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Passing through Adventure Towns, The Hero hears from the Quest Giver that there's a hideous she-monster bedeviling the town. A creature so ugly she can stun those looking at her and make them wish they'd brought their brown pants, she's so repulsive. The worst part is that her monstrous mien is like a car-wreck, you can't look away. This may be compounded by her hypnotic gaze...which can be triply bad if it can also turn onlookers into stone.

Except, once the hero actually sees her...she's actually rather pretty. Sure, she has snakes for hair, glowing red eyes, fanged teeth, bat wings, and scaled skin...but her face is perfectly symmetrical, even classically beautiful. The snake-hair is actually rather playful, and her scales are colored not like a deadly coral snake, but opaline. The ones on her face may even be pigmented to imitate tasteful makeup. Her body is probably nicely curvaceous, too.

The hero has just met the Gorgeous Gorgon. Her beauty can be due to one of three causes. The most common is that she merely has an Informed Flaw in the form of her ugliness, much like older actors are treated as if they were teens due to Dawson Casting. Everyone reacts like she's ugly and says so, but the viewer doesn't really see why. Alternately, she may be using some form of Voluntary Shapeshifting or magical glamour to appear more beautiful than she naturally is in order to confuse the hero. The more subtle interpretation is that the townsfolk have Flanderized her ugliness because she's, well, a monster. This may be explained by her inhuman features and the fact that, if we were to meet a person with a snake tail or four arms in real life (for example), we would be scared too, or at least greatly surprised and startled.

If the latter, this usually presents one of two alternatives.

One, the ugliness is played up by the superstitious townsfolk, who are so scared of her appearance (or unintentional dangerousness) that none of them bothered to notice she's actually a Reluctant Monster and very lonely. This Gorgeous Gorgon will likely prove friendly and even pull a Heel Face Turn if "evil" when shown some compassion.

Two, the "beauty" is merely skin deep and exotic. This creature is much like Daddy's Little Villain, she is evil through and through and hides it behind an angelic (scaled) face to confuse victims. She most likely wants to proposition the hero before mating, killing, and then eating him. (And if he's very lucky, it'll be in that order). This Gorgeous Gorgon is perfectly fine to kill. These two alternatives can be seen as playing with Beauty Equals Goodness. In the first, the slightly hidden physical beauty is a sign of the internal goodness, in the latter, it represents the danger inherent in Evil Is Sexy.

Another less-often but still used trope is that the Gorgeous Gorgon pissed somebody off by being so good looking, and was subsequently transformed into a monster. The transformation, though, wasn't quite enough to make her ugly.

The title of this trope itself, by the way, has solid foundations in Greek Myth: many tellings had the Gorgons as mortal women more lovely than Aphrodite, causing that goddess to curse them such that any who saw their loveliness would be turned to stone[1]. Others went so far as to say the Gorgons were so beautiful, their faces could stop men's hearts. It's worth repeating that, despite Gorgon being in the trope name, other types of monsters and genders can have this apply.

Related to Cute Monster Girl and Hollywood Homely. Compare Beauty to Beast, Bishonen Line, and But Your Wings Are Beautiful. For the trope about Gorgons, see Medusa.

Examples of Gorgeous Gorgon include:


Anime and Manga Edit

  • A borderline example happens in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's: the Book of Darkness is supposed to be a planet-destroying timebomb inhabited by an Eldritch Abomination...and it is, except that it also has a soul, a beautiful sad woman who in no way wants to destroy anyone or anything. And the heroes have to kill seal her.
  • Lucy and the other diclonius from Elfen Lied are frequently reinforced as non-human, horned killing machines that are dire threats to everyone around them and the doom of mankind...and they're pink haired Woobies with cute little horns. Yes, they may also be horned psychopaths with a genocidal instinct against mankind and able to project kinetic arms capable of ripping apart armoured soldiers as if they were made of paper...and Lucy does this lots of times, but then there's her other personality, Nyu, who is harmless, innocent, and kind.
  • Averted somewhat with Boa Hancock in One Piece. She fits everything above and is, in fact, known as one of three "Gorgon Sisters", except she's famous for her beauty, and she uses it to pull off a Jerkass Facade.
    • One of the omakes for the series had the Straw Hats as monsters, and Robin ended up being the gorgon who was looking to make friends.
  • 'Inner Moka' from Rosario to Vampire is supposedly a terrifying 'super-vampire', a monster that even other monsters fear. She looks like this.
    • An actual gorgon also appears in the series. She's not too pretty. However, later, a lamia appears...and she's one of the most beautiful monsters of all...well, from the waist up, anyway.
  • The character Medusa in Soul Eater is actually called The Lady of Gorgon. Not only does she fit the trope name, but she is also quite beautiful, in that creepy, wicked sort of way. While she does not have snakes for hair, she does control and manipulate vectors in the forms of snakes and arrows. At one point in the series, she possesses the body of an extremely cute little girl, further enforcing this trope as a monster in the body of an innocent, adorable child.
    • Her sister, Arachne, also fits the trope. She's beautiful and large-breasted with a spider web in her eye. Actually, she's just a spider in the body of a woman. Yup.
      • No, that spider thing she became was her after she became an Energy Being made of madness. It looked like a spider as it reflected her soul and thus her Animal Motif. Her body is pretty much human, just part of the local Witch Species. See Medusa hijacking it.
  • Berserk has Slan and several female Apostles who qualify. Like everything else in Berserk, this trope is also Played With. (Two Words: Troll Intestines.)
  • Rider from Fate/stay night is actually the gorgon Medusa of legend, but she is drop dead gorgeous. She has really long purple hair instead of snakes. At times, the Fate franchise is rather loose with their interpretations of historical and fictional characters.
  • In Masamune Shirow's commentary for a picture of a Nubile Savage with dreadlocks in his artbook Intron Depot 2: Blades, he suggests that the legend of the Gorgons may have been inspired by this type of hairstyle.


Comic Books Edit

  • Played literally in Incredible Hercules, in which Delphyne is a Gorgon born and bred, with snakes for hair and scaly skin, and also the love interest of Hercules' sidekick. As it turns out, not all Gorgons have the petrifying gaze.
  • Valentina, the most iconic villain in Filipino comic book history.
  • In Superman comics, as least before the Crisis, the facet-skinned Bizarros were odd-looking, but never as ugly as everyone seemed to react to them as being. The Bizarro Loises, in particular, were usually drawn with attractive figures and really nice legs (they were all imperfect copies of Lois, after all).
    • I always assumed it was an uncanny valley effect associated with their movements and behavior, which wouldn't show up in a static medium.
  • In X-Men, Nightcrawler is supposed to be demonic looking enough that the vast majority of people think of him as a literal demon upon seeing him. Though the personality is enough to change people's opinions of him, it doesn't change the fact that he's drawn as a rather attractive blue elf.
    • And the ironic thing is that he's very religious to boot.
    • He has skin (or fur) so dark it's almost black, glowing yellow eyes, and a pointed tail. Throw in the smell of brimstone that's a side effect of his powers, and his features may be symmetrical and healthy in terms of attractiveness, but living in a setting in which All the Other Reindeer has been enacted into law at various times, he's definitely inhuman enough to scare people.


Fan Works Edit

  • In You Think You Had A Bad Hair Day, more is revealed about the gorgon who joins the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. If her gaze turns flesh to stone, what happens to the stony flesh of a troll? Read on...

Film Edit

  • The 2007 animated film adaptation of Beowulf changes Grendel's mother from an ogrish sea-monster to a shapeshifter who appears as a beautiful woman based on her voice actress, Angelina Jolie.
    • It's implied that her true form is vaguely draconian, however - hints to golden scales, claws, and a tail are seen in the background, and even in human form, she still has wicked talons in her feet that amusingly double as natural high heels.
    • Her true form is actually more serpentine than draconic, and can be viewed here. Warning, spoilers so spoily that they aren't even spoiled in the movie.
    • Her action figure also shows her true form, and she can actually be seen briefly in the movie, posing with her treasure hoard. Squick ahoy!
    • Her real face is also seen reflected in a shield at the end of her first scene talking with Grendel.
  • Deliberately subverted in the Harryhausen Movie Clash of the Titans. Ray felt that a woman with snakes in her hair was not monstrous enough, so he turned Medusa into a scaly, serpent-tailed, crone-like horror with fangs and Glowing Eyes of Doom that turned people to stone.
    • The remake still has her as a scaly, serpent-tailed thing, but her face is very good looking, at least, until she goes to turn you to stone, at which point, her entire face changes into something a lot less attractive. Put it this way: Medusa was played by Russian model Natalia Vodianova.
  • Mike from Monsters, Inc. was in a relationship with Celia, a gorgon with very playful snakehair.
  • The Medusa from the movie adaption of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. Uma Thurman with snake hair.
  • The gorgon from the Hammer Horror film The Gorgon is not played by the most attractive actress in the world and has some rather pale and heavy scale makeup, but she's not exactly hideous. And that's only when she's in her gorgon form. The actress who plays her human form has the sort of looks you'd expect from the lead actress in a movie.
  • Lady Marsh from Lair of the White Worm is a reptilian vampire, but is still played by the beautiful Amanda Donahue.


Literature Edit

  • Voyage of the Basset, based on which Voyage Of The Unicorn was written.
  • The main character of the Spanish novel La Dama Del Alba (The Lady Of The Dawn) was Death herself, but she looked like a reasonably attractive woman and actually envied mortals because they could love - everything she touched died.
  • The Gorgon in the Xanth series is pretty and the Reluctant Monster version. The petrification was the result of her magical talent, which she couldn't turn off. She eventually married Magician Humphrey, who cast an invisibility spell on her face to keep anyone from being able to look at her enough to become petrified. She was still able to partially petrify cheese through the invisibility to make 'gorgon-zola cheese', which was noted by Dolph to be a little crumbly.
  • The Shambleau in the classic short story of the same name by C L Moore. She is both Nightmare Fuel and hugely desirable to the protagonist...
  • Max Fraj's Chronicles of Yeho features the protagonist's encounter with an incomplete Reluctant Monster example - a girl who encounters an unknown wizard in her dreams, who casts some sort of spell on her eyes. The girl awakens with an always-on petrifying gaze and barely manages to lock herself in a cellar while keeping her eyes firmly closed. The protagonist's ability to summon random items lucks out - he had previously summoned sunglasses.
  • In The Laundry Series, "gorgonism" strikes humans randomly, from old South Asian grandmothers to young attractive middle-class girls (presumably, males also). When a gorgon looks upon a target, her gaze turns some of the target's carbon atoms into silicon, resulting in instant flaming death. Gazing upon a gorgon whose eyes are closed or covered, on the other hand, has no effect.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Discworld, it is revealed that Disc gorgons have a body-odour problem, because deodorising your armpits is impossible when your armpit hair keeps biting the can ths rendering it useless. Apparently the goddess didn't stop at head hair. (Our Gorgons Are Different? Or the thing with armpis having hair too has been bowdlerised from Earth myth?)
    • A Gorgon joins the City Watch. Unfortunately her sunglasses slip and several innocent people are petrified, needing Wizard intervention to turn them back.


Live-Action TV Edit

  • Medusa in Voyage Of The Unicorn.
  • In a Tales from the Darkside episode entitled "Miss May Dusa", an attractive and relatively normal looking gorgon awakens after having spent several centuries as a mannequin. She meets up with a blind musician in a subway and shares her sad story, only to catch her own reflection and end up back where she started.
  • The Medusans in the original Star Trek the Original Series series need to stay hidden in a box, or else you'll be driven insane just by looking at them. They're actually quite friendly, and it's not their fault they make you go crazy when you look at them.
  • Natira, Scorpius's mistress on Farscape. She's even referred to as "Medusa" by Crichton.
  • Special Unit 2 had medusae Links, two extremely attractive sisters who would pick up guys in a bar, take them to their place, and turn them into stone. Going undercover, O'Malley has to decide which of the two pairs of girls were the Links and which simply wanted a threesome with him. He guesses right: whichever pair is going to go to any lengths to get him. The other girls were a little new at this.
  • An episode of Blood Ties involves a Medusa who was a very beautiful woman. The characters specifically mention that she was so beautiful that a god raped her on the steps of Athena's temple. Athena got pissed off and turned her into a monster. Hence Medusa's hate for anyone who thinks she's beautiful. She actually liked Mike because he seemed to genuinly care about her rather than her looks. She would seduce male models (usually younger than her), be their sugar mama, and then turn them into stone out of spite. When Vicki finds the statue of her latest victim, she takes it back to her office, only for the medusa's Mook to break in and destroy it. Apparently, not even vampires are immune to her stone gaze. After Vicki takes her head with a sword, all victims (except for the crushed one) are fine.


Music Edit

  • In Menotti's Unicorn, Gorgon, and Manticore, when the secluded mad scientist lies to the townspeople and tells them that he's killed his Gorgon, the townspeople wail over "The gorgeous, gorgeous Gorgon, the pride of his age!" (These are the same townspeople who previously believed the Gorgon was the ugliest creature they'd ever seen.)


Tabletop RPG Edit

  • Dungeons and Dragons has Medusas, which can seduce you with their legs and then turn you to stone. Also, Mariliths, Erinyes, Succubi...
    • On the other hand, Nymphs use their beauty as a weapon...it's the last thing any trespasser looking at them sees.
      • Well, usually, nymphs are A) highly charismatic (low to mid 20s) and B) naked. So, you know, it's a case of Go Out with a Smile.
    • Mariliths are this, Depending on the Artist. Sometimes, their upper bodies are beautiful women, sometimes, they're fairly ugly snake people all the way through. Since demons are made of concentrated evil and chaos, it's implied that both forms are perfectly normal.
  • Magic: The Gathering has at least six Medusa and Gorgon themed cards, most of which can kill opposing attacking creatures regardless of their strength or defense...and all of which show beautiful women.
  • In Scion, Medusae (the result of Gorgons feeding normal humans their blood) can make themselves look pretty very easily. Unfortunately, for the big tricks to work, they gotta get ugly. The Gorgons themselves have a much harder time fitting in.


Video Games Edit

  • If you don't count her being a boss fight, a giant head having ginormous fanged teeth and trying to kill you, Medusa in Castlevania: Lament Of Innocence wasn't that ugly.
    • If you want a hot Medusa from a Castlevania-related source, look no further than Sexy Parodius.
    • Either that, or the legends were as wrong about her as they were about Arthur.
    • The one in Portrait of Ruin, on the other hand, isn't nearly so pretty. And she just gets worse when she goes to petrify you. Plus, she turns into a full-blown snake for one attack.
  • Fate/stay night made Medusa into a lithe, pale skinned beauty whose 'snakes' were just ankle-length hair that got blown around a lot during battle, and the whole 'turn to stone' thing was easily mitigated by an enchanted visor or sexy nerd glasses. Oh, and she's really attractive too. Who is she? Rider.
    • Possibly justified in that this is supposed be Medusa before she was transformed into a monstrous creature. Actually may even be an example of Shown Their Work, as some versions of the myth did actually present Medusa as having once been very beautiful, and Rider can still become the more famous ugly version for a power boost. She just chooses not to because she loses control of herself in the process.
  • Played straight and then averted in God of War. The first Gorgon you meet, Medusa herself, is fairly attractive (and topless, to boot), but the other Gorgons you meet are not as much ugly as faceless. And then there's Euryale...*shudder*
    • III gorgons even more so. Thanks to stunning graphics and Jiggle Physics the many gorgons you fight have a slick scaly body and a pretty gorgeous face to match it.
  • The Locust Queen in Gears of War 2. It's implied, though, that few humans have ever met the queen and she certainly is not reluctant to be a monster.
  • World of Warcraft's Lady Vashj seems to be widely regarded as Fetish Fuel. She's a six-armed mutant elf who not only has snake hair, but also has a snake tail instead of legs.
    • This is reportedly what happened to Queen Azshara as well. It is specifically noted that she still retains her otherworldly beauty in stark contrast to her monstrous form.
    • Infested Kerrigan from Starcraft has a little something too, especially on the cover and title screen.
      • Played straight in this commercial.
  • The Cloud of Darkness in Final Fantasy III. It's an avatar of pure destruction out to end existence...but for some reason, it decides to take the form of a completely nude green woman. Dissidia Final Fantasy redesigned her(?) into pure fanservice.
  • The legendary demon of pure destruction, Razgriz, of Ace Combat 5 fame, is always referred as "it" in the game, but the few still images of "it" suggest that "it" is actually a woman (and a redhead, to boot). Fanart creators universally think "it" is, in any case.
  • The old game Kid Icarus manages to combine both. Medusa appears as a cyclops stone head trapped in a wall. Upon her defeat, a Cute Monster Girl version of Medusa (basically resembling a normal woman with green skin and possibly snakes for hair) comes out of the head and dies. This is actually her original form, but she was cursed into a hideous gorgon form by Palulenta as a result of her evil deeds (a reference to Athena turning Medusa from a priestess into a monster).
  • The Mythology based RTS Age of Mythology has the archer variant like the one from Clash of The Titans (not the remake).
  • One of the bosses in Boktai is a gorgon. Not really that bad, aside from the whole "undead mistress trying to kill you" thing.
  • The Medusae in the PS 1 game Deathtrap Dungeon manage to both play this trope straight and subvert it - their faces are pretty monstrous, but their figures, on the other hand...
  • Medusa from Castle Crashers fits this trope. Even though she's trying to kill you, she's still fairly nice looking for someone who's half snake.
  • Cassiopeia in League of Legends is a gorgeous Naga, but her backstory claims she was a beautiful woman who turned into a monster when she double-crossed one of the men she seduced for information. She even says "You called me beautiful once", but aside from being a naga, she's still beautiful.
  • Marilith from Final Fantasy I could be seen as this. While she doesn't have the turn-her-enemies-to-stone ability, she's still the deadly powerful demon of fire, and could easily be seen as quite attractive.


Toys Edit

  • The Monster High doll Deuce Gorgon is a rare male example.


Webcomics Edit

  • Aurielle Goldenscale from Monsterful, she's a sexy, blond (her snakes have yellow scales) gorgon teacher, and even though she's really gorgeous, she's also a big, mean teacher. She will petrify any student that doesn't follow her rules either partially or entirely and is feared by most of the students of Addams High for this.
  • Ferretina the Weasel Queen in Girl Genius.
  • One briefly shows up as a patient in The Dragon Doctors. Her name is Yuri (a shortening of Euryale) and she has a boyfriend named "Percy" (a shortening of "Perseus"). She's visiting the doctors to have herself turned into a non-Gorgon so she doesn't worry about turning him to stone.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, form 2 Aylee and the current incarnation aren't ugly to the eyes...well, except for the lack of a nose and pupils, but a little paint and prosthetics let her pass for human.
    • Justified, since it was a subconscious choice. At a certain point, Aylee's transformations were in response to threats she couldn't deal with, so she evolved appropriate defenses (emp blasts to deal with nanites, spirit-binding seals to avert natural death, a mind-protecting helmet to stop telepathy, etc). In the last case, she feared not being accepted by humanity, so she evolved a form that would have greater chances of being accepted. Well, by half the population, at least...
  • Oglaf has a variation where the "victim" is looking at the gorgon's...gorge. He's not petrified, but rock-hard.
  • Mona from Pilli Adventure is a gorgon. She doesn't think of herself as "gorgeous", though, mostly due to Monsters having different standards of beauty.
  • The Sphinx featured in many Subnormality comics is actually quite pretty.
    • Except being 15' tall and frequently eating people. She's cute in some appearances, though, especially the comic where she was complaining to Blockbuster that her monster claws could handle VHS tapes, but not thin DVDs.
  • The Gorgon and Elan from A Magical Roommate. They actually both look pretty normal, excepting the snakes.
  • The Kendril species in Last Res0rt consists almost entirely of Gorgeous Gorgons and Cute Monster Girls, even accounting for the whole Medusa aspect.
    • They still wear masks, though.
  • Wapsi Square has a few characters who qualify. First of all, there's Phix, who has a bit of a Hot Librarian thing going, despite being a sphinx. On top of that, an actual gorgon (mildly NSFW, even though nothing is showing) seen at the library fits this trope quite well.


Western Animation Edit

  • Medusa from the animated Hercules series. Here, she's a good-natured girl who just wants "a friend that isn't a total rock-head".
  • A gorgon appears briefly in Justice League. Except for the green skin and snake hair, she is fairly average looking and, oddly, has a New York/Jersey accent.
    • A far darker example exists in The New Batman Adventures with Calendar Girl (who is also a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds): Formerly a model for calendar magazines, she underwent several surgeries to make herself more beautiful, but she wasn't able to reconcile with her "hideous" features, and thus decided to go on a revenge spree against her former employers with calendar-themed crimes. The aftermath of the battle reveals that she's actually very beautiful, but she keeps on shrieking not to look at her as if horrified at her own appearance while arrested.
  • American Dragon Jake Long has Medusa and the gorgons as a group of attractive, Alpha Bitchy cheerleader types that fuss over split ends -- split ends, in this case, meaning two-headed snakes.
  • Gravedale High also had an attractive gorgon cheerleader, named "'Dusa".
  • Monster High has a rare male example with Deuce, who only has scales and snakes on his head, which he fashions into a mohawk. Otherwise, he is your typical handsome teen. To be fair, "attractive monster people" is pretty much the whole theme of the series.
  • In Disney's Aladdin TV series, Jasmine got turned into a "hideous snake person" by Mirage. Truth be told, there wasn't all that much that's hideous about her, but the poisoned spines were something of a turn-off...to everyone except Aladdin, who willingly dosed himself with the same potion to be with her.

Notes

  1. although some versions of the story say that the gods instead cursed them with ugliness that turned all onlookers to stone, hence Medusa's classic snake hair and scaled face

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