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Anti-Climactic Unmasking

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Lex Luthor: [standing in front of a mirror in the Flash's body] If nothing else, I can at least learn the Flash's secret identity...
[removes mask, stares at the face for a few seconds]
Lex Luthor: ...I have no idea who this is.

Someone rips off another character's mask or costume and reveals... average, completely unremarkable joe.

Well, that was completely pointless. The guy under that super suit could be the same guy bagging your groceries at Walmart. He could be your kid's soccer coach. He could be the President's niece's boyfriend. He's just one of a billion average faces amongst the entire human race.

When an Everyman hero is subject to this trope, it turns out that, in addition to his mask, The Hero has something much more powerful protecting his Secret Identity: obscurity.

Please note, however, that this doesn't mean that the mask is useless. All it would take is enough people getting a good look at his face (such as in print, on television, or—worse yet—on the internet) and the hero's identity is blown for good, as you'll eventually find people that do recognize the face and will fill in the blanks for everyone else. The mask helps keep the face beneath it obscure enough to keep him Hidden in Plain Sight.

Do not confuse with They Look Just Like Everyone Else!, when the villain has no alter ego and is simply too plain to distinguish from ordinary people, or The Unreveal, when taking away one mask simply reveals another. This can overlap with Stranger Behind the Mask, if the audience has never seen the unmasked party before. But this trope emphasizes that it's a stranger to the in-universe characters. Secret Identity Apathy tends to defy this.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the second season of Jubei-chan, Mikage pulls off the face mask on the mysterious antagonistic swordswoman who is threatening Jiyu. This tells her nothing because Freesia ages up when she transforms and her older face isn't similar enough to her child face.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Parodied in Episode 63 when a masked man duels Tyranno Kenzan/Tyranno Hassleberry. When his mask comes off, nobody recognizes him. Offended, he explains he is Professor Kabayama/Professor Sartyr, the head teacher of Ra Yellow, who has appeared in the background of several past episodes and is going crazy that no one respects or remembers him.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man: A relatively common reaction from villains who manage to see Peter Parker's face is to lament how average or unimpressive-looking he is.
    • In Marvel Knights Spider Man #4, the Vulture attacks a battered Spider-Man from a hospital bed and finally gets a good look at his face. He's dismayed to realize that his archenemy, who he'd assumed was someone famous, could be stacking shelves or pumping gas for a living. "You could be anybody..." he says, disheartened. "Geeze, this is depressing... all those years of getting beaten by a nobody." Played With in that it might have been Peters' badly bruised face that made him unrecognisable, as Peter Parker was quite well known as "the guy who takes pictures of Spiderman" by that point, and in fact the Vulture had met him in older stories.
    • An early issue of Ultimate Spider-Man has Peter get unmasked by the Kingpin and his thugs, but not know who he was. When Spidey starts fighting smarter and proves he's an actual threat, this comes back to bite them — all they have to go on is "teenage white boy".
    • Steve Ditko did this even earlier in The Amazing Spider-Man (Lee & Ditko) with Electro's first appearance. Spidey defeats him, and unmasks Electro but sees a stranger and remarks that he shouldn't have been surprised that the new villain turned out to be just some guy he'd never met. The same thing happens when he learns who Crime Master was.
    • According to some versions, one of the reasons Steve Ditko quit was because he wanted the same anti-climax with the Green Goblin, but Stan Lee felt they'd been building the mystery of the Goblin's real identity up for long enough that the fans would revolt; however, Steve Ditko himself claims that he always knew who the Goblin was and planted various clues to his true identity, and very much wanted it to be dramatic:
      Steve Ditko: [from "The Ever Unwilling” (The Comics, Mar 2009)] Now digest this: I knew from Day One, from the first GG story, who the GG would be. I absolutely knew because I planted him in J. Jonah Jameson’s businessmans club, it was where JJJ and the GG could be seen together. I planted them together in other stories where the GG would not appear in costume, action. I wanted JJJ’s and the GG’s lives to mix for later story drama involving more than just the two characters. I planted the GG’s son (same distinctive hair style) in the college issues for more dramatic involvement and storyline consequences. So how could there be any doubt, dispute, about who the GG had to turn out to be when unmasked?
    • "The Other" had Spidey thoroughly beaten... when one of the paramedics objects to removing his mask, a more experienced paramedic literally tells him to grow up and cuts him out of the mask. However, he is so beaten and bruised that he wouldn't be recognizable even to people who do know him.
    • In what may be a Mythology Gag, Superior Spider-Man (2013) ends with Peter (back in his own body) unmasking the Goblin King. He expects Osborn, but finds Mason Banks, who Peter has never met in his life. "Banks" then claims he is Osborn, post-Magic Plastic Surgery.
    • In one What If? comic about possible ends to Civil War (2006), Spidey gets killed, and nobody knows who he is when they remove his mask and try to identify him.
    • Nor is Peter the only Spider-Man to have this happen. In Spider-Man (2016), when Black Cat and Hammerhead capture and unmask Miles Morales, they have no idea who he is. Given the level of technology available they try using facial recognition software, only to discover that all record of his identity has been erased. Which leaves them still with no clue as to who Miles is, but since only S.H.I.E.L.D. could've pulled off such a trick it tells them that he's considered way more important than a rookie hero ought to be.
    • In Spider-Man/Deadpool, this happens when The Man Behind the Man Patient Zero unmasks himself; his face is so disfigured that neither Spidey nor Deadpool recognize him- with the exception of a few cracks at his appearance. Deadpool actually does know him; he's Weasel, post- Deal with the Devil.
