Big Eyes Little Eyes

A well-known technique in filmmaking and animation when designing a creature is to vary the size of the creature's eyes. If you want your creature to appear cute, give it eyes that are excessively large for its body. If you want your creature to appear huge, give it relatively tiny eyes. If you want it to be both huge and cute, pay close attention.

This trope could be a result of one of the many shortcuts the human brain makes when calculating its surroundings: Because most small, (relatively) harmless animals (possibly including human babies) have large eyes compared to their heads, we are programmed to find that trait cute, while most things that are liable to eat us have small eyes, so we are programmed to run when we see them.

Alternately, it could just be that big eyes are much more expressive than little eyes, which leads to Good Eyes, Evil Eyes when used for people in animation. Puppy-Dog Eyes are a subtrope. Compare with Open the Iris.


Examples of cute critters with big eyes:

Anime and Manga

Film

Live-Action TV
  • The Muppets in Sesame Street generally have big googly eyes, to appeal to children.

Literature

Video Games
  • Pokémon: Often when Pokemon evolve into their next forms, their eyes usually become smaller or less pronounced as an indication of maturity. Examples: Bulbasaur to Ivysaur to Venasaur, Vulpix to Ninetales, Sunkern to Sunflora, etc. However, there are exceptions where Pokemon have larger eyes than their pre-evolved forms (Torchic and Blaziken come to mind). And Zubat has no eyes at all.

Webcomics

Western Animation
  • The Parasprites from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic have eyes half the size of their bodies and are utterly adorable... until they start eating and reproducing like crazy.

Real Life
  • Truth in Television: kittens, puppies, tarsiers, babies.
    • Pandas are quite large, and do in fact have small eyes. However, one of the reasons they are considered cute is probably that they have black circles around their eyes, making them look like they have bigger eyes than they do.
    • Witness what happens when you photoshop the spots out.
  • Subversion: The largest eyes in the world belong to the giant squid, which is probably among the more frightening animals in the world. This owes partly the fact that the sharp eyes of Cephalopods evolved in a complete different way to tetrapod's, just like the wings of birds and insects.
    • Double subversion: Some people consider the giant squid to be cute in its own way. It helps that in real life it comes off as a Gentle Giant.
    • The actual proportionally largest eyes in the animal kingdom belong to the Vampyroteuthis infernalis (which means "vampire squid from Hell"), their diameter is about 2.5 cm(1 inch), the Vampyroteusthis only reaches a maximum lenght of 30cm (1 ft) including the tentacles (the body only reaches 15 cm) and looks like this

Examples of huge critters with little eyes:

Film

Real Life
  • Truth in Television again: elephants, whales, big dinosaurs
  • Subversion: Moles, naked mole rats, or any other subterranean animal.

Western Animation