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Total Eclipse of the Plot
Okay, who shot up the Moon?

A Solar Eclipse is when the moon passes in between the Earth and the Sun. Sometimes it can have a strange effect on people. It makes them do things they normally wouldn't do. Gee, I hope our pals in Magicland are doing okay...

Eclipses are inherently dramatic. That's why they're often used in fiction to punctuate dramatic events, or as a major plot element. They frequently mark something supernatural or magical in nature, even if the eclipse itself is a normal event.

In Fictionland (unlike Real Life), the period of partial eclipse leading up to the complete obscurity of the sun (or moon) happens in minutes if not seconds, while the total eclipse lasts however long it darn well pleases. (Justified for places with smaller suns and/or bigger moons, although this is rarely addressed and opens further questions.) Alternately, the story can play the time straight and create a Race Against the Clock scenario when there's something that must be done during the eclipse (and there always is).

Also, solar eclipses only completely block out the light in one relatively small area and the light reduction gets less pronounced the further away from the center of the eclipse, but in fiction tend to block out the sun completely wherever they happen to be. Lunar eclipses, on the other hand, can be seen anywhere on the nightside of the earth, but aren't nearly as dramatic since it's just a full moon with a red tint for a few hours (though a "blood moon" is often used in werewolf fiction).

See also Convenient Eclipse. When something earthbound and much smaller casts a shadow on a plot-relevant location, that's Sundial Waypoint. Should not be confused with Plot Tumor, when a lesser subplot eclipses the main plot.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • In the finale of Digimon Adventure, the gate back to Earth from the Digital World took the form of a solar eclipse which lasted only two hours before closing/ending, necessitating that the Chosen Children quickly say their goodbyes to their mons and return home lest they risk never being able to return home or potentially being wiped as anomalies in the restoration of the Digital World.
  • In the fourth season of Sailor Moon, The Dead Moon Circus arrives on Earth from their nightmare dimension through a solar eclipse. Later, when the Dead Moon's leader Queen Nehelenia, breaks free of her magic mirror prison and temporary takes over the world, her evil magic powers caused a permanent solar eclipse that covers the entire world in darkness that would not disappear until after Nehelenia had been sealed away again by Sailor Moon.
  • InuYasha: The anime decided to make Inuyasha be born during a lunar eclipse for the third film Swords of an Honorable Ruler. The manga itself never tells us anything about when Inuyasha was born.
  • Every 216 years in the Berserk universe, an eclipse marks the birth of a new member of the Godhand. When it happens in the series, it marks the end of the Golden Age arc of the manga (and the end of the anime) and is the point where things turn from grim and gritty medievalesque Low Fantasy to straight up demonic horror, as Griffith, one of the three principal characters, goes bad in a big way and sacrifices the Band of the Hawk to become the fifth member of the Godhand. Everything goes straight to hell for Guts and his True Companions as a direct result of Griffith's actions.
  • In Saint Seiya, the God of the Underworld, Hades, aligns all the celestial bodies in the Solar System in order to bring about the Final Eclipse, which will result in The Night That Never Ends.
  • The solar eclipse in Umi Monogatari takes quite a bit longer than expected, which is even lampshaded by the people watching it. It also signifies a turn to a much darker mood in the series.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, there's a solar eclipse during the Grand Finale. This may have something to do with the alchemical symbolism related to the Sun and Moon (and the Sun being devoured). The fandom has taken to calling this "The Eclipse" in reference to Berserk, since it turns out to be critical to Father's plan. And Hohenheim's. Specifically, using the Umbra AS A TRANSMUTATION CIRCLE.
  • Pokémon:
  • Nurse Angel Ririka SOS aired during a year when a partial solar eclipse occurred in Japan, and eclipses get mentioned in a couple of episodes. The main example is episode 16, where it's used to symbolize the heroine's mental state.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!s Ultimate Evil and last Big Bad, Zorc, whose is more or less the Physical God embodiment of the Shadow Realm and desires to drown the world in eternal darkness, becomes nigh-invincible once he invokes The Night That Never Ends via a unnatural solar eclipse, which lasts for the better part of an hour as he curbstomps the Egyptian God Card monsters and the Blue-Eyes White Dragon, and subsequentially wrecks havoc virtually unopposed through the capital of Ancient Egypt, before being stalled by Kaiba and his Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon, and is ultimately defeated after the heroes finally manage to summon the Yugiohverse's Ancient Egyptian God of Good and Zorc's antithesis, Horakhty, after which the abnormal eclipse dispells.
  • In The Vision of Escaflowne, the Earth itself, known as the Mystic Moon, moves in front of the Sun during Millerna and Dryden's wedding. It appears to be a consequence of the luck enhancement that Naria and Eriya receive, but it's actually a result of Hitomi abusing her prophetic/destiny-altering powers. The animators actually missed an excellent opportunity here. The Earth is surrounded by a blue halo during the eclipse, but it would actually appear red; perfect for the Curb-Stomp Battle that takes place.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU has the villain Eclipso. At first, a villain who only came out of his host's body during an eclipse, he has far surpassed that. And back in those days, the host quite sensibly tried to avoid being around when there was any kind of eclipse. You'd think that with an almanac and a modest travel budget, that wouldn't be hard, but he seemed to be really bad at it.
  • When Tintin and friends are due to be executed by the Inca, he requests they do it on a certain day: the day of an eclipse, when he appeals to the sun to spare them. It convinces the Inca.
  • Leetah in ElfQuest has a phobia of eclipses - and it later turns out that her long-time suitor Rayek was born during an eclipse, which might explain why they've always had such a troubled relationship. Interestingly enough, the eclipse that surrounded Rayek's birth was considered a good omen by the elves, who had been experiencing a years-long drought and were glad of the brief respite from the sun's heat. The interpretation was that Rayek would grow up to become a tribal protector, interposing himself between them and danger the way the moon interposed itself between the village and the harsh sun.

    Fanworks 
  • Friendship is Witchcraft features an episode centering on the cult waiting for an eclipse to summon a world-destroying beast.
  • Drives the plot for A Total Eclipse Of The Fun within the Triptych Continuum. The story begins when Luna decides that the only thing she wants to celebrate the second anniversary of her Return is a total solar eclipse. Given the cycle of Sun and Moon in Equestria, this can't happen unless the sisters deliberately arrange it, as the two celestial bodies are otherwise never in the sky at the same time. (In this setting, eclipses are effectively an artifact from the era of Discord, one which only Celestia and Luna remember.) Parts of the public don't take too well to the concept since, you know, they're bringing back something from the age of Discord which blocks out the Sun.
  • The Stars Will Aid Their Escape: The plot just happens to coincide with the first solar eclipse since Luna's return from banishment. Naturally, it ends up being crucial to Herald's plans, as not only is it a component of the alignment required to release the Outer Gods, but it also leaves both Princesses weakened enough for him to banish them outside reality.

    Film 
  • Pitch Black. The prolonged eclipse allows the light-fearing monsters free rein to attack the heroes. Possibly justified since the occluding body is not the Earth's moon, but a nearby gas giant several times larger than the planet the protagonists are on. How long the eclipse ultimately lasts is unclear, but the characters conclude that it will last too long for them to wait it out.
  • The Disney movie The Watcher in the Woods has an important backstory revolving around a solar eclipse, and its recurrance triggers the current events.
    • In this movie, and others such as the Esperanto-language Incubus, everyone is surprised by the eclipse, when in real life the site would be crawling with astronomers and tourists who’d known about it years in advance.
  • In Apocalypto, a solar eclipse occurs while Jaguar Paw is on the sacrificial altar. It saves his life, as the priest interprets the eclipse as a sign that the gods' thirst for blood is sated. This eclipse is followed that very night by a full moon.
  • Audrey II appears out of nowhere during a total eclipse of the sun in Little Shop of Horrors.
  • Ladyhawke got an eclipse that allowed the titular bird/woman and her wolf/man lover to be together rather than for those few moments at dawn and dusk when each was changing shape. It is standing together like this before the evil bishop that cursed them that ultimately breaks their curse. Though this "eclipse" occurs the day after a full moon (which would be impossible since solar eclipses can only take place at New Moon). Either the writers fail astronomy forever, or it really was supposed to be a miracle.
  • Also happened in another 80's fantasy film, Dragonslayer, tho there it was more due to the Rule of Cool than anything else.
  • The "Rite of Spring" segment of Fantasia ends with a devastating earthquake (accompanied by new mountains forming) occurring during a solar eclipse.
  • Tomb Raider. The Big Bad's plan involves an astronomical conjunction of every planet in the solar system, which also includes a solar eclipse.
  • Dragonball Evolution: "We have to get the Dragon Balls before the eclipse." The very words that made the internet go "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!"
  • A solar eclipse that was briefly mentioned in the beginning of the film makes a bad situation even worse in From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money.
  • In the British science fiction disaster movie The Day The Earth Caught Fire a total eclipse of the sun occurs over London when it isn't supposed to. This is one of the first indications that the Earth has been knocked off course by nuclear testing.

    Literature 
  • Isaac Asimov's Nightfall. Its setting is a world with 6 suns, whose inhabitants have never known darkness of any kind, as there is always at least one sun visible at any given moment. Characters use 'godlights' in their rooms to keep them lit even while they sleep, and subjecting anyone to darkness causes a severe psychological reaction. When a once-in-2049-years eclipse occurs and plunges their world in darkness, the vast majority go completely bonkers.
  • An eclipse happens in the second Nightrunner book. It was a prophetic event and did indeed last a curiously long time.
  • The title character in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court uses foreknowledge of an eclipse to convince the medieval denizens that he has supernatural abilities.
  • The Heralds of Valdemar novel The White Gryphon introduces the Heighlei, an incredibly rule-bound society that only allows large-scale societal changes once every 20 years, during a solar eclipse. It provides the Race Against Time when the protagonists are framed for murder: they must clear their names before the eclipse to ally with the Heighlei.
  • A total eclipse of the moon happens at the climax of H.P. Lovecraft's short story, The Other Gods along with a rumble of thunder from a clear sky, when Barzai the Wise attempts to see the gods of the Earth with his own eyes. He failed to take the other Gods into the consideration, and was never seen again. The implication was that it wasn't Earth's shadow hiding the moon as usual, but something humongous and otherworldly coming to punish Barzai for his transgression...
  • Stephen King's novels Gerald's Game and Dolores Claiborne are linked via an eclipse (the solar eclipse of July 20, 1963, which happened in real life). They were originally conceived as a single volume.
  • The medieval legends of Saint Olaf, as found in, among other versions, Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla, state that a solar eclipse occurred immediately after Olaf's death in the Battle of Stiklestad, Norway 1030 AD (certainly a divine lampshading of Olaf's holiness). Since astronomy tells that a near-total solar eclipse happened only a month after the traditional date of the battle, this is in all likelihood only a pious swindle.
  • In Star Trek: Articles of the Federation, it's revealed that to the dominant native religion of Lembatta Prime, a solar eclipse is a sacred event. The planet shuts down entirely during an eclipse, forcing Federation President Bacco to postpone her state visit.
  • In Sunwing, the second book in the Silverwing series, the entire plot revolves around Big Bad Goth attempting to bring his god/Bigger Bad Cama Zotz into the world by sacrificing 100 creatures during a solar eclipse. The final battle becomes more about the heroes trying to free as many of captives as possible to avoid this.
  • The Strain has an eclipse over New York City that last for about ten minutes, which allows the vampires to move about the city undetected.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Heroes, the characters' powers were retconned came about after an eclipse, and were taken away temporarily during another eclipse, one that lasted hours. The eclipse also covered the entire planet the first time, and did the second time as well. It's strange when Peter in New York saw the eclipse at the same time as Claire in Texas, but it's downright stupid that Hiro, who's in Japan sees it at the same time as well.
  • In Eastenders, a couple have their wedding at the moment of the eclipse. Particularly jarring as it was set around the event of a real eclipse (but filmed beforehand) and the one on TV was much better than the real one due to bad weather.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the mayor ascends at the moment of eclipse. This allows his vampires to come attack the students as well. Although the eclipse was a magical effect brought on by the mayor's transformation rather than a natural event, which could explain some of the oddities.
  • On Angel The Beast also used a ritual to cover the sun with magical darkness. The effect only extended to Los Angeles, though it would have spread if they hadn't managed to undo it. And made LA a prime vacation spot for vampires as long as it lasted.
  • In Kamen Rider Black, the hero and his fated antagonist were both born during a solar eclipse, leading the evil organization Gorgom to groom them into the prophesied Century King. The baddies even refer to Kamen Rider Black as "Black Sun" and his evil counterpart as "Shadow Moon," highlighting this origin.
    • Eclipses as an origin crop up again in the 2012/2013 entry in the franchise, Kamen Rider Wizard. Specifically, a magical ritual during a solar eclipse led to the creation of the villains as well as of Wizard himself.
  • During the Green Ranger arc of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Rita uses her magic to cause a total solar eclipse. This cuts the solar-powered Megazord off from its power source, weakening it to the point where her agents can defeat it (Until it gets repaired in time for the finale). Given that this was fairly early in the first season, one has to wonder why she never tried to do this again, or send monsters down on new moon nights, when there would be no sun or even moonlight to power the ranger's mecha. Still, even weakened like that, it took the combined power of Goldar, Scorpina, and the Green Ranger grown to giant size to defeat the Megazord, and they didn't wreck it, they just split it and enabled Rita to trap the Zords. Also when Master Vile pulled a similar trick later, Alpha and Zordon were able to use the Command Center to break the spell. Rita was only able to get away with it on this occasion because the Green Ranger had cut the Rangers off from Zordon. The real-world reason is that good night-fight scenes were tricky and expensive to shoot at the time.
  • In Tensou Sentai Goseiger, Brajira intends to carry out the final stage of his plan during a solar eclipse since that is when the Earth's defences are at their weakest.
  • On Sleepy Hollow, an eclipse marks the rising of the Horseman of War. As well as the present day anniversary of when said rising.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Exalted, the celestial bodies are the earthly representations of the major gods of the setting, and their movements are completely under their control. Accordingly, astrology has real power, and significant events in Creation are often accompanied by unusual celestial occurrences. Solar eclipses in particular are auspicious omens, as "the Unconquered Sun and Luna become one, and the day dims sufficiently to reveal the Five Maidens. At this moment, the unity of heaven is revealed for all to see." The opening of the Jade Prison was accompanied by the first eclipse in over two thousand years, ever since the Usurpation.
  • One of the lesser-known Dragonlance novels featured a multiple eclipse of Krynn's moons. White Solinari, red Lunitari, and black Nuitari lined up to form a big bullseye in the sky. A conjunction of two or all three of Krynn's moons is a part of the Dragon Lance campaign world, being a major power boost for wizards.
  • In Scion, an interesting effect can be achieved by combining one of the highest abilities of the Sun and Moon domains (not necessarily from the same person). Both have the ability to pluck a small copy of their respective celestial body out of the sky, and then save it for later - the Sun can be used to create a sun-crown that absorbs energy-based attacks, while the moon creates a rapidly-moving disc that blocks projectile-attacks. If a single person activates both of those effects, they combine to form the awesome-looking 'Eclipse Crown', granting both bonuses with an added boost.
  • In Dark Heresy the Tyrant Star sometimes appears like this(though whether it is just eclipsing the sun, replacing it or if it is all just a hallucination is left up to the GM). Bad things happen when it does.

    Video Games 
  • In Diablo II, a sudden unexplained eclipse turns out to have been caused by evil magic, and the heroes undertake a quest to destroy the spell at its source. Once this is done, daylight returns instantly.
  • The last act of Ōkami takes place during the Day of Darkness —a solar eclipse that will last forever if the Sun Goddess Amaterasu falls to the Lord of Eternal Darkness.
  • The backstory and Final Boss of Romancing SaGa 3 relies on the Death Eclipse, an event that occurs once every 300 years. Those that survive the event are taken to The Abyss, where the Four Devil Lords and The Destroyer awaits, who will then proceed to destroy the world no matter the outcome of the battle (even though winning gives the heroes the chance to re-create it all).
  • In Terraria, an Eclipse is one of the most dangerous phenomenons, changing the usually chipper music with an oppressing organ melody and forcing you to spend a whole day battling or escaping from large throngs of powerful night creatures such as vampires and mudmen.
  • Eclipses have been plot-relevant events in the Castlevania series:
  • At the climax of The Darkness, a solar eclipse covers the city in darkness, not only allowing you to access your darkness-based powers in the middle of the day, but also apparently supercharging them. The eclipse is unrealistically long, but at least had the good grace to start slow - it actually takes several minutes from the point where it starts to show, and until the eclipse becomes complete.
  • The classic platformer Heart of Darkness kicks off the plot with a solar eclipse, which opens a portal into a dark dimension, allowing evil entities to reach through and kidnap... the boy hero's dog. Good thing he had an interdimensional spaceship and a home-made plasma-cannon stashed in his treehouse...
  • Two-thirds of the way through Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, a piece of forbidden (but unavoidable) Magitek triggers the Grave Eclipse, an event that covers half of Angara in shadows where superpowered monsters roam freely, and Anyone Can Die, even the resident Badass Normal. Your goal for the last part of the game is to dispel the unnatural Eclipse.
  • Total Eclipse, the last-but-one Freescape game, has (as its title suggests) a total solar eclipse as the driver of its plot. It features a pyramid dedicated to sun-god Re, with a curse upon it; if the chamber at the apex is obscured from sunlight during the day, the Moon will explode — unless the curse can be broken before this happens...
  • In Sonic Riders, a solar eclipse opens a chasm in the sands and creates the Dark Desert racetrack. The eclipse will last however long it takes for the race to finish.
  • In Super Street Fighter IV There is a selectable stage that places the fighters in Africa during a solar eclipse, however, the Eclipse comes, lasts for a few moments, and then passes as the fighters toss Hadoukens and Shoryukens at each other. And is only there to look pretty.
  • The climax of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil has Reimu facing off against Remilia Scarlet on the night of the Scarlet Moon, a lunar eclipse that has turned the full moon blood-red, when Remilia's power is at its peak.
  • In Infernal, there's a special once-a-millennium kind of eclipse which is the only time that God isn't watching what happens on Earth. One of the villains is an angel who want to use this window of opportunity to "correct" The Evils of Free Will, brainwashing humanity into being good while the Creator isn't looking.
  • In Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes, the Battle of Sekigahara, which is generally the climatic battle of many characters' storylines, is represented by an eclipse. This is because the leaders of the Tokugawa and the Ishida armies, Ieyasu and Mitsunari, are represented by the sun and the moon in-game.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • "The Ascension" in lonelygirl15 took place on the day of an eclipse, for implied religious reasons.
  • Justified in Mall Fight, as the eclipse that occured at Xandus' reappearance wasn't natural.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the main characters use the Day of Black Sun to attack the Fire Nation. Also, a lunar eclipse had been utilized by the Fire Nation to attack the Northern Water Tribe. In explanation, Firebenders are powered by the sun, and Waterbenders by the moon; an eclipse of their respective heavenly body leaves them powerless. The lunar eclipse was artificially induced by the temporary death of the Moon Spirit. The solar eclipse only lasted about 8 minutes, providing an unusually realistic interpretation. Their world is much smaller than ours, so it's not inconceivable that it could cover a large portion of the world quite well.
  • Darkwing Duck parodied the scene in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court described below in a Time Travel episode. Darkwing attempts to use foreknowledge of an eclipse to terrify the locals by pretending to block out the sun, but the eclipse he's predicting doesn't occur until the day after he makes the threat, and so ends up stalling for 24 hours until his "magic" pays off.
  • DuckTales: In the episode "Allowance Day".Having perpetrated a Zany Scheme that has inadvertently convinced the whole world that the date is one day ahead, Huey, Dewey and Louie use an eclipse predicted by their almanac to set the record straight. note 
  • There was a Looney Tunes TV Special titled Bugs Bunny in King Arthur's Court where Bugs Bunny traveled back to medieval times and got out of a pickle by declaring he would put the sun out just before an eclipse occurred. He was suddenly worshiped as a powerful God, being from the future he knew an eclipse was about to occur at that moment (it was still AWFULLY convenient for him).
  • In The Simpsons episode Marge vs. the Monorail, the runaway Monorail (which is solar-powered) halts briefly due to a total solar eclipse which nobody realised/remembered was due in Springfield that day — only to start up again as the eclipse passes totality. This is realistically portrayed as taking under a minute (real-life solar eclipses can last any time from an eyeblink to (under the most favourable circumstances) about 7-8 minutes).
    • A man-made eclipse occurs in "Who Shot Mr. Burns?".
  • Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures has an episode that's aptly-titled "Eclipse." The plot revolves around a lunar eclipse that happens every 50 years: a succubus-type monster disguised as a beautiful woman has only the duration of the eclipse to absorb the Life Energy of another young woman and keep itself alive until the next eclipse. When the monster chooses Jessie as its next victim and enthralls Hadji to get her, it's up to Jonny to come in and save the day.
  • Men In Black: The Series had shadow aliens attempt to lock the moon in position for an eternal eclipse. Astronomy failing aside, they at least made a normal eclipse only last a few minutes.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The End": Through a complicated series of events, Gumball and Darwin are convinced that an upcoming solar eclipse means the end of the world. The actual event proves to be a little underwhelming.
    Moon: Ooh, you've just been mooned!
    Sun: What is wrong with that guy?
  • An episode of Kassai And Leuk had an eclipse happen at a moment when the party was relying on Marana's sun-triggered gazelle form.
  • In the Power Puff Girls episode "Boogie Frights", the Boogie Man blocks out the sun with a giant disco ball, and the girls have to destroy it Death Star style.
  • At the very beginning of the first episode of Samurai Jack, an eclipse is what frees Aku from his prison, setting the series' events in motion.
  • The powers of Queen Angella from She-Ra: Princess of Power were tied to moonlight, which is why a couple of lunar eclipses proved to be a serious problem requiring She-Ra to either speed up time or drag the moon out of the shadow.
  • In The Smurfs cartoon show special "My Smurfy Valentine", Chlorhydris the witch must find a special cat that would unlock the power of a magic wishing well during a rare solar eclipse on Valentine's Day that happens only once every 1000 years.
  • In Detentionaire, the mysterious pyramid underneath the school can only be opened during the eclipse. The Council has plans to artificially re-create the eclipse, since their plans were messed up the first time they tried them.


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Prophet EyesImageSource/Live-Action TVThe Hills

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