In works of fiction, heroes and villains alike will find every advantage to winning a battle, whether it's a personal Duel to the Death
or the ultimate Final Battle
. One of the simplest and most prevalent is based on a notion that if the enemy can't see you (or anything), they can't hit you: shining a super bright light source directly into the face of your enemies. This will work to varying degrees depending on the work, from completely blinding and incapacitating your foe to causing just a momentary inconvenience.
Depending on the work, the light source could be any number of things. For example, in Fantasy
works it's likely some sort of magic had a hand in it
, while in Science Fiction
it is more likely to find flashbang grenades or devices specifically designed for this sort of thing. The sun and its reflections are also widely used. A popular sword-fighting variant involves tilting a blade so it reflects the sun's light into your opponent's eyes.
If some characters have been in the dark for a while, this can occur with much weaker lights than normal, while leaving other characters unaffected, since Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes
An example of Truth in Television
, since the use of flashbang grenades is highly prevalent in modern police forces and armies have been using natural light in various ways to blind and hinder their enemies for centuriesnote
Compare: A Handful for an Eye
, Step into the Blinding Fight
, Tap on the Head
, Inescapable Net
, Stun Guns
, Instant Sedation
. Has nothing to do with the battle theme for Final Fantasy XIII
Not to be confused with the 1976 Bruce Springsteen/Manfred Mann's Earth Band's
song about feminine hygiene products
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Anime and Manga
- At the beginning of Saint Seiya's "Asgard Saga," the God Warrior Syd of Mizar Zeta makes a very effective point to Shun about "attacking in the direction of the Sun" by leaping above him and using the bright midday Sun to blind the Andromeda Saint.
- In Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, attacking from above and using the Sun's glare to hide his position from aircraft turrets is Prince Asbel's favored strafing tactic.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Homura's extensive arsenal includes flashbangs.
- Fullmetal Alchemist
- Ling Yao uses a flash grenade while fighting Wrath to blind his one working eye. Too bad about the other one though. This is later Wrath's undoing. While fighting Scar, Wrath is temporarily blinded by the sun emerging from the solar eclipse, long enough for Scar to rip his arms off.
- Fu also uses a flash grenade to temporarily stun Pride. He had been helpless in the dark until the villagers turned the lights back on, but with the extra light from the flash grenade he can't use his shadows either.
- One Piece
- Parodied during the Skypiea Arc. Zoro found himself in a swords vs. guns battle with Braham, who used pistols that were equipped with Flash Dials as to blind the opponent anytime he shot at them. Zoro realized he can combat this with his goggles, but unfortunately, The Goggles Do Nothing since they're not tinted at all.
- The Flash Dial comes back during Luffy's fight with Usopp, which he uses after making Luffy hesitate with a cough of fake blood.
- Sky Girls:
- During the first episode, Ace Pilot Eika got defeated by a new, Sonic Diver-piloting test pilot when her target transformed and attacked from the direction of the sun. Granted, she is using a conventional fighter jet at the time and her opponent is very nimble.
- In a true show of piloting ability, Eika used the exact same tactic combined with careful maneuvering against a Teen Genius who very nearly beat her through sheer talent later in the series.
- The characters on Dragon Ball Z sometimes use this, calling it "Solar Flare"note .
- In Dragonball, Krillin does this by accident when fighting Goku in a tournament and his bald head reflects light into Goku's eyes.
- Dragonball Abridged lampshades their tendency to simply use the ability to run away when Gohan asks Krillin why he doesn't use the opportunity to cut their opponent in half with his Destructo-Disc.
- Agito of the Lyrical Nanoha franchise has the Starengeheul ("Starling's Howl") spell, where she uses her fire magic to create a flashbang effect. She first uses it in Nanoha Strikers, warning Lutecia to close her eyes before she fires it off.
- In Fairy Tail, Lucy, Happy, and Loke fight Bickslow, who forces them to keep their eyes closed because he can control anyone who looks into his eyes. Loke gets an idea and flares up his Battle Aura, which is so bright that Bickslow screams and clutches his eyes in pain. Lucy then uses the opportunity to attack him.
- Samurai Champloo has Fuu using two fireworks to blind and confuse the guards at the execution grounds, allowing Mugen and Jin to escape.
- Some ninja in Naruto, like C of Hidden Cloud and Fuu of Hidden Waterfall, have abilities that function like this.
- Lupin III Island Of Assassins has Lupin using a flashbomb to escape Zenigata and his cops.
