Follow TV Tropes


Looks Like Cesare

Go To
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 and Lorre Lookalike. Not to be confused with that other Cesare.


    open/close all folders 

  • Drambuie Extraordinary Bar:The three men at the end shouting the syllables of the brand have pale faces and dark shading around their eyes.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Vampire Hunter D: Cesare is in use as a term for one particular type of servant of the Nobility. It is a human who has been given the "kiss" of the Noble without having all their blood drained away, resulting in a servant who utterly lacks free will and looks like Cesare.
  • Case Closed: Kiichiro Numabuchi 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 high school-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 has 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.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: Zero's Journey: An elf named Mr. Myzer evokes a lighter version of this trope with his dark brown hair, pale skin, black coat, and dark circles under his eyes.
  • Henkyou no Roukishi Bard Loen: Kaldus Coendera has a permanent Creepy Shadowed Undereyes, dark hair with a few of unadjusted strands and a bit of egocentric personality.
  • Donovan Desmond of Spy X Family is tall and skeletally thin, with wide eyes drawn with heavy shadows underneath and an expression that makes him look like a disturbed owl. (Operation Strix is the mission undertaken by one of the main characters to get information on him; "strix" is a Latin word for "owl", and it also refers to a bird-like demon from classical mythology). Desmond is the chair of a major far-right political party, and is incredibly paranoid, secretive, and withdrawn, even from his own family, and he's being investigated in the first place because his party may potentially reignite a war.

    Comic Books 

    Film — Animated 
  • Coraline: The Other Mother starts off looking like Coraline's real mother (except for the lack of a neck brace and having black buttons for eyes). As Caroline spends time at her place, 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: 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 
  • Alice in Wonderland (2010): Knave of Hearts fits every criterion except for the scraggly hair. (His hair is long and dark, though.)
  • The Avengers (2012): When Loki materializes out of the portal opened by the Tesseract early on, his eyes are sunken to an extreme degree, and his hair is even more mussed and stringy than usual.
  • The Batman (2022): Bruce Wayne 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.
  • Batman Returns:The Penguin looks like a cross between Cesare and Orlok.
  • Beetlejuice: Lydia Deetz 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 Cabinet of Dr. Caligari: The original example is, of course, Cesare, Conrad Veidt's Brainwashed and Crazy sleepwalker. 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.
  • Otto; or Up with Dead People Otto 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.
  • 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.
  • Suicide Squad (2016): The Enchantress, at least until she regains her stolen heart and reclaims her true power.

  • Frankenstein: The Monster has pale skin, blank eyes, dark flowing hair, and "straight black lips."
  • 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.
  • The Dresden Files: 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."
  • "The Fall of the House of Usher": Roderick 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.
  • Orphan Black: Sarah and Felix 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.

  • 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.
  • Queen: The music video for "I'm Going Slightly Mad" is a homage to German expressionist films, and as such, Freddie Mercury dons a large, scraggly wig, pale makeup, dark eyeliner, and red lipstick, giving him a corpselike appearance in the Deliberately Monochrome footage. The costume and black and white visuals also doubled as a way to hide Mercury's battle with AIDS.
  • 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.
  • Rob Zombie: "Living Dead Girl" is also a homage to The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, with a female Cesare and Rob playing the doctor.

    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.
  • The Undertaker 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 
  • 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.
  • Fable II: Any male hero with Evil and Pure alignments will acquire this look.
  • Ace Attorney: Simon Blackquill probably due to his time in prison.
  • Chronicles of Elyria: The Dras 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.

    Web Animation 
  • BIGTOP BURGER: Cesare is explicitly modeled and named after Dr. Caligari's Cesare. He has the requisite pale skin, black hair, and sunken eyes.
  • Emesis Blue: Fritz takes this appearance after the second time his Resurrective Immortality kicks in, emerging from Jules Archibald's casket at his funeral with a white face, dressed in a black turtleneck.

    Web Comics 
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: The ghost lad from chapter 16. 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.
  • Homestuck: The trolls lend themselves well to this since, as a species, they all have black (or mostly black) hair which tend toward messy hairstyles and eyes that are a bit sunken, but especially Karkat, Equius and Aradia.
  • DICE: The Cube That Changes Everything: Dongtae 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 
  • 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".
  • Teen Girl Squad: Parodied with What's Her Face's sickly bunkmate, who is literally a raccoon.
  • Longbox of the Damned: Moarte dresses like a 19th century magician, and has pale white skin, black lips, and dark circles beneath his eyes. The entire ensemble helps sell his corpse-like appearance.

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane: Viktor has brown hair, visible dark eye bags, and is very thin and pale due to his sickly status.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Aang 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.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / LooksLikeCesare

Media sources: