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Black eyes:

  1. Black being a negative color, these tend to show up on characters who are sinister, gritty, mysterious or not-entirely-honest. There is something unnerving about not being able to distinguish the pupil, as that makes them hard to read.
  2. Sometimes, the black means deep sadness instead of danger, the color of grieving.
  3. Black being an "empty" color, it may signify lack of emotion.
  4. Hirsute and poorly groomed characters, for some reason. They may just be lacking in eyegeine.
  5. Or it could just be how the art style represents Brown Eyes in order to reduce animation costs.

The Hero almost never has these, but anyone else in the Five-Man Band can, and they're down-right common among villains and antiheroes.

In nature, black eyes are rare and usually coupled with dark skin and almost can't be found with a pale complexion, so they're sometimes used to make a character seem exotic. However, there is a rare condition called aniridia where the eyes really are black, as the iris is missing. See the other Wiki for more details (importantly, this condition severely impairs vision). It's not impossible for someone with very dark Brown Eyes to be mistaken for having these in real life.

This trope has nothing to do with Amusing Injuries.

If they're black and monochromatic, they're Black Eyes of Evil. If they're nothing but just black dots, they're Black Bead Eyes.

Examples of Black Eyes include:


Anime & Manga

  • Izzy and Joe from Digimon Adventure. Joe is the worry-wart and Izzy is the TV Genius. Izzy also fits the part of this trope dealing with hiding things, since he's actually adopted, and knows it, though he doesn't want his parents to know that he knows.
  • Quite a few characters from Dragonball Z appear to have these, but you can tell (albeit by looking closely) that everyone but Piccolo has very (VERY) dark Brown Eyes, with thin irises that make it hard to discern their color. Vegeta fits the "black eyes = gritty" personality, but most of the rest of the cast have these too and many of them are nice and cheerful.
  • L from the Death Note manga (they are grey in the anime) has muted, dull black eyes, which when paired with his dark shaggy hair and the shadows under his eyes, add to his mysterious and melancholy appearance. His supposedly tragic past and the fact that many aspects of him are shrouded in mystery make L a worthy owner of black eyes.
    • Near also has the same eyes, but has white hair instead of black.
    • Mello has solid black eyes in the manga, but they're blue in the anime.
  • The Uchihas from Naruto. Except when they're not.
    • Rock Lee has them too, although they're more prominent due to Lee's eyes being almost perfect circles. Subverted due to him being being honest and at times noble to a fault.
    • Kakashi's normal eye is black bordering on dark grey, and not very emphasised, but he also tends to be a "dark" character (and was the "Sasuke" of his team).
  • The first President of the Genshiken in Genshiken has these. He can come off as a bit creepy sometimes with how he is seemingly omniscient of what goes on around the College.
  • Both Luffy and Blackbeard have them in One Piece. Oddly, Luffy has brown eyes during one of Boa Hancock's fantasies.
  • Yukishiro Tomoe of Rurouni Kenshin is described as having black eyes (the animated adaptation of the story arc she appears in makes them dark brown bordering on red in a few shots), and she is indeed mysterious and grieving, though she warms up eventually.
  • Yuri in Kyo Kara Maoh has black eyes. The demon country he's now in charge of view this combination as a sign of his power and/or royalty. He's totally normal, and is nonplussed that what is fairly normal for him (since most people in Japan have naturally dark hair and eyes) is seen as such. He's cheerful, friendly, and not really mourning anything.
  • Karasuma from School Rumble has these, but he's not evil, just really weird.
  • Hei from Darker Than Black. They even provided his Code Name (It's Chinese for "black"). He falls under a lot of the personality traits, too: dangerous, mysterious, not very honest, hard to read, and traumatized and grieving. It's also partially responsible for giving him a permanent Dull Eyes of Unhappiness effect.
  • Osaka from Azumanga Daioh. Like Karasuma, though, she isn't evil, just weird and a bit creepy.
  • Colonel Roy Mustang from Fullmetal Alchemist. Check on "not-entirely-honest": he appears to be a Handsome Lech who wants to become Fuhrer so he can make all female soldiers wear tiny miniskirts! In reality, the girls he "dates" are his spies and he wants to become Fuhrer so he can make the country a democracy. Otherwise, he doesn't fit the personality type too well.
    • He changes to Blue Eyes sometimes in the manga, probably to help emphasis his expressions more.
  • Soul Eater's Crona has eyes that change from pale blue to black, although they're most often black. Chances are the black helps to represent his/her inner sadness... when he/she isn't being controlled and going crazy.
  • Guu from Jungle wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu has these in her standard Creepy Child / Deadpan Snarker mode.
  • The anime version of Sailor Saturn/Hotaru has charcoal-black eyes, part of what makes her scary in her darker moods. Sailor Mars can also seem to have these, though they're really purple in most shots.
  • Quite a few Wandering Son characters have this, mostly the black haired ones.
  • Casca from Berserk is described as having "dark eyes" by Guts, the first physical trait that he comments about her upon their first Intimate Healing encounter. Her eyes are most likely just dark brown, or it could represent the conflicting emotions she has concerning Guts, Griffith, and herself.
  • Leo from Pandora Hearts has these. If anything, he's definitely a messy-haired kid with a lot of issues, most notably dead parents and, recently, a dead best friend. The specks of gold Abyss lights reflected on these eyes make for great effect.


Film

  • Ian Holme's eyes change from blue to black in From Hell at the moment when it becomes clear that he is Jack the Ripper. A truly chilling moment.
  • Both Pinhead and the Female Cenobite have black eyes in the Hellraiser movies, though, what with their mutilated features and black leather suits stitched to their skin, it's simply one drop in the Nightmare Fuel bucket. Both of them (along with the rest of the cenobites, some of whom don't have visible eyes) started off as humans, but the process that changed them also gave them their black irises.
  • Sabretooth in the original X-Men 1 (the irises are also big enough for the sclera to be nearly invisible).
  • Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean often appears to have these. It's actually said to be due to the fact that Johnny Depp wore contact lenses which functioned as sunglasses to prevent his squinting in the tropical sun, but it goes with the fact the character is a Self Proclaimed Liar. It also creates a rather Ambiguously Brown effect, rather than him looking like a white guy with a great tan.
  • Helena Bonham-Carter appears to have this effect too, especially in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.


Literature

  • Hagrid from Harry Potter has small beady black eyes that are described as "glinting like black beetles". He is, of course, quite hairy.
    • According to the very first description of Jo Rowling's one true antihero, Severus Snape, his eyes "were black like Hagrid's, but they had none of Hagrid's warmth. They were cold and empty and made you think of dark tunnels."
    • Though once you've read Deathly Hallows, you realize Snape was revealed to have loved Harry's mother; his eyes were black for the second reason listed above.
  • The book Seventh-Grade Weirdo had a bully who was initially said to have black eyes, but when the protagonist grew a pair and kicked his ass, he got a closer look and saw that they were actually dark brown.
  • Vorbis, the villain of Terry Pratchett's Small Gods, has black eyes,even including the whites as well.
  • Dragaera's Sethra Lavode, a ridiculously powerful vampire sorceress, has an all-black color scheme extending to her eyes. In Dragaera, black symbolizes magic, so it's possible Sethra changed he eye color for that reason. Or it may be because she's undead.
  • From The Three Musketeers, Aramis's beautiful black eyes are often remarked on. He's the sneaky ruthless one among d'Artagnan's True Companions.
  • Vampires in the Twilight universe, most notably the Cullen family, have black eyes when they are thirsty for blood.
  • Angels of the Deepgate Codex books have Kaleidoscope Eyes, with each color signifying a different emotion, but Carnival's eyes are nearly always black. This is supposed to be indicative of murderous rage.
  • In the original James Bond novels, Blofeld has black eyes. Oh, those freaky black eyes...
  • The Aiel ethnicity from The Wheel of Time are said to have black eyes, and described as such disparagingly, to indicate they are soulless or wicked. In fact, most of them have hazel eyes.
    • In fact, this phrase ('as mad as a black-eyed Aiel') is uttered by a character completely ignoring the subject. It even might be just a slip of pen and not a trope because the Aiel are called black-veiled much more often that black-eyed. Also, the eyes of the non-Aiel and non-Seanchan Randlanders are more often black, brown and hazel than not (with the notable exceptions of Elayne, Morgase and Gawyn).
  • Eyrik van Erlik in Yulia Latynina's Inhuman. He is an Anti-Hero Space Pirate Warrior Poet Well-Intentioned Extremist; quite ruthless, but not all that evil by the setting's standards. Not knowingly deceptive. He is somewhat bitter and sorrowful over the destruction of his home settlement, though.
  • The Angel Islington in Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere has pure black irises. He turns out to be the Big Bad.
  • In the first Beka Cooper book, a lady's maid who turns out to be nothing of the sort has these - she was a mage helping in the murders of a case - is black-eyed. So is Rosto the Piper, the Scanran rusher who kills the Rogue and flirts with Beka. This falls under the 'exotic' type, as he also has white-blond hair.
  • Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame is described in the book as having beautiful black eyes with long lashes. In the Disney movie they were changed to green.
  • Harrandatha Estillo, a Creepy Child of the royal family from a flashback in the X Wing Series, has black eyes. He's Royally Screwed-Up, a "thing from the deepest pit of the Sith."
  • In the poem The Highwayman, the titular character's lover, Bess, is described as "the landlord's black-eyed daughter". She is of the second type, and kills herself, so her boyfriend won't come see her the night that the red coats waited for him to show up.
  • Master John in Elizabeth Marie Pope's The Perilous Gard, is described as having black eyes that are "watchful and extraordinarily cold".
  • In Howard Pyle's version of The Story of King Arthur and His Knights, Arthur meets the lady Nimue of the Fay and sees "that her eyes were perfectly black, and that they were as bright and glistening as though they were two jewels set in ivory."
  • Oholibamah in Madeleine L'Engle's Many Waters has black eyes and pale skin, but they're positive: a sign of her exotic nature and her beauty.
  • Johnny Cade from The Outsiders is mentioned many times to have big, black eyes. He also happens to be abused by his parents, and is the quietest one of the gang. Sad and tragic is an understatement for this "little dark puppy that has been kicked too many times and is lost in a crowd of strangers".
  • Cimorene from Patricia Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles is described as having black eyes, although she has none of the above characteristics.
  • Joy from "Shanghai Girls" is described as having deep black eyes.
  • Georgia Mason of the Newsflesh trilogy appears to have black eyes. They started out brown, but as a child she developed a medical condition that left her pupils permanently dilated. This causes her all kinds of headaches and vision problems.
  • Many characters in Robin Hobb's novels are described as black-eyed. Entire families share that trait, usually the main characters and their relatives. However, this is often described as a part of how good they look to other characters.
    • Fitz Chivalry, and most of the Farseer line in the Farseer trilogy, except for Chade Fallstar, his great-uncle, who has green ones.
    • Althea, Wintrow, and the rest of the Vestrit family in the Liveship Traders books.
  • Merrin Meredith in Septimus Heap has deep black eyes and becomes the major antagonist in Queste and Darke.
  • Ivy Carson, in Zilpha Keatley Snyder's The Changeling, has eyes that are "dark grey, a kind of smoky black". She also has coal-black hair and dark skin, described as typical Carson family traits. Snyder based Ivy on a childhood friend, so this may be Truth in Television for her.


