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No Eye in Magic

"You know how they say eyes are the windows of the soul? They're the doors."

A quick search of this site will let you know that eyes are the windows to the soul. Well, sometimes in a Fantasy setting, these windows not only let outsiders see inside, they can also be wide open and allow power or information in or out.

Wait, what?

Basically, certain magic requires the caster to make eye contact with the object of the spell in order to work properly.

This is because spells that produce significant effects on thoughts, individuality and/or physicality of people or objects (like Mind Control, Mind Reading or Petrification) can involve a massive amount of power that must be applied in a very controlled manner. As luck would have it, the optic nerve is pretty much a direct pathway to the brain, so these spells can be better focused and more effectively received through the eyes. This means, some magic is more powerful if you're looking directly at your target; in fact, some magic might not work at all if you're not looking at your target. This is taken to its logical extreme with Deadly Gaze and Eye Beams.

Because of this line-of-sight requirement, the object of the spell can usually avoid it by hiding behind a conveniently-available large object, covering him/herself with something, or simply not looking back at the caster. Blind characters will sometimes be immune to this, depending on the nature of the spell. Following the same idea, indirect eye contact is usually considered safe. That is, these spells generally don't work via reflection or broadcast (unless modified for that purpose), or can lessen the effects. An auditory variation might involve avoiding the effects of a Compelling Voice by listening to recordings instead of the actual source.

That's where this trope comes in, when someone successfully avoids getting hit with eye contact magic by avoiding eye contact, or when it's specifically stated a certain characteristic of the recipient can render this type of magic useless on him, regardless of how directly or intensely the caster is looking at them.


Examples:

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     Anime and Manga 
  • Two seprate ninja powers in Basilisk are based on eye contact. The Dojutsu turns an attacker's aggression against themselves, leading to some spectacularly bloody suicides. Oboro's mystic eyes have the power to nullify another ninja's abilities as long as eye contact is held, leading to the very satisfying death of the vilest ninja of the series.
  • In Bleach: Aizen's shikai can only influence people after a ritual is performed that his targets need to witness. As a result, Tousen is immune to the power because he's blind. Of course all this does is show that when Tousen joined his cause it was of his own free will.
  • In Code Geass, many Geass, each with different abilities, work through eye contact, but it doesn't need to be direct — for example, at one point Lelouch uses dozens of small mirrors to catch a glimpse of his target's eyes. On the other hand, thick visors will block it (regular glass won't), and seeing a TV image of his eyes won't work.
  • Darker Than Black has a mild case of eye motif, so this happens.
    • In the first season a body possessor needed eye contact. Among other things, he discovered that head movements are limited when another guy presses him into a fence using tight strangling wire.
    • Second season, one Contractor, August 7, is a Reality Warper who can pretty much do anything so long as he's looking at you. He's not very competent though, and is defeated in about 5 minutes or less after the Anti-Hero just throws his Badass Longcoat over August's head and electrocutes him.
      • That's probably less incompetence on August 7's part and more super competence on Hei's. After all, August 7 shows up just fine at the end of the season.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Because Erza's right eye is fake, any spells that work through eye contact only have half the effect on her. She still sees illusions but also recognizes them for what they are automatically, and any Medusa stares are easily reversed on her.
    • Evergreen can turn people to stone with eye contact, but it doesn't work if she or her target is wearing glasses.
  • In Naruto, genjutsu are usually initiated through physical senses, and most genjutsu cast by the Sharingan use sight with eye contact. Izanami is the exception, which is why Itachi could use it on Kabuto even after he was fighting entirely by hearing and feel.
  • In Saint Seiya, Perseus Algol exhibits a similar petrification power to the mythical Medusa— not through his own eyes, but through the image of Medusa in his shield. This power could affect his victims through cloth or blindfolds, because it acted directly on the retina. The recipient could protect themselves with Dragon cloth's shield, however, and it doesn't work on the blind either, which leads to a very unpleasant Eye Scream moment.

     Comics 
  • One of the things that will save someone from Ghost Rider's Penance Stare is having more than two eyes.
  • Jericho from Teen Titans can possess anyone he makes eye contact with. Cyborg is immune because his eyes are mechanical.

     Film - Live Action 
  • Comes with the territory when referencing the myth of Perseus; Clash of the Titans also had the hero using a reflective object to avoid making eye contact with Medusa.
  • A Native American magic potion in Like Father, Like Son allows two persons to transfer their souls into each other's bodies by making eye contact with each other. Dudley Moore's character mistakes the potion for Tabasco sauce, which he then puts into his drink, and then he makes eye contact with his son (played by Kirk Cameron), and the two of them end up switching bodies.
  • The Nerualizer in Men In Black fits this trope, albeit technological rather than magical. They flash in someone's eyes to erase a period of memories and can be protected against by normal looking sunglasses.
  • An inversion: Kel Mitchell's character in Mystery Men claims he can turn invisible, but only if no one can see him, a power most of the others think he's imagined until he uses it to get past a magical automated turret.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Percy, Grover and Annabeth encounter Medusa, much like they do in the book. Percy uses an iPod Touch to glimpse ahead before turning corners because reflection is the only safe way to see Medusa without getting Petrified.
    • Medusa also wears sunglasses when in public to prevent turning others to stone.

     Literature 
  • In the Anita Blake series, vampires' mind magic works better with eye contact. One rather important thing Anita found out early was that this scales with a vampire's power: a young vampire can't get her with or without, but with master vampire, it took her from "I'm not even trying here" to Mind Rape in nothing flat. A good chunk of the introduction to the series is Anita describing herself trying to look tough while at the same time avoiding the vampires' eyes, so as to keep out of their magical control.
  • Artemis Fowl has the fairy 'Mesmer' ability, which - with direct eye-contact - allows the fairy to hypnotize and control a person. Reflective lenses such as shades will block it (and, on one memorable occasion, mirror-surfaced contact-lenses are used to covertly block a Mesmer), but it CAN be conveyed across video-link, albeit at a significant power-loss. (Strong-willed people can shrug off Mesmer if it's by video. With direct eye-contact, the best you can hope for is to resist violently enough to die rather than carry out the commands of your fairy master).
  • In Children of the Red King, Manfred has Hypnotic Eyes. To his annoyance, they don't work on Billy because his albinism gives his poor eyesight.
  • In the last section of Ryk E. Spoor's Digital Knight, "Mirror Image", Jason is up against the Maelkodan, a creature which was the original inspiration for the Medusa. Looking into its eyes allows the thing to consume your soul. After a chase that destroys a large portion of the town of Venice, FL, Jason defeats the creature by putting on mirrored sunglasses while apparently helpless and face-down, so when the creature grabs him and turns him over — it's looking right into its own eyes.
  • In The Dresden Files, when a wizard looks directly into someone else's eyes, they can see the essence of that person's soul. This ability is called a "soulgaze." Unfortunately, this is an automatic effect, once it's activated it can't be stopped, and since it's eye-to-eye it's very much reciprocal, so the other person sees into the wizard's soul as well. Harry himself spends most of the series avoiding direct eye contact with people, unless he has a good reason for it, or has already soulgazed them, since it can only happen between two people once. That said, should Harry look at a being who didn't have a soul, like a fairy or demon, he doesn't have to worry about that.
    • Which is a bit bizarre, because Names can change, but you only ever get one look at someone's soul.
      • Actually, it's stated that another soulgaze will occur if the person's Name has changed.
  • Some of the spells in the Harry Potter series are like this.
    • In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the main villain put a spell on Harry's broom during a Quidditch game to make him fall off. Hermione stops the spell by accidentally knocking over the caster, which causes him to lose eye contact with Harry.
    • In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets the basilisk can kill someone just by looking at them in the eye — fortunately, the only people we see who have encountered it in this generation manage to not quite look it in the eye: they see it in a puddle of water, through a camera lens, or in a mirror, so it doesn't quite kill them, instead stunning them into petrification. One girl fifty years ago wasn't as lucky. She now haunts the very bathroom she died in, as Moaning Myrtle. Weirdest of all, one person was petrified by seeing it through a ghost. The ghost was petrified instead of killed because he was already dead.
    • There is also Legilimency, the ability to extract emotions and memories from a person's mind, which usually works via eye-to-eye contact. Dumbledore, Snape and Voldemort are expert Legilimentes, and scattered through the series (even before we knew what Legilimency was) we can find instances where Harry felt they could "read his mind". Almost a "missed" example, but once or twice Harry does look away from their gaze; initially the reader would just assume he felt uncomfortable under scrutiny — now we know better.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy mentions the Bugblatter Beast of Traal, a creature so phenomenally stupid that it believes that if you can't see it, it can't see you. Keeping a towel over your head will keep you safe.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Percy, Grover and Annabeth encounter the actual Medusa from Greek Myth. Percy sees her through a glass ball, so he doesn't get Petrified.
  • Weird variant: In Perdido Street Station, anyone looking at a slake-moth's wings would fall into a hypnotic trance. Looking at a reflection of the wings was safe, because the image was inverted right-to-left, but looking at a reflection of the reflection was not, because the image seen would then be identical to the actual wings. Strange helmets and periscopes incorporating an odd number of mirrors were developed by slake-moth handlers to take advantage of this effect.
  • Similarly, in The Seventh Tower, anyone who wants to use a sunstone to produce light magic has to be able to see it- otherwise, they'll just be able to make it glow harmlessly. Consequently, blind people can't do light magic, and blindness is portrayed as a major phobia of the Chosen.
  • Shamer abilities in the The Shamer Chronicles series of books.
    • Shamers can use their voice too, though it doesn't work as well and is harder.
  • Played with in The Wheel of Time series: Magic is done by weaving together tendrils of power into complex forms. It's been directly stated that you have to know exactly where your weave is going, and if you can't see the object you're working magic on, you generally can't put a "weave" (spell) on it. There have been cases of expert, talented, or just lucky channelers using magic in considerable, though perhaps not complete, darkness. It's never directly stated, but this may well be what makes Healing and Compulsion so difficult.

