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Aura Vision

The ability to perceive normally invisible Life Energy of others, often colour-coded for good/evil, emotions, amount of life, Power Level, etc. This can be presented as Functional Magic, Psychic Powers, related to spirituality, a biological gift, or even technological.

Auras can be seen as a glowing outline or colouring on a characters skin. For extra clarity the character/monster of week's vision may be shown in black and white to make the auras more distinctive.

Supertrope of Detect Evil. Sub-Trope of Psychic Powers. Sister Trope of Enemy Scan and The Force Is Strong with This One. When the Aura is representative of something else, see Editorial Synaesthesia, Power Glows, Fluorescent Footprints or Battle Aura.

Not to be confused with actual auras, which are visual or neurological aberrations that occur before the onset of a migraine.

For other information displays within a person's field of view, see HUD and Stat-O-Vision.


Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Pokémon, Riolu and Lucario can sense auras to read people's emotions and see when blindfolded.
    • And there's Ash's power, as shown in the Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew movie. Interestingly, it is called "the wave" in the original version. Some would say Rui from Pokémon Colosseum and Yellow from Pokémon Special manga have similar powers (despite appearing first).
    • Ash has been shown to still have the power twice or thrice. It's just that he doesn't train them and has no special equipment to channel them (he probably left Aaron's gloves behind after the movie) so they are rather underdeveloped and not really good for anything, except finding runaway Riolus.
    • Sir Aaron, the movie Lucario's master, can do this as well.
  • Yuuto in the manga Hands Off! has this ability.
  • In Hunter × Hunter, a person's aura is normally invisible to everyone save for Nen practitioners, who gain the ability to see it as part of their basic training. Nen practitioners in turn have developed techniques that mask their aura from their peers, as well as to bypass such countermeasures.
  • In Soul Eater several characters are able to do this by having an ability to see another person's soul (which is typically several times the size of their body if they have any level of power) called "Soul Perception". One of the protagonists, Maka, can even use it to track people.
    • True, but as others can do it (some of the kids, and common amongst the staff) it's not what makes Maka a special case. That would be the fact she can possibly use it to see through witches' Soul Protect. One other character had that ability, and he died because of it.
  • In Naruto:
    • The Hyuga clan's Byakugan is both X-Ray Vision and Aura Vision: it sees the chakra networks inside people.
    • The Uchiha clan's Sharingan grants a weaker version of this ability, allowing the viewer to see the general flow of chakra in an individual rather than the specific network.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has a curious example in Part 5. After the battle with Secco, it is revealed that Buccierati's body has deteriorated, deteriorating his sight and hearing. However, he had an ability to see the spirits of the people around him (For example, he was about to be run over by a car, but he could only see the car's driver). Diavolo exploits this by masking his spirit with that of his daughter, who joined with Buccierati.
  • Coco from Toriko, due to his special eyes which can see a greater variety of light spectrums than normal humans, has the ability to see the electromagnetic waves around living beings, which are artistically depicted as an aura. As a fortune teller uses this to foretell the future fate of that person by interpreting it's shape, volume, colour, etc.
  • In Dragon Ball Z: The main cast has the ability to sense ki. Many enemies, on the other hand, require Scouters to detect Power Levels.
  • In Umi Monogatari, Kanon has an "evil aura" that everyone can see and comment on. It tends to flare up when she's nervous.

    Comics 
  • Briefly, Superman had this power.
    • It, and all of Superman's vision powers, are given quite the spotlight in the Superman origin graphic novel Superman: Birthright. Whether another form of the many frequencies of light Clark can see or something else entirely, all living things emit an ethereal glow that tragically fades as soon as they dies. The aura is equally strong for all animals, and is mentioned as influencing Clark's decision to become a vegetarian.
  • The Marvel Comics The New Universe character Justice could read auras to determine if people were good or evil.
  • The graphic novel Walk In, where everyone has a different colored aura.
  • Linda Tavara from the Heroes graphic novels can also absorb people auras, killing them and giving her their power.
  • The Black Lanterns can apparently see where individuals fall on the emotional spectrum at any one time; in order to harvest a person, that individual must be driven entirely towards one emotion or another (given that we're talking super zombies here, it's more often than not fear).
  • Madman can do this as well, it seems. "Bad vibes" is a phrase he often uses.
  • In the French Comics Les Légendaires, one of the heroes uses it as a vision substitute after the Big Bad ripped her eyes.
  • Blackjak of Atari Force temporarily had this ability with the organic eye that the Tazlings had given him.

    Films — Live Action 
  • Ivy Walker from The Village. She's blind, but she can see some people's auras.
  • In The Matrix sequels, Neo can see Smith's aura when Smith hitches a ride into the real world. Neo retains this ability even after he becomes blind, allowing him to see the Machines.

    Literature 
  • Adam R. Brown's Astral Dawn features ethereal beings with many abilities. The high spirits can perceive a mortal's aura. Caspian can go even further and perceive a spirit's aura outside of a body. The Aash Ra can perceive auras at this level as well.
  • Wizard's Sight in The Dresden Files is this, but has the catch that the memory of it never fades. Wizards who overuse their Sight go insane as a result. Nonhumans can have an aura that can actually drive wizards insane - this is one reason to make and use creams that penetrate Glamours.
  • Others in the Night Watch books are able to see and read people's auras.
    • The Others' auras reflect their allegiance. The Light and the Dark ones have their auras' primary colors reflect this. Uninitiated Others have grey auras. Humans have fairly simple, smooth auras, almost like an eggshell. One of the first things the Other initiates are taught is reading and remembering auras. In Last Watch, Anton uses a computer database to search for auras. Since magic and technology don't exactly work together, he has to use a search function to filter the results based on key parameters (e.g. is there a sharp curve at the top?). To actually enter an aura into the database, the Night Watch employs a low-level Other who's a professional painter. It frequently takes up to 3 days to get a detailed image of an aura that can then be scanned into the computer. When the Watch equivalent of an APB is sent out, the patrolmen memorize the aura image and compare it with the passerbys.
  • From Good Omens, Anathema Device, occultist and professional descendant, is psychic enough to see auras. She unfortunately misses the Antichrist's, "for the same reason that people in Trafalgar Square can't see England."
  • In Thieves' World, Nikodemos once demonstrated that a Bandaran Adept can not merely see aura, but reliably track known individuals by traces of aura left on the environment through the city (i.e. mess of spurious signals). Then again, Niko "Stealth" is spec.op. guy in the elite company, so it's one of powers he needed to refine.
  • In the novel Golden by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Lissy not only sees auras, she has the ability to manipulate them. She can matchmake people, thwart a bad guy, and disentangle a siren from her prey if necessary.
  • Emily from Avalon: Web of Magic can see the "magical auras" of people with, well, magic.
  • Luna and Orlene from Incarnations of Immortality.
  • This is one of the powers of vampires in Mario Acevedo's Felix Gomez novels.
  • Dragonbait has this power in Azure Bonds instead of the paladin's traditional 'detect evil' ability.
  • One of the characters in Deep Secret is a new-agey woman who claims to be able to read auras and keeps button-holing people and telling them their aura is in a terrible state. After spending some time with her, the protagonist (who has real magical ability and training) determines that she really does have Aura Vision, but her own psyche is so messed up that she can't see through it when she tries to read other people.
  • The character Morning Star from the Noble Warriors Triology by William Nicholson is able to read peoples "colors", an aura that hangs around them that can tell her what they are feeling.
  • There's an equivalent for this in some of Timothy Zahn's Star Wars Expanded Universe books. Jedi can feel someone's presence or "sense", which is like a second face which changes to reflect emotions and mental states - if someone has a sudden idea or comes to a resolution, a Jedi will notice. It's an equivalent because it's not really visual - Luke talks about "listening" and feeling someone's sense, though he does mention a few times that it's dark.
  • Michael's ability to feel magic in things develops into this at the end of the first book in the Knight and Rogue Series. He treats this new, incredibly convenient power like the end of the world.
  • In Aunt Dimity: Detective, Finch's resident Wiccan Miranda Morrow says she reads auras; she says this ability showed her that Nicholas Fox, Lilian Bunting's nephew, was a police officer. In Aunt Dimity Goes West, local Colorado psychic Amanda Barrow says much the same and actually sees the ghost of Cyril Pennyfeather standing behind Lori in her shop.
  • Oakelves in The Edge Chronicles have this.
  • Characters with powers in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series have Aura Vision. As well as Aura Smelling.
  • Some players in a Dream Park game (Larry Niven) can request a visible status check hologram to be displayed around each character and NPC: "check auras".
  • The Tila in Robert Reed's Great Ship universe have extremely fine structures in their optical nerve which are so small that they are effected by quantum changes; the Tila perceive this as a faint aura or haze around objects, which they interpret as being glimpses into thousands and thousands of alternate planes of reality.
  • The basic ability of magic users in the Deverry series. (All magic comes from life-force, so if you can't see auras, you can't see magic.)
  • Shaylin from The House of Night has this ability.
  • Some magic-users in The Bone Season have this ability, which allows them to identify other magic-users and gives them an idea of what their powers are.
  • In The Legendsong Saga soulweavers gain this when they give up their regular sight during their final initiation.
  • Pact has an interesting variation-rather than auras, the Sight allows practitioners to see the connections that tie people together, which can be cut to create a Perception Filter, or manipulated as a form of Emotion Control.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Twilight Zone TOS episode "The Purple Testament" is about a soldier who can see the auras of men who are about to die. At the end of the episode he happens to glance at a mirror...
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Geordi La Forge can see an electronic aura around his friend Data, and it is suggested than he can see similar things around people.
  • Played for Laughs in Dave Chappelle's infamous Rick James sketch, when Charlie Murphy mentions that Rick James had a "kind of aura" around him. Cue shot of James surrounded by an orange glow.
  • Referenced in the first episode of Friends, when Ross tells Phoebe to "stop cleansing my aura". Whether Phoebe can see auras or not is never made clear, since it's never brought up again.
  • Tara in Buffy the Vampire Slayer sensed that Buffy wasn't really Buffy, after Faith did the body switch in Who Are You? because her aura was "fragmented," as if someone had forced something into it that didn't belong.
  • Bridge Carson in Power Rangers S.P.D.. With his gloves off, he can wave his hands and see auras, which of course correspond to their character. Once he described a suspect as "burnt umber."
  • Bo from Lost Girl found an invisible fae using this. Given that she is a Succubus, its probably Sex Aura Vision.
  • In Frasier, Daphne claims to be a bit psychic, and can see auras around people.
  • Auras in Charmed are seen only by demons who steal the sight of children. They then use their new-found Aura Vision to seek out people who do are supposed to do great good, and kill them before they do.
  • Leena in Warehouse 13 had this ability.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has a bit of everything, so it should not be surprising that The Complete Psionic's Handbook of AD&D 2 ed. has Aura Sight power working as a limited range life detector and allowing to appraise level and discern alignment and Aura Alteration, to make a fake aura disguising the same traits or remove curses and similar effects.
    • According to Azure Bonds, saurial holy warriors mostly resemble paladins but instead of Detect Evil they got much better "shen sight" that allows to discern not merely "all the myriad types of evil" or absence thereof, but subject's spirit strength as well as attitude and motivations up to which emotion or influence suppresses which. In a color coded form. The obviously downside of sensitivity is that a city gives too much noise: in Masquerades Dragonbait was overwhelmed by a crowd so that even detecting thugs seeking to murder him among the relaxing and drinking folk was hard.
    • Some Forgotten Realms spells have similar side effects: [Stavros's] Life Bolt makes from the caster's lifeforce a bolt harming The Undead and colored by Chaos-Law part of the caster's alignment; Rainbow Shield applies another spell to those attacking the caster in meleenote  and is colored by the caster's current emotions.
  • All magicians (and some "physical adepts", a.k.a. Superpowered Martial Artists) in Shadowrun get this for free.
  • A power common, in one way or another, to all supernatural beings in the Old World of Darkness. It comes with an extensive chart of colors relating to emotions. Supernatural auras have their own modifiers (a vampire's colors are pale, a werewolf's is frantic, a ghost's flickers like a dying candle...).
    • In Vampire: The Masquerade, a vampire can learn to do this. This can be used for various purposes, from reading emotions to identifying a vampire who has commited diablerie (stole another vampire's power by sucking out his soul — a vampire equivalent of cannibalism, considered the most heinous crime).
    • Again in the New World of Darkness almost every sort of supernatural character has some form of aura perception. Mage: The Awakening offers the most, since Mages can not only perceive someone's nature and emotional state but can also falsify auras or completely erase an aura.
  • The Detect power in GURPS can give any character this power, mages get a minor version for free with Magery.
  • Daemonic creatures (including the ones hiding inside people) see this way all the time. Because of this, they are never affected by low light situations.
  • Warhammer: This is how Cygors see the world, with spellcasters glowing particularly brightly. This often ends badly for the spellcaster, since the Cygors do so enjoy killing them.

    Video Games 
  • Pokémon: Lucario, at least in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Snake's box just wasn't enough...
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, at the cost of making him nearsighted, Link's senses can be honed so he can see spirits, insects of darkness, and digging spots when in wolf form.
    • It's just a visual representation of his keen sense of smell while in wolf form, though, not a true Aura Vision.
  • The title superpowered psychopath from the Half-Life 2 mod The Hidden has an "aura view" vision mode, letting him easily spot other players in the dark or even through obstacles and walls.
  • In the Alien vs. Predator FPS games, Xenomorphs have the passive ability to see life forms' auras: humans are surrounded by a blue glow, other Aliens with a red one, while Predators have a green aura. However, Synthetics have no such glow, which occasionally allows them to get the drop on what is otherwise an apex predator.
    • Although the manual suggest they are perceiving pheromones.
      • The Predator's vision modes are similar in that humans give off body heat while synthetics and xenomorphs have detectable electrical fields.
  • In Left 4 Dead, you can see outlines of your team-mates that tell you of their status.
    • In Versus mode, members of the Infected team can also see the survivors' auras, which clues about their health.
    • Realism mode in the sequel removes the aura visions for an added challenge.
  • Altair and, later, Desmond from Assassin's Creed I both have this ability. (referred to as Eagle Vision) You can use it to tell if people are hostile (red), friendly/ have important information (bright blue), neutral (white) or an assassination target (gold)
    • Expanded on in the sequel, where in addition to the above uses, it now highlights hiding spots, reveals secret glyphs, and plot relevant NPC's you need to tail leave a glowy trail.
    • Expanded further in Revelations, in which Ezio can see where important enemies have been making it easier to figure out where they are.
    • In the multiplayer, the Templars have something similar called Templar Vision.
  • A temporary ability in Battlefield Heroes allows players to see an aura outline of other players through walls and buildings.
  • The spell effect "Detect Life" in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has a similar function, allowing you to see enemies as a vague, pink cloudy form, even in darkness or through walls.
    • Although 'life' is fairly broadly defined, undead and non biological enemies like wisps are also detected.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has two spells (which are Colour-Coded for Your Convenience) and a shout with this effect. "Detect Life" does just that (With blue for allies and neutrals and red for others), "Detect Dead" will show undead as well as dead creatures (Blue for (un)dead non-enemies and sleeping undead, orange for dead enemies) and the shout "Aura Whisper" which allows you to see all creatures which are not dead but display friend and foe alike as red.
  • Rayne from BloodRayne can use this to assess health and if someone is aware of her presence.
    • It returns in Blood Rayne 2, sans awareness sense but with the added ability to see and access vampire gates, pinpoint objectives and indicate climbable surfaces.
  • Nick Scryer from Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy, allows him to see levels of awareness, the past, aura beasts and stealth mines.
  • Nanaya Kiri in the Tsukihime supplementary material had eyes that could detect the emotions and, apparently, humanity of people he was near. It's unknown how this really helped him apart from "this guy, Kishima Kouma, is immensely dangerous because his aura is bright red." Blue and silver were similarly inhuman but were noble and possessed by allies.
  • Prototype has Infected Vision, allowing you to see active/inactive infected, and water towers that are currently incubating hunters.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum; Batman has built-in lenses in his cowl that when activated give him an almost X-Ray like view of any nearby characters or surroundings. Enemies carrying guns are marked as entirely red. Anyone else, whether they be enemy or not; are marked as light blue. Objects that can be affected by one of Batman's tools are similarly highlighted.
  • In the second Knights of the Old Republic, your crewmate Visas Marr is a Miralukan, a Force-Sensitive species that due to the bizarre ambient lighting of their homeworld, evolved to see entirely by the Force and have only empty vestigial eye-sockets where a normal humanoid being's eyes would be.
    • If the Exile gets on good terms with Visas Marr, she will teach you this ability. During the trip to Telos at the end of the game, she will ask to the Exile to meditate with her whilst using Force-Sight, so they can see each other as they really are.
    • Your mentor Kreia likewise mentions that her own overuse of this ability is how she lost sight, although given her deceptive nature and her frequently telling of only half-truths, this might be taken with a grain of salt.
  • Halo 3: ODST uses this as an IFF system.
    • The Promethean vision in Halo 4 grants users to see through walls and identify enemies for a period of time before recharge, also explains how promethean knights found Master chief.
  • Pyan Pau from The Spirit Engine 2 claims to have this, though we must take his word for it. Mostly it tells him there's something wrong with Ionae, in case it wasn't already obvious.
  • In Beyond: Two Souls, Jodie's poltergeist-like companion spirit Aiden can see glowing, color-coded auras around people. Blue is the standard color, meaning that Aiden cannot directly affect the person in question. Red indicates that the person can be choked, orange indicates that they can be possessed, and green indicates a sickness or injury that can be healed. Purple is Jodie's color, and the color of the spiritual "umbilical cord" that connects the two. Additionally, memories connected to certain objects show up as glowing green wisps.
  • In The Matrix Path Of Neo an old Chinese herbalist is capable of aura feeling. He, at first, says that because Neo's aura feels stronger than a humans, he must be a demon, he's not...minutes later the herbalist meets an Agent and gets set straight on who the metaphorical demon is.

