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Identity Concealment Disposal

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Sometimes, a writer wants to build intrigue in a character by keeping the character's face and identity hidden from the audience. Maybe the character always wears a face-concealing mask or only ever contacts other characters via telephone. Viewers can be teased with the Unreveal Angle. Then the moment finally comes when the character's face is revealed to the audience! Finally, the spoiler is out, and the character no longer has to wear that pesky mask and can now contact other characters via hologram instead of phone!


This trope is when a plot device previously used to conceal a character's face is abruptly dropped as soon as the character's face has been revealed once. Note that this can be justified in-universe if the character was deliberately hiding his identity from others and stops doing it at some point, but this trope only applies when whatever was hiding the character's face is discarded without any in-universe explanation.

Frequently, but not always, whatever was hiding the character's face only existed to hide it from the audience, as opposed to the characters.

Sub-trope of The Reveal. See also The Faceless, Evil Is Not Well-Lit, Emerging from the Shadows and The Unmasking. Contrast Artifact Alias.



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     Anime & Manga  

  • Mystogan from Fairy Tail may fall in the downplayed version of the trope : he doesn't drop his mask after his identity is revealed (he only actually stops wearing it when he's back in Edolas, which makes sense in context), but his hair starts sticking out and his face is more visible than before it was known.
  • Captain Sajin Komamura of Bleach wore a face-concealing helmet in his earliest appearances. He is eventually revealed to have the head of a wolf, after which he stops wearing the helmet.
  • In Durarara!!: The Slasher is shown in all initial appearances as a being with red eyes cloaked in shadow; after Haruna first reveals herself, this effect is dropped entirely for her and everyone else infected with The Virus; it's used only once more for Anri Sonohara after her Reveal, though in that case it made more sense than when she was in clear view, as she was wearing all-black clothes with her face concealed while in the rain outside on a dark night and riding a horse.
  • In Naruto, members of the Standard Evil Organization Squad Akatsuki are introduced wearing bamboo hats concealing their faces (to a degree, anyway), which are phased out as the series moves on. Akatsuki work in pairs, so Itachi and Kisame were the first pair introduced first, followed by Sasori and Deidara, all four of whom dispose of their hats as part of The Reveal of their identity. After that, no other member of the team is seen wearing them (though loner Zetsu, introduced before Sasori and Deidara, never wore one in the first place).
  • In One Piece, Garp, Franky and Sakazuki's faces were hidden by a dog mask, a festival mask and a cap respectively. Franky and Garp's masks are never seen again after their respective reveals, but Sakazuki subverts the trope as he still wears his cap even after a promotion and a timeskip.

     Films — Animated  

  • Lord Ruber, the Big Bad of Quest for Camelot, sports a face-concealing, horned helmet for one scene, appearantly for the sole purpose of making a dramatic reveal to Juliana. He then tosses it away to one of his minions and never puts it on again, not even in situations where more protection might actually be called for, like when battling a dragon or invading Camelot.

     Films — Live-Action  

  • In his first scene in TRON: Legacy, CLU is wearing a helmet that hides his face completely. Appearently, he was wearing it for the sole purpose of making a dramatic reveal to Sam, since he never puts it on again for the rest of the film (except when piloting a plane, where he has a more pragmatic reason for wearing it). Quorra similarly wears a helmet during her first scenes that she almost never puts on again after having unmasked herself.
  • Throughout Sherlock Holmes (2009), Moriarty appears with his face in the shadows. In the sequel he appears this way only in the film's introduction, during which he reveals himself and stays revealed for the rest of the film.
  • In the early James Bond films, Spectre No. 1 AKA Ernst Stavro Blofeld, was shown from the neck down with a white persian cat, even to his own cohorts. As soon as he was revealed to Bond in You Only Live Twice, he apparently dropped the aversion to revealing his face- up until his intended final appearance in For Your Eyes Only, where, due to a copyright dispute, Blofeld was killed off in the opening, and his face was unviewable for practically the entirety of his scenes.



  • In Monster Hunter International, the helicopter pilot (nicknamed "Skippy") is rather pointedly covered by jumpsuit, goggles, and black balaclava for most of the novel. His wife is shown wearing a burqa-like garment. In the final quarter of the novel, it's revealed that Skippy and his tribe are Orcs that MHI rescued from their native Kazakhstan a few years back, who've been kept around because of their unique skills.
  • In Harry Potter, everyone refers to the "Azkaban guards", until it's revealed that they're horrifying monsters called dementors, after which the phrase "Azkaban guard" is never uttered again.

  • Dan Brown likes this trope. Possibly the biggest example occurs in Inferno, where characters who know the identity of the Big Bad never use his name, even in internal monologues. But once his identity is revealed to the reader, suddenly everyone is talking about him freely.

