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Blinding Camera Flash

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A person uses a camera and takes a photo... and the flash wasn't off. The resulting flash either blinds the unfortunate recipient of said photo or makes them see spots. This can be used as a handy distraction or even as a nasty form of Improvised Weapon. Truth in Television, as anyone who's ever had to take a school photo or have been at an area with a lot of flash photography can attest.

Sub-Trope of Blinded by the Light. Compare Weaponized Camera where this effect may be exploited in a combat situation. See also Epileptic Flashing Lights, in which multiple, quick, successive flashes are used to disorient, and Blinded by the Sun. The Paparazzi may cause this when photographing a target.


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    Anime And Manga 
  • In one episode of Last Exile, a highborn officer notices that the bird he bet on in the races is about to lose, so he has a photographer do this right before the finish line so the one that would have won slows down and his bird wins the race.
  • In Trigun Stampede, Meryl (a reporter in this version, and aided by her mentor) rescues Vash from E.G. the Mine by blinding E.G. with her camera, grabbing onto him while he's distracted, and refusing to let go or be shaken off — forcing him to disarm all the bombs he's planted if he wants to avoid being blown up with her.

    Comic Books 
  • In Cavewoman: River Styx, Meriem uses the flash on a photographer's camera to blind a cave-dwelling Killer Gorilla whose eyes are adapted to functioning in very low levels of light.
  • In Gaston Lagaffe, Gaston's home-made flash is strong enough to not only blind Fantasio and De Mesmaeker, but also blacken their skin, scorch their clothes, vaporize the champagne they were about to drink, and burn the signed contracts to ashes.
  • In a Spirou & Fantasio story, Spirou uses the flash of a camera to blind two thugs who had cornered them. Since they were in a mall at night, this is very effective and blinds the thugs long enough for Spirou and his friends to run and hide away.

    Fan Works 
  • In First Steps, Bert's new camera has an intensely bright flash due to being designed to take night pictures. He tries to adjust it down before taking a picture of Cyril, but accidentally turns it the wrong way and ends up temporarily blinding Cyril.
  • Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space. Captain Proton opens the door to his hotel room and thinks he's been ambushed when a blinding flash of light goes off in his face. Instead of a supervillain with a Ray Gun, it's Intrepid Reporter Buster Kincaid, whom Proton dubs "The Flash" for his habit of doing this trope to everyone he meets. At the climax of their adventure, Proton is being held at gunpoint by the villain who insists that Buster record him killing Earth's greatest hero. Turns out Buster is actually a secret agent with the appropriate gadgetry.
    He barely had time to scream as a terrible flash burnt his shadow against the wall.
    "Oops!" said Buster, unscrewing the bulb with lead-lined gloves.

    Films Animation 
  • Early in Finding Nemo, just right after capturing Nemo, the scuba diver takes a picture of Marlin, the flash stunning Marlin and preventing him from going after his son.
  • Accidentally happens in Hoodwinked! when Twitchy takes one of these photos in the Wolf's face. "Would you put that away?! It's covert, no flash!" Twitchy promptly puts the flashbulb away. He then accidentally swallows the bulb, and the next time he opens his mouth it flashes in Red's face.
  • In Toy Story 2, the toys use flashes to stop Stinky Pete from hurting Woody.

    Films Live-Action 
  • Aftermath (2021): Natalie uses a camera flash to blind Otto, and keep him from killing her.
  • When Kate finds out Gremlins don't like bright lights, she uses a camera flash to keep them at bay until she runs out of film.
  • In The Great Muppet Caper, Gonzo takes a group shot of everyone at the Happiness Hotel, giving everyone bulging eyes, even the characters with Eyes Always Shut...
    • He later takes a photo of the audience at the end of the credits, causing the screen to cut to black.
    "I'll send each of you a copy!"
  • In I Love Your Work, the main character is a Hollywood actor who gets disoriented whenever walking the red carpet by the flashing bulbs. In the end, there is a callback to this as he makes a stand against a line of cops.
  • The Jewel of the Nile. One of the Sufi takes a picture of a guard, then everyone slips by while he's rubbing his eyes.
  • In Johnny Dangerously, there's a scene where Johnny gets photographed repeatedly and then promptly walks into the wall he couldn't see anymore.
  • Used in Rear Window as a way to stall a killer.
  • In Ring of Fear, O'Malley blinds Spillane by jamming his camera in his face and triggering the flash. While Spillane is blinded, O'Malley knocks him out.

