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Genuine Human Hide

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"He's making himself a 'woman suit', Mr. Crawford — out of real women! And he can sew, this guy, he's really skilled. A dressmaker, or a tailor... that's why they're all so big — because he needs a lot of skin. He keeps them alive to starve them a while, to loosen their skin..."
Clarice Starling, The Silence of the Lambs

Some people are a bit bent in the head. These people are often living incarnation of Nightmare Fuel in any case, but the best... well... if best is the word to use here... perhaps "most effective" methods of making them even Squickier than they already are is to have them skin their victims and then use the collected skin for some disgusting purpose.

The possibilities are horrific to contemplate, but include masks, clothing, lampshades, binding on a Tome of Eldritch Lore (bonus points if the book is also written in blood), and so on.

See also Flaying Alive. Related to Skeletons in the Coat Closet, Human Resources, Human Head on the Wall.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Some of the "Health Department" goons from Biomega wear aprons and masks made from the humans and zombies they've killed as trophies.
  • The Akuma from D.Gray-Man. They kill the human who summoned them and wear their skins.
  • Fate/Zero features Gilles de Rais, AKA Caster, whose Noble Phantasm is The R'Lyeh Text, which is bound with still-living, regenerating human skin.
  • Inuyasha: One of Naraku's incarnation is born without a face, so he's in a desperate need to steal faces from other men. Before he gets his hands on the monk's face, we see him throw away the faces of his other victims into the river. The beautiful face of said monk is enough to satisfy his need for a face, which he continues wo wear even up to the point where he gets re-absorbed by Naraku. Aside from the face, he also has stolen the monk's clothes and name (Muso).
  • The Junji Ito Kyoufu Manga Collection story "Flesh-Colored Horror" doesn't need a killer to fuel a nightmare. Some years ago, a man tried to create the perfect skin lotion, but ended up creating a cocktail that separates the skin from the muscles underneath. He died of fright, but his wife, Kawabe, became obsessed with the "inner beauty" and applied the lotion. Her skin she fashioned into a suit with a zipper on the back, because she still needed it to prevent her muscles and organs from drying out. The suit itself also needed to be kept hydrated, but that was a small price to pay. Then she got the idea to spread her sense of beauty and first tricked her sister, Maya, into undergoing the treatment. Thereafter, she wanted to help her son, Chikara, but Maya secretly repeatedly switched out the acid with water to protect her nephew. When Kawabe finds out, Chikara makes a stand and pours acid over his mother's skin suit, destroying it. Kawabe, in turn, demands Maya's skin and rips her face off, dooming them both.
  • Orochimaru of Naruto infiltrated the Chuunin exams twice by killing a person, cutting off their face, and wearing it as a disguise. This wasn't too difficult for him because his entire skin is a fake he wears over his current host body. Presumably this made for a more convincing disguise than the common Transformation Jutsu...somehow. The Transformation Jutsu can be easily dispelled, Orochimaru's version not so much.
  • Red River (1995): Zuwa from the Kaska/Kashga clan kills humans and sews his clothes out of the collected skin. Features include black for Nubian and brown for Egyptian.
  • Youaltepuztli Nahualpilli from the anecdotes of Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, who did it for warmth.
  • Ushio and Tora: The manga-only villain Namahage is an ape monster who wants to become a human... in order to successfully transform he must skin young girls and wear their skins as suits.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • There's an obscure villain called Jane Doe who kills, skins her victims, and then wears their skin while assuming their identity. It needs to be specified that this isn't a Leatherface-style getup — the skin is completely preserved, to the point that Jane appears perfectly like the original person, down to the hair (including facial hair) and voice.
    • At one point in Batman (Grant Morrison), a member of the Black Glove wears the skinned face of his victim, philanthropist John Mayhew, as a mask. It's actually Mayhew himself, wearing the face of a man who resembled him.
    • Just when you thought that the Joker couldn't get any more disturbing than he already is, as of Death of the Family, he's joined this club... except it's his own flayed face that he's strapped in place. Eugh... Thankfully, it does eventually get reattached.
    • In Arkham Asylum: Living Hell, security guard Aaron Cash lost a hand (and with it a lot of confidence) after Killer Croc ripped off and apparently ate it. At the climax of the story, he faces Killer Croc after the latter has been mutated by demonic power. Aaron overcomes his fears and overpowers Croc, tearing off a piece of Croc's hide in the process. In the end, Aaron has his confidence back, and a spiffy new wallet made of genuine alligator leather...
    • The Dollmaker wears a mask made from the skin of his father's face.
  • Blue Devil in the New 52 wears a devil suit which he originally believes is just a high tech suit. Then Black Lightning points out that the wires are actually veins. The suit is really the skin of the demon Nebiros, and Nebiros wants it back.
  • The True Crime graphic novel Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done naturally touches on this, most overtly in the chapter "Archeology in Hell", which details what the sheriff's department found when they searched Ed's house. See below under Real Life if you did not hear what Eddie Gein done.
  • Fantastic Four: Doctor Doom, in what is arguably his most heinous act, murdered his former lover Valeria and made a suit of leather armor out of her skin as part of a magic spell to boost his sorcery.
  • Hellblazer:
    • In an early issue, John Constantine clashes with yuppie demon soul brokers. He is sitting in the house of a pair of them and thinking how normal everything looks when he notices that the lampshade has a tattoo.
    • The "Damnation's Flame" sees Constantine trapped in a hellish version of New York City, where he meets up with a group of survivors. He realizes a second too late he's walked into an ambush when he notices a man's leather coat has a face on it.
  • Judge Dredd:
    • One serial killer lures tenants to his apartment so he can use their skin to produce new garments for him to wear. His job at Resyk comes in handy for disposing of the corpses.
    • After the Day of Chaos left much of the city in ruins, a gang started to harvest the mass graves outside the populated areas to use the skin and bones of the dead as clothing fashion items.
  • No Hero: Carrick is shown on a variant cover in a chair made with human skin with faces.
  • Robyn Hood: In The Curse, the Big Bad uses a form of Blood Magic that allows his underlings to bypass biometric security measures by wearing the skin of the person the system is tuned to. They have to wear the entire skin or the magic won't work.
  • The Sandman (1989) features a one-issue story called "Collectors" about a Serial Killer convention. One of the killers who attends (he's been dubbed "Flay by Night" by the press) is a nationally famous doctor who has treated presidents and congressmen. The fact that he likes to wear "handmade leather ties" was once commented upon during one of his many talk-show appearances. He makes the ties himself out of the skin of his victims, and he's got over a hundred of them.
  • Star Wars:
    • Star Wars: Doctor Aphra: When infiltrating the Rebel flight school, Tolvan kills and skins Glahst Omera and wears her hide as a cloak in order to take advantage of her fur's mimetic properties.
    • Star Wars: Invasion: After the slave revolt takes over the Tsam P'ah, Arbeloa makes himself a hat out of the scalp and upper face of the slave ship's Yuuzhan Vong master, which he wears for the rest of the comic's run.
  • EC Comics' Shock SuspenStories had this as the ending of "The Rug!" and "What Fur?!", both Anvilicious anti-fur stories.
  • Thunderbolts: Creepy Twins Andrea and Andreas von Strucker (a.k.a. Fenris) have energy-projecting powers that only work when they are in physical contact. Baron Zemo murders Andrea to stop her from revealing the secret of his resurrection. Zemo then has the Purple Man brainwash Andreas into taking the "Swordsman" alias. Purple Man has him flay the skin from Andrea's corpse to incorporate the resulting leather into his sword's hilt, allowing him to channel their shared powers through his sword.
  • The Whisperers from The Walking Dead use the skin of zombies to camouflage through hordes and pick off their victims, communicating with each other through slurred and quiet speech mimicking the moans of the undead.