     Live Action TV  

  • Heroes basically did a Name Concealment Disposal variation with the Haitian. Once his name was revealed to the audience, no one ever referred to him as "the Haitian" again.
  • In the new Doctor Who both the Judoon and the Sontarans have leaders who take off their helmets for The Reveal, and then leave them off the rest of the time. Their Judoon/Sontaran mooks leave their helmets on.
  • Criminal Minds does this for almost every criminal of the week who doesn't wear a disguise, most of the time only revealing their face at the end of the episode when caught.

     Video Games  

  • The Kingdom Hearts series does this a lot:
    • Ansem initially appears as a cloaked figure in the original game, but after The Reveal has always appeared since in full view.
    • The Disney Villains initially appear as Sinister Silhouettes hidden in the shadows in scenes where they're conversing (including Hades, who, given his flaming hairstyle, should be very difficult to hide in shadows), but as the plot stops requiring the viewer not to know who they are, the lighting on selective members improves and the darkness stops concealing them.
    • In Kingdom Hearts II, all the members of Organization XIII initially wear face-concealing hoods as part of their uniform and reveal themselves one by one throughout the game. None of them ever puts the hood back on after having taken it off once.
    • Similar to the Organization, the Unknown of Birth By Sleep wears a black robe with the hood up, since the developers didn't want to show his face. When he returned as the main antagonist of Dream Drop Distance, the hood is down and never goes up.
  • Golden Sun: At the very beginning of the game, Saturos and Menardi try to break into Sol Sanctum, causing the deaths of Isaac's father, and Jenna's parents and brother. Three years later, Isaac, Jenna and Garet go into Sol Sanctum, followed by Saturos, Menardi and a masked man. The mask lasts less than five minutes before he's identified as Felix, and it's never put on again (given that he's the protagonist in the second game, it makes sense).
  • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn: The second game ends with the blue-clothed Smug Snake Alex being left to die under the nascent Golden Sun. Dark Dawn features a blue-clothed Smug Snake named Arcanus wearing a mask. Despite the Paper-Thin Disguise, it's the audience who can recognize him, not the original protagonist's kids (Kraden does, but he never directly encounters him until the endgame).
  • The beginning of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty introduces Raiden with a face-covering diver's mask; Raiden's voice actors also imitate Solid Snake's intonation for the opening scene. The illusion is not particularly convincing in either version, as Raiden has a very different build, but works somewhat better in Japanese where Snake and Raiden are two similar Badass Baritones than in the English version where Raiden's voice is high-pitched and youthful and Snake's is extremely and affectedly gravelly. Raiden ditches his mask when receiving his codename on the elevator from the Dock into the Roof of Strut A, as well as dropping the voice, which there is no in-universe explanation for.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses:
    • The villain for the first half of the game is a masked individual calling themselves the Flame Emperor. Once they are unmasked at the end of Chapter 11, they spend the ensuing boss fight in Chapter 12 unmasked. It's played completely straight in the Silver Snow and Verdant Wind routes, but justified in the Azure Moon route when Dimitri destroys the mask (although the fact that they also ditch the still-functional helmet might raise a few eyebrows).
    • Should the player join forces with the Flame Emperor (a.k.a. Edelgard), this also applies to the Flame Emperor's right-hand, the Death Knight. On that story route (and only that route), he, as Jeritza, spends all of Part II unmasked, even ditching the white mask he once wore as a staff member of the Church of Seiros.


  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Tarquin zig-zags this trope. He initially plays it straight by stopping to wear his helmet after turning out to be Elan's father for no apparent reason. He then puts it back on just for a visit a the gladiatorial arena, apparently just so he can do The Unmasking in front of other members of the main cast. Later, the need for a disguise makes him walk around wearing a helmet and a mask under it should someone else take it off again.
    • Tarquin realizes that the reader, and thus the Order, know about Malack's vampirism when his underlings start talking about it openly.

     Western Animation  

  • In their initial appearances in Young Justice, the members of The Light communicate with each other through computer screens that make each member appear as a glowing, faceless silhouette. However, after their identities are revealed (to the audience, not to the protagonists) in the episode Revelations, every scene with the Light instead has them communicating via screens that leave their faces completely visible.
  • In the first two seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender Fire Lord Ozai's face was always hidden by shadows, regardless of the lighting (even to the extent that his face was shadowed when there was a wall of flames in front of him). This was dropped after his face was revealed at the beginning of season three.
  • In the first season of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Mr. E uses various convoluted methods to contact the other characters. In the second season, once his face has been revealed, he usually just shows up in person (often in very unexpected places).
  • In the first season of Star Wars Rebels, Fulcrum is only seen as a hooded figure via holocall and their voice is edited to be initially unrecognizable. After their identity is revealed at the end of the season, they appear in person from then on.
  • Miraculous Ladybug pulls a two-for-one with the big reveal in the second season premiere regarding the identity of the Big Bad: Not only is it confirmed that Hawk Moth/Papillion is Adrien's father, but his assistant Nathalie is not only aware of this but actively helping him. Unusually, this is only revealed to the audience; the episode revolves around Hawk Moth resorting to drastic action to prevent the heroes from finding out. There wouldn't be a Season 2 if it hadn't worked.