Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon

Splint, by LittleTLK
Image used with permission of artist and character creator, Ka1dus.

He'd stand there amid the carnage, blood on his hands and stolen jewelry in his pocket, and with an expression of injured innocence declare, "Me? What did I do?"
And it was believable right up until you looked hard into those cheeky, smiling eyes, and saw, deep down, the demons looking back.
Description of Carcer Dunn, Night Watch

Most of the time, evil characters will have a stereotypical "evil" look to them. Not these guys. These villains have the looks that are generally associated with absolute innocence. Of course, don't be surprised if they use that to their advantage.

Not to be confused with Beauty Is Bad or Evil Is Sexy, as looking attractive and looking innocent/virtuous are not necessarily associated with each other. (If anything, they are sometimes contrasted.)

Also not to be confused with the Killer Rabbit, who looks weaker than they are, but not necessarily more innocent. (And definitely not to be confused with Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, since they're not necessarily jerkasses.) Parent trope to Enfant Terrible if applied to children.

Compare Divinely Appearing Demons. Contrast with Face of a Thug. Very frequently overlaps with Light Is Not Good, since light and innocence are almost synonymous in aesthetics.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Comicbooks 
  • One such character named "Angelface" (guess what he looks like) appears in a Blueberry story, as part of a plot to kill Lincoln. He ends up getting his face shoved into a locomotive's furnace.
  • Word of God says that Kroenen from Hellboy was a choir boy before he became a self-mutilating psychopathic Nazi ninja zombie.
  • The Thessalian from The Sandman is a witch born in the Stone Age, who's managed to spend the past few decades disguised as a harmless little Meganekko. A variant; she's not needlessly evil, but seems to live in a perpetual state of I Did What I Had to Do.
    Thessaly: [after snapping the neck of a cute little dodo-creature] Nothing is too cute or sweet to be dangerous.
  • An inversion appears in the Legion of Super-Heroes story The Computer Conqueror. When one of Triplicate Girl's three "selves" is killed, the Legionnaires think that she is dead and send a memorial rocket to a certain planet. We see the rocket landing among many other memorial rockets. One of them is dedicated to "Hate-Face", who is described in the memorial as having had "the face of a demon but the mind of an angel".

    Fan Fic 
  • Machi in Dirty Sympathy is an unrepentant smuggler and murderer. Lampshaded by Apollo, who admits that he pictured the latter looking like a rat based on the description of his crimes and personality.

    Films—Animated 
  • Cats Don't Dance: Golden-haired, cherubic Darla Dimple is considered the most adorable thing in Hollywood, which helps her get away with hiding her sociopathic, sadistic nature.
  • Frozen has Prince Hans, who only pretended to love Anna so he could take over the kingdom.

    Films—Live-Action 
  • In Halloween (1978), when Michael Myers appears onscreen as a child, we see that he looks completely innocent. It may seem hard to believe he's pure evil, a psychopathic Ax-Crazy Serial Killer.
  • Jack Merridew from Lord of the Flies, at least as represented physically in the two films. With his blond hair and physical appearance, as well as being a child, he looks very innocent. What can we say about his personality? Dear God...
  • The actor chosen to play the Scorpio Killer from Dirty Harry was chosen because he had a "face like a choir boy". Scorpio is a murdering psychopath.
  • Macaulay Culkin plays a Creepy Child with murderous tendencies in The Good Son. South America even lampshaded it in their title: "The Evil Angel".
  • Sightseers: Tina looks harmless, but turns out to be even more callous than Chris, who kills a man for littering.
  • Jacob Goodnight's mother in See No Evil. At first, she seems to be completely oblivious to her son's crimes. Then we learn that she's the one who forced him to commit them.
  • The title character in Mikey he may look cute and innocent most of the time, but he is a psychotic murderous child.

    Literature 
  • A Brother's Price has blue-eyed, blond-haired Keifer Porter. He looks so innocent that he got away with torturing a thirteen-year-old girl, even though he was caught doing it by her eldest sister. Apparently he managed to convince the eldest sister that the kid was mean to him and it all was her fault, really. He's repeatedly described as acting childlike, too.
  • Played (sort of) straight in Discworld with Mr. Teatime from Hogfather, since his eyes serve as a Red Right Hand.
    • Played even straighter with Carcer in Night Watch, as seen in the page quote.
  • Ferahgo the Assassin from Salamandastron has baby blue eyes which make him look completely innocent. In case the latter part of his name wasn't enough of a hint, he's not. His son Klitch shares his looks and villainy.
  • Done by Alexandre Dumas in at least two of his novels.
  • In the original Battle Royale, Femme Fatale Mitsuko was repeatedly described as an "angelic beauty". She convinced several of her classmates that she was in fact completely innocent and vulnerable. The movie upgraded her to Evil Is Sexy, while the manga turned her into an improbably buxom, demonic Broken Bird.
  • From A Song of Ice and Fire
    • Joffrey Baratheon is repeatedly described as being beautiful, with gold curls, emerald-green eyes and full lips. He's also The Caligula, the alternate Trope Namer for Royal Brat, and an all around sadistic Stupid Evil psychopath.
    • Tyene Sand has golden blond hair and blue eyes and an innocent appearance and manner benefiting the daughter of a Septa, but she takes after her father in personality, being a cruel, calculating Master Poisoner.
  • The dandyfied young criminal Mountparnasse in Les Misérables is described by Hugo as being one of these: "scarcely more than a child, a youth of under twenty with a pretty face, cherry-lips, glossy dark hair and the brightness of Springtime in his eyes... The gamin turned vagabond and the vagabond become an assassin... A fashion plate living in squalor and committing murder."
  • Harry Potter
    • Lord Voldemort during his Hogwarts days. His charisma and the looks he got from his father allow him to trick almost everyone. This ends after his dangerous transformations.
    • Also, in the first book, Quirrell is an example of this. Throughout the book he is nervous, polite and shy, when in fact he is the Big Bad and has Voldemort in the back of his head
  • Dorian Gray of The Picture of Dorian Gray starts the novel with a beautifully innocent appearance that matches his good/naive personality, and thanks to his Soul Jar painting, maintains that look even as he embraces a life of depravity and continually betrays those who love him. Thanks to an in-universe belief that Beauty Equals Goodness, other characters tend to disbelieve all of the terrible (and true) rumors they hear about him.
  • In Rebecca, the title character is described by everyone as being incredibly beautiful, intelligent, cultured, loving, and basically the perfect wife. The end has Maxim reveal that she was actually a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, who was excellent at getting people to adore her, and delighted in emotionally tormenting him.
  • Done with an entire nationality in K. J. Parker's Sharps. The Aram Chantat are a Barbarian Tribe who serve as mercenaries with a well-earned reputation for brutality and a skewed morality that means they are only loyal as long as they are paid and inclined to fight each other when not paid to fight someone else. They are described as angelic looking (one character compares them to saints on an icon), and are rather short and have high pitched, melodious voices, which gives them the manner of children playing around during the moments where they aren't slaughtering people.
  • Agatha Christie references this trope in At Bertram's Hotel when it comes to identifying the killer. As Miss Marple muses:
    "The children of Lucifer are often beautiful—and, as we know, they flourish like the green bay tree."
  • Peter Hayes from Divergent looks naturally kind and innocent, but is actually a bully and Ax-Crazy.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One of the UnSubs in Criminal Minds was a 13-year-old boy who used his innocent looks to get closer to people and then kill them.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel: One of the titles/nicknames given to Angelus, "The One with the Angelic Face", sounds pretty nice. Then you find out just how incredibly cruel, manipulative, and vicious Angelus was.
  • CSI: The episode "Las Vegas" had Justin Bieber star as a psychotic teenage murderer.
  • Fringe does this in the episode where it appears that two men are forcing people to harm or even kill themselves, but it actually turns out to be the boy that is in the car with them. He is assumed to be the victim until it is revealed that he is the one perpetrating these crimes.

    Music 
  • There's the lyrics to the Elvis Presley song "Devil in Disguise":
    You look like an angel
    Walk like an angel
    Talk like an angel
    But I got wise
    You're the devil in disguise
  • There is also "The Ballad of Cat Ballou":
    She has the eyes of an angel
    She fights like the Devil!
    The smile of an angel
    She bites like the Devil!
    The face of an angel
    I say she's the Devil!
    She's mean and evil through and through!
  • The G.R.I song "Ugly Heart" is centered around the joy the singer feels upon leaving someone who was this trope.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Dahlia Hawthorne exploits this for all its worth in every one of her appearances.
    • Earlier there's April May, who is basically Dahlia minus several murders. She even wins the admiration of almost everyone in the courtroom, making Phoenix's cross-examination of her very difficult.
    • What about Matt Engarde? He's a pretty decent male example. Seemingly-nice Bishōnen who has been known to attract plenty of ladies. Yet he drove his ex-girlfriend to suicide, caused her protégé to try to kill herself, killed his rival with an assassin, and even blackmailed said assassin. Damn.
    • Apollo Justice gives two. The first is Alita Talia, a seemingly sweet girl who hires Apollo to defend her fiance. It turns out she was only marrying said fiance to get a hold of his money, and was hiding that he had a life-threatening injury that was due to kill him any day at that point. Oh, and she hired Apollo in the hopes of him bungling the defense and getting her fiance thrown in jail (though that doesn't work out) The other is Kristoph Gavin, a blond-haired, peaceful man who, as it turns out, got Phoenix humiliated and debarred, murdered a man, and tried to poison a little girl to hide that he paid her to make forged evidence.
    • And Dual Destinies gave us another, one of the mot hard hitting ever: Detective Bobby Fulbright, the friendly, goofy, justice-centered police detective focused of rehabilitating murder convict Prosecutor Simon Blackquill, is actually the phantom—the sociopathic spy responsible for murdering Athena's mother, killing Clay Terran, ushering in the Dark Age of Law and almost becoming responsible for the highest death count of the Ace Attorney universe yet. Subverted in that the real Bobby Fulbright is dead and the phantom was just impersonating the real him, and had a latex mask to match, but it's still chilling.
  • In Darkstalkers, Baby Bonnie Hood looks like a sweet, happy-go-lucky version of Little Red Riding Hood, but is actually an Ax-Crazy Psycho for Hire who is out to slaughter all of the monster characters. Word of God is that she is meant to show that humans can be monsters too.
  • With the Shin Megami Tensei series, we get Alice, an undead human girl raised by two greater entities of chaos, who acts cute and adorable while frequently using the most powerful instant-kill curse in the series.
  • Alexia Ashford in Resident Evil: Code: Veronica. Beneath her facade as a young, beautiful, elegant princess lies a monster.
  • RosenkreuzStilette gives us the two-faced Iris Zeppelin. She may look sweet and innocent, but underneath her cheerful demeanor lies a gleefully-sadistic Manipulative Bitch who isn't above lying to and/or murdering others for her own personal, selfish gain.

    Webcomics 
  • The Greatest Gift has Venus for the fifth story arc, "What Happens In Haygas". She is a white-furred, beautiful (civilian, meaning she's not a Physical Goddess) Alicorn who maintains a calm, soothing smile most of the time, but is quite possibly the most evil character in the entire comic thus far. This was intentional on the part of the author:
    Dekomaru: I named Venus after ancient astronomers' perception of the planet Venus in their time, which they thought was a sister planet to Earth and was beautiful like the Roman goddess. But modern studies show underneath its clouds is a chaotic, unlivable wasteland. Much like how I tried to portray Venus in my comic, as under her beautiful goddess looking exterior is a monster.
  • In Misguided Light, Albert Speer returns from the dead looking like an angel, and nobody recognizes him as that guy who enslaved 5 million people during World War Two unless it's explained to them.
  • In Satan And Me, Satan can change forms to seem more innocent.

    Western Animation 
  • Jessica Lovejoy from The Simpsons is seen like this for Bart Simpson.
    "She's like a Milk Dud. Sweet on the outside but poison on the inside."
  • Penelope from Family Guy.
  • Maryann from The Fairly OddParents fits very well to this trope. In fact, she is wished for Archduke Ferdinand to be assassinated and started World War I. Ironically, she looks innocent and proved to be one of the most evil character in the series.
  • Batman: The Animated Series has two examples, both Canon Foreigners:
    • In the episode "Critters", Farmer Brown's daughter Emmylou could almost pass for an Expy of Daisy Duke, and seems just as sweet. (Heck, Farmer Brown himself could pass for a friendly old Quaker if his expression wasn't so grim.) But not only was she a willing accomplice to her father's terrorist schemes, she was much stronger than her almost petite frame would appear, being more than a match for Batgirl. (She claimed it was due to beef steroids, clearly another of her dad's experiments.)
    • Baby Doll, who appeared in two episodes, was an actress born with systemic hypoplasia, a rare condition which kept her from ever growing, meaning that she spent all of her life looking like a young toddler. Though she looked like Shirley Temple, she grew bitter because of her condition, quickly becoming sociopathic. (And, even worse, more than willing to use her cute appearance to fool a potential victim.)
  • Gravity Falls: Gideon sure can pull off some adorable faces for a guy bent on world domination.
    • Giffany looks as sweet as can be, but don't let it fool you. She's actually an insane Yandere who's not above murder to get a boyfriend.