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Held Gaze

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Love is in the air… and the eyes.

"Together, they will have the romance of a lifetime… expressed entirely in stares." note 

Bob and Alice have been spending a lot of time together, causing people to comment on their relationship but so far nothing has resulted from it. Often though, they will find themselves gazing deeply into each other's eyes, one indication of their UST. This can often precede an Almost Kiss, as this is usually what is happening before that. If this is an extremely intense gaze into the other's eyes, this might be an indication that a Big Damn Kiss is on the horizon. It can also be a platonic look between two friends.

There are four versions of this held gaze, depending on the atmosphere of the story:

  1. Romantic: This will appear at least once, accompanied by some passion on one (or both) of the partners in the gaze, hence it fits into the passionate look variant of the trope.
  2. Platonic: Two friends will hold each other's gaze meaningfully to either encourage the other or to just let them know that they are there for them.
  3. Antagonistic: If the two of them are rivals or enemies, however, this becomes a classic staredown, with both characters trying their level best to out-intimidate the other.
  4. Supernatural: A shared gaze where souls gaze into the other person's soul, all at once having a deeper experience than the other two versions mentioned above can have.

A Sister Trope of Almost Kiss, as this commonly happens before the kiss. Sometimes precedes a Big Damn Kiss. A subtrope of Longing Look, but different in that it is just two people holding each other's gazes. It naturally tends to happen when two lovers Literally Fall In Love. Compare Staring Contest. May also be a Meaningful Look.


    open/close all folders 

  • Located beneath God's arm in the Sistine Chapel's Creation of Adam, a female figure looks behind her right into Adam's eyes. The visible longing the two have for each other indicates that this figure is the soul that will become first woman, who Man longs for even before she is embodied.

    Comic Books 
  • ElfQuest has a specific name for this trope—Recognition (which is practically a Lampshade Hanging of sorts for the supernatural version of the trope). "Soul meets soul when eyes meet eyes"; which is a powerful biological urge to mate that pretty much guarantees healthy, gifted children.
  • Ultimate Wolverine: When Jimmy asked Kitty about Wolverine, it seemed as if he was about to kiss her.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Incredibles, Elastigirl and Mr Incredible share a rather long seductive one right after they capture a thief together during the Cold Open at the beginning of the movie. They have a similar exchange later while fighting the mooks on the island together with their kids and exchange an "I love you".
  • Ice Age:
    • The platonic version occurs in the first film, after Manny has just rescued Diego from death at the lava fields.
    • This happens again during a tense situation between the mammoth and the tiger in the third film, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs when Diego is attempting to convince Manny to let him go protect Ellie.
  • The platonic version occurs between Stoick and Gobber in DreamWork's How to Train Your Dragon (2010) when they grasp hands, looking each other in eye, before going off to distract Green Death together to buy their people some time.
  • The romantic version occurs between Hiccup and Astrid in How to Train Your Dragon 2, right after they came out of The Big Damn Kiss, and it is very short due to Gothi interrupting it.
  • In Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Spirit and Rain have a deep gaze into each other's eyes under a tree. Spirit also does this with Little Creek at least once.
  • In Tarzan, this happens between Tarzan and Jane when he first meets the girl, and they stare into each other's eyes in wonder. And again later during the "Strangers Like Me" Falling-in-Love Montage, where he pulls her close to him while they swing together on vines.
  • Aladdin: Aladdin and Jasmine share one Held Gaze early on in the movie with a sunset behind them, leading to an Almost Kiss. They do this again later on after their carpet ride, but this time it leads to a Hollywood Kiss.
  • The Lion King: At the end of Simba and Nala's Falling-in-Love Montage, the two of them gaze deeply into each other's eyes before nuzzling each other in a manner that resembles a kiss. It is also strongly implied that they mated with each other in this scene, leading to Nala getting pregnant and giving birth to their daughter Kiara at the end of the film.
  • Pocahontas: Pocahontas and John Smith share the romantic variant of the trope when they first meet and Smith lowers his gun in awe of her beauty as Pocahontas gazes into his eyes curiously.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Movie:
    • Of the romantic variety - Mario and Peach give each other these at several points in the film, like their first time meeting, before Mario nearly completes the training course, their time in the fire flower field, after Mario defeats DK, and briefly as they're holding hands before Bowser broke free of the ice at his crashed wedding.
    • We get a familial example when Mario rescues and finally reuinites with Luigi, where he breaks their hug for a few moments to hold his face against his and look him reassuringly in the eyes.
  • In Tangled, Flynn and Rapunzel share a Held Gaze before their Almost Kiss after they have watched the lanterns rise into the sky.

  • In A Brother's Price this happens before Jerin is kissed by a dashing stranger.
  • Clockpunk and the Vitalizer share one during the climax. The latter is considering whether to let her go or get beaten up further; the former's gaze is a longing one.
  • In Dragon Bones, Ward feels himself magically compelled to look into Oreg's eyes after Oreg asks him an important question. It is never made entirely clear whether it was Oreg himself who made him do that, as Ward is touching a dragon skeleton at the time. The spell is broken after Ward answers.
  • in The Silmarillion, when Melian and Elwë Singollo first meet, they stand looking into each other's eyes "while long years were measured by the wheeling stars above them; and the trees of Nan Elmoth grew tall and dark before they spoke any word." Meanwhile, his people get on the boat and leave without him; he doesn't care and stays there with Melian.
  • In the blog spin-off of Hilary McKay's Casson Family Series, Rose's Blog, Rose mentions how her Love Interest, Tom Levin, "looks and looks at me, looks until I cannot look away." It's a Lampshade Hanging, albeit an unintentional one.
  • Not surprisingly, Twilight the novel was doing exactly the same in nonvisual form.
  • In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, Harry even has a name for this—the Soulgaze, where two people catch a glimpse of each other's souls because they share a gaze.
    "For me, meeting someone's eyes is always risky. Every human being knows what I'm talking about. Try it. Walk up to someone, without speaking and look them in the eyes. There's a a certain amount of leeway for second, or two, or three. And then there's a distinct sensation of contact, of intimacy. That's when regular folks cough and look away. Wizards, though, get the full ride of a soulgaze." —Harry Dresden, White Night.
    • This is a Lampshade Hanging, as Harry is typically Genre Savvy about most things—including Real Life Shared Gaze, though in the context of The Dresden Files, it is much more supernatural than the actual trope suggests, but Harry does mention the Real Life variant.
    • Also becomes an Enforced Trope, as soulgazes only work once, so Dresden is perfectly comfortable meeting the eyes of people he's trusted enough to share a mutual glimpse of their souls with. (And Marcone.)
  • Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book references the direct gaze that when an animal views it, it signals a threat, and it comes into play during the wolf-pack meeting at the beginning when Mowgli is allowed into the pack. His ingenuous, even gaze is unsettling to the animals gathered when he looks at them, meeting their gaze for only a few seconds, as most look away quickly except for ones like Bagheera, who knows something of the ways of men.
  • In the fifth Harry Potter book, Sirius and Lupin do this.
    Lupin's eyes were fixed on Sirius.
    [39 lines later]
    "Personally," said Lupin quietly, looking away from Sirius at last.
  • David Eddings exaggerates this, like every other trope he gets his hands on, in the Belgariad prequel novels. When Riva meets his betrothed, Beldaran, they do nothing but stare at each other for hours. It's implied they do almost nothing else until they are finally married, after which they presumably get over it eventually as they have a child at some point. Polgara notes that she's seen this numerous times and it's usually a sign that their marriage was arranged by Fate.
  • Petals on the Wind. Cathy and Chris share plenty of these without even realizing it, allowing numerous people to pick up on their feelings for each other. Which is very bad, considering that they're brother and sister.
  • Hetty Feather: Hetty and Jem hold a meaningful gaze to say goodbye at his wedding reception.
  • In "The Lady, or the Tiger?", the doomed lover and his princess do this when he enters the arena to face a fatal Door Roulette. In the brief moment they look at each other, he sees that she knows which is the safe door and she sees him asking her which one to open. She gives him a secret sign... but the narrator doesn't tell us whether the door she indicated actually was the safe one.


