The Phantom of the Opera, based off the book and play, is a considered by many to be one of the best movies of all time due to its gripping combination of drama and horror. The title character himself is very intriguing, being a masked madman with a lot of tragedy and sadness has made him one of the most iconic villains (if not characters) in movie lore.
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:
- The character will almost always wear some kind of mask. (Oftentimes people forget the original novel's Phantom had a full black mask; the movies and the play made the popular White Mask of Doom a staple. Usually this mask covers only half of the character's face, but full masks aren't unheard of.)
- 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.
- The Theatre Phantom will either be depicted as a Badass Normal, or actually be a supernatural creature when finally confronted.
- They'll often be dressed in evening clothes.
- They tend towards being a Large Ham, due to where they dwell and the efforts they make to inspire fear.
If a character like this does appear, don't expect much reference 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.
- 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.
- 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 stagelights. He is now obsessed with up and coming ballerina Laura Avian, and will do anything to make her happy. Even commit murder.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Goosebumps: In The 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. Ultimately there turns out to be two different Opera Ghosts.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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".
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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: An episode set in the future said Martin Prince went missing after a science fair explosion and lives beneath the school, playing the piano and wearing a Phantom mask.
- 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.