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"When in crime one is fully employed

Your expression gets warped and destroyed:

It's a penalty none can avoid;

I once was a nice-looking youth;

But like stone from a strong catapult,

I rushed at my terrible cult --

Observe the unpleasant result!

Indeed I am telling the truth!"
Sir Despard Murgatroyd, Ruddigore

Using certain evil superpowers or evil artifacts will leave characters scarred, disfigured, or deformed. So will committing acts of evil repeatedly.

When evil makes you ugly, it's often to exhibit the "side effects" of obtaining untold amounts of evil power or of using that power to hurt innocent people. The external form morphs to match the internal form.

Since evil super villains care only about obtaining power (typically at the expense of everyone else), they generally shrug it off when they suddenly age by 100 years, have limbs that they didn't have before, or can't go out in public anymore. This is because these changes usually have no negative effects other than the ugliness. A villain that has aged a hundred years, while he may be no wiser, will somehow avoid being physically hindered by the extra years. The villain with the extra limb will find neat uses for it...

Trying to hide with makeup is sometimes tried, because Make Up Is Evil.

In video games, such transformations may be caused directly by less-than-honorable actions taken by PCs. The transformation may either grow or shrink in intensity the more evil one becomes.

Taken to the extreme, the evil transformation that corrupts the super villain could do them in.

Sometimes, an attempt at this trope fails -- the character's new features improve their appearance.

When Beauty Equals Goodness, this is used to mark Face Heel Turns.

Compare The Corruption, Evil Costume Switch, and Evil Makes You Monstrous and What Measure Is a Non-Cute? and

Contrast with The Makeover, Evil Is Sexy. See also Beauty Equals Goodness where beauty is seen as proof of being good, regardless of if its true or not

Examples:


Anime and Manga

  • Claymore: When the eponymous Ladies Of War tap into their Super-Powered Evil Side, they inevitably become fuck ugly.
    • Apparently their normal forms aren't entirely without taint either. When a band of human bandits approaches to rape Teresa, several of them turn off-screen and vomit upon seeing her begin to disrobe for it. Proof that they are already on the path of being ugly.
      • Maybe not. The Organization does have to implant the Yoma flesh into them in the first place – that could have just been scarring from the operation that they were seeing.
    • Dae of the Retrieval Squad is another example. He obviously has ill-intent in mind when he experiments on the Claymores, and thus, half of his face is fucked up.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: White-Haired Pretty Boy Marik was hardly a good guy, but he's got nothing on his disfigured Superpowered Evil Side for sheer malice. Notably, the more Axe Crazy Dark Marik gets, the more his veins stand out, the more his eyes bulge, and the more his face stretches.
    • Untill he slips into Narm territory that is.
    • Takuma Saioh goes through the same process the more the Light of Destruction possesses him. By the time the Light chases out his soul and completely takes hold of his body, his face looks like a stage mask with a permanent distorted grimace.
  • Kabuto, for most of his screentime looked pretty normal, even if he technically never really was a good guy. After taking Orochimaru's place however...
  • Justin Law in Soul Eater after a Face Heel Turn he becomes Asura's dragon and after being disfigured he has half his face burned and shows his corruption.

Comic Books

  • Sin, the daughter of Captain America's Arch Enemy the Red Skull, received horrible facial scars in an explosion when she tried to put her father's mind into Steve Rogers' body. She is now her father's daughter in every way.
    • The Skull himself literally took on his infamous moniker after getting hit with his own Dust of Death after one skirmish with the Captain[1].
  • Zig-zagged in Thor and Loki: Blood Brothers. Loki is withered, nearly toothless, and looks decades older than his biological mother. Then the evidence starts stacking that, in this continuity at least, Odin intentionally warped and molded Loki into both ugliness and evil so that arrogant, brutish Thor would look better by comparison.


Film

  • Harry Potter: Voldemort practically turns into a snake from his dealings with the darker sides of magic.
  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Near the end of the film, one of the Mooks drinks a concoction that gives him incredible size and strength...and glowing red skin with horrible acne.
  • Nanny McPhee: Inverted. The title character starts as an ugly witch, but as the children realize that she is doing good, and grow more affectionate towards her, she becomes more and more attractive (until she is Emma Thompson).
  • Star Wars: Palpatine experiences Rapid Aging from his use of the Dark Side
    • In addition, other Sith, such as Darth Sion, from the Expanded Universe experience this.
      • Not to mention that Anakin wouldn't have fallen into that lava if he hadn't turned evil.
        • That might even be true. The expanded universe seems to have an alarming large number of Sith who suffer accidents that horrifically disfigure them. In a universe where the Force exists, it might be a form of Laser-Guided Karma that hits them when this happens.
        • Even before falling into the lava, Anakin experienced slight changes in appearance (the glowing yellow eyes in particular).
        • Palpatine, in particular, got that way from getting the piss shocked out of him when Mace Windu deflected his force lightning back at his face.
  • Willow: Bavmorda. The more black magic she uses, the uglier she gets.
  • Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street. It's partially justified since he was burned to death, but the dream demons probably contributed to his ugly, disfigured look too.


Literature

  • Oscar Wilde played with it in: Dorian Gray's picture doesn't just grow old in the place of its possessor, it also bears the cosmetic consequences of his sins, growing ever uglier as Dorian descends into depravation. Notice that by the end of the story the picture is nearly monstrous but Dorian is about 40 years old at most, so most of the change must have come from evil as opposed to aging.
  • Lord of the Rings: While living in a cave for a few hundred years also does its work, Gollum's precious affects his appearance greatly.
    • In the backstory it's mentioned that Sauron, who used to be a master shapeshifter and used to make use of a beautiful, benevolent appearance was eventually so consumed by wrath that he could only take the form of terrible Dark Lord after his body died in the fall of Numenor.
      • Morgoth, Sauron's old boss, had the same thing happen to him after he destroyed the Trees of Valinor.
  • This is apparently a law of the setting in The Jewel Kingdom, although it's not elaborated on in much detail.
  • Tom Riddle from Harry Potter is repeatedly described as having been handsome as a student, but by the time of the "First Wizarding War", at the height of his dark powers, he is skeletally thin, bald, has pale white skin, bloodshot eyes and slits for nostrils.
    • We do see him in a Pensieve memory Dumbledore has of him entering his office to ask to be the Defense of Dark Arts professor after he began dabbling in Dark Arts but before he gained power, and Harry notes that he had already lost his good looks by then and was beginning to resemble the pale, snake-like creature he would fully become later on. Even many years before that when Tom Riddle was still pretty handsome, he was stated to have already begun to look a little pale by the time he took a job in a store to get hold of an ancient artifact.
    • Bellatrix and Narcissa are more mundane examples. Bellatrix was once beautiful, but her years of incarceration in Azkaban which were punishment for her evil deeds left her a withered twisted shell of her former self. When Harry sees Narcissa for the first time, he notes that she would be pretty if she didn't have an ugly expression on her face all the time.
  • In Swan Song, many people injured by nuclear bombs in World War III wind up with a condition known as Job's Mask, where growths overtake their faces. These eventually fall off, leaving good people attractive and healed, but the bad guys wind up hideously deformed. One villain is so horrified by his appearance that he puts on a mask he refuses to take off.
  • In The Twits, Roald Dahl explicitly states that Mrs Twit looked quite nice once but has become ugly from having ugly thoughts all her life.
  • Many versions of "Cinderella" include the idea that Cinderella's sisters used to be beautiful but grew to be ugly because they were jealous and cruel.
  • In the Drizzt novels, the ritual of zin-carla brings back a dead person as an undead revenant that retains the appearance and skills it had in life along with all of the other advantages/disadvantages of being undead. The revenant is placed under the total mental control of the cleric of Lloth invoking the ritual, and the strain of it physically withers the cleric. It's heavily implied that Matron Yvonnel Baenre's wrinkled appearance isn't due to her age (though she is over a thousand years old, she would normally still be beautiful since she's a Drow) but because she invoked zin-carla in the past. Twice. The same thing happens to Matron Malice when she invokes zin-carla on Zaknafein in a bid to kill Drizzt.


Tabletop Games

  • This is one of two options available to the Abyssal Exalted. As their permanent Essence score increases, they must either work to become the beautiful and stunning incarnations of death, or allow their bodies to decay into putrescence and rot.
  • The title characters of Leviathan: The Tempest have their human forms become steadily less so as their Karma Meter plummets.


