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Ugly All Along

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From Ms. Fanservice to Ms. Fan Disservice in the blink of an eye!
"Oh, I see. So the hot girl was actually ugly all along! Not just inside, but outside too! Well, that's a relief, because now there's absolutely no hang-ups about hating her!"
JonTron, on this trope's use in Foodfight!

There's this character: they're beautiful, and they know it. They might even exploit their charms to their advantage and/or ridicule those who are less attractive than they are. Too bad their beauty is all fake. Underneath all their make-up (or glamour, in more fantastical settings), they're not actually that pretty. In fact, they're usually really ugly; or perhaps they've simply aged badly, and has been hiding their deteriorated appearance because they're not naturally youthful looking.

Often used as a Plot Twist, this trope can serve several different narrative functions.

  • The first is to reinforce that Beauty Equals Goodness, where the evil but deceitfully beautiful character is revealed to be as ugly as they are at heart after all. In this kind of plotline, expect the character to be an Alpha Bitch or a Vain Sorceress, and The Reveal of their actually-hideous face is often treated as a part of their inevitable comeuppance.
  • Conversely, it can be used as An Aesop to Be Yourself and that True Beauty Is on the Inside—the character learns that they don't have to hide their true appearance because people are attracted to their personality, rather than their fake beauty.

Due to the Double Standard that dictates that beauty is required of a woman, expect most examples of this trope to be a woman, or at least a feminine man. Unattractive males aren't usually as concerned about being judged or treated harshly for not meeting certain standards of beauty.

Obviously the inverse of Beautiful All Along. Related to Punished with Ugly, where a formerly beautiful character is disfigured or turned ugly as a punishment, and may overlap if the unmasking of the character's beautiful facade is treated as punishment.

Compare Butter Face, who has a hideous face (which they don't usually hide) but an otherwise alluring body, and may mislead interested onlookers who only caught a glimpse of their silhouette. See also Delusions of Beauty, where an unattractive character doesn't even bother to use a more attractive disguise, but sees themselves as being a hottie anyway.

Note: Since this trope is often played as an unexpected revelation, many of the examples are spoilers and most of them will be unmarked. You Have Been Warned.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • One episode of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (JP) is centered around a competition for the hand of a supposedly beautiful princess, whose face is invisible from all the diamonds she is wearing. Then the winner knight asks her to remove these diamonds, and it turns out her beauty is very much exaggerated. Fortunately, once he removes his helmet in return, they turn out to look similar enough that Love at First Sight follows for both of them.
  • Maurice Cole from Black Butler is considered one of the the most beautiful boy in Weston College. He enjoys immense popularity thanks to his cherubic charms, and manipulates his way into power, having his goons do all his duties and/or steal other people's works so that he can claim credit and appeal himself to the Absurdly Powerful Student Council. He antagonizes Ciel for stealing his spotlight, but is eventually outsmarted by the main character, and the Humiliation Conga he suffers culminates in Ciel spreading photographs of his actually ugly face (he has droopy eyes, upturned nose and too-thick lips) to the whole school.
  • Case Closed features a story where the popular singer of a band is constantly bickering with his beautiful manager, who becomes the prime suspect when the singer is murdered. The manager is revealed to be the murderer after all, killing the singer out of anger because he started treating her terribly after she got a plastic surgery — as she was in love with him but felt that she was too ugly for him. However, the singer actually loved her in her old appearance and was angry and frustrated that she felt the need to look prettier to be "worthy" of him.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Envy resembles an androgynous, muscular teenager in a skimpy outfit and takes pride in their looks, saying they're 'young and cute'. However, it's known their power as a homunculus is shapeshifting and they will become violently upset if anyone insinuates they aren't beautiful, implying this appearance is just another disguise. Later, it turns out they aren't even remotely humanoid, and their true form is that of a massive, eight-legged, reptilian monster with human bodies and faces bubbling along their skin. After that, it turns out their actual true form is a tiny creature resembling a cross between a lamprey and a fetus.
  • Biscuit Krueger from Hunter Hunter looks like a cute, almost babydoll-like child. However, in her fight with Bara, she reveals that her true appearance is an extremely muscular and mannish looking woman. When asked why she hides her true form, she states that it's because her enemies underestimate her in her child form, but more importantly is that she finds her real form ugly.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Stardust Crusaders: Nena's initial appearance is that of a beautiful young woman, but after getting beaten by Joseph, her real form is an ugly overweight short woman hiding in a false body.
    • Diamond is Unbreakable: Toyohiro Kanedaichi starts off looking like a handsome man, it's revealed that he wears a mask, and after Josuke defeats him, he's a bald-headed hermit.
  • Kaiju Girl Caramelise has Rairi, a beautiful and popular girl who befriends Kuroe and even helps her gain confidence by sharing her make-up. Then it is revealed that without her make-up, Rairi's face resembles a gorilla, and she's very insecure about it. She befriends Kuroe because she feels a kinship towards her over their body issues.
  • The title character from Kasane is cruelly bullied by her classmates for not only being ugly but also for claiming to be the daughter of the beautiful actress, Fuchi Sukeyo. However, it is revealed that Kasane's mother (actually named Izana) is actually just as ugly as she is, but she had been using a special lipstick that allows her to swap faces with the actual Fuchi Sukeyo and used her name and face to become a famous actress. Kasane later uses this lipstick to do the same thing to follow in her mother's footsteps and become a famous actress herself.
  • Most of the denizens of the Tomb of Nazarick from Overlord (2012) are non-humans. While many of them wear attractive human(oid) forms, such as the Pleiades and the female floor guardians, it is implied that their true form is truly alien and disturbing by human standards.
    • The two most standout examples are Albedo and Shalltear, who both appear to be a beautiful succubus and vampiress, respectively. We've never seen Albedo's true form, but her profile states that her base race class is an Imp (a type of small demon with bulbous heads, huge mouths and Scary Teeth),note  and her eyes and mouth have a habit of warping into inhuman shapes when she's excited or angry. Shalltear's true form, however, is outright monstrous, with a massive, round Lamprey Mouth and tongue which constantly hangs from its opening.
    • Solution Epsilon is easily the most conveniently attractive of the Pleiades, having a voluptuous figure and skimpy maid uniform that emphasizes her sex appeal. Like Albedo, her true form has never been revealed, but she's a slime, whose default form is that of a blob monster. Her creator, Herohero, is of a similar race and looks like a lump of black goo.
  • Tenjho Tenge: Emi Isuzu, Mitsuomi's second-in-command, looks like a slender and beautiful girl thanks to her body fat contortion technique. When it's not in effect, she's morbidly obese. Downplayed in that she's not treated as ugly, just vain.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Invoked in a very early chapter of the manga where Dark Yugi has to deal with a particularly cruel school teacher. She is one of the most beautiful teachers at the school, often using her assets to make the principal get her way, loved to humiliate her students, and is obsessed with her makeup being always perfect. In order to deal with her, Dark Yugi plays a Game of Darkness with her, and when she inevitably loses, the Punishment Game he inflicts on her is to see a "face that reflects her true self". This results in her makeup cracking to reveal a Gonk-like face beneath. He also inflicts a very similar punishment on a beauty pageant contestant who attempted to injure the other contestants.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics: In one Archie Comics: Future storyline, the unattractive, buck-toothed Ethel tries out a Magic Plastic Surgery program to attract the attention of a local hunk, and manages to win his love. But as their relationship develops, she feels bad about lying to him and reverts to her true appearance before confessing the whole truth to him. Later, it is revealed that the hunk in question is actually a scrawny, unpopular teen named Marvin Zinkleman who had used the same Magic Plastic Surgery procedure that Ethel was offered. The story ends with the two getting to know each other for real.
  • Brat Pack: Moon Maiden's Amazonian Beauty is all an illusion created by heavy makeup, a wig, and a good corset. Without all of it, she's hideous and withered, her body having been ravaged by years of drug abuse, venereal disease, and the rigors of trying to fight crime without any actual powers.
  • Marvel Universe: Shiklah, former wife of Deadpool and current wife of Dracula, is a succubus whose preferred form is that of a beautiful, buxom and curvaceous woman (although her face is usually covered in markings and her eyes are typically completely black). Her true form is that of a purple-skinned, hulking demon with a face not unlike that of a lizard and a body that is not "feminine" in any way. Knowledge of this from doesn't stop either her former or present husband from sleeping with her.
  • The Sandman, Nuala is a fae given to Dream as a gift from the Faerie. She is presented as a stunningly beautiful faerie with golden hair, but Dream refuses to allow her to remain in his realm under a glamour and forces her to appear in her proper form. She's not ugly, per se, but rather very plain, small, and mousy, with unkempt brown hair and a careworn face. Eventually, her brother brings her back to Faerie, at which time she again takes on the idealized glamour.
  • X-Men: In The Dark Phoenix Saga, Jean Grey is manipulated by the young and handsome-looking Jason Wyngarde, who uses his psychic abilities to nurture her dark side. When the fully-corrupted Jean turns against Wyngarde, she shatters his psychic Glamour, revealing him to be the X-Men's old foe, Mastermind (an old, ugly man).

