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Fezzik: Why are you wearing a mask? Were you burned by acid or something like that?
Man in Black: No, it's just that they are terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.


Anyone who routinely covers at least half of their face is likely to be at the top end of the personal power scale. Habitual illusions and kabuki-style makeup also count.

Oddly, this also applies to those who wear little round glasses, despite the significantly lesser coverage, especially if they're Scary Shiny Glasses or Stoic Spectacles.

Almost prototypical for Superhero characters. In anime, these are standard issue for Char Clones.

Humongous Mecha frequently gain a mask (over their mouth at the least) when combining or entering a Super Mode.

Note that this only applies to major characters. Mooks in masks are in a special subcategory, but are still Mooks underneath. When you take this and add a coat, a hat and a suit, you get Coat, Hat, Mask. When done by villains, often coincides with Malevolent Masked Men, especially if it's white. In case of serial Killers, we are talking about Hockey Mask and Chainsaw. A mask that actually gives you power is a Mask of Power. For other headgear, see Nice Hat.

Compare Superheroes Wear Tights.

Examples of Cool Mask include:

Your Basic Mask

Anime and Manga

  • The Glittering Crux Brigade from Star Driver is practically built around this trope. Their masks even let them pilot Humongous Mecha.
  • Juliet of Romeo X Juliet, as part of her awesome, cross-dressing vigilante alter ego, The Red Whirlwind.
  • Lan Fan and Fuu from Fullmetal Alchemist wear masks, and they're elite ninja bodyguards of a prince. Lan Fan in particular seems to feel insecure without her mask on.
  • Ichigo and the Vizards from Bleach are able to release their Hollow abilities by materializing Hollow masks.
  • Several of the cast of Naruto (most notably Kakashi)
  • Arshes Nei in Bastard!!, though it quickly comes off.
  • Vampire Hunter D. No mask, but the shadow of his hat sometimes produces the same effect.
  • Pizza the Zonderian from GaoGaiGar.
    • By extension, Sixth Ranger Soldat J. When he gets purified and makes his Heel Face Turn, his mecha ends up being at least three times the size of the biggest Yuusha Robos.
  • Char Aznable and his imitators from the various Gundams. Char wore his Cool Mask so he could infiltrate the Zeon Military, and exact revenge upon the Zabis. Kycilia Zabi often wears a mask for reasons that go completely unexplained.
    • Schwartz Bruder, a helpful "Big Brother" character from G Gundam, and the Gundam Fighter from Neo Germany who always follows the protagonist, Domon Kasshu, around like a "Chief Rival." However (as the name implies) well into the series, Schwarz Bruder is revealed to be none other than the protagonist's own actual brother (or at least a nanomachine copy of his conscience) meant to toughen Domon up to take down the Big Bad. "Racer X" anyone?
    • Gundam Wing features a masked character similar to Char in backstory. The son of royalty who were killed by the Earth Sphere Alliance, Milliardo Peacecraft, adopted the name Zechs Marquise (Gundam Wing has a naming trope all to itself), donned a mask, joined a military contractor so he could infiltrate the Alliance, and then bring them down. After finally bringing down his family's murderers, he removes the mask. For the next season, he leaves the mask, but remains Badass.
      • To a lesser extent, Trowa Barton puts on a half-mask when performing as a clown for the circus he uses as cover. Thing is, Trowa is a Stoic, even in the circus, so the half-mask combined with his constant poker face only enhance his mystique. In addition, he also piloted the mostly-red (until Endless Waltz at least) Gundam Heavyarms.
    • In Turn a Gundam, Harry Ord, the Char Clone is a bodyguard for the Princess of the Moon, Diana Soriel. The trope (large red sunglasses) in this case is lampshaded by his confession that he is "keeping his eyes on the Queen's back." While being a semi-rival for the protagonist, he mostly kicks ass. And how.
    • As well as that Darth Vader wannabe, Iron Mask Carozzo, from the Mobile Suit Gundam F91 movie. The mask in this case grants him the ability to interface with his Attack Drones.
    • Bask Om from Zeta Gundam (and a minor role in Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory) is the "tiny little glasses" version of this. Well, goggles, really. He happens to be one of the highest ranked officers in the entire Federation/Titan force, and one mean bastard in general.
      • Also Quattro Bajeena, a Zeta Gundam expy of Char who just happens to be... Char himself, sans mask, but with sunglasses that cover just as much. Said sunglasses did pretty much jack since everyone already knew that he's Char.
