Tear Off Your Face
"GIVE ME YOUR FACE!"There are few sights more gruesome than that of a human face with all the skin removed. Something about the absence of eyelids, lips, and the nose combined with the rather bloody results makes this an extremely powerful image. Sometimes, a character will have their face completely destroyed, while other times, their face will be cut off and preserved. The one who does the cutting may end up wearing the face for themselves. Note that simply damaging the face isn't enough - to qualify, the entire face must be removed, leaving only some combination of muscle, teeth, blood, bone, and (usually) eyes. In a more cartoony version, it's probable that only the skull will be left behind the face. This is often the M.O. of the Face Stealer. Subtrope of Facial Horror. Not to be confused with the end of a Scooby-Doo Hoax.
— Optimus Prime, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
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Anime and Manga
- Happens to Franky in One Piece. Due to the fact that he's a cyborg, the whole thing is played for laughs.
- Hellsing features a particularly brutal version. Seras Victoria finishes off Zorin Blitz by grinding her face against a wall until all that's left is a mass of blood and bone.
- Happens all the time in Franken Fran.
- In Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, Lambada has done so to Rice, although in a less gory manner — the polygonated Rice was left with with no apparent injuries, save for not having polygon edges or colour on his face. The face also turned into a nice little rectangular brick thing. It has been said that Lambada does this to defeated enemies regularly.
- In one InuYasha arc, Naraku expels his heart, which takes the form of a naked faceless man, who proceed to slay a whole bunch of bandits and rip their faces, looking for a suitable one for him. Without them he's shown to be The Blank.
- Soul Eater features Free and Eruka Frog hallucinating that their faces are being chewed off.
- One scene in D.Gray-Man has Road Kamelot demonstrate her Healing Factor by tearing her own face off and regrowing it.
- Orochimaru Naruto does in his first appearance. Offscreen thankfully.
- Done rather subtly in Ghost in the Shell: Innocence. You don't know the person is a cyborg until the face is taken off to plug in data cables.
- Hayato Jin's introduction in the original Getter Robo manga has him tearing the face off a student planning to desert his group of revolutionaries. Another would-be deserter "merely" loses his eyes, ears, and nose.
- The Junji Ito story Flesh Colored Horror has Chikara's mother rip Maya's face off (in the process, revealing she a wears a skin suit like her), in a desperate attempt to save herself after Chikara dissolves her skin suit.
- During the American Tour arc of Kinnikuman, Beauty Rhodes gets part of his face ripped off by Skull Bozu. When we later see him, he's had that part replaced by a metal plate.
- The cliffhanger to #1 of New 52 Detective Comics is the Dollmaker freeing The Joker from Arkham ... and leaving the Joker's face pinned to the wall. This sets up Death Of The Family; an event that happened issues later.
- Overlord does this near the end of Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers - since this came out after Revenge of the Fallen, cue fandom yelling the page quote.
- Optimus Prime does this to Ultra Magnus in Transformers: Shattered Glass. Before you're too horrified by that mental image, note that this is a Mirror Universe where the Autobots are the bad guys and Optimus Prime is an evil, megalomaniacal dick—one who could the Megatron of our universe to shame when it comes to really being cruel.
- The Tales from the Crypt story "Only Skin Deep" (later adapted for the TV version) features a man who elopes with a woman he met at Mardi Gras, who refuses to remove her mask and insists on consummating the marriage in the dark. He gets curious and tries to remove it, and...well, it's listed as an example here, isn't it?
- There was a Hellblazer story that featured a demon that ripped the face off an angel and now wears it as a mask. It would make deals for fame and fortune.
- It's normal for Lucifer's pal Mazikeen to be missing half her face, just don't try to "fix" it.
- Inverted in Joker - instead of the face, an unfortunate bartender is stripped of everything but.
- Black Adam did this to Father Time in the "World War III" miniseries, at the same time as he cracked a joke about Americans always trying to "save face".
- Ultimate Red Skull did this and gained his red face after killing over 200 men at 17 in order to reject his father Captain America.
- A Parallax-possessed Hal Jordan does this to The Specter during the climax of Blackest Night.
- Vos from Transformers: More than Meets the Eye is a bizarre inversion— he removes his own face, which is actually more like a mask lined with numerous spikes, drills, and other painful implements, and forces it over someone else's face as a means of torture.
Vos: Wear my faaace.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- The obvious example is Face/Off, in which Sean Archer and Castor Troy, for contrived reasons, end up surgically switching faces (and taking each other's places). After Castor wakes up and finds himself missing his face, when his cronies abduct Dr. Walsh and bring him to the Walsh Institute, Castor is briefly shown walking around without a face (literally, briefly - for the most part we only see Castor's shadow or shots of him from behind where the damage can't be seen, until Castor claps and says "Bra-fucking-vo!" upon seeing the conclusion of the videotape of the surgery.
- The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter. He does this to a guard and wears his face as part of his legendary escape. In the backstory to Hannibal, he talked Mason Verger into cutting his own face off. Admittedly Verger was high at the time.
- In Dead Alive (aka Braindead), one of the victims of the zombie outbreak has his face torn completely off.
- Jason Mewes' character gets his face torn off early in Feast.
- In NightBreed, one character starts to cut his own face off as part of his passage into Midian.
- Mike Strauber, the lunatic psycho in the low-budget flick Truth or Dare: A Critical Madness, cuts a chunk of his own face off because one of his hallucinations dares him to.
- The "Pride" victim in Se7en has her face mutilated and nose cut off by John Doe.
- In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Optimus Prime shouts "Give me your FACE!" at The Fallen. This quickly became a meme in the Transformers fandom.
- In Poltergeist one of the scientists investigating the Freelings' house hallucinates that he pulls off his own face.
- Lamon Cranston does this in a dream in The Shadow, revealing the face of Shiwan Khan underneath.
- In A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Tina rips off Freddy's face as she struggles with him. But he allowed that to happen to scare her even further.
- In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, a character gets his face cut off with an electric carving knife.
- Repo! The Genetic Opera with Amber Sweet during her "Blame Not My Genes" song, thanks to a botched surgery.
- One guy has his face slashed off by a trap in Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead.
- Preston in Equilibrium kills a dude by slicing his face off with a katana.
- Inverted by Cloverfield: A character gets everything except his face destroyed.
- In Beetlejuice, Barbra pulls her own face off in an attempt to frighten off the Deetzs. Unfortunately they can't see her.
- This is the MO of the killer in Wrestlemaniac.
- Angela rips a girl's face off with her bare teeth in the Night of the Demons remake. When the victim returns as a demon, she's still faceless.
- Going Overboard: Dickie Diamond does this to his face at the end of Shecky's nightmare, when he becomes animated in a Big Lipped Alligator Moment.
- A Jerk Ass farmer named Edgar gets his face ripped off along with the rest of his skin by a cockroach-like alien in Men In Black. It tears the "suit" off so it can fight properly.
- In Surrogates done as a Robotic Reveal.
- The killer from the half-comedic Slasher Film Unmasked Part 25 rips the first victim's face off, and then pulls his heart out, all with his bare hands. Later killings are not nearly as brutal.
- Thursday Next: Acheron Hades took the face from his dying Mook Felix and applied it to a succession of abducted and brainwashed replacements. He later threatened to make Thursday the next Felix.
- In the Laura Caxton books, when a vampire brings a victim Back from the Dead, the psychological trauma of the event causes the revived person to rip their own face to shreds.
- Tom Clancy is rather fond of this. Multiple books feature somewhat graphic descriptions of a well-placed headshot plastering someone's face against a wall.
- This happens to several people in one of the stories in The Further Adventures of The Joker.
- In 1635: The Eastern Front, an explosive trap set to take out the John George blows the face of his wife off her skull, the face winding up plastered onto the hindquarters of one of the horses hauling their carriage.
- In Changes, Murphy slices the front of a Red Court noble's skull off with one of the Swords of the Cross. Not as horrific as some examples, as the vampire in question was wearing a mask, so the actual face is fully covered as it falls to the ground.
- The Saga of Arrow-Odd: When the half-trollish Ogmund and Odd fight at Geirrodsgard and Ogmund once again realizes it is looking bad for him, he tries to escape from Odd by diving into the earth (as trolls can). As Ogmund sinks into the ground, Odd gets hold of his beard, and rips his entire face off. As Ogmund is nigh-indestructible, he survives and takes to permanently wearing a mask.
- The first and only victim of the villain in the Criminal Minds episode "About Face" is killed this way.
- Inverted in the "Operatic Orange" sketch from Sesame Street. "L'AMOOOOOUUUUURRRRR-" (face explodes).
- An underground pit fighter in Spartacus: Blood and Sand does this to defeated opponents, then wears their faces as masks.
- A Monster of the Week in The X-Files conducts a ritual that will allow him to change his face by killing hospital patients as sacrifice. In the end, he cuts his face with a scalpel and rips it off, revealing the new one underneath it. Mulder later finds the old one lying on the floor.
- The Trope Namer is "Pirahna", by Exodus.
- Call of Cthulhu supplement Terror Australis. The Mimi are creatures from Australian Aboriginal mythology. When angry at a human they may eat all the flesh from his face, leaving the victim alive but horrendously disfigured.
- This is why Iuchi Karasu of Legend of the Five Rings wears a mask. Being forced to cut off his own face was one of many tortures inflicted on Karasu by Moto Tsume.
- A bunch of disembodied hands do this to the titular character of Alice: Madness Returns during the introduction.
- In Brutal Legend, the special attack "Face Melter" (originally a generic term for a particularly powerful guitar solo in Heavy Metal) literally melts the faces off any nearby enemies who have one.
- The headcrab zombies in Half-Life 2 can be seen to have had their face eaten away (and what's left of it set in a scream) if you shoot off the headcrab.
- One of Reptile's Mortal Kombat 4 fatalities.
- One of Pocket God's more nightmarish sacrifices.
- Resident Evil
- This is the M.O. of the Identity Thief in Batman: Arkham City. First he paralyzes the victim's vocal chords, then removes the face while they're still alive.
- In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, Guido Szandor, the final acolyte you need to fight, gets "rewarded" with this by Satan, who's very unhappy that he never took notice of the fact that Dracula has been tailing him. Noticeably, either due to Guido's or Satan's endurance, Guido's face is still moving as Satan's holding it in his hand.
- Jacob from Dominic Deegan.
- In this Femmegasm strip, Grimlock tears off Fizzy McBeer's face to prove he's as good as Optimus Prime.
"Oh well. At least my breasts are okay. No one looks at my face, anyways."
- Happens in this excerpt from the Looking for Group movie.
- Happens to one unfortunate woman in Oglaf.
- In The Zombie Hunters a Mauve Shirt gets his face eaten off. He is alive and paralyzed during this process. He shows up in the next couple pages as a faceless zombie.
- The "Don't eat my face" meme, although it has a Gory Discretion Shot and ends with someone incredulously asking "You ate his face?"
- Do you know why Strong Bad from Homestar Runner never removes his "mask?" Too bad we don't get to see him without the mask on because of that armchair he got in the email where he actually took off his mask.
- Family Guy.
- Peter does this to Chris in a Cutaway Gag when telling his friends about how he is better than Chris at everything, even magic tricks. This is his response to Chris' Nose Nabbing.
- In "Grumpy Old Man" Peter thinks that one of the residents of the retirement home is Old Man Withers, owner of the amusement park, and tries to unmask him and find out who he really is. After finding a skeleton, Peter refuses to give the man his face back and tells him he is going to jail.
- A dream-controlling villain in the Justice League episode "Only A Dream" rips off his own face in a nightmare as part of embracing his new abilities. (This isn't his own nightmare, incidentally, and he does this while announcing that he's going to "perform some surgery" on the victim. It's probably for the best that we're not shown what happens to her, instead simply being told that she died in her sleep.)
- Roll does this in the Mega Man cartoon to a cosmetics robot.
- In Thomas the Tank Engine, all locomotives have faces, but this is how one of the Scottish Twins actually kills the Spiteful Brakevan (a bullying caboose) at the end of the episode "Brake Van", by ramming into him face-on, smashing the caboose to bits, and tearing off his face.
- In Korgoth of Barbaria, Korgoth does this to a thug who spends too much time monologing about the "Whole new spectrum of pain" he's going to introduce to Korgoth.
- A mountain lion does this to Chef as part of his death scene in his final episode in South Park.
- In the Courage the Cowardly Dog episode "Courage the Fly", Eustace accidentally rips off Muriel's face while trying to grab Courage with flypaper. When she orders him to put it back, he puts it on upside down then adjusts it, and predictably she hits him with her rolling pin.
- Spongebob Squarepants
- SpongeBob has had his face ripped off a few times, the first and most memorable example being in "Squid on Strike" where after getting fired from the Krusty Krab, the third time Squidward prys him off of the doors his entire front is gone revealing his skeleton and circulatory system.
- In "Doing Time" when SpongeBob and Patrick come up to Mrs. Puff revealing themselves to be disguised as prison guards, they walk away and two real guards appear. Mrs. Puff accuses them of being "SpongeBob and that guy who likes the chili" then rips off their faces, at which point they decide she's gone completely insane.
- In "Spy Buddies" when everyone is revealing themself to be someone else in disguise, SpongeBob rips off Squidward's face revealing his flesh. He then angrily takes his face back and walks away.
- In "Don't Look Now" when Squidward is stalking SpongeBob and Patrick dressed as the fisherman from the slasher film they saw, Patrick gets the hook from Squidward's fishing rod stuck in his face. When he goes into SpongeBob's house and the fishing line gets caught in the door, Patrick tries so hard to break free that his face comes off, revealing his skull underneath. He grows a new one by simply stretching the skin on his forehead over his skull.
- Peeling the skin downwards from the forehead, exposing the frontal bone, is one of the first steps in accessing the brain during an autopsy.
- At least one surviving victim of an attack by a pet chimpanzee (Charla Nash) had her face torn off. She's had a facial transplant since.
- Many, many anatomy textbooks have diagrams of the skinless human face at the beginnings of their chapters on skeletal muscles. Some even use such illustrations as cover art.
- One man had his face shredded when his rider mower overturned. Others have had their face ripped off when their hair got caught in machinery.
- Many victims of bear attacks, such as Dan Bigley.
- Rudy Eugene did this to homeless man Ronald Poppo while on a drug trip, before being shot to death by the police.
- This happened to a Russian grenadier at the battle of Eylau. He was trying to stab Captain Marbot with his bayonet, but he was so drunk that he hit Marbot's horse instead, and the horse in question (a ferocious mare called Lisette) bit his face off.