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"You know, when a woman looks at you like that, it usually means something."
—Johnny Cage, Mortal Kombat movie (regarding Liu Kang and Kitana)

Bob and Alice have been spending a lot of time together, causing people to comment on their relationship but so far nothing has resulted from it. Often though, they will find themselves gazing deeply into each other's eyes, one indication of their UST. This can often precede an Almost Kiss, as this is usually what is happening before that. If this is an extremely intense gaze into the other's eyes, this might be an indication that a Big Damn Kiss is on the horizon. It can also be a platonic look between two friends.

There are three versions of this held gaze, depending on the atmosphere of the story. If it is a romance, this will appear at least once, accompanied by some passion on one (or both) of the partners in the gaze, hence it fits into the passionate look variant of the trope. If the atmosphere is more laidback and with a focus on males instead, this trope will (usually) be platonic, and the two men will hold each other's gaze meaningfully to either encourage the other or to just let them know that they are there for them, like the platonic examples below. And, the third version of this trope is a supernatural one - a shared gaze where souls gaze into the other person's soul, all at once having a more deeper experience than the other two versions mentioned above can have.

A Sister Trope of Almost Kiss, as this commonly happens before the kiss, and sometimes it precedes a Big Damn Kiss, and it is also a subtrope of Longing Look, but different in that it is two people holding each other's gazes. It naturally tends to happen when the two lovers Literally Fall In Love. Compare Staring Contest.



  • In Pokémon, Jessie and James from Team Rocket do this at the end of the episode 'Holy Matrimony!'. When Jessie and Meowth think James has got married and left forever, he suddenly returns in a hot air balloon, literally whisking Jessie off her feet. And then the two stare into each other's eyes while reaffirming their partnership, while Meowth runs after them, complaining that they forgot about him again. It's a very popular episode with Rocketshippers, for some reason.
  • Occurs in Inuyasha a few times between several different pairs, including a moment between Sesshoumaru and Kagura. As her life ebbs away, they talk, run out of words, and finally hold each other's gaze as she distintegrates into the wind.
  • The anime adaptation of the Ai no Kusabi novel has the Star-Crossed Lovers doing this near the end.
  • In the Dragon Ball Z anime, Goku and Chi-Chi do this and an off-screen kiss after he recovers from his heart virus.
  • Parodied in Ranma ½. Ranma and Akane are in a School Play, playing the parts of Romeo and Juliet. At one point, they look into each other's eyes for a long time. The audience thinks that they're pausing for dramatic effect and building the romantic tension. In reality, Ranma just forgot his lines.

Comic Books

  • Elf Quest has a specific name for this trope - Recognition (which is practically a Lampshade Hanging of sorts for the supernatural version of the trope). "Soul meets soul when eyes meet eyes"; which is a powerful biological urge to mate that pretty much guarantees healthy, gifted children.


  • In the Lost in Time Series, this type of gaze appears twice in chapter thirty - both versions, too, both platonic and romantic. Once between Diego and Terry as they fight Soto's army, locking gazes gratefully after Terry has just saved Diego's life and then time appears to slow for Frank and Claire as he holds the gaze of his darling wife for the last time.

Animated Films

  • In Tangled Flynn and Rapunzel share a Held Gaze before their Almost Kiss after they have watched the lanterns rise into the sky.
  • Ice Age
    • The platonic version occurs in the first film, after Manny has just rescued Diego from death at the lava fields.
    • This happens again during a tense situation between the mammoth and the tiger in the third film, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs when Diego is attempting to convince Manny to let him go protect Ellie.
  • The platonic version occurs between Stoick and Gobber in Dreamwork's How to Train Your Dragon when they grasp hands, looking each other in eye, before going off to distract Green Death together to buy their people some time.
  • In Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Spirit and Rain have a deep gaze into each other's eyes under a tree. Spirit also does this with Little Creek at least once.
  • In Tarzan, this happens between Tarzan and Jane when he first meets the girl, and they stare into each other's eyes in wonder. And again later during the "Strangers Like Me" "Falling in Love" Montage, where he pulls her close to him while they swing together on vines.