    Fan Works 
  • Arrow: Rebirth: The cannibalistic assassin Serial Killer known as The Huntsman makes clothes out of his victims' skin.
  • Cupcakes (Sergeant Sprinkles): Pinkie Pie wears the cutie marks of all the ponies she tortured and killed.
  • In The Dresden Fillies, Harry Dresden travels to Equestria. Being herbivores, ponies don't use leather at all, so when Rarity and Applejack inquire about his trademark coat, he finds himself in quite a bind.
  • In Friendly Fire, Rarity threatens to do this to Apple Bloom if she breaks Sweetie Belle's heart.
  • The Rat of The Night Unfurls wears robes made of human skin. Goes on to show that he is serious business.
  • The Galaxy Rangers Dark Fic "Raumjager" uses the real-life example of Ilse Koch. Doc is trapped in the "Nazis won" timeline, and sees an "antique lampshade" with a tattooed American flag and the words "Semper Fidelis" on it.
  • Zeppo No More 2: City of Screams: The vampiric Xander drains and turns Kate. Before she returns as a vampire, he cuts off her face and wears it as a mask. Then while still wearing her face, he rapes her corpse, which is when she comes back.
    • Also, at one point he looks into a mirror while wearing it. Due to his lack of reflection, he sees it floating in midair.

    Film — Animated 
  • Mentioned by Shrek when he says that one of the things an ogre's likely to do is "make a suit from your freshly-peeled skin."

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Art of the Dead, Mad Artist Dorian Wilde paints the seven cursed paintings on canvases made from human skin. He and Louis are seen flensing the skin from the back of a dead prostitute supplied by Jack the Ripper to make the canvas for the Lust painting.
  • Bad Taste features an inversion: at the end, Derek uses a chainsaw to kill Lord Crumb. Afterwards, he puts on the alien leader's skin and prepares to kill more aliens once the ship reaches Crumb's homeworld.
  • In the film adaptation of Clive Barker's Book Of Blood, a man with ghostly writing all over his body is captured by a mercenary, who's been paid to collect his skin as an occult curiosity.
  • In a comedic case, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm has Borat asking for his old producer, Azamat Bagatov, and the Prime Minister says it's impossible, "because you're sitting on him" - namely a chair covered in Azamat's skin.
  • In Botched, Sonya and Alex have the faces skinned from their victims framed and hung as artworks around the 13th floor. And a large piece of flensed human skin is used as wallpaper to display a quotation.
  • Ed Gein in The Butchers. When JB and The Collector are examining the Ed Gein exhibit in the museum, they discuss Gein's habit of making objects out of human skin. Later, after Gein and the other killers are brought to life, Gein fights Dahmer for possession of Brian: Gein stating that he wants skin Brian to make a shirt.
  • In Con Air, serial killer Garland Greene claims he once killed a girl and then drove through three states wearing her face as a hat.
  • In The Curse of Sleeping Beauty, the Veiled Demon is making Murderous Mannequins from the skin of he people who vanished near Kaiser Gardens.
  • The killer in the Austrian slasher film Dead In 3 Days is initially believed to be a man avenging his son's death, but then at the climax it's revealed that it's actually the boy's mother wearing a mask fashioned out of the preserved face of her husband, who committed suicide in despair over their son's death. This is her way of having him share in her vengeance.
  • In Deranged, a Roman à Clef based on Ed Gein's crimes, the Villain Protagonist Ezra Cobb breaks into graves in order to exhume the bodies and skin the corpses in an attempt to reconstruct his mother's decaying body. Eventually, he starts killing people in order to take their skins.
  • The Necronomicon as seen in the Evil Dead movies is bound in human skin, with the face forming the front cover.
  • Played for laughs in Fantozzi, where the Mega-director is rumored to own a chairs made of human hide in his office, as one of many symbols of wealth and power within the Company. Of course, when asked directly, he shoots down these rumors, even showing off his Simple, yet Opulent office... But the chair is confirmed (Fantozzi even recognizes the employee's skin on touch).
  • The Field Guide to Evil:
    • In "The Kindler and the Virgin", the Kindler skins the belly of the dead virgin. He later explains to the court that he intended to make a drumskin from it and present the drum to the emperor: who would become undefeatable once it was sounded.
    • At the end of "The Cobbler's Lot", the king orders his new shoemaker to skin the bodies of the cobbler brothers and make him sandals from their hide so he tread on them forever for all the trouble they caused.
  • The Horror-Giallo-kung fu movie Human Lanterns (yes, such a thing exists) revolves around a disgraced ex-martial artist who became a serial killer that delights in abducting young women, killing them, and using their skin to make lanterns which he considers his "masterpieces". Hey, the title actually makes sense now...
  • One of the Creeper's throwing stars from Jeepers Creepers 2 has a piece of human skin embedded on one side. To ensure that potential victims recognize its source, it's got a belly button in it; to make sure viewers know who it came from (Darry from the previous movie), it's also got a bit of tattoo.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, one of the minor Orc commanders wears a human head as an adornment atop his helmet. This is best seen in the scene where Aragorn arrives at the quayside in a ship conveying the Army of the Dead.
  • In Mad Max: Fury Road, Coma the Doof Warrior wears a weird leather mask... made from his own mother's head skin. Sources disagree whether he made it himself or received it from Immortan Joe.
  • In Men in Black, the alien villain spends most of the movie wearing the skin of Edgar, a farmer he killed and skinned. Note that the alien in question is about five times Edgar's size—he's actively squeezing himself into a tinier shape just to make it fit. The skin decays over the course of the movie, which covers at least two days, and by the time the bug removes it during the climax it's visibly rotten.
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera has Pavi, who cuts off women's faces, keeps them fresh, and wears them over his own, attached with straps and staples.
  • Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre makes his namesake mask from human skin. And since dead skin goes bad over time, he's in constant need of new material.

