No More Green Eyes

>> Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Underage Reading blog has a great little piece up about the preponderance of green eyes in YA fiction--a personal pet peeve of mine. Honestly, there seem to be far more green-eyed people in fiction than there are in real life. Do interesting stories only happen to people with green eyes? Or red hair?

According to Wikipedia, only 2% of the world population has green eyes--making it the least common eye color. And most of those people are from Northern and Central Europe. (Weird fact: almost 92% of the population in Iceland has either green or blue eye color!)

Among White Americans, green eyes are most common among those of Celtic and Germanic ancestry. And only about 16 percent of those populations have green eyes.

So please. For the love of St. Pat, can we have fewer characters with green eyes? There are lots of great adventures to be had by the rest of us with blue, brown, and gray eyes...

UPDATE 6-15-2010: Weirdly, of all my random posts, this small one gets the most hits. BY FAR. It's also gotten perhaps the most comments of any of my posts. I keep running into characters in books with green eyes even to this day, and I am always sorry I didn't start a list way back when.

Well, it's never too late, I suppose! So here now, in this post, I'm starting a running (and terribly incomplete) list of characters who have green eyes. I've forgotten most of the instances I've run into, but I'm going to begin recording them here. If you run across one in fiction, leave a comment and I'll add him/her to the list!

Characters with Green Eyes

Dan and Amy Cahill (The 39 Clues)
Harry Potter (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling)
Henrietta Willis (100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson)
Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery)
Mara Jade (Star Wars expanded universe)
Hercule Poirot (mystery novels by Agatha Christie)
Prince Jaron (The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen)


tanita davis April 28, 2009 at 11:10 AM  

I kan has violet eyes?
Oh, please, oh, please, oh, please?

I am of the opinion that everyone who writes these wildly colored eyes has plain old brown ones just like me.

Sigh. You're not letting writers live very exciting vicarious lives, man. I'm just sayin'.

Laini Taylor April 28, 2009 at 1:54 PM  

ha ha! You're so right. I'm thinking . . . and I don't believe I've written a single green-eyed character in three books. Brown and blue, some black eyes. A weird case of a brown eye suddenly turning blue, but no green that I can think of. My dad has green eyes.

Violet eyes bugs me more than green in fiction, because I have never seen them. If it's fantasy, okay, but in romance, I see violet eyes and my disbelief-o-meter goes off at once.

Brian April 28, 2009 at 6:29 PM  

I have green eyes! And I actually have never noticed this phenomenon. Curious though. Granted, I'm from a Celtic background.

I do remember hearing, once upon a time, that green eyes are connected to creativity, because of their rarity.

Elizabeth April 28, 2009 at 6:46 PM  

Wow, actual stats! (And, that is crazy about Iceland. Although I suppose it makes sense that a small population on an island would develop a lot of recessive phenotypes.)

Thanks for linking to our post! Once you start noticing the green eyes think, it's very distracting, isn't it?

kaylie May 25, 2009 at 2:48 PM  

I have green eyes...and red hair, but i havent noticed this. hmm...

Wendi May 25, 2009 at 3:46 PM  

I think you were born to be a character in a book, Kaylie!

Maybe I'm overstating things, but I think whenever people want to give a secondary character, in particular, a quick, easy, and memorable characteristic, they go for the red hair. I think the green eye thing happens more to main characters.

Anonymous,  June 18, 2009 at 2:28 PM  

I'm a green-eyed redhead as well. (Somehow. My dad has dark hair and dark eyes, and my mom is blond.)

But I pretty much like all eyes. The only time an unusual color in a story really bugs me is when it's constantly pointed out.

Southernbelle,  July 16, 2009 at 12:10 PM  

I have green eyes. My eyes were blue until I was about 11 years old, when they slowly changed to green--and that was decades ago! Same thing happened to a first cousin at about the same age. Is it genetics or are we just weird. lol? Strangely, the change in my eye color occurred at about the same time I began to experience nearsightedness (but not true of my cousin). Both my parents have hazel-brown eyes. I've got fair skin and dark, almost black hair. My heritage is a mix of English, Welsh, Scottish, German, Swiss, and who knows what else! I like having green eyes because they ARE unusual!

kaylie July 16, 2009 at 12:21 PM  

@southernbelle : aah yes, my eyes were blue until about that age as well. i am very nearsighted, but i realized that in 2nd or 3rd grade....basically once i found out that other people could actually see that trees had leaves

Mira,  July 22, 2009 at 2:46 AM  

I don't get the whole thing about green eyes either, I think that authors are just trying to make their characters look "rare" somehow. Me, I have dark green-hazel-bluish eyes (hard to put a label on them), but still.

Generally, eyes of an exotic color (ESPECIALLY violet) tend to indicate an author's wish-fulfillment device. However, it's totally void to me if there are many other characters with a whole rainbow of eye colors.

In one of my works of fiction, there are characters with yellow, grey, green, indigo, black, red, brown, and more. They're all animals, so it kind of makes sense. :-/

Anonymous,  October 29, 2009 at 5:34 AM  

I have got green eyes too and i love them.I think this colour is the most beatiful and special.I am from the middle of Europe(Slovakia) and a I haven´t met a lots of people with green eyes...but i noticed that in books this eyes colour is favourite:D

Anonymous,  November 5, 2009 at 11:24 AM  

I have green eyes and am just learning that it is the rarest eye color. How about that!

Laini Taylor, my son has blue eyes and when he was a kid sometimes they were so bright they were violet. I had never seen it either, nor since.

And strangely enough, my ex-husband has brown eyes and our children all have blue eyes!

Anonymous,  January 2, 2010 at 10:43 PM  

My eyes have been green since the day I was born. I just found out today the rarity of having green eyes. An Arabian person once said that green eyes are the most beautiful and rarest of eye colrs.

Anonymous,  January 18, 2010 at 4:44 AM  

I am Mexican and I have green eyes. I never realized that having green eyes was so... rare because in most cases when you see a Mexican with colored eyes they tend to be green. Hmmm.... kind of weird no?

pknorman2003 January 27, 2010 at 11:50 PM  

Found your site searching for the 'green eyes' scoop. I have light green eyes and Auburn hair.I am Irish and Native American. Interesting that, like me, several other green eyed people didn't notice or know that green eyes were rare. OK so now I really do feel special. lol Actually though, I enjoy it and as one writer posted, after you know about the 'green eyed' thing it is quite distracting.

Anonymous,  January 31, 2010 at 2:46 PM  

I have green eyes, and I'm not Celtic...

Anonymous,  February 7, 2010 at 12:16 AM  

interesting stuff. I have green eyes and dark brown hair. I am of north indian descent (state called Punjab). I don't see many green eyes around my DC Area.

MyOtherUsernameWasCooler February 17, 2010 at 5:31 PM  

I have green eyes but I'm also a White American of Germanic ancestry so..

One character in a story I'm writing has green eyes and her mother had red hair and green eyes.. Oh crap.

Anonymous,  February 27, 2010 at 7:01 PM  

I have green eyes as well, although there is a small circle of red-brown around my pupil. Is that actually considered hazel?
While watching Lord of the rings the other day I had a realization. Nearly everyone has blood eyes! At first I thought this might because I believed blue eyes to be the favoured eye colour (over green even), but then I thought maybe it has to do with cinematics. In movies, eyes are the most important expressive tool, but having actors with dark eyes masks some of the expression of the pupils. So maybe they have more of the actors wear blue contacts to better express the emotions of their characters?
Just a thought.

Anonymous,  May 8, 2010 at 10:19 AM  

Holy cow. I have this weird, what-color-are-my-eyes thing. My mom say they're blue-grey, but every person I meet says they're green, or blue-green, or hazel. I have a thin chestnut ring around my pupil, then a slightly wider amber ring, then a blue-green-grey-godknowswhat area. Urgh. I think they were blue until a while ago.

Fahim May 9, 2010 at 8:56 AM  

I have green eyes, but I am not from Celtic or German origin. I’m not even European
I’m an Afghan, my family members are mostly green eyed actually about 15-20 % of southern and eastern Afghans are green eyed .it is probably because of our Tocharian ,Bactrian or may be Greek ancestry .but grey en blue eyes are also not uncommon between afghans.
I think green-eyed people are very tough in the same time they are honest and could be sensitive.

Anonymous,  May 27, 2010 at 2:17 AM  

What's with all the green-eyed people here? I wish I had something like that. I love all the colorful eye and hair colors. I've just got boring brown eyes, dark brown/black hair, and white skin. I hate being so normal.

Anonymous,  August 18, 2011 at 6:06 AM  

Wah! I have two different coloured eyes... One is green, but used to be blue, the other hazel, maybe??? Has some yellow no joke...

Anonymous,  December 6, 2011 at 9:09 PM  

i find this article fascinating, i have green eyes and until today i didn't know they were uncommon making their over abundance in fiction not seem strange to me at all...

Alex Paige February 10, 2012 at 7:22 PM  

I have green eyes and everybody says they're cool. I don't know though, sometimes I wish they were brown.

angel February 16, 2012 at 9:19 PM  

I have green eyes and I belong to India.

Anonymous,  November 22, 2012 at 2:39 AM  

Mara Jade from Star Wars novels has red hair and green eyes.

Frozen Peas,  October 22, 2013 at 9:57 PM  

Interesting thread... looks like I'm reviving it... :) I popped in here because I've been reading a lot of novels lately (award-winning adult literature stuff), and noticed that most of them feature a green-eyed female love interest.

As for myself, my eyes are green+brown, which I call hazel. My hubby and kids all have eyes featuring green plus some other colour, so we just call it hazel when we fill out ID forms.

I've always liked brown eyes. That would be most of the world's eyes, so there you go!

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