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Game Face

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Which witch do you wish to bewitch?
"A vampire appears to be a normal person until the feed is upon them. Only then do they reveal their true demonic visages."

Most supernatural monstrosities and scientific sins against nature that maintain a Masquerade can hide their true nature with a glamour, or otherwise shapeshift into a nearly seamless human disguise.

Sometimes, though, they just want to play with their food. They drop the façade and show their true form, getting scary eyes, growing fangs, horns, Pointy Ears and Femme Fatalons or even claws. The changes can range from the purely cosmetic to the practical. In video games or RPGs, this usually affords attack bonuses or new forms of attack altogether. In film, TV, or literature it usually means any Innocent Bystanders nearby just dropped a rung in the food chain.

This is a common trick for vampires, demons, werewolves, and other monsters. Think of it as a super-fast One-Winged Angel act, but typically without the power of a full transformation (though they might effectively gain strength by not spending power to maintain an illusion).


Truth in Television, but most clearly seen in the small, practically harmless animals whose only means of defense is to suddenly flash vivid colors or markings, or seemingly double in size, or otherwise appear to suddenly change into frightening monsters. Many of them couple this with making sudden terrifying noises for further scaring-the-crap-out-of-enemies-ery.

Compare Demon Head, Face-Revealing Turn and Nightmare Face.



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     Anime & Manga 
  • In Dragon Ball Z, Super Saiyans get a lot of use out of this trope but play it closer to its Truth in Television version. They do gain spikier hair and begin glowing vibrant colors & in addition to this they get a massive power-up. Some later upgrades even include large muscles, hair, and even eyebrows.
  • In Bleach, the Vizards can put their Hollow masks on as a definite Game Face.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, after Selim Bradley reveals his true identity as Pride, he's consistently drawn with sharper features and more menacing eyes instead of the almost chibi appearance he had before.
    • Both incarnations of Greed also had a charming, handsome human face (granted, one had pointed teeth), which in a serious fight would be covered by the demonic, armored face. Being rather vain, Greed really hated using that form unless he really had to.
  • Rosario + Vampire: Absolutely everywhere, given that all of the monsters in it can take a perfect human disguise form, and given that a Global Masquerade is firmly in effect. Succubi, Yuki'onna and Gorgons are all good examples of slighter changes (hair turning to ice, lengthening nails and ears or hair turning to snakes) while a great many other monsters show much more drastic change to their true forms. Of course, while they are seldom angered enough to do so, the main characters have all shown the ability to pull some very scary game faces despite their good natures.
  • Death Note: Light Yagami does this, having hidden his true personality almost to the very end, he loses what's left of his sanity when he's exposed, and breaks down and confesses, as he'd just got done swearing he'd never do. The scary red eyes are just for us, the audience - but the frightening facial contortions, dramatic gestures, and visible madness? Yeah, they're free for all. What makes it a Game Face is that it liberates him to finally state his case in person. Not that it convinces anyone.
  • In the Darker Than Black tie-in manga Shikoku no Hana, Azusa shows Mioka hers while casually breaking his shin and asking him if he was showing his.
    Azusa: Is that your game face?
  • Parodied in Excel Saga. The adorable, teddy-bear like Puchuu's faces resemble Golgo 13 when in pain.
  • The 2018 version of Neko Musume (the Cat Girl) in Gegege No Kitaro is a lot more capable of fighting, particularly when her eyes turn more cat-like, her nails lengthen into razor-sharp claws, and her mouth turns into a Slasher Smile complete with More Teeth than the Osmond Family.
  • In Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, Chiri Kitsu normally looks like this. However, when she shows her Ax-Crazy side, she looks like this.
  • A rare heroic case in Humanoid Monster Bem, where all three heroes keep a third of their power locked while in human form.
  • Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt features Chuck, resident Chew Toy that even God himself abuses (granted those lightning bolts are to send messages to the protagonists, but still). Then Panty gives him permission to put on the Game Face, and he turns into a Nigh-Invulnerable giant regenerating hellhound.
  • What occasionally happens to Haruko's face in FLCL during fights could be described as this. She gets huge, alien-like eyes and sharp teeth, which may or may not be closer to her original alien appearance.
  • In Fairy Tail, whenever he gets angry, Natsu has two veins that bulge in a diagonal slant above his eyebrows, and his eyes change in to pale yellowish color with slit-like pupils.
    • A Full-Body Take Over gives Elfman and Mirajane this effect.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Yugi Muto and Pharaoh Atem dueling.
  • Many Bishokuya from Toriko through their "intimidation", often accompanied by the image of a large terrifying beast.
  • Koro-Sensei of Assassination Classroom has a kaleidoscopic array of facial colors to convey his emotions. His game face comes in the form of Pitch Black.
  • Inverted and subverted in Queen's Blade with The Swamp Witch, at least in the anime: Her ghostly looks is the real face of the spirit who controls Werbellia, a demon princess she's using for doing all her atrocities.
  • The Ghouls from Tokyo Ghoul look like completely ordinary humans, but when revealing their true nature gain Black Eyes of Crazy with red pupils and Tainted Veins around their eyes. They can also extend their kagune, a specialized limb/weapon that has different shapes and properties depending on location and type. Most generally resemble some sort of tentacle or insect wings.
  • Future Diary : Murumuru, Deus's and first world Yuno's, and second world Yuki's right hand... demon... gets this when her bracelets are removed. She then gains superspeed and wild ferocity along with this.
  • Shalltear Bloodfallen in Overlord (2012) normally appears as an Elegant Gothic Lolita, but when she bathes in blood, her glamour breaks and she turns into what can best be described as a humanoid lamprey abomination. This trope and One-Winged Angel are apparently common in heteromorphic races, most of which can shapeshift into more humanoid forms, but receive a stat boost in their true forms. At least Albedo, Demiurge and Entoma are confirmed to have similar transformations. Albedo shifts into something hairy and very large that is apparently reminiscent of a gorilla (very likely a Nalfeshnee). Demiurge can shape his head into a froglike one that is likely a holdover from his Imp race and is stated to have another yet unseen form. Entoma is a vaguely humanoid Giant Spider that looks like a human only because her extra legs are hidden in her dress, her face is concealed behind a mask, and even her cute voice is created by a special worm; without it, she has a raspy Voice of the Legion.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: Presented more dramatically in the anime adaptation, when Tohru gets worked up or angry her fingers turn into claws, her eyes become even more bestial than usual, and her teeth turn into fangs. Special mention goes to when she came home to find Kanna clinging to Kobayashi and jumped to the conclusion that the latter was cheating on her.
  • The two vampire queens in Blood+ do it too. When they want to fight, their eyes light up. At Saya they are red and at Diva they are blue.
  • In the anime Claymore it is a special case. The faces of the half-human warriornesses change as they use their demonic powers. The more demonic the face of a warrior looks, the more she uses that power, and the stronger she is. However, there is always the possibility that they will lose control of their powers and turn into man-eating monsters.
  • In Inuyasha, it is the eponymous hero who is a half-demon. As such, he transforms himself once a month into a human being. But when he is in danger or in great pain, his demonic side gains the upper hand over him, and he gets into a wild frenzy in which he can no longer distinguish between friends and enemies, and indiscriminately attacks everyone. When he transforms into a pure demon, his eyes turn red, his cheeks give him two violet stripes, and his claws and fangs grow longer.
    • It is implied that all naturally-born half-demons have this ability, and also show a similar Game Face in their demonic forms.
  • Parasyte has the parasites that infest human bodies and then control them. If they want to fight or kill someone, only their heads change into a monstrous grimace, from which several tentacles with long blades protrude, the rest of the body remains human.
  • Sukeban Deka: the villain Remi Mizuchi in the manga and OVA has monochromatic blue eyes when pretending to be a nice girl and changes to vicious looking, predatory eyes when she reveals her true psychopathic self.
  • Naruto Naruto does this when he's sufficiently enraged - his canines elongate into fangs, the whisker-markings on his cheeks become far more pronounced and his eyes shift from blue to red, signifying that the Nine-Tailed Fox is trying to take over.

