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Ugly Cute / Literature

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  • "The Ugly Duckling": Likely also the Trope Maker.
  • Where the Wild Things Are: The titular Wild Things are so exaggerated and silly, you just want to hug them all. Generally speaking, Maurice Sendak practically runs off this.
    • Interestingly, adults seem to be put off by the Wild Things' appearance more than children. This was a major talking point when the film was released; just what side of the "It is for kids" / "It's not for kids" divide does it fall?
  • Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  • Gollum/Smeagol from Lord of the Rings may not have a good personality, but he's pitiful. He's so ugly cute; he's absolutely precious.
    • Not exactly as much in the films, however.
  • Redwall the Always Chaotic Evil species are often described as ugly and creepy, but compare a hare (good) and a ferret (bad). People say the author makes the cute animals good. This is a blatant lie. EVERYTHING in Mossflower is cute. Intentional example with Blaggut, a big fat unwashed pirate rat who follows his physically-abusive captain around like a puppy and is a Friend to All Children.
  • Dobby and, in general, the House Elves from Harry Potter. Even Kreacher gets better.
    • Can't forget Norbert the baby dragon!
    • Snape, who has greasy hair, sallow skin, a hooked nose and the most tragic back story of the entire series.
      • Alan Rickman's portrayal of the character likely contributed to Snape's woobification. In the books, the character only becomes sympathetic after he dies.
    • The Thestrals - well, for those who can see them, anyway.
    • Then there's Crookshanks, the ginger cat, who is described as having a sort of squashed face. And yet Hermione adores him.
  • The Hunger Games has a similar case with Buttercup.
  • The Other, the sentient operating system of Otherland, steals system resources to create a private world for itself, populating it with grotesque mockeries of fairy tale creatures that are nevertheless treated like its children. This is not out of malice, but because it genuinely doesn't understand the context.
  • The Phantom (Erik) of The Phantom of the Opera is slowly becoming this.
    • He always was to some, due to his extreme woobieness.
  • The eponymous Eldritch Abominations of Where the Deep Ones Are and The Littlest Shoggoth.
    • This isn't uncommon in Lovecraft Lite in general. It helps that much of the horror fandom doesn't share Lovecraft's apparent aversion to sea life.
  • Lovecraft's own Zoogs, by virtue of being small, furry, and tentacle-faced.
    • Some illustrators draw Brown Jenkin (the little human-faced monkey-rat-imp familiar from Dreams In The Witch House) this way before events in the story start getting really sinister. Lovecraft depicts him as a denizen of the Uncanny Valley, but anything small, furry, and vaguely anthropomorphic is going to be cute to someone.
  • Aunt Beast in A Wrinkle in Time. She's part of the "really, really strange looking - but still sweet and lovable" side of this trope. In Wayne D. Barlowe's portrait of Aunt Beast, she's downright lovely - in a very alien way.
    • Practically any artist's representation of an Ixchel is likely to fit this trope.
  • All the characters in Tim Burton's The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy: And Other Stories.
  • The more A Song of Ice and Fire harps on just how ugly Brienne of Tarth is, the more you just want to...hug her. That she's one of the most good-hearted characters in the series just makes her that much more adorable.
    • The books also have Tyrion Lannister, who is also one of the more likable characters in the series (although more morally ambiguous than Brienne), and even less conventionally attractive.
      • According to Oberyn Martell, his dead little sister Elia coo'd at him when he was a baby.
    • Also Shireen Baratheon: a child which combine the worst traits a girl can inherits from her parents with a childhood disease which disfigured her. She's a quiet, sad little girl that never smiles.
    • There's also Pia, a serving maid from Harrenhal, who was pretty until she made the mistake of being within arm's reach of Gregor Clegane, who broke her nose and most of her teeth.
  • Discworld has the Death of Rats. It's got BIG BLUE EYES, for Pete's sake!
    • Death himself, for that matter. He's your stereotypical cowled-skeleton-with-a-blade Grim Reaper, and plenty badass when he needs to be, but he's a gently compassionate being who loves cats, makes endearingly misguided efforts to understand humanity, and rides a Pale Horse named Binky.
    • Small Gods has the Great God Om, a cranky, sarcastic, almost-fallen deity trapped in the body of a small, one-eyed desert tortoise.
    • Swamp dragons (and especially Errol) are described as Ugly Cute.
    • And then there's Mr Nutt of Unseen Academicals.
    • Discworld goblins, mostly due to their status as a Woobie Species.
  • Vettul, in the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Vanishing Point, is a twenty-year-old ingenue who's at least 6'6" and has one leg twice as thick as the other, obviously crooked eyes, and an otherwise plain face. She also acts like she has No Social Skills, in a completely endearing manner, and manages to have Incorruptible Pure Pureness without being cloying. She quite fancies Fitz (and calls him "very beautiful", at which he "[stands] there speechless, blushing crimson", being only average-ish in the looks department), and he her:
    She looked like a painting of someone beautiful that had gone subtly wrong somehow; as if the artist had been wearing the wrong prescription glasses or something. That said, there was definitely something to her...
    • She lives with a group of other people who have various (worse) deformities, and would therefore be persecuted in the dystopia where they live, and their caretaker, Ettianne:
    A little man with a bent, frightened face peeped out from behind a table, and Ettianne went over to soothe him.
  • Pretty much the entire crew of the Ferkel in Rod Allbright Alien Adventures. None of them (save perhaps Plink, and Edgar if you want to count him) are conventionally cute. All are teribly, terribly endearing, particularly Snout.
  • Smasher from the novel by the same name by Dick King-Smith.
  • Many Dr. Seuss characters.
  • In Zero History by William Gibson, Olduvai George is described as looking "agreeably simian".
  • Played with in the Lensman series. Ordinary stay-at-home humans find the various Starfish Aliens to be utterly horrible-looking (and likewise for ordinary stay-at-home aliens wrt humans), but cosmopolitans, spacehounds, and especially Lensmen are expected to rise above this. In particular, Kinnison and Worsel have a very strong friendship, saying about each other: "He's so hideous that he's positively distinguished-looking."
  • Candayce, in the body of a Leptoceratops, starts to think this of the Leptoceratopses which seem enamored of her, and of their babies, after initial difficulties in Dinoverse.
  • Seraphina's "grotesques." Most of them fit this nickname very well; a particular example from the first book is "Pelican Man" (described as having a red wattle, probably more like a turkey than a pelican). Yet something about them is very endearing. You only end up loving them more when Seraphina finally meets them in the second book, even while you're exposed to more details of the mutations of the ityasaari.
  • The goblins from The Iron Teeth web serial are described as ugly but are small and sometimes act cute.
  • Pular Singe, Garrett's ratgirl apprentice-cum-adoptive-daughter from the Garrett, P.I. series, is less than attractive by human standards, but her self-effacing mannerisms and the effort she puts in to fitting in makes her absolutely adorable.
  • Reportedly, Tove Jansson's first sketch of a Moomin was supposed to be a weird and ugly creature. Even that one looks pretty sympathetic.