"Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good."
It's one of the deepest ideas in our collective (un)consciousness. The Sun
brings heat, makes plants grow, helps us wake, explore, work, create. Gods of the Sun and Moon are associated with law, arts, the mind, justice, protection, inspiration, all the things that make up the best part of being human.
(And even the other nice thing about being human gets this treatment
- Venus is, after all, the Morning Starnote
.) The lightbulb coming on over one's head is the genesis of a great idea.
By light we can see the world; by extension, light lets us confront evil and destroy it
, both within and without ourselves.
It's the more or less obvious conclusion.
Almost every RPG
does this, some more than others. (It's always the holy magic
, never the dark
.) For characters with light-based powers with this connotation, see Light 'em Up
. Holy Hand Grenade
is not out of the question.
Light Is Not Good
originated as a subversion of this trope
. Note, however, that Good Is Not Nice
can also come into play if said hero has an affinity for light, and both Light is Good and Light Is Not Good
may come into play, as a Hypocrite
tries to pose as a good guy by taking on the trappings suitable for the good guys. If a story wants to use Light is Good and Dark Is Not Evil
at the same time, it's generally justified as both forces being necessary for a truly stable and peaceful world
, with the perceived 'evil' of darkness being a misunderstanding between the sides.
Why having the sun appear
is good. Also the reason White Magic
is called that.
See also Holy Halo
, Dark Is Evil
, Shining City
, and Shining Goodness
For more chromatic inspiration, see Color-Coded for Your Convenience
. For light used as one of the Elemental Powers
, see Light 'em Up
and Light Is Not Good
are subversions of this trope
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Anime and Manga
- In Naruto a colored chapter cover revealed that Naruto becomes yellow with shades of orange when he enters Chakra Mode, as seen here◊.
- Hyuuga Hinata defies what the rest of her clan stands for.
- Purity goes with light in Sailor Moon, and it becomes a common theme (most easily seen in the first anime's SuperS season).
- Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn has Syam Vist, a kind old man in white robes and Banagher Links, who pilots a White Gundam known as The Unicorn that is named after a Beast of Light and Possibility
- Angemon and Angewomon of Digimon Adventure are both angelic Digimon with golden hair who both debuted to promptly easily defeat a powerful dark Digimon with their powers of light. Angewomon takes this almost to ridiculous extremes - her partner is Hikari Yagami, whose first name translates to "''light''", and who uses the Crest of Light to make her evolve to Angewomon to begin with. Oh, and near the end of Adventure she started glowing.
- Most of the heroes in Fullmetal Alchemist are blondes with gold eyes to boot.
- That said, aside from the homunculus, the overwhelming majority of the villains invoke Light Is Not Good, and the only characters with anything resembling light powers are both villains.
- Except for the Colonel, who has light-themed powers and is most definitely on the heroic side.
- Though transforming tends to make them look more threatening in Dragon Ball Z, all the Super Saiyans, apart from the movie villain Broly, embody this with a golden hair and aura, even Vegeta by the end of the series.
- In Tenkuu Senki Shurato, The Hero wears a white armor (Which also has a Golden Super Mode). Other characters associated with light (like Lady Vishnu) are good too.
- While this trope was sometimes averted by the original Saint Seiya and Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, in Saint Seiya Omega the Light Cosmo have been portrayed as a good force, opposed to Darkness Cosmo.
- In Shinzo this trope is played straight most of the time.
- In BTX The Hero Teppei rides a white B't Which eventually turns golden.
- Subverted in Death Note, where the character named Light appears to be a pretty good guy at first (or at worst a Well-Intentioned Extremist) whose ideas of morality and justice are just slightly askew. However, it quickly becomes a case of Light Is Not Good as he descends into corruption and madness... as a result of believing himself to be this.
- Most Magical Girl series play this trope straight, with the heroines wearing bright and colorful outfits, having light/purity/Love related powers.
- Asuna, the female protagonist from Sword Art Online, wears white clothing, a stark contrast from male protagonist and Love Interest Kirito.
