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Informed Deformity

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Your face looks like somebody tried to put out a forest fire with a screwdriver!

"In the show, his father burned almost half of his face off. Here, I think he forgot to put sunblock under his eye or something."

The physical equivalent of an Informed Attribute and often a subset of the Informed Flaw. A character who is not different in any discernible way from the rest of the cast is found by them to be freakish in some way that should normally be obvious to the audience.

Distinct from Take Our Word for It in that the sight the cast is reacting to is still actually shown. This can be done deliberately if you want to get all meta about it. On the flip side, even very extensive scarring done too realistically may be barely visible on camera.

In animated or drawn media, it might be the result of Generic Cuteness, Only Six Faces, or both. Hollywood Homely and Informed Attractiveness are subtropes. The inversion, where nobody notices a character's actual deformity, is an Unusually Uninteresting Sight.

A Sub-Trope of Show, Don't Tell. Also see Minor Injury Overreaction.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Maika Sakuranomiya from Blend-S is often treated as though she has a Face of a Thug, even though her design is just as cute as everyone else's despite her occasionally frightening smiles. There's an attempt to justify this with her Tsurime Eyes, but it doesn't make much of a difference.
  • In an early story arc of Count Cain, Viola wears a mask to hide her horrible deformity, which turns out to be a small acid burn marring an otherwise normal face. Justified in that she's completely insane.
  • Crayon Shin-chan's mother, Misae, was supposedly "old and haggard", with wrinkles all over her face and an oversized tummy, but her artwork (and animation in the TV Series) looks no different from most other adult female characters. Though it could be Shin-Chan blowing things out of proportion intentionally to piss her off.
  • L in Death Note. Word of God states that he's meant to be the "Anti-Bishōnen", but mostly he's just scruffy and stares a lot. Many fans believe he is the most attractive character.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: During the curse-induced dreams the heroes have against the Lower Rank One fight, Zenitsu appears with an exaggerated overbite in Kyojuro and Inosuke's dreams, which is not so much as hinted at in his usual character design. A volume extra has the author confirm that Zenitsu has an overbite, but it never materializes outside of this brief caricature.
  • In Hayate the Combat Butler characters often say that Hayate looks "poor" or "seedy" but to the viewers he looks pretty similar to the other characters—in fact, he IS thought of as attractive when dressed as a girl.
  • Sweden in Hetalia: Axis Powers is said to be utterly terrifying. Prussia faints multiple times just looking at him, but he really doesn't look much different than most of the other characters.
  • Yura of Honey Hunt is mentioned by people around her, namely her teachers and peers, to be very plain. However, when she loses the glasses, fixes her hair, and wears more flattering clothes, she's actually quite attractive.
  • In The Imperial Poisonous Concubine we are informed, even in the summary, about how incredibly ugly the main character is. Never at any point is there the slightest sign of this, aside from a tiny facial scar, which gets removed after a few chapters. Yet until that point, she is treated like a pariah by people much uglier than her.
  • Ino-Head Gargoyle: Saejima doesn't look that ugly (especially when his Bishōnen partner Okita isn't around), but apparently he's hideous enough to be called a "gargoyle".
  • Many older elf women in Interspecies Reviewers are treated as though they are old hags, even though they look beautiful and young to the viewer and Stunk. Justified, in that those who are aghast at their age are men like Zel and Crim, who can sense Mana and can feel how old the women are, so the deformity hinges on a sense that Stunk and the viewers do not have.
  • Naruse from Komi Can't Communicate is generally told by others that he's an average-looking person who thinks way too highly of himself. While the second part is true, he's drawn as being genuinely handsome and fit in a manga that averts Generic Cuteness for male characters.
  • In Naruto, Sakura is often said to have a very big forehead. However, when you compare it to the other characters, it looks to be completely normal. This is mostly a case of changing art styles. Originally, she did have a big forehead. Her character design just changed, and the jokes almost completely stopped.
  • Two examples from Whole Cake Island Arc in One Piece.
    • Charlotte Pudding was considered a freak due to her Third Eye and was told to cover it even by her own mother Charlotte Linlin, a.k.a. Big Mom. Her shame over her "deformity" was so great that she considered herself a monster, becoming a complete Broken Bird psychologically. However, Pudding's world got flipped upside down when Sanji pointed out how beautiful her third eye actually was. Hearing someone compliment her shameful extra eye for first time was too much for Pudding to take and she developed a Split Personality to cope. She actually fell in love with Sanji because of what he said however she left him because she didn't consider a "monster" like herself worthy of him... poor Pudding.
    • Charlotte Katakuri is ashamed of his eel-like mouth full of sharp teeth. Like his younger sister Pudding, he was mocked for this as a child. Katakuri initially didn't care (as he was strong enough to beat up anyone who tried bullying him), but when Brulee (another of his sisters) was attacked as Revenge by Proxy against him, he began to hide his mouth behind a scarf. While even people on this wiki label him with the Butter Face and Nightmare Face tropes, Katakuri's face is relatively normal by One Piece standards and his shame over it makes him a worse person than he is.
  • In One-Punch Man while Played for Laughs, Terrible Tornado is a 28-year-old woman that apparently looks like a child. It's a personal Berserk Button for her and she is sometimes teased by Saitama note  for it. While Tornado is short, she also has distinctly womanly curves that should put that notion to rest. This is also a case of Adaptational Attractiveness in relation to the original webcomic, where Tornado really could be mistaken for a child.
  • Pokémon: Several characters constantly remark about how ugly Misty is. However, she looks just like any other female.
  • Much is made in the first few arcs of Saint Seiya of Phoenix Ikki's old forehead scar, but it never is actually visible, even when it's reopened and bleeding.
  • This trope and a case of Adaptational Attractiveness happens with Therru in Tales from Earthsea. In the book, Therru is hideously disfigured due to burns (in fact, on one hand, her fingers have melted together, leaving her with something described as "a lobster claw"). Although the film still mentions how strange looking she is, her burns have been reduced to a faint pink splodge on her cheek that you have to squint to see properly.
  • Nene Yashiro from Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun is frequently called ugly by other characters (the Hell of Mirrors rates her attractiveness at a four, while Mitsuba is an eight) even though her design is just as cute as everyone else's. She's also teased for having "fat radish ankles" as a Running Gag, though this is zigzagged; while her legs are drawn to look thicker than everyone else's, flashbacks show her legs as more normally proportioned, so it's likely that her legs only look thick because of the stockings she wears.
  • Ataru from Urusei Yatsura is often rejected by girls at his high school and has the reputation of being the most ugly boy in the whole school. This is despite the fact that he looks like an average teenager and is actually better looking than some of the other boys who don't get as much flak by the girls. He had a cute girlfriend at the start of the series, and gets the attention of the Cute Monster Girl, Lum, much to everyone's surprise, and gets the attention of other attractive girls throughout the series. Given that everything surrounding his birth was around bad luck, like being born on Friday the 13th is one way the series explains his ordeal throughout the show, which goes far beyond people thinking he's ugly.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Fantastic Four comics, Doctor Doom wears a metal mask because his face was scarred when a machine he invented literally blew up in his face (which, naturally, he blames on sabotage by Reed Richards).note  Most of the time the actual scarring is quite minornote , but Doom's ego is so titanic that he would treat a paper cut as a debilitating injury. Of course, some writers take it a step further and say that Doom was in such a rush to cover his "hideous" face that he donned his mask while it was still hot from the forge, resulting in scars that really are as bad as he imagines them. It is revealed by Ant-Man of all people that Doctor Doom has restored his face many times, whenever he gains some form of cosmic power, such as from the Silver Surfer, the Beyonder, or the Infinity Gauntlet. And every time he manages to blow it and get brought down to normal again, he inflicts new scars on himself so he still has something to blame for all his problems.
  • If you’re a character in the French-Canadian comic book The Bellybuttons, and your name isn’t Jenny or Vicky, then you have been called ugly at some point. The main character, Karine is particularly often a victim of this.
  • Teddy "Red" Herring, the title character of Red Herring, is referred to by several characters as having an obviously false right eye; it's a running gag that whenever someone asks about it, he gives a different explanation. However, the artwork shows both of his eyes to be identical, and the false eye clearly moves in tandem with the real one.
  • In Seconds, the narration describes Lis as very gangly, but the art style and the fact that she's squatting on her haunches most of the time will cause the reader to question how she is different from any other character in this regard. In her few appearances standing at full height, she appears a bit shorter and less "gangly" than Hazel, whose appearance is described as attractive.
  • In SuperF*ckers, Grotessa is stated to be a hideous hag. Other than her perpetual scowl, she's not that much less attractive than Princess Sunshine and the most overtly disgusting thing about her is her pet giant slug. The animated adaptation tones this down, implying that it's her bad attitude and lax personal hygine that gives her that reputation.

