troperville

tools

toys

SubpagesImageLinks
Main

main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Nightmare Face
"Can I be scary? Well, whaddya think of this?"

The human face is supremely important on a social and biological level. Most of our non-verbal communication comes from reading subtle facial movements, and its importance in our cognitive thinking is best shown in our tendency to see faces in inanimate objects (think of how many times you've looked at a rock face and thought you'd seen two eyes and a mouth). So there's something genuinely disturbing to most people about seeing a face visibly distorted, mutated, or rearranged ... so, naturally, this type of Body Horror is one of the most common Horror Tropes.

A sister trope and effective primary component of Nightmare Fuel.

It is in fact at least Older Than Feudalism — armies the world over have based their war masks around this trope, and in mythology and folklore, just about any self-respecting demon or supernatural evil will have one.

More recently, it has also become a staple of Surreal Horror.

This is a main symptom of Coming Back Wrong. Most humanoid examples of Our Monsters Are Weird will fit this trope.

Sub Tropes include:

See also:
  • This trope's well-meaning (but still scary) sister, The Grotesque
  • Uncanny Valley, which usually ends up here by accident.
  • Game Face, which comes into play when a supernatural villain disguised as a human flashes his true form's Nightmare Face to scare someone.
  • Demon Head, cousin to this trope.
  • Take Our Word for It, when the face is too grotesque to even show.

Interesting tidbit: this is one theory as to why so many people are afraid of clowns. Exaggerated mouths, bulbous noses, and pin-prick eyes are downright terrifying to young children who haven't yet figured out that the person is wearing make-up and not deformed.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Dragon Ball Z, it is very uncommon to see Nightmare Faces. However, several insane expressions and facial deformities that makes Super Buu/Kid Buu are quite disturbing, which makes him the most frightening villain in the series.
  • Bakemonogatari: Kanbaru makes a few during her fight with Koyomi.
  • In Parasyte, many of the mutants suffer from this trope. This is primarily due to the fact that the titular Parasytes are shapeshifting creatures that take over a host body by invading, absorbing, and replacing the head, then change the head into whatever form is necessary for combat and/or consuming its victims.
  • Very often in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Some of the Ax-Crazy expressions get really weird. Here's a good example.
    • Umineko no Naku Koro ni also makes use of this; a couple of times, the first twilight murders have all had their faces plowed in.
  • D.Gray-Man is very, very good at this. Half the Akuma qualify, and even they have nothing on the Millennium Earl. As he would probably say: <3
  • Fullmetal Alchemist also likes this. Besides a certain failed attempt at human transmutation, Envy's One-Winged Angel form is covered in screaming, melting faces begging for release from their torture. Oh, and there's the Cyclops army, whose stunning good looks have led the fandom to conclude that they're the illicit love children of Mass-Production EVAs and zombies.
  • Hellsing has a lot of characters with these. Like Alucard's face on the first series box
  • This is Renton from Eureka Seven.This is Renton when he sees a hallucination while mercilessly ripping apart an LFO in Episode 20. Any questions?
  • Anyone going crazy in Soul Eater. It's a combination of Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises, a Slasher Smile, and extreme violence in large quantities. In fact, Soul Eater likes to do this A LOT, both in its manga and subsequent anime adaptation, though here they are trying to be covered up by a Slasher Smile.
    • Also, Asura's smile. Seriously, just... just look at it.
    • Crona becomes a master of this as the series goes on and he/she succumbs to the Black Blood more and more.
  • Initially just played with in Bleach; instead of horrifically deformed faces, it's instead had a number of horrifying expressions mainly given out by Hollow Ichigo and Mayuri Kurotsuchi, so those never really counted as much as the other examples... until this happened.
    • How about this then.
    • Unohana manages to have one of the most unsettling looks upon her face in the entire manga after her past self was revealed. Take a peek.
    • Äs Nödt might have just won the prize for scariest face after the release of his Vollständig, Tatar Foras. Knock yourself out here and here.
  • As mentioned above, the MP-EVAs, which are basically Humongous Mecha straight out of the Uncanny Valley and grinning like madmen. Some of Asuka and Shinji's Freak Out faces may also count, and the (thankfully brief) shot of Asuka as a maggot-filled corpse in a particularly Mind Screw-y sequence in The End Of Evangelion definitely does.
  • K from Shin Sekai Yori has an absolutely terrifying one. He has his eyes rolled back, his face pale, and sports a Slasher Smile if there ever is one when he slaughtered 1,000 villagers. On the first day of his rampage alone.
  • Barefoot Gen has *lots* of this, what with people's eyes melting out of their sockets, faces burned off, etc.
  • Shows up a few times in Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest. Haguro and Ryuuko in particular are very good at making these kinds of faces.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Yami Bakura and Yami Marik have the tendency to make these kinds of faces in the anime. Especially Yami Marik since he is prone to having veins randomly pop up on his face, usually while his eyes are out of proportion and his tongue sticking out. Even the Off Model shots of their faces are nightmarish.
  • Perfect Blue: Mima sports one of these as she kills a guy while disguised as a pizza delivery guy, Rumi's eyes are too widely spaced, which gives her an eerie look, but it's towards the end of the movie where she really gets into this trope. And Me-Mania pretty much has this as his default facial expression.

