[[quoteright:342:[[Film/{{Avatar}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Bioluminescence_3731.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:342:Pretty, isn't it?]]

A ScienceFiction trope: when writers think up alien lifeforms, there are several ways to make them cool, but nothing beats making them ''glow''.

TruthInTelevision, as many deep sea species have bioluminescence, including [[EverythingsSquishierWithCephalopods many octopuses]].

See also PowerGlows, FantasticLightSource and AlluringAnglerfish. Compare TronLines. Contrast SicklyGreenGlow.
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!!Examples:

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[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* ''Anime/SuiseiNoGargantia'' gave us the whale-squids, although it is a bit uncertain if they actually are bioluminescent or merely fluorescent-when-lighted a la GFP below.

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[[folder: Film ]]

* ''Film/{{Avatar}}'': Most lifeforms on Pandora, including much of the vegetation, have bioluminescent cells. The Na'vi have them as markings that form lines, which according to the background serve as a means of identification. Most plants, along with small animals, have a '''lot''' of bioluminescence, with larger animals and trees having less, although everything seems to have at least some.
* The aliens from ''Film/TheAbyss''.
* [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] in ''Film/PitchBlack'' due to the BizarreAlienBiology of the light-sensitive monsters that eat everything else on the planet [[FridgeLogic during every eclipse]]. [[spoiler:The glow-worms end up saving the lives of the survivors.]]
* The aliens from ''[[{{Monsters 2010}} Monsters]]''.
* The Moorwens from ''Film/{{Outlander}}''.
* UpToEleven in the movie of ''Literature/LifeOfPi''. Apparently ''every'' body of water glows piercing blue at night.
** Justified as bioluminescent plankton and pelagic worms really are very common on the tropical Pacific.
* The aliens in ''Film/AttackTheBlock'' have neon turquoise ''teeth''.
* The {{Kaiju}} from ''Film/PacificRim'' have glowing blood, alongside their glowing [[ThroatLight mouths]], [[GlowingEyesOfDoom eyes]], and [[VolcanicVeins markings.]]
* The [=MUTO=]s from ''Film/{{Godzilla 2014}}'' are black with glowing red markings. Godzilla's dorsal plates begin to light up blue, just like they do in the TOHO films. The new film adds in the plates glowing blue from the tail up, a la WesternAnimation/GodzillaTheSeries.
* Electro in ''Film/TheAmazingSpiderMan2'', whose body glows a continuous blue.
* In ''WesternAnimation/HowToTrainYourDragon2'', it is revealed that the dorsal area on the backs of [[spoiler:Night Furies]] can light up in streaks of blue, possibly in a ShoutOut to ''Franchise/{{Godzilla}}''.
* In ''Film/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy'', when the team explores a dark chamber to retrieve the Orb from Ronan, Groot expels a cloud of bioluminescent seeds to light the darkness.

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[[folder: Literature ]]

* In ''Literature/{{Kraken}}'', the Krakenists believe that after they die, they become bioluminescent cells on the body of the squid god.
* In "Literature/DarkLife" by Kat Falls people who live on the bottom of the ocean for extended periods of time often develop a bioluminescent shine from eating certain species of fish.
* Creator/WayneBarlowe seems to like this trope, given that he was a creature designer for ''Film/{{Avatar}}'' and he wrote and illustrated ''Literature/{{Expedition}}'', the book that ''Film/AlienPlanet'' was based on.
* The Tendu of Amy Thomson's ''Literature/TheColorOfDistance'' and ''Through Alien Eyes'' communicate through changing patterns on their skins. In the dark, their words glow.

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[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* Darwin IV: Several of the alien species from ''Film/AlienPlanet'' (adapted from ''Literature/{{Expedition}}'').
* ''TheFutureIsWild''
* ''Series/TheMostExtreme'' had the episode "Night Lights", which was all about finding [[{{Badass}} the most extreme]] bioluminscent creature. [[spoiler: The female [[AlluringAnglerfish angler fish]] won]]
* During a brief period of unemployment, Sheldon from ''Series/TheBigBangTheory'' mentions trying to engineer some bioluminescent goldfish (specifically to serve as an energy efficient pet/nightlight). It doesn't really come up again after a throw-away gag at the end of the episode, but he was successful in creating at least one.
* In the ''Tracker'' pilot, Mel catches a glimpse of Cole glowing,something connected to his Cirronian nature and whatever he was doing in the bedroom at the time. (not *that*!)
* One of the challenges on ''Series/FaceOff'' required contestants to design creatures to be displayed under black light as well as visible, meaning the artists had to paint with colors they couldn't even see.

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[[folder: Tabletop Roleplaying Games ]]

* Usually in any [[TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons dungeon crawl]] situation, there are caves that have bioluminescent moss or lichen growing on the walls/floors.

