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Discussion of the Hood and Hooded Figure in Popular Culture
When searching for the term hooded figure on the internet, one often runs into descriptions of assailants or suspicious persons. The hood has often been a tool for storytellers to recreate the sense that the user is hiding from the world, from authorities, or has a mysterious or sinister air that may or may not be revealed. Often even Death itself is personified as a hooded figure, its nature not truly open to us.
This is not to say that the hood isn't also used to hide heroes from unjust forces. Rangers, notably in the Lord of the Rings saga, are often depicted as donning hoods, partly to keep them shielded from the elements, but also perhaps to emphasize their secretive nature. There are many pop-cultural icons who reveal themselves by removing their hoods, although this act of doing so is usually when the hood is considered justified, as their prior, hooded selves are perhaps no less menacing than hooded threats in other stories.
Thieves, assassins, and rogues are often depicted as wearing hoods, especially in games. In Baldur's Gate, the thief-class character model is often depicted as wearing a hood, and Garrett from the Thief series is rarely seen without one. Altaïr from assassin's creed, too, is hooded, although he is not shown in dark clothing, which is usually a component of the hooded figure.
What the full term "Hooded Figure" implies, though, is often not simply a character with a hood, but someone unidentified, possibly perpetually so. The term figure suggests this, as it implies that beyond knowing the creature is in a vague, humanoid shape, you know nothing of its nature, or even if it is indeed human. The wraith or spectre is often shown with a shroud, and their intent is usually sinister or horrifying. Yet even when the figure remains unidentified, it is not necessarily hostile or malevolent. Hooded figures can also be in the style of the humble, sackclothed monk, or the weary traveler.
Regardless, the silhouette of a hooded figure is always a striking one: something human, but containing an element of the unknown.