Glowing Eyelights of Undeath
You find yourself staring into the glowing eyes of a Helghast.
creatures will often be depicted as having glowing eyes, usually without any explanation. Then again, in magic-based undead this might either be the glow of the animating magic or magical eyes, created specifically to allow undead to see posthumously.
Ones that do not actually have eyes, like reanimated skeletons and incorporeal ghosts, will often have glowing lights where the eyes would be. Occasionally, it will be twin ghost-fires burning in the sockets. It is by no means a universal trait of undead. Should Undeath
end and the glow fade, it's Eye Lights Out
Compare Glowing Eyes of Doom
and Ghost Lights
. Compare too with Ghostly Gape
, with which this may be paired to create pinprick eyelights in gaping black hollows.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- All vampires and ghouls in Hellsing OVAs have eyes that glow either occasionally or constantly depending on the character. Alucard, the protagonist is especially prone of this, and his eyes often seem like lamps in dark conditions. The vampire eyes glow red or blue, while the ghouls settle for purple.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Alphonse is a character whose soul has been bonded to an empty suit of armor, yet the eye holes in the suit glow a pinkish color. Later the brothers encounter others of the same condition who also have glowing eyes.
- The Skull Knight from Berserk. As you might have already guessed, he's a skeleton, soooo....
- In Soul Eater, Sid, who is a zombie, has these.
Films — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- The Helghast (plural) in the Lone Wolf gamebook series, as shown with the image above. Note that they are shapeshifters, and thus their eyes don't glow while in human form, as it would give them away. (The glow may be a side effect of the psychic attack that a Helghast is trying to melt your brain with...) Most other undead in the series avert this. The skeletal Vordaks still have human eyeballs, while some zombies either have eyes or just rotting eye sockets.
- Stephen King's It. Don't look into the deadlights!
- Ghost dogs with glowing eyes attack a gangster's former home every other night in the Nancy Drew novel Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake.
- In the Goosebumps book The Ghost Next Door, Danny's ghost in the Shadow World chases Hannah, red eyes glowing.
- Discworld's Death, only with blue lights. They turned red once in Mort when he was enraged.
- The Greater Dead in Garth Nix's Old Kingdom trilogy have fiery pits for eyes. Necromancers have a lesser version of this (physical eyes are still there, but they're described as burning), depending on how long they've been using Free Magic.
- The Ringwraiths in The Lord of the Rings have ambiguously glowing eyelights of some sort, in some versions, apparently.
- Bob the Skull in The Dresden Files. More precisely, Bob is the glowing eyelignts — he's an air spirit that looks like a cloud of glimmering motes that happens to live in a skull, rather than an undead being.
- In The Laundry Series by Charles Stross, infection by one of the gibbering extradimensional horrors the Laundry fights against is marked by eyes full of what appear to be glowing, seething worms.
- In Simon R. Green's Nightside series, Merlin Satanspawn has empty eye sockets filled with flames. He's the Devil's son, and every time these eyes are mentioned it's commented that "he has his father's eyes". He's first met as an undead, but when his live version is encountered (while time traveling to the era of Arthurian Legend in Paths Not Taken) he already has the freaky flaming eye-sockets.
- The Stalkers in Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines, being Cyborg-zombie Super Soldiers, have their eyes replaced with green lights.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, people killed by the Others have their eyes turned bright blue, which then glow when they're active in undeath. People resurrected by the magic of R'hllor, though not conventionally undead, have a red glow in their eyes at times.
- The title Jedi ghost of Galaxy of Fear: Ghost of the Jedi first appears, when Tash can see him clearly, with empty eyes. As she talks to him and needs his help a flicker of light comes to them, strengthening to a steady glow.
- Eddie, the undead mascot of british heavy metal band Iron Maiden, has semi-skeletal facial features and empty eye sockets with this trope in full display. Sometimes his eyelights are flames, sometimes lightning, occasionally something else, but they're present in almost every appearance of the character from album art to merchandise to the huge animatronic stage puppets appearing on tour.
- The zombie gorillas in the video for the Gorillaz song "Clint Eastwood" have glowing red eyelights and apparently no eyeballs (as can be seen when one of them disintegrates). They otherwise look just like living gorillas, except for having blue fur for some reason.
Myths & Religion
- The jikininki of Japanese folklore, who are said to be the ghosts of self-centered or impious people, have glowing eyes.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- Liches have "pinpoints of light" in their empty eye sockets and archliches (non-evil variant lich) have twinkling lights. Alhoon (illithid liches), however, look much like in life, but with dried skin.
- Of Forgotten Realms undead, baneliches got burning red pinpoints of light and baelnorns (lich-like elven guardian undead) have glowing white eyes.
- A subversion with Mystara's "dusanu": this monster looks like a typical rotting skeleton... but in fact it isn't undead but a fungal colony that had taken over a corpse. The haunting blue lights coming from its eyes sockets are in fact caused by the waste fumes of the fungus.
- In Vampire: The Masquerade, one of the early powers vampires can gain in the Protean (shapeshifting) discipline allows them to see in the dark while making their eyes glow red.
- Warhammer: According to the associated literature (such as Nagash The Sorcerer), animated skeletons have this.
- Trauma Towers, a funhouse based at Pleasure Beach Blackpool in England, contains vampire children with glowing eyes.
- All the infected in Left 4 Dead. This is clearest in the case of the Witch.
- Many, but not all undead in the Heroes of Might and Magic games have them.
- Super Mario Bros.
- Dry Bones, the skeletal undead versions of Koopas. Dry Bowser also applies.
- Kingfin in Super Mario Galaxy, although surprisingly not the standard undead enemies. Said boss also has an even more extreme case of this, because the eyes seem to shoot light beams in the direction it's looking or something◊.
- Raziel in Legacyof Kain, in cutscenes. It's not properly rendered ingame until Defiance.
- World of Warcraft
- Most of the Forsaken undead have this, though there are some Forsaken facial textures that don't include glowing eyes. They have empty eyesockets instead.
- Also undead of the Scourge and the Lich King as shown in the trailer/opening cinematic for Wrath of the Lich King. The blue glow isn't limited to their eyes, but also appears elsewhere inside the skeletal undead.
- And as former members of the Scourge, Death Knights of all races. If the regular members of the race already have glowing eyes (such as night elves), then it's more visibly pronounced for death knights. Also the color will change, as the night elves normal yellow and blood elves normal green will be switched to the same blue as all others.
- The hollow men in Fable 2 have them. They're corpses animated by glowing sprites called wisps that dive into the ground and pull up the corpses.
- The Legend of Zelda
- The Hero's Shade in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is a skeletal one-eyed variation.
- The ReDeads in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker will have empty, black sockets when still, but once they shriek...
- Similarly, the Stalchildren from Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask also have red lights for eyes.
- Lanaryu, from Skyward Sword. When Link meets him in the present time, he's little more than a decaying skull surrounded by the rotting rather, rusting remains of his helpers. Attempts to communicate with him result in his empty sockets lighting with a sickly yellow. You get the chance to change that, however.
- The Stalfos and Staldra enemies also have glowing eyes. When a Staldra's eyes turn from blue to red, it's time to get your shield ready.
- Stallord from Twilight Princess has glowing pale-pink eyes.
- Dead Rising zombies have eyes that glow red at night, when their strength drastically increases.
- The reaper man in Shadowgate is an otherwise unremarkable example, but his position in the Game Over screen means that players will spend a significant fraction of their time looking at him.
- Many demons in Doom 3 have eyes that glow red, orange or blue that is, if they have eyes..
- Both Skeleton T and Oshare Bones from Puyo Puyo have this. However, with Oshare, it only occurs in his left eye; his right eye is a case of The Dead Have Eyes.
- Jericho Cross of Dark Watch has only one eye, the other marred by a nasty scar. The scar begins to glow red when he is turned into a vampire.
- The Sorrow in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has glowing red eyes when he first appears as a ghost behind The Boss.
- Mr. Tall of Amnesia: The Dark Descent has green eyelights, if you look closely enough.
- All of the zombies in Call of Duty: Zombies have yellow-orange lights in their eye sockets. Zombie!George Romero eyes glow when he's in berserk mode.
- All ways of becoming a husk involved dying, or at least ceasing to be a living human, in Mass Effect, so they probably qualify.
- All zombie-esques with intelligence in Sonny, the free online Flash RPG series.
- Most Undead characters in Dark Souls look perfectly normal, but those that have given up their humanity and turned Hollow have emaciated faces and glowing red eyes.
- The Draugr from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim have this, and they go out when they die.
- Zombies have red, glowing eyes in Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army. From a gameplay perspective, this is likely to increase their visibility in the game's dark, dreary, and extremely foggy environments. Hell, it even helps you pick out their heads, which is handy for Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain purposes.
- Penumbra: Overture's zombie dogs have an inexplicable green glow to their eyes.
- The Witch's House: The Witch displays these if she catches you, due to having no eyes. What makes it worse is that she also has no legs — making a loud SQUELCH noise every time she drags herself closer — and she's only 13.
- Undead in Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures have solid black eyes with glowing yellow pupils.
- "..." in Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name has glowing orange eyes.
- Looking for Group: Maikos and Richard — Yellow for Richard, Red for Maikos.
- The Order of the Stick
- anti-HEROES, another D&D-inspired Stick Figure Comic, has Finx the lich. His design is quite similar to Xykon, but he's a lot less scary.
- In The Zombie Hunters, all classes of The Undead have black sclerae with glowing white irises, excepting the Basilisk, a class with a paralyzing gaze and bioluminescent red irises. Charlie, a partially revived zombie restored to sentience, has one undead eye, which he hides with a contact lens.
- Justified in Unsounded by explaining Duane's eyes are enchanted pyramics and will occasionally glow when he's exceptionally overwhelmed, or generally too distracted to ensure their proper functionality at the moment.
- The farmstead wights and the wraith in the forest from Our Little Adventure.
- The formerly human zeds of Zombie Ranch are distinguished by glowing red eyes. Animal zombies shown seem to lack this feature so far.