Fish Eyes

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"I can't stop looking into those entrancing eyes... Can she see all around her? Maybe she can see through the very fabric of time and space!"

How do you make a blank stare even blanker? Have the character's eyes face slightly (or even more than slightly) away from each other — reverse cross-eyes, if you will. It's usually used to make the character look unintelligent or dumbfounded, causing it to become known as "derp eyes" in some Internet circles. In real world English this is called "wall-eye" or "squint", and in medical jargon "exotropia".

Sometimes however, they can be used for a more serious effect, such as showing that a character's mental stability is loosening, emphasizing an emotion (commonly anger or happiness); sometimes this is done when a character mocks another, or to emphasize that they act in a way unlike they usually do.

A particularly common form of Off Model in both hand drawn and computer generated 2D animation, especially when depicting an aside glance.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Arts 
  • Michelangelo's David, believe it or not. Deliberate, because Michelangelo knew both eyes couldn't be viewed at once, and made each profile fill different artistic roles.

    Comic Strips 
  • Matt Groening's Life in Hell would use a slight wall-eye effect on characters who were despairing about something. Doubtlessly influenced the early Simpsons examples.

    Fanfic 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Godzilla, whenever portrayed by a suit that had fixed eyes.
  • Igor from Young Frankenstein (pictured above).
  • Jeebs in Men in Black.
  • In Ella Cinders, Ella does this when practicing different looks from a book on how to be an actor. She then starts moving either eye independently. It's a rather unsettling split-screen effect.
  • The Mad Hatter in the Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland. This, combined with his bright orange hair and insane demeanor, is a result of severe mercury poisoning.

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 

    Pinballs 
  • Bud of No Good Gofers has fish eyes that regularly roll in opposite directions.
  • Q*Bert has this expression in the lower-left corner of the Q*Bert's Quest playfield.

    Video Games 
  • All passive (harmless) mobs in Minecraft. Since eyes are only two pixels wide by one pixel tall, it was either that or crossed eyes, which are used for the default player character skin and for wolves and ocelots, to make them look more intelligent.
  • Masada (or that guy with the piano) in Yume Nikki.
  • A kangaroo enemy in Dynamite Dux has these.
  • Lemmy Koopa from Super Mario Bros. has a lazy eye, that sometimes invokes this trope.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Ruby-Spears's Mega Man has had this photoshopped to the point of Memetic Mutation.
  • On SpongeBob SquarePants this is done a few times. Most notably in the episode 'Selling Out', done by the new manager, Carl. The only time he doesn't do this is when he narrows his eyes at Mr. Krabs, but he's back to his glasgow-style smile and literal fish eyes afterwards.
  • Luigi briefly wears this expression at the end of the Super Mario World episode "The Yoshi Shuffle".
  • Seen a few times in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, often as a Freeze-Frame Bonus due to typically being an animation error:
    • Derpy Hooves is an interesting case: her Fan Nickname (which was briefly adopted in part to be her canon name) comes from this, yet she's just as often seen Comically Cross-Eyed. She inverts this as her eyes usually face inward.
    • One background pony (called Cloud Kicker) in "Griffon the Brush Off" can be seen making a crazy "shocked" face, complete with fish-eyes, when Gilda scares off Fluttershy. The same background pony makes another fish-eyed face in "Hurricane Fluttershy".
    • Rainbow Dash briefly wears this expression in "Fall Weather Friends" while trying to laugh off Twilight Sparkle's suspicions.
    • Pinkie Pie wears this expression during her infamous Sanity Slippage in "Party of One" whenever she is puppeteering the friends that she created for Gummy's after-birthday party.
    • Twilight Sparkle lapses into this several times during her brief struggle with mental instability in "Lesson Zero".
    • The toys of Princesses Celestia and Luna tend to suffer from this, as do the Miniature Collection toy of Zecora and the Target-exclusive plush of Twilight Sparkle.
    • Purposefully averted at one point during the Season 2 finale. During fake Cadance's song, she gives a sideways look at the audience (directly to her right) while standing in front of a mirror (directly to her left). The show's art style would have rendered this as her having fish eyes, so her mirror image's eye is closed to keep the focus on the other one. Fans sometimes cite this as an animation error, not realizing how odd she would have looked had this not been done. Basically, as the ponies have their eyes partly to the sides of their heads and not pointing directly ahead as with humans, turning one eye directly to the side makes it impossible to point the other one in the same direction. From the character's own point of view, it would seem she would have split her field of vision in two if she'd kept the left eye open, so this was perhaps justified in-universe too.
  • Pops up now and again on The Simpsons, especially on earlier seasons. There's even one episode (Diatribe of a Mad Housewife) where Marge is trying to talk some sense into him, and his reaction is to stand there staring off into space, with one of his eyes wobbling back and forth. Then the same scene is repeated with Bart and Lisa in the same episode.
  • Technically speaking, this is a design staple in various Matt Groening creations, including Life in Hell and Futurama.
  • Ren from The Ren & Stimpy Show has them from time to time.
    • MANY characters from Ren & Stimpy have fish eyes when drawn in an "off-model" way. Ren's pretty obvious, though, because he's a chihuahua.
  • Done in The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, in the movie Attack of the Twonkies. The Twonkies often wear this expression.
  • In Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy, this is Ed's default expression.
  • The hotelkeeper in episode 2 of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated has constant Fish Eyes.
  • Cartoon depictions of Rodney Dangerfield sometime veer into this when he's playing stupid: see Rover Dangerfield and the Genie's impression of him in Aladdin.
  • Megatron and Starscream Narmfully don this expression several times in Transformers Prime.
  • On Phineas and Ferb, this is the default expression of Perry the Platypus when he's in his civilian guise. In "Mom's in the House", Phineas and friends make fish-eyed expressions like Perry during the "Perrytronic" song.
  • Gravity Falls: Grunkle Stan gets this expression a lot whenever he states a stupid plan, most notably the driving bear from "Bottomless Pit".
    • Old Man McGucket sports this nearly all the time.
  • Mike from Total Drama Revenge of the Island and All-Stars always has this expression while he takes a deep breath right before one of his alternate personalities activate.
  • In the Steven Universe episode "Frybo", Steven goes wall-eyed when he zones out on an infodump from Pearl regarding some magic gem shards.
  • Rivet from The Adventures of Figaro Pho sometimes dons this expression, such as in the "Fear of Mad Dogs" episode when he is malfunctioning.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: In "Knock It Off", this expression is seen on several of Dick Hardly's Powerpuff knock-offs.

    Real Life 
  • Expressing these can be a symptom of exotropia, strabismus, or Graves' disease.
  • As on glorious display above, the late Marty Feldman, a talented actor and great comedian. Of the three listed causes above, his was Graves's disease.
  • George Harrison of The Beatles. That didn't seem to matter to any of his thousands of fangirls, though.
  • Richard Williams of Kansas sometimes has this appearance in early photos of the band. Justified in that one of his eyes was a fake glass eye (replacing an eye he lost making a homemade bomb when he was younger). Eventually he got tired of fooling around with the glass eye and started wearing an eye patch.
  • The man of the "Are You A Wizard?" meme.
  • The Potoo Bird seems consistently unable to focus both eyes on a subject in spite of its forward-facing eyes.
  • Scarlett Johansson, although it's not very noticeable.
  • Down Syndrome.



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