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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.

Sub-trope of Facial Dialogue and The Take. Compare Aside Glance when directed at the fourth wall, Fascinating Eyebrow when directed at the characters in question, and Eye Pop or Wild Take 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 & Manga 
  • Black Clover: Asta has this reaction several times, but most notably when he meets the Anti-Magic Devil.
  • 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 JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, when Mariah looked like she somehow enlarged her boobs (it's not, she just stuffed her bra with bolts to react with her magnetism), Joseph's eyes start popping out wildly, once per breasts.
    Joseph: (on first 'breast expansion') Hmm!? (on the second) HmmmMmmmMmmmMmmm!?
  • Vinland Saga: Fox opens his eyes wide in shock, his face covered in sweat and snot dripping from his nose, when told that the small, 100 strong army Canute brought to seize Ketil's farm includes the Jomsvikings.
  • 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 
  • Used at the end of Be Prepared by Vera when her mother informs them they'll be moving out the US and to London, England.
  • Identity Crisis (2004): An absolutely haunting one, when Tim Drake 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 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: When Ami's minions don't believe that she's only a magical human instead of some demonic being, her eyebrows are focused on when describing her reaction to their disbelief:
    Ami's eyebrows shot up as everyone kept staring at her with bated breath. "What?" she asked into the silence, crossing her arms in front of her chest defensively.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: Let's just say if you tried playing a Drinking Game while reading this story in which you take a drink every time the words "eyes widened" or similar appeared, you would be knocked out cold.

    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.
  • Frozen (2013): During the song "Love is an Open Door," there's a split-second of hidden confusion on Prince Hans's face when Anna completes his line of "We finish each other's" with the word "sandwiches." He then backpedals and exclaims that's just what he was going to say, but for a split-second his facial expression seems to scream "What did she just say?" The expression shows that he is mimicking Anna's loopy personality so he can put himself further in line with his plan of conquering Arendelle through his faked romance with Anna.

    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.
  • In Clue, Wadsworth's eyes widen when Mr Boddy invites the other guests to kill him.
  • Clockwise: Pat's mother has two of these from her window: once when Pat and Brian kiss, and again when Pat goes off in the car with Brian and Laura.
  • 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?!"
  • Ghostbusters II: When the Ghostbusters are put on trial, Louis Tully, acting as their defense attorney, ends his opening statements with "But I don't blame them. Because one time, I turned into a dog and they helped me. Thank you.", leading Judge Haller to stare at him this way.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 - although that is because they're adapting Romeo + Juliet.
  • In the Loop features a positively epic Eye Take as Malcolm figures out a way to avert his impending Villainous Breakdown.
  • The Killing: George's reaction to his wife's 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.
  • A League of Their Own: When the Rockford Peaches gather for a pre-game prayer and pep talk prior to Game 7 of the World Series, Jimmy Dugan proceeds on a tangent thanking God for an apparent sexual encounter with a woman in South Bend. Evelyn is the one to give the eye take.
    Jimmy Dugan: And Lord, I just want to thank you for that waitress in South Bend. You know who she is, she kept shouting your name.
  • 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 Executioner's death in the extended cut of Superman: The Movie is shown with a POV shot of Krypton crumbling down in front of him and his reaction, which is the only time his eyes (or his face for that matter) are seen. He's previously seen briefing the Council of Elders about Jor-El's construction of the rocketship that would save Kal-El's life later.
  • The Three Stooges theatrical shorts were full of these, especially when other characters were confounded by the Stooges' antics.
  • Withnail and I has a positively heart-wrenching Eye Take, showing the precise moment where Withnail and Marwood's friendship breaks down forever:
  • Used at least twice in the second Asterix movie, Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra. Once by a pirate Redbeard and once by Criminalis.

  • Roald Dahl describes two examples of this.
    • Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator: When the Vermicious Knids are first seen in the Space Hotel, Mr Wonka is described as having his eyes stretched as large as two wheels.
    • Matilda: When Matilda claims to Miss Honey that she used her telekinesis to knock over a glass of water, Miss Honey does not really believe her, but asks her to do it again. When Matilda succeeds, Miss Honey's eyes stretch so wide that you can see the whites all round.

    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:
  • In an episode of The Drew Carey Show Lewis and Oswald are visiting a hospital and are told to make themselves useful by shaving a patient's stomach to prepare him for surgery. As they do so, they just talk causally before finding something small and spongy sitting on his stomach. It takes a few seconds before they realized they sliced off the patient's bellybutton while shaving him! Cut to the patient's roommate silently watching the whole thing while reading a self-help book on coping with fear, and his eyes are now as big as dinner plates!
  • 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.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): In the climax of the pilot, Louis de Pointe du Lac's eyes almost look like they're bulging out of their sockets because he's so shocked and horrified by the gruesome sight of Lestat de Lioncourt mangling Father Matthias while consuming the latter's blood.
  • Keeping Up Appearances: When Hyacinth is desperate not to be seen by her neighbour Mrs Barker-Finch, she climbs on to an open-backed lorry, which then drives off. After pounding on the roof of the cab to attract the driver's attention, she does a massive eye take when she sees Mrs Barker-Finch staring at her.
  • 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.
  • Sesame Street: In one of Sally Cruikshank's animated segments Beginning, Middle, and End, Seymour's neighbor Mrs. Bazini makes a rather disturbing one after seeing a pterodactyl next to her backyard.
  • 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.



Video Example(s):


Rasputin Dance

The Daleks and the Cybermen are just as taken aback by the Master's spontaneous dancing as anyone, silently staring at each other in confusion.

How well does it match the trope?

4.31 (26 votes)

Example of:

Main / GratuitousDiscoSequence

Media sources: