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Okay, everyone, from the top! One! Singular sensation!

"Attack, faceless minions! Take him down!"
Pseudo Kuno, Ranma ½

The Faceless also come in bulk, as demonstrated by this subset of Evil Minions whose defining characteristic — apart from being evil, of course — is the lack of individual identity. They will wear matching uniforms and helmets or masks that completely obscure their facial features. Sometimes, the (perpetually scowling) lower portion of their faces may be visible, but their eyes will pretty much always be hidden, like under the brim of a helmet, behind Scary Shiny Glasses or malevolent looking masks (especially Gas Masks or Rage Helms), or beneath an opaque visor. Note that a balaclava or Ninja mask covers everything except the eyes, but goons wearing them still count. Note that a unique face as a symbol of identity means that You All Look Familiar allows for unmasked but identical mooks to be effectively Faceless.

You'll never see any faceless goon Pet the Dog, but you will see them kick plenty of them.

The reasons for this trope are largely matters of convenience. Most obviously, the faceless goon does not display emotion; hence, he does not display humanity. It's much easier to accept characters as evil (and by extension, feel no tug of sympathy as wave after wave of them get wiped out by the heroes) if you are able to forget that there's actually a human being behind each mask. Not showing any pesky emotions to undercut their menace also adds quite a bit to the creepiness factor.

There's also the fact that it's easier on a show's budget, as the director can keep reusing the same ten extras without the audience catching on quickly. It's also helpful in animation, because you only need to design one character (or render one model in the case of video games) and one action figure. Plus, it makes it more convenient for the hero should he ever need to hide amongst the goons...

If even hurting Faceless Goons seems a bit extreme, you'll get Mecha-Mooks instead who are beaten till they show broken gears and sparks. This can also serve as a justification for why the Big Bad has so many identical soldiers running around.

A variant of this trope often occurs in Superhero comics, with the various common criminals the hero can fight as a way to bring some action into the story. They are not given backgrounds or individual personalities beyond those of petty thugs, and are typically found robbing banks, mugging defenseless citizens, and committing other crimes that the hero must stop. Not very bright, the criminals frequently try to fight the hero, even though the hero has super powers and/or special training. Of course, they never stand a chance.

What's interesting to note is that in Real Life the Faceless Goons do have upsides; if someone is behind a mask or hood or even mirrored sunglasses they often no longer feel responsible for their own actions and obey commands (especially very cruel ones) more readily than if they were just in plain clothes. Possibly a case of Truth in Television. This can, however, backfire pretty badly. Human beings have a natural, instinctual aversion to killing people. Looking a man in the eye and then killing him is a very hard thing to do. Covering a person's face, subconsciously supressing our recognition of them as human, makes killing them a lot easier on our willpower. This may be why heroes never have trouble hitting the Faceless Goons, yet the Faceless Goons can't hit the hero not wearing a mask.

These characters are usually Mooks. It's not completely unknown for the good guys' Redshirt Army to get this treatment, but nowhere near as common.

Not to be confused with Faceless Masses, Faceless Eye or The Blank.

Examples of Faceless Goons include:

Anime and Manga

  • Both the expandability and incompetence of the Faceless Goons are heavily subverted in Black Lagoon where Balalaika's Russian ex-military mercenaries are easily the most deadly force on the show and the murder of two of them lead to a city-wide manhunt.
  • The Mariages of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS Sound Stage X are not only The Undead with Mecha-Mook like intelligence, they also wear masks that obscure their eyes. Needless to say, their life expectancy is pretty low.
  • In MÄR, Pawns, the lowest-ranking members of the Chess Pieces, all wear identical masks. Higher-ranking Chess Pieces are allowed to wear distinctive earrings and custom masks, at which point this turns into Mask Power.
  • Reversed in the third volume of Appleseed, where the ESWAT team operates in suits of Powered Armor that are nearly identical (only helmet markings and such tell them apart), making them Faceless Heroes for a while.
  • In Gundam Wing, the goons of the evil OZ organisation, the Leo mobile suits, are quite literally faceless, and are also very, very pathetic.
  • Similarly, in Mobile Suit Gundam 00, the Tieren pilots from the Human Reform League wear face-concealing helmets. In their case, the helmet is connected to the mobile suit's computer, allowing the H.U.D. to be incorporated into the helmet.
  • Massive subversion in Gundam Unicorn, where a faceless, nameless grunt manages to give a Cyber-Newtype piloted Kshatriya a run for its money. His buddies got shot down in about two seconds each, but this guy sure as hell wasn't going down without a fight.
    • Subverted again in episode 4, where another nameless grunt piloting an outdated Byalant kicks supreme amounts of ass up and down the battlefield.
  • Naruto is an odd example in that it has had true Faceless Mooks exactly twice, during the Sand/Sound invasion of Konoha with most of the Sound and Sand village nin and the Samurai in the Land of Iron (although the latter were good guys sort of). However it otherwise is an aversion of the "all identical" part as damn near every individual enemy has their own distinct designs and most of them even have names (although they're sometimes only given in the databooks). The members of the ANBU are the closest thing to a good guy version, and even then they have different patterns of their masks and recognizable features not covered by their masks.
  • Every marine in One Piece. Sometimes they even look the same. To Luffy, they may even be Goddamned Bats. Also, almost every member from the Franky House in One Piece. They all have a face, some screentime and sometimes even a line to say but in the end they're just useless.
  • The Big Bad from Bleach has a force called the Exequias (meaning funeral rites). It consists of a large number of so-called Arrancar with identical masks, swords and clothing. Technically speaking, they're not really arrancar: The Exequias consists solely of the captain, Rubodon. All the others are called Calaveras, they are creations produced by Rubodons ability.
  • For the most part ignored in Ranma ½, but there are a few instances where it appears. The most obvious is the group known to the fans as "The Hentai Horde", the group of male club members, most notably the Kendo club, who tried to beat Akane in a fight each morning at school in order to be able to call themselves her boyfriend. The other is an anime-only episode where the Villain of the Week practices Martial Arts Shogi... and consequently has a squad of mooks wearing Kuroko (Kabuki Theatre Stagehand) uniforms... which are then topped with shogi piece costumes during the actual battle. Another anime-only Filler episode has Genma apparently stumble into a lost village filled with veritable clones of Nerima cast members, the Kuno clone commanding a squad of ninjas and who orders them to attack the man-turned-panda with the opening quote.
    • Kodachi's Rhythmic Gymnastic Team, Mariko's cheerleading team, Mikado and Azusa have a group that they use for practice, Phoenix soldiers, principal has the teachers be this wearing costumes, etc. they are somewhat common.
  • Both of the Mendo siblings in Urusei Yatsura have their own personal army of Faceless Goons. Shuutaro Mendo has minions who vaguely resemble "G-Men" or bodyguards, while his sister Ryoko is attended by Kuroko.
  • Inverted in Samurai Gun as it's the good guys wear face-concealing helmets, as they're rebels against the Shogunate.
  • In Code Geass, much of the law rank britannian foot soldiers wear complete face concealing masks, with one of the main characters actually starting out as one. Later on When Lelouch becomes The Emperor, he brainwash's an entire army into being his slaves, and makes them all wear masks. He also uses them for for We Have Reserves tactics.
  • In Darker Than Black, the minions of PANDORA dress like riot-police, with face obscuring helmets. They are shown as jerks on one occasion, threatening Kirihara, and tend to get unceremoniously killed by Contractors.
  • Prefectural Earth Defense Force: The Phone Pole Team had its Mooks wearing plain white full-face masks with "underling" written on them. English-speaking fans quickly dubbed them the "Faceless Minions", which has subsequently been used in some translations.
  • The Disith soldiers in Last Exile are always seen wearing face masks...right up to the point where the heroes encounter them in a sympathetic moment (the escape shuttle carrying a lot of civilians fails at launch). Soon after, the two sides start working together against their greater enemy, The Guild.
  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind features plenty of masked Torumekian soldiers, as well as the legions of Heedra in the manga. Subverted in the manga, at least, in that we sometimes see individual Torumekian soldiers without their masks. Then, of course, there are the Gas Masks required for anyone travelling in the Toxic Jungle, but that's another matter.

Comic Books

  • Marvel Comics have Hydra, whose members all wear identical green masked outfits. The motto of the group is "Cut off a limb and two more will take its place", referencing the monster that is their namesake and lampshading the fact that these guys aren't individuals.
    • Other Marvel villain groups, A.I.M. and the Secret Empire, take this a step further — they are not only masked, but identify themselves only by numbers instead of names (except for Karl).
  • The Immortals from 300. In real life, however, they were called "Immortals" simply because the reserves standing by to replace any who fell kept the number of the unit at precisely 10,000 men. Contemporary pictures of them from frescoes, etc, [1] depict them wearing open-faced caps.[2]
  • The Nort soldiers in Rogue Trooper wear face-concealing masks, in contrast to the clear visors of the Southers.
  • In All Fall Down, the Order of Despots has a small army of them on their moon base.


  • The Stormtroopers from the Star Wars series.
  • The Umbrella operatives from Resident Evil: Apocalypse (the Ops from the games wore hazmat gear for protection; the goons in the second movie wear black motorcycle helmets for no real reason at all).
  • The Huns in Disney's Mulan, specifically in the scene where thousands of them stampede down a snowbank to attack the good guys. Aside from the evil Shan Yu and a few of his sketchy malicious pals, all his minions qualify as Faceless Goons.
  • The Mooks in Ultraviolet. Astute readers may notice a pattern developing, in that Milla Jovovich evidently hates people in face-obscuring motorcycle helmets.
  • The Grand Court guardsmen dressed in shiny black armor in the movie Judge Dredd.
    • Interesting in the Comic, Dredd himself is a faceless goon (as he never takes off his helmet and loyal agent of the Judge System).
  • The Tetragrammaton foot soldiers in Equilibrium are another example of the motorcycle helmet-wearing type, though in this case it's Christian Bale and not Milla Jovovich that does the hating. Since Equilibrium came out before Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Ultraviolet, it's entirely possible that Bale was the one who got Jovovich started on the trope.
    • Same writer-director for Equilibrium and Ultraviolet. Thank you Kurt Wimmer.
    • If you listen to the commentaries, they explain that they did that on purpose, because if you shoot a helmet-wearing bad guy, you simply have to show shattered glass flying off, as opposed to blood when the foe is without helmet. That way they prevented an higher-age rating because of the bloodless carnage.
      • Which doesn't make sense when you realize that the movie is rated "R," and depicts someone's face being sliced off!
  • The soldiers of the evil Wizard Blackwolf in Ralph Bakshi's animated film Wizards. Yes, you saw it right, they work for a wizard and they wear World War I gas masks.
  • The Soviet/South Yemeni/North Korean/any other communist nationality enemy pilots from Top Gun.
  • In the audio commentary on the Lord of the Rings films, Peter Jackson and company mention that they made the human allies of Sauron, the Haradrim, into Faceless Goons in ninja-wrap-turbans to de-emphasise their humanity, something they didn't have to do with the slavering, monstrous Orcs that make up the usual mookdom. They also subverted this in the extended edition, when Faramir looks at the body of a fallen Haradrim (with his young, handsome face exposed) and comments on what circumstances would have led him from his home and family to die violently in a foreign country. In the book, this was an internal musing by Sam.
    • Although, ironically, in the book the dead guy's laying face-down.
    • Saruman's Uruk-Hai also fit the trope with their identical, face-concealing helmets. In their case the point was probably the intimidation factor of several thousand identical goons, along with saving some time for the special effects people, as they didn't have to craft unique masks for every actor.
  • Used in the film of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Every member of the Telmarine army wears a completely face-concealing mask - each with an identical face engraved on it.
  • Police cars fall victim to this trope disturbingly often, even in films where the police are not portrayed particularly negatively. Supposed "good guys" frequently have no problem smashing up ten or twenty in a high-speed chase. How many policemen do you think were killed or injured in the chase scenes in The Blues Brothers, which were played for laughs?
  • The obscure Nixon-parody film Hail (AKA Hail To The Chief) subverts this in a sequence where members of the President's new paramilitary force attack a camp of peaceful protesters; the attackers' faces are fully masked, but when one of them witnesses a camp-resident doing an impromptu Jesus impression on top of a sunken car, he pauses, lifts his hinged mask, stares for a moment more, then calmly shoots the resident.
  • In Sergei Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky, the common soldiers of The Teutonic Knights all wear identical face-masking Stahlhelms.
  • The Neo-Vipers from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
    • Taken to the next level, really, in the respect of this trope being to dehumanize them so the audience doesn't feel bad for them. There is a scene where the Vipers are seen unmasked... And the entire point of the scene is to show that they're completely mind-wiped with no chance of recovery, barely human anymore, really.
  • In Batman Begins, the League of Shadows' McNinjas obscure their faces, though they also ditch the masks when they infiltrate normal society. The masks actually become a plot point during Bruce Wayne and Ducard's duel: both don masks and hide among a throng of similarly-masked mooks.
    • Then The Dark Knight opens with a bunch of bank robbers in clown masks, working for the Joker. Over the course of the robbery, they all kill each other, and the last one standing pulls off his mask to reveal that he is the Joker.
    • Then there's the wonderfully twisted scene at the end, where Batman figures out, not one second too early, that the guys in clown masks with guns duct-taped to their hands are Joker's hostages, and the unmasked guys in doctors' scrubs are Joker's goons.
    • And then there's the fact that Scarecrow's only weapons are a fear-inducing toxin and a scary, face-concealing mask... Masks are a big theme of both films.
  • Escape to Athena (1979). The V2 missile launching crew have all black uniforms with silver reflecting facemasks. It doesn't resemble any WWII uniform, but makes them look suitably spooky.
  • The unnamed troopers of Dr. Calico in the Show Within a Show in Bolt. Their lack of personality is lampshaded at least once.
  • Very noticeable in Final Fantasy the Spirits Within, where four of the soldiers accompanying Aki don't wear face-concealing helmets. Guess which ones survive and stay on her side.
  • The Coachman's minions from Pinocchio whom resemble giant hairy creatures with executioner's hoods and glowing yellow eyes.
  • The red-neon-armored bad guys from Tron.
    • And again in Tron: Legacy. Turns out that most/all of Clu's soldiers are reprogrammed ordinary programs. Including Rinzler, who is a reprogrammed Tron.
  • The main characters in Hunter Prey until their suits can adapt their bodies to the atmosphere.
  • The Warrior's Way: The faces of the many ninjas are never seen. Most of the bandits wear bandannas over their faces as well.
  • Inverted in Captain America (1990 film), where it's The Cavalry that arrive at the very end of the film to rescue the President who wear face-concealing masks and all-black uniforms. The Red Skull's mooks are all attractive, fashionably-dressed people.
  • King Hyperion's soldiers in The Immortals. In the film, it is stated that they hide their faces as a sign of equality, while Theseus says that they do it because they are cowards.


  • The majority of the Chaos cults in Gaunt's Ghosts wear masks or visors of some kind, and the most prominent enemy force, the Blood Pact, wear huge grotesque steel facemasks.
  • The Social Police in Blade of Tyshalle wear reflective face-concealing masks and speak through voice-altering devices. Their utter anonymity is actually an important thematic element.
  • While the Star Wars movie prequels play this trope completely straight with the Republic's Clone Troopers — who are on the heroes' side, oddly enough (until the end, that is) — the Republic Commando series of novels by Karen Traviss (based on the Video Game of the same name) completely subvert this by Lampshading the troopers as living, breathing people that the so-called heroes are monstrously using as disposable cannon fodder. Only a relative few of the good guys ever realize this and come to appreciate these slaves as human beings who have gotten an infernally raw deal in life.
    • The novel The Death Star (no, really, it exists) focuses on some of the faceless mooks 'seen' in the movie. For example, the commander of the troops that Han Solo, screaming, barged in on, is a main character in the novel. Due to a nudge from the good side of the Force, he lets Han and crew escape by intentionally leading his men the wrong way. It also focuses a lot on people who have no choice to be part of the Imperial death machine (and yes, it mentions that pesky thermal vent port).
    • The novel "The Cestus Deception" effectively makes one trooper in particular one of the lead characters. Apparently Obi-Wan and several other Jedi and Senators have been striving to get the troopers seen as human beings.
  • Defied by Vimes in Night Watch when there is danger of rioting at his Watch station.

  Vimes: And then you and Waddy go and stand guard outside, where you can be seen. You're friendly-looking local lads. Take your bells, but, and I want to make this very clear, no swords, right? ... What do you want 'em to see? Now what I want them to see is Fatty Colon, decent lad, not too bright, I knew 'is dad, an' there's ol' Waddy, he drinks in my pub. 'cos if they just see a couple of men in uniform with swords you'll be in trouble."

    • While not exactly goons normally (they became goonish in Thief of Time) the Auditors of Reality are literally faceless, and so devoid of identity that if they show any signs of having one they pop out of existence.
  • Death Eaters in the Harry Potter books wear masks, although to be more kid-friendly all but the worst are stunned/disarmed instead of being killed. These also turned out to be useful for concealing their identities after they lost the first Wizarding War.

Live-Action TV

  • Doctor Who, of course, employed plenty. Some of the most typical were the War-Lord's goons (presumably of his race) in the last Troughton serial The War Games. Mask obscuring most of the face, vaguely Nazi-like, near-100% fatality rate, almost no kills - doesn't get more Faceless Goons than that.
    • In Tennant's final episode the billionaire antagonist had an army of goons at his disposal, all wearing face-concealing black visors. When The Master had assimilated the entire human race into copies of himself he failed to notice the one faceless guard who was a few inches too tall (who wasn't assimilated because he wasn't human).
    • Any alien race made up of Rubber Forehead Aliens will, due to budget, employ Faceless Goons. Examples include the Sontarans, the newer Silurians, the Judoon and the Sycorax.
  • Most Federation soldiers in Blakes Seven, although there's a deliberate subversion in one episode when a trooper removes his helmet.
  • Lannister uniforms in Game of Thrones include helmets with somewhat impractical folding visors that cover the wearer's face. Seen here. This is in marked contrast to the books, where there is no standard uniform for any of the factions beyond a garment bearing some version of your Lord's insignia.
    • Greyjoy soldiers also cover their faces with wraps underneath their enormous Wehrmacht cast-off helmets.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Both shows drew from the same small pool of stuntmen (and women), so all the baddies usually had something face-concealing or at least partly-face-obscuring on when they were beaten into the mat by the heroes.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, the Wraith Soldiers all look the same. Ironically, most commanding Wraiths (Those have a face) are played by the same actor, but they still give them some genuine facial features that differ.
  • Peacekeeper commandos in Farscape. So expendable and useless, existing only to be gunned down in waves and make the crew look badass.
    • Similarly the Charrids. Having established that Scarrans are pretty much Immune to Bullets it was necessary to have them ally with a race that did not share this vulnerability, thus allowing shoot outs to continue.
  • In UFO the mystery of the alien invaders (their name and true nature are never revealed) is enhanced by having them always wear spacesuits, with helmets filled with green fluid. Episodes where we're supposed to feel empathy for an individual alien ("Survival", "A Question of Priorities") feature a lot more close-ups.
  • Battlestar Galactica Reimagined. Cylon Centurions. Played initially for laughs in the new series when Baltar is trying to preach to one of these chrome domes, and you can't tell if the Centurion is paying attention or just wondering what this crazy human is babbling on about. Later on,it ends up protecting Baltar with its own body when a warhead hits the ship. The series often implies that these voiceless death dealers have a rich internal life once they've been released from the lobotomization imposed upon them by the skinjobs, but we never exactly learn how they view their situation.
    • In the original series, the Cylons were originally envisioned as armor-wearing Reptilians, before they were decided to be a race of robotic warriors. Both versions came encased in faceless armor with an iconic, inhuman warbling red eye.
  • A rather blatant example in Babylon 5. Almost none of the foot soldiers of prominent races wear any kind of face-covering gear . Then on an occasion an alien invasion force assaults Babylon 5 and their soldiers are all Faceless Mooks. Coincidentially this race is regarded solely as arbitary conquerors and is never mentioned again after their attack is repelled.
    • The Shadows are not merely faceless, they are invisible.
  • In Legend of the Seeker, the Dragon Corps are pretty much the show's stormtroopers. Concealing helmet-clad, mean, supposedly deadly but easily dispatched by the heroes.
  • The Putty Patrol in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
    • And the Tenga Warriors, and the Cogs, and the...
      • As well as similar goons in most Toku.
  • The Chigs in Space: Above and Beyond all wear armor that liquefies them into a green ooze if it's removed.


Tabletop Games

  • Most troops in Warhammer 40000 are either alien monsters or wear full-face helmets, but most squad leaders, special characters, and superior officers are modeled bare-headed, to make them stand out more. Yes, men in suits of Powered Armor the size of tanks are running around with their heads completely exposed. Good thing 40k snipers haven't learned to hit the weak point For Massive Damage.
    • They can smell their enemies that way.
    • Lampshaded in Traitor General where one of the Chaos Marines gets killed by irate natives giving him a literal face full of poisoned crossbow bolts.
    • Oddly, the ultimate expendable mooks of the Orks and Imperial Guard don't have full face helmets or gas masks (well, except certain Guard forces like the Death Korps of Krieg anyway). Guard have entirely visible faces, and Orks (whose willingness to wear any protective gear below mega amour is basically limited to heavily-studded black leather) don't even wear hats, let alone helmets.
      • Unless those Orks are Blood Axes who love Cool Hats.
  • The Faceless Army in Super Munchkin.

Video Games

  • The Genome soldiers from Metal Gear Solid. For that matter, most of the non-boss enemies throughout all of the games.
    • Cheerfully subverted in MGS4 when Snake encounters Johnny, aka Akiba. Akiba wears a balaclava and sunglasses for the first half of the game, and is distinctly less capable than literally everyone else. At the end of Act 3, he takes off the balaclava, transforming him from Faceless Goon to Badass Normal (then again, right at that time the hijacking of SOP incapacitated everyone but him, as was the case at the end of Act 1, and late in Act 5 he reveals that he never had SOP and thus hadn't become dependent on it).
    • The mercenary armies often wear normal uniforms with ballistic vests and helmets, but Ocelots personal troops are a power armory wearing Amazon Brigade of Elite Mooks, who are never seen without their fully covering helmets. And they are damn scary.
  • With the exception of their high ranking officers, most of the Helghast soldiers in Killzone wear a helmet, oxygen mask and goggles that give them eerie glowing orange eyes, squad leaders omit the helmet in place of an officer's Cool Hat, recon troops just omit the helmet completely, elite soldiers wear just the goggles, and heavy assault troops wear Powered Armor that conceals the face entirely, the background info handwaves this by explaining that their planet's atmosphere has mutated their lungs (among other things) to the point that they can no longer breathe oxygen.
  • The various Combine Overwatch Soldiers in Half Life 2, and the gas mask wearing marines in the original Half Life, though in the latter case, only one of the various soldier models actually had their faces obscured.
  • Several of the gangs in the game Manhunt wear masks that range from a simple nylon over the head to hellaciously creepy smiley faces covered in blood. The only gang that doesn't wear any still hides their features with camouflage facepaint.
  • Most of the members of the violent "Burners" gang from Urban Chaos: Riot Response wear painted hockey masks, though unlike most Faceless Goons, they get pretty emotional when screaming profane threats at the Player Character.
  • The Nod soldiers in Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun and more egregiously in Command and Conquer: Renegade.
    • In Tiberium Wars, a great amount of mooks on both sides are wearing some form face concealment; the only exceptions are the GDI Sniper, Nod Fanatics, and Nod Commando.
  • In the Super Robot Wars series, both the various Mooks and the Redshirt Army wear helmets or headgear which obscure their eyes. Taken to extreme levels with the Martian Successors, which have neither but still obscure their eyes thanks to... huh... their eyebrows' shadow?
  • The ski-masked mercenaries in the employ of Horne and Vlad from the Max Payne series certainly fit the pattern.
    • Played with in Max Payne 2; the Mooks pose as "cleaners", complete with jumpsuits. Making them mooks who pretend to be people who are socially invisible. Later on, they add leather jackets, ski masks, and bulletproof vests and occasionally pretend to be NYC cops. Despite all of the Cleaners using the same models, they are given a surprising amount of character if the Player Character overhears them, including discussion of TV shows, complete with spoilering each other. On one occasion, the Player Character hears music upon entering an apartment. It turns out to be one of the mooks playing the piano, with another one standing there, watching him. This is made slightly eerie by the fact that the mooks intend to kill pretty much everyone in the apartment building.
  • The imperial army in Drakengard. The last shred of their possible individuality is taken away by them all speaking in a Creepy Monotone, courtesy of mass mind control.
  • The Replica Soldiers in First Encounter Assault Recon all wear helmets with masking visors or night-vision goggles. Not that it would matter, as they're all clones of their psychic commander. Also, the ATC security guards wear matching caps and sunglasses.
    • Project Origin gives a possible explanation as to why the Replica all wear face-concealing masks. Being clones, they all look alike, but the unmasked ones that appear in a late-game level are horribly disfigured and deformed, with twisted mouths, shrunken ears, colorless eyes, etc. In addition, their voices are deep, growling, and nearly incomprehensible.
    • Armacham's security/mercenary troops play around with this. In the first game, the security guards wear caps and shades but their faces are otherwise visible (and in the expansions, their troops in riot gear wear full-face helmets). In Project Origin the unarmored Black Ops units wear balaclavas, while the Black Ops assault troops wear helmets and goggles that cover more of their faces, but the elite troops have full-face masks. By F.3.A.R. the entire Armacham force policing Fairport wears balaclavas, even their helicopter pilots.
  • Some of the enemy soldiers in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare wear balaclavas or gas masks, especially the Russian fascist Ultranationalists, even when they don't need them. Maybe Russians just like gas masks.
    • Similarly, many German soldiers in Call of Duty 2 wear either dark glasses or dark glasses and a facemask, even though they almost never need them.
    • Somewhat justified. In North Africa, sunglasses can come in very handy against the sun. In Russia, facemasks help to protect themselves against the extreme cold, something the Russians are more used to.
    • In Modern Warfare 2, Ghost wears a balaclava and sunglasses. Russian soldiers also often are wearing face masks as do the members of Shepherd's personal hit squad, the Shadow Company. Some of the Army Rangers and Taskforce-141 soldiers (the good guys) also cover their faces with balaclavas (such as the ranger on the cover).
    • In Modern Warfare 3, however, most of the Russian regular military and Makarov's goons tend to have exposed faces and wear berets or helmets, excepting the commandos that Makarov sends after Soap, Price, and Yuri in India and most of the "dock workers" in the London mission wear gas masks. For good reason, as they're transporting chemical weapons. At the end of the game, Price and Yuri put on Juggernaut armor, turning them into the faceless killers.
  • Army of Two inverts this; a good number of the enemy soldiers or terrorists have visible faces, while the heroes are the ones wearing the scary, implacable skull masks.
  • The majority of the Mantel forces in Haze — including the main character, who only gets a unique model once he joins the Promise Hand. This is well in line with the game's themes.
  • In the Fire Emblem series any character that wears a helmet and doesn't have a name (generic titles such as "Man, Soldier, etc." do not count) will not have eyes.
    • Except for the Bandits, who have really ugly faces instead.
    • Bosses are unmasked, but tend to be ugly. unless they join you afterwards.
      • The only Fire Emblem game that didn't use this trope was the Fire Emblem Thracia 777. They generally used the same three faces to represent the common mook.
  • Happens a lot in Final Fantasy:
    • Imperial Soldiers in Final Fantasy VI are faceless goons, and in fact are often used for Star Wars references.
    • SHINRA goons in Final Fantasy VII also have full helmets. The see-the-chin variant is used for every member of SOLDIER except the important ones (such as Zack and Sephiroth).
    • Final Fantasy VIII makes it a point to have all the Galbadian, Dollet, and Esthar soldiers wear masks or helmets. Two are actually named, recurring characters.
    • The Archadian soldiers in Final Fantasy XII all wear full armor and face-concealing helmets. The Judge Magisters wear a similar getup, but each has a distinctive, but still concealing helmet.
    • Cocoonian soldiers serve this function in Final Fantasy XIII.
    • Played with in Final Fantasy X 2. The Leblanc Syndicate seems to have an endless number of these, only differentiated by gender-specific uniforms. They're literally called "Goon" or some variant thereof. Goon, She-Goon, Mr. Goon, Ms. Goon, etc. It becomes a plot point later on when the heroines steal a set of uniforms from some female Faceless Goons and wear them to sneak into Chateau Leblanc.
  • The City of Heroes universe has the soldiers of Arachnos. As an interesting subversion you can actually make one yourself if you get a villain to level 50. (The page image was of an Arachnos soldier.)
    • Funnily enough, the Arachnos Mook character models are about as likely to be unmasked as otherwise, but as you get further up the chain of command the masks get bigger.
  • Assassin's Creed notably averts this; nearly everyone except a few Crusader knights and your own Assassin allies has a visible face, and the lack of a particular character's face being visible is a minor but important plot point late in the game.
  • The The Very Definitely Final Dungeon of zOMG is filled with NeXuS LabTechs in scuba gear. Only LabTech 123 (A.K.A. Frank, who you met at the start of the game) has a visible face. Ironically, the original LabTech NPCs were some of the most fleshed out characters on Gaia in their day, before they went to one of Gambino's Halloween parties...
  • Subverted in Iji - the enemy grunts are mostly identical, but a couple of them are given names, and the protagonist comes across journals, letters and diaries written by them. The player's decision to kill or spare one non-descript soldier in Sector 3 affects her girlfriend's diary entries and the plot later.
  • Ace Combat plays with this in the form of named aces; most of the time it's merely a bonus, as they're separate from the regular Mook enemy fighters and more elite squadrons, but they rarely had relevance beyond just being a high-point-value enemy pilot. Zero and 6 would add the Assault Records, which hold a profile for each and every named ace that you (or your wingman) shoots down, but Zero stands out in that every enemy ace squadron (instead of one in 04 and 6 each) has its own unique paint job, set of fighters and supposedly fighting style, while each enemy ace pilot has a name, individual callsign, profile, and an eventual fate. (In fact, one pilot's circumstances will depend on the extent to which you've spared or destroyed neutral targets.) Also, a few of these pilots are interviewed about you in the cutscenes.
  • The enemy soldiers in Sega's tactical RPG Valkyria Chronicles all wear what appears to be some kind of medieval style frog-lip helmet that looks to be near impossible to breathe in, much less look down the sights of a gun. And they don't stop bullets either. Even when an Imperial engineer becomes the topic of a Villain Episode, the Imps still remain Faceless with little personality.
  • Also in Tales of Symphonia, all of the Big Bad's sub-sub-subrelated army Desians are covered from the nose up, and a load of other mooks, Half-Elves or humans or living pairs of pants, whatever, they're all armoured up and whatnot.
  • The Sith troopers in Knights of the Old Republic wear inordinately shiny suits of armor. This is used to the player's advantage in order to gain access to Taris' Lower city early in the game.
  • Krimzon Guard in Jak II wear masks that hide most of their faces, although you can still see tattoos in a couple of places. Of the three no-mask Guard, two are rebels/rebel sympathizers, and the last is Baron Praxis's Dragon.
  • Mother 3 plays this straight with the Pigmask Army, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: they wear grotesque piglike masks of varying colors, even complete with grating squeals. Subverted, however, when Lucas and co meet a soldier without his mask in one of the Magypsy's homes, for a rather emotional effect.
  • The three major gangs that Cole encounters during the course of events in In Famous - the Dustmen, the Reapers, and the First Sons, wear trashbag masks, skull masks, and gas masks, respectively. Most other helpful NPCs are named and (sort of) unique.
  • Played with in a heartbreaking manner in Deus Ex. During his visit to Paris, J.C. meets a French couple who are complaining about the martial law and the MJ12 presence. The distraught woman then starts crying, saying that their son joined the MJ12. She gives a description of her son and begs J.C. to spare him but then pauses and says "But they all look the same in those uniforms".
  • BlackWatch from Prototype wear gas masks and night vision goggles in order to make them look like inhuman killers. The Marines wear slightly less inhuman-looking balaclavas.
  • Imp-type enemies in Okami, which more accurately resemble monkeys, cover their faces with paper slips, with a kanji drawn on them as identification. Later on, as Amaterasu infiltrates their stronghold, she puts on the impenetrable disguise of... a sheet of paper with whatever the player wants to draw on it.
  • For some reason, almost every single Russian soldier in Battlefield: Bad Company 2's singleplayer campaign wears either a mask and goggles or a black balaclava, completely obscuring their faces. The only exceptions are the officers, who wear only a bright red beret, and some of the Elite Mooks near the end of the game. Strangely, though, the South American militiamen don't seem to follow the same rule.
  • Inverted in Halo, in which the player character is a Super Soldier with a face-covering visor, which the Redshirt Army lacks. As for the Covenant soldiers, well, they all look identical anyway.
  • Omnipresent in Splinter Cell games, but special notice has to be given for one level of Conviction, where you play a character with features covered by goggles and a scarf. This sets up a Tomato Surprise when it turns out that you are controlling Vic Coste and the squad leader you are rescuing is usual protagonist Sam.
  • Mostly averted with Pokémon, where the faces of the various Grunts are clearly visible at all times...except for Pokémon Colosseum's Cipher Peons (even Ceiling Peon), who wear visored helmets at all times as part of their uniforms. That said, if you can see the face of a member of Cipher, rest assured they're at least Admin rank.
    • Grunts, however, have only two different possible sprites (one for each gender), and only higher ranked villains have a unique apparence.
  • The majority of mercenaries you fight in Mass Effect are wearing helmets. Only a few will have visible faces.
    • Cerberus Commandos, in Mass Effect 3. They basically look like Stormtroopers, if their armor was more futuristic and realistic looking. There's also a good reason for them to be faceless; it hides the Reaper implants Cerberus gave them.
  • Because they need helmets to survive in the Schwarzwelt, everyone in the Strike Team in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, whether they have names or not, winds up a faceless goon. Even you. This is thanks to the Demonica's head-concealing helmet, which doesn't even have eye-sockets — its "eyes" are actually optical sensors that project an image inside the helmet. Only plot-important characters ever raise the helmet's faceplate to let the player see their faces.
    • While the Strike Team is majorly heroic, the nameless, black-clad and villainous Jack Squad members also wear their faceplates down, making them more apt representatives of the trope.
    • Ironically, the Doppelganger demon looks just like you, and doesn't wear a helmet because it doesn't need one. The "Demonica-N," "Demonica-C," and "Demonica-L" demons, on the other hand, are meant to reflect what Strike Team humans look like, so they get helmets to complete the illusion.
  • In Crysis 2, all C.E.L.L. troopers wear a repurposed flight helmet with breathing apparatus, which completely covers their face. This makes them completely indistinguishable, and saves on having to model several different faces for them, in contrast to the North Korean soldiers in the first game.
  • Both the EDF and the Marauder soldiers in Red Faction: Guerrilla are those, using helmets and leather masks respectively.
  • The Crimson Lance soldiers from Borderlands fit this role throughout the game. The only subversions are Athena and Roland.
  • The reserve operatives in the Rainbow Six series.

Web Comics

  • In Holiday Wars Chick Soldiers serve as the faceless goons of The Easter Bunny.
  • Lampshaded beautifully in this strip of VG Cats.
  • In Harkovast, The Nameless are a good example of this trope, being an army of warriors who lack not just names but also cannot speak and always have their faces covered by helmets. They are so anonymous that they are the only creatures in Harkovast who cannot be identified with a real world animal.
  • In Order of the Stick, Tarquin's troops in all three of his empires and his original one are faceless goons.

Web Original

  • In Madness Combat, the Mooks are literally faceless as they lack any facial features most of the time. The main character Hank remained faceless up until the third movie in the series, where he began getting bandages and whatnot to make him more distinctive.
  • SCP Foundation has Class D personnel — the resident red shirts — wearing headgear that obscures the top half of their face explicitly to avoid humanization, and thus, the possibility of having regular staff becoming friends with Class D staff.
    • Just to make sure you really don't feel for 'em, D-class personnel aren't technically even employees — they're criminals who've either been sentenced to life, or were on death row[1]. The appeal of being D-class appears to be that you won't be cooped up for long; even if you survive the crazy-dangerous testing for which the position was created, you get terminated at the end of the month, quickly and painlessly.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Abridged series (found on Youtube) in the episode where Aang is captured for the first time by Zuko, he is taken away by two guards. In the next scene he is in Zuko's cabin and states, "Did you really think faceless guards number one and two could hold me?"

Western Animation

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles used the Foot, who were turned into Mecha-Mooks for the original cartoon. This might explain why they made such crappy ninjas.
  • G.I. Joe - The Cobra soldiers wear combination faceplates/helmets that only reveal their eyes. By contrast, there were rare appearances by non-main-character Joe soldiers, who wore non-concealing kevlar helmets.
    • In one episode, the GI Joes attack an unknown COBRA base which turns out to be a "recreational facility" (On the south pole...), and we see a bunch of COBRA mooks in a swimming pool - they are all wearing identical blue swimming trunks and their standard issue helmets.
    • Not to mention how the series averts this; Cobra Commander and Destro, the most prominent villains on the show, were both perpetually masked.
      • The comics were heavily into showcasing random and not-so-random Cobra bad guys, they literally remove their face obscuring helmets. Heck, a faceless goon literally kills many G.I.Joe soldiers. Literally.
    • The SKAR Troopers in GI Joe Extreme had grey, skull-like mask in the first season, and faceplates similar to the one used by the Cobra soldiers in the second season.
  • Fire Nation foot soldiers in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Though this is expressed only by minority firebender soldiers, who sport white, skeleton-like masks for intimidation. Also possibly justified by the fact that firebending probably involves a lot of ashes, grit, burning debris, and other stuff you don't really want to get on your face.
    • The masks also have the side effect of giving them a Darth Vader style echoing voice.
    • Of course that's only when they're outside their homeland where they're friendly public guards.
    • Also, somewhat most of the Dai Li. Though in some scenes their whole face can be seen, most of the time their faces are hidden under their hat.
    • The equalists in The Legend of Korra also wear concealing masks, which makes sense considering they're a terrorist organisation recruiting from the general population. Like the Dai Li they avoid being faceless masses to mow down, functioning more as Elite Mooks.
  • In the Disney animated feature Atlantis the villain's loyal mooks for some reason wore gas masks throughout the entire film. This may been one of Mike Mignola's contributions to the character designs.
  • Kim Possible subverts the trope; Drakken's masked goons are a rare example of faceless Punch Clock Villains.
  • The same goes for The Monarch's goons in The Venture Brothers, the lone exception being the two recurring ones who've been seen out of their costumes, thus "humanizing" them to the point they really can't be killed. But note that everyone around them still does...
    • Lampshaded with a 50' shade by the two Genre Savvy henchmen 21 and 24, when they're sent on a mission with the new guy in episode 36. They constantly talk about how he's going to die, while they'll get away scott free.