    Web Comics 
  • Dan Shive shows us how it's done in this installment of El Goonish Shive, where a "Bloodgrem" gets a good look at Elliot's power level.
    • Anyone powerful enough glows from the perspective of the reader, so this is nothing new for Shive.
    • The character Luke, introduced well after the 'Bloodgrem', has a spell that allows him to use this trope to sense magical power (it is made explicit that this is how Luke sees it, and not just for the readers' benefit).
    • Tedd can literally see magic if he concentrates hard enough. Unlike Luke, he can see the various subtle differences between spells and enchantments and make intuitive leaps on how it works. It even works on itself.
  • Magick Chicks: As an esper, the ability to sense and read auras is but one, among many, of Faith's talents. However, her psychic acuity isn't without its drawbacks and can act as a double-edged sword. Such as when she became the victim of a psychic assault from Hecate which caused her to have seizures and briefly blackout. When she regained consciousness, she'd been left physically weakened and temporarily without her powers.
  • Tina from Wapsi Square, who find reading emotions easier than figuring out expressions and body language.
  • Vanity Thorn from Sequential Art can apparently see Auras as well as ghosts.
  • Flayer in Mindflayed began to see aura traces when he developed his mental powers... well, some of them.
  • In Moon Crest 24, Lucy has this ability in the form of reading heat signatures, which enables her to see ghosts.
  • In Widdershins, Gren can smell magic. Also, O'Malley can see the spirits that make up magic and emotion as physical entities.
  • Too clarify that Baam from Tower of God has a subconscious sense for Shinsoo, he sees a white, milky aura around Anak. Because of this, he picks her for a bet he had going on with Lero-ro and says his choice was based on intuition.
  • Various updates of morphE have "Mage Sight", a button in the corner of the panel which will alter it to see the comic with the eyes of a mage. So far it has been used for Mind Sight to show a character being mentally manipulated, Life Sight to see living beings, Prime Sight to see the magical aura exuding from people and enchanted objects and Spirit Sight to see spirits which have latched on to people.

    Web Original 
  • Shroud of the Whateley Universe has this, among other powers. She can't see normal light, but she can see the emotions people have, along with being able to 'see' magic and some mutant powers.
  • Trayen from Phaeton gained this power between series, he uses it to see elemental forces, it can also be used for empthic forces but the elemental forces tend to engulf these before he sees them.
  • Chevalier of Worm can see the trigger events of other parahumans when he looks at them, and sometimes aspects of their powers as well.

    Western Animation 
  • Ty Lee from Avatar: The Last Airbender claims to have this ability, as she occasionally makes reference to the colors of other people's auras. While at the circus, she remarks that her aura has "never been pinker!" One season later, in "The Beach", she says that Mai's aura is a "pale, dingy, gray...." Considering Mai's personality, this is hardly surprising. No word on what color the other characters' auras are, though, since it never really came up outside of those two instances.
    • It's really ambiguous whether she really has this power. Mai doesn't believe her, and for what we saw, Ty Lee just makes obvious statement about the person's mood.
    • Plus, she's not exactly reliable.
  • In the first season of Winx Club Bloom discovers that when she's on Earth, she can see people's auras. This power was shown again in an episode of season two, but it seems that the writers forgot that she had this power in season four...
  • The dragons in Wakfu have this power. Grougaloragran used it to find a suitable adoptive parent for Yugo, and can also Detect Evil with it. Elaitropes can learn to do this too, and Yugo is taught by Adamaď while they travel by themselves.
    • Likewise for Nox's cube vision. Justified in that the cube is closely related to Eliatropes.
  • Shirley from Tiny Toon Adventures has this power, as seen in How I Spent My Vacation.
  • Dawn from Total Drama Revenege of the Island has this ability to read people's backstories.

    Real life 
  • There have been frequent claims that what Kirlian effect (aka Gas Discharge Visualization) allows to photograph are auras. Matter of jargon naming convention, of course.
  • Not auras, exactly, but many aquatic animals such as sharks, dolphins, and platypi are able to detect the electrical energy generated by the nervous system of living animals, effectively functioning as a "life-detector".
  • Some other animals, including cats, snakes, and mosquitoes, can see infrared light, which radiates off of living animals. It might as well be Aura Vision - to one of these animals, you will appear to glow. Mosquitoes can even use it to find good spots for biting.
  • Michael Crichton claimed he had this in his autobiography Travels.
  • Various psychics claim to possess this, and may also offer services to "improve" or "repair" your aura. Whether or not there is any truth whatsoever to these claims is a subject best not discussed here.


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