    • Inverted in The Spectacular Spider-Man #308, dealing with the death of Sandman, whom Spider-Man is comforting before he passes away. Spidey offers to unmask to show his old enemy who he'd actually been fighting and Sandman refuses, fearing it might be a little too climactic for him:
      What? Nah, don't. You're Spider-Man, the #$@% thorn in my side. Besides, I always liked to picture you as butt-ugly under that mask. Last thing I need before I shuffle off is to see some Chris Evans %$#@ under there...
    • Provides a humorous resolution to a brief story in The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #262 where paparazzi photographer "Dirty Jake" Jones catches Peter Parker changing clothes at the airport and shoots a picture. After Spidey finally retrieves and destroys the film, Jones consoles himself with the fact that at least he still knows what Spider-Man looks like and asks himself "How hard can it be to find a single face?" ... as the perspective widens to show him standing in the midst of a typically immense New York crowd.
  • The Flash:
    • In a Silver Age issue, Heat Wave manages to unmask the Flash and is disappointed to find that he's a total stranger. It is still a cause for concern for Barry, since Heat Wave could've identified him if he ever ran across Barry in his civilian life, but by the time Heat Wave put two and two together he'd already reformed.
    • In another story, Barry has a psychic teenage stalker who draws him to her and makes him unmask himself... and then rejects him and leaves, let down that he looks so "ordinary". Barry can't help but feel a little insulted.
    • In The Flash (Rebirth), Barry tries to get the anti-hero Fuerza to trust him by removing his mask and revealing his name, only for her to say she both has no idea who he is and doesn't care who he is.
  • Green Lantern: This is Older Than They Think, since this situation first occurred in a Golden Age Green Lantern story. The thugs didn't recognize an unmasked Alan Scott, since he wasn't anybody particularly prominent, but his buddy Doiby Dickles DID.
  • Watchmen: This is revealed retroactively. Long before Rorschach is unmasked, his alter ego is shown on-page many times as a random kook with a sign that reads "the end is near". Because the character was not notable at all, it was easy for readers to dismiss him as being an extra.
  • In Empowered, when some villains unmask the eponymous heroine and are surprised not to recognize her, she stalls for time by trying to convince everyone that she's really a cross-dressing man (despite her ultra-skin-tight costume), and so are all the other members of her super-team. This works, and she's rescued, but the story turns up on the news the next day.
  • X-Men: In Astonishing X-Men as written by Warren Ellis, the X-Men spend the better part of a story arc hunting down a man named Kaga who is using dead X-Men, Brood and Sentinels to try and kill them. Kaga turns out to be an old cripple in a wheelchair. Even better, his motivation for trying to kill them is anticlimactic in itself, amounting to hatred of them for being gorgeous, picturesque mutants, rather than like him, a deformed old freak whose more mundane mutation was a result of Hiroshima. Kaga himself lampshades this, sneering "What were you expecting? A master plan? A scheme to turn off the sun? This is the real world. Hatred and disgust are good enough reasons to want to kill people."
  • Marvel Universe: The long-running Scourge of the Underworld storyline ended when Captain America catches and unmasks Scourge, only to discover that he is no-one we'd ever seen before, and claims to be the previously unmentioned brother of one of the villains killed by Scourge. Naturally, this turns out to be a lie used by Scourge operatives when captured (the use of a vaguely credible backstory tying them to one of their victims) and the real mastermind is Golden Age hero the Angel, who financed and oversaw the villain-killing outfit. Admittedly this was as much a left-field reveal as the original unmasking, doubly so, since it occurred seven years after the first reveal.
  • In her first appearance, non-Paperinik New Adventures Paperinik villain Zafire hypnotizes our hero into committing a caper, and he later gives her the loot in his secret identity of Donald Duck... But, being from out of town, she has no idea of who Donald Duck is. Knowing Paperinik's fondness for wiping the memory of anyone who finds out his secret identity and that she's captured immediately after, we can guess she never got a chance to find out (and in fact in her next appearance the point doesn't come up).
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: When Megatron kills the Decepticon Justice Division with antimatter he reveals their original names as he does it and when he goes for Tarn, Megatron removes his Decepticon insignia mask (which Tarn earlier said was his true face) and... it looks like any random Cybertonian face, however it's instantly said that he was Glitch.
  • Marshal Law: In one issue, a gang of Jerkass supers ambush Law while he's trying to get something done and rip his mask off. They then let him go in disappointment when he doesn't turn out to be a celebrity.
  • Defied in Identity Crisis (2004), during the Darker and Edgier retelling of a story where the Injustice Gang swapped minds with the Justice League. While the villains didn't know exactly who the heroes are, they had enough forethought to take a camera along, so they could analyze the heroes' secret identities at leisure.
  • In Red Menace, rookie superhero the Grey Falcon (in reality a young delivery truck driver) is unmasked at gunpoint in a jazz club full of gangsters. They're all a little perplexed and disappointed to see he's nobody they know.
  • The majority of people who unmasked The Phantom were Arc Villains with no personal relationship to him, and consequently get nothing of note from it save noting that his eyes are striking. They also inevitably suffer a horrible death by the end of the arc.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Bridge, as per Equestrians traveling to the human realm, kaiju also take on a human form. Monster X's skeletal helmet winds up becoming a face obscuring mask and scarf. At the end of the Enjin arc, he lets Aria Blaze take his mask off and he's revealed to look... surprisingly mundane, sans a few scars here or there.

