Helmets Are Hardly Heroic

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Her upper thighs could use some protection, too.

"This helmet, I suppose,
Was meant to ward off blows,
It's very hot,
And weighs a lot,
As many a guardsman knows,
So off that helmet goes!"

AracPrincess Ida

Related to In Space Everyone Can See Your Face, in any work where a hero wears armor, either powered or otherwise, the helmet is never worn, even in combat situations.

The reasons for this are various. Humans are good at recognizing faces, and associate faces with personalities. Actors need facial expressions as a main tool of their performances. Also, less armour equals more Badass.

Alternately, the armor the main character wears might not be distinctive enough to make him stand out from other people wearing armor; we wouldn't want our hero to just be one of the faceless goons, after all. Writers and artists often try to alleviate this by giving main characters almost, but not quite the same uniform as the Faceless Mooks—or cheat by giving the hero a helmet, but shows their face clearly, whereas everyone else wears a full face helmet.

And in video games where you can customize your character's appearance, wearing a helmet will often obscure it and waste all the effort you put into it.

On a related note, in virtually every superhero movie in which the main character wears a mask, it will be pulled off during the climax of the movie. Usually it's torn off or so badly damaged that there's no point in keeping it on; sometimes the hero just decides to take it off.

Contrast Cool Helmet.

Examples of Helmets Are Hardly Heroic include:

Anime and Manga

  • For someone who wears 24-Hour Armor, Berserk's Guts doesn't seem to like helmets. It's possible he either feels it wouldn't help or has trouble seeing out of them with only one eye. Generally averted, however, as everyone else in armor (including Guts during "Band of the Hawks") wear helmets.
    • Ironically, one of the few times we ever see him wearing a helmet, it ends up saving his life, albeit shattering in the process.
      • Whenever Guts does wear his helmet, it somehow comes off in the midst of battle. How else would we see his beautiful battle smile?
    • Furthermore, everyone who was part of the Band of the Hawk stopped wearing helmets altogether after they won the Hundred Year War for Midland, Guts left, Griffith had a breakdown and got arrested, and the rest of the Hawks became fugitives although they all continued to wear the rest of their armor.
    • Perhaps terrifyingly averted when Guts obtains the Berserker Armor, which includes a Hellhound shaped Helmet that only appears when Guts is in an uncontrollable fury... Basically, see Guts' face; you may be ok. See the Helmet; kiss your ass goodbye.
      • However, when he learns to keep it under control with Schierke's help he keeps the helmet on but his face is shown in some scenes by only drawing the outline of the helmet.
  • It usually doesn't last long in Saint Seiya before the main heroes start losing their helmets early in the battle for the rest of the arc.
  • Even though it's part of his body, Greed of Fullmetal Alchemist hardly ever uses his Ultimate Shield on his head. This is explicitly because he doesn't like the way it makes his face look.
  • Averted with the Saga of Tanya the Evil manga. It tends to be easy to tell Tanya apart from everyone else (as she is so short), but sometimes Visha is hard to identify (unless you know to look for her prominent eyelashes), which might make you miss this trope regardless of how silly it is.
  • The Gundam franchise normally averts this, since the standard outfit for piloting a mobile suit is a space suit (even during terrestrial operations) and anyone who gets into one in normal clothes is either not the intended pilot or conducting an emergency sortie. There are still plenty of straight examples in the franchise however.
    • Nobody in Mobile Fighter G Gundam wears a helmet except the zombie pilots of the Death Army, even though the mobile trace system involves the user being physically thrown around inside the cockpit.
    • After War Gundam X takes place on Earth and named characters don't wear helmets except for once the action has moved to space. While the apocalypse making them hard to come by might explain their scarcity, nobody seems to get a concussion from being knocked around without one.
    • While the pilots of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury normally wear helmets during mobile suit operations, there's a curious example in episode 4 where Chuchu gets out of her mobile suit to fistfight a pair of bullies, and takes off her helmet before starting the fight, resulting in her face horribly bruised during the fight (emphasis on during, it's fixed the very next scene). She clearly wasn't be trying to make it a fair fight, since she opens with a sucker punch.

Comic Books

  • Generally averted in superhero comics, where stylish head coverings such as masks, cowls, and helmets come standard. The most notable exception is Lex Luthor, whose standard Powered Armor stops at the neck to show off his trademark Bald of Evil. Then again, he's not exactly a hero.


  • In G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, the hero gets a lot of flak during training for removing his head gear, but does the same thing later when wearing Powered Armor. In the second instance, at least, it might be justified by it having been damaged, as you can see large gash through the viewscreen just before he takes it off.
    • Also in a flashback. Duke is seen to be helmet-less whilst all his troops have them during a particularly intense fire-fight.
  • Frequently seen in The Lord of the Rings movies, from Elrond in the opening battle, to Aragorn and Legolas at Helm's Deep and Pelennor Fields. Gimli, on the other hand, hardly ever takes his helmet off at all.
  • Achilles removes his helmet just before fighting Hector in Troy, remarking that this time, Hector is sure of who he's fighting. Previously, Hector killed Achilles's cousin, who was wearing his armor and posing as him. Also, Achilles isn't going to care if he gets hit in the head, so it's not as though it's a disadvantage.
  • Played with in the opening battle of Saving Private Ryan. One soldier has an enemy bullet glance off his helmet, he takes it off to marvel at his luck, and catches a sniper round between the eyes.
  • Averted then played straight in the film of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian: When Peter and King Miraz are dueling, both start out wearing their helmets, and Peter's even saves him from a few blows. After their brief intermission, Peter takes his off to breathe more easily and keeps it off when they restart; the villain's helmet stays on a few minutes more before he decides to remove it, as well.
  • A Knight's Tale takes this up to eleven: Will is injured just before the final lance, which will determine who wins the world championships. Not only does he opt not to wear his helmet, he takes off all his armour, saying he "can't breathe with it on." You won't breathe if you take it off either, Will, because you will be dead.
    • On the other hand, the chestplate was damaged enough that it was pushing at the wound and possibly compressing his chest.
    • Averted in most of the earlier jousts. In commentary, the director noted the convenience of being able to cut from shots of the actors, ending when they pulled down their faceplates, to shots of the stunt men.
    • And in the first joust, William used the damage to his faceplate to justify not showing his face—even after the combat.
  • An especially egregious example is the end of Batman Returns where the Dark Knight actually tears the rigid plastic neck of his batsuit in order to remove the headpiece which was not designed to be removed without taking off the upper part of the suit. The suit, by the way, was already established to be bulletproof body armour. This leads to the question of how he gets the headpiece on in the first place.
  • Averted in Starship Troopers, where the cast reasonably wear their combat helmets in battle. In fact, failure to do so gets a person killed during boot camp.
    • Assuming you don't take a look at the angle (a chin strap does not stop a bullet...). But it was the thought that counts
  • In Spider-Man 3, Harry opens the faceplate on his Goblin helmet whenever it's dramatic to do so. Even Venom gets in on the act—The symbiote pulls back from Eddie Brock's face whenever he feels like taunting Spider-Man.
    • Similarly, Spidey's mask either ends up removed or significantly damaged during dramatic moments to show the audience the look on Tobey Maguire's face.
  • In Top Gun, all pilots do wear helmets, but none of the named characters ever have their sun-visors down over their eyes while flying (not even "by the book" pilots such as Jester or Viper). Conversely, the helmets of all the unnamed MiG pilots cover the entire head.
  • Played straight in the first Judge Dredd film adaptation, despite Dredd always keeping his helmet on in the comics.
    • In direct response to backlash over this, the IP's new owner Rebellion Publishing (who identify Dredd, his Never Bareheaded status included, as part of English cultural heritage) now makes it a contractual requirement in licensing that Dredd keep his helmet on. Accordingly the second film avoids it for him entirely.
  • Averted, somewhat, in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. In the scene where the NEST team investigates Chernobyl, they do manage to wear Hazmat suits with self contained breathing apparatus that cover their entire face. However, these masks are much larger than in real life, presumably to allow the audience to see the face of the actor.
  • Initially averted in The Last Samurai, but most of the main samurai characters forgo helmets for the final battle. Ujio wears one during the cavalry charge, but loses it almost immediately.
  • Thor keeps his incredibly cool helmet on for maybe three seconds at a ceremony. His devious brother Loki wears his even cooler helmet all the time.
  • By the time Thor comes back for The Avengers he's either lost his helmet or just didn't feel the need to bother. Captain America ends up with his helmet off fairly often, and even has it forcibly removed by an enemy near the end of the film (likely so that the audience can more clearly see his emoting).


