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Deathly Unmasking

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"Remember: once they find out who you are, you die."
Anakin Skywalker: Luke, help me take this mask off.
Luke Skywalker: But you'll die!
Anakin: Nothing can stop that now. Just for once, let me look on you with my own eyes.

There's a tendency for masked characters in fictions to only be unveiled in their final moments. This can occur either in the moments leading up to their death, or it can be a post-mortem unmasking immediately afterwards.

Reasons for this vary across depictions, though the most popular involves a last-minute dramatic reveal of the character's identity. However, it can also be used in Dying as Yourself, if a mask plays a notable role in their assumed identity. It can even be used as a cause of death if the victim is somehow dependent on their mask... and on rare occasions, it can be all of the above.

A rare variant on this trope inverts the usual features: here, the the masked character is unharmed - but is instead unmasked for the benefit of another dying character.

Whatever the case, a character is dying or dead, and it's time for the mask to come off.

Compare This Was His True Form for a shapeshifter's true identity being revealed at death.

BEWARE: As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers follow, both for deaths and possible secret identities. You Have Been Warned!


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Cooking Master Boy: Invoked by the masked chef. Mao defeats the masked chef in the cooking duel and finally gets an antidote to cure everyone who has eaten food made of poison frog meat (which was provided by the masked chef). The masked chef then unmasks himself, revealing that his face has lots of scars. He then drinks his own poison as a result of his defeat, sets a house on fire and enters into it and never comes out. Alas, Poor Villain, he lost his mind.
  • In episode 3 of Excel♡Saga, Excel is captured by soldiers in a jungle and thrown into a pit alongside an iron-masked prisoner who has some connection to Nabeshin. During the breakout, the masked prisoner gets shot, at which point the mask falls off, revealing a beautiful blonde womannote , whom Nabeshin addresses as Tetsuko... and who keeps speaking in the same deep, manly voice as she did while masked.
  • The Big Bad of Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water is never seen without a mask over his face until the last episode. In his final moments his mask burns away to ash and peels off his head, revealing a split-second glimpse of his face.
  • In Spider-Man: The Manga, the first villain Yu Komori has to defeat as Spider-Man is the counterpart of Electro, who was killed by Yu. When unmasked after his death, it's revealed he was the big brother of Rumiko, the only friend Yu has in the manga, who took care of his sister without revealing his villainous ways.

