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Elegance and terror in one package

The Phantom of the Opera is a popular and iconic story that has had many well-known adaptations, with the title character often being considered particularly memorable. As with most successes, the concept of a "phantom of the X" has since been used countless times since its introduction. In comparison to the original, characters based on the Phantom are often varied. Sometimes they are a Captain Ersatz, sometimes they're a thoughtful parody of their inspiration, but they often share a few key features:

  1. The character will almost always wear some kind of mask.note  The mask usually covers some kind of gruesome deformity or horrifying scars, though as with the original Phantom, the derivative characters have gotten Progressively Prettier over the years.
  2. The Theatre Phantom will often haunt a place of entertainment, with live action theaters being the most commonly used as the character's stomping grounds because the Phantom can potentially harm the people who attend, as well as damage the establishment's revenue and reputation. Sometimes, they aren't associated with a single location at all.
  3. The Theatre Phantom will either be depicted as a Badass Normal or actually be a supernatural creature when finally confronted.
  4. They'll often be dressed in evening clothes.
  5. They tend towards being a Large Ham, due to where they dwell and the efforts they make to inspire fear.
  6. They may play scary music on a pipe organ.

If a character like this does appear, don't expect many other references to the original story. The Theatre Phantom may act similar to the Trope Namer in the original story, but often the other characters and the plot of the original work will never be alluded to at all.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Crayon Shin-chan have a What If? manga story that spoofs this trope (released around the same time as the 2004 Hollywood film) in which Shin-Chan is the Phantom and Nanako as Christine Daae. Shin-Chan's phantom isn't disfigured in any way however, working as a janitor while using the phantom guise as a Secret Identity to reclaim his birthright, the opera house who was stolen by his parents' subordinate leading to his parents' deaths. At the end of the story, Shin-Chan's parents appears to spook the villains into giving up, proving that there are actual Phantoms in the Opera after all.
  • In Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, the episode "Vissi d'arte, Vissi d'amore" centers around one. He turns out to be the boyfriend of the opera singer Aiyan, who is living underground with him since people wouldn't approve their relationship.

    Comic Books 
  • In All-Ghouls School, minor student Christine is implied to be the niece of the original.
  • The Elseworlds story Batman: Masque has an 1890s version of Batman fighting a villain called the Phantom who is terrorising the ballet. The Phantom is Harvey Dent, once a proud and accomplished dancer, who was horribly scarred on stage when his costume caught fire from one of the stage lights. He is now obsessed with up and coming ballerina Laura Avian and will do anything to make her happy. Even commit murder.
  • In Detective Comics (Rebirth) #950 Cassandra Cain is shown to live in the attic of the Gotham opera house, giving rise to a rumor that it is haunted due to her eerie, stitched-up black mask, and she has taken a particular interest in a ballerina named Christine. The allusion is very obvious, though unlike usual examples she is both silent and entirely benign.
  • The Judge Dredd story "Phantom of the Shoppera" features a phantom that hits all the marks, except for haunting a shopping mall instead of a theatre. It's also a robot.

    Comic Strips 
  • Jason and Marcus of FoxTrot once wanted to go to start attending the opera. Andy saw they were up to this since they made the mistake of applying the Phantom's well-known mask before asking her for permission.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Bruiser, Henry becomes one during the company's masquerade. Having organised the masquerade, he attends dressed as the Phantom of the Opera, incorporating his White Mask of Doom. As usual, most people fail to notice him. He then skulks around backstage and uses the props he arranged to be present to take his revenge on Miles Styles.
  • In Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge, follows a young man who apparently dies in a suspicious house fire after saving his girlfriend, Melody; a year later, at the new mall built over the site of the burned-out house, thefts and murders begin to occur as a mysterious figure secretly prowls around the shopping center and takes a keen interest in watching over and protecting Melody.
  • In Phantom of the Megaplex, assistant manager Pete struggles to cope with malfunctioning popcorn machines, disappearing staff and technical difficulties plaguing every screen. All seemingly caused by a mysterious masked figure roaming the halls only to vanish without a trace.
  • In Phantom of the Paradise, a disfigured composer writes his music for a woman he loves so that she will perform his music. However, a record producer betrays him and steals his music to open his rock palace, The Paradise. Betrayed, the composer dons a new appearance and exacts revenge on the producer.