  • In the Star Trek novel Gulliver's Fugitives, a documentary/propaganda maker tells his "star" to take his helmet off before getting in a fist fight with one of the resistance members. Yes, the bad guys manage to stage events like that in real combat missions.
  • Lampshaded in at least one Ciaphas Cain '(HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!)' novel, where Cain comments on the stupidity of going in to battle while wearing powered armour but no helmets. A later novel comments on the Adepta Sororitas' habit of omitting their helmets, which probably would have saved a few of them against the 'nids.
    • Cain has no choice; his uniform includes a peaked cap, which precludes him from using a helmet. He frequently regrets that this is the case.
  • Variation: justified in Snow Crash: Y.T. does without a helmet because it plays havoc with her hearing and peripheral vision, and anyway she has enough other safety gear that the presence or absence of a helmet would be largely academic.
  • Averted by Nihal, who despite being unable to wear a proper armor (being female and all) still wears a helmet ornated with Dragon Wings. Seen often in the cover arts here [dead link].
  • Justified in the Discworld novel Monstrous Regiment. The Squad stop at a garrison town to equip themselves, but what equipment they find is so thoroughly battered that the helmets weren't even capable of keeping the rain off.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire Tyrion removes his helmet during the Battle of Blackwater to improve his vision, and later takes an axe to the head that nearly kills him. After he's mostly recovered his father reprimands him for doing it, saying that his brother would never have been foolish enough to take off his helmet during battle.

Live-Action TV

  • In the early episodes of Stargate SG-1, Daniel and Carter wore helmets while O'Neill wore a baseball cap. Lampshaded in the episode "Moebius" in which the team has an alternate first mission:

Daniel: How come we have to wear these and you don't?

    • After SG-1 stop wearing helmets, however, other SG teams continue the practice, and SG-1 themselves do continue to wear headgear (usually hats, or in Daniel's case, a bandana) that match whatever camouflage BDUs they are wearing.
    • Also lampshaded at the end of "Redemption, Part 2", when newly minted SG-1 member Jonas Quinn shows up with a helmet and O'Neill tells him to lose it.
  • Flashpoint, a Canadian police drama, does this way too much. Ironically, the characters started wearing their helmets properly, then stopped using the chin straps, and by now just use uniform caps. The unnamed officers still wear full gear, though.
  • The TOS spacesuits in Star Trek. The "almost plastic bag death spacesuits". Made entirely to not muss up the hair and show the actor's entire face, the suit doesn't seem to be too ergonomic or protective in the head regions.
  • 24: Every time Jack Bauer storms a room alongside fully equipped and helmeted SWAT members, he goes in practically naked (sometimes he will get a bullet-proof vest). Same goes for any other credited co-star going in with him.
  • The Shield suffers from this a lot.
  • Practically every semi-realistic show involving a team of police (or similar) does this. When they have to call in more guys (SWAT team, etc) to storm something, the team will lead the assault and while they often will grab a bulletproof vest and sometimes a bigger gun, but the named characters always seem noticeably devoid of head protection.
  • In The Devil's Whore at the battle of Edgehill, named characters ride into battle bareheaded. Musket-fodder are usually wearing helmets, which makes sense really because it means the extras can be re-used. Doesn't stop the battle looking a bit under attended mind... the real Edghill featured 27,000 combatants, while this representation features about 27.
  • Power Rangers. It's rare, but if a ranger enters a battle without their helmet for what ever reason, you can bet it's going to be the most epic fight of the season.
  • In the opening of the first episode of Firefly, the Battle of Serenity Valley is raging. Several Browncoat soldiers are seen wearing helmets, but Mal and Zoey don't -- and they're the only ones who will appear again after this scene.
  • In Doctor Who, Rory Williams spends some time as a Roman centurion and dresses in the costume a few times afterwards. While he is shown to own a helmet, he never wears it after his first appearance as the centurion.
  • On Game of Thrones, come the battle of the Blackwater, named characters like Stannis, the Hound, Lancel, and Joffrey go unhelmeted. Not entirely a use of this trope, and in Stannis and Joffrey's case this can be justified as them wanting their troops to see them to boost morale.

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40,000: Space Marines never wear helmets in promotional art, while the rest of their body is armored like a tank. They obviously do so in the actual universe, just not in the art. And even in-universe, the helmets are off far too often. Also, most of the models of officers and HQ units in Warhammer 40000 lack helmets. If they have a helmet, it's usually painted in a different colour or has a different design from those of regular troops. It's justified because it makes the models easier to spot by the players, but for the same reason it would be a rather bad idea in an actual battlefield. The lack of helmets is infact lampshaded in one piece of flavour text, where Colonel Straken kills a Chaos Lord by laying in ambush and attacking him from behind when he removes his helmet.
    • Also, space marines are genetically engineered and conditioned/made to have very tough skeletons, so going without a helmet is not quite as stupid for an SM as it is for a human. It is still pretty stupid, though.
    • Lampshaded in the new background, such as the Vorlinghast's Bane story, where the Space Marines sent to cleanse the planet were infected by the warp plague affecting the planet's populace—but only the ones who did not have helmets. The ones who wore full armour were not affected, as they had a completely sealed environment.
    • Another of the justifications is that some Space Marines, predominantly Space Wolves, don't like how helmets inhibit their heightened sense of smell.
    • But then, you wouldn't get to paint any faces otherwise.
    • As far as the models go, almost every race has a lot of basic troops with helmets, where squad leaders and commanders and tank crew almost never wear them.
      • Also handwaved in one novel, where it is stated that one of the first things that breaks down irreparably on a suit of Powered Armor is the air scrubber, so anyone wearing a helmet will be caught in the smell of a couple of thousand years worth of stale farts. and since officer and hero armour often is some kind of ancient relic...
      • Justified also because the Commander almost always has a melee weapon such as a Chainsword which leave enough of a mess on your armor so as to make wearing a helmet dificult because of the gore obstructing your already limited vision.
    • Made into a rule in Deathwatch: When going without a helmet, you lose the armour points for the head zone and the environmental seal, but gain a bonus to fellowship rolls, gain a little more renown and, as a squad leader, can better resist the loss of cohesion points.
    • Exaggerated by the Tau, who to a man wear full-body suits of armour if not Power Armour or Mini-Mecha... except the spiritual leaders, the Ethereals, who wear ordinary robes and no helmet.
    • Lampshaded in Prospero Burns. The main character gets many headshots since the Space Wolves are rather.....dim on helmet policies. Hell, instead of wearing good old fashioned ceramite helmets, they wore leather masks that are shaped like a wolf head.
  • Exalts in Exalted rarely wear helmets along with their glowing Magitek Powered Armor. Storytellers are explicitly discouraged from allowing called shots to the head (or any other unarmored location), as making the PCs do practical things like put on helmets and not wear Chainmail Bikinis is antithetical to the intended atmosphere of the game.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, mundane helmets are purely for flavor. Whether or not you wear one makes no difference to Armor Class. This is so armored characters aren't penalized for wearing a magic hat.


  • The "we need to recognize the characters" reason is inverted in Bionicle: Thanks to the wonders of standardized toy parts, most if not all characters in any given story arc will have the exact same face. So a character's unique headgear more or less is his face, and serves as a major way to tell people apart. (In the occasional movie where characters need to actively emote, there are various workarounds, like removing a mouthplate or using an Expressive Mask). It's also worth noting that there's an in-universe practical reason to keep faces covered, too: some races have "losing your mask" as a Weaksauce Weakness.)
  • Played straight through most of the original 1982-1994 G.I. Joe toyline with poster boy Duke, whose action figures generally included a helmet amongst other items of kit but who was almost never depicted actually wearing it.

Video Games

  • In World of Warcraft, a helmet is an integral and necessary part of any player's kit. Nonetheless, it's completely optional whether or not your helmet is visible on your character. However, it remains equipped either way. Of course, most of the important NPCs aren't wearing helmets either, although there are still some notable NPCs who always wear them(Maiev and Darion Mograine) or for an important battle(Tirion Fordring, Varok Saurfang and Muradin Bronzebeard in Icecrown Citadel).
  • In Guild Wars, helmet visibility is optional.
  • In Warhammer Online, helmet visibility is optional.
  • Half Life: Gordon Freeman is never depicted with his helmet on in official art, despite his HEV suit coming with one and every other HEV wearer wearing one. Arguments have been made over why nobody shoots him in the head, the consensus being that he does have a helmet. He just doesn't wear it all the time.
  • Fate/stay night: Some of the super-powered Servants wear armor to protect themselves, but they don't bother with the helmets. The armor they wear do come with helmets; the design shows up in the artbooks, the Servants just prefer not to have them. This actually bites one of them in the ass at one point: Saber is nearly defeated because her head is the only unarmoured portion of her. Incidentally, the only time we see her helmet in the actual game is in the Heaven's Feel path, coloured in the black and red of Saber Alter, where it's almost immediately shattered by Berserker's attacks, which may explain why Saber prefers not to wear it in combat. This is, if you think about it, a real head against wall moment since we are repeatedly told that servants' identity must remain hidden, and covering your face is one of the most effective ways to conceal your identity.
  • Averted with the Black Knight in Fate/Zero, who wears a full black suit of mail with helmet. The helmet keeps not only his head but also his identity safe for almost the entire war, and it is only revealed in the moment of his death.
  • In Gears of War, the protagonists don't wear helmets, and doing so seems to doom you to an untimely death. The helmet design makes it difficult to spot snipers with only two small spots for your eyes to look out of.
    • Gears Of War 2 has a couple instances where the protagonists and Ben Carmine (who wears a helmet at all times) point out situations where wearing the helmet would have been incredibly useful.
    • Played with and ultimately subverted in Gears of War 3 with Clayton Carmine, who is shot in the head by a friendly sniper mistaking him for a hostile... but the poor angle of the impact causes the round to glance off his helmet, leaving him stunned but unhurt. If he had not been wearing the helmet, it would have killed him.
  • In Mass Effect, all characters except Tali have a helmet on/off option with no disadvantage for not wearing a helmet. Only when the atmosphere isn't breathable do all characters wear their helmets. This might be justified by the fact that the character rely more on shields than physical armor to protect them from high-tech weaponry. In Mass Effect 2, however, wearing a helmet does give you stat advantages... you alone. Your allies don't even get the option anymore.
  • In Dragon Age Origins if you equip a helmet on any character, it shows whether you like it or not, but is magically removed during all dialogue scenes. The sequel goes further and restricts your party members to their unique ungradable armor sets (ME2-style), none of which features anything remotely face-concealing. Hawke may still wear a helmet but it is magically removed during dialogue, like in the first game. In Dragon Age II you can check the "Hide Helmet" box in the interface settings, found in the options.
  • In Luminous Arc games, as with a lot of SRP Gs, the player spends a considerable amount of money on helmets, hoods, hats and other headgear which NEVER makes a difference to the character designs in-game.
  • Armored knights/generals in Fire Emblem games generally wear helmets that obscure their faces while in combat, especially in the GBA games, where characters of a class shared the same battle sprites—but will be helmetless in dialogue. In, say, Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, your generals won't bother. Admittedly, in Gatrie's case, his armor hides the lower half of his face anyway.
    • None of the Radiant Dawn Marshalls (third-tier armored knights) wear helmets. While Gatrie and Brom never use headgear in RD, Tauroneo and new addition Meg do start out helmeted. That's right—they promote out of helmets, and their skulls level up so much they can take blows bareheaded! Beat THAT!
  • Played straight, averted and Lampshaded in Killzone 2. While the main cast of heroes never wear combat helmets, virtually everybody else does. In fact, combat helmets act as an actual gameplay mechanic, with few weapons being capable of penetrating an enemys helmet on impact. The helmet is however knocked off the enemy mook, ensuring the next headshot to be fatal. Finally, the trope itself is lampshaded in the games cinematic intro, with a news topic briefly scrolling during the big bads speech. The topic reads: "Combat helmets, are they really necessary?"
  • Inverted in the Halo series. The helmet of the Master Chief is one of the icons of the series and looks pretty awesome.
    • In Halo 3: ODST the faceless Rookie wears his helmet but the rest of his troop take the opportunity to take theirs off at any chance, or at the least de-tint their visors.
  • Inverted in Ultima VIII: Pagan, where the Avatar's in-game appearance, even when he is not wearing any armour at all, features a Great Helm that completely obscures his features. This led to some fans giving him the nickname Ol' Bucket-Head. The Avatar's Crossover appearance in Dungeon Keeper is modelled after the sprite from Pagan.
  • StarCraft II makes a point of giving all the power-armored characters helmets with reflective visors. They tend to raise them fairly often in cutscenes, sometimes when it makes no sense to unseal their suits.
    • Ground vehicle pilots tend to not have any sort of helmets at all, odd when compared to their original Starcraft equivalents sometimes epic headgear. The new siege tank driver looks like he's driving a tank in an officer's dress uniform, sans topper. Special mention must go to the Viking pilot, who opens and closes his faceplate when the unit changes form, and the Banshee pilot, who lowers a display eyeshield and blacks out the cockpit glass when she cloaks.
    • The Protoss also invert this trope pretty hard. The base infantry Zealot goes bareheaded, but the unit portraits for some of the heroic and pilot characters feature some really epic headgear. Of course, protoss don't have much in the way of a face, so concealing it isn't that big an issue.
  • In Final Fantasy IV, Cecil wears a helmet that covers most of his face when he's a Dark Knight, but opts for a headband when he becomes a Paladin.
    • And in Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, Kain purges himself of his dark side for good and gets a new Holy Dragoon job class. As a part of his new costume, his full helmet is replaced with a sort of tiara that shows his good looks. Golbez no longer wears a helmet either, instead becoming a rare male example of Stripperific.
  • This is likely the reason that when Bethesda did armor designs for Fallout 3, the helmet was left separate from the armor. There's a total of one example that isn't and it's the Chinese Stealth Armor from the Operation Anchorage DLC.
  • Averted in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, of all things. After defeating Laughing Octopus, Snake gets a mask add on for his Octocamo. Wearing it is the only way to accomplish stealth after that point. It also makes you look a little like Deadpool.
  • Averted in Dead Space, where protagonist Isaac Clarke spent pretty much the entire game wearing a helmet. In Dead Space 2, he removes it when talking during cutscenes, but still wears it the majority of the time.
    • Unlike in the first game, the helmet in the sequel automatically disassembles and stows itself inside Isaac's armor when his face needs to be seen. However it tends to come off at the most inconvenient times.
  • Inverted in Chrono Cross, in which party member Zoah wears a helmet... And pretty much nothing else.
  • In any Valkyria Chronicles games none of your soldiers wear a helmet, even while fighting in a civil war or against a whole empire
  • Played with occasionally in the Metroid series. Usually Samus subverts this trope by wearing a helmet that fully conceals her face, but in some games her visor is fully transparent (in Other M it switches back and forth as a function of the helmet). The Fedaration Marines in Other M try to find a medium by having helmets that mechanically open to completely reveal their faces (unfortunately the opened helmets look a bit top-heavy, giving them a tendency towards Dark Helmet Syndrome).
    • Averted in the original game to allow her gender to be hidden until the ending.
    • In Metroid Prime Corruption, the helmet can apparently be teleported on and off at Samus's whim, but the only times she does it is when an overdose of Phazon causes her to vomit, and parts of the ending. Otherwise she never takes off the helmet during a mission, even on planets with earthlike atmosphere. Nor does anyone else, except for Admiral Dane.
  • Kenshin Dragon Quest, the spinoff-remake of the original Dragon Quest, removes Loto/Edrick's helmet, showing his gold Super Saiyan-ish hair. Loto's Limit Break in Battle Road series shows him rescuing the princess without his helmet as it has turned into his Mid-Season Upgrade of some sort.
  • Taking its cue from Warhammer 40,000, most Imperial squad leaders and heroes in Dawn of War fight bareheaded. The only exceptions are Ogryn BONEheads who wear a horned helmet and some Battle Sister squad leaders. Squad leaders and heroes of other factions vary a good deal: The Chaos Lord is bareheaded, while the Eldar Farseer and Tau commander have helmets.
  • No main character from SOLDIER wears their helmet inFinal Fantasy VII or Crisis Core. Partly justified in that 1st Class SOLDIERs can wear whatever they want, but Zack doesn't do it even when he's 2nd Class. Averted by Cloud in Crisis Core, who wears the Shinra MP helmet in all action sequences.
  • Similarly, Zack wears a helmet in Kingdom Hearts meant to resemble a Greek helmet and the SOLDIER helmet for all of 10 seconds and however long it takes you to beat the first battle with him. Once it's knocked off, he never wears it again.
  • Most units in the Command & Conquer series wear full armor with helmets, but Commando units usually don't. In Tanya's case, she barely wears anything protective at all.
  • This trope is common throughout the Suikoden series, as its main characters rarely wear helmets, even when riding at the head of helmet-clad troops.
  • Averted in both Demon's Souls and Dark Souls: The most recognizable "face" of the game is a knight wearing a Fluted Helmet (Demon's Souls) or an Elite Knight Helmet (Dark Souls). It also helps that both of them are Cool Helmets, and since a lot of players play in Undead state, seeing your character's emaciated face without a helmet on can be... slightly jarring.
  • In Uncharted's multiplayer, only villains wore helmets. Taken to eleven in Uncharted 3's multiplayer, where you can buy ten different helmets for your custom villain—and the only one a hero can get is the ISA helmet, which you need real money to buy.
  • Inverted in Section 8 (video game). Your character is almost never seen without his helmet, which also applies to some allies, while villains are usually seen helmetless.
  • Played with in the Neverwinter Nights series. Being based on 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons, helmets usually don't add anything to Armor Class, but to an extent Armor Is Useless at higher levels anyway. The real reason to wear a helmet is for its enchantments: most basic helmets (particularly in the sequel) will add +1 to Concentration, which is useful to spellcasters.
  • One of the gameplay options in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning lets players hide helmets on their character.
  • A weird, villainous version in Champions Online. In Champions, your equipment never affects your appearance, so you can go naked if you want. However, bad guy organization VIPER have units called Air Cavalry...and Air Cavalry Ace. The Air Cavs have the standard VIPER full-concealment helmet, but the Aces only wear goggles. Then, eventually, VIPER subverts it with Viper-X, apparently the leader of the Air Cavalry, who does not appear to wear a helmet (and then it slides into place when he enters combat).
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Battle Operation Code Fairy curiously tries to have it both ways: Noisy Fairy members appear bareheaded, but are otherwise in full pilot suits during cutscenes (which clearly show them in their cockpits) and on icons indicating who is talking. The same characters do wear helmets if they leave their mobile suit during gameplay immediately following a cutscene.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars' clone troopers always keep their helmets on in battle, but always take them off to have conversations, presumably for the benefit of the audience (even if they all have the same face, it's still human nature to want to see individuals).
    • Lampshaded by Cad Bane in the Season4 episode "Friends and Enemies"

Rako Hardeen: For trying to blend in, your hat makes you stand out.
Cad Bane as Hardeen chooses a helmet: I don't like to hide under a helmet.

  • Star Wars: Clone Wars inverts this by having all the clone troopers have their helmets on at all time and you never see their faces, save the back of Alpha77 (aka Fordo)'s head. The key clones are distinguished instead by colour markings; specifically, if they're red, chances are they're Badass.
    • Obi-wan Kenobi wears full armor, with a helmet, in one battle. Naturally, a blow to the head knocks the helmet off so we can see his face. On that ocasion, he was disguised as a Trooper until the helmet loss.

Real Life

  • In one (sort of) example, after being unhorsed at the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror removed his helmet so his allies could see that he was still alive.
  • The full helmets of the high mediaeval period seriously restricted the wearer's vision. As such, a lot of knights chose to raise or remove their visors for hand-to-hand combat, accepting the increased risk as a necessary sacrifice in order to remain aware of what was going on around them. Of course, they were very seldom dumb enough to go bareheaded.
    • That's also why there was maille coif - hood made of a sparse to semitransparency ring weave. It allows the warrior to remove the hard helmet while not in the fight, and have mostly unrestricted vision, hearing and air flow, yet still have decent protection in case of an unexpected attack.
  • Historically, captured knights (and other armoured opponents) relinquished their weapons, helmets, and a gauntlet. The gauntlet was for later identification of their captor so he could claim the ransom. The reason for surrender of the weapons should be obvious, but the helmet was removed so that even if the captive could find weapons he would be unable to effectively fight, given that a conflict with a bare-headed opponent ends very, very quickly. Removal of helmet = death in combat. Good examples of this come from records of the French-English battle at Agincourt.
  • The whole of heraldry derives from the medieval practice of a knight actually wearing a coat of arms—i.e., a coat over his armor—with a distinctive pattern, so that he could be recognized even while wearing his helmet. Eventually knights started duplicating the pattern on their shields, and then the pattern evolved into a personal/family emblem represented on a stylized shield.
  • This Trope, played straight, may have actually saved the army for Pyrrhus of Epirus at the Battle of Heraclea. During the battle, he was knocked off his horse and badly shaken, so he had his armor and helmet taken up by Megacles, who was of similar build to him. A Roman horseman manages to kill Megacles and sever his head, holding it up and riding down the lines to show that he had killed the Epirote king. The Epirote army began to falter, until Pyrrhus took up a horse and started riding along the lines without a helmet, showing his men he was alive.
  • Some British generals and politicians during World War I argued against issuing helmets, with the notion that "helmets are expensive and cause cowardice" and bogus statistics.
  • In Red Army monkeying with statistics was limited during Stalin's rule, as he insisted on reports to him being mostly true, with smoke and mirrors being reserved for propaganda - but gung-ho attitude was endemic. P. Grigorenko wrote in his memoir that in a hospital he have heard from the surgeon that around 80% of soldiers killed outright or dying of wounds had head injury, and with helmets fatality from a head wound is rare (though bad concussions still happen), and decided to promote wearing helmets. He immediately found out that in 1944 it was still so bad that even a good regiment commander won't order to issue helmets without instructions from above out of fear of catching reputation of a coward, even though he also thinks it's a good idea and helmets are actually available. So even after ordering helmets he had to convince everyone to actually wear them. First making public every case when someone survived thanks to not forgetting the headgear, later using as an illustration a helmet that was on him when a palm-sized mortar shrapnel got stuck in it, which caused only a knockout and bleeding cut-burn that didn't quite get through the skin instead of a messy fatality. He had to struggle against the Gung-Holier Than Thou commissars, but more sensible ones supported him on this... up to the Chief of political section of the army Leonid Brezhnev, who borrowed his visual aid and didn't return.
  • Invoked for SWAT teams and the like—intimidation was a factor in giving them their equipment, since scaring the opposition to surrender without firing a shot is always preferred.
  • When cricketers first started wearing helmets in the 1970s, some commentators didn't like it. One asked the great Don Bradman about the trend. Bradman replied that if he had been offered a helmet during the infamous bodyline series (where the English constantly bowled short-pitched deliveries that bounced up to around the Australian batsmen's head area), he would have worn one.
  • British troops based in southern Iraq wore berets instead of helmets on patrol in an effort to win over the local population. This is SOP for peacekeeping operations; it makes the soldiers appear less threatening.
    • This isn't actually as dangerous as it sounds, as scoring a headshot without a scope and the element of surprise is nigh-impossible except at point-blank range, and most proper marksman's rifles come in calibres that can defeat Kevlar anyway. Military ballistic helmets are useful versus shrapnel, but ultimately of secondary importance to protecting the torso.
    • Military and law enforcement are also generally trained to shoot "center of mass," which equals the center of the chest. The intended target is the heart or great vessels. American shooters are trained to shoot twice for the chest and once for the head when firing in close combat. The headshot is usually unnecessary after two in the chest. Most lethal bullet strikes are to the torso or abdomen, with limb hits causing death usually if care is delayed.
  • Truth in Television for some special operations forces, who may forgo helmets and body armour depending upon the mission profile. This is not to say it doesn't compromise their combat effectiveness - just that in some missions, blending in is deemed more important.
  • During the evolution of the NHL during the seventies, Canadian players protested the new rules regarding helmet use. According to the Canadian players, a mask for the goalie was enough. Bizarrely, players from the States and Europe didn't tend to agree.
    • This was especially visible during the 1972 Summit Series. The Canadian National team were bareheaded throughout (except for, oddly enough, eventual series hero Paul Henderson), while the Red Army team wore helmets.
  • The Chinese People's Liberation Army Marine Corps. While half of them wear the standard black helmet with goggles on the helmet, the other half wear wool/fleece tuques with goggles on their tuque caps. Justified for the tuques keep their head warm at sea and the fact that they are mainly a peace keeping force escorting vessels near the Gulf of Aiden (picture of them here). Why they never wear their goggles on their eyes is still a mystery. Even when they require eye protection, they would wear a separate pair of ballistic sunglasses instead of their tinted goggles if they have them.
  • The "Secrete" (pronounced "Secret") helmet attempted to solve this by allowing a helmet to be worn under a nice hat.