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Staring Contest

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Regular Show, "Peeps"

For proper effect, try to read this without blinking.

A Staring Contest is a competition where a number of players (usually two) must lock sights with each other's eyes and stare for as long as possible. The first player to look away or blink loses.

As an optional rule, the players may do anything they want (without touching the other player) to try to get the other player to look away or blink.

Compare Staring Down Cthulhu, which is a bit more extreme. May involve a Lightning Glare.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon Tamers: The dub has Guilmon give the excuse of a staring contest when he initially doesn't run away from a D-Reaper agent.
  • In the first Pokémon short Pikachu's Vacation, Snubbull has challenges with Squirtle and Bulbasaur this way. Squirtle falls back, Bulbasaur rolls its eyes until Snubbull gets dizzy.
  • RIN-NE: In episode 12, Rokumon incorrectly recalls this event happening between Sakura and Ageha when the former sees the latter holding hands with Rinne. The narrator, and in this example, Rinne himself, state that this is not what happened.

    Comic Books 
  • In Judge Dredd, as of 2134, competitive staring is a professional sport in Mega-City one with a relatively small but growing following.
  • Issue #39 of The Powerpuff Girls ("Stared Straight," DC run) had Blossom and Buttercup in a staring contest. They are oblivious to Mojo Jojo's usual hijinks, so it's Bubbles who sets them right.

    Comic Strips 
  • Beetle Bailey: Sarge and Beetle are having one. Beetle gains an advantage because he falls asleep during it.
  • Crabgrass: Kevin and Miles engage in one in a sunday comic. Kevin actually practices in a mirror beforehand, and when Miles proves too hard to beat, he resorts to an Eye Poke to win.
  • A Garfield strip has the titular character initiate a staring contest against a goldfish. Then Jon informs him that fish don't have eyelids.
    • In another strip, after beating Jon and Odie, he notices his reflection in a mirror. He says that it will be a tough challenge.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 
  • Referenced in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. After Owlman gives a "Not So Different" Remark to Batman, Batman tells him that there is one difference between them: "We both looked into the abyss, but when it looked back at us, you blinked."
  • In a teaser trailer for Kung Fu Panda 2, Po challenges the audience to a "Kung Fu staring contest". After unblinkingly staring at the camera for a few seconds, he remarks "You guys look amazing, by the way."

  • Averted in Artemis Fowl, where Butler and an equally large bodyguard don't engage in this trope. Butler has previously shown that he has a very effective Death Glare, but here the narration notes that both men are blinking normally so as to avoid dry eyeballs, and that staring contests are for amateurs.
  • In the Discworld novel Lords and Ladies, Granny Weatherwax is challenged to a staring contest with a twist by up-and-coming witch Diamanda. They won't be staring at each other, but at the sun.
  • RWBY: Fairy Tales of Remnant: One of the stories is "The Man Who Stared at the Sun", or "The Farmer and the Sun". In the story, the Farmer and the Sun have a wager. If the Farmer wins, the Sun will always shine the ideal temperature on his crops so long as his family diligently works the land. If the Sun wins, the Farmer and his family will praise and worship the Sun and spread that worship to other people. The Farmer first tries to race the Sun, but the Sun demands a staring contest instead. After weeks of holding the contest, with the Sun constantly trying to trick the Farmer into looking away, the Sun eventually has to forfeit because the rest of the world was suffering without its light. In the end, it's revealed that the Farmer went blind shortly after the contest started and was faking staring at the Sun to win. The Sun is angry at being tricked, but keeps his side of the wager in honor of the Farmer's sacrifice.

    Live Action TV 
  • The sketch comedy show Almost Live! once did a bit where two guys get into a staring contest that goes on for years, with one of them even getting married in the process, with the other guy being his best man. His wife finally gets fed up and storms out, her slamming the door behind her causing both men to blink simultaneously. They immediately start in on a "holding your breath" contest...
  • BattleBots: Parodied during a Cold Open in which host Kenny Florian is engaged in a staring contest with HUGE. Bear in mind that HUGE is one of the robots and is thus incapable of blinking (and doesn't have functional eyes in the first place). Kenny wins. HUGE is not happy.
  • Big Train had a poorly drawn cartoon sketch of the World Stare-out Championships. A streaker even interrupted one of the matches.
  • Broad City: In the episode "Rat Pack," Jaimé and Ilana get in one with the exterminator over his $400 fee. The exterminator wins.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Weeping Angels ability (they can't move but can't be hurt, as they lock themselves out of time, when being looked at) forces you to get into these for your life. If you so much as blink, the Angel is going to Flash Step next to you and kill you before your eyelids have time to open again. They also have a second sneaky trick in that if you look them directly in the eye, they will animate the image of the angel in your retina, which will claw it's way out of your eye and kill you anyway. To be safe, you have to look at them, but NOT in the eye.
    • Then along comes the Silence, which if you look away you'll forget they ever existed. You must maintain contact with one of them, otherwise they'll kill you when you fail to remember them.
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Bucky Barnes' court-mandated therapist makes him and Sam Wilson try the "staring into the soul" exercise, where they face each other and say why the other person bothers them. After a few seconds Sam and Bucky turn it into a staring contest leaving the therapist frustrated at their immaturity.
    Dr. Raynor: Wait, what are you doing? Are you having a staring contest? Just blink! (snaps fingers) Sweet Jesus.
  • Frasier: A common gag in the early seasons was the title character being stared at by Eddie, his father's Jack Russell Terrier. One time Frasier decided to try and turn it into one of these. He lost after about five seconds.
    Frasier: It's like his eyes turned into sorcerer's pinwheels and started spinning!
    • Another episode has everything going Fraiser's way for once, and so he starts another contest and triumphantly chases Eddie off the couch.
  • Sesame Street: Episode 3346 revolves around one between Big Bird and Snuffy. The former keeps losing, so he asks Carlo to help him practice. When he still loses despite all that, Carlo says while staring contests are fun, they might not be his thing.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Late into Atmosfear, the Gatekeeper tells one of the players to look into his eyes and keep looking, lest they lose a key. It lasts for two minutes.
  • 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. The original Oriental Adventures supplement has the Psychic Duel. When two opponents meet, they stare at each other, each testing their respective willpower and courage against the other. Normally, the loser of the duel acknowledges the other character as the winner and turns away. If combat occurs after the duel is over, the loser has a -1 penalty to their initiative, saving throws and "to hit" rolls.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney Investigations: The fourth case reveals that Edgeworth once won a glaring contest against his own reflection. Somehow.
  • Kings Quest (2015): In Chapter 4, King Graham is goaded into one with his daughter, Princess Rosella. He doesn't really want to have one, but she reminds him that there's actually a law in Daventry which states that no one can refuse a staring contest when challenged by a member of the royal family — including members of the royal family.
  • Skylanders: Eye-Brawl is a two-man team of a flying eyeball and a headless giant. Their backstory starts with them having a staring contest, but since neither was capable of blinking, things escalated.
  • Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 2: The Siege of Spinner Cay: Guybrush places Hardtack and Trenchfoot into a staring contest, into which our hero can distract the pirate duo into looking behind them so he can place the Pyrite Parrot into the treasure chest, in hopes that he can find where they'll bury it along with one of the Summoning Artifacts later.


    Web Videos 
  • Key & Peele once pitted tattooed, scarred, and otherwise brutal looking thugs against a Cute Kitten named Snowball in a staring contest as a promotional clip for their movie Keanu. The kitten won each time.
  • SMBC Theater offers us the ultimate Staring Contest, which is quite extreme.

    Western Animation 
  • The Angry Beavers: The episode "Stare and Stare Alike" centers around this. Dagget and Norbert spend so much time trying to out-stare one another they forget what started the contest in the first place, and end up missing out on a call-in contest.
  • The Brak Show had a whole episode revolving around a staring contest. Dad is a champion of staring contests. While he easily tricks Brak into blinking, Zorak's a much harder target. Unfortunately for Zorak, the juices of his eyes start attracting wasps, which sting his eyeballs (And he STILL doesn't blink). He's dragged away to the hospital under protest, because he still wants to win. At the end of the episode, Dad's old nemesis, The Eye (A giant anthromorphic eyeball) says up and offers a challenge. Dad quickly goes back to his paper and mutters for him to go to hell.
  • In Central Park, Season 1 "Hat Luncheon", Bitsy has a staring contest with her dog Shampagne, and while she always wins, Shampagne doesn't seem to get the purpose of the contest.
  • In Courage the Cowardly Dog, Katz and Courage have an epic duel to the death in the form of a staring contest.
  • DuckTales (2017): As seen in "The Infernal Internship of Mark Beaks!", old rivals Scrooge McDuck and Flintheart Glomgold apparently spend all their shared time in their Billionaires Club sitting in the middle of a room divided down the middle glaring hatefully at each other in "a vision-based battle of wills".
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: One short had Mac and Bloo having such a contest. It turned out Bloo wasn't blinking because he was hiding behind a cardboard cutout of himself.
  • Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi: Featured for Episode 10's Live Action Segment, where Ami attempts to hypnotize Yumi near the end of the contest. Yumi wins the contest when Ami sneezes, but Yumi does not stop staring at Ami.
  • Metalocalypse: One of the DVD extras is of a staring contest between Skwisgaar and Toki, with Toki taking it very seriously and Skwisgaar trying to make small talk. In the end, Skwisgaar blinks first and Toki tries to make him lick a dildo as his forfeit. (Skwisgaar refuses because the idea is fascinating to him and he'd rather do it on his own terms, and Toki forgot to bring a dildo anyway.)
    Skwisgaar: "This is, this is what you wanted to do... Of all the stuff we could has dones... this was it."
  • Molly of Denali: Molly and Tooey are having a staring contest at the start of the episode "Lights, Camera, Patak." Tooey blinks when Mr. Patak arrives.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Rainbow Dash and Applejack have one near the beginning of "Castle Mane-ia", in the form of the "bee stare" where they have to stand still when covered in bees.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In one episode, Patrick does one with himself. In another, both he and SpongeBob have one.
  • Work It Out Wombats!: In "Happy New Acorn Year," Malik, Zadie, and Zeke try to stay awake by having a staring contest. Eventually, they all lose.

    Real Life 
  • In Real Life, the easiest (though admittedly underhanded) way to win a staring contest is to blow gently into your opponent's eyes so that they will be forced to blink due to dryness.
  • Derren Brown once challenged random passersby to a staring contest. Somehow, without saying anything, he would cause the other person to feel very uncomfortable and close their eyes. In one case, a guy actually screamed and grabbed his head, until Derren helped him. This only fuels David Tennant's conclusion that Derren is a witch. See the contest here.
  • Viktor Suvorov described how, during his time in the Spy School, he was taught that no man can be recruited unless you can win a Staring Contest with him; otherwise, he has the stronger will. Suvorov spent quite a bit of time in the zoo, staring down tigers as practice.
  • Invoked during the Cuban Missile Crisis to describe the tense situation between the USA and USSR. At the time the US government established a blockade of Cuba with Soviet ships en route and within sight of the US Navy. The Soviets then turned around. The statement went "We've been eyeball to eyeball and I think the other guy just blinked."


The Bee Stare

Rainbow Dash and Applejack stare down each other while covered in bees.

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