Innate Night Vision

Innate Night Vision is a type of Super Senses that allows a character or species to see significantly better in the dark than normal humans. It normally comes in one of two flavors: Either the character's ability to see low levels of the normal visible light spectrum is enhanced (low-light vision), or the character is able to see into the infra-red spectrum as well, sometimes described as seeing heat. (It should be noted that "near-infrared" light behaves similar to ordinary, human-visible light, while it's "far-infrared" light that is heat vision.)

This ability is common among many fictional creatures, especially those that live underground or are based in part on Real Life animals that also have excellent night vision. It is also something that many humans might acquire through Magic and Powers. For example, an Animal-Themed Superbeing with an Animal Motif of related to a species known for its low light vision, such as cats or wolves, is likely to have this ability. In such cases, it may overlap with Animal Eyes.

See also Night-Vision Goggles for when this is accomplished through artificial means.

This is Truth in Television for many Real Life animals, however given that it would be impracticable the large number of species this could apply to, it is better not to list them; in lieu of that, a good rule of the thumb is that if the animal is nocturnal or a deep-sea dweller, and is neither blind nor relies on non-optical methods of navigation (e.g. echolocation), it's quite likely to have night vision.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z: Yakon comes from the planet Dark Star, a planet stated to be at the far end of the universe where no light can reach it; thus, he can see in complete darkness.

    Comic Books 
  • Legion of Super-Heroes:
    • Night Girl comes from a planet that is in perpetual darkness, so she has no problem seeing in the dark. A good thing because her Super Strength only works in the dark.
    • Shadow Lass can generate fields of darkness and has no problem seeing in her own darkness or a natural one.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Chronicles of Riddick: The main character, Richard B. Riddick, is able to see in the dark at the cost of oversensitivity in daylight conditions, necessitating his near-permanent use of welding goggles. In Pitch Black this allowed him to assist a stranded starship crew in escaping from a predator-filled world during an extended solar eclipse. In that movie he claims that he paid a surgeon in prison for the enhancement, but this is later retconned as a supernatural ability.

    Literature 
  • The Wheel of Time has Perrin, a wolfbrother with wolf-themed powers, who gains the ability to see as well as a wolf in low-light sitatutions. There are also trollocs, Half-Human Hybrids designed for the most bestial traits, among them a preference for darkness, and Myrddraal, who have no eyes and magically see equally well in any light conditions.
  • In Lord of the Rings, elves see quite well under starlight (which is the likely origin of D&D low-light vision), and orcs from Moria see in the darkness. Uglúk acknowledges that that's the only thing Moria orcs are better at than his Uruks. Also the Nazgûl can see from the Wraith-world only at night; during the day, they sniff and rely on their horses' eyesight.
  • In the novel In Search of the Castaways by Jules Verne, this is Paganel's special ability, justified by a rare medical condition.
  • Heleth and the rest of the Bunker dwellers in the ColSec Trilogy.
  • This is the entire point of the vampires in the web-novel Domina. The angels are an inversion: They sacrificed their night vision for ridiculously good day vision. Like "stare at the sun when you're bored" good. And then there are the godeyes, which combine both types. There are only two people in the city who have them, since the procedure involves physically removing the eyes from the skull and doing precision surgery on them while they are mutated by the toy maker. Adelle's brother tried to do this to himself, by himself.
  • Members of the new Human Subspecies homo post hominem, in Emergence, by David Palmer, can see into the infrared range. When narrator Candy finds out about this, she comments that it explains several incidents she had previously been puzzled by.
  • In the Newsflesh world, people with retinal Kellis-Amberlee have extremely good low-light vision, which is one reason Georgia (who has this condition) prefers to be the driver at night. There was also that incident with the Babysitter from Hell taking away her (medically necessary) sunglasses and tossing them outside. While Georgia and Shaun were hunting for the sunglasses, she spotted an incoming zombie in time for Shaun to deal with the threat.
  • In Veniss Underground, Quin's genetically engineered meerkats have the ability to see in the dark, or at least in very low-level light.
    John: It's not dark — your eyes are just pathetically bad at retaining light.
  • In the Towers Trilogy, Xhea has unusual vision. Normally, she can only see in shades of gray, but can see perfectly well in absolute darkness. When she gets high on magic, she is able to see in color, but loses her ability to see in darkness. Ieren eventually explains that her inherent dark magic actually makes her blind while granting her supernatural perception; dosing herself with light magic cancels it out and gives her normal vision for a time.
  • Dominic of the Web Serial Novel "Shadows Of The Limelight" can see clearly in the dark because he has superpowers based on shadow.
  • In The Shattered Kingdoms, Norlanders can see with very little light, and since they're also Weakened by the Light, they prefer things dark. This is an inconvenience for their Shadari slaves, who don't have night vision.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, Darkvision and Low-light vision special qualities that a wide variety of species have. Low-light vision is the ability to see better than normal in low levels of light, while darkvision allows creatures to see in total darkness, but only in black and white and for limited distances. This trait is incredibly common, but also exclusive, that a joke among players has gone as such "Is the race human? No — then they have Low-Light vision or Darkvision."note 
  • In Warhammer 40,000, the Night Lords Chaos Space Marines can see perfectly in pitch darkness, and can even see into the infrared.

    Video Games 
  • In The Elder Scrolls the cat-like Khajiit have this as one of their their racial traits. Any character who becomes a vampire also gains the ability in the games where this is possible.
  • In Ultima Online, nightsight is a valuable ability temporarily granted by either a spell or potion, allowing you to see clearly in dungeons, without the limited range of visibility that comes from carrying a lantern or torch. Nightsight is also intrinsically granted to elves and vampires.
  • In Gems of War, Wolf Knights have it, according to their card. However, the absence of a day/night mechanic in the game means that it's only interesting as background information.
  • The "Friend of the Night" perk in several Fallout games gives the Player Character this, not that it's really necessary in games without light correction mods.

    Web Animation 
  • The Faunus in RWBY are said to have this as a racial trait. It's suggested that they all have good night vision, regardless of whether whatever animal species they have characteristics of has it.

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Natural Night Vision

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/InnateNightVision