Gory Discretion Shot, as any damage severe enough to put a hole through a faceplate is likely to make a mess of the head it conceals, but the actual blood and gore need not be directly shown. See also Pretty Little Headshots. On the other hand, if the damage caused uncovers the character's face but does not cause head injury, that can also be a way of communicating to the audience that though the character is not dead, they are in serious danger. Tearing away their protection and revealing their face in the process will "humanize" an armored character to the audience, with all attendant human vulnerabilities that implies. Note that though this trope seems most common to armored characters, it can apply to any character who conceals their face behind a mask. For example, a masked Super Hero who gets their mask partially torn off in battle would count as this trope, though one who deliberately takes the mask off would not. Often a type of Armor-Piercing Attack, this is a non-fanservice Sub-Trope of Clothing Damage, and Sister Trope to Hat Damage if non-fatal. May invoke Ominous Crack where it's not fatal for added drama.
As a Death Trope, Spoilers may be unmarked ahead. Beware.
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Anime & Manga
- Ryuga in Mahoromatic gets his helmet smashed open in the last episode of the first season.
- Alice of Pumpkin Scissors is buying time for Randel by taking on an entire division of Claymores (masked, heavily-armoured shock troopers). The captain mocks her because she's getting tired; her response is to hack right through the metal faceplate of the captain with her double-bladed cavalry sword, then slash through his body armour.
- The same episode has another example near the end. As the body of Hans of the 908th High-Temperature Troop is being carted away, we see the faceplate of his flame and bullet resistant armour cracked wide open. As he can no longer survive outside his suit, this example is even more appropriate than most.
- In Darker Than Black, one of the most common and effective ways to show that a foe is to be feared is for them to break Hei's mask.
- Very dramatically in the Code Geass first Season Finale: Suzaku shoots a bullet straight at Zero's forehead; the mask slowly cracks, falling into two pieces on the floor and finally revealing Lelouch's identity to both him and Kallen.
- Happens in the fourth season of Bakugan when Dan shatters Mag Mel's mask in their fight, revealing his true identity of Emperor Barodius, the previous season's Big Bad who'd been sealed away for his attempted destruction of his neighboring planet.
- Haku from Naruto. His mask cracks and falls off while he waits for Naruto to kill him.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, Zone's mask cracks after receiving a direct attack and part of it soon breaks off, revealing that he has the same face as Yusei.
- In Trigun, a sign that Vash is genuinely pissed is that he aims to kill, hitting the eye portion of Monev's transparent faceplate and cracking it, though Monev survives the shot.
- Happens in Space Runaway Ideon several times, but it is rarely if ever meant to be a Gory Discretion Shot, given how graphic deaths are in the series.
- In the Gundam metaseries, the sight of a shattering faceplate is usually, though not always, the signal that a pilot is now dead. At best, it's a sign of severe injury and possible major life change.
- During the conclusion of Throne of Atlantis, Aquaman shatters Ocean Master's crown in two. Afterwards, Ocean Master relinquishes the title of king of Atlantis to him.
- Galactus's Cool Helmet is occasionally cracked during battles, though this can happen with opponents who are much weaker than he is, like Thor. On one occasion, Thanos was able to blow off most of his armor revealing a human-looking form beneath his armor, though this is just what the human mind perceives.
- Used in RoboCop (1987), where his visor gets smashed open by ED209, allowing the audience to see the fear and surprise on his face during a close-up.
- In Star Trek: First Contact, Picard takes a blow to the head while wearing a Starfleet space suit, causing the visor to crack. Fortunately for him, it still holds.
- During the space jump in Star Trek Into Darkness, Kirk takes a winging glance to the face from a small piece of debris. It produces a hairline fracture on his faceplate which begins to expand into a spiderweb of cracks as the air pressure in his suit pushes the faceplate outward. It holds and does not shatter completely, but it does disable his Heads-Up Display.
- During the intense forest battle in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Megatron shatters Optimus Prime's iconic faceplate by kicking him in the face. Soon after, Prime has to spit damaged pieces of it out of his mouth. Later, when he is upgraded with Jetfire's parts, Optimus's faceplate is repaired.
- The Spider-Man Trilogy invoke this trope at least twice. Spidey's mask gets ripped when he's on the receiving end of a beatdown.
- In Iron Man 3, Pepper finds and picks up an Iron Man helmet, which has been cracked in half and slightly burned.
- In 300, the Persian Immortals wear chromed masks into battle. One gets unmasked by a blow to the face. What's underneath is even uglier, matching the rest of Xerxes' army of freaks and horrors.
- In the original Alien, the first thing the face-hugger form does is go for the helmet, secreting acid to melt through the faceplate to impregnate the host within...
- The Dark Knight Rises:
- During their first fight, Bane beats Batman so brutally that his cowl cracks.
- In their second fight, Batman invokes this against Bane, hitting him so hard that his mask breaks - which messes with the constant flow of painkilling gas Bane needs to ignore the pain from his injuries.
- In The Raid, one early non-essential character gets shot clean through the faceplate on his riot helmet. Doubles as Eye Scream, at that.
- This trope is how you tell a mook has died in Equilibrium.
- At the end of the Action Prologue in Pacific Rim, Reliegh stumbles out of a collapsed Gypsy Danger with the faceplate over his helmet reduced to a few broken pieces around the edges and the right shoulder of his suit torn off, showing what he just went through.
- In Gravity, Shariff's death is confirmed not only from the large hole in the visor of his helmet, but from the hole in the back of the helmet and straight through the head in between.
- In Automata the Automaton Pilgram 7000 series and up have built in faceplate-like masks that are often graffitied, shot at, broken, or when fully sapient simply removed.
- In Interstellar, this happens to the hero after getting a headbutt from another crew member.
- Several examples in The Last Days on Mars (2013). Patient Zero staggers back to the expedition base, somehow surviving a fall that should have killed him or punctured his spacesuit. As he's dragged out of the airlock, a crewman takes off his helmet and we're shown the hole in the faceplate just before the Facial Horror of his dessicated features is revealed, and he attacks the crewman as an enraged alien fungus-infected zombie. Later a Zombie Infectee pulls off her space helmet to stop a colleague rescuing her. He tries to put the helmet back on, but sees the faceplate has been smashed. Later he comes across a member of the relief team dead in his spacesuit, after hearing their Sound-Only Death. The final version is when the Sole Survivor has to headbutt another infected victim, raising the possibility that he also might become infected.
- As in Literature below, The Martian has this happen to Mark Watney, forcing him to carry out a hasty emergency repair.
- In The Martian, after the seal around one of the Hab airlocks rips and the pressure blasts the airlock out, with Mark inside it, Mark has the faceplate of his helmet shattered. He is trapped in a pressured environment with a slow leak, and needs to MacGyver a way to seal it before he can go anywhere. He ends up cutting the left arm off his suit, tucking that arm against his chest, sealing the hole where the arm was, then using part of the suit's arm as an emergency patch, using the camera on the other arm to see.
Live Action TV
- This happens in Toku shows if someone has taken a really hard hit. Their suit is always intact next time it's used, though, somehow.
- Super Sentai:
- In Mirai Sentai Timeranger: Tatsuya's visor broke during one of the fight with Hell-Gate Prisoner, which reveal to Mr.Asami that Tatsuya is Time Red.
- Happens at least once in Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger (to Blue).
- Gekiranger: Jan gets a hole punched in his visor during his final fight with Rio.
- A curious variation takes place in Mahou Sentai Magiranger; during the final battle against N Ma, Kai manifests his helmet without the faceplate.
- In Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters takes this trope Up to Eleven. In Mission 14, Hiromu and Ryuuji both get smashed visors. This shows how strong the Metaroids are getting... the episode happens to be the debut of the 4th and 5th rangers. It also happens to Ryuuji in mission 46. It happens to all three main Rangers in the finale.
- Power Rangers:
- Lost Galaxy - During the final battle with Trakeena, Leo uses his Super Mode armor to grab her and fires at point-blank rage. At first, his teammates aren't sure he survived, but he staggers out of the rubble with half his visor blown off, and gives an epic thumbs up.
- Lightspeed Rescue - This is how Captain Mitchell finds out who the new Titanium Ranger really is. It's his son.
- Time Force - This is how Wes's father finds out that his son is a Ranger.
- This was a shot-for-shot remake of a scene from Mirai Sentai Timeranger. Including the fact that you could only a small part of his face, and the dad was a good ten yards away or more.
- Psycho Pink of Power Rangers in Space gets her helmet cracked, but you don't get to see through it. The same cracked helmet prop is reused a season later, when she (barely) survives the combined finishing moves of the Space and Galaxy Rangers, and seeks payback.
- In Kamen Rider Decade, Yuusuke, wearing the G3-X armor, is attacked by one of the Lords and part of the faceplate is damaged in the process.
- In Kamen Rider Gaim, Mitsuzane blows off half of Takatora's faceplate at the end of their duel.
- See also: In Case of Boss Fight, Break Glass.
- Used in first person in Star Wars: Republic Commando. The leader of Delta Squad will get cracks and chips on his visor when taking damage, which will be quickly repaired as the helmet's systems re-surface the visor.
- Used on the cover of Haze. Not that it ever actually happens in the game.
- In StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, a scene near the end of the game shows the aftermath of a battle, with many broken and imobile suits of Terran power armor strewn across the ground. One prominent shot shows a large hole shot through the characteristic domed visor.
- A news report in Heart of the Swarm symbolizes a report on Jim Raynor's faked execution with a shot of his suit with a bullet through the faceplace.
- A few examples in Halo: Reach:
- Noble Six's helmet is shown as a Dead Hat Shot In Medias Res during the opening cutscene, half buried in the dirt, lying alone and abandoned on a charred battlefield.
- Seen from first person when Noble Six is making a Last Stand against the Covenant, and we learn why the helmet was discarded as shown in the opening.
- In the trailer for the next-gen Halo, Master Chief's visor is cracked. He sports the look in-game during Halo 5: Guardians after Locke kicks him in the face.
- In Call of Duty: Black Ops, one mission requires you to wear an NBC suit during a chemical attack. You're still fighting, though, and as you take damage, your faceshield will crack. While your health will regenerate normally, your faceshield won't, meaning that if you take too much damage in the entire sequence, you'll die from exposure to the chemical agent.
- Also briefly appears Modern Warfare 3, in first person, when Price's Juggernaut suit is damaged by helicopter rockets in the final mission.
- Black Ops II also briefly uses this in the final level, where the player and his team are dropping into the area by way of some form of jetpack with helmets/rebreathers as missiles explode in the air along your path; flying through the explosions damages you and causes minor cracks to appear at the edges of your vision, though not enough to actually break it if you get killed on the way down.
- During the "Bring Down the Sky" mission in Mass Effect 1, a survivor of the attack mentions that the Batarian terrorists killed engineers working vacuum by smashing their faceplates.
- The Game Over screen in Metroid Prime.
- In Metroid Prime 2: Echoes Samus comes across the leader of a group of Federation Marines on planet Aether. His faceplate is broken, so you know he's dead.
- In FEAR 2: Project Origin, the screen cracks when Becket dies, representing his Cool Shades that give him his HUD being broken.
- In Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light, this is a gameplay mechanic similar to the Black Ops example above when you go above ground: your gas mask will start to crack and break as you take damage while wearing it. As it gets closer to breaking, it becomes less effective, and when it has a hole punched in it, it's done for and you have to find another in less than thirty seconds.
- The mask of Yasha, which symbolizes his allegiance to the Seven Deities in Asura's Wrath, takes more and more damage throughout the game, at one point being removed when he joins Asura in opposing his bosses, before finally shattering completely when Yasha finally dies in Episode 21.
- In the Macintosh FMV shooting gallery game Blood Bath, the screen cracks when you get hit, and displays a blood splatter when you are killed.