    • Graham Acre in Gundam 00 fulfills the nominal Char Clone role. Subverting the trope, Acre does not come into his mask until the second season, by which time most Gundam tropes have been creatively subverted or lampshaded. The mask is explained as covering a disfiguring set of scars left on Graham after his GN Flag was irreparably damaged in battle against the Gundam Exia. The general assumption is that he was burned from the heat of Exia's GN Blade.
    • Rau Le Creuset and Neo Roanoke in Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny respectively. Neo's hiding scars (and his identity from the audience), Rau's hiding from the sight of his own face and attempting to create an independent identity for himself. Both are extremley dangerous, with Neo serving as a Badass Normal Dragon to Destiny's secondary Big Bad, and Le Creuset functioning, in no particular order, as Big Bad, Omnicidal Maniac (Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds version), and one of the best pilots in all of SEED.
    • In classic Char Clone fashion, Zeheart Galette from Gundam AGE dons one from Episode 20 onwards. Unlike the other "Char-style" masks, however, Zeheart's mask is actually a device that helps him concentrate his X-Rounder abilities.
    • And in Gundam Unicorn, we have Full Frontal who also wears a mask, and looks and sounds a lot like Char. In a brilliant bit of lampshading, its revealed that he's a Cyber-Newtype who was surgically modified to look and sound like Char, complete with the mask, all in order to keep the morale of the Neo Zeon remnants up, making him a literal Char clone in universe.
  • Larva from Vampire Princess Miyu.
  • Cain from Tenchi Muyo!! In Love, and Katsuhito Masaki/Youshou in Tenchi Muyo!! Ryo-Ohki.
  • Chichiri from Fushigi Yuugi is an interesting example. His mask happens to be a perfect replica of his face, sans the scar.
  • Zelgadis from Slayers.
    • In the first Slayers anime season, a Mazoku named "Tiiba" looks like a cute humanoid rooster in a waistcoat at first. Then he manages to slip away and find a mask into which most of his power was sealed, transforming him into a giant humanoid hawk-thing when he melds it into his face.
  • The Zeiram's (from the Zeiram films and Iria: Zeiram the Animation) only visible face is a three-inch thing on a long prehensile neck, but it resembles a Kabuki mask, so it might count.
  • When Fubuki in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, suffering from Jekyll-and-Hyde Syndrome, succumbs to his Super-Powered Evil Side, it is symbolized by such a mask appearing on his face from nowhere except a cloud of black smoke.
  • The mysterious masked man in the second season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. He could take the full brunt of Nanoha's attack without being fazed and routinely made short work of anyone he attacked.
  • San from Princess Mononoke. Her mask is so badass that it let her shrug off a nearly point-blank gunshot to the face (Okay, so it shatters at that point, but it gets fixed.)
  • Racer X from Speed Racer.
  • Suiren from Battle Spirits: Shonen Toppa Bashin has a Cool Mask of her own.
  • Turkey in Axis Powers Hetalia, though he loses his mask during/before the Christmas Episode.
  • Paul Wan from GetBackers, though only in the manga. While he wears sunglasses in both the anime and manga without ever taking them off and giving people the image of a cafe owner, in the manga, it is discovered that the sunglasses are not opaque at all, and that he relies on his sixth sense instead of actually seeing. When he decides to take off the sunglasses in the last arc of the GetBackers manga, he is revealed to be VERY high on the power scale, capable of generating razor-sharp winds and cutting through his opponents just by MOVING.
  • Otohime Mutsumi from Love Hina appears to become a lot less ditzy, although she still affects a facade of ditziness, after she acquires a pair of these glasses (and a wardrobe change). This happens approximately in volume 12.
  • Sara Gallagher, one of the Five Pillars from Mai-Otome, sports a Meister Robe that gives her a decidedly Zorro-like appearance, complete with a black mask, black cape, and black form-fitting tights.
  • In One Piece, after Usopp leaves the crew, he comes back under the alias 'Sogeking', with a mask and cape, and a metric tonne more badassery than he had before. In the arc after that, he puts on the mask again during a battle and suddenly becomes much more competent.
  • The titular heroine of Kekko Kamen wears a red mask to conceal her face when she's out protecting her innocent classmates from evil. And that's about all she's concealing, seeing as the rest of the costume consists of gloves and boots... and nothing more.

