Follow TV Tropes


Faceless Masses

Go To
OK, now that's just ridiculous, even for this show.

"When I search a faceless crowd
A swirling mass of gray and black and white
They don't look real to me
In fact, they look so strange"
The Rolling Stones, "Salt of the Earth"

Animation is on a very strict timeframe almost all of the time. It's a massive chore trying to get the main characters, their backgrounds, and their actions drawn and colored. One can forgive the animators for skimping on the unnecessary bits... like nine-tenths of the population of the show.

The extras in a scene tend to be ridiculously less detailed than all the other characters, if detailed at all. Expect them to lack certain items like facial features, outlines, or limbs. Occasionally, their faces may be Henohenomoheji.

But who cares? They're just there to keep the world from feeling deserted.

This is an Animation Trope, but tends to be more noticeable in anime. Contrast with Eccentric Townsfolk, where they all get at least one quirk, or Cast of Snowflakes, where even one-shot extras get detailed faces.

The more extreme form of Only Six Faces and Flashy Protagonists, Bland Extras. Should not be confused with The Faceless, nor with Faceless Goons. For a series where the detailed characters are the only people living in that world, see Minimalist Cast.

Can very easily be creepy (especially if depicted side-by-side with fully detailed characters), although savvy animators will take advantage of this depending on the mood of the show.

