[[caption-width-right:350:[[ParanoiaFuel One of them wants to kill you]]. [[note]][[HilariousInHindsight Probably the man]] [[UsefulNotes/VladimirPutin in the bottom centre.]][[/note]]]]

->''"Well, what else is there to do when life turns on you and you've retreated into some small room? You look out your window. You see people come in and out of this phone booth. The same ones every day. You make up names for them. You imagine their stories. But eventually, you get tired of imagining and follow one of them. And you hear all of his lies. And you decide that his sins should be punished. Some guy shouting into a cell phone full of self-importance isn't gonna notice me."''
-->-- '''The Caller''', ''Film/PhoneBooth''

This is when a villain doesn't look like a villain, and is even more terrifying because of it. This does not apply to particularly handsome or charming villains - that goes under EvilIsSexy or FaceOfAnAngelMindOfADemon. Characters following this trope look completely ordinary. You could pass them on the street and [[BeneathNotice never notice them]], let alone suspect they murdered someone just the other day.

In fantasy and science fiction shows, this is often what makes {{Mundanger}} villains so terrifying. While the normal beasties the protagonists hunt down and slay are obviously fantastic monsters that don't exist in our world, ''these'' monsters could be living right next door.

Please note: The identity of many of these villains may be part of a [[TheReveal reveal]], so please use spoilers wisely.

An EnfantTerrible is usually one of these. Contrast ObviouslyEvil and DevilInPlainSight, as well as FaceOfAThug (when someone is good or well-adjusted despite having a thug face). Compare ManchurianAgent, where they genuinely are like everyone else until triggered. Related with but not to be confused for TheyLookLikeUsNow, where previously inhuman beasties learn to pass for human. TheNondescript is when their "normalness" is taken so far that people can't even remember what they're like. May intersect with RidiculouslyAverageGuy, who looks and acts utterly normal in every respect.

The TropeNamer is a lazy Halloween costume: going in ordinary clothes to a costume party, then claiming, "I'm a serial killer. [[TitleDrop They look just like everybody else.]]"

This is TruthInTelevision. [[ParanoiaFuel Who knows? Maybe one of the tropers could just be this.]]



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''{{Anime/Monster}}'': While the BigBad is [[FaceOfAnAngelMindOfADemon an exception]], the most evil and dangerous characters are often the most ordinary-looking: Hartmann and [[spoiler:Franz Bonaparta]] come to mind.
* In the "Greenback Jane" arc of ''Manga/BlackLagoon'', Jane and the protagonists are pursued by a band of bounty hunters. One of them eschews the series' ClusterFBomb style and speaks in GoshDangItToHeck terms and at face value is a wholesome, Mr. Rogers-ish guy. It turns out, he's a {{pyromaniac}} who previously torched his wife so that he could smell her flesh burn. Imagine an evil [[WesternAnimation/KingOfTheHill Hank Hill]] and you get the picture.
* ''Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure'' villain Yoshikage Kira actively cultivates this image, making himself as nondescript as possible to disguise his SerialKiller activities. This was used with chilling effect when heroes chased Kira, only to run off into a busy street and realize, that any office worker in the crowd could be him and they won't be able to find him.
** Gray Fly, minor antagonist from part 3 looks like a plain old man and deliberately acts like he has no idea what is happening, while his stand rips people apart.
* In ''Anime/DragonBallZ'', Krillin is surprised to find that Androids 17 and 18 (immensely powerful cyborgs that caused a BadFuture in an alternate timeline) look just look like regular people you'd see walking down the street. This is justified as they were once human, although even then they both happened to be juvenile delinquents.
* The Titan Shifters in ''Manga/AttackOnTitan''. The revelation that they exist becomes a source of extreme paranoia for the military, since there is absolutely no way to detect them.
** This is because [[spoiler:most Shifters come from outside the walls, whether intentionally (such as in the case of Annie, Reiner and Bertolt) or they just ended up there (like Ymir). Titans, mindless[[note]]Humans who have been forcefully turned into Titans and cannot turn back[[/note]] and Shifters[[note]]Humans who have forcefully been turned into Titans and ''can'' turn back at will[[/note]] alike, are actually humans -- or, more specifically, Eldians. And they're hated by the rest of the world for being "devils"]]. It turns out that there are [[spoiler:nine]] Shifters in total, each holding one of the [[spoiler:powers of the Nine Titans[[note]]Armored (Reiner), Colossal (Armin, originally Bertolt), Female (Annie), Beast (Zeke), Founding (Eren, stolen by Grisha from the Reiss family), Cart (Pieck), Jaw (Porco, originally Ymir who stole it from Porco's brother Marcel), Attack (Eren again, given to him Grisha, who inherited it from military officer Kruger), Warhammer (one of the members of the noble Tybur family)[[/note]] who were created after the [[UnreliableNarrator supposed founder]] of the Titans and ancestor of the Eldians, Ymir Fritz, died and split her soul into nine fragments]]. Although, as mentioned in the note above, [[spoiler:Eren currently has two Titan powers - the [[TitleDrop Attack Titan]] and the Founding Titan (which possesses the Coordinate ability and lets the holder control Titans). The Kingdom of Marley holds the powers of 7 of the 9 Titans, with the only ones missing being the Attack Titan (whose allegiance is unknown) and the Founding Titan (who was taken by King Karl Fritz into the walls of Paradis Island)]]. Essentially, [[spoiler:Titans, and those who hunt them, are all the same race, and since their distinguishing factor is that they can turn into Titans, there's no way of knowing who's a Shifter until you see them transform]].
* In ''Manga/DeathNote'', Light Yagami being the smart, charming, supposedly kindhearted honor-student son of the Chief of Police makes it difficult for many of the characters to take L's accusations seriously. L seems to be the only one who ''really'' believes that Light is Kira until very close to the series' end.
* This is a common theme in ''Anime/HellGirl''. The evil person during most episodes are often seen as ordinary or even [[VillainWithGoodPublicity respectful]] by other people, leaving the victim no choice but to summon Ai Enma (Hell Girl) for revenge, knowing they're damning their souls too.
* ''Manga/{{InuYasha}}'': Sango reflects at one point that, according to her father, the most dangerous kinds of {{youkai}} are those that can [[VoluntaryShapeshifting assume human form]].
* In ''Manga/TokyoGhoul'', Ghouls look exactly like humans and are nearly indistinguishable from them. Some humans even wonder whether they really exist, and express surprise when discovering that Ghouls look human. This is driven home when Ken Kaneki manages to score a date with a beautiful girl, and their wonderful evening ends with her trying to eat him. [[HunterOfMonsters CCG]] Investigators are trained to watch for very subtle signs someone might be a Ghoul, but even then the law restricts them from acting until they actually see a Ghoul's GameFace.
* In ''VisualNovel/HigurashiWhenTheyCry'', this is made quite apparent. Each arc has a different villain, who is always just one of the group beforehand. In some cases it's clear who the villain is, and in others the tension is increased by the fact that it could be anyone and no one looks like they could be it. Additionally, the ultimate villain also appears to be just like everyone, except maybe for a slight apparent fondness for the macabre.
* In ''Anime/SerialExperimentsLain'' the Knights of the Eastern Calculus, who form the current incarnation of an AncientConspiracy able to hack reality itself thanks to the BigBad, are an executive, a fat nerd and a housewife who plays videogames with her son.
* In ''Manga/{{Erased}}'', the culprit behind multiple strings of child kidnappings and murders is [[spoiler:Yashiro Gaku, the charming and seemingly well-intentioned elementary school teacher]].
* The BigBad of ''Anime/PsychoPass'', Shogo Makishima, certainly looks like an ordinary individual, but what makes him truly qualify for this trope is [[spoiler:that the [[BigBrotherIsWatching Sibyl System]] views him as an ordinary individual. Being [[TheSociopath criminally asymptomatic]], Makishima's Psycho-Pass decreases as he commits crimes, where most other people would have their Psycho-Pass dramatically increase if they even ''think'' about possibly committing a criminal act. Makishima can commit all of the horrific crimes he wants and still be viewed by the Sibyl System as a perfectly healthy and stable person.]]
* The Parasytes in ''Manga/{{Parasyte}}'' crawl into their host's brain, take over their body and eat unsuspecting humans. What makes the Parasyte's particularly ParanoiaFuel inducing is that; say a normal person somehow managed to escape a Parasyte and memorize their face, said Parasyte can then completely change their face and catch that same person off guard.
* ''LightNovel/UndefeatedBahamutChronicle'' has the King of Vices, the ShadowDictator of the Republic of Heiburg, who passes herself off as a plain-looking and meek soldier with a standard Drag-ride. Meanwhile, her decoy and fake boss was brainwashed into being ObviouslyEvil in facial expression and behavior in order to emphasize their contrasting outward personalities.

* Thessaly the witch in ''ComicBook/TheSandman''. She appears to be a mild-mannered glasses-wearing citizen - like Clark Kent in a way. Except for the part where Superman doesn't obsessively hunt down and kill anyone who attempts to hurt him.
** This is one of the nightmare-fueling qualities of the ''Collectors'' story as well. On one end of the spectrum, you have [[SerialKiller cereal fans]] who look like sweaty, loserish sexual predators you'd steer clear of at any costs. On the other, you have those who are ordinary-looking in the extreme... and just as vicious.
* Mr Fun from the ''Franchise/{{Batman}}'' mini-series ''ComicBook/BatmanFamily''.
* Kevin from ''ComicBook/SinCity'' is just a guy in a sweater and glasses. You wouldn't believe that he is a martial arts master, to say nothing of his knack for eating people. For extra uncanny points, it's a Charlie Brown sweater. Ratcheted up by casting Elijah Wood in the film.
* Most Franchise/{{Batman}} villains, even if they start out as relatively normal criminals, wind up disfigured and/or embracing some kind of super-villain gimmick. But not James Gordon Jr., an ordinary, bookish-looking lad who happens to also be a sociopath and serial killer.
* Kevin Thorn from ''ComicBook/{{Fables}}'' looks like a completely ordinary guy, but is in fact the personification of storytelling, whose goal in "The Great Fables Crossover" was to erase the Fables universe from existence and start from scratch.
* ''ComicBook/{{Raptors}}'': In a stark contrast to the [[TheBeautifulElite Molina twins]] who could [[VampiresAreSexGods easily stand out among the crowd]], their vampire rivals in the other hand look completely mundane due to having mingled with humanity ages ago and taken positions of influence among society. They could be fat, old or completely plain, but deep down they are all depraved monsters that delight in abusing humans. This trope is usually not a problem for the twins, since they have managed to elude their enemies for centuries, but it certainly is for normal characters like Benito and Vicky, since they don't know who to trust as the conspiracy has [[WeAreEverywhere infiltrated the police, politics, the church, etc]]. Even [[spoiler:Vicky's own family is revealed to be part of it]].

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* WesternAnimation/{{Anomalisa}}. The movie is about the a man who thinks everyone but one person looks, talks, sounds, and acts the same.
* Part of what makes ''Disney/{{Pinocchio}}'''s Coachman character so terrifying by Disney villain standards is that he basically looks like a normal, grandfatherly old man. There's no clear visual indication of his evil until he makes his Nightmare Face.