    Films — Animation 
  • Incredibles 2: Played with. After a brief fight with who she believes to be the Screenslaver, Elastigirl defeats him and removes his mask, only to find some brainwashed pizza guy who has no recollection of anything he did with the Screenslaver mask on. Turns out he was a decoy, and the actual Screenslaver turns out to be Evelyn Deavor, who Elastigirl does know.
  • Done the opposite way to the typical use in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse: When Miles reveals he's Spider-Man to his mother at the end of the film, she shows no interest whatsoever... because she doesn't know who Spider-Man is .

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Bubba Ho Tep, the Lone Ranger's heart gives out as he fends off the mummy with a pair of cap pistols. After his death, he's unmasked with no fanfare to reveal a plain looking old man.
  • In Halloween, Michael Myers is unmasked while struggling with Laurie, and he is revealed to be a normal looking 20-something. The most unusual thing about his appearance is the injury that Laurie inflicted to his left eye in the previous scene. This just makes him even more terrifying.
    • Halloween Ends: In a rematch, Laurie unmasks Michael again. After looking at his face, she comments she always thought he was the Boogeyman, but he's just a man.
  • In Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man's mask is removed after he saves a train full of innocent civilians. They take a glance at him and realize that he could be anyone. One guy even states that Peter Parker looks a lot like his own son.
  • Played with in the 2009 Speed Racer movie. Right after the Monte Cristo 5000 race, Speed and Racer X meet on an empty track. When Speed claims that X is his older brother, X removes his mask to show that he is just some guy—not Speed's older brother, Rex Racer. This turns out to be a ruse pulled off thanks to Magic Plastic Surgery, because as we all know, Racer X is Speed's older brother, Rex Racer.
  • Quietly played straight in Kick-Ass. Our hero is beaten down by thugs early into the film and stripped of his costume by the paramedics. They toss the suit out and never tell his father. Later, when Kick-Ass becomes all the rage, it seems no-one remembers that geeky kid who was just one more random mugging victim.
  • Combined with Stranger Behind the Mask during the ending to 8mm: When Nicolas Cage takes the mask off Machine, he's just a bald fat guy who "does it because he enjoys it". Machine even makes a speech about the fact his unmasking was inevitably going to be anti-climactic.
    Machine: What'd you expect? A monster? [puts on a thick set of glasses] My name's George.
  • Played with at the start of The Evil That Men Do. A Torture Technician in a black hood is demonstrating the use of Electric Torture. When he takes off the hood, he's a white-haired, distinguished-looking doctor.
  • The Force Awakens: When Rey calls Kylo Ren a "creature in a mask", he takes his helmet off to show her that he's entirely normal-looking. It's not covering a deformity, concealing his identity (at least not from her), or serving a practical purpose, it's just part of his obsession with emulating Darth Vader. His intention, which is to unnerve her, pays off, as Rey realizes that she could've passed him in the street and not realized who he was; her bemused expression can be accurately summed up as, "I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't that." Shortly into The Last Jedi, he abandons the mask entirely.
  • Death Race 2000. The driver known as Frankenstein warns his new navigator not to take off his mask as he's a grotesque horror from all his racing injuries and reconstructive surgery. She insists on doing so, only to find an unmarked David Carradine; even the burn scars around the eyeholes are fake. Turns out the seemingly indestructible Frankenstein is actually a Legacy Character the government uses to keep their Blood Sport going.
  • It's more or less Played for Laughs in Batman Returns in the climax when Batman and Catwoman are both unmasked in front of Max Shreck, who doesn't even seem to register that billionaire Bruce Wayne is actually The Dark Knight.
    Max: Selina! Selina Kyle! You're fired! And Bruce... Bruce Wayne? Why are you dressed up as Batman?
    Selina: Because he is Batman, you moron!
    Max: Was. (Begins shooting)

