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Malevolent Masked Men
aka: Malevolent Masked Man

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Reason to fear clowns #287.

"Masks make men cruel."
Adrian Veidt, Watchmen

A group of people wearing masks is never a good sign. Maybe it's the anonymity, the obvious Uncanny Valley, or decades of horror movies ingraining a deep sense of distrust about someone wearing a mask outside of a Masquerade Ball (or even in one, if it's sufficiently creepy). It's because of this dehumanizing aspect that masks are often used by villains, their Gas Mask Mooks, and other Faceless Goons.


This varies by mask:

  • Cowls and Hoods: Not exactly a mask, but used commonly enough to merit mention. A simple bag or cloth over the head, may be a creepy Sackhead Slasher getup or may be worn by an altogether nice Super Hero.
  • A Domino Mask, one that covers only the eyes, is a traditionally heroic mask. The Ghost Who Walks and The Spirit being two classic examples. However, it may also be worn by comedy criminals, such as the Beagle Boys.
  • Ski masks: If worn anywhere other than on the slopes in winter, often associated with criminals or terrorists. Masks that cover everything except the eyes are also associated with Ninjas and can be either good or evil.
  • If the mask covers the top half of the face, it emphasizes the mouth, aka gluttony: Never a good sign. Unless of course, it's to show a Lantern Jaw of Justice instead. Or the character wearing the mask is a Char Clone.
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  • If it covers a symmetric side of the face (left or right) then it's fairly neutral... except for the part where it is likely hiding a decidedly nasty scar. See The Phantom of the Opera (well, its adaptations). The same thing can be done with Peek-a-Bangs.
  • Masks that cover the lower half of the face are likelier to be worn by the cannibalistic, or someone whose lower face is likely very damaged (as in, no jaw). They're also frequently worn by bandits in the Old West (possibly to keep out dust), as well as by ninjas who don't do full masks, and Gangbangers to conceal their identities and/or broadcast what gang they're with.

A full face mask is perhaps the most ominous of the lot, varying by type:

  • Abstract Mask: Similar to the Uncanny Valley mask below, the abstract mask is a haunting, unidentifiable mess meant solely to frighten and distract the victim from their oncoming demise. See Scream.
  • Animal Mask: The kind you would see at a kid's birthday party. When worn by an adult (or several of them) it brings to mind not animal cuteness, but savagery.
  • Clown Mask: As pictured above, nothing says "evil" like a clown, add in the faux cheerful mask and it gets ratcheted to another level.
  • Mardi Gras/Venetian: Nothing says "you're going to die violently" quite like the festive and cheery masks worn in Mardi Gras or a Venetian carnival.
  • The Executioner: Totally concealing, made of leather or sackcloth, probably black as the robes of a Hanging Judge. Someone has decided you deserve to die for your sins, and if this masked figure is after you it intends to carry out that sentence.
  • Monster face: Usually used by the Cult and members of the Secret Circle of Secrets, in homage to their dark masters.
  • Plain and featureless: A blank, featureless (such as White Mask of Doom) mask emphasizes the anonymity it grants the wearer... which usually means they mean to do harm, do not want you to know who they are, and want you to freak out because you do not know.
  • Rage Helm: Designed to make a soldier or warrior look more fearsome. The soldier actually wearing the helm may or may not be as mean as the helmet makes him look.
  • Uncanny Valley: Almost human masks are usually worn by criminals, be they kidnappers or Serial Killers. It may be to establish a Stepford Smiler like connection to "personality as a mask". See The Strangers.
  • Last but not least... the Nixon Mask! Almost exclusively associated with bank robbers out to make a political statement. Expect a witty pun along the lines of "I am not a crook!"

See also Faceless Goons, Gas Mask Mooks, Scary Shiny Glasses, and Henohenomoheji. White Mask of Doom is a common subtrope. Compare Cool Mask and Coat, Hat, Mask. When combined with the classic Black Cloak, it's the uniform of a Secret Circle of Secrets. When the mask itself is malevolent, that's Evil Mask. See also Makeup Is Evil.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Friend from 20th Century Boys has his signature eye-finger symbol mask, but earlier wore a cartoony monkey mask. And it made him no less awesome.
  • Masquerade from Bakugan Battle Brawlers and his Expy Spectra from Bakugan: New Vestroia.
  • Boris from Beyblade.
  • Black Bullet's Hiruko Kagetane fits this to a T. He wears a white mask that covers his face and has black wide lines to represent the eyes and mouth, and he is a Troll dedicated to causing chaos.
  • Bleach:
    • Hollow masks
    • A group of people Vandenreich members, to be exact, invaded Yamamoto's office. They were so heavily masked and clothed it was impossible to tell even gender. They definitely weren't there to discuss tea ceremony lessons.
  • Case Closed
    • Mixed with Bandaged Face in one case, where a man who kept his HEAVILY scarred face under bandages commits suicide... and his Smug Snake brother in law uses it to fuel his Evil Plan.
    • Also, the Villain Protagonist in Yusaku Kudo's books is the Night Baron, a high-class thief with a mask. More than once, someone has dressed up as the Night Baron. And once, with fatal consequences.
  • Shirley's nightmare in Code Geass has everyone wearing masks, laughing creepily. Also the mask worn by the Anti-Hero Zero.
  • Hei, from Darker Than Black, wears an Uncanny Valley White Mask of Doom which looks like the child of V's mask and Jigsaw's. While we know him as an Anti-Hero, most of the rest of the cast would see him as at worst a terrorist and assassin and at best very scary.
  • In Dorohedoro there's a whole city of them (Everyone get their mask as part of a contract with daemons). Most of them are malevolent, or worse, but with the Black-and-Grey Morality of the setting, you can never be really sure.
  • Turkey from Hetalia: Axis Powers is a subversion, and more often than not Played for Laughs. Yes, he was VERY unpleasant in the past to many nations (young Greece, young Hungary, the Italies, Spain), but after having gone from the personification of the Ottoman Empire to the one of the Republic of Turkey, he's portrayed as a Hot-Blooded Jerk with a Heart of Gold who's actually rather fun to hang out with. Unless you're the now grown-up Greece.
  • In High Rise Invasion, the main villains are a group of individuals wearing white masks who seek to drive the protagonists to commit suicide, or failing that, just kill them outright.
  • The intro of Higurashi: When They Cry had Rika wearing a Kitsune mask.
  • In Holyland, Ryuu puts a mask on after his first fight with Yuu, for no obvious reason though.
  • Lupin III:
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's has the villainous Mysterious Protector.
  • Char Aznable of Mobile Suit Gundam. Probably the most famous masked villain in anime.
  • Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water: Lord Gargoyle and Neo Atlan members wear these at all times. Besides slight resemblance to his voice actor, Lord Gargoyle's face is completely unremarkable.
  • A few characters in Naruto wore masks, including Tobi and Kakuzu. Orochimaru sometimes pulled off the face he wore like it was just a second skin to reveal a different face behind it. Sometimes, the second skin actually was someone's skin...
    • Recent chapters have revealed the probable reason for Tobi's mask. He's not Madara like he claimed, just the person to inherit Madara's plan.
    • The Leaf's ANBU wear animal-themed masks that completely cover their faces. Mist ANBU and hunter-nin wear white masks with patterns resembling flowing water painted on them.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi has Kagetarou wearing an abstract mask. In addition, several of Fate's minions seem to wear masks.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion had the Angel Sachiel wearing something that looked a lot like a mask. Arguably, Lilith also qualifies.
  • The Knights of Paris in Noir.
  • CP9 in One Piece before The Reveal of their identities.
  • The Iron Mask Marauder from Pokémon 4Ever.
  • The Mask of Ice and his underlings in the Gold/Silver/Crystal arc of Pokémon Adventures.
  • Remina: The black cloak and hood-wearing cultists who want to sacrifice Remina.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, one of Aoshi's Elite Mooks, code-named hannya, wears the eponymous mask as his mask (his unmasked face isn't that much more pleasant looking).
    • Gein wears a black and white cloth with an abstract skull on it over his face.
  • The members of the Arachnophobia organisation in Soul Eater all wear a White Mask of Doom usually worn over a black hood and cloak. Some of them wear their masks over normal clothing, but with the clothes pulled up over the neck so none of their head can be seen.
  • Several minor criminals in Tiger & Bunny tend to wear one. In a more comedic version, Karina, Antonio, Nathan and Keith pretend to be burglars to surprise Barnaby for his birthday. The former three were wearing black ski masks while the latter was In the Hood with Sunglasses at Night.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, masks are an important aspect of life for ghouls. They take numerous steps to conceal their identities when hunting or fighting, favoring hoodies or cloaks and custom-made personal masks. Gangs often adopt a theme for their outfits, with groups like the dog-masked Black Dobers and the Clowns. Masks not only help prevent the CCG from discovering their faces, but help with intimidating others and establishing a reputation. As such, running into a person wearing a Cool Mask is generally a sign you're about to be eaten....
  • Darcia from Wolf's Rain has two. The first is a blank mask with a built-in Eyepatch of Power, but the second is a smiling White Mask of Doom with an eye hole to expose his wolf's eye.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!'s Battle City arc has villains of the week Luna and Umbra.
    • This was significant as it marked an "upgrade" of sorts from the first time they had appeared in the show. The masks (which where the half-faced variety, hiding their left and right side respectively) also hid the microphones and earpieces they were using to communicate with one another.

