Let's say that I want to portray that I've just done something evil. Well that would be your standard, "I've got a fish-hook in my eyebrow and I like it".
To portray amused superiority or superior amusement, the arched eyebrow is best way. It is a prime weapon in the expression arsenal for the Chess Master
, Manipulative Bastard
or (in possibly the most famous modern example, hence the trope name) The Spock
. It's often raised just as the heroes comprehend what the Evil Plan
was all about. For instance, finding out that by foiling one objective they helped their enemy achieve a second,
the planner will arched an eyebrow as if to say 'suckers!'.
This may accompany an Eye Take
: the raised brows make room for the widened eyes. And as Expressive Mask
shows, even glasses and masks don't get in the way of the eyebrow.
Like rolling one's tongue or performing Spock's other trademark
, this is not a talent everyone has. With enough dedication and some practice in a mirror, however, would-be Chess Masters can usually develop the skill.
Combine this with Twinkle Smile
, and you get the Dreamworks Face
This is not to be confused with Alistair Darling's eyebrows which, while fascinating, are rarely raised. Also not to be confused with Michael Dukakis's eyebrow-forests◊
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- Dreamworks' promotional posters do this ALL. THE. TIME. Actually, this applies to a lot of animated companies. The difference, of course, is that Disney, for example, generally limits it to an in-film expression unless it practically defines the character (there's a reason why Buzz Lightyear wears it on his poster and Princess Ariel doesn't, even though they both do it within their films).
- The Nostalgia Chick's review on the franchise talks about their habit of doing this in great detail.
- This has been termed The Dreamworks' Face.
- Although there's an inverse image macro parodying the one linked above making the claim that the same could be said about Pixar. Make of that what you will.
- A few times in Kyon Big Damn Hero, like Haruhi when Mikuru said her going to see a movie with Kyon wasn't a date before countering she saw both of them kissing.
- Child Of The Storm has this regularly, adopting from The Dresden Files the habit of referring to it as 'spocking' an eyebrow.
- A running joke in Mad World is of Zack trying, and failing, to copy Sephiroth's automatic eyebrow raise. Turns out to be a family trait - Vincent and Yazoo can do it too.
- "Gabriel gave Michael the highest raised eyebrow the latter had ever seen, much less received. He vaguely wondered if it had its own gravitational pull."
- Too many fanfics to count take Gaius's Fascinating Eyebrow Up to Eleven.
- The Killer Dame, a Star Trek: Voyager parody by Odon. Tuvok and Seven of Nine, both skilled practitioners of the Fascinating Eyebrow, use this as a means of communication when they're tied up by Hirogen captors.
The young Borg realised that Tuvok was enquiring if she was all right. Seven quirked her ocular implant in reply, conveying that such a question was irrelevant and she was currently trying to free her bonds. Tuvok raised his other eyebrow, conveying his disapproval at the emotion of arrogance that might distract one from the task at hand. Seven answered with a scowl, conveying that she was experiencing some difficulty with the knots but she was Borg and would adapt, and that she would be as arrogant as she wished thank you! Tuvok took a deep breath, dropped his eyebrows to normal level, then raised first the right brow, then the left brow, then both brows together, then the left, then the right brow, two raises of the left again, then a wiggle of his pointed ears, then a slight twitch of his right brow again, and last of all a final poetic dance of supercilium motion by the two hairy arches.
- Comes up a lot in The Twilight Child.
- Princess Celestia does it to her sister at one point, earning a rebuke.
- A paper-pusher Rainbow Dash is hassling does it, with the narration mentioning that most Equestrian bureaucrats learn this sooner or later.
- At one point Rainbow Dash herself does it, which shuts the main character up mid-rant. As she notes to herself, when Rainbow Dash is raising an eyebrow, it's time to stop what you're doing.
- MasakoX, co-creator of Naruto The Abridged Series and anime reviewer at That Guy with the Glasses, does this very often. Observe.
Films — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- Vetinari of Discworld fame often used the Fascinating Eyebrow along with a finishing blow in a verbal power struggle to make sure the opponent knows he's been defeated. (This is highlighted in Making Money, wherein Cosmo Lavish, one of the antagonists, actually practices raising one eyebrow in front of a mirror in an attempt to emulate the Patrician.) What's worse, Cosmo couldn't actually raise his eyebrow on his own. He has to rely on a small mechanical device to raise his eyebrow for him. There is a small asylum dedicated to people who think they are Vetinari. They have eyebrow-raising competitions.
- In The Dresden Files, Harry Dresden sometimes does this, referring to it as "Spocking an eyebrow".
- The bread and butter of all female characters in The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. Along with sniffing and (if they're Siuan Sanche) snorting.
- "Two-Bit" Matthews was a frequent user of the Fascinating Eyebrow in the novel The Outsiders. Ponyboy, the main character, tries to imitate this trick without success.
- Timothy Zahn likes reminding people that Grand Admiral Thrawn in The Thrawn Trilogy can cock his eyebrows. It's an Author Catchphrase.
- The protagonist of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. can raise one eyebrow and does it occasionally to get adults to stop asking her questions. She doesn't know why it has that effect, but it does.
- Snape from Harry Potter, in both the books and films.
- Vampires in The Hollows either gain this ability upon infection, or they all practice it because it looks so cool. Either way, Rachel is jealous.
- In the Trainspotting novel Mark Renton envies Sick Boy's ability to raise one eyebrow.
- The Queen's Thief LOVES this trope. Not only is the main character a master of this art, so is his love interest.
- Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice has a fascinating eyebrow that has a tendency to rise when she comes across things she finds particularly ridiculous or wryly amusing. It's one of the many pride things going on.
- In Chrome Circle by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon, Tannim's mentor, a dragon currently wearing human form, arrived (magically) in response to a call for aid and "raised one long eyebrow at Tannim in a gesture that Tannim knew perfectly well had been copied after long study of Leonard Nimoy."
- In The Mortal Instruments, Clary is annoyed when Jace does this at her, because it is an ability she has always envied. She gets even more annoyed when Magnus Bane turns out to be able to do it too.
- During Galaxy of Fear a rather absurd suggestion is made, and Hoole raises an eyebrow. Tash thinks that "it was as close as her stone-faced uncle would ever get to looking surprised."
- In "Royal Flash" Flashman has to impersonate a royal who has this Character Tic, and is driven to strange facial twitching while trying to rehearse it. Eventually the conspirators give up and just hope no-one notices his eyebrows go up in unison.
- The Rock brought the eyebrow to the people.
- Parodied by Triple H when he dressed up like The Rock in order to mock him, painting on an exaggerated eyebrow in pencil.
- Possibly the Trope Codifier? It is the PEOPLE'S eyebrow, after all.
- World of Warcraft has a predefined emote for this (/eyebrow), although it is not animated.
- The Sims from The Sims 2 does this when dancing. There's a bug that they could have this face even when they're not dancing.
- Shepard of Mass Effect seems to do this a lot.
- Legion also does this during his introductory cutscene. He explains the Geth designed his platform specifical to interact with organic lifeforms, so his eye-flaps move to simulate facial expressions.
- Legion also does this when you tell the customs officer that the two asari are not Geth because they don't have flashlights in their heads.
- Dr. Wily has turned this taunt into a running gag, though he also combines it with a weird sort of eyebrow-wiggle.
- Mr. House of Fallout: New Vegas is doing this on the picture displayed on his monitor. Since said picture is static, it means he's constantly making this expression.
- In Looking for Group, this seems to be Tavor's default facial expression. Unless he's scheming or angry, one eyebrow or the other is almost always raised.
- These◊ two◊ Harry Potter webcomic strips
- In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Princess Voluptua does this a lot, since she's got a royal sense of superiority, and she's got ginormous eyebrows that almost double as antennae.
- The titular character of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja likes this one. In a world where a ninja doctor is sometimes the Only Sane Man, this (and Eye Take) is gonna come up a lot.
- In the Photo Comic Romantically Apocalyptic, Mr. Snippy, or just Sniper, wears a pair of goggles that allow him to pull this off.
- Lackadaisy's Tracy J. Butler has seen quite enough of this face (dubbed the smarm brow)...and so has Aunt Nina.
- According to Cyanide and Happiness, it's infectious.
- In Girl Genius, Vanamonde von Mekkahn has displayed a rather wicked incarnation.
- In El Goonish Shive Ellen gives Justin a questioning variant here.
- In Mary Shelley's Frankenhole Jim Belushi desperatly tries to imitate John's trademark arched eyebrow to the point of tying a balloon to it.
- Johnny Bravo uses it when scoping out babes, or whenever the events around him confuse him. Considering the likelihood of either one, it's a wonder his eyebrows are ever down at all.
- Used many times in Avatar: The Last Airbender, mainly by Katara◊.
- The Legend of Korra: It must run in the family since her granddaughter Jinora has one when she sees Asami putting her hand on Korra. Evidently, she saw the subtext that was brewing between the two.
- Several character use this on Total Drama Island, the most prominent example being Noah who has this as his default expression. Even while asleep.
- Part and parcel with the more dynamic and emotive designs of Transformers Animated, and not just the humans, either. Ratchet has some excellent ones when trying to understand the younger members of the team, and even Prowl with his highway patrol shades gets in one or two Fascinating Optic Ridge moments, to humorous effect.
- In Transformers Prime, with the somewhat more emotive movie based altmodes, Optimus Prime does this, when Miko and Raf lie to him about Bots being involved in street racing.
- Used one time by a car dealer on Futurama upon Amy mentioning how rich her parents were. He had to physically restrain it.
- In Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Lex Luthor did quite an impressive version of this when Power Girl walked into his office with "something to talk about." Given that Power Girl, is, erm, powerful even by DC's standards, one can't help but be suspicious of his intentions.
- In Fireman Sam, Station Master Steele's face appears to be stuck this way.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Princess Celestia does this near the end of "Lesson Zero", as Twilight's friends are taking the blame for her casting a spell that makes the entire town fight over a doll so that she could learn some sort of lesson about friendship to send her for that week.
- Octavia, one of the many fan-favourite background characters, pulls this expression in "The Best Night Ever" when Pinkie makes a request. Even her wiki page uses it.
- Well, well, well. It seems we have some neigh-sayers among the Tropers! Even if Celestia and Octavia can pull off the Fascinating Eyebrow, the fact remains that THE GREAT AND POWERFUL TRIXIE can do it◊ better! In fact, she does it at least one time other than during her episode.
- Applejack◊ has a pretty good one as of season 4, episode "Three's a Crowd", showing her suspicions at Discord's antics.
- Owlowiscious' design doesn't really allow for much of one, but in "Inspiration Manifestation" he's definitely giving the same spirit in his look at Spike when Rarity starts going off the deep end.
- Reducto in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law does this in an early episode, complete with inner monologue lampshading that he's doing it.
I'm scheming. This is my scheming face. First I raise this eyebrow, and then—BACK OFF!
- Raven does this in Teen Titans when in response to wondering why her teammates, sans Robin, were pretending to be Robin, Beast Boy retorts, "You know you wanna try it."
- One of Stephen Colbert's trademark moves. Currently provides the page image.
- Vivien Leigh.
- Roger Moore used the expression often as The Saint and as James Bond. This site goes into further detail.
- Jeremy Irons' eyebrows will often outact him (the same way as he outacts the rest of the cast).
- Julie Benz.
- Comedian Andy Hamilton complains that he can't get his eyebrow not to do this, so everyone always thinks he's being sarcastic.
- Comedian Angus Deayton had this pretty much wherever he appeared, really.
- Richard Speight Jr doesn't only use this on Supernatural.
- Angelina Jolie
- Much of the appeal of British News Reader, Fiona Bruce is her perpetually cocked eyebrow.
- British Newsreader, George Aligiah likewise seems to have his eyebrow fixed into this position.
- Football manager Carlo Ancelotti does this whenever interviewed, to hilarious effect.
- Hugh Dennis. It appears that one of his eyebrows just naturally sits about a centimetre above the other.
- Kylie Minogue. Her right eyebrow is naturally higher than the other, but it's become more obvious in recent years due to her admission to using Botox.
- Gary Barlow. Not only is his right eyebrow higher than the other, it sometimes seems to have life of its own.
- Elton John has animated eyebrows when singing.
- American actor J. R. Martinez's left eyebrow has been frozen in this position ever since his hummer blew up while serving in the Middle East.
- Chris Evans.
- Makeup is sometimes employed to give eyebrows a rather more pronounced arch than is natural. Done well, this puts the peak of the eyebrow on the (more mobile and therefore more expressive) forehead instead of along the supraorbital ridge without being too noticeable. Done poorly, the person appears as if they are in a constant state of open-eyed wonderment. As far as glamour makeup goes, it's more common on women who learned their makeup techniques at a time when the very thin extremely high arch was "in". Women who started using makeup in the late 1960s or later tend to go for a more "natural" look. On stage it's used to allow subtle changes of expression to be seen easily even in the "cheap seats".