    Comic Books 
  • During the conclusion of Armageddon 2001, Monarch kidnaps Hawk and Dove for the sole purpose of killing Dove in front of her partner in order to make him lose control. It works, and in a fit of rage, Hawk proceeds to beat Monarch to death. The villain's helmet falls off during the fight, revealing his identity: future Hawk himself.
  • In Marvel Comics #1000, Jim Gardley is found bleeding out by Matt Masters. While Matt wants to take the Eternity Mask off of Jim so he won't choke on his own blood, Jim begs him not to, as he claims the mask gives him a Healing Factor that lets him withstand grave injuries. True to form, once Matt takes off the mask, Jim succumbs to his wounds and dies.
  • Downplayed variant in The Sandman (1989): when confronted by Dream at the serial killers' convention, the Corinthian finally removes his omnipresent shades to reveal his true nature as a living nightmare — signified by the fact that he sports tiny mouths instead of eyes. Dream then annihilates him.
  • Subverted in V for Vendetta: after V is shot by Finch, he staggers back to the Shadow Gallery and dies in front of Evie. She briefly considers removing his mask, imagining a number of potential identities, including her lover Gordon, her father, and even Evie herself; in the end, however, she decides not to unmask him, opting to give him the Viking Funeral he requested and take up his mantle as the new V.
  • In The Walking Dead, Beta, who had become the Big Bad of The Whisperer War arc after the death of Alpha, is never seen without his mask, and at one point comes to from being unconscious and kills one of his own men who was in the process of taking off his mask. The mask never comes off until he's defeated for good and on the edge of death, revealing him to be an In-Universe Celebrity Survivor.
  • The finale of Watchmen features Rorschach being the only member of the team unwilling to cooperate with Adrian Veidt's plan for utopia - only for his attempted exit to be brought up short by Doctor Manhattan. Unable to fight his way out but refusing to compromise "even in the face of Armageddon", Rorschach doffs his hat and distinctive shifting inkblot mask - opting to be without his "face" in his final moments - and tearfully demands that Manhattan get it over with. He obliges.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • In BIONICLE: Legends of Metru Nui, Lhikan doffs his mask before dying from Taking the Bullet meant for Vakama.
  • A variant in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. Typically in the series, Kenny's face is almost entirely obscured by his hoodie. However, right before he performs a Heroic Sacrifice to save his friends that gets him sent back to the afterlife, he drops his hoodie to tell them goodbye before fading away, giving the audience a clear view of his head for the first time. Kenny's deaths in the series are never permanent, but the unmasking made this particular death feel more significant for The Movie.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse:
    • Just before delivering the killing blow to a near-dead Spider-Man early in the film, Kingpin unmasks him, exposing his secret identity.
    • After finding out Miles is the kid he's been trying to kill for most of the movie, the Prowler removes his mask - revealing himself to be Uncle Aaron. Despite the Kingpin's orders to kill Miles along with all the other spider-heroes in the house, he can't go through with it; seconds later, he's shot in the back by Kingpin. Despite Miles' best effort to get Aaron to safety, he quickly succumbs to his wounds.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Batman:
    • Used as a tactic in Batman. He falls from a significant height getting Vicki Vale to safety, lies "dead" long enough for the two crooks to try to unmask and loot him, then leaps up and remonstrates them.
    • Comparatively early in The Dark Knight, the Joker captures one of the Batman impersonators and unmasks him on camera, before gleefully torturing him to death offscreen... and then puts the corpse back in the mask and costume, before stringing the poor bastard up in front of city hall.
  • Brazil:
    • During one of Sam Lowry's dreams, he encounters a gigantic samurai complete with mask at the heart of the nightmarish city, clearly representing the full strength of Central Services. After a harrowing battle, he finally manages to slay the samurai and remove its mask, revealing the face of Spoor, the Central Services technician who was bullying him in the real world.
