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%% For practicality's sake please do NOT list any VAMPIRES OR WEREWOLVES in the examples unless they particularly stand out from the norm.
%% Both are way too heavily romanticized in the usual incarnations of those creatures and taken for granted as HUMAN-LIKE by characters in stories in current media, thus disqualifying them from the trope. So please don't add any without making a good case. For instance, ALUCARD from ''Manga/{{Hellsing}}'' would still count, despite being a vampire, he is NEVER treated as if he is human. Rather than merely being a
%% vampire, OTHER VAMPIRES find him to be scary.
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[[quoteright:245:[[VideoGame/CthulhuSavesTheWorld http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cthulusavestheworld_2858.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:245:He didn't actually need the sword, [[RuleOfCool he just likes swishing it around]].]]

When the protagonist of the work is itself some horrific being that sends people screaming in its wake. They might never have been human, or possibly [[WasOnceAMan might have been once]], but now they are some inexplicable creature that has no place in this world. These Horrifying Heroes not only ''look'' frightening, they also have frightening abilities to match, and could just as easily be imagined as a bad guy in nearly any other story. They tend to be an AntiHero, or villains who have had a HeelFaceTurn, however whether they are true heroes or just a VillainProtagonist they still get to be the [[EvilVersusEvil effective]] [[EvilVersusOblivion hero]] of their story.

Characters which qualify as a Horrifying Hero include the EldritchAbomination, {{Cthulhumanoid}}s, [[HumanoidAbomination Humanoid Abominations]], StarfishAliens, a LivingShadow, a [[OurDemonsAreDifferent Demon]] and other such things which by their very nature are normally if not ObviouslyEvil, then ObliviouslyEvil. Characters which appear human part of the time ''can'' qualify, but only if their alternate form is such a thing, and is consistently described as NightmareFuel, not just weird or ugly in appearance, and they generally need the powers to match. After revealing the character's true nature, a person would have to be a NightmareFetishist and crazy to boot to find the character appealing.

If there is a question of qualification on the basis of the character being scary but not exactly an EldritchAbomination, then the character instead may be a [[MonsterAdventurers Monster Adventurer]]. The differences between them can come down to portrayal. The Monster Adventurer is defined by being ugly or scary. The Horrifying Hero might be ugly and/or scary, but often he will also have frightening abilities. You are meant to feel bad for, and relate to, the Monster Adventurer, while the Horrifying Hero is a BadAss, and might be WishFulfillment.

Subtrope of CreepyGood, which is when any character on the side of good (not just the hero) is perceived by those around them as creepy.

Tropes which might be associated with a Horrifying Hero include DarkIsNotEvil, WhatMeasureIsANonHuman, WhatMeasureIsANonCute, HunterOfHisOwnKind and StagesOfMonsterGrief. This type of hero is probably more likely than any other to induce a MookHorrorShow.

As for characters which are scary but don't qualify for this trope, you will likely find them under ReluctantMonster, NonMaliciousMonster or UglyHeroGoodlookingVillain. For characters whose ''behavior'' is horrifying, see ByronicHero and TerrorHero.

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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime And Manga]]
* Vincent Law/Ergo Proxy from ''Anime/ErgoProxy''.
* Alucard from ''Manga/{{Hellsing}}'' can turn into a roiling mass of shadows, hellhounds, eyeballs, {{SlasherSmile}}s and some kind of stampede of black knights that kill people on contact.
* Kudou Denji from TsutomuNihei's ''{{Abara}}'' who is a Guana--which is some serious BodyHorror and a taste for human flesh.
* ''Manga/{{Devilman}}''. Anyone who sees him is instantly '''horrified'''.
** Jun, the female counterpart in ''Manga/DevilmanLady'' fares little better.
* [[BadassPreacher Abel Nightroad]] from ''LightNovel/TrinityBlood'' is secretly a [[LovecraftianSuperpower Crusnik]], a technologically-augmented monster that can [[FoodChainOfEvil feed on vampires the way vampires feed on humans]]. He looks human most of the time, but [[OneWingedAngel when it's time to get serious...]]
* Darkrai (a Pokemon that controls nightmares) was actually portrayed as one in the film ''[[Anime/PokemonTheRiseofDarkrai Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai]]''.
* ''Manga/FrankenFran'': Leading lady Madaraki Fran normally resembles a [[CuteMonsterGirl teenaged girl version]] of Frankenstein's monster, but at times she adopts her multi-armed [[BodyHorror "Operation]] Mode." While the precise value of [[BlueAndOrangeMorality "hero"]] may come into question, the "horrifying" very much definite.
* Kaiman from ''{{Dorohedoro}}'' is a man with a Caiman's head who tracks down every magic user (in search of the one who turn his head into a caiman). If they're not, he kills them, brutally. Also there is a guy who lives in his mouth and can tell whether the victim is the responsible or not. And yet he is the [[AntiHero hero]].
** Kaiman is actually [[spoiler: a human who became a brutal magic-user/gang leader (and currently trying to become a ''devil''); fortunately Kaiman is now his own person thanks to magic resurrection]] while the guy in his mouth is [[spoiler: the "Curse" of a [[MuggleBornOfMages seemingly non-magical magic-user]] "pre-Kaiman" betrayed and murdered (ditto on having his own body back)]].
** Pretty much every "heroic" character can be fairly horrifying given [[CrapsackWorld the setting]]. That kindly, enthusiastic doctor who's so much like [[PacificRim Dr. Newt]]? He made a magic door out of ''magic-user body parts'' (magic-users are indistinguishable from normal humans except for [[spoiler: a tiny devil-shaped tumor in their brains]]).
* [[spoiler: Eren]] becomes this in this ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'' after [[spoiler: gaining the ability to transform into a Titan]]. He may be on their side, but that doesn't stop most people from being terrified the first time around.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Comic Books]]
* The eponymous character of ''Comicbook/{{Spawn}}'', as befits the most iconic NinetiesAntiHero to survive out of the 90s. First, there's the look; taller than a human and prone to towering ominously over others, with a [[BadassCape hugely collared, blood-red, shroud-like tattered cape]] framing a jet-black bodysuit adorned with SpikesOfVillainy and bedecked with writhing chains. Eerie green eyes that glow with {{hellfire}} stare out of a blank-featured mask, brooding at all before him, while fingers grow into razor-sharp claws. Then you see how he fights; using CombatTentacles and bare limbs to tear his opponents apart and rip off limbs, or emotionlessly gunning them down. Then you find out he's a HumanoidAbomination; a walking, rotting, undead corpse with [[TheSymbiote a living demon]] serving as his ([[ClingyCostume fiercely protective]]) costume and with enough BlackMagic to wipe out armies singlehandedly.
* Also the eponymous character of ''Comicbook/GhostRider''; not much scarier than a leather-clad demonic biker with a {{Flaming Skull|s}} head that can kill you with a look.
* ''Comicbook/SwampThing,'' definitely.
* And ''{{Marvel}}'s'' Comicbook/ManThing.
** Provoking fear is an explicit part of Man-Thing's powers: those that fear him burn at his touch.[[note]]To be more specific, he has intense empathetic abilities that cause him to be drawn to strong emotion, and if said emotion is negative and violent, it will provoke him to both attack and secrete an immensely potent acid. It is unclear how he would react if he ran into a normal person who had an expected, conventional fear response to his monstrous visage, but considering Man-Thing is generally a hero, one suspects his first response would not be 'Melt the poor schmuck'.[[/note]]
* ''ComicBook/{{Hellboy}}'' is the demon who was supposed to bring about the Apocalypse, and he probably would have become a straight EldritchAbomination if not for being raised like a human. He's personable enough that he isn't treated like the abomination he is, but underneath it all he was still by his very nature ''supposed'' to be evil.
* Although he can pass for human, the aptly-named Doc Horror of the relatively unknown comic {{Nocturnals}} probably fits under this trope, being a creature from another dimension who escaped to our world. His teammates definitely qualify, as they include a wraith, a pyrokinetic swordsman, a [[FishPeople fish woman]], a flesh golem/gunfighter and [[CreepyChild his daughter]], who carries around a collection of [[CreepyDoll possessed toys]].
* The Tattered Man from the obscure one-shot comic of the same name is a [[OurDemonsAreDifferent spirit of vengeance]] whose body is composed of the tattered clothing worn by Jews who died in a concentration camp. The strands of clothing act as CombatTentacles that he uses to impale violent criminals.
* [[Comicbook/{{Venom}} Eddie Brock]], famous for wearing a carnivorous [[TheSymbiote alien parasite]] with [[LovecraftianSuperpower Lovecraftian superpowers]] as a costume, thinks of himself as being one of these. As Anti-Venom, he expresses shock that a {{Mook}} is more terrified of [[DeadPersonImpersonation the Wraith]] than of him.
* As a spirit of vengeance who could teach even Comicbook/GhostRider a thing or two, TheSpectre hunts down evildoers who [[KarmaHoudini escaped justice]] and uses his vast magical powers to inflict nightmarish deaths and [[FateWorseThanDeath worse-than-deaths]]. Turning a villain's body into cheese but [[AndIMustScream leaving his mind intact]] and then loosing the villain's trained rats to have dinner? ''That was in the LighterAndSofter WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold cartoon series.'' When he gets ''serious,'' he's even more cruel.
* Aside from facing [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything general hatred just for how they were born]], many of the mutants in the MarvelUniverse have either powers or an appearance that terrify anyone not on their team (and even some that are). A lot of these end up becoming Morlocks, living in sewers and such, and the go-to targets for the latest "test" of a mutant genocide without wiping out a bunch of beloved main and secondary characters.
* [[{{Comicbook/FantasticFour}} The Thing]] Started off like this, but after a few decades of CharacterDevelopment, the public have gotten used to an orange, rocky hero.
** If WordOfGod is to be believed, the public ''loves'' their orange, rocky hero. In-universe the Thing is considered hands-down the most beloved, popular hero in the Marvel universe.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Fan Fiction]]
* The protagonists of ''FanFic/TheReturn'', since they are all fascistic, cannibalistic-demons, in various stages of devolving into {{Humanoid Abomination}}s. And they are our world's best hope for survival against a true EldritchAbomination which might in fact be a whole 'nother universe in itself.
* In ''FanFic/TheDarknessSeries'' [[Franchise/HarryPotter Harry]] in his [[ScaledUp snake form]] saves Fleur from the Grindylows.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film - Animation]]
* Jack Skellington, the skeletal Pumpkin King, from ''WesternAnimation/TheNightmareBeforeChristmas''.
* James P. "Sulley" Sullivan and Mike Wazowski from ''WesternAnimation/MonstersInc.'' They're monsters whose job it is to scare people.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature]]
* The eponymous character of ''Literature/SkulduggeryPleasant'' is a living skeleton. The cover of the American edition of the first book had a picture of him and a blurb saying "And he's the good guy!"
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Tabletop Games]]
* When played as heroes, the [[OurVampiresAreDifferent Abyssal]] ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'' can exhibit this sort of behavior, due to some being hideous pseudo-undead monstrosities. The (probably more common) darkly beautiful variety aren't such good examples, though their [[BattleAura anima]] still sends mortals fleeing in terror.
** [[VoluntaryShapeshifting Lunar Exalted]], too. Their most common battle tactic is "turn into an 8-foot-tall animalistic monstrosity", after all.
** [[HumanoidAbomination Infernal]] Exalted on the other hand are basically turning into Primordials (beings with hundreds of souls and are the creators of the world), and are [[FaustianRebellion supposed to be]] helping their masters bring about [[HellOnEarth the Reclamation]].
*** Many Infernal powers were directly conceived as being very evil and scary in special effects but not actually mandatory-evil in execution...for a sufficiently [[PayEvilUntoEvil lenient]] definition of "evil" anyway.
** Hell, the [[OurAngelsAreDifferent Solar]] Exalted are the targets of a massive smear campaign from the [[CorruptChurch dominant]] [[ScamReligion faith]] and as such, even if they save the day and convince a few people they really aren't so bad, if they want to avoid witch hunts and [[FanNickname fate ninjas]] they tend to move on very [[WalkTheEarth quickly]].
** If a [[TheFairFolk Raksha]] decided to play hero it would be most likely the definition of this Trope. As pretty as they are, they're still an [[EldritchAbomination Alien Intelligence]] from the [[WorldOfChaos Wyld]] and all.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' has a slight lack of personalities who could reasonably be described as heroic. Inasmuch as they're technically "good guys", the Legion of the Damned probably qualify as they are silent warriors whose black armour is adorned with chilling images of bone and fire, and they basically will appear out of nowhere and completely slaughter a losing imperial force's foes and then disappear.
** [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Mephiston, Lord of Death]] is generally considered a hero, but he's certainly a bit more... odd looking than the usual [[RatedMForManly appearance]] of Space Marines.
** From the point of view of the "bad guys", pretty much every Chaotic, Tyrannid or Necron "hero" counts.
* [[WorldHalfEmpty It's a slim chance that anyone can be a truly heroic character]] in any of TabletopGame/TheWorldOfDarkness gamelines, but [[TabletopGame/WerewolfTheApocalypse both versions]] of [[TabletopGame/WerewolfTheForsaken Werewolves]] have a form of WeirdnessCensor that force normal people to flee in terror when they are, uh, [[VoluntaryShapeshifting being werewolves]].
* Some PlayerCharacter races in ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' are weird enough, although rarely to the point that they can't function socially. But some sourcebooks allow you to either [[HollywoodEvolution evolve]] yourself into an EldritchAbomination, implant EldritchAbomination flesh into yourself, or just plain be an EldritchAbomination-- one sourcebook has a ''Good [[BrainFood Illithid]]''. Either way, the result is... disturbing.
** There is the Dragon disciple class which allows you turn yourself into a half dragon. 4e allows you to play as a war golem, living mass of crystals or Minotaur.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Prototype}}'''s Alex Mercer is a [[HumanoidAbomination living pile of general-purpose biomass]] sporting a multitude of {{Shapeshifter Weapon}}s, CombatTentacles, as well as the [[YouAreWhoYouEat ability to perfectly mimic any person]] and [[BrainFood assume their memories and knowledge]] by ''[[ImAHumanitarian eating them.]]'' He's also the player character, and the one person who stands a chance at defeating an equally-horrifying personification of a different strain of TheVirus.
** The same goes for James Heller of ''VideoGame/{{Prototype 2}}''. Fits all of the criteria above, along with being a ScaryBlackMan who can not only summon up tendrils to tether enemies to each other but [[WhyAmITicking infest them with a biological bomb of sorts]] as well as [[TheBeastmaster control]] EliteMooks to some extent. It's really shown in the finale, where [[spoiler:his daughter is too terrified of him to approach him at first.]]
* Raziel of the ''LegacyOfKain'' series is basically the ghost of a vampire. His blue skin, glowing yellow eyes, clawed hands and feet, tattered wings, and lack of a lower jaw leave him looking more like a demon than anything else, although in the first ''Soul Reaver'' game he can convince humans that he's on their side by not killing them. His sire Kain may qualify as well, even if he straddles the line between AntiHero and VillainProtagonist. Although he looks mostly human, people's reactions in the first game (when he's not using disguise magic) make it clear that he's recognizable as a vampire on sight.
* Wolf Link from ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'' is a wolf with mysterious powers of darkness, ridden by Midna, a creepy imp with strange markings and a [[ArtifactOfDoom Fused Shadow helmet]]. Wolf Link and Midna aren't really horrifying to the player, but in-game, the two of them cause a general panic wherever they go. (The only people who aren't scared of them are the lady who operates a canoe minigame, and her brother who is more scared of her than he is of Wolf Link and Midna.) But they're definitely on the side of good.
* ''VideoGame/StarCraftIIHeartOfTheSwarm'' gives us Sarah Kerrigan, formerly known as the [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Queen of Blades]] and the self-proclaimed ''[[GodSaveUsFromTheQueen Queen]] [[MagnificentBastard Bitch]] [[MemeticMutation of the Universe]]'', as the protagonist. Kerrigan has been a BrainwashedAndCrazy FallenHero and OmnicidalManiac for most of the first StarCraft and all of ''Brood War'', who only got recently turned back to normal in [[VideoGame/StarCraftIIWingsOfLiberty Wings of Liberty]]. She leads a HordeOfAlienLocusts, possess creepy psychic powers and is motivated by a RoaringRampageOfRevenge. Over the course of the game, she gets an upgraded but just as creepy version of the powers she had as a villain, basically turning into a HumanoidAbomination PhysicalGod. And yet, while she is on a thin line between AntiHero and VillainProtagonist, she still is a better person than [[BigBad Arcturus Mengsk]], the [[HumansAreTheRealMonsters perfectly human]] VillainWithGoodPublicity who she wants to make pay. She has also dropped the habit of backstabbing allies and executing rivals, and even goes out of her way to minimize collateral damage; things that Mengsk has done in the past without a shred of remorse.
* Any [[LooksLikeOrlok Nosferatu]] player character in ''VampireTheMasqueradeBloodlines''.
* The image above comes from ''VideoGame/CthulhuSavesTheWorld'', where it's PlayedForLaughs.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Webcomics]]
* Duane from {{Unsounded}} is a sentient skeleton with a zombie's perpetual predatory drive who occasionally grave-robs to replace broken limbs. He's also one of the most noble, lawful, moral characters in the story.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Original]]
* Skitter, in ''Literature/{{Worm}}'', is a teenaged girl with total control over every insect in a massive radius. She regularly covers herself in insects to give herself the appearance of TheWormThatWalks and normal battle tactics involve stuffing insects down people's throats. It's no wonder that the first superhero she runs into thinks that she's a supervillain!
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* In ''[[WesternAnimation/TotalDramaIsland Revenge of the Island]]'', [[spoiler:Dakota becomes this after her mutation. Although Sam likes her better that way.]]
* From GodzillaTheSeries: Godzilla is over 200 feet tall, looks like a cross between an iguana and a TyrannosaurusRex, and breaths a stream of atomic fire. The citizens of New York are quite justifiably terrified of him.
[[/folder]]

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