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Dies Wide Open

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I wonder what my body would sound like
Slamming against those rocks
And when it lands
Will my eyes
Be closed or open?

On the big or small screen, if someone falls over motionless with their eyes wide open, it is a sure sign that they are dead — not unconscious, not capable of being resuscitated, but dead for good. In real life the position of the eyelids means little; people can pass out or fall asleep with their eyes open (although it is less common).

Additionally, dead bodies always have their eyes either closed or all the way open, with no middle ground. (Again, this stands in contrast to reality, but nobody wants a dead body making a weird face and it's hard for an actor to have half-closed eyes without flickering.) In the latter case, someone who knew the deceased will often come along and manually close the corpse's eyes for "respect" or "dignity". This is always done the same way — using the palm flat open, they pass their hand over the dead person's face, somehow closing their eyes.

In old times, the friend would also put two coins over their closed eyes as well, to "pay the boatman" to take them across the river Styx into the afterlife. See Due to the Dead.

The above is universally true of live-action, but Anime occasionally depicts someone fainting with open eyes or dying with half-closed eyes. Open-eyed deaths in anime often have the iris/pupil area of the eye drawn as a dull grayish spot. In Western Animation, death is rare, visible dead bodies even rarer, and open-eyed corpses almost unheard of. You can blame the Animation Age Ghetto for that.

If they're Not Quite Dead, expect to see their eyes open. Otherwise? He's Dead, Jim.

Note that — perhaps because of Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Death — frequently it rains into the eyes. That is the clinching proof of death.

If a character's eyes close when they die, it's Big Sleep. If they're just asleep, see Sleeps with Both Eyes Open.

As a Death Trope, several spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


    open/close all folders 
  • A 1987 PSA from Partnership For a Drug Free America ends this way. A girl stares at the camera smiling while a happy piano tune plays. The music stops and a woman starts eerily singing "Happy Birthday" and the girl's face begins to deteriorate ending with her becoming a corpse with lifeless, empty eyes. And it ends with someone throwing a sheet over her face.
  • A British PIF/PSA zoomed out of the blank lifeless eyes of a fatally injured young woman who had been run over by a driver who had stopped for a 'quick drink' before he hit her. here is the ad in question the victim was played by Denise van Outen before she became a famous presenter. Even more realistically, her pupils are unequal, indicative of a severe brain injury.
  • This PIF from The Queensland Transport features a handsome guy and his equally beautiful girlfriend filming themselves having fun at the beach. Intercut with the footage is an announcer saying that the boyfriend's speeding caused a crash that killed his girlfriend, but left him alive. The last image is of her blood-splattered body lying on the road with her motionless eyes staring off into space.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Angel Beats!, Otonashi dies with his eyes open in the train accident.
  • Attack on Titan: If there's a body left behind, chances are, the victim's eyes will be open with their final moments of horror still fresh on their faces.
  • Azumanga Daioh has one episode where Osaka dreams about pulling off Chiyo-chan's pigtails... only to have her keel over dead with her eyes wide open.
  • In Battle Royale, this is actually a more common type of death than the peaceful closed eyes death. Understandable, considering most of the people are killed by unexpectedly getting shot in the head. The more memorable one of this type is Mimura's.
    • In the novel, just before he leaves the classroom, Shuuya asks to close his best friend's eyes (His friend had lost his temper and was shot). The teacher obliges. Once Shuuya leaves, he immediately regrets not closing the eyes of another student killed in the classroom. Also, in Mimura's case, it's a bit justified, since he died while he was leaving a message.
  • In Black Butler Madam Red dies like this. After the initial shock Ciel shuts the deceased's eyes.
    • Sebastian also dies this way, during the murder mystery arc. He gets better though.
  • Averted by Black Lagoon, which shows the concussed Revy with half-closed eyes.
  • Bleach:
    • Ichigo apparently has scenes like this, a lot. Just that he's always Not Exactly Dead...
    • Yuzu in the 4th movie
  • Murder victims from Case Closed almost always die this way. In fact, the anime lampshaded in Billionaire Birthday Blue with Yone closes Reika's eyes and switched to give the victim closed eyes start from The Revival of the Dying Message.
  • In Children of the Whales, Sami die this way Chakuro close her eyes off screen.
  • Unlike her sisters, Viina dies like this in Cyborg 009.
  • In Danganronpa: The Animation, Chihiro Fujisaki is found like this.
  • Havoc in Darker than Black.
  • Death Note:
    • Used with Mello's death.
    • Also Light's death in the manga.
  • Despite being a story about a serial killer, where you'd expect to find Dies Wide Shut, this trope remains averted in Shounen Zanzou, where the expressions of Adrian Clay's victims' corpses are never seen because he covers them with tape. The only ones we see are his mother's which look more like a mix of anger and fear, and Lawrence Hill's eyes are half-closed.
  • This was originally the case in Dragon Ball. But in later works by Akira Toriyama, especially Dragon Ball Z, people who die with their eyes open will have Blank White Eyes; this began with Radditz, when he was killed by Piccolo. Grayish or rough pupils from then on mean that person is critically injured, or dying but not yet dead. Examples include Gohan after his neck was broken by Recoome, and Yamcha after he was impaled by Dr. Gero.
  • Yukiko Hirohara in 11eyes.
  • Elfen Lied:
    • A lot of characters die this way, due to the fact that they're usually in mid-action when killed. Along with the fact that they're being killed by something they can't see, and that about half of the people killed don't even know exists.
    • Averted with the deaths of Kurama and Mariko; since they know what's about to happen to them, they close their eyes tightly and brace themselves.
  • The first victim of the mysterious and highly lethal plague shown in Emerging was found dead with his eyes still open... made more gruesome by the fact that they were almost completely blackened from all the blood vessels having burst, and partially liquefied from the extremely high fever he suffered prior to his death.
  • Charles Beams dies this way in Eureka Seven.
  • Zancrow becomes one of the few deaths in Fairy Tail this way. His killer is nice enough to shut his eyes for him afterward.
  • How Kyoko Honda in Fruits Basket died as shown in a flashback.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) has Edward die with his eyes wide open. He probably didn't even have time to blink given the manner in which he was killed. We actually see his eyes go foggy as he dies. He gets better, though.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, during TSR, Gauron dies in this manner. Which makes him all the more unnerving, considering he also died with a Slasher Smile, looking maniacally happy at Sousuke.
  • In Ginga Densetsu Weed and possibly its prequel series, almost every character that dies has their eyes open.
  • Goblin Slayer: A poisoned Wizard dies with her eyes open after Goblin Slayer gives her the Mercy Kill, just before Priestess closes her eyes.
  • In Happy Sugar Life Shouko Hida is killed with her eyes open and remain open for several days until Asahi Kobe finds her corpse and close her eyes oddly enough her body is well preserved and shows zero signs of decomposition.
  • Bishop Enrico Maxwell in Hellsing. Anderson, who taught him, and left him to die when he went mad with power, closes his eyes.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry: There are many examples in the anime, ranging from plain horrific to extremely sad, including: Rika's knife-suicide, Satoko's crucifixion, everyone after being gassed in Yakusamashi-hen, Rika's disembowelment (which happened every time she didn't commit suicide by knife), Shion's fall (in Watanagashi-hen, they give a lovely close-up of her wide eyes as a sheet is being put over the body) and Keiichi after being shot; he remained alive for a few minutes, but when he finally dies the highlights in his eyes fade, leaving dull irises.
  • Averted in Inuyasha - as the resident brick, Inuyasha has a tendency to get the tar beaten out of him whenever a sufficiently powerful Monster of the Week appears - to show he's been seriously injured, he'll often be knocked out with his eyes open and unreflective, but never dead.
  • Happens to Tsukumo in episode 9 of Karneval. She promptly comes back to life at the start of the next episode.
  • In Kaze to Ki no Uta, Gilbert dies this way after being run over by a carriage while being hallucinated on drugs.
  • This is how Itami dies in JinrouGame after her sister strangled her to death.
  • The Combat Cyborg Due from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S exhibited both this trope and Blood from the Mouth upon getting impaled by Zest to show that she's really dead. However, in episode 24 and 25, her eyes were closed, but in episode 26, they are suddenly open.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam franchise:
  • Naruto:
    • After Kakashi kills Haku by striking him with the Lightning Blade meant for Zabuza, he dies with his eyes wide open, and Kakashi closes them for him after getting to safety for a moment. Most other characters, however, close their eyes as they die.
    • Except Itachi, whose eyes remain open. It also rains, but there's no indication of rain-in-the-eyes.
    • Neji died this way, as well.
    • Kin Tsuchi and Zaku Ambui's eyes when their corpses are discovered are wide open, with their faces showing absolute horror in their final moments.
  • The Negima! Magister Negi Magi anime combines this with the Dull Eyes of Unhappiness in Asuna's death.
  • In Le Portrait de Petite Cossette Cossette dies like this.
  • Oshi no Ko, Ai Hoshino dies like this. We see her six-pointed eyes iris disappear.
  • In Platinum End Chiyo dies this way.
  • Pokémon Journeys: Instead of the usual swirly eyes when a Pokémon faints in battle, Dande's/Leon's Charizard had its eyes completely open, even with its pupil being still visible. Some of the viewers even thought that it died. The scene in the Pokémon Center shows that it's still fine.
  • Subversion: in the final arc of Ranma ½, if Akane's eyes close completely it means she has died. They do, and Ranma spends several pages cradling her body, thinking he was too late. She got better upon hearing his declaration of love.
  • Anime subversion: In The Rose of Versailles, when Jeanne Valois is publicly branded as a criminal, she faints with her eyes wide open — a fact that creeps out many of the spectators who had come to gawk at her.
  • In Rozen Maiden, After Shinku is fatally stab by Barasuishou she falls into the ground and tries to talk to Jun Sakurada only to succumb to her wounds lifeless staring at him oddly for no reason her eyes are close later.
  • Kyuzo from Samurai 7 dies with his eyes open. Kambei takes his glove off to close them.
  • Makoto Itou from School Days dies with their eyes open by being stabbed to death.
  • Several characters when they die in 7 Seeds.
    • The guide of Team Winter's corpse has his eyes wide open in surprise and shock when a saber-tooth tiger attacked him and another member.
    • Happened to the Director, Chuu-san and the cow Mary during the Ryugu Shelter arc. At least, they had to be since their eyes have turned into bloody, mushy gushy stuff and leaked out of the eye sockets, the way the Acari X kill their hosts. The other victims are usually shown with eyes closed and Tears of Blood.
    • Subverted with some deaths, like Mayu's and Hyo's during the Final Test for the Team Summer A candidates, as their deaths are more shown to be calming.
  • Umineko: When They Cry: Maria Ushiromiya dies like this in the anime after getting choked to death by Beatrice.

