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For animated characters, the eyes are the windows to the soul--literally. So literally, that their eyes become their innermost thoughts projected in very clear symbols for all to see.
Some common eye symbols:
- X or +: Dead or knocked-out
- Spirals: Dazed, confused, dizzy, or knocked out (See also Mind Control Eyes)
- Currency signs, usually dollar ($), yen (¥), pound (£), or euro (€): Greedy. Often accompanied with a cash register sound.
- Hearts: Lovesick
- Daggers/Fire: Extreme anger and/or intent to kill someone for something unforgivable. Fire could also be used for passion.
- No Sale: Used in western animation after a blow to the head ("No Sale" is a command that opens a cash register's drawer without, um, making a sale. The eyes are based on the tabs that would display on an old mechanical register.) Somewhat of a Forgotten Trope now thanks to the near-extinction of mechanical cash registers. Though the concept itself still remains usable as the term 'no sale' is still used in the retail business. TILT can be used if the character's a robot.
- Stars: Excitement, determination and dreaming of fame and fortune
- Circles around pupils and nothing else: shock, insanity, or rage. Frequently used by American comic strips.
- Deep shaded irises with no pupils to speak of: Drugged or under mind control. The character is being forced to act against their will.
- Alternately, it can mean despair.
- Spinning swirls often convey a similar effect.
This trope is named for Wingdings, a "dingbat" typeface created by Microsoft which comes pre-installed on most modern personal computers, consisting of assorted symbols.
- There was a commercial for sport shoes with Don King (or a lookalike). When an athlete who didn't want to make commercial stuff finally sort of agrees, King's eyes turn into... guess what.
Anime and Manga
- In one chapter of the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, Yugi curses a TV producer to expose his greed on television, and the producer gets the kanji for "greed" in his eyes (the translated version by Viz Media uses yen signs).
- Negi Springfield in Mahou Sensei Negima gets the Spirals version when he's knocked out by a flying door, as shown on YouTube here at about 2:40.
- Subaru of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS expresses her great appreciation for good ice cream by having her eyes turn into sparkly hearts. After Hayate first summons the Wolkenritter in a flashback in the sixth episode of A's and faints from the shock, her eyes turn into spirals by the time Vita approaches her.
- Pokémon anime - Spirals = KO. Otherwise, they're probably down but not out.
- Pokémon movies, on the other hand, tend to drop this after the first couple minutes in favour of more serious effects.
- Kamichama Karin often uses spiral eyes to show confusion.
- At the cliffhanger of episode 1 of The Big O, arcane symbols appear in Dorothy's eyes as she looks up at her Humongous Mecha "sister" Dorothy One. It's possible the mecha was somehow taking control of her (since she's next seen wired into it), but it's not really clear.
- Galaxy Angel: In one episode, Ranpha's eyes turn into male units upon first meeting a male android.
- A nude male android.
- Lilie from Princess Tutu often gets hearts in her eyes when Ahiru does something she deems 'cute'.
- In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, extremely high levels of blood heat are indicated by spirals in the characters' pupils. Not at all related with confusion, but spirals show up as a symbol of
determination many times throughout the serieshow Everything's Better with Spinning.
- One fairly unique example of this trope occurs late in the series, when Kittan's eyes momentarily transform into stars upon seeing the giant stars on Yoko's latest outfit. Guess where they are.
- Simon demonstrates the "insanity/rage" eyes -- pupils with nothing but empty circles around them -- for a few episodes following Kamina's death.
- The "Spiral eyes" are, like a significant portion of Gurren Lagann, a reference to Getter Robo, where one of the signs of a human being supercharged by Getter Rays was their irises becoming spirals.
- One Piece: Nami's eyes occasionally change to the symbol for Beri when there's a potential profit to be made, Sanji's eye
schange to hearts whenever he's swooning over one of the girls, and in one chapter Luffy's eyes changed to takoyaki to show just how much he craved the food.
- One panel of Keroro Gunsou featured Keroro with a yen symbol in one eye and an American dollar sign in the other. Giroro's eyes sometimes go up in actual flames.
- In one episode of the anime, Momoka's eyes have little flames in them as she thinks of her determination to get close to Fuyuki on an upcoming trip, which then turn to little rainclouds when he mentions it might rain.
- On the merchandise side, a sticker book of Wingding Eyes for all the model kits has been released.
- All the humanoid aliens in Space Pirate Mito have starbursts for pupils. Aoi, who is half-alien, half-human, has one normal pupil and one starburst.
- Similar to the comic example below, Mako from Nerima Daikon Brothers has heart-shaped reflections in her sunglasses.
