On each landing, opposite the lift shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.
In various media, it seems that certain powerful villains
have a rather inflated view of themselves. Sure, the heroes might have their leader's face as a symbol for their team, but the various Big Bads and dictators want to go a lot further than that, and will place their name absolutely everywhere. Their base may actually be shaped like them, the flags may have a stylised icon of the Big Bad in place of the Jolly Roger and heck, they might even have Mecha-Mooks
and vehicles very much influenced by their appearance. This trope will also always be used if the whole "cult of personality" effect is wanted, such as in a Dystopia
, as shown in works such as 1984
(along, of course, with the gigantic TV screens showing the Big Bad on the buildings and vehicles). There's also a pretty high chance such a villain will rename a city after himself
See also Conspiracy Placement
, Shrine to Self
, and Sigil Spam
When combined with a Cool Vehicle
, see Faceship
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- One Piece: Various Pirate bosses model their Jolly Roger after their own appearance.
- The main cast end up collectively known as the "Straw Hat Pirates", simply because their leader wears one, and he had one drawn on their Jolly Roger.
- The straw hat itself was originally known for being Red-Haired Shanks' symbol. It wasn't until Luffy and crew had made a name for themselves that it became associated with them.
- And recently it's been revealed that the straw hat originally belonged to Gold Roger himself, who looked shockingly much like Luffy before he grew his mustache; it's safe to say that the straw hat has a rich history that's only recently being noticed by the world of One Piece.
- DC Comics example: the planet Apokalips is simply covered with images and statues of Darkseid, usually paired with slogans such as "Die For Darkseid."
- In The Powerpuff Girls story "Spare Tyrant" (DC Comics, issue #66), Princess Morbucks has bought an unknown country called Splatvia, proclaimed herself as dictator and with an armed militia has taken over Townsville. Her mug is seen on buildings, militia helicopters and flags.
- Begins as comedy in Fallout: Equestria before deteriorating into total horror as Pinkie Pie's face ends up appearing just about everywhere throughout the wasteland, a sign of her increasing insanity as the war raged on. She was apparently of the opinion that posting her mad, smiling face everywhere reassured people, rather than gave them all horrible nightmares.
- The 1989 Batman movie had the Joker put his face on his vehicles, which is a tribute to this tendency of his throughout the comics of the 1940s and early '50s, where he seemed obsessed with incorporating his face into literally everything he used.
- Dudley Do-Right: Snidely Whiplash puts his face on everything, including his flag. It's not the face of the actor Alfred Molina, but the cartoon Snidely's face.
- In the fifth Harry Potter film, the Ministry of Magic has a giant curtain with Cornelius Fudge on it. It gets destroyed in the climax.
- In the movie Labyrinth, Jareth's face subtly appears throughout the landscape — where certain rocks line up in a shot, or depicted in shadow. Perhaps a more minor version of this, as it's clearly for the audience's benefit — to demonstrate how thoroughly entrenched he is with the fairy tale world Sarah placed him in. (Or David Bowie has a really big ego...) Or that he's scrying her in some way or another. Keeping track, so that we see him as he's watching her.
- Tomorrow Never Dies: Elliot Carver has his face displayed on banners all over the place.
- Speaking of Pierce Brosnan, his smarmy poster appears on the cover for The Ghost Writer. His character, loosely based on Tony Blair, is going to great lengths to sanitize his past in preparation for his upcoming biography.
- Regardless of whether one views the titular character of Citizen Kane as a Villain Protagonist, this image◊ certainly counts as the Trope Maker in film, beating out the 1984 novel by seven years. Since the point of the film is to tell Kane's story and let the audience decide if he is a hero or villain (or both), it is also an Unbuilt Trope.
- After taking over the city, Megamind had a poster with his own picture and the caption "No you can't." It parodied the Barack Obama "Hope" pictures in having a similar art style and a play on his campaign slogan "Yes we can."
- 1984: Big Brother is both the Trope Codifier and an enormous subversion, because he doesn't even exist except as a symbol of the power of the state over the individual. Whether the individual whose face is on... well, damn near everything, actually... is that of some leading-light from the early days of IngSoc or was invented out of whole cloth is anyone's guess; chances are even the Party don't know.
Live Action TV
- Doctor Who, Tomb of the Cybermen: The tomb complex where the Cybermen lie in suspended animation has big Cyberman-heads stenciled on the walls here and there.
- As a Running Gag in Strangers with Candy, Principal Blackman's portrait appears all over Flatpoint High; it seems every classroom has one, like the flag in a real American school, and it's even on the back of the letterman jackets.
- It reaches a peak during the two-parter where Jerry joins the cult, pushing into full "Glorious Leader" mode even as he and the other teachers and students bemoan the evils of that brainwashing cult that stole Jerry.
- The time traveling baddie Tempus had a liking for these on Lois and Clark. In his repeated attempts to take over America, he plastered Mayoral and Presidential candidate posters of his mug all over Metropolis, usually calling for the annihilation of 'The Enemy' i.e. Superman.
- Dwight Schrute of The Office had one posted in the entrance to the Dunder Mifflin Scranton Branch office during his brief stint as Regional Manager.
- In Stargate Atlantis, due to Sheppard and McKay not realising that the Ancient "game" of Civilisation they were playing was actually real, cue everyone's surprise upon discovering a nation with McKay's face on the flag.
- Darth Vader's masked face appears all over Hankin's The Empire Strikes Back pinball — on the playfield targets, on the bumper caps, on the sides of the cabinets, and on the mirrored backglass.
