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The Nondescript

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I'd know that face anywhere.

"Don't use seven words when four will do. Don't shift your weight, look always at your mark but don't stare, be specific but not memorable, be funny but don't make him laugh. He's got to like you then forget you the moment you've left his side."
Robert "Rusty" Ryan, Ocean's Eleven

Basically, this trope is when a character is described as being "utterly unmemorable." They have a boring face, boring eyes, boring hair, they're not too tall or too short, they're not too fat or too thin, and their voice is often a monotone (but not so creepy that it's memorable). They might call themselves by a bland name like Mr. Smith. In short, the only reason they're interesting at all is because of how uninteresting they appear.

However, beneath that yawn-worthy exterior may lurk something very interesting indeed. The Nondescript is often a spy, or Con Man, or criminal, whose looks make it easy for him to get away with what he's doing because people either can't remember what he looks like or can't describe him well when they do. Other times, The Nondescript is just a Played for Laughs attribute of a character.

Certain characters take this to superpower levels: they aren't merely average looking, they are so nondescript that even the narrator seems unable to pin down any of their features — or, in fact, to tell us anything about them. One gets the impression that these characters are deliberately doing something to make themselves invisible in plain sight.

Usually occurs only in literature, because unmemorable and nondescript actors are hard to find and not particularly rewarding to film. When it does appear in a visual medium, the nondescriptness will often be an Informed Ability for just that reason.

This can be used to help the reader/viewer/player to imagine the character as themselves, resulting in a Featureless Protagonist. When it's aided by magic or scientific Phlebotinum it usually involves a Perception Filter. Related to He Who Must Not Be Seen. Compare The Spook, Suspect Is Hatless, Beneath Suspicion and Beneath Notice. Occasionally The Men in Black achieve this. Extreme examples tend to become outright Forgettable Characters.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ishimaru from Eyeshield 21 is frequently described as incredibly plain, often going unnoticed by teammates and even opposing players while on the field. The Devil Bats sometimes use this to their advantage by including him in crucial plays.
    • This trope is played with such as by having Ishimaru run in the invisible man costume at the school athletics festival or by making his box in the manga incredibly small.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex:
    • Gouda started out as one of these, a staid bureaucrat who was unnoticed by his co-workers, and when the protagonists look into his past, they find out that his colleagues only remember him for being totally unmemorable. This all changed one day when his face was badly disfigured in an accident, an event which he believes changed his "ghost" (his soul) and transformed him into a Machiavellian schemer. Despite the amount of prosthetics and advanced surgery available in this period, he decided to leave his face like that because it most certainly left more of an impression than his old one.
    • Major Kusanagi herself has a cyberbody apparently designed to resemble a generic model of cyborg or android, though her hair and clothing tend to make her distinct regardless.
  • Shinpachi from Gintama is described as this: During a "how to draw Shinpachi" segment, Gin instructs viewers to imagine the most boring and uninteresting face they can, then draw it. Also, at one point, Shinpachi is training to be a Highly-Visible Ninja, and manages to completely escape the notice of everyone in a crowded bookstore because, apparently, he is just that plain and unnoticeable. Even though he was wearing a cow costume at the time.
  • The main character of Kuroko's Basketball has this attribute and weaponizes it to relay passes while playing basketball.
    • Rakuzan High's Chihiro Mayuzumi has the same ability, and manages to stand out even less than Kuroko does. In his first appearance, we don't even learn his name, and his face is obstructed by his hair, giving him the appearance of just being a random stand-in who's only there because basketball teams need five players on the court.
  • Natsumi in Negima! Magister Negi Magi, which naturally causes her a bit of an identity crisis when she realizes that while everyone else she knows is interesting and have made valuable contributions to the group, she's just "that one girl who's there".
  • This trope is a trait carried by several of the Black Rose Duelists of Revolutionary Girl Utena; with Kozue, Wakaba, and Keiko being the most affected. Kozue was this when she was younger due to being overshadowed by her twin brother Miki's genius piano skills, whereas she was both mediocre in skill and an anxious performer. Wakaba is a heartbreaking case of I Just Want to Be Special - the only way she can feel good is by helping others because she feels that she doesn't stand out in any other way. And Keiko is part of a Girl Posse that serves Nanami; when she breaks away from them briefly for a chance meeting with local casanova and crush Touga (who is also Nanami's older brother), both Nanami and the two other girls ostracize her severely. After her duel with Utena, it comes to a head when we find out that Utena doesn't know Keiko's name.
    • There's also Wakaba's childhood friend Tatsuya, a Dogged Nice Guy to such proportions that Wakaba doesn't even notice his feelings. To make matters worse, Tatsuya's nickname is onion prince (referring to something as an onion, in Japan, means that it's shoddy or third-rate), and despite having his unrequited feelings and inferiority cause him emotional turmoil, Mikage deems him sound enough to be rejected from the Black Rose duels.
  • Momoko from the Mahjong anime Saki takes this to supernatural level. When you're in a game where everyone is watching everyone else for a chance of quick victory, it's a tremendous advantage.
  • Kagerou Usui of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei is this dialed up to 11. He fades into the background to the point of being at risk of getting run over by cars on the street. His name even derives from a Japanese phrase for "overshadowed". He is very annoyed at his lack of presence, but it also has advantages for him since he's a Covert Pervert.
  • Blandon from Yo-kai Watch is a ninja-like yokai that can blend in anywhere. Humans he inspirits become incredibly plain and unnoticeable.

  • John Mulaney, before going into his past as a blackout drunk who got up to many feats of Alcohol-Induced Idiocy, says that he won't blame the audience for thinking he's making it up, because "I don't look like the kind of guy who 'used to do' anything." He describes himself as being so utterly average and boring in appearance that he looks like he's spent his entire life locked in a featureless room eating nothing but flavourless crackers before exiting directly out onto the stage a minute ago.

