Every once in a while actors think that they have to scrunch up their eyes while being on screen. Reasons for that are manifold, though it most commonly seems to be a way of increasing the badass level of the character they are playing. Squeezing your eyes together works like a focusing mechanism for the Death Glare. However, some actors seem to think of the Clint Squint as some sort of cheap way to add depth to a character (which is, of course, destined to fail).
In animation, where facial expressions are often either very broad or completely absent, a stoic character's choice of expressions can be basically limited to this (as everything else is either too emotionally open, or too subtle to convey).
Other reasons for squinting include:
- Filming a movie or tv-series in really bright surroundings, like deserts.note
- Large Hams who like exaggerated facial expressions.
- Alex Ross tends to draw and paint Superman with a Clint Squint. He also had one in the old 1940's Max and Dave Fleischer also tended to give him a Clint Squint in the 1940's Superman Theatrical Cartoons, and his DCAU appearance tends to be drawn like this in tribute to the Fleischer cartoons.
- A major part of Rob Liefeld's art. So major, in fact, that it's surprising to see characters who actually have eyes.
- In one Garfield comic strip, Garfield is taken aback when John seems to have gotten something in his eyes. "I'm squinting! All macho guys squint!" He then promptly walks into a doorframe in the next panel.
- Lampshaded in Doonesbury: upon meeting Clint Eastwood back when he was running for mayor of Carmel, Ca., Lacey Davenport tells him "Don't squint so much, dear, you'll end up with goose feet."
- Vasco, the main character in Javier de Isusi's comic book The Pipe of Marcos, does display different kinds of expressions, but a large majority are squints. Come to think of it, he's hardly the only one in that comic to do that.
- In issue #25 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Applejack does this when she resolves to get back at Cattle Rustlers that are threatening a family's western farm.
- Trope Namer is Clint Eastwood, who frequently squinted while playing his iconic western roles. Eastwood said he only did it because the cigars his character smoked bugged his eyes, and he was allergic to horses. He's also said his eyes are sensitive to bright light.
- Parodied in Back to the Future Part III where Marty McFly uses Clint Eastwood's name as well as his squint.
- Also referenced in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, when an angry diatribe by Ed Rooney impresses his secretary Grace, who claims he sounded like Dirty Harry. Ed follows up with the squint.
- Lee Van Cleef often wore a perpetual sneer when playing movie villains, which involved a steely-eyed squint.
- Charles Bronson, perhaps aided by his naturally narrow eyes due to Tatar ancestry.
- Italian actor Bud Spencer always did this. He had sight problems that made it hard for him to get things in focus even at short range when not squinting. These days he has recovered some sight through surgery, and squints a lot less.
- Burn After Reading: Brad Pitt's character Chad tries to give Osbourne Cox one when they first meet. He fails hilariously.
- Captain Archer of Star Trek: Enterprise fame did this to an extent that made you want to write "insert coins here" on his (barely recognizable) eyelids.
- One episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 had Observer doing this while saying "Chilly Squint!" threateningly.
- The titular Walker, Texas Ranger would get one at least Once an Episode — usually complete with dramatic close up and Theme Music Power-Up.
- Parodied by George W. Bush in Late Night With Conan O'Brien with the "Live Via Satellite" skits.
Squint, please (Bush squints). Bring it on! (theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly plays)
- British actor Kevin Stoney alternated between this and what appeared to be Eyes Always Shut but sometimes it appeared more as if he were simply looking down at his feet.
- Burn Notice: Michael Westen. Justified, as the series takes place and is filmed in sunny Miami.
- The Monster of the Week and the Winchester's public defender use this expression in the episode "Folsom Prison Blues" (S02, Ep19) of Supernatural.
- The titular protagonist of Decker seems to have this as his default expression. Totally Played for Laughs, as the show is lampooning action series and Decker's dopey expression is meant to come off as him reacting to something in dramatic shock.
- An episode of Last Man Standing ends with Mike giving Ryan one of these after the latter insults Westerns.
- During Samara's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2, Shepard can use the Clint Squint to intimidate a krogan. It works rather well.
- Likewise, when we finally get to meet Admiral Hackett face-to-face, this seems to be the default state of his eyes.
- This is the only look Jimmy Hopkins of Bully ever wears on his face.
- Ecco the Dolphin tends to employ these as a non-verbal cue that he's saying "Let's Get Dangerous!" during CG cutscenes in the second game, Tides of Time.
- Max Payne in the first game of the series, but only when he is shooting (when he is not, his face is relaxed). This is, however, his most famous look because it's the most common in action screenshots.
- Jesse McCree of Overwatch usually has this expression - which makes sense, as he's based on the Man with No Name.
- In This El Goonish Shive comic, George uses this sort of squint to both demonstrate his disdain for Elliot, and attempt to intimidate him. The author discusses this trope in the commentary. He claims that Clint Eastwood copyrighted it, and that when anyone else uses it, they have to pay him A Fistful of Dollars.
- In Batman: The Animated Series, Batman is extremely stoic and hard to surprise. When in costume, nearly his only way to react to anything is narrowing his eyes.
- His protege Nightwing makes a similar squint in Young Justice, when he's enraged at the Blue Beetle seemingly allying himself with the Reach.
- Samurai Jack does this. ALL the time.
- Vendetta in Making Fiends often squints her eyes to emphasize what she's saying.
- Doc of the sixth The Land Before Time film.
- Danger Mouse: In "Cor! What A Picture," Baron Greenback obtains a set of photos of Penfold from a photo booth with which he plans to manipulate. One of the photos has Penfold doing a Clint Squint, and Greenback asks "How did Clint Eastwood get in here?"
- In the American Dad! episode "Tears of a Clooney", Francine criticizes George Clooney for always tilting his head down, then raising it back up while doing a squint. Sure enough, we later see him doing it while shooting a movie.
- In Gravity Falls, the in-universe Western character, Grandpa the Kid, uses this.
Grandpa: I'm tired during the day.