The best way to portray amused superiority or superior amusement, the arched eyebrow is a prime weapon in the expression arsenal for the Chessmaster, Manipulative Bastard or (in possibly the most famous modern example, hence the trope name) The Spock. Often raised just as the heroes comprehend what the Evil Plan was all about. For instance, finding out that by foiling one objective they helped their enemy achieve a second, the planner will arched an eyebrow as if to say 'suckers!'.
Like rolling one's tongue or performing Spock's other trademark, this is not a talent everyone has. With enough dedication and some practice in a mirror, however, would-be Chess Masters can usually develop the skill.
- Dreamworks' promotional posters do this ALL. THE. TIME. Actually, this applies to a lot of animated companies. The difference, of course, is that Disney, for example, generally limits it to an in-film expression unless it practically defines the character (there's a reason why |Buzz Lightyear wears it on his poster and Princess Ariel doesn't, even though they both do it within their films).
- The Nostalgia Chick's review on the franchise talks about their habit of doing this in great detail.
- This has been termed The Dreamworks' Face.
- Although there's an inverse image macro parodying the one linked above making the claim that the same could be said about Pixar. Make of that what you will.
- A few times in Kyon: Big Damn Hero, like Haruhi when Mikuru said her going to see a movie with Kyon wasn't a date before countering she saw both of them kissing.
- A running joke in Mad World is of Zack trying, and failing, to copy Sephiroth's automatic eyebrow raise. Turns out to be a family trait - Vincent and Yazoo can do it too.
- Jake Blues' right eyebrow seemed fixed in this position.
- Alan Rickman IS this trope.
- Sir Thomas Sean Connery.
- The Matrix Reloaded: The Merovingian, when Neo blocks a sword with his bare hand during the chateau fight.
- Paul Giamatti does this a lot.
- Rudolf Klein-Rogge, who played villains in most of Fritz Lang's films (including Metropolis), is the master.
- Scarlett O'Hara.
- Angelina Jolie is a master of this. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is a good example.
- Expect Billy Zane to do this a lot if he's playing a villain, most notably in Titanic.
- Vetinari of Discworld fame often used the Fascinating Eyebrow along with a finishing blow in a verbal power struggle to make sure the opponent knows he's been defeated. (This is highlighted in Making Money, wherein Cosmo Lavish, one of the antagonists, actually practices raising one eyebrow in front of a mirror in an attempt to emulate the Patrician.)
- What's worse, Cosmo couldn't actually raise his eyebrow on his own. He has to rely on a small mechanical device to raise his eyebrow for him.
- There is a small asylum dedicated to people who think they are Vetinari. They have eyebrow-raising competitions.
- The bread and butter of all female characters in The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan.
- Along with sniffing and (if they're Siuan Sanche) snorting. Oh, for heaven's sake...
- Dallas was a frequent user of the Fascinating Eyebrow in the novel The Outsiders.
- Timothy Zahn likes reminding people that Grand Admiral Thrawn can cock his eyebrows. It's an Author Catchphrase.
- The protagonist of Are You There God Its Me Margaret can raise one eyebrow and does it occasionally to get adults to stop asking her questions. She doesn't know why it has that effect, but it does.
- Snape from Harry Potter, in both the books and films.
- Vampires in The Hollows either gain this ability upon infection, or they all practice it because it looks so cool. Either way, Rachel is jealous.
- In the Trainspotting novel Mark Renton envies Sick Boy's ability to raise one eyebrow.
- The Queen's Thief LOVES this trope. Not only is the main character a master of this art, so is his love interest.
- Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice has a fascinating eyebrow that has a tendency to rise when she comes across things she finds particularly ridiculous or wryly amusing. It's one of the many pride things going on.
- In Chrome Circle by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon, Tannim's mentor, a dragon currently wearing human form, arrived (magically) in response to a call for aid and "raised one long eyebrow at Tannim in a gesture that Tannim knew perfectly well had been copied after long study of Leonard Nimoy."
- In The Mortal Instruments Clary is annoyed when Jace does this at her, because it is an ability she has always envied. She gets even more annoyed when Magnus Bane turns out to be able to do it too.
- Supernatural has the Trickster/archangel Gabriel do this a lot just before he dumps the Winchesters into something particularly nasty (possibly because Richard Speight Jr, who plays him, has the amazing habit of doing it.)
- Angus Deayton's eyebrow soon gained a fan following in its own right on Have I Got News for You. Paul Merton mocked it a lot.
