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Fish Eyes

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"Damn your eyes!" "Too late!"
"I can't stop looking into those entrancing eyes... Can she see all around her? Maybe she can see through the very fabric of time and space!"

How do you make a blank stare even blanker? Have the character's eyes face slightly (or even more than slightly) away from each other — reverse cross-eyes, if you will. It's usually used to make the character look unintelligent or dumbfounded, causing it to become known as "derp eyes" in some Internet circles. In real world English this is called "wall-eye" or "squint", and in medical jargon "exotropia".

Sometimes however, they can be used for a more serious effect, such as showing that a character's mental stability is loosening, emphasizing an emotion (commonly anger or happiness); sometimes this is done when a character mocks another, or to emphasize that they act in a way unlike they usually do. They may occasionally be the result of plain old physical eye damage.

A particularly common form of Off-Model in both hand-drawn and computer-generated 2D animation, especially when depicting an aside glance. Compare Comically Cross-Eyed, which is also used to convey stupidity or insanity, but is almost always Played for Laughs.

Unrelated to Fish-Eye Lens.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Gastro from Assassination Classroom has eyes apart from each other, and they probably enhance his shooting skill.
  • Maeve from Blame! has eyes like this to make her look more dangerously unhinged.
  • Played for drama/horror in Blood on the Tracks. Shigeru's fall off a cliff causes a skull fracture which leads to bleeding in his brain, requiring surgery to relieve the pressure. When Shige sees him in the hospital after the surgery, he is comatose, his eyes pointing in opposite directions with extremely dark scleras, as if they're very bloodshot or even bruised.
  • Depending on the angle, Ryuk from Death Note can have this.
  • Happens to Marcille in Delicious in Dungeon after she hears the scream of a mandrake.
  • Tap the alien rabbit sidekick from Doraemon: Nobita and the Tin Labyrinth have his eyes constantly pointing the opposite direction from each other in an up-down position.
  • Cell from Dragon Ball Z briefly adopts this look (complete with slobbering) after Gohan kicks him so hard that he vomits up Android 18.
  • Caster of Fate/Zero has these, emphasizing that he's not the world's most stable individual. He's also a walking reference to the Cthulhu Mythos, so it's only fitting that he has the "Innsmouth look" mentioned under Literature. In the Einzbern Consultation Room specials, it is revealed that he had these even when he was alive, and Jeanne d'Arc would regularly poke his eyes back in. When he appears as a Saber in Fate/Apocrypha, he begins with normal eyes, but as his sanity declines, his eyes morph into this shape.
  • Kouran Mori, the Big Bad of Flame of Recca has these eyes which only adds to his creepiness and sociopathic tendencies.
  • The Gold-Toothed Doctor from Fullmetal Alchemist has these behind his Scary Shiny Glasses. In his case, they emphasize just how ''off' he is.
  • Some of the aliens from Gantz will have this expression if their cover is blown or sustains enough heavy damage, right before dishing out horrible bloody violence.
  • Katou from Holyland, emphasizing how nuts he is.
  • Since its unchanging Cat Smile is harder to convey in manga, Kyuubey is given this look in Puella Magi Oriko Magica to enhance its creepiness.
  • Midori of Space Patrol Luluco does this at one point when asked to look at two copies of a pamphlet on either side of her. Her third eye also sprouts a second pupil so it can look both ways as well.

  • Michelangelo's David, believe it or not, has the character's eyes move away from each other. Deliberate, because Michelangelo knew both eyes couldn't be viewed at once, and made each profile fill different artistic roles.

    Comic Books 
  • Ink, one of Nicky Cavella's lackeys in The Punisher MAX, is depicted with his eyes looking in different directions.

    Comic Strips 
  • Matt Groening's Life in Hell would use a slight wall-eye effect on characters who were despairing about something. Doubtlessly influenced the early Simpsons examples.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland (2010). This, along with his bright orange hair and insane demeanor, is a result of severe mercury poisoning.
  • In Ella Cinders, Ella does this when practicing different looks from a book on how to be an actor. She then starts moving either eye independently. It's a rather unsettling split-screen effect.
  • Godzilla, whenever portrayed by a suit that had fixed eyes. This is especially pronounced in Shin Godzilla, to the point that his eyes don't ever focus on anything and are, for the most part, unmoving.
  • An interesting case of this trope and Method Acting on the part of the actor for Pennywise the Dancing Clown in It (2017); initially the director wanted to achieve this effect through CGI techniques, but Bill Skarsgård told him that he could actually unfocus his eyes to achieve the desired effect. Thus, Pennywise appears wall-eyed in most scenes that he's in that aren't action heavy, with most of said scenes shot so that one eye is pointed directly at the camera.
  • Another method acting case happened in The Big Short, as the real Michael Burry has a glass eye, and portrayer Christian Bale managed to keep one eye completely still to give that impression without resorting to prosthetics.
  • Jeebs in Men in Black. Tony Shalhoub seemingly shifts the eye by hand - and in a comedic touch, every time Jeebs has his head shot the wonky eye changes side.
  • Igor from Young Frankenstein (pictured above).

  • A minor character in the Discworld books is Nobby Nobbs's on-again off-again girlfriend Verity Pushpram, a fishmonger who apparently has such a bad case of fish-eyes that it's earned her the nickname "Hammerhead".
  • In Dr. Franklin's Island, Miranda is turned into a bird monster with wide-set eyes and frequently turns her head to look at something of interest with one eye, then the other.
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Merope and Morfin Gaunt's eyes are said to point in different directions.
  • Finn from The Magic Toyshop has a misaligned right eye, which according to Melanie makes his gaze "disturbing and oblique". He explains that this was caused by him being stung in the eye by a bee as a child.
  • Part of the Innsmouth Look from The Shadow Over Innsmouth, according to H. P. Lovecraft. Makes sense, since the inhabitants of Innsmouth are slowly turning into Fish People.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • A minor character named Pounce from Ravenpaw's Path has this look worn all the time. He's often seen derping in the background.
    • The blind character Jayfeather is often depicted this way in the Russian illustrations.

    Live-Action TV 

  • Bud of No Good Gofers has fish eyes that regularly roll in opposite directions.
  • Q*Bert has this expression in the lower-left corner of the Q*Bert's Quest playfield.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Show: Wanda, of the ill-fated duo of Wayne and Wanda, has slight wall-eyes, though she isn't portrayed as particularly unintelligent (now, Wayne on the other hand...), just spectacularly unlucky.

    Video Games 
  • In The Binding of Isaac taking an "R U A Wizard?" pill gives Isaac wall eyes for a short time as a reference to the "Are You A Wizard?" meme. Unlike most examples of this trope, Isaac's eyes actually move to the side of his face rather than just facing outwards. This makes it much harder to aim, because he fires his tears at a 45 degree angle rather than straight out in front of him. Picking up "The Wiz" gives Isaac this effect permanently and also gives him a Dunce Cap, but to compensate it doubles his rate of fire and makes them travel over obstacles. It's still widely seen as a Power Up Let Down, though.
  • In Borderlands 2, Tiny Tina's left eye sometimes drifts outwards due to a glitch, but the developers liked it so they left it in.
  • A kangaroo enemy in Dynamite Dux has these.
  • Fallout 4 : The "Idiot Savant" perk (which randomly grants a bonus to EXP, which gets more likely the lower your character's INT stat is) is represented by a picture of the series mascot Vault Boy with fish-eyes and a goofy grin. To drive it over the line again, every time it triggers, your character lets out a dopey guffaw.
  • Nugget from Kindergarten and Margaret the lunch lady from Kindergarten 2 both have these permanently, serving to emphasise their weirdness/ambiguous disorders.
  • Gooey, a (questionably) sapient offshoot of Dark Matter and best friend to Kirby, has these. Sillydillo counts as well.
  • All passive (harmless) mobs in Minecraft. Since eyes are only two pixels wide by one pixel tall, it was either that or crossed eyes, which are used for the default player character skin and for wolves and ocelots, to make them look more intelligent.
  • All the rats in Pizza Tower have eyes that constantly look at the opposite direction. There are some other enemies as well with those kinds of eyes.
  • October from the Richman series is an odd example, as he has googly eyes that are always shut, make him look more like an alien than an old farmer.
  • Lemmy Koopa from Super Mario Bros. has a lazy eye that sometimes invokes this trope.
  • Masada (or that guy with the piano) in Yume Nikki. Likewise, when enraged, the toriningen can get these.