  • In the Little Women 1994 adaptation starring Winona Ryder and Christian Bale, Jo and Laurie share one before Laurie's Anguished Declaration of Love and their Big Damn Kiss.
  • Will and Elizabeth of Pirates of the Caribbean have this quite regularly between them as their romance blossoms.
  • Anne and Gilbert share a Passionate Look when the two reconnect in a gazebo in Kevin Sullivan's adaptation Anne of Avonlea (1987). They also hold each other's gazes at least twice in Anne of Green Gables (1985) during important tests at school.
  • Twilight consists of Edward and Bella doing this for two straight hours.
  • Romantic Comedy will often employ this trope, as it's very effective for UST and creating a moment between the two Love Interests.
  • Enchanted has Robert and Giselle doing this at the ball during their Dance of Romance.
  • In Peter Jackson's 2005 remake of King Kong, Ann and Kong find themselves gazing into each other's eyes often during her captivity and their reunion in New York features a very meaningful one. Heck, even the poster for the film has them doing this!
  • Doc Brown and Clara share one in Back to The Future Part III.
  • In National Treasure, the first variant occurs twice between Ben and Abigail twice. First, when they are arguing about her coming along with them to keep the Declaration safe: they gaze deeply into each other's eyes and Ben gives in to Abigail, with the Jefferson Memorial in the background. The second time it happens is when the adventurers are down in the tunnel beneath Trinity Church; Ben grabs Abigail, and they look deeply into each other's eyes soulfully before they kiss.
  • The "long distance love-scene" from Laurence Olivier's film version of Hamlet, where Hamlet and Ophelia hold each others' gaze from opposite ends of a corridor.
  • In Star Wars: Attack of the Clones this happens between Anakin and Padme twice: once as a gentle lover's gaze into each other's eyes, and then later as an indicator they are about to Big Damn Kiss - and they do.
  • In The Sound of Music, Captain Von Trapp and Maria are doing this for most of the time they're dancing the Laendler, but by the time Maria stops dancing it's become so intense that they're practically making out.
  • In Lemonade Mouth, this happens between Wen and Olivia while writing 'Determinate'. They then go back to awkwardly writing the song.
  • A platonic version is used at the end of Goodbye Solo, when William and Solo part ways for the last time. It's particularly effective because William is leaving to commit suicide, something that Solo has spent the entire film trying to prevent him from doing. And they both know that Solo has failed.
  • In When in Rome, lead protagonists Nick and Beth share two extremely passionate HeldGazes, one right after they meet and one that ultimately leads to a Big Damn Kiss while at the museum.
  • In The Vow, a very blatant Held Gaze - employed when the two meet each other in a line waiting for permits - kicks off the romance between Paige and Leo, the two protagonists.
  • In The Wedding Planner, this happens in a Meet Cute that combines Literally Falling in Love with Held Gaze when the eponymous wedding planner, played by Jennifer Lopez is saved by Matthew Mc Conaughey. Actually, this trope is a prime motivator for the sparking UST the engaged doctor (Mc Conaughey) and Lopez's character display towards each other in the film.
  • Pictured and quoted above: in the first Mortal Kombat movie, Princess Kitana and Liu Kang share a long one during their first meeting. It's not the only time it happens, even, and Johnny Cage ends up hanging quite the lampshade on it.


  • In the blog spin-off of Hilary McKay's Casson Family Series, Rose's Blog, Rose mentions how her Love Interest, Tom Levin, "looks and looks at me, looks until I cannot look away." It's a Lampshade Hanging, albeit an unintentional one.
  • The trope occurs often in romances and love stories.
  • Not surprisingly, Twilight the novel was doing exactly the same in nonvisual form.
  • In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, Harry even has a name for this - the Soulgaze, where two people catch a glimpse of each other's souls because they share a gaze.

 "For me, meeting someone's eyes is always risky. Every human being knows what I'm talking about. Try it. Walk up to someone, without speaking and look them in the eyes. There's a a certain amount of leeway for second, or two, or three. And then there's a distinct sensation of contact, of intimacy. That's when regular folks cough and look away. Wizards, though, get the full ride of a soulgaze." Harry Dresden, White Night.

  • Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book references the direct gaze that when an animal views it, it signals a threat, and it comes into play during the wolf-pack meeting at the beginning when Mowgli is allowed into the pack. His ingenuous, even gaze is unsettling to the animals gathered when he looks at them, meeting their gaze for only a few seconds, as most look away quickly except for ones like Bagheera, who knows something of the ways of men.
  • In the fifth Harry Potter book, Sirius and Lupin do this.

 Lupin's eyes were fixed on Sirius.

  • 39 lines later*

"Personally.", said Lupin quietly, looking away from Sirius at last.


Live Action TV

  • Mulder and Scully of The X-Files were did this a lot. It has been said that one of their meaningful gazes could make everyone else in the room - and, by extension, everyone else in the audience - feel like they were intruding on some absurdly private moment. There are whole fanvids consisting of their looks, like this one and this one.
  • Frequently featured between Lee Adama and Kara Thrace in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica Reimagined, especially when they're with other love interests. Fans like to call this "the eyefrak".
  • Soap Opera often uses this trope to show the high tension between lovers - usually in the passionate look form.
  • How I Met Your Mother: This is one of Barney's "moves" to invoke intimacy and seduce women (And Ted).
  • In the ~Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide~ episode "Guide to: Positives and Negatives", Sarah Gothman and Mark Downing have this before they kiss. It's electrifying.
  • Supernatural has the platonic (if Ho Yay-inducing) version: Dean and Castiel have been sharing long and tension-filled gazes since their first confrontation. At first it's just because Dean's rather aggressive and Cas, being an angel, has no idea about little things like how long it's appropriate to stare into someone's eyes, but they keep doing it.
  • Likewise, Sam and Dean regularly exchange soulful gazes, leading to an uncomfortable degree of Bro Yay.
  • Mad Men: This is combined with the Longing Look at the end of "The Rejected." Peggy and Pete lock eyes wistfully as they each follow their separate paths (her with new counterculture friends, him with businessmen in suits). However, you can tell there's always going to be a bit of longing and a "what could have been" vibe between them, even though neither one wants to travel down that path again.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: Kirk and Spock do this all. the. damn. time. In the episode "Miri," they held each others' gaze for a full twelve seconds, in complete silence, as the camera flicked back and forth between closeups of their faces, after engaging in extremely flirty dialogue. They're still doing the exact same thing twenty years later in The Undiscovered Country, when Kirk whispers in Spock's ear and then pulls away just far enough to lock gazes with him. (That one was a deep breath away from being a kiss.) Needless to say, this trope contributed enormously to their Ho Yay.
    • Kirk and McCoy engage in the purely platonic "meaningful look" variant when they drop the friendly banter and display the fact that they are rock-solid best friends.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: Chakotay and Janeway after Chakotay reveals his feelings for her in the episode "Resolutions".
  • Inspector Lynley and his partner DS Havers do this frequently, often immediately before solving the Case of the Week and proceeding to kick the villain's butt. They also do it a lot when they make up after a fight, or when they act as each other's confidantes, or... yeah. Suffice it to say that while this trope might not be intentionally romantic between them, it certainly played a major role in their UST, and spoke whole volumes about the characters' feelings for each other. In fact, during many of the most significant moments of their relationship, the words coming out of their mouths were completely incidental to the conversation they were having with their eyes.
  • Howard and Vince from The Mighty Boosh do this often. It's sort of platonic. Maybe.
  • Glee's Kurt and Blaine, right from their very first episode when Blaine sings "Teenage Dream" straight to Kurt. The ridiculously UST-ful gazes continue nonstop after that. They finally get their Relationship Upgrade in "Original Song" - and, later that episode, proceed to sing a duet together while staring dreamily into each other's eyes the entire time. Kurt and Blaine like this trope a lot.
  • This is part of what causes Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo's relationship to improve in Game of Thrones; as Dany's handmaid Doreah explains, 'love comes in at the eyes'.
  • Everyone does this to everyone else in Merlin. Everyone.
    • Especially Arthur, Merlin and Guinevere. These three are capable of having lengthy conversations with each other without ever saying a word.
    • Nicely done in the episode The Hunter's Heart in which Arthur is considering marriage to a visiting princess, even though Merlin is urging him to get back together with Guinevere. After finding Guinevere's ring in the forest, Arthur and Merlin exchange a deep, wordless gaze. Behind them, Princess Mithian tries to get their attention, quickly realizing that something beyond her understanding is silently passing between the two men. Although Arthur/Guinevere was a Foregone Conclusion anyway, that's the moment the audience knows that Mithian is about to be sent packing.
  • Babylon 5: The more Sheridan and Delenn do this, the closer they get. Or rather, the closer they get, the more they do this.
  • In the Sherlock episode "A Scandal in Belgravia" Sherlock and Irene Adler share intense, passionate gazes with each other at least twice in under five seconds, causing John Watson to snark out baby names since they are so obviously forgetting his presence in the room.
    • John and Sherlock are not exempt from this. No wonder everyone thinks they're together...
  • Parodied on 30 Rock.

