
- One episode of M*A*S*H had Hawkeye receive a sweater in a care package from his sister. The only major flaw in the sweater in question was that it was several sizes too large.
"For the man who has everything. A sweater with a guest room."
- On Mike & Molly, Mike buys a repugnant green sweater from his partner's cousin.
- In the Santa Claus (1959) episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Gypsy gives Mike a sweater with "JOIKE" embroidered on it. (She started making it for Joel, but then he escaped in a convenient plot device.) Mike actually likes it though.
- Gypsy makes a complete set of them in the The Christmas That Almost Wasn't episode in the revival. There's nothing wrong with this batch... except for the fact that going by the initials knitted on them, each sweater was given to the wrong person. Jonah and the other bots like them anyway.
- On the Pawn Stars Christmas Episode, the Old Man gives Corey one of these...then makes Corey wear it for the whole day.
- In an episode of Pushing Daisies, Emerson Cod complains to the Coroner about the Christmas sweater the Coroner is wearing and how a Christmas sweater is a stupid gift to get for Christmas, since you can only wear it on Christmas.
- On the QI K season Christmas episode the panelists wore ugly holiday sweaters.
- One of Sherlock's deductions hinged on the assumption that a man would only wear the uncomfortable, hideous Christmas sweater in an effort to please his mum, who presumably was the one who gave it to him.
- Regina knits one of these for Steve to celebrate their one-month anniversary on The Steve Harvey Show.
- On The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Maddie rigs the Secret Santa so that London draws her name, hoping for an expensive gift. However, London, after being told that homemade gifts are more thoughtful, knits Maddie a sweater... in the loosest sense of the word "sweater", since it has three arms and no neckhole.
- On That '70s Show, Hyde is given one of these by Kitty on his eighteenth birthday.
- The above was hilariously referenced in an episode of White Collar; when Peter's in-laws are coming to visit, he wears the sweater his mother-in-law knit for him, prompting Diana to call him "Dr. Huxtable".
- X-Play, when Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb were wearing sweaters like this, Adam said the antler hat didn't emasculate him. Morgan agreed because "It's the sweater that makes you look gay".
- The Dutch yearly musical program Kinderen voor Kinderen (Children singing songs about world problems and other things that occupy children's minds) had the song Kriebeltrui (Itchy Sweater)
- The Garth Brooks song "Ugly Christmas Sweater" is about how a hot coworker wore one to the office Christmas party, and the singer deciding he likes how she looks in it.
- One mission in Bully had Jimmy receiving a terrible Christmas sweater from his mother, and had to walk all the way back to the dorm to change it.
- Even World of Warcraft has these. Behold the gaudy Winter Veil sweater!
- The "Itchy Sweater" upgrade from Cookie Clicker. Supposedly, it makes its wearer feel like you're wrapped in a dead Sasquatch.
- Borderlands 2: Krieg the Psycho, of all people, has an ugly Christmas sweater as one of his alternate skins. It's a reward for completing the "How Marcus Saved Mercenary Day" DLC.
- Splatoon 2: The theme of the December 2017 Splatfest for North America & Oceania was a battle of undesirable holiday presents, Sweaters vs. Socks.
- Homestar Runner
- The stairway of the house of the Brothers Strong has pictures of Strong Mad and The Cheat wearing hand-made holiday sweaters, implying some relation knits Christmas sweaters for all four residents, despite their....unique physiques making for some weird measurements.
- One of the shorts featured in "Decemberween in July" is a music video by The Cheat for a song about "Seasonal Sweaters" performed by Marzipan. The video features a number of garish sweaters, many of which also have cheesy slogans on them (like "What Shopping?" and "Ho Hum").
With presents and bows
Snowmen and tree
And sometimes a bell (a bell!)
- Homestar receives an ugly brown sweater as a Decemberween gift from Marzipan's parents in "A Death Defying Decemberween."
- Nanase from El Goonish Shive often wears a cutesy heart sweater to please her mother. She changes out of it whenever possible, because it tends to subvert the badass image she likes to project.
- Kankri of Homestuck wears a lurid candy-red turtleneck, which was a gift from Porrim which she hoped would conceal his even uglier high-waisted pants.
- Averted and Played Straight in Level 30 Psychiatry. Roll makes very nice and tasteful winter sweaters but while she puts the extra effort into Gardevoir's one (including holes for her chest-horns), the egg-shaped Chansey gets a very ill-fitting sweater.
- In The Non-Adventures of Wonderella Wonderella is far from impressed with the kitschy holiday sweater phenomenon, and yells that Kilroy and his henchmen look like horses' asses.
"Like, it was cute when it was grandma's old sweater or something, but now there's a whole industry of fake ugly sweaters! People pay top dollar to look like a cock at the office Christmas party!
- The sweater in this Lackadaisy strip. Mrs. Bapka gives Viktor a hideous green sweater for Christmas, although the hat from Ivy is what really sells it.
- Brian gets one of these on Family Guy in "A Very Special Family Guy Freakin' Christmas":
- In the Garfield Christmas Special, Jon gets a Christmas sweater that flows far past the tips of his fingers.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: SpongeBob once made Squidward an itchy sweater made from his own eyelashes. To make up for it, he makes another sweater out of tears.
- Averted nicely with Gravity Falls. Mabel makes her own sweaters, and their perceived ugliness is a work of art to her. Fans agree they actually look comfortable and some fans would wear them, given the chance. In fact, some have worn sweaters like this when cosplaying as Mabel.
- In an episode of Justice League, J'onn J'onzz (Martian Manhunter) is visiting the Kents (Superman's family) one Christmas. Martha gives him a sweater but it's too large. J'onn is pleased with the gift though and says he can grow into it, and promptly uses his shapechanging abilities to do just that.
- As part of the fun of staging his very own old-fashioned variety-show Christmas special, the Joker wears a Bing Crosby-style turtleneck / cardigan ensemble in bright red and deep green. There's no clashing patterns, but the colors look absolutely hideous next to each other.
- Among the many presents gifted to Bloo from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends by his stalker-girl Berry, includes a dumb-looking sweater. Inverted in that he actually likes it, since it fits him so well. Being inhuman, he probably does have a hard time finding clothes that "fits really well across the chest".
- The Simpsons:
- Implied in the episode "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace":
Bart: (holding one of Lisa's presents) Hocus pocus, mucus pukus! My powers tell me you're getting a homemade sweater - possibly yellow!
Lisa: Mom, make Bart stop!
Marge: Bart, put down that yellow sweater.
- Dr. Hibbert also frequently wears one when he's off-duty, since his family is frequently a parody of The Cosby Show.
- Implied in the episode "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace":
- An episode of KaBlam! had a scene where Henry's mom gives him an embarrassing purple sweater with a train on it.
- Kim Possible: Kim's Nana presents her with a rather bulky wool sweater (in Florida, in the summer). Taking it off messes up Kim's hair worse than any fight or Death Trap ever did.
- Teen Titans:
- Mother Mae-Eye has Starfire wear an oversized green sweater with a red stripe.
- In the episode "Second Christmas", all the Titans get these for Christmas. They rag on them, but love them.
- In the Regular Show episode "The Christmas Special," Benson wore a tacky reindeer sweater that even Santa himself insulted.
Santa: Benson, you should've tossed that thing into the lava pit.
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force gives us one with extra Squick:
Meatwad: I made you this shirt, Frylock. It's 100% pubic hair. I made it extra large because it'll shrink in the washer. That's right. I want you to wash this with the rest of your clothes.
- In the Disney cartoon Pluto's Sweater, Minnie Mouse knits for Pluto a hideously fuchsia sweater that he immediately takes a disliking to. Forced to wear it outside, and quickly becoming the laughingstock of the neighborhood, Pluto spends the entire cartoon trying to extract himself from it.
- In the Wander over Yonder episode "The Loose Screw", Stella Starbella knits sweaters for Wander (his is way too big) and Sylvia (hers is way too small).
- In the Mickey Mouse (2013) short "Couple's Sweaters", Mickey is on a date with Minnie, but he's annoyed that they have to wear couple's sweaters, noting that they're incredibly itchy and uncomfortable (he starts breaking out into a rash halfway through the date). In the end, he finally confesses to Minnie about how much he hates those sweaters and only wore them for her sake, only for her to reveal she hates them too. They both agree to never wear them again.
- The Loud House: In "Insta-Gran", Pop-Pop's new girlfriend Myrtle gives all the Loud kids one of these.
- Stand Up to Cancer has an annual ugly sweater fundraiser during the holiday season.
- Wil Wheaton's horrific clown sweater has become the stuff of Memetic Mutation.
- Among the knitting community, there's a superstitious belief that knitting a sweater for your romantic other will lead to the end of the relationship.
- Mo Rocca made a comment about how he disliked homemade sweaters while on NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, claiming that all homemade sweaters are itchy. In protest, several members of the knitting community teamed up and presented Rocca with a sweater they'd made. Rocca accepted the present, put it on, and good-naturedly admitted that his new sweater wasn't itchy at all. Observe.
- Peter Cetera was wearing one of these◊ during his performance in the 2004 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
- Andy Murray's 2014 Christmas sweater must be truly seen to be believed.
- A fairly new tradition in the last few years has been to host "ugly sweater parties" around Christmastime, where you have to show up in the ugliest, tackiest, kitchiest Christmas sweater you have to hand (or some other form of equally gaudy and stupid-looking Christmas-themed attire).