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Comically Cross-Eyed

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Double viewing pleasure, according to Ben Turpin.

People with crossed eyes or taking on a crossed eyes expression are a Stock Joke in popular culture. They are either seen as silly, crazy or stupid. Whenever they appear you may rest assured that they will see double, accidentally drop something out of their hands or speak with a goofy voice. Can be combined with a Maniac Tongue sticking out from under their lips. May also cross into the Uncanny Valley sometimes.

In Real Life strabismus is a serious condition, therefore poking fun at cross-eyed people is no longer considered politically correct nowadays and this has become a Discredited Trope, save for some cartoons and comic strips.

See also Fish Eyes.



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    Comic Books 
  • Nero: In Koeketiene Nero is reminded of the giant weasel in his basement (Long story!) from the previous story De Orde van de Wellustige Wezel ("The Order of the Voluptuous Weasel"). When he realizes he hasn't fed the animal yet he quickly runs down and notices the poor creature is literally "looking cross-eyed from hunger" (this is a pun on the Dutch expression scheel zien van de honger (looking cross-eyed from hunger).)
  • De Geuzen: In one album a soldier (shown from the back) reports to his officer that he saw four prisoners escape. The general says: "Four? We only held two people captive. How can this be?" To which the soldier replies (shown in close-up so that the reader can see he is cross-eyed): "Er... I don't know sir."

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Jour de fête: Francois the mailman is trying to get a villager to hammer a post into the ground. The villager keeps hitting the wrong end of the post. When Francois observes that the villager is cross-eyed, he puts a second nail on the left side of the post and tells the villager to keep aiming at the right side. After the villager hammers the left side nail into the ground, Francois turns him around to the other side and has him do it again.
  • Silent film comedian Ben Turpin was cross-eyed and used it as a part of his comedic persona. His contract had insured him in case his eyes would ever become straight.
  • One German soldier in La Grande Vadrouille is extremely cross-eyed, and yet is the one manning the anti-aircraft gun as the protagonists escape via glider. The movie shows this with a P.O.V. Cam, by defocusing the camera until there are two images of the plane. He ends up damaging the recon plane that was tailing the heroes, forcing its pilot to bail.
  • In Hot Shots!, Washout has both crossed and Fish Eyes. When he becomes an air traffic controller he wears glasses.
  • In Spaceballs, once the warning shots fired by Spaceball One have one hitting the ship itself, Dark Helmet complains ("I said fire across her nose, not up it!")... and it's revealed both the gunner and the guy who got him the job are crosseyed.
  • Downplayed in Silence of the Lambs: one of the entomologists Starling consults about the cocoon found at the autopsy of one of Buffalo Bill's victims is noticably cross-eyed (though not as bad as the comedy examples above). No gag is made of it; it just seems to hint at his good-natured dorkiness (which is confirmed when he ineptly flirts with Starling).
  • Roger Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit is slightly cross-eyed to go with his goofy personality.
  • The title character in Steve Martin's The Jerk invents the "Opti-Grab," a novel accessory for glasses: a handle on the bridge of the nose that allows to take them on or off more easily. He makes millions selling them — until it's discovered that it causes users to become cross-eyed. When the case against him goes to trial, the judge and foreman of the jury turn out to both be cross-eyed, too.
  • Eddie's corpse in The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again.
  • Katherine in Chai Lai Angels: Dangerous Flowers. She is the pet minion of Creepy Crossdresser King Kong and comically inept due to her condition. Her errors include cutting off one of Kong's finger, and shooting him while attempting shoot one of the Chai Lais. It is eventually revealed that Katherine is actually The Mole for the Chai Lais, so how much of her ineptness is an act is unclear; especially as she stumbles coming down the stairs in Chai Lai headquarters.
  • Clarence, the Cross-eyed Lion (1965) was about a visually impaired and tame king of beasts who is befriended by a physician's daughter. It was spun off for TV as Daktari.
  • During the sex scene between Mystique and Peter in Epic Movie, Peter asks for a larger bust and ass size, a "Mamabrow", and "big flabby grandma arms"/"bingo wings like a fat blue Britney Spears". During a close up shot of her face with her wiggling her tongue, her eyes are yellow and crossed eyed. This turns him on more.


  • Use of Weapons. Cheradenine Zakalwe finds himself stranded in a flood after a military defeat with a prisoner, a cross-eyed female enemy soldier who came close to killing him through dumb luck. It's just one more crazy thing that's happened to him, so he handles the situation a lot more philosophically than she does.
  • The Discworld has the character of fishmonger Verity Pushpram, known as "Hammerhead" because of her eye condition; she is presented as the Ankh-Morporkian dystopian version of Dublin's Molly Malone.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Daktari. Clarence the cross-eyed lion was the shows's most popular character.
  • In Brazilian comedy show Casseta & Planeta, whenever host Maria Paula parodied Deborah Secco, she made to sure to amp the actress' slight strabismus to totally cross-eyed.
  • Atiza from Olmos y Robles.
  • This trope is behind the plot of The IT Crowd episode "Calendar Geeks": the highly-attractive women of the seventh floor decide to do a nude calendar to raise money for the cross-eyed, since one of them has a brother who suffers from the condition, and an overjoyed Roy gets asked to be the photographer. Of course, this is The IT Crowd, so shenanigans ensue. Partway through the episode, we even get to see an in-universe PSA about how the cross-eyed are people too.
  • British comedian Marty Feldman made a career out of being cross-eyed, capitalising on this as part of his borderline-lunatic persona: he moved from writing and performing for radio to getting his own TV series to showcase his mad comedy, and this ran for several series. The combination of lunatic grin and bulging mad crossed eyes made him a hypnotic presence in film and TV.


    Print Media 

  • The Antwerp puppet theatre tradition has a comedic cast character named De Schele (The Cross-Eyed One), who apart from being cross-eyed also speaks with a stutter. The accordionist of the theatre, who invites the people to the stage shows, is also nicknamed Schele Vanderlinden (Cross-Eyed Vanderlinden).
  • The Dutch play De Jantjes by Herman Bouber also features a sailor nicknamed De Schele (The Cross-Eyed One)
  • Josephine Baker performed a silly Ostrich dance during her shows, in which she often took on a goofy, cross-eyed expression.

    Video Games 
  • In Escape from Monkey Island, Guybrush goes cross-eyed in confusion if he tries to listen to the chess players on Lucre Island discuss their chess strategy.

  • Bee in Ennui GO! is a spacey, borderline Cloudcuckoolander whose eyes are so crossed that her irises have formed spirals.
  • In Latchkey Kingdom, this is the reason Debbie Hives wears an eyepatch: Both her eyes are fine individually.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Grand Prince Vasily II of Moscow had a son, who was nicknamed Vasily the Cross-Eyed by historians.
  • In the early 2010s an opossum named Heidi had a cross-eyed look on her face and became a meme as a result.
  • Otters are often associated with looking cross-eyed. In some languages, like Dutch, "schele otter" ("cross-eyed otter") is an insult. This despite the fact that in real life otters aren't cross eyed at all.
  • Bruno Gesche, one of Adolf Hitler's handpicked bodyguards, was cross-eyed, causing Hitler to joke that he was more worried about being shot by him than an assassin. Knowing about the risks of Bodyguard Betrayal, Hitler was more interested in personal loyalty than ability.
  • According to several of his SNL castmates, Chris Farley would often try and get them to crack up during sketches by staring cross-eyed at them from offstage.

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