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Skull for a Head

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When skin moisturizing goes horribly wrong.

At first glance, Slugtongue could be mistaken for a death-devil, for his head is little more than a leering, bovine skull...

A character has a skull for a head. This may be because the character is a supernatural being, or due to some disfigurement that makes that character’s head look like a skull. Occasionally used to make a robot look menacing, with a skull instead of a head — see SkeleBot 9000, although this also covers robots whose whole bodies look like skeletons. Fully human characters may paint their faces to look like skulls; done right, this can appear almost as terrifying as the real thing, or arguably even more so.

In all cases of this trope, the rest of the body is relatively normal (i.e., not an animated skeleton.)

A subtrope of Skeletal Appendage. See also Dem Bones, Flaming Skulls, Flying Face, Scary Skeleton, and Skeletons in the Coat Closet. Supertrope to Sinister Deer Skull when said skull is a head, usually connotes a connection to nature. Often overlaps with Obviously Evil. Depending on if it moves, it could possibly be an Expressive Skull. If the rest of their body is attractive, this could be an extreme case of Butterface.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In 3×3 Eyes, after Amara is revived from a single seed he spends the rest of the manga regenerating and thus is stuck with a fleshless skull-like visage. Subverted in that while he's cold and aloof, he's not a bad guy by any stretch.
  • Captain Terror (Pic 1, pic 2) from Speed Racer hides his eyes behind goggles, has an upturned nose exposing his nostrils, and constantly wears an evil grimace giving him a skull faced look.
  • Admiral Perry from Space☆Dandy. He is depicted as a large cloaked being with a crowned skull head with flames and tiny planets orbiting around it. In the last episode of the second season, however, it is revealed that this depiction is actually a hologram to disguise Perry's true form: a middle-aged human man in a business suit. Doesn't make him any less threatening, though.
  • Elias Ainsworth from The Ancient Magus' Bride has a skull that's a cross between a dog's and an antelope's for a head, signifying his non-human nature.
  • Honda-san from Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san has a skull for a head, as you might expect from the title.

  • In William-Adolphe Bouguereau's Dante and Virgil in Hell, the background devil's head appears to just be a black skull. It almost look like The Grim Reaper, which adds another layer to its presence in a scene of two men brutalizing each other.
  • In Edvard Munch's The Scream, the lack of hair, nose and ears, thin face and pale skin give this impression to the androgynous figure. In fact, art historian Robert Rosenblum has suggested the face may be inspired on a similar mummy from the Peruvian Chachapoya people, since Edvard might have seen its exposition in the Ethnographic Museum while he studied in Paris.

