"I wonder what my body would sound likeOn the big or small screen, if someone falls over motionless with their eyes wide open, it is a sure sign that they are dead — not unconscious, not capable of being resuscitated, but dead for good. In real life the position of the eyelids means nothing; people can pass out or fall asleep with their eyes open. Additionally, dead bodies always have their eyes either closed or all the way open, with no middle ground. (Again, this stands in contrast to reality, but nobody wants a dead body making a weird face and it's hard for an actor to have half-closed eyes without flickering.) In the latter case, someone who knew the deceased will often come along and manually close the corpse's eyes for "respect" or "dignity". This is always done the same way — using the palm flat open, they pass their hand over the dead person's face, somehow closing their eyes. In old times, the friend would also put two coins over their closed eyes as well, to "pay the boatman" to take them across the river Styx into the afterlife. See Due to the Dead. The above is universally true of live-action, but anime occasionally depicts someone fainting with open eyes or dying with half-closed eyes. Open-eyed deaths in anime often have the iris/pupil area of the eye drawn as a dull grayish spot. In Western animation, death is rare, visible dead bodies even rarer, and open-eyed corpses unheard of. Except in animated Batman movies, of course. In Western comics, expect instead two large X drawn over the eyes. In many Western (not as in Cowboy movies) action films, people will often die with eyes wide open when they are killed by surprise. If they're Not Quite Dead, expect to see their eyes open. Otherwise? He's Dead, Jim. Note that — perhaps because of Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Death — frequently it rains into the eyes. That is the clinching proof of death. If a character's eyes close when they die, it's Big Sleep. If they're just asleep, see Sleeps with Both Eyes Open. As a Death Trope, several spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
Slamming against those rocks
And when it lands
Will my eyes
Be closed or open?"
Slamming against those rocks
And when it lands
Will my eyes
Be closed or open?"
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- A British PIF/PSA zoomed out of the blank lifeless eyes of a fatally injured young woman who had been run over by a driver who had stopped for a 'quick drink' before he hit her. here is the ad in question the victim was played by Denise van Outen before she became a famous presenter.
- A 1987 PSA from Partnership For a Drug Free America ends this way. A girl stares at the camera smiling while a happy piano tune plays. The music stops and a woman starts eerily singing "Happy Birthday" and the girl's face begins to deteriorate ending with her becoming a corpse with lifeless, empty eyes. And it ends with someone throwing a sheet over her face.
- This PIF from The Queensland Transport features a handsome guy and his equally beautiful girlfriend filming themselves having fun at the beach. Intercut with the footage is a announcer saying that the boyfriend's speeding caused a crash that killed his girlfriend, but left him alive. The last image is of her blood-splattered body lying on the road with her motionless eyes staring off into space.
Anime & Manga
- Anime subversion: In Rose of Versailles when Jeanne Valois is publicly branded as a criminal, she faints with her eyes wide open—a fact that creeps out many of the spectators who had come to gawk at her.
- Azumanga Daioh has one episode where Osaka dreams about pulling off Chiyo-chan's pigtails... only to have her keel over dead with her eyes wide open.
- Several characters when they die in 7 Seeds.
- The guide of Team Winter's corpse has his eyes wide open in surprise and shock when a saber-tooth tiger attacked him and another member.
- Happened to the Director, Chuu-san and the cow Mary during the Ryugu Shelter arc. At least, they had to be since their eyes have turned into bloody, mushy gushy stuff and leaked out of the eye sockets, the way the Acari X kill their hosts. The other victims are usually shown with eyes closed and Tears of Blood.
- Subverted with some deaths, like Mayu's and Hyo's during the Final Test for the Team Summer A candidates, as their deaths are more shown to be calming.
- Death Note:
- Used with Mello's death.
- Also Light's death in the manga.
- Kyuzo from Samurai 7 dies with his eyes open. Kambei takes his glove off to close them.
- Subversion: in the final arc of Ranma ½, if Akane's eyes close completely it means she has died. They do, and Ranma spends several pages cradling her body, thinking he was too late. She got better upon hearing his declaration of love.
- The Combat Cyborg Due from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S exhibited both this trope and Blood from the Mouth upon getting impaled by Zest to show that she's really dead. However, in episode 24 and 25, her eyes were closed, but in episode 26, they are suddenly open.
- How Kyoko Honda in Fruits Basket died as shown in a flashback.
- After Kakashi kills Haku by striking him with the Lightning Blade meant for Zabuza, he dies with his eyes wide open, and Kakashi closes them for him after getting to safety for a moment. Most other characters, however, close their eyes as they die.
- Except Itachi, whose eyes remain open. It also rains, but there's no indication of rain-in-the-eyes.