[[folder:Films -- Live Action]]
* TropeNamer: The scene at the end of the first ''Film/TheAddamsFamily'' movie where Wednesday and Pugsley are showing off their Halloween costumes to their family. When asked by Margaret why she's not wearing a costume like her brother, Wednesday announces that she IS in costume as a "homicidal maniac" because "they look just like everybody else."
* Norman Bates in ''Film/{{Psycho}}''. In the book, he's written as middle-aged, homely at best, and a bit creepy (much like his inspiration, Ed Gein), but Hitchcock thought it would be more interesting to make him look wholesome.
* Jigsaw in the ''Franchise/{{Saw}}'' movies. Extra points because [[spoiler:he's dying of brain cancer]].
* John Doe in ''Film/{{Se7en}}''. Combine a very subdued performance by [[spoiler: Kevin Spacey]] with a name like "John Doe" (the default name assigned to unidentified male corpses) and you've got a killer who is both chilling and credible.
* Creator/RobinWilliams has also played a couple of very troubling antagonists in ''Film/OneHourPhoto'' and ''Film/{{Insomnia}}'' as well. While this borders on PlayingAgainstType here, his character in ''One Hour Photo'' was scary because he could have been ''any random photomat clerk'', and he nearly faded into the background anyway.
* Patrick Bateman from ''Film/AmericanPsycho''. Bateman is apparently such a cookie-cutter yuppie that people keep mistaking him for other yuppies.
* Garland Greene in ''Film/ConAir'', played by Steve Buscemi. The other cons comment on how he doesn't look like an infamous mass-murderer.
* Virtually all of the people Creator/BruceWillis' character has [[PsychicDreamsForEveryone psychic flashes]] about in ''Film/{{Unbreakable}}'' are seemingly ordinary people who have done or are looking to do bad things. [[spoiler:The biggest case being a janitor who is a SerialKiller (who also doubles as a rapist).]]
* ''Film/{{Devil}}'', which is about five average people trapped in an elevator, one of whom is Satan.
* The Beast from ''Film/KungFuHustle'' turns out to be a dumpy old guy in his underwear. Much of the appeal in general of Kung Fu Hustle is how the martial arts masters turn out to be the most regular, unflattering-looking people in the movie, while the suave, Hollywood-ish Axe Gang are a pathetic joke.
* ''Film/TheNightOfTheHunter'': Harry Powell is either this or a DevilInPlainSight, depending on how sensitive your [[DetectEvil Evildar]] is. To all appearances, a charming and folksy preacher and the best stepfather a KidHero could ever want. Actually a KnifeNut [[TheBluebeard Bluebeard]] SerialKiller.
** A TV-remake of ''Film/TheNightOfTheHunter'' had Harry played by [=Gerald McRaney=], who is possibly best known for appearing in the ''Series/TouchedByAnAngel'' spinoff ''Promised Land''. He played a dad. A dad possibly a lot like yours. Put some role association together, and you have prime ParanoiaFuel.
* In the comedy film ''Film/TheManWhoKnewTooLittle'', the main character (Bill Murray) thinks he's in a TuxedoAndMartini simulation game and, when informed about TheBaroness, thinks that she is this elderly woman dressed as a dominatrix ("It was our anniversary!"). TheBaroness is a real person, a TortureTechnician / MadDoctor. She is a middle aged woman of average appearance, maybe even pretty, and she acts completely calm and normal. The film sends the message that unlike in the world of ''Film/JamesBond'', villains in the real world aren't always ObviouslyEvil with a convenient RedRightHand.
* Mr. Baek of ''Film/SympathyForLadyVengeance''. After a very emotional buildup, a parent of one of a serial killer's victims says, "But you look just like a normal person."
* Lampshaded in ''Film/EightMM'' when Nicolas Cage's character tracks down and unmasks the SnuffFilm performer "The Machine" to reveal [[spoiler:some ordinary bald guy with glasses.]]
-->'''Machine/[[spoiler: George Higgins]]:''' "What did you expect? A monster?"
* Creator/DylanBaker's [[SerialKiller serial killing]] school principal in ''Film/TrickRTreat''.
* In ''Film/BehindTheMaskTheRiseOfLeslieVernon'', the slasher killer of the title is, while out of his costume, a normal-looking guy. [[spoiler: Because he ISNT Leslie Vernon, he really is just some random guy]]
* ''Film/TheHandThatRocksTheCradle'', where the antagonist's true intentions are made incredibly clear to the audience and the protagonist, but the latter has to spend the whole movie trying to ''prove'' it.
* Ben from ''Film/ManBitesDog''. Sure, he's a hitman and serial killer, but other than that there's absolutely ''nothing'' weird about him.
* ''Franchise/{{Terminator}}'':
** This was supposed to happen in ''Film/TheTerminator''. Creator/LanceHenriksen was James Cameron's first choice to play the Terminator and had already appeared in-character at a fundraising event. Arnie originally auditioned for the role of Kyle Reese before switching roles to make the Terminator look much more imposing and threatening; Henriksen ended up playing one of the cops instead.
** In ''Film/Terminator2JudgmentDay'', the default appearance of the shape-shifting villain is a fairly nondescript man (Robert Patrick), as opposed to the lantern-jawed Schwarzenegger. This really brings out the tension in the first part of the movie, before the audience knows that Arnold is the good guy this time around. Or would have, if [[TrailersAlwaysSpoil every single trailer and commercial]] hadn't capitalized on the awesome T-1000 effects and the line "How do you terminate a Terminator?" thus spoiling the surprise.
* Dominic Greene in ''Film/QuantumOfSolace''. According to director Marc Forster, Greene was deliberately styled without make-up, in order to symbolise the 'hidden evils in society'.
* A nice one in the Bruce Willis movie ''Film/{{Red}}''. The operatives bump into[[spoiler: a thoroughly ordinary middle-aged woman at the airport, with the most paranoid among them insisting she's a killer, while the others assume he's just crazy. Then after she's released, she turns up again - with a rocket launcher.]]
* From ''[[{{Film/Halloween1978}} Halloween]]'' [[spoiler:in the final minutes of the original film, Laurie manages to rip off Michael's mask. For a few seconds his face is clearly visible and he appears to be just a completely ordinary man.]]
* When the cops in ''Film/TheresSomethingAboutMary'' mistakenly think that Ted is a serial murderer, they remark that they never look like how you expect them upon seeing Ted.
* In ''Film/TheWorldsEnd'', the alien replacements all look like regular humans... until they attack.
* Implied to have been the case with Freddy Krueger in ''Franchise/ANightmareOnElmStreet'', who - in life - was the janitor at the local elementary school and wore a crumpled brown fedora and a tacky Christmassy sweater, and was secretly murdering (and possibly molesting) kids for years. Of course, by the time we meet him, he's an undead monster with burns all over his body, so his appearance is a bit more striking.
* In the end of ''Film/MemoriesOfMurder'', [[spoiler: a young girl describes a man who is more than likely the killer, and says that he looked "ordinary" and had a "normal" face. This suggests even further that the handsome Hyeon-gyu Park, the main suspect of the case, really was innocent.]]
* ''Film/GhostInTheMachine'': When Terri learns that Hochman was the killer who recently died, it's noted that he just looked like a normal guy.
* While the Cenobites of ''Franchise/{{Hellraiser}}'' are terrifying, mutilated demons, most of the human villains fit this trope to a t, which is fitting considering the series commentary on sadistic cruelty hiding everywhere. Most notable is Frank Cotton from the first two films, who looked like a handsome, regular man before he was turned into a skinless monstrosity, but in reality was a sadistic SenseFreak.
* Much like [[WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender the show it was based on]], ''Film/TheLastAirbender'' does this with [[BigBad Fire Lord Ozai]], having him played by [[http://m.imdb.com/name/nm0193295/ Cliff Curtis]]. It doesn't work as well in the movie, especially given that the show made him at least somewhat imposing and built anticipation by hiding his face in the shadows for the first two seasons. In the movie, Ozai lacks these qualities. As WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic put it: "It's like they grabbed a guy at the grocery store and dressed him up as [[Film/MontyPythonsLifeOfBrian Biggus Dickus]]!"
* ''Franchise/StarWars'':
** In contrast with TheEmperor's inhuman appearance in ''Film/ReturnOfTheJedi'', the prequels reveal that he once looked like a friendly old man. Then ''Film/RevengeOfTheSith'' establishes [[FacialHorror how he came to look like he did]]: a blast of his own [[ShockAndAwe Force Lightning]] that quite literally [[HoistByHisOwnPetard blew up in his face]]. Works in the rebooted canon have Imperial propaganda (and speeches where he doesn't show up in public) using this face instead of his real one [[ObviouslyEvil for obvious reasons]].
** In ''Film/TheForceAwakens'', Kylo Ren responds to Rey calling him a "creature in a mask" by removing his helmet. Unlike Vader, he's entirely normal-looking without it, and Rey is visibly thrown that her captor could blend into a crowd so easily.
* In the film adaptation of ''Literature/{{Misery}}'', Annie Wilkes was changed from intimidating and unkempt to somebody you could pass on the street and not look twice at. The effect is deeply unsettling.
* In ''Film/CaptainAmericaCivilWar'', BigBad Zemo is completely unremarkable-looking (at least [[CastFullOfPrettyBoys in context]]). This is a drastic change from his comic book counterpart, a heavily-scarred, [[VillainousFashionSense garish-looking]] former Nazi.
* The unnamed killer from ''Film/{{Hush}}'' looks like a fairly normal 30-year-old man when he takes off his mask, though he does have a tattoo on his neck.
* Peter and Paul in ''Film/FunnyGames'' look like a pair of clean-cut young men who want to borrow some eggs... until they unleash their more sadistic side to a hapless suburban family.
* The title character in ''Film/TheStepfather'' series of movies looks and acts like an ordinary-bordering-on-ideal father figure, if you ignore the fact that his go-to solution for discovering that his latest family doesn't live up to his standards is to murder all of them and move on to the next one.
* The ''Film/{{Hostel}}'' series of movies features the Elite Hunting group, made up of wealthy sadists who pay top-dollar for the privilege of torturing kidnapped tourists... and who otherwise are perfectly normal people with regular lives and loved ones.
* From ''Film/{{Predators}}'': [[spoiler:Edwin looks and like a completely normal guy, especially when surrounded by badasses and killers, but he turns out to be a psychopathic serial killer who enjoys drugging his victims]].

* In ''Literature/DragonBones'', after killing a would-be rapist, Ward mentions that the man didn't look much older than him, maybe even younger, a mere boy. He reminds himself that the man would have killed him, too, if he had given him the chance.
* ''Literature/DragonBlood'' has an ordinary-looking, grandfatherly old man, who wants to teach his grandson his trade ... which happens to be torturing. The contrast between his genuine disappointment that the boy doesn't want to follow in his footsteps, and the fact that he is ''torturing a woman'' makes the scene all the more horrible.
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'':
** The Tickler is a brutally efficient TortureTechnician, but Arya notes that he's a completely unexceptional and ordinary-looking man while not plying his trade.
** Later in the series we meet Qyburn, who combines this with AffablyEvil to give him a "grandfatherly" appearance, masking his true colours as an EvilutionaryBiologist and TortureTechnician extraordinaire.
** Roose Bolton is one of the most evil characters in the series (even if he [[VillainWithGoodPublicity does his best to hide it]]) and is described as a man of average height and build with a plain face and no particularly distinguishing features except for his pale complexion and CreepyBlueEyes.
* ''Literature/{{Dexter}}'' goes to a lot of trouble to seem like just an average guy.
%% * ''Literature/{{Hater}}'', a book by David Moody, and the movie of the same name.
* In ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'':
** Moist Von Lipwig's period as a con man was greatly aided by an utterly generic appearance, which he supplemented with a more memorable costume or disguise so his marks had something misleading to remember him by.
** PsychoForHire Stratford in ''Discworld/{{Snuff}}'' is an unremarkable youngish fellow who looks like nobody in particular -- until he has you at the wrong end of a weapon, when he looks distinctly, awfully like [[TheSociopath Stratford]].
** {{Exploited|Trope}} by the Ankh-Morpork City Watch in a non-villainous example. When it's an open secret that they have a werewolf on the force, having a {{Gonk}} like Corporal Nobby Nobbs around to divert attention from the attractive but (usually) very human-looking [[ActionGirl Angua]] trips up any number of crooks.
* In the ''Literature/GentlemanBastard'' series, Locke Lamora is occasionally described as skinnier than average, but otherwise he has a particularly unexceptional appearance that helps him blend into his disguises.
* Dr. Impossible from ''Literature/SoonIWillBeInvincible'' is a short guy just this side of middle aged. When he walks down the street in his civvies, he's completely unremarkable. With his costume on, he looks more like the EvilGenius SuperVillain he is.
* The Yeerks from the ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' are aliens that control sentient beings by tunneling into their heads through their ear canals and spreading themselves around the brain, sinking into the cracks, etc. So the protagonists are aware that anyone they know could be a 'Controller.' Like Jake's brother Tom, their Vice Principal Chapman, and many more throughout the series.
** To really drive the paranoia home, it's not at all uncommon for the Animorphs to cause a public spectacle... and start getting attacked by random members of the crowd.
* In the Creator/TamoraPierce Literature/CircleOfMagic novel ''Shatterglass,'' the serial killer turns out to be [[spoiler:one of the Hindu Untouchable/Dalit {{Expy}} characters who have been constantly on the outskirts of the protagonists' radar, cleaning, being abused, and biding their time]].
* In ''Literature/AroundTheWorldInEightyDays'', the Bank of England has been robbed by a man who [[CriminalDoppelganger unfortunately resembles]] protagonist Phileas Fogg. The British consul in Suez remarks that the description given is that of an honest man, to which the detective Fix declares that great robbers always look like honest men; the ones who look like rascals are too easily caught.
* In ''[[Literature/HeraldsOfValdemar Take A Thief]]'', the BigBad has what Skif's mentor calls "a face-shaped face."
* In the ''Literature/ProvostsDog'' novel ''Terrier'', Beka and her mentors search for the Shadow Snake, a kidnapper and child murderer named after the local [[ThingsThatGoBumpInTheNight Boogeyman]]. They are shocked to learn the Shadow Snake's true identity: [[spoiler: the grandmotherly proprietor of the local pastry shop.]]
* In ''Literature/PerdidoStreetStation'' the city of New Crobuzon's militia forces are basically this trope. The majority of the militia is made up of agents that walk around the city like any normal person. This is used as a in great effect when [[spoiler: a strike breaks out and eventually leads to fighting between two crowds. The militia have people in both. Even the crowd that's on strike.]] They could be anywhere at anytime and you would only know when it's already too late.
* The Silencers in ''Literature/TheFifthWave'' by Rick Yancey. Used to chilling effect early in the novel when Cassie finds an injured soldier dying in an abandoned convenience store, but doesn't know if he's a Silencer or not [[spoiler: and so shoots him out of fear. It turns out he was perfectly human]].
* {{Invoked|Trope}} by the Grey Men in ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'', assassins who are cloaked in a PerceptionFilter that makes them look ordinary and forgettable... ''so'' ordinary and forgettable that you almost forget seeing them at all when they were the ''only'' person you passed in an otherwise empty hallway just before coming across a dead body.
* Creator/AgathaChristie loves this trope. The murderer is always someone who looks completely normal, and whom the reader would never have suspected.
* ''Literature/RedDragon'' spends a lot of time dealing with the day-to-day working life of Francis Dolarhyde, its eponymous SerialKiller, the sheer mundane nature of which make his horrific murder sprees all the more unsettling. In a twist, the killer thinks of himself as hideous and disfigured, because of a cleft lip he had as a child... except that it's barely noticeable after all the surgery he got for it.
* The infected humans in ''Literature/EdenGreen'' are eventually taken over by their needle-symbiotes, but otherwise appear completely human unless freshly-injured and still healing.
* Many of Creator/StephenKing's stories feature antagonists who look like perfectly ordinary people, most notably:
** The novella ''Apt Pupil'' in ''Literature/DifferentSeasons'' describes Todd Bowden as an all-American kid with reasonable grades, a paper route, and overall nothing to indicate his obsession with concentration camps and Nazi war crimes.
** The True Knot in ''Literature/DoctorSleep'' look specifically like harmless old men and women clad in lots of polyester and travelling around in their RV. They also torture children with psychic powers and feed on the "steam" they produce in order to sustain their own immortality.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* In the series ''Series/AdamTwelve'', Reed and Malloy were helping a female officer conduct a rape-resistance class at a local college. When one of the attendees asked what would a rapist look like, the lady cop pointed to the pair of heroes and said, "Just like them. A man."
* ''Series/AmericanHorrorStoryAsylum'': [[spoiler: Dr. Oliver Thredson]], a compassionate and upstanding psychiatrist who is [[spoiler: actually the infamous serial killer, Bloody Face]].
* In ''Series/TheAmericans'', Elizabeth, Phillip and their handler, Claudia are KGB operatives, but speak with flawless American accents.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'':
