Love is in the air... and the eyes.
"Together, they will have the romance of a lifetime... expressed entirely in STARES."
Bob and Alice have been spending a lot of time together, causing people to comment on their relationship
but so far nothing has resulted from it. Often though, they will find themselves gazing deeply into each other's eyes, one indication of their UST
. This can often precede an Almost Kiss
, as this is usually what is happening before that. If this is an extremely intense gaze into the other's eyes, this might be an indication that a Big Damn Kiss
is on the horizon. It can also be a platonic look between two friends.
There are four versions of this held gaze, depending on the atmosphere of the story. If it is a romance, this will appear at least once, accompanied by some passion on one (or both) of the partners in the gaze, hence it fits into the passionate look variant of the trope.
If the atmosphere is more laidback and with a focus on males instead, this trope will (usually)
be platonic, and the two men will hold each other's gaze meaningfully to either encourage the other or to just let them know that they are there for them, like the
examples below. If the two of them are rivals or enemies, however, this becomes a classic staredown
, with both characters trying their level best to out-intimidate the other. The final version of this trope is a supernatural one - a shared gaze where souls gaze into the other person's soul, all at once having a deeper experience than the other two versions mentioned above can have.
A Sister Trope
of Almost Kiss
, as this commonly happens before the kiss, and sometimes it precedes a Big Damn Kiss
, and it is also a subtrope of Longing Look
, but different in that it is two people holding each other's gazes. It naturally tends to happen when the two lovers Literally Fall In Love
. Compare Staring Contest
open/close all folders
- In Pokémon, Jessie and James from Team Rocket do this at the end of the episode 'Holy Matrimony!'. When Jessie and Meowth think James has got married and left forever, he suddenly returns in a hot air balloon, literally whisking Jessie off her feet. And then the two stare into each other's eyes while reaffirming their partnership, while Meowth runs after them, complaining that they forgot about him again. It's a very popular episode with Rocketshippers, for some reason.
- InuYasha: Occurs several times between different pairs, including a moment between Sesshoumaru and Kagura. As her life ebbs away, they talk, run out of words, and finally hold each other's gaze as she disintegrates into the wind.
- Mazinger Z: Kouji and Sayaka do this in the Mazinger-Z vs Great General of Darkness, right when Kouji is going to sortie with Mazinger-Z to fight a battle he knows he can not win, and thinking he'll die. Sayaka stops him to give him his little brother's birthday gift, and both stare into each other's eyes for a long while. In the movie, Kouji finally turns around and leaves. In the manga version of that moment, they DO kiss.
- The anime adaptation of the Ai no Kusabi novel has the Star-Crossed Lovers doing this near the end.
- In the Dragon Ball anime, Goku and Chi-Chi do this and an off-screen kiss after he recovers from his heart virus.
- Parodied in Ranma ˝. Ranma and Akane are in a School Play, playing the parts of Romeo and Juliet. At one point, they look into each other's eyes for a long time. The audience thinks that they're pausing for dramatic effect and building the romantic tension. In reality, Ranma just forgot his lines.
- Haruka and Makoto from Free! are pros at this. Whenever they have a moment together, which seems to happen quite often, there will be a Held Gaze.
- This happens a lot between Italy and Holy Roman Empire in the chibitalia part of the Hetalia: Axis Powers anime.
- In Act 1 of Sailor Moon Crystal, after sniping at each other without really meeting eyes, Usagi pulls her test paper away from her face to further chastise Mamoru for mocking her low score, only to gasp as they both stare open mouthed, the scene turns mutually Gaussian and Love Bubbles appear. Usagi breaks the gaze and makes an awkward retreat, acutely aware that she finds the nameless boy attractive.
- Rosario + Vampire: Moka and Tsukune do this to Running Gag levels, often spending several minutes at a time just staring into each other's eyes and saying each other's names.
- ElfQuest has a specific name for this trope - Recognition (which is practically a Lampshade Hanging of sorts for the supernatural version of the trope). "Soul meets soul when eyes meet eyes"; which is a powerful biological urge to mate that pretty much guarantees healthy, gifted children.
