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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.

Subtrope of Facial Dialogue. Compare Aside Glance when directed at the fourth wall, Fascinating Eyebrow when directed at the characters in question, and Eye Pop for surprised cartoon characters' eyes. May make use of Eyedscreen as well as Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises. 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 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ultimate Marvel
    • Ultimate Spider-Man: Jameson's reaction when Urich wins the argument about the article on the creature of the sewer.
    • Ultimate X-Men: We see a close shot of Ross' eyes while he announces to Wraith that Weapon X will be closed.

    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 

    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.
  • In Braveheart, Robert the Bruce's eyes widen creepily when he sees Lochlan with a slit throat lying on his dinner table.
  • 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 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?)
  • Spider-Man: Peter Parker does one when he sees pro wrestler Bonesaw McGraw beating a wrestler.
  • 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.
  • The Three Stooges theatrical shorts were full of these, especially when other characters were confounded by the Stooges' antics.
  • Withnail & I has a positively heart-wrenching Eye Take, showing the precise moment where Withnail and Marwood's friendship breaks down forever:

    Live-Action TV 

By Creator:

By Series:

  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
  • Bones: Cam Saroyan does this a lot. It's all a part of being the Only Sane Employee
  • 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.
    • "Gridlock": 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 in "The Time of the Doctor" 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 Peter Capaldi.) He does a massive one at the end of "Dark Water" when Missy reveals who she is.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?")
  • 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.
  • Penn in Penn & Teller: Fool Us does one of the most epic eye takes of all time when contestant Shawn Farquhar, a Canadian magician, tells him that the trick that he pulled off did not involve any memory trick whatsoever (which was their guess). The boys ended up conceding and give him the FU trophy for fooling them a second time.
  • Star Trek: Picard: In "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2", for a couple of seconds, Narek's eyes almost look like they're about to pop out of their sockets because he's so frightened by Elnor and the latter's sword being so close to his neck.
    Elnor: Feldor stam torret. (Please, my friend, choose to live.)
    Narek: ("Oh, Crap!" face) I do. I very much choose to live.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • Yes, Minister: Sir Humphrey Appleby would do this when Jim Hacker introduced something that threatened his interests.

    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 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.
  • 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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