- Neji died this way, as well.
- Kin Tsuchi and Zaku Ambui's eyes when their corpses are discovered are wide open, with their faces showing absolute horror in their final moments,
- Despite being a story about a serial killer, where you'd expect to find Dies Wide Shut, this trope remains averted in Shounen Zanzou, where the expressions of Adrian Clay's victims' corpses are never seen because he covers them with tape. The only ones we see are his mother's which look more like a mix of anger and fear, and Lawrence Hill's eyes are half-closed◊.
- The 2003 anime version]] of Fullmetal Alchemist has Edward die with his eyes wide open. He probably didn't even have time to blink given the manner in which he was killed. We actually see his eyes go foggy as he dies for real. He gets better, though.
- In Battle Royale, this is actually a more common type of death than the peaceful closed eyes death. Understandable, considering most of the people are killed by unexpectedly getting shot in the head. The more memorable one of this type is Mimura's.
- In the novel, just before he leaves the classroom, Shuuya asks to close his best friend's eyes (His friend had lost his temper and was shot). The teacher obliges. Once Shuuya leaves, he immediately regrets not closing the eyes of another student killed in the classroom. Also, in Mimura's case, it's a bit justified, since he died while he was leaving a message.
- In Ginga Densetsu Weed and possibly its prequel series, almost every character that dies has their eyes open.
- Charles Beams dies this way in Eureka Seven.
- Havoc in Darker Than Black.
- In Black Butler Madam Red dies like this. After the initial shock Ciel shuts the deceased's eyes.
- Sebastian also dies this way, during the murder mystery arc. He gets better though.
- Ichigo apparently has scenes like this, a lot. Just that he's always Not Exactly Dead...
- Yuzu in the 4th movie
- Murder victims from Detective Conan almost always die this way. In fact, the anime lampshaded in Billionaire Birthday Blue with Yone closes Reika's eyes and switched to give the victim closed eyes start from The Revival of the Dying Message.
- In Angel Beats!, Otonashi dies with his eyes open in the train accident.
- Averted by Black Lagoon, which shows the concussed Revy with half-closed eyes.
- The first victim of the mysterious and highly lethal plague shown in Emerging was found dead with his eyes still open... made more gruesome by the fact that they were almost completely blackened from all the blood vessels having burst, and partially liquefied from the extremely high fever he suffered prior to his death.
- In Kaze to Ki no Uta, Gilbert dies this way after being run over by a carriage while being hallucinated on drugs.
- The Negima! anime combines this with the Dull Eyes of Unhappiness in Asuna's death.
- In Full Metal Panic!, during TSR, Gauron dies in this manner. Which makes him all the more unnerving, considering he also died with a Slasher Smile, looking maniacally happy at Sousuke.
- In later works by Akira Toriyama, especially Dragon Ball Z, people who die with their eyes open will have no pupils. (examples: everywhere!) Grayish or rough pupils mean critical injury/dying but not yet dead. (example: Yamcha after being impaled by Dr. Gero in the Android saga)
- Zancrow becomes one of the few deaths in Fairy Tail this way. His killer is nice enough to shut his eyes for him afterward.
- Elfen Lied:
- A lot of characters die this way, due to the fact that they're usually in mid-action when killed. Along with the fact that they're being killed by something they can't see, and that about half of the people killed don't even know exists.
- Averted with the deaths of Kurama and Mariko; since they know what's about to happen to them, they close their eyes tightly and brace themselves.
- Averted in InuYasha - as the resident brick, Inuyasha has a tendency to get the tar beaten out of him whenever a sufficiently powerful Monster of the Week appears - to show he's been seriously injured, he'll often be knocked out with his eyes open and unreflective, but never dead.
- Unlike her sisters, Viina dies like this in Cyborg 009.
- Higurashi: When They Cry: There are many examples, ranging from plain horrific to extremely sad, including: Rika's knife-suicide, Satoko's crucifixion, everyone after being gassed in Yakusamashi-hen, Rika's disembowelment (which happened every time she didn't commit suicide by knife), Shion's fall (in Watanagashi-hen, they give a lovely close-up of her wide eyes as a sheet is being put over the body) and Keiichi after being shot; he remained alive for a few minutes, but when he finally dies the highlights in his eyes fade, leaving dull irises.
- In Danganronpa's The Anime of the Game, Chihiro Fujisaki◊ is found like this.
- Makoto Itou from School Days dies with his eyes open by being stabbed to death.
- Happens to Tsukumo in episode 9 of Karneval. She promptly comes back to life at the start of the next episode.
- Attack on Titan: If there's a body left behind, chances are, the victim's eyes will be open with their final moments of horror still fresh on their faces.
- Bishop Enrico Maxwell in Hellsing. Anderson, who taught him, and left him to die when he went mad with power, closes his eyes.
- Carta Issue of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans died in an Extreme Mêlée Revenge brought by Mikazuki, the former was brutally wounded and mistook Gaelio for McGillis when he rescued her, and she didn't even get to die peacefully, she just hopelessly asked if she was a disgrace and then her eyes faded out.
- People killed by the Joker, especially by his Joker Venom (which is justified in that it pulls back the muscles of the face), often die with their eyes open to enhance the creepy effects of his methods. As noted above, this extends to points in the DCAU where he was allowed to kill, usually the animated movies.
- In All Fall Down, this is Sophie's last panel.
- In Assassin's Creed: Brahman, Jot Soora comes out of an Animus headset while lying on the ground to find Assassin Siobhan shot in the head and staring straight at him.
- Happens twice in The Lion King Adventures:
- Uzuri dies with her eyes wide open, after being raped and murdered by Scar.
- The same with Ugaidi, after having his soul burnt.
- In one story from the Mellon Chronicles series of Lord of the Rings fanfiction, a wounded Legolas rests with his eyes closed for a time, and when Aragorn notices, he freaks out for a moment, believing the elf to be dead — as far as he understands it, elves rest with eyes open. The idea of elves not sleeping in the same way as humans comes from the one example given through Legolas in the LotR. It is debated whether this can be taken as the general style of sleeping for elves, another form of resting distinct from sleep, or due to the circumstances.
- Stars Above: Tsukasa and Kazumi die this way in the 2012 timeline.
- Averted in Chapter 16 of Tiberium Wars, where a GDI soldier finds himself staring at the face of a dead female soldier, whose eyes are half-lidded in death.
- Lampshaded in Twillight Sparkle's awesome adventure after Admiral Awesome kills Enemy Boss Leader.
He was now dead because his eyes were open.
- Used a few times in Despair's Last Resort. Hikaru is found like this in the second chapter. Arata is also like this after his execution in Chapter 4.
- In the Vocaloid fic Rotting Camellias, Lily dies like this. Her severed head is later put on display with its eyes still open, but eventually someone closes them.
Films — Animation
- In The Ant Bully, there is a scene in which Lucas finds himself in the belly of a frog. In that scene, a fly comes across a smiling bug who died with its eyes open.
Films — Live-Action
- Back to the Future: Subverted. When Marty seemingly fails to prevent Doc's death again, he turns him over to see that his eyes are wide open. However, it turns out that he's completely all right; it's implied that his eyes were wide open out of shock — or that he was pretending to be dead as to not cause a paradox.
- King Edward "Longshanks" at the end of Film/Braveheart
- The Joker, after he falls to his death in Batman, has his expression frozen with the eyes still open.
- The Penguin, after dying and getting dragged to the sewer water by his penguins in Batman Returns, was shown sinking to his final resting place with a frozen expression with eyes open in a cloud of his own blood.
- Weekend at Bernie's: During the rare instances that the titular Bernie is seen, deceased, with no sunglasses on, his eyes are always open (which helps the two other main characters convince people that he's alive).
- The French soldier that Baumer stabs dies like this in All Quiet on the Western Front.
- In Monty Python's And Now For Something Completely Different, this happens to Ernest Scribber during the Joke Warfare sketch.
- Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock. Poor Marion.
- Frenzy by Alfred Hitchcock. Poor Brenda.
- All the bad guys in Die Another Day (except Zao who died offscreen) died with open eyes.
- Almost every character killed on screen in the Harry Potter saga died with his eyes open. Justified in those characters killed by the Avada Kedavra curse, since they were dead before they hit the floor. Poor Cedric.◊
- Pod People was especially ridiculous with this idea. Even a girl who had been comatose for a couple of days, with her eyes firmly shut, died with her eyes open.
- Allen in Vampyr has his eyes wide open when lying dead in the coffin during the Dream Sequence.
- Subversion: The film Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle depicted the lead characters being shot or in big crashes, falling motionless with their eyes wide open... and then they blink and wake up; they were only unconscious.
- Happens to Rocket in Sucker Punch.
- Ratso Rizzo's death on the bus in Midnight Cowboy
- In Oliver Stone's The Doors, Jim Morrison dies in his bathtub with his eyes open.
- In The Outlaw Josey Wales, the young man traveling with Josey early in the film dies this way.
- Used in Waking Ned Divine. Ned dies of shock with his eyes open after winning the lottery, and people try to disguise the lottery win as part of a clever plan. They drew the sides of his mouth down, so he'd look sad, but his eyes showed his happiness so they were forced to close them.
