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There are few sights more gruesome than that of a human face with all the skin removed. Something about the absence of eyelids, lips, and the nose combined with the rather bloody results makes this an extremely powerful image. Sometimes, a character will have their face completely destroyed, while other times, their face will be cut off and preserved. Bonus Points if the one who does the cutting ends up wearing the face for themselves. Note that simply damaging the face isn't enough - to qualify, the entire face must be removed, leaving only some combination of muscle, teeth, blood, bone, and (usually) eyes. In a more cartoony version, it's probable that only the skull will be left behind the face.

This is often the M.O. of the Face Stealer.

Subtrope of Facial Horror. Not to be confused with the end of a Scooby-Doo Hoax.

Examples of Tear Off Your Face include:

Anime and Manga

  • Happens to Franky in One Piece. Due to the fact that he's a cyborg, the whole thing is played for laughs.
  • Hellsing features a particularly brutal version. Seras Victoria finishes off Zorin Blitz by grinding her face against a wall until all that's left is a mass of blood and bone.
  • Happens all the time in Franken Fran.
  • In Bo Bo Bo-Bo... that one, Lambada has done so to Rice, although in a less gory manner - the polygonated Rice was left with with no apparent injuries, save for not having polygon edges or colour on his face. The face also turned into a nice little rectangular brick thing. It has been said that Lambada does this to defeated enemies regularly.
  • In one Inuyasha arc, Naraku expels his heart, which takes the form of a naked faceless man, who proceed to slay a whole bunch of bandits and rip their faces, looking for a suitable one for him. Without them he's shown to be The Blank.
  • Soul Eater features Free and Eruka Frog hallucinating that their faces are being chewed off.
  • One scene in D.Gray-man has Road Kamelot demonstrate her Healing Factor by tearing her own face off and regrowing it.
  • Orochimaru Naruto does in his first appearance. Offscreen thankfully.
  • The First Twilight in Umineko no Naku Koro ni.
  • Done rather subtly in Ghost in the Shell:Innocence. You don't know the person is a cyborg until the face is taken off to plug in data cables.

Comic Books

  • The cliffhanger to #1 of New 52 Detective Comics is the Dollmaker freeing The Joker from Arkham ... and leaving the Joker's face pinned to the wall.
  • Overlord does this near the end of Transformers Last Stand of the Wreckers - since this came out after Revenge of the Fallen, cue fandom yelling the page quote.
  • The Tales from the Crypt story "Only Skin Deep" (later adapted for the TV version) features a man who elopes with a woman he met at Mardi Gras, who refuses to remove her mask and insists on consummating the marriage in the dark. He gets curious and tries to remove it, and...well, it's listed as an example here, isn't it?
  • There was a Hellblazer story that featured a demon that ripped the face off an angel and now wears it as a mask. It would make deals for fame and fortune.
  • It's normal for Lucifer's pal Mazikeen to be missing half her face, just don't try to "fix" it.
  • Inverted in Joker - instead of the face, an unfortunate bartender is stripped of everything but.

Film

  • The obvious example is Face Off, in which the hero and the villain, for contrived reasons, end up surgically switching faces (and taking each other's places). At one point prior to the villain's surgery, he is shown walking around without a face.
  • Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter. He does this to a guard and wears his face as part of his legendary escape.
    • Another Lecter example: in the Backstory to Hannibal, he talked Mason Verger into cutting his own face off. Admittedly Verger was high at the time.
  • In Dead Alive (aka Brain Dead), one of the victims of the zombie outbreak has his face torn completely off.
  • Jason Mewes' character gets his face torn off early in the movie Feast.
  • In Nightbreed, one character starts to cut his own face off as part of his passage into Midian.
  • Mike Strauber, the lunatic psycho in the low-budget flick Truth or Dare: A Critical Madness, cuts a chunk of his own face off because one of his hallucinations dares him to.
  • The "Pride" victim in the movie Se7en has her face mutilated and nose cut off by John Doe.
  • In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Optimus Prime shouts "Give me your FACE!" at The Fallen. This quickly became a meme in the Transformers fandom.
  • In Poltergeist one of the scientists investigating the Freelings' house hallucinates that he pulls off his own face.
  • Happens in The Devil's Rejects.
  • In A Nightmare on Elm Street, Tina sort of does this to Freddy right before she dies. The "Sort Of" is there because Freddy let it happen to make himself even scarier, and it doesn't take.
  • In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, a character gets his face cut off with an electric carving knife.
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera with Amber Sweet during her "Blame Not My Genes" song
  • One guy has his face slashed off by a trap in Wrong Turn 3 Left for Dead.
  • Preston in Equilibrium kills a dude by slicing his face off with a katana.
  • Inverted by Cloverfield: A character gets everything except his face destroyed.
  • In Beetlejuice, Barbra pulls her own face off in an attempt to frighten off the Deetzs. Unfortunately they can't see her.
  • This is the MO of the killer in Wrestlemaniac.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas featured a clown with a tear-away face.
  • Angela rips a girl's face off with her bare teeth in the Night of the Demons remake. When the victim returns as a demon, she's still faceless.
  • Going Overboard: Dickie Diamond does this to his face at the end of Shecky's nightmare, when he becomes animated in a Big Lipped Alligator Moment.
  • A Jerkass farmer named Edgar gets his face ripped off along with the rest of his skin by a cockroach-like alien in Men in Black. It tears the "suit" off so it can fight properly.

Literature

  • Thursday Next: Acheron Hades took the face from his dying Mook Felix and applied it to a succession of abducted and brainwashed replacements. He later threatened to make Thursday the next Felix.
  • In the Laura Caxton books, when a vampire brings a victim Back From the Dead, the psychological trauma of the event causes the revived person to rip their own face to shreds.
  • Tom Clancy is rather fond of this. Multiple books feature somewhat graphic descriptions of a well-placed headshot plastering someone's face against a wall.
  • This happens to several people in one of the stories in The Further Adventures of The Joker.
  • In 1635: The Eastern Front, an explosive trap set to take out the John George blows the face of his wife off her skull, the face winding up plastered onto the hindquarters of one of the horses hauling their carriage.

Live Action TV

Music

Tabletop RPG

  • Call of Cthulhu supplement Terror Australis. The Mimi are creatures from Australian Aboriginal Mythology. When angry at a human they may eat all the flesh from his face, leaving the victim alive but horrendously disfigured.

Video Games

  • In Brutal Legend, the special attack "Face Melter" (originally a generic term for a particularly powerful guitar solo in Heavy Metal) literally melts the faces off any nearby enemies who have one.
  • The headcrab zombies in Half-Life 2 can be seen to have had their face eaten away (and what's left of it set in a scream) if you shoot off the headcrab.
  • A few enemies in the Resident Evil series can do this (for example the novistators from 4 if they kill Leon with an acid-to-the-face attack).
    • Lisa Trevor ripped the faces off several Umbrella employees who tried to pose as her mother.
  • One of Pocket God's more nightmarish sacrifices.
  • One of Reptile's Mortal Kombat 4 fatalities.

Web Comics

 "Oh well. At least my breasts are okay. No one looks at my face, anyways."

  • Happens to one unfortunate woman in Oglaf.

Western Animation

  • In Thomas the Tank Engine, all locomotives have faces, but this is how one of the Scottish Twins actually kills the Spiteful Brakevan (a bullying brakevan) at the end of the episode "Brake Van", by ramming into him face-on, smashing the brakevan to bits, and tearing off his face.
  • Peter does this to Chris in a Cutaway Gag in Family Guy.
    • In Petergeist, a parody of Poltergeist, Peter rips of his own face in the bathroom, but it leave him having the head of Hank Hill as his own. His response:

 Peter: (laughing)… propane.

  • Do you know why Strong Bad from Homestar Runner never removes his "mask?" Too bad we don't get to see him without the mask on because of that armchair he got in the email where he actually took off his mask.
  • Roll does this in the Mega Man cartoon to a cosmetics robot.
  • A dream-controlling villain in the J Western Animation/usticeLeague cartoon rips off his own face in a nightmare as part of embracing his new abilities. (This isn't his own nightmare, incidentally, and he does this while announcing that he's going to "perform some surgery" on the victim. It's probably for the best that we're not shown what happens to her, instead simply being told that she died in her sleep.)

Real Life

  • Peeling the skin downwards from the forehead, exposing the frontal bone, is one of the first steps in accessing the brain during an autopsy.
  • At least one surviving victim of an attack by a pet chimpanzee (Charla Nash) had her face torn off. She's had a facial transplant since.
  • Many, many anatomy textbooks have diagrams of the skinless human face at the beginnings of their chapters on skeletal muscles. Some even use such illustrations as cover art.
  • One man had his face shredded when his rider mower overturned.
  • Many victims of bear attacks, such as Dan Bigley.
  • Rudy Eugene did this to homeless man Ronald Poppo while on a drug trip, before being shot to death by the police.
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