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • Deadman is sometimes depicted as just having a skull instead of his daredevil mask, as he was in Kingdom Come.
  • Mr. Bones from Infinity, Inc., Batwoman, and other comics in The DCU. Due to having invisible skin and flesh, he basically looks like a skeleton who can fill out a suit.
  • Mrs. Pruneface (pictured here, and here) from Dick Tracy seemingly has empty black sockets for eyes, nose holes, and tends to grimace showing her teeth, and fangs.
  • Ghost Rider has one that's on fire. However, it can vary from Rider to Rider as to whether it's just the skull, or if it's the whole skeleton.
  • Judge Dredd:
    • Judge Mortis has a cow skull for a head, representing the Horseman Famine.
    • Brit-Cit Inspector Jericho Strange, head of the Endangered Species Squad, has a sheep skull for a head after looking into The Black Mirror.
    • Fink Angel has lost his lips and most of his nose, which makes his face look eerily similar to a skull.
  • The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael: There is a demon who commands Charon, and also has a cow's skull for a head.
  • Transformers:
    • Bludgeon tends to have this; in The Transformers (Marvel) it's just the face of his Pretender shell, but the movie version has this as his main robot head. His Pretender compatriot Skullgrin also has a skull-like head on his Pretender shell, though his resembles a demonic bull rather than a human skull.
    • Megadeath, a comic book only Decepticon.
  • While the original character was just a guy in a omni-present skull mask, some versions of Captain America's Arch-Enemy the Red Skull qualify:
    • After having his consciousness transferred into a cloned duplicate of Captain America's body, the original Red Skull accidentally inhaled a dose of his own "Dust of Death" — a chemical similar in effect to Joker Venom. Ordinarily, the Red Skull's dust kills its victim, while also transforming the head into a red skull. In this case, due to his cloned body's Super-Soldier Serum, the Skull didn't die, but merely gained an actual red skull for a face.
    • The Red Skull's daughter, Sin, suffered a similar fate, but her face looks like a red skull due to relatively "normal" disfigurement — an explosion and severe burn damage.
    • His Ultimate counterpart is Captain America's sociopathic son who skinned his head because of his resemblance to his father.
  • Franklin Richards in Marvel Comics 2 gets a dose of cosmic rays, giving him new energy powers that burn the flesh off his head and require him to wear a mask.
  • Death's Head, a freelance peacekeeping agent who appeared in The Transformers (Marvel) and Doctor Who comics. Though it's more robotic and alien than most examples.
  • Borderline example: the Doom Patrol archvillain the Brain is a Brain in a Jar perched atop a chess piece-like pedestal. The upper portion of the pedestal is designed to look like a skull.
  • The Batman villain the Black Mask originally just wore an obsidian mask. But Cameron Stewart, artist of Catwoman 14 drew him with a blackened skull which later writers picked up on.
  • In the B.P.R.D.-verse, a Nazi supervillain known as The Black Flame had a skull wreathed in black fire. Decades later, one Mr. Pope from Zinco Enterprises takes up the mantle of The Black Flame; he wears a skull-shaped helmet.
  • The Blue Knight of Astro City wears a helmet that projects a holographic skull, giving this effect. In-Universe there's debate as to whether it's actually a projection or not, though what the readers see of him suggests that it is.
  • One What If? story showed a world where Captain America came into being during The American Civil War when Native American magic gave skinny Union soldier Steve Rogers a body to match his heart. His racist commander "Bucky" Barnes was likewise affected by the spell, turning his head into a fleshless skull and causing him to become the villain White Skull.
  • Skully/Cranicola of Brazilian comic Monica's Bug-a-booo is an extreme case: he's a skull that lost its body and lies atop a rock.
  • The Wild C.A.T.s (WildStorm) villain Helspont has a flaming horned skull for a head due to his possession of Acuran host.
  • The Atomic Skull (Joe Martin and Albert Michaels) from Superman. Both of the men have skull wreathed in atomic fire, but very different powers. The former has superhuman strength, agility and endurance which he can further empower with the same energy that he shoots from his hands and mouth. The latter has superhuman strength and stamina, but his main power is using his own bio-electricity to shoot beams of atomic energy from his visor with his radium-powered brain implant.
  • The Justice League of America foe Doctor Destiny started out wearing a mask that conveyed this image. After a lengthy stay in Arkham Asylum, in which the doctors decided to curtail his dream powers by making him unable to dream (and consequently sleep, not that the doctors cared), he reappears in The Sandman (1989) as an emaciated ghoul with a similar motif.
  • Fletcher Hanks' "Mystery Woman of the Jungle" Fantomah transformed into a skull-faced (but still blonde-haired) figure when using her powers.
  • Wonder Woman (Rebirth): Deimos and Phobos accompany their father Ares on the battlefield manifested as giant dogs with their skulls exposed.
  • The Avengers: Taskmaster wears a skull-like mask, though Depending on the Artist, it's only somewhat skull like to fully resembling one.
  • The Ultimate X-Men version of Deadpool features no skin on his face, exposing his skull — outside of the top of it, where it's missing, exposing his brain. The normal human face shape when he wears his mask is the result of a dome over his head.
  • Big Bang Comics: Dr. Doomkopf, Arch-Enemy of Super-Frankenstein, was formerly a top scientist for a hostile foreign power. He was testing an invisibility serum but only succeeded in making the skin, flesh and hair on his head invisible.
  • The Egyptian moon god Khonshu from the Moon Knight franchise is depicted as a humanoid with a skeletal bird head.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • The mechanical Cat Beast from 9 has an actual cat's skull incorporated into its head.
  • Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians, with her sunken cheeks, pushed-up nose and ashen complexion, has the appearance of having a skull for a face.
  • The Horned King from The Black Cauldron is a horned variation. While he's an undead evil sorcerer, the rest of his body looks quite normal compared to his positively skull-like head. That this appears to be his actual is a change from the book, where the Horned King was only described wearing a mask resembling a skull with stag antlers grafted to it.
  • Vinz from Mutafukaz has an actual burning skull for a head. This is lampshaded in one of the films several Fourth Wall breaks, when Angelino questions how Vinz manages to stay alive.
  • When casting his spell on Prince Naveen in The Princess and the Frog, Dr. Facillier has his face painted to look like a skull.
  • A plot twist in Wreck-It Ralph: the character of Turbo, the protagonist of a racing game and Big Bad of the movie, has chalk-white skin, sunken eyes, and yellow, grinning teeth.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Abominable Dr. Phibes, the title character's head is revealed to be little more than a skull with some scarred flesh clinging to it.
  • The hybrid alien from Alien: Resurrection has what can only be described as a skull face.
    • H. R. Giger designed the original Xenomorph costume with a human skull partially visible underneath that smooth bubble head, though it was only barely visible in the original film due to the opaque materials and lighting. Some of the costumes used in the rest of the Alien franchise over the years continued that tradition, and a few Xenomorph designs even had the skull showing through more clearly.
  • The mutated bear from Annihilation (2018) has an exposed skull for a head, and what appears to be part of a human skull fused to one side of its face.
  • The main villain of the fantasy-action film, Dr. Wai in "The Scripture with No Words", had half a face being reduced to a skull after being exposed to the scriptures.
  • In Frankenstein 1970, the monster has a skull for a head as Frankenstein has yet to finish affixing flesh to it.
  • Godzilla: Final Wars: Monster X's head mostly looks like a bestial, elongated skull with glowing eyes in the sockets.
  • The Kurgan in Highlander wore a big cat skull as a helmet in one of Connor’s flashbacks, to obviously invoke that he is the villain. He ditches after his first encounter with a pre Immortal Connor.
  • Kong: Skull Island: The Skullcrawlers have bony armor on their heads causing them to resemble this trope. They also have a pair of large sockets in the sides of their snouts, resembling the eye openings of a skull, though their real eyes are located further back (the sockets probably hold sensory organs, or serve to distract enemies from their actual eyes.)
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger had his previously normal face transformed into a literal red skull due to infusing himself with an incomplete Super Soldier Serum.
  • Unlike most adaptations, The Phantom of the Opera (1925) follows the novel in giving the Phantom a skull-like face with sunken eyes, a nearly lipless mouth, and such oversized nostrils that one character is convinced he has no nose at all, just a hole.
  • The returning monster, Gabora from Shin Ultraman, now has its face depicted in a skull-like visage, hidden behind its head petals, a trait absent in its two previous incarnations.
  • In Star Wars: A New Hope, Elis Helrot, a member of the Givin species, can be seen in the cantina scene.
  • General Kael from Willow wears a helmet with a skull-shaped face plate.
  • In Suicide Squad (2016) Chato Santana, aka "El Diablo" has his face tattooed to look like a skull.
  • Time Bandits. Evil's minions include tall humanoid creatures with giant claws for hands and cow skulls for heads. As seen here.

  • According to Mary Shelley, John William Polidori's original draft for the 1816 ghost writing content was a story about a "skull-headed lady who was so punished for peeping through a keyhole".
  • General Grievous from the Star Wars Expanded Universe — his head/helmet generally resembles a skull.
  • The Headless Horseman in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, albeit briefly.
  • The Dresden Files: In Ghost Story, when Harry and the Lecter Ghosts assault the Nevernever entrance to Corpsetaker's lair, Evil Bob takes the form of a Nazi SS officer with a skull for a head.
  • The Phantom of the Opera: The titular Phantom's deformed face looks sunken, dried, and yellowed like a centuries-old skull, with no nose or lips, hence why he hides away from society. However, Adaptational Attractiveness set in hard for many later portrayals.
  • Thulsa Doom from the Kull stories by Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan the Barbarian (whose movie adaptation appropriated the Thulsa Doom name for a snake-themed wizard much closer to Howard's Thoth-Amon.)
  • While not truly an example, the trope's imagery is still evoked through the name of a villain in Redwall: Skullface. Fittingly, he is the first character to die in the entire series.
  • Perry Rhodan: The alien race "Hauri" is so skinny that they are permanently likened to deadheads. Not surprisingly, they are the villains of a cycle. (Not all of them, since the series in their later years always tries to avoid alien cliches.)
  • Johannes Cabal: The demon Ratuth Slabuth appears as an eye-watering mass of Alien Geometries topped with a horse skull, on which he wears a Roman centurion helmet. He's quite insulted when someone mistakes it for a cow skull in the fifth book.
  • Temple of Terror: The personal guards of Leesha, the High Priestess of Vatos, are Skeleton Men, lanky humanoid monsters whose faces are helmeted skulls. They're far more cunning and intelligent than the common skeletons in the temple, and puts up a much better fight.
  • The Locked Tomb: The tomb cultists of the Ninth House wear Black Cloaks, paint their faces to look like skulls, and are considered creepy even by the standards of a Necromancy-worshiping Galactic Superpower. In Gideon the Ninth, Gideon has to pretend to have taken an oath of silence to avoid giving away that she's more of a Lovable Jock at heart, which would ruin their image.
  • The Horned King from The Book of Three wears a mask that resembles a human skull with stag antlers grafted to the forehead.

