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File:OptimusEyelightsOUt 1405.jpg

Optimus was like a nightlight for children across the world.... one that just burned out.

Whenever a being, mechanical, magical or meaty, has Glowing Eyes of Doom (or just glowing eyes, Doom Sold Separately) these will flicker and fade out whenever they die. Much like a candle guttering on the last of its wick, death can turn off the literal light in someone's eyes. If the being also has natural Power Crystals in their body (or as the eyes themselves), these too will fade out.

The standard justification for having glowing eyes in the first place is that these eyes are not detecting by ambient light, so the death of the owner also terminates whatever biological, mystical, or electronic process that makes them light up. It probably has more to do with the Rule of Cool.

Speaking of, since most beings capable of lighting up their peepers aren't human, you can expect that if one is Not Quite Dead they won't just have their eyes open, but blaze brightly.

Related to No Ontological Inertia, and when objects that the person has linked to their Life Force (which also glows) fades out or breaks at their death. Glowing Mechanical Eyes are a prerequesite for the robotic version. Not at all related to By the Lights of Their Eyes. Nor when you See the Whites of Their Eyes. Compare Volcanic Veins, where the veins stop glowing once the character dies.

This is a death trope. Spoilers ahoy.

Examples of Eye Lights Out include:

Anime and Manga

  • Both times Kuma dies in Afro Samurai (once in the first series, once in Resurrection), his one cyborg eye goes offline.
  • After Cell crushes Android #16's head in Dragon Ball Z, a piece of circuitry with a bright green light falls out, and slowly dims to black, signaling that he is irreparably dead.
  • In One Piece anime, when a pacifista is destroyed by the Strawhat Crew.
  • The 0 Gundam does this after it is impaled on Exia's GN Sword in the finale of Mobile Suit Gundam 00, complete with the entire mobile suit going limp before it explodes.
    • In the first season, the entire face mask on HOWARD MASOOOOOONNNNN's flag goes dark when it is turned into a pin cushion by the Throne Zwei's GN Fangs.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelions Unit 01. Its eyes tend go out when it runs out of power or the pilot's Synchronization is interrupted by something. Although if the pilot's in sufficiently deep shit, its probably going to get right back up with the eyes lighting up again. Especially noticeable in End of Evangelion when Unit 01 simply turns off while hovering in mid-air to represent that Shinji hitting his Despair Event Horizon resulted in him losing his chance of fighting back for good.
    • Rebuild of Evangelion does it a little differently. When Unit 01 runs out of power, the green parts of its armor fade out along with the eye. Makes sense as the armor is the only part that actually requires power. Similarly, while the dummy plug-controlled Unit 01 is strangling Unit 03, Unit 03's eyes are shown flickering before Unit 01 breaks its neck with sheer strength. Right before Unit 01 punches Unit 03's head so hard it splatters like a watermelon, Unit 03's face is shown once again with the eye still flickering but much dimmer.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, whenever Alphonse's soul is "unconscious", or being pulled over to the Gate, his eye-lights go out.


  • HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • Happens to Marvin in the Hitchhiker's movie. Of course he's not really dead, but the first time you see it in the theater it's very dramatic, with a hint of "did that really happen?"
    • It happens to Marvin in the books too. Only later. And he really does die.
  • The Matrix. After Trinity removes the Agents' bug from Neo's body, it returns to its mini-robot form, which has a small red light. After she drops it out of the car, it falls to the ground and its red light goes out.
  • Kiryu's (AKA Mechagodzilla 3) eyes stop glowing after he sinks into the bottom of the ocean with Godzilla during a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Happens to giant alien robot in Monsters vs. Aliens.
  • Spoofed in Scary Movie III. A woman is hit by a car and ends with the engine block through her body. When she dies, the car's lights go out.
  • Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, C-3P0's eyes go out when he's blasted apart by the stormtrooper.
  • Terminator.
  • Optimus Prime in the 1986 Transformers animated movie. The authors must have had some bet on how many tropes they can fit into one death scene...
    • In this death scene, and others, the character's colors fade to gray too. What's the name for that trope?
    • And several times in the new CG movies. Revenge Of The Fallen in particular has a gut-wrenching repeat of Optimus eyes fading out. We know he'll come back, but you can't help but feel your gut clench when Mecha Jesus dies protecting a human.
    • Transformers uses this a lot. Sometimes eyes even blow out from leftover energy.
    • Though it is seen in one part that Frenzy's eyes could stop glowing when he was blending in with the scenery. Playing dead?
  • WALL-E's AUTO and EVE.
  • In the film version of The Last Unicorn, King Haggard at first sees a forest-scape in Lady Amalthea's eyes. After a while in her human form, this image fades to the normal human reflection, hinting at the death of the unicorn inside.


