Even in a world of bondage, no one likes being hit in the face.
"Not the face!"
— Every character on this pagenote
A character does not want to be struck or injured in a certain manner. They could have a low pain tolerance in general, or they may be able to take punishment, but not that
specific punishment. In these cases, it isn't uncommon to hear a character desperately shout this Stock Phrase
at their attacker.
Usually the character gets hit in the face anyway. Often subverted when it turns out that the character's pleas were just Briar Patching
Can involve, but doesn't demand, A Handful for an Eye
, Boom, Headshot
, and if someone's being particularly vindictive, Face Palm of Doom
. Compare Ow, My Body Part!
, Oh God, with the Verbing!
, Nobody Touches the Hair
. Not to be confused with actually going inside the face
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Anime & Manga
- In the Love Hina manga, Keitarō tries to spank Sarah, who promptly exclaims, "Nooo, not the buttocks!" Turns out she has a panda-shaped birthmark on one of her buttocks.
- Brook from One Piece does not want you to mess with his Funny Afro. To be fair with him, it will never grow back if cut, and he needs it for Laboon to recognize him.
- Conrad in Rune Soldier Louie: "Not the face! Please, anywhere but the face!"
- Grell from Black Butler yells this when Sebastian is about to hit. He of course gets hit several times in the face.
- Naruto: When Sasuke is hunting down escapees from Orochimaru's lab, amongst the screams one person can be heard shouting, "Please, please, not the face!" It rather undermines the drama of the situation.
- M.O.D.O.K. screams this when Squirrel Girl's sidekick Tippy-Toe jumps on him. Given that he's about 90% face, it's surprising he doesn't do this more often.
- Moon Knight gets this a lot. He rarely listens.
- A corrupt cop repeatedly begged the (Ultimate) Punisher not to shoot him in the face. He knew he was going to die, but wanted to be shot in the heart or strangled so at least his mother could identify him. Frank's Response?
Punisher: Face it is, then.
- Although he never openly said anything of this nature, Tim Drake occasionally worried about this when out superheroing — mainly because a teenage boy having visible bruises invited uncomfortable questions.
- Arkham Asylum: Living Hell has a vicious outbreak of all of the inmates from their cells, and the guards are getting their asses kicked until head guard Aaron Cash arrives, giving the following scene:
Junkyard Dog: Aw, man! Not you! Wait... just not the face!
Cash: You giving me orders, Dog?! CRACK
- The Trope Codifier likely comes from Arthur from The Tick comic series. He shouted "Not in the face!" as a potential battle cry. The cartoon turned it into more of a Running Gag.
- In Wanted, Doll-Master asks Mr. Rictus that he leaves his face intact while killing him. He already knows that he's gonna die — he just wants to make sure his family finds a relatively peaceful body. Mr. Rictus then spectacularely kicks the dog and reveals that he already killed them.
Films — Animation
- A subversion in Felix the Cat: The Movie: one of the Mizards tells Felix (whom they thought, because he's a cat, he plans to eat them) not to eat his tail first. Because he lost many tails, which takes a long time for a new one to grow.
- "Hey, not in the face, pal!" Said during a fight in The Brave Little Toaster... by Radio, the only character who does not have any sort of face at all.
- On Treasure Planet, the robot B.E.N. shouts it when captured by pirates.
Films — Live-Action
- And at the end of the movie...
Hallenbeck: (to the ingrate Senator whose life he helped save) Head or gut?
Sen. Baynard: Huh? (gets punched in the face and the gut)
- In the book version of The Godfather, Johnny Fontane's movie-star wife tolerates his beating her — but "not in the face, I'm making a picture."
- Through his career, legendary British heel Mick McManus HATED anyone messing with his ears (apparently they were extra sensitive). The inevitable result was many matches where his ears became the sole focus of his opponents, much to the delight of the fans.
- When Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake returned to wrestling in 1993, many of his matches had a stipulation that he couldn't be hit in the face. Justified in that he had (legitimately) destroyed his face in a parasailing accident and had to have screws inserted, and too much trauma would've destroyed his face again. It was only a matter of time where – in Kayfabe, of course – this would be averted … and it was, when Ted DiBiase interfered in Irwin R. Shyster's match against Beefcake and struck him head-on with a metal briefcase, this after Beefcake had Shyster ready for a free haircut.
- Chris Nowinski wore a plastic face mask claiming his reconstructive surgery (or something) was too expensive to be hit in the face. Naturally, Scot Steiner hit him in the face on every opportunity he had, which made Chris get a metal face mask which he used as a weapon. (Too bad the Dudleys were on its receiving end instead of Scott)
- Sensational Sherri placed a stipulation in the match between Shawn Michaels and Rick Martel at SummerSlam 1992 that neither was supposed to hit the other in the face.
- "Dashing" Cody Rhodes, who plays a slightly toned down Gorgeous George gimmick, started doing this in a team elimination match in Survivor Series (2010) after getting slapped in the face. He leaves the ring to make sure it didn't leave a mark and even starts crying. Then Rey Mysterio Jr broke his nose. Cody Rhodes did not react well.
- WWE NXT features Tyler Breeze, a narcissistic Gorgeous George type who struts around like a supermodel and is always taking pictures of himself. For a while he went absolutely ballistic if his face was hurt in a match, but as the character became more serious this element was gradually dropped.
- This is an aspect of The Miz's "Hollywood Megastar" persona, beginning in summer 2014. In backstage interviews he refers to his face as "the moneymaker" and stresses that he can't allow any harm to come to it. He'll even retreat from the ring if he fears his opponent might target his face.
- Tales of Symphonia: This is one of Zelos' "ouch" phrases.
- Super Punch-Out!!: Narcis Prince is, as his name suggests, overly protective of his beautiful face. Punching him there pushes his Berserk Button — he Turns Red and becomes very aggressive, while at the same time dropping his defenses and becoming much easier to fight.
- Vega of the various Street Fighter games. He goes so far as to wear a metal mask to protect his face from damage. In Vega's case, though, it has nothing to do with the pain of being hit: he just doesn't want his face damaged since he's a hopeless narcissist.
- Variant: In the ending cinematic of Final Fantasy VI, Mog is literally hanging by a hair after being saved from a Bottomless Pit, but he still cries: "Not the hair!"
- Jedi Outcast had a line "Please! Noble Jedis! Not in the faces!"
- In Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, Amazing Spidey will occasionally shout "Not the face!" when the player doesn't dodge enemy attacks.
- Inverted with Face McShooty in Borderlands 2. Not only does he want to be shot in the face, but he becomes irritated with the player if shot anywhere else.
- Red vs. Blue:
- The reds have Tex captured, and they unload her ammo (the game engine didn't allow people to be unarmed). Grif taunts Tex finding out that she's a girl.
Tex: Hey, punk. I don't need a weapon to kill you.
Grif: Yeah, right. What're you gonna do, punch me?
(Tex silently motions towards Grif)
Grif: (hastily stepping back) AAAARGH! Not the face!
- Before this occurs, Simmons gets hit in the back of his head, stating "Oh geez, the back of my head!" When Church goes back in time, Simmons wakes up only to get hit in the face, this time saying, "Oh geez, the front of my face!"
- Arthur's battlecry on The Tick, as mentioning above.
- The Simpsons:
- At the end of an episode of Johnny Bravo (in which he has dressed up as a Barney-like dinosaur) he yells at the kids jumping on top of him "Not the face! Not the face!"
- One episode of Doug has the title character get harassed by another student leading up to a fight. At the time of the confrontation, the guy ends up being a complete wuss and even tells Doug to hit him in the arms because his stomach wasn't feeling so great.
- King of the Hill:
- Cotton once says that he would take a bullet for Bobby, except in the face, because "that's how I makes my livings."
- Hank also displays this trope in one episode when he got a nose job after it was broken during football practice. He admires his new nose so much that he goes to great lengths to protect his face so that his new nose doesn't get damaged.
- After Hank and the gang make a golf course out of the alley, they invite Kahn to be a member. When Kahn answers the door to Hank holding a golf club, he automatically says "Oh please! Not in the face!"
- In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy Christmas Special, Grim requests the vampire elf bats attacking him (long story) to not target his face.
- In Megas XLR, it tends to come from Gorrath's second in command near immediately after he calls out his superior's commands.
- Justin and Chris both do this on Total Drama Action''.
- In Jumanji animated, episode 17, Peter has been frozen solid (long story). Alan and Judy end up using him as a bridge; when walking across him he remarks, "Not the face, not the face!"
- Codename: Kids Next Door: When Laura Limpett becomes the Big Badolescent after tasting the Delightful Children's cake (angry that it has coconut in it), she advances on them menacingly. The Delightful Children, in unison, say "Not in the face! Not in the face!"
- Plankton shouts it as he is about to be stepped on in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Sleepy Time".
- Vanity in The Smurfs episode "Chlorhydris' Lost Love" says this when he gets hit in the face with a tomato by the Smurfs affected by the black heart arrow.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Keep Calm and Flutter On", Rarity pleads "Not the dress! NOT THE DRESS!" to the animated soup tureen spitting on everypony.
- When Joachim Murat (one of Napoleon Bonaparte's generals, as well as his brother-in-law) was executed by firing squad for sedition against the Kingdom of Naples, he specifically said "Aim for the heart, but avoid the face". Although Murat was considered something of a vain dandy, this was more an example of him being flippant in the face of death to cap off a long life of general badassery.
- At the battle of Pharsalus, Julius Caesar directed his pikemen to aim at the faces of Pompey's cavalrymen, guessing (correctly) that they would fear disfigurement more than death.