    Comic Books 
  • Héliacin Glainglain in the Achille Talon story "L'Appeau d'Ephèse"note  is a kleptomaniac Undescript.
    • In fact, the common-ness of the character allowed the artist to include him in crowd shots throughout the book, long before Talon actually meets the fellow. To the reader who notices this character who appears in several unrelated moments unlike the rest of the background characters who are all unique, this can count as Foreshadowing.
  • In a two-part story in Batman #542-543, Batman hunts a Serial Killer known as 'Faceless'. Faceless turns out to be an ordinary mailman, and all of his victims were people on his route: all of whom saw him every day, and none of whom noticed him or could remember a thing about him.
  • The DCU:
    • There's John Doe, the Generic Man, who takes this to the logical extreme (that other extreme examples somehow manage to avoid) by being so generic and drab in appearance that he stands out spectacularly. He's literally featureless, except for a label on his chest that says "(person)". He can, by touching them, make other objects as undefined as he is.
    • And then there's Agent ! from Doom Patrol, who dresses and acts with the intention to shock, but nobody notices him, and his power is, explicitly, the ability to go unnoticed. He's a subversion in the fact that he has many very distinguishing features; for one, his chest is a birdcage with a toy biplane inside of it. (If you guessed this character was created by Grant Morrison, give yourself a gold star.)
  • Subverted with inspector Ginko from Diabolik: while he can be described as having a face similar to Diabolik but without everything that makes Diabolik's looks distinctive, his distinctive red and black striped tie makes him everything but... As long as he's wearing it.
  • One of Max Allan Collins's last storylines in Dick Tracy before leaving the title in the 80's involved a criminal of this type. His face is never shown on-panel, and — highly unusually for a Dick Tracy story — he successfully escapes at the end, even though his evil plan was thwarted. When Tracy is asked for a description of the guy so the police can search, he has no choice but to shrug and admit he can't remember what he looked like.
  • Zandar, Zartan's brother from the G.I. Joe comics was this kind of guy. He is so unnoticeable that in one instance, Zandar was literally sat upon, as it was thought the chair was empty. Admittedly, he is a master of camouflage and can easily hide in plain sight. So, it's like sitting on a chameleon, it's not really your fault for not noticing him when he's trying not to be noticed.
  • Aljabra Gihom in Gold Digger has a variation of this. She's noticeable enough when she's awake, but she has a habit of falling asleep while sitting in odd places, and being so still and unobtrusive that people casually mistake her for furniture. She's quite used to having people set coffee cups on her head or start to sit down on her.
  • The title character of the indie comic Mister Blank, a totally ordinary office-worker turned Badass Normal fighting an Ancient Conspiracy. He's so normal-looking the artist just drew the minimal facial features of eyes and a mouth.
  • During Mark Millar's Spider-Man run, Vulture comes to this conclusion after seeing Peter Parker's face for the first time. He angrily throws the youth to his supposed death, exclaiming that all these years he had thought Spider-Man must be someone famous, only to find out he was just a "nobody" that might as well be working at a gas station.
  • Aline Pagrovna from Strikeforce: Morituri explains this was why she volunteered to sacrifice her life to become a superhero — she was perpetually ignored as uninteresting by everyone else around her, and decided a year of attention was preferable to a lifetime of apathy.
  • Superman is, at least during the Silver Age of comics. There were SO many people that just happened to look like him, from his father to a random thug, that he could often take a day off by having someone else replace him in either of his identities. Even in modern stories, while Superman is a well-known icon, Clark Kent is about average height, with a generic haircut and no real identifying marks, making him fairly nondescript—which helps a lot with Clark Kenting.

    Fan Works 
  • One Harry Potter Alternate Universe fanfic titled The Art of Hidden Personas has the main character, Hadrian Walker, basically Harry born and grown under different circumstances, assumes such a disguise. It is made possible via copious use of advanced glamours and also unremarkable behavior. When attention is brought upon him most of the Hogwarts staff have trouble putting a face to his name and even Chessmaster Dumbledore is affected.
  • Juleka is made this by magic in The Downfall Akuma, to facilitate her work as an assassin and bodyguard.
  • Forward is a Firefly fanfic with multiple types of psychics, including one known as "Inducers." Inducers can manipulate emotions in others, including apathy and interest, and one uses this to remain completely unnoticeable. She can go as far as walking herself and a mind-controlled River right past the rest of the crew while they're distracted by an injured Mal without anyone noticing.
  • Kohaku Namikaze nee Zoishin of A Growing Affection is this. She was passed over for promotion twice because while everyone remembered the fights she was in, no-one remembered that she was one of the participants. And her parents left her behind on family vacation because they did not realize she was not there.
  • Yuki and Kuyou in Kyon: Big Damn Hero have the ability to do this on a temporary basis. People are aware enough of them not to walk into them, but do not recognize them and are not aware of what they are doing.
  • In Luminosity, this is Allirea's power.
  • Make a Wish: Harry's disguise "Mr. Black" is supposed to be completely unremarkable, but because he didn't bother to Read the Freaking Manual, he's instead noteworthy because no one can remember any distinguishing features or describe him.
  • The phantom interviewer in Oriana The Unauthorized Accounts, a Felix the Cat: The Movie fanfic, appears to have this ability.
  • In The Story to End All Stories, Sherlock says they should be looking for someone who fits this description.
  • The Naruto fanfiction Training for the Job introduces Munamoto Sousou, a rather shy and quiet ninja academy student. Ino, who is assigned to evaluate Sousou's espionage talents shortly before graduation, describes her as, "So unassuming that she makes people overlook her, making her ideal for civilian infiltration."
  • Ardav, one of the Dalns gods in With Strings Attached, is magically nondescript to the point where no one can remember what the sexless god looks like; thinking of it brings up a blank humanoid mannequin.

    Films — Animation 
  • Emmet of The LEGO Movie, who has the face of a generic LEGO minifig. He's so nondescript that the villain's forces have a hard time identifying him at first because he looks like everyone else — his face pulls false positives from every single other face in their database. Also deconstructed because this means that no-one that he interacts with on a daily basis even knows what's so special about him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Can't Hardly Wait, when Amanda is trying to find out who Preston is (though she may have also asked the wrong person):
    Stoner Guy: Preston? I dunno, his hair's kinda, I dunno, brown?
    Matt, Watermelon Guy: No, it's not really brown. Oh, he's tall.
    Stoner Guy: Yeah, he's kinda kinda tall. Sorta tall. And he's like always wearing like T-shirts.
    Amanda Becket: So, he's sort of tall?
    Stoner Guy: Kind of.
    Amanda Becket: With... hair?
    Stoner Guy: Yeah.
    Amanda Becket: And he wears t-shirts sometimes?
    Stoner Guy: Yeah.
  • The assassin Vincent in Collateral consciously invokes this trope, making himself nondescript by coupling his gray hair with clothing entirely of gray. Supposedly, as training, the director even had Tom Cruise deliver a package in a public place with nobody recognizing him.
  • There's a creepy, possibly alien guy in the horror movie The Forgotten with rather short brown hair, brown eyes, a blank, ordinary face... and he's Immune to Bullets.
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: How Luna Lovegood describes Harry Potter after fixing his broken nose: "Exceptionally ordinary."
  • Invoked in Men in Black and then some, though results vary. Their appearance is designed to have no distinguishing mark, to leave no lasting impression, to be easily dismissed. Then they delete all of your personal records, history, everything, until what's left is your first initial, and that will be your name from there on. And for good measure, they bring Neuralyzer on top of those.
  • Jean-Baptiste Grenouille from Perfume possesses a superhuman sense of smell and eventually becomes a mass murderer. However, he has no scent of his own, causing people to instinctively treat him as a cipher beneath their notice. Even a watchdog ignores him. This is part of his motivation to create the perfect scent.
  • Christopher Lloyd as a gentlemanly armed robber in Twenty Bucks states as a "life lesson" that "a well-dressed man is invisible", in that people will only remember the clothes, not the face.