    Comicbooks 
  • Jonah Hex. (That second link includes an informative essay on what the result of Hex being unable to close his right eye would lead to.)
  • Two-Face, obviously. Well, half of him. Varies from artist to artist, with Tim Sale's rendering (pictured) being particularly gruesome.
  • The Joker, naturally. Frozen Face with a Slasher Smile? Check. Permanent Uncanny Valley Makeup? Check. Looks like a Monster Clown from your worst nightmares? Fucking check.
  • Another Batman villain of lesser renown, the Great White Shark, lost most of his face (including ears, nose and hair) after being locked in a freezer and has since filed his teeth into points. As a result, he's nothing to scoff at, either.
  • Vos. Oh sweet holy crap, Vos. Vos is a Decepticon Justice Division member from Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, and he combines Cold-Blooded Torture with this trope. Transformer faces have been pretty ugly before, but somehow this takes The Blank, inverts the concept of the Face Stealer (a Face Giver, perhaps?), and comes out the other side unsettling and terrifying.
    Vos: wear. my. faaaace.
  • Implied for Doctor Doom of Marvel Comics; first he gets his face scarred up by being caught next to an exploding machine (though precisely how badly scarred varies), and then he, in some tellings at least, puts his trademark metal facemask on. While it's still red hot.
  • In Death Of The Family there is a very good chance that at some point, the Joker's...face is going to be shown. When that happens, it will not be a pretty sight.
    • To those not in the loop, Joker's face was last seen HAVING BEEN CUT OFF prior to this arc.
  • Judge Fear, one of the Dark Judges in Judge Dredd, is able to kill by simply revealing his face, though the reader never sees it. Averted once by Dredd himself. [1].
  • Raghor's face is usually under a helm,but when he takes it off...not only he seems to be completely scarred,but he also has Medusa-like tentacles.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • In Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk, the main character's lower jaw is shot off. This fanmade image (WARNING: gory/NSFW) gives a pretty good idea of why this is a bit of an upsetting thing.
  • Redwall's Slagar the Cruel has a badly mutilated Two-Faced look thanks to a snakebite in his youth.
    • Riggu Felis from High Rhulain is probably even worse. After having his face raked by an osprey's talons, he is described as looking like this: "The black-and-grey-striped fur was normal from ears to eyes, but below that it was red, glistening flesh and bone. The whole muzzle, nose, and upper lip had been torn off. Half of the warlord's face was a frightful mask - a spitting, bubbling skeleton, as he continualy sucked air to breathe."
  • The Phantom of the Opera. This is the primary cause of Erik's tragedy (which makes all the slightly-marred-prettyboy adaptations that much more galling).
  • Sandor "The Hound" Clegane from A Song of Ice and Fire, who had the left half of his face burned off by his older brother when he was a kid.
    • And let's not forget about Lady Stoneheart formerly known as Catelyn Stark, who, before having her throat cut, tore up her own face out of grief and insanity, and was then thrown in the river, where she spent considerable time before being resurrected. The result is not pleasant.
  • "The Dream" from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Let's just say the pale woman from the original edition will make you wish you slept with a Warhammer 40,000 weapon next to your bed.
    • Also, the illustration from The Haunted House. We would post a link, but we're too scared to search.
  • Quasimodo in Victor Hugo's novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame is described as being so ugly, people mistake him for the Devil.
  • Voldemort is described as having a face like a skull, with glowing red eyes and slits for nostrils. It's hinted that his involvement with the Dark Arts warped him; in later books it's explained that he got this way by splitting his soul to achieve immortality through his Horcruxes—he actually used to be handsome as a young man. Ralph Fiennes does a pretty good job of conveying this description in the movies.
  • Menshikov from The Kane Chronicles, whose face was burned when he tried and failed to awaken Ra.
    • A heroic example can be found in Bes, whose trademark attack is to scare the shit out of his opponent by distorting his face hideously and screaming "BOO!" Not that he's that handsome when he's not making that face.
    • From the first book (and second to an extent) there is a demon named Face-Of-Horror who is Exactly What It Says on the Tin and worse. Compared to how other demons can be called Death-to-Corks and have corkscrews or other objects (or limbs) replacing their heads, Face-Of-Horror is a legitimately terrifying demon.
      • If any of you are wondering what Face of Horror looks like- scaly, clawed talons instead of feet, and his face seems to have all the skin torn off, leaving only muscle. Anyone else reminded of a certain monster from Attack on Titan?

