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Glamour Failure
aka: Glamor Failure

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There are many things that go bump in the night, secure in the knowledge that their unholy powers can trick the human eye into blindness, allowing them to live among and prey on humanity with impunity. But their supernatural (and at times inherently evil) nature means that no matter how complete the deception, they can never truly hide what they are. They may fool the mundane senses, but not the spiritual ones; inanimate objects, animals, children, The Empath or spiritually touched people can sense and see through the deception and cause a Glamour Failure. The Hunter of Monsters and mundane heroes wise to these evil tells will be sure to use them to ferret out the villain from among normal people. Writers love to work these tells into The Reveal when the creature's victim finally puts two and two together. More tragically, a hero under the effects of The Virus will usually have the full emotional impact of it sink in when they can't see their reflection.

These flaws in their façade are usually mixed and matched. So your mileage may vary depending on the critter:

Some supernaturals will drop their glamour on purpose and reveal their Game Face or Hiss Before Fleeing. Others will be faced with an Impostor-Exposing Test. A Monsters Anonymous group may know good ways to avoid these to blend in with humanity. When this happens on a large scale it's a Broken Masquerade. See also Virus-Victim Symptoms, and The Mirror Shows Your True Self. Contrast Hologram Projection Imperfection, for when technology is involved.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Berserk, while Griffith can still shapeshift back to his old human self after turning into the monster Femto, looking closely at the panels shows that the transformation does nothing to fix his Hellish Pupils.
  • Rin of Blue Exorcist, the offspring of Satan and a normal human, would look like an average guy... If he didn't have Pointy Ears, a tail, a tendency to burst into blue fire whenever he got angry, and an 'allergy' to holy water. He's able to hide the tail, the Technicolor Fire, and the aversion to holy water, and nobody suspects anything.
    • His classmates' apparent obliviousness is eventually explained: people with some form of demonic heritage aren't uncommon at all, even in the world of exorcists. The big issue with Rin isn't that he's the son of a demon — it's that he's the son of Satan. Everyone else is justified by the fact that only someone with a Masho (demon wound) can see demons. That, and his hair is long enough that his pointed ears could go unnoticed...not to mention not many people are going to be staring at someone's teeth.
  • Midway through A Certain Magical Index, Touma suddenly finds himself in a bizarre world where everyone's appearance has been swapped without anyone else noticing, leaving him the Only Sane Man for much of the time. However, photographs are not changed from Touma's perspective (though even television broadcasts are). He identifies the spellcaster responsible by how their appearance in person is the same as in a photo.
  • Nanami Jinnai in El-Hazard: The Magnificent World gains the ability to see through illusions. However, she sees completely through, meaning she doesn't notice there is an illusion in the first place: She simply assumes everybody sees what she's seeing until she blurts out something that tips them off.
  • In Fate/Grand Order - Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia, the goddess Ereshkigal takes over the goddess Ishtar's body at night. She pretends to be Ishtar to learn about the main character. However, when she sneezes her true appearance can be temporarily seen. Unlike most examples of this trope, her unglamoured form looks very similar to her glamoured one (she's Ishtar's identical twin sister, only with blonde hair rather than black), so she can at least try to pass it off as 'normal' weird goddess stuff rather than the truth that she's a completely different person.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo in Gankutsuou appears blurry and out-of-focus in photographs, and his voice cannot be heard in audio recordings. While he's generally assumed to be an alien by most people due to his blue skin and pointed ears, which isn't considered unusual due to the futuristic setting, these are still indications that something is very untrustworthy about him.
  • Subverted in the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: 2nd Gig episode "Trans Parent", in which Batou is convinced that a young girl can see through his thermoptic camouflage somehow. He's wrong — she's blind, and her sense of hearing is so good in order to compensate that she can pick up on the sound of his movements.
  • A variation of this occurs early on in Harukanaru Toki no Naka de manga and TV anime. A female ghost, given a beautiful human form by the Big Bad, seduces young men who come to visit her, devouring their souls. When Yasuaki is sent to investigate the case, she tries this tactic on him, only to be informed that he has no emotions that would allow him to appreciate her beauty, and therefore sees her just as what she really is (a skeleton). She does not take it well...
  • Anything made of silver burns vampires in Hellsing. Seras Victoria burns herself when handling silver bullets in the second episode of the anime. Later in the same episode, she jokes about burning herself with silverware. It's not clear if this is the case in the manga as well since she always handles her silver bullets while wearing gloves.
  • Ilulu from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid is established as having very poor transformation skills, which results in her having a somewhat lopsided appearance when she takes human form (Pointed Ears, huge boobs, the height of a child despite being the equivalent of a teenager, and an inability to properly form hands or clothing), though she does improve as the series goes on. And even dragons that are far better than her at disguising themselves aren't able to hide their reptilian pupils.
  • My Bride is a Mermaid:
    • Maguro, Agitaro and Furiyo's Humanization Transformations are incomplete, leaving them with literal fish faces.
    • Octopus Nakajima reverts back to his true form at random.
    • Maki's Humanization Transformation is also imperfect, rendering her mouse-sized. Late in the manga, however, she perfects it.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • The character Duplica has an inexperienced Ditto that can transform but retains its own facial features, (such as they were). Her next appearance has a second, undersized Ditto, named Mini-Dit. This one could transform, matching everything but size. This led to appearances by the likes of mini-Onix and mini-Ursaring.
    • During the Unova arc, Lucas worked as a movie projectionist and noticed that there was someone in the audience who looked exactly like the lead actress in the movie currently playing...including one from a black-and-white movie who also lacked colour while watching the movie. He would later discover this was a Zorua who became his partner.
    • In Pokémon: Zoroark: Master of Illusions, Zorua could disguise itself as a human, but its tail would always remain visible and it would hold its hands up in an odd position.
  • Queen's Blade: The Blob Monster Melona can perfectly mimic anyone she chooses, but her pupils always retain their eerie shape.
  • Sailor Moon: Once she gains control of it, Sailor Neptune can break illusions with her Submarine Mirror.
  • Slayers: Since her disguise spell takes concentration to maintain, Filia Ul Copt will start dropping aspects of her disguise (such as revealing her tail) when she's emotionally strained.
  • Medusa in Soul Eater has a tendency to form slit-like pupils when feeling particularly sinister, often accompanied with a Slasher Smile. And one of those 'snakes' of hers forming a forked tongue on one occasion. This is all the more disturbing when she possesses a little girl.
  • Tamamo-chan’s a Fox!
    • The titular Tamamo is a fox spirit who goes to a human school to learn more about things. Occasionally she is visited by her sisters. Their glamours' failing is dependent on what one sees them through. Tamamo, her sisters, and the goddess they serve are ignorant to the frequent failures of the glamour. When seen through normal human eyes, Tamamo's disguise of appearing as a normal human girl, albeit one who is stunningly beautiful, works on every adult or adult-minded person like the girl in the Public Morals Committee. Those who are students, or young at heart like a resident Sensei-chan, see her as a humanoid fox.
    • When Tamamo's sister masquerades as Tamamo when Tamamo is ill, those who can see through the glamour see a different fox woman than Tamamo; those who only see the glamour see Tamamo's "usual" appearance.
    • Every camera, whether still picture or video, always captures the glamour form and never Tamamo's true form, much to the Photography Club's frustrations.
    • A weasel and raccoon (not a Tanuki) spirit who appear in volume 2 are better at glamours than Tamano, but they slip a bit while trying to scare Tamano off (and getting frustrated at her non-reaction). In the next volume the human students start using traditional Japanese methods of seeing through illusions such as the fox's window.
  • Junji Ito's Tomie shows up on film with extra eyes, mouths, or faces in strange places. She also directly manifests these defects when under sufficient stress — suggesting that she's diseased or a monster seems enough to trigger her physical instability.
  • An invisible Robeast in Voltron is betrayed by the fact that it leaves giant footprints, turns visible when struck by an attack, and inexplicably starts casting a shadow towards the end of the episode.
  • The wolves in Wolf's Rain use some kind of glamour to appear human, but humans can occasionally see through it, depending on their mental condition (for example, Quent sees through the glamour when he's drunk, and Cher saw through it late in the series while in a highly-stressed state). There's also the matter of the wolf tracks they leave behind. There are also a couple of instances where the wolves look human but cast wolf shadows, though this only happens when humans aren't looking.

    Comic Books 
  • 2000 AD:
    • Nemesis the Warlock: Nemesis has a spell to disguise himself as a human when he needs to be incognito. During a trip to the past, the historical Torquemada (who is receiving messages from his future incarnation) can briefly catch a glimpse of Nemesis's true demonic form.
    • Judge Dredd: The Sisters of Death, the two witches responsible for the creation of the Dark Judges, originally appeared like two young women, but they only used this to hide their ghostly carcass forms. Sister Psiren can actually see them for what they are due to her psychic abilities.
  • Black Moon Chronicles: Played for laughs when the hell-lord Pazuzu transforms himself and his demonic minions into an elf prince and his entourage so they can infiltrate a castle. One of the (male) demons who has been transformed into a noblewoman is rather transparent with his boorish body language unbecoming a high lady of the court. His boss incinerates him as a lesson to the others to remember to act their parts.
  • Diabolik's plastic masks are good for altering the face, and the eye color can be concealed by contacts, but they do nothing to alter the wearer's body build, thus preventing them from masking as smaller or excessively taller people. Also, there are ways to recognize a mask anyway:
    • In the early stories the masks would sometime have imperfections, allowing a savvy observer to realize they're facing Diabolik. Diabolik later improved the process, so this method is obsolete;
    • Masks made by imitators tend to melt after a while. Diabolik's masks used to melt too, but he since solved the problem.
    • Face check. That is, pinch the guy's face and pull: if the skin detaches, it's a mask. Then again, if the lower face is close enough and the guy wears glasses Diabolik will only mask the upper face, confiding on the checker pinching him low;
    • Getting the face wet: you can recognize a masked person if you know what to look for;
    • Sweat: if the face isn't sweating but everything else is, it's a mask (how a policeman at the airport recognized a masked accomplice of Diabolik: the accomplice was so nervous his shirt was covered in sweat but the face was clean, and once Ginko gave the alarm he knew who to face check);
    • The most epic of all: an inventor created a device to detect Diabolik's masks. Diabolik killed the inventor, destroyed the device and stole the plans in the same story of the debut.
  • In the Marvel Universe, there have been various ways over the years to detect the shapeshifting Skrulls, including superhuman senses, telepathy, magic, and various devices. Also, death. However, as of the Secret Invasion storyline, the Skrulls have figured out ways to trick telepaths, magic users, and super-senses, leaving technology (e.g. 3-D Man's special goggles) and improvised tactics (e.g. Ms. Marvel shooting a whole crowd with a low-level energy blast strong enough to knock down the humans and leave the Skrulls standing). And then Reed figures out a way to reveal the Skrulls anyway. Guess he's not so useless after all.
  • The Mythology Class: Nicole's adopted dog starts howling during a sunset—because he's actually an aswang. All the other aswangs exhibit the same behaviour.
  • Paperinik New Adventures provide two ways:
    • Paperinik is a known user of Latex Perfection (part of how he can hide his secret identity with only a Domino Mask: nobody can tell he's not wearing a Donald mask under it). However, 23rd-century tech can see through them (how Lyla and the Griffin found his real identity: they saw he had no mask aside for the domino one).
    • In the relaunch story "Might and Power" Paperinik has a new nanotech suit that can alter his looks. However, it can't alter his height, getting him found out when he tried to infiltrate a meeting of much taller Evronian generals.
  • An interesting example is Mrs. Vashti, a.k.a. "Spell Syrin", one of the teachers of PS238, and a former superhero. Rather than bother with official clothes, she just walks around in her spandex-tastic superhero outfit all the time and uses Glamers to appear demurely dressed to others. The reader, however, usually sees her as she really is, and a couple of mystically talented students have also demonstrated the ability to see through it. More interestingly, when mirrors appear, they show us what she appears like to others, in a direct inversion of the classic "The mirror tells the truth" cases above.
  • In Runaways (Rainbow Rowell), Alex reveals that while he looks normal after coming Back from the Dead, he still feels like a corpse to anyone who actually touches him.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) has an example in Dr. Eggman — specifically, Dr. Robotnik as he appeared from Sonic Adventure onwards. He is actually a separate and distinct being from the original Dr. Robotnik, and was originally known as "Robo-Robotnik", with his Adventure appearance being refered to as "Robo-Robotnik v2.0". Outwardly, he appears like any other Outlander. Beneath his opaque glasses, however, are the one tell that he is actually a highly advanced robot: his Electronic Black Eyes of Crazy with menacing red irises.
  • Beast Boy/Changeling of Teen Titans can take the form of any animal and occasionally an alien creature too. The problem? He can't change his skin color and a bright green creature tends to stand out.
    Darkseid: By the way...since when are my parademons colored a bright emerald green?"
  • Girl (Varied Number) from the Top 10 comic book series uses her color control over her android body to fake clothing. Too bad her commanding officer, a sentient dog, is colorblind. Punching ensues.
  • In Usagi Yojimbo, this is the manner in which every disguised supernatural creature is revealed. Stan Sakai grounds much of his work in the actual mythology and history of Japan (see below).
  • Claudine Renko (a.k.a. Ms. Sinister) has some shape-shifting abilities (as does Nathaniel Essex himself). After capturing X-23 and Gambit in the "Songs of the Orphan Child" arc of Laura's solo series, she tries to put the moves on Gambit by taking Laura's form. She completely fails to match Laura's mannerisms and speaking patterns. Gambit isn't fooled for a second.

    Fan Works 
  • After the Fall (Miraculous Ladybug) has a mundane variant: after Weredad exposes Adrien as Chat Noir, Adrien's worldview is completely shattered. As he's thinking over everything, he realizes who Ladybug is, and proceeds to deduce the identities of all the other Miraculous holders. Including that Papillion is his father.
  • In Avenger Goddess, Diana's Lasso of Hestia alerts her to the presence of Loki's astral self.
  • Changelings in Bad Future Crusaders can be identified by touch, as their bodies feel cool and lifeless. Diamond Dogs, and for some reason Ms. Daydream (possibly) are able to detect them merely by looking at them.
  • Black Queen, Red King: Changelings can't maintain their shapeshifting while they're in pain. Rex's eyes also tend to revert back to their natural appearance whenever he's overcome with anger or lust.
  • Constellations: A pair of kitsune visit the Pawprint Shrine disguised as normal twins. When Sunshine returns, they scurry off, unintentionally exposing their foxtails in their haste to get away.
  • In the Dangerverse and its spin-offs, it is a consistent rule that a wizard turned into an animal (whether by the Animagus transformation or by other magic) will immediately recognize another transformed wizard on sight.
  • Dolphin Rider Koishi: Most youkai retain some traits of their animal selves while in their human forms, rendering them a Little Bit Beastly. Sango, for instance, must hide his dorsal fin. If a youkai perishes while transformed, these beastly features are the first ones to fade away.
  • For a Diamond Is a Marveled Thing: Gemsong can ingrain itself into the listener's mind in order to sound like the Gems are speaking their language. However, the true sound can still be heard underneath, which can make it seem as though Gems have sing-song voices.
  • Hakumei: Try as he might, Naruto just can't hide the whisker-like scars on his face.
  • In Iron Kissed, Fae lose their glamours when touched by iron. Cat Noir, being "Iron Kissed", is the exception to this rule, and abuses that fact to maintain his cover.
  • Miraculous Alliance: While the Miraculouses emit an identity-protecting glamour, Sabrina is eventually able to recognize Chloé even when she's transformed into Queen Bee. This still leaves her with a considerable headache afterwards.
  • In many My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfics, it's common to show the Changelings as always having one aspect of themselves that can't be completely hidden when they change their appearance. This one aspect varies from fic to fic, including magic aura color (as shown in the canon show), blood color, and/or how they feel to the touch.
  • A New World, A New Way: Swarm, Naruto the Zoroark's shadow does not change while he is using his Illusions. This is how Emperor Carapace begins to doubt who he really is.
  • In No Charm Equal, Mortals aren't supposed to be able to actually process seeing Cupids like Harry, and none can, except for Eggsy and his little sister (because she's a child). They see him just as a regular human. It turns out that this is because Harry was intended to be Eggsy's love interest.
  • A Period of Silence: In an interesting variant, it's the fact that Allucinere isn't fazed or hurt in any way after Kim kicks her in the face that exposes the fact that Allucinere is a PossiBot.
  • Phoenix's Tear: Reignition: When one of the Terror Dogs bites down on the pendant hidden under Hare's bandanna, the resulting magical backlash partially unravels the glamour he'd been using to look like a full-grown monster. Later, he disguises himself as a leaf hare, but the illusion unravels after he's injured, the faux-green fur reverting back to its natural brown hues.
  • In the Pony POV Series, during the climax of the Shining Armor Arc, when Makarov has a Villainous Breakdown, he Charm Person abilities momentarily fail, allowing everyone on the battlefield to briefly see and sense his true self.
  • Sailor Moon: Between the Lines: When the villains suspect that Usagi is Sailor Moon, Minako attempts to use the Disguise Pen to make it appear that she's Sailor Moon instead of Venus. However, the transformation isn't quite perfect, forcing the Inner Senshi to frantically attempt to fix her costume and arrange her hair into Usagi/Moon's signature style. Mercury speculates that Venus's natural magic is interfering with that of the Disguise Pen.
  • In Tangled In Time, there is a variant with actual glamour. Mr. Dragmirenote  sets a glamour on Link so the latter would look like a young version of himself so he would pass as his son. Only for the spell to take Mr. Dragmire literally and make Link look how he truly looks under the Dragmire disguise.
  • Weres Harry?: Not only can Luna recognize Harry in his alternate form, she doesn't understand why others find this so unusual. Why shouldn't she be able to recognize him?
  • In What Tomorrow Brings, Tobias suspects that a man is an Andalite in morph because of the way he walks.
  • When Is Jade Not Jade: When Sam Quantum Leaps into Jade's body, Cat is able to tell the difference. She can also see Al, much to his surprise. Sam and Al both decide not to question just what it is about Cat that enables her to do this.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Coraline, when Coraline begins to rebel, the Other Mother shifts to a tall, skeletal, more exaggerated form. She remains in this form for the rest of the film before the climax (where she takes on her Final Form). What makes this especially creepy is that despite her inhuman appearance, she continues to act like a doting, caring mother.
  • In The Incredibles, Violet can make herself invisible, but when hiding in a river, a rather clever Mook throws some sand upstream of her last known position, allowing the distorted flow to reveal her.
  • Mavka: The Forest Song: At some point, half of the face of Kylina (the Big Bad) starts to show her true age with big wrinkles. She promptly uses one last drop of the mysterious liquid to rejuvenate her face, then plans to reach the Fountain of Youth to get more of it.
  • Megamind's holo-watch allows him to look like anyone it scans beforehand. However, he, apparently, forgot to waterproof it. It also shuts off if he bumps it by accident. Also, while not noticed by any of the characters, his eye color remains the same no matter which form he takes.
  • In Wreck-It Ralph, Vanellope's glitching spreads to whoever she touches, causing them to glitch out until released. When she does this to King Candy, it exposes his true identity as Turbo, which was hidden by the King Candy skin.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the Blade movies, the Glamour Failure ends up being needed. If you are a certain vampire's pet, you get a tattoo so other vampires know not to eat you. This helps (and oddly hinders) Blade. And relatedly, despite getting all the good bits of vampire powers in his origin (durability mostly) he cannot detect if his adversary is a human with fake pointy teeth. This also comes back to bite him in the ass (pun intended).
  • Blade Runner: Replicants are designed to be indistinguishable from real humans by the Tyrell corporation that built them ("more human than human is our motto"). They're immune to both extreme heat and extreme cold, but good luck detecting them on this unless you don't care about having real humans survive the test... Dunk the Witch anyone? The Nexus-6 models can come across as emotionally immature due to their short ages (limited to 4 years), but later models had fake memories installed to remove even that restraint. The only reliable way to detect them is the Voight-Kampff test which monitors answers and subtle physical response to emotional questions.
  • In the second and third Die Hard films, the first clue that the bad guys are, well bad guys is they are wearing combat boots with casual or business dress. In the second one McClane picks up on this and follows them into the luggage room (and goes on to expose their entire plan), the the third it's noticed by a cop who completely shrugs it off.
  • In Galaxy Quest, Fred Kwan had been making eyes at the Starfish Alien that's disguised as a pale-looking human. Eventually, the two finally kiss, and she lets some of her tentacles out from beneath the illusion. Subverted in that, instead of repulsing and frightening him, it seems to turn him on even more, and they get right into it. Though bystander Guy is repulsed, either because of the tentacles or whatever she was doing with them.
    Guy: Ohhh that's not right!
  • Halloweentown had Halloweentown High where the human students turn out to be monsters such as a Wolf Man, a cute fairy girl, a cute troll girl and an ogre.
  • The Haunted Mansion (2003) had Emma being a ghost when she started floating and becoming blue and the rest of the "humans" are still ghosts.
  • In The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Thranduil, the elf king of Mirkwood, appears quite normal and handsome if somewhat inhuman... until he starts angrily ranting about a previous encounter with a dragon. Suddenly about half his face melts away and one of his eyes turns milky white as if it has been blinded. This lasts for several seconds until he regains control of himself and the illusion snaps back into place.
  • Played with in Interview with the Vampire. Louis steps under a bright light to convince Daniel of his true nature, but after a moment of shock, Daniel simply rationalises that away. Eventually, he is forced to use superspeed to drive the point in.
  • Both adaptations of Stephen King's IT subject the titular character to this trope, what with IT being an Eldritch Abomination trying to pass himself off as a Non-Ironic Clown. In It (1990), Pennywise's face is squirted with acid, causing it to melt, and while he was always unnerving to some extent, Pennywise in the It (2017) adaptation at least had a somewhat cute and rabbity face at the beginning of the movie, but becomes increasingly decrepit and distorted as the movie progresses.
  • Kull the Conqueror: Queen Akivasha looks like a smoking hot witch for most of the film, but when the time to replenish her strength in the hellfire nears, her hand already turns into a demonic claw when she gets angry at General Taligaro.
  • Labyrinth managed to do this with a too perfect illusion which helps Sarah remember she has to save Toby from the goblins. It probably would've worked had it not contained a copy of the play she was working on.
  • In The Last Witch Hunter, when inspecting 36th Dolan's house following his death, Kaulder checks it for earth magic and the entire illusion of peaceful household is immediately shattered, revealing that the place was raided and the Dolan tortured.
  • In Oculus, the illusions created by the mirror don't show up on camera. This means the characters can beat the illusions with a modern cellphone (not that being yelled at by ghosts freaks them out any less).
  • In Phantom of the Paradise, Swan's lackeys always make sure that he's never photographed or filmed. It's revealed that years ago he made a Deal with the Devil that allows him to never age; part of the price is that this trope applies to any pictures/film taken of him since the pact was originally made (and videotaped — the tape is his Soul Jar).
  • In Pokémon Detective Pikachu, Ms. Norman's Cool Shades are to hide her Ditto eyes. She also has pink-tinted hair in a wavy style suggesting a Ditto's natural shape.
  • The Shadow (1994) with Alec Baldwin as Lamont Cranston a.k.a. the mysterious Shadow, the titular character of this movie screen comic book adaption. His powers of deception, mind control and telekinesis are clearly psychic, the result of a Training from Hell by an ancient mysterious Asian mentor. Only two people can see through his hypnotic deception: his arch-enemy who has similar mental powers (and who can hide whole buildings from the eyes of passers-by), and the professor's blonde daughter who is a latent psychic herself and who catches a glimpse of The Shadow when she meets Cranston.
    • Cranston also lands himself in hot water twice when the villains circumvent his ability to cloud mens' minds. The first time happens in Dr. Lane's lab when one of Shiwan's men begins shining a flashlight around the room, discovering him when the light falls on him and makes him cast a shadow. The second time happens when he tracks down Farley Claymore to a pressure testing chamber, thinking he's been brainwashed into helping Shiwan; the latter starts filling the tank with water and spots Cranston by looking for signs of water flowing around a person's legs. He ends up getting shot on both occasions. The third time they try this on him, he's discovered a counter: He makes his enemy think that he sees his shadow in multiple places, causing Claymore to waste all his ammunition firing at illusory shadows.
  • Terminator
    • Early Terminators (mentioned in The Terminator) could be recognized easily due to their rubber skin. Because of that the T-800 has an organic coating, but can still be recognized by man's best friend.
    • The T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day could imitate anything it touched, within certain limitations. However, when it's too hot, its mimicking technology got a bit... twitchy. Beyond that, your only clues are his precise movements and a Bluff the Impostor moment when he's imitating John's foster mother. Deleted scenes in the climax would've played the trope entirely straight, showing the T-1000's shapechanging abilities starting to fail as a result of all the damage it had taken over the course of the film (explaining why it tries to torture Sarah Connor into calling out to John rather than simply imitating her voice, as it had done before).
  • In John Carpenter's They Live! (1988), aliens use a mind-controlling satellite signal to appear human, cloaking themselves from the eyes of Mankind while they take over governments and corporations. A resistance movement forms when someone creates special sunglasses that can filter out the signal before it reaches the brain and allows the wearer to see the aliens as they truly are. The film ends with the resistance dying but not before destroying the signal's ground station, breaking the Masquerade.
  • In Thor, Loki's true nature as a half-Frost Giant is revealed whenever he touches another member of his race or is exposed to their technology. Played with in that HE didn't even know his true form until the first time this happened.
  • A big part of The Truman Show is Truman learning that his entire world is a staged reality TV show by noticing such things. Though all the people of the town do a monumental job of mimicking a real town, there's nevertheless things that are easily noticed once Truman begins going off-script or actually looking for them. Things like noticing how traffic conveniently jams or buses conveniently break down when he tries to leave town, how people tend to walk pointless loops around town like NPCs in a video game rather than actually going places or doing anything, noticing suspicious behavior like people watching him or how perfect strangers who don't know him seem to know his name, how no matter what he tries to do things seem to be preordained and he seems to have no real choice in what he does or who he associates with, and how everything seems to be Bland Name Products and business names except for when characters spontaneously talk about some great new named product they've got while staring off at nowhere:
    Meryl: Why don't you let me fix you some of this new Mococoa drink. All natural cocoa beans from the upper slopes of Mount Nicuragua, no artificial sweeteners.
    Truman: What the hell are you talking about?! (Looks around) Who are you talking to?!
    Meryl: I've tasted other cocoas. This is the best!
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men:
      • Mystique's shapeshifting isn't quite perfect. Her eyes flare yellow if she loses her concentration, and she can't quite mimic the scent of others (making her particularly vulnerable to Wolverine's sense of smell).
      • After "Bobby Drake" convinces Rogue that she should leave the school, his eyes turn yellow, revealing that it was Mystique in disguise. This occurs again with a Statue of Liberty sculpture and Senator Kelly at the end of the movie.
    • X2: X-Men United: Mystique can't seem to hide the scars Wolverine left behind on her. Likewise, Stryker isn't fooled when she masquerades as Wolverine. One thing he knows better than anyone is his own work.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Mystique's irises briefly become yellow when she assumes the identity of a Secret Service agent and Major Stryker. Moreover, when she duplicates Bolivar Trask, she doesn't get his face quite right.

