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No Eye in Magic

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"The eyes are not the windows of the soul, they are the doors. Beware what may enter there."
The Doctor reading from a book, Doctor Who, "The Time of Angels"

A quick search of this site will let you know that eyes are the windows to the soul. Well, sometimes in a Fantasy setting, these windows not only let outsiders see inside, they can also be wide open and allow power or information in or out.

Basically, certain magic requires the caster to make eye contact with the object of the spell in order to work properly.

This is because spells that produce significant effects on thoughts, individuality and/or physicality of people or objects (like Mind Control, Mind Reading or Petrification) can involve a massive amount of power that must be applied in a very controlled manner. As luck would have it, the optic nerve is pretty much a direct pathway to the brain, so these spells can be better focused and more effectively received through the eyes. This means, some magic is more powerful if you're looking directly at your target; in fact, some magic might not work at all if you're not looking at your target. This is taken to its logical extreme with Deadly Gaze and Eye Beams.

Because of this line-of-sight requirement, the object of the spell can usually avoid it by hiding behind a conveniently-available large object, covering him/herself with something, or simply not looking back at the caster. Blind characters will sometimes be immune to this, depending on the nature of the spell. Following the same idea, indirect eye contact is usually considered safe. That is, these spells generally don't work via reflection or broadcast (unless modified for that purpose), or can lessen the effects. An auditory variation might involve avoiding the effects of a Compelling Voice by listening to recordings instead of the actual source.

That's where this trope comes in, when someone successfully avoids getting hit with eye contact magic by avoiding eye contact, or when it's specifically stated a certain characteristic of the recipient can render this type of magic useless on him, regardless of how directly or intensely the caster is looking at them.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Two separate ninja powers in Basilisk are based on eye contact. The Dojutsu turns an attacker's aggression against themselves, leading to some spectacularly bloody suicides. Oboro's mystic eyes have the power to nullify another ninja's abilities as long as eye contact is held, leading to the very satisfying death of the vilest ninja of the series.
  • In Bleach: Aizen's shikai can only influence people after a ritual is performed that his targets need to witness. As a result, Tousen is immune to the power because he's blind. Of course all this does is show that when Tousen joined his cause it was of his own free will.
  • In Code Geass, many Geass, each with different abilities, work through eye contact, but it doesn't need to be direct — for example, at one point Lelouch uses dozens of small mirrors to catch a glimpse of his target's eyes. On the other hand, thick visors will block it (regular glass won't), and seeing a TV image of his eyes won't work.
  • Darker than Black has a mild case of eye motif, so this happens.
    • In the first season, a body possessor needed eye contact. Among other things, he discovered that head movements are limited when another guy presses him into a fence using tight strangling wire.
    • Another season 1 Contractor, Shihoko, can make a person's organs rupture via eye contact. At one point, Amagiri prevents her from killing someone by covering her eyes.
    • Second season, one Contractor, August 7, is a Reality Warper who can pretty much do anything so long as he's looking at you. He's not very competent though, and is defeated in about 5 minutes or less after the Anti-Hero just throws his Badass Longcoat over August's head and electrocutes him.
      • That's probably less incompetence on August 7's part and more super competence on Hei's. After all, August 7 shows up just fine at the end of the season.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Because Erza's right eye is fake, any spells that work through eye contact only have half the effect on her. She still sees illusions but also recognizes them for what they are automatically, and a petrifying glare that lasted indefinitely on others wore off on Erza within a few hours.
    • Evergreen can turn people to stone with eye contact, but it doesn't work if she or her target is wearing glasses. The same applies to Bickslow and his Figure Eyes, which is why he wears a visor.
    • It's eventually revealed this is the purpose of Capricorn's Cool Shades: When worn by himself or others (such as Lucy using her Star Dress: Capricorn Form), they protect the user from vision-based magics.
  • Shoto Aizawa, Eraser Head, has a quirk that operates like this in My Hero Academia. He can nullify quirks that aren’t constantly active but must be looking at his target and if he blinks, the effect ends. Shigaraki tries to nullify Aizawa by gouging his eyes out. However, he only succeeds in blinding Aizawa in one eye. It does, however, succeed in taking Aizawa out of the fight.
  • In Naruto, genjutsu are usually initiated through physical senses, and most genjutsu cast by the Sharingan use sight with eye contact. Izanami is the exception, which is why Itachi could use it on Kabuto even after he was fighting entirely by hearing and feel.
  • In Saint Seiya, Perseus Algol exhibits a similar petrification power to the mythical Medusa— not through his own eyes, but through the image of Medusa in his shield. This power could affect his victims through cloth or blindfolds, because it acted directly on the retina. The recipient could protect themselves with Dragon cloth's shield, however, and it doesn't work on the blind either, which leads to a very unpleasant Eye Scream moment.

    Comic Books 
  • One of the only things that will save someone from Ghost Rider's infamous Penance Stare is having more than two eyes (or be totally blind).
  • In Smurf vs. Smurf, Papa Smurf uses an eye contact magic spell on Gargamel the wizard so that the two of them would switch appearances and that Papa Smurf would be able to stop the Smurfs from fighting over their language differences. During this, however, Gargamel breaks into Papa Smurf's laboratory and finds the magic words so that he can make eye contact with Papa Smurf and transform back to their original appearances.
  • Jericho from Teen Titans can possess anyone he makes eye contact with. Cyborg is immune because his eyes are mechanical.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Wondy fights Medusa whose stone gaze only works on those who look her in the eye — however, she's got a Compelling Voice that can force even those who know better to look at her and the gaze also works through cameras. Those hit by the gaze are killed and their souls immediately transferred to Hades regardless of their beliefs.
  • Alan Ford: Minuette Macon can use magic, but she has two serious limits: first, anything she conjures is a realistic illusion that doesn't last long, and second, in order to do any sort of magic on someone she needs to clearly see the target in the eyes.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Hotel Transylvania Jonathan's contact lenses make him immune to Dracula's mind control powers.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Comes with the territory when referencing the myth of Perseus; Clash of the Titans also had the hero using a reflective object to avoid making eye contact with Medusa.
  • A Native American magic potion in Like Father Like Son (1987) allows two persons to transfer their souls into each other's bodies by making eye contact with each other. Dudley Moore's character mistakes the potion for Tabasco sauce, which he then puts into his drink, and then he makes eye contact with his son (played by Kirk Cameron), and the two of them end up switching bodies.
  • The Neuralizer in Men in Black fits this trope, albeit technological rather than magical. They flash in someone's eyes to erase a period of memories and can be protected against by normal looking sunglasses.
  • An inversion: Kel Mitchell's character in Mystery Men claims he can turn invisible, but only if no one can see him, a power most of the others think he's imagined until he uses it to get past a magical automated turret.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Percy, Grover and Annabeth encounter Medusa, much like they do in the book. Percy uses an iPod Touch to glimpse ahead before turning corners because reflection is the only safe way to see Medusa without getting Petrified. Medusa also wears sunglasses when in public to prevent turning others to stone.
  • Played straight and then subverted in the made-for-TV film Momentum (2003). It's a known fact (among certain circles) that telekinetics require a line-of-sight on their target in order to be able to manipulate it. However, when Addison (the former head of Project Momentum) has captured Geiger's daughter Tristen and gloats over Geiger (the leader of the telekinetic rebels) by showing her tied up and blindfolded (because of this trope) on a TV screen. Geiger manages to untie her remotely through the TV, much to Addison's shock. Geiger explains that he's trained himself to do things that Addison can't even dream of.
  • Bird Box: The owner of the house suggests looking for the creatures through the CCTV security system, since the cameras use thermal imaging and the video footage is digitalized, thereby bypassing whatever mechanism makes people kill themselves. He's unfortunately wrong.

  • In the Anita Blake series, vampires' mind magic works better with eye contact. One rather important thing Anita found out early was that this scales with a vampire's power: a young vampire can't get her with or without, but with master vampire, it took her from "I'm not even trying here" to Mind Rape in nothing flat. A good chunk of the introduction to the series is Anita describing herself trying to look tough while at the same time avoiding the vampires' eyes, so as to keep out of their magical control.
  • Artemis Fowl has the fairy 'Mesmer' ability, which — with direct eye contact — allows the fairy to hypnotize and control a person. Reflective lenses such as shades will block it (and, on one memorable occasion, mirror-surfaced contact-lenses are used to covertly block a Mesmer), but it CAN be conveyed across video-link, albeit at a significant power-loss. (Strong-willed people can shrug off Mesmer if it's by video. With direct eye-contact, the best you can hope for is to resist violently enough to die rather than carry out the commands of your fairy master).
  • In Children of the Red King, Manfred has Hypnotic Eyes. To his annoyance, they don't work on Billy because his albinism gives him poor eyesight.
  • In the Daughters of the Moon series, it's established that looking directly into the eyes of a follower is usually what allows them to enters one's mind.
  • A variant in which the "monster" is voluntarily making its power ineffective, Discworld gorgons are able to function as productive members of society as long as they wear sunglasses.
  • In The Dresden Files, when a wizard looks directly into someone else's eyes, they can see the essence of that person's soul. This ability is called a "soulgaze". Unfortunately, this is an automatic effect, once it's activated it can't be stopped, and since it's eye-to-eye it's very much reciprocal, so the other person sees into the wizard's soul as well. The other downside is that no matter what you see, it cannot be forgotten. The memory will always remain just as fresh and clear in your head as when it happened, and its all too easy to see some very traumatic things in a soulgaze. For this reason, Harry himself spends most of the series avoiding direct eye contact with people, unless he has a good reason for it, or has already soulgazed them, since it can only happen between two people once (however, personhood in this setting is somewhat mutable — so that if a person has undergone an experience that has fundamentally changed them, a new soulgaze is possible). That said, should Harry look at a being who doesn't have a soul, like a fairy or demon, he doesn't have to worry about that.
  • Some of the spells in the Harry Potter series are like this.
    • In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the main villain put a spell on Harry's broom during a Quidditch game to make him fall off. Hermione stops the spell by accidentally knocking over the caster, which causes him to lose eye contact with Harry.
    • In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets the basilisk can kill someone just by looking at them in the eye — fortunately, the only people we see who have encountered it in this generation manage to not quite look it in the eye: they see it in a puddle of water, through a camera lens, or in a mirror, so it doesn't quite kill them, instead stunning them into petrification. Weirdest of all, one person was petrified by seeing it through a ghost. The ghost was petrified instead of killed because he was already dead. One girl fifty years ago wasn't as lucky. She now haunts the very bathroom she died in, as Moaning Myrtle. Rendering the basilisk blind makes it lose its killing gaze.
    • There is also Legilimency, the ability to extract emotions and memories from a person's mind, which usually works via eye-to-eye contact. Dumbledore, Snape and Voldemort are expert Legilimentes, and scattered through the series (even before we learned what Legilimency was in Order of the Phoenix) we can find instances where Harry felt they could "read his mind". Almost a "missed" example, but once or twice Harry does look away from their gaze; initially the reader would just assume he felt uncomfortable under scrutiny — now we know better.
  • In the Heralds of Valdemar series, magic works a bit like a ranged weapon — if you can't 'see' your target, you can't be certain of getting the right effect. (While some mages do cast spells without a direct target, this is explictly thoughtless and wasteful). It works most notably with the main long-distance travel spell, the Gate, which can only connect you to a destination you can clearly visualize. The world's version of telekinesis works the same way, while mind-to-mind communication is strongest if you know the mind you're trying to connect to. However, there are various 'sight' abilities that expand a caster's range beyond his physical sight.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy mentions the Bugblatter Beast of Traal, a creature so phenomenally stupid that it believes that if you can't see it, it can't see you. Keeping a towel over your head will keep you safe.
  • Hurog: A basilisk appears in Dragon Bones. Instead of turning its victims to stone (someone points out that turning prey into something inedible doesn't make much sense), it hypnotizes its victims and then eats them. Ward fights off the basilisk with his eyes closed until his very powerful wizard friend can turn the basilisk to stone using magic.
  • Ryk E. Spoor's Jason Wood: In the last section of Digital Knight, "Mirror Image", Jason is up against the Maelkodan, a creature which was the original inspiration for the Medusa. Looking into its eyes allows the thing to consume your soul. After a chase that destroys a large portion of the town of Venice, FL, Jason defeats the creature by putting on mirrored sunglasses while apparently helpless and face-down, so when the creature grabs him and turns him over — it's looking right into its own eyes.
  • The Machineries of Empire: The Andan faction need to make eye contact to use their enthrallment ability, which turns their eyes vivid blue. Once enthralled, the Andan can then control a person until they choose to let them go.
  • In Mermaids of Eriana Kwai, mermaids can hypnotize men with their magical allure. One year, the government of Eriana Kwai attempted to use this trope by blinding nineteen warriors before sending them out to fight the mermaids. Only one sighted man was left to navigate. It didn't work - the mermaids' voices and smell had the same effect. All twenty warriors were killed.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Percy, Grover and Annabeth encounter the actual Medusa from Greek Myth. Percy sees her through a glass ball, so he doesn't get Petrified.
  • Weird variant: In Perdido Street Station, anyone looking at a slake-moth's wings would fall into a hypnotic trance. Looking at a reflection of the wings was safe, because the image was inverted right-to-left, but looking at a reflection of the reflection was not, because the image seen would then be identical to the actual wings. Strange helmets and periscopes incorporating an odd number of mirrors were developed by slake-moth handlers to take advantage of this effect.
  • Similarly, in The Seventh Tower, anyone who wants to use a sunstone to produce light magic has to be able to see it—otherwise, they'll just be able to make it glow harmlessly. Consequently, blind people can't do light magic, and blindness is portrayed as a major phobia of the Chosen.
  • In Shaman of the Undead, the Bond Creature Biter eats Ida's dreams. In order to watch those dreams, Ida has to look in his eyes. She describes it as the eyes appearing to become bigger until the image in them covers her entire vision.
  • In Tales of the Otori, the hero develops an ability to render people unconscious by looking them in the eye. The first time he does it to a human is by accident, and for a while afterwards he avoids eye contact with everyone he meets in case it happens again.
  • The title Shamers in the The Shamer Chronicles series of books are so named for their ability to elicit shamed confessions from even the most hardened of wrongdoers simply by looking them in the eyes. Shamers can use their voice too, though it doesn't work as well and is harder.
  • Villains by Necessity: Kaylana can briefly control people or animals' minds if she looks them in the eyes.
  • Played with in The Wheel of Time series: Magic is done by weaving together tendrils of power into complex forms. It's been directly stated that you have to know exactly where your weave is going, and if you can't see the object you're working magic on, you generally can't put a "weave" (spell) on it. There have been cases of expert, talented, or just lucky channelers using magic in considerable, though perhaps not complete, darkness. It's never directly stated, but this may well be what makes Healing and Compulsion so difficult.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Alphas, Nina's "pushing" ability (mind control, essentially) only works if she has direct eye contact with a person. Sunglasses are capable of nullifying it, as is a significantly unusual/different mind — Gary, with his autism — or someone who has trained to block it — Rosen — but that's another trope altogether.
  • Doctor Who: Inverted with the Weeping Angels, which are only dangerous if you don't look at them. A later retcon plays it straight, though, as they can also destroy you if you look them straight in the eye. So, basically, you have to look at them or you're dead, but not at the eyes — in which case you're also dead.
  • Haven:
    • Chris Brody involuntarily causes people to fawn over him. Nathan learns to avoid it by not looking directly at him. However, it works over Skype.
    • Jackie Clark makes anybody who looks into her eyes see their greatest fear. She spoke to her boyfriend while wearing sunglasses. When Ian kidnapped her, he slapped some welding goggles on her so he wouldn't be affected.
    • Another has the Trouble of transforming those she looks at into their insecurities. A bodybuilding friend is turned back into the 90-pound weakling he used to be and her bigoted mother into a frightened child. Her overweight girlfriend is immune because she's long since come to terms with her appearance, which is the cure for the already afflicted.
  • Lucifer (2016): Lucifer can make people reveal their inner desires and darkest secrets. However, he must maintain eye contact to get them to profess and or act upon those desires. The Sinnerman was able to exploit this weakness by gouging out his eyes.
  • The Tales from the Darkside episode "Miss May Dusa" featured a lady who turns anyone she makes eye contact with into a mannequin. She wears sunglasses to avoid this, and dates a blind guy.
  • Warehouse 13 has an episode where a talisman that animated the Golem of Prague unwittingly animates the computer virus a hacker heir used to peep on women through their webcams. The virus only animated because the webcam served as an eye to channel the magic. Subsequently any victim that sees their webcam gets infected, and eventually dies from a slow transformation into clay. An anti-virus needs to be coded and animated to solve the problem.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • In Perseus myth, Perseus looked at the Gorgon through a mirror or his shield so he didn't get killed by looking directly at it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Ars Magica:
    • Some spells have the range "Eye", which means the mage must make eye contact with the target for the spell to take effect. This restriction makes them easier to cast than other spells that work at range.
    • Hermetic magic can only affect targets that the mage can perceive in some way. As such, the greatest possible spell range without using Sympathetic Magic is "Sight", which simply requires the mage to be able to see the target at any distance.
  • Standard for most Dungeons & Dragons monsters with "gaze weapons", such as the basilisk, vampire, catoblepas, floating eye, medusa and spirit naga.
    • Depending on the Writer, some versions could kill or petrify themselves by looking in a mirror, even if others could view them safely that way.
    • Averted, though, with the iconic beholder, whose various eye beams will work on their targets just fine whether they look back or not.
  • In Nomine: Demons called Lilim can see a person's desires by looking in their eyes. This power can be blocked by wearing sunglasses.
  • In both World of Darkness vampire games, vampires who use the Dominate Discipline typically have to make eye contact with their victims before they give commands. It's possible to do it without making eye contact, but it's just not as effective.
    • One bloodline of the Nosferatu, the Baddacelli, do not have working eyes; their founder was blinded in an attack and inadvertently cursed all of his descendants to be blind. There's a sidebar in their write-up titled "But He Doesn't Have Eyes!" that discusses how "eye-contact" Disciplines might be adjusted for them.
  • The Navigators of Warhammer 40,000 are mutants with a Third Eye that lets them see the Warp. Anyone catching its gaze dies instantly and horribly, so they always wear blindfolds that do little to improve their creepy appearance.
  • The Hero System Limitation "Eye Contact Required" will turn any Mental power into one of these.

