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Men seldom make passes

At girls who wear glasses.
Dorothy Parker, "News Item"

The typical Hollywood perception of girls (or, for that matter, guys) wearing glasses is that they are nerdy, homely, or otherwise undesirable in various ways.

These ways could include the "sex appeal" department, and it could also include the strangely instantaneous deletion of glasses from the face of any up-and-coming hero or heroine in stories, movies, or television shows. Depending on your personal preference, this could be part of an Unnecessary Makeover. Always the first step in a Makeover Montage. (Oddly enough, a character that loses his/her specs as part of this trope almost never suffers afterward from the sort of vision problems that presumably required them to be worn in the first place.)

Pretty much, if "the glasses must go," then the example must go here.

A common step in a Beautiful All Along transformation. Also see The Glasses Come Off, when the glasses are ditched so the character can be more Badass. Recently, an "Evil Through and Through" variation has started occurring in anime, where hidden villains remove their glasses to show that... well, yes, they are beautiful all along, but they don't have to hide their intentions anymore.

Per Rule 34, there are of course exceptions to this work for writers who consider glasses to be sexy, and pornographic websites dedicated to people wearing glasses can be found without much effort.

A common way to avert this one is to turn the character into a Badass Bookworm.

Examples of The Glasses Gotta Go include:


Advertising

  • Inverted in a series of Dutch commercials where 'unsexy' people where turned into deadsexy people by giving them glasses.

Anime and Manga

  • Yuki Nagato of Suzumiya Haruhi gives up her Scary Shiny Glasses when she protects Kyon from another Sufficiently Advanced Alien, and he comments that she looks better without them.
    • And this becomes a plot point multiple times. Whenever Kyon needs to tell the difference between an alternate-reality Nagato or the one he knows, it's either used as a motif or a definite emotional encounter for Kyon - the one he knows no longer wears glasses. Also, it proves useful during "Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody", when Kyon meets a past version of Nagato who doesn't know who he is yet - she's wearing glasses; when she turns out to have the ability to "synchronize" with her future self, and thus downloads her memories of him, she takes off her glasses without prompt, thus informing Kyon that this is his familiar Nagato.
    • Her unprotected eyes then become Kyon's means of judging her mood and hence the danger level of the current situation. He gets called out on this by Clingy Jealous Girl Haruhi because he's paying too much attention to somebody other than herself.
  • Aizen gives up his glasses when he reveals himself to be the true villain in Bleach, in this case going from Hidden Villain to full-out Badass.
  • Likewise, Quattro from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha seemed to be a goofy Dojikko villainess at first, but abandons her glasses when she reveals just how ruthless she is. Likewise Due, upon abandoning her disguise.
  • Ordinary maid Emma from Victorian Romance Emma turns out to be gorgeous when she's persuaded to take off her glasses and dress up for a ball. Unfortunately, this being the age before contact lenses, she can barely see a thing.
  • Ouran High School Host Club does this when Tamaki first removes Haruhi's glasses, revealing her large, bishonen-style eyes. The host club insists she wear contacts from then on, as her eyes are apparently a draw for female customers. Flashbacks reveal that she only recently wore the glasses in the first place and normally wore contacts -- the glasses were only a temporary thing anyway.
  • Miu Fuurinji from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple inverts this trope. She wears glasses to tone down her appearance because she stood out too much and got ostracized for it at her last school.
  • In D.N.Angel there's a scene where Satoshi asks Risa for help in an investigation, and she thinks he's asking her out on a date. At first she's put off by him, but then starts to think he might be cute...if he takes off his glasses. She then asks him to take them off, and he does. (They're back on in later scenes, however.)
  • Carly from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's looks incredibly beautiful without her glasses, but while her Super-Powered Evil Side doesn't need them, she's Blind Without'Em.
  • Kirihara Misaki, from Darker Than Black, tends to lose her glasses in her more fanservicey scenes; they're more Stoic Spectacles than Meganekko glasses and make her look more aggressive and professional. In one case, a friend stole them for exactly this reason when she decided to dress her up as a "punishment." However, since Kirihara actually needs them, she spent most of that episode squinting.
  • A one-time character in the Sailor Moon manga looks absolutely stunning when her glasses are knocked off - but since she can't see a thing without them, she immediately starts groping around the floor looking for them. Usagi then starts wondering if Umino's appearance would improve as dramatically if he took his glasses off. According to Naoko Takeuchi, it would.
  • Akemi Homura from Puella Magi Madoka Magica, as part of her Adrenaline Makeover. The taking off of the glasses is Justified by using magic to heal her eyes. This also transform her from being an Adorkable into a Tall, Dark and Bishoujo character.
  • In Heartcatch Precure, Erika ends up having Tsubomi get rid of her glasses as part of her own makeover, though it doesn't initially stick - mostly because she can't stand someone so energetic. She ends up letting it stay, but she's spotted from time to time with her glasses on, but by the end of the series, she has them back on... and ends up having them off again in time for the third Pretty Cure All Stars movie.

