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Eye Lights Out

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Optimus was like a nightlight for children across the world.... one that just burned out. Again.

Whenever a being, mechanical, magical or meaty, has Glowing Eyes of Doom (or just glowing eyes, Doom Sold Separately) these will flicker and fade out whenever they die. Much like a candle guttering on the last of its wick, death can turn off the literal light in someone's eyes. If the being also has natural Power Crystals in their body (or as the eyes themselves), these too will fade out.

The standard justification for having glowing eyes in the first place is that these eyes are not detecting by ambient light, so the death of the owner also terminates whatever biological, mystical, or electronic process makes them light up. It probably has more to do with the Rule of Cool.

Speaking of, since most beings capable of lighting up their peepers aren't human, you can expect that if one is Not Quite Dead they won't just have their eyes open, but blaze brightly.


Related to No Ontological Inertia, and when objects that the person has linked to their Life Force (which also glows) fades out or breaks at their death. Glowing Mechanical Eyes are a prerequesite for the robotic version. Not at all related to By the Lights of Their Eyes. Nor when you See the Whites of Their Eyes. Compare Volcanic Veins, where the veins stop glowing once the character dies.

This is a death trope. Spoilers ahoy.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Both times Kuma dies in Afro Samurai (once in the first series, once in Resurrection), his one cyborg eye goes offline.
  • After Cell crushes Android #16's head in Dragon Ball Z, a piece of circuitry with a bright green light falls out, and slowly dims to black, signaling that he is irreparably dead.
  • In the One Piece anime, when a pacifista is destroyed by the Straw Hat Crew.
  • The 0 Gundam does this after it is impaled on Exia's GN Sword in the finale of Mobile Suit Gundam 00, complete with the entire mobile suit going limp before it explodes.
    • In the first season, the entire face mask on HOWARD MASOOOOOONNNNN's flag goes dark when it is turned into a pin cushion by the Throne Zwei's GN Fangs.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelions Unit 01. Its eyes tend go out when it runs out of power or the pilot's synchronization is interrupted by something. Although if the pilot's in sufficiently deep shit, its probably going to get right back up with the eyes lighting up again. Especially noticeable in End of Evangelion when Unit 01 simply turns off while hovering in mid-air to represent that Shinji hitting his Despair Event Horizon resulted in him losing his chance of fighting back for good.
    • Rebuild of Evangelion does it a little differently. When Unit 01 runs out of power, the green parts of its armor fade out along with the eye. Makes sense as the armor is the only part that actually requires power. Similarly, while the dummy plug-controlled Unit 01 is strangling Unit 03, Unit 03's eyes are shown flickering before Unit 01 breaks its neck with sheer strength. Right before Unit 01 punches Unit 03's head so hard it explodes, Unit 03's face is shown once again with the eye still flickering but much dimmer.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, whenever Alphonse's soul is "unconscious", or being pulled over to the Gate, his eye-lights go out.
  • Downplayed variation in Transformers Cybertron - a similar effect indicates unconsciousness in a Transformer (which is actually very serious in a series where visible armour damage and/or visible short circuits indicate significant damage, and many attacks are successful but have no visible effect).
  • In Pokémon, Staryu and Starmie's cores blink and stop glowing when they're KOed.

    Films — Animated 
  • Happens to giant alien robot in Monsters vs. Aliens.
  • Optimus Prime in the 1986 Transformers: The Movie. The authors must have had some bet on how many tropes they can fit into one death scene...
  • WALL•E's AUTO and EVE.
  • In the film version of The Last Unicorn, King Haggard at first sees a forest-scape in Lady Amalthea's eyes. After a while in her human form, this image fades to the normal human reflection, hinting at the death of the unicorn inside.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • Godzilla:
    • Kiryu's (AKA Mechagodzilla 3) eyes stop glowing in Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. after he sinks into the bottom of the ocean with Godzilla during a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Similarly in Godzilla (1998) when the mutant lizard is finally felled there is one last shot of its eye as it slowly dims and closes to the sound of falling rain.
    • In Godzilla (2014), when the male Muto dies, we get a close up on his eyes to emphasize with this trope that he is dead.
  • Happens to Marvin in the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Of course he's not really dead, but the first time you see it in the theater it's very dramatic, with a hint of "did that really happen?"
    • It happens to Marvin in the books too. Only later. And he really does die.
  • The Matrix. After Trinity removes the Agents' bug from Neo's body, it returns to its mini-robot form, which has a small red light. After she drops it out of the car, it falls to the ground and its red light goes out.
  • Spoofed in Scary Movie 3. A woman is hit by a car and ends with the engine block through her body. When she dies, the car's lights go out.
  • Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, C-3P0's eyes go out when he's blasted apart by the stormtrooper. Notably, after Chewbacca repairs Threepio, his lights were still out, and he complained about not being able to see. When Chewie fixes that, they come on again.
    • It happens again in Rogue One when K-2SO finally collapses after being blasted several dozen times by stormtroopers in the process of holding them off to protect Jyn and Cassian.
  • Terminator:
    • The Terminator: The sign that the Terminator is finally destroyed after it is crushed in a hydraulic press is its red eyes going out.
    • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, when the Terminator suffers its Disney Death we see a close-up of its exposed mechanical eye going out, but in its next scene, there's a faint, pulsing glow in the eye, as it reboots and activates its back-up power source. When it dies for real we see it from the point-of-view of said eyes as they shut off.
  • Several times in the Transformers Film Series. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in particular has a gut-wrenching repeat of Optimus' eyes fading out. We know he'll come back, but you can't help but feel your gut clench when Mecha Jesus dies protecting a human.
  • B.OB from The Black Hole, does a different version where the 'lid' of his Tin-Can Robot closes over his eyes. It might have been played straight originally, as the eyes were meant to be computer screen, but they couldn't get them to work during filming, so the robots had fake cartoon eyes attached, as if put there by the designers to make them look more personable.

  • Golems in Discworld have glowing eyes that go out when they're inactive.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In The Thrawn Trilogy, the glow in Grand Admiral Thrawn's eyes go out right after his F Inal Speech.
    • Subverted by Ton Phanan in the X-Wing Series. Even after he dies, his mechanical eye is still powered and glows redly, and Face finds himself wondering what it's seeing.
  • When Ba'alzamon in The Wheel of Time dies, the flames that constantly come out of his eyes (and mouth) go out... leaving burnt out sockets (and mouth) behind.
  • The short story Ieia features a deity trapped in a statue, with glowing amber eyes as the only sign of life. The statue's owner, who doesn't believe in the supernatural, thinks she's imagining the glow. When the deity proves its existence in the course of committing a Heroic Sacrifice, the owner is so overcome with reverence that she barely notices the eyes have gone dim.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Centurions in Battlestar Galactica too, for that matter. Not only do they have the Cyber Cyclops roaming red eye, but it goes out when the 'bot is destroyed.
  • A slight variation in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Data and his identical brother Lore have amber irises. In Lore's final episode when Data deactivates him for good his pupils shrink until they disappear, leaving his eyes blank and sightless.
  • Callister in Eureka.
  • A similar thing happens with the Goa'uld in Stargate SG-1. Since their eyes aren't always glowing, and only do so when they choose, they don't fade when they die like in most cases of this trope. Instead, the eyes flash once and then fade before they die, accompanied by the special Goa'uld eye-flash sound effect.
    • There's a particularly good example of this in "Double Jeopardy", when Teal'C's robot duplicate shoots Cronus in the back several times with a staff weapon - his eyes flash in time with the energy blasts hitting them, then light up one last time and slowly fade as he expires.
    • The genetically-engineered Goa'uld Kull Warriors wear full-body armor, including helmets with blue lights over the eyes. When the warrior dies, the lights fade out. (The armor seems to sense the brain activity of the wearer, to know when they want to fire their weapons or when they die.)
  • Happens to the robot in the pilot episode of The Tick (2001) immediately before he says "Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress".
  • Ultra Series
    • Many of the series' kaiju have their eyes go dark after being defeated, sometimes with their eyes shutting, sometimes without.
    • Jirass, after Ultraman kills him with a punch to the gut. He falls to the floor after bleeding profusely from the mouth, and then his eyes dim.
    • Ultraman after Zetton defeated him. In fact, as he begun to pass out, his eyes actually flashed in tune with the blinking of his colour timer, then went out simultaneously when his colour timer stopped blinking.
    • Ultraseven after his crucifixion at the hands of the Guts aliens.
    • Ultraman Jack after Alien Knackle crucified him.
    • Ultraman Ace after he gets tag-teamed by Doragory and Metron Jr.
  • In the Supernatural episode "What Is And What Should Never Be", the djinn's glowing blue eyes fade before he collapses dead.
    • In a variation in "All Hell Breaks Loose Part Two", when the Yellow-Eyed Demon is killed the yellow fades from his hosts eyes, leaving the normal eyes of his dead host.
  • Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger The Movie: Volger's eye lights go out when he's defeated... then he gets back up.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • All the R-Y model robots in Chrono Trigger (including party member Robo) have this happen to them.
  • A variation in the intro of Dawn of War II, the eye lenses of a space marine's Power Armor fade as he dies.
  • In Planescape: Torment, if Nordom (the modron) dies, the eyes of his portrait go black.
  • In Final Fantasy XI, Dynamis Statues have glowing eyes which not only fade when destroyed, but may restore HP or MP to everyone depending on the color (Blue for HP, Green for MP, while Red eyes do nothing).
  • Raiden's visor does this in Metal Gear Solid 4. But it later turns out he's Not Quite Dead.
  • Happens to each of the Colossi in Shadow of the Colossus.
  • The Big Daddies in BioShock exhibit this.
  • Arthas/The Lich King does this in World of Warcraft. Promptly followed by various other signs such as rolling eyes, going limp/his arm releasing its grip on his father's ghost and eyes rolling back into his skull. Although in this case, the reason the eyes stop glowing is presumably because Ner'zhul is no longer possessing him. The glow stopping and death aren't directly connected.
  • The Draenei race, who have glowing blue eyes, instantly fade with an audible hum the moment they die.
  • Castlevania
  • The protagonist of Limbo upon death.
  • In Mass Effect 2, shortly before the Collector General's death, the light in its eyes go out as Harbinger releases control.
    • In the first game, if you pay careful attention to geth corpses (that weren't incinerated, frozen, melted, or turned into clouds of ionized gas) you'll find that after about ten seconds, their flashbulb heads begin to dim and eventually go out. It also happens to Saren, showing just how far he's been implanted with Reaper tech. Shortly afterwards the eyes light back up as Sovereign takes control of his corpse.
    • Geth eyelights don't seem to switch off automatically. In Mass Effect 3 Legion's lights continue to glow when he's dead, at least while the camera is on him. The sinister red glow of a Reaper's firing chamber does go out, though.
  • In Metroid Prime, Space Pirates' eyes appear to be on fire; when killed, they go out. This is most noticable when the Omega Pirate is killed, and falls on you.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer, Myrkul's eyes go out if his spirit is devoured by the player or a certain companion.
  • Used for symbolic effect in Undertale. While Sans's eye lights going out doesn't signify his literal death, it does accompany the moments where, as some players have put it, "Sans stops being Sans."
    • Also used when Mettaton's power runs out at the end of his fight. Alphys even sort of mentions it, stating "...Thank GOD, it's just the batteries."
  • In Warcraft III, after Grom kills Mannoroth, he collapses, and his red eyes stop glowing.
  • In the intro for Mortal Kombat: Deception, Quan Chi and Shang Tsung "defeat" Raiden, whose eyes lose their glow shortly afterwards. He recovers soon after in time to take on the new Big Bad, Onaga.
  • In Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire, the automaton Yunapotli is invulnerable ... until his power source is destroyed. The cutscene shows him fallen to his knees with his glowing eyes fading out.
  • Tyranny: Bleden Mark's eyes stop glowing as he dies, as his entire body disintegrates into shadows.
  • In Overwatch's 'Honor and Glory', which covers Reinhardt's backstory. Near the end, Balderich von Alder, Reinhardt's fellow Crusader and mentor, stays behind to hold off the oncoming Omnic horde, having sustained a lethal injury earlier. Unlike many instances of this trope playing out, Balderich actually wins his last encounter, destroying every pursuing omnic before collapsing on a throne, with the eye-lights on his helmet slowly fading and turning black.
  • In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the Big Bad Ensemble's cores fade away as they're dying.
  • Cayde-6 in Destiny 2: Forsaken.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • This is actually more Truth in Television than people realise, there are species of animal (such as pink-eyed Guinea Pigs) whose eyes really do fade to a dull brown the moment they die.
  • A few humanoid robots have glowing eyes which obviously shut down when being inactive or broken.
  • In BattleBots's 2018 competition, Kraken has a pair of eyes with bright lights within them. Appropriately, when it suffered a mechanical failure in its debut battle, the lights started to flicker and dim, then went out completely as the referee did the knockout countdown.

Alternative Title(s): Eyes Out, Lights Off Their Eyes


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