  • Animorphs:
    • At least once, an arrived Andalite is easily identified by the heroes due to her uncontrollable reaction to the food she's devouring while in human morph.
    • In the TV series, controllers would often be betrayed by their habit of ear-scratching, but this did not appear in the books.
    • Also, when Marco morphs the wolf spider, he can see through the Chee hologram due to the spider's ultraviolet-capable vision. Before this, they key in on Erek because their dog morphs smell absolutely no scent at all on him.
    • Controllers can often be picked out by the revulsion and hatred in their voices and actions when they or someone else says "Andalite!" The kids can't reveal that they know what an Andalite is, so this is never used as a means of picking bad guys out of a crowd. In fact, a Controller once says "Andalite" to see if one of the kids was an Andalite infiltrator (the Controllers think they're looking for Andalites and not humans. The heroes would very much like to keep it that way.) but she seamlessly replies that yes, more lighting would be good.
  • In The Bartimaeus Trilogy a Glamour is one of many tricks that can be used by magicians. Get snared by a Glamour and you'll be sitting slack-jawed staring at something you believe to be a delicious feast as the magician closes in on you and takes you as a helpless captive. And if you so much as touch any of the supposed feast, then you're done. However, a spirit of decent quality can resist the effects of a Glamour and can direct the magician controlling them on how to shake off its effects as well.
  • Water nymph Lila in Below looks like a pretty, lost young woman, but her disguise falters as she's discomfited by Brenish's increasingly shrewd suspicions—he's a better liar and has enough book knowledge to figure out what she is. Her voice goes feral for a moment; once she accidentally shows her nictitating third eyelids; and after suffering a burn to her hidden stinging tail, its perfect camouflage partially breaks down. When unconscious she slowly fades back to her natural appearance.
  • The antagonist of the Chanters of Tremaris series uses high-pitched Magic Music to cast spells of illusion to confuse or incapacitate those who hear it. This makes The Smart Guy, Trout, very useful, as he is partially deaf and can't hear high noises, so the spells fail to affect him.
  • In The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, no shapeshifter can change their eyes, which may be highly unnatural in color. On that basis, occasional Glamour Failure is not that surprising.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Scarlet Citadel", Pelias scares away a giant snake by letting it look at him. Conan is very afraid that it was an evil-detecting snake.
    "The scaled people see what escapes the mortal eye," answered Pelias, cryptically. "You see my fleshly guise; he saw my naked soul."
  • In Robert Bloch's Cthulhu Mythos story "Shadow from the Steeple", the protagonist confronts the man he believes to be possessed by the god Nyarlathotep, noting that his skin has turned darker. The man explains this has been caused by exposure to radiation (he was a nuclear physicist), but when the protagonist doesn't believe him, he turns off the lights, causing his body to glow with unnatural light, and causing the protagonist to die of a heart attack.
  • Deltora Quest: Ols can be identified by the mark of the Shadow Lord somewhere on their bodies, and by their form wavering once every three days. Inverted for Grade 3 Ols, whose shapeshifting is perfect enough that they even die like humans.
  • Discworld:
    • The Discworld gods, despite their reality-altering powers, cannot change their eyes. Said eyes always reveal something about their true nature.
    • In the novel Reaper Man, there's a scene where a child sees Death in his true form as a skeleton man, thus showing that his power is weakening, whereas Death is able to make adults see him as human (or they at least convince themselves they aren't seeing a skeleton). Blacksmiths (even Death's horse needs shoeing) use blindfolds when the time comes. Knowing Death is hanging around is a pretty scary proposition.
      • Death's glamour relies on a forced augmentation of the normal human Weirdness Censor: he convinces a person that they cannot possibly be seeing what they are, and so the brain makes up imagery that fits this impression. People who have a reason to see through the illusion or who already know what they're looking at aren't fooled. One time, Death appeared on a stage, and everyone could see him because they were expecting a character based upon him.
      • And cats. Cats being slightly to very magical in many fantasy narratives, Discworld delivers. This magical nature allows cats to see Death as he is.
      • Wizards and witches, who not only are trained to see things as they really are (much harder than seeing what isn't there) but are entitled to a personal visit when their time comes so are fully aware of his existence.
      • And children — the aforementioned child could see his true form because really young children have no Weirdness Censor, so she doesn't know that a skeleton person is impossible.
    • In Lords and Ladies, those who get close enough to the elves or who are wearing or carrying enough iron can see through the glamour they cast and notice that they look... well, alien. Dwarfs, trolls, and animals (such as everyone's favourite sentient orangutan, The Librarian) get this ability for free. Dwarfs and trolls go into "crush, kill, destroy" mode on sight of an elf. It's unclear why this is the case though there are theories: the Librarian routinely handles hostile magic, Dwarfs routinely handle iron, and Trolls likely have a lot of iron-based minerals in their body composition.
      • The Glamour of the Elves is an active power they must concentrate on to keep it working. If you knock an elf unconscious, the Glamour vanishes.
      • Elf glamour otherwise works like that of Fair Folk. They don't see in the usual way, and iron tends to mess up their perception. If you're wearing iron, you're pretty safe; if they're wearing iron, they're screwed. Of course, the resident blacksmith has no trouble with them. Granny also notes that modern Discworld residents, like those in Ankh-Morpork, have "iron of the mind": in other words, they're so jaded and skeptical that glamour wouldn't affect them; thus why elf encounters tend to stick to the more-rustic Ramtops.
    • Witches Abroad states that no matter what, any transformation spell has a Glamour Failure; Eyes Never Lie. This is why the Duc and the Sisters have to keep their eyes covered.
    • In The Wee Free Men dromes create worlds out of people's dreams to trap them in. The only problem is they have a little trouble with mimicking human speech and music.
    • Computers — whether they run on magic like Hex or not — aren't easy to fool in any of Terry Pratchett's works; even if it's just a throwaway line, they will see through glamour and respond appropriately. Specific examples include a military base's automated security system raising the alarm when Death and company enter an off-limits section in Good Omens, or a computer chitchatting with Santa Claus in a short story.
  • In Doctrine of Labyrinths, Eusebian wizards can disguise themselves with magic, but Lieutenant Vulpes's glamour slips at a soiree, leading to The Reveal that he's really Isaac Garamond.
  • In a series as heavy on the supernatural as The Dresden Files, it's only natural for this trope to show up on occasion.
    • Vampires of the Red Court can be forced to drop their flesh mask by exposing them to True Sunlight, presumably because they can't maintain the focus to keep it up.
    • When a vampire of the White Court is about to be controlled by its Hunger, silvery flecks show in their eyes.
      • White Court vampires also shine like porcelain when using super strength and their blood is pinker than human blood.
    • Vampires and many other magical creatures have issues crossing Thresholds uninvited. Black Court Vampires can't cross them at all, and a Red Court faces agony if it tries. Only a White Court can do so in reasonable safety as long as they're willing to keep their Hunger bottled up for the duration.
    • Faerie glamour can be seen through by a wizard's Sight or by using magical ointment on your eyes. Or you can just throw a nail at the fairie in question and watch them drop anything and everything to get away from it; even the strongest of faeries are vulnerable to iron's touch, which breaks through their magic and burns on contact.
    • As per the RPG rulebook, anyone with some magical talent gets some sensitivity toward others' supernatural natures, particularly with physical contact. While Muggles might walk right by a Red Court vampire without knowing about it if a wizard did the same they'd at the least know something was up.
    • Most non-human creatures don't have souls, allowing a wizard who looks in their eyes to know they're not human, even if they can't tell exactly what they are.
      • In addition, wizards get an ability called the Sight, or the Third Eye, which allows them to see the true nature of whatever they are looking at, cutting through all illusion and glamour. However, you can never ever forget what you see with the Sight, and some of the things so seen can really screw with your mind. In one case, Harry takes a look at a particularly nasty critter, and its true form is so painful to look at that he nearly crashes his car and has to spend time desensitizing himself to the memory because thinking about it hurts just as badly as seeing it for the first time and it gives him pause whenever it comes to mind up to three books later.
    • The one complete inversion is Harry's cat, Mister, who is the only thing Harry has ever seen which looks exactly the same to his Third Eye as to his normal vision.
  • Demons in Faeries of Dreamdark have two tells: they leave rooster-shaped tracks regardless of the shape of their feet, and their humanoid guises never have the correct number of joints in the fingers.
  • In Feathertop, the title character is a scarecrow with a pumpkin for a head who, due to a witch's spell, is made to appear as an elegant nobleman. When he first goes into public, adults are praising him, but it's mentioned that a small child "keeps babbling about a pumpkin" (and a dog cringes and howls). Later, Feathertop sees himself in a mirror and realizes he's not human and can no longer live with himself.
  • Mac from the Fever Series can see through any Fae's glamour. It's just one of the reasons they're so eager to kill her.
  • In It:
    • The titular creature takes many overtly supernatural forms but its "Pennywise" persona, which is meant to pass as a normal man in a clown suit, has subtle flaws which reveal its true nature. Many characters note that Pennywise Casts No Shadow, does things gravity shouldn't allow, and frequently changes eye color. People who see Pennywise at the same time also sometimes note that he did not appear exactly the same way to each of them, which further breaks the disguise.
    • Taken further when It, a creature who embodies and preys on fear, appears to Patrick Hockstetter, whose distinct insanity means that he isn't afraid of anything whatsoever. He sees It as an indistinct, semi-liquid figure, as though It honestly doesn't know how to exist around him.
  • John Dies at the End tells the story of two college dropouts who discover and fight an otherworldly invasion after a chance run-in with a supernatural drug changes their perceptions forever. As a result, they see a lot of freaky stuff invisible to everyone else, but they also gain a lot of experience identifying subtle clues that ordinary people could notice if they paid attention. They learn mirrors can be used to circumvent certain illusions, religious symbols can be used to flush out and ward off evil, and household pets can be used to detect and identify paranormal beings.
    • The first case of this shown onscreen is when John and Dave both think the woman who's hired them is hot, but each describes her individual features completely differently.
  • Although in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, The Fair Folk are The Beautiful Elite, in some tales from the story collection set in the same universe The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories, they and the other creatures they consort with are shown as actually being monstrous and their fabulous palaces are similarly an illusion hiding squalor.
    • There are subtle hints in the few descriptions of Lost-hope in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, for example, there are tapestries made of skin. It's never commented on and is probably quickly forgotten by the average reader.
  • Bast of The Kingkiller Chronicle generally looks like a regular human Pretty Boy in his very early twenties, but suffers this when he's angry, hurt or stressed, or in the presence of iron. His eyes turn a solid, luminous blue and his teeth sharpen. He also occasionally drops the disguise for intimidation purposes.
  • In Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville series, dogs can detect lycanthropes. Said dogs are not of the evil detecting variety since they go berserk even in the presence of the titular heroine.
  • Kelpies in Market of Monsters are able to project illusions that make them look fully human. In the case of the one the reader gets to know in detail, Adair, the illusion briefly but frequently fails — there are myriad moments where the heroine notices flashes of his real eyes, real teeth, etc.
  • In the Modern Faerie Tales one of the characters in Valiant, Ravus (a troll) explains that no glamor is perfect and some trait of the faerie remains, e.g cloven hooves or tails or backwards feet. (In his case, he still has black and gold eyes.) In Tithe, Kaye sees her true, unglamoured reflection in a mirror briefly, later explained when Roiben says glamour could be seen through out of the corner of your eye.
  • In The Moorchild, one can see through the Fair Folk's glamour by applying Folkish ointment to the eyes.
  • In Needful Things, the evil shopkeeper sells precious items in exchange for souls, but sometimes the glamour wears off. A rare mint-condition Sandy Koufax baseball card is actually a poorly-preserved card of a no-name player, and an authentic piece of Noah's Ark is just a rotting chunk of wood.
  • In The Nekropolis Archives, vampires look human, but cast no reflection or shadow. Demons can change their form to disguise themselves, but they can't alter their kaleidoscopic eyes.
  • Night Watch (Series): Missing Reflection is inverted in Sergey Lukyanenko's World of Watches. Vampires can glamour the minds of humans to hide themselves from sight. This does not work on Others, who can easily see through these mind tricks. The only way for a human to see a hidden vampire is to look at a reflection, as glamour only works in direct line-of-sight. Video cameras work fine as well.
  • While her whole glamour was probably much more extensive than that, Lena in Night Watcher is outed as a vampire when her lover notices that she reeks of blood as soon as her mind control fades.
  • Rather inverted in The Outstretched Shadow by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. In their true form the demonic creatures known as the Endarkened possess red skin, horns, and catlike yellow eyes. Neither the Endarkened or their works/creatures/spells can withstand the touch of a Unicorn even were one chaste and celibate enough for a unicorn to let touch it without trying to kill them. So when a woman with red skin, horns, and catlike yellow eyes is cowering away from you against a unicorn you personally know (who is sitting there rather calmly and looks more annoyed with you than her) then it is clear that Something Strange Is Going On.
  • In Paranormalcy, Evie's main ability is that she can see underneath paranormal creatures' glamours. She sees both their glamour and their real self.
  • The main character of Peter Schlemihls wundersame Geschichte ("Peter Schlemihl's Remarkable Story") sells his shadow in exchange for great wealth, but is shunned by the rest of society for not having a shadow.
  • A variation of this shows up in Mike Resnick's science fiction novel Santiago: A Myth of the Far Future, although that is more due to a lack of knowledge on the villain's part. In order to kill the bounty hunter Sebastian Nightingale "Songbird" Cain, the assassin Altair of Altair somehow makes him hallucinate that he is back on his home planet of Sylaria being asked by someone he cared about to help her across a brook (as a lure to get Cain close enough to Altair for her to stab him). At the last moment, he shoots her and tells her corpse, "There aren't any brooks on Sylaria."
  • An auditory example: in the third novel of Sentou Yousei Yukikaze, JAM prevented humans from perceiving machines. Rei realized this when he heard the noise cancellation system emitting anti-phase engine noise.
  • In Smoke and Mirrors by Tanya Huff, Tony, being a wizard, can see through Stephen and Cassie's glamour once he views them through a mirror.
  • Several stories in C.B. Colby's Strangely Enough feature animals detecting the unusual and supernatural. "Black Knight of Canterbury" has a dog detecting the passing of a ghostly knight, and in "The Frightened Dog" the title animal detects the approach of a weird threat before the humans he's with do.
    Colby: Perhaps it is true that dogs can see what we cannot.
  • In Stephen King's story The Ten O'Clock People (found in Nightmares & Dreamscapes), only very light smokers can see the "bat people" who are steadily taking over. Non-smokers and heavier smokers alike simply see humans where the titular group sees the monsters.
  • In the Twelve Houses series, moonstones burn the skin of and temporarily take powers away from (most) mages, such as showing a shapeshifter in his/her true form. This is a problem where mages aren't liked very much and get the heroes in big trouble on occasion. Senneth is powerful enough that she actually wears moonstones, though she is weakened by them.
  • The Dean Koontz novel Twilight Eyes features a protagonist whose psychic talent is to see the true nature of the shapeshifting creatures who live among humans. Interestingly, he had this ability from birth, so it took him many years to realize that hairy, wolf-pig people weren't just another ethnic group.
  • The Twilight Saga:
    • Edward and the vampires in the books do not burn or get harmed in the sunlight; instead, they sparkle.
    • In Breaking Dawn, when the vampiric Bella meets Charlie for the first time after having been turned Alice tells her that she should wear contact lenses so Charlie doesn't notice the difference in her eye colour, but the lenses would only work for a few hours before the venom in her eyes disintegrated them, after which she'd have to change lenses.
  • Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone anthology, story "The Avenging Ghost". A Great Dane named Duke is able to detect and see the ghost of his dead master before the humans with him can.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • In this universe, daemonhosts (a daemon sealed in the body of a human by means of occult rituals and symbols) generally resemble the person whose body they're possessing, but with distinct physical changes that identify them for what they are. For example, in the final Eisenhorn novel Hereticus, Inquisitor Eisenhorn notes that while the daemon Cherubael has made all the usual physical alterations to its host body — small horns, glossy golden skin, blank eyes, and claws — the daemonhost still bears a chilling resemblance to his old friend Godwyn Fischig.
    • In Dan Abnett's Brothers of the Snake, a squad of marines finds themselves fighting foes that can only be seen with the naked eye; all their equipment will not recognize them. They remove their helmets and win, though several die because of the vulnerability. Later, a Chaos daemon infiltrates a Chapter House. After one Marine recognizes it and kills its host, it escapes, but a second one manages to recognize it. (It also manages to make the rest of the House believe that the first Marine was raving in his cell, but the second one manages to see that in fact, the man is sitting there quietly, and talks with him.) In this case, the daemon has a distinct, repulsive smell, which uniquely can only be scented with a nose full of blood — the first Marine had taken a rockslide to the face, and the second Marine had broken his nose in a sparring accident.
    • In the Gaunt's Ghosts novel Ghostmaker, an Eldar Farseer is manipulating the memories and perceptions of the Tanith First and Only, making them believe that they are back on their doomed homeworld, fighting for its survival. The illusion isn't perfect, however, as several characters get the sense that something is wrong, and eventually the glamour fails when mildly psychic teenager Brin Milo looks at a disguised Eldar warrior through the appropriately-named "Mad" Larkin's sniper scope, revealing that the tall, thin "Tanith" with white and red hair is, in fact, a Dire Avenger Aspect Warrior.
    • Ciaphas Cain's Number Two Jurgen is a blank, a psychic null that severely disturbs psykers and daemons alike. One story has Cain and Jurgen hunt down Nurgle cultists into a private girls' school, the students throwing themselves onto their rescuers, and would have sacrificed all of them if Jurgen hadn't been there to block the glamour. Another had an entire squad ready to murder each other (Cain included) for talking to the love of their life, then Jurgen came along, dispelling the glamour to reveal a rather unattractive Slaaneshi madam, who was promptly shot by Cain.
      Impersonating an Inquisitor is a capital offense.
  • In Wax and Wayne, the Kandra are shapeshifters who can perfectly replicate any creature of comparable size that they eat, except for the hair, which they have to transfer over from the corpse one follicle at a time. Wayne suggests that they find a Kandra who infiltrated an event in a rush by looking for someone without any hair on their... arms.
  • Invisibility in Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure works pretty well when used against humans, but gods can still spot other invisible gods if they concentrate.
    • It's not just invisibility, either. Hermes spots Apollo, despite his appearing in disguise, because Apollo apparently has a habit of re-using faces.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica: Humanoid Cylons are very difficult to detect in isolation, but once more than a few get together it gets much easier as there are many copies, but only twelve "models". Their very existence is sniffed out this way by Helo in Season 1, and again by Kendra Shaw in the movie. Although five models exist as individuals without additional copies. Then again, their spines glow during sex, which begs the question of how Baltar never managed to notice this about Six?
  • Buffyverse:
    • Buffy is supposed to be able to sense vampires magically, but this seems to be one of the Slayer powers that just did not manage to cross over. She still figures out two or three vamps because their fashion sense stalls at the point of time they, the vampires, first died. Dated clothes trumps weirdo magic-sense. There are a lot of vampires for whom this wouldn't work. At all.
    • Faith mentioned being able to tell if Angel was anywhere in a building, so it works pretty well for her. Apparently Buffy just has the sensitivity of a brick given the number of times vampires have been able to get right up to her (or on one occasion, make out with her) without being detected.
    • Some of the classic tropes also apply in the Buffyverse. Vampires, for example, don't cast reflections (prompting Willow to ask Angel at one time, "How do you shave?"). They also have a tendency to shift into their Game Face when emotional. Also, only children or people suffering from infections could see Der Kinderstod in the Buffy episode "Killed by Death".
    • In the Buffy Season 4 episode "Superstar", Adam sees through Jonathan's spell while everyone else is fooled; it is implied that this is due to his cybernetic nature. Adam himself believed it to be psychological, believing his utter certainty in his own reason for existence kept his mind from being fooled.
    • A vampire actually makes sure to keep all mirrors out of their surroundings to avoid this. Unfortunately for him, this, along with the heavy curtains and slightly suspicious behavior, causes Cordelia to figure out exactly what he is.
    • Doyle tends to involuntarily morph to his demon form when he sneezes.
    • Jasmine has a Nightmare Fuel face (rotten, giant eye-sockets crawling with maggots) that is only visible to those inoculated with her blood as well as her father, Connor.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The idea that the Perception Filter shorts out when people are in danger actually can be nicely applied retroactively to Torchwood, which finally gives a good explanation as to why no-one ever fell down the hole left by the base's lift.
    • A few psychic paper examples; it doesn't work on people who know about it, and the person using it can't let their mind wander, or else the message can change. Also, in series 3 the Doctor tries to use the paper on William Shakespeare and finds out geniuses see it as what it is: a blank piece of paper. It also doesn't work if the subject has an amazingly terrible imagination, as seen in "Flatline". Additionally, if the lie is too big (like the Doctor claiming to be a mature and responsible adult), the paper will just show a bunch of wavy lines.
    • "The Eleventh Hour": Prisoner Zero can shapeshift into the form of multiple people as long as they're connected (a man and his dog, a woman and her two daughters). However, it's not quite so good at getting the voices right... resulting in the man barking, or the woman's voice coming out of the mouth of one of the girls.
    • In "The Vampires of Venice", the Saturnynians use a Perception Filter to appear human. However, this doesn't work on mirrors. The human (and Time Lord) mind can't comprehend the reflection being different from the face seen, and compensates by not seeing a reflection at all. Basic survival instincts are also strong enough to overpower the Perception Filter enough to see the Saturnynians teeth, warning the viewer of the danger.
  • In Ghosted Max Jennifer and Leroy Wright spend an episode on the trail of a Sumerian succubus who steals men's hearts (literally). She has the power to take the appearance of different women. But each form still carries the Sumerian characters for “smoke” and “heart” tattooed on her body.
  • Ghosts (UK): In the first series episode Moonah Ston, one of Barclay Beg-Chetwynde's dogs barks incessantly at ghosts Robin and Pat (the latter of whom attempts to pet it). The 2020 Christmas special reveals that some human infants also possess “the sight.”
  • The supernatural beasties called Wesen in Grimm reveal their Game Face when excited or caught off-guard (called "woging" on the show). Even then, ordinary people still perceive the human disguise; only the eponymous line of monster hunters can detect the Glamour Failure. That said, there are times when the Wesen can show their Game Face to normal people if they really try and push it. The major downfall is most tend to Go Mad from the Revelation as their human mind cannot comprehend what they are seeing. Usually, when a Wesen meets with Nick, they think him just another human who doesn't know the truth about them. When they "wog", however, they seem to realize instantly Nick is a Grimm and often react in terror (as Grimms are considered boogeymen to them). The third season finale has Nick finally learning that to a Wesen, a Grimm's eyes turn black when they wog, revealing what they are. Trubel starts wearing sunglasses in order to conceal her being a Grimm from Wesen. Nick also wears sunglasses during Monroe and Rosalee's wedding, as the majority of the guests are Wesen, and no one wants to start a panic.
  • Highlander: The buzz that one immortal felt from the presence of another nearby. Played for Laughs in the pilot, when Duncan gets a buzz, while Tess is riding him. He mentions feeling something, and she replies that he better be feeling something after all that effort on her part.
  • In I Dream of Jeannie genies can't be photographed.
  • The Rakshasa are featured in Kolchak: The Night Stalker. This variation could appear as someone its victim trusted and/or loved; it could be repelled by the Swastika, which was a sacred symbol long before Nazi Germany co-opted it. This version was the direct inspiration for the D&D version, being vulnerable to a blessed crossbow bolt.
  • In Legends of Tomorrow, the demon Mallus possesses Sara Lance via the Death Totem. When John Constantine confronts him to exorcise him out of Sara, he first glamours his voice to make it seem as if Sara is speaking, and then Astra Logue to trick John. While Astra's voice does act as one hell of an emotional gut-punch for him, Constantine doesn't fall for either for even a second.
  • In the third season of The Magicians, all magic is lost to the world. A major result is that people who have relied on illusion spells suddenly find their true forms revealed, everything from a gorgeous model exposed as plain and overweight to a "hunk" revealed in his centuries-old form.
    • It goes for buildings, too, as when Alice comes to her parents' manor, a usually refined and gorgeous place, only to discover it's the messy clutter it's truly been.
  • Sorcerers in Merlin are indistinguishable from "Muggles" until they cast a spell when their eyes flash gold.
  • Monster of the Week Primator from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers could assume the form of any of the Rangers. The one weakness in this power is that seeing his reflection renders Primitor unable to maintain the altered shape. It should be noted that it doesn't always force him back into his original form. (In one instance it caused the helmet of his altered form to change color.)
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
  • Quantum Leap:
    • A heroic example: Sam Beckett can be seen as he really is by the very young and animals, and sometimes by the insane, psychics, or people whose brain patterns are similar to his own. This also applies to his friend Al, who appears as a hologram that is normally invisible to others than Sam. Although due to real-life technical limitations, Al's hologramatic appearance sometimes casts shadows, his cigar smoke is affected by wind, his cigar smoke is visible despite the established rule that only things Al touches can be seen, etc.
    • In one episode, a police psychic was able to see the real Sam after a while, meaning she is either insane or the real deal.
  • On Sleepy Hollow a pair of witches use magic to appear to be young and gorgeous to anyone looking on them. Having been keeping out of society for so long, the duo are unaware that cameras can show their true forms, a pair of white-haired old women in flashy outfits.
  • The Smallville version of Bizarro looks exactly like Clark unless he's weakened or, later, exposed to sunlight, in which case his face will briefly flicker into a broken-glass-ish looking form that calls to mind the earliest comic book versions of the character.
  • Space: 1999. The episode "The Bringers of Wonder" has huge disgusting aliens who mentally project an image of humanity to fool the inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha. They can only be seen in their true forms by commander Koenig (who had been subjected to an experimental medical treatment) or by someone looking at video recordings of them or affected by "white noise" auditory anesthesia.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's brand of Changelings, the Founders, are liquid beings that can perfectly mimic any object (though some, like Odo, can't get the faces right). In later years, the only way for the Federation to scope out a Founder is through blood tests, as any material drawn from a changeling reverts back to its own natural liquid state (that looks very different from blood). Except they've found a way around that...
  • Both Green and White Martians on Supergirl (2015) begin to revert back to their true bodies in close proximity to open flames, or at least the body parts closest to the flame.
  • Supernatural:
    • Mainly the true reflection variant (such as the Changelings, or the Siren). Occasionally, they'll throw in the physical defect variant (the "flip-to-silver" eyes for the shapeshifters, a retractable layer of fangs for vampires.) But since most of the characters in the show hunt these nasties, they also have several tests, just in case. For starters, iron and holy water are pretty good indicators that a baddie is about.
    • Bobby actually uses these tests on Dean after the latter gets out of Hell, just to make sure Dean is, in fact, Dean. Bobby, being a Crazy-Prepared badass offers everyone he thinks might be a demon a shot of holy water, or, if he's certain, gives them a beer with holy water in it. He does this test to Sam in Born Under a Bad Sign (he's possessed) and Ellen in All Hell Breaks Loose she's not.
    • In "No Rest for the Wicked" Dean gets an 11th-Hour Superpower; given that he's hours from being dragged into Hell, he can now see a demon's Nightmare Face even when they're possessing a human. Lilith cleverly gets around this by possessing Ruby's host (kicking Ruby back to Hell in the process), since Dean can't tell the difference between one demonic face and another. By the time he does figure it out, it's too late.
    • Angels can also apparently see a demon's true face.
    • Played for Laughs in "Hammer of the Gods" when Dean walks past an open hotel room containing an elephant...WTF? He walks back for a second look and has an indignant fat black man close the door on him — the fat man turns out to be the Hindu god Ganesh, whose natural form is an elephant.
  • Cole in Tracker (2001) could sense the life force of another alien if they were close enough. Varied with hybrids, though, Mel was part Cirronian but though Cole seemed to have suspected, he couldn't pick up on her life force. Also could be impaired if he was too close to lodestone.
  • In the True Blood season 4 opener, Sookie finds herself in the Fairy Realm, which looks like a beautiful garden filled with young, attractive people, all of whom are either fairies or fairy/human hybrids, like Sookie herself. After Sookie realizes that the "light fruit" is a trap for the hybrids (anyone who has tasted it can never return to the human world), she blasts the fairy queen with her light powers. Suddenly, the garden turns into a desolate landscape, and the fairies reveal their true appearance — that of goblin-like creatures with sharp teeth, pointy ears, and claws. Apparently, the queen was the one who maintained the illusion of a paradise.
    • Also, in a literal case of Glamour Failure, the vampiric "glamour" ability (akin to hypnosis) is completely ineffective on Sookie (what with her not being fully human and all).
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "A Day in Beaumont", Dr. Kevin Carlson determines that Sheriff Haskin and Major Whitmore are Insectoid Aliens when someone takes their photograph with a flash camera and their true appearance is briefly superimposed over their human disguises. He speculates that it has something to do with the light frequency. The aliens are also unable to bend their little fingers when they are in human form.
  • Twin Peaks features two instances of this: The whatever-they-are Woodsmen, and the BOB-possessed Doppelganger-Cooper. The Woodsmen take the form of monochromatic, soot-covered homeless vagrants and jumberjacks and they try to somewhat blend in, but they are so pants-shittingly disquieting and Obviously Evil that they fail on pretty much every level. Evil Cooper tries to pass off as the real Coop in front of Cole, Albert and Diane, but can't seem to grasp his mannerisms and personality whatsoever, and none of them buy it for a second.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Older Than Print: In Japanese Mythology, a Kitsune's human-disguise is often revealed because:
    • A Kitsune cannot hide its real eyes in reflections.
    • A young, inexperienced, drunk, or just plain careless kitsune may accidentally reveal its fox ears or tail(s); this seems to show up especially often in anime.
    • Kitsune are said to be incapable of saying "moshi moshi" (they are supposed to have an incomplete grasp of the language; a kitsune would only say one "moshi," not two), which lead to the phrase being used as a greeting. It is still a typical way to answer the phone in Japan.
  • Also from Japanese myth, the Hone-onna (literally "Bone Woman") creates a look of a beautiful woman, based on how she looked when she was alive, to get close to her chosen lover and drain him of life so they can be together forever. The problem is it only works on him and everyone else sees a man flirting and caressing a rotting corpse.
  • In Norse Mythology, Odin gave up one of his eyes for wisdom. He usually is unable to fully conceal this, usually via a wide-brimmed hat, hence the Robe and Wizard Hat look.
  • In Jewish, Russian, and some other folktale traditions, demons and vampires had bird feet which they couldn't conceal no matter what form they took. Even if they covered their feet with their clothes, they can be discovered by their footprints.
  • There is a story about the Welsh Saint Collen who entered a fairy castle at the behest of its king. He was invited to a banquet there but wisely refused to eat, remarking that the food was only tree leaves. When the king asked what he thought of the red and blue garments worn by the castle servants, Collen said that the red signified the side being burnt and the blue signified the side being frozen. He then poured holy water on the ground, causing the castle to vanish.
  • In Irish lore, a fairy wrapped her identifying cow's tail around her waist in order to pass as a human at a ball. As she danced, her tail untied itself and dangled below the hem of her skirt, catching the eye of her human partner, who realized she was a fairy. Rather than betraying her publicly, he whispered into her ear, "My lady, I fear your stocking has slipped," causing her to look down and discover the real trouble. The fairy was so grateful for his discretion that she rewarded him.
    • In a similar story, a mortal midwife is summoned to deliver a fairy baby. The midwife is taken to a palace where a fairy woman lies in labor upon a golden bed. The midwife is given a green salve, with which she is told to anoint the infant's eyes, but while wiping the sweat from her brow, she accidentally rubs the salve in her eye. Suddenly she is able to see through that eye that the palace is nothing but a grimy cave and the golden bed a pile of leaves, while other eye continues to see the palace. Later, she happens to spot the fairy mother in the village and inquires how the baby's doing. The fairy asks the midwife which eye she sees her through. When the midwife tells her, the fairy picks up a sharp stick and gouges the eye out.note 
  • In Swedish folklore, trolls, sorcerers and the Devil can förvända synen — "warp the sight" — in onlookers. While there are some standard folkloric methods of protection, two bear mentioning. First, in many legends, it is an active process. If the supernatural being isn't aware of you, you can see their true shape. For instance, there is a common story of a sorcerer who is heckled by a young woman. He threatens her and says he can call the river to raise up, and indeed a flood appears, so the woman jumps on a rock and lifts her skirts. Another woman who comes by unseen by the sorcerer, however, see her jumping the rock and showing her unmentionables — there is no flood. Second, some beings with glamour are trapped by their own vanity. Trolls, for instance, usually appear incredibly beautiful and dressed in expensive clothing, looking like refined ladies or gentlemen. Which seems useful, but the natural habitat of trolls is empty wilderness, preferably in the middle of the night, where rich gentlemen and fine young ladies don't wander around willy-nilly.
  • According to some Arabic folklore, Ghouls can change form except for their telltale hooves.
  • Gods in Hindu Mythology are said to be distinguishable from humans because they do not blink or sweat, the flowers on their garlands do not wither, and they hover slightly off the ground.
  • In some versions, mermaids who took human form could always be identified because the hem of their dresses would always be wet, no matter how hot the day was or how long they were in human form.
  • Some European legends about witches say that while they can turn into animals, they will not have tails; this is referenced in Macbeth.note  The same rule was sometimes applied to werewolves, since Western Europeans saw them as the result of witchcraft.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Banestorm features occurrences of the trope:
    • The Emperor of Megalos is actually a shape-shifting demon, who occasionally suffers minor lapses of concentration leading to brief displays of inhuman features. His horrific personal behavior may be a bigger clue to the truth.
    • Vampires on Banestorm's world of Yrth have a clutch of standard vampire flaws (a dread of running water, no body heat and a deathly pallor, vulnerability to sunlight), but can pass as human if they can hide these. One vampire mage, Lord Claudius Maskill, has achieved a position of political power using social skills and magic, but is in danger of being exposed by his vampire features, and at least one of his mind-controlled victims is going inconveniently insane under the strain.
    • "Medusas" in the setting appear to be female humans (or occasionally elves or orcs), but with a mass of serpents instead of hair, which can be concealed with difficulty.
  • The Chronicles of Darkness games often feature this trope:
    • In Changeling: The Lost, the Mask that disguises changelings as mortals always show some small hint of their true nature and appearance. This gets worse as they become more powerful — the most powerful, although still human in appearance, look decidedly off, and are unlikely to be able to go anywhere without drawing unwanted attention. Also, certain people can sometimes see through the Mask — the insane, those who are high, fetches, very young children, people with certain forms of brain damage... it's not a sure thing, though. Furthermore, a changeling's shadow always shows hints of their true nature — if you were turned into a mountain goat, your shadow's going to show horns, even if you strengthen the Mask to the point that even other Changelings can't see through it, or use Contracts (Fae magic) to appear as something or someone else entirely. Fortunately, the shadow only looks 'off' to other fae or creatures that can see through the Mask, not to everyone in general.
    • In Promethean: The Created, Prometheans appear human, but other people can sense that there's something wrong about them on a deep, fundamental level. This feeling can build over time until the point where a lynch mob is forming. It gets worse when a Promethean uses their innate powers around another person because then the glamour fails utterly and they can see the Promethean in their true form - an animated corpse.
    • Vampires in Vampire: The Requiem typically leave blurry images in mirrors, photos, and films though they can usually make the image look normal by focusing their will. The Hollow Mekhet can't be recorded and don't show up in mirrors at all, because their reflections are off somewhere making trouble. Also, vampires with low Humanity slowly slide into the Uncanny Valley as they forget how to look alive.
    • In Hunter: The Vigil, most Conspiracies have equipment or abilities that let their operatives pierce the various illusions and disguises used by the supernaturals, frequently while also indicating werewolves and other shapeshifters in human form as being non-human.
    • It's particularly bad for Geniuses in the fanmade Genius: The Transgression: If a regular human so much as touches one of your wonders, reality itself will realize it's not supposed to work, and the machine will promptly go utterly berserk. If the mere mortal in question is just checking out your notes, or listening to you speaking at length about your research, they'll see/hear oodles of pseudo-scientific bullshit, though thankfully this won't cause much of a problem other than not being exactly endearing.
  • Many of the Glamour Failures in Deadlands are exactly what one would expect from a series were All Myths Are True: silver repels even human-form werewolves, and so on. The series' most unique form of revenant, the Harrowed, bear most extensive discussion: they carry the smell of death everywhere they go, have a distinctly pale complexion, keep a scar from their cause of death, can potentially be rotting and decayed, and are prone to setting off nearby wildlife. If a lot of their giveaways make them sound like evil incarnate, it's worth remembering that even the nice ones have a Jekyll & Hyde complex.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has the True Seeing spell, which penetrates all supernatural illusions and reveals the true forms of shapeshifted beings. Non-spellcasters have to rely on careful observation:
    • The tiger-like Rakshasa in are demonic shapeshifters (derived from Indian folklore) who can disguise themselves as any humanoid creature, with the caveat that their hands are always facing the wrong way on their wrists. This has varied over the years from the hands being upside down to the palms facing outward. Another version from the spinoff parody Dungeon Hack described their hands as being upsidedown and switched, so that the palms faced inward, but the thumbs were on the bottom and the pinkies on top. This is the only version where the palms faced inward.
    • The "Changelings" are a sort of doppelganger/human hybrid who can appear like any sort of humanoid they wish, within size and mass limitations. They turn back when killed, and their young are unable to maintain their disguises while asleep. Their true forms are grey, with gangly and slightly off proportion limbs, white eyes, and only the slightest indication of a nose and mouth. An article on Changelings in one Eberron sourcebook dedicated a section to "ways to spot a Changeling". The top causes of Glamour Failure are an incorrect accent, incorrect clothing (the body might transform, but the clothes do not) and a lack of knowledge on local customs.
    • While vampires of Dungeons & Dragons appear mostly as they did in life, they are easily distinguishable by their lack of shadows and reflections.
    • Many illusion spells can be foiled if the sensory input is inconsistent, like if someone's hand feels scaly despite looking like ordinary skin.
  • Exalted:
    • The Lunar Exalted are shapeshifters extraordinaire, but each one possesses a single animal feature — its Tell — that remains consistent regardless of what form it takes. The Tell is usually fairly subtle, such as an oddly-colored patch of hair or strange-looking eyes, but it does allow anyone who knows what he's looking for to identify the Lunar.
    • Solars have an awareness charm that make them ignore glamour as if it were not there.
  • Many of the Neverborn in Malifaux appear human, and while some have eyes or skin that are somehow "off," others only have their true nature revealed when someone tries to draw or photograph them.
  • Nobilis:
    • For the weirder Powers, Afflictions that reveal something about your supernatural status fall under this category. You get Miracle Points whenever, say, your reflection burning like a phoenix or your shadow running off to buy USB drives or whatever it is causes serious problems for you. Also, Lord Entropy's Red Right Hand — his palms constantly dripping with blood — remains constant no matter what form he takes.
    • The Excrucians also have a universal one other than their utter beauty-their eyes are like windows to the night sky, and the stars are falling.
  • In the Shadowrun universe, mages have to learn and cast a more difficult (reflected in drain rating) version of illusions if they wish them to fool electronic sensors too. (Cybereyes don't count because they are bought by the owner's essence.)
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Dark Eldar use strange technology to appear youthful and attractive to the majority of beings, but it doesn't work on psykers and daemons. To them, the Dark Eldar appear in their true forms, as hideous, rotting corpse-like monsters.

  • In the first Dream Sequence of Lady in the Dark, Liza Elliott dreams of herself as a wealthy, glamorous lady in blue. As in her dream, she is a renowned celebrity with legions of admirers, she can hardly refuse to allow her portrait to be painted. When the portrait is unveiled, it shows Liza as the austerely dressed, neurotic magazine editor she really is. Consternation ensues.

    Video Games 
  • Bayonetta features a similar example to DMC in that her physical form is always the normal but her cast shadow will display her butterfly wings that she uses to double-jump (an aspect of her patron demon).
  • BlazBlue:
    • When Captain Hazama makes his appearance at the end of the first game, he becomes so animated and overjoyed about his victory, that he reveals himself to be Yuuki Terumi, an immortal, nigh-unkillable psychopath. Perhaps the only example of a Villain's glamour failing due to sheer enthusiasm.
    • Anytime in the sequels when he gets overly excited about his villainous plans, he exhibits features such as glowing eyes, an inhumanly-wide grin, and hair standing straight up.
    • In Chronophantasma, when Relius uses his Astral Heat on Terumi, Relius has him bound to a chair with a mirror behind him, revealing Terumi's true form.
  • In Dark Souls, you can disguise yourself as the Silver and Black Knight to fool the PVP invaders. The problems are, not only you are not as tall as the real ones, the way how you wield their weapons is different from the real counterparts. The dead giveaway, however, is that invaders can lock onto you.
  • Dark Souls II: Maldron The Assassin poses as your friend in your second encounter (the first encounter had him being outright hostile). The problem is, while he looked like a White Phantom, there is no message of Phantom summoning because he is now a non-phantom enemy. And you can target him just like other enemies. It doesn't stop the PVP invaders from using him as a Token Evil Teammate and pull a Doppleganger Attack together, however.
  • In Dark Souls III, you can repeat this feat and disguise yourself as Fire Witches, Lothric Knights and all kind of armored humanoid enemies. You can even disguise yourself as a hollow. However, unlike the two previous installments, not only your character name is not shown in the phantom name list for the host, your name is highlighted in red from a distance if you are a Dark Spirit. It doesn't even take any effort to dig you out from a crowd of enemies.
  • The Darkness II: The asylum intermissions are so painstakingly detailed, you'll have a hard time wondering if (A) the Darkness is screwing with Jackie into unwittingly giving up his soul or (B) the video game version of Jackie really is a demented lunatic who thinks he's Jackie Escacado from reading too many The Darkness comic books. Then you find out that the asylum is showing Lovecraft movies as relaxation therapy. Hilariously stupid, aren't they?
  • In Devil May Cry, when Dante and Vergil's father Sparda took human form, his shadow remained shaped like a demon.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons-based Beat 'em Up Tower of Doom has a Displacer Beast as the boss of Fort Cruth. It does the species's traditional projecting-a-false-image... but a guard you meet just before the battle notes, "Why would two beasts only cast one shadow?" Indeed, the real one is the one with the shadow.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • For many of Tamriel's vampire bloodlines, the longer they go without feeding, the more monstrous in appearance they become. Eventually, they will no longer be able to pass as mortal and risk being attacked on sight. Series' lore tells of the Bonsamu bloodline of Valenwood, who are completely indistinguishable from mortals unless seen in the light of a candle.
    • In Morrowind, Vvardenfell's strain of vampirism brings instant monstrous changes regardless of feeding. There is no hiding the fact that one is a vampire, which means being cast out from civilized society. Given the influence of the Tribunal Temple, which considers vampires to be nothing more than monsters to be killed on sight, this forces vampires to retreat into remote wilderness areas and abandoned ruins where they form their own clan societies.
    • In Oblivion, Cyrodiil's strain of vampirism allows vampires to seamlessly blend in with mortals as long as they feed regularly. They are also known to be able to control their blood lust to a far greater degree than other bloodlines, rarely killing their victims outright. They are typically well-placed in Cyrodiilic society, able to manipulate local politics to their benefit.
    • Skyrim:
      • Similar to Oblivion, The more a vampire feeds, the less powerful they are but also the more normal-looking they appear. If the player becomes one, going one or two days without feeding and people start noticing odd things like how pale your skin is or your creepy eyes. On day three you suffer catastrophic glamour failure and most NPCs will turn hostile.
      • With the Dawnguard DLC, this penalty is removed and NPCs no longer grab their Torches and Pitchforks to chase you out of town. However, it's said that everyone is completely terrified of you, for reasons they can't exactly pinpoint. Dawnguard also redesigns Vampires so they now possess Glowing Eyes. While logically this should immediately out a vampire away, it is implied that only the Dragonborn can notice this, due to possessing a unique Aedric soul.
      • Werewolf players also have minor glamour failures according to guard banter, wondering did they just see fur growing out of your ears, ask if you've been tending hounds because you stink of dog, as well as noticing your disturbing wolvish grin.
  • Ganryu 2 has a shapeshifting oni who tries turning into your Love Interest to trick you, but you manage to see through her disguise and force her to reveal herself, as a haggard, hideous-looking monster.
  • Next time you fight a demon in God Hand, take a look at the other mooks around you. They all gain Glowing Eyes of Doom.
  • The G-Man from Half-Life is able to disguise himself as a human from a visual standpoint, but his speech — which is peppered with Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable, words pronounced too quickly or slowly, no pausing between sentences, etc. — is quite uncanny, to say the least.
  • In Heroine's Quest, you can find out that the villager Regin is a svartalf, because his eyes are inhuman.
  • In King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, the vizier's pet genie can take various forms, but all of them have glinting golden eyes.
  • In the Kingdom Hearts series, the screen tends to fill with TV static when artificially made memories start to fail.
  • Scotia in Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos possesses a magical ring that allows her to take any form she wants. The only thing she can't disguise is her eyes, which are always yellow. On several occasions, she uses this ability to try and trick the player.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, you find a girl trapped in one of the dungeons who asks you to lead her out, but if you do so she tells you not to go out that way. You have to lead the "girl" into a room with bright sunlight coming in, which reveals her to be the boss Blind. Which makes it very odd that, when you first rescued her from the dungeon, she asked "Please, take me outside."
    • Surprisingly an Inverted Trope in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. On a New Game Plus, Link's Grandmother, instead of giving him the iconic green hero's clothes, gives him what's either invisible clothes or absolutely nothing. Link wears them over his normal clothes, with absolutely no difference. It seems at first that she's just playing a joke on him, but looking at Link's shadow and the outline of the Magic Armor reveals the indistinctive shape of his floppy hat. According to his grandma, they're magical clothes that are only visible to honest people, and a few characters do comment on them like the Great Deku Tree. "What's the matter? You see them, don't you?"
  • In The Very Definitely Final Dungeon of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Samus' ship refuses to let her back in because the Toxic Phlebotinum has overwritten her DNA to the point that she isn't even classifiable as a Half-Human Hybrid anymore.
  • Invisibility potions in Minecraft do exactly that and turn you invisible. But only you. If you wear armour, or carry items in either hand, they will still be visible. Other players can also spot you if they look directly at you, as this will make the little "fumes" that come off of you when under the effects of a potion become visible.
  • There's a point in Ōkami where you must encounter a creepy old couple. Pull them into the moonlight and their shadows reveal that they're demons. Though due to their creepy and somewhat disturbing demeanor, it's not that much of a surprise when they reveal themselves. In fact, it makes more sense.
  • Paper Mario 64:
    • Providing the page image is the Koopa Bros.' attempts to block off the Toad Town gate via apparently magical Toad disguises, which fails, thanks to Merlin, because their hats are black and they pretty much try to be conspicuous.
    • The game also had an instance where Peach magically disguised herself as one of Bowser's Mooks in order to sneak around the castle. The reason Kammy Koopa was able to figure out the deception? Peach smelled too nice.
    • There are two moments in the Crystal Palace in which four Duplighosts turn into a party member and you must hit all of them (but not the real party member) with your hammer to avoid a fight. The first time is with Bombette, but all of the Duplighosts speak in a different manner than she does. The second time takes this to a whole new level, in which the Duplighosts pretend to be Kooper and insist that they are him... however, they take the forms of, and act like, Goompa, Professor Kolorado, Koopa Koot, and Luigi.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has Magikoopas, Dark Wizzerds, and Elite Wizzerds who all share the ability to create illusions of themselves in combat. You can target all of them, but only damage the real one. However, if any of these enemies are holding an item, only the real one will still be holding it which is a dead giveaway.
  • Persona 5 has an example where the protagonist doesn't notice at the time due to his unfamiliarity with the metaverse. He gets his metaverse outfit when inside the Velvet Room. This only occurs when the ruler of that metaverse location, in this case Igor, thinks you're a threat, thus revealing him as an antagonist- and, relatedly, as an impostor, since the real Igor wants to support his guests and would never feel threatened by them.
  • In Phantasy Star Online, in the Seabed area, there are robot enemies that are usually invisible. However, you can see their reflections in the water and reflective surfaces that are usually common throughout the area, making it possible to attack them. Also, using a lightning spell will short out the invisibility for some time.
  • In Pokémon, Zorua and Zoroark can be sent out disguised as another Pokemon. However, it cannot use moves other than its own, so you can often tell it's a fakenote . Its type also doesn't change to match its disguise, and neither does its ability - both of these facts can give it away when it, for instance, is disguised as a Flying-type and turns out not to be immune to Spikes (which Flying-types are immune to), displays an immunity to Psychic moves while disguised as something which should be hit by them, or is disguised as Kyogre and doesn't cause rain upon entering battle (which Kyogre always does, thanks to its ability). Also, it reverts if it takes a hit.
  • In the original Pokémon Snap, transformed Dittos can be distinguished from their real counterparts by their non-transformed, dot-like eyes. A smoke ball reveals the true nature of Ditto. If you take a photo of the transformed thing and show it to Prof. Oak, he will remark that there is something off with this Pokémon, though he cannot really say what it is.
  • In The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants, Bart Simpson can see through the aliens' disguises with X-ray specs.
  • In Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, the fake residents of Seaside Town look sort of like real mushroom people, except they have metallic colors and don't move like a normal mushroom person should.
  • Spies in Team Fortress 2 have both an invisibility watch and a disguise kit. The invisibility will flicker if the spy is shot or if someone runs into them, and the disguise will fail if they use their gun or knife. If an enemy pyro lights a spy on fire, the disguise and cloak are maintained, but they are completely worthless as friendly players cannot be lit on fire, and the player is clearly a spy once they're on fire. Plus, ya know, the whole "burning to death" thing.
    • The cloak will actually fizzle out if a Spy gets covered in Jarate (the Sniper drinks way too much coffee) or Mad Milk (whatever is in that jar the Scout's holding, it isn't milk). A disguise won't vanish, but since Jarate and Mad Milk don't affect allies unless they're on fire, and since they'll cry out when they get hit...
  • Glamour spells are a plot point in The Wolf Among Us, starting with episode 2 because they're expensive and constantly in demand so Aunty Greenleaf is selling cheap knockoffs that are prone to showing an increasingly imperfect disguise and failing.
    • Played With. GL's version of a glamour capsule is more "different" than a failure; there are a lot of "tells" in this version, but it never fails until the capsule is opened. Until the easily portable glamour capsule is ripped apart, nobody realizes that the dead Snow White body double is a giant, fat troll! The body double WHOSE HEAD WAS RIPPED OFF. In fact, it's so good that Bigby suddenly realizes that there is a possibility that either A)Faith is alive and Nerissa is dead or B)Nerissa used a glamour to look like Faith when they first met - while Bigby and Woody were throwing sinks. Yeah, sure, that just screams failure doesn't it?
    • The Book of Fables makes it very clear why knockoffs are bad compared to the more effective, legitimate versions sold by the Witches of the 13th Floor - interacting with other Fables won't put stress on the spell but Mundies would. It would show Glamour Failures more often, leading to Mundies to question the nature of those under it before the Glamour is broken completely. All glamours have this flaw which is why Fables don't interact with them much but GL's glamours, being Mass-Produced and with less quality, are far more prone to failure than anyone else's.