    • In the finale, government interrogator Jack Lint is dressed in his uniform baby-faced mask and about to torture Sam when he's unexpectedly shot in the head by a rebel sniper. Stumbling around in confusion, he has just enough time to get his mask off — revealing the gaping exit wound in his forehead — before collapsing dead to the ground.
  • In Dick Tracy, the villain known as The Blank wears a featureless mask to conceal their identity. At the end of the film, after The Blank is mortally wounded by gunfire, their mask is removed and they're revealed to actually be Breathless Mahoney, the woman who's been trying to get Dick Tracy to fall in love with her. She has a few last words with Tracy and then dies.
  • Very early in House of 1000 Corpses, Captain Spaulding's roadside museum gets held up by a pair of Stupid Crooks in absolutely ridiculous-looking masks. The confrontation ends with Spaulding annoying the two stick-up artists into removing their masks before taking them down in short order — one being shot in the back of the head by Spaulding, the other being clubbed to the ground by his security guard and then shot in the face at point blank range by Spaulding.
  • The inverse variation of this trope is invoked in Hush where Maddie tries to convince the Malevolent Masked Man that, since she has no idea who he is, he can just let her live and leave. He removes his own mask - clearly to inform her that he doesn't care if she sees his face because he isn't going to let her get out alive.
  • The Invisible Man: After shooting the eponymous villain and his suit to pieces, Cecilia goes over and unmasks the body - revealing that it's not Adrian after all, but his brother Tom.
  • It's a Wonderful Knife (2023): Winnie unmasks the killer angel after electrocuting him, to reveal that it's the Mayor.
  • Throughout Kingdom of Heaven, the sickly King Baldwin IV wears an ornate mask to hide the scars left by leprosy. After barely managing to resolve a diplomatic incident between Saladin and Reynald de Chatillon, Baldwin's exertions end up worsening his illness, and he finally dies. While his body is lying in state, his grieving sister removes his mask in order to see his face one last time - naturally finding it horribly disfigured.
  • The climax of Men in Black features the Bug finally removing the decomposing skin of Edgar to reveal his true form so he can take down Agents Jay and Kay and escape the planet. Fortunately, he ends up being blown in half by Kay during the ensuing battle - and then blasted to bits by Laurel Weaver.
  • Mission: Impossible II: Ambrose shoots and kills what appears to be Ethan Hunt. Then he notices an injury on "Ethan's" finger and unmasks him to reveal that he is actually his Dragon Stamp, whom Ethan had dressed in his clothes and a latex mask of his own face.
  • The Orphanage:
    • Laura's investigations into the eponymous building reveals that a disfigured child was actually living in a hidden room under the orphanage. Normally kept out of sight by his overprotective mother, little Tomas was allowed outside on the condition that he wore a sack mask; unfortunately, while on an outing to a beachside cave with the orphans, one of them stole his mask in a poorly thought-out attempt to make him show his face to them all. Without his mask, Tomas refused to leave his hiding place in the cave - only to end up getting drowned when the tide came in.
    • The film concludes with the ghosts of Tomas and the orphans leading Laura to the hidden room beneath the house, where she finds a masked body lying on the floor by the staircase; thanks to the distinctive sack mask, the corpse appears identical to Tomas... but when unmasked, she discovers that it's actually Simon, her missing son. Having dressed up in Tomas' old mask for his birthday, he hid in the concealed basement... but found himself trapped down there after Laura unwittingly blocked the secret door with construction scaffolds during her first big search for him, and in his panicked attempts to escape, Simon broke through a banister on the staircase and fell to his death.
  • The Phantom of the Opera:
    • During the climax of Phantom of the Opera, Christine unmasks the Phantom AKA Eric Claudin, revealing his disfigured face just in time for Raoul and Anatole to burst in on him. Following a brief standoff, Raoul fires a shot that causes the unstable cellar ceiling to collapse, burying Eric under tons of rubble. Though the death is obscured by the ensuing dust cloud and his body is not seen, his discarded mask is soon found lying on the floor in the wake of the cave-in as a visual shorthand for certain death.
    • The Phantom of the Opera concludes with the Phantom unmasking himself, acid-induced scarring and all, before pushing Christine out of the way of the Falling Chandelier of Doom, getting crushed to death under it in the process.
  • Phantom of the Paradise:
    • In the finale, Swan wears a fancy silver mask for his wedding in order to ensure that his inner corruption won't be revealed by the journalists photographing the event. However, halfway through the ceremony, the Phantom destroys Swan's Faustian contract and dives in to rescue Phoenix from being assassinated - knocking Swan's mask off in the process, revealing that his face has begun to melt as his contract burns. Enraged, Swan tries to strangle Phoenix to death in one final attempt to claim her voice as per her own contract, only for the Phantom to deal Swan a fatal stabbing wound with the metal tip of a hat stolen from one of the dancers. In the confusion that followed, Swan is carried off by the frenzying crowd as he bleeds to death.
    • The Phantom himself suffers this almost immediately afterwards: because his own Magically-Binding Contract was due to terminate with Swan, Winslow's self-inflicted wounds immediately re-open as soon as he's finished killing Swan, causing him to swiftly bleed out. He has just enough time to remove his mask and bid an attempted farewell to Phoenix before dying in the chaos onstage.
  • Prom Night (1980): After being mortally wounded with his own axe by Kim while trying to kill Nick, the masked killer stumbles outside and collapses, allowing Kim to unmask him as he lies dying - revealing that he was her brother Alex all along.
  • In RoboCop 2, OCP's attempts to create a successor to Robocop are met with several ruinous failures, likely due to the unwilling nature of the cyborg modification process. In one particularly horrific case, the prototype actually goes so far as to rip its helmet and faceplate off to reveal the wire-studded human skull beneath it, severing its life support system in the process.
  • An example of the inverted instance occurs in Scream: After having her throat slashed and as she slowly bleeds out, Casey takes off Ghostface's mask as she dies. The audience doesn't see the killer's face but she does. (Her look of recognition implies that the Ghostface in question is probably Stu, her ex-boyfriend.)
  • Spider-Man features a climatic brawl between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin in which the latter removes his mask and reveals his true identity as Norman Osborn in an attempt to play on his opponent's sympathies. He's buying time to remotely direct his glider into position so it can run Spider-Man through as soon as his guard's down, but unfortunately for Osborn, Spidey is able to sense the attack coming and leaps out of the way, resulting in the Goblin getting impaled on his own glider. He dies unmasked a moment later.
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: in a now-restored Deleted Scene, the Klingon assassin sent to kill the Federation President is unmasked after being shot dead by Scotty, revealing that he's actually the all too human Starfleet operative Colonel West.
  • Star Wars: In the finale of Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader, having been turned back to the Light Side of the Force by his love for his son Luke and mortally wounded in the process of defeating Emperor Palpatine, asks Luke to help him remove his mask so he can see him with his own eyes before he dies. In this case, he's not just revealing his true face and finally reclaiming his former identity as Anakin Skywalker, but also cutting short what little remains of his life; without his mask's life-support functions, he will die — though, as he points out, this would have happened anyway sooner or later thanks to his wounds.
  • During the climax of The Witches, the eponymous witches are given a dose of Formula 86 and transformed into mice. Despite her best efforts to resist the effects of the potion, the Grand High Witch changes to the point that her human facemask ceases to fit and falls off; moments later, she completes her transformation into a particularly ghastly-looking mouse, whereupon she's chopped in half by the manager.

  • Throughout The Magicians, the mysterious Beast has been hiding his face behind a leafy branch that perpetually hovers in place above his collar like a mask; in the final confrontation at Ember's Tomb, he finally does away with it, revealing himself to be none other than Martin Chatwin. Soon after, the branch ends up getting burned away along with the rest of his clothes during the climactic Wizards Duel between him and Alice, and after finally making use of a Deadly Upgrade, his opponent is able to rip his head off.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Avengers (1960s) episode "Too Many Christmas Trees", Steed fatally shoots "Father Christmas", the mastermind behind an elaborate spy ring. When Steed and Mrs. Peel unmask him, it's revealed to be publisher and party host Brandon Storey.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the finale of "The Caves of Androzani", masked terrorist Sharaz Jek finds himself face-to-face with his old enemy Morgus at long last. Eager to finally take his revenge, Jek tears his distinctive black-and-white mask off to reveal the burns he suffered when Morgus first betrayed him, then attacks head-on; in the process, he's shot in the back several times by Stotz, but Jek is still able to kill Morgus with his bare hands before finally succumbing to his wounds. He dies unmasked in the arms of the Salateen android moments later.
    • During "World War Three", the Slitheen only end up getting killed once they've done away with their human skin suits: in the first case, Sip unmasks to murder Jackie Tyler, only to get a jug of vinegar to the face, causing him to explode into gunk. In the second, the rest of the Slitheen unmask to enjoy their imminent victory, only to end up getting caught by surprise when Mickey Smith orders a missile strike on 10 Downing Street, killing all but one of them before they can even slip back into disguise.
  • Farscape:
    • In "The Ugly Truth", the crew of Moya are accused of murder by the Plokavians, and Stark opts to take the blame for the crime in order to save the others. In the final seconds before his execution by "dispersal", he removes his half-mask — revealing that the energy behind it has turned black and lifeless — and gives it to Zhaan, opting to die unmasked. However, this later proves to be his means of returning from the dead...
    • In "Die Me Dichotomy", Diagnosan Tocot wears a face-concealing mask to protect his vulnerable sensory organs from infection, as the same abilities that make him so effective as a doctor leave him with an extremely fragile immune system. Consequently, when Scorpius arrives on the planet to retrieve the wormhole information recently extracted from Crichton's brain, he makes sure that anyone who can help Crichton recover from the surgery is dead, namely by ripping off Tocot's mask and breathing on him; Tocot instantly collapses. However, in the next episode, Rygel arrives seconds after Scorpy's departure and is able to help Tocot into a bioneutralizer.
    • Variation: Zhaan spends the first few episodes of season 3 wearing a shawl over her head to hide the lesions that have begun to appear as her terminal illness worsens and the crew struggle to find a planet where she can recuperate. In the finale of "Self-Inflicted Wounds Part 2", she opts to be the one to disconnect the Pathfinder ship from Moya, an act that will end with her being flung into the wormhole to her death. The others protest, but Zhaan explains she's past all hope of being cured by now, removing her shawl to show the horribly infected sores on her skull. As such, Zhaan experiences her Obi-Wan Moment bare-faced.
  • In The Haunting of Bly Manor episode "The Romance Of Certain Old Clothes," Viola Lloyd's ghost wanders aimlessly into the manor in search of her daughter, oblivious to the fact that her family left years ago, and the house has since been converted into a hospital. A Plague Doctor notices her intruding and removes his mask so he can get a better look at her while he explains that the building isn't safe - only for Viola to snap his neck in a fit of rage. As a result, the doctor becomes the third ghost at Bly.
  • Misfits:
    • In season 2, the masked future Simon comes to Alisha's rescue one last time to save her from the delusional Tim, taking a bullet in the process. Unmasking himself, he is able to trick Tim into thinking that his imaginary mission is over, saving the rest of the ASBO 5 from further delusion-induced violence; then, he shares a heartfelt goodbye with Alisha - though not before requesting a Viking Funeral just so nobody else learns his true identity.
    • In the same season, Kelly falls in love with the oddly-behaved Bruno, who turns out to be wanted for manslaughter. While evading the police at a fancy dress party, he wears a gorilla costume and attempts to explain himself to Kelly, revealing that he was altered by the Storm like the rest of the team, though he doesn't explain precisely how he changed. Unfortunately, it's not long before a detective sees through his disguise; during the ensuing confrontation, Bruno is fatally wounded... and when Kelly removes his gorilla mask, she finds that Bruno has already begun reverting back to his true form: an actual gorilla.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • In a deleted scene "The Inquisitor", the final confrontation between Lister and the eponymous villain plays out a little differently. Here, the Inquisitor removes his mask to discuss Lister's reasons for saving his life - revealing his true face for the very first time. Consequently, when the Inquisitor is erased from history by the booby-trapped time gauntlet after trying to kill Lister with it, he dies unmasked.
    • In another deleted scene, this one in "Terrorform," the big battle between the Unspeakable One's Hooded Legions and Rimmer's revived Self-Confidence and Self-Respect ends with one of the Hooded mooks (referred to as "Loneliness") being killed and unmasked, revealing it to be a perfect duplicate of Rimmer.
  • An inverted example happens in Season 1 of Slasher. The original Executioner, Tom, takes off his mask after the mortally wounded Rachel reveals to him that she's pregnant with his child - just so he can cut his own daughter out of her.
  • Squid Game:
    • The masked guards who enforce the Deadly Games are explicitly informed that their lives are forfeit as soon as the players learn their true identities. As such, when Player 119 forces one guard to unmask in "The Man With The Umbrella" (pictured above), he's shot dead by the Front Man almost immediately afterwards.
    • In "A Fair World", the guards' organ trafficking operation falls to pieces, resulting in two separate instances of this trope: after Player 111 cracks under pressure and tries to escape, one of the traffickers unmasks himself in a gesture of trust, just so he can get close enough to Player 111 to kill him - only to end up getting shot in the back by the Front Man. Meanwhile, Jun-ho interrogates one of the traffickers for information on the whereabouts of his brother, resulting in the luckless guard being unmasked and - after telling Jun-ho everything he knows - getting shot in the head at point-blank range.
  • The Twilight Zone episode "The Masks" features dying millionaire Jason Foster forcing his unsympathetic relatives to wear a set of enchanted masks until midnight as a final condition for inheriting his fortune. Most of these masks reflect the grotesque natures possessed by the various members of the family, but Jason's mask is the skeletal face of death, supposedly in direct contrast to his lively state. At the final stroke of midnight, the old man finally dies... only for his family to discover that all of them have been permanently disfigured by their masks. By contrast, when Jason is unmasked post-mortem, it's found that he still retains his true appearance.
    Dr. Samuel Thorne: This must be death. No horror, no fear... nothing but peace.