- In X-Wing: The Phantom Affair, a gang of pro-Imperial thugs attacks Rogue Squadron pilot Tycho Celchu. He beats most of them down by himself, but the last one gets the drop on him and is preparing to deliver the final (possibly fatal) blow, when he's slashed through the eyes by a phantom Jedi's lightsaber, causing instant blindness and much pained yelling. It turns out later that the "Jedi" is just a hologram, and given that holograms are actually just light (lasers, to be specific), this trope stands.
- One issue of The Punisher has him narrate how devastating a single flashbang grenade is to the senses. The next panel shows him dropping three at once through a skylight on some mobsters.
- Harley Quinn does this to Deadshot in Suicide Squad #7. Harley kills the lights, knowing that Deadshot will switch to infra-red. As soon as he does so, she sets off a magnesium flare.
- In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe comics, the Fourth Doctor once built a "fizgig," which projected "ultra-white light."
- The Ted Kord version of the Blue Beetle carries a strobe light weapon that temporarily blinds his victims. It was later modified to also emit a powerful compressed air blast that knocks over anybody it hits.
- A flash bomb is used in Serenity to blind the Operative and escape.
- Lord of the Rings: This happens to the Uruk-hai at the end of the Battle of Helms Deep when the sun rises behind the charging cavalry.
- Hook: The Lost Boys have one set of weapons that use mirrors to blind the pirates during the Final Battle.
- Frequently shows up in action movies against bad guys with Night Vision Goggles.
- Transformers: The Movie: Hot Rod shines his headlights into Galvatron's optics during their battle (in a dark room), and Galvatron's flinch gives Hot Rod a couple free shots at him.
- In Kick-Ass, Hit Girl uses a gun with a superbright flasher when she attacks in low light. It blinds the bad guys, but allows her to see everything.
- Enemy at the Gates has Vasili pinned down behind a piece of rubble by a German sniper. His Love Interest uses a mirror shard to reflect sunlight right into the German's scope, making him flinch just long enough for Vasili to take a snap-shot at him and get away.
- In Game of Death, the enemy played by Kareem Abdul Jabaar has light-sensitive eyes. Bruce Lee gains the advantage by breaking holes in the walls to let the light in.
- In A Kid in King Arthur's Court, Calvin opens his CD player and shines the laser into a bad guy's eyes.
- During the final duel in the first Lone Wolf and Cub film, Ogami faces off against his enemy in a seemingly fair fight. At the climatic moment, however, he bends down, revealing Daigoro on his back - wearing a plate on his forehead that reflects the sunlight straight into the foe's eyes.
- In Batman Begins, Henri Ducard shows Bruce Wayne how to use a pinch of gunpowder to achieve this effect.
- In the 1981 film Looker, a strobe light weapon doesn't blind its victims, but rather hypnotizes them which causes them to lose all sense of time.
- In Dark Wolf, two people manage to escape the werewolf by blinding it with camera flashes.
- In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "A Witch Shall Be Born", Salome uses light to blind Tamaris's rescuers.
- In the first book of The Legend of Drizzt, Drizzt floods the room with light to escape from his family (who are now trying to kill him). Being creatures who live their whole lives in the dark underground, the light is not only blinding, but painful as well.
- The Black Magician Trilogy: Sonea pulls this off when being harassed by other apprentices at night. She doesn't want to fight back, because she's much more powerful and could hurt or kill them. Instead, she turns off her magical light for a few moments, so their eyes adjust to the darkness, then turns the light Up to Eleven. Her assailants end up temporarily blinded.
- Tom Clancy uses this in a number of his Jack Ryan books. In addition to the standard flashbangs, Debt of Honor features a high-intensity blinding light weapon, stated to be a nonlethal weapon. It is indeed nonlethal, if horribly effective, when used on a mook. Then it's used on the pilots of enemy aircraft as they're attempting to land their planes.
- Subverted in James Follett's The Tiptoe Boys (later filmed as Who Dares Wins). The SAS soldiers rescuing their comrade's family can't use flashbangs because it will cause permanent neurological damage to the hero's infant daughter. They settle for making a "fucking great hole" in the wall so that each terrorist can be engaged by one commando. In the book, they take bricks out and leave only the wallpaper; in the film, they use detcord to cut their way through. It works.
- In Devon Monk's Allie Beckstrom book Magic to the Bone, Allie uses this on a would-be kidnapper: a two-second flash, too simple and chidish to be expected.
- In John Gardner's James Bond novels, one of the modifications fitted to Bond's car is a high-intensity halogen flashbulb replacing the bulb that illuminates the number plate. This is used to blind pursuers.
