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Eye Take

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The non-verbal Big "WHAT?!"

"In front of him just above the camera was a huge clock which, as the minutes passed and guests turned boring, he tended to stare at, waiting to be released from his role. One performance, when he wasn't looking, a member of the crew pushed back the hands of the clock fifteen minutes. Carson's momentary look of despair when he saw the clock got a laugh even though the audience had no idea why."
Gore Vidal on Johnny Carson, Point to Point Navigation

Occurs in a Reaction Shot. The character reacting to the outrageous whatever says nothing, but their eyes widen in a "these people are crazy" kind of way.

Compare Aside Glance when directed at the fourth wall, Fascinating Eyebrow when directed at the characters in question and Eye Pop for surprised cartoon character's eyes. May make use of Eyedscreen. Could be considered a subtrope of Facial Dialogue. Sometimes related to Oh, Crap!. No relation to Eye Scream.



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  • One of the commercials for the Staples office supply chain features a surgeon preparing to operate a patient. Instead of getting to work, he mashes one of Staples' "That was easy!" buttons and walks out. His assistant looks down at the patent's open body cavity and does this take, implying that whatever was wrong in the patient fixed itself.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Fushigi Yuugi features a lot of these.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! contains quite a few of these.
  • Serial Experiments Lain: Quite a bit of the Reaction Shots are like this.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • Shinji does one in Episode 8 when Asuka sleepwalks and lies down next to him, placing her cleavage a couple of inches from his face.
    • He also does a less comedic one in Episode 16, when Rei drops a Wham Line by repeating a line he just recently recalled his mother saying to him in a half-forgotten memory.
  • In The Voynich Hotel, Taizou does an epic one when the maid Elena, who has a huge crush on him, comes out to meet him for their date wearing a shirt that says something shockingly lewd.

    Comic Books 
  • Identity Crisis: An absolutely haunting one, when Tim discovers his father's body; Bruce, still dressed as Batman, hugs Tim tightly, and all we see of Tim's face is one eye, wide and wild with grief, flooded with tears, staring back at the reader.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: Jameson's reaction when Urich wins the argument about the article on the creature of the sewer.
  • Optimus Prime pulls a good one in The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye, when Megatron changes his plea. Of course, Optimus is famous for his faceplate, so there weren't many other ways to convey his bewilderment.
    Optimus: [bug-eyes] You're pleading not guilty. You are pleading not guilty.

    Comic Strips 
  • This is the third-greatest standby of political cartoons, next to illuminating the topic with convenient newspapers and labeling every available surface whether it needs it or not. Strawman Political will give a proposal while an average Joe or a member of the affected group (e.g. a child for school policy) looks on in goggle-eyed horror.
  • Happens a lot in FoxTrot.
  • A standard element in Shoe. If there are two characters in the final panel, the one who isn't saying the punchline will frequently react with this trope.
  • It's a minor Running Gag in Bloom County that Opus will sometimes react with his eyes bugging about a yard out of their sockets and then snapping back into place in high cartoon fashion... after which Opus will grip his face and go "Ow!"

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Alpha and Omega: Eve's tends to get this reaction. Not so much the fact she's threatening someone with death, it's she does it with a happy, cheery voice. The third time, however, she's totally serious and everyone takes her as such.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games: It's very quick and rather small, but in one of the portals leading to Equestria, background pony Shoeshine has a wide-eyed reaction straight toward the audience upon seeing an opening in the fabric of reality.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Batman (1989): Jack Napier does this in shock when he finds out that all of the information at Axis Chemicals he was sent to obtain had been destroyed. He then declares that he was set up.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks does this from time to time. One example is early in the film when Mrs. Davis greets her with an apparent non sequitur.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Elijah Wood seems to have made a career out of this.
  • Withnail & I has a positively heart-wrenching Eye Take, showing the precise moment where Withnail and Marwood's friendship breaks down forever:
  • GoldenEye: General Ourumov gets one of these after witnessing Xenia gunning down the staff of the Severnaya bunker and having a bit too much fun in the process.
  • Hot Fuzz: Nick Angel's reaction to the town's version of Romeo and Juliet, specifically the upbeat song and dance number following Juliet's suicide.
  • In the Loop features a positively epic Eye Take as Malcolm figures out a way to avert his impending Villainous Breakdown.
  • The Three Stooges theatrical shorts were full of these, especially when other characters were confounded by the Stooges' antics.
  • Spider-Man: Peter Parker does one when he sees pro wrestler Bonesaw McGraw beating a wrestler.
  • The Producers: The reaction shot of the audience after the opening number of Springtime for Hitler. (They paid to see a Broadway musical titled Springtime for Hitler! What did they expect?)
  • The Killing: George's reaction to his wife cheery claim that she was raped by the crew leader, which successfully made George confirm to her that it was the day of the robbery.
  • In Braveheart, Robert the Bruce's eyes widen creepily when he sees Lochlan with a slit throat lying on his dinner table.
  • The Devil and Miss Jones has Mary Jones' Eye Take of her realizing that Thomas Higgins is actually a detective.
  • In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, when Harry and Ron are flying the car and wondering where the train is, the one that notices the train first is Harry's owl, Hedwig, and this is her reaction. The boys instead have a minor freak out.
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture: Probe!Ilia reacts this way when Kirk refuses to tell her why the Creator V'Ger has been seeking is not responding to it. Probe!Ilia cannot comprehend why the "carbon units" would withhold such vital information, and her Eye Takes correspond with V'Ger lashing out at the Enterprise.
  • In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt Scamander does a hilarious one upon discovering his niffler posing as a mannequin inside a jewelry store. You can practically hear him thinking "really?!"

    Live-Action TV 
  • Friends:
    • Joey has one when he finds out that Chandler and Monica are together.
    • Phoebe does a big one when told that Santa Claus isn't real.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks does this from time to time.
  • Newsradio: Often demonstrated by Dave Foley's character.
  • The X-Files: Gillian Anderson's eyebrows got a regular workout.
  • The Office: Jim Halpert (as played by John Krasinski) has elevated this into an art form on the U.S. version, as did his counterpart, Tim Canterbury in the original.
  • Hugh Laurie could be king of this trope. He basically eats the scenery with his eyes:
    • Bertie from Jeeves and Wooster
    • Doctors are meant to be unshockable, but House still finds plenty of excuses to be at the centre of an Eye Take.
  • Alias Smith and Jones has a nice example of an Eye Take in the pilot film, when Wheat Carlson encounters Heyes in the last place he ever expected.
  • The Thick of It: Peter Capaldi is a sufferer of ocular Chewing the Scenery. His character Malcolm Tucker gets several Eye Takes per episode, but the longest is probably the one of his eyes scanning the headline "MALCOLM TUCKER RESIGNS".
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
  • Eddie.Cantor. Rumor has it that he used stunt eyes.
  • The Apprentice (UK): Nick and Margaret make fantastic use of Eye Takes, along with Aside Glances, Fascinating Eyebrows and Deadpan Snarks, to punctuate the more... questionable antics of the contestants.
  • The X Factor is punctuated with Eye Takes. Most of Simon Cowell's expressions say more than words ever could. In this clip Simon didn't even need to describe "the worst guitar solo I have ever heard in my life" as his eyes did it for him.
  • Nathan Barley was known for its liberal use of reaction shots.
  • Lost: In one hilarious scene, this is Ben's only reaction when Hurley attacks him... with a hot pocket.
    Ben: Hello Hugo.
    Hugo: AAAHHH! (hurls hot pocket at him)
    (Ben's eyes go "...did that just happen?")
  • Bones: Cam Saroyan does this a lot. It's all a part of being the Only Sane Employee...
  • Yes, Minister: Sir Humphrey Appleby would do this when Jim Hacker introduced something that threatened his interests.
  • In Babylon 5, Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari announces in council that under his people's new laws for the recently conquered Narn, the penalty for the murder of any Centauri by any Narn will be the execution of 500 Narns. The pak'ma'ra Ambassador features in an Eye Take, managing to pull off the look of shock despite the pak'ma'ra being Cthulhumanoid.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Fourth Doctor has really striking eyes and a tendency towards Comical Overreacting, so he does this almost constantly, usually getting a really big one as the lead-in to the Cliffhanger.
      • In "Robot", he goes over to a mirror to see his new face for the first time. His reaction is several seconds of boggle-eyed despair.
      • Also In "Robot", there's a scene where he scrutinises grass with a jeweller's lens wedged in his eye socket. When he's finished explaining to the Brigadier what his observations are, he takes the lens out without using his hands by bulging his eyes out so it drops into his hand.
      • For just one example, the five minute scene where he philosophises with Davros in "Genesis of the Daleks" contains two facial shots of him boggling with his eyes practically out on stalks, one after Davros tells him that he would wipe out every living thing in the universe if he could and the other just before grabbing his hand and torturing him into ordering the destruction of the Daleks. This is considered to be a relatively subtle and dark scene.
      • One cliffhanger (from "The Deadly Assassin") gives us this.
    • The Tenth Doctor does this when the Face of Boe tells him "You Are Not Alone".
    • Clara Oswald does this quite often when she's surprised or scared. She does a particularly distinct eye take after watching the Eleventh Doctor regenerate. Lampshaded in "Dark Water", when the Doctor complains about it - "How do you do that with your eyes? It's like they inflate."
    • The Twelfth Doctor does this from time to time. (Then again, he is played by the aforementioned Peter Capaldi.) He does a massive one at the end of "Dark Water" when Missy reveals who she is.
  • The Late Show with David Letterman: One edition of "Stupid Human Tricks" included a woman who could pop her eyeballs out of the sockets. She later had a brief career in commercials reacting to surprising things by popping her eyes.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • "The Franchise" Shane Douglas.
    • In Fall 1997, "Ravishing" Rick Rude had been acting as an adviser to ECW World Heavyweight Champion Shane Douglas, specifically picking Douglas' challengers for him.note  On the October 24, (taped October 16), 1997 episode of ECW Hardcore TV, Rude told Douglas that he had found him an opponent who had run roughshod over the WWF, over WCW, Japan and everywhere else that he had been. Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle" hit, bringing out Douglas' Triple Threat stablemate "The Beast from the East" Bam Bam Bigelow, revealing that Rude had double-crossed Douglas. When the music hit, Douglas had a true Eye Take. Bigelow won the title, his only singles World Title, that night.
    • Douglas called out Goldberg on the September 4, 2000 WCW Monday Nitro. As soon as Goldberg's music hit, Shane's eyes popped in a true Oh, Crap!/My God, What Have I Done? moment. Shane recruited the Natural Born Thrillers (Shawn Stasiak, Chuck Palumbo, Mike Sanders, Mark Jindrak, Sean O'Haire, Reno [Rick Cornell] and Johnny the Bull [John "Johnny Stamboli"/"Rellik" Hugger] doing a weak Ur-Example of what The Nexus would be ten years later) to help him, and, even with 8 GUYS against him, Goldberg was still able to win the match.
  • Daffney Unger was supposed to be the crazy one but the WCW camera crew ended up focusing a lot more on Crowbar's spontaneous bouts of wide-eyed happiness.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Transformers Animated: Done memorably in the premiere, when Optimus Prime learns where little organics come from.
  • Total Drama Island:
    • Characters tend to this in response to Chris mentioning something particularly dangerous about a challenge.
    • During the Aftermath segments of Total Drama Action after a particularly odd or unexpected moment (Eg- when a clip shows Trent sobbing hysterically and singing depressing heartbreak songs backstage) the camera would pan over to Noah and Cody either exchanging, '...Did we just see that?' glances or doing Eye Takes.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Spike at Your Service", Rainbow Dash makes a throwaway comment about Applejack's unfinished novel. As Rainbow continues talking about her own novel, Applejack's eyes are clearly saying "How does she know about that?!"
  • Steven Universe
    • Peridot gets the most of this trope. The animators seem to have a lot of fun with her weird and over-the-top facial expressions, and bulging eyes are usually one of her features. This mostly applies in later episodes, as she suffers quite a bit of Sanity Slippage, for a multitude of reasons.
    • Steven, Pearl, and Amethyst do this in the episode "Coach Steven" after Garnet tells Amethyst to fuse with her. Steven and Amethyst bulge their eyes in utter joy and Pearl in complete shock.
    • In the non-canon crossover episode "Say Uncle", the Gems get trapped in a plot hole made by Uncle Grandpa. Garnet and Amethyst are relatively calm, but Pearl completely loses it, complete with bulging eyes and flailing arms.
    • In "Cry For Help", Pearl's eyes grow significantly as Garnet asks her to fuse with her. The camera cuts away from her briefly, and when it cuts back, she's openly sobbing with joy.
      Garnet: Don't cry, Pearl.
    • In the episode "Message Received", we get a Gross-Up Close-Up of Yellow Diamond's shocked/furious face after Peridot insults her. Fans were VERY amused by this face, as it became a meme within hours of the episode airing.
  • We Bare Bears: Eye-takes are frequently done by the otherwise-inexpressive Ice Bear.
  • This happens ,at least, several times in Zootopia. two special mentions goes to a young Judy Hopps at the beginning of the film, with a few Blink and Miss Eye Pop shots, and Bellwether, who while having a {[Oh, Crap! shocked look on her face}}, starts running away... only to be instantly halted by the Zootopian Police Department.
  • Used as both a Blink and Miss Visual Gag, that accompanies {[Zany Cartoon]}-style Running Gag moments in Pete the Cat.


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