 Henchman 21: You still don't get it. 24 and I have been on, like, a thousand missions. We've been shot at, dipped in acid...

Henchman 24: Brock Samson hit me with a car. Drove right into my kidney. Here I am!

Henchman 21: Yeah, we can walk across this floor and nothing would hit us. But then like this huge log would swing down and take your head off.

Henchman 24: Hey, here; what's your name?

Henchman 1: Henchman number 1.

Henchman 24: See, you are nameless.

Henchman 1: I'm Scott Hall, my name is Scott Hall. Okay?

Henchman 24: No, won't help.

Henchman 21: Yeah, now it's just pathos. So you're dying in my lap and I'm all "Scott! Scott don't you quit on us! Don't you dare!!"

Henchman 24: You just made your unavoidable death more pathetic.

Henchman 21: (pause) Fuck it. (begins walking across a laser tripwired floor) Nothing's gonna happen to me.

  • Played straight for most of The Incredibles, then played with in one scene: Dash punches one mook's mask off, then pauses upon seeing his face (or maybe he paused because he saw the hovercraft was flying towards a cliff). This pause gives the mook time to punch Dash off the hovercraft, after which he dies in a fiery explosion about a half second later.
  • Subverted in the original MTV animated Aeon Flux shorts, which would rapidly flip from showing the heroine gunning down the minions... to tragic sequences showing the suffering of those very same dying minions after the heroine has left. Typically they'd unmask at the start of these sequences, or the normally opaque eyelets in their masks would be transparent to show their feelings. In a later episode, the hero would be killed by a minion... who then unmasks, becomes the new hero, guns down minions, gets killed by a minion who becomes the new hero... etc.
  • In a rare heroic example, the Redshirt Army in the science-fiction series Shadow Raiders all wear masks. The In-Universe explanation is that the masks serve as both combat armor and environmental gear. The actual explanation is that animating faces costs a lot of money. The bad guy army are all Mecha-Mooks with identical faces.
  • The Teen Titans often battle these, used among others by Dr. Chang, Brother Blood - initially, and the Brotherhood of Evil.
    • Occasionally masked police or security guards show up to act as Red Shirts.
  • Another "Heroic" example comes from Generator Rex with the Providence grunts. Even more rare, several of them are shown without their masks, with personalities, backstories, and individual motives. Which makes it even worse that they are still considered to be expendable. Then again, Providence considers just about everyone expendable.
  • Endemic in Iron Man: Armored Adventures. As well as A.I.M., the Mandarin's Tong all wear Highly-Visible Ninja outfits and the Maggia (apart from Elite Mooks like Killer Shrike) wear identical suits and blank white masks.
  • Transformers Prime has the Vehicons, who's only distinguishing facial feature is their V-shaped visor. They come in car and jet flavors. The only difference between the variants is type of kibble.

Real Life

  • The United States Secret Service wears those big reflective sunglasses for two reasons. The first is to obscure where they're looking and thus make it harder to hide from them. The second is because it makes it look like they're emotionless and have no eyes, and that's scary.
    • Police riot-control uniforms and tactics are explicitly designed to be as intimidating as possible. Of course, they're trying to scare as many people away as possible before any conflict starts.
  • The Ku Klux Klan, although this backfired in a famous 1998 case when a Klan group that tried to march in New York City received legal permission to do so as long as they marched without their faces covered.
  • As mentioned in the 300 example, the Persian Immortals, though it's debatable whether this quality is just a tale invented later.
    • Most historical accounts lists the Immortals as outfited with scale armor (small plates held together in a manner similar to scales) a short spear, wicker shield and a cloth cap. Some accounts state that the cap had cloth flaps that could cover the face, although whether this was for intimidation or to protect against sand is unknown.
  • Anonymous does this with Guy Fawkes masks whenever there's an organized protest...
    • Really makes sense in protesting against Scientology, because it makes identification harder, so Scientology's Fair Game policy won't work (although there are some cases that does).
  • Counter Terrorist and SWAT uniforms also follow this (body armour, helmet and gasmask (sometimes with the lenses mirrored) for practicality and intimidation. The practicality comes from their use of tear gas and flashbangs, the intimidation is, well..imagine several well-trained killers dressed head to toe in black body armour, wielding automatic weapons and you can't see their faces or eye due to that inhuman looking gasmask (they usually also wear a balaclava under the helmet, because identification may lead to threats against them or their family). Scariest thing on earth.
  • Fencing and kendo masks invoke this trope, partially for practical protection, partially for the psychological factor: people instinctively hold back against one another, especially people they know, when using weapons. Hiding the face eases this discomfort, and allows them to go all out against each other.

    At least for kendo, there is reason to look into your partner's eyes, as letting your eyes wander may give away your intention; but the eyes can remain visible as long as the mask conceals familiar facial features, and swordfighters express far more with their body-language than their eyes, which traditionally are concealed behind a helmet of some sort, anyway.
  • The psychological phenomenon deindividuation explains part of why this trope might exist. When humans are placed in a group, they're more likely to do things against their moral or social beliefs because they feel anonymous. There's a chance that villains who know this purposefully use Faceless Goons - it's easier for your soldiers to commit atrocities/be bad when deindividuation is in effect.
  1. or Foundation employees who stepped so far out of line that they probably would end up sentenced to life if such shenanigans ever made it as far as court