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The slow accretion of attractive changes to characters who are actually supposed to be fairly odd-looking, if not outright ugly. It also doesn't just mean the costume change when someone does a Heel Face Turn; here, the physical appearance inexplicably changes.
This shouldn't be confused with a design that happens to be very attractive to fandoms with certain kinks; that is more or less out of the original designer's hands. Nor when it's just the artstyle itself is becoming refined. The problem is the slow changes to make the character more marketable, even if it feels detrimental to the character. Sometimes, the character's unusual design is what made him interesting, before the slow turn to looking more generic.
Unfortunately very common with female characters, even ones designed to deliberately avoid this trope, once they get out of the hands of their creators.
Marvel Comics characters swing into this frequently, as mutants, some of whom are outright deformed, may or may not be drawn as "ugly" Depending on the Artist. Even mythological creatures may be prettied up, as tends to happen with the Gorgeous Gorgon.
When Progressively Prettier appears in characters in fanart rather than in an adaptation of a show, this is called Self Fanservice. See also Fan Service Pack, Adaptational Attractiveness, Anthropomorphic Shift, Unnecessary Makeover. If characters look better due to the artist becoming more skilled over time, it is Art Evolution. Contrast You Don't Look Like You.
- The mascot from the confused.com adverts has has her bust size increased, and animated, and her waist made smaller.
Anime & Manga
- Neko Musume from GeGeGe no Kitaro was really cutened up over the years. An article was writen about it.
- Kitano from Angel Densetsu started out undeniably terrifying. Art Evolution happened, and he graduated to Ugly Cute.
- Miranda from D Gray Man has an in-universe reason for this, since she originally looked like a ragged old woman, with heavy bags under eyes and a giant mess. At the time she was trapped in a Groundhog Day Loop, not to mention that she was dealing with some serious self-worth issues, and after the arc is over and Allen and Lenalee help her out with both, it shows that Miranda really doesn't look all that bad after all. Once she was upgraded to a recurring character, she was redesigned to look more gothic than old. In one one-off drawing, she's even part of fanservice.
- Really, everyone in D Gray Man...
- Naruto — Before Gaara was rather mean and scary-looking because, well, he was mean and scary. After his Heel Face Turn, he's been redesigned to look still gothic but much gentler (again, because he generally is).
- Takatsuki from Wandering Son, manga to anime. Her goofy facial expressions from the manga where changed to better looking ones in the anime adaptation. In the manga itself, due to Art Evolution certain characters such as Doi, Seya, and Mako became cuter and more attractive over time; though it's justified since they're getting older.
- The entire cast of Genshiken has had this happen to them, Madarame in particular has benefitted.
- Vegeta in Dragon Ball was originally shorter and thinner, and his face was considerably "pointier" than his current look. This was even more noticable during the anime's original broadcast in the US, wherein halfway through the Namek arc, FUNimation took over the dub, resulting in every character having a new voice, Vegeta included.
- Magic: The Gathering: Vedalken as they looked in 2004, for Mirrodin. Vedalken as they looked in 2007, for Ravnica. Admittedly, Mirran Vedalken had been mutated by generations of lymph serum abuse, whereas Ravnican Vedalken are usually free of Body Horror. However, the Vedalken seen in 2010, for Scars of Mirrodin, have no such excuse.
- The X-Men has several cases of this.
- Marrow started as a creepy-looking girl who had craggy bones growing out all over her body, but after her Heel Face Turn, slowly became just an attractive girl with some cosmetic-looking bone attachments. An accident which involved an exploding card, a trip through the astral plane and an alien healing device made her pretty. She went back to ugly under never explained circumstances once she was off the team.
- From the same team, Nightcrawler's original source of angst was being fairly demonic looking in a superstitious Ruritanian hometown. When he first appeared in X-Men he was short and more "cute" than anything. When he was moved to Excalibur, Alan Davis purposefully drew him standing at six feet tall and modeled his facial features and personality after Errol Flynn. Sure, he was still a blue elf but he was noticeably more charming than his earlier Dave Cockrum incarnation. Other artists have followed suit for the most part.
- Even under Cockrum's art run, Kurt was often written as The Charmer, so it wasn't a completely out of the, er, blue development.
- Callisto was the leader of the Morlocks, a group of mutants with extreme physical mutations. Callisto never looked nearly as inhuman as the others as was best describable as 'butch' and was implied to be living with them less due to her appearance and more due to bad experiences with people. Due to the actions of fellow Morlock Masque, she is transformed into a pretty woman ... and many years later she's altered to have tentacles of varying length and thickness in the place of arms. She at once becomes prettier and more Morlockishly inhuman.