    Live-Action TV 
  • There is an episode of Boy Meets World, where the gang is in detention and being stalked by a killer who wears a skull mask.
  • The Master does this in the Doctor Who finale The End of Time. Due to an accident during his resurrection, he's burning up life-energy faster than he can take it in, which results in his skull showing through his skin. He had a skull-like face earlier, in "The Deadly Assassin," but it applies even more here, because the Tenth Doctor even calls him "Skeletor."
  • Kamen Rider:
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: In their Wraith forms, the Dweller and the Ascetic have exposed skulls for faces, while the Nomad merely has a desiccated and wizened but otherwise fleshy appearance.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus. In a sketch about a hospital for overacting, there's a brief animation of actors portraying Hamlet giving his "To be or not to be" speech. At one point they pull the flesh off their heads, leaving them with only their skulls on their shoulders.
  • Emperor Gruumm from Power Rangers S.P.D.
  • The Ultra Series have this feature for various Big Bads, to emphasize on their "look I'm the ultimate evil" nature.
    • Black End, the final kaiju from Ultraman Leo, and also the most powerful of the Saucer Beasts spawned from the Black Star, has a reptilian-insectoid hybrid body, and a head resembling a draconic skull.
    • Mensch Heit from Ultraman Neos, the overarching villain responsible for the various kaiju outbreak throughout the series, had a skull-like face complete with horns to emphasize its Satanic Archetype nature.
    • Etelgar the Space-Time Demon from Ultraman Ginga (specifically, the Big Damn Movie, Ultraman Ginga S The Movie: Showdown! The 10 Ultra Warriors!) have a skull-like face as well, which he hides with a scarf until Ultraman Zero burns it off.
    • In the final episode of Ultraman Geed, Ultraman Belial, the major villain of the Ultra franchise as a whole, finally gains his ultimate form, as Ultraman Belial Atrocious with his face resembling an exposed Ultraman skull.

  • Mr. Skull of The Residents would have been a Faceless Eye like the rest of the band if his eyeball mask wasn't stolen and defaced.
  • Sid Wilson of Slipknot wore multiple skull masks, starting with skull versions of his gas mask during the Iowa album cycle before moving to a more traditional set of skull masks during the Volume 3 album cycle.

    Myths & Religion 

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech:
    • The archetypal 100 ton assault mech, the Atlas, features a head stylized after a human skull. Making it "as ugly and foreboding as conceivable" was explicit part of the design specs. The numerous successor models and derivatives like the Akuma keep the motif.
    • The Banshee is only 5 tons lighter than the Atlas and also features an angular screaming skull face.
    • This trope plus Cephalothorax gives us the Ursus, best described as a Humongous Mecha with a skull for a torso that also happens to look like a giant head with arms and legs.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Gambado, introduced back in the 1st Edition Field Folio, is a subversion - its actual head has specialized muscles allowing it to secure and wear another creature's skull as a helmet. Then it digs a pit deep enough to rest its skull-wearing head on ground level, to pass itself off as another bit of dungeon detritus until prey approaches. Hence their nickname, "springing skulls of doom."
    • One of more freakish monsters in Forgotten Realms is "lichling". A 6'' cockroach with human arms and legs and skull-for-a-head, feeding on the fear, immune to normal weapons and thus hilariously lethal. It can slowly grow to 80' long, but is likely to be destroyed sooner. They're spawned by demiliches. In thousands.
    • Black dragons are sometimes nicknamed "skull dragons" because as they age, their acidic breath degrades the flesh and scales around their face, which combined with their already sunken eyes gives them a distinctly skull-like appearance.
    • Krenshars are catlike wolf-hyenas with uncanny control over their facial musculature, allowing them to pull back their own skin, exposing their bare skulls and sinew. This combined with a well-timed roar is usually enough to send other creatures running, a trick krenshars use to flush prey into ambushes.
    • In Module I12 Egg of the Phoenix, the cleric MacKurian's dead body has a cow's skull attached to it. It is later changed into a revenant form and occupied by MacKurian's spirit, leading to the final confrontation with Doc.
  • Pachimon: Galtan is a kaiju created by combining Baltan's forearms and Antlar's body with a human skull.
  • Rifts: Coalition soldiers wear armor with skull-shaped helmets, earning them the nickname, "Dead Boys." The Coalition uses skulls a lot in the designs of their armor and vehicles as a form of psychological warfare.
  • Warhammer:
    • Necromunda: The 2nd Edition models for Ratskin Renegade Chiefs and Totem Warriors wear the skulls of Necromundan Giant Rats as helmets to complement their rat pelt capes and to infuse themselves with the rat’s spirit.
    • Warhammer 40,000:
      • The skull is the traditional symbol of Astartes Chaplains and as such most will have skull-designed helms. Ortan Cassius, the highest ranked Chaplain of the Ultramarines, goes further, although not willingly — a lot of his actual skull is visible, thanks to a close encounter with Tyranid bio-acid, and it's only thanks to cybernetics that he can even see.
      • To add to their sinister nature, and increase the psychological impact of their assaults, the helmets worn by Primaris Marine Reivers are designed to resemble skulls.
      • Eversor Assassins wear full-face skull helms to enhance their horrific appearance as it is part of their mission to spread fear through the enemy ranks.
      • High ranking officers of Armageddon Steel Legion Astra Militarum regiments will often have their gasmasks fashioned into the form of a skull to intimidate and unnerve their enemies. The most famous such gasmask is the 8th Edition Relic the Skull Mask of Acheron that strikes fear into the hearts of the superstitious Orks.
    • Warhammer Fantasy:
      • The Beastman charachter Molokh Slugtongue, an emaciated and withered famine-shaman, has a fleshless head consisting of a fanged skull crowned by twisted horns.
      • Incarnate Elementals of Beasts have bestial, tusked and antlered skulls for heads.
    • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: One mutation that can be inflicted by Chaos exposure liquefies the victim's facial flesh, leaving a bare skull. It's not debilitating but does penalize their Fellowship score.

