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Glowing Mechanical Eyes

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"Could you close your eyes? I feel like I'm banging tail lights on a country road."
Sterling Archer, Archer

Robotic or Cyborg characters will frequently have obviously artificial eyes. Presumably these are some sort of video cameras, which makes sense for an artificial creation. Unlike normal cameras, however, these will usually glow with an inner light. While this makes very little sense from a mechanical design perspective, it makes excellent sense from a character design perspective. Eyes convey a lot of information about a person; light-up eyes help make up for a robot face's lack of expressiveness.

By varying the intensity, shape, and color of the light, a robotic character can convey much of the emotion that would otherwise be lost. A brief flash of intense light can indicate surprise or anger. The light going out can show that the character is unconscious, blind, or dead; conversely, the light coming back on is a form of Eye Awaken. If the light is red, you might want to watch out (especially if its usually a different color, but suddenly turns red). If the eye glow can change shape, then it becomes nearly as expressive as normal eyes; the glow widen or narrow, the expressiveness of eyebrows can be simulated by eliminating strategic parts of the glow (a >:| face is popular with this technique), etc.

Glowing robotic eyes can also be used to indicate anything that glowing eyes can mean on organic characters as well, from impending doom to inner power. Glowing mechanical eyes are a prerequisite for Eye Lights Out. A Cyber Cyclops is a specific variant. If things that are supposed to glow are also able to see it's a case of Screens Are Cameras.


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  • It's extremely common to see the eye cameras of mobile suits glow throughout the Gundam franchise, be they two or one eyed robots. In most series, the viewer is guaranteed to get at least one close up shot of a mecha's eyes starting to glow as it powers up, or the eye of a mecha glowing as it scans its target.

    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Doctor Cyber's most iconic look includes a cybernetic polished mask/faceplate with recessed a black band across where her eyes should be that has two red lights reminiscent of eyes in it.

    Fan Works 

  • In Marionettes, it's shown that the robot ponies (the title Marionettes) have glowing blue optics, though they're normally covered by their fake pony eyes (which can be a different color). The exception is Lightning Dust, who's fake eye was severely damaged in a Traintop Battle, revealing the optic.

    Films — Animated 
  • The eyes of the characters in Robots glow, even forming torch-like beams in the dust in the air in pitch-black locations.
  • The Iron Giant has glowing irises and glowing pupils.
  • In Treasure Planet, Ben has LED eyes that illuminate in the dark in one scene.
  • That one car seen in Paris in Cars 2, unlike everyone else whose eyes are located on their windshields.
  • The Leviathan from Atlantis: The Lost Empire has large mechanical optics, revealing the fact that it is actually a machine.
  • Baymax from Big Hero 6 gets these when Hiro removes the chip containing his "caregiver" programming.

    Films — Live-Action 


    Live-Action TV 
  • In Battlestar Galactica and its remake, the eye of each Cylon glows.
  • Animal Zords in Super Sentai and Power Rangers have glowing eyes, as do the Megazords.
  • In Kamen Rider, many Riders have eyepieces that light up, though circumstances for doing so differ. No matter when or if a Rider's eyepieces usually light, when morphing at the same time as Kamen Rider Decade, the eyepieces will flash when the transformation sequence finishes, right alongside Decade, whose eyepieces always do.
  • The Orville: Isaac, a member from a race of androids who joined the Orville crew, has two glowing blue eyes on his head, but they do not serve any sensory purpose. It turns out that other species were just freaked out by an eyeless robot.


    Tabletop Game 
  • In BattleTech, the Atlas II (and sometimes the standard Atlas) Battlemech is depicted with glowing red eyes in its white skull-shaped head. Depending on the model/variant number, the cockpit is either housed in one eye (sometimes with the other being the housing for a laser) or the nose. The Cyclops (take a wild guess as to what it looks like) likewise is typically equipped with a glowing eye.
  • Many of the Robomen in Rocket Age who have eyes tend to have either glowing slits or bulbs in the art.
  • Mechanical beings in Warhammer 40,000 often have this. The Necron universally have glowing green eyes, and the various eye augments of the Imperium, Chaos and Orks frequently glow a variety of colors.

  • Most characters in BIONICLE. On the toys, this is usually represented by transparent pieces, but in the animated media the eyes are given a definite glow. Though a fair number of 2006 sets did come with functioning light-up eyes.
  • Not uncommon in the Transformers franchise. Often represented in the toys via translucent plastic with a "lightpiping" effect, though some larger toys with electronic gimmicks do have light-up eyes.

