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Series: Face/Off
Face Off is a reality show where makeup artists compete to design and apply makeup and prostheses. It is hosted by McKenzie Westmore, and the judges and guest judges are accomplished leaders in the industry. Every week they complete challenges and the judges eliminate a contestant until only one is left. The prizes change from season to season, but they usually involve a cash prize and a supply of makeup.

Every week they face a spotlight challenge, after which a contestant is eliminated. Sometimes there is a foundation challenge at the beginning of the episode where the winner will gain something to help in the spotlight challenge. The challenges are usually the sort of thing you would find in a science fiction or horror movie, but they will occasionally be given something more mundane, like aging someone or designing a tattoo.

The first season premiered in January 2011, the second season ran again the same time in 2012, and the third season premiered in August of 2012. Season 4 began in January 2013. Season 5 started in August 2013. Season 6 started January 2014. Now has a charcater page that desperately Needs More Love


Face Off provides examples of:

  • All-Star Cast: The series judges - Glenn, Ve, and Patrick (Neville for Season 3). You've more than likely seen at least one of the movies each one was involved in. Season 4 also (re)introduces Michael Westmore as the contestant's pro-mentor. And of course, you have the various guest judges who are all well known movie and/or TV figures.
  • Audience Participation: The audience ultimately decided who won the third season, American Idol-style.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Some contestants get in over their heads by attempting major fabrications or animatronics that are impressive in concept, yet fail to work properly.
    • Roy, ROY, ROY. He has ambitious ideas that overshadow his (usually excellent) makeup when they don't work. See Crippling Overspecialization.
  • Bait and Switch: Judge Glenn Hetrick is fond of these. It's not uncommon for him to say something along the lines of "I don't like this.... I love it!"
  • Black Guy Gets Eliminated First: Troy, the only African-American in Season Four, was eliminated in the first episode.
  • Brutal Honesty: If the judges don't like your work, they will let you know.
  • Came Back Strong:
    • Nicole from the Third Season returned to the show after being eliminated, and the judges noted the fight that came from her after returning, awarding her with two consecutive wins. Not only that, but she ended up being the season winner.
    • Miranda, who was the third contestant eliminated from season 2, won four challenges in season 5, and it took her eleven weeks— longer than any other contestant that season— to even be on the bottom looks. She probably would've been eliminated that week if not for Laney quitting, and was eliminated the week after.
  • Catchphrase: McKenzie aside there's really not a lot of catchphrases from the judges that airs. But amusingly enough, Ve tends to use 'bitchin' a lot during the post-season wrap up episodes and presumably during the season as well.
  • Confession Cam
  • Continuity Nod: The Reality TV Show Mansion usually incorporates pictures of some work from the previous season into the decorations.
    • Additionally, Season 1's winner, Connor, was a guest judge for the first challenge of Season 2, while Season 2's winner Rayce gave the contestants some pointers during Season 3's "Supermobile" challenge.
    • Both are visible in the season 3 finale among audience members. In the season 3 finale, one contestent notes that even after the show, a number of contestents and judges have remained close including living together, working on the same projects, and so forth.
  • Costume Porn: Glenn's outfits can swing between this and Sharp-Dressed Man.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Several contestants.
    • Roy from season 3 was noted for his awesome fabrications (that is, non-makeup props). While they commonly added to the design, the judges did point out several times that they tended to overshadow the makeup which, of course, was what they were focused on. He has gotten better since his return in season 5, pulling off some truly astounding makeups.
      • This has been his downfall again for some of his lesser makeups, including his squid man who was supposed to have massive tentacles and his and Laura's alien creature tamer with a parasite. note 
    • Also from season 3, most of Rods characters had almost identical faces. Ve pointed this out to him, but try as he might he still leaned towards the same shapes and was eventually eliminated because of it.
    • Wayne from season 4 was an amazing sculptor, but because he put so much detail into his sculpts he rarely had time to fully paint his models. Despite this he often was in the top looks and made it to the finals.
    • Lyma, a newcomer from season 5, is a body painter by trade. Her makeups are frequently criticized for their lack of realism and hard lines. She's eliminated in episode 6 for a combination of unrealistic painting and poor sculpture.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Glenn can really rip you a new one before you even realize what's going on.
  • Dull Surprise: Laney, who seemed to have her voice stuck on "Dull Monotone" and face stuck on "Half Stoned".
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Several species from Defiance, along with the character Irissa, appeared in one of the later episodes of season 4 during a challenge inspired by the then-upcoming show.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Originally the illustrations of each phase of design were done almost completely digitally, there were clips of each person winning or being sent home rather than narration by Mackenzie, and more focus was placed on the home drama and struggles in the lab than now.
  • Everyone Meets Everyone: Usually how the seasons start.
  • Eliminated From The Race / Voted Off The Island: Those on the "bottom looks" as chosen by the judges are most likely to be eliminated. There is usually at least one artist eliminated each episode.
  • Elimination Statement:
    • So far, the only contestants who haven't given an Elimination Statement are the runners-up for the finals, and Joe from Season Three (he stormed off set).
    • We can now add Laney from season 5 to this list, as she walked out two weeks before the finale due to not wanting to be in the competition anymore, being upset her last fellow newcomer was eliminated and general homesickess.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: Several of the veteran's creations in season 5's Stylized Fantasy Setting challenge, where their theme was a blind witch who sees through her servants. Notably, the faun had eyes on his horns and forehead, and the pixie had eyes on it's earlobes.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Competitors on the show are refreshingly good sports, and are frequently seen helping each other with their projects. Common examples are helping open and clean molds, or teaching each other how to use unfamiliar tools and materials. Many former competitors have gone on to work together professionally, and the season 3 finale revealed that several former competitors had gone so far as to move to LA together to support each other while pursuing their careers.
    • Averted in Season 1 due to Early-Installment Weirdness and overall Jerkassery on the competitors - Tom and Jo were out for Megan's blood because of how much she was riding on Conor's skills and not her own.
  • Gender Flip: Adolfo and Lyma's Humpty Dumpty supermodel, as well as Eddie and Scott's waitress take on the Man In The Moon, in the Mother Goose challenge. Additionally, Gage and Sam from season 1 swapped their own genders in the "Family Plot" episode, where they had to disguise themselves from a loved one with makeup.
    • One challenge specifically required contestants to swap two models' genders.
  • Genius Bruiser: Glenn can probably name any, every, and all part of the human body by their anatomical name (quick, do you even know that the line of the cheek has a name? Glenn does!) as well as dropping obscure words like they're written on note cards. And yet he's also the judge that has the smallest personal censor - Neville will at least pause to find a way to say things gently and Ve will use humour words ('goofy') to lighten the blow. Glenn will just outright say he doesn't like something and that he thinks it's a stupid idea.
  • Gilligan Cut: From Season One's Villain Challenge:
    Marcell: I forgot to release my mold...note 
    Connor: Oh...okay.
    Connor [to the Confession Cam]: What?!
  • Grimmification: Many challenges are to take something normally cheerful and darken it in some manner. Often this happens when it isn't part of the challenge criteria, as most contestants have heavy backgrounds in horror and monster makeup.
  • Heart in the Wrong Place: A costume of a re-imagined, horror-themed Tin Woodsman featured a bare chest with a gaping hole where the character's heart is missing. Naturally, it's very high on the left side.
  • Heroic BSOD: Laney has one after Eddie's elimination. It results in her having to leave the competition.
  • Jerk Ass: Frank from Season 1. He gets better in Season 5. As Roy puts it:
    Roy: When Frank's nice, he's nice. When he's not, he's the king of assholes.
  • Lame Pun: Neville can be fond of these.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Laney from Season 5, to an extent, if only because she's also a model herself as well as a SFX artist and she almost is always dressed up with makeup applied unless she's in the lab, making shots that flip between her in the lab and her in the confession cam somewhat jarring.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Some of the challenges invoke this trope, with themes like "Zombie Apocalypse In Wonderland" or "Alien Werewolves".
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Happens whenever one contestant's/team's work is bigger and overall better technically and conceptually than another contestant's/team's. Especially made obvious when the makeups are all lined up.
  • Planimal: The "Dangerous Beauty" challenge.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The Season 1 episode Family Plot required the artists to disguise themselves as a store clerk and assist their family members in a wig shop without them noticing. Megan was eliminated for having nothing to show for herself by the end of the week and attempting this trope, with Ve pointing out that Megan's mother probably knew that it was her, but was smart enough not to say anything until Megan revealed herself.
  • Previously On
  • Put on a Bus: All of the eliminated contestants...
    • The Bus Came Back: ...who return at the end of the season to help the finalists with their enormous final challenge.
      • For season 5, the bus came back for 8 contestants eliminated from previous seasons. The returning contestants are Frank and Tate from season 1, Miranda and RJ from season 2, Alana, Roy and Laura from season 3, and Eric Z from season 4.
    • Season 3 offered the opportunity for an eliminated contestant to return.
    • The web spin-off Face Off: Redemption allowed fourth-season contestant Eric Z. to win a spot on Season 5.
  • Reality TV Show Mansion: Where the artists live during the competition.
  • Real-Life Relative: Derek and Eric of Season 3 are identical twin brothers. Derek wasn't able to enjoy his first victory in the competition because Eric happened to be eliminated that same day.
