Wide eyes and shrunken irises YKTTW Discussion

Wide eyes and shrunken irises
(permanent link) added: 2009-12-22 10:28:37 sponsor: Game Chainsaw (last reply: 2009-12-22 10:48:25)

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A sign that a character is absolutely terrified is if the eyes are wide open and the irises and pupils are shrunken to minimum, or even absent. Give the impression that the character is screaming inside, even if they are silent with shock, it comes across as striking, and if done well, even as Nightmare Fuel or its high octane equivalent. Often a warning sign that the character is about to Freak Out.

Can also happen if a character is injured. Its a good way of illustrating shock.

Bonus points if the scene cuts away to a Scream Discretion Shot.

See also Open the Iris for the tropes physical opposite.

I wish I knew how to get a picture for this, it would illustrate it much better. Favour to ask from tech-savvy Higurashi fans, you know when Satoko finds Rika's corpse? When she's with Keiichi shortly after his Knight Templar Big Brother moment and thinks he's the killer? Her Freak Out there illustrated it strikingly. It would be perfect for this, but I can't get hold of a picture of it. Tried Google Images.

While peoples irises do shrink when they get a see something particularly scary at times, making this a bit of a Truth in Television, animation often takes it to extremes. The iris isn't that flexible, and it certainly won't disappear entirely. (We've got the Law of Conservation Of Energy to thank for that one, matter doesn't just disappear.)


Anime and Manga

  • Most of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni's cast do this when they're really scared, but Satoko has a habit of giving particularly haunting moments. One of these is Satoko's reaction to Keichii standing by her best friends corpse. Satoko freaks out, believing that Keichii was responsible, and while doing so, gives a picture perfect demonstration of the trope. This happens during the Question arcs I believe. Her reaction upon getting out of the river and returning to her school, only to find her friends dead, elicits this reaction from her as well, and it is also the expression her classmates are wearing. Gives a truly ghoulish impression. Keichii does it a few times as well.
  • Characters on Yu-Gi-Oh! do this all the time.
  • Happens on a regular basis in the Bleach anime, usually when one character is impressed by another characters power/abilities.
  • Inverted by Maka in Soul Eater; her pupils are invisible unless she's particularly shocked or angry. Everyone else in the series plays this straight.
  • Most Code Geass characters, resulting in some pretty disturbing faces. See GEASS/CODE GEASS - 23 - Large 25.jpg

  • A Muppet Show example of all things. In "Muppet Treasure Island," Kermit grabs hold of Miss Piggy as she starts to fall from the cliff, and ... :)
  • It occurs in Three Amigos! during the duel between Ned Nederlander and that German guy.
  • Psycho. Marion Crane's eyes, though in a Artistic License - Biology moment.
  • This happens to Jessica Rabbit in Roger Rabbit, in the only scene I can think of where you really get a good look at both her eyes ("Oh my God, it's DIIIIIIP!").
  • Flik does this in A Bug's Life.

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • An example of an injury triggering this: Kim Possible's irises shrink to nothing when she is tasered by Shego in "So The Drama".


Rolling Updates. Really have to remember to add that at the start!
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