    Comic Books 
  • Both the protagonist and villain in a 28 Days Later comic book use a riot mask and a hockey mask, respectively.
  • The eponymous Order of Beasts wear full face animal masks in the Batman Elseworlds book Batman: The Order of Beasts.
  • Burlap: Two members of Cottontail's gang, Bones and Cottontail himself, wear masks.
  • Deathstroke wears an orange and blue mask with a hole for his one good eye.
  • The Men From N.O.W.H.E.R.E. in Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol wear abstract insectoid masks.
  • The Mask, natch. In Real Life, people wearing masks often report feeling uninhibited. In its original form, this work turns it Up to Eleven with the complete suppression of the inhibitions of the wearer, essentially a possession by the Id. The titular Mask is also a Mask of Power. The result is an ultraviolent Anti-Hero.
  • In The Movement, Those who side with the Movement wear abstract metallic masks that hide their entire face.
  • The Global Peace Agency, of Jack Kirby's O.M.A.C., are a rare subversion: though they have one of the creepiest varieties of mask, they're a peacekeeping group, as the name suggests (though they can be a bit cold at times). In their case, their uniform and mask is so that the agent's identity and ethnicity cannot be determined, implying solidarity across the group's multinational membership.
  • Oxymoron: Oxymoron's white mask, hiding his true identity. Later, people start to follow his example, dressing as him and going on killing sprees. There's an unmasking scene at the end, but it remains The Unreveal.
  • Mazikeen the demon from The Sandman wears a half-mask to cover the left side of her face, which is missing the skin, cheek, and part of the jaw.
  • Spider-Man has a full face mask. He's not actually malevolent but it has been occasionally suggested the full mask is one of the reasons he has such a bad public image. People think this applies to him.
  • V from V for Vendetta wears a grinning Guy Fawkes mask. Self-identifies as a villain.
  • In Watchmen, Rorschach has the abstract/featureless version.
    • As does Hooded Justice. Both he and Rorschach are very protective of their "real" identities; the Comedian also has a full-face mask but seems to have adopted it to hide his facial disfigurement rather than to protect his face from view.
      • Also, like a Mardi Gras mask, the hedonistic overtones of a gimp mask promise ultraviolence. It also matches his belief that "the joke" is that people aren't better than animals and lets him shove that in people's faces by looking like a violent pervert in service of the government.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: The only members of the blackmailing murderous "International Spies, Inc." to be seen without a mask is their leader, Countess Draska Nishki.
  • The Beagle Boys in the Disney Ducks Comic Universe play this for laughs (most of the time). There is, in fact, a tabboo among disney artists against depicting the gang without their Domino Masks, frequently turning it into a Running Gag. When they were shown before getting their masks in The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, their faces were always framed in shadows, just of-panel, hidden by scenery, or, in one case, their eyes were perfectly visible, while the rest of their face was covered in muck. The few cases of their eyes being shown without the masks can mostly be chalked up to inexperienced artists not being familiar with the taboo.

    Fan Works 
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic story Asylum has the "plague doctor", a sinister-looking creature that appears in the shadows and can only be seen by Twilight. Though whether or not he's real or just in Twilight's head, is hard to say and the creator has teased with the idea, that he may not be evil.
  • Bird features the appropriately-named 'Masked Man'. A horrifying juggernaut that stalks the halls of Alchemilla wearing what looks like the cross between a neck brace and a torture implement of some sort. In canon he was a Flat Character called Hatchetface, but his appearance, role, and mannerisms in Bird are all shout-outs to Pyramid Head.
  • The End of Ends has Count Logan, who wears a chromed silver version of Slade's mask and wearing a top hat and a greenish jumpsuit. The mask's plain and featureless detail definitely makes Logan anonymous, as he is secretly the Superpowered Evil Side of Beast Boy.
  • The Masqueraders in Iron Touch are a group of Stand users that only become aggressive when they see another person's Stand. A select few of them also stole the Requiem arrow from Giorno, kickstarting the plot.
  • The New Adventures of Invader Zim: Near the end of Season 1, when Zim starts to organize his rebellion against the Tallest, he creates a new persona called "Miz" to serve as a figurehead. In order to conceal his identity, he wears a disguise composed of a cloak and a red mask in the shape of a stylized Irken face. Season 2 shows that his newfound followers start copying the look when carrying out attacks.

