Created By: aschwartz07901 on June 6, 2011 Last Edited By: aschwartz07901 on September 20, 2011
Troped

Dawn Attack

Military units prefer to attack at dawn

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Needs More Examples, Needs a Better Description, Is This Tropable?

We Attack at Dawn!

Dawn Attacks are particularly popular in Real Life as well as fiction. It is generally assumed that suprise attacks are most likely to take place at dawn. This allows the attackers to move into place during the cover of the night, while using the first light of the morning to see well enough for the actual attack. There is also the hope that an attack just before or just at dawn will catch the enemy while most of them are still sleeping or just waking up, and are therefore not fully alert. Also, as dawn is a time of transition between dark and light, the theory is that attacking at dawn allows you to catch the enemy while their eyes have not yet fully adjusted to the morning light. For an extra bonus, you can attack from an direction that will result in the enemies being blinded by the glare of the rising sun.

Of course, the irony of this tactic is that is has been so heavily used that most military forces now use the practice called "Stand-To-Arms", where the entire defending force wakes up sometime before dawn and goes to a full defensive alert, with every soldier in their battle positions.

For fictional purposes, the Dawn Attack adds extra drama to a scene, symbolizes transitions and new beginnings, and (in visual mediums) allows for just enough light to be able to clearly portray the action.

compare Shot at Dawn.

This is Older Than Dirt

Examples

film
  • Ice Age
    Diego: We'll teach that human what happens when he messes with sabers.
    Soto: Alert the troops. We attack at dawn.
  • The Last Flight (AKA Le dernier vol)
Lieutenant, follow me! Silence! We attack at dawn!

Literature
  • Tortall Universe:Ulasim realizes that the war for Rajmat "has begun ahead of schedual."
    Ulasim: Any good swimmer knows to swim with the tide rather than against it. We Attck in force at dawn
  • in Jingo, a conversation between Captain Carrot and Jabbar, wise man of the D'regs, while surrounded by Klatchian soldiers:
Jabbar: They will not dare attack before dawn. Carrot: And what will you do, sir? Jabbar: At dawn we will charge! Carrot: Ah. Uh. I wonder if I could suggest an alternative approach? Jabbar: Alternative? It is right to charge! Charging is what dawn is for.

Live Action TV
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys episode "Hercules and the Lost Kingdom"
    Hercules: We attack at dawn.
    Telamon: Dawn? Why don't we attack tonight?
    Hercules: Because we attack at dawn.

TV
  • Family Guy: one of Peter's inventions flings Stewie into a tree, where he sees the Keebler elves plotting to "attack the Rice Krispies guys at dawn."

Western Animation
  • The Grim Adventuresof Billyand Mandy
    Mandy: [in show intro] It's you and me against the world. [dons an army helmet] We attack at dawn.
    • Also in the episode where they look into the future and see Mandy Ruling the world, when billy tells the rebels her only volnerablity
    Billy's friend: (gibberish math) equals ... FROGS! We attck at Dawn!
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
    Nizam: Words won't stop our enemies once they're armed with Alamutian blades. We attack at dawn.

Real Life
  • D-Day, AKA The Invasion of Normandy, was timed so that the first wave of the main assault arrived at the beach at about 6:30 AM local time. However, the supporting paratroopers had touched down earlier, at about 1 AM.
  • Deliberately subverted in a number of conflicts in the 1990's and early twenty - first century due to night - vision goggles, giving attackers using them an advantage when attacking well before dawn rather than immediately after.

Community Feedback Replies: 31
  • June 6, 2011
    Aielyn
    I'd recommend broadening it slightly to cover "We X at Dawn!" and similar announcements.

    Of particular note is the invoking that occurs in an episode of Frasier - in this episode, Frasier keeps announcing that "We leave at daybreak!", which eventually leads to Martin asking "What's with you and daybreak?" - the next time Frasier goes to say it, he catches himself, saying "We leave at... nine-ish."
  • June 6, 2011
    aschwartz07901
    I agree but maybe that should be a different trope or considered lampshade hanging. There's to much lore specific to attacking at dawn
  • June 6, 2011
    JonnyB
  • June 6, 2011
    aschwartz07901
    ok so this should go in the stock phrases index but there should still be a page for this
  • June 6, 2011
    somerandomdude
    In Pocahontas, Radcliffe leads the attack on Powhatan's village at daybreak, coupled with a nice:
    At daybreak, WE ATTACK!

    In Family Guy, one of Peter's inventions flings Stewie into a tree, where he sees the Keebler elves plotting to "attack the Rice Krispies guys at dawn."
  • June 7, 2011
    Arivne
    IMDb Search Quotes and Subzin search for "We attack at dawn"

    Film
    Diego: We'll teach that human what happens when he messes with sabers.
    Soto: Alert the troops. We attack at dawn.
    • The Last Flight (AKA Le dernier vol)
    Lieutenant, follow me! Silence! We attack at dawn!

    Live Action TV
    Hercules: We attack at dawn.
    Telamon: Dawn? Why don't we attack tonight?
    Hercules: Because we attack at dawn.

    Western Animation
    Mandy: [in show intro] It's you and me against the world. [dons an army helmet] We attack at dawn.
    Nixam: Words won't stop our enemies once they're armed with Alamutian blades. We attack at dawn.
  • September 4, 2011
    ThePope
    This is a quote, not a trope.
  • September 4, 2011
    FastEddie
    The idea of Line Parody is an interesting trope, though.
  • September 4, 2011
    IlGreven
    Inverted in Garth Brooks' song Ireland. The protagonist's army ("forty against hundreds") will be attacked (and crushed) at dawn...so the protagonist says they aren't waiting and go out in a blaze of glory right then and there.
  • September 4, 2011
    hevendor717
    Fire Emblem has several examples.
  • September 6, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    Call it Attack At Dawn to avoid being cut for having a dialogue title.

    I think this needs a bit more explanation. Is it Truth In Television? Is it done to take advantage of light in some fashion? Is it done to provide the day/evening/night before for final preparations? Has it been done so often (i.e. it's Older Than Dirt or thereabouts) that it's ripe for parody?
  • September 7, 2011
    DaibhidC
    • In Jingo, a conversation between Captain Carrot and Jabbar, wise man of the D'regs, while surrounded by Klatchian soldiers:
      Jabbar: They will not dare attack before dawn.
      Carrot: And what will you do, sir?
      Jabbar: At dawn we will charge!
      Carrot: Ah. Uh. I wonder if I could suggest an alternative approach?
      Jabbar: Alternative? It is right to charge! Charging is what dawn is for.

    • From a Discworld fanfic, "Revolution Maybe" set during the events of Night Watch (although in the book, the timing of the attack is somewhat unclear):
      "At dawn, do you reckon?" asks Sam from about three inches behind Vimes's right shoulder. The alley's too narrow to walk abreast. "That's when they'll attack?"
      It's the obvious time, and therefore a deeply stupid one. Vimes starts to say so, then considers that the order will be given by a high-ranking officer with years of experience and a long family tradition of military service behind him. "Probably," he says.
  • September 8, 2011
    Arivne
    Seconding Attack At Dawn.
  • September 8, 2011
    somerandomdude
    Western Animation Family Guy: Stewie gets catapulted into a tree populated by Keebler Elves:
    Head Keebler: Alright, we attack the Rice Krispies guys at dawn!
  • September 9, 2011
    Specialist290
    It is Truth In Televison, to an extent. I learned that (at least in the US Army) whenever a unit is on patrol, they'll have a "stand-to" (everyone in security on alert) just before dawn because that's the most common time for an enemy attack to begin.

    Also, Googling "dawn attack military" turns up a lot of references to pre-dawn attacks in recent news.
  • September 15, 2011
    GrolloMan
    Literature
    We would attack at dawn. I asked why dawn.
    "Tradition," Marco said. "You do shoot-outs at high noon, you stretch in
    the seventh inning, you attack at dawn."
    Like much of human thinking, this is a mystery to me.
    "You also get executed at dawn," Cassie said.
    "Thank you, Cassie, for that bit of optimism."
  • September 15, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    Fixed the title, but if anyone really cares about this trope, they need to fix the description so that it isn't just about people saying stuff.
  • September 15, 2011
    FastEddie
    Actually, I think the OP wants to talk about Dawn Attack, once they get over the fixation on a dialog line. "Attack At Dawn" is still something a character would say. Dawn Attack is about the timing of the attack; a trope, not a line.
  • September 17, 2011
    Psychobabble6
    • Justified in the first season finale of Avatar The Last Airbender: the Fire Nation holds off attacking the Water Tribe until sunrise because the moon gives the waterbenders the advantage - the sun aids the firebenders.
  • September 17, 2011
    SonicLover
  • September 17, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    I adjusted the description. So... Is This Tropable?
  • September 17, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    ^I think so.

    Real Life
    • D-Day, AKA The Invasion of Normandy, was timed so that the first wave of the main assault arrived at the beach at about 6:30 AM local time. However, the supporting paratroopers had touched down earlier, at about 1 AM.
    • Deliberately subverted in a number of conflicts in the 1990's and early twenty - first century due to night - vision goggles, giving attackers using them an advantage when attacking well before dawn rather than immediately after.
  • September 17, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    Okay, well, I guess I'm am taking over this trope after all.
  • September 19, 2011
    aschwartz07901
    I've don some asking and I'm pretty sure that this is actually a stock phrase, and not a trope

  • September 19, 2011
    aschwartz07901
    And I'm retaking control of this trope, Auxdarastrix, the obnly reason I abandoned it was because it hadn't gotten any hits in 2 months. and I muych prefer the way I described it.
  • September 19, 2011
    aschwartz07901
    All right I'm a little confused. This trope has clearly flourished in my absence but I'm still pretty sure that it is not, in fact tropable. So what the heck do we do with it?
  • September 19, 2011
    ladyofprocrastination
    I'm pretty sure it is tropable, if we're talking about the action of attacking at dawn rather than just the Stock Phrase. It's not only Truth In Television but a time-honored tradition in fiction to the point of Seen It A Million Times.
  • September 19, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    Okay, I'll let you do whatever you want with it, aschwartz07901.
  • September 19, 2011
    Ronka87
    Add it to Twenty Four Hour Trope Clock when it's ready to launch; compare Shot At Dawn.

    It's tropable to me; it's not just a stock phrase, it's an action as well.
  • September 19, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    I agree, and I like the revised description. I'm putting a hat on it.
  • September 20, 2011
    aschwartz07901
    Oh, you see I realize now that when I proposed it, I meant the stock phrase and not the trope.

    Personally I think the stock phrase is cooler, but id the action of attacking at dawn is a trope then What the heck?

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=yi99xzg9ndonw5f6p0yyb9u1