    Comic Books 
  • In All Fall Down, this is Sophie's last panel.
  • In Assassin's Creed: Brahman, Jot Soora comes out of an Animus headset while lying on the ground to find Assassin Siobhan shot in the head and staring straight at him.
  • Batman: People killed by the Joker, especially by his Joker Venom (which is justified in that it pulls back the muscles of the face), often die with their eyes open to enhance the creepy effects of his methods. As noted above, this extends to points in the DCAU where he was allowed to kill, usually the animated movies.
  • Democracy: When Nefert is killed, her eyes are still open.
  • Spider-Man: In The Death of Jean DeWolff, Jean is shown to have her eyes open after her lifeless body is found.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man:
    • Betty Brant is stabbed in the chest by Venom as she's entering her apartment, dying with an black expression on her face.
  • Vader's Quest:
    • Nevana is shot In the Back and falls forward with her eyes open. Even if she wasn't dead or fatally wounded, her odds of escaping the Good-Guy Bar when it's set on fire minutes later aren't good.
    • Bobek dies in Jal's arms while staring upward, after which Jal gently closes his eyes.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Artemis dies with her jade green eyes open after requesting that Diana not forget to place a coin for the ferryman with her for her burial. Diana closes Temi's eyes for her before giving in to her grief.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bikini Bottom Horror: The eyes of Mr. Krabs remained open after having his limbs town off and a Patrick clone bursts from his body.
  • The first corpse in Boldores And Boomsticks belongs to an Aether Paradise employee who fell victim to a Grimm, eyes open in horror. Blake takes a moment to close his eyes before Team RWBY presses on.
  • Used a few times in Despair's Last Resort. Hikaru is found like this in the second chapter. Arata is also like this after his execution in Chapter 4.
  • Fates Collide: Jeanne D Arc and Pyrrha Nikos find a woman that had been killed by the Grimm. Jeanne solemnly closes her eyes for her and prays.
  • In Fractured Fates, this is how Kaneki Tenmaru is found in Chapter 2.
  • In the Fullmetal Alchemist oneshot She Felt Better Today, Izumi died sitting down with her eyes open.
  • Killing Game Deluxe sees the first victim, Hiyoko found like this.
  • Happens twice in The Lion King Adventures:
    • Uzuri dies with her eyes wide open, after being raped and murdered by Scar.
    • The same with Ugaidi, after having his soul burnt.
  • maybe then i'll [burn] away and not have to face the facts: Implied with Linh. Marella notes that it looks like her eyes were "forced closed", which would have been done after they recovered the body. She probably was killed with her eyes wide open because she died on a battlefield.
  • In one story from the Mellon Chronicles series of The Lord of the Rings fanfiction, a wounded Legolas rests with his eyes closed for a time, and when Aragorn notices, he freaks out for a moment, believing the elf to be dead — as far as he understands it, elves rest with eyes open. The idea of elves not sleeping in the same way as humans comes from the one example given through Legolas in the LotR. It is debated whether this can be taken as the general style of sleeping for elves, another form of resting distinct from sleep, or due to the circumstances.
  • In the Vocaloid fic Rotting Camellias, Lily dies like this. Her severed head is later put on display with its eyes still open, but eventually someone closes them.
  • Stars Above: Tsukasa and Kazumi die this way in the 2012 timeline.
  • Averted in Chapter 16 of Tiberium Wars, where a GDI soldier finds himself staring at the face of a dead female soldier, whose eyes are half-lidded in death.
  • Lampshaded in Twillight Sparkle's awesome adventure after Admiral Awesome kills Enemy Boss Leader.
  • In Warriors Redux, Firepaw is creeped out by how the gentle seer Spottedleaf looks when they bring her drowned body back to camp. Her eyes are wide open and she has a gaping look to her. What's equally unnerving is that no other cat seems to care. Firepaw hasn't had any experiences with death before, while the other Clan cats know well that Anyone Can Die.

