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They Look Just Like Everyone Else!

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"Well, what else is there to do when life turns on you and you've retreated into some small room? You look out your window. You see people come in and out of this phone booth. The same ones every day. You make up names for them. You imagine their stories. But eventually, you get tired of imagining and follow one of them. And you hear all of his lies. And you decide that his sins should be punished. Some guy shouting into a cell phone full of self-importance isn't gonna notice me."
The Caller, Phone Booth

This is when a villain doesn't look like a villain and is even more terrifying because of it. This does not apply to particularly handsome or charming villains — that goes under Beauty Is Bad, Sexy Villains, Chaste Heroes, Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains, or Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon. Characters following this trope look completely ordinary. You could pass them on the street and never notice them, let alone suspect they murdered someone just the other day.

In fantasy and science fiction shows, this is often what makes Mundanger villains so terrifying. While the normal beasties the protagonists hunt down and slay are obviously fantastic monsters that don't exist in our world, these monsters could be living right next door.

Please note: the identity of many of these villains may be part of a reveal, so please use spoilers wisely.

An Enfant Terrible is usually one of these, as is your typical Affably Evil villain. Frequently overlaps with Tom the Dark Lord (when a villain has a mundane name). Contrast Obviously Evil and Devil in Plain Sight, as well as Face of a Thug (when someone is good or well-adjusted despite looking untrustworthy). Compare Manchurian Agent, where they genuinely are like everyone else until triggered, and Anticlimactic Unmasking, where someone with a distinct disguise looks like this without it. Related with but not to be confused for They Look Like Us Now, where previously inhuman beasties learn to pass for human. The Nondescript is when their "normalness" is taken so far that people can't even remember what they're like. May intersect with Ridiculously Average Guy, who looks and acts utterly normal in every respect.

The Trope Namer is a quote by Wednesday Addams from The Addams Family going in ordinary clothes to a costume party, then claiming, "I'm a homicidal maniac. They look just like everybody else."

This is Truth in Television. Who knows? Maybe one of the tropers could just be this.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Monster: While the Big Bad is an exception, the most evil and dangerous characters are often the most ordinary-looking: Hartmann and Franz Bonaparta come to mind.
  • In the "Greenback Jane" arc of Black Lagoon, Jane and the protagonists are pursued by a band of bounty hunters. One of them eschews the series' Cluster F-Bomb style and speaks in Gosh Dang It to Heck! terms and at face value is a wholesome, Mr. Rogers-ish guy. It turns out, he's a pyromaniac who previously torched his wife so that he could smell her flesh burn. Imagine an evil Hank Hill and you get the picture.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: While the series is quite known for its ridiculously flamboyant villains, some of the very worst people in the series are the most normal-looking.
    • In Stardust Crusaders, while most of DIO's assassins are pretty Obviously Evil, some look normal and like to blend into the crowd.
      • Gray Fly looks like a plain old man and deliberately acts like he has no idea what is happening, while his Stand rips people apart.
      • Captain Dragon looks quite ordinary, which he uses to deceive the Crusaders into thinking he's a normal guy hired by the Speedwagon Foundation. He's only exposed as a Stand User by Jotaro bluffing him.
      • We barely get to see any of Arabia Fats, but when the heroes find him and knock him out, he's revealed to be a chubby, plain, and completely non-threatening man.
      • Mariah is a normal-looking woman who Joseph asks for help before she reveals herself as the one behind the current Stand attack.
      • Oingo and Boingo, in so much as they count as villains, do nothing to make themselves stand out and are able to take the place of servers in a cafe without anyone noticing.
    • Yoshikage Kira of Diamond is Unbreakable, stands out among the series' major villains by how much he doesn't stand out; he makes an active effort to be as normal and unremarkable as possible, living a quiet and peaceful life while also regularly murdering women and taking their hands as trophies/"girlfriends". Resemblance to David Bowie aside, his appearance is nothing special, which makes for a chilling moment when, after he forces another Stand user to swap his appearance with another ordinary man he killed, the heroes lose him in a crowd and realize that he could be any of the people wandering in the street. And indeed, he is present in the crowd shot (alongside other characters who would properly debut later) establishing this; he's the guy with the black hair, white jacket, and pink pants facing away from the camera over to the right. The heroes had him in their sights all along, but never realized who they were looking at.
    • Prosciutto from Golden Wind is one of the more normal looking members of Passione (and certainly has the most normal fashion sense), and spends most of his fight against Team Bucciarati hiding alongside the passengers of the train, even using his own Stand ability on himself to blend in with the infected civilians.
    • Viviano Westwood from Stone Ocean appears to be a completely normal prison guard, but turns out to be a Stand user Pucci sent to assassinate Jolyne. To make the reveal all the more surprising, the chapter he appears in features many background characters with the flamboyant fashion sense readers usually associate with Stand users.
    • The Eleven Riders from Steel Ball Run, a group of unnamed Stand users sharing a single Stand, have subdued designs that would not stand out in the manga's Western setting, fitting how they're meant to be an Old West variation of The Men in Black.
    • In JoJolion, the Rock Humans are called out as being identical to normal humans when they're not hibernating in rock form; terrible fashion sense aside, most of them can and do infiltrate society and live normal lives.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, Krillin is surprised to find that Androids 17 and 18 (immensely powerful cyborgs that caused a Bad Future in an alternate timeline) look just like regular people you'd see walking down the street. This is justified as they were once human, although even then they both happened to be juvenile delinquents. The other androids and Cell avert this.
  • The Titan Shifters in Attack on Titan. Just the reveal that they exist puts the military on edge, since there's absolutely no way to tell who's a Titan Shifter until they transform and squash you. Their Titan forms are distinctive, but their human selves aren't. Four of them were able to pose as members of Eren's training group- Annie, Bertholt, Reiner, and Ymir. Later reveals justify this as they're actually the same thing. Normal mindless Titans are incomplete Titan Shifters who haven't yet inherited one of the nine Titan Powers and as such can't turn back or control themselves. Any Eldian (which encompasses all the main characters except Mikasa) has the potential to turn into a titan or become a Titan Shifter, so most Shifters are just ordinary people.
  • In Death Note, Light Yagami being the smart, charming, supposedly kindhearted honor-student son of the Chief of Police makes it difficult for many of the characters to take L's accusations seriously. L seems to be the only one who really believes that Light is Kira until very close to the series' end.
  • This is a common theme in Hell Girl. The evil person during most episodes is often seen as ordinary or even respectful by other people, leaving the victim no choice but to summon Ai Enma (Hell Girl) for revenge, knowing they're damning their souls too.
  • Hunter × Hunter loves this trope. Though some of the villains like Hisoka or Illumi strike you from the first glance as different from the common man, a good portion of the serial killers would fit in real Life without anyone batting an eye. Examples include Sharnalk, Pakunoda, Nobunaga, Phinks, Genthru, Tserriednich...
  • Inuyasha: Sango reflects at one point that, according to her father, the most dangerous kinds of youkai are those that can assume human form.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, Ghouls look exactly like humans and are nearly indistinguishable from them. Some humans even wonder whether they really exist, and express surprise when discovering that Ghouls look human. This is driven home when Ken Kaneki manages to score a date with a beautiful girl, and their wonderful evening ends with her trying to eat him. CCG Investigators are trained to watch for very subtle signs someone might be a Ghoul, but even then the law restricts them from acting until they actually see a Ghoul's Game Face. However, it is subverted in that, while there are violent and malicious Ghouls, most of them are perfectly normal people outside their powers and hunger for flesh.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry, this is made quite apparent. Each arc has a different villain, who is always just one of the group beforehand. In some cases, it's clear who the villain is, and in others, the tension is increased by the fact that it could be anyone and no one looks like they could be it. Additionally, the ultimate villain also appears to be just like everyone, except maybe for a slight apparent fondness for the macabre.
  • In Serial Experiments Lain the Knights of the Eastern Calculus, who form the current incarnation of an Ancient Conspiracy able to hack reality itself thanks to the Big Bad, are an executive, a fat nerd and a housewife who plays videogames with her son.
  • In ERASED, the culprit behind multiple strings of child kidnappings and murders is Yashiro Gaku, the charming and seemingly well-intentioned elementary school teacher.
  • All For One in My Hero Academia doesn't fit this currently, but from flashbacks (insomuch as we can see him) it seems that he looked fairly normal before All Might punched his face off and made him a Dark Lord on Life Support.
  • The Big Bad of Psycho-Pass, Shogo Makishima, certainly looks like an ordinary individual, but what makes him truly qualify for this trope is that the Sibyl System views him as an ordinary individual. Being criminally asymptomatic, Makishima's Psycho-Pass decreases as he commits crimes, where most other people would have their Psycho-Pass dramatically increase if they even think about possibly committing a criminal act. Makishima can commit all of the horrific crimes he wants and still be viewed by the Sibyl System as a perfectly healthy and stable person. This eventually turns out to be major foreshadowing for a twist that turns this trope on its head. Makishima fits perfectly within the Sybil System because it’s made of people like him.
  • The Parasytes in Parasyte crawl into their host's brain, take over their body and eat unsuspecting humans. What makes the Parasyte's particularly Paranoia Fuel inducing is that; say a normal person somehow managed to escape a Parasyte and memorize their face, said Parasyte can then completely change their face and catch that same person off guard.
    • This becomes even truer later in the series where the Parasytes eventually stop attacking humans and start focusing more on just acclimating and assimilating into society; by then, they've essentially become like everyone else, and the only way even the reader can tell them apart is the slight slant to a host's eyes.
  • Sword Art Online:
    • Akihiko Kayaba, the man who trapped 10,000 players in his death game. His anime character design is an average-looking man in a lab coat, in contrast to his Heathcliff avatar. Yet, he's still the Big Bad of the Aincrad arc.
    • Sugou Nobuyuki is a power-hungry, sociopathic Corrupt Corporate Executive with a god complex, and in real life, looks like your average everyday guy in a business suit and glasses. Even Kirito didn't realize his true colors until Sugou sniffed Asuna's hair and gloated about their upcoming marriage.
  • Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle has the King of Vices, the Shadow Dictator of the Republic of Heiburg, who passes herself off as a plain-looking and meek soldier with a standard Drag-ride. Meanwhile, her decoy and fake boss was brainwashed into being Obviously Evil in facial expression and behavior in order to emphasize their contrasting outward personalities.
  • Case Closed:
    • There are many cases where "faceless" characters, often criminals, tend to look pretty unintimidating when their identity is revealed, most notably the Mad Bomber that killed police detective Matsuda.
    • Played with for Haibara's deceased parents, Elena and Atsushi Miyano, whose faces are never seen for years (real-life years), since they're Posthumous Character so the main character never actually meet them and can only imagine what they look like. And since they're supposedly Morally Ambiguous Doctorates and Mad Scientists who work for the Big Bad, the main character (and sometimes Haibara herself) always imagines their faces framed in shadow, having Scary Shiny Glasses, having their backs and faces turned, etc. When their faces do get shown in one of the later flashbacks from Amuro (who unexpectedly has fond memories of them), they surprisingly look like nothing but loving parentsnote .
  • Part of the Realism-Induced Horror of the Genre Deconstruction of rape hentai Utaite no Ballad is that Seiji Kotani, the Villain Protagonist of the series, is not a stereotypical fat, ugly Devil in Plain Sight, but rather a fresh-faced young man able to put on a Mask of Sanity when off the clock from his burgeoning musical career long enough to have a normal conversation with a college friend and remain unnoticed on a busy train, enough to hide the fact from the public that he is a predatory pedophile.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Most villains, even if they start out as relatively normal criminals, wind up disfigured and/or embracing some kind of super-villain gimmick. Not so with James Gordon Jr., an ordinary, bookish-looking lad who happens to also be a sociopath and Serial Killer.
  • Fables: Kevin Thorn looks like a completely ordinary guy, but is, in fact, the personification of storytelling, whose goal in "The Great Fables Crossover" was to erase the Fables universe from existence and start from scratch.
  • Raptors: In stark contrast to the Molina twins who could easily stand out among the crowd, their vampire rivals look completely mundane due to having mingled with humanity ages ago and taken positions of influence among society. They could be fat, old or completely plain, but deep down they are all depraved monsters that delight in abusing humans. This trope is usually not a problem for the twins, since they have managed to elude their enemies for centuries, but it certainly is for normal characters like Benito and Vicky, since they don't know who to trust as the conspiracy has infiltrated the police, politics, the church, etc. Even Vicky's own family is revealed to be part of it.
  • The Sandman (1989):
    • Thessaly is a powerful and enormously vengeful witch who is at least several millennia old, can travel between different planes of existence, and will obsessively hunt down and murder or cut off the face of anyone who has slighted her. She's slightly shorter than average with light brown hair somewhere in her mid 20s to early 30s, wears large eyeglasses, and strikes people as kinda pretty and also kinda plain at the same time.
    • This is one of the nightmare-inducing qualities of the Collectors story as well. On one end of the spectrum, you have cereal fans who look like sweaty, loserish sexual predators you'd steer clear of at all costs. On the other, you have those who are ordinary-looking in the extreme... and they are just as vicious as the sort you'd try to avoid based on appearances.
  • Sin City: Kevin is just a guy in a sweater and glasses. You wouldn't believe that he is a martial arts master, to say nothing of his knack for eating people. For extra uncanny points, it's a Charlie Brown sweater. Ratcheted up by casting Elijah Wood in the film.

