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Goblin Face

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She normally looks prettier than this. We swear.

Some works strive to make its characters look appealing in every scenario. Others, however, are willing to have normally attractive characters give off shockingly exaggerated facial expressions.

Goblin Face occurs when a character emotes to an extreme degree, making them appear much uglier than normal. The most common traits feature wrinkled skin caused by stretched facial muscles. One may also see Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises, flared nostrils, and gums exposed over and under the character's teeth. Anger, terror, depression, disgust, and pain are some of the most common emotions that can evoke this trope.

Such facial expressions are normally played either for drama or comedy. This gets used because creators believe that straining the face conveys the emotion better than a more reserved facial expression, showing exactly how much stress the character is under without having to directly explain it to the audience.

Goblin Face is used sparingly by most creators, as it runs the risk of falling into Narm territory if overdone in dramatic works, or becoming unfunny if overdone in comedic ones. It's usually reserved for scenes the show wants viewers to remember most vividly.

Compare Wild Take, which also involves exaggerated facial expressions but takes them to cartoonishly overblown levels, and Comical Angry Face. Also compare Gonk, where the character's face is repulsive-looking by default. See also Nostril Shot, when the shot is taken from a low position, therefore displaying the nose for added intimacy and creepiness.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders: Mariah of the Egypt Nine Glory Gods tends to show hideous facial expressions whenever she gets angry, such as after discovering how Joseph and Avdol manage to avoid getting run over by a train.
  • Soul Eater: All characters forced to spend any amount of time with Excalibur make the exact same exaggerated expression of disgust. It does not matter whether or not the character even has a face, Excalibur is just that annoying.
  • The Saga of Tanya the Evil: Despite having the appearance of a cute young girl, Tanya frequently makes extreme facial expressions in the anime adaptation. Her goblin face is best seen during her final speech at the end of the first season.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Joey Wheeler is infamous for his habit of pulling an unnervingly realistic facial expression at odds with the series's main art style, consisting of an amazingly wrinkled smile with pronounced lips and a pointy chin. While meant to emphasize his hammy, Hot-Blooded personality, Joey's "creepy chin" face is also inspired by Antonio Inoki's equally memetic facial expressions.

    Films — Animation 
  • One of the most infamous moments in Mulan II occurs when Shang blows up at Mulan near the end of the second act. His facial animation displays a shockingly extreme example of the trope.

    Films — Live-action 
  • The Dark Knight: Joker's makeup is applied in such a way as to emphasize the creases in his face so that he always appears to be either laughing maniacally or looking enraged. The brief glimpse we get of him without his makeup shows that - barring his Glasgow smile - he actually has flawless good looks.
  • Spider-Man Trilogy:
    • Willem Dafoe dramatically wrinkles up his face several times in his role as the Green Goblin in Spider-Man, especially when he's angry or laughing. When he returns in Spider-Man: No Way Home, he gets even more opportunities to do this, especially since he's ditched his mask.
    • In Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker scrunches up his face while trying to stop a train with his webs, demonstrating the extreme strain his body undergoes.

    Video Games 
  • Cuphead: The Devil exhibits this trope at the very end of the second phase in the Final Boss fight against him. With his pride now ground to dust by Cuphead and Mugman as they prove to be more than mere annoyances, all he can do is scrunch up his face — in an oddly detailed manner in contrast to the game's Inkblot Cartoon Style — and descend into inelegant blubbering.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: You can tell Clueless Detective Hildibrand Manderville is the game's comic relief because of the way his face stretches and contorts far more than any other character into Wild Takes.
  • In Fate/Grand Order, Christopher Columbus already stands out for having a very distinct artstyle with thick outlines but is very prone to horrifyingly exaggerated expressions for any particularly strong emotional outbursts.

    Web Animation 
  • Goblin Faces, along with wild takes, are a major element that makes up the signature style of Mexican animator Sr. Pelo. Expect otherwise normal-looking characters in his works to regularly make absurd, exaggerated expressions for both hilarious and terrifying effect.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Finn discovers in an early episode that he's afraid of the ocean. Every possible fault on his face is scrunched as a drop of ocean water lands on him.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes has many examples due to its notoriously loose art style, including Rad and Enid's facial expressions at the end of "Sibling Rivalry", and Lord Boxman's series of expressions as he searches for Jethro 2.0 in a crowd in the episode "I Am Jethro".
  • The Mask: In "The Mask Is Greener On The Other Side", the protagonist Stanley Ipkiss puts on Loki's mask for the first time, in a highly Painful Transformation. Stanley starts making up his face as the mask painfully grips onto him.
  • Samurai Jack: Played straight in Episode XCVI, while Ashi was being tortured by the Dominator. Her scrunched face demonstrates the extreme amount of pain she suffers.
  • One of the best examples in Steven Universe occurs in the episode "Message Received", when Yellow Diamond's face scrunches up after Peridot betrays and insults her.
  • Played for Laughs in The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Safety". Mr. Small plays an extremely old and extremely horribly animated Scare 'Em Straight VHS video that teaches about trying to stay safe with common activities. The video's audio and visuals begins to horribly warp at the end and leaves Mr. Small rocking in a Troubled Fetal Position with a garbage basket over his head after he screams in terror over the demonic entity it just turned into. The rest of the class all have the same horribly scrunched up look of complete shock on their faces as class ends and they all walk out.
  • The page's image is of Vaggie from Hazbin Hotel. She is normally quite the pretty character, but has some wild faces when she's angry, making faces like the one above for when she's especially displeased.

    Real Life 


Video Example(s):


Norman and the Goblin

Norman's vicious alter ego reveals himself to him.

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Main / TheManInTheMirrorTalksBack

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