- Jeeves and Wooster: Jeeves does this quite frequently. Of course, he is played by Stephen Fry.
- Spock (the Trope Namer) popularized the Fascinating Eyebrow amongst Star Trek fans, though it rarely denoted amusement. Such an emotional response would be... illogical. According to Kirk, it "usually connoted some combination of surprise, disbelief, and/or annoyance".
Spock Fascinating. [cue eyebrow]
- McCoy does it on occasion as well.
- Uhura's Song, an Expanded Universe novel, had other crewmembers commenting on this tendency. "Eyebrow on stun, Mr. Spock!"
- What does an eyebrow on kill look like? Angry Eyebrows?
- And another Expanded Universe novel involved Sulu, Chekov, and a random engineer doing an impression of a typical Kirk/Spock/McCoy interaction, complete with Chekov attempting and failing to raise one eyebrow.
- The Expanded Universe novel "Crossover" had Spock give McCoy the eyebrow, with McCoy Lampshading the event:
"Don't you give me that eyebrow!"
- Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager would arc her ocular implant when the occasion required, of course, said implant was always in this position so it'd be hard not to...
- The Doctor from the same series was a master of it.
- Data from TNG, although being an emotionless android, had his share of Fascinating Eyebrow moments.
- Captain Picard also did this a few times. In his Nitpicker's Guide series author Phil Farrand jokes that this is a result of his mind-meld with Spock's father Sarek. Vulcans all over Trek are masters at the Fascinating Eyebrow.
- In the novel Well of Souls, Talma Pren (a Human) can’t do it, but Vaavek (a Vulcan) can. Talma muses that all Vulcans seem capable of doing so.
- Stargate SG-1: Teal'c and the eyebrow are virtually legendary, typically whenever he learns about a new bit of Tau'ri oddity, often accompanied by him saying "Indeed."
- The hundredth episode special featured a Show Within a Show version of Teal'c whose actor (or rather the fake actor playing the fake Teal'c on Wormhole X-treme and being played by a real actor on Stargate SG-1) apparently couldn't pull off the Eyebrow. There's a shot of him being assisted by a piece of string taped to his face.
- Steve Austin, no, the one from The Six Million Dollar Man.
- iCarly: Freddie can do this. Using it more often on Carly probably would've helped him seduce her by now.
- Foreman. It's never a real challenge to get Bingo.
- Sylar, especially since Zachary Quinto's eyebrows are so prominent. In the episode "Five Years Gone," when Sylar is using an illusion to disguise himself as Nathan Petrelli, who is president, Zach recorded Nathan's lines so that Adrian Pasdar would know how to say them, but the episode got to a point where Sylar!Nathan cocks his head to the side and stares at Mohinder, but it didn't look right because this trope was missing, since Adrian Pasdar can't cock his eyebrow like that.
- Of course, ZQ's ability to do this came in handy when he was cast as Spock in the Star Trek reboot.
- When Lucius Vorenus of Rome does this, you KNOW something is about to go down.
- This is one of Scully's trademarks on The X-Files.
- Also The Stupendous Yappi.
- Earl from My Name Is Earl usually does this when going into thoughts, usually followed by Earl narrating what he did next in that episode. It is actually referred to by characters on the show some times.
- Puck from Glee has a habit of this as well.
- Finn does the same thing, albeit more out of confusion than anything.
- The Amazing Race Host Phil Keoghan does this all the time, usually in the midst of a Dramatic Pause.
- David Tennant's Doctor in Doctor Who tends to do this a lot.
- To the point where someone made a parody tribute about his eyebrow, his left one
- Gaius, from Merlin, to a positively ridiculous degree. Arthur gets in a few good ones, too.
- SCTV has Joe Flaherty rocking the eyebrow with some particularly weaselly characters.
- In the second series of Red Dwarf, Rimmer does an amazing variant on this when he bites into the Triple-fried-egg-chilli-chutney-sandwich.
- World of Warcraft has a predefined emote for this (/eyebrow), although it is not animated.
- The Sims from The Sims 2 does this when dancing. There's a bug that they could have this face even when s/he's not dancing.
- Shepard of Mass Effect seems to do this a lot. Legion also does this during its introductory cutscene.
- Legion also does this when you tell the customs officer that the two asari are not Geth because they don't have flashlights in their heads.
- Dr. Wily has turned this taunt into a running gag, though he also combines it with a weird sort of eyebrow-wiggle.
- Mr. House of Fallout: New Vegas is doing this on the picture displayed on his monitor. Since said picture is static, it means he's constantly making this expression.
- In Looking for Group, this seems to be Tavor's default facial expression. Unless he's scheming or angry, one eyebrow or the other is almost always raised.
- These two Harry Potter webcomic strips
- In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob, Princess Voluptua does this a lot, since she's got a royal sense of superiority, and she's got ginormous eyebrows that almost double as antennae.
- The titular character of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja likes this one. In a world where a ninja doctor is sometimes the Only Sane Man, this (and Eye Take) is gonna come up a lot.
- In the Photo Comic Romantically Apocalyptic, Mr. Snippy, or just Sniper, wears a pair of goggles that allow him to pull this off.
- Lackadaisy's Tracy J. Butler has seen quite enough of this face (dubbed the smarm brow)...and so has Aunt Nina.
- According to Cyanide & Happiness, it's infectious.
- In Girl Genius, Vanamonde von Mekkahn has displayed a rather wicked incarnation.
- In El Goonish Shive Ellen gives Justin a questioning variant here.
- MasakoX, co-creator of Naruto the Abridged Series and anime reviewer at That Guy With The Glasses, does this very often. Observe.
- Quite a few people of That Guy With The Glasses are capable of pulling this off. Notable examples: The Nostalgia Critic adds one to his "scheming face" at the end of Suburban Knights, Phelous pulls quite the dangerous-looking one in Kickassia, and Linkara's "I am not amused by this" face comes with it as well.
- In Mary Shelley's Frankenhole Jim Belushi desperatly tries to imitate John's trademark arched eyebrow to the point of tying a balloon to it.
- Johnny Bravo uses it when scoping out babes, or whenever the events around him confuse him. Considering the likelihood of either one, it's a wonder his eyebrows are ever down at all.
- Used many times in Avatar: The Last Airbender, mainly by Katara.
- Several character use this on Total Drama Island, the most prominent example being Noah who has this as his default expression. Even while asleep.
- Part and parcel with the more dynamic and emotive designs of Transformers Animated, and not just the humans, either. Ratchet has some excellent ones when trying to understand the younger members of the team, and even Prowl with his highway patrol shades gets in one or two Fascinating Optic Ridge moments, to humorous effect.
- In Transformers Prime, with the somewhat more emotive movie based altmodes, Optimus Prime does this, when Miko and Raf lie to him about Bots being involved in street racing.
- Used one time by a car dealer on Futurama upon Amy mentioning how rich her parents were. He had to physically restrain it.
- In Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Lex Luthor did quite an impressive version of this when Power Girl walked into his office with "something to talk about." Given that Power Girl, is, erm, powerful even by DC's standards, one can't help but be suspicious of his intentions.
- In Fireman Sam, Station Master Steele's face appears to be stuck this way.
- Princess Celestia of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic does this near the end of "Lesson Zero", as Twilight's friends are taking the blame for her casting a spell that makes the entire town fight over a doll so that she could learn some sort of lesson about friendship to send her for that week.
- Octavia, one of the many fan-favourite background characters, pulls this expression in "The Best Night Ever" when Pinkie makes a request. Even her wiki page uses it.
- Well, well, well. It seems we have some neigh-sayers among the Tropers! Even if Celestia and Octavia can pull off the Fascinating Eyebrow, the fact remains that THE GREAT AND POWERFUL TRIXIE can do it better! In fact, she does it at least one time other than this, along with the standard >=D look during her episode.
- One of Stephen Colbert's trademark moves.
- Roger Moore used the expression often as The Saint and as James Bond. This site goes into further detail.
- Jeremy Irons' eyebrows will often outact him (the same way as he outacts the rest of the cast).
- Julie Benz.
- Comedian Andy Hamilton complains that he can't get his eyebrow not to do this, so everyone always thinks he's being sarcastic.
- Comedian Angus Deayton had this pretty much wherever he appeared, really.
- Richard Speight Jr doesn't only use this on Supernatural.
- Much of the appeal of British News Reader, Fiona Bruce is her perpetually cocked eyebrow.
- Football manager Carlo Ancelotti does this whenever interviewed, to hilarious effect.
- Hugh Dennis. It appears that one of his eyebrows just naturally sits about a centimetre above the other.
- Kylie Minogue. Her right eyebrow is naturally higher than the other, but it's become more obvious in recent years due to her admission to using Botox.
- Gary Barlow. Not only is his right eyebrow higher than the other, it sometimes seems to have life of its own.