Kekko Kamen: Nobody knows my face, but everyone knows my body...

  • Subverted to the extreme in Ultimate!! Hentai Kamen, where the main character's true fighting potential is unlocked by wearing a pair of panties over his face. It doesn't help that he takes to fighting crime in only his underwear... and somebody else's.
    • Hentai Kamen gains new powers based on whose panties he is wearing: he gained amazing speed and agility when he put on a ballerina's panties... Not even going to say it... dammit.
    • In Hentai Kamen Reborn, his stuttering powers burst back to life when a pair of the near-extinct female-wear species of bloomers hits him.
    • Oh, and in the first chapter, Kyosuke's mom (who works part time as an....S&M MISTRESS?) is wearing a large opera mask while whipping a salary man. Note that she's eighteen at this point.
  • Lelouch Lamperouge, as Zero, in Code Geass. Wears an "undermask" under the mask: The latter is the iconic helmet with chess-styled horns, and underneath is what appears to be part of his undershirt covering just his lower face - think Kakashi. However, despite multiple masks and an impressive list of accomplishments, he's less likely to beat you up himself than to have his minions do it for him.
  • Despariah, the Big Bad of Yes! Precure 5, wears full kabuki makeup to the point that her expressions are completely unreadable.
    • Later revealed to be an actual mask that shatters to reveal her true face when it's time for her to play Final Boss.
  • Hakuoro of Utawarerumono, as seen above. Not even he knows what he looks like without the mask, so you know he means business. In fact, the scientists who originally recovered and studied him even found a way to improve their health and longevity by donning duplicates of his mask... until he smote them.
  • Kogarashi from Kamen no Maid Guy. He's got super strength, super smarts, is a master of disguise - and wears a mask at all times.
  • Persona from Gakuen Alice.
    • Could be argued that it's not his choice. The mask is what keeps his Alice in control. Otherwise it would eat his own skin off. Still a Cool Mask though.
  • Hei from Darker than Black. His mask looks like a cross between V's mask and Billy the Puppet's face and is kind of freaky.
  • Papillion Mask from Busou Renkin may be the only homunculus to wear a large face mask, depending on whether or not Moon Face's actual head is shaped like the moon. And Papillion Mask is probably the strongest, smartest, and most ambitious 'normal' human homunculus in the series.
  • Kurei from Flame of Recca. In nearly all of his appearances he is wearing his mask, or renditions of it. Which is a very badass mask too.
  • The Jester from Grenadier.
  • Everyone in Dorohedoro, pretty much justified since mages get masks as part of their contract with daemons, and Cayman presumably does not want to scare off little children looking at his face. En is a particular bad case of this, even among a city of powermasked people.
  • Samurai Seven top villain Ukyou seems to be this, although it's possible that what looks like a variation of the same full-face makeup the city guards wear is actually his face. His brothers?/fellow clones? have the same look when they turn up, but they were disguised as him to serve as body doubles at the time. Their father?/original version? The Emperor has a face that resembles this and is much more mask-like; if it didn't have expressions and he weren't restricted for unexplained reasons to a life-support tank all his life you could presume it was a mask. All in all, very bizarre, but ups the badass considerably.
    • Same show has the Shikimoribito, who all wear fullbody suits and bizarre masks through which they eat with straws, and who have the government and everyone else terrified of trespassing on their underground territory, where they dangle by their ankles on ropes from the ceiling in a disquieting way. The main characters can beat them up if they have to, though.
  • In Digimon, any 'mon who has a sufficiently humanoid appearance (I.E. could be confused for an actual human if not for a few tells) wears some sort of mask that obscures the top half of their face - for example, Angemon, Piedmon, Devimon, Myotismon, etc.
    • Or the bottom half in the case of Wizardmon.
  • The titular character of Ergo Proxy.
  • In the Pokémon Special manga, Mask of Ice's takeover of Team Rocket leads to all the grunts wearing masks and making them naturally more badass. Not to mention said Mask of Ice himself, who is pretty much the primary driver for bad stuff happening in about half of the entire series.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple has "Laughing Fist" Diego, the Yami Luchadore master, who, of course, wears a Mexican Wrestling mask. ( He actually wears 3 masks, when the first comes off, it means he's serious. The second comes off after he's defeated, and the mask he wears under that one is just a joke.)
  • General Cross Marian of D Gray Man is never seen without his opera style half-mask. But when he mysteriously disappears after sustaining a supposedly fatal head wound, his mask had been shot off and is left behind.
    • Also General Winters Socalo. And once he gets better-attuned to his Innocence, Allen.
  • Sailor Moon. He's called Tuxedo Mask for a reason. In the original manga, Sailor Moon wears a mask as well.
  • Noein, the titular Big Bad of Noein, appears as a floating mask for most of the series. It makes it harder to tell that he's an alternate-reality version of one of the male leads.
    • Actually two of the male leads, seeing as the male leads are both the same person.
  • Near in Death Note. Very briefly, but the mask is completely awesome.
  • Friend of 20th Century Boys gets two cool masks. He starts off the series with a Ninja Hattori-Kun mask, then later swaps that one out for a full head hood with the symbol of his cult on it.
  • Casshern wears a lower face mask for combat. In Casshern Sins, it resembles a motorcycle helmet. The Movie version resembles an oversized jaw.
  • Dynamis and Kagetarou in Mahou Sensei Negima. It seems to be common among shadow mages, and Takane's puppets also have similar-looking masks.
  • Every member of Planet Kinniku has to wear a full-face wrestling mask with a mohawk-fin on top from birth. If their faces are ever seen, they have to commit suicide. The masks are pretty damn lifelike.
  • The fox masks the players of Otokoyo have to wear.
  • The legendary Bully Hunter "Rubber Shooter" in Daily Lives of High School Boys wears a Kamen Rider mask.

Comic Books

  • Boy Blue from Fables when he's infiltrating the Homelands, in a clear The Princess Bride homage down to the near-identical bandana-mask. Admittedly, he doesn't wear it for most of the series, but the magical artifacts he carries at the time and from that point onward make him pretty damn powerful.
  • The Anti-Hero in V for Vendetta wears a Guy Fawkes mask. In the movie, the mask is such a powerful symbol, it overshadows the hero himself up to a point where it's hard to tell who's wearing whom.
  • Pretty much most (if not all) superheroes, but the second Batgirl took this to the logical extreme; her mask was skin-tight, designed to cover her entire skull, and really about the last thing you'd want to meet in a dark alley. (Let's not even get into the pointy ears.)
  • The Corinthian from Sandman has these as well, although it's justified in that he needs to hide his eyes because he has little mouths instead, complete with terrifying teeth. (Although he still manages to see...)
  • Judge Dredd (and the other judges).
  • The graphic novel Fall of Cthulhu features a being called the Masked Mute, who is somehow related to Nyarlathotep (often referred as the god with a thousand masks) and takes the form of a little girl wearing a mask. You don't want to know what's behind that mask...
  • Rorschach from Watchmen only feels like himself when he's wearing his mask, even referring to it as his face. This sort of overlaps with Becoming the Mask, though.
  • In Kabuki, all eight Noh agents wear painted porcelain masks when "in character".
  • In Jon Sable Freelance, Sable wears a black makeup design on his face because "it scares the hell out of the bad guys".
  • The Mask. Not like the title gives it away at all.
  • Resident Badass Noburo from Okko always wears a red oni mask to conceal his features.
  • The Green Hornet and his faithful sidekick Kato. They began on radio, expanded their territory into comics, TV and film... and kept their verdant masks on the whole while.
  • The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles all wear masks; uniformly red in the original comic book, color-coded on the TV shows and movies (red = Raphael, blue = Leonardo, purple = Donatello, orange = Michaelangelo.) In the TMNTs case, these accessories do not serve as identity concealers (it's rather hard to disguise a giant humanoid turtle as anything else) so much as badges of their Shadow Warrior vocation.
    • The turtles' vigilante ally Casey Jones wears a hockey mask. This is more about looking scary than hiding his identity; Casey frequently yells out his name just so people know who's delivering the beatdown.
    • The Shredder's helmet and the Foot Clan's ninja masks could count as well.


  • The Man in Black from The Princess Bride (see page quote). He manages to kill the Rodent of Unusual Size and bluff Prince Humperdinck without the mask, but his coolest moments come while wearing his mask.
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader's face is fully masked and even if he's not the most powerful villains in the universe, he's amongst the scariest. He may have been more powerful before he needed a life support mask, but we don't recommend telling him if you appreciate being able to breathe.
  • The mask of the Predator features (at least) IR vision, EM vision, "preda-tech" vision, optic zoom, breathing apparatus and a targeting module for the Plasma Caster.
  • In Transformers, Optimus Prime has a metal plate folds out over his mouth when he preps for combat.
    • Bumblebee also puts on a mask for combat.
  • As a part of his Historical Hero Upgrade, King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem (Edward Norton) got a spiffy metal mask in Kingdom of Heaven, covering his leprosy-stricken face.
  • RoboCop. He's the future of law enforcement!
  • 7, in 9 wears a combo Cool Mask/Nice Hat dubbed the 'Skullmet'. Is she badass? Well, considering that her entrance involves her decapitating the Cat Beast in one swing...
  • The Mask. It's literally about a mask that turns whoever wears it into the physical avatar of the Trickster God Loki.
  • Jason Voorhees of the Friday the 13 th series made the hockey mask a universal symbol of horror.
    • He also inspired the song "The Man Behind The Mask" by Alice Cooper.
  • The Alchemist from Vidocq wears a mask made out of mirror that he uses to eat the souls of his victims. For extra creepiness, it also makes the victim see their own dying face while looking at him.
  • The title character in Don Juan Demarco related that he started wearing a mask in response to his father's untimely death. It didn't exactly ruin his looks.
  • Every film version of Zorro (see page photo.) One of the fictional characters most closely associated with this trope.
  • Every film version of The Lone Ranger. See comment beside Zorro. "Who was that masked man?"
  • Lon Chaney, in the Silent Era Phantom of the Opera, may not have worn the coolest face-cover around... but the scene where it's snatched off remains one of the most memorable Unmaskings in the history of cinema.
  • In Onibaba, a mysterious samurai wears a frightful demonic Noh mask which was later the inspiration for the demon in The Exorcist.
  • As noted in Western Animation, Cobra Commander usually wears one. Cobra Commander's mask in G.I. Joe: Retaliation elicits this In-Universe reaction from Zartan: "Cool mask."



"whom men called Natohk, the Veiled One; for his features were always masked."

  • Legendary seducer Don Juan. Different writers have portrayed him in various ways over the centuries- a high-spirited rascal, a heartless destroyer, even a semi-innocent victim of his own good looks- but all the better-known accounts agree he had a penchant for wearing a mask.

Live-Action TV

  • In Queen of Swords, Tessa wears a very elegant black lace mask made from her mother's favourite shawl.
  • Liz 10, from the Doctor Who episode "The Beast Below", wears a porcelain mask.
  • There's a reason why they are called Kamen Riders. Kamen being Japanese for mask, and up until recently they were known as "Masked Riders" in official translated material, including the series logos.
  • Played with with Richard Harrow of "Boardwalk Empire"; it hides his badly mangled face and most people seem to prefer that he wears it at all times, although it's rather unsettling in and of itself. However, he is most definitely a Badass, and the mask helps with the mystique.


  • Used in the music video for My Chemical Romance's single "Na Na Na". All of the main protagonists in the story have some sort of headgear, the most notable being Party Poison's own masquerade-style mask.
  • The Aquabats!, seeing as they're actual superheroes and all.
  • Daft Punk wear robot masks when in public that light up.
  • Deadmau5 and his signature mouse mask.
  • MF DOOM wears a custom Doctor Doom mask as part of his "supervillain" persona. He even has a song about it.
  • Italian electro-house duo The Bloody Beetroots wear Venom masks.
  • Dubstep artist Funtcase wears a gray robot mask when performing.
  • The members of Japanese rock band Beat Crusaders always wore masks featuring dot-matrix print-outs of their faces, never showing their actual faces in public.
  • The '80s Prog-Power Metal band Crimson Glory deliberately distinguished itself by all wearing silver full-face masks, except for the singer, whose mouth was uncovered. So he could, you know, sing.