Toys

  • Played straight in Bionicle due to creative license, but averted in the canon storyline. When the Av-Matoran of Karda Nui got turned into evil henchmen by the Makuta, they only received their ugliness after being mutated by them through other means. Yet in the comics and books, they went through the makeover right away, to ensure that the kids reading them would get the message immediately.


Video Games

  • Fable I: The main character has his looks change for the worse the more evil they get.
  • Fall From Heaven: The Orcs are human worshipers of a god, who were deformed when the god fell (thus becoming evil).
  • Knights of the Old Republic: In both games, the main PC character gets gradually more sinister-looking as he/she commits more "evil" deeds.
  • Mass Effect 2: Commander Shepard's scars (and, eventually, eyes) will glow red according to how Renegade the Commander is. You can remove the scars by building a specific ship upgrade.
  • Black and White: In Black and White 2, if you choose to do mostly evil actions, your hand-cursor will go from a healthy pallor and trimmed nails to having noticeably tanner skin and claw-like nails.
  • The Neverhood: When Klogg stole Hoborg's crown, he turned from a normal-looking klay-person to a bug-eyed, fanged, sharp-cheeked monstrosity. The Bad Ending has the same happen to Klaymen.
  • In Warcraft Cho'Gall's association with the Old Gods has led to mutations like spines sprouting from his skin, one of his mouths becoming a beak, and his heads sprouting tentacles. No, the second head isn't one of them, all Ogre Mages have them.
    • Deathwing's body is horribly scarred and twisted due to his use of the Demon Soul and association with the Old Gods, with metal plates fastened all over it to stop his body tearing itself apart.
  • Warhammer: Serving the Chaos Gods will inevitably result in receiving various mutations such as horns, unusual skin color or tentacles. These changes do put strain on their psyche though, and it's not rare for a rising champion to receive too many in quick succession and become a mindless Chaos Spawn.
  • In In Famous, going down the evil route will cause the main character's skin to turn gray, and to develop what seem to be electrical burns on his head and clothes.
  • Both played straight and subverted by the Dunmer in The Elder Scrolls. Previously, they were known as the Chimer and had pretty golden skin. According to one legend, when the Tribunal betrayed Nerevar, Azura cursed the whole species with eyes as red as fire and skin as grey as ash. Somewhat subverted in that the Tribunal kept their former appearance; the evil-looking Dunmer really had nothing to do with the betrayal. Also, the whole story may just be allegorical for the physical changes caused by living in a blasted hellscape of ash and lava.
  • Justified by Gabriel Belmont regarding Carmilla, the tyrannical vampire queen in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. In spite of her attempt to make herself sexy so that she can attract hapless victims into her prey, Gabriel sees through this very easily (players should immediately recognize her failed disguise as ugly as well) and proceeds to give her a Karmic Death.
  • Many of the Tainted in Lusternia. Notably, this trope is justified: the Tainted venerate undeath as an exalted state of being, so the blue skin, red eyes, and profound decomposition are happening for a good reason. Some of their aristocrats are hundreds of years old. Also, there are plenty of sexy Tainted - if you're into that kinda thing.


Western Animation

  • The Superfriends episode "Universe of Evil" portrayed an evil Justice League from a Parallel Universe. For the most part, they look just like their normal selves, but with different costumes. Superman gets some weird eye makeup. Wonder Woman particularly stands out, as she has the exact same costume as her normal self, but just seems really hagged-out. Either this trope is at work, or "our" Wonder Woman relies heavily on talented makeup artists for her good looks.
  • In Batman Beyond, the radioactive treatment given to him for the exposure to his own mutagen nerve gas leaves Derek Powers looking like a pitchblack skeleton surrounded by fluorescent green tissue.
  • Nerissa of W.I.T.C.H. looks incredibly ancient with silver hair and nearly grey skin, despite her being roughly around her fifties or sixties, when her former guardian friends all have more normal appearances. According to Cassidy, draining her life force for extra power has done this to her.
  • Beauty and The Beast is comparatively subtle about this--as Gaston gets more and more obsessed with killing the Beast, he begins to stand and move in a more bestial manner, and he stops trying to keep his hair and clothing tidy. The Beast, by contrast, seems more and more human as he spends time around Belle.

Notes

  1. or in this case, The Captain and Captain America, as Steve was currently operating under the identity of "The Captain" and John Walker was Cap at the time of the incident
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