Follow TV Tropes


Puppy-Dog Eyes

Go To
It's not just for puppies.

Hobbes: I still don't think giving your mom "Bambi eyes" is going to get you a flamethrower.
Calvin: Maybe I should sniffle a little too, huh?

Be they cute little girls, or perverted old men, if they want to play on your sympathy, they'll turn eyes huge and shining with unshed tears upon you.

Generally, the younger the character doing it is, the more effective.

The reason this trope exists is because in real life children's eyeballs will have grown to their full adult size by age 3, making them look disproportionately big at that time.

Often a forerunner to Ocular Gushers and Beautiful Tears. Tareme Eyes enhances the effect. Surprisingly, plays very well with a Cat Smile. Occasionally, the "victim" will respond with something along the lines of, "Don't try that trick on me: I invented that trick." Compare Resort to Pouting, which can overlap with this.

Example Subpages

Other Examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • In an old commercial for Kellogg's Corn Pops a teen has to resort to this because there's nothing else he can use against grandma to get the last bowl of cereal.

    Asian Animation 
  • BoBoiBoy: In Season 2 episode 6, Probe, having trouble finding BoBoiBoy and wanting Adu Du to give him a chance, makes puppy dog eyes at him and asks if he's ever steered him wrong. Adu Du isn't quite that convinced, immediately bringing up the one time he purchased an electric spatula by selling their spaceship.
  • 4 Angies: Kai-chan's magic spell amounts to her making adorable eyes at the person she's talking to so that she can convince them to do (or not do) something.
  • Happy Heroes: In episode 30, Little Cutie, a cleaning robot invented by Doctor H. that went rogue, attempts to distract Happy S. from attacking her by making cute-looking eyes at him. It distracts Happy S. for just long enough to give Little Cutie a chance to attack him back.
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons episode 14, Tibbie has Wilie play a game called "Rescue the Hostage" (read: she wants to free the others from a cage Wolffy has them in). As they leave, Wilie makes puppy-dog eyes at his dad Wolffy when he refuses to let him and the goats play anywhere besides the area he points out, but it doesn't work and Wilie resorts to Crocodile Tears as a distraction.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Spider-Man: It's said that the reason why Peter Parker attracts so many women is because he has big brown puppy dog eyes.
    • X-Men: The art style in the "Childhood's End" arc of New X-Men tends to give all of the kids these, but Comic Book/X23 particularly stands out. Especially when she comes to join them in the "Danger Cave" while the others are blowing off steam cosplaying old X-Men missions, as seen here.
    • Depends on the artist, but Captain America, of all people, can put this to use when he is persuading someone on a personal level - especially effective on Tony Stark. Tony practically name drops the trope in a comic when he explains his involvement in a plan he disagreed with first claiming he can never refuse anything when Steve looks at him with those big blue eyes.
  • Plastic Man: The one-short villain Sadly-Sadly uses his permanently sad face to sway crowds to his whim, even getting one to beat Plastic Man to death. He's done in when he laughs it up at the funeral, getting a sock from a very-much-alive Plastic Man (which, for good measure, paralyzes his face) and a trip to jail.

    Comic Strips 
  • Adam@home: Katie practices doing this in the hope of getting a puppy dog, aptly enough, and later she actually uses it on her father, to his dismay. Then Adam's wife demonstrates that she can do it as well.
  • Buckles can get both his owners' whole meals this way.
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Parodied in a strip where Calvin practices "Bambi eyes" in preparation for asking his mother if he can have a flamethrower.
  • Garfield:
    • In the August 4th 2013 comic, Garfield does this to Liz for a snack... and she does it right back at him. Garfield's response is to give his food to her and tell Jon "She's good."
    • In the January 6, 2016 comic, Garfield scoffs at Odie for using a cute puppy face to beg for food. When Odie gets a sandwich, however, Garfield decides to try it too, asking Odie if he's doing it right.
    • In the July 20th 2022 comic, Odie is asked by his "Dear Ask a Dog" audience if dogs have superpowers. Odie responds with one of these.
  • Mutts
    • In the strip for February 12th 2013, Earl and Mooch use this technique on a butcher.
    • In the March 12th 2013 strip, Earl tries to use this tactic on his owner as part of his "When are we going to play?" face.
    • In the strip for May 11th 2013, a dog in the pound does this to the reader.