    Fan Works 
  • Discussed in the Kick-Ass fanfiction Fall of a hero, Rise of a legend when Mindy asks why the government don't deal with the criminals like terrorists or enemy armies and they discuss that visually there is no difference between them and civilians.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse:
    • The villains of Nightmares Yet to Come, when at work, tend to wear black hoods, have black coats and glowing orange eyes. Over the course of the first few chapters, Trixie runs into several ponies who turn out to be members of that group, and is absolutely none the wiser, nor has any reason to suspect them of abducting her. Their numbers include a genial teacher, a ditzy socialite (who, admittedly, has a second job as a secret agent), a college student, a Shadowbolt, and two secretaries in Luna's palace, one of whom Trixie has known for years.
    • Several times, it's shown there are Changelings about the place, just pretending (or possibly just being) ordinary ponies, and no-one's the wiser. Not even the notoriously paranoid country of Zaldia, which is lousy with Changelings... one of whom is leading the invasion and is best buds with the country's king. She pretends to be a humble musician.
  • Prince Jewelius, the main antagonist of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic Loved and Lost, is a normal-looking unicorn who initially comes off as a sane nice guy. However, after he takes over Equestria's throne, he gradually reveals himself to be a terribly unhinged sociopath who has secretly hated his aunt Princess Celestia and cousin Princess Cadance and desired to kill them for years, just for being more loved than him. Jewelius himself lampshades this trope by stating that Changelings aren't the only ones capable of putting on façades when he finally reveals his true colors to Twilight Sparkle.
  • A Peaceful Afterlife:
    • Inverted. Kira trying to maintain the lifestyle he had on Earth by doing the exact same things he did to go unnoticed while alive makes him stick out like a sore thumb in Hell, as his particular flavor of Straight Edge Evil is not the norm there.
    • Played Straight with Kira's Mr. Clean persona. Angel Dust notes how a nobody like Kira could easily brush up against a target, boobytrap a doorknob, or deliver a package to blow someone up without them ever seeing it coming.
  • A Rabbit Among Wolves: Discussed In-Universe. Coco, when trying to help Team RWBY rebuild their reputation, explains that Jaune's success with the public is partly because he doesn't wear a mask. His shy, dorky face makes him far more sympathetic and approachable with the public then if he wore the scary looking White Fang mask.
  • Seventh Endmost Vision: Ifalna mentions in Chapter 22 that the weirdest part of seeing Lucrecia was just how normal the horrible, horrible woman looked.
    " You know, the weirdest thing is, she looked so damn normal. After everything, after all Ifalna's terror, I expected... I don't know, a demon, a dragon, some supermonster like the Leviathan the Alliance buried Junon with. Not... just some woman. Young, too, or at least young-looking, with a big ponytail and mismatched eyes."
  • Cult Of Salem: This is why Mercury finds the Cult of Salem so unsettling: they commit incredibly horrible deeds, while also behaving and hanging out like normal people in their spare time.
  • A Man of Iron: When Logan and Hulk succeed in removing the Juggernaut's helmet, Daenerys remarks that he looks like the kind of man she wouldn't think about again after crossing him on the street.