- Superman is powered in part by the light of Earth's yellow sun.
- As their Badass Creed says, Green Lantern's light is their power that the worshipers of Evil's might should beware.
- Of course, the GLs co-exist with several groups wielding light that are not so benevolent.
- Cassandra in Angel Of The Bat starts to live by this After her (unofficial) conversion, Cassandra wants to begin wearing a bright white uniform. Not because dark is inherently evil, but she believes others will find hope in her new outfit.
Films — Animation
- In Final Fantasy The Spirits Within the Earth's Gaia is a bright pale blue light that is in direct contrast to the angry red of the Phantoms.
- In Legend Of The Guardians The Owls Of Ga Hoole, Boron and Barran, the two leaders of the Guardians use golden helmets and have a white plumage. Though considering they're snowy owls, it's not like they have much choice regarding their feather colour, and the villains are also the generally light coloured barn owls.
- In Rise of the Guardians, the characters associated with Light (Like Sandman and the Man in the Moon.) are good, opposed to the darkness of the Big Bad.
- Similarly, Epic plays this trope completely straight: The Leafmen use bright colored armors and are associated with light, while the villains seem more associated with darkness.
- This trope is played straight in most of the movies from the Disney Animated Canon.
- In most of the Don Bluth movies. Though Bluth's movies also have aesthetically dark characters that aren't evil (The Secret Of NIMH, for example), and the very last movie uses has villains associated with blue light.
- Being the benevolent overseer of the candles of life, the Candlemaker from The Book of Life, is this.
Films — Live-Action
- The Light Side of the Force in Star Wars. The Expanded Universe is a bit more relaxed with this, though. Oddly enough, nobody ever calls it the "Light Side" in the original and prequel trilogies... it's only ever "The Force" and "The Dark Side of the Force." The entire idea of calling it the "Light Side of the Force" most likely came from fans making the "Dark Is Evil = Light is Good" connection on their own! The sequel trilogy finally uses the term.
- Poltergeist. The medium Tangina says:
Tangina: When people die, there's a wonderful light as bright as the sun. But it doesn't hurt to look into it. All the answers to all the questions that you ever want to know are inside that light. And when you walk to it, you become a part of it forever.
- In the first The Lord of the Rings film, Arwen appears to Frodo in a flowing white gown with light radiating out from her. This is just a vision to Frodo but it symbolises that she is good and is there to help him. Though she does warn him that she could end up evil and remain like she is.
- A bit of a no-brainer but the stars in Stardust. They shine when their hearts are full of joy and happiness although Yvaine actually uses this as a weapon against the witches.
- Played straight in one of the very last scenes of Pan's Labyrinth, which shows the throne room from King & Queen of the Underworld as a golden place full of bright light, where Ofelia is received after she dies in the real world.
- The 1939 film version of The Wizard of Oz and Oz: The Great and Powerful play this trope straight with their respective versions of Glinda, the Good Witch of the South.
- In the land of Caederan, Light is one of the two "supra-elements" that surround and infuse the four elemental magics. Each element has a light aspect, which is the proper and natural use of that element. In addition, it is possible for someone to turn you into an orah, those who "live aligned with light alone," and can access the light side of each of the four elemental magics. It's mentioned specifically that fire called by an orah burns hotter and cleaner, and is much easier to prevent from running amok, as compared to fire called by an aesh.
- The poem "Oxalis", by Nancy Cato, lovingly describes the flowers gleaming "like a streak of sunlight".
- In the Tairen Soul series, a term of romantic endearment between Fey is: "The Great Sun rises in your eyes, beloved."
- The heroine is compared favorably to Erimea, an in-universe star that illuminates the dark skies of winter.
- When Ellysetta saves the tairen cubs, their souls are depicted as living light, in stark contrast to the Well's anonymous shadows.
- Implied by The Apples song Energy. ("And the world is synchronicity/and the world is made of energy/and there's a light inside of you/and there's a light inside of me...")
