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When the Clock Strikes Twelve
"Oh, that clock! Old killjoy!"

"Why is it always midnight?!"
Shrek, Shrek 2

A lot of times, when there's a deadline to something, it's usually midnight. Why? Maybe because it's the time when the day officially ends, or just because the twelve chimes are really dramatic. Either way, things will happen When the Clock Strikes Twelve. How this interacts with timezones and Daylight Saving Time is generally left unmentioned.

If there's an actual clock involved, the actual deadline will almost always be when the last stroke ends, even though chiming clocks in Real Life are set to start striking when the top of the hour hits. This serves the Rule of Drama, especially if time can be magically stopped, slowed or reversed to give the characters more time before the twelfth stroke. (A clock that strikes more than twelve will usually be recognized as broken.)

Midnight is also probably the most significant hour of the day for the supernatural — in other words, Midnight Is Magic. Ghosts, magical creatures etc. all set their clock by it; typically the time between sundown and midnight is when they are free to roam the Earth. Or it can be from midnight to dawn. Another famous variant is known as "the Witching Hour", a general concept that magic and supernatural is at its strongest around midnight through 1 a.m.

Note that if a myth about midnight events pre-dates the widespread use of clocks, then the "midnight" it refers to is most likely not instantaneous, but simply indicates the middle part of a night.

On the opposite end, many types of magic wear off at midnight, more precisely When the Clock Strikes Twelve. See also Celestial Deadline, When the Planets Align.

Doomsday Clock is a subtrope specifically dealing with global catastrophy of some sort. May overlap with Death's Hourglass. See also Right on the Tick and Exact Time to Failure.

Older Than Steam, but heading toward being a Dead Horse Trope as it appears more in subversions and aversions now.

Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Cardcaptor Sakura follows an endless loop of 1 day when the Time Card is set loose. The card appears and resets at midnight.
  • Used in Haruhi Suzumiya, where it was set to loop at September 1, 12 midnight.
  • In the Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl manga, Hazumu is scheduled to die at midnight. But in a dramatic subversion, the alien gets his sums wrong and her time of death is really 6 hours earlier. She survives though, due to The Power of Love.
  • Early in Busou Renkin, Tokiko is infected with an alchemical parasite that will turn her into an homunculus in several days. For no explained reason, this will happen exactly at midnight.
  • One Ranma Ĺ storyline has Shampoo slowly being turned into a cat; if Ranma can't overcome his fear of cats by the time the new year's bell stops ringing then she'll stay that way forever.
  • Shakugan no Shana: the Reiji Meigo refills the bearer's power of existence every midnight. It apparently makes its own time zone adjustment, since it was created in Europe...
  • In Saint Seiya, Saori, the Goddess Athena, will die in twelve hours if...
  • In Code Geass Nightmare of Nunnally, at the stroke of midnight, Rolo brings up Cinderella losing her magic when the clock struck twelve, just before announcing the dissolution of the aristocracy and the cardinals of Eden Vital taking over in place of the governors general.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, the Wolkenritter are summoned at the stroke of midnight on Hayate's birthday.
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni: Anyone who hasn't been murdered yet at the stroke of midnight of the second day of the "Groundhog Day" Loop is killed by something. (As of the third arc, there's been one exception to this rule so far.)
  • Lucky Star uses this in the OVA. The downside is that Konata is the fairy godmother.
  • Odd non-magical version in The Castle of Cagliostro: When the mechanism to open the floodgate is triggered, the hour and minute hands on the Clock Tower move in opposite directions from where they had been to the twelve o'clock position, crushing the Count between them, and the bell chimes incessantly as the water pours out of the dam and the tower sinks.
  • Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge: Iwai's hair grows several feet in a matter of seconds at the stroke of midnight.
  • Irresponsible Captain Tylor. "The Day the Soyokaze Vanished". The marines are telling a Ghost Story about the previous captain who killed himself out of guilt after his vessel was Reassigned to Antarctica (just like them) and several members of his crew jumped out the airlock. At midnight the Soyokaze passes through a Negative Space Wedgie and all the clocks and watches are locked on 00:00:00, the exact moment the dead captain killed himself. The ghost of the dead captain then tries to force Captain Tylor to do the same (fortunately he's too cowardly to kill himself and too irresponsible to feel guilt).

    Comic Books 
  • The Sandman, when Dream summoned the Hecatae.
  • Lampshaded in the latest Buffy comic:
    "The closest I can guess is around Midnight?"
    "Why Midnight?"
    "I'm a witch, we like midnight."
  • Used in Watchmen often to symbolize the Doomsday Clock, claiming the world is getting closer to a total nuclear war.
    • It serves more of a red herring in Watchmen with the clock shown ticking to midnight as Rorschach and Niteowl race to stop Adrian from destroying NYC until Adrian reveals that he "did it thirty-five minutes ago."
  • Subverted in an issue of Supergirl during her "angel formed from a merger of human and shapeshifting protomatter-girl" period. Supergirl inquires a twentysomething witch about her divine fate, and is told to come back that night. Supergirl assumes the meeting will be at midnight, but the witch says 1:00am because she doesn't want to miss her favorite late-night show.
  • In the DC Universe, Jack O'Lantern's lantern fluctuates from being at full power at midnight and powerless at noon.