Professional Wrestling

  • Comes up on occasion, especially Mexican lucha libre - major lucha libre feuds can culminate in a "mask vs mask" match, where the loser is required to publicly unmask themselves and have their real name revealed.
    • El Santo is perhaps the ultimate example. There is only one known occasion where he was publically seen without the mask. When he died, they buried him in it.
    • The local sports commissions actually enforce these "matches of bets" — luchas de apuestas—in that the wrestler can no longer don the mask, at least in the locality involved!
  • Subverted/Played Straight with Kane. In a 2003 angle, Kane was forced to unmask. When he first unmasked, he went back to being the Monster Heel he was at his debut; however, after a sucktacular match with The Undertaker, he quickly became involved in some pretty idiotic storylines.
    • The unmasking was actually Kane's idea; wearing it was growing increasingly uncomfortable and making it increasingly difficult to perform, and he felt that his inability to display facial expressions was limiting what they could do with the character.
  • Played Straight with "The Hurricane" Gregory Helms, who underwent a Face Heel Turn upon (voluntarily) unmasking. He developed actual depth during his time afterward, but suffered from severe under-pushing, though he underwent a Heel Face Turn much later. He recently returned from injury on ECW, redebuting with a slightly Darker and Edgier Anti-Hero version of The Hurricane, as Hurricane Helms. It seems to be rather successful, though time will tell whether it results in a title push or Kane-like decay.
  • SHIMMER features Allison Danger and Cat Power, both of whom incorporate cool masks into their entrances.
  • In possibly a luchador tradition, nearly all masked wrestlers have a secondary goal of keeping their masks on. If unmasked, they will immediately try to flee the ring or cover their faces with their hands. Thus, being unmasked generally robs a masked wrestler of their ability.
    • However, in cases where a known wrestler is using a mask to hide their identity to get a match with a cowed rival, when they unmask, they become more powerful. One example would be Dean Malenko wearing a mask as Ciclope to get to his then-rival, Chris Jericho. However, this had been done before in the Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling promotion in the Maritimes in 1980, when Leo Burke used this approach to get a title shot against "Dr. D" David Schultz.
  • Oddly enough masked wrestlers used to be considered one of the worst things in wrestling. Only pathetic undercarders wore masks, so that people wouldn't see who it was getting their asses kicked.
    • This often occurred, even later, with "Parts Unknown" jobbers like "Mr. X", who could be known wrestlers who are simply put out there to do the job.
    • "Used to be" means "the 50s and before"; The Destroyer, Mr. Wrestling I & II, The Masked Superstar, The Spoiler/Super Destroyer—all of them were stars in America and Japan going back into the 60s and 70s.
  • The mask is also closely related to the Charlie Brown From Outta Town angles, where a banished/disgraced wrestler returns with a not-very-conspicuous mask under a different name to try to "clear" the banned wrestler (ie himself)'s name.

Tabletop Games

  • Ethergaunts from Dungeons & Dragons. They are a race of (evil) alien supergeniuses dwelling on the ethereal plane whose faces are entirely covered by blank, bisected masks, with the color of said masks indicating their rank. Of special note are the black ethergaunts, which are some of the most intelligent monsters out there, and cast spells as a 17th-level wizard.
    • And you do NOT want to see what's underneath the mask.
    • While masks have been included in the Magic Items section of the rules for years, 3.5's Complete Psionics introduced Crystal Masks. Almost all of them are overpriced and very weak (despite most of them being constantly active), and were reprinted in the Magic Item Compendium (and given a price retuning). Most of these are trash, but certain Fighter builds can make use of the Crystal Mask of Dread.
    • Mask, the Forgotten Realms god of thieves.
  • Exalted: Princess Magnificent with Lips of Coral and Robes of Black Feathers.
  • Warhammer Fantasy has Balthasar Gelt, the current Supreme Patriarch of the Colleges of Magic and head of the Gold College, who wears a golden Greek-style face mask at all times. He only took to doing this after a mysterious alchemical lab accident many years ago, but nobody is quite sure what the mask (and his full body robes and gloves) covers. Some speculate his skin has turned to gold, others that he is horribly burned and disfigured, others that there's actually nothing wrong with him at all and it's merely an affectation. Balthasar isn't the sort of person one generally feels comfortable asking these things, and he probably wouldn't tell you even if you did.


  • At least half of the appeal in Bionicle. Despite years of similar builds in the toys, there is always a new set of masks with each set of toys. In-Universe they grant a ton of powers, to name a few: shielding, Flight, X-Ray Vision, accuracy, invisibility, teleportation, even altering probablity. (But note that the series has been ReTooled a bit away from this, now including other headgear without powers.)
    • A full list: Shielding, Underwater Breathing, Levitation, Strength, Speed, X-Ray Vision, Time, Life, Light, Shadows, Concealment, Translation, Illusions, Night Vision, Mind Control, Telekinesis, Fate, Spirit, Detection, Telepathy, Flight, Accuracy, Radar, Kindred, Summoning, Stealth, Gravity, Reanimation, Corruption, Hunger, Silence, Repulsion, Disruption, Time Duplication, Diminishment, Clairvoyance, Quick Travel (Teleportation), Emulation, Growth, Rahi Control (Animal Control), Regeneration, Truth, Dimensional Travel, Charisma, Alternate Futures, Psychometry, Intangibility, Possibilities, Elemental Energy, Mutation, Creation, Scavenging, Incomprehension, Adaptation, Sensory Aptitude, Aging, Undeath, Conjuring, Rebounding, Biomechanics, and Fusion.
      • The abstractness of the powers grew as the series aged. One of the very cool features early on was how much the Toa mixed and matched elemental powers and mask powers, a lot like LEGO. Stop a lava flow from damaging an island? Mask of strength and earth elemental powers on the first Toa to dig a trench, mask of speed on the toa behind to push the digger around so that the channel was dug in time.
    • Some masks are more powerful than others, and only some actually grant powers at all. Only Toa and Turaga can use them either way. Matoran can sense if a mask has power, but can't use it. So multiple levels of this trope.
    • Also, it's a breathing apparatus. Since the Matoran were designed to live inside the giant robot body of Mata Nui, leaving Metru Nui to go to Mata Nui essentially put them in a toxic atmosphere.

Video Games

  • Takuma Sakazaki a.k.a. Mr. Karate from Art of Fighting. He acts goofy and jovial and frequently plugs his dojo when talking to others, and his kids treat him as something of an embarassment. He still is quite dangerous in a fight despite his age and mannerisms (he is a master of Kyokugen-ryu, after all).
    • Then sometimes he'll get "Serious", which is your cue to run. When his son Ryo inherits the title of "Mr. Karate", he does not wear the mask (in most continuities - he does wear a different mask in The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact 2 though).
  • El Blaze from Virtua Fighter.
  • King Dedede in the Kirby Super Star Ultra game "Revenge of the King". Fed up with being defeated by Kirby so many times, he comes back wearing a steel mask and a Badass new hammer three times the size and weight of his old one.
    • Meta Knight wears a mask almost all the time. The only times his face is revealed is when he's defeated and his mask breaks.
  • Wodan Ymir of Super Robot Wars, what with his "BFS" which can become a giant "Laser Blade".
  • While not really a cool mask, the Grey Fox's mask in Elder Scrolls Oblivion magically induces amnesia in anyone who meets the wearer. The original Grey Fox claims to have met the player on several occasions, but the mask's magic erased the memory each time. When the player acquires the mask, it allows them to commit crimes with impunity.
    • The Dragon Priest Masks from Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim definitely count.
  • Mass Effect gives us the quarians, an entire race of cool mask wearers. Most characters put on their own cool masks to walk around in hostile environments too. Special mention needs to go to Zaeed's and Thane's.
  • Godot from the Ace Attorney games. He wears the mask because he's completely blind without it due to the damage done to his nervous system by the poison.
    • Also Mask☆DeMasque, who is a charismatic Gentleman Thief compared to his alter ego, the nervous Ron DeLite.
  • Proto Man from both Mega Man Classic and Mega Man Battle Network. In his case, they are more like Cool Shades, but still.
  • All four of the Testaments from Xenosaga.
  • Sturm from the Advance Wars series.
  • Several games in the Battlefield (series) have these as available clothing customization options for the player-character; ranging from a simple bandanna, to ski masks, to gas masks.
  • Prinny Mask and the whole Masked Hero class in general from Disgaea 3.
  • Salem and Rios of Army of Two both wear metal metal painted facemasks, which actually have some practical applications in the game; one of their melee attacks is a simple, brutally effective headbutt, and if an opponent punches one of them in the face, he recoils, shaking his hand in agony, letting them set up to finish them off.
  • Labtech X has always been one of The Faceless, but when he traded in his old Scarf of Asskicking to one with a full mask... well there's a reason his scarf is one of the most valuable prizes you can win from playing zOMG. (By the way, X actually has a reason for hiding his face, since he's a clone, and hates the man who created him.
  • Psycho Mantis, from the Metal Gear Solid games. Even if he's a villain, you can't top that gas mask.
  • Aoi "Zaki" Himezaki of Project Justice is almost always seen wearing a mask covering the lower half of her face. The supplemental board game reveals that she even refuses to eat in the presence of others since it'd require taking off her mask. A number of members in the Ladies Team, the delinquent gang she leads, also wear similar masks, though whether they're following Zaki's example or just doing it for some other reason isn't clear.
  • Arakune, Hakumen, and Relius from BlazBlue.
  • The entire premise of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is that Link obtains lots of masks with unique powers.
  • The Garif from Final Fantasy XII, a race of shamanistic mask wearers who put on their first mask when they are born and are NEVER WITHOUT ONE AFTER THAT.
  • Sirius, who's actually Camus Back from the Dead and thus using the mask to hide his identity, in Fire Emblem : Mystery of the Emblem.
  • Mask de Smith from Killer7 is a luchadore who has the most powerful weapon (dual grenade launchers) and largest health bar of any playable character in the game. He's physically strong enough to lift a semi-trailer truck. Near the end of the game, he receives an upgrade in the form of a new mask and costume that lets him fire infinite grenades without ever having to reload.
    • In fact, luchadores period.
    • Also, his ultimate upgrade not only makes him damn near invincible, but almost as terrifying as the monsters he's slaughtering with said infinite grenades.
  • No love for King from Tekken? He wears a mother-flipping LEOPARD MASK, and not just leopard print, no, he looks like a man with a LEOPARD FOR A FACE.
    • And he always straps a tail on his pants for good measure!
    • And his dialogue is always snarls. Sadly, Kunimitsu isn't quite as powerful in the games despite her own mask habits.
  • The Pyro and the Spy from Team Fortress 2 wear masks all the time.
  • The Children of the Earth in Baten Kaitos all have them, which are used to filter the miasma out of the air so they can breathe. Mizuti, who joins your party in Eternal Wings, has a particularly cool one, which only comes off once (not counting the epilogue).
  • Joachim Valentine from Shadow Hearts: Covenant uses a mask as part of his ultimate power-up when he appears as Grand Papillon, and later as the Great Question after he defeats his mentor during the Man Festival.
  • Mortal Kombat deserves at least a few mentions given the preponderance of ninjas. Notables include Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Smoke, Jade, Kitana, Mileena, the cyber-ninjas Smoke, Sektor, and Cyrax, and the shadowy Noob Saibot. Shao Kahn has an intimidating skull mask-helmet.
  • Darth Revan of Knights of the Old Republic, who is stated to be one of the most powerful Force user in history, masterminds elaborate Xanatos Gambits for dealing with events centuries if not millennia in advance, and of course who also happens to be you.
    • Proving his mask power even further, Revan fought and killed Mandalore the Ultimate, the other Cool Mask user of his time in hand to hand single combat.
    • And then there's Darth Nihilus from the sequel, whose mask can be obtained to get you more Force Points, and who is coincidentally extremely close to being an Eldritch Abomination. Quite a few Sith from those games have part or all of their faces obscured, actually.
      • In Nihilus's case, while the mask itself still technically has no powers, his body has actually been destroyed and corrupted by the force. His mask IS his face.
  • Death's Hand in Jade Empire has a pretty nasty-looking red mask on the front of his helmet.
    • There is also the Watcher, a minor villain whose blank-featured red mask made him one of the creepiest-looking villains ever.
  • In Lightning Legend Daigo no Daibouken, the mysterious Hero of Justice Adolf Rätsel wears one to conceal his real identity. It has a Mohawk design, and sports a "A" letter (standing for "Adolf") on its forehead.
  • A wearable disguise in the Heaven and Hell Party mission for 47 in Hitman: Blood Money is a white suit with a cool, white mask with a black scar-type thingy over his right eye. It's probably only made of flimsy plastic, though.
  • Modern Warfare 2 gives us Simon Riley, better known as "Ghost", for the very cool skull mask that he wears. We never see his face, leading to fan speculation (until the comics came out) that he is actually Gaz from the first game.
  • Sima Shi starts wearing one in Dynasty Warriors after surviving a sword blow to the face.
  • The eponymous item in the Mask of the Betrayer Expansion Pack to Neverwinter Nights 2.
    • Kelemvor, god of the dead, is depicted wearing a full-face gold mask.
    • Belueth the Calm, an aasimar rogue you can hire in Storm of Zehir, wears a jet-black domino as a symbol of her devotion to the thief-god Mask.

Visual Novels

  • Baron Munchhausen in Shikkoku no Sharnoth always wears a strange, inhuman mask. Underneath it is a strange, inhuman face. Sometimes.

Web Original

Web Comics

  • Dave of Narbonic fame, begins with apparently opaque round glasses. But, as he realizes his mad science abilities, his glasses turn transparent.
  • Eternion and the rest of the Eternals in Adventurers!!
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: The whole McNinja family.
  • In Blip, The Adversary wears a blank white mask. Apparently this is for everyone else's protection; even Lucifer would cease to exist if he were to see the Adversary's real face.
  • Shows up a lot in Digger. "I keep meeting people wearing strange masks, you see."
  • Guy, from Mushroom Go, is a Shyguy with a scarred mask.
  • Weijuaru wears a mask whenever he goes out in public. This is half because it provides his political persona with a level of mystique that helps things work out better in his favor, and half because it hides the fact that he hasn't aged a day during his reign thanks to his Shift magic.

Western Animation

  • Robin in Teen Titans. Even if this is potentially an artifact of the comics, it was acknowledged in-show as looking cool. (Beast Boy's Doom Patrol mask, sadly, was not.) Similarly, archnemesis Slade wears a mask, and for most of the first season concealed even that in shadow. Slade's mask is also an Eyepatch of Power.
    • As seen in season 4's episode "The Quest", Robin's mask looks cool on everyone.
    • Red X wears a full-face mask, and he can fight Robin blow-for-blow.
    • Cheshire wears a cat mask with a permanent scary grin during her brief but memorable appearance in the series. She made enough of an impression that the Young Justice version of the character retains it.
  • 80's cartoon M.A.S.K. also had (almost) everyone in masks, which produced a variety of powers and effects, including Gliding, Holograms and Flamethrowers.
    • And throwing daggers.
  • The Blue Spirit in Avatar: The Last Airbender, even without being able to bend the elements. When Zuko takes the mask off, his fighting changes in terms of technique.
    • In his defense with his mask off, he's only firebending, something he knows, but never came easy to him. However, in the fight against Jet in Ba Sing Se, he's still being a badass swordsman, and did anyone else see his little bit of firebending WITH the swordfight? Also, Zuko's firebending skills are much greater after his visit with the dragons. He's basically a Master after that.
    • Also it was probably psychological. The Blue Spirit didn't have Zuko's emotional baggage.
    • This may also apply to the Kyoshi Warriors. While their facepaint doesn't give them any special powers (Suki and the others are just about as deadly without it), they use it to remind themselves of their connection to Avatar Kyoshi, and it is definitely a symbol of being at the top end of their power scale.
  • What of Optimus Prime's Mouthplate?[context?]
  • How about Dirge from The Clone Wars?[context?]
  • G.I. Joe: Cobra Commander
  • The real Noodle in Gorillaz Phase 3 now has a cat mask. It's hinted that it's hiding some form of facial injury. 2D wears a clown mask for as-yet-unexplained reasons in the "Stylo" and "On Melancholy Hill" videos.
  • In Winx Club, all three evil witches, Icy, Darcy, and Stormy (The Trix) wear eye makeup that goes down to their cheekbones on the bottom and to their eyebrows on the top. When they achieve Disenchantix, their eye makeup goes from the top of their face to their chins on either side. Darcy in civilian form also wears a tiny pair of spectacles on her nose and when she was a child wore a large, round pair.
  • In Rollbots, Vett's mask makes him look even more Badass than he is.

Real Life

  • In real life, trained Gold eagles wear masks when they aren't being used. Their wing span can easily reach 8 to 9 feet at age and their claws can rip through falconers' gloves and keep going to crush bones.
  • Shamans of various traditions and cultures the world over wear masks of animals or spirits in ceremonies in order to assume the aspects, powers and identities associated with the animal or spirit.
  • Hip hop dance crew Jabbawockeez wear creepy, blank masks to give the illusion that they are a bunch of puppets moving to the music. They're masked heroes! Like Rorschach.
    • Before the Jabbawockeez there was guitarist Brian "Buckethead" Carroll, who still wears that same type of mask to this day.
  • Since Jacques Plante introduced the goaltender mask to ice hockey, wearers of such equipment have taken to personalizing their masks, giving each golatender in the National Hockey League their own Cool Mask. Starting with Gerry Cheever's scars for every time he was hit in the mask with a puck, art has evolved with motifs such as Evgeni Nabokov's skeletons, Curtis Joseph's painting of Cujo from the novel of the same name, and Kari Lehtonen's paintings of Yuna and Rikku from Final Fantasy X-2.
  • Can we count astronaut's helmets, with monolayers of gold to block the sun?

For those little round glasses, see

Anime and Manga

  • Vash the Stampede from Trigun
  • Kagato from Tenchi Muyo!! Ryo-Ohki
  • Lobelia Carlini from Sakura Taisen III
  • Negi Springfield from Mahou Sensei Negima!
    • It should be noted that whenever he activates his Black Magic, his glasses get blown off his face.
  • Captain Kuro from One Piece
  • Hellsing subverts this. Alucard is usually at his least powerful while dandied up in his signature hat, suit, and little round glasses. As a combat progresses and Alucard unleashes higher levels of powers, his appearance becomes more feral and otherwordly. This is somewhat justified in the fact that opponents have to knock him around first before he increases his power level.
  • Gendo Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion wears little round Scary Shiny Glasses, and while he may or may not be physically formidable, he's a megalomaniacal mad genius and absolutely ruthless, as well as having large numbers of security goons and assassins at his beck and call, not to mention that he commands a force of Humongous Mecha; he is definitely not a man to be trifled with.
  • No mention of Yu-gi-oh! GX's Shou Marufuji yet? If nothing else, the fact that they only fall off his face twice throughout the series (once for a Blind Without'Em joke, once for drama,) makes them pretty cool.


  • Ozzy Osbourne.
    • who was just imitating John Lennon.
    • Also Deep Purpledrummer Ian Paice.

Video Games

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • Hermes in Disney's Hercules.


Anime and Manga

Professional Wrestling

  • WWE Wrestler Charlie Haas tries to gain a Cool Mask through putting on a Luchadore Mask during his matches. Most of the times it doesn't work.
  • During the mid 80's-early 90's there were several masked jobber tag teams including but not limited to The Conquistadors, The Cruel Connection, The Shadows, The Galaxians, The Thunderfoots, The Executioners, The Head Hunters and various assorted Demons.
  • For some reason practically every two bit independent wrestling promotion has to have a Doink The Clown rip off. The role is usually given to the worst wrestler on the roster, a fat, charisma deficient load. The worst part of an already awful idea is that they are given a Doink mask of horrible quality instead of simply painting their face like the original did. In every instance the matches are awful, the fans hate it, and yet the promoters will keep doing it.

Tabletop Games

  • Inversion : In the Legend of the Five Rings universe, the whole of the Scorpion Clan (one of the 7 major factions) wear masks of one sort of the other. It doesn't give them any kind of power whatsoever, though. In fact, all it does is make them look shifty. Which is the whole point, as the basis for the Clan is that they are good guys pretending to be bad guys to ferret out the bad guys within the ranks of the other good guys. Or are they?' Of course, only they know that, all the other Clans think they're just Manipulative Bastards being really obvious about it. Obviously, it's all Gambit Roulettes from that point on.

Video Games

  • Johnny Sasaki (who wears a mask, of course) spends most of the Metal Gear Solid series as a diarrhea-plagued Butt Monkey who can't go 5 seconds without making a fool of himself. Once that mask comes off in the later part of the 4th game, however, he evolves into a Badass of such magnitude that one can't help but wonder if that mask was some kind of Power Limiter.
  • The narcissistic Vega of Street Fighter wears a mask to protect his face. Considering how easily it's broken in his loss images, his face must be made of solid steel to hold up that well.
    • The coolness value of El Fuerte's mask is often undone by his goofy expressions and hamminess. The coolness of it can really only be appreciated in his Asskicking Pose at the start of the fight.
  • Before the director of GEAR Fighter Dendoh went on to direct Gundam SEED, he was already referencing that franchises masked characters with a masked mentor (Vega) and masked rival (Altair).

Web Animation

  • Strong Bad, of the website Homestar Runner, who has a Mexican masked wrestler's mask for a face. He's more a wannabe supervillain than anything.
    • When he finally takes it off, it's apparently very painful.
  • Joachim in Shadow Hearts: Covenant actually actively parodies this with his Grand Papillion identity—in which he wears a large butterfly mask, but rather than magnifying his powers, it magnifies his tendency towards over-the-top posing and silly heroic pronouncements.
  • Every member of the Chess Pieces in MÄR wears a unique mask. In fact, masks are quite telling of a Chess Piece's power, as the lowest ranked Mooks, "pawns" are only allowed identical masks, the same as every other pawn. If a Chess Piece has a unique mask, you're dealing with something a bit more worrisome.
    • Their rank is also identified by their earrings, which ARE chess pieces.
    • Once they get to the earring stage it doesn't have to be an earring though (at least one has it as a tongue stud). They still have the masks of pawns, they can just choose how to wear it or customize it.
  • Blood Boy from Survival of the Fittest both uses and subverts the trope. Due to hideous facial disfigurations (and REMOVING the skin of his face in one of the game's first posts) he almost always wears a smiley face mask, and was until recently the biggest killer on the island, and is still the most psychotic and sadistic. While lacking physical strength, his surprising agility and knowledge of the body's weak points make him a very capable hand to hand combatant, and his sharp mind makes him even more dangerous. However, this ability doesn't actually come from the mask itself, and he can't see nearly as well with it on. This hinders his combat abilities and actually makes him a worse shot than normal, which inspires his normal gunfighting style of just trying to put as much lead in the air as possible because it means he can really only hope to hit someone at greater than point blank range by firing an insane number of bullets.
  • Utterly subverted in Adventurers!!.
  • Shows up many, many times in The Fall (and even on the cover of the DVD!).

Web Original

  • In The Gamers Alliance, General Leopold covers half of his face with a cool mask. The Totenkopfs are fond of masks which look like skulls.

Western Animation

  • Hexadecimal, in ReBoot. While she is still at the higher end of the power scale, her mask is actually a Power Limiter. When it comes off she overloads and nearly explodes before Bob puts it back on.