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File:Kubrickstares 1214.jpg

Evil face is evil.[1]

In that showdown, and at several other times in the film, Kubrick indulges his favorite closeup, a shot of a man glowering up at the camera from beneath lowered brows. This was the trademark visual in A Clockwork Orange, and Jack Nicholson practiced it in The Shining. What does it mean? That Kubrick thinks it's an interesting angle from which to shoot the face, I think.

A nifty trick for when you want to look like you're either evil, sociopathic, have a plan up your sleeves, or just mad:

  • Tilt head down
  • Look up beneath eyebrows
  • Smile or grimace.

Named for Stanley Kubrick, who made at least eight movies where a major character has this facial expression. When some other show or film uses it, it's frequently a homage to Kubrick. Generally it symbolises that the character in question is really, really pissed, and the person they're looking at is really, really screwed.

Often accompanied by Creepy Shadowed Undereyes. See also: Hidden Eyes and Death Glare. Compare Primal Stance and Limp and Livid.

Examples of Kubrick Stare include:

Anime & Manga

  • Dragon Ball characters do this quite a lot, usually right before Kicking it Up to Eleven but most notably Goku first goes Super Saiyan 3.
  • Almost every character in Katekyo Hitman Reborn does this when fighting at least once.
  • Dr. Hell from Mazinger Z also displayed this expression quite requently, usually when he was mad or he had just thought of some devilish scheme.
  • Light Yagami gets a few of these in Death Note. Notice how devilish he looks especially when it is combined with those glowy red eye effects.
  • Used in the first episode Darker Than Black. When the viewpoint character of the episode meets Lee/Hiei, he is stargazing and has a very normal conversation with her, and helps her escape her pursuers even. When she leaves, his expression slowly changes to this as he stares at her back, lending hint to the fact that he is chasing her himself, only much more subtly.
  • Lelouch from Code Geass commonly does this while his plans go as expected. When they fail... he does all sorts of different gestures.
  • Ophelia of Claymore does this a few times, as if we need any more reminders that she's psychotic.
  • It may be the shape of his eyes, but Noble Demon Hiei in Yu Yu Hakusho seems to perpetually wear this expression.
  • Kubrick Stare + Scary Shiny Glasses + Clasp Your Hands If You Deceive = Gendo Ikari.
    • Asuka does this when pissed off in The End of Evangelion after she gets utterly mangled by the Eva series.
  • Kyon does one in the Suzumiya Haruhi anime, when the plot just screws with the viewer's head in "Remote Island Syndrome Part 2". 2:07 — 2:14. Scary.
  • Berserk: Guts does this from time to time.
    • Femto's Kubrick Stare during The Eclipse is Nightmare Fuel worthy, since although He's raping Casca, Guts' love interest purely out of spite, he's also staring at Guts the entire time.
    • You know what's even more creepy? We saw some warning signs before the Eclipse when Griffith was giving them the SAME STARE when it became clear to him that Guts and Casca were a couple who were in love, and not just the blind admiration that people gave to him, which probably helped to set him off.
  • Naruto generally precedes asskicking with taking enough damage to kill a small town before pulling an incredibly bloodied one of these.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni elevates the Kubrick Stare and the Slasher Smile to an art form.
  • Bleach: Ichigo's Heroic Resolve moments sometimes include this.
  • The protagonist of Gamble Fish uses these in particularly dramatic moments.
  • Gundam Wing: Heero Yuy likes to make these, particularly when using the ZERO System.
  • Several yakuza mermen stare down Nagasumi during the second episode of Seto no Hanayome to intimidate him.
  • Luffy of One Piece pulls this at least once, perhaps most memorably at Sabody Archipelago, looking at a Celestial Dragon after Charloss shot Hachi.



 "Run down the street like a motherfucker."


Films — Animation

  • Syndrome/Buddy Pine from The Incredibles uses it when he reveals his identity to Mr. Incredible.
    • Syndrome uses it at more times than that, such as when he walks away from Mr. Incredible in a later scene in the movie, grumbling an Ironic Echo. Bob himself also uses it, during the scene where his boss is chewing him out and forbidding him from trying to stop a mugging.
  • In Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, when Quasimodo is finally pushed over the edge by the gargoyles, he looks down into the street, grimacing for one of the few times in the film as the chorus begins to break out in Latin chants.
    • There is another instance of one where Esmerelda gives Frollo one when he essentially offers to save her from burning if she sleeps with him. Just before the stare, she spits in his face.
  • In Ratatouille, Anton Ego somehow manages to do this to Linguini when the two first meet, even though Anton's standing over a seated Linguini.
  • Deluded!Buzz in Toy Story 3. It's even mentioned by name in the DVD Commentary.
  • Tangleds Rapunzel and Flynn, at least in this poster.
  • The Queen in Snow White when she orders the huntsman to kill Snow White. "But to make doubly sure you do not fail..."
  • In the third My Little Pony Equestria Girls movie, Friendship Games, Principal Cinch throws a few of these stares Twilight's way during "Unleash the Magic". ("I think I've made it plain what will happen if we have the losing score!")

Films — Live Action

  • Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut are the trope namers: all of them are Kubrick films where someone wears this expression. According to stories, the stare was often worn by Kubrick himself when he wanted to look gruff and intimidating on set.
  • Used in The Third Man, making this trope Older Than They Think.
  • Hannibal Lecter gives a cold, emotionless one in The Silence of the Lambs with an emphasis on creepy because he doesn't blink.
  • Kevin, the sociopathic cannibal (no, not the one above) from Sin City, gives an indescribably creepy Kubrick Stare right before he ambushes the protagonist Marv. Marv does one right back upon overhearing the cannibal's name from his prison. "See you later, Kevin."
  • Norman Bates at the end of Psycho.
  • The Crow: Post-mortem Eric Draven is quite fond of this.
  • Sarah Connor in the hospital in Terminator 2.
    • Robert Patrick's T-1000, throughout the entirety of that movie, is a prime example.
  • The Joker in The Dark Knight, as his posture is often slightly hunched over, is practically built to give these stares. Perhaps this is most noticeable when he's sitting in the holding cell, even more so when he joins in the clapping for Gordon's promotion. As it happened, Gary Oldman told Heath Ledger after this was shot that his performance was reminding him of Alex in A Clockwork Orange; Ledger admitted he had just been watching that film in his trailer.
  • Michelle Rodriguez's entire method of "acting" can be summed up as this.
  • Star Wars: When Anakin Skywalker turns evil, he gets yellow eyes that he always displays by using one of these.
  • Sir John Gielgud gives one of these in the movie Arthur, although it looks more disapproving than scary.
  • The Defence Secretary gives such a stare to M when he levels various complaints against her and her agency in Quantum of Solace.
  • Naomi Watts, of all people, gives a chilling glare near the end of the film Mulholland Drive.
  • One of the new Star Trek movie posters has Chris Pine in this pose, which unfortunately makes Captain Kirk look like a dead ringer for Dexter.
  • Hugh Jackman in the X Men films deliberately adopted a subtle version of this, but he came upon the idea independently. In an interview he said something about always trying to keep his head just slightly bowed, to imitate the way a wolf looks at you over its nose.
  • Evil from Time Bandits does this a few times while apparently trying to cast a spell. He lifts his arms up and his face glows red, but he's interrupted before he can finish what he's doing. In the end, it turns him into a crumbling statue, and the Surpreme Being appears to clean things up.
  • Virtually every shot of Jake Gyllenhaal in Donnie Darko is a Kubrick Stare. Apparently, it runs in the family; Maggie Gyllenhaal does an oddly sexy Kubrick stare in a few of her movies, particularly Secretary.
  • Keanu Reeves gives us one after blowing up Smith in The Matrix.
  • James Van Der Beek gives this look in an early scene from The Rules of Attraction, in the scene featuring Kate Bosworth.
  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari might be the first example of this trope in film. The actor doing the stare is Rudolf Klein-Rogge, who also popularized Milking the Giant Cow in Metropolis.
  • Played for sexy by Lauren Bacall in To Have And Have Not, reportedly because Bacall was nervous about working with Bogey and was trying to keep from shaking. Considering that they later got married, that's adorable.
  • In The Transporter, the villain manages to do this off camera. That is to say, he stares villainously into the camera for his driver's license photo. He insured that every cop who pulled him over would realize he was evil. He also pulled it off several times on camera, but the driver's license deserves special mention.
  • American Beauty: by Jane in the very first scene.
  • Capote: Perry Smith does one later in the film when he confronts Truman about his book's title.
  • Tommy Wiseau does this in the poster for The Room (link) One of the less threatening "dramatic" ones.
  • John Murdoch does this in Dark City after getting a lifetime's worth of training in Tuning injected into his brain. Roger Ebert even points out the Kubrick connection in his audio commentary on the DVD.
  • The Thing (1982). Used as a Red Herring when Windows is receiving the blood test; he's shown staring at Mac in this fashion as if he's about to attack him, but as soon as the test proves negative Windows visibly relaxes.
  • Frodo does one in The Lord Of The Rings for just an instant, when he claims the Ring for himself in Mount Doom.
    • Merry gets the effect when he's yelling at the Ents for refusing to fight, though it's actually incidental due to him having to look up at them.
  • Try to find a photo of James Cagney where he's in character and isn't doing this. (No surprise that he was one of Kubrick's favorite actors). See Gary Oldman's Tonight Show appearance below for a description of the Cagney version of the Kubrick Stare.
  • Loki does this throughout The Avengers. It's especially terrifying in his first appearance.


  • The Harry Potter series refers to this as well; in Order of the Phoenix, Bellatrix Lestrange's mugshot apparently shows her with a Kubrick Stare (judging by its description).
    • Barty Crouch Jr. seems to have worn one.
  • The cover of Vision of the Future has this.
  • The main cover of Poison by Chris Wooding features the eponymous character doing one, complete with noir-style coloring.
  • In Perelandra, the Un-Man gives Ransom an extraordinarily creepy one, judging from the description and the effect it has on Ransom

Live Action TV

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the first season opening (and the episode that scene was taken from).
  • Adrian Pasdar uses the Kubrick Stare both in Heroes and Profit.... It's very, VERY creepy.
    • Zachary Quinto plays his Kubrick Stare to terrifying perfection as both Sylar and Spock have had Kubrick Stare moments.
  • Greg House from House almost always wears a Kubrick Stare, as shown in many publicity shots. It works to make him look like a strung-out crazy asshole. Which isn't far from the truth.
  • The League of Gentlemen's Papa Lazarou does this from time to time. It's incredibly frightening.
  • Patrick McGoohan is seen with a Kubrick Stare at least once in the opening credits of The Prisoner.
  • NCIS. Gibbs is comforting a crying woman whose deceased husband was a cannibalistic Serial Killer... until he's informed that some of the bodies buried in her backyard had been buried after the husband died. Cue instant Kubrick Stare from the woman, revealing her true evil self.
  • Dexter, of course.
  • Of all people on Lie to Me to give this look, we get it from Loker in an episode where he's pretending to be a mobster. It actually is fairly creepy.
  • Claire in Lost has come down with this.
  • ICarly: Freddie of all people, in iWin A Date. They are trying to comfort Gibby, who's crazy for a girl named Shannon who actually likes Freddie. After Gibby runs off, Carly comments on how sad it is to be in love with someone who won't love you back. Freddie gives her a well-deserved stare, and Carly goes 'Sorry'.
  • The Sarah Connor Chronicles has Cameron apt at doing this. Given it's Summer Glau it doubles as Head-Tiltingly Kinky.
  • In Power Rangers SPD, Sky (the Blue Ranger) gets bodyjacked by an alien, and starts doing this a lot. It worked a little too well on the fandom.
  • In United States of Tara, Bryce uses this often.
  • Alias: Allison Doren delivers one during the epic fight scene in the second season finale.
  • One example in Stargate SG-1 is a genetically modified human called Khalek who upon the protagonists realizing his true nature, gives this look. The main light in the room is above him, which enhances the look.
  • Gary Oldman taught Conan O'Brian how to do something like this during an interview near the end of Conan's run on The Tonight Show (Oldman also related a story how he used it to scare off a paparazzi reporter). Seeing the normally upbeat Conan do this was unnerving.
    • Oldman credited this version to James Cagney. Step one: turn your head to face the opponent, keeping your eyes glued elsewhere. Step two: the eyes follow.
  • Played for very dark laughs in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Frame of Mind", where somewhere around the fifth time Commander Riker escapes or is rescued from what's either the Enterprise, which may or may not actually be real to begin with, or a mental hospital that's otherwise strange to him, the camera cuts to him wearing this expression as a doctor looks him over, like, "Okay, how long is this one gonna last?"


  • This, combined with a Slasher Smile, has become the trademark pose for the electronic artist Aphex Twin, first featured on his "Richard D. James Album".
  • Featured heavily in EPICA's "unleashed" music video, mostly coming from Simone Simons, but also the rest of the band at the end of the video.
  • Cobra Starship frontman Gabe Saporta has become famed for leveling "The Psycho Stare" at any camera in his vicinity. This has done nothing to quell the rumors about his basement of unspecified horrors.
  • Oomph!'s singer Dero Goi does this at the end of the music video of Labyrinth.
    • Also worth noting that for the majority of the video, he looks like a cross between Alex DeLarge and the Mad Hatter.
  • They Might Be Giants singer John Linnell is pretty much made for this with his crazy sparkly eyes and slightly ridiculous forehead.
  • Blur's video for "The Universal" contains several references to 'Clockwork Orange', so Damon Albarn does one or two of these, as well as a rare side-angle version.
  • Hatsune Miku in the beginning of the High Definition PV of Nebula, especially in this preview.
  • Jay Reatard gives a creepy Kubrick stare on the cover of his album 'Watch Me Fall' in what is clearly an homage to Nicholson in The Shining. Can be seen here
  • Rob Zombie does his own imitation of Alex's stare in the music video for Never Gonna Stop (The Red Red Kroovy) which itself is based on A Clockwork Orange.
  • The art on the CD of Jerry Cantrell's Boggy Depot features him giving such a smile.

Pro Wrestling

  • This is one of Triple H's signature poses.

Video Games

  • The Legend of Zelda: Midna does this at one point.
    • So does Ganondorf. Kind of.
    • Ghirahim gives a good one just before the second battle with him, licking his lips for added creepiness, reminding you that although his dialogue is suggestive and hilarious, this guy's still a Demon Lord, and you're on his kill list.
      • Also in Skyward Sword, Link himself does one whenever he's about to enter a dungeon.
  • Child Alma from F.E.A.R. is fond of doing these.
  • Damon Gant from Ace Attorney has one.
    • Edgeworth also has a pretty good one.
    • So has Apollo Justice, which is part of the reason why a fraction of the fanbase is convinced that Damon Gant is his biological father.
    • During his Villainous Breakdown, Kristoph Gavin combines this with a Twitchy Eye for maximum creepiness.
  • Quite a few of the talking heads of Fallout 1 and 2 had this as their "angry" animation.
    • In FO2, the Kubrick Stare ratchets up in increments as you pushed their buttons. In particular contrast with President Lynne's "superior civilization" poise, which would fade until her lips were locked in a snarl.
  • In Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, Soma Cruz's character image get this expression when he's possessed by Dracula, but not the rest of the time. Same with the sequel, Dawn Of Sorrow.
  • Cyrus does this in the title sequence of Pokémon Platinum.
    • And Red's sprite is a bit of a variation in all games except Fire Red and Leaf Green.
  • Just about every official concept artwork of Solid Snake ever drawn or rendered.
  • The "Meet the Engineer" video in Team Fortress 2 ends on this, in spite of eye-concealing goggles.
  • Heroic example: Almost every piece of official Mega Man Zero artwork shows Zero like this.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Sephiroth does this in the famous 'Nibelheim in flames' cutscene, both in the the original game and the updated version in Advent Children and Crisis Core. Sephiroth's Kubrick Stare also frequently appears in his more recent official artwork.
  • Lee Chaolan from Tekken 2 [1]
  • Shinji Naruse does this from time to time in Lux-Pain. You'll know you're seeing it when you can't see his pupils.
  • Mass Effect 3: When questioned by Admiral Hackett on how he got the krogan and salarians to cooperate (answer: by sabatoging the genophage cure), Shepard's response of "careful diplomacy" is accompanied by a Kubrick Stare and Psychotic Smirk.

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Hama on Avatar: The Last Airbender gets treated to this once her intentions are revealed.
    • Appropriately enough, Katara does this when she threatens to "end" Zuko, "permanently", if he hurts Aang.
    • Zuko does this the best during The Boiling Rock part 1.
    • Azula does this too, right after she fires her Dai Li agents in Sozin's Comet.
    • Sokka gets one as well in the four-part finale. Wind and everything!
  • Samurai Jack sometimes does this when he's ready to get dangerous, especially in the pilot.
  • Robot Chicken parodies this in one sketch, "Just The Good Parts": a segment of that dealing with The Shining consists near-entirely of the Kubrick Stares from the film.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror V", Homer does this during a Shining parody. The creators mention in DVD commentary that they made Dan Castellaneta do this while recording those lines. "Tilt your head forward and look up, you'll look like a lunatic."
  • In Code Lyoko, William Dunbar performs one of these just after (faking) escaping from XANA's possession for a moment. The screenshot has reached Memetic Mutation as his "rape face."
  • In the episode "Party Of One" in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, usual Genki Girl Pinkie Pie, delivers one to the mane cast after being dragged to her surprise party. It Makes Sense in Context.

Real Life

  1. Unless, you're uh, Neo in this picture. From left to right, top to bottom: Stanley Kubrick Kubrick, Anakin Skywalker, Alex DeLarge, Jack Torrance, Pvt. Pyle, Norman Bates, The Joker, and Neo.