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"A flayed man holds no secrets."

Some people are a bit bent in the head. These people are often living incarnation of Nightmare Fuel in any case, but the best... well... if best is the word to use here... perhaps "most effective" methods of making them even Squickier than they already are is to have them skin their victims and then use the collected skin for some disgusting purpose.

The possibilities are horrific to contemplate, but include masks, clothing, lampshades, and so on.

See also Flaying Alive. Related to Skeletons in the Coat Closet, Human Resources.

Examples of Genuine Human Hide include:

Anime and Manga

  • The Akuma from D.Gray-man. They kill the human who summoned them and wear their skins.
  • Zuwa from the Kaska/Kashga clan kills humans and sews his clothes out of the collected skin. Features include black for nubian and brown for egyptian.
  • Youaltepuztli Nahualpilli from the anecdotes of Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, who did it for warmth.

Comic Books

  • There's an obscure Batman villain called Jane Doe who murders, skins her victims, and then wears their skin while assuming their identity.
    • At one point in Grant Morrison's Batman, a member of the Black Glove wears the skinned face of his victim, philanthropist John Mayhew, as a mask. It's actually Mayhew himself, wearing the face of a man who resembled him.
  • Neil Gaiman's The Sandman featured a one-issue story called "Collectors" that was about a Serial Killer convention. One of the killers who attends (he's been dubbed "Flay by Night" by the press) is a nationally famous doctor who has treated presidents and congressmen. The fact that he likes to wear "handmade leather ties" was once commented upon during one of his many talk-show appearances. He makes the ties himself, out of the skin of his victims. And he's got over a hundred of them.
  • Carrick in No Hero was shown in a chair made with human skin with faces.

Fan Fiction

  • Cupcakes: Pinkie Pie wears the cutie marks of all the ponies she tortured and killed.
  • The Galaxy Rangers Dark Fic "Raumjager" uses the real-life example of Ilse Koch. Doc is trapped in the "Nazis won" timeline, and sees an "antique lampshade" with a tatooed American flag and the words "Semper Fidelis" on it.


  • The Silence of the Lambs has Buffalo Bill (so named because he likes to "skin his humps") trying to make a "woman suit" out of the skin of his victims in a strange attempt at transformation. Hannibal Lecter also wore a policeman's faceskin in one scene.
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera has Pavi, who cuts off women's faces, keeps them fresh, and wears them over his own, attached with straps and staples.
  • Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
  • In Men in Black, the alien villain spends most of the movie wearing the skin of Edgar, a farmer he killed and skinned.
  • The Necronomicon as seen in the Evil Dead movies is bound in human skin, with the face forming the front cover.


  • The Eelfinn in the Wheel of Time series wear a lot of decorative leather. It is strongly implied that they obtain this from people who forget to negotiate the price for their services.
  • As part of the Voigt-Kampff psychological battery in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Deckard directs a subject's attention to his briefcase, then declares it to be "100% genuine babyhide" to gauge her reaction.
  • The Canim from the Codex Alera series often wear human skin. They also use it to write letters on, including supposedly-friendly diplomatic messages to humans.
  • In Cornelia Funke's Reckless, Jacob fights the Tailor, a blade-fingered monster who wears the skin of his victims.
  • House Bolton in A Song of Ice and Fire is associated with this. Their sigil is a flayed man and older lords of the Dreadfort would wear cloaks of human skin.
    • Ramsay Snow (aka the Bastard of Bolton) seems to have taken up the tradition, sending Asha Greyjoy a patch of her brother's skin and claiming to have made Mance Rayder a cloak from the skin of his six spearwife companions.
  • In Gregory Maguire's Son Of A Witch, sequel to Wicked, dragons have a penchant for peeling the skin off their victim's faces and bringing them back as trophies. As if this weren't bad enough, the Emperor has the faces stretched over frames, and plans to put them on display to intimidate a rebellious faction.
  • In Our Man in Havana the local police chief, Captain Segura, is rumored to carry a cigarette case made of human skin. It's true, though to make it slightly justifiable, the skin came from the guy who murdered his father.

