Here's something: Plain ol' figure drawing/painting. Does it ever have a place in a portfolio? I noticed a lot of that from my fellow hopefuls over NYCC and didn't feel it was MY place to knock it, but to me it created the impression of unnecessary filler. No matter how pretty, there's just no content.
It depends. For freelance illustration? No. For a staff concept art gig? Maybe. For school admissions? Definitely. Always tailor your portfolio to the particular situation. There's no such thing as one-size-fits-all. And nothing in it should be filler of any sort, no matter how pretty.