     Comic Books 
  • In Excalibur, Rachel Summers (avatar of the Phoenix Force) gets scary-looking lines on her face when she gets serious. They're actually scars that are always there, and she uses her telepathy to make others see an undamaged face. When she has to use her full power for butt-kicking, she can't spare any for the illusion and lets it drop. Or sometimes she's just too pissed off to concentrate on it.
  • Marvel Comics' nearly-omnipotent pseudo-villain Molecule Man has something (very) similar: a pattern of lightning-shaped scars (caused by the accident which gave him his powers) across his face which seem to appear or disappear when he is either relaxed and mentally balanced, or furious and/or about to break down and cry. As the scars also make his lips appear serrated, it is a pretty creepy game face considering he normally looks rather nerdy.
  • Somewhat toned down in Les Légendaires, where villain Abyss, when revealing his true identity after posing as Professor Kallisto Vangelis, gets Red Eyes, pale skin and a Slasher Smile, but otherwise remains quite human-like.
  • Bernie of Death Vigil has one, with her appearance becoming much more skeletal.
  • The mages in Birthright usually assume a more monstrous and inhuman form when using their magical powers, for example Kylen looks like a Caucasian man with blonde hair, but his "mage" form is a bearded, horned demon with purple skin.
  • Judge Dredd: While possessing a human host in "Dark Justice", Judge Death is disturbed in his work by one of his host's colleagues. He shuts the door and gives the man a brief flash of his skull-face before murdering him.
  • Robin Series: After being brought back from the dead Darla Aquista can maintain her human appearance most of the time, but if she wants to use her new powers for anything more extensive than a Jedi Mind Trick her appearance shifts to have solid yellow eyes, deathly pale skin, and blood-red lips.

     Comic Strips 
  • In Candorville, vampires have several levels of Game Face. The lowest has Cute Little Fangs. The highest Looks Like Orlok and has red eyes. Incidentally, this seems to differ from one character to another—it may be that the oldest are the ugliest or that Saxon's Dhampyr status is why he gets Milky White Eyes instead of red ones.
  • Garfield
    • Garfield uses one on Halloween to scare trick-or-treaters. Unfortunately, true to his mother's warnings, it sticks.
    • In one series of strips, Garfield is talking to a mouse who poses for anti-vermin ads for a living. When Garfield asks how ("A cute mouse like you?") the mouse assumes a vicious Game Face. ("That's pretty good," says Garfield.)
    • Nermal has an "extra-cute" Game Face to pose for cat food ads. ("Cute is my life" he says.)

     Fan Works 

     Films — Animated 
  • About halfway through the plot of Coraline, when Coraline confronts The Other Mother, she pulls a You're Not My Mother and demands to leave The Other World. The Other Mother responds by growing from a copy of Coraline's real mother with black button eyes into an inhumanly tall, skeletally thin woman. By the end of the movie, The Other Mother's illusions have been completely dispelled. Her true form is essentially the aforementioned Game Face, but her formerly human hands have turned into metallic sewing needles, her face has become covered in cracks, and her legs have become spider's legs.
  • In Hotel Transylvania, Dracula occasionally gets mad and shows his scary face, which involves Red Eyes, Take Warning, baring his fangs for all to see, and menacing growling.
    • His daughter, Mavis, can also do this as can his grandson, Little Dennis.
  • Nonvillain example: In How to Train Your Dragon, Toothless got his name because his teeth are retractable, and he only shows them when he's eating or snarling at something.
  • Princess Unikitty from The LEGO Movie is a cheerful Ridiculously Cute Critter, but barely 5 minutes of her introduction, we get to see a glimpse of her inner rage, dubbed 'Angry Kitty'. In the climax, she gave into her rage and went onto a rampage.