- Ray Brower, the MacGuffin dead body in Stand by Me, was found by the boys to have died with his eyes open. They covered his face with the debris he was found in when they realized how serious the situation truly was.
- Drag Me to Hell, when the medium dies.
- Star Wars:
- Shmi Skywalker in Attack of the Clones dies with her eyes open and Anakin tenderly closes them before his Unstoppable Rage kicks in.
- In Return of the Jedi, Jabba the Hutt, after being strangled to death by Leia, has his eyes partly open when he dies.
- In Rogue One, Chirrut Îmwe dies with his eyes wide open after being shot down.
- The Colonel in Valkyrie, sort of.
- An odd variation in The Dark Knight— Two-Face pulls this, but only because he has no eyelid.
- Everyone who dies in 9 dies with their eyes and their mouths wide open. Justified, seeing the method of death is having their souls forcibly sucked out through their eyes and mouth.
- In the original ending to Clerks, Dante dies with his eyes open.
- Dead Man Walking: Matthew Poncelet's eyes fall shut when the anesthetic kicks in, then flick open when he expires.
- The body Chunk is locked in the freezer with in The Goonies.
- The victims of serial killer O'Ryan in Suspect Zero are all found with at least one eye open. This is justified by the fact that the killer cuts off their eyelids after killing them.
- Levasseur in Captain Blood.
- In Devil, one of the victims dies like this. When another one tries to close them, they stay open, and he's told that it doesn't work until someone's been dead for a couple of hours.
- Shoshanna in Inglourious Basterds.
- Nina at the end of Black Swan. Possibly — like everything else in this film, it depends on your interpretation whether she actually died or not.
- Jim in A Single Man.
- Red Tails: Lightning dies this way after coughing up Blood from the Mouth. Easy follows his plane most of the way down to the ground while screaming at him to pull up.
- Both Hugo and David in Shallow Grave. When the flatmates go to bury Hugo's corpse, the eyes appear to be staring up at David even as he's about to smash the face in. Later David also dies with his eyes open, and they remain open even as he's taken to the mortuary.
- Glimmer, Clove, Foxface, and Rue in the The Hunger Games movie. Katniss closes Rue's eyes, but Glimmer counts as Nausea Fuel, thanks to what the tracker jackers did to her face.
- James Bond
- Phil Coulson in The Avengers (2012), dies subtly and quietly. So much so that Nick Fury doesn't even realize his reassurances are going unheard until a few seconds later.
- In Gozu, the open eyes of a dead Yakuza brother make the hero feel fairly uncomfortable.
- How Zartan dies in G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
- In The 13th Warrior, after killing the Wendol's war leader in the final battle, Buliwyf dies sitting on the rampart, watching the other Wendol retreat.
- Satine in Moulin Rouge!
- Both Fantine and Gavroche in Les Misérables (2012).
- Annie Wilkes in the film adaptation of Misery. It's unknown if she died this way in the novel as well.
- Cowboy in Full Metal Jacket
- In the 2005 version of King Kong, the lights literally go out in Kong's open eyes before his lifeless body falls from the Empire State Building.
- Casper in Candy.
- Mack dies this way in Predator. Bonus points and Nightmare Fuel combined for when Dillon finds him, Mack's corpse is positioned in such a way that he is staring right back at him.
- P.L. Travers's father in Saving Mr. Banks, after a long battle with influenza.
- Ma in Babe, after being mauled by a pack of wolves.
- Jack Torrance when he freezes to death in the hedge maze in The Shining. It only adds to the creepiness.
- How Jimmy Conlon dies at the end of Run All Night.
- In Demon Knight, Brayker dies this way. Jerri respectfully closes his eyes before collecting his blood for the Key as its new Guardian. When The Collector finds Brayker's body, he mockingly opens up the eyes, since he's an evil demon who has hunted and hated Brayker for years.
- Johnny Tran in The Fast and the Furious after Brian shoots him.
- In the first The Lord of the Rings film, Boromir's death is signaled by all the color draining from his face—his eyes remain open as he passes.
- Carson in Team America: World Police dies in Lisa's arms with his eyes wide open.
- The little Afro-American girl who is killed by racketeers in The Phenix City Story and tossed into the front yard of Albert Patterson's house has her eyes open for even more shock value. (Nothing remotely like this happened in real life.)
- The Beast's Disney Death in Beauty and the Beast (2017) plays out this way, unlike in the animated version, where his eyes close.
- Douglas Binder (the first homeless veteran we see hunted) on Hard Target dies like this. Just to establish the villains as a bunch of amoral scumbags even harder, The Dragon closes Binder's eyes with the toe of his boot.
- In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Superman dies this way. Batman closes his eyes.
- Subverted creepily in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers: Pippin sneaks over to have a go on Gandalf's new palantír. He gets a fright when he sees Gandalf looking at him, but no, Gandalf's just asleep. Earlier in the same volume, Legolas is sleeping - with his eyes open.
- In the case of Legolas, he's not actually sleeping. Elves don't sleep, at least not the way mortals do.
- In Iron Fist, Ton Phanan finally dies with his eyes open and a look of wonder on his face. Granted, one is a prosthetic and can't close. Face closes his organic eye after he dies, before immolating the corpse with his TIE Interceptor.
- In The Odyssey, Agamemnon tells Odysseus:
As I lay dying, the woman with the dog's eyes would not close my eyes as I descended into Hades.
- In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Blood Angels novel Deus Sanguinius, a woman is mortally wounded striving to be one of Arkio's chosen soldiers. Sachiel assures her that her children are proud of her, mercy-kills her with a weapon meant for Space Marines, and closes her eyes when she dies.
- Later Sachiel himself is lying in the battlefield, with rain falling in his open eyes.
- In Lonesome Dove, Deets dies like this after getting mistaken by the Native Americans as about to kidnap a blind child, but he was Just Trying to Help in the most heart-wrenching way.
- Dobby in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. During his funeral, Luna pushes his eyelids shut so it "looks like he's sleeping."
- In the first book of The Saga of Darren Shan, Steve has a death like this. Darren describes trying to close his eyes, because his eyes open were creeping him out, but then opening them again because him with his eyes shut looked too much like he was dead. (He was)
- At the end of Wuthering Heights, Nelly finds Heathcliff dead, his eyes wide open and his face curled in a demonic grin. She tries to shut them but can't.
- Abbe Faria in The Count of Monte Cristo dies like this after some kind of attack and Edmond Dantes has a lot of trouble closing his eyes.
- Presented as a positive thing in David Gemmell's Legend, in which it shows a character is facing his chosen fate to the last.
He toppled to his knees, and looked down to see the lifeblood flowing from him. Beside him Gilad was dying, but his eyes were open. "It was good to be alive, wasn't it, boy?"
- Herbert West, in H.P. Lovecraft's Herbert West–Reanimator, after being ripped apart by re-animated corpses.
West’s head was carried off by the wax-headed leader, who wore a Canadian officer’s uniform. As it disappeared I saw that the blue eyes behind the spectacles were hideously blazing with their first touch of frantic, visible emotion.
- Quite a lot of deaths in 1000 Ways to Die feature this. Fitting, as it is a show about death.
- Happens to a ventriloquist and his dummy in an episode of Angie Tribeca. Lieutenant Geils tries to close the dummy's eyes, and they pop back open. Then he tries the same thing on the human victim, with the same result.
- In the final episode of Ashes to Ashes Chris Skelton views a video of a disturbing close look of a dying police officer's face in such a fashion after the officer is shot to death. The dying police officer is Chris himself
- Breaking Bad:
- Jane starts choking while she's asleep. When she finally dies, her eyelids slide partially open. She's shown hours later with her eyes still open.
- In "Felina", this happens to Walt as he dies from blood loss after being shot in the side by the M60 he rigs in the trunk of his car which uses to kill Jack and his Neo-Nazi gang.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Buffy find Joyce Summers lying on a couch after her sudden death with wide-open eyes. The episode makes a point of NOT having anyone close Joyce's eyes for her; they remain open throughout the episode. The episode also opens each act with a shot of Joyce's corpse in which her eyes are staring right at the viewer.
- In Burn Notice, Victor dies this way; in fact, there's hardly any visible change from the way he was before. Michael closes his eyes for him.
- Bryce at the end of season 2 of Chuck.
- And Stephen at the end of Season 3.
- Many a victim in Cold Case end up dying this way. In particular, stabbing victims have the highest ratio of this happening to.
- Doctor Who:
- Martha Jones closes Mr. Stoker's eyes as a mark of respect after his blood is drained by a Plasmavore in "Smith and Jones".
- The Doctor closes Professor Lazarus's eyes in "The Lazarus Experiment", and Sarah Jane Smith closes the Third Doctor's eyes in "Planet of the Spiders".
- Albert Dumphries dies this way in "The Sound of Drums," immediately after being gassed by PM Harold Saxon (the Master) along with the rest of the Cabinet.
- In one of the most heartbreaking moments ever seen on Farscape, Crichton utters "Don't worry about me. I've never felt better." before dying with his eyes still open.
- Discussed in the Firefly episode "The Message". As part a posthumous message, Tracy requests that Mal and Zoe "make sure his eyes is closed."
- An episode of Fringe has Walter find a man who's been fused together with a copy of himself, such that one's face is coming out of the other's chest. When the man naturally dies, Walter closes the eyes of the one face...then those of the chest-face.
- Game of Thrones:
- Played with: the funerary traditions of the Faith of the Seven require closing the dead man's eyes and putting discs looking like open eyes over them, giving this impression (and also looking somewhat Narmy).
- Talisa's eyes continue to express pure shock and terror even after death.
- Joffrey's bloodshot eyes are the focus of the final shot of an episode.
- Styr after Jon drops the hammer on him. For a moment, it even looks like he's quizzically judging Jon.
- Jojen Reed's dead eyes show hints of turning the occult blue of a wight's before the fireball engulfs the body.
- Shae after being strangled.
- Jon Snow's eyes are wide open, staring lifelessly at the sky, after he dies.
- Justified with Rickon, as he was shot by an arrow In the Back by surprise.
- Lexie on Grey's Anatomy; Mark does the traditional closing-by-hand.
- I, Claudius: Augustus dies this way, in a very quiet scene while Livia soliloquizes.
- On In Plain Sight, Mary goes to the crime scene and finds one of her victims dead. When she goes to shut his eyes a woman who we can assume is a detective or from forensics says "Hey don't touch that." Mary asks if they can close his eyes and she replies only if she has a needle and thread.
- Kamen Rider Stronger:
- Subverted in episode of Law and Order: SVU. Alex Cabot is thought to be killed, but turns up alive at the end of the episode.
- Law & Order: UK when Matt Devlin was shot. The final frame of the episode was of his eyes, wide open. What makes this especially wrenching is that he was clearly still alive at this point, giving viewers hope that he might survive. Sadly, it was not to be.
- Most of Crews and Reese's cases on the show Life feature a wide-eyed corpse. No one ever closes their eyes. It's like a thing for that show.
- Lost uses a motif of characters dying with their eyes open, and other characters closing them as a sign of finality or respect for the dead.
- In the NCIS episode Twilight, Kate is sniped through the head. Her eyes are wide open in the next shot, but then it cuts to the end of the season. In the shots of her body in the next two episodes, she is either talking to Ducky via hallucination or has her eyes shut - Ducky kept her covered in front of her former colleagues, and her eyes being shut is presumably a sign of respect.
- Robin Hood has two in the third season finale - Tuck closes Allan's eyes, and Robin later closes Gisborne's eyes.
- The main villain of Sherlock, Jim Moriarty, not only shot himself through the mouth in front of Sherlock Holmes, but did it as part of a game of Gambit Roulette. His body is shown to be smiling as well as wide-eyed.
- Averted with Sherlock himself; his eyes are open after he jumps off of the roof of St. Barts, but of course, he was faking it.
- Possibly averted with Moriarty, who might have been faking it as well.
- Averted with Sherlock himself; his eyes are open after he jumps off of the roof of St. Barts, but of course, he was faking it.
- Averted in The Film of the Book of The Stand-the television network censors didn't like the idea of the dead people being shown with their eyes open.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- The Klingons' sense of honour means that their allies will hold their eyes open and look into them as they die. Happens in a couple of episodes. They also scream to warn the afterlife that a Klingon Warrior is arriving. Highlighted by Tasha Yar in her funeral service, speaking to Worf. "I hope I met death with my eyes wide open."
- Data, in the episode "Contagion." Geordi closes his eyes for him (which looks kinda weird since Burton can't actually touch him without screwing up Spiner's makeup and the hover is obvious). Whenever he shuts off, his eyes are usually open.
- A Star Trek: Voyager episode "Revulsion" opens with a crewman staring into space, then he's dragged off leaving a blood trail against the bulkhead.
- Emma on The Strain (TV series) dies with her eyes open twice. First, after she's drained by The Master and after she rises as a vampire, when Setrakian decapitates her.
- Many of the bodies in Supernatural die with their eyes wide open, but in the episode "What Is And What Should Never Be" the woman in white is Not Quite Dead despite staring unblinkingly.
- Walker, Texas Ranger: Victor LaRue, when killed off by Walker and The Hangman, who forced C.D. Parker to pull a suicide by cop, die with their eyes wide open. Even more disturbing with LaRue, because not only does his face look just as vicious upon his death, Alex has a nightmarish thought as he's being carted out on a gurney- only to spring back to life to the tune of Elvis.
- Wives and Daughters: Poor Osborne Hamley. He has been unwell for a long time, an one day he just lies down under a tree, breathing heavily, and motion of the camera suggests he's dizzy. Next shot of him is his pale face with widely open eyes and a bug crawling over it. He died alone so there was nobody who would comfort him and close his eyelids.