    Films — Animation 
  • The two hungry street children in Disney's Aladdin, who gaze imploringly at the title character as he's about to eat some bread that he just stole for himself.
  • Shows up a lot in Arlo the Alligator Boy thanks to the heavy eye animation, usually on Arlo himself during his more emotional moments.
  • In the 2009 Astro Boy film, the title character has mastered this. One might almost think it a factor in Tenma's Heel–Face Turn, given how flagrant they were in that scene.
  • In Big Hero 6 Tadashi (an 18-year-old college student) uses these when Hiro snarks at Baymax after Tadashi takes him to his college instead of a bot fight.
    Baymax: On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your pain?
    Hiro: Physical, [deadpan stare at Tadashi] or emotional?
    [Tadashi does the puppy eyes]
  • Bolt has to be taught that, but once mastered the trope works marvels on campers, extracting huge quantities of "Awwwww" and half-eaten hot-dogs. It is significant (and hilarious) that his cat partner fails miserably in that.
  • Guido and Luigi get them in Cars 2 when they read Mater's depressing farewell letter.
  • Despicable Me:
    • Agnes does it to postpone the start of the Swan Lake recital for a few minutes. Gru misses it anyway.
    • Also near the end, after Gru kisses the girls good-night, the Minions are waiting outside the girls' room, and one makes such eyes while asking in Minionese if they can be kissed too.
  • Pacha's children Chaka and Tipo deploy these in The Emperor's New Groove, in an attempt to stay up late. Their parents counter with a deliberate display of Sickeningly Sweethearts.
  • Hotel Transylvania:
    • Mavis does this to her dad Dracula in bat form. Dracula doesn't fall for it and says, "Don't give me the pouty bat face."
    • Dracula does the same thing to Mavis in the sequel, and gets the same reply from her: "Don't give me the pouty bat face."
    • Dennis does this to Dracula in the short for the third movie so he can get a puppy. This time, it works.
  • The LEGO Batman Movie: Robin lampshades his eyes by asking Bruce Wayne for adoption advice: "Should I surgically enhance my eyes so I look more cute and vulnerable?"
  • Megamind can be too adorable for an Evil Is Petty villain with mostly nasty and smug attitude. He has some truly heartbreaking kicked puppy sort of expression when Roxanne dumps him.
    Roxanne Richie: [sees Megamind's puppy dog eyes] No, you... Did you think that I would ever be with you?
    Megamind: [heartbroken whisper] No.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games: Spike gives these to Human Twilight while she is Midnight Sparkle. It seems to snap her back to her senses long enough for Daydream Shimmer to blast her with her magic. Bonus points for Spike actually being a puppy.
  • Giselita does this to Serge and Deni to try and get them to find their mother Giselle in Open Season 3.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls Movie, the girls have exiled themselves on an asteroid after they were tricked by Mojo Jojo into staging a monkey takeover of Townsville. Blossom stares up at Earth with sad puppy-dog eyes, then buries her head in her hands and cries silently to herself.
  • In The Princess and the Frog, Charlotte's dog, Stella, tries this on Tiana in order to get her to toss out one of her beignets. Tiana initially says no but quickly caves in.
  • Ratatouille: Rémy pulls a mild version of these on Linguini when he is about to drop the jar holding him into a river.
  • In The Road to El Dorado, Miguel deploys this technique to persuade Tulio to gamble for the map to El Dorado. Judging by Tulio's reaction ("Not with The Face") it's not the first time Miguel has used this method to get his way.
  • Shrek: Puss in Boots will stare up at people with huge eyes to manipulate them with his cuteness.
    • In Shrek 2, he uses it twice, to devastating effect, as the first use results in him joining Shrek and Donkey on their adventure (provides the image on the main page), the second right before he unleashes a major can of whoop-ass on some guards.
    • Shrek the Third:
      • He tries it earlier in the movie on Shrek after the latter puts him outside the window. Shrek just closes the curtains, thus making it the first time for Puss that it didn't work on others.
      • He makes the same face after being body-swapped with Donkey, hoping it will dissuade his enemies from trying to kill him. It doesn't.
    • He uses it on Donkey in Shrek Forever After to "borrow his tongue".
    • The spinoff Puss in Boots has Puss using kitty-cat eyes on the prison guard, when trying to convince him to let him go. It almost works..
    • The Direct to Video short "The Three Diablos" has three kittens try to outdo Puss, leading to a kitty-cat eyes standoff. Puss wins.
    • In Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, Puss uses the trick on Kitty Softpaws to convince her to give him the map to the Wishing Star, only for Kitty to counter with eyes of her own. They even try to outdo each other with extra touches like Puss fluffing out his beard and Kitty showing her paws' toe beans. The standoff gets interrupted by Perrito gushing with Cuteness Proximity.
