Any character who wears glasses and is Blind Without 'Em — which is to say, almost every character who wears glasses on TV — lives in fear of dropping or losing their spectacles, because invariably some helpful but elephantine bystander might promptly step forward to help look for them — and immediately crush them underfoot. That is to say, the character is afraid this will happen, which is why they're frantically searching. Actually crushing the glasses is not a requirement for this trope.
The sight-impaired character must then often spend at least part of an episode temporarily blind, either because the glasses end up crushed, or because they just couldn't find them.
Truth in Television: Losing your spectacles can be a severe problem, as anyone who has really bad eyesight will testify. Although it's reasonably unlikely for the lens of glasses to be crushed when stepped on: in most cases, the frame will warp and a lens might pop out, but both are easily fixable on the spot. Despite the fact that they are still called GLASSes, these days lenses are made from polymers (typically a form of polycarbonate) that are lighter and less likely to break (although more prone to scratchesnote ). Surprisingly, losing the single screw holding a lens in place (which, in real life, is far far harder to find and repair on the spot, mainly because said screw is tiny) is rarely done on TV.
- Used to good effect in Love Hina, with fumbling for his glasses getting Keitaro another Megaton Punch in one episode, and in another leading to both he and Naru (both Blind Without 'Em) having a great time on a date, without realizing they were with each other.
- Played mostly straight in One Piece: When Tashigi drops her glasses, she scrambles to find them. Zoro actually does safely retrieve them for her — but then crushes them in shock upon seeing her face. (Anime-only, though. In the manga, he apparently just hands them to her.)
- Nowy's Dropped Glasses moments become an Overly Long Gag in Glass Fleet, which eventually leads to a punch line when, to cheer up Eimer, he intentionally knocks his glasses off his own head and then goes through the usual production of searching for them.
- Setsuna effectively wins her first fight with Tsukuyomi in Mahou Sensei Negima! by knocking her glasses off. She's helpless without her glasses.
- In Saiyuki Gaiden, this happening at a most inconvenient time leads to Tenpou being killed in a fight he was actually winning prior to that point.
- In D.N.Angel, Satoshi has moments where he drops his glasses...however, he admits he doesn't actually need them to see. It appears they're actually what's keeping Krad under control, so while he can see fine without them this is still a problem.
- Averted in Haruhi Suzumiya. Yuki Nagato does not need new glasses after they break, and decides to simply go without them.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Weevil Underwood/Insector Haga pretends to do this during the Doma Arc when he is found crawling on the floor, looking for rare cards. He just threw them a few inches away and this was pointed out fairly quickly, but the act of desperation still did the job as it warded off further questioning on the matter.
- Kozue of Occult Academy constantly drops her glasses and has difficulty finding them again. To the point that a two-parter about her being trapped in the afterlife after a near-death experience happened because her soul had dropped its glasses... only to find them perched on top of her head.
- Date A Live: Altered Timeline: Implied to be a common occurrence with Nia, along with them breaking after they fall off, since she carries multiple spares on hand.
- Dennis Nedry from the film version of Jurassic Park loses his glasses, which not only renders him vulnerable to the blinding poison of the Dilophosaurs, but also gives one of them time to hide in his car.
- The movie A Christmas Story has Ralphie accidentally stepping on his own glasses after accidentally shooting them off with his BB gun. He manages to fake his way out of trouble by blaming the accident on an errant icicle.
- A Running Gag in Take the Money and Run has characters removing Woody Allen's glasses and stomping on them. And at one point he does this to himself to beat someone to the punch.
- Burns in The Mummy. This is almost immediately rendered moot when Imhotep takes his eyes as part of the curse.
- The Goonies: Stef drops her glasses in a dark tunnel and Mikey accidentally steps on them. Despite a few early complaints about finding things hard to see, it doesn't seem to affect her that much, but she spends the remainder of the film squinting.
- In The Bank Dick, W.C. Fields' character is trying to keep the bank examiner from looking over the books, knocking off his glasses and 'accidentally' stepping on them. He's dismayed to see the examiner keeps about a dozen spares in his briefcase.
- Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (Velma even lampshades this, saying "I really should consider contacts.")
- Olivia in Final Destination 5 loses her glasses in the opening bridge collapse, rendering her helpless as she falls into the water below and is crushed by a falling car.
- Happens in My Girl, when Thomas dies as he's stung to death by a bee swarm.
- This happens to Dean Higgins for a few seconds in The Strongest Man in the World, when attempting to clean his glasses after they got fogged up after he eats some of the strength formula-laced cereal.
- Brenda from Adventures in Babysitting sees badly enough without her glasses that she mistakes a giant rat for a cat.
- This happens to Ms. Norbury in Mean Girls when she tries to break up two girls fighting. Unfortunately they get stepped on before she can retrieve them.
- In The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov, a dropped pair of glasses is critical to the case.
- When the plane wrecks early in Dr. Franklin's Island, Semi loses her glasses and contacts and has to live in a blur, constantly afraid that she's being a drain on her companions, and needing things at a distance described to her. It reaches the verge of making her an Unreliable Narrator. When transformed, her eyesight improves.
- In The Magic Treehouse #4, Jack loses his glasses while on the beach and scrambles to find them. It costs him precious time in getting away from the pirates.
- Our Miss Brooks: Mr. Conklin fell victim to this trope on more than one occasion; i.e. "Cure That Habit", "Living Statues", and "Skis in the Classroom".
- The Twilight Zone: A man can find no time to read in peace, but when an apocalyptic nuclear war leaves him the last person alive in a world full of books, he drops and breaks his glasses.
- "That's not fair. That's not fair at all. There was time now..."
- Brilliantly parodied in The Scary Door. He not only loses his glasses, but also his eyes, his hands and lastly his tongue and head, thanks to radiation.
- When Daniel from Stargate SG-1 is captured/kidnapped, he always wakes up without his glasses. In the later seasons, the writers apparently forgot that his sight was cured way back in the beginning of season 2.
Daniel: "Wow. That's... different."
- That was temporary, a side-effect of using the Sarcophagus.
- Although you would have thought ascension would have fixed it, or he would have contacts, or even a spare pair...
- He does have contacts. In the episode he infiltrates the Goauld Peace Conference, he's seen putting them in. That said, it's never actually said that he's Blind Without 'Em. In all likelihood, he has minor vision issues. The closest we get is after he de-ascended and put his old pair back on for the first time.
- It's also implied that Carter is Blind Without 'Em but this trope is averted as she wears contacts.
- Power Rangers Zeo once played this trope strictly by the book: Billy, whose glasses went away during the slight toning-down of his extreme stereotypical geek persona, has his contacts knocked out by visiting alien Cestro, who slapped him on the back a bit too hard. The robot Alpha promptly stepped on them while attempting to help search, and two worlds were put in jeopardy as essentially blind Billy couldn't finish the weapon he was working on.
- This happened a few times with Geordi LaForge of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but not to excessive frequency. His VISOR is apparently too durable to be subject to breaking, but Phlebotinum Breakdown has led to it becoming non-functional for an episode.
- Subverted in the final episode of Tenko where Blind Without 'Em Bea loses hers and is still able to identify The Mole based purely on tone of voice!
- Col. Potter and Radar of M*A*S*H drop their glasses at the same time. They pick them up right away, but when they put them on they immediately realize each picked up the other's glasses.
- In an episode in an earlier season, a comedically similar incident occurs not involving glasses. Col. Blake drops a temporary filling, which Major Burns then steps on and breaks, leaving the Colonel in agony every time he opens his mouth.
- A sketch in '80s British comedy show Not the Nine O'Clock News involves an intimidating bully who removes a studious-looking man's glasses and crushes them underfoot. "You shouldn't have done that", the bookworm tells him. "Oh yeah? Why not?" "Because you're not wearing any shoes." At which point a pained expression crosses the bully's face and he hobbles away, humiliated.
- On I Love Lucy, when Lucy & Ricky go to Hollywood, Lucy is boasting about all the movie stars she's meeting. When a friend from New York stops by, Lucy and Ethel hide her glasses so Lucy can impersonate (badly) a whole string of famous actors. The payoff comes when Lucy is disguised as Harpo Marx ... just as the real Harpo shows up.
- The Big Bang Theory: Leonard, Raj, and Howard hide out at a Planet of the Apes marathon, leaving Penny to deal with a sick Sheldon. Leonard drops his glasses. Hilarity ensues.
- Goosebumps: This happens to Brook in "Phantom of the Auditorium" when her and Zeke take an elevator underneath the stage. Zeke then proceeds to steal her glasses and run off.
- Inverted and subverted in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Your own character (Mario) accidentally crushes someone else's contact lens, but she can still see. She demands for you to get her a new one before you can continue saving the world.
- Part of a puzzle in Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge. Wally the cartographer is blind without his monocle, which you need to "borrow" to progress in the game. Until you bring him a replacement, Wally is seen frantically and blindly searching for the missing lens.
- Played for very hesitant laughs in The Evil Within where, after being knocked down by the Sentinel, Joseph drops his before Sebastian managed to defeat it and they escape. The monster out for his blood does not stop Seb from going back in and getting them, though.
Sebastian: Jeez, Joseph, all that for a pair of glasses...
- Used as a comedy routine in Kingdom Hearts III when Mike Wazowski pretends he's dropped a contact lens, the punchline being that his eye is so huge that a contact that size would be impossible to miss.
- A pair of crushed glasses found at the scene of a murder become important evidence in the first case of the second Ace Attorney game. And in another game in the series Godot is rendered temporarily blind when he loses his eye mask.
- Damsels Don't Wear Glasses. The thing about being a glasses-wearing Action Girl is that glasses can, and will, part from your face during fights.
- Used in El Goonish Shive to reveal that the character doesn't really need them.
- A notable subversion in Grrl Power where Sydney feigns this trope à la Velma to let her first opponent villain's guard down before hitting it where it matters.
Sydney: Hah! Trope subverted! No one is that blind you big pile of idiot!
- Sweden dropping his glasses starts off a comic from Scandinavia and the World. Sweden can't see without his glasses; Denmark can't see with them on; Norway watches.
- DuckTales (1987): In "Take Me Out of the Ballgame", while up at bat, Doofus' glasses fall off. The Beagle Brat back catcher steps on the lenses, smashing them. Doofus still goes on to hit a homerun and win the game.
- Velma from the Scooby-Doo cartoons was always losing hers at the worst possible times.
- Which was subsequently parodied in Johnny Bravo, in the Crossover episode "Bravo-Dooby-Doo", when Velma drops her glasses and Johnny drops his Cool Shades:
Velma: My glasses! I can't see without my glasses!
Johnny: (covering his face with his arm) My glasses! I can't be seen without my glasses!
- An episode of Mystery Incorporated subverts this by having Velma drop them, only for her to put them back on a few seconds later because they are within reach. And then she sees Nibiru...
- Which was subsequently parodied in Johnny Bravo, in the Crossover episode "Bravo-Dooby-Doo", when Velma drops her glasses and Johnny drops his Cool Shades:
- The Mr. Men Show: in one part of the episode "Eyeglasses," Miss Whoops, as a stewardess, accidentally loses her glasses when a pile of carry-on luggage falls on her. She attempts to carry on with her duties regardless, but since she's Blind Without 'Em, the usual ensues. At one point, Mr. Nervous gives her his own glasses, telling her she needs them more than he does. This doesn't help any, since they have different prescriptions.
- In a variant, Mighty Ray of Hero: 108 occasionally drops his removable eyeballs.
- Arthur once spent most of an episode looking for his glasses, not realizing that they were pushed up on his head.
- The Simpsons:
- Milhouse mistook a crab for a dog when he lost his glasses in episode "Summer of 4 foot 2".
- Elvis Costello panicked when his glasses came off in the episode "How I Spent My Strummer Vacation", not because of impaired vision, but because of...
Costello: My image!
- Moleman once drove a large truck which was towing a house. Then a bump knocked off his glasses.
Moleman: Oh dear... [BUMP]... now you've done it... [searches floor for glasses, truck goes off cliff and house explodes]
- Eliza drops her glasses pretty often on The Wild Thornberrys. It becomes rather bad when she's out exploring. Naturally, her eyesight is awful.
- This happens once to Phoebe on Hey Arnold! when she is hall monitor. We see students stepping on them as she frantically searches for them.
- In an episode of Dexter's Laboratory, Dee Dee steals Dexter's glasses and then drops them on the floor for everybody to step on, by the time he finds them the lenses are completely cracked.
- Jérémie Belpois in Code Lyoko will occasionally lose his glasses due to XANA's attack of the week.
- Transformers: Prime used this with Rafe on occasion. The main episode where this occurred technically downplayed it though; Rafe not being able to see well was a problem because they were in completely unfamiliar territory running from killer monsters so having him at risk for tripping was a hazard for all three kids.
- For most people, having your glasses off is just blurry, but not necessarily to the point they can't operate in general. While walking down the street a person without their glasses may not be able to read "stop" on a stop sign, but they can see the big, blurry red thing and can tell they're at an intersection, so the fact that it's a stop sign isn't much of a logical leap. The blurriness is just like an out-of-focus camera, only it's stereoscopic — some blurs are closer than others.
- That said, while you may be able to function to some extent without your glasses, actually finding the dropped glasses can be a real pain — your brain is constantly suggesting you put your glasses on to expedite the search. Glasses are thin, often dark-colored, and blend in with so many things. If they fall off your nightstand, they tend to fall in the narrow spot between the bed and the stand, making you fumble around for them in the dark (or dim light), while half awake. Many people who have very bad eyesight try to keep a spare or old pair in a drawer where they can be easily found to expedite finding their lost current pair of glasses.
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Keep your old pair of glasses somewhere you can always find them so when you do drop your glasses when you're at home, you can see clearly to find them. There is nothing more embarrassing/annoying than fumbling about and having your brain screaming "You'd find them better if you had your glasses on" at you.