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Sudden Eye Colour

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As a form of Art Evolution, an Art Shift, or some other means, a character gains coloured irises.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Pichu-kun on Nov 27th 2013 at 3:25:57 AM
Last Edited By:
Pichu-kun on Feb 20th 2018 at 8:21:27 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

It was once quite common for characters to have Black Bead Eyes or Pie Eyes instead of having irises. While it's in no way rare these days, it's also not quite as typical as it was before. In remakes, sequels of older media, or (in the case of Long-Runners) as the series progresses, the characters will often be given coloured irises instead of their traditional dots.

Another variation is for irises to appear coloured during special circumstances, such as an Art Shift to a less simplistic style or when a character undergoes a transformation.

This is a sub-trope to Art Evolution and is often a sub-trope to Early Installment Character-Design Difference.


Examples

Anime and Manga

  • Pokémon:
    • In the anime, Ash had always been depicted with brown eyes, but they only normally looked brown during close-up shots or in dramatic moments. Come "Best Wishes" and he got redesigned to have his eyes colored brown at all times.
    • Other characters have followed suit over the years, such as Charmander's original owner Damian having purple eyes in a flashback instead of Black Bead Eyes.
    • This also occurs to the Pokemon themselves. For example, Flareon were originally depicted with completely black eyes that had blue shading in certain scenes. Starting with Best Wishes, they consistently have green eyes. Meowth had almost black eyes with only mild blue shading in the Original Series, but his eyes eventually became full-on blue.
  • Yellow from Pokémon Adventures had Black Bead Eyes in her colored artwork until the Firered and Leafgreen arc gave her an eye color. Fans are torn on whether it's stylized brown, green, or yellowish-green.
  • Inverted with Red's Pikachu in Pocket Monsters. He originally had green eyes, but by Ruby and Sapphire was rebooted to having Black Bead Eyes like most Pikachu.
  • The general style of anime has changed since the 1990s. While characters did have eye colors, often times they were quite dark looking (either due to the animation or the art-style). Newer sequels and remakes done in the 2000s and 2010s give the characters bigger and brighter eyes; compare the first season of You're Under Arrest! to the final season, or the 90s Sailor Moon anime to Sailor Moon Crystal.
  • Naruto: Konohamaru had this occur to him post-series. When shown as a teenager and an adult in Boruto he has either blue or brown eyes, in contrast to the Black Bead Eyes he had throughout Part 1 and Part 2.

Comic Books

  • The Archie Comics characters traditionally drawn with black eyes, but are occasionally depicted with iris colors (for example, Betty had blue eyes went when goth, but normal eyes in her normal attire). Spinoffs have a tendency of giving them eye colors:
    • It's never been too consistent, but Archie almost always has Innocent Blue Eyes, while Veronica, Betty, and Jughead either have blue eyes or brown eyes.
    • Sabrina from Sabrina the Teenage Witch originally had black eyes, but in the 2000s, Archie's began giving her blue eyes, though prior dialogue stated that she had green eyes.
    • The Archie Comics (2015) reboot has a far less stylized art style then before, and everyone now has colored eyes. Archie is now a Significant Green-Eyed Redhead, Betty has blue eyes, Veronica has brown eyes, etc.
  • Sonic the Comic:
    • Sonic the Comic had this happen in-universe. Originally, Sonic had black eyes that "glowed green with Chaos energy" when he went Super Sonic. Later, he was attacked by a creature of pure Chaos energy, and the experience turned his eyes permanently green (or red in Super Sonic mode), in order to match the changes to his videogame design. According to one post-series cover, this might have been retconned away so that he gained green eyes in the same accident that caused his blue fur.
    • To follow with the games changing art style, Sonic the Comic gave the Freedom Fighters new eye colors part-way into the Sonic Adventure adaptation. Amy and Tails have brown eyes, while Johnny and Porker Lewis both have blue eyes. Knuckles has Icy Blue Eyes as well.

Film — Animation

Film — Live Action

Live-Action TV

  • Rare live-action example— Leela in Doctor Who originally had brown eyes as a hangover from an original plan to have her Ambiguously Brown. The actress, Louise Jameson, had naturally blue eyes, and had a lot of trouble with the colour-changing contact lenses she had to wear, so at the end of the story "Horror of Fang Rock", Leela's eyes are explicitly turned blue in story due to looking too closely at a laser beam and/or exploding spaceship.
  • Code Lyoko: Evolution changed the traditionally animated segments of Code Lyoko to live action segments. The CGI "Lyoko" parts are higher quality as well. Instead of generic "black" eyes, the characters have eye colours in animated form. Odd has light brown eyes, Aelita has green eyes, Yumi has brown eyes, and Ulrich has brown eyes.

Video Games

  • Pac-Man: Pac-Man has almost always been depicted as Pie-Eyed. Even when he's not, his eyes were always black, except for an old international design that had red sclera. The 2010 game Pac Man Party gave most of the characters a redesign, which included giving Pac-Man blue eyes.
  • Alex from Alex Kidd had Black Bead Eyes in his source games. His appearance in Segagaga has him with green eyes, while his appearance in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing has him with blue eyes.
  • In general, the Pokémon characters began having eye colors around Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, with most adaptations following soon afterwards, instead of generic black eyes. For example, Red and Blue gained brown eyes in their remakes, while Ethan and Silver gained blue and grey ones, respectively.
  • As a part of the redesigns for Sonic Adventure, most of the Sonic the Hedgehog characters went from having Black Bead Eyes to having colored ones. Sonic has green, Tails has blue, Amy also has green, and Knuckles has violet.
  • Donkey Kong:
  • Early games in The Legend of Zelda franchise did not show Link's or Zelda's eye colors. Later games give Link Innocent Blue Eyes and Zelda usually has blue eyes too.
  • Crash's eyes were meant to be green in Crash Bandicoot (1996), but his model only shows Black Bead Eyes. His higher poly model from the sequel shows his eye color.
  • Kirby: The earlier games (like Kirbys Dreamland) had the titular Kirby having simple dots/lines as eyes. Later games would show him having dark blue eyes.

Web Comics

  • Dumbing of Age: Most of the characters are drawn with plain black eyes with lead character Joyce being the most obvious exception. Glasses-wearing Ruth was given black eyes as well initially, until cartoonist David Willis looked at his older art of her and remembered that he had given her green eyes. In order to fit the change into the story, he had the switch-over happen the moment Ruth's love interest Billie first started to see Ruth as a person rather than an antagonist, so it works as visual symbolism.
  • In Homestuck, all of the main characters were originally drawn with just their pupils, but as the series started to use more sophisticated art styles, it was revealed that the main characters have irises matching their writing color, with the exception of Karkat (red eyes) and Sollux (red and blue sclerae with no pupils or irises).

Western Animation

  • Scooby-Doo:
  • In the Animesque art shift of one The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode, Mandy was depicted as having blue eyes.
  • South Park:
    • All the boys gained colored eyes in their anime versions for "Good Times With Weapons".
    • Kenny has been explicitly shown to have blue eyes on at least one other occasion, when his eye was pulled out in "Starvin Marvin".
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: The chipmunks have had their signature eye colors already established, however, this didn't happen until The Chipmunk Adventure, and subsequent episodes of the 1980s series that were produced by DiC, when Alvin and Simon were given blue eyes, and Theodore was given green eyes; prior to that, the Ruby-Spears produced episodes and previous incarnations gave each of them plain, black eyes.
  • In Rocko's Modern Life, almost all of the characters typically had standard cartoon eyes, though on occasion during the later seasons, Heffer was shown to have green pupils (not irises), and Filburt and the Bigheads were show to have purple pupils. Rocko's are blue, but are only seen during his freakouts.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In one episode, Marge complains that Homer doesn't remember what her eye color is. For that one episode, and in fact for only one closeup shot, she had irises. (They're hazel.
    • In a realistic Art Shift, the Simpson children were all depicted with blue eyes.
  • VeggieTales in the House gives the characters newer models and, most noticeably, eye colors.
  • Initial drafts of the Loonatics Unleashed had the six heroes appear without irises or pupils while in uniform. Fan outcry compelled Warner Brothers to redesign the characters with colored irises and pupils, except while using their superpowers.
  • In Wander over Yonder, Wander only gets irises when under stress or making puppy dog eyes. Hater already has green eyes, but gets irises of a darker shade when he's stressed.
  • Rugrats:
    • In the unaired pilot, Tommy's eyes are shown to be blue in a close-up.
    • The short lived spinoff Angelica and Suzie's Preschool Daze uses a different artstyle from other Rugrats series. All the characters consistently have eye colors. Angelica has blue eyes, Suzie has brown eyes, and Harold also has blue eyes.
    • Toys often gave Angelica purple eyes for whatever reason.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Depending on the Artist (and the shot), Rubies usually have black eyes or red eyes.
    • Onion normally has black eyes, though different lightings will sometimes show his eyes as red.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes:
    • KO is shown to have brown eyes in "You're Level 100!", when he gets his eyes scanned for a Pow Card.
    • In "I Am Dendy", an anime style Art Shift shows K.O.'s eyes as brown and Dendy's as blue.
    • Inverted with Red Action. She typically has green eyes but in "Back in Red Action", her appearance gets re-designed and now her eyes are black like everyone else.
  • Scorpi from Mixels has near-permanent Puppy-Dog Eyes consisting of a black pupil with highlights. However, when he emphasizes his cuteness, he gains silver irises.
  • When Daffy Duck and Sylvester of Looney Tunes are given irises, they are normally green.
  • The Soft Reboot of The Magic School Bus, The Magic School Bus Rides Again, uses a new art style that gives everyone eye colours.
  • In Season 1 of Kim Possible, Monique had Black Bead Eyes, unusual since no other character in the show had those. As of Season 2, she was given brown eyes with the same design as every other character.

Feedback: 36 replies

Dec 1st 2013 at 6:37:32 PM

In one episode of The Simpsons Marge complains that Homer doesn't remember what her eye color is. For that one episode, and in fact for only one closeup shot, she had irises. (They're hazel.)

Dec 1st 2013 at 8:09:16 PM

Western Animation

  • Alvin And The Chipmunks have their signature eye colors already established, however, this didn't happen until The Chipmunk Adventure, and subsequent episodes of the 1980s series that were produced by Di C, when Alvin and Simon were given blue eyes, and Theodore was given green eyes; prior to that, the Ruby-Spears produced episodes, and previous incarnations gave each of them plain, black eyes.
  • Rockos Modern Life: Almost all of the characters typically had standard cartoon eyes, though on occasion during the later seasons, Heffer was shown to have green pupils (not irises), Filburt, and the Bigheads were show to have purple pupils. Rocko's are blue, but are only seen during his freakouts.

Dec 2nd 2013 at 3:23:35 AM

How about someone having detailed eyes changed into having simple eyes?

Compare Eye Color Change.

Oct 17th 2014 at 1:51:46 AM

Western Animation

  • Initial drafts of the Loonatics Unleashed had the six heroes appear without irises or pupils while in uniform. Fan outcry compelled Warner Brothers to redesign the characters with colored irises and pupils, except when using their superpowers.

Oct 17th 2014 at 4:04:37 AM

In The Simpsons example it wasn't clear if the statement about the Simpsons children was in the same episode as the first one, so I made it separate.

Oct 17th 2014 at 9:30:19 AM

Dumbing Of Age: Most of the characters are drawn with plain black eyes with lead character Joyce being the most obvious exception. Glasses-wearing Ruth was given black eyes as well initially, until cartoonist David Willis looked at his older art of her and remembered that he had given her green eyes. In order to fit the change into the story he had the switch-over happen at the moment Ruth's love interest Billie first started to see Ruth as a person rather than an antagonist so it works as visual symbolism.

Oct 17th 2014 at 9:32:16 AM

Oh, I think the pot-holes to eye color tropes should be removed unless the characters fit the personality requirements. There is already too much shoe-horning on those tropes and incorrect wicks do not help matter any.

Oct 17th 2014 at 1:21:19 PM

Oct 18th 2014 at 5:09:32 PM

In One Piece, this happens frequently. Normally the characters eyes are represented by black dots, but when characters are frightened or under stress the black dots will become smaller and a larger circles appear around what becomes the pupil. This is even more noticeable in the anime, where color is also added into the eye.

Oct 18th 2014 at 5:28:02 PM

Google, you have failed me. Can someone explain how to italicize/create hyperlinks, or redirect me to a page that explains it?

Oct 18th 2014 at 5:51:19 PM

Manga/ One Piece. Put it all together and it becomes One Piece.

Oct 18th 2014 at 5:52:44 PM

You may want to keep the Text Formatting Rules entry handy.

Apr 1st 2015 at 1:38:27 AM

Can someone please tell me how this is can be used for storytelling purposes?

Sure, it's a subtrope of both Art Shift and Art Evolution, but unless we know what their purpose in storytelling is, I'll decry this as Chairs.

Apr 1st 2015 at 2:43:32 PM

  • Aurora from Sleeping Beauty had black dot pupils as everyone else in the film, since the art style was a very cartoonish and stylzed one. Now that she's a part of the Disney Princesses, she has bluish purple iris to blend with the other characters.

Mar 8th 2016 at 12:54:46 AM

^ Is that one actually true? I have seen clips of Aurora with purple eyes the film. Is that an edit done for future copies?

Mar 8th 2016 at 1:08:35 AM

Does this count?

Apr 23rd 2016 at 10:37:08 PM

  • In Wander Over Yonder, Wander only gets irises when under stress or making puppy dog eyes. Hater already has green eyes, but gets irises of a darker shade when he's stressed.

Apr 24th 2016 at 5:09:25 AM

I think a good picture for this article would be this one: Sonic and his friends, before (top) and after (below) Sonic Adventure.

Jul 8th 2016 at 10:26:30 PM

  • Kir By: The earlier games like Kirbys Dreamland has the titular Kirby having simple dots/lines as eyes. Later games would show him having dark blue eyes.

Jan 31st 2017 at 10:45:53 AM

Film Animated

  • Occurs twice in Space Jam:
    • Bugs Bunny suddenly gains irises just after the Monstars burst into Schlesinger's Gym to assess the opposition. Michael Jordan asks, "Who are they?" Bugs's response is, "Remember the little aliens I told you about?" then hides behind Michael's shoulder and points at the towering bruisers, eyes wide with fear. For the record, Bugs has dark brown irises.
    • Daffy Duck demonstrates some Toon Physics to Michael Jordan by getting his neck stretched Beyond The Impossible, stating, "See? No sweat. This is Looney Tune Land." Daffy shows his darling blue irises at that moment.

Jan 30th 2017 at 8:21:16 AM

Sonic the Comic had this happen in-universe, before the currently listed example. Originally Sonic had black eyes that "glowed green with Chaos energy" when he went Super Sonic. Later he was attacked by a creature of pure Chaos energy and the experience turned his eyes permanently green (or red in Super Sonic mode), in order to match the changes to his videogame design.

Feb 10th 2017 at 1:31:24 AM

  • In Homestuck all main characters where originally drawn with just a pupil. But as the series started to use more sophisticated art styles, it was revealed that the main caracters have irises matching their writing color, with the exception of Karkat who has red eyes and Sollux who has a red and a blue eye.

Feb 10th 2017 at 3:01:55 AM

Rare live-action example - Leela in Doctor Who originally had brown eyes as a hangover from an original plan to have her Ambiguously Brown. The actress, Lousie Jameson, had naturally blue eyes and had a lot of trouble with the colour-changing contact lenses she had to wear, so at the end of the story "Horror of Fang Rock" Leela's eyes are explicitly turned blue in story due to looking too closely at a laser beam and/or exploding spaceship.

Mar 10th 2017 at 11:48:12 PM

Jun 11th 2017 at 8:11:11 PM

I'd go with Ash, Pac-Man, or Sonic as an image.

Aug 27th 2017 at 2:21:57 PM

Scorpi from Mixels has near-permanent Puppy Dog Eyes consisting of a black pupil with highlights. However, when he emphasizes his cuteness, he gains silver irises.

Aug 27th 2017 at 3:01:10 PM

When Daffy Duck and Sylvester of Looney Tunes are given irises, they are normally green.

Oct 30th 2017 at 9:53:37 PM

Possible page image, if it'll help: [1] Bugs Browneyed Bunny.

Dec 8th 2017 at 3:59:16 AM

Onion in Steven Universe normally has black eyes, though different lightings will sometimes show his eyes as red.

Dec 8th 2017 at 6:47:50 AM

Kinda like Suddenly Voiced, but with eyes. Makes sense in relation.

Dec 11th 2017 at 7:57:32 AM

^^^ A character who had a permanent change, like Sonic or Pac-Man, would probably make a better image.

Dec 11th 2017 at 8:54:17 PM

In "I Am Dendy", an anime style Art Shift shows K.O.'s eyes as brown and Dendy's as blue.

Dec 15th 2017 at 7:55:15 PM

Another example for OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes:

  • Inverted with Red Action. She typically has green eyes but in "Back in Red Action", her appearance gets re-designed and now her eyes are black like everyone else.

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