    Films — Animation 
  • Most villains in the Disney Animated Canon are Obviously Evil, but there are a few (typically twist villains or realistic villains) exceptions to this.
    • Part of what makes Pinocchio's Coachman character so terrifying by Disney villain standards is that he basically looks like a normal, grandfatherly old man. There's no clear visual indication of his evil until he makes his Nightmare Face. His only other tell is easy to miss: he has Four-Fingered Hands as opposed to every other human having five.
    • Lady Tremaine in Cinderella has the appearance as a old upper-class lady, which is what she is. There's nothing supernatural about her (at least in the original film), she's just a abusive, tyrannical stepmother towards Cinderella.
    • Bill Sykes in Oliver & Company is a scarily realistic depiction of a mob-involved Loan Shark, and has the appearance of a grey-haired old man with eyeglasses that you can come across on the street.
    • Commander Rourke of Atlantis: The Lost Empire is an unassuming, outwardly friendly middle-aged man compared to the more eccentric members of his team. It makes the part where he has Milo and Kida cornered with a jovial smile on his face all the creepier, especially when he casually decides to leave an entire civilization to die.
    • Prince Hans from Frozen (2013) is a normal looking gentleman, as opposed to the Gonk Duke of Weselton, who turns out to be a Red Herring.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Trope Namer is a scene at the end of the first The Addams Family movie where Wednesday and Pugsley are showing off their Halloween costumes to their family. When asked by Margaret why she's not wearing a costume like her brother, Wednesday announces that she is in costume as a "homicidal maniac" because "they look just like everybody else." The sequel, Addams Family Values, plays this completely straight with Debbie Jellinsky, the Addams' new nanny. A gorgeous blonde dressed all in white, who's actually an Ax-Crazy Black Widow with her sights on Uncle Fester. It eventually turns out she's been killing since childhood.
  • Arsenic and Old Lace: Jonathan Brewster is as Obviously Evil as it gets (looking like Boris Karloff does that) and Teddy Brewster is rather obviously nuts (being dressed like Theodore Roosevelt while believing that you're Theodore Roosevelt does that), but the two elder Brewsters, Abby and Martha, are just a pair of nice little old ladies... who have fatally poisoned twelve lonely old gentlemen looking for a room and buried them in their home's basement by the time the story takes place and don't think there is anything wrong with that (heck, they think that they are doing the bachelors an act of kindness as they would otherwise have no mourners). The only normal member of the family, Mortimer, fears that it's only a matter of time before his symptoms manifest, but he is relieved to learn that he is adopted. He probably did become a little loopy from the events he had to endure through the film, though; just not murderously loopy.
  • Bad Apples: The killers in this movie are a pair of teenage girls who spend their Halloween night torturing and murdering anyone who makes them angry. They spend most of the movie wearing masks (even in class, which gets them sent to the principal's office), so their faces aren't shown until the end, when Ella unmasks them while they're both unconscious... they look like ordinary teenage girls.
  • Barbarian: Frank, at least when he was young, looks like your average Joe of a maintenance worker. This is in spite of the fact that he is a kidnapping, incestuous serial rapist.
  • Capps Crossing has David. At first glance he seems like a decent guy who likes hiking. You would never know he's a psycho killer until he plants his knife in your jugular.
  • Desolation (2017): The killer in the movie is a bearded man with orange sunglasses and a hoodie. He may give off bad vibes, sure, but he still isn't some creepy masked guy.
  • Norman Bates in Psycho. In the book, he's written as middle-aged, homely at best, and a bit creepy (much like his inspiration, Ed Gein), but Hitchcock thought it would be more interesting to make him look wholesome.
  • Jigsaw in the Saw movies, an unassuming old man behind all the depraved showmanship. Extra points because he's dying of brain cancer.
  • John Doe in Se7en. Combine a very subdued performance by Kevin Spacey with a name like "John Doe" (the default name assigned to unidentified male corpses) and you've got a killer who is both chilling and credible.
  • Robin Williams has also played a couple of very troubling antagonists in One Hour Photo and Insomnia as well. While this borders on Playing Against Type here, his character in One Hour Photo was scary because he could have been any random photomat clerk, and he nearly faded into the background anyway.
  • Patrick Bateman from American Psycho. Bateman is apparently such a cookie-cutter yuppie that people keep mistaking him for other yuppies.
  • Numerous villains from CAT-III Exploitation Films made in Hong Kong fits under this, and what's even worse is that most of them are Very Loosely Based on a True Story:
    • Wong Chi-Hang from The Untold Story (alternate title: Human BBQ Pork Buns) is a simple, bespectacled, if somewhat grumpy-looking chef working in a restaurant by day, until the truth is revealed at the end where he murdered the restaurant's previous owner, alongside the ex-owner's wife, sister and five children before grinding their flesh into pork buns. So now you know where the alternate title comes from.
    • Lam Gor-yu from Dr. Lamb is a meek, ordinary taxi driver who works the night shift, and secretly a necrophile who murdered four women during the film, the youngest being a 17-year-old teenager. He would sneak his victim's bodies into his rented apartment the following morning to pleasure themselves with their corpses before dismembering them with impromptu medical equipment, besides having a collection of severed breasts pickled in liquid formaldehyde sliced off from his victims as his Creepy Souvenir for his kills.
    • Kai from Ebola Syndrome killed his boss and his boss' wife after being caught having an affair, before escaping to South Africa where he works in a Chinese restaurant in Johannesburg, murdering his new boss as well before escaping back to Hong Kong. He's the least likely suspect to the string of murders he committed since he looks too much like an average joe.
  • Garland Greene in Con Air, played by Steve Buscemi. The other cons comment on how he doesn't look like an infamous mass-murderer.
  • In Friday the 13th (1980), unlike the later hulking hockey-masked figure of Jason, Pamela Voorhees is a completely normal looking middle-aged lady, dressed in jeans and a sweater. No creepy mask, scars, chainsaw, or anything.
  • Virtually all of the people that David Dunn has psychic flashes about in Unbreakable are seemingly ordinary people who have done or are looking to do bad things. The biggest case being a janitor who is a rapist and a Serial Killer.
  • Devil, which is about five average people trapped in an elevator, one of whom is Satan.
  • The Beast from Kung Fu Hustle turns out to be a dumpy old guy in his underwear. Much of the appeal in general of Kung Fu Hustle is how the martial arts masters turn out to be the most regular, unflattering-looking people in the movie, while the suave, Hollywood-ish Axe Gang are a pathetic joke.
  • The Night of the Hunter: Harry Powell is either this or a Devil in Plain Sight, depending on how sensitive your Evildar is. To all appearances, a charming and folksy preacher and the best stepfather a Kid Hero could ever want. Actually a Bluebeard Serial Killer.
    • A TV-remake of The Night of the Hunter had Harry played by Gerald McRaney, who is possibly best known for appearing in the Touched by an Angel spinoff Promised Land. He played a dad. A dad possibly a lot like yours. Put some role association together, and you have prime Paranoia Fuel.
  • In the comedy film The Man Who Knew Too Little, the main character thinks he's in a Tuxedo and Martini simulation game and, when informed about The Baroness, thinks that she is this elderly woman dressed as a dominatrix ("It was our anniversary!"). The Baroness is a real person, a Torture Technician / Mad Doctor. She is a middle-aged woman of average appearance, maybe even pretty, and she acts completely calm and normal. The film sends the message that unlike in the world of James Bond, villains in the real world aren't always Obviously Evil with a convenient Red Right Hand.
  • Mr. Baek of Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. After a very emotional buildup, a parent of one of a serial killer's victims says, "But you look just like a normal person."
  • Lampshaded in 8mm when Nicolas Cage's character tracks down and unmasks the Snuff Film performer "The Machine" to reveal some ordinary bald guy with glasses.
    Machine/ George Higgins: "What did you expect? A monster?"
  • Dylan Baker's serial killing school principal in Trick 'r Treat.
  • In Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, the slasher killer of the title is, while out of his costume, a normal-looking guy. Because he ISNT Leslie Vernon, he really is just some random guy
  • The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, where the antagonist's true intentions are made incredibly clear to the audience and the protagonist, but the latter has to spend the whole movie trying to prove it.
  • Ben from Man Bites Dog. Sure, he's a hitman and serial killer but other than that, there's absolutely nothing weird about him.
  • Terminator:
    • This was supposed to happen in The Terminator. Lance Henriksen was James Cameron's first choice to play the Terminator and had already appeared in-character at a fundraising event. Arnie originally auditioned for the role of Kyle Reese before switching roles to make the Terminator look much more imposing and threatening; Henriksen ended up playing one of the cops instead.
    • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the default appearance of the shape-shifting villain is a fairly nondescript man (Robert Patrick), as opposed to the lantern-jawed Schwarzenegger. This really brings out the tension in the first part of the movie, before the audience knows that Arnold is the good guy this time around. Or would have, if every single trailer and commercial hadn't capitalized on the awesome T-1000 effects and the line "How do you terminate a Terminator?" thus spoiling the surprise at the time.
    • Terminator: Dark Fate: The Rev-9 takes the outward appearance of a rather unremarkable Latino guy, and is even able to crack jokes with those it's disguised among as if it was just one of the boys.
  • Dominic Greene in Quantum of Solace. According to director Marc Forster, Greene was deliberately styled without make-up, in order to symbolise the 'hidden evils in society'.
  • A nice one in the Bruce Willis movie Red (2010). The operatives bump into a thoroughly ordinary middle-aged woman at the airport, with the most paranoid among them insisting she's a killer, while the others assume he's just crazy. Then after she's released, she turns up again - with a rocket launcher.
  • Halloween: As a six-year-old, Michael Myers is revealed to look like an ordinary dirty blonde boy. In the final minutes of the film, Laurie manages to rip off the adult Michael's mask, revealing that he's still just an ordinary looking brunette young man, though with a fresh eye injury from his fight with Laurie.
  • Kruel: When we see Willie without his ice cream truck clown makeup on, he looks to be an average middle-to-late-aged man,
  • When the cops in There's Something About Mary mistakenly think that Ted is a serial murderer, they remark that they never look like how you expect them upon seeing Ted.
  • In The World's End, the alien replacements all look like regular humans... until they attack.
  • Implied to have been the case with Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street, who - in life - was the janitor at the local elementary school and wore a crumpled brown fedora and a tacky Christmassy sweater, and was secretly murdering (and possibly molesting) kids for years. Of course, by the time we meet him, he's an undead monster with burns all over his body, so his appearance is a bit more striking.
  • At the end of Memories of Murder, a young girl describes a man who is more than likely the killer, and says that he looked "ordinary" and had a "normal" face. This suggests even further that the handsome Hyeon-gyu Park, the main suspect of the case, really was innocent.
  • Ghost in the Machine: When Terri learns that Hochman was the killer who recently died, it's noted that he just looked like a normal guy.
  • While the Cenobites of Hellraiser are terrifying, mutilated demons, most of the human villains fit this trope to a T, which is fitting considering the series commentary on sadistic cruelty hiding everywhere. Most notable is Frank Cotton from the first two films, who looked like a handsome, regular man before he was turned into a skinless monstrosity, but in reality was a sadistic Sense Freak.
  • In Hellbound: Hellraiser II, when the Channard-thing kills the Female, Butterball, and Chatterer, we briefly see who the three were before their transformation into Cenobites—respectively, a beautiful woman; a husky, ordinary-looking man; and, unexpectedly, a teenage boy. Presumably, they shared the same desire Elliot Spencer did before his transformation into Pinhead—to seek out the limits of human pain and pleasure, no matter the cost.
  • Star Wars:
    • In contrast with The Emperor's inhuman appearance in Return of the Jedi, the prequels reveal that he once looked like a friendly old man. Then Revenge of the Sith establishes how he came to look like he did: a blast of his own Force Lightning that backfired in his face. Works in the rebooted canon have Imperial propaganda (and speeches where he doesn't show up in public) using this face instead of his real one for obvious reasons. It's possible, however, that the twisted and deformed face was his real one all along, and that the reflected lightning simply broke the Glamour he had put on himself. It makes sense, considering the stark effects long-term Dark Side use does to people.
    • Count Dooku, one of Palpatine's apprentices, looks like a dignified older gentleman, sharply contrasting his demonic Red and Black and Evil All Over predecessor Maul. He never even develops yellow Sith eyes. (This description also fits another fallen Jedi, Baylan Skoll.)
    • In The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren responds to Rey calling him a "creature in a mask" by removing his helmet. Unlike Vader (who only fit this trope in the brief period between completing his Face–Heel Turn and getting horribly scarred on Mustafar), he's entirely normal-looking without it, and Rey is visibly thrown that her terrifying captor is someone who she could pass on the street and never look at twice.
  • In the film adaptation of Misery, Annie Wilkes was changed from intimidating and unkempt to somebody you could pass on the street and not look twice at. The effect is deeply unsettling.
  • In Captain America: Civil War, Big Bad Zemo is completely unremarkable-looking (at least in context). This is a drastic change from his comic book counterpart, a heavily-scarred, garish-looking former Nazi.
  • In the first third of A History of Violence, two mass murdering thieves on a cross-country killing spree massacre an entire motel staff in the beginning and then try to rob the diner of Tom Stall, the main protagonist, and kill everyone there. The older partner looks like bad news right from the start, which Tom notes the moment they enter the diner, but the younger robber looks just like any ordinary late-20s to early-30s white guy from the suburbs. In truth he's just as vicious as his more threatening partner, being a serial-killing rapist who murdered a child in the opening sequence and who violently prevents the waitress from Tom's diner from leaving, casually sexually assaulting her while doing so.
  • The unnamed killer from Hush looks like a fairly normal 30-year-old man when he takes off his mask, though he does have a tattoo on his neck.
  • Peter and Paul in Funny Games look like a pair of clean-cut young men who want to borrow some eggs... until they unleash their more sadistic side to a hapless suburban family.
  • The title character in The Stepfather series of movies looks and acts like an ordinary-bordering-on-ideal father figure, if you ignore the fact that his go-to solution for discovering that his latest family doesn't live up to his standards is to murder all of them and move on to the next one.
  • The Hostel series of movies features the Elite Hunting group, made up of wealthy sadists who pay top-dollar for the privilege of torturing kidnapped tourists... and who otherwise are perfectly normal people with regular lives and loved ones.
  • From Predators: Edwin looks and acts like a completely normal guy, especially when surrounded by badasses and killers, but he turns out to be a psychopathic serial killer who enjoys drugging his victims and playing with them while they're helpless.
  • They Look Like People: One of the protagonists is convinced that "monsters" are lurking in society, looking like ordinary people, possibly even his friends. Whether this is true or he's having paranoid delusions is a central question.
  • In Deadly Advice, Jack the Ripper confides to Jodie that the secret for getting away with murder is to look like someone no one would ever suspect: pointing out that he looks like a harmless old man, and not the monster everyone was searching for.
  • Berlin Syndrome: Andi turns out to hold women captive in his apartment (Clare and Nathalie, a Canadian tourist previously, perhaps more). Even his own father is entirely ignorant about Andi's true character, as he comes off as a normal and charming man, aside from a few moments where he seems "off". Even then he's just weird or rude, not dangerous.
  • Arlington Road: Oliver and Cheryl just seem like normal, suburban Americans (albeit who have a troubled young son). Then it turns out they're far-right terrorists.
  • The very end to Hell Fest reveals that the Other lives in a nice suburban home and has a loving daughter who has no idea that her father is a serial killer.
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Unlike her toad-like Gonky Femme description in the book, Dolores Umbridge is an unremarkable older woman, played by Imelda Staunton. Her grandmotherly appearance heightens the contrast between her saccharine demeanour and her horrible actions.
  • Preservation: All three of the psycho hunters look (and act) like normal teenage boys without their masks. One is shown playing games on his phone, another is shown to have asthma and uses an inhaler, he and the leader text each other (while sitting five feet apart, no less), and the leader has a completely casual phone conversation with his mother.
  • Spree: On the surface, Villain Protagonist Kurt Kunkle is a rather awkward and unassuming young man.
  • The opening of Pulp Fiction features a lovey-dovey couple in a diner who coo and call each other Pumpkin and Honey Bunny. They then get up and violently rob the place. Later in the movie, the two perverted hicks who briefly imprison Bruce Willis and Ving Rhames in the Torture Cellar beneath their pawn shop also fall under this trope.
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania: The Stinger shows a presentation on time being given by an eccentric looking man with typical wild hair of a Mad Scientist calling himself "Victor Timely". In the audience is Loki, who is positively terrified of the guy, and with good reason since Victor is an alternate of Kang, who just happens to look like a nebbish dweeb rather than the Obviously Evil looks of all his counterparts.
  • Wishcraft: The killer is Mr. Turner, a very ordinary looking, bespectacled middle aged man who teaches history in high school.