Comic Books

  • Subverted (and confirmed) in, of all places, Archie Comics. In one comic, Veronica, always at the forefront of style, chooses to wear glasses with no lenses in order to look more fashionable. Ironically, everyone feels sorry for her because they absolutely know that glasses always make women look ugly.
    • Another story showed Betty wearing glasses for school while Veronica taunted her that she'd only attract "nerds and dweebs" (Betty didn't care one way or the other). When she saw Betty was actually attracting attention from handsome guys instead, she snatched Dilton's glasses in an attempt to show her up. The prescription was so high that she couldn't see, however, leading her to flirt with the principal.
  • Played straight in Watchmen. Laurie finds Dan much more attractive without his giant glasses. When they go into hiding at the end and forge new identities, he has apparently ditched the glasses in favor of contacts.
  • Superman couples this with The Glasses Come Off. Mild-mannered Clark Kent wears glasses, but he removes them to become the dashing Superman, with whom Louis Lane falls in love.

Fan Fiction

Film

  • The Princess Diaries (2001). The guy pulls them off her face and breaks them in his hand. That's right, not only is it shockingly, willfully unattractive to wear glasses on a day-to-day basis, you shouldn't even own them, little missy. Or remember you spent hundreds on that one pair.
  • Parodied in Not Another Teen Movie, where the protagonist is obviously beautiful, but all the guys are horrified by her glasses and ponytail, to the point that she's deemed more difficult to turn into a beauty queen than a pair of Siamese twins joined at the head and what appears to be a troll.
  • In the movie spoof Monster in the Closet, the hero is an overt Clark Kent parody: every time his glasses come off, the heroine literally goes into a slack-jawed trance at how handsome he "suddenly" is. And then the same thing happens with the monster, and it kidnaps him.
  • One of the first steps of the makeover in She's All That is glasses removal.
  • One of the older (though almost certainly not the oldest) examples comes with the Ruby Keeler character in the 1933 musical Footlight Parade.
  • Subverted in Scary Movie 2. When Theo tries to seduce the nerdy graduate assistant into giving her the keys out of the Haunted House, she takes off his glasses in hopes that it makes him prettier. All it does is make his eyes cross.
  • L.A. Confidential: A couple high-ranking characters tell up-and-coming police Sgt. Edmond Exley to "lose the glasses", since he wouldn't fit in as the only detective wearing them. He takes their advice as best as he can, going without them while sitting at his desk and while being photographed. This leads him to forget his glasses before a shoot-out. Oops!
  • In Strictly Ballroom, one of the first things Scott does after agreeing to dance with Fran is ask if she really needs her glasses, and then takes them off. The glasses are never seen again, and Fran's dancing (and love life) rapidly improves as soon as they're gone.
  • Toula of My Big Fat Greek Wedding gets contacts during her Makeover Montage.
  • Christopher Nolan tried to find excuses for Cillian Murphy to take off his glasses as Dr. Crane in Batman Begins, so his baby blues could get more screentime.
  • In the Spider-Man film, when Peter Parker gets his super powers, it corrects his eyesight. Mary Jane only starts to notice him after he stops wearing his glasses. In the sequel, Peter starts losing his powers and wearing his glasses again, but he sheds them once more when his self confidence (and powers) start returning.
  • Subverted in How To Marry a Millionaire (1953): A running gag is Marilyn Monroe's character quotes the Dorothy Parker line at the top of the page, takes her glasses off... and walks into things.
  • Subverted in in The Pink Panther (2006): Inspector Clouseau puts the finishing touch on a plain woman's glamorous transformation by removing her glasses. She squints, stumbles, and smacks into a post.
  • Hilariously subverted in The Seven Year Itch where a man asks a woman who looks homely with glasses and her hair in a bun to take the glasses off and let down her hair. Guess what? Still homely.
  • In the Superman films, mild-mannered Clark Kent wears glasses to help look more "mild-mannered." He removes them when he's Superman and appears much more dashing. In the fourth film, a woman hitting on Clark tries to remove his glasses and suggests that he wear contacts, but he says that they irritate his eyes and keeps his glasses on to protect his identity.
  • In Waiting for Guffman, Corky has Eugene Levy's character take his glasses off to make him more presentable as a performer. It just makes his eyes cross comically.
  • Played completely straight with Adrian's granny glasses in Rocky.
  • The love interest in Delicatessen knows that The Glasses Gotta Go for her big date, but she's also Blind Without'Em. Hilarity Ensues when she needs to pour a hot beverage.

Literature

  • In the "heroes don't wear glasses" sub-category: One of the main characters in the Young Wizards series of books, Nita, was originally described as wearing glasses in the first book. In the second book, the description went away. In the following books, one could probably forget she'd ever been described that way in the first place, and no explanation as to why she suddenly got 20/20 vision was given. It gets a passing explanation from Dairine, in Wizard's Holiday: Nita had astigmatism, but grew out of it, apparently.
  • In Vivian Vande Velde's book Now You See It..., the protagonist wears glasses and hates them with a passion, citing this trope on the second page. While the lesson of the book is essentially that looks aren't everything, she still manages to get rid of them permanently at the end of the book, making this a Broken Aesop. The story is meant as a bit of escapist fantasy for those who hated wearing glasses, since the author had the same problem and even dedicated the story to those share her distaste for bad eyewear.
  • Somewhat subverted in A Wrinkle in Time. Meg takes her glasses off and Calvin notices that her eyes are gorgeous. And then he tells her to put her glasses back on, because he wants her to keep her beauty a secret from unworthy admirers. Aww.

Live Action TV

  • In the Sitcom Grounded for Life, the husband goes through ridiculous lengths to keep his wife from wearing her new glasses because he finds glasses so ugly that looking at them turns him off instantly. In a flashback, he even snubbed his would-be wife simply because she was wearing glasses.
  • Subverted in Arrested Development.
    • Gob attempts to seduce his father's plain secretary to get some illegal business done. In an attempt to make this easier for himself, he asks her to take her glasses off and let her hair down, which makes her even less attractive, since without them, she has cross-eyes and crazy hair. He spends the rest of the scene trying to find an acceptable combination of glasses and hair.
    • Lucille demanding that Buster take off his glasses at a party. This resulted in Him accidentally hitting on her rival, Lucille Two.
  • Referenced in The Office when Pam wears glasses for an episode. Michael even tells her point-blank that to be attractive you have to take the glasses off. However it's soon subverted when Kevin is revealed to have a fetish for girls in glasses.
  • The reality makeover show 10 Years Younger employs Lasik eye surgery religiously.
  • In the first episode of Sliders, Quinn needs reading glasses, yet this was dropped for later episodes.
  • Will Zimmerman of Sanctuary switches out his glasses for contacts in the Season 1 Finale.
  • In an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Hilary makes her glasses-wearing boyfriend stop wearing them, saying he looks better without them. It becomes a plot point in the episode He gets in an accident with Will and sues for damages. When it's revealed he wasn't wearing glasses while driving as the law requires, the judge rules in Will's favor
  • On MTV's Made Sweet, nerdy girl Kitty wants to be in a high school beauty pageant. The makeover works better than expected for a few reasons. One, Kitty turned out to have a great body(long legs, small waist and big bust) that was hidden under the baggy clothes she always wore. Two, she had beautiful blue eyes that could be seen better without her thick glasses. She actually ends up winning second place!
  • On Seinfeld at the eyeglasses store, while George is buying new frames, Jerry looks at pictures of the female models on the wall, and says, "These women would be so much better looking without glasses."
  • Gender flipped in American Dreams. When Luke gets rid of his glasses, he gets the girl.
  • Josh Groban in several comedy appearances as himself wears thick glasses and makes a show out of removing them in order to cast a smoldering glance at the camera.
  • On Caroline in The City, Richard is always a prissy jerk with his glasses on and a plausible love interest with his glasses off.

Music

Theater

  • Doubly subverted in Wicked: When Galinda takes it upon herself to give Elphaba a makeover (in "Popular"), the first thing she does is remove Elphaba's glasses. The second thing she does is put them back on. All the same, Elphaba stops wearing glasses after that song.
  • Male example (kind of) in The History Boys: "Taking off my glasses is the last thing I do."

