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The Best Face Reveals In TV History

There's nothing quite like a character in a mask. When a television show introduces a new character but hides their face from the audience, it's a sure-fire recipe for some spicy drama. As the episodes keep rolling by, you can't help but obsess about what's going on under there. What's their age? Their gender? Are they even human? Or could they secretly be someone that we know already? Something about their face must be important, or else the show wouldn't keep hiding it, right?

Sure, this technique doesn't always pay off. Sometimes the character face remains a mystery forever, and other times the reveal ends up being somewhat underwhelming, but those aren't the instances we're talking about today. Today, we're talking about the times that the shows absolutely nailed it. Those iconic scenes when a mysterious character's face is finally revealed, and it's legitimately mind-blowing.

We could go on, but we won't keep you in suspense any longer. Let's unmask our choices.

Din Djarin in The Mandalorian

One of the most immediately obvious things that sets "The Mandalorian" apart from most other live-action TV shows is the relative scarcity of human faces in it. Sure, there are some bare-faced folks in the supporting cast, but our two leads are an alien puppet that doesn't speak and a mostly silent hero who never removes his helmet. That is until the first season finale, titled "Chapter 8: Redemption."

Our hero, Din Djarin, is a member of a highly orthodox branch of Mandalorians called the Children of the Watch. One of the rules of this order is that its members are never permitted to show their faces to any other living being. And throughout the first season, Din abides by this rule at all times, so much so that not even the audience gets a chance to see his face. However, during a climactic battle with the forces of the evil Moff Gideon, Din is gravely injured and finds himself in dire need of medical attention. His droid companion, IG-11, leans in to remove Din's helmet so that he can better administer treatment. But Din draws his blaster and points it at the droid, saying, "Try it, and I'll kill you. It is forbidden. No living thing has seen me without my helmet since I swore the creed. IG-11 replies, "I am not a living thing," and removes it anyway.

Then, for the first time in the series, audiences got a chance to look into the big sad puppy dog eyes of actor Pedro Pascal. At that moment, the Mandalorian became a little less mysterious and a little more human — a trend that would continue into the show's 2nd season.

The Blue Spirit in Avatar: The Last Airbender

Throughout most of the run of "Avatar: The Last Airbender," Aang the Avatar is being hunted by a disgraced Fire Nation prince named Zuko, who wishes to capture the Avatar in order to restore his honor. However, in Season 1, Episode 13, a different servant of the Fire Nation beats Zuko to it when Aang is captured by the forces of Admiral Zhao and locked up in the sovereign state's military base.

Aang finds himself surrounded by guards with his arms and legs in irons to prevent him from using his bending abilities. For a time, all hope seems lost. But then, a mysterious silent figure in a blue demon mask arrives on the scene. This stranger frees Aang from his bonds and helps him escape the base. However, as the two are on the verge of escaping into the woods, Aang's rescuer is struck in the face by an arrow. His mask takes most of the blow, but he is knocked unconscious.

Aang carries the stranger away, and once the two of them are safe, Aang unmasks him, revealing the face of Prince Zuko. Aang waits alongside the unconscious prince, hoping to talk with him when he wakes up, but as soon as Zuko regains his facilities, he attacks Aang, forcing the Avatar to flee once again. The prince never gives Aang an explanation for why he rescued him, but this moment ends up being the first sign that there's much more going on with Zuko than Aang initially believed.

Janet Tyler in the Twilight Zone episode Eye of the Beholder

"The Twilight Zone" is a show that's famous for ending its stories with a memorable twist, and perhaps no twist is more memorable than the one that comes at the climax of the episode "Eye of the Beholder."

Our protagonist is a woman named Janet Tyler. She lies in a hospital bed, her face concealed by bandages. Various doctors and nurses are hanging around as well, but their faces are always off-screen or concealed in shadow. The doctors say that Janet is disfigured, and although she has undergone a series of treatments in order to correct her appearance, thus far, the treatments have been unsuccessful. Additionally, Janet's now reached the maximum number of times she's allowed to attempt the procedure by law, meaning that it doesn't work this time, she won't be allowed to try again, and she'll have to live with her appearance for the rest of her life.

At the episode's climax, when Janet's bandages are finally removed, she looks totally fine. However, the doctors are horrified, disappointed that there's still been no change. Their faces are now also finally revealed for the first time, and we see large nostrils, sunken eyes, and a variety of swollen, drooping, or asymmetrical features. Sure, maybe the metaphor seems a bit obvious or heavy-handed, but "Eye of the Beholder" is still an all-time classic episode of television. Even knowing the twist ahead of time, we dare to give it a watch and not let out a bit of a gasp when that reveal hits.

