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"If you're peering out from one of those it's a safe bet that meddling kids will soon cause you not to get away with something."

While visiting a Haunted House, someone sees the eyes of a creepy portrait painting seem to follow them. The other members of the party blame it on nerves, when in fact, the villain really is spying on our heroes through peepholes in the eyes of the portrait.

See Also Stand in Portrait

Examples of Portrait Painting Peephole include:


  • Such a portrait is seen in a television commercial for the Clue board game.
  • Done in the most recent Aflac commercial... the duck watches some people who appear to be parodying Clue through a portrait.


  • It is implied that one of the paintings in Hamtaro: Ham Hams Unite is like this at the haunted house, though you never find out why the eyes are moving.
  • Fujiko uses one of these to spy on the Count and Jodo in The Castleof Cagliostro.
  • In episode 11 of Sora no Otoshimono, Sugata uses this to spy on the girls bathhouse.

Comic Books

  • Runaways: Alex looks into Nico's room this way in issue seven.
  • In Excalibur, Kitty Pryde pulls this off once by phasing her head through a painting so that her face appears where the face on the painting should be.
  • In issue #121 of Simpsons Comics, after revealing that he and Smithers were eavesdropping on Homer behind motivational posters, Mr. Burns states "I wanted one of those old paintings with the eyes missing, but Smithers thought it was too Scooby Doo!"



  • In Dark and Stormy Night, two different people using different portraits to spy on others end up noticing the other.
  • Rob and Kit find a painting in their room with moving eyes in April Fools Day. It turns out that there's just a clock (shaped like a cat, with its eyes moving back and forth) behind it. The same painting later turns up in the besement, with severed head behind it.


  • Some paintings in the Patrician's palace in Discworld have eyeholes for spying, but it's stated in Jingo that Vetinari doesn't use them, they are just a relic from a previous ruler's tenure, like the Ho-ho (like a ha-ha only bigger - it's a landscape gardening thing).
    • Also, references are made to paintings in which other body parts (e.g. a ferret's nose) seem to follow you around the room.
  • Stephen King's The Eyes of The Dragon. The King kills a dragon in a hunt, and hangs its head on a wall in his castle. The dragon's eyes are replaced with glass ones, and the Evil Chancellor puts a secret room behind the head so he can look out through them and spy on the King. This later turns out to be one of the keys to Flagg's downfall.
  • Parodied in Beyond The Blue Moon, where an inept ghost makes a pair of eyeballs literally pop out of a painting's eyeholes and follow intruders around.

Live Action TV

  • Captain Scarlet featured this in "The Trap" a painting in the main hall of an old Scottish castle hid a Mysteron agent and a machine gun.
  • The Two Ronnies. The heroine sees the eyes of a portrait moving as she is undressing for bed and flings a mug of cocoa at it. The next morning one of the male characters is seen with an eyepatch on one eye. A few moments later, another male character enters with an eyepatch on the other eye.
  • The Monkees when they visit a creepy house to play a gig.
  • The Andy Griffith Show "Haunted House" A con man uses a haunted house as a cover for his still, he scares off Andy and Barney using the peepholes in a portrait to move the eyes. Upon discovering this Andy looks through the peepholes to spook the con right back.
  • Gilligan's Island "The Friendly Physician" While in the mansion of the mad scientist, Gilligan tells the Skipper that he's have trouble following the eyes in the hall portrait. The Skipper tells him he's just imagining it. Presumably they were being watched this way.
  • And there was an episode of Soap, though it's been a while and I'm fuzzy on the details so another troper might want to fill in the blanks there.
  • In The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer, Ozzy Osborne has one that lets him spy on his neighbours, Slade.
  • In a Kenan and Kel TV movie, Kel stares at a painting with eyes looking at him through the peepholes. He whispered Kenan to come look at it while the peephole closes. However, Kel only noticed how the man in the portrait looks ugly.

 Kel: Oohhh, you're the ugly dude!

  • Doctor Who: "Marco Polo" The First Doctor and Susan enter "The Cave of Five Hundred Eyes" which has walls painted with two hundred and fifty men. Susan sees one set of eyes moving and screams.

Stand Up Comedy

  • One of Dane Cook's comedy routines contains a bit about his 'dream house' and he spends several minutes talking about painting peepholes. And getting poked in the eye through the peepholes.

Tabletop RPG

  • Two variations in Dungeons and Dragons module I6 Ravenloft. Inside Dracula's Strahd's castle is a portrait with eyes that shift to look at the characters. It's actually magical and can attack the PC's. In another part of the castle are statues whose eyes seem to watch the characters. However, it's just an optical illusion.
    • In the classic module The Keep On The Borderlands, an orc spies on the characters from behind a wall made of skulls.

Video Games

  • There's one of these in almost every room in the first Laura Bow game, and Laura herself can use them to spy on the other guests and gather clues.
  • There's a variant in The Curse of Monkey Island, where Guybrush looks through the blank eyeholes of a painting and manages to convince the hotel landlord that he's a distant relative because he has the same eyes as the guy in the painting.
  • Happens in King's Quest VI.
  • In Haunting Ground, while Fiona is putting on clothes in the mansion, she's creeped out by a portrait that looks like it's staring at her naked body. It turns out that someone was watching her from behind the portrait - her disgusting, creepy grandfather Lorenzo who has incestuous interest in her. Ugh.
  • Used in Message In A Haunted Mansion, where a secret room allows covert observation of a suspect. An inversion, in that Nancy finds the hidden room first, then uses its peepholes herself; she never actually catches the painting's "eyes" watching her.
  • Subverted in Runescape with the examine text for a "creepy painting" in Melzar's Maze: "Disturbingly, its eyes look everywhere in the room but at you." Also played straight (albeit as a mundane optical illusion) with the painting itself, whose eyes appear to follow the camera.
  • The Interactive Fiction game Anchorhead allows the protagonist character to look through the eyes of a Spooky Painting to spy on her possessed husband.
    • Fridge Horror and Paranoia Fuel kick in if you recall that, when in the same room as the painting, it sometimes seems to look directly at the protagonist.


  • Problem Sleuth - Played with - The clown picture has two small holes to see through, but they're too close together to look through properly. But you're looking into the painting, into the other room where the eyeholes are also hidden in a portrait, but in a pig's nostrils.

Western Animation

  • Any given episode of Scooby Doo
    • A Cartoon Network ad promoting Scooby Doo once had the characters lampshading the trope and Fred jokingly asking why weren't there any haunted houses with landscape paintings.
  • Mister Burns used this to spy on Homer and Marge in The Simpsons. It even has peepholes for the dog in the picture so Smithers could look too.
    • Also in "Goo Goo Gai Pan" there's a large portrait with peepholes in the nostrils.
  • On the Looney Tunes short "Hair-Raising Hare", Bugs Bunny catches one of these being used by the orange monster and gives it a good eye poke. The monster then sees Bugs in another painting and tries to poke his eyes too, but Bugs eye pokes him again.
  • A variation occurs in the Wallace and Gromit short "The Wrong Trousers". Gromit is shadowing the villain in a box, he cuts some eyeholes from the inside and (by a lucky coincidence) they happen to be cut out of exactly the right spot of the box's exterior (a picture of a dog).
  • In Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers episode "Ghost of a Chance", a portrait of Sir Colby (and some human) hides Fat Cat, supported by his henchanimals so he can see through the human's eyes. Then they throw him off so they can see the Rescue Rangers themselves, Mepps taking one eye and Wart taking the other. A close-up reveals how weird this looks, as Mepps has a pale yellow sclera with a green iris, and Wart has a green sclera and a brown iris, and because they're looking in different directions. Mole takes a turn, too, and follows Zipper's movements until poked in the eye.
  • On the Futurama episode "The Honking", a painting in the castle of Bender's late uncle Vladimir appears to watch him, but upon closer inspection...

 Professor Hubert Farnsworth: It has motorized sensors attached to motion detectors.

Bender: So does my butt, but I don't frame it and put it on the wall. Although...

    • In the My Three Suns episode, an assassin first watches Fry through a portrait and then tries to drink him through a straw that was hidden behind the portrait.
  • In Darkwing Duck, DW sneaks into a house and sees such a portrait. "As if I haven't seen this in a million movies!" He quips, removing the portrait and shouting "AH-HA!"... except the eyes gain bat-wings and fly away.
  • Aw, phooey! It's just a pair of one-eyed crows.
  • In The Super Mario Bros Super Show episode "Count Koopula", Luigi notices the eyes moving on one of the hallway portraits. The eyes disappear as he's pointing it out to the others.

Real Life

  • Though no cases of this have been seen in real life, the "eyes following you" effect is often created when the subject of a painting is portrayed looking straight out of the frame.
    • Like the Mona Lisa.
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