- Skin from Generation X. He was explicitly shown and stated to be ugly in his first appearances, but by the end of the series, he was looking positively suave. This has an in-universe explanation, since before the series started he was shown to be able to influence his appearance by concentrating, but doing it too much would give him migraines. Later in the series it is pointed out that his appearance has been improving because he has been learning to control his powers. He can never do anything about the unnatural gray color of his skin, but by issue 50 or even earlier it is no longer hanging off him freakishly while he is conscious.
- Rogue originally started out as a rather homely, "butch" looking woman and a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. After her Heel Face Turn she seemed to get progressively more attractive as her popularity increased, until she became the sultry southern belle she's known for being today (right around the time Jim Lee took over art chores, not-so-coincidentally). This one also has in-story explanation, since after the X-Men's rough battle with Nimrod that led to Nightcrawler and Rachel Summers going MIA, Rogue spent all night looking for them, but noticed that she looked like hell when passing a reflective window. Once the stores opened in the morning, she went to the mall for a makeover and liked how she looked. While her new clothes sadly didn't last, she most likely got in the habit of caring more about her appearance since then.
- When Gambit was first introduced, his appearance was rather sleazy and not all that attractive. Once Marvel decided that they'd keep him on as a good guy instead of having him turn out to be a villain, however, his appearance began to improve pretty quickly.
- When Wolverine was first introduced to the X-Men, he was about 5'4", quite unattractive, and apparently didn't like to bathe. As his popularity grew, he became less unattractive. Then the very tall and very good looking Hugh Jackman portrayed Wolverine in the X-Men movie and people seemed to forget that one of Wolverine's old nicknames was "dog face".
- Even more than the above, the classic Marvel example is the Thing. His irregular, monstrous appearance in FF #1 gradually normalized; by the second year, Ben looked like he does now. John Byrne felt that this took away from the tragedy of the character, and he had Ben regress to his original look, apparently intending it to be permanent. (Byrne's views were backed up by a fan letter complaining that the Thing was ugly now, when he used to be so handsome.) Byrne ultimately restored the Thing to his iconic appearance, but would not by a long shot be the last writer to "uglify" Ben.
- The same could be said for Ben's human form. In FF #1 Ben as a normal man looked ugly since he was a more antagonistic character toward the other three members of the FF. Later in stories where The Thing,(now a more lovable character) temporarily reverts back to his old self, Ben Grimm looks ruggedly handsome.
- The classic comic book example is, of course, Spider-Man. Drawn by Steve Ditko, Peter Parker was a skinny, thin-faced geek and Spider-Man was thin and more spider-esque. When John Romita, Sr, a former romance comic artist, took over the pencilling duties, Peter Parker became significantly more handsome and Spider-Man took on a more muscle-bound appearance. May be Handwaved in that when Ditko was drawing it, Spidey was a teenager, and as he got older and got real exercise to go with his superstrength, his frame may well have filled out naturally.
- Peter does look less spindly and more conventionally attractive even towards the end of Ditko's run.
- In a similar vein to the Thing, Deadpool's appearance was horrific when we first saw it, due to the artificial origin of his healing factor reacting with incurable cancer. Over time, it changed and simplified from "bubbles and nodules of flesh with random hair" to "flesh-coloured de-uglified Ben Grimm", and some artists go even further. In Cable & Deadpool, about 75% of his skin actually looked perfectly normal, with the rest just resembling bad acne. Didn't stop people from nearly retching when they saw him on the street. This is another that goes back and forth depending on who's drawing him, since sometimes he looks alright, others he's back to his horrific look. Since his power has been described as leaving his body tissue in constant, dynamic flux, this makes sense.
- Doris Husselmeyer of Ernie started out so ugly she gave people heart attacks and went from good-looking enough that dating Arnold Arnoldski was a step down for her to getting hit on by handsome bodybuilders on the beach. Possibly because of Executive Meddling.
- In issue #1 of Strangers in Paradise, Katchoo is very flat-chested and Francine's slightly overweight. By the time we come to the final issue, both women are bustier, much thinner and even have longer legs.
- In her first appearance, Tabitha Smith (a.k.a. Boom-Boom, a.k.a. Meltdown) of Marvel's X-Titles was deliberately drawn to have a very plain face, and this was a plot point. This is modern Tabitha.
- Jarael from the Star Wars comic Knights of the Old Republic is supposedly designed to defy the typical comic sexbomb and be someone who "works for a living". With some slight variation Depending on the Artist, she is portrayed as a svelte bombshell, clad in a chest-emphasizing sleeveless T-shirt with flowing white hair, a supermodel face (apparently occasionally modeled on Liv Tyler) unmarred by all but the most minor smudges (she works in a junkyard) and a few cosmetic tattoos.
- Fables - Inverted with Bigby Wolf who started off looking gritty but attractive but has slowly lost most of the features of a human face. Most noticeably he no longer seems to have eyes or a mouth. Beast swings wildly in appearance from handsome to bestial depending on how much Beauty still loves him, which usually isn't much.
- Sinestro, from DC Comics Green Lantern mythos, used to be drawn as a skinny guy with a huge head. As he's become more prominent recently, he's got bulkier now, and his head is average sized. Ironically, it means he's actually looking less villainous the longer he's a villain.
- In the original New Mutants run Wolfsbane had short, fuzzy, unflattering red hair (implied to be unable to grow very long at all...when she's in her human form) and a flat chest and at times would express her unhappiness at not being as beautiful as her teammate Dani Moonstar. She was (early on) depicted with a snub, almost doglike nose, sharp fangs, narrow eyes; an animalistic cast to her shape that was lost even by the end of the first issue of the regular comic. Nowadays she varies in height, often has long flowing hair and, depending on the artist, is much bustier, though her recent run in X-Factor has put her back to her original appearance. Her teammate Karma, a Vietnamese girl, was also depicted in an unflattering way compared to her more modern depictions, with a pug nose, downturned mouth and unflattering hairstyle. At least part of why Rahne looked as she did was her own powers interacting with with her severe problems concerning body image (she wants to be pretty, doesn't think she can be, thinks she shouldn't care because vanity's a sin and thus feel guilty for it, then feels guilty for that... thanks a lot, Rev. Craig.)
- Mind you, her appearance in X-Factor deviates from the standard attractive female look but is in no way ugly, she has some Annie Lennox kinda androgynous charm to it.
- When originally created, artist Bob McLeod intended Rahne to be fuller figured at 14 (issue 2), and Dani to be flat at 15. They are, too; for the first run. Rahne mostly envies Dani her long hair. '-it only grows when it's cut, and only t'this length...'
- Archie Comics enters into this in recent years with the former chubby, matronly moms of Archie & Betty suddenly getting a lot thinner, and previously hideous characters like Jughead's mom & Big Ethel getting much more normalized.
- Cleo, of Wet Moon, following a recent Animesque Art Shift has become somewhat slimmer & her facial features more anime. Considering creator Ross Campbell's love of chubby chicks, this was probably done for stricly pragmatic reasons.
- Jenny Sparks, of Stormwatch and The Authority, was introduced as flat-chested (which had no effect on her active sex life). Whether a given artist will retain this characteristic is a crap shoot.
- Iron Man - Happy Hogan was kind of like Mickey Rourke in reverse. He started out as an ugly-as-sin boxer (his Ironic Nickname stemming from the fact that he always seemed to be frowning), but as The Sixties went on, he was drawn to appear more attractive so that he actually had a prayer with Pepper Potts. Pepper herself was originally a pug-nosed, freckle-faced Girl Next Door to play up her envy of the beauty queens Tony Stark dated instead of her; she swiftly got a makeover meant to show that she was Beautiful All Along, but it somehow changed her facial features drastically.
- Sensor of the postboot Legion of Super-Heroes was a giant alien snake with the ability to create illusions, allowing her to appear as a beautiful woman. But that wasn't enough, apparently, as she was later "hyper-evolved" into a more human appearance.
- Incidentally, since she was originally a fairly attractive (apparently) snake alien, she considered her semi-humanoid form hideous.
- Black Adam started out as a villain with a hooked nose, pointed chin and slightly Sinestro-esque facial features. As his character has matured into an anti-heroic/anti-villainous knight templar type, he retained a hooked nose and arched eyebrows, although they became less prominent, but his jaw got stronger and larger, and his features more handsome, and while his features still look appropriately cruel and proud, he is now generally accepted as being good looking, to the point of The Rock being cast to play him in the film adaptation. Incidentally, the change in features made Adam look a lot like Marvel's Namor the Sub-Mariner. Their personalities are very similar to boot; it's a wonder Marvel didn't react to the new and improved Black Adam with a lawsuit.
- Sandman - Dream started out as looking kind of old and craggy when drawn by Sam Keith (he has been around since the first sentient life in the universe, you know), but most subsequent artists have him looking more or less like Robert Smith at the height of his career. Then again, since an Endless' appearance is affected by those perceiving them, this does make a degree of sense; his siblings similarly go up and down the scale of attractiveness throughout the series. Even Despair, who's supposed to be hideous, has a few appearances in the collage art for her entry in Endless Nights that look pretty nice if you're the sort who likes women with some meat on their bones.
- Inverted Trope with Raven in the New Teen Titans run, where she started out looking like a typical superheroine, and gradually her face got paler and sharper to the point where she didn't even look human, much less attractive (from the neck-up, anyway). To hear Marv Wolfman and George Perez tell it, this was purely due to Perez's evolving skill and subconscious awareness of her true nature, and they almost didn't notice themselves until they were ready to bring in Trigon, whereupon it became a plot point. In the 90s and 00s versions of the comics, however, Raven's reverted to hotness, even getting a trampstamp in her modern incarnation.
- Joker's Daughter went from this to this.
- The female Dove in Hawk & Dove has been made of this since her introduction. In her opening miniseries, Rob Liefeld infamously couldn't decide on her cup size, or even whether her costume had Absolute Cleavage, but by the time of her ongoing she subverted Most Common Superpower by having merely human-sized (large b-cup, with natural tear-drop shape!) breasts, something she was self-conscious about. Virtually every artist since has drawn her with larger breasts, however. Her human form's hair color has changed recently in Birds of Prey to match her costumed look, though this is more forgivable given that her team has two leggy blondes already.
- As pointed out in this Stupid Comics entry, the title characters of British Girls' Comic The Four Marys got prettier and more similar-looking as time went by.
- Squirrel Girl was a veritable Gonk in her debut. She's gotten much cuter since.
- Amanda Waller, pre-Flashpoint: fat and menopausal. Amanda Waller, post-Flashpoint: not so much. (Also possibly subjected to But Not Too Black, though even her chunky middle-aged self's facial features varied with the artist.)
- It's particularly notable in that this is one instance where a character becoming Progressively Prettier (read: another cookie cutter "sexy" female) hasn't been well-recieved - it robs Amanda of what made her unique. She may be short, overweight, and old, but she's one of the few people who can intimidate Batman, as seen in this famous panel.
- The Phantom of the Opera has gone from skull-faced Lon Chaney to badly-scarred Claude Rains to slightly sunburnt Gerard Butler. If you watch clips from the original film on Youtube, at least one comment will say that Chaney is too ugly. In the original book, 'the Phantom' also works as a description of how his face actually looks: yellow skin, a few wisps of hair on his head, and no nose. The book made it quite obvious that the phantom had leprosy... yet the most recent versions of the play, movie, and books portray him with elephantiasis... and not even the kind that you'd want to run away from.
This article shows the evolution of film portrayals of the Phantom over the years. From a purely technical standpoint, it makes a certain amount of sense, as that kind of makeup must be one hell of a pain in the ass. Still, it lacks a certain something in the "faithful to the original" department.
- The original Phantom looked almost undead right from early childhood, so leprosy is an unlikely candidate for his appearance. It's unlikely that it fully reflects any real deformity or disease.
- Let's not forget Julian Sands. Just Julian Sands, no mask, no makeup, no disfiguration of any kind.
- Sephiroth, as he appeared in some very early trailers for FFVII: Advent Children, looked quite different from his final self in the movie: he appears as far less effeminate, as well as more gaunt. This was changed later in production, apparently to reflect the effeminate "allure" that director Tetsuya Nomura wished for him to express.
- Emma Watson as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter. The first film practically nailed the look of Hermione right down to the mousy bed of hair. But over the progression of movies, they have more or less let the character look more attractive over time, to the point where the Beautiful All Along moment of the Yule Ball in "Goblet of Fire" is ruined thanks to the increasing attention to her looks, as opposed to the shocking reveal of the book's moment. This is because they were cast as children, and the actor's appearances changed dramatically throughout the course of the series - a great example is how Matthew Lewis looked in the first film and how he looked in the final movies.
- While how ugly Jonah Hex is widely depends on the artist, Josh Brolin's portrayal is downright handsome compared to Jonah's best appearance in the comic. They tried for the bug-eye, but Josh revealed in an interview that he could have lost his eye for real.
- Velma from Scooby-Doo used to be kind of a dumpy girl. After the live action movie, which had an attractive woman playing her, even the cartoon versions stated being drawn more appealingly.
- The first Halloweentown movie makes Luke, a goblin, look very strange in his true form (he spends most of the movie looking like a human). In the sequel he still looks weird, but it's noticeably downplayed. And then he was Brother Chucked and replaced by a handsomer Love Interest in the third and fourth films.
- Succubi were originally supposed to be ugly, but have evolved to be seductively beautiful. This also tends to correspond to how the legends have evolved - initially, they were creatures who just raped men in their sleep (thus being the source of erotic dreams and nightime ejaculations). Over time, the legend changed to succubi having to actively lure their victims into intercourse - thus, depictions shifted to depict more and more attractive creatures as logically, an ugly creature would have trouble getting a willing victim.
- In Greek Mythology Medusa is turned into a hideous monster with a head full of snakes. That is, her face was so hideously ugly that she could turn people to stone by looking at them. These days, film-makers have ditched the ugly face in favor of the snake-hair and made her petrification powers the result of inherent magical powers that are based in her eyes. As such, we have the likes of Uma Thurman in Percy Jackson as a gorgeous snake-haired woman, a Cute Monster Girl in Clash of the Titans, and an attractive actress in the Hallmark TV movie The Voyage of the Unicorn who is simply given sunglasses in order to make her safe enough to interact with other characters. At least one source covering the original myths (Bullfinch's?) had her sisters being hideous, but she herself maintaining her mortal beauty, presumably because Aphrodite (jerk that she is) wanted it to be more ironic. Some myths offer a compromise and state that Medusa was both beautiful and terrible at the same time. The Clash of the Titans remake follows this and has Medusa appear beautiful but then change when she attacks.
- Sirens were supposed to be bird women, but in modern times we tend to think of them as beautiful mermaids. To the point that in some languages the word for "siren" and "mermaid" is the same, so the two are basically equated. Some modern depictions of sirens still use the bird-woman rendition. Martin Mystery had an interesting interpretation of this concept. The siren could be a beautiful, blue-haired woman one moment, a vicious (but still pretty cool) bird monster the next.
- Even before they became mermaids, they were first depicted as birds with women's heads but then became beautiful women whose bodies as well as their voices were seductive.
- Sherlock Holmes was was not described as a particularly handsome man, being tall and thin, with thin lips and a hawk-like nose. Arthur Conan Doyle thought that the contemporary illustrations of the character were too attractive, making this Older Than Radio. Over the years, Holmes has been subject to a great deal of Adaptational Attractiveness, being portrayed by handsome actors such as Christopher Lee, Rupert Everett, Robert Downey Jr., and most recently Benedict Cumberbatch.
- Especially glaring in the animated series Sherlock Holmes in The Twenty Second Century, where Holmes is a blue-eyed blonde (the very opposite of Doyle’s depiction) with a character design that borders on Bishonen.
- Inverted with Watson, who was something of a ladies man in the books, and was rather intelligent in his own right, was turned into Holmes' dumpy idiot sidekick in nearly all other versions.
- Yarna d'al Gargan, the "fat, six-breasted exotic dancer" seen briefly in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, was apparently intended to be a glaringly ugly woman. Much of the fan fiction written about the inhabitants of Jabba's palace since then has turned this characterization completely on its head. While some writers still portray Yarna as a hideous Abhorrent Admirer, most other writers have treated her much more sympathetically. Illustrations of Yarna now depict her as unquestionably female (if still fat) and try to avoid making fun of her. In a story by science-fiction author A. C. Crispin called "Skin Deep," Yarna's backstory is provided: she is an Askajian, or a member of an alien species from the desert world of Askaj. Askajians are said to only appear fat because their bodies have evolved to retain large quantities of water on arid planets; this explains why Yarna is fat on Tatooine. However, on moister or cooler worlds, members of this species are much more slender. Yarna's companion in this story, Sergeant Doallyn, even feels himself attracted (yes, sexually) to her - although he is an alien himself. Yarna also talks about how much it always hurt her to hear Jabba's henchmen refer to her as fat and ugly, even if Jabba himself was attracted to her. And in another Star Wars sourcebook, it is revealed that "Yarna" means "beautiful" in Askajian.
- Mary Lynn Rajskub, who portrays Chloe O'Brian on 24, gradually received more makeup, better hair, and a more attractive wardrobe as her character grew in popularity among the fan base.
- Already played by Hollywood Homely Alyson Hannigan, Willow became steadily more attractive as Buffy the Vampire Slayer proceeded, partly from her character coming out out her shell and trying things other than the plaid skirt and pink sweater, and partly (probably) from Executive Meddling. While Willow certainly became more a colourful dresser her later clothes were not always particularly, well, fashionable ("How come you didn't tell me I look like a crazy birthday cake in this shirt?") which arguably is in character.
- Occasionally her later-season outfits bordered on haute couture. Dolly Parton famously said, "It takes a lot of money to look this cheap," and in Willow's case it sometimes took trendy fashion to look that eccentric.