    • Cat and Niko of Season 6 are boyfriend and girlfriend. It makes Cat's elimination all the more heartbreaking.
  • Recurring Extra: The same models are used over and over and are seen in close-up for the "morphing" shots, although they seldom say anything and their names are almost never mentioned.
    • Those very familiar with the show found it jarring when they brought in some never-before-seen models in season 5.
  • Rule 50: Season Three gives us Alice's Adventures in Wonderland meets Resident Evil... with the Resident Evil film franchise's producer/director, Paul W.S. Anderson, as a guest judge for that challenge, no less!
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: At the end of Season Three's first challenge, Joe unexpectedly left the set and was disqualified. Fortunately, that meant nobody else was eliminated. Oddly enough, Joe was never mentioned again, not even by the remaining contestants. (Possibly his walkout meant that the show lost its rights to do so. Or perhaps, of course, it could be that no one really wanted to talk about Jerk Ass Joe anyway.)
    • Laney from season 5 walked off due to a combination of homesickness and a Heroic BSOD after Eddie, the only other remaining newcomer, was eliminated.
  • Serial Escalation: The finales of each season demonstrate this:
    • Season 1: A diorama-style exhibition for a party with several big-name makeup artists in attendance.
    • Season 2: The models perform choreographed dance routine to a live audience.
    • Season 3: Not only is the audience live, but so is the finale itself.
    • Season 4: Cirque. Du. Soleil. In water.
    • Averted in Season 5. Obviously there was only so much bigger you could go than Cirque du Soleil in water, so the season 5 finale was scaled back to a ballet performance of Swan Lake with themed costumes and make ups the contestants had to create.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: As the season 3 finale revealed through cut footage, Neville and particularly Glenn are fond of this.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: The challenge for the Halloween special of Season 5. All seven makeup artists chose a colored apple and did a costume for the sin that corresponded with that sin. Frank ended up getting sent off for creating something 'on the lowest hanging branch' for the sin of gluttony.
  • Shocking Elimination: Sometimes the artists remaining are depressed by the elimination of one of their friends, or sometimes even their siblings.
  • The Stoic: Glenn has smiled less than a handful of times and laughed only once. And in the latter case (despite evidence to the contrary and Neville teasing), he tries to brush it off as 'just a chuckle'.
  • There Can Only Be One: Only one person can win the spotlight challenge at the end of the episode, even when working in teams. Which McKenzie will always point out, As You Know-style.
  • This Is A Competition: Very, very often. Those who take it too far usually suffer for it.
    • Connor from Season 1 proved to be an exception. He actually said "This is a competition" early in the finale, displaying the exact attitude of the trope, and won.
    • Joe in Season 3 had this or some other issue. The lack of information coming from the fact that he stormed off the set in the first episode of the third season for being in the bottom looks. He was subsequently disqualified and not invited back.
  • Totem Pole Trench: The concept of Roy's "Funny Ghost" makeup: a pair of vaudeville little people who died while in such a getup, and are stuck that way in the afterlife.
  • Transformation Sequence: Each spotlight-challenge costume is shown in close-up to we viewers, as the model undergoes a CGI morph from human to whatever-it-is.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: Every episode explains the purpose of design, sculpting, molding, and applying makeup. With the exact same clips to demonstrate, and near-identical voiceovers from contestants.
    • Recent seasons have downplayed this, only showing the clips in the first episode of each season.
    • The Confession Cam aspect of the show has shades of this. The most obvious example is season 5's Living Art episode. Tate smashed his hand while tipping over a heavy mold, and from that point on in the show we're reminded constantly by Tate and other contestants that, well... he hurt his hand.
    • If something particularly notable happens during a week, usually the episode will focus on primarily on that artist and those who get involved.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Contestants kicked off in the first couple of episodes, obviously.
  • What Could Have Been: The return of Nicole in Season 3 also resulted in her win by American Idol vote, though by all accounts, Laura or Derek should have won the season if her return didn't happen. Laura had another chance to compete in Season 5, which she won without question. Kinda makes you wonder who would have won Season 5 if Season 3 hadn't happened the way it did, and it's especially obvious that the producers realized their mistake in letting Season 3 be decided that way, because neither the option of giving an eliminated contestant the chance to return nor the American Idol style finisher ever happened on Face Off again.
  • When She Smiles: Glenn, usually The Stoic, has had only two occasions where he's smiled. Both times, it made him look like a very different person. Nevermind the one(!) instance when he actually bursts out laughing.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: A lot of challenges have involved taking a sweet theme and make it darker. Which is exactly what several contestants did in season 5's Mother Goose challenge. Unfortunately for them, they were supposed to make whimsical characters, not scary or grotesque ones.

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