Kennedy: Okay. Okay, this is what we're going to do, okay? We're going to go inside the cabin, we're going to lock ourselves in there, and we will leave first thing in the morning.Evil Is Not Well Lit. We all know this. It's human nature to believe that Darkness Equals Death. Therefore, it's been a commonly held trope for centuries that scary things have to happen in the dark. This is why there are so many horror movies where The Lost Woods never see daylight, or why whoever owns the Haunted House never pays the electricity bill. Conversely, well lit, sunny areas with 100% visibility must be safe. We know that no monsters will harm us once the sun comes up. Hey, the Things That Go Bump only do it at night after all. If spooky things always lurk in the darkness, then Light Is Good. Right? Wrong. The reasons for this may vary...
Chet: What? No, he's not a fucking vampire, Kennedy. He can still kill us in the daytime.
Chet: What? No, he's not a fucking vampire, Kennedy. He can still kill us in the daytime.
— Death Do Us Part (2014)
- Most often, the writers want to play on the false sense of security we feel about light and turn it on its head.
- Sometimes, the budget does not allow for any night shots and the filmmakers don't want to use Hollywood Darkness.
- The sunlight illuminates the ugliness and gore in shocking detail and clarity.
- The sunlight adds a sense of realism often found in documentaries, where mankind's brutality doesn't wait for dusk, as often seen on the news.
- It's the perfect environment for They Look Just Like Everyone Else.
- Contrast. The jarring emotional roller coaster ride between the dark and the light.
- The daylight is dampened by normal clouds, creating a depressing atmosphere.
- It's sunlight, but the sunlight is dampened for another reason, and the reason is horrifying.
- The sunlight is used to diffuse the horror in a non-horror story, especially stories aimed at children, often failing for the above-listed reasons.
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Anime And Manga
- In Highschool of the Dead one of "them" attacks the school in the morning. In fact, quite a bit of the series takes place during the day. Like other zombie shows, it's the sheer amount of the creatures that makes them scary, since you may be able to fight some of them off, but you can't hold them off forever, as the characters find out repeatedly and constantly have to retreat to new areas.
- In Princess Mononoke both the demon attack in the opening scene, and the final showdown take place in daylight. Though the really freaky stuff starts at sunset, it doesn't end until the sun rises above the mountains, at which point it had been daylight for quite some time.
- Serial Experiments Lain is known for the highly contrasting light and shadows in its animation style, creating eerily bright days. There are a number of Mind Screw scenes that happen in these settings. They can be found here.
- Uzumaki almost entirely takes place during the day. There are only a very few scenes that take place at night. Daylight doesn't help the protagonists anyway, since there are no ways out of the valley.
- Toward the end of From the New World, many terrible things go on during the day, particularly the first appearance of the fiend/ogre/akki a.k.a. Maria and Mamoru's child.
- Justified in Attack on Titan with the Titans, which appear to harness most of their energy from solar radiation. So it is on clear, sunny days that we are able to see hordes of Titans devour humans alive. This makes the attack on Castle Utgard at night all the more shocking. Titans are pretty damn scary no matter what time of the day they happen to be eating you.
- Blood-C has nocturnal monsters called elder bairns that feed on humans after dark. This makes it easy for the protagonist to compartmentalize, playing the part of Ordinary High-School Student by day, and slaying monsters by night. In episode 6, the creatures surprise everyone by attacking in the middle of the day, when Saya's friends are around.
- Final Fantasy The Spirits Within, the phantoms began rising from the shore and started killing unsuspecting people playing about in the beach one afternoon. They are invisible - nothing like being attacked by a monster you can't see in daylight.
- Yuugen Kaisha: Near the end of Incident File 03, Mr. Nagasuki finally gets Natsuki alone on the highway, and heads for a private destination to have his way with her. But her boyfriend's ghost wasn't about to let that happen. As soon as Nagasuki starts feeling her up, Narita appears in the middle of the highway, causing Nagasuki to swerve off the road and slam into the guardrail. The impact renders Natsuki unconscious, so Narita deposits her safely along the side of the road. Then turned his full fury on Nagasuki by making him envision being stranded in the middle of the desert, with the undead rising from the sands to claim him. It scared him so shitless, that he had a full-blown panic attack 'til he finally foamed at the mouth and fainted.
- In Neil Gaiman's fantasy/horror series Sandman, many scenes take place in Hell. These scenes show horrific demons torturing souls in violent ways. The scenes are colored to look like it is perpetually dusk.
- Lampshaded in an issue of The Walking Dead. Rick, the main character, complains that it's getting cloudy. His friend welcomes the darkness since it had previously been very sunny and the sunlight was "too much of a contradiction."
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- The Ring: Many of the scarier scenes in the original films happen during the daytime. In the US remake, only a few scenes were set at night (though the daylight scenes were still extremely cloudy).
- The Mist, though it's so foggy it's hard to tell, a thick, soupy fog that also hides various monsters.
- David Lynch is a master of this...
- Blue Velvet - The severed ear catalyst.
- Inland Empire - The first rehearsal with Laura Dern and Justin Theroux, with Justin chasing an unseen spy. Later, the scene with Laura yelling at Justin through the window.
- Any of the crazy visitors, such as Grace Zabriskie or Mary Steenburgen, or the circus people.
- Lost Highway - Many scenes in the first half maintain an incredibly menacing feel in broad daylight, especially when a couple receives several videotapes from a stalker.
- Mulholland Dr. - The infamous "Man behind Winkies" scene.
- Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me - Any daytime scene featuring Laura's father.
- Wild at Heart - Lula lets Bobby Peru use her toilet.
- Any of the Troubled Backstory Flashback.
- The Lord of the Rings:
- In The Fellowship of the Ring, the Ring Wraiths chase Arwen and Frodo across an open field on a very clear and sunny day. The climactic Uruk-hai attack also takes place in daylight.
- In The Two Towers, there's the scene where Frodo falls into the Dead Marshes. True, the water itself was fairly dark, but the whole scene took place during the day.
- In Return of the King, the soldiers' decapitated heads arecatapulted over the walls of Minas Tirith in broad daylight...
- John Carpenter:
- Prince of Darkness happens over the span of a single day in a church with obviously working electricity. It was inspired by Nigel Kneale's The Stone Tape, which features key scenes set in small (admittedly dark) room filled with scientists, scientific equipment and haunted by a non-physically-threatening supernatural entity. And it's still terrifying.
- The Thing (1982), while still using night time for some of its scares, manages to have a few intense moments in the light of day. Then again, they're in the stormy Antarctic, so it's mostly an overcast daylight. Most of the later parts of the film take place at night (though justified by the way Antarctic winters work), the scenes that actually take place outdoors in darkness (well, partial darkness, the camp has outdoor lights) tend to be some of the less eerie moments, with most of the creepiest scenes being indoors with electric lighting. The one exception might be the scene where the guys encounter the Bennings-Thing, and they'd lit a few flares that lit things up real good.
- One of Carpenter's most effective uses of the trope, and one of the most famous, are the scenes in his film Halloween (1978) when "the shape" is stalking Laurie Strode and her friends through the quiet streets of Haddonfield during the middle of the day. The idyllic, sunny small town environment is rendered uncanny and frightening by the mixture of creepy music and the fact that the audience is aware of a malevolent presence that the onscreen characters cannot seem to sense.
- Obvious examples include Day of the Dead (1985) and its remake. The same goes for Dawn of the Dead (1978). Despite its name, the very first zombie attack in Night of the Living Dead (1968) also occurs in daylight.
- 28 Days Later as well as 28 Weeks Later have the infected attack during the day. The opening of 28 Weeks Later was in broad daylight, over some nice green fields, with a horde of zombies. It seems as if the light was modified to be pale and whiter than normal. It adds to the horror; even the sunlight seems lifeless.
- Though all of the scary events in Psycho take place at night, the four scariest scenes in the film - the shower scene, Arbogast's death, the reveal of Norman Bates as the killer, and the final scene where Norman has an extremely creepy interior monologue - all occur not just in well-lit rooms, but rooms with lights that are actually intense and glaring in the case of the shower and reveal scenes.
- Near the end of Paranormal Activity, the demon begins acting in broad daylight, whereas it has only ever been active in the dead of night prior to that point. It's used to help drive home just how bad the situation has become.
- David Cronenberg did this quite a bit in his early days with movies such as Shivers and Rabid which depicted horrific scenes in well-lit buildings or even daytime. For instance, the subway is pretty bright.
- Just to show that when this trope is used, as this Godmonster of Indian Flats trailer demonstrates, it doesn't always work. WARNING: Serious Narm.
- The whole of And Soon the Darkness takes place in a sunny afternoon.
- Many of the scary scenes in Jaws happen during the day, including the climax.
- The final sequence in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) movie invoked this trope, going so far as to give the audience a false sense of security before pulling the rug.
- The Ken Russell film The Lair of the White Worm was, at the time, a rare movie for showing vampires stalking victims during the daytime. The movie was based on a novel by Bram Stoker. See also: Literature.
- Predator was mostly set during the course of a single day, yet the monster was still hidden due to invisibility, making those scenes more intense.
- The opening scene of Sinister involves a family murdered in broad daylight.
- Stanley Kubrick's version of The Shining rarely shows darkness. It has many scenes in the day, the hotel always has all of its lights on, and there is a white blanket of snow on the ground outside that makes everything... well, shiny.
- Most of the bird-attacks in The Birds occur during one bright day.
- A number of scenes in The Exorcist have been remarked upon for taking place in daylight, notably The One with... Reagan's spinning head.
- The final scene of The Evil Dead (1981) (and subsequently, one of the first scenes of the second movie) shows that the awful night has finally ended: Ash is alive, the deadites are gone, and all is well... then we're hit with Shaky P.O.V. Cam.
- The cropduster attack in the cornfield from North By Northwest.
- The Hills Have Eyes: Being the sadistic bastards that they are, the mutants preferred to take down most of their victims in broad daylight rather than at night when they're most vulnerable.
- Ju-on and The Grudge (and numerous sequels): It doesn't matter if you're in your apartment with the lights on, in a bus, at school, in America thousands of miles away from Japan, or driving a taxi down the road in a Santa outfit delivering a cake to a certain cursed household, the grudge will get you no matter where you are...
- While more of Ju-Rei takes place at night than in the day, some of its later "chapters" are set entirely in daylight.
- The Crocodile Hunter movie mentions on DVD commentary that they had a scene of Steve handling a deadly snake at night but didn't put in the movie because a similar scene during the day looked more dangerous.
- The Host invokes this trope perfectly when the monster first attacks. The director purposefully wanted an attack during a nice day in order to make the scene surreal and frightening. People are hanging out by Han River one minute, and getting eaten the next.
- In Serenity, Miranda is one of the most brightly lit planets we see in the 'Verse, but it's still where our Big Damn Heroes discover how the Pax killed almost everyone on the planet and created the Reavers. And it's terrifying.
- Many of the scenes of horror in The Devils Rejects take place during the day. One victim even dies the next morning, outside in broad daylight, after the killers have vacated the premises.
- The first Candyman movie had many scenes set during the day. This includes when Candy Man himself first appears in a brightly-lit garage and many of the kills/gory scenes.
- The "birthday party video" scene from Signs. It's arguably scarier than any of the scenes that take place at night.
- Obviously this doesn't work in the absurdly bad The House That Screamed, since the reviewer at Something Awful repeatedly keeps pointing out that "nothing is fucking scary in broad daylight".
- Tremors takes place almost entirely during the day. A few scenes did have one of the creatures trap the protagonist trio overnight on top a cluster of boulders (which also protects them as they can't tunnel through rock). The point is that like moles, the eponymous worms, do not need light to navigate their surroundings and will attack regardless if it's day or night. There's a single nighttime death scene, but it's really less terrifying than the daytime graboid scenes because, at night, it's pretty conventional horror movie stuff.
- The 80's slasher flick Pieces starts off with a flashback of the killer chopping his mother up with an axe. The movie skips ahead forty years later and the first kill is a college student getting chopped up by a chainsaw in the middle of the quad on a day that's so sunny, the glare from the sun hides the killer's face.
- Death Proof constantly skirts the line between being an incredibly violent car chase movie and being an inordinately action-heavy slasher movie. Either way, the bulk of the movie is set in the scorching desert, in broad daylight.
- The Creeper's first on-screen kill in Jeepers Creepers 2 is in broad daylight. And it's absolutely terrifying.
- Most of the scenes in The Wicker Man take place in broad daylight, including the terrifying climax. This lets the audience take in the beautiful Celtic landscape, but also helps sink in the deranged surreality of Summer Isle. The things the villagers do in full view of one another wouldn't be nearly as off-putting if it happened at night.
- One of the murder scenes in Zodiac takes place on a bright and sunny day.
- This gets mentioned in Courage Under Fire, when a soldier recalls being Trapped Behind Enemy Lines in the first Gulf War, and waiting all through the night, knowing that the Iraqis were going to overwhelm them come dawn. As he puts it to another soldier interviewing him years afterward, "I don't know why people think only good things happen in the daytime".
- The frightening and unexpected closing scenes of Carrie (1976) occur during the day.
- Insidious had the scene where the demon pops up in plain sight behind the woman's shoulder at the coffee table in the middle of the day which gave audiences a good startle just because it was so unexpected. Combining this trope with Soundtrack Dissonance, the entire "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" sequence comes out of nowhere on a well-lit afternoon.
- Resident Evil: Extinction is set almost entirely during the day.
- Friday the 13th (2009) had the typical "people take off their clothes and go out to the lake, only to be killed by Jason" scene. This time, however, it happened during the day. The final scares of both the original installment and the third movie both take place during the daytime as well.
- The final scenes of Session 9 are not only bathed in sunlight, but birdsong too.
- While there are clues that the events start prior to that point, Shaun of the Dead shows the proper zombie apocalypse kicking off in the morning as Shaun wakes up with a hangover. In his half-asleep daze, he fails to notice the corpses everywhere and the zombies hunting the living as he goes to the store and returns to his apartment. Most of the action following this happens in broad daylight.
- The majority of The Breed takes place during the daytime. Super-aggressive killer dogs probably don't care much whether it's night or day.
- In I Know What You Did Last Summer, Julie finds Max's corpse in the trunk of her car in the middle of the day while parked in a sunny suburb. The final scene, in which the killer attacks Julie in the shower just as the movie ends, also seems to take place during the day.
- Cujo - A mother and son are trapped in a broken-down car. They can't leave the car because of a rabid dog that stalks the car for days. One of the main elements being that the car is blistering hot because of the brilliant summer sun. The night time is when the mother and son can get some relief from the sweltering heat.
- Arlington Road - Most of the movie is filled with lots of daylight paranoia and moments of bloated anticipation and creepiness as terrorists operate in broad daylight, undercover as you and me, but especially the tense interaction between Cheryl and Brooke at the payphone.
- U-Turn - Bobby barely escapes from the town, only to fry in the desert heat.
- A good portion of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974 takes place during the daylight hours, probably due to budget reasons, but also helps employ the use of surprise (including Leatherface's first appearance which shocked a lot of people back in 1974), as well as the gruesome detail of some of the macabre set pieces (like when Pam stumbles into the room full of body parts). Later, the camera lovingly lingers on Leatherface's mask as he looks out the window into the sunlight. After a lengthy night portion, the movie has the Final Girl burst through the painted glass of the window to find that it's actually daylight outside, and that the killers are going to continue mutilating her as she runs into a public area where others gawk in horror at the mayhem.
- Poltergeist - The sequel's introduction to Reverend Kane. Even in the first movie, although the very worst stuff happens at night, eventually the poltergiests start playing havoc during the day — moving furniture around, causing the contents of a child's bedroom to float through the air to form a vortex.
- Stand by Me - This Stephen King story features many scary moments in the daylight: The train chase, Chopper, the violent gang, "It should have been you," the leeches, and ultimately... the body.
- I Spit on Your Grave is a movie from the "rape / revenge" genre, where most or all of the rape and revenge take place during the day, depending on which version you watch.
- The Last House on the Left is a rape / revenge movie with various versions where the rape, humiliation, torture and murder takes place during the day, and by virtue is more horrific than the revenge which takes place at night, since the more normal among us cheer on the revenge more than the other stuff.
- All of the nuclear holocaust sequences are during the daytime. Particularly, Terminator 2: Judgment Day shows burning children. The TV show has two brothers watching the nukes fly overhead as they play baseball in their front yard. The ending of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines shows beautiful landscapes illuminated by sunlight... obliterated by many nukes.
- Many of the assassination sequences, as well, for instance the smiling deliveryman in The Sarah Connor Chronicles who shoots a Red Shirt, but also ends up taking out Derek. Also, for instance, the assassination of one of the Sarah Connors in the original movie.
- Last Night is set entirely at night during the Earth's final few hours of existence, and yet the sun doesn't go down. At all. In fact, it gets brighter throughout the film, as it is implied that the coming apocalypse is related to the Sun in some ways (quite possibly a supernova).
- Final Destination: To drive home the point that death waits for nobody and could strike at any moment, a lot of the deaths occur during the middle of the day, when the characters are doing mundane activities. The disaster that open each movie even alternates between night and day, with those of 2, 4 and 5 (a prequel to 1, meaning it still fits the pattern) taking place during the day.
- A great deal of The Bay takes place on a bright and sunny Fourth of July.
- The 2005 film Slaughterhouse of the Rising Sun features many scenes of daylight horror.
- The beginning of the 2010 version of The Crazies - People gather at the local baseball field to watch the game, and everything is sunny and normal. Then a guy with a shotgun walks into the middle of the game...
- The Canadian slasher movie Curtains has a scene where a figure skater is attacked and ultimately decapitated by a masked killer in broad daylight.
- In the second half of Anaconda, the Anaconda repeatedly attacks in broad daylight and devours still-living people whole.
- A Field In England entirely takes place in a wide open field during a day with decent weather and even many moments of sunshine. The uneasiness never comes from the presence of monsters or anticipation of a Jump Scare. Instead, the villainous alchemist O'Neill describes it as a land that is close to other places, while the more simple minded ones believe it's the Devil itself. Or possibly a punishment from God. Or maybe they are all just tripping on mushrooms.
- Homebodies, from 1974, an agoraphobic, elderly woman is chased outside, where she is greeted by the dazzling sun, which momentarily blinds her, allowing her pursuer to get closer.
- Played for Laughs in Overboard when the Rich Bitch-turned-Servile Snarker wakes up from her dream of upper class society and faces a day of menial work. She tells her reflection in the mirror, "You're living in a nightmare that starts at the crack of dawn."
- Full Circle begins with a woman's young daughter choking to death on a bright, sunny morning.
- As a contrast with the undead pirates of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, who were reasonably frightening in daylight but appeared as half-decayed skeletons by moonlight, Davy Jones and his crew of Fish People are scary-looking all the time. We see one of them for the first time in a dimly lit ship's hold and the rest are introduced during a night scene, but in most of their scenes after that they're in broad daylight.
- Famously, Bram Stoker originally had Dracula walking freely during the day. This is a staple of the Victorian vampire fiction. The idea of vampires dying in sunlight only became prevalent in the early 20th century thanks to the silent film Nosferatu. Similar examples include Lord Ruthven from The Vampyre and Carmilla.
- In Dean Koontz's novel Cold Fire, Jim and Holly are awakened on a sunny morning by a monstrous presence trying to force its way through the bedroom ceiling. "When something from Beyond found you in the dead hours of the night, you half expected it. But sunshine was supposed to banish all monsters."
- Invoked in-universe for The Zombie Survival Guide. Which recommends finding safe places to sleep during the night, and only 'get moving" when there's Daylight. Implicitly putting you on even terms with the undead, who don't need to see you to find and eat you.
- Consciously invoked by HP Lovecraft in his short story, Cool Air:
It is a mistake to fancy that horror is associated inextricably with darkness, silence, and solitude. I found it in the glare of mid-afternoon, in the clangour of a metropolis, and in the teeming midst of a shabby and commonplace rooming-house with a prosaic landlady and two stalwart men by my side.
- Legend has it that the Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred, writer of the original Necronomicon, while in broad daylight and in front of a whole crowd of people, was eaten by an invisible monster. One of August Derleth's stories revealed that he was actually kidnapped, tortured, had his eyes gouged out and his tongue removed, and was finally executed.
- In Motherland this is generally averted outside of flashbacks, with the 'Day' segments being subdued and contemplative until the false Irina shows up on the scene, ruining the illusion that the monsters only appear at night. Then averted completely again until the final night appears out of nowhere in what should be the middle of the morning.
- Stephen King
- In the novel Cell, the hive mind zombie like people called the phoners can only remain active and hunt during the day. At night they become lethargic and cannot move until the sun rises. Most people who are still normal have quickly learned to only move at night when the phoners are inactive.
- It invokes the trope in spades - both attacks by It itself and the "mundane", man-made horror of, for example, Beverly's father and other less savory residents of Derry occur just as often during daylight hours as during the night - arguably, some of the most revolting scenes happen in broad daylight (such as the demise of Patrick Hockstetter at the hands of Leech!It, for instance). In fact, all of the protagonists have their first encounter with It (as kids) during the day or early evening. Both showdowns with It occur during the night, though.
- Cujo - Mother, son, car, dog, sun, just like the movie. The book version employs this trope more than the movie version in ways big and small. Whereas the movie hinted that it really sucks to slowly die of heat stroke and dehydration, the book goes into more detail about how grueling it is to not only sizzle in your car on a hot summer day, but to watch your only child fry as well. Unlike the movie version, the book is able to use more descriptive terms such as, "Like an oven." More horrifically, the book ends with the death of the 4-year-old boy due to dehydration.
- The series Galaxy of Fear has a nice wide range of settings in which horror crops up, and some of them are bright sunshiny days. Notably in The Swarm, Spore, and Clones, respectively featuring a Horde of Alien Locusts, The Virus, and evil clones of the protagonists.
- In The Lord of the Rings, people are used to Orcs not being able to stand the light of the sun, so it is a shock when Saruman's Uruk-hai are capable of doing so.
- Not to mention the sunlight-resistant Olog-hai, or hill trolls, that appear during the final battle. Trolls normally turn to stone in sunlight, and Aragorn had previously pulled a bit of a prank on the hobbits that relied on this fact.
- Odd Thomas - A stranger nicknamed "Fungus Man" comes to Odd's town of Pico Mundo during the day, trying to act normal. Other than being slightly creepy and slightly homely, he succeeds. No one but Odd can see the bodachs that surround Fungus Man, bodachs being shadowy spirit creatures who appear only during times of death and disaster, and in this case act as bad omens and harbingers of doom. Seeing one means that there will be a tragedy. The more bodachs there are, the worse the tragedy will be, and there are dozens around Fungus Man, meaning that he's planning something terrible... as he strolls around town in broad daylight with all the normal people.
- While there are a number of things that go bump in the night during The Events At Poroth Farm, a lot of the really creepy stuff happens during the daytime, including the harrowing climax.
- Although the scariest events in E. F. Benson's "The Room in the Tower" happen at night, the nightmares leading up to the protagonist's final experience are normally set in extremely bright light.
- At the climax of The Sword of Shannara, the Skull Bearers join the attack on Tyrsis in broad daylight. Since, up until that point in the story, they had only been able to operate at night, daylight being anathema to them, it was a clear sign that the Warlock Lord's power was waxing, and final defeat for the heroes was at hand.
- This description of Spooksville appears in the first book. "Springville was the proper name of the small oceanside town. It was only the local kids who called it by the scarier, but more accurate, title. It was only kids who knew how weird the place could get after dark. Or even during the day. That was the thing about Spooksville. Not all its monsters waited until the sun went down to appear." Daytime horrors include the No-Ones and Giant Enemy Crabs.
Live Action TV
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel:
- The second season of Buffy features a figure in a hooded robe entering the classroom where Buffy is seated. Removing the hooded robe in the sunlight from the window, the figure is revealed to be a vampire. The vampire reveals a message to Buffy from the Big Bad that she's not safe anywhere, while being self-immolated to ashes by the sun.
- The sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer subverted the show's usual "Night-time horror" by having most of the scary stuff happen during daytime, culminating in the death of Tara, and Willow's attempt to destroy the world.
- Lampshaded in the very first episode of season six, where Willow is conducting a magic ceremony in a beautiful sunlit forest glade. A fawn comes up to lick her hand and Willow promptly slits its throat.
- A crossover arc features Gem of Amara, a ring that protects vampires from things like staking and sunlight. It allows Spike to catch Buffy off-guard at school, and, more horrifyingly, allows a pedophile vampire named Marcus who is known as a "master torturer" to go out in the daylight unharmed, and shows him at the beach, happily hunting his favorite prey: children. Angel has to find a way to stop Marcus without getting immolated by the sun.
- Lampshaded by the episode title "The Harsh Light of Day."
- Dexter is a show that loves to have gruesome serial killer murder scenes juxtaposed against the beautiful Miami backdrop. In his inner monologue, Dexter muses that in bright daylight, even the most gruesome killings look staged.
- Kamen Rider Kiva had a horror element, but most of the killings occurred in the daylight.
- Doctor Who
- During the Classic series, the showrunners often had to contend with lighting engineer guidelines intended for light entertainment shows which bordered it in the schedules. Invariably the engineers wanted to light everything to levels that shoot beautifully on chat shows, and the producers would want more atmospheric levels appropriate for Gothic Horror. Various compromises were found. In "The Ark in Space", the Doctor turning up the Ark's lights (to levels so bright you can see the red in his hair) is worked into the plot because the lighting engineers flat out refused on allowing the ship to be dark for all but a few key scenes. You can generally tell how tight a leash the producer had on the team at the time by how dark or bright a horror episode is; Philip Hinchcliffe's completely controlled Season 14 contained the very dark "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" and even gave the Doctor a low-lit churchike TARDIS instead of the blindingly-lit previous model, but much of the mid-to-late 80s are illuminated to levels that could have given the actors sunburn.
- The serial "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy" takes place during local daytime, as does "Fury from the Deep".
- Almost all of the action in "Blink" takes place in the daytime, much of it even in broad daylight. That doesn't make it any less terrifying, as most people who have watched it will tell you.
- "The Eleventh Hour" starts off at night, but the climax and most of the episode's scary moments take place during the day.
- Part of "Amy's Choice" is set in a sleepy village during the day.
- All of "Father's Day" occurs on the day of a wedding.
- "Silence In the Library" takes place during the day. Not so much the second part, where the sun's starting to set.
- Many of the Smoke Monster scenes from Lost happened in broad daylight.
- In the Torchwood episode "End of Days", Abaddon terrorizes the city and kills loads of people in broad daylight. Given that a shadow was required in order to devour people's life force this is actually logical, you need light to cast a shadow.
- Twin Peaks has lots of really creepy scenes that take place in broad daylight. Starting right with the very first scene.
- Used frequently and effectively in The Walking Dead, as the zombies are active in the daytime.
- The main character, Rick Grimes, first emerges from his coma to find himself in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse during the daytime.
- Later, Rick barely survives an encounter with a horde of zombies on the streets of Atlanta.
- In the second season premiere, Rick's group are forced to hide from zombies marching along the highway.
- In Smallville, Bizarro's face distorts whenever he is in direct sunlight.
- In Helix, Major Balleseros' discovery of a missing group of Synthetic Plague-infected lab monkeys frozen alive, outside of Arctic Biosystems, and his sharing the discovery with CDC veterinary pathologist Doreen, take place in snowy arctic daylight, the better to notice that many died in terror.
- The Science Channel series, Strip the Cosmos, has episodes about solar flares, black holes, and the sun itself. Or, as the commercial for "Inside the Sun" puts it, "All life... all death... comes from one place. Is the sun our greatest threat? Or is it protecting us from something worse? The only way to know is to strip it to the core!"
- East O' the Sun and West O' the Moon is about a girl whose father marries her off to a Bear. She is unhappy but resigned to the prospect. However, the Bear is kind to her, and it turns out that he's only enchanted to be a bear during the day — at night he has a human form, but his wife can't see him, lest he be separated from her forever. She gets an idea...
- In Magic: The Gathering, the Rise of the Eldrazi set started a three-block series of horror sets. To set the Eldritch Abomination Eldrazi apart from the biomechanical Corruption of the Phyrexians, or the Gothic Horror-style plane of Innistrad, they were always drawn in bright daylight. This served to show their bright, coral-inspired colors and to make it clear even daylight could not protect you.
- Mystara is a hollow world, where the inside is not as friendly towards undead due to the permanent lighting (and associated anti-entropy concerning the light). One immortal works around that by creating a modified wraith that requires sunlight to work.
- Any Stealth-Based Game where it's crucial to stick to the shadows and avoid the light, such as...
- This article discusses the concept of daylight levels in horror games.
- In Dead Island, most of the clips and scenes take place during the daytime, which makes it scarier as it makes the player a more visible target.
- Resident Evil
- The very first game. At the end, you've survived the night, you've defeated the boss, and the other boss, and you've reached the roof to find sunlight. You set off the flare and see the helicopter coming to rescue you from the mansion before the mansion explodes. The sunlight causes the helicopter to cast a shadow on the roof. And that's when the Tyrant bursts out and kills you.
- Resident Evil 3: Nemesis as well. Until you get out of the police station that is. The horrifying aspect being that the day and night are nearly indistinguishable since the smoke from the burning town is blotting out the sun.
- Many levels in Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5 take place during the day. 4 is still pretty gray and gloomy, even during the day, but a slim majority of 5 occurs out in the blinding sun. Amplified by the superior lighting effects in 5, an enemy with their back to the sun is a major annoyance.
- Left 4 Dead 2's daytime segments don't just change the lighting, but the behavior of one of the Special Infected. Witches normally sit in one place at night, but during the day they wander around.
- Though not outright horror, some of the levels in Mass Effect at least go for Daylight Creepy, like Feros and Ilos, and the prologue on Eden Prime to some degree. In Mass Effect 2, almost every level is like this.
- A specific example is Horizon, a colony in the process of being abducted by the Collectors. It's a beautiful, summery day and the colony looks like any prefabricated community, a place where people live, farm, work and sleep. And then you come across humans frozen in place in the process of fleeing, falling, screaming, hiding, trying to help each other...and then you stop coming across them, and it's like they were never there at all.
- Taken several notches up in Mass Effect 3 with Sanctuary. It's a refugee camp on Horizon that takes in human refugees from planets destroyed by the Reapers and the reception area looks a lot like an elegant and clean airport with huge skylights and indoor parks, except for some very recent damage from firefights and crashed shuttles. As you arrive the last enemy troops are on full retreat and there is nobody else there, while the PA keeps blaring out instructions to new arrivals, which sound increasingly like cult propaganda. From terminals you learn that new arrivals are confined to the reception area and have to leave behind all their possessions. If you volunteer as a receptionist, you are promised better accommodations once you are permitted inside the main compound. From which nobody has ever returned. It's actually a kind of concentration camp where refugees are turned into brainwashed cyborg soldiers and everyone who is not suitable is turned into test subjects for anti-zombie weapons.
- Bioshock Infinite starts off as this, but then gets noticeably darker as the game progresses.
- Pathologic. Though even the noon of the sunniest day in the game has a withered, autumn atmosphere and can look mildly gloomy.
- Lake Yantar in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is somehow more creepy during the day than during night. During the highly overcast day you can often see zombiefied Stalkers shuffling in the distance or Snorks crawling through the bushes while at night it's just a usual dark wilderness level.
- The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is set mostly during daytime. Earlier games in the series also had missions that would take place in daylight, depending on when your soldiers arrived at a terror site.
- In Minecraft, most enemies spawn in darkness and burn in direct sunlight, with the exception of three mobs. The first is the giant spider, which becomes passive and stops attacking the player without provocation after the sun comes up. The second exception, The Creeper, is an Action Bomb which combines several annoying traits. Its body is mottled green, so it blends in rather well with trees. It's completely silent except for a hissing sound it makes right next to you moments before detonating. Its AI is advanced enough that it can ambush the player, hiding in alcoves or around corners waiting to catch you by surprise. And most importantly for this trope, sunlight neither harms nor pacifies creepers, so when you leave your shelter in the morning, they'll be waiting for you. The third is the very creepy Endermen, which just stand there... until you look at their faces...