- The Orks in Warhammer 40,000 are rather fond of painting crude ork warboss heads on everything.
- In Bioshock, Andrew Ryan and his hated rivals, Frank Fontaine and Atlas, each have their own variant. Ryan's mug appears on Ominous Multiple Screens throughout the city, taunting your pathetic effort to stop him. Frank Fontaine's bald dome adorns the logo for his rival company, Fontaine Futuristics (which replaces Ryan's logo after you unwittingly help Fontaine in his nefarious plot). Lastly, the city is filled with posters asking, "WHO is Atlas?", referring to the enigmatic hero of the downtrodden.
- Time for another Bond villain, this time in the N64 outing Agent Under Fire. Adrian Malprave, a CEO with a penchant for figure-hugging outfits, glares down at Bond from a portrait hanging over her desk.
- In Revolution X, a dominatrix with a cockney accent (and secretly an alien), Helga, declares war on rock music in general and Aerosmith in particular. Her banners are spread throughout numerous levels, ordering everyone to "OBEY."
- Bowser in the Super Mario Bros. series has an icon of his face on various evil statues, gadgetry, and the Jolly Roger flag on the airships (and a portrait of his face on the front). This is referenced in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door; having Bowser inspect one of the many statues modeled after him will make him mention that once he takes over the world, they and other pieces of "art" with his mug on them will be mandatory in all households.
- In Super Mario RPG, Nimbus Castle's gallery is filled with nothing but gold statues of its usurper, Valentina. Mario paints himself gold and hides amongst the statues, which lacks foresight when Valentina's mistreated goon wanders in, pecking the statues in frustration.
- The Wario Land series' latest game has the Shake King's face both on the flag of his pirate ship and on the intruder alarm for each stage.
- In the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, Robotnik/Eggman's face has shown up on bases, spacecraft, many other kinds of vehicle (especially in the Archie comic), Humongous Mecha, Mecha-Mooks, item containers and even a wall decoration...
- In the bad ending of Sonic CD, when Eggman's personal transport is destroyed by the heroes, the EXPLOSION is actually shaped like his face. How or why he designed it to be able to do that, no one will ever know.
- In Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie, Eggman shoots a missile at Tails' Tornado, and the resulting explosion is shaped like his face.
- Since Sonic Adventure, Boss Subtitles show all of his vehicles are named Egg-something.
- Dr Wily is almost as bad as the Eggman, putting his likeness on many of his personal war machines.
- Gruntilda in the Banjo-Kazooie series. Statues bearing her likeness can be found all over her lair, whose entrance is also shaped like her.
- Lord Recluse, head honcho of Arachnos and de facto dictator of the Etoile Isles in City of Heroes/Villains, has centred his entire organisation's technology, equipment, and architecture around spiders, something of a personal symbol for the man with spider legs growing from his back. This, of course, reflects on the country Arachnos controls.
- Yuri in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge. The barracks is made in his image.
- Fawful in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. He even puts his swirly glasses in Bowser's own mugshots in the Koopa Castle, and his ugly smile in the statues in Peach's Castle.
- Legend of Randorland 3: Randor in the RPG (played by raocow), goes further than just pictures of himself, he makes the architecture in the shape of the letters of his name! See the beginning of this video
- Half-Life 2: Big Bad Dr. Breen has his image on propaganda posters all over City 17, he also shows up on 'public relations' propaganda speeches, known as "Breencasts".
- Weasleby's Lair from Henry Hatsworth has this on spades. The eponymous Quintessential British Gentleman claims that the brigand's state is not what he had expected, but that his taste in decoration is "as questionable as [he] thought".
- In The Warriors, Cleon's arch-rival, Virgil, has a graffiti banner of himself adorning his base. Your gang members deface it in the tutorial stage.
- The banners of the rebuilt Gobwin Knob of Erfworld feature Stanley the Tool's face rendered in a style reminiscent of some Real Life Communist iconography. Something of a subversion in that it wasn't Stanley's idea, but rather a choice made by some of his high-ranking minions when they rebuilt in order to reassure his fragile ego.
- Redcloak from The Order of the Stick has his face on the goblin banners. Worth noting that he is a Benevolent Dictator. To his people.
- Homestar Runner: The forces of the Municipality are represented by a stylized King of Town logo.
- Germany under Hitler, the Soviet Union under Stalin... you aren't an Absolute Ruler unless your mug is plastered on every surface.
- The most iconic real-life version of this trope: Chairman Mao in China.
- In the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea, Kim Jong-il's portrait its literally required in every single indoor enclosure in the country, including every room of a building, every tent, every bus, and every telephone booth. And the national flower is called... kim-jong-ilia.
- Author David Yallop (in To the Ends of the Earth) relates how disconcerted he was to find the ruler of Syria staring at him from a poster while he was doing his business in a public toilet.
- Che Guevara's famous photo is now used to market capitalist T-Shirts. The Cuban government naturally use the iconic image themselves, a big version appears on the side of Interior Ministry in Havana's Plaza de la Revolución.
- These were everywhere in Libya during Muammar Gaddafi's reign. They were cheerfully torn down and burnt by rebels whenever they captured cities.
- Used to awesome effect by a Tunisian get-out-the-vote group. On October 18, 5 days before elections on October 23 (the first since the Tunisian Revolution on January 14), they set up a giant poster of former president/dictator Ben Ali on a building near a major intersection. The result? People got so riled up they tore down the poster entirely, revealing another poster behind it that said "Beware, dictatorship can return. On October 23, VOTE".