Glasgow smile

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Actor Tommy Flanagan was given a Glasgow smile when he was attacked outside a bar in Scotland.
"Chelsea smile" redirects here. For the song by Bring Me the Horizon, see Suicide Season.
"Chelsea grin" redirects here. For the band, see Chelsea Grin.
For other uses, see Glasgow smile (disambiguation).

A Glasgow smile (also known as a Chelsea smile, or a Glasgow, Chelsea, or Cheshire grin) is a wound caused by making small cuts on the corners of a victim's mouth, then beating or stabbing him or her until the muscles in the face contract, causing the cuts to extend up the cheeks to the victim's ears. This leaves a scar in the shape of a smile, hence the name.[1][2][3]

The act is usually performed with a utility knife or a piece of broken glass,[4] leaving a scar which causes the victim to appear to be smiling broadly and may lead to death by exsanguination if left untreated.

The practice is said to have originated in Glasgow, Scotland,[5] but became popular with English street gangs (especially among the Chelsea Headhunters,[6] a London-based hooligan firm, where it is known as a "Chelsea grin" or "Chelsea smile").

In media[edit]

The Glasgow smile has been inflicted on characters in multiple films and television programs, including Green Street, House of Tolerance, The Krays, Sons of Anarchy, Pan's Labyrinth, and 2008's The Dark Knight, in which Heath Ledger as The Joker both has the scar and carves it on numerous victims. It was featured in season 1, episode 10 and season 2, episode 3 of Hannibal.

The main character of The Man Who Laughs (1928) who has a Glasgow smile, has been listed as one of the inspirations for Batman's nemesis The Joker.[7][8]

In the anime/manga series Fairy Tail, there is a character by the name of Racer who appears to have a Glasgow smile.

In the anime/manga series Naruto, Kakuzu, an Akatsuki member, appears to have a Glasgow smile.

Salt Lake City-based deathcore band Chelsea Grin named itself after the maneuver.

Sons of Anarchy actor Tommy Flanagan has real scars on his face in the shape of a Glasgow smile after being attacked outside a club in Scotland.

The character Skull Face from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain also bears scars resembling one.

British metalcore band Bring Me The Horizon has a song called "Chelsea Smile". It was the second single to be released from the band's second studio album, Suicide Season.

The 2012 horror film Smiley features a villain of the same name whose face has been mutilated in a variation of the Glasgow smile.

In the 2005 drama Green Street the main character almost receives a 'Chelsea grin' from several Birmingham City F.C. hooligans.

In the 1989 TV movie, The Firm, a young football hooligan receives the smile from a rival hooligan.

NBC's Hannibal features a serial killer in the episode "Buffet Froid" whose signature was carving a Glasgow smile into each of her victims.

The clan leader in the 2001 film Ichi the Killer, Kakihara, has a Glasgow smile.

Season 1 of American Horror Story uses this on Mena Suvari as Elizabeth Short in the 9th episode.

In Nip/Tuck series a serial rapist named Carver uses the Glasgow smile as a trademark to disfigure his victims. Carver is introduced in Season 2, and is the main antagonist for Season 3.

Season 2, Episode 1 of Whitechapel references the Chelsea Smile upon the DI asking about a man in a local pub who bears the scars.

The 2007 horror film Scar features a serial killer using a Glasgow smile.

The Ray Bradbury horror story The Smiling People features a man who, driven insane by his family's cheerlessness, cuts permanent smiles into their faces and mounts them like stuffed animals.

In the Netflix Series Marco Polo Season 1, Episode 5 a Glasgow grin is carved into an assassin of the hashshashin after the attempted assassination of Kublai Khan. The wound is split when he is tortured further, having been told what would happen if he was to scream.

In the 1990 film The Krays, Ronnie gave an enemy a Glasgow smile using a samurai sword during a fight at the back of their club in Bethnal Green, London.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Surgeon Says Hospitals Treat a Knife Victim Every Six Hours". The Daily Express. Retrieved 2009-11-20. 
  2. ^ Harvey, Oliver (2009-10-16). "If the Booze Doesn't Get You, The Blade Will". The Sun (London). Retrieved 2009-11-20. 
  3. ^ Arlidge, John (1995-04-24). "City Slicker Glasgow". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2009-11-20. 
  4. ^ Peter Ward Booth, Barry L. Eppley, Rainer Schmelzeisen (2003), Maxillofacial trauma and esthetic facial reconstruction, p. 555 
  5. ^ Razor gangs ruled the streets but even in the violence of pre-war years, one man stood out 13:19, 19 October 2007 By Reg McKay Daily Record Uk. Accessed online Feb 25, 2015
  6. ^ MIKE SULLIVAN, Crime Editor, and ALEX PEAKE (2011-03-26). "The end of a reign of terror | The Sun |Features". The Sun. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  7. ^ How The Joker Works
  8. ^ The Man Who Laughs: A Forgotten Masterpiece