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Empty Child" the gas mask forces itself out of the mouth and over the victim's face with an audible cracking of the bones.
    • In "Forest of the Dead" we get Miss Evangelista's horribly distorted face in the virtual reality.
    • The infectees in Russell T Davies and Phil Ford's "The Waters of Mars" with their split, cracked faces.
    • The Weeping Angels. The grey faces of a humanoid angel statue, with fangs.
    • The Silence from series 6, with their eye-covering eyelids, long faces and lack of a nose and mouth.
    • The Autons are living plastic. In appearance, they can range the spectrum from animate mannequin to indistinguishable from human. While costuming's moved on from their '70s heyday, back then... oh god.
    • The Master in The Deadly Assassin and The Keeper of Traken who, being on the very verge of death, had basically become a walking corpse with the skeletal face to match (as best makeup of the 1970s & 80s could manage, anyway).
    • A lot of Doctor Who monsters, especially if they initally seem friendly, get a lot nastier-looking when they get down to business. For example, the Gelth from "The Unquiet Dead"
    • The Siren from "The Curse Of The Black Spot" when she gets angered.
    • Subverted in "Midnight." When Skye turns around, there is clearly a new consciousness, but her face is unchanged.
    • The "Angry Face" of the mechanical Smiler androids from "The Beast Below". Their heads rotated 180 degrees to display one of two Frozen Faces — one pleased and smiling, the other disappointed and frowning. This made the appearance of the angry face, which was furious and snarling — and revealed by rotating the head another 180 degrees — a total surprise.
    • The Whisper Men in "The Name of the Doctor" have no eyes or nostrils, only sharp-toothed mouths.
    • Davros, the guy who created the Daleks, had his face (and the rest of his body) hideously disfigured when his lab exploded. Here he is.
  • The Shining 1997 mini-series, though not considered as scary as the Kubrick version, certainly has it's moments.
  • The creature dubbed "The Great Mutato" in The X-Files, a genetically-engineered mistake whose many deformities included a grotesquely oversized double-face. As it turns out, though, he wasn't such a bad guy, and in fact his greatest desire was to see Cher in concert.
  • Though obviously a mask, who doesn't wish they could forget the chilling grimace of Mr. Noseybonk from the old British TV series, Jigsaw? And if that wasn't bad enough, Stuart Ashen had to go and use his powers of necromancy to revive the horror!
  • Papa Lazarou of The League of Gentlemen.
  • Pennywise in the made for TV movie version of IT.
  • Fringe has one episode where a biological weapon results in people developing scar tissue at an alarming rate. Biggest problem with this is that it turns them into a blank, covering their eyes, nose, and mouth, resulting in them suffocating.
  • Mild-mannered demon Clem on Buffy is capable of showing one, while we only see the back of his head, in an obvious Shout-Out to Beetlejuice.
  • On AngelJasmine's real face. Shudder.
  • Balok in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Corbomite Maneuver".
  • The lion from Teletubbies, especially when he says "Where is THE BEAR?!!!"
  • Breaking Bad has a good example of this in the Season 4 finale, when Gus is caught in an explosion. He calmly exits the crumbling room, adjusting his tie and looking perfectly fine, until the camera pans around to reveal half his face missing, hollowed eye socket staring blankly, teeth bared through the distinct lack of cheek. Exploded flesh adorning his shoulder. Incidentally the name of the episode is "Face Off". Heh.
  • In Supernatural, one who has sold their soul to a Crossroads Demon and whose time is nearly up begins seeing Nightmare Faces on anyone they encounter as a reminder that their own death is coming soon. We see these from the POV of these people a couple times, twice in "Crossroad Blues,", and again later at the very end of season 3 where we see Sam from Dean's POV, his appearance briefly taking on a Nightmare Face. Happens again much later where someone sees Dean with a similar appearance.
    • Other episodes also often have the various Monster of the Week cases briefly take one at some point, usually when being confronted by Sam and Dean.
  • In The Twilight Zone episode The Masks, a dying man promises his entire fortune to his daughter and her family if they will wear grotesque masks for one evening. When the man dies at midnight, after telling them they have earned their inheritance, they remove the masks and find their faces have permanently taken on the masks' features.
    • The..uh..medical staff from the infamous episode "The Eye of the Beholder".
  • Red Eye With Greg Gutfeld gives us this.
  • The Soup, of all shows, has this in their "Tales from Home Shopping" segment. The intro for the segment shows some old-timey footage of people shopping. One of the customers' faces melts into a horrifying expression while a scream plays. It's Played for Laughs, but is arguably still rather scary, especially when they froze on the face when the intro was still new.
  • Little Ghoul on Beetleborgs Metallix had one, shown from the back a la Beetlejuice.