      • Perrito later gets Kitty to teach the trick to him, only to make them bulge out in a way that looks like he has a hernia. He finally pulls it off on Jack Horner in the climax, but Jack isn't moved by the gesture (not only because he's an unrepentant sociopath, but also Perrito getting a nosebleed too). It still works out though, as it distracts Jack long enough for Puss and Kitty to get the map away from him.
  • Parodied in Tangled with Flynn Rider's "smolder".
  • Tarzan does this momentarily when trying to convince Terk to help him.
  • In Turning Red, Mei's friends try this on her to convince her to go karaokeing with them.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Probably the most hilariously inappropriate instance is the freaking alien in Alien: Resurrection, or rather the human-alien hybrid, that has more human-like facial features, including, yes, big black eyes.
  • In The Blues Brothers, Jake Blues is cornered by his jilted bride. She has a machine gun: he is unarmed... except for Blatant Lies and Puppy Dog Eyes. It's the only time we see him taking off his sunglasses for the whole movie.
  • Eric in The Boy Who Could Fly. The sad-puppy face he wears through much of the film would be right at home in an ASPCA ad.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Lucy Pevensie does this in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (the first film) in order to get Peter to agree to play hide and seek. It's very effective, although that also might be because Lucy is supposed to be Peter's favorite sister.
  • DC Extended Universe: In Zack Snyder's Justice League, Steppenwolf, the movie's villain himself, if you can believe it. Particularly the pleading look his eyes give when communicating with Darkseid.
  • Judge Anderson in Dredd, particularly when her strong sense of empathy is evoked. She finds out that a Mook she executed has a wife and baby - and that the woman sheltering her and Dredd is that wife. Her attitude toward Clan Techie also changes from harsh to pitying when she reads his mind and sees how Ma-Ma has made him suffer.
  • In Home Alone, Kevin is ordered by his mother to sleep on the third floor as punishment for ruining the family's pizza dinner. He waters his eyes with a half-assed apology, but his mother sees right through it.
  • In Hopscotch, retired spy Isobel refuses to help unwillingly retired spy Kendig (played by Walter Matthau) publish a tell-all about the CIA's Dirty Business because of the danger. Kendig responds by giving her an increasingly pathetic hangdog look until she relents.
  • Surprisingly displayed by Richard Parker the tiger in Life of Pi when he jumps out of the boat and can't get back in and Pi attempts to let him drown.
  • Frodo in The Lord of the Rings movies. Although he doesn't do it too intentionally, he does do it for the entire trilogy.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Loki in Thor in his last scene with Odin when he tells him that he did it all for his family and Asgard. The combined effect is tear-jerking. Loki also has a particularly epic one when he's ranting to Odin about his true parentage. Or when he watches Thor get banished. Face it, with his soulful blue eyes, Hiddleston is a master of this trope.
    • Iron Man: Tony Stark, via Robert Downey Jr., is no slouch in this category either. It's not as overt as some examples, but in any movie he's in, if he gets teary-eyed (for instance, over the supposed deaths of Agent Coulson or Pepper Potts), the effect definitely is this.
    • Captain America: The First Avenger: After Steve Rogers gets caught macking Pvt. Lorraine, SSR Agent Peggy Carter shoots at him to test his new shield's durability. All you can see behind the shield once she's done firing are his large, terrified eyes.
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: The Winter Soldier, of all people, makes such a face when he starts to regain some of his memories and is told to undergo a mindwipe.
    • Spider-Man, All Three incarnations have done this at one point or another. Especially notable in Spider-Man: No Way Home in the scene where all three of them meet each other and talk about losses they suffered in their lives, after MCU Aunt May's death at the hands of the Green Goblin.
  • Noted in The Men Who Stare at Goats, explaining why the Army stopped shooting dogs to help medics learn how to field dress wounds, and instead went with goats, who evoked no such sympathy.
  • Paul manages them quite well, which is helped by his eyes being freaking huge.
  • Red Dog: "All the sad faces in the world ain't gonna work, so you can just stop", John Grant tells Red Dog when they first meet as Red Dog tries to hitch a ride in John's bus. John overestimated his resolve in the face of extreme cuteness.
  • In The Santa Clause 2 and 3, Lucy is very good at this expression. In the third movie, her parents, Neil and Laura, demonstrate where she gets that ability. No wonder Scott/Santa caves in and takes the Millers to the North Pole, getting the treatment from all three of them.
  • Star Trek (2009): This is pretty much Chekov's default facial expression.
  • Star Wars:
    • In The Last Jedi, Chewbacca stands at a campfire, trying to eat a couple of roasted porg, native birds that inhabit the island, only to find himself being stared at by several non-roasted porg. He gives a roar and scares them away, but one made of sterner stuff remains. It gives him these, but then he roars again and scares it away.
    • Kylo Ren is the master of these.

  • Bloody Jack: Jacky Faber calls this technique "the big eyes" and employs it to subvert the Double Standard in her favor.
  • In one of Andrew Vachss' Burke novels, Action Girlfriend Flood pouts at Burke while she's sassing him. He thinks in response, I'd have given her a smack if I hadn't been afraid of permanent injury.
  • Eli's List: Eli gives this look to Iria to persuade her to take her up Mt. Corcovado.
  • Family Skeleton Mysteries: Sid is somehow able to give off this look, despite being a skeleton.
  • Lonely Werewolf Girl: A curiously literal version is performed by Kalix when she transforms fully into her wolf form to look cute for Moonglow at one point.
  • In Maximum Ride, Fang lets Angel keep Total when she gives him "the bambi eyes."
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians:
    • In The Last Olympian, Annabeth does "her big pleading gray eyes thing" on Hermes to get him to give her her mother's message.
    • The Heroes of Olympus: In The Mark of Athena, Percy deploys it to get a favor from Piper. She wonders how Annabeth says no to anything coming from somebody who can make himself look like a baby harp seal.

  • The Pillows released a song titled "Tokyo Bambi" that seems to imply this trope. Roughly translated, a line from the second verse is "Whatcha smiling about with those Bambi eyes?"

  • Cool Kids Table: In the Harry Potter-themed game Hogwarts: The New Class, Jake tries to convince McGonagall to buy him a pygmy gryphon by giving these to her, stating that he was adorable at eleven.
  • In Wolf 359, Eiffel's attempt at an intimidating expression is described by Hilbert as his "angry kitten face".