  • Used as a political dirty trick in "A Bathroom Of Her Own" by Robert A. Heinlein. A political candidate is blinded by an unexpected camera flash, with a second picture being taken a moment later as he tries to recover. The picture from the second camera - showing the candidate looking confused, dazzled and dopey - is then used by his opponents in their attack ads.
  • The Count of 9: The very first paragraph has Donald walking into the detective agency and being blinded by a camera flash. His boss Bertha is having a photographer, Lionel Palmer, take publicity photos.
  • Weaponized in Debt of Honor, when Clark and Chavez, posing as geologists, are tasked with capturing a dangerous African warlord while surrounded by the warlord's men. Chavez pulls out what looks like a specialized light system, claiming that it's for photography, and then asks to take a picture of the warlord. The flash is so bright that everyone standing within range is incapacitated for about 5 minutes, more than enough time for Clark and Chavez to tie up all the guards. It's later used to save the Japanese Prime Minister, but because it was intended for an outdoor environment, Chavez gets dazed by the flash himself. It's also used as a directed weapon to blind two pilots at a critical moment of landing, from a distance of several hundred feet, causing both planes to crash.
  • Discworld:
    • In The Colour of Magic, Bel-Shamharoth is defeated from the flash of Twoflower's iconograph going off. As a bonus there's even a photograph later, it's mostly of Rincewind's thumb with a few tentacles waving around at the edges.
    • Exaggerated by Otto von Chriek ever since his introduction in The Truth. He's a vampire who loves photography. As a result, whenever he takes a flash photo, it results in his demise until blood is poured on his ashes. He's tried a few solutions, but not using the flash hasn't been one of them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Cheers:
    • In "Backseat Becky", one of the many obstacles in Rebecca's way is that when she and Evan Drake are alone is a photographer blinding her with a camera. As she's complaining about the flash, Drake walks off.
    • In the episode with Woody and Kelly's wedding, Cliff's camera had an ultra-bright flash.
  • In an episode of CSI where the Victim of the Week was a celebrity, Al Robbins, the coroner, caught a paparazzi in the morgue trying to photograph the corpse. He tried to use this to escape... Dr. Robbins was having none of it and tripped him over with his cane before calling security.
  • Doctor Who: In "Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror", the Doctor uses an old camera found on the Skithra ship to temporarily blind the Queen and some of her minions so she, Yaz and Tesla can teleport away.
  • Frasier: Martin Crane's infamous "Scheerblad 7XK", which is described by Niles and Frasier as, "the Blindingest, Noisiest, 15lbs Camera, ever produced in the former Soviet Union!" and "The Old Flash and Wind", respectively. The flash is so strong, it practically pushed people backwards from the force of it. At one point Frasier even uses the flash to escape an awkward moment when he blabs to Daphne about some of Niles's old flames before her; using the momentary explosion of light to blind his family as he runs like a girl out the door. The episode's credits, show many photos taken with the camera, in which everybody pictured is washed out, screaming, with their eyes bugging out of their heads. The final picture being Frasier with a crazed and furious look on his face, charging Martin to grab and presumably destroy the offending camera.
  • In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Bully", when Monk and Natalie follow Roderick Brody's wife to a bar, Monk tries to take a photo with a very old and out-of-date camera. Due to the dim lighting, he installs a flashcube. To take the picture in question, he has Natalie stand a spoon on its end and photographs the reflection. Of course, the result is a flash bright enough that it causes Monk and Natalie, and possibly the audience, to squint their eyes for a few seconds to counteract the sudden brightness.
  • The obnoxious reporter in "The Model Teacher" subjects Our Miss Brooks to several.
  • Happened in Quantum Leap to Sam when a reporter's flashbulb exploded in his face, temporarily blinding him. Since Sam was currently impersonating a blind person, this saved him from being exposed as a sighted impersonator.
  • Treadstone. In the first episode CIA agent Bentley is being held at gunpoint by KGB agent Petra in a mortuary. His hands are near a shelf holding camera equipment, so he fires off a flashbulb in her face and does a Stealth Hi/Bye.
  • Ultraman 80 has a Monster of the Week, Alien Argo, an alien imposter who infiltrates the human world by posing as an esteemed researcher and public speaker. However he's extremely sensitive against flashing lights, getting paralyzed by fear when being photographed by paparazzis while in the form of a human — this allows Ultraman Eighty's human form, Takeshi Yamato, to deduce the researcher to be an alien imposter and in the final battle, use his natural Ultra-light to turn the tide of battle.


