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"Have you got truth glasses?! They're not allowed on this show!"

The world is the way it is. Or so they would have you believe but there is something more, something underneath the thin skin of this world, something which can't be normally seen by human eyes. How can you see it then? Why, with special glasses, of course.

These can come in a variety of forms: regular sunglasses, X-ray specs ordered from the back of a comic book, hagstones, or special amulets. You can see By the Eyes of the Blind, those Invisible to Normals, and the Masquerade. You've broken the Weirdness Censor on your eyes.

Now, the only question is: Is this a good thing?

Despite what the title may imply, this has nothing to do with X-Ray Vision. Compare with the Goggles Do Something Unusual. A Sub-Trope of True Sight and See the Invisible.


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  • Lingerie company Agent Provocateur had a handsome secret agent donning his L'Agent sunglasses and being able to see all the woman at a party wearing AP's 2013 Winter Catalogue. When one of the women starts giving him a lapdance, our hero is woken up by his foreman on a construction site and told to get back to work.
  • In a Little Caesar's commercial, these revealed the innards of their Pepperoni Crazy Bread to a kid going about while wearing them.

    Anime & Manga 
  • It's not quite the glasses that does it in AR∀GO: City of London Police's Special Crimes Investigator — it's rather the cream that Joe applies to them that gives him the ability to see the monsters and ghosts in London otherwise invisible to the naked eye.
  • A chapter of Ayakashi Triangle (by the same artist as the To Love Ru example) has Matsuri possessed by an iyo embodying "perverted desires" that made him see through the clothing of anyone he knew (in this case, Suzu and Mei). Mei threw it into him for fun, not having any idea what it did. Matsuri is able to remove it from him, but not before getting a very intimate view of Suzu's crotch.
  • Franken Fran took this trope and applied it to a pair of eyes that the title character created and implanted in a painter. The eyes allowed him to see light and color spectra that normal humans couldn't see. Unfortunately, this caused him to see all sorts of Eldritch Abomination that are usually invisible to humans. He ends up falling in love with one of them. It is not insignificant to note that this is one of the happier endings in the series.
  • In Hello World, younger Naomi is provided with a pair of sunglasses that he initially requires to see Invisible to Normals homeostatic system programmes.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen: Because Maki has no cursed energy, she can't see curses without a pair of special glasses.
  • Shakugan no Shana: This is how Kazumi learned the truth about Yuuji's status as a Torch, after she was given an eyepiece that allowed normal humans like herself to see the waning flame of a human-turned-Torch — which, under normal circumstances, would mean that said human would soon retroactively vanish from existence.
  • One chapter of To Love Ru has Rito put on a special pair of glasses that Lala uses to work on her inventions. As this is To Love Ru, the glasses just happen to make him see through women's clothing and he can't take them off.
  • One of the seven detective gadgets in YuYu Hakusho provides this ability. Rarely used.
  • There is a small subplot inWitch Hat Atelier where a character has created a magical device allowing him to see past women's clothing. This is framed as horrific, and he is punished severely for it.

    Comic Books 
  • During Secret Invasion, 3-D Man's 3-D glasses let him see through the Skrulls' disguises because they're "old school" and somehow immune to the ritual the Skrulls were using that allowed them to evade detection.

    Comic Strips 
  • In FoxTrot, Jason pretends to have a pair of these in order to drive Paige crazy.