** In the episode "Intersections In Real Time", Sheridan has been captured and is being tortured in a prison cell somewhere. The TortureTechnician who comes to make him give a FalseConfession is not a [[AxCrazy bloodthirsty brute]], but a mild-looking and mostly soft-spoken bureaucrat who looks like a family accountant or somebody's math teacher, and who administers ElectricTorture and [[TamperingWithFoodAndDrink poisoned food]] likes it's just another day on the job. WordOfGod is that this was all intentional, as the creator wanted to remind his fans that not all evil men look or even ''act'' evil.
** While he's almost exclusively HeWhoMustNotBeSeen, the few times [[PresidentEvil President Clark]] is seen onscreen he has an ordinary appearance, and the fact that his name is so ordinary also adds into this trope.
** This is definitely not in effect for Mr. Morden, the most frequent [[MouthOfSauron human representative]] of [[EldritchAbomination The]] [[SufficientlyAdvancedAliens Shadows]], but it is when Captain Sheridan briefly meets Justin, the highest ranking human working for The Shadows. Justin is a middle-aged man who has the air of a kindly grandfather, complete with a cane, bushy mustache, and enormous eyebrows. The very first thing he does upon meeting Sheridan is invite Sheridan to have tea, and explains that he has chamomile tea prepared because it helps Justin to sleep at night. If you saw him walking a hypothetical grandchild down the street, you'd probably automatically smile and/or nod at him just because he seems so likable.
* ''Series/BeingHumanUK'': Herrick, the BigBad of Season One and the vampire "king" of Bristol. In the unaired pilot, he was a tall, imposing ScaryBlackMan who looked like he had walked out of ''TabletopGame/VampireTheMasquerade'', complete with leather duster and nightclub. In the series proper he's a non-threatening, average height, dumpy, middle-aged white guy who dresses in off-the-rack business casual or his [[DirtyCop police uniform]].
* ''Series/BreakingBad'' contrasts the over the top antics of the AxeCrazy Salamanca clan with the ordinary looking members of Gus' criminal organization. The Salamancas rely on intimidation and crazy violence for their reputation. Gus prefers to blend in and appear to be extremely boring and affable. He also goes to great lengths to make sure that his underlings do not attract any unnecessary attention. Walt strides the line between these two extremes as he knows that he has to be as nondescript as possible but his pride and ego constantly prompt him to do things that will get him noticed. Further, [[spoiler: Todd is a heartless, casual sociopath who looks like one of the show's more boring or typical characters. While he looks like an ordinary man, after killing an innocent little boy his reaction is, "Shit happens."]]
* Not often used on ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', but this quote deserves mention.
-->'''Willow''': ''(in reference to a murderer)'' It could be anyone. It could be me! ...it's not, though.
** Played straight in Season 5 with [[ArcVillain Glory]], a PhysicalGod with SuperStrength, SuperSpeed, and NighInvulnerability... who looks like an average pretty girl you'd see on the street. In fact, the first time the Scoobies meet her, she's casually [[VillainsOutShopping buying items for a spell at the Magic Box]]. Since only Buffy (who wasn't there) knew what she looked like, the gang thinks nothing of her until they realize she bought items for a dangerous SummoningRitual and would require tremendous power to be able to perform that particular spell; cue OhCrap.
* Two of ''Series/ColdCase'''s most notorious killers embodied this trope to a T. One, George Marks, was overweight, balding--and a rabid misogynist who kidnapped women by disguising himself as a cop, then forced them to strip to their underwear and run through the woods for hours before finally finishing them off with a gunshot to the chest. The other, John Smith, was incredibly average looking and well-mannered, easily tempting his victims to walk away with him. And, you know, his name was John Smith, which is probably the blandest name in human history.
* Some of the [=UnSubs=] in ''Series/CriminalMinds'' are sleazy looking, creepy, brutish or in some way unusual, but the vast majority look like regular people. In one episode, a woman is being followed by an obsessive stalker who isn't identified until the third act, at which point you realised he was standing in the background of half her scenes. Another noteable one is the unassuming killer from the episode "Lucky", in reality a devil-worshipping cannibal. Not to mention the episode "Normal", which is entirely based around the fact that the killer looks completely unassuming.
* The ''Series/GameOfThrones'' versions of [[Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire Roose Bolton and Ramsay Snow]]. Rather than the ObviouslyEvil father-son duo of the books, the show has replaced the hush voiced [[EeriePaleSkinnedBrunette pale lord whose face is described as coming across like a mask]] and his [[FatBastard hulking]], fish lipped brute of a bastard with [[Creator/MichaelMcElhatton a handsome older gentleman]] and [[Creator/IwanRheon a charming, energetic youth]]. [[TheSociopath Do not]] [[TortureTechnician be fooled.]]
* In ''Series/{{Graceland}}'', FBIAgent Paul Briggs has a confrontation with the always masked [[TheCartel cartel]] [[ProfessionalKiller hitman]] who years earlier forcibly addicted Briggs to heroin and killed a bunch of his fellow agents. In the aftermath of a GunStruggle, Briggs pulls the hood off the dead assassin... and [[AntiClimacticUnmasking sees the ordinary face of some guy he doesn't know]]. Briggs goes as far as to lampshade this trope and berate himself for having expected anything else. (Unknown to Briggs, the real assassin is still out there... and he's also a guy who Briggs doesn't know and looks just like everyone else.)
* The villain of the pilot episode of ''Series/{{Grimm}}'' is a mailman who wears loafers and cardigans, collects porcelain figurines, does needlepoint, makes homemade chicken pot pies, [[BreadEggsMilkSquick and eats people]]. [[note]] He's a Blutbad.[[/note]]
** All Wesen, since most of the time humans cannot see their true form.
* A sketch from ''Series/KidsInTheHall'' features an ordinary-looking guy in pajamas and a robe having breakfast. When he begins his monologue revealing he's a mass murderer, it's a bit of a surprise.
* The defendant in the ''Series/LawAndOrder'' episode "Hubris" is a mild-mannered real estate salesman and a regular [[TheCasanova Casanova]] with the ladies. As it turns out, he also murdered his girlfriend, the old couple who were employing her, and ''her 6-year-old daughter'', all to cover up a fifth murder that he had already committed years before. And while the detectives know he did it because they see security camera footage of the crime (suppressed at trial, [[OffOnATechnicality natch]]), ''the audience'' never sees him doing anything criminal or sinister at all. To the very end of the episode, this mass murdering scumbag just looks like everyone else.
** The BigBad of the ''Series/LawAndOrderSpecialVictimsUnit'' season 13 finale/season 14 opener is a frumpy, average-looking woman who is first introduced tending to the animals on her farm. She looks more like an elementary school teacher than someone who's engaged in sex trafficking, arranged a string of murders, and is using her prostitution business to blackmail half the cops and prosecutors in the state of New York.
* On ''Series/{{Lost}}'', a show filled with so many pretty yet stupid people, it's mild-mannered ferret-faced chartered-accountant-lookalike [[MagnificentBastard Benjamin Linus]] who really runs the table.
* ''Series/LukeCage2016'': Looking like a seemingly random pedestrian, Bushmaster walks up to Luke while he's minding his own business and being filmed by D.W. Griffith, and proceeds to lay him out flat in two moves, just because he can.
* In the ''Series/MastersOfHorror'' episode "Pick Me Up", the [[EvilVersusEvil dueling serial killers]] Walker and Wheeler both look fairly inconspicuous as a young drifter and a middle-aged trucker, respectively. Walker discusses the trope proper:
-->'''Walker:''' Your genuinely dangerous individuals -- they almost never ''look'' crazy. They don't have any weird tattoos, they don't have any weird stitches on their face, funny-shaped heads. They are NOT predictable.
* The Yin Yang Killer from ''Series/{{Psych}}''. [[spoiler: Turns out she was standing right there among the crowd in the background of nearly every scene.]]
* The killer in "[[Recap/SherlockS01E01AStudyInPink A Study in Pink]]", the first episode of ''Series/{{Sherlock}}''.
** [[TheChessmaster Moriarty]] looks snazzy in a suit, but he also has no problem blending in and convincing others that he's just a normal guy on several occasions. When he's wearing his baseball cap and jacket, you wouldn't give him a second glance on the street.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}''. The fact that the demons and monsters can and will look like anyone else is very heavily used on the show.
* Most of the accused on Canadian courtroom series ''Series/ThisIsWonderland''. Since most of the show was set in small claims courts or mental health court, most of them ''were'' normal people who had just made terrible mistakes or had been put in a terrible situation. This made the rare appearance of a genuine monster all the more startling.
* To an extent, BOB from ''Series/TwinPeaks''. He basically looks an extra from a bar scene - a denim-clad old man with stringy grey hair who smells like burnt motor oil. In fact, given that his entire presence in the show is basically a case of ThrowItIn, his appearance is mostly modeled on what the set dresser happened to be wearing the day he got accidentally caught in the shot. On the other hand, you probably couldn't have a conversation with him, since he mostly runs around snarling at people and hiding in the woods.
** This also applies to [[spoiler: Leland Palmer]], seemingly a perfectly normal [[spoiler: family man and lawyer]]... who is actually [[spoiler: a SerialKiller who has been raping his own daughter for years, under the DemonicPossession of the above BOB.]]
* Heroic variant: The Regents in ''Series/{{Warehouse 13}}'' are not at all what Artie expected. However, they all look a little ''too'' ordinary...
** Some artifacts are a non-human version of this. Who would have suspected that the tip jar at a food truck was behind a mini-ZombieApocalypse?
* This trope happens a lot on ''Series/TheXFiles'', since the villains usually take pains to blend into society and are only outed when unnatural things start to happen:
** Eugene Tooms in the episodes "Squeeze" and "Tooms".
** Donnie Pfaster of "Irresistible". Scully comments on how extraordinarily ordinary he is in her closing report on the case.
** John Lee Roche, the serial-killer-of-girls on "Paper Hearts", looks and talks like a balding salesman, which he was before he got caught.
** The vampire town in "Bad Blood".
** The villain in "Folie a Deux" was a giant monster, disguised as a human being in a normal company.
** Though not a villain, the alien in "The Unnatural" lived convincingly as a human baseball player.
** The brain-eating man in "Hungry" took pains to disguise himself. Undisguised, he resembled a cross between a bald man and a shark.
** The Alien Bounty Hunter can shape-shift into anyone he wants.
** The Super Soldier human/alien hybrids are indistinguishable from humans until you look at the back of their neck. Or they kill you. Whichever comes first.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}'' it's established from the beginning that there's a serial killer in Inaba. In such a small town, it would be incredibly easy to fly under the radar by just not doing anything extraordinary. That makes it hurt more when you find out that it's [[spoiler:Tohru Adachi, the bumbling comic relief detective who works under your uncle. It's hard to believe that a man you've had in your house for dinner several times is actually a closet MisanthropeSupreme who was willing to end the world just for kicks]].
* From ''VideoGame/LastWindow'', we have [[spoiler:the incredibly ordinary-looking [[http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ly9lx1zOuG1r4ym0no7_250.jpg Dylan Fitchar]], who we discover is a mole for Nile, the crime syndicate that is behind every terrible thing that happens to people in both this game and ''VisualNovel/HotelDuskRoom215''.]]
* There are tons of examples from [[WesternRPG western RPGs]] that feature many different [[NonPlayerCharacter NPCs]]. Often the character models of some of the most evil characters, such as [[RapeIsASpecialKindOfEvil Bann Vaughan]] from ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' or [[CorruptPolitician Nassana Dantius]] from ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' don't really look that much different or more sinister than the character models of any of the other [[NonPlayerCharacter NPCs]] of their race.
* In ''VideoGame/MitadakeHigh'', every sprite looking the same except for their hair and gender can easily provide you with this trope, as one out of the players has to be the killer. Subverted (at least for the characters) if the killer is the "Creepy Red-Haired Guy".
* ''VideoGame/MegaManBattleNetwork 3'' has one subplot in which a bunch of ''generic [=NPCs=]'' turn out to be undercover World 3 agents planted in a strategic location ''specifically'' to provide cover stories for a more conspicuous (and [[ContinuityNod well-known]]) agent.
* When Shepherd starts detailing Makarov in ''VideoGame/ModernWarfare'' you expect based on the other villains that he would be some kind of monster or Expy of Stalin. Shepherd then shows you a photo, looking all the world like one for a passport, and Makarov looks much more like a off duty soldier or businessman than terrorist mastermind.
* In Jhin, the Virtuoso's backstory in ''VideoGame/LeagueOfLegends'', no one suspected the illusive murderer known as the "Golden Demon" would turn out to be an unassuming stagehand named Khada Jhin.
* Clanden from ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'' is an entirely normal-looking man in a sweater vest who is in fact a truly evil serial killer who makes snuff films and was hired by the Omertas to build a device to poison the inhabitants of the Strip with chlorine gas.
* [[spoiler: Mr. Jefferson]] in ''VideoGame/LifeIsStrange'' turns out to be the mastermind behind the darker events of Arcadia Bay in Episode 5. Fittingly, the player is led to initially assume that the clearly unhinged Nathan Prescott is the one pulling the strings. After all, he pulls a ''gun'' on Chloe in Episode 1 alone and is the one pumping drugs to students as part of the vortex club. Chloe's overly paranoid asshole step father David Madsen is also thrown into the ring as a possible suspect due to his abrasive behavior namely stalking students as you find out in his files, but no, [[spoiler: the seemingly good hearted "cool" teacher Mr Jefferson is the same guy behind the disappearance of Rachel Amber and Kate Marsh's attempted suicide/suicide, And illicit photography sessions with the aforementioned girls.]]
* ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublicIITheSithLords'' invokes this in-universe with the [[OmnicidalManiac life-eating]] [[EldritchAbomination Dark-Side entity of intent]] Darth Nihilus, should the player-character choose to let his liberated servant Visas Marr remove his skull-like mask upon his death; if the player asks her what his face looked like, she will simply reply "A man. Nothing more."
* The Neighbor in ''VideoGame/HelloNeighbor'' appears to be a painfully average across-the-street neighbor, but the player character isn't buying it. Considering he may be responsible for the kidnapping of several children and the lengths he will go to in order to keep the protagonist out of his house...