    Music 
  • Aphex Twin's "Rubber Johnny". In fact, Aphex Twin has played this trope for Surreal Humor and Surreal Horror (sometimes both at the same time) in most of his music videos.
  • The last scene in Lady Gaga's video "Alejandro" in which the film burns up from the eyes and mouth out.
  • In the music video for Madonna's "Bedtime Story", there’s a part near the end where Madonna's mouth has been replaced by an eye and her eyes by two mouths. Do NOT click on that image! You have been warned.
  • In the music video for "Mama," by Genesis, when Phil Collins laughs. Also done in live performances of the song as well.
    • "In the Air Tonight" does this as well. When the drum solo kicks in, Collins' black-and-white visage suddenly transforms into a blazing, brightly-colored, and VERY angry thermographic image.
  • Soundgarden's video for Black Hole Sun. It has this suburban neighborhood of creepy smiling people whose faces very suddenly become horrifyingly distorted.
  • Barry Godber's cover artwork from King Crimson's In the Court of the Crimson King, helpfully reproduced on the band's TV Tropes page..
  • The official music video (not the earlier fan-made one) for "Kids" by MGMT, featuring deformed rubber masks with grotesque protruding eyes and tongues. Then you notice that a small child is crying and reacting to these horror faces.

    Mythology 
  • The Gorgons, whose faces would turn you to stone.
    • They supposedly had been beautiful originally, before they became like this. And some think they might still be beautiful, but there is no way of finding out.
    • In the original, only Medusa could petrify with a look; her sisters had different powers (one just caused people to instantly drop dead).

    New Media 
  • Half of the creepy images hosted on the Creepypasta Wiki. Especially Jeff The Killer one.
    • Let us not forget about any variation of the smile.jpg found on that site either [shudder]
  • In Marble Hornets, near the end of Entry #22, and in one of totheark's video responses.
  • Speaking of Marble Hornets, the Observer from Tribe Twelve has a pretty nightmarish face at the end of COMECLOSER.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Villains in the original Dick Tracy newspaper comic were notoriously Nightmare Faced. This waned at about the time Chester Gould suffered a Creator Breakdown, but has returned with the new artist, Dick Locher, who absolutely loves this trope.

    Roleplay 

    Toys 
  • The Rahkshi from BIONICLE. Averted in the toys themselves (due to the limitations of toy design), but it is used in full force in the movie Mask of Light to unleash pure nightmare fuel on other characters (and the viewers, naturally).
    • The Barakki also count. They all have these freakishly bulbous, emotionless eyes that seemingly stare into nothingness. Pridak takes the cake, however, with his butt-ugly Slasher Smile, and what looks like blood splashed all over his face (which is actually his natural coloring, according to Word of God).
    • Makuta, being a Shape Shifter-race, are full of examples, and many of the fan-built Contest Winner Cameo figures have these as well.

