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Reflective Eyes

A character's eyes reflecting what they see. A useful visual effect because it allows the audience to see the character's reaction at the same time as they see the action happening. It's a nifty effect that has not passed the notice of writers and has been used by them in various ways.

May also be used with Cool Shades, Scary Shiny Glasses, lenses, and other forms of eye coverings.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In the X1999 anime series, we see the reflection of Fuuma's hand coming towards Subaru to pluck out his eye.
  • Lyrical Nanoha
  • In Ayashi no Ceres, during the time when Aya and Tooya were living together, Tooya is reflected in Aya's eyes when she talks about her love for him.
  • In Princess Tutu, at one point Fakir pushes Mytho's face up into a mirror, angrily demanding him to look at himself. The camera then cuts to a shot of Mytho's own face reflected in his eyes.
    • The creators of Princess Tutu really like this effect. We also see Tutu reflected in Mytho's eyes after he kisses her hand (and similarly for Kraehe in another scene), and in the promo, Fakir's face is reflected in Duck's eyes while they are dancing together.
    • In a bit of a variation, Rue once sees Princess Tutu in Mytho's eyes, reflecting what he's thinking rather than what he sees.
  • The Hanged Man in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure takes advantage of this when fighting Polnareff and Kakyoin. His Stand can hide in any reflective surface - including the human cornea. There are a number of moments during the fight where his opponents look someone in the eye and see the Hanged Man appear in front of their reflection.
  • In The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya, there have been multiple times in which Kyon is reflected in Yuki's beautiful eyes, in close-ups. Example 1 and 2.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, there have been numerous times where Sousuke's eyes have reflected what he saw. One particular instance was when Sousuke was fighting Gauron for the first time inside the Arbalest, and Al started utilizing the Lambda Driver, and Sousuke's eyes were shown to reflect what's on the screen.
  • A tiny computer screen image is reflected in Albert's eyes in episode 16 of Gankutsuou.
  • The climax of Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Maihitoyo includes a scene where a character actually sees his own reflection in the main heroine's eyes (shown to the audience from his point of view). He proceeds to dislike the reflection.
  • Chitanda Eru and Houtarou Oreki's first on-screen encounter in Hyouka.
  • In Gakuen Babysitters, both the twins Kazuma and Takuma are reflected in each other's eyes when they are reunited after one of them got better from a cold.
  • In Black Lagoon, Gretel's eyes reflect the beautiful blue sky above after she's shot in the head.
  • In Death Note, at one point during L and Light's fight, we see Light reflected in L's eye right before he punches him.
  • In Naruto Shikamaru does this in the battle where Asuma dies.
  • Played for scares in Soul Eater, when Maka's terrified face is reflected in one of Crona's eyes just before zhe tries to chop her up. Soul takes the sword for her.
  • Happens quite often in Free!, most frequently Rin being reflected in Haru's eyes.

    Comic Books 
  • Used by Alan Davis in the first issue of Excalibur, way-back-when. He had Rachel (one of the Phoenixes) staring into a campfire, and in her eyes you can see the Flaming Phoenix reflected. A commentary by Claremont mentioned that he didn't write that into the script, it was just something Alan Davis (the artist) tossed in that Claremont loved.
  • The subject of many comic covers
  • One early issue of Elfquest shows Cutter and Leetah reflected in Rayek's eyes, expressing his blazing jealousy.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Spider-Man Trilogy:
    • Used in Spider-Man, twice: Mary Jane in one eye, the tram car in another, and as a pumpkin bomb is thrown at Spider-Man — but Peter's eye is shown instead of Spidey's lens-eye.
    • One of the posters for Spider-Man 2 shows Doctor Octopus in the reflection of Spider-Man's eyes.
    • This trope is also used in the film itself. At one point we see in Doc Ock's wife's eyes shards of glass flying towards her—right before they tear through her and she falls dead to the ground.
    • And again a short while later, when the surgeon about to cut off the mechanical limbs sees the tentacle reflected in the other surgeon's protective goggles.
  • James Bond
  • And parodied in Austin Powers.
  • In In Like Flint, Flint hypnotizes Lloyd Cramden with a watch that blinks in a circular pattern. The dots appear on Cramden's eyes as he's looking at it.
  • In the final fight scene of Drunken Master, Jackie Chan's eyes was able to keep up with the speed of the fast fists of his opponents as shown from the eyes' reflection.
  • In The Matrix, when Morpheus is giving Neo the Red Pill, Blue Pill choice, there's a shot where the lenses of his Cool Shades each reflect one of the two pills, as well as Neo looking at them.
    • Bit of trivia: the filmmakers didn't expect to have to digitally add the reflection in; when they did, they had to have someone do a storyboard for it (otherwise it wouldn't be covered by their budget, due to regulations).
  • Danny Boyle seems to like this trope; there's reflective eyes in Sunshine and in Slumdog Millionaire when the Jamal and Salim discover Latika in the hotel.
  • Strangers on a Train has a variation of this. As Bruno begins strangling Guy's wife Miriam, her glasses fall from her face and onto the ground; we then get a closeup of one of the lenses, in which the completion of the murder is reflected.
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey has a couple of shots where one of the astronauts is reflected in HAL's red eye.
  • The Executioner's report to The Council of Elders ("The energy input to Jor-El's quarters is now in excess." where the two characters he addressed are reflected in his helmet's lenses) in Superman, as well as a deleted scene of him flying around a crumbling Krypton, ending with the reflection of a giant shard of crystal caught in his bare eye just before he dies.
  • In Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, Alan's glasses reflect what he is really looking at on his laptop.
  • In Clockers Detective Klein leans in close to look at Victor's eyes, saying "I want to see what you see." The camera focuses on Klein's reflection in Victor's tired, bloodshot eye, and when Klein dismisses his testimony as a lie, he slowly closes both eyes in resignation.

    Film - Animated 
  • This is actually a plot point in The Last Unicorn (as well as the original book) and the basis of one of the best soliloquies in animation. Unlike normal people, Lady Amalthea's eyes do not reflect light; instead they show a forest view. The author/screenwriter uses this to play on the idea that regular people often simply reflect others rather than dealing with them as people. As Amalthea becomes more human and forgets herself, her eyes begin to show reflection.
  • Happens too many times in We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story.
  • In Shane Acker's 9, this is how 6's death is shown, reflected in 9's lenses.
  • In The Secret of NIMH, the Great Owl's huge eyes reflect Mrs. Brisby as he leans to her; a strong effect, as his eyes are almost as large as her entire body.
  • The poster for Dinosaur shows a prehistoric landscape being reflected onto a reptilian eye.

    Literature 
  • According to the book Red Dragon, yes, this is somebody's sexual fetish. Which is why he has to collect all those shards of broken mirror.
  • In the Discworld novel Feet of Clay, the Watch finds a vital clue when the old myth about your last sight being burned into your eye turns out to be true.
  • Most of the Chronicles of the Last Dragon books have reflective dragon eyes on the covers, generally reflecting something plot significant. Fire Star has...well, a Fire Star. Dark Fire has a Darkling being reflected. Fire World has a Fire Bird being seen.
  • Mentioned briefly in Diplomatic Immunity: the small cabin Miles is using on a fast cruiser doesn't have a mirror, so he has to use his wife's eyes instead.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Smallville, "Arrival", the Fortress of Solitude is seen as reflection in Chloe's eyes.
  • In Twin Peaks, Agent Cooper sees the reflection of a motorcycle in Laura Palmer's eye while watching a video of her dancing with her friend.
  • CSI used this one to establish the setting for a work of... amateur photography. (After much use of the Enhance Button, a port hole can be seen in the subject's eye, establishing the shot as having been taken on a boat.)
  • The first episode of Power Rangers RPM uses this to help establish Col. Truman's Colonel Badass credentials as distant explosions reflect off his Cool Shades while he stoically leads his men in the front lines.
  • Dexter: When Lumen watches the DVD of her own rape/torture, this is used in a mercifully discreet way.
  • In the Doctor Who episode: "The Beast Below", Amy's eyes reflect the information she is seeing in the Voting Stall.
  • We watch in Naevia's eyes as her lover Crixus is beheaded in Spartacus: Blood and Sand. It's less about showing her reaction— she's mostly frozen at this instant— and more about giving one of the longest running characters a suitably dignified and meaningful end.
  • Ultra Seven: Dan Moroboshi's superior from M-78 appears this way.

    Video Games 
  • Apollo Justice of Ace Attorney Dual Destinies, in the opening. We get to see the sky in his eye!
  • The box cover on Resident Evil: Code: Veronica featured advancing Zombies reflected in Claire's eyes.
  • In the secret ending to Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+, when Ven is caught at the helmet by Master Xenahort and his helmet is getting crushed open, he catches a glimpse of Aqua staring at him in horror, her face briefly reflected in Ven's eyes before Xenahort freezes Ven and tosses him aside.
  • Used in the box cover of the Command & Conquer, with a lone soldier watching a battle that we see through the reflections of his goggles.
  • Vent and Aile in Mega Man ZX Advent.
  • Used in the ending scene of Pokémon X and Y when AZ's Floette finally returns to him.

    Web Comics / Web Originals 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • There is an "Amazing but true" book that mentions a young boy who claimed to have psychic powers by getting people to read a book in front of him - he would then tell them what page of the book they had randomly turned to. The truth was that his eyesight was so precise that he could read the reflections off the corneas of his subject.
  • A picture of Dick Cheney grinning at something reflected in his sunglasses popped up on the Internet. Speculation on the object's identity abounded, with some suggesting it was a naked woman and others claiming it was an illegal immigrant being abused. Cheney's people released a larger, clearer picture, revealing that it was in fact his own hand, holding a fishing pole.


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