"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 characters 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.
Anime and Manga
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ruby-Spears's Mega Man has had this photoshopped to the point of Memetic Mutation.
- On Spongebob Square Pants 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 usually inverts the actual trope: her eyes are seen facing inward more often than outward (but they do face outward on a few occasions, so she still counts).
- 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.
- 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 has many characters do this often as their facial expressions. Grunkle Stan gets these the most whenever he states a stupid plan. Most notably the driving bear.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.