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Eyepiece Prank

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Is that... ketchup?

This is a stock practical joke. The victim is asked to look into a kaleidoscope, binoculars or similar item. The eyepiece end has been coated with something that leaves rings around the eyes when the item is pressed to the face.


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  • Not an eyepiece, but basically the same prank is pulled by a wheel of cheese in a Cheez-It commercial, using the rim of a mug instead of an eyepiece. See it here.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Little Lulu:
    • In Episode 6, Lulu is looking through a pair of binoculars while she and the others are looking for fires to fight (long story). When she removes them, she ends up with black rings around her eyes, as the others start yukking it up about it.
    • In Episode 12, Lulu attempts to do this to the mean butler, but unfortunately for her, he is wise to the trick, so he sticks the binoculars on Lulu's face, causing this to happen to her a second time.

    Comic Books 
  • The 63rd issue of Preacher has Herr Starr look through a pair of binoculars and end up with black rings around his eyes, completely unaware of why his associate Featherstone is staring at him awkwardly and why his other associate Hoover is laughing his head off.

    Comic Strips 
  • Used in The Far Side with professional astronomers pulling this prank on each other at work.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Class has a variation on this. Jonathan is at a bar when a good-looking woman goes up to him and says she wants to test his "aura". She tells him to roll a quarter down his nose and around his face. Naturally, the rim of the quarter is covered in ink.
  • Mahoney pulls it on Captain Harris in Police Academy. Not on a eyepiece, though, but on a megaphone, thus leaving a dark mark around the captain's mouth.
  • Stakeout: Part of the practical joke rivalry between Chris and Bill, two cops manning a stakeout at night, and the two day shift stakeout cops, involves the day shift cops doing the old ink-on-the-eyepiece prank. Bill falls victim.

  • Arthur: Arthur does this to Binky in "Arthur's April Fools." He was afraid most of the book that Binky would pull a prank on him, and ended up turning the tables at the end. He told Binky to go home and look through the paper tube at the mirror to decode a written message—that said 'April fool's'.
  • In the Harry Potter series, Fred and George invent a joke telescope that gives someone a black eye when they attempt to use it, and the only way to clear it is with their antidote. Hermione grabs it absentmindedly once and it still punches her, even though she wasn't looking through it.
    • And Peeves the Hogwarts poltergeist planned on doing this prank in the previous book for all the telescopes in the astronomy tower.

    Live-Action TV 
  • CSI: NY:
    • In one episode, Danny & Flack go to interview some guys at a frat house. The only one sober enough to talk has a severe case of Face Doodling: glasses and a goatee drawn on and the word "TOOL" written on his forehead in black marker.
    • In season 9, Lindsay gets one of these from her husband, in a prank meant for Adam, the lab tech. She wears glasses the rest of the episode to hide it and spends most of it trying to determine the prankster. She tells Danny she'll find a way to get him back for it.
  • M*A*S*H episode "The Joker Is Wild." During a series of practical jokes perpetrated by Captain Hunnicut, Colonel Potter gets "Ring Around the Eyes" when he looks through a pair of binoculars.
  • Hank Zipzer: In "Operation: Prank Adolf," Rosa is attempting to teach Emily to enjoy April Fool's pranks, and basically forces Emily to look through the eyepiece of a telescope, despite the fact that Emily already knows it has boot polish on it.
  • Roseanne: Darlene did this to catch DJ spying on the neighbor, Molly. It doesn't go as planned though when DJ comes downstairs with no marks on his eye. Then David comes downstairs...note 
  • Impractical Jokers: The other Jokers tried this on Murr with a pair of binoculars and magic marker, but for some reason they didn't work. Then we hear a scream from one of the crew members, she mistakenly used the binoculars before they ever got to Murr!

  • A deadly variation in Oklahoma!: Jud obtains a "Little Wonder," a telescope-like device with a picture inside. You get your victim to look through the eyepiece to see the picture, and while he's looking, you press a secret release and a blade pops out.

    Video Games 
  • In the Fisher-Price game, Great Adventures: Pirate Ship, the captain of the Bad Bones Pirates often gets hit with this prank by his own crew.
  • In Undertale, if the player character looks through Sans's "premium telescope" in Waterfall, they only see a solid red color. When you exit the telescope, there is a purple ring around their eye. Some fans speculate that this example is actually Played for Drama, being Sans' method of testing if there's a player. The logic goes thus: the player character has no way of knowing they were just pranked without a way of looking at themselves, such as in a mirror, of which there are none nearby, but the player's Top-Down View allows them to see it immediately. Thus, if the character confronts Sans after looking through the telescope (which the game supports), it's evidence to him that something weird is going on.

    Western Animation 
  • Dennis the Menace and Gnasher: In "You and Whose Army," Curly hands Dennis a telescope. Dennis asks Curly if he has put boot polish round the eyepiece. Curly says no and raises the telescope to his own eye to demonstrate, only to find that Dennis has put boot polish on the eyepiece.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: Ed is using an opened-up can as a binocular. When he puts it away, a ring where the can once was is on Ed's eye.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Griffon the Brush Off," Pinkie Pie does this to Rainbow Dash using a telescope that the latter was looking in to see the results of their squirting turtle prank.
  • In an April Fools' Day/Clip Show episode of The Simpsons, the employees of the Frying Dutchman Restaurant do this to their boss, Captain MacAlister, as he's looking through a telescope. "From this day, I be requiring hairnets."
  • Done a few times in The Smurfs (1981), in "April Smurf's Day" and "Jokey's Joke Book." Also done in The Smurfs (2021) episode "Joke's On You".
  • This happens to Spock in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Practical Joker". After the Enterprise passes through a mysterious energy field, the ship's computer starts pulling practical jokes on the crew. One example is coating the rim of a viewing device with a black pigment. When Spock looks into it, it leaves rings around his eyes.
  • In What's with Andy?, the titular Andy Larkin is challenged by his sister to prank everyone he speaks to, which leads him to avoid Lori Mackney at all costs. Eventually he's forced to prank her using this, though she likely didn't realize it until long after Andy left.