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Eyes Are Unbreakable

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"It was horrible. No words can describe the framework of a face when the face itself is gone. Two living and beautiful brown eyes looking sadly out from that grisly ruin did but make the view more awful."

The anti-Eye Scream. When even though in all likelihood one's eyes would be harmed during a fight, or in a nasty accident etc., the eyes remain, remarkably, unharmed. This is seen often in works trying to avoid being Squicky. All the same, eye damage is rarely seen in modern works, as it has become something of a taboo. In a medium like Film or Television, it is also sometimes due to the difficulty in realistically portraying damage to the eye — makeup can create scars, but can't be applied directly to an eye. Also, as noted in the above quote, the expressiveness of the eyes can further emphasize the suffering and Facial Horror of the victim. In animation, this can also be used for humorous effect - completely blackening a character's face from an explosion wouldn't be nearly as funny if their eyes weren't visible to blink in astonishment.

This is the case pretty much whenever you see a character with a big, deep scar over their eye.

Sometimes, this can be Truth in Television, thanks to the rather nifty design of the human skull, with the eye set back and largely surrounded by bony prominences in the shape of the brow, nose, and to some extent the cheekbone. This makes it often possible to receive damage around the eye with little or none to the actual eyeball.

Characters who aren't so lucky may end up sporting an Eyepatch of Power.

Related to The Dead Have Eyes. The opposite of Eye Scream. The idea of this basically leads to tropes like Harmless Luminescence, where eyes basically are undamaged by bright light.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Balalaika from Black Lagoon had half her face torn up by a frag grenade. At first, her eye on that side appears to be fine but it subsequently turns out to be glass.
  • Claymore: Dae, Mad Scientist and head of the Organization's retrieval squad, still has a great round eyeball staring out of the left side of his face where he's lost all the flesh covering the bone and muscle, including the lips and eyelids.
  • Jet Black from Cowboy Bebop has a big scar that goes right through his right eye, though the eyeball itself is perfectly fine. He does have a piece of metal bolted to his face next to the eye, though.
  • Mello from Death Note had the entire left side of his face burned off in an explosion, yet his eye is completely intact and able to blink.
  • In the Fist of the North Star movie, you get to see the nukes drop. There is a closeup of one unlucky soul caught in the explosion, and everything but his eyes disintegrates.
  • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig's final episode, when Gouda's head is shot to pieces by The Major, one of his perfectly intact eyes can be briefly seen flying out of the remains.
  • Scar from Fullmetal Alchemist has a huge scar over both his eyes from an explosion, but then the one who did blow up his face could control the explosion very precisely and probably wanted him to suffer, not to die.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Dio stabs his thumb into Jonathan's eye during a fight just to play dirty and it results in Jonathan closing his eyelid and blood running down his face. We're led to believe that he suffered Eye Scream but when we see him after his injuries have healed his eye is perfectly fine.
  • Claw from Kimba the White Lion is a Subversion. He has a scar across his left eye, but unlike most characters with eye scars, his left eye is always closed.
  • Subverted with Kakashi from Naruto. When we first see his left eye unmasked it looks like this is the case, as he has a long deep scar over it but his eye is in perfect condition. But later we learn that his eye actually was destroyed. He just got a new one transplanted by his ninja medic teammate.
  • In One Piece, several characters have scars over their eyes (such as Shanks and Rayleigh) but their eyes are perfectly functional. After the Time Skip, Zoro subverts this trope by having his scarred eye permanently closed. He can still kick ass, though.
  • A certain Uzumaki chapter has a bit of this. A character's face is slowly turning into a spiral funnel, and at certain point her eye isn't affected, though most of the head around it is. Which makes it nightmarish when her eye finally detaches from her remaining face, rolls around and goes spiraling in the funnel like it was going down a drain.
  • Subverted with A-Drei in Valvrave the Liberator - his eye gets shot and he has a replacement. Yes, a Bishōnen Warrior Prince with a Glass Eye, and it doesn't make him any less beautiful.

