Examples from media:
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Anime and Manga
- For a long time, Tobi from Naruto has his face obscured when he's not with his mask, though we do get some shots of him slightly opening his mask or having it partially broken. He claimed to be Madara Uchiha and we do have some shots of Madara's face in flashbacks, but for some reason he always has his face hidden. Until chapter 600, where it's revealed that he's actually Obito Uchiha.
- Issue #55 G.I. Joe was advertised as finally showing the real faces of Snake Eyes, Cobra Commander, and Destro, three major characters who had never been seen without their masks. The cover◊ of the comic book and the title of the story ("Unmaskings") further tease the supposed reveal. And sure enough, during the story all three characters take off their masks and show their true faces... but only to other characters. "Camera angles" and shadows are used so that the reader never gets a proper look at the faces.
Film - Animated
- Near halfway through Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy's Big Picture Show, a mix-up on Ed's part causes Edd's hat to get stuck on Ed's head. The audience is left to think they would finally see what Edd's head looks like without its hat—but it's obscured by the boat the Eds built and Ed's big head, so it's never shown.
Film - Live-Action
- In Beetlejuice, Betelgeuse shows Adam and Barbara that he can be scary - we only see his Nightmare Face from the back as his face erupts into...something.
- In Inherent Vice, Hope hands Doc a picture of her baby from back when Hope was breastfeeding while hooked on heroin. Doc screams in horror. The picture is never shown.
- One of the more intriguing elements of Pulp Fiction is the contents of Marcellus Wallace's briefcase. Several characters get to see whatever the shiny thing is, with Vincent even asking "Is that what I think it is?" Popular opinion is that it's Marcellus' soul, but that's never made clear in the film.
- The Spanish Prisoner: Dell keeps stringing Joe along with a possible date with his sister, who is never seen. When Joe gets to Dell's house, he shows her a framed picture of his sister, but glare on the glass over the picture prevents the audience from seeing anything.
- The "Charles Dance Version" of The Phantom of the Opera has the Phantom twice removing his mask with his back to the viewer. We see the shocked reactions to his deformity, but not the deformed face itself.
Live Action TV
- Howard's mother on The Big Bang Theory is The Voice, but some episodes tease the viewers by having her in circumstances where she could logically appear, like her son's wedding. She once appeared in "The Spoiler Alert Segmentation" in the background, but her face was hidden. It confirmed that she's obese, but nowhere near to the morbid obesity levels that were described in great detail.
- In Friends, The Ghost Ugly Naked Guy was seen twice, though not completely: his rear end and his hand in "The One with the Giant Poking Device", and also half of his body from behind was seen in the episode where Ross was trying to get his apartment.
- Wilson from Home Improvement is usually seen from behind a fence or from the back. Even when he steps out of his yard, the lower part of his face is always obscured by something in the foreground, or by some prop Wilson holds to his face.
- How I Met Your Mother:
- The narration refers to the Mother (Ted's future wife) many times, yet her face is never seen and her voice is never heard. Her ankle is briefly glimpsed in "Girls vs. Suits", and a dark figure carrying a yellow umbrella (which signifies the Mother) is seen in "Wait for It" and "No Tomorrow". Two episodes showed Ted's wedding, with his face glowing in happiness, but his bride is covered under her veil or she's shown from the back ("Milk" and "Lucky Penny"). She eventually appears in full at the end of the eighth season finale, "Something New".
- In "Slutty Pumpkin", Ted reminisces about a Halloween party four years ago where he met a girl in the sexiest pumpkin costume. (The gang calls her the Slutty Pumpkin.) Supposedly the costume was carved in strategic places and the girl was amazing. She's only shown from her back, and the strategically carved costume is not shown in full either.
- In "Matchmaker", Marshall and Lily confront a creature living in the apartment, apparently a cockroach-mouse hybrid — a cockamouse. The creature is heard and we see the characters' reactions, but that's about it. Finally, it flies away.
- In The Lone Ranger TV show the Ranger's face is never seen by the audience without either a mask or a disguise. Whenever his mask is off and he's not in disguise, his back is to the camera.
- Revolution: Episode "The Love Boat" ends with Mr. Austin killed in the Tower's elevator on his way down to level 12. We only hear the sounds of his death. Then the elevator comes back up and opens. The angle reveals that there's a lot of blood, but we don't actually see what's in the elevator. "Children of Men" strongly implies that it's a Dweller with a coil gun.
- In one episode of Rhoda, The Voice Carlton the Doorman is seen, but only from the back.
- In-universe example in Seinfeld: In "The Seven", Jerry dates a woman who apparently wears the same outfit all the time. Elaine bumps into her on the street, but is unable to see what she is wearing since she is forced to tilt her head up after straining her neck. Both Elaine and the audience can only see Jerry's girlfriend's head.
- In a two-on-one match for the WWE World Tag Team Titles, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin is going it alone against the Hart Foundation: Owen Hart and Wrestling.Davey Boy Smith. Then the Titantron shows backstage where Austin's partner has just shown up and is walking! We only see his feet as he walks jauntily to a disco beat. Cue commercial break. When they return to the action Austin's "partner" still hasn't gotten to the ring yet and doesn't for several more minutes, at which time we see the debut of Dude Love!
- Whenever Master Chief's helmet is off in the Halo series, his face is either out of the shot or behind something. With the exception of Halo 4's Legendary ending, where the area around his eyes are shown.
- In the Mass Effect series one of the races are the quarians, who must remain in suits that completely cover their body due to their weak immune systems. One of your crew members is a quarian named Tali who you can romance from the second game onward. In Mass Effect 2, at the end of the romance Tali and Shepard get ready to make love, Shepard removes her mask. The viewers don't get to see it because the camera is focused behind her. In Mass Effect 3 Shepard gets to digitally reexperience quarian history, before they had to stay in their suits. The quarians seen are still in suits, with the Hand Wave that either Shepard doesn't know what they look like so the representation can't draw from his memories, or (if he romanced Tali) he only knows what one looks like. And if the player manages to destroy or make peace with the geth, the quarians are allowed to return to their homeworld. Tali celebrates the occasion by taking off her mask...with the camera repositioned behind her again. If this happens, Tali romancers FINALLY get to see what she looks like in a photo that appears in Shepard's cabin after the mission.
- Homestar Runner: The Strong Bad Email "the chair" touches on two very common fan questions: "What does Strong Bad look like under his mask?" and "What do Strong Bad's parents look like?" Strong Bad takes off his mask and shows off a photo of his parents... while the camera is behind him, so the reveal is obscured by his high-backed armchair. Then he declares "Ugh! I am NEVER gonna do that again!" note
- Homestuck has two characters looking into chests with MacGuffin that had been teased prior to this point. Careful with clicking the links, they might be considered spoileriffic.
- Calliope is looking at her own "juju". Her "juju" and what it looks like is not revealed. See it here.
- Vriska whose chalk-white, pupil-less eyes indicate deadness is looking at a treasure she's just engaged in a lengthy pirate-themed treasure hunt to find with the promised power to defeat the Big Bad who Calliope vaguely looks like and in fact is Calliope's brother who also occupies the same body as her. This last case is subverted when Vriska forcibly drags the narrative back from the self-indulgent interlude it engages in after this. See this image.
- The Autobiography of Jane Eyre, a setting update of Jane Eyre:
- When Jane first talks to Grace Poole, she accidentally records their dialogue because Grace came to Jane's room when she was shooting an entry for her vlog. However, Grace's face is out of the angle.
- The viewers familiar with the novel (majority of the fandom) anxiously awaited Mr Rochester to show up. When he first appeared, they showed him only from a big distance, Jitter Cam style, and then a great attention was paid to his injured leg and funky socks. In the following episode, the angle of Jane's cam was aimed at his torso and arms◊, and we got a lots of close-up of his hands. At the end of the video, the audience saw half of his face. Episode 12 showed his head from the back and the audience nearly saw his profile when he turned his head. His face was finally revealed in episode 13.
- The Lizzie Bennet Diaries:
- The audience had to wait for William Darcy to appear for 59 episode, despite the fact that he was mentioned nearly all the time throughout the web series. When he first showed up, they revealed his torso at the end of the episode as a teaser.
- The fans were curious to see the ever embarrassing Mrs Bennet and compare her real personality to Lizzie's impersonation (many characters were presented through imitations in Lizzie's "costume theatre"). Mrs Bennet walked in on Lizzie's filming in the last episode. Lizzie's imitation of her accent was accurate and the choice of generic outfit was spot on, but the viewers got to see only Mrs Bennet's back.
- The identity of "Hoody" is one of the key mysteries of Marble Hornets. Entry #68 shows him taking off the mask, but the camera is on the ground and the shot is cut off just below his face◊.
- Classic Alice, a retelling of several classic stories woven into an original plot: During the second book, the audience is introduced to "Nathan", who served as a device to permit Andrew more screen time. Nathan was never seen and refused to be spotted on camera, citing his desire to remain an 'uninvolved participant'. He tweets only in emojis, has never spoken on camera, and may or may not be deaf. Fans have been clamoring to see him for some time.
- Dr. Claw in Inspector Gadget is The Faceless who is only ever seen from the back of his chair.
- In Jelly Jamm, Goomo's hair has never been seen - when he is not wearing his helmet, his hair is either out of the screen frame or behind something.
- The Simpsons:
- In "Much Apu About Nothing", Homer is trying to help Apu prepare for his American citizenship test, and for locating Springfield on the map, he points near Chicago. Lisa corrects him, but the view of her pointing at the correct location is obscured by Bart's head.
- In one episode, Homer experiences a very frustrating version during a Dream Sequence. He's having money problems and he dreams about an invention that will make him rich, but he's never able to actually see the invention because someone is standing in the way.
- In "Treehouse of Horror XXIV"'s segment "Oh, The Places You'll D'oh!" (Dr. Seuss parody), Marge is dressed as apparently very sexy cat lady, and her body looks transformed. She's seen twice at the beginning and the end of the episode, but her face is always out of the angle.
- In an episode of Wakfu has a scene where Amalia is showing Eva a new outfit she picked out. Her outfit is obscured by some fruit and all we get is a comment from Eva saying "it's short". Compared to how she already dresses that is saying something.
- Firelord Ozai from Avatar: The Last Airbender appears in a number of episodes shot only from the back or in front of a fire pit with the lighting too obscure to get a good look at him. Considering that he's a terrifyingly powerful antagonist, it's most effective when his face is finally revealed and he looks quite handsome and normal and Zuko clearly takes after his physical appearance.