Cosplaying has been around for decades. In more recent years, it’s rocketed to popularity because of reality shows (Heroes of Cosplay, Cosplay Melee) and because more and more cosplayers slowly became household names. Jessica Nigri, Yaya Han, and Ivy Doomkitty have helped transformed cosplay into a legitimate art where intricate design, creativity, and accuracy meld into outfits that fans appreciate.
Many cosplayers making a living professionally using Twitch and Patreon to gain and maintain fans. They compete in cosplay contests or judge them (which are found at most conventions big and small), have licensing deals with major companies, and get invited to the bigger cons because of their fame.
But cosplaying can simply be fun. Many use items around the home or cheap materials to create a cosplay because they’re fans of that character. Whether someone recognizes the character or not doesn’t matter; cosplay is about what you love and bringing your excitement with you as you show off your character.
However, some cosplayers, both known and unknown, sometimes use a character to make a hotter version for a photo shoot or to showcase at a convention. This list is to show you a few cosplayers who take something everyone knows about a character and who build a unique look to make you think, “Just who is that?”
Here are 20 Stunning Cosplayers That Don’t Look Like Their Characters At All.
20 Jessica Nigri – Various Pokémon
It’s no wonder Jessica Nigri has multiple entries on this list. She’s one of the more popular cosplayers in the community, visiting many conventions a year and interacting with her fans like an A-list celebrity.
Nigri’s love of Pokémon is evident in the number of cosplays she’s undertaken in recent years. She’s done Leafeon, Pikachu, Jolteon, Vaporeon, and more. Pokémon aren’t easy to imitate with costume, so you have to get extremely creative to come close to getting people to recognize what Pokémon you are.
Nigri does a great job adhering to the colors of specific Pokémon, but most of her cosplays are barely-Pokémon with bare mid-sections, cleavage, short dresses or skirts, and tights. The occasional makeup helps, but if you don’t have extensive Pokémon knowledge, you might just think she’s from some fantasy movie or video game.
19 Megan Random - Queen of Hearts
Most unfamiliar with Alice in Wonderland would not recognize Megan Random’s cosplay of the Queen of Hearts. Even if you know the story, it would be hard to identify who Megan was trying to pull off.
At WonderCon 2017, she donned a mostly-red outfit – bustier, dress, and red underwear - and thigh-high boots and walked around as the Queen of Hearts. It was a boudoir look showing plenty of skin and resembled more of a saloon girl from the Old West than a character from a fantasy novel.
The only clues to her character were the few hearts on the lacy top and the checkerboard pattern on the inside of the dress, but to immediately know Megan was the Queen of Hearts was a stretch.
18 Meg Turney – Tracer from Overwatch
Released in March 2016, Overwatch is an online first-person shooter video game containing over 21 characters ranging in skills involving weapons to manipulating the surroundings with technology. For one photo shoot, Meg Turney chose to dress as Tracer, one of the faster characters in the game. Tracer typically wears a bomber jacket with yellow pants and straps to hold her dual pistols.
Turney’s Tracer takes on a more boudoir aspect, meaning an outfit revealing more skin. She kept the color scheme intact, mimicked Tracer’s hair, and hung orange-lensed goggles around her neck. But with garters, a top that’s more bra than jacket, and leggings that cover calf to thigh, Turney found a way add to the controversy that Tracer was too sexual when Blizzard released promotional material for the game.
And since Tracer’s origins are British, make sure to notice the British flag Turney kneels on - in case you weren’t quite sure who she was.
17 Jessica Nigri – Indiana Jones
Picture Indiana Jones. What do you see? Most see the iconic fedora and leather whip. When Jessica Nigri decided to visit Zion National Park, that’s all she brought to tie her Indiana Jones cosplay together. And you need to check the picture closely to see the whip.
Maybe Nigri figured Indiana Jones needed a look that included a bare midriff, exposed thighs, and cleavage. The beige top tied in the middle with a ripped right sleeve and brown skirt does match the color Indy’s outfit had in the movies. But by looking at the picture and other shots of her in that outfit, you might think she was simply out for a hike.
Fans might have received Kingdom of the Crystal Skull better if Jessica Nigri starred as Indiana Jones with this outfit.
16 Shamandalie – Elsa from Frozen
If there’s a cosplay photo shoot that exists for the sole purpose of barely trying to look like a character, it’s Shamandalie’s Elsa, from the movie Frozen. In the movie, Elsa, who was roughly based on the main character of “The Snow Queen,” is an elegant princess dressed in a gown of varying shades of blue. She has waist-length, white hair that’s in a braid.
Someone who wants to copy Elsa directly should easily find a similar outfit and be able to imitate the hair with little to no effort. Shamandalie went a different route. She basically removed the entire gown and laid down in her blue underwear and bra on an ice blue sheet of snowflakes.
But if that didn’t get you to realize she was Elsa, then the Olaf stuffed animal lounging at Shamandalie’s head surely should help. For comparison, here are Disney cosplayers who look just like their characters.
15 Minion from Despicable Me
Minions from Despicable Me submitted by @kreepazoidkelly ... Be sure to like and follow her for more amazing cosplays ... #minions #minioncosplay #despicableme #despicablemecosplay #cartoon #cartooncosplay ....... And also make sure to follow our Cover Girl: @bethisnotsexy ....... #cosplay #cosplayer #sexycosplay #hotcosplay #cosplaybabe #cosplaygirl #cosplaycutie #cosplaymodel #geekgirl #cosplayersofinstagram #model #womenofcosplay #girlswhocosplay #nerdgirl #cosplayphotography #shoutout #igshoutout
The Despicable Me minions are some of the most recognizable characters from recent years. They’re short and yellow, and they wear bib overalls and goggles. For many cosplayers, minions are easy to imitate, and many people at comic conventions put on a yellow shirt, overalls, and wear some type of goggle.
@kreepazoidkelly found a basic and different way to go as a cute cartoon character. You’d only know she was a minion because the t-shirt and ballcap she wears contains the distinguishable minion eyes with the protective eyewear. What may draw your initial gaze, before you realized she was a minion, are the skimpy denim shorts, tattoos, and the dreamsicle she’s holding in her right hand.
At least the bottoms for the cosplayer and minions are denim, so there’s some uniformity.
14 Leema Lee – Joker
From the neck up, Leema Lee’s Joker is instantly recognizable with the white face, red lips with the typical lines to indicate the extra wide smile, and green hair. Even though Leema has fuller and longer hair, at least it’s green.
Other than that, Leema’s taken the Joker to a scanty level. From the neck down, all she wears is a bra and short, flouncy skirt. While the clothes are purple and green, what Leema wears what looks like a bathing suit top and miniskirt. It’s definitely not garb the Joker, in any Batman mythos, has ever worn.
The joker also never had a belly button piercing, but Leema has tattoos, as does the Jered Leto version of the Joker. So if anyone on this list is the closest to their character it would have to be Leema, based on the tattoos, makeup, and hair.
13 Liz Katz – Princess Peach
You’ve never seen Princess Peach as Liz Katz portrays her. For most of the incarnations in the Mario universe, Peach is usually dressed in a long pink ball gown and wears her gem-encrusted crown. One of her noticeable features is her long, flowing yellow hair.
She has worn athletic gear (Mario Superstar Baseball), a gymnastics outfit (Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games), and a biker outfit (Mario Kart 8), but nothing like Katz wears in her Princess Peach photo shoot. Her cosplay look is essentially lingerie with a pink corset, white stockings, elbow length gloves, and pink garters. Katz does have the hair and crown nailed, but that’s it.
There’s no denying Katz looks amazing, but it’s possible Mario would have an ever harder time finding Princess Peach if she was suddenly dressed like this.
12 Antonina – Mario
Flexible Friday! Shoutout to @yoshiheshiki with @pedroheshikephotography for the always amazing photos ❤️ #nintendo #mario #mariocosplay #genderbend #sexycosplay #cosplayer #cosplayfun #cospalyafterdark #ilovecosplay #burlesque #burlesquecosplay #pinupcosplay #sexymario #mariosunshine #marioandluigi #redbikinki #cosplaymodel #antoninaanime
Following up Princess Peach is another character from the Mario world - the famous plumber himself, Mario. With brown boots, denim overalls, red shirt, white gloves, a red hat with the ‘M’ for Mario icon, and a mustache, cosplaying Mario should be a relatively easy task.
Antonina switches up the look so that the only the hat with the ‘M’ emblem and white gloves designate her costume as Mario. The high heels and black stockings don’t have any resemblance to anything in the Mario games, and the shiny shorts and swimsuit top make it appear that Antonina is getting ready for the pool.
The cloth tucked into the shorts cascading to the floor is a unique addition, and again, has nothing to do with Mario. Clearly, she wanted a sexy Mario rather than a plumbing Mario.
11 Ragnarok Cosplay Group – Star Trek Playboy Bunnies
Sometimes, cosplays combine two pop culture elements. They can be creative, one-of-a-kind outfits exhibiting well-loved tv shows, movies, comics, or video games. Though an odd combination, Star Trek and Playboy, give credit to the ladies of the Ragnarok Cosplay Group for their mashup of two well-known brands.
The original Star Trek had female crew members in short skirts. As newer Star Trek series came out, the women began to wear pants, but the uniforms remained form-fitting. Not much needs to be said for the Playboy Bunny outfits, which were inspired by a tavern in Urbana, Illinois. The timeless bunny ears, cottontail, and strapless corset teddy make it instantly identifiable.
For the cosplay, the ladies stayed true to the common Federation department colors – Command, Engineering, Science – and affixed a communicator to the left breast of the corset. Remove the communicator and it’s difficult to know who they are. Well, if you noticed the Orion and Vulcan girl, then you might have a chance.
10 Shiro Ychigo – Naruto
Naruto is a popular character frequently found roaming comic conventions. Even if you’ve never seen the anime, the spikey, yellow hair, and mostly orange jumpsuit are indications the cosplayer is probably Naruto.
Shiro Ychigo headed to the beach in an orange, two-piece swimsuit, donned a coat resembling a fireman’s jacket, and placed a pigtailed wig on her head. Now she’s Naruto – or the farthest thing from Naruto. What may have helped is a head band with the swirl-like icon or actual spikey hair. Or possibly Ychigo could have held a sign that said, “I am Naruto.”
In the show by the same name, Naruto aspires to become the Hokage, or the leader of his village. "Sexy jitsu" is a technique he has used in battle (and to annoy other characters) where he transforms into several naked female characters (who look like female versions of him) with steam clouds surrounding them. That's something only fans of the show will catch, to be sure.
9 Nadya Sonika – SpiderGwen
Spider-Gwen is an ongoing comic series published by Marvel. Like many ordinary people suddenly transformed with superpowers in comics, Gwen's wardrobe gets the addition of a superhero costume. Spider-Gwen’s typical dress is a black and white bodysuit with a simple design, with a white hood and red and blue webbing on the biceps and inside of the hood.
It’s common to find cosplayers in conventions dressed as closely to a character as possible, but Nadya Sonika instead goes for the boudoir look that you often see in personal shoots. She basically has on lingerie. Nadya wears a jacket with spider webs on it, but if you take off the jacket, you don’t know she’s Spider-Gwen. She could be modeling for Victoria’s Secret or getting ready for bed.
8 Darth Vader
Darth Vader has never looked as gorgeous as he did when this cosplayer took up her lightsaber in support of the Imperial Forces. While Vader is covered head to toe, the girl above is mostly uncovered.
The top has the Vader chestplate, but despite that, the lightsaber is the only other item in that outfit designating her as Star Wars's most villainous character. All she’s missing to complete the ensemble is the black helmet. Without that, first glances may not get you to realize she’s Darth Vader. Who remembers Vader wearing bikini bottoms? No one, that’s who.
It’s good she at least has a belt to hold her lightsabers, however. There’s no doubt this cosplayer looks amazing and confident; would you join the Dark Side if she was running it?
7 Naomi VonKreeps – Stormtrooper
Every sexy Darth Vader cosplay needs a sexy Stormtrooper. That’s where Naomi VonKreeps comes in. This costume was the first costume VonKreeps ever put together, and while she states she “hates it so much,” it positively resonates with Star Wars fans because Stormtroopers have never been portrayed so innocently (and gorgeously).
The only part of this cosplay that makes senses is the Stormtrooper helmet. Hardcore and casual fans alike can recognize that familiar helmet, but remove that from her costume and she’s a stunning woman simply wearing a very flattering corset, fishnet stockings, and calf-high boots.
It’s doubtful Naomi’s pose is a standard posture in the Imperial Forces manual. If confronted by this Stormtrooper, though, any pose would be intimidating.
6 Jessica Nigri & Abby Dark-Star – Freddy Krueger Jason Vorhees
Jessica Nigri and Abby Dark-Star team up to give you a horror duo that’s not so horrific. As with many of the cosplays on this list, only one or two items let you know who these popular cosplayers are.
For Nigri’s Freddy Kreuger (Nightmare on Elm Street movies), the gloved hand with finger-knives is the real discerning accessory to her outfit. The tight shorts, fishnet stocking on her left leg, and carefully cropped sweater makes Jessica easily fit into any campy B-horror movie as a damsels in distress. At least the knife glove is on the correct hand.
Abby Dark-Star’s take on Jason Vorhees from the Friday the 13th films is gritty and slightly more recognizable than Nigri’s Freddy. The hockey mask is really the main item that Abby uses to portray Jason.
Whether Jessica as Freddy chased you in your dreams or Abby’s Jason stalked you, dressed as they are in these outfits, you’d be fine.
5 Alissa Jess - Jolteon
In her first studio shoot, Alissa Jess puts together a Jolteon outfit that resembles a Playboy Bunny suit. Most Pokémon cosplays involve ears, and Jess’s Jolteon is no different. Besides color, ears are one of the ways cosplayers can convey what Pokémon they’ve dressed as.
Compared to some other Pokémon cosplays, Alissa’s is more conservative than most. It consists of a corset with long sleeves and a half tutu. The outfit still shows off all her legs and the top is low-cut, but the jagged cravat - which symbolizes Jolteons special jolt powers - hides some of what’s exposed there.
Surprisingly, it’s a tasteful cosplay, even though nothing screams that Alissa Jess is Jolteon. If you didn’t know she was Pokémon, you might think she stepped out of a play based in Victorian England.
4 Jessica Nigri - Ewok
Jessica Nigri knows how to go for alluring in some of her cosplays, but she also knows how to raise the cuteness factor - even if the costume hardly resembles a recognizable character. This is what happened with her Ewok cosplay.
When looking at this picture, Ewoks might be the last thing you think of. Nigri could be playing as a cast member from the Broadway musical Cats. Or even a strange-looking dog (notice the painted black spot on her nose.) The hood she wears helps you to figure out she cosplaying as the cuddly little bear-like creatures from Star Wars.
Maybe it’s the pose or the way Nigri gazes at the camera, but although Ewoks were delightful and charming in the Return of the Jedi movie, Jessica makes them even more lovable.
3 Iron Man
What makes Iron Man from Marvel comics and movies who he is? It’s the full metal protective suit of armor, the miniature power plant in his chest, and the red and gold colors many of his suits have. As you can see from this cosplayer from the Tampa Bay Comic Con, she finds that less can also represent Iron Man.
She keeps the red and gold and the discs on the hands and chest, but opts for a way more revealing top and bottom. How can you tell she’s Iron Man? The iconic helmet sits on the ground between her legs as she poses for the camera. It’s a catch-22 actually: if she puts the helmet on, it would take away from her beauty, and if she leaves it off, you would have to look twice to know she’s Iron Man.
2 Liz Katz – R2D2
Some cosplays are easy to identify, but are lacking in creativity. Now R2D2 is admittedly a tough character to cosplay, with his cylindrical body, domed head, and tracked feet, so creativity is going to be necessary.
What Liz Katz is wearing is either a swimsuit or a body suit - it definitely doesn't mimic the shape of R2D2 at all. She calls it a “little Star Wars number” and only shows the front. It’s only some of R2D2’s body and we could venture to guess there’s not much coverage in the back of the outfit.
While Liz Katz might be the droid you’re looking for in this picture, she is also one of the most stunning cosplayers who doesn't look like their character at all.
1 Raychul Moore – Mario
Raychul Moore celebrated Mario Kart 10's release by cosplaying as Mario, but she added a go-cart to make it more authentic. Raychul looks more like Mario than Antonina did in entry #13, and includes more recognizable accessories to aid the outfit.
However, Moore used similar, well-known pieces of clothing such as the hat with the ‘M’ on it and white gloves to let you know who she was. She does make a very cute Mario, though she’d probably be distracting on a Mario Kart course if you were racing against her.
If don’t remember Mario ever biting his finger seductively or sporting pigtails or wearing high heels and knee-high stockings, you are correct. He never did. But he does wear blue and red, so Raychul at least used the right color scheme.
What cosplays made you wonder who they were? Let us know in the comments!