    Fan Works 
  • A very, very slight example in Bucky Barnes Gets His Groove Back & Other International Incidents with Steve Rogers that was likely inserted solely to set up a joke—in this fic, Steve broke his nose in a fight (or possibly several fights) prior to the war, and the Super Serum didn't completely put it back to the way it was before. It's noticeable enough to get a bunch of nosy grandmothers to urge him to get a nose job (he declines), but aside from that, it doesn't prevent several people from remarking on his attractiveness, developing crushes on him, or wanting to have sex with him.
  • In A Very Potter Musical and its sequel, Hermione gets this treatment. She's often called hideous and is called a "night troll", though the actress is rather pretty in reality. Ginny gets the same treatment and is often called a Butterface. It's Played for Laughs in both cases, however.

    Films — Animated 
  • Quasimodo in the Golden Films version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. While he is still a hunchback, it's barely noticeable and his face is mostly perfectly normal-looking, but it's treated like it's hideous. He mostly just looks like an ordinary man with an unflattering haircut and poor posture. Him becoming handsome in the end seemingly amounts to just him standing up straight and changing his hairstyle.
  • In the original Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius movie, the characters mocked Jimmy for being short. Never mind the fact that anyone can see that he's taller than all of them, although it's mostly thanks to his huge head.
  • The titular character of the Shrek films is said to be Mirror-Cracking Ugly to the point that he is feared by everyone around him. This generally isn't shown in his actual design; he mostly just looks like a thickset, somewhat overweight, green-skinned man with tube ears. The closest thing he has to properly ugly features is his rather crooked teeth. The scale might be somewhat tipped, though, by his Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad approach to hygiene (washing himself in thick mud, for instance), which isn't evident to the audience.
  • UglyDolls has a character-specific example with Lou, who's such a stickler for perfection towards even the tiniest flaw (from a single freckle that has to be seen through a magnifying glass to critiquing a character with the same exact body type as everyone else, yet is claimed to have multiple issues aside from a slightly lopsided appearance), that he deems every bad flaw as "ugly". He goes into overdrive for critique when the Uglydolls stumble into the Institute.
    Your head's too small,
    Your neck's too long,
    Your nose starts right, but then ends up all wrong.
    Mm, that tiny freckle,
    Ooh, that crooked tooth,
    You're U-G-L-Y,
    And that's the ugly truth!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Adaptation., a Running Gag is that screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, played in the movie by Nicolas Cage, keeps getting described by other characters as fat, despite the fact that we can see Cage is not. We're led to assume the movie is implying the real Charlie Kaufman is fat. He isn't.
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford: The narration informs us that Jesse James suffers from granulated eyelids, which make him blink more often than normal. This is accompanied by a lengthy shot of Jesse gazing unblinkingly into the horizon. Over the course of the film, he seems to blink less often than normal.
  • Kyle in the movie adaptation of Beastly isn't quite deformed enough to justify his forced isolation. In the book, he seems closer to the Disney Beast with fangs and claws and fur. His movie version is heavily scarred and tattooed, but still extremely muscular, attractive and very much human. He's clearly the only one who thinks he's ugly—a girl who sees him at a party in his transformed state appreciatively comments on his appearance. This is a deliberate subversion, as he was cursed to be what he thinks of as ugly due to mocking the local goth witch for her extreme alternative fashion choices.
  • In Lifetime Movie of the Week The Bride He Bought Online, the Big Bad—played by this guy—is repeatedly described by an Alpha Bitch as an unattractive geek that no girl would want to even kiss. Rrrrriiiiight.
  • In Gangs of New York, Leonardo DiCaprio's character is captured by the Big Bad who claims he will disfigure him with a heated knife, even going so far as to describe which parts he will cut from his face. When we next see the character, he is shown from behind as he walks down the street with people stopping to gawk at him. When the camera pans around, the audience is treated to the image of... the still very handsome Leonardo Di Caprio with a face that is fully intact. The only difference is a slight scar on his cheek that is hard to notice in some scenes.
  • The first Gidget film is a slight example. The nickname "Gidget" stands for "girl midget", and the title song is all about how the singer is attracted to Gidget despite how short she is—but Gidget is not significantly shorter than her friends of the same age. At one point her mother makes a gesture that suggests that Gidget (then absent) is about half a foot shorter than she actually is once she appears.
  • In Jojo Rabbit, Jojo's facial scars caused by a grenade accident are called hideous by many other people including Jojo himself, but the scars aren't that bad and become faded enough that they're not really noticeable in bright lighting. This was likely an intentional filming choice, as the film takes place in Nazi Germany and the Nazis were so obsessed with Aryan appearance ideals that they would consider a minor facial disfigurement like Jojo's to be a hideous blight.
  • In The Last Airbender, Prince Zuko is implied to be gruesomely scarred like his cartoon equivalent. Instead all we get are some barely discernible discolorations, that at worst, might be lumps. Chalked up to terrible makeup artistry in this case.
  • In Mortal Engines, when Tom first sees Hester Shaw's face completely uncovered he reacts with a look of pure horror, and later when being sold as a slave her appearance is mocked by Wreyland. This is in spite of the fact that Hester's "disfigurement" consists of a couple of lines across her cheek that are barely noticeable.
  • In Penelope (2006), it is said that she had the face of a pig, and every eligible bachelor she meets throws himself out of a window to avoid marrying her. She doesn't have a pig's face, and while she does have a pig's nose, she is not ugly, let alone throw-yourself-out-of-a-window hideous.
  • In The Phantom of the Opera (2004), Erik (the Phantom) is described as having a face "so distorted, deformed, it was hardly a face". When the mask eventually comes off, however, his face is revealed to be little more than a bit lumpy. Compare this to the musical, where Erik's face is much more disfigured to the point of Facial Horror, or the book, where it was compared to a "death's head" mask.
  • The Princess Bride: Westley makes some comments implying that Prince Humperdinck is meant to be ugly, even calling him a "warthog-faced buffoon" at one point. Humperdinck is entirely normal-looking and quite a few viewers find him handsome. Of course, Westley has plenty of reason to hate Humperdinck's guts, so...
  • In Ready Player One (2018), Artemis is insecure about her real-world appearance because of her facial birthmark but when we finally see her real face, her birthmark is light, covers only a small portion of her face, and is barely visible in the right lighting.
  • Played for laughs in-universe in the film Spy Game: Brad Pitt constantly mocks Robert Redford for being hideously ugly, but he's obviously just kidding.
  • Due to Special Effects Failure, with her fake warts and twisted teeth, the mutant woman from Terror from the Year 5000 comes across as merely unattractive, even ugly, but still clearly human, and not the hideous, monstrous mutation the movie makes her out to be.
  • Tomorrow Is Forever: John is a soldier who's been wounded in World War I. When we see John in the hospital, his face is swathed in bandages, except for a hole for one eye. John and the doctor talk at length about how John doesn't have a face. John decides to not reveal his identity because he doesn't want his wife Elizabeth to have to take him back out of pity. When we see him after the 20-year Time Skip he looks just the same, except he has a beard and some more wrinkles, and he has a limp. That's it.

  • The Birthmark: Georgiana's birthmark is not all that bad even from the perspective of many in-universe. It's implied that the women who have argued it makes her face horrible only say that out of jealousy, and the author explicitly states that Aylmer only became obsessed with it because it was the only small imperfection in his wife.
  • Intentionally invoked in the cosmic horror stores of H. P. Lovecraft often feature mind-bendingly horrifying creatures that are usually described in a very abstract fashion or left completely off-screen and only shown through a character reaction shot. The fact that said reaction usually involves the viewer immediately descending into gibbering madness makes the narrator's refusal to fully describe them to the reader a setting plot point. (He's either shielding the reader from the madness intentionally or is so mad himself that he can't really describe things coherently anymore.)
  • In Proven Guilty, Harry's narration informs us that Fix, the current Summer Knight, is not good-looking. He then describes—for two paragraphs—Fix's scent of "pine and honeysuckle", and how he exudes "confidence and strength". It's easy to forget that the man is supposedly ugly. Harry also knew him before his ascent into Fey cosmic beauty, and tends to be something of an Unreliable Narrator when it comes to anything associated with the Male Gaze. This is probably an invoked use of the trope, an intentional inversion of the florid descriptions of women the character finds attractive in the earlier books to let us know that he still possesses the flaw despite his attempts at reform.
  • Red Dragon plays with this In-Universe in the context of Francis Dolarhyde's self-perception. He was born with a cleft palate so disfiguring that his mother had to be sedated to stop her screaming; she subsequently abandoned him, and he moved between an orphanage and multiple abusive homes. By the time the story takes place, surgery has reduced his deformity to a small scar on his lip and subtle speech difficulties; in fact, women tend to find him attractive, especially given his impressive physique. But his traumatic upbringing has irrevocably convinced him that he's a freak, which explains why he becomes a Serial Killer and why the only person he feels comfortable around is a blind coworker.
  • The short story The Scarf is about a woman who was in a bad car accident, and never goes out without a scarf covering her horribly disfigured face. The paperboy gets curious about this and eventually breaks into her house and pulls the scarf off. Shocked at what he sees, he trips and hits his head, knocking himself out. The woman then kills him by smashing his head against the floor. She then prepares to call the police with a story about how he assaulted her, but not before replacing the scarf... over her face which is totally unmarked except for one tiny faded scar on her forehead.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events plays this for laughs when the kids visit a rinky-dink carnival and everyone in The Freakshow is just a normal person who's self-conscious about minor quirks: Colette is a contortionist, Hugo the "hunchback" just has slightly awkward posture, and Kevin is ambidextrous. Kevin probably plays it the hardest; he considers it a more significant deformity than having two heads. In the Netflix adaptation, he's even given a good-looking actor, making his angst all the sillier.
  • Slayers:
    • Lina Inverse is always teased for being flat. While she may have a smaller bust size than some of the other female characters, it would be a stretch to call her flat-chested by any normal standard.
    • There's also the chimera Zelgadis—as a result of a spell mixing his genes with a demon and a golem, his skin is blue and his body is covered with scale-like rocks. Sure, he'd probably be incredibly uncanny-looking to the cast and in Real Life, but compared to some monsters and the chimeras that appear in the novel series, he's outright handsome. The art style for the later novels and the anime certainly doesn't help matters.
  • In the original version of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the whole point of people's reactions to Hyde is not of any deformity unto itself but the pure evil radiating from the man. Even a surgeon gets rattled by his appearance. He's actually rather unremarkable, other than being a bit on the small side—he's described as having the air of some unseen deformity rather than actually being deformed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • All in the Family: One episode has other people describe Archie in terms that make him sound morbidly obese to the point where he'll drop dead if he doesn't start dieting immediately. While Archie's definitely on the heavyset side, he's nowhere near that fat.
  • Blackadder:
    • In Blackadder the Third, frequent jokes are made about Prince George being massively overweight. While the real Prince Regent certainly was, Hugh Laurie clearly isn't.
    • Blackadder from 2 on constantly insults Baldrick for being ugly and gross. This isn't entirely unfounded as Baldrick dresses himself in saggy dirty clothing and looks like he hasn't bathed in a while, but he isn't as ugly/dirty looking as Blackadder makes him out to be. This may have more to do with Blackadder being a jerk than Baldric's actual appearance.
  • Perhaps a stretch to call this a deformity, but on CSI, there has been more than one reference to Wendy Simms being big-breasted (or "clumsy yet buxom"), even though she's one of the least busty women in the cast, and in at least one case, the reference was made by a woman who was considerably bustier than Wendy (goes here rather than Informed Attractiveness because Wendy perceives the references to her bust as unflattering—and because her attractiveness is quite genuine).
  • Doctor Who
    • The episode "The Angels Take Manhattan" has the main cast point out Amy's visible aging (specifically lines under her eyes), except that nothing has been done to make Karen Gillan actually look older. Amy looks the same as she did at the beginning of the season, which is supposedly years and years earlier from her point of view.
    • "A Christmas Carol", although in this case, it's more of an Informed Illness. Abigail Pettigrew is said to be seriously ill with a counter tracking how many days she has left to live. She shows no visible signs of illness at any point in the episode, is capable of fully independent movement, and still has her strong, operatic singing voice despite supposedly being 24 hours away from death.
  • House of the Dragon: In Season 1, Daemon Targaryen, who never bothered to consummate his marriage to Lady Rhea Royce, hasn't seen her in years and Really Gets Around all the time, says that sheep of the Vale are more attractive than she is. When she actually appears onscreen a couple episodes down the line, Rhea is played by the attractive Rachel Redford. Granted, Daemon hates her.
  • In I, Claudius, Augustus's daughter Julia is described as being overweight, to the point where her husband Tiberius calls her a "fat drunken cow". Except that she is a fairly petite actress, and of a fairly similar build to Tiberius's first wife.
  • In Married... with Children:
    • David Faustino's a pretty good-looking (if short) guy, but on the show, girls think he's repulsive. Kelly constantly knocks him for his acne problems, which aren't really visible to the audience.
    • Marcy has the same problem. Seriously, you'd think this woman was some ugly hag the way people talk about her relatively plain looks. (Still, beauty is only skin deep...)
  • In The Mighty Boosh many people mock Howard's apparently "squinty eyes", despite the fact they look completely normal.
  • Sé Lo Que Hicisteis: The myriad "shorty" jokes on Ángel's expense fall flat when you realize he's actually above-average height (albeit only by a little) and the other men in the cast aren't all that tall, either, yet they still treat him as if he only lacked the beard to be a dwarf.
  • In Arrested Development, George Michael's girlfriend Ann's plainness is constantly commented on by almost every character, although the actress playing Ann was actually fairly cute. Exacerbated by the fact that George Michael is played by Michael Cera, not the most attractive guy himself.
  • Parodied on Will & Grace, with both Karen and her "freakishly tinier boob" and her surprise sister Ginny, who has one leg slightly shorter than the other, thanks to a prank inflicted by Karen.
  • Liz Lemon's appearance is endlessly made fun of on 30 Rock. Liz Lemon is portrayed by Tina Fey.
  • In Martin, Martin Pain is often teased by Pam to be "too short" for a man, although Martin isn't all that short, and while he isn't much taller than the female characters, he certainly isn't as tiny as Pam loves to make him out to be, especially compared to Cole, who is the shortest male character in Martin's group of friends (yet Cole is commented more on his stupidity rather than his height) with Tommy being the tallest and looming over everybody. A more common insult that seems to be very well-known by all the other characters on the show is that Marty-Mart is always stated to have such very big ears that stick out a lot, and while they do noticeably stick out, his ears don't stick out so much as people exaggerate them to be. Funnily enough, whenever Martin and his girlfriend Gina are about to kiss, he always tells her to grab his ears before they do so, or if Gina is talking to him on the bed she might playfully tug at one of his ears.
    • On the same show, Gina is often insulted by her friends and even her boss for having a big head, although her head is really no bigger than anybody else's and looks to have a normal-sized head. It doesn't help there was an episode where she had somehow gotten her head stuck in between the bars of the metal headboard of her bed and unable to pull it out so she went around wearing it in shame, which apparently made her the Big Head girl and laughing stock. In real life, her head would be small enough for her to easily slip out of the heavy Headboard if anything.
  • Peggy Olson of Mad Men is repeatedly criticized and bullied for her appearance in the earlier seasons. Elizabeth Moss, and the character of Peggy for that matter, are at worst in the high range of average in appearance. To add to the irony, one of her main tormentors eerily resembles Pee-wee Herman and is her baby daddy; Could likely be referencing how men can traditionally get away with being less than dapper and movie-star esque, even in a profession that is known for promoting a rigid standard of beauty and appearance for women as a way to sell products.
  • On Sherlock, Mrs. Hudson is frequently mentioned to have a bad hip (she herself refers to it as "atrocious.") However, she doesn't use any kind of walking aid, has no visible limp, and seems to get up and down the stairs of 221B Baker Street with relative ease. In this case, it is sometimes implied that this is just her excuse for recreational... errr medicinal use of marijuana.
  • In The Thick of It, Malcolm Tucker's insults to politicians are usually based somewhat in reality (Ben Swain's nervous blink, Julius Nicholson's obsession with food) but not Geoff Holhurst's tiny head.
    "My head is the right size!"
  • In Dollhouse, Doctor Sanders is described as horrifically disfigured, even though her scars are barely visible (most of the time—their visibility tends to fluctuate episode by episode). This seems weird and unjustified in Season One since she's played by Amy Acker. In Season Two, we find out that she's a doll, and it makes more sense—a doll with facial scars, even if they don't actually make her ugly, would be pretty useless as a doll.
  • Spoofed in an episode of Seinfeld, where one of Elaine's boyfriends called her Bighead. The rest of the episode then makes jokes about her supposedly oversized head, which has not changed size at all and is never mentioned before this episode or brought up again afterward.
  • Sam Evans from Glee is consistently mocked for having a huge mouth/lips, to the point where it's turned into a song. In reality, there's nothing particularly abnormal about Chord Overstreet's mouth.
  • Kindred: The Embraced: the Nosferatus become this through Adaptational Attractiveness. In the game this series is based on, they are all hideously deformed to such a degree they can in no way pass for humans. The show depicts them as merely bald with longer lobes, but otherwise fairly human-looking... which makes it really strange when the show acts as if they were just as deformed as in the game.
  • The Reveal in one episode of a famous episode of The Twilight Zone (1959). Throughout the episode, a doctor attempts to fix a woman's horrible disfigurement, which is distressing to her and the other people working in the hospital, before he declares it impossible and sending her to live in a colony of people like her. The doctor, and everyone else on the assumed-to-be-Earth planet, looks quite alien, with features including a pig nose and hooked upper lips. The woman, on the other hand, as well as the man who takes her away to the colony, are both quite attractive. The episode was, fittingly, entitled "The Eye of the Beholder".
  • In Penny Dreadful, Frankenstein's Monster is supposedly hideously ugly, although all he actually has is dead-white skin, gold irises, and some moderate facial scarring. This is possibly justified psychologically—he hides his face and acts as if he's ashamed of his appearance, and other people pick up on it and react badly. In the final season, in which he's more confident and less overpowered by self-hatred, he casually interacts with ordinary people without provoking exaggerated reactions.
  • On The Dick Van Dyke Show episode "The Ugliest Dog in the World" every character expresses revulsion towards the appearance of the dog they name Horrible because he's apparently such a blight on the retinas of the poor humans forced to endure his presence. However, the dog cast in the role, Pluto, who guest-starred on many other classic '60s shows, is a completely unremarkable looking dog except for needing his shaggy coat groomed. At the end of the episode, they finally do get him groomed and marvel at the incredible "transformation" from average dog to average dog with shorter, combed fur.
  • In an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Dennis, while attempting to sell a dress he designed, refers to his dress model as having tiny breasts and a huge gut. By all appearances to the viewer, the model is quite pretty (and is played by Rachelle Wood, an actual model for Abercrombie & Fitch), and she even claims to wear a D-cup, which Dennis simply believes to be a lie. In the context of the episode, it's quite clear that Dennis only considers the model ugly because she doesn't match the impossibly-proportioned and hypersexualized "concept sketches" he drew up.

  • At the beginning of Goddess Creation System, Xiaxi is treated like some hideous troll, but the worst you can say is that she doesn't put much effort into her clothes, has unflattering glasses, is slightly chubby, and *gasp* has freckles.


    Professional Wrestling 
  • Cody Rhodes's "UnDashing" gimmick was based on him believing himself horrifically deformed after having his nose broken by Rey Mysterio. He wore a protective mask and often came to the ring with a hood or towel over his head amidst dimmed lighting. In reality, Rhodes looked exactly like he did before the accident, suggesting his narcissistic character had been so traumatized by the mere idea of losing his good looks, he had developed Body Dismorphic Disorder. The announcers were not sure how to treat it. Sometimes they acted like he was legitimately ugly, but other times they treated the deformity as being mostly in his head.
  • When his mask was ripped off, Hunico was subjected to this treatment by an overly-dramatic Booker T. Booker exclaimed, "He's hideous! No wonder he was wearing that mask!" Michael Cole called him out on overreacting.
  • A Played for Drama example happened with Kane. Kane had spent his entire career up until 2003 wearing a mask and bodysuit to cover up severe burn scars he had received in a fire that killed his parents. He lost a match to Triple H and as per a stipulation, had to remove his mask. The man underneath the mask had a bad haircut and the eye makeup had smeared all over his face, but he otherwise looked fine and had no burn scars. This was incorporated into the storyline with Kane wearing a towel over his head to cover his supposedly burnt face, with characters pointing out that he wasn't scarred or deformed in any way. Kane was so traumatized by the fire that he couldn't accept reality, believing that everyone was lying to him and mocking him behind his back, which led to him attacking just about everyone he came across in very brutal ways.

  • There's a stage version of The Elephant Man where the lead is a totally normal guy without any alterations, he displays the deformity entirely via acting. It ranges from better than it sounds to utter narm. The idea was to show it from his perspective, and he thinks of himself as normal.
  • Any given stage production of The Metamorphosis will combine this with Take Our Word for It. It's impossible to actually stage that book, but if a good enough actor plays Gregor, the audience will accept that okay, he's a giant bug.
  • Happens in some performances of The Producers where Bloom's cries of "Fat!" fall on their faces because the actor playing Bialystok has a regular build. One Bloom actor got around it by amending his rant to "once-fat".
  • In Romeo and Juliet, it seems that Mercutio actually has a bad self-image. When putting on a mask prior to the Masquerade Ball, his dialogue suggests he thinks he's so ugly he needs it:
    "Give me a case to put my visage in:
    A visor for a visor! what care I
    What curious eye doth quote deformities?
    Here are the beetle brows shall blush for me."
  • Happens frequently in productions of Richard III; although everyone in the play (including Richard himself) goes on a great deal about his deformity, it's often downplayed in terms of costuming and physical acting. This is partly because the play also emphasizes Richard's talent for (medieval) warfare, and partly because it's a long play and the part is notorious for crippling actors.
  • Similarly, in Henry V King Henry makes a speech to Katherine apologizing for his appearance, explaining that his father was thinking of civil wars when he was conceived, and so he was born with a face to frighten enemies. Yet of course Henry is typically very handsome-looking on stage (in the 2012 BBC version, he's played by Tom Hiddleston, yowza). This line is probably a reference to the actual Henry V who took an arrow to the face as a teenager.
  • In The Secret Garden, Archibald is supposedly a cripple and a hunchback, and it's referenced quite a few times, but it can be hard to see his deformity.
  • In Uncle Vanya, Sonya is described as "plain" (plain enough that the women at her church pity her and her stepmother can only say she has lovely eyes), but the actresses playing her range from average to gorgeous.
  • In Violet, the horrible disfigurement of the title character is a major plot point, but that disfigurement is not seen by the audience. She was played on Broadway by the absurdly gorgeous Sutton Foster, and only the words and actions of the characters indicate the severity of her scars.
  • In Wicked, any character seeing Elphaba for the first time tends to recoil in shock at her ugliness, simply because she's green. Even her lover only calls her beautiful because he's "looking at things another way". In actual fact, Elphaba is a young and beautiful woman (with none of the ugliness of the Wicked Witch of the West from the movie, no crooked nose or warts) who only looks unattractive at the beginning of the musical because she wears her hair in a boring braid, glasses, and conservative clothes (but this is clearly not what people find ugly about her).

  • The Toa Hordika in BIONICLE are described and treated as hideous mutated monstrosities, with more in common to animals. As the entire franchise consists of mostly-robotic cyborgs, differing beauty standards might enter into it, but as far as any observer can tell, their only "monstrous" traits are a mildly slouched stance, asymmetrical arms, a Rhotuka spinner in the back, and a head construction method that doesn't use traditional mask methods. Most of these traits (and most of their parts, for that matter) have been seen in other characters, and even other Toa, without any remarks. Other than that, they're still completely humanoid, and use an almost identical bodyplan to the later Inika builds.

    Video Games 
  • In the first Ace Attorney, the actor Will Powers is frequently referred to as ugly or scary-looking, to the point where one person suspected him of murder based only on his looks. In his art, he's a big guy with somewhat harsh features, but he isn't bad-looking.
  • In Baldur's Gate III, your companion Wyll can be forcibly transfigured to have horns (as well as red eyes and some skin ridges) by his warlock patron as punishment. If this happens, he'll sit out the Act I tiefling party in the belief that he's so frighteningly devilish he'll bring the mood down. However, while his new horns are unusually large (and of course he feels self-conscious and unhappy, which no doubt makes it hard for him to judge his new appearance rationally), he otherwise still looks basically like a normal handsome human with some scars. Moreover, since most of the other partiers are tieflings, Wyll is actually one of the least devilish-looking people there, something you have no option to point out, even if you yourself are a tiefling (and therefore likely to be bright red, orange, purple, etc, with horns, glowing eyes, and many more skin ridges).
  • Banjo-Kazooie: According to the manual, Mumbo Jumbo's mask is the horrific result of a curse cast on him by Gruntilda. Looking at his model, he looks decent at worst.
  • Brigid Tenenbaum from the first BioShock game is stated to have greasy hair, wear grubby clothes, and be unusually tall and thin. While she doesn't have a unique model in-game, you'd never guess from her radio portrait, which is even based on Hollywood actress Geraldine Fitzgerald, though it's possible she had it touched up. However, in BioShock 2 she finally gets a unique model and looks exactly as she is described in the first game.
  • Nina's black wings in Breath of Fire II are mostly a different trope, but their actual appearance is this. Since the SNES only has one shade of black, and grays would just make them look white, her sprites have her wings colored purple. They're consistently called black in-game, though.
  • Francis York Morgan in Deadly Premonition has a small, unobtrusive scar on his cheek from a fight with a suspect prior to the game, but other characters keep calling him "Scarface" or otherwise drawing attention to it. Subverted and justified by the ending twist: York is just the other personality of the actual protagonist, Francis Zach Morgan, who is a lot more scarred.
  • In Disco Elysium, the Detective, can meet one of his squad members, Patrol Officer Judit Minot, but due to suffering from severe amnesia he cannot remember her name, and in his mind, she is just called the "Horse-faced Woman", even though he himself notices that it is hardly descriptive because she is not really "horse-faced" in the slightest, and his Empathy skill will even ask him how he came up with such an unfair nickname for the poor woman in the first place.
  • The Phantom of the Opera is a playable Assassin in Fate/Grand Order, and introduces himself with a warning not to look under his mask. In his third ascended form, he unmasks... and is a normal Bishounen, although he's upset and shouts at you not to look. The addition to his biography at Bond 3 explains it as an Innocent Monster trait caused by a certain novel's description of him as deformed, combined with his actual insanity to prevent him ever remembering that he wasn't.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VII: The signature Glowing Eyes that Cloud has as a result of his exposure to Mako energy are continually mentioned in the script of the original game, but not visible whatsoever on his field model, character model, or even his menu portraits. The inconsistent art style of the game means it is visible in a few scenes in the ending movie, final battle model, and (for some reason) his snowboarding minigame model. Even in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, his eyes have a vivid green ring around the pupil and do all sorts of strange things during his possession episodes (including Hellish Pupils), but don't glow other than that, even in scenes taking place in the dark. In Crisis Core, the exact same eye textures are used for Cloud both before and after his Mako exposure, and even the FMV extreme closeup on the "SOLDIER 1st Class" Cloud at the end of the game doesn't show a glow at all. His eyes are finally seen actually glowing in Last Order: Final Fantasy VII, including at a point where Cloud hadn't actually been exposed to Mako energy yet, making it even more bizarre. Finally averted by Final Fantasy VII Remake and Cloud's cameo in Mobius Final Fantasy, where Cloud's eyes have the clear and continuous glow that's referenced in the text.
    • In Final Fantasy VII Remake, several NPC characters remark that Cloud has the sort of appearance of someone who does not get enough sleep, particularly his deep eye bags. On-screen he has a few undereye wrinkles but otherwise looks very pretty and blemishless. There’s also multiple NPCs such as Don Corneo's mooks who call Aerith (yes that Aerith) plain and “With a little work could clean up nicely” despite the obvious fact Aerith is so naturally beautiful she could be wearing rags and still look gorgeous.
    • Final Fantasy X:
      • Despite the fact that character models never change, characters are often described as "blushing," or "bed headed."
      • In the sequel, Lulu is pregnant enough for the majority of the game that Wakka thinks she might give birth any moment (though she does say it's not that far), but her model is exactly as it appeared in the original game, corset and all.
      • They also draw attention to Wakka's newly-acquired stomach pudge. Despite this, his abs (which his outfit clearly showcases) look as hard and devoid of fat as they always did.
    • Final Fantasy XV:
      • The game insists the main characters are wearing ugly, boring military uniforms (which the characters even complain about having to wear) despite the fact that they're dressed in extremely stylish, Costume Porn-level designer clothing reflecting their individual personalities.
      • Noctis is described as being scrawny in appearance and a bit on the flabby, unfit side due to his sickly upbringing, lazy streak, and crappy diet. He looks like a slim, sturdy youth with nice, even muscle tone. In Kingsglaive, he has serious abs, too.
  • In a support added to Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, the remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden Jesse is described as ugly and thuggish in appearance by the character, Silque. Jesse, pictured here, is blonde, clean-shaven, smooth-faced, and trim; standing in clear contrast to the actual bandits, pictured here, who are unshaven, messy haired and Gonkish.
  • Grand Theft Auto
    • Ryder in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is always being called a midget by several characters even though the cutscenes show him being the same height as every other character in the game.
    • Grand Theft Auto V: Michael is repeatedly described as a fat man, with two coroners describing him in terms that make him sound like a ball of lard. Granted, Michael's not the most svelte of men, but he's not that chunky either.
  • Celso's wife in Grim Fandango is ugly according to Manny. She looks like just any other female human soul except with a pair of lines on her face.
  • The eponymous Hades sometimes calls Zagreus scrawny, and Artemis echoes the sentiment by insisting Zagreus doesn't have enough meat on him to be worth hunting after he slights her in a Trial of the Gods. This would seem less comically petty on their part if Zagreus didn't literally have the body of a Greek god. Of course, Hades himself is far larger and more muscular than Zagreus, to the point that one of his arms is about the size of Zagreus's entire body, so one imagines he's grading on a curve.
  • In Immortals Fenyx Rising, Hephaistos is described as disfigured and ugly, to the point that he has to create robot companions to keep him company. When you finally see him in his human form, he looks perfectly normal with no distinct deformities in sight. The worst you can say about him is that he limps and is bald.
  • A number of characters in the Jak and Daxter series comment on how ugly Daxter is (in both forms), some even going as far as calling him "the little annoying miserably ugly one". As a human, he's gangly and has buck teeth, but otherwise is not much different from the rest. As an ottsel, he simply looks like a Mix-and-Match Critter, which luckily Tess thinks is awfully cute.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Midna is revealed to be usurped ruler of the Twili and once resembled a photo-negative full-size woman. After being cursed by Zant, she's now ashamed of her current impish form. This is despite that fact that this form is Ugly Cute at worst and the few other Twili we see are even more impish.note 
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, several characters will note that Link's body is littered with faint scars, with one character even requesting he strip down and show them to confirm that he is in fact Link. None of this appears on his character model.
  • Nubby Stevens in LEGO Island is frequently ridiculed for being short to the point of being nicknamed "Stubby" by Papa Brickolini, though every character in the game is the exact same height.
  • Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty has Solid Snake being told by others that he "hasn't aged well." Snake is in his thirties and despite having a bit of a grizzled look, Snake has a well-built body, a deep voice, and, by the second game, a mullet. It isn't until Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots that Snake is actually aged significantly to look like he's in his seventies or older, despite biologically being in his forties. Said rapid aging is due to him being designed as a Big Boss clone with a limited lifespan.
  • Mileena throughout the Mortal Kombat is called ugly for her Tarkatan teeth and considered a complete Butter Face by heroes and villains alike, and sure there's some truth in that. However, thanks to the games making her Progressively Prettier, calling Mileena "hideous" in MKX compared to her previous appearance is really pushing at straws. The fans on the other hand believe in Beauty Is Never Tarnished with her and ironically Mileena is considered MK's Ms. Fanservice anyway.
  • In No Umbrellas Allowed, all items look like they're in "Perfect Condition" upon being initially sold to you, even if the customer says otherwise, so you have to use your Damage Assessor to check how much damage they actually have.
  • The Character Creation mode of Soul Calibur VI features sixteen different fantasy races to choose from. One of these races is known as Outcasts, which is described as a forgotten race of people who are descendants of those cursed by the gods and are constantly persecuted by the rest of the world due to their fearsome forms. these "fearsome" forms just so happen to be normal looking humans with animal ears.
  • In To the Rescue!, you can check your dogs' health conditions (which are not to be confused with infections, which are cured with vaccines) in their folders. Some of them have deformities such as being three-legged, but they'll always look healthy unless they get infected.
  • Viva Piñata has the Pigxie species, which everyone treats as a horribly deformed freak of nature. While "freak of nature" is technically correct (you get them by crossbreeding two different species that should not normally be able to romance), they are, appearance-wise, perfectly normal flying pigs.
  • For some reason, Neku from The World Ends with You is apparently not as well-dressed as his peers. Never mind the fact that he looks just as stylized and cool as the rest of the cast. The clothes his sprite is depicted as wearing throughout the game are a matching set from Jupiter of the Monkey—but, it should be noted, the flavor text for the Dharma shirt says that Neku practically wears the same thing every day.