    Video Games 
  • Averted in Fate/stay night: when Shirou tries to charge at Rider (who has taken off her blindfold) with his eyes closed, she petrifies him anyway.
    • On the other hand Illya from the same game and Arcueid from Tsukihime do need to make eye contact for their mystic eyes to take effect.
    • In addition, one early choice is to either run away or drop down when facing Rider. Should you choose to run away, you see a giant eye and are turned to stone. If you drop down, the ability somehow misses you, implying Rider herself needs to directly see the target and keep it in her line of sight to use the ability.
  • One example of this in Tactics Ogre is one character you get is blind. This doesn't really affect gameplay at all except he is the only character who is immune to Medusas' stare attacks.
  • In Final Fantasy XI, there are several types of attacks that require line of sight between target and caster, called "Gaze Attacks". Interestingly, they do not require literal "eye contact"; when monsters use the attacks on players, they will 99% of the time be facing the player because of the way the hate mechanic works. However, Blue Mages can use the attacks and still face any direction; as long as the monster is looking at YOU, the spell will land.
  • Final Fantasy XIV brings back Gaze Attacks, but now they do require eye contact — if you're facing away from the enemy, they'll whiff. They tend to have an unreasonably wide area of effect and fast cast time, to make sure that turning away is the best or only option.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Final Fantasy Tactics A2 also use Gaze Attacks, mostly from the assorted variants of Floateye monsters. As with other games in the series, they're only effective if the caster and the targets are facing each other.
  • In League of Legends, Cassiopeia's Petrifying Gaze has a reduced effect on people who are looking away from her.
  • In NetHack, Floating Eyes and Medusa can't use their gaze attacks on you if you're blindfolded.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Darktide: The Psyker's Brain Burst plays with this. It requires visual contact to target an enemy, but once a target has been established, they no longer need to focus their sight when charging and unleashing the attack, allowing the Psyker to pop someone's head from behind cover. If the intended target dies before Brain Burst activates, the Psyker can keep the charge progress and switch to a new target, but must again require visual contact.
  • In World of Warcraft, the Lunatic Gaze spell is employed during the battle with insanity-inducing Eldritch Abomination Yogg-Saron. The spell does damage to any affected player and lowers their sanity (a mechanic used for the encounter; if it reaches zero, the player goes 'insane' and is mind-controlled by Yogg-Saron for the remainder of the fight). In both instances of its use (periodically by Yogg-Saron itself, or constantly by the Laughing Skulls), facing away from the caster allows a player to avoid the effects entirely.

