[[quoteright:350:[[WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/lightning_reveal.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:[[BadassBoast I am Vengeance]], [[IAmTheNoun I am The Night]]. [[PunctuatedForEmphasis I. AM.]] [[Franchise/{{Batman}} BATMAN]]!]]

It's a [[ItWasADarkAndStormyNight dark and stormy night]]. The main character(s) are surrounded by darkness. [[AStormIsComing A sense of foreboding wavers in the air]], and the tension is so thick, a knife isn't fit to cut it, and you would instead require a heavy-duty [[ChainsawGood chainsaw]].

This is the perfect concoction for the EmpathicEnvironment to whip up a good old LightningReveal. There's something sinister lurking in the shadows that the character(s) and perhaps audience is unaware of until lightning strikes. In that flash of lightning something is revealed hence, well, the Lightning Reveal.

Bonus points if the flash is so quick, the audience/characters are unsure if they saw anything at all.

Compare DramaticThunder, StopMotionLighting, EmergingFromTheShadows, NaturalSpotlight.


[[folder:Anime And Manga]]
* In ''Manga/BlackButler: Book of Circus'' when Joker informs their patron about the circus newcomers (Ciel and Sebastian), [[spoiler:Baron Kelvin]] is [[TheReveal revealed]] to be [[spoiler:"Father"]] in this manner.
* Used in the anime version of ''Manga/{{Hellsing}}'' while half of Alucard's face is in shadow. The lightning flash reveals the other half to look like Vlad the Impaler when his opponent asks him who he really is.
* In ''Manga/DeathNote'', Light first sees Ryuk in this way.
* In ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'', TheReveal of [[spoiler:Tobi's ([[MindScrew not really]]) true identity, Madara Uchiha, as the real BigBad of the series]] is done this way.
** Also, in ''Shippuden'' [[NarmCharm chapter 167]], [[AssPull thunderclouds]] envelop the sky, and a large mass of the Kyuubi's chakra rains from the heavens as Naruto begins his transformation from a [[FourIsDeath 4-tailed]] to a never-before-seen [[NumberOfTheBeast 6-tailed]] fox form.
* UsefulNotes/OdaNobunaga in ''VideoGame/SengokuBasara'''s anime adaptation is so evil that, wherever he goes, glowing red thunderstorms follow. Naturally, he gets an introduction through LightningReveal, accompanied by OminousLatinChanting.
* In ''Anime/YuGiOh'', when Bakura appears [[BadassLongcoat wearing a black trench coat]] in front of Rex and Weevil, we get our first glimpse of his face (well, the first in a while) when lightning flashes.
* Used for erotic effect in chapter 25 of ''Manga/MysteriousGirlfriendX'', when Tsubaki sees Urabe naked for the first time.
* Unique usage of the trope in ''Manga/FairyTail'': in the Tenrou Island arc, as Master Hades has wiped the floor with our heroes and is about to finish Natsu off with his Bullet Magic, a bolt of lightning strikes in front of Hades and [[RideTheLightning coalesces]] into the shape of [[HeelFaceRevolvingDoor Laxus]] [[BigDamnHeroes Dreyar]], much to the unpleasant shock of Hades, and to the joyous relief of Team Natsu.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Done beautifully in book three of ''ComicBook/{{Bone}}'' when Fone Bone, Thorn and Gran'ma Ben are on the run from the rat creatures in the middle of a storm. Lighting flashes light up the otherwise pitch black backgrounds, giving brief glimpses of the rat creature horde closing in, as well as [[spoiler:when the Red Dragon appears and chases them away.]]

[[folder:Film - Animated]]
* Happens during the climax of ''Disney/TheLionKing'' when Simba reveals himself to Scar before the final confrontation. In the brief glimpse he gets, Scar mistakes Simba for his father at first.
-->'''Scar:''' Mufasa? No! You're dead!
* Used in ''Disney/{{Tarzan}}'' to show [[spoiler:[[Creator/BrianBlessed Clayton]]]]'s hanging corpse, in the form of a ShadowDiscretionShot. After Tarzan and [[spoiler:Clayton]] fall down from great height, there's a lightning flash and the audience gets to see, rendered in shadow, that [[spoiler:Clayton]] accidentally [[NooseCatch hanged himself on the vines]].
* Doesn't even involve darkness in ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda''. Master Shifu waits for Tai Lung on the stairs to the Jade Palace. DramaticThunder sounds and Shifu closes his eyes for a moment against the lightning. When he opens them, Tai Lung is standing before him having run up the thousand-odd steps without even appearing out of breath.
* In ''Disney/OneHundredAndOneDalmatians'', after Roger saves the fifteenth puppy from death, lighting crashes and everyone turns to the door to see Cruella standing in the doorframe.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheBookOfLife'', Manolo's [[spoiler:skeleton form]] is first revealed this way, just before he [[spoiler:asks Xibalba to kill him.]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/KuboAndTheTwoStrings'', during the battle between the Sister and Monkey on the boat, the former has suddenly disappeared but a lightning reveals her shadow behind the sail.

[[folder:Film - Live-Action]]
* In the second adaption of ''Film/LordOfTheFlies'', a lightning strike gives the viewer a better glimpse of Simon's bloody corpse in the water after Jack's tribe stabs him to death
* In the opening scene of ''Film/VanHelsing'', Dracula's demonic visage is briefly visible when lightning strikes.
* ''Franchise/FridayThe13th''
** When Jason kills Terri in ''[[Film/FridayThe13thTheFinalChapter The Final Chapter]]'', it is shown by [[ShadowDiscretionShot their shadows being cast on a wall]] due to a lightning strike.
** Lightning in ''[[Film/FridayThe13thPartVANewBeginning A New Beginning]]'' lits up Tommy's dark room, showing that it is filled with corpses.
** Jason is shown standing in a corner of a dark living room while David is passing it in ''[[Film/FridayThe13thPartVIITheNewBlood The New Blood]]'' as lightning strikes.
* Mixed with StealthHiBye in ''Film/HalloweenTheCurseOfMichaelMyers'' when Michael is stalking Jamie as she tries to hide from him in a barn.
* Seen with Casey's GuttedLikeAFish corpse in ''Film/{{Scream 1996}}''.
* Done for Godzilla during the HALO jump scene in ''Film/{{Godzilla 2014}}''.
* In ''Film/ColdInJuly'' (2014), a lightning flash reveals the villain in the child's bedroom.
* In the final moments of ''Film/TenCloverfieldLane'', when Michelle begins to drive towards Houston, a lightning flash reveals another, larger alien craft, patrolling the farmland near the road.
* When Brad and Janet are on the castle's doorstep in ''Film/TheRockyHorrorPictureShow'', a flash of lightning reveals a row of parked motorcycles. Implied to be the ones they saw emerge from a dead end a few minutes before.

* In ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles: Storm Front'', Morgan's appearance at the bar is revealed by lightning.
* In Creator/TerryPratchett's ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' novel ''Discworld/ReaperMan'', Death knows that his replacement is not going to arrive until midnight ''because he stood on a hill while lightning flashed.'' He reasons that someone who does that would not arrive at 11:55 if he could make a dramatic entrance at the stroke of midnight.
* In Lee Lightner's TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}} Literature/SpaceWolf novel ''Wolf' Honour'', when Ragnor and his company meet up with strange, wolf-like creatures, lightning flashes let them see the faces. (Much to Ragnor's horror. These creatures had [[DreamingOfThingsToCome haunted his dreams]].)
* Found in Creator/JRRTolkien's ''Literature/TheSilmarillion''. After being captured by Orcs, the hero Túrin accidentally kills his friend [[spoiler:Beleg]] whom he mistakes for an Orc coming to torture him (in reality, he was trying to free him). Túrin realizes his mistake immediately when a flash of lightning illuminates the scene.
* In Creator/DavidWeber's ''Literature/{{Safehold}}'' series, at one point the Royal Guard is desperately fighting assassins in the rain. One moment, there is one Guardsman standing. The next, there is a flash of lightning, a roll of thunder (from the wrong direction) and there are two... [[spoiler:One of them is a 24th Century RidiculouslyHumanRobot. Guess what happens next.]]
* Done in ''[[Literature/SeptimusHeap Queste]]'', where Tertius Fume's ghost reveals itself to the crowd in the Wizard Tower in a flash of lightning.
* In the Creator/HPLovecraft short story "The Lurking Fear", the first chapter ends with the narrator realizing that something other than one of his human companions was snuggled up to him on a cot in a reputedly haunted house when it gets up suddenly and a flash of lightning casts its shadow on the wall he's facing.
* After fumbling in a dark for a while, the unnamed protagonist in Creator/BramStoker's short story "Dracula's Guest" catches a glimpse on a vampire countess sleeping in her tomb due to it being momentarily illuminated by a lightning strike.
* Mad-Eye Moody's introduction in ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheGobletOfFire'' - not quite a reveal, since, from the perspective of the onlookers, the lightning silhouettes Moody rather than illuminating him, but still extremely dramatic.
* In ''[[{{Literature/Kane}} Darkness Weaves]]'' it is a dark and stormy night, as Arbas the Killer and young aristocrat Imel are waiting for Kane in his hiding place, an old crypt. The first glimpse that Imel gets of Kane is through lightning. And it is not a confidence-inspiring sight.
--> ...an extended burst of chain lightning split the midnight skies and threw a flickering bluish light on the figure just entering the crypt. Startled, Imel was unable to suppress a gasp at the sight of the looming cloaked figure silhouetted darkly against the lightning-blasted torrent.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* In ''Series/{{Smallville}}'', ''Escape'', [[spoiler:the silver banshee reveals its true form whenever lightning strikes]].
* Used brilliantly during the opening of an episode of ''Series/{{CSI}}'', showcasing the killer lurking in his victim's bedroom.
* Parodied in an episode of ''Series/{{Friends}}'' where Phoebe, suffering from chickenpox, is revealed to her long distance relationship boyfriend by a flash of lightning, causing him to jump. When she asks if she really looks that bad, he replies that he was just surprised by the lightning.
* Happens in an episode of ''Series/OnlyFoolsAndHorses'' where the trio are staying in Boycie's cottage. Of course, the escaped serial killer only gets shown when Del turns around, so the whole thing also ends up being a case of a CassandraTruth.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}''. When Castiel first meets our heroes, his claim to be an Angel of the Lord is disbelieved. A flash of lightning then throws the shadow of spreading angel wings on the wall behind him.

* According to Creator/WilliamGoldman's book ''The Season'', there was a Broadway play in 1967 called ''A Day in the Death of Joe Egg''. The show centers around the toll that taking care of a severely disabled daughter - a girl with cerebral palsy so bad she cannot even communicate - is taking on her parents. In one scene, the mother gives a despairing monologue, and at the end, there's a flash of lightning to show, just for an instant, [[spoiler:her daughter skipping rope like any normal child.]] (You can imagine it being both scary and [[TearJerker heartbreaking.]])

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Very common in horror games for a quick jump scare; like in ''VideoGame/AloneInTheDarkTheNewNightmare'', where a lightning flash in one of the outside areas shows a massive horde of ghoulish humans surrounding you for an instant.
* Occurs in the bonus case of ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney''. [[spoiler:Phoenix's current case revolves around a case two years prior that may have been subject to evidence tampering. The primary witness of the previous case recalls two men fighting during a blackout, but remembers one instant, during a lightning strike, where she saw one man about to stab the other.]]
* In ''VideoGame/JaggedAlliance 2'' troops may be revealed by lightning.
* Not natural lightning, but in ''VideoGame/TheLostCrown'', crackling energies from a mystic energy rift provide a similar Reveal of [[spoiler:Ganwulf's skeleton in his sarcophagus]].
* Done with "[[http://www.bogleech.com/aliensoldier/as-copter.gif Flying-Neo]]," one of the {{Mini Boss}}es in ''VideoGames/AlienSoldier''. Your character fights this [[NinjaPirateZombieRobot alien dragon zombie helicopter]] on the top of an airplane. Once you get it to about a [[TurnsRed quarter of its health]], it turns [[InvisibleMonsters invisible]]... only the background lightning will reveal its silhouette.
* The AttractMode for ''VideoGame/MarvelSuperHeroesVsStreetFighter'' shows off the fighters, ending with the final boss Apocalypse. The TrueFinalBoss ([[spoiler:Cyber Akuma]]) appears for a frame thanks to a lightning reveal.
* The ''VideoGames/ResidentEvil1'' remake does this well near the beginning. You're walking down a dark hallway when lightning crashes outside and illuminates the window at the end, making the silhouette of the zombie you didn't know was there finally visible.
* In ''VideoGame/MarkOfTheNinja'', this is flipped around. ''You'' always risk being seen by guards in the flash. However, [[AntiFrustrationFeatures to prevent nervous breakdowns]], the game takes an AcceptableBreakFromReality and makes the thunder sound ''before'' the lightning flash, so you can predict when it's coming and take action.
* A gameplay mechanic in the ''VideoGame/LuigisMansion'' segment of ''VideoGame/NintendoLand'' where the ghost is invisible to the other players, they can only sense the ghost through vibrations and can only see him if they shine a light on him, dealing damage. Every once in a while lightning will strike and illuminate some of the map, if the ghost is in that area they're perfectly visible. Skilled ghost players can make it seem like they're going another way then they are when the lightning strikes, or with a little luck, hide from the illuminated areas so when lightning strikes, the ghost hunters [[NothingIsScarier don't see anything.]] Impossible on the rooftop level which has no walls so the entire thing is illuminated when lightning strikes. Needless to say, winning as a ghost in this level takes a lot of skill.
* Downplayed in ''VideoGame/StarcraftIIHeartOfTheSwarm'' at the end of Kerrigan's transformation cinematic, which suddenly transitions to Arcturus' reflection in the window as he looks out on a storm on Korhal. The camera pans out, the cineatic ending just as a flash of lightning illuminates [[spoiler:part of the Xel'Naga artifact.]]
* If you happen to play ''VideoGame/{{Driveclub}}'' set at night with heavy weather and stormy clouds, you will barely see anything beyond you (or your rival's) headlights. However, thunders may appear from time to time to help you see for a split-second the track's layout... for the next few seconds.
* In the opening cutscene for ''[[Videogame/GhostsNGoblins Super Ghouls 'N' Ghosts]]'' three lightning strike illuminate three demons as they prepare for the attack on the princess' castle.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Happens in [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0199.html this strip]] of ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' with Miko's appearance, along with a lot of LampshadeHanging, as it is usual for this comic.
* ''Webcomic/KillroyAndTina'', a sadly unfinished webcomic from Justin "Webcomic/TheNonAdventuresOfWonderella" Pierce, has [[http://www.graphicsmash.com/comics/killroyandtina.php?name=killroyandtina&view=single&ID=5674 a scene]] with quite effective use of the trope.
* Subverted in ''Webcomic/{{Freefall}}''. A secondary character answers a knock on his door on a dark and stormy night (While watching a werewolf movie!) and sees a bipedal wolf with large fangs. She's got severe hypothermia and is going into shock from the gash on her leg.
* Used in ''Webcomic/ParallelDementia'' [[http://pd.milkinthepantry.com/?strip_id=115 here]] and then lampshaded by Visage.
* In ''Webcomic/NoRestForTheWicked'', [[http://www.forthewicked.net/archive/02-02.html the one bright panel when November's going through the storm]], and leads to her [[http://www.forthewicked.net/archive/02-03.html meeting Red during another one.]]
* In ''Webcomic/BobAndGeorge'', [[http://www.bobandgeorge.com/archives/001108c to underscore why Megaman was running -- turn the lights off for a panel so we can have this.]]
* Done in ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'' [[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20121019 here]]. It's not actually the lightning that that reveals the Baron's forces, and it's been raining for several strips at that point, but the lightning in the background looks appropriately dramatic.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Occurred in ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' "Treehouse of Horror V":
-->'''Marge:''' What he's typed will be a window into his madness. [reads it] "Feelin' fine." Woah! That's a relief.
-->''[lightning strikes, revealing "No TV and no beer make Homer go crazy" [[RoomFullOfCrazy scribbled all over the walls]]]''
-->'''Marge:''' Mmm... this is less encouraging.
* ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' plays with this in the episode where the kids find the money clip, showing them in different fighting positions and at one point, suddenly dressed in prim period clothing.
* The opening theme to ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries''. Batman fights crooks in darkness, and the police wonder who it could be. The theme ends with the crooks tied up and a silhouette of Batman, standing on the roof of a building. A flash of lightning confirms his presence, before he disappears. Take a look at the opening, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEx9r5enZsk it's pretty awesome]].
** In the first part of ''"Two-Face,"'' Harvey Dent is sitting in the psychiatrist's office, discussing his mental problems, with his FaceFramedInShadow. Suddenly, lightning strikes, and the dark half of his face lights up... [[{{Foreshadowing}} as Two Face]].
* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanUnderTheRedHood''. When the Red Hood does a DramaticUnmask, a flash of lighting appears to make him change from his current cocky self, [[spoiler:to the bruised and battered Jason we saw being murdered by the Joker at the start of the movie.]]
* {{Subverted|Trope}} in one scene from ''[[ComicStrip/TheFarSide Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side.]]'' In a dark, candlelit room a woman walks up to a man with his arms out; they embrace and start slow waltzing to Patsy Cline's [[{{Foreshadowing}} "Crazy."]] As they spin throughout the room, lightning keeps flashing, revealing all sorts of [[PrimalFear large dangerous predators]] surrounding them ready to tear them to pieces... [[RecordNeedleScratch Suddenly the lights come on]] and policemen pour into the room [[spoiler:[[BaitAndSwitch whereupon they grab and handcuff the woman]] then pull her away from the man who is revealed to be frozen in the arms out position and standing on a little board with wheels. As the woman is led out of the building, [[TheReveal we see]] the sign [[TaxidermyIsCreepy 'Bob's]] [[TaxidermyTerror Taxidermy']] over the door.]]
%% ** [[RepetitiveAudioGlitch Crazy for/Crazy for/]][[MadnessMantra Crazy for/Crazy]]
* In the TV special ''WesternAnimation/MrMagoo's [[YetAnotherChristmasCarol Christmas Carol]]'', this is how Ebenezer Scrooge, played by Mr. Magoo, sees his name on the gravestone in the cemetery scene.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Tornadoes at nighttime can sometimes fall under this trope. A flash of lightning can sometimes illuminate an otherwise invisible funnel cloud or debris circulation, and storm spotters are trained to look on the horizon and under cloud bases for something that is not lightning but might be confused for it and that is far more indicative of tornado danger - power flashes ''from the tornado itself'' snapping power lines and blowing transformers.