Eye Take

The non-verbal Big "WHAT?!".

"In front of him just above the camera was a huge clock which, as the minutes passed and guests turned boring, he tended to stare at, waiting to be released from his role. One performance, when he wasn't looking, a member of the crew pushed back the hands of the clock fifteen minutes. Carson's momentary look of despair when he saw the clock got a laugh even though the audience had no idea why."
Gore Vidal on Johnny Carson, Point to Point Navigation

Occurs in a Reaction Shot. The character reacting to the outrageous whatever says nothing, but their eyes widen in a "these people are crazy" kind of way.

Compare Aside Glance when directed at the fourth wall, Fascinating Eyebrow when directed at the characters in question and Eye Pop for surprised cartoon character's eyes. May make use of Eyedscreen. Could be considered a subtrope of Facial Dialogue. Sometimes related to Oh Crap!. No relation to Eye Scream.


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     Anime and Manga 


  • This is the third-greatest standby of political cartoons, next to illuminating the topic with convenient newspapers and labeling every available surface whether it needs it or not. Strawman Political will give a proposal while an average Joe, or a member of the affected group (e.g. a child for school policy) looks on in goggle-eyed horror.
  • Happens a lot in FoxTrot.


  • Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks does this from time to time. One example is early in the film, when Mrs. Davis greets her with an apparent non sequitur.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Elijah Wood seems to have made a career out of this.
  • Withnail & I has a positively heart-wrenching Eye Take, showing the precise moment where Withnail and Marwood's friendship breaks down forever:
  • Golden Eye: General Ourumov gets one of these after witnessing Xenia gunning down the staff of the Severnaya bunker and having a bit too much fun in the process.
  • Hot Fuzz: Nick Angel's reaction to the town's version of Romeo and Juliet, specifically the upbeat song and dance number following Juliet's suicide.
  • Alpha and Omega: Eve's tends to get this reaction. Not so much the fact she's threatening someone with death, it's she does it with a happy, cheery voice. The third time, however, she's totally serious and everyone takes her as such.
  • In the Loop features a positively epic Eye Take as Malcolm figures out a way to avert his impending Villainous Breakdown.
  • The Three Stooges theatrical shorts were full of these, especially when other characters were confounded by the stooges' antics.
  • The Producers: The reaction shot of the audience after the opening number of "Springtime for Hitler". (They paid to see a Broadway musical titled "Springtime for Hitler"! What did they expect?)
  • "The Killing": George's reaction to his wife cheery claim that she was raped by the crew leader, which successfully made George confirm to her that it was the day of the rubbery.
  • In Braveheart, Robert the Bruce's eyes widen creepily when he sees Lochlan with a slit throat lying on his dinner table.

     Live Action Television  

  • * Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks does this from time to time. One example is early in the film, when Mrs. Davis greets her with an apparent non sequitur.
  • Newsradio: Often demonstrated by Dave Foley's character.
  • The X-Files: Gillian Anderson's eyebrows got a regular workout.
  • The Office: Jim Halpert (as played by John Krasinski) has elevated this into an art form on the U.S. version, as did his counterpart, Tim Canterbury in the original.
  • Hugh Laurie could be king of this trope. He basically eats the scenery with his eyes:
    • Bertie from Jeeves and Wooster
    • Doctors are meant to be unshockable, but House still finds plenty of excuses to be at the centre of an Eye Take.
  • Alias Smith and Jones has a nice example of an Eye Take in the pilot film, when Wheat Carlson encounters Heyes in the last place he ever expected.
  • The Thick of It: Peter Capaldi is a sufferer of ocular Chewing the Scenery. His character Malcolm Tucker gets several Eye Takes per episode, but the longest is probably the one of his eyes scanning the headline "MALCOLM TUCKER RESIGNS".
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003)'s Saul Tigh does this an awful lot, especially after losing one of his eyes in the third season.
  • Eddie.Cantor. Rumor has it that he used stunt eyes.
  • The Apprentice (UK): Nick and Margaret make fantastic use of Eye Takes, along with Aside Glances, Fascinating Eyebrows and Deadpan Snarks, to punctuate the more... questionable antics of the contestants.
  • The X Factor is punctuated with Eye Takes. Most of Simon Cowell's expressions say more than words ever could. In this clip Simon didn't even need to describe "the worst guitar solo I have ever heard in my life" as his eyes did it for him.
  • Nathan Barley was known for its liberal use of reaction shots.
  • Lost: In one hilarious scene, this is Ben's only reaction when Hurley attacks him... with a hot pocket.
    Ben: Hello Hugo.
    Hugo: AAAHHH! [hurls hot pocket at him]
    Ben's eyes: ...did that just happen?
  • Bones: Cam Saroyan does this a lot. It's all a part of being the Only Sane Employee...
  • Yes, Minister: Sir Humphrey Appleby would do this when Jim Hacker introduced something that threatened his interests.
  • In Babylon 5, Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari announces in council that under his people's new laws for the recently conquered Narn, the penalty for the murder of any Centauri by any Narn will be the execution of 500 Narns. The pak'ma'ra Ambassador features in an Eye Take, managing to pull off the look of shock despite the pak'ma'ra being Cthulhumanoid.
  • Doctor Who
    • The Fourth Doctor has really striking eyes and a tendency towards Comical Overreacting, so he does this almost constantly, usually getting a really big one as the lead-in to the Cliffhanger.
      • In "Robot, he goes over to a mirror to see his new face for the first time. His reaction is several seconds of boggle-eyed despair.
      • In "Robot", there's a scene where he scrutinises grass with a jeweller's lens wedged in his eye socket. When he's finished explaining to the Brigadier what his observations are, he takes the lens out without using his hands by bulging his eyes out so it drops into his hand.
      • For just one example, the five minute scene where he philosophises with Davros in "Genesis of the Daleks" contains two facial shots of him boggling with his eyes practically out on stalks, one after Davros tells him that he would wipe out every living thing in the universe if he could and the other just before grabbing his hand and torturing him into ordering the destruction of the Daleks. This is considered to be a relatively subtle and dark scene.
      • One cliffhanger (from "The Deadly Assassin") gives us this.
    • The Tenth Doctor does this when the Face of Boe tells him "You Are Not Alone".
    • Clara Oswald does this quite often when she's surprised or scared. She does a particularly distinct eye take after watching the Eleventh Doctor regenerate. Lampshaded in "Dark Water", when the Doctor complains about it - "How do you do that with your eyes? It's like they inflate."
    • The Twelfth Doctor does this from time to time. (Then again, he is played by the aforementioned Peter Capaldi.) He does a massive one at the end of "Dark Water" when Missy reveals who she is.
  • The Late Show with David Letterman: One edition of "Stupid Human Tricks" included a woman who could pop her eyeballs out of the sockets. She later had a brief career in commercials reacting to surprising things by popping her eyes.

     Professional Wrestling 

  • "The Franchise" Shane Douglas.
    • In Fall 1997, "Ravishing" Rick Rude had been acting as an adviser to ECW World Heavyweight Champion Shane Douglas, specifically picking Douglas' challengers for him.note  On the October 24, (taped October 16), 1997 episode of ECW Hardcore TV, Rude told Douglas that he had found him an opponent who had run roughshod over the WWF, over WCW, Japan and everywhere else that he had been. Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle" hit, bringing out Douglas' Triple Threat stablemate "The Beast from the East" Bam Bam Bigelow, revealing that Rude had double-crossed Douglas. When the music hit, Douglas had a true Eye Take. Bigelow won the title, his only singles World Title, that night.
    • Douglas called out Goldberg on the September 4, 2000 WCW Monday Nitro. As soon as Goldberg's music hit, Shane's eyes popped in a true Oh Crap!/My God, What Have I Done? moment. Shane recruited the Natural Born Thrillers (Shawn Stasiak, Chuck Palumbo, Mike Sanders, Mark Jindrak, Sean O'Haire, Reno [Rick Cornell] and Johnny the Bull [John "Johnny Stamboli"/"Rellik" Hugger] doing a weak Ur-Example of what The Nexus would be ten years later) to help him, and, even with 8 GUYS against him, Goldberg was still able to win the match.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

     Western Animation  
  • Transformers Animated: Done memorably in the premiere, when Optimus Prime learns where little organics come from.
  • Total Drama Island:
    • Characters tend to this in response to Chris mentioning something particularly dangerous about a challenge.
    • During the Aftermath segments of Total Drama Action after a particularly odd or unexpected moment (Eg- when a clip shows Trent sobbing hysterically and singing depressing heartbreak songs backstage) the camera would pan over to Noah and Cody either exchanging, '...Did we just see that?' glances or doing Eye Takes.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Spike at Your Service", Rainbow makes a throwaway comment about Applejack's unfinished novel. As Rainbow continues talking about her own novel, Applejack's eyes are clearly saying "How does she know about that?!"
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: In one episode Plucky is practicing eye takes, turning his whole body into a giant eye(the "Clampett Corneal Catastrophe"), and gets stuck that way.