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Villainous Cheekbones

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"Hey it's that one Peter jerk again. And this time, he's accompanied by another Peter, Pete Postlethwaite and his killer cheekbones."

Look around the room you're in. Notice anyone with particularly prominent, exaggerated, or high cheekbones? Yes? Chances are they're the one out to get you.

Villains seem to have a tendency toward quite noticeable cheekbones. It's far more common in animated works, as facial features are often exaggerated. This trope is quite often seen on The Baroness or the Dragon Lady. It's perhaps because sharper cheekbones lend a face a sharper, more angular look, which can convey intense emotion more easily sometimes, or (as with Lean and Mean) because of the unsettlingly skeletal, deathly appearance it can give you. It's also the opposite of the kind of smoother, softer face known as "baby-faced"—and since a baby-faced person looks like an innocent child, it follows that the prominent bone structure will look like the opposite of this.


Compare Lean and Mean and Evil Is Sexy, if you so desire. Sister Trope to Sinister Schnoz and Thin Chin of Sin. Contrast with the Lantern Jaw of Justice for the good guys.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kycilia Zabi and M'quve in Mobile Suit Gundam. Kycilia's especially since her cheekbones are so sharp and more pronounced.
  • Sebastian Michealis in Black Butler.
  • Prandine/Fallow in Deltora Quest.
  • All of The Big Five in the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime save Otaki\Crump, who is more chubby-cheeked. Extra points go to Daimon\Leichter, whose cheekbones could probably score sheet metal.
  • Yoshikage Kira from Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure Diamond Is Unbreakable sports a prominent set and is an unrepentant serial killer with a bizarre hand fetish. He also has them after switching faces with Kosaku Kawajiri, probably due to sheer coincidence. As fans have noticed, he also has a resemblance to the late David Bowie with his swept-back blonde hair, strong jaw, prominent cheekbones.
  • Dr. Gero of the Android Saga has just huge cheekbones that not even his big bushy mustache can cover.
    • Recoome and Dabura have a set but is overshadowed by their lantern jaws.
    • Mr. Satan is an inversion as while he's a greedy coward and an arrogant showboat he's still the strongest non-ki-using-human who genuinely cares about helping people and can see the best even in the worst of people (such as Majin Buu).
  • Myotismon has some sinister cheekbones when looking up close, Although his Digimon World counterpart subverts this.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Discworld:
    • All illustrations of Lord Vetinari, the not quite benevolent ruler of Ankh-Morpork, portray him with very sharp features, including these.
    • Some of the elves from Lords and Ladies made themselves appear to have high cheekbones.
  • Crowley from Good Omens. But he's only technically evil, and given his position in the universe's moral spectrum, lacking a certain villainous appearance would be unbecoming. Not that it's stopped him being considered Mr. Fanservice by many fans.
  • Averted by Duck the Great Western Engine. He has high cheekbones, but he's in no way shape or form evil.
  • Averted in Galaxy of Fear. Hoole has a gaunt face, and while he acts highly suspect in the first few books he's really The Atoner. The Big Bad, who is of the same species as Hoole, has a noticeably rounder, softer face.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • Kate O'Mara as the Rani in old-school Who.
    • The Weeping Angels, from the new series, have faces that look like traditional angel statues when they're relaxed, but their features become sharper and more savage when they attack.
    • Missy, aka the Mistress from the 2014 series, as played by Michelle Gomez.
  • Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (although he makes a Heel–Face Turn). Most of the characters that James Marsters plays are villainous and his cheekbones are very, very sharp.
  • Thomas from Downton Abbey.
  • NBC's Hannibal:
    • The title character is a cannibalistic Serial Killer played by Mads Mikkelsen.
    • Freddie Lounds, an amoral tabloid blogger, has some pretty severe cheekbones of her own.
  • Any villainous character played by Noel Fielding on The Mighty Boosh, such as the Hitcher, Old Gregg and the Spirit of Jazz.
  • Theon Greyjoy from Game of Thrones, though he's not so much a villain than an insecure boy trying to please his father and eventually redeems himself.
  • Master blackmailer and all-around Jerk with a Heart of Jerk Charles Augustus Magnussen in Sherlock has a face you could cut yourself slapping. He's played by Lars Mikkelsen, so it's not surprising as Villainous Cheekbones seem to run in the family.
  • While not a straightforward villain, Death in Supernatural is played by Julian Richings, whose cheekbones really help sell the idea that this is THE Grim Reaper.

  • David Bowie put his high cheekbones, which were further accentuated by his bony frame at the time (due to all the cocaine), to good use for the sinister stage persona of the Thin White Duke in The '70s.
  • Likewise, Eminem lost a lot of weight to portray his Slasher Movie-inspired version of Slim Shady for his Relapse album, also exaggerating his naturally high cheekbones and serving to break him from the Cute and Psycho Psychopathic Manchild of the original version of the character. In kayfabe, mentioned in some of the songs on Relapse, Slim's extreme thinness was due to him taking drugs instead of eating.


    Role-Playing Games 

  • Cirque du Soleil examples, often accomplished with the help of makeup or masks, include Fleur and some of the Nostalgic Old Birds in Alegría and the Counselor and his equally wicked son in . However, in Cirque prominent cheekbones are not exclusively for the evil, but sometimes used for Tricksters (KOOZA) or similarly mysterious-but-good characters (the Great Chamberlain in Nouvelle Experience).
  • Voldemort in A Very Potter Musical, via lots of makeup.
  • Lady Macbeth (played by Kate Fleetwood) in the 2010 television version of Macbeth.


    Video Games 
  • Klogg from The Neverhood, the Big Bad who imprisoned the god-like ruler and creator of the game world.
  • Diablo, full stop
  • BioShock 2: Sofia Lamb. Not cartoonishly exaggerated, but hers are by far the most prominent of the entire cast. All of Rapture hangs off those cheekbones.
  • The G-Man from the Half-Life series. He is an enigmatic man in a black suit who follows you around and watches you from obscure vantage points, making finding him a kind of dark Easter Egg hunt. From what the player can puzzle out from his sparse interactions with him, and from what other characters say, it is likely that he is neither human nor benevolent.
  • Count Veger from Jak 3 is very thin in general, so naturally he has very gaunt features.
  • Cyrus, the Big Bad of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, has prominent cheekbones. They're one of his most noticeable features and emphasize his gaunt appearance.
  • When the evil sorceress Mizrabel from Castle of Illusion gets her beauty back, she has cheekbones like knife blades.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic has this as a facial option for most species, and gets a lot of mileage out of it in terms of Imperial soldiers and politicians; this is, of course, a direct reference to Tarkin, above.
  • Humanoid vampires in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion default to having high cheekbones when they're starving and their monstrous nature is especially clear since it uses a pre-set face for them. This is especially clear with the Dark Brotherhood's Vicente Valtieri, who always looks that way.
  • In Overwatch, Moira and (to a lesser extent) Reaper both have prominent cheekbones, and are both Obviously Evil terrorists.
  • Though he is the protagonist of the series, Hitman's Agent 47 has very noticeable cheekbones, befitting his ominous appearance and status as a ruthless killer-for-hire.
  • In Chapter 2 of Deltarune, Spamton's design includes exaggeratedly high and prominent cheekbones that fit his nature as an unhinged manipulator. This is especially visible during his attacks in his fight and on his shop sprite, both of which exaggerate the cheekbones even more and make them visibly pointy. Strangely, they become more subtle when he transforms into the even more overtly malicious Spamton NEO.


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    Western Animation