Note: Used to be Eye Contact Magic. Definition changed! Please see comments. -Carla.
Laconic: If they can't see you, they can't hex you.
A quick search of this site will let you know that eyes are the windows to the soul
. Well, sometimes in a Fantasy
setting, these windows not only let outsiders see inside, they can also be wide open and allow power or information in or out.
Basically, certain magic requires
the caster to make eye contact with the object of the spell in order to work properly.
This is because spells that produce significant effects on thoughts, individuality and/or physicality of people or objects (like Mind Control
, Mind Reading
, Evil Eyes
) can involve a massive amount of power that must be applied in a very controlled manner. As luck would have it, the optic nerve is pretty much a direct pathway to the brain, so these spells can be better focused and more effectively received through the eyes. This means, some magic is more powerful if you're looking directly at your target; in fact, some magic might not work at all
if you're not looking at your target. (This is taken to its logical extreme with Eye Beams
Because of this line-of-sight requirement, the object of the spell can usually avoid it by hiding behind a conveniently-available large object, covering him/herself with something, or simply not looking back at the caster. Blind characters will sometimes be immune to this, depending on the nature of the spell (for example, the power of a Gorgon or Basilisk requires the victim to see the attacker, so blind people will be immune). Following the same idea, indirect eye contact is usually considered safe; that is, these spells generally don't work via reflection.
where this trope comes in, when someone successfully avoids getting hit with eye contact magic by avoiding eye contact, or when it's specifically stated a certain characteristic of the recipient can render this type of magic useless on him, regardless of how directly or intensely the caster is looking at them.
Anime and Manga
Film - Live Action
- In Bleach, Kaname Tousen, being blind, is immune to Aizen's Perfect Hypnosis, and when this is brought up, reveals he's been working for Aizen the whole time.
- Code Geass is a subversion. Many Geass, each with different abilities, work through eye contact, but it doesn't need to be direct-- for example, at one point Lelouch uses dozens of small mirrors to catch a glimpse of his target's eyes. Also Jeremiah Gottwald's own geass allows him to cancel other geass effects within a certain range and will reverse any geass effect used on him, independent of eye contact.
- In Darker Than Black's second season, one Contractor, August 7, is a Reality Warper who can pretty much do anything so long as he's looking at you. He's not very competent though, and is defeated in about 5 minutes or less after the Anti-Hero just throws his Badass Longcoat over August's head and electrocutes him.
- In Saint Seiya, Perseus Algol exhibits a similar petrification power to the mythical Medusa-- not through his own eyes, but through the image of Medusa in his shield. This power could affect his victims through cloth or blindfolds, because it acted directly on the retina. The recipient could protect themselves with Dragon cloth's shield, however, and it doesn't work on the blind either.
- An inversion: Kel Mitchell's character in Mystery Men claims he can turn invisible, but only if no one can see him, a power most of the others think he's imagined until he uses it to get past a magical automated turret.
- In Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Percy, Grover and Annabeth encounter the actual Medusa from Greek Myth. Percy uses an iPod Touch to glimpse ahead before turning corners because reflection is the only safe way to see Medusa without getting Petrified.
Live Action TV
- In the Anita Blake series, vampires' mind magic works better with eye contact. One rather important thing Anita found out early was that this scales with a vampire's power: a young vampire can't get her with or without, but with master vampire, it took her from "I'm not even trying here" to Mind Rape in nothing flat. A good chunk of the introduction to the series is Anita describing herself trying to look tough while at the same time avoiding the vampires' eyes, so as to keep out of their magical control.
- Artemis Fowl has the fairy 'Mesmer' ability, which - with direct eye-contact - allows the fairy to hypnotize and control a person. Reflective lenses such as shades will block it (and, on one memorable occasion, mirror-surfaced contact-lenses are used to covertly block a Mesmer), but it CAN be conveyed across video-link, albeit at a significant power-loss. (Strong-willed people can shrug off Mesmer if it's by video. With direct eye-contact, the best you can hope for is to resist violently enough to die rather than carry out the commands of your fairy master).
- In The Dresden Files, when a wizard looks directly into someone else's eyes, they can see the essence of that person's soul. This ability is called a "soulgaze." Unfortunately, this is an automatic effect, once it's activated it can't be stopped, and since it's eye-to-eye it's very much reciprocal, so the other person sees into the wizard's soul as well. Harry himself spends most of the series avoiding direct eye contact with people, unless he has a good reason for it.
- Some of the spells in the Harry Potter series are like this. For example, in Book 1, the main villain put a spell on Harry's broom during a Quidditch game, to make him fall off. Hermione stops the spell by creating a fire, which startles him into breaking eye contact with Harry.
- In The Chamber Of Secrets the basilisk can kill someone just by looking at them in the eye - fortunately the only people we see who have encountered it manage to not quite look it in the eye: they see it in a reflection, or through a camera lens, or in a mirror, so it doesn't quite kill them.
- There is also Legilimency, the ability to extract emotions and memories from a person's mind, which usually works via eye-to-eye contact. Dumbledore, Snape and Voldemort are expert Legilimens, and scattered through the series (even before we knew what Legilimency was) we can find instances where Harry felt they could "read his mind." Almost a "missed" example, but once or twice Harry does look away from their gaze; initially the reader would just assume he felt uncomfortable under scrutiny-- now we know better.
- Shamer abilities in the Shamer Chronicles series of books.
- Played with in The Wheel of Time series: Magic is done by weaving together tendrils of power into complex forms. It's been directly stated that if you can't see the object you're working magic on, you can't put a "weave" (spell) on it. However, there have been cases of people using magic in considerable, though perhaps not complete, darkness.
Mythology and Religion
- Inverted in Doctor Who with the Weeping Angels, which are only dangerous if you don't look at them. A later Retcon plays it straight, though, and they can also kill you if you look them straight in the eye.
- In the Perseus myth, Perseus looked at the Gorgon through a mirror so he didn't get killed by looking directly at it.
- Standard for most Dungeons & Dragons monsters with "gaze weapons", such as the basilisk, vampire, catoblepas, floating eye, medusa and spirit naga.
- In Gargoyles' "City of Stone", Demona casts a spell that specifically affects only people who have seen it; Hudson quickly notes that the spell does not work on the blind.