A commonly used device when the character gets a moment of clarity, shock, or insight: what looks like a laser or a lightning bolt on a black background will shoot behind their heads. Used to emphasize the urgency or impact of what the character has just realized.
Not to be confused with the similar Thunder Shock, which expresses, well, shock.
- Various moments in Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z when someone senses another character's ki (energy).
- It also marks the triggering of many transformations. In particular, Goku turning into the Oozaru while imprisoned by Pilaf; Gohan's first transformation into the Oozaru during his survival training under Piccolo in the Saiyan saga; the flashback to Vegeta's first transformation to Super Saiyan in the Androids saga; Trunks' first transformation into Super Saiyan after the murder of Gohan by Androids 17 and 18 in the bad future; and Gohan's first transformation into Super Saiyan 2 when triggered by Perfect Cell murdering Android 16 during the Cell Games.
- Another instance where it is used frequently is in Detective Conan, whenever the title character finally realizes who the criminal is. It's also used when a character finds a breakthrough, when the suspect/victim of the week hears something uncomfortable that is bound to turn up later.
- Glass Mask repeatedly uses this when Maya, or Ayumi, struggle with their portrayal of a character and then suddenly get this beam, when they manage to figure out how to properly do it.
- Ditto title hero of The Kindaichi Case Files.
- Can be seen at various points in Ranma ½, usually used for comic effect.
- Often occurs in Yu-Gi-Oh!, when Yugi manages to think up a strategy to beat his latest opponent.
- Seen in the sixth episode of the TV version of Ah! My Goddess, when Belldandy sensed the entity possessing Megumi's apartment.
- In Gundam shows, the Beam of Enlightenment signifies a Newtype's danger sense going off, and is generally referred to as the "Newtype flash" by fans.
- Every time Kaiji discovers anything at all, there's a notorious close-up of his face with a lightning bolt in the background.
- One of the songs on the soundtrack is even entitled "Beam of Light".
- Sena, the running back nicknamed Eyeshield 21, often has these when noticing his enemy's weakness, or realizing how to make himself faster/stronger.
- Also very frequent in Cromartie High School.
- In Kotoura-san, these will show up the moment Haruka's Telepathy catches onto something dramatic and/or serious.
- This happens to Meowth once in the DP era of the Pokémon anime when Jessie and James try to scapegoat him for a failed plan to catch Ash's Pikachu, leading to a temporary end of their partnership as Meowth (and, subsequently, Jessie) try to go straight.
- Jake Blues in The Blues Brothers experiences this in a black church, which sets the plot ball rolling.
- Shows up whenever the Dimensional Scream activates in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky, and the anime specials based on them.
- Used in El Goonish Shive when, thinking that she's going to die, Ellen temporarily goes nuts.