  • In the Alex Rider series, John Crawley is described as having "the sort of face you forgot even while you were looking at it".
  • The unnamed man in the dark suit in Neil Gaiman's American Gods, who appears in several scenes and is so elusive and indistinct that even his lines in the dialogue are obscured: we are merely told that he "said something" or "nodded in reply and made a comment". Each time Shadow asks his employer (possibly the single character who remembers anything about the unnamed god, including his name) who the man in the dark suit is, he finds his mind momentarily wandering so that he misses hearing the response.
  • A shapeshifting alien in Animorphs is trying to pass himself off as human. When the main characters see his morph, it is described as, "the kind of guy who would disappear instantly in a crowd. The kind of guy who would blend. The kind of guy Jake might have become if Fate hadn't chosen a spectacularly odd path for him."
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: Justus, Ferdinand's spy, is described as having features that are either extremely common or within the average, resulting in him being able to disappear in a crowd.
  • Mr. Hopkins in The Bartimaeus Trilogy who turns out to be The Man Behind the Man (or possibly the man behind the man behind the man). Fittingly, we never learn his actual motivations for helping the first two villains - by the time he acquires a personality, he's been possessed by Faquarl.
  • In Best Served Cold attributes this quality to Day, apprentice to the Master Poisoner assassin Morveer. Morveer describes her looks as an asset to their work- she's attractive enough to put people at ease, but not so attractive as to be distracting/memorable.
  • In the first book of the Black Blade series, Grant uses illusion magic to look utterly gorgeous when working for his patrons and his utterly unremarkable natural appearance when plotting against them.
  • The book version of The Bourne Identity from the The Bourne Series specifically notes that this is one of Jason's defining traits, an utterly average face that allows him to easily disguise himself.
  • Mademoiselle Blanche in Cat Among the Pigeons is so nondescript that she can impersonate her deceased sister without even changing the passport photograph.
  • The assassin Magdalena Crouch is like this in J.V. Jones's A Cavern of Black Ice. No two people who have seen her can agree on her real age, her hair or eye color, or any other feature of her appearance. Her only distinctive feature is her beautiful voice.
  • Former Cuban spy Felix Cortez was able to enter and exit the US at will in Clear and Present Danger because while the FBI had his description, it was so generic (early middle aged Latino male, average height and build, no distinguishing features) that it was useless.
  • Dimitrios, the archvillain of A Coffin for Dimitrios manages to escape capture despite all of his crimes and betrayals, because he's quite ordinary looking apart from his terrifying eyes. The descriptions of him from a co-worker, an ex-lover, and a former employer are so general that they could fit thousands of people. At one point an older, well-dressed Dimitrios is described as looking like a diplomat at a state dinner, but a fairly unimportant guest who no one would pay attention to and would fade into the background.
  • Johnson in The Creeping Shadow. He is described as having a curiously vague appearance such that even as Lucy looked at him, the details slipped away from her. He has nondescript brown hair and a bland, slightly shapeless face, and no distinguishing features that would pick him out in a crowd.
  • Dead Souls has an unusual example where this backfires, because people are somewhat Genre Savvy (or at least Wrong Genre Savvy). The protagonist Chichikov is fairly nondescript, having a blandly polite and charming personality and being neither handsome nor ugly. However, the oddity of his behavior- buying the records of dead peasants from landowners- is such that people start to think up odd theories about him, such as that he's the ghost of a mistreated war hero returned for revenge, or that he's Napoleon in disguise. It also doesn't help that because of the "buying souls" metaphor, he seems a lot like Satan in a The Devil Is a Loser depiction.
  • Discworld:
    • Moist von Lipwig is said to look extremely unmemorable, which is perfect for a Con Man. He helps matters along by adding some identifying feature such as wearing fake nose or ear hair because that is invariably the only feature his victims will remember. In his persona as Postmaster, he wears a ridiculously flashy gold suit and winged hat, and is able to go incognito simply by not wearing this Iconic Outfit.
    • Stratford from Snuff is pretty nondescript, that is until he gets mad. That's when he starts to really look like Stratford.
    • Witches such as Granny Weatherwax and Tiffany Aching can magically generate a personal Perception Filter - they don't become invisible, just part of the scenery.
    • The young Vetinari manages this without magic in Night Watch, training himself to stand perfectly still and eschewing the usual Assassin jet-blacknote  for more drab colours.
  • Dragaera: Exploited by assassins.
    • Kragar is so easily ignored that people never seem to notice when he enters a room, usually causing an inadvertent Stealth Hi/Bye. He was originally a member of the House of the Dragon, but because no one would pay attention to his orders, he had to become a mobster of the Jhereg.
    • Mario Greymist, The Dreaded top assassin of the Jhereg, turns out to be a plain, pleasant-looking man.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • A ghoul assassin like this shows up in book 4.
    • Martin, the epitome of this trope, shows up in Death Masks. He deliberately cultivates this in every aspect, as a way of suppressing his infection. This is also very handy in the battlefield, as the enemy fighters, wizards, and snipers do not consider him a threat at all.
    • In Fool Moon, Dresden whips up a potion that can turn him into this, temporarily, and he uses it to fairly good effect to avoid being killed by a giant Loup Garou.
    • In Turn Coat, Harry describes P.I. Vince Graver in this way:
      The only exceptional thing about his appearance was that there was nothing exceptional about his appearance.
  • Alias from the Evil Genius Trilogy is described as having a "strangely unmemorable voice" and says he can pull off so many disguises because he's "on the average side".
  • In The Fountainhead, when Gail Wynand is starting up his newspaper, the Banner, he brings a man who looks just like this into the newspaper offices and tells his journalistic team that this is their target audience.
  • Gentleman Bastard: Locke is frequently described as scrawnier than normal, but otherwise he's said to be very nondescript. The fact that he appears half Vadran and half Therin allows him to pass as either. His unexceptional appearance helps him be the Master of Disguise of the Bastards. Jean is very large, while the Sanza twins have large, hooked noses.
  • Good Omens: Pollution, whose ridiculously nondescript appearance allows him to take jobs in places that let him cause the most damage he can, but is so indescribable people will never remember he was there, or what he was doing when the disaster began.
  • Also a Gaiman example, Nobody Owens (it's in the name) from The Graveyard Book has this as an ability he learns from living among ghosts. He's so average-looking that nobody even remembers he's there unless he wants them to.
  • The 80s restart called The Hardy Boys Casefiles features a character called "The Gray Man" who is recruited as a secret agent because he is so nondescript.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series:
    • At least one Herald has been picked out for "special training" specifically because he was so nondescript.
    • After Skif joins Bazie's gang in Take a Thief, he thinks one of the other boys is incredibly fortunate to look this way because unless he's actually caught with his hand in someone's pouch, the victim won't be able to describe him to the city guard. Eventually, that thief gets caught with his hand in a noble's pouch. Oops.
  • In Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune this is explicitly stated as the reason Dama, the leader of the Honored Matres, was able to come to power and stay in power. Before coming to power her utterly plain and unremarkable appearance kept people from taking her as a serious threat, and after coming to power prevented people from successfully plotting against her because no one could remember who she was or what she looked like. Those closest to her know better and are completely terrified of her.
  • His Dark Materials:
    • This is the "magic" witches use to become invisible: since actual invisibility is impossible, they just make themselves very, very nondescript, causing everyone to simply ignore them.
    • Will Parry also does a version of this; he is introduced as someone who, because of his mother's mental illness and the responsibilities it puts upon him, has learned to escape the notice of others in order to avoid being taken by social services. He later demonstrates this talent by shaking the attention he's gathered from a crowd by pretending to be dull and stupid.
  • Ian Fleming originally designed James Bond to be this sort of character, originally conceiving of him as a Pinball Protagonist "to whom interesting things happened". His name was even chosen because it was boring, appropriated from the name of a moderately famous ornithologist. That said, he's generally agreed to be good-looking, and has a detailed physical description, especially when Russian intelligence is looking over the case of Bond.
    • In Moonraker, as news gets out of a sensational murder-suicide (declared to be) over a woman, interested parties go out of their way to come up with a picture for the press that... doesn't not look like her, but communicates little that could be used to actually pick her out.