    Visual Novels 
  • Saber from Fate/stay night bluntly says that her body must look ugly to men thanks to it being overly muscled. The problem is, she has the body of a (very) skinny fifteen-year-old girl, which can be clearly seen as the whole scene takes place in a bath. She also adds that Rin has a nice and young feminine body, unlike her—but Rin is actually physically older and taller, and if anything, has a more muscular build than Saber. Saber looks exactly the same in flashbacks to her previous life, too (according to FSN-mythos, she stopped aging when she first got her sword).
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors:
    • The characters comment on how old Lotus is. She's 40 and doesn't really "look" old. Though you could argue that the ones who comment on it the most (Junpei, Santa, and Seven) are simply doing with it to mess with her. Junpei actually seems a bit... overwhelmed by her presence when he first meets her, and at one point June laments that she knows guys would prefer someone who looks like Lotus over herself. It should be telling that she manages to pull off a Stripperiffic, midriff-baring harem-girl outfit at 40.
    • In a milder example, June mentions that Clover has better skin than her. Both characters have perfectly clear anime skin.
  • Saki from Snow Sakura is teased as being flat-chested every now and then. However, when you're looking at her, there's not any angle that you can consider her chest flat.
  • In Midnight Cinderella, the main character is shocked to see that Nico's body is littered with scars from the numerous fights he's gotten into, but Nico's shirtless sprite doesn't have a single mark on it. What makes this even more bizarre is that Robert's shirtless sprite does show a large (faded) scar on his chest that's important to his backstory... and yet they somehow couldn't do the same with Nico's.

    Web Animation 
  • Ramsey Murdoch, of Epithet Erased, is described as hideous, ratlike, and other unflattering descriptions. Despite this, he isn't drawn to be particularly ugly or rodentlike besides a facial scar and pointier ears than usual.
  • Disco Bear, a main character in Happy Tree Friends, is constantly portrayed as unfit and quite overweight. While he's occasionally shown with a noticeable gut and man boobs, he otherwise seems no less pudgy than his targets, Giggles and Petunia, who often mock or ridicule Disco Bear. Despite showcasing unhealthy habits, Disco Bear seems to be somewhat athletic, given he's a dancer after all.
  • Madness Combat claims that Sanford is actually quite ugly, but the only thing that actually sets him apart from the rest of the cast in terms of facial features is his prominent smug lip. He's a bit more noticeably rough-looking in MADNESS: Project Nexus 2, but not enough to justify the claim of being criminally ugly. Incidentally, the descriptor is Not Hyperbole, they actually put "ugly" as one of his crimes on his "Wanted!" Poster.
  • In Red vs. Blue, everyone's making comments on how Grif is fat. Justified, due to the limitations of the Halo game engine. Completely averted in the pilot for the animated cartoon, however, where Grif is actually chubby.
  • In Shrapnel, while the Ugandan Knuckles are a little goofier in design compared to most of the other characters, they are considered horribly ugly outside of their own kind.
  • Common in Teen Girl Squad, thanks to its stick-figure art. The Ugly One isn't that much uglier than the other girls. Of course, in her case, she compensates by being unhygienic and generally offputting as well. It's pretty clear that the unhygienic and offputting attitude are what causes it if you remember the episode in which it's revealed that She Cleans Up Nicely.

    Web Comics 
  • One complaint leveled at Alex Ze Pirate is the "Alex looks like a guy" Running Gag, which made sense in the beginning when she looked more androgynous, but far less so when she was eventually given a more feminine makeover, complete with a far more noticeable bust.
  • Luna of Dominic Deegan is convinced that her little tusks are a deformity—which they technically are—and that they make her look hideous. They really don't, though a whole lifetime of her family systematically convincing her that they are will do that to a person. Eventually, she starts to get over it.
  • Foxes in Love: On several occasions, Blue has been described as having an abnormally huge head, which makes it hard for him to find hats or helmets that fit him. Despite this, he is drawn with a head the same size as most other characters.
  • In Just a Goblin, Goliath describes goblins as being so filthy and ugly that watching them scream in pain brings him joy. But the majority of younger goblins are drawn with features no less cute or normal than the human and elven adventurers. If it weren't for Nog's and Gubble's skin tone and Cute Little Fangs, there would be no reason to believe that they look that different from the people around them.
  • Done In-Universe in the Oglaf strip "Suspenders", with a puppet show where the "ugly stepsister" puppet looks no less pretty than the "beautiful heroine" one. When called on this, the puppeteer explains that he only makes puppets he can jerk off over.
  • Something*Positive:
    • Davan MacIntire has induced Meg-level horror (in some very shallow people, admittedly), but is not substantially uglier than the average cast member. And there are some truly horrific-looking cast members. Of course, this is very likely to be intentional, considering how much of a Sadist Show S*P is. Notably, this happened less as he became less of an Author Avatar.
    • Mike and Tamara's son, Shazam Wil-Wheaton, is consistently described as hideous by anyone but his parents, but for years he was only shown from behind because the author doubted he could live up to the hype. This phenomenon is Discussed when Shaz's face is finally seen.
  • Done in-universe in Waterworks. Slick states that his acquaintance Mist is hideous, then describes her as something that, as the protagonist points out, "isn't friggin' ugly at ALL. At least by media standards." Subverted, though, as Mist comes from a different civilization with different standards of beauty.

    Web Original 
  • On Atop the Fourth Wall, Linkara is frequently referred to as overweight. While he's certainly a little pudgy, he's not unhealthily overweight by any means.
  • ContraPoints discusses this in a video on "incels" (an online subculture of involuntarily celibate men), mentioning how a lot of those guys consider themselves physically repulsive even though they look perfectly normal. The show's host Natalie Wynn mentions how incels share selfies and pick each other's appearances apart for minute flaws that they perceive, then compares this to her experience with a community of fellow trans women on 4chan who irrationally convinced themselves and each other that they looked too masculine to ever pass as female.
  • On Flander's Company, Igor, the stereotypical Evil Genius' assistant, has a scar drawn over the face and a hunchback as sole visible deformities. Yet he's described in-universe as "having had a run-in with a Parkinsonian surgeon".