  • From netfunny: There were three guys traveling in Africa: a Frenchman, a Japanese, and an American. They are captured by a tribe of fierce headhunters. The witch doctor says to them, "We are going to slaughter you, but you might take some comfort in the fact that we don't believe in waste here, and that therefore every part of your body will go to some use. We will weave baskets out of your hair, we will render your bones for glue, and we will tan your skin and stretch it over wooden frames for canoes. Now we are going to allow you an honorable death, so I will give you each a knife and allow you to say some last words before killing yourselves."
    The Japanese guy yells "Banzai!" and commits hara-kiri.
    The French guy yells "Vive la France!" and slits his throat.
    Then the American guy takes the knife, pokes holes all over his body, and yells, "There's your fucking canoe!"

  • Aztec: The Xipe Totec ritual (as described below, an example of Truth in Television) is described in full Squicky detail in two separate scenes. There are also scenes of scalps worn as belts and circlets made from the skin of women's vaginas, worn by the Spanish invaders.
  • The Book Of Human Skin: The titular book is said to bound in the skin of executed Peruvian revolutionary Túpac Amaru II.
  • The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump: Many spells require flayed human skin — but the Law of Similarity makes it easy to create fake human skin that works. When the EPA's magic analysis device freaks out over the villains' magical factory, Fischer first thinks that their human skin substitute may have been created by the Law of Contagion, implying they used at least a little real flayed skin. Then he realises they aren't using synthetics at all.
  • Codex Alera: The Canim sorcerers wear clothes made from enemies. This means human skin for most of the series. They also use it to write letters on, including supposedly-friendly diplomatic messages to humans. One high ranking priest had a quilt made from human scalps.
  • Courtship Rite: This is standard operating procedure. The people of the Lost Colony of Geta have few resources to start with. Human skin is too valuable to abandon. The people like to decorate their own skin with tattoos and decorative scars, knowing the art they choose will live on after them, on the leather worn or otherwise used by their loved ones and kin.
  • The Culture: A non-sinister version occurs in Excession when a character picks up a leather jacket he had commissioned on a previous visit that was made out of human skin cloned from his own.
  • The Descent: Since the underplanet is so bereft of biological resources, the hadals are pretty much required to make do with each other for raw materials. Human skin, sinew and bone are vital parts of their economy — not to even mention meat. The surface people who try to colonize the underplanet either learn to adopt the hadals' methods of survival or don't (survive, that is). One of the more disturbing hadal artifacts retrieved from underground is a leather ball made from human skin. Several different races of human were used to craft it, so the ball would have an interesting pattern.
  • Discworld: There's a throwaway reference in Equal Rites to a trail boss wearing a trollhide jerkin. This is Early-Installment Weirdness, basically treating trolls — despite their portrayal in The Light Fantastic — as generic monsters. Several books exploring What Measure Is a Non-Human? later, the Discworld Companion entry for the character acknowledges that wearing trollhide is not acceptable these days, putting Adab Gander in the same category as whoever decided to mount a troll head at the Morporkian Embassy in Bonk (which is presented in the book as terrible).
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: As part of the Voigt-Kampff psychological battery, Deckard directs a subject's attention to his briefcase, then declares it to be "100% genuine babyhide" to gauge her reaction.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe: In the Missy Chronicles short story "Dismemberment", it's mentioned that one of the chairs in the Scoundrels' Club was apparently upholstered from the skin of an "inconvenient wife" of one of the members.
  • The Eyes of The Dragon: Flagg reads from a book bound in human skin. It is implied strongly to be the Necronomicon.
  • "Foet": The skin of aborted fetuses has become the latest fashion material due to a combination of its incredibly soft texture and the perceived transgressive nature of the product. Wilson states that the story was inspired by attempts to convince a friend that Fur is Murder.
  • Gaunt's Ghosts: In Salvation's Reach, during the assault on the titular research facility, Gaunt examines a few bodies of Sons of Sek and discovers that all leather parts of their uniform and equipment are made of this material. Even the scroll tubes lying on nearby shelves are made of human skin.
  • Hunting Problem: Played for laughs. A Starfish Alien is hunting three humans so he can bring back a Genuine Human Hide. He finally succeeds in capturing them, pulls out a knife and... we cut to the three humans racing away in their spaceship, wondering why some alien would steal their clothes.
  • I Strahd opens with Vampire Hunter Rudolph van Richten sneaking into the titular vampire's castle in search of a way to defeat him. Upon entering the library, he finds a book laid out in a spot of honor, and touches its fine leather cover. The texture feeling completely off to him notifies him this trope is in place, and he yanks his hands away in disgust. Notably though, despite being a spellcaster, the book is not a Tome of Eldritch Lore, but rather Strahd's memoirs.
