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Horrible sweater grandma made

It truly is.


Adam: You know, some would say these antlers I'm wearing would be emasculating, but they'd be wrong.

Morgan: You're right, Adam. It's the sweater that makes you look gay.
X-Play "Non-Denominational Holiday Special"
"Gee. I hope this package doesn't have a bomb or a monster in it. GASP! IT'S EVEN WORSE THAN MY MOST HIDEOUS FEARS! It's another sweater for me from Jon's mother."

The Homemade Sweater From Hell is a sweater that is one step from being pixelated if it's on television - or otherwise garish. The sleeves might be different lengths, initials might be knitted into it in a bizarre fashion, it might be an awful color or an awful mix of colors, it might be a childish pattern in an adult sweater, or it might just be tacky. It might even be awfully itchy. And it was a gift from someone who picked it out or knitted it specially (most often parents and grandparents), so even if the character normally has taste, he'll have to wear it.

Sometimes it will actually look like a perfectly wearable sweater, but most characters will react to it as if it were the most hideous thing ever - an Informed Attribute that's like a distant unliving relative of Hollywood Homely.

This happens most often during Christmas Specials, since that's when most homemade sweaters from hell are worn in Real Life. But it doesn't have to be Christmas. A character with a sufficiently bad sense of style or financial problems might wear them all year, weather permitting.

A Sub-Trope of Unwanted Gift Plot.

Compare Impossibly Tacky Clothes.

Contrast Sweater Girl.

Examples of Homemade Sweater From Hell include:


  • Ranma One Half: More like the Homemade Scarf from Hell in this case...

 Akane: Here. It's, uh, for you. It's kind of a Christmas present. It's not very fancy but...

Ranma: I-It's a shawl. No- No, I see. It's a fishing net.

Akane: It's a scarf, you lame-brain! I made it myself!


Comic Books

  • Given by Wally West (The Flash) to his wife one Christmas- not to be worn, but as a reminder of her speech of what really mattered in giving.

 Linda: Not that it's not lovely, but...

Wally: But it's so not. I know. It's repugnant. Wear it, and I'll claim I don't know you. And yet interestingly enough... not the point.

    • The sweater is actually store-bought, and a running joke in the story is wondering who buys the hideous things.
  • One Scamp story has the Tramp trying to deal with an embarrassing dog sweater his owners made for him. He literally gets stuck in it trying to get it off, until Scamp shrinks it off using cold water. Unfortunately, it shrinks small enough that Lady makes Scamp wear it instead.
    • This story appears to be adapted from the animated short Pluto's Sweater, where Minnie gives Pluto a sweater and Figaro ends up getting it after it shrinks. (And by the way, it was turned into a comic too. Interestingly, the original short wasn't set at Christmastime, but the comic adaptation was.)
  • This Disney comic features an old, senile woman who knits sweaters for everyone, but isn't very knowledgeable about such things as, say, making sure the sleeves are the same length. Which is Obfuscating Stupidity, since she's actually a Classy Cat Burglar in disguise.
  • Played with in Archie Comics stories.


  • Colin Firth's character in Bridget Jones' Diary.
  • Three Amigos. On El Guapo's birthday, his bandits give him an ugly two-tone sweater as a present. See it on YouTube here at about 6:55.
  • The Grinch is forced to wear one of these when he attends the Christmas Eve festivities in the live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
  • Alluded to in Home Alone. Kevin tells the snow-shoveler that his grandma gave him a hand-knit sweater with a giant bird on it, which he refused to wear because of a fear of getting beaten up at school.
  • In the film Better Off Dead, Jenny gives her husband Al a truly horrific hooded aardvark suit for Christmas, complete with ears and a snout. He makes the comment that everyone will be wearing one next year, then goes outside and finds his neighbor is indeed wearing one as well.
  • The classic French comedy Le Pere Noel Est Une Ordure ("Santa Claus Is A Bastard"): One of the characters is offered as a Christmas present such an ugly homemade sweater, he initially thinks it's a mop.
  • A Running Gag in Disney's The Santa Clause films, where Santa's son's stepdad wears nothing but these kind of sweaters.
  • One is worn by the Television Director in The Beatles A Hard Days Night. The Beatles specifically comment on how awful it looks. This was the actor's own sweater he had received as a gift. He later made the sweater itself a gift to a fan club who asked him for it.
  • In the film Make the Yuletide Gay, the mom seems to wear nothing but them.
  • In Arthur Christmas the titular character wears one, and if the production notes are to be believed, has one for every day of the year.


  • Mrs. Weasley tends to knit jumpers for all the children for a two-fold purpose: to show the Weasleys have very little money and because she's so motherly. No-one complains because she's so nice and jolly and they don't want to hurt her feelings. Then again, after the last book showed what she is capable of, perhaps they are too scared. It's mostly Ron and Percy who complain about their jumpers, rather than all the children. It's also a bit of heartwarming for Harry. He tends to be given them as presents as well which not only makes him an unofficial member of the family but it's also the first regular Christmas presents in his entire life since his biological family don't give him presents for any occasion.
  • Mrs. Whitlow, Unseen University's fearsome housekeeper, is noted to knit these kinds of sweaters. They always end up in donation bins, but Ankh-Morpork being Ankh-Morpork, there's at least one person who can wear them.
    • John "Not a Vampire at All" Smith, president of the Uberwald League of Temperance, is infamous for his dreadful pullovers.
  • Mark Darcy (Colin Firth's character) in the first Bridget Jones book.
  • A Jurby, in The Meaning of Liff, is an article of clothing knitted by an incompetent aunt which reaches to the knees and has at least three armholes.
  • From the poem "Christmas Thank Yous" by Mick Gowar:

 Dear Auntie

Oh, what a nice jumper

I've always adored powder blue

and fancy you thinking of

orange and pink

for the stripes

how clever of you!


Live Action TV

  • The quote above was when Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb were wearing sweaters like this.
  • In an episode of Pushing Daisies, Emerson Cod complains to the Coroner about the Christmas sweater the Coroner is wearing and how a Christmas sweater is a stupid gift to get for Christmas, since you can only wear it on Christmas.
  • ICarly- the sweater vest that Freddie's mom picked out for his first date.
  • One early Hannah Montana episode had Miley get a sweater with what looked like a stuffed cat in the front and back... AND it meows!
* The same episode had Oliver with a blue puppy dog that his mother gave to him for Christmas. It barked out "Jingle Bells".
  • From Firefly, Jayne's "Cunning Hat" may not be a sweater, but it surely must qualify, considering that it's ridiculous-looking, knit, and made by his mother. Subverted in that he gives every indication that he loves the hideous thing.

 Wash: A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything.

  • An episode of Lizzie McGuire revolved around Lizzie's reluctance to wear an ugly, bright red homemade unicorn sweater in her Yearbook photo. No one from her school likes it, even Miranda dislikes it while Gordo later went against it by letting Lizzie wear a white blouse for the yearbook photo instead. (Due to the green paint that Ed was to attempt to whack Miranda's outfit as ordered by Kate--who wore the same skirt and orange blouse, Lizzie would have retaken the photo unless she had borrowed another blouse that did not happen in this episode despite the suggestion.)
* Ironically, Jo and Sam would have turned against her friends after seeing Lizzie wear a different shirt without the unicorn in front. They sounded reluctant and were unaware that they hated Lizzie's friends as of that episode while the other episodes prove that none of Lizzie's friends were hated by the McGuire parents.
  • In a recent Mike and Molly, Mike buys a repugnant green sweater from his partner's cousin.
  • On The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Maddie rigs the Secret Santa so that London draws her name, hoping for an expensive gift. However, London, after being told that homemade gifts are more thoughtful, knits Maddie a sweater... in the loosest sense of the word "sweater", since it has three arms and no neckhole.
  • Bill Cosby of The Cosby Show wears these all the time, coining the phrase "Cosby sweater".
  • In the Santa Claus episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Gypsy gives Mike a sweater with "JOIKE" embroidered on it. (She started making it for Joel, but then he escaped in a convenient plot device. Mike actually likes it though.
  • Regina knits one of these for Steve to celebrate their one-month anniversary on The Steve Harvey Show.
  • An episode of Leave It to Beaver was about Beaver giving his mother a sweater that she really didn't like, but was too nice to tell him about it. And then he suggested that she should wear it to a parent/teacher meeting.
  • Harold and Hilda of Ever Decreasing Circles wear matching homemade sweaters in every episode. It never turns up in the script, but it's heavily implied that Hilda hand-knit these herself.
  • On The Late Late Show in Ireland, Christmas jumpers are Serious Business. Current presenter Ryan Tubridy caused real controversy when it was hinted that he might not wear one for his first Toy Show. The maroon jumper he eventually appeared in was auctioned off for charity, for a price of €1,050. The next year he caused outrage again by suggesting on Twitter that he wouldn't wear one. The nation loves the jumpers, the man, it would seem, does not.
  • On That 70s Show, Hyde is given one of these by Kitty on his eighteenth birthday.
  • UK TV presenter Noel Edmonds is known for wearing these, especially on Noel's Christmas Presents. And when he presented Multi-Coloured Swap-Shop, he wore a jumper that fitted the title.


