The Darkness Gazes Back YKTTW Discussion

The Darkness Gazes Back
A character stares into darkness and finds a sinister pair of eyes staring back.
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(permanent link) added: 2011-08-10 21:58:11 sponsor: KingZeal (last reply: 2013-01-20 21:05:39)

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A common Horror Trope. A character is surrounded in darkness, aware that there's something lurking just in the shadows. They stare inquisitively into the abyss...and then a pair of eyes appears and returns the favor.

Usually, this is used for Rule of Scary, but there's many other uses. For example, a comedic effect could be that the entity shrouded in shadow could be invisible except for their eyes.

By the Lights of Their Eyes is a Sister Trope. Compare Glowing Eyes of Doom.


  • Suspiria, first murder. Eek.
  • In Iron Man, Pepper Potts and agents of SHIELD are looking for Big Bad Obidiah Stane in his darkly-lit workshop. Pepper notices a suspiciously-large shadow and cautiously stares into it, only for the Iron Monger to power up and two glowing mechanical eyes to stare back at her.
  • In the first Neverending Story, Atreyu stares into a dark corner to find his nemesis, the large wolf beast that had been stalking him the entire story, eyeing him back.
  • Played with in the Doom movie, when one of the soldiers sees a pair of eyes in the darkness. He calls out, thinking it's one of the scientists he's looking for... only to see all the other eyes of the mutated monster opening just before it springs.
  • Nightmare Before Christmas: One of the characters in the opening song "This Is Halloween" is the monster devoted to this "job".
I am the one hiding under your bed
Teeth ground sharp and eyes glowing red

  • Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone, short story "The Riddle of the Crypt". This happens twice to Irene Morrow. The first time she sees yellow eyes in the darkness it turns out to be a large owl, which attacks her. The second time it's a vampire that wants to drain her blood.
  • In H2G2.Life The Universe And Everything, Arthur Dent finds himself in a completely dark cave. He turns around several times, convinced that something may be behind him, and the third or so time he sees the compound eyes of a giant fly staring back at him.
  • Frodo keeps seeing Gollum's eyes when he's following the heroes in The Lord of the Rings.

Live-Action TV
  • The X-Files: The ending of "Detour". Luckily, Scully left the room just in time.

Western Animation
  • In a Looney Tunes Sylvester and son cartoon, Sylvester corners the mouse he's chasing into a dark room and sees a pair eyes staring back. Thinking it's the meek rodent, he charges inside to attack--only to get his ass kicked by the boxing kangaroo.
  • This scene from "The Swamp" episode of Avatar: the Last Airbender, as pictured above, when the gang realizes they're NOT alone.
  • Every season of Jackie Chan Adventures had Shendu do this to end the first part of the two-part finale.
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