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Animal Eye Spy
aka: Animal Eye Spies
"... now why do I crave nuts and shiny things?"

In groups big enough for me to get full coverage of the area, my swarms took turns roving over my surroundings. They couldn’t pass through closed doors, but they gave me a sense of my surroundings that my eyes couldn’t. The results were almost the inverse of what I might expect from my eyesight. There was no grasp of color, beyond what I could guess from the various clues I got from my other senses, but I had a keen sense of textures. Where my eyes would have been capable of focusing on one thing at a time, my swarm-sense gave me the ability to pull together complete mental pictures from a thousand different points of focus. I could ignore line of sight, sensing around objects, and even though my bugs’ senses translated poorly, the sum total of their awareness gave me a sense of the little things, in addition to the big picture. I could sense where the air currents were traveling and the force with which they moved, the thickness of the dust in one area versus another, and where temperatures where higher, if even by a fraction.
Skitter, Worm

This character doesn't just talk to animals and order them about; he or she can see through their eyes and experience the world through their senses. The range of this power goes from paranoia inducing to Superpower Lottery winner. On the low end, the character can see through one animal, usually a Familiar he or she is emotionally and spiritually tied to. On the high end, she can do this through more than one type of animal, or even several at once, making them close to The Omniscient. Depending on the level of control, she may only be able to go beyond seeing through their eyes and create The Swarm out of local fauna.

Typically the animals are vermin or smaller, since their "small minds" are easier to control though bigger types aren't unheard of... but the tradeoff is they're harder to control. Depending on the type of bond, having one of these living listening devices killed may cause the character to faint from the feedback.

When the host is human or a sapient animal, this becomes Seeing Through Another's Eyes.

Compare Eye Spy. Contrast Surveillance Drone.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • The witch Arachne from Soul Eater can see though the eyes of her spiders. Medusa is apparently able to do the same thing with her snakes (or anyone she's implanted with them).
  • Tanya, a Contractor in the second season of Darker Than Black has the power to summon clouds of insects and is shown to be able to use them for spying purposes. In one scene, she is able to listen and observe what's going on in another room by sending one of her bugs in there.
    • Mao gets a more in-depth version wherein he possesses the animal and can speak through it. Unfortunately, his human body got killed when he was out spying, so now he's trapped in the form of a cat.
  • A story from Rumiko Takahashi's Rumic World series called "When My Eyes Got Wings" involved an Ill Boy who could see the world through the eyes of a little bird.
  • Sei Arisaka from Himechan No Ribon can do this along with being The Beastmaster. For example, he can tell his cat to spy on somebody and be able to look through their eyes without being in direct control.
  • Ino from Naruto can use her clan's possession powers to do this.
  • Fairly standard practice for familiars in Fate/Zero. Kiritsugu is unusual in that he prefers cameras since they can't be fooled by illusions while animal familiars still can be fooled.
  • Hunterx Hunter: Flutter's Satellite Dragonflies allow him to see everything his conjured dragonflies do. This ability is later "borrowed" by Leol via Rental Pod, and Ikalgo while he's possessing his corpse

    Comic Books 
  • The Falcon, of Marvel Comics, can do this with birds, with varying strength in doing so. Considering a bird's eye view, it could be pretty useful.
  • The page image comes from the comic North 40, Luane lucked out with getting just this ability. More incredibly, she handles the godlike power with incredible humanity, enduring dozens of fainting spells to help stop the unsealing of the Sealed Evil in a Can.
  • The Flea in PS238 appears to have this power at least to some degree when it comes to insects. After being swiped by a teleporter, the other characters were able to reunite with him by talking to random cockroaches, which he described as "better than cell phones."

    Film 
  • In The Little Mermaid, Ursula uses her pet eels to spy on Ariel. Each have one magic eye that provides a video feed back to her lair.
  • According to Word of God, this was originally going to be one of Shan Yu's abilities in Mulan, but it was cut out both to save time and to avoid giving the villains too much focus.
  • The Skeksies of The Dark Crystal have bat like creatures that fly across the land and transmit visuals back to them through a piece of crystal embedded in their faces.
  • Eric Draven from The Crow has among his powers the ability to see through the eyes of the title bird.
  • Claudia uses this trick to spy on Lilli in the forest in Snow White: A Tale of Terror.
  • The Beastmaster: Dar and his animals.

