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Villainous Face Hold

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Why Peter Pan, how unexpected of you to show up. And by unexpected, I mean totally expected.

A villain has the Damsel in Distress or Distressed Dude at his mercy and wants to intimidate, humiliate, or otherwise subjugate his prisoner. One way to do this is to grab the chin or jaw of a captive and force them to look the villain in the eye whilst he gloats or threatens them. This could happen with a demoralised captive who is looking at the ground, a captive who is distracted by something and the villain wants to be the object of attention, or a captive actively avoiding looking the villain in the eye due to the villain's powers. Less commonly happens with a Defiant Captive, who is probably already making eye-contact with the villain.

In most cultures, the face is considered one of the more intimate parts of the body, and face touching is usually reserved for friends and family. A villain touching someone's face would therefore be considered a violation of personal space, and an easy way of showing they have a high degree of control over their captives.

Can be paired with I Have You Now, My Pretty, and related tropes, though this trope does not have to be sexual in nature, and can be employed by a villain simply to mock/intimidate the hero.

Compare Neck Lift, Angry Collar Grab, and Facepalm of Doom (where the face grab is intended to be painful). Also compare Enemy Eats Your Lunch and Terms of Endangerment, other ways of asserting dominance through social boundary-crossing.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Mei's omokage affectionately puts each hand on Matsuri's cheek while complimenting him for deducing her true nature. This wasn't showing off that Matsuri was helpless, it was a surprising way to show off her ability to Flash Step or teleport before kneeing him in the gut.
  • Black Butler: In a filler episode, Angela has Sebastian chained to a wall, and she uses the handle of her whip to lift Sebastian's chin up so that she can see his face while she mocks him.
  • Naruto: After immobilizing Naruto by using a jutsu to turn his legs to stone, Fūka mockingly flirts with him for a moment and cuddles with him while he can't resist her, cupping him by the face and chin to force him to look her in the eyes while she smirks smugly at him and giggles to herself. She keeps holding him like this even as she forces a deep kiss on him and begins sucking out his chakra from it.
  • Saiyuki: In an early chapter, a leery guy holds Sanzo's face still whilst complimenting him on his feminine beauty.
  • Tokyo Mew Mew: Ichigo gets this constantly from Kisshu which sometimes leads to an attempted forceful kiss.

    Comic Books 
  • Firefly: The Sting: When Kaylee questions why Saffron does not just do the heist herself, Saffron lightly touches the side of Kaylee's face while giving a condescending reply.
  • Superman:
    • During the "Hyper-tension!" arc of Superboy (1994), Black Zero uses his telekinesis to hold Kon-El still and force him to look at him while he monologues at his captive audience.
    • Way of the World: After putting a Kryptonite collar on Supergirl, alien overlord Dolok grabs her chin as she is on her knees and forces her to look straight at him while he gloats.
    • Death & the Family: After encasing Supergirl in a cocoon of amber-like material, Insect Queen strokes her chin, stating she missed the young Kryptonian. In reply, Supergirl tells Insect Queen she will let her host Lana Lang go or suffer the consequences.
    • Day of the Dollmaker: The titular villain puts his forefinger on Catherine Grant's chin and pushes slightly so his captive looks straight into his eyes as he is talking.

