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Sudden Eye Colour

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You look different, Garfield. Let me guess: new haircut?

It was once quite common for characters to have Black Dot Pupils, sometimes in the form of Black Bead Eyes or Pie Eyes instead of having irises. While it's in no way rare these days, it's also not quite as typical as it was before. In remakes, sequels of older media or (in the case of Long-Runners) as the series progresses, the characters will often be given coloured irises instead of their traditional dots.

Another variation is for irises to appear coloured during special circumstances, such as an Art Shift to a less simplistic style or when a character undergoes a transformation.

The permanent variant is a sub-trope to Art Evolution and is often a sub-trope to Early Installment Character-Design Difference. The temporary ones is often a subtrope of Sudden Anatomy.


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  • Chuck E. Cheese and his bandmates did not have eye colors up until the "Rockstar" relaunch, where they receive such; Chuck E. and Munch got green eyes, Helen has blue, and Jasper and Pasqually's became brown. Prior to this, their animatronics for the restaurant stage shows gave them eye colors, which Chuck E. and Helen alternating back and forth between blue and green eyes per location and setup.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon: The Series:
      • In the anime, Ash had always been depicted with brown eyes, but they only normally looked brown during close-up shots or in dramatic moments. Otherwise, they come across as black. Come Pokémon the Series: Black & White and he got redesigned to have his eyes colored brown at all times.
      • Other characters have followed suit over the years, such as Charmander's original owner Damian having purple eyes in a flashback instead of Black Bead Eyes.
      • This also occurs to the Pokémon themselves. For example, Flareon were originally depicted with completely black eyes that had blue shading in certain scenes. Starting with Pokémon the Series: Black & White, they consistently have green eyes. Meowth had almost black eyes with only mild blue shading in the Original Series, but his eyes eventually became full-on blue.
    • Yellow from Pokémon Adventures had Black Bead Eyes in her colored artwork until the Firered and Leafgreen arc gave her an eye color. Fans are torn on whether it's stylized brown, green, or yellowish-green.
    • Inverted with Red's Pikachu in Pocket Monsters. He originally had green eyes, but by Ruby and Sapphire was rebooted to having Black Bead Eyes like most Pikachu.
  • Naruto: Konohamaru had this occur to him post-series. When shown as a teenager and an adult in Boruto he has either blue or brown eyes, in contrast to the Black Bead Eyes he had throughout Part 1 and Part 2.
  • Wakako in Wakako Zake has very large, solid black irises in the manga, but in the anime adaptation, her irises are yellow and tan, and there's some suggestion of pupils.
  • Most male One Piece characters usually only have Black Dot Pupils, but the Animation Bump associated with the Wano Country arc gave most of them thin gray irides. Luffy also has visible brown irises in Boa Hancock's shoujo style fantasies.
  • In Dragon Ball a character going Super Saiyan will turn their black eyes green.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: In the pre-art shift seasons, all the Supermen except Careful S. have plain black eyes with highlights inside. In Season 10, the black parts are given a more noticeable brown hue.

    Comic Books 
  • The Archie Comics characters traditionally drawn with black eyes, but are occasionally depicted with iris colors (for example, Betty had blue eyes went when goth, but normal eyes in her normal attire). Spinoffs have a tendency of giving them eye colors:
    • It's never been too consistent, but Archie almost always has Innocent Blue Eyes, while Veronica, Betty, and Jughead either have blue eyes or brown eyes.
    • Sabrina from Sabrina the Teenage Witch originally had black eyes, but in the 2000s, Archie's began giving her blue eyes, though prior dialogue stated that she had green eyes.
    • The Archie Comics (2015) reboot has a far less stylized art style then before, and everyone now has colored eyes. Archie is now a Significant Green-Eyed Redhead, Betty has blue eyes, Veronica has brown eyes, etc.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic the Comic:
      • This happened in-universe. Originally, Sonic had black eyes that "glowed green with Chaos energy" when he went Super Sonic. Later, he was attacked by a creature of pure Chaos energy, and the experience turned his eyes permanently green (or red in Super Sonic mode), in order to match the changes to his videogame design. According to one post-series cover, this might have been retconned away so that he gained green eyes in the same accident that caused his blue fur.
      • To follow with the games changing art style, Sonic the Comic gave the Freedom Fighters new eye colors part-way into the Sonic Adventure adaptation. Amy and Tails have brown eyes, while Johnny and Porker Lewis both have blue eyes. Knuckles has Icy Blue Eyes as well.
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), Mighty, Ray, and Nack were given redesigns to make them fit amongst the post-Adventure redesigns. All three characters received blue eyes.
  • Norby: The characters' eyes shift from tiny black dots with skin-coloured sclerae to black dots with white sclera when the characters are closer, to fully-coloured irises when closest to the "camera". Because of the way that the second adaptation tries to preserve eye details, the constant shifting between showing and not showing irises is absent there.