  • In Alice, Girl from the Future, Rat, even in the later books, is one of the galaxy's most feared and resourceful criminal masterminds. His default human form is that of a short, thin, unassuming man, with a face so forgettable it borders on The Nondescript.
  • Animorphs:
    • The Yeerks are aliens that control sentient beings by tunneling into their heads through their ear canals and spreading themselves around the brain, sinking into the cracks, etc. So the protagonists are aware that anyone they know could be a "Controller". Like Jake's brother Tom, their Vice Principal Chapman, and many more throughout the series.
    • To really drive the paranoia home, it's not at all uncommon for the Animorphs to cause a public spectacle... and start getting attacked by random members of the crowd.
  • In Around the World in Eighty Days, the Bank of England has been robbed by a man who unfortunately resembles protagonist Phileas Fogg. The British consul in Suez remarks that the description given is that of an honest man, to which the detective Fix declares that great robbers always look like honest men; the ones who look like rascals are too easily caught.
  • Bas-Lag Cycle: In Perdido Street Station the city of New Crobuzon's militia forces are basically this trope. The majority of the militia is made up of agents that walk around the city like any normal person. This is used as a great effect when a strike breaks out and eventually leads to fighting between two crowds. The militia has people in both. Even the crowd that's on strike. They could be anywhere at any time and you would only know when it's already too late.
  • A Discussed Trope more than once in the Bernie Gunther novels, several of which are set in Nazi Germany.
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses: Upon meeting Amarantha, Feyre states that while she's attractive she's not some devastatingly beautiful goddess of death, which actually makes Feyre more afraid of her, seeing as this seemingly ordinary woman has laid waste to armies, enslaved High Lords and is the most powerful being in Prythian.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Vampires from the Red Court can put on a "fleshmask" that hides their true appearance, making them look like attractive humans instead of emaciated bat-like creatures.
    • It is remarked that Goodman Grey looks absolutely average, when in reality he is the son of a human and a skinwalker.
  • Prague Fatale: Bernie watches Nazi Party leaders Reinhard Heydrich and Karl Hermann Frank, in civilian clothes, in the audience at a circus. He can't get over how they look "just like everyone else", when of course Bernie knows they are brutal, vicious murderers.
    • Bernie makes the same point in a police conference, where he gives a speech about when he caught a Serial Killer and then comments about how evil people can't be spotted, how they look like everybody else. But he's also talking about the Nazis, and in this instance he is indulging in a little In-Universe Getting Crap Past the Radar, since among the people in the audience are arch-criminals like Heinrich Himmler and Arthur Nebe.
  • Agatha Christie loves this trope. The murderer is always someone who looks completely normal, and whom the reader would never have suspected.
  • Circleverse: In Shatterglass, the serial killer turns out to be one of the Hindu Untouchable/Dalit Expy characters who have been constantly on the outskirts of the protagonists' radar, cleaning, being abused, and biding their time.
  • In Dandelion Wine, the serial killer called "the Lonely One" turns out to be a perfectly ordinary-looking man when he's finally caught. Douglas and his friends, who had fun spinning tales about the Lonely One in earlier chapters, are disappointed that he isn't the supernaturally creepy being they envisioned him to be and, being children, decide that this mundane man can't be the actual Lonely One and that the real Lonely One is still out there somewhere.
  • Dexter goes to a lot of trouble to seem like just an average guy.
  • In Discworld:
    • Carcer Dun is a Psycho Knife Nut who at a glance looks like nothing more than a cheerful fellow with an honest face, which enabled him to murder an off-duty cop who bumped into him through pure rotten luck and didn't even recognize him.
    • Psycho for Hire Stratford in Snuff is an unremarkable youngish fellow who looks like nobody in particular — until he has you at the wrong end of a weapon when he looks distinctly, awfully like Stratford.
    • Exploited by the Ankh-Morpork City Watch in a non-villainous example. When it's an open secret that they have a werewolf on the force, having a Gonk like Corporal Nobby Nobbs around to divert attention from the attractive but (usually) very human-looking Angua trips up any number of crooks.
  • The infected humans in Eden Green are eventually taken over by their needle-symbiotes, but otherwise appear completely human unless freshly-injured and still healing.
  • The Silencers in The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. Used to chilling effect early in the novel when Cassie finds an injured soldier dying in an abandoned convenience store but doesn't know if he's a Silencer or not and so shoots him out of fear. It turns out he was perfectly human.
  • Girls Don't Hit: Miles, Joss and Echo all just look like ordinary people, though their business is murder for hire. Joss even goes out of her way to seem normal, marrying and having kids just to fit in (despite this not really being her wish), since most don't suspect a middle class family woman.
  • Heralds of Valdemar: In Take a Thief, the Big Bad has what Skif's mentor calls "a face-shaped face".
  • Hurog:
    • In Dragon Bones, after killing a would-be rapist, Ward mentions that the man didn't look much older than him, maybe even younger, a mere boy. He reminds himself that the man would have killed him, too, if he had given him the chance.
    • Dragon Blood has an ordinary-looking, grandfatherly old man, who wants to teach his grandson his trade ... which happens to be torturing. The contrast between his genuine disappointment that the boy doesn't want to follow in his footsteps, and the fact that he is torturing a woman makes the scene all the more horrible.
  • Many of Stephen King's stories feature antagonists who look like perfectly ordinary people, most notably:
    • The novella Apt Pupil in Different Seasons describes Todd Bowden as an all-American kid with reasonable grades, a paper route, and overall nothing to indicate his obsession with concentration camps and Nazi war crimes. Naturally, the fugitive Nazi war criminal Todd uncovers and befriends also counts, as his appearance is just that of an old man now.
    • The True Knot in Doctor Sleep look specifically like harmless old men and women clad in lots of polyester and travelling around in their RV. They also torture children with psychic powers and feed on the "steam" they produce in order to sustain their own immortality.
    • Perhaps the Uber-example is Randall Flagg in The Stand. Under hypnosis, Tom Cullen tells the Free Zone Committee that "He looks like anybody you might pass on the street"; when Dayna and Glen finally come face-to-face with him, they're astounded that he looks like an ordinary guy, not a monster.
  • Red Dragon spends a lot of time dealing with the day-to-day working life of Francis Dolarhyde, its eponymous Serial Killer, the sheer mundane nature of which make his horrific murder sprees all the more unsettling. In a twist, the killer thinks of himself as hideous and disfigured, because of a cleft lip he had as a child... except that it's barely noticeable after all the surgery he got for it.
  • The Scholomance: The true Big Bad of the series, Orion's mother Ophelia Rhys-Lake, is the most powerful maleficer seen in all three books. Despite that, she looks nothing like a normal maleficer would, be it supernaturally beautiful or decrepit and haggard. No, instead she looks just like a perfectly normal middle-aged woman who takes care of herself, and that is what El finds the most unsettling about her.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The Tickler is a brutally efficient Torture Technician, but Arya notes that he's a completely unexceptional and ordinary-looking man while not plying his trade.
    • Later in the series we meet Qyburn, who combines this with Affably Evil to give him a "grandfatherly" appearance, masking his true colours as an Evilutionary Biologist and Torture Technician extraordinaire.
    • Lord Roose Bolton is one of the evilest characters in the series (even if he does his best to hide it) and is described as an unremarkable man of average height and build with a plain face, and no distinguishing features apart from his "pale" eyes. Slightly played with in that he still has a very creepy aura, with his soft voice.
  • Dr. Impossible from Soon I Will Be Invincible is a short guy just this side of middle-aged. When he walks down the street in his civvies, he's completely unremarkable. With his costume on, he looks more like the Evil Genius Super Villain he is.
  • Part of the threat posed by the spy ring in The Thirty-Nine Steps is that there's nothing remarkable about them. Several times Hannay encounters perfectly harmless seeming people who turn out to be members of the group. At the novel's climax, Hannay goes to a house which he knows to be the base of the ringleaders, and finds the people living there are so ordinary that he comes very close to leaving again convinced that he's made a mistake.
  • Tortall Universe: In the Beka Cooper novel Terrier, Beka and her mentors search for the Shadow Snake, a kidnapper and child murderer named after the local Boogeyman. They are shocked to learn the Shadow Snake's true identity: the grandmotherly proprietor of the local pastry shop.
  • Invoked by the Grey Men in The Wheel of Time, assassins who are cloaked in a Perception Filter that makes them look ordinary and forgettable... so ordinary and forgettable that you almost forget seeing them at all when they were the only person you passed in an otherwise empty hallway just before coming across a dead body.
  • The Witches: The early chapters of the book hammer in that witches are difficult to detect because they are very good at blending in with the general population; while they do have some physical tells, they're either easily concealed or difficult to spot unless you're close enough to them as to be in danger.
    REAL WITCHES dress in ordinary clothes and look very much like ordinary women. They live in ordinary houses and they work in ORDINARY JOBS.
    This is why they are so hard to catch.
  • Worlds of Shadow: Shadow is revealed to be just a plump woman whose appearance is middle-aged, though she's actually centuries old.
  • Leonard Cohen's simple yet effective poem "All There is to Know About Adolf Eichmann":
    NUMBER OF TOES………………Ten

