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Good Lips, Evil Jaws

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In a work of fiction with many kinds of fantastic talking critters, how can you tell which are on the side of good and which aren't?

Simple, the good guys have expressive lips and the bad guys have scary, protruding, teeth, possibly dripping with mucus. Commonly found in reptiles and the undead.

Probably related to our primordial instincts relating to bared teeth, such as the "chimpanzee smile" actually being a means of threatening other apes.

See also: Cute Little Fangs, Fangs Are Evil, Scary Teeth, Phlegmings, and Monster Mouth.


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    Anime And Manga 
  • Attack on Titan has this effect going on with many of its titans, notably the Colossal Titan, which doesn't even have cheeks. Strangely inverted by two: the hero-killing Female Titan has humanlike lips, while Eren's titan form with its two-level jaw is on humanity's side.

    Comic Books 
  • Inverted in Myth Adventures, Phil Foglio's adaptation of Robert Asprin's books. One of the two main protagonists, Aahz, has a huge mouth full of razor sharp teeth - and he's the good guy. (Well, sorta...)
  • Phil Foglio actually does this a lot. Multiple heroic characters in such diverse works such as What's New? with Phil and Dixie and Girl Genius have More Teeth than the Osmond Family, occasionally with no explanation whatsoever.
  • Judge Dredd: The undead supervillain Judge Death has a permanent Slasher Smile etched on his face because his lips have rotted away. The exposed teeth are the only visible part of him; the rest is concealed by his helmet.
  • A couple Batman villains have this. Warren White/The Great White Shark lost his lips to frostbite; Waylon Jones/Killer Croc is occasionally drawn lipless and occasionally not, Depending on the Artist; and Two-Face plays both sides, naturally.
  • Venom is constantly shown with a lipless mouth filled with razor-sharp teeth. While he tows the line between villain and Anti-Hero, he's consistently shown as one of Spider-Man's most dangerous enemies.
  • The Dominators are a mostly immoral race of scientists who traverse the universe abducting, murdering and experimenting on other sentients and have no lips and long sharp teeth. There are a very small handful of Dominators who do have morals, like the Space Pirate Sakritt who befriended Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman (1987).
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Monitor of our universe looks mostly humanoid, including lips. His Evil Counterpart, the Anti-Monitor, is mechanical; the only seeming organic part of him is the exposed, lipless row of long, thin, jagged, slotted-together teeth. note 
  • Once someone turns in Marvel Zombies, their lips soon disappear to expose their teeth.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon):
  • In Slipping Between Worlds, reformed Black Ribboner vampire Sally von Humpeding is still capable of becoming All Vampire when certain highly charged emotional and physical situations affecting her bodily chemistry and self-control cause her to revert to something primal and basic. Whenever she has a really intense orgasm. Forewarned, she invests in large well-filled fresh black puddings so as not to cause damage to a friend, which given the circumstances might well be perceived as somewhat ungrateful. as well as eliminating the opportunity for further orgasms.

    Films — Animated 
  • Antz does this with the Termites. Also, invoked with the main villain, an ant named General Mandible.
  • Dinosaur and the... well, ALL the non-friendly dinosaurs. Conversely, the iguanodon protagonists were originally designed with rigid beaks, which would have been accurate, but they were later given lips in order to make them more expressive.
  • Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs: The good Mommy dinosaur vs. the Albino DinoMonster.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien of course made sure everybody knew their monster meant business and gave it two sets of mouths each with razor sharp teeth. It does have lips, but they're usually peeled back in a snarl or hiss.
  • In Hellboy, the psychotic cyborg Nazi Karl Ruprecht Kronen has surgically removed his lips and eyelids, just to creep you out.
  • The raptors in Jurassic Park have no lips, but the (arguably heroic) raptors from Jurassic World do.
  • In The Lair of the White Worm, Amanda Donohue transforms in seconds from seductively beautiful woman to something serpent-like with an impossibly distended jaw full of sharp predatory teeth.
  • The Lord of the Rings has a lot of Orcs with no lips at all. They're humanoid, and besides just being ugly look fairly normal, they have rather human mouths, if unusually sharp teeth, but these mouths are not covered by lips.
  • MonsterVerse:
    • Godzilla (2014). The MUTOs have beaked, lipless mouths which occasionally drool and contain sharp teeth in contrast to Godzilla's lipped and more expressive mouth, and the MUTOs are decidedly the real threat to humanity in the film.
    • Inverted by Mothra, the most benevolent Kaiju in the franchise, who possesses beaklike mandibles in both her larval and imago forms.
    • Also inverted by Ghidorah, who is the most evil and sadistic kaiju in the films, and has fully lipped and very expressive mouths.
    • Godzilla vs. Kong. Whereas Godzilla and Kong both have expressive faces with lipped jaws, the Warbats and Mechagodzilla have lipless jaws that show off unpleasant-looking teeth.
    • Godzilla vs. Kong prequel comic Kingdom Kong when Kong battles the Evil Jaws-featuring Camazotz.
  • In Resident Evil: Apocalypse Nemesis (who has humanoid, yet huge, teeth but no lips) subverts it by being a remote-controlled Tragic Monster and eventually turning to the good side.
  • The Transformers Film Series plays with this, with the Autobots having humanoid looking faces and mouths, while the Decepticons have more beast/insect-like heads with fangs. A good comparison would be Optimus Prime and Megatron.
  • Warm Bodies: As illustrated in the page image, "Boneys" are zombies that have crossed the Despair Event Horizon, let go of the last remnant of their humanity, and torn off their own flesh. They're much more actively malevolent than regular zombies and are too far gone to be turned back into humans by the zombie cure.