    Fan Works 
  • In Ruby Stars, Sadie's eyes are described as green pre-gem lodging, while they're black in the show.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The film adaptation of Garfield made the titular cat into a Significant Green-Eyed Redhead.
  • Christopher Robin gave the plush inhabitants of the Hundred-Acre Wood more realistic glass doll eyes in various colors. Tigger's eyes are bright green, Eeyore's are amber, and Piglet, Kanga and Roo all have dark brown eyes. Only Pooh himself retains his animated counterpart's Black Bead Eyes.
  • Occurs twice in Space Jam:
    • Bugs Bunny suddenly gains irises just after the Monstars burst into Schlesinger's Gym to assess the opposition. Michael Jordan asks, "Who are they?" Bugs's response is, "Remember the little aliens I told you about?" then hides behind Michael's shoulder and points at the towering bruisers, eyes wide with fear. For the record, Bugs has dark brown irises.
    • Daffy Duck demonstrates some Toon Physics to Michael Jordan by getting his neck stretched Beyond the Impossible, stating, "See? No sweat. This is Looney Tune Land." with Daffy shows his darling blue irises at that moment.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Rare live-action example— Leela in Doctor Who originally had brown eyes as a hangover from an original plan to have her Ambiguously Brown. The actress, Louise Jameson, had naturally blue eyes, and had a lot of trouble with the colour-changing contact lenses she had to wear, so at the end of the story "Horror of Fang Rock", Leela's eyes are explicitly turned blue in story due to looking too closely at a laser beam and/or exploding spaceship.
  • Code Lyoko: Evolution changed the traditionally animated segments of Code Lyoko to live action segments. The CGI "Lyoko" parts are higher quality as well. Instead of generic "black" eyes, the characters have eye colours in animated form. Odd has light brown eyes, Aelita has green eyes, Yumi has brown eyes, and Ulrich has brown eyes.

    Video Games 
  • Pac-Man: Pac-Man has almost always been depicted as Pie-Eyed. Even when he's not, his eyes were always black, except for an old international design that had red sclera. The 2010 game Pac Man Party gave most of the characters a redesign, which included giving Pac-Man blue eyes.
  • Alex from Alex Kidd had Black Bead Eyes in his source games. His appearance in Segagaga has him with green eyes, while his appearance in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing has him with blue eyes.
  • In general, the Pokémon characters began having eye colors around Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, with most adaptations following soon afterwards, instead of generic black eyes. For example, Red and Blue gained brown eyes in their remakes, while Ethan and Silver gained blue and grey ones, respectively.
  • As a part of the redesigns for Sonic Adventure, most of the Sonic the Hedgehog characters went from having Black Dot Pupils to having colored ones. Sonic has green, Tails has blue, Amy also has green, and Knuckles has violet.
  • Donkey Kong:
  • Early games in The Legend of Zelda franchise did not show Link's or Zelda's eye colors. Later games give Link Innocent Blue Eyes and Zelda usually has blue eyes as well.
  • Crash's eyes were meant to be green in Crash Bandicoot (1996), but his model only shows Black Dot Pupils. His higher poly model from the sequel shows his eye color.
  • Kirby: The earlier games (like Kirby's Dream Land) had the titular Kirby having simple dots/lines as eyes. Later games would give his eyes dark blue highlights.
  • Spyro the Dragon: Spyro in the original Playstation trilogy has black eyes, although they were always meant to be purple. On the cover of Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly he is depicted with purple eyes, yet his in-game model had black eyes. In Spyro: A Hero's Tail his model has light purple eyes.
    • Inverted in Spyro Reignited Trilogy. Several characters (such as the originally bright green eyed Sheila) were redesigned to have black eyes. Sheila for example has eyes of an extremely dark shade of green with black pupils.
  • Due the more realistic artstyle, Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Brawl gave the normally Black Bead Eyed Ness and Lucas blue highlights, similar to Kirby. The highlights were done away with in following games, turning them back into completely black beads.

    Web Animation 

  • Dumbing of Age: Most of the characters are drawn with plain black eyes with lead character Joyce being the most obvious exception. Glasses-wearing Ruth was given black eyes as well initially, until cartoonist David Willis looked at his older art of her and remembered that he had given her green eyes. In order to fit the change into the story, he had the switch-over happen the moment Ruth's love interest Billie first started to see Ruth as a person rather than an antagonist, so it works as visual symbolism.
  • El Goonish Shive: Distinct irises made their debut on the last strip of the Family Tree storyline in the second last panel. The first time colored irises were seen was in a sketchbook strip the next day. Dan has continued to include irises ever since, though since the story comics are in grayscale, colored irises have been seen only in sketchbook strips and in the Squirrel Prophet storyline, the last time the story comics were in color.
  • Homestuck: All of the main characters were originally drawn with just their pupils, but as the series started to use more sophisticated art styles, it was revealed that the main characters have irises matching their writing color, with the exception of Karkat (red eyes) and Sollux (red and blue sclerae with no pupils or irises).
  • Mob Psycho 100: Mob is typically depicted as a Beady-Eyed Loser with solid black pupils, but the Art Shift that accompanies his emotional explosions (and an extreme close up while being strangled by Teruki) occasionally Open the Iris just wide enough to show that his eyes are actually dark red.

    Western Animation 
  • Finn from Adventure Time usually has Black Bead Eyes. However, "The Enchiridion!" and "Together Again" both include shots where he is shown to have blue eyes; additionally, one shot in "The Enchiridion!" depicts him with one green and one blue eye at a side-effect of him being hypnotized.
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: The chipmunks didn't gain their signature eye colors until The Chipmunk Adventure, when Alvin and Simon were given blue eyes, and Theodore was given green eyes. Subsequent episodes of the 1980s series that were produced by DiC followed suit. Prior to that, the Ruby-Spears produced episodes and previous incarnations gave each of them plain, black eyes.
  • Big City Greens:
    • In "DIY Guys", Bill suddenly gets big green irises when he sees a pile of toilets about to crash down on him.
    • Cricket's Nightmare Sequence in "Hiya Henry" gives the Greens different eye colors when they turn into ventriloquist zombies; Cricket's are blue, Gramma's are brown, and Tilly and Bill's turn green. This happens again in "Honey Heist" when the kids are watching the sloshing honey, and "Long Goodbye" when the Greens are convincing Gramma and Remy to let them stay longer.
    • The figures of Cricket on his wedding cake in "Flimflammed" have medium blue irises.
    • In "Papa-Ganda" and "Listen Up!" when Cricket is whining over Bill, he briefly gets pale blue irises.
  • In the ChalkZone episode "Gift Adrift", Penny briefly takes her glasses off, showing that she has dark brown eyes. In all other episodes, they're just plain black dots (though sometimes given a blue tint only when her glasses are on).
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door, nearly all characters have Black Bead Eyes. In one episode though, Numbuh Four starts to hallucinate from heat and hunger. His irises grow large, showing that he has green eyes.
  • For the "Action Delivery Force" segment in the Futurama episode "Reincarnation," Fry's eyes are green, Leela's is blue, and Amy's are lavender.
  • An animesque Art Shift in the finale for Gravity Falls shows Dipper with brown eyes and Wendy with green.
  • In the Animesque art shift of one The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode, Mandy was depicted as having blue eyes.
  • In Season 1 of Kim Possible, Monique had black eyes with Skintone Sclerae, unusual since no other character in the show had those. As of Season 2, she was given brown eyes with the same design as every other character.
  • Initial drafts of the Loonatics Unleashed had the six heroes appear without irises or pupils while in uniform. Fan outcry compelled Warner Brothers to redesign the characters with colored irises and pupils, except while using their superpowers.
  • When Daffy Duck and Sylvester of Looney Tunes are given irises, they are normally green. An exception is in the Looney Tunes Cartoons episode "Booby Prize", where Daffy's eyes are instead blue.
  • In The Loud House, at least two characters were shown to have blue eyes: Lola when using a periscope in "Study Muffin", and Lincoln in a Nightmare Sequence in "Predict Ability".
  • The Soft Reboot of The Magic School Bus, The Magic School Bus Rides Again, uses a new art style that gives everyone eye colours.
  • Scorpi from Mixels has near-permanent Puppy-Dog Eyes consisting of a black pupil with highlights. However, when he emphasizes his cuteness, he gains silver irises.
  • In My Life as a Teenage Robot: Most characters have solid black PieEyed pupils as a homage to Inkblot cartoons. When Sheldon shines bright light at Don Prima's eyes to sabotage Jenny's date with Don Prima at Mezmer's, in the Silver Shell robot, Don Prima's eyes are briefly shown to be blue while Jenny admires.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes:
    • KO is shown to have brown eyes in "You're Level 100!", when he gets his eyes scanned for a Pow Card. This is the first time in the series that his irises are shown.
    • In episodes involving TKO, some scenes go out of their way to show that KO has brown eyes, TKO has purple eyes, and PKO has gold eyes. In particular, "TKO's House" and "Dark Plaza" both include scenes where the camera zooms in on his eyes in order to show who's currently in control of their body.
    • In "I Am Dendy", an anime style Art Shift shows K.O.'s eyes as brown and Dendy's as blue.
    • Inverted with Red Action. She had green eyes prior to "Back in Red Action", but a slight redesign in the aforementioned episode changed her eyes to black.
  • The normally black-eyed Daisy Duck has purple eyes in Quack Pack. Future incarnations remove her eye colour.
  • In Rocko's Modern Life, almost all of the characters typically had standard cartoon eyes, though on occasion during the later seasons, Heffer was shown to have green pupils (not irises), and Filburt and the Bigheads were show to have purple pupils. Rocko's are blue, but are only seen during his freakouts.
  • Rugrats:
    • In the unaired pilot, Tommy's eyes are shown to be blue in a close-up.
    • The short lived spinoff Angelica and Suzie's Preschool Daze uses a different artstyle from other Rugrats series. All the characters consistently have eye colors. Angelica has blue eyes, Suzie has brown eyes, and Harold also has blue eyes.
    • Toys often gave Angelica purple eyes for whatever reason. Other toys give her brown eyes.
  • In Sabrina: The Animated Series Salem is depicted with black eyes, but the sequel series Sabrina's Secret Life gives him yellow eyes instead.
  • Scooby-Doo:
  • The Simpsons:
    • In one episode, Marge complains that Homer doesn't remember what her eye color is. For one closeup shot in that episode, she had irises. They're hazel.
    • In a realistic Art Shift, the Simpson children were all depicted with blue eyes.
  • A few characters in Steven Universe have varied between uncolored and colored pupils/irises:
    • Rubies (yes, all of them) vary between black eyes and red eyes, even for the same individual.
    • Onion originally had black eyes, which were changed to very dark red in most later appearances.
    • A short scene in "Keep Beach City Weird" shows Peedee Fryman with brown eyes.
    • Kofi had brown eyes in the first season, but uncolored/black ones afterward.
  • South Park:
    • All the boys gained colored eyes in their anime versions for "Good Times With Weapons".
    • Kenny has been explicitly shown to have blue eyes on at least one other occasion, when his eye was pulled out in "Starvin Marvin".
  • The chibified redesigns of Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go give the engines irises; notably, Thomas is given blue eyes that match his livery.
  • In Total DramaRama Owen has green irises, Gwen's are blue and Courtney's are brown. In the main series, all characters' irises were black.
  • VeggieTales in the House gives the characters newer models and, most noticeably, eye colors.
  • In Wander over Yonder, Wander only gets irises when under stress or making puppy dog eyes. Hater already has green eyes, but gets irises of a darker shade when he's stressed. Anyone who is hypnotized by Little Bits will get two-tone green irises.
  • Zigzagged with Victoria Best from WordGirl. Like the other characters, she typically has black dots for her eyes, but in episode "Don't Mess with the Best", there's a brief close-up shot of her face, and it's revealed she has red eyes. The zigzagged part comes in with the fact that Victoria's eyes can glow red whenever she uses her eye beam power to pull items towards her, so it's not her true eye color.
  • Young Justice: Mayor Tompkins and Sheriff Maguire, who are direct expys of Mayor Jones and Sheriff Stone from Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated to the point of even sharing their source material's Ink Suit Actors, Gary Cole and Patrick Warburton accordingly, have brown eyes and light blue eyes respectively in Young Justice's more realistic artstyle.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Sudden Eye Color


Marcy's Brown Eyes

Marcy's eyes briefly enlarge and are shown to be brown.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / SuddenEyeColour

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