In other words, pretty much anyone who looks like this guy.
Characters with unusually pale skin, scraggly
black hair, and deeply hollow eyes. They wear all black, and will be either The Woobie
or an Ax-Crazy
. These used to be done specifically as a homage/Expy
to Conrad Veidt
's original Cesare of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
, but because of the Weird Al Effect
, everyone just thinks of Tim Burton
movies. Typically they'll also be quite skinny
, making for an at least vaguely unhealthy appearance overall.
A subtrope of Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette
. (Which is to say, if the character's hair isn't dark or mostly dark
, they don't count.)
See Enemy Mime
, Undeathly Pallor
; Tall, Dark and Snarky
; Excessive Evil Eyeshadow
, Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl
, But Not Too White
and Ghostly Gape
Also see Looks Like Orlok
. Not to be confused with that other Cesare.
This trope can be loosely summed up
as Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette
+ Creepy Shadowed Undereyes
+ Messy Hair
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Anime and Manga
- Sunako from The Wallflower at first, before she gains confidence in herself and focuses a little more on her appearance.
- Ryuk from Death Note, who looks like Cesare would have if Conrad Veidt had been born in Innsmouth instead of Germany.
- Bonz (aka Zombie Boy) from Yu-Gi-Oh!.
- Kitano from Angel Densetsu, manages to be both The Woobie (to readers) and Ax-Crazy (to other people in the manga).
- Shinsuke from Michiko to Hatchin.
- Yukio Oikawa in Digimon Adventure 02.
- Hiroshi Chinen from The Prince of Tennis.
- Risho from YuYu Hakusho. Even more noticeable in the manga.
- Illumi Zoldyck from Hunterx Hunter's past look
- In the Vampire Hunter D novels Cesare is actually a term used to describe one particular type of servant of the Nobility - a human who has been given the "kiss" of the Noble without having all their blood drained away, resulting in a servant who utterly lack free will, reminiscent the ghouls of some other vampire stories, and naturally looks like the Trope Namer.
- Kiichiro Numabuchi from Detective Conan is a Serial Killer who fits in so well that, when he escaped from custody and the police were searching for him, he was physically described by Ai Haibara in terms that would perfectly fit Cesare himself.
- Several cases have at least a murder suspect looking like this and acting like a snarky Jerk Ass. Atsushi Moori, the snarky reporter from the Ski Lodge Case, is a pretty good example too; his "case" is really not helped by how he gleefully describes a massacre that happened in the same lodge the group is staying in, and how he seems to enjoy the terror on other's faces when he mentions it. But he was not the killer, either in the past or the present, in quite the example of how suspects like this are more often than not Red Herrings.
- Junya Tokitsu, a highschool-aged Amateur Sleuth, used to have the Cesare looks in the past. More exactly, in the flashbacks about his intervention in a case that would lead to the suicide of an innocent girl unfairly accused of murder after he stepped in. She also happened to be the best friend of another sleuth... who confronted and then killed him.
- The original example is, of course, Cesare, Conrad Veidt's Brainwashed and Crazy sleepwalker character from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a silent film made in 1919 Germany. Interestingly enough, he is specifically stated in the shooting script to be wearing makeup in-story to achieve the effect.
- However, it should be noted that the archetype of a skinny, pale skinned, ill looking character all dressed in black can be found already in romantic literature of the 19th century (generally as a ghost or a Living Memory).
- In Phantom of the Paradise, Swan's malleable musical minions in their guise as proto-Goth Alice Cooperalikes 'The Undeads' are dressed in glitter-rock versions of Cesare's outfit, with diamantés added to the all black tights+tunic ensemble. The lead in particular has almost identical makeup to Conrad Veidt's, and the stage is decked out in the style of the sets from Dr. Caligari.
- Marla from ''Fight Club.
- The Crow, who doesn't just have pale skin but also white facepaint.
- Sadako Yamamura and her American counterpart Samara Morgan from The Ring movies.
- Kayako and Toshio Saeki from the Ju-on movies and the The Grudge (the American remake series).
- Tim Burton loves this trope, probably because he looks that way himself. A lot of these characters are played by Johnny Depp in his movies.
- Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show
- Santi, the Undead Child from The Devil's Backbone.
- Arguably, Pavi Largo from Repo! The Genetic Opera is a more well-groomed example.
- Devil Doll's very own Mr. Doctor is pretty much this.
- The Joker was based upon the silent film version of The Man Who Laughs. The actor portraying title character in that movie also played Cesare. So, it's hardly coincidence that the Joker is often given Cesare's dark, sunken-in eyelids.
- It probably has even more to do with the fact that they aimed for maximum contrasts in the old-style silent films; even completely ordinary people in those movies tend to look like Cesare from the modern perspective.
- So how would the actor portraying The Joker in the 1966 Batman series fit in? His name was Cesar Romero...
- There was once an episode of Gilligan's Island that lampshaded the odd appearance of silent-movie makeup. The gang find an old trunk containing a movie camera and some old-style costumes, and decide to make some silent films with Thurston Howell III as director. We see the characters performing on a silent screen in black and white....but then we see them in color, and their makeup really stands out. They all look pale, effeminate, and kind of plastic, like mannequins.
- Dead Presidents, Allen and Albert Hughes's follow-up film to Menace II Society, was notorious for a lengthy sequence in which an embittered Vietnam vet and a couple of his friends rob a federal reserve bank in New York while sporting frightening corpse paint. Freddy Rodriguez's face paint is particularly creepy; the fact that he cackles madly after blowing up a bank truck certainly doesn't help.
- Brad Dourif as Wormtongue fits.
- Nancy looked like this at the end of The Craft.
- Craig Toomey from The Langoliers, at least in the movie version, done to imply lack of sleep from flanderized up to eleven Type A personality.
- When Loki materializes out of the portal opened by the Tesseract at the beginning of The Avengers, his eyes are sunken to an extreme degree, and his hair is even more mussed and stringy than usual.
- Nikko in The Three Stooges short Who Done It? is obviously based on Cesare.
- The Penguin from Batman Returns looks like a cross between Cesare and Orlok.
- Peter Jackson's film series The Hobbit has Radagast the Brown, as portrayed by Sylvester McCoy.
- Mary Shelley probably intended the monster in Frankenstein to look a good deal this way; she describes him with pale skin, blank eyes, dark flowing hair, and "straight black lips." Since The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was at least in part inspired by Frankenstein, that film was arguably the first faithful adaptation of Shelley's vision.
- Harry Potter has Severus Snape and the Black family.
- In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: The Raven King.
- Harry Dresden gets to looking like this around the beginning of Book 4 (Summer Knight) — he's around 6'8", very thin (as he has no money for food), has actually lost time due to being in his lightless lab for months, and his hair (very dark brown, as are his eyes) has not only grown out for several months, but is burned off in patches, producing a look that he himself terms "time to take Rover to the groomer."
- Roderick Usher in Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" has developed deep-set eyes and a generally gaunt appearance due to a strange malady that is never named. It's implied to be the terror of his inevitable death and/or complications from a lot of inbreeding in the family.
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Nico Di Angelo fits this trope perfectly. Pale skin? Check. Messy black hair? Check. Described as creepy by other characters? Check. Wears black and is a massive Woobie? Yep. He may not be an exact reference to Cesare but he fits the description.
- Effy from Skins is a female version.
- Lx-3◊, the failed Lex Luthor clone in Smallville's tenth season is somewhere between this and Looks Like Orlok. He's certainly very cadaverous.
- Felix, Sarah's Camp Gay foster brother on Orphan Black, looks like this, albeit with eyeliner instead of natural circles under his eyes.
- Doctor Who has the Fourth, Seventh, and Eighth Doctors, although the extent of their pallor depends on the light. Also, in the episode "The Doctor's Wife," the TARDIS's spirit briefly possesses the body of a woman who looks like this.
- The Cure: Lullaby
- Märchen from the Sound Horizon album of the same name.
- Rainbow's video for the song "Can't Let You Go" is a homage to The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari with singer Joe Lynn Turner as Cesare.
- TNA wrestler Sting based his current look on The Crow. He's a bit more tan and toned than most, though, which means the white facepaint and black clothing make him look more like the world's most Badass mime than Cesare.
- Jeff Hardy sported this look on a 2008 episode of WWE SmackDown!, as he got in touch with his "extreme side" to take out The Undertaker.
- Speaking of which, The Undertaker himself is sometimes an example, especially in his early days. The effect is somewhat different when the Cesare is nearly 7 feet tall.
- Vampiro, WCW's "vampire" wrestler.
- Tatanka very briefly donned whiteface and black lipstick and eyeshadow late in 2006 after he suffered an emotional meltdown after losing too many matches and announced that his degradation had awakened a "vengeful spirit" that would avenge the Native American people.
- Alma from the First Encounter Assault Recon video games.
- Yume Nikki. Masada, or "Space Piano Man" or "That Guy With The 6_9 Eyes." Kinda hard to tell though, as he is very pixelly.
- Uboa also qualifies, even though he's arguably just a head.
- Frantz from Rusty Hearts has neater hair than the norm, but otherwise fits the criteria.
- Any male hero in Fable II with Evil and Pure alignments will acquire this look.
- The ghost lad from chapter 16 of Gunnerkrigg Court. It's possible this is how he looked in life, as well.
- Zimmy probably counts too, since she has a tangly mess of black hair and eyes that look like black holes. (Not the astronomical kind.) On the rare occasions when we do get to see her eyes, they're a bit sunken. The one point of doubt comes from the fact that she has weird ashy greyish skin instead of being pale.
- If Zimmy counts, then Jack definitely does—at least during the time that he's possessed by the Whitelegs.
- The trolls of Homestuck lend themselves well to this since, as a species, they all have black (or mostly black) hair which tends toward messy hairstyles and eyes that are a bit sunken, but especially Karkat, Equius and Aradia.
- Sara from the Whateley Universe. She's described as "Gothy", but it's her actual skin colouration, and it looks exactly like this.
- Jeff The Killer from Creepypasta lore. While he doesn't wear all black, he has the scraggly black hair, blanched skin, and dark sunken eyes. Also like Cesare, Jeff even stabs people to death as they sleep!
- This is often the appearance of those who experience prolonged exposure to the Slender Man, either from basic run-of-the-mill insomnia or from "Slendersickness".
- Corpse paint. It's unclear exactly when the tradition started (Kiss often gets the credit, even though what they wear isn't really corpse paint), but by the 1980s it had become a signature look for many extreme rock bands, especially Scandinavian ones. It looks a good deal like Cesare's makeup, although many black-metal enthusiasts will tell you that it's actually inspired by Germanic mythology.
- Nick Cave, back when he was with The Birthday Party.
- Even moreso, Rowland S. Howard; Guitarist for the same band.
- Dave Vanian, frontman for The Damned, too.
- Peter Murphy, Robert Smith, Andrew Eldritch (and Patricia), Siouxsie Sioux and pretty much every other goth musician have done that look.
- And Alice Cooper, as well. Without the makeup he still has the scraggly hair and sunken-appearing eyes, but with it?◊ The resemblance is striking.
- Marilyn Manson.
- Curtis Rx from the band "Creature Feature", at least in the "Buried Alive" music video.
- Kristen Stewart (without makeup, amazingly enough).
- Neil Gaiman.
- Scott Dyleski
- Tommy Wiseau.
- Edgar Allan Poe, almost a century before the Trope Namer.
- Tim Burton and Helena Bonham-Carter.
- Stanley Kubrick.
- Rasputin The Mad Monk.
- Alan Moore.