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: Jimmy's big head is a frequent target of mockery. While Jimmy's head is too big for his body, the same goes for the other characters, whose heads are just as big as, if not bigger than, Jimmy's.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • Nicole is mentioned by both her kids and husband to have lots of wrinkles from stress, despite looking as youthful as her 12-year-old son Gumball.
    • Richard is repeatedly called bald, but his entire body is covered in a uniform coat of fur which looks exactly the same as when he was a child and technically speaking, none of the Wattersons have visible hair. His head is shown as reflective in "The Stars", suggesting Richard is bald, but it's impossible for the viewer to tell because his fur and skin are the same color. A different joke in "The Cycle" suggested he covered his bald spots with pink paint
  • American Dad!:
    • Hayley apparently has a very masculine face, to the point where she's sometimes mistaken for a man. This is despite the fact that her face looks almost exactly like Francine's, who is considered to be very attractive in-universe.
    • In "I Am the Jeans: The Gina Lavetti Story", Steve is said to have thick bushy eyebrows he constantly has to pluck while Stan's are said to be thin and wispy, yet there is no visible difference between the two as they both just look like curved lines above their eyes. They make a wish to have each other's eyebrows, can immediately tell they've been switched, and are embarrassed to have them to the point that they switch places at Steve's school and Stan's CIA job. They can pass for each other based on their eyebrows alone despite looking nothing alike.
  • In Archer, Lana's hands are often called huge and yeti-like, but they look as normal as everyone else's.
  • Bob's Burgers:
    • Bob Belcher is repeatedly mocked by others as fat, this includes his youngest daughter, his father, and he himself. However, while he's not exactly fit, he's nowhere near as out of shape to warrant the constant stream of fat jokes, especially since other characters like Hugo, who makes these same comments about Bob, are clearly chubbier than him.
    • Linda Belcher, though considered good looking by in-universe standards, has been brought up as less desirable in certain areas. She's said to have "giant man hands" in Eat, Spray, Linda, even though they're no bigger than the hands of any other adult woman. In The Unbearable Like Likeness of Gene, she expresses anger over Gretchen losing weight from a crash diet by complaining about her muffin top. Notable, this is not treated as her having a poor body image, as Bob says he loves her muffin top. Not only is Gretchen still fatter looking than Linda, but an episode of the same season shows Linda in a swimsuit, showing she has no muffin top at all. In fact, she's one of the slimmest adults in the series.
  • Jay Sherman from The Critic is constantly described as being very ugly and morbidly obese. However, overall he's fairly normal-looking. He's just short, balding, and chubby.
  • Daria:
    • Early episodes sometimes had minor characters act as though Daria was hideously ugly, though in reality, she's fairly average, save for her refusal to ever try to be pretty. In this case, it may have been more to showcase the shallowness of the other characters.
    • In "Aunt Nauseam" Stacy mentions "a slight asymmetry in my shoulders that is very painful for me even to mention."
  • Family Guy:
    • This happens with Meg numerous times, as the other characters often treat her as horrifically ugly despite her being relatively normal-looking. Some characters have even gone so far as to douse themselves with gasoline and light themselves on fire whenever she approaches. She's also mistaken for a boy several times, despite having a clearly female chest. Made even more bizarre when she actually looks exactly like Lois, who is considered to be hot by a lot of characters, with the only difference being that she wears glasses and a hat and is slightly chubbier. Besides that, Meg is the one who gets the most crap for being ugly, even if most of her family members (notably Peter, Chris, and Stewie) are visibly uglier than her. Meg is a very blatant Butt-Monkey, however, so this may just be a part of that.
      • This is hilariously inverted when she suddenly becomes "hot" as a result of doing nothing more than bleaching her hair and wearing revealing clothing.
      • In the alternate universe episode, Meg in another universe is shown to be smoking hot with long hair, a curvy frame, and her breasts being two cup sizes bigger than they usually are (unfortunately for her, every other woman in that universe got the same hotness boost, so she's still ugly by that universe's standards.)
      • In "Dr. C and the Women" Meg becomes popular at her new job as airport security because she's the most attractive employee there, a jealous co-worker saying that she's the only one there who isn't shaped like a potato.
    • In "Peter-assment," Peter's boss Angela is so ugly that Quagmire wouldn't do her, yet she looks completely normal, and in fact is better looking than Rene Russo, who's shown in a cutaway gag to be an ugly one-toothed pockmarked hick.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.
    • Mandy is frequently mistaken for a boy and has been called hideous by numerous people, even though she looks no more frightening than any other character. The fact that she's got a permanent scowl and is regarded as an Enfant Terrible probably has something to do with it.
    • Likewise Mandy and on one occasion Grim have referred to Irwin as being ugly, though on Mandy's part, this is probably because she doesn't like him and wishes he would stop trying to ask her out.
  • An interesting case in Hey Arnold! is Helga Pataki. While she actually does look very odd (she has a Big Ol' Unibrow, a bulbous nose, billy goat-like ears, a large overbite, and a scrawny build) so do most of the other characters (the title character has a football-shaped head for crying out loud!). Yet Helga is always the one who is called out for being ugly. She's even mistaken for a boy a few times, despite the fact that her standard outfit is a pink dress. There's even some Hypocritical Humor with Harold making fun of Helga's unibrow even though he has one too and is overall far less pleasant to look at than Helga is.
  • In Invader Zim, everyone says that Dib's head is freakishly huge, much to his confusion, as it's the same size as anyone else's head. Of course, the characters who claim that his head is big are usually the same ones who actually believe that Zim's green skin and lack of ears is a skin condition, so they're not exactly masters of perception.
  • Kaeloo: Apparently, Kaeloo is overweight and Stumpy is ugly. To the viewers, Kaeloo looks just as slim as everybody else, and Stumpy looks normal.
  • Milo Murphy's Law: Milo Murphy is allegedly Covered with Scars due to his dangerous life and poor luck, but none of his scars are visible to the audience.
  • Scootaloo from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic says that her wings are undergrown compared to other pegasi her age, which keeps her from flying. Despite this, her general character model is no different from other pegasus fillies. There is also another pegasus Bulk Biceps who can fly despite having equally small wings on an even larger body (though how well he can fly varies from episode to episode).
  • Parodied in Scooby-Doo! Stage Fright which has heavy references to The Phantom of the Opera, including a phantom "haunting" an old opera house. When the gang encounters the Phantom, he rants about how hideously deformed he is and only begrudgingly lets them see him without his mask. Once he takes it off... he's completely normal. Nothing special, but not bad either. It turns out the only mirror he had was an old funhouse mirror that greatly distorted his appearance. When Daphne lends him her compact for a more accurate reflection, he declares himself an Adonis.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated:
    • Early in the show, Velma is mistaken for a boy even after her gender is pointed out. While nowhere near as shapely as Daphne, Velma does have a feminine figure, not to mention wearing a skirt and hairclips. In fact, this is one of her more feminine-looking incarnations.
    • In another episode, the gang meet a band of wastelanders who think beauty and ugliness are the opposite. They call their one normal-looking member Ugly Jimmy, and it later becomes Informed Attractiveness when they start calling him Handsome Jimmy after his face gets busted up from falling off a cliff.
  • Not a deformity, but at least a distinctive trait: In "A Menace In Venice", one of the last episodes of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, the gang's friend Antonio is said to have green eyes, just like the paintings of his ancestors in a museum. But the style of animating faces from early Scooby-Doo is such that everyone's eyes are just half-circle lines and black dots. A few shots show Antonio's black dots with a pale center, suggesting light-colored eyes, but neither his nor the ancestral portraits show any actual green. Better yet, when the culprit is revealed to be a distant relative with the same distinctive eyes, he takes out one of the contact lenses he'd supposedly been using to hide their color and thus his identity. "Real color" exposed, his eye looks exactly the same as when he was wearing the contact.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Homer Simpson at times. He's obviously fat, bald, and unshaven, but the show is inconsistent over characters calling attention to it. Marge is shown to find him attractive despite his flaws. It's probably because Homer would be attractive (for the show) if he took better care of himself. An early episode had Homer grow his hair and dress nicely, and Patty and Selma were stunned at his looks. Herb Powell is Homer with hair and no pot belly, and he's also considered pretty attractive in-universe.
    • Homer's weight is a frequent subject of mockery by other characters, including people like Chief Wiggum, who is visibly fatter than Homer. For that matter, Barney is nearly twice Homer's size and yet few people comment on this. The latter might be due to Barney's much more obvious flaw, his constant drunkenness.
    • On more than one occasion Lisa Simpson is described as having a big butt, despite her actual character design being more or less the same as the other Springfield kids.
    • While Moe Szyslak is quite odd-looking compared to other characters, people act like he's hideous and even inhuman (one gag had him bleeding green when trying to prove he is not a monster). His Perpetual Frowner expression and Jerkass behavior only seem to amplify the problem. His peculiar appearance is downplayed in the few episodes where he's actually pleasant.
    • Patty and Selma often get treated as hideous, especially by Homer. While they're heavy, a bit past their prime, and have hairy legs, they don't really look that different from their sister Marge (who in turn, given the art style, may have a case of Informed Attractiveness).
  • South Park has a very simplistic art style, with many of its characters identical except for clothes and hair, so many attributes wind up being informed.
    • Wendy, trying to make a point about how everybody has physical flaws:
      "I have pimples on my forehead! My bottom teeth are crooked! So what?! You [Stan] have short legs. And Jason has freckles, and Billy Turner has narrow shoulders. The cheerleaders? Bebe has acne! Lola's arms are too short! Nichole's eyes are puffy! Annie has thin hair! And Heidi Turner's butt is flat!"
    • There was one character who was supposedly the "ugly child" in school but actually looked like everyone else.
    • Played for Laughs with Ugly Bob. Apparently, he's absolutely hideous by Canadian standards, but to foreigners (except Saddam Hussein) he just looks like every other Canadian. A later episode shows that he's moved to America to take advantage of this fact.
    • Then there was the episode where Cartman went to jail, and the kids had to pick out a new "fat kid." They unanimously agreed that it was Clyde, even though he's not drawn any different than the others. (At one point Clyde even notes that he's only a little pudgier than the others, but they persist in mocking him.)
    • In one episode the girls make a list that ranks the boys from cutest to ugliest, and Kyle happens to be at the bottom after it's manipulated by Bebe and her cohorts. When he talks to his parents about it they say he looks fine, and also mention that he looks just like his father, but with his mother's (large and stereotypically Jewish) nose. Kyle seems horrified by this, even though a.) his dad doesn't look particularly ugly, and b.) Kyle doesn't even have a visible nose.
    • In "The Ungroundable" someone refers to Pete (the half red-haired goth) as having pockmarks, though there is no sign of them for the viewer.
    • Played for Laughs in "How to Eat With Your Butt." Butters is grounded for supposedly making a funny face that ruined his school picture, even though he was only smiling. Butters is understandably confused, especially when his parents accuse him of making the same stupid face while he's talking to them, even though he isn't.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Squidward is often treated as ugly by other characters reacting in disgust at the sight of him or his self portraits and him being a prime target of unsettling close ups. Even though there are other cephalopods who look similar to him, he's the only one subjected to this treatment.
  • Total Drama:
    • A season 2 episode had characters making a big deal over Lindsay's supposedly oversized feet; we don't see anything onscreen in that episode, but episodes before and after that one show them to be normal-sized (and actually a bit on the small side.)
    • In season 4, it's a Running Gag that Lightning (who, to be fair, isn't the sharpest) thinks Jo is a guy. While not exactly feminine, her tracksuit doesn't really hide the fact that she's female.
  • Blackarachnia does this (overlapping with Hollywood Homely and Fantastic Racism) for the first two seasons of Transformers: Animated. Several Autobots find her attractive and the rest seem to pay her appearance no mind, but she constantly harps on her status of being techno-organic and hideous. Then in season three that mask she's been wearing comes off and oh dear lord. Not to mention that we get Sentinel trying to kill her for what she is.