    Video Games 
  • The Grunt and the Brute from Amnesia: The Dark Descent. The Brute pretty much doesn't even have a face, though you can find an eye and some teeth in there... And the Grunt isn't much better. He doesn't really have a jaw, it's just a flappy bit of skin. Well, that's an understatement...
  • Essentially, every single splicer in the BioShock series seems to have a gruesome, mutated face, sometimes hidden by a New Year's party mask, their mutation either thanks to their rigorous splicing or Dr. Steinman's attempts to fix the effects of said splicing, and it certainly didn't help that Steinman had his own ideas of beauty...
  • Left 4 Dead has the Boomer, the Smoker, the Tank, the Spitter, the Jockey, and the Charger. Boomer's face is coated in bile-filled pustles. Smoker's face is laden with tumors and, in the sequel, extra tongues. The Tank is missing his lower jaw. The Spitter has her neck elongated, and most of her lips burned off. Jockey's face is twisted into that of a constant manic glee, with his lips torn off. And the Charger's face looks like someone took a hammer to it multiple times.
  • The sprites for Abobo in the NES Double Dragon games give him one of these. They're clearly based on the same character's arcade sprites, but the head is enlarged and the contrast in shading almost makes him look like he's made of rock. In addition, his handlebar mustache looks enough like a severely distorted mouth that some have mistakenly confused it for one.
  • Giygas from EarthBound doesn't have one of these — He is one of these.
    • Unused enemies in Mother 3 feature this: creatures with no eyes and a wide open mouth which, simillarly to Giygas, act as a background. These have been flying around YouTube for a while.
  • Yume Nikki gave us Uboa and Face, among many other things that could also easily fit this trope.
    • Face, by the way, is full-screen. And once the scene starts, you cannot manually exit it.note  When it does end, you wake up.
    • The Kaibutsu in the Fan Sequel .Flow also count...
  • What about the extremely low-poly face of Andross in the original Star Fox (later brought back as an Assist trophy in Super Smash Brothers Brawl)?
  • In Fatal Frame 4: Mask of Lunar Eclipse, the final stage of the Getsuyuu Syndrome is Blooming, which doesn't directly affect the victim's face itself but somehow makes it appear horrifically blurred and distorted. Oh, and the people who die of this syndrome become ghosts, and anyone who just looks at the face will suffer the same fate.
  • Silent Hill 3. The final boss. It's just so wrong on a subconscious level, because the skin has a strange netlike pattern to it. Also, it never opens its eyes.
  • The Aristocrat from Silent Hill: Downpour. You meet him for only a few seconds at the end of the terrifying train ride at Devil's Pit Mine, but he will most likely remain etched into your mind's eye for quite some time: a disembodied piece of flesh draped on the cave walls, wearing High-Class Glass. Fancy.
  • The enemies in Rule of Rose are this. FUCK.
  • In Eversion, the smiling block faces you see at the start of the game become less and less happy as you evert into deeper worlds. In World X-5, they have blank, terrified expressions with empty eye sockets. In X-6, they're disfigured, as if they're melting.
  • The Psycho Heads from (SNES) Final Fantasy V. They are floating heads with the faces ripped off, with long, pink tongues sticking out. (shudders)
  • The ending of Final Fantasy VIII shows the main character, Squall, with no face.
  • One of the bosses in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, (Blizzeta), has her face flip around backwards to show a Nightmare Face.
  • In Touhou Labyrinth, Alice's boss sprite is apparently a reference to a very obscure game. For the rest of us who don't know about that (and is challenging her for the first time), her face can be quite startling to look at.
  • Wario in the infamous commercial for Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. "Obey Wario, DESTROY MARIO!!!"
  • The scary maze game.
    • Also, screamers in general.
  • Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter's Ryu and Bosch. Ryu for getting stabbed and beginning his transformation into Odjn, some sort of a super powered beast. Bosch, the one who stabs him, does it with a complete cold look without any emotion. And later when we realize he's not quite dead, he has more or less turned insane. Character designs really helps boosting the fear.
  • In Corpse Party, many of the evil spirits sport these. At times, the victims' reaction faces can veer into this, too, particularly in the manga.
  • The Necromorphs from Dead Space. This is not surprising considering they are the remains of violently slaughtered corpses, reanimated and deformed by an alien virus. The concept art is little better (perhaps even worse since every little horrible detail is layed bare for all unlucky viewers to see). Don't look at it if you don't have a strong stomach.
    • Dead Space 2 throws their face literally into yours, with the opening showing someone within kissing distance of Isaac turning into one of those face-exploder-type slashers, while still alive.
  • Lady Tsepish from King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride, whose face is apparently so horrifying that it'll instantly kill Valanice/Rosella if they look upon her.
  • During the final boss battle at the end of Super Mario World, after taking a certain amount of damage, Bowser will actually temporarily fly away in his Koopa Clown Car and towards the camera very fast, and we get to see a closeup of the Clown Car's face!
  • The Pokémon games have the move Scary Face, which is pretty much what it says on the tin: a scary glare that affects the opponent's speed. You actually see a cartoon scary face on the screen when it's used.