  • The Knights of Asperity from Boss Fight Studio Vitruvian H.A.C.K.S. series is a band of menacing Black Knights with a skull for their heads, as well as evil red eyes. The skull head can be swapped out for a blood-soaked human head, though.
  • Shadow Tracker from G.I. Joe (released in 2011) looks like a Predator expy, but is this trope once his mask is removed.
  • The He-Man knock-off line Combo Warriors has Satana, who has skin on the right-side of his face, but the left-side is a skull.

    Video Games 
  • Blood West have you facing multiple undead enemies, those which are humanoid having skulls in place of faces - as an indication that they're no longer alive.
  • Bound by Blades has Skullako, the Blob Monster... whose cranium is a cyclopean skull. Somehow.
  • The icon for the Veteran difficulty in Call of Duty: World at War (helpfully demonstrated with the page image for NightmareFuel.Call Of Duty) is of a soldier whose head was reduced to his skull, possibly as a warning of the sheer hell the player will experience. Call of Duty: Black Ops has a similar icon where a man stands in front of some flames and is missing a good chunk of his skull.
  • The Cyborg Reaper in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun comes pretty darned close to this. It's essentially a mutated human torso mounted in a spider-like four-legged chassis and armed with missiles and a net launcher. Its head is so disfigured that it almost literally looks like a skull. Seen here
  • Dark Souls:
    • The Taurus Demon is a large minotaur-like monster with a skeletal head.
    • The Capra Demon appears to have a goat-like skull for a head, but it's ambiguous whether its head is actually a skull or if it's just worn as a helmet.
    • The Darkwraiths, the former knights of New Londo succumbed to the Dark. They wore skull masks with a hood that merged with their faces over time.
  • Mephisto of Diablo is depicted as possessing a demonic skull for a head, which isn't out of place given the rest of his body is a flayed cadaver.
  • In Diablo IV, the player is periodically stalked by the Bloodied Wolf, a demonic wolf whose head is a bloody skull covered in demonic runes. His true identity is an avatar of Mephisto.
  • Corvo in Dishonored wears a mechanical steampunk version of a skull to invoke this and keep his identity concealed as he takes his revenge.
  • Skullmageddon, the Big Bad of Double Dragon Neon, since he's a walking, talking Expy of Skeletor.
  • Pyromancer Xan from DragonFable has a skull for a head.
  • Concept art for Commander Rimanah in E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy gave him a golden, grinning skull helmet, though his in-game appearance uses a serene face mask.
  • Fallout 4: The Rust Devils gang builds combat robots from spare parts and they put an actual human skull on their heads.
  • The Friday Night Funkin' mod VS Tabi Ex Boyfriend has Tabi have a goat skull on his head.
  • The lowest-ranking humanoid mooks in Golden Force have skulls in place of heads, despite their bodies appearing to be organic.
  • Heidelberg 1693: The Moon King has a horse skull in place for a head, while the rest of his body is human.
  • Kirby Mass Attack: Necrodeus has a horned skull for a head, as well as a clown-like nose on it.
  • In Little King's Story, Cow Bones of the Cemetery, one of the UMA Guardians. Its skull comes off sometimes.
  • The Atlas battlemech in the MechWarrior series, like its source material, is an assault-class Humongous Mecha with a skull-shaped cockpit, often painted bone-white. Depending on the game, it can have a laser mount in one of the eyes or Glowing Mechanical Eyes.
  • Doc Robot in Mega Man 3. It means Dokurobotto in Japanese, and is actually a Punny Name based on the Japanese words 'dokuro' (skull) and 'robotto' (robot).
  • Like his name suggests, Skull Man from Mega Man 4.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Raiden is introduced wearing a full-face rebreather/helmet that resembles a skull. The complete sneaking suit is even referred to as a "Skull Suit." In addition, during the end section of the game, the Colonel Campbell that Raiden was taking orders from is revealed to be an impostor. It is actually an AI created by the Patriots called GW. GW's identity is revealed when it is hit with a major computer virus that causes a number of malfunctions. While most of these malfunctions are Played for Laughs, one seriously creepy effect of the virus was to cause Glamor Failure and reveal GW's true head: a skull. Once GW is outed, Raiden can still talk to it, but the malfunction will make it flash between its Campbell disguise and its skull-head form while being much more antagonistic.
  • At the end of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, the Final Boss Dark Samus looks like this. Due to Samus defeating her and causing her to blow up on two separate occasions earlier in the game, along with logbook scans noting that her form was unstable to begin with (hence her Horror Hunger throughout the game), she has not had time to properly repair herself before her final chance to confront you. Thus, when she makes one last-ditch effort to kill Samus, her armor is transparent, revealing a mouth-less skull underneath the helmet vaguely resembling the face of her original self of the Metroid Prime's core form, showing that she has a partially-human-looking form underneath the armor from absorbing Samus's DNA.
  • Modern Warfare features Ghost, who wears an iconic skull mask.