Live Action TV

  • The Centurions in Battlestar Galactica too, for that matter. Not only do they have the Cyber Cyclops roaming red eye, but it goes out when the 'bot is destroyed.
  • A slight variation in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Data and his identical brother Lore have amber irises. In Lore's final episode when Data deactivates him for good his pupils shrink until they disappear, leaving his eyes blank and sightless.
  • Callister in Eureka.
  • A similar thing happens with the Goa'uld in Stargate SG-1. Since their eyes aren't always glowing, and only do so when they choose, they don't fade when they die like in most cases of this trope. Instead, the eyes flash once and then fade before they die, accompanied by the special Goa'uld eye-flash sound effect.
    • There's a particularly good example of this in "Double Jeopardy", when Teal'C's robot duplicate shoots Cronus in the back several times with a staff weapon - his eyes flash in time with the energy blasts hitting them, then light up one last time and slowly fade as he expires.
    • The genetically-engineered Goa'uld Kull Warriors wear full-body armor, including helmets with blue lights over the eyes. When the warrior dies, the lights fade out. (The armor seems to sense the brain activity of the wearer, to know when they want to fire their weapons or when they die.)
  • Happens to the robot in the pilot episode of The Tick immediately before he says "Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress".
  • Ultraman after Zetton defeated him. Ultra Seven after his crucifixion at the hands of the Guts aliens. Ultraman Jack after Alien Knackle crucified him.

Video Games

  • All the R-Y model robots in Chrono Trigger (including party member Robo) have this happen to them.
  • In the intro of Dawn of War II, a space marine does it when his Power Armor is pierced.
  • In Planescape: Torment, if Nordom (the modron) dies, the eyes of his portrait go black.
  • In Final Fantasy XI, Dynamis Statues have glowing eyes which not only fade when destroyed, but may restore HP or MP to everyone depending on the color (Blue for HP, Green for MP, while Red eyes do nothing).
  • Raiden's visor does this in MGS4. But it later turns out he's Not Quite Dead.
  • Happens to each of the Colossi in Shadow of the Colossus.
  • The Big Daddies in Bioshock exhibit this.
  • Arthas/The Lich King does this in World of Warcraft. Promptly followed by various other signs such as rolling eyes, going limp/his arm releasing it's grip on his father's ghost and eyes rolling back into his skull.
    • Although in this case, the reason the eyes stop glowing is presumably because Ner'zhul is no longer possessing him. The glow stopping and death aren't directly connected.
  • Castlevania Judgment: The Time Reaper's purple eyes are the last thing you see of him, then they burn out.
    • The blue light in the titan's eyes fade as it is destroyed in Lords of Shadow.
  • In Mass Effect 2, shortly before the Collector General's death, the light in its eyes go out as Harbinger releases control.
  • The protagonist of Limbo upon death.
  • In Metroid Prime, Space Pirates eye's appear to be on fire - when killed they go out. This is most noticable when the Omega Pirate is killed, and falls on you.

Western Animation

Real Life

  • This is actually more Truth in Television than people realise, there are species of animal (such as pink-eyed Guinea Pigs) whose eyes really do fade to a dull brown the moment they die.
  • A few humanoid robots have glowing eyes which obviously shut down when being inactive or broken.