The Moon. Our planet's only natural companion, the brightest object in the night sky; worshipped as a deity by countless cultures; inspiration of poets, lovers, lunatics, and werewolves.
Depictions of the moon in fiction vary, and it can behave rather ... oddly.
Size and shape
The moon is shown much, much larger than it appears to the naked eye in Real Life — often filling half the sky, with such detail where you can identify individual craters and canyons. In Real Life the moon is about the size or your little fingernail at arm's length (even when it appears larger at the horizon); while certain Science Fiction or Fantasy settings may indeed have larger moons than Earth's, "huge moon" shots are usually the result of special effects, such as using a high-powered telephoto lens to shoot the scene from a large distance, making the moon appear comparatively larger to the subject due to perspective distortion. (If you want to get a grasp for how far away the moon really is, go take a look at the picture on the Conveniently Close Planet page.)
The crescent moon is often depicted in a stylized, unrealistic manner with the horns of the crescent extending an average of three-quarters of a circle. (In Real Life, they always end at opposite ends of a diameter). Likewise, the inner (dark) part of the crescent is often circular in shape (which in Real Life only occurs if something eclipses the moon).
The crescent can sometimes point incorrectly for the hemisphere it's observed from, i.e. contrary to the position of the sun.
There can be objects (such as stars) visible inside the crescent; in Real Life this can only occur if there's something on the moon's surface emitting light, or if something else is between the moon and viewer. Or, you know, if something shot a huge chunk out of it.
If the characters actually realize this, it usually becomes an important plot point.
The moon's lunar phases always seem to coincide with important plot moments. For example, when The Hero and heroine have won the day, expect a full moon that night so they can sit back and enjoy the romantic mood lighting it casts upon them. The same goes for the Melancholy Moon upon which characters sit and wistfully ruminate upon.
The moon is never shown during its "gibbous" (more than half-full) phase, and rarely shown in its "half" phase — it's always either a crescent moon or full moon. The only times these other phases are shown is if the lunar cycle plays an actual role in the setting (e.g. a gameplay mechanic in Video Games), and even then these other phases are little more than lead-up to the next full moon. In video games, it's also possible for new moon can go to a quarter moon with one night.
A "full moon" can last for three or four nights on the trot — extra time for that Wolf Man to go rampaging! (Perhaps the "mostly full" nights are full enough?)
Moonrise and moonset always coincide with sunset and sunrise, where in Real Life, moonrise and moonset vary by phase: a "first quarter" moon is easily visible when it rises at midday, while the "new moon" isn't visible because it rises at roughly the same time as the sun. Even a full moon is often visible entering the horizon even as the sun is still leaving it.
The "points" of the crescent moon are often seen pointing down.
The time of moonrise (or moonset) doesn't match the moon's phase. For example, a waxing crescent moon might rise before sunrise, or a full moon might set at midnight.
Eclipses and phenomena
Solar eclipses can occur during any phase of the moon and are always total eclipses, never partial. In Real Life a solar eclipse can only occur during a new moon, when the moon and sun are in relatively close proximity in the sky. During the actual eclipse, the moon will slowly move to obscure the sun, then slow its orbit and block out the sun for however long the plot requires (sometimes entire days) before moving on.
Its opposite, the lunar eclipse, either does not exist or is an explicit sign of evil forces at work.
In space, you will sometimes see a full moon and the sun simultaneously in the background. Since the sun would have to be behind the moon to get both in shot, the side you see should be dark.
Relatedly, the full moon and Venus can never be near each other in the sky.
Presuming the moon and the atmosphere are even vaguely like Earth's, no part of the moon can be darker than the surrounding sky. (The sky is light-blue-in-front-of-black-space; therefore even the blackest parts of the moon will be light-blue-in-front-of-black-moon.)
And one can apparently walk about on it without being affected by gravity changes or the need for any protective/breathing gear whatsoever.
The nostrils of the nose are actually caves that you can go into and explore.
Did we mention the breathable atmosphere? Because it's inside ours? And reachable by magic blimp? It also lost a tooth.
By the manga's end, it ends up even weirder:the covering of Black Blood used to seal Asura, which engulfs all of the surface but the moon's eye and takes a spherical shape, has resulted in the moon constantly having the appearance of an enormous disembodied breast!
In Rebuild of Evangelion, the moon has a visible splatter of blood on it (perhaps a Shout-Out to the fate of the moon during End of Evangelion), as well as giant coffins in which the Angels sleep until they descend to earth in order to make their attack. SEELE also has a base on it.
The moon is huge in the original Neon Genesis Evangelion show too. In Episode 6, for example, it is shown much bigger than Rei's body.
In End of Evangelion it also seems to be unnaturally close to Earth in the scenes where giant Rei looms over the planet with the Moon right above her. Though considering the measurements given slightly earlier, it seems that the animators overestimated Earth's relative size as far larger than it actually is, rather than the distance between the two bodies.
In Bleach, Kubo Tite seems to like drawing crescent moons by the tried and true method of drawing a dark circle touching a bigger white circle from the inside. And it is always crescent moons in Bleach.
Also, in Hueco Mundo, the moon seems to be flipped. It's always night there, and the moon is always a crescent.
The moon in ef - a tale of memories is huge. It also has the points of the crescent meet at one end, which is impossible—and then there are the scenes where it seems to be a two-dimensional object glued to the night sky.
You could get a similar view (points of the crescent meeting) by viewing the earth from the moon during a solar eclipse, though...
In Gankutsuou, the surface of the moon resembles a huge and ominous skull. Strangely enough, no-one ever wonders about it (though seeing the wealth and weird tastes of the upper classes, it's entirely possible that the moon was deliberately modified to look like this from the Earth).
More curiously, it looks the same no matter what angle it's being viewed from; the same skull appears in scenes that feature Earth and the moon together, even though what we see ought to be the dark side.
InuYasha is really bad with this. Essentially, the moon is always full, except when the plot calls for a new moon (which causes the title character to lose his demonic powers).
In Kurau Phantom Memory, the full moon looks awfully huge behind the flying silhouettes of Kurau and later Christmas, although it makes for lovely E.T.-like scenery, emphasizing the lonely mood. The moon looks weird anyway since it has been terraformed.
The last scene of Madlax has two moons, one red and one blue, overlapping each other; this is symbolic of either Margaret and Madlax, Madlax and Limelda, or Limelda and Vanessa (the finale is...complicated).
Throughout the series, the moon is either red or blue, and in one case two characters simultaneously see it as different colours. In the Sanctuary, there are always two moons (one red, one blue).
The Moon was full throughout the entire season of Mai-HiME. Granted that there was probably sometime between, but this may have been just so that it could be used as a comparison for the approaching HiME Star.
For examples of the over-extended crescent, look no further than Sailor Moon.
The god Hades in Saint Seiya summons the Final Eclipse, which magically aligns all planets and all moons to cover Earth in perpetual darkness. If he had had his way, it would have lasted all eternity.