    Films — Animation 
  • The villain of Big Hero 6, Yokai, hides their identity behind a kabuki mask and while their ultimate goal is unknown, they still manage to look creepy as hell. Their lack of dialogue does not help.
  • Screenslaver, a major antagonist of Incredibles 2, has a full mask that covers their entire head with no exposed skin. This is unusual, as no other character hero or villain thus far has a mask covering their entire face.
  • Subverted in The Nightmare Before Christmas. The three shady trick-or-treaters, Lock, Shock, and Barrel, wear masks all the time, but in their introductory scene they take them off, revealing faces that look exactly the same.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A Classic Horror Story: The group find that they're being harassed in the house by a large group of people wearing masks made from bark and antlers. They appear to be intent on sacrificing them to the three deities that they worship. They're actually actors working for Fabrizio, helping him make his Snuff Film.
  • The Anderson Tapes, as seen on the poster.
  • Batman:
    • Batman Begins: The Scarecrow wears a burlap sack sewn into the form of deranged scarecrow. He uses a gas that induces waking nightmares.
    • The Joker and his henchmen in the opening of The Dark Knight don clown masks to rob the bank.
    • Bane in The Dark Knight Rises has a breathing apparatus. Batman sure has a knack for fighting evil masked men.
  • In the film adaptation of Stephen King's Battleground, The Nameless hitman wears a flesh-coloured latex face mask when carrying out his hits. This has the benefit of making him look normal at a distance while still hiding his features.
  • Berkshire County: Kylie and the kids are being stalked by three people in pig masks.
  • In The Black Hole, the formerly human crew members of the Cygnus wear smooth, featureless metal full face masks.
  • Curse of the Crimson Altar: In one of his dreams, Robert finds himself being tried by a Joker Jury of cultists wearing creepy animal masks.
  • In Dagon there is a cult wearing human skin masks.
  • Makkabeus and his cultists in Damnatus.
  • Dragnet (1987). The Evil High Priest wears a goat mask to hide the fact that he's actually the Reverend Whirley.
  • In Even Lambs Have Teeth, the Pastor visits the sex slave ring and rapes the girls while wearing a really creepy pig mask.
  • The killer in Evidence hides their identity behind a welding mask.
  • Eyes Wide Shut: Everyone at the creepy orgy wears a fancy mask, many based on the commedia dell'arte.
  • In Fantasy Island (2020), J.D. and Brax have their hedonistic fantasy interrupted when they are taken hostage by a gang of heavily armed men wearing creepy rubber masks. J.D. is only able to describe them to the soldiers in terms of the masks they are wearing (devil, clown, pig, etc.).
  • In The Final, the outcasts become this when they swap their party costumes for their torture outfits, which have scary masks. The effect is enhanced because, initially, Dane is the only one to speak, while the others stand by in eerie silence.
  • Satoris' wrestler Mooks in The Final Sacrifice.
  • General Klytus, commander of Ming the Merciless's secret police force in the Flash Gordon movie, wore a golden mask.
  • The Friday the 13th franchise has Jason and his iconic hockey mask, which he starts wearing in the third film. In the second, he wears a burlap sack.
  • Michael Myers in the Halloween series, with his modified William Shatner mask.
  • The killer in He's Out There wears a full-face fitted leather mask that looks like it's sewn to his head.
  • Hold the Dark: Both Medora and Vernon Slone wear wolf masks when they do creepy or violent things.
  • Holidays: The cult in St. Patrick's Day all wear creepy animal head masks.
  • The gang of bank robbers in Hooded Angels wear elaborate hoods that conceal their entire heads, to the point where the only thing witnesses can describe about the robbers is the hoods.
  • In John Doe: Vigilante, John Doe wears an expressionless flesh coloured mask as part of his disguise. His followers, the S4D movement, wear similar masks, but theirs are white.
  • In Kick-Ass, the men who are in the live internet broadcast of the torture video of Kick-Ass and Big Daddy are masked with balaclavas, with the exception of one man who wears a red supervillain mask. Katie Deauxma, originally excited to see a video of Kick-Ass's retirement, stops smiling as soon as a balaclava-clad man appears and introduces a kidnapped Kick-Ass to the viewers. In a draft script the "Baby Goon" brings supervillain masks, but the "Sporty Goon" rejects them and asks for balaclavas instead; however "Baby" gets to keep his supervillain mask.
  • The bank robbers in Killing Zoe all wear creepy, Venetian-style masks.
  • The elves in Krampus are a gang of demonic creatures with terrifying masks covering their faces.
  • The evil ChromeSkull from the Laid to Rest movies is so named because of his signature mirrored skull mask.
  • Lord Humungus from Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior wears a white hockey mask that he never removes, which contrasts with his Exposed to the Elements body. Immortan Joe from Mad Max: Fury Road wears a skeletal half-mask with respirator hoses bolted to it. The mooks of both warlords also often wear masks, both to add to their air of menace and to shield their faces from dirt, 'guzzoline' fumes, and desert sand.
  • Downplayed in Magnum Force where the police death squad wear their own motorcycle helmets and sunglasses during their kills. While it's used to obscure their identities until Dirty Harry discovers who they are, it also gives them a sinister mien.
  • The villains of Masked Avengers wear monster masks.
  • In Maximum Overdrive, autonomous semis are the biggest threat to the Muggles, but the one sporting a grinning Green Goblin mask is especially chilling.
  • In The Mystery of the Hooded Horsemen, Tex Ritter battles a band of malevolent outlaws who wear hoods that give them more than a passing resemblance to The Klan.
  • In Nightbreed (1990), the serial killer Dr. Decker wears a bondage/scarecrow mask.
  • In No Time to Die, villain Safin wears a broken white Kabuki-like mask presumably to hide the scars that wrinkle his face.
  • One Night in October: Each story in the movie features these.
    • Michelle is assaulted and tied up in her house by a woman wearing a silver Mardi Gras-like Domino Mask.
    • Marcos, Kate, Britnee, and Charlie are attacked by a man wearing a scarecrow mask.
    • Emma's stalker wears a silver skull mask.
  • Pet Sematary (2019): It is debatable if they are actually malevolent, but the kids in the animal masks who stage the funeral procession are creepy as hell. And, according to Louis' newspaper search, this is a ritual that has been going on for a very long time.
  • The three silent hunters Hunting the Most Dangerous Game in Preservation all wear featureless masks.
  • Subverted in The Princess Bride.
    [as the Man in Black is climbing up the cliff toward them]
    Fezzik: [to Inigo] You be careful. People in masks cannot be trusted.
  • Masks are ubiquitous in The Purge series. Most purgers wear garish carnival-style masks and costumes of some kind or another, partially for the intimidation factor, but probably also to conceal their identities and prevent illegal retaliation during the rest of the year. The various government-backed death squads and mercenaries that appear in most installments, being Faceless Mooks, also wear masks and helmets that are usually less outrageous-looking, but no less frightening.
  • David Lynch's Rabbits (also included in INLAND EMPIRE) are people wearing rabbit costumes. Impressively, they never look Narmful, even when finally seen up close.
  • Pavi's faces from Repo! The Genetic Opera are a little of this and a little of Uncanny Valley Makeup. They're skinned off women he particularly likes and held onto his face with metal clips, and underneath, he's horribly scarred, but they have an uncanny factor about them all on their own.
  • The Wheelers in Return to Oz wear horrifying masks, and are Mombi's henchmen, trying to capture Dorothy in the film. That said, the novelization states they were enslaved by Mombi under threat of being turned to stone like the other denizens of Oz...not that they're any less terrifying because of it, though.
  • The Jigsaw Killer of Saw has a freaky Uncanny Valley mask along with a pig's head mask.
  • The Scream series gives us the Ghostface killer, who can occasionally be a Malevolent Masked Woman.
  • The killers in Scream Park sport a scarecrow mask and a Plague Doctor mask.
  • Shows up in plenty of Shaw Brothers period pieces. Notably the Masked Gang from Masked Avengers, the Venom Clan Masters from Five Deadly Venoms, the murderous Serial Killer wearing a skull mask in Human Lanterns, and the hooded assassins from Buddha's Palm.
  • Hannibal Lecter first sported his iconic restraining muzzle in The Silence of the Lambs despite only appearing for a single scene in an already brief performance. It was bought back for both the sequel and prequel.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Cited by J. Jonah Jamison as his rationalization for mistrusting Spider-Man in the first Sam Raimi-directed movie. "Why's he wear a mask? What's he got to hide?"
    • The Green Goblin sports a mask of a monster that's frozen in a kind of gleeful scowl, unlike his comic book counterpart, which gives him something of a slasher movie villain vibe.
  • Star Wars has Darth Vader, Boba Fett, General Grievous, the Stormtroopers, and Kylo Ren. The Jawas aren't that evil, but they probably count.
    • Also; The Guavian Death Gang (other than their leader, Bala-Tik).
  • The Strangers are a group of people who terrorize a pair of suburban homeowners while hiding their faces behind a white doll mask, a pin-up girl mask, and a white sack.
  • The killers in Surveillance wear creepy masks that look like melting flesh.
  • The attendants of the masked ball from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, where the "Poor Thing" scene takes place, wear animal masks. It's exactly as nightmarish as it sounds.
  • The Foot Clan in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014). They've switched out their fabric masks for silver face masks with sunglasses.
  • Leatherface of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, who wears a variety of masks made of human skin to hide his deformed face.
  • Naturally, this is all over Trick 'r Treat, with Sam (in a scarecrow mask), the Undead Children (dressed as Halloween staples), and the masked vampire (in a Venetian mask) who turns out to be a Serial Killer using fake fangs.
  • In Who Am I (2014), the hacker group CLAY wears clown masks for their activities. Also everybody in the Darknet environment is wearing a creepy mask of some sort.