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneySpiritOfJustice'' has [[spoiler: Pu'ray Zeh'lot]], who looks like a perfectly normal Khura'inese citizen despite being [[spoiler: a vigilante serial killer working for the SecretPolice to kill rebels, who had no qualms about attempting to kill a ''pregnant'' woman. In a twist, he's the case's AssholeVictim rather than murder, killed in self-defence by one of his targets]] but their face portrait looks so generic the player isn't likely to suspect much of them. They even [[spoiler: lived as a surrogate child to High Priest Inmee and his wife for ''years'', with them being none the wiser until the incident happened.]]

* Dongsoo Seon from the [[KoreanWebtoon webtoon]] ''{{Webcomic/Bastard}}'' looks like an ordinary father and businessman. He's actually a SerialKiller who's been murdering women for years. His son Jin even discusses this trope, noting, "Amazingly enough, [[BeneathNotice no one suspects a murderer if he has a child with him]]."

[[folder:Web Original]]
%%* Terrence from ''WebVideo/KateModern''.
* The majority of characters in ''Roleplay/SurvivalOfTheFittest'' are [[OrdinaryHighSchoolStudent Ordinary High School Students]], meaning that oftentimes people who choose to play the game fit this trope in some way or another. This is particularly true in regards to v4, where there has been an increased focus on realism. Many, many characters in [[DevelopingDoomedCharacters pre-game]] come off as people who you could easily find at your school in real life, but once you get to in-game... well, it brings out the worst in people. [[BigBad Danya]] himself can fit as well, as aside from bearing scars from attempts on his life he's described as someone who wouldn't particularly stand out in a crowd; Bryan Calvert even says Danya looks like his father.

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* This was used to great effect with the [[BigBad Fire Lord]] in ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender''. You only ever get to see his silhouette against a wall of flames for most of the show's run, and when his face is finally revealed [[spoiler:he looks like a completely normal and even fairly handsome man]].
* In ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'', the Clock King is the only self-created supervillain in the series to avoid the tropes in the EvilMakeover index. Aside from his gadgets, he's just a guy in a nice suit.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'':
** Amon, whose creepy mask, unexplained AntiMagic powers and mysterious backstory made for a truly terrifying villain. Under the mask [[spoiler:and scar makeup, he looks like a completely normal Water Tribe man in his thirties]].
** P'Li and Ming-Hua, the female members of the Red Lotus both have obvious [[RedRightHand Red Right Hands]] (eye tattoo in the middle of the forehead and missing arms), but Ghazan and Zaheer just look like two guys with no real distinctive features besides being slightly taller or shorter than average respectively.
* In ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', most of the villains that received major story arcs were usually beings on par with {{Physical God}}s and other supernatural entities with sinister and terrifying appearances that were all bent on taking over Equestria. Then we are introduced a unicorn named Starlight Glimmer, whose appearance, voice and name are so ordinary that it seem like she was taken from a database of background ponies and thrust into the role of an arc villain on a whim. This is very intentional as her entire philosophy is based on [[IndividualityIsIllegal conformity and not standing out]], and it serves to make her [[JustTheFirstCitizen hypocrisy]] and [[TotalitarianUtilitarian insanity]] all the more striking.