Used to great effect in American Beauty, where symbols are highlighted by improbably bright lights.
The Fountain is possibly the most chiaroscuro film ever made, in terms of brute force of imagery. All the swirly gold things and pitch black backgrounds were achieved with microphotography. Even the hospital is lit this way, with lots of dimly lit Moroccan screens, making it the most Awesome, but Impractical hospital one is likely to visit. And also very hard to see.
Blade Runner, in the tradition of Film Noir, helped pave the way for many of the more Grim Dark sci-fi films that followed it. Everything in future LA seems to be powered by / lit by natural gas flares and strobe lights.
One version of this was from near the end of Apocalypse Now, when a swinging lightbulb throws the main antagonist's face into (changing) light and shadow.
Frequently used by Stanley Kubrick, particularly in Barry Lyndon, in which special lenses facilitated candlelight filming. The use of light in that film becomes very notable to anyone with knowledge in lighting or photography. Most films use a ton of artificial light in scenes that are only supposed to be lit with a few candles, thanks to the technological limitations on cameras. However, Barry Lydon didn't use any artificial light, with the entire scenes sometimes being lit by a few candles. In order to achieve this, Kubrik had to use cameras intended for NASA during the Apollo moon landings.
The cellar scene from Signs. The lightbulb gets broken, so there's several tense seconds of pitch blackness, then they turn on two flashlights, which provide the only light for the remainder of the scene.
Halloween 78 is an excellent example of this trope's use in horror. The multiple shadows provide so many places for the killer to hide in, the viewer can't tell where he'll jump out from. Particularly notable is the white mask which seems to 'materialize' out of the shadows.
The Godfather films love this trope. To the extent that in many cases it's so dark parts of the film remains un-exposed. This was why it has been problematic to transfer to DVD, as it's very hard for digital media to handle pitch blacknote MPEG-2 handles completely flat black very well. Where it tends to fall apart is when there's a little noise in the black - which tends to happen with under-exposed film or video..
The Silence of the Lambs plays with this liberally, mostly in the introduction of Lecter, but rather frighteningly in the climax, where Starling is illuminated through nightvision goggles, shown desperately lost in the darkness.
I Am Legend has it when Neville enters a building after his dog.
Serenity used this in the scene on Haven when Shepard Book is advising Mal.
Inland Empire uses this to create an unsettling, dreamlike atmosphere.
Due to the low powered light sources and the pitch-blackness of the coffin, most, if not all of Buried is shot like this.
Peter Jackson pulled this off to a frightening degree of success during the scene that introduces Aragorn in his adaptation of The Fellowship Of The Ring.
The Harry Potter film series got this way progressively as the series continued, to the point that parts of Deathly Hallows part 2 were near impossible to watch at home with daylight streaming through your windows.
In Tangled, when Gothel closes all the windows and explains to Rapunzel it's too dangerous, the scene uses extensive chiaroscuro.
Firefly: the ship was actually fully constructed and lighting was accomplished by sources available on the set. Often, in order to get light where it was needed, the lighting artists put little sheets of metal down to bounce the light from a lamp onto the actor.
Dollhouse makes use of this as well. For example, Ballard's confrontation with Dewitt occurs in an office that used to be well lit. Heck, that entire show reflects its moral ambiguity in its dramatic lighting.
Whenever something appropriately dramatic happened in Star Trek (Original Flavor), they framed Kirk's eyes with a band of light, the rest of his face in shadow. It was strange.
How I Met Your Mother had one with the Captain. When Ted and the Captain get on the boat and they set sail, the Captain's face is divided by a shadow into a smile and an evil glare.
Space: 1999 (the first season) had this in spades. It was pulled off brilliantly and offset the white plastic sterile color scheme of Moonbase Alpha, fitting the somber, thought provoking atmosphere of the first season. Unfortunately, for season 2, this moody lighting style disappeared along with Kano, Victor, and Paul.
The final scene in the Top Gear Middle East special, where the three presenters (playing the role of the Three Wise Men) bring their gifts to the stable, is lit with candles in this fashion. James May lampshades this in the episode commentary, remarking the scene is lit "like an old master."
The West Wing had a whole lot of this going on, especially during the quiet, character-driven or philosophical, conversational scenes which usually happened at night, at the end of the workday, where the only available lighting would be small office desk lamps, in contrast to the usually well-lit, daytime, hectic, energetic, plot-driven WalkAndTalks.
Bones occasionally uses this, and the play of light and dark is sometimes played with metaphorically as it is scenically. The lab is brightly lit, but the subject matter is dark; the interrogation room is often lit so the suspect has a Face Framed In Shadow, but once they're revealed to not be the killer, their heads often turn towards the light so you can see their face. The room behind the one-way glass is dark, as though to represent their invisibility to the other side. Lit windows in the dark seem to be popular.
The X-Files would occasionally light the scenes in this way. Inevitable for a show featuring dark conspiracies and nasty monsters. A good example of the trope is a very squicky scene in "Leonard Betts". It is set in a storage locker where Betts uses his extreme regenerative power to create himself — he creates another Betts. Only his body is lit and some bright, scary light comes through a door into the locker, and the rest of the scene is very dark.
Dexter uses this trope quite a lot. It's most obvious in Dexter's kill rooms where he murders criminals. The show also uses the contrast of bright sunny days and dark nights in Miami.
Ultra Seven, to further set itself apart from Ultraman (the former being sci-fi-heavy, favoring aliens over kaijuu, positing moral dilemmas, showing more scary imagery, having music that wouldn't be out of place in a feature film), is shot tighter and in deep shadows, even inside the Ultra Garrison base.
Ultraman episodes would be shot in that style from time to time.
A medical drama Monday Mornings has Chiaroscuro nearly as default lighting, and this trope is employed to a great effect during their M&M meetings (it stands for Morbidity and Mortality, also referred to as "311") when they are called out on their screw-ups and they have to explain how they killed their patients and if the deaths could have been prevented. The only brightly lit scenes are when the doctors perform operations. It's visually stunning.
Doctor Who, specifically the Hartnell and Troughton eras which were all shot in black and white. This type of lighting frequently served to offset the look of the cheaply made sets and props. Interestingly, this was one of the original reasons that the film noir lighting style was developed in the first place.
Left 4 Dead uses this to provide atmosphere, light, and to tell players where to go, as humans tend to go towards the light because they can actually see what's there. According to the developer blog and commentaries, the maps in Left 4 Dead were changed to promote, rather than fight against, this natural inclination of ours (custom campaigns that don't follow this line of thought are considered notoriously hard to navigate through). For example, one of the maps that takes place in a city was originally designed to have most of the windows in buildings lit and bright, giving the impression that The Virus wiped everything out quickly. Changing the buildings to be without power made people move faster and more efficiently to the goal, which remained well-lit. Plus, it's frickin' scary.
Kingdom Hearts uses this throughout the Port Royal world, with the live-action characters cast in realistic, murky, brown-and-black night tones while Sora, Donald, and Goofy remain lit so brightly and colorfully that it's like they're in the middle of the afternoon. The end result is a very stark contrast between the grimmer characters from one world and the much, much perkier heroes from others. In general, the series has pretty heavy use of this. Pure white backgrounds with characters with dark auras (Terra especially), or pure black backgrounds with intense colors (the Dive Into The Heart screen where Sora chooses his keyblade) are incredibly common throughout the game.
Ōkami and its sequel Ōkamiden make use of this, which is natural considering the art style is based on Japanese ink paintings. Shadows are pitch black, completely opaque, and flow like ink.
Mass Effect 2 is considerably Darker and Edgier than its predecessor, and tends to cover character's faces and environments in darker shadows. Mass Effect 3 takes it even further, with the inside of the Normandy now looking like a hollywood submarine.
Alan Wake is built around this. Since the mysterious "Dark Presence" thrives in darkness and shadows, the majority of the game is spend fleeing between the sparse lighting, and even battle sequences require weakening monsters with flashlights.
As much of it takes place underground, Metro 2033 is prime for this. Most of the levels are dimly lit, and light is usually a sign of habitation... or danger. Especially bad in places where the mushrooms are the only source of light (aside from your headlamp), but they glow radioactive green, and indicate that you're going to suddenly die of radiation poisoning.
Zelda started using this for nighttime and cave areas in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and then expanded upon it for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the latter of which uses shadow as a recurring motif. Your only decent light sources are the occasional torches and lanterns held by either the Moblins or Link; rushing through cave areas without carefully inspecting the lit-up path can lead to a tumble down a pit.
Referenced in the Strong Bad Email '''Trogdor''' from Homestar Runner. Tasked to draw a dragon, Strong Sad, depressive nerd, draws a realistic picture and explains that he had used this technique.
Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog has this during the song, My Eyes. While watching from the street, Doctor Horrible sings about how soon "only darkness will remain." While he's doing this, a street light casts light on one side of his face, while the other is completely shadowed. When he mentions that "darkness is on the rise" he steps back, and out of the light, so that the only light striking him is a few feeble glimmers from a hobo fire.
Star Wars: Clone Wars: Anakin's knighting ceremony. A darkened chamber, with only the Jedi Council's lightsabers for illumination. Anakin and Asaji Ventress fight in a dark chamber at one point, with only the red and blue lightsabers lighting the room.
Samurai Jack: a fight between Jack and a Ninja, cast in lighting so harsh that everywhere is either very bright or pitch black. The Ninja is invisible when it's in the darkness. Jack pulls out his own ninja trick, becoming invisible in the light.
The French film Renaissance is nothing but black-on-white images.
In ThunderCats (2011), this is used in "The Duelist and the Drifter" while introducing the Duelist, and during the Drifter's Nameless Narrative. The figures are backlit, but their fronts (or their head and shoulders) are near-totally concealed in heavy shadow.