     Live Action TV 
  • In Alphas, Nina's "pushing" ability (mind control, essentially) only works if she has direct eye contact with a person. Sunglasses are capable of nullifying it, as is a significantly unusual/different mind - Gary, with his autism - or someone who has trained to block it - Rosen - but that's another trope altogether.
  • Inverted in Doctor Who with the Weeping Angels, which are only dangerous if you don't look at them. A later Retcon plays it straight, though, as they can also destroy you if you look them straight in the eye.
  • Haven:
    • Chris Brody involuntarily causes people to fawn over him. Nathan learns to avoid it by not looking directly at him.
    • Jackie Clark makes anybody who looks into her eyes see their greatest fear. She spoke to her boyfriend while wearing sunglasses. When Ian kidnapped her, he slapped some welding goggles on her so he wouldn't be affected.
  • The Tales from the Darkside episode "Miss May Dusa" featured a lady who turns anyone she makes eye contact with into a mannequin. She wears sunglasses to avoid this, and dates a blind guy.

     Mythology and Religion 

     Tabletop RPG 
  • In Ars Magica, some spells have the range "Eye", which means the mage must make eye contact with the target for the spell to take effect.
    • Likewise, designing a spell with the range of Sight means you must see the target. Furthermore, in general magic, or Hermetic magic at least, can't affect something the wizard can't perceive one way or another.
  • Standard for most Dungeons & Dragons monsters with "gaze weapons", such as the basilisk, vampire, catoblepas, floating eye, medusa and spirit naga.
    • Depending on the Writer, some versions could kill or petrify themselves by looking in a mirror, even if others could view them safely that way.
    • Averted, though, with the iconic beholder, whose various eye beams will work on their targets just fine whether they look back or not.
  • In Nomine has demons called Lilim who can see a person's desires by looking in their eyes. This power can be blocked by wearing sunglasses.
  • In both World of Darkness vampire games, vampires who use the Dominate Discipline typically have to make eye contact with their victims before they give commands. It's possible to do it without making eye contact, but it's just not as effective.
    • One bloodline of the Nosferatu, the Baddacelli, do not have working eyes; their founder was blinded in an attack and inadvertently cursed all of his descendants to be blind. There's a sidebar in their write-up titled "But He Doesn't Have Eyes!" that discusses how "eye-contact" Disciplines might be adjusted for them.

     Video Game 
  • Averted in Fate/stay night: when Shirou tries to charge at Rider (who has taken off her blindfold) with his eyes closed, she petrifies him anyway.
    • On the other hand Illya from the same game and Arcueid from Tsukihime do need to make eye contact for their mystic eyes to take effect.
    • In addition, one early choice is to either run away or drop down when facing Rider. Should you choose to run away, you see a giant eye and are turned to stone. If you drop down, the ability somehow misses you.
  • In Final Fantasy XI, there are several types of attacks that require line of sight between target and caster, called "Gaze Attacks". Interestingly, they do not require literal "eye contact"; when monsters use the attacks on players, they will 99% of the time be facing the player because of the way the hate mechanic works. However, Blue Mages can use the attacks and still face any direction; as long as the monster is looking at YOU, the spell will land.
  • In League of Legends Cassiopeia's Petrifying Gaze has a reduced effect on people who are looking away from her.
  • In NetHack, Floating Eyes and Medusa can't use their gaze attacks on you if you're blindfolded.
  • In World of Warcraft, the Lunatic Gaze spell is employed during the battle with insanity-inducing Eldritch Abomination Yogg-Saron. The spell does damage to any affected player and lowers their sanity (a mechanic used for the encounter; if it reaches zero, the player goes 'insane' and is mind-controlled by Yogg-Saron for the remainder of the fight). In both instances of its use (periodically by Yogg-Saron itself, or constantly by the Laughing Skulls), facing away from the caster allows a player to avoid the effects entirely.

     Web Comics 
  • Inverted in Unsounded, the glamor that makes Duane appear alive is broken by eye contact, allowing them to see his real decayed form. This applies to the readers as well, who only see him like that when his eyes are exposed.

    Web Original 
  • Most people don't know that Medusa, a supervillain from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, is the Medusa from Greek myth. She wears very dark Ray Ban sunglasses to keep from petrifying people she actually wants to talk to.
  • The eyes of gaia trait in Phaeton is like this as are other as of yet unnamed eye powers.

     Western Animation 
  • In Gargoyles' "City of Stone", Demona casts a spell that affects only people who have both heard and seen it cast; Hudson's blind friend, who had been listening to it on TV, is unaffected, and the rest of the gargoyles are rendered safe when someone hits the Mute button.
  • In Hotel Transylvania Jonathan's contact lenses make him immune to Dracula's mind control powers.
  • Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures subverts this trope. In the episode "Heroes," Jeremiah Surd transforms his Questworld avatar into Medusa in order to petrify the Quest clan. When he's got Jonny trapped, the boy makes a run for his Virtual File Finder, which has the shape of a shiny, mirrored shield. However, Jonny doesn't use the VFF to look at Medusa!Surd via reflection, he made Medusa!Surd see his own reflection in it so he would petrify himself.
  • Papa Smurf in The Smurfs episode "Romeo And Smurfette" uses an eye contact magic spell on Gargamel the wizard so that the two of them would switch appearances and that Papa Smurf would be able to stop the Smurfs from fighting over Smurfette. During this, however, Gargamel breaks into Papa Smurf's laboratory and finds the magic words so that he can make eye contact with Papa Smurf and transform back to their original appearances. Note that this scene is adapted from the European comic book story Smurf vs. Smurf.
  • In one episode of the Disney animated series Hercules, the title character fights Medusa with a shiny bronze shield which reflects her image so he can see her without turning to stone. And when she turns good Aphrodite gives her a pair of sunglasses that allow her to look people in the eyes without mineralizing them.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender , the Fire Nation troops that conquer Omashu restrain master Earthbender King Bumi by keeping him suspended in mid-air in a metal casket. This wasn't enough, since Bumi is able to bend earth as long as he can see it, and the metal casket left his face exposed. When the solar eclipse (during which firebenders are depowered) occurs, Bumi promptly levitates some rocks to free himself and singlehandedly takes back Omashu.

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alternative title(s): Never Look Eye; Eye Cast A Spell; No Eye Contact No Magic
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