     Films — Live-Action 
  • The Library Ghost's transformation from a sweet little old lady to a skeletal hag provided one of the first and most memorable scares from Ghostbusters (1984), and an unused version of her Game Face was recycled for the next example a year later.
  • The ghost of the Aldrich Mansion in Ghostbusters (2016) counts as well, looking very pretty until, to quote Holtzmann, "she dislocated her jaw and ectoprojected all over [Erin]."
  • Fright Night (1985): The vampires Jerry Dandridge and Amy Peterson.
  • The vampires in From Dusk Till Dawn.
  • In The Devil's Advocate, several characters associated with John Milton's law firm torment Mary Ann Lomax by revealing their true faces.
  • In the Brazilian film O Auto da Compadecida, Satan stops using his human face and goes into a devilish face (as well as a deep voice) after the protagonist angers him enough.
  • The Lost Boys: Vampires in general can do this, turning their normally-human features demonic and horrific. A seemingly-innocuous character (Max) turns out to be the Big Bad and we don't know it until he gets his Game Face — but the effect may seem doubly disconcerting since actor Edward Hermann was chosen to look especially nonthreatening. James Spader in Wolf is similar. The only vampire who never did this was Star (and she wasn't truly evil).
  • Beetlejuice: If you ever meet Beetlejuice, be sure to ask him "Can you be scary?"
    • Barbara and Adam Maitland also learn how to make game faces when they try to remove the Deetzes.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: "Remember me, Eddie? When I killed your brother, I talked Just. LIKE. THIIIIIIS!"
    • Although it's actually somewhat downplayed as Doom's face was really a rubber mask and when he reveals himself to be a Toon, he's still wearing the mask and we don't see his real face. All we get are his red Toon eyes popping out of the mask's eyeholes.
  • In Clash of the Titans (the 2010 version), Medusa normally looks very attractive, but, when using her stone gaze, her face becomes demonic and hideous.
  • Played for laughs in Galaxy Quest, where the crew encounters some weird baby-looking aliens on a desert planet. One of the cute aliens gets hurt, and the others crowd around it as if to help it get water... only to reveal demonic faces with terrifyingly sharp teeth and devour the thing alive. (The reason it's played for laughs is that Guy saw it coming because that's how things work on TV)
  • In Blood & Donuts, Boya uses his game face to intimidate the gangsters that are harassing him and Earl. Unsurprisingly, it works very well.
  • In Nightbreed, Lori and her boyfriend Eric Boone, now a newly-turned member of the Nightbreed, have escaped Midian and are on the run from the police. When the cops marshal an entire force to arrest him he turns around to show Lori his true face.
  • Hellbound: The demonic villain mostly appears disguised as a human, but every time he kills someone he grows claws, gets frog-like pupils, and his voice drops a few octaves. When he's defeated, he briefly reverts back to his true form.
  • Transformers Film Series made Optimus Prime's trademark faceplate retractable so it could slide into place for combat (or when suitably dramatic), a trait that's creeped into other incarnations. Some of the other Transformers also have some kind of "battle mask", most notable Bumblebee.
  • Large Marge illustrating the truck accident victim's face, in Pee-wee's Big Adventure. As Pee Wee would discover at the restaurant, that was her face.
  • Vampirella: Vampirella briefly changes her appearance to make a point to Adam Van Helsing, gaining red eyes and fangs in the process.
    Vampirella: This is what I am. [changes back] And this is who I am.
  • Count Dracula (1977): Dracula's, the vampire brides', and Lucy's (after she's turned) eyes turn completely red when going full vampire.
  • Count Yorga: When out in the public, Yorga seems like a normal 40 year-esqe man. But when he vamps out, his skin goes much paler, he gains a row of fangs in his mouth and his look turns downright feral. The same applies to his brides.
  • Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters: Inverted. Grand Witches can change out of their monstrous faces and look like regular (and beautiful) women. Crosses back to straight since Muriel spends most of the movie looking pretty and dropping the disguise to affect a straight Game Face.
  • Inverted in Scary Movie 3. Being partly a parody of The Ring, it features a similar Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl. At the climax:
    Tabitha: (turns into a normal-looking girl) Thank you all. Your love has freed my soul. I won't have to kill again.
    Cindy: Really?
    Tabitha: (changes back, pulls a knife) I'm just screwin' with ya!
  • Kiss of the Damned: Vampires' faces grow slightly monstrous looking with their eyes glowing eerie blue when they begin or are about to feed.