    Comic Books 
  • The damage done to Doctor Doom's face, whether by hellfire or by impatiently putting on his trademark mask, should have caused severe damage to his eyes. However, we frequently see his intact eyes glaring out of the slits in his mask. And then there was the time we got to see what was under the mask.
  • There's a recurring theme of the optics surviving otherwise gruesome head injuries in various comics in The Transformers (IDW) stable. Quite a few times intact optics are seen flying away from fatal (or implied fatal) damage to a Cybertronian's head, such as when when Flywheels runs afoul of Tesarus.
  • In X-Men Forever, Perfect Storm is slashed across the face by Kitty Pryde (who accidentally gained one of Wolverine's claws), a slash which goes over her eye. The eye still functions perfectly.

    Fan Works 
  • Discworld fic There's Nothing Like a New Pair of Eyes deals with the psychic side-effects of Igor transplant surgery. Cloning eyeballs to replace ones lost due to misadventure is a new Igor science on the Disc. Uniquely, bio-artificing new eyes from cells contributed by a living donor involves transplanting bodily parts from a donor who is still alive and well. And whose biomystical field can then heavily influence the recipient. Here a Student Assassin gets new eyes cloned from those of one of her teachers. Her teachers watch as she starts to manifest the behavioral traits and aptitudes of Madame Emmanuelle les Deux-Epées....
  • Reconstructed in the RWBY fic What's in a Name. Weiss' scar was caused by a falling icicle, which would have been fatal if not for a sudden change in the wind. She believes that her mother's spirit saved her.
    Once, she told him how she had seen the trajectory of the icicle before it had struck her, how it should have hit her between the eyes and killed her. But the wind had shifted almost impossibly at the last second.
    He smiled gently, and she did as well.
    They both knew what had happened.

    Films — Animation 
  • Drago Bludvist from How to Train Your Dragon 2 has a huge scar across his left eye but the eye itself seems unharmed.
  • The Lion King:
    • Scar has a deep scar running down his face. Whilst it goes directly through his left eye socket, his eyeball is perfectly fine.
    • Kovu gets an identical scar, but in this case it's justified, since he clearly blinks at the swipe.
  • In My Little Pony: The Movie (2017), Tempest Shadow has a scar across her right eye, but the eye itself is perfectly fine. Considering she got this injury due to being attacked by an Ursa Minor in her youth, this is quite astounding.
  • In The Little Mermaid (1989), Flotsam and Jetsam, Ursula’s pet eels, get this treatment. When they get pretty much vaporized by a stray blast from the trident, a couple of unbroken eyeballs are among the bits and pieces left over.
  • Wolf from Ringing Bell has a scar across his eye.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • An American Werewolf in London: Jack, David's dead friend, becomes more and more decayed but his eyes are just fine.
  • In Any Given Sunday, to demonstrate the violence of football, in one scene, someone's eye is torn out and is lying on the field. While on the surface, this might seem to be a subversion of this trope, the eye itself is actually completely undamaged other than being removed from the socket (e.g., it's not crushed or even bloody). It's packed into a resealable plastic bag for (presumably) re-attachment.