This item is available in the Trope Co. catalog.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Many notable Shōnen titles that involve battling with an audience do this, such as Pokémon: The Series or Yu-Gi-Oh! Pokémon is especially notorious for this as seen in details of the opening in the Latias and Latios movie in which most of the crowds on the stands were just a bunch of colorful blob-like beings... in 3D.
  • This was used for Morisato Keiichi's "dorm eviction" scene in the second TV episode of Ah! My Goddess.
  • In the ARIA manga there is a variety in that extras usually still are have distinctive features, but that other Prima undines aside from the three main ones are drawn without faces.
  • Particularly common and pronounced in Atashin'chi, where even in close-up shots extras are gray, ghost-like blobs.
  • In Anne Happy every student others than the five main characters are drawn without face.
  • Shows up in a few scenes in Azumanga Daioh.
    • The background characters would randomly turn into simple white figures. Played with in a brief scene where you actually see two of them talking to each other (kind of creepy actually).
    • Sakaki and Kagura walk past some faceless club recruiters... and are then followed by a massive crowd of them.
    • At the end of first year, Yukari announced that the entire class may move up to second year. Cue the dancing outlines!
    • Several classroom scenes take a less uncanny, yet still budget route by replacing the students, when not the main focus of a scene, with brightly-colored cloud-like shapes.
  • In the anime adaptation of Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts, any unimportant character will just have their class's letter on their face. Some of these characters even have names, too...
  • In Blend-S, all customers of Cafe Stile are drawn this way. This even applies to Itou, who is supposed to be dating Mafuyu after the events of Episode 10.
  • In Case Closed, when someone is suspiciously eavesdropping on a conversation (or whatever) and we don't know who it is, they are just a black silhouette with an utterly bald, mannequin-like head. (The eyes are still shown, though, and they're often bloodshot psychotically.)
  • Cromartie High School hangs a lampshade on this somewhat in one episode, where two characters who only show up for that episode and talk to the main character are drawn with as little detail as to look less like drawn characters and more like poorly constructed paper-cutouts.
  • Similar to the generic NPCs in Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls (as mentioned below), every non-notable character in Side: Despair (the Reserve Course in particular) of Danganronpa 3 is translucent blue. This is actually played for comedy in episode 4, when the judges go from blue to having proper designs after eating Andou's candy.
  • Di Gi Charat hangs a lampshade on it by drawing its minor characters as literal finger puppets, even when they're in the foreground.
  • Doujin Work has a minor example: crowds are not faceless, but monochrome.
  • Durarara!! features gray, unmoving masses. When someone in a crowd becomes important, they become colored-in. In episode 11, a wave of color washes over a crowd of hundreds as they are revealed to be Dollars members.
  • Fushigi Yuugi had faceless blue people in the background in the beginning of the series, and in episode 4, all of the people clamoring to get to Miaka and Tamahome were in blue, save for two people. Near the end of the series, look-alikes of Soi and Yui appear in the crowd.
  • Parodied in Giant Ojou-sama. All the regular citizens are depicted as featureless white figures. However, it is revealed that they are actually wearing special full-body suits, which allow them to survive the many Kaiju attacks and other giantess-related shenanigans. The readers are also shown a helpful chart, which compares a citizen in normal clothes and a citizen in a protective suit... both of which look exactly the same.
  • At one point in the opening theme of HeartCatch Pretty Cure!, Tsubomi and Erika are chased by some formless, keyhole-shaped people. Itsuki, Kanae, Nanami and a random background student are the only ones with definite shapes, but the last two become formless by the next shot.
  • During the first episode of Hetalia: Axis Powers where all of the nation-tans are gathered in a meeting, at most two characters are rendered. All the rest around the table are like this.
  • Many of the extras in Hidamari Sketch are rendered in various fashions. Commonly, the limbless, faceless type is used, with blue and the English word "boy" indicating boys and pink and the word "girl" indicating girls. During the entrance exam, the first room Yuno entered had tons of white faceless masses sitting at desks, each with "PRESSURE" written on them. Also, when the characters went to a matsuri, all the extras were rendered as Game of Life pegs.
  • His and Her Circumstances did this frequently, where extras were often drawn as white silhouettes.
  • In the anime version of the The iDOLM@STER, the audience in their final live is just a mashup of 2D Visuals, 3D Effects.
  • Jewelpet Happiness: incidental and background characters are often drawn as simple blue figures that have a mouth and eyes (as lines) at best.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean, some scenes portray background characters as solid white cutouts.
  • Also seen in Lucky Star. However, the "faceless-ness" of background characters vary between episodes, from humanoid-shaped blobs in earlier episodes, to outlines of people with hair, and occasional facial features. Leads to jarring effects when Stock Footage of earlier episodes is used in later ones. The most jarring part of this trope's appearance in Lucky Star is that the extras never move an inch, even when they're in the foreground. Sometimes background characters are drawn in complete detail, but are tinted blue to make the main characters stand out.
  • The second season of Minami-ke, produced by a different studio, replaces the skin colouring and anatomy of previously fully-animated extras with silhouettes... even in closeup. Every character that didn't have a speaking part in the first series is now a black/darkened outline with hair and clothes, facial features added as required. Quite disconcerting. As the series got closer to the end, there seemed to be more drawn-in extras than black shadow, but still, what the heck?
  • Background characters in Mononoke are literally faceless. The exact specifics depend on the arc, but they'll have clothes, weird skin tones, and usually something... abstract instead of a face.
    • Zashiki-Warashi: While the background characters have hair and clothing, their skin is blank white or black with spinning flower motifs. This is especially unsettling when they are being intimate with normal-looking characters.
    • Noppera-bo: The abusive in-laws' faces are never shown on camera; if one of their heads is shown, the face is covered with a demonic mask.
    • Bakeneko: Anyone who isn't connected with the bakeneko's revenge is a half-dressed mannequin during any action that takes place in the bakeneko's illusion or in a flashback. Again, it's very strange to see a normal, non-insane woman in bed with a blank-faced mannequin. And one person even turns from a mannequin into one of the main characters. Was that supposed to represent us realizing he was important!?
  • Noted in the Author's Notes in the Negima! Magister Negi Magi manga, where he specifically points out what background elements were added digitally, and that digitally empty blobs in the background make a scene look crowded with much less time per drawn person, enabling much larger crowds.
  • Parodied in Pani Poni Dash!, where nearly all the non-regular characters had obvious identical female or male designs. Or hilariously inhuman, such as a classroom of non-regulars all having flower pots for heads, or a classroom largely made up of scarecrows. To make that even more extreme they are refereed as "the rest of class" during introduction.
  • In Penguindrum, the Faceless Masses take the form of the stylised figures commonly seen in road signs and public service announcements.
  • Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream uses colored silhouettes for anyone not part of the main cast.
  • Deconstructed in Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion. The background characters become faceless masses as the movie goes on, because they are not real: they are animated dolls whose only purpose is to make the fake city that is Homura's witch labyrinth look realistic. Their faces fade away as Homura slowly comes to realize that everything she sees is a fake illusion, because she is, in fact, in the process of becoming a witch.
  • And in the Spiritual Successor Puni Puni☆Poemi, the classroom scenes use perpetually static people, but once the Giant Robot lands, a whole of ONE unidentified character is more than a featureless white person-shaped blob.
  • The Rose of Versailles has them, just grayed out instead of faceless.
  • Sailor Moon uses this very noticeably in episodes where there is an audience of some sort. Due to the fact that the setting in this case is a darkened theater/auditorium, the Faceless Masses are depicted as shadowy silhouettes...but they also have weird white stereotypically-alien-like eyes. Rather scary, actually.
  • Saiyuki's mangaka has a tendency to use variation on Faceless Masses where, while they having detailed costumes and mouths, has no visible eyes other than a vague shadow. All background characters and mooks would have this, even if the panel focuses on their face.
  • The backgound and foreground attendees of the Comiket-esque convention in the Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei anime are depicted as paper cut-outs on sticks. Not to mention that the background characters are often deliberately faceless, with a Katakana/Kanji character instead of an actual drawn face.
  • Done in the first episode of School-Live!, where all but a few of Yuki's classmates are rendered as grey silhouettes. Justified in that the end of the episode reveals they're in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse, the classmates are all dead, and Yuki's just delusional. The classmates are grey silhouettes because Yuki can't remember what they actually look like.
  • In Sgt. Frog this is parodied/lampshaded with the Mob alien race, who gather in large ominous crowds.
  • Used in Sister Princess Repure when any character not a sister or Wataru is shown without a face, even close up! The chef teaching Shirayuki how to cook is especially frightening.
  • Used a lot in Soul Eater. It's especially noticeable in dramatic scenes, where the main characters are all surrounded by a crowd of completely still, colorless students with no faces.
  • The Spellbound! Magical Princess Lil'Pri anime abuses this trope. Several mass gathering scenes are full of white or blue people blobs.
  • Trapeze, by the same director as Mononoke (mentioned above), also takes a very weird approach with faceless masses. Most of the minor background characters are depicted as literal cardboard cutouts, two-dimensional outlines that move by flailing around. There's even a scene where the cutouts turn into "normal" characters one by one, by paying attention to the protagonist.
  • The Wallflower uses this extensively - the Bishōnen boys' adoring masses at the school look like a multi-armed, multi-headed cardboard cut-out. Later episodes do this on the main characters as well - to be fair, the manga it's based on does this too.
  • In the ×××HOLiC anime, everyone who isn't important is nothing more than a gray silhouette. Occasionally the silhouettes will have basic facial features, but not always. Turns out that this is very important to the plot, as Watanuki later realizes that he cannot remember the faces of anyone besides the main characters and Yuuko's customers.
  • Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace does a variant of this. The faceless masses are shadowy blobs with only characters that are important having details. If a character becomes impotent they gain detail and become shallowly blobs once they stop being important. This makes sense as the Point of View Character Kobayashi only bothers to remember anyone interesting. When the scene is shifted to Akechi, the faceless masses become artist pose dolls. For Namikoshi it's skeletons with faces similar to Twenty Faces.
  • ReLIFE: A staple in the first season of the anime adaptation, but the studio ramps this up to eleven after Episode 13 and all background characters turn into lightly shaded phantoms.
  • Mekakucity Actors takes it up a notch; depending on which areas the main cast appear in during a flashback, the masses turn into something related to it. Momo's flashback represented everyone in her art class as easels, and Shintarou's flashback had the rest of the class as radios, to name a few examples.
  • In Made in Abyss, when Riko loses consciousness at a certain point, she experiences a dream sequence in which she is out of the Abyss and back in the town, where she sees the entire townsfolk waiting for her. Only the people she knows well have their faces filled in properly. Arguably justified, since she is imagining it, and she doesn't know what they all look like.
  • Kirby: Right Back at Ya! does this via filling out crowd scenes and the like with identical generic Cappies. Cappies who are actual named characters have various distinguishing details, such as clothing - the generic ones don't.

