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Broken Faceplate
That's gonna leave a mark...

In some media, particularly science fiction media, armored characters will often have large plates covering their face. This could be anything from a large bubble helmet used in a conventional space suit, to a thin strip-like visor running across their eyes. Sometimes writers and artists need to show combat damage on suited characters, and one of the most visible and effective means of communicating that to the audience is by means of smashing, cracking, or putting a hole through the faceplate on their armor, suit, or mask.

This can be a very powerful image, as humans instinctively look to the face to gauge the state of another person's emotions, and even when that face is completely concealed behind a visor, the fact that the visor is damaged tends to communicate horrible damage quite quickly. This can also be a form of 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.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    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.
  • 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! 5Ds, 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.
  • Chun-Li does this to Vega/Balrog when he tries to kill her in Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie. This proves to be his Berserk Button.
  • 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.

    Comic Books 

    Film 
  • 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 Raimi Spider-Man films 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.

    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.
    • 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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:
  • 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.
  • 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 FEAR 2: Project Origin, the screen cracks when Becket dies, representing his Cool Shades being broken.
  • In Metro 2033, this is a gameplay mechanic similar to the Black Ops example above: 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. Also applies to its sequel, Metro Last Light.
  • 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.

    Webcomics 
  • 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.

    Web Original 
  • 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.

    Western Animation 

Bowel Breaking BricksStock Visual MetaphorsPhlegmings
Body Armor as Hit PointsTropes in Shining ArmorBucket Helmet
Boom, HeadshotDeath TropesBungled Suicide
StarCraft IIImageSource/Video GamesStar Fox

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