Eye Awaken

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What can be scarier than a respawning giant teddybear?

Servo: And, his eyes open.
Crow: An-n-n-nd his eyes open.
Mike: His eyes open.
Servo: Eyes open, yeah, yeah, big surprise, he's still alive-
Crow: Eyes open.
Mike: His EYES open.
Servo: -can we just move it along here-
Crow: Come ON!
(His eyes open)

Servo: (as Kalgan) "...I'm sitting in something wet."

Finally, after deadly fighting and clever tactics, the Serial Killer, monster, alien, or what-have-you is down for the count. The hero turns to leave... and the monster's eye opens.

Typically used as part of a The End - or Is It? ending, but just as often used whenever a hero dismisses a "corpse" as inanimate and either walks off or gets too close. A favorite is to have the hero deliberately get within striking distance to retrieve a weapon or item near or lodged in the creature... only to have their eyes open and arms come up and grab them. Also frequently happens with hands twitching, especially after the coroner's already pulled the sheet over the supposed corpse's head; that goes clear back to Frankenstein making this Older Than Radio.

An interesting minor variation involves beings in People Jars or who are frozen moving just once they're out of the hero's field of vision. Combines nicely with Glowing Eyes of Doom and Eye Lights Out. Compare to Finger-Twitching Revival. See also Pivotal Wakeup, and The Eyes Have It for when the eyes belong to something which is not actually alive.

Examples of Eye Awaken include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • In the final issue of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the genocidal Anti-Monitor appears to be finally dead after a mass attack by the heroes of five Earths. As they turn to leave, Kid Flash says it's all over, and they're finally going home. This is said over a series of panels zooming in on the Anti-Monitor's black, empty eye sockets. In the final panel, the eye has a tiny spark of light within...


Film[edit | hide]

  • Parodied in Naked Gun 2 1/2 just before Frank Drebin shoves a firehouse into Hector Savage's mouth. Yes.
  • A variation is done in I Know What You Did Last Summer. The innocent victim does this after he's thrown in the water because the assholes who hit him with their car don't want to go to jail. It Got Worse because the Jerk Jock dove in to see if the victim would sink and he sees the victim open his eyes! This means that he's the only one who knows that the victim is still alive! He crosses the Moral Event Horizon when he swims away (They all do, really, but he totally crosses the line more than they do).
  • This trope was featured in X Men Origins Wolverine when Deadpool, who we believed to have died in a tower collapse, is revealed to be alive as his decapitated head is shown in the rubble as the eye's ominously open, while the head whispers "Shhhhhh..." to the audience.
  • Done in a marvelously over-the-top fashion in Trey Parker and Matt Stone's Cannibal! The Musical.
  • The first best example coming to mind being, of course, the hand coming out of the grave in Carrie.
  • The 1978 Australian film Patrick is a perfect example of this trope. The title character is in a coma with his eyes eternally open. The only time they're closed is at the end when he's believed to be dead, just so he can open them again (and remain open during the end credits).
  • The first zombie encountered in the Resident Evil movie is of the People Jars variety.
  • Space Mutiny, much to the delight of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew. Their riffing provided the original trope name (now the page quote).
  • Danger: Diabolik, the feature film of the final episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, ends on a variation of this theme.
  • Not involving a death, but something similar happens at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand. Magneto, who has lost his power, reaches a hand out toward a metal chess piece, which twitches ever so slightly just before the credits roll.
  • This happens so frequently in the Evil Dead films that in the third film Ash, who seems to be otherwise dumb as a post, actually catches on!
    • He also gets a great One-Liner from the situation: "It's a trick. Get an axe."
  • Used and subverted in the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. At the start of the film, Shredder does the "hand bursting from rubble" variant to show he survived his fate at the end of the previous movie. At the climax, Super Shredder's hand bursts from the wreckage of the docks he brought down on himself, leading the Turtles to exclaim "No One Could Survive That!" A second later, the hand goes limp, proving them right.
    • Or were they?! TMNT the animated movie that seems to be in the same cannon as the live action movies suggests that Shredder is still alive and working on a comeback.
  • The hand-twitching version happened, followed shortly by the eyes opening, in Independence Day as a captured alien is being "dissected" (whoops, turns out that's just its containment suit).
    • After it's taken down properly, one of the soldiers - clearly wary of this trope by now - approaches and puts several more shots into the alien, and is rewarded with its death screams.
  • The end of Crank has a variant. At the end of the movie, after being injected twice with a poison that will kill him when his adrenaline runs down, being shot, and being dropped a few thousand feet out of a helicopter to land on a car, bounce fifty feet in the air, and smash to the ground, the camera focuses on Chev's open eye. Which blinks. And now we have Crank 2.
    • The creators mention in the commentary that everything that happens after Chev drinks the "plant shit" drug may not have actually happened, at least not the way the viewer sees it. Given the ridiculous premise of the second movie, this could be them dropping hints, or just giving a secondary interpretation of the more impossible parts of the film and its upcoming sequel.
    • Not to be outdone, the end of Crank 2 features this as well. After a ridiculous final showdown that ends with Chev severely disfigured by burns, Doc Miles manages to reinsert his real heart, but fails to get it pumping. After Chev's friends leave the room in tears, the camera focuses on Chev's face for several seconds, and his charred eyelids snap open.
  • All three of the original The Terminator movies did this. In Rise of the Machines, this comes after a Terminator Core meltdown.
  • In Vanilla Sky, Tom Cruise's character does this but with only one eye.
  • In the Baz Luhrmann film version of William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, at the climax, Romeo gives his speech over what he thinks is Juliet's corpse. As he tilts his head back to drink the poison, her eyes blink open, and she reaches up to touch his cheek. Cue the Oh Crap look on his face seconds before his death.
  • Ali G Indahouse. The Acting Prime Minister is knocked out by Ali G's swinging gold chain. He comes to as Ali leaves the room.
  • Horrifically well done in Misery when Sheldon finally attacks Annie Wilkes.
  • In the film of Matilda, the scene near the end where Ms. Trunchbull is lying seemingly unconscious on the floor uses this trope. When a boy gets too close to her, her eyes flick open and she reaches up to grab him.
  • In Stealth, EDI's core relights after its body is destroyed via Heroic Sacrifice.
  • This happens at the end of Avatar... but they're Jake's eyes opening, not following a near-fatal injury, but after his rebirth instead.
    • The same thing happens at the end of Breaking Dawn Part 1... Bella opening her red eyes as a newborn vampire.
  • Inverted in Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God, in which the hero discovers that the titular dragon god is slumbering inside a mountain, and parts its eyelid with his bare hands to prove its nature to his skeptical companions. The dragon is too deeply asleep to be disturbed by this manhandling and doesn't awaken until later.
  • In the recent How to Train Your Dragon, Toothless the dragon pulls this when Hiccup examines his prone body.
  • Something like this happened in Catwoman when the main character's iris suddenly transforms to reveal that she is alive.
  • A rather horrific example happens in the Val Lewton film Bedlam. Boris Karloff's character is said to be dead, and is being bricked up in a wall to hide the evidence. Then suddenly his eyes flicker open, he opens his mouth - and the last brick is put in place before he has time to scream.
  • Done with the crushed block of metal (srsly) that used to be a '57 Plymouth in Christine.
  • The beginning of Jason Lives. After Tommy Jarvis goes psycho on a maggot ridden Jason corpse. He leaves the fence post used to impale him in the corpse. Next thing you know lightning strikes that fence post twice bringing Jason back to life. To add more Squick to it a maggot falls off his rotten eyebrow seconds after the eye opens.


Literature[edit | hide]

"The rubble heaved, and opened one eye. One big back pupil floating in a bloodshot glow tried to focus on them."


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • A similar thing happened on an episode of Stargate SG-1 when they extracted an Ancient who'd been frozen in the ice for like a million years; halfway thawed and her eye contracts.
    • Except that one of the doctors was shining a light in her eye at the time, noticed the pupilary contraction, and then checked it again to confirm it, which immediately tipped off everybody that the Ancient was still alive.
  • Though not a villain per se, a deranged, concussion-ridden Basil Fawlty does this before making good his escape from the hospital in a classic episode of Fawlty Towers. What happens next? Well...
  • Iké Dubaku in the Twenty Four after his target surrender-suckerpunches with a landmine in the special episode "Redemption". Since the audience already knew that the character was returning for the seventh season, it was not much of a twist, however.
  • On One Life to Live, after being shot several times and then locked in the trunk of a car that was then pushed off of a cliff into the ocean, Todd Manning's body washed up on shore. The last shot of him was of his eyes opening.
  • In the first episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day, a suicide bomber's head is detached to see if it can still live. It seems to be dead... and then the eyes open. Keep in mind that the suicide bomber's bomb has gone off. With him still attached. Brrr...

Music video[edit | hide]

  • Goodbye Mr A by The Hoosiers, Even after sending Mr A into space (and blowing him up) his eyes open at the end.


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • The Undertaker usually does this when it looks like he's down and out, before he sits up suddenly.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Happens at the end of Metroid Prime. Interestingly enough, the eye in question is on the back of a hand.
  • At the climax of Donkey Kong 64, King K. Rool has hit the canvas after losing a fight to the entire Kong family. As a triumphant Chunky Kong waves to the crowd, we see a closeup of K. Rool's inert face. And then, his eye (the hypertrophied, bloodshot one, of course) pops open.
  • At the end of Portal, GLaDOS does this, in a room of spare eye parts. Then starts to sing.
    • She does it again in the Portal 2 E3 trailer, with the "eye" light on her head turning on just before she starts to move.
  • In Resident Evil 2, after the player defeats Mr. X for the first time and leaves the room, we are treated to an ingame cutscene of him standing up again, apparently unharmed. The low texture resolution prevents us from seeing his eyes open per se, but it still fits the trope.
  • A variation of this happens in Tomb Raider: Underworld. On Jan Mayen Island, Lara Croft comes across a yeti-like beast sprawled on the floor, apparently dead. She comments on how it and its kind may have been the inspiration for the frost giants in Norse mythology, then starts to walk away...whereupon the creature lurches to its feet while her back is turned and attacks her.
  • In Contra III: The Alien Wars, the final boss is a giant brain with an eye in the center. Once it's defeated, the player characters grab onto the missile hanging from a support helicopter and fly away. Playing on Easy or Normal difficulty leads to the brain reviving, the eye opening, and a deafening roar as the base explodes... Playing on Hard means the brain gets a brand new metallic Powered Armor and chases the heroes out of the base.
  • In Mother 3, after you shut down the Ultimate Chimera, and everyone leaves the place thinking their nightmare is over, the bird sitting on its head pushes the button and the monster is once again activated.
  • In one of the Transformers games Starscream does this with his eye lighting up followed by the camera zooming into it (you fight him again in the same game).
  • One of Alexandria Rovias' sanity effects during the main game has her playing some notes on a piano and then inspecting a man that seems to be hanging on a noose. The corpse then opens its eyes suddenly before a raspy voice shouts "The Darkness is Coming!", a voice that sounds very similar to that of Xel'latoth.
  • This is the first action Ganon does after possessing Zelda in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.


Western Animation[edit | hide]