  • Dracula in the book had two front teeth stick out on rest on the lips. Characters after been bitten will slowly end up showing more teeth protruding from their mouth until they turn.
  • The Stormlight Archive has a variant in the Ashspren, Nature Spirits who look like humans made of solid smoke. As a gesture of hostility, they disperse the smoke composing their lips and bare all their teeth.

    Live Action TV 
  • Averted with Farscape. The creature designs are highly varied, and there are plenty of individuals on both sides of the good/bad divide with lips and fangs all over the place.
  • Grimm: The Hexenbiest Mage Species look like decayed corpses and one of their defining features are sunken eye sockets and skinless, decayed jawbones.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3.5: The dragons are represented this way. Evil, chromatic dragons have long fangs and sharp teeth that show even with their mouth closed - particularly black dragons, whose skin often deteriorates around their mouths and horns. Good, metallic dragons have closed lips and none of their teeth show.
  • Hordes features the Legion of Everblight. Its dragonspawn warbeasts are best described as unholy offsprings of Xenomorphs and dinosaurs or winged snakes, and they all share the same nasty, nasty lipless maws. Then there's Typhon, basically the setting's Hydra.

    Video Games 
  • The Super Mutants in Fallout 3 don't have any lips and only have their teeth showing.
    • This in contrast to the West Coast Super Mutants created at Mariposa Military Base, most of whom have very prominent ones. While they were antagonists in the first game, most of them are good, or at least not actively trying to kill you, in subsequent games, whereas the Vault 87 batch are all mindless monsters except for two individuals. This may have to do with the way they were created. Both Mariposa and Vault 87 were part of the same Super-Soldier experiment before the war, but The Master further refined the process on in California in the hope of creating a new race to replace humanity, while the DC mutants didn't have anyone around to guide them and just kept mindlessly following their genetically programmed combat instincts. Why this would affect their lips is anyone's guess.
  • Subverted with the Orcs and Trolls of the Horde in World of Warcraft, who have prominent tusks (the males do, at least) but are just as likely to be good or evil as the rest of the races portrayed in the game.
    • This also applies to the Alliance's worgen, whose sharp teeth are always on display.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy: Every character has lips...except. Chaos has only very sharp teeth showing, and then in Duodecim Feral Chaos is worse. Speaking of Duodecim, the villains Garland and Exdeath have reskins that invoke this. It's hard to tell whether they are in fact lipless or if they have lips but are just constantly baring their teeth, but the net effect is the same.
  • In the Mortal Kombat franchise, the Tarkatans, mutants that reside in Outworld, all have massive, sharp teeth, to the point where they don't have lips at all. It's a wonder how they can even speak.
    • The trope is well illustrated with the contrast between Kitana (Edenian, fully humanoid, good) and Mileena (Edenian-Tarkatan hybrid, evil). Only subverted in Mortal Kombat X, where Mileena develops lips over the center of her mouth, but still has her sharp teeth showing through in the form of a Glasgow Grin.
  • The Darkspawn in Dragon Age: Origins all have big toothy jaws.
  • Springtrap has this appearance in Five Nights at Freddy's 3, since the fabric of his face is torn and rotting away.
  • Left 4 Dead 2 has the Jockey, a manic baboon of a man that seems to have gnawed or torn his lips off in his madness.
  • Super Mario Bros.
    • Bowser has a fleshy muzzle that's almost constantly open.
    • Wario, Waluigi and Fawful all constantly bare their teeth, giving off a similar effect.
  • The Sectoids of XCOM 2, unlike their mouth-less predecessors in XCOM: Enemy Unknown, have lipless, sharp-toothed mouths which give them a skull-like rictus grin. Come XCOM: Chimera Squad and the integration of aliens into human society, the "Good Lips" half of the trope has been invoked: a number of Sectoids, particularly Verge and those with public jobs such as newscasters, have undergone additional gene mods to give themselves lips for a more sympathetic face.

    Visual Novels 

    Western Animation 
  • Possibly the reason why Ripjaws got a much-maligned redesign in between Ben 10 and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. The backlash to this new design without his signature jaws was enough that Derrick Wyatt promised to one fan that he would be given a look more faithful to the original series in Ben 10: Omniverse. This is in sharp contrast to the thick-lipped Magister Patelliday, another member of Ripjaws' species with thick lips as a parody of The Incredible Mr. Limpet.
    • One episode of the original series also had Ben encounter a pair of Vulpimancers: other members of Wildmutt's species. While Ben as Wildmutt has prominent thick black lips, the other Vulpimancers lack these entirely and have protruding fangs, implied to be due to their age (being 10 years old, Ben presumably also turns into a child Vulpimancer). However, Ben 10,000's Wildmutt form still possesses the thick lips despite being more mature and now having a tail and tiger stripes like the Null Void Vulpimancers.