    What did you expect?
    Oversize incisors?
    Green saliva?

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the series Adam-12, Reed and Malloy were helping a female officer conduct a rape-resistance class at a local college. When one of the attendees asked what a rapist would look like, the lady cop pointed to the pair of heroes and said, "Just like them. A man."
  • American Horror Story: Asylum: Dr. Oliver Thredson, a compassionate and upstanding psychiatrist who is actually the infamous serial killer, Bloody Face.
  • In The Americans, Elizabeth, Phillip, and their handler Claudia are KGB operatives but speak with flawless American accents.
  • Babylon 5:
    • In the episode "Intersections in Real Time", Sheridan has been captured and is being tortured in a prison cell somewhere. The Torture Technician who comes to make him give a False Confession is not a bloodthirsty brute, but a mild-looking and mostly soft-spoken bureaucrat who looks like a family accountant or somebody's math teacher, and who administers Electric Torture and poisoned food like it's just another day on the job. Word of God is that this was all intentional, as the creator wanted to remind his fans that not all evil men look or even act evil.
    • While he's almost exclusively He Who Must Not Be Seen, the few times President Clark is seen onscreen, he has an ordinary appearance, and the fact that his name is so ordinary also adds into this trope.
    • This is definitely not in effect for Mr. Morden, the most frequent human representative of the Shadows, but it is when Captain Sheridan briefly meets Justin, the highest-ranking human working for the Shadows, in "Z'ha'dum". Justin is a middle-aged man who has the air of a kindly grandfather, complete with a cane, bushy mustache, and enormous eyebrows. The very first thing he does upon meeting Sheridan is to invite Sheridan to have tea and explains that he has chamomile tea prepared because it helps Justin to sleep at night. If you saw him walking a hypothetical grandchild down the street, you'd probably automatically smile and/or nod at him just because he seems so likable.
  • Batwoman (2019) give us the Candy Lady, a white suburban woman who kidnaps kids and cruelly brainwashes them so that they can be sold to the gangs. In a universe where most of the villains have either a mask, a cool outfit, or a facial deformity, Candy Lady has absolutely nothing that makes her stand out. Probably everyone who watches the show has seen at least one woman who looks almost exactly like her.
  • Being Human (UK): Herrick, the Big Bad of Season One and the vampire "king" of Bristol. In the unaired pilot, he was a tall, imposing Scary Black Man who looked like he had walked out of Vampire: The Masquerade, complete with leather duster and nightclub. In the series proper he's a non-threatening, average height, dumpy, middle-aged white guy who dresses in off-the-rack business casual or his police uniform.
  • The Black Mirror episode Crocodile features Villain Protagonist Mia, a perfectly ordinary-looking woman who helps her boyfriend cover up a hit-and-run, later proceeding to kill him when he is on the verge of confessing, an unlucky insurance investigator, her husband and their baby in a desparate attempt to Leave No Witnesses.
  • Breaking Bad:
    • The series contrasts the over the top antics of the Axe-Crazy Salamanca clan with the ordinary-looking members of Gus' criminal organization. The Salamancas rely on intimidation and crazy violence for their reputation. Gus prefers to blend in and appear to be extremely boring and affable. He also goes to great lengths to make sure that his underlings do not attract any unnecessary attention. Walt strides the line between these two extremes as he knows that he has to be as nondescript as possible but his pride and ego constantly prompt him to do things that will get him noticed.
    • Todd is a heartless, casual sociopath associated with a Neo-Nazi gang through his uncle, and is capable of killing an innocent little boy with no more reaction than a shrug and saying "Shit happens." He looks like a blonde all-American kid in his early 20s who seems like he was probably the friendly but slightly dim jock in high school who still hasn't fully outgrown his high school ways a few years after graduating. Overall, he looks like one of the show's most normal characters.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Not often used in the series, but this quote deserves mention:
      Willow: (in reference to a murderer) It could be anyone. It could be me!'s not, though.
    • Played straight in Season 5 with Glory, a Physical God with Super-Strength, Super-Speed, and Nigh-Invulnerability... who looks like an average pretty girl you'd see on the street. In fact, the first time the Scoobies meet her, she's casually buying items for a spell at the Magic Box. Since only Buffy (who wasn't there) knew what she looked like, the gang thinks nothing of her until they realize she bought items for a dangerous Summoning Ritual and would require tremendous power to be able to perform that particular spell; cue Oh, Crap!.
    • As a whole, vampires can easily pass for human, and there's virtually no way to tell them apart from humans until they assume their Game Face. This diminishes as a vamp gets older, where their ability to assume human form is lost.
  • Two of Cold Case's most notorious killers embodied this trope to a T. One, George Marks, was overweight, balding—and a rabid misogynist who kidnapped women by disguising himself as a cop, then forced them to strip to their underwear and run through the woods for hours before finally finishing them off with a gunshot to the chest. The other, John Smith, was incredibly average looking and well-mannered, easily tempting his victims to walk away with him. And, you know, his name was John Smith, which is probably the blandest name in human history.
  • Some of the UnSubs in Criminal Minds are sleazy looking, creepy, brutish or in some way unusual, but the vast majority look like regular people. In one episode, a woman is being followed by an obsessive stalker who isn't identified until the third act, at which point you realised he was standing in the background of half her scenes. Another notable one is the unassuming killer from the episode "Lucky", in reality, was a devil-worshipping cannibal. Not to mention the episode "Normal", which is entirely based around the fact that the killer looks completely unassuming.
  • CSI: NY:
    • A composite drawing of a suspect in "Buzzkill" is so generic, Mac snarks to Angell, "So all we have to do is find everybody with two eyes, a nose and a mouth."
    • The perp in "Party Down" is described as a male with "dark hair, light skin and a bit of a stutter".
  • Dexter: Polite, charming, good-looking, and Dexter Morgan even works for the police. You'd never know he was a calculating serial killer-killer.
  • There's a certain stereotypical look you tend to see for hardcore OPA members in The Expanse: tall, note  muscular, note  and men almost always have slightly overgrown beards and punk style haircuts. Regardless of gender, most have facial or neck tattoos that are a symbol of their grudges against the "Inner Planets", Earth and Mars. By contrast, Marco Inaros is a man of rather normal height and build, with a soft-spoken demeanor, a youthful, clean shaven, and even boyish face (despite being old enough to have a son who is in his late teens-early 20s), with no visible tattoos and who prefers to rely on a front of reasonableness and charm instead of brute force. He's also a ruthless radical with a plan to go much further than pretty much any other OPA faction would, by covering multiple asteroids with Martian Steal Technology and launching them at Earth, which has devastating effects on the entire planet. Ashford lampshades on more than one occasion how Marco is dangerous because he knows how to exploit this trope, and make it, his convincing speeches (which often have a point), and his charisma all work for him.
  • Frasier: Lampshaded when Frasier recalls a line from his old performance in Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians:
    On the contrary, Major, many a psychotic killer would would appear to be quite normal. You see, you can never suspect that underneath that calm exterior there lies the heart of a maniac.
    • Being a psychiatrist, he then adds, "Happens to be true, by the way."
  • Game of Thrones: In the books, the sadistic, Axe-Crazy Ramsay Bolton is fleshy, worm-lipped and ugly, while his show counterpart (played by Iwan Rheon) is very normal looking, to the point that he easily passes himself off as a random house retainer.
  • In Graceland, FBI Agent Paul Briggs has a confrontation with the always masked cartel hitman who years earlier forcibly addicted Briggs to heroin and killed a bunch of his fellow agents. In the aftermath of a Gun Struggle, Briggs pulls the hood off the dead assassin... and sees the ordinary face of some guy he doesn't know. Briggs goes as far as to lampshade this trope and berate himself for having expected anything else. (Unknown to Briggs, the real assassin is still out there... and he's also a guy who Briggs doesn't know and looks just like everyone else.)
  • The villain of the pilot episode of Grimm is a mailman who wears loafers and cardigans, collects porcelain figurines, does needlepoint, makes homemade chicken pot pies, and eats people. note 
    • All Wesen, since most of the time humans cannot see their true form.
  • A sketch from Kids in the Hall features an ordinary-looking guy in pajamas and a robe having breakfast. When he begins his monologue revealing he's a mass murderer, it's a bit of a surprise.
  • The defendant in the Law & Order episode "Hubris" is a mild-mannered real estate salesman and a regular Casanova with the ladies. As it turns out, he also murdered his girlfriend, the old couple who were employing her, and her 6-year-old daughter, all to cover up a fifth murder that he had already committed years before. And while the detectives know he did it because they see security camera footage of the crime (suppressed at trial, natch), the audience never sees him doing anything criminal or sinister at all. To the very end of the episode, this mass-murdering scumbag just looks like everyone else.
    • In "Bad Faith", an episode involving a Pedophile Priest, Van Buren comments on how easily predators blend into normal society, even into positions of trust, and that it's "too bad they don't glow in the dark".
    • The Big Bad of the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit season 13 finale/season 14 opener is a frumpy, average-looking woman who is first introduced tending to the animals on her farm. She looks more like an elementary school teacher than someone who's engaged in sex trafficking, arranged a string of murders, and is using her prostitution business to blackmail half the cops and prosecutors in the state of New York.
  • On Lost, a show filled with so many pretty yet stupid people, it's mild-mannered ferret-faced chartered-accountant-lookalike Benjamin Linus who really runs the table.
  • Luke Cage (2016): Looking like a seemingly random pedestrian, Bushmaster walks up to Luke while he's minding his own business and being filmed by D.W. Griffith, and proceeds to lay him out flat in two moves, just because he can.
  • In the Masters of Horror episode "Pick Me Up", the dueling serial killers Walker and Wheeler both look fairly inconspicuous as a young drifter and a middle-aged trucker, respectively. Walker discusses the trope proper:
    Walker: Your genuinely dangerous individuals — they almost never look crazy. They don't have any weird tattoos, they don't have any weird stitches on their face, funny-shaped heads. They are NOT predictable.
  • Person of Interest: "M.I.A." features a hitman who seems like a perfectly ordinary, harmless man. A perfect cover, as Reese and Finch realize.
  • The Yin Yang Killer from Psych. It turns out she was standing right there among the crowd in the background of nearly every scene.
  • The Rookie: A serial killer is revealed to be an ordinary-looking, seemingly kindly older man with senility.
  • The Sandman (2022):
    • John Dee is a rather rumpled-looking man in his fifties, and because he spends most of the series in his pajamas and a borrowed overcoat, he seems too harmless to be a murderer escaped from a mental hospital. In "A Hope In Hell," John's befuddled appearance inspires pity from a passing motorist, who happily gives him a lift, while in "24/7", John looks so unassuming that it takes an entire episode for Bette to realize that he's directly responsible for the ongoing Mind Rape of the diner patrons.
    • Several episodes in the latter half of the first season feature a gathering of serial killers; all of them, with maybe a couple of outliers, look like ordinary people you wouldn't look twice at when passing them in the street. The convener of the gathering is a soft-spoken bespectacled little man who looks like a retired accountant or math teacher... and makes clothing out of the skins of his victims.
  • Sherlock:
    • The killer in "A Study in Pink" is an unassuming old man that works as a cab driver.
    • Moriarty looks snazzy in a suit, but he also has no problem blending in and convincing others that he's just a normal guy on several occasions. When he's wearing his baseball cap and jacket, you wouldn't give him a second glance on the street.
  • The guards and staff who run the Deadly Game in Squid Game are no more than regular everyday people, just like the contestants. When Player 119 learns about this by forcing one of the guards to unmask — and finds himself face to face with a relatively ordinary-looking teenager — he is so horrified that he immediately shoots himself.
  • Supernatural: The fact that the demons and monsters can and will look like anyone else is very heavily used on the show.
  • Most of the accused on Canadian courtroom series This is Wonderland. Since most of the show was set in small claims courts or mental health court, most of them were normal people who had just made terrible mistakes or had been put in a terrible situation. This made the rare appearance of a genuine monster all the more startling.
  • True Lies (2023): The Wolf is a notorious hitman who is described as horrifying. It turns out he looks like just a nerdy, friendly man who's quite average, though his darker side does show to Harry. He tells Helen that his first name is also Nathan.
  • Twin Peaks:
    • To an extent, BOB He basically looks like an extra from a bar scene - a denim-clad old man with stringy grey hair who smells like burnt motor oil. In fact, given that his entire presence in the show is basically a case of Throw It In!, his appearance is mostly modeled on what the set dresser happened to be wearing the day he got accidentally caught in the shot. On the other hand, you probably couldn't have a conversation with him, since he mostly runs around snarling at people and hiding in the woods.
    • This also applies to Leland Palmer, seemingly a perfectly normal family man and lawyer... who is actually a Serial Killer who has been raping his own daughter for years, under the Demonic Possession of the above BOB.
  • Heroic variant: The Regents in Warehouse 13 are not at all what Artie expected. However, they all look a little too ordinary...
    • Some artifacts are a non-human version of this. Who would have suspected that the tip jar at a food truck was behind a mini-Zombie Apocalypse?
  • The Watch (2021): Sybil reacts like this on meeting the man who killed her parents, who's a professional Assassin, saying he looks like an accountant (he's ordinary-looking with glasses).
  • The Wheel of Time (2021): Darkfriends (followers of the Dark One) it turns out don't often have any sign before they're revealed (although a few like Ishamael are pretty sinister to begin with). For instance, Moiraine (one of their most dedicated enemies) turns out to have a Darkfriend in her own friendly and polite nephew.
  • Parodied in Wings in the episode "Murder She Roast," when the cast (most specifically, Brian) believes that Fay is a wanted killer:
    Brian: Oh, that's what every homicidal maniac's neighbor says about them. "He was the sweetest, kindest, gentlest man I have ever met. Was very quiet. Always said 'Hello.' Helped me build a dog pen." Just once I would like to hear them say: "He was a raving lunatic. I feared for my life. I was just waitin' for the chainsaw to come rippin' through the wall!"
  • The second season of The Wire introduces The Greek, the head of an international crime syndicate which supplies heroin and cocaine to the drug gangs in Baltimore and also runs a large human trafficking ring. The Greek is an enigmatic figure who never sees or speaks with anyone outside his organization, no matter how important a partner they may be. Nobody guesses that the grandfatherly man constantly reading the newspaper in a little diner is the mastermind of the organization that causes untold amounts of misery and crime on multiple continents. Even the police dismiss him at first. In the one picture they get of him, they initially write him off as a random bystander and think it's the man in the expensive suit standing next to him (a lawyer giving advice to the Greek) that is the mysterious kingpin they've been investigating.
  • This trope happens a lot on The X-Files since the villains usually take pains to blend into society and are only outed when unnatural things start to happen:
    • Eugene Tooms in the episodes "Squeeze" and "Tooms".
    • Donnie Pfaster of "Irresistible". Scully comments on how extraordinarily ordinary he is in her closing report on the case.
    • John Lee Roche, the serial-killer-of-girls in "Paper Hearts", looks and talks like a balding salesman, which he was before he got caught.
    • The vampire town in "Bad Blood".
    • The villain in "Folie à Deux" was a giant monster, disguised as a human being in a normal company.
    • Though not a villain, the alien in "The Unnatural" lives convincingly like a human baseball player. It's his whole motivation, in fact.
    • The brain-eating man in "Hungry" took pains to disguise himself. Undisguised, he resembled a cross between a bald man and a shark.
    • The Alien Bounty Hunter can shape-shift into anyone he wants.
    • The Super Soldier human/alien hybrids are indistinguishable from humans until you look at the back of their neck. Or they kill you. Whichever comes first.

  • The Price of Fear: The killer is often someone quite unassuming. In particular we have "The Man Who Hated Scenes", where a quiet and shy man commits a coldly premeditated murder.
  • Lampshaded in the Sherlock Holmes (BBC Radio) episode "The Ferrers Documents". When Holmes visits the suspect, Ferrers suggests Holmes is there to see if he looks like a murderer. Holmes replies that, in his experience, murderers can look like anyone.

  • The majority of characters in Survival of the Fittest are Ordinary High School Students, meaning that oftentimes people who choose to play the game fit this trope in some way or another. This is particularly true in regards to v4, where there has been an increased focus on realism. Many, many characters in pre-game come off as people who you could easily find at your school in real life, but once you get to in-game... well, it brings out the worst in people. Danya himself can fit as well, as aside from bearing scars from attempts on his life he's described as someone who wouldn't particularly stand out in a crowd; Bryan Calvert even says Danya looks like his father.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Princess: The Hopeful: This is one of the primary threats posed by the Mnemosynes. Unlike the bestial Darkspawn, Mnemosynes welcomed the Darkness in without a fight and it didn't need to destroy their minds or warp their bodies to make them into its servants. As such, Mnemosynes are physically indistinguishable from regular humans and they retain the capacity for long-term planning and the self-control to interact normally with other people.

    Video Games 
  • This serves as paranoia fuel in Final Fantasy XIII, as the l’cie chosen by Pulsean Fal’Cie look like ordinary people except for a brand somewhere on their bodies. However, one of the protagonists actually uses this to humanize them to a squad of soldiers, pointing out that they’re still ordinary citizens who love Cocoon, and that it’s not their fault that they were around these godlike beings when they just happened to need servants.
  • In Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, one of the leaders of the cult you're hunting, is a woman named Nyx The Shadow. Her defining characteristic is that she looks so ordinary, she can easily blend into society and spy on people for information which the cult later uses as blackmail. It's possible to walk past her and not notice because she looks like an average civilian NPC until evidence you gather exposes her. And once you try to assassinate her, you discover that she is a very capable fighter, and she has a lot of cult members in plain clothes around her. This on top of the soldiers attacking you, and possible bounty hunters, makes what seemed like a simple stealth kill into a frustrating boss fight if you attack unprepared.
  • In Persona 4, it's established from the beginning that there's a serial killer in Inaba. In such a small town, it would be incredibly easy to fly under the radar by just not doing anything extraordinary. That makes it hurt more when you find out that it's Tohru Adachi, the bumbling comic relief detective who works under your uncle. It's hard to believe that a man you've had in your house for dinner several times is actually a closet Misanthrope Supreme who was willing to end the world just for kicks.
  • There are tons of examples from western RPGs that feature many different NPCs. Often the character models of some of the most evil characters, such as Bann Vaughan from Dragon Age: Origins or Nassana Dantius from Mass Effect 2 don't really look that much different or more sinister than the character models of any of the other NPCs of their race.
  • The true villain of Alice: Madness Returns, Dr Angus Bumby is a rapist turned child sex trafficker who dresses in a brown tweed suit and spectacles, giving every impression of being a boring Victorian professional. In sharp contrast to the other characters in London (good and bad), he doesn't sport hideously exaggerated facial features, a grotesque-looking physique, or some kind of hammily accented performance; like Alice, he looks perfectly ordinary and almost never raises his voice.
  • In Mitadake High, every sprite looking the same except for their hair and gender can easily provide you with this trope, as one out of the players has to be the killer. Subverted (at least for the characters) if the killer is the "Creepy Red-Haired Guy".
  • Mega Man Battle Network 3 has one subplot in which a bunch of generic NPCs turn out to be undercover World 3 agents planted in a strategic location specifically to provide cover stories for a more conspicuous (and well-known) agent.
  • When Shepherd starts detailing Makarov in Modern Warfare you expect based on the other villains that he would be some kind of monster or Expy of Stalin. Shepherd then shows you a photo, looking all the world like one for a passport, and Makarov looks much more like an off-duty soldier or businessman than a terrorist mastermind.
  • In Jhin, the Virtuoso's backstory in League of Legends, no one suspected the elusive murderer known as the "Golden Demon" would turn out to be an unassuming stagehand named Khada Jhin.
  • Clanden from Fallout: New Vegas is an entirely normal-looking man in a sweater vest who is, in fact, a truly evil serial killer who makes snuff films and was hired by the Omertas to build a device to poison the inhabitants of the Strip with chlorine gas.
  • Mr. Jefferson in Life Is Strange turns out to be the mastermind behind the darker events of Arcadia Bay in Episode 5. Fittingly, the player is led to initially assume that the clearly unhinged Nathan Prescott is the one pulling the strings. After all, he pulls a gun on Chloe in Episode 1 alone and is the one pumping drugs to students as part of the vortex club. Chloe's overly paranoid asshole stepfather David Madsen is also thrown into the ring as a possible suspect due to his abrasive behavior namely stalking students as you find out in his files, but no, the seemingly good-hearted "cool" teacher Mr. Jefferson is the same guy behind the disappearance of Rachel Amber and Kate Marsh's attempted suicide/suicide, And illicit photography sessions with the aforementioned girls.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords invokes this in-universe with the life-eating Dark-Side entity of intent Darth Nihilus, should the player-character choose to let his liberated servant Visas Marr remove his skull-like mask upon his death; if the player asks her what his face looked like, she will simply reply "A man. Nothing more."
    • This is actually just one of two responses and only the one above is this trope, "Tell me what you saw." gives you a stranger answer.
  • In The Witcher 3, the Big Bad of the Hearts of Stone expansion is Gaunter O'Dimm, the average-looking merchant Geralt met at the very beginning of the game who's revealed to be a Satanic Archetype. It's taken even farther by the revelation that he spies on Geralt over the course of the DLC subtly disguised as various background characters, with Word of God stating he was designed to perfectly blend in with the crowds.
  • The Neighbor in Hello Neighbor appears to be a painfully average across-the-street neighbor, but the player character isn't buying it. Considering he may be responsible for the kidnapping of several children and the lengths he will go to in order to keep the protagonist out of his house...
  • Seen in the online Hacking/Tailing mode in the Watch_Dogs series. The enemy players take the appearance of random civilians, so unless they are profiled or act out of the ordinary they are indistinguishable from NPCs.
  • In a late mission in Hitman (2016), one of your targets is interrogating a low-ranking courier of Providence for information about his boss, once of Providence's commanders. The poor scrub can only tell him that his boss looks like "a banker, like a guy who'd sit next to you on the bus". Sure enough, you see a major leader of Providence (and presumably said boss) in various cutscenes, and, apart from a nice suit and a bit of a raspy voice, he looks like a a perfectly generic middle-aged guy who wouldn't stand out in a crowd.
  • Yan-Chan, of Yandere Simulator, is by all appearances an Ordinary High-School Student—however, as the title indicates, she is utterly emotionless except for her obsession with her beloved Senpai. She can eliminate her romantic rivals in a number of ways, but blackmail and murder are not off the table. As YandereDev puts it, this is a horror video game—where you play the monster.
    • Info-chan, an amoral information broker, also looks like a normal high schooler (well, her back does at least). Her hair is bright red, but that's not uncommon in context.
    • The Bully clique look like standard ganguro girls, but they're perfectly able and willing to bully students into suicide. Repeatedly.
    • Before the game proper, there's Ayano's mom Ryoba. Looks like a sweet motherly lady... until you get her alone with the guy she kidnapped.
  • Asav from Uncharted: The Lost Legacy looks more akin to a college professor than any sort of terrorist or warlord. Which makes his quiet, two-decibels-above-a-whisper-loud speeches about the bloody practices of the Hoysala empire all the more unnerving.
  • Downplayed Trope in Town of Salem. While villains (The Mafia, the Serial Killer, the Arsonist, the Werewolf, the Jester, the Executioner, the Witch, the Coven, the Pirate, the Plaguebearer and the Vampires) start with their identities hidden (like everyone else), Investigative roles can get clues to identify them. The Vampires are particularly good at this, as they can turn townies into more vampires without anyone knowing until it's too late.
  • The Darkness Among Us trailer for Dead by Daylight has Frank, the leader of the Legion, tricking David into thinking he's a survivor before putting on his mask and stabbing him. In game while they don't have any power resembling this, their faces are fully modeled underneath their masks and they all look relatively normal.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda: The Charlatan, the leader of the mysterious and nigh-omniscient Collective on Kadara. They turn out to be a guy Ryder's been chatting with since they first set foot on the planet, the charming and genial Reyes Vidal, once nothing more than a humble shuttle pilot for the Initiative.
  • The Tiamat Sacrament: The Big Bad, Ry'jin, has the face of a mundane old man. This allows him to infiltrate Draslin's resistance group as a seemingly harmless scholar.
  • Escape Until Friday has a normal looking man as your kidnapper.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses,
    • Near the end of the Azure Moon route, a child NPC at the monastery comments on various actions Edelgard has taken and that she must look really scary. While this trope is somewhat downplayed because cruel human experimentation performed on Edelgard as a child left her with a very unusual hair color, she otherwise looks a normal petite young woman who's rather attractive, if in a severe and aloof way. You can say this to the kid, but it's clear that they don't really get the idea that someone can do such bad things without looking evil. Ironically enough, this is the only route where Edelgard can assume a One-Winged Angel form that more than lives up to the kid's assumptions about her looking scary.
    • Subverted with Monica and Tomas in Part 1. While they look like ordinary people, these are just disguises via Kill and Replace, and their true forms are much creepier.
    • Played straight with the Arc Villain of the Cindered Shadows DLC, Aelfric, who's possibly the most mundane-looking villain in the Fire Emblem series, although they do get a One-Winged Angel form at the very end.
  • In Time Crisis 5: True Mastermind Edition, the Big Bad turns out to be Robert Baxter, your commander who's turned against the VSSE. Unlike past villains, who tend to wear cool outfits like Badass Longcoats, Arm Cannons, and ocular implants, this particular villain is just wearing a grey polo shirt, slacks, and sunglasses.
  • Yakuza 2: Kei Ibuchi, with his well-groomed hair, glasses, and proper suit that includes a tie, would fit right into a normal corporate setting none the wiser, unlike the majority of characters who are obviously rough and tumble soldiers of the mob.
  • Zoochosis is a Workplace Horror game where a night-shift zookeeper must track down animals infected by strange parasites. The infected look like perfectly normal animals at first glance... until they realize they've been spotted and mutate into freakish, aggressive Animalistic Abominations.