    Tabletop Games 
  • Arduin: Kill Kittens look like normal kittens. They pretend to have broken limbs and use whimpering and their big soulful eyes to lure victims into picking them up.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Larry Butz does a rather odd variant when he's sobbing.
    • Dick Gumshoe has a sprite with this expression for whenever he's getting picked on... which is often.
    • Maggey Byrde also does this when she is extremely happy.
    • In Spirit Of Justice, Rayfa does this a few times, but only in the last case.
    • Also in Spirit of Justice: Ellen Wyatt in the bonus case does this in a manner similar to Larry when her Ocular Gushers start flowing.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club!: Sayori is also guilty of this, and tries to get the player character to buy her a snack. Unfortunately, she's tried this trick so many times that the player character doesn't fall for it.
  • Johanna from Double Homework seems to give these whenever she’s visibly sad.
  • Katawa Shoujo: Emi Ibarazaki is very fond of this trope. Hisao notes just how effective it is at making him relent.

    Web Animation 
  • Isabelle Ruins Everything: Isabelle (an actual dog) makes this expression while the Mayor is trying to calm down the angry crowd.
  • RWBY: Marrow Amin, a dog Faunus, pulls this on Jaune in one episode to get the latter's coffee from him.

    Web Original 
  • Chakona Space features a mouse trying it on a coyote starship captain. It doesn't work quite as planned.
    [Penny] gave Yote her best wide-eyed helpless waif look, which might have worked a lot better if she wasn't so well-fed and sexy.
  • A live version of the page image appears here on Cute Overload.
  • Parodied in this lolcats picture. The cat has a solution to this situation: Just shut the door and don't look at the culprit. Nobody asked to see those sad eyes.
  • The Whateley Universe has Jade "Generator" Sinclair and Bunny "Bugs" Cormick. The former looks like a 11 year old girl (she's 14) and the latter, at first glance, appears to be your typical teenage blonde bimbo (when not in Mad Scientist mode). Both are both so good at this that their friends often joke that it's one of their mutant powers. Bugs even managed to win her combat final just by crying.

    Web Videos 
  • In The Blockbuster Buster's review of Shrek 2, the title card artist E-Joy pops in, much to the shock of Eric, who wonders who she is and asks for one reason why he shouldn't fire her. She invokes this trope and is able to stay, much to her delight.
  • Channel Awesome:
  • The titular doctor in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog at the beginning of act two. Oddly, he's not trying to garner sympathy. He's just crushed that he inadvertently introduced his archnemesis to the girl of his dreams. He also has the puppy-eyes after telling his viewers about the failure of his latest crime ("Captain Hammer... threw a car... at my head").
  • Gaea in the Noob webseries and comic, as one of her Manipulative Bastard tricks. A couple of her male guildmates have tried to imitate her, only to be told they look silly doing it (for the Butt-Monkey) or can't measure up to her (for the Manchild). One of her minions tried to pull them on her in the first movie.
  • Outside Xbox:
    • This is Ellen Rose's most powerful strategy. For example, on the "Show of the Weekend" episode discussing the "Kobolds and Catacombs" expansion for Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Luke discusses the effect of King Togwaggle, who lets you hold the opponent's deck to ransom, by getting Ellen to go to the kitchen and then stealing her seat:
    Luke: Ellen, I have stolen your place on the sofa, like the sneaky King Togwaggle. Ellen, what ransom will you give me to switch back?
    Ellen: Sad puppy eyes.
    Luke: ...Ugh, fine. I would have liked to hold out for more than two seconds.
    • As of 2020, "coronavirus pandemic" plus "Ellen's janky immune system" means that the Puppy-Dog Eyes are the only part of her face showing when she leaves the house. No word yet on whether she's using this power for good or evil.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Puppy Eyes, Puppy Dog Pout, Film, Web Original



James needs to get himself repaired by the time his mom gets home. She accepts, however... at a very high price. This leaves James with his only resource left in hand: sympathy.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / PuppyDogEyes

Media sources: