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Progressively Prettier

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From Frankensteinian to sunburnt.

The slow accretion of attractive changes to characters who are actually supposed to be fairly odd-looking, if not outright ugly. It doesn't just mean a costume change at some point in the story; here, the physical appearance inexplicably changes.

This shouldn't be confused with a design that happens to be very attractive to fandoms with certain kinks; that is more or less out of the original designer's hands. Nor when it's just the artstyle itself is becoming refined, though it can overlap. This trope refers to the slow changes to make the character more marketable that happen over the course of a series or multiple adaptations, even if it feels detrimental to the character with their initial unusual design becoming more generic and less interesting-looking.

This is very common with female characters, even ones designed to deliberately avoid this trope, once they get out of the hands of their creators.

Even mythological creatures may be prettied up, as tends to happen with the Gorgeous Gorgon.

In the case of males, this is particularly common in villains and anti-heroes when they undergo a Heel–Face Turn or when they Took a Level in Kindness, because Beauty Equals Goodness. May also be the case with female villains when they become more heroic, but those are more often already attractive.

A related trope is Self-Fanservice (where it's the fans doing this to the canon art). In cases where this comes to the detriment of the integrity of the character, one of the intermediate depictions may be considered a Franchise Original Sin in hindsight. Compare Fanservice Pack, Adaptational Attractiveness, Anthropomorphic Shift, Unnecessary Makeover, Art Evolution, Girliness Upgrade, Bishōnen Line, and With Great Power Comes Great Hotness.

Contrast You Don't Look Like You.


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  • The mascot from the adverts has had her bust size increased and animated, and her waist made smaller. This is what she looked like originally. Then she looked like this. The June 2012 drivers advert shows her with normal legs instead of the black sticks she originally had.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Kitano from Angel Densetsu started out undeniably terrifying. Art Evolution happened, and he graduated to Ugly Cute.
  • Area 88: Compare the way Mickey looks in the first issue of the manga to the way he looks a few issues later. He looks much more youthful in later issues.
  • Early chapters of Ayakashi Triangle would often emphasize Soga's Face of a Thug by drawing him as almost-cartoonishly ghoulish and his (rarely-exposed) body quite skinny. Gradually, the deliberately unflattering closeups were phased out, Soga's often drawn as handsome when his face is shown clearly, his musculature has become much more visibly developed, his wardrobe switched to short-sleeve shirts, and he is occasionally shown shirtless.
  • Inverted in Bakuman。. Nakai has always been overweight and noticeably older than the other mangaka, but he looked relatively normal in his initial appearance and has since gotten steadily fatter and less attractive. This went into overdrive after he Took a Level in Jerkass and later came back from his time at his mother's house, although this can be justified in that he has not been taking very good care of himself since he became a jerk.
  • In Berserk while Guts, Casca and Griffith were never ugly, back when Kentaro Miura first started drawing them in 1988 they had much more simplistic faces and Casca was (intentionally) barely feminine. As the artstyle improved and improved, the main trio and the rest of the cast became absolutely gorgeous with more detailed faces and designs. Compare Casca's Golden Age arc design from then to now.
  • Young Black Jack: The title character has been updated from his Tezuka look to be more Bishōnen for an inversion. There's justification in that this is a prequel but because the first thing the anime shows is his scarred muscular body and not his surgical skills, it becomes obvious he's sculpted only for the sake of Fanservice.
  • Albert Heinrich/004 in Cyborg009 started out much stranger-looking than simply having Monochromatic Eyes and a Glasgow Grin-level mouth; his early appearances had him sporting an unflattering bowl-cut hairstyle that gave his head a very mushroom-like cast, his nose was elongated and pointy (but still only second to 002's Gag Nose), and his facial structure amounted to mostly being a long narrow jawline. Ishinomori gradually drew him more normalized over the course of the manga with the ensuing Art Evolution, to the point where he looked rather handsome in the final chapters of the manga.
  • Miranda from D.Gray-Man has an in-universe reason for this, since she originally looked like a ragged old woman, with heavy bags under eyes and a giant mess. At the time she was trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop, not to mention that she was dealing with some serious self-worth issues, and after the arc is over and Allen and Lenalee help her out with both, it shows that Miranda really doesn't look all that bad after all. Once she was upgraded to a recurring character, she was redesigned to look more gothic than old. In one one-off drawing, she's even part of fanservice. Word of God states that she can eat and sleep properly now and allow her prettiness to show.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, the author starts to draw Kanao more mature looking much later in the series, with her possibly going through a another puberty spurt despite these changes happening in less than a year in-story, Kanao becomes more feminine and with more notable body curves, matching her adopted sister Shinobu in this regard.
  • Joe Kidou from Digimon Adventure started out looking like your stereotypical skinny, pasty nerd, with a distinctly egg shaped head. In 02, he grows out his hair a bit but still looks rather scrawny and has a nonstandard face. Come Digimon Adventure tri. and he looks like your bog standard glasses wearing bishounen with the same facial proportions as everyone else.
  • Dorohedoro: Kaiman, a man with a lizard head, starts out the series with his head looking very reptilian and unfriendly, which belied his true nature as a rather pleasant guy (at least if you aren't a magic user trying to kill him). However, as the series went on, his face became rounder and, well, cuter. Compare this with this.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Vegeta in was originally shorter and thinner, and his face was considerably "pointier" than his current look. This was even more noticeable during the anime's original broadcast in the US, wherein halfway through the Namek arc, FUNimation took over the dub, resulting in every character having a new voice, Vegeta included.
    • Goku of course has gotten this across the series, even when he hit his growth spurt at 18, he was still pretty lean and round-faced. By the time of Z, Goku became so iconically muscular he has Real Life gym routine named after him and his face is more angular.
    • Bulma was already a hottie but the Art Evolution across the franchise has made her curvaceously beautiful and less skinny than she was at the start of the original manga. Dragon Ball Super even continues drawing her as attractive even though she's well into her 40s, though Dragon Ball Super: Broly hints that she's been using the Dragon Balls to make herself a few years younger and Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero outright confirms it showing Bulma using the Dragon Balls to make herself younger and sexier — much to the utter exasperated disgust of Piccolo (even though his dad did the same thing).
    • Speaking of Broly, he's gone through this since his new movie. When he first appeared he was lean and emaciated-looking with a dower expression (possibly as result of the Mind-Control Device, his dad put on him). In Dragon Ball Super Broly he's tan, muscular and rugged in his base form. Given his less traumatic origins and Adaptational Heroism, its appropriate.
    • Sadly inverted for Ch-Chi, she was a real beauty at end of the original Dragon Ball but across the years she's been given a more frumpy appearance and outfits, particularly in Dragon Ball Super. Although as shown in Buu saga Filler Chi-Chi can look stunning again when she decides to doll up for parties.
    • Similar to Vegeta, Yamcha, Krillin, Tien and Piccolo had more sinister expressions when they first appeared, but when they heel-face turned became better looking. Yamcha had a Clint Squint, Krillin had gigantic eyebrows and Tien had a smug smirk. In Piccolo's case he was already more handsome than his goblin-looking father and Kami, but by the time of the Android Saga is a green skinned space stud, which was implied to be a result of assimilating Kami into his being.
  • Vincent from Ergo Proxy undergoes this as he begins to awaken to his true nature as the titular superbeing, starting off looking rather soft and harmless-looking and eventually turning more and more Bishōnen.
  • Juvia of Fairy Tail was not really ugly at her introduction, but she may have been the closest thing the series had to an average-looking girl, or she could even be considered Flawed Average on the Sliding Scale of Beauty because of her narrow eyes with small pupils and big visible lips. She always had a gloomy expression due to having a Power Incontinence that prevented her from talking to other people. When she lost this "incontinence", she actually started smiling and soon after did a Heel–Face Turn. Due to Art Evolution, her narrow eyes widened and became prettier, and the writer seems to have forgotten that her lips used be that visible. Nowadays, she is definitely one of the best-looking Fairy Tail girls and still relatively unique-looking considering the series' Only One Female Mold.
  • Neko Musume from GeGeGe no Kitarō was really cutened up over the years. An article was written about it.
  • The entire cast of Genshiken has had this happen to them, Madarame in particular has benefitted.
  • A mild example in Hajime no Ippo. At the beginning Tomiko is made deliberately ugly to underline Aoki's odd taste in women. But as the series goes on, she actually cleans up a bit. Her face is still not exactly attractive, but tends to be drawn with softer, cuter expressions now, and it is revealed that she has a great body.
  • Hinagiku's mom in Hayate the Combat Butler is a premier example above and beyond the series' Art Evolution. Her first appearance had her looking very definitely middle-aged easily, with some obvious wrinkles and a plain, realistic hair style. She came home the next day looking ten years younger. This is partly justified as she was introduced when Hinagiku brought Hayate home and he needed a place to stay for a couple days, took an instant liking to him, and apparently went to the salon the next day. It's almost become a Running Gag since then that she looks younger and prettier with each appearance, and by now she sports a cute hair style, a perky and energetic expression, and not a wrinkle in sight - she could easily be mistaken as Hinagiku's older sister these days, although she acts more like a younger sister most times...
  • Senritsu/Melody in Hunter × Hunter started off grotesquely deformed but eventually became Ugly Cute (with a drastically different design). Reasons for this is unknown, but the change in appearance seems to coincide with her proving herself an ally to the main characters.
  • Funny Valentine, the Big Bad of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Steel Ball Run, is initially introduced as a short, portly man resembling the stereotypical caricature of an 18th-19th century aristocrat, but midway through the part, he suddenly turns ripped and muscular. When asked about this change, Hirohiko Araki simply joked that Valentine "worked out". That said, the change also happens shortly after Valentine obtains the Rib Cage of the Saint's Corpse, so it could be a case of With Great Power Comes Great Hotness.
  • Naruto:
    • Before Gaara was rather mean and scary-looking because, well...he was mean and scary. After his Heel–Face Turn, he's been redesigned to look still gothic but much gentler (again, because he generally is).
    • Whether it was Art Evolution or an intentional choice to show him aging, Naruto in the earliest chapters is a scrawny looking kid whose collar is too large. Eventually he fills out and starts looking quite cute. By the time of Shippuden he's grown into his looks.
  • Nightwalker contains a strange case of this trope driven by a change in character designer midway through the show. Most characters differ only in the details, but one vampire antagonist got a dramatic pretty boy upgrade, trading in a weathered face, beady eyes and long brown hair for a youthful face, gold eyes and wavy blond tresses.
  • One Piece:
    • Princess Vivi goes from looking like an attractive yet severe woman to a down right beautiful young woman.
    • This trope hit most of the young female characters (above a certain age, of course) like a truck, and some of the older ones, at around the time author Eiichiro Oda got married. Even Hollywood Homely characters like Tashigi and Kaya now have said Impossible Hourglass Figures. Oda freely admits he deliberately invoked this trope in a case of Author Appeal.
    • One of the non-female examples, Tony Tony Chopper turned from this to this. May be more justified than Nami or Vivi, as Chopper actually can shapeshift as part of his power set.
    • The other guys have gotten this too, Luffy, Zoro and Sanji in particular went from lean and decent looking to super handsome, thick-necked, muscular hunks all thanks to the Hotter and Sexier artstyle effecting them as much as the female characters. Similarly Shanks started off as round-faced (similar to Luffy) but by Marineford has angular features and more serious eyes.
  • In Pokémon: The Series, the characters in the Original Series were subject to this when flashbacks to their saga were reanimated to match the newer art-style in Best Wishes for the episodes "The Fires of a Red-Hot Reunion" and "Ash and Butterfree: Until We Meet Again".
  • In Ranking of Kings, the series' protagonist, Prince Bojji, in the manga's humble and quite crude beginnings looked like a little acorn boy, a somewhat odd fellow; however, as Sousuke's artstyle start to improve Bojji's appearance steers towards the cute little guy side, which is what the anime adaptation is adjusted to from the start.
  • Inverted in Raw Hero with Hoshi Ryuu, who is made to look aloof and ruggedly handsome during his introduction to establish him as an intimidating person for the protagonist Chiaki to work alongside. Just one chapter later we see him make a complete fool of himself after Chiaki inadvertently steals his Sacred First Kiss and he falls head over heels in love with "her", firmly establishing him as comic relief. Later chapters begin emphasizing his weak chin and deceptively chubby physique, which has the additional effect of causing his scruffy hair and Perma-Stubble to look unwashed and poorly groomed as opposed to edgy and cool. Couple that with his pathetic crush on Chiaki becoming the center of his character, and the gruff Aloof Ally is suddenly a Gonkish caricature of a Basement-Dweller.
  • Takatsuki from Wandering Son received this going from the manga to the anime. His goofy facial expressions from the manga were changed to better looking ones in the anime adaptation. In the manga itself, due to Art Evolution certain characters such as Doi, Seya, and Mako became cuter and more attractive over time; though it's justified since they're getting older.
  • Several major characters in the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga have gotten this treatment due to Art Evolution, but some underwent more noteworthy changes than others. Honda/Tristan in particular looked like an extra out of a horror movie at first, Sugoroku/Solomon was more Gonkish and played up as a Dirty Old Man, and Kaiba looked more like a creepy Basement-Dweller than the president of a corporation. Anzu/Téa is an inversion, having started with a fuller figure and being the butt of many sexual jokes early on, but both of these became downplayed as the series went on.
  • A majority of the characters from YuYu Hakusho, mostly the ones who aren't meant to look too attractive in the first place. The attractive ones are all consistently drawn. Kuwabara in particular looked hideous in his early appearances, but during the Art Shift his facial features became less detailed, which made him look gentler. Elder Toguro zig-zags the trope; he started out looking ghoulish, looked pretty when he got the spotlight, then his looks toned down to somewhere in-between as his craziness became more pronounced.

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    Comic Books 


  • Black Adam started out as a villain with a hooked nose, pointed chin and slightly Sinestro-esque facial features. As his character has matured into an anti-heroic/anti-villainous Knight Templar type, he retained a hooked nose and arched eyebrows, although they became less prominent, but his jaw got stronger and larger, and his features more handsome, and while his features still look appropriately cruel and proud, he is now generally accepted as being good looking, to the point of Dwayne Johnson being cast to play him in the film adaptation. Incidentally, the change in features made Adam look a lot like Marvel's Namor the Sub-Mariner. Their personalities are very similar to boot; it's a wonder Marvel didn't react to the new and improved Black Adam with a lawsuit.
  • Duela Dent, aka "Joker's Daughter" (among her other aliases) stated out with a huge pointed chin and exaggerated, clown-like features when in costume, along with having a wild purple bouffant wig. When she was brought back by Devin Grayson and Phil Jimenez in JLA/Titans, she only wore white face paint and looked much less exaggerated. Before her death in Countdown, she was also depicted as being attractive in costume, along with her hair now being red.
    • When depicted out of costume initially, she just looked like an average teenage girl with short hair. However, this trope got inverted for a while when George Perez drew her as a plain, heavyset woman in her New Teen Titans cameo, with bad makeup and gaudy violet hair. A Team Titans cameo then showed her as a gaunt and haggard-looking mental patient, before Jimenez and other later artists would draw her to be an attractive young woman with a bob cut.
  • Mad Harriet went from an ugly green-haired woman with a creepy Slasher Smile to rival the Joker to a much more conventionally-attractive woman who just happens to be completely off her rocker. Compare picture one to her DCAU appearance.
  • The female Dove in Hawk and Dove has been made of this since her introduction. In her opening miniseries, Rob Liefeld infamously couldn't decide on her cup size, or even whether her costume had cleavage, but by the time of her ongoing she subverted Most Common Superpower by having merely human-sized (large b-cup, with natural tear-drop shape!) breasts, something she was self-conscious about. Virtually every artist since has drawn her with larger breasts, however. Her human form's hair color has changed in Birds of Prey to match her costumed look, though this is more forgivable given that her team has two leggy blondes already.
  • Lex Luthor started out as a pudgy, middle-aged man usually dressed in plain grey clothes, but slimmed down dramatically around the time he started wearing his purple and green ensemble. After the mid-80's reboot, Lex was once again portrayed as middle-aged and heavyset man, although one always wearing expensive suits, but he once again became slimmer and younger-looking with time. Some more modern versions of Lex have a body rivaling the likes of Batman, because of Lex's pathological need to be the best at everything.
  • Jonah Hex in his first few Weird Western stories was a crouching, bulky gnomeish growler whose face wounds had tatters in places. A year later he's upright, statuesque and while the face is still disfigured the wounds are smaller and his filmy eye has gotten clearer. From Two-Face in a cowboy hat to Hollywood perfection with the mouth string thing.
  • Sensor of the postboot Legion of Super-Heroes was a giant alien snake with the ability to create illusions, allowing her to appear as a beautiful woman. But that wasn't enough, apparently, as she was later "hyper-evolved" into a more human appearance. Incidentally, since she was (apparently) originally fairly attractive by snake alien standards, she considered her semi-humanoid form hideous.
  • Sinestro, from Green Lantern mythos, used to be drawn as a skinny guy with a huge head. As he's become more prominent, he's bulkier now, and his head is average sized. His relatively recent shift to Anti-Hero has only magnified this.
  • From Suicide Squad, Amanda Waller, pre-Flashpoint: fat and hefty. Amanda Waller, post-Flashpoint: not so much. (Also possibly subjected to But Not Too Black, though even her chunky middle-aged self's facial features varied with the artist.) After much fan grousing, DC Rebirth made her fat again.
  • Golden Age Superman debuted with a very nondescript appearance, which made sense considering his disguise was just a pair of glasses. By the Silver Age he'd become the flawless heartthrob audiences are familiar with and the explanations for why nobody recognizes him became increasingly elaborate.
  • Teen Titans:
    • Inverted with Raven in the New Teen Titans run, where she started out looking like a typical superheroine, and gradually her face got paler and sharper to the point where she didn't even look human, much less attractive (from the neck-up, anyway). To hear Marv Wolfman and George Perez tell it, this was purely due to Perez's evolving skill and subconscious awareness of her true nature, and they almost didn't notice themselves until they were ready to bring in Trigon, whereupon it became a plot point. Played straight after Perez left the title and Eduardo Barretto took over drawing Raven, although later artists would bring back her narrow features. After she was resurrected in the 00s era, Raven reverted to being more conventionally attractive and rounder-faced, and one moment even involved her getting a raven-shaped tramp stamp (which disappeared with later artists' depictions). To some of her fans' chagrin, she was also depicted with larger breasts in an attempt to make her look sexier, while George Perez had made it a point that Raven was supposed to be smaller-chested as part of her dancer build.
    • The first Terra was depicted as having exaggerated buck teeth, being more on the petite side, and having short feathered hair. Later flashbacks and her Blackest Night appearance tweaked her to have long hair, a taller and more shapely body, and no buck teeth to be seen.
  • Wonder Woman: Etta Candy started out as visibly overweight, incredibly short (though her early appearances had her taller), and was drawn in a cartoonishly stylized manner. After she was re-introduced in the '70s, she was drawn to be of average height and she ranged from still being kind of chubby to more Hollywood Pudgy. George Perez's take on Etta started out as overweight and plain (which made her jealous of Diana), though she gradually lost weight over his run and in Bill Messner-Loeb's stories, which led to a storyline about her being anorexic. She then regained weight and was depicted as either somewhat thicker than Diana, or as heavyset as she was before. After she was brought into Gail Simone's run, Etta was revamped as a curvy blonde woman who sometimes appeared to be on the BBW side (her more athletic look was eventually implied to be from the training she got as a secret agent). Now in the New 52 continuity, Etta has been reimagined as an attractive black woman who doesn't appear very chubby at all. Like Amanda Waller, DC Rebirth made Etta fat again, though Greg Rucka and the artists split the difference by keeping the Race Lift.
  • The second Wonder Girl Cassie Sandsmark started out as a geeky non-feminine girl who could easily be mistaken for a boy with close cropped hair and baggy clothes and was even described by DC representatives as "horse-faced". By the time she was on the Teen Titans her appearance was that of a generic pouty lipped blonde prom queen who wore Painted-On Pants and a cleavage showing tank top.

Marvel Universe

  • Fantastic Four: The Thing. His irregular, monstrous appearance in FF #1 gradually normalized; by the second year, Ben looked like he does now. John Byrne felt that this took away from the tragedy of the character, and he had Ben regress to his original look, apparently intending it to be permanent. (Byrne's views were backed up by a fan letter complaining that the Thing was ugly now, when he used to be so handsome.) Byrne ultimately restored the Thing to his iconic appearance, but would not by a long shot be the last writer to "uglify" Ben.
    • The same could be said for Ben's human form. In FF #1, Ben is a normal man who looked ugly since he was a more antagonistic character toward the other three members of the FF. Later, in stories where the Thing (now a more lovable character) temporarily reverts back to his old self, Ben Grimm looks ruggedly handsome.
    • The evolution of the Thing's monstrous appearance was commented on in Marvel Two-in-One #50, in which Ben travels to the past to cure himself (not realizing that he'll only create an alternate universe upon doing so). Upon seeing his early monster form in person, he thinks to himself, "Holy... was I really that ugly? No wonder I always wanted to throttle Reed!" At the end of the story, he returns to the present and tells Reed that his time-travelling trip wasn't for naught. "After seein' my old self face-to-face like that, I don't feel so bad about the kisser I got now. Heck, compared to him, I'm a reg'lar Robert Redford!"
    • It should be noted that Reed Richards and Johnny Storm also had this, though to a far lesser extent than the Thing. In the first couple of issues, when the comic was still more 1950s sci-fi than 1960s superheroes, the male members of the FF were not that attractive. Reed was gaunt and looked even older than usual, while Johnny was a short, round-faced kid. After they got their superhero costumes in issue #3, both of them gradually gained more "heroic" (i.e. conventionally good-looking) builds and faces.
  • Deadpool: Deadpool's appearance was horrific when it was first seen, due to the artificial origin of his healing factor reacting with incurable cancer. Over time, it changed and simplified from "bubbles and nodules of flesh with random hair" to "flesh-coloured de-uglified Ben Grimm", and some artists go even further. In Cable & Deadpool, about 75% of his skin actually looked perfectly normal, with the rest just resembling bad acne. Didn't stop people from nearly retching when they saw him on the street. This is another that goes back and forth depending on who's drawing him, since sometimes he looks alright, others he's back to his horrific look. Since his power has been described as leaving his body tissue in constant, dynamic flux, this makes sense.
  • Iron Man:
    • Happy Hogan was kind of like Mickey Rourke in reverse. He started out as an ugly-as-sin boxer (his Ironic Nickname stemming from the fact that he always seemed to be frowning), but as The '60s went on, he was drawn to appear more attractive so that he actually had a prayer with Pepper Potts.
    • Pepper Potts was originally a pug-nosed, freckle-faced Girl Next Door to play up her envy of the beauty queens Tony Stark dated instead of her; she swiftly got a makeover meant to show that she was Beautiful All Along, but it somehow changed her facial features drastically.
  • While Loki has always maintained a certain "je ne sais quoi," there is no arguing that, as Kid Loki, his design grew from "eyebrowless goblin child" to "handsome young lad." Having now been granted an older body through Wiccan's magic, he now has the appearance of a young adult in their late teens/early twenties. The reaction from the various online fans seems to be something along the lines of "Oh no he's hot."
  • Spider-Man:
    • Peter Parker is a classic example. Drawn by Steve Ditko, Peter was a skinny, thin-faced geek and Spider-Man was thin and more spider-esque. When John Romita Sr - a former romance comic artist - took over the pencilling duties, Peter Parker became significantly more handsome and Spider-Man took on a more muscle-bound appearance. May be Handwaved in that when Ditko was drawing it, Spidey was a teenager, and as he got older and got real exercise to go with his superstrength, his frame may well have filled out naturally.
      • The artists' notes in the first volume of Ultimate Spider-Man bear this out: in that series he's a high-schooler again, and he's drawn explicitly scrawnier and ganglier than the main universe version, with a note that he is supposed to be very thin, not having built up muscle from years of webslinging.
      • Peter does look less spindly and more conventionally attractive even towards the end of Ditko's run. That change began with Amazing Spider-Man #8 when Flash Thompson broke his glasses, and Peter decides he doesn't need to do that much Clark Kenting, considering the spider bite corrected his vision.
      • This is acknowledged in "Along Came a Child" from Marvel Comics Presents #120, which features a teenager who turns out to be the boy who witnessed Peter climbing up a building in Amazing Fantasy #15. Having figured out that Spider-Man is the same odd boy he saw years ago, he strikes a deal with J. Jonah Jameson, and the Daily Bugle publishes a police-sketch that accurately depicts Peter as he appeared in AF #15. Of course, Peter no longer looks like that.
    • Also, surprisingly enough, Gwen Stacy. In her early appearances, as drawn by Steve Ditko, she had highly, angular eyebrows, pinned up hair, a constant haughty expression, and fairly modest clothing; her features were sharp and angular and although she could occasionally pull off a nice pout, the fact that lots of characters called her pretty was the only hint to the fact that she actually was so. But when John Romita took over the drawing, Gwen was softened, her features became more angelic, she let her hair down, gaining her iconic bangs and headband, and she dressed in much sexier clothes.
    • When he was first introduced, Eddie Brock was a very poorly kempt middle-aged man, and although he was very muscular, he had an oversized, grotesque frame. All of this was meant to signify that he was in a poor place mentally and that he was clearly villainous. As he became more heroic, he got more of a standard Heroic Build and looked about a decade younger, to the point where nowadays he's a bona fide Chick Magnet.
    • It even happened to Aunt May for a few issues when Romita took over! Luckily, the fans complained she looked too young and she was soon back to her old appearance.
  • Squirrel Girl was a veritable Gonk in her debut. She's gotten much cuter since. Almost zig-zagged in her case, as she went from a near-pinup in looks (as in this page from New Avengers) to "funny-looking but still cute" in her current title The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.
  • Songbird from the Thunderbolts is both this trope and its inverse. When she was first the villain Screaming Mimi, she was drawn anywhere from being a KISS reject to a new wave albino. Once she ditched the heavy makeup and dyed her hair mostly red, her natural good looks started shining through. This hit its peak with the Warren Ellis run, where the art direction simultaneously softened her features and refined her chin and cheekbones. The artist also gave her bright blue eyes. However after she was made a warden at the Raft, she got a butch hair cut and a somewhat more square jawline.
  • X-Men:
    • Marrow started as a creepy-looking girl who had craggy bones growing out all over her body and skin like a Shar Pei, but after her Heel–Face Turn, slowly became just an attractive girl with some cosmetic-looking bone attachments. An accident which involved an exploding card, a trip through the astral plane and an alien healing device made her pretty. Then Weapon X performed an experimental procedure on her to give her greater control over her powers that also happened to make her "beautiful" (their words). After she fell off the map completely, she somehow defaulted to somewhere between her "just about to join the X-Men" look and her "alien healing device" look.
    • From the same team, Nightcrawler's original source of angst was being fairly demonic looking in a superstitious Ruritanian hometown. When he first appeared in X-Men he was short and more "cute" than anything. When he was moved to Excalibur, Alan Davis purposefully drew him standing at six feet tall and modeled his facial features and personality after Errol Flynn. Sure, he was still a blue elf but he was noticeably more charming than his earlier Dave Cockrum incarnation. Other artists have followed suit for the most part.
      • Even under Cockrum's art run, Kurt was often written as some flavor of endearingly dorky and at times even a Chick Magnet, so his charm wasn't a completely out of the (ahem) blue development.
      • He even had his own in-universe stuffed doll of himself, the BAMF doll. In the X-Mail letter column, they printed a few letters from people who desperately wanted one!
    • Callisto was the leader of the Morlocks, a group of mutants with extreme physical mutations. Callisto never looked nearly as inhuman as the others as was best describable as 'butch' and was implied to be living with them less due to her appearance and more due to bad experiences with people. Due to the actions of fellow Morlock Masque, she is transformed into a pretty woman ... and many years later she's altered to have tentacles of varying length and thickness in the place of arms. She at once becomes prettier and more Morlockishly inhuman.
    • Skin from Generation X. He was explicitly shown and stated to be ugly in his first appearances, but by the end of the series, he was looking positively suave. This has an in-universe explanation, since before the series started he was shown to be able to influence his appearance by concentrating, but doing it too much would give him migraines. Later in the series it is pointed out that his appearance has been improving because he has been learning to control his powers. He can never do anything about the unnatural gray color of his skin, but by issue 50 or even earlier it is no longer hanging off him freakishly while he is conscious.
    • Rogue's appearance during her villain years could be charitably described as looking like the alpha in a women's prison. But after her Heel–Face Turn, she seemed to get progressively more attractive as her popularity increased, until she became the sultry Southern Belle she's known as today (right around the time Jim Lee took over art chores, not-so-coincidentally). This one is at least given an in-story explanation. After the X-Men's rough battle with Nimrod that led to Nightcrawler and Rachel Summers going MIA, Rogue spent all night looking for them, but noticed that she looked like hell when passing a reflective window. Once the stores opened in the morning, she went to the mall for a makeover and liked how she looked. While her new clothes sadly didn't last, she most likely got in the habit of caring more about her appearance from then on.
    • When Gambit was first introduced, his appearance was rather sleazy and not all that attractive. Once Marvel decided that they'd keep him on as a good guy instead of having him turn out to be a villain, however, he was quickly turned into a suave ladies' man.
    • When Wolverine was first introduced to the X-Men, he was about 5'4", quite unattractive, and apparently didn't like to bathe. As his popularity grew, he became less unattractive. Then the Tall, Dark, and Handsome Hugh Jackman portrayed Wolverine in the X-Men Film Series, and people seemed to forget that one of Wolverine's old nicknames was "dog face."
    • Dead Girl from X-Force looked quite wizened and mummified when first introduced, but rapidly turned normal and hot except for her grey skin and deep-set eyes, even becoming an In-Universe sex symbol.
    • In her first appearance, Tabitha Smith (a.k.a. Boom-Boom, a.k.a. Meltdown) was deliberately drawn to have a very plain face, and this was a plot point. This is modern Tabitha.
    • In the original New Mutants run Wolfsbane had short, fuzzy, unflattering red hair (implied to be unable to grow very long at all...when she's in her human form) and a flat chest and at times would express her unhappiness at not being as beautiful as her teammate Dani Moonstar. She was (early on) depicted with a snub, almost doglike nose, sharp fangs, narrow eyes; an animalistic cast to her shape that was lost even by the end of the first issue of the regular comic. Nowadays she varies in height, often has long flowing hair and, depending on the artist, is much bustier — when she first turns up in New Mutants Vol. 2 she's an outright bombshell — though her run in X-Factor has put her back to her original appearance. Her teammate Karma, a Vietnamese girl, was also depicted in an unflattering way compared to her more modern depictions, with a pug nose, downturned mouth and unflattering hairstyle. At least part of why Rahne looked as she did was her own powers interacting with with her severe problems concerning body image (she wants to be pretty, doesn't think she can be, thinks she shouldn't care because vanity's a sin and thus feel guilty for it, then feels guilty for that... thanks a lot, Rev. Craig.)
      • Mind you, her appearance in X-Factor deviates from the standard attractive female look but is in no way ugly, she has some Annie Lennox kinda androgynous charm to it.
      • When originally created, artist Bob McLeod intended Rahne to be fuller figured at 14 (issue 2), and Dani to be flat at 15. They are, too; for the first run. Rahne mostly envies Dani her long hair. '-it only grows when it's cut, and only t'this length...'
    • For the aforementioned Karma, compare her original depiction with her modern appearance.
    • Heather Hudson from Alpha Flight was introduced as a plain-faced woman with harsh, square features. After her husband's apparent death, Heather took on his role as Alpha's leader under the name Vindicator. While her body becoming more attractive as a result could be justified (she was wearing a form-fitting costume that gave her superpowers, so obviously she'd get into good shape as a result), her facial features inexplicably became much more soft and feminine until she was basically Jean Grey with glasses.
  • Luke Cage: Mariah Dillard started out as an extremely overweight woman with a jowly, heavily lined face and a habitually scowling expression. More recently, she has been redesigned as a Big Beautiful Woman with a curvier figure, a smoother face, and more flattering clothes.
  • Son Of Satan: Inverted with Daimon Hellstrom. He was originally a handsome redhead with a Heroic Build. These days he ditched his hellfire trident and took up black magic more seriously, and his looks have taken a nosedive. He lost all his hair and he's gotten a lot skinnier; in his appearances in Avengers Undercover and Strike Force, he looks like Anton Levay with pointy ears.


  • As much as we love Jack Kirby ... and we do ... any character that he intended to be less good-looking than a movie star is likely to be much more attractive when drawn by someone else, because Kirby's concept of "mildly unattractive" was apparently somewhat akin to most people's notion of Nightmare Fuel. One example: Dan Turpin as drawn by Kirby, Dan Turpin as drawn by Kieron Dwyer, Dan Turpin from the DCAU.
  • Archie Comics:
    • The series enters into this with the former chubby, matronly moms of Archie & Betty suddenly getting a lot thinner, and previously hideous characters like Jughead's mom & Big Ethel getting much more normalized.
    • In Archie's earliest appearances he was also pretty ugly. He was a scrawny, bucktoothed geek with bad acne. He later became the more handsome and athletic character we know today.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) In her early appearances, Bunnie she looked like she did in Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM), a cute Funny Animal with a tuft of fur on her head. Later on she received a taller and more curvy figure, began wearing cuter clothes and often a cowboy hat, and grew hair on her head.
  • Jenny Sparks, of Stormwatch and The Authority, was introduced as flat-chested (which had no effect on her active sex life). Whether a given artist will retain this characteristic is a crap shoot.
  • The Milestone Comics heroine Donner was a muscular Butch Lesbian in the original Shadow Cabinet series. When the Shadow Cabinet guest-starred in Justice League of America after the Milestone characters were brought over into The DCU, Donner was redesigned so that she was now much slimmer and more conventionally attractive, bordering on Lipstick Lesbian territory.
  • Doris Husselmeyer of Ernie started out so ugly she gave people heart attacks and went from good-looking enough that dating Arnold Arnoldski was a step down for her to getting hit on by handsome bodybuilders on the beach. Possibly because of Executive Meddling.
  • Fables - Inverted with Bigby Wolf who started off looking gritty but attractive but has slowly lost most of the features of a human face. Most noticeably he no longer seems to have eyes or a mouth. Beast swings wildly in appearance from handsome to bestial depending on how much Beauty still loves him, which usually isn't much.
  • The Sandman (1989) - Dream started out as looking kind of old and craggy when drawn by Sam Keith (he has been around since the first sentient life in the universe, you know), but most subsequent artists have him looking more or less like Robert Smith at the height of his career. Then again, since an Endless' appearance is affected by those perceiving them, this does make a degree of sense; his siblings similarly go up and down the scale of attractiveness throughout the series. Even Despair, who's supposed to be hideous, has a few appearances in the collage art for her entry in Endless Nights that look pretty nice if you're the sort who likes women with some meat on their bones.
  • In issue #1 of Strangers in Paradise, Katchoo is very flat-chested and Francine's slightly overweight. By the time we come to the final issue, both women are bustier, much thinner and even have longer legs. This is evidenced by comparing the first and last covers.
  • As pointed out in this Stupid Comics entry, the title characters of British Girls' Comic The Four Marys got prettier and more similar-looking as time went by.
  • Cleo, of Wet Moon, following an Animesque Art Shift has become somewhat slimmer and her facial features more anime. Considering creator Sophie Campbell's love of chubby chicks, this was probably done for strictly pragmatic reasons.
  • Tina, from Monica's Gang was created in 1970, as a Granola Girl wearing a striped shirt, jeans, sneakers, a medallion and thick glasses. As different artists took over the character, her body proportions became increasingly more realistic, eventually landing on Fanservice. Rather than thick rimmed glasses, she nows wears rimless round ones, and frequently replaces them with contacts, usually during dates or parties. It is acknowledged in-story that she's supposed to be very attractive, though.
    • Surprisingly, this trope was also invoked by Death. Early stories had the Grim Reaper's face covered by her robe, but implied to be a skeleton. More recent books give her a ghastly and pale, but human face, and change the proportions on the robe to suggest breasts.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Done intentionally with the girls in The Craft. At the beginning of the film, when they're all social outcasts, they dress in either their school uniforms or baggy coats (and it's a plot point that Bonnie is considered unattractive). As the film was shot in chronological order, Robin Tunney joked that the studio was getting worried at how "dowdy" the actresses were in the initial days. But as their witch powers grow, their appearances receive far more care and attention - with more make-up, flattering clothes and attractive hairstyles. Nancy gets a full on Adrenaline Makeover to become a very sexy Goth. Or as Rachel True puts it...
    "Did you notice that as our powers grew, our skirts shrunk?"
  • Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters are commonly mentioned as unattractive (it is pantomime tradition for the sisters to be played by men after all). In Disney's Cinderella they are genuinely unsightly and the stepmother is quite old. Various retellings and adaptations make the sisters cuter - highlighting their ugly personalities rather than their appearance - and the stepmother usually looks much younger. Even in Disney's live action remake, the stepmother is portrayed as an attractive redhead, while the sisters are just garishly dressed (the narration saying they were only ugly on the inside). The Fairy Godmother is another case; originally envisioned as a sweet grandmotherly type, she's become more of a Fairy Sexy with a Pimped-Out Dress.
  • The first Halloweentown movie makes Luke, a goblin, look very strange in his true form (he spends most of the movie looking like a human). In the sequel he still looks weird, but it's noticeably downplayed. And then he suffered from Chuck Cunningham Syndrome and replaced by a handsomer Love Interest in the third and fourth films.
  • Emma Watson as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter. The first film practically nailed the look of Hermione right down to the mousy bed of hair. But over the progression of movies, they have more or less let the character look more attractive over time, to the point where the Beautiful All Along moment of the Yule Ball in Goblet of Fire is ruined thanks to the increasing attention to her looks earlier, as opposed to the shocking reveal of the book's moment. This is because they were cast as children, and the actors' appearances changed dramatically throughout the course of the series - a great example is how Matthew Lewis looked in the first film and how he looked in the final movies.
  • Martha Cox, one of the side characters in the High School Musical series. In the first she's a one-off gag character, a stereotypical fat nerd girl who reveals she's also a talented rapper. Her role is expanded in the second film, and by the third she's slimmed down to Hollywood Pudgy at best, her clothes have gone from dowdy to a Cyndi Lauper-esque "quirky '80s girl" look, and she seems to have gotten a lot more popular, too, becoming a cheerleader and head of the prom committee. Starting cheerleading, which is very athletic and involves lots of dancing, could have slimmed her down a bit.
  • While how ugly Jonah Hex is widely depends on the artist, Josh Brolin's portrayal is downright handsome compared to Jonah's best appearance in the comic. They tried for the bug-eye, but Josh revealed in an interview that he could have lost his eye for real.
  • The Mummy (1999) first introduces Evie as a Cute Clumsy Girl, who wears glasses and a modest librarian outfit. Her Adrenaline Makeover into a pretty Bedouin dress is partly brought from necessity - since she lost all her clothes when they escaped from the river boat. In The Mummy Returns, where eight years have passed and she's now a confident explorer, her wardrobe and make-up is much more conventionally attractive.
  • The Phantom of the Opera has gone from skull-faced Lon Chaney to badly-scarred Claude Rains (from the 1943 film) to slightly sunburnt Gerard Butler (from the 2004 film). If you watch clips from the original film on YouTube, at least one comment will say that Chaney is too ugly. In the original book, 'the Phantom' also works as a description of how his face actually looks: yellow skin, a few wisps of hair on his head, and no nose. What's more is that the Phantom in the original book was born with his defect - and many adaptations have him starting out handsome but getting scarred in the prologue (though the musical and 2004 film restore the born defected backstory).
  • In the first two Scary Movie films Cindy Campbell is very much Hollywood Homely despite being played by the pretty Anna Faris and the second movie in particular has near constant jokes about her plainness. The third and fourth movies had Faris ditch her brunette style (copying Neve Campbell) for a decidedly more glamorous blonde look (Faris' natural hair color... also adequate to imitate Naomi Watts) and the appearance gags were dropped.
  • Velma from Scooby-Doo used to be kind of a dumpy girl. After the live action movie, in which she was played by the attractive Linda Cardellini, even the cartoon versions stated being drawn more appealingly. Possibly rolled back a bit in Scooby Apocalypse, where she's oddly, dwarfishly short and frequently sports Scary Shiny Glasses.
  • Aunt May in the Spider-Man films, first being played by 75-year-old Rosemary Harris in the Sam Raimi trilogy, then by 65-year-old Sally Field in The Amazing Spider-Man duology, and then by 51-year-old Marisa Tomei in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The latter even has a few Lampshade Hanging jokes from Tony Stark about how she looks younger and prettier than expected. Reviewer Unshaved Mouse pointed out that the change was actually justified from a Setting Update point of view:
    "May’s de-ageing is as a result of having to reconceive the character as someone who wasn’t born in turn of the century New York and lived through six decades of bad food, poor medicine, copious tobacco, two world wars and a Great Depression."
  • Some film adaptations of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde have Hyde be more handsome than Jekyll or equally as handsome to keep with the Evil Is Sexy trope. In the book and most early adaptations he is short and has an indescribable air of deformity and repulsiveness that characters could instinctively sense.
  • X-Men Film Series: Professor X in the X-Men comics is a middle-aged bald guy who is average-looking at best with no striking physical features (and considering that he's usually drawn with a severe facial expression, he could be deemed slightly below average). Patrick Stewart, who's widely renowned as being handsome for an older bald man, was in his late 50s when he was cast as the elderly version of the character in the first movie adaptation (Xavier is in his early-to-mid 70s in the original trilogy). The younger Charles became a sex symbol within the film fandom after X-Men: First Class, which starred James McAvoy, a Pretty Boy extraordinaire, and the studio had dictated that the actor conserve his thick, wavy tresses for the role. The filmmakers of X-Men: Apocalypse then surpassed this by making Professor X an extremely young-looking 50-year-oldnote  Long-Haired Pretty Boy who's glamorous like an '80s fashion model, plus he was lightly objectified for the first time in the movie franchise with a white shirt that had semi-transparent "stripes," and a thin lilac sweater that didn't exactly mask the contour of his pectoral muscles (or even his nipples, for that matter). The younger fangirls who weren't familiar with the comics and/or Stewart's performance genuinely became upset when McAvoy's Xavier lost all of his hair in the third act.
  • There have been three adaptations of Stephen King's Carrie. Carrie (1976) was the first which did apply Adaptational Attractiveness to Carrie White, but Sissy Spacek was not conventionally beautiful and made her believable as an outcastnote  and the rest of the girls in her class were not unattractive but they looked like a mix of normal teenage girls. In the 2002 film, Chris, Tina and Helen look like models, Sue still resembles her counterpart from the 76 film and Angela Bettis - although much slimmer than the book describes Carrie - goes down a Beauty Inversion route. Come the 2013 film and everyone is supermodel good looking, the guys are all in great shape and Carrie is now played by the hottie Chloë Grace Moretz. Interestingly enough, the 2013 film is the only one directed by a woman (Kimberly Peirce).
  • Film adaptations of Macbeth:
    • Lady Macbeth throughout the years. The historical person the character is based on was older than Macbeth, and he was her second husband. She's often imagined as approaching middle age, and Orson Welles in his version cast the late-30s Jeanette Nolan. Roman Polanski cast Francesca Annis in his 1971 version - aged twenty-six and considerably prettier than she had been portrayed before - and gave the character a nude sleepwalking scene. The 2006 modernized Australian film likewise had her young and pretty, with a skimpy wardrobe to invoke Evil Is Sexy. The 2015 film went backwards and cast Marion Cotillard (who had just turned forty). Then was the infamous Patrick Stewart version that amped up Macbeth's age and reimagined Lady Macbeth as a young trophy wife.
    • The Witches have commonly been depicted as hideous old crones with Ambiguous Genders (Banquo's lines say he can see beards on them). The 2006 Australian film depicted them as sexy Wiccans who proceed to have a foursome with Macbeth when giving him their prophecy. The 2015 film also made them more attractive by creating The Hecate Sisters dynamic with them, meaning two were rather young and pretty (and the oldest was still quite handsome).
  • Inverted for Puck from A Midsummer Night's Dream. In the Victorian period, tradition was to portray him as a graceful ballerina and Fairy Sexy. Starting with the 1935 film adaptation, which cast child actor Mickey Rooney, it became more common to portray him as a mischievous child. Even the 1999 film, which was a Hotter and Sexier take, portrayed him as somewhat of a Gonk.

  • Sherlock Holmes:
  • Yarna d'al Gargan, the "fat, six-breasted exotic dancer" seen briefly in Return of the Jedi, was apparently intended to be a glaringly ugly woman. Much of the fiction written about the inhabitants of Jabba's palace since then has turned this characterization completely on its head. While some writers still portray Yarna as a hideous Abhorrent Admirer, most other writers have treated her much more sympathetically. Illustrations of Yarna now depict her as unquestionably female (if still fat) and try to avoid making fun of her. In a story by science-fiction author A. C. Crispin called "Skin Deep," Yarna's backstory is provided: she is an Askajian, or a member of an alien species from the desert world of Askaj. Askajians are said to only appear fat because their bodies have evolved to retain large quantities of water on arid planets; this explains why Yarna is fat on Tatooine. However, on moister or cooler worlds, members of this species are much more slender. Yarna's companion in this story, Sergeant Doallyn, even feels himself attracted (yes, sexually) to her — although he is an alien himself. Yarna also talks about how much it always hurt her to hear Jabba's henchmen refer to her as fat and ugly, even if Jabba himself was attracted to her. And in another Star Wars sourcebook, it is revealed that "Yarna" means "beautiful" in Askajian.
  • Although his appearance is never actually described in the books, the original illustration for The Hatter in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (as well as the Disney version) depicts him as a short, middle-aged man with a large nose and an oddly shaped face. Modern illustrations tend to draw him as a Bishōnen. Compare the original illustration of "The Mad Tea Party" to this illustration in the Seven Seas version.
  • Seems to be happening with the Wicked Witch of the West. In the original novel she's described as a wizened old hag with one eye, and her iconic appearance in the MGM film is a green skinned long-nosed crone. Starting with Wicked she's described in more flattering terms, with her love interest finding her attractive but the author emphasising she's not pretty in a conventional way. The musical makes her more attractive, with only the green skin — and giving her a Pimped-Out Dress instead of rags. Oz the Great and Powerful has the justification of being a prequel, but still shows that she had a human form of a pretty young girl - and was more of a Cute Monster Girl when she gained the green skin. Finally when the witch appears in Once Upon a Time, she's a young and pretty woman who only gets green skin when she's feeling especially jealous.
  • Peter Pan:
    • Peter in the original book and play is said to still have his baby teeth, placing him at eternally between five and six years old. Plenty of adaptations give him an Age Lift to make him a cute teenager - notably the Disney one and Peter Pan. Once Upon a Time went further and cast an eighteen-year-old to play him. Hook too shows him being a teenager at the time of the original story's events. Pan on the other hand casts a twelve-year-old who at least looks like he's Peter's original age.
    • Tiger Lily's attractiveness in the original is not commented on, but she's notably much cuter in the Disney film. Peter Pan has her more in line with the book, but Pan goes ahead and makes her a sexy adult woman. Once Upon a Time likewise keeps her as an adult Action Girl.
    • Captain Hook is a dead ringer for Charles II in the original book and play, and in a lot of the adaptations he's still that. Starting with Peter Pan he retains his look, but the film plays up his sex appeal towards Wendy. Once Upon a Time makes him a rather literal Draco in Leather Pants - Emma lampshading the change, saying that his literary counterpart has a "bad perm and waxed facial hair". Pan makes the character Younger and Hipper, as well as turning him into an Indiana Jones Expy.
  • In The Scarlet Sails, Hin Menners is described briefly as a plain-looking Evil Redhead, and the 1961 film makes him a Fat Bastard to boot. However, the following adaptations turn him into a more sympathetic character and a Romantic Runner-Up for the heroine, resulting in this trope: the 1982 film makes him a reasonably good-looking Hunk, and in the musical, he is mostly played by slender handsome singers with rarely any attempt to uglify them beyond a nasty smug grin and unflattering makeup and hairstyle.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Mary Lynn Rajskub, who portrays Chloe O'Brian on 24, gradually received more makeup, better hair, and a more attractive wardrobe as her character grew in popularity among the fan base.
  • Kitty from Arrested Development is initially a subversion of Beautiful All Along; her hair is frizzy when let down and she is cross-eyed behind her glasses. There is no trace of this in season 4 where is is just as pretty as the real life Judy Greer.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Already played by Hollywood Homely Alyson Hannigan, Willow became steadily more attractive as the show proceeded. Wordof God said that the executives wanted Willow to look more hip and less nerdy. She started wearing clothes that were more 'adorkably cute' than nerdy - with plenty of fuzzy sweaters and eccentric t-shirts. In the college seasons, her hairstyles started becoming more fashionable. By Season 6 she was about as fashionably dressed as the other females on the show. In this case, the clothing change is used to show Willow becoming more confident and powerful.
    • Buffy herself had more of a Girl Next Door appearance in the first season. The make-up artist described her as 'earthy', and she contrasted with the more vampy Cordelia. Wordof God is that they then decided to make her more like a Valley Girl - resulting in bleached blonde hair, colourful make-up and trendier clothes.
    • Tara was introduced as a somewhat unkempt character, wearing baggy clothes and messy hair constantly in her eyes, used to show her as a Shrinking Violet. As her character came out of her shell, her wardrobe and hair received more attention, culminating in the Musical Episode - where she gets a song about how Willow has helped her come out of her shell, sung while wearing a flattering corset.
  • Chuck: Chuck Bartowski starts out as a Hollywood Homely nerd with an unflattering haircut and ill-fitting clothes, but as he continues to become a better spy as well as more confident, the hair and clothes get better with each season, especially starting with Season 3 where he has the Intersect 2.0. By Seasons 4 and 5, he basically looks like Zachary Levi.
  • Game of Thrones: The makeup job on Sandor Clegane becomes much less pronounced with each advancing season after 2, which coincides with his becoming a (marginally) more sympathetic character.
  • Legion: Although this show takes place in an Alternate Universe which is separate from the X-Men Film Series, the showrunners nonetheless continue the trend that began with X-Men: First Class of prettying up the young Charles Xavier in comparison to the original comic book depiction. Harry Lloyd's version of the character has a head full of hair instead of being bald, note  and he's a Pretty Boy with elegant facial features, gentle green eyes, a gracefully long neck and a slim build. His good looks, along with his empathy and kindness, accentuate his image as a romantic figure when he courts Gabrielle, his Love Interest who later becomes his wife. Because they do get married on the show (unlike in the comics), the producers wanted to avoid the Ugly Guy, Hot Wife trope by presenting Charles as one half of a very beautiful couple. note 
  • Roseanne. In the show, Roseanne and Dan were hard working, blue-collar Midwesterners, and Roseanne was appropriately unconcerned with her appearance. By the later seasons, Roseanne the actress had several plastic surgeries, lost some weight, and began wearing more flattering hair and makeup, turning her into this. (And this was before the final season, where everything went off the rails anyway.) In the 8th season, the opening credits featured morphs of the main characters as they appeared in different seasons (Roseanne's can be seen starting about 0:34). The general trend is upward, though the next to last one is a definite and dramatic step downward (though that's probably at least partly due to her expression, being the only one where she wasn't smiling and instead had a sour look on her face.)
  • Quinn on Zoey 101 was the "brain", which in the first couple of seasons meant she was a borderline mad scientist and the only female cast member who didn't show much skin. The more she became a core member of the cast, the more skin she began to show.
  • Drake & Josh: Compare the appearance of Josh in the first season and then in the 2006 TV Movie and then finally in the 2008 Christmas Special. This transition was due to Josh Peck, Josh Nichols' actor, wanting to lose weight for health reasons.
  • Sam Puckett on iCarly spent about three seasons as a dedicated unchanging tomboy, to the point that she is an example for Suppressed Mammaries. Once Season 4 started, the actress had grown up and out, they started showing her off in more revealing clothing. In Season 5 the only aspects of her tomboyishness are behavioural, as she has started wearing girly, fashionable and figure hugging clothing.
  • Lily on Hannah Montana was supposed to be a tomboyish skater-girl. This was even a plot point when Miley tried to sexy her up for a boy. By about mid-way through the third season her fashion sense had evolved to the point where there was practically no difference between her look and Miley's.
  • In Kamen Rider Fourze, Tomoko Nozama goes from being an awkward-looking Goth teen to having more subtle, flattering makeup and accessories and a longer hairstyle (especially around the time that the actress was preparing to release a photobook.) Continues in a post-series movie where after a Time Skip she's grown into a very beautiful adult.
  • Topanga on Boy Meets World originally wore frumpy clothes and had wild, unruly hair to demonstrate her Granola Girl personality. However, as her personality shifted to being a normal Girl Next Door and the actress grew up, she was given more attractive clothes and a hairstyle, as well as makeup.
  • Simon starts Shadowhunters with Nerd Glasses, baggy clothes and Messy Hair. After being turned into a vampire he loses the glasses, gets a better haircut and the show stops trying to present him as unattractive.
  • Amy Juergens from The Secret Life of the American Teenager has a minor one. the show even points it out, strangely focusing on how much larger her breasts are after to the pregnancy.
  • Elliot started Scrubs as more of a cute nerd. In Season 3 the network demanded a sexier female character to cater to the young male demographic - so she was given a makeover as a way of asserting her confidence. The makeover gets toned down in Season 4, but she's still portrayed as much more attractive than in the first two seasons. This one is also justified since as she moved up the ladder to private practitioner, it would be more important for her to maintain a professional (and for women this means conventionally feminine) appearance. Season 3 hangs a lampshade on this by showing that she has to get up even earlier to maintain the look.
  • The Office (US):
    • The general softening of the cast's appearances goes hand in hand with the show moving away from the oppressive pessimism of Season One towards a goofier, warmer sense of humor. Watch the last episode of Season One and then the first episode of Season Two, it's downright shocking, though the show is about as close to real life as it gets on American television as far as believable looking characters get. It wasn't until Erin came along that the show really pushed beyond what you'll see in a typical office.
    • Michael Scott is a standout example, as he started the series with thinning hair and a somewhat flabby build, but from Season 2 onwards he's got a full head of hair and looks more trim.
    • In the DVD commentary, Pam's actress, Jenna Fischer, mentions that she does her own hair and make-up for the character, at least in the earlier seasons. She has a rule that she won't spend more than a half-hour getting ready, since that's the most that Pam would. However, this all may have changed with "Fancy New Beesly" after she breaks up her engagement and begins pursuing Jim in season 3 and starts wearing her hair down.
    • In the first several seasons of the show, Angela's entire character could be summed up with the phrase "prissy religious judgmental bitch", and it reflected in her appearance. She rarely smiled, dressed like an older woman, wore her hair in unflattering styles and judged perfectly reasonably-dressed women as looking like "whores", for wearing things such as open-toed sandals. As the season went on, she became somewhat more sympathetic, to the point where by the final season we were supposed to be rooting for her and Dwight to reconcile. By that time she had started smiling more, wearing her hair in looser, more flowing styles and even wearing shoes and dresses that she herself would have described as "whorish" in the first few seasons. Dwight even lampshades this: "You're wearing open-toed sandals. When did you become a whore?"
  • Charlie Brooker makes frequent jokes about how ugly and style-illiterate he is, admitting in a column that his haircuts are left up to the whims of his barber. As his TV career took off, however, he's frequently seen wearing nice clothes and sporting a longer, much more flattering hairstyle, his skin has become gradually nicer since he quit smoking, and he's lost weight. It's nice to see and it doesn't make him any less funny, but his stage persona's jokes about his ugliness, such as describing himself as "the result of a drunken bet at the face factory", don't make so much sense now that he's conventionally attractive.
  • Rose from Two and a Half Men was first depicted as an ugly woman, but the actress was too good looking, so her character was developed into a creepy stalker.
  • Both Connor and Abby from Primeval. When the series started, Conor was portrayed as a greasy-haired nerd who had a weird collection of crazy outfits and wonky hats. Abby meanwhile had a punk tomboyish appearance with Boyish Short Hair. During Season 4 after being trapped in the past for a year, they started dressing more normally. Abby's hair likewise grew out long and she stopped wearing punk-ish make-up.
  • Charmed:
    • The Halliwell sisters started the first season out with fairly ordinary and normal clothes and rather plain hairstyles. Phoebe was the pretty one of the sisters, but even she wasn't that fashionable. Season 3 showed the clothes becoming far more fashionable, the girls frequently made up and far more flattering hairstyles. By Season 5, they were incredibly vampy. It's a joke among fans that Alyssa Milano's belly-button deserved top billing in the credits. This is apparently due to Executive Meddling demanding "more skin". Part of it is also reflective of the sisters' powers and confidence growing, and their careers changing - Prue goes from the corporate world to an independent freelance photographer, Piper gives up managing someone else's restaurant to opening her own club, Phoebe becomes a local celebrity advice columnist and Paige trades in the working world to be a full time whitelighter.
    • Demons as a whole got progressively prettier too, or at least progressively more human-looking. Some of the early demons were hideous or scary, while many of the later demons just looked like dark-haired people in leather. There was a justification for Cole, as he was going through the Heel–Face Revolving Door and how demonic he looked depended on what side he was on, but sometimes demons just looked human with little reason. There was something of a justification for this; apparently upper-level demons were the ones able to assume a human form. Thus as the sisters' powers increased, the more powerful (and therefore human-looking) demons would come after them.
  • Debra Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond; while in the first season Patricia Heaton had a short, unflattering haircut and dowdy stay-at-home mom clothes, her hair became longer and better styled and her makeup and outfits more flattering during later seasons.
  • In Downton Abbey Edith is supposed to be the unfashionable Plain Jane of her sisters, but as the series goes on and she works on her self-esteem and ambitions, she acquires a modern and flattering sense of fashion and turns out to be actually rather good-looking, although in an adorable-yet-discrete beauty, unlike the kind of beauty of resident Ms. Fanservice Mary. Come the 2019 film and Edith is given a Fanservicey scene in lingerie (ironically when revealing her pregnancy).
  • This was always the plan with Guinevere from Merlin. The costume designers and makeup artists dressed down Angel Coulby to the point where some unpleasant fans complained that she wasn't pretty enough to play the part at all, only for her appearance to get more care and attention as the show went on. Fast-forward to series five and the first on-set photographs of Queen Guinevere are posted on the internet — the fanbase responds by going nuts over how beautiful she looks. There could arguably be a justification based on Season 2 being when her romance with Arthur starts, and Gwen trying to make more effort since she'll be seeing him around the castle each day.
  • Inverted by Mac in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, when Rob McElhenney put on 50 pounds for season 7, in a deliberate effort by the actor/creator to defy this trope. Then played straight in season 13, when he lost all the weight and became noticeably fit.
  • Travis, The Dragon in Blake's 7. When he was played by Stephen Greif in the first season, his missing left eye was covered by a huge, ugly, blackened-metal prosthesis that appeared not just to be covering his eye socket but actually replacing a large chunk of his skull. When, in the second series, the character was recast with Brian Croucher (who wasn't any better or worse-looking than Greif otherwise), he was given a much smaller and more ordinary-looking eye patch.
    • Possibly justified by a few lines in his first appearance, where Servalan comments on the fact that the original prosthesis was a very crude and hasty field-expedient and he could have most of the cosmetic damage undone, but apparently Travis keeps it to prove he's a proper soldier who's seen real action. It'd be quite easy to Hand Wave the changes as further surgery being needed because it wasn't healing properly or something, but the writers never got around to addressing it. The out-of-universe explanation is probably a purely practical one; the original prop would have been a royal pain to make, apply and keep in place.
  • Ray Vecchio in Due South wore gawdy, oversized clothes and had a haircut that emphasized his receding hairline for much of the first season. By the end of the first season, he was wearing much more flattering clothes in softer colors, and at the start of the second season, he had a more attractive haircut.
  • In Doctor Who, the Fourth Doctor started out wearing a shabby mishmash of clothes that didn't match at all based on an "eternal art student" concept. He transitioned to dressing in a much more expensive-looking Victorian-influenced style based on a Byronic Hero/"cheerful gothic horror" concept, though the scruffiness remained as a significant part of his character (so his clothes were usually crushed, faded, missing buttons, done up wrong, etcetera). In his final season, however, a new producer ordered the costume designer to toss out the "shabby" look in favour of something that was "new and shocking", had a "polished" look and could be sold as Official Cosplay Gear. His last outfit is based on 1920s Russian military gear and has virtually no scruffy elements besides his Messy Hair.
  • Van Pelt in The Mentalist was always attractive but initially her hairstyle and makeup was that of a serious federal agent. Later seasons have her looking more primped in the middle of a gunfight than the first season had when she was in the office.
  • Inverted with Mary Margaret in Once Upon a Time. In the first season she was presented as a wholesome school teacher, but still indulged in plenty of flattering clothes - normally by way of the Sweater Girl trope. Flanderization somehow led to her suddenly dressing extremely conservatively in the fourth season onward - to the point where fans were wondering why the character had become so frumpy. In-universe, she goes from believing she's a young single woman who was born in the real world to learning she's actually married, not only a mother but a grandmother, despite still having the appearance of a young woman, and remembering she's from another world where people dress like it's the Middle Ages.
  • Phoebe in the first couple of seasons of Friends was presented more as a Granola Girl who wasn't particularly sexy or fashionable. This part of her character was downplayed as the series went on, with her being presented as just as sexy as Monica and Rachel.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch's first season featured some incredibly frumpy clothing and hairstyles for the two aunts - Caroline Rhea later saying she looked like she was going to a coronation for a "very senior royal". Season 2 started playing up the attractiveness and sex appeal of both of them. Coincidentally this is where Hilda was now portrayed as a Serial Romeo who had (to quote Sabrina) "dated every male life form in the solar system".
  • Wonder Woman: Diana Prince undergoes this transformation. In Season 1, she's Yeoman Diana Prince, Steve Trevor's secretary and always dressed in a dowdy military uniform with her hair in a bun. By season 2, she's Agent Diana Prince and wears the latest fashions. By season 3, she stops wearing glasses entirely and simply looks like Wonder Woman all the time.
  • A couple of justified examples in Stranger Things:
    • Joyce Byers is introduced as an overworked single mother, who's especially stressed out because of her son's disappearance. Winona Ryder is dressed down to look like someone who wouldn't believably be caring too much about looking perfect. By Season 2, her hair has grown out and she's wearing more make-up. It's justified by her son now being home and safe, as well as a romance with Nice Guy Bob (where she'd probably feel like making more of an effort).
    • Eleven is first seen with a shaved head thanks to her time in the Hawkins lab. Even when her hair is growing out in Season 2, her style is rather simple, due to being in hiding in the woods with only Hopper to rely on for clothes. By Season 3, her hair has grown out longer to be more styled and she also gets a shopping montage trying on pretty dresses; this is to reflect her getting the chance to be a normal teenager for a change.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Succubi and Incubi were originally supposed to be ugly, but have evolved to be seductively beautiful. This also tends to correspond to how the legends have evolved — initially, they were creatures who just raped people in their sleep (thus being the source of erotic dreams and nighttime ejaculations). Over time, the legend changed to succubi and incubi having to actively lure their victims into intercourse — thus, depictions shifted to depict more and more attractive creatures as logically, an ugly creature would have trouble getting a willing victim.
  • In Greek Mythology, Medusa is turned into a hideous monster with a head full of snakes. That is, her face was so hideously ugly that she could turn people to stone by looking at them. Originally, she also had wings, scales, huge claws, and massive fangs. These days, film-makers and fantasy artists have ditched the ugliness in favor of the snake-hair and made her petrification powers the result of inherent magical powers that are based in her eyes. As such, we have the likes of Uma Thurman in Percy Jackson and the Olympians as a gorgeous snake-haired woman, a Cute Monster Girl in Clash of the Titans, and an attractive actress in the Hallmark TV movie The Voyage of the Unicorn who is simply given sunglasses in order to make her safe enough to interact with other characters. At least one source covering the original myths (Bullfinch's?) had her sisters being hideous, but she herself maintaining her mortal beauty, presumably because Athena (jerk that she is) wanted it to be more ironic. Some myths offer a compromise and state that Medusa was both beautiful and terrible at the same time.
  • Sirens were supposed to be bird women, but in modern times we tend to think of them as beautiful mermaids. To the point that in some languages the word for "siren" and "mermaid" is the same, so the two are basically equated, and "sirenian" is the scientific term for manatees and dugongs.. Some modern depictions of sirens still use the bird-woman rendition. Martin Mystery has an interesting interpretation of this concept. The siren could be a beautiful, blue-haired woman one moment, a vicious (but still pretty cool) bird monster the next. Even before they became mermaids, sirens were first depicted as birds with women's heads but then became beautiful women whose bodies as well as their voices were seductive.
  • Mermaids themselves have experienced this. Early British reports of them described them as monstrous with tails 2000 feet in length more akin to sea serpents. They quickly evolved into the beautiful and normal sized creatures we're more familiar with. They've also experienced inversions with many works twisting them into horrific monsters.
    • This applies to Japanese mythology as well: the word ningyo was originally applied to creatures who were essentially fish but with a very ugly human face. But since the popularity of The Little Mermaid (1989), ningyo has been used for that much more beautiful interpretation of a half-fish person.
  • Valkyries from Norse Mythology were originally demons but eventually became beautiful shield maidens.
  • The Beast from Beauty and the Beast has undergone a general trend of becoming more human-looking, especially in the live-action adaptations where he's gone from genuine Beast Man (Beauty and the Beast (1946)) to bald, tattooed punk (Beastly; also a big case of Adaptational Attractiveness compared to the original book's Beast Man) to hot guy with a barely visible scar (Beauty and the Beast (2012)).
  • Depictions of Jesus on the cross seem to have slowly evolved from making his muscles visible due to weakness and starvation to making him look like a guy who was just generally fit and muscular before getting crucified. This perception has apparently spiraled out of control in some parts of the world.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • In general, WWE Divas who are brought in from the independent wrestling scene go through so many cosmetic surgeries while in the developmental leagues that by the time they actually debut in WWE, they look nothing like they used to. This wouldn't be a real issue, except that girls who get surgery done while in developmental frequently don't get called up to WWE. Angel Williams (best known for her run as Angelina Love in TNA), for example, was beloved by the fitness community for her natural abs before getting called into WWE developmental and told to soften up and get implants. Then they dropped her, after saying they were just going to move her from Deep South to Ohio Valley.
    • Madusa had a fair amount of work done on her face, but prior to the WWF this was simply due to the fact it kept getting broken when she went to Japan to wrestle for promotions like Zenjo. Come the WWF and she gets cosmetic surgery to make her nose "prettier". She got breast implants too.
    • Early Joanie Laurer (better known as Chyna), with her square jaw and angry slit of a mouth, is one of the more iconic wrestlers in their history. She was like a Buckingham Palace Guard, unflinching in the stupidity of D-Generation X. She got a ton of surgery to soften her look, most noticeably having her jawline shaved down. She looked pretty decent by the time of her IC title win. (Her 3rd Rock from the Sun days, for the uninitiated) Once she toned back how much she lifted, it gave her body some weird proportions as the surgery had been done for her muscular physique, so she kept having more surgeries...but that's another, sad story.
    • When the company acquired Lita and Jazz from ECW and decided they needed touching up, it was a sign anyone was fair game. That said, Jazz's case was less dramatic than most who had obvious surgeries and Lita at least skipped developmental.
    • Zig-zagged with Molly Holly. When she was brought into WWE she was a pretty sweet country bumpkin with blonde pigtails. Then she was repackaged as a self-righteous prude, so she dyed her hair brown, cut it short and started dressing in dowdy and conservative clothes. This got reversed in 2003, when she started wrestling in corsets and her hair grew out.
    • Gail Kim even before WWE when she lost her La Felina mask to Tracy Brooks. Unlike other Canandian wrestlers such as Dark Angel or Goddess, she wasn't trying to get over with a Mexican crowd but was given an over the top Super Villain gimmick as part of a due paying experience. She never wanted to wear it in the first place and fans were shocked to see she was even remotely feminine, let alone pretty. In WWE there were of course her breast implants, which ironically reduced the amount of time people saw her, due to leaking. Inverted on the her return to the independent circuit and TNA however, where Kim gradually became more chiseled.
    • Tough Enough winner Nidia's lack of push for all her efforts up to getting breast implants somewhat soured her on the industry when she was then released in favor of "divas" not trained to be wrestlers but chosen because they apparently fit WWE's new direction better. She toured the world with Gail Kim following but unlike her didn't find another promotion that could reignite her passion for the business and quit.
    • The six foot body builder Shaniqua was a ridiculous case where WWE clumsily gave her breast implants the on camera handwave of "swelling" caused by Brandshaw's clothseline from hell and based the APA-Basham Brothers feud around it.
    • Kyra and Macaela Mercedes actually ran into recognition failure from some fans under the names Melina Perez and Jillian Hall, although once fans realized who Melina was, a "We Want Kyra" chant actually broke out on a WWE pay per view event, and for those who watched developmental, Hall's surgery actually became the basis of her gimmick in Ohio Valley. Serena Deeb got hit with less of this, as she didn't change her name, but had to get both a boob and nose job just to get noticed by WWE and still didn't get a role on their television for two years until her head was shaved (which ironically wasn't to make her prettier but to fit in with CM Punk's cult of straight edge).
    • Rather than celebrate when Beth Phoenix made it to WWE television without undergoing the diva makeover, fans instead started counting the number of days it would take for her to get huge Fake Boobs. For better or worse WWE didn't prove anyone wrong, but Phoenix mercifully wasn't told to slim down in addition to going under the knife.
    • Ivelisse Vélez cited advancement politics and image standards as her main hindrances in WWE, adding that the woman taking her spot would not have such issues. Velez was right about overcoming politics, but not even Charlotte Flair could avoid the diva makeover.
    • Downplayed with Rebecca Knox. While she was a flexing fitness nut she was also a goofy dancer who wrestled in traditionally feminine garb like minidresses. She did appear more dolled up and baring more skin, including cleavage (which is to say Knox had visible cleavage!) in WWE that she had on the independent circuit, but she did not resort to any cosmetic surgeries or even outfit padding. She did it all naturally. The inverted, as she became "The Man" and became less feminine and more covered up than she ever had been before.
  • Defied by Katey Harvey, who initially conformed to the 'Diva look' when she debuted in 2011. She initially had a prissy Alpha Bitch gimmick and wrestled in pole dancer's outfits before opting for a more modest singlet - and choosing to get into weight lifting. As a result, her waifier frame (which was brought on by excessively unhealthy dieting) bulked up into a more muscular one. She has said that she is an average size for an everyday woman, but is considered overweight by wrestling standards. She recalls being told that she either needed to lose weight to fit the Diva look once again, or else gain it to become a monster heel a la Kia Stevens or Nia Jax. She did neither.
  • Also inverted by Kazza. As Kazza G, she wrestled in a Minidress of Power and did make herself like a Girl Next Door for a couple of years. Upon adopting the 'Session Moth' Martina gimmick, she wrestled in pyjamas and with her hair in rollers to fit the character more. She was initially appearing as just Martina in Over the Top Wrestling and Kazza G elsewhere, but eventually appeared exclusively as Martina.

    Tabletop Games 
  • When Dungeons & Dragons switched from 2nd to 3rd Editions, one of the changes made was to take halflings from their original portrayal as short, chubby humans with large, hairy feet, and turn them into half-sized elves. This made them go from being typically cute to being outright sexy, as shown by Lidda, the iconic Rogue PC used in official artwork.
  • Eberron's Shifters originally looked like this - and this is a female. However, later artists drew them either as being basically Hugh Jackman as the Wolf Man if male, and more like a wilder elf if female, seen here; or emphasizing the more Cat Girl-like qualities of females, as seen here. This, of course, made Shifters far more popular than the Gonk-ier initial portrayal did.
  • Exalted has this as an In-Universe trait of Abyssal Exalted. As their Essence rises, they either have to keep raising their Appearance stat, resulting in this trope, or dump it all the way down to 0.
  • Zig-zagged with the Daemonettes of Slaanesh in Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 who in their first appearance looked ridiculously hideous. Then came the second variant which was the prettiest model range in the entire game. Then came 4th edition and Daemonettes went right back to hideous (though not ridiculous).
  • Candy Land:
    • For inexplicable reasons Mr. Mint has been hit with this. He is traditionally a cartoony, vaguely human man with Black Bead Eyes. In 2003 they toned down how stylized he was but he still looked more adorable than anything. In the current 2013 design he is a handsome animesque man with Anime Hair.
    • Lord Licorice is actually attractive as of the 2013 redesign. They toned down how cartoony he looks and gave him an actual color palette besides being pink (he has black and red hair, a human skin tone, and wears a Badass Longcoat)

  • Skipper from the Barbie franchise zig-zags this. Her original design, while still cute, was very plain-looking unlike her taller and more glamorous older sister. By the 1970s, her appearance was more conventionally attractive with a smiling face, but in the mid-1980s (approximately 1984-1986) her design became so, so ugly. Mattel agreed and thankfully revamped her by the end of the decade and never looked back.

    Video Games 
  • King had a harder, more stereotypically "butch" face in Art of Fighting, presumably to hide the fact that she's a woman. In the sequels and The King of Fighters, she's drawn with more conventionally attractive facial features. Compare her appearance in Art of Fighting to how she looks in KOF 2000.
  • Alucard, son of Dracula in the Castlevania series. He debuted in Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, whereas he looked like a craggy middle aged man. This is the way he looks in the game that launches his popularity so high years later. Top grade white haired Bishōnen making fangirls foam at the mouth.
  • Nina Cortex of Crash Bandicoot downplays it; while she has maintained her prominent forehead and buck teeth, her Twinsanity/Tag Team Racing look sported a rather stuffy hairstyle and ape-ish face, while her subsequent Titans/Mind over Mutant look gives her a more appealing hair tuft and softer features. Nitro-Fueled applies the latter game's features to her original design.
  • Ethan Thomas from Condemned: Criminal Origins went through this by the time of the sequel thanks to more advanced graphics, going from plain to rugged. This is ironic because his character is supposed to seen as a messy homeless wreck compared to his clean cut appearance from the first game.
  • Felicia from Darkstalkers was always gorgeous from the neck down, but her original design in The Night Warriors had a mouth full of pointy cat teeth with very prominent canines and slitted cat's pupils in her eyes, and a somewhat muscular physique. Darkstalkers Revenge toned down both her more bestial features and her muscularity, and by Darkstalkers 3 she was a Cute Monster Girl with Cute Little Fangs, and normal eyes that, if you knew to look, had cat shaped (but human sized) pupils.note 
  • Dante from Devil May Cry played this straight then inverts this by the time of his latest game. He started off decent looking in DMC1, became a bit more handsome for DMC2 and by DMC3 and DMC4 is handsome enough to turn fangirls rabid. Inverted by Devil May Cry 5 though as Dante has had the years caught up with him and he looks a straggly middle-aged rockstar (though, to many fans, this change did nothing to affect Dante's hotness levels), the same game also changes Nero from the bishie he was in DMC4 to a lug with a crewcut, though this mainly due to the photorealistic engine being used. Played straight with Lady who went from attractive to male drool inducingly hot.
  • Double Dragon: Linda started out looking like a boxy and somewhat mannish woman with a blonde fright wig in the original game, and got a little bit sexier with each new installment to the point that, as of Double Dragon Neon, she looks like the sort of character you'd expect to fight with a bullwhip.
  • With every Dragon Age game, fan-favorite side character Cullen gets better looking. His biggest fans kept pleading with the developers to make him a potential love interest for the player character. They finally got their wish in the third game, Dragon Age: Inquisition — and fittingly, this is where he's at his most attractive.
  • In the original version of Dragon Quest IV, the main hero, Solo and party member Kiryl, while not unattractive, were relatively generic looking while Big Bad Psaro the manslayer was a rather creepy looking black-haired guy. However, thanks to Mutsumi Inomata's art of the characters, all three, especially Psaro, have become Bishōnen in more recent works.
  • Dynasty Warriors is very guilty of this for most of its roster, with Zhao Yun being a prime example. The third, fourth and fifth games aren't too bad, but then once you reach the reboot in the sixth game he's getting too pretty for his own good, but in the seventh game he's a frickin' Jpop star!
    • This happens to Liu Bei as well. He has facial hair in the earlier games until the sixth game onwards where they made him beardless, younger and more handsome. It would probably make sense why Lady Sun Shaingxiang had a crush on him.
  • Terra's Esper form in Final Fantasy VI is described by most of the characters in-game as frightening, and though her ingame sprite is too Super-Deformed to really tell, her concept art certainly lives up to that description, looking feral and dangerous, with bulging yellow eyes and sharp teeth. Dissidia Final Fantasy prettied her up into a Cute Monster Girl whose only animalistic traits are smallish claws, pink skin, and Barbie Doll Anatomy.
  • Final Fantasy VII:
    • Reno in at first wasn't supposed to be a pretty boy, (in contrast with Rufus for instance). Later the Compilation gave him Generic Cuteness to bring him in line with fandom portrayal of the character.
    • The CG film Advent Children made Barret more conventionally attractive... and gave him a fishnet vest...
    • Slightly reversed in Final Fantasy VII Remake, where both Cloud and Barret are redesigned to look a bit more like their original conceptions, even where this makes them uglier (Cloud's unappealingly skinny build, Barret's more disfiguring scars). Played straight with Biggs, Wedge and Jessie who now way more attractive than their original designs as well as Tifa and Aerith who are now high-graphics level super beautiful, which considering how attractive they were already is no small feat.
  • Halo: Cortana in Halo: Combat Evolved. Cortana in Halo 2. That said, she zig-zags this a bit in Halo 4; she's definitely still attractive, but her figure is slightly less idealized.
  • This trope gets Lampshaded in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Heritage For The Future, where Iggi's "child" form while in Sethan's thrall is simply himself pre-Art Evolution.
  • In the original Kid Icarus, Medusa was designed as a pudgy one-eyed monster. Come Uprising, Medusa was given quite the facelift. Her face reverts back to something akin to her original appearance when she Turns Red in her boss fight, however.
  • Link from The Legend of Zelda was pretty funny looking in his first few appearances, thanks to unkempt hair, a stubby nose, and huge ears all on a rather plain face. Then Ocarina of Time chiseled his face and cleaned up his hair, turning him into one of the most famous Bishōnen in video game history. Just compare this concept artwork of him in The Adventure Of Link to his concept art for Ocarina of Time. The latter has become the basis for his design in all subsequent games featuring his adult form, and many will argue that he gets even prettier with each new game. Even A Link Between Worlds and the Link's Awakening remake, which reuse his A Link to the Past design, use a Super-Deformed art style to make Link more baby faced and cute than he was in the original artwork.
  • The Zora race from various The Legend of Zelda gone through several changes as the series progressed. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time had them as humanoid beings with a tail on their head, large fins on the arms, and webbed feet. The eyes also gave them an alien-like appearance. By The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the design was mostly kept the same, but with more details and their faces were made more humanlike. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild pretties up the Zoras further by giving them a more sleek and slim look, changes their eyes to look more catlike, and their feet are human shaped with webbing in between the toes.
  • The eponymous character from the Max Payne series. Max was modeled on Sam Lake, one of the game's writers, for the first game, and ended up with a near-perpetual squint and constipated face. For the second game, actor Timothy Gibbs was hired as the base, so Max looked noticeably more generic. In the third game however, Max shaves his head and grows a rather thick beard.
  • Otacon from Metal Gear Solid is an arguable case, as he progressively looked less scruffy, gained better-looking glasses, and his hair became less of a mess. His hair also goes from grey to dark brown, his eyes go from brown to blue (making him resemble blue-eyed-brown-haired Snake), and his build goes from skinny, to slim, to broad-shouldered and fit. Not to mention his fashion sense improves, from the incredibly ugly and oversized duffle coat he wears in the first, to a stylish, slimly-cut white coat partnered with black gloves in the fourth. Lampshaded in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance where Raiden mentions to Sunny that Otacon used to be a nerd and once he got into his 30s, became "much more attractive."
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • While a lot of the characters have become more attractive as graphics have improved, Mileena is a crowning example as her Scary Teeth has made her be regarded as a Butter Face, yet compared to how scary she looked in the games up to MK9, her MKX appearance which gives her a set of lips makes Mileena look positively beautiful in comparison. MK11 averts this, taking away her lips and giving her bloody gums, but she's still far less ugly than her previous unmasked appearance in the earlier games.
    • Sheeva also has gotten this across the years steadily becoming more humanoid and attractive.
  • Aya in Parasite Eve isn't ugly, but the art style gives her eyes with very large pupils. The sequel refines her face to make her look younger while keeping the semi realistic look. The third game makes her look even younger despite actually being older than she looks, but this is due to the "Aya" the player controls is actually Eve, who is younger than Aya and the two had swapped bodies at the start of the game.
  • Pokémon:
    • A common occurrence in remakes is the prettying-up of much of the cast, partially due to Art Shift. Some of the characters in the Pokémon Gold and Silver remakes are more attractive now than they were in the original. Morty is a prime example. Originally only somewhat attractive, in the remakes he's a full-on Bishonen. Will and the now named Ariana and Archer are also more attractive in the remakes than in the original. The rival was redesigned to at least look somewhat older, is quite thinner, and much more of a Bishonen with his hair now cut shorter, the male player character also looks somewhat taller and older, lost a lot of weight, and is drawn to look cuter than mischievous-looking; even Pryce is upgraded from a somewhat ugly old man to looking very good for his age.
    • Applies to the Pokémon Red and Blue remakes Fire Red and Leaf Green as well, though it's most noticeable with Red and Blue, who went from being two average looking, if maybe a bit scrawny, looking boys in Pokémon Red and Blue to Bishōnen who look at least two years older than they should be in the remakes.
    • In their initial appearance the male swimmer class in Pokémon was meant to be Fan Disservice. In later generations, they weren't hideous but still meant to be a joke with their macho poses and scrawny physique. By Generation VII however, they were given an athletic and muscular build, becoming Mr. Fanservice.
    • Hex Maniacs. Originally looking like homely girls in witch attire, upon returning in Pokémon X and Y they received a considerably cuter and more feminine redesign.
  • Chell from Portal and Portal 2 somehow gets younger and prettier between games. Compare Chell 1 and Chell 2.
  • Little Mac from the Punch-Out!! franchise has gone from average looking boxing meathead to handsome anime Hunk by the time of Super Smash Bros 4.
  • The first Princess Connect is unrelenting in describing protagonist Yuuki's physical appearance as "plain" and "average", generally implying that his massive Unwanted Harem came into existence in spite of his looks rather than because of them. Not that the player can tell, because he lacks a canonical design entirely. In the sequel, not only does he gain an actual design, all these criticisms of his appearance suddenly disappear entirely, and the other characters begin to generally describe his looks with more positive adjectives like "cute" and "cool" instead.
  • While Raz has also simply benefited from fifteen years of graphical improvements, the developers have also noticeably softened his facial features and enlarged his eyes in Psychonauts 2 to make him look almost Disneyesque rather than like a weird squinty alien.
  • Randal's Monday: An strange in-universe example with Elaine. She goes from a Gonk with crooked teeth and an overly large nose to having a super model-esque face through out the loops. What exactly causes it is not explained, but it is implied that Randal's interaction with her does it.
  • Inverted in the Resident Evil franchise. The cast of the franchise have visibly aged since 1998, going from fresh-faced 20-somethings to attractive but clearly middle-aged. While still all in excellent shape because of their work, the most recent entries show aged protagonists with wrinkles and rougher skin compared to their prime. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 provides an example with Claire Redfield, who is clearly no longer the 19-year old she was in 1998. Part of the fandom approved of how plausible her aging seems compared to the trope's usual straight examples.
  • In the Splinter Cell: Conviction forums, a number of fans have expressed distaste at the Ubisoft's drastic change of Anna Grimsdottir. In the first two games, she wears glasses and has a haircut and outfit befitting an office worker or bureaucrat. She lost the glasses (sorry Meganekko lovers) and looked a little prettier in Chaos Theory but still bore a resemblance to her past versions. In Conviction, however, she looks much more conventionally attractive than in the other games.
  • The majority of the characters in the Star Fox series became prettier looking, especially Wolf, Fox, and Leon where their faces and eyes look more pronounced and defined compared their more basic and gruffer looks in the past.
  • Mario of Super Mario Bros. was a Gonk in his debut during the Donkey Kong era while also greatly resembling Popeye, as he used to be an Expy of him. Even after he gained his more familiar design, he was still pretty goofy-looking, with stubby limbs. Modern Mario is far cuter, and while he's still pudgy, his longer limbs make him seem slimmer compared to his design from the late 80s and early 90s.
  • The World Warriors of Street Fighter, especially Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li and Cammy, got hotter and hotter every generation. Just look at Bengus's original art for Ultra Street Fighter 2 and compare it to the Nintendo Switch rerelease version. The improvement of graphics meant that Chun-Li went from this to this.
  • Rococco and Rocco from Style Savvy are the same character. Rococco was made into a woman in the Japanese version of Style Savvy because of his flamboyant appearance. In the sequel however he is much more toned down, lost his facial hair, lost weight, and is a Bishōnen. His hair is also dyed red and blue instead of being black. They don't look like the same character so this worked in the localizations favor. They simply stated the Style Savvy: Trendsetters version of the character was Rococco's son, Rocco.
  • Tekken:
  • Calypso, Big Bad of Twisted Metal, lost his wife and daughter in a car crash that left him horribly burned. In the original game, Calypso had a face like raw hamburger... but as it was a real person in makeup, the result was kind of embarrassing. The second game handled this much better with its animated endings, creating the definitive Calypso - still obviously scarred, but not as ridiculous. In the third game, the scars were reduced, and gone by the fourth. This could be written off as 989 having no clue what they were doing. In the Incog Inc. games (made up of several former Singletrac employees), Calypso doesn't look anything like he used to for some reason... but he still has no scars, aside from his missing eye (which he loses without explanation between the second game and Head-On). In the 2012 game, he looks flawless with no scars or injuries in sight.
  • Geralt from The Witcher games has undergone a redesign with each game. Compare his design for the first game, his design for the sequel, and his design for the third game. Even beyond the improvements in graphics technology, his facial features have been changed quite a bit.
  • When Masahiro Sakurai asked the development team of Wii Fit for input on the Wii Fit Trainer's inclusion in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, they requested that their faces be more attractive than they did in the previous game. While the trainers' glass-white skin still intentionally invokes the Uncanny Valley, they have much tighter, less droopy features and now wears an energetic smile instead of a blank stare. Comparing the old and new faces side-by-side looks like a "celebs without makeup" tabloid picture.

    Visual Novels 
  • Kana from the Visual Novel Kana: Little Sister was drawn very realistically for someone dying of a renal disease, her body oddly developed due to poor bone growth. As such, the endings where she dies and the main character sees a vision of a healthy and well-proportioned Kana are even more emotional than they would be otherwise. Unfortunately, the people who made the remake seemed scared that people would find her "ugly", and remodeled her to a generic implausibly attractive Delicate and Sickly girl. Some of the major differences are pointed out here. Of course, the original Kana still has features that are considered attractive, at least in Japan, since she is light-skinned and very petite, making her kawaii. The player character often comments on this.

    Web Comics 
  • A few of the Homestuck characters' earlier talksprites got a bit of a makeover. Compare Kanaya 1 and Kanaya 2, Karkat 1 and Karkat 2, Rose 1 (grimdark) and Rose 2, or perhaps most notably, Eridan 1 and Eridan 2.
  • The hyenas in Digger gradually become less monstrous-looking (and more anthropomorphic) as they become more sympathetic (read: aren't hunting Digger).
  • Bootsie from Friendly Hostility started out skinny and awkward, but eventually ended up being acknowledged in-series as attractive. This might have something to do with her leaving behind her years as an unpopular teenager and growing into a more confident adult who's actually comfortable in her own skin.
  • Inverted in Doodle Diaries, where Zelda starts drawing herself in a more self-deprecating and honest way.
  • Not a straight example, but Reynardine/Renard from Gunnerkrigg Court seems to spend less time as his small, angry teddy bear form and more as his impressive, proud-looking wolf form as his backstory is explored more and he becomes less of a comedic snarker and more of a sympathetic (and mystic) character.
  • Partly due to Oglaf's Art Evolution and developing plot, Ivan the Apprentice has gone from very awkward-looking in the early comics to quite pretty in later ones.
  • Sluggy Freelance: Looks like Zoe bought that pushup bra after all.
  • Narbonic: Dave Davenport starts the story as a scruffy, overweight guy who is almost never seen without the stereotypical "nerdy computer guy" flannel shirt. By the final arc he's lost some weight, his beard is much more neatly-trimmed and he actually looks pretty good in a well-tailored suit, although his everyday dress sense hasn't changed much. This is part of Dave's character arc; he starts out as a fresh college graduate who's more than a little naive and socially awkward, and as he starts to gain some self-confidence and maturity as he settles into his role as Helen Narbon's IT guy he starts taking better care of his appearance. Quitting smoking (or rather retroactively never taking it up in the first place via Timey-Wimey Ball shenanigans) probably helped as well.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In the first season, Zuko is not exactly conventionally attractive (although he did get his fair share of the fangirls), what with his death-white skin, constant scowl, bright red scar covering a quarter of his face and a quite frankly bizarre hairstyle choice, but as the show goes on and he very slowly gets a Heel–Face Turn, his hair grows out and his skin tans slightly, which has the added benefit of making his scar less noticeable. He goes from scowling to moping and then smiling, and he even seems to bulk up a little. His Good Costume Switch helps as well.
    • Katara gets an Adrenaline Makeover at the beginning of season three as part of her Fire Nation disguise. After the disguise is no longer needed, she continues to wear her hair down and has somehow acquired more aesthetically appealing Water Tribe clothes (as opposed to the frock she had in the first two seasons).
  • From the sequel series The Legend of Korra, we have Tenzin's son Meelo. He was kind of ugly in season one with a big head, googly eyes, and several missing teeth. In season two he is much cuter as his head is more proportionate to his body, his eyes are more focused, and he has most of his teeth. The teeth at least can be justified as him having grown in new ones since he's a child. By Book 4, he's got all his teeth and has grown his hair out.
  • Betty Boop went through such a process during her Art Evolution. She started out as an anthropomorphic dog, and somehow ended up a cute flapper girl.
  • Randy from Bob's Burgers. In the first season he looked older and more wrinkly than he does in the later seasons.
  • Helga from Hey Arnold!, for most of season 1 she is pretty ugly with an ape like face, a thicker unibrow, a big nose, and a big overbite, from season 2 onwards her features are made softer and she gets cuter as a result.
  • Spunky the donkey foal from Hunky and Spunky, in their earlier cartoons he was Ugly Cute and had a huge head and a little body, as the series progressed Spunky was redesigned and became much cuter and his head was more proportionate to his body.
  • Both Hank and Peggy from King of the Hill benefited from this. Peggy received some color in her skin, lipstick and more normal looking eyes. Hank, though never what you'd call handsome, had the excess lines vanish from his face so he looked like a guy in his forties and not a constantly cranky old man.
  • At some point in the Popeye cartoons, Olive Oyl was made much prettier, with a shapelier figure and lipstick.
  • In Regular Show, Muscleman's girlfriend Starla is somewhat cuter now than she was in her initial appearance, having gone from a pug-faced Gonk to a more normal looking (albeit green-skinned) girl who's just chubby like her boyfriend. She also Took a Level in Kindness to go along with this design change.
  • While The Simpsons underwent a great deal of Art Evolution between the Tracey Ullman shorts and prime-time syndication, Marge Simpson in particular went from frumpy housewife to sex goddess (especially when she lets her hair down) and Ned Flanders went from a handsome but out-of-shape neighbor to muscle god (but only when shirtless).
  • Superfriends: In a drastic departure from the source material, Superman antagonist Bizarro started out as a straight-up villain and a member of the Legion of Doom in Challenge of the Superfriends. Bizarro's final appearance in the franchise's final series The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians not only made the character Truer to the Text by changing him into a well-meaning but not deliberately malevolent buffoon, but also made him more handsome that the ghoulish visage he sported in prior appearances (albeit still having a chalk-white and angular complexion).
  • No character from OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes has benefited more from this trope than Red Action. Initially sporting a hideous hairdo, sharp teeth and jaundice yellow skin, and while KO was able to give her (with Mr. Logic's help) a better hairdo in her first major appearance she didn't really get a better look until it was eventually toned down across her various episodes until she became a total knockout.
  • Probably coincides with Art Evolution and Character Development, but each season that passes in Ultimate Spider-Man (2012), Peter Parker goes from a plain, geeky looking kid in season one, to a more Bishōnen level by season 4. In-universe, it's justified by the fact that years go by while doing hero work as Spider-Man, with Peter's physique also growing in muscle and height.
  • The professor Palladium from Winx Club In-Universe. In the second season he appears to be much more confident and muscular, having evolved his form since he's an elf.

Alternative Title(s): Fail Polish