  • Granta Omega of Jedi Quest is a Force Blank. He has no connection to the Force whatsoever, and as such, is almost immediately forgotten by people after he leaves them, and is undetectable via the force.
  • In Johnny Maxwell Trilogy's Only You Can Save Mankind, when Johnny contacts Kirsty in gamespace and says he was one of the boys at the computer shop earlier, she tries to work out which one by giving decent descriptions of all his friends, then says she didn't notice anyone else. Johnny's reply is "Yes, that was me."
  • In King David's Spaceship, Malcolm Dougal, head of the Haven Secret Police, is described this way.
  • Both main characters in the Knight and Rogue Series are perfectly average looking. Michael does have a scar on his face, but this is only used to identify him if he's already made himself stand out. Otherwise, it's been stated that it's easier to find the two by asking if anyone has seen their horses.
  • In the novel The Kouga Ninja Scrolls, the Master of Disguise Saemon is described as having a face that is instantly forgettable. While as noted in the page description, this is a hard trope to do visually, it does seem likely that the manga/anime adaptation Basilisk aimed at depicting this, since while he has Eyes Always Shut that hide rather shifty eyes, his features are otherwise pretty bland.
  • The Laundry Files: The Labyrinth Index mentions a type of spy called a Gray Man, who is so unremarkable and nondescript that they vanish from plain sight. This is described in relationship to Derek, who is not a Gray Man, but a rarer type of spy called the the Man of No Consequence, who is easily noticed but instantly dismissed — fortunately for him, since he has no experience with spycraft. This lets him blend into a crowd of Korean tourists despite clearly being neither Korean nor a tourist, and infiltrate a government building because anyone who sees him assumes he's either harmlessly lost and/or someone else's problem.
  • In Life of Pi, Pi's spiritual adviser Mr. Kumar (not the atheist one) is described as being so average looking that at one point he worries about being unable to pick him out of a crowd when they're set to meet at his family's zoo.
  • Carlotta Adams in Lord Edgware Dies has an indistinct appearance that "could take on an alien character easily, but had recognisable character of its own".
  • Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective.
    She was not tall, she was not short; she was not dark, she was not fair; she was neither handsome nor ugly. Her features were altogether nondescript...
  • Sheftu, the male lead of Eloise McGraw's Mara, Daughter of the Nile, exploits this in his role as double agent for the king. He's even complimented on it by two of the other characters. However, when he's in his day job, he's perfectly capable of appearing glitteringly resplendent, and women—including the title character—tend to find him very attractive, despite not being conventionally handsome.
  • Inverted in The Mysterious Affair at Styles, where part of the murderer's ploy was built on the fact that the victim's husband Alfred Inglethorp, was not only easy to remember, but also easy to disguise as.
  • In the The Mysterious Benedict Society books, Reynie Muldoon. Towards the beginning of the first book, he is described as being "...the least noticeable of boys. He was of average size, of an average pale complexion, his brown hair was of average length, and he wore average clothes." Later in the same book, he and Kate are spying on activities in the gym at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened when he is suddenly spotted by S.Q. Pedalian. However, he doesn't get caught because, as Kate explains...
    They were questioning students when Constance and I came down the hill. Nobody saw you. Jackson asked us and we told the same story. He was yelling at S.Q.: "Is that really the best you can say? An average-looking boy? An awful lot of boys are average-looking, S.Q.!" And, poor S.Q., he just kept arguing that this boy was especially average-looking. Jackson seemed ready to strangle him.
  • Serge Storms: Orange Crush, there's a minor character named Joe Blow, who is totally average in both appearance and habits. So average that he is the perfect barometer to predict who the population as a whole will vote for, resulting in him getting stalked by the media every election cycle.
  • This is Inspector Jack Robinson's major physical trait in the Phryne Fisher novels, and it makes him a very efficient policeman. Even people he has arrested cannot remember what he looks like.
  • Repairman Jack is described as a generic "Pale Male", a natural image he also carefully cultivates to prevent himself from being IDed.
  • Wren Valere from Laura Gilman's Retrievers series often appears this way as a side affect of her magical talent. It helps her in her career as a professional thief/retriever, but also hinders her when she wants people to listen to her.
  • The eponymous Reynard from The Reynard Cycle is described as being extremely average looking when not in disguise. Basically, his face is a blank slate that can be molded into almost anything.
  • The demon in Running with the Demon is a bland looking man with smooth features, light blond hair, and pale blue eyes. He can sit down next to you, join your conversation, and everyone there will be convinced they know him; his name is just on the tip of their tongue, but they can't quite remember it. When he leaves, they forget all about him. Being a soulless Bitch in Sheep's Clothing helps in this regard.
  • The book The Schwa Was Here is about a character who's so nondescript that not only do people not remember him, nobody notices him in the first place.
  • At one point in John le Carré's The Secret Pilgrim, Ned is waiting for The Spymaster George Smiley at a train station and at several points thinks he sees him walking towards him to realize that it's actually another elderly, slightly annoyed looking older man. He then muses to himself that this probably helped Smiley in his chosen profession a great deal.
  • The guy from Shatterpoint who delivers a report on events from Haruun Kal. He's so nondescript that Mace Windu immediately pegs him for a spy.
  • Shiraori of So I'm a Spider, So What? uses a camouflage magic which interferes with people's ability to perceive her features. Unless they spend enough time around her or already know what she looks like, they will only perceive her as being "white".
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has few knocking about:
    • The Tickler is a Torture Technician in a company of particularly loathsome men-at-arms, but is in all other respects totally nondescript and ordinary.
    • Mance Rayder, the "King Beyond the Wall" is described as rather unimpressive, looking like your average 40-something man. When Jon first sees Mance, he instantly dismisses him as a bard, since he's strumming a lute, and assumes that the more martial-looking Styr is the King Beyond the Wall.
    • Davos Seaworth was a successful smuggler for years. And, for very many sound reasons: he is shrewd, is loyal to his own, is a fountain of common sense, gives workable advice and is a fairly nifty reader of people — traits that helped him rise to becoming a Lord. However, he could also win prizes in the Mr Physiognomically Average Contest for the Westeros, Braavos and Andolos regional rounds (and, arguably a few more places besides). Which definitely won't have hurt his original job description, at all. This comes into play when Wyman Manderly fakes Davos' execution as part of his revenge plans against the Freys, Boltons and Lannisters. Davos is eminently swappable with a few inmates you may have knocking about in prison. Whichever prison. And, with only minimal props added for effect (and just to make sure you sell the whole shtick).
    • A historical version of one shows up in The Hedge Knight. Prince Daeron "the Drunkard" Targaryen carried a disguise with him at all times: he was sandy-haired, not particularly striking to look at if not downright plain (so much so, even violet eyes didn't stand out), of medium height and build, not particularly noteworthy in upper-class behavioural ticks (besides the getting-drunk-a-lot thing) and, thus, so unlike your standard Pretty Boy Targaryen high on airs and low on sense and/or manners, you'd not have a clue who he was, unless you knew him personally. Which is why it took his own father going out to hunt for him to successfully find him when he decided to get himself lost in various taverns, once... Guardsmen alone hadn't a hope in hell of spotting this particular barfly within a swarm of others.
  • Trevor Blake from the Star Trek: Voyager Relaunch novel The Farther Shore is described as physically nondescript, and his personality is rather quiet and boring. Then it turns out he's part of the project to create a new Borg Queen.
  • Tofu's go-to appearance in Super Minion. He purposefully chose the most generic set of features from the humans he observed, both to avoid standing out and so that if he needed to unexpectedly assume a more specific disguise he would probably be closer.
  • Magdelena Crouch, aka the Crouching Maiden, a Dark Action Girl assassin from the Sword of Shadows series, is like this- she's so unremarkable that people tend to fill in details about what she looks like from their own imagination- though she's memorable owing to being a strong personality, two people who met her could describe her to each other and never know they were talking about the same person. The effect is implied to be mildly supernatural.
  • In the shared anthology Temps, about people with superhuman powers being called in to work for the British government, one story tells of a young Pakistani man who is constantly ignored, people don't listen to him, they talk over his head, etc. When called in to do his Temps duty in a hostage crisis the people in charge ignore him, but he goes in, more or less accidentally "talks down" the hostage taker (who thinks he was already in the building) and leaves unthanked and unnoticed. He never shows any signs of the power of a "Temp" until the last line in the story, where we learn his codename is... The Invisible Boy.
  • The ancient Roman mystery Terra Incognita has an agent-with-special-powers, an aide to a senior military officer, named Metellus who is like this. He doesn't do any undercover work, but his lack of distinguishing features adds to his blandly amoral creepiness.
  • Those That Wake has Man In Suit, who's described as just that; everything from his face to his clothing is so plain and blank it's impossible to describe.
  • A minor character in a Tom Swift/Hardy Boys crossover book is like this. He is a thief who steals rare documents by simply walking out with them, confident no-one could remember enough about him to track him down.
  • In Transformers: Exiles, Makeshift's Shapeshifter Default Form is described as "so anonymous that it was practically impossible for anyone who saw him once to describe him accurately."
  • Travis McGee takes full advantage of his own generally unremarkable appearance in his investigations; his height — 6'5" — is literally the only thing most people remember about him. He occasionally puts lifts in his shoes to make it even harder for them to remember anything else.
  • The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign has "Librarian-chan", whose name is not remembered by any of her classmates. She deliberately invokes the Bookworm trope so people will remember her for something; in truth, she only owns a few books.
    "Hey, Librarian-chan, what’s that on your swimsuit’s nametag? Some kind of nickname?"
    "It’s my real name! Who would write 'Librarian' on here!?"
  • In Robert Brockway's The Unnoticeables, the titular Unnoticeables are a crowd of Humanoid Abomination who are described as "looking human but not quite". They seem to have a psychic effect on people where those looking at them are compelled to not care about what they are or what they look like. Carey even has a moment where he is having difficulty even fighting one of them without feeling disinterested.
  • Wheezer in the Warhammer novel Hammers of Ulric uses this ability to his advantage to pick pockets and live like an Artful Dodger in the city of Middenheim.
    • The Emperor of Mankind seems to have some sort of glamour on him that allows him to appear to be the idealogized version of a man to whoever gazes upon him. Any blanks like the Sisters of Silence see past this and thus know he is a very nondescript, dark haired man. This isn't surprising given that he is so powerful that he can hide behind illusions or even transform into anything he desires.
    • In the Ciaphas Cain books, Cain mentions the Lord General's personal psyker is, unusually, very powerful while still being sane with the only issue being that he has a dull and boring personality. On top of that, he is incredibly non-descript and even after several meetings, Cain can't even remember the faintest detail about him. Again, like the Emperor, this makes sense. Powerful in control psykers aren't likely to develop mutations or heed the whisperings of the warp. They can very neatly sidestep the dangers of their powers and be incredibly well adjusted. This is what makes these psykers so dangerous. You could be standing next to the most powerful psyker in the universe and not know it. The Emperor made it a point once he came out of hiding that everyone who gazed at him would know EXACTLY how powerful he was.
  • In the novel Watership Down and its animated adaptation, Hazel is a very nondescript rabbit, compared to his co-stars' distinguishing features (Bigwig's head-tuft, Blackberry's tipped ears, Fiver's and Pipkin's small size). Rabbits meeting his band for the first time invariably assume somebody else is the leader until told otherwise.
  • Whale Talk: Swim team member Jackie Craig is described as a "chameleon" who looks and acts so averagely that if he robbed a bank, no one would be able to describe him.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • The Grey Men, assassins for the Big Bad, have this going on at the level of a Perception Filter, and use their nondescriptness to slip through crowds and get up close to their target. It is said that a Grey Man coming at you with a knife is less noticeable than the leg of a chair. Whenever they attempt to assassinate someone, their actions are mentioned in the text a while before anyone notices them.
    • A late book in the series introduces a non-supernatural version with a man named Hark, a pickpocket who in the course of his career has stolen thousands of wallets. They'd never have caught him if he hadn't kept them all as souvenirs. He's sent to track a minor villain who had previously killed every spy set to watch him.
  • Nice Guy from Worm, an ex-ex-member of the Slaughterhouse Nine, had this as a superpower. When we finally see him in action, it's...not pleasant.
  • The villain of Aaron Elkins's The Worst Thing went so far as to have surgery to make his ears and nose look more average. He's often stopped in the street and told that he looks just like some actor who had a bit part in a single episode of a TV show—but it's never the same actor.
  • Grey Murphy in the Xanth series. His driver's license lists his hair as "hair-colored" and his eyes as "neutral".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrested Development: Ann Veal, George Michael's girlfriend. She is bland in both personality and appearance, prompting George Michael's family to constantly forget she's around and screw up her name. They often wonder what George Michael sees in her ("Is she funny or something?"). Whenever George Michael says something complimentary about her, he's met with a dubious "Her?" However, this is downplayed later in the series when she becomes very religious.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The Mayor is just an average smiling politician, right? Wrong.
    • The episode "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" had a girl, Marcie Ross, who was so nondescript that no-one noticed her. She was never called on in class or spoken to by her peers. Eventually, a combination of quantum mechanics and the fact that the school is built over a Hellmouth turned her invisible. When her existence is revealed, she is implied to have been living in the school air vents for months without being reported missing. Willow and Xander don't know who she is, despite having had three classes with her the previous year. Marcie's goal is revenge on those who ignored her, through revenge and mutilation. At the end of the episode, she is taken away by The Men in Black to a classroom of likewise invisible people, to be trained in espionage and assassination.
      Buffy: [showing a yearbook she found in the vents] Have a nice summer, have a nice summer... every signature.
      Giles: Once again, I stand on the edge of the generation gap—
      Buffy: "Have a nice summer" is what you write when you have absolutely nothing else to say.
      Willow: It's the social kiss of death.
  • Burn Notice: An assassin sent to kill Michael Westen certainly qualifies. He's shortish, chubby, with thinning brown hair and glasses. He's just another bureaucrat sent to review Michael's file. Until he asks for a drink and whips out a garrote. Spies show contempt for bureaucrats, meaning they're the perfect cover.
  • The unsub in one Criminal Minds episode started killing because he was one of these and was angry that no one noticed him.
  • Dexter: The title character's traditional killing outfit consists of a drab, long-sleeved Henley shirt and khaki cargo pants, which are nondescript enough to avoid standing out in most settings.
  • On The Drew Carey Show, Lewis and Oswald once boasted to Drew that their greatest edge in trying to meet women was being completely forgettable, thus any woman who turns them down would always give them a second chance a few years later by means of having forgotten them already. They go on to try to pick up a pair of girls who turn them down immediately, but they merely smirk and say "See you in ten years!"
  • Firefly has this with Lawrence Dobson who looks to be nothing special, and loses anything interesting about him whatsoever when you see Simon wearing the most villainous getup you can imagine.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Bronn is grungy, unkempt, unshaven, and constantly wears the same black leather armour even when he can afford better clothes. That way, he stays blended into the background until it's too late for you to realise he's a lot more dangerous than you gave him credit for.
    • The Tickler has a totally average, unremarkable appearance and carries out his horrible actions with casual nonchalance.
  • Thomas from season 17 of The Mole (Dutch version) came across as a quiet, generically good-looking guy who faded into the background compared to other contestants like Imanuelle, Diederik, Sanne, and Jochem. This made him an ideal Mole who remained undetected by all but one contestant for the entire season.
  • In one episode of The Persuaders!, an assassin is set on the heroes' tail. He is just an aging, thin, unattractive man who is normally a repairman when he's not taking jobs like this. He attributes his success to the fact that he is always The Everyman who no-one ever notices or suspects.
  • Psych: Discussed when Henry describes a woman he was set up with as nondescript and Shawn remarks that he's only heard someone say that when discussing a crime scene.
  • Alex, Paul and Jess of The Real Hustle don't usually use disguises except for fake names, but are never recognised by their marks. Then again, the magic of editing means it probably happens, but we just never see it ("Hey, aren't you that guy off TV?")
  • Would I Lie to You?: In the first episode of series 7, David Mitchell (Actor) claims truthfully that it is his ambition to be The Nondescript:
    David: One of the codes by which I live my life is that my appearance should be in no way noteworthy, but then again, not so unnoteworthy as to be in itself noteworthy.note 

