Empty Eyes

"Ever look into his eyes? There's nothing there."
Angel, "Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been"

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 air-headedly distracted, shocked, traumatized, dead, mind-controlled, insane, anywhere among those six points, or any combination of the above. This trope is most common in anime, though as of late it's made its way 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. 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.

Compare Dull Eyes of Unhappiness, Thousand-Yard Stare, Mind-Control Eyes, Heroic BSOD and Angst Coma.


Anime and 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's corpse is found 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.

Comic Books

  • In the original 1975 version of The Stepford Wives, Jessica's robot double has these when 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."


Multiple Media
  • 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.

  • Evanescence's song, "Exodus", mentions in the last verse "so much more dismay in empty eyes".

Role-Playing Games
  • 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.

  • "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.

Video Games

Web Comics
  • The page image is Michael Kappel of Collar 6, deep in the midst of a Heroic BSOD after his parents were killed by Unfriendly Fire.
  • Characters in Home Stuck 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.