Live-Action TV

  • Black eyes are a racial trait of Betazoids in the Star Trek series. In an inversion of the above description, they're perfectly decent people. However, they can read you like a book without showing the visual cues we non-telepaths are used to, which makes them plenty unnerving.
    • Lon Suder, the reluctant but compelled psycho-killer in two episodes of Star Trek Voyager, fit the trope. (The eyes were because he was also a Betazoid--and, ironically, couldn't sense his own emotions.) Combined with his performance, the black eyes sort of gave the impression that you were looking into his soul.
  • In Jekyll, Dr. Jackman's eyes change from brown to black when he becomes Mr. Hyde.


Multiple Media


Music

  • "Black Eyes" by Atlanta band Snowden
  • "Black Eyes" is the English translation title of the Russian song "Очи чёрные" (Transliterated: "Ochi chyornye")
  • "Ebony Eyes" is a popular song title. Different songs, with this same name, have been released by; Stevie Wonder, Bob Welch, The Everly Brothers, Rick James, John D. Loudermilk and The Stylistics.
  • "Eyes of Obsidian" by Cage.
  • Chaos Divine song "Obsidian Eyes".
  • "Black Eyes" by British hardcore group Gallows.
  • 2-D of the Gorillaz has hyphema (blood-pooling) in both his eyes due to past trauma, making them appear black.


Video Games

  • Subverted in Final Fantasy VIII. Rinoa has these, and she is quite a nice girl.
  • Present in Final Fantasy II: Leon has these, fitting for a broody Black Knight who's committed many atrocities. His sister Maria has them too...considering her alignment vis-a-vis her brother's, likely they function as an indicator of grief and sadness as well as family relation.
  • Subverted with Pecker in the Jak and Daxter series. While he's generally obnoxious (bordering on Jerkass sometimes) and cowardly, there's nothing sinister or mournful about him.
  • The characters of Sonic the Hedgehog all used to have black pupils until the Sonic Adventure games came out.
  • Sasuke and Oichi from Sengoku Basara have these. The former is a nice guy, but he's also cunning and a dangerous enemy, with enemies describing his eyes as "cold". Oichi on the other hand is a depressed, tragic woman and her eyes show it. Both have darkness as their element.
  • Mass Effect: whenever an asari uses the race's "mind meld" ability their eyes turn black. Can be either sexual, invasive or purely informational, but no overtones attach from the ability itself, only from the character using it and their intent.


Webcomics

  • Kat Donlan and her mother, Anja, from Gunnerkrigg Court both have black eyes owing to their Romani descent. (Anja also has small eyes, giving her the appearance of Eyes Always Shut.) They're easily the two most cheerful, pleasant characters in the entire comic.
    • Jones, on the other hand, is black-eyed, of indeterminate ethnicity, and a complete cypher.
    • Most characters in Gunnerkrigg Court have their eyes rendered as black whenever they're shown from more than a certain distance away, with the real eye color being revealed in closeups. Sometimes. (The exception being the ex-fairies, whose eyes are consistently grey.) Often they'll still be black at close range, but this doesn't necessarily mean anything; Gamma's eyes were revealed to be hazel when they went flat-colored from sleep deprivation, but she's otherwise depicted with black eyes.
  • Penny in Starcommand has black eyes, instead of inheriting her mother's Blue Eyes.
  • All of the characters in Goblins, though this is just from the art style.
  • Gharsena, the Big Bad of Garanos, has these, and she's deliberately drawn with no light reflections in her eyes to emphasize her Complete Monsterdom.


Western Animation


Real Life

  • Suetonius tells us that Gaius Julius Caesar had "keen black eyes".
  • The Armenian first name "Sevag" literally translates to "black eye".
  • Queen Elizabeth I was often described as having black eyes, despite having pale skin and red hair.
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