L in Death Note

"Death Note" tells the story of a supernatural serial killer named Light Yagami and the various law enforcement officials that try — and usually fail — to catch him. The only person who ends up being a true equal to Light is a mysterious independent detective who goes by the pseudonym "L." And even though L is widely regarded as the greatest detective in the world, no one knows his true name, and no one has ever seen his face.

For a time, L only works with Japanese law enforcement remotely, communicating over voice chat. But eventually, the police begin to distrust L and consider cutting ties with him completely. So, as a show of good faith, L finally shows his face in Season 1, Episode 6, "Unraveling." He reluctantly agrees to meet with the team of officers assigned to the serial killer case in person in a hotel room. When the officers enter the room and see L, the camera slowly pans up L's body, revealing a skinny teenager. His posture is terrible, he has bags under his eyes, his hair is long and unkempt, and his clothes are way too big for him. Needless to say, this is not what any of them imagined the world's greatest detective would look like.

Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones

One of the most enduring versions of the surprise unmasking trope is the version that also comes with a surprise gender reveal, and the best execution of this version of the trope in recent memory was in the "Game of Thrones" episode "What Is Dead May Never Die." In this episode, Catelyn Stark journeys to the camp of Renly Baratheon, seeking to make an alliance with the young lord. However, she arrives in the middle of a tournament when Renly is watching a battle between two figures in armor. The first is Ser Loras Tyrell, one of the most skilled knights in Westeros and Renly's brother-in-law. The second is a character we've never seen before — a towering stranger in copper armor.

Despite being completely unknown to the crowd and not even a knight, this strapping newcomer defeats Loras swiftly and definitively. After kneeling before the Lord Renly, the stranger then removes their helmet, revealing the face of a woman. She is Brienne of Tarth, a lady who is of noble birth and twice the warrior of any man she's ever met, but because of her gender, she is not allowed to become a knight. Nonetheless, because of her impressive display of martial prowess, Renly agrees to break with tradition and accept Brienne into his Kingsguard. It's one hell of a character introduction, and from here, Brienne of Tarth goes on to become one of the most compelling characters in the entire series.

Garnet in Steven Universe

Early on in "Steven Universe," the character of Garnet is shrouded in mystery. Unlike the more talkative Amethyst and Pearl, Garnet is aloof and laconic. She sometimes goes off on missions by herself without the rest of the Crystal Gems, and most intriguing of all, the top half of her face is always concealed by an enormous visor.

Finally, in the episode "Arcade Mania," the show drops its first big clue about who and what Garnet really is. In that episode, Steven takes the Gems out for a relaxing afternoon trip to the local arcade and tries to teach them how to play video games. After playing a particularly captivating arcade game, Garnet seems to fall into some sort of unbreakable trance. Steven tries everything to snap her out of it until finally, he climbs up on top of her and pulls off her visor. Now seeing the entirety of Garnet's face for the first time, he sees that she has a third eye in the middle of her forehead.

When Steven finally breaks Garnet out of the trance, she quickly shuts the eye and again covers it up with her visor. But for fans who were interested in piecing together the mystery of Garnet, this was their first major clue. It isn't until the end of the 1st season in the episode "Jailbreak" that we get the full story of what it is that makes Garnet different from the rest of the team.

The Unnamed Manager in Squid Game

There are several times throughout the series "Squid Game" when mysterious characters are unmasked and secret identities are revealed. But strangely enough, the most emotionally impactful unmasking in the series occurs not with a major character but with someone who doesn't even get a name. In the episode "The Man With the Umbrella," players have to cleanly cut a small shape out of a larger piece of Dalgona, a Korean honeycomb candy. If they break the shape while doing so, they will be executed by one of the many armed guards standing around the room. Toward the end of the game, one of the players, Player 119, breaks the shape he's trying to cut. He is about to be executed by a nearby guard when at the last moment, he steals the guard's gun.

As a dozen or so armed guards close in around him, Player 119 forces one of the high-ranking employees in square masks — the ones known as "managers" — to unmask himself. And when this manager takes off his mask, he reveals the face of an ordinary young man. This reveal finally solidifies to the participants that whatever is going on with this game isn't supernatural or fantastical. These guards aren't aliens or robots — these are just humans, engaging in an all-too-human form of evil.

Player 119 comments, "You're so young. How did you end up like this?" before turning the gun on himself. Moments later, the mysterious Front Man arrives on the scene and, without ceremony, shoots the unmasked manager in the head. He then tells his assembled masked employees, "Remember. Once they find out who you are, you're dead."

Hemorrhage in Rick and Morty

In Season 3, Episode 2 of "Rick and Morty" — an episode called "Rickmancing the Stone" — Rick, Morty, and Summer find themselves in dire need of a vacation. Using Rick's portal gun, the trio ends up in a post-apocalyptic version of Earth, a Mad Max-esque world of murderous warlords driving around in rusty hot rods. Hoping to put off returning to Earth as long as possible, Summer ends up joining a band of warriors known as the Death Stalkers, led by a muscle-bound warrior named "Hemorrhage," whose face is concealed by a helmet shaped like a bucket.

Later, after going on a raid together, Summer and Hemorrhage have an intimate conversation in the Death Stalker's garage, during which Summer asks him if she can see his face. In his low, gravelly voice, Hemorrhage replies, "No one has seen my true face and lived," but then, he relents, removing his helmet. Summer is then shocked to find that Hemorrhage isn't at all what she expected. He isn't horribly disfigured, but he isn't roguishly handsome either. Instead, he's just kinda dorky looking, with a head that is far paler than the rest of his deeply tanned body, a bad haircut, and a terrible mustache.

This unexpected reveal ends up being one of the funniest moments of the series and completely unlike any other face reveal in TV history.

Bridget in Firefly

Early on in the episode of "Firefly" titled "Our Mrs. Reynolds," Captain Malcolm Reynolds and the rest of his crew indulge in a long night of drinking and merriment with some friendly strangers on a small planet in the middle of nowhere. The next morning, Mal discovers that because he drunkenly participated in some sort of local ritual that he didn't understand, he is now married to a woman he just met — a meek and kindhearted woman named Saffron (Christina Hendricks). However, by the end of the episode, Saffron reveals that she is actually a skilled con artist who is only tagging along with Mal and his crew so that she can rob them of everything they're worth. In the end, our heroes manage to stop Saffron's plan, leaving her behind on a snowy planet to an uncertain fate.

Five episodes later, in an episode titled "Trash," Malcolm meets up with an old war buddy named Monty. During their conversation, Monty tells Mal that he recently got married, and he can't wait to introduce Mal to his new bride, a woman named Bridget. When Bridget is finally introduced to Mal, she has an all-too-familiar face. That's right, Monty has also fallen prey to the con artist that Mal knew as Saffron, and her second appearance ends up being an even wilder ride than the first time around.

The Snail on The Masked Singer

The reality TV singing competition show "The Masked Singer" has no shortage of surprising face reveals. In fact, that's basically the entire point of the show — the contestants are all masked celebrities, with their identities hidden from the judges and the audience. Then, much like other singing-based reality shows, each contestant performs a song, and one of them is eliminated at the end of the episode. However, in the "Masked Singer," there is an additional bit of excitement at this moment because whenever a contestant is eliminated, they also get unmasked.

There've been some truly shocking reveals on the show in this past, from T-Pain to Tony Hawk to Larry the Cable Guy, but perhaps the biggest swerve that the show ever pulled was in the Season 5 premiere, when the contestant known as "The Snail" was eliminated. Speaking of their career, the Snail had said, "I've acted, directed, produced, recorded albums, even graced the Oscars stage. I've rubbed elbows with everyone from Robert De Niro to Lady Gaga to Michelle Obama." Judges were guessing people like Seth MacFarlane, Jay Leno, and Billy Crystal, but none could have been prepared for the truth.

When the little tophat on the Snail's back was finally removed, audiences were expecting to see the face of some celebrity underneath, but instead, they saw an empty void. A moment later, emerging from the hole where a head should be was none other than Kermit the Frog. In his exit interview, Kermit said, "People don't usually expect a talking frog."

The Flash in Justice League Unlimited

The threat of superheroes being unmasked by villains is a long-standing trope in superhero fiction. Generally, this idea is played pretty straight. It's assumed that if a villain ever unmasks a hero, they can learn that hero's secret identity and threaten them and their loved ones. However, there is a particularly hilarious inversion of this trope that occurs in an episode of "Justice League Unlimited" titled "The Great Brain Robbery." After the evil Lex Luthor's latest invention — a mind-reading machine — unexpectedly malfunctions, Luthor ends up swapping minds with The Flash.

After Luthor (in the Flash's body) is chased around the League's headquarters by the team, he finally manages to escape and has a moment to himself in one of the base's bathrooms. Looking at himself in the mirror in the Flash's body and wearing the Flash's superhero costume, Luthor muses to himself, "If nothing else, I can at least learn the Flash's secret identity." He then unmasks himself and looks in the mirror at Wally West's unmasked face. After a beat, he says, "I have no idea who this is."

Perfection.