    Myths & Religion 
  • Believe it or not, Jesus. The Four Gospels heavily imply that he was very generic-looking, since the soldiers who came to arrest him couldn't pick him out, and even his own disciples had trouble recognizing him after his resurrection.

  • In the second episode of The Magnus Archives the statement giver recounts his meeting with a "man" calling itself John. The statement giver has trouble recalling any details about John beyond the color of its hair and its vaguely British accent; the harder he tries to recall details, the more hazy the memory gets. This even extended to John's clothes, as when John gave the statement giver some money he doesn't remember what article of clothing had the pocket that the money was withdrawn from. A much later episode reveals that 'John' was a thing of the Stranger, one of "shifting names and deja vu."
  • Welcome to Night Vale:
    • The Man In The Tan Jacket, who is is said to be completely unmemorable. Witnesses can't describe him outside of noting that he wears a tan jacket and carries a briefcase full of flies.
    • Our narrator Cecil (and his counter-part Kevin) who described each other as being neither tall nor short, neither fat nor thin, having various human features like a nose and a mouth, but with odd smiles. The creators have gone on record as saying that Cecil will remain this way, so that he can look however fans want him to. Quite a number of fan artists have settled on the idea of a dark-skinned man with messy hair and a literal third eye.

  • John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: Exaggerated in one sketch where a woman in an office asks a co-worker to pass a message along to another co-worker, but is unable to sufficiently describe any sort of identifying feature, even height or hair colour. The punchline comes at the end of the sketch: He's her husband.

  • Ata from Dino Attack RPG. Because of his status as The Generic Guy, he was the perfect candidate to eventually be revealed as The Mole.
  • Pirate Lady Corazon Rivadeneira from Open Blue is so nondescript that even the paintings she modeled for can't agree on how she looks like. It's implied to be a supernatural power.
  • Juliana from Solomon Academy isn't normally this, but she has the power to shed her identity and vanish. It's not exactly invisibility, but people cannot process any distinguishing information about her, so it might as well be.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Book of Unremitting Horror has "The Man in The Bar", an Outer Dark Entity that confuses everyones senses, making sure that it has no discernable features to be identified by any witnesses. Which is perfect for hunting its prey at Bars.
  • In the Champions adventure "Red Doom", the character Disinformer has this quality, which is why he's one of the KGB's top spies.
  • Dark Heresy has the talent "Unremarkable", usually taken as a starting ability. Mind you, in this game you can also take chemical castration, nanite blood, and replacing half your brain with a computer as talents.
    • Black Crusade adds the "Illusion of Normalcy" mutation, which hides all mutations, blasphemous tattoos etc. in addition to giving "Unremarkable".
  • Likewise, there is a magical ability called "Incognito" in Deadlands that does nothing to alter its user's appearance, but instead makes him or her really, really, supernaturally... uninteresting. No surprise that it's under the purview of the Hucksters, arcane practitioners often described as "shifty".
  • One of the Dungeons & Dragons splatbooks describe a nondescript box you can hide items in. It's not invisible, but anyone looking for it must pass a search check or they will ignore it. "It's just another plain box."
  • The Sidereal Exalted may be nondescript or attention-grabbing, as their individual natures dictate, but the Arcane Fate ensures that any non-Sidereal who meets them will find them very hard to remember...even more so when all traces of their existence, from footprints to pictures to bureaucratic records, get lost, are accidentally destroyed or defaced, or mysteriously vanish. Unfortunately for their social lives, they can't turn it off.
  • In Geist: The Sin-Eaters, this is a power you can inflict on others.
  • In GURPS, having a nondescript appearance is a perk that causes people to just naturally assume you're not involved in things.
  • In the 1980s James Bond 007: Role-Playing In Her Majesty's Secret Service roleplaying game, a nondescript appearance costs more character points than an attractive one. This fits the setting (where agents tend to be good-looking) and requires the character to pay for the benefit of easily blending into the crowd (a useful thing for a spy).
  • The advantage "Bland" makes you this in the Legend of the Five Rings tabletop game 3rd edition. Too bad it also makes you less likely to be recognised when glory is to be had for great deeds.
  • Mage:
    • This is the focus of both a Merit (Occultation) and a Legacy (The Blank Badges) in Mage: The Awakening.
    • Likewise, "Arcane" in Mage: The Ascension. The Ahl-i-Batin cranked it up to ten (not eleven—at eleven the universe forgets you exist). An entertaining variant because it can't be turned off, making it a two-edged sword.
    • Mind sphere invisibility also works like this. If an observer doesn't overcome the power rating of the spell, they literally cannot find you noteworthy enough to record or remember. Higher-level mind mages can also do this after-the-fact by memory manipulation.
    • The "Subtle Ones" Legacy from Awakening use this to their advantage. They can blend seamlessly into any group while influencing their thoughts and emotions. They're based on the Ahl-i-Batin, to boot.
    • Mage really loves this one: fate magic and space magic can also be used to prevent others from forming any kind of social or mental connection with a character.
  • In Scion, this is one of the weaker powers of the Darkness purview.
  • Shadowrun has nondescript as a positive background during character creation. It means that, in a world where ambient cameras can keep track of you all the time, your appearance is so bog-standard for your age, sex and metatype that even face-recognising A.Is have problems distinguishing you from millions of other Jon/Jane Does.
  • Unknown Armies offers this as a skill.
  • Similarly, the Vampire: The Masquerade (and Vampire: The Requiem) power of "Obfuscate".
  • In Warhammer, Wizards that study the grey wind of magic, the Lore of Shadow, become more nondescript and forgettable as they grow in ability.

    Video Games 
  • Shūsei Tokuda in Bungo to Alchemist is designed like a typical harem series hero with plain short black hair and black eyes. He complains about how even his teacher finds him boring.
  • Kellam from Fire Emblem: Awakening. Despite being one of the tallest characters in the game and wearing a gigantic suit of armor, he's virtually invisible to everyone, including his own teammates. It also doesn't help that his design is very plain compared to the other characters. Amusingly, recruiting him is entirely optional because of this.
  • Your U.L. Paper contact in Grand Theft Auto IV. "To me? Who am I? There's a hundred guys in this building alone who fit my description. Middle aged men, paunchy, glasses... you bring them here? What's this? Empty office, leased to a man who died in the last days of Vietnam... Call me up. My number never existed." — also goes for The Men in Black.
  • Hitman:
    • An Informed Ability of Agent 47, who is said to be deliberately engineered to be multiracial so he could fit in anywhere without drawing attention. He doesn't actually look multiracial, and he's also got a barcode tattooed to the back of his shaved head, which is quite distinctive. And it's topped off by a $3,000 suit and custom handguns. In spite of it all, he seems to have no trouble passing himself off as just about anyone.
    • Hitman (2016) features a group called Providence, a top-secret conspiracy who have ambitions to Take Over the World and already exert a huge influence on world governments already. In a later mission, one of your targets is interrogating a low-rank courier for Providence for information on his commander. The poor scrub can't give him a description of his boss because he just looks like an ordinary guy: an accountant who could sit next to you on the bus without you noticing. Apart from a nice suit and a bit of a raspy voice, he does look like a perfectly generic middle-aged guy.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, HK-47 gives a short lecture about assassination. He mentions how being a droid makes his job easy since most people tend to treat droids like furniture.
  • The Stone Mask in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has the ability to make the wearer appear as unnoticeable as a stone. This has a drawback: you get it by using the Lens of Truth to find a soldier who put it on, then suffered an injury. He laid there, hurt and forgotten, for days until you found him. However, particularly disciplined or trained people can see past it, such as the Gerudo Pirate Mini Bosses and their leader. They even have unique dialogue if they spot you wearing it, changing from saying "That's as far as you go" and "Everyone!!! A rat has snuck in!" to saying "You think you can trick us with that mask?" and "Everyone!!! A rat wearing a strange mask has snuck in!"
  • Sims with "Pudding Face" in The Sims 3 have facial features which are completely and utterly average,note  but nothing's stopping them from having an Eccentric, Flirtatious, or even Insane or Evil personality trait (or, potentially, all of these). Since the game occasionally makes Pudding Faces when it's creating new sims for "needed" positions around town, you could potentially end up with many identical sims around town after playing through a few in-game generations. Good luck keeping them all straight.
  • Touhou Project has Koishi, who's a metaphysical version of this. By closing her mind off she's closed others' mind to her, meaning that she's hard to notice and harder to remember, despite being a strange girl with an eye/heart/thing hanging around her chest.
  • In We Happy Few, Arthur Hastings has to take advantage of how amazingly average and mediocre everything about his appearance is, as well as the townsfolk being coked out of their minds on Joy, to get past most threats. As long as he doesn't attract attention to himself and isn't seen doing anything wrong, nobody will remember him and will leave him alone. Even if his cover is blown all he has to do is escape their chase and wait a few minutes, and they'll have forgotten what he looked like.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Comics 
  • Shigeo Kageyama from Mob Psycho 100 is so average it hurts: ordinary grades, no extracurriculars, completely average looks, absolutely nothing interesting about him. His In-Series Nickname "Mob" (which gets used far more often than his real name), comes from the fact that he looks like a generic character from a crowd scene. What's not nondescript about him are his insanely powerful psychic abilities...
  • Mr. Chalk from Zebra Girl. A partial example, he has almost no defining features, save a jagged cut of a mouth.

    Web Original 
  • Jolie La Belle from Star Harbor Nights has "indescribable beauty" as a superpower, with an emphasis on the "indescribable" part.
  • The main character of Worth the Candle was once described by his best friend as what someone would look like if a player chose all of the "default" options on a character creator - blue eyes, brown hair, and average everything with no distinguishing features whatsoever. His tabletop gaming friends even nicknamed him "Default" until he stopped pretending to find it funny.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Rob from The Amazing World of Gumball is this in "The Pony", with his entire existence being treated as a Noodle Incident, with Gumball and Darwin remembering him as much as the audience does. In "The Void", this is deconstructed, as he is revealed to have been thought of as a mistake by the Void and sucked in, being left unnoticed, even after trying to get saved by visitors there. "The Nobody" also deconstructs this, as it is revealed he has escaped and is still alive, but just glitched up and trying to claim an identity that has not already been taken.
  • Samson the guinea pig of Camp Lazlo, a case of Ascended Extra that isn't quite that. He once snuck into a guarded vault of candy just by waltzing in. When the owner of it found him, he actively stepped over Samson and blamed a fly for it.
  • Brett from Inside Job was hired by Cognito, Inc. because his appearance is so generic he can't be detected by spy satellites.
  • Wallflower Blush from My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Forgotten Friendship is constantly ignored and forgotten about by everyone else at Canterlot High, even by people she's just talked to. It's what drives her to use the Memory Stone to erase everyone's positive memories of Sunset Shimmer, forcing them to only remember her as she was before her Heel–Face Turn.

    Real Life 
  • The criminal popularly known as D.B. Cooper. It's possible that he didn't survive landing, but looking at his composite sketch, it seems just as likely that he was never caught because he could be just about any white guy between 25 and 50. One of the more plausible theories on why the authorities never managed to catch him is that Cooper simply went back to work on Monday as if nothing happened, considering no one was reported missing in the area in the week of the hijacking.
  • The President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy (not, technically, the "President of Europe" as is often incorrectly assumed) approaches the ideal. The Telegraph newspaper wrote after his appointment to the position in 2009 that "those who have met him [...] and can still recall the experience describe him as 'modest', 'introverted' and 'self-effacing'". Nigel Farage accused him of having the "charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk". Mr. Van Rompuy also comes from Belgium, which is about as nondescript as countries get.
  • One of the things that allowed Serial Killer Ted Bundy to go on killing for so long was the fact he was so ordinary looking. He was pretty much a natural master of disguise. He was also helped by the fact that he could look reasonably handsome (though not memorably so), which helped him to persuade his female victims to get into vulnerable situations.
  • Ditto with Andrew Cunanan—5'10, 150 lbs., brown hair, brown eyes. How many guys look like that?
  • Former Seattle Mariners catcher Dan Wilson fits this well enough that many people, after meeting him have stated that they would never recognize him if they saw him walking down the street. This includes someone who had looked up to him as a hero for most of her life!
  • Most DJs, no matter how much they produce Awesome Music, generally seem to be nondescript white guys dressed in generic clothing wearing sunglasses and hats. DJ Shadow, James Lavelle, 3D and RJD 2 all look really quite similar. It's unlikely that any DJ out there gets recognized on the street. This is seemingly part of the reason artists like Daft Punk are so noticeable.
  • Gerald Ford had very few distinguishing features, so few that political cartoonists of the time couldn't figure out how to caricature him properly.
  • Similarly, Ali Larter was described this way. While she was on Heroes, a comic-book themed covers were commissioned for TV Guide. The artist for the cover she was on, Phil Jimenez, described her as torturous for an artist, saying "she’s a really beautiful woman without a specific defining feature to grab on to," making it hard to make the drawing instantly recognizable as the actress.
  • Early in Vladimir Putin's career his appearance was critiqued as nondescript and unmemorable.
  • During the time he was on the run, a common joke in Boston was that they would never find James "Whitey" Bulger even if he had stayed right in Boston because he looks just like every other elderly Irish-American guy in the city. When they came up with an age advanced new photo of him in 2004 it was really apparent, and even his mugshot when finally caught is still pretty unremarkable. The most memorable thing about him was always said to be his piercing eyes but only when he intended them to be that way, and while in hiding he was known to frequently wear sunglasses in public, which didn't raise any eyebrows since it was California. On at least one occasion he also visited a local bar frequented by Boston transplants, and while a few people claimed after he was caught that they did notice a resemblance, none of them believed someone as wanted as Whitey Bulger would actually dare to come out in public like that.
  • Sports writer Jack McCallum, in his book on the Dream Team, pointed out that the only member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball team who could go outside in Barcelona without getting mobbed by the public was John Stockton, because he was a 6'1" white guy with dark hair (hardly uncommon in the city). The other two white guys on the team were blond and at least 6'8", and all the black men were at least 6'6". This clip proves his point.
  • Comedian Nish Kumar has a bit where he says if he could be anyone, he'd be the drummer from Coldplay, since nobody knows who he is, but he's famous enough that he got to cameo in Game of Thrones. He admits this applies equally to the other members of the band, but he picked the drummer because he gets to sit down all the time.
  • BBC journalist Nigel Wrench, who managed to score an intervew with Banksy about his first exhibition, before the "Who is Banksy?" mystery became part of the art, has said that when people ask him what Banksy looks like all he can say is "He was a young bloke in a hoodie", and he thinks this is how he's able to maintain his anonymity.