Villainous Cheekbones

"Hey it's that one Peter jerk again. And this time, he's accompanied by another Peter, Pete Postlethwaite and his killer cheekbones."

Look around the room you're in. Notice anyone with particularly prominent, exaggerated, or high cheekbones? Yes? Chances are, he or she is the one out to get you.

Villains seem to have a tendency toward quite noticeable cheekbones. It's far more common in animated works, as facial features are often exaggerated. This trope is quite often seen on The Baroness or the Dragon Lady. It's perhaps because sharper cheekbones lend a face a sharper, more angular look, which can convey intense emotion more easily sometimes, or (as with Lean and Mean) because of the unsettlingly skeletal, deathly appearance it can give you. It's also the opposite of the kind of smoother, softer face known as "baby-faced"—and since a baby-faced person looks like an innocent child, it follows that the prominent bone structure will look like the opposite of this.

Compare Lean and Mean and Evil Is Sexy, if you so desire. Contrast with the Lantern Jaw of Justice, for the good guys.


Animated Films

Anime and Manga
  • Kycilia Zabi and M'quve in Mobile Suit Gundam. Kycilia's especially, since her cheekbones are so sharp and more pronounced.
  • Sebastian Michealis in Black Butler.
  • Prandine/Fallow in Deltora Quest.
  • All of The Big Five in the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime save Otaki\Crump, who is more chubby-cheeked. Extra points go to Daimon\Leichter, whose cheekbones could probably score sheet metal.

Film - Live Action

  • Discworld:
    • All illustrations of Lord Vetinari, the not quite benevolent ruler of Ankh-Morpork, portray him with very sharp features, including these.
    • Some of the elves from Lords and Ladies made themselves appear to have high cheekbones.
  • Crowley from Good Omens. But he's only technically evil, and given his position in the universe's moral spectrum, lacking a certain villainous appearance would be unbecoming. Not that it's stopped him being considered Mr. Fanservice by many fans.
  • Averted by Duck the Great Western Engine. He has high cheekbones, but he's in no way shape or form evil.
  • Averted in Galaxy of Fear. Hoole has a gaunt face, and while he acts highly suspect in the first few books he's really The Atoner. The Big Bad, who is of the same species as Hoole, has a noticeably rounder, softer face.

Live-Action TV
  • Doctor Who:
    • Kate O'Mara as the Rani in old-school Who.
    • The Weeping Angels, from the new series, have faces that look like traditional angel statues when they're relaxed, but their features become sharper and more savage when they attack.
    • Missy, aka the Mistress from the 2014 series, as played by Michelle Gomez.
  • Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (although he makes a Heel-Face Turn). Most of the characters that James Marsters plays are villainous, and his cheekbones are very, very sharp.
  • Thomas from Downton Abbey.
  • The title character from NBC's Hannibal. Of course, thanks to being played by Mads Mikkelsen, it's hardly surprising.
    • Freddie Lounds, an amoral tabloid blogger, has some pretty severe cheekbones of her own.

  • David Bowie (who played Jareth in Labyrinth) put his high cheekbones, which were further accentuated by his near-bony appearance at the time, to good use for the sinister stage persona of The Thin White Duke in The '70s.


Role-Playing Games

  • Cirque du Soleil examples, often accomplished with the help of makeup or masks, include Fleur and some of the Nostalgic Old Birds in Alegria and the Counselor and his equally wicked son in KA. However, in Cirque prominent cheekbones are not exclusively for the evil, but sometimes used for Tricksters (KOOZA) or similarly mysterious-but-good characters (the Great Chamberlain in Nouvelle Experience).
  • Voldemort in A Very Potter Musical, via lots of makeup.
  • Lady Macbeth in the 2010 television version of Macbeth.


Video Games
  • Klogg from The Neverhood, the Big Bad who imprisoned the god-like ruler and creator of the game world.
  • Diablo, full stop
  • BioShock 2: Sofia Lamb. Not cartoonishly exaggerated, but hers are by far the most prominent of the entire cast. All of Rapture hangs off those cheekbones.
  • The G-Man from the Half-Life series. He is an enigmatic man in a black suit who follows you around and watches you from obscure vantage points, making finding him a kind of dark Easter Egg hunt. From what the player can puzzle out from his sparse interactions with him, and from what other characters say, it is likely that he is neither human nor benevolent.
  • Count Veger from Jak 3 is very thin in general, so naturally he has very gaunt features.
  • Cyrus, the Big Bad of Pokemon Diamond And Pearl, has prominent cheekbones. They're one of his most noticeable features and emphasize his gaunt appearance.
  • When the evil sorceress Mizrabel from Castle of Illusion gets her beauty back, she has cheekbones like knife blades.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic has this as a facial option for most species, and gets a lot of mileage out of it in terms of Imperial soldiers and politicians; this is of course a direct reference to Tarkin, above.
  • Humanoid vampires in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion default to having high cheekbones when they're starving and their monstrous nature is especially clear, since it uses a pre-set face for them. This is especially clear with the Dark Brotherhood's Vincent Valieri, who always looks that way.

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation
  • Megatron from Transformers Animated seems to have this going on. They even manage to stand out in a series where the good guys are also robots so have very angular features.
  • Norman Osborn in The Spectacular Spider-Man. Tombstone also has them, in keeping with his generally cadaverous face, and making the contrast with his extremely bulky body more pronounced.
  • The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, as in virtually all of his appearances. The fact that he manages to have visible cheekbones even when the flesh of his cheeks has been stretched into his trademark smile is quite impressive.
    • Mr. Freeze as well, especially after the show's revamp.
  • During his introduction, Jeremiah Surd of Jonny Quest The Real Adventures had ridiculously exaggerated cheekbones that made him look almost goofy. During later appearances, he became gradually more realistic (and more menacing).
  • Ozai from Avatar The Last Airbender has some impressive cheekbones. Both his children have high cheekbones, but they're the somewhat softer kind of classical prettiness, while Ozai's are much sharper.
  • The Duke from Gawayn

Real Life