- One notable case from The Slayers: The last episode in Slayers Next when Gourry and Lina reappear hugging after disappearing into the Sea of Chaos and Lina clocks Gourry, giving him the X-eyes.
- The PE teacher Suzuki in RIN-NE has star-eyes.
- Tobimaro and Asuka Mizunokoji from Urusei Yatsura, and their mother, have star-eyes. (Tobimaro and Asuka's father has a Henohenomoheji face.)
- Anime-only minor character Genji Heita in Ranma ½ has star-eyes.
- Nono in Diebuster has star-eyes.
- Rurouni Kenshin gets swirly-eyed in the more lighthearted scenes.
- Super Milk-chan will often have yen signs appear in her eyes in slot-machine style whenever the topic of making money comes up; other, oddball symbols have been known to appear as well.
- In Area no Kishi, the spiral type is sported by protagonist Kakeru after his Handsome Lech team-mate Kouta puts him through several wrestling holds trying to find out more about Kakeru's childhood friend, Seven.
- Although it happens a few times, this also happens to Kirby in this episode of Kirby Right Back At Ya where, in one scene, Kirby tries to unsuccessfully jump over the rope, thus getting hit in the face, getting the + type in the process.
- Misaki Shokuhou, the Queen of Tokiwadai, as revealed by To Aru Kagaku no Railgun, seems to be wearing contact lenses which facilitate this effect.
- Cure Blossom and Cure Marine suffers the dizzy eyes variant after a failed attempt to make a monster dizzy by running around it very fast!
- Episode 5 of Nurse Witch Komugi features the heroine with the yen sign in her eyes.
- Billy Dogma creator Dean Haspiel does a twist on this: Billy's girlfriend often has heart-shaped reflections on her sunglasses.
- Condorito and related comics use swirly eyes for lunatics, whether they are in a mad house or whether the punchline that reveals them as loonies has just been delivered...
- Green Lantern often shows people with Lantern Corps symbols in their eyes when strongly feeling the corresponding emotion (the Green Lantern symbol when channelling Heroic Willpower, Red Lantern symbol when consumed by rage, etc.)
- In Anchorman, Will Ferrell's eyes burst into flame when his hair is insulted.
- In Muppet Treasure Island, upon discovering Billy Bones' treasure map, Gonzo gets dollar signs in his eyes as he says "We're gonna be rich!" Meanwhile, the nervous Rizzo has X-eyes as he says "We're gonna be dead."
- In Who Framed Roger Rabbit? one character's eyeballs turn into daggers.
- Not get daggers IN them mind, they actually extend from his skull and get pointy.
- They also display spirals, starbursts, etc. in brilliant red and yellow. Shudder.
- The audio commentary to Disney's Beauty and The Beast notes that Gaston has skulls visible in his eyes as the camera zooms in on his face while he's falling to his death. (It's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment--try going through the scene frame-by-frame.)
- In Cats Don't Dance, Darla Dimple is so infuriated at the animals trying to get attention that her eyes fill with fire and (cat) Skull and Crossbones at the same time.
- Earlier, when Danny's offered the chance to be in a film with the above-mentioned Dimple, he gets stars in his eyes (pun not intended).
- In A Christmas Story, when Ralphie fantasizes about defeding his family from a band of clearly delineated bad guys with his official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle, said villains end up with X's drawn over their eyes after they're dispatched.
- Fantastic Mr. Fox has several variations. The oppossum has spiral eyes when he zones out. Dogs and humans get asterisks for pupils when they eat drugged blueberries. The dead poultry have their eyes X'd out.
- In Velvet Goldmine, when Brian Slade and his manager Jerry Devine discuss a collaboration project with Curt Wild and Curt responds not only favorably but flirtatiously, we zoom in on Brian's eyes to see pink hearts, then zoom in on Jerry's to see green dollar signs.
- A Running Gag in Hot Rod, where the titular pseudo-daredevil will "summon" the essence of some animal, followed by an image of said animal appearing in each iris.
- In Shrek 2, if you look very closely during the scene where Puss in Boots shows Shrek and Donkey his Puppy Dog Eyes, you can actually see two little Re/Max hot-air balloons reflected onto his pupils.
- A plot point in Moving Pictures. Those touched by the
HollywoodHoly Wood bug have actual stars in their eyes.
- In the Dragonlance book, Raistlin's pupils are hourglass-shaped.
- A lot older than you might think: The "Medieval Housebook", a manuscript from ca. 1480, features the "X eyes = dead" variant for a horse in one picture (at the bottom).
Live Action TV
- "No Sale" eyes were used in the "boxing" episode of Police Squad!