    Films — Animated 
  • Bratz: Fashion Pixies features glasses that allow the protagonists to see through The Masquerade of magic, including magical creatures like gnomes disguised as ordinary objects like fire hydrants.
  • In Coraline, after starting her search for the Ghost Children, Coraline realizes the stone given to her by April Spink turns out to be the only thing capable of tracking down the Ghost Children's eyes.
  • In the first Winx Club movie, The Secret of the Lost Kingdom, Bloom's sister Daphne gives her mask, which allows Bloom to see her home planet Domino as it looked before the Ancestral Witches froze it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The original movie 13 Ghosts in 1960 used special glasses to see the ghosts. Ditto for the remake, Thir13en Ghosts, in 2001.
    • The original even included faint outlines of the ghosts that could be seen with the complimentary color filter cardboard glasses.
  • For Your Height Only (1981), the Filipino James Bond spoof, has the dwarf secret agent hero equipped with see-through glasses that he uses to check out some secretaries naked and see a couple of villains (also shown naked) hiding behind the curtains.
  • On the pseudo-scientific side, ecto-goggles allowed the Ghostbusters to detect invisible ghosts and other psycho-kinetic anomalies visually. They turn up in the original film, the sequel, and much of the spinoff media. There was even a toy.
  • In Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Johan Krauss obtains eyewear that enables the BPRD team to see through magical beings' glamour. Including that of Hellboy himself. Even though he isn't really using glamour, as he physically broke his horns off and then filed them down.
  • In If Looks Could Kill, Michael Corben gets X-ray glasses as part of his superspy gear.
  • James Bond had a few pairs:
    • First, in A View to a Kill, he had a pair of glasses with adjustable polarization, which allowed him to see through one-way mirrors.
    • In The World Is Not Enough, the tinted lenses gave him quasi-X-Ray vision. He used them to see concealed weapons and lingerie.
  • The movie They Live! is built around this trope: the main character played by Roddy Piper finds a box of sunglasses and when he puts one on, he can see the hidden aliens among them, as well as signs saying "Consume," "Marry and Reproduce," and money printed with "This is your God" on it.
  • The Whisperer in Darkness. The protagonist is unimpressed when a man turns up with a photograph of a creature his father supposedly shot, yet there's nothing to be seen because they're allegedly made up of 'a different kind of matter'. Until one of the scientists uses a parallax viewer, revealing the creepy sight of a Starfish Alien Mi-Go.
  • X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes starts out as a straight-up case of X-Ray Vision but the protagonist's eyesight eventually starts to see something that can't be attributed simply to that.

  • Hagstones, also called "serpent's eggs" and "witch stones," were said to protect against the evil eye and prevent nightmares and cure whooping cough.


  • In the Alcatraz Series, many of the Lenses work like this, from the Oculator's Lenses that allow them to detect powerful magic and other Oculators, the Tracker's Lenses which let them track people by magic footprints, to the Translator's Lenses.
  • In The Bartimaeus Trilogy, magicians possess magical glasses which allow them to see into the second and third planes. Djinn and other magical creatures can be invisible/disguised in this plane, and the glasses enable a human to see them in a true(r) form.
    • Some of the citizens rules by magicians develop the ability to see the djinnis in a similar manner without such contacts, or see the aura of magical creatures, which becomes a rather important plot point.
  • William Sleator's The Boy Who Reversed Himself had a set of glasses created by four-dimensional creatures that allowed you to see around clothes (and everything else) by giving you 4D vision, somehow.
  • The Robert Bloch short story "The Cheaters" features glasses that let you read people's minds. Being a Robert Bloch story, it doesn't end well.
  • The hole-in-a-stone variation appears in Neil Gaiman's Coraline, where the heroine used one to find the souls of the other children.
  • In Philip K. Dick's short story, "Faith of Our Fathers", it's an anti-hallucinogenic drug that neutralizes the hallucinogen in the water that makes everybody perceive the Party Leader as a human being. In actuality, it's not clear exactly what he is, but it's implied that he's some kind of godlike entity that feeds on humanity.
  • "Mad" Larkin's scope in the Warhammer 40,000 novel series Gaunt's Ghosts explicitly functions this way on at least one occasion (seeing through a psychic illusion caused by some Eldar in Ghostmaker) and in a less literal sense in general - Larkin is somewhat unhinged, and he mentions earlier in the book that he sees things clearly only when he's looking through his scope. Given how the 40k universe works, it's likely that it was because of his madness and unwavering faith in his scope that he could see the through the illusion.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Luna Lovegood's Spectrespecs, which allow her to see "wrackspurts", invisible creatures that float into people's ears and cloud their brains.
    • Mad-Eye Moody's magical glass eye, which allows him to see in all directions and through solid objects and illusions.
  • The Haunting of Tram Car 015 features "Spectral Goggles". The eyewear is standard issue equipment for agents of The Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, allowing them to perceive spirits and magical creatures who could otherwise conceal themselves from the human eye.
    He reached into his coat to pull out the small leather case where he kept his spectral goggles. The copper-plated instruments were standard Ministry issue. They fit like eyeglasses, though the pronounced round green lenses were far wider. Onsi had removed his spectacles to slip on his own pair. Eyesight mattered little when it came to the spectral world—which appeared the same to everyone in a haze of startlingly vivid, luminescent jade.
  • It's suggested in Hogfather that the reason Mr Teatime can see things that are Invisible to Normals may be that his glass eye is made out of a scrying crystal.
  • In the Robert Sheckley short story Is THAT What People Do?, a man ends up with a pair of half-functional binoculars which let him peep in on a series of bizarre scenes which may or may not be actually happening. In the end, he looks in the other end of the binoculars, and sees a pair of enormous eyes, one of which winks at him.
  • The Merkabah Rider has glasses which allow him to see spirits and other nasties in human form.
  • In Midnighters, anything that hasn't been touched by midnight is blurry to Rex. Since most things haven't, he wears glasses, but if something has, it's blurry when he's wearing them (and clear when he's not). That is, until the second book, when he becomes a halfling, then changes back, and no longer needs them.
  • In The Phantom Tollbooth Milo is given a magical spyglass that allows him to see things as they really are.
  • Jeff Vandermeer's Ambergris novel Shriek has the organic-tech glasses that Duncan gives Janice so that she can see a Grey Cap's-eye-view of the city.
  • In Roman Glushkov's Steel Loop (a part of the Death Zone series), Diamond Mongoose has 100-carat diamonds in various parts of his body as the result of an anomalous accident in one of the Zones. One of these is in place of his right eye. This diamond allows him to see trails of moving objects larger than a bird (not that there are any birds in the Zones). This is overlaid over his normal vision like a HUD projection.
  • Hans Christian Andersen's story The Snow Queen involves a mirror that reflects only bad things. It does technically reveal things about people that are hidden, but more importantly, it hides the whole truth.
  • In The Spiderwick Chronicles, the main human characters have to look through a hole in a stone (also called a hagstone or adder stone, in the books, a "seeing stone") to see the fairy creatures when they don't want to be seen.
  • In Technomagia i smoki, the Servants of Mercy wear Invisibility Cloaks. The narrator discovers these work by polarising light, so he has a pair of spectacles made with smoky quartz lenses to be able to see them. The spectacles turn out to be quite useful.
  • The Stephen King short story "The Ten O'Clock People" has the Weirdness Censor become broken by, of all things, moderate smoking. For some reason the chemicals in cigarettes let people see thru the monsters' disguises, but only if you ingest them at a rate somewhere between "smoke occasionally" and "chain smoking."
  • The Infocom novel Wishbringer involves a pair of apparent joke glasses that allow one to tell whether something is magic.
  • In Piers Anthony's With a Tangled Skein, there is a pair of glasses that allows the wearer to actually see the wages of sin people are piling on themselves in Hell. Satan was trying to get people into Hell on the installment plan: for each level, you had to sacrifice 1% of your good. (There are hundreds of levels.) These looked tempting to live people and Incarnations without the glasses; with them, not so much.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode "Tale of the Super Specs," partially inspired by They Live.
  • In the fourth season premiere of Charmed, Piper and Phoebe enchant a pair of sunglasses so that the wearer can see the true form of evil beings. Phoebe tests them out by looking at Cole and seeing his demonic form Belthazor asking her if they work.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the Two-Part Episode "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday", the Doctor wears a pair of old-fashioned red/green 3-D glasses designed to see the residual stuff from the void between universes.
    • In a pre-movie introduction to the 3D "The Day of the Doctor", he tells the audience to test their 3D glasses by closing one eye and looking at the person next to them. "If one of the spectacles has turned black, then that person is a Zygon and is going to eat you sometime during the movie. Please, don't panic. It will only disturb everyone else and there's really nothing we can do to save you."
  • The gozarian glasses in The Middleman allow people to see (but not hear) ghosts.
  • One episode of Reaper has Sam get a pair of glasses which will supposedly allow him to see the true forms of demons. This effect has not been shown, though.
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Scientific Method", the Doctor figures out there are invisible aliens on the ship and modifies Seven's Borg eye implant to detect them. When she opens her eyes again, she can see the aliens — everywhere. And they're doing horrible things to the crew...

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Myths of The Fair Folk sometimes feature magical ointments which, rubbed on one's eyelids, allow one to see the faerie. One common scenario is when a man accidentally splashes some of this substance on one of his eyes, then is deprived of it — the eye, not the ointment — by an irate fey who dislikes being observed. A variant has a midwife, who is given the ointment so she can assist with a faerie birth, but secretly keeps some of it with the same consequences.
    • This is referenced in one Thor comic — Thor enters Faerie in order to rescue a woman, and is accompanied by a retired soldier. They find a vial of ointment on a defeated fae soldier, but there's only enough for one of them; the soldier gets it, because Thor, being a god, can see the true face of Faerie (albeit hazily) and doesn't need it. When the Dark Elf Malekith attempts to blind the soldier later, the plate in the man's head keeps him from losing his sight... but he does lose the effect of the ointment.
    • In one Slavic tale, such an ointment attracts the attention of a bandit when he accompanies his leader to a peacemaking meeting at the local lord's palace. Using it reveals that the palace is a ruin, the other guests are dead trees, the lord's men are hounds, and the lord is Satan himself.
  • The ancient Chinese believed that rubbing a dog's tears on their eyes will allow them to see the spirits of the undead.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu campaign The Fungi From Yuggoth. It has a pair of spectacles that allowed the wearer to see into another dimension (with the usual impossible angles and bizarre perspectives). Each time you use them, there is a chance you could see a monster that could attack and kill you if you don't take them off in time.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has a spell called True Seeing which allows you to see through any illusions or glamors placed on an object. In theory, it is possible to enchant any object with True Seeing, including glasses, other clothing items, and even light sources (sort of like an anti-illusion field).
  • GURPS: Artifacts has "The Mask of Maaukepu". If you look at someone while wearing it there's a small chance you'll see the worst thing that person has ever done.

    Theme Parks 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: The Real 4-D: DIO's World is shown from the perspective of a Speedwagon Foundation agent, and among their equipment is goggles that allows them to see Stands.


    Video Games 
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum has Detective Mode, which has functions including X-ray, forensic tracker, vital sign monitoring, weapon detection, and point-of-interest detection. This is treated as a combination of a scanner in Batman's cowl, and "seeing the world through Batman's eyes". The Joker, in the PS3-exclusive content, has X-ray specs which have that function and nothing else.
  • In Bayonetta, Luka can see the angels if he uses Cereza's glasses. Cereza herself says "The glasses aren't magic silly, I can see the monsters without them". When handing them to him though, she does tap the lenses with her finger doing "Something" magical to them, if the brief flash of light that results is anything to go by.
  • In Bayonetta 2, Luka gets another pair of glasses that let him see into Purgatorio from Rodin in exchange for some genuine sake. However, he unfortunately forgets that being able to see things in Purgatorio is not the same as being able to touch them.
  • In Clive Barker's Undying, using the Scrye magic allows Patrick to see or hear the past, reveal hidden truths or creepy foreshadowing.
  • In Cold War, Carter's camera gets replaced with a prototype weapon camera to frame him as an assassin, it can see through walls as well as fire a burst of radiation to knock out foes/detonate environmental objects.
  • In Counterfeit Monkey, objects can be changed by changing letters in the words that make them up. However, the government is equipped with special monocles that can reveal the shadow of a changed object's original word, which they use to make sure citizens aren't smuggling anything. The player has access to one of them, and it's one of the most important tools at their disposal.
  • The first two Dark Fall games feature special eyewear that lets you see ghosts, Invisible Writing, and even into the past.
  • In The Darkside Detective, a View-Master toy, with the addition of the appropriate occult symbols, becomes an artifact that lets the possessor see and hear ghosts.
  • In Faria, the Mad Scientist's Magic Glasses allow you to see Invisible Monsters.
  • The premise of Flashback is that the protagonist created special glasses that allowed him to see the density of objects. As he walked around with them on, he noticed that some people were much heavier than they should be...
  • As in the Live-Action Film section above, James Bond uses these:
    • In Agent Under Fire, they allow him to see hidden panels.
    • In NightFire, they allow him to see enemies behind walls (their skeletons register as pink blobs against a blue background).
    • Bond's erstwhile counterpart, GoldenEye, has MRI Vision thanks to his bionic eye-implant.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Lens of Truth in Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask is purported to see through illusions, as well as see invisible or hidden elements. Likewise, the Cross in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link allows Link to see invisible enemies (namely Moas).
  • In Mega Man Star Force, Geo Stelar has the Visualizer, a pair of glasses that lets him see the wave world.
  • Metroid:
    • Super Metroid: Despite being called the "X-Ray Scope", when Samus uses it, invisible objects appear, objects that aren't really there disappear, objects that require a specific weapon to destroy (Normal Bomb, Super Missile, Power Bomb, or Speed Booster) show an icon of that weapon, and Pit Blocks (the ones that crumble when you try to walk on them) are revealed.
    • Metroid Prime: The X-Ray Visor lets Samus see through fake and destructible objects, and reveals invisible things. It is the only way to keep Chozo Ghosts visible.
    • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes: The Dark Visor allows Samus to see objects and elements that are either invisible, or cross-dimensional (between the Light and Dark Worlds).
    • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption: The X-Ray Visor returns, now allowing Samus to see the symbols and characters of special keyboards she must use to write codes in Pirate Homeworld. She can also use the visor to see through Phazite plates and activate certain gizmos when using the Nova Beam.
  • Pokémon:
    • The Silph Scope in Pokémon Red and Blue allowed the player to see the real form of wild ghost Pokemon.
    • The Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire games have the Devon Scope, which allows the player to see invisible Pokemon. Though it only needs to be used once to progress, there are several other hidden Pokemon in the routes near Fortree and Lilycove.
    • In the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon spinoffs, Goggle Specs play a similar role to the Devon Scope, plus the ability to see traps.
    • An eyepiece known as the Aura Reader exists in Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness; it allows the wearer to sense the dark aura of a Shadow Pokemon. It also serves as the restraining bolt, locking the Snag Machine's function as long as a Shadow Pokemon is not on the field.
  • In Persona 4, the protagonist and his nakama are able to see inside of the T.V. world and fight the shadows there thanks to special glasses (or, at least the lenses are special) that are made by the resident mascot character, Teddie, because "he gets bored when left alone." Bonus points for, during the game's true ending, having the protagonist discard his glasses — no longer needing them to see the Truth — and use his Eleventh Hour Super Power against the Mistress of all of the fog and mystery, Izanami.
  • Quest for Glory II has X-ray specs which can be bought at one point in the game and serve no purpose other than to let you see pixelated boobies. And take a bite out of your Honor.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, one of the functions of the Demon Summoning Program is to turn the electronic HUD of your Demonica armor into one of these — only someone with this program installed to their Demonica can see the demons inhabiting the Schwarzwelt — and even then, it has limitations.
  • This is one of the mechanics in The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants. Your X-ray specs show which people are disguised aliens.
  • Much gameplay in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell revolves around using your military-grade goggles at opportune points. Night vision is easily explained away, otherwise you'd be playing a black screen half the time. A data stick provided by a neutralized enemy in the first game reveals that the mines around the compound Sam is infiltrating are designed to be visible to thermal cameras so that allies can see the mines and avoid them. Thermal vision also gets more unique uses as the series goes on; from Pandora Tomorrow alone it's used to identify a man with a prosthetic leg in one mission, then much later to identify a group of terrorists who are planning to detonate a smallpox bomb in an airport, and are running a high fever because they've recently vaccinated themselves as a precaution.
  • In Spyro: Attack of the Rhynocs, The Phoenix Shades, a pair of ruby-tinted heart-shaped glasses that allow Spyro to see invisible teleporters.
  • Tsukihime reverses this. Its main character wears special glasses that hide the "lines of death" which he is otherwise forced to see.

  • In Ava's Demon, Ava is given these by Wrathia, which allow her to see haunted hosts and their demons. Through the lens, a pacted host appears as their demon while an unpacted host appears with a pattern associated with their demon that connects to where their demon is. It also shows injuries, such as Odin's bodily scar. At one point, the lens get cracked, causing strange starry fluid to leak from them. Odin gets some in his eye, which reveals that the fluid is responsible for the supernatural nature of the lens.
  • Penny Blackfeather has spirit glasses that let you see snow spirits and whatnot.
  • The first storyline of webcomic Veena has the title character find shades that let her see ghosts.

    Web Original 
  • WitchCraft SMP: Pris obtains one from the guardian of the Spirit Realm in her 11th episode. The spyglass can be used to detect people who are possessed by spirits and ghosts, as they glow when seen through its crystal lens.

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, hiding out in an abandoned funhouse allowed Shaggy and Scooby to see what the carnival was really like.
  • Troubles the Cat's Troublescope in the short lived Sesame Workshop series Big Bag allows Troubles (and thus the audience) to see how a character is really feeling.
  • In the Ever After High "Thronecoming", special, Cedar Wood is indirectly given a pair of these called revealer rays by her father, Pinocchio. Similar to the example pictured above, it has a little pixie that points out whether someone is lying.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: In the Oh Yeah! Cartoons short "Scout's Honor", Timmy's fairies take him to the Mythical Forest. It looks like any other forest to the naked eye, so they give him a pair of magic glasses to see it.
  • In the episode "Germs", Invader Zim bought a pair of goggles that allowed him to see the (normally invisibly tiny) teeming masses of bacteria covering everything and everyone. They even came in a holographic trial version.
  • The Life and Times of Juniper Lee uses a magical amulet instead of glasses, but the effect remains the same.
  • The opening of Men in Black: The Series shows a special visor that lets you see if someone is an alien in disguise.
  • Puff's smoke rings have this effect in Puff the Magic Dragon. Looking through them allows Puff and jackie to see that the giant pirate Very Long secretly wants to be a baker.
  • In the pilot episode of Victor and Valentino, the duo are trapped in a maze, but come across Achi, who is running a stand of useful items, but the catch is that they can only take one. Victor impulsively picks the only useless item there, the luchador mask. However, when the duo return to the world of the living, they discover that the luchador mask allows them to see the undead spirits (and discover that their grandmother is... otherworldy) in their otherwise desolated town.

    Real Life 
  • You can buy glasses that are a sort of prism. They reveal the actual colors given off by lights. These are probably using diffraction gratings — essentially pieces of glass or plastic with lots of tiny parallel lines etched into them (mechanically or by hologram). This separates incoming light into its component colors for rainbow vision. Higher-precision versions are the basic components of spectroscopes.
  • Polarized glasses allow you to see, among other nifty things, density distortions in glass. And it's easy to make a stronger version using something that emits polarized light to see the distortions in water caused by anything moving through it.
  • There's an LCD mod where you can have your LCD seemingly emit white light and by wearing special glasses, you can see what's on the screen. It's actually taking one of the polarization filters out and turning it into glasses.
  • Some material is transparent to infrared rays, but opaque to the visible spectrum. This makes Infrared Xray Camera very partially Truth in Television