    • Mean Look, which keeps a Pokemon from fleeing, may also count.
  • Phanto of Super Mario Bros. 2, in contrast to its counterpart in Doki Doki Panic, which just looks like an expressionless mask.
  • Venom Myotismon suffers from this on Digimon: Digital Card Battle after being possessed by A. Most notably, an eye pops out of its Domino Mask. Funny thing is, his mask conceals his eyes behind a yellow film, so the eye popped out through the film. Lest the kids sleep tonight.
  • Dota 2 has quite a lot of examples with the Dire heroes being the biggest offenders... Let's see, here's Bane and Faceless Void guilty of the Eyeless Face trope, but Lifestealer and Doom Bringer are not pleasant sights either, and while we're at it, Undying is pretty scary as well. But the crowner Nightmare Face definitely goes to Night Stalker.
  • All the Shibito and Yamibito monsters from the Forbidden Siren series. Hideous mutations, Tears of Blood, ax craziness, Slasher Smiles, implacability, invulnerability, Shining powers, insane laughter and overwhelming bursts of Uncanny Valley are not good combinations AT ALL! Doesn't help that images of real human faces were captured from eight different angles and superimposed onto the character models.
  • Slappy from Dead Rising 2. Especially his death.
  • Aran Ryan from Punch-Out!! Wii gets some really unnerving close up facial expressions showcasing his insanity. Bald Bull and Mr. Sandman could also qualify.
  • Darkstalkers gives us Demitri's smile as he remarks on the humans suffering. It is full of dozens of sharp teeth. To make manners worse, all of those teeth are rotten.
  • Uzaza from Gyossait is a giant leering face with a permanent Slasher Smile and covered in red wires/tentacles. The game also have two mysterious horrifying faces that very briefly flash by you.
  • This is from Splatterhouse 3. If you fail to save Jennifer in time, be prepared to see one of the most nightmarish faces ever, on a FREAKING SEGA GENESIS.
  • Even knowing Shin Megami Tensei's reputation as a franchise that doesn't shy away from creepy demons and events, there is still an off-putting example of this trope in Shin Megami Tensei IV when Issachar becomes a demon and flashes an evil grin with completely blood-red eyes.
  • The Colonel in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty gains one once the player is taken onto Arsenal Gear near the end of the game and he starts calling them at odd times to deliver complete gibberish - seemingly at random, he will shift from his normal Codec mugshot to one in which the flesh on his face is almost completely transparent, showing just his skull.
  • One of the Superbabies from Sluggish Morss: A Delicate Time in History appears as one. The face is a horrifying amalgamation of a human face, dentures or jaws, and metal. It also speaks in a comparatively shrill voice.
  • M. Bison does this during his ending in Super Street Fighter II. He overlooks a burning city with Glowing Eyes of Doom with a Slasher Smile full of Phlegmings. The look on his face is slightly different depending on whether you're playing the SNES or Sega version, but still equally creepy.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show owes much of its horror to this trope.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the episode "There's No Disgrace Like Home", Homer, disgusted by his family, imagine each family member as horrible demons in his faces.
    • In Treehouse of Horror segment "The Shinning" while being manipulated by the ghostly Moe, Homer makes several terrifying faces, at one point he mocks Marge for being afraid of them, he makes one and looks at his reflection in the mirror and scares himself.
    • And in "Brother From the Same Planet", where Bart is so mad at Homer for being late to pick him up, he has a brief Imagine Spot of Homer's face burning and melting, with his face looking like a skeleton covered with blood and rotting skin and his eyes devoid of pupils while moaning "NOW HOW 'BOUT A HUG?" It's a face that will scar anyone for life.
  • Family Guy:
    • One Manatee Gag parodied The Ring; Peter watches the cursed tape despite fair warning, and the next cut we see him? Nightmare Face, just like what you might expect from a reference to The Ring (The joke is that the cursed video was a copy of Mannequin; Take That!).
    • The character of Death also apparently has on of these, causing Peter to scream in terror when he see it and vomit afterwards.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants has actually used this on occasion.
    • Probably the most well-known (and disturbing) example is Moar Krabs, from the "more" montage from the episode "Jellyfish Hunter."
    • Another is "Skodwarde", from the episode "Just One Bite". It is the page image for Perpetual Frowner. "Does this look unsure to you?"
    • Those two are absolutely nothing compared to THAT face in "Whatever Happened to SpongeBob?". The face I speak of is scarier than any of the other pictures on the Image Links page. "Is there something wrong with me?"
    • "Face Freeze!" is all about these. The problem with this one is that this episode is supposed to be Played for Laughs.
    • OVERTIME?!?!
  • Adventure Time does this entirely too much for a children's cartoon. But it's okay.
    • Vampiress Marceline cranks the Nightmare Face up to eleven when she gets angry or feeds on anything red.
    • The shot of Lemongrab with his eyes rolled back into his head, with only the whites exposed, could count as this. That just came out of nowhere... *shudders*
    • There was a deleted scene from that same episode, where Lemongrab sends a tiny candy kid to the dungeon. When the kid meekly tries to protest, LG makes an exceedingly creepy, deranged face, and the kid leaves the room in tears.
    • The Lich's face, all the time.
    • Ricardio's close-up in "Ricardio the Heart Guy". "AND MAKE OUT WITH IT!"