- The Basil Brush Show: Dave gets pound-sign pupils in one episode when Anil mentions he'll give anything to have his plumbing fixed.
- In the Sabrina the Teenage Witch episode "Five Easy Pieces of Libby", both Hilda and Zelda show dollar signs in their eyes when they realize how profitable Zelda's cleaning formula is.
- Penn & Teller did a card trick on the Today Show and revealed the chosen card by having Teller open his eyes wearing scleral shells that appeared to replace his pupils with a 3 and a club.
- In many episodes of The Monkees, whenever lovesick Davy locks eyes with a beautiful girl, both he (the Chick Magnet) and the girl get starry-eyed.
- The oddly titled "Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But..." by the Arctic Monkeys, advocating art for art's sake:
Well I ain't got no dollar signs in my eyes
It might be a surprise but it's true
- Lupe Fiasco's character "The Streets" constantly has glowing green dollar signs in her eyes. "The Game" has glowing red dice.
- Primal Scream - "Swastika Eyes". A reference to Weimar Republic political cartoonists who drew Nazis with swastika Wingding Eyes.
- Nirvana's logo has the X-eyes version.
- Jason from FoxTrot has had money signs in his glasses.
- Parodied in one strip where we see Jason with a number of odd symbols, before going to harass his sister Paige ("Your ugliness...it's mesmerizing!" he says with spirals in his eyes). Paige yells at him to stop drawing on his glasses.
- One strip had Peter's eyes turn into "A+++" when he gets teamed up with Morton Goldwaith on a school project.
- My Cage: Apparently in this universe such pupils are medical condition. When Maureen learns her date makes 500K a year, her eyes bug out with dollar signs, and she has to be taken to the emergency room for treatment.
- Both Calvin and Hobbes and Garfield use a rather western-centric technique of putting rings around their beady eyes as a shorthand for rage or insanity.
- Good old Charlie Brown had these too, of course.
- One distinctive Peanuts example was using commas instead of full stop eyes to indicate eye-rolling reactions or sarcasm.
- The women in the Norwegian comic "M" all have stars instead of eyes. The author says this is because it's harder to read the mood of women. Other explanations include mixing pills with alcohol.
- For Sesame Street's 40th anniversary, the Google logo has been different for each day. This one has Elmo on it... It seems they were attempting that Anime "Upside-down U" look on him, but...
- Actually it looks a lot more like Kermit The Frog's eyes. Maybe that's what they were shooting for?
- Bomberman commonly uses these, because his eyes are the -only- facial feature on his computer screen-like face.
- Cooking Mama gets stars in her eyes when you succeed at a task, and they becomes flames if you should
mess up spectacularlymiss one of her instructions. "Don't worry! Mama will fix it!"
- Wario's eyes have the dollar signs in the intro to Wario Ware Touched after seeing the Nintendo DS console features and realising the money he could make from it, and probably some of the other Wario Ware games in the series.
- Princess Sapphire has naturally star shaped pupils. Flonne's eyes occasionally change to flames whenever she gets fired up.
- Lemina in Lunar 2: Eternal Blue has the dollar sign version any time she makes money off something, or is thinking of a way to do so.
- Gaia Online has a series of glasses accessories that have this effect on your avatar. The track-invading Yaoi Fangirl from the '08 Olympics had a pair with swirlies, if I remember correctly.
- An equally absurd example comes from the later levels of zOMG! There your character is, at the bottom of the ocean looking for the Big Bad's lair, when you notice a heap of apparent rocks has an eye in it. An eye bigger than your avatar. And it blinks. And every time it blinks, its pupil changes shape. And nobody on either the zOMG! forum or the GCD knows what it is, aside from weird.
- The Hidden Ace evolving item has four pairs of eyes with pupils shaped after card suits -- diamond, heart, spade and club.
- In Chu Lip, the protagonist gets X's in his eyes whenever he gets hurt...and with Everything Trying to Kill You, this is quite often.
- In Conkers Bad Fur Day, Conker gets dollar signs in his eyes whenever he gets one of the cash prizes.
- In one part of the game, Conker has to drink a large amount of beer so he will be able to urinate on fire-covered demons that are trying to kill him. After he drinks the beer, a fuel gauge appears on his eyes, with the pointer going from empty to full.
- Platinum the Trinity of Blaz Blue has naturally heart-shaped pupils.
- Chaotix in Sonic Heroes get the $ eyes since they care about money.
- Except Espio, that is.
- When attacked with Sonic special move Dizzy Spin in Sonic the Fighters, characters will become just that; Dizzy. Cue the spiral eyes and falling on their backs.
- In one of the FM Vs for Worms 2, a lone worm plays with a slot machine until three dynamite pictures line up. Thinking he won, dollar signs appear in his eyes until he hears a fuse burning and the dollar sign becomes a question mark. Cue screaming and an explosion.
- In one of the World Heroes Arcade endings, Janne gets heart-eyed. Use this link, and go to 1:40 of the video to view it.
- The spiral eyes show up quite often in the Starfy series, and Starly gets the heart eyes in the 4th game.
- Spinda of the Pokémon series naturally have spiral eyes, which are meant to tie in with their tottering, confusing movements.
- The Bubble Bobble games have a unique exaggerated variant of + eyes: characters' eyes get crossed out by a literal black line.
- When you lose in Minesweeper, the Yellowface's eyes become little X's.
- The Watchmen parody "Saturday Morning Watchmen" shows the Comedian having the heart version...for Silk Spectre II
- In Happy Tree Friends:
- In "We're Scrooged!", Lumpy gets the dollar sign version. The annotated version says he should really see a doctor about that.
- In "I Nub You", Petunia gets the heart version.
- Doki gets several over the course of There She Is
- In The Order of the Stick, the characters know Roy Greenhilt is dead when they see the Xs in his eyes.
- The discerning reader soon learns that any particular person is dead when they see the Xs in the person's eyes.
- And later, Celia draws X's over Belkar's and Haley's eyes to pass them for dead.
- The swirly eyes variant is Lampshaded in another, earlier strip.
Roy: "I think Vaarsuvius has hypnotized the dragon."
Belkar: "Why do you say that?"
Roy: "Well, the dragon's got swirly eyes."
- Lampshaded in Sluggy Freelance. Not only does Torg freak out when he sees dollar signs appear in the realtor's eyes, but then the realtor also complains while rubbing them that it hurts every time it happens.
- In this strip of Kevin and Kell, while George is negotiating a business deal with Steve Lops, his eyes are dollar signs. Then, Steve's assistant Zerda arrives, and George's eyes very suddenly become hearts. The punchline is about eyestrain.
- In Girly, taking a cat that ate some Lethal Chef produce to the vet's:
Vet: "How do his eyes look?"
Otra: "Well... They were swirly, last I checked... Wait. They're stars now."
- A new variation in Penny and Aggie. The principal announces that Calvin Machrie will coach the theater team. The reactions of three students are... see for yourself.
- The dollar-sign variation is taken Up to Eleven in this Cyanide and Happiness comic.
- A spiral-and-star combo express pain and disorientation in this Everyday Heroes" episode. The same effect was used by old Mad Magazine artist Jack Davis.
- Blank ovals to represent shock are used here.
- Mentioned in Questionable Content, Faye says she has dollar signs dancing in her eyes now that she only has to pay a third of the rent. Dora tells her her medical doesn't cover "cashtigmatism".
- Dora mentions it herself when the shop gets a good review in the local paper. Marten jokes he thought it was due to novelty contact lenses.
- The very first page of Digger finds the titular character tunneling around dazed and swirly-eyed, thinking she was a small stone named Edward.
- Used occasionally in The KAMics, with X-eyes being the most common.
- Happens a few times in Homestuck.
- Ménage à 3 uses this a lot, mostly whenever a female touches Gary in any way.
- In El Goonish Shive, Ellen gives Grace the spiral variety here.
- Mentioned, but not shown, in several Dinosaur Comics strips, such as here, here and here (in the Alt Text).
- Frequent in Persona 4 TW, especially with spirals and X's.
- Bobwhite: "I'm... networking." *stars*
- Of course with the novelty contact lens addiction I haven't had a job or a girlfriend in years.
- Lampshaded in Johnny Bravo: in an episode that sent up King Kong, Carl expresses worry that the giant gorilla they captured might get aggravated and go on a rampage. Pops, who has dollar-sign pupils as he thinks about how much money this will make him, says "Sorry Carl, I can't hear you, I have huge dollar signs in my eyes."
- Isabella from Phineas and Ferb pulls the hearts-for-eyes variation when she first greets Phineas in "Rollercoaster".
- In Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy, Eddy frequently has dollar-sign eyes whenever he thinks about money.
- In one episode, Double D actually peeled one off and examined it.
- The show in general features the "circles around pupils" variant near-constantly whenever a character is excited or scared.
- Eddy gets the anime swirls from lack of sleep after Ed kept him up all night in One Plus One Equals Ed.
- In the Catillac Cats episode, Search For A Star, Wordsworth crashes his Stilt-Mobile, leaving him dizzy with spiral eyes. Immediately after, a greedy stalker/talent agent, upon seeing Cleo, gets gold coins in his eyes.
- In Total Drama Island, Harold gets heart ones when he reminesces about Le Shawna. Later gets the circles around his pupils after Courtney threatens to post the poems he gave to her online (which, thanks to Chef, we can assume were steamy).
- Spoofed on Drawn Together: When Ling Ling sees a money-making opportunity, his pupils become yen signs. When Foxxy sees one, her nipples become dollar signs.
- Lampshaded in the "To Heck and Back" episode of Rocko's Modern Life: "Heff, you've got Xs for eyes! What does that mean?"
- When Heffer goes out with the milking machine, his eyes show stars, before he falls over. Originally they were supposed to be hearts.
- In an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, Mr. Krabs discusses a lawsuit with his lawyer. After mentioning that the lawyer won't charge Krabs unless they win, Krabs' pupils change to dollar signs. After mentioning counter-suing, Krabs' eyes turn into massive gold bars that slam into the floor with the weight. Lampshaded, as the lawyer asks if that normally happens, and Spongebob states that "They're usually silver."
- In The Simpsons, Krusty the Clown invokes the dollar signs version, but immediately afterward spoofs it, saying they were contact lenses marked with dollar signs; it was something he always wanted to try.
- Parodied in the Treehouse of Horror XV segment "The Ned Zone": When Homer hears about Flanders's ablitiy to predict peoples' deaths, his eyes turn into skulls, then dollar signs, then American flags and finally a dog chasing a cat before his normal pupils return.
- Pokerface from Silverhawks will lift his shades to reveal slot machine like eyes that spin to reflect various emotions, usually excitement or greed.
- Looney Tunes cartoons did this countless times, with money signs and hearts.
- One notable example is in "You Were Never Duckier" - Daffy Duck enters a poultry judging contest disguised as a rooster, confident he's a shoo-in for the $5000 prize, waiting with "dollar" signs in his eyes. When he loses, and the $5 prize for best duck is announced, he shrugs "Who am I to sneer at a fast fiver?", doffs the disguise and waits with "cent signs in eyes.
- On Tiny Toon Adventures, Montana Max and Plucky Duck are the most likely candidates for the dollar-sign version. Plucky also takes the stars version when he thinks there's a chance at getting some fame.
- The spiral version also happens a couple of times, most notably with Fifi LaFume at the end of "Out of Odor" and Calamity Coyote in "Love Stinks". The heart version also occurs with Fifi in "Love Stinks" and "Aroma Amore".
- Mission Hill did a variation of this: When someone was staring at something (like somebody's butt), dotted lines would come out of their eyes, ending at what they're looking at. These lines would turn into daggers when one character was mad at another.
- In Batman the Brave And The Bold, the Music Meister combines this with Expressive Mask: his wraparound shades have musical notes, but the connecting bar behaves like eyebrows and the note body placement corresponds to where he's looking.
- Occurs on Jimmy Two-Shoes, usually with Heloise using fire when she gets angry.
- From Tom and Jerry, in "Baby Butch", after watching Tom put a ham into the fridge, the titular black cat's eye balloon out into full refrigerators with open doors.
- In "Quiet, Please!" , Tom gives Spike sleeping pills to keep him from waking up. He lifts one of his eyelids, and the eye has text reading "out cold". Later, Jerry looks into Spike's eye, which now reads "still out cold".
- A disturbing example - Popeye buys a parrot for Olive - a jealous Bluto leans in toward the cage, and in close-up, his pupils become images of his hand strangling the bird!
- My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Ponies affected by a "Want it, Need it" spell get hearts in their eyes, as seen in "Lesson Zero". For bonus points, Derpy Hooves keeps her Fish Eyes when the effect hits her.
- In "Putting Your Hoof Down", this happens to one-time character Iron Will, whose eyes turn into 'bits' (currency used in Equestria) when he succeeds in making Fluttershy assertive.
- As always, nature proves that it can be weirder than fiction: Cuttlefish have W-shaped pupils (because of their craving for W's?).
- Some Octopodes and frogs have pupils shaped like the number 8.
- Nocturnal animals typically have slitted eyes, when viewed during the daytime. Retinas adapted to seeing in the dark are extremely light sensitive, and the slitted pupils allow them to block out far more light than round pupils do so that they can operate in the day at need without burning their retinas out. Seen in the dark, "slitted" eyes will appear rounded. (Conversely, we have rounded pupils only because we're a diurnal (day-active) animal, and rounded pupils distort our vision less.)
- Windows XP can mean Windows Dead Guy With Tongue Sticking Out...or Windows Raspberry.
- Sad Mac's eyes form an "X", which means that your computer has crashed.