  • The Dutch yearly musical program Kinderen voor Kinderen (Children singing songs about world problems and other things that occupy children's minds) had the song Kriebeltrui (Itchy Sweater)

Newspaper Comics

  • In Cul De Sac, 4-year-old Alice knocks herself silly by running to give her mother a hug while her mother is wearing one of these.
  • Garfield often gets these as Christmas presents from Jon's mother, and is forced to wear them by Jon. An early strip (1981-12-27) shows the cat tying a loose end to a post and running to unravel his way out.

Real Life

Video Games

  • Phoenix had a pink sweater with P inside a heart, made to him by his girlfriend in Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Trials and Tribulations. As Mia puts it, "That P doesn't stand for Phoenix, anyway".
  • One mission in Bully had Jimmy receiving a terrible Christmas sweater from his mother, and had to walk all the way back to the dorm to change it.
  • Even World of Warcraft has these. Behold the gaudy Winter Veil sweater!

Web Animation

  • In Homestar Runner, the stairway of the Brothers Strong's house has pictures of Strong Mad and The Cheat wearing hand-made holiday sweaters, implying some relation knits Christmas sweaters for all four residents, despite their....unique physiques making for some weird measurements. Also, Homestar receives one as a Decemberween gift from Marzipan's parents in A Death Defying Decemberween.

Web Comics

  • Nanase from El Goonish Shive often wears a cutesy heart sweater to please her mother. She changes out of it whenever possible, because it tends to subvert the badass image she likes to project.
  • This.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Brian gets one of these on Family Guy in "A Very Special Family Guy Freakin' Christmas":

 Lois: Brian, you're not wearing the sweater I made you.

Brian: Well, y'know, it's a little warm in here ...

Lois: Don we now our gay apparel!

Brian: * puts on the (very flamboyant) sweater* It doesn't get much gayer than this.

  • In the Garfield Christmas Special, Jon gets a Christmas sweater that flows far past the tips of his fingers.
    • He also gets some of these in the strip. On one occasion, he got one that didn't even have a hole for his head.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants once made Squidward an itchy sweater made from his own eyelashes. To make up for it, he makes another sweater out of tears.
  • In an episode of Justice League, J'onn J'onzz (Martian Manhunter) is visiting the Kents (Superman's family) one Christmas. Martha gives him a sweater but it's too large. J'onn is pleased with the gift though and says he can grow into it, and promptly uses his shapechanging abilities to do just that.
  • Among the many presents gifted to Bloo from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends by his stalker-girl Berry, includes a dumb-looking sweater. Inverted in that he actually likes it, since it fits him so well. Being inhuman, he probably does have a hard time finding clothes that "fits really well across the chest".
  • Implied in The Simpsons episode "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace":

 Bart: (holding one of Lisa's presents) Hocus pocus, mucus pukus! My powers tell me you're getting a homemade sweater-possibly yellow!

Lisa: Mom, make Bart stop!

Marge: Bart, put down that yellow sweater.

    • Dr. Hibbert also frequently wears one when he's off-duty, since his family is frequently a parody of The Cosby Show.
  • An episode of Ka Blam! had a scene where Henry's mom gives him an embarrassing purple sweater with a train on it.
  • Kim Possible's Nana presents her with a rather bulky wool sweater (in Florida, in the summer). Taking it off messes up Kim's hair worse than any fight or Death Trap ever did.
  • On Teen Titans Mother Mae-Eye has Starfire wear an oversized green sweater with a red stripe.
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