[[quoteright:350:[[WesternAnimation/AmericanDad http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/nerdbane.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Thus we beheld the face of ''[[LukeNounverber Morwyn Nerdbane]]''!]]

->''"Sorry, this corner was really dark and I couldn't help myself. ''[beat]'' I think a bulb is out or something."''
-->-- '''Agent Phil Coulson''', ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'', "Pilot"

Someone's face, or whole body, is kept in shadows until just the right moment to come out and show his/her face to the other characters and/or the audience.

This person might be someone the audience knows, or looks like that person, or it might just be someone we don't know, but it's time to see who this character looks like.

The duration of the shadow hiding can also vary. It could be just a few seconds, to spending several episodes not seeing this person.

And how much shadow there is can also vary. This can range from going into the only source of light in a dark area, to leaving the only shadow in a bright area.

This is especially popular in some HighFantasy (usually involving a shadow in a lighted scene), and FilmNoir (usually involving a light in a dark scene).

A SubTrope of TheReveal, {{Chiaroscuro}}, RuleOfDrama.

A SisterTrope to LightningReveal, TheUnmasking.

Compare FaceFramedInShadow, DramaticSpotlight, NaturalSpotlight and FaceRevealingTurn.

Contrast TheUnreveal.

%%Please keep the examples alphabetized in their sections, to make it easy to find works.


* Used for a VisualPun in ''Film/TheNakedGun''-type adds for Red Rock Cider. Creator/LeslieNielsen shouts, "Hey! You, over there, in the shadows!" The man steps forward and reveals himself to be Hank Marvin, guitarist with sixties pop group, the Shadows.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In the first two issues of ''ComicBook/TheBatmanAdventures'', the Penguin and Catwoman receive two-way video screens that put them in contact with a figure hidden in the shadows... until a hapless henchman turns on the lights to reveal the Joker. In both cases, Joker shoots the offending minion and continues the conversation as if nothing had happened.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''Fanfic/FateLongNight'': Zouken Matou performs the summoning ritual, but nothing seems to happen. Losing patience, he commands his "Servant" to come out. The Stranger's Champion steps out of the shadows, but shocks him by wearing the form of his lost love Justeaze von Einzbern.
* In the first part of ''Fanfic/HopeForTheHeartless'', Avalina's two first meetings with [[VillainProtagonist the Horned King]] include him concealing himself in shadows [[MonstrousHumanoid for a reason]]. During their third meeting, he reveals himself fully to her by slowly walking out of the shadows, giving her a [[OhCrap major scare]] at the confirmation to her suspicions about ''[[TheDreaded who]]'' she's dealing with. While the Horned King's identity is never a secret to the readers, the effect is still strong when the reveal is told from Avalina's POV.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* When Belle pleads for her father in ''Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast'', she asks Beast to step into the light, and we see his full form for the first time.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Cars}}'', this is how we first meet Lightning [=McQueen=].
* Esmeralda beckoning Quasimodo to come out of the cathedral at the end of ''Disney/TheHunchbackOfNotreDame''.
* Downplayed in ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyEquestriaGirlsRainbowRocks'', when the Dazzlings introduce themselves to Sunset Shimmer. Not the first look at them since they're seen already in the prologue, but at least a first look at their standard clothes.
* Rapunzel does this to Flynn in ''Disney/{{Tangled}}''.
* This is how Ursula was introduced in her own lair, whilst spying on Ariel and Flounder with the crystal bubble in ''Disney/TheLittleMermaid''. King Triton does this to Ariel when he discovers her secret grotto.
* In ''WesternAnimation/QuestForCamelot'', this is how Garrett was introduced after Kayley fell into his net and before he defeats the ironmen.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Colonel Kurtz's face in ''Film/ApocalypseNow'' is emerging from the shadows only after minutes of talking.
* In ''Film/TheThirdMan'', Harry Lime is revealed when light from a window shines on him from across the street.
* Creator/DavidLynch has done this in many of his movies, particularly when revealing a love interest or FemmeFatale.
** ''Film/{{Eraserhead}}''
** ''Film/BlueVelvet''
** ''Film/MulhollandDrive''
* In ''Film/DeadAgain'', Roman's face is in the shadows for a couple minutes.
* Done very creepily in ''Film/{{Hellboy}}''. The door at the end of a shadowed hallway opens, a security guard shines his flashlight around to make sure no one's lurking there... and as soon as he leaves and the hallway is dark again, out steps [[BigBad Rasputin]].
* Dr. Claw is sort of revealed this way in the ''Film/InspectorGadget'' adaptation.
* Inverted with Gandalf's reappearance in ''Film/TheTwoTowers'': his face is revealed after a bright flare dies down to background lighting.
* There's a scene in ''Film/LandOfTheDead'' where ZombieInfectee Cholo was heading back to the city, determined to settle things with his BadBoss Kaufman before dying. When Kaufman is trying to flee the zombie invaded city, we see Cholo take a shot at him while standing in the shadows and miss. Kaufman shoots back, hitting him in the chest, and Cholo falls. Kaufman goes back to packing his bags into the escape car only to hear a noise. Turning, he turns to see Cholo walking towards him. "You're dead!" Kaufman shouts. Cholo then finally comes into the light, revealing that he had turned into a zombie at some point while walking back into the city, and he's now close enough to do a DeadlyLunge at Kaufman. Kaufman reacts by saying "Oh god, you ''are'' dead!" in dismay.
* In ''Film/TheMenWhoStareAtGoats'', Bill is revealed this way to Lyn and Bob in the goat barn.
* In ''Film/TheFly1986'' remake, during the "Insect Politics" scene, when Veronica tells Brundle, "I don't know what you're trying to say," he finally reveals himself to her, as he steps into the light coming from the skylight.
* ''Film/BenHur'' uses this trope for a big return to his adversary's home place.
* In the Creator/StanleyKubrick adaptation of ''Film/{{Lolita}}'', Humbert comes home to find a man waiting inside; he [[LightSwitchSurprise turns on the lights]] to reveal Claire Quilty (known to the audience but not Humbert) in the guise of the college psychiatrist, Dr. Zempf. "[[JustAStupidAccent I sat in ze dark to save you ze expense of ze electricity.]]" Given his general behavior, it's likely this is a deliberate attempt to screw with Humbert's head.
* The male lead in ''Film/HouseOfGames'' enters the story this way.
* Blackbeard combines this with FeetFirstIntroduction and HitlerCam for his first scene in ''Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanOnStrangerTides''.
* ''Film/SkyCaptainAndTheWorldOfTomorrow''. IntrepidReporter Polly Perkins is waiting for Sky Captain [[TrespassingToTalk in his darkened office]]. Rather than stepping from the shadows, her face is revealed when our hero tilts his desk lamp towards her.
* A variant in ''Film/JurassicParkIII''; a ''Pteranodon'' approaches Eric Kirby whilst surrounded by OminousFog.
* ''Film/BloodDiamond''. Used for the reveal that the feared warlord Danny Archer is going to meet is actually a ChildSoldier.
* In ''Film/{{Batman}}'', Jack Napier does this to his old crime boss Carl Grissom, revealing his new form as The Joker, before shooting him.

* In the science fiction series, ''Literature/{{Alterien}}'', the antagonist, Theseus Spencer reveals himself to be the one behind the string of terrorist attacks executed by brainwashed people. Theseus had actually used his telepathy to program them into doing what he wanted in an elaborate test to see if Oberon was another Alterien.
* In ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', a revived Gandalf the White keeps his face and new garments hidden until it is time to reveal himself. The films actually invert this, by having him reveal himself as a blinding light fades.
* In ''[[Literature/HeraldsOfValdemar Take a Thief]]'', when the thief Skif, having just been Chosen, is brought to the Collegium, one of the Heralds confronting him is waiting in the shadows. That Herald, Weaponsmaster Alberich, turns out to be a tough guy familiar to Skif.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}''
** "Kandor": [[spoiler:Jor-El]] is revealed this way.
** "Idol": [[spoiler:Chloe does this to the ComicBook/WonderTwins; comes with a pretty epic threat.]]
* The final villain in ''Series/{{Chuck}}'' is revealed this way.
* In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' serial ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS17E2CityOfDeath City of Death]]'', Captain Tancredi's identity is revealed in this way.
* In the 4th SeasonFinale of ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', Sela showing her face is the last shot.
* ''Series/TheTwilightZone'' does this in "Eye of the Beholder" (when revealing that these "humans" have quite a different standard of beauty than ours) and "He's Alive" (when revealing that the person guiding the neo-Nazi is [[spoiler:Hitler himself]]).
* A very common occurrence in ''Series/TheXFiles'', particularly if it's someone involved in some way with the myth arc conspiracy.
* Happens in almost every season of ''Series/{{American Horror Story}}'' (In season one it's Ben appearing to Larry. In season four, Desiree appears to Dell)
* In the first season of ''Series/{{Angel}}'', a demon comes to Angel Investigations seeking protection from the {{Determinator}} who's been chasing him across several states. Angel is then confronted by a leather-clad man in the shadows holding a crossbow, but is singularly unimpressed when ComedicHero Wesley steps into the light.
* Angel himself does this in the original ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' series, knocking out the lights, then emerging in GameFace to attack Willow in the InternalReveal that he's turned evil. Given Angelus' love for mind games, he's obviously doing it deliberately to scare everyone.
* In ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'', Phil Coulson reveals [[NotQuiteDead he's still alive this way]], and immediately lampshades it in true Joss Whedon fashion.
-->'''Agent Coulson:''' (''steps out of shadows dramatically'') Welcome to Level Seven. (''beat'') Sorry, that corner was really dark and [[IAlwaysWantedToSayThat I couldn't help myself]]. I think there's a bulb out.
* In the ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' episode [[Recap/SupernaturalS02E20WhatIsAndWhatShouldNeverBe "What Is And What Should Never Be" (S02, Ep20)]], the shadow of the djinn appears on the screen behind the woman in white before he appears.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones''. When the Tyrell-Greyjoy fleet is ambushed in the middle of the night, Yara and Theon Greyjoy don't know who their attackers are, until the distinctive black ship of their EvilUncle emerges from the fog and rams their own.

* The original version of Creator/SternPinball's ''Pinball/{{Batman|Stern}}'' has a large black cylinder in the middle of the playfield. During the game, the side rotates away, revealing ComicBook/TheJoker inside.
* Creator/SternPinball's ''[[Pinball/PlayboyStern Playboy]]'' has the "Tease Screen," a black curtain that drops down during a game to reveal the Playmate hidden behind it.

[[folder:Theme Parks]]
* The gangster that hijacks the ride vehicle on ''Ride/TheGreatMovieRide'' does exactly this in his/her first scene.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamCity'': The Joker's first on-screen appearance in the game is this, with his face hidden in shadows after he seemingly faked his death with a BodyDouble to ambush Batman from behind. Batman initially guesses that Joker was just PlayingSick and nothing's wrong with him... until Joker steps into the light and reveals [[FacialHorror the nasty rash]] [[GrossUpCloseUp on his face]]:
-->'''Joker''': Nice of you to say, but you of all people should know... there's ''plenty'' wrong with me.
* ''VideoGame/PersonaQShadowOfTheLabyrinth'' has it revealing the protagonists from P3 and P4.
* The fight against Meta Knight of ''VideoGame/KirbyAndTheAmazingMirror'' starts as this, he appears as a colorless shady figure, then he becomes suddenly colored and proceeds to strike toward you ''without'' [[MythologyGag giving you a sword]]. [[spoiler: this is the first sign he's an impostor, he's actually [[EvilKnockoff Dark Meta Knight]].]]
* ''VideoGame/GodOfWarPS4'': Kratos is introduced in the E3 2016 gameplay trailer as such.
* ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'' introduces [[{{Ninja}} Sheik]] in this manner.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Undertale}}'', Sans is shown only as an ominous advancing shadow until the moment the player character turns around to greet him. A much later and very serious scene has [[spoiler:both Sans and the player character]] entirely shadowed in a brightly-lit corridor.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', Xykon [[InvokedTrope won't let the Creature in the Darkness step out of the shadows until it's dramatically appropriate]]. The creature was ''supposed'' to do this during the big battle at Dorukan's Gate, but things didn't quite go to plan. It's spent ''years'' hiding in shadows, being shut in a box, or being forced to carry around a magical ([[ParasolOfPrettiness albeit nice-looking]]) umbrella that creates darkness beneath it.
* ''Webcomic/TowerOfGod'': Quant loves to do this. It looks especially cool with his red GlowingEyesOfDoom.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In the ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'' episode "Dungeons and Wagons", Haley's [[DeepImmersionGaming game avatar]] is revealed this way.
* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyond'': In the episode "Splicers," Terry is spliced with vampire bat DNA by [[VillainOfTheWeek Dr. Cuvier]]. After breaking free of his restraints and saving Barbara and DA Young from Cuvier's mooks, Terry goes back to the Batcave. First, all we see is a massive silhouette of Batman... and then Terry throws his mask at Bruce's feet and comes into the light, revealing he's become a Man-Bat.
-->'''Terry''': Bruce! Help... me!
* Tirek in the ''Franchise/MyLittlePony'' special "Rescue at Midnight Castle", when he is about to use his Rainbow of Darkness for the first time.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'': In "[[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS7E10ARoyalProblem A Royal Problem]]" Daybreaker appears at first completely obscured by shadows, so that only the dark silhouette of an alicorn (with no mane or tail) can be seen. This increases the impact of the WhamShot when [[spoiler:she lights up her FlamingHair and reveals herself as Celestia's EvilTwin]].
* Captain Hindsight in the ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' episode "Mysterion Rises".
* PlayedForLaughs in ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''. Bart and Lisa meet a shady figure in a parking garage, and he stands in the shadows as he tells them to investigate Sideshow Bob's successful run for mayor, but refuses to give away his identity. Suddenly Homer drives up, illuminating the man in his headlights, and cheerfully calls out "Hi, Mr. Smithers!"
* In ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyondReturnOfTheJoker'', when we first see the Jokerz and their gang speak with their leader, he is partly concealed in the shadows at first, except for his {{red|EyesTakeWarning}} GlowingEyesOfDoom and his grin, but then, [[spoiler:after shooting Bonk dead for [[YouHaveFailedMe defecting him]], he emerges from the shadows, revealing himself to be the newly-resurrected Joker.]]
* Another PlayedForLaughs example shows up in the ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'' episode "Two to Tutor", Señor Senior Senior records a warning message about an upcoming heist by Junior and Shego (he'd gotten annoyed with them because, after he hired Shego to tutor Junior in villainy, she kept blowing him off whenever he tried to check in on them). He records the message in a dark room with [[ByTheLightsOfTheirEyes only his eyes showing]]... until Junior barges in and turns on the light.
-->'''Junior:''' Father? Why are you sitting in the dark?