During times of emotional stress, a character's eyes, or just the reflected highlights in them, will shake perceptibly. The aim is usually to show someone on the verge of tears; as in, their eyes are pricking, or tears are welling, or something difficult to show otherwise. This is not usually a comedy trope, and can in fact mean that things have turned very serious. It may presage a Sparkling Stream of Tears
if the situation gets worse. It can also indicate extreme happiness or love. When the irises shrink and
shake, it's usually to indicate great shock and/or fear. Pretty hard (but not impossible) to replicate in Real Life
. Best not to try, really
Anime and Manga
- In Berserk, this almost always happens anytime Griffith gives his trademark beast-stare to anyone, or looks them in the eyes at all.
- Also happens a lot to Casca when she's feeling emotional (and that's almost always, as she's generally either raging or sobbing at all times).
- Naruto uses this trope, quite often Played for Laughs.
- Happens plenty of times in Princess Tutu, sometimes ending with the character breaking down.
- God knows how many times this happens in Elfen Lied, considering that nearly every female character has been broken at one point or another.
- Akane Tendo in Ranma ½, every time Ranma does something that goes beyond their normal bickering and really hurts her feelings.
- Happens to Lelouch of Code Geass when Suzaku springs on him that Nunally will be the next Governor of Area 11.
- All of the girls in Candy Boy are prone to this, but Yukino really takes the cake.
- Full Metal Panic!:
- Sousuke does this, most noticeably in TSR, when Gauron tells him that he had Kaname killed.
- Gauron himself does this during the time when he hijacks the Tuatha de Dannan, when he realizes that Kaname managed to regain control of the submarine. And in another instance, he ends up doing this in The Second Raid, on his death bed, while he's taunting Sousuke and yelling for Sousuke to hate him, in the hopes of Sousuke killing him.
- In Outlaw Star, Professor Nguyen Khan has some impressively quivery eyes.
- Done regularly in Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Hachiyou Shou, but a specific mention should probably go to the end of episode 22, where this happens to the normally emotionless Yasuaki once he starts to consider himself useless.
- Happens to Faye Valentine in the last episode of Cowboy Bebop.
- Hanaukyō Maid Tai. Often occurs with Puppy-Dog Eyes, particularly in the first series.
- This is used in emotional scenes in Saint Beast, such as Maya throwing a tantrum over Kira wanting to leave heaven and Rey and Luca promising to always fly together.
- Happens in the 2003 version of Fullmetal Alchemist when Ed discovers the splattered remains of a chimera-fied Nina after she was mercy killed by Scar.
- In Kotoura-san, Haruka Kotoura does this every time she is called and/or thought of as "a monster", which is her Trigger. The second episode even combines this with Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises, Dull Eyes of Unhappiness, and Tears of Fear for a truly horrifying effect.
- Happens quite often in Project K- even to the normally cruel Fushimi when he hears about the death of a former clansman.
- In Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note, Aya, being the local Nervous Wreck, has this nearly Once an Episode. Other members of the cast have them occasionally as well:
- In episode 11, when Aya learns from Uesugi the reason behind the latter's strange behavior during the arc: his eye are so bad that he can't even see text any more. And a moment later, both the speaker and the listener gets this, as Uesugi mentions any treatment for his condition has at most 40% success rate, and bears the real risk of a complete loss of vision.
- In episode 12, as Aya relays the same news from above to Kuroki and Kozuka (with Hidden Eyes), the latter two get this as well.
- Frank Langella does this a couple times in the 1979 version of Dracula whe he gives more intensive stares to the ladies.
- In the Kadambari of Bana (ca. A.D. 600), "thy twin eyes announce a cause of great joy, for they are dilated, their pupils are tremulous, and they are bathed in tears of joy,..."