- Omnipresent in songs about being yourself or standing up for oneself, in which light is your "inner self" or strength or individuality or whatever.
Myths & Religion
- In the Lusitanian Mythology, the god Endovelicus was associated with light and healing, being obviously benevolent. However, the same mythology also has Neto, a sun god associated with war, and when Christianity settled in Endovelicus became identified with Lucifer.
- Manichaean scripture spread the idea of light being good and darkness being evil, which is likely why it sometimes shows up in mainstream Christian rhetoric despite the Bible not favoring either (as in the cases of Milcom, Satan and Lucifer being bad and the shade of the lord good). However, their are many a passage in canon Christian scripture that can be taken this way if not put against the work as a whole.
- I John 1:7—>But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
- Job 33:28—>He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light.'
- Psalm 18:28—>You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.
- Isaiah 50:10—>Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.
- John 1:4-5—> In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
- Romans 13:12—>The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
- Exalted gives us The Unconquered Sun, the divine embodiment of virtue and righteousness, created by the Primordial of dickery solely because he wanted to find out what would give him purpose. And boy, did he succeed there, as the Unconquered Sun saw that the Primordials were yoking Creation about and helped lead the struggle to overthrow them. His chosen, the Solar Exalted, are supposed to be like this... save for that little Great Curse thing.
- Sun gods in Dungeons & Dragons are generally always of a good alignment. Pelor from Greyhawk is Neutral Good, Lathander from the Forgotten Realms is Neutral Good. Amaunator, the defunct Netheril sun god, averted this trope by being Lawful Neutral, but upon being reinstated in the fourth edition (by fusing with Lathander) became Lawful Good.
- Prior to the 4th edition, where they could be good or evil, angels and metallic dragons, who will actively attempt to aid weaker races. The 4th edition still played this straight with the good dragon god Bahamut.
- The white color in Magic: The Gathering uses a sun for its symbol. It has by far the lion's share of cards concerning healing, protection, spells that disarm creatures or only destroy/remove creatures when they attack you, and creatures traditionally associated with good such as angels, knights in shining armor and honest soldiers. Depending on the block, white cards can just as easily make for Light Is Not Good, however.
- In terms of characters wielding White Magic, the most famous are heroic, but there's a sufficiently large amount of paranoid Knight Templars as well. So light is pretty much neutral in this setting.
- Both subverted and played straight with the Living Saints of Warhammer 40,000. They are shining examples of all that's good about humanity, avatars of the Immortal God-Emperor of Mankind, shining with light that causes most heretics to repent and desire to serve the Imperium, that fills the hearts of the faithful with unshakable courage and joy in serving the Emperor. Within the Imperium, almost universally accepted as unambiguously morally good, serving humanity selflessly in and out of combat and eventually sacrificing their lives for the good of the Imperium. Outside the Imperium, they're probably viewed no better than any other Imperial tool.
- The Stellaknight archetypes' appearance and implied role in the Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG saga started in The Duelist Advent implies that they are benevolent or even heroic.
- William Shakespeare's Macbeth invokes it:
Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell;
Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace,
Yet grace must still look so.
- In John Milton's Comus, the older brother invokes this to assure his younger brother:
Virtue could see to do what Virtue would
By her own radiant light, though sun and moon
Were in the flat sea sunk.
- Dr. Light, the good scientist in Mega Man.
- The arrows of light from the Zelda games. In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the Light Spirits of the four springs, who aid you and who keep the land peaceful.
- This trope is sprinkled liberally throughout the games as a whole. Many of the climatic scenes involving Link use dramatic lighting to grand effect - just watch any of the Master Sword sequences. Probably most prominently displayed thematically in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, where Ganondorf's dark power has corrupted the Sacred Realm (a Golden Land where the Triforce once resided) and turned it into the dangerous and evil Dark World. Subverted somewhat in Twilight Princess.
- Amaterasu, the goddess of the sun and mother of all life, in Ōkami.