  • Veela from Harry Potter look very beautiful and can charm men into doing or saying anything to impress them, but when pissed off, they go from beautiful women to hideous avian abominations capable throwing handfuls of fire.
    Arthur Weasley: And that, boys, is why you shouldn't marry for looks alone.
  • Needful Things: Leland Gaunt. He looks like a charming and handsome man, but he's actually a demon with claws and a face that is "a horror of eyes and teeth".
  • The trolls from Twilight Eyes. They can switch between horror and looking like ordinary humans at will, and to detect them while they look like humans, you need twilight eyes.
  • In The Hollows series, vampires' eyes go completely black when overcome by bloodlust.
  • The Dresden Files
    • Red Court vampires are monstrous, bat-winged demons wearing human skins. When things get hairy, the skins come off.
    • Harry himself refers to Will and Georgia's shapeshifting into their wolf forms as putting on the game face.
    • White Court Vampires look like pale and beautiful humans with silver-grey eyes. When they go to Game Face, they become inhumanly pale, their eyes glow silvery white and their beauty becomes terrifying as well as alluring. During the one occasion a White Court vampire used her full powers, her entire body glowed silver and Harry himself barely resisted throwing himself at her feet, never mind the actual target of her...abilities.
    • Denarians, Nicodemus aside, each have a personal Game Face.
    • According to Murphy in Aftermath, Harry is normally this awkward, geeky, weirdly-dressed smartass. When things get dangerous, he becomes a dark, commanding, imperious figure in the center of both figurative and literal firestorms. Badass doesn't begin to cover it.
    • It was revealed that if you ever see pale, lovely Mab with her beautiful green eyes and bright, winter-themed dresses get so pissed off her hair, eyes and clothes turn pure black, with black veins crisscrossing her skin, you better start praying to whatever god(s) you believe in that she spares your life- or at least kills you painlessly.
  • Discworld
    • Wolfgang's pack that, while they find it convenient to hunt in wolf form, are not above frightening peasants.
    • Elves without their glamours on are also quite frightening. Especially the queen.
    • Death himself, in Mort, when out looking for a new job, has to deal with a clerk who is slightly condescending and who not-so-subtly tells Death that he has no useful skills. Death then forcibly overrides the man's Weirdness Censor for only a fraction of a second, allowing the man to see Death as wizards and cats are able to. Death then has to deal with a customer who had arrived to complain, eventually giving up and bribing her.
    • Speaking of Death, Mort and Susan have a version of this (Mort while he was playing Death's role and Susan on a permanent basis on account of being Death's granddaughter. This involves switching from normal speech to doing The Voice and talking like this and something frightening happens with their face (probably their skull shows through). It tends to scare most people.
  • The Second Apocalypse
    • Kellhus is a genius with literally no emotions. However, he has complete control over his entire body, including his facial muscles, so he is able to fake emotions without any difficulty. When someone finally figures out that he's been manipulating everyone the entire time and confronts him about it, every muscle in his face goes dead, like turning off a light.
    • Skin-spies are shapechanging assassins with faces that are entirely composed of "fingers" that compress together to form any face they can imagine and allow them to impersonate people. When they drop their disguise, their face falls apart into a mass of wiggling fingers around a blank center.
  • Subverted in The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross. The protagonist is working with a succubus covered by a level-three glamour that makes her look like a gorgeous woman. Eventually, despite her warnings, he insists that she reveal her real face—and instead of the hideous demon he expects, it turns out she's a Half-Human Hybrid that he actually finds rather attractive.
  • A non-evil variant in Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. In it, all Leopard People (people with special magical abilities) have a "spirit face", that is almost like their true form. Seeing another person's spirit face is seen as almost the same as seeing them naked. However, Sunny plays this straight when she gets in a fight with another student and shows them her spirit face to scare them.
  • Once the shit has well and truly hit the fan in The Shining, the Overlook forces Jack Torrence to smash his face in with a croquet mallet, leaving him a faceless meat puppet of the hotel's malevolent spirits.
  • Gully Foyle the Anti-Hero protagonist of The Stars My Destination, a classic sci-fi adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alfred Bester, had a hideous tiger tattoo across his face. In his more refined state he'd had the tattoo removed. However, it would reappear whenever he became enraged as the blood would pump to his face.
  • In Sheep's Clothing, the three vampires exhibit a form of this when they're hunting. The two brides show off red eyes and a mouthful of fangs, while their sire, Russeau, turns into a monstrous bat.
  • In The Girl from the Well, when Okiku is in a calm and contemplative mood, she wears the appearance of the girl she was in life. When she is stalking a victim, however, her appearance becomes that of a drowned and decaying corpse.
  • Literature/Sharpe: Captain William Frederickson of the Royal American Rifles deliberately plays up his scars for intimidating effect, and always removes his wig, false teeth and glass eye before a fight to make his appearance more frightening.
  • The vampires in The Mortal Instruments usually drive their fangs out when they want to fight.
  • Dracula: Inverted when the hunters see Lucy in the graveyard. With her being described as a feral cat when she's about to feed on a child. When the hunters get her attention, her features suddenly shift and she looks more beautiful to them, nearly bewitching Arthur into letting her bite him until Helsng flashes a cross at her, then the vampire features come back as she hisses at them.
  • Retired Witches Mysteries: By book 3, Olivia's figured out how to use one of these to try and scare people. It even threatens the witchfinder (which is what she intended), though he claims he wasn't scared — merely retreating to get help in order to protect Molly and Elsie from her.
  • El Higgins from The Scholomance does not transform physically, but the strength of her talent for The Dark Arts creates an aura about her that sets off the 'Evil Sorceress Approaching' reflexes of her fellow students. More to the point when she is angry that aura grows stronger to the point of inducing outright terror, especially if there is anything akin to eye contact.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Angel
    • The vampires. Angel even keeps it when turned into a muppet. One episode states that he gets stronger with his Game Face, but his bloodlust also increases. Vampires' demonic faces become much worse (and the advantages and drawbacks both get amped up) in the dimension of Pylea, due to its unique metaphysical properties causing hybrid species such as vampires to manifest as either fully human or fully demon. When Angel changes his face during a fight in "Through the Looking Glass", he ends up turning into a ferocious demon called a "Van-Tal", the Pylean name for vampires, with green skin, red eyes, and horns. His strength and durability massively increase, but he can barely control his bloodlust in this form and nearly kills all his friends, and when he finally changes back to his human form, he's horrified. It's explained that in Pylea, the demon fully manifests, which means that's the true form of Angelus.
    • Doyle has one too; his demon form has green skin and is covered in spikes. He's stronger in demon form, but prefers his human form, but this is because he likes to pass for (relatively) human, not due to bloodlust. Played for humor in that Doyle involuntarily shifts to his demon form (though only for a moment) when he sneezes.
    • Jasmine, with her maggoty, revolting true face and her beautiful false one.
  • Vampires in Being Human (both versions) normally look completely human, but when about to bite people or otherwise get violent, their eyes turn solid black and their fangs come out. They're also able to consciously activate this when they aren't being violent, but still want to scare people.
  • Henry Fitzroy in Blood Ties (2007) extends fangs, and his eyes go black. The eyes also go black during hypnosis.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Vampires have a human face and a demonic face. The demonic face has vaguely bat-like bumps along their foreheads, yellow eyes, and of course, fangs. Some vampires are Shapeshifter Mode Locked into their demon face, such as The Master and Kakistos, presumably because of their extreme age (the Master being identified as the oldest known vampire at the time of his introduction). It's implied that their demon face is stronger, given Buffy told Angel to put his Game Face on during the Season One Finale, and it's confirmed in the spin-off (see above).
    • On the flip side, there is Dracula in "Buffy vs. Dracula", who only has a human face but always has fangs. Spike says it's due to gypsy magic, which is the handwave used to explain all the ways Dracula differs from other Buffyverse vampires.
    • The Anointed One is one of the few recurring vampires to never show his, leaving it ambiguous as to whether or not it would've been Nightmare Retardant or just silly.
    • Vengeance demons as well.
    • Willow has two game faces, her lesser used "Light Willow" look and her more well-known "Dark Willow" persona that comes complete with black eyes, black hair, and evil face veins.
  • Charmed (1998) has half demon-half human hybrids able to do this. Cole has a human form but has to embrace his demon self fully if he wants to tap into his powers. The demon self comes complete with red skin and black tribal markings. One Monster of the Week has the same appearance in demon form, but with the colors inverted.
  • Doctor Who:
  • Forever Knight vampires get golden eyes and their fangs, which are normally not visible, appear in the mouth. If it's dark, the eyes can appear to glow.
  • All Wesen in Grimm have this, which is how they are recognized by Grimms and each other. Normal (non-Grimm) humans still can't see it unless the Wesen want them to. The latter is called "woging" (pronounced with a "v") from German "woge" meaning "wave". Interestingly, while Grimms don't have a Game Face, their obvious reaction to a Wesen briefly showing theirs is what gives the Grimms away (the Wesen know when they're woging).
    • The last part was Retconned into the Grimms having Black Eyes of Evil that can only be seen by a woged Wesen. The eyes reflect the Wesen's true nature back at it, although sunglasses block the effect.
    • An episode deals with the side effects of a Wesen being forced to go "full woge" (i.e. being seen by all) frequently, eventually causing the Wesen to start losing control over his Wesen nature and occasionally going into "full woge" without meaning to and amping out his aggression Up to Eleven.
  • Kamen Rider
    • In Kamen Rider 555, an Orphnoch will typically show a shadowy version of its transformed state over its face as a way of saying "don't screw with me." This isn't the actual battle mode, though (that would be a full transformation into the rubber suit, which starts with the 'game face' appearing.)
    • Kamen Rider Kiva: The red and blue vein-like lines on a Fangire's neck and lower face before transforming.
    • Kamen Rider Wizard: The Phantoms do a combination of both the Orphnochs' and Fangires' Game Faces (a shadowy aura of the monster face over their human forms before turning into their true forms).
    • Ironically, Kamen Rider Agito had a heroic variation. Another Agito would proceed his Rider Kick by retracting his mouthplate to reveal a skeletal mouth underneath.
  • In the Lost in Space episode “The Golden Man” (Season 2, Episode 15), Mr. Keema proposes to Dr. Smith that in exchange for the weapons from the Jupiter 2 to defeat his enemy the frog faced alien, he will transport Doctor Smith back to Earth. Dr. Smith brings the weapons without permission. As he is talking to the handsome alien about extending the hand of friendship, Mr. Keema transforms himself into his twisted ugly self and then tells Smith that after he disposes of the frog alien, he intends to destroy the earthlings.
  • Angels and demons in Lucifer always appear on Earth in human guise but they can reveal their true form if they wish to.
    • Lucifer's face is a bit like a melted Darth Maul and seems to come with a side effect of making people absolutely certain of his identity, which managed to drive one person insane and nearly do the same to another. However, if someone has already been to Hell, his face has absolutely zero effect on that person.
    • Maze's true face looks about the same as in the original comic, half skull and half human. Trixie thinks it's awesome.
  • Moonlight (2007) vampires extend fangs and morph into slightly beastly faces in a split second. When dehydrated, their eyes turn yellow.
  • Vampires in Sanctuary gain slanted black eyes, long talons on their fingers, a full mouth full of fangs and deeper voices when they shift into vampire mode. Tesla's skin also became grey on the first occasion he shifted, but this was largely ignored during later transformations.
  • Supernatural:
    • Demons possessing a person's body look exactly the same as a regular human, except when their eyes go solid black. Used quite often as a dramatic reveal on the show.
    • Angels' eyes occasionally glow bright blue when drawing on their powers. Since they clearly don't need to do this on a regular basis, it's safe to say it's an intimidation tactic.
    • The Leviathans, also body-hijackers, would show their true form whenever they devoured people, with their face splitting open to reveal a gaping jaw lined with hundreds of teeth.
    • Most of the monsters on the show do this, usually when they're about to feed or about to attack. Vampires and werewolves can disguise themselves as humans perfectly, with only their retractable teeth (and eyes and claws for werewolves) visually distinguishing them from actual humans.
  • Teen Wolf:
    • While werewolves do have a Wolf Man form, they can occasionally manifest their powers in a less visible version, which has them grow fangs, claws and glowing eyes (said eyes being red for Alphas, yellow for most Beta/Omega, and blue for non-Alphas who killed someone), but otherwise keep a human appearance.
    • The Kamina (AKA Jackson) in season 2 tends to get yellow, reptilian eyes with slitted pupils) whenever he is still in human form yet being controlled by his master. He can also still manifest his poisonous claws without fully transforming.
    • Played with regarding the Darach in season 3, who appears as a bald, hideously scarred humanoid on occasion. The twist to this trope is that this appearance isn't of supernatural origin; it's her real, human face which got disfigured in her backstory, and she is using Glamour magic to make herself appear as she was before the incident.
  • The Vampire Diaries:
    • Vampires get writhing, black Tainted Veins around their eyes (the whites of which turn red), in addition to growing fangs, when they exhibit bloodlust.
    • Werewolves have a slightly more subtle version of this; whenever their werewolf side manifests outside the full moon, the only physical change they go through is yellow, wolf-like eyes. When the full moon does happen, one of the first signs they are transforming is getting these eyes plus fangs.
    • The season 2 finale and season 3 introduce vampire-werewolf hybrids, whose game faces combine the Tainted Veins and Red Sclera of the former, the yellow irises or the latter, and a double set of fangs from both.
  • Van Helsing (2016) usually subverts this, as vampires are typically always in monstrous form (the looks of which vary from being inhumanly pale to looking like Orlok). However, the most powerful vampires — the Elders, the Brides, and the Dark One — are capable of using illusions to make themselves look like normal people, which they tend to drop when getting into a fight.
  • Witchblade: During the climactic fight between Sara and Gallo in the pilot, his face briefly morphs into a demonic grin after he tells her that killing her is Nothing Personal to him. This weird hint that he's Not Even Human is then dropped completely, as it's never brought up in later episodes.

  • The Irish folk hero Cuchulain had his "warp spasm", which is lovingly and nauseatingly described in The Cattle Raid of Cooley. You can read the relevant part here.

  • In Bram Stoker's Dracula, whenever you get Bat Mode, Dracula will turn into his bat form. When you get all the castle locks, the brides will show their monstrous faces.

  • The Silent One in Dark Dice sometimes shapeshifts into members of the party for purposes of infiltration, but reverts into its true monstrous form either right before or right after attacking one of them.

     Tabletop Games 
  • The World of Darkness games are full of monsters that look like normal humans until it's time to get dangerous.
    • Werewolves and other shapeshifters have several Game Faces somewhere between man and their animal form, up to the ultimate Crinos (or Gauru, or whatever) man-wolf (or whatever half-animal) form. But in Werewolf: The Apocalypse they can't display the Game Face to ordinary humans — there's a thing called Delirium, which instinctively makes the human explain away or forget what they saw, and potentially go a little insane as well. In Forsaken, they will go insane most of the time(temporarily) but there's a small chance they can turn into a wolf-blooded or remember it. Furthermore, there are some powers that allow you to control it in a way
    • Old World of Darkness:
      • Vampires can extend their fangs at will, but, depending on their Discipline set, can turn into wolves, hideous monstrosities, or even snakes. It has been speculated that turning into a snake never helps. The most common "Game Face" among the Kindred is the Presence power "Dread Gaze," which serves to terrify the hell out of most of the mortals that vampires encounter.
      • Kindred of the East, the East Asian counterparts to western vampires, have even more and increasingly bizarre demon forms.
      • Fomori, being corrupt nature spirits inhabiting human bodies, can take a Merit that allows them to hide their powers and putrescence, but generally they are always in their Game Face.
      • Demons all have Apocalyptic Forms that resemble either angels or demons, depending on how Tormented the demon in question is. The transformation is instantaneous, but might not happen at all if witnessing humans' disbelief is strong enough.
      • Wraiths with the Moliate Arcanos can reshape their Corpus into an armored and weaponized war form; however, this is usually unsubtle as all hell. However, the Masquers Guild, who specialize in Moliate, can learn a trick that allow them to craft a normal Corpus "sleeve" onto someone who's been crafted for war, so that they look perfectly normal - only to rip the skin off when damage needs to be done.
    • In the New World of Darkness:
      • Mages can draw on the Supernal Realm to increase their Aura and cause an effect like this. The precise appearance varies depending on the Mage's Path. Thyrsus (Shamans) make everything around them seem alive, while Mastigos (Warlocks) can make things go dark and sound like howling demons.
      • Changelings can burn all their Glamour at once in order to drop the Mask and reveal what they truly look like. This is not a recommended course of action, as now you're all out of magic juice, people will likely think you're a monster, and doing so risks damaging the Sanity Meter. The only real feasible use of this tactic is if you're a low-Clarity Autumn Court member who then proceeds to feed on their tasty, tasty fear. There are, however, Contracts that will allow a similar effect without risking your mental stability. 2E of the book upgrades the ability to drop the Mask by reducing its cost to 1 Glamour and making it come with a power boost for all Contracts, effectively making it actually useful, if still risky.
      • Vampires with the Nightmare Discipline have Game Face as a starting power — Monstrous Countenance, which allows you to unleash the full and terrible visage of the Beast. Most mortals flee on sight. In the Second Edition, one of the possible bans they can develop, "Face of Hunger", also causes them to develop an obviously monstrous face (typically red eyes and more corpse-like features) whenever they are starving.
      • Demons can assume their true forms at will. Like their oWOD counterparts, they resemble angels or demons — though it's not dependent on their psyche — and add biomechanical horror to the mix as well. However, doing so is risky, as it may draw the attention of their former master, the God-Machine.
      • Prometheans usually appear humans thanks to the Azoth disguising them, but using Pyros too blatantly will result in them briefly revealing disfigurements betraying their nature.
  • Feng Shui's monsters all have a horrific appearance, and monsters (both PCs and bad guys) can choose to take a Creature Power called "Brain Shredder", which basically provides one of these and weaponizes it to cause damage through fear.
  • Scion actually has an Appearance knack called Game Face. This is when a beautiful Scion (ugly Scions have their own knack) has decided they have had enough of their enemy's BS and flash their best I'm-going-to-kill-you grin or grit their teeth in stony determination. Most Mooks flee on sight and those who don't have to struggle to hold their ground.
  • The Dawn Caste Solar anima power in Exalted includes an effect of this sort. It causes the Solar to appear larger, more glorious, and terrifying with Glowing Eyes of Doom and a fully active Battle Aura. Interestingly, this particular Game Face can be both activated deliberately or go off on its own simply through expending enough power in combat.
    • The Dusk Caste Abyssals and Slayer Caste Infernals, as counterparts to the Dawns, have a similar power.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3.5th Edition had Pale Night, an ancient demon/Eldritch Abomination. She's apparently so evil that reality itself has to shield itself from her. Evil enough that her strongest attack is to show her face, instantly killing all but the strongest-willed, and even those that survive do so by not comprehending her true form.
    • Shifters, from the Eberron campaign setting, have a small touch of lycanthrope heritage. For a brief time each day, they can "shift" into a slightly bestial but physically more powerful form.
    • D&D also has a monster called a Krenshar that looks like a type of great cat, but it has very loose skin around its face. Thus, when it wants to scare off predators, is turns its face inside out.
  • The... the everything in KULT. Justified, as reality is a lie and literally everything isn't what they seem to be.
  • Lahmian- and Von Carstein-clan Vampires in Warhammer Fantasy are often said to be extremely beautiful and/or handsome. You would never tell this by the models. however, because they're always sculpted with their Game Faces on.

     Video Games 
  • BlazBlue: The main villain in once his identity is revealed. With Compressed Hair!
  • Several of the villains in Final Fantasy Tactics transform into their Lucavi forms for the final confrontation against you. Oddly, the demon forms are often easier to beat than the human ones, particularly Elmdore and his Assassins.
  • Mimi from Super Paper Mario is a shapeshifter, but usually just looks like a cute green-skinned girl with pigtails and an Unlimited Wardrobe. That is, until you actually fight her and she transforms into a monstrosity akin to The Thing (1982).
  • In the latest World of Warcraft expansion, the Worgen shift into animalistic form whenever they enter combat, including a permanent scowl.
    • Interestingly, Worgen can maintain human form while casting healing and buff spells out of combat. Trying to aid an ally currently in combat will trigger the shift, however.
  • Discussed in a metaphorical sense by Raynor towards Kerrigan in the single-player campaign of Starcraft II Heart Of The Swarm after he and his forces join hers in battle — specifically, at the start of the final campaign battle where the player as Kerrigan leads the assault on Korhal and Mengsk's palace. Kerrigan had already willingly re-infested herself in order to be able to unlock the full might of the Zerg Swarm, something which angered Jim as it seemed to throw away all the effort he and his Raiders had gone through to de-infest her throughout the entirety of Wings of Liberty; however, he had changed his mind after seeing evidence that this wasn't the same Omnicidal Maniac Queen Bitch of the Universe from before. Now isn't the time for sentimentality.
    Kerrigan: Jim...thank you.
    Raynor: Thank me later — it's time you put your war face on.
  • Scarfy in the Kirby games is a cute little flying critter that changes into a furious, one-eyed Action Bomb.
  • Odin Sphere:
    • All Vulcans have humanoid forms, but their real forms are fire spawned creatures with live fire generated from them. Normal Vulcans turn naked, grow horns, and have their skin covered by magna, hardened, and blackened. Onyx turns into a small Balrog.
    • In Ringford, the Myconid boss has three forms. One of them is an adorable little mushroom that can still cause quite a bit of damage. The other two, though...
  • Tekken's Angel has one in the second Tag game. If you see it, she's probably about to melt your face.
  • The Mortal Kombat series: Reptile, who usually displays a perfectly normal - if half-masked - human face, momentarily flashes a leering reptilian expression when he spits green venom into the eyes of his opponents or eats their head.
  • Several animatronics in the Five Nights at Freddy's series have differences between their normal appearance and their appearance while stalking or attacking the player, usually that their eyes turn into Black Eyes of Evil. Second game's Toy Chica takes it even further as her beak also vanishes when she is on the prowl. Here is Toy Chica in her normal state. And here... is Toy Chica on the hunt...
  • In Sonic Adventure 2, there are the boos - the Normal Boos and the Boom Boos. They start off as seemingly harmless with their black eyes and stitched up mouths, but get close to them or attack them and they will reveal themselves as the Attack Boos which have yellow eyes and sharp-teethed grins (for the Normal Boo, they reveal themselves by jump scaring a character).
  • Undertale:
    • It's subtle but quite startling when facing Sans on a Genocide Run to suddenly see his eyes just disappear with no warning when upset, with the rest of the face unchanged. As a skeleton this actually gives him a more eerie and skeletal look, contrary to his normally expressive skull face. He actually does this a few times on other kinds of playthroughs, for dramatic effect.
    • When facing off against Asgore, he lowers his head, which hides his eyes and makes his hair and beard look more barbarous. In actuality, it's because he can't bear to look you in the eyes.
    • Flowey reveals his as early as he's introduced, in his Establishing Character Moment. Whether you avoid his "friendliness pellets" or run into them, he'll let out an Evil Laugh as he prepares to kill you with an unavoidable circle of bullets.
  • Overlapping with Mistaken for Granite, Medusa in the first Castlevania initially looks like a regular stone bust of a woman before revealing her intimidating true form. She would pull this same trick in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
  • While all of the ghosts in Wick are already creepy to look at (with the exception of Benny and Lillian), they all start sporting rot and mutilations in the No Way Out DLC. This may be because where the base game is just avoiding them as part of The Bet, the object of NWO is to deliberately fuck with these unquiet dead by messing with their stuff.
  • One important cutscene in Jak II: Renegade shows Kor, the old friendly guy that was the one of the first contacts with the new world and gave you quests through the game, with big grin for a second as he speaks to Jak, showing you that something is off. He then proceeds to reveal that he is in fact the Metal Head leader and thrashes Praxis and his guards.
  • In the Vampires Expansion Pack for The Sims 4, you can give vampire Sims a unique "vampire form" with various inhuman features of your choosing (or none at all). They put it on when feeding, using their vampire powers, or when they get hungry (which also causes them to start violently attacking others to drink their blood).

     Visual Novels 

  • Looking for Group: "And Maikos?...This is no time for masks."
  • Goblins: The titular goblins, like many above examples, have eyes that go solid black when their game faces come on.
  • Heroic example from Misfile, when it's time to do the hero stuff the angels break out their Halos and Wings.
  • Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name: Casimiro turns into some kind of bleach-white skeletal bat-person thing when he's threatening Hanna, which may be on purpose to intimidate him or just because the guy's a Mood-Swinger.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Jeanne's ghost, despite superficially resembling her living self most of the time, has a rather terrifying visage while she's in killing mode. She's been down there so long that her ghost has started to rot.
  • At least some vampires in Sluggy Freelance can switch between normal human and pale, pointy-eared, glow-eyed appearances. Hell Mouth and Vrykolakas vampires seem to look unusual all the time, but at least Lysinda Circle vampires have this power. In "Boys' Night Out", Torg is shown with the same kind of appearance change even though he only thinks he's become a vampire.
    • Chapter 68 shows a Lysinda Circle vampire magically adopting different appearances, at least in other people's eyes, so perhaps these vampires are using this power to appear normal when pretending to be human.
  • Vampires in Zelfia have a Buffy-inspired game face.
  • A thing with vampires in The Night Belongs to Us. Ada is afraid hers will scare Hank.
  • Dracula: Ruler of the Night: Downplayed example. When not hunting, vampires look normal enough. But when they are, their eyes turn completely red, their fangs come out and their ears grow more pointed. Drac himself is subject to "bump face" when he really turns feral.
  • In El Goonish Shive, some Aberrations such as Scarf or the French vampire only change their eyes and teeth when they assume their monstrous forms instead of their whole bodies.
  • In Yokoka's Quest, Copycat has game facial features rather than a game face per se - he occasionally reveals additional glowing, stylized eyes, which float around him. He's shown these when being menacing, irritated, or when travelling through shadows.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons:
    • God Empress Mottom looks like a youthful beauty in public, but she can also look her age (which is a lot, so she barely looks human) when she wants to be intimidating or just let her hair down. In one big battle, it's almost inverted, as she starts out old-looking and turns beautiful when she really gets serious.
    • The angel 6 Juggernaut Star Scours the Universe turns out to have a game face: It's the form we initially see it in. As long as it remains focused, 6 Juggernaut Star looks like a flaming, spiked skeleton when in its spirit form in the Void Between the Worlds, but when its attention slips it shows its true form of a Broken Angel with burned-away wings and a very human-looking face.

     Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe: Like Leland Gaunt, Carmilla only looks human. She's a budding cosmic entity. In "The Turks and the Geek", she holds Shadowolf with dozens of tentacles and splits her face open down the middle, revealing something so horrific that he wets himself.
  • There is a meme called "Show Me Your War Face," which is quite close to this. It became deadmeme when the faces chosen were just derpy enough to miss the target for over-the-top-hamminess, and people left it alone. There were some good ones, though, and they were usually screen caps of a Game Face. Others just were.

     Western Animation 
  • Raven from Teen Titans is the Half-Human Hybrid daughter of an immensely powerful demon. A word of advice: if you ever see her suddenly sporting four glowing red eyes, run. Not that it'll help much.
  • Lots of ghosts in The Real Ghostbusters can put on a Game Face (if not an outright One-Winged Angel). A ghost might look harmless (in fact, it might pretty-much be harmless) but it might be able to make its features horrific to scare humans. (Ghosts like to do that, after all.) Even Slimer was able to do it in one episode.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: Make Numbuh Three angry enough and she'll put one on with Fireball Eyeballs and Scary Teeth, enough to make even her allies run for cover (to say nothing of the villains).
  • As opposed to the black eyes of the 1987 series and the Blank White Eyes seen in most of the 2003 series, the Turtles of the 2012 series have colored eyes most of the times and get the Blank White Eyes when they're being particularly ninja-y.
  • The Godpidgeon from Animaniacs can make his face horrific and scary if he has to. In one episode, he scared the hiccups out of Squit this way.
  • Adventure Time: Marceline has a variety of Nightmare Face thanks to her shapeshifting powers. But her usual game face is a humanoid bat-like look when she goes on the attack. Considering the shows simplistic design, it's very effective when she switches between the two forms.
  • Klarion the Witch Boy of Young Justice just looks like a slender, pale-skinned young man with dark hair, but when he's annoyed enough his face changes to look a lot more demonic, to remind you he's not human at all.

     Real Life 
  • As mentioned above, real animals do this all the time, usually by making themselves look bigger. For example, cats arch their backs and make their fur stand up, pufferfish suck up water to inflate themselves, and cobras look like any other snake until they open their telltale hoods for intimidation purposes. Seeing a guinea pig fluff up to look intimidating is probably one of the funniest things in nature.
  • The porcupine is able to exploit the above better than most. When calm, the porcupine's trademark quills (an adaptation of hair) lay back and flat so they don't interfere with its movement. When under threat, the porcupine then reflexively makes its hair stand on end, meaning its quills do the same, creating its signature defensive look.
  • Hunch over. Bare your teeth. Raise your hands up in position that makes you look like you're about to grab whatever's in front of you. Watch pets and people cower and run as you approach them.
    • A more subtle version is for people to hold up their heads, puff out their chests, and hold their arms out slightly in a sort of bodybuilder pose. There is a whole stereotype about short people who use this to try and compensate around taller people, to varying degrees of success.
    • Even our unconscious physiology plays a part in this trope, as people who are enraged experience a rush of blood to the skin that can turn one's face and neck more reddish and make veins in the eyes stand out. This plus enlarged pupils offer visible signs that someone is genuinely furious, not just bluffing or performing as such.
  • An excellent juxtaposition between Game Face (predation front) and play face (social front) can be seen seen at TED during Stuart Brown's lecture on Serious Play in the interactions between a polar bear and a wolf. The scenario is at 00:01:27.
  • Behold the Eastern Hognose Snake, a harmless serpent (if you're not a frog) that puts on a heck of a show if anyone tries to eat it.
  • Armadillos, aka "Texas Speedbumps," have poor eye-sight, so when they realize an automobile is bearing down on them, they rise up on their hind legs to be more intimidating. Which makes them just as tall as the car's bumper.
  • Horny toads (okay, okay, desert horned lizards) are rather known for this. When threatened, they will not only puff themselves up to appear larger, they also squirt blood out of their eyes to ward any attacker off.
  • Enforced in military training (ex. the United States Marines, as can be seen in "Full Metal Jacket") which asks their trainees to develop a "war face" to increase intimidation factor.


Video Example(s):


Alastor the Radio Demon

Alastor is one of the most evil, dangerous and twisted entities ever to roam the unholy streets of Hell.

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Main / GameFace

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