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[[folder: Video Games ]]

* ''Franchise/DonkeyKong'':
** In ''VideoGame/DonkeyKongCountryTropicalFreeze'', all marine lifeforms are luminescent.
* The hanar race from ''Franchise/MassEffect''. They communicate via patterns of bioluminescence.
* As do the Underlost from ''SepterraCore''. That said, most of Shell 7 is covered with bioluminescent plants/fungi, serving as the primary source of light IN that layer.
* The Macalania Woods in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX''.
* The markings on the Demi-fiend in ''VideoGame/ShinMegamiTenseiIIINocturne'' which TurnsRed when he's low on health.
* Definitely noticeable in ''VideoGame/StarFoxAdventures'', which is arguably similar to ''Film/{{Avatar}}'' in its visuals.
* The Slylandro in ''VideoGame/StarControlII''.
* [[FungusHumongous Zangarmarsh]] and [[UnderTheSea Vashj'ir]] in ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft''
* [[TheLostWoods The Forest]], and the creatures who live there in ''{{CreaVures}}''. Interestingly, the bioluminescence on the eponymous [=CreaVures=] also serves as a [[ShowsDamage representation of your health]] (with it fading for a while if you're hit), and sometimes as an indication as to whether an aggressive animal is cowering or not (with ''theirs'' fading for a bit).
* Everything in ''VideoGame/AliceMadnessReturns''' the Deluded Depths. Even Alice's dress has an angler and glowing dots and stripes.
* Glowing Fungus in ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'' in multiple colours. Some are edible.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Terraria}}'', you can find Blinkroot hidden underground, which [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin does exactly what you'd think it does:]] Blinks. (Though only when it's blooming.) Also to be noted are tall Glowing Mushrooms, also found underground, and better for healing and potion-making than surface 'shrooms. Quite a number of mooks also glow in the dark.
* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'':
** There's a couple of types of glowing mushrooms in ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind Morrowind]]'' - violet coprus [[note]]Inexplicably, they're not violet[[/note]] and luminous russula.
** In ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]'' glowing mushrooms can be found growing in some caves. There is also the nirnroot, a plant which glows ''and'' makes a sound. [[spoiler:Blackreach]] is a huge underground area full of enemies, ruins, giant glowing mushrooms and ''crimson nirnroots'' (which are like regular nirnroots, but are red instead of green).
*** Especially the Dawnguard add-on is fond of this. Both the fauna and flora of forgotten Valley of ancient Falmer love this trope. Caverns are lit by glowing flowers that retract themselves to their shells and animals have glowing blue stripes on them. Similarities with Avatar definitely coincidental.
* ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword'' has [[spoiler:[[BiggerBad Demise]]'s hair]].
* ''VideoGame/MetroidPrime'' has several types of glowing mushrooms throughout, including ones in the Phazon Mines that are large enough to serve as platforms.
* The Sylvari race in ''VideoGame/GuildWars2'' are bioluminescent, intelligent plant beings. Did we mention that they're a playable race?
* The Mushroom Garden in ''VideoGame/PlantsVsZombies'' is lit almost entirely by luminescent fungi.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Webcomics ]]

* In ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'', when [[spoiler:Kanaya]] becomes a [[spoiler:rainbow drinker]], she begins to glow. [[spoiler:Her dancestor, Porrim,]] also biolumineces, though she is better able to control it.

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[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* in ''{{Bionicle}}: The Mask of Light'', [[KidAppealCharacter Takua]] gets distracted by some glowing coral-like structures. He immediately puts them on his head and starts hopping around like a flourescent bunny rabbit.
* The ants' cave in ''WesternAnimation/ABugsLife'' is lit entirely by luminescent fungi.

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[[folder: Real Life ]]

* The protein [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luciferase Luciferase]] and its relatives are the cause of natural bioluminescence, for example in fireflies. It has been put into other creatures to create glowing bacteria, etc.
** A more famous but unrelated protein is [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_fluorescent_protein GFP]] (abbreviation for [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin "Green Fluorescent Protein"]]). Its derivatives have been established as common tools for scientific research. It's not true bioluminescence: the protein is merely fluorescent, so it only glows under a light source.
* Ravers and {{CyberGoth}}s have a liking for glowsticks and clothes that imitate bioluminiscence. While it's definitely running off the RuleOfCool, there's also a functional reason behind it: Supposedly, the glow from these sources have a soothing effect on the mind, reducing the chances for a [[MushroomSamba Bad Trip]]. Considering that these subcultures have a particular leaning towards psychedelic substances ...
* True to the ''LifeOfPi'' example, there are bioluminescent plankton that inhabit some waters, and glow when agitated or touched. A real time example can be seen [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kyP0XsF0zM here]].
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