In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, there's a three-week period when the moon is about to crash into the Earth. For the entire time, the moon was always visible and full in the sky. Justified in that it turns out that the moon is a huge battleship/mecha called "Cathedral Terra". The real moon was apparently hidden away in another dimension, and was pulled out of said dimension by the protagonists after the Colony Drop had been averted.
Also, most of the population of the world (and thus the view point) is in a relatively small area.
In Wolf's Rain the moon turns blood-red, portending the end of the world. And its rebirth.
In the anime version of Vision of Escaflowne the Moon and the Earth, cast in the role of the "Mystic Moon," display this trope, despite technically not being true moons.
In Miyazaki's Ponyo, the moon comes so close to earth it appears huge.
In Spirited Away the moon changes a lot faster than normal which makes sense when it's revealed a lot of time has passed since Chihiro's family got trapped in the other world.
The Hellsing OVAs show a moon that, in one scene, is so big that the bottom 15% or so half fills a row of windows about ten meters across. To get that kind of size with a real camera, you'd need a lens with a focal length measured in meters, and you'd have to photograph the (indoor) scene from a couple kilometers away. Not only that, there is almost always a blood moon when there is a plot point, such as the night Seras Victoria was transformed into a vampire or when Walter informed Alucard that he would be heading to Brazil. Also, it is always a full moon; it appears to have no other phases.
Animation studio Bee Train has a particular affinity for weird moons. As mentioned above in Madlax they have used the moon many more times in different series.
.hack//SIGN: Acceptable giving the series takes place majorly in a virtual world.
Avenger: The abnormally large red Moon that can be seen from Mars is actually the same Moon that once normally existed exclusively as planet Earth's only natural satellite. After the natural catastrophe that took place on Earth, the Moon's orbital trajectory was deeply affected due too an excessive approximation between Earth and Mars. Consequently, the Moon now plays an important role in the gravitational field between both planets. The drastic approximation between the Moon and planet Mars often originates Lunar Storms, a phenomenon created by a large fluctuation affecting the surface of Mars, which is one of the main reasons why life outside Dome Cities is considered very harsh to a normal human being. The Moon is especially red in color probably due to the excessive proximity to Mars' atmosphere, therefore reflecting the dominant tonality on the planet's surface.
Continuing with the red weirdness trend their anime adaptation of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle the moon turns red during the Ashura Country Arc which is where an other clan's base is also stationed. Taking place in an alternate universe also acceptable break from reality
Murder Princess also features a red moon in the opening titles. The moon is also lush and full a great majority of the time.
In Fullmetal Alchemist, Hohenheim tries to counter Father's Nationwide Transmutation Circle by drawing his own transmutation circle on the shadow of the moon. In real life, however, the moon during an eclipse doesn't leave such a nice defined shadow, such as seen here◊.
In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, both Meakashi and Tsumihoroboshi climax on 25 June 1983, and the full moon shown is actually correct for that date. The flashbacks in Meakashi also get the moon's phase right just often enough that you wonder whether it's deliberate. But in the second season they stopped caring: the moon is full whenever it's shown, over a period of two weeks.
A chapter of Naruto, in what's probably an art error rather than deliberate liberty, had a moon that appeared to have part of a cloud behind it.
It was also said in legend that the Rikudo Sage created the Moon by catching the Juubi's corpse inside a large Chibaku Tensei before tossing the earthen ball to the sky.
In Sangatsu No Lion, a crescent moon with over-extended horns serve as the backdrop for one of Rei's flashbacks. Specifically, it serves as Gotou's backdrop to emphasis his maliciousness as he beats up Rei.
Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water episode 26 (in the middle of the series' notorious Filler arc) has a crescent moon, which is then seen through a telescope as a gibbous moon, then seen outside the telescope as a gibbous moon. (The dark part is also visible on the lower left in the telescope and on the upper right outside, but that is correct since telescopes typically invert the image.) The story claims that the moon seems to move because of the rotation of the Earth, which is true, but the display shows moving stars; motion relative to the stars is caused only by the moon's own motion in its orbit, not by the rotation of the Earth, and would be too slow to see. Moreover, the stars are visible inside the dark part of the moon.
In the Marvel comic Werewolf by Night it's explicitly stated werewolves transform "on the three nights of the full moon". On one occasion it's even full four consecutive nights, without any explanation.
Earth inexplicably picked up an extra moon during the cataclysm in Xenozoic Tales.
Comes up, in a way, in Darklighter, the four-issue series about Biggs Darklighter. When Biggs graduates from the Imperial pilot's academy, his class gets a speech from Grand Moff Tarkin. Tarkin drops intensely unsubtle hints about the Empire being close to possessing great power - world-shattering power, you could say! "Never again will a citizen of this galaxy watch a moonrise in quite the same way. He will stare at that moon - if such it is - and remember that the Empire is truly in control."
The new pilots lounge around trying to make sense of that, and one of them◊ tells a story about a man who had tunnels mined out on his world's moon, and they formed a drawing of his face. Then Biggs speculates◊ that "world-shattering" was literal, but something that could do that would have to be moon-sized itself... Then Hobbie◊ Klivian walks in, subtexts with Biggs a bit, and says that they're calling it the Death Star.
ElfQuest takes place on the World of Two Moons, aka Abode. Creator-artist Wendy Pini always draws the moons in their correct relative phases (being married to an amateur astronomer probably helps). When other artists attempt it they sometimes get it wrong, for instance drawing the two moons in different phases even when they are right next to each other in the sky. In another particularly egregious example both moons were seen to the left of a cave in one panel, and to the right of the same cave on the next page. And no, they hadn't had time to move that far between panels.
The moon is full rather more often than not in Batman comics.
During DC Comics' Final Night event, the sun temporarily went out. Many artists working on the event put a visible moon in the sky. The moon doesn't glow on its own, it reflects sunlight.
In Zot!, "Ring in the New", issue 27, the characters go outside just before midnight on New Year's Eve to see the "Big Clock". "Up there." "Oh, I see it ... Hey! That's the Moon!!" "Yeah. Zot say it's all done with lasers here on Earth." It is a couple of days past new (a thin crescent) and has a lit clockface. This Is Wrong on So Many Levels. A moon so close to new would set an hour or two after sunset, so it wouldn't be visible near local midnight. On a spherical Earth, the clock's time would be correct for only one out of the 12 or so time zones that could see it. It would take very powerful lasers to have a display that could compete with the sunlight of the crescent.
Film - Animated
In the Beethoven's Sixth Symphony portion of Fantasia, the crescent moon is used as a bow to fire off a star that lights the other stars in the sky.
Justified in that the setting is mythological.
The final section of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring segment is sandwiched between the formation of a total solar eclipse.
Lampshaded in Disney's Treasure Planet, where the crescent "moon" hanging in the sky turns out to be, on closer examination, an actual crescent-shaped celestial body, covered in stardocks and buildings.
The moon in the end of Despicable Me is large enough to occupy good part of the screen.Justified since after getting stolen by Vector, it didn't have the time to reach its former orbit before going back to its original size.