    Films — Animation 
  • Foodfight!: Lady X is introduced as a sexy Femme Fatale, trying to use her looks and wiles to seduce protagonist Dex Dogtective. By the end of the movie it's revealed that her true form is that of a wrinkled old woman befitting the mascot of a prune company and she had gone to Brazil for plastic surgery... which somehow is undone by getting punched by the female lead.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame II: Sarouch may look like a handsome man, but it's revealed he wears a wig, corset and make-up to make himself look better out of overwhelming vanity. Without his make-up and costume, he's an old, balding man with sagging eyebags and a potbelly.
  • Igor has the lovely Femme Fatale Jaclyn visit various Mad Scientists ostensibly to seduce them, but really to glean their secrets. She works for Doctor Schadenfreude, who has been outperforming his peers for some time thanks to Jaclyn's spy work. In the end, Jaclyn runs out of transformation pills, and reverts to her true self: an ugly, hunchbacked Igor.
  • Mother Gothel from Tangled uses the Sundrop Flower to keep herself young and beautiful, and she often flaunts her beauty and figure to Rapunzel. However, without constantly using the flower's age-reversing power, her years would catch up with her, and she would gradually revert into the wrinkled old crone she has become.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Josie and the Pussycats (2001): The main villain, the Evil Diva record executive Fiona, turns out to be Lisa Snyder, a nerdy girl with buck teeth who speaks with a lisp, and tries to put subliminal messages into her label's music to get everybody to like her. Meanwhile, Wyatt Frame, the band's suave Evil Brit manager, turns out to be "White-Ass Wally," an albino American with a beer gut — and one of Fiona/Lisa's former classmates. They cover up their looks using makeup, veneers, and fake accents.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has the dashing and dapper Dorian Gray operate as The Mole on the team, while secretly in league with the evil mastermind Professor Moriarty. During a climactic fight with the vampire Mina Harker, he's shown his supernatural portrait. That portrait has absorbed all the trauma and injuries from his past that should have ended him; it has also aged on his behalf. Upon setting eyes on its image, all the trauma and injuries and bullet holes transfer to his body, making him die a twitching, ravaged wreck.
  • Evil Makes You Ugly in the world of Oz the Great and Powerful, and the bewitchingly charming but wicked Evanora is revealed to be using magic to hide her grotesque appearance so that she can deceive Oscar and even her sister Theodora into believing that she's a good witch. When her magic fades, she reverts to an ugly, old hag.
  • Scooby-Doo: Monsters Unleashed: Heather Jasper-Howe is revealed to be Jonathan Jacobo in disguise.
  • In The Shining, Jack approaches a beautiful naked woman in Room 237's bathroom and makes out with her. However, as they embrace, she reveals her true self as the ghost of a grotesque old woman and laughs at his disgust.
  • The Terminator: The T-800 looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger for most of the movie. Near the end, his biological parts are all burned off when he gets in a truck crash, revealing a horrifying skeleton-like robot underneath.
  • The Witches:

  • In Faith, Hope, Love by Georgy Yudin, when a demonic creature tries to seduce the main character (in a Dream Sequence, Or Was It a Dream?), it/she first appears to be a beautiful kind woman, but grows uglier and uglier every time he refuses to cheat on his wife or renounce his faith, until finally turning into a repulsive snake.
  • Downplayed in Gelsomino In The Land Of Liars. The King Giacomone is famously known for his beautiful, silky wavy red hair (short golden hair in the movie adaptation). However, it is eventually discovered that it's a wig and he has an ugly Bald of Evil underneath.
  • The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter: Lola, the personal Adventure Guild receptionist for Noir, panics when Noir walks into the Guild on a day she wasn't expecting, and rushes into the back to put on her makeup. Though the audience doesn't see it, both Noir and Emma are taken aback by how different Lola looks without it. Played With from here, as while Noir states that he still thinks Lola is cute, Lola herself is terrified of being seen without her cosmetics, and Emma (who is Lola's biggest rival for Noir's affections) calls her "Cake Face" and insults Lola's barefaced appearance. Noir is a Nice Guy and Emma is jealous of Lola, so both can be considered Unreliable Narrators.
  • Discussed in Incarnations of Immortality: Lilah the succubus is described as incredibly sexy and erotic, as one would expect from a sex demon. In Wielding a Red Sword, Mars chooses to take her as his concubine, and she warns him that the beautiful form he sees is not her real form, which humans would consider hideous. Mars simply shrugs and tells her that all beauty is a form of illusion, so what's the difference between a glamour and some makeup? As long as he never sees her true appearance, it might as well not exist to him.
  • The Lunar Chronicles: Queen Levana is considered the most beautiful woman on Luna, but only because of her extreme talent for Lunar Glamour. It doesn't work on cameras or mirrors, and it triggers Cinder's built-in lie detector. In actuality, she was badly burned and mutilated by her older sister as a child.
  • In A Million Adventures, the Pirate Queen seems to be a gorgeous young woman with a lovely smile and a silvery voice, an Absurdly Youthful Mother to an adult son. Pashka, who knows firsthand she is a pirate leader and can't be trusted, develops a huge crush on her. In the very last chapter she removes her mask and is revealed to be so ugly that the sight shocks Alice out of her drug-induced stupor.
  • Implied with the eponymous princess from The Necklace Of Princess Fiorimonde. She is known in-universe as the World's Most Beautiful Woman but the narrative tells us that her beauty is a result of witchcraft, and she fears that being forced to marry would prevent her from visiting her Wicked Witch mentor and she would lose her beauty. However, we never know what she looks like without the magic enhancement.
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray has the supernatural power to absorb all the unhealthy abuse that the actual Dorian Gray attains through his amoral and rakish living. It's when he destroys his portrait that the situation is reversed: the portrait returns to the healthy and handsome Dorian from when the portrait was made, while the man himself acquires all the injuries, parasites and disease his decadent lifestyle has earned him. He dies a hideous derelict as a result.
  • In While the Clock Chimes, the royal family and the aristocracy of the kingdom are so beautiful they must wear invisibility caps lest people go blind from seeing such beauty and their incredibly gorgeous portraits are just a poor imitation of their real looks. The climax, though, reveals it all to be a lie: all the invisibles are horrendously ugly, which perfectly fits their cruel personalities.
  • The Witches: When the Grand High Witch first appears, the Boy notes that she looks youthful and pretty. Then she removes her mask and it is revealed that she has a Nightmare Face underneath.

    Live-Action TV 
  • While it is implied in the books that her youth is granted by R'hllor directly, Melisandre in Game of Thrones is depicted as using a pendant with a fiery-red stone to hold a glamour that keeps her eternally youthful in her service to the Lord of Light. Whenever she takes it off, which happened when her faith in R'hllor was shaken and when her purpose was complete, she reverted to a shriveled old woman.
  • The series Grimm features many Wessen who appear as normal human people, but can be revealed to be various fantasy creatures with beastlike traits and features. Only a person known as a Grimm can see through their illusions to know the truth. One of the most extreme examples of this trope was the character Adalind Schrade, who appeared as a lovely blonde woman, but was in reality an eyeless, hideous Hexenbeste.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Dennis is known for his incredible vanity from the start, as well as his Camp Straight tendencies like wearing makeup. In "Dee Day," Sweet Dee forces him to remove all of his makeup (plus a hairpiece and his prosthetic pecs), revealing he basically looks like a living corpse.
  • In season 2, episode 1 of Night Gallery, final skit "Phantom of What Opera?", a Phantom-like guy kidnaps a beautiful woman and takes her to his lair. Then her mask falls off, and she looks like him. They hug. She's apparently a good person though.
  • In "Hansel and Gretel", an episode of Sechs Auf Einen Streich, the gingerbread witch first appears as a beautiful young woman. After she reveals her true colors, her face becomes distorted, with greenish skin, snake-like messy hair, black lips, and Black Eyes of Evil.
  • In the original pilot for Star Trek: The Original Series, "The Cage", the crew of the Enterprise encounter Vina, the survivor of a shipwreck who looks like a beautiful woman. It's later revealed that they are in an alien zoo, controlled by a species capable of creating powerful illusions; Vina is revealed to have been seriously disfigured when the ship she was on crash-landed, so she chose to stay on that planet because there her injuries can be hidden.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): Zigzagged in the episode "Eye of the Beholder", a woman is kept in a hospital to perform plastic surgery on her face, because she has seemingly developed a condition that has distorted her face beyond all recognition, a "pitiful twisted lump of flesh", as described by the doctors and nurses. The woman convinces her doctor to remove the bandages covering her face early. Tensely, they do so, until... it's revealed that she is perfectly normal. Beautiful, in fact. The twist is that when the doctors and nurses, in-shadow from the very beginning of the episode, are finally revealed to have grotesque sagging faces with pig-like-noses, and the world that these beings live in has beauty standards that are completely reversed compared to human standards, and is also a dictatorship that shuns and persecutes people who are comparatively beautiful.

    Music Videos 
  • The music video for "Misery Business" by Paramore features an archetypal Alpha Bitch going around bullying people, making other girls jealous, and the like, until Hayley Williams confronts her, and wipes all her makeup away with toilet roll, and also removes the pads from her top for good measure, exposing her for what kind of person she really is.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: In Noctis City, OK-Chan is a popular idol renowned for her good looks and stunning visual. "She" is actually a voluminous man using virtual-moveset technology to disguise himself as an idol.
  • Borderlands 3 has Typhon DeLeon, the first Vault Hunter. Numerous posters across the game advertise a film called "Typhon DeLeon and the First Vault," starring a dashing, clean-cut actor named Dante Silver in the role of Typhon. When the Player Character finally gets to meet him, turns out he's a Gonk.
  • Brain Dead 13 has Vivi, a very attractive, buxom vampiress who runs a salon in Dr. Neurosis' castle. After Lance manages to escape from her, and she gets put through the facial machine she earlier attempted to kill him with, she comes out of it looking like an ugly, bloated old hag.
  • Doom Eternal: The Khan Maykr on the surface looks like a heavenly divine being, but over the course of her boss fight, as the Doom Slayer knocks off more and more of her armor, her face is revealed to be hideously monstrous and bearing uncanny resemblance to a demon, serving as symbolic representation that, for all her claims of herself being divine and superior, she is no different from demons the Slayer fights.
  • Hidden City has the Mistress of the Manor, a renown beauty with many suitors. In one of the investigations, the player finds several of her diary entries that reveal how she was originally born with an ugly face, but made herself beautiful by practicing dark magic against her grandmother's advice. We never get to see her original appearance, however.
  • Hellen Gravely of Luigi's Mansion 3 initially looks like a pretty and glamourous ghost woman. During her boss fight, however, she turns out to have an ugly hag-like face without her frequently-applied makeup.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball has a gag where Nicole Watterson awakens one morning and regards herself in the bathroom mirror: she's a fright of wrinkles and puffy eye circles. She plops a handy gallon can of house paint on the sink, and grabs a 3" brush. Then she simply dunks her whole head in the paint. She adds sclera with two dabs of a face puff, then draws on pupils, eyelashes and whiskers. Looking better on the outside, Nicole's miserable inside promptly starts bawling out her husband and children. Fridge Logic notes that she keeps a gallon can of paint in her fur color near the mirror, which means this is routine morning maintenance for her.
  • The Cleveland Show: Donna Tubbs-Brown is usually seen as a very attractive woman who wears a wig and plenty of makeup, and stuffs her bra. In reality, she's a very haggard looking woman.
  • The Flintstones episode "Dino Goes Hollyrock" has Dino become smitten with TV star Sassie, but he loses interest after seeing what a fright she is without her wig and makeup.
  • In the "Beauty and the Wildebeest" episode of Timon & Pumbaa, Rafiki helps an ugly wildebeest improve his looks and manners so that he can romance a beautiful gazelle that he has a crush for. At the end of the episode, the gazelle, touched when the wildebeest is willing to reveal his hideous visage to scare off a rival at her birthday party, removes her makeup and reveals herself to be just as ugly as he is and they both share a kiss before the end credits.
  • Gotcha Grabmore from Tiny Toon Adventures is an evil businesswoman who kills wild animals to make cosmetics, partially to keep her looking beautiful. In "Whale's Tales", she captures a mother whale, and when she tells her that her blubber will be used for her cosmetics, the mother whale squirts her in the face, washing off her makeup, revealing her to look hideous without it. A mortified Gotcha instantly re-applies her makeup afterwards.
  • X-Men: The Animated Series: MasterMind's handsome appearance turns out to be an illusion, as once Phoenix strips away his powers, he's revealed to be a rather homely man underneath.
  • In the episode "Image" of Young Justice (2010), it's revealed Miss Martian has been using her shapeshifting powers to model herself after an attractive sitcom character. Her actual form, as a white martian, is grotesque and monstrous. Something she goes through great lengths to hide from her teammates, including lying to them about her what her true form actually looks like, by making it seem like it's just a bald version of herself and letting herself get blackmailed by Queen Bee who threatens to expose her. When she does come clean to her team and shows them what she really looks like they're taken aback at first but immediately remind her that they're her friends and don't care how she looks.