    Real Life 
  • A delusional perception of one's own appearance as extremely flawed is known as body dysmorphic disorder, which often goes hand in hand with a plethora of other illnesses like eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • Facial Profiling is usually Played for Laughs nowadays when it appears at all, but in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, numerous racist publications used caricatures and pseudoscience to seriously argue that certain ethnic groups were inhumanly ugly while the supposed Master Race was divinely beautiful. In the Anglosphere, such publications tended to depict people of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant descent as The Beautiful Elite and people of African and Irish descent as apelike in appearance. Meanwhile, Nazi Germany published official propaganda contrasting goblin-like Jews with Teutonic supermen—even though Those Wacky Nazis eventually proceeded to make Jews publicly identify themselves with yellow badges, which wouldn't have been necessary if Jews really did look so grotesquely different from other ethnicities.
  • Certain social castes throughout history have been shunned as disgustingly unclean and "untouchable" despite not bearing any obvious differences from the rest of society:
    • Japan's traditional burakumin caste has no physical differences from other social strata. Their "deformity" was historically considered spiritual in nature, associated with their "impure" occupations like butchering animals and disposing of corpses. They're also metaphorically associated with physical degradation via a derogatory gesture of holding up four fingers, because it's easy to lose a finger through the sort of dangerous labour to which burakumin are often relegated, and because four fingers = four legs = animals. (This is also a big part of why Four-Fingered Hands tend not to show up in Japanese media.) The lack of any actual identifying traits meant that in the pre-Shogunate era, it was possible for them to assimilate into higher castes (some even becoming samurai) if a daimyō found their services valuable enough to conceal their heritage, but the Tokugawa Shogunate cut off this avenue of advancement by making all of the castes more rigidly hereditary. Unsurprisingly, many of the burakumin ended up joining the Yakuza because it didn't care about castes. To this day, a large majority of Yakuza are thought to be of burakumin descent.
      • The Japanese government does recognize these's one thing the burakumin have in common: their ancestors lived in a number of segregated neighborhoods before the Meiji Restoration. So what they do is declaring it a crime for anyone to know, or facilitate others to know, where these communities are these days, other than a small number of workers handling welfare. This way, together with increasing urbanization (Tokyo has no historical burakumin communities), will make the burakumin label go the way of the Cagots (see below).
    • A similar situation exists in India, where Dalit castes have been historically relegated to "unclean" jobs like sanitation and butchery, and thus shunned by other communities. According to the ancient Chinese traveller Faxian, it got so bad that Dalits in certain regions had to sound wooden clappers when they left their segregated communities so members of higher castes could avoid contact with them.
    • In parts of France and Spain, a group called Cagots faced centuries of intense prejudice for... some reason. Going by the historical record, Cagots didn't have any ethnic differences from their neighbours, and the only identifying feature of a Cagot was that their parents were known Cagots. To make matters worse, All of the Other Reindeer couldn't seem to pin down a consistent justification for hating these guys. Literal applications of this trope included claims that Cagots had leprosy, missing earlobes, one ear bigger than the other, or tails—though medical examinations disproved those by 1683. (As a side note, the myth about tails has also been applied to Jews, along with similar notions that Jews have cloven hooves and/or Horns of Villainy.) Another claim was that Cagots were heretics. Indeed, they could very well have descended from a religious minority like Muslims, Cathars, Arian Goths, pagans, or even early Christians that were hated by their pagan neighbours and remained hated even after the others converted to Christianity themselves. During the French Revolution, Cagots broke into government offices and burned all birth records, but public memory of Cagot lineages still persisted until the 20th century thanks to the public still knowing who was who via firsthand memory and oral tradition.


Video Example(s):


Ugly Bob

Terrance and Phillip insult Ugly Bob and give him a paper bag to wear over his head, even though he has the exact same face as them.

How well does it match the trope?

4.82 (22 votes)

Example of:

Main / InformedDeformity

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