- "I know now, without a doubt, Kingdom Hearts is Light!"
- The power of the Holy Light from the Warcraft universe can only be used by good hearted people (among other lesser requisites), has the power to heal and damages undead and demons. Sure there are people who aren't precisely good, however, they are able to use it since it still works if you're good only in your own mind.
- In Alan Wake, light is so good that flashbang grenades are lethal against evil.
- The sheer brightness from the lighthouse in the second DLC "The Writer" is very much One-Hit Kill against the Taken. So as long the boulders are cleared out.
- In The Haunted Mansion video game, evil ghosts cannot inhabit a lit room. Every puzzle in the game is figuring out how to light up the current room.
- The first Fable has this in spades, with light clothing giving you good points and dark clothing giving you evil points, and good characters morphing to have lighter features. The sequels ease up on it, but it's still present.
- The Final Fantasy series uses this along with the brother trope
- The Warrior of Light.
- Final Fantasy III has the warriors of light, to contrast the equally heroic warriors of darkness.
- While Cecil Harvey originally followed the brother trope, he manages to redeem himself as a Paladin, originally being a Dark Knight.
- The white materia, Holy, in Final Fantasy VII, summoned by Aeris, is used to combat the Black Materia used by Sephiroth
- In Final Fantasy VIII, Rinoa Heartilly is associated with angel wings, being her limit break, nice contrast from Squall, The Hero dressed in Black.
- In Final Fantasy X, Yuna serves primarily as The Heroine in a white/blue kimono. Her Summon Magic often involves light.
- Lux and Leona from League of Legends fit this to a T, the former having light based skills while the latter has sun-symbolism.
- Palutena of Kid Icarus is the good goddesses of light. Her sister, in contrast, is the evil goddesses of darkness. The Hero of the game is also rather light aligned with his own antagonistic Shadow Archetype to deal with, though he is aided by a shady Anti-Hero.
- Boktai has the solar child Django and his solar enpowered gun.
- In StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm after Kerrigan kills General Warfield, a beam of light shines on her face as she calls the Swarm off, allowing his men to escape.
- Aurora, the titular Child of Light has light-elemental powers which she uses to fight the Queen of Darkness. She wears light yellow clothing and a completely white outfit at the end of the game.
- Stella from Winx Club gets her powers from the Sun (well, and the Moon, but mostly the Sun), and most of her attacks consist in casting beams of light. Despite her occasional selfishness, she cares a lot about her friends.
- Several cartoons from the eighties (Such as the original My Little Pony, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983),She-Ra: Princess of Power,The Carebears, SilverHawks and the original ThunderCats) tend to follow the pattern of Light is Good and Dark Is Evil. Though My Little Pony both then and now also contains examples of Dark Is Not Evil.
- The Toa of Light from the first BIONICLE Direct-to-Video movie, Mask of Light.
- And Mata Nui when he now wears the Mask of Life.
- Played with in Raava in The Legend of Korra. On the one hand, she is the spirit of light and peace, certainly better than Vaatu, and eventually fused with Wan to create the Avatar. On the other hand, she is also an example of Good Is Not Nice, given she has disdain against humans, to the point that she had to be convinced to work with a clearly repentant Wan. Her essence can also be used by malevolent people for their own purposes, like Unalaq, which is the first person seen to use light energy. Though the fact that he later only uses dark energy in his waterbending and Jinora uses light without a medium would fool you otherwise.
- In BIONICLE, every sentient character has a dark side and light side, representing of course good and evil. These could be tapped into, to obtain either light or shadow powers, and naturally, shadow is easier to master, and makes one corrupt. To those who have light or shadow powers from the get-go, obtaining the opposite "element" can prove difficult, since the two powers tend to cancel each other out. This is a mostly late development, however. While bad guys were since early associated with darkness, the light in Bionicle was originally more ambiguous and meant to be "special" rather than "good".
- The Transformers' god, Primus, is often referred to as the "Lord of Light", and the Matrix of Leadership is meant to "light our darkest hour."