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The 'mons have eyes... or do they?

Sticky
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I recently felt compelled to compile a list of all the Pokémon that have either more or less than the standard two eyes. However, what I thought would be a relatively simple task turned out to have a lot of ambiguities. In many cases, if it's not overtly obvious that some aspect of a Pokémon's design is intended to be an eye, you can at least seek verification by booting up one of the games from BW onwards and putting that Pokémon to sleep, or, in any of the 3D main series games, waiting for the Pokémon to blink - but this is not a universal solution. For instance, some Pokémon, such as Heatran, appear to lack eyelids, since the organs that are obviously their eyes do not close, even while sleeping. Now, were that only the case for Pokémon with unambiguous eyes, that would be one thing - but of course it's not that simple. So I'd like to see if I can get some feedback on some of the more questionable instances, as well as posting the results that I have collated thus far.

Here's my current list of what I believe to be indisputable:

No eyes
Zubat
Staryu and Starmie
Roggenrola and Boldore (By the time this line evolves into Gigalith, it has developed functioning eyes, but the prior two stages only possess hollows that are said to function as ears.)
Nihilego (Although, I kind of like the completely unsubstantiated idea that those little swirling orbs in its front tentacles are "eyes" of a sort.)
Xurkitree

One eye
Magnemite
Unown
Duskull, Dusclops, and Dusknoir
Beldum
Sigilyph
Honedge and Aegislash
Trevenant
Kartana (According to its concept art.)
Meltan, Melmetal, and Gigantamax Melmetal
Rolycoly
Runerigus
Spectrier

Three eyes
Magneton and Magnezone (It is perhaps worth noting, however, that Magnezone's central red eye does not close when it is put to sleep.)
Mega Gengar (Although much like Magnezone's red eye, Mega Gengar's third eye doesn't ever close.)
Jirachi
Solgaleo and Lunala (Debatable - A "third eye" manifests on the domed screen of their foreheads whenever they use their signature moves or open an Ultra Wormhole, but we don't know if this third eye is capable of processing images like a normal eye. However, that may not be strictly necessary as a requirement. Consider that Mega Gengar's yellow third eye is apparently used for seeing into other dimensions, and Jirachi's third eye is also quite different from its regular pair and only seems to open under certain circumstances.)
Shadow Rider Calyrex

Four eyes
Slowbro, Mega Slowbro, Galarian Slowbro, and Slowking
Doduo
Weezing and Galarian Weezing
Kangaskhan and Mega Kangaskhan
Joltik (Although only the larger eyes have pupils and lids - it is likely that each pair of eyes is slightly different in structure and purpose, like with most real spiders.)
Guzzlord
Mr. Rime

Six eyes
Dugtrio and Alolan Dugtrio
Dodrio
Exeggutor
Combee
Galvantula (Same note as on Joltik.)
Barbaracle

Eight eyes
Alolan Exeggutor
Claydol

Twelve eyes
Exeggcute
Falinks

One-hundred-and-thirty-seven eyes (lol)
Stakataka

Numerous eyes, but the exact number can't be determined
Wishiwashi (School Form)

Now, for the more dubious individuals. For one reason or another, I found all of the following to be rather difficult to make any definitive statements about.

Caterpie - Zero eyes, or two?
- Caterpie has been a particularly agonizing thorn in my side. There is scads of evidence of the black circular "eyes" on its head being treated as true, proper eyes... in media outside of the games. Now, that's not to downplay the value of those mediums, but I do think it is interesting that at least within the main series games, the only example I can find of Caterpie's black spots being treated as eyes is its animated Crystal sprite, which is very old, and thus may not be reflective of how the designers currently view Caterpie. From XY onwards, Caterpie's black spots no longer blink or shut when it's asleep - this could mean that those spots are not eyes, or that Caterpie just lacks eyelids. Something else worth noting is its Pokédex entry in Stadium, which says: "It has large, eye-like patterns on its head as protection. They are used to frighten off enemies." This could suggest that those black spots are actually just a pattern on Caterpie's skin, which it uses for deceptive purposes. This would be quite true to the sorts of caterpillers that Caterpie appears to be based on. However, there is of course no reason why Caterpie's designers(s) couldn't have looked at those real-life caterpillars and decided to reinterpret their false eyespots as actual eyes, and certainly, if there is room to disregard the "blinking" in the Crystal animation on account of the game's age, then one could easily argue that the Stadium Dex entry could also be disregarded, especially since it is a spin-off game.

Kabuto - Two eyes, or four?
- Personally, whenever I've looked at Kabuto, I've always interpreted the red circles on its underside to be its true pair of eyes, with the black spots on its back being false eyespots. However, looking at its Pokédex entries, I'm less sure. From Yellow, we have: "It uses the eyes on its back while hiding on the sea floor." And from Crystal, there's this: "Three hundred million years ago, it hid on the sea floor. It also has eyes on its back that glow." The way that these entries refer to the eyes on its back cause me to suspect that the black spots on Kabuto's shell may indeed function as actual eyes. And if that's the case, then what do we make of the red circles on its underside? Then again, Crystal's reference to Kabuto's eyes "glowing" seems, in my opinion, like more of a reference to the red circles - could it be that the underside of Kabuto is considered its "back"? Perhaps, but that seems counterintuitive to me. Compounding matters is the fact that Kabuto's model undergoes no change if put to sleep in the 3D games.

Wynaut/Wobbuffet - Two eyes (for both), one/two eyes, or three/four eyes?
- Long have there been theories that the black tail that Wynaut and Wobbuffet are so protective of is their "true" self, and that their large blue bodies are mostly intended to act as resilient, deflective decoys. When put to sleep, the "eye" on their tails doesn't change... but does that mean it isn't really an eye, or do they, like Heatran, simply lack eyelids in that area? Depending on how you interpret the tail along with each of their emoticon-style eyes, we end up with three scenarios: 1) The emoticon eyes are the only real eyes, meaning that both Wynaut and Wobbuffet have a total of two eyes each, 2) the emoticon eyes are false, and it is the eye-like spots on their tails that are true-but-lidless eyes, thereby making Wynaut one-eyed and Wobbuffet two-eyed, or 3) a combination of both, with the emoticons and the tails' eyespots being true eyes.

Girafarig - Two eyes, or four?
- This one isn't as straightforward as you might expect. Obviously, Girafarig has a second head that is replete with a set of eyes. However... when put to sleep, these eyes never close, and Girafarig's Pokédex entries all talk about how the second head reacts to scents and sounds. The "eyes," in that case, might be there for decoy purposes, or they could even be some sort of ear or nostril that just resembles an eye.

Cherubi - Two eyes, or four?
- Cherubi has a second "head," although it may not even truly be a "head" of any real consequence, as Cherubi's Pokédex entries only describe it as a nutrient-filled ball that can be plucked off an eaten, and which shrivels up as Cherubi approaches the point of evolution. Nevertheless, it does seem to have "eyes," albeit ones that are permanently shut, as well as a mouth! But I suppose these could be false patterns meant to deceive potential predators.

Gastrodon - Two eyes, or three?
- A classic case. Gastrodon evolves from Shellos, a two-eyed Pokémon whose eyes are capable of closing, and yet Gastrodon never blinks nor closes its eyes when sleeping. As a result, the fact that its eyes look exactly like the central "spot" on its forehead begs the question of whether or not that third spot is, itself, another eye. Unfortunately, its Pokédex entries offer no insight into this issue. Perhaps it could even be the case that, like Sliggoo, Gastrodon's eyes have degenerated to the point that it can no longer see? Maybe that's why they look so dark and blank, and why they don't ever shut - they've become vestigial.

Darkrai and Litwick - One eye, or two?
- I'm lumping these two together because it's basically the same story. Both Darkrai and Litwick have "fringes" which cover the portion of their face where a second eye would be expected to exist. Other Pokémon whose eyes are usually obscured by their "bangs," such as Ralts and Morgrem, can still reveal them from certain angles, but that doesn't seem to be the case with Darkrai or Litwick. Moreover, I haven't been able to find any examples of Darkrai or Litwick being portrayed with both eyes visible simultaneously. In Darkrai's case, there are what I'd consider a couple shreds of evidence in its Gen 4 backsprites, some TCG cards, corporate artwork, and certain anime scenes... however, all of these could also arguably be cases of Ambidextrous Sprites - that is, the practice of mirroring an image horizontally in order to maintain its recognizable look, even though it puts details that would normally be on one side of the image onto the opposite side. Now, maybe you could say that's me overcomplicating things, but hey, I like to be thorough.

Galarian Darmanitan (Zen Mode) - Two eyes, or four?
- A pretty typical instance of "How to interpret the lack of eye closure?" In Zen Mode, Galarian Darmanitan seems to acquire two eyes on the snowball that adorns its head. When put to sleep, GDZM's regular eyes do not close, which opens up the possibility that the "eyes" on the snowball, which also remain open, are actual eyes unto themselves. That being said, however, it is probably also reasonable to suggest that these glowing spots are instead just the hollows left behind by the diamonds/ice crystals that used to be embedded in the snowball in its standard form, and that they are being illuminated by the fire burning within.

Klink, Klang, and Klinklang - I'm not really sure what's going on here...
- This family is hard for me to parse. As Klink, we have a pair of two gears, each with a (non-closable) eye and an X-shaped mark opposite it. It might be easy to assume that each gear only has one eye, but then again, there are several Pokémon that have eyes that are drawn like symbols or emoticons. In that sense, one could argue that the Xs are also eyes, just drawn differently for stylistic reasons. And then as the line evolves, one of the gears becomes larger and seems to lose its regular eye, while the X "eye" turns into a ^-shape. Is it, at this point, cyclopean, or what?

Deino, Zweilous, and Hydreigon - Did Deino and Zweilous ever have eyes?
- It's established in the Pokédex that Deino is blind. However, its "bangs" prevent us from being able to see whether or not it has even a pair of vestigial eyes. I think the fact that Hydreigon's second and third heads have (non-closable, suggesting vestigial?) eyes implies that Deino and Zweilous do have non-functioning eyes that we simply can't see, but it is ambiguous.

Zygarde (50% Forme and Complete Forme) - Hmmm...
- Zygarde is an odd one. Its 10% Forme is probably the most straightforward, having only a simple pair of two eyes. If we look at the Cells and Cores, only one of their two eyes has a pupil, so it may be the case that only one of their eyes has full function - but at any rate, they clearly do have two eyes. But when we look at Zygarde's higher forms... some questions arise. 50% Forme's "eyes" are actually two clusters of four hexagons each. To me, this might initially suggest that 50% Zygarde has two eyes that are very complex in structure like compound eyes... but like the hexagons all over the rest of its body, the individual hexagons in its eyes are able to glow with light independently of one another and only one of the eight hexagons is permanently glowing, kind of like how the Cells and Cores only have one pupil. Might this indicate that each hexagon is actually its own eye, thus giving 50% Zygarde a total of eight eyes? And then, when we look at Zygarde's Complete Forme, it's obvious that a proper head with a proper set of two eyes has emerged... but the "clusters" which formed 50%'s eyes now appear on Complete Forme's chest. Since that specific visual language was already used to represent eyes in the previous form, might it be the cse that Zygarde's Complete Forme has four eyes, or perhaps even ten eyes if the hexagons are counted individually?

Buzzwole - Seems like it definitely has two eyes, but which part are they?
- It might be tempting to look at Buzzwole and interpret the small black beads from which its antennae extend from as its eyes. However, when we look at the anatomy of real mosquitoes, this assumption is thrown into question. Here's an up-close picture of one, where you can clearly see that the antennae are connected to small beads at the front of the face, while the "eyes" are the large, elaborate, compound structures on either side of the face. Looking at Buzzwole, it seems plausible that its eyes are actually the translucent red segments of its "head." There is, however, a sliver of doubt about this in my mind, purely because the sparks of orange, lava-like energy that flows through Buzzwole's body can also be seen through these sections, which could indicate that it is just more skin like all of the other translucent sections of Buzzwole's physique.

Naganadel - One eye, or two?
- Naganadel is an odd one. When we look at its face, there is an inclination to interpret the larger segments of its "visor" on either side as a pair of eyes. And indeed, these parts do blink and shut like you would expect, but that doesn't change the fact that they are bridged together in the middle. The question then becomes, is the entire glowing visor meant to be a single visual receptor? Or does Naganadel have two separate eyes that are connected to each other for some reason?

Necrozma - Does it have eyes, or not?
- It may be incredibly tempting to look at what seems to be the "face" of Necrozma and read the flecks of color as a sort of eye. However, we should remember that, anatomically speaking, the prism filled with colorful shards is actually Necrozma's brain, so are we being deceived here? In truth, we may not be... because in its proper form, Necrozma clearly does have eyes that are composed of those same colorful shards. I suppose it could be the case that there is no proper delineation between Necrozma's eyes and brain - it's a bizarre alien creature adjacent to the Ultra Beasts, so who can really say what the rules are? Still, I mention it here because there is that room for interpretation.

Gigantamax Cinderace - Two eyes, or... or four??
- This one seemed almost lab-engineered to mess with me. Why? Why does the giant Pyro Ball gain a set of huge, cartoonish eyes??? I don't get it! My testing demonstrated that when put to sleep, G-Max Cinderace's proper eyes close, but the Pyro Ball's eyes remain the same. And yet, I still don't know what to make of it. My best guess... based on how the Pokédex described the ball as being filled with fighting spirit, is that the face on the ball is actually a representation of Cinderace's willpower. Not a true "face" per se, but more an extension of Cinderace's mind. Think of it like a mood ring, maybe? But I guess if you wanted to say that the ball has its own set of eyes for targeting purposes, I suppose you could...

Woobat and Hatenna - Do they have eyes?
- If these two have eyes, then unlike Ralts, they're never visible. I think with both of them there's a loose implication of having eyes since their evolutions clearly do, and Woobat has those longer tufts of fur on either side of its nose which seems to gesture at the idea that its eyes are just hidden, but I can't seem to find concrete evidence or any explicit confirmation that either one of these Pokémon has eyes.

Eternatus and Eternamax Eternatus - lol?
- It's an alien that breaks so many rules of anatomy that I shouldn't be surprised, but nevertheless I am curious about what I'm supposed to think here. At least with the base form of Eternatus, we seem to be in 50% Zygarde territory again. It has two obvious... ocular receivers, but they are segmented in a way that could be interpreted as being multiple eyes bunched together, totaling six, with three on either side. Meanwhile... Eternamax. There's definitely nothing that obviously reads as an eye here, since it's literally a giant hand. Nevertheless, even I have proposed once before that the hands "fingertips" might be comparable to eyes, kind of like how starfish have very simple "eyes" on the tips of each arm. (I... wonder what happens if you put Eternamax to sleep? Unfortunately I don't have a game saved right before that fight in order to test it out!)

The Regi family - Seven eyes, or none?
- Simple, straight-up question here: Are the dots considered eyes, or no? They can glow and dim, and they remain dim if the Regis are put to sleep, but one could easily still interpret them as mere embellishments rather than functioning organs.
 
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I'm gonna blow your mind
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I dispute your indisputable list!

Silcoon and Cascoon have two eyes, it just looks like one due to perspective. They're frequently depicted with two eyes in spin-offs and even in the models of Pokemon XY and SM.

As for the problematic ones, I don't think I can give any input that wouldn't essentially boil down to "Yes / No because I think so." :x

I guess, I'd look into the anime for most of these? Even if it isn't a core game, it's still an official source.

Also, as for Girafarig, the X, (Alpha)Sapphire and Pearl entries say the tail's head doesn't need to sleep, so that might be why its eyelids don't close - it's always watching.
 
Sticky
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I dispute your indisputable list!

Silcoon and Cascoon have two eyes, it just looks like one due to perspective. They're frequently depicted with two eyes in spin-offs and even in the models of Pokemon XY and SM.
Yeah, I’m... I’m not really sure how that one slipped by me. It’s right there on the models. Thank you for pointing it out.

As for the problematic ones, I don't think I can give any input that wouldn't essentially boil down to "Yes / No because I think so." :x

I guess, I'd look into the anime for most of these? Even if it isn't a core game, it's still an official source.
Indeed; unfortunately we rarely get to see the reference sheets for individual Pokémon, which would maybe clear up some of these cases - so interpretation will just have to suffice. I’ve been planning to take a look at some anime appearances, but that will take some time to comb through.

For my part, the assumptions that feel most natural to me are:

Caterpie - Yes the black spots are eyes, just lidless

Kabuto - Only the red spots are eyes, and idk why the Pokédex is referring to that side as its back.

Wynaut/Wobbuffet - Genuinely not sure, but I do find the “the tail is the true self” reading compelling.

Girafarig - Before writing this post, I would have said the tail definitely has eyes, but now I kinda like my “they’re hybrid ears/nostrils” theory.

Cherubi - Maybe a bit graphic but I think of the face on the ball suggests some interesting things about Cherubi’s gestational process. Like, I think the second head is indeed a head with actual eyes and a mouth, but over the millennia, Cherubi have evolved to the point where the second head doesn’t fully develop inside the egg, emerging as a non-functional remnant of sorts, and instead contains residual proteins and nutrients that are eventually consumed by Cherubi itself or a predator.

Gastrodon - 3 eyes, I think it just feels quirkier and cuter that way lol

Darkrai/Litwick - Definitely 2 eyes, we just can’t see the others (and I wonder if Litwick can even see through the other one since it’s covered by wax).

Darmanitan - The upper “eyes” are just hollows from where the crystals were.

Klink line - Each gear has one eye as Klink, and Klang and Klinklang have only one eye total.

Deino line - Definitely vestigial eyes that are just covered by the fur.

Zygarde - 50% has two compound eyes, Complete Forme’s only eyes are the two on its face.

Buzzwole - The red parts are the eyes.

Naganadel - One eye “visor” altogether so yes the middle section does process visual information.

Necrozma - I guess it’s like I said, there’s just no delineation between brain and eyes. Like, Ultra Necro’s body is literally made of captured photons, who am I to judge? :p

G-Max Cinderace - I refuse to accept the idea that the Pyro Ball has real eyes, and stand by my “mood ring” idea.

Woobat and Hatenna - These two definitely have eyes, just covered up by hair.

Eternatus - Base form has two “compound” eyes of a sort, Eternamax’s fingertips are its eyes.

Regis - No true eyes, but the dots are sort of like sensors and can detect simple light and motion changes.
 
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Caterpie: The stadium evidence is tempting and it being blind would give its antennae more prominence, so it's up to one's headcanon.
Kabuto: Four eyes, it's an arthropod-like monster after all.
Girafarig: The tail is a decoy.
Wynaut/Wobbuffet: The body is a decoy, that's why its "eyes" are always closed.
Gastrodon: Two eyes, I don't see why a slow creature who lives in the water would need an extra one.
Cherubi: I see it as something smarter than a plant but dumber than a Pokemon, so I agree with your theory.
Darkrai: Two eyes.
Litwick: One eye. Having the other one covered by wax would be very painful, and all Litwick looking the same suggests that that's just their standard body shape.
Galarian Darmanitan & Cinderace: Two eyes, the other two are extra holes caused by the influx of Fire energy.
Deino & Xweilous: Two & four eyes.
Klink family: Hard to say, but the way it's designed is it's possible Klink has 2 brains that combine 1 one when it evolves, so the same would happen with its eyes, so it would have 2 eyes>1 eye>1 eye.
Naganadel: One eye.
Necrozma: Two eyes, eyes need light to work so it would have no problem creating its own.
Zygarde: If we go by design alone it's obviously 2 eyes for 10%, 50% & Complete, but if one takes the fusion aspect in consideration it becomes complicated. In the anime you only need 2 cores to form complete, so 10% would have a real and a fake eye, 50% also one eye which is the white line in the middle and Complete would have two representing each Squishy's one eye. But in the games you need 5 cores, so I have no idea how the eyes would be distributed.
Buzzwhole: The eyes are the black dots, having ever growing muscles around your eyes would be painful.
Woobat: the fur is exactly placed where Swoobat's eyes are located, so it's clear it has two.
Hatenna: Like Caterpie, it lacking eyes would make its antennae more important.
Regis: No eyes.
Eternatus: The white thing looks like an eye so it's probably one. In Eternamax...well, that form's probably only achievable under extreme circumstances where it wouldn't need to see much so no eyes.
 
Sticky
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Oooh, very good point about Caterpie and Hatenna! I like that. And your thoughts about Klink - I hadn't considered it that way before, but it makes a lot of sense.

Yeah Zygarde's a mess lol

I agree that Eternamax is a very specific and unusual circumstance. While the description for Eternabeam suggests that it's Eternatus's true form, I'm somewhat inclined to disregard that. At best, I think the fingertips work like starfish eyes, detecting rudimentary changes in light but not processing images as such. But honestly, I'm still kinda wondering if even the base form is its "natural" look, or if the reason why it's a skeleton is because its other body parts, it's skin and organs and musculature, fragmented off as Wishing Stars and Wishing Pieces, since we are told that those were parts of Eternatus.
 
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