Live Action TV

  • The Slitheen from Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures masquerade as humans by killing overweight humans and wearing their skins.
  • The third part of the Reaver M.O. in Firefly (the first two being raping people to death and eating their flesh, and if you're lucky it's in that order) is sewing their victims' skins to their clothing.
  • In the fifth season of Angel a demon disguises himself as a "Human Bean" for Halloween by dressing in human clothes and putting on a human "mask".
    • Don't forget the season one episode where a demon was taking human skins as disguises. But they kept failing on him and he'd leave behind a blob of human skin.
  • The Skins in Roswell.
  • The Visitors in V appear to be doing this.
  • Sherlock villain Jim Moriarty informs the person who was so inconsiderate as to phone him during his climactic showdown with Sherlock that he will have the caller skinned and made into shoes.

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40000 has Chaos and Dark Eldar, two of the more morally monstrous factions use human skin in decorations, like clothing, banners, etc. Chaos Space Marines gives us Chaos worshipper and all-around cackling madman Fabius Bile, whose labcoat is, quite infamously, made of human skin over his power armor. Dark Eldar Haemonculi, also wear labcoats of skin, though not nearly as memetically as Bile
    • Similarly the Flayed Ones of the Necrons get their names because they strip the flesh from their enemies and drape themselves in the strips.

Video Games

  • There was a mad tanner in the video game Baldur's Gate 2 who could craft an evil-only leather armor from human skin and the blood of a silver dragon (the only non-evil species of dragon encountered in the game).
  • Done in Echo Bazaar with the duelist gloves...maybe. The description is your character doubting that its REALLY human skin.
  • Sakahagi in Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne wears an outfit made from the skins of Manikins he's killed.

Western Animation

  • South Park provides one example that doesn't involve murder, but is just as unsettling. Because Randy wanted a prescription for medicinal marijuana, he contracted such an extreme case of testicular cancer that he got around by using his balls as a hippity-hop. He eventually got them removed and had a coat made from his scrotum.
  • Metalocalypse had an episode where Dethklok creates their own line of S&M styled clothes (made of leather, of course). The fashion designer hints at this trope throughout the episode with several ominous references to his "special leather", but the end of the episode has the band discovering the truth, and after all the not-so-subtle hints, the reveal is so over-the-top that it arguably Crosses the Line Twice. When the band actually find this out, rather than declaring it metal, they're so horrified that they scream continuously with Nathan pausing momentarily to fire the designer in question.

Real Life

  • The Roman emperor Valerian I was captured at the Battle of Edessa by the Persian King Shapur I. At first, Shapur merely used Valerian as a human footstool. However, when Shapur grew tired of this game, he had Valerian flayed alive, then stuffed his skin with dung and straw and had it put on display in one of the larger temples in his capital.
  • Ed Gein, a murderer and grave-robber who was eventually used as the basis for both Norman Bates, Leatherface, and Buffalo Bill, was actually more notorious for the fact that he skinned and dismembered corpses he dug up from his local cemetary and the fact that he made leather items out of those skins than he is for the two[1] actual murders he committed.
  • Ilse Koch, the wife of a Nazi concentration camp commander, had gloves and lampshades made out of inmates' skin.
  • Priests of the Aztec fertility deity Xipe Totec would completely flay sacrificial victims and dress in their skins. On the plus side, before they were killed, the victims got several days of feasting and sex before the sacrifice.
  • Heroic example: It is said that William Wallace used the skin of the Sheriff of Lanark to cover his baldric.
    • YMMV
  • One of the plastinated figures in the "Body Worlds" museum exhibit is of a peeled human body holding its own skin.
  1. Possibly three. He was suspected of murdering his brother, or at least leaving him to die in a fire, but this was never proven.