    Literature 
  • In Another Faust, Victoria is given a swarm of moths and eventually... other insects that allow her to spy on people. Unfortunately for her, anyone can control them as long as they're in the right room...
  • Discworld has this as one of the most useful applications of Borrowing (possession magic). A mouse can walk through cracks, an eagle can fly high and fast, and an owl can sit on your shoulder and let you read through its eyes. The crystal ball has image quality problemsnote , an Omniscope is hard to aim, and scrying without enchanted hardware may or may not exist at allnote , so Borrowing has major advantages if the possessor is skilled enough.
    • And if they're not skilled enough, the possessor runs a severe risk of having their mind almost inseparably entangled with that of the creature they're possessing. Also, the possessor had better make sure they aren't mistaken for dead while they're off gallivanting around in some animal's body.
    • In Carpe Jugulum Count de Mapyre uses his vampiric abilities to see though the eyes of hundreds of magpies.
    • The Rat King from The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents can see through the eyes of animals. When Maurice feels its presence in his head, he closes his own eyes to hinder its attempts to locate him.
  • From Isobelle Carmody's The Legendsong Saga, Glynn discovers that is able to do this with the He-fienna while it is hurt. She also uses the link to experience occasional dreams like this with both the He- and She-fienna.
  • In The Bad Place by Dean Koontz, creepy twin sisters Violet and Verbina have this ability. They share a constant mind link with each other and the dozens of cats occupying their home. Craving wild and evocative sensation, they often drift outward to possess the bodies of hunting animals and their prey to feel both the thrill of the hunt and the pain of death. They cannot do this to humans however.
  • In Desperation by Stephen King, the body-snatching Eldritch Abomination Tak can enter and control animals, seeing through their eyes and feeling their thoughts, but only for short periods. Its presence inside living things causes them to wither and die and it has to hop from one to the other fairly quickly. It prefers humans because they last the longest.
  • In Tamora Pierce's Literature/The Immortals quartet, Daine talks to animals, sees through their eyes, and even had them sabotage an army for her.
  • E. E. “Doc” Smith's Lensman novel Gray Lensman. Kimball Kinnison makes mental contact with a spider and sees through its eyes as he uses it to turn off a Boskonian's thought-screen. He can do this with higher level animals as well.
  • In book twelve in The Wheel of Time book, "Towers of Midnight", Graendal does this to a dove in order to remotely see what her enemy Rand Al'Thor is up to.
    • In-universe, it's commonly believed that the Dark One can see through the eyes of carrion-eaters like crows and rats. This is explicitly revealed to not be the case- while the Shadow's forces can commandeer such creatures to act as spies, they have to report to a Myrddraal rather than having their own senses hijacked. Seeing through the eyes of such creatures, like Graendal does, is apparently a very advanced technique with the True Power that most of the Shadow's servants can't do.
  • In Harry Potter, Voldemort has this connection with the snake Nagini. When Harry starts having dreams where he sees what Voldemort sees, there are several where he is experiencing the scenes through the snake.
  • Wargs or skinchangers do this in A Song of Ice and Fire, mostly with wolves, but other animals are possible. With training, they can learn to actually control the animal, but this trope is the first hint that you've got the potential. All of the Stark children are potential wargs, though Sansa never learned how due to her direwolf being killed, and only Bran and Arya have shown themselves to be able to use it on anything other than their direwolves. This can also be done to humans, though they don't like it - when Varamyr tries to take over a human she gouges out her eyes and bites off her tongue in the fight for control of her body.
  • Herald Eldan in the Heralds of Valdemar books has animal telepathy as one of his abilities, which gives him a touch of this as well. Many Heralds with strong "sight" Gifts can do this with their Companions — though these are closer to guardian spirits than the horses they resemble.
  • This is essentially how Animist magic works in the book The Animist; Animists each have a familiar they are bonded to for good, and they are able to use this ability to parse which useful spirits are in the area. The Animist is also able to full-on take over their familiar's mind if they need to — the interesting twist here is that whenever they do this, their familiar has taken over their mind too a la a Body Swap. This leads to things like the protagonist unintentionally appearing to make a complete ass of himself at a fancy dinner while switching places with his female rat familiar...
  • In Malazan Book of the Fallen, Bottle the squad mage was taught how to access all of the various Warrens (schools of magic), but his most important skill is his ability to control animals in his vicinity, something he insists is not actually a form of magic. This proves instrumental in keeping his squad alive while they're crossing hostile territory, as he can spread out over a large number of creatures at the same time if all he wants is their sensory input.

    Live Action TV 
  • BOB in Twin Peaks can see what goes on in the woods through the eyes of owls, although it may be that he can transform into them. It's ambiguous.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Magic-users/wizards could do this with their familiars and homunculi.
    • There were a surprisingly large number of spells that allow to use other beings' senses, and not only the sight. Some work only on a limited group of creatures, such as the undead. Also, psionic powers.
      • By fourth edition the 'scry on familiar ability' has gone missing. Arcane users can see though the eyes of a owl familiar and several others allow you to determine line of sight from their point of view.
  • The Animalism discipline in Vampire: The Masquerade and Requiem allows kindred to do this with one animal.
  • In the DC Heroes roleplaying game, this was an available superpower called 'Eye of the Cat'.

    Web Originals 
  • The protagonist of Worm does this with insects and arthropods. It is incredibly useful, as she can do it with every insect in her range simultaneously. Within a radius of approximately two blocks, she is effectively omniscient.

    Web Comics 
  • Master Seer possesses a cat in TwoKinds to spy on the main character, but Lady Nora uses her shapeshifting powers to distract it.
    • He later possesses a horse. Its rider is suitably wielded out.

Animal Chick MagnetPet and Animal Companion TropesAngry Guard Dog
All Your Powers CombinedStock SuperpowersAnimal-Themed Superbeing
North 40ImageSource/Comic BooksPersepolis

alternative title(s): Animal Eye Spies
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