- Nearly every named character who dies in the Horatio Hornblower telefilms does so with open eyes—in one case, the dying man asks "is it evening?" before he expires—leaving them staring up at Hornblower.
- In the second episode of Queen of the South a woman Teresa talks to suddenly dies after she finishes talking. It turns out she was holding drugs in her stomach but they dissolved before she could vomit them out. After she dies they show others cutting her open and removing the drugs, which freaks Teresa out so much she tries to run away.
- Michael Jackson's "Little Susie" mentions the titular girl's blind stare, as well as someone coming to close her eyes for her.
- This happens to Mikey in the music video for "The Ghost of You" by My Chemical Romance.
- This video for How To Destroy Angels' "The Space Inbetween." Vocalist Mariqueen goes from "dead" to "dead and singing" to "dead and singing and ON FIRE."
- Opera singer Maria Callas, a Greek vocal actress with an unerring sense of theatrical effect, used to do this at the end of Verdi's La Traviata. Most Violettas just fall over; Maria used to die sitting in a chair or standing, staring straight out into the audience. Today, Gabriella Istoc does a kinder, gentler version; she just looks thoughtful.
- In Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, when you find the GFS Tyr's landing site, Captain Exeter is leaning against a communications console with his visor broken and his eyes wide open. After watching the Marines' final, fatal Ing encounter in cutscene, Samus shakes her head at the futility of their deaths before kneeling next to Exeter's corpse, closing his eyes through the broken glass.
- Lumine dies like this in Mega Man X8. Subverted in Maverick Hunter X where X's eyes remain open when he's unconscious, with varying reactions from observers.
- Happens with Trevor in Phantasmagoria 2.
- Richard L. Jenkins in Mass Effect actually averts this, as a CGI character they could give him half-closed eyes. Kaidan still comes along and closes them.
- Both NPC and player characters die with open eyes in Fallout 3.
- And thanks to a common bug, still blinking.
- In Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 4: The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood, Morgan LeFlay falls in a slump after whispering to Guybrush about LeChuck and dies with her eyes half open; Guybrush becomes grieved at her loss, then pulls the sword from her not-bleeding body and has her hands enclose its hilt, tilts her head in a proper death pose and closes her eyes before getting up and walking away.
- Averted at the end of the same chapter, when the mortally wounded Guybrush's eyes open wide in a blank stare at a saddened Elaine, but then gently close as he collapses and "falls asleep" with his mouth open.
- Seymour from Final Fantasy X dies like this. The first time, at least.
- The previous Steef guardian in Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath.
- Emma Emmerich in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
- In Brain Dead 13, Lance can die in this way in some of the death scenes.
- Krizalid in The King of Fighters '99. When Heidern shows up to inspect the death scene, he closes Krizalid's eyes with his gloved hand.
- In Silent Hill 4, Cynthia Velasquez dies this way in the tube station at the start of the game as protagonist Henry Townshend cradles her, before closing her eyes.
- At the end of Batman: Arkham City, The Joker dies like this in a twisted version of Go Out with a Smile.
- Sarah dies this way in the prologue of The Last of Us, cradled in her father's arms as she bleeds out from a bullet to the abdomen.
- Iska in Soulcalibur Legends.
- At the end of World of Warcraft Wrath of the Lich King, Arthas is defeated when Tirion shatters Frostmourne with Ashbringer. As he lies down dying, his father Terenas' spirit kneels down to hold him, telling him that the nightmare is finally over and that no king rules forever. Arthas' eyes roll up in his last moments as he notes that "[Arthas] can see only darkness before me..." Terenas respectfully shuts his son's eyes, showing that despite everything he still loved and forgave him.
- If, in Dragon Age II, you take the option to kill Anders after he blows up the Kirkwall Chantry, you stab him in the back and as he slumps forward the camera focuses on his face, so you can clearly see his eyes moving around until they stop.
- At the end of the first 2/3rds of Far Cry 3, Jason stabs Vaas several times in the heart, his face frozen in shock. Both he and Jason fall to the ground, still staring blankly at his killer, and then he looks at Jason. What really happened is blurry as Jason was (most likely) in a bizarre hallucination but Jason is assured that Vaas did die.
- Super Dangan Ronpa 2: Nagito Komaeda is found like this, covered in torture wounds, impaled by a spear and with a terrified expression on their face.
- New Dangan Ronpa V3: Miu Iruma is discovered by the others with their eyes wide open, clutching at their throat. This in stark contrast to the fact that her body is completely devoid of wounds, as she died in a VR simulation.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, Sivo's eyes remain open in death. Their color changes from blue to a pupil-less gray.
- The wide open eyes of Paul after his death in Sire were regarded as some readers as Nightmare Fuel.