- In Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun the Nod campaign starts with a pan shot to a fallen Nod trooper, who's helmet is blown open. Unlike most other instances of this trope, if you look closely you can see the remains of the guy's face (it ain't pretty). This is intentionally juxtaposed with Nod Propaganda being broadcast over the trooper's transmitter, which leads into the actual intro.
- Happens to Cpt. Mitchell in one of Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2's later missions, also wrecking your HUD.
- The Bulldozer units in PAYDAY: The Heist can have its faceplate broken when shot at enough times, allowing you to do massive damage afterwards. in PAYDAY 2, Bulldozers have several layers of faceplates and when you break them all, you can see the unit's face.
- In Deus Ex: Human Revolution while infiltrating a TYM factory in Hengsha, Jensen comes across a TYM employee who just got caught in an industrial accident. He is trapped in a room full of toxic gas, and something smacked him across the head and broke the clear visor of his Hazmat Suit. He has a secondary rebreather beneath that, but it is clearly not as effective without the suit's seal, and the man is running out of time.
- In Battle Zone 1998, the first NSDF Europa mission ends with a shot of a Cosmo Colonist Army trooper with his helmet shattered, his face bloating out and freezing simultaneously in the vacuum. In Battlezone II: Combat Commander, mission failure with the ISDF results in a shot of your character's head exploding out through the Latex Space Suit's faceplate while the rest of their body melts.
- In Narbonic, the state of Dave's eyeglasses symbolizes the state of his sanity. For most of the comic's run, his glasses are intact but represented as opaque. Towards the end when Dave finally realizes the great secret responsible for much of his life's path, his glasses are suddenly represented as clear, showing that he can see clearly now. And then one of the lenses cracks, as a not-so-subtle way to show that Dave is half-cracked.
- Mistress Butterfly of Collar 6 cements her status as a Big Bad by shattering the cyclops like faceplate of a supposedly powerful member of the association called a Judicatrix.
- May from Supernormal Step.
- An early page of Terra has resident Friendly Sniper Grey O'Shea save one of his unit by putting a round through the faceplate of an Azatoth soldier.
- This happens to Noisemaster in Cucumber Quest after his attack on Nautilus is unexpectedly blocked. It also marks the end of his silly DJ persona as his Kill Sat is fully charged and counts down to fire on the Melody Kingdom.
- Red vs. Blue: Revelation has one near the end of the season: The Meta manages to drive a spiked A.I. containment unit into Tex's visor, smashing a large round hole into the front of it and absorbing her into the unit. note
- It shows up again after York's injury in the sparring match in season 9, where he loses vision in one eye and gains some serious scars.
- In the Dornian Heresy (an Alternate Continuity of the Horus Heresy), Sanguinius came into the care of the Baalite mutants who called themselves the Changed. With Sanguinius's help, the Changed defeated the Faceless Ones and piled their smashed rad-suit helmets at the base of Angel Falls.
- In Transformers Cybertron, Optimus Prime's mouthplate is shattered during the final battle, although he is the victor. Galvatron dies though.
- During Optimus's death sequence in Transformers Armada, his faceplate cracks apart up-close before he crumbles into dust.
- In Transformers Prime, Soundwave gets slashed across his faceplate by Wheeljack, shortly before Wheeljack headbutts him hard enough to badly crack it. However, Soundwave shows pretty much no reaction to the damage and manages to narrowly win their battle.
- When T'Chaka (the previous Black Panther) is killed by Man-Ape in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, his mask falls to the ground and symbolically shatters.
- A scene of Clone Wars sees General Grievous grasping a clone trooper's head with his clawed foot and smashing him against a wall so hard that his helmet shatters and his jaw is visible. There's no blood, but it's reasonable to assume that the trooper is down for good.
- On Episode 7 of The Legend of Korra, police chief Lin Beifong beats an Equalist Mini-Mecha by metalbending her cables into punching daggers and smashing through the faceplate, attacking the operator.
- In BIONICLE 2: Legends of Metru Nui, Jaller's mask is damaged during the Great Rescue. Vakama promptly gives Jaller Lhikan's mask.