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The scene begins with a tight closeup on the character's head, so that it's the only thing we see. After a moment, the camera pans back to reveal the amusing, and sometimes surprising, surroundings.

A type of Reveal Shot. Often used to reveal a Trick Dialogue or a Not So Dire shot.

When it's just the eye(s) in the very first shot, it's an Eye Open.

Examples of Closeup on Head include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Episode 18 of Fushigi Yuugi, Miaka travels to Kutou with Chichiri and Tasuki using the former Seishi's teleportation abilities. The camera focuses on Miaka's face as she praises Chichiri's magical skill, and then zooms out to show the three of them jammed up in a tree as she complains of their landing place. More Hilarity Ensues.
  • Used in Revolutionary Girl Utena. Utena is lying on a bed, talking about what she's going to have for lunch the day after. As the camera zooms out it reveals that she just had (or is having) sex with the Big Bad, Akio.


  • Lucky Number Slevin alternates between two of these at the end to hide the exact circumstances of the Rabbi and the Boss.
  • At the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, we first see the adult eponymous hero as he lifts his head triumphantly. Then he gets punched, and we see that he's actually a hostage.
  • On the film version of Horton Hears a Who, Horton is walking on a suspension bridge. He's about to reach the end when the ropes break, and the camera cuts to a close-up as he screams, supposedly falling to his death. Then Horton (and the audience) realizes that he's safely on the other side.
  • A particularly horrific example in Hostel; Josh and Paxton receive a text message from Oli saying he left, with a close-up picture of his face. Turns out it's actually his severed head.

Live Action Television

  • An episode of Burn Notice began with Michael talking right into the camera, giving a recap of the Story Arc so far. After he's done, it's revealed that he's talking to his contact Carla rather than breaking the fourth wall.
  • Not the Nine O'Clock News had a racist thug bragging about how he and his friends beat up some black/Asian people over the weekend, with the zoom out revealing that he was wearing a police uniform.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus has a parody of a boxing documentary. Its interview with the boxer's grandmother is entirely shot in close-up, until it pans out at the end to reveal that her rocking chair is tied to the top of a station wagon, which then drives off.
  • This happens in Flower Boy Ramyun Shop when Eun Bi and Kang Hyuk are having a conversation about him becoming the owner of the ramyun shop. The shots make it look like he's leaning in a doorway while speaking to her, when he's actually lying on a table behind her.

Newspaper Comics

Video Games

  • Escape from Monkey Island begins with a closeup of Guybrush's face as he recounts his life as a pirate in a journal entry. Then Elaine interrupts him and the camera pulls back to reveal he's tied to the mast of his own ship, which is being invaded by enemy pirates.
  • Rayman Raving Rabbids has a minigame in which a Rabbid whacks another one on the hesd with a spiked club, and there is a close up on the brain with a maze full of bones, and you have to get the ball to the end in a certain amount of time. If the ball falls in, you lose. Should you take too long and finally get to the goal, you lose. There are two endings; one is the Story Mode one, in which the Rabbid that has been whacked hits the Rabbid with the club rappidly until the ears are out of the ground. Number 2 is NOT in Story Mode, but instead, Score Attack replaces the Story Mode one with the one if you can get a new record. The Rabbid screams more differently, and, after whacking the Rabbid with the club, the Rabbid who has the top of his head wrapped in a bandage walks up to the Rabbid's ears, and the Rabbid who got whacked also whacks the Rabbid with the bandage wrapped too.
    • A commercial for Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party is more different; after the Rabbid eats the cell phone, the Rabbid who is on the left side dials the number, and, as the phone rings, a close up to the INSIDE of the Rabbid's STOMACH is shown (with the cell phone.)

Web Comics

  • Jack, at the end of Arc XXVIII, uses this, in a particular case of horrible, horrible Nightmare Fuel. The arc starts a while before this strip, but for those who dare, the Closeup On Head starts here and continues until strip 1373.
  • A variant in Gunnerkrigg Court. Chapter 25 begins with a closeup of a robot mantis' antenna, then pulls back to reveal his surroundings, then keeps pulling back until we see the entire city skyline.
  • In El Goonish Shive, the Bringing Silly Back arc starts this way focusing on Elliot's head to indicate he is the narrator for the storyline.
  • Skin Horse: Close-up on Tip and Sweetheart's heads as they're talking. Then the last panel zooms out to reveal that they've been imprisoned by the crystal entities in the basement.
  • The B Movie Comic has one on an extra, who immediately lampshades that something horrible is about to happen to him.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • In Mission Hill, Andy applies for a cartooning job at an "alternative paper", and is in a Closeup On Head shot during the interview. The camera pulls back to reveal that he's interviewing at a paper called The Daily Supremacist.
  • In Futurama, Professor Farnsworth is in an extreme Closeup On Head shot (only his forehead, eyes, nose and mouth are visible) as he and his companions are escaping the Titanic. He says, "At least there are plenty of lifeboats. We won't have to dress as women and children." Pull back to reveal that he is dressed as a child, complete with big lollipop and sailor suit.
    • Futurama does this a lot. One episode has Fry preparing to jump out of a plane. Closeup On Head on Fry's face, screwing up his courage, then asking Leela to push him. Turns out, she already did.
  • In the Ren and Stimpy episode "Mad Dog Hoek", the stubble-faced 1930s-style wrestling announcer is in a Closeup On Head shot as he says "and believe me, it ain't pretty." Pull back to reveal he is wearing women's underwear.
    • In the more famous episode "Stimpy's Invention", Ren agrees to test Stimpy's first invention, and then is shown in a Closeup On Head shot. Pull back to reveal that Ren has a telephone receiver and a big hunk of cheese strapped to his head, as Stimpy introduces the Cheese-O-Phone.
  • Done in an early Looney Tunes short: a man shot in close-up talks about how he didn't have to pay taxes. Pull back reveals that he is behind bars.
  • The Rescuers Down Under: Wilbur wakes up from being sedated and comments that his head feels like it's in a vise. Pull back to reveal... his head in a vise.
  • Invader Zim has a fun one: in one episode, he and GIR are in their ship. GIR starts to sleep on Zim's head, until Zim yells at him to get off. He then goes into a speech detailing his plans as the camera dramatically zooms in... only for him to cut mid-sentence to yell at GIR, who had resumed his perch.
  • In Runaway Brain, Mickey wakes up after a mind-switching experiment, saying he "don't feel like myself." Camera starts on a close-up of his eyes, then pulls back to reveal the eyes belong to the Frankenstein's Monster Mickey has swapped minds with.
  • In Taz-Mania, in the episode Toothache Taz, after Taz starts yelling out in great pain because his tooth hurts, the camera ZOOMS IN to REVEAL that there are some toothache guys using picks to work on said tooth, and one of them comments about the job, while the other one suggests to throw down their picks and "walk." But, after a silence, both say, "Naaaaaaah." And they start working on Taz's tooth again while singing. The camera then cuts back to Taz and the Platypus Brothers.
  • Happens to Twilight Sparkle on My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic after being "cursed" by a plant. Camera focuses on her head from the time she wakes up to when she sees herself in a mirror; when she realizes what's wrong, the camera pans back as well.
    • Inverted in the episode "Call of the Cutie"; when Apple Bloom rants off her problem to Rainbow Dash, she shoves her head into the camera when she concludes with "...but AH WANT IT NOW!"

Real Life

  • A much-circulated unintentional example from CSPAN. Closeup on Cheney in the Rose Garden, all serene, nice sunny day. Bush is speaking offscreen. The zoom out reveals that Cheney is not in the audience or next to the podium, but way off to the side in the shadows, apparently lurking behind some trees and shrubs as he watches the press conference progress. It probably wasn't as weird as it looked out of context, but it generated a lot of Darth Sidious jokes.
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