    Literature 
  • Angels of Music features Erik, the original Phantom of the Opera, now seemingly immortal and still dwelling beneath the Paris Opera House. Although he now largely delegates things to his Angels of Music, the climax shows that he can still haunt a theatre with the best of them and instill terror into his enemies.
  • Goosebumps: In Phantom of the Auditorium, Brooke Rogers and Zeke Matthews are chosen to play Esmeralda and The Phantom in their school's version of The Phantom of the Opera, but a chain of accidents impede production and threaten to have Zeke kicked off the cast.
  • Maskerade presents the Discworld's take on The Phantom of the Opera, with the mysterious 'Opera Ghost' haunting the Ankh-Morpork Opera House - formerly considered the luck of the show, in a superstitious sort of way, he left encouraging or critical little notes, and curious flowers for a singer after a particularly good performance. As the new owner is informed, he comes with the place, like the draughts and the rats. Unfortunately, he's gone mad and now, members of the opera are dropping like flies out of the flies. Ultimately, there's a twist - there turn out to be two different Opera Ghosts, one of whom is perfectly benign and harmless even allowing for his possible DID, while the other is a cold-blooded murderer who took up his mask for convenience, using terror to destroy the opera, and gaslit the original into keeping quiet. However, even the benign one is ultimately shown to be a bit shallow, and the whole nature of opera is shown to be utterly ridiculous..
  • Monster of the Year: One makes a brief cameo in one scene. He has exactly one line of dialogue, suggesting they try to improve their reputations via an appearance on Broadway, and is never specifically mentioned again.
  • The Trope Maker is, of course, The Phantom of the Opera, with its subsequent film and theatre adaptations keeping the archetype in the public eye.
  • The Trapdoor Daemon in The Vampire Genevieve by Kim Newman, who haunts Detlef Sierck's theatre, and has his own box. This being Warhammer he is much more deformed than the original, with warpstone having transformed him into something utterly inhuman. At least, on the surface. He's actually a perfectly decent fellow underneath all the horrible mutations, having been fed the warpstone by a deranged girlfriend rather than being an active chaos cultist. It's the beautiful ingenue starlet who ends up being the real monster, courtesy of a malevolent magical mask.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark? had an episode ("The Tale of the Last Dance") similar to the plot of Phantom of the Opera about a monster who lived in a high school and kidnapped a talented female violinist
  • The Dingo Principle had a sketch parodying The Phantom of the Opera and then-current events in Australian politics with a theatre phantom dropping a Falling Chandelier of Doom on members of the Liberal Party.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Talons of Weng-Chiang", Magnus Greel is a disfigured genius dwelling the cellars of a theatre; his mangled face concealed by a mask. Occasional sightings of him by the theatre staff give rise to a belief that the theatre is haunted.
  • MacGyver (1985): In "Cleo Rocks", MacGyver's mortal enemy, Murdoc, who was horribly disfigured due to a flamethrower accident in a previous episode, disguises himself with a prosthetic face and goes by the name Jacques Leroux (a reference to Gaston Leroux). He falls in love with MacGyver's friend, Penny Parker, eventually kidnapping her, and the episode climaxes in an underground lair filled with booby traps.
  • Uncle Deadly in The Muppet Show. In episode 121, he is "the Phantom of the Muppet Show". One by one, the Muppets tell Kermit that they have seen a phantom, but Kermit refuses to believe them until he sees Uncle Deadly with his own eyes. Once revealed, Uncle Deadly explains that he used to perform at the Muppet Theater, where he played Othello until he was killed... by the critics.
  • In Season 9 of Night Court, in episodes 1 (173) and 2 (174), titled "A Guy Named Phantom (Part 1)" and "A Guy Named Phantom (Part 2)", Harry and Christine are both confused over their feelings for each other, but before they can work them out, the deranged Dan (referring to himself as "The Phantom," wearing a mask and cape, and living in hiding) kidnaps Christine at a courthouse costume party.
  • Supernatural: In "Monster Movie", Sam is seen walking into a moviehouse called the Goethe Theater after hours. The feature film is The Phantom of the Opera. In the stereotypical Phantom fashion, a "mysterious" shadowy figure inside is at the organ playing Bach's "Toccata and Fugue". Believing this organist to be a murdering shape-shifter, Sam sneaks up behind him in a gender-bender parody of the unmasking scene in an attempt to tear off his ear. This turns out to be an embarrassing mistake for Sam.

    Roleplay 

    Toys 
  • In the Monster High series, there is a character named Operetta, who is the daughter of the Phantom.

    Video Games 
  • Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights has the Phantom as the leader of a faction of iron - masked knights.
  • The Android game Dragon Coins has Phantoms as a recruitable Mon, you can get one by evolving a Death Mask, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Haunt the House: Terrortown: The Phantom character lives in an underground lair below the theater, wears a half-mask, and owns a pipe organ.
  • Invoked with Phantom from Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. He's a ghostly Rabbid opera singer who considers himself The Rival to Mario and wants Peach to himself. In promotional material, he's even referred to as "Phantom of the Bwahpera".
  • Mega Man Star Force introduces Hyde in MegaMan Star Force 2 who fancies himself an actor and who considers his schemes as scripts. He can Wave Change into Phantom Black, and his plot in his debut game involves abducting Luna or manipulating various people into using UMAs to furthering their own agendas and by extention his leader's. He also returns in the third game as Dark Phantom, though at this point, he's already gone insane and after being defeated falls to his death.
  • Zizz from the pop'n music series is a literal phantom that takes many of the cues from the Phantom of the Opera - including an Ominous Opera Cape, a White Mask of Doom that covers half his face, and an Ominous Pipe Organ for background music - and has Marionette Master powers on top of it. Like the original Phantom, he attempts to take control of his own "Christine", ALT, only he does it with greater force.
  • Psychonauts has The Catwalk Phantom, which is the main villain of a Mood-Swinger starlet's mind.
  • Don Octavio from Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves is an Opera performer turned Mad Bomber after music tastes changed when his career was taking off. He takes to dressing as a phantom while running the local mafia and planning to extort the populace into seeing him perform.
  • The Messenger (2018): Despite his name, Phantom was originally not this trope, but the Demon King fixed that by placing a cursed mask on him and imprisoning him in a music box to play the pipe organ for all eternity.

    Web Comics 
  • In the webcomic CONvicts, pages 7885 deal with David, Andrew, and Alex going to the Masquerade to hunt down the Masquerade Ghost (dressed as Webber's Phantom) for a reward. Throughout the arc the Masquerade Ghost crashes a chandelier and takes down his opponents not by strangling them, but by kicking them in the groin.
  • Girl Genius: When Gil is listing the threats he had to rescue Deliberately Distressed Damsel Zola from, one of them is "some overly dramatic maniac who lived in the Paris Opera House", who is depicted as a theatre phantom playing a bass drum.

    Web Original 
  • Neopets had a Phantom who lived in a chapel, waiting for his long-lost love, Riyella. Takes cues specifically from Lloyd Webber's version.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of American Dad! had Roger become the "Phantom of the Telethon", seeking to get Stan to admit that he'd had the CIA Telethon idea first and Stan didn't give him any of the credit. This results in sabotage, Steve being kidnapped and dressed like Christine, and a terrorist getting loose and setting bombs behind the telethon donation counter.
  • An episode of Babar features a Phantom-esque character who lived in the cellars of a rundown movie house, and frightened people away so that he could be left alone. He (unnecessarily) wore a Domino Mask.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog had The Great Fusilli, a crocodile who ran a stage that transforms its actors into puppets. Ironically he falls for his own trap when he mistakes Courage for a Theatre Phantom.
  • A brief gag in the Danger Mouse episode "The Return of Count Duckula" is that Dreary Lane Theatre is home to the Phantom of the Panto, although he looks more like some kind of gargoyle.
    • An episode of the spin-off series Count Duckula features a more traditional Phantom who lives beneath the Paris Opera House.
  • In Dan Vs., Dan takes on a locally owned theatre by becoming a phantom to ruin it. He dons a mask with a Gag Nose so the crew won't recognize him.
  • Flying Rhino Junior High features a character, Earl, who lives underneath the school and constantly wants people to call him 'The Phantom'.
  • The villainous "Phantom of Vaudeville" and his ventriloquist dummy, Elmo, as featured on The Ghost Busters may be a reference to the Phantom, as both are masked, and, as Kong notes, "the only way to send a Phantom back is to unmask him."
  • An episode of Histeria! featured a "Dating Game"-type skit with composers instead of suitors, and one was Andrew Lloyd Webber (he was just identified as Andrew) wearing the Phantom's costume while standing in the boat from the title number in the middle of a Gothic, subterranean lake.
  • In one episode of Kappa Mikey, the Phantom is parodied as "The Phantom of the Studio", using a mask because someone wrote "fart" on his forehead.
  • An episode of The Mask called "Broadway Malady" had The Mask as The Phantom of the Opera who tried to ruin the Mad Monkey Musical with a falling chandelier, but due to budget constraints, was reduced to using a small light fixture (the chandelier fall was seen at the end of the episode when the insane Broadway director creates a musical number with many Mask villains while in prison).
  • An abridged version of the original story called "Spooks", featuring the Winkler and Lantz version of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit of course has a ghoulish Phantom. After Cornering Oswald he asks "What sound does a chicken make when it lays a square egg?" (Cue Oswald saying "Ow!" from the Phantom slapping him), "Correct!" And then he disappears.
  • The Real Ghostbusters: In "A Fright at the Opera", the New York Metropolitan Opera House does have a Phantom, but he never appears until the end of the episode. The guys only met him in passing, just as he was about to vacate the opera house: The appearance of the ghostly Valkyries was too much, even for him!
  • Scooby-Doo has gotten some mileage out of this kind of character. The fact that the original story was a "Scooby-Doo" Hoax (Long before Scooby-Doo was around) too probably helps.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Flaming Moe's": During Homer's haughty speech from the rafters when he reveals that the Flaming Moe's secret ingredient is cough syrup, notice the robe deftly draped over his face like the Phantom's mask (from Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical).
    • In "Lisa's Wedding", an episode set in the future, Martin Prince went missing after a science fair explosion and lives beneath the school, playing the piano and wearing a Phantom mask.
    • In "Treehouse of Horror XX", Barney is shown on a boat emerging from the mist at Moe's bar. He is dressed up like the Phantom from Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 musical and sings about how Moe's beer is great.
  • There is an episode of The Snorks (called "Summer and Snork"), where Junior takes on a Phantom-like role to scare All-Star out of the lead part. Tooter takes over the role of a crossover between Sherlock Holmes and The Persian from the Gaston Leroux novel.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987): An episode titled "Phantom of the Sewers" has the eponymous character haunting a pizza restaurant. The Phantom even has a secret lair full of booby traps! It turns out that his business partner had betrayed him (as he wanted to use the robots he'd built) and threw chemicals in his face, disfiguring him. But in another twist, the "chemicals" were actually paint, so his face wasn't actually disfigured at all.

Top

Alexander James "AJ" McLean

In the "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" video, AJ plays the role of The Phantom.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

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