Is there any recorded use of the phrase, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" being used in a commercially available D&D campaign or any rulebook of any edition, specifically to reference (secretly or overtly) a beholder that appears in the course of the campaign? What's the earliest instance?


This question has an open bounty worth +200 reputation from lightcat ending in 4 days.

Looking for an answer drawing from credible and/or official sources.

Preference for (A)D&D gaming publications of any version, including rule books and published or commercially available campaigns. Will also accept any other D&D branded material, including games, video games, publications and marketing. Please include reference images if possible (with web link citation) and which publication the reference is from and the date, even if you think it's obvious.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Beauty and beholder in respect to other senses \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Mortensen Jan 11 at 15:07
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ I've updated this to ask for the earliest instance since that will help us filter to a “best” answer rather than merely collecting an ongoing list of all the times it ever happened. (Which is probably a lot.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 11 at 19:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowRanger At best that comment was chatting, and possibly it was attempting to answer the question. Neither usage are what the commenting feature is provided for, so your comment was removed. See this FAQ for more information. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 12 at 18:35

The earliest reference is 1987

First time I heard it referenced in Dungeons and Dragons was in the 1987 Saturday morning cartoon.

It was Episode 2, The Eye of the Beholder, specifically at this point during their conversation with Dungeon Master.

Not really published though and not exactly canon.

  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ This does at least establish by precedent that it was very early on that the reference was occurring to people and being used. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 11 at 14:29

The earliest reference is 1988

Yamara was comic strip which appeared in Dragon magazine. The first strip published in May 1988 made this joke:

An elf says to her beholder friend: "Oh, you know what they say about the beauty being in the–"

New contributor
Ori Gurel-Gurevich is a new contributor to this site. Take care in asking for clarification, commenting, and answering. Check out our Code of Conduct.

The earliest reference is 1990

Not exactly a campaign but an early issue of Dragon magazine had a “cute” drawing of a beholder on the cover. The issue’s tagline is “Beauty is in the eye of — oh, skip it.” It was their 1990 April issue, #156:

A man in a tunic and hose, with a sword and pouches on his belt, kneels on one knee and presents a bouquet of flowers to a blushing beholder monster floating before him. His right hand is on his chest and he is speaking or singing, as if reciting an love poem to the beholder.
Cover by Daniel Horne © TSR & WotC, used under Fair Use for teaching and cultural critique purposes

(This issue is in the tradition of April issues of Dragon being silly for April Fools’. If you ever wanted to encounter the dread Bubble Dragon or a herd of Blink Mammoths, this is your DM’s issue.)

New contributor
Vidar is a new contributor to this site. Take care in asking for clarification, commenting, and answering. Check out our Code of Conduct.

From 2017, Newest!

This had been posted and was unfortunately deleted. Here it is again, from Xanathar's Guide to Everything

enter image description here

Source: https://www.tsrarchive.com/5e/5e-hb-acc.html

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I dont see how this is an answer to this question. This reference ("Newest") may even change in the next book published. At best, the image could be linked in the answer to explain why it is being asked. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras 20 hours ago
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, that makes sense. It had been here before the "earliest" part was added to the question and then it got deleted. I think the reason it got deleted was partly due to outside editing though and I liked it being part of the discussion. Adding it to the question sounds like a good idea. I'll do that when I get in front of a computer. It's a bit tricky to pull off on my phone. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat 17 hours ago
  • \$\begingroup\$ Let me clarify (and you will be able to see this when you have enough reputation here), but this was the comment left by a moderator when the previous answer got deleted: Since this is currently an answer to a different question, it’s been removed. (We don’t need to answer old versions of questions, just the current version.) \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras 17 hours ago
  • \$\begingroup\$ I get that this site is about answers more than discussion, but sometimes answers (and questions) are more meaningful and impactful when there is greater context which this original answer provided to some degree. It showed that this beholder reference is ongoing and still relevant today. I think the original response added value to the question and to other responses. \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat 14 hours ago
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras Additionally I've seen several times from moderators that users can answer questions however they want and it's up to the voters to approve or disapprove, not the moderators. That response from whoever the user was had gotten quite a few upvotes and that should be enough of a reason to let it remain. If the user deleted it because they didn't want down votes that's one thing, but if it was deleted by a moderator that feels unfair to me. \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat 11 hours ago

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.