  • Phantom: The titular character is unmasked twice in the show, but the second one is this trope. After Erik has been fatally shot by Carrière, Christine unmasks him and kisses him without fear (in apology for previously running away or fainting, depending on production, at his deformity and out of pity for his tragic life).

    Video Games 
  • After having his secret identity revealed on television by Scarecrow in Batman: Arkham Knight, Batman/Bruce Wayne returns to Wayne Manor to enact the Knightfall protocol. Here, after removing his mask one final time, he vanishes into the depths of the house - which is promptly consumed by a massive explosion. Batman's fate is not elaborated upon, though he's presumed dead.
  • In the intro to BioShock 2, the newly-introduced Subject Delta is hit with a hypnotize plasmid and ordered to remove his helmet by Sofia Lamb. As this is seen from Delta's perspective, we don't actually see what's under the mask, but the point of this isn't to reveal his true face: it's to make him easier to dispose of. Sofia then hands the Big Daddy a pistol and orders Delta to shoot himself. Unable to resist, he complies... only to wake up alive ten years later.
  • In Bravely Default, after defeating Alternis Dim, his helm splits open as he staggers back, revealing he looks identical to Ringabel. The violent rocking of Grandship in the Holy Pillar causes him to stumble over the edge and plummet to his death before he can give any answers.
  • Subverted in Darksiders II. Death takes off his mask before throwing himself into the Well of Souls at the end of the game. However due to this being concurrent with the first game he is promptly called away by the breaking of the 4th seal and so survives.
  • Dante's final battle with Nelo Angelo in Devil May Cry kicks off with the boss magically removing his horned helmet, revealing that except for his Glowing Eyes of Doom, he's a dead ringer for Dante himself. The battle ends with Nelo Angelo suffering apparently fatal injuries and exploding into light, leaving behind only the other half of the amulet Dante inherited from his mother; revealing further that the Black Knight was actually Dante's brother Vergil.
  • As with other Bethesda Fallout games, Fallout: New Vegas allows you to loot the bodies of your enemies, taking their gear for your own - including masks and helmets. As a result, this is the only circumstance in which you'll ever see Legate Lanius without his distinctive glaring helm.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn has the Black Knight remove his helmet before his duel to the death with Ike, revealing his true identity as Zelgius.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: Upon playing "The Face Beneath" paralogue (Caspar/Mercedes) on Azure Moon, the Death Knight's helmet is removed as Mercedes comforts her dying brother, lamenting that she was never there to take care of him.
  • After the final confrontation with Darth Nihilus in the climax of Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, Visas Marr — if she survived the boss battle — has the option of removing the dead Sith lord's mask. However, only she sees what's under it, and when asked what she saw, will only reply "A man, nothing more."
  • Magic and Mayhem: After the Overlord is defeated, the final cutscene shows the mask slipping off his lifeless body.
  • Mass Effect 3:
    • Not long after first encountering the perpetually-helmeted Cerberus troopers that have overtaken the Mars base, Kaiden/Ashley removes a visor from one of the dead soldiers to get at a transmitter - revealing that the man underneath has been forcibly implanted with Reaper tech and now resembles a Husk.
    • Like all Quarians in the Mass Effect series, Tali keeps her mask on at all times for the sake of her health. However, if you can't make peace between the Quarians and the Geth and choose to side with the latter faction, Tali is left watching in horror as her entire species is wiped out by the ensuing Geth counterattack. Crossing the Despair Event Horizon, she removes her mask so she can take in her home planet's atmosphere for the first and last time - and then jumps to her death.