  • In the Japanese horror classic Audition, the killer loves to sew eyes shut and poke needles under the eyes, but never harms the eye directly.
  • Batman Returns: The charred body of Max Schreck at the end has creepily intact eyes.
  • Averted in Captain America: The Winter Soldier when we see Nick Fury's eye and why it usually covered in an eye-patch.
  • Happens twice to the same guy in Constantine (2005). When the half-demon Balthazar is sprayed with holy water, the left side of his face is eaten away but his left eye is O.K. Later on, after Constantine blows his face off his body with dragon fire, his right eye is still in perfect condition.
  • A very jarring example occurs in The Dark Knight with Two-Face (pictured above). The left side of his face is burnt off completely, but for his huge unblinking eye, which still seems to work just fine, despite having no way of keeping moist and the fire clearly having been burning right next to it. Although one could assume that he was at least blind in that eye. Original concepts called for the eye to show some form of disfigurement or discoloration as well, but the taboo against (showing) Eye Scream stopped that.
  • Darkman: The explosion that get the titular hero disfigured is actually shown by a close up refection in his eye. However when we next see him his eyes are pretty much the only part of his face left.
  • Eyes Without a Face: The film concerns a girl whose face became horribly disfigured in a traffic accident, but her eyes were left completely uninjured. Since she wears a mask to conceal her disfigurement, they are the only visible, and thus most expressive, part of her face most of the time.
  • A Knight's Tale: Count Ademar explains in detail how dangerous eye slits are, and how knights usually tilt their chins to avoid getting shrapnel in their eyes.
  • Vampires in Near Dark repeatedly take third degree burns from sunlight, but their eyes never take damage.
  • By all accounts, both versions of Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street should run straight into this trope after being burned alive: he's covered in thick burn scars all over his body and (logically) had his hair and its follicles burned off, but his eyes not only remain untouched, he also still has perfect vision.
  • Even though Niki Lauda's face gets burnt pretty badly in Rush his eyes aren't damaged. Very close to truth in television as the real Niki Lauda didn't damage his eyes either but his eyelids burned off.
  • The Spirit: The Big Bad taunts the captive hero by having a fluffy white kitten melted alive in front of him. The kitten's entire body liquefies - fur, bones, everything - but its innocent blue eyes remain perfectly intact, afloat in a basin of liquid kitty.
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader is a Downplayed example. Lord Vader's eyes still function, but his corneas were burned away. This is why, when his mask is lowered onto his face in Revenge of the Sith, the lenses have a red-tinted HUD.
    • Even before getting burned to a crisp, Anakin Skywalker had a scar over one eye.
  • Literally true in Superman Returns where after failing to kill him with hundreds of rounds to the chest, a thug shoots the title character in his eye. The bullet is crushed on impact.
  • A Terminator never loses its red eye, but always loses the eye covering. In this case, their eyes likely ARE unbreakable, or very near so.

