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Faceless Eye

Got no human grace, your eyes without a face.
Billy Idol, "Eyes Without A Face"

As other tropes indicate, eyes are very, very meaningful. It's a cliché to call them windows to the soul. This trope reminds us that alone, eyeballs are fragile spheres of gel only vaguely reminiscent of their usual purpose of subtle social cues. So a single eye completely outside the context of a face is just creepy. Bad guys often favor a singular, unblinking, Faceless Eye as an insignia— bonus points if said villain runs a dystopian society of unending surveillance. Even without an ominous Big Bad attached, the prospect of a thousand eyeballs shooting you to death with Eye Beams is fundamentally more unsettling than a thousand Mooks with Frickin' Laser Beams. Fighting them usually leads to "Go for the Eye".

A cyclops character is more relatable than this kind of being, since cyclopes have a recognizable facial structure, with at least a mouth. These examples are far beyond the edges of the Uncanny Continent. It is also interesting to note that the representations of many insane AIs use this trope - most likely to underscore their creepiness.

Of course, being long past the Uncanny Valley already, these examples often also involve Technicolor Eyes, Hellish Pupils, and Red Eyes, Take Warning. Contrast The Blank and Eyeless Face. If an eye is on a part of the body other than the face, it's Eyes Do Not Belong There. See also Oculothorax for monsters whose body is primarily an eyeball. Since they are mostly an eye, they tend to be evil.

Examples

Advertising
  • Vision Express, a chain of opticians in the UK, started an advertising campaign in 2009 using pairs of identically-dressed people with giant eyeballs for heads. Here. Is probably meant to be goofy rather than creepy.

Anime
  • "The Eye" is an insignia for the Priesthood in the Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind manga.
  • The Gate of Truth in Fullmetal Alchemist has a huge disembodied eye visible in the darkness on the other side of it. Likewise, Father's original form was a black shadow-ball that could display a single eye (and a Slasher Smile).
  • Gegege No Kitaro has Kitaro's father Medama-Oyaji the eyeball (semantic translation, "Old Man Eyeball") (it's a long story) and the evil Backbeard, an incredibly creepy-looking black ball of prickly menace who'd be truly terrifying if most of his evil schemes didn't consist of crap like this.
  • In Tower of God, Scout has a tool called Observer. In Miseng's case, it is a floating eyeball.
  • In the first season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Bardiche's Power Crystal revealed a slitted eye when it gets activated. This trait seemed to have disapppeared after Fate's Heel-Face Turn.
  • Odin in Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok is only seen as a single All-Seeing Eye; either floating in the sky or in a crystal ball.
  • The true form of Mai-HiME's Obsidian Lord is a giant eyeball centered within a pair of sword-like pillars.
  • One of Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro's 777 Tools of Hell is Evil Friday, a swarm of little eyeballs with legs that he can see through. While most commonly used for research, reconnaissance, and tracking, they're shown to have lives and personalities of their own, and one memorable aside shows that they enjoy participating in racing. Why Evil Friday? Who knows?
  • One of Gaara's powers was the Eye of Sand, which he used for spying, as well as to see outside the shell of sand he once used to conceal a Transformation Sequence.
  • The Gizmon of Digimon Savers are something of a mechanical version of this trope.
  • Pygmalion had a floating eyeball in the protagonist's party. Could become big enough for the hero to ride it.

Card Games

Comic Books
  • A superhero from 1939 named the Eye.
  • An evil alien (masquerading as a superhero) Wandering Eye in the comic Wildguard: Casting Call.
  • Also plays a role in V for Vendetta.
  • Several characters in comics, such as Marvel's The Orb, wear eyeball-shaped helmets, usually with a laser or other weapon in the pupil. Oddly enough, these characters are always villains. Wonder why?
  • The Eye of Ekron, the floating, intelligent weapon of the Emerald Empress in Legion of Super-Heroes. However, as 52 revealed, there is an Emerald Head of Ekron which is looking for the eye.
  • The Justice League of America villain Starro is a Faceless Eye attached to a five-tentacled starfish-like body.
  • The Evil Eye from the strip of the same name in the british comic Whoopee was just that; a disembodied eye that floated in the air, trying to get people to do bad things by 'zapping' them with some sort of evil ray, and taking delight in the mischief.
  • Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: Part of the Empurata process involves the victims having their faces surgically removed and placed with a new, completely featureless head that usually features one blinking light standing in for their eyes.

Film
  • Eyes Without a Face, Georges Franju's 1959/1960 Films Gaumont picture, features fun, staring creepiness that will scare anyone afraid of dolls with lifelike eyes. Real horror and the source of Mr. Idol's fascination with the topic, in the first place.
  • Sauron's emblem is the fiery Lidless Eye. He's physically depicted as such in The Movies— which makes him a living Clear Eyes ad, only without Ben Stein, and therefore, slightly less frightening.
  • The B-Movie, The Crawling Eye, aka The Trollenberg Terror.
  • One of the monsters in Voyage Into Space was a giant disembodied floating eye.
  • The 1993 movie Freaked contains two faceless, machine gun-wielding Rastafarian eyeballs.
  • The movie Small Soldiers featured Ocula, a creature with a single giant eye, a neck/eyestalk, and three legs.
  • The eyes in the darkness at the beginning of Suspiria.
  • As mentioned in the description above, possibly the most iconic use of this trope for an insane AI is HAL-9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • The President's Analyst has a scene (that's curiously gone missing) where James Coburn is shocked to discover there are indeed spies following him including his girlfriend and freaks out, seeing disembodied looming eyeballs everywhere (with footage pulled from the 1961 3-D movie "The Mask").
  • The Film Planet 51 has these as the alien invaders (on an alien world) in a movie set in the clasic sense of 1950s B-movies and it features a whole bunch of them in the closing credits (of the actual film).

Literature
  • Lord of the Rings and the Eye of Sauron. To quote Saruman: "His gaze pierces cloud, shadow, earth, and flesh. You know of what I speak, Gandalf: a great Eye, lidless, wreathed in flame."
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events's odious Count Olaf has a tattoo of an eye on his ankle, and eyes are a recurring motif throughout the books.
  • Animorphs has Crayak, a red-eye being first glimpsed in the dying visions of a Yeerk in Book Six. It's one of several ShoutOuts to the Lord of the Rings.
  • The Eye In The Door by Pat Barker. It wasn't a real eye, just a peephole to spy on prisoners, but it had a similar effect.
  • Umbridge keeps a magical eyeball in her door in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. That one was especially disturbing, since it confirmed that Moody was indeed dead and Umbridge took his eye.
  • The repressive theocratic government of Gilead, in Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale, employs internal spies known as Eyes to monitor the population, and their logo is (what else?) an eye.
  • Similarly, Barrayar's Imperial Security uses the Eye of Horus for its insignia.
  • The Ringworld has eye storms, caused when a meteor puncture in the Ring bed drops air pressure sharply; Coriolis effects shape the surrounding cyclone into a miles-high lidded eye shape. The first time the protagonists saw one, it gave Speaker to Animals a Heroic BSOD due to his odd religious upbringing.
  • The Graii from Classical Mythology were a trio of hags who lived "north of the North Pole" with only one eye amongst them, which they who would trade around when they wanted to see something. Perseus gets ahold of it and squeezes it in his hand until the hags give him information he needs to continue his quest.
  • The Haunter in the Dark (one of Nyarlathotep's many avatar's) from a H.P. Lovecraft story of the same name does have a body (some kinds of winged, tentacled Living Shadow / Eldritch Abomination type thing), but it's distinguishing feature is a huge three-lobed burning eye.
  • The god Blind Io in Discworld has no eyes on his face, but a whole host of flying eyes (complete with wings and trailing optic nerve...) which can see anywhere in the world.
    • There is also a passing reference to a painting whose eyes "followed you not only around the room, but also out of the gallery and all the way down the street".
  • In Kingdoms of Light, the Sea of Blue is in fact a colossal eye, known to the creatures of that sea ans the Eye of the Beholder.
  • Stephen King's The Stand has Randall Flagg using a disembodied eye to spy on some of the good guys.

Live-Action TV
  • Doctor Who:
    • Daleks have a periscope of varying design over the years in their giant-pepper-pot-of-death power armor, matching their single biological eye.
    • The Ambassador from Alpha Centauri who appeared in a couple of '70s stories was basically a big eyeball on legs.
    • The Atraxi from "The Eleventh Hour" are in fact nothing but giant floating space eyeballs, held aloft by a vaguely snowflake-shaped ring.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Beljoxa's Eye. What happened to the rest of Beljoxa?
  • Angel had the psychic/psychotic surgeon in "I Fall to Pieces", and he used his eyes and other detached body parts to spy on the girl he was stalking.
  • Garth Marenghi's Darkplace episode Skipper the Eyechild features the titular monster baby who is mostly eye. Skipper's eyeball father also appears.

Music
  • Experimental Rock group The Residents usually hide their faces with large eyeball masks. The only member that doesn't wear one of these wears a large black skull mask, due to the original mask being stolen and vandalized during a tour. These masks have become a cult icon of sorts.
  • The Tom Waits song Eyeball Kid is about a child who is born as just an eye and details his life as a successful circus freak.
  • The Alan Parsons Project's best known song, "Eye In The Sky" from the album of the same name, is a person telling his/her significant other (in a very creepy and vindictive fashion) that he/she knows the other's been cheating and is tired of pretending to be ignorant of it. The cover of the album... the Eye of Horus.
  • The music video for Gotye's Coming Back features a bunch of aliens with giant yellow eyes for faces.
  • The members of Sakanaction are shown playing with their heads covered by giant eyeball masks in the video for "Endless".

New Media
  • This YouTube video. "There is a giant eyeball and it is looking at us!"

Newspaper Comics
  • One strip of The Far Side had an eye called "Mr. Pembrose" resting on a psychiatrist's couch.

Pinball

Tabletop Games
  • In Warhammer 40,000 games, the symbol of Chaos (an eight-pointed star) is often depicted as having an eye or a skull in the center of the star. The Eye of Horus, an emblem of the Black Legion, is an eye incorporated into the eight-point star..
  • In Paranoia, Friend Computer is usually represented as a monitor with a single giant eyeball.
  • Call of Cthulhu has Groth, a planet sized eyeball that floats through space.
  • Everquest - One class of monsters ia a group of small eyeball ISLANDS! (their upper lids are covered with cracks and mountains). Another monster was a gelatinous, red-veined eyeball that attached itself to ceilings and used its wet tentrils to snatch unwary prey.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons the lich-slash-god Vecna could transform an especially devoted cultist into one of two emissaries named for the two powerful artifacts named for him, this one being The Eye of Vecna—a humanoid figure with a gigantic eyeball where a human head used to be possessed of telepathic awareness that allows him to finish the sentence of others as the least of what he can do.

Video Games
  • MARDEK: Chapter 3 has giant-floaty-eye monsters called I-Orbs and Black Eyes, as well as several sessile-eyestalk monsters with varying powers. Despite appearances, these should not be taken lightly.
    It can see right into the very core of your soul. It judges you, and looks for your fears and weaknesses. It doesn't really do anything with any of this knowledge though.
  • The Legend of Zelda has a ton of enemies like this, bosses and otherwise. Most bosses you have to hit in the eye to kill, including Gohma, Wart, Bongo-Bongo, and Morpheel. Vaati of Four Swords, oddly enough, didn't have his eye as his weakness.
    • The trope is most vividly present in the The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past boss called Vitreous, which was a giant eyeball surrounded by a dozen or so smaller eyeballs.
    • Indeed, A Link To The Past had no fewer than three bosses who were nothing but eye(s). Arrghus, Kholdstare, and the aforementioned Vitreous.
  • Castlevania
  • The Reaverbots of Mega Man Legends are all monocular.
  • Altered Beast has its level 2 boss.
  • A level in Zeliard features enemies that are just giant eyeballs, capable of rushing at you at high speed.
  • Waddle Doo, an early enemy in the Kirby games, as well as Dark Matter, 02, and Dark (Nebula/Zero).
    • The Kirby series loves this trope more than that. Most of the time as scary. Most of the final bosses are an eye or multiple eyes without a face. Other common enemies are this trope, but hardly scary.
  • Rularuu Watchers in City of Heroes. Giant eyeballs with teeth-edged eyelids. The also tend to gaze around in sync when idle, indicating even more that they are all connected to the same mind. They attack with Eye Beams and a sort of terrifying chomp attack. With really good accuracy, being, yanno, giant eyeballs.
  • Plane vs Eye from MySims.
  • The briefing image of the Overmind in Starcraft is a creepy tendril-covered eye floating in red goop. It's a remarkably expressive eye, swivelling around and shaking about in tune with the Overmind's "speech"
  • Mr. I from Super Mario 64.
  • Almost every single roguelike has them. Their usual power is paralysis and they are usually harmless when encountered alone. Nethack and Angband have floating eyes.
  • Demon's Crest on the SNES features the hidden boss Ovnunu, a collective of eyeballs suspended in green jelly.
  • Dragon Quest/Dragon Warrior includes several eyeball-themed monsters, in particular the Darkeye. And an eye monster in a boot called a Skipper.
  • Grandia II has the Eye of Valmar. The manifestation of the Eye itself looks more like some sort of pineapple that opens to reveal some eyes and tendrils, but it employs floating eyes that have the power to put people into an endless sleep. It's also That One Boss.
  • The GeGeGe no Kitaro Famicom game has a Backbeard as a boss, which was also in the manga.
  • The Old God C'Tun from World of Warcraft is a bossfight with two stages. The first stage is against the Eye of C'Tun, which is (surprise, surprise!) a humongous eyeball that can fire an Eye Beam which kills players in one hit. After defeating the eye, his body rises from the ground for the stage two of the fight. Also in Warcraft, the warlock/ogre mage spell Eye of Kilrogg summons a floating green eye that serves as an extension of the caster's sight.
  • Many Pokémon, including the Magnemite family and Unown. Duskull is strange, as it has one pupil, but wears a human-skull-mask over it. In the 3D Pokemon games, Duskull's eye switches from eyehole to eyehole whenever it wants to. Its body also appears hollow inside, implying that its "eye" is more like a lamp wavering back and forth inside, perhaps being its soul or something.
  • The "Mind's Eye" creatures in 3 in Three.
  • The "Orbs" from the obscure Sierra Manhunter Adventure Games.
  • The Mother Brain from Metroid, especially in the Zero Mission remake and Super Metroid.
  • Ameno-sagiri, the fake final boss in Persona 4.
  • The Evil Eye and Electro Swoosh enemies in EarthBound.
  • The final boss of Pandemonium.
  • Soul Edge developed a Faceless Eye when the series changed names to Soul Calibur, and retains it in all its "awakened" forms.
  • The second stage of the original R-Type has swarms of small enemies who look like eyeballs with undulating tails.
  • The Rhombulans in Elite Beat Agents are led by an eye in a polygon. It narrows when it gets pissed off.
  • The Dark Castle games include giant floating eyeballs as enemies. Some are wreathed in perpetual flame; others cry tears of acid.
  • Shaddai, one of YHVH's avatars in Shin Megami Tensei II
  • Ichimokuren in Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army and Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon.
  • In Deus Ex, one of the evil AI's, Icarus, is represented by a single eyeball connected to some kind of organic machinery.
  • Wild ARMs 3 loves this, having three bosses that fit this bill, Mono-eye Titan, Hecto-eye Titan, and Heimdall. The first two are faced consecutively without a chance to save in between, and the third is a powerful Bonus Boss.
  • The Tool gig in Guitar Hero: World Tour has one of these. Tool didn't want the usual background of a virtual performance to accompany their songs, and instead created an animated background for the gig that incorporates several artistic motifs from their past album art and music videos, of which eyes feature in fairly prominently. Also arguably counts as an Eldritch Abomination.
  • Speaking of Guitar Hero, Neversoft's corporate logo has a faceless eye for their "O". Most of their Vanity Plates for their Tony Hawk games play with this; not so much for their Guitar Hero plates.
  • And speaking of Rhythm Games, one of the Rock Band venues has a gigantic image of an eyeball (which appears to look in different directions during the performance) at the back of the stage. Surrounded by rings of teeth with tentacles coming out of the back of the stage.
  • The Eyeballus Jiggium plants in Banjo-Tooie.
  • The Wise One of Golden Sun fame is a rock... with a bright green eye embedded in it.
    Garet: Yeah, I know it's a rock, stupid!
  • The Suezo monsters from Monster Rancher were essentially this. They got mostly psychic attacks, and eye beams.
  • The Ahriman family of monsters from the Final Fantasy series.
  • In La-Mulana, a large floating eye chases you through the lowest level of the Endless Corridor. You cannot harm it until you kill a hideously weird thing entirely made of eyes.
  • Wizeman in NiGHTS, more or less. His eyes are in his hands, not his face.
  • The alien enemies of early FPS The Colony were eyeballs atop geometric solids, because the computing horsepower of 1988 didn't allow for 3D humans like the programmer had wanted.
  • In Eversion, normal enemies turn into faceless eyes in world X-4.
  • The personality cores form Portal are all talking spheres with one eye in the centre. The most notable of the bunch is Wheatley from Portal 2.
  • .hack: Corbenik's third and final form is a massive floating eye, with hundreds of similar eyes flying about in the background (which is weird, since Corbenik's first two forms were a seed and a leaf... how does that trend continue to eye?)
  • Heroes of Might and Magic III has two examples, both are giant eyes on tentacles, the Beholder/Evil Eye creature and the Seer's Eye, which works as a typical videogame security camera.
  • The Gran Centurio of Yggdra Union features a disembodied eye as its pommel jewel, which is unnerving if you notice it, but not brought up in the storyline of the main game. The side materials inform us that yes, this is actually someone's eye, which he himself tore out to use in the sword's forging.
  • The Geth, Mecha-Mooks who form the forces of the Big Bad in the first Mass Effect, have long heads terminating in glowing "eyes" and nothing else except armour, with one character commenting that they have "flashlight heads". They're portrayed in a less overtly hostile light in the sequel... conveniently coinciding with a Geth "character" gaining something closer to a face. Added for good reason; Legion's headflaps were specifically installed to help it/him/them emote to players and characters, since otherwise Legion could not easily convey body language and facial expressions. The flaps also help make Legion absolutely Adorkable.
  • 343 Guilty Spark is a robotic version.
  • One of the player models in Quake III: Arena - Orbb - is a giant eye with legs.
  • The boss at the end of Metal Slug 3's second level are six floating giant aliens with humanoid bodies, but with single eyestalks where their heads should be.
  • In Parodius for the MSX, the boss of Stage 5 is a female version of Medama-Oyaji.
  • Terraria has the Demon Eye enemy that torments players who venture outside at night, and its King Mook the Eye of Cthulhu, which starts of as just a giant Demon Eye. It then grows a mouth.
  • Half-Life 2 has the Combine's City Scanners, which are robotic Faceless Eyes that fly. Their sole purpose is to act as a surveillance system for the Combine.
  • Kineticlops from War Of The Monsters is a vaguely humanoid Energy Being focused around one giant eye.
  • The 2011 Halowe'en update in Team Fortress 2 introduced MONOCULUS!, a giant floating eyeball which launches smaller eyeballs as rockets when it's pissed. It's backstory is that the spirit in the bombnomicon, an eldrich tome of explosives, haunted the Demoman's eye.
  • The Mogall and Arch Mogall monster classes in Fire Emblem Gaiden and Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones.
  • A stylized single eye is the emblem for the Haunted Castle Hang Castle Zone in Sonic Heroes. It's placed on all of the castle's waving flags and appears to be the signature of its former owner.
  • The NES game Solstice has enemies which appear to be floating eyeballs with long cloaks covering what could possibly be a body.
  • Alexander the Great from Bioshock 2 is only seen as an eye on a screen from his personal flying guard bot.
  • Ur-Example for video games in the Ur First Person Shooter, the players in Mazewar are represented as these.
  • Iggy's Reckin' Balls has I-Ball, who is, well, an eyeball. His high-pitched, kind of nerdy voice lightens the creepy factor, but his painful scream upon being hurt and the fact that he grapples with what appears to be a spear (conjuring images of Eye Scream) cranks it back up.
  • In Cookie Clicker, this is revealed to be the final form of Santa Claus, as of version 1.0402.

Web Comics
  • At one point Vexxarr encounters some evil plant AIs who look like bloodshot eyeballs with some leaves and tendrils added. He also has a Starfish Alien shipmate who is composed entirely of eyestalks, and his own face consists entirely of one huge eye, which is usually glaring/scowling.
  • 8-Bit Theater at one point has a passing reference to Black Mage invoking "my new god, Mst'r Ieb'al". Guess what he looked like.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! has Officer Zodboink, a member of a race of Starfish Aliens with heads that look like giant eyeballs.
  • Ebbirnoth from Schlock Mercenary The fact that Ebbirnoth (and Uniocs in general) have a faceless eye is actually a minor plot point during one of the Credomar arcs-someone "headshots" Ebby, blasting out his eyeball and seriously pissing him off. Schlock realizes the mistake that's been made, and encourages the lieutenant to play dead; the sniper was human, and didn't realize that Unioc brains are kept in a bone cage in their pelvis.
  • Odineye from Brat-Halla is one of Odin's eyes that he sacrificed to the Well of Wisdom; it escaped and is plotting revenge for its treatment. It doesn't have a lid, but for some reason it does have a brow.
  • Leth Hate has God, who has an eyeball for a head. For expressiveness's sake, his iris has an eyebrow and his pupil has an eyelid.

Web Original

Western Animation

Real Life


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