  • Played straight but then inverted in Metal Gear Solid when you defeat Psycho Mantis. Be it out of curiosity or to make the man's last words easier to say, Snake removes the his gas mask to reveal the crippled and emaciated "face" beneath. However, Mantis then asks as a Last Request that Snake put the mask back on, as it helps block people's thoughts from entering his mind and he wants to spend his last moments "alone in his own little world". Snake complies.
  • In Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, after Guybrush rips off LeChuck's leg via voodoo, LeChuck asks Guybrush to take off his mask, revealing him to be Guybrush's brother Chuckie. This was largely ignored by the sequels, because it (and everything that follows) doesn't make a whole lot of sense and the guy who wrote it refuses to explain it.
  • Mother 3: In the final confrontation with the Masked Man AKA Claus (Lucas's missing twin brother) he becomes so overwhelmed with memories of his deceased mother, Hinawa, that he removes his helmet before he fires a bolt of lightning at Lucas. Lucas was wearing the Franklin Badge so the lightning reflected him and since he used it pre-emptively to knock out your entire party, he did it to kill himself.
  • Persona 2: Queen Aquarius is unmasked after she pushes Joker out of the way of the Longinus spear and dies from the blow. Her identity is Junko Kuruso, mother of Jun Kuruso/Joker.
  • The Secret World discusses this as a literal cause of death: when talking with Marianne Chen at the abandoned CDC camp in the foothills of the Blue Mountain, she mentions that when the Fog first swept across Solomon Island, one of her team members made the mistake of removing the mask of his hazmat suit. Immediately, the airborne toxins within the Fog took control of him and marched the poor stupid, bastard into a Suicide by Sea.
  • SOMA
    • During the events of Transmission, Martin Fisher is transformed into one of the WAU's proxies, appearing as a murderous diving-suited monstrosity. In the end, Imogen Reed is able to stop him by removing his helmet, revealing that his new self is held together entirely by Structure Gel - and without the helmet holding it in place, the gel immediately spills out and kills him.
    • Also during the backstory, after Theta is overtaken by the proxies, a small group of survivors managed to escape across the ocean floor in an attempt to reach Omicron. Unfortunately, Omicron was locked down at that point and most of the team didn't have enough oxygen to reach any other shelter in time; having spent the last few minutes suffering a complete Freak Out, Peter Strasky decides not to wait the remaining few seconds for asphyxiation to kick in, and instead removes his helmet so he'll drown immediately. Simon can later find his body, complete with the audio recording of his final moments.
    • In the main game, Simon manages to break into Omicron and discovers that the inhabitants have all been killed courtesy of the WAU overloading their black boxes. While looking for a power suit that can get him down to the Abyss in one piece, he finds the body of Raleigh Herber in the diving room, already suited up and seemingly intact... but when he removes the helmet, he finds out the hard way that Herber's head has been reduced to bloody soup behind her visor.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: For the majority of the series, Adam Taurus has his face obscured by his signature mask before briefly replacing it with a strip of black cloth. During his fight with Blake, he unmasks himself, revealing to the audience that his left eye is horribly scarred due to his face being branded like cattle. By the next episode, he gets stabbed through the chest by Blake and Yang, causing him to fall off a cliff, break his neck, and land in the river below.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The only time legendary Masked Luchador El Santo appeared in public without his mask was in the last TV appearance he did before he passed away.


Video Example(s):


Tali'Zorah Vas Normandy

With her entire species being rendered extinct in a war she couldn't stop, Tali removes her mask and dives backwards off a cliff to her death.

How well does it match the trope?

4.75 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / DeathlyUnmasking

Media sources: