During the 1920s
and going into the 1930s
, animated characters were sometimes drawn with eyes or pupils that were black and circular, but shaped like a pie that's had one slice removed from it, with the missing slice being an oversimplified representation of a radial light reflection. It is remembered today as one of the most iconic features of the Inkblot Cartoon Style
. Pie-eyes were widespread until around the time color became the standard for most cartoons in the early 1940s, by which time the Inkblot Cartoon Style
had fallen out of favor, and Western Animation
as a whole had undergone significant Art Evolution
. The style sometimes appeared in comics as well, particularly the Disney ones, and others based on characters that first appeared in animation.
When it shows up in modern media, it's usually as an homage or throwback
. Parodies of the Inkblot Cartoon Style
will almost always employ this along with Rubber Hose Limbs
and the like.
Another variation is Crescent Moon Pupils, where the characters are drawn with pupils shaped like crescent moons
See also Black Bead Eyes
, which were also employed in black and white cartoons, and Sudden Eye Colour
, which happens when a character who was once pie-eyed gets more "standard" looking eyes in redesigns. Not to be confused with a slang term for being drunk, or with the results of a Pie in the Face
- Betty Boop, and most of her supporting characters.
- Popeye characters in the cartoon sometimes had them, usually only during close-ups.
- Dinky Doodle
- Porky Pig, in the 1930s.
- Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid, Depending on the Artist.
- Mickey Mouse occasionally sported these eyes (as seen in the above image) in his early days, when he didn't just have Black Bead Eyes. It sometimes went between the two within the same exact short. He had them more consistently in the comics.
- The characters in the Merrie Melodies short I Love to Singa, a rare color example.
- Felix the Cat in some shorts.
- Foxy from Merrie Melodies.
- The Coachman's Nightmare Face from Pinocchio has a variant— he has black pupils and green irises, but the white highlight is the pie style.
- Not a cartoon, but many characters from Carl Barks' Disney Ducks Comic Universe stories are pie-eyed.
- Buddy from Merrie Melodies. When brought back in Animaniacs in the 1990's as an overly dull parody of his former self he maintained them.
- Flip the Frog
- Mascot example: The Cleveland Indians' Chief Wahoo◊, whose design has undergone slight revisions since its 1951 introduction, has always been pie-eyed.
- Dr. Seuss uses the crescent pupil variation on his illustrations.
Modern Examples and Homages
- It was used in the 2 Stupid Dogs short "Hobo Hounds", which was made to look like an old silent cartoon.
- Appropriately enough, when Namco's Pac-Man is pictured in his mascot form (as having arms and legs) he usually has these eyes. It shows up on the arcade cabinet art, and in later games such as Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures and Pac-Man World. Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures also features this for most characters, while '80s American Pac-Man art such as the Hanna-Barbera cartoon avoided it.
- Most characters in My Life as a Teenage Robot, which uses a Retraux style, has most of the characters with a small "slice" taken out of their eye, though Jenny has eyes like Philips-head screws.
- In Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, Don Patch sometimes has these eyes.
- Toot Braunstein from Drawn Together, who is a parody of Betty Boop.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Truth or Square", Patchy shows a SpongeBob short in a 1920s style, where everything has this eye style.
- Also, SpongeBob is comically pie-eyed when he learns that he will be the cashier in "Squid's Day Off".
- The animated segment in Johnny Dangerously uses them, as it's done in a 1930s art style.
- Cat clocks with moving eyes often are pie-eyed.
- In The Powerpuff Girls episode "Silent Treatment", the girls gain these when they get trapped inside a silent cartoon.
- Mostly everyone in the The Super Mario Bros. Super Show cartoon has this feature, a rare modern usage not meant as a throwback.
- MOTHER 1 clay models had these kind of eyes on Ninten and Ana. Loid and Teddy's aren't apparent because they wear Opaque Nerd Glasses and Cool Shades respectively. This is another rare modern usage that is not a throwback. However, the characters in the two sequels feature Black Bead Eyes instead.
- Mr. Hankey and his family from South Park. Also, in the episode "Red Sleigh Down", proximity to Christmas presents caused children to briefly morph into old-fashioned pie-eyed cartoons.
- The song "The Ghost of Stephen Foster" by the Squirrel Nut Zippers had an Animated Music Video that paid homage to the Max and Dave Fleischer cartoons of the 1930's. Every character in the video is pie-eyed.
- The Futurama episode "Reincarnation," which parodies several animation styles, gave these to the cast◊ in the 1930s-style segment.
- The characters in Happy Tree Friends.
- GastroPhobia has a Western storyline drawn in this style.
- Used in El Tigre by almost every character.
- The Brownie from the animated segment in the Reefer Madness musical.
- Homestar Runner: Coach Z's Old-Timey counterpart.
- Most characters in Tony Comics have these eyes.
- Kingdom Hearts II uses this for the Retraux segment, where Sora and company travel to the time of Steamboat Willie to help out Mickey Mouse.
- The rebooted Mickey Mouse cartoons (2013-present) such as "No Service" have these eyes on everyone, with more consistency than the original black and white shorts.
- Doggy D. Dachshund in The Cartoon Chronicles Of Conroy Cat, whose shtick is being a Jaded Washout from the appropriate era, has these.
- Tony the Alp from Charby the Vampirate has them when deprived of his hat (which kind of depowers him).
- The characters' models in some seasons of Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends have these.
- In the first season of American Dragon: Jake Long, nearly all the characters are drawn with these.
- Most of the male Toon characters in the webcomic Love Me Nice are pie-eyed, possibly as an homage to the old Inkblot style. One character, Roger, essentially is an Inkblot cartoon character.
- Being based on old-timey silent-era cartoons, the characters of Silent Sillies have this as part of their designs.
- Mr. Sparkle, the Japanese detergent mascot that happened to look like Homer in The Simpsons episode "In Marge We Trust", had them.
- A Playmobil set with two vampire figures features these on the female vampire.
- The Japanese version of Crash Bandicoot had characters with these eyes.
- In The Lorax, the cartoony version of the Once-ler depicted on advertising banners has pupils like this.
- In the LEGO Adaptation Game series, minifigs evolved from having Black Bead Eyes in the earliest games to being Pie-Eyed in the later ones (as well as designing such a variety of minifigs that some averted this trope and had unique eyes.)
- In the Rocko's Modern Life Show Within a Show Meet the Fatheads, a Girl Scout approaches Mr. Fathead to sell him some cookies. She is drawn in this fashion, and when he eats her and she's "rescued" by his wife, her pupils are dilated.
- The characters from Max and Ruby have pie-shaped pupils.
- The characters in the 2017 video game Cuphead have these kind of eyes (fitting, since the entire game is a giant homage to animation circa the 1930s).
- The Toons from Bendy and the Ink Machine have these.
- In The Grossery Gang webseries, characters from "back in the day" are portrayed with this style of pupil instead of the standard round ones for an old-fashioned feel.
- The silent cartoon webcomic Silent Sillies is set in the 1930's and naturally pie eyes are apart of the character's design.
- Piri Piri from Harvey Beaks has these.
- DuckTales (2017) characters have thin slices in their eyes as a nod to Carl Barks' style.
- My Hero Academia has Mirio Togawa, whose appearance is supposed to be a reference to the Vault Boy of Fallout.