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Helmets Are Hardly Heroic

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"WHERE'S MY HELMET!?" is not what he's yelling, though it probably should be.

"This helmet, I suppose,
Was meant to ward off blows,
It's very hot,
And weighs a lot,
As many a guardsman knows,
So off that helmet goes!"
Arac, Princess Ida

In any work where a hero wears armor, whether powered or otherwise, the helmet is rarely worn, even in combat. In Real Life the helmet is the most important piece of personal armor ever invented besides the shield, since the skull and brain are highly vulnerable to all kinds of weapon blows and projectiles. In an ancient shield formation, your large shield would usually protect your torso but leave your head sticking over the top, thus inviting the slings, arrows, swords, and spears of the enemy. In modern ranged combat you have to expose your head every time you peek out of your trench or foxhole, and all kinds of debris and shrapnel from explosions might fall on your head. Clearly, helmets are a good idea. So why does a character who has access to a helmet rarely use it?

In visual media this is usually the creators bowing to Rule of Perception and Shoot the Money. Even an open-faced helmet will at least obscure a character's hair. Hairstyles can be important for identifying a character in a crowd, especially in animated works with Only Six Faces. A fully enclosed or visored helmet can be an even bigger problem because people are good at recognizing faces, and associate faces with having individuality and personhood. A person without a face is dehumanized and treated as expendable by way of the Faceless Goons trope, which is no good for a character whom you want the audience to care about. In film and television, both the director and the actor will want the audience to see their facial expressions as the heart of their performance. It defeats the purpose of hiring a famous and probably good-looking actor or actress if you're going to make them harder to recognize. Also, according to The Law of Diminishing Defensive Effort, less armour implies a character is skilled enough not to need it.


Alternately, the armor the main character wears might not be distinctive enough to make him stand out from other people wearing armor; we wouldn't want to lose track of our hero among the Faceless Goons, after all. Writers and artists often try to alleviate this by giving main characters almost, but not quite the same uniform as the Faceless Goons — or cheat by giving the hero a helmet, but one that shows their face clearly, while everyone else wears a full face helmet. When this is used to distinguish someone from an identical group of mooks, it's also Uniformity Exception. Real life battlefield recognition solutions adopted by armored warriors such as knights and samurai included elaborate helmet crests; heraldic colors on shields, surcoats, or horse trappings; armors decorated with etching, inlay, appliqué ornaments, heat/chemical bluing, paint, lacquer, or textile covering; and all kinds of Bling of War. Often, fiction will not take full advantage of these options. Also, curiously enough, this trope is especially common for superheroes even though almost all of them do have a completely unique costume that would be instantly recognizable even if the wearer's face weren’t visible.


A variation is that when modern characters are depicted in boxing or martial arts training, they will rarely be shown wearing padded headgear that would generally be mandatory.

And in video games where you can customize your character's appearance, wearing a helmet will often obscure it and waste all the effort you put into it.

This may be justified in certain situations. Helmets can be somewhat heavy and restrictive, so a person who relies on keen vision, hearing, or freedom of movement might prioritize those things over the protection a helmet provides. Helmets are also bulky and awkward to carry when not being worn, so a Walking the Earth-type hero is also likely to forego them for the long haul. A character who starts out with a helmet might discard it after it becomes too damaged to use, but this might invite the question of why they don't look for a replacement. In any case, there's still little excuse not to use one in open battle, especially when characters go through the trouble of armoring every part of their body except for the head.

On a related note, in virtually every superhero movie in which the main character wears a mask, it will be pulled off during the climax of the movie. Usually it's torn off or so badly damaged that there's no point in keeping it on; sometimes the hero just decides to take it off.

Contrast Cool Helmet (where the helmet enhances the hero's image) and Fantasy Helmet Enforcement (where the hero is setting a safety-conscious good example). Also contrast Never Bareheaded (in which the heroic character is never shown without a helmet on his head) and Signature Headgear (when the hero's distinctive helmet makes them stand out).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk:
    • For someone who wears 24-Hour Armor, Guts doesn't seem to like helmets. It's possible he either feels it wouldn't help or has trouble seeing out of them with only one eye. Ironically, one of the few times we ever see him wearing a helmet, it ends up saving his life, albeit shattering in the process. Whenever Guts does wear his helmet it usually gets struck off in the midst of battle (albeit saving his life in the process), while during the Hundred Man Fight he boldly throws it away himself midway through as if to show that he's about to get serious. How else would we see his beautiful battle smile? Perhaps terrifyingly averted when Guts obtains the Berserker Armor, which includes a Hellhound-shaped Helmet that only appears when Guts is in an uncontrollable fury... Basically, see Guts' face; you may be OK. See the Helmet; kiss your ass goodbye. However, when he learns to keep it under control with Schierke's help he keeps the helmet on but his face is shown in some scenes by only drawing the outline of the helmet.
    • Furthermore, everyone who was part of the Band of the Hawk stopped wearing helmets altogether after they won the Hundred Year War for Midland, Guts left, Griffith had a breakdown and got arrested, and the rest of the Hawks became fugitives although they all continued to wear the rest of their armor.
  • In Delicious in Dungeon, Laios, Kabru and Shuro (two knights and a samurai, respectively) all wear full armor below the neck but lack helmets.
  • It usually doesn't last long in Saint Seiya before the main heroes start losing their helmets early in the battle for the rest of the arc.
    • Of all the Gold Saints, only two always wear their helmets: Aldebaran, who has a reputation as a jobber, and the local Psycho for Hire Deathmask.
  • Even though it's part of his body, Greed of Fullmetal Alchemist hardly ever uses his Ultimate Shield on his head. This is explicitly because he doesn't like the way it makes his face look.
  • Some of the Barrier Jackets in Lyrical Nanoha have actual armor on them, but even those never have helmets unless they're being used by mooks. Justified by the fact that Barrier Jackets protect the entire body regardless of what's covered, a helmet would just block their peripheral vision.
  • Erza of Fairy Tail has many, many suits of Instant Armor. Though most have some sort of headwear, only one has an actual helmet (fittingly, it's also the one that is purely defensive in nature), and even that one doesn't actually cover her face. It's justified, because she's wearing magic armor. Some suits protect her from magic attacks while others boost her physical abilities and yet others give her different magical abilities to work with. So, the helmet is decorative. As are legplates, armbands, a chestpiece sometimes...
  • Zigzagged in Desert Punk: pretty much everyone wears desert suits with Cool Helmets whenever their traveling or are in combat, main characters included. However, Kanta semi-frequently loses use of his entire suit, generally before doing something incredibly badass (like disabling a tank by himself, with a shotgun). Junko, out of shear vanity, wears her suit's helmet only when absolutely necessary.
  • Justified in a flashback in the second season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex where Saito shows how he first met The Major, where initially her, Batou and Ishikawa are all wearing the white UN Peacekeeper helmets until he starts sniping them, at which point they remove them. It's justified because the stark white of the helmets is actually endangering them by making them easier to see, the former two are full-body cyborgs, and they find out firsthand that the helmets might as well be tissue paper when faced with a high-velocity round when Saito takes out several of their helmeted comrades.
  • Bleach: Discussed at the end of the Soul Society arc. In the middle of the arc, the helmet Captain Komamura always wore is broken in battle by Captain Zaraki. He'd been trying to hide the shame of being an anthropomorphic wolf instead of human. However, once everyone learns the truth, they accept him on the grounds that wearing helmets make a person come across as untrustworthy whereas showing his face makes him seem honest and therefore reliable - good guys don't wear helmets, only people who are up to no good hide their faces.
  • In episode 12 of Anti-Magic Academy: The 35th Test Platoon, for the final battle Takeru loses the face-concealing helmet he normally wears in his Witch Hunter form.
  • Exploited in Heavy Object. Cameras in Object cockpits record the Elites during combat for propaganda videos and since a helmet would make them look less heroic they don't have any. Since the majority of military development is spent on Objects and their Elites this means that air force pilots have the same system and so no helmets or oxygen masks.
  • Ryuuko from Ground Control to Psychoelectric Girl is considered unusual for wearing a helmet while riding her bicycle.
  • Macross:
    • Nekki Basara of Macross 7 never even bothers to wear any pilot suit at all, he just sorties with whatever clothes he's wearing at the time which is usually his live show outfit. Speaking of which, in one episode it does seem to be able to turn into a functional space suit with helmet and everything for extra-vehicular situations, but after it served its plot purpose of allowing Basara to float in space outside his VF while stuff happened, the helmet along with the space suit mode were never seen again.
    • And the protagonist of Macross Delta, Hayate Immelmann, outright refuses to use a helmet, since he feels constrained by both its physical presence and the flight-support AI it enables. His VF-31 had to be customized to take that into account.
  • Goblin Slayer, from the series of the same name, subverts this trope to the point of parody. He wears his helmet (and the rest of his armor) almost all of the time, only taking it off for maintenance or when he sleeps in the safety of home. It reflects his Properly Paranoid attitude towards being attacked by goblins. He's somehow capable of even eating and drinking through the slits of his helmet. Ironically, even though his face is never shown to the audience, he nevertheless has a distinctive appearance because of his helmet and armor. Other characters in the series tend to play this trope straight.

    Comic Books 
  • Lex Luthor's standard Powered Armor stops at the neck to show off his trademark Bald of Evil (His head is protected by a force field, so this is not as stupid as it sounds). Then again, he's not exactly a hero.
  • Star-Lord's trademark helmet is technically just a glorified mask, since it still leaves his hair open for some reason.
  • X-Men:
    • In the well-known story God Loves, Man Kills, Magneto is acting as a good guy at a time it was far from expected of him, though he'd been established as a Well-Intentioned Extremist by this point. His helmet is not worn for most of the story. It's seen in two panels: a distant shot of him attacking the bad guy has him wearing it. The very next panel, a closer shot as he speaks, has the helmet in the process of being knocked away, leaving his face mostly uncovered in that panel.
    • Also, throughout the Genoshan Excalibur, Magneto wears a less-armored black version of his usual outfit. It's helmetless. He also had a helmetless outfit during much of the time when he was leading the X-Men while Xavier was in Shi'ar space. (These days, though, Mags' outfit doesn't change no matter how nice he's playing.)
      • It should be noted that the primary use of Magneto's helmet is to protect his mind from telepathic intrusion from the likes of Charles Xavier and Jean Grey. He has far less need of it when they are his allies.
    • Discussed in All-New Wolverine, when Laura utilises a stolen suit of Iron Man armour:
    Warren: "You know the suit had a helmet, right?"
    Laura: "Yeah. And I couldn't see, hear or smell in it. Also, I want Kimura to be able to see my face when I finish her."
  • Batwoman (Rebirth):
    • A flashback of Kate sparring with her girlfriend Sophie shows that not only are the two fighting without boxing or MMA gloves, they also lack headgear and mouthguards.
    • Colony!Kate's uniform seems to lack a helmet.
  • Played straight throughout the entirety of the World War I serial "Golden Eyes" and Her Hero "Bill". Golden Eyes, an ambulance driver, is never shown with a helmet note . Bill, an actual soldier, is only ever depicted in his helmet once throughout the series' run, and that's when he storms the German trenches to rescue Golden Eyes. Other members of the allied force are intermittently depicted in their helmets, while the villainous German officer who captures Golden Eyes is introduced wearing a prominent picklehaube, and wears a hat for the majority of his other appearances.
  • A weird example in the Star Wars Empire arc covering the Imperial backstory of Biggs Darklighter that somehow averts and plays the trope straight at the same time. Instead of the faceless TIE helmets seen in the movie, Biggs, Hobbie, and other main characters in the arc wear a helmet where we can see their faces while piloting their fighters. These helmets are never seen again in the Star Wars Legends continuity.
    • Strangely, this is the type of helmet that Han's shown wearing in a Solo deleted scene.
  • Defied in Sturmtruppen: while the characters aren't exactly heroes they're still soldiers, and quick to note that not wearing a helmet during a shelling is just plain stupid (though not as much as not taking cover). Notably, during the famous story arc where the troopers had discovered the regulations didn't state they had to wear the uniform the only item of clothing they consistently wore was the helmet, both in the barracks and when attacking the enemy.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: The Amazons have helmets, but even when Diana, Mala or other named Amazons are donning more armor and protective gear they never grab a helmet. The exception to this is Nubia, who is a named recurring Amazon who usually wears a helmet.

  • Totally averted in A Ballad of the Dragon and She-Wolf, almost every named character wears a helmet into battle. This is a far cry from the source material, which played the trope painfully straight.
  • Subverted in Juxtapose. Izuku wanted a hood or a cowl to go with his costume. But Mei ends up designing him a helmet to protect him from the high-velocity impacts his Quirk puts him through. At the very least, it retains the All Might-esque v-shaped motif and can neatly fold up into a pair of headphones and a mic for when he wants to speak with others face-to-face.
  • Let the Galaxy Burn
    • A number of Southern nobles and knights refuse to wear helmets in ground combat on this basis. It gets them killed, with Janos Slynt's POV sections making this especially blatant.
    • Loras Tyrell struts into Storm's End in impeccably shiny (and downright gaudy) Terminator armor, with no helmet. In fact he didn't even bring it. Stannis notes that as such, the protection the armor provides is minimal.
    • Lampshaded in Part B of Chapter 1 of the Ten Warlords arc; Gerion's men manage to take a White Cloak down in one shot because he wasn't wearing his helmet. Shiera's immediate reaction is "He should have worn his helmet"
    • Taken to its maximum during the Epilogue of the Ten Warlords arc: Aegon takes off his helmet in the middle of the battle — and an enemy promptly shoots him in the neck, gravely injuring him.
  • Discussed in the The Rising of the Shield Hero fanfic The Hero Melromarc Needs and Deserves, where one of Deathmask's recommendations to the other Heroes is that "wearing no helmet when you can do so isn't heroic, it's stupid". At least Ren listened, as when he's seen again he's indeed wearing a helmet.
  • Tanya of Kazuma V Tanya makes a point to get a wooden helmet, as the local magic affects metal and she knows she was taught to go for the head. The more heroic Kazuma doesn't wear a helmet, but neither do the other Mistborn who are more evil than Tanya.
  • In Clight: Baldur's Gate, which is one of the numerous retellings of the original story from Baldur's Gate with a custom main character, Clight starts out with a helmet he bought from Candlekeep. He dutifully wears it for combat, even though it's awkwardly heavy, restricts his vision, and looks stupid on him. (It's exactly the kind of horned helmet available at the beginning of the game.) After it gets dangerously in his way a couple of times, he finally discards it and never wears one again, relying instead on his speed and reflexes (and the author being nice about not letting him get hit on the head). It's mentioned he envies Khalid's much lighter helmet, which is seen on his character portrait in the game.

    Film — Animation 
  • While most of the cast of How to Train Your Dragon wear horned helmets, they never cover any of the face or anything below the ears, meaning they're effectively more like hats.
  • All of the racers in Wreck-It Ralph wear helmets, except for Vanellope. (Who wears goggles — part of the time.)

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Played with in 300, in that most if not all of the Spartans go to battle at Thermopylae with their helmets on (and not much else, even though they're ostensibly a heavy infantry unit), and most of the attacking Persians have helmets (or at least some sort of head and/or face covering) as well. The helmets are usually only taken off between battles, if they get knocked off/too damaged to be functional, or in special circumstances such as the Captain going on a mad slaughter or Leonidas removing his helmet to get a clear view of Xerxes when he hurls his spear at the outset of the final "battle".
  • An egregious example is the end of Batman Returns where the Dark Knight actually tears the rigid plastic neck of his batsuit in order to remove the headpiece which was not designed to be removed without taking off the upper part of the suit. The suit, by the way, was already established to be bulletproof body armor. This leads to the question of how he gets the headpiece on in the first place. In general, Batman never sports his Irisless Eye Mask Of Mystery in any of his movies (or the live-action series) because it makes it too difficult for the actors to emote.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: In Prince Caspian, when Peter and King Miraz are dueling, both start out wearing their helmets, and Peter's even saves him from a few blows. After their brief intermission, Peter takes his off to breathe more easily and keeps it off when they restart; the villain's helmet stays on a few minutes more before he decides to remove it, as well.
  • In Clash of the Titans (1981), Perseus is given a magic helmet with the power to make him invisible. He uses it a few times early in the movie, then loses it during a fight about a quarter of the way through and never bothers using any sort of headgear for the rest of the film.
  • Played straight in the Judge Dredd film adaptation. And yet criminals recognize him primary by his chin.
  • Played with in the 2012 Dredd movie. As in the comics, Dredd himself is never seen without his helmet (save for the opening scene, which shows him dressing for work. Since he's only depicted from behind and in shadow, his face is still not visible). The more idealistic (and female) rookie he's mentoring, however, eschews a helmet entirely. When he accuses her of forgetting it, she explains that it would interfere with her psychic abilities, so it's a justified example in her case.
  • In Edge of Tomorrow, Major William Cage wears a helmet into battle initially but later stops doing so (saying that a helmet is a distraction). This is justified: Not wearing a helmet increases the likelihood that an injury will be fatal; Cage's ability to reset time upon death means that dying is actually preferable to serious injury. However, he does lose his visor on the first drop scene, allowing the camera to focus on his facial reactions. It stays on the following times, as he gets better at landing.
  • Played straight in Eragon, in which none of the main heroes bother with headgear.
  • In First Knight, when Lancelot is made a Knight of the Round Table, he is given a standard suit of armor. During his first battle under King Arthur's service, he quickly discards the helmet when he finds that he can't see a thing in it.
  • In G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, the hero gets a lot of flak during training for removing his head gear, but does the same thing later when wearing Powered Armor. In the second instance, at least, it might be justified by it having been damaged, as you can see large gash through the viewscreen just before he takes it off. Also in a flashback. Duke is seen to be helmet-less whilst all his troops have them during a particularly intense fire-fight.
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: None of the main characters wear helmets. The men of Laketown don't even seem to wear armor, so they might not have any helmets in the first place. Thorin and company put on helmets and heavy armor when prepping for a siege, but stick to light armor instead when they go out to fight to not be worn out by the weight, and may have abandoned the helmets for the same reason. Dain starts with a helmet, but loses it. Given that even without a helmet he can still headbutt Orcs who do have helmets, he arguably doesn't need one.
  • A Knight's Tale takes this up to eleven: Will is injured just before the final lance, which will determine who wins the world championships. Not only does he opt not to wear his helmet, he takes off all his armour, saying he "can't breathe with it on." You won't breathe if you take it off either, Will, because you will be dead. In the commentary, the director talks about the convenience of cutting from the actor slamming down their visor to the stunt man in full armor and helmet.
  • The Last Samurai: Most of the main samurai characters forgo helmets for the final battle. Ujio wears one during the cavalry charge, but loses it almost immediately.
  • Frequently seen in The Lord of the Rings movies, from Elrond in the opening battle, to Aragorn and Legolas at Helm's Deep and Pelennor Fields. Gimli, on the other hand, hardly ever takes his helmet off at all, and many other important good guys do wear helmets into battle.
  • In Man of Steel, when Jor-El armors up to defend his home from Zod and his followers, he stops short of donning a helmet. The ensuing duel with Zod has them both firmly in the grip of this trope, armored from throat to toes in heavy, very functional armor... but with heads completely exposed (which leads to each of them punching the other in the face — a lot).
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Thor, the eponymous character keeps his incredibly cool helmet on for maybe three seconds at a ceremony. Apparently this was due to tests that they did where they determined that the helmet was too heavy for Hemsworth to wear on a consistent basis. His devious brother Loki wears his helmet far more frequently, though he goes without it for large stretches of The Avengers. He doesn't wear it at all in Thor: The Dark World. According to Tom Hiddleston, it weighed about seven pounds, and he channeled the frustration into his performance.
    • Inverted in Iron Man 2. In the final battle, the heroes wear helmets but Vanko takes his off. Tony tries to shoot him. It automatically pops back on. Then he takes it off again. However, having the helmet down when he thinks he's got Tony and Rhodey on the ropes leaves him vulnerable to Stark and Rhodes' finishing move, which he never saw before. The Iron Man series generally averts this with Tony keeping his faceplate down in most situations, but makes up for it by inter-cutting shots of Tony's face from inside the helmet in the form of a Heads-Up Display, which still allows him to emote and react to what's happening. Ditto for Rhodey. In later films, the helmet becomes fully collapsible, able to show Robert Downey Jr.'s whole head instead of just his face, though he keeps it up in combat.
    • Zig-Zagged in Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where Steve Rogers often goes back and forth between being helmeted and helmetless for decent periods of time.
    • It's been noted that on the theatrical posters for The First Avenger, The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, none of the characters wear their masks or helmets. Even Iron Man, who wears a suit of Powered Armor, goes helmetless so that the audience can see Robert Downey Jr.'s mug. [1][2][3]
    • In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Steve wears his helmet for most fight scenes, but ditches it for the final battle, and the reason why got cut from the actual release - on arriving in Sokovia, the first thing he sees is graffiti of his old look with "fascist" written on it.
    • In Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther's helmet has to be manually removed whenever he wants to show his face. It's hard to escape the conclusion that a major reason for updating him to a suit of Nanotech Instant Armor in Black Panther is so that he can simply make the helmet vanish whenever the actor needs to emote, even in the many, many situations in which it would be safer to leave it on. The suits Iron Man makes for himself and Spider-Man in Infinity War have the same advantage.
    • Although he's not a hero (unless you see him as the main character of the movie), Infinity War was widely mocked online for the fact that Thanos never wears his iconic golden helmet - or any armor at all, for that matter - when actually fighting, sticking with a sleeveless shirt and going for a bareheaded look that some fans described as "high school gym coach" or "your fat uncle on casual Friday at work".
    • Done to an especially silly degree in Endgame. When the version of Thanos from an Alternate Timeline arrives on the field of the Final Battle, knowing that all the Avengers are there (and have already killed him once before), the first thing he does is remove his helmet while waiting for them. He puts it back on when the actual fighting starts, only to tear it off in a rage after Cap damages it. Then when all the resurrected heroes who died in Infinity War, none of whom are anywhere near as tough or durable as Thanos, arrive on that same battlefield, they also immediately remove their helmets, and are rarely seen wearing them in the ensuing battle outside of landscape shots. Anytime they're in a close-up shot, even one that only lasts for a few seconds, off comes the helmet.
  • Played with in the opening battle of Saving Private Ryan. One soldier has an enemy bullet glance off his helmet, he takes it off to marvel at his luck, and catches a sniper round between the eyes.
  • Near the start of The Siege of Jadotville, shortly after arriving at Jadotville, Commandant Quinlan and his Company Sergeant-Major are inspecting the equipment provided by the United Nations. They discover the iconic sky-blue helmets are flimsy plastic and provide about as much protection as a cloth beret, so they choose not issue them (actual, real helmets, like the steel M1, came years later as armies started switching to composites such as kevlar).
  • Played straight in Snow White and the Huntsman. Snow White rides into battle in full armour but no helmet, in a battle where they are Storming the Castle and getting a lot of things dropped, poured and thrown on them. That might qualify as Fridge Brilliance since Snow White is the leader and symbol of the rebellion, so she has to be recognizable to give hope to her fellow rebels and the oppressed population.
  • Star Wars: Downplayed in general, since main characters do at times wear helmets, but only villains or heroes disguised as bad guys wear helmets that conceal the face. In the case of Darth Vader and Kylo Ren, the face-concealing helmet is a fearsome part of their image and was adopted after a Face–Heel Turn. The Clone troopers in the prequel trilogy are an outlier in terms of wearing face-covering helmets despite being both competent at fighting and initially on the "good" side; after Order 66 you never see a clone trooper take off their helmet, and their successors the Storm Troopers are for the most part disposable Faceless Goons.
  • Downplayed in Top Gun: all pilots do wear helmets, but none of the named characters ever have their sun-visors down over their eyes while flying (not even "by the book" pilots such as Jester or Viper). Conversely, the helmets of all the unnamed MiG pilots cover the entire head.
  • Achilles removes his helmet just before fighting Hector in Troy, remarking that this time, Hector is sure of who he's fighting. Previously, Hector killed Achilles' cousin, who was wearing his armor and posing as him. Hector also removes his helmet to fight fair.
  • In Underworld: Blood Wars, a fully-armored army of Nordic Vampires are fighting Lycans, except for their leader Lena who is not wearing a helmet. Justified since it was used to demonstrate Lena has become a Daywalking Vampire after drinking Selene's blood, as the vampires were fighting during daytime and really needed protection.
  • In Willow, Madmartigan dons a full suit of armor complete with helmet in preparation for the battle of Tir Asleen, only to lose the helmet about a minute into the fighting, and never bothers to retrieve or replace it.
  • The X-Men movies are rather infamous for making sure Hugh Jackman never wears Wolverine's iconic mask/helmet from the comics. Interestingly, the mask was supposed to finally debut at the very end of The Wolverine, but this idea was scrapped. On the other hand, Magneto does wear his trademark helmet in each of the movies he appears in, but it tends to fulfill its primary purpose of keeping Charles (and Cerebro) out of his head.
    Magneto: (to Pyro) This "dorky-looking helmet" is the only thing that's going to protect me from the real "bad guys"!

  • Justified in the Discworld novel Monstrous Regiment. The Squad stop at a garrison town to equip themselves, but what equipment they find is so thoroughly battered that the helmets aren't even capable of keeping the rain off.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Harry, Michael and Kincaid all usually wear full-body armor (an enchanted duster, a Kevlar-padded full plate and a cross between ballistic vest and biker gear respectively), but never any helmets. Though, Harry can (and did) pull his duster over his head in a pinch and Kincaid prefers to snipe nasties from afar. Not to mention that said nasties are usually capable of ripping one's head off if given the chance, helmet or not.
    • In Changes, Harry is given a magical suit of armor by his fairy godmother but refuses to wear the helmet, mostly just because he thinks it looks silly, and points out that it does come with a forcefield so his head's still protected. He regrets this later because the material of the suit does provides protection against magic, and when under mental attack he's reduced to shoving his arms in front of his head to get more of it between his enemy and himself.
  • Used in Fate/Zero the same as Fate/Stay Night. The exception is Black Knight who wears a full black suit of mail with helmet. The helmet keeps not only his head but also his identity safe for almost the entire war, and it is only revealed in the moment of his death.
  • Journey to Chaos: Out of the main cast of semi-heroic mercenaries, Tiza is the only one consistently wearing a helmet. Eric joins her in wearing headgear starting in Mana Mutation Menace, but his is actually transforming his head from flesh to metal. You could say his head becomes his helmet. During the Mana Mutation Summit, Kasile deliberately instructs her personal guard not to wear helmets so everyone can see their faces and thus their individuality and emotions, which is supposed to highlight the contrast between her and Lunas with his Faceless Goons.
  • Kings of the Wyld: Clay really hates helmets, claiming that all they do is muffle your hearing, block your peripheral vision, and they don't even do a good job of protecting against blows to the head. With only one notable exception, no one else in the book wears one, either.
  • Hilariously deconstructed in A Practical Guide To Evil. Before the Battle of Three Hills the Exiled Prince rides in front of the Legion's formation to deliver his Kirk Summation, without wearing a helmet to show off his princely good looks. Villain Protagonist Catherine takes the opportunity to have him shot with a crossbow and the magical arrow-deflecting properties of his armor deflect the bolt upwards into his unprotected neck, turning a potentially survivable wound (for a hero) into a One-Hit Kill.
  • At the start of the Secret World Chronicle series, hardly any of the Echo superheroes wear helmets. After the opening battle of the Thulian invasion, where many of them die from head wounds, all the survivors whose powers don't include being bulletproof start using helmets.
  • Totally averted in both The Silmarillion and in The Lord of the Rings. Both Elves and Men are depicted to have helmets.
    • Subverted by Eowyn, who removes her helmet just before delivering the final fatal blow to Witch King - to demonstrate [[Exact Words|she is no man]].
  • Variation: Justified in Snow Crash: Y.T. does without a helmet because it plays havoc with her hearing and peripheral vision, and anyway she has enough other safety gear that the presence or absence of a helmet would be largely academic.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Tyrion removes his helmet during the Battle of Blackwater to stop himself from drowning, and later takes an axe to the head that nearly kills him. After he's mostly recovered his father reprimands him for doing it, saying that his brother would never have been foolish enough to take off his helmet during battle.
    • Earlier in that same battle Tyrion reprimands the king for raising his visor, for fear he'll get an arrow in his eye. The king is not expected to fight (and in fact is too cowardly to do so) but if he is killed morale will be destroyed (not to mention the Queen Regent will be really pissed off at Tyrion).
    • Ser Barristan chooses not to wear his helmet on one occasion, because he's expecting to be in tight quarters with many side passages, and considers retaining peripheral vision more important than the protection. When a fight happens he and his opponent are both fully aware of the vulnerability, but Barristan is too skilled to let him take advantage of it.
  • In the Star Trek novel Gulliver's Fugitives, a documentary/propaganda maker tells his "star" to take his helmet off before getting in a fist fight with one of the resistance members. Yes, the bad guys manage to stage events like that in real combat missions.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Lampshaded in at least one Ciaphas Cain novel, where Cain comments on the stupidity of going in to battle while wearing powered armour but no helmets. His own uniform includes a peaked cap, which precludes him from using a helmet. He frequently regrets that this is the case. A later novel comments on the Adepta Sororitas' habit of omitting their helmets, which probably would have saved a few of them against the 'nids.
    • Justified in the Space Wolf novels. The Wolves rely heavily on the enhanced senses unique to their chapter's genetic makeup, and when they do need to wear helmets they grumble that it feels like the world is muffled. Plus, their skeletons are just as hard as other Astartes so a headshot isn't as great a worry.
    • Exploited in Black Legion: during the battle of Prospero, Khayon kills several Space Wolves easily by the way of head shots, blessing them for choosing to go into battle without helmets. He, on the other hand, always has his at hand, unless he's aboard Tlaloc.
  • A Little Hatred: The warrior prince Stour Nightfall goes into battle without a helmet, which is implied to be an expression of his extreme arrogance. When dueling him, Leo dan Brock also forgoes his helmet to match him.

    Live-Action TV 

In General:

  • Virtually every Police Procedural will include scenes with fully armoured and helmeted SWAT officers accompanied by the main characters wearing bulletproof vests as their only protection.

By Series:

  • 24: Every time Jack Bauer storms a room alongside fully equipped and helmeted SWAT members, he goes in practically naked (sometimes he will get a bullet-proof vest). Same goes for any other credited co-star going in with him.
  • Mostly averted in Band of Brothers: anyone vaguely close to the front line keeps their helmet on at all times. However, the men of Easy Company never seem to actually fasten the straps of their helmets, so they keep falling off whenever the soldiers move quickly. A British tank commander during Operation Market Garden only wears a beret, but that's accurate to reality as discussed lower down.
  • In their Paintball Episodes, Community plays this straight. It is generally somewhat justified by the fact that all of the paintball games are unplanned, but it is still rather foolish that the characters even lack eye protection most of the time. In "For a Few Paintballs More", it is played completely straight when the Community College stormtroopers appear wearing full face masks and armor in contrast to the complete lack of protection used by the Greendale Resistance. It also allows Pierce a victory via Dressing as the Enemy.
  • In Continuum, Kiera Cameron, police officer from the future, lacks a helmet on her super-advanced uniform. Justified in that 1: She was performing ceremonial guard duty when she was thrown back in time and wasn't expected to need a helmet (flashbacks to riot duty show her with one), and 2: Her suit can project a full-body force field in an emergency, so it's not quite as much of a problem as it would normally be.
  • In Dark Angel, Max doesn't wear a helmet when she rides her motorcycle. The network tried to pressure the production staff into having her wear one, but they pointed out that Max was a Nigh-Invulnerable Supersoldier.
  • In The Devil's Whore at the battle of Edgehill, named characters ride into battle bareheaded. Musket-fodder are usually wearing helmets, which makes sense really because it means the extras can be re-used. Doesn't stop the battle looking a bit under attended mind... the real Edghill featured 27,000 combatants, while this representation features about 27.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Arc of Infinity", the commander of the Gallifreyan Chancellery Guard, Maxil, is almost always shown carrying his large and ridiculously plumed helmet under his right arm instead of wearing it (seen here). In interviews the actor, Colin Baker, revealed that this was not so much directly because of this trope as because when he was wearing the helmet the plumage was too tall for the doorways and he would have to awkwardly duck under the doorheaders on every entrance, so he carried the helmet instead. During taping he decided that the helmet was a chicken named Esmerelda.
    • "The Sontaran Stratagem"/"The Poison Sky": This is handwaved as being due to Sontaran honour — it's a sign of bravery for this Proud Warrior Race to face their enemy unprotected. After seeing his commander has taken off his helmet so he can look the Doctor in the eye, his Number Two requests permission to do likewise. However his mooks keep their helmets on; as they're all supposed to be identical clones, this saves on special effects.
    • Rory Williams spends some time as a Roman centurion and dresses in the costume a few times afterwards. While he is shown to own a helmet, he never wears it after his first appearance as the centurion.
  • Firefly:
    • In the opening of the first episode, the Battle of Serenity Valley is raging. Several Browncoat soldiers are seen wearing helmets, but Mal and Zoey don't — and they're the only ones who will appear again after this scene.
    • During a flashback to the war in "The Message", the first thing Tracey does is remove his helmet in a quiet moment. Mal and Zoe, of course, aren't wearing any. Zoe seems to be more of a stealth unit or scout, and Mal is just kind of an idiot.
  • Flashpoint, a Canadian police drama, does this way too much. Ironically, the characters started wearing their helmets properly, then stopped using the chin straps, and by now just use uniform caps. The unnamed officers still wear full gear, though.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Come the battle of the Blackwater, named characters like Stannis, the Hound, Lancel, and Joffrey go unhelmeted. Not entirely a use of this trope, and in Stannis and Joffrey's case this can be justified as them wanting their troops to see them to boost morale. (And Joffrey certainly has no intention of being anywhere near the actual battle.)
      • George R.R. Martin's commentary on the episode (see the quotes page) quickly becomes hilarious when the battle starts, as he hates this trope and refuses to let it go, even pointing out that Tyrion being the one main character to wear a helmet justifies his status as the smartest person on the show. He only removes it when he thinks they've won, which turns out to be a mistake when he is wounded in the face during a counterattack. George has noted at other times that it does get his goat, but on the other hand it's TV, and you have to see the actors.
    • The Hound can also justify it as psychological warfare - half his face being burnt and him towering over everyone else. It does rather defeat the purpose of his impractically elaborate snarling dog helm, though.
    • Brienne of Tarth wears a helmet for her Samus Is a Girl introduction. Then never wears it again.
    • A double subversion: during the fight between Gregor Clegane and Oberyn Martell, the former starts off with a helmet, but it's knocked off his head early on. His opponent never takes advantage of his exposed head after that (largely because he's trying not to kill him too quickly).
      • Oberyn, on the other hand, doesn't even wear a helmet in the first place, and scoffs at the suggestion to put one on due to his fighting style. This eventually turns out to be crucial in a fatal way, because the Mountain kills him by crushing his skull.
    • Styr, the psychotic cannibal Wildling, doesn't wear a helmet or any head protection during the Battle of Castle Black. He overpowers Jon during their fight and starts strangling him... and then Jon gets his hands on a blacksmith hammer. Nighty night, Styr.
    • Janos Slynt wears the helmet of a Gold Cloak to remind the audience of his position, but his lacks the chainmail face-covering and is generally carried under his arm if he has any important dialogue. Once he's established as a lord, he ditches it completely.
  • In The Last Ship the main characters rarely ever wear helmets when they go ashore from their ship to fight bad guys.
  • Most of the main characters of The Mandalorian play this straight. But it's distinctly averted with Mando himself, who follows a strict code prohibiting him from ever being seen without being fully suited up. One character asks what happens if he takes his helmet off; he says that he could never put it on again.
  • The Power Rangers wear full costume for 90% of their fights, but if a ranger enters a battle without their helmet for whatever reason, you can bet it's going to be the most epic fight of the season.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • In the early episodes, Daniel and Carter wore helmets while O'Neill wore a baseball cap. Lampshaded in the episode "Moebius" in which the team has an alternate first mission:
      Daniel: How come we have to wear these and you don't?
    • After SG-1 stop wearing helmets, however, other SG teams continue the practice, and SG-1 themselves do continue to wear headgear (usually hats, or in Daniel's case, a bandana) that match whatever camouflage BDUs they are wearing.
    • Also lampshaded at the end of "Redemption, Part 2", when newly minted SG-1 member Jonas Quinn shows up with a helmet and Carter tells him to lose it. O'Neill gestures no, which is probably because he gave it to Jonas to make him look silly in the first place. That he did the same to Daniel, the team member Jonas is replacing is a sign he is accepting Jonas as a team member. Awww...
    • Understandable in that the kind of enemies SG-1 faces tend to use weapons that a helmet would provide no protection whatsoever against. Likewise they don't bother with body armor since the likes of Jaffa staff weapons would burn right through it. At least until they replace the standard bulletproof inserts with heat-resistant ones that allow one to survive a staff blast (which is plasma).
  • The TOS spacesuits in Star Trek. The "almost plastic bag death spacesuits". Made entirely to not muss up the hair and show the actor's entire face, the suit doesn't seem to be too ergonomical or protective in the head regions.
  • The White Queen: During the Battle of Barnet, none of the major characters sport helmets.

    Music Videos 
  • KT Tunstall in the video for "Invisible Empire", dressed up in medaeval warrior queen garb. Funny thing is she's wearing a helmet at the beginning but takes it off before any fights happen (against a faceless helmeted opponent).


Lampshaded in one hilarious sidestory from Embers In The Dusk, where Rotbart promises that anyone caught without a helmet on duty will be assigned to venom milking.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: Space Marines never wear helmets in promotional art, while the rest of their body is armored like a tank. Even in battle scenes, the helmets are off far too often. Also, most of the models of officers and HQ units in Warhammer 40000 lack helmets by default, and the few who do have helmets are usually painted in a different colour or has a different design from those of regular troops. It's justified because it makes the models easier to spot by the players, but for the same reason it would be a rather bad idea in an actual battlefield. The lack of helmets is exploited in one piece of flavour text, where Colonel Straken kills a Chaos Lord by laying in ambush and attacking him from behind when he removes his helmet.
    • One likely reason the helmets come off so easily is so GW's modelers can show off all the exquisitely-detailed faces they have to paint on a regular basis.
    • Also, Space Marines are genetically-engineered and conditioned/made to have very tough skeletons, so going without a helmet is not quite as stupid for a Marine as it is for a human. It is still pretty stupid, though.
    • Occasionally arises in the new background, such as the Vorlinghast's Bane story, where the Space Marines sent to cleanse the planet were infected by the warp plague affecting the planet's populace — but only the ones who did not have helmets. The ones who wore full armour were not affected, as they had a completely sealed environment.
    • Another of the justifications, for the Space Wolves, is that much of their method of fighting as well as communication between each other is derived from their amazing senses of smell and hearing (Even compared to other marines), and producing helmets with auto-senses precise enough to avoid losing information is incredibly challengingnote . Also justified among the Space Wolves because they are Space Vikings, with all that implies - it's not enough to just say you killed an alien beast the size of a tank in single combat, somebody has to see you do it.
    • As far as the actual tabletop models go, almost every race has a lot of basic troops with helmets, where squad leaders and commanders and tank crew almost never wear them. That said, they will usually give you enough helmets to give the sergeant/commander a helmet as well, though thanks to WYSIWYG rules you normally have to paint the sergeant's helmet a different color or otherwise make him more ornamental.
    • Exploited by a White Dwarf article about inclement battlefield conditions, with an acid cloud that affected any model with exposed skin, specifically calling out all those un-helmented commanders and sergeants.
      • Also handwaved in one novel, where it is stated that one of the first things that breaks down irreparably on a suit of Powered Armor is the air scrubber, so anyone wearing a helmet will be caught in the smell of a couple of thousand years worth of stale farts. and since officer and hero armour often is some kind of ancient relic...
      • Justified also because the Commander almost always has a melee weapon such as a Chainsword which leave enough of a mess on your armor so as to make wearing a helmet difficult because of the gore obstructing your already limited vision.
      • Although getting that gore in your eyes probably isn't much better...
    • Made into a rule in Deathwatch: When going without a helmet, you lose the armour points for the head zone and the environmental seal, but gain a bonus to fellowship rolls, gain a little more renown, and the squad leader can better resist the loss of cohesion points.
    • Exaggerated by the Tau, who to a man wear full-body suits of armour if not Power Armour or Mini-Mecha... except the spiritual leaders, the Ethereals, who wear ordinary robes and no helmet.
    • Exploited in Prospero Burns. The main character gets many headshots since the Space Wolves are rather... dim on helmet policies. Hell, instead of wearing good old fashioned ceramite helmets, they wore leather masks that are shaped like a wolf head. See, up until this point Space Marines, and Space Wolves in particular, were deployed as intimidation-based shock troops rather than special-operations precision eliminators, and the Space Wolves were expecting an enemy Space Marine planet to be vulnerable to the same tactics.
  • Likewise, in the other Warhammer, neither the Empire Knights of White Wolf nor Bretonnian Knights Errant wear helmets.
  • Exalts in Exalted rarely wear helmets along with their glowing Magitek Powered Armor. Storytellers are explicitly discouraged from allowing called shots to the head (or any other unarmored location), as making the PCs do practical things like put on helmets and not wear Chainmail Bikinis is antithetical to the intended atmosphere of the game. Exact wording in the rulebook puts fancy helmet on the same level of importance as a good hairdo — purely cosmetic.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, helmets are usually purely for flavor. Whether or not you wear one makes no difference to Armor Class, barring enchantments. One exception exists in the Complete Fighter's Handbook for AD&D's 2nd edition, which discusses a more detailed treatment of helmets as an optional which they mostly provide penalties to sight and hearing in exchange for some minor side benefits and still don't affect overall armor class. An attacker could in theory, using another optional rule, make an attack specifically against an unarmored head's "natural" armor class rather than that of the actual body armor they're wearing, but said rule then itself penalizes head shots sufficiently that it'd take a pretty extreme contrast to actually make that worthwhile.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Deconstructed: as a child, Seelah stole a paladin's helmet, which resulted in said paladin getting killed in battle. Seelah became a paladin herself to atone for this, and never goes without her helmet for perfectly understandable reasons.
    • Also played with in the case of Acemi, the paladin whom Seelah stole the helmet from. Acemi knew that Seelah had stolen her helmet, but chose to let her keep it because she figured that Seelah, an orphaned Street Urchin at the time, would benefit more from selling it than Acemi would from taking it back.
  • Iron Kingdoms:
    • Inverted by the Protectorate of Menoth. EVERYONE wears something to cover their head and at least part of their face.
    • Played straight by most Cygnaran, Iosan, and Khadoran warcasters.
    • Inverted by infantry unit leaders, almost all of whom wear the same helmet as the rest of the unit.
  • Somewhat inverted by BattleTech's MechWarriors — their (neuro)helmets are obligatory in the cockpit because they're a key part of the human/machine interface, but aside from those and their cooling vests they tend to traditionally wear as little else as they can get away with while still giving a nod to modesty because the same cockpit can get sauna-level hot in a hurry in combat. If you AREN'T wearing a helmet, you're probably using Enhanced Imaging or Direct Neural Interface implants, in which case, you're probably too insane at this point to care about appearances.
  • One advantage of the fish-bowl helmet in Rocket Age is that you are visually un-helmeted, while many of the enemies, such as the Nazis, wear regular helmets and gas masks.

  • The "we need to recognize the characters" reason is inverted in BIONICLE: Thanks to the wonders of standardized toy parts, most if not all characters in any given story arc will have the exact same face. So a character's unique headgear more or less is his face, and serves as a major way to tell people apart. (In the occasional movie where characters need to actively emote, there are various workarounds, like removing a mouthplate or using an Expressive Mask). It's also worth noting that there's an in-universe practical reason to keep faces covered, too: some races have "losing your mask" as a Weaksauce Weakness.)
  • Played straight through most of the original 1982-1994 G.I. Joe toyline with poster boy Duke, whose action figures generally included a helmet amongst other items of kit but who was almost never depicted actually wearing it.

    Video Games 
  • Fallout Series
  • In World of Warcraft, a helmet is an integral and necessary part of any player's kit. Nonetheless, it's completely optional whether or not your helmet is visible on your character. However, it remains equipped either way. Of course, most of the important NPCs aren't wearing helmets either, although there are still some notable NPCs who always wear them (Maiev and Darion Mograine) or for an important battle (Tirion Fordring, Varok Saurfang and Muradin Bronzebeard in Icecrown Citadel).
  • In Guild Wars, helmet visibility is optional. Likewise, one of the starting options for warriors in Guild Wars 2 is "no helmet at all." A symbol of the warrior's lack of fear of death.
  • In Warhammer Online, helmet visibility is optional.
  • Generally, a lot of MMORPGs have helmet visibility options, partially due to this trope and partially to make the choice of the avatar's hair matter.
  • Half-Life: Gordon Freeman is never depicted with his helmet on in official art, despite his HEV suit coming with one and every other HEV wearer wearing one. Arguments have been made over why nobody shoots him in the head and why he can breathe on Xen, the consensus being that he does have a helmet. He just doesn't wear it all the time.
  • Gears of War:
    • In Gears of War, the protagonists don't wear helmets, and doing so seems to doom you to an untimely death. The helmet design makes it difficult to spot snipers with only two small spots for your eyes to look out of.
    • Gears of War 2 has a couple instances where the protagonists and Ben Carmine (who wears a helmet at all times) point out situations where wearing the helmet would have been incredibly useful.
    • Played with and ultimately subverted in Gears of War 3 with Clayton Carmine, who is shot in the head by a friendly sniper mistaking him for a hostile... but the poor angle of the impact causes the round to glance off his helmet, leaving him stunned but unhurt. If he had not been wearing the helmet, it would have killed him. Clayton's tattoo he got in memorial of his fallen brothers shows their helmets. For the Carmine family, their helmets are their real faces. Each of them even wears a unique helmet design.
    • Referenced in the first panel of this VG Cats comic.
  • In Mass Effect, all characters except Tali have a helmet on/off option with no disadvantage for not wearing a helmet. Only when the atmosphere isn't breathable do all characters wear their helmets. This might be justified by the fact that the character rely more on shields than physical armor to protect them from high-tech weaponry. In Mass Effect 2, however, wearing a helmet does give you stat advantages... you alone, and the bonus for wearing most helmets isn't really all that impressive, with both of your starting helmets providing a whopping 5% more health. Your allies don't even get the option anymore. In the third installment, you have the option of helmet visibility for cutcenes for Shepard and squadmates separately. The Mars level is still kind of weird, as we see Shepard's team taking their helmets on and off whenever is convenient. It's unclear where exactly they go, or why - when set to "off in conversations" - everyone's helmets will disintegrate the moment you stop to chat, then rematerialise as soon as the conversation ends.
    • It's also zigzagged throughout Mass Effect 3's Multiplayer. All human characters wear helmets, some turians and krogans do and some don't, none of the asari or drell wear helmets, all quarians wear helmets and the geth are completely helmetless. Because they're robots.
    • Many players deliberately invoke this trope, as wearing the helmet obscures the character's face during the cutscenes when they wear them (hence the option to remove them in ME3 in case the player wants the stat boosts a helmet provides). Conversely, some helmets in the second and third games make the character look disturbing, as they cover up the upper part of the face and have no eye pieces (there are displays on the inside of the helmet so Shepard can see).
  • In Dragon Age: Origins if you equip a helmet on any character, it shows whether you like it or not, but is magically removed during all dialogue scenes. The sequel goes further and restricts your party members to their unique ungradable armor sets (ME2-style), none of which features anything remotely face-concealing. Hawke may still wear a helmet but it is magically removed during dialogue, like in the first game. In Dragon Age II you can check the "Hide Helmet" box in the interface settings, found in the options. Why, of course they would be removed during dialogs! It's rude to talk to somebody with your helmet on.
  • In Luminous Arc games, as with a lot of SRPGs, the player spends a considerable amount of money on helmets, hoods, hats and other headgear which NEVER makes a difference to the character designs in-game.
  • Armored knights/generals in Fire Emblem games generally wear helmets that obscure their faces while in combat, especially in the GBA games, where characters of a class shared the same battle sprites — but will be helmetless in dialogue. In, say, Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, your generals won't bother. Admittedly, in Gatrie's case, his armor hides the lower half of his face anyway.
    • None of Radiant Dawn's Marshalls (third-tier armored knights) wear helmets. While Gatrie and Brom never use headgear in RD, Tauroneo and new addition Meg do start out helmeted. That's right — they promote out of helmets.
  • Used in Killzone 2. While the main cast of heroes never wear combat helmets, virtually everybody else does. In fact, combat helmets act as an actual gameplay mechanic, with few weapons being capable of penetrating an enemys helmet on impact. The helmet is however knocked off the enemy mook, ensuring the next headshot to be fatal. Finally, the trope itself is lampshaded in the games cinematic intro, with a news topic briefly scrolling during the big bads speech. The topic reads: "Combat helmets, are they really necessary?"
  • Inverted in the Halo series. The helmet of the Master Chief is one of the iconic images of the series and looks pretty awesome; no wonder we never see his head without it!
    • In Halo 3: ODST the faceless Rookie always wears his helmet, but the rest of his unit will take theirs off or de-tint the visors whenever they're not in combat. You also have an option to play as one of the other squad members in Firefight without a helmet, and you'll take the same amount of headshot damage either way.
    • A similar situation happens in Halo: Reach; the members of NOBLE Team always wear their helmets during combat situations, but only Noble Six and Emile will keep them on when the shooting stops.
    • Played straight in Halo Wars with Sergeant Forge, who is the only UNSC ground pounder in the game to never wear a helmet.
    • In Halo 4, this is played almost completely straight by Sarah Palmer.
    • The various UNSC Army and Marine sergeants all seem to prefer wearing caps as opposed to the helmets worn by their subordinates.
    • Played for Laughs in Halo Wars 2 multiplayer; the given reason for Sergeant Johnson's super-advanced Powered Armor not having a helmet is "Well, would YOU hide behind an armored faceplate if you had Sergeant Johnson's rugged good looks?"
  • Inverted in Ultima VIII: Pagan, where the Avatar's in-game appearance, even when he is not wearing any armour at all, features a Great Helm that completely obscures his features. This led to some fans giving him the nickname Ol' Bucket-Head. The Avatar's Crossover appearance in Dungeon Keeper is modelled after the sprite from Pagan.
  • Starcraft II makes a point of giving all the power-armored characters helmets with reflective (and presumably armored) visors. They tend to raise them fairly often in cutscenes, even when sometimes a little extra protection seems like it would be quite worthwhile. At least there's a second, transparent visor behind the outer one that keeps the suit sealed.
    • The marine helmets don't tend to protect them against enemy attack though. The one time a visor is shown lowered in battle, that marine almost immediately gets impaled through the visor.
    • Ground vehicle pilots tend to not have any sort of helmets at all, odd when compared to their original Starcraft equivalents sometimes epic headgear. The new siege tank driver looks like he's driving a tank in an officer's dress uniform, sans topper. Special mention must go to the Viking pilot, who opens and closes his faceplate when the unit changes form, and the Banshee pilot, who lowers a display eyeshield and blacks out the cockpit glass when she cloaks.
    • The Protoss also invert this trope pretty hard. The base infantry Zealot goes bareheaded, but the unit portraits for some of the heroic and pilot characters feature some really epic headgear. Of course, protoss don't have much in the way of a face, so concealing it isn't that big an issue.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy IV, Cecil wears a helmet that covers most of his face when he's a Dark Knight, but opts for a headband when he becomes a Paladin. And in Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, Kain purges himself of his dark side for good and gets a new Holy Dragoon job class. As a part of his new costume, his full helmet is replaced with a sort of tiara that shows his good looks. Golbez no longer wears a helmet either, instead becoming a rare male example of Stripperific.
    • No main character from SOLDIER wears their helmet in Final Fantasy VII or Crisis Core. Partly justified in that 1st Class SOLDIERs can wear whatever they want, but Zack doesn't do it even when he's 2nd Class.
    • In Dissidia Final Fantasy 012: Duodecim, the Warrior of Light has a couple of alternate outfits that remove his helmet. One is styled after the appearance of the Fighter/Warrior job class from the original NES games, and the other is practically identical to his regular armour, sans the helmet.
    • Zig-zagged in Final Fantasy XIV, at least for the player character, where actually equipping helmets and other headgear is a necessity to make the most out of your gear, but actually having them be enclosed or even visible on your head is strictly optional; there are commands both for making your headgear invisible and for moving its face-concealing parts out of the way, on top of a system to use a glamour prism to make it look like something else entirely, like a simple beret, bandanna, or a feather in your hair. Cutscenes beginning from Heavensward start to enforce this, as even if you have your helmet visible, it will be toggled off for certain cutscenes. A particular standout is in the Grand Melee about halfway through Heavensward's post-release story, where your current outfit is temporarily glamoured into a set of Ishgardian armor - minus any sort of helmet, even if you toggle it visible - while, in an inversion, Raubahn wears a helmet with a face-concealing visor for the first time in his fight against you.
  • Inverted in Chrono Cross, in which party member Zoah wears a helmet... And pretty much nothing else.
  • In the Valkyria Chronicles games none of your soldiers wear helmets even while fighting in a civil war or against a whole empire, since they've got to show off their unique appearances and personalities. In contrast the villainous mooks and morally ambiguous red shirts wear helmets that either cover their faces or hide their eyes.
  • Played with occasionally in the Metroid series. Usually Samus subverts this trope by wearing a helmet that fully conceals her face, but in some games her visor is fully transparent. In Other M she can polarize and depolarize the opacity of her visor at will (she depolarizes the visor when speaking to people to appear less intimidating, but otherwise has it opaque during combat). The Federation Marines in Other M try to find a medium by having helmets that mechanically open to completely reveal their faces (unfortunately the opened helmets look a bit top-heavy, giving them a tendency towards Dark Helmet Syndrome).
    • In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, the helmet can apparently be teleported on and off at Samus's whim, but the only times she does it is when an overdose of Phazon causes her to vomit, and parts of the ending. Otherwise she never takes off the helmet during a mission, even on planets with earthlike atmosphere. Nor does anyone else, except for Admiral Dane.
  • Kenshin Dragon Quest, the spinoff-remake of the original Dragon Quest, removes Loto/Edrick's helmet, showing his gold Super Saiyan-ish hair. Loto's Limit Break in Battle Road series shows him rescuing the princess without his helmet as it has turned into his Mid-Season Upgrade of some sort.
  • Taking its cue from Warhammer 40,000, most Imperial squad leaders and heroes in Dawn of War fight bareheaded. The only exceptions are Ogryn BONEheads who wear a horned helmet and some Battle Sister squad leaders. Squad leaders and heroes of other factions vary a good deal: The Chaos Lord is bareheaded (though Eliphas gets a helmet), the Eldar Farseer, Tau commander and Shas'ui (unlike the tabletop) have helmets. A line from the helmetless Force Commander of Dawn of War 2 "My faith is my shield!...", combined with his somewhat-unlikely chiseled and handsome visage has led to the popular Mondegreen of "My face is my shield!"
  • Played absolutely straight in Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, as with all other 40K examples. Titus, Sidonus, Inquisitor Drogan, Lt. Mira, and Inquisitor Thrax all go without helmets. Leandros has one to start with, but it is damaged and promptly discarded during the scene in which you meet up with him. The Orks of course don't wear helmets, though almost all of the other various mook-of-the-minute types (the Imperial guardsmen, Chaos militia, etc.) all wear helmets.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, Zack wears a helmet meant to resemble a Greek helmet and the SOLDIER helmet for all of 10 seconds, plus however long it takes you to beat the first battle with him. Once it's knocked off, he never wears it again.
    • Meanwhile, the main characters in Birth By Sleep all wear armor into combat, only for them to lose the helmets for one reason or another (Terra remove his, Aqua's is knocked off by an attack, and Ventus' is smashed against a cliff).
  • Most units in the Command & Conquer series wear full armor with helmets, but Commando units usually don't. In Tanya's case, she barely wears anything protective at all.
  • This trope is common throughout the Suikoden series, as its main characters rarely wear helmets, even when riding at the head of helmet-clad troops.
  • In Uncharted's multiplayer, only villains wore helmets. Taken to eleven in Uncharted 3's multiplayer, where you can buy ten different helmets for your custom villain — and the only one a hero can get is the ISA helmet, which you need real money to buy.
  • Inverted in Section 8. Your character is almost never seen without his helmet, which also applies to some allies, while villains are usually seen helmetless.
    • Dropping in from orbit without a helmet may be hazardous to your health.
  • Played with in the Neverwinter Nights series. Being based on 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons, helmets usually don't add anything to Armor Class, but to an extent Armor Is Useless at higher levels anyway. The real reason to wear a helmet is for its enchantments: most basic helmets (particularly in the sequel) will add +1 to Concentration, which is useful to spellcasters.
  • One of the gameplay options in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning lets players hide helmets on their character.
  • A weird, villainous version in Champions Online. In Champions, your equipment never affects your appearance, so you can go naked if you want. However, bad guy organization VIPER have units called Air Cavalry... and Air Cavalry Ace. The Air Cavs have the standard VIPER full-concealment helmet, but the Aces only wear goggles. Then, eventually, VIPER subverts it with Viper-X, apparently the leader of the Air Cavalry, who does not appear to wear a helmet (and then it slides into place when he enters combat).
  • Infinity Blade completely inverts this trope: every character is never seen without their helmet, even the enemies that wear no armor at all. The later games show the main characters without helmets here and there, but this is only for a short while before they re-equip their armor around the clock.
  • Played with in God of War as Kratos is badass enough that he barely wears any armor at all let alone a helmet, however early concept art from the game had him dressed in full Hoplite suits. The developers actually started removing the armor, helmet included, because he looked too heroic.
  • Not a single major character in David Mason's squad in Call of Duty: Black Ops II wears a helmet, including David himself - the only member of the squad who does, Crosby, completely disappears from the plot after his first mission and only reappears much later in the story to get non-fatally shot. The only time Harper is ever seen wearing one is during the wingsuit sequence in "Celerium" and the jetpack one in "Judgment Day", and even then, he actually takes it off after landing.
  • Played with inThe Elder Scrolls Online: The character usually keeps their helmet on at all times, but the player can set helmets to invisible and invoke this trope. The only time the game forces you to go helmetless is when a crafting station is used. Which makes perfect sense, as delicate craftsmanship would be a lot harder with a face covering helmet on.
  • Done oddly in The Sims Medieval: men wear helmets, women don't. The default armor for women is otherwise sensible (it's not a Chainmail Bikini and may even cover her more than her regular outfit) but there is no helmet, unlike the default men's armor. However, some other armors include helmets whether they're worn by men or women.
  • Pokémon:
    • The protagonist of the Pokémon games never wears a helmet or any sort of padding while biking, even in Hoenn where you are able to perform dangerous tricks. Partly because they don't want to remove their Nice Hat.
    • Subverted in Pokémon Sun and Moon when you ride Pokémon. The Riders Gear contains a helmet. This contrasts with the previous games' allowing you to ride Rhyhorn, Mamoswine, and Gogoat without any equipment.
  • Heroes in Massive Chalice won't wear helmets to show off the unique features of the characters which is determined by their lineage (which you control).
  • Subverted in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Like recent Bioware games, you can mark any headgear you wear to show or not (though not if you haven't subscribed or bought the unlock for that feature). This is quite welcome, as some early headgear can look quite dorky.note  If you don't hide your headgear, your character doesn't even remove it in conversation except with your companions, which always take place in rest zones (i.e. a safe place), and your voice is mechanically or electronically filtered. And because it's Star Wars, many players leave the headgear on—especially Troopers, Bounty Hunters, and Sith—as they are quite proud of the masks and helmets they bought, hunted down, or fought for completing the character's look.
  • Played straight in Resident Evil 6. In Chris's campaign, he and another playable character Piers are the only ones in his squad who don't wear helmets. Though, given what they usually fight and Chris's experience and general Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right! altitude, this may be the case of Armor Is Useless. Lampshaded by Jake, who makes a caustic comment about jarheads who look all the same to him.
  • Every soldier you recruit in XCOM: Enemy Unknown goes bare-headed on a battlefield full of plasma weaponry that can melt their faces off, poison they can inhale, and other such hazards that would warrant a fully-enclosed helmet or at least a gas mask. The game really goes the extra mile in regards to this trope, however, in that it was only in the DLC that helmets were added. They're purely aesthetic head decorations, however: the actual protective items are Informed Equipment.
  • Sir Daniel Fortesque was once a "gallant knight" of Gallowmere who led the kingdom's armies against those of the Evil Sorceror Zarok. He elected to not wear a helmet for the battle, and, rather predictably, died horribly in the first arrow volley.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us has Lex Luthor in his trademark power armour with his face exposed. This is particularly silly within the game's story mode since Lex is secretly working against Evil!Superman and so anonymity would be a major advantage.
  • In Psychonauts, in the ending sequence, Raz finally ditches his aviator helmet and goggles upon transitioning to an official Psychonaut uniform.
  • Inverted in Mega Man for the most part as an iconic part of Mega Man's wardrobe is his helmet.
    • The original Mega Man has his helmet off during the title screen and intro sequence of Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 4 retrospectively, and he also takes off his helmet during the ending sequences of both games. In Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10, there's a shop item that can be bought that removes Mega Man's helmet, but in turn causes him to take double damage, and it wears off after a death.
    • Mega Man Volnutt is the only Mega Man incarnation who doesn't wear a helmet by default. While he can wear one in both Legends games, his artwork and crossover appearances (such as in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom or Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U) often depict him without one.
    • In Mega Man ZX, Giro Megamerged with Model Z is the only Mega Man who doesn't wear a helmet (open-faced or otherwise) in the entire series, instead getting a black visor. Especially noticeably since Vent/Aile as Model ZX get the helmet. It's implied to be a Continuity Nod to how Zero's wrecked helmet was the only thing found of him in the ending of Mega Man Zero 4.
  • Telepath Tactics is a big offender, at least in the campaign. Ebon Raban is the only named character whose Character Portrait features a full helmet; everyone else has their entire head visible. This also extends to character classes who normally wear hoods, such as with Gavrielle; Tremolo and Nalia don't wear the assassins' usual face-mask either.
  • Lampshaded in Ghostbusters: The Video Game, right at a moment where the guys might need a helmet!
  • Headgear in Xenoblade Chronicles X tends to fall into one of two categories: more like hair decorations than protection, or practical-looking helmets with opaque visors that can make cutscenes look weird - particularly for Rook, who communicates a great deal by facial expression and body language. Fortunately helmet visibility can be toggled off entirely, or visually overridden by putting something in the Fashion Armor slot. The funny thing about all this (for the human characters anyway) is they're all robots anyway, and reasonably durable ones at that, so most of them could get away with a lack of face protection in hostile environments.
  • In Undertale, Undyne chases you through Waterfall in full armor, which does include a helmet...until the boss fight, where she takes it off for no apparent reason other than Rule of Cool.
    • Lesser Dog and Greater Dog in Snowdin both wear armor, but not helmets, perhaps because they just want you to pet them that badly. However, the Royal Guard members in Hotland are never seen without their helmets. Even in Deltarune, where there is no Royal Guard, they still wear helmets with their normal clothing for no apparent reason.
  • Warhammer The End Times: Vermintide: This trope is generally inverted; the heroic members of your party can wear helmets (or not, using this trope), while your less paragon members wear fashionable hats and hoods and extremely open bracers, or faceplates at best. Also, the Skaven generally refuse metal headgear, mainly because they need the flexibility to scan the battlefield and plan their assault for a few seconds before they charge in, but this leaves all enemies vulnerable to headshots. There's even a bow and a weapon skill designed for automatically hitting heads!
  • The Overwatch animated short, Honor and Glory reveals that Reinhardt was guilty of this in his younger days as a crusader because he loved the feeling of the wind in his hair. Unfortunately for him, it was this same way of thinking that led to an omnic blinding his left eye with a Laser Blade. Even in his older years he was guilty of this, as his Lt. Wilhelm skin (His canonical appearance during the Null Sector incident set a mere 7 years before the games present time) is still lacking a helmet.
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: Raiden and the Winds of Destruction all wear some sort of Collapsible Helmet or visor (save for Mistral), but save for Raiden they're almost never seen actually employing them. During normal levels Raiden's visor only ever closes whenever he's using its AR functions to scan for enemies, something that can't be done during normal attacks (in other words, he reopens his visor whenever he fights said enemies). Raiden and the Winds of Destruction do engage their helmets/visors whenever they fight each other, but only right at the end of the cutscene just before they fight. Raiden does consistently wear his visor when he fights the Final Boss, but only so that said boss can shatter the visor early on and expose Raiden's face for the rest of the game.
  • A lot of human characters (and Poppy) in League of Legends wear full armor, but no helmet. Garen and Darius are completely bareheaded, while Leona and Diana wear headdresses that don't seem to provide much protection. Some champions have an excuse in that they can protect themselves with magic (like Lux's shield ability) or have personal reasons for going armorless (Draven, who's a gladiator). Of course, there are also plenty of characters who do wear helmets, like Jarvan IV, Kayle, Master Yi, Pantheon, and Quinn. Nautilus is a special case in that he's fused to his armor, and Kai'sa does have a helmet- but it's off by default and is only toggled on during her dash or if the player wants it on.
  • Actually a plot point in The Banner Saga, where the insane spearman Tryggvi warns Rook that men who wear helmets can’t be trusted. Sure enough, Ekkill leads your party into an ambush, Onef leads a mutiny, and Dagr in the sequel takes part in a second mutiny and kills some of your men if you spare him. All three men are wearing helmets, and they’re the only party members in the Skogr caravan to do so.
  • MORDHAU: Somewhat invoked by players who have a character to cosplay, thanks to the extensive character building possibilities letting you build some very good resemblances of other, preexisting characters. Naturally, other players see them as free kills, because getting your skull tenderized/impaled/sliced off is basically an inevitability without a helmet - almost all two-handed weapons can kill a bareheaded player in a single stab or slash to the noggin.
  • Zigzagged in the Modern Warfare series, though you obviously can't tell if the player character is wearing a helmet:
    • The SAS only wear helmets if they are also wearing gas masks. They do like hats though, most wear beanies, Gaz wears a baseball cap, and Captain Price is never seen without some type of hat. Soap may have been concerned that a helmet might mess up his Mohawk.
    • None of the significant characters in Task Force 141 wear helmets, though the minor characters often do.
    • The US forces (Marine Force Recon, Rangers, and Delta) however are consistently shown wearing helmets. Griggs, curiously, is shown wearing a helmet when working with other Marines, but keeps it hanging from his side once he joins forces with the SAS. He's killed when he gets shot in the face (possibly eye), so a helmet wouldn't have helped anyway.
  • In The Legend of Zelda game Hyrule Warriors even before getting the hero garb, Link doesn't wear the helmet of the Hylian soldier uniform. The same applies to Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (though the player can choose to wear the helmet after the first battle).

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night: Some of the super-powered Servants wear armor to protect themselves, but they don't bother with the helmets. The armor they wear do come with helmets; the design shows up in the artbooks, the Servants just prefer not to have them. This actually bites one of them in the ass at one point: Saber is nearly defeated because her head is the only unarmoured portion of her. Incidentally, the only time we see her helmet in the actual game is in the Heaven's Feel path, coloured in the black and red of Saber Alter, where it's almost immediately shattered by Berserker's attacks, which may explain why Saber prefers not to wear it in combat. That, and it's less of a helmet and more of a visor that only covers her eyes and nose.

    Web Animation 
  • A Running Gag in Freeman's Mind is Gordon complaining about his lack of a helmet, which he quite correctly believes would be very useful for him to have. He used to have one, but somebody apparently stole it prior to the series. Thankfully, the bright orange colour of the HEV suit apparently makes it such an irresistible target that enemies can't help but shoot at it instead of his completely unprotected head.
  • Inverted with the Custodian Guard from If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device (with the exception of Kitten, who just wears 24-Hour Armor). They always wear their helmets, but everything else (with the exception of loincloths) they left behind long ago. Supposedly it was in mourning of the Emperor's interment on the Golden Throne, but considering how they act and how they outright ignore any of the Emperor's orders to Please Put Some Clothes On, that's up for questioning. Notably, this was, at one point, canon — back in the Rogue Trader days, the Custodes were said to have given up their armor in shame for having failed to protect the Emperor. Modern depictions of the Custodes have them wearing their clothes, however.

  • In Exterminatus Now, it's custom for officers not to wear helmets. When asked "how many of them were killed by a sniper bullet to the brain", the answer was "Ooph. Well, I mean, y'know... a few...".
    • Considering its origins (as mentioned on its own page), this is undoubtably a jib at Warhammer 40,000.
  • In Girl Genius, Gilgamesh Wulfenbach reveals he has been shot in the side but he was wearing full body armor. One of the Jaegers points out he wasn't wearing a helmet. He justifies it by saying they had to know it was him. Being Jaegers, they suggest a giant hat for that purpose. They provide one. Years later, it's the only way for many people to recognize him.
  • Lampshaded in Nerf NOW!!, which points out even when a female character wears "realistic" armor instead of a Chainmail Bikini, the helmet is still forgone for heroes.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • Ebby often goes around without bothering to deploy his helmet, but as a Unioc his "head" is just a giant eyeball (which can be regrown with medical technology) and his brain is in his pelvic cradle.
    • Played with here, when Tagon doesn't deploy his suit's helmet because his client didn't have one, and the client wasn't deploying her suit's helmet because Tagon didn't have one.
      Tagon: [as both characters deploy helmets] We're idiots.

    Web Videos 
  • A Door Monster sketch parodying the first Half-Life has Gordon Freeman complaining that the HEV suit doesn't come with a helmet, although a fellow scientist insists that it's not neccesary. Freeman is even less amused after the facility gets overrun by headcrabs, so named "because it attacks your FRIGGING HEAD!"
  • It became a runningGag throughout Freeman's Mind and into its sequel that Gordon Freeman would always be without a helmet, and keenly regretful of this fact. There are meta-reasons for this portrayal: partly a commentary on the official art in Half-Life (see above), and partly a justification to disable the in-game HUD, which would be distracting to a viewer. Based on Freeman's commentary, we can infer that he acquires a lot of lacerations and other facial wounds throughout the series as a result.
  • Quite Averted in The Knight of Hope which makes it pretty clear that the Knight's helmet is a very key reason he can beat over ten men at once, with a noticeable instance where a crossbow bolt is deflected by his almost-entirely face-obscuring helmet.