  • Martin Lake, a character in Jeff VanderMeer's Ambergris collection City of Saints and Madmen, is invited to a very grim event and met there by three men. One wears a raven mask, one a heron, and the last an owl. Lake is afraid of birds to begin with. He's also dressed as a frog, who could be eaten by any one of them.
  • In The Belgariad, the Grolim priesthood wears steel masks when they want to be intimidating, such as in combat or when attending their religious duties. They wear these in imitation of their god, whose mask covers his maimed face.
  • The cultists in Diario de un Zombi wear formless wax masks. These actually serve a purpose as they confuse zombies and makes recognizing them as humans difficult for them.
  • In the Gaunt's Ghosts series, the Blood Pack, (a Khornate Chaos cult) wear hideous metal masks, often with exaggerated hooked noses or chins. The masks of the rank and file are typically black while the officers wear more elaborate masks of gold or silver.
  • Death Eaters in Harry Potter. hey are a terrorist group of wizards and witches, led by the dark wizard Lord Voldemort, who seek to purify the wizarding community by eliminating wizards and witches born to non-magical parents. Their typical attire includes black hooded robes and masks.
  • In Michael Moorcock's Hawkmoon saga, the evil and deranged people of Granbretan wear elaborate animal masks all the time, and would rather be seen naked than unmasked.
  • Claquesous from Les Misérablesonly addresses his accomplices in the most absolute darkness, and with his back turned to them. If a candle is brought, he puts on a mask. Most adaptations forget this, though.
  • One of the main differences between Paradise Lost's angelic army is that the rebellious angels are described with rigid helmets that dehumanize them into a blood-thirsty crowd, while the angels are described with no such collectivizing armor. The narrative also emphasizes Satan's full-face crest, which is the first thing in history ever to be attacked.
  • The Phantom of the Opera: a deformed conjurer also referred to as the Angel of Music and the Opera Ghost. He tutors and eventually becomes obsessed with Christine Daaé. He has no nose, and his eyes are sunken so deep in his skull that all that is seen are two eye sockets, except when his yellow eyes glow in the dark. His skin is yellowed and tightly stretched across his bones, and only a few wisps of dark brown hair are behind his ears and on his forehead. He wears a full face mask to hide his deformity.
  • The Watraii in Star Trek: Vulcan's Soul. They're introduced as a band of masked aggressors threatening Romulan colonies; their masks are noted as making them particularly sinister. This isn't why they wear them (the actual reason is more to do with their own feelings than instilling fear in others), but their blatantly threatening manner and concealment of identity are clearly linked.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 12 Monkeys: The Witness wears a plague doctor outfit, complete with a creepy bird-like mask. Starting with the end of Season 2, his minions in the Army of the Twelve Monkeys start wearing them too.
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?:
    • The episode called "The Tale Of The Twisted Claw" had a group of older kids wearing masks of some kind and bullying these two trick-or-treaters.
    • "The Tale Of The Many Faces" was all about people wearing masks, and asked the question "Is it our masks (faces) that define who we are?" The villain in the episode stole girls' faces and wore them to keep herself young. The girls' faces she stole were left with fish lips and white eyes, so they were given masks to cover up their ugliness.
  • Iron Mask in BIMA Satria Garuda, one of the main villains.
  • In Chinese Paladin, the Lunar Sect Cult devotees wear full-face masks with a subtle animal motif to emphasize their brainwashed, dehumanized position.
  • Sqweegel on CSI — not only a mask but a whole body suit.
  • CSI: NY:
    • Season 1's "Rain" had clown masks being used in a bank vault robbery. An explosion caused an outline of a mask to get seared into one guy's face.
    • Season 9's "Civilized Lies" had three guys mugging an off-duty cop. They all wore identical masks of their mentor's face to avoid identification.
  • Doctor Who:
    • A group of clockwork robots who try to pose as eighteenth-century French humans by wearing creepy white masks.
    • "The Empty Child" had a boy wearing a gas mask who infected people — who end up with faces like gas masks.
  • In Flash Forward, mooks working for the show's big conspiracy wear clown masks.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The Sons of the Harpy wear scary, golden masks and they are really malevolent men.
    • The Mountain becomes this after Qyburn reanimates him. As the name suggests, and combined with his lust for killing, the Mountain is essentially one step away from joining the ranks of Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers.
  • The pilot episode of Ghost Writer had as its antagonists a group of backpack-snatching kids in goblins masks.
  • In the Heat of the Night: The Season 2 finale "Missing" sees acting police chief Tom Dugan note  and the officers investigating a series of race-related murders near Sparta. In the final scene, Dugan, working undercover for the FBI to solve the murders, is lured to a secluded forest area on a false tip and is ambushed and killed (shot repeatedly) by two men wearing pig masks.
  • Luther has Cameron Pell, who commits brutal murders while wearing a Punch mask, in order to create a striking and memorable image as well as hiding his identity.
  • The Prisoner (1967) final episode "Fall Out". The rows of Village members wearing white/black masks as well as Number One wearing a white/black mask ''and'' a gorilla mask. And maybe, maybe not, a Number Six mask.
  • Squid Game has the people behind the eponymous Deadly Game. The rank-and-file staff wear pink hooded coveralls and a face-concealing mask with a shape denoting their duties: circles for general staff, triangles for security, and squares for management. The Front-Man, who oversees the games, wears a black mask resembling a polygona face with a dark grey hoody. The VIPs, who finance the games, wear animal masks.
  • Torchwood: Miracle Day has a cult, all wearing white masks and marching in the streets. Since they were never even slightly relevant to the plot in any way at all ever, it's likely that this trope was invoked just to have an epic freaky cult marching in the streets for the trailers.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "The Masks," involved a dying old man wearing a death mask and forcing his greedy family to wear masks that reflected their personalities. Unfortunately, when the old man finally dies, the family members' faces change to resemble their masks.
  • Van Helsing (2016): They're not "men", but this trope still applies to the vampire faction known as the Sisterhood, who all wear creepy skull face masks.
  • Wynonna Earp: The demonic minions of Bulshar (Season 3 Big Bad and Greater-Scope Villain of the series) are all dressed up in concealing outfits that resemble beekeeper uniforms.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • In keeping with the plural name of this trope, heel masked tag teams have been very successful over several decades and numerous federations: examples include DOOM, The Executioners, The Assassins, and The Super Destroyers.
  • A masked brute named some variation of "Super" or "Machine" is a Stock Character in professional wrestling. In addition to the Super Destroyers, Big Van Vader became "Super Vader" in the Universal Wrestling Federation due to New Japan Pro-Wrestling trademarking the name. The legendary trainer of the original Rey Misterio, Atila, had a Masked Luchador gimmick known as "Black Machine" before he and Atila were revealed to be one in the same towards the end of his career in 1995.
  • Kane debuted as a Malevolent Masked Man, though he did briefly remove the mask.
  • In 2004, Prince Nana introduced two weapons of MASK destruction to Ring of Honor for the purpose of defeating Jay Lethal, though they both failed. A third MASK was used when he was low on wrestlers for the trios tournament in 2005. He also had Abyss in his Embassy.
  • After its transition to being a women's company, WSU had a problem with a masked assailant, who turned out to be Mercedes Martinez taking out her frustrations since she wasn't medically cleared to wrestle.
  • Erick Rowan of The Wyatt Family wears a Sheep Mask.
  • Progress Wrestling had The Faceless, up until they unmasked and revealed themselves as The Origin. El Ligero still qualifies in The Origin however, as he is a Masked Luchador
    • Jimmy Havoc sometimes uses these as part of his entrance. Jimmy himself wears a mask that covers his mouth, resembling a surgeon's mask covered in spikes.

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, the Dark Dragon grabs a surgical mask from the nurse's office after he blows it up and marks it with an evil grin. The fashion passes down to the villainous Dark Dragon group in the future, whose members wear half-masks to mark them as a member.
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, the Totenkopfs wear masks that resemble human skulls and aim to bring about the end of the world.
  • Ruby Quest's Ace always wears a beak/Plague Doctor-like mask that covers his whole face. Erm, or should we say the mass of tentacles that replaces his face.
  • Survival of the Fittest has Blood Boy, who wears a smiley face mask to hide his mutilated face.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the BattleTech universe, Clan warriors are issued full face animal masks reflecting their Clan's totem to wear for ceremonial purposes. Further, the mercenary known as The Bounty Hunter is also only ever seen masked
  • The Fiend Folio, another Monster Manual of the 3.5 edition of Dungeons & Dragons, introduces the Ethergaunts, coldly rational and atheistic aberrations from the Ethereal Plane who are color-coded for your convenience and also sport featureless masks over their faces... which is fortunate since their faces are truly horrifying.
    • In the Forgotten Realms setting, Rashemen witches cover their faces with masks at least in public. It's more of a subversion since at least in 3.5 cannot be of evil alignment.
  • Games Workshop games:
    • Warhammer:
      • Balthasar Gelt, Supreme Patriarch of the Imperial Colleges of Magic, wears a Greek-style gold facemask at all times. As a master of the Lore of Metal it's a reasonable enough affectation to adopt for him, but since he also wears thick robes, gloves and boots at all times, speculation is rife as to what exactly it is he's using the mask to conceal.
      • Many Dark Elves wear daemon masks to present a horrific aspect to their fellows and enemies, especially the gladiatorial Sisters of Slaughter and some Doomfire Warlock horsemen.
      • Elf scouts of all kinds — High Elf Shadow Warriors, Dark Elf Shades and Dark Riders and Wood Elf Waywatchers — tend to favour the lower-face cloth mask, occasionally tending towards full ninja-mask territory.
      • The Orc Shaman Wurrzag ud ura Zahubu wears a very large wooden witch-doctor mask as a symbol of office (and because it shoots green fire out of the eyes!)
      • The Masque of Slaanesh, a daemonic dancer who has fallen from its patron's favour, carries a pair of reversible theatrical masks on a stick — one for Tragedy, one for Comedy — as part of its trappings.
      • Many of the Tomb Kings of Khemri and their undead servants go to battle wearing the elaborate golden death masks they were buried with. As does the Slann relic-priest Venerable Lord Kroak. A few other lizardmen, such as the skink Tiqtaq'to, emulate this look with their own all-enclosing gold masks.
      • Asuryan, king of the Elven gods, is usually depicted wearing a faceless mask divided laterally into white and black halves. This represents his role as keeper of balance and order.
    • In Mordheim, the Carnival of Chaos warband uses grotesque carnival masks to conceal its hideous mutations and get close to citizens of the Empire to spread its plagues for Father Nurgle.
    • In Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, the Kairic Acolytes wear twisted masks resembling the daemonic servants of their god that these mad cultists believe that these masks represent their true face.
    • Warhammer 40,000:
      • The Blood Angel captain Erasmus Tycho wears a phantom of the opera-style part-mask to conceal the permanent rictus grin he is disfigured with. The Sanguinary Guard of the Blood Angels sometimes wear full sculpted death-masks to acknowledge the sacrifice of their primarch Sanguinius.
      • Eldar Harlequins wear a variety of carnivalesque, abstract, horrifying, blank, and uncanny masks to express their characters in the great masque that is their calling. Of particular note is the Shadowseer, playing Fate, whose mask is featureless, mirror-like, and reflects the destiny of whoever looks into it.
      • The helmets of Eldar aspect warriors function as ritual masks, allowing an Eldar to don and cast aside his or her war aspect and keep it separate from daily life.
    • In Necromunda, the Redemptionists and House Cawdor all wear masks of one kind or another for religious reasons — a combination of promoting humility, intimidating rivals, and not wanting to be identified. The Cawdors tend to favour simpler domino masks and strips of cloth, while the Redemptionists have far more elaborate Venetian carnival-style masks, grinning skulls and KKK-style pointed hoods.
  • The Guardians of the Veil, of Mage: The Awakening, are often viewed as at least creepy and people you shouldn't get involved with (if not viewed as outright malevolent), and much of their symbology revolves around masks such as these. In particular, the Interfector (read: executioner) wears a blank mask with only eyeslits, and bloodstained gloves, whenever appearing in the capacity of Interfector.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
  • Pathfinder has the Gray Gardeners, hooded executioners and enforcers operating in Galt, a country in constant revolution. They maintain the Final Blades, guillotines that claim the souls of their victims (originally to keep their first victims' souls out of the hands of the devils they served but conveniently it also prevents resurrection). In addition to wearing hoods, they cover their faces with gray, silken veils to hide their identities.
    • The country of Cheliax also has the Hellknights, several orders of warriors who emulate the tactics of devils on the battlefield. They're known for being covered in black or gray spiky full plate with terrifying helmets and are brutal enforcers of order and peace. There are also the Gray Maidens, similar enforcers for the Cheliax-founded city-state of Korvosa. The Gray Maidens were an elite, all-female bodyguard systematically tortured into being ruthless enforcers of Queen Ileosa's laws, but their armor also includes a signature face-concealing mask.

    Video Games 
  • The protagonists in Army of Two both wear masks — ostensibly this is to offer head protection, but the designs (a snarling skull and a blank face with no features) are pure Rule of Cool. Incidentally, there are airsoft masks based on both designs and, in case of cheaper, unpainted Chinese versions of Salem's mask (left one) people can attest to the discomforting effect felt when faced with a featureless face and no visible eyes.
  • Assassin's Creed:
  • Ato: Due to the setting of the game, Malevolent Masked Animals might be more accurate. That said, the villains of the game are a mysterious group of masked animals who have kidnapped the warrior's baby.
  • Bayonetta 2 introduces a new character acting as The Rival for Bayonetta, a Lumen Sage wearing a mask that resembles the Sun. Given that he is intent on the death of Loki and fights almost exactly like Bayonetta, using light-themed versions of her moves, he fits this trope to a T. ...or not. He actually has his reasons for wanting to kill Loki (he thinks that he killed his lover), and even then this is because he was a pawn of Loptr.
  • Sammy Lawrence from Bendy and the Ink Machine wears a mask made from a cut-out of Bendy. Considering that Bendy was originally a cartoon demon and is now an Eldritch Abomination, this qualifies as a monster mask. Sammy is also Bendy's so-called prophet.
  • The Splicers from BioShock and BioShock 2 often wear Venetian masks. Possibly justified, as it's stated in Audio-Logs that everything really went to hell in Rapture on New Year's Day. It also helps cover up their ugly deformities from excessive plasmid use and abuse.
    • BioShock Infinite has the Zealots of the Lady, the Columbian Soldiers, and the Vox Populi rebels. The Zealots of the Lady wear what is effectively a Ku Klux Klan robe mixed with Freemason medals so they hide their faces in pointy hoods. The Columbian forces have several masks: women have porcelain masks or metal masks in the shape of Lady Liberty with glowing eyes, and for men, it can be a full face mask or a half-face mask. Vox Populi wear simpler but no less creepy masks ranging from simple bandannas to porcelain masks and hoods with eyes that glow. The DLC Burial at Sea have the splicers, who wear papier-mâché masks, masks made out of mannequin faces, or the masks used at the New Year's Masquerade, again to hide their growing deformities from ADAM abuse.
  • Relius Clover of BlazBlue. A man who sought perfection in everything, a man who turned his family except his son to automatons without conscience, and a man who likes opera very much.
  • Body Blows: Puppet, one of several extraterrestrial fighters introduced in Body Blows Galactic, wears a Venetian style mask that has a similar appearance to those worn by real-life Plague Doctors (though in his case, the beak of the mask is stubby). Considering that the planet he resides on is called "Miasma" (after the Miasma theory of infection for which the plague doctor suits were thought to be able to protect against), it's likely no coincidence.
  • Most human enemies in Borderlands 2 are masked or otherwise outfitted with face-concealing equipment unless they're named (and sometimes even then). In general, you fight two main categories of human enemies. The first are Bandits, who use a haphazard mixture of whatever's available, although some have unique properties — most notably, Goliaths enter a melee-focused rage state and start attacking everything nearby when their crude metal helmets are shot off. The second are Hyperion troopers, who favour a Cyber Cyclops look on their dedicated military and a welding mask for their Engineers. Big Bad Handsome Jack wears a mask based on his own features, to conceal the scars. Among the player characters, two of them are usually or always masked — cold, merciless assassin Zer0, and violently unhinged psycho (that's literally his class) Krieg, who are two of the least ethical people even among the Vault Hunters.
  • Oscar from Brink of Consciousness: Dorian Gray Syndrome is a malevolent masked Magnificent Bastard.
  • Bug Fables has the Leafbug tribe in the Wild Swamplands. They all wear leaf masks, and they're a warrior tribe who attack all outsiders on sight.
  • Dead Rising has the Raincoat Cult. Aside from the obvious, they all go around in Green Goblin-esque masks.
  • Dead Secret has the Woodcutter wearing a Japanese Noh mask and is a killer, who will also attack Patricia, if she is caught. Subverted with the spirit seen wearing the Japanese Oni mask, who is not a threat and usually appears as a way to give wordless clues.
  • The Assassins from Dishonored wear masks. The masks are those of the Whalers and are in no short supply in the city of Dunwall.
    • Corvo's mask counts as one on a high chaos playthrough. But good or evil, the steampunk grim-reaper visage is so shocking that civilians will go into a terror-filled panic if they see you.
  • Dragalia Lost features the villainous group known as the Agito, with each member having their own unique masks and proving themselves to be in one way or another a deadly force that menaces those that they despise. Their masks are an iconic part of their design, with some of their main drops being their mask fragments and in Legend difficulty, a generic evil-looking mask symbolizes the Berserk condition they have. The masks themselves are stated to amplify their emotions, fueling their madness and desire to inflict harm on their opposers even more, with Valyx who was made to wear one proving to be much more aggressive and vicious when wearing one compared to his usual stoic nature otherwise. The one exception that doesn't wear a mask is their leader, Nedrick.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In the Action-Adventure spin-off game Redguard, the lower half of Dram's face is always hidden under his mask.
    • Morrowind:
      • All three Big Bads of the game and its two expansions wear full-face masks into their respective Boss Fights.
      • All three (four, including the Mask of Clavicus Vile) variants of the Daedric helmet are shaped like scary faces.
    • Oblivion:
      • Cultists of the Mythic Dawn will summon special sets of Daedric armor with human-face-shaped masks before combat.
      • The Gray Cowl is a gift of the Daedric Prince Nocturnal which can make its wearer an uncatchable criminal. It is also cursed, and removing the curse is a major part of the Thieves' Guild questline.
    • Skyrim:
      • Most of the named Dragon Priests were given powerfully enchanted masks as symbols of authority. Their cruelty and malevolence was second only to the dragons themselves. They serve as powerful Mini-Bosses throughout the game.
      • Miraak and his cultists in the Dragonborn DLC all wear similar masks.
      • In fact, the only named Dragon Priest who doesn't wear a mask is Vahlok the Jailer, who defeated Miraak long ago and is said to be a good ruler in the legends of the Skaal.
  • EXTRAPOWER Attack of Darkforce: Both the Yami Clan and Tarantula's common foot soldiers wear masks over their faces. At least in the case of Tarantula, there's presumably a face under them.
  • Fallout: New Vegas The White Glove Society. wear masks that cover the lower part of their face. Their leader believes the masks give them a "mysterious allure" but all it does is make them creepier in the eyes of others.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has Legate Gaius van Baelsar and his lieutenants, all of whom wear magitek-empowered suits of armor with face-concealing masks. The Ascians also wear masks that cover the top halves of their faces.
  • The Death Knight and the Flame Emperor in Fire Emblem: Three Houses wear masks that conceal their faces and disguise their voices. The Death Knight's case is a Zig-Zagging Trope: in his initial appearances (as Jeritza), he wears a white Domino Mask that only covers half his face, and he isn't suspected of being the Death Knight until he kidnaps Flayn midway through Part I. In Part II, he ditches both masks on the Crimson Flower route but keeps the Death Knight mask on all others. The Flame Emperor (Edelgard) goes maskless much earlier: during the Holy Tomb raid, she either has it forcibly removed (if the player chose the Blue Lions or Golden Deer), or simply stops wearing it after admitting to being the Flame Emperor (if the player chose the Black Eagles).
  • In Guilty Gear Xrd, the Conclave is a massively powerful governmental force that controls most of the world and is run by a trio of mask-wearing individuals with a vested interest in wiping out humanity.
  • Jacket of Hotline Miami wears a variety of creepy animal masks before each mission. These masks give perks such as making unarmed punches lethal, walking faster, or starting a mission already equipped with a weapon. Later on you find out there's an organization of the animal masked killers...
  • In Kung Fu Chivalry, the third boss wears a metal Greek drama-style mask with eye slits but no other facial features.
  • The Last Door has a yet-unidentified cabal of creepy people in yellow robes wearing expressive white masks that reveal themselves to the protagonist.
  • The Legend of the Mystical Ninja has armies of mooks wearing kyōgen and otafuku masks.
  • League of Legends:
    • Kindred consists of two individuals, both masked. Lamb wears a full face mask in the shape of a wolf, making her appear completely emotionless to fit her personality. Wolf, largely resembling an actual wolf, wears a half-mask which covers the upper part of his face, partially because his jaws extend far out from underneath and partially to emphasize his hunger and gluttony.
    • Jhin wears two masks: one with a plain black leather covering obscuring his entire body and an ornately carved ivory mask on top of it. He acts as a covert assassin for a shadowy cabal, so it would make sense for him to hide his identity, and many of his voice lines reference his killings as being the only true way to express himself.
    Only to the audience do I show my true face."
  • The Legend of Zelda has a boss and some mooks which you must remove a mask from before you can hit them.
    • Lots of different masks appear in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in the Happy Mask Shop in Hyrule Castle Market.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask game is all about masks. There are three masks that can change you into a Zora, Goron, and a Deku Scrub, as well as a whole inventory of masks that you collect and you can wear them, using some of the powers that the masks have. Also at the Carnival Of Time, all the townspeople wear masks as part of a tradition. Then there's the evil Majora's Mask that you must defeat.
    • Hyrule Warriors has Young Link's intro invoke the trope, by having him play his ocarina ominously and then swing around his oversized Kokiri Sword while wearing his Keaton Mask... except it falls off midway through.
  • The Pigmasks in Mother 3. Their general is also specifically known as the Masked Man, but his isn't a pig mask.
  • No More Heroes has characters who wear masks and are extremely dangerous, including:
    • Destroyman, a wannabe superhero wish a masked costume, deadly gadgets, and a twisted mind.
    • Letz Shake, a Singaporean rock star with a mask covering his mouth and an Earthquake Maker superweapon.
    • Harvey Moiseiwitsch Volodarrskii, a stage magician with deadly tricks and a mask covering the left side of his face like The Phantom of the Opera.
    • Dark Star, a Darth Vader expy with a massive dragon-bladed beam katana.
    • Matt Helms, a Psychopathic Manchild wearing a creepy cartoon mask and wielding a combination axe/flamethrower.
    • Badman, the Deuteragonist of Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, a vengeful mask-wearing bat-wielding beer-swilling assassin.
  • Yōko of Onmyōji wears a fox mask, indicating his deceptive nature. He even points this out.
    Yōko: A masked man can't be trusted, can he?
  • The bank robbers of PAYDAY: The Heist all wear creepy clown masks.
    • The sequel PAYDAY 2 sports more heisters with more standard clown masks, and an enormous amount of unlockable and customizable masks, among them more clowns, animals, Santas, pop-culture references, a Plague Doctor, and lots of original masks.
  • Persona:
  • The Armada from Pirate101 all wear white Venetian-style masks. The higher ranked ones have black and gold trim except for Deacon, he wears a solid white Batu. Since they are all clockworks, there is nothing underneath but machinery.
  • The resident villain team of Pokémon Masters, Team Break, lack a full uniform like the others, instead appearing as regular trainer classes wearing a two-tone Domino Mask.
  • The Masked Gentleman from Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask. His sole intent is to destroy the city of Monte d'Or, using all the supernatural abilities the Mask of Chaos gives him. The mask is a fake, his abilities are fake, but the malevolence is real and a fake mask is still a mask, so he still counts.
  • The Butcher from Purgatory (RPG Maker) is an Ax-Crazy Serial Killer who wears a White Mask of Doom.
  • In Red Dead Redemption II, the Van der Linde gang will wear bandannas masking their faces when committing robberies and various crimes, of course. In a case of Surprisingly Realistic Outcome, the game will probably treat it as a Paper-Thin Disguise if the player doesn't make the necessary steps of changing his other clothes too.
  • In Resident Evil, the Umbrella Secret Service all wear gas masks to hide their identities and to protect from the hazardous conditions where they are deployed. The most infamous member, HUNK, has only ever come this close to showing his face (unless you count his alternate costume in the unreleased non-canon Outbreak File #3 which looks considerably different). There's also the unnamed UT Commander that commands the Under Takers.
  • The main villain of Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World- The Prophecy of the Throne is Wolf, who literally refers to himself as "the Malevolent Masked Magician". He has various masks attached to his robe, which he uses to express different emotions.
  • The Masked Man, Big Bad of Rune Factory Oceans, well... wears a mask. Obviously.
  • Thanatos of Secret of Mana - for a 16-bit pixellated fellow he's shockingly eerie, too.
    • His energy-sapped fanboys wear freaky full-faced masks too. NPCs comment on this, too, along the lines of: "What's with all those masked weirdoes in the ruins?"
    • Thanatos's mask is echoed by the one worn by Hakuoro of Utawarerumono, incidentally. It really is the exact same mask writ animated, complete with the quirky little mark at the top of it.
    • Considering Thanatos was in dire need of a new host, plus his true nature as a lich, it may very well be that he isn't wearing a mask at all...
  • Quite a few of the secret societies in The Secret World are in the habit of wearing weird and disturbing masks: Illuminati employees wear gas masks — as can the player character should you choose to join them; Oni almost always wear masks, with members of the Nine Houses dressing in traditional Noh masks or black wrappings, while members of the House-In-Exile wear gas masks to symbolize their allegiance to the Illuminati (except for their leader, who wears a golden Mask of Power); and of course, the Rabbit Killer wears a massive cartoon rabbit mask. And so do her twin sisters.
  • In Sniper Elite III, the main villain of the Save Churchill DLC is a famed German assassin who wears a metal mask to hide a facial disfigurement. He commands a crack squad of snipers who wear similar masks.
  • Star Wars:
    • More than one Sith Lord in Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel. Darth Malak wears not exactly a mask, but a metal prosthetic plate thingy covering his lack of a jaw. Darth Revan wore an abstract/blank mask that emphasizes his mysterious anonymity. Darth Nihilus has a creepy, vaguely skull-like mask that gives him an inhuman look, which is befitting of Nihilus' nature, as he really isn't human anymore. He is, more or less, a living black hole in The Force whose life essence is bound to his mask.
    • Some Sith in Star Wars: The Old Republic carry on the tradition. Notable examples include Darth Malgus, who wears a Malak-style chin guard (like Malak's, it covers an old war wound); Darth Marr, who favors an abstract Revan-style mask that suits his status as an even-keeled figure not given to overt displays; and the Dread Masters, who wear customized red-and-gold masks that emphasize their decadence and inhumanity.
  • From Syndicate (2012), apart from all the Faceless Goons, there's Agent Ramon, the Twins, and Miles yourself from a certain point of view.
  • In Tyranny, the Archon of Justice (and possibly other Archons) appears to wear a shiny metal mask covering his whole face. Considering the kind of ruler he administers "justice" for, he probably qualifies as malevolent.
  • The kidnapper in Welcome to the Game is shown to be wearing a balaclava when he greets you.
  • The thugs of the three Novigrad gangs in The Witcher 3 all cover their faces in various ways. Cleaver's and the King of Beggars' men wear gang-colored and patterned kerchiefs that cover their faces from the nose down, while Whoreson Junior's gang wears clown makeup and various masquerade masks.
  • The Testaments of Xenosaga wear concealing robes, hoods, gloves, and blank face masks; in fact, before each individual Reveal, they're simply referred to by the color of their mask and robes (Black Testament, Red Testament, etc) — this being the only way to tell them apart, other than their voices. At first, not so much malevolent as really, really mysterious, but later in the series, they're definitely antagonists. Except for Albedo. He's The Mole.
  • In Yandere Simulator, if Yan-chan joins the Drama club, she gets access to mask she can use to conceal her identity when she kills someone. However, It Only Works Once; if witnesses note the murderer was wearing a mask, the headmaster will ban them from school grounds. Also, if Senpai witnesses her murder someone while wearing a mask, he'll rip it off her and expose her.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • The Seascum Pirates in Knights of All Realms are lead by Patchface the Pirate, a vicious captain who wears a full face patchwork mask to hide his beautiful face, his personal shame.

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 
  • Pretty much any member of the System in the Cave of Shadows universe. The fact that they stalk and kidnap a blogger just for talking about the organisation brings up their malevolent disposition. For a less threatening but still creepy example from the same universe, see ns0mnby.
  • The Fear Mythos has the Plague Doctor, and many portrayals of the Archangel fall under this trope as well.
  • Lazarus of the Lazarus Mirage projectnote  always wears a mask which is an abstract drawing of a schematic human face. Subverted, as the character isn't supposed to be malevolent at all, although he looks a bit creepy.
  • Marble Hornets:
    • It has a mysterious figure in a simplistic but creepy black-and-white mask who acts as the secondary antagonist (after the Operator) of the first season. Since he's never given a name in canon, fans have affectionately nicknamed him Masky. In later seasons, it's revealed that Masky is actually Tim under the Operator's influence, and that he doesn't even remember being his alter-ego after the fact.
    • In Season 2, we are introduced to another mysterious figure, this time wearing a hood and with their face covered by a black cloth with a red frowny face on it. His name is Hoody.
  • Mission Code High School:
    • the CDU in human form. In episode seven it has a silver mask with green eyes, while Afterwards has it wear a featureless charcoal-grey mask.
    • Chuck the mole who wears a bandana and sunglasses.
    • Inverted with Spike's father Leo, who wears a plain white mask but is a good guy.
  • One Hundred Yard Stare has one mysterious masked man. His gas mask is rather intimidating. Season 2 adds some more.
  • In Positively Dreadful, host Sideburns is held at gunpoint by the War Father, a villain wearing a green Iron Man mask. He is also the first villain on the show not to be completely played for comedy.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Koh the Face Stealer had a centipede body and was able to steal people's faces if they showed any type of emotion on their face when they were around him. If he stole their faces he would wear any of them at his choosing like they were merely masks. Several of these faces were based on traditional Noh masks.
    • Zuko's Blue Spirit mask.
    • Many of the Fire Nation soldiers, especially in the first season, have helmets that double as masks.
  • Belphegor, from the series of the same name, wears a gold-coloured plain and featureless variety, combined with a hood and a black cloak, making his appearance somewhat similar to the Grim Reaper. His mooks all wear the cloth mask variety, with two eye holes but without a mouth hole. Except his two most trusted underlings who surprisingly are unmasked and unnamed.
  • The Equalists from The Legend of Korra:
  • Averted and played straight by, well, M.A.S.K.; M.A.S.K. itself is heroic, VENOM is villainous. Also, the "Masks" are more like helmets; and more emphasis is placed on the converting vehicles.
  • Hawk Moth, Big Bad of Miraculous Ladybug, wears a metal mask that covers his entire face save his eyes and mouth.
  • Scooby-Doo. Every episode. Subverted, inverted, played straight, whatever you can think of.
    Fred: Why are you two so scared? You know it's a fake monster.
    Shaggy: And that's supposed to make me less scared? Who goes running around in a suit of armor?
  • Teen Titans has Slade and Red-X.

    Real Life 
  • Some militaries who use gas masks can look like this to the enemy.
  • The Ku Klux Klan, who infamously wore white pointy face-concealing hoods when engaging in cross-burnings and other acts of political terrorism.note 
  • Cuirassiers (armoured heavy cavalry) of the early 1600s wore helmets with intimidating faces to rattle their opponents and gain confidence.
  • The band Slipknot may or may not be malevolent, but their masks are definitely menacing.
  • Averted with Hollywood Undead. Their masks are not at all menacing, and their Wangsty, Emo/Pretty Fly for a White Guy songs are even less so.
  • The men in the Nick Berg video and other beheading videos. The executioners wear balaclavas and kaffiyeh, so we do not know their real identities.
  • The identical "X Face" masks worn by the band Mushroomhead.
  • Australian industrial death-grind band, The Berserker fits this trope. However, they have recently begun playing without the masks. They're even uglier without them.
  • The teacher in the video for The Birthday Massacre's song Looking Glass was a Malevolent Masked Man.
  • Project chanology of Anonymous protest the actions of The Church of Scientology wearing Guy Fawkes masks to protect themselves from lawsuits and the Church's goons (not that kind), and actually make a point of having a lot of fun in the process. That being said, they are only a tiny fraction of Anonymous' real bulk, most of which seem to treat the Chanology protesters like a drunken cousin dragged around town, singing obnoxiously. 7chan in particular now bans anyone referring to the Chanology incidents and treats them like pariahs. This said, 7chan has possibly one of the most toxic group dynamics known to mankind (assuming that heading even applies anymore) and it tends to crash more often than Polish Presidential flights.
  • For centuries, nearly the entire population of Venice wore masks nine months of the year, like people of other nations wore hats. Only during the hottest summer months they left them home. During the Carnival, they dug out the extra-special decorated masks so popular today. According to foreign visitors, they felt either themselves completely surrounded people of this trope or being in a city of ghosts.
  • GWAR's full-face monster masks, bristling with teeth and Spikes of Villainy. Subverted by stage acts so over-the-top with menace that it wraps around to Campiness.
  • Uncaught serial killers the Zodiac and the Phantom both wore creepy homemade masks during some of their attacks.
  • The Visors on some ceremonial cavalry helmets used by troopers in the Roman army certainly had an intimidating effect. Even if they were more for competition/"tournament" use than field use.
  • Dance group The Jabbawockeez, wear full-face, white masks that also shadow their eyes, hats, and hoodies, and dance with relatively dark lighting. Why? In their own words, they're meant to be 'A figment of your imagination' (as well as to avoid any one dancer standing out above the rest in a performance). And with their choreography and occasionally ghostly performances, it really does look pretty cool.
  • Blackface, despite its obvious racial overtones, has also served this trope in particular contexts. It certainly wasn't unique to minstrel shows: throughout the nineteenth century and even earlier, it turned up in various lower-class settings and phenomena, from street parades to gang violence. And, of course, it was an integral element of the Boston Tea Party of the Revolutionary era. Like other ghoulish makeups, it was in its day a countercultural statement, like sporting a Punk Rock Mohawk or a spiked dog collar. Painting one's face symbolized madness and anarchy, whether in the service of a radical political cause or not; often enough, it was just meant to frighten people. In this sense, blackfaced hooligans did not see themselves as promoting white supremacy any more than Sid Vicious thought he was promoting Nazism by wearing a swastika T-shirt.
  • In NPHC Greek fraternity and sorority probates, new members tend to conceal their identity with masks. New fraternity/sorority members only unmask themselves when they are introduced.
  • In Death Plus Ten Years, Roger Cooper describes his Iranian Secret Police interrogator wearing a white form-fitting mask which he says still gives him nightmares. His interrogator eventually tired of wearing it and had Cooper face the wall instead, warning him that if he saw his face, deliberately or otherwise, he'd push a pen through Cooper's right ear and out the other. Other interrogators never bothered with this, so it's likely the mask was due to paranoia (he was convinced Cooper was a British spy) rather than just to scare him.
  • The clown sightings of 2016, which involved numerous accounts of people in clown costumes and masks, typically standing near forests or stalking around public areas across the world but primarily in the United States. While many of the reports were dubious, there were no accounts of any actual murder or assault. Even so, most cases involved suspects in creepy, demonic, or otherwise deliberately menacing rubber clown masks, indicating a clear attempt to unnerve or frighten witnesses.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Malevolent Masked Man, Malevolent Masked Women, Malevolent Masked Woman


The Demons

The Demons are a masked gang of Chinese terrorists led by Martin Li/Mr. Negative.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

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Main / MalevolentMaskedMen

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