- In Fragile Dreams there are some places where the sun is setting or it's dawn, but most of the game happens at night (the game's symbol is the moon so day/night cycles are not quite respected). However there is a single setting where you get to play while the sun shines, a Hotel, and is one of the scariest parts of the game.
- A few of the games in the Silent Hill franchise start off in the day, granted a dark and gloomy day, before moving on to night. Silent Hill 2 however has the whole game take place during an overcast day with the only truly dark lighting being inside buildings or when the town shifts into one of it's nightmare world incarnations.
- Eternal Darkness has one of the characters wandering around a spooky mansion in the day with the sun getting ready to set and still manages to give off the uneasy feeling that monsters are watching you and can strike at any moment.
- Dryfield, the monster-infested town from Parasite Eve 2.
- Diablo II mostly takes place under the sunlight (when it's not Beneath the Earth), including a desert territory brimming with undead buzzards and demonic locusts. Diablo is always night (and the action is entirely Beneath the Earth). Much of Diablo III's demonslaying action takes place during the daylight hours, including much of Act II, the siege of Bastion's Keep in Act III, and the battle in the High Heavens in Act IV. Kormac the Templar, one of your followers who has a serious case of Black and White Morality, is definitely troubled by this.
- A large chunk of Devil May Cry takes place during daylight.
- At least half of the missions in Killer7 take place in sunny locations, like Texas, the Dominican Republic, and a well-lit Amusement Park (of Doom). But since this is a Surreal Horror we're talking about, the bright light emphasizes the bizarre, cel-shaded, technicolor palette, making the world around you only look that much more alien and hostile. Hell, one of the most horrific scenes in the game ( Ulmeyda turning into a Heaven Smile and the ensuing boss fight) takes place in the Texas desert in broad daylight.
- The Chzo Mythos games have several good examples of this. Most notably, Trilby's Notes, generally agreed to be the scariest game in the series, takes place entirely during the day apart from the opening sequence (albeit primarily indoors).
- There's only one chapter in Still Life 2 that takes place in daylight and it plays exactly like an earlier chapter of danger-free investigation. All of which only makes the end-of-chapter gut punch that much punchier.
- The vast majority of the Shining Force series takes place during the day. Even the battles against the Big Bads take place during high noon. In Gaiden, only one battle took place at night; other than that and the hidden character, it was just another standard battle.
- While most of your encounters with Clickers take place in dark tunnels and sub-basements, a good deal of the fighting in The Last of Us takes place outside, or at least in well-lit areas. One of the more notable examples would probably be your first encounter with a Bloater, which happens in a bright, if rather run down, gymnasium.
- Daylight will not keep the creature from hunting you in Miasmata. Not that night does either.
- The final battle against the Alien Cell in Contra: Hard Corps takes place in broad daylight.
- Invoked by Dhaunayne Aundae (the Ancient of the Aundae clan of vampires) in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, who (if you become a vampire of the Aundae clan) sends you to kill a vampire hunter in the city of Ald'ruhn... in broad daylight, as a message that not even the light of the sun will protect enemies of the vampires.
- Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire: Groudon's Drought ability automatically makes the weather sunny and bright...which is useful when drying up all water sources and violently expanding continents. In the remakes, the day and night cycles are included, but this ultimately makes no difference since Groudon's power disrupts the cycle and makes it look like the sky is burning.
- In Dark Souls, one of the most dangerous areas in the game is Anor Londo, a bright shiny city where it is always sunny courtesy of Gwyndolin's illusion. The area is full of very dangerous enemies also courtesy of Gwyndolin's illusion. Fittingly, the place becomes much safer after breaking the illusion plunges Anor Londo into darkness. The only enemies that remain are Gwyndolin's pissed off servants.
- Shin Megami Tensei IV has Blasted Tokyo, which is an Alternate Timeline version of Tokyo in which the forces of Law seize the metropolis. There is a desert where Tokyo once stood, there are massive craters that mark where major Tokyo districts used to be, the poisonous atmosphere infects and eventually kills humans exposed to it, and demons roam the land killing off humans who dare to wander outside the sole human shelter. Yes, the sun shines on this Tokyo thanks to the lack of a Firmament, but that's the reason the nuclear missiles were able to blow Tokyo to pieces, leaving only a massive Death World.
- The Witcher has Noonwraiths, which are corpse-like spectral women that, as their name implies, only appear in daytime specially during hot and sunny days, they lure travelers and make them dance in the sunlight until they literally drop dead from the heat and exhaustion.
- Uncharacteristically ghastly enemies from the usually bubbly and sunny Super Mario Bros. series: The Unagis, giant, bug-eyed eels with gaping mouths filled with fangs. The Mega Unagi is a larger version of normal Unagis. The Mega Unagi cannot be killed. It eats everything in its path as it tries to kill Mario in the sunlit waters.
- Most of the Pikmin series takes place during the day, as the night is when enemies become more active and all of the player characters automatically retreat to their ships to avoid them. This does not prevent encountering enemies like the Smoky Progg, a creature covered in its own toxin that makes it resemble a ghost-like figure. Or giant (by the player character's standards) spiders crashing into the field. Or the final boss of the third game, a strange, shape-shifting, possibly immortal entity of "plasm" that is dead-obsessed with capturing Olimar for reasons unknown.
- The second chapter of The Bongcheon-Dong Ghost takes place in the middle of the day at a train station.
- Justified for Homestuck's trolls, who are nocturnal and live on a world where the nastiest threats all come out under the blistering rays of the sun.
- The demons in Soul To Call have no lighting preferences whatsoever.
- Lapse: Tripod has no reservations about appearing during the day.
- The Slender Man is generally associated with fog and dark places, but there's nothing really stopping him appearing in broad daylight if he so desires, as seen in most of the web videos based on his mythos. In fact, seeing as most of the images from the originating paranormal image thread had him (relatively) clearly exposed during broad daylight, Slendy is possibly one of the newer Trope Codifiers. The TV Tropes page image for the Mythos is one such example. However there are several outstanding examples from the major series:
- Entry 7, Entry 13, and Entry 40 from WebVideo.Marble Hornets
- "Joke's Over", "Ashen Waste", and "Cops Checked, No Body" Although this lattermost one actually features the Rake, rather than Slendy himself from Everyman HYBRID
- Tribe Twelve has fewer of these as the majority of the series occurs indoors, but does include "Submission 4" and "Nature Trail Visit".
- Much of Nyx Crossing takes place during the daytime. Doesn't stop it from being eerie though.
- In Doom House, Reginald is terrorized by the Creepy Doll during the daytime on numerous occasions.
- Batman: The Animated Series: The episode "House & Garden" shows one of the few times where Batman's in action in broad daylight. The reality behind Poison Ivy's new domestic life is no picture-perfect fairy tale, either... dear God, the "cabbage plant kids"...
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic two-part Season 2 closer "A Canterlot Wedding, Part 1 and 2" take place in the middle of a glorious day in the most beautiful city in Equestria, with everyone gathered to celebrate a fairy-tale wedding. Then the sky starts raining Changelings ...
- Night is when you are safe at home with others around you. Have you ever been all alone on a quiet day and suddenly get the feeling that you're being watched? Likewise many robberies and home invasions take place during the day, when the owners are away at work, rather than at night when they're at home.
- Giant hogweed (species H. mantegazzianum and H. sosnowskii). A tall poisonous plant that spreads like kudzu and causes dangerous blisters and burns that can enter Body Horror territory if you are not careful. Its poison only works under sunlight; it's safe by night.
- This is the reality for a great many insects and arachnids living among humans, especially when seen through a Perspective Flip. At night, they are free to scramble around the floors, searching for food scraps in relative safety. But, when the sun comes up, and the all-powerful giant bipeds awaken, then they are hunted down, to be crushed, poisoned, swatted, or otherwise brutally killed. Speaking of insects, all ants know that night time is when humans won't use a combination of the sun and a magnifying glass to make a laser.
- Heat Stroke◊
The "Georgia Toddler Hot Car" death involving Justin Ross Harris and his two-year-old son Cooper. Justin left Cooper to bake to death in the car, and was arrested because it may have been intentional."Number of Children Dying in Hot Cars Remains a Problem (Pediatrician warns of dangers and what can happen to kids)" by Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun."Army Tries to Temper Heat Risks Facing Troops" by Joe Gould, Staff writer. "Then on July 29 at Fort Bragg, Sgt. Joshua Mann was running with his unit, Company C, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, when he collapsed, apparently from a heat-related illness. The 22-year-old airborne infantry team leader from Winside, Neb. died the next day at a post hospital."
- People who die of heat stroke.
- The Mesoamerican ballgame, from 1,400 B.C. by the pre-Columbian peoples of Ancient Mexico and Central America. This game involved a ball which symbolized the sun. The winner gets sacrificed to the sun gods, and the grisly sacrifice features ripping out a person's heart and cutting off a person's head, or some other gory spectacle for the masses.
- Pearl Harbor. A peaceful December morning in 1941, with the Pacific on one side and lovely tropical Oahu on the other. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Japanese fighter planes and bombers attack, sinking over a dozen ships and killing 2,402 Americans. Likewise, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 1945. At 8:15 AM in Hiroshima, the first uranium bomb was dropped here; some 70,000–80,000 people, of whom 20,000 were soldiers, or around 30% of the population of Hiroshima, were killed by the blast and resultant firestorm, and another 70,000 injured. At 11:01 AM, August 9, 1945, Nagasaki was similarly destroyed.
- The Oklahoma City Bombing on the morning of April 19, 1995 that killed 168 people and remains the worst domestic homegrown terror attack in US history.
- September 11, 2001 was an unseasonably warm and sunny Tuesday in many parts of the US. Numerous articles about the tragedy have discussed the contrast between the glorious late summer day and the carnage that unfolded.
- Jonestown. While the cult massacre that occurred there did not happen until dusk, the preceding events of the day — including the assassination of Rep. Leo Ryan (D-CA) — fit this trope to a T. A Jonestown survivor even unwittingly describes this trope in a documentary interview:
Stanley Clayton: It was a bright, sunny day. But it was a dark day. It just didn't feel right.
- A woman starved to death after embarking on a spiritual diet that required her to stop eating or drinking and live off sunlight alone. The Swiss woman in her fifties decided to follow the radical fast in 2010 after viewing an Austrian documentary about an Indian guru who claims to have lived this way for 70 years. The woman died in January 2011 in the town of Wolfhalden in eastern Switzerland. Followers of the cult of Breatharianism believe that the human body can survive on sunlight alone; this was the fourth recorded death related to the cult.