    Western Animation 
  • Inverted by Avengers, Assemble!; when Red Skull steals Iron Man's Power Armor he scraps the helmet so his face is seen.
  • Inverted in the BattleTech animated series where the protagonists are Inner Sphere and wear Neurohelmets, while all the Clanner antagonists use Enhanced Imaging implants.
  • Subverted in Darkwing Duck. In the first episode Gosalyn asks why he doesn't wear a helmet when he drives his motorcycle, and he replies because he thinks he looks cooler without one. In the second episode he does start wearing it, as part of learning that sometimes there are things more important than his image. Like staying alive because Gosalyn needs a parent.
  • In one episode of Jean-Luc & Dondoozat, Dondoozat is seen watering a flower, while Jean-Luc plays with a ball and a racket while wearing a horned helmet. The ball gets stuck on one of the horns, and when Jean-Luc turns around, a horn tips the flowerpot and pedestal it was on, breaking them both. Dondoozat got angry and spanked Jean-Luc for it.
  • Kick Buttowski: The main character inverts this. He always wears a helmet, to the point of never taking it off.
  • Star Wars: Clone Wars:
    • It inverts this by having all the clone troopers have their helmets on at all time and you never see their faces, save the back of Alpha-77 (a.k.a. Fordo)'s head. The key clones are distinguished instead by color markings; specifically, if they're red, chances are they're badass.
    • Obi-wan Kenobi wears full armor, with a helmet, in one battle. Naturally, a blow to the head knocks the helmet off so we can see his face. On that ocasion, he was disguised as a trooper until the helmet loss.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • Clone troopers always keep their helmets on in battle, but always take them off to have conversations, presumably for the benefit of the audience (even if they all have the same face, it's still human nature to want to see individuals). A good example of this occurs when Commander Rex gives a defiant speech to Pong Krell during the Umbara arc, first expressing his grievances with the Jedi general while still wearing his helmet but taking it off partway through to reinforce that, while he and the other clones are genetically-engineered supersoldiers who were grown in vats from a single base genome for the sole purpose of fighting in a forthcoming war and who all look virtually identical to one another, that doesn't mean that they aren't people.
    • Discussed by Cad Bane in the Season 4 episode "Friends and Enemies":
      Rako Hardeen: For trying to blend in, your hat makes you stand out.
      Cad Bane: [as Hardeen chooses a helmet] I don't like to hide under a helmet.
    • "The Lawless": Mandalorian warrior Bo-Katan, who was previously a villain, has an effective Heel–Face Turn as she fights against her planet's takeover by Darth Maul and, among other things, assists in Duchess Satine's attempted rescue before later rescuing Obi-Wan. She also wears her helmet very little despite having worn it during all combat scenes she was in in previous episodes.
  • Star Wars Rebels: Sabine actually wears a Mandalorian helmet and armor, though a somewhat reduced version, as she relies on agility over durability. It actually saves her when Darth Vader reflects her own shots back into her face, yet she still refers to stormtroopers as bucketheads.
  • For some reason, Jim's Trollhunter armor from Trollhunters lacks a helmet. This is particularly jarring as all his predecessors are depicted with helmets. Turns out he does have one as one of the upgrades he unlocks later into the show.
  • Visionaries plays with this in an interesting way. Most of the characters on both sides spend as much time with their helmets on as with them off. However, all the Spectral Knights except for Witterquick have open-faced helmets while the Darkling Lords all have face-concealing ones.

    Real Life 
  • Some Celtic and Germanic tribes disliked using helmets, or only chiefs wealthy enough to afford them did.
  • In one (sort of) example, after being unhorsed at the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror removed his helmet so his allies could see that he was still alive.
  • The full helmets of the high mediaeval period seriously restricted the wearer's vision. As such, a lot of knights chose to raise or remove their visors for hand-to-hand combat, accepting the increased risk as a necessary sacrifice in order to remain aware of what was going on around them. Of course, they were very seldom dumb enough to go bareheaded.
  • Historically, captured knights (and other armoured opponents) relinquished their weapons, helmets, and a gauntlet. The gauntlet was for later identification of their captor so he could claim the ransom. The reason for surrender of the weapons should be obvious, but the helmet was removed so that even if the captive could find weapons he would be unable to effectively fight, given that a conflict with a bare-headed opponent ends very, very quickly. Removal of helmet = death in combat. Good examples of this come from records of the French-English battle at Agincourt.
  • For similar reasons, in American football a player's helmet is taken immediately when they suspect he has a concussion specifically to prevent him going back out onto the field, since even a concussed player realizes that without a helmet he can't play (both for practical reasons and because it's against the rules).
    • Before the NFL mandated wearing a helmet in 1939, some players- most famously Philadelphia Eagles end Bill Hewitt- refused to wear one, believing it would impede their senses and reaction time.
  • The whole of heraldry derives from the medieval practice of a knight actually wearing a coat of arms — i.e., a coat over his armor — with a distinctive pattern, so that he could be recognized even while wearing a face-concealing helmet. Eventually knights started duplicating the pattern on their shields, and then the pattern evolved into a personal/family emblem represented on a stylized shield.
  • The trope was practically enforced in private duels and in fencing practice with foiled rapiers or smallswords from roughly the 16th-18th centuries. Foiled swords had blunted tips covered with tennis-ball-sized pads in order to reduce the chances of poking someone's eye out (it still happened), but wearing any kind of fencing mask was considered unmanly and they really didn't catch on until the 19th century.
  • Police forces in many countries such as the U.S. tend not to wear helmets, either wearing distinctive hats or going bareheaded. They spend the vast majority of their time patroling or dealing with minor offenses, and military-style helmets look too threatening while also being too cumbersome and uncomfortable to wear all day.
  • Inverted for SWAT teams and the like, who wear helmets for protection because they are dispatched specifically to respond to violent emergencies. Helmets and masks serve to hide their identities in case of reprisals, and by making them look scarier also increase the likelihood of the perp(s) hopefully surrendering upon seeing them without firing a shot. On the other hand, the increasing use of such gear by non-SWAT units and the dispatching of SWAT teams to deal with more routine situations have been criticized as part of the excessive militarization of law enforcement, since military-style gear can encourage officers to have an inappropriately aggressive mindset and the public tends to mistrust police forces that look like an occupying army.
  • When Cricketers first started wearing helmets in the 1970s, some commentators didn't like it. One asked the great Don Bradman about the trend. Bradman replied that if he had been offered a helmet during the infamous bodyline series (where the English constantly bowled short-pitched deliveries that bounced up to around the Australian batsmen's head area), he would have worn one.
  • This Trope, played straight, may have actually saved the army for Pyrrhus of Epirus at the Battle of Heraclea. During the battle, he was knocked off his horse and badly shaken, so he had his armor and helmet taken up by Megacles, who was of similar build to him. A Roman horseman manages to kill Megacles and sever his head, holding it up and riding down the lines to show that he had killed the Epirote king. The Epirote army began to falter, until Pyrrhus took up a horse and started riding along the lines without a helmet, showing his men he was alive.
  • British troops based in southern Iraq wore berets instead of helmets on patrol in an effort to win over the local population. This is SOP for peacekeeping operations; it makes the soldiers appear less threatening... unless the soldiers in question are from the Parachute Regiment or the Royal Marines (Names to Run Away from Really Fast if you're an enemy combatant), whose distinctively-coloured berets serve as a remarkably effective deterrent.
  • Truth in Television for some special operations forces, who may forgo helmets and body armor depending upon the mission profile. This is not to say it doesn't compromise their combat effectiveness, it's just that in some missions, blending in is deemed more important. For example, scouts and recon often forgo wearing a helmet as it can limit vision and hearing. Snipers will typically not wear helmets while they are stalking to get into position and taking their shot.
  • During the evolution of the NHL during the seventies, Canadian players protested the new rules regarding helmet use. According to the Canadian players, a mask for the goalie was enough, with even that only having been introduced in the late 1960s. Bizarrely, players from the States and Europe didn't tend to agree. This is especially visible during the 1972 Summit Series. The Canadian National team were bareheaded throughout (except for, oddly enough, eventual series hero Paul Henderson), while the Red Army team wore helmets.
  • The Chinese People's Liberation Army Marine Corps. While half of them wear the standard black helmet with goggles on the helmet, the other half wear wool/fleece tuques with goggles on their tuque caps. Justified for the tuques keep their head warm at sea and the fact that they are mainly a peace keeping force escorting vessels near the Gulf of Aden.
  • Many tank commanders also preferred not to wear helmets as they thought they were too restrictive when they did get inside the turret. Not surprisingly, wounds to tank commanders were usually to the head and often fatal. In WW2, American tank crews took fewer casualties than their British counterparts despite usually riding around in the same tanks because the Americans wore helmets and the British merely wore berets.
  • A common reason for bikers and bicyclists not wearing helmets is because the rider thinks they're uncool.
  • Pyotr Grigorenko in his In the underground you can meet only rats memoirs wrote about such a trend among some early Soviet Political Officers (the sort of guys who had some rank, but no one dared to give them any actual command positions even during the total mobilization), which he had to counteract and urge his men to wear helmets. In the end, the best argument was visual one — his own helmet discarded due to a big, sharp, gnarled-looking shrapnel stuck in it (he got away with a scratch and light knockdown that time).
  • U.S. soldiers deployed onto the Normandy beaches for the D-Day invasion were instructed to remove their helmets first if they had to jump overboard in a pinch. This is because they were trained to jump in feet first, and if they left their helmets in place with the chin-strap still fastened, the sudden rush of water into the helmet during submergence could snap the wearer's neck.
  • Inverted in the video I Love Helmets, in which a helmet-wearing skateboarder gets up totally unhurt despite wiping out and hitting his head on the pavement. He gleefully declares, "I love helmets!"
  • In Xenophon's Anabasis, an account of the expedition of several companies of Greeks into the Persian Empire under the leadership of Cyrus the Younger, Cyrus is said to have entered his battle with king Artaxerxes II (his brother) bare-headed. Just as the battle was about to be turned in his favor, he was struck a fatal blow under the eye with a javelin. Wear your helmets, kids.
  • On Trajan's Column in Rome, Italy (a triumphal column commemorating Emperor Trajan's victory in the Dracian Wars) the Roman soldiers have their helmets cut away and shield size cut down to reveal more of their faces. Their Dacian opponents aren't shown with helmets at all, except as battle trophies, perhaps to make them appear less martial and heroic.
  • When the Brody helmet (the British "tin hat" helmet) was introduced in 1915 (as protection from shrapnel shells detonating over the trenches), there was a lot of skepticism and dismissal of the idea, in part because it was seen as an archaism that was pointless on the modern battlefield (because it couldn't deflect bullets, which were still seen as the more significant threat). This conclusion seemed at first to be confirmed when there was an increased rate of reported head injuries, until it was noticed that it corresponded with a reduction in overall fatalities. In other words, Tommies were now surviving head wounds that used to simply kill them without the helmets. After that, the objections generally vanished. Similar disputes, and results, were seen with the French Adrian helmet (which became the common helmet design across most of Europe in various forms, with even one of the Central Powers, Austria-Hungary, adopting a design based on it) and the German stahlhelm (the famous "coal scuttle" helmet) when they were introduced.
  • Horse-riders are notorious for not liking to wear helmets, at least for older teens and adults. May stem from the association of horses with nobility/wealthy, since they were usually the only people who could AFFORD a proper riding horse in the first place.


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