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Much like audiences get squicked out by horrible things happening to our body or our eyes, so too do they get absolutely sickened by the thought of something horrible (and permanent!) happening to our faces. It's the #1 part of the body we use for socializing, so in essence, destroying a person's face is the equivalent to destroying his or her life. It can often lead to a Nightmare Face, but if the victim is lucky, he can maybe at least achieve the level of the Woobie or even Ugly Cute. This trope can include those who die from the disfigurement, but it's more effective (and more horrifying) to have the victim live with it.

Compare and contrast to Nightmare Face. The main difference between these two tropes is that Facial Horror deals specifically with severe mutilation of most or all of the face, whereas Nightmare Face covers exceptionally scary faces in general.

See also Glasgow Grin, Tear Off Your Face.

Examples of Facial Horror include:

Anime and Manga

  • Hellsing invokes this trope several times, most of them involving Alucard. The worst is probably Zorin Blitz, who basically gets her face cheese-grated down a hallway by a supremely pissed-off and newly-awakened Seras, leaving only ragged strips of skin. Towards the end Heinkel Wolfe ends up suffering this trope when the Captain (nonlethally) shoots her through the mouth, giving her a Glasgow Grin and forcing her to wear bandages over it for the rest of her life.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Tim Marcoh had his face damaged by Scar so people wouldn't recognize him during his travels.
    • Scar himself may count as a minor example, but his face isn't really disfigured like most of the examples here.
    • When Roy Mustang burns them to death, Lust and Envy both have their faces destroyed before they die.
    • The 2003 anime has Frank Archer, who lost half his face and half of the rest of his body while fighting in Lior. The half of his body that was destroyed was eventually replaced by automail.


Film - Animated

Film - Live-Action

  • How Harvey Dent becomes Two-Face in The Dark Knight
  • Similarly, how Liam Neeson's character becomes the title character in Darkman
  • An infamous scene where a man caves in another man's face with a fire extinguisher in Irreversible.
  • A similar scene in Pan's Labyrinth, except with the bottom of a bottle of wine.
  • Lon Chaney as The Phantom of the Opera, though the extent of his facial scarring has noticeably decreased with each adaptation.
  • Gary Oldman's character in Hannibal.
  • The Pride victim in Se7en.
  • Christiane in Eyes Without a Face.
  • The Terminator, in all of the movies, takes plenty of face damage, to show off the cybernetics underneath.
  • Freddy Krueger, the iconic dream demon from A Nightmare on Elm Street, is a serious burn victim.
  • Similiarly, over time the mute colossus Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13 th has taken some serious face damage. Notably, he took a boat motor to the face in part six.
  • The So Bad It's Good b-movie Truth or Dare: A Critical Madness has Mike Strauber, a man who, among other things, cuts a chunk of his own face off when dared to do so.
  • Seth Brundle's face falls off in a slimy mess near the end of The Fly.
    • And in the sequel, a security guard gets a face full of acid vomit from Brundle's son. The worst part is, he's still breathing afterwards.
  • Leslie Nielsen's character in Surf Ninjas has half of his face squished by an elephant, forcing him to wear a half-mask ala Phantom of the Opera.
  • The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. In the Backstory the Grand Vizier of Maravia had his whole head badly scarred by a fireball (think melted wax). He wears a helmet all through the movie, until near the end when he takes it off to frighten some natives with his hideous face.
  • Mel Gibson in The Man Without A Face.
  • In Fight Club The Narrator punches Angel Face's... um, face so hard it's barely recognizably human, and most of his teeth are gone.
  • At the end of Saw VI, Hoffman is placed in a Reverse Bear Trap 2.0 and isn't able to get it off in time, so he places the arms of the device between bars on the window of the door out of the room, which causes it to only open partially. He is able to get it off before it opens completely and rips his jaw apart, but it does rip the right side of his face open.
  • Darth Vader. Yeah, you probably don't want to see what's behind that mask...
  • Shallow Grave, the scene where the titular grave is about to be filled. But the dental records need to be removed. Up comes the hammer, then down again, off-screen. Crunch.
  • The climax of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen has two examples in quick succession: First off, Optimus Prime breaks Megatron's arm and forces him to shoot half his own face off. He then proceeds to go after the Fallen, delivers his famous one-liner, and doesn't wait for the Fallen to give it to him. (Note that, contrary to popular belief, Fallen is actually killed by being punched through the chest and getting his spark ripped out.)
    • Earlier in the film, Optimus is in a three-on-one fight between Megatron, Starscream, and Grindor, and kills the latter by stabbing a pair of hooks into his face and tearing his head apart.
  • The premise of Face Off, which involves removing two people's faces. One of them wakes up before his face is replaced, peels off the bandages in front of a mirror, and was very unhappy with what he saw.
  • At the end of Halloween: Resurrection, Michael Myers is set on fire and presumed dead. Cue the horrific morgue scene that reveals his mask had melted into his face...and he was still alive. Shudder.
  • The fake social worker from The Orphanage gets hit by a buss, and you can see her lower jaw completely unhinged, hanging off from her face. Even worse, before the face is fully shown the main character's husband tries giving her CPR.
  • In the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Leatherface has a disease that makes the skin on his face decay. it's only seen briefly in profile, but it isn't pretty.
  • The cloaked and horribly disfigured killer in the 1953 film House of Wax. He is actually Henry Jarrod , the wax sculptor who was presumed dead when his business partner set his museum on fire. He made a perfect wax mask of his former face when he returned to open his new museum.


  • Mason Verger in Hannibal.
  • The Phantom of the Opera
  • What the Big Bad of the first Rivers of London book does to his victims, magically cracking their bones, shredding their muscles, and stretching their skin, until they become perfect imitations of MisterPunch; when he finishes with them, their face falls apart and they die. If they are lucky. A survivor's face is described in book two in excruciating detail, for a start her nose and lower jawbone is mostly missing having been shattered into too many pieces to rebuild. Talking is only possible with one of those Stephen Hawking speech programs.
  • Brightheart of Warrior Cats was savaged by a pack of dogs, who mangled her face to the point that she lost an eye and parts of her skull were showing even after she recovered. She was even called "Lostface" for a while, but fortunately Firestar renamed her.
  • In the novel version of Fight Club, by the end the narrator has had both cheeks ruined--one split open after a tooth punched a hole in it, and further fights exacerbated the injury to the point that it became half a Glasgow Grin, and the other opened by a gunshot. These injuries are omitted from the film.
  • Redwall has Slagar the Cruel, who wears a mask to hide his deformities caused by Asmodeus' venom. There's also Riggu Felis, whose face was mostly torn off by a hawk. The lower half of his face is described as "red, glistening flesh and bone... the whole muzzle, nose and upper lip had been torn off. Half of the warlord's face was a spitting, bubbling skeleton."
  • The owl Metal Beak/ Kludd from Guardians of Ga'Hoole. He had his beak, among other parts of his face, ripped off in a fight and replaced it with a metal one.
  • Vlad Menshikov from The Kane Chronicles had part of his face, along with his lungs and eyes, burned when he tried and failed to awaken Ra.
  • Joelle Van Dyne in Infinite Jest following an incident with some acid,(maybe) causing her to wear a veil and join the Union of the Hideously and Improbably Deformed.
  • Elli Quinn of the Vorkosigan Saga has her face burned off by plasma-arc fire - "she looked like an onion". Fortunately, she lives in a universe of advanced biotech where the commander of her mercenary company buys her reconstructive surgery which leaves her looking better than she had before, but plasma fire is one of the few things that can truly terrify her.
  • Towards the end of The Shining, Danny tries to break his father from the hotel's influence (and temporarily succeeds), only to have Jack become completely possessed and forced to smash the roque mallet into his own face, repeatedly, until it is a barely-recognisable mess. This fully kills Jack and allows the ghosts to take full control of his body.
  • In Ever Quest, the characters encounter Hel, the keeper of the Norse underworld, who is half-beautiful and half-rotting corpse. (Literally... one side is hot and the other side is not.)

Live Action TV

  • Richard Harrow in Boardwalk Empire lost his left eye and the left side of his face in World War I, forcing him to use a mask with face-like features.
  • The Helvetica scenario.
  • Roan's face in Nikita, was partially permanently disfigured when Nikita splashed Hydrochloric Acid on him, in an effort to escape.
  • Jasmine from Angel; once someone is freed from her love spell, she has a mangled, maggot-infested face. Once the spell is broken for the whole world, her face breaks out in boils and lesions.


Video Games

  • Tatsuya Sudou in both parts of Persona 2 gets half of his face burned off (and loses his eye in the process, both times).
  • Nemesis from Resident Evil 3 Nemesis has brown, rotting skin, his lips have been pared back so there's a permanent grimace on his face, his nose is missing, and one of his eyes is gone, with a row of staples running down from the top of his head across the empty socket.
  • Near the start of Dead Space 2, a man is transformed into a necromorph right in front of you. It's not pretty.

Visual Novels

  • Katawa Shoujo: The right side of Hanako's face is severely scarred from when she was caught in a house fire several years before the story takes place.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • Survival of the Fittest character Blood Boy had his face heavily mutilated as a child by having a marble stuck in his throat, and clawing at it to get it out. He wears a mask over it to hide it. Later he slices off what's left for a trap. Other examples have occurred throughout the versions, such as Melina Frost getting a Molotov cocktail to the face.
  • Spoony discussed an instance for Counter Monkey, recounting his Thieves' World Tabletop RPG. Because of an impulsive, critically-hitting interrupt, Tempus Thales takes a flask of acid to the face! Because of this utter humiliation, his goddess revokes his regenerative abilities until he took bloody retribution. The players continually outwit him, so the goddess makes his condition worse! Tempus doesn't react well...

Western Animation

  • Happens to the Spiteful Brakevan (a bullying caboose) at the end of the Thomas the Tank Engine episode "Brake Van" (The Scottish Twins' debut episode). He is literally smashed into pieces after being hit by one of the aforementioned Scottish Twins head-on, and in the process, his face is literally torn off his body.
    • Just right before this scene happens, for some reason, if you look very closely, you can easily tell that this Scottish twin's face is literally falling off his body!
  • Zuko, of course. But he manages to work it well and still be Estrogen Brigade Bait.
  • In the American Dad episode "Flirting With Disaster", Francine gets hit in the face with acid. For the remainder of the episode, until the last few seconds, her face is conveniently obscured. For good reason.
  • On G.I. Joe: a real American hero the joes go up against an aging cosmetics queen named Madame Vail who created a machine that steals the face of one person and gives it to another. The villainess tries to use the device to steal the face Lowlights sister. Bt before that could happen Lowlight pulls his sister from the machine, with disastrous results for Vail.
    • Madame Vail: Let me see my face!
    • Lowlight: There's nothing to look at. Nothing at all.

Real Life


  • Jacqueline Saburido
  • Pakistani acid attack victim Fakhra Younus.
  • Charla Nash, before receiving a facial transplant.
  • Connie Culp, before becoming the first person in the U.S. to get a facial transplant.
  • Isabelle Dinoire was the first person to receive a partial face transplant after her own Lab mauled her. Looking up pre-operative images is rather horrific. Another warning, the very final paragraph of the whole incident also shouldn't be read by the squeamish. It describes what could happen if she stops taking her medicine. Her newly transplanted face will "slough off."
  • Raymond Robinson, aka "The Green Man"
  • Emmett Till
  • James Vance, the real-life inspiration for the character Arseface of the comic series Preacher (Comic Book).
  • Michael Jackson: even die hard fans should admit that his never ending face lifts were absolutely horrible by the end.
  • Michael Jackson has nothing on Pete Burns.
  • Lai Thi Do, a 15 year-old Vietnamese girl, before she had a 12-pound facial tumor removed in 2008. There is a before picture in this news article. Click on it yourself, because linking it directly would force me to look at it again.
  • Ronald Poppo
  • Non-human example: Chase the cat, also known as Chase No Face, who was seriously disfigured in an accident at four weeks old. She has no eyelids, nose or upper lip as a result and requires medication every day to keep her eyes moist. In spite of this, she lives a happy life and is in no pain. In addition, she acts as a therapy cat for disfigured humans. Her (very heartwarming) blog can be found here.
  • Novemthree Siahaan, an Indonesian boy who had a rare condition that caused tumors to take over most of his face. The tumors were removed, but regrew and he sadly eventually died.
  • This poor, poor, poor, poor still living cat.
  • It's surprising that the team kept documenting this poor dying hyena (whose encounter with lions left its head looking like it has just been through a wood chipper), without putting it out of its misery.
  • The recently infamous case of a horrific bloody assault in Miami where a naked man named Rudy Eugene attempted to gnaw off the face (not bite, but GNAW) of a homeless victim named Ronald Poppo on a sunlit pedestrian ramp near a freeway. Even after the first shot , the drug-addled cannibal still continued to bite until he was finally killed by several more shots of gunfire, but not before leaving Poppo with his face ripped off, his eyes gouged, and his nose mauled, leaving only his goatee. You may kindly throw up now.
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