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Obliviously Beautiful

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"You don't know... you don't know you're beautiful.
That's what makes you beautiful!"
One Direction, "What Makes You Beautiful"

A character who, for some odd reason, doesn't seem to realize how attractive they are. Despite all the attention their good looks bring them, they will either not notice it or interpret it as anything other than the fact that they're really good-looking.

While an Innocent Fanservice Girl can generate this effect due to a lack of a nudity taboo, these characters are often sufficiently attractive that they can cause traffic accidents even when fully clothed. While cunning characters will usually seek to take advantage of this phenomenon, and innocent or shy characters will be embarrassed by it, on occasion a character won't even understand what's going on. They may even lampshade it by wondering aloud why they are a Weirdness Magnet.

This obliviousness is usually the result of one of the following:

  • Background: the character is extremely naive or innocent.
  • Culture: the character is from a society that has different standards of beauty that they don't conform to. For example, an inexperienced shapeshifter who chose their form to blend in may wonder if people are becoming suspicious.
  • Lack of Intellect: in comedies, these characters are sometimes portrayed as simply being mindbogglingly unintelligent.
  • Personality: a dorky character, a Cute Clumsy Girl, a Broken Bird, etc., might incorrectly presume their awkwardness hides any beauty they might have. For a Cloudcuckoolander, their own attractiveness might be just one of many things they find confusing. Then there are those characters that are too humble to notice or remember how attractive they are to others.

Regardless, a character who fits this trope is portrayed as startlingly attractive in-universe, and yet they seem to be completely unaware that others find them so.

Super-Trope to I Am Not Pretty where an attractive character thinks they're ugly. Contrast Proud Beauty and Indifferent Beauty, both of whom are well aware of their beautiful appearances, but one will actively flaunt it while the other simply doesn't care. Inverse of Delusions of Beauty, which is basically about a character who is obliviously ugly.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Chihaya of Chihayafuru is described by her fellow students as "Beauty gone to waste" or "Beauty in vain" because of her tomboyish lack of interest in using her good looks for anything. In this case, it's because a) she's focused on competitive karuta, and b) she thinks of her Cool Big Sis as the pretty one.
  • In Episode seven of Dragonaut: The Resonance Machina and Akira are looking for the main characters in a spa resort. Machina doesn't realize that every male there has their eyes on her. Akira, who's less curvaceous and more body-conscious, does notice and sighs in disappointment about her figure.
  • Yura from Futari Ecchi attracts a lot of male attention but she's very shy and already married so she tends not to notice the attention she gets.
  • Komi Can't Communicate:
    • This trope is the root of why Komi has trouble communicating; nearly everyone who encounters her believes she's the most beautiful girl that they've ever seen... and as a result believe that they aren't worthy of interacting with her. As she's completely ignorant of how pretty she is, she assumes that everyone is avoiding her because there's something wrong with her. As a result she has very poor social skills and an extreme case of social anxiety.
    • Agari Himiko suffers from this too, owing to her being a Nervous Wreck with serious stage fright and image issues, despite being a very cute Meganekko with a shapely figure.
  • Maken-ki!: In the anime, Ms. Aki honestly has no idea why she gets so many visits to her office, despite it being obvious it's because of her K-Cup breasts and figure, along with the skintight miniskirt she wears. Which contradicts her manga portrayal, where she's perfectly aware of how the male students think of her and is shown to be self-conscious because of it.
  • Maoyu: The Demon Queen apparently believes she's "wasted away" due to dedicating decades of her life to economical science, and thinks she lacks on the physical appeal human men would seek in a woman. Even though the Hero quickly takes notice of how beautiful she is (especially her huge rack), and later attracts a few suitors when disguised as "the Crimson Scholar", which leaves her genuinely puzzled.
  • Ranma ½: The Battle for "Ms. Beachside" episode had Kasumi wondering why guys kept asking her out, even though she wasn't participating in the pageant. And was genuinely surprised to hear that she won, regardlessnote .
  • Scrapped Princess: Racquel is a bit of a ditz, so she fails to realize the effect she has on men, including when she was helping peddle Mr. Soupy buns, in the third episode. Even though her dress only showed a modest bit of leg and cleavage, it didn't stop onlookers from staring and being drawn to her like flies. Yet, it never occurred to her that it was her looks that was raking in the customers. Likewise, she never notices Mr. Berkens' crush on her and only sees of him as a fatherly figure, because of his striking resemblance to her dead father.
  • Kanade "Majime" Ninomae from Wasteful Days of High School Girls is so attractive to her classmates and so effortlessly cool that Lily is left befuddled at her innate ability.