- The vampires in the web-novel Domina have eyes that can see perfectly in the dark, but are blinded by light. Vampires can operate during the day even without the big bulky goggles they normally wear, but they get headaches and they can't really see. Sudden flashes of bright light (such as an angel's daybreak) can actually knock them unconscious.
- Inverted, actually, with the angels. They can see perfectly in bright light, to the point that they tend to stare directly at the sun when bored. However, they have basically zero ability to see in the dark, so they have to carry around nightvision goggles to even see in the shadows on a sunny day. Of course, they have the ability to emit bright light, so it's not really a big deal as long as they don't have to worry about blinding anyone.
- Heleth in the ColSec Trilogy has superhuman night vision, but is highly light-sensitive. In the third book, a particularly bright light not only temporarily blinds her, but actually causes her to faint from pain.
- Averted in The Dresden Files. While it's the first instinct of most wizards to call up light in the dark, not only does it not blind badass enemies, but it lights the wizard up as a target.
- A Song of Ice and Fire. During a Trial by Combat, Ser Gregor Clegane stands with his back to the sun to blind his opponent, the Dornish prince Oberyn Martell. Martell turns this against him by using a metal disc on his helmet to reflect the sun back into Gregor's vision slit.
Live Action TV
- Highlander: The Series had a rogue Watcher who killed other immortals in complete darkness with night vision glasses. Duncan got the edge on him by blinding him with light from a match or lighter or something similar.
- In Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Crixus reflects sunlight with his helmet into Theokoles' eyes, allowing Spartacus to get close enough to kill him. As Theokoles was an albino, his eyes were especially sensitive to light.
- In an episode of Sherlock, John is trapped in a lab room. A hugely bright light is shined in his eyes for about half a minute, with his attempts to get away from it useless, and then, when the lights go almost completely dark, the afterimage of the light prevents him from seeing anything. Which is a problem when the demon hound is apparently in the room with him, about to attack.
- Done at least twice by Team Westen on Burn Notice, the first time with a homemade flashbang, and the second time with a car's hi-beams.
- In "Live Fast and Prosper" on Star Trek: Voyager, the Voyager crew comes up against a group of con artists who have been impersonating Janeway, Chakotay and Tuvok. Tuvok eventually comes face-to-face to with the man who is impersonating him and the con remains in-character, commenting that "Logic would indictate that neither of us has the advantage." Tuvok comments "Your logic is flawed," shines a flashlight in his eyes, then stuns him with a phaser.
- In the Doctor Who serial The Daleks, the Thals baffle the Daleks' cameras with handheld mirrors.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- The game features a variety of spells that use light to blind and/or incapacitate an enemy.
- Certain races, particularly subterranean ones such as drow, have a light blindness trait that penalizes them for being outside in daylight.
- Defied by the sunmaster, a Prestige Class from the 3.5E supplement ''Lost Empires of Faerűn. The class feature for 2nd level grants immunity to blindness or dazing due to light effects, in addition to a few other powers.
- Mutants & Masterminds sports the Dazzle power which can do this for any sense.
- In Magic: The Gathering, this is often used by users of White Magic, specially these two.
- Shadowrun: Anyone looking at a flash-pak grenade when it's active gets an eyeful of bright, randomly strobing light for a few seconds.
- Some mechs in Mech Warrior Living Legends mount large spotlights on their shoulders, which can be used to blind players using the nightvision overlay when it's dark.
- Alan Wake: The game's combat system is based entirely around using light (from flashlights, flares, flashbang grenades, etc.) to damage or render vulnerable the various enemies. Also, some NPCs react to the player shining a light in their face by shielding their eyes.
- Call of Duty: Most iterations of the series features grenades that can blind your enemies (or yourself if carelessly used).
- Heroes of Might and Magic: Most iterations of the series have a spell called "Blind" that effectively works this way.
- Luigi's Mansion: Luigi must use his flashlight to shock ghosts so that he may inhale them into his vacuum.
- Neverwinter Nights: Well, it is based on Dungeons & Dragons, after all...
- World of Warcraft: PCs and bosses have abilities that can use light to completely incapacitate or at least hinder accuracy. A recurring element with bosses is the need to turn characters so they're facing away from the boss to avoid being blinded by the flash.
- God of War:
- Aside from using it as a makeshift flashlight, Kratos can put Helios's severed head to great use by blinding enemies with it. In fact, employing this strategy is how you're supposed to defeat Kronos the Titan.
- Perseus uses his reflective shield to blind Kratos several times in his boss battle.
