Wipe That Smile Off Your Face

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Hold still, almost gone.

Neo: You can't scare me with this Gestapo crap. I know my rights. I want my phone call.

Agent Smith: Tell me, Mr. Anderson... what good is a phone call... if you are unable to speak?

A character's mouth is removed by some means. Only the mouth. Any further and they would become The Blank. As the old saying goes: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

The most common gesture accompanying this is to close an imaginary zipper in the air, maybe even accompanied with a zipper sound, and the mouth of the victim close up and stay shut. There are other variants, of course, most leaning into Nightmare Fuel.

Related to Eyeless Face and The Noseless. Not quite as catastrophic as And I Must Scream (no actions or communication.) Compare with No Mouth, an animation style where characters are drawn without mouths.

Examples of Wipe That Smile Off Your Face include:


  • An ad for Hardee's (and Carl's Jr.) depicts a robot unwrapping a sandwich from the sponsor, putting it to his face and recognizing that he has no mouth. Slogan: Machines can't eat them. They shouldn't make them.
  • In the Register for Vote series of Public Service Announcements, consistently with the figure of speech Vote as your expression at least a couple of Announcements hinges heavily on this trope:
    • In the 2006 David Lachapelle's Vanity hinged about the Lipsealer, a lipstick supposedly able to grant America's Next Top Model second winner Joanna House, the ability to become unable to form any opinion and indifferent [to political matters]. Your Mileage May Vary on this, but the lipstick effects turn to terrifying when Joanna is shown with half melted lips, grunting in front of the camera in the desperate attempt to speak up
    • In the 2009 Jessica Alba's The Muzzler Jessica Alba is shown as a sleazy telemarketer selling The Muzzler, an Hannibal Lecter like mask able to silence young voters, preventing them from having to express their opinions. Hayden Panettiere shows up in a cutesy Pink dress, mumbling and moaning that she liked so much the idea of being stripped of the responsibilty to vote that she got her mask surgically implanted.

Anime and Manga

  • Happens in book 26 of Mahou Sensei Negima, when a captive Anya is loudly protesting whatever Fate is doing to Asuna, and Homura makes a swift gesture with a finger, resulting in Anya's mouth closing like a zipper.

Comic Books

  • The mutant Chamber in Marvel Comics blew off his entire lower face when his powers manifested. Technically, he can't even speak -- he talks telepathically, with a Funetik Aksent.
  • Arseface, from Preacher (Comic Book), was a teenage boy who tried to kill himself, in imitation of Kurt Cobain, by shooting himself in the face with a shotgun. It didn't work. He was left with a giant gaping hole instead of a mouth. He eventually goes on to become a world famous rock star. Based on the real-life botched suicide of James Vance, although that was allegedly due to hearing subliminal messages in Judas Priest songs.
  • In the Books of Magic, one fey has his mouth magically removed when he wouldn't shut up.
  • During the Infinity Gauntlet miniseries, Eros attempts to sway his evil (and now omnipotent) brother Thanos to surrender using his powers of emotional manipulation. Thanos's angry response (he knows what his brother is trying all too well) is to remove Eros's mouth, which stays gone until the Reset Button is hit near the series's end.
  • During the "Emperor Joker" storyline in Superman, Joker removes Batman's mouth. Batman then communicates by Morse code using his jaw. Because he's Batman.
  • Thor: First Thunder #2: Loki sets about working mischief by transforming the employees at Donald Blake’s hospital into strange and terrible new forms. Jane Foster is one such victim. She ends up missing a mouth after Loki is done with her.
  • Justice League #23: Zatanna has her own powers turned against her by Amazo, who uses them to “EVOMER S’ANNATAZ HTUOM.” She restores herself to normality by writing out a spell with her own blood.
  • New Mutants #21: Trista, a mutant who can control the behaviour of others just by speaking to them, has her mouth magically sealed by an arcane device operated by Doug Ramsey.
  • Uncanny X-men #191: Selene (who is actually Magma) has her mouth erased by Kulan Gath so as to hinder her ability to cast spells.
  • In an early issue of WITCH, Elyon does this to Taranee when the captured Fire Guardian insists that her friends run from Cedric and his soldiers rather than rescue her.
  • In X-Men, Banshee briefly has his mouth removed by the flesh-warping Masque.

Films -- Animation

  • Spirited Away: Yubaba seals Chihiro's mouth shut with a "zipping up" motion of her hand.
  • |Toy Story 3: Mrs. Potato Head gets her mouth pulled off by Lotso when she starts complaining, her husband having to snatch back for her.

Films -- Live-Action

  • From The Matrix, the first encounter between Agent Smith and Neo Mr. Anderson. When Neo keeps demanding the legal phone call, Agent Smith responds by erasing his mouth.
  • Twilight Zone the Movie: A young Reality Warper does this to his sister when she snaps at him. It's a remake of the TV episode "It's a Good Life"—the original did not feature the trope.
  • Toward the end of Beetlejuice, when Barbara tries speaking three time the name of the eponymous ghost to banish him back, Beetlejuice uses his Reality Warper powers to cover her lips with a zipper. However, she just opens it up and manages another "Beetlejuice". Now truly annoyed, Beetlejuice conjure a metal plate to completely shut her mouth.
  • In X Men Origins Wolverine, Striker finally finds a way to shut Wade up by first sewing, and in the finished version, plastering his mouth shut. The Stinger shows the decapitation/fall of the head somehow opened it again.
  • Inverted, at least in trope title, in The Dark Knight.

The Joker: Let's put a smile on that face!

  • A poster for the Silent Hill movie depicts the character Alessa, a little girl, as having no mouth.
  • Mr. Nick wipes off the smiles of an entire temple full of monks in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus to prove a point to the good doctor. They get better.
  • Warlock the Armageddon: The Warlock pays an unscheduled visit to an office building to retrieve a magical artifact. When the front desk receptionist challenges his right to enter, he puts an end to the conversation by causing flesh to grow over her mouth. Later he mentions the fate of the poor woman to her employer: “She’s looking for a new opening.


Live-Action TV

  • CSI New York: One of the more disturbing victims was a man who had his jaw blasted off by an exploding cigar.
  • The X-Files, episode "Je Souhaite", where a Literal Genie is passed around. One man wishes another man would "shut up". You know what happens...
  • In Star Trek: Voyager, episode "Q2", q (Q's son, who has been told to stay on Voyager) is approached by cheerful, talkative Neelix. Except he still has his Reality Warper powers. Whoops. Neelix doesn't just get his mouth removed, but also his vocal cords.
  • The episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer entitled "Witch".
    • Lishanne gets better.
  • In one episode of Blood Ties, a voodoo witch does this to Coreen.
  • In the British comedy My Hero (TV) there is a compound from ultron called lipweld which literally welds your lips together making your mouth disappear.
  • A wizard does this to Tommy early in Power Rangers Dino Thunder. It's just a throwaway gag, though, and has no effect over the episode's plot.

Ethan: Beldorf, give him his mouth back.
Conner: Can he wait til after midterms?

  • Haven: In the episode "Sketchy", this along with Eyeless Face, happens to one of the victims.
  • "The Fades": Paul causes his sister Anna's lips to fuse together when she rudely interrupts a kiss between Paul and Jay.

Tabletop Games

  • Unknown Armies: A signature Epideromancer attack. One spell allows the caster to manipulate an area of flesh roughly the size of one's palm. Its most common use in canon is to seal a victim's mouth and nose shut. Have we mentioned it's a horror game? Have we mentioned that Epideromancy is freely available (beyond the craziness and sadism required to get magic power from self-mutilation) to player characters?
  • Magic: The Gathering: "All the wizardry in the world has to pass through one small and easily sealed door."