    Web Animation 
  • At the very end of the pilot of Bee and Puppycat Puppycat's reflection in a window briefly changes to show the outlaw in a story Puppycat told earlier.
  • You thought Whites were unsettling with their frozen smiles in Lucky Day Forever? Wait until you see what lurks beneath the surface.
  • Mystery Skulls Animated: Lewis, a ghost, can appear as he did in life... but there's always something wrong with his eyes when he does. They appear as either Hidden Eyes or as black pits with brightly glowing irises.

  • Awful Hospital: Any Zone presents A Form You Are Comfortable With for beings within, even ones as distantly removed as a human and a fungus, to interact; enough of a shock causes the façade to crack.
  • Shannon in Bloody Urban retains yellowish eyes and green-tinted skin while shapeshifted into different forms.
  • At least one of the changelings in Charby the Vampirate gets the eyes wrong when taking on someone's form and all changelings retain their hair spikes.
  • In Chiasmata, what gave Doppelgänger Bonnie away was her Cluster F-Bomb being censored by the Location into Sound Effect Bleeps, while the real one was not.
    Omar: How did you make those noises?
    Clara: Does this mean she’s not the real Bonnie?
    Bonnie?: What, ████?
    Clara: Yes! That! That weird, really loud, inhuman noise!
  • In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures, the Cubi all possess powerful shape-shifting abilities, which obviously comes in handy for many things. However, they all have a single "marking" on them that they cannot change — and which also shows what clan they belong to. If you manage to spot such a mark and happen to know what they mean, you'll both know that you're actually facing a Cubi — and usually whether it's the kind that feasts on pain, terror, and suffering, or the kind that feeds on lust, joy, and happiness. Very handy for determining what your next response should be, really. Although make-up or clothing can conceal them, but only real clothing, not clothing made by shapeshifting.
  • In Errant Story, the Elven Rangers who move around the world of men in search of 'Errants' (half-elves who frequently become psychotic) often uses glamours to disguise their elven nature. At one point, however, a young child can see through it, though her mother dismisses it...
  • In Erstwhile, the stepsister in "Brother and Sister" is missing an eye, and not even her mother's magic can hide that.
  • The protagonist of Fox Tails, Keen Kotaru, possesses a so-far unexplained ability to see through the Glamours of the various animal-spirits that are otherwise maintaining a Masquerade in our world. His ability to thus notice the remaining animal features of transformed spirits is what drives the plot, and allows him to effectively fight the evil spirits...
  • In Godslave, Sobek's crocodile teeth start to show when he gets emotional, and sometimes his reflection is of his true form rather than that of the man he pretends to be.
  • The Greenhouse: The demon 'Red' is Invisible to Normals... but even before being able to see her properly or even knowing she exists, her host Mica starts catching glimpses of her in reflective surfaces. The double tails sported by Red when she's put into the body of a cat probably also count.
  • In El Goonish Shive any Greater Chimera has antennae that normally remain in all their forms. Until one uses a Cosmetic Morph Device mass-produced by their common parent species. Though in human form these look like prehensile thick locks easily disguised in long normal hair — unless they happen to grow on a hairless part of the head, but that's a rare anomaly.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, certain individuals are living Glamour Failure, who unconsciously dispel illusions by their very presence. Antimony is one such person, as her encounter with the ghost in the hospital showed. Ironically, this can work against her. During the trip to the afterlife bureaucracy in chapter 46, Kat has such a logical perspective that everything she sees looks like a Halloween house, while Antimony and Mort can see the afterlife in all its magnificent glory. Regardless of who has the "real" perspective, Kat's perspective allows her to flip off an old man in a horror costume, while Antimony and Mort see said old man as a GIANT PERSONIFICATION OF RAINBOW SKELETAL CENTIPEDE DEATH. He even leaves his room because Kat ordered him to!
  • A very subtle one in Head Trip. Look at the teacher's shadow on the chalkboard.
  • Hero Oh Hero: Natasha is a Master of Illusion but can't imitate the aura of others. This is how Noah was able to see through her disguise, as he viewed her with Aura Vision and noticed her aura was all wrong.
  • Last Res0rt uses the "Dead Eyes" of the Djinn-si as a quick tell-tale for identifying most Dead Inside, and it's also the only part of Alice's body that can't be changed by shapeshifting. For Vampire Djinn-si, though, it's just part of their Game Face (though if you piss one off enough, you can still cause an Accidental Reveal).
  • In League of Super Redundant Heroes, an alien infiltrator attempts to blend in with a Perception Filter making it appear like an elementary school girl... but still leaves the tracks of a creature the size and weight of a bipedal rhino.
  • Lovely Lovecraft: Noyes' hand oozes green goo when he touches a medallion decorated with the Elder Sign, nearly betraying his inhuman identity.
  • In Rusty and Co., Mimic's lips are always visible, regardless of his form.
  • In Tales of the Questor, the illusions of the Fae can be pierced by someone born with "the second Sight..." or by someone with the latent ability who daubs their eyes with elderflower balm or drinks elderberry wine.
  • Unsounded: Perceptive Glamours are an Appearance Is in the Eye of the Beholder effect that work by applying a subjective trait, like "normalcy", to the target, so they don't work on people who are suspicious of what they're seeing. Duane's Generic Guy glamour doesn't affect people who know he's undead, and Bastion's "traveling doctor" disguise fails when people nearby realize they're each seeing him as a different race.
  • In Yokoka's Quest, Copycat chooses to retain his purple eyes when copying another person's appearance. Mao recognized who Copycat was from his purple eyes, and identified that someone wasn't Copycat (who Copycat had previously mimicked) from his lack of purple eyes.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-870 ("The Maybe There Monsters"). The creatures known as SCP-870 can only be seen by people with schizophrenia. Each schizophrenic person who looks at an SCP-870 sees something different (a spider with too many legs, a giant ant with a human face, etc.).
    • Dr. Alto Clef also counts, having done something to himself so pictures never show his face - his profile has his head replaced with a giant spider, and a photo of his taken with SCP-978 led to a hand Flipping the Bird.
  • The original imagining of Slender Man had a face which appeared different to each person looking at him, and appeared faceless on cameras due to Glamour Failure. This facelessness eventually became one of his defining characteristics, so now he's simply The Blank to everyone who sees him.
  • In Welcome to Night Vale the cat(?) Khoshekh which hovers immobile in the radio station bathroom doesn't show up in photographs. Also, the person who took the photograph dies horribly. Khoshekh also has poisonous spine ridges, a tendril hub, and venomous fangs, raising questions over what kind of cat Khoshekh is or, alternately, what kind of thing the residents of Night Vale call cats.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman Beyond: Whenever Derek Powers gets angry, which is frequently, his powers flare up and start to burn through his artificial skin, revealing that of the radioactive, glowing villain Blight. Actively using his powers for even a few seconds will completely shatter it, requiring him to have new skin grafted on. His inability to keep his skin on through the events of any given workday actually makes him a case of Blessed with Suck. This worsens as he undergoes a figurative meltdown, followed by a literal meltdown which left him dead for good.
  • In Code Lyoko, XANAfied people and Polymorphic Specters can be recognized by their pupils turning into "Eye of XANA" symbols, or by their tendency of getting blurry with "static" from time to time. They can usually suppress this long enough to force a Spot the Imposter Check, though.
  • If the serpentmen from Conan the Adventurer get too close to anything containing star-metal, the illusion that makes them look human is dispelled until they can move away. This also applies to Rath-Amon, despite him not actually being a serpentman.
  • The Dragon Prince: Viren's normal appearance is a spell he maintains by draining magical creatures. When he expends a great deal of magic, the spell falters and reveals his true form.
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, whenever Nergal Junior transformed, he always retained his green eyes, glasses, and fangs. The most notable Glamour Failure is when he tried to mimic Mandy. The reason being that she never smiles.
  • Justice League:
    • While not a person, an episode has Hawkgirl discover a mine on a faraway planet was fake (and, thus, a trap) when the holographic shadows it cast from her glowing mace didn't follow the same direction of the other shadows the mace cast.
    • Earlier, a spell cast on Superman and Wonder Woman to make each think that the other is a demon can only be broken once they see the other's reflection. The problem is that, once Superman sees what is going on, he feels unable to fight Wonder Woman, and thus has to take a beating until Diana sees it too.
    • And there is the whole "In Blackest Night" episode, where John is tried for destroying a planet. The others notice the planet's satellite is still orbiting it, find the holoprojector, and blast it apart, causing the planet to reappear right in front of the judges.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Nobody notices it but in Chrysalis's first appearance where she is disguised as Cadance, her horn glows the wrong color when using magic and just before she imprisons Twilight underground her eyes glow green.
    • In "To Where and Back Again", Chrysalis sees a brief reflection in Starlight Glimmer's eyes that tells her she's really Thorax in disguise.
  • The memory-manipulating parasites in Rick and Morty are difficult to pick out, since they manufacture entire lifetimes-worth of memories into people, so you won't question why that nice uncle or Frankenstein Monster or Photography Velociraptor is staying at your place. This breaks down when Morty realizes that they can only manufacture good memories; he and his family can tell real friends and family from the wacky fantastical parasitic characters infesting the house because the family have all inflicted horrible experiences upon one another. Except Mr. Poopy Butthole.
  • In Samurai Jack, anything Aku transforms into has the same black/green/red color scheme he does, and his true form shows up in reflections. He managed to disguise himself as a beautiful woman and fooled Jack in one episode, after which Jack stayed alert; a second attempt at masquerade led to Aku being totally outmaneuvered.
  • The Simpsons episode "Bart Sells His Soul" features a number of these: automatic doors don't open for soulless Bart, he can't fog up glass with his breath, he can't laugh, his eyes briefly turn cat-like as he performs a Hiss Before Fleeing, etc.
  • The Christmas special The Story of the Leprechaun's Gold had a situation where banshees could take human form, but were always identifiable by their banshee tears, which they could not hide.
  • Teen Titans (2003): Beast Boy retains his green color when changing into other animals. This would make infiltration difficult.
    Beast Boy: Do I hear an undercover mission coming on, 'cause I'm a master of disguise!
    Raven: Yeah, a green mongoose is gonna blend right in.
  • Tom and Jerry:
    • "The Invisible Mouse" has a variation; when Jerry renders himself invisible with invisible ink, Tom at one point is able to locate him when he sees his shadow. How an invisible body casts a shadow is never explained.
    • Another episode with the same shtick had Jerry get coated in flour, thus rendering his invisibility useless.
  • X-Men: Evolution: Kurt's image inducer. Given that it really only needs the settings "off" and "on" was there really the need to give it so many options and make the off button so incredibly easy to press by accident? As the image inducer only makes him LOOK human, anyone who touches him can still feel his fur. In the comics, he uses it at least once to trick a villain. It could've been a set-up for future writers that just never got used.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Glamor Failure


Mr. World

New God of Globalization, and leader of the New Gods. He knows everything about every person, and tends to leave destruction in his wake.

How well does it match the trope?

4.6 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheModernGods

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