    Visual Novels 
  • Part of the fun of Danganronpa is that you never know who's going to snap and commit murder or turn out to have been a crazy killer the whole time. Sure, sometimes the Obviously Evil guy really is the Blackened, but just as often it's some random student who you've been interacting with normally up until this point, and who the protagonist might even consider a friend- and who might actually be nice and ordinary, until Monokuma found just the right button to press.
    • The very first case is a good example. The Blackened is Leon Kuwata and the Asshole Victim is Sayaka Maizono, both of whom come off as the most normal students (aside from Makoto) in a class of nutcases, and one has significant (and by all evidence, genuinely friendly) previous interaction with Makoto. Then Monokuma provoked Sayaka to attempt murder by playing on her abandonment complex, and he decided to kill her to escape by Monokuma's rules.
    • The Mole is not any of the anti-social students who pick fights, it's not one of the dumbasses hiding evil smarts (the idiots in the class really are what they seem), and it's not a Detective Mole. It's Sakura Oogami, who is generally trusted but plays little role in investigations, as they admit up front that they're not good at mysteries. Of course, Sakura is ultimately on the students' side, but was blackmailed by Monokuma.
    • The Ultimate Despair is mostly composed of people who are, visually speaking, ordinary high school students. Mukuro Ikusaba has very plain looks when she's not toting her guns, her sister Junko Enoshima, the mastermind, is a fashion model in her daily life and the big reveal of Goodbye Despair is that literally every new character, with the sole exception of Chiaki Nanami, was part of Ultimate Despair. Yes, even absolute sweethearts like Sonia and Ibuki, tiny Hiyoko and Teruteru, and Hajime. In fact, he's the amnesiac mastermind of the killing game, Izuru Kamukura. The story of how they got that way... isn't pretty.
    • The mastermind of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony isn't the Self-Proclaimed Liar Kokichi, creepy Korekiyo, or the menacing Maki. It's Tsumugi Shirogane, Ultimate Cosplayer and self-proclaimed ordinary person. Ironically, some fans called the twist because of this trope; she fades into the background so much (she never does anything during investigations or trials, and never has a subplot to herself; the closest she gets is filling out Angie's Student Council, and even then, the focus is on Himiko and Tenko) that it became clear that she was being set up for a big endgame reveal.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice has Pu'ray Zeh'lot, who looks like a perfectly normal Khura'inese citizen despite being a vigilante serial killer working for the Secret Police to kill rebels, who had no qualms about attempting to kill a pregnant woman. In a twist, he's the case's Asshole Victim rather than murder, killed in self-defence by one of his targets but their face portrait looks so generic the player isn't likely to suspect much of them. They even lived as a surrogate child to High Priest Inmee and his wife for years, with them being none the wiser until the incident happened.
  • From Last Window, we have the incredibly ordinary-looking Dylan Fitchar, who we discover is a mole for Nile, the crime syndicate that is behind every terrible thing that happens to people in both this game and Hotel Dusk: Room 215.

    Web Animation 
  • Several videos in Story Booth have people learn the hard way that even seemingly average people can actually be cruel Jerkasses at best or depraved monsters at worst.


    Western Animation 
  • This was used to great effect with Fire Lord Ozai in Avatar: The Last Airbender. For two entire seasons his face was always obscured or only partially visible, or only a silhouette of him could be seen against a wall of flames. All the while the audience learns more and more about the horrific deeds of his forces as they set about conquering the world and Ozai's cruelly abusive treatment of his family, especially his son Zuko. This is likely to cause viewers to imagine a hideous or fearsome mental image of him, and when his face is finally revealed at the start of the third season he looks like a completely normal and even quite handsome man in his late 30s.
  • In Batman: The Animated Series, the Clock King is the only self-created supervillain in the series to avoid the tropes in the Evil Makeover index. Aside from his gadgets, he's just a guy in a nice suit.
    • The Ventriloquist is just an unassuming man in an old suit. If not for that dummy Scarface, he would seem perfectly normal.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Amon, whose creepy mask, unexplained Anti-Magic powers and mysterious backstory made for a truly terrifying villain. Under the mask and scar makeup, he looks like a completely normal Water Tribe man in his thirties.
    • P'Li and Ming-Hua, the female members of the Red Lotus both have obvious Red Right Hands (eye tattoo in the middle of the forehead and missing arms), but Ghazan and Zaheer just look like two guys with no real distinctive features besides being slightly taller or shorter than average respectively.
  • In the French cartoon Clémentine most of the minions from the Big Bad Malmoth look just like ordinary people when they are turned into humans.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, most of the villains that received major story arcs were usually beings on par with Physical Gods and other supernatural entities with sinister and terrifying appearances that were all bent on taking over Equestria. Later seasons, however, began to throw some of these into the mix.
  • Emperor Belos from The Owl House is seen without his mask for the first time in "Eclipse Lake", and his face, aside from the streak of rot going down one side, is perfectly ordinary. He looks more like someone's grandfather or uncle than any sort of tyrant or evil mastermind.
    • The Golden Guard, the second-in-command of Emperor Belos. Luz even expresses surprise when she sees him without his mask, noting that he looks like he could be one of her classmates at Hexside. This works against him when he tries ordering around some Coven scouts after being attacked by Kikimora.... just to have them laugh him off because without his mask or staff, he just looks like a regular teenager.
  • Samurai Jack has the Dominator, a man in Powered Armor who slaughtered an alien village, brainwashed their children to become feral, and subjected Ashi to electric torture. After Ashi knocks his helmet off, he's revealed to have an unremarkable face and moustache.
  • In South Park, a race of sentient advertisements have achieved human form, making them indistinguishable from actual human beings as they force them out of their towns while they take over. The most prominent example of such is Leslie Meyers, who looks just like a normal 4th grade girl attending South Park Elementary School.
  • Static Shock: In the Grand Finale, when the government begins spraying a Power Nullifer gas over the city to De-power all the metahumans in Dakota, we get to see what Ebon looked like prior to his transformation into a shadowy Humanoid Abomination and the most powerful supervillain in the city… and, perhaps unsurprisingly but anticlimactically, he's just a normal dude. As Teresa subsequently observes, he was a random nobody before the Big Bang gave him the power necessary to be somebody.

    Real Life 
  • Joseph McCarthy, one of America's most infamous politicians, exploited this trope via McCarthyism. Starting in 1950, he began a series of persecutions and trials that attacked anyone believed to be a Communist or Communist sympathizer. He used fears of Communists sneaking into America and destroying from the inside out to get people on his side, convincing people that anyone who did anything that deviated from "the American way" was not to be trusted. Many of the "Communists" he attacked were innocent people, and their lives were ruined as a result of his witch hunt.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): They Look Like Everyone Else, They Look Just Like Everybody Else


The Legion

Everyone in the Legion can easily pass for a Survivor, being some of the most human-looking Killers in the game. This is shown in their launch trailer, when Frank manages to fool David into thinking he's a Survivor, before donning his mask and stabbing him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheyLookJustLikeEveryoneElse

Media sources: