Watching The Mandalorian’s Din Djarin taking off his mask a total of four times in two whole seasons made me think about some of the most iconic characters who wear masks and their reasons for doing so. In fiction, masks are often used to disguise secret identities. Other fictional characters use masks to cover up disfigurement, to prevent their face from getting bruised up, to strike fear into the hearts of their enemies, or just flat out to look cool. These masks sometimes become as iconic, if not more so, than the characters who wear them – even if they often look pretty uncomfortable or embarrassingly bad. In this list, I count down the 33 most iconic masked characters to ever grace fiction. Prepare to see so many masks it will feel like Halloween!
33. Rorschach from Watchmen
One of the most interesting masked characters in fiction, Rorschach’s mask is white with shifting black shapes on it, resembling a Rorschach blot test – a common means used in psychology to evaluate one’s emotional state. Of course, Rorschach – real name, Walter Kovacs – is a deeply unbalanced, mentally ill, and paranoid person. His mask also symbolizes his black-and-white view of ethics and morality that he developed as a traumatized child of a prostitute.
32. Ghostface from Scream Movies
Scream’s success can be attributed to its satirical take on some of the most influential horror films. The franchise practically challenged everything we know about horror, in a fun way. Above all, it is the iconic Ghostface mask that has entrenched itself so firmly in the public consciousness. The menacing visage, modeled after the 1893 painting The Scream, is perfectly complemented by a long black robe – a stark contrast to the white mask. The first killer to use the Ghostface mask was Billy Loomis, who did a great job tormenting Sidney Prescot and the entire population of Woodsboro.
31. Darkwing Duck from Dakwing Duck Cartoon
One of the most iconic masked cartoon characters, Darkwing Duck is a masked superhero who fights crime in the city of St. Canard. He is often assisted by his sidekick, Launchpad McQuack, and his daughter, Gosalyn. Darkwing is known for his catchphrase, “I am the terror that flaps in the night!”. He is a skilled martial artist and is always able to outsmart his enemies. He wears a mask over his eyes to keep his civilian identity, Drake Mallard, a secret.
30. Zorro from The Mask of Zorro Movie
Zorro’s look is so iconic, it’s probably one of the first names we’re picturing in our heads when we think of masked characters. El Zorro is the Mexican Batman! As Bruce Wayne, Diego de la Vega is a wealthy elite member of a wealthy land-owing gentry, who feels empathy for the poor. Batman disguises himself for protection against villains while El Zorro disguises himself from the wealthy Mexican aristocrats who oppress the poor and spy on them as an aristocrat without them knowing his intentions. In “The Mask of Zorro” movie, Diego de la Vega – portrayed by Anthony Hopkins – trained Alejandro – played by Antonio Banderas – to replace and succeed him. The new Zorro was trained to act as an aristocrat and spy on the governor of California and stop him from using the Mexicans as cheap labor and exploited as slaves. With his black sackcloth mask that covers the upper half of his face, Zorro uses the smallsword to fight against corrupt and tyrannical officials and other villains.
29. Green Hornet from Green Hornet Movie
Green Hornet is a masked vigilante who originally appeared in a 1930s radio program. His secret identity is Britt Reid, a newspaper publisher. He fights crime with the help of his sidekick, Kato, riding in their car the “Black Beauty.” Green Hornet wears a mask to conceal his identity and to protect himself from enemy attacks.
28. Boba Fett from Star Wars
One of the most popular characters in the entire Star Wars universe, Boba Fett is a ruthless bounty hunter who is famous for his customized Mandalorian armor and deadly arsenal. The mask is a part of both Boba Fett’s armor and persona, and he seems to constantly wear it when he’s on duty and to only take it off in private, not when he’s in public. Boba Fett instantly captured fans’ attention as he first appeared in The Empire Strikes Back movie, and he’s held it ever since.
27. Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs Movie
Doctor Hannibal Lecter is a murderous cannibal who is serving time for murdering and EATING at least nine victims. In his case, the mask he wears is supposed to prevent him from biting those around him. Of course, being ultra-brilliant and superb at logic as he is, that does not quite go as planned. As stated in the film, Lecter had already bitten or eaten to death many unlucky persons, exploiting moments of unguardedness. He did that sometimes even when his hands were tied, so I wouldn’t put my hopes up that such an accessory could contain him.
26. Frank from Donnie Darko Movie
Even though only a few people truly comprehend the movie Donnie Darko, it’s still one of the most memorable cult hits of the 2000s due to its atmosphere and soundtrack. One of the most iconic things about Donnie Darko is Frank, a dead man from the future dressed up in a terrifying-looking bunny outfit. The costume is a Halloween staple, and Frank’s deep, echoing voice makes it even creepier. Frank guides Donnie, a disturbed teenager, on his journey to save the universe.