- In the Lost In Time Series, this type of gaze appears twice in chapter thirty - both versions, too, both platonic and romantic. Once between Diego and Terry as they fight Soto's army, locking gazes gratefully after Terry has just saved Diego's life and then time appears to slow for Frank and Claire as he holds the gaze of his darling wife for the last time.
- In The Second Try Shinji and Asuka do this whenever they have the chance.
- In Game Theory, this happens between Nanoha and Fate culminating in Nanoha deciding to abandon everyone and everything she had ever known to stay with Fate.
- In Weightless, Shepard and Garrus do this right from the first time they meet and every changes they have after that. Naturally, a lot people catch on that (like Kaidan and Thane) really fast.
- Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: Several of the couples in the fic (Tsukune x Moka, Rason x Kurumu, Ahakon x Yukari, etc.) often do this, sometimes even in the middle of a combat situation.
Films - Animated
- In Tangled Flynn and Rapunzel share a Held Gaze before their Almost Kiss after they have watched the lanterns rise into the sky.
- Ice Age
- The platonic version occurs in the first film, after Manny has just rescued Diego from death at the lava fields.
- This happens again during a tense situation between the mammoth and the tiger in the third film, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs when Diego is attempting to convince Manny to let him go protect Ellie.
- The platonic version occurs between Stoick and Gobber in Dreamwork's How to Train Your Dragon when they grasp hands, looking each other in eye, before going off to distract Green Death together to buy their people some time.
- In Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Spirit and Rain have a deep gaze into each other's eyes under a tree. Spirit also does this with Little Creek at least once.
- In Tarzan, this happens between Tarzan and Jane when he first meets the girl, and they stare into each other's eyes in wonder. And again later during the "Strangers Like Me" Falling in Love Montage, where he pulls her close to him while they swing together on vines.
- In The Incredibles, Elastigirl and Mr Incredible share a rather long seductive one right after they capture a thief together during the Cold Open at the beginning of the movie.
- Aladdin : Aladdin and Jasmine share one Held Gaze early on in the movie with a sunset behind them, leading to an Almost Kiss.
Films - Live Action
- in The Silmarillion, when Melian and Elwë Singollo first meet, they stand looking into each other's eyes "while long years were measured by the wheeling stars above them; and the trees of Nan Elmoth grew tall and dark before they spoke any word." Meanwhile, his people get on the boat and leave without him; he doesn't care and stays there with Melian.
- In the blog spin-off of Hilary McKay's Casson Family Series, Rose's Blog, Rose mentions how her Love Interest, Tom Levin, "looks and looks at me, looks until I cannot look away." It's a Lampshade Hanging, albeit an unintentional one.
- Not surprisingly, Twilight the novel was doing exactly the same in nonvisual form.
- In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, Harry even has a name for this - the Soulgaze, where two people catch a glimpse of each other's souls because they share a gaze.
"For me, meeting someone's eyes is always risky. Every human being knows what I'm talking about. Try it. Walk up to someone, without speaking and look them in the eyes. There's a a certain amount of leeway for second, or two, or three. And then there's a distinct sensation of contact, of intimacy. That's when regular folks cough and look away. Wizards, though, get the full ride of a soulgaze." Harry Dresden, White Night.
- Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book references the direct gaze that when an animal views it, it signals a threat, and it comes into play during the wolf-pack meeting at the beginning when Mowgli is allowed into the pack. His ingenuous, even gaze is unsettling to the animals gathered when he looks at them, meeting their gaze for only a few seconds, as most look away quickly except for ones like Bagheera, who knows something of the ways of men.
- In the fifth Harry Potter book, Sirius and Lupin do this.
Lupin's eyes were fixed on Sirius.
*39 lines later*
"Personally.", said Lupin quietly, looking away from Sirius at last.
Live Action TV
- Done a lot in Smallville, but straightest in Bound when Clark and Chloe have a moment in an elevator. Curse you, Moment Killer!
- Mulder and Scully of The X-Files Held Gazed a lot. It has been said that one of their meaningful gazes could make everyone else in the room - and, by extension, everyone else in the audience - feel like they were intruding on some absurdly private moment. There are whole Fan Vids consisting of their looks, like this one and this one.
- Frequently featured between Lee Adama and Kara Thrace in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, especially when they're with other love interests. Fans like to call this "the eyefrak".
- Soap Opera often uses this trope to show the high tension between lovers - usually in the passionate look form.
- How I Met Your Mother: This is one of Barney's "moves" to invoke intimacy and seduce women (And Ted).
- In the Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide episode "Guide to: Positives and Negatives", Sarah Gothman and Mark Downing have this before they kiss. It's electrifying.
- There's the platonic (if Ho Yay-inducing) version: Dean and Castiel have been sharing long and tension-filled gazes since their first confrontation. At first it's just because Dean's rather aggressive and Cas, being an angel, has no idea about little things like how long it's appropriate to stare into someone's eyes, but they keep doing it. It eventually became so blatant that when Castiel gives him a dirty look after Dean's near-betrayal to the Angels, Dean lampshades it by joking "Gee, Cas. Last time somebody looked at me like that — I got laid".
- On Tumblr, there is a "How to Look at Your Brother" blog, with images/GI Fs of some of the long, emotional, tearful looks the brothers have exchanged throughout the series.
- Friends: Monica and Chandler do this frequently: When each of the other Friends find out about their Secret Relationship (TOW the Kips, TOW Everybody Finds Out, TOW The Girl Who Hits Joey) their immediate response is to look at each other, obviously appreciating they can use the Held Gaze without suspicion.
- Mad Men: This is combined with the Longing Look at the end of "The Rejected." Peggy and Pete lock eyes wistfully as they each follow their separate paths (her with new counterculture friends, him with businessmen in suits). However, you can tell there's always going to be a bit of longing and a "what could have been" vibe between them, even though neither one wants to travel down that path again.
- Star Trek: The Original Series: Kirk and Spock do this all. the. damn. time. In the episode "Miri," they held each others' gaze for a full twelve seconds, in complete silence, as the camera flicked back and forth between closeups of their faces. They're still doing the exact same thing twenty years later in The Undiscovered Country, when Kirk whispers in Spock's ear and then pulls away just far enough to lock gazes with him.
- Kirk and McCoy engage in the purely platonic "meaningful look" variant when they drop the friendly banter and display the fact that they are rock-solid best friends.
- Star Trek: Voyager: Chakotay and Janeway after Chakotay reveals his feelings for her in the episode "Resolutions".
- Inspector Lynley and his partner DS Havers do this frequently, often immediately before solving the Case of the Week and proceeding to kick the villain's butt. They also do it a lot when they make up after a fight, or when they act as each other's confidantes, or... yeah. Suffice it to say that while this trope might not be intentionally romantic between them, it certainly played a major role in their UST, and spoke whole volumes about the characters' feelings for each other. In fact, during many of the most significant moments of their relationship, the words coming out of their mouths were completely incidental to the conversation they were having with their eyes.
- Howard and Vince from The Mighty Boosh do this often. It's sort of platonic. Maybe.
- Glee's Kurt and Blaine, right from their very first episode when Blaine sings "Teenage Dream" straight to Kurt. The ridiculously UST-ful gazes continue nonstop after that. They finally get their Relationship Upgrade in "Original Song" - and, later that episode, proceed to sing a duet together while staring dreamily into each other's eyes the entire time. Kurt and Blaine like this trope a lot.
- This is part of what causes Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo's relationship to improve in Game of Thrones; as Dany's handmaid Doreah explains, 'love comes in at the eyes'.
- Everyone does this to everyone else in Merlin. Everyone.
- Especially Arthur, Merlin and Guinevere. These three are capable of having lengthy conversations with each other without ever saying a word.
- Nicely done in the episode The Hunter's Heart in which Arthur is considering marriage to a visiting princess, even though Merlin is urging him to get back together with Guinevere. After finding Guinevere's ring in the forest, Arthur and Merlin exchange a deep, wordless gaze. Behind them, Princess Mithian tries to get their attention, quickly realizing that something beyond her understanding is silently passing between the two men. Although Arthur/Guinevere was a Foregone Conclusion anyway, that's the moment the audience knows that Mithian is about to be sent packing.
- Babylon 5: The more Sheridan and Delenn do this, the closer they get. Or rather, the closer they get, the more they do this.
- In the Sherlock episode "A Scandal in Belgravia" Sherlock and Irene Adler share intense, passionate gazes with each other at least twice in under five seconds, causing John Watson to snark out baby names since they are so obviously forgetting his presence in the room.
- John and Sherlock are not exempt from this. No wonder everyone thinks they're together...
- Parodied on 30 Rock.
Liz: You know, some people actually craft stories, and when the story doesn't have an ending you don't just create one out of thin air by playing music or having people give each other meaningful looks. [music swells] Sure, that might manipulate an audience into THINKING they're feeling something, but it sucks.
Jack:[gives Lemon meaningful stare, their eyes lock}
Liz:[spins and locks eyes with Jack]
- The platonic version happens between Shawn and Gus of Psych at the end of "An Evening with Mr. Yang." After saving his mom's life and helping catch the bad guy, Shawn finally gets to have his date with Abby. Shawn then turns around to look at Gus who is chilling in the backseat, still watching Shawn's back, even after the danger has passed.
- Warehouse 13: There is almost no scene where Myka and HG are in the same room that this trope doesn't apply.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When Buffy is brought Back from the Dead in Season 6 she keeps avoiding the gaze of her sister and friends, but when she first catches sight of Spike the two keep staring at each other until the Scoobies barge in and spoil the moment. A platonic love version occurs in the following episode when Buffy's Parental Substitute Giles returns to Sunnydale.
- Its importance is lampshaded when Kennedy is on a date with Willow.
"It's like flirting in code, it's using body language, and laughing at the right jokes. And looking into her eyes and knowing she's still whispering to you, even though she's not saying a word."
- Terrifyingly inverted in the episode "Midnight" of Doctor Who in which the Doctor goes face-to-face for a period of time with a woman possessed by some strange alien entity. He's already tried to argue to others present that they have no right to judge the creature, only to concede defeat with one of the show's most chilling lines: "I'd like to believe you're harmless...but your eyes are telling me a different story." Later it's hinted that the creature's prolonged Held Gaze with the Doctor allows it to paralyze him.
- Richard Castle and Kate Beckett have a tendency to do this as part of their UST in general, but one particularly notable example occurs in "Poof! You're Dead", wherein one of their usual "getting so caught up in theorizing about the case they finish each other's sentences" moments ends with them staring into each other's eyes, with the look on Castle's face almost pinpointing the exact second he realizes that he's fallen in love with her. Unfortunately for him, however, Beckett isn't quite on the same page and just asks him what he's looking at, prompting a rapid changing of the topic which only confuses her.
- Chuck and Blair on Gossip Girl are all over this trope. Also known as them having "eye sex".
- Donna and Eric have one of these in That '70s Show during her parents' wedding vows (that she was wrote for them with Eric in mind). Then they have sex.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The Klingons actually have their own word for this, at least the platonic version. Worf is explaining where his loyalty to General Martok comes from.
Worf: You know that I was forced to fight the Jem'Hadar guards in the camp. Each day they would call me to the ring, and each day I would fight. But then there came a day when I... wavered.
Sisko: You mean you didn't want to go back into the ring?
No, I mean I considered letting them kill me
. It seemed like the only way out. Just before I went into the ring, Martok turned to wish me success. And then he saw what I was planning, he saw it in my eyes. It was a moment of tova'dok
Sisko: Of what?
Worf: There is no Human word for it. It is a moment of... clarity, between two warriors on a field of battle. Much is said without the need for words. In that moment, he knew what was in my mind. Once I realized that he saw my intention to give up I could no longer go through with it. I went back into the ring and fought once more. He had given me his warrior's heart. Perhaps it is something a Human cannot understand.
- Call the Midwife has Dr Turner and Sister Bernadette, who can't seem to stop doing this. Unfortunately for them both, Sister Bernadette is a nun, which is a bit of an obstacle, to say the least. In the episode where she leaves the convent to be with him, they literally do not look away from each other for more than five seconds at a time when they're in the same scene. Understandable, since they're finally able to be together after months of mutual and very painful pining.
- On NCIS, this happens between Tony and Ziva at times. The most obvious (and hilarious) instance is season 7's "Reunion," after Ziva's time in Somalia. After Ziva suggest something to help Tony and McGee on their case, Tony and Ziva end up in an intimate staring contest, totally oblivious to anyone else in the room. McGee notices and awkwardly excuses himself from the room.
And I'm going to go do that...right after I get a...Nutter Butter. (rolls eyes, leaves)
- On Community, this happens several times between Jeff Winger and Annie Edison in the first season. And then again in the second season. And again in the third. And the fourth. And again in the fifth. In short, the Held Gaze is Jeff and Annie's UST M.O.
- Most music videos that involve or deal with romance will usually include these meaningful gazes between the people in the song in some way.
- The band TenthAvenueNorth mentions "look deep in my eyes" implying this trope in their song "Beloved".
- The band 30SecondsToMars seems to imply a romantic Held Gaze in their song 'Kings and Queens' which says, "Into your eyes; hopeless and taken."
- Sonic Adventure 2 had an instance, believe it or not. After a boss fight between Knuckles the Echidna and Rouge the Bat, the latter slips off a beam to a fiery death. Knuckles manages to save her. Their gaze lasts only a few moments before Rouge roughly pulls her hand away to save face.
- Sonic Rush also had a moment at the very end of the game where Sonic and Blaze gaze at each other and try to stop themselves from being pulled back into their dimensions. This goes on for more than a few seconds.
- This is basically the asari version of sex in the Mass Effect series. An asari and her partner will look into each others' eyes and "embrace eternity" together, which is all but outright stated to have effects of intense pleasure similar to an orgasm for both parties. Shepard and a romanced Liara get quite a few of these (both the sexual kind and loving kind) throughout the course of the trilogy.
- Rule of Rose: During the introductory FMV, you can see Wendy and another girl doing this, before initiating a Headbutt of Love. It's Jennifer as a young girl, when she and Wendy swore their eternal love to one another.
- In The Dreamer between Beatrice and Alexander no less during an argument.
- This meme-starting comic from Hark! A Vagrant has fun with this trope.
- In the Kings War arc of Roommates the supernatural version of this is used to resolve the conflict. The leaders of both parties do it and see a possible future about the other winning in the gaze... and realize that it's one and the same.
- Donnie DuPre from Demo Reel does with nearly every single cast member, male or female. Let's just say there's a reason why he personally asked for Slash Fic.
- Couples on Phineas and Ferb often employ this trope for Ship Tease. For instance, Ferb and Vanessa share one when he first meets her, and Phineas and Isabella have also held each other's gaze - most notably in the special Summer Belongs to You!, when they are stranded on the island.
- In Disney's House of Mouse, on the episode "Max's Embarrassing Date", Max and Roxanne stare into each other's eyes before they Almost Kiss, wherein Minnie interrupts them.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender has a few of these. One with Mai and Zuko in the Boiling Rock episodes after being forced to lock the cell door on her [this one is more of deep hurt though], one with Suki and Sokka on the Serpent's Pass leading to an Almost Kiss. Then finally the one between Aang and Katara which leads to the Big Damn Kiss and end of the series.
- Mako and Korra share several of these throughout Book One of The Legend of Korra, with arguably the most conventional example nearly ending in an Almost Kiss in the two-part season finale. They do get a Big Damn Kiss, but it comes a bit later, once much of the underlying drama has been resolved.
- Kick Buttowski had this going on with Kick and Kendall, complete with Kick leaning her backwards and complimenting one another. However, the trance was broken when a kid off screen shouted that he should kiss her.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Hearts and Hooves Day", Big Macintosh and Cheerilee do this while under the influence of the Cutie Mark Crusaders' love potion. In fact, the only way to break the spell is to break the gaze for an hour.
- The fourth season finale of Teen Titans sees Robin and Starfire sharing a significant look right before Robin leaves with Slade to try rescuing Raven.