    • Ghost was so popular that his mask became the inspiration for the titular unit of Call of Duty: Ghosts, who all wear custom skull masks.
  • Murray from Monkey Island. However, his skull is all that's left of him after Guybrush destroyed his boat.
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • Some incarnations of Scorpion depict him as having a skull for a head that's sometimes on fire. It's never made clear whether this is a supernatural power of his or if that is his actual head now.
    • Scorpion's fellow undead Noob Saibot has an alternate costume in Mortal Kombat 4 that gives him one, too. Along with his shadow powers and Sinister Scythe, it makes him look a lot like The Grim Reaper.
  • The Skullmonkeys from The Neverhood. Klogg wears one of their heads to look like this trope in the game’s sequel.
  • Persona 5: Ryuji's mask makes the upper portion of his head resemble a jawless skull. His Guardian Entity is similarly a skeletal pirate with a skinless skull wearing a pirate hat for a head.
  • Zephetto in Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis uses the eye sockets and nasal bridge of a skull to represent himself when talking with Manon. What makes this creepier is when he is defeated, his face plate breaks away and reveals an actual crystal skull beneath it. What keeps him from being Obviously Evil is that while his methods were ghastly, his motives were anything but, and ultimately justified when the Starless he prepared for actually came back.
  • PlanetSide 2: The Lumifiber Skulls introduced in Halloween 2015 completely remove the user's head and replace it with a glowing holographic skull in either red, blue, or purple depending on the player's empire.
  • The Hermit from Putrefaction 2 begins as a sentient green skull shrouded in flames, but when he reveals his One-Winged Angel form as a gigantic demon, he has a humanoid body with a horned skull for a head.
  • Duskull from Pokémon.
    • One can make a case for Marowak too: in its pre-evolutionary form as Cubone, it wears its mom's skull as a helmet. After it evolves, the skull's become fused to its head.
  • In RuneScape, the normal form of the Mahjarrat is this when they haven't been rejuvenated for a while.
  • Reapers from Scathe are ghoul-like humanoid creatures whose bodies still have flesh, except their heads which are mere human skulls.
  • The "Trueform" creatures in Shadow Man that serve as vessels for these immortal entities are creepily depicted as having this, with a distinctly non-human skull head sitting atop a muscular, skinless body.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: While not a hard-and-fast rule, most demons of the Fiend race appear as this to signify their status as avatars of Death. The most famous of these demons include the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Trumpeter, and Mother Harlot, all figures from the Book of Revelation.
  • The Graven in Sunless Skies are prominent figures in the Blue Kingdom, usually working as administrators and judges in several Courts. All the skin of their head and neck have been thoroughly peeled off leaving a bare skull that had been encrusted with countless gemstones. It had been mentioned that they can abandon their status, which will have them grow their faces back.
  • The inhabitants of Tostarena in Super Mario Odyssey have heads themed on the Mexican decorated sugar skulls associated with the Día de los Muertos celebration. Unlike most other examples of this trope, however, they are absolutely not threatening at all and are a very friendly, energetic people. The Chinchos, on the other hand, are zombie-like enemies that closely resemble Tostarenans and are hostile and dangerous.
  • The Demon Monkeys from Temple Run have skulls for faces, though it's unclear if they're only wearing them or if it's their actual head.
  • Tharsis has this as unlockable skins for characters after they have died a certain number of times. They even come in gold if you die enough!
  • The one part of the demon FHTNG TH§ ¿NSP§KBL?/Fred from Them's Fightin' Herds that's not just a floating black mass is a four-eyed, horned skull for a head.
  • Unbound Saga have those skinny, naked deformed mutant mooks whose heads are gigantic skulls as enemies in the sewer level.
  • Warframe: Following his sacrifice in "The New War" to allow the Tenno passage to Ballas, the Sentient Erra has a ram skull grafted onto his neck, transforming him into Archon Pazuul, the new leader of the Narmer cult following Ballas's demise. Adding a level of Fridge Horror to the situation is that during some Archon Hunts, there are hints that Erra's conscious is still active within Pazuul.
  • War Metal has a character appropriately called Skullkeeper who fits this trope.
  • Downplayed with Caleb Weaver from Wick, a ghost child who was murdered by being Buried Alive and travels by digging underground. He's the most heavily decayed ghost in the game, having all the flesh forward of his ears rotted, eaten, or worn away, leaving his ears and scalp intact.
  • Harpies and Medusa in Will Rock.
  • The Jersey Devil in The Wolf Among Us is depicted as having a horse's skull for a head when he takes on his true form.
  • Horace in The World Next Door has a horned skull head and eyes of embers.
  • World of Warcraft: Shadowlands introduced the Death Chimaeras, as both wild mobs inhabiting Maldraxxus and flight/player-controlled mounts (and they ended up de facto Mascots of the Expansion Pack). They have bodies similar to the Rylaks of Draenor (long necks, two heads, bat-like wings), only with skulls as heads.