    Video Games 
  • In Portal, the machine gun turrets, the personality cores, and GLaDOS all have glowing eyes.
  • Mass Effect uses glowing eyes for both the geth and generic security robots. Useful for lighting up when the unit activates. More subtly, the Illusive Man has glowing, blue cybernetic eyes. Also, as a result of his/her rebirth, Shepard can get glowing red eyes, but only with a high Renegade score.
  • In Kingdom of Loathing, a MagiTechMechaMech's eye will even continue to glow when severed.
  • Robots in Stealth Bastard have these.
  • Most of the robots in Binary Domain have these. Hollow Children do too when they are being controlled by the Amada A.I.
  • Most robots in Team Fortress 2's Mann vs. Machine mode have them, except for the Pyro robots and the Demoman Robot, who has a single eye.
  • In the fourth Super Smash Bros., Mega Man (Classic)'s eyes are basically LED screens (with the eyes being merely pictures on them).
  • In SOMA, Simon Jarrett's vision mysteriously pixellates when enemy monsters are near. That's because he's using someone else's body, with a pair of Johnny-5-esque cameras and a cortex chip wedged into what's left of their head. You can see this in a couple of mirrors and an X-ray machine later on.
  • PlanetSide 2 has glowing red eyes on many of the Terran Republic's Cool Helmets. Their MAX Powered Armor suits in particular always have glowing eyes.
  • In the MechWarrior series, the Atlas battlemech is often equipped with glowing eyes in its Skull for a Head cockpit, often coinciding with it being a mounting point for Eye Beams. The Cyclops in the Freeware Game re-release of Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries had a glowing Cyber Cyclops head that was the mounting point for a laser cannon.
  • Elliot Sinclair's robots in The Journeyman Project have huge, glowing, cycloptic visual sensors that dominate their heads. The remake Pegasus Prime ups this by brightening the glare they give off, and showing that Agent 5 can still see this with his eyepiece, even when one of them morphs into a complete human disguise.
  • Genji of Overwatch has a single glowing visor. His Blackwatch skin shows that his eyes also have some sort of cybernetic implant that allows them to glow red, although this functionality has (seemingly) disappeared by the time of Dragons (although it's unclear whether he had them removed, or simply turned them off so he didn't freak out Hanzo more than he needed to).
  • The Working Joes from Alien: Isolation have light-emitting diodes in their eyes. These glow white in neutral condition, glowing red when hostile, and not glowing at all when disabled.
  • The version of a former Optional Boss in Atelier Lulua has her eyes glow briefly on one of her attacks.
  • Destiny


    Western Animation 
  • DuckTales (1987): In "Armstrong", when the eponymous robot undergoes his Faceā€“Heel Turn. His eyes glow red when he pins Scrooge with the blade of his bulldozer.
    Armstrong: I am Armstrong. I am your friend.
  • In Archer, after being recontruscted by Dr. Krieger, Katya gets one of these. When sleeping with Archer, he gets annoyed at how bright they are.
  • In Futurama, Hermes Conrad ends up with Cylon eyes on his face after several upgrades. Despite the modesty bedsheet, we learn that he also has one down below.
  • The Bugs Bunny cartoon "Water Water Every Hare" has a Mad Scientist construct a giant robot with oversize jaw and lightbulbs for eyes. Its eyes remains dim, because the robot has no brain ... yet. The mad scientist intends to obtain a brain from a passing bunny. Understandably, the rabbit defers.
    Bugs Bunny: Sorry, doc, I need what little I've got.
  • A Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! episode has the Mystery Inc. gang visit the Funland carnival that powers up in the middle of night, only to power down shortly thereafter. It's the work of a maintenance robot running amok. This 'bot has a generic face with glowing eyes, the better to see what it's doing in the dead of night. This face is one of the many "monsters" seen in the show's opening montage.
  • Transformers: Prime stands out amongst other entries in the Transformers franchise for the sheer variety of eye designs. Every character has their own unique design, usually incorporating a black ring on glowing colour or the reverse to approximate a human iris, which greatly assists in facial recognition by the audience.

    Real Life 
  • Many cameras, especially security cameras, use rings of LEDs around the camera to light up the room in the dark. Generally these use wavelengths of light that humans can't see to minimize intrusiveness, but not always, and cheap infrared or ultraviolet LEDs sometimes glow a bit in the visual spectrum as well.
  • Some robots designed to interact with humans use glowing screens in place of eyes, which can display different eye movements as well as doubling as a screen for displaying information on command. Of course, these "eyes" aren't actually used for seeing, that's usually done with smaller or hidden cameras instead.