"Ever look into his eyes? There's nothing there."Lack of pupils, and customary light reflection; iris shading goes from the usual radial to gradient; eyelids drop. Yep, this character is suffering from the "Empty Eyes" trope, a condition denoting that the character is dying, dead, distracted, shocked, traumatized, mind-controlled, broken, in a state of Tranquil Fury, completely insane, or some combination of the above. When used comically, it usually denotes the character is either airheaded, lost in thought, or simply in a blissful state. This trope is most common in anime an manga, though it's also been used to Western Animation. Due to the condition of shock causing the eyes to dilate, realistic live action will never have this unless the producers don't know better. Could be way to show someone is so shocked they haven't blinked for a while, because the tears that accumulate would make the eyes more reflective and the pupils harder to see. Pushed for effect in Break the Cutie scenarios. Sister trope of Prophet Eyes, and the two may coincide as repeated trauma could give someone a Disability Superpower. Subtrope of Reflectionless Useless Eyes. Compare Dull Eyes of Unhappiness, Thousand-Yard Stare, Mind-Control Eyes, Heroic B.S.O.D. and Angst Coma.
— Angel, "Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been"
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Anime & Manga
- After the climax of Sailor Moon S, Usagi emerges from her battle with Pharaoh 90 with blank, horrified eyes.
- In the manga's "Infinity Arc," this is used to demonstrate that Saturn has awakened, and Hotaru's no longer in control. In the anime's equivalent season, this is occasionally used when someone besides Hotaru is "behind the wheel," though it prefers to combine Glowing Eyes of Doom and Red Eyes, Take Warning.
- In Act 2 of Sailor Moon Crystal, a Brainwashed Ami's eyes go from a deep sea blue to a matte, dull deep green with dilated, obscured pupils under the influence of the Crystal Disk, a magical CD meant to enslave the user, disguised as a Cram School study aid.
- Towards the climax of Ragnarok: The Animation this happens to Yufa
- Azumanga Daioh: Sometimes invoked by Sakaki, particularly when she's either daydreaming, or when she's suffering from Cuteness Overload.
- In Umineko: When They Cry, Clair Vaux Bernard always has these eyes, representative of her status as merely Yasu's storyteller, unable to interfere with anything that actually occurs within the story she tells.
- Higurashi: When They Cry
- Used when Rika is found dead by the others.
- Given to Rena at the height of her insanity during the Atonement Arc
- Satoko gets these at any time when her Evil Uncle is around and subjecting her to abuse. It's a sign that she's found the courage to stand up to him when her pupils and highlights come back.
- In Juuni Senshi Bakuretsu Eto Ranger, Hols' Super Mode has blank, angry eyes, indicating that after seeing red, no amount of looking at anything else can stop him.
- In Assassination Classroom Karma alone in class E lacks eyeshine in his design. Coupled with them being drawn a bit wider, it makes him look a little unhinged compared to the others. Given that a lot of his attitude is from being let down horribly by a teacher he once respected, there's definitely a sign of being broken there.
- Happens to Takiko in Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden, after Genbu devours her soul.
- In Heat Guy J, this is how Clair is first introduced at his dad's funeral, before he throws a grenade at his father's grave. It happens to him later in the series, when he goes into an Angst Coma, and when he comes out of the coma to rescue his bodyguard/friend Giovanni from J.
- Death Note: Happens with Kiyomi Takada and Naomi Misora under the influence of the Death Note; arguably a case of Mind-Control Eyes, as well.
- Kishou Arima from Tokyo Ghoul, which combined with his Scary Shiny Glasses, makes him look quite intimidating. This detail turns out to be significant, as it hints towards him being partially Blind and a Death Seeker.
- In Kemono Friends, empty eyes are used to represent Friends born from endangered or extinct animal species like Crested Ibis or Aurochs.
- Italy temporarily gained the traumatized type in Axis Powers Hetalia fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità. After Germany pulled out a Browning Hi Power on Japan and Japan pulled out his katana on Germany, Italy had had enough of their cock fight.
It only took one look at the utterly devastated form of their precious beloved, one look at normally limpid brown eyes dead with misery and grief to do all three to those two nations. Simultaneously. And then some.
Films — Live-Action
- In the original 1975 version of The Stepford Wives, Jessica's robot double has these when she's first seen.
- Jaws had Quint's memorable quote about how a shark's eyes look like a doll's eyes - cold and empty.
- Halloween (1978) had Dr. Loomis describe Michael as having "the blackest eyes. The Devil's eyes." This was back when he was a little boy having just murdered his sister, and he would only get worse from there.
- In A Wrinkle in Time, Charles Wallace's eyes turn completely blue, with no pupil or iris.
- The Hunger Games: Effie Trinket. Katniss notes how Effie has a "vacant look" in her eyes in Mockingjay due to the torture she suffered while being held prisoner by the Capitol.
- In all A Certain Magical Index media except for the anime adaptation of A Certain Scientific Railgun, the Sisters (Hive Mind clones of Misaka Mikoto with dulled emotions) are drawn with Empty Eyes to distinguish them from the original. The exception is Last Order, a "network administrator" Sister who is already easy to distinguish from Mikoto by virtue of being a Token Mini-Moe Genki Girl.
- The Last Unicorn:
King Haggard: (to Amalthea) Your eyes! Your eyes have become empty as Lir's, as any eyes that... never saw unicorns.
- Karzahni and Tren Krom were described as having these in certain BIONICLE media, though the former was illustrated with bright yellow eyes and later released as a toy with red eyes, and the latter was also given glowing eyes because of the writer misremembering.
- "Beast Changer" (Savage/Noble) from the Beast Machines line had literally empty eyes in his Noble mode. Some think that this was a deliberate decision,note others say that the toy was simply released incomplete — at any rate, Noble had normal eyes in the TV series.
- Gadget Trial: The titular trial is pitting two families of E-Series cyborg girl soldiers against each other to see which is better. Contrasting the protagonist White family, are the E-Series Black who are programmed for perfect obedience, lack of character and minimal self-awareness. Gleamless eyes and stiff expressions come with it.
- Dark Arle in Puyo Puyo 7 has these, when under control of Ecolo.
- Giving Koishi Komeiji these was common in fanart even before it became official as of Hopeless Masquerade. The reason why is a very odd combination of the potential uses of this trope - yes, she's air-headed, but more significantly Koishi is a former mind-reader who, after being reviled for her powers, sealed away her own ability. As a side effect she lost the ability to read her own mind, so she's more or less an Empty Shell with a complete Lack of Empathy, wandering around and acting on her unconscious impulses. She's either insane or close to enlightenment, depending on who you ask.
- Junko was depicted like this in the spin-off manga Visionary Fairies in Shrine, with dull irises, tiny pupils and an empty smile. In her case it's justified because she's less a person and more a vengeful spirit, the purified embodiment of a woman's grudge against those who killed her son.
- The fan-made anime Fantasy Kaleidoscope gives this to Yuyuko, who falls under the "dead" distinction by virtue of being a Cute Ghost Girl.
- Yandere Simulator: One of the signs that Ayano has become "visibly insane" is that her eyes go blank. This is fitting, because her true nature is that she's close to emotionless, with what emotions she does have reserved for love for her Senpai and hatred for her rivals. Word of God says that being visibly insane is less her actually going crazy (since she already is), but more her insanity becoming more apparent to onlookers. So, it's only fitting that her eyes go blank when this happens.
- Ayano can also torture someone into becoming an Empty Shell. Once the process is over, they'll have these.
- The Elder Scrolls
- Throughout the series, this is a trait of some Vampire bloodlines. Their eyes are a pale white with no irises or pupils. Others have Black Eyes of Evil, while others still have Super Natural Gold Eyes. (It's implied that they may all have these glowing gold eyes, but only beings with divine souls, such as the Dragonborn of Skyrim, can actually see them.)
- In Oblivion, this is a trait of Scamps, the weakest and smallest known form of lesser Daedra. Other games have variously given them red eyes or Black Eyes of Evil.
- The page image is Michael Kappel of Collar 6, deep in the midst of a Heroic B.S.O.D. after his parents were killed by Unfriendly Fire.
- Characters in Homestuck who are dead gain completely blank eyes if they are seen in Dream Bubbles afterward. It doesn't affect their personality or eyesight, though. Andrew Hussie's Author Avatar also had empty eyes even before his in-comic death. Whether that is significant or not remains to be seen.
- In Genocide Man, all of the Genocide Men have cold, dead stares (represented in the art by blank white eyes) due to the lifetime of horrors they've each seen and committed. One character actually thought the eyes were cybernetic, because she didn't believe that human eyes could look like that.
- In Questionable Content, Hannelore's eyes go flat when she is avoiding engaging with a police officer.
- Dino Attack RPG:
- Most Mutant Dinos and Quasifigus Hybrids have blank white eyes.
- After being attacked by a Mutant Raptor, Greybeard's scarred eye appears washed-out in color in comparison to his other eye. He was also nearly blind in that eye.
- When Rex's body was possessed by Baron Typhonus, his eyes turned blank white.
- In Alice Isn't Dead, the eyes of the Narrator's soon-to-be stalker The Thistle Man are described as "...flat. Like a bad painting of a face," shortly before he deliberately reveals himself as a Humanoid Abomination.