    Web Animation 
  • Dreamscape: Jenna's Skull Snake is a giant snake with one of these.
  • Hazbin Hotel: A few of the background demons in the pilot have skulls for heads.
  • The titular character of Inferno Cop.
  • The ghost of Mystery Skulls Animated has a floating stylized skull for a head, and is also notably lacking in the jawbone department.

    Web Comics 
  • Homestuck:
    • Lord English has a green skull for a head.
    • Calliope and Caliborn have the same thing going on, being Lord English's sister and younger self, respectively.
    • Liches, enemies occasionally seen during the kids' adventures in the Medium, have horned, nonhuman craniums for heads.
  • Coga Suro 2: Various characters adopt this look when activating their Immortal-given powers — their skin turns grey, their hair white, and their head into a grey skull that glows from within.
  • Oglaf: Sithrak is a huge god with a burning skull for a head and nails driven into his eye sockets with enough force to crack the surrounding bone. The Doomsayers of the Blind Gibberer believe his is an angry, hateful god whose holy book was written with the blood of his enemies on the skin of his friends, but really that was his angry teenage poetry. They still believe that he's playing another trick on them.
  • The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn: A defining trait for the titular paranormal investigator, though to many he appears as a regular (if a bit eccentric) human instead. His skull is also host to an ectoplasm-devouring Eldritch Abomination named Zon and is apparently responsible for Oscar being the way he is.
  • Unsounded: A couple of the plods in Grenzlan are otherwise mostly intact with their heads entirely or close to entirely defleshed. They're on fire too.
  • The World in Deeper Inspection: Alcott Grimsley has an equine skull, devoid of eyes, for a head.

    Web Original 
  • Reasoning has the Architect, a seemingly humanoid entity whose head is composed of nothing but bones and two horns.
  • In Worm, the supervillain Grue uses a black skull wreathed in the darkness he generates as his first Cool Mask. When he is later captured by Bonesaw, she discusses making his face like that permanently.
  • From the SCP Foundation comes SCP-1471, AKA "MalO" (sic). It's a freeware mobile app that when downloaded, causes you to see a huge creature appear in your peripheral vision through windows and mirrors, which looks like a giant humanoid monster covered in shaggy black fur and a canine skull for a head with glowing white eyes. The image that inspired the SCP is actually a picture of a furry wearing a skullsuit.
  • The Twitter art series Chats with the Void features animals getting philosophical with ghostly animals that have skulls for heads. The comic is "about perspective, existentialism, and how cool animal skulls look".

