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Empty Eyes

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"Ever look into his eyes? There's nothing there."
Angel, "Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been"

Lack of pupils, and customary light reflection; iris shading goes from the usual radial to gradient; eyelids drop. Yep, this character is suffering from the "Empty Eyes" trope, a condition denoting that the character is dying, dead, distracted, shocked, traumatized, mind-controlled, broken, in a state of Tranquil Fury, completely insane, or some combination of the above.

Due to the condition of shock causing the eyes to dilate, realistic live action will never have this unless the producers don't know better. Could be way to show someone is so shocked they haven't blinked for a while, because the tears that accumulate would make the eyes more reflective and the pupils harder to see. Pushed for effect in Break the Cutie scenarios.

Sister trope of Prophet Eyes, and the two may coincide as repeated trauma could give someone a Disability Superpower.

Subtrope of Reflectionless Useless Eyes. Compare Dull Eyes of Unhappiness, Thousand-Yard Stare, Mind-Control Eyes, Heroic BSoD and Angst Coma.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • After the climax of Sailor Moon S, Usagi emerges from her battle against Pharaoh 90 with blank, horrified eyes.
  • Azumanga Daioh: Sometimes invoked by Sakaki, particularly when she's either daydreaming, or when she's suffering from Cuteness Overload.
  • In Juuni Senshi Bakuretsu Eto Ranger, Hols' Super Mode has blank, angry eyes, indicating that after seeing red, no amount of looking at anything else can stop him.
  • In Assassination Classroom Karma alone in class E lacks eyeshine in his design. Coupled with them being drawn a bit wider, it makes him look a little unhinged compared to the others. Given that a lot of his attitude is from being let down horribly by a teacher he once respected, there's definitely a sign of being broken there.
    • This may also be due to his psychopathic and manipulative behavior, since his eyes apparently have always lacked the shine. But that doesn't erase the fact that the incident about how his teacher betrayed him in favor for maintaining images instead of doing the right thing destroyed Karma.
    • Both Asanos have this as well.
  • Happens to Takiko in Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden, after Genbu devours her soul.
  • In Heat Guy J, this is how Clair is first introduced at his dad's funeral, before he throws a grenade at his father's grave. It happens to him later in the series, when he goes into an Angst Coma, and when he comes out of the coma to rescue his bodyguard/friend Giovanni from the titular J.
  • Death Note: Happens with Kiyomi Takada and Naomi Misora under the influence of the Death Note; arguably a case of Mind-Control Eyes, as well.
  • Sengoku Youko: Senya is drawn with pupil-less irises that resemble black scribbles, and prior to his Heel–Face Turn he was stated to have eyes devoid of everything except murderous intent.
  • Kishou Arima from Tokyo Ghoul, which combined with his Scary Shiny Glasses, makes him look quite intimidating. This detail turns out to be significant, as it hints towards him being partially blind and a Death Seeker.
  • In Kemono Friends, empty eyes are used to represent Friends born from endangered or extinct animal species like Crested Ibis.
  • Naruto: When Sasuke Uchiha impales Karin in order to kill Danzo, the iris of his right eye is shown as being filled with black scribbles to show how far he's succumbed to the Uchiha Clan's Curse of Hatred.
  • In Skip Beat!, Kyoko gets these more and more as the message of her mother mentioning on TV that she has no children settles in.
  • The Mermaid Princess's Guilty Meal: As the mermaid princess Ela's addiction to seafood worsens, she's drawn with solid black irises both when despairing over her growing desire to eat her friends and when she lets her Killing Intent come to the surface.
  • My Girlfriend Gives Me Goosebumps!: Both Haruka and Kisaki are often drawn with black iris, to represent how bored (Haruka) or obsessive (Kisaki) they are. In both cases, those empty eyes are what push them to enter in a relationship with the other.

    Comic Books 
  • Note that empty eyes can also merely mean that the artist was too lazy. A prominent example (got even a Take That! on that behalf in a satiric comic) is Little Orphan Annie.
  • Used to imply mind control in Heart of Empire, or the Legacy of Luther Arkwright.
  • Robin (1993): Lady Shiva stops Robin from going after Clyde Rawlins when he goes to what Tim knows it the man's certain death by pointing out that a look in his eyes should tell Tim that regardless of physical health Rawlins died with his family and there's no way to stop him going after their murderer even if he has no chance at avenging them or survival.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): When Artemis dies, her jade green eyes go flat, losing all highlights and shading, to indicate that she is really gone.

    Fan Works 
  • Italy temporarily gained the traumatized type in Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità. After Germany pulled out a Browning Hi Power on Japan and Japan pulled out his katana on Germany, Italy had had enough of their cock fight.
    It only took one look at the utterly devastated form of their precious beloved, one look at normally limpid brown eyes dead with misery and grief to do all three to those two nations. Simultaneously. And then some.
  • A Moth to a Flame: Marcy gains these after coming out of the Healing Vat, symbolizing her complete Innocence Lost after Gaining the Will to Kill.
  • The Sacred and the Profane: The eyes of the Fallen Angel Zirah, aka Mr. Rah, are as bright, blue, and depthlessly empty as the sky. He's the sort of being who honestly does not understand why one shouldn't kill a baby simply because it's the most expedient way to stop it from crying.
    You couldn't have eyes like Mr. Rah's and not have something lurking underneath the surface. It wasn't that there was anger or hatred or suppressed violence in their blue depths. That was the point. There wasn't anything in Mr. Rah's eyes.
    It was creepy.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This is what happens to anyone who befell the titular curse in Bloody Parrot, notably on the hero's Hooker with a Heart of Gold girlfriend. It's depicted on the film's poster, too.
  • In the original 1975 version of The Stepford Wives, Joanna's robot double has empty black eyes when she's first seen.
  • Jaws had Quint's memorable quote about how a shark's eyes look like a doll's eyes - cold and empty.
  • Halloween (1978) had Dr. Loomis describe Michael as having "the blackest eyes. The Devil's eyes." This was back when he was a little boy having just murdered his sister, and he would only get worse from there.

  • In A Wrinkle in Time, Charles Wallace's eyes turn completely blue, with no pupil or iris.
  • The Hunger Games: Effie Trinket. Katniss notes how Effie has a "vacant look" in her eyes in Mockingjay due to the torture she suffered while being held prisoner by the Capitol.
  • In all A Certain Magical Index media except for the anime adaptation of A Certain Scientific Railgun, the Sisters (Hive Mind clones of Misaka Mikoto with dulled emotions) are drawn with Empty Eyes to distinguish them from the original. The exception is Last Order, a "network administrator" Sister who is already easy to distinguish from Mikoto by virtue of being a Token Mini-Moe Genki Girl.
  • Shimoneta: Exhibited by Oboro in chapter 10. Tanukichi mistakes Oboro for a member of Gathered Fabric and wrestles him to the floor, which is when Tanukichi realizes something is "off" and uses his foot to confirm his suspicions. The inspection causes Oboro to silently arch his back as he experiences his first orgasm. After which, he's seen smiling with a faint blush.
  • In Fate/Zero, both the protagonist Kiritsugu Emiya and the antagonist Kirei Kotomine constantly have empty eyes.
  • The Last Unicorn:
    King Haggard: (to Amalthea) Your eyes! Your eyes have become empty as Lir's, as any eyes that... never saw unicorns.
  • Wights, the main antagonists of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, can only be differentiated from Peculiars and normals by their lack of pupils. Granted, there are plenty of ways for them to hide this.

  • Evanescence's song, "Exodus", mentions in the last verse "so much more dismay in empty eyes".
  • The track "Riding Tigers" on Desperate Straights by Slapp Happy goes "An empty gaze/Sitting like that for days."

  • Karzahni and Tren Krom were described as having these in certain BIONICLE media, though the former was illustrated with bright yellow eyes and later released as a toy with red eyes, and the latter was also given glowing eyes because of the writer misremembering.
  • "Beast Changer" (Savage/Noble) from the Beast Machines line had literally empty eyes in his Noble mode. Some think that this was a deliberate decision,note  others say that the toy was simply released incomplete — at any rate, Noble had normal eyes in the TV series.

    Video Games 
  • Gadget Trial: The titular trial is pitting two families of E-Series cyborg girl soldiers against each other to see which is better. Contrasting the protagonist White family, are the E-Series Black who are programmed for perfect obedience, lack of character and minimal self-awareness. Gleamless eyes and stiff expressions come with it.
  • Dark Arle in Puyo Puyo 7 has these, when under control of Ecolo.
  • Touhou Project:
  • Yandere Simulator: One of the signs that Ayano has become "visibly insane" is that her eyes go blank. This is fitting, because her true nature is that she's close to emotionless, with what emotions she does have reserved for love for her Senpai and hatred for her rivals. Word of God says that being visibly insane is less her actually going crazy (since she already is), but more her insanity becoming more apparent to onlookers. So, it's only fitting that her eyes go blank when this happens.
    • Ayano can also torture someone into becoming an Empty Shell. Once the process is over, they'll have these.
    • Shiromi also has these. In her case, it's to show how odd she is, and not linked to craziness.
  • The Elder Scrolls

    Visual Novels 

  • Ava's Demon: Implied regarding Odin's sociopathic brother Olai. He's drawn with ordinary pupils, but...
    Odin: Olai... d-doesn't care about anyone but himself. M-my mother once s-said... he's missing the window to his soul. Wh-when you look into his eyes, it's like he's looking r-right through you... like you're n-not really there.
  • The page image is Michael Kappel of Collar 6, deep in the midst of a Heroic BSoD after his parents were killed by Unfriendly Fire.
  • In Genocide Man, all of the Genocide Men have cold, dead stares (represented in the art by blank white eyes) due to the lifetime of horrors they've each seen and committed. One character actually thought the eyes were cybernetic, because she didn't believe that human eyes could look like that.
    Caera: What about the eyes? All your Genocide Men... your eyes are so cold and dead. As if you've lost your souls.
    Kevin: ...the procedure doesn't affect the eyes.
  • Characters in Homestuck who are dead gain completely blank eyes if they are seen in Dream Bubbles afterward. It doesn't affect their personality or eyesight, though. Andrew Hussie's Author Avatar also had empty eyes even before his in-comic death. Whether that is significant or not remains to be seen.
  • In Questionable Content, Hannelore's eyes go flat when she is avoiding engaging with a police officer.
  • Tapiseri Soujourn: While burning down the village, Caleb has empty, crazed eyes.

    Web Original 
  • Dino Attack RPG:
    • Most Mutant Dinos and Quasifigus Hybrids have blank white eyes.
    • After being attacked by a Mutant Raptor, Greybeard's scarred eye appears washed-out in color in comparison to his other eye. He was also nearly blind in that eye.
    • When Rex's body was possessed by Baron Typhonus, his eyes turned blank white.
  • In Alice Isn't Dead, the eyes of the narrator's soon-to-be stalker The Thistle Man are described as "...flat. Like a bad painting of a face," shortly before he deliberately reveals himself as a Humanoid Abomination.

     Western Animation