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 dying, dead, distracted, shocked, traumatized, mind-controlled, in a state of Tranquil Fury, completely insane, or some 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. 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.

Compare Dull Eyes of Unhappiness, Thousand-Yard Stare, Mind-Control Eyes, Heroic B.S.O.D. and Angst Coma.


Anime and Manga
  • A very common trope throughout tons of anime and manga, so many that to name them all one might as well list every anime ever made. That being said, here's some specific ones.
  • After the climax of Sailor Moon S, Usagi emerges from her battle with Pharaoh 90 with blank, horrified eyes.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Comic Books
  • Note that empty eyes can also merely mean that the artist was too lazy. A prominent example (got even a Take That! on that behalf in a satiric comic) is Little Orphan Annie.
  • Used to imply mind control in Heart Of Empire.

  • 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 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.

Web Original