    • I've soiled my tunic... completely by choice!
    • Even Finn gets in on the action: during...expressive moments, his face resembles a cross between this trope and the Trollface meme.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog:
    • The episode "Courage in the Big Stinkin' City" contains a freaky one with The Violin Girl; this is made even worse by a loud, demonic scream. It is the page image for Nightmare Fuel WesternAanimation.
    • The Harvest Moon Spirit is another example. To those who have seen it, you should know what I mean.
    • Three words: "You're not perfect." It is the page image for the show's Nightmare Fuel page.
  • Rugrats: "I'M NOT TOMMY!" Here you go.
  • These three images of Ezekiel from Total Drama World Tour as he descends into complete madness from an obsession with winning the season.
  • Some of the faces the Grinch makes from How the Grinch Stole Christmas! could qualify, like this one or this one.
  • G.I. Joe: Renegades:
    • Snake Eyes is implied to have this by the unnerved reaction of several bikers who saw him unmasked. Scrap-Iron's scarring after taking a missile to the face definitely qualifies.
    • In the Marvel comics, Cobra Commander wore the mask just to stay anonymous, but in the Sunbow cartoon, the mask was to hide his face. Destro, himself masked but a normal guy underneath, is repulsed in one episode when walking in unexpectedly on Cobra Commander dining. When the animated movie rolled around, everyone saw why... then it got worse.
  • The Problem Solverz episode "Funny Facez" invokes this several times with "funny face artists." The characters find the faces hilarious, but they're really kind of creepy looking. At the end of the episode, Alfe makes the "funniest" one.
  • Transformers Animated: Blackarachnia without her helmet.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the episode "Lesson Zero", Twilight gets a Slasher Smile (here), grinding teeth, and a horrible mane when she falls off the deep end.
    • "Too Many Pinkie Pies" parodies this trope by having Pinkie Pie actually, it's one of her clones turn her face into... G3 Pinkie's.
    Pinkie Pie: Betcha can't make a face crazier than... THIS!
    • At the end of "A Canterlot Wedding, Part 1", Chrysalis!Cadence makes one whilst Twilight is basically being Dragged Off to Hell.
  • Nebby K. Nezzer during the climax of the VeggieTales video "Rack, Shack, and Benny" when he dumps Bob the Tomato as Shadrach, Junior Asparagus as Meshach, and Larry the Cucumber as Adbenago into the furnace.
  • The faces the Hitchhiking Ghosts make to scare Pete in the House of Mouse version of the song "Grim Grinning Ghosts."
  • In an episode of Tom and Jerry Tales, a shape-shifting alien takes the form of Jerry, and pulls off a terrifying Slasher Smile.
  • The Danny Phantom episode "The Ultimate Enemy" has the creation of Dark Danny. It's not the scene that's freaky (though it has its Squick moments), but the part when Dark Danny before he kills his human half gives off a face past the disturbance scale. Oh, if looks could kill...
  • Hey Arnold!: In the episode "Arnold Visits Arnie" at the end of Arnold's Nightmare Sequence Arnie gives one of these after going Ax-Crazy.
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack occasionally has such faces show up once in a while.
    • Especially a certain cat
  • On one episode of The Amazing World of Gumball, Gumball's dad goes off the deep end trying to prank him and makes some hideous faces in the process.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
  • The skeletons in The Skeleton Dance do this occasionally.
  • In the Teen Titans episode "Crash", Raven scares Gizmo into helping to cure Cyborg by lowering her hood. We only see her shadow on the floor next to gizmo, but there are implied to be tentacles coming out of there.
    • Interestingly, prior to it Robin indicates that he wants her to do this. Which could mean he knows about it...
  • Batman: The Animated Series loves playing this trope:
    • The very first episode, "On Leather Wings", has a transformation sequence that's guaranteed to frighten anyone who sees it (as well as providing an unforgettable scary sounds).
    • The Scarecrow, having fear as his shtick, is often shown inducing hallucinations of this in others. Here's an example.
    • Here's the title card of the episode "The Last Laugh"...
  • Rankin-Bass' ''The Stingiest Man in Town." has their version of the Marley-knocker. Enjoy!
  • In a Porky Pig cartoon called "Porky in Egypt", a harem girl removes her veil to reveal her ugly and unattractive face.
  • Despite being full of Gorn, Metalocalypse usually averts this. Except the end of Dethkids and Murderface after plastic surgery.
  • This happens on occasion on Codename: Kids Next Door:
    • When Numbuh 3 gets quite upset, her head will, in any way, shape or form, becomes demonic. Case in point: when she finds out her stuffed toys have been destroyed by monster lice and breaks down crying:
      Numbuh 1: It's okay, Numbuh 3, we'll get you some new toys.
      Numbuh 3: New toys? I don't want new toys. I WANT REVENGE!!!
    • And then there's the episode "Operation: P.I.N.K.-E.Y.E.", which shows Numbuh 86's reaction to Numbuh 2 calling her "toots".
  • The Pluto The Pup cartoon "Pluto's Judgement Day" in which Pluto dreams he winds up in trial in Dog Hell, the cat prosecutor makes a rather terrifying face when he says "Justice!".
  • Young Justice has a moment when Klarion the Witch Boy's face...shifts into something pointed and ratlike as his eyes go demonic. Many fans have cited it as one of the scariest parts in the whole series.
  • Several of the faces the devil or B.L. Zeebub as he calls himself makes in "The Devil And Daniel Mouse".
  • The Legend of Korra; Eska's face when she goes full Yandere after Bolin leaves her at the altar.

    TV Tropes 

    Other 
  • Some of the scarier vanity plates sometimes used these. Some notable ones include the VID Mask, the Klasky-Csupo Robot and the Nickelodeon Pinchface.
  • Most if not all the pics from Creepypasta Wiki will want to make you sleep with a gun under your pillow.

    Real Life 
Warning: Look up these examples at your own risk. Many of which are quite graphic.

  • At the time of this episode of Guinness World Records, Leonard McQueeny holds the world record for most extensive facial prosthesis. And yes...he can remove it.
  • Korean singer Hang Mioku, a cosmetic surgery addict, ended up having so many procedures (at the height of her obsession, she injected cooking oil into her skin) that her face ended up massively enlarged and disfigured beyond recognition. You don't want pictures. But in case you do, here's one.
  • Various cancers and skin diseases that affect the face can result in this. Such as tumors, which, if left unchecked, can grow to the point where a part of a person's face is swollen to the size of a balloon.
  • Not just nightmare face but nightmare head and brain too: a mistake in the womb around day 22 of pregnancy can result in a condition called anencephaly, where the baby is born alive, but without a brain. Don't search for it, the image will scar you for life.
    • Related is a condition called holoprosencephaly...well basically another name for this is 'Cyclopia'. Yeah. Guess what it does. It results from the brain not splitting into two hemispheres; Cyclopia is the worst form, but the simplest of cleft palates is the least...
  • Joseph Merrick - You might know him as "The Elephant Man". Tragically, he was treated as a freak and exploited by freakshow owners and doctors despite simply being born with a terrible illness.
  • Huang Chuncai, also known as "China's Elephant Man" Think Joseph Merrick to 10th power. And that includes woobie points as well.
  • Charla Nash, the victim of a domesticated animal attack, had most of her face as well as her right hand ripped off when her friend's pet chimpanzee mauled her in 2009. The result is extremely hard to look at; hell even her operators needed counseling after seeing her damage!
  • Raymond Robinson, more commonly known as the Green Man or Charlie No Face was disfigured by an electrical line accident when he was eight. He was never able to go out during the day, but went for frequent walks at night. He was also the subject of urban legend around his home in Pennsylvania.
  • Juliana Wetmore, as a result of an extreme form of Treacher Collins syndrome. She has a face, but it's not supported by bone.
  • Darren Bigley lost his eyes and most of his face when he was mauled by a bear in 2003. Now that he has fully (well, almost, he still lacks eyes) recovered, he looks pretty okay though. Heck, he looks like a normal, even handsome, guy when he wears his sunglasses.
  • In a similar, but more horrifying vein, Chrissy Steltz got a prostetic face (well, eyes and nose). She previously wore a sleeping mask when she went out.
  • Denise Wagoner, who was blinded and severely disfigured in a DUI accident. The EMT on the scene remarked that her face looked like "bloody hamburger" after the crash, and that's pretty much exactly what it was. Don't google image search this.
    • In hindsight, it sounds eerily similar to the case of the "hamburger lady" described in a certain Throbbing Gristle song, which was based on a real life car crash/burn victim.
    • Jacqui Saburido was also disfigured in a drunk driving accident, but is even more of a woobie because, unlike Wagoner, the accident wasn't her fault.
  • Chase No Face, a cat who looks like someone took a blowtorch to her eyes and nose. She was hit by a car and survived, but her nose, whiskers, and most of the fur on her face could not be repaired by doctors, leaving nothing but pink flesh left where her fur was. Now works as a therapy animal for people with disfiguring injuries.
  • Jose Mestre, the "Bad Face of Lisboa"(according to rotten.com), who had his face taken over be a hemangioma/AVM. Rumor has it that he died during the surgery... However, as everyone knows, rumors are unreliable. He lived. What he looks like under the bandages has yet to be seen.
    • There's been at least one TV documentary that showed his face after surgery. To give you an idea,here he is right after the surgery that removed the tumor (ie, covered in bandages).
  • Look up "keloid" (a scar that starts absorbing collagen, so it gets wicked huge. commonly forms from radiation exposure) on google images.
  • Dear God, Pete Burns. Even the botched lip job that nearly cost him his life didn't stop his plastic surgery addiction.
  • This video demonstrates how our perception of faces can be toyed with.
  • Something is very, very wrong with Newt Gingrich's wife Callista in a recent photo.
  • Google image search "Ronald Poppo chewed face" if you dare.
  • Harlequin baby - a baby with a extremely rare disease where the skin is hard and cracked, and the eye sockets are full of blood where the eyeballs should be. They also have no nose or ears. Don't look this up.
  • The "gueules cassées" ("broken faces"), World War I veterans disfigured because of heavy injuries in the face. Trying to treat their injuries contributed to the advance of aesthetic surgery.
  • If you can consider it a face, a farmer in the US chopped off the head of a chicken but did it in such a way that just enough of the important bits of the brain were still intact, allowing the chicken to live practically headless for years.


New House New ProblemsHorror TropesNightmare Fuel Coloring Book
BeetlejuiceImageSource/Live-Action FilmsBen Hur

alternative title(s): Face Worse Than Death
random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
227062
5