  • Unsounded:
    • Inverted with the perceptive glamour that makes Duane appear alive, which is broken by eye contact. This applies to the readers as well, who only see his true decayed form when his eyes are exposed. It turns out to be not a limitation of the magic, but a side effect of him being a guilt-ridden Bad Liar.
    • The mystical Weeping Plague spreads by making eye contact with an infected person.

    Web Original 
  • The eyes of gaia trait in Phaeton is like this as are other as of yet unnamed eye powers.

    Western Animation 
  • In Gargoyles' "City of Stone", Demona casts a spell that affects only people who have both heard and seen it cast; Hudson's blind friend, who had been listening to it on TV, is unaffected, and the rest of the gargoyles are rendered safe when someone hits the Mute button. Later a woman is interviewed who also escaped the enchantment because she doesn't own a TV and only saw the effects. In fact, this is a general rule of human magic, although it can be broken by an Amplifier Artifact and it doesn't apply at all to Avalonian magic.
  • Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures subverts this trope. In the episode "Heroes", Jeremiah Surd transforms his Questworld avatar into Medusa in order to petrify the Quest clan. When he's got Jonny trapped, the boy makes a run for his Virtual File Finder, which has the shape of a shiny, mirrored shield. However, Jonny doesn't use the VFF to look at Medusa!Surd via reflection, he made Medusa!Surd see his own reflection in it so he would petrify himself.
  • Papa Smurf in The Smurfs episode "Romeo And Smurfette" uses an eye contact magic spell on Gargamel the wizard so that the two of them would switch appearances and that Papa Smurf would be able to stop the Smurfs from fighting over Smurfette. During this, however, Gargamel breaks into Papa Smurf's laboratory and finds the magic words so that he can make eye contact with Papa Smurf and transform back to their original appearances. Note that this scene is adapted from the European comic book story Smurf vs. Smurf (see Comicbook section).
  • In one episode of Hercules: The Animated Series, the title character fights Medusa with a shiny bronze shield which reflects her image so he can see her without turning to stone. note  And when she turns good Aphrodite gives her a pair of sunglasses that allow her to look people in the eyes without mineralizing them.
  • One episode of Jackie Chan Adventures features Jackie and the others encountering a chi-sucking vampire who drains its victims of their chi through their eyes. Jade saved Jackie from the vampire by startling it and breaking its eye contact with him.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the malevolent spirit Koh has the ability to steal your face, but only if he looks at you while you express any form of emotion. Aang barely survives his encounter, because Koh was looking away when Aang gets excited by a revelation. Koh desperately turns to face him, but by the time he does, Aang is back to his blank face, and blandly tells him "I have to go now."
  • In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002), Snake Face has the power to turn whoever looks at his transformed face to stone. It has no effect on Skeletor, since even though Skeletor can see, he doesn't have physical eyes.

Alternative Title(s): Eye Cast A Spell, No Eye Contact No Magic