Carson: I want you to rub something.
The time has come for The Makeover. The Protagonist must have a completely new look in order to move the plot forward. But we've established that they don't have the faintest clue how to solve their Hollywood homeliness. Only one character can help: the Makeover Fairy.
The Makeover Fairy is a Bit Character who appears precisely (and often unexpectedly) when the protagonist needs someone to improve their clothes, hair, makeup, diet, personal care regimen, and/or deportment, either by the protagonist themselves or someone who believes a makeover is in their best interests. Beyond the makeover itself, the Makeover Fairy has absolutely no bearing on the plot and typically disappears immediately after their services have been rendered, or are so thinly developed that they might as well disappear. In episodic entertainment, an established character may function as a Makeover Fairy on an as-needed basis.
The Makeover Fairy tends to have a campy personality and is used as Comic Relief. If the Makeover Fairy is female, she is usually a Genki Girl; a male will usually be Camp Gay. Some Makeover Fairies work in teams, which means they get little to no dialogue and often no names when the team has more than three people and no evident leader. The Makeover Fairy themselves is always impeccably turned out, unless the task of making over the protagonist was frazzling enough to put some of their hair out of place. They often dress entirely in black so as not to draw attention away from their client.
The entrance of the Makeover Fairy inevitably leads to a Makeover Montage and/or Costume-Test Montage, often accompanied by a Shopping Montage (usually for women) or a Training Montage (usually for men). Depending on the thoroughness of the makeover and how necessary they believe it to be, the protagonist may view the Fairy as a purveyor of Makeover Torment, however well-intentioned. On the other hand, if they wanted the makeover, they will be profuse in their gratitude to the Fairy—assuming the Fairy hasn't created a Cosmetic Catastrophe or Impossibly Tacky Clothes. A Makeover Fairy with a deft hand will reveal that the protagonist was Beautiful All Along and just needed a few minor tweaks, as revealed in a rollout of the protagonist's new look.
The Makeover Fairy is often found in a Pygmalion Plot when the Pygmalion wants their beloved to be fashionable but can't do the work of the makeover themselves. They're also common in Rags to Riches and Penny Among Diamonds stories, in which the protagonist requires the makeover in order to fit into their new world. In musicals, they often get a song of their own, especially a Patter Song.
Compare the Fairy Godmother, who appears to grant the protagonist's fondest wish, which may or may not entail a makeover.
- The manga Beauty Pop inverts this trope by turning Kiri into The Protagonist and most of her hairstyling clients into bit characters. Her rivals, the Scissor Project, are a team consisting of a hairstylist, a beautician, and a nail artist, who refuse to serve any clients who don't already meet their beauty standards.
- A literal example is the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella. She shows up precisely to transform Cinderella's rags into a ball gown and send her off to enjoy her night. She was going to show up in the climax to unlock Cinderella's door, so she could reveal herself to the Duke, but Walt Disney felt that was best given to the animal friends instead.
- In Mulan, six Makeover Fairies—a bathhouse worker, two hairstylists, two dressers, and a makeup artist—prepare Mulan for her introduction to the matchmaker while joining in "Honor to Us All."
- Mrs Jenkins in Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World is there as John Rolfe's housekeeper, but she gets a song about dressing Pocahontas in a gown suited for the English court. Complete with a montage of her trying out increasingly more ridiculous hairstyles.
- In Toy Story 2, Geri the toy restorer comes to Al's apartment to sew Woody's arm back on, as well as to polish and repaint him for display at the Konishi Toy Museum.
- The Trope Maker of the Makeover Fairy is Frenchy from Grease and Grease 2, whose primary role in both movies is to give makeovers to protagonists Sandy and Michael. She transforms Sandy into a leather-clad goddess who's a true match for Danny, and she transforms Michael into the Cool Rider of Stephanie's dreams.
- Marissa in Maid in Manhattan is made over for the party by an army of hotel employees we otherwise don't see because Marissa is a maid and therefore works in a different department.
- In Miss Congeniality, an entire team of stylists is required to dress and make up Grace for her assignment as a beauty pageant contestant.
- In Mrs. Doubtfire, Daniel recruits his brother, Frank, and his partner, Jack, to create the Mrs. Doubtfire disguise.
- In Pretty Woman, "Bridget from women's clothing" takes Vivian through her store to dress her according to Richard's specifications.
- In The Princess Diaries, stylist Paolo subverts the Makeover Fairy trope by revealing Mia's royal identity to the press, thus becoming an important plot catalyst. He gets downgraded to a Makeover Fairy in the sequel, when his only purpose is to prepare Mia for her wedding. His lovely assistants, Gretchen and Helga, are Makeover Fairies in both films.
- In She's All That, Zack's sister, Mac, primarily functions to make over Laney for Zack's plan to transform her into the prom queen. While she appears before and after the makeover, she has zero impact on the story other than the makeover.
- In Tall Girl, Jodi's sister, Harper, insists on making over Jodi in order to help her attract her crush.
- In Crazy Rich Asians, Peik Lin recruits atelier Patric to style Rachel for Colin and Araminta's wedding.
- In the movie, this task is given to a fleet of stylists hired by Nick's cousin Oliver.
- The sequel, China Rich Girlfriend, introduces professional Makeover Fairy Corinna Ko-Tung, who consults new-money Asians on how to dress, live, and behave according to the rules of the old-money set.
- In Fifty Shades Darker, a hairstylist named Franco makes a house call for Ana at Christian's penthouse.
- In The Hunger Games, each tribute has a stylist and a three-person prep team to outfit them for the opening parade and their televised interview with Caesar Flickerman. Cinna, who styles Katniss, subverts the trope by being more understated and politically motivated. Her prep team of Venia, Octavia, and Flavius play the trope straight by serving no other purpose in the first and second books; they get a little more Character Development in the third.
- Naomi Kritzer's short story, Field Biology of the Wee Fairies, takes place in an alternate version of the US where fairies exist, and it's a Rite of Passage for adolescent girls to catch a fairy, which will then grant a wish. Usually this wish is something like "good hair" or "clear skin", but the protagonist, Amelia, is an aspiring scientist who would rather learn about the fairies themselves. Actually subverted: Amelia's fairy explains that, having caught her fairy, most girls will tell their mother, who will take them to the hairdresser's and generally make a huge fuss, which encourages the girl to look at herself differently and pay more attention to grooming, because beauty is in fact a skill. The fairies allow themselves to be caught because human contact allows them to see the future, and the "wishes" are based on what they see.
- The Moving Finger: Having promised Megan a makeover, Jerry leaves the details to his sister's stylist "Mirotin".
- In Radio Free Roscoe, Lily recruits her friend Audrey to make over Ray to catch the eyes of Roscoe High's female population at large.
- The main premise of Queer Eye, in which a quintet of gay men used this trope to help others spruce up their look.
- POD of Snog, Marry, Avoid? is the opposite; she's a robot that wants to give the youth of the UK a make-under (going for a simpler look).
- In Evita, a group of stylists is on hand to assist Eva with "eyes, hair, mouth, figure, dress, voice, style, movement" and more during her Rainbow Tour in the number "Rainbow High."
- In Wicked Glinda tries to be a literal Makeover Fairy for Elphaba in the "Popular" number. Unfortunately, her magic wand doesn't work.
- In The Order of the Stick, Julio Scoundrél turns Elan from a useless Spoony Bard to a competent character. He teaches Elan how to use his Genre Savvy (and puns) both in combat and in general. After a Training Montage, Julio transports Elan to where he is needed to save the day, then leaves, hanging a lampshade on Mentor Occupational Hazard, saying that he hopes they'll never meet again. However, a few books later, Julio returns for a short time, as part of an Unspoken Plan Guarantee, as The Cavalry.
- All Grown Up! has a Chuckie centered episode where he tries to pretend to be someone else to get a girl to notice him. Kimi and Lil's only function in this episode is to make him over into a Latvian exchange student called Chongo.