So, you have a dramatic scene with your villain. Wouldn't it be so awesome if you ended this bombastic tour-de-force with something more quiet and subdued? What better way to do that than with a Fade Around the Eyes?
A subtrope of By the Lights of Their Eyes and "Uh-Oh" Eyes, this is when everything on the screen fades away, except for a character's eyes (though other facial features, such as teeth, may be used as well.) It is more often than not done at the end of a scene, as a transition to the next, though it can happen at any time. What matters most is that it's done for dramatic effect. It usually begins with a close-up of the character's face, seemingly looking straight at the audience.
Usually, this trope goes as follows: The character looks at the screen, which completely fades to black, except for the character's facial features, which then fade to black themselves. The now completely black screen then fades to the next scene. Less commonly, the black screen is skipped altogether, and it just fades straight to the next scene, but the facial features are still the last things you see.
Unlike By the Lights of Their Eyes, which is usually a result of Limited Animation, this trope is done for dramatic effectnote . It is usually done by villains, who often do it at the end of a Villain Song. It is exceedingly rare for a non-villainous character to do this, but even if the character isn't evil, this trope can be a sign that the character is either dangerous, Dark Is Not Evil, an Anti-Hero, a Jerkass, or perhaps some combination of those traits. Another common feature of this trope is that the character who does it will usually have one eyebrow raised, and a smile, as the background fades away.
The cause of the fading varies. Sometimes, it just happens, with no other explanation than Rule of Scary. Other times, it fades or turns to black because the room is filling with smoke. There are even cases where it's a mix of both! There will be fire or lightning around the character, and when it disappears, the screen inexplicably goes black, leaving the villain's evil eyes.
By the way, we would like to point out that this trope has a really cool acronym. Here's a handy-dandy phrase to help you remember the title: When your enemy does this, your FATE is sealed!
This has become a staple of animation, especially in works by Disney.
Be careful when adding examples. The eyes are usually the brightest-colored parts of a character's face, so it can seem like this trope is happening even when the entire face is fading at the same time.
- The Long Halloween features a sequence like this when crime boss Carmine Falcone sends his goons out after Batman and Catwoman. In one panel, the room is lit up. In the next, Falcone's face is half-shadowed. In the last, everything is black except for one of his eyes, and his scars.
- Cuphead: Don't Deal With Me!, an animated parody of Cuphead, contains a very brief example. The video ends with a shot of Cuphead, having gone bad, doing a Kubrick Stare at the camera. Everything goes black, but not before we see his eyes in the darkness for a split second.
- In Freedom Fighters (Sonic x Freedom Planet), The Stinger for the first episode ends with a shot of Infinite staring at the camera as the screen fades around his sole visible eye.
- Super Mario Bros. Z: In the sixth episode of the original series, once Mecha Sonic completely destroys the Yoshi's Island, killing all life on it (except the heroes and the Yoshi tribe, thanks to Shadow's Mass Teleportation), he surveys the massive resulting explosion, completely silent in fury. As the scene transitions, the screen intimidatingly fades around his glowing visor.
- Darla Dimple from Cats Don't Dance does this at the end of the second part of Big and Loud. Max turns on the electric thing clipped to her hair, and the machine produces smoke, which, along with the flashes of electricity, turn the entire screen black except for Darla's eyes, which then disappear, then flicker back onto the screen for a split second before finally disappearing for real.
- The Chipmunk Adventure has a Fade To Next Scene after an informer relays to Claudia that The Chipettes have strayed off course from their balloon race, angering her and demanding they find a way to retrieve their dolls or else. After slamming the phone down, Claudia stares into the camera with evil in her eyes, while dissolving to Antarctica where The Chipettes are returning the baby penguin, her eyes still seen.
- Used in many films in the Disney Animated Canon:
- Aladdin: The Return of Jafar to heat his revenge on Aladdin, several more scenes fade out with Jafar's smiling evilly—even more than the original film.,
- Sa'luk from Aladdin and the King of Thieves does it at the end of his Villain Song, "Are You In or Out?" At the end of the song, a fiery background appears out of nowhere around his face, and when the fire goes out, everything goes black except for his eyes and teeth, which then fade away.
- Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective does this at the end of one scene. He grins at the camera with a sinister expression as the shot fades to the next scene. His bright yellow eyes are the last things you see.
- Hades from Hercules does an interesting variant at the end of the scene where he figures out Hercules' weakness. The screen fills up with smoke as it fades to the next scene, and the last things we see are Hades' eyes.
- In a deleted scene from The Lion King (1994), Scar does this after singing a Dark Reprise of "Be Prepared". We see a close-up of his face during the last line, and in the next shot, we see his eyes in the sky, leering over the landscape where the next scene will take place.
- Ursula does this at the end of her first scene in The Little Mermaid (1989). The image of her tentacles curling around her as the screen fades to black can be very frightening.
- She does it again in the scene when she transforms into her disguise as Vanessa, but instead of her eyes, she does it with her teeth and the shell on her necklace as smoke fills her lair.
- In The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Ursula's sister Morgana does this when Melody starts her quest for Atlantica. Maybe being dramatic runs in the family.
- In The Princess and the Frog, Dr. Facilier does this at the end of "Friends on the Other Side," not just with his eyes, but also with the skull mask that he wears during the last part of the song. There is a big firework display that ends with the screen going black except for the mask and his eyes, and then the mask disappears, followed by his eyes.
- In what may be the Ur-Example, the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs does this when she transforms herself into a witch. An unusual example in that by the time the screen fades to black, the eyes have almost completely faded away, but you can still see them for a second.
- Kung Fu Panda 3: When Kai captures Crane, the camera quickly zooms on his face just before switching to the next scene. When the scene switches, his eyes can briefly be seen in the sky.
- Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends: The ending scene of the film reveals a seemingly dead Belial, only for his eyes to light up and the screen fading to black, leaving his eyes as the last sight of the film before the credits and setting up the events of the sequel.
- 300 does this with the Persian ambassador convincing the Ephors to betray Sparta.
- Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before". In one scene with Gary Mitchell after he has undergone his transformation, the rest of the screen fades out, leaving only his silver eyes visible.
- At the end of CarnEvil, the screen fades to black around Umlaut's eyes, complete with an Evil Laugh, to show that he is Back from the Dead.
- The closing cinematic of Halo 4 ends with the Master Chief taking off his helmet. On most difficulties, the Fade to Black is done with a wipe that hides his face, but on Legendary difficulty the area around his eyes is visible for a few seconds before the Fade to Black.
- Played with in one cutscene of I. M. Meen. Instead of the background fading away, the titular antagonist does this by teleporting in such a way that everything but his eyes disappears, and the eyes disappear a second later.
- If you let the title screen animation of Pokémon Sun and Moon run to the very end, the screen will fade to black aside from the version legendary's eyes, which will remain glowing for a few seconds.
- In Transformers (2004), after the first battle with Starscream, the Autobots defeat him and walk away to stop Cyclonus. However, as they leave, the camera then pans over Starscream's face, as his eyes light up, and the screen fades around his red Glowing Eyes of Doom, indicating that he will return for rematch
- Inverted in Wario Land: Shake It! in the cutscene before the Shake King's boss battle. Everything is black at first (except for Wario), then you see the King's eyes, and then the whole room lights up.
- In the short YouTube animation Batman Eats A Hotdog, the Caped Crusader himself does this. After doing what the title says, the screen fades to black around his eyes, complete with dramatic lightning, which then fade away as well. In the video's various spin-offs, this is used in other ways. For example, in A Hotdog eats Batman, this is done with the hotdog's mustard!
- In the Animaniacs (2020) episode "Good Warner Hunting", Walter Grubb's introductory scene ends this way. This — combined with him impaling a fly on a knife and cueing the fade with a creepy borrowing of Yakko's "Goodnight, everybody" — helps establish him as a Knight of Cerebus, a rarity in a show like this.
- A very brief example, but in one episode of Chowder, the Cinnamini Monster does this in the scene when he first meets Chowder. The monster moves forward, groaning, while the screen fades to black around his eyes, and when he reaches Chowder, he hugs him. While the Monster is more of a Jerkass Yandere than actually evil, Chowder does not know this yet, and thinks that the Monster means to hurt him. This trope is used to make the Monster seem scary because that is how Chowder sees the Monster.
- Darkwing Duck:
- Negaduck does this in one episode. An interesting example in that he doesn't directly face the screen, but that doesn't prevent the black screen around his eyes from being just as intimidating as the other examples.
- In the episode "Time and Punishment", after Darkwarrior refuses to let Gosalyn Set Right What Once Went Wrong, the screen fades until all that can be seen are his eyes.
- It is used also in the end of the first episode by Taurus Bulba while still talking in a sinister way. A similar one is used in a later episode by disgruntled Agent Grizzlikof once the FOWL agents approach him and he pretends that he accepts their offer.
- Filmation's Ghostbusters: At the end of the opening, Brat-a-Rat slaps Scare Stiff away and the screen fades to black, showing only his teeth as he laughs.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. In one scene of "Billy and Mandy's Jacked-up Halloween", Jack o' Lantern leers at the screen ominously as it fades to black around him. An interesting example in that, because he has a jack o' lantern for a head, both his eyes and his mouth light upnote . The weird part is, his eyes always glow, but his mouth doesn't except in this scene.
- In Grossology, this is used at the end of the debut episodes of both Fartor and Kid Rot. as the aforementioned villains vow to make a triumphant return, the screen fades to black except for their eyes (yellow and purple respectively), which is accompanied by ominous music.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- The villainess Queen Chrysalis in disguise as Princess Cadence does this at one point in her Villain Song. Significant in that, when the screen fades to black, we see her real eyes, instead of those of the princess.
- In "A Hearth's Warming Tail", Snowfall Frost's solo Villain Song concludes with the light dimming until only her eyes stay visible. Then we go to a commercial break.
- In the final season opener "The Beginning of the End", King Sombra does this in part 1 when he takes over the Crystal Empire. Done again by Grogar at the very end of part 2 when he uses Sombra's defeat as an example of failure to unite the Mane Six's past foes against them.
- Star Wars Rebels:
- Grand Admiral Thrawn does this in his debut episode, "Steps Into Shadow", at the end of a scene where he vows to tear the Rebellion apart piece by piece.
- In "Kindred", the white Loth-Wolf backs into a darkened section of cave with only its eyes showing before they disappear. When the cave is lit the Loth-Wolf is gone and the place it backed into was just a solid wall with a crack. He's not villainous but he is very powerful and beyond sapient morals.
- In Teen Titans, Mumbo Jumbo does this at the end of "Master of Your Fate", but with his mouth instead of his eyes. Unusually, while most examples of this trope featuring the mouth only use the teeth, this example shows his entire mouth.
- Wander over Yonder: In "The Greater Hater", Lord Dominator does this when she decides that the heroes are idiots, and defeating them will be easy. For extra awesomeness, she does it while wearing her power suit, which gives her an electronic deep voice and a glowing green visor. The screen fades to black as she does an Evil Laugh for terrifying effect.