25. The Lone Ranger from The Lone Ranger Movie
This iconic do-gooder is a Texas Ranger who wears a black mask to conceal his identity as he travels throughout the Old West fighting for law and order. Formerly known as John Reid, The Lone Ranger rides his horse “Silver” and fights injustice together with his trusty sidekick Tonto. The Lone Ranger was one of the first masked characters in pop culture and remains one of the most iconic to this day. His story has been adapted for television, film, and comics, and he continues to inspire generations of fans with his heroic deeds.
24. Michael Myers from Halloween
Consumed by a psychotic drive to kill, Michael Myers is pure evil. His only interest is to murder his sister Laurie on Halloween after he already murdered his other sister. Nothing is scarier than Michael’s trademark white, expressionless mask that hides the silent and emotionless man under it.
23. Blankman from Blankman Movie
Star of the parody movie, Blankman is an everyman who dons homespun garb to aspire to be a superhero. Together with his sidekick, he fights back against crime when his city’s cops go on strike. Blankman has undoubtedly influenced later masked avengers, like Frank Darbo from Super and Kick-Ass, who is also on this list.
22. Gray Fox from Metal Gear Solid Video Game
His real name is Frank Jaeger, Gray Fox’s background as a child soldier, U.S. Special Forces member, and mercenary shows the kind of warrior he was. He was Solid Snake’s friend but was forced to fight him by Big Boss. During the fight, he suffered severe injuries that required an exoskeleton. He then became a cyborg with a ninja mask, which is cool! However, Gray Fox eventually died in the series, but will always be remembered by the fans.
21. Dennis from The SpongeBob SquarePants
One of the toughest masked cartoon characters, Dennis s a ruthless bounty hunter who was hired by Plankton to stop SpongeBob and Patrick from taking Neptune’s crown back from Shell City. Or actually, as Dennis put it: “Name’s Dennis! I’ve been hired to exterminate you.“. The only thing Dennis cares about is money, and he is even willing to let SpongeBob and Patrick go for the right amount of money. He usually wears a red neckerchief that covers his mouth, which got him on this list.
20. Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Franchise
Shredder is the main antagonist in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. He is a ruthless ninja warlord who leads the Foot Clan, an organization of ninjas that Shredder uses to carry out his criminal activities. He is also the archenemy of Splinter and the Turtles. Shredder has been portrayed as an imposing figure, usually clad in armored suits that provide him with enhanced durability. He also wears The Kuro Kabuto helmet that hides and protects most of his face. Shredder is also a skilled martial artist and swordsman, making him a formidable opponent for the Turtles. He is a master of many weapons, but his signature weapon is his pair of swords. In addition to his physical prowess, Shredder is also a master strategist and tactician, able to plan complex schemes that often give him the upper hand against his enemies. Despite his numerous defeats at the hands of the Turtles, Shredder always manages to come back stronger than ever, making him one of their most dangerous and persistent foes.
19. Tali from Mass Effect Video Game
A masked video game character, Tali is like that little sister that can pull her weight but always needs some help. I mean, she’s eager to help and everything, and also good with electronics, but still needs guidance. Contrary to what you might think, Tali doesn’t wear a mask just to look cool. Due to Tali’s Quarian immune system, she wears a mask for protection against disease. However, her face is revealed if the player shows her enough affection.
18. Kendo Rappa from My Hero Academia, Anime Series
I know this isn’t an anime list, but Kendo Rappa is such a great anime-masked character that I couldn’t leave him out of this list. He is a large muscular man who has his face hidden beneath the plague mask given to him by the Shie Hassaika. Kendo is a part of the Eight Bullets Yakuza group that serves the Shie Hassaikai, led by Overhaul.
17. Stanley Ipkiss from The Mask
Stanley Ipkiss is a bank clerk who is shy and withdrawn. One day he finds an Old Norse ceremonial mask of the god Loki that makes anyone wearing it possessed by the god of mischief himself or rather gives the wearer his powers. When Stanley puts on the mask, he becomes a confident and daring individual. He uses his newfound powers to take revenge on those who have wronged him. Of course, troubles soon follow as he becomes involved with some mob people whose plans he ruined while partaking in the mask shenanigans. Now, those dangerous criminals are after him for this to get revenge. With the use of the mask and his wits, Stanley has to overcome the mafia and get away from the police who suspect he’s part of the mafia. Eventually, he learns that with great power comes great responsibility.
16. Judge Dredd
Judge Dredd is a futuristic law enforcement officer who patrols the streets of a city called Mega-City One. He is armed with a wide array of weaponry and has the power to dispense justice on the spot. His face is hidden behind a mask, which serves both to protect his identity and to make him appear more intimidating. The character of Judge Dredd was created by British comic book writer John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra. The character first appeared in the anthology comic book 2000 AD in 1977. He quickly became one of the most popular characters in the publication and has since been featured in numerous spin-off comics, novels, video games, and movies. While the character has undergone some changes over the years, his basic premise remains the same: he is a law enforcement officer who dispenses justice with an iron fist. His costume – which consists of a black bodysuit, helmet, and boots – is designed to strike fear into the hearts of criminals. And his mask ensures that he can never be identified.
15. Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th Movies
The most famous masked man on this list might just be Jason Voorhees. This man is an unstoppable killing machine, driven to slaughter anyone he encounters by a burning need to revenge for the death of his beloved mother. Throughout the decades, he has terrorized teenagers at Camp Crystal Lake, in Manhattan, and even in space. Jason’s mask became so iconic that it’s rarely even seen as a hockey mask anymore since the goaltender masks are known more for being Jason’s disguise than anything else.
14. V from V for Vendetta Movie
V for Vendetta is a movie about a vigilante who fights against an oppressive government. The hero wears a mask to conceal his identity and to strike fear into his enemies. He is a skilled fighter and uses his knowledge of the government’s secrets to destroy them from within. V is driven by revenge, after seeing his family and friends killed by the government. He hopes to inspire others to overthrow the government and create a new society based on freedom and justice.
13. Kick-Ass from Kick-Ass Movies
One of my favorite characters, Dave Lizewski is a masked vigilante who fights crime in New York City. He does it even though he has no powers or training. Dave chooses the name “Kick-Ass” and begins fighting crime, inspired by comic book superheroes. He quickly learns that it is not as easy as it looks, and getting hit by a car and stabbed with a knife are just some of the perils he faces. But he persists, and his acts of heroism gain him notoriety. He eventually meets other masked vigilantes, including Big Daddy – a former cop – and Hit-Gir, a young girl trained by Big Daddy to be an assassin. Together, they take on the criminal underworld in New York City.
12. Erik from the Phantom of the Opera
The title character from Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera, Erik was born deformed. He is a genius who wears a mask due to his facial disfigurement which has caused people to fear him. Erik lives in a secret lair underneath the Paris Opera house. Erik keeps up the pretense of being a ghost to control the Paris Opera House. However, one day he hears the voice of Christine Daaé, a young female singer, and falls in love with her. He decides to teach her to sing, without showing himself, but at one point his feelings grow to obsession and he chooses to show himself and try to make her love him back. Tragically, she rejects him, and in the end, he lets her go but dies of a broken heart.
11. Scorpion from Mortal Kombat
Scorpion is one of the most popular characters in the Mortal Kombat series and all of gaming. He is a ninja who wears a distinctive yellow and black costume, and he always has his face covered with a mask. Scorpion is known for his fierce fighting style and his ability to use fire in combat. He is also one of the few Mortal Kombat characters who has been playable in every game in the series. So why does Scorpion wear a mask? In the original Mortal Kombat game, Scorpion was killed by Sub-Zero. Sub-Zero then removed Scorpion’s mask as a trophy. However, in the next game, Scorpion was resurrected by Quan Chi and given his trademark spear. It is possible that Quan Chi also gave him a new mask to wear. In any case, it seems that Scorpion wears a mask to conceal his identity and to strike fear into his opponents.
10. The Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride Movie
In the cult classic “The Princess Bride”, The Dread Pirate Roberts is a masked pirate who terrorizes the seas and is feared by all. He is a master swordsman and has bested many opponents in battle. The Dread Pirate Roberts wears a black mask over his face to hide his identity from his victims and to strike fear into the hearts of his enemies. No one knows what The Dread Pirate Roberts looks like under his mask. This has led to speculation that he may not exist, and that he could be several different people who have taken on the persona of The Dread Pirate Roberts over the years.
9. Beta from The Walking Dead
I know, I could have chosen Alpha, but Beta is so much more identifiable, even with his mask on. The second-in-command of the Whisperers and the right-hand man of Alpha, Beta is a brutal, sociopathic man. He is wholly devoted to the Whisperer’s way of life, which is to disguise themselves with the skin of the undead to blend in with them. Before the outbreak, Beta was a country singer, known by the stage name “Half Moon”.
8. Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy
Star-Lord, AKA Peter Quill, is an intergalactic adventurer and son of Ego, the living planet. He is a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy superhero team, who work for the good of humanity despite the danger involved. Peter has no real superpower, but he has an element gun that was passed down to him. Although he is often the brains behind the Guardians’ operations, I would say that for the lack of real parental guidance, Peter is a bit immature and tends to do a lot of mistakes.
7. Ladybug from Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir
Ladybug is a masked character from the popular French animated series, Miraculous: Tales Of Ladybug & Cat Noirs. She is a student at Collège Françoise Dupont in Paris, France, and possesses the miraculous power of creation. Her civilian identity is Marinette Dupain-Cheng. Lady Bug wears a mask to protect her secret identity as a superhero. In the show, she often uses her powers to help others, usually by using her “Lucky Charm” power to create whatever object she needs to solve the problem at hand. While Lady Bug is kind and courageous, she can also be quite clumsy and tends to make mistakes – which is part of what makes her so relatable and lovable to fans of the show. Whether she’s facing down villains or just trying to navigate everyday life, Lady Bug is always willing to help those in need – making her one of the most inspiring and heroic characters on television today.
6. Shy Guy from Mario Bros. Video Game
Shy Guy has been around for ages and has been seen in many Mario games, but also in other franchises. This little fellow has been seen in tons of Nintendo games like 2 Yoshi’s Island, Super Mario Maker, Paper Mario, and even the Legend of Zelda! Shy Guy is a common enemy in the Mario franchise, but also in The Yoshi world. While Shy Guy always seems like a villain in the Mario games, he can also sometimes appear as a friendly character in many of the spin-offs. He is recognized by the white mask he wears due to his shyness.
5. Immortan Joe from Mad Max: Fury Road
The main antagonist in the 2015 film Mad Max: Fury Road, Immortan Joe is the tyrannical ruler of The Citadel, a post-apocalyptic city located in the middle of a vast desert wasteland. He is a ruthless dictator who will stop at nothing to maintain his power and control over The Citadel. Immortan Joe leads a group of men mutated by radiation, called the War Boys. He wears a mask that covers his face and has breathing apparatus attached to it. According to George Miller, the director, it served two purposes: It is a therapeutic mask to get filtered air, and it is also part of his dominant hierarchy; he needed to look fierce and intimidating as the big boss. The teeth helped with that. I wonder which poor animal it supposedly came from. Since it’s the desert I’m going to assume it is a donkey, or maybe a camel!
4. The Predator from Predator Movies
Ah, The Predator! One of 1987 best movies! – also called the Yautja – Predators are an alien race who hunt those who they deem worthy of “the hunt”. In their hunt, Predators use a combination of highly advanced technology, such as active camouflage and laser weapons, along with comparatively primitive weapons, such as various blades and nets. As part of their basic equipment, the Predators wear Bio-masks that allow them to breathe more easily in Earth’s atmosphere. The masks also greatly increase the Predators’ ability to see in a variety of spectrums. However, once the Predators get to their main trophy, they strip themselves of their more advanced weaponry to even their trophy’s odds out of honor for surviving for so long.
3. Darth Vader from Star Wars
Darth Vader’s mask is probably the most iconic in fiction history. It is not a “mask” but a breathing and sensory assistance instrument covering his entire head. It also hides Vader’s hideous skin damage from the fire that consumed him after his battle with Obi-Wan on Mustafar. However, no mask could hide the inner decay, as we all got to see at the end of the original trilogy.
2. Batman from DC Comics
Batman’s mask is referred to as a cowl. It serves many practical purposes at the same time. Since Bruce Wayne is a public figure, and a celebrity of sorts, the mask helps him, to hide his identity. The ears on the mask have enhanced hearing and radio. It also aids him in looking like a human bat. And finally, it offers some protection for his head and neck. However, there is another reason I can think of for him to wear the mask and that is that Batman can go on forever because Batman is about the mission and anyone willing to take on that mission can be Batman as the idea of Batman is that it is a symbol and anyone can be that symbol.
1. Spider-man from Marvel Comics
Could anything be more iconic than Spidey’s mask? Underneath it, Spider-Man is Peter Parker, a teenager who at a science demonstration got bitten by a radioactive spider. Peter quickly learned that the bite had given him superpowers. He could leap 30 feet in the air! Crush a steel pipe in one hand! He could stick to walls! And he had this weird “spider-sense” that warned him of any incoming danger! Peter uses those powers to try and make New York, and sometimes the world, a better place. He doesn’t seek out fame and reward. He doesn’t use his abilities to make himself rich. He’s one of us. He’s just a geeky dude with incredible power. Yep, Spidey is the best!