A character who looks young by all appearances—except their eyes, which belong to an old person instead. Since the Eyes Never Lie
and are Windows of the Soul
, it usually means that the character is much older than their body appears to be
, had a very Dark and Troubled Past
, or has Seen It All
and is Wise Beyond Their Years
. Also a frequent attribute of Shell Shocked Veterans
as the so-called Thousand-Yard Stare
This is specifically an In-Universe
trope, where other characters remark on the apparent age discrepancy between the character's face and their eyes.
A common inversion, where a character who looks very old has the eyes of a child, indicates that the person retained the youthful sense of wonder for life despite experiencing most of it already.
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Anime and Manga
- In Lady Snowblood, a thieves guild chief recognizes Oyuki, who poses as a harmless young woman, as a major threat by noticing that her eyes can only belong to someone who has walked through hell.
- In one of the ElfQuest stories from "Hidden Years", the human couple who Tyleet befriends are at first amazed when Tyleet tells them she's pregnant, because she looks like a child to them (canonically, Tyleet is older than most trees). Then the man points out that they should have known by Tyleet's eyes.
Unnamed Human Man: "— a child, wife? No... we should have known! Her wondrous eyes always said so! She may be older than the trees... older, even, than the mountains they grow on...!"
- The Thousand-Yard Stare is discussed in Full Metal Jacket.
- In Come and See, the protagonist, a young boy enlisted in the Belarusian army to fight the Nazis, quickly becomes traumatized by the horrors surrounding him. Horrible wrinkles form around his eyes and he has a glassy stare for much of the film, although his hair eventually grays a little, turning this trope up a few notches.