Twice as big as the moon previously seen, though.
The DreamWorks logo features a boy fishing while sitting in a crescent moon.
In Coraline, the Other World moon is slowly being covered by the shadow of a button. When all of it is covered, everything outside the house disappears.
The moon appearing in the "A Whole New World" number from Aladdin for some reason actually changes from a full moon to a crescent moon in the same night.
And at the end of the film, it's actually revealed to be the Genie in disguise!
Near the end of Finding Nemo, during the scene where the whale drops off Marlin and Dory at Sydney, Australia, when we see the whale swimming away, if you look very closely you can easily tell that the Moon appears as it would in a northern-hemisphere sky: Tycho (the large crater on the Moon's southern hemisphere) is facing downwards. In a southern-hemisphere sky, Tycho should be facing up.
In another Pixar movie, Cars, the maria on the Moon are shaped like a car's headlights and grille, and its craters are shaped like tires.
For the "huge" thing, see the bit in 300 where we first see the Oracle's Temple. Some say it's a visual metaphor, others say it just looks cool.
Subverted in the film Bruce Almighty, where Bruce "pulls" the moon with a divine "snare" to provide just the right setting for his romantic night. Later, we find that the sudden change in the gravitational pull of the moon caused floods in Japan.
From Dusk Till Dawn 2 has a particularly egregious "plot-timed" eclipse, where the moon races across the sun and then stops dead, letting the vampire villains come out from under cover for an extended period.
The Evil Dead movies often feature an unnaturally large image of the full moon during their shots of the cabin in the woods. The second movie in particularly has a moon so huge that it looks like Ash should be worrying less about demons and more about the impending collision.
Joe Versus The Volcano featured a large moon framing Joe as he was floating out at sea on his luggage. Justified in that Joe has spent several days without water and is hallucinating. The constellations are also starting to do funny things (move around, appear with actual lines, etc.).
Ladyhawke, in which we have a night scene with a full moon and then, a few days later, a total eclipse of the sun. (A solar eclipse can only happen during a new moon; a lunar eclipse can only happen during a full moon.)
Apocalypto did the same thing: first showing a solar eclipse and that same night a full moon.
In Moonstruck Raymond relates a story of when Cosmo was in love, there was a giant moon outside his house, keeping him awake, as if Cosmo had brought it there. He called it "Cosmo's moon" later in the story when he sees it again, obstensibly because it's now there for Cher and Nicholas Cage.
In Pitch Black the characters are on a moon of a large gas giant planet, and the planet eclipses the star as seen from its moon, instead of the other way around. The planet rapidly goes from "just touching the sun" to "completely covering the sun" in a matter of moments. As soon as the planet covers the sun, the rest of the film is spent in the titular condition, and dialogue in the film says the eclipse will last a month. Given that the planet is much larger in the sky than the sun is at that distance, a long eclipse is reasonable, although a month is pushing it. A moon with such a long orbital period around the planet would be so far away from it that the planet would be much smaller in its sky.
It's never explicitly stated in Pitch Black how long the eclipse will last. None of the characters have any idea, but agree that it will probably last too long to try and wait it out.
The 2002 remake of The Time Machine features a sub-plot about colonizing the moon in the 2030's which goes horribly wrong and ends up with the moon being blown to pieces. When the time traveller later emerges in 802701, the smaller chunks of the moon have been pulled apart and stretched into a mini asteroid belt.
Werewolf uses "full for several nights" — and is lampshaded and mocked repeatedly in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version: "The full moon doggedly refuses to wane." "The most stubborn full moon in the history of the world." "So are we supposed to assume a month passes every few minutes here in Flagstaff?" "The third straight week of the full moon."
For the "full for several nights" thing, watch Lon Chaney Jr. in The Wolfman 1941 or one of its sequels.
In Titan A.E., the protagonists visit a planet whose moon is split in half. Almost completely in half. And it has neither crumbled nor been pulled back together by gravity. Oh, and it's a plot point. It is cool, though.
The Secret Of Moonacre has a continuously-full moon that gets larger and larger as the movie goes on. It's an actual plot point, as the moon will destroy the earth unless Maria gives back the moon jewels.
In Daredevil the moon appears full every single night throughout the movie.
In Kull The Conqueror, the awakening of the dark forces of Acheron turns the moon into a gruesome red demonic face.
In The Return of Hanuman, the moon is not shaped like a ball, but rather a crescent. Hanuman even pulls one of its edges, using it as a flashlight due to the moon's brightness.
The 1902 filmA Trip to the Moon (original French title Le Voyage dans la Lune) depicts a moon that is not only a sentient being with a face note Whose eye they crash their spaceship into, no less, but is also covered in giant mushrooms, apparently has enough oxygen for the humans to breathe, and is inhabited by savage Rubber-Forehead Aliens called Selenites.
The 2013 film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has a lunar phase error; in the movie, as in the book, "Durin's Day" is when the sun and the last full moon of autumn are in the sky together. But in the movie, "the last light of Durin's Day" turns out to be not that of the setting sun, but that of the moon. This is impossible as a full moon at sunset can only be a rising moon, hence the moon would be around the other side of the mountain and couldn't illuminate the keyhole.
In Nancy Farmer's Land Of The Silver Apples, the elves make the moon whatever phase they want it to be, and they always want it to be full.
In Simon Green's Nightside novels, the moon over London's Nightside always appears unnaturally large (or maybe unnaturally close). Then again, this is a place where it's always three o'clock in the morning.
Played straight in Stephen King's Cycle of the Werewolf, in which the chapters cover successive months of a year in the life of a town in which one man has become a werewolf. King deliberately set the time of the full moon to match major holidays rather than realistically. Justified in that according to the Other Wiki, the project originally began as a set of short stories to accompany a calendar.
Subverted in the Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, where whenever anyone wants a symbolic moon it turns out to be gibbous.(One character, a witch, reflects that normally she doesn't have much time for this nonsense about phases of the moon being connected to witchcraft - but there may be something in a half-moon, poised right on the balance between one thing and another, that she's able to relate to.) In fact, the fact it's almost never full or a crescent begins to seem unlikely. But then, the Disc's moon has a very complicated and rather strange orbit (one of the elephants occasionally has to lift its leg to let the moon past). Plus the phases are somewhat different considering half the moon is covered by glowing silver plants and the other is scorched.
"Stars" within the dark half are also justified; they're the light of Moon Dragons jetting about.
In Soul Music there's a half moon and the text describes this as "the most magical phase" even if it doesn't appear in romantic or occult pictures.
The werewolf police officer Angua also mentions that werewolves only have to change during the (one) night of the full moon, while it's reasonably controllable at any other time.
The habit of the moon's phases appearing in the wrong order is neatly averted in The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and other J. R. R. Tolkien works: Tolkien actually spent hours working out a table of phases and making sure they were consistent with the time of each scene. In several places in The Lord of the Rings when a character looks at the moon, that passage was redrafted three or four times to change the phase after Tolkien inserted extra days into their journey as the map grew larger.
It's a minor plot point at least once — they only remember spending a week or two in Lothlórien, but so much time has gone by outside, the moon passed through a phase-cycle. (Tolkien was paying homage to long-standing legends of mortals visiting the realms of The Fair Folk.)
It's been suggested that we can actually calculate the exact historical dates on which Tolkien set his tales from the moon's phases. According to http://www.angelfire.com/rings/three/chrono.htmThe Lord of the Rings takes place in 3105-3104 BC (Though Word of God puts it about 900 years earlier).
One exception, though, is in The Hobbit, when Bilbo and the dwarves find the secret door on Thrór's map at sunset with a thin crescent moon in the sky. A very few days later, Bard shoots Smaug by the light of the rising moon. Astronomically, those two events would have to be separated by about two weeks.
The Dragonlance universe has three moons, Solinari, Lunitari, and Nuitari, which are white, red, and black, corresponding with the colors of good, neutral, and evil magic in the world. Nuitari is a particularly weird moon because only evil mages can see it, except when Nuitari passes in front of one or both of the other moons; also, Nuitari's position can be inferred when it blocks any of the stars.
And when all three moons are aligned, they appear as a big, red-irised eye in the sky. Rest assured, that will be a memorable night.
In Larry Niven's Inconstant Moon the moon is shining unusually brightly. Most people who notice think that it's quite beautiful. The hero realizes that it means that the sun has gone nova, and this is going to be his last night on Earth. It turns out he's not quite right. The sun has just thrown off an unusually bright flare, which has killed off everyone on the other side of the Earth, but it's subsided by sunrise over California.
In the world of Goblin Moon, the moon's highly-elliptical orbit brings it alarmingly close to the planet when it's full, causing monthly cycles of ground tremors and extreme tides. The novel's title is a reference to an old myth which personified the moon as a shapechanging female deity, who became harsh and ugly when full.
The Wheel of Time uses a (roughly) consistent lunar phase similar to Tolkien's, except that references of weeks in the early books can confuse the reader as for how much time passed, since Jordan couldn't initially make up his mind for a 7-day or a 10-day week.
The Gor series takes place on a Counter-Earth which has three moons instead of only one like we have; but whenever they're mentioned, all three are always full. the latest book reveals that at least one of the moons is artificial and is used as a Prison Planet by the Priest-Kings.
In "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", Samuel Taylor Coleridge refers to "the hornčd moon with one bright star within the nether tip." It's considered not a mistake by the author but a way to show a physical manifestation of the unnaturalness that results from the slaying of an innocent bird. Isaac Asimov comments on such as well in one of his essays (found in Gold, one of his collections).
In The Red Tent, all the women menstruate like clockwork around the time of the New Moon, unless they're pregnant or not of reproductive age.
In The Guardians of Childhood , the Moon is a broken down space sailing ship. Owned by the noble family of Lunanoff, it was attacked by the Nightmare King Pitch and damaged beyond function in the battle, leaving it in its disguised state as an ordinary moon. The only remaining member of the Lunanoffs, the Man in the Moon is raised to adulthood by the ship's crew of robots and large insects and keeps a watchful eye on the Earth to keep the children safe from Pitch's lingering influence beyond the can he was sealed in as result of the same battle.
One of the more famous literary blunders occurs in Lord of the Flies, one scene of which has a thin crescent moon rising at sunset. This is astronomically impossible — a moon which rises at sunset can only be a full moon, and likewise a full moon can only rise at or around sunset.
In The Invisible Man, the third paragraph of Chapter 17 tells us that "The moon in its first quarter hung over the westward hill". Yet the first paragraph of Chapter 18, one to three hours after the above, says "Outside the night was very quiet and still, and the new moon was setting over the down." Apart from the fact that a new moon rises and sets with the sun — so if one is setting, it can't yet be night — there's simply no way that the moon can go from first-quarter to new in only a few hours.
Live Action TV
On the Playhouse Disney children's series Bear in the Big Blue House, the moon was named Luna and was a good friend of Bear. He would tell her about the events of the day at the end of each episode.
Subverted in the case of werewolves: because they transform three nights every month instead of one, it seems the moon is full for several nights. However, it's clarified they actually transform during the full moon, the night before and the night after — in other words, the moon isn't really full, but just has that big an effect on werewolves.
The episode "What's My Line" features a vampiric ritual that needs to be performed on the night of a new moon. Spike gets ready to start the ritual when "the moon is rising" — which really ought to be around dawn. The script writer goofed and forgot what they'd said earlier: the ritual has to take place during the full moon.
During one episode of Chef!, a wedding is set to occur on a full moon. Savannah predicts that the romantic atmosphere will clean up all the romantic loose ends. Ironically, everyone but her gets their wish.
The Doctor Who episode Smith and Jones showed a lovely, round full Earth from the Moon's surface, and on the very same day, a full moon from Earth's surface, creating the implication that the sun is somehow between the two, or that the moon can somehow produce its own luminescence.
An episode of Heroes had an eclipse lasting for most of the episode (probably a few hours in-story) and it still wasn't over by the end of the episode, when sunlight moves across and revives Claire after the moon's shadow is seen leaving the edge of the sun's disc.
This is the second total solar eclipse visible in (all of) North America in how many years?
The last eclipse was seen around the entire world.
The moon was visible in the sky next to the sun just before the eclipse.
The Mighty Boosh features the Moon as a character who provides monologues to break up the segments of the show. It's fond of astronomical jokes; it's implied there that there are several moons, with him being the full one.
Whether or not that's true is debatable, given that the Moon is the biggest Cloudcuckoolander in the series (in more ways than just size).
"When you are the moon, the best form you can be is a full moon. And then the half moon... he's all right. But the full moon is the famous moon. And then three-quarters, eh, no one gives a shit about him. When does he come? two days in to the calendar month? He's useless..."
The 2007 premiere of Smallville showed a half moon with the lit part on the top in the nighttime, as well as having the moon be seen by people in Kansas and China at the same time in the same position in the sky, thus getting it wrong in two ways at once.
Supernatural did the "full for several nights" thing. Many werewolf stories do this, if for no other reason than ease of storytelling—it's boring for the hero to hear about a killing last night and have to wait for the next full moon to do anything.
Supernatural is also guilty of presenting the "unbelievably enormous" version of the moon; in real life, the moon looks about the size of a pea held at an arm's length... not a baseball.
The Season 7 opener when Death arranges for a second complete lunar eclipse to happen within a few weeks from the last one. That one was mentioned to baffle astronomers in-universe. One wonders how Death pulled it off...
In the 90's The Tonight Show With Jay Leno had skits with Jay playing characters like Beyondo, Iron Jay, Billy Tuttle and Mr Brain- one of the characters was Evil Jay- Jay's evil twin who appeared at every full moon.
Back in the 90's, the comic relief soap operas played by Globo had a Running Gag in which the moon would always be at it's full phase and be several times bigger than normal. In one, there was even a mystic event day in which there would be two giant moons in the sky!
Gilligan's Island episode "Ship Ahoax". When Ginger tells Gilligan's fortune, she says to look for a ship when "the moon is blue". Sure enough, that night the moon is colored blue and a ship passes by the island.
In Terra Nova, the moon is shown to be huge. It's 85 million years in the past, which, as they explain, means the moon is closer and looks bigger; but this doesn't quite work. The moon would have been about 3,000 kilometers closer...that's less than one percent of its current average distance, around 380,000 kilometers. The moon's distance varies by nearly 40,000 km every month due to its eccentric orbit. To a normal person, the moon 85 million years ago would have looked exactly the same.
She-Wolf of London assuages concerns that the main character will turn into a werewolf at the full moon with "Don't worry, there won't be another full moon for months". How long is the lunar cycle again?
The Magic: The Gathering plane of Mirrodin has four moons, one for each color of magic except green. During the Convergence, each one hangs right over the appropriate section of the plane, too. During the day. It helps that Mirrodin has no sun, either.
On Mirrodin, the terms "Moon" and "Sun" are used interchangeably, and with good reason. Though they orbit around the planet like moons, they are made of flaming balls of magic and supply the primary light source like suns. Oh, and the "stars" in Mirrodins sky are actually insects. That make rain. Mirrodin is not so much an example of a Weird Moon and more a Weird Cosmos that happens to contain moons.
Dominaria, the primary setting, used to have two moons: the Mist Moon, which has an atmosphere (hence the mist) and Griffins (among other things) living on it, and the Null Moon, also known as the Glimmer Moon, which is a space station and was destroyed in the Apocalypse.
The Eberron campaign setting has twelve moons — and a missing thirteenth moon, as well (one of the setting motifs being baker's dozens missing the thirteenth element). One starts to wonder what kind of influence all those moons had on Eberron's lycanthropes and if they're the cause of the violent frenzies that led the Church of the Silver Flame to hunt the lycanthropes into near-extinction. On the plus side, this made life easier for DMs whose players try and seek out were-creatures to get infected. One Will save a month to avoid the alignment change is easy. One every two days is a much better deterrent.
In the Elder Evils expansion for , the Blood Moon is a "symptom", so to speak, of the imminent awakening of the Hulks of Zoretha. The moon turns a creepy red colour and creatures go Ax-Crazy with bloodlust and try to murder each other.
Some domains in the Ravenloft setting provide examples of this trope, such as Sithicus, where a moon similar to Krynn's Nuitari (see above, under Literature) is the only one in the sky. Nova Vaasa was once stated to have five moons.
Selūnenote shares its name with the Faerūnian moon goddess, the moon of the Forgotten Realms' planet Toril, is trailed by a cluster of small asteroids commonly called Selūne's Tears (a fitting name, since as it turns out they were blown out from the moon during a long-ago attempt to destroy a Comet of Doom).
In the Warhammer Fantasy world, there are multiple moons. One of these is made up of warpstone, this setting's form of glowy green rock. Warpstone is solidified magic from the Realm of Chaos and can mutate anything it touches, generally in a bad way. This moon affects the flows of magic, occasionally sends down warpstone meteorites, and has a (seemingly) randomly changing orbital period (and hence the length of each month as judge by that moon varies massively). On one night each yearnote the date varies, obviously, but it's presumably usually within a couple of months of the Summer Solstice, as the occurrence is known as Geheimnisnacht/Geheimnistag (the Night/Day of Mysteries), and the two months after the solstice are Vorgeheim (Before Mystery) and Nachgeheim (After Mystery), both this moon and Mannslieb (the largest, normal moon) are full. On this night the dead are restless, and demons find it easier to break out of the Realm of Chaos.
The moon in Exalted is actually dedicated to making things less weird; it's a gigantic reality engine controlled by Luna, Incarna of the Moon, and dedicated to keeping the chaotic influence of the Wyld out of Creation.
You can visit the Umbral version of the moon in  and its required if you want to get your hands on some Moonsilver, a metal with all the powers of silver to effect shapechangers, with none of the Gnosis-losing drawbacs. It also used to have life, until the Weaver sterilized it.
In the Marathon 'verse, Mars has been inhabited by humanity. The title of the game is the name of the ship the first game takes place on, which is a hollowed out Deimos. The Player also lands on Lh'owon's moon, which has... Well... Really freakin' weird terrain.
In Animal Crossing: Wild World for the DS, the moon looks normal enough, but unlike the real thing, it rises and sets at the exact same time each day (with moonrise being early in the evening and moonset being after midnight (this is related to the confusion of moonrise and sunset mentioned near the top of the page)). Solar and lunar eclipses are unheard of in the game (the former because the sun is never visible on the game). This does not apply to the original Animal Crossing, because the sky wasn't visible in that game (it featured a top-down view like that of a 2D RPG). This does, however, apply to Animal Crossing: City Folk for the Wii.
The Moon seen in the background of Blinx the Time Sweeper is missing a huge chunk, making it a literal crescent shape.
Batman: Arkham Asylum has an absolutely massive full moon hovering over Arkham Island. It doesn't actually do anything, it's just for atmosphere. It's also backwards.
Most Castlevania games content themselves with an inexplicably gigantic moon, but Symphony of the Night takes the cake. SotN's moon appears crescent when viewed from the clock tower, full when viewed from the outer wall and Olrox's quarters, and full with a blood red tint when viewed from the castle keep. In all but Olrox's quarters, the moon is also terrifyingly HUGE. And yet, all of these locations are a short walk from each other, with the outer wall, clock tower, and castle keep all being right next door.
In Final Fantasy VIII, monsters originate from the moon via a process known as the "Lunar Cry." In addition, the moon is enormous, occupying a significant portion of the sky.
The moon in Final Fantasy XI changes color depending on the day of the week. It does go through the full set of phases, though - despite always being in opposition to the sun.
There are two moons in Final Fantasy IV. The smaller one, the Red Moon, is the interstellar vehicle of the Lunarians, who travel the cosmos seeking for a new home. The larger one is completely lifeless. And then there's True Moon, which appears in Final Fantasy IV The After Years and houses the Creator, who seeded the worlds with Crystals to make life flourish.
Grand Theft Auto plays with this: there's an Easter egg where, if you shoot the moon with a sniper rifle, it grows larger and larger until, after 5-6 shots, it reverts to its normal size.
Kingdom of Loathing has two moons, Grimace and Ronald. Well, it used to. Some years back, a comet hit and removed a chuck off of Grimace, which is now mini-moon named Hamburglar.
The world of Klonoa: Empire of Dreams has a crescent moon with a smaller full moon inside it.
The main plot of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask revolves around the moon and the fact that it is going to crash into the landscape in three days. It also grew a face, and cries rocks. At the end of the game, you travel inside the moon and find that it contains a field with a Tree in the middle. It also hovers directly overhead for three days straight, and when it finally crashes, it's not all that big to be a moon. Whether it moved across the sky before the events in the game is unclear.
The moon in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, for some reason, has an influence on the whereabouts of the Ghost Ship. There is even a map illustrating the islands the ship visits according to the lunar phase. It also changes its lunar phase more quickly, showing seven in one week.
In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, there are moons that are chained to the planet Bryyo's surface. With actual chains. Granted, the moons may actually be pieces of the planet that is starting to break apart. In Bryyo's defense, the Reptilicus are/were capable of using magic, which would explain a number of oddities seen on the planet... Also, Metroid in general seems to have magic. Go figure.
In Ōkami, the Day of Darkness consists of a solar eclipse. Considering that the main character and whom the player controls is an avatar of Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, this is a problem. The full eclipse itself starts with the rise of the Emperor of Eternal Darkness, Yami, and ends when Ammy redraws the Sun in the sky, so it can be anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, but the initial phase of umbra lasts for several hours. When the characters go through a Portal to the Past several days after a full-moon festival in another town, the first clue that something is wrong is that the moon is full again.
The moon in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is a strange one. While it looks pretty normal from Earth, there's a canyon running along the length of it and it revolves in about a minute.
The moon of the Space Zone in Super Mario Land 2. Not only is it very much huge in the sky, and a pretty exaggerated crescent moon, it's apparently floating just above the ocean on the world map, and changes facial expression when a star smashes into its face.
In Super Mario Galaxy, the Sand Spiral Galaxy has a moon as part of the level (with the end star on it), and in a rather blatant failing of physics, generates LIGHT.
In Super Mario Galaxy 2, there is the Boo Moon Galaxy. Mario lands on the (rather nearby and small) crescent moon, where it tilts left and right due to his weight.
In Shin Megami Tensei, the Lunar Phases effect your ability to communicate with demons. The moon shuffles through each of the sixteen different stages of the cycle in the matter of a few seconds.
In Persona 3, the Moon is transmogrifies during the Dark Hour into the physical shell of Nyx, personification of Death and the Bringer of The Fall. Upon Nyx's departure, Tartarus is sucked back into it, the Dark Hour ends, and the Moon sleeps once more. Its phases also have a stronger effect on the world (and gameplay) of Persona 3 than in other Megaten games: during a Full Moon, Nyx's influence is so great it causes greater Shadows to manifest outside Tartarus, leading to special "extermination" missions (read: plot bosses) once every month. Full and New Moons also have an effect on the protagonist's psyche by affecting the Persona fusion processes.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey lets you hook up a Sub App called "Lunatic", making it possible to communicate with demons during a Full Moon (otherwise impossible). The catch? They're still drunk on moonlight, so talking to them is kind of a crapshoot.
Skies of Arcadia has six moons, each in a geostationary orbit over a different part of the planet. They're pretty evenly spread, despite the fact that a geostationary orbit requires the object to be directly above the planet's equator. (Though it's debatable whether Arcadia even has an equator, being doughnut-shaped...)
There are even hints of a 7th moon. The evidence is inside the Dark Rift: a large number of black moonstones.
The moon in Wario Land 4's Crescent Moon Village. Absolutely huge in the sky (about a bit bigger than many background buildings, or double the size of Wario and the pirate ghost), perpetually in crescent phase likely all year around, and well, the actual level name should probably imply the somewhat oddness of the moon. You could also probably say the moon is always full when seen in Wario Land Shake It!, although it's probably just standard Big Boo's Haunt background decor.
In Wiz 'n Liz, the moon has a face. Usually it just looks like it's asleep, but every now and then it will yawn, and come out with an incredibly creepy grimace.
Sonic Adventure 2: Eggman elects to show the world (well, America the United Federation) how badass his new Kill Sat is by aiming it at the moon. It blows off part of the moon, revealing a molten core and apparently having no influence on the planet's oceans. The following game, it's been repaired.
The Dig: The planet Cocytus has 2 moons (actually the smaller one is a satellite of the larger). In one puzzle, the protagonist discovers a planetarium-orrery with models of the planet and its moons, and by moving the models he makes the real moons move to create an eclipse. This is never explained but then again, we are talking about Sufficiently Advanced Aliens.
Zork Zero'sFeelies include a calendar which shows moon phases. In addition to the usual Full Moon and New Moon are rather more unusual phases such as Empty Moon, Old Moon, Small Moon, Large Moon, Grue Moon, Rad Moon, Bull Moon (as in bulls-eye archery-target moon) and, yes, Weird Moon. The calendar also shows the days for Full Sun, New Sun, and Half-Boz Sun.
The Elder Scrolls, the two moons in the sky are not sub-planetoids but are said to be in fact the decaying remains of a long dead god named Lorkhan, symbolising how he sundered himself during the creation of Nirn.
During the 200 years between Oblivion and Skyrim, both Masser and Secunda disappeared from the sky for two whole years, driving Khajiit society into disarray as many aspects of their culture revolve around their worship. When the Thalmor claimed to have used their magics to return the moons, shortly afterwards Elsewyr joined the Aldmeri Dominion.
Touhou offers a subversion: a Lunar civilization of long-lived Earth humans living completely unknown to humans on the Earth (supposedly; the backstory is fuzzy around the time of the Apollo moon landings). To conceal themselves, the Lunarians erected a great (dimensional) Border around the moon, much like the Border surrounding Gensokyo. The internal region hidden by this Border provides oxygen, plant life, and oceans for what is dubbed the Lunar Capital; to us: the moon we see at night.
Travel to and from the moon only works consistently on nights of the full moon, which allows for a perfect connection. In Imperishable Night, the Lunar refugees in Eientei have interrupted the full moon with the image of a gibbous moon to make it impossible for emissaries from the moon to come to Earth after them.
The map Doublecross on Team Fortress 2 inexplicably had 5 moons in the skybox until an update removed them.
In Luigi's Mansion, there's a section where Luigi visits an observatory. As he explores, the wall of the room is destroyed, revealing the night sky with a spherical moon. Until Luigi has to fire a shooting star at it and walk along a path of light to the resulting hemisphere.
In AdventureQuest, there are two weird moons; one has a face and leads to the Void, where the strongest monsters of the game are held. The second also has a face and is an interpretation of the Big Bad.
In World of Warcraft, the real-world time of day on the Realm's server drives whether it's day or night in the game. At night, the moon is always full, and it's huuuuuge.
There used to be a second, smaller (and blue) moon, but it vanished from the sky when the first expansion came out. It still appears in fiction, but not in-game.
The Blue Child returned in the expansion Mists of Pandaria, and the two moons tend to alternate appearances in the sky.
In Mabinogi there is the white moon Ladeca, but there's also a smaller pink one called Eweca, which radiates all of Erinn's mana.
Sengoku Basara 3 has several instances of this. Firstly, if the Moon appears at all it is always full. In the Winter Osaka Siege it is absolutely enormous, taking up about half the sky (it's probably symbolic, as Mitsunari is represented by the Moon and more than a little insane). When Kanbe takes the castle it turns yellow but doesn't decrease in size. At the Kanegasaki Siege it's much smaller, but still unrealistic, and coloured blood red with a strange aura, impending Nobunaga's resurrection.
The Moon in Minecraft always comes up when the Sun goes down. It's also square-shaped and rather large.
It now has phases, which show round sections of shadow moving across it. The one exception is the new moon, where only the outermost edge is visible - and about half as bright as on a full moon. It was round for a short time (during a pre-release update). Despite having phases, it still is always at the opposite side of the Sun.
The moon in The Lost Crown: A Ghosthunting Adventure is perpetually full, and unnaturally large. It can even be seen to grow at one point, looming larger behind bare tree branches.
In the second American McGee's Alice game, the moon is visible in the obligatory ice level. It not only has a full face, but tattoos and a cigarette in a long holder. Its cigarette's smoke is the aurora which laces through the sky.
The moon of Tau Volantis in Dead Space 3 looks like it had a huge chunk of it torn away somehow. Turns out it wasn't broken it's incomplete. It's really a huge Necromorph called a Brother Moon whose growth was interrupted long ago by the natives of Tau Volantis' Codex. Right before it was forced into hibernation, the Brother Moon sent the Black Marker into human space, making it the Bigger Bad of the entire series up to this point.
Kerbal Space Program has Kerbin and the Mun, which are the game's analogues of Earth and the Moon. But then there's Minmus, Kerbin's other moon, which fits this trope. While Earth has various objects orbiting it other than the Moon, these objects tend to be temporary (see the real-life section below). Minmus, however, appears to be permanent, and apparently doesn't make a whole lot of scientific sense. It's teal and apparently icy, which would be impossible for such a tiny object that orbits the fictional equivalent of Earth (which has enough gravity to keep ice on its surface and in its atmosphere, but is otherwise well within the "Frost line" of the solar system).
The Moon in Something Else. It has an evil smirk on its face. Also, the true base of the Evil Guy.
From The Order of the Stick, we get this. Rich Burlew responds to rampant speculation that this is an eclipse with "I love how it never crosses anyone's mind that the author may know less about astronomy than they do. I WENT TO ART SCHOOL, OK?"
Soul Symphony: The moon in Olivia's Soul World, where it is always night time, is the source of all energy and life. Supplies strange powers and mutations for Olivia's sidekick. Not only that, but it appears to be permanently crescent because a majority of it actually exploded.
In Our Little Adventure, the sun and moon have faces and occasionally make quips about what's going on down at ground level. They transform into one another at dawn and dusk rather than rising or setting.
Gunnerkrigg Court has a scene where Coyote apparently pulls the moon from the sky, shrinking it down to about the size of a ping-pong ball in the process, and allows Annie to poke it. She initially wonders if it's All Just a Dream, but later on Kat discovers a fingerprint which has mysteriously appeared on the moon's surface.
A few variations in Homestuck: Prospit and Derse have moons chained to their surfaces, and the trolls' homeworld Alternia has two moons, a huge green one and a smaller pink one with a tiny moon of its own. Its eventually revealed that the green one isn't natural, and is only there because of Doc Scratch.
Many cartoons show visible stars within a crescent moon.
One classic modification is in George Herriman's Krazy Kat. Often, the moon would be not just shown as a crescent, but as a slice of itself—with curvature, implying that most of the moon had been hacked away. Since Krazy Kat ended its run in the 1940s.
The landscape in Krazy Kat is so surreal anyway that this just blends in.
This may be excused if circumstances have caused a huge chunk to have been taken out of the moon anyway. The problems this would cause for tides or the integrity of the remaining bits of the moon seem to rarely be addressed.
Bruce Timm commented how whenever the moon is shown in any DCAU show that it is full. He tried to get it shown as a crescent to indicate change in time, but it never quite came to pass.
There was not a Gargoyles episode where the moon was anything but full... ever.
There's a brief shot of a crescent moon in "Eye of the Storm", and several in "Hunter's Moon".
In Avatar: The Last Airbender , when the Moon Spirit is threatened, the moon turns red, and when the Moon Spirit dies, it is no longer visible.
Played straight in season 3 as well, where the moon was shown to be full for about four episodes running, despite the in-show dialogue suggesting that some time passed between episodes. (and no, it couldn't have been a month per episode as the characters were on a very specific time-limit)
Also shown to be full and crescent in the same night in the episode "The Painted Lady."
However, the moon's behavior in the solar eclipse was actually fairly realistic—a real eclipse lasts around a couple of hours, give or take, from beginning to end, and is only a total eclipse for a very short time. In the show, the total eclipse lasted eight minutes, as mentioned by one of the characters.
Beast Wars: There were two moons revolving around the planet. Only, by the end of season 1, we discover that one of the moons wasn't really a moon, but was in fact an artificial satellite (and Phlebotinum Bomb) planted there by an alien race in their research on the planet.
It's how they figure out that something on this planet is seriously messed up, as the second moon has far too little mass for a satellite of its size.
It also hid the fact that the planet they were on was Earth. When season 2 starts and only the actual moon remains, Dinobot is the first to realize that Megatron had led them to the correct planet after all.
Um, no, Waspinator is the first to figure it out, Dinobot suspects it, but Waspinator confirms it.
Also, apparently the waves from the destruction of the artificial satellite bombarded the moon with craters, making it resemble the moon as it is now.
In the Ni Hao, Kai-Lan episode "Kai-lan's Moon Festival", a cloud conveniently (to the plot) blocks the moon and only the moon. The stars can still be seen in the sky.
Parodied in The Simpsons. In the episode "Dude, Where's My Ranch?", Lisa and guest character Luke are looking at the night sky and comment on how big the moon seems. The camera then pans back to show the landscape they're on - with the moon taking up half the screen.
"You should see it when it's full!"
In Thundarr the Barbarian, a runaway planet passes between the Earth and the Moon, and its gravitational field cracks the latter in half, like a walnut. This doesn't affect its orbit in the slightest, but it does end human civilization.
The Tick had a normal moon..then had CHA lasered into it...then explosives filled the C in...then it got a bite taken out of it.
Lampshaded in Futurama "Kif gets Knocked Up a Notch", when Kif Kroker constructs a romantic HoloShed night scene for Amy complete with impossibly large moon. "And I would pluck the moon from the sky, just to see you smile," and then he does. Later it even saves them during the Holodeck Malfunction when it plugs a hole in the hull.
Fanboy and Chum Chum. For the most blatant example, in "Fanboy in the Plastic Bubble" the titular bubble is popped by the crescent moon.
The moon from Ruby Gloom appears to be alive. It has eyes, a mouth, and is even seen reacting to what the characters are doing sometimes. Oh, and it sings the theme song.
Ren and Stimpy are stranded on a remote planet in one of the space episodes. Ren goes to bed but Stimpy implores him to go outside and look at the moon. Ren goes back outside grumbling about what's so special about it and cracks his head on it. It's about two yards above the surface and things just get weirder from there.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has two princesses, one who raises the sun in the day and one who raises the moon at night. This means that Equestria is some strange place where the moon only comes out at night. This means the sun and moon must always be on opposite sides of the planet.
The moon also used to have visible craters forming the shape of a unicorn's head: the "Mare in the Moon". This disappeared when Nightmare Moon was freed from her exile there.
Also, there is crescent moon imagery. If the sun and moon are always opposite, the moon should always be full.
The moon also isn't in orbit during the day (behind the planet or otherwise) as Luna raises it every evening and puts it down by dawn, then sleeps most of the day - implying that she tucks it away somewhere when it isn't in use. Celestia does roughly the same with the sun.
Tiny Toons did a parody with the Amblin Logo having Elliot crashing into the moon and falling off his bike.
In the Pixar short La Luna, The moon is revealed to only be about 50 feet up, and it doesn't really have phases. Instead, it's a dark sphere covered in small glowing stars. The characters have to head up to it and sweep a portion of them into craters to give it its trademark crescent shape.
In the Cartoon! segments of The Aquabats! Super Show!, the moon is apparently a vessel, piloted by a villain named Moon Cheese. There is also a cavern at the center containing a massive lake housing an underwater kingdom.
There's a BBC ident (the short clip or animation that's playing while a voice announces what's coming up now or later) with people driving their boats over a lake, each one carrying a piece of the moon. Then they put it together and we see a big (ridiculously big) moon hovering over the lake as it turn into the BBC logo.
The Animusic video "Resonant Chamber" features four moons in the sky, each a different phase. Given that the video also features a self-playing conglomeration of different string instruments, this can be safely filed under Rule of Cool.
Lots of science fiction shows like to illustrate that a planet is alien by having multiple moons and really big moons, even if they seem too close to exist without tearing the planet apart from tidal forces, or indeed (in the case of Vulcan from Star Trek) when the planet has previously been stated to have no moons...
Similarly, fantasy often invokes the Many Moons trope, albeit with less attention to details like tidal effects since A Wizard Did It.
A crescent with a star inside its horns is a famous symbol of Islam and appears on the flags of many majority-Muslim countries. In most cases, the horns are over-long, as well. All this impossibility is justified, inasmuch as the symbol alludes to the possibility of miracles (a key point for any self-respecting Abrahamic religion).
The recapper for Hell's Kitchen at Television Without Pity has noted that the series repeatedly features shots of a full moon when it cannot possibly be a full moon the entire time throughout the series run. Sometimes, a crescent moon is thrown in, apparently just for kicks.
Yes it's surreal, but Van Gogh's "Starry Night" has the crescent extending too far around the moon's surface.
The Moon illusion was probably the inspiration for so many artists and film makers drawing the moon abnormally large, they have seen it that way.
The moon is actually moving away from the Earth at a very slow rate—it can be measured in inches per year—so it would have appeared slightly larger three thousand years ago, but probably not noticeably to the naked eye. Now, if you went back to the time of the dinosaurs...
"We can see that a hundred million years ago, the moon was twelve meters above the earth. This might have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs - the tallest ones, anyway."
The moon's rate of recession has been measured at 38 mm per year. That places it only a few thousand kilometers closer to the Earth during the Mesozoic Era, which would still not be noticable to the naked eye.
Some astronomers have suggested that 5 billion years in the future, before the Earth gets swallowed by the red giant Sun, the drag caused by the Sun's extended atmosphere will cause the Moon to spiral in until the moment it's at a distance to the Earth of 18,500 kilometers, when Earth's gravity will tear apart the Moon turning it into a ring system. Debris forming these rings will also decay and impact the Earth. If you are scared of what we will do when this happens, you're falling victim to Scifi Writers have no Sense of Time.
By sheer astronomical fluke, Earth's Moon appears to be virtually the same size as the Sun, when viewed from the planet's surface. This makes solar eclipses extra-spectacular here, as a corona of light rims the Moon's shadow: something which could make the Earth a popular tourist attraction during eclipse years, should sightseeing aliens ever learn about this weird coincidence.
Every year is an eclipse year. See here. - there are between 2 and 5 solar eclipses each year, however at most two total (partial ones are not very impressive).
And any (opaque) object near a source of light casts a shadow all the time. Spacefaring aliens could just set up shop within the shadow of any celestial body and have their very own "eclipse". The attractive of the Earth would be that it happens naturally; it would only be a touristic attraction when there's an eclipse going through a populated center, to provide basic touristic services.
A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon's orbit carries it into the Earth's shadow. This results in the moon turning red.
Blue-tinted moons are possible as well (it involves lots of atmospheric dust), but the phrase usually refers to 'additional' moons due to the difference between the 30-or-so day calendar month and the 28-or-so day lunar month.
Theoretically, a satellite could pass between the Earth and the moon at a time when the latter appears as a crescent, creating a "star between the horns" configuration. The satellite would have to be exceptionally reflective to be distinguishable in contrast to the moon's reflected brightness, however.
Also, if it were far enough and large and/or reflective enough to be visible from the surface, it wouldn't even appear to move.
Flares from Iridium satellites (up to magnitude -8; many times brighter than Venus and visible in broad daylight) are plenty bright enough to create this effect. Satellites move plenty fast enough to be distinguished from stars, however.
Small as it appears, seeing something framed in the moon as in the trope image is easily possible: they just need to be far enough away that they appear smaller than the moon. Presumably, the image of Elliot and ET was taken from some miles distant with a telephoto lens.
Many accurate maps of the Moon that were created more than 50 years ago depict it upside-down and flipped left to right, as early techniques to capture its image inverted the Moon's light as it passed through a telescope. Later maps use digital image-reversal to flip the image again, so it once again matches what's visible to the naked eye from Earth.
An unlabeled map is of marginal usefulness if you're peering through a telescope and trying to figure out what you're looking at. The "right" orientation is the one in which you can read the text. And it helps if the image is oriented the same way as what you're seeing through the scope.
At various times of the year, it is actually possible to see the sun and the full moon at the same time. This becomes important in The Hobbit, in which these times are called Durin's Days.
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, go to the Southern Hemisphere (residents of the Southern, reverse these instructions) and look up. The Moon is now upside-down!
For a proof that the Earth is round, look at the shape of its shadow on the moon during a lunar eclipse (it's always a circular arc, so the Earth's 3D shape has to be a sphere); this was one of the first indications that the Earth is not flat.
According to some simulations of the great impact that it's believed formed the Moon, two moons (not just one) were formed at a distance of 20,000 kilometers. However, the innermost one ended crashing with the Earth or the other moon just 1,000 years after its formation.
Earth actually has temporary natural satellites that go in cycles. One such moon came into orbit for 13 months and is expected back in 21 years. Many of them aren't visible to the naked eye, being incredibly small and distant, but are common enough that NASA thinks at least one is in Earth orbit at any given time.