  • The Innsmouth Legacy:
    • Aphra Marsh stops the bookstore owner she works for from buying a Tome of Eldritch Lore bound in human skin as it's actually a fake, with this trope being used deliberately to give it a creepy air.
    • Deep Roots: The Outer Ones can pose as human using Latex Perfection, except theirs works a lot better because it's made of human skin grown in their laboratories.
  • The Malloreon: At one point, Belgarath finds that the scroll holding a prophecy he seeks was made of human skin. This frustrates him, however, because human skin is terrible at holding ink, and the prophecy is now unreadable. He promptly rants that Angaraks were so preoccupied with being gratuitously evil that they forgot practical considerations.
  • Masques: The protagonist finds an instruction for how to summon a demon, written on human hide. However, her companion Wolf decides to only tell her what it is for, not what it is written on, and burns it, letting her believe that it was animal skin parchment.
  • Monster Hunter International: A rare heroic example. Earl's jacket is made out of minotaur hide making it bulletproof. It turns out that the minotaur in question was Earl's friend and making his skin into a jacket was part of his will to repay Earl for saving his life.
  • Nightrunner: In Shards of Time, the ancient dyrmagnos Rhazat appears as a beautiful woman by wearing the necromantically transferred skin of her enemy, the Hierophant Nhandi the Wise.
  • Night Watch (Series): In Twilight Watch, the Tome of Eldritch Lore Fuaran is bound in human skin.
  • In Our Man in Havana the local police chief, Captain Segura, is rumored to carry a cigarette case made of human skin. It's true, though to make it slightly justifiable, the skin came from the guy who murdered his father.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: In the first book, the seat of Ares' motorbike is described to resemble caucasian human skin. It wasn't outright verified, but given the Olympian in question and how Hades has the souls of the damned sewn into his clothes, it's incredibly likely that it was genuine.
  • Planet of the Apes: There's a comment in Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes about "man pelts".
  • Reckless: Jacob fights the Tailor, a blade-fingered monster who wears the skin of his victims.
  • Riverworld: As there are no other animals present on the Riverworld, people wind up using human skin as leather.
  • The Scholomance: El is deeply unimpressed that the titular Eldritch Location throws her an evil Spell Book when she only wants a Utility Magic reference, and all the more so when she sees that it's bound in pigskin made to look like it was flayed off a human.
  • Scot Harvath: A minor villain wears boots made of American soldiers he killed. The American operative going after him is not amused.
  • The Silence of the Lambs has Buffalo Bill (so named because he likes to "skin his humps") trying to make a "woman suit" out of the skin of his victims in a strange attempt at transformation. Hannibal Lecter also wore a policeman's face as a mask in one scene.
  • Simon Ark: In "The Treasure of Jack the Ripper", Simon points out that the map which accompanies the Ripper's journal is made of five pieces of human skin stitched together.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: House Bolton is associated with this. Their sigil is a flayed man and older lords of the Dreadfort would wear cloaks of human skin.
    • Ramsay Snow (aka the Bastard of Bolton) seems to have taken up the tradition, sending Asha Greyjoy a patch of her brother's skin and claiming to have made Mance Rayder a cloak from the skin of his six spearwife companions.
    • When Ramsay tells his dad he wants to flay an ally of theirs he doesn't like and make boots out of her skin, his father is horrified, but not for the obvious reason. He knows from experience that human leather is too thin and weak for such purposes, and they'd wear out within weeks. What's more, their allies, should they find out, would object rather forcefully, and Pragmatic Villain Roose Bolton would prefer to keep those allies on his side.
    • It's also revealed that the Faceless Men use the faces of the people who die in their temple (plus some Applied Phlebotinum) to disguise themselves.
    • "Bolt-on", one of the more out-there fan theories, posits that Roose Bolton is some manner of immortal who avoids drawing attention by periodically murdering his sons and wearing their skins, passing himself off as the latest generation of Bolton using magic similar to that of the Faceless Men.
  • Son of a Witch: Dragons have a penchant for peeling the skin off their victims' faces and bringing them back as trophies. As if this weren't bad enough, the Emperor has the faces stretched over frames, and plans to put them on display to intimidate a rebellious faction.
  • Star Wars Legends: Supreme Overlord Shimrra in the New Jedi Order wears a formal robe made from the flayed skin of Steng, a rival that the first Supreme Overlord Yo'Gand defeated and killed and thereby gained sole rulership of the Yuuzhan Vong.
  • The Wheel of Time: The Eelfinn wear a lot of decorative leather. It is strongly implied that they obtain this from people who forget to negotiate the price for their services.

    Live-Action TV 
  • American Horror Story: Asylum: The Serial Killer "Bloody Face" skins his victims and uses their skin to make lampshades and the mask he wears when hunting new victims.
  • In the Angel episode "Life of the Party", a demon disguises himself as a "human bean" and seems to be wearing a face as a mask. The same episode also has an example not involving humans but played the same way: the green-skinned demon Lorne bumps into a partygoer wearing a familiar-looking blazer.
    "It's Pylean."
    "Ah! My home dimension."
    "Not made
    in, made from. [Beat] Anyone you know?"
  • In Batwoman (2019), Jonathan Cartwright/Mouse is a Gender Flip of Jane Doe from the comics and likewise wears human skin masks that enable him to flawlessly impersonate anyone (he also has a talent for vocal mimicry). It's noted that you can't just flay someone's skin and wear it as a mask convincingly — there's a special technique to creating them.
  • In the fourth series of Being Human (UK), the Warchild prophecy is written on human skin. So that the nature of the skin is obvious, one of the pieces has a nipple on it.
  • In Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Rebecca mentions wanting to turn Valencia's skin into a dress for herself in the song "Feeling Kinda Naughty", among many other creepy desires.
  • CSI: NY: "Yarzheit" references the concentration camp officer's wife mentioned in the Real Life section. Some of the evidence discovered was made from the skin of Holocaust victims.
  • Doctor Who:
  • In the climax of Part 1 of Dracula (2020), Dracula disguises himself as Jonathan by literally wearing the latter's skin like a suit.
  • The third part of the Reaver M.O. in Firefly (the first two being raping people to death and eating their flesh, and if you're lucky it's ...In That Order) is sewing their victims' skins to their clothing.
  • The Grimm episode "The Silence of the Slams" has a luchador mask-maker who very rarely creates a Mask of Power out of the flayed face of a Wesen. Since the magic ritual brings out the victim's Game Face, no one who isn't in on the Masquerade knows that it's human(oid) skin.
  • Horrible Histories:
    • As said in the William Wallace song:
      Celebrated Stirling Bridge, another Scottish win
      By decorating my sword with the English general's skin!
    • An "Historical Educators" sketch has Burke and Hare employed as business teachers. When they are fired, they present the headmaster with a leather-bound journal as a farewell gift. He is delighted with it until he notices the cover has freckles
  • In one "Consumer Probe" skit on Saturday Night Live, Irwin Mainway shows off a line of clothing made from endangered species, then reveals that he's wearing a vest made from human skin by headhunters.
  • Sherlock villain Jim Moriarty informs the person who was so inconsiderate as to phone him during his climactic showdown with Sherlock that he will have the caller skinned and made into shoes.
  • Comes up a couple of times in Supernatural. In season six, the book containing the spell to open a door to Purgatory is covered in human skin. Later in season ten, the Book of the Damned is made entirely out the skin and blood of the insane nun who wrote it.
  • In the Warehouse 13 episode "The Ones You Love," a tattoo that transfers to people's skin and turns them into living bombs is contained on a leather box that the team suspects is made from the skin of Ignacy Hryniewiecki (who assassinated Tsar Alexander II with a bomb).

  • Beyoncé: In the Anger section of Lemonade:
    If it's what you truly want ...I can wear her skin over mine. Her hair over mine. Her hands as gloves. Her teeth as confetti. Her scalp, a cap. Her sternum, my bedazzled cane. We can pose for a photograph, all three of us. Immortalized and your perfect girl.
  • The German military song "Flandern in Not" ("Flanders in Peril") makes reference to Death playing a drum made of human skin.
    Er trommelt lang, er trommelt lautnote 
    Er schlägt auf eine Totenhautnote 
  • Macabre has made a few songs about Ed Gein, who did this in real life.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The Elder Evil Kyuss doesn't need to wear clothing, but nonetheless cloaks himself in a ragged robe made from the tanned skins of everyone he sacrificed to fuel his ascension.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Hellknights of the Order of the Rack traditionally wear capes made from tattered human (or otherwise humanoid) skin, as a symbol of the fate that awaits malcontents and dissidents left to their tender mercies.
    • Leather armour can be made out of angel skin, for villains who want to go that extra mile. It radiates good, allowing them to conceal the evil aura that might otherwise give them away.
  • Warhammer:
    • Gorthor the Beastlord wears a cloak made of shaman hides. This is both a declaration of strength and a symbol of the favor of the gods — killing a shaman is supposedly horrid luck, but given that Gorthor killed countless shamans and still lived to be the greates Beastlord of all time until he finally got put down...
      • Beastmen leaders usually go around wearing human skin as a matter of course, but they maintain that one rule, and most of 'em wouldn't so much as touch a shaman in anger, because the Chaos Gods prefer to corrupt humans rather than favor the already Chaotic Beastmen and Shamans are considered blessed and above the rest of society. Even the other Beastmen thought Gorthor was shit-scary and a brutal psychotic animal. He is remembered in both stupefied awe and nightmare inducing terror.
    • One Regiment of Renown is Mengil Manhide's Manflayers, a band of Dark Elves known for their tendency to flay their victims alive in an orgy of violence and then wear their tattered skins like capes. Their leader is actually wearing the skin of his brother, executed for the illegal practice of sorcery, which grants Mengil some magical protection.
    • The Skaven Clan Spittl lives beneath Lustria and spends a great deal of time battling the Lizardmen, and its warriors often wear their enemies' flayed, scaly hides as clothing.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Chaos and the Dark Eldar, two of the more morally monstrous factions, use human skin in decorations, like clothing, banners, etc. Chaos Space Marines gives us Chaos worshipper and all-around cackling madman Fabius Bile, whose labcoat is, quite infamously, made of human skin over his power armor.note  Many Dark Eldar Haemonculi, also wear labcoats of skin, indeed it may have been they who introduced Bile to the fashion while he studied under them early in his villainous career. Dark Eldar Mandrakes, for a bit of variety, wear hakama-style trousers made of stitched skin.
    • The Flayed Ones of the Necrons get their names because they strip the flesh from their enemies and drape themselves in the strips, in a desperate attempt to return to their old organic selves. Of course, due to the technologies of the Dark Eldar, these human hides could not only be still alive, but conscious.
  • The World of Darkness:
    • Vampire: The Masquerade gives us the Tzimisce, the vampire masters of Body Horror, who use their victims for clothes, augmentation, furniture... and many of them have enough skill to have the victim survive the experience...
    • Werewolf: The Apocalypse has the Skin Dancers, a group of Kinfolk who grew tried of being second-class citizens in Garou society and performed a blasphemous ritual to become werewolves in full that required the killing and skinning of five Garou. They usually keep the skins around as mementos. The truly odd part is that they are under no obligation to be evil — a Kinfolk could hunt down five Black Spiral Dancers, skin them, perform the rite, and then serve Gaia and fight the Wyrm, though they would forever be laden with Wyrm-taint. In the vanishingly rare circumstances that those five skins were willingly given, the Skin Dancer wouldn't even be Wyrm-tainted.
  • Wretched New Flesh Postcards From Avalidad has the high end tailor business Leather Couture, where clients can order one-of-kind items made of human skin. This is completely legal as the skin is harvested from organ donors.

    Video Games 
  • Arrogation: Unlight of Day has a seemingly-ordinary drum you can collect. When you add it to your inventory though? Turns out it's a "Human Skin Drum".
  • The Human Skin Hood from Anarchy Online is a head slot item found in the Crypt of Home Dungeon.
  • One of the Assassin's Creed Syndicate Dreadful Crimes reveals that a series of disappearances were caused by a leatherworker who killed people and sold off their body parts covertly as fertilizer, meat, and leather goods made from their skin.
  • Baldur's Gate II:
    • Early on you can encounter some Gauntlets of Ogre Strength, which seem to be made from actual ogre hands.
    • There's a quest to solve "The Skinner Murders", a string of murders and flayings in the Bridge District. The killer, naturally, is the local leatherworker. If you follow the quest all the way to the end, you can acquire a suit of leather armour made from human skin and the blood of a silver dragon (the only non-evil dragon species to appear in the game), although it's only wearable by evil characters.
  • Borderlands:
    • Psychos, common enemies in the series are in excruciating demand of such leather. Whether they have tastes for it, metaphorically and literally, they will get one, but never actually seen wearing one... until Tales from the Borderlands finally shows you a close look of what a face pizza looks like.
    • Earlier in Tales from the Borderlands, if you have Rhys call Vasquez "Wallet Head" after an old insult Handsome Jack gave him, Vasquez will threaten to save some of Rhys' skin after killing him to make a wallet to "remember him by".
  • In Cultist Simulator the Thunderskin plays, or is, a drum made of his own flayed skin.
  • Diablo III:
    • The Pox Faulds are a pair of trousers made from the skins of plague victims. While the skins were apparently treated somehow, it wasn't enough to stop the pants from releasing an odor strong enough to poison nearby enemies.
    • The Golemskin Breeches are a pair of pants made from a golem's flesh.
    • The Gloves of Worship were created from the skin of a demon by Maghda's coven.
    • The String of Ears is a belt made from... well, guess.
    • The Demon's Skin and Demon's Hide sets use demon skin to make chest armor, belts, bracers, pauldrons, and pants. When paired together, the wearer becomes more effective against demonic foes, and enemies take some damage from their own attacks.
    • The Necromancer-exclusive Bones of Rathma set consists of shards of bone from various necromancers' former skeletal minions. Fittingly enough, the set encourages Necromancers to rely on their own skeletal army in combat.
    • The Tall Man's Finger and Short Man's Finger were once fingers from Umbaru priests before getting turned into rings that enhance Witch Doctors' summoned pets.
  • Dwarf Fortress:
    • Goblins can and will make leather out of sentient creatures. Your dwarves won't due to being averse to butchering sapients, though they can process skeletons after enough time has passed. And if a Dwarf goes into a Fell Mood, they'll kill another dwarf and make them into crafting materials, which can include leather.
    • You can fairly easily turn off this aversion through modding, however, which allows you to sell the elves clothes made from the skin of their countrymen.
  • The Godskin Cultists of Elden Ring, as the name suggests, flay the demigods they kill and wear them as grisly, morbid outfits. The player can obtain and wear Godskin robes as well. Their weapons, which the player can also obtain, are called the Godskin Peeler and the Godskin Stitcher, implying they double as tools for making such clothing.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
  • The Tome of Eternal Darkness is made from flesh and bone, and bound in human skin.
  • Done in Fallen London with the duelist gloves...maybe. The description is your character doubting that it's REALLY human skin.
  • In Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location, on the final night, the Big Bad, known as Ennard, scoops out the player character's innards and uses this trope to escape from Circus Baby's Entertainment and Rental in the bad/real ending. The Custom Night cutscenes show a Surprisingly Realistic Outcome ensuing when the skin starts to rot, forcing the Big Bad to exit it and escape into the sewers.
  • Some of the cannibals in The Forest wear faces that are clearly not their own.
  • In Hyper Light Drifter, the Frog Men chieftain wears a necklace made from the flayed skins of otter people.
  • The Skin Bandits of Kenshi are a group of robots that wear full body skin suits in order to Become a Real Boy. If you're unlucky enough to run into them, they'll politely request yours.
  • Today's Shy Look from Lobotomy Corporation was once a Shrinking Violet who one day snapped and skinned themselves alive to make a giant sheet of flesh so they can adequately express their own feelings.
    "The City encouraged Today's Shy Look to keep smiling, but they who were too shy to reveal themself instead chose to..."
  • The demon Belial in Realms of the Haunting cannot be branded on account of being a demon. And the brand is required to be able to touch the shrive, which puts him at a serious disadvantage compared to everyone else who wants it. But what he can do is make humans get branded, take the branded skin, fashion it into gloves, wear those gloves, and if he's lucky this will allow him to hold the shrive. He's lucky and the happiest demon ever for it. There's a newspaper article in the game about the mysterious disappearance of three French dermatology surgeons, which logically has to do with Belial's gloves. Either it's their skin or they made the gloves for him.
  • In Rimworld, you can butcher human corpses just as you would animal carcasses, producing human meat (which you can convert into animal kibble or load into the Chemfuel reactor if you don't want to go full Cannibal Clan), as well as stacks of human leather. Said leather can be used as a building material for things like upholstered furniture and sandbags, and if you don't expressly forbid your crafters from working with it, they may create Human Leather Cowboy Hats in their next work order. Wearing said clothing will give your colonists a Mood debuff that grows the more human leather items they're wearing... but the debuff from just one piece of human leather attire is -2, which is less than the Mood penalty for wearing worn or tattered attire, so do the math. Funnily enough, human leather attire tends to sell well even when trading with people who aren't complete psychopaths, while colonists with the Bloodlust or Cannibal traits will actually get nice Mood boosts from getting decked-out in clothes made from people. And the whole situation has given rise to the meme of Rimworld players referring to useless colonists as "hats."
  • Sakahagi in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne wears an outfit made from the skins of Manikins he's killed.
  • A rare non-malevolent version of this trope is offered to us in Sunless Skies at the end of the quest given by the Incognito Princess: after her wedding to the monstrous King of Choirs, she transforms into a giant bee monster, leaving behind her empty human skin. Said skin can be given to one of her two admirers who will be able to wear it and take the Princess' place in the crew.

  • In Accursed Dragon, Rawn attempts to turn Coven back into a human with magic. Instead, she turns his shirt into human skin.
  • Played straight in "Cthulhu Slippers" where Nyarlathotep tries to disguise himself as human to gather information on Cthulhucorp employees. It doesn't go well.
  • A rare semi-positive portrayal in Digger - the Skin Lizards. They wear the skins of sapient beings, believing themselves to be the cast-off skins of men who have died. They mean well by it, offering to skin the main character and her companion to spare them of having to see a dead god. In their own bizarre way, they're trying to be helpful. This ritual is eventually Ed's send-off.
  • In Girl Genius a subterranean civilization under Paris turns any interlopers into gloves. Based on the number of eerily tan gloves in their introductory panel, they've been doing it for a while.
  • Tales of Greed: "Human Leather" involves a solution that makes human skin wearable. Users will typically kill one person for their face and a few other people to maintain the body.

    Web Originals 
  • In Ark, zombies can drop their skins as an item, which are usually vendor trash. The titular character has them tailored into a zombie-skin suit so he can enter an undead city without having to fight everything. He's blase about the whole thing while the others are squicked.
  • "Were Books Really Bound In Human Skin?" by Ask A Mortician. (Short answer: yes, and usually by doctors). Presenter Caitlin Doughty describes the history of a few specific books, and also looks at the controversies surrounding them, usually revolving around whether the skin donor consented to the process.
  • The Skin-Taker from the Candle Cove Creepypasta is the villain of the fictional show who wears a top hat and cloak made from children's skin.
  • Everyman HYBRID: HABIT is a malevolent spirit who possesses humans in order to do horrific things For the Evulz. note  He has a very long Historical Rap Sheet, and has claimed several of the Real Life examples below as his own work.
  • The Father Tucker short "Next to Godliness" ends with Father Tucker making basketballs from the remains of a boy named Charlie.
  • In the last episode of Llamas with Hats, Carl skins the faces off of dozens of people and floats them down on balloons as a birthday present for his partner. As usual, he doesn't have any idea that this is a bad thing.
  • PETA made a public service announcement about why wearing animal skins is wrong. It features a fashion show where anthropomorphic foxes and seals are wearing outfits made from human body parts. Things take a turn for the worse however, as we then head inside the dressing room, where a terrified human girl is inside a cage, implying that she’ll eventually be made into clothing.
  • In SCP Foundation, SCP-507 (the "Reluctant Dimension Hopper") once ended up in a desert landscape where he met a helpful man offering food and shelter. 507 followed the man until he noticed his leather overcoat had no seams or stitches.

    Western Animation 
  • An episode of American Dad! had Roger going Yandere on Hayley and planned to cut off her skin and graft it onto his own so they can "become one". He ended up doing it to Jeff instead. The villain of a later episode turns out to be a Distaff Counterpart of Buffalo Bill, abducting men and imprisoning them in a pit before skinning them for the purpose of creating a "man suit."
    Ice-T: Sick old lady was gonna turn you into a skin suit. Was working on a whole skin suit wardrobe. Skin blouse, skin slacks, and a pair of skin sunglasses she couldn't even see out of. Fly as hell, though.
  • A running gag for Krieger on Archer.
    Archer: What is it with you serial killers and skin.
    Krieger: I'm not a... "serial" killer.
  • Erky Perky has the insect equivalent. Local tyrant Mad Margret has bugs who displease made into handbags: with their faces still intact.
  • Gravity Falls: In the finale, when Bill revives Ford, the latter ends up sitting on a couch that according to the former, is made of actual human skin, much to Ford's horror and disgust.
  • Metalocalypse had an episode where Dethklok creates their own line of S&M styled clothes (made of leather, of course). The fashion designer hints at this trope throughout the episode with several ominous references to his "special leather", but the end of the episode has the band discovering the truth, and after all the not-so-subtle hints, The Reveal is so over-the-top that it arguably Crosses the Line Twice. When the band actually find this out, rather than declaring it metal, they're so horrified that they scream continuously with Nathan pausing momentarily to fire the designer in question.
  • South Park provides one example that doesn't involve murder, but is just as unsettling. Because Randy wanted a prescription for medicinal marijuana, he deliberately contracted such an extreme case of testicular cancer that he got around by using his balls as a hippity-hop. He eventually got them removed and had a coat made from his scrotum.
  • An Evil Teleshopping hostess in Stripperella sold counterfeit fashion items made out of her husband’s skin.
  • A criminal in Superjail! has a habit of pretty much making anything from human hide and body parts.
  • Totally Spies! actually pulls this off where one of the criminals turns humans into animals before skinning them and making fur coats "without a single stitch".
    "It's genuine lawyer."
  • In The Venture Bros. episode "Perchance to Dean," a rejected, deformed Dean clone (D-19) is revealed to have been creating a suit of skin using the flesh of all the dead Dean clones over the years.

    Real Life 
  • The Roman emperor Valerian I was captured at the Battle of Edessa by the Persian King Shapur I. At first, Shapur merely used Valerian as a human footstool. However, when Shapur grew tired of this game, he had Valerian flayed alive, then stuffed his skin with dung and straw and had it put on display in one of the larger temples in his capital. Or so says the sensationalist Roman stories, anyways; modern historians generally believe Valerian merely died of illness while in captivity.
  • Ed Gein, a murderer and grave-robber who was eventually used as the basis for Norman Bates, Leatherface, and Buffalo Bill, was actually more notorious for the fact that he skinned and dismembered corpses he dug up from his local cemetary and the fact that he made leather items out of those skins than he is for the twonote  actual murders he committed. Among the disturbing items police found furniture reupholstered with human skin, a belt made from nipples, vests and leggings made from the torso and legs of cadavers, a pair of lips on a window drawstring, skulls on the bed posts, the tops of skulls used as bowls, nine face masks (one of them made from the face of one of the women he was confirmed to have killed) and a nipple doorbell.
  • Ilse Koch, the wife of a Nazi concentration camp commander, allegedly had gloves and lampshades made out of inmates' skin. This came up in trials, but wasn't proven to legal standards.
  • Priests of the Aztec fertility deity Xipe Totec would completely flay sacrificial victims and dress in their skins. On the plus side, before they were killed, the victims got several days of feasting and sex before the sacrifice.
  • It is said that William Wallace used the skin of the Sheriff of Lanark to cover his baldric.
  • One of the plastinated figures in the "Body Worlds" museum exhibit is of a peeled human body holding its own skin.
  • There are examples that still exist of books bound in human skin. There's even a proper term for it. It's not even prohibitively expensive to buy a 19th century volume bound in human skin, and three such books have been found in the possession of Harvard. Don't worry too much though: the skin was usually a byproduct of the dissection of cadavers in anatomy classes, and when it wasn't it was most often done at the request of the deceased in their will. There are also a few documented cases where the published records of the trials for particularly grisly murders were bound in the skin of the executed murderer, but these were the exception, not the rule. The Anthropodermic Book Project has identified 47 books alleged to be bound in human skin from libraries all over the world, of which 18 have been confirmed.
    • Brown University's John Hay (special collections) library has three; one is a large, beautiful anatomy text, with a label inside that says in Latin "this book bound in human skin", and two are small memento mori. Bonus creepy: they keep the anatomy book in a vault in a sub-basement... along with the more valuable parts of the Lovecraft collection.
  • There is at least one website where one might purchase small items crafted of human hide, thanks to similarly-minded people offering to donate their skin to the cause.
  • According to Herodotus, the Scythians used human skins as saddle-cloths and decorated their horses' bridles with human scalps.
    • Herodotus also tells the story a corrupt judge executed by Persian king Cambyses II. The judicial seat was upholstered with the judge's skin, as a reminder to his son (who was appointed as his replacement) not to repeat his father's crimes.
  • Rumors go of Afghan warlords who had leather clothing made by the hides of fallen Russian soldiers.
  • There are apocryphal stories that during The French Revolution, some French followers of the Revolution faction made clothes from human skin flayed from monarchist rebels.
  • Medical skin grafts from cadavers are the least-horrific example of this trope, although the burns and other injuries which they're used to repair are invariably gruesome.
  • There is an urban legend about a lampshade made of the skin of a Holocaust victim. It was debunked by National Geographic; the lampshade in question (yes, it exists) is made from regular old cow leather.
  • The serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer attempted to keep the skin of one of his victims (in between all the cannibalism), although it was improperly preserved and he was forced to dispose of it when it became too brittle.
  • Some viruses do this. They inject their genetic material into a cell and force the host cell to produce viral proteins. The proteins assemble into new virions inside the cell, which then burst out of it, killing the cell and covering themselves with a layer of the cell's membrane in the process. They then wear this membrane layer (called the envelope) until they find a new cell to infect.
  • PETA's founder, Ingrid Newkirk, has written in her will that after her death, she wants her skin and other body parts to be made into various products as a continued protest against killing animals for meat, fur, leather, etc.
  • William Lanne, the last Tasmanian of fully Aboriginal descent, was cut up after death for examination (with scientists fighting over different bits), and his scrotum ended up as a tobacco pouch.
  • During The American Revolution, soldiers in the Continental Army occasionally made clothes from the skin of Native Americans who sided with The British Empire.

Alternative Title(s): Cruelty Rich Leather