    Folklore 

    Film 
  • In Batman & Robin the entire city was frozen solid. Coincidentally the time between the freezing and midnight is exactly the (extremely arbitrary) interval earlier established as the amount of time an ice-covered person can stay alive. This example also crosses over with Artistic License - Biology.
  • Subverted in the live action Casper movie with Lampshade Hanging:
    Casper: So I have until midnight?
    Amelia: Ten.
    Casper: Hey! Cinderella got until midnight!
    Amelia: Cinderella wasn't twelve years old.
  • In Gremlins, feeding a mogwai after midnight would lead to disaster.
    • Gremlins 2: The New Batch includes a scene where several minor characters lampshade the hell out of the Fridge Logic involved in this (ie. what happens if he's eating on a plane and crosses a time zone?)
  • Averted in Groundhog Day, it's 6 AM that the reset happens, contrary to the expectations of at least one character.
  • In Van Helsing, the eponymous character has to be cured within the stroke of midnight of his first full moon. Fortunately for him, the stroke of midnight lasts ten minutes in Transylvania. This one gets special mention, because he had to wait until after the first stroke of midnight to kill Dracula.
  • The Matrix series
    • In The Matrix Reloaded, the bomb planted in the power plant is set to go off at midnight. It's justified in the movie by Morpheus saying that there's a shift change in the targeted buildings at midnight. Presumably this means that there will be confusion with people coming and going and it will be easier to sneak in during that period.
    • In The Matrix Revolutions, Neo tells the Oracle that the Architect told him that if he didn't return to the Source, Zion would be destroyed by midnight. Oddly enough this isn't true: in The Matrix Reloaded the Architect just said that the Matrix would be destroyed, not when.
  • This is spoofed in the movie Idle Hands: the main character's girlfriend's soul will be dragged in to Hell at midnight... Druid time. Which is in about six minutes.
  • Ella Enchanted, a Cinderella adaptation, has the critical moment of the movie at midnight. Char chose to propose at midnight in the Hall of Mirrors because his father did that too. Since Edgar's instructions regarding the sequence of events were quite specific "At midnight etc. etc." one wonders what would've happened had Char been delayed or something.
  • Monty Brewster had until midnight of the 30th day to spend his $30 million in Brewsters Millions (at least in the Richard Pryor version).
  • Lampshaded in Shrek 2, when Puss reads the fine print on the Happily Ever After Potion: "To make the effects of this potion permanent, the drinker must obtain his true love's kiss by midnight."
  • Labyrinth gave Sarah until 13:00 (no, not 1pm in military time, 13 o' clock) to get to the center of the titular maze and defeat the Goblin King, else her kidnapped baby stepbrother would forever become a goblin. Partway through the movie, Jareth taunts Sarah by manually spinning the clock's hands forward.
    • He says she has thirteen hours to solve the labyrinth but it's never indicated at what time she starts her journey. Jareth does indeed have a clock that goes up to thirteen, though.
  • Outland. In a homage to High Noon in this Space Western, the killers arrive on the weekly supply shuttle at exactly 12:00. (OK, it's not midnight, but has the same dramatic effect. Anyway there's no night in space).
  • The terrible (and later MST3K'd) movie Soultaker both used this trope straight, in that the life support machines that kept the two surviving main characters alive would be turned off at exactly midnight by the hospital (for no sensible reason), and then subverted it for no other reason than the need to stretch the movie out for a few more minutes, and so the midnight deadline is moved back indefinitely. A subversion constantly decried in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version because the film still constantly shows clocks well after the deadline has passed.
  • In Enchanted, after Giselle eats the poisoned apple, she must be revived by midnight or she will be dead for good.
  • In The Princess and the Frog, Charlotte is the Mardi Gras princess until Mardi Gras ends at midnight. Once midnight strikes causing Mardi Gras and Charlotte's resultant princess-dom to end, her kiss no longer qualifies to break spells. This is also a rare example of the first strike accurately signaling the top of the hour, and even then only because the scene wouldn't have worked the "traditional" way.
  • Little Nicky has a midnight deadline for restoring his brothers to Hell and saving the world.
  • The Arnold Schwarzenegger movie End of Days has the Antichrist arriving at midnight on a certain date. Arnie's response is: "Eastern Standard Time?" (The character telling him this goes on to state that monks worked this out in the 1600s, also coming up with the Gregorian calendar in the process... a conceit Roger Ebert royally tore apart.)
  • A similar snarky retort is slung at a caller on a phone-in radio show in the movie Strange Days, when she insisted that the world would end at midnight on the last night of 1999. The DJ points out that at the time she's calling, it's already past midnight in the Middle East, where any Biblical prophets presumably were located.
  • Probably the first cinematic example of this trope was in the 1920 silent film The Phantom Carriage, in which the last person to die before midnight on New Year's Eve is condemned to drive the carriage of Death and collect souls for the next year.
  • The divorce decree in The Awful Truth will become final at midnight.
  • You Only Live Twice. The Americans move their launch up to midnight, so Bond has to move quickly find the SPECTRE base and stop their plot. If he fails, the SPECTRE plan will work and the U.S. and U.S.S.R. will go to war.
  • Young Frankenstein has this twice.
    • At the beginning of the movie, just after the clock strikes twelve midnight someone removes a box containing Baron von Frankenstein's will from the hands of his corpse inside his coffin.
    • Near the end the transference between Frederick and the monster is scheduled to conclude at midnight.
  • The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. According to local legend, Mr. Simmons murdered his wife and then played on an organ around midnight before committing suicide. Ever since that night, people have heard organ music coming from the Simmons house at midnight.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit. If Marvin Acme's will isn't found by midnight, the Diabolical Mastermind Judge Doom will own Toontown.
  • Murder by Death. Lionel Twain says that the murder will take place at midnight.
  • The Cheap Detective. Paul and Marlene DuChard must be on the ferry to Oakland to escape the Germans. It leaves at midnight.
  • Blazing Saddles. Sheriff Bart tells his friend to bring his fellow railway workers and a load of equipment to a specific spot at midnight. Bart plans to have them meet with the people of Rock Ridge to make a deal.
  • The Fog (1980). At midnight things start to go a little crazy in the town of Antonio Bay. Church bells start ringing, a dog barks at the ocean, and a car alarm goes off for no reason. Later the audience learns that many years earlier six conspirators met from midnight to 1:00 a.m. to plot a mass murder.
  • In Dead in Tombstone, Satan returns Guerrero to Earth and gives him 24 hours to slay the six gang members who murdered him. He is returned at midnight, so has until the stroke of midnight the next night to complete his mission.
  • Variation where the time isn't midnight: in the first Back to the Future Marty must get the DeLorean to hit the wire right when the lightning strikes the clock tower; thanks to the Stopped Clock of the present (and the helpful flyer about it) they know the exact time the bolt will hit so they can time it right (10:04 PM).