    Comic Books 
  • One issue of Doctor Strange has the eponymous character's colleague Dane Whitman (a.k.a. Black Knight) attracting a large amount of attention while doing a morning run on a cruise ship. Dane's worried it's because people can see Strange's Astral Projection accompanying him, and Strange has to point out that no, he's quite invisible, and the real explanation is that Dane's an attractively built young man running around in a T-shirt and some very short gym shorts.
  • Melody from Josie And The Pussy Cats is very beautiful but not very smart. She often misinterprets the reason why men are interested in her.

    Fan Works 
  • The Black Sheep Dog Series has Orion Black. He's The Beautiful Elite like the rest of his family, but fails to notice how attractive he is to women, since he has a Single-Target Sexuality towards Walburga, who used to make a point about how much she's not attracted to him.
  • The Game of the Gods presents an exaggerated example with Deirdre, the bastard daughter of Lúthien and Mandos from The Silmarillion.
    She went walking through the camp like a fallen star, and all around her Elves and Men bowed and gave way. Some who had never yet stopped marveling at the risen star of Eärendil turned to her, looked on her beauty, and began to weep, casting themselves to their knees, marveling that Eru himself in female form had descended from the heavens.

    Deirdre did not notice the adulation; she was too modest for such things.
  • In The Parselmouth of Gryffindor, Hermione is (as in canon) somewhat plain-looking as a human, and makes no attempts to make herself look prettier. She is quite surprised (and embarrassed) to discover that her snake form is apparently extremely attractive.

    Films — Animation 
  • Belle from Beauty and the Beast is so preoccupied reading books she doesn't even realize she's considered the most beautiful girl in town. Although given the type of attention her beauty attracts, one can't blame her for trying to avoid romantic attention altogether.
  • Snow White in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs tried to fix her hair and clothes to clean herself up when meeting with the Prince for the first time despite already being the Fairest of Them All.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Liar Liar, Jim Carrey's character talks to a very attractive and large-breasted woman who mentions that everyone has been (seemingly inexplicably) nice to her. Due to his curse, he comments that he figures it is probably because of her large breasts. His attempts to backtrack under the curse actually make him say increasingly worse things until he gets an offscreen smack for making literal baby sucking faces at her cleavage.
  • Cady from Mean Girls ist not aware of the fact that she is a 'regulation hottie', as Janis bluntly calls her. Justified due to her upbringing - being homeschooled - and a very humble girl who does not put much effort into her styling.

  • Justified with Beauty in Beauty: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Growing up with two extraordinarily beautiful older sisters, she's always been considered plain (Beauty being an Ironic Nickname rather than her actual name), and at the time she leaves home she's still regarded as the least attractive of the three. The Beast's castle has no mirrors in which she can observe herself, so it comes as a shock when she finally sees her own reflection at the end of the book and discovers that not only has she become perfectly lovely, she bears a very strong resemblance to her late mother.
  • Jerin Whistler from A Brother's Price is this at the beginning of the novel. This is mostly due to his being extremely sheltered — his sisters would not approve of strange women telling him that he's pretty, and he doesn't see many men to whom he could compare himself. Only when his old teacher warns him to not walk around unveiled on the ship on which they are traveling, as some women could be tempted to abduct him, does he realize that he is not just average-looking.
  • Camp Half-Blood Series Percy Jackson, in his pov there is absolutely no comment on his looks but on other povs he is described as extremely attractive, one character even thinking that he was a god in disguise.
  • In Doctrine of Labyrinths, Mildmay thinks his facial scar renders him repulsive, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Most of the main female characters (and some of the guys) want to sleep with him, random side-characters ogle him, he's explicitly described as attractive or even "beautiful" by others, and he bears such an uncanny resemblance to his famously dazzling brother that people know they're related at first glance. And yet he's oblivious to flirtation, with Mehitabel, Corbie, and Felix literally throwing themselves at him before he twigs that they're interested. In fairness, he had an abusive guardian who repeatedly told him he was ugly (and sexually abused him) when he was younger, so it's clear where his issues come from.
  • Ayla, the main character of Jean M. Auel's Earth's Children series, is a stunning beauty who turns the head of every man and most women she crosses path with. Because she was raised among Neanderthals, who have very different standards of beauty, she does not consider herself to be attractive.
  • Harry Potter gets a surprise in the sixth book when he wonders why there are suddenly so many girls interested in him. Hermione bluntly tells him that it's because he's grown about a foot over the summer, becoming attractive in addition to his fame.
  • Honor Harrington spent many years stuck in an extremely awkward adolescence which came to define her self-image even though she's pretty much grown out of it by the time the books begin. She doesn't really begin to take note of her own personal beauty until the third book, which incidentally is after she's had half her face blown off and rebuilt.
  • Remedios the Beauty from One Hundred Years of Solitude is so beautiful that men get themselves killed over their lust for her. Due to her childlike mentality, she has no idea of the effect she has on men, and qualifies them as simple and dumb.
  • Another male example is found in Rhythm of War during Kaladin's time spent working as a surgeon. Kaladin wonders aloud why so many rich, young women keep coming to him for 'medical help', at which point his friend Adolin points out that given Kaladin's status, wealth, and magical powers, Kal is likely the most eligible bachelor in the kingdom.
  • Rare male example with Cayleb in Safehold. He's confident that he looks awful, despite Sharleyan's and Nahrmahn's claims to the contrary. The latter even gets Height Angst and Weight Woe when he meets Cayleb for the first time.
  • Tawneenote  is an exotic dancer for the Pink Pussycat in Thud! who believes she's so popular because she's a very good dancer while thinking she's actually quite unattractive since nobody will ask her out. When in truth the customers couldn't care less about her dancing and the reason they don't ask her out is that she's so over-the-top beautiful that no man with even half a brain would ever think they would ever have a chance with her so don't even try. It takes Cherry and Angua telling her this, then proving it to her by having her destroy a pub by showing interest in one of the patrons does she realize the truth.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the 30 Rock episode "The Bubble," Liz realizes that her boyfriend, Drew, is unknowingly benefiting from his good looks. He's a doctor who doesn't know the Heimlich maneuver, can't play tennis despite having worked as a tennis coach, can order ridiculous items like roast duck soaked in Fanta at restaurants, and gets other kinds of preferential treatment that he perceives as normal... at least until Liz decides to reveal to him what's really going on.
  • Angel: Male example with the Groosalugg, a human man raised in the demon society of Pylea, considers himself hideously ugly. This is because the same features that make him handsome and attractive by human standards are considered ugly by the demons' standards.
  • The Munsters: Marilyn Munster, as a consequence of believing her family's standards of beauty; although in Marilyn's case, she originally looked similar to the rest of the family and changed to her current appearance after Grandpa bit her.
  • Never Have I Ever: Kamala seems unaware of just how beautiful most men find her, even when they crash into things as a result of staring at her while biking or driving past.

  • Country singer Sammy Kershaw has a song called "She Don't Know She's Beautiful." The song's subject walks down the street and goes to a party and is baffled each time by the stares she attracts. Even in the morning when she wakes up and her hair is a mess, she still doesn't understand why the singer can't take his eyes off her.
  • The One Direction song "What Makes You Beautiful":
    You're turning heads when you walk through the door...
    Everyone else in the room can see it
    Everyone else but you...
    You don't know you're beautiful
    That's what makes you beautiful.
  • "You Can't Hide Beautiful" by Aaron Lines is similarly themed to Sammy Kershaw's song, where the female focus feels that she isn't beautiful even when she wears a fancy dress to a party. However, the narrator reassures her by telling her that no matter what she wears, "you can't hide beautiful".

  • Antigone from Wooden Overcoats is convinced she's ugly and people find her disgusting, but as she finds more self-confidence and starts to go out more, she attracts multiple admirers. A Season Four episode has her accidentally agreeing to pose nude and then debating whether or not to go through with it, terrified of being laughed at. One of her former admirers Marlene, her close friend Georgie, and the photographer Sin St. John all tell her she has nothing to worry about, as she's really very attractive. It's implied she's beautiful in an eerie, gothic romance heroine sort of way.

  • Miranda from The Tempest is so beautiful that one character mistakes her for a goddess. She's unaware of her beauty because she and her father have been exiled to a deserted island since she was three years old, so for as long as she can remember, her father has been the only other human she's known.

    Video Games 
  • In BlazBlue, because of her low self esteem and A-Cup Angst, Noel doesn't seem to realize how beautiful she is and acts either surprised or confused when her looks are complimented by other characters. But she is beautiful enough to have Litchi compliment her on her looks and even Kagura shows a noticeable amount of concern and attraction to her. Not to mention all her Ms. Fanservice official artwork.
  • Fir of Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade is shocked that Noah fell in love with her at first sight, and even The Stoic Shin defrosts enough to say that she has beautiful eyes. This isn't due to a lack of self-esteem but due to her focus on training in the sword so she can live up to her mother's legacy, making her rather single-minded.
  • Priestess Rao from Ōkami seems oblivious to her effect on men and is baffled by Issun's comments about "melons" and being "stacked to the ceiling". Ostensibly it's because she is a holy woman and too innocent to understand. In reality, it is because she is the demon Ninetails in disguise.
  • In Persona 4, Yukiko Amagi doesn't seem to realise how interested most of the male students are in her and tends to shoot them down without realising that she's been asked out (to the point that asking her out's known as "The Amagi Challenge"). Similarly, her best friend Chie has a few admirers but keeps assuming that they're interested in Yukiko.


    Western Animation 
  • Played with by Gadget from Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers. Gadget is undeniably attractive, yet most of the time doesn't seem to recognize the effect she has on Chip and Dale (and sometimes the occasional villain). She's rarely seen dressed in anything other than her coveralls, and much of the time her definition of "dressing up" is a flower in her hair. And then you have her infamous red dress, where she's able to jump right into the role of a seductive Femme Fatale.
  • Duckman: The episode "Psyche" plays with the concept by having the women involved aware that they're beautiful but apparently unaware of the consequences. It centers around Duckman being hired by a pair of cartoonishly sexy twins, who can't figure out why 'men are only interested in our bodies' and are trying to figure out why they can't attract nice guys who are interested in their personalities.
  • In the King of the Hill episode "The Good Buck," Luanne starts a Bible study class in her backyard swimming pool. She thinks that she's genuinely reaching out to her students, all of whom are male, when they really just want to see her in a bikini and enjoy the hugs she gives when you demonstrate "progress". Ironically, the only exception to this is Buck Strickland, who really is just there for Bible study.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Fluttershy. (Or, at least, to the extent that she knows this but she'd rather forget, because she REALLY doesn't like attention.) In one episode, a fashion photographer asks Fluttershy to model for her, and she detests the ensuing social pressure and lack of privacy.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated has an episode in which the gang meets a town full of ugly looking people. Any deformity is seen as normal and even beautiful, while beauty is viewed as the opposite. Daphne becomes infatuated with the resident known as "Ugly Jimmy," a handsome man who laments that he was born so "ugly." Daphne tries and fails to tell him of his beauty several times. Eventually, Jimmy takes a nasty tumble and ends up so disfigured that everyone in town starts calling him "Handsome Jimmy." He proudly asks Daphne what she thinks and she's at a loss when it comes to words, though she nearly vomits.
  • Played straight and later averted in the South Park episode "Bebe's Boobs Destroy Society". For most of the episode, Bebe can't seem to figure out why all the boys in her class suddenly find her cool and smart and want to hang out with her. When she finds out it's because of her large breasts, she tries to get them reduced so they'll take her more seriously.
  • Teen Titans (2003): Starfire's Day in the Limelight episode "Transformation" starts off with the narrator pointing out that she's "very beautiful, but thinks nothing of it". The entire time her transformation (Tamaranian puberty) occurs, she's less concerned with being pretty and more concerned with simply going back to normal. Eventually she does, with the bonus of having laser eyes now. In general, she doesn't seem to notice when people are physically attracted to her, and in fact responds violently whenever a villain tries to pull the I Have You Now, My Pretty routine on her.
  • Evangelyne from Wakfu is extremely modest about her attractiveness, to the point where it seems that she isn't even aware that at least three separate characters carry a torch for her. A good example is in the fourth episode where she attempts to disguise herself as an "ugly" cursed princess by... wearing a dress, which only has the effect of making her look gorgeous.

    Real Life 
  • In a documentary in which British celebrities were shown never-before-aired interviews of themselves from The '60s, Maureen Lipman is moved to tears by the sight of her younger self and admits: "I never knew I was pretty."
  • In a 20/20 interview after revealing she had MS, Annette Funicello said she wasn't the most talented or the most attractive and wondered how she was so popular and succeeded in show business.
  • While beautiful may be a stretch, it's sadly common in reality for kids to believe that they're ugly due to being told so by their peers, despite research indicating that a child who is told they're ugly by peers rarely if ever actually is unattractive. Kids can get merciless with teasing/bullying, after all.