- The Order of the Stick has its own version of this trope, where a dead body's eyes are always displayed as X's, neither open nor shut. This is lampshaded in this strip, where Durkon is looking at Roy's corpse through a spy-glass and Haley asks him whether "he has the X's in his eyes" that prove his death.
- Also when Haley and Belkar are sneaking out of occupied Azure City; Celia uses an illusion to appear as a demon, while the two mortals draw X's over their eyelids and lie very still on the cart so they appear to be corpses.
- Homestuck: Midway through Act 5 Act 2, the trolls start dying; most of the dead trolls die with their eyes open, as a result of being actively fighting when they were murdered. The exceptions are Kanaya, who got better, and Nepeta, whose death was not actually seen, possibly as part of a Schrodinger's cat pun, though her eyes were open later when Gamzee got ahold of her decapitated head.
- While not technically dead, the androids in Commander Kitty have a tendency to turn off with their eyes still open and their mouths locked in an anguished expression. And in a complete aversion of Eye Lights Out, Zenith suffers a catastrophic system crash with her eyes still open.
- Used often in the CG art of morphE. A good example is the unnamed woman from the intro lying dead at Tyler's feet in the dream sequence or before Vengeful awoke as a Thrysus mage.
- Irish in River Passage.
- Futurama: This happens to Bender in the first segment of Anthology Of Interest, Part II.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold, of all places, had Boston Brand aka Deadman die like this in a flashback.
- In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Gwen dies like this. She gets better.
- Family Guy:
- In "Lois Kills Stewie" when Stewie is killed by Peter, his eyes are wide open and Peter wipes his hand over to close them.
- In "Save the Clam," Horace dies with his eyes closed. Until Dr. Hartman, in keeping with his medical incompetence, wipes his hand over to open them.
- This happens to Mr. Weed.
- In the Justice League episode "Only a Dream", Jimmy Olsen's eyes are wide open after Superman inadvertently crushes him. (The next shot, though, they're shut.)
- The Simpsons: Homer's mother, Mona, dies like this.
- Artemis in Young Justice when shot by Deathstroke, but it was actually fake.
- A few characters in Star Wars: The Clone Wars die this way.
- In "Tresspass", Chairman Cho eventually dies from a stab wound from a spear thrown by a Talz. As he claims that he died for his people to Senator Chuchi, he goes limp and dies with eyes open, leaving Chuchi to close them.
- In "ARC Troopers", 99's eyes roll back after he is shot by battle droids when he tried to get more grenades.
- In "Altar of Mortis", Ahsoka's eyes roll back after she is temporarily killed by the Son of Mortis.
- In Star Wars Rebels, this is how Darth Maul goes out after he is struck down during his final duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi.
- Surprisingly for cartoons that are more known for Ash Face and Amusing Injuries there are a few straight examples of this in "Looney Tunes" like Rocky's goons falling over dead in The Unmentionables and a bear being shot by Elmer Fudd's dog Rover in A Mutt in a Rut'. Of course there was still no visible blood. There were visible holes however.
- Darkwing Duck has shown corpses that avoid this, either by being covered by plants, by being digested by a python, by being compressed in a can, by being mere skeletons or by having their eyes sewn shut. Who said that avoiding it was better? There was one cold case however where two SHUSH agents were found in a freezer with their eyes open and sticks under their feet that made them look giant popsickles instead of dead bodies.
- In real life, it is possible to lose consciousness, either in death or not, with your eyes open.
- When terrorist Timothy McVeigh (of Oklahoma City infamy) was executed, he expired eyes wide open.
- There's a photo of Serial Killer Ted Bundy out there that shows his eyes like this.
- As suggested by this autopsy photo◊, John F. Kennedy died with his eyes open.
- Actor John Carradine died with his eyes open. His son, David, closed his eyes for him afterwards and said it's not as easy as it is in the movies to do that.
- Indeed it is not, as any caregiver or undertaker can tell you.
- Unorthodox Example: When e-paper based readers run out of power, they often expire with an "out-of-power" message still on the screen since their displays require no power when static. In a world where we're used to monitors which go black when unpowered, this can give the same impression as being dead with eyes open.
- The eyes of the dead are pushed closed to prevent them drying out and causing something known as "Tache noir de la sclerotique", "black spot of the sclera". If the corpse's eyes stay even partially open, the portion of the sclera (the white of the eye) that is exposed to air for some time gains a reddish-brown discoloration, which is both unsightly and characteristic of death.
- Henry Rollins talked in one of his spoken word performances about visiting a 17 year-old Australian boy who was dying of cancer. He was shaken to his core when the boy told him "I want to die with my eyes open".