Yellow Eyes of Sneakiness

In fiction, when a character has yellow eyes, mainly the sclera, it usually denotes that a character has a rather unscrupulous nature. Sure signs that a character cannot be trusted or is a bit of a Jerkass.

Historically, this is probably inspired by canines, felines, reptiles and birds of prey, which can have Amber, yellow, or Orange irises, and are associated with being conniving, clever, and wise. Also reptiles and toads are sometimes associated with villainy, and can have yellow eyes. Ironically in these animals what you're usually seeing are larger irises which were probably mistaken for a yellow sclera.

In Real Life yellow and brown in the sclera, or the cornea in people is unhealthy. It's usually a symptom of allergies or some kind of disease. Yellow sclera is a typical symptom of jaundice.

Compare Supernatural Gold Eyes and Black Eyes of Crazy.


Anime and Manga

  • In Cinderella, Lady Tremaine was seen with yellow scleras in the scene where she takes the key to Cinderella's bedroom and closes the door before locking it. Also the mean, sneaky cat, Lucifer has yellow sclerae by default.
  • The Great Mouse Detective: The main villain of the movie, Professor Ratigan, has a yellow sclera, and has an Evil Plan to take over a kingdom.
  • A Christmas Story: Although never shown, the narrator swears that neighborhood bully Scut Farkus had yellow eyes.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Turbo has yellow scleras and he coined the term "going Turbo" when he tried to take over other games out of jealousy.
  • Rise of the Guardians: Pitch, the Boogeyman, has yellow eyes that glow a bit in the darkness of his lair.
  • X-Men:
    • Mystique. In many ways, given she's so sneaky that can change to regular white eyes.
    • Toad's eyes, and with frog-like irises.

  • In Good Omens, the demon Crowley habitually takes the form of a louche and cool young man in his middle twenties, but has to wear sunglasses to conceal his eyes - which are reptilian rather than human, yellow-gold with a vertical slitted pupil. He is a demon - therefore the embodiment of wily, crafty and untrustworthy.
  • The Berenstain Bears has an odd Double-Subversion. In ...and the Green-Eyed Monster, the eponymous monster representing Sister Bear's envy has yellow eyes.
  • Amusing example in The Children Of Man, where yellow eyes are the mark of one who can use yellow magic, the magic of art, illusion, and manipulation.
  • Author Simon R. Green uses this trope a lot in his fantasy series, having a particular fondness for ascribing "eyes as yellow as urine" to beings that are undead, demonic, unspeakably-vile, or all three at once.

Tabletop Games
  • Warhammer 40,000: Averted with the Space Wolves, who acquire yellow eyes (and other wolf-like characteristics like fangs and grey hair) via their Chapter's geneseed (jokes about species diversity in their genetic heritage are at your own peril), and are as far removed from sneakiness and subtlety as you'd expect jet-fuel-quaffing guns-and-power-axe-wielding berserk werewolf space Vikings to be.

Video Games
  • In BlazBlue, Hazama/Yuuki Terumi sports these when he actually opens up his eyes. This is one of the signs in Continuum Shift that foreshadows his villainy.
  • In Touhou Project, resident liar and (spell)thief Marisa Kirisame has yellow eyes, as well as Yukari Yakumo (though they apparently used to be purple), who is known for being a very youkai-like youkai.

Web Comics
  • The entire troll race of Homestuck have yellow sclera. As a whole they are significantly more blood-thirsty than humans, and deceit and murder are a huge part of their lives. However, the unsavory aspects of their culture turn out to be the result of an Eldritch Abomination socially engineering it to be horrible - before that, they were peaceful, making it a subversion.

Live-Action TV
  • Data's Evil Twin (Actually, he's younger than his 'Brother') Lore is identical to him... but his eyes do seem a little more Yellow than Gold...

Western Animation
  • Ratty from Mr. Bogus, which is appropriate, befitting his conniving nature.
  • Socrates from Adventures from the Book of Virtues has these, to show that while he may be seem rather sneaky, he is actually shown to have a good heart because of his hidden innocence.
  • Plankton from Spongebob Squarepants, despite having only one eye, would actually also count for this, as he is often scheming to steal the Krabby Patty secret formula.
    • Squidward on his... sneakier days.
  • Wile E Coyote from Chuck Jones' Looney Tunes has yellow eyes compared to the Road Runner's ivory white eyes, since he is always coming up with sneaky schemes to catch the Road Runner, although without any success.
  • Tom Cat from MGM's Tom and Jerry has yellow eyes in his early cartoons compared to those of Jerry Mouse, often scheming against the mouse. The yellowness would disappear by the time of the Cinemascope cartoons.
  • The foxes in The Foxbusters have yellow eyes, to denote that they are always scheming to catch the chickens on the farm.
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox: In the original book by Roald Dahl, the eyes of Mr. Fox are just black spots on white sclera but in the animated version he actually has irises. The color of Mrs. Fox's eyes is blue, while Mr. Fox has yellow eyes that emphasize his sneaky nature. With a little Fridge Logic involved, this can even turn into a spoiler: Ash Fox struggles to get his father to notice him, while his cousin Kristofferson gets constant praise from Mr. Fox. In the end, Ash manages to save the day rather impressively... and his eyes are the same greenish yellow his father has, whereas Kristofferson has light blue eyes!
  • Super Mario Bros.: In all three DiC cartoons, sneaky Card-Carrying Villain King Koopa has these. He is constantly drawing up schemes, some with his Koopa Kids in the latter two series.
  • Discord, the mischievous spirit of chaos and disharmony from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, sports these with googly red pupils to go with them.
  • Many of the villains and jerks in 101 Dalmatians: The Series had yellow eyes, including Swamp Rat and one of his henchmen, Cydne (who also happens to be a snake), Cruella De Vil (which is odd, since in the original movie she had white eyes), as well as most of her family of De Vils. Mooch also had yellow eyes to show off how much a Jerk Jock he is. Interestingly, Spot the chicken has large yellow eyes, despite being part of the main cast, as well as Sergeant Tibs the cat (yellow scleras with green pupils) who is the Colonel's most loyal rank member.
  • When Dipper has his body stolen by Bill Cipher in Gravity Falls, "Bipper" gains yellow sclerae and slit pupils. It's an unusual example- Bill in his usual form has a slit pupil, but his sclera is white.
  • Katz from Courage the Cowardly Dog has a pair of yellow eyes that help enhance his Obviously Evil appearance.
    • As does one-shot villain Fusilli.