Created By: DrDougsh on May 12, 2012 Last Edited By: DrDougsh on June 6, 2012
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Identity Concealment Disposal

A plot device used to hide a character's face that is dropped without explanation after the character's face has been revealed.

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Sometimes, a writer wants to build intrigue in a character by keeping the character's face and identity hidden from the audience. Maybe the character always wears a face-concealing mask or only ever contacts other characters via telephone. Then the moment finally comes when the character's face is revealed to the audience! Finally, the spoiler is out, and the character no longer has to wear that pesky mask and can now contact other characters via hologram instead of phone!

This trope is when a plot device previously used to conceal a character's face is abruptly dropped as soon as the character's face has been revealed once. Note that this can be justified in-universe if the character was deliberately hiding his identity from others and stops doing it at some point, but this trope only applies when whatever was hiding the character's face is discarded without any in-universe explanation.

Frequently, but not always, whatever was hiding the character's face only existed to hide it from the audience, as opposed to the characters.

Sub-trope of The Reveal. See also The Faceless, Evil Is Not Well Lit, Emerging from the Shadows and The Unmasking.


Examples

Anime & Manga
  • In Detective Conan, when the culprit is shown doing the deed rather than as one of the suspects, they're shown as a slender, shadowy male with no clothing or hair, and with a default face.
  • Mystogan from Fairy Tail may fall in the downplayed version of the trope : he doesn't drop his mask after his identity is revealed (he only actually stops wearing it when he's back in Edolas, which makes sense in context), but his hair starts sticking out and his face is more visible than before it was known.
  • Captain Sajin Komamura of Bleach wore a face-concealing helmet in his earliest appearances. He is eventually revealed to have the head of a dog, after which he stops wearing the helmet.
  • In Durarara!!: The Slasher is shown in all initial appearances as a being with red eyes cloaked in shadow; after Haruna first reveals herself, this effect is dropped entirely for her and everyone else infected with The Virus; it's used only once more for Sonohara Anri after her Reveal, though in that case it made more sense than when she was in clear view, as she was wearing all-black clothes with her face concealed while in the rain outside on a dark night and riding a horse.

Film
  • In his first scene in TRON: Legacy, CLU is wearing a helmet that hides his face completely. Appearently, he was wearing it for the sole purpose of making a dramatic reveal to Sam, since he never puts it on again for the rest of the film.
  • Sherlock Holmes, throughout the first film Moriarty appears with his face in the shadows. In the sequel he appears this way only in the film's introduction, during which he reveals himself and stays revealed for the rest of the film.
  • In the early James Bond films, Spectre No. 1 AKA Ernst Stavro Blofeld, was shown from the neck down with a white persian cat, even to his own cohorts. As soon as he was revealed to Bond, he apparently dropped the aversion to revealing his face.

Live-Action TV
  • Done several times on Lost.
  • Heroes basically did a Name Concealment Disposal variation with the Haitian. Once his name was revealed to the audience, no one ever referred to him as "the Haitian" again.
  • In the new Doctor Who both the Judoon and the Sontarans have leaders who take off their helmets for The Reveal, and then leave them off the rest of the time. Their Judoon/Sontaran mooks leave their helmets on.

Video Games
  • The Kingdom Hearts series does this a lot:
    • Ansem initially appears as a cloaked figure in the original game, but after The Reveal has always appeared since in full view.
    • The Disney Villains initially appear as Sinister Silhouettes hidden in the shadows in scenes where they're conversing (including Hades, who, given his flaming hairstyle, should be very difficult to hide in shadows), but as the plot stops requiring the viewer not to know who they are, the lighting on selective members improves and the darkness stops conceiling them.
    • In Kingdom Hearts II, all the members of Organization XIII initially wear face-concealing hoods as part of their uniform and reveal themselves one by one throughout the game. None of them ever puts the hood back on after having taken it off once.
    • Similar to the Organization, the Unknown of Birth By Sleep wears a black robe with the hood up, since the developers didn't want to show his face. When he returned as the main antagonist of Dream Drop Distance, the hood is down and never goes up.

Western Animation
  • In their inital appearances in Young Justice, the members of The Light communicate with each other through computer screens that make each member appear as a glowing, faceless silhouette. However, after their identities are revealed (to the audience, not to the protagonists) in the episode Revelations, every scene with the Light instead has them communicating via screens that leave their faces completely visible.
  • In the first two seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender Fire Lord Ozai's face was always hidden by shadows, regardless of the lighting (even to the extent that his face was shadowed when there was a wall of flames in front of him). This was dropped after his face was revealed at the beginning of season three.
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • May 13, 2012
    peccantis
    I'm pretty sure most if not all mystery/detective manga/anime needs to do this, but I wouldn't know because I only know this...

    • In Detective Conan, when the culprit is shown doing the deed rather than as one of the suspects, they're shown as a slender, shadowy male with no clothing or hair, and with a default face.
  • May 13, 2012
    StevenT
    • In Codename: Kids Next Door, the faces of most of the main five's parents were each kept hidden until a strong emotional moment between them and their respective offspring.
  • May 15, 2012
    DrDougsh
    Bump.
  • May 15, 2012
    peccantis
    Indices needed.
  • May 15, 2012
    JusticeReaper
    Wouldn't this fall under Face Framed In Shadow?
  • May 15, 2012
    peccantis
    ^ No. Face Framed In Shadow can be a method of this trope though.
  • May 16, 2012
    DrDougsh
    Come to think of it, this trope might need a different, more discriptive name. The trope isn't supposed to be about facelessness itself per se, it's supposed to be about some contrivance that hides a character's face that is discarded as soon as the character's face has been revealed.
  • May 16, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    Expansion on the Kingdom Hearts info.

    • Similar to the Organization, the Unknown of Birth By Sleep wears a black robe with the hood up, since the developers didn't want to show his face. When he returned as the main antagonist of Dream Drop Distance, the hood is down and never goes up.
    • Ansem initially appears as a cloaked figure in the original game, but after The Reveal has always appeared since in full view.

    Film

    • Sherlock Holmes, throughout the first film Moriarty appears with his face in the shadows. In the sequel he appears this way only in the film's introduction, during which he reveals himself and stays revealed for the rest of the film.
  • May 17, 2012
    Arivne
  • May 17, 2012
    willynilly91
    Done several times in "Lost"
  • May 21, 2012
    FordPrefect
    Heroes basically did Nameless While etc. with the Haitian. Once his name was revealed to the audience, no one ever referred to him as "the Haitian" again.

  • May 22, 2012
    Dacilriel
    In the first two seasons of Avatar The Last Airbender Fire Lord Ozai's face was always hidden by shadows, regardless of the lighting (even to the extent that his face was shadowed when there was a wall of flames in front of him). This was dropped after his face was revealed at the beginning of season three.
  • May 22, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    ^Similarly, in the early James Bond films, Spectre No. 1 AKA Ernst Stavro Blofeld, was shown from the neck down with a white persian cat, even to his own cohorts. As soon as he was revealed to Bond, he apparently dropped the aversion to revealing his face.
  • May 23, 2012
    Nazetrime
    Mystogan from Fairy Tail may fall in the downplayed version of the trope : he doesn't drop his mask after his identity is revealed (he only actually stops wearing it when he's back in Edolas, which makes sense in context), but his hair starts sticking out and his face is more visible than before it was known.
  • May 29, 2012
    DrDougsh
    Bump.
  • May 29, 2012
    Lightblade
    Captain Sajin Komamura of Bleach wore a face-concealing helmet in his earliest appearances. He is eventually revealed to have the head of a dog, after which he stops wearing the helmet.
  • May 30, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In the new Doctor Who both the Judoon and the Sontarans have leaders who take off their helmets for The Reveal, and then leave them off the rest of the time. Their Judoon/Sontaran mooks leave their helmets on. Guess they only made one facial prosthetic.
  • May 31, 2012
    Wii
    In Durarara: The Slasher is shown in all initial appearances as a being with red eyes cloaked in shadow; after Haruna first reveals herself, this effect is dropped entirely for her and everyone else infected with The Virus; it's used only once more for Sonohara Anri after her Reveal, though in that case it made more sense than when she was in clear view, as she was wearing all-black clothes with her face concealed while in the rain outside on a dark night and riding a horse.
  • June 6, 2012
    DrDougsh
    Bump.
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