    Films — Animation 
  • Everyone who dies in 9 dies with their eyes and their mouths wide open. Justified, seeing the method of death is having their souls forcibly sucked out through their eyes and mouth.
  • In The Ant Bully, there is a scene in which Lucas finds himself in the belly of a frog. In that scene, a fly comes across a smiling bug who died with its eyes open.
  • Rover Dangerfield: The Black Comedy Burst death of the turkey, whose eyes and beak stay wide open throughout Rover's attempts to revive her and pretend she's alive.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The 13th Warrior, after killing the Wendol's war leader in the final battle, Buliwyf dies sitting on the rampart, watching the other Wendol retreat.
  • The French soldier that Baumer stabs dies like this in All Quiet on the Western Front (1930).
  • In Angel Of Destruction, Brit Alwood has a blank expression on her face after her neck is snapped by Robert Kell in her office.
  • Maa in Babe, after being mauled by a pack of wild dogs.
  • Back to the Future: Subverted. When Marty seemingly fails to prevent Doc's death again, he turns him over to see that his eyes are wide open. However, it turns out that he's completely all right; it's implied that his eyes were wide open out of shock — or that he was pretending to be dead as to not cause a paradox.
  • The Joker, after he falls to his death in Batman (1989), has his expression frozen with the eyes still open and his mouth still forming a grin-permanently.
  • The Penguin, after dying and getting dragged to the sewer water by his penguins in Batman Returns, was shown sinking to his final resting place with a frozen expression with eyes open in a cloud of his own blood.
  • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Superman dies this way. Batman closes his eyes.
  • The Black Belly of the Tarantula: Jenny, Maria Zani, Mirta Ricci and Laura are all paralysed with their eyes wide open before getting killed.
  • The Beast's Disney Death in Beauty and the Beast (2017) plays out this way, unlike in the animated version, where his eyes close.
    • Plumette's Disney Death also happens like this. The reason behind this is rather heartbreaking- she's a FEATHER DUSTER with a handle shaped like a bird's head and as such is PHYSICALLY INCAPABLE of closing her eyes.
  • Nina at the end of Black Swan. Possibly — like everything else in this film, it depends on your interpretation whether she actually died or not.
  • Blood and Black Lace: Tao Li is drowned in a bath with her eyes still open after she dies.
  • Bloodrayne: After Katarin has her neck broken and blood drained by Rayne, the next shot is of her lifeless body with her eyes still open.
  • Bloody Mama: After Kate drowns Rembrandt in the bathtub, she floats on her face with her eyes open.
  • At the end of the 1926 silent film of La Bohème, Lillian Gish's Mimi dies with her eyes open and Musette closes them. Allegedly Gish did such a good job of not moving her eyes or breathing while filming those last moments that the cast and crew worried that she had really died - particularly since she had starved herself for days beforehand to look suitably wasted.
  • King Edward "Longshanks" at the end of Braveheart.
  • In The Candy Snatchers, Candy's mother dies like this when Alan stabs her to death during sex.
  • Subversion: The film Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle depicted the lead characters being shot or in big crashes, falling motionless with their eyes wide open... and then they blink and wake up; they were only unconscious.
  • The Cheyenne Social Club: Played for a joke. Harley is not happy when Mr. Yancey, Dr. Foy's elderly sidekick in the snake oil act, stares at him unblinkingly throughout dinner. It turns out that Mr. Yancey is dead.
  • In the 1909 film The Country Doctor, Edith dies in her mother's arms with her eyes open. By the time her father, the titular doctor, arrives home to check on her, her mother had closed her eyes and made it look like she was sleeping.
  • An odd variation in The Dark Knight — Two-Face pulls this, but only because he has no eyelid.
  • Dead Man Walking: Matthew Poncelet's eyes fall shut when the anaesthetic kicks in, then flick open when he expires.
  • Deewaar ends with Vijay dying this way after being shot by his brother Ravi.
  • In Demon Knight, Brayker dies this way. Jerri respectfully closes his eyes before collecting his blood for the Key as its new Guardian. When The Collector finds Brayker's body, he mockingly opens up the eyes, since he's an evil demon who has hunted and hated Brayker for years.
  • In Devil, one of the victims dies like this. When another one tries to close them, they stay open, and he's told that it doesn't work until someone's been dead for a couple of hours.
  • In Oliver Stone's The Doors, Jim Morrison dies in his bathtub with his eyes open.
  • During E.T.'s Disney Death in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, he dies with his eyes open. One of the scientists closes his eyes.
  • Johnny Tran in The Fast and the Furious (2001) after Brian shoots him.
  • The body Chunk is locked in the freezer with in The Goonies.
  • In Gozu, the open eyes of a dead Yakuza brother make the hero feel fairly uncomfortable.
  • How Zartan dies in G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
  • In God Told Me To, a Dirty Cop stares at the ceiling after being stabbed by a drug dealer.
  • Douglas Binder (the first homeless veteran we see hunted) on Hard Target dies like this. Just to establish the villains as a bunch of amoral scumbags even harder, The Dragon closes Binder's eyes with the toe of his boot.
  • Several leading actors in the filmed versions of Hamlet have Hamlet die in this way at the end, including Mel Gibson in the 1990 Franco Zeffirelli film, Kenneth Branagh in his 1996 film, and Christopher Plummer in the BBC's 1964 Hamlet at Elsinore.
  • Almost every character killed on screen in the Harry Potter saga died with his eyes open. Justified in those characters killed by the Avada Kedavra curse, since they were dead before they hit the floor. Poor Cedric.
  • House of Wax (2005): Paige, after she is killed by a pipe impaling her completely through the forehead.
  • Glimmer, Tribute girl district 3, Clove, Foxface, and Rue in the The Hunger Games movie. Katniss closes Rue's eyes, but Glimmer counts as Nausea Fuel, thanks to what the tracker jackers did to her face.
  • James Bond:
    • You Only Live Twice. Bond's girlfriend Aki is killed by a SPECTRE assassin who was trying to kill Bond. After she dies her eyes stay open. Bond pulls down her eyelids, closing them.
    • Combined with Died Standing Up in The Man with the Golden Gun. Bond has a rendevous at a Thai boxing match with Scaramanga's girlfriend so she can hand over the McGuffin that she stole from him. He sits down next to her and starts talking, only to realise she's staring straight ahead and not responding. Then he notices the bullethole over her heart.
    • All the bad guys in Die Another Day (except Zao who died offscreen) died with open eyes.
    • Skyfall has M herself die at the end with her eyes open as well.
  • In Jane Eyre (2011), as the sleeping Jane is carried away from Helen Burns' deathbed, Helen's lifeless eyes still seem to stare after her friend until the nurse covers her body with a sheet.
  • In Khakee, Mahalakshmi is shot in the back after being used as a human shield, dying instantly with her eyes still open.
  • In King Kong (2005), the lights literally go out in Kong's open eyes before his lifeless body falls from the Empire State Building.
  • The King of Marvin Gardens: After Sally shoots Jason three times, he lies with his eyes open.
  • In Little Dead Rotting Hood, Jenny's body is discovered with her eyes still open after being mauled to death by Victoria in her Werewolf form.
  • Little Shop of Horrors: Orin suffocates with his eyes open after he accidentally breaks the valve off of his nitrous oxide mask.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Phil Coulson in The Avengers (2012) dies subtly and quietly, so much so that Nick Fury doesn't even realize his reassurances are going unheard until a few seconds later.
    • The Ancient One's eyes are still open when she dies in Doctor Strange (2016).
    • Avengers: Endgame:
      • In the prologue, Nebula closes the eyes of the disembodied head of her father, Thanos, after Thor decapitates him.
      • Natasha, after she throws herself down the cliff on Vormir, so that Clint can get the Soul Stone.
      • Past Nebula, when Present Nebula shoots her to protect Past Gamora.
      • At the end, Tony is shown to still have his eyes open when he passes away.
    • In Spider-Man: No Way Home, Aunt May passes away with her eyes still open after she was mortally wounded by the Green Goblin.
    • In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, after she is sliced in half with her shield, Captain Carter's lifeless body collapses to the ground, eyes still open.
  • In Massacre at Central High, this is done for everyone David murders whose face is visible afterwards.
  • Ratso Rizzo's death on the bus in Midnight Cowboy.
  • Both Fantine and Gavroche in Les Misérables (2012). Jean Valjean closes Fantine's eyes, but Gavroche's stay open.
  • Annie Wilkes in Misery. It's unknown if she died this way in the novel as well.
  • Mission: Impossible III: When the explosive charge in Ferris' head goes off, her open eyes jerk in different unnatural directions with visible damage. Her eyes are open in every subsequent shot of her body.
  • In Monty Python's And Now For Something Completely Different, this happens to Ernest Scribber during the Joke Warfare sketch.
  • Satine's eyes in Moulin Rouge! are still open as Christian sobs over her body.
  • In The New York Ripper, after being killed, Rosie's facial expression is that of terror with her eyes staring at the ceiling of the car she's on.
  • No Exit: Lars has his eyes open after the nail he got shot in the head with finally goes through his skull.
  • No Holds Barred: In the movie starring Hulk Hogan, the movie's villain, Brell, is accidentally electrocuted when he runs into exposed wires while trying to flee Rip (Hogan's character) after Rip defeats his muscle, Zeus, in a televised fight. Brell is presumably killed instantly and his eyes are wide open after his body lands on the floor.
  • The Old Guard. The first time the immortal protagonists are killed, they're riddled full of bullets with lots of pink mist, then we get a slow pan across their corpses, all of whom have wide staring eyes to show that they're really dead. Then the pupils of their leader contract suddenly...
  • In Ouija, Isabelle cracks her skull on the bathroom sink after she's possessed by Doris Zander, leaving her with a blank expression on her face.
  • In The Outlaw Josey Wales, the young man traveling with Josey early in the film dies this way.
  • The little Afro-American girl who is killed by racketeers in The Phenix City Story and tossed into the front yard of Albert Patterson's house has her eyes open for even more shock value. (Nothing remotely like this happened in real life.)
  • Pod People was especially ridiculous with this idea. Even a girl who had been comatose for a couple of days, with her eyes firmly shut, died with her eyes open.
  • Mack dies this way in Predator. Bonus points and Nightmare Fuel combined for when Dillon finds him, Mack's corpse is positioned in such a way that he is staring right back at him.
  • Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock. Poor Marion. Her brutal murder in the iconic "shower scene" ends with a chilling close-up of her staring eye as the camera slowly pans out to show her face-down on the bathroom floor.
  • Red Tails: Lightning dies this way after coughing up Blood from the Mouth. Easy follows his plane most of the way down to the ground while screaming at him to pull up.
  • Resident Evil: Retribution: Rain Ocampo dies with her eyes opens after breaking her back.
  • Relative Fear: After Earl's life-support equipment is disconnected, he thrashes around for a bit before falling on the floor and dying with his eyes staring at the ceiling.
  • How Jimmy Conlon dies at the end of Run All Night.
  • P.L. Travers's father in Saving Mr. Banks, after a long battle with influenza.
  • Used chillingly in Saving Private Ryan with Sgt. Horvath (eventually succumbs to multiple gunshot wounds sustained over the course of the Battle of Ramelle) and Pvt. Mellish (pinned to the floor by a Nazi and stabbed through the heart).
  • Parodied in Scary Movie 3 at Brenda's wake, after she's killed by a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl:
    Mrs. Meeks: She looks so peaceful... (cut to Brenda's face, locked in a horrified expression, with her eyes open)
  • Occurs frequently in Scream:
    • In the first film, this happens to Casey Becker, Principal Himbry, and Kenny Jones.
    • Nearly everyone dying in Scream 2 undergo this, the only exception being Derek Feldman, who closes his eyes as he succumbs to his gunshot wound.
    • Sarah Darling, Angelina Tyler, and Roman Bridger in Scream 3.
    • Marnie Cooper, Rebecca Walters, and Jill Roberts in Scream 4. The film even ends with a closeup of the latter's dead face, eyes open.
  • Both Hugo and David in Shallow Grave. When the flatmates go to bury Hugo's corpse, the eyes appear to be staring up at David even as he's about to smash the face in. Later David also dies with his eyes open, and they remain open even as he's taken to the mortuary.
  • Jack Torrance when he freezes to death in the hedge maze in The Shining. It only adds to the creepiness.
  • Spasmo: Several characters in the film die with their eyes open.
  • Dr. Octopus in Spider-Man 2 is shown to still have his eyes open when his lifeless body sinks in the river.
  • Ray Brower, the MacGuffin dead body in Stand by Me, was found by the boys to have died with his eyes open. They covered his face with the debris he was found in when they realized how serious the situation truly was.
  • In Sunburn (1979), Dobbs is found in a bathtub, covered in blood, staring at the ceiling.
  • The victims of serial killer O'Ryan in Suspect Zero are all found with at least one eye open. This is justified by the fact that the killer cuts off their eyelids after killing them.
  • Carson in Team America: World Police dies in Lisa's arms with his eyes wide open.
  • Kyle Reese in The Terminator. After he manages to blow up half of the Terminator's body with a pipe bomb, Sarah Conner immediately finds his lifeless body like this shortly after the explosion. Whether it was the explosion, the shock of the explosion, or the injuries he suffered that killed him is unknown.
  • The Thousand Eyes Of Sumuru, unlike the rest of the cast that die with their eyes closed, an Itallian henchwoman is found dead in the protaganists bed, her eyes wide open, staring blankly upwards.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
  • Several characters in the film Torso are killed with their eyes still open.
  • In the 2017 film Totem, the main character Kellie dies like this after she trips and falls onto Robin's metalhead sculpture, and her head is impaled on one of the sharp spikes.
  • One of the astronauts at the beginning of 20 Million Miles to Earth
  • The Colonel in Valkyrie, sort of.
  • Allen in Vampyr has his eyes wide open when lying dead in the coffin during the Dream Sequence.
  • In Wake In Fear, one of the deceased girls named Sam is shown to have died with her eyes open, after Chloe moves over Sam's lifeless body, she then closes her eyes
  • Used in Waking Ned Divine. Ned dies of shock with his eyes open after winning the lottery, and people try to disguise the lottery win as part of a clever plan. They drew the sides of his mouth down, so he'd look sad, but his eyes showed his happiness, so they were forced to close them.
  • Weekend at Bernie's: During the rare instances that the titular Bernie is seen, deceased, with no sunglasses on, his eyes are always open (which helps the two other main characters convince people that he's alive).
  • Romeo in William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet. For maximum pathos, a last Single Tear streams from his staring eye as he expires.
  • Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?: When Katharine is killed falling off a banister, she stares at the ceiling with blood coming out of her nose.
  • In Yevadu, Deva slits Deepthi's throat, with Deepthi's final moments being of her trying to reach for her lover Sathya, but she ends up dying staring at him.

  • The Accursed Kings: When Philip the Fair dies, the morticians are unable to close his eyes, so they just put a blindfold over them.
  • Abbe Faria in The Count of Monte Cristo dies like this after some kind of attack and Edmond Dantes has a lot of trouble closing his eyes.
  • Argal from Doglands died with his eyes wide open and his mouth foaming because it took several euthanasia shots to put him down.
There are multiple examples in James Frey's Endgame Trilogy:
  • Chris dies with his eyes wide open, looking at Sarah.
  • Sarah expects to be shot by a man any moment, while she is hanging out of a window. She deliberately keeps her eyes open, because her boyfriend Chris died with open eyes. However, Jago rescues her in the last moment.
  • Dobby in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. During his funeral, Luna pushes his eyelids shut so it "looks like he's sleeping."
  • Herbert West, in H. P. Lovecraft's Herbert West–Reanimator, after being ripped apart by re-animated corpses.
  • In Iron Fist, Ton Phanan finally dies with his eyes open and a look of wonder on his face. Granted, one is a prosthetic and can't close. Face closes his organic eye after he dies, before immolating the corpse with his TIE Interceptor.
  • In the book The Juniper Tree and Other Tales from Grimm, Maurice Sendak's illustration for Snow White depicts the princess with open eyes on her bier after she "dies" from eating the poisoned apple.
  • Presented as a positive thing in David Gemmell's Legend, in which it shows a character is facing his chosen fate to the last.
  • Subverted creepily in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers: Pippin sneaks over to have a go on Gandalf's new palantír. He gets a fright when he sees Gandalf looking at him, but no, Gandalf's just asleep. Earlier in the same volume, Legolas is sleeping — with his eyes open. (In the case of Legolas, he's not actually sleeping. Elves don't sleep, at least not the way mortals do.)
  • In Lonesome Dove, Deets dies like this after getting mistaken by the Native Americans as about to kidnap a blind child, but he was Just Trying to Help in the most heart-wrenching way.
  • In The Purple Cloud, most victims of the titular Fog of Doom died instantly. Adam finds ghost ships full of corpses who suddenly dropped dead in the middle of various tasks, all with their eyes open.
  • Ravelling Wrath: While Justicar is alive, her body is infused with the Stern God's power, making her invincible. After she dies, the power leaves her, and the narration emphasizes that with physical details about the body that's left over:
    Above me, Justicar's armor splintered into dust and vanished. Her human body slumped down onto mine. With the armor gone, she was thin and bony, lying limp and rigid like an old rubber band that had been stretched one too many times. Just inches away from my face, her head hung slack from her neck, her empty eyes staring past me into nothingness. After all this, in the end, she was so human. So tragically human.
  • Rubbernecker: Patrick's father was killed in a hit-and-run when Patrick was eight. Bystanders tried to block his view of the body, but he still got a glimpse of his father's open, staring eyes.
  • In the first book of The Saga of Darren Shan, Steve has a death like this. Darren describes trying to close his eyes, because his eyes open were creeping him out, but then opening them again because him with his eyes shut looked too much like he was dead. (He was)
  • Saving Max: Jonas is found stabbed to death, gaping wide-eyed at the ceiling.
  • In Siren, every man the sirens murder is found with his eyes open, grinning from ear to ear.
  • In Stray, Pufftail's elderly original owner died in her bed. Pufftail and his brother found her in the morning with her open eyes already glazed.
  • In There's More Than One Way Home, Tyler stares blankly while a cop attempts CPR on him.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Blood Angels novel Deus Sanguinius, a woman is mortally wounded striving to be one of Arkio's chosen soldiers. Sachiel assures her that her children are proud of her, mercy-kills her with a weapon meant for Space Marines, and closes her eyes when she dies.
    • Later Sachiel himself is lying in the battlefield, with rain falling in his open eyes.
  • Happens occasionally in Warrior Cats. In Rising Storm, Fireheart gently closes Yellowfang's eyes for the last time. In Twilight, Squirrelflight realizes that Sootfur's dead in the battle when she sees the gash in his throat and the way he's sightlessly staring at the sky.
  • After Chase from Where the Crawdads Sing falls off a water tower, he's found with his eyes and mouth open.
  • At the end of Wuthering Heights, Nelly finds Heathcliff dead, his eyes wide open and his face curled in a demonic grin. She tries to shut them but can't.

    Live-Action TV 
  • American Horror Story:
    • In the episode Murder House, Moira is killed after she's shot in one of her eyes, as the camera focuses on her lifeless body we see that her remaining eye is still open.
  • Angel:
    • Used for horror with Fred Burkle's death in "A Hole in the World", so we can see her eyes change when Illyria takes over her body.
    • In the final raid on the Senior Partners in "Not Fade Away", Wesley is assigned to take out Vail, the sorcerer. Vail runs him through with a knife, and Illyria is left to tearfully cradle his body.
  • Happens to a ventriloquist and his dummy in an episode of Angie Tribeca. Lieutenant Geils tries to close the dummy's eyes, and they pop back open. Then he tries the same thing on the human victim, with the same result.
  • Annika (2021): The victim in episode 1.2 is shown staring up sightlessly from the floor of his boat.
  • In the final episode of Ashes to Ashes (2008) Chris Skelton views a video of a disturbing close look of a dying police officer's face in such a fashion after the officer is shot to death. The dying police officer is Chris himself.
  • Astrid: A plot point in "Invisible". When people die with their eyes open, the corneas rapidly cloud over due to oxidation, but this doesn't happen with the eyelids shut. The Body of the Week's eyes are cloudy but closed, which leads Astrid to suspect that the killer closed them after a lengthy interval, and provides her a clue to the Serial Killer's M.O.
  • The Barrier: The camera briefly focuses on the fact that Alejo, who dies by Boom, Headshot!, has both his eyes open after his death.
  • Breaking Bad:
    • Jane starts choking while she's asleep. When she finally dies, her eyelids slide partially open. She's shown hours later with her eyes still open.
    • In "Felina", this happens to Walt as he dies from blood loss after being shot in the side by the M60 he rigs in the trunk of his car which uses to kill Jack and his Neo-Nazi gang.
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Body" had Buffy find Joyce Summers lying on a couch after her sudden death with wide-open eyes. The episode makes a point of NOT having anyone close Joyce's eyes for her; they remain open throughout the episode. The episode also opens each act with a shot of Joyce's corpse in which her eyes are staring right at the viewer.
    • Subverted with Wood in "Chosen"; when Faith goes to close his eyes he turns out to be Not Quite Dead.
  • In Burn Notice, Victor dies this way; in fact, there's hardly any visible change from the way he was before. Michael closes his eyes for him.
  • Bryce at the end of season 2 of Chuck.
    • And Stephen at the end of Season 3.
  • Many a victim in Cold Case end up dying this way. In particular, stabbing victims have the highest ratio of this happening to.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Doctor Who and the Silurians": After carrying the Silurian plague to London, Frederick Masters (played by Geoffrey Palmer) collapses dead against a fence with his eyes eerily open.
    • 'The long game': Suki dies with her eyes open after being killed by the Jagrafess
    • "Planet of the Spiders": Sarah Jane Smith closes the Third Doctor's eyes.
    • "Smith and Jones": Martha Jones closes Mr. Stoker's eyes as a mark of respect after his blood is drained by a Plasmavore.
    • "The Lazarus Experiment": The Doctor closes Professor Lazarus' eyes.
    • "The Sound of Drums": Albert Dumfries dies this way, immediately after being gassed by PM Harold Saxon (the Master) along with the rest of the Cabinet.
    • 'The timeless children': Bescot dies with her eyes open after being shot by a cyberman
  • In one of the most heartbreaking moments ever seen on Farscape, Crichton utters " Don't worry about me. I've never felt better." before dying with his eyes still open.
  • Discussed in the Firefly episode "The Message". As part a posthumous message, Tracy requests that Mal and Zoe "make sure his eyes is closed."
  • Forever uses this many times, the first in the pilot after the subway crash when the pretty cello player's body is lying nearby, and most of the times Henry himself dies follow this trope. Notably, it's actually a plot point in "Hitler On the Half Shell" when the killer's fingerprints are found on the victim's eyelids because he closed them after death.
  • An episode of Fringe has Walter find a man who's been fused together with a copy of himself, such that one's face is coming out of the other's chest. When the man naturally dies, Walter closes the eyes of the one face...then those of the chest-face.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Played with: the funerary traditions of the Faith of the Seven require closing the dead man's eyes and putting discs looking like open eyes over them, giving this impression.
    • Talisa's eyes continue to express pure shock and terror even after death.
    • Joffrey's bloodshot eyes are the focus of the final shot of an episode.
    • Styr after Jon drops the hammer on him. For a moment, it even looks like he's quizzically judging Jon.
    • Jojen Reed's dead eyes show hints of turning the occult blue of a wight's before the fireball engulfs the body.
    • Shae after being strangled.
    • Jon Snow's eyes are wide open, staring lifelessly at the sky, after he dies.
    • Justified with Rickon, as he was shot by an arrow In the Back by surprise.
    • The "golden crown" forced on Viserys is too painful for him to close his eyes.
  • Gimme a Break!: A Season 1 episode, "Your Prisoner Is Dead" sees Chief Kanisky shock his youngest daughter, Samantha, into reality after she wonders aloud if the shooting he was involved with was just like what she had seen on CHiPs. Chief tells her that this was not like the movies or TV at all; instead of Bloodless Carnage and the guy closing his eyes upon onset of death, the armed robbery suspect he shot collapsed, began crying for help (and his mother), and had his eyes wide open the whole time as he was bleeding heavily. Part of this was seen before the scene switched from the crime scene to the Kanisky house.
  • Lexie on Grey's Anatomy; Mark does the traditional closing-by-hand.
  • Home and Away
    • After getting into a fight with Charlotte King, Denny Miller hit her head against the corner of an armchair, which kills her instantly, the next shot shows her lifeless body with her eyes still open.
  • Nearly every named character who dies in the Horatio Hornblower telefilms does so with open eyes—in one case, the dying man asks "is it evening?" before he expires—leaving them staring up at Hornblower.
  • I, Claudius: Augustus dies this way, in a very quiet scene while Livia soliloquizes.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent:
    • In the episode "Salome in Manhattan", Lisa Wellesley dies this way after she's strangled, her eyes remain open when her body is taken for autopsy.
  • Law & Order: UK when Matt Devlin was shot. The final frame of the episode was of his eyes, wide open. What makes this especially wrenching is that he was clearly still alive at this point, giving viewers hope that he might survive. Sadly, it was not to be.
  • Leverage: In the series finale, in the fake flashback for Nate's first story, Hardison, Eliot, and Parker are all seen lying dead with their eyes open.
  • Lost uses a motif of characters dying with their eyes open, and other characters closing them as a sign of finality or respect for the dead.
  • Most of Crews and Reese's cases on the show Life feature a wide-eyed corpse. No one ever closes their eyes. It's like a thing for that show.
  • The Musketeers: Comte de Rochefort dies this way in the second season finale. When Aramis goes to close his eyes post-mortem Queen Anne stops him, the implication being that after everything Rochefort put them through he doesn't deserve the gesture.
  • In the NCIS episode Twilight, Kate is sniped through the head. Her eyes are wide open in the next shot, but then it cuts to the end of the season. In the shots of her body in the next two episodes, she is either talking to Ducky via hallucination or has her eyes shut - Ducky kept her covered in front of her former colleagues, and her eyes being shut is presumably a sign of respect.
  • Quite a lot of deaths in 1000 Ways to Die feature this. Fitting, as it is a show about death.
  • On In Plain Sight, Mary goes to the crime scene and finds one of her victims dead. When she goes to shut his eyes a woman who we can assume is a detective or from forensics says "Hey don't touch that." Mary asks if they can close his eyes and she replies only if she has a needle and thread.
  • In the second episode of Queen of the South a woman Teresa talks to suddenly dies after she finishes talking. It turns out she was holding drugs in her stomach but they dissolved before she could vomit them out. After she dies they show others cutting her open and removing the drugs, which freaks Teresa out so much she tries to run away.
  • Robin Hood has two in the third season finale - Tuck closes Allan's eyes, and Robin later closes Gisborne's eyes.
  • Sechs Auf Einen Streich:
    • In Schneewittchen, Snow White dies with her eyes open after she eats the poisoned apple. One of the dwarfs tenderly closes them. But of course she gets better.
  • The main villain of Sherlock, Jim Moriarty, not only shot himself through the mouth in front of Sherlock Holmes, but did it as part of a game of Gambit Roulette. His body is shown to be smiling as well as wide-eyed.
    • Averted with Sherlock himself; his eyes are open after he jumps off of the roof of St. Barts, but of course, he was faking it.
      • Possibly averted with Moriarty, who might have been faking it as well.
  • Averted in The Stand (1994)-the television network censors didn't like the idea of the dead people being shown with their eyes open.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • The Klingons' sense of honour means that their allies will hold their eyes open and look into them as they die. Happens in a couple of episodes. They also perform a death roar as a warning to those in Sto-vo-kor that a Klingon Warrior is arriving. Highlighted by Tasha Yar in her funeral service, speaking to Worf. "I hope I met death with my eyes wide open."
    • Data, in the episode "Contagion." Geordi closes his eyes for him (which looks kinda weird since Burton can't actually touch him without screwing up Spiner's makeup and the hover is obvious). Whenever he shuts off, his eyes are usually open.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: The episode "Revulsion" opens with a crewman staring into space, then he's dragged off leaving a blood trail against the bulkhead.
  • Star Trek: Picard:
    • In "Remembrance", Dahj cries over the corpse of her boyfriend, whose eyes are "staring" at nothing, which is how she knows that he's dead.
    • In "Absolute Candor", Tenqem still appears be glaring at Picard when his head falls off.
    • In "Stardust City Rag", Bruce Maddox dies while looking at the camera.
    • In "Nepenthe", Elnor (and the audience) can see the precise moment when Hugh passes away by the latter's lifeless eyes, which remain open.
    • In "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1", Altan Soong laments while he cradles Saga's body, whose murder by Eye Scream is evident because while her right optical processor is visibly intact, her left one has been irreversibly damaged by her own hummingbird brooch.
      Altan: Perfect golden eye. What did [Narek] do to your beautiful eye?
  • Emma on The Strain (TV series) dies with her eyes open twice. First, after she's drained by The Master and after she rises as a vampire, when Setrakian decapitates her.
  • Subverted in episode of Law and Order: SVU. Alex Cabot is thought to be killed, but turns up alive at the end of the episode.
  • Many of the bodies in Supernatural die with their eyes wide open, but in the episode "What Is And What Should Never Be" the woman in white is Not Quite Dead despite staring unblinkingly.
  • SOKO Stuttgart
    • In Das Todesfagott, Ruth Merle dies after her mouthpiece was poisoned with her eyes still open after she collapses to the ground.
  • Tell Me a Story
    • In Deception, Laney Reed has her eyes open after her throat was slit by Nick Sullivan.
  • Series/SOKOKöln
    • in Techtelmechtel, Pia Söllner is shot in the chest with an arrow, dying with her eyes open
  • In Series/13StepsDown Danila Kovic dies with her eyes open after being beaten to death with a flashlight.
  • Professor T.
    • in Dode meisjes zingen niet Elise Deroy is strangled to death with her eyes remaining open, remaining open even after her body is posed in a way to make it appear she hanged herself.
  • In That '70s Show during Grandma Foreman's funeral the audience is treated to a sequence of characters paying their respects (or disrespects) at her casket from the corpse's perspective. Until it gets to Red, who calls the funeral director over to close her eyes.
  • True Blood:
    • After Katerina Pelham neck is snapped, she opens her eyes one last time before dying.
  • Walker, Texas Ranger: Victor LaRue, when killed off by Walker and The Hangman, who forced C.D. Parker to pull a suicide by cop, die with their eyes wide open. Even more disturbing with LaRue, because not only does his face look just as vicious upon his death, Alex has a nightmarish thought as he's being carted out on a gurney- only to spring back to life to the tune of Elvis.
  • Wives and Daughters: Poor Osborne Hamley. He has been unwell for a long time, an one day he just lies down under a tree, breathing heavily, and motion of the camera suggests he's dizzy. Next shot of him is his pale face with widely open eyes and a bug crawling over it. He died alone so there was nobody who would comfort him and close his eyelids.

    Multiple Media 
  • Star Wars:
    • Shmi Skywalker in Attack of the Clones dies with her eyes open and Anakin tenderly closes them before his Unstoppable Rage kicks in.
    • In Return of the Jedi, Jabba the Hutt, after being strangled to death by Leia, has his eyes partly open when he dies.
    • Also there are several moments in where Kenny himself would end up being killed with his eyes still open.
    • A few characters in Star Wars: The Clone Wars die this way.
      • In "Tresspass", Chairman Cho eventually dies from a stab wound from a spear thrown by a Talz. As he claims that he died for his people to Senator Chuchi, he goes limp and dies with eyes open, leaving Chuchi to close them.
      • In "ARC Troopers", 99's eyes roll back after he is shot by battle droids when he tried to get more grenades.
      • In "Altar of Mortis", Ahsoka's eyes roll back after she is temporarily killed by the Son of Mortis.
    • In Star Wars Rebels, this is how Darth Maul goes out after he is struck down during his final duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi. Obi-Wan closes his eyes for him.
    • In Rogue One, Chirrut Îmwe dies with his eyes wide open after being shot down. Cassian Andor opens his eyes just as the blast wave from the Death Star's weapon hits him and Jyn Erso during their Final First Hug.
    • In The Rise of Skywalker, Rey dies with her eyes open after she manages to defeat Palpatine and we are treated to several shots of her open, glazed eyes to indicate that she's dead. She gets better.


  • In Antony and Cleopatra, the text seems to imply that Cleopatra dies with her eyes open and Charmian closes them.
    Charmian: Downy windows, close;
    And golden Phoebus never be beheld
    Of eyes again so royal!
  • Cesare - Il Creatore che ha distrutto - Draghignazzo dies this way, and Miguel, holding him, closes his eyes.
  • Opera singer Maria Callas, a Greek vocal actress with an unerring sense of theatrical effect, used to do this at the end of Verdi's La Traviata. Most Violettas just fall over with their eyes closed; Maria used to die sitting in a chair or standing, staring straight out into the audience. Today, Romanian soprano Gabriella Istoc does a kinder, gentler version; she just looks thoughtful. This is true to the original novel La dame aux camilias, where Marguerite dies this way.

    Video Games 
  • At the end of Batman: Arkham City, the Joker dies like this in a twisted version of Go Out with a Smile.
  • In Brain Dead 13, Lance can die in this way in some of the death scenes.
  • Captive (RPG Maker): In the Free ending, the captor is shot by a policeman and dies with their eyes still open. Or so it seems, until she blinks...
  • Dragon Age II: If you take the option to kill Anders after he blows up the Kirkwall Chantry, you stab him in the back and as he slumps forward the camera focuses on his face, so you can clearly see his eyes moving around until they stop.
  • Both NPC and player characters die with open eyes in Fallout 3. And thanks to a common bug, still blinking.
  • At the end of the first 2/3rds of Far Cry 3, Jason stabs Vaas several times in the heart, his face frozen in shock. Both he and Jason fall to the ground, still staring blankly at his killer, and then he looks at Jason. What really happened is blurry as Jason was (most likely) in a bizarre hallucination but Jason is assured that Vaas did die.
  • Seymour from Final Fantasy X dies like this. The first time, at least.
  • Used to terrifying effect during death animations in Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice.
  • Henry Stickmin from the Henry Stickmin Series suffers this at the end of the Revenged pathway. And this is a series known for The Many Deaths of You.
  • Krizalid in The King of Fighters '99. When Heidern shows up to inspect the death scene, he closes Krizalid's eyes with his gloved hand.
  • Sarah dies this way in the prologue of The Last of Us, cradled in her father's arms as she bleeds out from a bullet to the abdomen. Poor Joel...
  • Richard L. Jenkins in Mass Effect actually averts this, as a CGI character they could give him half-closed eyes. Kaidan still comes along and closes them.
  • Mad Father: Aya dies like this in the bad ending after she is killed by her father. We then see her lifeless eyes after he turns her into a doll.
  • Lumine dies like this in Mega Man X8. Subverted in Maverick Hunter X where X's eyes remain open when he's unconscious, with varying reactions from observers.
  • Emma Emmerich in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.
  • In Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, when you find the GFS Tyr's landing site, Captain Exeter is leaning against a communications console with his visor broken and his eyes wide open. After watching the Marines' final, fatal Ing encounter in cutscene, Samus shakes her head at the futility of their deaths before kneeling next to Exeter's corpse, closing his eyes through the broken glass.
  • The previous Steef guardian in Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath.
  • Happens with Trevor in Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh.
  • In Silent Hill 4, Cynthia Velasquez dies this way in the tube station at the start of the game as protagonist Henry Townshend cradles her, before closing her eyes.
  • Iska in Soulcalibur Legends.
  • In Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 4: The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood, Morgan LeFlay falls in a slump after whispering to Guybrush about LeChuck and dies with her eyes half open; Guybrush becomes grieved at her loss, then pulls the sword from her not-bleeding body and has her hands enclose its hilt, tilts her head in a proper death pose and closes her eyes before getting up and walking away.
    • Averted at the end of the same chapter, when the mortally wounded Guybrush's eyes open wide in a blank stare at a saddened Elaine, but then gently close as he collapses and "falls asleep" with his mouth open.
  • In the classic Core Design Tomb Raider games, Lara would sometimes die and just... stare at the camera with her usual serious expression, if the camera was positioned right. A rather disturbing unintentional example through technical limitations.
  • At the end of World of Warcraft Wrath of the Lich King, Arthas is defeated when Tirion shatters Frostmourne with Ashbringer. As he lies down dying, his father Terenas' spirit kneels down to hold him, telling him that the nightmare is finally over and that no king rules forever. Arthas' eyes roll up in his last moments as he notes that "[Arthas] can see only darkness before me..." Terenas respectfully shuts his son's eyes, showing that despite everything he still loved and forgave him.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa:
    • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc:
      • Junko Enoshima, in reality Mukuro Ikusaba in disguise, Dies with her eyes open after being impaled several times in the chest.
      • Chihiro Fujisaki is found crucified with his eyes wide open.
    • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair: Nagito Komaeda is found like this, covered in torture wounds, impaled by a spear and with a terrified expression on his face.
    • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: Miu Iruma is discovered by the others with her eyes wide open, clutching at her throat. This in stark contrast to the fact that her body is completely devoid of wounds, as she died in a VR simulation.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club!:
    • Sayori is found like this after she hangs herself.
    • Yuri also dies this way after she stabs herself to death.
  • Fate/stay night: In the Sparks Liner High ending of the Heaven's Feel route, Shirou fights Saber Alter to the death. He delivers a devastating blow, but since he had to use too many projections to do so, his mind is shattered. Saber asks him to deal a killing blow before she starts to regenerate, when she notices that Shirou is looking at the ceiling with his eyes wide open, telling her that he is mentally dead.
  • Jack Hammer in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is this since when the other people in the case are going over his murder you can see that his body’s eyes are wide open with the pupils visible, this is especially notable because most Victims in the Ace Attorney series eyes are already closed when they are first found dead.
  • Planetarian: This is how Yumemi shuts down. The junker closed them for her.
  • Spirit Hunter: NG:
    • In one of the first Bad Ends, Kaoru is murdered by the Urashima Woman, their eyes glassy as they stare up at the ceiling with bloodied turtles crawling out of their mouth.
    • Seiji is decapitated by Kubitarou in a Bad End while they're still alive. When Akira finds the head, its eyes are wide open in fear and are staring right at him.
    • One of Rosé's deaths has them with open eyes as they're grotesquely distorted by razor wire. The result is a dead gaze that makes their mutilated corpse all the more chilling to look at.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • Penny Polendina dies like this, despite being a robot.
    • As does Vernal, after which Raven closes her eyes, as in the trope description.
    • In Volume 7, Clover dies with his eyes open, so the viewer can see the light leaving them.

  • While not technically dead, the androids in Commander Kitty have a tendency to turn off with their eyes still open and their mouths locked in an anguished expression. And in a complete aversion of Eye Lights Out, Zenith suffers a catastrophic system crash with her eyes still open.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Sivo's eyes remain open in death. Their color changes from blue to a pupil-less gray.
  • Homestuck: Midway through Act 5 Act 2, the trolls start dying; most of the dead trolls die with their eyes open, as a result of being actively fighting when they were murdered. The exceptions are Kanaya, who got better, and Nepeta, whose death was not actually seen, possibly as part of a Schrodinger's cat pun, though her eyes were open later when Gamzee got ahold of her decapitated head.
  • The Order of the Stick has its own version of this trope, where a dead body's eyes are always displayed as X's, neither open nor shut. This is lampshaded in this strip, where Durkon is looking at Roy's corpse through a spy-glass and Haley asks him whether "he has the X's in his eyes" that prove his death.
    • Also when Haley and Belkar are sneaking out of occupied Azure City; Celia uses an illusion to appear as a demon, while the two mortals draw X's over their eyelids and lie very still on the cart so they appear to be corpses.
  • Used often in the CG art of morphE. A good example is the unnamed woman from the intro lying dead at Tyler's feet in the dream sequence or before Vengeful awoke as a Thrysus mage.
  • Muted: Diana Eloi, after Camille kills her body. To be more specific, after unleashing her Le Roux powers on the demon, Camille wakes up from her illusion only to find herself staring into the eyes of Diana's corpse.
  • The wide open eyes of Paul after his death in Sire were regarded as some readers as Nightmare Fuel.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane. Jayce accidentally kills a child worker during a fight in an illegal shimmer factory. In the next episode, he's shown guiltily closing the lad's eyes.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold, of all places, had Boston Brand aka Deadman die like this in a flashback.
  • In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Gwen dies like this. She gets better.
  • Darkwing Duck has shown plenty of corpses that avoid this, either by being covered by plants, or by being digested by a python, or by being compressed in a can, or by being mere skeletons or by having the eyes and beaks of their severed heads sewn shut. Who said that avoiding it was better? There was one cold case however where two SHUSH agents were found in a freezer with their eyes open and sticks under their feet that made them look giant popsicles instead of dead bodies.
  • Family Guy:
    • In "Lois Kills Stewie" when Stewie is killed by Peter in his simulator, his eyes are wide open and Peter wipes his hand over to close them, while sad music plays that may or may not be part of the simulation.
    • In "Save the Clam," Horace dies with his eyes closed. Until Dr. Hartman, in keeping with his medical incompetence, wipes his hand over to open them.
    • This happens to Mr. Weed.
    • In the final segment of "Family Guy Viewer Mail #2", Brian runs over a squirrel with his car while Stewie is clinging onto the underside. When the squirrel's carcass ends up on the tire, its eyes are still open, prompting Stewie to close them and tell the squirrel that Brian can't hurt him anymore.
  • Futurama: This happens to Bender in the first segment of Anthology Of Interest, Part II.
  • In the Justice League episode "Only a Dream", Jimmy Olsen's eyes are wide open after Superman inadvertently crushes him. (The next shot, though, they're shut.)
  • Surprisingly for a series more known for establishing Ash Face and Amusing Injuries in animation there are quite a few examples of this in "Looney Tunes" still without visible blood of course. There are visible holes however... The Unmentionables for one show the dangers of shooting wantonly while a hare has kicked you inside your hat, which Rocky does before ordering his goons to move which they promptly falling over dead from his shots.
    • One of the few successful murder attempts in the shorts was by Elmer Fudd's dog Rover from A Mutt in a Rut who decided to do his owner in and at one point just shoots him, but simply misses and instead guns a bear down which is one step above bear-rugs in cartoons and which makes it still a failure concerning the intended target.
  • Love, Death & Robots. A variation in "The Very Pulse of the Machine", when an astronaut rubs dirt on the Broken Faceplate of a deceased colleague's space helmet. She wipes it off later when she starts to hallucinate them talking to her, just to be sure they aren't.
  • The Simpsons: Homer's mother, Mona, dies like this.
  • Skull Island: The eyes on the undamaged half of the Kraken's face, after Kong kills it by ripping it in two in the Season Finale.
  • In the South Park episode "Nobody Got Cereal?", Satan gets fatally wounded by ManBearPig while trying to save the town of South Park. He tells the Cartman and his friends to stay strong before he expires with his eyes and mouth still open, seconds before his spirit ascends into heaven due to his redemption on Earth.
  • Artemis in Young Justice (2010) when shot by Deathstroke, but it was actually fake.

Alternative Title(s): Dies With Eyes Open, Dies Wide Shut


No Way Home- SPOILER!

Aunt May gives her nephew some critical -- and final -- words of guidance.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / WithGreatPowerComesGreatResponsibility

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