- Roseanne from Roseanne. In the show, Roseanne and Dan were hard working, blue-collar Midwesterners, and Roseanne was appropriately unconcerned with her appearance. By the later seasons, Roseanne the actress had several plastic surgeries, lost some weight, and began wearing more flattering hair and makeup, turning her into this. (And this was before the final season, where everything went off the rails anyway.)
- Sam Puckett on ICarly spent about three seasons as a dedicated unchanging tomboy, to the point that she is an example for Suppressed Mammaries. Once Season 4 started, the actress had grown up and out, they started showing her off in more revealing clothing. In Season 5 the only aspects of her tomboyishness are behavioural, as she has started wearing girly, fashionable and figure hugging clothing.
- Elliot from Scrubs was transformed from a cute nerd to a very attractive woman, again, by Executive Meddling. It's partially from Elliot becoming more confident and comfortable with herself.
- Equally realistic is that as Elliot's salary increased, she would be able to afford better hairstylists, clothes, and makeup.
- Elaine Benes from Seinfeld.
- Several characters in The Office went through this, especially Pam. In the DVD commentary her actress, Jenna Fischer, mentions that she does her own hair and make-up for the character, at least in the earlier seasons. She has a rule that she won't spend more than a half-hour getting ready, since that's the most that Pam would. However, this all may have changed with "Fancy New Beesly" after she breaks up her engagement and begins pursuing Jim in season 3. And starts wearing her hair down... The general softening of the cast's appearances goes hand in hand with the show moving away from the oppressive pessimism of Season One towards a goofier, warmer sense of humor. Watch the last episode of Season One and then the first episode of Season Two, it's downright shocking, though the show is about as close to real life as it gets on American television as far as believable looking characters get. It wasn't until Erin came along that the show really pushed beyond what you'll see in a typical office.
- Charlie Brooker makes frequent jokes about how ugly and style-illiterate he is, admitting in a column that his haircuts are left up to the whims of his barber. As his TV career took off, however, he's frequently seen wearing nice clothes and sporting a longer, much more flattering hairstyle, his skin has become gradually nicer since he quit smoking, and he's lost weight. It's nice to see and it doesn't make him any less funny, but his stage persona's jokes about his ugliness, such as describing himself as "the result of a drunken bet at the face factory", don't make so much sense now that he's conventionally attractive.
- Rose from Two and A Half Men was first depicted as ugly woman, but the actress was too good looking, so her character was developed into a creepy stalker.
- Both Connor and Abby from Primeval were fairly unique looking when the series started out. Connor was a greasy haired nerd who dressed in a strange mish-mash of clothes and wonky hats while Abby was a bit of a punk chick who wore too much makeup. By the fourth season they had started dressing in more normal clothes and had much more flattering hairstyles. But they both kept some of their characters' original styles, just without going overboard.
- The Halliwell sisters in Charmed started the first season out with fairly ordinary and normal clothes and rather plain hairstyles. By season three they were wearing the latest fashions and their sex appeal was played up. Then around season 5 the outfits got really vampy.
- Demons as a whole got progressively prettier too, or at least progressively more human-looking. Some of the early demons were hideous or scary, while many of the later demons just looked like dark-haired people in leather. There was a justification for Cole, as he was going through the Heel Face Revolving Door and how demonic he looked depended on what side he was on, but sometimes demons just looked human with little reason.
- There was actually something of a reason, albeit one that was never addressed directly. It was said that in the universe of the show, the stronger, more upper-level demons are usually more human-looking (since interacting with humans makes it easier to gain power, and more power makes it easier to "glamour" and pass as human.) As the Charmed Ones got progressively stronger and their reputation began to build, the stronger (and therefore, more human-appearing) demons began to be the ones who came after them.
- Demons as a whole got progressively prettier too, or at least progressively more human-looking. Some of the early demons were hideous or scary, while many of the later demons just looked like dark-haired people in leather. There was a justification for Cole, as he was going through the Heel Face Revolving Door and how demonic he looked depended on what side he was on, but sometimes demons just looked human with little reason.
- Topanga on Boy Meets World was originally wore frumpy clothes and had wild, unruly hair to demonstrate her Granola Girl personality. However, as her personality shifted to being a normal Girl Next Door and the actress grew up, she was given more attractive clothes, hairstyle and makeup.
- Debra Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond where the first season Patricia Heaton had a short, unflattering haircut and dowdy stay-at-home mom clothes. As the seasons went on her hair was longer and better styled and her makeup and outfits more flattering.
- Joanie Laurer, better known to Professional Wrestling fans as Chyna, started her WWE career as a mannish-looking, Amazonian bodybuilding thug. Then she got implants, had her jawline shaved down, and some other cosmetic surgery. Then she kept getting cosmetic surgery, which turned her into what wrestling fans mostly called a "plastic train wreck". She also lost most of her muscles, which gave her body some weird proportions as the surgery had been done for her muscular physique.
- In general, WWE Divas who are brought in from the independent wrestling scene go through so many cosmetic surgeries while in the developmental leagues that by the time they actually debut in WWE, they look nothing like they used to. This is especially galling considering that some of the girls who get expensive surgery done while in developmental frequently don't get called up to WWE. Angel Williams (now TNA's Angelina Love), for example, was beloved by the fitness community for her natural abs before getting called into WWE developmental and told to soften up and get implants. Then they dropped her.
- Inverted with Molly Holly. When she was brought into WWE she was a pretty sweet country bumpkin with blonde pigtails. Then she was repackaged as a self-righteous prude where she dyed her hair brown, cut it short and started dressing in dowdy and conservative clothes. This got reversed in 2003 when she started wrestling in corsets and her hair grew out.
- Eberron's Shifters originally looked like this - and this is a female. However, later artists drew them either as being basically Hugh Jackman as the Wolf Man if male, and more like a wilder elf if female, seen here; or emphasizing the more Catgirl-like qualities of females, as seen here. This, of course, made Shifters far more popular than the Gonk-ier initial portrayal did.
- Zigzagged with the Daemonettes of Slaanesh in Warhammer and Warhammer 40000 who in their first appearance looked redicolously hideous. Then came the second variant which was the prettiest model range in the entire game. Then came 4th edition and Daemonettes went right back to hideous (though not rediculous).
- Pictured above is the eponymous character from the Max Payne series. Max was modelled on Sam Lake, one of the game's writers, for the first game, and ended up with a near-perpetual squint and constipated face. For the second game, actor Timothy Gibbs was hired as the base, so Max looked noticeably more generic.
- Kana from the Visual Novel Kana: Little Sister was drawn very realistically for someone dying of a renal disease, her body oddly developed due to poor bone growth. As such, the endings where she dies and the main character sees a vision of a healthy and well-proportioned Kana are even more emotional than they would be otherwise. Unfortunately, the people who made the remake seemed scared that people would find her "ugly", and remodelled her to a generic implausibly attractive Ill Girl. Some of the major differences are pointed out here.
- Of course, the original Kana still has features that are considered attractive, at least in Japan, since she is light-skinned and very petite, making her kawaii. The player character often comments on this.
- Calypso, Big Bad of Twisted Metal, lost his wife and daughter in a car crash that left him horribly burned. In the original game, Calypso had a face like raw hamburger... but as it was a real person in makeup, the result was kind of embarassing. The second game handled this much better with its animated endings, creating the definitive Calypso - still obviously scarred, but not as ridiculous. In the third game, the scars were reduced, and gone by the fourth. This could be written off as 989 having no clue what they were doing. In the Incog Inc. games (made up of several former Singletrac employees), Calypso doesn't look anything like he used to for some reason... but he still has no scars, aside from his missing eye (which he loses without explanation between the second game and Head-On).
- Halo: Cortana in the first game. Cortana in the second game.
- Reno in Final Fantasy VII at first wasn't supposed to be a pretty boy, (in contrast with Rufus for intance ). Later the Compilation gave him Generic Cuteness to bring him in line with fandom portrayal of the character
- Some Fans of Metal Gear Solid claim this happened with Otacon, who got progressively looked less scruffy, gained better-looking glasses, and his hair was less of a mess. His hair also goes from grey to dark brown, his eyes go from brown to blue (making him resemble blue-eyed-brown-haired Snake), and his build goes from skinny, to slim, to broad-shouldered and fit. Not to mention his fashion sense improves, from the incredibly ugly duffle coat he wears in the first, to a stylish, slimly-cut white coat partnered with black gloves in the fourth.
- In the Splinter Cell: Conviction forums, a number of fans have expressed distaste at the Ubisoft's drastic change of Anna Grimsdottir. In the first two games, she wears glasses and has a haircut and outfit befitting an office worker or bureaucrat. She lost the glasses (sorry Meganekko lovers) and looked a little prettier in Chaos Theory but still beared a resemblance to her past versions. Maybe she got contacts or lasik... Cut to the Joanna Dark cosplay look she adopts in Conviction.
- Dynasty Warriors is very guilty of this for most of its roster, with Zhao Yun being a prime example. The third fourth, and fifth games aren't too bad, but then once you reach the reboot in the sixth game he's getting too pretty for his own good, but in the seventh game he's a frickin' Jpop star!
- Castlevania has an odd example with Gaibon. In its first appearance in Super Castlevania IV, it was a visibly undead gargoyle, to the point that the bottom part of its chest was missing, leaving nothing but exposed ribs. When it returned in Symphony of the Night, these aspects were removed, resulting in a standard gargoyle form. Still not attractive, but no longer disgusting.
- In the original Yoshitaka Amano concept art for Final Fantasy VI, Setzer Gabbiani is pale-skinned and heavily scarred. In his appearance in the opening stages of Kingdom Hearts II, he's an attractive young man with a normal complexion; you might be able to catch sight of some faint scarring if you look very carefully.
- Bioshock's Little Sisters changed a bit between the first and second games, losing the beetle brow and inhumanly large eyes in favor of more childlike features. Of course, the sequel's protagonist has been mentally conditioned to love them...
- Chell from the first Portal game was supposed to look unkempt and a bit dirty, and she even had grey hairs. Word of God mentioned that she was supposed to look like that because she hasn't had any chance for any personal upkeep and the AI keeping her in storage never bothered. In Portal 2 she now looks like this even though she's been in stasis for years in a now mostly wrecked facility.
- Parodied in this fanart.
- Nina Cortex from the Crash Bandicoot series is more along the lines of Ugly Cute in her first few appearances, but, from Crash of the Titans onward, she looks like this.
- Red from Pokémon, while never originally ugly, was a squat, square-faced and simply-drawn ten year old. Thanks to the power of Sugimori's Art Evolution, Red's turned downright attractive in the Firered Leafgreen remakes. His eyes are larger, he looks relatively taller, and his face is generally less aggressive.
- Falkner got the same treatment in the remake. He was far from ugly in the original, but the remake made him into a full blown Bishonen, see for yourself.
- The minor Channeler class from the Generation 1 games started out as this and ended up as this. How an Uncanny Valley old woman became a cute Miko, I don’t know either.
- As with the Hex Maniac, who went from a creepy witch to a cute goth girl
- A male example--Based on what we see in Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, Captain Bailey appears to be aging in reverse. The wiki has pictures of both.
- Ibuki when she debuted often had weird proportions on her artwork while Elena was always Ms. Fanservice but as of the fourth game the developers strive to show her girlyness and cuteness even when she has full work gear.
- The hyenas in Digger gradually become less monstrous-looking (and more anthropomorphic) as they become more sympathetic (read: aren't hunting Digger).
- Bootsie from Friendly Hostility started out skinny and awkward, but eventually ended up being acknowledged in-series as attractive. This might have something to do with her leaving behind her years as an unpopular teenager and growing into a more confident adult who's actually comfortable in her own skin.
- Inverted in Doodle Diaries, where Zelda starts drawing herself in a more self-deprecating and honest way.
- Not a straight example, but Reynardine/Renard from Gunnerkrigg Court seems to spend less time as his small, angry teddy bear form and more as his impressive, proud-looking wolf form as his backstory is explored more and he becomes less of a comedic snarker and more of a sympathetic (and mystic) character.
- Partly due to Oglaf's Art Evolution and developing plot, Ivan the Apprentice has gone from very awkward-looking in the early comics to quite pretty in the more recent ones.
- Looks like Zoe bought that pushup bra after all.
- Betty Boop went through such a process during her Art Evolution. She started out as an anthropomorphic dog, and somehow ended up a cute flapper girl.
- Similar to the general 'Professional Wrestling' example above, the amount of cosmetic surgeries that female porn stars go through over the course of their careers is nothing short of ludicrous. With some, comparing a photo of them at the beginning of their careers with one in the later stages is like looking at a photo of two different women. This is often done in order to extend their working careers, as pornography is particularly ruthless in throwing performers on the scrap heap once they reach a certain age and, consequently lose their appeal with a large chunk of the audience.
- Courtney Love went from this to this. It's also a case of going back and forth from one extreme to the other.
- There's a miniature of Abraham Lincoln, originally designed to be handed out to people, in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. where he was intentionally made considerably handsomer so as to appeal to voters. (Lincoln was considered to be so homely that he made fun of his own appearance regularly, notably when he responded to an accusation of being two-faced by saying, "If I had two faces, would I be wearing this one?") This practice may seem to be impossible nowadays, but with Photoshop, you never know...
- This is very common--as people get older and gain more self-confidence, they can shed the awkwardness of their youth--glasses, braces, weight, etc. Plus, little by little, they learn what works best for them as far as hairstyles, clothing, and makeup, and as the average person's salary increase, they can afford the better versions of these.