 Liz: You know, some people actually craft stories, and when the story doesn't have an ending you don't just create one out of thin air by playing music or having people give each other meaningful looks. [music swells] Sure, that might manipulate an audience into THINKING they're feeling something, but it sucks.

Jack:[gives Lemon meaningful stare, their eyes lock}

Liz:[spins and locks eyes with Jack]

    • The platonic version happens between Shawn and Gus at the end of "An Evening with Mr. Yang." After saving his mom's life and helping catch the bad guy, Shawn finally gets to have his date with Abby. Shawn then turns around to look at Gus who is chilling in the backseat, still watching Shawn's back, even after the danger has passed.
  • Warehouse 13 There is almost no scene where Myka and HG are in the same room that this trope doesn't apply.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When Buffy is brought Back From the Dead in Season 6 she keeps avoiding the gaze of her sister and friends, but when she first catches sight of Spike the two keep staring at each other until the Scoobies barge in and spoil the moment. A platonic love version occurs in the following episode when Buffy's Parental Substitute Giles returns to Sunnydale.


  • Most music videos that involve or deal with romance will usually include these meaningful gazes between the people in the song in some way.
  • The band TenthAvenueNorth mentions "look deep in my eyes" implying this trope in their song "Beloved".

Video Games

  • In the Story Mode of Mortal Kombat 9, after Liu Kang defeats Shang Tsung, the latter and his entourage return to the Outworld. Kitana is present as this happens, and like in the above mentioned MK movie, she and Liu Kang look deeply into each other's eyes before she follows Shang Tsung.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • Couples on Phineas and Ferb often employ this trope for Ship Tease. For instance, Ferb and Vanessa share one when he first meets her, and Phineas and Isabella have also held each other's gaze - most notably in the special Summer Belongs to You!, when they are stranded on the island.
  • In Disney's House of Mouse, on the episode "Max's Embarrassing Date", Max and Roxanne stare into each other's eyes before they Almost Kiss, wherein Minnie interrupts them.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has a few of these. One with Mai and Zuko in the Boiling Rock episodes after being forced to lock the cell door on her [this one is more of deep hurt though], one with Suki and Sokka on the Serpent's Pass leading to an Almost Kiss. Then finally the one between Aang and Katara which leads to the Big Damn Kiss and end of the series
  • Kick Buttowski had this going on with Kick and Kendall, complete with Kick leaning her backwards and complimenting one another. However, the trance was broken when a kid off screen shouted that he should kiss her.
  • In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Hearts and Hooves Day", Big Macintosh and Cheerilee do this while under the influence of the Cutie Mark Crusaders' love potion. In fact, the only way to break the spell is to break the gaze for an hour.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender has Lance and Allura do this in the first episode: she stumbles out of her capsule, then almost falls to the ground, he catches her and then she looks up. Cue to Mood Whiplash as he tries wooing her and fails.
    • A straighter example happens in season seven, when Lance goes off on a mission and Allura tells him to "stay safe out there." They exchange a long glance, complete with blushing and Lance's sister Veronica's commentary.
    • A more ambiguous example happens in "A Little Adventure," when Shiro's clone body accepts his consciousness and he awakens. Keith smiles tearfully in relief, then holds Shiro's gaze for at least a full minute before embracing him.

Real Life

  • Studies have been determining that people naturally break eye contact after two seconds, any longer than that subconsciously establishes a deeper, closer connection. A study happened where couples who knew each other were told to look into each other's eyes for over a minute; nearly all the couples reported liking the person more afterword - and several even ended up married!
  • Real Life aversion: While true for H. sapiens, when other primates (and many other animals) lock gazes, that is a threat display. Because of this, some zoos have have signs near the monkey enclosure warning visitors to not look directly into the monkeys' eyes because it will scare them. Staring into your pet cat or dog's eyes can also make them uncomfortable.
    • This can happen with humans too, in some circumstances: sustained eye contact can be perceived as a challenge. Responses can range from breaking eye contact (conceding defeat) all the way to retaliatory violence.

  "What are you looking at?"

  • Another Real Life example - It has been speculated that humans evolved "whites of the eyes" (visible sclera) to enhance nonverbal communication by making it easier to tell what direction people are looking towards. According to the Other Wiki, dogs, during their domestication, developed the ability to pick up visual cues from the eyes of humans.
  • The "Staring Contest" game, often played in Real Life, because it is so fun to try and break another's gaze off of your own.
  • Naturally, this type of gaze between romantic partners appears often enough in Real Life - it is often employed during wedding ceremonies.