Servo: And, his eyes open.Finally, after deadly fighting and clever tactics, the Serial Killer, monster, alien, or what-have-you is down for the count. The hero turns to leave... and the monster's eye opens. Typically used as part of a The End... Or Is It? ending, but just as often used whenever a hero dismisses a "corpse" as inanimate and either walks off or gets too close. A favorite is to have the hero deliberately get within striking distance to retrieve a weapon or item near or lodged in the creature... only to have their eyes open and arms come up and grab them. Also frequently happens with hands twitching, especially after the coroner's already pulled the sheet over the supposed corpse's head; that goes clear back to Frankenstein. An interesting minor variation involves beings in People Jars or who are frozen moving just once they're out of the hero's field of vision. Combines nicely with Glowing Eyes of Doom and Eye Lights Out. Compare to Finger-Twitching Revival. See also Pivotal Wake-up, and The Eyes Have It for when the eyes belong to something which is not actually alive. Contrast with Dies Wide Shut, which precludes this trope for reasons that should be easy to see. When this happens due to Special Effect Failure revealing that the "corpse" is actually a live actor, that's The Living Dead.
Crow: An-n-n-nd his eyes open.
Mike: His eyes open.
Crow: Eyes open.
Mike: His EYES open.
Crow: Come ON!
[his eyes open]
Servo: "I'm sitting in something wet..."
Crow: An-n-n-nd his eyes open.
Mike: His eyes open.
Crow: Eyes open.
Mike: His EYES open.
Crow: Come ON!
[his eyes open]
Servo: "I'm sitting in something wet..."
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Anime & Manga
- During Zorin Blitz's horrific assault on the Hellsing headquarters, Seras' eyes are slashed out. Then she drinks Pip's blood, thus becoming a "true" vampire, and her eyes open again... looking like the eyes of the unholy horror she has become. Asskickery ensues.
- In Chrono Crusade, our heroes manage to kill a Pursuer with a big enough boom to cause its "corpse" to get buried in rubble. As they pull themselves out of the wreckage to try to regroup, the demon bursts out from the rubble and attempts to attack again—only to be hit by a barrage of gunfire from backup from the Order, who arrived just in time.
- The behelits in Berserk just look like weirdly carved little stones (possibly made by Picasso) until you look at 'em real hard, and they blink. Or look back. Somewhat subverted in that they can't really do anything except blink, and fairly rarely weep blood. Of course, the weeping of blood causes all sorts of horrible things to happen, but the behelits themselves don't do much, besides act as creepy little blinking doorbells.
- During the first arc of Dragon Ball Z, Krillin finds Vegeta back on the earth, having being hit with the Spirit Bomb and assumes he's dead. Krillin walks up to him saying he should at least go through the effort of making a grave. Vegeta awakens, and exclaims "For yourselves!", and attacks him. What makes this even better is that Vegeta had one working eye left after Goku shot the other one.
- In Doubt, the stranger appears to have died of a morphine overdose before the party finds him. While discussing what to do now, he suddenly opens both of his eyes and attacks Yuu.
- Members of the Uchiha clan in Naruto, when revealing new eye-based powers they've gained.
- I Am a Hero: Here, after Hirumi became victim to the zombie virus.
- A Humongous Mecha variant occurs in Gundam AGE with the unpiloted mobile armor, SID.
- Done by Gemini Paradox not too long after being defeated by Dragon Ryuhou in episode 33 of Saint Seiya Omega, just as Ryuhou and Pegasus Kouga are leaving the Gemini Temple. Since she's one of the most psychotic villains in their Rogues Gallery, it's played as a Jump Scare.
- In Attack on Titan, when Wall Sina cracks and reveals Titans embedded in it, the Survey Team initially thinks they might be dead. Then one of them opens its eyes and looks straight at them.
- After Shinji's first battle in Neon Genesis Evangelion, he sees his damaged Eva in the reflection of a nearby skyscraper. The eye doesn't just open, it reconstructs itself from a gory pulp, then focuses on him. Shinji passes out screaming.
- A more "cute" example happens in episode 181 of Hamtaro. A close up of the title character's eye opening as he wakes up from a dream (which takes up the whole episode) can be seen.
- In the final issue of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the genocidal Anti-Monitor appears to be finally dead after a mass attack by the heroes of five Earths. As they turn to leave, Kid Flash says it's all over, and they're finally going home. This is said over a series of panels zooming in on the Anti-Monitor's black, empty eye sockets. In the final panel, the eye has a tiny spark of light within...
Films — Animation
- The Firebird in Fantasia 2000 at first looks like an inert lump of igneous rock, until the Sprite places her hand on it, and then... wham!
- In How to Train Your Dragon, Toothless the dragon pulls this when Hiccup examines his prone body.
- Ice Age 2 has one of the two frozen alligators' eyes do this after Mannie is persuaded to ignore his Spider-Sense.
- The last shot of The Iron Giant is showing the Giant's eye open up after he was thought destroyed.
- In The Land Before Time, Sharptooth opens his menacing eye at Cera after she charges at his face, believing him to be dead.
- Dragon in The Secret of NIMH. Fortunately, he's drugged, so that's all he does.
- Sid’s dog Scud in Toy Story does this when Woody’s voice box accidentally disturbs him awake.
Films — Live-Action
- Parodied in Naked Gun 2 1/2 just before Frank Drebin shoves a firehose into Hector Savage's mouth. Yes.
- A variation is done in I Know What You Did Last Summer. The innocentnote victim does this after he's thrown in the water because the assholes who hit him with their car don't want to go to jail. The Jerk Jock dove in to see if the victim would sink and he sees the victim open his eyes! This means that he's the only one who knows that the victim is still alive! He crosses the Moral Event Horizon when he swims away (They all do, really, but he totally crosses the line more than they do).
- X-Men Film Series:
- Not involving a death, but something similar happens at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand. Magneto, who has lost his power, reaches a hand out toward a metal chess piece, which twitches ever so slightly just before the credits roll.
- This trope is featured in X-Men Origins: Wolverine when Deadpool, who is believed to have died in a tower collapse, is revealed to be alive as his decapitated head is shown in the rubble as the eyes ominously open, while the head whispers "Shhhhhh..." to the audience.
- Done in a marvelously over-the-top fashion in Trey Parker and Matt Stone's Cannibal! The Musical.
- The first best example coming to mind being, of course, the hand coming out of the grave in Carrie.
- Close-up on Neo's face in The Matrix as he opens his eye after been brought back to life by Trinity's True Love's Kiss.
- The 1978 Australian film Patrick is a perfect example of this trope. The title character is in a coma with his eyes eternally open. The only time they're closed is at the end when he's believed to be dead, just so he can open them again (and remain open during the end credits).
- The first zombie encountered in the Resident Evil movie is of the People Jars variety.
- Space Mutiny, much to the delight of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew. Their riffing provided the original trope name (now the page quote).
- Danger: Diabolik, the feature film of the final episode of MST3K, ends on a variation of this theme.
- This happens so frequently in the Evil Dead films that in the third film Ash, who seems to be otherwise dumb as a post, actually catches on!
- He also gets a great One-Liner from the situation: "It's a trick. Get an axe."
- Used and subverted in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. At the start of the film, Shredder does the "hand bursting from rubble" variant to show he survived his fate at the end of the previous movie. At the climax, Super Shredder's hand bursts from the wreckage of the docks he brought down on himself, leading the Turtles to exclaim "No One Could Survive That!!" A second later, the hand goes limp, proving them right.
- The hand-twitching version happened, followed shortly by the eyes opening, in Independence Day as a captured alien is being "dissected" (whoops, turns out that's just its containment suit).
- After it's taken down properly, one of the soldiers - clearly wary of this trope by now - approaches and puts several more shots into the alien, and is rewarded with its death screams.
- The end of the movie has a variant. After being injected twice with a poison that will kill him when his adrenaline runs down, being shot, and being dropped a few thousand feet out of a helicopter to land on a car, bounce fifty feet in the air, and smash to the ground, the camera focuses on Chev's open eye. Which blinks. And now we have Crank: High Voltage. The creators mention in the commentary that everything that happens after Chev drinks the "plant shit" drug may not have actually happened, at least not the way the viewer sees it. Given the ridiculous premise of the second movie, this could be them dropping hints, or just giving a secondary interpretation of the more impossible parts of the film and its upcoming sequel.
- Not to be outdone, the end of Crank: High Voltage features this as well. After a ridiculous final showdown that ends with Chev severely disfigured by burns, Doc Miles manages to reinsert his real heart, but fails to get it pumping. After Chev's friends leave the room in tears, the camera focuses on Chev's face for several seconds, and his charred eyelids snap open.
- All three of the original Terminator movies did this. In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, this comes after a Terminator Core meltdown.
- In Vanilla Sky, Tom Cruise's character does this but with only one eye.
- In the Baz Luhrmann film version of William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, at the climax, Romeo gives his speech over what he thinks is Juliet's corpse. As he tilts his head back to drink the poison, her eyes blink open, and she reaches up to touch his cheek. Cue the Oh, Crap! look on his face seconds before his death.
- Ali G Indahouse. The Acting Prime Minister is knocked out by Ali G's swinging gold chain. He comes to as Ali leaves the room.
- Horrifically well done in Misery when Sheldon finally attacks Annie Wilkes.
- In the film of Matilda, the scene near the end where Ms. Trunchbull is lying seemingly unconscious on the floor uses this trope. When a boy gets too close to her, her eyes flick open and she reaches up to grab him.
- In Stealth, EDI's core relights after its body is destroyed via Heroic Sacrifice.
- This happens at the end of Avatar... but they're Jake's eyes opening, not following a near-fatal injury, but after his rebirth instead.
- Done at the beginning of The Smurfs 2, when Smurfette was first created as a Naughty by Gargamel.
- At the end of Breaking Dawn Part 1, Bella opens her red eyes as a newborn vampire.
- Inverted in Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God, in which the hero discovers that the title dragon god is slumbering inside a mountain, and parts its eyelid with his bare hands to prove its nature to his skeptical companions. The dragon is too deeply asleep to be disturbed by this manhandling and doesn't awaken until later.
- Something like this happened in Catwoman when the main character's iris suddenly transforms to reveal that she is alive.
- A rather horrific example happens in the Val Lewton film Bedlam. Boris Karloff's character is said to be dead, and is being bricked up in a wall to hide the evidence. Then suddenly his eyes flicker open, he opens his mouth - and the last brick is put in place before he has time to scream.
- A variation is done with the crushed block of metal that used to be a '57 Plymouth in Christine.
- In the beginning of Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Tommy Jarvis goes psycho on a maggot ridden Jason corpse after flashbacking to their previous encounter. He leaves the fence post used to impale him in the corpse and lightning strikes that fence post twice bringing Jason back to life. To add more Squick to it a maggot falls off his rotten eyebrow seconds after the eye opens.
- In Battleship, the heroes manage to capture one of the invading aliens for examination. One of them pulls back its eyelid, revealing extremely dilated pupils. The moment they shine a flashlight into it, the pupil contracts, just before the alien starts throwing people across the room.
- In The Amazing Spider-Man, the Lizard is mowed down by a squad of SWAT officers. They go to check on him, his wounds heal, followed by an Eye Awaken.
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ends with the awakening of Smaug the dragon. The last shot of the film is his giant eye opening up.
- Done quite creepily in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, when Frodo encounters one of the ghosts of Dead Marches. It appears like a rotting corpse of an elf warrior just few inches underwater, until it opens its milky white eyes, causing Frodo to freeze still and fall into the water.
- Toward the end of The Bay, Donna Thompson and her cameraman find a badly mutilated corpse, with most of its face eaten off by parasitic isopods. Except it's not a corpse yet. The experience scars her so badly that she doesn't film anything else that night, or for the next several years.
- In Guards! Guards!, just as Carrot attempts to arrest an unconscious dragon lying under the remains of the buildings it fell into;
"The rubble heaved, and opened one eye. One big back pupil floating in a bloodshot glow tried to focus on them."
- It happens a few times in Galaxy of Fear. City of the Dead has Zak wake up paralyzed and remain paralyzed for some time, enough to start thinking of his dead parents, and only realizes he's starting to be able to move again when tears sting his eyes and he blinks. Later, Ghost of the Jedi has it happen along with Finger-Twitching Revival to a villain.
- Game of Thrones: Jon Snow does this immediately after his resurrection, in stark contrast to his "Dies Wide Open" moment.
- Happens to Daenerys' dragon that was shot down by a white walker, when the Night King revives it.
- A similar thing happened on an episode of Stargate SG-1 when they extracted an Ancient who'd been frozen in the ice for a very long time; after being halfway thawed, her eye contracts.
- Except that one of the doctors was shining a light in her eye at the time, noticed the pupilary contraction, and then checked it again to confirm it, which immediately tipped off everybody that the Ancient was still alive.
- Though not a villain per se, a deranged, concussion-ridden Basil Fawlty does this before making good his escape from the hospital in a classic episode of Fawlty Towers. What happens next? Well...
- Iké Dubaku in the 24 after his target surrender-suckerpunches with a landmine in the special episode "Redemption". Since the audience already knew that the character was returning for the seventh season, it was not much of a twist, however.
- On One Life to Live, after being shot several times and then locked in the trunk of a car that was then pushed off of a cliff into the ocean, Todd Manning's body washed up on shore. The last shot of him was of his eyes opening.
- In the first episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day, a suicide bomber's head is detached to see if it can still live. It seems to be dead... and then the eyes open. Keep in mind that the suicide bomber's bomb has gone off. With him still attached.
- In an episode of ER, this, paired with the hand-twitching, is how a hungover Doug Ross awakens after one of his random one-night stands.
- Supernatural: During the ninth season finale, Dean is mortally wounded by Metatron and dies in Sam's arms. The final shot of the episode is of Dean opening his eyes to reveal Black Eyes of Evil, signifying that the Mark of Cain has resurrected him as a demon.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- During "The Weight of the World," Spike and Xander get in a fight with Doc over information they need on Glory's plans, with Xander managing to knock him down and run him through with a sword. As soon as they leave the room, the audience is treated to a shot of his seemingly dead body... and then his eyes open.
- Played with in "This Year's Girl". The camera pulls in on Faith, whose eyelids are twitching in REM sleep. Instead of them opening, we're shown various nightmares involving Faith being stalked by and eventually defeating a cold-blooded, knife-wielding Buffy. When Faith emerges triumphant and gives a Skyward Scream, then her eyes open, with Faith all set for her Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- Goodbye Mr A by The Hoosiers, Even after sending Mr A into space (and blowing him up) his eyes open at the end.
- The Undertaker usually does this when it looks like he's down and out, before he sits up suddenly.
- Happens at the end of Metroid Prime. Interestingly enough, the eye in question is on the back of a hand.
- At the climax of Donkey Kong 64, King K. Rool has hit the canvas after losing a fight to the entire Kong family. As a triumphant Chunky Kong waves to the crowd, we see a closeup of K. Rool's inert face. And then, his eye (the hypertrophied, bloodshot one, of course) pops open.
- At the end of Portal, GLaDOS does this, in a room of spare eye parts. Then starts to sing.
- She does it again in the Portal 2 E3 trailer, with the "eye" light on her head turning on just before she starts to move.
- In Resident Evil 2, after the player defeats Mr. X for the first time and leaves the room, we are treated to an ingame cutscene of him standing up again, apparently unharmed. The low texture resolution prevents us from seeing his eyes open per se, but it still fits the trope.
- In Leon's opening cinematic, a female zombie prone at Leon's feet does this just before waking up and latching onto his ankle.
- A variation of this happens in Tomb Raider: Underworld. On Jan Mayen Island, Lara Croft comes across a yeti-like beast sprawled on the floor, apparently dead. She comments on how it and its kind may have been the inspiration for the frost giants in Norse mythology, then starts to walk away...whereupon the creature lurches to its feet while her back is turned and attacks her.
- In Contra III: The Alien Wars, the final boss is a giant brain with an eye in the center. Once it's defeated, the player characters grab onto the missile hanging from a support helicopter and fly away. Playing on Easy or Normal difficulty leads to the brain reviving, the eye opening, and a deafening roar as the base explodes... Playing on Hard means the brain gets a brand new metallic Powered Armor and chases the heroes out of the base.
- In MOTHER 3, after you shut down the Ultimate Chimera, and everyone leaves the place thinking their nightmare is over, the bird sitting on its head pushes the button and the monster is once again activated.
- In one of the Transformers games Starscream does this with his eye lighting up followed by the camera zooming into it (you fight him again in the same game).
- The ending to Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus pans over the burning wreckage of Clockwerk, and one of his eye panels flicker back on.
- One of Alexandria Rovias' sanity effects during the main game has her playing some notes on a piano and then inspecting a man that seems to be hanging on a noose. The corpse then opens its eyes suddenly before a raspy voice shouts "The Darkness is Coming!", a voice that sounds very similar to that of Xel'latoth.
- This is the first action Ganon does after possessing Zelda in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
- At the end of Alpha Prime the protagonist who is dead - and, at this point, possibly no longer the original character at all is in a sort of transport pod in the Bigger Bad's ship. Cue blood-red eyes suddenly opening...
- The first cinematic to open Final Fantasy X has Tidus inside, resting on a bench as if he was asleep, the camera zooms in on a close-up on his face, and his eye opens as the opening bars to a heavy metal piece begin.
- Done in Warcraft III when Illidan awakens the Naga race. You see the eye of an underwater Eldritch Abomination open and the pupil contract.
- One episode of Adventures of the Gummi Bears features a giant doing this after Sunni and Cubbi botch up a ritual to keep him asleep.
- The chicken in Family Guy does the eye-opening variant.
- A variant of this happens in the G1 The Transformers cartoon. Megatron and a bunch of Decepticons got chucked into lava as a Disney Death and assumed dead. They can't shut their eyes being robots and whatnot, but a closeup on Megatron's face has his eyes light up as if he were to wake.
- Kenny does this in the South Park episode "Pink Eye", after being revived as a zombie. Of course, being Kenny, death or undeath doesn't stick.