    Asian Animation 
  • The Korean animated series Koongya Koongya uses it on crowd scenes, although subverted if the shot focuses on the crowd.
  • The Chinese animated and comics series A.U has most of its minor characters appear as simple, green colored and sometimes clothes-less humanoids, many who interact with the main characters. In the show at least, they're more likely used or seen in the earlier seasons.This blog post includes images showing the main characters and said characters.
  • Pucca spoofs this trope by having the extras be pink and blue smiley gum-drop people. The series proper has a large cast of extras and no real need for them, but they're used for comedy nonetheless.
  • Oddbods makes any non-main character Oddbod used for filler have a simple grey jumpsuit without any antenna or face markings to identify them like the main seven have. The only difference is a grey line of eyelashes that the girl ones have that the boys lack, along with child ones being much smaller.

    Comic Books 
  • Subverted in the Green Lantern Crisis Crossover Blackest Night: the combined hordes of the Black Lantern Corps (often a million strong) are all carefully detailed when they could simply have been a blob of black ink with only a few personalities at the foreground. So, too, are the Big Damn Heroes when they show up.
  • Happens a lot in Marvel and DC comics, especially their second-string ones. When combined with sloppy coloring in general it sometimes became a problem.
  • The Smurfs are a good example of this trope, since most of them are identical to each other in appearance. In both the comic books and the cartoon show, it's a good way for the creators to bring in a character who becomes prominent for a while and then easily write him out.
    • This leads into the song "Just Like Their Names" in The Smurfs and the Magic Flute, where Papa Smurf sings that that's the only way they could be told apart from each other.
  • Transformers:
    • The Transformers (Marvel) had colorist Nelson Yomtov pulling this a lot; the insane amount of characters, all of whom had distinctive colors and some of whom were identical barring colors, meant that whenever you saw a group shot (and there were a lot of those), it was very typical for them to be completely monochrome, with maybe a handful of people at the front getting picked out.
    • This ended up being retconned as a side effect of long-term 'memory fatigue' in The Transformers (IDW). As robots, they should be able to remember everything they experience, but the further back a memory goes, the unimportant background items or bystanders 'lose resolution'. Cybertronians focus only on the important parts of a memory, and things such as incidental crowds or bystanders eventually blend into faceless, uniformly colored masses.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Averted in a rather clunky manner in the Coliseum scene of the second BIONICLE DTV movie, Legends of Metru Nui. The audience is visibly made up of individual, generic Matoran, but they are just 2D renders of 3D animations (and of varying sizes at that) pasted over each other. When the camera ventures close, the Special Effect Failure becomes evident, as some of those Matoran are huge, even if they're standing in the back.
  • Averted in Turning Red. Every extra is rendered with as much detail as would be expected to be seen in a live-action movie. This is especially true of the scenes inside the SkyDome where up to 30,685 crowd characters can be seen at once made up of 303 unique background characters. Played straight with the spin-off manga 4★Town 4★Real. Most crowds are shown as featureless blobs with simple faces.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Live-action example: In the scale model shots from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace's podrace, the crowd is played by rows of Q-tips with the heads painted various colors.
  • The Lord of the Rings averted this in wide shots of epic battles, without demanding excessive labor from the CG crew, by using custom software. Weta Digital used a package called MASSIVE that not only automated the animation of thousands of combatants, it gave each one enough AI that they could fight each other or make other battle choices under their own power.
  • While not faceless or detailless, the background audience in the film Space Jam is very cardboard. Even the reactions look more like pictures of the characters being waved than any actual real motion. And it's rather suspicious to see three Penelope Pussycats in one shot that's outside of Pepe Le Pew's fantasies.

    Live-Action TV 
  • House: While House is under hypnosis in the episode "House's Head", he remembers a bar, and looks out at the patrons but sees only a faceless crowd. After he focuses, the crowd doesn't come up again.

    Music Videos 
  • Used with good reason many times in 1982's Pink Floyd: The Wall. The faceless masses are represented as people wearing simple "pink masks", foam faces with two gaping eyes and a screaming mouth. It represents mindless conformity or some such.
  • Used to surreal effect in "I Don't Like the Drugs (But the Drugs Like Me)" by Marilyn Manson, in which everyone (bar the band) is either an alien or literally headless.

    Video Games 
  • This used to be a common trope in sport video games. The reason there was quite understandable: there's only so much memory on a cartridge/CD, and a minuscule amount of RAM and processor resources to draw a lot of sprites or polygons at once, and nobody could fault the programmers for spending it on the main action and leaving the crowd as a bunch of cardboard cutouts (or just a flat texture which, more often than not, looked kinda like a pizza that someone stepped on). With the latest systems, however, this is no longer the case, and thus crowd animation is part of the criteria by which sports games are judged.
  • ANNO: Mutationem: Throughout the various cities, the citizens all wandering about have blank faces that lack eyes and other unique facial features. They're also drawn in a distinct manner to separate them from the NPCs that can be spoken to.
  • In Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls most adults are shown as blue or pink silhouettes depending on their gender, while the Monokuma Kids wear identical male or female uniforms with Monokuma masks covering their faces.
  • Dodge The Prank: In Stages such as 5, 8, and 16, the crowd is just a bunch of silhouettes.
  • Occurs in Dragon Age II with the citizenry of Kirkwall, as many of the citizens have an "unfinished" look to them. Granted, there are also many background NPCs who do look like people; the distinction is that they speak, or wander around.
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion a close look a the audience in the Arena shows them as distorted cardboard figures with no feet.
  • The original Wii release of the GoldenEye (2010) remake featured animated black silhouettes for the party-goers during the nightclub mission, which are apparently just a bunch of sprites due to the Wii's limited processing power. This would be later rectified in the Reloaded release for the PS3 and Xbox 360.
  • The Granstream Saga takes this to an extreme. None of the character models have faces, though the important characters do have cut-in Character Portraits.
  • Mario Kart switches between portraying spectators as neon blobs, sprites, and 3D models depending on the processing power of the console and/or how close they are to the track.
  • No Umbrellas Allowed: In the overworld, generic background characters are gray silhouettes while the slightly more important ones are fully drawn like the major characters.
  • In Persona 5, non-important NPCs (those without speech bubbles above their heads) have blurry, smudged out faces that lack eyes or other facial features except for mouths. They also not solid and will disappear when the protagonist moves closer to them and reappear in some distances later.
  • Played straight in Phantasy Star Universe. The city areas are filled in with randomized wandering crowds. These crowds are composed of the generic male and female player models, load in only dull pinkish and bluish hues, and evaporate if you get close.
  • Most NPCs in Shin Megami Tensei V have detailed clothes but no faces. This turns out to be diegetic; a third-year student at the temple mentions that her teachers and some classmates have indistinct faces. Eighteen years before the events of the game, Tokyo was destroyed and recreated, people included. The miracle is starting to fray, so everyone born before the event is fading with it.
  • Songs Of Wuxia have plenty of details on the player characters and supporting NPC, but background crowds? Not so much. For instance, your first venture into an outdoor location, a crowded tavern, depicts extras in the background as single-colored humanoid silhouettes (to the point of making the game look unfinished).
  • Even though they're all just randomizations of a couple of character models, the Spider-Man 2 game manages to avert this trope by having the hapless citizens of New York be fully colored, wander the city realistically, and react to Spidey; with one exception. During the "sports event" with Quentin Beck, the people in the stands are just cardboard cutouts. Heavily Lampshaded when you have Spidey crawl on the fake audience, and he says: "Even the audience is fake! Beck's the real phoney here."
  • Justified in To the Moon: In the memories of clients, most people are displayed as translucent figures of static. While this avoids the need to design unique characters for memories that won't be visited again, it also serves as a reminder that the client doesn't remember everyone around them: only remembering what these people said and their general figure.
  • In Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE, non-important NPCs are rendered as flat primary colored outlines in the shape of people, like in the Just Dance games.
  • Touch Detective has them wearing really creepy Scream-like masks. Later subverted in the sequel, where while still Faceless Masses, they had a (flat) character and even (gasp!) names.
  • You could always tell when someone was going to be important in Wadanohara because they actually had a face. Most of the NPCs don't.
  • WarioWare: Smooth Moves has Young Cricket cut in line at a dumpling stand by dashing across the heads of the generic silhouette patrons. Once he realizes how upset they were, he apologizes and dashes back across their heads so he can wait at the back of the line.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Strawberry Vinegar, this is used for all of Rie's classmates. When speaking, they are referred to with adjectives ("Ladylike classmate", "Tall classmate", etc) instead of actual names (with the exception of the yuri fangirl Mayuri).
  • Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star has some generic shadowy birds in various places. This it played with in The Day The Night Slept; Hiyoko comments on the fact that the citizens of the Holiday Star are vague and shadowy, but it's unclear whether she's simply destroying the just-barely-rebuilt fourth wall or they really do look like that in-universe. Since she's dreaming at the time, it could be either.

    Web Animation 
  • Very prominent in RWBY Volume One, where all non-important characters are black silhouettes. Important characters tend to be given models an episode or two before they're properly introduced. Volume 2 had full character models even for background extras. Discussed in Episode 5 of RWBY Chibi where Team RWBY talk how they are surrounded by people covered in shadows.
  • Averted in Hazbin Hotel, where even the background characters are greatly detailed and varied in designs.
  • Occurs on occasion in Happy Tree Friends, particularly in the earlier shorts. The Generic Tree Friends used for crowd scenes are purple and frequently in shadow; they typically resemble bears, but can be any species.

    Web Comics 
  • Gorgeous Princess Creamy Beamy
    • Parodied with "the girls of the class", who are represented as a multi-headed, vaguely humanoid black mass, like a combination of a Girl Posse, a Hive Mind, and Two Beings, One Body.
    • Similarly, when X is talking to Cheesecake; "Just you and me ... and Mr Sakanabana, Myrtle Ploot, Tsugumi's mom, and The Other Million or so Gay People in the Area." The latter are combined into a multi-headed mass very similar to the girls of the class.
    • Also, one of the earlier storylines completely wiped out all "the boys of the class", complete with a "memorial" panel; "In death you save me from having to draw you anymore."
  • Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki plays with this by having extras appear in the foreground the same way they did in the background.
  • No character in Gunnerkrigg Court is immune to this effect. When seen from a distance, even the main characters, standing alone, will be shown with Blank White Eyes (and possibly a single line for the mouth). From further away, their face will be completely blank. Crowds are generally monochromatic (and the adults are shown with rectangular, neckless heads), with just enough detail that the reader can pick out the familiar characters in the crowd. This is often used to effect, with a character's level of detail changing in accordance to how central they are to ongoing events, even while their distance to the camera remains constant. Sometimes isolated color is used to make faraway characters stand out from a group. There are even certain instances of characters going "background" while still central to the frame, illustrating feelings of alienation.
  • Not a Villain uses these during most crowd scenes. The author affectionately calls them Blobs and has a lot of fun with the Blobs' ambition to get a face/name/persona in the vote incentives. One even managed to become a character thanks to fan input.
  • Most background characters in Misfile are fully drawn, but during Emily's date the artist got some ghost jokes for this scene.
  • Dominic Deegan occasionally uses this.
  • In the improvised round-robin comic Ito, people the protagonists consider to be irrelevant are rendered as vegetables; one page later, they become victims to this effect as well while trying to charm a young girl into joining their (all male) drama club.
  • Notably averted in Concession. The author uses a "random character generator" to assign a species, gender, sexuality, and religion to each one of the extras (usually customers at the titular concession stand), and writes a detailed backstory for them that's found at the bottom of the page. A few of the randomly generated characters have become minor or even major characters, most notably Camp Gay skunk Nicole.
  • Ménage à 3 all but resorts to stick figures for crowds of audience members, though they get expressions... it's actually (deliberately) hilarious. You'd... uh, have to see it.
  • Somewhat justified in Shadownova: the crowd's lack of features is a representation of how Iris sees them.
  • El Goonish Shive uses this noticeably in this strip.
  • Enjuhneer has a primarily female main cast in a setting where almost all bit characters are male, so its faceless masses are black silhouettes with Mars symbols on their foreheads.
  • Questionable Content avoids this, most notably in this strip.
  • Used in American Elf.
  • T.J. Baldwin from Karate Bears likes crowd scenes but sometimes doesn't have time to do all the faces and stuff.
  • Sometimes used in The Order of the Stick, especially in Azure City, on Hinjo's Junk, during the parade in Bleedingham, and in the Empire of Blood's arena. Lampshaded like many other tropes:
    Elan: Excuse me, huddled masses! Pardon me! PC coming through! PC coming—
  • Gamer Chicks and Lessons in Distraction infamously portray crowds as white circles in a yellow mass. In a hilariously blatant instance of this which actually became a short-lived meme, with a crowd of people staring the Gamer Chicks's main character's chest looked like a giant block of Cartoon Cheese shooting lasers.
  • Generic crowdfolk in Ears for Elves are almost never drawn with eyes, and sometimes lack all facial detail.
  • Subverted in Paranatural: Max elbows his way through a colorless crowd, but it soon turns out they were colorless for a reason.
  • Rain shows an abstractly-drawn crowd as the background of the cover of Chapter 8.
  • In ''Consolers, characters used to represent "regular people", customers, fans etc. are usually drawn as simple, blue chibi-humanoids with no face except for a mouth. Nintendo's investors are drawn in a similar way... with a big "I" on their face.
  • Background characters in Crystal Heroes range from outlined silhouettes to literally faceless people depending on how close they are to the "camera."
  • Ako of Doki Doki Literature Girls was one of these until Sayori asked for her name, and it was all uphill from there.
  • Lampshaded in Paradox Space's "Suffering Through/For The People"; when The Signless calls on someone from the crowd of otherwise faceless masses to ask a question, he singles them out with "Next question. Yes, you, with the face."
  • In page 20 of chapter 21 of Sleepless Domain, HP's dad is placed in a crowd of faceless extras in one panel to stand out. The alt text quips he doesn't even have an idea how much he sticks out.

    Western Animation 
  • In Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Destination: Imagination, quite literally every "inhabitant" of the toy box is a faceless toy until World uses their bodies.
  • Looney Tunes. Ever notice the people in the audience at major events are just fuzzy blobs?
  • Exception: In its early episodes, The Simpsons drew notice for being among the few animated series to actually draw each extra in the background. In later episodes, when the show had over a hundred recurring characters, the extras became unnecessary, and the animators filled out crowd scenes with fully-drawn recurrers. However, despite the level of detail displayed by extras, the background crowds were almost exclusively immobile, often to ridiculous degrees (such as figures shown frozen in the act of talking or shouting), although this was less prominent in later episodes. They also occasionally used extras that didn't make sense being there (for example, Maude was used in backgrounds several years after she died).
  • This is even more strongly averted in its Spiritual Successor Futurama, which uses computer animated (but still Simpsons-style) footage. The commentaries for one of the DVD releases states that the software they use can automatically draw a crowd of random characters for them.
  • Another American cartoon exception is Avatar: The Last Airbender, in which the people in the background are always drawn fully-colored, though again, not always animated.
  • A computer animation variant: In War Planets, the entire population of one planet, Planet Rock — apart from the royal family, who are main characters — wear identical suits of armor that conceal all distinguishing features. This was particularly obvious in a Story Arc in which the king abdicates; the new king, since he wasn't going to hang around long enough to make it worth creating a new character design, was depicted by another instance of the same anonymous armor.
    • Actually, all the planets have populations of Faceless Goons. Probably because they all tend to get killed en masse.
  • Somewhat averted in Clone High; while traditional Faceless Masses are often used, recognizable historical figures are nearly always mixed in among them.
  • The Fairly OddParents often has background characters all in purple.
  • The same thing happens from time to time in Butch Hartman's second animated show, Danny Phantom, but it has its fair share of fully drawn crowds as well.
  • Averted in Kim Possible where every person in a given crowd has a face (except for the extras in the medal scene during the Grand Finale).
  • Transformers
  • Batman Beyond individualized its background characters, but colored their clothes and sometimes their skin and hair uniformly so that foreground characters would stand out.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants does this a lot, but the episodes "Party Pooper Pants" and "Good Ol' Whatshisname" establishes official names for many of the recurring background fish.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic does its best to avert this, and instead features fully detailed and animated background charactersnote , most of whom are recurring extras, though a few don't reappear. Many of the background ponies have been given nicknames and personalities by the fanbase, which have become Ascended Fanon in several cases when said background characters gained toys, trading cards, larger roles, or appearances in mobile apps. Some of the extras' designs are sly references; pony versions of the Doctor, assorted characters from The Big Lebowski, and even Rick Sanchez have been spotted, among others.
    • Both said extras and various more important characters have been used for crowds and random bystanders. However, sometimes more than one of the same character will appear in the same shot, often due to the technical limitations. It gets rather strange when there are three Trixies wandering around in a place Trixie shouldn't even logically be. This has led to fans making jokes about how these duplicates are actually changelings, or clones created via the Mirror Pool.
    • When audiences got really big, and the ponies in them were far enough away from the onlooker, then farther away ponies used to be pretty much reduced to blurry, faceless shapes of ponies ("Equestria Games") or even only circular spots ("A Canterlot Wedding, Part 2"). In later seasons and the movie, even the largest of crowds are completely made of actual ponies.
  • In early seasons of Ed, Edd n Eddy, they wouldn't show any characters outside of the main kids at all. In later seasons that showed the Eds and their friends at school, the crowds at any event (like the spelling bee from "Too Smart For His Own Ed" or the football game from "Tight End Ed") were just silhouettes.
  • Similar to The Simpsons, Family Guy had stiff-moving and poorly-detailed extra characters used as filler for large crowds. As the series went on and had better animations, the extras became more detailed and fluid.
    • Peter lampshades the trope in one episode where he tells Lois how only half of the people at their church move and the other half do not while some of them barely even blink.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • In "The Sweaters", "The Extras" and "The Spinoffs" crowd at Richwood High are faceless mobs of color in long shots. Though they have faces in closer shots, they never move and are revealed by a stray tennis ball to actually be flat cutouts. One of them became a regular human (well regular animated human) after much effort.
    • In "The Faith", the audience is depicted as bluish rectangles from distant shots, but when they are focused on, it's revealed they are actually all recurring and characters who appeared previously in the show.
  • The crowds Eloise came across in Eloise In Hollywood are drawn as faceless grey blobs.]]

Alternative Title(s): Grayed Out Extras