Video Games

  • Latooni from Super Robot Wars OG is ordered to trade her analytical glasses in for the Elegant Gothic Lolita look. It doesn't hurt her piloting skills in the slightest.
    • In Divine Wars and Original Generations, Princess Shine only has her ditch the glasses when she's in the Lolita look (since Latooni's her bodyguard). Even more, she gives her a new pair of glasses that doesn't obscure her eyes, showing her opening up more.
  • Otacon in Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots, at Naomi's suggestion. Which is decidedly odd, as he had far left behind his actual namesake-look and had been noticably Bishonen for a long time. It's not all bad, though -- eventually, he puts them back on.
    • Also, Emma Emmerich. Raiden says she would look better without her glasses, but she tells him 'no', and not for the sake of practicality, either. She doesn't even need them; they're just frames. She says that she just likes glasses.

Web Original

  • In the Whateley Universe, Bugs (Bunny Cormick) normally looks like the blonde bombshell of your wildest dreams. But her power is that she's a genius inventor, so, being Genre Savvy, she puts on the studious glasses to look like what one of her friends calls 'Professor Bunny'.
  • Subverted in Team Starkid's Me and My Dick, Joey takes down Sally's hair and attempts to remove her glasses only to have her go cross-eyed.
  • Parodied by The Nostalgia Chick back when she was wearing fake glasses. At the start of her Teen Witch review, she does the Beautiful All Along thing of taking off her glasses and shaking out her hair, but after that she puts the glasses back on, puts up her hair again and continues the review.
  • Invoked and played with to ridiculous lengths in this blog post.

Web Comics

  Penny: Boys don't cut classes for girls who wear glasses. But boys find it way sick when those girls get LASIK.

    • In her own glam-up in a Something Positive Crossover, Helen decides to keep them on. Not that many guys would be looking at her face, the way she made herself over...
  • When Kevyn has to lead the men for a while in Schlock Mercenary, the doctor insists that he drop the glasses - that in order for him to pull off the position of authority in this grave time, the men have to see his eyes. (This, despite the fact that earlier, while in temporary command, he'd so terrified the men that one of them called for his mommy - and that was while Kevyn wore his glasses.)
    • The doctor is clearly aware of the difference between leading people and driving them before you in terror...

Western Animation

  • The animated series The Replacements features a supporting character named Shelton Klutzberry whose insanely thick and heavy glasses cripple his posture and pinch his nose, warping him into a stooped Jerry Lewis clone; if they are ever taken off, he instantly (and unwillingly) turns into a middle-school hunk. Of course, this particular example is so absurd in its extremes that it's likely a parody. His celebrity girlfriend immediately breaks up with him after finding all this out because she was attracted to his goofy awkwardness. In the same episode his sister Shelly has Todd take off her glasses. She is still very ugly.
  • In another male example, one of the episodes of Animaniacs with Minerva Mink had her falling in love with a nerdy-looking wolf who happened to turn into a hunky werewolf when the moon was out. Naturally, his glasses somehow magically disappeared and reappeared to suit whichever form he was in.
  • Gwen Stacy in The Spectacular Spider-Man has a makeover in "Gangland," making her look less like Deb Whitman (a love interest from the comics, notable only for having glasses and being overdependent) and more like, well, Gwen Stacy. This included losing the glasses. While Harry and Peter did go through the standard awed gape, this is likely also because her hair was down and she was wearing a nice dress with a stole. She's kept the hair and the lack of glasses.
    • And of course, like in most incarnations, Peter had glasses before becoming Spider-Man but loses them afterward.
  • Parodied in Johnny Bravo. Johnny tries to teach a nerd how to be a chick magnet, but nothing works. That is until he removes the kid's glasses and gives him Cool Shades, which for some reason not only change him from nerd to a miniature Johnny, personality wise, but suddenly cause every woman to fall for him.

Aversions:

Anime and Manga

  • Ranma ½ subverts this trope. Mousse, a male member of the same tribe of "Chinese Amazons" that Ranma's self-proclaimed fiancee Shampoo belongs to, normally looks like a rather Bishonen guy. Unfortunately for him, his eyesight is horrendous, and to counteract this he has to wear a set of Nerd Glasses that make him look absolutely ridiculous whenever he puts them on. Worse still, he has a bad habit of taking them off frequently, due to either vanity or wanting to be dramatic... and because he's Blind Without'Em, he invariably ends up making himself look like an idiot. Even worse is the fact that his eyesight honestly isn't so hot with them on either; he's a bit better at seeing where his target actually is instead of walking right past it, but he still tends to confuse objects and people.
  • Kirihara in Darker Than Black may look better without her glasses, but when she isn't wearing them she spends all her time squinting.
  • Referenced and deconstructed by Kyousuke from Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai regarding his childhood friend Manami. He thinks her overall features are plain. He also thinks that, unlike fiction, she still look plain even without her glasses. She's also Blind Without'Em.
  • Ouran High School Host Club played it straight with Haruhi... But you'll notice that even while the twins are already making a run to the eye doctors's to get her contacts, nobody ever suggests that Kyoya ditch his Stoic Spectacles? Granted, there's a gender difference... But nobody involved knew there was one at the time.
    • Then again, Kyoya's glasses don't obscure the eyes like Haruhi's do.
    • And he's the Glasses Character, as Kirimi so rightly pointed out. Since they "cater to all types", that would mean they need a glasses character for those with a glasses fetish. Male glasses characters have smaller, frame-less or thin-framed glasses so they don't obscure their Bishounen faces. Haruhi's glasses don't do that while Kyouya's do.

Literature

  • In the Harry Potter series, Harry's iconic glasses are never said to make him any less attractive.
  • Averted a bit in "A Wrinkle in Time" and its sequels. Meg Murray hates her glasses with a passion, as well as her "mouse brown" hair and braces, and wishes she could look more like her mother. But her love interest/boyfriend/husband (depending on where you are in the series) Calvin O'Keefe, prefers her to wear them, saying "You just keep wearing those glasses. I don't think I want anyone else knowing what dream-boat eyes you have."

Live Action TV

  • On the other hand, Wesley from Angel removes his glasses in his makeover as a Badass, in addition to growing a five-o'clock shadow. No mention is ever made of how he manages to see well. Fred also wears glasses only sometimes during the show.
    • Perhaps contacts. Or magic. But in the comic continuation of the series, Wesley is wearing his glasses again, so probably contacts.
    • Before his makeover, Wesley and Cordelia once spontaneously impersonate Buffy and Angel, in order to bring a new cast member quickly up to speed about their twisted relationship. Wesley intuitively recognizes that his keeping his glasses on in this role would look dorky, and quickly whips them off... and then fails to find a place where to store them, so he ends up looking just as dorky holding them in his hand during a passionate kiss.
    • Spoofed in Amy Acker's screen test, which involved Wesley falling in Love At First Sight with Fred due to a spell.

 Wesley: (removing Fred's glasses) Now you truly are...perfection.

Fred: Whereas you are slightly fuzzy; can I have those back?

  • Bones: Booth finds Brennan quite sexy when she dons glasses in one episode.

 Booth (seeing Brennan wearing someone's zany glasses): Right. What I want you to do is take off your glasses, shake out your hair and say "Mr. Booth, do you know what the penalty is for an overdue book?"

Brennan: Why?

Booth: Never mind.

  • Daniel in Stargate SG-1 wears his glasses all 10 seasons, in both movies, and in his crossover episodes with Stargate Atlantis. He does finally get a more attractive pair in season 10, but he manages to keep wearing glasses for the full run of the show, a rare feat.
    • However, he stops wearing them during the episode where he's abusing the Goa'uld sarcophagus. Abuse stops, glasses come back.
    • "Evil Daniel" also didn't wear glasses in Absolute Power. The character also stopped wearing them when he ascended to a higher plane of existence. Both times.
  • Logan in Dark Angel also manages to keep his glasses for the entire run (shorter though it was) and when Max is lusting over him, she mentions how much they add to his appeal.

Newspaper Comics

  • In one Peanuts strip, Peppermint Patty suggests that Marcie would look more sophisticated if she pushed her glasses up onto her forehead. After walking into a wall and a lamp-post, Marcie comments "Before I became sophisticated, I almost never had headaches."

Web Original

 She has the kind of hair that's ideal for pinning up in a tight bun and then shaking down in slow motion halfway through the movie, and even has the thick, nerdy glasses to take off dramatically too. Unfortunately, this will never happen, because she needs the glasses to see.

Web Comics

Western Animation

 Arthur: "I can see! I CAN FIGHT!"

  • In WITCH, Taranee at one point gave herself a makeover to impress a guy she liked, which included losing her glasses. Turns out he liked her the way she was, "glasses and all."
    • Not to mention the fact that her eyes literally set on fire when she's angry. Fire+contacts=bad idea.
  • Weathergirl Sam Sparks from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs doesn't wear her glasses because she thinks they make her look nerdy; when dweeby Mad Scientist Flint (who was quite taken with her in the first place) convinces her to put them on, he's blown away.
  • South Park mocked this trope, of course. Kyle tells a genuinely hideous girl that she'd look beautiful if she just put her hair down and took off her glasses. But when he takes them off for her, he discovers... nope, she's even uglier without 'em.
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