  • At the end of The Dark Tower, the Crimson King is erased from existence, but his eyes remain on the balcony of the titular tower (as the Reality Warper artist who did this had to color his eyes with red paint on his pencil drawing, and thus couldn't erase them).
  • Alastor Moody, a veteran Auror in Harry Potter, strikingly averts this trope. His face is described as rough and misshapen, with heavy scarring and a big chunk of his nose missing, but his most shocking feature is his bulging, lopsided Glass Eye. This actually works out quite well for him, since the prosthesis happens to be a Magical Eye with X-Ray Vision and the ability to see in all directions. They don't call him "Mad-Eye Moody" for nothing, you know.
  • Averted with Hester Shaw in Mortal Engines — frequent attention is brought to a horrifyingly extensive facial scar that rid her of her nose, one eye, and caused permanent lip and jaw disfigurement. Much of Hester's mood swinging in the first book is explained by herself as seeing the monster she has become, thinking of the man who caused it, and becoming bitter and spiteful again. Also, she's constantly afraid that Tom will abandon her for a more refined, more conventionally beautiful girl.
  • Double subverted in Matthew Reilly's Scarecrow books, with regards to the eponymous character's Eye Scream scars. Schofield's eyes were in fact badly damaged when the scars were inflicted, but his sight was saved and his eyes fully repaired. Nothing could be done about the scars themselves, however, so Schofield wears reflective glasses almost all the time because people find the sight of them very unnerving.
  • The Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger" provides the page quote. It involves a woman whose face was swiped away by an African lion.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Averted in Breaking Bad when Gustavo Fring gets half their face blown off by Walter's booby trap on Hector Salamanca's wheelchair. While the eye socket is shown mostly intact, it is completely empty.
  • Hardly any corpses in CSI have ever had damaged eyes. They are usually either intact or gone completely. One season 9 episode features a woman whose eyes have been gouged out by her killer's thumbs, but thankfully this was mostly left to the imagination and not shown directly on screen.
  • Doctor Who averts this with Davros, who appears to have an Eyeless Face after the lab explosion that disfigured the rest of his body and left him as an Evil Cripple. Eventually revealed that he does still have them, he's just rarely seen opening them.
  • In House, patients come in with all sorts of horrible conditions, and treatment has ranged from amputations, removal of one hemisphere of the brain, to death. However, not one single patient has yet lost an eye. The most severe damage eyes take is eyes turning red or yellow, or temporary blindness. Interestingly, when blindness has occurred, never has it been because of eye damage, but because of pressure to the optic nerve, a brain parasite, or brain damage. Blood may pour from every single orifice in the body, except eyes. However, that's only if you don't count the Season Two Finale. Even if it never really happened, we still saw a guy's eye burst out of its socket..
  • The original Life Meter in Knightmare is a slowly disintegrating head. The eyes remain when all the other flesh has gone, and then outlast the skull. When they're all that's left, they look at each other before spinning away out of shot.
  • NCIS:
    • In one episode, the victim of the week was missing an eye. He had apparently gouged it out and swallowed it. During autopsy, the eye was recovered and found to be fully intact.
    • In another episode, a serial killer specifically leaves the team an intact eye and they figure he cut it out from a dead or unconscious victim. It turns out that the eye was taken out during a violent struggle but remained intact.
  • The Three Stooges poke each other in the eyes so much, it's a wonder they all can still see.
  • Torchwood: Miracle Day has two examples. When the world is cursed by not being able to die (though not heal), one man gets blown up, and his body is charred and most of his flesh is gone, but his eyes are still there and functioning. And yet another lady gets put into a car crusher IN A CAR, and a zoom in reveals a single eye bopping back and forth.
  • Averted in The Walking Dead Michonne stabs the Governor in the eye with a shard of glass. There are even graphic close-ups of the mangled and oozing wound

    Video Games 
  • Atomic Bomberman: Blown-up bombers are reduced to a pile of ashes except for their eyes, which remain suspended in mid-air for a moment before dropping.
  • Baldur's Gate II: Keldorn and Imoen have visible scars over one eye, but the eyeball itself is perfectly fine. Imoen's may be justified by being surgery scars from Irenicus' 'treatments'.
  • The Binding of Isaac:
    • Peep's detached eyes will float around the room, invincible and damaging anything they touch. Eye enemies that are fastened to the floor can be killed though.
    • Picking up the "Peeper" item causes Isaac's left eye to pop out and attack enemies, leaving an empty, bloody socket in Isaac's face. Eyes are unbreakable. Eye sockets, not so much.
  • Cadillacs and Dinosaurs : If you throw a bundle of TNT sticks to an enemy with low energy, he will explode, leaving only his eyeballs flying away.
  • CarnEvil: This is one of the concessions to taste, along with your opponents' lack of internal organs. The unintentionally humorous result is that an opponent with no remaining face has its eyes bulging out of its ruined flesh.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day: Initially played straight, as fooling Franky the Pitchfork into attacking animate piles of hay causes them to disintegrate and only leave their eyeballs behind, which then keep staring at Conker. Subverted right afterwards by running over them, which causes them to be squashed.
  • Crash Bandicoot: Crash's explosive-death animation leaves only his shoes and his eyes.
  • Dead Space 2:
  • Dwarf Fortress: While eyes are the easiest part to destroy with heat, it is almost impossible to totally destroy them with other type of damage. However, the reason they qualify to this trope is... if you manage to butcher dead creature and get eyeballs as a result, you can throw them at other enemies — possibly breaking bones and caving in skulls. With a bag of water and nerves.
  • Fallout 3: Blowing an enemy's head apart causes intact eyeballs to fly hither, thither and/or yon. This is almost certainly an application of the Rule of Funny.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's: You're told that your eyeballs and teeth will be the only parts of you still visible if the animatronics catch you and stuff you into a tight Fazbear suit filled with sharp metal. The Game Over screen lets you see the aftermath for yourself.
  • Hearthstone: The trailer for the pack "Journey to Un'Goro" shows a creature burned by acid breath, its eyes falling onto a pile of ashes.
  • Kingdom of Loathing: Hitting a hobo with too much cold damage causes it to shatter, leaving behind nothing but its eyes.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Stalnoxes, the undead remnants of a type of cyclopean enemies, are completely skeletal, having lost all ligaments, flesh and hide, but their eyeballs remain intact within their bleached skulls. Notably, all other undead enemies have Glowing Eyelights of Undeath instead.
  • Loadout: The game's damage model, being the mix of cartoonish and grotesque gore that it is, allow players to land a headshot and not instantly kill the enemy — leaving him with a big hole in the face (or no face at all) with only eyes intanct.
  • Semi-example: Sir Daniel Fortesque, the protagonist of MediEvil, is a living skeleton reanimated after 100 of lying still in his crypt, and despite having lost all of his skin, muscle tissue and a jawbone, he still has one functional eye left. His other eye wasn't quite so lucky, seeing as he died by catching an arrow with it.
  • Mega Man X: In the Day of Sigma OVA, after Sigma launches a missile barrage on Abel City, X charges his hand until it glows white-hot and tries to gouge Sigma's eyes out. This gave Sigma his trademark scars, but did nothing whatsoever to his eyes.
  • Mud And Blood: In the second game, soldiers killed by fire will be charred to bones - minus the eyes. With which they continue to stare at the player in "you bastard" manner.
  • Pac-Man makes this Older Than the NES: When he eats a ghost, its eyes remain.
  • Prehistorik Man has the Looney Tunes version in the first tree level.
  • Rise of the Triad: The player routinely gibs enemies, blasting them into chunky kibbles, but very often, a perfectly intact eyeball will slide down the screen.
  • Sam & Max: Freelance Police: At the end of Episode 5 of Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space, the Soda Poppers have a portal opened on them (which was one of the Bermuda Triangle portals from Episode 2, It Makes Sense in Context) that pours gallons and gallons of lava on them, and Peepers' eyeballs can be seen floating around in the lava after he and the other Soda Poppers are killed.
  • Starbound: Killing a Mandraflora results in the monster disappearing in a puff of smoke as most creatures do in this game. However, its distinctive bright red eyeballs will fly away from the smoke and bounce around for a while as proof of your victory over the creature.
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed: Rahm Kota is blinded after having his own lightsaber blade pushed into his eyes when he gets distracted during a saber-lock. The next time you see him, he's wearing bandages over that part of his head, which might lead one to believe that they were badly damaged. But when he does finally take the bandage off, his eyes are milky-white but otherwise quite intact.
  • Team Fortress 2: In the "Meet the Spy" video, the Soldier gibs the Blu Spy's head, and the latter's eyes go flying off.
  • Zombie Lane: Sentry guns are powerful twin-barrelled cannon that blow zombies of all sizes to shreds if they come too close. One of the few bits large enough to land is an eyeball that bounces on the ground, and it is the last part of a killed zombie to fade.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Katawa Shoujo, Hanako has the right side of her body (and face) covered with burn scars from a childhood tragedy. But according to the Word of God, her right eye is not damaged, and in one scene in the game, it shows that Hanako's scars reach up her neck and onto her cheek, but don't quite reach the eye. She was originally meant to have more serious and extensive scarring, including being blinded in one eye and have mobility issues from muscle damage to the leg (similar to House's limp). However, this was changed in the final version.
  • SHUFFLE! had Kaede drop a cut cutter over Rin's face and had it positioned just so that it cut his eye. He has no issues seeing and didn't need to get a replacement of any sort.

    Web Animation 
  • Averted in Red vs. Blue by York. After a grenade went off near his face, he not only was badly scarred on most of one side of his face, but he lost vision in that eye. Further, his eye is usually depicted as being a ruined, iris-less void.
  • RWBY's Weiss has a small, jagged scar across her left eye, due to a blunt impact that hit her across the brow and cheek but failed to penetrate to the eye itself.


    Western Animation 
  • Common in Western Animation, when characters' faces have something blow up in front of their face, turning their entire face chalky black. But not their eyes.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Zuko has a scar running across most of one side of his face, from his nose to his ear. His eye is surrounded by damaged tissue and looks unharmed, though Zuko lacks peripheral vision and has damaged tear ducts under it.
  • In Drawn Together a man shoots himself in the head, turning his face in a blackened splatter, but leaving his two, blinking eyes intact.
  • Averted in Gargoyles; Hudson has a scar across his left eye. The eyeball itself is intact, but he can't see out of it.
  • In the Mickey MouseWorks short "How to Camp", which was subsequently repackaged in the House of Mouse Halloween Episode "Halloween with Hades", the two aliens Goofy encounters end up turning into ash with their eyes remaining intact.
  • The Looney Tunes cast can actually do more than "entire face chalky black". A character can be burned to ashes, and his eyes will stay in the air a few seconds, audibly blink a few times even though there are no eyelids left, then fall onto the little pile of ashes.
  • Combined with Smoldering Shoes for an Imagine Spot in My Life as a Teenage Robot. Sheldon steals Jenny's blueprints to see what makes her tick, but then Vexus gets a hold of them, and Sheldon realizes he'll have to tell Jenny how Vexus has them. But in the Imagine Spot, when he does tell her, Jenny vaporizes him, leading to the above combo.
  • Exaggerated in Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Ultimately, Toffee is mostly liquefied by a blast of magic, then splattered to pieces by a falling pillar. Despite the rest of him being reduced to goo, his eyes are completely undamaged, which lets Ludo use them as squeeze toys.
  • Star Wars Rebels: Kanan Jarrus doesn't avoid being blinded by Maul when the latter takes a swing at his face with a lightsaber, but because he managed to partially deflect the strike, the blow didn't go as deep as it might have (keep in mind that the villain responsible intended it as a killing blow). He's ultimately left with Milky White Eyes and a scar going diagonally from above his left eye to below his right.
  • In Steven Universe, Lars gets caught in a small explosion and gains a long scar over his otherwise unharmed eye. Justified, as he was revived by Steven's healing tears, meaning that even if his eye was damaged in the blast, it would've been fixed before he came to.
  • Averted in ThunderCats (2011) Panthro has a scar over his right eye, but the eye is milkier than his left, drawn matte and pupilless. Word of God is that he can still see, but has glaucoma in that eye.

    Real Life 
  • The cat Chase No-Face, who lost her nose and eyelids in a car accident but lived a normal life, needing only a dash of eyedrops twice a day and a dark room to sleep in. If you feel slightly queasy now, brace yourself before looking at this link.
  • In a 1965 plane crash, legendary pilot Chuck Yeager suffered facial burns that, by all rights, should have vaporized his left eye. Miraculously, though, the fire's heat caused a crust of dried blood to instantly form over the eye, saving it.
  • Likewise with Lauda, World War II German fighter ace (and later head of the West German Air Force) Johannes Steinhoff suffered a crash during a takeoff attempt in an Me-262 jet late in the war, and suffered significant burns all over his body, including having his eyelids burned off, which again required reconstructive surgery.
  • Sort-of example with Niki Lauda. He crashed during a race in 1976 and was trapped in his burning car for over a minute, suffering severe burns to his face. His eyes did not sustain significant injury, however his eyelids burned off. The only reconstructive surgery he has undergone is to get new eyelids.
  • Accepted wisdom for defending against a shark is to jab at its eyes. And while this method has a well documented success rate, sharks not only have protective eyelids, but surprisingly hard eyeballs.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Eyes Are Invincible


Lance and Moose

Despite being otherwise-entirely turned to dust by electricity, Lance and Moose's eyes remain intact, even blinking before their bodies crumble, with the eyes dropping down with them.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / EyesAreUnbreakable

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