Temporary Blindness

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The hero(ine) of an action/adventure series is blinded at the beginning of the episode. The character is told that the damage will heal, provided he does not do any action/adventure heroic things for the next hour. Since the viewer did not tune in to watch the hero convalesce, the plot goes on.

A supporting character helps the hero get used to his condition. Often, the blinded character's other senses will become much more acute. Unfortunately, the villain of the story sometimes discovers the hero's condition and instantly realizes he now has an overwhelming advantage. However, the hero still wins because the villain usually underestimates how well he has adjusted to his situation—in some cases, the temporary disability may actually give the hero a useful advantage.

An almost identical plot structure can be used with temporary paralysis, deafness, concussions, etc.

Examples of Temporary Blindness include:

Anime and Manga

  • Prince of Tennis has two instances of this. Early on, the main character, Ryoma Echizen, nearly permanently blinds himself after his own racket breaks and ricochets into his eyelid. Due to excessive bleeding, he is given a ten-minute time limit for finishing the match, and with three minutes left, finally gets serious and wins. Much later, Fuji, from the same team, breaks concentration and has a ball slammed into the side of his head, somehow blinding him. Not one to give up a match, he continues, though his opponent quickly grasps the situation and starts to make a comeback. Fuji then somehow surpasses his own limits and is able to "feel" the presence of the ball, making for a ridiculous victory.
  • In Slam Dunk, Rukawa plays a good part of the Toyotama match blinded after a Jerk Jock player elbows him on the head.
  • In the manga of Rurouni Kenshin, during his days as a hitokiri, some guys tried to take him out by using tricks to weaken his sight and hearing. He was still able to kill them even with barely functioning senses, but did have a little more trouble than usual. And his wife Tomoe died in the mess.
    • In the anime, Kenshin also was temporarily blinded during his fight with Shougo Amakusa. He recovers his sight later. Note that Shougo has blinded his own uncle and teacher several years later, and the poor man never recovered his sight, so...
  • In Dragon Ball GT, Goku becomes blind when Eis Shenron claws his eyes; he regains his sight later on.
  • In Himitsu no Akko-chan the titular heroine, in the deaf variant of his trope, upon meeting a new deaf kid at her school, uses her magic mirror wish herself deaf and mute, thus empathizing better with the kid. In rather scary moment of Fridge Brilliance, Akko-chan realizes that, having wished herself to go mute as well, she's unable to hit Reset Button. The Reset Button presses itself anyway, but not before some days of Wangst and the usual Aesop.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Roy Mustang is forced to open the Gate and loses his eyesight as a toll. He still takes part in the final battle, with Hawkeye guiding him. When its all over, he regains his eyesight thanks to Dr. Marcoh and his philosopher's stone.

Comic Books

  • In Birds of Prey, when Jason Bard attempted to rescue Black Canary, and they were caught in the act, a gun going off in his face blinded him. Because the villain had no reason to spare him, Black Canary insisted on escaping with him despite his blindness; his training makes him reasonably good at supporting her despite his condition, and at the end it is revealed that medical treatment can restore his sight.
  • Temporary blindness has happened multiple times to Batman in the comics.
  • An issue of Daredevil had Matt Murdock temporarily lose his enhanced senses. He Got Better. Daredevil: Black and White featured a total inversion of the trope, however - Daredevil is given sight by experimental surgery, but it fades away before long. Good thing it was All Just a Dream.
  • Rulk's eyes get gouged by Wolverine during a fight in Hulk #15 - he's blinded but he's fully aware his healing factor will restore his sight.
  • A lengthier than usual example happened in Cloak and Dagger, in which Dagger stayed blind for a full year; a fair amount of page space was devoted to her learning to cope.
  • There was a short storyarc in Spider-Man in which he went blind. Daredevil helped him use his Spider Sense in order to navigate.
  • Similarly, Wonder Woman experienced a bout of blindness in one mini-arc of her own series. A variation in that she intentionally did it to herself so she could fight a Gorgon without getting turned to stone.
  • There's a miniseries in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Vader's Quest, in which Luke is blinded when he goes into a cave full of light-amplifying crystals and ignites his lightsaber in response to a threat. Gasping "A J-jedi doesn't... need eyes!" he then fights off over a dozen people who weren't blinded, without killing them. He's more cautious for the duration of his blindness, but with the Force he doesn't have to adjust too much.
  • Happened in three seperate issues of Conan the Barbarian during The Eighties.
  • One of the many afflictions faced by gunslinger Jonah Hex in his career (in Weird Western Tales #24).
    • Another story line had him thrown from a wagon with the resultant jarring of his spine leaving him temporarily paralysed from the waist down.

Fan Works

  • Temporary blindness is also a common plot device in Hurt/Comfort Fics.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya goes almost blind in one eye in episode 1 of the Pretty Cure-style reboot, SOS Pretty Cure, and is paralyzed from the waist down in episode 3. Both times she recovers completely.


  • The movie Hysterical Blindness with Uma Thurman.
  • Not to mention the movie Blindness. Which is perhaps best left unmentioned, anyway.
  • In Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi, Han Solo is temporarily blinded, and takes part in the battle against Jabba almost completely blind, just proving what a Badass he is.
    • In the original version, anyway. In the Special Edition, he says "It's okay; I can see a lot better!" Implying that the blindness has worn off enough for him to see where he's shooting. Still, making that shot with any vision impairment is impressive.


  • Non-action example: in Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester is blinded by the fire that kills off crazy Bertha. However, after Jane returns and they have their first child, his eyesight starts slowly returning. Not 100% better, mind, but he stops being completely blind.
  • In The Warrior's Apprentice, Elli Quinn has her face burned off during a space battle. Thanks to future space medicine, she only loses sight while waiting for her reconstructive surgery, as her skinless face is bandaged in the interim. When her boss is accosted, she subdues the attacker by locating him with sound. Justified by the fact that she practices fighting blindfolded to improve her balance.
  • In The Bible, Tobit is blinded when bird droppings fell in his eyes. His son Tobiah sets off to search for a cure, and is joined by the Archangel Raphael in disguise. After they free a girl named Sarah from the curse that killed her seven husbands in their wedding nights and Tobiah marries her, Raphael tells him how to cure his dad.
    • In the New Testament, a Jewish man named Saul was blinded for several days after his he had a certain encounter on the road to Damascus. He then had a Heel Face Turn and became Paul of Tarsus.
  • In the novel Blindness, this happens to an entire (unnamed) country, progressively, but for one woman. The "blindness" in question is unusual: milky-white instead of pitch-black. Needless to say, civilization crumbles in it.
  • Jaina Solo, Han's daughter and a Jedi pilot, gets temporarily blinded at the start of one book of the New Jedi Order. She's a Jedi in a 'verse with high enough tech to get over that kind of thing, but she was still not allowed to fly until she'd healed. The main impact of it on that book's plot was to cause angst for her parents.

Live Action TV

  • This plot was absolutely standard in Seventies action drama, showing up on Mannix, Hawaii Five-O, and numerous others.
  • CHiPs had an entire episode with a pair of robbers using an optical laser mounted in the back of their van to temporarily blind their victims and pursuers.
  • Hawkeye was temporarily blinded by an exploding heater in an episode of M*A*S*H. During the course of his recovery he experiences a heightening of his other senses, up to and including Radar's ability to hear incoming helicopters. Later in the series, Klinger goes deaf for an episode.
    • In another episode, Colonel Potter mentions that he suffered from this during World War I.
  • Doctor Who: Sarah Jane was temporarily blinded in "The Brain of Morbius", and has an adventurous time (including a hair-raising escape from the Mad Scientist) before her vision returns.
    • A variation: Leela was temporarily blinded at the end of "The Horror of Fang Rock", and although she quickly recovered, her eyes permanently changed colour. This was a Real Life Writes the Plot Hand Wave to permit Louise Jameson to stop wearing the coloured contact lenses, which had been causing problems.
    • In the episode Flesh and Stone, Amy's brain gets invaded by a Weeping Angel, and the only way to keep it from killing her is to keep her eyes shut. So although she can physically see, if she opens her eyes she dies, so she's effectively blind. She ends up having to escape alone through a forest full of the Weeping Angels, pretending she can see so they don't attack her.
  • Clark gets blinded in the beginning of the Smallville episode "Whisper," which leads to his developing super-hearing. This also leads to a Continuity Nod where Clark has to wear glasses.
  • On Happy Days, the Fonz goes blind from being hit on the head with a tray.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Operation - Annihilate!", Spock is rendered temporarily blind by an experimental solution to that week's Negative Space Wedgie.
  • Temporary deafness variant: In an episode of the mid-60s Tarzan series, Tarzan is temporarily deafened when the episode's villains try to kill Tarzan by throwing hand grenades into the lagoon he is swimming in.
  • Due South: In "North", the first episode of its second season, Fraser is temporarily blinded due to a head injury suffered in a plane crash that leaves him and Ray Vecchio (along with Fraser's half-wolf Diefenbaker) stranded in the Canadian wilderness. Later Fraser (also temporarily) loses the use of his legs due to the same injury.
  • The title character of Monk is temporarily blinded in one episode only to find that he actually prefers being sightless, as what he can't see can't repulse or terrify him. He still recovers by the end of the episode, and suffers the customary disadvantage against a sneak attack from the villain of the week.
  • An episode of the 2000 series The Invisible Man had the titular character shot with a "blindness gun." The gun operated on the same principle as his powers, so when he activated them he was able to see.
  • Farscape episode Til The Blood Runs Clear has Aeryn temporarily blinded when she accidentally glimpses a solar flare with unprotected eyes. Since she doesn't adjust too well, she spends the rest of the episode in the local hangar, finding a more permanent solution to the problems the rest of the cast are facing.
    • Two seasons later, they return to the same planet- and it happens again, this time to Crais.
  • Elliot Stabler lost his vision in one episode of Law and Order SVU
  • Patrick Jane lost his in one episode of The Mentalist.
  • The MacGyver episodes "The Negotiator" and "Blind Faith"
  • The Early Edition episode "Blind Faith" (which seems to be a common title for this plot)
  • In the Quantum Leap episode "Blind Faith" (there's that title again), Sam leaps into the body of a blind pianist. Although able to see for most of the episode, he is temporarily blinded by a camera flash at the climax of the episode just as he needs to save the girl.
  • Subverted in a Stargate SG-1 season 3 episode: "New Ground". Teal'c is blinded by an energy blast and his gau'ould larva is injured, preventing it from healing him right away. The rest of the team is captured, so Teal'c stubbornly insists on riding to the rescue... and promptly walks into a solid rock wall, nearly knocking himself unconscious. Finally, he swallows his pride and accepts the assistance of a native, receiving a partial cure for his condition. But he still can't shoot beyond point blank range and nearly blasts Colonel O'Neal. Really, it's mostly the native guy who saves the day.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Something Blue", Giles is rendered temporarily blind due to a spell.
  • Happens to Barney in the Mission: Impossible episode "The Falcon".
  • The Fugitive has this happen to Kimble in one episode, and to Gerard's wife in another.
  • This happens to The A-Team's resident pilot Murdock in the episode 'Beast in the Belly of a Boeing'. While reclaiming a hijacked plane from a group of terrorists, one of the terrorists fires his gun in front of Murdock's face, giving him a powder burn rendering him unable to open his eyes. After the fight, Murdock is the only person capabale of piloting still on the plane, and ends up having to tell Hannibal how to land the plane. He lands successfully, albeit through the wall of the air port, but it's acknowledged that it was ridiculous nobody got hurt.
  • Hercules lost his vision in one episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.
  • In Charmed, at one point, the Halliwell sisters get the 'see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil' version - one is blind, one is deaf and one can't talk. They have the requisite attack from a villain who underestimates them.
  • This happened to Stabler once in Law and Order SVU after he took some head trauma when he smashed his head against a car. It was played a little differently than most, in that he is not able to go off and do his usual heroics, instead simply waiting for his sight to return while his injuries heal.
  • In one episode of The Sentinel, the protagonist got blinded, which is an odd twist in a show about a guy with Super Senses. He decides to use his remaining senses to fake it for the duration of the episode, and does better than a normal person could.
  • Crops up in one episode of Band of Brothers, but unusually it lasts less than an hour and is apparently psychosomatic.
  • There is an episode of Kamen Rider Agito in which Hikawa starts losing his vision as a result of stress and overwork. Hikawa being Hikawa, he insists on continuing to work as Kamen Rider G3 all the same, resulting in a rather touching turn of events when Hojou (who, to that point, had made it a point to butt heads with Hikawa and co. as often as possible) uses the G3 team's communication system to act as Hikawa's eyes and help him kick ass.
    • The trope reappears in Kamen Rider Kiva with Nago losing his vision and Megumi shouting out directions for him. (It's worth noting that Inoue Toshiki was the head writer for both Agito and Kiva.)
  • In one episode of The Invisible Man Fawkes loses his sight temporarily, although he discovers that he can still see when quicksilvered (he proceeds to get sunglasses so he can quicksilver hia eyes with no one noticing).

Professional Wrestling

  • WWE has done this twice; at one point, Jake "The Snake" Roberts was blinded for several months after "The Model" Rick Martel sprayed cologne in his eyes, and the two had a feud leading into a Blindfold match, in which both men were blindfolded to make things fair; in another, Nidia was blinded by Tajiri with a mysterious black mist, and her boyfriend, Jamie Noble, subsequently took advantage of this by putting her in harm's way to win matches.
  • Happened for real in ECW to New Jack after a botch.


  • The Lone Ranger was shot in the throat and rendered temporarily mute in the 1940s radio serial. For several subsequent episodes, the Lone Ranger was unable to speak above a hoarse whisper while Tonto carried the plot. This was a case of Real Life Writes the Plot, since voice actor Earle Graser had died suddenly in a car accident. After five episodes of gradual recovery, Brace Beemer was the new voice of the Lone Ranger.
  • Australian radio duo Hamish and Andy gave up a sense each for fifty hours. Hamish had his ears blocked off, but Andy was blinded. He ended up having a panic attack and called it the loneliest, most confusing and isolating fifty hours of his life.

Real Life

  • Happened to Rufus Wainwright during a drug binge in the early 2000s.
  • Until November 2010, Mila Kunis had a medical condition that rendered her blind in one eye. That condition was easily fixed, restoring sight to that eye.

Video Games

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • Also showed up in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, "Blind As A Bat", where our hero had to stop The Penguin from stealing an experimental military helicopter despite his impairment. Batman uses sonar system that somehow plugs into his brain to provide an artificial equivalent of sight (why he couldn't just plug a camera into his brain was never addressed), but it's conveniently damaged at the climax of the fight, forcing Batman to defeat the Penguin using only his sense of hearing.
  • A very similar plot occured in Darkwing Duck. This is to be expected, as the series is somewhat of a spoof of Batman (though not a direct spoof of BTAS, since the latter premiered after its cancellation).
  • In one episode of The Smurfs, Poet Smurf is struck mute, and learns sign language from a friendly elf named Laconia.
    • Also, in the episode "Dark Ness Monster" Brainy Smurf is rendered practically blind after losing his glasses. He has to rely on Clumsy Smurf's guidance for the episode, which results in the two becoming best friends.
  • Late in the first season of Frisky Dingo; both Killface and Xander are blinded and eventually get eye transplants.
  • In an episode of Futurama, Leela has one eye blinded and has to wear an eyepatch. Complicated, of course by the fact that she only has one eye to begin with...
  • This trope was used in "Blind Luck", an episode of the Rambo Animated Series.
  • In an episode of King of the Hill Hank is very uncomfortable with his mother's new boyfriend; one day when he accidentally walks in on them having sex the sight causes him to go blind for several days, only after accepting him as a stepfather does he get his sight back.
  • Happened to Rhinox, Dinobot, Cheetor, and Rattrap in an episode of Beast Wars. Rhinox had to do the Zen Master thing to help them fend off the Predacons.
  • In the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episode "Lone Raph and Cub", Raphael is temporarily blinded, and must rely on the kid he was trying to help to orient him in a fight.
    • Subverted in the Mirage comic book story "Blind Sight", in which Leonardo is blinded via poison during a fight with a Foot Ninja, who was himself blinded by Leonardo in a previous battle. Leonardo lands what he believes to be a killing blow, until he realizes that the ninja was gone, and that he'd actually stabbed a homeless person who was in the area. This leads to a sequel mini-series, where the still-blind Leonardo deals with the Heroic BSOD caused by the experience.
    • Michelangelo also has his own "Blind Sight" arc in the Archie comic book series (TMNT Adventures), wherein he was blinded by a Molotov Cocktail, then survived a plane crash into the ocean, and was then captured and tortured by the U.S. government. After going through all that, and still blind, he managed to find it in his heart to save the man who tortured him from drowning.
  • Played with in X-Men Evolution: Scott is dropped off in Mexico as a part of a trap laid by Mystique. He can see fine, it's just that she took his visors so he has to keep his eyes closed to avoid his Eye Beams causing massive damage to everything he looks at. Plus, you know, he's in the middle of the desert with no one to help him.

opens his eyes for an instant to get a look at his surroundings::
Scott: The good news...no one was there. The bad news, no one was there.

  • An episode of Jackie Chan Adventures did a triple-whammy with this trope: in accordance to the monkeys of See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Speak No Evil, Tohru was rendered blind, Jade's hearing was taken away, and Jackie couldn't speak.
  • Used on Kay in an episode of Men in Black. Also allowed Jay to angst, as Kay had taken a blast meant for Jay, which took his sight temporarily.
  • In an episode of Family Guy Peter decides to set a record for swallowing the most coins. Eventually he goes blind from nickel poisoning until the end, when he inadvertently rescues Horace the bartender when the bar was on fire. He gains his sight back when he receives an eye transplant from a hobo he accidentally killed.
  • An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes had the entire town of Miseryville like this after a lightshow, with Jimmy deciding to take advantage of the situation to do whatever he wants.
  • Rednecks and Broomsticks – This happens to many residents while a group of girls was on trial for witchcraft. Lisa was able to clear the group of causing epidemic after discovering her dad, Homer, and many moonshiners had dropped their supply in the river. The moonshiners thought the sirens were for them while they were having a Moonshine Contest.