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But mysterious caves and tunnels always have luminous fungi, strangely bright crystals or at a pinch merely an eldritch glow in the air, just in case a human hero comes in and needs to see in the dark. Strange but true.
You can't expect all sorts of media to have flashlights, or other sources of light that runs on batteries, for characters to use in dark areas, so there's either torches or the Fantastic Light Source to use.
Sometimes you can expect luminescent flora and fungus
Also the Mundane Utility
of Power Glows
or those with Light Elemental Powers
See Hollywood Darkness
, for when no explanation is given.
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Anime & Manga
- Early in Crimson Spell, Halvir gives Prince Vald a fairy in a jar to use as a light source, instructing him to smack it and make the fairy angry to make it glow. Vald, who is a nicer person than Havi is, sets the fairy loose as soon as Havi has left.
- In Kamichama Karin, Karin once uses her glowy magic ring as a flashlight.
- Chapter 8 of Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force shows that mages in the setting have a spell that creates floating orbs of light that serves as this when they need to work at night in places away from civilization, such as when paramedics were carting away Signum after her battle against Cypha left her in critical condition.
- Naruto: Naruto's Super Mode, which calls on the uncorrupted Ninetails chakra, is used as a flashlight, which is then properly lampshaded.
- Shinsoo in Tower of God, due to the trope Power Glows.
- In With Strings Attached, after Paul becomes able to cast the light spell he learned, he serves as the walking, talking Fantastic Light Source for the four.
Films — Animation
- The ant colony in A Bug's Life uses luminescent mushrooms as lighting.
- On Despicable Me, one of the Minions is used as a glow stick.
- In Tangled, Rapunzel uses her magic hair to find the way out of a flooded cave.
Films — Live-Action
- Avatar: the biolumiscent flora of Pandora.
- Occurs at the climax of Pitch Black with the glowing worms found in a cave. The worms helped keep the light-sensitive monsters at bay long enough to allow the survivors to make it to the shuttle at the end.
- The Coldfire Trilogy has the Fire briefly wielded by Damian in the first book before Calesta tricked Senzei intro drinking it, resulting in Senzei's death and the loss of the Fire and the coldfire wielded by the Hunter. The Fire was the last remaining sample of tamed solar fae bound to water with the prayers of thousands. Solar fae, unlike others, can only be tamed through massive collective effort and belief, and faith in the present is no longer strong enough to do so. It's a handy light source that is also anathema to any creature of the darkness. Coldfire is a "flame" that is as cold as true fire is hot (and just as dangerous) that gives off an eerie blue light. The Hunter wields a sword imbued with tamed fae that radiates coldfire as his weapon of choice.
- Men at Arms lampshades this, when two characters that can see in the dark fall in a tunnel, but the narration points out, that for the benefit of viewers and to fit conventions there are fluorescent fungi on the walls giving it a slight blue tint.
- The Last Continent also lampshades this in a similar situation, with the lighting being provided by glowing rocks.
- And in Thud!, the dwarf mine is lit by vurms, bioluminescent carrion-eating creepy-crawlies.
- In The Dresden Files, Harry often uses magic to light up his pentacle amulet. Though it's a modern setting, Harry's amulet is more reliable because technological lighting often fails when magic's afoot. He also occasionally uses faith magic to light up his pentacle which has the secondary ability to repel those weak to faith.
- Dune has glowglobes, free-floating lamps equipped with antigravity generators. Like many other aspects of the Duniverse, they have also been borrowed by Warhammer 40,000.
- Harry Potter: Wands can generate light with the Lumos spell. It's either allowed, or undetected, by the underage-magic-detecting Tracer due to either its simplicity or the ease for a Muggle to mistake it for an ordinary flashlight.
- Labyrinths of Echo has fungi in fishbowls that emit pleasant orange light when irritated (the switch is connected to little brushes). And magical luminescent lamps for blue light.
- The book The Last Dragonlord had dragonfire, orbs of harmless and seemingly cold fire that gave off light.
- Both the Phial of Galadriel and Gandalf's staff serve this purpose in The Lord of the Rings.
- Princess Eilonwy's "bauble" (AKA the Golden Pelydryn) in the Prydain Chronicles.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye, when Luke and Leia enter a series of caves, they discover it isn't totally dark due to a light-emitting fungus growing on the walls.
- The Stormlight Archive has glass spheres with gemstones in the center infused with the titular Stormlight used as lamps, they provide a steadier light then oil lamps or candles, and can be easily recharged by leaving the spheres out in a highstorm.
- Channelers in the Wheel of Time can conjure spheres of light.
- Lindsey Stirling's "Song of the Caged Bird" video includes this. After unpacking many lightbulbs and candles, all dark, she finds a violin in a crate and begins to play. The candles light up slowly until the room is very bright, though they are dependent on her continuing to make music. At the end, her violin starts to glow too.
- The reason the caverns in Fraggle Rock are so brightly lit is because of Ditsies; creatures that feed off music and turn it into visible light.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- Older editions had objects with Continual Light cast on them. Some were shaped in useful ways, such as balls (could be rolled into the darkness) or "frisbees" (could be thrown). Someone even came up with a Continual Light flashlight/lantern (could be opened to let the light out).
- 3rd Edition added Sunrods as a standard item.
- Dwarves of Forgotten Realms use jars with glowing borer-worms, glowmoss and phosphorescent powders. Glowmoss is also a stock light source in Spelljammer (fire is out of question in the Flow).
- FASA's Earthdawn had magical "light crystals".
- One of the most common elements retained from the former Ages is the use of Essence-based lighting.
- Many types of Exalted also have the ability to light up their Battle Aura to illuminate their surroundings. Some, like Solars and Lunars, have it easier than the others.
- There's even a five-dot hearthstone that illuminates quite a large area with natural sunlight, even if it's pitch dark. This is of course really, really bad for any hungry ghosts in the area.
- Lightstones are used by inhabitants of the Matoran Universe as a light source. Additionally, beings and other things relating to the Light element suffice, such as the Kanohi Avhokii, the Mask of Light.
- The Great Ruru (mask of night vision) was demonstrated to be this in Legends of Metru Nui.
- Additionally, there are Lightvines that grow in various locations.
- Besides torches and lanterns, Angband has the Phial of Galadriel, the Star of Elendil, and the Arkenstone of Thráin. These unique artifacts are all permanent light sources.
- The caverns of Avernum are lit by luminescent mold on the ceiling. Depending on who you believe, either Erika made it and propagated it, or the Vahnatai did. Either way, it's a good thing it's down there—it's also what turns the caves' carbon dioxide into breathable air.
- Demons Souls: The player always has a magical gem called the "Augite of souls" which glows in the presence of souls.
- Luminite, an Underworld mineral that suffers changes in the human world and starts emitting white light, in Devil May Cry. Dante collects a chunk and uses it as a lantern in the first game.
- In EverQuest, will'o'wisps drop light stones and greater light stones, which help adventurers see in the dark.
- God of War 3: Kratos rips off Helios' head to use it as a lantern.
- In Grim Fandango, you meet a character who's fashioned a lantern out of luminescent coral and attached it to his scuba-suit. You use him to traverse the dark ocean floor by getting Glottis to pick him up and carry him with you.
- In the Xen segments of Half-Life, there are bio-luminescent stalks which retract and turn off when approached.
- Xenium crystals are also luminescent, as seen in Blue Shift.
- Half-Life 2 has Antlion larvae, glowing blue (very young) or yellow (older). Antlion Guardians also glow greenish, though this is intended as a warning to their potential prey that the car-sized Lightning Bruiser about to send you flying with a headbutt has neurotoxin.
- In Video Game/inFamous, Cole gets around the sewers by generating small amounts of electricity on his arms.
- In Metal Gear Solid 3, Snake can eat luminescent mushrooms to power his Night-vision Goggles and other battery powered items. How though ... don't ask.
- Pokémon: the move Flash is used outside of battle to light up dark areas.
- Plants vs. Zombies: The Plantern is a nocturnal plant which glows and dispel the bank of fog around it.
- In Betrayal at Krondor, there are spells and magic artifacts to generate light at nighttime or in dungeons. This is very useful in the Naptha Mines in chapter 4, where lighting a torch will cause the whole place to explode.
- Sword of Vermilion has the Luminos spell, which lasts until you leave the dungeon you cast it in.
- In Touhou, Wriggle Nightbug's butt emits light. She is a firefly, after all.
- Unreal I had glowing Tarydium crystals.
- In Xenoblade, the Nopon use the pollen orbs they manufacture in their village as both light sources and food (and in the case of red ones, a group sells them as a highly addictive drug).
- When Tanna enters the temple in Ears for Elves, it's dark once she reaches the main room. However, she touches an orb over a glowing basin, and it and similar orbs light up the whole chamber with mystical effects.
- Played with in Girl Genius: a character questions why the Deepdown doesn't have phosphorescent crystals or fungi, and is told they were all sold.
- Denizens of the Basement in The Mansion of E breed and use Glowing Balls Of Light.
- In RoomLand, an MS Paint Adventures Forum Adventure, the cave Mary-Beth lives in is lit up by some kind of glowing plant.
- In Three Panel Soul, a man wins Lucifer's soul in a game. He mainly uses it as a lantern.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, producing a glow from their horn is one of the basic spell of unicorn magic, alongside telekinesis. Even a foal like Snails is able to do it in "Boast Busters". Unicorn guards focuses the glow like a flashlight when doing their rounds.