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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?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Beauty and beholder in respect to other senses \$\endgroup\$ Jan 11, 2019 at 15:07
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    \$\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\$ Jan 11, 2019 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\$ Jan 12, 2019 at 18:35

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The earliest reference is 1983

First time I heard it referenced in Dungeons and Dragons was in the 1983 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.

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    \$\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\$ Jan 11, 2019 at 14:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a better answer than you give yourself credit for. That episode aired in September 1983. \$\endgroup\$
    – ruffdove
    Aug 15, 2020 at 21:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ruffdove You are correct. I don 't know where I get 87 now. I have corrected that. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Aug 16, 2020 at 1:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ You bet! I almost posted a new answer putting the date a month earlier at August 1983. Dragon magazine published the Ecology of the Beholder that month and the article was teased on the cover as "An Eye on the Beholder." Close, but I don't think it counts. \$\endgroup\$
    – ruffdove
    Aug 16, 2020 at 1:32
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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–"

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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.)

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