    Web Animation 
  • Ben of Puffin Forest often draws himself with this look when he is feeling stupid.
  • Mario in SMG4 over 90% of the time to emphasize his stupidity. Other characters aren't immune…
    • Peach has these sometimes to show her increasing insanity.
    • In the 2020 episode "Mario's Mask Of Madness", every character possessed by the cursed Mario Mask acts like this canon's Mario at his craziest, complete with his trademark wall-eyes. Meggy also has these while possessed by the BEEG SMG4 Mask.
    • In 2022's "Breaking Luigi", most characters' eyes derp either briefly or permanently upon eating a Robotnik Head Pingas meme and becoming re-corrupted.
    • Whenever a character goes bug-eyed to show shock or fear, this can sometimes happen.
    • The one time this was used on Mario and NOT Played for Laughs was in 2022's "If Mario Was The Last Man On Earth". Mario's friends left him so he wouldn't screw up their attempt at a world record, and he cracked from being alone. The tell this is meant to be different and more serious than his usual derp-eyes is the noticeable blood vessels in his sclerae.
  • Used on a near-constant basis in Zero Punctuation to identify video game characters (and video gamers) as being stupid, either in gameplay or story.


  • Masters of the Universe: The SDCC edition Filmation accurate version of Hordak was the first time he came with his pet/mascot Imp. For some reason the sculpt for Imp was very fish-eyed. The later MOTU Classics version of the pair corrected this.

  • The dwarves in Oglaf sometimes have these eyes.
  • Brianne from Leslie And Brianne almost always has wonky eyes to further emphasize how stupid she is.
  • Rage Comics: Many, many rage faces.
  • The characters in Sarah's Scribbles are often drawn slightly wall-eyed.

    Web Original 
  • Parodied in The Angry Video Game Nerd episode "Game Glitches" during the Rocky part, when the Glitch Gremlin changes Rocky Balboa's face by making his eyes pop out, and calls him "Bug-Eyed Balboa".
  • Sanguine, a Friendly Sniper with modified vision in Twig, has this effect, as he can rotate and aim each eye individually.

    Western Animation 
  • The Ghost And Molly Mcgee: In "The Greatest Concert Ever", Scratch expresses concern that Molly was up all night working on her convoluted scheme to intercept Kenny Starr and ask him to perform at the Brighton Bandshell, asking her if she got any sleep last night. Molly's response is to stand there as one of her eyes drifts off to the side.
    Molly: Huh? Sorry, I fell asleep with my eyes open for a second.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Grunkle Stan gets this expression a lot whenever he states a stupid plan, most notably the driving bear from "Bottomless Pit".
    • Old Man McGucket sports this nearly all the time.
  • GIR from Invader Zim has these in his dog costume. He's insane and ditzy.
  • Ruby-Spears's Mega Man has had this photoshopped to the point of Memetic Mutation.
  • Seen a few times in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, often as a Freeze-Frame Bonus due to typically being an animation error:
    • Derpy Hooves is an interesting case: she's fish-eyed and just as often seen Comically Cross-Eyed. She inverts this as her eyes usually face inward.
    • The toys of Princesses Celestia and Luna tend to suffer from this, as do the Miniature Collection toy of Zecora and the Target-exclusive plush of Twilight Sparkle.
    • One background pony in "Griffon the Brush Off" can be seen making a crazy "shocked" face, complete with fish-eyes, when Gilda scares off Fluttershy. The same background pony makes another fish-eyed face in "Hurricane Fluttershy".
    • Rainbow Dash briefly wears this expression in "Fall Weather Friends" while trying to laugh off Twilight Sparkle's suspicions.
    • Pinkie Pie wears this expression during her infamous Sanity Slippage in "Party of One" whenever she is puppeteering the friends that she created for Gummy's after-birthday party.
    • Twilight Sparkle lapses into this several times during her brief struggle with mental instability in "Lesson Zero".
    • Purposefully averted at one point during "A Canterlot Wedding -- Part 2". During fake Cadance's song, she gives a sideways look at the audience (directly to her right) while standing in front of a mirror (directly to her left). The show's art style would have rendered this as her having fish eyes, so her mirror image's eye is closed to keep the focus on the other one. Fans sometimes cite this as an animation error, not realizing how odd she would have looked had this not been done. Basically, as the ponies have their eyes partly to the sides of their heads and not pointing directly ahead as with humans, turning one eye directly to the side makes it impossible to point the other one in the same direction. From the character's own point of view, it would seem she would have split her field of vision in two if she'd kept the left eye open, so this was perhaps justified in-universe too.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, this is the default expression of Perry the Platypus when he's in his civilian guise. In "Mom's in the House", Phineas and friends make fish-eyed expressions like Perry during the "Perrytronic" song.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): In "Knock It Off", this expression is seen on several of Dick Hardly's Powerpuff knock-offs.
  • Many characters from The Ren & Stimpy Show have fish eyes when drawn in an "off-model" way. Ren's especially obvious, since he's a chihuahua.
  • Greta Gator, the hotelkeeper in the Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated episode "The Creeping Creatures", has constant Fish Eyes.
  • Pops up now and again on The Simpsons, especially on earlier seasons:
    • Ralph Wiggum is drawn this way a lot of the time (although it's pretty subtle).
    • When Sideshow Bob hypnotizes Bart in one episode, the Simpson kid becomes cross-eyed.
    • In "Diatribe of a Mad Housewife", Marge is trying to talk some sense into Homer, and his reaction is to stand there staring off into space, with one of his eyes wobbling back and forth. Then the same scene is repeated with Bart and Lisa in the same episode.
    • The episode "I Don't Wanna Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" revolves around Marge being stalked by a bug-eyed fugitive who wanted her to see him in prison after she persuaded him to turn himself in to the police, but she never did. This feature is pointed out repeatedly and usually Played for Laughs, but it looks rather disturbing at a point when they're in a stadium and he appears to look down at Marge from the jumbotron. For bonus points, the guy was voiced by Steve Buscemi.
  • On SpongeBob SquarePants, this is done a few times, most notably in the episode "Selling Out", done by the new manager, Carl. The only time he doesn't do this is when he narrows his eyes at Mr. Krabs, but he's back to his glasgow-style smile and literal fish eyes afterwards.
  • In the Steven Universe episode "Frybo", Steven goes wall-eyed when he zones out on an Infodump from Pearl regarding some magic gem shards.
  • Luigi briefly wears this expression at the end of the Super Mario World episode "The Yoshi Shuffle".
  • El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera: Zoe Aves gets this expression twice when she nearly blows her secret identity in front of Manny and Frida. The first time, her bangs prevent the viewer from seeing her left eye, so it merely looks like she's watching Frida warily. The second time, her helmet exposes her other eye, so the viewer can now see how one eye tracks Frida and the other tracks Manny.
  • Total Drama:
    • In "Masters of Disasters", Owen's eyes independently stare outwards when he returns from a major surgery after a major blow to the face. It highlights that he's awake but still largely out of it.
    • Mike always has this expression while he takes a deep breath right before one of his alternate personalities activate.
  • Megatron and Starscream Narmfully don this expression several times in Transformers: Prime.

    Real Life 
  • The Potoo Bird seems consistently unable to focus both eyes on a subject in spite of its forward-facing eyes.
  • Because their eyes tend to protude, pugs very often look wall-eyed.
  • Down Syndrome can cause this.
  • Due to their ability to move their eyes independently from each other, chameleons sometimes look like this.
  • People with severe vision loss in one or both eyes sometimes end up getting either these or crossed eyes.
  • Bill Cosby started looking noticeably wall-eyed in the mid-2000's as his vision began to fail. By the time of his sexual assault trial, he was legally blind and this was in full effect.
  • Jack Elam had a successful career unnerving people in various roles, starting in western films and series like Rawhide and continuing in guest roles well into the 1990s. Often he was the villain, but sometimes he just put the "strange" in stranger. Lampshaded in one comedic guest spot (possibly his recurring role on Eight is Enough) where someone kept saying, with reference to Elam's character, "Never trust a man who can't look you in the eyes."
  • As on glorious display above, the late Marty Feldman, a talented actor and great comedian. His were caused by Graves's Disease.
  • Ryan Gosling has some pretty subtle ones, but it's more obvious in his page pic.
  • George Harrison of The Beatles. That didn't seem to matter to any of his thousands of fangirls, though.
  • Scarlett Johansson, although it's not very noticeable.
  • Peter Lorre had these, but they're not really obvious.
  • Groucho Marx had a small case of this.
  • David Prowse got these towards the end of his life.
  • Jean-Paul Sartre infamously had a strong outward deviation in his right eye, and was apparently teased and bullied because of it in his childhood.
  • The Finnish politician Paavo Väyrynen has a noticeable strabismus, leading to frequent jokes about how he's always keeping an eye on both the East and the West.
  • Kit Williams, author and artist of Masquerade (1979), has noticeable drift in both eyes in his various photos. Despite this, his artwork is remarkably detailed and intricate.
  • Richard Williams of Kansas sometimes has this appearance in early photos of the band. Justified in that one of his eyes was a fake glass eye (replacing an eye he lost making a homemade bomb when he was younger). Eventually he got tired of fooling around with the glass eye and started wearing an eye patch.


Video Example(s):


Fireman Martin

Martin wakes up as a fire chief, extinguishes his parents' burning toaster, and gets a ride in a firetruck from a subordinate.

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