    Fan Works 
  • In Weight of the World, Polendina grabs a bound and gagged America's chin and forces him to look him in the eyes as he demands to know whether America can activate his Semblance verbally.
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: The Wolf does this to Cersei when she's struggling to escape, threatening to have her raped by his crew and their horses if she doesn't shut up. She complies, and he pats her on the cheek and condescendingly praises her intelligence (although he later is heard to say he's forbidden his men from raping her).
  • In the Turning Red fanfic The Great Red Panda Rescue, Mei is kidnapped and one of the kidnappers grabs her chin and forces her to make eye contact with him.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Aladdin, Jafar does this to both Jasmine and Aladdin. When mocking Jasmine over Aladdin's status as a peasant, he uses his staff to lift her face up so he can see her expression. He mocks Aladdin further by grabbing his face and then playfully slaps him.
  • In Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, Jafar does this with Jasmine as she's chained to a wall, but she bites his hand.
  • Roodaka does it three times in a row to Vakama in BIONICLE 3: Web of Shadows as she has him tied up and tries to sweet-talk him into joining her. Vakama yanks his head aside at first when Roodaka holds her claw to his chin. After some talk, Roodaka does a deceptively gentle variant of the move with the outer edge of her finger as if trying to caress him, then threateningly runs down her claw on his chest and cuts his bonds with only one finger to show she can be both kind and forceful. Having convinced Vakama to listen, she lifts up his head again with the sharp tip of her claw and this time she pulls her claw away while Vakama remains fixated on her, as a subtle visual allusion to her gaining control over the fallen hero.
  • The Castle of Cagliostro: The Count grabs Clarisse's face while taunting her after he believes he's killed Lupin.
  • In Frozen (2013), Prince Hans holds a weakened Anna's chin up so she's looking him in the eye whilst he tells her of his plan to kill Elsa and usurp the throne.
  • Having lured The Great Mouse Detective to his lair, Ratigan ambushes the hero Basil with a faux surprise party. After tearing away Basil's fake mustache, Ratigan toys with Basil, holding Basil's chin while sarcastically complimenting him on his seafarer disguise, while he is stuck in his quiet seething rage and doesn't react.
  • In Hercules, Hades does this to Meg several times, specifically when she's taken hostage. He grabs her face and makes her look at him (Hades) and then at Hercules in order to mock Hercules.
  • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney), Frollo does this multiple times to Quasimodo. Unlike most similar gestures it is done in an insincerely affectionate way intended to manipulate the feelings of the receiver. He grabs the face of an upset Quasimodo and forces him to look up at him whilst mocking him over his only friends being the stone gargoyles. He grabs Quasimodo's face again during his Villain Song, where, in an attempt to control Quasimodo, Frollo tells Quasimodo he'll be killed if he ever leaves the bell tower.
  • In Ice Age: Continental Drift, Captain Gutt lifts Shira's face up using one of his claws while he threatens her for failing to kill Manny, Sid, and Diego.
  • In The Incredibles, Bob is being lectured by his supervisor, Gilbert Hugh, for helping customers with insurance claims. When Bob notices someone being mugged outside, Gilbert grabs Bob's jaw and screams "Look at me when I'm talking to you, Parr". He then proceeds to mock Bob over being unable to help him.
  • In Incredibles 2, When Evelyn monologue she holds the incapacitated Elastigirl's chin up as she's suffocating near to death.
  • In The Jungle Book (1967) Mowgli runs into Kaa a second time, and Kaa repeatedly uses his tail to try to force Mowgli to look him in the eyes so he can hypnotise him. Shere Khan later does this to Kaa himself, lifting the snake's face up with one of his claws whilst threateningly recommending he inform Khan if he spots Mowgli again, establishing the power that he has over him.
  • The Little Mermaid:
    • In the first film, The Little Mermaid (1989), Ursula holds Ariel's jaw with one of her tentacles and forces Ariel to look at her, whilst feigning concern for her fractured relationship with her father and her inability to be on land. She does this to better pressure Ariel to bargain with her.
    • In the sequel The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Morgana has Ariel caught in one of her tentacles and grabs her jaw to make her look at her, in order to mock Melody.
  • In The Prince of Egypt, when Tzipporah is brought to Moses and Rameses as a gift, Rameses wants to "inspect this desert flower" as he grabs her face — and she nearly bites him. He insults her for her lack of submission instead.
    Rameses: More like a desert cobra.
  • In Return To Never Land, as shown in the page image, Captain Hook lifts a captured Peter's chin up using his hook so that he can see his face whilst he gloats.
  • In Scooby-Doo in Where’s My Mummy? The ghost of Cleopatra does this to the captured tomb robber Amelia Von Butch.
  • In Tangled, while Mother Gothel is singing "Mother Knows Best," she grabs and squishes Rapunzel's face while gazing "lovingly" into her eyes, immediately after a line that mocks Rapunzel's weight and intelligence. Gothel does this to patronise Rapunzel, as she wants her to think she (Rapunzel) won't survive if she leaves the tower.
  • In Tarzan, when Clayton has captured Tarzan on the ship, he uses the barrel of his gun to lift Tarzan's chin up so he's forced to look him in the eye when Clayton reveals his betrayal.
  • Trolls: Creek does this to Poppy after revealing his Face–Heel Turn, and promptly deprives her of her bell and bell-stick.
  • In Wreck-It Ralph, a Cy-bug corrupted Turbo/King Candy has captured Ralph and holds his head still so that he's Forced to Watch Sugar Rush be consumed by Cy-bugs. As he does this, he taunts Ralph about how Vanellope will be killed as she is unable to leave the game.
    King Candy/Turbo: Oh, look at that, it's your little friend! Let's watch her die together, shall we?

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Bird Box, witnessing the aliens causes a person to kill themselves. However, there are some people who are immune and are instead driven insane. When Gary, one such person, succumbs to psychosis he grabs Cheryl, forces her eyes open, and holds her face towards the uncovered window so she sees the creature and slits her own throat.
  • Birds of Prey (2020)
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
    • Inverted in Batman Begins, where Batman does this to terrorise Scarecrow. After forcing Scarecrow to inhale his own fear toxin, Batman grabs his jaw and back of the head and interrogates him on his employer. During this process, Scarecrow hallucinates that Batman is made of tar.
    • In The Dark Knight: The Joker does this twice.
      • The first time is to Gambol during the famous 'Why so serious?' scene. He holds Gambol's face still as he threatens him with a knife between his lips and tells the first story of his scars' origin.
      • The second is when Joker crashes Bruce Wayne's party for Harvey Dent and begins interrogating the guests on Harvey's whereabouts. First he grabs the jaw of a middle-aged man and jiggles his jowls, then he grabs another man by the jaw and threatens him with a knife. When he's prevented from going further by Rachel, he grabs her jaw and forces her to look at him whilst he tells her how he got his scars.
  • Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance:
    • Head monk Methodius has Johnny, Moreau, and Nadya captured so he can execute the latter's son. He holds Nadya's jaw whilst telling her there's nothing she can do to save her son before knocking her unconscious.
    • Blackout later returns the favour, holding Methodius's jaw so that he's forced to look him in the eye as he slowly kills him by rotting his flesh. He does this again to a powerless Johnny, whilst mocking him that Danny was now possessed and witnessing the execution. Fortunately, Danny gives him his Ghost Rider powers back before Blackout can kill him.
  • In It (2017), Pennywise prepares to eat Eddie, and holds his face still so Eddie can't look away whilst Pennywise imitates his crying. As a being that feeds off fear, it's clear Pennywise is doing this to scare him more.
  • In Johnny Mnemonic, Shinji, who has been sent to hunt down the titular hero, grabs the chin of Johnny's most recent client in order to intimidate him into revealing where Johnny is going.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • In Oz the Great and Powerful, Evanora forces a captured Glinda to look her in the eye when Glinda won't look at her; she grabs her jaw and says, "I'm going to wipe out your light until there's nothing left but my darkness."
  • In Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the Sheriff does this to one of the woodsmen's children when they're taken captive during the forest raid, catching her by the chin and remarking that she's a beautiful child. It's something of a subversion because he's not actually threatening the little girl directly; he's trying to rattle Lady Marian, to whom he then explains that he cannot allow the children to grow up as his enemies, but he will give her their lives as a wedding gift if she marries him.
  • In Snow White & the Huntsman, Ravenna holds the chin of a young captive so she can get a good look at his face. This is meant as a threat to the man's father.
  • A promotional photo for James Bond's The Spy Who Loved Me shows Bond in the clutches of new villain Jaws, who is holding Bond's jaw and head so that he's looking at the camera. During the movie it happens when Jaws is trying to kill Bond in the train compartment; on that occasion Bond's expression is more along the lines of "Oh, Crap!"
  • In the Star Wars franchise:
    • Grand Moff Tarkin from Star Wars: A New Hope grips captive Princess Leia's chin while mentioning that he's signed her death warrant. Leia is unbowed by this bullying.
      Tarkin: Charming to the last. You don't know how hard I found it, signing the order to terminate your life.
      Leia: I'm surprised you had the courage to take the responsibility yourself.
    • Supreme Leader Snoke from The Last Jedi uses the Force to drag a captive Rey towards him and hold her there so she's forced to look at him as Snoke mockingly reveals he was the one behind her connection to Kylo Ren. He does this again a few moments later, this time forcing her to look at Kylo Ren as Snoke orders him to execute her.
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: Though Wonka is not a villain, he is quite a sinister character. When Verruca mocks the concept of a 'snozzberry', Wonka grabs her jaw and turns her head to look at him whilst delivering the unsettling line "We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams." The line is especially unsettling as Verruca would end up being the next child to be 'disqualified'.

  • In Redwall, Emperor Ublaz does this to captives (and mooks), as he has a hypnotic gaze that works on birds and reptiles.
  • In Faith of the Fallen, when Richard realizes the new dark sorceress everyone fears is one of his former teachers, he tells the messenger, "Pray you never have to look into Nicci's eyes, Captain." We then cut to the next chapter, which starts with Nicci telling a child to look into her eyes while cupping her chin.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Alex Rider: Eva Stellenbosch indicates her displeasure by grabbing James by the face when he plays classical records at a building-shaking volume while pretending to conduct, all to create a diversion from Alex and Kyra sneaking around Dr Greif's office.
  • A hero version occurs in Batwoman (2019) when Kate Kane encounters an alternate universe version of her sister Beth. As there's a villain going around with the ability to copy people's faces, Kate's initial reaction is to grab Alt-Beth's face and twist painfully on her skin while screaming "Who Are You?".
  • In Season 7 of Game of Thrones, Cersei kills Tyene Sand by giving her a poisoned kiss. To mock her mother, who is chained to the opposite wall, Cersei holds Tyene's jaw whilst commenting on her 'Dornish beauty'.
  • In the Italian series Gamorra the son of Don Pietro does this to a man in a nightclub after he's caught chatting up his girl. Unfortunately he turns out to be the son of another boss (and is in fact running that clan since his father has retired). Don Pietro offers money to settle the problem, but is told the insult to his face is another matter.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: In Season One's final, after showing an illusion of a possible future together, Sauron gently holds Galadriel's face and turn her head to him while telling her that he is the only one who sees her value. Unlike most examples, this one reeks of Foe Romance Subtext.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • In Season 1, Regina visits a crying Mary (who had been falsely imprisoned on a murder charge) in her cell. When Mary pleads innocence, Regina grabs Mary's jaw, holds her face still, and brags that she knows Mary is innocent but will fight to have her convicted anyway.
    • In Season 4 the roles of the characters become swapped, resulting in Snow White being evil and the 'Evil Queen' Regina now being an outlaw. When Snow White has disarmed Regina, she holds her face with both hands and tells Regina her head would make a good trophy.
  • The Punisher (2017). A good-guy version happens in a flashback when Frank Castle gets angry with his son and grabs him by the face when he tells his sister that Frank is just fighting in the war to kill a bunch of Hajjis. Given that the flashbacks have only shown Frank being a good parent before, it's a sign that what he's done in Afghanistan is starting to affect his personality back home.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "True Q," Q performs this on Amanda Rogers while considering her potential as a Q.
  • In Twin Peaks, Mr. C grabs a car mechanic by the jaw to assert his power over him in his first episode.
  • In Rome, Julius Caesar does this in order to look at the face of the defeated and broken Vercingetorix in prison, before ordering him to be cleaned up in order to be displayed at Caesar's triumph and executed.
  • The Boys (2019). A member of The Mafiya does this to Kimiko. She responds by tearing his face off.

  • Taylor Swift's 1989: In the "Blank Space" music video, as Taylor's character takes a turn toward Ax-Crazy, she grabs her boyfriend by the face threateningly with both hands and gets in his face.

    Video Games 
  • Promotional images and the trailer for Season 2 of Batman: The Telltale Series feature the Joker using the barrel of his gun to lift up the chin of a restrained Batman whilst bragging about how he's won.
    Joker: Maybe that's why you're so mad, because I'm on top; because I have you completely in my power.
  • In the 9th Dynasty Warriors, Dong Bai uses two fingers to lift up the chin of a defeated Diaochan, while she (Dong Bai) thinks of ways to kill her.
  • In Furi, while The Stranger is still restrained inside his cell, The Chain lifts his chin up and punches him in the face. Subverted, in that while The Chain's a sadistic brute, he is not exactly a villain and he has some very solid reasons for keeping The Stranger locked up.

    Visual Novels 
  • Starship Promise:
    • Dr. Xendalia does this to the heroine in the first episode of Nova's third season, tilting up her chin with a finger to examine her. This starts jealous feelings in Nova which Xendalia goes on to stoke.
    • In Tyrian's first season, he needs to get the heroine past Mirra, who is suspicious of her reason for being there. She slips a knuckle under her chin to force her to meet her gaze, trying to suss her out.

    Web Animation 
  • The final episode of Volume 3 in RWBY shows Pyrrha Nikos defeated on the ground, and Cinder Fall grabbing her face and gloating, just before shooting Pyrrha with an arrow and incinerating her alive. Unfortunately for Cinder, the gloating gives Ruby enough time to catch up, witness Pyrrha's death, and unlock her Silver Eye powers to grievously wound Cinder, and allow Raven to (presumably) finish her off two volumes later.

  • Goblins: When Duv is about to send Fox and Dies into the Well of Darkness, Fox starts threatening her and has to be held back by guards. While she's restrained, Duv moves closer and cups her face, saying that as the chosen one, Fox should be willing to make any sacrifice she asks for.
  • In Weak Hero, Wolf's Berserk Button is people staring into his eyes for longer than three seconds. When Gray does so, and then later shows up to battle too dazed to look Wolf in the eye (due to the fight being on a rooftop, which Gray has traumatic memories associated with) Wolf grabs him by the chin and demands that he stare at Wolf like he did the first time.

    Western Animation 
  • In the finale of Season 2 of Beast Wars, Megatron grabs Blackarachnia by the chin, after she faces away from him, to confront her about stealing the Ark's access codes from his computer.
  • In Season 1 of The Legend of Korra, Amon grabs a captured Korra's jaw and forces her to look up at him when he threatens to take away her bending.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the first episode, Nightmare Moon crashes a party and uses her starry mane to hold Rarity's chin up and then hit her whilst mocking the ponies over failing to predict her return.
    • In Queen Chrysalis's debut episode, she holds the brainwashed Shining Armor's face and makes him look at her, whilst she boasts to his fiancée that he will soon be too weak to maintain the magic shield he has put around Canterlot, allowing her army to attack. She does this to Twilight in the same episode, holding her chin up whilst mocking the Mane Six's failure to stop her plan.
    • In the Power Ponies comic world, the Mane-iac laughs in Spike's face, who plays the role of the Kid Sidekick Humdrum, for thinking she would bother incapacitating him with the rest of the Power Ponies as he cowers in fear of her, and tickles him under the chin with her mane while saying that would be "pointless".
    • In My Little Pony: The Movie (2017), Tempest briefly holds Twilight's face during her Villain Song, just before her Troubled Backstory Flashback.
  • Samurai Jack:
  • Star Wars Rebels continues the tradition of Imperials who get uncomfortably handsy with the Grand Inquisitor, the Seventh Sister, and Governor Pryce, who all use this tactic to intimidate their victims.
  • In Season 2 of Teen Titans, Terra tries to quit working for Slade. Unfortunately, the armour suit she's wearing is integrated into her nervous system, and as she tries to leave, Slade uses the suit to drag her back to him and electrocute her. He grabs her jaw and holds her face still while he brags about how she can never leave him.
  • In Winx Club Season 1 Episode 18, Icy holds Bloom's face in her hand just before the Trix steal her Dragon Flame.


Villainous Face Hold

Thouzer holding Xsana's face

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