  • In the Relativity story "Candy Corn", Overcast is captured by a pair of idiot bad guys named the Buffalo Brothers. He taunts them for not removing his mask while he was helpless, so they immediately remove it. They're rather disappointed to discover that under the mask he's "just some guy".

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Graceland, after FBI Agent Briggs shoots the infamous Cartel assassin known as Jangles, (who always wears a mask and played a major role in ruining Briggs' life years earlier) Briggs removes the mask and then scolds himself for being disappointed to find an ordinary man he doesn't recognize. This is subverted because the man Briggs unmasked was really Inspector Antagonist Agent Badillo, who was attempting an ill-conceived scheme to prove that Briggs is a Dirty Cop which included posing as Jangles. Later, this is Double Subverted when the real Jangles is revealed to be a different but still ordinary man who Briggs also doesn't recognize.
  • In the first version of The Flash (1990):
    • The Trickster explicitly invokes this trope when refusing to unmask the captured Flash. Without the mask, the Flash is "just some guy".
    • When 1950s villain the Ghost captures and unmasks Nightshade, he's nonplussed to discover his old adversary is an African-American, and he certainly has no clue who he is.
  • In the Victorious episode "Robbie Sells Rex", after capturing the Flour Bomber: someone in a mask who runs around the school throwing tins of flour at people, the group unmask him, only for it to turn out to be just a random guy who doesn't even go to that school. Andre, Beck, Jade, and Cat all comment on how anti-climactic this was.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Feeling that Sting and Ric Flair needed a break from feuding, WCW started an angle around a new "Black Scorpion" gimmick, to give Sting a new opponent. The problem here being that the Black Scorpion was supposed to be a figure from Sting's past, so when Ultimate Warrior and Ole Anderson both ended up unavailable, WCW ended up in a corner. It could be no one other than Ric Flair!
  • Rey Mysterio Jr. when unmasked in WCW was a short babyfaced guy, and whilst his athletic ability was certainly intact, he no longer looked like a superhero, which was part of his appeal. CMLL initially forced him to stay unmasked, as per lucha libre tradition, but the reactions from the crowd to unmasked Rey Misterio Jr were so negative and nobody really liked WCW forcing the switch on him anyway (they apparently either didn't understand or just didn't care how big a deal unmasking is to a luchador) that the Wrestling Y Box Commission allowed Rey to remask on the grounds he was no longer Rey Misterio Jr but in fact taking up the identity of the original Rey Misterio.

  • The MMA promotion Bellator attempted to cut a pro-wrestling style promo for an upcoming bout between Stephan Bonnar and Tito Ortiz. Bonnar ranted highly scripted abuse at Ortiz while standing beside a mysterious masked man, whom Bonnar described as his secret weapon in his training against Ortiz. Bonnar pulled off the mask to reveal... someone whom few people in the audience would recognize. It was Justin McCulley, a former training partner of Ortiz whose career had fizzled out years ago after going 2-2 in the UFC.

  • Played with in The Mystery of Irma Vep. Since all the characters are played by only two actors, when Jane the Creepy Housekeeper is unmasked, for a moment, the other character thinks it's actually her husband.

    Video Games 
  • Batman: Arkham Series:
    • Much like the quote here, The Joker defies this trope in Batman: Arkham City when Harley Quinn tries to remove Batman's mask.
      Joker: Get back here, Harley.
      Harley Quinn: But I wanna know who he is, sweetie.
      Joker: No-one's who you think they are, my dear. Why spoil the fun?
    • And in Batman: Arkham Knight, when Commissioner Gordon unmasks Batman on live TV, Scarecrow (who held Robin at gunpoint to force Gordon to unmask Batman) only expresses mild surprise at Batman's Secret Identity. Justified, as Dr. Jonathan Crane doesn't have any personal grudge against Bruce Wayne.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, Visas Marr decides to look under the mask of Darth Nihilus. His face isn't revealed to us, but when asked what she saw she replies: "Just a man. Nothing more." In this case, the anticlimax is itself a dramatic twist because Nihilus is a monstrous Humanoid Abomination who hadn't seemed like he had any humanity remaining in him (or present in the first place) until that moment - the fact that he even could be 'just a man' is itself surprising.
  • Choosing to unmask Killbane in Saints Row: The Third will reveal that Eddie Pryor is just an average-looking, middle-aged white man with a receding, blond buzz cut.
    Bobby: We have seen the face of the Walking Apocalypse and to be honest, it's a man with a receding hairline.
  • In Judgment, there's a masked guy that helps out Yagami from time to time called Jester. When the mask finally comes off, it reveals...that he was just a regular hoodlum, however it turns out it is just another disguise he hides behind to coerce Yagami to help him find the true killer of his sister.

    Visual Novels 
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies: Myriam Scuttlebutt spends most of her time hiding under a cardboard box. However, when she has the requisite Ace Attorney breakdown, she drops her laptop and throws the box off of herself to retrieve it. And underneath, she... looks like a perfectly normal young woman, aside from the purple hair and binder-clip hair decs. The developers initially didn't plan on having her take the box off, but felt that, given her unpleasant behavior to the other characters, revealing her to be a normal person under it would be a nice surprise to the player, whose mental image of her would likely be far uglier.
  • Villainous Nights: In Renzei's first season, the heroine is floored when Cat and Wolf unmask and turn out to be people whose faces she knows from the media: SnapShot celebrity Andi Kim and ChatSphere CEO Duke Vale. She then turns to Badger, who takes off her mask... and is a total stranger.

    Web Video 
  • Lampshaded in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series in the abridging of Yu-Gi-Oh!: Bonds Beyond Time. When Paradox dramatically takes off his mask, this exchange happens;
    Yugi: Oh my god, it's him!
    Yusei: I can't believe it!
    Jaden: Damn! I totally didn't see that coming!
    Yugi: Okay, so does anybody actually know this guy?
    Yusei: Nope.
    Jaden: Never met him.
    Paradox: Of course you don't know who I am, I'm from the future!

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of American Dad!, Roger uses one of his personas to cover his antics although everyone knows it's him. At the end when he's defeated he pulls off the disguise and says "It was me, Roger, all along." Duh.
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • Batman's unmasking of Bane reveals not Venom-twisted monstrosity, but simply a vaguely handsome, boyish face with nothing really remarkable about it.
    • Calendar Girl spends the whole episode obsessing about how no-one can see her face, leading us to think that it's some hideous botched plastic surgery she got after being forced out of modeling. Instead she looks perfectly normal, even outright gorgeous, but she can only see the tiny flaws from her aging.
  • Defied in Batman: The Brave and the Bold (see here)—The Joker doesn't want to unmask Batman because it's Batman he's obsessed with. Finding the person under the hood would just ruin the fun.
  • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker had the Joker find out who Batman was, and is disappointed it is just Bruce Wayne.
    The Joker: It's true, Batsy! I know everything. And kinda like the kid who peeks at his Christmas presents, I must admit, it's sadly anti-climactic. Behind all the sturm and batarangs, you're just a little boy in a playsuit, crying for mommy and daddy! It'd be funny if it weren't so pathetic... Oh, what the heck, I'll laugh anyway! AH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAAAH!!
  • Done humorously so in the The Batman episode "Q&A", in which the villain Cluemaster kidnaps three people involved in the 70's children's game show "Think, Thank, Thunk", who he thinks screwed him out of his rightful win when he really lost fair and square. After all three people are kidnapped, he reveals himself as the man they cheated, and removes his mask. The hostages just stare at him for a few seconds, since it's been decades since they last saw him and he's become morbidly obese in the meantime.
  • Gargoyles: When the Avalon travelers arrive on New Olympus, Elisa is captured by Taurus, who then removes his helmet to reveal that he is a Minotaur. The dramatic music indicated that this was meant to be a shocking reveal, but he looked pretty much the same with his helmet on.
  • Harley Quinn (2019): In the season one finale "The Final Joke", Scarecrow impulsively unmasks a captive Batman, and the Joker is frustrated and depressed to find out his mysterious arch-nemesis is "some boring rich asshole with parental issues."note 
    The Joker: Don't you think I would have done that had I wanted to?! Half the fun of our relationship was the mystery!
  • In Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., The Collector pulls off Spider-Man's mask and angrily rants that he's so ordinary looking that it's a wonder why he would bother concealing his face.
  • Justice League:
    • One episode has Lex Luthor swapping bodies with The Flash. As he's being chased through the Watchtower by the rest of the League, he stops in a bathroom and muses that at the very least, he has the opportunity to learn Flash's secret identity. As the director's commentary notes, since very few masked heroes are like billionaire Bruce Wayne or award-winning journalist Clark Kent in their civilian lives, Lex's reaction realistically (and humorously) couldn't be anything but this trope.
      Lex Luthor: If nothing else I can at least learn the Flash's secret identity...[removes mask]...I have no idea who this is.
    • In Starcrossed, Flash is wary about revealing his identity for the rest of the Justice League... only for Batman (who'd figured out the others' identities beforehand) to solve that problem by outing Flash, Superman, and himself.
    • There are several jokes throughout season 1 of Unlimited about how ugly The Question must be for him to wear a mask. But when Huntress finally takes off The Question's mask after he's been tortured by Cadmus, he looks like a generically handsome guy, though pretty beaten up.
  • Men in Black: The Series: Frank is an alien who spends most of his time disguised as a dog. When he reveals himself without the suit to J after teasing it for an episode, it turns out Frank looks like the same dog with blue skin and antenna. J isn't impressed.
  • In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Peter is Brought Down to Normal and is facing off against the Insidious Six because they realized the dude who was always taking Spider-Man's pictures might have a connection to him, and kidnapped Aunt May. Because Peter lacks most of his powers and is facing off against six super-powered foes, he is quickly beaten and unmasked before the Kingpin and dissatisfied members of his criminal empire like Silvermane... only for Doctor Octopus to declare that Peter Parker could not be Spider-Man as Peter did not have any powers. This pisses off Silvermane and he accuses the Kingpin of kidnapping an old woman and strong-arming her desperate nephew to play along.
  • Simultaneously played straight and averted in one episode of What's New, Scooby-Doo?, when Velma unmasks the culprit to find a random woman she has never seen before, but who another character (and the audience) recognizes as his secretary. Velma is not pleased about the culprit being someone she doesn't know, and insists that this doesn't count as her being wrong.
    • A few other Scooby-Doo episodes across the franchise have subverted this by having the unmasked villain appear to be someone the gang have never met before, only for it to then be revealed that they have seen them before, albeit in some sort of disguise.
  • Wild West COW Boys Of Moo Mesa: When Shock Holiday was captured and unmasked, the characters witnessing the unmasking were disappointed by the lack of any special features at his face. Then again, it was overshadowed by the previous unmasking of the criminal's impersonator. (Marshall Moo Montana and Sheriff Terribull made a bet over who captures Shock Holiday and agreed the loser would leave Cow Town).
  • Rick and Morty: The post-apocalyptic warrior Hemorrhage wears a bucket for a helmet, painted with an intimidating visage, and boasts that nobody has seen his true face and lived. Beneath that helmet, he looks like a conventionally handsome young man... with a slightly lame moustache.
  • South Park had a variation of this with the first appearance of Mysterion. At the end of the episode he takes off his hood to reveal his face, which while shocking to the town is still indistinguishable from any other kid character. A later episode casually reveals his actual identity to be Kenny.
  • At the end of The Owl House episode "Follies at the Coven Day Parade", Emperor Belos reveals to his subjects what he looks like under his mask for the first time since his rule began half a century ago. Gus and Willow (who had been discussing why he wears the mask at the beginning of the episode) are both unimpressed.


Video Example(s):


Justice League Unmasks

When the Flash expresses reluctance about unmasking, Batman makes it clear he already knows everyone's identities, making it a far less climactic reveal. (Plus, any show watchers already know Batman and Superman's identities.)

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / AntiClimacticUnmasking

Media sources: