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Eyes Are Mental
Giles: How did you know it was me?
Buffy: Your eyes. You're the only person in the world that can look that annoyed with me.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "A New Man"

It seems that by some law of Shapeshifter Baggage, Shape Shifters are unable to change their eyes, no matter how skilled they are at changing form. Showing the eye changing or corrupting into that of a different species is an effective way of showing mental takeover or transformation-induced humanity loss thanks to this. See Glamour Failure for a similar trope and Voices Are Mental for the vocal version of this trope.

A specific type of Morphic Resonance.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Rave Master used this straight. When they were in the Demon Lord's aircraft, they split from Musica, who was believed to have died by everyone but Haru. They then encountered a werewolf who was then turned back to Musica, by a magical Elixir.
  • You can tell when someone is possessed in Yumekui Merry by their eyes. Or the audience can. It's never made clear if the characters can tell.

Comic Books
  • In Ultimate Fantastic Four, Johnny Storm cheers up Ben Grimm by commenting that his eyes never changed. The dialogue went something like this:
    Johnny: Your eyes never changed, you know.
    Ben: Huh?
    Johnny: Your eyes never changed. I mean, yeah, the rest of you is a freak, but your eyes are still the same.
    Ben: You noticed my eyes?
    Johnny: I notice stuff. I'm not smart like Reed or Sue, but I notice stuff.
    • Which is why Ben is "the ever-lovin' blue-eyed Thing."

Film
  • Scanners. The ending.
  • A non-monster example in Heaven Can Wait (1978). At the end of the movie, when Betty looks into Jarrett's eyes she recognizes that he's actually Joe in Jarrett's body.
  • One of the ways the audience can tell who the prawn shown at the end of District 9 is, is by its eyes. It has one blue eye and one yellow one, just as Wikus did around the 72nd hour of his transformation into a prawn.
  • Borderline example in Hook. In this case the "monster" is just a grown up, but a lost boy recognizes him as The Pan after looking into his eyes.
  • Mystique from the X-Men movies usually has a perfect disguise, but her reptilian-like eyes will occasionally flash while in another form.
  • In Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland it's not revealed to the audience that the Cheshire cat has transformed into the Mad Hatter until he looks up and we see his cat eyes.

Literature
  • Interesting Times: "Gods can take any form, but the one aspect of themselves they cannot change is their eyes, which show their nature." The Lady and Fate are mentioned as specific examples.
    • In the same vein, Teatime's eyes in Resurrection Men are a fanfic example.
    • This applies to everyone in the Discworld universe. Nothing magical can change the appearance of a creature's eyes, even though you can potentially change every other part of their body.
  • The master in Krabat has magic to take on a different appearance, but he'll always be missing the one eye he lacks in real life. Also applies to animals he creates. (When Krabat tries to run away, he repeatedly meets black animals with one eye - it's not sure whether they're the shapeshifted master, or created by him.)
  • Inverted in Animorphs #6 The Capture. After the group has realized that Jake is being controlled by a Yeerk, one of them looks in his eyes and comments that "all {they} can see is Jake". However, it was the brief look of intense hatred in his eyes that tipped off Ax in the first place.
  • In Robin McKinley's first Beauty and the Beast book, Beauty, the most unsettling thing about the Beast's appearance is that while the rest of him is completely monstrous, his eyes are human.

Live Action TV
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "A New Man" Giles is transformed into a Fyarl demon. None of the Scoobies realize this, and instead want to know what the demon has done with Giles. Buffy recognizes Giles when she looks into his eyes (while she has him pinned down and is beating the shit out of him), because apparently there is no one in the world who can look that annoyed with her.
  • In Stargate SG-1, Kawalsky is revealed to be possessed by a Goa'uld when he looks at the screen (but not the rest of the cast) with the Glowing Eyes of Doom that the Goa'uld usually flash for dramatic effect.

Mythology and Folklore
  • This is Older Than Feudalism. Slavic oral tradition dictates that werewolves have human-y eyes while in wolf form.

Video Games
  • Kingdom Hearts II: Riku has taken the form of the last game's Big Bad to fight The Heartless. When Sora is reunited with Riku, he only believes it's him when he sees, well, Riku's heart. But after he realizes who it is, Riku's eyes, and voice, change back to normal.
  • In King's Quest VI, the genie is a shapeshifter who always has golden glinting eyes, even in nonhuman form. Noticing this allows you to avoid getting tricked or killed by him.

Web Comics
  • In Last Res0rt, Alice Quinn cannot change her dead eyes. Jigsaw, after absorbing her shapeshifting, can.
  • In S.S.D.D, when a copy of the Oracle possesses Central his avatar has the Old Man's blue triangle eyes.

Western Animation
  • Beauty and the Beast: Belle is not fully convinced that the transformed prince is in fact the Beast, until she takes a good look at his eyes.
  • A one-off villain from Darkwing Duck, called the Chameleon, could turn into practically anything, but her eyes remained unchanged. Oddly enough, the characters never mention this and are only able to tell who she is by the hiss in her voice.
  • In Around the World with Willy Fog, Master of Disguise Transfer looks and sounds exactly like whoever he's impersonating, but he has a characteristic evil glint in his eye to tip the viewer off. (As in the Darkwing Duck example, the characters never notice this.)
  • In Code Lyoko, when XANA possesses someone, the only visual clue is their eyes flickering and switching between normal and XANA's eye-like symbol. The same goes for polymorphic clones as well.
  • When Ghostfreak became a separate evil entity in Ben10, people who were possessed by him would have his eyes instead of theirs.
  • Gravity Falls has an odd example: when Dipper's body is taken over by Bill Cipher, his pupils become slits like Bill's, but his eyes also become yellow, even though Bill's eye is white.


Extended DisarmingExample as a ThesisThe Eyes Have It
Eyes Always ShutEye TropesEyes Are Unbreakable

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