    Western Animation 
  • The appropriately-named Mr. Skullhead in Animaniacs, though he's depicted very simply, having an oval-shaped head with circles for eyes, two dots for nostrils and a toothy oval for a mouth.
  • The Scarecrow from the Batman: The Animated Series revamp (The New Batman Adventures) had a shriveled zombie-like face with the skin seemingly shrunk to the bone — if it was a mask or not is still up for debate.
  • Derek Powers as "Blight" in Batman Beyond after being exposed to strong radiation.
  • Ben 10: Once Ghostfreak's original consciousness, Zs'Skayr, escapes from the Omnitrix and reveals his cadaverous-looking true form, his head is an upside-down alien skull.
  • Stampede of Bravestarr has a demonic bull's skull for a head.
  • Centaurworld: The Nowhere King's head is a fleshless deer skull with green lights in its eye sockets.
  • Final Space: In Seasons 2 and 3, the Titan Oreskis appears to be wearing a mask modeled after a skull.
  • In Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures, Ezekiel Rage usually gets the "Phantom of the Opera" motif, what with his face badly burned and him having to wear a white mask. His Questworld avatar, though (which we see in "The Edge of Yesterday"), actually has a skull for a head.
  • Justice League examples:
    • "Only a Dream": Dr. Destiny uses his powers of illusion to achieve this look. He reverts to a normal appearance when recovering from a punch to the face, and when he is finally defeated.
    • Atomic Skull also has a skull wrapped in green fire, which he could fire energy blasts from.
  • Skullossus from League of Super Evil has a floating expressive skull in a jar for a head.
  • Masters of the Universe:
    • Skeletor in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) and its reboot. In the earlier continuity, he was simply a guy whose head looked like a skull; in one episode of The New Adventures of He-Man we even see that he has some hair up top. In the 2002 series, however, Keldor's face was melted off by a vial of acid — his life was saved by Hordak, but at the cost of his head now being a skull floating above his shoulders. He also loses his face in the 2021 series due to the power of Havoc.
    • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Hordak doesn't quite have a skull for a head, but his face is clearly designed to evoke one. His head is mostly white, but the white portion narrows under his eyes and leaves his cheeks grey, giving his face a skull-like outline. Additionally, he has an inverted V for a nose and his chin has some Facial Markings that are faintly reminiscent of a skull's teeth, and his red eyes are surrounded by darkness... although since that's eye makeup, it can only be assumed that Hordak gets up in the morning, looks at his reflection, and decides that if he's going to look like a necromancer's in-tray anyway he may as well accentuate it.
  • Skull Master of the Mighty Max cartoon has this going for him. He's also twice as big as the next largest character, voiced by Tim Curry, and utterly terrifying.
    • From the same series is Cyber-Skull, though he's actually a computer nerd who digitized himself to take over the Company that screwed him over on a game. In his second appearance, he tries to return to the physical world in a giant robotic body styled after his avatar, complete with skull for a head.
  • King from The Owl House is a dog-like creature of unknown species whose face looks like he is wearing a canine skull mask without a lower jaw. It apparently is part of his head as he never takes the "mask" off and he still has it even when he was still in an egg. The titan trappers also have this appearance. It turns out that the titan trappers are not King's species, but are actually cultists who hunt titans and wear their skulls as part of their costumes, and King is a titan.
  • The Spooky Space Kook from season 1 of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! is a hulking dark blue space suit capped with a shrieking, giggling, glowing skull. It's one of the more truly frightening Scooby-Doo villains, despite the name.
  • While the titular Skeleton Warriors might not might not strictly count given they're full skeletons, the heroic Grim Skull only does have a decidedly skull looking head... and a fabulous head of hair to boot.
  • The Groaner from SuperMansion, a more sympathetic parody of The Joker. Once just a party clown for hire, an incident during a party at a chemical and genetic company somehow turned his head into a skull, leaving only his hair behind.
  • Super Robot Monkey Team Hyper Force Go has the main villain, Skeleton King, who has a fanged skull for a head and his costume has white parts that resemble bones and even what appear to be organs on the stomach.
  • Slade from Teen Titans (2003) had this while acting as Trigon's undead servant, because in life he was burned to death by lava. As he kept it hidden behind his mask, however, it was only glimpsed a couple of times near the climax of that storyline.
  • The Venture Bros. has a few of these.
    • In "Ghosts of the Sargasso", Dr. Venture's "metasonic locator" inadvertently resurrects a dead test pilot. The ghost has a flight suit, a skull for a head, and glowing, flaming eyes.
    • The villain Red Death has a skull for a head, being a lookalike of the Red Skull.

  • In the Furry Fandom, there are many fursonas with animal skulls for faces. These characters are known as skulldogs or skullies or skullsonas and fursuits with a skull face are called skullsuits.


Video Example(s):


The Horned King

While never said to be one, the Horned King is a tall, skeletal and of course horned overlord, who seeks the Black Cauldron to reanimate an unstoppable army of the undead, so that he may used them to conqueror the world.

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