Glowing Mechanical Eyes

"Could you close your eyes? I feel like I am banging tail lights on a country road."
Sterling Archer, Archer

Robotic or cyborg characters will frequently have obviously artificial eyes. Presumably these are some sort of video camera, which makes sense for an artificial creation. Unlike normal cameras, however, these will usually glow with an inner light. While this makes very little sense from a mechanical design perspective, it makes excellent sense from a character design perspective. Eyes convey a lot of information about a person; light-up eyes help make up for a robot face's lack of expressiveness.

By varying the intensity, shape, and color of the light, a robotic character can convey much of the emotion that would otherwise be lost. A brief flash of intense light can indicate surprise or anger. The light going out can show that the character is unconscious, blind, or dead; conversely, the light coming back on is a form of Eye Awaken. If the light is red, you might want to watch out (especially if its usually a different color, but suddenly turns red). If the eye glow can change shape, then it becomes nearly as expressive as normal eyes; the glow widen or narrow, the expressiveness of eyebrows can be simulated by eliminating strategic parts of the glow (a >:| face is popular with this technique), etc.

Glowing robotic eyes can also be used to indicate anything that glowing eyes can mean on organic characters as well, from impending doom to inner power. Glowing Mechanical Eyes are a prerequisite for Eye Lights Out. A Cyber Cyclops is a specific variant. If things that are supposed to glow are also able to see it's a case of Screens Are Cameras.


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  • It's extremely common to see the eye cameras of mobile suits glow throughout the Gundam franchise, be they two or one eyed robots. In most series, the viewer is guaranteed to get at least one close up shot of a mecha's eyes starting to glow as it powers up, or the eye of a mecha glowing as it scans its target.

    Fan Works 

  • In Marionettes, it's shown that the robot ponies (the title Marionettes) have glowing blue optics, though they're normally covered by their fake pony eyes (which can be a different color). The exception is Lightning Dust, who's fake eye was severely damaged in a Traintop Battle, revealing the optic.

    Films — Animated 
  • The eyes of the characters in Robots glow, even forming torch-like beams in the dust in the air in pitch-black locations.
  • The Iron Giant has glowing irises and glowing pupils.
  • In Treasure Planet, Ben has LED eyes that illuminate in the dark in one scene.
  • That one car seen in Paris in Cars 2, unlike everyone else whose eyes are located on their windshields.
  • The Leviathan from Atlantis: The Lost Empire has large mechanical optics, revealing the fact that it is actually a machine.
  • Baymax from Big Hero 6 gets these when Hiro removes the chip containing his "caregiver" programming.

    Films — Live-Action 


    Live Action TV 
  • In Battlestar Galactica and its remake, the eye of each Cylon glows.
  • Animal Zords in Super Sentai and Power Rangers have glowing eyes, as do the Megazords.
  • In Kamen Rider, many Riders have eyepieces that light up, though circumstances for doing so differ. No matter when or if a Rider's eyepieces usually light, when morphing at the same time as Kamen Rider Decade, the eyepieces will flash when the transformation sequence finishes, right alongside Decade, whose eyepieces always do.


    Tabletop Game 

  • Most characters in BIONICLE. On the toys, this is usually represented by transparent pieces, but in the animated media the eyes are given a definite glow. Though a fair number of 2006 sets did come with functioning light-up eyes.
  • Not uncommon in the Transformers franchise. Often represented in the toys via translucent plastic with a "lightpiping" effect, though some larger toys with electronic gimmicks do have light-up eyes.

    Video Games 


    Western Animation 
  • In Archer, after being recontruscted by Dr. Krieger, Katya gets one of these. When sleeping with Archer, he gets annoyed at how bright they are.
  • In Futurama, Hermes Conrad ends up with Cylon eyes on his face after several upgrades. Despite the modesty bedsheet, we learn that he also has one down below.
  • Transformers Prime stands out amongst other entries in the Transformers franchise for the sheer variety of eye designs. Every character has their own unique design, usually incorporating a black ring on glowing colour or the reverse to approximate a human iris, which greatly assists in facial recognition by the audience.
  • One of the most notable features of Dr. Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog. Many a nightmare has been had by children seeing him.