    Literature 
  • In Harry Potter, Voldemort's deadline.
  • In Tom's Midnight Garden, the garden appears when the clock strikes thirteen.
  • In Jack Chalker's 1977 novel Midnight At The Well of Souls, the six gateways to the Well open at local midnight. That was the time the shift changed (as in the Matrix Reloaded example above) and it was the only automatic access left in the system.
  • A few in Discworld:
    • Reaper Man, the new Death comes at midnight because of Drama, as lampshaded by Bill Door, who notes that a Death who first appears in the flash of a lightning bolt would never collect him at 11:45 when he could do it at Midnight.
    • Witches Abroad, spoofing the Cinderella story, has the witches fiddling with the clock to make midnight come earlier.
    • The plot of Mort is kicked off with the title character as the only boy not apprenticed on hiring day and stubbornly waiting until the clock finishes chiming midnight before giving up. Just before the last chime Death turns up and takes him as an apprentice.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story The Hour of the Dragon, executions are at midnight.
  • The Dresden Files: Sunrise is a typical benchmark for spells to either weaken or outright end as it is a moment of rebirth for the world.
    • The entropy curse in Blood Rites needs to be done at a very specific time to work—thirteen minutes before midnight or noon.
    • Likewise, the Leanansidhe's vast gifts to Harry in Changes have their own deadline, as is befitting for a faerie godmother. Since Lea's a Winter fae, however, the deadline is noon the next day instead of midnight.
    • In Cold Days it is revealed for the supernatural world, Halloween Night officially doesn't end until the first birdsong is sung.
  • A Hunger Games arena follows the hours like a clock. Lightning strikes at twelve. And that becomes important.
  • In A Night in the Lonesome October, the familiars can only speak with their human masters between 12 and 1 at night. At one point, Snuff addresses Jack specifically to check the time.
  • The Night of Wishes: The deadline. Also, the wishes granted by the potion would only come in reverse if made before the first strike. Saint Sylvester helped the heroes by giving them a strike to be tossed at the cauldron.
  • In Seanan McGuire's Velveteen Vs the Junior Super Patriots, the Midnight Coffee Society plans its strike for then.
  • In Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, Catherine intends to investigate the abbey after midnight — and falls asleep first.
  • In Dorothy Gilman's The Clairvoyant Countess, Gavin is roused from sleep, shrieking, and collapses. Once they lie him down again, Madame Karitska notes that it is two minutes after midnight. His father had killed the rest of his family, and himself, at that time; Madame Karitska had prevented Gavin's being sent home to die as well.
  • In Also Sprach Zarathustra, Zarathustra meditates deeply at midnight on man, sleep, awakening, the world, woe, pleasure and eternity, all between the first and twelfth strokes.
  • Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death". A Anthropomorphic Personification of the Red Death disease appears at Prince Prospero's ball at the stroke of midnight.
  • "Usher II", one of Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles short stories that was based on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher". The Red Death appears at midnight, just before Usher II is destroyed.
  • The clock quite distinctly rings twelve just before the climax of "Prince Charming", causing Vasilisa to rush out of the room, and causing Princess Anastasia to wonder why the events of the evening are starting to resemble another familiar old story she knew...
  • Montague Rhodes James once discovered a manuscript in the British Museum with a set of pre-1300's ghost stories. In one of them, a man met a ghost while he was traveling on a road at midnight.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The classic slapstick British comedy Bottom gets a few laughs out of this trope during the Halloween episode, "Terror". When the protagonists attempt to summon The Devil Richy claims that he'll probably appear at midnight. Spud Gun wonders why he would only appear at midnight, to which Eddie replies that it's because that's when the pub closes.
  • In the Criminal Mind Games episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the killer leaves a note telling the detectives the victim will be dead if they don't "find him by tomorrow." Munch wonders if "tomorrow" means "same time tomorrow or midnight tonight?" Cragen responds, "Let's assume worst case scenario." Midnight — which turns out to be right, unfortunately for the victim.
  • The first season of 24 started at midnight.
    • The entire premise of the series is built around the deadline aspect of this trope.
  • Subverted in NewsRadio, when Jimmy has a midnight deadline to sell the station:
    Mr. James: It's almost 12:00. Is anybody gonna try to talk me out of this?
    Matthew: Nope. Cause we don't have to.
    Mr. James: Why is that Matthew?
    Matthew: Well, because I took the liberty of turning the clock back ten minutes, it is actually 12:05, which means you missed your midnight deadline... yes!
    Mr. James: Matthew, that 12:00 was just a loose guideline. I'm dealing with a corporation here, not magical fairies.
  • Happened multiple times in The Twilight Zone TOS.
    • In "Shadowplay", Adam Grant is a convicted murderer sentenced to be executed at midnight, who claims that the whole situation is a dream he's having. Prosecutor Henry Ritchie talks with newspaper editor Paul Carson about it:
    Carson: That's another thing. Why does this always happen around midnight?
    Ritchie: Because that's when it happens!
    Carson: Yeah, but why?
    Ritchie: You tell me why!
    Carson: According to Grant, he doesn't know anything about these matters except what he sees in the movies. In the movies it always happens at midnight.
    Ritchie: Because movies are technically accurate!
    Carson: Yeah, that's strange too when you come to think of it.
    • In "One for the Angels", a young girl is scheduled to die at midnight, and a sidewalk pitchman must distract Death from taking her.
    • "The Obsolete Man". When the prosecutor asks Mr. Wordsworth when he wants to be executed, Wordsworth picks the traditional time: midnight.
  • In Charmed, Midnight is referred to as the greatest in-between i.e. where it's possible to see fairies and goblins (without being near a usual in-between such as a door or window).
  • Doctor Who: In the 1996 TV movie the Earth was destined to be turned inside out (or something?) straight at midnight PST of 31st December 1999.
  • In the Season Nine M*A*S*H episode "Death Takes a Holiday", the doctors desperately try to keep a moribund patient alive until after midnight on December 25, because they (B.J., especially) don't want his family to remember Christmas Day as the day he died. Failing in their task with only about 10 minutes to go, Hawkeye simply moves the hands of the wall clock past midnight, and they decide that 12:05 on the 26th will be his "official" time of death. Even the normally by-the-book Margaret sympathetically accedes to this falsification of records.
  • In Sesame Street, there was a Japanese tale called "The Mystery of the Four Dragons", where a boy is challenged to find four dragons in a room before the clock chimes midnight. The villain is convinced that he will never find them and seems to be proven right when the clock starts chiming, but the boy finds them just in time before the chimes conclude.
  • Batman
    • "The Joker's Flying Saucer". When the Joker's henchman places a time bomb inside the Batmobile, he sets it to go off at midnight.
    • "The Bookworm Turns/While Gotham City Burns". The Bookworm ties Robin to the clapper in the bell of the Big Benjamin clock. When the clock strikes midnight, the clapper will slam Robin against the bell and kill him.
    • ''An Egg Grows in Gotham". According to the Gotham City Charter, nine raccoon pelts must be delivered to Chief Screaming Chicken on a certain day. If he does not receive the pelts by midnight on that day, the ownership of the city reverts to him.
  • House of Anubis
    • The Cup Of Ankh could only be assembled during a certain time on a certain date, and the time was of course midnight.
    • Nina's initiation also took place at midnight, as it was the 'bewitching hour'.
  • UFO episode "ESP". John Croxley's wife was killed by a UFO crashing into his house and he blames SHADO for her death. He lures Ed Straker and Alec Freeman to the ruins of his house with the intent of killing them at midnight.

    Music 
  • "Danse Macabre" by Camille Saint-SaŽns begins with the harp striking twelve.
  • "Mitternacht" by E Nomine
  • Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley And His Comets note  which has the exact trope name in one of the lyrics:
    "When the clock strikes twelve, we'll cool off then/Start rockin' 'round the clock again..."

    Other Sites 
  • SCP Foundation
    • SCP-616 "The Vessel and the Gate". Interview A says that the horrifying flight of SCP-616 that brought it to the Foundation's attention occurred at midnight.
    • SCP-2701 ("True Solitary"). On the date that a prisoner is scheduled to be released, the door of cell 667 closes and locks at midnight and the prisoner reappears within the cell.

    Pinball 
  • In Theatre of Magic, advancing the clock to midnight starts Midnight Madness; the clock goes backwards from midnight, and each shot to the Magician's Trunk scores 2 million times the current hour.
  • In FunHouse, Rudy the Living Dummy falls asleep promptly at midnight, allowing the player to shoot a ball in his mouth and begin multiball.

    Radio Drama 
  • In the Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama The Chimes of Midnight, a servant is murdered every time the hour is struck, until the clock strikes midnight and time winds back to ten o'clock and the whole thing starts all over again.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Exalted, demon summoning always requires a set timeline for the ritual — the sorcerer must begin the ritual at sundown and conclude it at midnight. The higher the class of demon, the more restricted the times one can summon — a First Circle Demon can be summoned any night, a Second Circle Demon can be summoned on nights of the new moon, and a Third Circle Demon can only be summoned at Calibration (the five-day period at the end of the year when fate checks its books).
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Dungeon magazine #5 adventure "The Stolen Power". The cult of Shami-Amourae the Queen of Succubi, sacrifices victims to her once a month at midnight on the night of the full moon.
    • Ravenloft
      • Module I6 Ravenloft. Each night at midnight, in the Barovia town cemetery one hundred spirits rise and form a ghostly procession to Castle Ravenloft. They are the spirits of people who died trying to destroy Strahd - their journey is an attempt to finish the job, which always fails.
      • Campaign expansion Masque of the Red Death, adventure "Red Death". When the Ebony Clock strikes midnight the Red Death disease will strike every living creature in the mansion and kill them.
    • Module DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor. Each day at midnight the Comeback Inn magically re-creates all food eaten, cleans up all messes made and clothing in wardrobes, and repairs all items broken the prior day.
    • Module FROA1 Ninja Wars. Takako Shimizu was infected by an unusual tigbanua biso and becomes a tagamaling buso at midnight each night.
    • Module OA2 Night of the Seven Swords. Outside the castle of Ito-Jo the PCs will meet a ragged group of twelve peasants. At midnight the peasants will change into the deadly monsters known as tagamaling buso and attack the party.
    • Module OA7 Test of the Samurai. A huge Chaotic Evil krakentua monster has destroyed a village and enslaved the villagers. It appears before the villagers twice a month at midnight.
    • Module WG7 Castle Greyhawk.
      • In level 2 "It's My Party and I'll Die If I Want To", the big party will start at the stroke of midnight. It's sure to be a smash because the organizers have invited all of the arch devils and demon lords of the evil outer planes.
      • Level 10 "Fluffy Goes Down The Drain". The demon lord Juiblex promises that if he's allowed to attend the masquerade ball he'll leave promptly at midnight. Astonishingly enough for a Chaotic Evil creature, he's as good as his word.
    • Module X4 Master of the Desert Nomads. While the PCs are passing through the Salt Swamp they will encounter an evil force known as the Malakaz. As long as they stay in the area, the Malakaz will try to put them all to sleep each night at midnight. If it succeeds it will drain the mind of one of them, leaving the victim a mental vegetable.
    • Basic D&D
      • Supplement The Book of Marvelous Magic. Each night at midnight, if any ale remains in the Tun of Ale it will refill to the half-full point.
      • Companion Set. If a Hurricane Lamp has been opened, at midnight it closes and resets itself. It must be opened (and its hurricane released) before it can be used again.
    • Mayfair's Role Aids supplement Lizardmen.
      • During the night of the Suitor's Festival, if a man can reach his beloved by the stroke of midnight and propose to her and she accepts, no one can prevent them from marrying.
      • In the adventure "The Sound of Feet in the Fog", the ship Rogue Wind will set sail on its portentous voyage at midnight.
    • Mayfair Games' Role Aids supplement Dark Folk. The gnolls of the Jovian Swamp have captured the magic user Yolanda. They plan to sacrifice her at midnight to the gnoll deity Zyrmgnollven to sanctify the marriage between the new gnoll chieftain and the daughter of the old chieftain.
  • In Nomine. Creatures regain Essence at specific times of day. Ethereal spirits get theirs back at midnight.
  • Judges Guild supplement Wilderlands of the Fantastic Reaches. Each year on the shortest night of the year, one of the black pillars on the island of Costel Kay will turn white for one hour starting at midnight. A weapon that touches the pillar during this time will not be affected by rust for the next ten years.
  • Call of Cthulhu
    • 3rd Edition Main rules, adventure "The Madman". The Mi-Go have been performing midnight ceremonies in an attempt to summon the Great Old One Ithaqua.
    • Fragments of Fear adventure "The Underground Menace". If the PC Investigators flee from the Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath, a week later it will summon a Hunting Horror of Nyarlathotep that will attack the PCs at midnight.
    • Shadows of Yog-Sothoth
      • Adventure "The Worm That Walks''. While the PC investigator is in the hospital, the title monster will attempt to establish a psychic link to him (by putting its hand over the PC's face) each night at midnight. When it succeeds it will immediately take its true form and attempt to rend the PC to bits with its huge claws.
      • Adventure "The Watchers of Easter Island". The Crawling One (a The Worm That Walks) performs a human sacrifice once every three days at midnight to power the moai (statues) so they can call the Messenger of the Old Ones.
    • The Fungi From Yuggoth. The Big Bad opponent of the PCs is Edward Chandler, head of the New World Incorporated Mega Corp.. He was born at midnight on Candlemas, thus fulfilling an ancient prophecy that he would bring about the Day of the Beast and allow the forces of the Cthulhu Mythos to take over the Earth.
    • The Asylum and Other Tales adventure "The Madman". Every four days at midnight, Adam the Bad will go out to the concrete slabs and perform a ceremony to consecrate one of them so they can be used to cast the Call Hastur spell.
    • Dreamlands
      • Adventure "The Land of Lost Dreams". If the Investigators fail to stop the Spirit of Xura, at midnight on February 14th it will rip open Neil Bruford's body end enter our universe. This will bring despair and madness to the entire city.
      • Adventure "Season of the Witch". Ghouls are used to dig up three graves in the Aylesbury Hill Graveyard at midnight and steal the bodies for nefarious necromantic purposes.
    • Masks of Nyarlathotep chapter 2 "London"
      • "The Derbyshire Monster". The werewolf Eloise Vane changes to monster form at midnight on nights with a full moon.
      • "Slaughter in Soho". Yalesha, a dancer at the Blue Pyramid club, will tell any investigators she encounters to meet her at midnight down the street. She tells them that once a month a truck appears around midnight and takes some Cthulhu Mythos cultists to an unknown location (in fact, they participate in an evil cult ceremony at midnight).
  • Rolemaster Shadow World setting
    • Kingdom of the Desert Jewel. If the PCs release the Class V Wraith in the Pyramid of Mortu, it will appear each night at midnight and attack them until either they kill it or it kills them.
    • Jaiman: Land of Twilight
      • Adventure "Cult of the Third Moon". The Priestess of the title cult performs a human sacrifice ceremony at midnight. She does so in order to drain the Life Energy of the victim and maintain her immortality.
      • Adventure "Pride of the Gryphon". In the Back Story, the burial ceremonies of the King Zor took place in the Catacombs of Ur at midnight.
  • Demon Magic: The Second Stormbringer Companion adventure "The Velvet Circle".
    • The PCs are summoned by the gods themselves to a fateful meeting with the Melnibonean sorcerer Kolan Tal. The meeting takes place at the Dark Pearl in the city of Ilmor at midnight.
    • In the town of Fakash, the Human Sacrifices to the Chaos Lord Hionhurn the Executioner begin at midnight.
  • Mythus/Dangerous Journeys main rules
    • Witch/Warlock ceremonies (Esbats and Sabbats) always start at the stroke of midnight.
    • The Witch/Warlock power Beastform allows a witch or warlock to change into a savage beast starting at midnight and lasting til dawn on nights when the moon is full or dark.
  • Alternity supplement Beyond Science: A Guide to FX. If a cup of human blood is poured into the FX device known as the Infernal Toad at midnight, the Toad will summon a least demon.
  • TimeLords adventure Supertanker of Death. The SLA terrorists will attack the Omni Corporation's Sinaloa factory at midnight.
  • Ars Magica
    • 3rd Edition adventure "The Pact of Pasaquine". The night the PCs arrive at Pasaquine they hear wolf howls in the woods. At midnight there is a sudden silence in the village and the Faerie wolf Hrulgar and thirteen other faerie wolves pad into town to confront the villagers.
    • 4th Edition adventure "The Fallen Angel". The demon Crom Vruach falls to Earth in meteorite form at midnight on the winter solstice. Six months later, at midnight on the summer solstice he hatches out in his new Nigh Invulnerable iron body and summons two more demons.
    • Mythic Perspectives fanzine #9 (Autumn 1999)
      • "Draugadrottin, The Norse Necromancer". A necromancer begins her ritual to raise a dead body as a draug (powerful zombie) at midnight.
      • "More on Exceptional Abilities". In an example, a woman has Second Sight (the ability to see the supernatural) because she was born at midnight on All Hallows Eve, and thus stands between the worlds of tha living and the dead.
  • Dragon Warriors RPG. Each night at midnight a Sorcerer who has less than the maximum number of Magic Points has their Magic Points restored to their normal score.
  • Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
    • In the adventure seed "Web of Deceit", a ship carrying an important artifact is scheduled to leave port at midnight. The final showdown between the PCs and and the other factions trying to obtain the artifact will occur just before the ship leaves.
    • "And Then There Were None...". Every 666 months a family meets to renew a pact with the Devil. On the night of the full moon, at midnight the Devil appears. One member of the family and a number of outsiders are sacrificed and the remaining family members regain their youth.

    Theater 
  • Into the Woods, strung out to the twelfth chime, too. And why is a chime chiming in the middle of the woods?
    "Bring me these by the time of midnight in three days' time, and you shall have, I guarantee, a child as perfect as child can be! Go to the woods!"
  • The mice arrive at midnight in The Nutcracker.
  • The Rake's Progress is another case of the twelfth-stroke deadline, with the time between strokes supernaturally dilated to accommodate a deadline extension.
  • Older Than Steam: In A Midsummer Night's Dream (rather anachronistic for something purportedly set in Ancient Greece):
    Theseus: The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve: Lovers, to bed; 'tis almost fairy time.
  • In The Cat and the Canary, Cyrus West dictated that his will be read at midnight twenty years after his death.
  • In The Merry Wives of Windsor, Falstaff disguised as Herne the Hunter meets Mistress Ford in Winsor Forest at midnight.
  • In Der Rosenkavalier, in the Marschallin's meditation on time, a midnight chime accompanies her saying that sometimes she rises in the middle of the night and stops all the clocks. The celesta and harps actually make thirteen strokes, due to the idiosyncrasies of 18th-century clocks.
  • In El Amor Brujo, the famous "Ritual Fire Dance" to chase away evil spirits follows the midnight chimes. Preposterously, a standard cut reduces the number of strokes from twelve to six.

    Videogames 
  • The central plot of Persona 3: When the Clock Strikes Twelve (literally), a Dark World appears and spews monstrosity. One can only wonder the implications this has to the main characters' life.
    • In its sequel, Persona 4, rumour has it that, if you stare into a TV screen on a rainy night at midnight, you will see your soul mate. It turns out that this is all too true, though it's not exactly your soul mate who's displayed, but instead the next target of a serial murderer...
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, when the clock strikes twelve on the eve of the Carnival of Time, the Clock Tower opens, allowing festival-goers to ascend it. Since this year there's also a Omnicidal Maniac calling the place his home, it's also when the rather creepy "we're all going to die" BGM starts playing, no matter where the player is in the game world.
    • In a kind of subversion, the moon won't crash until 6 in the morning, as that is when the three days have passed. It still fits when you go to fight the final boss, however, as you are likely to do it as soon as the Clock tower opens.
  • In Quest For Glory 1, the mandrake root must be plucked from the ground at precisely midnight, otherwise it vanishes in your hands.
  • In the hidden object/puzzle game Nightmare Realm, the Extractor kidnaps Emily at exactly 11:59 pm, one minute before her 7th birthday.
  • The ZX Spectrum game Killed Until Dead gives you until midnight, game time, to stop the planned murder.
  • Bioshock Infinite. At one point, if you can decrypt a coded message you are given a clue that mentions "midnight". If you turn a nearby clock's hands to 12:00, it opens a hidden compartment filled with goodies.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Beatrice's letter informs the family that they have until midnight on October 5th to solve the epitaph and stop her from "collecting the interests". If they don't, "the witch will revive and the door to the Golden Land will be opened."
    Beatrice: Please abandon the idea that you will be able to escape when the sun rises. When time runs out, vitory shall be mine. There will be no draw.

    Web Originals 
  • During the opening of the Homestar Runner Halloween-themed game "Halloween Potion-ma-Jig", Marzipan demands Homestar gather all the ingredients before midnight. However, since the player has no time limit for making choices, they never explain what would happen if Homestar doesn't make it in time.

    Western Animation 
  • The Halloween Episode of CatDog used a minor variation; the deadline's not midnight itself, but rather the twelfth chime of midnight. How the curse knows how many chimes have passed is not mentioned.
  • Batman: The Animated Series episode Holiday Knights has bombs set to go off when the new year ball drops at midnight.
  • Inverted in the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon episode City at the Edge of Midnight, in which enslaved children "hold back the wheels of time, for the clock must never strike midnight".
  • Inspector Gadget, Cuckoo Clock Caper. Penny is Bound and Gagged under a giant mallet that will crush her when the clock strikes five. "Guess who won't be alive?"
  • In Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama, Drakken states that he would launch his giant robot army around the world at midnight.
    • That would mean that after Kim and Ron foiled Drakken's scheme and saved the world, it was after midnight when they went to the prom and shared their First Kiss. Guess Kim's parents decided to be lenient on her curfew this time.
    • Maybe he was in a different time zone when he activated it?
  • The Fourth Halloween Special of The Simpsons has the trial for Homer's soul start at the stroke of midnight.
  • Fantasia: The "Night On Bald Mountain" gave way to "Ave Maria" at midnight — with the creatures flinching until the last stroke, when they retreated.
  • The Buffalo stampede on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
  • In the "Earl of Crankcase" arc in Rocky and Bullwinkle, Bullwinkle must stay in an old mansion for one week to claim an inheritance. On the last day of the week, Boris tries to get Bullwinkle to leave the mansion before midnight. Lampshaded in the final episode, when as the clock chimes twelve, Boris announces, "Lawyer will be here any episode now!"
  • Very much parodied Up to Eleven in The Pink Panther episode "Cinderpink", aired in 1995, which had much Lampshade Hanging and Discussed Tropes of this.
    • The 1968 cartoon "Pinkerella" also follows this.
  • Wunschpunsch: In the episode that was adapted from the book, the spell was cast at five o'clock afternoon, meaning it had to be broken before midnight.
    • In "Slowly but Surely", the spell was cast at five o'clock in the morning, meaning it had to be broken before noon.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Candace signed an agreement not to try to bust her brothers more than once per day. Her mother considered adding a new clause when Candace took advantage of the fact Midnight marks the beginning of a new day.
  • Muppet Babies: "Pigerella" had Piggy imagining herself as Cinderella. Gonzo, the Fairy Godmother, changed it to seven for a similar reason it was done to Casper in the film.
  • In Rudolphs Shiny New Year, the kidnapped baby new year had to be back at Father Time's castle by the 12th bong of midnight on Dec.31st,or time would stop. Justified because of the whole New Year thing.
  • The Magic Adventures Of Mumfie did this in the Scarecrowella episode.

    Real Life 
  • New Year's Day. Happens every year.
    • Walt Disney World's Pleasure does this every night with party to boot.
    • In London, People in the right spot can actually hear Big Ben chime 13 times, by means of the delay in soundwaves from the tower combined with a live broadcast.
  • If you look at it that way it is actually a daily event.
  • Ever taken an online class, or had to submit an assignment through online means? You will know what it's like to be working right up until 11:59 PM and have to shoot off an e-mail or upload the word file like you're trying to Outrun the Fireball.
    • In keeping with the academic world theme, also a favorite of researchers and PhD students worldwide when it comes to registrations for a conference, abstract submissions, filing of reimbursement applications and so on - most of these, regardless of institution or even country, usually have similar online registration procedures and similar deadlines. Guess which. So, hey, why bother with uploading that abstract or poster several months or weeks prior if you can do it at 23:58?
  • The Doomsday Clock is a meter for the world's impending destruction made by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists magazine. It was first invented to show the closeness of the nuclear holocaust during the Cold War. It is measured in minutes to midnight on a clockface. Guess what event 0:00 represents.
  • Serial Killer Ion Rimaru a.k.a. "The Vampire of Bucharest", only attacked after midnight. And only in nights with spooky weather, too.
  • This figured into the death of King George V of the United Kingdom. To give him a more dignified death, his doctor lethally injected him with a mix of cocaine and morphine (though George V didn't agree and cursed out the doctor for his trouble). This death would be the one which appeared in the Times, which had a midnight deadline. Unfortunately, the doctor nearly screwed up here- George V was killed in Sandringham at 11:20, where the clocks were set back half an hour, meaning he actually died at 11:50- ten minutes before the Times deadline. George's successor, Edward VIII, was furious when he found out and promptly switched all the clocks in Sandringham back to regular time.

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night 24 -Hour Trope ClockDoomsday Clock
What Happened to the Mouse?Fairy Tale TropesWicked Stepmother
Wedding DayOlder Than SteamA Wizard Did It
What Year Is This?Narrative Devices'Where Are They Now?" Epilogue

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