WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic

In various media, it seems that certain powerful villains have a rather inflated view of themselves. Sure, the heroes might have their leader's face as a symbol for their team, but the various Big Bads and dictators want to go a lot further than that, and will place their name absolutely everywhere. Their base may actually be shaped like them, the flags may have a stylised icon of the Big Bad in place of the Jolly Roger and heck, they might even have Mecha-Mooks and vehicles very much influenced by their appearance. This trope will also always be used if the whole "cult of personality" effect is wanted, such as in a Dystopia, as shown in works such as Nineteen Eighty-Four (along, of course, with the gigantic TV screens showing the Big Bad on the buildings and vehicles).

See also Conspiracy Placement, Shrine to Self, and Sigil Spam.

When combined with a Cool Vehicle, see Face Ship.

Examples of Malevolent Mugshot include:


  • One Piece: Various Pirate bosses model their Jolly Roger after their own appearance.
    • The main cast end up collectively known as the "Strawhat Pirates", simply because their leader wears one, and he had one drawn on their Jolly Roger.
    • The straw hat itself was originally known for being Red-Haired Shanks' symbol. It wasn't until Luffy and crew had made a name for themselves that it became associated with them.
    • And recently it's been revealed that the straw hat originally belonged to Gold Roger himself, who looked shockingly much like Luffy before he grew his mustache; it's safe to say that the straw hat has a rich history that's only recently being noticed by the world of One Piece.

Comic Book

  • DC Comics example: the planet Apokalips is simply covered with images and statues of Darkseid, usually paired with slogans such as "Die For Darkseid."


  • Dudley Do-Right: Snidely Whiplash puts his face on everything, including his flag. It's not the face of the actor Alfred Molina, but the cartoon Snidely's face.
  • The 1989 Batman movie had the Joker put his face on his vehicles. I think it was the comic book face, though, rather than a Nicholson Joker cartoon. Well Nicholson's face is pretty similar to the comic incarnation of the character's so maybe it was a Nicholson Joker cartoon.
  • In the movie Labyrinth, Jareth's face subtly appears throughout the landscape -- where certain rocks line up in a shot, or depicted in shadow. Perhaps a more minor version of this, as it's clearly for the audience's benefit -- to demonstrate how thoroughly entrenched he is with the fairy tale world Sarah placed him in. (Or David Bowie has a really big ego...) Or that he's scrying her in some way or another. Keeping track, so that we see him as he's watching her.
  • Tomorrow Never Dies: Elliot Carver has his face displayed on banners all over the place.
  • In the fifth Harry Potter film, the Ministry of Magic has a giant curtain with Cornelius Fudge on it. It gets destroyed in the climax.


Live Action TV

  • Doctor Who, Tomb of the Cybermen: The tomb complex where the Cybermen lie in suspended animation has big Cyberman-heads stenciled on the walls here and there.
  • As a Running Gag in Strangers with Candy, Principal Blackman's portrait appears all over Flatpoint High; it seems every classroom has one, like the flag in a real American school, and it's even on the back of the letterman jackets.
    • It reaches a peak during the two-parter where Jerry joins the cult, pushing into full "Glorious Leader" mode even as he and the other teachers and students bemoan the evils of that brainwashing cult that stole Jerry.
  • Dwight Schrute of The Office had one posted in the entrance to the Dunder Mifflin Scranton Branch office during his brief stint as Regional Manager.

Video Games

  • Bowser in the Super Mario Bros.. series has an icon of his face on various evil objects, machines and the Jolly Roger flag on the airships (and a portrait of his face on the front).
  • The Wario Land series' latest game has the Shake King's face both on the flag of his pirate ship and on the intruder alarm for each stage.
  • In the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, Robotnik/Eggman's face has shown up on bases, spacecraft, many other kinds of vehicle (especially in the Archie comic), Humongous Mecha, Mecha-Mooks, item containers and even a wall decoration...
    • In the bad ending of Sonic CD, when Eggman's personal transport is destroyed by the heroes, the EXPLOSION is actually shaped like his face. How or why he designed it to be able to do that, no one will ever know.
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog The Movie, Eggman shoots a missile at Tails' Tornado, and the resulting explosion is shaped like his face.
    • Since Sonic Adventure, Boss Subtitles show all of his vehicles are named Egg-something.
  • Dr Wily is almost as bad as the Eggman, putting his likeness on many of his personal war machines.
  • Gruntilda in the Banjo-Kazooie series. Statues bearing her likeness can be found all over her lair, whose entrance is also shaped like her.
  • Lord Recluse, head honcho of Arachnos and de facto dictator of the Etoile Isles in City of Heroes/Villains, has centred his entire organisation's technology, equipment, and architecture around spiders, something of a personal symbol for the man with spider legs growing from his back. This, of course, reflects on the country Arachnos controls.
  • Yuri in Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge. The barracks is made in his image.
  • Fawful in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. He even puts his swirly glasses in Bowser's own mugshots in the Koopa Castle, and his ugly smile in the statues in Peach's Castle.
  • Legend of Randorland 3: Randor in the RPG (played by raocow), goes further than just pictures of himself, he makes the architecture in the shape of the letters of his name! See the beginning of this video
  • Half-Life 2: Big Bad Dr. Breen has his image on propaganda posters all over City 17, he also shows up on 'public relations' propaganda speeches, known as "Breencasts".
  • Weasleby's Lair from Henry Hatsworth has this on spades. The eponymous Quintessential British Gentleman claims that the brigand's state is not what he had expected, but that his taste in decoration is "as questionable as [he] thought".

Tabletop Games

  • The Orks in Warhammer 40,000 are rather fond of painting crude ork warboss heads on everything.


  • Redcloak from Order of the Stick. At least, I assume that it's his face on the banners... all goblins look alike to me.
    • That is so stick-figure-ist.
    • Also worth noting that he is a Benevolent Dictator. To his people.
  • The banners of the rebuilt Gobwin Knob of Erfworld feature Stanley the Tool's face rendered in a style reminiscent of some Real Life Communist iconography. Something of a subversion in that it wasn't Stanley's idea, but rather a choice made by some of his high-ranking minions when they rebuilt in order to reassure his fragile ego.
    • If I understood the setup correctly, none of it was Stanley's idea...

Web Original

  • Homestar Runner: The forces of the Municipality are represented by a stylized King of Town logo.

Western Animation

  • On Samurai Jack, Aku's face is everywhere, even in advertising. Even the architecture resembles him.
  • The King and the Mockingbird. The Big Bad's face was all over everything, and the heroes is imprisoned in a factory that makes even more portraits of him.
  • Kim Possible
  • Phineas and Ferb: "In a bright shiny place/ there's a flag that bears my face..."
  • In the third season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Firelord Ozai's face is all over everything in the Fire Nation. Statues, posters, whatever. It's an abrupt change from the first two seasons when he was The Faceless as the Gaang roamed the Earth Kingdom.

Real Life

  • Germany under Hitler, the Soviet Union under Stalin... you aren't an Absolute Ruler unless your mug is plastered on every surface.
  • Don't forget the most iconic real-life version of this trope: Chairman Mao in China.
  • And in Kim Jong-il's Democratic People's Republic of North Korea, whose portrait its literally required in every single indoor inclosure in the country, including every room of a building, every tent, every bus, and every telephone booth.
    • And the national flower is called... kim-jong-ilia.
  • Author David Yallop (in To the Ends of the Earth) relates how disconcerted he was to find the ruler of Syria staring at him from a poster while he was doing his business in a public toilet.
  • Che Guevara's famous photo is now used to market capitalist T-Shirts. The Cuban government naturally use the iconic image themselves, a big version appears on the side of Interior Ministry in Havana's Plaza de la Revolución.
  • These were everywhere in Libya during Muammar Gaddafi's reign. They were cheerfully torn down and burnt by rebels whenever they captured cities.
  • Used to awesome effect by a Tunisian get-out-the-vote group. On October 18, 5 days before elections on October 23 (the first since the Tunisian Revolution on January 14), they set up a giant poster of former president/dictator Ben Ali on a building near a major intersection. The result? People got so riled up they tore down the poster entirely, revealing another poster behind it that said "Beware, dictatorship can return. On October 23, VOTE".
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.