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Looks Like Cesare

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Top: Cesare himself.
Bottom, L - R, top to bottom: Edward Scissorhands, Ryuk, the Penguin, and Wilson Percival Higgsbury.
Characters with unusually pale skin, scraggly black hair, and deeply hollow eyes, often with dark shading under or around them. They wear all black and will be either The Woobie or Ax-Crazy. Typically, they'll also be quite skinny, making for an at least vaguely unhealthy appearance overall. These used to be done specifically as a homage/Expy to Conrad Veidt's original Cesare of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, but because of Parody Displacement, everyone just thinks of Tim Burton movies.

A Sub-Trope of Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette. (Which is to say, if the character's hair isn't dark or mostly dark, they don't count.) Creepy Loner Girl is the Distaff Counterpart in terms of appearance, but not necessarily in personality.

See Enemy Mime, Face Framed in Shadow, Goth, Undeathly Pallor; Tall, Dark, and Snarky; Excessive Evil Eyeshadow, Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl, But Not Too White and Ghostly Gape.

Also see Looks Like Orlok. Not to be confused with that other Cesare.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Sunako from The Wallflower at first, before she gains confidence in herself and focuses a little more on her appearance.
  • Ryuk from Death Note, who looks like Cesare would have if Conrad Veidt had been born in Innsmouth instead of Germany.
  • Bonz (aka Zombie Boy) from Yu-Gi-Oh!.
  • Kitano from Angel Densetsu, manages to be both The Woobie (to readers) and Ax-Crazy (to other people in the manga).
  • Shinsuke from Michiko & Hatchin.
  • Yukio Oikawa in Digimon Adventure 02.
  • Hiroshi Chinen from The Prince of Tennis.
  • Illumi Zoldyck from Hunter × Hunter's past look
  • In the Vampire Hunter D novels Cesare is actually a term used to describe one particular type of servant of the Nobility - a human who has been given the "kiss" of the Noble without having all their blood drained away, resulting in a servant who utterly lack free will, reminiscent the ghouls of some other vampire stories, and naturally looks like the Trope Namer.
  • Kiichiro Numabuchi from Case Closed is a Serial Killer who fits in so well that, when he escaped from custody and the police were searching for him, he was physically described by Ai Haibara in terms that would perfectly fit Cesare himself.
    Genta: So basically, we have to search for a man who looks like a skeleton?
    • Several cases have at least a murder suspect looking like this and acting like a snarky Jerkass. Atsushi Moori, the snarky reporter from the Ski Lodge Case, is a pretty good example too; his "case" is really not helped by how he gleefully describes a massacre that happened in the same lodge the group is staying in, and how he seems to enjoy the terror on other's faces when he mentions it. But he was not the killer, either in the past or the present, in quite the example of how suspects like this are more often than not Red Herrings.
    • Junya Tokitsu, a highschool-aged Amateur Sleuth, used to have the Cesare looks in the past. More exactly, in the flashbacks about his intervention in a case that would lead to the suicide of an innocent girl unfairly accused of murder after he stepped in. She also happened to be the best friend of another sleuth... who confronted and then killed him.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple: Kii Kagerou. Unusually pale skin, scraggly hair, and wears all black. He seems to miss out on the sunken eyes mostly because his face is so flat. If anything it makes him even more unnerving.
  • Faust VIII from Shaman King
  • Unsurprisingly, given that it's based off a Tim Burton movie, Zero's Journey has an elf named Mr. Myzer. He evokes a lighter version of this trope with his dark brown hair, pale skin, black coat, and dark circles under his eyes.

    Comic Books 

    Film — Animated 
  • The Other Mother from Coraline starts off looking like Coraline's real mother (except for the lack of a neck brace and having black buttons for eyes). Over the course of the film however, her features become more and more exaggerated. She switches from her real-world counterpart's sweater and pants to a black and white-dotted dress, red collar and red shoes. When Coraline starts to defy her, the Other Mother shifts to a less human form, becoming taller and more skeletal. In the film's climax, her true form is shown with a mechanical/spider-like appearance with white, cracked-porcelain skin and hands made of sewing needles.
  • Ratatouille: Despite not actually being evil, Ego's appearance, paired with his reputation, is enough to immediately indicate that he is an antagonist. It also says something, that when he Takes a Level in Kindness, his pale complexion becomes much more healthy.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Crispin Glover as the Knave of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland (2010) fits every criterion except for the scraggly hair. (His hair is long and dark, though.)
  • When Loki materializes out of the portal opened by the Tesseract at the beginning of The Avengers (2012), his eyes are sunken to an extreme degree, and his hair is even more mussed and stringy than usual.
  • Bruce Wayne in The Batman (2022), partially because he puts black make-up around his eyes to match his cowl, but mostly because of the physical and psychological toll of being a nocturnal crime-fighting vigilante.
  • The Penguin from Batman Returns looks like a cross between Cesare and Orlok.
  • Lydia Deetz of Beetlejuice has a touch of this trope. She's an Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette to start with, her hair is worn in a peculiar updo that defies gravity and frizzes out all over the place, and her eyes are a bit sunken. That last part is particularly noticeable when she's wearing her big black hat. In the cartoon, though, she just wears a lot of eye makeup.
  • The original example is, of course, Cesare, Conrad Veidt's Brainwashed and Crazy sleepwalker character from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Interestingly enough, he is specifically stated in the shooting script to be wearing makeup in-story to achieve the effect. However, it should be noted that the archetype of a skinny, pale-skinned, ill-looking character all dressed in black can be found already in romantic literature of the 19th century (generally as a ghost or a Living Memory).
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: The eponymous Winter Soldier looks like this most of the time, whether it's the black camouflage eye paint at night or the unhealthy pallor and visible dark circles during the day. He's a rare example who's The Dreaded and The Woobie, both via brainwashing.
  • The Crow: Eric has not only pale skin but also white face paint.
  • Dead Presidents was notorious for a lengthy sequence in which an embittered Vietnam vet and a couple of his friends rob a federal reserve bank in New York while sporting frightening corpse paint. Freddy Rodriguez's face paint is particularly creepy; the fact that he cackles madly after blowing up a bank truck certainly doesn't help.
  • The Joker was based upon the silent film version of The Man Who Laughs. Incidentally, the title character is also played by Conrad Veidt, so it's hardly coincidence that the Joker is often given Cesare's dark, sunken-in eyelids.
  • Otto from Otto; or Up with Dead People looks like this, although his hairstyle is rather sleek instead of shaggy, he has the black hair, pale-white skin, dark rings under his eyes and black clothing to pull the look off.
  • In Phantom of the Paradise, Swan's malleable musical minions in their guise as proto-Goth Alice Cooper lookalikes 'The Undeads' are dressed in glitter-rock versions of Cesare's outfit, with diamantés added to the all-black tights-and-tunic ensemble. The lead in particular has almost identical makeup to Conrad Veidt's, and the stage is decked out in the style of the sets from Dr. Caligari.
  • Pulp Fiction: Mia Wallace looks like this after her drug overdose.
  • The Enchantress from Suicide Squad (2016), at least until she regains her stolen heart and reclaims her true power.

  • Roose Bolton from A Song of Ice and Fire.
  • Mary Shelley probably intended the monster in Frankenstein to look a good deal this way; she describes him with pale skin, blank eyes, dark flowing hair, and "straight black lips." Since The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was at least in part inspired by Frankenstein, that film was arguably the first faithful adaptation of Shelley's vision.
  • Harry Potter has Sirius Black and Bellatrix Lestrange.
  • In Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: The Raven King. In the miniseries, where Strange has dark hair (instead of auburn), he looks like this after Arabella dies, and he summons the Pillar of Darkness.
  • Harry Dresden gets to looking like this around the beginning of Book 4 (Summer Knight) — he's around 6'8", very thin (as he has no money for food), has actually lost time due to being in his lightless lab for months, and his hair (very dark brown, as are his eyes) has not only grown out for several months, but is burned off in patches, producing a look that he himself terms "time to take Rover to the groomer."
  • Roderick Usher in Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" has developed deep-set eyes and a generally gaunt appearance due to a strange malady that is never named. It's implied to be the terror of his inevitable death and/or complications from a lot of inbreeding in the family.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Nico Di Angelo fits this trope perfectly. Pale skin? Check. Messy black hair? Check. Described as creepy by other characters? Check. Wears black and is a massive Woobie? Yep. He may not be an exact reference to Cesare but he fits the description.

    Live-Action TV 
  • There was once an episode of Gilligan's Island that lampshaded the odd appearance of silent-movie makeup. The gang find an old trunk containing a movie camera and some old-style costumes and decide to make some silent films with Thurston Howell III as director. We see the characters performing on a silent screen in black and white... but then we see them in color, and their makeup really stands out. They all look pale, effeminate, and kind of plastic, like mannequins.
  • Effy from Skins is a female version.
  • Sarah and Felix on Orphan Black look like this due to their eyeliner. Helena would look like this if she didn't dye her hair blond; you can still see the brown roots poking out.
  • Doctor Who has the Fourth, Seventh, and Eighth Doctors, although the extent of their pallor depends on the light. Also, in the episode "The Doctor's Wife," the TARDIS's spirit briefly possesses the body of a woman who looks like this. Hell, even Madame Kovarian (the Big Bad of series 6) and the current Master ("the Mistress") look like this.
  • Manservant Hecubus from The Kids in the Hall, specifically the "Pit of Ultimate Darkness" sketches.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Adar is pale and gaunt with stringy black hair and dresses in dark attire.
  • Oswald Cobblepot (aka The Penguin) as portrayed by Robin Lord Taylor on Gotham fits this to a tee. Even more so than his older self, in fact, as young Oswald is quite slender.
  • River Tam from Firefly has this look at times.

  • The Cure: Lullaby
  • Märchen from the Sound Horizon album of the same name.
  • Rainbow's video for the song "Can't Let You Go" is a homage to The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari with singer Joe Lynn Turner as Cesare.
  • Fleetwood Mac: Mick Fleetwood occasionally looks this way, especially when making horrifying, lustful faces at Stevie Nicks on the inside sleeve of Rumours. He certainly has the deeply hollowed eyes down.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Legendary wrestler Sting based his current look on The Crow. He's a bit more tan and toned than most, though, which means the white facepaint and black clothing make him look more like the world's most badass mime than Cesare.
  • Jeff Hardy sported this look on a 2008 episode of WWE SmackDown, as he got in touch with his "extreme side" to take out The Undertaker.
  • Speaking of which, The Undertaker himself is sometimes an example, especially in his early days. The effect is somewhat different when the Cesare is nearly 7 feet tall.
  • Vampiro, WCW's "vampire" wrestler.
  • Tatanka very briefly donned whiteface and black lipstick and eyeshadow late in 2006 after he suffered an emotional meltdown after losing too many matches and announced that his degradation had awakened a "vengeful spirit" that would avenge the Native American people.

    Video Games 
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: Deathly white skin, pitch black hair, the sunken eyes. Cross Crow makes a textbook example.
  • Alma from the First Encounter Assault Recon video games.
  • Yume Nikki. Seccom Masada-sensei, or "Space Piano Man" or "That Guy With The 6_9 Eyes." Kinda hard to tell though, as he is very pixelly.
    • Uboa also qualifies, even though he's arguably just a head.
  • Frantz from Rusty Hearts has neater hair than the norm, but otherwise fits the criteria.
  • Any male hero in Fable II with Evil and Pure alignments will acquire this look.
  • The Usher twins, Madeleine and Roderick (especially Roderick), in Dark Tales: Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher.
  • Simon Blackquill from Ace Attorney, probably due to his time in prison.
  • The Dras in Chronicles of Elyria are a tribe that look like Cesare as a whole. Tall, thin, and lanky with stringy black hair and sunken eyes. They're perfectly nice, if somewhat isolationist, people, though.
  • Several characters from Don't Starve count, most notably Wilson and Wes. All the characters in the game have Creepy Shadowed Undereyes and very pale skin.
  • The Protagonist during the interrogation sequences in Persona 5.

    Web Animation 
  • Cesare from BIGTOP BURGER is explicitly modeled and named after Dr. Caligari's Cesare. He has the requisite pale skin, black hair and sunken eyes.

    Web Comics 
  • The ghost lad from chapter 16 of Gunnerkrigg Court. It's possible this is how he looked in life, as well.
    • Zimmy probably counts too, since she has a tangly mess of black hair and eyes that look like black holes. (Not the astronomical kind.) On the rare occasions when we do get to see her eyes, they're a bit sunken. The one point of doubt comes from the fact that she has weird ashy greyish skin instead of being pale.
    • If Zimmy counts, then Jack definitely does—at least during the time that he's possessed by the Whitelegs.
  • The trolls of Homestuck lend themselves well to this since, as a species, they all have black (or mostly black) hair which tends toward messy hairstyles and eyes that are a bit sunken, but especially Karkat, Equius and Aradia.
  • Dongtae from DICE: The Cube That Changes Everything is a scrawny seventeen year old with a somewhat hunched back, dark circles under his eyes, and black hair (though most characters share the last trait). He's severely bullied by other kids and always seems to have the worst luck.

    Web Original 
  • Sara from the Whateley Universe. She's described as "Gothy", but it's her actual skin colouration, and it looks exactly like this.
  • Jeff the Killer from Creepypasta lore. While he doesn't wear all black, he has the scraggly black hair, blanched skin, and dark sunken eyes. Also like Cesare, Jeff even stabs people to death as they sleep!
  • This is often the appearance of those who experience prolonged exposure to the Slender Man, either from basic run-of-the-mill insomnia or from "Slendersickness".
  • Parodied with What's Her Face's sickly bunkmate in Teen Girl Squad, who is literally a raccoon.

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane: Viktor has brown hair, visible dark eye bags, and is very thin and pale due to his sickly status.
  • Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender looks like this when he's sleep-deprived during the episode "Nightmares and Daydreams," as does Princess Azula after her Villainous Breakdown. Hell, even Azula's daddy Ozai looks like this after being stripped of his powers.

    Real Life 


Video Example(s):


Freddy Mercury

In "I'm Going Slightly Mad", Freddy Mercury is portrayed like a silent movie character with exaggerated make-up and hair.

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