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Reflective Eyes

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A character's eyes reflecting what they see. A useful visual effect because it allows the audience to see the character's reaction at the same time as they see the action happening. It's a nifty effect that has not passed the notice of writers and has been used by them in various ways. Very much Truth in Television, although exaggerated for more visual effect.

May also be used with Cool Shades, Scary Shiny Glasses, lenses, and other forms of eye coverings. Compare Wingding Eyes, and more specifically for when a characters' pupils turn into stuff based on opportunities they're seeing.

See also Blade Reflection.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Black Lagoon, Gretel's eyes reflect the beautiful blue sky above after she's shot in the head.
  • In Bleach, this happens when Momo Hinamori discovered Aizen's (fake) corpse in the seireitei.
    • Happen again in the Arrancar invasion, when Orihime was about to be smashed by Yammy Largo like a bug, right before Ichigo comes to save her.
  • In Ceres, Celestial Legend, during the time when Aya and Tooya were living together, Tooya is reflected in Aya's eyes when she talks about her love for him.
  • In Death Note, at one point during L and Light's fight, we see Light reflected in L's eye right before he punches him.
  • Doraemon: In episode 2a of the 2005 series, Doraemon calls out Nobita for not doing his homework and gets a close-up where Nobita is reflected on both his eyes.
  • Happens quite often in Free!, most frequently Rin being reflected in Haru's eyes.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood episode 3, City of Heresy. Edward is reflected in Rose's eyes, showing his automail arm on his left arm instead of his right.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, there have been numerous times where Sousuke's eyes have reflected what he saw. One particular instance was when Sousuke was fighting Gauron for the first time inside the Arbalest, and Al started utilizing the Lambda Driver, and Sousuke's eyes were shown to reflect what's on the screen.
  • In Gakuen Babysitters, both the twins Kazuma and Takuma are reflected in each other's eyes when they are reunited after one of them got better from a cold.
  • A tiny computer screen image is reflected in Albert's eyes in episode 16 of Gankutsuou.
  • In Haruhi Suzumiya, there have been multiple times in which Kyon is reflected in Yuki's beautiful eyes, in close-ups. Example 1 and 2.
  • Hellsing: Happens quite often, although the main culprit tends to be Anderson's and Iscariot's incredibly reflective glasses. Alucard's red eyes have a tendency to glow and reflect whoever he's looking at, too.
  • Chitanda Eru and Houtarou Oreki's first on-screen encounter in Hyouka.
  • In episode 30 of Jewelpet Twinkle, Akari works hard on a manga she intends as a gift for her mother on her birthday. Right when she is about to present the gift, though, her mother gets a call and has to leave to take care of photos of Monika for a magazine; as Akari stares in disbelief, about to cry, a close-up of her eye displays a reflection of Monika and their mother.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • J. Geil's Hanged Man in Stardust Crusaders takes advantage of this when fighting Polnareff and Kakyoin. His Stand can hide in any reflective surface - including the human cornea. There are a number of moments during the fight where his opponents look someone in the eye and see the Hanged Man appear in front of their reflection.
    • In Golden Wind, Diavolo takes use of this when looking at the reflection in Bucciarati's eyes to spot Polnareff watching them from the colosseum in Rome.
  • Lyrical Nanoha
  • Invoked by Saikawa in the Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid MiniDragon shorts. She's a One-Track-Minded Artist who always puts Kanna in any piece she makes, so she draws Kanna reflected in her eyes when she's tasked with making a self-portrait for art class.
  • In Naruto, Shikamaru does this in the battle where Asuma dies.
  • In Princess Tutu, at one point Fakir pushes Mytho's face up into a mirror, angrily demanding him to look at himself. The camera then cuts to a shot of Mytho's own face reflected in his eyes.
    • The creators of Princess Tutu really like this effect. We also see Tutu reflected in Mytho's eyes after he kisses her hand (and similarly for Kraehe in another scene), and in the promo, Fakir's face is reflected in Duck's eyes while they are dancing together.
    • In a bit of a variation, Rue once sees Princess Tutu in Mytho's eyes, reflecting what he's thinking rather than what he sees.
  • Saber Marionette J: Taken Up to Eleven in the first episode, when Otaru awakens Lime. She drops herself on top of him, and then we get brief take of the camera zooming into their eyes as they reflect each other's faces.
  • Played for scares in Soul Eater, when Maka's terrified face is reflected in one of Crona's eyes just before zhe tries to chop her up. Soul takes the sword for her.
  • In episode 69b of Tamagotchi, a flashback shows Mametchi with his parents on a boat. Mametchi sees a lighthouse in the distance and his eyes display a reflection of it.
  • In the X1999 anime series, we see the reflection of Fuuma's hand coming towards Subaru to pluck out his eye.
  • In YuYu Hakusho Hiei does this with his Third Eye or Jagan Eye to Bui before he defeats him.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: In Season 5 episode 17, Sweet S.'s become reflective twice, once when she sees footage of Smart S. seemingly perpetrating a crime, and again when she sees Happy S.'s mouth covered in tomato juice resembling what looks like blood on the hamsters' cage.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: In Flying Island: The Sky Adventure episode 4, as he is watching footage of Weslie's Xiha train, Wolffy's eyes reflect the little symbol associated with the vehicle, and he realizes it's the same emblem on the gem he had given Wolnie earlier and suggests he and Wolnie get the gem back.

    Comic Books 
  • The subject of many comic covers
  • One early issue of ElfQuest shows Cutter and Leetah reflected in Rayek's eyes, expressing his blazing jealousy.
  • Used by Alan Davis in the first issue of Excalibur, way-back-when. He had Rachel Summers (one of the Phoenixes) staring into a campfire, and in her eyes you can see the Flaming Phoenix reflected. A commentary by Claremont mentioned that he didn't write that into the script, it was just something Alan Davis (the artist) tossed in that Claremont loved.
  • In Superman story Kryptonite Nevermore, as third-rate villain Ferlin Nyxly is playing piano, his right eye reflects the Devil's Harp, an artifact which steals powers and abilities from other people.
  • A variation in Violine: when Violine reads someones mind, the content of their thought bubble appears reflected in her eyes. Francois' eyes work the same way.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Diana is seen reflected in a pilot's goggles on the cover of issue #195.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • In Shane Acker's 9, this is how 6's death is shown, reflected in 9's lenses.
  • The poster for Dinosaur shows a prehistoric landscape being reflected onto a reptilian eye.
  • This is actually a plot point in The Last Unicorn (as well as the original book) and the basis of one of the best soliloquies in animation. Unlike normal people, Lady Amalthea's eyes do not reflect light; instead they show a forest view. The author/screenwriter uses this to play on the idea that regular people often simply reflect others rather than dealing with them as people. As Amalthea becomes more human and forgets herself, her eyes begin to show reflection.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks:
    • In the prologue, the Pillar of Light caused by Sunset Shimmer (from the first movie) reflects into Adagio's eyes when she catches sight of it.
    • In the prequel short "Guitar Centered", when Rainbow Dash see the double-necked guitar, it reflects in her eyes.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Sunset's Backstage Pass: When Sunset is witnessing PostCrush appear onstage, the band is reflected into her eyes.
  • My Little Pony: The Movie (2017): When Tempest Shadow is answering a call from the Storm King, the communication window is briefly reflected in her eyes.
  • In The Secret of NIMH, the Great Owl's huge eyes reflect Mrs. Brisby as he leans to her; a strong effect, as his eyes are almost as large as her entire body.
  • Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron: Moments before the Colonel gets thrown off when trying to break Spirit, he sees his reflection in the mustang's rage-filled eye.
  • Happens too many times in We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the sequel to Cats & Dogs the protagonists interview the villain from the first movie thinking he might know something about the location of the current villain. He doesn't cooperate but does give them the clue "A cat's eye reveals everything." The heroes end up tracking the villain down using a reflection in her eye in a video she sent them.
  • In Clockers Detective Klein leans in close to look at Victor's eyes, saying "I want to see what you see." The camera focuses on Klein's reflection in Victor's tired, bloodshot eye, and when Klein dismisses his testimony as a lie, he slowly closes both eyes in resignation.
  • In the final fight scene of Drunken Master, Jackie Chan's eyes was able to keep up with the speed of the fast fists of his opponents as shown from the eyes' reflection.
  • Used repeatedly with the villains in The Force Awakens, first with General Hux in closeup looking on at Starkiller Base opening fire at the New Republic, with his eyes reflecting the plasma pouring out of the ground and then Kylo Ren looking at essentially anything during the finale (his actor has dark eyes that reflect light very well, causing some dramatic shots with his father inside Starkiller Base as it's being charged again, then afterwards when the lightsabers come out).
  • In In Like Flint, Flint hypnotizes Lloyd Cramden with a watch that blinks in a circular pattern. The dots appear on Cramden's eyes as he's looking at it.
  • James Bond
  • In The Matrix, when Morpheus is giving Neo the Red Pill, Blue Pill choice, there's a shot where the lenses of his Cool Shades each reflect one of the two pills, as well as Neo looking at them.
    • Bit of trivia: the filmmakers didn't expect to have to digitally add the reflection in; when they did, they had to have someone do a storyboard for it (otherwise it wouldn't be covered by their budget, due to regulations).
  • Parkland: The Zapruder Film is shown for the very first time reflected in Abraham Zapruder's glasses, as Zapruder watches the film in horror.
  • Spider-Man Trilogy:
    • Used in Spider-Man, twice: Mary Jane in one eye, the tram car in another, and as a pumpkin bomb is thrown at Spider-Man — but Peter's eye is shown instead of Spidey's lens-eye.
    • One of the posters for Spider-Man 2 shows Doctor Octopus in the reflection of Spider-Man's eyes.
    • This trope is also used in the film itself. At one point we see in Doc Ock's wife's eyes shards of glass flying towards her—right before they tear through her and she falls dead to the ground.
    • And again a short while later, when the surgeon about to cut off the mechanical limbs sees the tentacle reflected in the other surgeon's protective goggles.
  • Strangers on a Train has a variation of this. As Bruno begins strangling Guy's wife Miriam, her glasses fall from her face and onto the ground; we then get a closeup of one of the lenses, in which the completion of the murder is reflected.
  • The Executioner's report to The Council of Elders ("The energy input to Jor-El's quarters is now in excess." where the two characters he addressed are reflected in his helmet's lenses) in Superman, as well as a deleted scene of him flying around a crumbling Krypton, ending with the reflection of a giant shard of crystal caught in his bare eye just before he dies.
  • Danny Boyle seems to like this trope; there's reflective eyes in Sunshine and in Slumdog Millionaire when the Jamal and Salim discover Latika in the hotel.
  • In Wild Wild West, West spots a potential assassin through the reflection in Ms. East's eyes.

  • Lone Wolf: The Shianti have pupils reflecting light like a mirror. When Grey Star says his goodbyes to them at the start of his quest, he sees himself in the eyes of his mentor. It becomes a plot point later, at the end of Book 1 / beginning of Book 2 of World of Lone Wolf. The Kundis ask Grey Star a riddle based on this little-known fact, to make sure the wizard has indeed been in contact with the Shianti.

  • Discworld:
    • In Interesting Times, Lord Hong spots the reflection of the tea-girl/would-be assassin in a messenger's wide staring eyes.
    • In Feet of Clay, the forensics Dwarf at the scene of a murder takes an iconograph of the dead rabbi's eyes, at maximum possible magnification, and captures a puzzling image in each retina of two glowing red stars on a black background. This turns out to be significant — the rabbi has created a golem which, Frankenstein-like, went on to murder its creator. The last thing he saw before death were the mad golem's glowing red eyes.
  • Most of The Last Dragon Chronicles books have reflective dragon eyes on the covers, generally reflecting something plot significant. Fire Star has... well, a Fire Star. Dark Fire has a Darkling being reflected. Fire World has a Fire Bird being seen.
  • According to the book Red Dragon, yes, this is somebody's sexual fetish. Which is why he has to collect all those shards of broken mirror.
  • It's not intentional, but on the cover of Uglies, Tally's eyes reflect the image of the cameraman.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bitten: Elena transforming in Season 2 Episode 4 "Dead Meat" is reflected in Sondra's eye.
  • CSI used this one to establish the setting for a work of... amateur photography. (After much use of the Enhance Button, a port hole can be seen in the subject's eye, establishing the shot as having been taken on a boat.)
  • Dexter: When Lumen watches the DVD of her own rape/torture, this is used in a mercifully discreet way.
  • In the Doctor Who episode: "The Beast Below", Amy's eyes reflect the information she is seeing in the Voting Stall.
  • Kamen Rider Gaim: When Takatora reveals the secret of Helheim to Micchy, we are shown a very brief glimpse as Micchy stares in horror.
  • The first episode of Power Rangers RPM uses this to help establish Col. Truman's Colonel Badass credentials as distant explosions reflect off his Cool Shades while he stoically leads his men in the front lines.
  • In Smallville, "Arrival", the Fortress of Solitude is seen as reflection in Chloe's eyes.
  • We watch in Naevia's eyes as her lover Crixus is beheaded in Spartacus: Blood and Sand. It's less about showing her reaction— she's mostly frozen at this instant— and more about giving one of the longest running characters a suitably dignified and meaningful end.
  • In Twin Peaks, Agent Cooper sees the reflection of a motorcycle in Laura Palmer's eye while watching a video of her dancing with her friend.
  • Ultraseven: Dan Moroboshi's superior from M-78 appears this way.
  • Parodied in The Vicar of Dibley: The council are trying to remember what the design of a recently broken stain-glass window looked like so they can replace it, and when asked if anyone has a photograph of the window for them to work from, Jim offers a photograph of his dog, claiming that, as the dog was outside the church when the photo was taken, they might be able to see the window reflected in his eye.
  • Vincenzo: In episode 4, as he watches his warehouse burn to the ground, the flames are reflected in Joon-woo's eyes, symbolizing his status as a villain (in fact, this is the scene where he's revealed as the Big Bad) and his Tranquil Fury.

    Music Videos 
  • The music video for Robert Miles and Maria Nayler's version of "One & One" does this in four different scenes, with a different person being reflected in Robert's eye each time. The third time it is done, it is actually Robert being reflected in another man's eye, and the second occurrence shows a different person being reflected in Robert's eye, depending on which version you're watching.
  • The music video for "Eyes of the Insane" by Slayer is shot entirely in this perspective through the eyes of a Shell-Shocked Veteran. We see such lovely images of dead and dying soldiers, memories of his daughter, a graphic surgery scene, and the protagonist hanging himself. Complete with watching the room swing back and forth with creaking from the rope.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • The Fox Sister: When Alex and Yun Hee find the little mess the Kumiho left at Yun Hee's house, the scene is shown reflected.
  • This strip of Girl Genius gives us a nice reflection of the frightened Agatha from Von Pinn's monocle.
  • In Homestuck, the wreckage of the alpha kids' incipisphere is shown reflected in Dirk's Cool Shades while he angstily blames himself for allowing it to happen.
  • Neko: The Cat: The last panel of the comic shows Michiko standing with her stepmother reflected in one eye and a cat in the other, indicating that she's fallen fully under her stepmother's control.
  • PJ from Paranatural looks at a violent spirit, and we see its reflection in his eyes... unfortunately, the spirit has the power to make reflections grow out of the reflecting surface. Poor PJ.
  • In Uncommon Animals, Terry's eye shows her computer shutting down.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • This review of Master of Magic starts off with a eye reflecting scenes from the game and then blinking them away. Reopening to reveal some sort of demon. The eye with the demon silhouette is actually from the box cover.
  • Super Power Beat Down: In "Spider-Man vs. Darth Maul", when Darth Maul lights up his double-lightsaber, the red laser blades reflects into Spidey's white eyepieces.

    Western Animation 
  • All Hail King Julien: In the fourth season finale, as Julien looks back on the kingdom that he has failed to protect from invading barbarians and is now being forced to flee, its reflection is clearly visible in his sad eyes.
  • Arlo the Alligator Boy: When Arlo notices Marcellus sleeping with his eyes open, smoke from the nearby campfire can be seen reflected in Marcellus's eyes.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Azula's eyes reflect the big wham of the second season finale.
  • BIONICLE: Mask of Light: Takua's eyes have this, as he watched his friend Jaller die in his arms. The directors on the commentary talked about how tricky this shot was to get right — they wanted to use tears instead of a reflection at first, but were unsure whether the characters could produce them.
  • Jonny Quest episode "Pirates from Below". Hadji hypnotizes a guard by using the glints from his ruby. As he's doing so the glints are reflected in the guard's eyes.
  • Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures: In "Ndovu's Last Journey," Jonny's image is reflected in Ndovu the elephant's eyes. This signifies that there's a bond between them and convinces Jonny to help the elephant.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: In Mute-Eat-Mute World", when Jamack notices Kipo’s Mute eyes, his startled expression is reflected in her eyes.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • "Mare in the Moon": Done when Twilight observes the full moon as Nightmare Moon prepares to escape.
    • "The Cutie Mark Chronicles": When younger Pinkie Pie sees the rainbow from Rainbow Dash's first Sonic Rainboom which in turn causes her to smile for the first time, the rainbow is reflected into her eyes.
    • "Party of One": Used twice as part of Pinkie Pie's episode-long Sanity Slippage. Observe.
    • "Flight to the Finish": Used when Diamond Tiara gets the idea to mock Scootaloo's inability to fly, complete with an Eyed Screen effect. Observe.
    • "Marks for Effort": As Cozy Glow is being quizzed on the Elements of Harmony and guesses them correctly, the Elements in question appear reflected in her eyes.
    • In the Grand Finale, Twilight's eyes reflect the magic auras of the villain trio when in their clutches, just before Rarity's Big Damn Heroes moment. They also reflect the face of Fluttershy later on while she is reassuring her in the Crystal Empire.
  • In Pluto's Judgement Day, the cat prosecutor leans into the camera and images of Pluto are seen in each of his pupils. Both reflections turn toward each other and do a Double Take.
  • The Powerpuff Girls
    • In the climax of the episode "Octi Evil", Blossom and Buttercup, who had been at each other's throats for the entire episode, angrily stare at each other while the camera zooms further into each of their faces, with this kind of shot being the last. When their confrontation is interrupted by Bubbles screaming for help, the sequence repeats again with each wearing a quizzical expression, only now, during this kind of shot, they smile at each other, showing that they're burying the hatchet for Bubbles' sake.
    • In "Abracadaver", when Blossom is being hypnotized by Abracadaver who mistakes her for the girl who ended his life, his pocket watch is briefly reflected into her eyes.
    • In "Los Dos Mojos" as Bubbles is passing out, her eyes briefly reflect the face of Mojo Jojo as he gloats over her.
  • In the Ready Jet Go! episode “Sunspot’s Sunspot", Sunspot gets these eyes when he sees the sun.
    • In "Mars Rock for Mom", when Jet 2 leaves Mars with the kids, Boop gets memories of when they formed a heart in her lenses.
  • In Samurai Jack episode "Samurai vs Ninja", Jack sees Shinobi's sneak attack off the reflection of its captive hostage before it could strike at him.
  • The Simpsons: In "Make Room for Lisa", Lisa goes into a sensory-deprivation tank has a hallucination in which she's Homer accompanying her at the ballet. In this dream, Dream!Lisa blasts her father for snoring during the performance and leans into the camera, her eyes reflecting the image of a terrified Homer.
  • In the The Spectacular Spider-Man episode "Final Curtain", The Unmasked Green Goblin is reflected in Harry's eyes.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "Squid Plus One", Squidward's smiling face is reflected in SpongeBob's eyes when he realizes who he can take as his plus-one. His own reflection, of course!
    • In "Mustard O' Mine", the subway doors closing in front of SpongeBob and Patrick reflect in Squidward's eyes as he tries to get past the subway turnstile.
    • In "ChefBob", when the titular character tries to pin SpongeBob with his spatula, SpongeBob is reflected in ChefBob's eyes.
    • In "SpongeBob's Bad Habits", when SpongeBob sees a little boy's glove balloon, it reflects into his eyes.
  • Steven Universe: Lapis Lazuli, in her first appearance, had pupil-less, mirror-like eyes due to her cracked Gem. When Steven fixes her Gem, this also gives her normal eyes like the rest of the cast.
  • Wander over Yonder:
    • Done in "The Hole...Lotta Nothing" as Wander is being insulted by Hater.
    • Peepers gets this in "The Show Stopper" when he sees the stage that where Hater's band performs.

    Real Life 
  • There is an "Amazing but true" book that mentions a young boy who claimed to have psychic powers by getting people to read a book in front of him — he would then tell them what page of the book they had randomly turned to. The truth was that his eyesight was so precise that he could read the reflections off the corneas of his subject.
  • A picture of Dick Cheney grinning at something reflected in his sunglasses popped up on the Internet. Speculation on the object's identity abounded, with some suggesting it was a naked woman and others claiming it was an illegal immigrant being abused. Cheney's people released a larger, clearer picture, revealing that it was in fact his own hand, holding a fishing pole.


Video Example(s):


AJ denies Pinkie

Pinkie is suspicious when Applejack denies her invitation to Gummy's after-birthday.

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Example of:

Main / ReflectiveEyes

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