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Irisless Eye Mask of Mystery

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"Awright, awright... Just point those creepy blank eyeballs somewhere else, okay?"
Access, Marvel Versus DC

Thanks to the magic of creators cutting corners to save time and money, a character's irises suddenly disappear when he puts on a mask. In Comics and Western Animation, this is all but omnipresent, and has been since around 1950.

Common reasons for this design include making characters appear mysterious and/or threatening. And then some simply do it for Rule of Cool.

Also compare with Expressive Mask.

Note: Characters who have this incorporated into the design of their masks when it is off (e.g., Spider-Man and the Clone Troopers) or already have Monochromatic Eyes do not count for this trope.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Suiren from Battle Spirits Shonen Toppa Bashin wears this kind of mask.
  • Darker than Black: Hei as the Black Reaper is of the completely black variety. It seemingly has no eyeholes and just have eyes and mouth seemingly painted on it, making it perfect for concealing his Secret Identity and adding to his "Black Grim Reaper" persona's mystery.
  • Gundam: A standard but not guaranteed property of the assorted Char Clones' masks.
  • Haunted Junction: Red Mantle, being an expy of Tuxedo Mask, has a mask that has this effect.
  • My Hero Academia: Tenya Iida projects this when he wears his Ingenium helmet. Averted occasionally, especially in close-ups.
    • Subverted by Tenya's brother Tensei, whose helmet renders his eyes invisible behind its visor.
    • Gran Torino's black domino mask does this in his 'senile old man' persona, but his iris appears when he gets serious, especially during Izuku's internship with him. Apparently, his mask was always irisless in his younger years as shown in some flashbacks.
    • Other characters known to have this include: the hero Tiger of Wild, Wild Pussycats; the villain Twice; and the vigilante Knuckleduster.
  • Sailor Moon: Tuxedo Mask wears a mask that whites out his eyes in the anime adaptation. In the manga (and by extension Sailor Moon Crystal, the artist averted this by giving him fully visible eyes.
    • Zigzagged with Sailor V: in (In-Universe) promotional images of her and the very first time the other senshi meet her, she plays this straight, yet the A Day in the Spotlight episode focusing on Minako's past as Sailor V has her with visible eyes (as does a video game version of her). Again, Crystal and the predecessor manga Codename: Sailor V averts this altogether.
  • In Star Driver, all members of Kiraboshi wear this kind of masks.
  • Tiger & Bunny: As this is an Affectionate Parody of superheroes, inevitably a few characters (those being Fire Emblem, Origami Cyclone and Mr. Legend) have this as part of the design of their superhero alter egos.

    Comic Books 
  • The most notable hero to have this trope as part of their design is Batman. He has this feature in all other adaptations as well, with the exception of live-action ones (since it'd be really hard for the actors to see otherwise) and recent video games.
    • For most Batfamily members, this is explained by the fact that the cowls contain special lenses for Goggles Do Something Unusual purposes. This is a generally accepted fan theory, however, in close-ups we can see that there isn't anything in Batman's eyeholes. Either its artistic expression or it's just the way criminals see him because he's so damn scary. In the Batman Arkham videogames is shown this is how his eyes look when he's using detective vision, suggesting it's a feature that can be turned on and off.
    • Explicitly noted by Access during the Marvel Versus DC crossover (see the page quote), in contrast to Captain America, also in the scene, who has much wider eye holes on his mask and fully visible irises.
    • Batman has always been depicted like this (except when portrayed by Alex Ross, who averts this tropenote ), but a few artists (such as George Perez) have drawn Robin and Nightwing with proper eyes under their masks.
    • Usually (but not always) averted in Batman '66, as fitting the way Adam West and Burt Ward looked in costume.
    • Usually (but not always) averted in historical Elseworlds, which adds credence to the theory there's some kind of lens in there that a 19th century Batman wouldn't have.
    • Female characters, such as Batgirl and Harley Quinn, have wider eye holes on their cowls and their irises are full visible.
  • Other DC Comics examples who are usually designed this way are Atom Smasher, Aztek, Crimson Avenger, Doctor Fate, Firestorm, Green Arrow and Arsenal/Speedy (Roy Harper), Green Lantern (with a couple exceptions such as John Stewart and Kilowog, who don't wear masks), Grifter, Hawk and Dove, Hawkman, Orion, Steel, Wildcat, and various other Batfamily characters (Catwoman being a notable exception).
  • Watchmen: All the masked characters play this trope straight with the exception of Rorschach, whose mask completely obscures his face, and Ozymandias, who (perhaps unintentionally) borders on Expressive Mask (complete with the mask wrinkling when he frowns- in the original comic, at least. He's pointedly this trope in Before Watchmen).
  • Averted and occasionally lampshaded by The Spirit, who has big blue expressive irises to show.
  • The Flash is an extremely rare subversion — his eyes have always been drawn normally under that mask, and this has been consistent between the various Legacy Characters who have taken up the Flash mantle, as well as Wally West's kid sidekicks Jai and Iris. However, Wally had iris-less masked eyes during the period between issues 50 and 130 and would return to this for a while in 2010, just a year before The New 52. This trope was averted for awhile with Wallys return in DC Rebirth, but is now played straight again with his suits from The Flash (Infinite Frontier) onwards.
  • Some Marvel superhero examples:
    • Captain America averts this, though Bucky Barnes zigzags this by being depicted with irisless eyes and normal eyes at other times.
    • Daredevil: Though possibly justified as the character is blind.
      • It's often implied that the eye holes in Daredevil's mask are opaque, due to the fact that Depending on the Artist (Joe Quesada, for example), Matt Murdock's eyes are plainly non-functional.
    • Deadpool is an interesting case. During his earlier appearances, when unmasked, his eyes were really blank-white (seemingly also result of Weapon X treatment along with bad skin condition). Since character's popularity skyrocketed, though, he's been usually drawn as much less hideous and having normal human eyes underneath the mask.
    • The original Ms. Marvel, though it was also zigzagged: in some stories, it did appear like this; in others, Carol's eyes were fully seen (in such cases, the mask didn't completely cover the area around her eyes). Averted with Kamala.
    • Wolverine: Plays this trope straight when in costume, though his first appearance subverted this trope, with some panels depicting with and without iris-less masked eyes.
    • Iron Man's older armors are aversions of the trope because the helmets didn't have computerized lenses. This is mostly seen in flashbacks in more recent issues, however.
  • In all its forms, the mask of the Fantastic Four archenemy Doctor Doom constantly averts this trope. Doom's mask has a heads-up display both within the lenses and surrounding them. Not only are Doom's irises visible whenever Doom is roughly facing the viewer, but also some of the damaged tissue around his eyes, an allusion to his brash action with that same metal mask that left Doom's face badly disfigured.
  • The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were designed this way in the original comics. The only other media to retain this look from the comics was the 2003 cartoon (though the last season gave them irises, and the 2012 show uses them whenever things get serious). The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles originally had Irisless eyemasks to simulate Glowing Eyes of Doom, without actually making their eyes glow. When they gave the turtles visible irises? They looked cute instead, regardless of how menacing they make their faces look. In the 2012 show, this is justified as their nictitating membrane, a quality independent of their masks also present in Leatherhead when he goes into an Unstoppable Rage.
  • Empowered has Empy herself and a few other heroes.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Phantom, who is the Trope Maker, preceding Batman by three years. Lee Falk explained his choice with that it reminded him of the statues from Ancient Greece, and it made The Phantom more godlike. This would later turn into the Phantom Curse, that tells that anyone who sees the Phantoms Eyes will die a horrible death (and this meaning that to this Day there is always a convenient shadow covering the Phantoms Face whenever he shows his unmasked face to the reader.
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin's two fantasy alter egos, Spaceman Spiff (a Flash Gordon parody) and Stupendous Man (a superhero parody) both have masks with blank irises.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy: These films usually avert this trope, but on one occasion in The Dark Knight, he acquires this look via a Sonic imager in his mask.
  • Averted with Batman's main suit in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but played straight with his armored suit.
  • Averted with the first battle suit constructed by Tony Stark in Iron Man, which had open eyeholes in the helmet. Subsequent constructions of the Iron Man armor have this trope in play, as Stark prefers a heads-up tactical display to peeking out eyeholes. As a practical matter, eyeholes tend to funnel debris, shards and sharps toward the wearer's eyes, rather than deflect them like the rest of the headpiece. Preferable is a resilient, transparent material that blocks the eyeholes and shields the eyes; the blankness can be Hand Waved as gloss from the shield's outer surface.
  • Partly done in Green Lantern (2011), where it's by design, as the mask's purpose is to hide Hal's identity (however poorly). The eyes are still visible but are covered by a whitish glow. Additionally, the mask isn't real, being merely a Ring construct.

    Video Games 
  • BlazBlue: Relius Clover always wears an opera mask that makes him seem to have Monochromatic Eyes.
  • Everybody Edits Flash: While smileys usually have Black Bead Eyes, the Robber smiley's eyes instead appear as pure white, distinguishing them from the black Domino Mask it's wearing.
  • F-Zero: Many of the playable characters don mask/helmets with these.
    • Captain Falcon: depending on the media, hints about this trope have been zig-zagging around him for years. The trope is sometimes played straight as the visor has eyeholes, sometimes subverted as the visor has no holes and the "eyes" are just a stylized glow.
  • Tizoc (AKA Griffon Mask) from the SNK-produced games Garou: Mark of the Wolves and The King of Fighters series always wears a mask that gives him this look.
  • While Kirby already has Monochromatic Eyes, there's a close relative of this trope in Kirby and the Forgotten Land: when using the Meta Knight sword, Kirby puts said warrior's mask on, which somehow leads to his eyes turning yellow. The mask clearly doesn't do the same for Meta Knight, however, as his eyes remain yellow when he is unmasked.
  • Mortal Kombat: Scorpion is a unique example. His mask doesn't just blank out his eyes, it's responsible for making him look like he has a face at all; when he removes it, all that's left of his head is a skull. Which is on fire.
  • Viewtiful Joe
  • This is The Wonderful 101's signature.

    Web Comics 
  • In Flying Sparks, Chloë Anderson's mask has this effect when she is Meta-Girl.
    • So does the mask worn by Meredith, the hooded black-haired woman who fought Meta-Girl.
  • Magick Chicks: Tiffany's mask typically has the effect of whiting out her irises whenever she wears it, as her MMAA disguise (which makes her look similar to Spinnerette) The mask itself is still expressive, which is best seen here, though there was one occasion where her irises were visible while she wore it.
  • Averted by some characters in Miss Melee - MM herself has them, but Kid Melee’s eyes are drawn naturally behind bubble lenses in her mask, and Osakan Riot doesn’t wear a mask at all, preferring brightly-coloured face paint.

    Western Animation 
  • The Ambiguously Gay Duo from the animated Saturday Night Live segments of the same name wear masks that white out their eyes.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Zuko's alter ego of the Blue Spirit wears a mask of the completely black variety. His mask presumably has black glass covering its eyeholes, since they appear black even when fully illuminated. This, of course, helps hide his Secret Identity, since major characters tend to be very good at seeing through disguises in this universe.
    • In the sequel series, The Legend of Korra, Amon averts this by having barely noticeable pupils that are hidden within the shadow of his mask.
  • Darkwing Duck: The eponymous character's design generally averts this. However, in one episode in which he became a Knight Templar '90s Anti-Hero in a Bad Future after Gosalyn disappeared, he was given a design with a mask to fit his Darker and Edgier outlook and appearance.
  • DuckTales (1987): Scrooge McDuck, during a brief stint as the costumed vigilante in "The Masked Mallard", donned a mask that had this effect.
  • Gargoyles: All of the Hunters of the present time of Gargoyles wore masks that have this effect. The Hunters of the past, however, were shown to avert this.
  • Hong Kong Phooey averts this. In the cartoon, the eye holes follow his eye movements (furrowed brow, etc.) but in the Charlton comics, the eye holes stay inert regardless of Phooey's eye movements.
  • Justice League: Some characters who don't have this design in the comics, most notably The Flash (who is an aversion in the comics with visible and detailed eyes) in the original series and Unlimited, have this design.
    • However, this is likely just an artifact of it being Wally West under the mask (see under comic books above).
  • Loonatics Unleashed: When first unveiled to the public, the six Loonatics had irisless eyes while in uniform, as an indicator that these characters derived from Looney Tunes were being recast as Darker and Edgier superheroes, and when fighting villains, they would no longer play nice. However, fan backlash compelled Warner Bros. to modify the Loonatics' styling to include irises, except when using their Magic Meteor superpowers.
  • Space Ghost: Though the character was never shown unmasked on-screen, artwork by Alex Toth shows what he looked like without his cowl.
    • In the 2016 comic series Future Quest, this becomes averted when we see a young Space Ghost with glowing eyes before he had the cowl.
  • Static Shock: While the character's irislessness is from Glowing Eyes of Doom via electrokinesis in the comics, but in the television adaptation this design is averted by giving the eponymous hero visible irises behind his mask. However, his older self as shown in Justice League Unlimited plays this trope straight by having white eyes without the Glowing Eyes of Doom.
  • The eponymous character of Stripperella.
  • Jake Clawson and Chance Furlong have normal irises while working in Megakat City's scrapyard. However, when villains threaten Megakat City, they become the SWAT Kats Razor and T-Bone. They wear bandannas tied around the tops of their heads that make their eyes seem irisless, an understandable precaution to prevent Commander Feral or any of his Enforcers from recognizing them.
  • The Batman, being a Batman animated series, naturally has this. A notable example, though, it's Batgirl, who is usually shown without this effect due to having larger eyeholes in her mask. The animesque style makes it easier, due to her normal face sporting large eyes.

Alternative Title(s): Irisless Eye Mask