Video Games

  • Clive Barker's Undying: Tiring of her brother's smart-aleck comments, Bethany chained up Aaron in a dungeon and ripped off his jaw before leaving him to be flensed alive by rats, then hid it in her cottage! The PC, while being repeatedly attacked by hoards of things sicced on him by the tormented Aaron, must find the jaw, break into the dungeon Aaron is chained up in, and place it back on Aaron's corpse.
  • In Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Raziel's lower jaw is one of the many casualties of his time spent dissolving in the Abyss. Oddly enough, this in no way hinders his ability to speak. Given his status as a spectral ghoul capable of shifting between the worlds of the living and the dead, the superfluous nature of all his internal organs given his missing abdomen and the many reality-defying powers he has, his jaw-deficit Shakespearian elocution is a fairly minor facet of his abilities.
  • The Outlaw ending in Twisted Metal: Head-On features the Roberts siblings arguing over how to handle Calypso—shoot him or arrest him? Finally one of them makes a fatal mistake: "I wish you would just shut up!" Now, yelling that in front of Calypso... (It is an apparent Shout-Out to Neo's de-mouthing in The Matrix.)
    • In Crazy 8/No-Face's backstory, in addition to his tongue and eyes being excised, his mouth was also sewn shut.

Web Comics

  • In Kagerou, this happens to Tcaolin and Tonbo (her current host) when they are captured, and even once they split Tonbo stays like this a while until Tcaolin shows up later and returns Tonbo's speech, which leads to a Moment of Awesome:

Web Original

  • The "motorcycle" Shock Site image, in which a man apparently blew off most of his face with a shotgun in a Bungled Suicide.
  • In Violent Sky, a Knife Nut agent "silences" The Genius of the protagonist's side by stabbing her in the back of the head and cutting a nerve for expressing thoughts. but not brain dead The victim is later implanted with an AI who's meant to impose her until her body dies of old age. Her nerve self healed by luck later.

Western Animation

  • A common Looney Tunes gag is the "zipper over the mouth" variety of muffling a character. In Bugs and Thugs, Giant Mook Mugsy takes the expression "button your lip" in the most literal way possible.
  • In Duck Dodgers and the Return of the 24½th Century, Dodgers demands that Eager Young Space Cadet Porky perform the Trope Namer. He does so rather literally.
  • Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy
    • Ed has a nightmare that his mother is... Johnny 2x4. At some point, Johnny tells Ed to "wipe that smile off of his face," which causes Ed's mouth to disappear. If that weren't horrifying enough, Johnny then sentences Ed to be tossed into a pit of shark-like versions of the Kanker sisters, which causes Ed to tear his face back open to get a new mouth to scream with.
    • In another episode, the Eds stumble on an alternate universe. After discovering that the Eds have removed Jimmy's outline, Sarah starts to chew them out, until Eddy pulls her mouth off. However, she can still use it, and it bites his face.
  • Teen Titans: An alternate version of Robin and Expy of Bat-Mite who acts like a crazed fanboy and has a magic finger, breaks reality, making the world look like, as Cyborg put it, "it came off my grandma's fridge." Beast Boy loses his mouth, and in order to talk, pulls Raven's off and puts it on his face. He then talks with her voice. Later, when trying to figure out how fix it, Raven pulls off Cyborg's mouth and puts it on her face, then talks with his voice while Cyborg uses Starfire's mouth to talk with before they all get fed up with it and give everyone their proper mouth back.
  • I Am Weasel: Baboon's hand becomes magical and he makes wishes with his hand. Near the end, Weasel gets fed up with the wishes he makes, he wishes Baboon to shut up and, before Baboon can make another wish, his mouth disappears.
  • House of Mouse: "Congratulations, you would like to: Pay your bill."
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy "Zip it, Mindy."
  • The Superhero Squad Show: In the episode “the Fate of Destiny!” Nebula has her mouth sealed by the Infinity Gauntlet-wielding Thanos. Thanos grants Nebula’s wish to have a gag removed from her mouth by magically removing the mouth from her face. She escapes his clutches and, still sans mouth, returns in a later episode, “When Strikes the Surfer!" where she has her face restored to normality by Molecule Man.