    Video Games 
  • Sonic Adventure 2 had an instance, believe it or not. After a boss fight between Knuckles the Echidna and Rouge the Bat, the latter is about to slip off a beam into a fiery death. Knuckles manages to save her. Their gaze lasts only a few moments before Rouge roughly pulls her hand away to save face.
    • Sonic Rush also had a moment at the very end of the game where Sonic and Blaze gaze at each other and try to stop themselves from being pulled back into their dimensions. This goes on for more than a few seconds.
  • This is basically the asari version of sex in the Mass Effect series. An asari and her partner will look into each others' eyes and "embrace eternity" together, which is all but outright stated to have effects of intense pleasure similar to an orgasm for both parties. Shepard and a romanced Liara get quite a few of these (both the sexual kind and loving kind) throughout the course of the trilogy.
  • Rule of Rose: During the introductory FMV, you can see Wendy and another girl doing this, before initiating a Headbutt of Love. It's Jennifer as a young girl, when she and Wendy swore their eternal love to one another.
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain pulls this off during a cutscene, where Venom Snake and Quiet look into each other's eyes after a heartwarming dance in the rain. It also serves as one of the biggest confirmations that they're in love with each other.
  • In Hyrule Warriors, Link and Zelda do this when they see each other for the first time.
  • One famous moment in Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening is where Dante and Lady have a very intimate held gaze.
  • In Tomodachi Life, dating and married Mii couples do this a lot, but all they just do is stare at each other with their "happy" expressions (with hearts flying over their heads if at the apartments or their houses). Strangely, they never kiss.
  • In Miitopia, when two Miis' reach relationship levels 2-5, they will nod their heads and look over at each other, though it's more of a friendly kind rather than seductive. When their relationship goes much higher, they do this much more obviously, gazing shalemessly at each other with heart eyes, all while floating in midair and spinning.
  • This is seen a fair few times during Cullen's romance arc in Dragon Age: Inquisition.

    Web Comics 
  • The Dreamer: Between Beatrice and Alexander—during an argument, no less.
  • This meme-starting comic from Hark! A Vagrant has fun with this trope.
  • Done frequently with Milk And Mocha with the title characters staring into each other's eyes. This can be very occasionally subverted for laughs if Milk is looking at snacks instead, and Mocha is unaware.
  • In the "Kings War" arc of Roommates, the supernatural version of this is used to resolve the conflict. The leaders of both parties do it and see a possible future about the other winning in the gaze...and realize that it's one and the same.

    Web Original 
  • Donnie DuPre from Demo Reel does this with nearly every single cast member, male or female. Let's just say there's a reason why he personally asked for Slash Fic.
  • In RWBY Ruby and Jaune have one at the end of their heart-to-heart in the remains of Oniyuri.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Poison Ivy does this briefly with Batman in her debut episode, pausing to smirk seductively at him before shutting her eyes and leaning in for a passionate goodnight kiss.
  • Couples on Phineas and Ferb often employ this trope for Ship Tease. For instance, Ferb and Vanessa share one when he first meets her, and Phineas and Isabella have also held each other's gaze - most notably in the special Summer Belongs to You!, when they are stranded on the island, and in "Act Your Age," when they become a couple.
  • In Disney's House of Mouse, on the episode "Max's Embarrassing Date", Max and Roxanne stare into each other's eyes before they Almost Kiss, wherein Minnie interrupts them.
  • Arcane: Caitlyn and Vi share a tender moment after a very, very long day. Curled up on Caitlyn's bed, Vi tells a story about her failure to protect her sister Powder which causes Caitlyn to comfort her, complete with stroking Vi's cheek and gazing into each others eyes while holding hands.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has a few of these. One with Mai and Zuko in the Boiling Rock episodes after being forced to lock the cell door on her (this one is more of deep hurt though), one with Suki and Sokka on the Serpent's Pass leading to an Almost Kiss. Finally, there's one between Aang and Katara which leads to The Big Damn Kiss and end of the series.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Mako and Korra share several of these throughout Book One, with arguably the most conventional example nearly ending in an Almost Kiss in the two-part season finale. They do get The Big Damn Kiss, but it comes a bit later, once much of the underlying drama has been resolved.
    • In the final scene of the entire series, after an entire season's worth of Ship Tease and nudges, Korra and Asami, of all people, share one of these—complete with holding hands whilst facing one another—as they're teleported into the Spirit World by Republic City's newly-created Spirit Portal.
  • Kick Buttowski had this going on with Kick and Kendall, complete with Kick leaning her backwards and complimenting one another. However, the trance was broken when a kid off screen shouted that he should kiss her.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Hearts and Hooves Day", Big Macintosh and Cheerilee do this while under the influence of the Cutie Mark Crusaders' love potion. In fact, the only way to break the spell is to break the gaze for an hour.
  • The fourth season finale of Teen Titans sees Robin and Starfire sharing a significant look right before Robin leaves with Slade to try rescuing Raven.
  • The Beetlejuice episode "Prince Of The Neitherworld" has lugubrious royalty Prince Vince do this when he first sets eyes on Lydia. He's absolutely smitten by her—Lydia is rather disinterested but still cordial to him.
  • Kim Possible and her best friend Ron Stoppable gazed at each other like this in the ending to Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama before finally having The Big Damn Kiss.
  • A heartbreaking one in Star Wars Rebels. Having been blinded in an earlier mission, Kanan later uses the Force to hold back a giant fireball that endangers the life of his two surrogate children and the woman he loves, all of whom are trying to escape on a carrier. In his final moment he turns back to look at Hera, and his milky eyes clear — letting them truly see each other just before he Force-pushes the carrier away and is consumed by fire.
  • In She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Hordak holds the gaze of two people. In "Huntara" and "Failsafe", he shares a held gaze with Entrapta, the woman he loves. At the end of "Heart, Part 2", he shares a held gaze with She-Ra after she exorcises Horde Prime's spirit from his body and he remembers the moment he rescued her as a baby.

    Real Life 
  • Studies have been determining that people naturally break eye contact after two seconds, any longer than that subconsciously establishes a deeper, closer connection. A study happened where couples who knew each other were told to look into each other's eyes for over a minute; nearly all the couples reported liking the person more afterwards - and several even ended up married!
  • Often people's first flirtings are eye contact and held gazes.
  • Aversion: while true for H. sapiens, when other primates (and many other animals) lock gazes, that is a threat display. Because of this, some zoos have have signs near the monkey enclosure warning visitors to not look directly into the monkeys' eyes because it will scare them. Staring into your pet cat or dog's eyes can also make them uncomfortable. This can happen with humans too, in some circumstances: sustained eye contact can be perceived as a challenge. Responses can range from breaking eye contact (conceding defeat) all the way to retaliatory violence.
    "What are you looking at?"
  • It has been speculated that humans evolved "whites of the eyes" (visible sclera) to enhance nonverbal communication by making it easier to tell what direction people are looking towards. According to the Other Wiki, dogs, during their domestication, developed the ability to pick up visual cues from the eyes of humans.
  • The "Staring Contest" game, often played in Real Life, because it is so much fun to try and break another's gaze off of your own.
  • Naturally, this type of gaze between romantic partners appears often enough in Real Life - it is often employed during wedding ceremonies.
  • Cats use a particular variant in which they will look into your eyes, blink slowly, and then turn their gaze away (the theory is that this is a demonstration of being not-a-threat). This is a sign of affection/acceptance, and is a heck of a useful tool in establishing a friendly relationship with said cat.


Video Example(s):


You are my twin soul.

While Daisy's husband talk about an expression for twin souls, Daisy and Billy hold each others gaze.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / HeldGaze

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