The Faceless

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There's a reason Anubis doesn't let you see his face. He doesn't have one.
"And as years passed and there were fewer in the city (and none beyond it) who remembered my face, the wildest stories got about as to what that veil hid."

A variant of He Who Must Not Be Seen. The audience never gets a good look at this character's face. Specific variants include:

  • Characters who are only ever shown from behind.
  • Characters who are only ever shown while standing behind something.
  • Characters who are only ever shown from the neck down or lower.
  • Characters who always stand in shadow or have their Face Framed in Shadow.
  • Characters who wear a mask.
  • Characters whose eyes are hidden or always closed, but their face is otherwise visible. This is more frequent in Anime, which relies strongly on eyes to express emotion and intent.
  • Characters whose first person perspective is revealed, without ever showing their face.

There are several reasons for writing a faceless character, depending on their role in the plot. For a recurring character, hiding their face lends an air of ambiguity to the character and their motives. If said character is a villain, often of the Diabolical Mastermind variety, this additionally serves to make them seem more threatening.

Occasionally, the recurring faceless character will be revealed in an especially poignant scene, typically just before the series (or the character's tenure on it) ends. Villainous characters tend to be hideously disfigured when their masks are removed, though the subversion has become just about as common, where the villain is revealed to be a perfectly ordinary guy. The faceless villain could also be a Mole in the good guys' team the audience doesn't know about yet.

Non-recurring faceless characters tend to be either Cannon Fodder Faceless Goons (whose facelessness removes their individuality, their humanity, and -- hopefully—the audience's squeamishness about their deaths), or an Invisible President (whose face is hidden to prevent the episode from being dated by the next election).

May involve being Never Bareheaded. For other parts of the body, see Scenery Censor. If you don't see anything at all from a villain, watch your step; you're up against an Ultimate Evil. For literally faceless characters see The Blank. Scary Shiny Glasses is related. The hidden-by-shadow version combined with Chekhov's Gunman results in Sinister Silhouettes. If a character never appears at all, they're The Ghost.

The mask-wearing kind of The Faceless often end with The Reveal. Sometimes this is a big anticlimax.

Examples of The Faceless include:

Advertisements[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Venezuela, there is this beer ad that features a Ms. Fanservice known as "la catira Regional" ("the Regional blonde", for the brand of the beer), who's always in a bikini or some other revealing outfit. But everybody is more concerned about why she never shows her face: would she be ugly? Would she be a man...? And, not happy with making the whole country be worried about this matter, after years of teasing they make this, where you can see her face very briefly for some seconds. Isn't it cruel?
  • A recent advertising campaign for the acid reflux medicine Aciphex features either people shown only from the nose down, or people who have their faces from their nose up conveniently obscured by objects like a lamp, cupboard door, and a car front hood.

Anime & Manga[edit | hide]

  • In the GetBackers anime, whenever Raitei and the original Four Kings are shown in flashback, the 4th King, Kurusu Masaki is always hidden in shadow (Fridge Brilliance because he has the superhuman power to generate/manipulate light) and only his blackened silouhette is shown. This lasts until the first episode of the final story arc, where he is formally introduced
  • The Big Bad from Noein wears a spooky, warped golden mask that also muddles his voice and cloaks him in white energy. It turns out to be a good thing, because he's another quantum version of the male leads and is damn creepy-looking.
  • The face of the villain Gargoyle from Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water was always hidden by a mask; said mask was finally destroyed near the end of the series. His actual face gets less than five seconds of screen time.
  • Soichiro Otonashi, Kyoko's late husband in Maison Ikkoku, has his face blacked out in all flashbacks of him. Even his yearbook photo was obscured by a large ink stain. When the main character is finally able to see a picture of Soichiro, it's an Un Reveal for the reader.
  • Gun X Sword: Shino is only ever seen once, and that is in silhouette behind a sheet as she hangs laundry in Ray's dying fantasy. However, we do see a waitress who Joshua says looks just like her. Also applies to Elena, who appears in several flashbacks; her full face is never revealed and we never see her eyes.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - The face of Dio Brando in the third series is never seen until a splash page reveal near the end and his Stand powers are also not shown until shortly thereafter. Although his face wasn't obscured in the slightest in the first volume, the art change since then leaves his true features a mystery, as his face is shown in shadow (often, the rest of his body will be perfectly visible). This is primarily because he has taken the body of the protagonist from Series 1, Jonathan Joestar. In the arcade and PSX fighting game, this trope is literally embodied in the character of Shadow Dio, whose face is blacked out and whose Stand is shown briefly as a colorless apparition from the waist up. His attacks do not reveal his Stand powers, and hardly use his stand at all, focusing on his vampiric powers instead. However, he can stop time just as the normal Dio can, has Dio's knife-throw as a standard move, and even has a special move where he stuns the opponent with his Stand, stops time, and surrounds them with knives as time starts again

In the same part, Midler, wielder of the High Priestess Stand, is never seen clearly. When she appeared in the aforementioned fighting game, they couldn't do this; therefore the game is the first time her actual face is seen. She appears to resemble a sort of belly dancer.

    • Given what Jotaro did to her stand a few minutes ago, there was definitely an excellent reason to not show her face.
  • Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl pulls the anime variant when boy-type Hazumu appears in flashbacks.
  • Sabrac's head in Shakugan no Shana II consists solely of blue hair, wrapped bandages, and Glowing Eyes of Doom. Given that the villain before him was some sort of centipede energy cannon, he most likely doesn't have anything else. His body is actually under the city, apparently. They think they killed him but...
  • Mitsune "Kitsune" Konno from Love Hina is a prime example of the Hidden Eyes variant.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, Nodoka looks like she's one of these, but we get a full view of her face in the second chapter. She's cute.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena uses this trope extensively, in many different ways. Primarily there's the Shadow Girls, who are always putting on a shadow play and thus are only ever seen in shadow. All parents have their faces hidden as well, and everyone has their face hidden in flashbacks, even characters whose faces we normally see. Oddly, nothing obstructs the viewer from seeing their faces—their faces are simply not shown, appearing instead as a blank space.
  • Mai-Otome 0~S.ifr~: Sifr's late mother.
  • Tales of Symphonia OVA: Anna, Lloyd's mother
  • Pokémon - Giovanni, the leader of Team Rocket, for a good part of the first season.
  • Many villains in One Piece. At one point, an entire team of villains wear masks, although it is explained that masks are just popular in that town.
  • In Trigun, the face of the Big Bad, Knives, stays hidden for most of the anime and the near-totality of the first manga. This is because the fact that he is Vash's twin brother is an important Reveal that comes fairly late in both the anime and the early parts of the manga. At the end of the first manga, his face is still hidden behind huge clunks of wavy hair and at the beginning of Trigun Maximum, he wears a mask for a few volumes before his face is finally drawn in detail around volume 4.
  • In Inuyasha, Onigumo, the human core of Naraku, is never shown, and his face is Unrevealed often. When Kikyo was taking care of him, his face (and much of the rest of him) was covered in bandages. When we first met Naraku, he always wore his baboon pelt outfit, with face never seen within the hood. He took on a disguise early on (some young feudal lord), and it's the disguise's face that we start seeing under the hood on occasion. When Naraku separated the Onigumo-ness from him by turning it into another, humanoid demon, the demon had a featureless face, and took a face (and a name) from a monk who tried to vanquish him. In flashbacks with Onigumo's cohort Rasetsu, Onigumo's face is always kept in shadow.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion thrives on this device. Yui's facial features are a mystery for most of the series to hide Rei's striking resemblance to her and to emphasize Yui's value as an archetype. The face of Asuka's mother, Kyoko, is only shown once, in The Movie (and even in this case, it's not very clear), and her father's and adopted mother's are never shown. Kouzou Fuyutsuki's students in episode 21 are also The Faceless, strangely enough. As for Shinji's caregivers in the manga, they are The Eyeless! This device seems to be partly meant to accentuate the theme of alienation in post-industrial Japan... oh forget it.

For fairly obvious reasons, the face of the pilot of Eva-03 is hidden until the end of episode 18 too, though the character's identity is strongly implied throughout episodes 17 and 18. Also note that both in the manga and in the official spin-off (!) Neon Genesis Evangelion: Shinji's Complementarity Project, the kids and adults who bully Shinji and Rei, respectively are also The Faceless, which adds to the creepiness factor and might also emphasize the mindlessness of bullying and/or the interchangeability of mindless bullies.

And in the yet-another-official-spin-off Neon Genesis Evangelion: Gakuen Datenroku (Neon Genesis Evangelion Academy), Gendou's face is hidden till the very last page of the first chapter in which he appears. Probably because he's supposed to be missing, but we know what he looks like and it's not like we didn't expect it (Shocking news! Gendou Ikari is the head of the Nerv! And he might be scheming something involving teenagers and super-weapons!!). Also, so far Shigeru Aoba, Makoto Hyuga and Maya Ibuki (the operators of the main series) are only seen from behind if at all. Many of the Angels are completely hidden in darkness when they appear.

  • In Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, the real Syaoran's parents' faces' are always hidden or shadowed when seen, his mother getting more shaded out than his father, for spoileriffic reasons.
  • Naruto
    • Kakashi wears a ninja mask over the lower half of his face all the time except when he eats - we never see his full face, fan edits aside. Shino Aburame averts this trope, though, because while his face is usually concealed from the nose down by his collar, it is revealed from certain angles during fights. He always wears his dark glasses, though.
    • One episode has Team 7 trying to see his Kakashi's face without the mask. At the end of the episode he shows them, but cops out with another mask underneath.
    • One manga chapter cover shows him in bed maskless but has him covering his face with his cover and hand.
    • Likewise, the cover for chapter 245 has him without his mask, with part of his nose and face showing, but his mouth is covered by his hand.
    • Similarly, Madara Uchiha has never taken his mask off. He tried to show his face to Sasuke once, but was interrupted after only showing a small part around his right eye then put it back on. He was shown unmasked when he was younger, but given his age, battles, and many other potential changes his appearance has likely changed dramatically. When an interrogator invaded Kisame's mind and almost got a look at Madara's face, Kisame bit his own tongue to break the genjutsu and broke free of a stockade.
    • Pain, the leader of Akatsuki, was this for a long time, appearing only as a silhouette. He eventually does show himself. The concealment was probably meant to hide that his appearance changes because he has multiple bodies.
  • CLAMP School Detectives has the weirdest example yet: the school Chairwoman. Not only are her eyes either shaded out or off the screen, but she often hides them purposefully with either a fan or a set of blinds for no apparent reason other than that the camera could have gotten a good shot of her face.
  • Manga example: The Demon Ororon has God, with a massive set of emo bangs that hide his eyes entirely.
  • Two examples from Dr. Slump: one is a police officer never seen without his Stormtrooper helmet, the other one is a guy appearing in the last storyline of the manga, a biker who can't get off his bike due to some illness. He never ever removes his helmet, and not even his name is ever given.
  • Zolf in Slayers goes from some sort of inhuman mummy man to a guy that could best be described as looking like Link's uncle from The Legend of Zelda a Link To T He Past. Suddenly he's a lot more human and respectable of a character.
  • Kekkaishi - Yoshimori's mother, Sumiko, is one of these. The most we ever see of her face is her enigmatic smile. By this point, she--or rather, her Shikigami--has appeared.
  • The Queen of the Witches from Ojamajo Doremi always wears an opaque silk veil to hide the fact that she's acutally Yuki-sensei. At least, until episode 50 of Dokkan.
  • Beyblade - Although seemingly a harmless computer geek, Kenny obviously had something to hide. Not only were his eyes always covered by his hair (they were shown once, in a Face Fault), in the original version he was also known almost exclusively by a nickname. Suspicious.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex has the Laughing Man, who is such a competent hacker that he censors out his own face with a logo not only from any simple cameras that see him, but from the computerized brains of anyone who looks at him, in real time. Of course, he is revealed to viewers around halfway through, and he also shows himself to Section 9 after the main conflict is resolved.
  • A vast quantity of Doujin mangas involve female characters being sexually involved with male characters whose faces are either obscured, drawn with scant detail, or in extreme instances with no face at all. The reasoning is most likely because the artist believes that the reader would prefer to fantasize about themselves being the guy doing the filthy things to said female character, rather than watching one of the official characters or some some stock thug/nerd/old man/etc do it. For the same reason, many H-games have the same black faced or eyeless wonder.
  • Makoto Numata in Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service wears shades all the time. So far, his eyes have been visible only once, through his shades, for the sake of a reaction panel.
  • Morganna Mode Gone of the .hack series takes this even further: she has no physical body. That's because she is The World; she is the game and everything in it, given an intelligence. The only "appearance" she has is either a disembodied voice or the Phases, programs created to do her bidding.
  • Abe no Seimei in Harukanaru Toki no Naka de. (Yes, that Abe no Seimei. Supposedly.) Interestingly, Akuram, who explicitly wears a mask, does not remain The Faceless for a long time...
  • Hayate's parents in Hayate the Combat Butler have kanjis for their faces. His brother's face is darkened/obscured in his appearance up until chapter 263.
  • In Fist of the North Star, the Last General of the South Star is always shown wearing a helmet until it is is revealed that the Last General is none other than Yuria, Kenshiro's thought-to-be-dead fiancee. An antagonist named Kaioh is later introduced whose face is initially concealed by a helmet when he first appears. This is done to hide the fact that he is Raoh's blood-related elder brother (which was already obvious, considering how similar he is to Raoh in every other aspect and the fact that they pull the same plot twist with Kenshiro and Hyoh).
  • Tokita Mako in Mx0. Her facelessness is part of the joke that her chest is so big that anyone can recognize her with her chest alone. Her face is revealed in the final chapter.
  • In Monster, this was Johan's first appearance as an adult. His face is not shown until he shoots Junkers, having first been obscured by shadows and then through the back view. At the end of the exchange, both Dr. Tenma and the audience get to see his face. When he's shown to be a Bishonen young man smiling pleasantly, it's even creepier.
  • Sailor Moon has Professor Tomoe, Sailor Saturn's crazy father. For a long time, all you see is a black shape for his face, a strange red smile and bright shiny glasses.
  • Kodocha has Rei, protaganist Sana's "pimp" (actually her talent agent; Sana likes to exaggerate) who is constantly wearing sunglasses, even in the shower or in bed. Sana begins to wonder what he looks like without them, but he refuses to remove them. Toward the end of the first season, he finally takes them off. He then turns his perfectly normal face to the viewer and says, "sorry I'm not deformed or anything."
  • Eyeshield 21 uses this trope to build up tension for the final game of the series, a showdown between the US and Japanese football teams. The American team's most feared player, Mr. Don, is shown only from behind for several chapters, and even a group shot of himself with his teammates has him facing away from the camera. This serves two purposes: it makes it more dramatic when he finally takes the field in the final game and we see his face, and it hides the fact that his father is the president of the United States.
    • Likewise with Hiruma's father, who the audience never sees his face. It's either shadowed or he is shown from an angle that blocks his face.
  • In MAR the Chess wears masks for the most part generally taking them off for good once they're revealed. Ash takes his off to at the end of his battle, to show his face in the same expression as his mask, but replaces it. And he's the one who loves kids. Halloween's mask is his face. He's actually a childhood friend of Allen.
  • In Angel Sanctuary, though only in the manga since the anime didn't get that far, the head of the Council of Angels Sevothtarte hides his face behind a mask. It's said to hide innumerous scars he received from the previous war, but it serves another purpose. To hide the fact that "he" is a woman, and her mark as a Fallen Angel.
  • In the Manhwa Witch Hunter, we have North and Edea Florence. In the latter case, it only lasts until Chapter 31.
  • The Teacher from The Sky Crawlers remains unseen throughout the entire feature; you only see his plane in action.
  • In the Higurashi no Naku Koro ni anime, you never see the parent's faces, for some reason, just a voice and maybe (if you're lucky), part of their body. However, they're shown fully in the manga.
  • Heart no Kuni no Alice: Only Role Holders get faces.
  • The rank-and-file Hollows of Bleach can be considered this. From the moment they are created, a bone mask covers their face. This allows for them to largely be dehumanized by both the Shinigami and the author despite their often tragic origins. A major reason that Shinigami are taught to attack them from behind is so that they won't see their human faces revealed in their death throes.
    • The Arrancar, having removed their masks, are given a considerable amount of characterization and their deaths are not as easily brushed aside as those of common Hollows.
  • The Conductor of Galaxy Express 999 looks rather like a Final Fantasy Black Mage in a peaked cap. On one occasion, the cap fell off and he had no head; later, an assassin who went after him in the shower was deeply traumatized by his true form.
  • Urhi Shalma's face is hidden by a cloak for several chapters, until it's revealed later on. Even later, his face gets hidden again via a cloak when he's presumed dead but is revealed once again.
  • The Brunette from Ben-To to the point of being a running gag where even the official character website's photo of her doesn't reveal her face.
  • Glen Baskerville from Pandora Hearts. So much, in fact, that in Lotti's memories, shadows obscure not only his face, but the top of his red coat as well.
  • THE iDOLM@STER - Kuroi and Takagi's faces are never shown.
  • From Kuroko no Basuke, we have the former captain of the Generation of Miracles, Akashi. He's always shown from the back or the neck down. Even when he's face-to-face with the main characters, he has a Face Framed in Shadow. His face is finally revealed at the end of chapter 113.
  • Most recurring females in Daily Lives of High School Boys have their eyes covered by their hair, save for Nago-san, Ringo-chan, Literature Girl, and the three girls in High School Girls are Funky.
    • This has been parodied on the skit High School Boys and Older Brothers and Sisters, where Yoshitake didn't even know how his older sister look at all.
  • Yattodetaman, one of Tatsunoko's Time Bokan series, has as recurring characters a newscaster and his cameraman who commented upon the mecha battles between good and bad guys. The cameraman never spoke and was so tall that his face was always out of the picture frame. Sometimes he was so tall that could be seen only from the waist down!
  • In Medaka Box, Hanten Shiranui's almost always faces away from the camera. The few times he's facing front have his head obscured by something (usually a speech balloon).


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Doctor Doom, enemy of the Fantastic Four, another deformed-beneath-the-mask type. Doom may be one of the longest-running examples of this trope; Marvel has enforced an ironclad "Doom's face is never shown!" rule for over forty years. Characters who do see his face are almost invariably filled with a mix of extreme disgust and abject terror.
    • Doom's face before the accident that deformed him is sometimes shown in Flashbacks.
  • The Marvel Universe versions of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee who produced a comic within a comic of the Fantastic Four always had their face hidden when they appeared.
  • Mary Jane Watson from the Spider-Man comics has her face obscured in her first few appearances before becoming the main love interest. This was done because the original artist, Steve Ditko, couldn't draw beautiful women well enough to do her justice. Once he was replaced by John Romita, who was very skilled at glamour art, Mary Jane's face was finally revealed.
    • This also had the effect that, since we never saw her face, and Peter was continually avoiding being set up with her on the assumption she wasn't attractive, the readers had the same surprise as him when he answered the door to her in a Splash Panel.
  • The Green Goblin in his first appearances was always either wearing his mask or had his face obscured by some random object.
  • 2000 AD
    • Judge Dredd never shows his face. He almost never removes his helmet. On the exceedingly rare occasions he does it's an Unreveal. One famous story revealed near the end that its protagonist, a mysterious drifter Walking The (Cursed) Earth, was Dredd during a Ten-Minute Retirement, but he was so badly scarred it didn't count as The Reveal.
    • Judge Death has never taken his helmet off.
    • Judge Fear: we never see his true face, just his helmet, which covers all his face and which he can open, which is apparently so frightening it can scare people to death—gaze into the face of fear! Does not always work: Dredd: gaze into the fist of Dredd!
  • V in V for Vendetta chooses to remain behind his mask for the entire duration of the narrative, save for his revealing himself to Dr. Delia Surridge as she lays dying. She comments that his hideously burn-scarred face is "so beautiful..." This trope exists partly because V is more embodied as an Idea than as Individual.

In the film adaptation (so goes the story), various prettyboy types were considered for the role of V, but they all wanted to do at least one scene unmasked. Hugo Weaving was therefore enlisted instead and his mask is never removed. The "mystery factor" is diminished since Weaving looks pretty much the same in every movie, but what was lost there is regained in spades in the voice and physical acting. He does get a cameo in that he's one of the prominent faces (along with the others are characters who have died in the course of the film) in the crowd removing their masks at the end. It's rather poignant.

  • Preacher (Comic Book) - John Wayne acted as a spirit guide to Jesse Custer. His face was always in shadow, even in the middle of Monument Valley with no shade. A similar thing occurs with the mysterious fat guy that Jesse gives a lift to in issue #53.
  • An X-Files comic about the Fatima Prophecies had a scene with the Pope and a military commander discussing the third (unopened) prophecy. They were no backgrounds or faces, just the two symbolic outfits of "military" and "church".
  • Taskmaster from Marvel Comics does better than most costumed types at concealing his true name and face; he never takes off his mask in-panel, whether others are around or not. When he is defeated and his mask is stolen in his own miniseries, we see him only in silhouette, and then from behind, before he retrieves his mask and makes sure the ones who took it aren't going to be telling anyone.
    • One of the Udon comics actually did show him without the mask on... in a flashback to when he was twelve or so.
    • Goes so far that when he's working with Deadpool and wearing a copy of his costume, he can be seen wearing his traditional skull mask underneath his Deadpool mask.
    • It was shown once when Moon Knight defeated him and threatened to cut off his face literally but instead decided to just cut his mask off.
  • Subverted in Radioactive Man by one of the members of "The Hellfire Club", sitting in shadow an profile, one of whom is clearly Richard Nixon:

"Gee, it sure is dark in here. You'd think with all our power and money we could afford a few lightbulbs."

  • In The DCU, JSA villain Johnny Sorrow no longer has a face, and to look into the space behind his mask where his face should be is instant death.
  • This is one of the trademarks of The Phantom (Ghost Who Walks, Man Who Cannot Die, etc.). When in costume he has his mask, and when travelling incognito as "Mr. Walker" he wears a hat and sunglasses all the time, claiming that he has a disfiguring skin condition when asked to remove them. If he isn't wearing the mask or the hat and glasses for some reason, he's either drawn from the back or in shadow to obscure his face.
  • Flaming Carrot - Carrot's identity is kept a mystery to the reader, and the only time we see him without his mask is when his face is covered in bandages. According to some theories, he's actually Jim Morrison.
  • In Zot, the electronic assassin 9-Jack-9 has no face. (Creating difficulty for creator Scott McCloud when he held a contest for which character the readers most wanted to see hit in the face with a pie, and 9-Jack-9 won.)
  • Variation: Usagi Yojimbo's Big Bad, Lord Hijiki, is one of these—but only after his face is completely shown in his first appearance.
  • Arch-villain The Octopus in The Spirit is only ever seen as a hand or pair of hands wearing distinctive gloves.
  • Monsieur Choc, the arch-villain in Tif et Tondu is never seen without a knight's helmet that completely disguises his features. In the two page comic L'Image de Choc one character eventually get hold of a picture of Choc without his helmet. However, the picture turns out to be useless Since it depicts Choc when he was an infant.
  • The Phantom Stranger from The DCU manages to keep the top of his face permanently obscured in shadow (thanks to carefully angling his hat) to the point that it seems like he wears a Domino Mask.
  • 'Hawg' Waller from Knights of the Dinner Table is only ever shown from behind while standing behind his bar.
  • Both incarnations of Marvel Comics' Baron Zemo have had their masks literally fused to their face. The younger Baron eventually finds a way to remove his, but his face is horribly scarred underneath.
  • In the Batman storyline No Man's Land, the person who takes the identity of Batgirl is never shown without her mask until Batman fires her, at which point she's revealed to be Huntress.
  • The Legion of Super Heroes villain Mano wore a transparent bubble helmet filled with the poisonous gases he needed to breathe so all the reader ever saw was a shadowy silhouette of his head.
    • Another example from the Legion: the Time Trapper. His face is always in shadow from the hood of his tattered purple robe. In the recent Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds miniseries, he was revealed to be A future version of Superboy Prime.
      • Mind you the Time Trapper has had his/her/its identity revealed four or five times making the TT effectively faceless no matter what. In LO3W, Brainiac 5 speculates that the Trapper is a living alternate future, whose history is constantly been rewritten (he/she's previously been a Controller, his/her own sidekick Glorith, a future version of Cosmic Boy, the Anthropomorphic Personification of Entropy, and a future version of Lori Morning [who may have been the Post-Crisis Glorith]).
    • Ferro Lad is basically a heroic Dr Doom with transformation powers.
  • The Punisher - Subverted and averted with Finn Cooley. An Irish bomb-maker, his face was blown off, so he was Nightmare Fuel-ishly grotesque and disfigured, and his face was shown frequently during the "Kitchen Irish" storyline.
  • In American Born Chinese, Jin and Danny's parents always have their faces partially or completely hidden. Subverted when Danny's parents are finally shown, revealing that Danny's parents are Jin's parents (since Danny and Jin are the same person).
  • In Superman comics, Tiny Bubbles, a superstrong Intergang enforcer had her face constantly obscured (from the reader, but not from other characters). When a reader wrote to the editor to ask about this, they said it just seemed like a fun idea.
  • From Dork Tower: Leslie, Bill's (sole) employee at Pegasaurus Games, is always shown with her face half-hidden behind the store counter.
  • Chick Tracts often portray God as an enormous throned figure whose face is silhouetted by light, making him look eerily like The Blank.
  • In Mickey Mouse Outwits The Phantom Blot by Floyd Gottfredson, Mickey Mouse meets the Phantom Blot for the first time and, well, outwits him, so he is unmasked at the end, showing him to have a striking resemblance to Walt Disney. However, later appearances in American Disney comics (often drawn by Paul Murry) never showed The Blot's face. He would sometimes wear masks that looked exactly like a human face on top of his black hood... but we are even told on-panel in one comic that no one has ever seen his face (which is weird, since he regularily ends in jail - shouldn't they remove his hood then?). In European Disney comics, however, the unmasking was canon, and he regularily appeared without his hood - after all, it made him less conspicious to the public.
  • In Le Scorpion, Captain Rochnan's face is not revealed until The Treasure of the Templars; his face being concealed by his armoured helmet before this. And he falls to death not long after the reveal.
  • The Surgeon General from Give Me Liberty, whose face is always obscured by a surgical mask, cap, and tinted goggles.
  • Lampshaded in the Cracked Magazine (was it #198 or #208?) parody of The Fall Guy. Colt asks Big Jack why she is suddenly wearing elaborate hats that conceal her face. Big Jack replies that the artist couldn't get her face right so decided to hide it behind the hat.


Fan Works[edit | hide]

  • The Fans in With Strings Attached. Actually aliens who describe themselves as “kinda lizardy, kinda birdy,” they use default faceless humanoid computer avatars when dealing with the four, and they're never even shown to the reader. Hints of their true appearance come out in their dialogue, e.g., “Ow! My tail!”
    • Except Jeft, whose brief description by the other two suggests he is a fat Grey with poor hygiene.
    • Also the god Ardav, who is a bland sexless humanoid who cannot be remembered except as a faceless mannikin.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Master and Commander: The French captain's face is never seen by the audience throughout the movie, until the end, when his body is seen lying in the sickbay. And then it's not even his real face yet, because the real captain swapped clothes with a dead marine, and dressed up instead as the ship's doctor, who pretended to be treating the 'captain's body' in the sickbay when Aubrey turned up (sort of a Chekhov's Gunman). The real ship's doctor turned out to have died months earlier. Of course, Aubrey and Maturin only find out once the other ship is out of reach again... which means, Beat to Quarters.
  • Star Wars
    • Darth Vader in the original trilogy, although his face is finally revealed at the end of Return of the Jedi.
    • The Sand People of Tattooine cover their faces with goggles and wrappings to protect themselves from blowing sand. According to the Expanded Universe, they tend to get very offended if anyone tries to get a peek at what's underneath.
    • The Jawas appear to be this as well. Very few of them in any material have ever removed their hoods—all anyone sees of their faces are two glowing red eyes
    • The Imperial Stormtroopers. We never see any with their helmets off, keeping them as faceless goons.
    • Boba Fett. The prequel trilogy revealed him to be Maori in appearance. In the Expanded Universe, the Mandalorian helmet is treated as being his "real" face, because it's what his identity is tied to. He occasionally takes advantage of this, because nobody will connect his human face to the legendary bounty hunter.
    • Darth Sidious, until Revenge of the Sith and later.
  • The Nazgul from Lord of the Rings. Their faces aren't hidden; rather they Nazgul are completely invisible to the normal world, and Frodo can see them when he puts on the Ring at Weathertop (clearly in the book, distorted in the movie). If the Nazgul take off their robes, living people see nothing; this is revealed in the end, where (in the book, and partially in the film) the head Nazgul takes off his hood, showing a crown sitting atop an invisible head.
  • Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the Big Bad of From Russia with Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and Diamonds Are Forever. His face is finally revealed in You Only Live Twice (the first movie where he's the main villain instead of just telling Rosa Klebb and Largo what to do) when he meets James Bond, and is shown for the rest of his appearances, except for his death in the beginning of For Your Eyes Only. By then, the studio lost rights to SPECTRE and the bald guy with the white cat "technically" could have been anyone.
  • Octopussy's face is obscured when Kamal Kahn goes to see her early in the movie; only her hands are shown as she feeds her pet octopus while talking to Kahn. This, plus the way he takes orders from her and the fact that the movie is named after her made it seem like she would be the Big Bad and not him.
  • Flash Gordon (1980) - Klytus, Head of Ming the Merciless' Secret Police. His mask effectively obscures his features, though we're afforded a good view of his eyeballs and tongue when he gets tossed onto some spikes.
  • In The Dark Knight, Commissioner Gordon's daughter is at first completely unseen, and later we only see the back of her head (she looks to be about eight or nine). She is even only listed as "Gordon's Daughter" in the credits. Probably done to not get our hopes up about a possible future Batgirl appearance (or maybe just to not cause the confusion of the two Gordon kids both being Jrs. to their parents).
  • In the movie Ring (but not its American adaptaion), future Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl Sadako is always shown with her long hair covering her face, even in flashbacks to when she was still alive. Her grisly, rotted features are revealed in Ring 2, however, and her "good" half in Ring 0 always has her face on display. Although even in The Ring, the ghostly form of Samara remains with her face hidden behind her hair in almost all of her appearances. The Reveal of her face near the end of the movie easily qualifies as Nightmare Fuel, if only for the expression on it.
  • In Ben-Hur, the face of Jesus Christ is never seen, nor is his voice heard. Presumably that this is done out of reverence.
  • Bill in Kill Bill Volume 1, but in Volume 2 you see his face just about first thing.
  • The driver of the semi in Steven Spielberg's Duel. Because the truck is the important character.
  • King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem in Kingdom of Heaven, who suffered from leprosy, wears a mask in every appearance until his sister Sybilla removes it after his death.
  • The DJ who acts as Greek Chorus in The Warriors (although we do see her lips up by the microphone).
  • Mara Chekhova, the operatic diva in Dario Argento's Opera.
  • In Raise the Red Lantern The Master's face is seen clearly only at a distance, and even that only a couple of times.
  • In Ernest Saves Christmas, Ernest has got a friend whose face we never see. All we see is his first person perspective, as Ernest clumsily bumbles about his house. This is a Shout-Out to Ernest's numerous commercials. Most of them had him talking about Product X to someone named "Vern", while "Vern" was doing something off-screen, like changing a lightbulb while Ernest held the ladder. Apparently, "Vern" is supposed to be a stand-in for the audience.
  • The Thing - John Carpenter invented another variant where the titular creature is seen frequently, but in forms which are obviously an ever-changing mishmash of other alien life forms, dogs, and/or men. Its natural shape is never revealed, even in death.
  • The 1976 film The Message depicts early Islamic history. Mohammad never appears on-camera; his presence is indicated by the camera taking his POV, and an organ music Leitmotif replaces his dialogue. It's longstanding Islamic tradition that Mohammad should never be seen in any form, under the premise that such depictions would run the risk of being used as idols, leading to worship of Mohammad rather than of Allah.
  • Treasure Planet - We viewers never get a good look at poor Jim's Disappeared Dad; some people on the Internet have taken advantage of this for video crossovers and/or fanart.
  • Irene Adler's enigmatic employer in the 2009 Sherlock Holmes movie ( A.K.A. Professor Moriarty) is presented like this in his appearances. We finally get to see his face in the second film.
  • In Citizen Kane, Thompson, the reporter whose investigation into "Rosebud" is the backbone of the plot, is only shown from behind or with his face in shadow. In fact, all of the reporters and news-media personnel in the film (those not employed by Kane himself) are The Faceless, reinforcing that what they do is more relevant to the story than who they are.
  • In Radio Flyer Mikey and Bobby's abusive stepfather "The King"'s face is not fully seen throughout the movie until the end, reportedly this was done because his actor Adam Baldwin didn't want to be associated with child abuse.
  • Rinzler in Tron: Legacy, to hide the fact that he's actually a brainwashed Tron.
  • Dick Tracy The Blank, until revealed to be Breathless Mahoney.
  • The gangsters' leader from The Return of Hanuman.
  • John, the mysterious alien Guide in Enki Bilal's Immortel ad Vitam has his head completely wrapped in black cloth at all times, presumably to protect himself from Earth's hostile atmosphere. When he finally succumbs to our air, he evaporates into nothingness, leaving only empty clothes behind.
  • An in-universe example actually happens to Mike Wazowski in the film Monsters, Inc., who for some reason, always has his entire face covered up in every single media he's appeared in, such as a commercial, a magazine, and even the DVD! (the hole in the middle of the DVD was actually placed in a way so that it too covered Mike's face). A more straight example would be a Godzilla stand-in named Ted, who for some reason is seen only from the legs down and clucks like a chicken (he was originally going to sound exactly like Godzilla himself, but the idea was refused due to copyright reasons). A blooper at the end of the film actually revealed that his upper body actually belonged to |Rex, here portrayed as a normal-sized Tyrannosaurus Rex instead of a plastic toy.
  • In Let Me In, the English-language remake of Let the Right One In, a clever stylistic choice signifies how it is a film principally about children (more or less), where the adult characters are mostly peripheral and often fleeting. Owen's island-like status is emphasised by his absent father only making one scene, by telephone, and his mother – a fairly constant presence in the book – appears numerous times yet is never once seen properly on camera: she varies from being a distant figure, a ghostly reflection or obscured by a door, to fully visible yet thrown way out of focus or seen only from the neck down; even a passport-type photo glimpsed in her wallet is crumpled to the point of indistinguishability.
  • Averted in Judge Dredd. Although Dredd keeps his helmet on whenever he's on duty, he has it off most of the movie, unlike the original Comic Book.
  • In REC, the face of Pablo is never shown, given that he's the one behind the camera most of the time - and even when he isn't (after he dies), his face is never shown.
  • ET the Extraterrestrial: With the exception of Elliot's mother, the audience doesn't see the faces of any adults until the final third of the movie, playing up the perspective from a child's POV.
  • In Julia's Eyes, during the middle of the film, in which Julia has her eyes bandaged, everyone she interacts with has their face obscured to the viewer; either we see them from behind or their head is cut off by the camera.
  • Gene Hackman's employer in The Conversation is only ever seen in shadows. Made all the more tantalizing because he's played by a very famous actor, who was unbilled in the film's original release, leading many viewers to say 'hey, is it really that guy?'


Literature[edit | hide]

  • A Series of Unfortunate Events - Lemony Snicket, the elusive author, is often photographed but never from the unobscured front.
    • Sir, from The Miserable Mill, always has his face obscured by a massive cloud of cigar smoke.
  • In the original version and first adaptation of The Lorax, the Once-ler's face is never seen in either the "present" or "past" timeline. The second adaptation takes a different approach—see the Western Animation folder.
  • Discworld - Skazz, a student from the Unseen University has long hair that covers all of his face but his nose's tip.
  • Orual of CS Lewis's Till We Have Faces begins wearing a veil shortly before she becomes queen. As a result, her face becomes the subject of much rumor among the populace, and Orual herself was regarded as "something mysterious and awful". The truth of the matter is, she was ugly.
  • 'She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed' from H. Rider Haggard's She is usually draped from head to foot in gauzy, mummy-like wrappings because, according to her, her beauty drives men mad. Given that she is all powerful men who do glimpse her are wise to meet her expectation.
  • Erik, the titular Phantom of The Phantom of the Opera, originally wore a full-face mask and was very much a Faceless - until subsequent remakes cut said mask and the underlying deformity down by a lot. A made-for-tv miniseries of this from the 90s goes a step further with this and never shows the Phantom's face to the audience, even when unmasked—thus rather neatly avoiding a possible Special Effects Failure.
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story The Minister's Black Veil tells of a Puritan minister who one day inexplicably dons a black veil to cover his entire face. The simple addition of the veil changes him from a beloved and respected figure to an item of fear and horror, and he wears it for the rest of his life.
  • The face of Haliax, the Big Bad from The Name of the Wind (as well as most of the rest of him) is shrouded by both a black cloak and shadows. Considering the face of one of his subordinates that we do see, this is probably a good thing.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Red Fury, the Angels Sanguine wear their face-concealing helmets even among their fellow Space Marines, also sons of Sanguinius; they only take them off when among themselves, and even there, they wear face shadowing hoods.
  • The Reaper from Elfstones of Shannara. (And for that matter, for much of his appearances, the Dagda Mor, too.)
  • The illustrated Roger Zelazny novel A Night in the Lonesome October does this with Jack the Ripper. Other characters are shown full-faced in the drawings accompanying each chapter, but Jack appears once in a rear view and once with his arm raised, concealing his lower face.
  • Joelle Van Dyne a.k.a. "Madame Psychosis", from David Foster Wallace's magnum opus, Infinite Jest, is never physically described, and wears a veil over her face at all times. She claims this is because any man who gazes on her unearthly features instantly falls in love with her, but (slightly suspect) anecdotal evidence suggests that while this may once have been true, the face beneath the veil was horribly disfigured. In either case, her unmasked features play a key role in the titular film.
  • Squickily literal example from the Dragonlance Taladas Trilogy- Big Bad Maladar peeled his face off as part of an unknown dark ritual, leaving a skull-like ruin behind. Even he's rather ashamed of this, so he usually wears a deep hood with magical shadow inside it to conceal his deformity, revealing it only when he wants to strike terror. This habit actually earned him the nickname "the Faceless Emperor" in-universe.
  • In Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser stories, both mentor-warlocks are The Faceless. With names like "Sheelba of the Eyeless Face" and "Ningauble of the Seven Eyes", it's fairly simple to guess why they keep their faces hidden.
  • In Moon Over Soho the Big Bad uses magic to make his face look blank, and if you pierce the magic spell he has a full face mask, to conceal his identity.
  • In the original picture book of Mars Needs Moms, Mom's face isn't shown until the end when she gives her space helmet to her son so he won't suffocate, almost dying in the process.
  • Many, though not all, of the Ten Who Were Taken from the Black Company novels are fond of hiding their faces- one of them takes this to the point that he's actually known as the Faceless Man (all the Taken, like most wizards in this setting, go by descriptive titles, since their true names could hold power over them). Most prominent, however, is Soulcatcher, who keeps her face concealed behind her helmet for the entire first novel- in fact, between the face-hiding and the fact that she usually wears masculine clothing, it's not until the end of the book that the protagonists are even sure she's female.
  • Personnel of the Concord Police Special Services Branch (SSB) in M.K. Wren's The Phoenix Legacy trilogy wore an electronic mask called a "face-screen" at all times on-duty. It hid the face in what seemed to be shadows even when bright light was shining on it; because of this, members of the "Outside" often referred to SSB men as "Shads."


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • George Steinbrenner on Seinfeld. Also the boss of Tyler Chicken, who sounds exactly like George Steinbrenner. Both were voiced by Larry David.
  • Wilson on Home Improvement had the lower half of his face obscured by the fence in his yard; this later turned into a Running Gag where his face was half-obscured by other objects in scenes that didn't take place in the yard, and at least one instance where the top half of his face obscured but not the bottom half. In at least one press conference in real life, Wilson's actor, the late Earl Hindman, wore a miniature white picket fence over the lower half of his face. Another clip showing the curtain call at the end of the taping of one show also showed him holding a miniature white picket fence over his face. One Halloween episode had him dressed up as The Phantom of the Opera, with the mask covering the upper half of his face. Wilson made a couple appearances with face-paint on as opposed to a foreign object between him and the camera. Another episode had him completely on-camera in Renaissance Faire costume, wearing a fake beard. His face is finally revealed in the 'behind the scenes' episode.
    • Al's mother also never shows her face.
  • Norm's wife Vera on Cheers. Usually The Ghost, she appeared in a couple of episodes as a sillouette, and in one episode is fully visable in the door of the bar ... just after being hit in the face with a custard pie.
  • Captain Boday on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, though that was presumably due to his allegedly squick-inducing transparent skull.
  • Sam on Richard Diamond Private Detective. She was played by Mary Tyler Moore, but only seen from the legs down.
  • Salem Saberhagen's face is always hidden in flashbacks to when he was human (technically a warlock, since witches and warlocks are a species) on Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
  • Kosh on Babylon 5, whose encounter suit made him a sort of hybrid of The Faceless and The Voice, at least until he left it for the first time.
  • Alan Brady on The Dick Van Dyke Show started out being talked about but never seen (meant to be ironic, since he was the star of the Show Within a Show while the actual show revolved around the unseen writers). However the writers (of the real show) found this too limiting after a while and started using Alan Brady in scenes, only with his face always pointing away from the camera. Eventually this was done away with too, and the audiences got to regularly see Alan Brady and scenes from The Alan Brady Show.
  • Police Squad! - Al, one of the cops in the stationhouse was so tall that everything above his shoulders was always out of shot. Al often had strange things going on up there, including non-regulation headgear and strange haircuts; sometimes they were lowered into shot.
    • Subverted in the episode "Rendevous at Big Gulch"; at one point, the camera remains fixated below the shoulders of the evil mob boss stroking his white fluffy cat as he goes over his plan to deal with the do-gooder protagonist. Right before cutting to commercial, he ducks into frame to deliver his final line.
  • Anubis on Stargate SG 1 is completely covered by a Black Cloak for the majority of his appearances. It turns out that he doesn't have a face, since he has partially Ascended To A Higher Plane Of Existence and is an energy being. He still has a skull, though, and at one point allows it to become visible to freak out his enemies.
    • If Oma's appearance in the cafe matches her real world face, then maybe Anubis' does too (or the face he had with his last host?), plus they find a sort of clone of him that is definitely not this trope (pretty boy good looks)
  • In Doctor Who, when Omega was unmasked, he turned out to have no face at all. Nor indeed a head, or any other body part, having been eroded down to just his self will.
    • Even attempting to see beneath the hood of a Headless Monk is punishable by death. This is because they've cut off their heads and have little more than a bundle of nerves where their face should be.
  • Once he dons his mask in the origin story, The Lone Ranger is never again seen without it or some other form of disguise. (Given he rides around in the hot sun all day with the mask on, he'd need some sort of disguise due to the unusual tan lines.)
  • One episode of Malcolm in the Middle featured Malcolm's girlfriend, who's face was never shown.
  • Top Gear - The Stig, the "tame racing driver" of the British automobile Magazine Show. Always appears wearing a full face racing helmet with a dark visor which obscures his face. Also extended to The Stig's African cousin and American cousin in the African and American specials.
  • Sylar, until halfway through the first season of Heroes; his face is shown for the first time in a flashback. This was mainly because the producers were still auditioning actors for the role until they hired Zachary Quinto.
  • Older Yuuto Sakurai in Kamen Rider Den-O.
  • Phyllis Lindstrom's husband Lars, on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. A clever variation came in a final-season episode where Johnny Carson is supposed to be the Special Guest at one of Mary's dinner parties. Just before he arrives there's a citywide power blackout, so when he shows up we only get to hear his voice.
  • The NSA board of directors in one episode of Seven Days were, rather oddly, covered in shadow.
  • The Grand Master from M.I. High is always shown with his face in shadow or out of shot in a homage/parody of how Blofeld was depicted in the early James Bond films. Lampshaded in the episode where he is captured and Lenny comments that, despite the Grand Master being in a cell, he never managed to get a good look at his face (and he is taken to the prisoner exchange with a bag over his head).
  • Played for laughs in The Mighty Boosh episode Tundra: Howard encounters a man whose face is completely shadowed by a fur-lined hooded jacket, who tells him to "look deep into the parka."
  • Passions: evil patriarch Alistair Crane. Initially only his hands were seen when his character appeared. When he was finally shown, the actor who played him died a short time later. He was replaced and was shown fully for the remainder of the series.
  • Hello, Rhoda, "This is Carlton, your doorman." Played by Lorenzo Music, he wwas only a voice on the intercom.
  • "Charlie" from the 1970's TV series Charlies Angels.
  • Little Ghoul, a comic relief villain on Beetleborgs, was only ever shown from the front as eyes beneath a hood. Characters who saw her face tended to run off screaming.
  • One Hundred Deeds for Eddie Mcdowd has the titular character as The Faceless prior to becoming a dog (and since the show's been canceled, viewers will never know what Eddie Mc Dowd looked like before he became a dog).
  • First Wave: Mabus.
  • Titus used this trope a couple of times in the flashbacks featuring Ken Titus's many ex-wives and girlfriends (including the violent, manic-depressive schizophrenic Juanita, who was only The Faceless on a handful of episodes in which she wasn't prominently featured, but was mentioned by Christopher Titus whenever he talked about the differences between growing up with his Jerkass dad and growing up with his mentally-ill mom).
    • Also, Titus's first girlfriend (the brainy, yet abusive 5'1" Jewish girl who punched him in the face a lot) was The Faceless to the extreme when Titus first talked about her on "Dad Is Dead." The only thing viewers could see of her was her hands in a POV shot of her punching Titus with the caption "Psycho Bitch Cam" underneath. She wouldn't be featured in full until season two's "The Last Noelle."
    • Also from "The Last Noelle," Titus's second girlfriend, Taylor, was only seen from the back as she was cutting Titus's hair in his sleep and crying over her dead dog (the other two "psycho bitches" Titus dated—Dakota, who slept with a busboy at a bar, and Chastity, the Satan worshiper who had telekinetic powers—averted the trope, as their faces were actually shown).
  • Saturday Night Live's "The Continental" sketches have never shown the face of the woman who always visits (and ends up running from) The Continental, only showing the woman's hands (and, on one occasion, her legs and feet). It should be noted that the original version of the show from the 1950s did the same thing (use subjective camera angles to to make female audiences believe they were being romanced through their TV sets), making the sketch accurate for the most part.
  • Oddly enough, the humans in Doctor Who serial The Faceless Ones have merely had their faces stolen by aliens, so in spite of the serial's title, it is not this trope. Instead, they actually count as The Blank.
  • On the show The Millionaire, the mysterious benefactor, John Beresford Tipton, Jr.'s face was never seen. Usually just a hand, although sometimes other body parts, were seen.
  • Cousin Itt from The Addams Family is effectively an example, as all we see of Itt's face is hair.
  • In Cybill, Maryanne's vengeful ex-husband Dr. Dick.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Art Of Noise were intended at the very beginning to be a faceless non-group - in live performances, all the members tended to wear iconically-designed masks, and publicity shots were generally of things like spanners (with the ostensible reason that "A spanner is intrinsically more interesting than the lead singer of Tears for Fears". This was mainly at the insistence of the record company - the masks got dropped swiftly when the band jumped ship.
  • Daft Punk never show their faces. Their surealistic art-house film Electroma dwells on facelessness.
  • Guitarist Buckethead, who always wears a full-face carnival mask in public, and speaks through a hand puppet.
  • The band members of The Residents have never appeared publicly without their masks.
  • The members of Kiss typically perform on stage in elaborate face makeup, and early in the band's history they refused to let themselves be photographed without it. Fans of the band speculated for years about what their idols really looked like.
  • The band Lordi refuses to be photographed or seen without their elaborate monster costumes and makeup, in order to preserve their monstrous image. Even their real names are unknown to the public, with the exception of lead member Mr. Lordi. During the Eurovision contest they kept their costumes on constantly, with one shot showing the monsters peacefully lounging by the pool. A few Finnish tabloids have attempted to show Mr. Lordi without his costume and gotten a lot of criticism for it.
  • George Crumb's avant-garde composition Vox Balænæ is usually given the subtitle "For Three Masked Players".
  • MF DOOM always performs with an iron mask covering most of his face
  • Italian electro house musicians The Bloody Beetroots perform while wearing Venom masks.
  • Pink Floyd attempted to be this for much of their run. They never showed themselves on album art, they refused to speak directly to the audience during performances, and they often used their famously elaborate stage effects to keep the audience from looking at their faces. This has mellowed somewhat in recent years, since they're frequently sought out for interviews now that the band has broken up. For a while, though, the vast majority of fans didn't even know the members' names.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • In Peanuts, there was a series of strips where Charlie Brown goes to summer camp and tries to befriend a kid in the bunk next to him. The kid is always shown with his face turned toward the wall, and never says anything other than, "Shut up and leave me alone!"
  • Downwind Jackson in the Smilin Jack comic strip, whose face was always turned away, usually to gawk at women. Creator Zack Mosley established that Downwind was a handsome ladies' man, but decided to leave his face to the readers' imagination.
    • Mad Magazine did a spoof that revealed his secret - he's actually an ugly little man who is chased by women because he happens to have a $100 bill stuck between his front teeth.
  • Lena the Hyena in Li'l Abner, who was the world's ugliest woman - the area around her face initially had a blank space with the words "Deleted by Editor." Al Capp held a contest for readers to draw Lena's face. Basil Wolverton won.
  • Beetle Bailey—Bettle's eyes have never, ever been seen. Even before he was in the army, he had a hat pulled down low to hide them. They probably just look like dots, though. An early strip confirms your theory. Also, Mort Walker allegedly mentioned Beetle's eyes as being "India ink" -colored. Makes sense.
    • In one Mad Magazine parody someone finally sneaks up to Beetle and rips his hat off. His face is much like you would expect, except that it turns out he was hiding a tattoo on his forehead reading GET OUT OF VIETNAM.
  • The face of Mr. Pembroke, the boss of Roger Fox in FoxTrot, is never seen. Portraits of himself in his office likewise have the face cropped out.
  • Spots from Dick Tracy.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Eloeholth the Faceless is a possible main villain of Warhammer 40,000: Dark Heresy.
  • Harlequin Shadowseers in Warhammer 40,000 wear face-concealing, featureless masks in combat (and outside of it?), ensuring that the last thing the enemy sees will be the reflection of their own face (though the implication is that it goes beyond a reflection, and the enemy literally feels as though they are fighting themselves). On that note, all other Harlequins use masks as well, but theirs have actual theatrical expressions.
  • In Exalted, the god Nara-O is always covered in thick dark bandages that completely obscure his features. As the god of Secrets Known To One Person, it is suspected that if any being besides himself was to know his appearance, he would cease to exist.


Theater[edit | hide]

  • Matt Cameron's play Ruby Moon features an unseen character called 'The Wizard', who always wears a mask and creeps around the cul-de-sac knocking on people's doors.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Knights of the Old Republic
    • Darth Revan, whose face is masked during flashback scenes to hide the fact that the player character is Revan him/herself, having been memory-wiped by the Jedi and put into the service of the Republic.
    • Darth Nihilus in the game Knights of the Old Republic II, whose face is obscured amd who speaks only in an incomprehensible series of tones. In a partial subversion of the trope, Nihilus is unmasked after his death, but his identity is not revealed to the player; depending on how the game is played, he is described either as "Just a man, nothing more", or something aong the lines of "infinite darkness" before his body inexplicably disintegrates. The one who saw his body was his blind apprentice who "saw" things through the Force.
    • Mandalore, in the same game series, is a subversion of the trope; as Canderous Ordo, the character is a member of the party in the first game and makes no effort to conceal his name or face. By the time the player meets him in the second game, however, his entire body is concealed by a suit of armor that he refuses to remove and he does not acknowledge his real name.
      • TO clarify, in lore Mandalore isn't a person so much as an idea. Hence the faceless-ness and refusal to acknowledge his name.
  • Illegal street racing games seem to thrive on this trope. Need For Speed Pro Street even goes so far as to make the player character wear a full-face helmet.
  • Faceless Void and Bane Elemental in Defense of the Ancients.
  • In Guilty Gear, a certain non-playable character is referred to only as That Man, on top of which his face is constantly in shadows for no readily apparent reason.
    • Faust from Guilty Gear X onwards has a rationale. He constantly wears a paper bag over his head to hide a previous identity he'd rather not be remembered for. This identity is strongly implied, but never directly stated, to have been Doctor Baldhead, the homicidally insane playable character from the first game in the series. He removes the paper bag in Guilty Gear XX during May's storyline, but you still don't see who he is due to his face being shaded. The only thing you can really tell is that he's bald—made obvious by the bright light shining off his head. He apparently only does it to freak May out, as she claims to despise (and appears to fear) bald people. Things get hairy. Or rather, they don't.
  • Shermie from The King of Fighters, who combs her bangs down over her face so that her eyes remain hidden. It's said that they have a malevolent glare about them.
  • Super Robot Wars dabbles in this a lot, usually replacing a character's portrait with a ? and ???ing out their name. Sometimes, they make fun of this, such as in MX, when their shadowing technique was to only partially shadow someone's face, so its really obvious who they are. At one point an EVA Monolith is partially shadowed out, but you can still see the words on it that say who is speaking through the monolith. In addition, Mooks virtually always have their face above their nose obscured, either by a helmet or shadows in place of their eyes.
  • In Loom, viewing the face of a member of the perpetually hooded weaver's guild is said to be fatal (note that their eyes are still visible within the darkness of their hood, as in many cartoons). This later seems to be close to being revealed, only to skip for a few scene happening outside the room in medium and easy difficulty mode, and being obscured by a flash of light in hard difficulty mode.
  • In the N64 platformer game, Rocket Robot On Wheels, Dr. Gavin's face is never seen.
  • Meta Knight from the Kirby series. He will challenge Kirby to a swordfight, and when defeated, his mask is cleaved in half. He is briefly revealed to look very similar to Kirby, before wrapped his cape around his face and vanishing.
  • In the Crusader series of games, the Silencer is a Faceless, as is President Gauthier in No Regret, the second of the two games. According to an unverified report this editor has read (i.e. this editor has been unable to duplicate the results), being close enough to a massive explosion that it kills him but not so close that it sets him on fire or otherwise triggers a special death animation can sometimes knock the Silencer's helmet off. Underneath, he is supposedly a pale blonde man.
  • World in Conflict does this with the main character, Parker, which represents the player and isn't defined at all with the exception of his name and rank. He appears in cutscenes, but always has his back to the camera or something blocks out his face. The game also features a name- and faceless president.
  • Final Fantasy series
    • Several Black Mage classes throughout the series have had the same look, from the Final Fantasy I Black Mage up to Vivi in Final Fantasy IX.
    • The original Final Fantasy had the Black Mage show his face when he upgraded to the Black Wizard. More recent remakes have redesigned the Black Wizard to retain the iconic "pointy hat" look.
    • The Garif of Jahara in Final Fantasy XII wear masks to cover their faces.
  • Halo - Master Chief's face, hidden behind a face mask and clever camera work, is a source of debate among fans. This was because, despite having a voice, and "personality" they wanted to keep an active Featureless Protagonist factor going. In the novels, Master Chief does take off his helmet occasionally: he's described as being deathly pale from spending so much time in his armor, and having brown hair and eyes. Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach also have protagonists who never remove their helmets. Reach also has one NPC squad member, Emile, who never removes his helmet (which has a skull etched into the front of it) either.
    • In Halo Wars, all the marines except Sergeant Forge wear balaclavas.
    • In the epilogue of Halo: Reach, the dying Noble Six removes his damaged helmet, but you still don't see his face.
  • Oki from Okami wears a bear mask at all times, in fact every denizen of Wep'keer village wears an animal mask. The imps wear simple white paper masks as well and when Amaterasu dons a similar mask, she's accepted by them to be an imp, despite obviously being a wolf.
  • Shiki from Tsukihime, with the exception of the prologue (when he was a child). Since the game is told from his perspective, this makes sense; he only shows up on-screen during unlocked images, but never with any detail above his mouth. This only holds true in the original Visual Novel (not the sequel games, anime, or manga).
  • Captive: Throughout the first mission the player has faced gunslingers in samurai-like armor (don't ask) that have the face of an orc, an insect and a skeleton, in ascending order of toughness. In the second mission, it has no face at all. The fact that it was armed with a pretty dang powerful flamethrower didn't help.
  • Jack of Blades, the Big Bad in Fable, always wears a white and red mask. In Fable: The Lost Chapters, it's revealed that Jack is a body surfing ancient entity that lives in the mask itself, who's moved from age to age by possessing the various dumb schmucks who've put the mask on.
  • In Fable II, the Wraiths are examples of this trope. These are floating spirits who summon ghostly children to attack you. They also mock you with revelations about your past and mistakes you have made.
  • The Dark Savant, Big Bad of the last two Wizardry games, wears a face-concealing helmet at all times.
  • Battlefield 3 plays this trope straight with Corporal Miller and averts it with Staff Sergeant Blackburn and Dima, albeit Dima's face is revealed when you switch to Blackburn for the end of "Kaffarov," which had mostly been Dima's level and in the ending cutscene.
  • Semi-averted in most of the Half Life games, wherein you don't see what the P.O.V. character looks like and there are no mirrors anywhere in Black Mesa, but the protagonists are shown in the box art... except Cpl. Shepherd in Opposing Force, who wears a Black Ops-style mask there.
  • Fallout 3 LDC "Operation Anchorage" allows the character to command a squad of men- each one seems to wear a full face balaclava that means every one looks exactly the same (the same applies for the Chinese soldiers you fight against, and for the player character in the similation). This trope does not appear in the main game, though.
  • We never see Vile without his helmet in Mega Man X. But Being a robot, the helmet could very well be his head. Its never clarified.
  • Mega Man X's face is obscured by light in the dialogue boxes from Mega Man Zero 2 onwards. Before that, however, his "face" is just a ball of light, seeing as the Big Bad in the first game is a clone of him and exactly looks like him, save for the red eyes. Ditto Omega: his real face hidden underneath a facial armor. His real face is that of Zero, since this Omega is possessing Zero's original body.
  • In Dead Space, Isaac Clarke's head is completely concealed by his helmet throughout the whole time you play as him. His face is only revealed in the ending, and also in the game's intro, if you use the analogue sticks to fiddle with the camera angles. This is averted in Dead Space 2 - although he still has his helmeted suits, he is often shown with his face on display.
  • The Dynasty Warriors version of Wei Yan is always portrayed wearing a mask. A cutscene in Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires shows Wei Yan's mask accidentally getting knocked off. He's only shown from behind, and the other characters react with shocked horror. Pang Tong, meanwhile, wears a veil that obscures his face from the eyes down.
    • Pang Tong's is a more justified example, as in the novels, he was portrayed as being ugly. Despite his major contribution to deflecting the Wei forces at Chi Bi, Sun Quan refused to hire Pang Tong on the grounds that he was butt. Though Liu Bei took him in, he supposedly was not a Pang Tong fan, either.
  • The player character of Pokémon Stadium has his eyes hidden by a hat similar to Red's hat and Ash's original hat. Oddly enough, he is the only faceless protagonist in the series.
    • We never see any Cubone and Marowak without their skull helmets, either.
    • Inverted with Diglett and its evolution Dugtrio, however. We actually never see their bodies from the neck down!
  • Caster in Fate/stay night, played for an ambiguous and mysterious enemy. You can see her mouth, chin and lower cheeks, but most of her emotions have to be expressed through body language. When the hood finally falls off, it's revealed that she's actually incredibly beautiful... too bad she just skewered and is bleeding to death, hm?
  • Taokaka and the rest of the Kaka clan from BlazBlue wear hooded jackets that show nothing of their face except glowing eyes—red, for Taokaka—and a mouth full of sharp fangs. They probably look like normal catpeople under the hoods, though. Probably.
  • Most games in the Dating Sim genre have a very generic, if not completely faceless, look for the main character so that the player can project themselves into the game. This extends to the animated adaptation of some of them: Sentimental Journey, for example, the protagonist isn't even named.
  • Hector from the Riviera: The Promised Land and other Dept Heaven games is always seen wearing a weird hat that hides his eyes. Perhaps to make him more menacing as he'd be pretty cute without it.
  • Trilby's face is never shown in detail; during the ending of The Art of Theft, he's only shown from the nose down, his eyes shadowed.
  • Samus Aran usually takes her helmet off at the very end of each Metroid game. At the time when the original game came out, the fact that Samus was a woman was a big revelation, but nowadays this is common knowledge.
  • The Nancy Drew game Danger By Design features an eccentric fashion designer who's begun wearing a mask all the time. Solve the crime, and you earn The Reveal that she's hiding a really stupid tattoo on her cheek.
  • The protagonist of the Super Solvers learning games. Or is he The Blank?
  • The Silent Protagonist of First Encounter Assault Recon wears a full-face mask. His face is revealed in the third game however.
  • King from Tekken, a Masked Luchador. In the intro of the first game he is shown donning his mask with his head offscreen.
  • .hack// had a few of these:
    • Helba is always shown with a crown/mask covering her eyes. Her full face is shown in XXXX, but the XXXX series is not considered canon
    • The same goes for Morganna. Whether she even has a face can be called into question, since she is The World itself. Every phase does have an eye located somewhere on its body, and this is commonly believed to be Morganna's eye watching through her phases. Again, in XXXX her face is somewhat shown, but these books are not considered to be canon due to their constant clashing of the original video games and plot line.
  • Justified by Tali in Mass Effect. Her species has spent the last 300 years on completely sterile ships, so their immune systems are practically nonexistant. Anyone leaving the fleet is forced to wear full-body armored environment suits, otherwise they'll die of airborne infection in days. In the second game, a male Shepard can romance Tali. During the love scene, Shepard removes the mask, and gets a good look at her face. However, the scene is shot from behind Tali, so the player does not see her face.
    • When the camera is focuses on her helmrt, you can see her eyes and vague facial features- her face looks (at least superficially) similar to a human's.
    • Tali lampshades this after playing poker with Shepard and members of the engineering crew:

"And I thought I had a good poker face."

  • Vanitas from Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep transcends the normal way of remaining ambiguous in the series by wearing a mask-helmet-thing to hide his face, so he can pull off all of his badass stunts without restraint. He's seen with the helmet removed at least once (before The Reveal, anyway); however, his face is hidden by the camera angle.
    • Amusingly, if you can alter the camera angle to scroll up in that scene, you'll find out that under that helmet is... another helmet.
      • Kingdom Hearts has this as a requirement for every game, the first one ends with us just about to see a spiky-haired blonde's "Roxas" before the camera stops, and the same in Sora's story in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. In Riku's story we finally see him... but now part of Riku's face is hidden to hide his blindfold In Kingdom Hearts II not only do the Organization cloaks hide most Nobody's faces, but the Masked Boy in the extra scene, and (in "Final Mix") the Lingering Sentiment, who are revealed in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, only for Young Master Xehanort to be hidden. In Kingdom Hearts 3D, 6 members of the new Organization XIII hide their faces beneath the usual dark cloaks, but Young Master Xehanort's face is clearly seen this time, including in the secret ending.
  • Pyro from Team Fortress 2, to the point where even the gender is ambiguous. In fact, we're not even sure that Pyro is a human being. Or any organic lifeform, for that matter.
  • Agent XYZ from Tonic Trouble is permanently hidden behind a newspaper.
  • The nameless main character from Science Girls wears a mask for the entire game. She claims it's a psychological experiment.
  • Both protagonists of the BioShock (series) series, who never speak either. The latter is a Big Daddy, who is The Faceless by definition.
  • The Assassin from Monday Night Combat.
  • The Zettai Ryouiki NEW android app from Hastysoft stars a busty redheaded girl whose eyes are never shown - even in angles that would, she does the developers the favour of covering them with her hands!
  • Eagle Eye Mysteries: The player becomes this via first person perspective.
  • Carmine from Gears of War is a (different) named soldier present in each installment who always wears his helmet while every other named soldier doesn't.
  • The Shy Guys from the Super Mario series. They all wear masks, and the trope is played straight even through Mario Power Tennis, where the Shy Guy's mask comes off during a cutscene. Luigi is the only one who sees its face, and all we get is his Reaction Shot. This is also played straight in Luigi's Mansion where, AGAIN, Luigi is the only one who sees them sans masks... but all you see is two yellow eyes in a dark void, meaning that they still count, specially since it's implied that they aren't "real" ghosts, but creations of Vincent Van Gore.
  • The player characters in Spiral Knights have their faces hidden in shadow with only their eyes peering out. This is to make them look gender neutral, as the only way to make your character look like a female is to wear a feminine-looking armor set, and also to keep the player in the dark about their race.
  • Shiki's true self in The World Ends With You is only shown by the bottom half of her face.
  • All of the wizards in Magicka, including NPCs and the Big Bad, have their faces permanently hidden in the darkness of their hoods, with the exception of Vlad (who is not a vampire). In fact, every set of robes you can get for your wizards has the same hood, resulting in the same face-hiding. Strangely, they're all still surprisingly expressive.
  • The Mortal Kombat series has a few examples, most notably the various ninjas, though a couple of them have appeared unmasked, and Kabal. In Kabal's case, it's because his face was scarred in an unknown accident that requires him to constantly wear a mask that doubles as a respirator. One of his fatalities does involve him removing the mask, causing his opponent to literally die of fright upon seeing his uncovered face. A pre-scarring Kabal appeared without a mask in Shaolin Monks, but it doesn't really count snce that game is not canon to the main series.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Sam and Fuzzy has numerous characters which fall under the masked variety. Though they are primarily mooks or secondary characters (and ALWAYS ninjas), Mr. Blank and Mr. Black served as major characters for one story arc. They were also distinguished by having their masks fully conceal their faces. Most other ninjas have an opening for the eyes, but their eyes are only drawn rarely. Mr. X and Mr. Y are also recurring characters who often cover their entire face, but sometimes reveal their mouths.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja has a Cerebus Retcon involving how none of the McNinjas ever take off their masks, even to eat or vomit. As nobody has seen their faces, they can remove the mask to disguise their identity and vanish.
  • Clifford Mayers, the main villain and scheming billionaire in Funny Farm has an unexplained shadow covering the upper half of his face apparently caused by his characteristic hair, regardless of where the light is coming from. The shadow disappears later in the story when his evil plans are foiled, and begins to reappear as he gets back into the scheming. Flashbacks from before he turned evil also reveals him as shadow-less.
    • When he wore dark glasses as part of a disguise, he sometimes displayed Scary Shiny Glasses instead (even though you couldn't see his eyes anyway...)
  • God in Sinfest.
  • In Okashina Okashi, Dahlia, a mysterious female assassin, always hides in the shadows - even in an open battlefield. [1]
  • Black Mage in 8-bit Theater always kept his face hidden in the shade beneath his hat: This was because his face didn't conform to euclidian geometry, and therefore looking upon it could drive people insane.
  • Cartoonist Bill Hollbrook gets big mileage out of this trope:
    • In Kevin and Kell, Kell's boss, R.L., is only shown as a protruding - usually salivating - wolf snout (And occasionally his arms).
    • In Safe Havens, one of Dave's teammates is always shown with his head out-of-panel. The now-retired character Miss Callowood also never showed her face.
  • Othar Tryggvassen (Gentleman Adventurer!!), from his very first appearance in Girl Genius, wears a spiffy silver visor over his eyes. Astonishingly, when his eyes are shown, they're the prettiest shade of baby blue imaginable.
  • Lampshaded in The Wotch. Up until recently, Xaos/the Worlock had always been seen with a helmet that hid the upper half of his face, if not all of it. In this comic, we finally see him without his helmet on (in a flashback), and in the first two panels in which he appears, the upper half of his face is obscured by a tree branch. He then moves it out of the way, muttering, "Stupid tree branch keeps getting in my face".
  • In Girls with Slingshots, there is a minor female character whose eyes are always covered by her own speech bubble or someone else's.

I still have no explanation for Miss Conrad's head.

  • In Sluggy Freelance, Hereti Corp's board room is specifically designed to keep everyone's faces hidden in shadows. Since many of these characters are rarely seen outside the board room (including Diabolical Mastermind Daedalus), it takes quite a while before readers get a good look at their faces. Daedalus in particular gets very annoyed if someone turns on the lights inside the board room and will usually cover his face until they're turned off again.
  • An active parody of this in Looking for Group: Richard's features are never shown clearly. Only his eyes are visible and the rest of his face is covered by a veil at all times. The character is inherently evil, so it's more than likely a parody.
  • PvP also has a minor character (Jase's girlfriend, Bonnie) whose face is obscured by her own speech bubbles.
  • In the Mr. & Mrs. Rockhound cartoons of The KAMics Mr. Rockhound's cousin Lenny is usually off-screen, but on the few occasions that he's 'appeared' the lights were out & we just saw his eyes, another time he wore a penguin costume so we just saw his eyes & tail, another time a rock had fallen on him so we just saw his hand.
  • In Life and Death Steve was like this originally, because he didn't want anyone to see his scarred face, but he's gotten that fixed. Bobby's face is, so far, kept secret from the audience, but Brunhilda thought it was very good looking.
  • In Harkovast, the Wizard Quinn-Tain is only seen from behind.
  • Decoy Octopus from The Last Days of Foxhound typically takes on the appearance of one of his coworkers. However, when he appears in a spiritual realm, such as when he is tested by The Sorrow, he appears as only a fedora and a trenchcoat, with no face or body.
  • Haxor and his minions in WTF Comics.
  • Galehaut from Arthur, King of Time and Space is only shown from the neck down just because he's so damn tall.
  • Played with in this Emergency Exit strip. Kyran deliberately uses extremely dim lighting to create a sinister atmosphere for his guest. The guest, however, would really rather just have some lights on.
  • Every "breather" in Carnies
  • In Dominic Deegan, in his first (and so far only) appearance, the King of Callan's face was either just off panel, or in one case behind a voice bubble.
  • In Mutant Ninja Turtles Gaiden, after 17 chapters, we had never seen Augustus Amherst's original, pre-Renoir, face. Even in flashbacks he's NEVER seen.
  • In Blip, The Adversary has several layers of this. In his first appearance, in one of K's lucid dreams, K wills herself awake before he can appear on-panel. When he finally shows up on-panel, his face is obscured via in-story Pixellation. Then the pixellation is removed, and he's wearing a white mask underneath it.
  • Anthony Carver in Gunnerkrigg Court, at least as an adult. Fitting, considering that (as of Ch 27) we know less of him and his motivation than any other major character in the comic.
  • Andrius in The Pocalypse. His face is only seen once.
  • The black cat from Girly has no face, but still manages to produce a meow that shakes characters to their souls.
  • The Faceless Janitor Cop from Fruit Incest.
  • Kore from Goblins. His armor and helm conceal his entire body except for one eye and some beard.
  • Greliz from Beyond the Canopy. He always wears a paper bag over his head, even if he's wearing another mask over it.
  • In The Specialists, the Bombardier won't show his face, and won't tell why.
  • Mr. Hand in The Mansion of E; his face is always covered or off-panel.
  • The Villain Protagonist of Chopping Block is consistently shown wearing a hockey mask, even in a flashback to when he was in the womb. He's taken it off two times—once with his Face Framed in Shadow, and once to reveal the face of the artist who draws the comic.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Drew Avery in Lonelygirl15.
  • IGSRJ, a parody of The Angry Video Game Nerd and the Irate Gamer. Furthermore, IGSRJ speaks through a text-to-speech program, making his voice hidden too.
  • The Specter in Mega 64.
  • Maskie from Marble Hornets.
  • Though his face is illustrated on the website, Mr. Plinkett's face is never seen in his reviews - only his hands, present in first person perspective.
  • Todd in the Shadows (either Face Framed in Shadow, filmed with his back at the camera, or masked).
  • The antagonist from Homestar Runner's Show Within a Show "Stinkoman 20X6". Rumored to be Coach Z's 20X6 counterpart.
  • The Chief from Agents of Cracked is always lit from behind. Lampshaded in the first episode of the second series, when the Sarge points out that the Chief's office always has terrible lighting.
  • Let's not forget every single character in Red vs. Blue. Lampshaded in Season Three when it's revealed that they don't even take their armor off when they're off-camera (with the exception of Donut, apparently and unsurprisingly, and possibly Grif and Simmons when they were in surgery), as Church has no idea what if Tucker is black or not. Tucker's more upset that Church doesn't even know his first name, though.
  • The full face of Mr. Administrator from Echo Chamber is never shown - he's only shown below the eyes.
    • Zack as well; he's usually behind the camera, filming everything. Although we do see his face briefly in episode 2. It's dark enough that most of the details aren't easily distinguishable.
  • Reyven Samoth in The Gungan Council, who probably doesn't even have a corporal face at this point. Darth Apparatus also used to run around with a mask or obscured face until recently.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • A staple of "golden age" theatrical shorts (Looney Tunes, etc.) in the '40s and '50s was to have a human character, typically female, who was only shown from the knees down. Examples include Mammy Two-Shoes (and her white, sometimes Irish, replacement as seen in edited versions of the shorts and in the short-lived Tom and Jerry Tales), in the Tom and Jerry shorts; Sylvester and Tweety's owner in Tweetie Pie (though not Granny in the later shorts); J.L. in the Daffy Duck cartoon "The Scarlet Pumpernickel," and Marc Antony's owner in Chuck Jones' Feed the Kitty.
  • Marvin the Martian in Looney Tunes, and by extension the entire Martian race as seen on Animaniacs (the episode "Clown and Out" ended with the Jerry Lewis-esque clown being blasted to Mars, where he's seen singing to Martian children) and Duck Dodgers', have this as a racial trait, their only physical facial feature being their eyes; otherwise, their face is a total blank.
  • Fire Lord Ozai during the first two seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender. He is usually a shadowed silhouette, but is seen fully illuminated in one episode, with different parts of his face and head visible in different shots—every part except his eyes. His actual face is a good deal less intimidating then you'd think (if only because The Reveal was when he was in a good mood).
  • The Big Bad of the sequel series The Legend of Korra, Amon, keeps his face hidden behind a mask. He claims his face was destroyed by the same Firebender who killed his family; only time will tell whether this is true.
  • Doctor Claw from the animated Inspector Gadget (who wasn't just faceless, he was mostly bodiless; only his arms and hands were ever shown). This was later ruined by a toy that did show his face and body (and utterly destroyed his coolness factor by presenting him as a skinny white-haired man with a twisted-lip sneer), and also to a somewhat lesser extent by a Super Nintendo game that showed half his face in the final battle (where he was at least given glowing eyes). The toy went out of its way to play it up, too. The packaging specifically covered his face with a sign, informing potential buyers that they would have to buy the package to see what he looked like.
  • Similarly, Spydra from Gadget Boy and Heather. The only time she takes off her mask on-screen (gleefully lampshading it in the process), she's polymorphed into Heather.
  • Miss Bellum on The Powerpuff Girls. Her full name is in fact Sara Bellum, homophonic to cerebellum, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that her head is never displayed. And also a reference to the fact that she's really the brains at the Mayor's office. She gets a partial reveal in the 10th anniversary episode.
  • Kenny on South Park - with his full face finally shown in the movie South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (and again on the season eight episode featuring Michael Ja--Jefferson.
  • In an early episode of Mucha Lucha, Rikochet couldn't find his mask, and all they ever showed of him was really tight close ups of his eyes (and at one point, a shot where he's , and his head wearing other things (say, a paper bag, or a mailbox) to hide his masklessness. However, a model sheet of Rikochet's "special poses", which can be seen in the behind-the-scenes featurette on the "Heart of Lucha" DVD, shows four pictures of him without his mask, and all unobscured.
  • "Wizard" Kelley, from The Proud Family—a basketball star turned scheming billionaire—never has his head in the shot; he's just too tall.
  • G.I. Joe.
    • Cobra Commander, Destro, and Snake Eyes. Except Cobra Commander got revealed in the ill-received movie. Destro was subsequently shown without his mask via a 12" figure released in the mid-'90s (it was the main selling point!) and has since been shown without it in the current comics. Snake Eyes has been shown in one form of silhouette or another both pre- and post-scarring in all the various comics, usually showing the lower half of his face.
    • Eventually the comics gave Cobra Commander one as well, not nearly as cheesy as the movie's version. He just looked kind of like Che Guevara. Link. And even that was a disguise.
    • Snake Eyes' face was eventually revealed in it's entirety in GI Joe Vol.1: Reinstated by Devil's Due Publishing. The reveal showed both the "before" as well as the "after" of his reconstructive surgery. It's right here, if you want to look.
    • G.I. Joe: Renegades continues the tradition. We see only part of Cobra Commander's face. Destro is introduced prior to getting his mask but he gets it soon after, and Snake Eyes's remains mostly hidden, except for The Un-Reveal in one episode, when Zartan tried to steal his mask, and then promptly gave it back after commenting that Snake Eyes needed it more.
  • Nanny on Muppet Babies, seen only from the shoulders down (as were the non-Muppet adults in the babies' fantasy sequences).
  • Subverted on the Cartoon Network original series Cow and Chicken: their parents are supposed to be faceless, but the first episode reveals they're actually no more than two pairs of legs.
  • Sheldon in Garfield and Friends never completely hatched and is just a walking egg. In one episode, he finally hatches - to reveal another eggshell beneath.
  • The original shorts of The Fairly OddParents had Timmy's Unnamed Parents are (like the ones from Cow and Chicken) never shown from the waist up, but when it was made into its own show the parents' faces were seen.
  • Subverted on Codename: Kids Next Door. The first episode with Numbuh One's father involves his father's face being obscured from view quite blatantly; midway through the episode, though, it's suddenly seen. Several of the other character's parents were The Faceless at first, but later were shown, though some of the parents still haven't been seen. During season 6, the mysterious kid from the KND Splinter Cell was only shown as a shadow. In the Finale, it was revealed that he was in fact Numbuh 74.239, and that the splinter cell was just a cover for the Galactic KND.
  • Number One, the main villain of Birdman, never removes his mask. (Then again, neither does Birdman himself.) For that matter, neither does Space Ghost. Nor Frankenstein, Jr., who makes one wonder why the mask anyway - he's a Giant Robot—difficult to hide that without a mask!
  • Slade in Teen Titans, to such a degree that even getting a clear look at him in-costume (mask and all) is given the "big reveal" treatment. His mask is finally broken down the middle in the first season finale, but he manages to cover the other half of his face with one hand as he escapes. Later, during the fourth season finale, his mask is knocked off, but under extenuating circumstances: he's kinda-sorta dead, so all we get is a skull (although it was still a cool moment). The rationale appears to be that he is missing an eye—confirmed when his mask is removed during the fourth season finale.
  • Conrad Fleem in The Replacements is always shown from behind. His most distinguishing characteristic is a huge moustache.
  • In Darkwing Duck series, FOWL High Command is always shown in shadow, revealing nothing but shapes and eyes.
  • Batman-ish vigilante Nobody, from the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, is one of these when out of costume, with his face always covered in shadow—even when the lighting is such that it shouldn't.
  • The masked superheroes in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited are very rarely, if ever, shown unmasked.
    • Subverted in "Starcrossed" when they have to go into civilian disguise to hide in plain sight of the invading Thanagarians. Also made funny when Batman reveals that he's known who they all were the whole time.
    • Hawkgirl is a particularly interesting case, as her mask is part of a bulky, winged helmet, which she wears at all times, even when she's receiving medical attention inside Justice League headquarters. Her first unmasking, late in Season 2 (at the end of the second part of the episode "Wild Cards"), is presented as a dramatic and romantic scene. This is implied to be a point of Thanagarian culture—Hawkgirl stops wearing the mask/helmet for good after she severs ties with Thanagar.
    • The Question was this, until a tender unmasking scene with Huntress in the episode "Flashpoint". (Unlike the comic book version, who was seen unmasked regularly.)

Question: You were right. I am the ugliest guy of all time.
Huntress: Not in my eyes.

  • Bruno's boss in Bruno the Kid.
  • The foot soldiers in the original '80s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon were all literally Faceless Goons. They were also robots.
    • Casey Jones is never seen without his mask on (unlike other versions, he takes it off), even once when going undercover in a business suit.
  • Orko's people in the He-Man universe keep their faces concealed under wide-brimmed hats and behind scarves; all that is visible are glowing yellow eyes in the shadows, and pointy blue ears sticking through the hat. It is explained in one episode that showing one's face to another being is, in their culture, at a level of intimacy on par with getting engaged.
  • Dumb Donald's face in Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids is always hidden behind a pink stocking cap with eyeholes cut into it. The 2004 live-action film version (In which the series' main characters are sucked out of the television and into the real modern world) plays around with/lampshades his lack of facial features, as Donald eventually "gains" a face after the long stay in the real world starts to transform the animated characters into "real" people and unmasks. Once the gang re-enters their cartoon world, Donald's face "vanishes" and his "head" shown as just a pair of eyes before he puts his hat back on.
  • Secret Squirrel has the upper half of his face covered by a purple fedora hat with eyeholes cut into it.
    • His face was revealed once in "Goldflipper" while he was disguised as a girl scout.
  • In Cool McCool, Cool's boss Number One was only ever seen as arms and a cigar behind a chair.
  • All adults in Peanuts. The cartoons took this to another level by giving them their own Starfish Language.
  • Most of the character's parents in Tiny Toon Adventures are only shown from the waist down, the exceptions being Hampton's parents, Elmyra's parents, and Plucky's Dad's face has been seen a few times.
  • In Batman the Brave And The Bold, Bruce Wayne is never seen without his mask. If he's not wearing it, he'll be in shadow until he is. Finally averted in "Chill In The Night", where he unmasks himself to Joe Chill, the man who killed Thomas and Martha Wayne, just to strike a whole other level of fear into the guy.
  • In Batman the Animated Series, there's an episode, "P.O.V.", which features a very puzzling example of this trope. Batman and three of the Gotham Police Department's detectives work together (though they don't officially team up) to bring down a crime ring. The Big Bad in charge of the gang is always seen either in shadow or partially in shadow, so we can only see the outline of his face and some of his more notable facial features. He looks suspiciously like The Penguin (short and bespectacled), but obviously can't be because (if the basic shape of his face is any indication) he is not at all disfigured like the Penguin. What makes him an especially frustrating character is the fact that Batman apparently knows who he is, but he won't tell us! And as if all that weren't mysterious enough, this villain is The Voiceless as well!
  • In X-Men: Evolution, Magneto's almost always wears his psi-blocking helmet, as in most versions, but here the helmet's shadow often obscures his face as well, leaving only his eyes (which glow white when he's using or about to use his powers) visible. If Magento has the helmet on and the shadow isn't there, he's usually about to be given either a Pet the Dog or a moment of weakness- in other words, something that humanizes him. If the shadow's there, he'll usually be in straight villain mode. His face was revealed at the end of the first season, and from then on we see it even when he is wearing the helmet. Its implied that his earlier "appearances" were actually astral projection, and this Magneto appears to have more developed telepathic powers than other versions.
  • On the animated adaptation of The Ricky Gervais Show, Carl's longtime girlfriend Susanne is The Faceless, always shown from behind or her face hidden by a book, a lamp, or other object, if not cast completely in darkness.
  • Husband and Wife on The Schnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show
  • Wakfu's Nox removes his Cool Mask exactly once during the main series—with his back to the camera. His face is shown during his Start of Darkness episode, however.
  • Stoked has two. Mr. Ridgemount is only ever seen fron behind or with a newspaper in front of his face, and Wipeout who is never seen outside of his mascot costume.
  • God in The Simpsons. His face is always just out of frame. This is easy to pull off since he's much taller than anyone else (being God and all.)
    • All we know is that Homer described his appearance, IIRC, thusly: "perfect teeth, great smile, a class act all the way!"
  • Lt. Anna Baldavic from The Venture Bros.
  • Ms. Mimi in her first appearance Angelina Ballerina: The Next Steps. Her face is covered by the boxes she carries and is seen by the back of her head applauding for Angelina. Her face is revealed in the next episode.
  • Superman: The Animated Series (and its later spin-off Justice League Unlimited) features the Toyman, aka Winslow Schott. Orphaned after his father dies in prison, Toyman becomes a toy-crazed supervillain, hiding his face behind a Howdy Doody-like mask. Schott is never seen without the mask, although it's frequently cracked and broken in his battles with Superman, and even his fellow villains.
  • The aptly named No-Face, the extremely dangerous EVO leader of The Bug Jar from Generator Rex.
  • Tn the Mighty Man and Yukk! shorts on the Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show, Yukk! was supposedly the "world's ugliest dog." As such, he wore a miniature doghouse on his head that concealed his features. But whenever it became convenient to the plot to stun an adversary into terror-induced paralysis, Yukk! would lift his doghouse, and show them his face...At which point whoever was looking would absolutely freak out in gaggle-eyed horror. Of course, the audience only ever saw Yukk!'s head from behind in these instances.
  • The original three Bionicle movies were very weird about this. All of the true faces of mask-wearing characters (all the Matoran, Toa, Turaga and Makuta) were kept a secret. Their heads were shown from all conceivable angles, bar from the front, so we got a vague idea of what they may look like, but the precise facial details were still a mystery. Interestingly, despite the director's apparent efforts, the entire head of Makuta was indeed visible through the electric flashes in the first movie, and it looked exactly like on his toy—a regular Toa head (toy version) turned upside down... so, technically, he didn't even have a real face, unless you count the one on the top of his head, looking backwards... The second movie had Fire Drones—little machines built up using the CGI body of a Bohrok and the maskless head of a Matoran. And they did face the camera... but their faces were too tiny to see clearly. In the same movie, the animators even went as far as to show the comatose body of Turaga Dume with his mask on, even though it was a major plot-point that his mask had been stolen.
  • The second adaptation of The Lorax takes a different tack than the first and the original story. In the present timeline, the Once-ler's face isn't seen until the very end, although we get a general idea of blue eyes and an unkempt beard. In the past, however, his face is frequently visible. (He looked a lot like the boy to whom he tells the story in the present timeline.)


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • In many religious traditions, it is considered blasphemous to depict God visually. Whenever God is featured in a work of fiction, either His face is obscured or it's made explicit that His/Her chosen appearance is simply A Form You Are Comfortable With (the latter fulfills this trope conceptually if not directly). In Sunni Islam, it's also prohibited to depict the face of Mohammed, so in Islamic art he's frequently drawn as a figure with a face of pure light or something else of the sort. There are many old pieces of art that include the picture of Mohammed as well, but they have been defaced by later generations, and usually replaced his head with flames with similar symbolic meaning as the Christian halos.
  • A National Geographic photo-essay about the White House staff had the president only shown from behind, with his face covered, or just out of frame. Not for secrecy, but because the focus of the article was his staff rather than him.
    • This is a pretty common practice whenever the president is featured in a tv show or movie, when they don't want to use a fictional president, but don't want to date themselves by portraying the one currently in office.
  • The Unknown Comic, who made a running gag out of performing with a paper bag over his head.
  • While American Professional Wrestling has portrayed masks as being Serious Business, Mexican lucha libre takes it very seriously. Once a luchador has donned a mask, he will never reveal his face in public again until he's beaten in a match where he put up his mask against that of another masked wreslter or an unmasked wrestler's hair as a bet to end a fued. If the Mask loses he takes off the mask and can never use it ever again, and if the Hair loses, he has to shave his head.
  • Ever heard of The Man in the Iron Mask? In real life the mask was made of silk, and the man was most likely a spy whose identity could have caused an international incident—not Louis XVI's identical twin as per the book and the movie.
  • During Saddam Hussein's trial, the presiding judge was always shown from behind.
  • Undercover police always wear masks on television to avoid being identified by criminals during operations.
  • This is standard depiction of Master P., also known as Anonymus, an unknown Hungarian writer from the 13th century.
  • In Britain (and maybe in other countries) during the era of steam railways, the ticket booths at railway stations commonly shielded the booking clerk from view of the public, for some reason - perhaps for privacy. This meant that the most you ever saw of the person who sold you your ticket was a disembodied hand in the hatch, and maybe they'd speak if you were really lucky.
  • In Brazil, the Silvio Santos Show had an announcer named Lombardi that was never seen by anyone. In fact, before the internet, no one even knew what he looked like. Even after his death, 90% of the audience of the program (that took almost all of Sunday's afternoons and evenings slots in that network) still doesn't know his face.