  • Roger Waters asked his fans not to bring cameras and video recorders to his Athens performance (and at least a few others) of The Wall 2012. The Athens show was being filmed for a DVD release, and the flashes and lights would have completely ruined the projections.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Paranoia supplement Acute Paranoia, adventure "Me and My Shadow Mark IV". The PCs' mission equipment includes a lightbot named Mikey, who was intended to be a photographer's assistant. If the word "light" is used around him he'll start flashing lights in the unfortunate character's eyes, blinding him.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Sesame Street: At the beginning of Elmo's World: Cameras, Elmo is briefly blinded by the flash of the paparazzi-like cameras.

  • In Christopher Durang's play The Actor's Nightmare just before the Show Within a Show starts there's an announcement that no flash photography is allowed - and then when George comes out there's immediately a bunch of flash photography, blinding him.

    Video Games 
  • The video game Academy of Champions: Soccer has one character use a weaponized camera flash as a special move that blinds other players.
  • In Eternal Darkness, Peter Jacob (a WWI journalist) has a flash pan with a limited amount of powder which he can use to stun enemies (which is good, since you don't really start off with any particularly powerful weapons in that chapter).
  • In Fallout 3, your character being blinded by one on his birthdays as a child is used to transition to the next point of your character's childhood/the tutorial.
  • The scanner enemies in Half-Life 2 do this if you're looking at them when they photograph you (this is pretty much the only hazard they pose, apart from occasionally giving your position away to a strider).
  • In the Home Alone Licensed Game for the Sega Genesis, one of the weapons Kevin can assemble is a flashbulb shotgun, which provides this effect on Harry and Marv.
  • In Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, Zelda has somehow weaponized the camera flash of her Sheikah Slate; she uses its camera function as her special attack when equipped with the slate.
  • When Dorothy (a news photographer) is in the party as an NPC in The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, she sometimes takes pictures of the monsters, which can inflict Blind.
  • Cameras in NetHack do this to enemies; the Tourist player-class starts the game with one.
  • Spelunky can give the player a camera which will stun enemies (or kill them if they're weak enough); when used on the indestructible Ghost, it causes him to pause briefly and pose. The flash can also be used to illuminate darkened levels.
  • In Super Paper Mario, Francis can use his camera to make the screen go white temporarily. He doesn't try to capitalize on it, so it's purely for the sake of annoyance.
  • The second stage in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game had a unique paparazzi enemy, every snap of the flashbulb stunned your character (the ability was even called 'flash stun' in the credits) it doesn't do damage but stalls the character enough to let other enemies gang up on you.
  • ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron features Hawaiian Shirted Tourists who use their camera flash as a weapon.
  • This is one of Frank West's moves in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
  • In World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, the Venture Company in Stormsong Valley has reporters that will do this to the player.