- In Mass Effect 2, flashbang stun grenades are Kasumi's special power, unlocked once her loyalty mission is completed. With advanced training, Shepard can use these grenades as well. Donovan Hock's mercenary guards and the Shadow Broker's troops also make regular use of flashbangs. As a successful flashbang can not only stun you but also knock you out of cover, these minions can easily enter Demonic Spider territory.
- This is the basis behind the Pokémon move Flash, which can be used in battle to drop the opponent's accuracy one stage. Of course, that doesn't mean it is used very often, what with several other moves being able to do this with more success, and the relatively low benefit reducing accuracy has in the game.
- In Final Fantasy VI, Edgar Figaro can wield the Tool "Flash," a camera with a flashbulb as big as he is. It deals unblockable, defense-ignoring non-elemental damage and inflicts the Blind status effect on enemies.
- Armored Core 4 and 4 Answer gives you the 09-FLICKER Flash Rockets. These literally are flashbang in rocket form and having it set off anywhere near you means that you lose lock-on capability for some time. Very bad against close-range combatants like Anjou/Ange, and especially Shinkai. Getting hit by an Assault Armor in 4A will also produce this effect.
- Happens briefly early in Fallout 3, when your character leaves his underground vault for the first time.
- Subverted if you nuke Megaton; the player and other characters observing the explosion, since they didn't have eye protection, should have been permanently blinded, or worse, had their eyes melted out of their sockets.
- It only happens once in Fallout: New Vegas, when you first properly activate the Helios One facility, you get blinded for just one second.
- Wizardry: The Blinding Flash spell in the final trilogy. Simple and very effective throughout the early through middle parts of the games.
- Flashbang grenades are, appropriately enough, a common tool in your arsenal in SWAT 3 and SWAT 4. Just make sure you're out of the doorway when you use one and that your NPC teammates don't, y'know, just drop it at their fee—GAH! YOU FOOL!
- Battlefield 3' features the tactical flashlight and laser sight. The latter is a red laser that is primarily used to boost the effectiveness of hip fire, but also causes an annoying red spotlight to cover the target's vision if it is aimed at them. The former, on the other hand, is purely used for blinding foes. By blinding foes, I mean melting the eyes of the person controlling the target to a molten liquid and setting their hair alight.
- In The Darkness, Jackie can't effectively use his powers in well-lit areas. A Dangerously Genre Savvy Dirty Cop figures out Jackie is vulnerable to bright lights and uses a combination of flashbang grenades and floodlights to incapacitate him.
- Used against you quite a bit in The Darkness 2. You'll often have one of these thrown in to strip you of all your powers and then a follow up barrage of bullets just to ruin your day.
- A staple of James Bond games, most notably Nightfire and Everything or Nothing. Nightfire's flashbangs were a double-edged sword: if you didn't turn around, the screen would flood with white and obscure enemy fire.
- In the arcade game Roc 'n' Rope, the Climber's head-lamp worked like a camera flash.
- In Metro 2033, this is a gameplay mechanic essential to beat the Plated Nosalises. Since they dwell on the least-lit parts of the Metro, shining the beam of your flashlight on them blinds them and makes them stand still long enough for you to get a few shots off. And you will need those few seconds of advantage.
- Flashbombs are a useful tool in Thief, where they can temporarily blind an enemy who has noticed you, enabling you to make a getaway. Repeated use of flashbombs can also kill undead.
- AdventureQuest uses a variety of different uses of this trope for inflicting Blind. The late-game Ultraviolent Light spell takes this Up to Eleven, however. It's not ONLY a large, magical ball of light that works like a flashbomb— it absorbs ALL the light in the area (blacking out the rest of the screen), and THEN explodes violently (covering the entire screen in light). It's little wonder that it's both rather lethal and has the tendency to blind most foes for a very long period of time (unlike most Blind effects in the game, which operate on a turn-based timer, UL's status works until the victim pulls off a successful save roll) It's also an inversion, too, as the darkness-based hit can inflict Blind even if the explosion itself misses (the save roll is weaker than a normal save roll if only one attack hits, but if both connect the save roll is tougher than usual).
- Dungeons & Dragons Online has the Flash Bang by name, a dazing and blinding grenade that allows a form of non-smoke Smoke Out for Ninja Spies.
- Bob and George: Someone tries to use this against Bob. Alas for him, Bob is wearing sunglasses.
- The Beast Legion : Brilight uses this particular trick twice in Issue 4 against Dragos  , 
- In Far from Home, pirates use high-intensity flares in missiles so as to take the heroes alive.
- Used in Trollz when ogres are sensitive to light. Good thing Sapphire's spell misfired earlier and made her feet glow.
- In The Smurfs episode "Now You Smurf 'Em, Now You Don't", Papa Smurf used light shone through a magnifying lens into a magic crystal ball to blind the trolls digging tunnels underneath the Smurf Village to capture the Smurfs.
- There was a biblical battle that took place and overall the terrain was consistent no matter which direction you would attack from. So the attacker came around dawn from the east so the sun would be at his men's back and in the eyes of the enemy. This is actually a very valid tactic: if you can use it do so.
- World War One / World War II: Attacking out of the sun was a popular tactic for both fighters and dive-bombers.
- During the age while armies still utilized campfires at night, it was not uncommon for those to be used as a means of deception. Merely looking at a light source at night temporarily ruins the eye's low light adjustments, meaning that while looking at such a campfire (or for that matter any other light source at night), it was impossible to actually see the people (if any) that existed around it; only the light source would be visible. Armies got pretty creative with this back in the day, from setting up false camps (the enemy won't know there's no one by the fire until its too late), to lighting a minimal number of fires to hide their number (sometimes going as far as just one big fire; good luck guessing how many people are sharing it), to ordering the camp to make several times its number in flames. A cunning general may even combine the various methods, essentially rendering the enemy's attempts to scout his position at night futile or downright counterproductive. Even in warfare, there are uses for fire other than killing.
- One of the armored vehicles used in the Normandy landings in World War II was essentially an outdated tank with the gun replaced with a very high intensity lamp, entirely encased in the turret save for a narrow vertical slit. The turret would pan back and forth, perodically painting the German defenses with blinding light to make it impossible for them to see the troops on the beaches. They also had various filters they could put onto the light while in action, so as to make it harder to determine how far away the vehicle was if you wanted to put its lights out.
- In World War II, the British "hid" the Suez Canal with an array of spotlights and shifting reflectors intended to dazzle the eyes of bomber pilots. When they tested it by having two British planes fly into the area, they found the effect disoriented the pilots so much that both planes nearly crashed — just from flashing lights. Best part? This was just one stunt thought up by Jasper Maskelyne,War Magician.
Eventually, a chain of twenty-one searchlights covered the Suez Canal for its entire length. When illuminated, they created a curtain of swirling light over more than a hundred miles of Egyptian sky. In the following months enemy aircraft made a number of attempts to penetrate the curtain, and failed, and the canal remained open to Allied shipping throughout the war.
- The LED Incapacitator, a rather recent non-lethal weapon which works by creating a bright pulsing light with continously changing colours to dazzle and disorient an opponent when violence is not permitted. Again a very valid self defense tactic, very bright hand held torches might be expensive but stun\flash grenades operate on the same principle, making them worth every penny.
- A more mundane example: pilots who fly at night have to avoid any bright lights for upwards of 20 or 30 minutes before a flight in order to maintain their night vision. Their cockpit lights are run at the lowest setting that lets them see their instruments, because any bright light will force them to start all over again trying to readjust to the darkness of night. As a result, airports will often actually be much more dimly lit than some folks might expect, as the last thing they want to do is to blind a pilot who is trying to take off or land.
- Similar to the above, go out some night to visit a group of stargazers out doing their thing, and you will quickly learn that they do not like it when folks use any bright or white light near where they are stargazing. Stars are bright, but they are not that bright compared to closer light sources on Earth. The use of red-filtered light is common as it does not have the same negative effect on human night vision.note
- Several people have gotten arrested for shining their bright green laser pointers into the nighttime sky and dazzling or temporarily blinding pilots overhead. Particularly if the plane is taking off or landing.
- Said laser pointers can even cause permanent retinal damage.
- The Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons, Protocol IV of the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, was issued by the United Nations on 13 October 1995. It came into force on 30 July 1998. This bans weapons that cause permanent blindness. Blinding as an incidental or collateral effect of the legitimate military employment of laser systems, including laser systems used against optical equipment, is not covered by the prohibition of this Protocol. It also defines blindness as an irreversible and uncorrectable loss of vision which is seriously disabling with no prospect of recovery. Serious disability is equivalent to visual acuity of less than 20/200 Snellen measured using both eyes. So "minor" permanent damage is not covered. Temporary damage is also not covered.
- It is becoming increasingly common to use guns with a bright flashlight (usually above 150 lumens). Their utility is twofold - they help with target identification in low light, and when you turn the light on in somebody's face at close range, there's basically no way they're shooting back.