    Web Original 
  • The React episode about a '90s camera has several of the kids try to take a selfie. Needless to say, they find out why this didn't catch on until the invention of cell phone cameras.

    Western Animation 
  • This happens to Zach at the beginning of the Adventures from the Book of Virtues episode "Honesty", when he touches his dad's camera and accidentally breaks it.
  • Muttley does it again, to Dick Dastardly, in the Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines episode "Lens a Hand".
  • In the Donald Duck cartoon "Grand Canyonscope", Donald asks the ranger to photograph him atop his burro. The flash blinds the burro, leaving him stumbling along the steep Grand Canyon trail.
  • In the "school photo" episode of Doug, there's a Running Gag about people being blinded by the camera and wandering around dizzily.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy had an entire episode revolving around a camera.
  • Often used as a Running Gag in Eek! The Cat.
  • In Filmation's Ghostbusters, a camera-like device called the Ecto-Strobe sometimes has this effect on ghosts.
  • In the Goofy cartoon "How to Play Football", a player is blinded by flashbulbs and fumbles the ball. He scores only because no one else can catch the ball, and he eventually stumbles upon it at the goal line.
  • This happens in an episode of The BBC's kids' show Kerwhizz when contestant Ninki is trying out her new camera on her canine companion Pip, much to his annoyance.
  • In The Little Rascals episode "All the Loot That's Fit to Print", photographer Alfalfa gets this when he tries to take a picture of Darla and Waldo, but mistakenly turns the flash toward himself.
  • Happens to Mr. Bogus in the claymation short shown after the second act of the episode "Lights, Camera, Bogus", when he attempts to take a picture of himself and checks the camera to find out why it didn't go off earlier.
  • The Pink Panther, in the short "Smile Pretty, Say Pink!", mistakes a case of camera flashbulbs for eggs and swallows them. Every time he hiccups, he goes off in a flash from the bulbs, blinding a bear in a cave and, after entering a photographer's darkroom, ruining the photographer's negatives.
  • Used on The Simpsons as a weapon against crazed robot Itchys and Scratchys at Itchy and Scratchy Land. Flashing them with cameras caused their brains to go haywire.
  • Twice used in Sonic Boom.
    • In "Next Top Villain", Dave takes a pic of himself to celebrate his presumed victory, only to blind himself and lose control of his stolen Octopus Bot long enough for Sonic to stop it.
    • In the first season finale "It Takes a Village to Defeat a Hedgehog", after Shadow beats the tar out of Sonic and has him at his mercy, fanboy Eggman decides to take a premature "victory selfie" with him as celebration for finally defeating his archnemesis... and he forgets to turn the camera's flash off, blinding Shadow. Even worse, Sonic's down but not out, so he gets back up, runs over to Shadow, and knocks him away with a wicked right uppercut while he can't do anything to stop it, causing the dark hedgehog to abandon the fight because he can't take Sonic down properly with Eggman around. Whoops.
  • In one episode of Wacky Races, Muttley photographs Penelope Pitstop during the race. Penelope is blinded so severely by the flash that she has to stop driving momentarily.

    Real Life 
  • On top of museums banning photography (usually flash) to sell their own mementos, there's the problem of this. You're bound to have someone take a flash photograph every minute or so, dizzying everyone present. There's also the fact that, in the case of precious paintings and other valuable displays, lots and lots of flash photography can wear out colors.
  • It's also the reason why there's no flash photography allowed during plays of any sort.
  • Vincent Price particularly disliked it, and had a firm rule against it when giving lectures.
  • Supposedly what killed Diana, Princess of Wales: The paparazzi following her blinded the driver with incessant picture taking, causing him to lose control.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Blinding Flash


Francis camera

Francisâ camera flash turns the screen completely white for a few seconds.

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